In tomorrow's rematch, Big 12 title game between the Frogs and the Sooner's adjustments will make the difference, adjustments from last months Sooner blowout. This time the game will be played at the neutral site, JerryWorld, so Oklahoma's home-field advantage is negated. The game will come down to two matchups, Baker Mayfield vs. Kenny Hill and Lincoln Riley vs. Gary Patterson.
You can't overstate the impact Mayfield's had on the Sooners this year. Without him, OU is probably a three or four-loss team. He absorbs the spotlight where others might flee from it. The Heisman is his, which is saying something considering his offseason transgression and his, at times, grating onfield personality. Mayfield is the best player in college football, week in and week out.
Across the field, Kenny Hill will be thrust into a legacy game on Saturday. The senior from Southlake continues to play the role of an enigma, immensely talented, even dominant at times and disappearing at others. He has all the talent of Mayfield, but an element of bravado or passion seems in short supply. Hill followed Trevone Boykin as TCU's signal caller, and he's still chasing Boykin's impact. Will he embrace tomorrow's showcase as Mayfield will or will he wilt?
Oklahoma made the surprising move and handed Lincoln Riley the keys to a top ten program with no head coaching experience. The results are hard to question, with a win Riley's Sooners will be in the playoff. His success is tied to Mayfield's.
Across the field, Gary Patterson is the mad genius. The fear and perhaps the reality for Sooner fans is that Patterson, given time in his incubator, will be able to crack the code and put Oklahoma on the back foot. No doubt, given his single-mindedness, Patterson has spent most of his waking moments evaluating his team and moving pieces to counter OU's declared advantages. His success, especially tomorrow, is linked to how his quarterback performs under the glare of the lights. But Patterson is also hands-on in TCU's defensive meeting rooms, so if any Big 12 coach is going to derail Mayfield and OU's march to the playoff, it would be Patterson.
In a game of adjustments, the prevailing question seems to be whether an inexperienced head coach with a transcendent star can overcome an experienced hand and his inconsistent quarterback.