Oklahoma St, TCU look to build on big wins
Oklahoma State and TCU are seeking consistency in their roller-coaster seasons.
It's been an odd four-game stretch for Oklahoma State. The Cowboys (5-3, 2-3 Big 12) earned a solid home victory over Kansas State, then followed it with losses to Texas Tech and Baylor. They bounced back with a road win over then-ranked Iowa State last week.
"It felt good," Oklahoma State defensive end Brock Martin said of the win. "We needed it because we had taken a couple of losses and I can't remember the last time we lost three in a row. To go into Ames, a tough place to play, and get a win really gets the morale up around here. Now, we want to take that into the next game."
TCU (4-3, 2-2) was on a downward spiral with losses to Iowa State and Kansas State, but the Horned Frogs recovered with a 37-27 win over Texas last week.
The Horned Frogs lead the Big 12 in total defense during league play and rank second in rushing defense, but TCU coach Gary Patterson said Oklahoma State running back Chuba Hubbard provides a major test. Hubbard leads the nation with 1,381 yards rushing and ranks second with 16 touchdowns.
"He's a track guy that plays football," Patterson said. "He has a really good burst, especially an inside burst, in the inside holes. I think that it's probably underrated. When he takes off, one step, he can get going. You've got to be able to play the run with all 11."
Hubbard is impressed with the Frogs.
"They play hard and physical," he said. "Pretty sure they are the best defense in the Big 12. They do a great job with everything they do so I am looking forward to it. They are a great defense. They fly around the ball.
BALANCING THE OFFENSE
Hubbard's success has led Oklahoma State to become a bit predictable. He averages 27 carries per game, something coach Mike Gundy would like to change.
"When we go in, everybody here knows that Chuba Hubbard is touching the ball too much — 30 times a game," Gundy said. "I think he only touched the ball 24 times against Iowa State and that was better."
FRESHMAN SIGNAL CALLERS
Patterson likes the growth he's seeing from quarterback Max Duggan, who had career-best totals of 19 completions and 273 yards passing against Texas. He also threw for two touchdowns and led with 72 yards on 13 carries. Duggan is just 10th in the league in passing efficiency, but Patterson pointed out that he is a true freshman.
"You guys want instant cocoa," Patterson said. "It's not that easy. They're still going to go through frustrations this Saturday, and probably the rest of the ballgames as he keeps growing up. But he's going to keep growing up, and we've seen signs of what I think that he's going to be like for TCU for the next 3 ½ years, counting this last half of the season."
Oklahoma State's Spencer Sanders has passed for 1,739 yards and rushed for 500.
TCU's versatile Jalen Reagor averages 96.6 all-purpose yards per game. He has 326 yards receiving, 232 returning punts, 64 rushing and 54 returning kickoffs. He averages 19.3 yards on punt returns, third-best in the nation.
"Obviously, we need to know where Jalen Reagor is," Gundy said. "He is a difference-maker and a really special talent."
Hubbard has taken some of the spotlight from Oklahoma State receiver Tylan Wallace, who remains among the nation's best. He has 53 catches for 903 yards and eight touchdowns. His yardage total ranks fourth nationally.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Oklahoma State linebacker Malcolm Rodriguez was named Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week for his performance against Iowa State. The junior linebacker scored the game-winning touchdown on a 26-yard interception return with 6:47 remaining. He led all players with 11 tackles. Rodriguez now ranks fourth in the Big 12 with an average of 8.3 tackles per game this season.