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TCU visits No. 21 Oklahoma State Saturday
By: Mark Kern - StatFox
Published: 10/19/2013  at  3:30:00 AM
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TCU HORNED FROGS (3-3)
at OKLAHOMA STATE COWBOYS (4-1)

Kickoff: Saturday, 12:00 p.m. ET
Line: Oklahoma State -7, Total: 50.5

The two favorites in the Big 12 at the beginning of the season square off Saturday in what is looking like an elimination game for a conference championship as TCU travels to Stillwater to take on No. 21 Oklahoma State.

The preseason rankings had this as the deciding game in the race for the conference championship. For TCU, big things were expected in large part due to the fact that Casey Pachall was supposed to be the star quarterback. However, a forearm injury has put him out of the lineup, even though backup QB Trevone Boykin gives the Horned Frogs a dynamic playmaker on offense. However, the defense of TCU has underachieved this season, and star DL Devonte Fields announced that he is done for the season and will seek a medical redshirt. Last season, the Cowboys had their way with the Horned Frogs, running away with a 36-14 victory in Stillwater, and they get to be home again for this year's matchup. In last year's win, Josh Stewart had 120 receiving yards for Oklahoma State, as it gained 471 total yards on offense. However, two key players in that win were QB Wes Lunt and RB Joseph Randle, and now the team relies on QB J.W. Walsh and RB Jeremy Smith. The Cowboys have been great under Mike Gundy when favored at home, going 17-4 ATS (81%) in games they were giving between 3.5 and 10 points. However, Gary Patterson is 41-27 ATS (60%) after an ATS loss since becoming the head coach of TCU.

Who will prevail in this Big 12 showdown on Saturday? For the answer, connect to College Football Best Bets for all the StatFox Experts picks throughout the 2013 regular season and bowl season. The experts continued their hot streak in college football Best Bets with a strong 64% ATS record (14-8-2) this past week, highlighted by StatFox Brian's perfect 6-0 ATS mark. The four experts are now a combined 59% ATS (75-52-5) for the season. StatFox Gary is a sizzling 73% ATS (11-4-1) in college football Best Bets over the past five weeks and 63% ATS (12-7-1) this year. StatFox Brian is also at 63% ATS (17-10-1) for the year in Best Bets, while StatFox Scott is 59% ATS (13-9-2) on Best Bets in the past four weeks and 57% ATS (21-16-2) for the season. StatFox Dave is 71% ATS (12-5-1) on Best Bets in the past three weeks and 57% ATS (22-17) for the season.

For TCU, it had a chance in the season opener to prove what it had. Despite falling 37-27 to LSU, there were many positives that could be taken out of that game. The special teams scored a touchdown, the offense showed moments and the defense at time was able to get pressure on Zach Mettenberger. However, since that game, things have not gone smooth. In a 27-17 victory over lowly Kansas last weekend, the Horned Frogs turned the ball over a staggering five times. For TCU to win this game, they must hold on to the ball, and establish the run like last week when it eclipsed 200 rushing yards for just the second time this season. If the offense can play turnover-free football, then the Horned Frogs have a shot for this upset as they have possibly the most talented secondary in all of the Big 12. Jason Verrett and Kevin White have the ability to lock down any receiver, and they must be on their game to go up against guys like Stewart and Tracy Moore.

Oklahoma State's 2013 campaign had major promise going into the season, but a disappointing trip to Morgantown put those plans on hold. However, the Cowboys are still 4-1 on the season and control their own destiny of making it to a BCS bowl. After winning the quarterback job on the heels of a Week 1 victory over Mississippi State, Walsh has continued to play very well. On the season, he has thrown for 1,209 yards and nine touchdowns, while only tossing only three interceptions. However, it is the ability to make plays with his feet that has made Walsh very difficult to stop. He is able to get on the perimeter and puts the defender in no-man's land. One thing that has hurt the Cowboys is the dropped passes by all of the receivers. Top WR Josh Stewart, one of the best in the Big 12, dropped a would-be touchdown in the Cowboys last game against Kansas State, a drop that almost cost his team the win. The big-play opportunities are going to be limited against the TCU secondary, so the Cowboys must take advantage when they present themselves. On defense, Oklahoma State has a star in the secondary as well in Justin Gilbert. He currently has two interceptions, and has the potential to take it for a touchdown on any pick. Both secondaries are very opportunistic, and the difference in this game may be which group forces the key turnover. OSU forced five turnovers last week and has a strong +7 turnover margin for the season with 12 takeaways and just five giveaways.

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