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Oklahoma State at TCU primer

10/15/2014

A year ago, then-No. 21 Oklahoma State held on late for a 24-10 victory over TCU in Stillwater. Plenty has changed for the Horned Frogs since then, especially for Trevone Boykin.

He struggled against Oklahoma State a year ago, throwing three interceptions, but is as improved a player for No. 12 TCU as there is in the conference. The No. 15 Pokes, meanwhile, are right back where they were a year ago: out to prove they belong in the Big 12 title discussion.

Who has the edge in this top-25 showdown in Fort Worth? Brandon Chatmon and Max Olson break down the matchup.

How Oklahoma State can control the game: The Cowboys need to somehow find a running game and the balance that would bring to the offense, even though it won’t be easy against TCU’s defensive interior, led by Chucky Hunter. The Horned Frogs will look to stop the run and harass Oklahoma State quarterback Daxx Garman into mistakes. Garman will need to show calmness in the pocket and make good decisions, because more than one turnover could doom the Cowboys chances of a road win. But a solid running game and an active defense would put Oklahoma State on the road to its sixth straight win. -- Chatmon

How TCU can control the game: One thing that gets easily forgotten about TCU's performance in the 61-58 loss to Baylor after all those points: The Frogs took an early 14-0 lead and held on to it for most of the first quarter. Had they not had to punt on their next two drives after those scores, they could have made it a three-score game and blown the game open, perhaps changing Baylor's game plan. Another fast start would definitely help this week, as would some defensive takeaways. TCU also has to play much smarter in coverage, because Garman likes to throw just as many deep balls as Petty does. -- Olson

Oklahoma State’s X-factor: Tyreek Hill has the ability to change games with his explosive big-play ability, but Josh Furman is emerging as a difference-maker on the defensive side of the ball for Mike Gundy’s team. The Michigan transfer could become a key asset against TCU as a former safety who lines up at linebacker in Oklahoma State's defense. Furman’s ability to have an impact on the game against the run or pass could be critical against Boykin and TCU’s offense, and he has the ability to spy on Boykin, if needed, on Saturday. A great game from Furman would be a terrific place to start for the Cowboys. -- Chatmon

TCU's X-factor: He doesn't get much credit for making this offense go, but B.J. Catalon quietly continues to get it done. He's accounted for eight touchdowns on the year -- six rushing, one receiving and his kick-return TD against Baylor -- and could be on pace for 1,000 total yards by season's end. He does an invaluable job of taking pressure off Boykin, which will be necessary this week. -- Olson

What a win would mean for Oklahoma State: The Cowboys were playing possum. Or at least that’s what it looked like. The Cowboys haven’t been dominant but have been undefeated, going 5-0 since a season-opening loss to Florida State. A road victory over TCU would remind the Big 12 that the Cowboys are going to have their say in the conference title race and give plenty of confidence to an inexperienced roster. -- Chatmon

What a win would mean for TCU: Not only would knocking off the Pokes wipe out the bitter taste of TCU's fourth-quarter collapse in Waco, it would provide another legitimate achievement in what's becoming a respectable College Football Playoff resume. Had TCU held on against Baylor, we'd be talking about them as one of the nation's best this week. The Horned Frogs can begin to push their way back into that discussion with a convincing victory Saturday. -- Olson