2017 Big 12 Championship Game Expert Picks: Oklahoma vs. TCU Predictions
Oklahoma Sooners vs. TCU Horned Frogs, Saturday Dec. 2, 12:30 p.m. ET
The Big 12 Championship Game - the first played by the conference since they went to 10 teams after the 2010 game - has very significant playoff implications, but only for one of these teams. If Oklahoma wins then they are a playoff team. If TCU wins, though, they have no chance of making the final four, but they will make things very interesting. They would open up a spot for an unexpected team - perhaps Clemson if they lose to Miami, Ohio State if they beat Wisconsin, or Alabama.
The game is virtually a home game for the Horned Frogs - AT&T Stadium is just 18 miles from TCU's home field. They will be very well represented in the stands in this one, but Norman is only 200 miles away and Oklahoma travels well, so the crowd should be fairly balanced.
Oklahoma at TCU Betting Storylines
The biggest issue that stands in the way of getting excited about this game is the first meeting between the teams. Oklahoma won it comfortably and did so in ways that feel entirely like they can be recreated here. Baker Mayfield had a strong game, they used his arm to create some running opportunities when needed, and the defense did enough when needed. TCU is a solid team, but they just don't have answers for that version of Oklahoma, and I feel confident that the Sooners can bring that team back to the field again. Oklahoma has showed up for their biggest games this year, and they showed incredible mental toughness shaking off the bizarre coaching change like it never happened. They aren't going to be intimidated, and that is tough news for the Horned Frogs.
The biggest thing that stands out for Oklahoma obviously is the offense. Baker Mayfield is all but a lock to win the Heisman, and he leads an offense that is tops in yards, second in passing yards, and fourth in total points. What really stands out most, though, is that the offense is so consistent - they have shown up for every game. They scored 31 points in that one loss, and they had a season low of a still solid 29 points against Texas. This is a flexible and adaptable offense that finds ways to exploit their opponents. It's going to cause issues for an aggressive TCU defense. Last time the teams met Oklahoma was surprisingly strong on the ground, with running back Rodney Anderson having a big day. The more TCU focuses on shutting down Anderson this time around, though, the more room they give Mayfield to play. But if they really sell out to contain Mayfield then Anderson will benefit. It's a very tough situation for TCU to cope with. TCU's defense has been strong lately, but this is an entirely different challenge.
Not to beat a dead horse, but TCU has another problem. QB Kenny Hill has been very good at times this year. Oklahoma really shut him down, though, and so did Iowa State. Typically an accurate passer, he completed less than half his passes both times. The recipe for success against him is out there, and we know Oklahoma can execute on that game plan. If TCU wants to keep up with Oklahoma then Hill needs to be tossing the ball around like crazy - they have to win a shootout. If I don't have faith that he can do that here then I can't have faith in TCU.
Oklahoma at TCU Odds and Betting Trends
The game opened with Oklahoma favored by 6.5 and that has moved up slightly to the key number of 7. Three-quarters of bets have been on the favorites, so it is quite likely we will see the line increase further. The total opened at 62.5 and has climbed by a point.
The Horned Frogs are just 2-8 ATS in their last 10 neutral-site games. They are 2-5 ATS in their last seven December games and 3-7 ATS in their last 10 against teams with winning records. The Sooners are 4-1 ATS in their last five conference games and 16-5 ATS in their last 21 against teams with winning records, but they are just 1-7 ATS in their last eight neutral-site games. Six of the last eight meetings between these squads has gone "under" the total.
Oklahoma at TCU Predictions and Picks
I like TCU fine, but when I first looked at this matchup before the number was set I had Oklahoma as 10.5-point favorites, and I still would have taken them at that price in all likelihood. The offense is legitimate, the confidence is high, and the coaching has been shockingly good. Oklahoma is just the better team, and it's not particularly close as I see. Oklahoma is the pick against the spread.
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