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No. 12 Oklahoma goes to TCU with Big 12 chance
By STEPHEN HAWKINS
FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) Oklahoma receiver Justin Brown and his teammates know the clear-cut scenario that will guarantee them getting into a BCS game.
That would include the Sooners being in the unusual position of having to pull for decades-long archrival Texas.
First things first for 12th-ranked Oklahoma (9-2, 7-1 Big 12), which plays its regular-season finale Saturday with a pre-noon kickoff at TCU.
"We have to go out there and take care of business," Brown said. "We can't really worry about the Kansas State-Texas game. We have to make sure we can get this one. ... We can't start talking about BCS right now. We've got to just stay focused on TCU."
The Sooners are assured at least a share of the conference title with a win over the Horned Frogs (7-4, 4-4), the two-time BCS buster that has done just fine in its first Big 12 season.
If the Sooners win their game, they should be back in Norman in time to watch Saturday night's game between No. 7 Kansas State and the 23rd-ranked Longhorns.
Wins by Oklahoma and Texas would make the Sooners outright Big 12 champs and send them to their ninth BCS game under coach Bob Stoops, even though another national title is out of reach.
"They play later at night. All I know is we've got to win at 11 o'clock and there's opportunities for championships," said Stoops, 148-36 in his 14 seasons at Oklahoma. "Who knows what will happen in their game and who knows what will happen in ours. So, in the end, that's where it's at right now."
The Sooners have won seven Big 12 games in a row since losing their conference opener 24-19 against the Wildcats on Sept. 22. That loss more than two months ago gave K-State the head-to-head tiebreaker if that's needed to determine which team gets the league's automatic BCS spot.
Their only other loss was 30-13 a month ago against No. 1 Notre Dame, which is already set to play in the BCS national title game.
Even while playing an FBS-high 28 freshmen, including starting quarterback Trevone Boykin and several key defenders, the Horned Frogs are headed to another bowl game under coach Gary Patterson after making the long-awaited move to a major conference.
TCU has won four Big 12 road games.
"We have a chip on our shoulder, we always play our best games on the road, know we have to got to go in there and beat the crowd," said cornerback Jason Verrett, the Big 12 leader in interceptions (six) and passes defended (19).
Strangely enough, though, the Frogs have lost all three of their conference games in their completely redone stadium that debuted this season. TCU had won 27 of 28 home games before that.
This is their last chance to shade in at least part of a very noticeable unblemished spot on their pyramid of goals - the square about winning conference home games.
"We've got to find a way to win at home," Patterson said. "If I could have changed uniforms, probably would have. You have to request that before the season, but we would have worn white at home. It seems like we play better in white."
TCU, which won 20-13 at Texas on Thanksgiving night, lost 23-10 in its last home game to Kansas State. The Wildcats moved into the No. 1 spot in the BCS standings after that, and stayed there only a week before a loss at Baylor that could greatly benefit OU.
The Sooners have a four-game winning streak, extending that by winning wild, high-scoring games the last two weeks. They won 50-49 with a touchdown in the final minute at West Virginia and then needed a tying touchdown with 4 seconds left in regulation last Saturday against Oklahoma State before winning 51-48 in overtime.
"It's hard to come back and be focused and be all into a game whenever you have these emotional games, I know for sure, because it's draining," senior quarterback Landry Jones said. "It's exhausting to play in those games and it's hard to get back up for practice, it's hard to forget about that game and move on to the next opponent.
"I think we're going to have to do a good job of, yes, remembering this game but moving on to the next opponent, which is TCU," he said.
The Frogs have the Big 12's top overall defense, allowing only 324 yards a game. They give up 23 points a game, second in the league.
TCU was coming off its only losing season under Patterson when the Frogs won their 2005 opener at Oklahoma. The Sooners won the last matchup in 2008, and were already scheduled to play in Fort Worth this season even before the Frogs joined the Big 12.
When Stoops was asked how his team would bounce back after that emotional Bedlam victory over Oklahoma State, the coach said that wasn't even an issue.
"I don't know why it would. In the end, there's nothing to bounce back from. Everything's in front of us," he said. "We've got a big game, an opportunity ... with championship implications. All of that in front of you. So if anything, I would think it'd give you some momentum."
Updated November 30, 2012