Everything you need to know about the Big 12 championship game
10:13 AM ET
Sam Khan Jr.
CloseESPN Staff WriterCovers Texas A&M and the SEC.Joined ESPN in 2012.Graduate of the University of Houston.
CloseESPN Staff WriterCovers the Big 12Joined ESPN.com in 2011Graduate of Washington & Lee University
For the first time since 2010, the Big 12 will host a championship game. On Saturday at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, No. 3 Oklahoma will take on No. 11 TCU in a battle for the championship.
There’s plenty on the line. Here’s a guide to everything you need to know about the game (12:30 p.m. ET, FOX).
Star player for Oklahoma: QB Baker Mayfield
A virtual lock to win the Heisman, Mayfield has established himself as the best player in college football this season, regardless of position. He torched TCU for 333 yards passing, 50 rushing and three touchdowns in their first meeting, which was over by halftime.
Star player for TCU: QB Kenny Hill
If the Horned Frogs are going to win Saturday, they need a good, productive and clean game from Hill. He has taken good care of the football this season, with a nearly 4-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio (19 touchdowns, five interceptions). The first time these teams met, he was just 13-for-28 passing (46.4 percent completion rate). If he can get closer to his season average (66.6 percent) and take care of the football, it bodes well for TCU.
Player to watch for Oklahoma: RT Bobby Evans
All-American Orlando Brown gets all the attention, but Evans is quietly having an all-conference-caliber season as well. He’ll be key this weekend, considering TCU has a pair of stout ends in Mat Boesen and Ben Banogu.
Player to watch for TCU: WR KaVontae Turpin
The Horned Frogs’ all-purpose yardage leader is the most explosive offensive player they have. Between his receptions, carries, kick returns and punt returns, the junior averages 15.3 yards per play (sixth in the Big 12), and he leads the team with 1,041 all-purpose yards. He had a 56-yard kickoff return in the teams’ first meeting and caught four passes for 59 yards. The Horned Frogs will likely look to get him more involved Saturday.
X factor for Oklahoma: K Austin Seibert
Seibert hasn’t missed a field goal since Oklahoma’s Oct. 7 loss to Iowa State. Considering that TCU owns the No. 1 red zone defense in the Big 12, Seibert will be key to the Sooners’ getting points, should the offense stall out.
Senior defensive end Mat Boesen leads the Big 12 in sacks with 11.5 and is an X factor for the Horned Frogs this weekend. David Stacy/Icon Sportswire/Getty Images
X factor for TCU: DE Mat Boesen
The senior defensive end leads the Big 12 in sacks with 11.5, 5.5 of which came in the regular-season finale against Baylor. He didn’t get to play much the first time TCU and Oklahoma played because he was ejected in the second quarter for kicking at an Oklahoma player. If he’s able to play a full four quarters this time around, it’ll be a positive for the Horned Frogs, who have the conference’s most productive pass-rushing tandem of Boesen and Banogu (7.5 sacks).
Where Oklahoma is vulnerable: Pass defense
If it’s anywhere, it’s probably pass defense. Then again, the Sooners have been fairly decent against the pass since giving up 448 through the air in Bedlam. That includes holding Kenny Hill and TCU to a completion rate of 48 percent in the first meeting. TCU will have to test the Sooners over the top.
Where TCU is vulnerable: Safety
The Horned Frogs have the best pass defense in the Big 12 (allowing only 7.1 yards per attempt and 227.5 passing yards per game), but starting safety Nick Orr, who is tied for second on the team with 59 tackles, will be missing for the first half because he’s serving a suspension as the result of a fight in last week’s game against Baylor. The good news for TCU is it is regaining the services of Niko Small, who missed the past two games with an injury, and TCU proved without Small that it has quality depth at the position. But when going against an offense such as Oklahoma’s, you want everybody available, and that won’t be the case for the Horned Frogs until the third quarter begins.
What’s at stake?
For Oklahoma, a third consecutive Big 12 title and a trip to the College Football Playoff. TCU, meanwhile, will be going for revenge against the Sooners while trying for its second Big 12 championship and first outright title.
Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield, who has more than 4,000 yards passing and 37 touchdown passes, faces a challenge against the Big 12’s best pass defense. Mark D. Smith/USA TODAY Sports
Tale of the tape
Oklahoma passing game vs. TCU secondary
This is strength on strength. Mayfield has more than 4,000 yards passing, a completion rate of 71.4 percent, 37 touchdown throws and only five interceptions. The Horned Frogs, meanwhile, have the top pass defense in the Big 12. Opponents are completing just 51.6 percent of their passes against the Horned Frogs, which ranks 11th nationally, even with TCU playing in the pass-happy Big 12. The Horned Frogs won’t have Orr until the second half, but Small is expected to return to the lineup.
Oklahoma running game vs. TCU front seven
Oklahoma running back Rodney Anderson has been one of the most dominant offensive players in the Big 12 since mid-October. Anderson is averaging 6.3 yards per carry and ran for more than 100 yards in six of the Sooners’ past seven games. True freshman Trey Sermon has been a load as well, and Abdul Adams is capable. But this will be a test. The Horned Frogs have the No. 1 run defense in the Big 12, giving up an average of only 2.7 yards per carry and 90 yards per game.
TCU passing game vs. Oklahoma secondary
This is a battle the Sooners won the first time around, holding Hill to just 13-of-28 passing and one touchdown. The Sooners’ pass defense has been much maligned this Read More…
Via:: NDTV – Sports