Big 12 Championship: Sooners throttle TCU for 3rd straight Big 12 title

ARLINGTON, TX - DECEMBER 02: The Oklahoma Sooners pose for a team photo after winning the Big 12 Championship against the TCU Horned Frogs 41-17 at AT
ARLINGTON, TX - DECEMBER 02: The Oklahoma Sooners pose for a team photo after winning the Big 12 Championship against the TCU Horned Frogs 41-17 at AT /

Oklahoma scored often early – and late – and lowered the boom on TCU for a second straight time this season, leaving little doubt who the best team in the Big 12 Conference is this season.

Oklahoma secured one of the four 2017 College Football Playoff spots with a 41-17 win over TCU in the return of the Big 12 Championship game after a seven-year absence.

The Sooners scored 17 unanswered points in the opening quarter to take an early advantage in the Big 12 Championship game with TCU on Saturday, threatening to put the game away early.

It was all Oklahoma in the early going of the Big 12 Championship at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, just 15 miles from the TCU campus in Ft. Worth. The Horned Frogs finally got things going offensively late in the first quarter, and carried that momentum over into the second quarter, scoring 17 points of their own to get right back in the game.

Oklahoma took a 24-17 lead into halftime, but had it not been for a fumble recovery returned 10 yards for a touchdown by OU linebacker Caleb Kelly on TCU’s first snap in the game, the score would have been deadlocked at the break.

A 26-yard field goal by TCU’s Cole Bunce with four seconds remaining before halftime cut the Sooner lead to seven points, and gave the Horned Frogs a shot of momentum going into the locker room, knowing that they were going to receive the ball to open the second half.

The second half was when the direction of the gam changed dramatically. The first half stats were virtually identical for both teams. Just seven points separated the Sooners and Horned Frogs on the scoreboard, and there was just 13 yards difference in total offensive yards (235 for Oklahoma and 222 for TCU).

The much-maligned OU defense forced TCU into a three-and-out on the Horned Frogs first possession of the second half. TCU was forced to punt the ball to Oklahoma, and on the Sooners first offensive play of the second half Baker Mayfield hit wide receiver Mykel Jones on a slant across the middle for a 55-yard touchdown with just 34 seconds gone in the third quarter. That put Oklahoma up 28-17, and Mayfield and Company took control of the game from there.

Oklahoma Sooners Football
Oklahoma Sooners Football /

Oklahoma Sooners Football

Oklahoma put another 17-spot on the scoreboard in the third quarter, including two long touchdown passes from Mayfield (one to Jones and a 52-yard strike to Marquise “Hollywood” Brown).

The stingy TCU defense, ranked 18th in the nation and No. 2 against the run, had given up just six points total in the second half in its last seven games. That included shutting out Oklahoma in the second half the first time the two teams met this season.

It was the Oklahoma defense that took over the game for the Sooners in the second half. TCU managed just 95 total yards over the final 30 minutes and no points. In the fourth quarter alone, the Horned Frogs had just 15 yards of offense (11 rushing and 4 passing).

OU’s Mayfield probably had the Heisman Trophy locked up before this game, but his performance on Saturday, 15 for 23 passing for 243 yards and four touchdowns, including a dazzling 65-yard run in the first half, all but assured it.

Rodney Anderson had 93 yards rushing on 24 carries, and true freshman Trey Sermon added 63 more on the ground, giving the Sooners 218 rushing yards against a defense that was allowing only 90.0 yards through 12 games.

TCU created two critical turnovers, the fumble in the opening minutes of the game and a fourth-quarter interception by OU’s Will Johnson. Both mistakes led to Oklahoma touchdowns.

The Sooners are now 12-1 in Lincoln Riley’s first season as head coach. It is their first 12-win season since 2010. OU has won 11 Big 12 championships in football in the 22 seasons the conference has been in existence.

In addition to its Big 12 three-peat, Oklahoma is now headed to its second College Football Playoff in the first four Playoff years. The Sooners will next play on New Year’s Day in either the Rose Bowl in Pasadena or the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans against an opponent to be determined.