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FORT WORTH (AP) – While Oklahoma gets a fresh start in pursuit of its 10th Big 12 title, coach Bob Stoops doesn’t expect the Sooners to have to change their focus after two September losses pretty much ended their playoff hopes.
“We haven’t performed as well as we need to,” Stoops said. “But to say, all of a sudden, `Oh, now we’re going to get focused and try harder,’ I don’t believe that. Our guys have been working hard. We need to execute better, I get that, but guys have been putting in the effort ahead of this.”
The Sooners (1-2) play their Big 12 opener Saturday at No. 21 TCU after their early losses to second-ranked Ohio State and sixth-ranked Houston.
“The morale is great,” Oklahoma receiver Mark Andrews said.
In the same media preseason poll that had Oklahoma as the Big 12 favorite, the Horned Frogs (3-1, 1-0 Big 12) were picked to finish second.
While TCU gained national attention with a 2005 season-opening win at then-No. 7 Oklahoma while in the Mountain West Conference, this will be the fifth Big 12 meeting between the two schools. The Sooners lost 37-33 in their last trip to Fort Worth two years ago, and won the other three league matchups by a combined 11 points.
“Everybody wants a trophy. In order to get the trophy, you have to get a piece of their trophy,” TCU defensive end Josh Carraway said. “Right now, Oklahoma has the Big 12 trophy, and we’ve got to take it from them.”
Some things to know when Oklahoma and TCU play:
MAYFIELD AND PATTERSON
When asked at the Orange Bowl last year which team disappointed him the most in recruiting, Sooners quarterback Baker Mayfield said TCU “kind of drug it out” and never offered a scholarship while he turned down other offers. Mayfield then went to Texas Tech and became the first true freshman walk-on quarterback to start a season opener for an FBS school, then transferred to Oklahoma after one season. TCU coach Gary Patterson took a different tone than in December when responding this week, saying, “I’m past it. He’s in a great place,” and wishing him luck. Mayfield said, “All that last year got blown out of proportion, so that’s way in the past.”
SPREAD IT AROUND
New TCU starting quarterback Kenny Hill has completed passes to 16 different receivers, including 11 in the SMU game. “He’s a hard guy to get a hold of when he’s running around,” Stoops said of the dual-threat quarterback. “That and the ability to spread the ball around as much as they do in the throwing game.”
SOME STREAKS AND NUMBERS
The Sooners haven’t lost consecutive games since October 1999, Stoops’ first season. They’ve won 35 consecutive regular-season games following a loss. … TCU has at least one sack in a school-record 34 consecutive games. Only Ohio State has a longer active streak (38). … Oklahoma has won seven consecutive true road games since losing at TCU two years ago. … In a 33-3 win at SMU last week, TCU didn’t allow a touchdown for the first time since 2014.
TIGER TURNED FROG
WR John Diarse, an LSU graduate transfer classified as a football junior, has 13 catches the last two games for TCU — he had 28 in two seasons for the Tigers. Diarse was sidelined briefly last week after a hard hit that led to a targeting penalty and ejection for an SMU defender. Diarse returned and caught to catch a 75-yard TD pass on the first play after halftime. “When he took a shot in the end zone, a lot of guys would have taken themselves out of the ballgame,” Patterson said. “He represents what you’re trying to get to as a football team. You’ve got a guy who’s tough, mature.”
After its conference opener in Fort Worth, the Sooners will return to the Dallas-Fort Worth area the following Saturday. They play No. 22 Texas in the annual Red River rivalry game at the State Fair of Texas, about 40 miles away in Dallas. Oklahoma split that two-step in 2014.