You couldn’t ask for much more out of the first half if you were a TCU fan: the Frog offense was able to move the ball consistently, even if they struggled to get the ball into the end zone on their first couple opportunities, while the big play offense of Oklahoma State was limited to just one big play.
Meanwhile, the TCU defense balled out, while the Oklahoma State defense racked up penalties to the tune of 6-60 yards. Kenny Hill had one bad turnover (but no harm was done), while the Frogs turned two Oklahoma State fumbles, including a strip sack by Ben Banogu, into 10 points. Mason Rudolph hit James Washington for one big play early, but for the most part, the TCU secondary stuck with the talented wide receiving corp stride for stride through the first two quarters. Kenny Hill was accurate and smart with the football for the Frogs - minus one bad interception - using his arm and his legs to matriculate TCU down the field and keep Oklahoma State off of it. Darius Anderson had himself a day through two quarters as well, putting the Frogs on his back with Kyle Hicks out and running over and through a Cowboys defense that looked tired and frustrated by the third TCU drive.
After taking a 20-10 lead into the half (two Jonathan Song field goals, a Darius Anderson 28 yard rushing touchdown, and a Hill to Diarse connection), the Cowboys had first shot to score in quarter number three. But... that was not to be.
With Mat Boesen returning from the second half of his full game suspension for a targeting call against SMU, the defensive line had a little extra burst to start the third quarter. Boesen made his presence felt in short order, sacking Rudolph for a loss of seven on second down. On third and long, I saw something that I have never seen - Mason’s pass was low and somehow, while being blocked by an offensive lineman, Chris Bradley got a paw on it and hauled it in for an interception. Crazy.
With good field position, the Frogs marched 42 yards in six plays, crossing the goal line on another Darius Anderson run, this one from six yards out. A couple of nice catch and runs by Turpin helped TCU out as well.
Oklahoma State answered back on their next possession, putting together a ten play, 78 yard drive that ended with a Dylan Stoner touchdown on a perfectly placed ball from Rudolph. With the Pokes back within striking distance, the next drive by the Frogs became a seminal moment in the game.
And TCU delivered.
After going so pass-heavy in the first quarter, Sonny Cumbie and Curtis Luper dialed up a heavy dose of Darius Anderson once they got the lead, and that was no different for their next drive. Ten plays, 75 yards, 4:03 worth of clock, ending in six. The drive started with four straight Darius Anderson runs, and the fifth play was another run, this one by Kenny Hill. The biggest play of the drive was a pass play though, as Jaelan Austin climbed the ladder on a slant and hauled in a ball that was a little high on third down, then turned on the jets, broke a couple tackles, and scampered 43 yards. That set the Frogs up in the red zone, and after an 11 yard Sewo Olonilua run and an Okie State pass interference penalty, Anderson took it to the one and Sewo took it past the pylons (questionably - it appeared on replay that he may not have crossed the plane prior to the ball popping loose, but the call on the field stood) to give TCU a 34-17 advantage.
The Cowboys kept the ball for less than two minutes on the subsequent drive, with help from LJ Collier’s sack they were forced to punt. The Frogs marched right back down the field and tacked on a field goal, eating up 5:41 in the process, and stretching the lead to 20.
Into the fourth quarter and with time winding down, Rudolph stepped behind center looking to mount a drive to get his team back into it. Rudolph was able to move his offense down the field, with the benefit of the first two TCU penalties of the day. The Frogs got dinged for a crucial PI in the red zone, as Arico Evans lost contain and had to grab the receiver. Ridwan Issahaku almost made an unbelievable interception one play later, but the Pokes stayed alive and knocked it in two plays later on a Mason Rudolph QB keeper to the outside to make it 37-24 with 9:44 remaining.
Now, it was Kenny Hill and TCU’s time to respond.
