TCU's official entry to the Big 12 is only a month away now, and though the Big 12 has always seemed like the promised land to TCU fans the Mountain West years have been good to the Frogs. So every day until the Big 12 becomes official Frogs O' War will be counting down its staff's top ten TCU sports moments in our Mountain West tenure. Today is #10: the 2005 Oklahoma football game.
TCU 17, #7 Oklahoma 10.
Looking back now it's easy to understate just what that game meant for TCU. 2005 wasn't a BCS busting season, since we blew it against SMU the following week. It wasn't the highest ranked foe we've knocked off in the Gary Patterson era, both Boise State last year and Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl were higher ranked than OU when we beath them, It wasn't a game that won us the Mountain West title like the Utah showdowns, or a game that broke a frustrating losing streak like the 2008 BYU game. What it did, however, was announce loudly to the Mountain West that TCU was a team that needed to be taken seriously and announce to our fanbase that the ghastly 2004 season was an aberration. 2004 was the worst year of the decade for the frogs, as myriad forces seemed to conspire to drive the frogs to their lowest point. The Big East had been raided for the first time in 2003 and when feelers were put out to Conference USA schools to see about filling the places left by Virginia Tech, Miami and Boston College it seemed that TCU was the most deserving having put together back to back ten win seasons and possessing a great TV market as well as great football history. Then the Big East took Louisville, USF and Cincinnati as their football schools and the mood heading into the 2004 season was bleak. Things went from bad to worse as in our first meeting with Texas Tech since the demise of the SWC, TCU went from looking at a dominating 28-0 lead to being tied 28 all at the half, to being simply blown out of the water by Tech 70-35 in the worst loss of the Patterson era and the frogs just couldn't seem to recover psychologically from that beatdown in Lubbock. The next week, a sixteen game home winning streak was snapped by South Florida in overtime- a team that had only been competing in Division I for four years. The season went through ups and downs (mostly downs) but the Frogs busted out the black uniforms and managed to beat Southern Miss, the team who scuttled a magical 2003 season, needing only to beat historical lightweight Tulane at home to clinch a seventh straight bowl bid... and they blew it.
Meanwhile, Oklahoma hadn't lost at home since 1998, and hadn't lost to a team from Texas at home since '96 (also TCU). They had won a national championship in 2000, were coming off a national title game appearance in 2004 and had one of the best running backs in college football history, Adrian Peterson, in their backfield. The frogs went in to Gaylord Family Memorial Stadium a twenty five point underdog to the Sooners. This was not supposed to be upset material, and things certainly didn't look good early, as TCU's offense put together an opening drive into OU territory, but did absolutely nothing with their other two possessions. However, TCU's defense stood firm as well, forcing a fumble from the Sooners on the TCU 5 to save falling into an early hole. The second quarter started with senior QB Tye Gunn coming alive and guiding the Frogs smoothly down the field to take a 7-0 lead, which quickly grew to 10-0 after an OU series which gained zero total yards. A missed field goal by the Sooners had the Frogs heading into halftime up 10-0 and pretty darn confident that they could win this game. The third quarter started with Adrian Peterson pretty well single handedly pulling the Sooners back into the game by accounting for 65 of the Sooners 72 yard touchdown drive, and it looked like one of the best players in college football was going to push OU out of danger... only for AP to finish the game with fewer yards rushing than he had gained in that one series. The final tally: 63 yards for the Heisman runner-up/Jim Brown Trophy Winner, as TCU shut down the OU attack and forced more turnovers, setting up a short touchdown by Robert Merrill to end the scoring at 17-10 and OU didn't cross the TCU 45 yard line again.
The total? A mere 226 yards total for the vaunted OU offense, with the TCU defense forcing four turnovers. The last time TCU had beaten a team ranked so highly? #7 Baylor in 1960- so long ago that Baylor was good! Patterson had stepped defiantly out of the shadow of 2004 and set his team up as one to be feared- and the OU win seemed to have as much a positive effect on the team's psyche for 2005 as the Tech loss had a negative one in 2004: TCU knew there were no teams in the MWC better than OU, and by the end of 2005 they had collected their first MWC championship to further establish that point. If you have any favorite memories of the 2005 TCU win over OU, please feel free to share them in the comments!