FORT WORTH, TEXAS – Here is all you need to take away from Saturday’s crazy 52-46 Sooner win over TCU at Amon Carter Stadium – we are 1-0 in conference. That is literally the only thing that matters. Yes, half the game was outstanding, and half was wretched. Yes, this team is clearly capable of going 10-2, but is equally capable of going 7-5. But there are no beauty contests here – the beauty contests ended at the butt end of Urban Meyer’s scarlet and gray cudgel two weeks ago. All that matters now is winning the conference on the field, and we’re 1-0.
Things didn't start out like we were going to be 1-0 in conference. Baker Mayfield fumbled on the first series and TCU scored in one play, and the Sooners were down 7-0 less than a minute into the game. The Sooner defense got its first pick of the year to set up a score on the next possession to tie it. However, by the end of the first quarter, TCU was out to a 21-7 lead, looked like it would score 80, and Sooner fans’ knives were being sharpened, to the extent the Ohio State debacle didn’t already have them honed to a fine edge.
But then a funny thing happened. A Sooner defense that had been like a sieve tightened up, and the Sooner offense exploded. TCU was held on seven of their next eight possessions over the second and third quarters, scoring a field goal on the other possession off a Mayfield fumble in OU territory late in the first half.
Meanwhile, the Sooners scored touchdowns on six of their next seven possessions during the same time span. Those included a 67-yard Mayfield to Dede Westbrook flea-flicker, another 40-yard connection between those two, and a two-play drive highlighted by a 65-yard Joe Mixon ru to the Frog two-yard-line. At the end of three quarters, the Sooners led 49-24 and looked like they would coast to a win in the conference opener. But TCU had something to say about that.
In the fourth quarter, the Sooner offense could do nothing, and the Sooner defense became a sieve again. TCU scored touchdowns on three straight possessions. A two-point conversion after a one-play drive on a 74-yard bomb left the Sooners up 49-46 with 5:36 left, looking like they would blow every bit of that seemingly insurmountable 25-point lead.
But, somehow, they didn’t. They used a scary 25-yard completion to Mixon that looked like it would be picked and a TCU face mask penalty to move into Frog territory. They were unable to convert a third-and-four from the TCU 18 when A.D. Miller dropped a ball he should have caught that would have effectively ended the game. A 35-yard Austin Seibert field goal made it 52-46, but with almost two minutes left to play, nobody in the place thought TCU wasn’t able to march down the field and win it with a touchdown.
But the Sooner defense rose up again. TCU took a false start penalty on first down, then Kenny Hill got drilled in the back as he was throwing and floated the ball out to nobody. Bob Stoops went ape on the sidelines asking for an intentional grounding flag. The referee announced that it wasn’t intentional grounding because the QB was out of the pocket. He was not, in fact, out of the pocket, and after further Stoops yelling (and a headset spike) the referee got back on the mic and announced an intentional grounding penalty, with the attendant loss of down.
This, of course, sent TCU head coach Gary Patterson into a fit of rage, and rightly so, as it seemed highly inequitable to a) announce one thing, then immediately turn around and announce the opposite, and b) call intentional grounding on a guy who got drilled in the back while he was trying to throw the ball. All of that said, this piece of classic Big 12 officiating left the Frogs facing second and 23 from their own 15. However, instead of announcing that it was second down, the referee announced incorrectly that it was third down, which had us apoplectic two plays later when it appeared that the officials were giving TCU a fifth down. In fact, they did not give TCU a fifth down, and it didn’t matter, as a short completion, a sack, and a long incomplete pass turned the ball over on downs to the Sooners , who then ran out the clock.
The statistics, defensively, were not good. Not good at all. But that doesn't matter, because we’re 1-0 in conference. It also doesn't matter because, for a two-quarter stretch, at least, this team looked like the team we expected before the season started. It’s something to build on, which is more than we had before a weird night in Frog Country.
Next up is Texas, whose defense is a sieve on par with our own. No telling what will happen in the Cotton Bowl – none at all. We would be pleased if, for the first time in four years, we came out and took it to Horn instead of the other way around. This game has been the one where a lost Texas team has found itself in recent years. If the second/third quarter Sooners from Fort Worth show up on the other side of the Metroplex next Saturday, it will be a long day for Charlie Strong and his boys. If the first/fourth quarter Sooners show up, who knows?
We will, for the 28th consecutive year, be there, of course, for a breakfast of Fletcher’s Corny Dogs and fried Nutella. See you at the Fair, and BEAT THE HELL OUTTA TEXAS!!!