FORT WORTH, TEXAS – It always seems that the Sooners have to lose a game to start playing their best. I hope that what we saw in Fort Worth wasn’t their best, but it was better than we have seen recently, particularly on defense. The defense held TCU to only three points in the second half, helping the Sooners to a 52-27 rout of the Horned Frogs.
Kyler Murray was 19-24 for 213 yards and four TDs. The Sooners did most of their damage on the ground, gashing the TCU defense repeatedly to the tune of 323 rushing yards. Kennedy Brooks led all rushers with 168 yards on 18 carries and a TD. Trey Sermon added 110 yards on 17 carries, while Murray had 51 yards on eight carries.
CeeDee Lamb led the Sooner receivers with five catches for 91 yards and a score. Marquise “Hollywood” Brown had five catches for 41 yards, while Lee Morris had two catches for 36 yards and two touchdowns, because all Lee Morris does is catch touchdowns. Carson Meier also had a TD catch.
The Sooner defense forced TCU to punt on the opening possession, and OU took over on their own 16. Sermon ran for 2 yards, then Murray hit Meier for 16 yards. After a 14-yard run from Sermon, Murray hit Brown for 11 yards and a first down at the TCU 41. Two plays later, Murray scrambled right and hit a wide-open Lamb for a 37-yard walk-in touchdown. The Sooners led 7-0 with 9:16 to play in the first quarter.
For some bizarre reason, the Big 12 officials flagged Lamb and Brown for their DragonBall Z handshake celebration in the end zone, resulting in OU kicking off from their own 20. That would prove to be costly, as Kavontae Turpin took Austin Siebert's kick at the TCU 2-yard line and brought it all the way back for a touchdown. That made the score 7-7 with 9:04 to play in the first quarter.
On the ensuing possession, OU took over on their own 30 after a 14-yard kickoff return by Marcelias Sutton. Sermon ran for two yards, then Murray hit Brown for 10. After Sermon carried for six, Murray ran for 11, then lost 5 yards on a bubble screen to Brown. Murray then connected with Brown for 10 yards to make it third and five. After a 2-yard Sermon run, OU faced fourth and three from the TCU 34. They went for it and Murray hit Lamb for seven yards and a first down. Two plays later Sermon ran for 9 yards, then was stuffed on the following play, leaving the Sooners once again facing fourth down from the TCU 18. They again went for it and Murray carried for two yards and a first down. Murray then ran for 12 yards and Sermon took it the last four for the touchdown. OU led 14-7 with 1:37 to play in the first quarter.
TCU picked up one first down on their next possession but were again forced to punt. The Sooners took over on their own 34 and quickly moved into TCU territory. Brooks carried for 11 yards, then Brown caught a 15-yard pass, followed by Grant Calcaterra's 10-yard catch, leaving the Sooners with a first down at the TCU 30. After a couple of penalties left OU facing first and 20, a run for no gain and a Murray 12-yard run made it third and eight from the TCU 28. Murray hit Lamb for seven yards, then on fourth and one Brooks took an option pitch right and carried it in for the touchdown. OU led 21-7 with 10:46 to play in the first half.
The Sooner defense forced a three and out on the next possession, and the punt was shanked, leaving the Sooners in great field position at their own 42. Brooks carried for six yards, then ran for 43 and a first and goal at the TCU nine-yard line. Two plays later, Murray hit Morris for 9 yards and a touchdown. The Sooners were running away with it at 28-7 with 8:25 to play in the first half.
On the ensuing possession, TCU inserted backup QB Michael Collins. Bookie Radley-Hiles jumped a route on Collins’ second play, but dropped what would have been an easy pick-six. On the next play, Collins hit Turpin for 41 yards and a touchdown. Instead of being 35-7, it was 28-14 OU with 7:55 to play in the first half.
The Sooners went three and out on the next possession and punted the ball to TCU at their 42, from where Turpin returned it 25 yards to the OU 33. On the very next play, Collins hit former OU commit Jalen Reagor down the right sideline for a touchdown, and all of a sudden it was 28-21 with five minutes to play in the first half. TCU would add a field goal on their final possession of the half to make it 28-24 going into the locker room.
The Sooners took the opening kickoff of the second half and drove 55 yards for a field goal to make it 31-24 with 10:42 to play in the third quarter. TCU answered with a field goal and it was 31-27 OU with 7:15 to play in the third. That was the last of the TCU scoring on the day.
After a touchback, Sermon ran for 2 yards, then Murray ran for two more, followed by a completion to Lamb for 14 yards and a first down at the Sooner 43. Murray then ran for 19 yards and Sermon ran for 11. On first and 10 from the TCU 27 Murray hit Morris once again for a score and it was 38-27 with 4:32 to play in the third quarter.
On the ensuing possession, TCU hit a 47-yard pass play to give them first down at the Sooner 20. However, for the first time all season, the Sooners got a red zone stop as a 38-yard field goal attempt missed with 2:34 to play in the third quarter.
The teams exchanged punts, then OU would put the game away. Starting from their own 29, OU quickly moved into TCU territory with a Brooks run of 22 yards. After Brooks carried for two more yards, followed by a 14-yard carry, Sermon finished the job, taking it in from 33 yards out for the touchdown. OU led 45-27 with 12:53 to play in the game.
TCU moved as far as the OU 32 on the ensuing possession, but the Sooners held on fourth and seven from there to turn the ball over on downs. OU was forced to punt on the ensuing possession, but Seibert’s punt was downed at the TCU two-yard line. Three plays later, Collins was intercepted by Parnell Motley, who returned it to the TCU three-yard line. Three plays later, Murray found Meier in the back of the end zone for the score and it was 52-27 with 4:17 to play. That would prove to be the final score.
Next up, the Sooners return to Owen Field for the first time in almost a month to face Kansas State Saturday at 2:30. With the rash of top 10 losses the last two weeks, OU’s playoff prospects are much better than they looked leaving the Cotton Bowl a couple of weeks ago. We will still need outside help, but it won’t take much of it for a 12-1 Big 12 Champion OU team to make a return to the CFP. One game at a time for now, though. See you in Norman on Saturday.