🏈 OU returns home to face TCU
Oklahoma is playing its first game back in Norman in three weeks after a wild two-game road trip.
✌🏽 Happy Friday, friends. There’s a football game tomorrow in Norman. Let’s ride.
🤔 Trivia: Since 2000, Oklahoma has lost only one time in its first game to follow the Red River Showdown. Which Big 12 school has the lone win? [Answer in footnotes]
🔑 Keys to the game
Following September’s surplus of OU home games, the Sooners are back at home on Saturday for the first time in three weeks.
In that last home game on Sept. 25, a vocal section of OU fans chanted “We Want Caleb” as the Sooners’ offense sputtered far too often against an inferior West Virginia team. I’m honestly shocked they’ll more than likely be getting exactly what they want when TCU arrives in Norman on Saturday.
No, Lincoln Riley hasn’t announced a starting quarterback. But let’s say freshman quarterback Caleb Williams is the starter hypothetically. Here are the keys to victory for all three phases.
Key for the OU offense: Run the dang ball. Seriously, run the dang ball. TCU's run defense ranks second to last in the Big 12. The 206.0 rushing yards the Horned Frogs are allowing per game is only better than Kansas' average of 260.3 rushing yards allowed. Establishing the run, specifically with a red-hot Kennedy Brooks, will be massive for the Sooners, who seemed to turn a corner a week ago vs. the Longhorns. Life will be especially difficult for TCU if it is Caleb Williams who is the starter. Williams, who is averaging 16.6 rushing yards a carry, showed off his wheels against Texas and should open up OU’s offense even more against the Frogs.
Key for the OU defense: This one is tricky. TCU quarterback Max Duggan is questionable, and whether or not he plays, you’d think Frogs coach Gary Patterson will be eager to attack OU’s struggling secondary. The only problem is the Frogs have leaned on their rushing attack, led by running back Zach Evans, who’s one of the best running backs in the conference. Evans is also questionable for Saturday, which could create a few problems for the Frogs if both Duggan and Evans are unable to go.
Key for the OU special teams: If Michael Turk can continue to hit on 85-yard punts, that would be swell for this unit. Other than that, limiting JD Spielman will be key in the kick return game. That is if he's available this week. He missed TCU's game against Texas Tech last Saturday.
💭 The pick
Oklahoma 42, TCU 28. It feels borderline wrong to pick OU to win by more than a touchdown, because it’s yet to beat an FBS opponent by more than seven points. I’ll go a little safe here, picking OU to separate itself by 14 points and flex its offense, presumably led by Caleb Williams, for the first time in Norman this season.
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💵 Lincoln financial
USA Today released its annual college football head coach salaries database on Thursday.
Lincoln Riley checked in with the fifth-highest salary in the sport, making nearly $7.7 million a year in total pay.
The closest Big 12 head coach salary to Riley is TCU's Gary Patterson with $6.1 million annually. Texas' Steve Sarkisian is making $5.5 million in his first season in Austin. Oklahoma State's Mike Gundy checks in with $4.2 million and just barely cracks the top-30 highest paid coaches.
👨🍳 Baker vs. Kyler🥋
Former Oklahoma teammates, Heisman Trophy winners and No. 1 NFL Draft picks Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray are set to meet in Cleveland on Sunday.
The Browns and Cardinals are scheduled for a 3 p.m. kickoff on FOX, which will be available for Oklahoma City and Tulsa viewers, as well as most of the state.
Ahead of the game, ESPN’s Jake Trotter has the story on how two of the NFL’s most high-profile quarterbacks pushed each other in Norman. It’s well worth your time.
⏰ On this day
Thirty-eight years ago today, Oklahoma came back from a 17-point, fourth-quarter deficit to beat Oklahoma State 21-20. Tim Lashar drilled a 46-yard field goal with just over a minute remaining to seal the Sooners' win. This was the game Lashar executed an onside kick that ricocheted off of an Oklahoma State player's helmet and led to OU recovering the ball.
Kansas State in 2014.