Things started ominously for the Frogs, as they opened the drive, after a KaVontae Turpin return, with a false start by Joseph Noteboom. On third down, Hill was sacked, meaning the Frogs would go three and out for the first time all game. It’s also worth noting that the announcers mentioned at least three times that TCU had not gone three and out all game up to that point (reverse jinx, thank you very much). A good Adam Nunez punt - technically his first of the day, thanks to the OSU fumble - pinned the Pokes back on their own 33. The TCU defense would need to step up in a big way, and not give up a big play.
An offensive pass interference call started things off, giving OSU a first and 25. An incompletion followed, and then when it appeared Ben Banogu had him wrapped up, Rudolph fired off a 12 yard competition. An illegal substitution by the Frogs made it third and manageable, and Stoner hauled in a pass for a first down. Ateman turned the corner on a short pass and turned it into a 29 yard gain. Then, Oklahoma State got stupid.
The Pokes dialed up a WR pass just outside of the red zone, asking McCleskey to throw. Nick Orr wasn’t having it, and was in perfect position to haul in the overthrow for TCU’s fourth forced turnover of the game. The Frogs would go three and out on the ensuing drive, one that started inside their five yard line, and were forced to punt after playing it very safe. But the Frogs were able to run off some clock and force the Pokes to drive once again, as Nunez put a good leg on it to kick it to midfield and snapper Lukas Gravelle got down the field to make an impressive tackle.
With 4:27 left and two time outs remaining, Rudolph went back to work. Justice Hill made a man miss on the screen pass on first down, and a wide open McCleskey juggled a ball at the five before hauling it in at the three and putting the Pokes back in striking distance. Chris Bradley was dinged up on the first play from the three, and had to come off the field, but it gave the Frogs a chance to catch their breath. A stop on second down kept the clock moving, and when the Pokes scored a play later, there was just 3:03 remaining on the clock in what was now a one score game, 37-31, Frogs.
But you know who always seems to have a big play in him when the Frogs need it most? The man they call #TurpinTime.
The Pokes stupidly kicked it to the ace return man, and he responded by taking the ball across midfield. Major momentum swing back the Frogs way. Anderson ripped off a four yard run to open the series, despite the snap coming as a surprise to Kenny Hill, and Gundy called timeout number two.
2:51 remaining. 2nd and 6.
Hill kept it on second down, picking up two. Timeout number three by Okie State.
2:45 remaining. 3rd and 4.
Play call of the game... who are you going to hand it to?
Who else but DA. Anderson took the snap, cut once, and... HE GONE. Anderson housed it from 42 yards out to give the Frogs a 13 point lead and all but seal the deal.
The deal was officially sealed on the ensuing drive, as Mason Rudolph, hit as he threw, was picked off by LJ Collier, the second time a TCU defensive lineman had earned a pick. Ball game, baby.
Anderson finished with 26 attempts for 160 yards and three touchdowns, both career highs. Hill was 22/33 for 228 and one score, and spread it around to eight different receivers - led by Anderson’s four receptions for 41, Austin’s 43 yard rip, and Diarse’s 3/40. The Frogs went for 241 on the ground, ate up 38:43 on the clock, and won the turnover battle 4:1. The defense made Mason Rudolph look mortal for the first three quarters, before he popped off for a big fourth to finish with 389 yards through the air. But three picks, accuracy issues early, and a stingy TCU D - complete with tons of QB pressure - made his day long and lonely.
Player of the Game: Offense
Could go to a lot of people, but give it up to Darius Anderson, who accounted for over 200 yards of offense and three touchdowns, keeping the OSU offense off the field by dominating the ground game.
Player of the Game: Defense:
Ben Banogu made life miserable for the Oklahoma State offensive line, living in the backfield and eating the backups alive as the Pokes suffered through the losing end of the battle of attrition.
Player of the Game: Special Teams
Turpin’s final return was huge, but give it up for Jonathan Song, who went 3/3 on field goals and 5/5 on extra points. That’s a far cry from the struggles of the TCU kicking game in 2016.
Next Up: Bye Week