Opinion: Oklahoma Sooners’ 37-33 loss was not an “upset”


You have seen the headlines by now.

After TCU knocked off Bob Stoops’ No. 4 squad Saturday, media and Sooner faithful alike were quick to clamor that the Horned Frogs “shocked” Oklahoma. Just one issue…

This was no upset.

Coming into the game, fans on both sides had every reason to believe this would be a close match. Oklahoma had been called the most complete team in the country. TCU sported a much improved, somehow shiftier Trevone Boykin with a better arm. OU’s defense had been stout in the games preceding. TCU, likewise.

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Not to place too much value on the magic that is Vegas, but Oklahoma was less than a touchdown favorite. They opened as five point favorites, but quickly watched that line fall to as low as three points in some places.

But there was writing on the wall even before Vegas uttered a peep.

In games against Tulsa and Tennessee, Oklahoma offensive coordinator Josh Heupel experimented with Trevor Knight’s arm. The quarterback tossed 67 passes in the two games combined for a smidge over 600 yards. Despite his impressive numbers, Knight continued to look uncomfortable in the pocket at times. His decision-making was occasionally questionable, but it did not matter too much. OU was just working the kinks out of the passing game, right?

When Samaje Perine had his breakout game at West Virginia, it appeared the tinkering was over. Oklahoma had found its identity in a ground-it-and-pound-it style with a pleasant surprise in the backfield.

Fast forward to Saturday.

After TCU marched 75 yards in 12 plays to claim a touchdown advantage, the Sooner offense jogged onto the field with a clear gameplan (or so we all thought) and a feature back to carry it out.

However, Perine was not on the field for the first snap. Nor the second. Nor the third. Immediately, red flags went up in Sooner land. After two Alex Ross runs for negative-two yards, Trevor Knight attempted and failed to avoid the three-and-out with a pass to Durron Neal that missed its mark.

Boykin promptly took the field again and carved up the hyped Oklahoma defense with his arm as well as his legs. 14-0 TCU.

This trend would continue for the rest of the game. Although Perine would record the Sooners first score and later two more, Heupel decided to go with the pass early and stick with it. Two early tosses to Sterling Shepard were some of the lone highlights of Knight’s day. He ended up completing just 14 passes on 35 attempts.

If Tulsa and Tennessee made the sophomore look uncomfortable in the pocket, the TCU pass rush gave Knight a downright panic. Coupled with a lack of catching in the department and a seemingly inept defense unable to contain a scrambling Boykin, a four point defeat did not even feel that close.

I am aware that hindsight is always 20/20 but several Oklahoma fans knew heading into Fort Worth that TCU was ripe for an “upset.” Some might argue that if the Sooners stuck to ground game, I would not be writing this column.

But the fact of the matter is, TCU played like the better football team on Saturday because they are. The Frogs can beat you with the run and the pass. Oklahoma can do one of those things. Purple Baylor’s defense made stops when it mattered. The Sooner secondary let TCU burn them again and again.

This was not an upset. While Oklahoma beat themselves in some areas, TCU is the better team for the moment and deserves credit for winning this game. The Frogs are a force to be reckoned with in the Big 12. They should not be underdogs again.