Scary TCU Finish Not a Comfortable Feeling for Sooner Football Fans


When Oklahoma has 500 or more yards of total offense and leads after three quarters, it is 72-3 and 166-8, respectively under Bob Stoops. OU is perfect this season when both of those metrics are achieved, yet Sooner football fans almost saw those odds go totally out the window Saturday night against injury-riddled TCU in a nightmarish fourth quarter that fell one point short of turning the thrill of victory into the agony of defeat.

It was far from pretty and, of course, a win is a win, but there is a lot that is troubling about the way the Sooners went about their business against heavily undermanned TCU, especially after starting quarterback Baker Mayfield, who has been on an absolute terror in Oklahoma’s six dominating wins after the improbable loss to Texas, was forced to sit out the second half with an apparent head injury.

The game was more a tale of two flip-flopped halves, with Oklahoma owning the opening 30 minutes and TCU returning the favor in the second half. The Sooners outgained the Horned Frogs 292 yards to 145 in the first half and led 23-7 at the break. TCU had nearly 50 more total yards than OU in the second half, with Mayfield on the sideline, and won the final two quarters on the scoreboard 22-7.

Nov 21, 2015; Norman, OK, USA; TCU Horned Frogs running back Aaron Green (22) is tackled by Oklahoma Sooners safety Ahmad Thomas (13) during the fourth quarter at Gaylord Family – Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Trevor Knight, who started most of the games last season for the Sooners, came on for the injured Mayfield in the second half. The fact that he hasn’t played that much this season was fairly evident as the OU offense looked largely lethargic throughout the second half and several of Knight’s passes were well off target, sadly reminiscent of the way he looked in the Sooners’ blowout loss to Clemson in last year’s Russell Athletic Bowl.

With Oklahoma leading 30-20 near the midway point of the fourth quarter, Knight threw an ill-advised pass on 3rd-and-14 with the Sooners on their own 21-yard line. His pass was underthrown and picked off just short of the 50-yard line. Fortunately, the short field resulted in only a field goal, but it further cut into the OU lead and made it a one-possession game with plenty of time left. By this time, Sooner fans on the edge of their seats and becoming very nervous about the noticeable shift in momentum that was speeding downhill at the Sooners.

It all came down to a two-point conversion attempt after TCU had pulled to within a single point at 30-29 with 51 seconds remaining in the game.

Kicking the extra point likely would have sent the game to overtime, which didn’t necessarily bode well for the Sooners with the ultra-conservative and unproductive way their offense had performed in the second half. Sad to say that stopping the two-point attempt might have been the best chance to preserve an Oklahoma win the way things were going.

They say the mark of great teams is the ability to make great plays when the game is on the line. And that is exactly what the Sooners got when sophomore safety Steven Parker successfully batted down a pass by a scrambling TCU quarterback Bram Kohlhausen that was on its way an open receiver on the right side of the end zone.

So the Sooners survive to play another game, one with even higher stakes on the line with the Big 12 championship there for the taking with an Oklahoma victory. There is a lot of work to do, however, before Sooner fans can afford themselves the luxury of making travel plans for a potential New Year’s Eve national championship play-in game.

Nov 21, 2015; Norman, OK, USA; Oklahoma Sooners wide receiver Sterling Shepard (3) celebrates with Oklahoma Sooners running back Samaje Perine (32) after catching a touchdown pass during the first half against the TCU Horned Frogs at Gaylord Family – Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The good, bad and the ugly, while feeling extremely fortunate to have escaped with a win over TCU. The good news is it keeps alive Oklahoma’s hopes of making this season’s College Football Playoff:

  • I am reminded of one other similar time early in the Stoops era when Oklahoma faced Oklahoma State in Norman in a regular-season finale in which a win would have virtually assured the Sooners a repeat appearance in the BCS (Bowl Championship Series) national championship. OU was ranked third in the BCS standings going into the game against the Cowboys, who were 27-point underdogs. The Sooners held a narrow lead almost the entire game, but Oklahoma State scored on a 14-yard touchdown pass with about a minute and a half remaining in the game, putting the Cowboys up 16-13, which held up as the winning margin.
  • The TCU victory, albeit much too close for comfort, gives Oklahoma 10 wins in 2015 and marks the 13th time in Bob Stoops’ 17 seasons at OU the Sooners have won 10 or more games.
  • The home win over TCU gives the Sooners a perfect 6-0 record at home this season. Oklahoma has gone undefeated at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in 12 different seasons under Bob Stoops.
  • The temperature at game time Saturday night was 36 degrees. That is the coldest home game in Bob Stoops coaching reign at Oklahoma.
  • The TCU victory gives Oklahoma a 4-0 record this season against teams ranked in the AP Top-25 at the time the game was played. No other Big 12 team has more than one win over a ranked team this season.
  • Oklahoma is 30-1 under Bob Stoops when they record three or more interceptions in a game, as the Sooners did against TCU.
  • Sophomore running back Samaje Perine passed the 1,000-yard mark in rushing yards this season with 187 yards on 26 carries against TCU. He has 1,160 yards on the ground in 2015. Perine led the Big 12 last season with 1,713 rushing yards.
  • Sterling Shepard caught 8 passes in the game for 111 yards. It was the fourth time this season he has gone over 100 yards receiving in a game.
  • OU had done better in recent weeks in cutting down on penalties, but the Sooners reverted to old bad habits in the TCU game, getting flagged for rules infractions eight separate times, several of them called against freshman offensive lineman Orlando Brown, for a total of 90 yards.
  • The Sooners were a miserable 4-for-20 in third-down conversions in the TCU game. If that continues against Oklahoma State, it will be a long, difficult bus ride back down I-35 to Norman.
  • This was the sixth consecutive game in which Oklahoma has exceeded 500 yards of offense.
  • With three interceptions and a fumble recovery against TCU, Oklahoma increased its positive turnover margin to plus-8. Next weekend’s opponent, Oklahoma State, leads the Big 12 in that department at plus-15.
  • The ability of both defensive units to get stops is best reflected in the 18 combined punts in the game (9 by each team). The Sooners had come into the TCU game averaging 4 punts per game. They doubled that total on Saturday night.