This ain't your mama's TCU. This is a TCU that plays Oklahoma to the bone with full on, bloody Raging Bull ultra-violence. It's Jake Lamotta facing off against Sugar Ray Robinson. Whatever the final score is Saturday, in all likelihood, it's going to be a close one. Recent history tells us so...
1998: 10-9 (Oklahoma)
We could begin our story with TCU’s 30-7 victory in 1996. However, this grimy streetfight of a game, and all the exposition in between, is the foundation of where these teams, and this game is today.
This was not only Gary Patterson’s first year as defensive coordinator, it was also one year before Bob Stoops became the head coach at Oklahoma. Bob was still Steve Spurrier’s defensive coordinator at Florida at the time, and a head coaching gig at one of college football’s most storied programs just a gleam in his visor covered eyes. It was also the year that Ladainian Tomlinson was still splitting carries--and playing second fiddle--to Basil Mitchell.
This is the Prometheus of our journey. Welcome aboard.
2005: 17-10 (TCU)
The greatest upset in TCU’s history. Coming into the game unraked and earning a victory over a Top Ten team, the Frogs’ victory was Oklahoma’s first home loss since Bedlam 2001--and Stoops’ first September loss since taking over the program. The Frog defense smothered both Paul Thompson and car wash aficionado Rhett Bomar. Adrian Peterson--who left the game, then came back--couldn’t help his team. Oklahoma would finish the season 8-4 with an inspired 17-14 win over Oregon in the Holiday Bowl. TCU may have blown the following game to SMU, but finished the season 9th in the Coaches Poll and 11th in the AP.
2008: 35-10 (Oklahoma)
Still salty from the last game, Bobby got his revenge on Gary in this early season matchup in Norman. This was also Sam Bradford’s Heisman season. The year where he lost to Texas 35-45--and Texas fans still scream murder--but still made, and lost, the National Championship to Urban Meyer and Tim Tebow’s gnarly Florida team. There really isn’t much to say about this game. It was a clean win for the Sooners. The game was also literally a fever dream for me, because I had a temperature that warranted a hospital visit. Sorry brain cells, it was college football season.
2012: 24-17 (Oklahoma)
The first game as conference foes. Coming off of a huge win at Texas on Thanksgiving----and at West Virginia a few weeks before--TCU was generating some solid buzz in the college football world. It was also one of Jason Verrett’s best games. His stats may not indicate it, but let Kenny Stills stats speak; 2 catches, 16 yards.
There was a lot of drama-- and a lot of bullshit-- in this game too...
There was the Stansly Maponga and Tyrus Thompson, fight on the field.
Jaden Oberkrom’s "missed" field goal
Brandon Carter stepping up HUGE
And a rare miss by Josh Boyce that would’ve tied the game up
2013: 20-17 (Oklahoma)
The worst game offensively in the Gary Patterson era. With his QBR 30 points lower than it is, this was Boykin at his worse. Erratic and spiraling to the ground like a crashing helicopter in a late night session of Grand Theft Auto V, this was the only game I wanted to quit Boykin.
Are Samford and SMU quality wins? No. Was Minnesota? The jury’s still out. But that’s not to say they weren’t quality games. Someday, when cupcake games (I hate that word) are eradicated, it’s going to be easier to calibrate teams earlier in the season. Basically, TCU’s done everything right up to this point--as opposed to putzing around early in the season like they usually do. It’s been pointed out on the message boards, and we’ll talk about it tomorrow in a really fun chat we’re doing, that Cumbie and Meacham have yet to open up their playbook and these last three games have been a sort of barometer for conference play. Think of it as more about getting the general tempo and rhythm down before you break out the complicated dance moves. This may be a given at this point, but it’s still damn fun to think about.
TCU hasn’t won a big game since Thanksgiving 2012. Close games against Baylor, LSU (sort of), and Oklahoma State are irrelevant. The Frogs have a chance Saturday. Honestly, they always have a chance. Especially against Oklahoma. Even when an already bad offense was its worst last year, the defense kept TCU in the game. Now the offense, at its most basic, is functionable. TCU has all the tools to win this game, they just have show the brass. Saturday’s almost guaranteed to be another gritty boxing match.
Gary Patterson’s team has never been short on winning big games. The last big win may have been almost two years ago, but a win Saturday would trounce it. In a lot of ways, the 2005 upset over Oklahoma was TCU’s statement of arrival to big time college football. But the game didn’t hold much weight because as we came to find out, Oklahoma was an okay team and TCU was a really good team--and barring a slip-up to SMU the weekend after, the Horned Frogs arguably would’ve had two undefeated seasons under Patterson. The big difference this year is that Oklahoma is better than that team from 2005, and a potential win would hold up a lot more. So while 2005 may have been the "hey, we’re coming for you" game, Saturday could be the game where we tell Oklahoma, the Big 12, and everyone in between, "Hey, we’ve finally arrived. Sorry it took so long".