NORMAN — Oklahoma has been more than OK in Big 12 title games.
The Sooners are 7-1 in the event, which returns Saturday after a six-year absence when No. 4 OU takes on No. 12 TCU at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas (Saturday, 11:30 a.m. FOX).
But defeating the Horned Frogs again, following OU’s 38-20 victory Nov. 11 in Norman, presents an interesting final hurdle before Sooner coach Lincoln Riley and Co. can schedule a trip to the College Football Playoff.
“It’s two different games,” Riley said. “Nothing from the first one is gonna matter. They were a really, really good team when we beat ‘em here and they’re still a really, really good team. You’re gonna have to play really well to beat ‘em. We realize that.”
TCU quarterback Kenny Hill returned from an injury and threw for 325 yards and three touchdowns in a 45-22 win last week over Baylor, but completed just 13 of 28 passes and ran for only 40 yards against the Sooners two weeks ago.
Whether OU (11-1) can limit Hill’s production again is a key storyline. West Virginia threw Sooner defensive coordinator Mike Stoops a wrinkle in OU’s 59-31 win Saturday, by scrapping its passing game and installing numerous direct-snap plays to Kennedy McCoy.
“They didn’t do anything we worked on all week,” Stoops said.
McCoy averaged 38.9 rushing yards coming in, but finished with 144 yards and three TDs. The Mountaineers went to offensive formations Kansas State used successfully against the Sooners earlier this year, when the Wildcats piled up 256 first-half rushing yards in Manhattan.
Given another opportunity against OU, TCU could opt for something similar using Hill.
“[Rematches have] never been easy, beating them once let alone twice,” Stoops said. “You’ve got to prepare for a lot of different things. You’ve got to be able to adjust your gameplan. … We’ve got to look at things that have given us some problems. The wildcat has given us problems the last two times.
“You saw a lot of the power plays into the middle part of our defense, and that’s something we haven’t defended very well, whether it was Kansas State or tonight.”
Beating a good team twice isn’t simple, but historically, the Sooners have fared well in this situation. Since the first Big 12 title game in 1996, OU has won three rematches while playing for the league crown, defeating Kansas State in 2000, Colorado in 2002 and Missouri in 2007.
The Horned Frogs (10-2) are out of CFP contention and thus relegated to a spoiler role, but Big 12 teams have relished that position in years past.
Five upsets have occurred in the game’s history. In OU’s lone loss, it went on to play for the national title in 2003 after being upset 35-7 by Kansas State for the Big 12 crown.
The Sooners, who lead the league in title game appearances (8), won’t have a record home crowd on their side this time against TCU, though Horned Frogs coach Gary Patterson didn’t see that as a major advantage for his team.
“This game won’t be at their place. It’s 20 minutes down the road,” he quipped.
Still, Patterson has something that aids all teams trying to avenge a previous loss.
One more try.
“You talk about playing against one of the top teams in the country again,” Riley said. “It’ll be our challenge. It’ll be a big challenge and we’ll have to be ready to play.”