STILLWATER — It was another week of batting .500 in 5 Bold Predictions with last week’s game against Iowa State. Sanders’ streak of turnovers continued, and the Cyclones battered the Cowboy defense with its tight end. But with the return of Tyler Lacy adding help to that defensive front for OSU, they were able to get pressure on Brock Purdy and did manage two sacks – though getting him to throw three interceptions was more impactful – while also keeping Breece Hall in check (for the most part).
1. OSU’s offense won’t reach its average for yards.
TCU has managed to stay at or above .500 on the season and in Big 12 play, but not because of its offense. The Horned Frogs’ defense ranks first in the conference in yards allowed, giving up just 304.7 per game – though it inflates a bit to 327 in league games but still ranks first.
“We are playing probably the best defense we’ve seen all year,” Gundy said. “They are really good on defense, solid up front. Maybe the best front six that I can remember them having. I think they have NFL players in the secondary.” However, the scoring per game doesn’t quite match the yards allowed for TCU. The Horned Frogs rank fifth in the league in scoring average at 25 points per game – just five points better than Oklahoma State’s defense.
The Cowboys, who are second in the Big 12 with 505.7 yards per game, may not be able to get the chunk plays like they did at Iowa State, which will mean OSU will need to put together sustainable drives and finish in the red zone – which hasn’t been great this season.
2. Hubbard will be held under 150 yards rushing
It hasn’t happened much this season – just twice in meaningful games, in fact.
Chuba Hubbard has rushed for less than 150 yards in three games this season – McNeese, in which he had just eight rush attempts, Texas (138 yards) and last week at Iowa State (126). And the Texas game was the only one in which he failed to average at least 4.5 yards per rush attempt – finishing that game with a 3.3 average.
His 126 last week against the Cyclones was against the league’s second-best rushing defense, and it was boosted by his 65-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. But now Hubbard will face the best rushing defense in the Big 12 with TCU, which is allowing 103.7 yards per game on the ground. Granted, the Horned Frogs haven’t played a talent like the country’s leading rusher, they have not allowed an individual running back to even rush for 100 yards in a game this season.
3. Sanders will rush for 100 yards.
While TCU has been good against the running backs, it has had one game in which it allowed a 100-yard rushing individual. That was none other than Iowa State quarterback Brock Purdy, who had 12 carries for 102 yards in the Cyclones’ 49-24 dismantling of TCU – the only game this year the Horned Frogs have given up 40 points. And that’s not necessarily an aberration for the TCU defense. In the contest against Texas, veteran dual-threat quarterback Sam Ehlinger rushed for 43 yards with a 4.8 average.
Oklahoma State’s first-year starting quarterback, Spencer Sanders, is averaging 62.5 rushing yards per game this season with a 4.7 average per carry. He has eclipsed 100 yards rushing in two games – Oregon State and Texas, both of which he ran for 109 yards. And Sanders is surely a better running quarterback than Purdy and Ehlinger. If TCU slows down Hubbard, Sanders may still be able to hurt the Horned Frogs in the ground game.
4. OSU will lose the turnover battle.
It may seem too obvious, considering Oklahoma State’s turnover issues of late with Spencer Sanders – who at least snapped a five-game streak of two turnovers by limiting it to just one at Iowa State, which lost the turnover battle to the Cowboys. But there’s more to this than the obvious.
While Oklahoma State’s young quarterback has turned the ball over quite a bit in Big 12 Conference play, TCU’s own freshman quarterback, Max Duggan, has been the complete opposite. In seven games – in which he’s split some time with Alex Delton – Duggan has 11 touchdown passes to just one interception (which came last week against Texas) on 169 pass attempts. However, what could make it an intriguing scenario in the battle to protect the ball is stripping the ball away. TCU has put the ball on the ground 17 times this season – losing eight of them – while its defense has only managed six fumbles, with zero recoveries. It has, however, recorded nine interceptions.
5. Cowboy defense will struggle to get off the field.
Oklahoma State’s defense showed some signs of life at Iowa State, forcing three interceptions in the final quarter, and more importantly getting off the field on third down. The Cowboys held the Cyclones’ offense a 31% clip on third downs – converting 5 of 16 in the game. But that may not come so easily for Oklahoma State on Saturday.
While TCU’s offense ranks fifth in scoring in Big 12 games at 32.3 – just ahead of OSU – and seventh in total yards, the Horned Frogs have been impressive in sustaining drives on offense. TCU has converted on 50.8% of third down plays in league play, with Texas’ 52.6% being the only better offense. By comparison, OSU’s offense ranks seventh at 34.7% by converting just 34 of 98 attempts. However, Oklahoma State’s defense has shown improvement in league play in getting off the field. In fact, the Cowboys rank first in the Big 12 in limiting opponents on third down conversions in conference games. Opponents have converted just 30.3% of third down attempts, with TCU’s defense not far off at 33.3% — which ranks fourth.