TCU's first season in the Big 12 was filled with a roller-coaster ride of ecstatic highs and jaw-dropping lows. The Horned Frogs' regular-season finale Saturday befit the school's inaugural season in the league in agonizingly poignant fashion.
Two Oklahoma defensive backs broke up a potential game-tying pass on fourth-and-13 with 25 seconds left to clinch the Sooners' 24-17 victory and earned them a share of the Big 12 Conference title with Kansas State, which beat Texas 42-24 on Saturday night to win the Big 12's automatic BCS berth.
Trevone Boykin's pass attempt to Josh Boyce came two plays after Boykin's apparent 12-yard touchdown run was called back when TCU was flagged for holding. TCU started at its own 25 with 2:49 left. Boykin completed four of his first five passes in the series, including a 46-yarder to Cam White that put the Frogs at the OU 12 with 1:30 remaining.
But the 11th-ranked Sooners (10-2, 8-1 Big 12) escaped with the victory and the Frogs (7-5, 4-5) and their fans, who made up most of the 47,501 at Amon G. Carter Stadium, walked away wondering "what if."
"We had a chance to win the ballgame," TCU coach Gary Patterson said. "Pretty much sums it up, simple as that."
That has been the case in all of TCU's five losses this season, especially in an 0-4 run of home conference games. It's the first time TCU failed to win a league game at home since 1986.
OU's defense held TCU to only 78 yards in the first half as the Sooners built a 14-7 lead.
Boykin completed 5 of 11 passes for 34 yards in the half, and the running game didn't fare much better, gaining 44 yards on 18 carries.
But TCU kept it close with its own brand of smothering defense. The Sooners took advantage of a short punt and a 15-yard pass interference penalty to take a 7-0 lead on Damien Williams' 11-yard scoring catch at the end of the first quarter.
Sam Carter returned an interception 42 yards to the OU 6 to set up Boykin's scoring run late in the half that tied it at 7-7.
The Frogs forced the Sooners into a third-and-23 from the TCU 24 with a minute left in the half and looked poised to hold OU to a field goal. But Landry Jones checked off his initial target and found Jalen Saunders a step ahead of Carter on a crossing pattern. Saunders' 24-yard score gave OU a 14-7 lead at the half.
"That's like, 'you've got to be kidding me,'" Patterson said. "Those things shouldn't happen."
Carter, who slipped as he tried to make the tackle, credited Jones with a great pass.
"I didn't do my job. I feel I should have made the play," he said. "I was the first person there. It was a great throw by Landry Jones, though."
OU's opening second-half possession, however, seemingly signaled victory for the Sooners. OU led 21-7 when Williams sprung through the left side untouched and outran everyone to the end zone.
The Frogs, though, matched the big play with one of their own, when Boykin hit Brandon Carter for an 80-yard scoring strike, the longest play allowed by OU this season. That cut OU's lead to 21-14 with 9:44 left in the third.
Sooners defensive end and former Keller Fossil Ridge standout R.J. Washington forced Boykin to fumble on a sack and OU recovered at the TCU 40. OU settled for a field goal and led 24-14 after three quarters.
Jaden Oberkrom's 32-yard field goal early in the fourth was ruled wide right despite replays seemingly showing it inside the upright. Oberkrom's 47-yard field goal with seven minutes left cut the lead to 24-17, and OU's 42-yard attempt on its next possession was blown left, setting up TCU's comeback attempt.
TCU learns which bowl it will play in at 7:30 tonight when the matchups are announced on ESPN.