Throughout the first quarter, TCU had Oklahoma in jeopardy Saturday at Amon G. Carter Stadium.
Then, the script flipped during a decisive second quarter that saw the Sooners score 28 consecutive points and seize control of a contest that was billed as a matchup of Big 12 title contenders.
By the time the Sooners put the finishing touches on a 52-46 escape, OU made the most of a game-turning 42-3 surge during the middle quarters that placed No. 21 TCU (3-2, 1-1 in Big 12) in a comeback mode of epic proportions. But the early deficit proved too large of a gap to close on the defending league champs.
Oklahoma (2-2, 1-0), unranked because of nonconference losses to No. 2 Ohio State (4-0) and No. 6 Houston (5-0), controlled both lines of scrimmage during its second-quarter surge that included touchdowns to cap drives covering 75, 53, 70 and 57 yards. TCU managed only a field goal during that stretch after scoring 21 first-quarter points, the most ever allowed in the opening period by one of coach Bob Stoops’ teams at Oklahoma.
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But that early accomplishment rang hollow, along with the Horned Frogs’ frantic fourth-quarter comeback, because of the defense’s inability to slow any of the Sooners’ primary offensive play-makers while allowing 231 yards and 28 points in the second quarter. Quarterback Baker Mayfield (274 passing yards, 55 rushing yards) ran for one score and threw for two others in that stretch.
Mayfield accounted for four touchdowns (two rushing, two passing) in the contest, combining forces with running backs Samaje Perine (98 rushing yards, 2 TDs) and Joe Mixon (105 rushing yards, 1 TD) to help the Sooners build a 49-24 lead by the 4:11 mark of the fourth quarter that OU was able to protect down the stretch.
It was just embarrassing. That’s not how a TCU defense is. That’s not what TCU is about. That’s just unacceptable.
TCU defensive end Josh Carraway
TCU defensive end Josh Carraway said the Frogs’ effort was “embarrassing” while allowing 356 yards and six touchdowns during the decisive 42-3 run.
“It was just embarrassing,” Carraway said. “That’s not how a TCU defense is. That’s not what TCU is about. That’s just unacceptable.”
Coach Gary Patterson did not drop the E-word. But he was less than thrilled that his unit allowed 534 yards and 6.8 yards per play to the Sooners. He was particularly frustrated by a pair of long touchdown passes from Mayfield to Dede Westbrook, covering 67 and 40 yards, after TCU safeties were burned on double-move routes.
“The defense, you can’t give up big plays by not doing your job on double moves and you’ve got to tackle,” Patterson said. “Offensively, after scoring 21 points, we didn’t play for two quarters. But on defense, we’ve got to tackle. You can’t be about finding a certain blitz and it just be magic. Some day, you’re going to have to get off a block and make a tackle.”
The Frogs struggled in that regard while OU scored touchdowns on six of seven drives during their 42-3 surge. Mayfield said that stretch, which ended with Perine’s 1-yard TD plunge in the third quarter, proved “huge” for the Sooners in helping them rebound from a sluggish September.
On defense, we’ve got to tackle. You can’t be about finding a certain blitz and it just be magic. Some day, you’re going to have to get off a block and make a tackle.
TCU football coach Gary Patterson
“Everybody was saying our season was over. But to start the conference off 1-0 against one of the better teams in the conference, especially on the road, it’s going to be a confidence booster,” Mayfield said.
For the TCU defense, it proved to be a reality check. The Horned Frogs have now allowed 40 or more points in three of their five contests, including losses to OU and No. 20 Arkansas.
“It’s frustrating go out there, give up a lot of points and not be able to finish,” said Carraway, who posted 6.5 tackles, including 1.5 for losses. In particular, Carraway was disappointed that the Frogs’ defensive breakdowns began after stopping Oklahoma on three of its first four drives, including a fumble recovery on the opening possession.
“We’ve just got to have that momentum carry on. I think we got complacent after the first couple of (stops),” Carraway said. “We’ve just got to find a way to keep going ... The last two years, we’ve been able to finish at home. We’ve got to find a way to close these close games out.”