Things looked good early. After the Frogs opening drive went nowhere, partially due to an inexplicable unnecessary roughness penalty committed by John Diarse on the second play of the game. But the defense held the Sooners to three, and TCU responded in two plays on their next possession to take their first, and last, lead of the game.
The Sooners marched right down the field on their next touch, going 79 yards in six plays, capped with a Rodney Anderson run, untouched, to pay dirt. Kenny Hill and the Frogs matched the Sooners play for play on their ensuing possession, but were stopped in the red zone, and had to settle for a field goal attempt. This is where things went awry. Apparently, John Song injured himself in warmups, and was out of the game. That led to Ryan Graf, a player not even on the depth chart, attempting the field goal from 25 yards out, which he pushed through. But a flag on the play moved the offense back five yards, and of course, the next attempt was missed.
From there, it was all Sooners.
Baker Mayfield finished with 333 passing, 50 rushing, and three touchdowns, but it was Rodney Anderson who starred on the big stage Saturday night. Anderson had four touchdowns in the first half alone, two on the ground and two through the air, capped by a diving catch with just seconds remaining in the first half. He finished with 151 yards on the ground, 139 through the air, and four scores. On the other side, the Frogs’ leading rusher, Darius Anderson, was injured when he got rolled up between a TCU offensive lineman and an OU defensive lineman. He would need help off the field and did not return. In other news, Mat Boesen was ejected for ‘kicking’ after he flailed under the block of two OU offensive linemen, who pinned him on the ground and wouldn’t let him up. It was an absolute joke of a call, an unwarranted ejection, and will not only cost the Frogs’ their sack leader for the first half against Tech, but completely took the air out of the entire unit. This was the play:
Oklahoma punted just once in the first half, as the vaunted TCU defense struggled against a balanced OU offensive attack. Gary Patterson was aggressive early, sending extra defenders on the blitz early and often, but the veteran and experience Baker Mayfield seemed to sniff them out at every turn and exploit the gaps in coverage. The rushing defense, which has been a top unit nationally, got dominated by a really good Sooner offensive line, allowing backs to get to the second level untouched more often than not. After allowing less than 70 yards per game up until this point, TCU surrendered nearly 100 in the first half alone, and 203 over the course of the game.
On the other side, the TCU run game was negated by a large deficit and the Anderson injury. Kenny Hill didn’t play poorly, but couldn’t get his team into the end zone once they got inside the 30, and never seemed to get in a rhythm in the red zone. He did play his tail off though, giving a great effort, running hard and fearless, and completing some big throws down the field. I also thought Cumbie had some really creative play calls, and good balance between the run and the pass - at least as much as he could facing a big deficit and without his leading rusher. Kyle Hicks had a big game with 109 total yards, and KaVontae Turpin and Jealan Austin were bright spots on offense, with 78 and 67 yards respectively. TCU just couldn’t string enough scores together to ever truly threaten the Sooners.
There is plenty to not like about the offense, but for those that have watched this team play weekly, it’s the defensive effort that is most disappointing. Sure, the stats looked good in the second half, but part of that credit goes to OU going with a much more conservative game plan behind their big lead. The Frogs allowed 536 total yards, including Mayfield’s 383, 38 first half points, and though the Sooners were scoreless in the second half, it was primarily because they didn’t need to. It was an embarrassing effort for a unit that had reasserted itself as the best in the Big 12, as they were outplayed by the nation’s most efficient offense and its best player.
Meanwhile, the Oklahoma defense, which had been legitimately terrible all season, looked like world beaters against a TCU offense that has been planted firmly on the struggle bus since Patrick Morris’ injury. They allowed 424 yards and 7.0 per play, but just 20 points, sticking firmly to a bend don’t break philosophy that was extremely effective against the Frogs. TCU held onto the ball for just 25:51 minutes, though, and that might be the most telling stat.
Though the Frogs still control their own destiny as far as playing for a Big 12 Championship, they will likely face this Oklahoma team again if they make it to Arlington. Adding insult to injury, Mayfield’s performance against the formidable TCU defense may very well have wrapped up the Heisman for the Sooners’ QB, which means we will get to see him pick apart this squad over and over again for the next month. Oh well. On to Texas Tech.
I really believed that the Frogs would show up tonight, that we would have another instant classic, wild, fourth quarter finish. But that was far from the case. Let’s see if we can’t get to a rematch and do better in round two.