We’re only halfway through the season so it’s hard to know for sure, but there’s a nonzero chance that when all is said and done and we look back at the 2022 college football season, this game will have been the major determinant for a playoff spot. It’s a battle of Big 12 undefeateds, as #8 Oklahoma State goes down to visit #13 TCU in what should be an absolute delight of a football game. Let’s check out the odds and make some predictions for this high-leverage matchup.
Oklahoma State Vs. TCU Odds
Oklahoma State are rolling into Texas as just more than a field goal underdog, as the number is sitting between 3.5-4 points at most books. The points total* is in the high 60s, checking in somewhere around 68.5 depending on your book, not a real shocker for a matchup between high-powered offenses.
*Note: I wasn’t able to get odds on this wager via tallysight; quoted values are from DraftKings
Oklahoma State Vs. TCU Prediction & Pick
After coming up just short of a conference title, and possibly a playoff berth, a year ago, Oklahoma State were seen as a clear contender to achieve those goals coming into this season. The story was quite different for TCU, who began the year as an unranked afterthought and stayed that way through their first 3 wins, finally launching into the poll after a 55-24 drubbing of Oklahoma, and flying even higher after winning a thrilling edition of College Gameday while visiting Kansas. The metrics love the Horned Frogs; EPA has them at 11th in the country, and regards their offense as one of the nation’s 5 best. PFF is a good bit less bullish on the team however, ranking them 36th overall and 14th for their offense. These two sources also disagree a bit on the Cowboys; PFF places them at #33 in the country, while in EPA, they’re 53rd.
TCU’s offense has been relatively balanced, as they’ve run on 53% of snaps and relied on the strength of QB Max Duggan’s performance for the other (approximate) half of the time, while Oklahoma state is averaging exactly 38.4 rushes AND passes per game. The ‘pokes have been more successful throwing the ball, however, averaging over 310 air yards per contest, most of which have been accrued by QB1 Spencer Sanders. The two starting quarterbacks in this matchup have both been efficient with the ball this year, combining for 26 touchdowns and 3 interceptions; we should see a lot of solid offense in this matchup.
On the defensive side of things, both sides are a little thinner, as is often the case with Big 12 programs, but there are some bright spots. Oklahoma State has a top-20 pass rush unit in the country, according to PFF, and TCU are a top-10 tackling defense in the country, an interesting wrinkle in a conference- and moreover, an era- where yards after the catch are often a major factor. Overall, TCU has been the more impressive team in year 1 under Sonny Dykes, who has done more of the excellent work we saw from him at SMU in the past. They’ve shown an ability to fly high, and to keep their heads about them and win closely-fought matchups, and I have them winning and covering the narrow spread at home. Regarding the total, both offenses are far superior to the defenses they’ll be going up against; I have no reservations betting the over here, both teams should get into the 30s with ease, and one or both sides breaking 40 would be an expectation of mine.
Oklahoma State Vs. TCU Key Matchups
Will Oklahoma St be able to slow down TCU on the ground? How will their secondary slow down OSU through the air? Check out the key matchups and mismatches for Oklahoma St vs TCU.
Oklahoma State Run Defense vs. TCU Rushing Offense
As we’ve already covered, TCU has a top-5 run game in the country, and I’m sure they’d love nothing more than to come out strong in this home game, assert their will on the ground and control the matchup from the word go. But they won’t be able to walk to victory as they have in some weeks- Oklahoma State’s run prevention isn’t what I’d call genuinely elite, but it’s certainly their strongest defensive facet, 50th in the nation according to EPA and a generous 24th by PFF’s estimation. They’ve been led by a redshirt senior edge rushing duo, Tyler Lacy and Brock Martin. Checking in at 6’3 and 6’4, they’ve been a force to be reckoned with all season long, earning PFF run-stopping grades of 88.8 and 82.2, respectively. Lacy in particular has been outstanding; he hasn’t missed a tackle yet this year, hasn’t committed a penalty, and his average depth of tackle is a miniscule half-yard, due in large part to 4.5 non-sack tackles for loss.
TCU has enjoyed a standout performance from running back Kendre Miller, who is averaging over 100 scrimmage yards per game and has found the end zone 6 times. Second running back Emari Demercardo is right behind Miller in terms of yards per carry with an average of 6.8, and he’s registered four touchdowns. Duggan himself has also gotten involved on the ground; he’s the team’s second-leading rusher in terms of yardage (204) and carries (32), and has scored 3 times in addition to his passing contributions. They’ve done all of this without the benefit of an elite line, as PFF sees the team’s run blocking as 48th-best in the country, and has not given a grade over 70 to a single significant TCU run-blocker. This could signal unsustainability to the Frogs’ rushing dominance; we’ll see if the Oklahoma State defensive front can take advantage of this relative weakness.
TCU Pass defense vs. Oklahoma State Air Attack
If there’s a route for Oklahoma State to win this one, it has to involve air dominance- TCU’s pass rush and coverage ability have both been the main serious weakness for an otherwise impressive group. We’ve already discussed Sanders’s prolific start to his senior season, in which he’s produced turnover worthy plays on just 2% of his opportunities; now let’s talk about his weapons. Braydon Johnson has been the deep threat, leading the team in yardage on just 17 catches, as he’s averaged 21.2 yards on each of those grabs. Brennan Presley leads the team with 26 catches, while Bryson Green has hauled in a team-best 4 touchdowns; there’s clearly defined roles for each player within the Cowboys’ passing attack. However, Sanders hasn’t been protected by an outstanding offensive line; they rank just 72nd in the nation in pass blocking.
They’ll be attacking a TCU pass defense that certainly has had its issues, ranking 82nd in coverage, and just outside the top-100 in pass rushing as per PFF. ULM transfer corner Josh Newton, who has held opposing receivers to a catch rate below 50%, is the only player with multiple interceptions, and safety Millard Bradford, with a team-high 3 passes broken up is the team’s highest-rated coverage defender on PFF. In regards to pressuring the QB, an approach that can be really effective against Sanders, linebacker Dee Winters leads the team with 3.5 sacks, but over half of that total was in the Oklahoma game alone. Of players with at least 60 pass rush snaps, the team’s best grade on PFF belongs to Dylan Horton, who checks in at an unspectacular 69.7, on the relative strength of a solid pass rush win rate of almost 17%. If Horton, Winters and others can get to Sanders and sack or even just hit him, their team could run away with this one. Otherwise, expect a veritable shootout.