It’s déjà vu all over again for Oklahoma and TCU in the Big 12 Championship game, and it’s been guaranteed ever since the league announced it was renewing a postseason title game to decide its football champion.
That’s the downside of a league with a round-robin schedule offering a championship game is the certainty of a rematch. And in this case, that rematch could ruin the chances for the Sooners, who likely would be in good shape to reach the four-team College Football Playoff without it.
If nothing else, though, it’s one more chance to compete and sharpen things up before a hopeful run at another national title.
“You know each other better, there’s probably going to be less surprises,” Oklahoma Coach Lincoln Riley said this week. “Both teams are going to have a better feel for each other’s personnel. It comes down to winning your individual battles and playing great team football. That’s what it’s going to take for us to beat TCU. That’s what it’ll take for TCU to beat us.”
TCU is a distant longshot for making the playoff, coming in ranked No. 11. In fact, there isn’t enough carnage that could get the Horned Frogs to the final four, unless a few programs drop football between now and New Year’s Day. But it still would be a great finish to the season for Coach Gary Patterson’s troops to bounce back from a rough 2016 to claim a league title.
The first meeting in early November in Norman saw the Sooners jump all over TCU in the first half. Behind Rodney Anderson’s four first-half touchdowns and a punishing defensive OU had a 38-14 lead by halftime and cruised home from there.
Since then, TCU has lost top running back Darius Anderson to an injury and finds what would seem to be a tall mountain to climb. Sounds kind of like the perfect scenario for Patterson to motivate his troops.
TCU is going to come out, and try to play fair and square, and play as hard a football game as we can,” Patterson said. “I’ve already told my group they need to keep their mouths shut. They need to go play. Period. That’s what we’re there for. If you’re going to have a championship game, it needs to be represented by champions.”