1. How will TCU respond to last week’s loss?
Answer: TCU jumped out to a 14-0 lead early in the game, and seemed to be taking the field with a vengeance. However, the Frogs surrendered 36 unanswered points in the remaining three-and-a-half quarters. Fatigue appeared to set in on both sides of the ball in the second half and TCU couldn’t find a rhythm. Center James Fry said the team “quit” in the game. The Horned Frogs’ 2-of-14 third down success rate could be a reflection of that.
2. How will Oklahoma State’s quarterback change affect its offense?
Answer: Wes Lunt got the start under center for the Oklahoma State, and struggled early. The Cowboy offense was stagnant in the first half, mustering only three field goals in the first two quarters. Lunt found his groove in the second half and finished the game with 324 yards and a touchdown through the air. The Frogs held Cowboy running back Joseph Randle to less than four yards per carry, but his 126 yards and two touchdowns on 32 carries were enough to keep the TCU defense honest and open up the passing game in the second half. Lunt connected with six different receivers in the game and marched the ball down the field in the second half. The Pokes scored 27 points in the final two quarters.
3. What will the final turnover margin be?
Answer: Oklahoma State committed two turnovers, while TCU turned the ball over three times. Both Cowboy turnovers came in the first quarter: an interception returned 11 yards for a touchdown, and a fumble recovered by TCU on the ensuing kickoff. The Frogs went three-and-out following the fumble recovery. Oklahoma State’s three takeaways all came in the fourth quarter. The Pokes took only a nine-point lead into the fourth quarter, but stopped a 10-play Horned Frog drive at the Oklahoma State 21-yard line by forcing a fumble by TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin. The final two Horned Frog turnovers came in the final three minutes of the game, when the outcome was all but decided. A Boykin pass was intercepted and returned to the one-yard line, and Matt Brown threw an interception on the final play of the game. Takeaways were pivotal in the Frogs getting on the board early, and the team could not create the same opportunities in the final three quarters.
4. How will TCU’s secondary handle Oklahoma State’s height at receiver?
Answer: Oklahoma State came at TCU with a different game plan than Texas Tech did the week before. The Frogs weren’t hurt by the jump ball in the endzone like they were against the Red Raiders. What hurt the TCU defense was the speed of Josh Stewart and Joseph Randle. Stewart, the Cowboys’ leading receiver in 2012, hauled in six passes for 120 yards, while Randle caught five passes for 37 yards coming out of the backfield. Lunt was able to rely on those two for consistent targets to get his rhythm throughout the second half Saturday. The deep ball hurt the Frogs, as Lunt completed four passes that gained 35 or more yards (a fifth such play was called back due to an Oklahoma State holding penalty). Oklahoma State’s 6-foot-3 tight end Blake Jackson did have three catches for 94 yards in the game, but the height of the Cowboy receivers was not what hurt the Frogs the most in the aerial attack.
5. Will TCU’s travel schedule take a toll on the team come game time?
Answer: The Horned Frogs made the seventy-mile drive from Tulsa to Stillwater before Saturday’s game. Patterson said he thought the team had “a great travel plan,” but described said his team looked “flat” during the pregame workouts. It can’t be proven whether the travel schedule played a role in the loss, but TCU started the game slowly on offense. The 14-0 lead was created by a defensive touchdown and an offensive drive ignited by a 46-yard run by freshman B.J. Catalon. Outside of those two plays, the Frogs were almost entirely ineffective on the offensive side of the ball from start to finish.