TCU got the rematch it wanted. Oklahoma got the judgment it wanted.
Scoring on two of their first three snaps of the second half, the Sooners declared themselves not only on their way to a Big 12 championship, but dead set on a national title.
Two long touchdown throws by Heisman Trophy favorite Baker Mayfield to start the second half broke open a one-score game and powered a 41-17 victory against the Horned Frogs in the Big 12 championship game Saturday at AT&T Stadium, effectively clinching a spot in the College Football Playoff for the Sooners.
TCU (10-3) is likely relegated to the Alamo Bowl as the Big 12’s second-place team after giving up 21 points in the third quarter. The Horned Frogs hadn’t allowed a touchdown past halftime in their previous seven games.
“Two teams that wanted to win it; it was a close game at halftime, and we didn’t do what we needed to do,” TCU coach Gary Patterson said. “But that’s what Oklahoma — they want to win a championship — needed to do, and they did it. They came out in the second half and imposed their will.”
The Frogs had longshot hopes for the CFP with a win, but that possibility didn’t live long after halftime. A New Year’s Six bowl game also became less likely if the Frogs failed to impress the playoff committee, which assigns those matchups, as well.
“Proud of them being our conference champion,” Patterson said of the Sooners, who put up the two highest point totals TCU allowed this season, including a 38-20 victory on Nov. 11 in Norman. “You want to beat them in the game. Now it’s the end of the day, you need to cheer for them.”
The Sooners and Mayfield, with the nation’s top offense, proved a clear cut above the Frogs and Patterson, the Big 12’s top defense. Mayfield finished with four touchdown passes, and the Sooners averaged 7.0 yards per play. In the November game, it was 7.8.
There was not much different in the rematch, except the OU offensive onslaught didn’t hit until the second half this time.
“The worst thing that could have happened in the third quarter happened,” Patterson said. “We didn’t keep the football, we didn’t go down and score, and they got two big plays. And the game was over. That’s not the way you want it to happen. That’s probably the worst scenario we could have had, and it happened.”
The Frogs were in trouble from the start, however. After the Sooners drove for a field goal to open the game, TCU senior Kyle Hicks fumbled on his team’s first snap, and linebacker Caleb Kelly scooped it up for a touchdown and a 10-0 Oklahoma lead.
“Against a team like that, especially offensively, you can’t make mistakes,” Patterson said. “We did a good job fighting back in the first half, getting it to a one-score game. And then you can’t give up big plays, and we gave up a couple. On offense, we’ve got to do a better job in the second half. They turned up the volume, and we did not.”
TCU didn’t score after halftime.
Not that there wasn’t a chance. But the Frogs’ second drive of the half ended when quarterback Kenny Hill was stopped short on a fourth-and-1 naked bootleg in Oklahoma territory. On the next play, Mayfield hit one of his touchdown passes for a 38-17 lead.
In the third quarter, Hill was intercepted in TCU’s end of the field, and the resulting field goal accounted for the final score.
“They just came out and played their football game,” TCU linebacker Travin Howard said. “We didn’t execute, like Coach P said. That’s pretty much it. We just have to pay attention to details and execute our calls.”
If there was any doubt about the better team by game’s end, that was too late. It was clear by the middle of the third quarter.
“They asked me if I thought they were one of the best ones in the country, and I said, ‘Yep,’ ” Patterson said. “I told them their offense is probably just like when we played Sam Bradford back in 2008 and they played for a national championship.”
In two games against OU this year, TCU was outscored 79-37. Sometimes a bad matchup is just a bad matchup.
“I told them this isn’t a hang-your-head deal because you lost to a good football team,” Patterson said of his players. “A team that’s got a chance to give whoever they play in the playoffs everything they want. Especially offensively.”
Yes, that was clear. For a second time.
OKL—FG Seibert 41, 10:30
OKL—Kelly 18 fumble return (Seibert kick), 10:21
OKL—Andrews 5 pass from Mayfield (Seibert kick), 2:29
TCU—Reagor 29 pass from Hill (Bunce kick), 14:07
TCU—Diarse 12 pass from Hill (Bunce kick), 7:44
OKL—Andrews 6 pass from Mayfield (Seibert kick), 3:45
TCU—FG Bunce 26, :04
OKL—M.Jones 55 pass from Mayfield (Seibert kick), 14:26
OKL—M.Brown 52 pass from Mayfield (Seibert kick), 10:41
OKL—FG Seibert 40, 2:14
Time of Possession
RUSHING—TCU, Hill 13-51, Hicks 8-32, Olonilua 2-1, D.White 1-(minus 1). Oklahoma, R.Anderson 24-93, Mayfield 6-65, Sermon 10-63, Samia 0-0, (Team) 3-(minus 3).
PASSING—TCU, Hill 27-37-1-234. Oklahoma, Mayfield 15-23-0-243.
RECEIVING—TCU, Turpin 6-39, Diarse 5-66, Hicks 5-58, D.White 5-28, Reagor 2-30, Stewart 1-6, Hunt 1-5, Olonilua 1-1, Hill 1-1. Oklahoma, Andrews 7-58, M.Brown 3-87, M.Jones 3-67, Flowers 1-18, Sermon 1-13.
MISSED FIELD GOALS—Oklahoma, Seibert 43.