It was as uncharacteristic a first half as we have seen from a Gary Patterson team since the Alamo Bowl, and the circumstances for last night’s game were far different. And while the Frogs fought harder in half number two, the had dug far too deep a hole by that point.
"I knew that we weren't going to hold them to seven points," Patterson said. "But I knew if we could hold them in the 20s, we'd have a chance to win."
TCU’s character showed itself. The Frogs stablized the game on defense in the third quarter, and Hicks’ touchdown on a shovel pass cut the lead to 38-20 early in the fourth quarter. For a fourth consecutive game, TCU pitched a second-half shutout.
But the story of the game had been told. A penalty here, a sack there. One mistake a drive had been one too many for TCU.
When James Franklin did this, it made national news, but it’s business as usual for GP, and will likely hardly make a blip.
“A lot of different things, without going into any of that,” Patterson said. “I was mad. We had five or six guys running off the field. They weren’t going to shake hands. I went and got them.”
Patterson said it’s a big-picture lesson for his team.
“We don’t teach about a ballgame, we teach about the rest of your life,” he said. “And the rest of your life is you handle adversity and you handle when things aren’t going well. And so we all shook hands.”
Oklahoma’s path to the playoffs got a lot clearer with Saturday’s chaos. But one team, quite possibly the Frogs, will have a chance to knock them out in the Big 12 Championship game.
A doomsday scenario for the Big 12 is TCU exacting revenge on Oklahoma in the title game. If that happens, the conference would head into selection Sunday with a two-loss champion, the Horned Frogs, as its best hope for playoff inclusion. Given the current composition of the crop of candidates for the playoff, they would be a long shot to get in.
The Sooners and TCU have navigated the most trying parts of their conference schedules. Between them, there’s only one opponent remaining that’ll leave this weekend in the top half of the conference standings. Round two on a neutral field could seal a playoff bid for Oklahoma, or it could be the decisive blow against it, and consequently, the Big 12.
Lincoln Riley absolutely pulled his foot off the gas in the second half.
“We knew it was gonna be a good battle,” Riley said. “They’re a pretty good defense, and we’re pretty good offense. We made some of the plays when it counted. We knew it was gonna be a good battle against those guys.”
The Sooners, perhaps expecting a rematch with the defensive-oriented Horned Frogs three weeks down the road in the league title game in Arlington, Texas, dominated on their way to a 38-14 lead — before throttling down in the second half.
“I think the fourth quarter,” Mayfield said, “we were more conservative about running clock, trying to establish the line of scrimmage and wear them down.”
Round number two could be trouble for Oklahoma... or they could run away with an easy win again.
The question isn’t whether Oklahoma will move into the College Football Playoff’s top four when the next set of rankings is released Tuesday — it’s how high they’ll go. None of that matters, of course. Not yet. And when it comes to the conference race, there’s still much left to be determined.
TCU is almost certainly out of the Playoff race with two losses (unless chaos comes to college football). But the Frogs are probably still headed to the Big 12 championship game. There, because of the league’s brand new double jeopardy format, they could knock Oklahoma out of the Playoff mix. TCU will be favored to beat Texas Tech and Baylor. Oklahoma will be favored to beat Kansas and West Virginia. Let’s reconvene in Arlington, Texas, on Dec. 2 and do it again.