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No. 6 Oklahoma State, No. 16 TCU set for Big 12 battle

From FOX Sports - September 19, 2017

STILLWATER, Okla.Oklahoma State faced no resistance in romping to a 3-0 start and rising up the rankings.

TCU also stands 3-0, yet has arrived at the mark much differently, more strenuously, with a tough win at Arkansas and a rally past SMU last week.

So, which Big 12 teams start is more impressive?

No need to wonder long, with the teams set for a Saturday meeting at Boone Pickens Stadium for one of just two weekend matchups pairing Top 25 teams: the No. 6 Cowboys against the No. 16 Horned Frogs in the conference opener for both squads.

I think its the best group we will have played up to this point, said Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy. And theyre always going to challenge you.

TCU is going to hold its defensive call until the last second and theyre going to run with you. They recruit well. Their guys can tackle and move well, so itll be a challenge for all of us. Itll be a good game.

The Cowboys havent been in a good game yet, outscoring their opponents 162-52 while emptying the bench each weekend. Quarterback Mason Rudolph hasnt played in a fourth quarter, yet he ranks fourth nationally in passing yards per game (387.3) and second in touchdown passes (11).

Overall, Oklahoma State ranks third nationally in total offense, averaging 607 yards per game, and fourth in scoring with a 54.0 average.

Theyve been at a high level, said TCU coach Gary Patterson. For me, its how do I stop it and how do I slow it down? But (Rudolphs) doing a great job and thats what you get with a senior quarterback.

Patterson recognizes Rudolphs weaponry, too. In last weeks 59-21 rout at Pitta game the Cowboys had in hand at the halffour receivers topped the 100-yard mark.

Theyve got great guys on the outside, theyve got good guys on the inside who can work the middle, Patterson said. They can run by you vertically. They throw the jump ball. And theyve got good running backs.

TCU comes off a 56-36 win over SMU at just the right time, heading confidently into a matchup with the explosive Cowboys that may require a shootout for the Frogs to win.

Youre going to have to score some points against Oklahoma State to be able to win the ball game, Patterson said. We know that.

So, can the Horned Frogs keep up?

Quarterback Kenny Hill has played well in TCUs fast start, yet may need to do even more to outduel Rudolph. Hills career has seen a range of ups and downs. He tossed a Big 12-worst 13 interceptions a year ago, with 17 touchdowns, as the Frogs finished a disappointing 6-7.

In a 31-6 loss to Oklahoma State in Fort Worth, he was picked off twice as the offenses only score came after the Cowboys gave the ball away with a fumble at their own 6.

Through three games this season, however, Hill is completing 75 percent of his passes and has eight touchdowns against two interceptions.

I see a way different Kenny Hill, said Cowboys safety Tre Flowers. Hes making throws and it seems like hes leading them right now. Theyve rallied together and theyre making plays.

Hill is benefitting from a better supporting cast, too.

Wide receiver KaVontae Turpin, hampered by injuries a year ago, looks more like the explosive playmaker he was in 2015. Other receivers are producing as well, while steady running back Kyle Hicks continues to churn out yards and touchdowns behind an improved offensive line.

And still, the Horned Frogs are a decided underdog.

Thats the Big 12, Patterson said. Theyre a very good offense right now. They play well in Stillwater and we have to get ourselves ready to go.

TCU doesnt have history on its side, either, having never won a Big 12 game in the state of Oklahoma.

TCUs a good team, Gundy said. Theyre a legit, top-20 team. So youll have two good football teams playing Saturday.

Theyre better on offense, theyve got more skill. Theyre better on defense; theyre better tacklers. And they have skill on special teams. In all phases, this will be the best team weve played up to this point.

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