HALFTIME: TCU comes back to make it a game in Big 12 championship

By John Henry

Special to the Star-Telegram

ARLINGTON – The head coaches met at midfield and exchanged pleasantries just as head coaches do.

No one walked through any warmup lines. No one threw any footballs at anybody’s head. Baker Mayfield didn’t teach Anatomy 101 Oklahoma style.

On the field, Mayfield was his typical self, passing for 119 yards on 12-of-19 throws and two touchdowns in leading the Sooners to a 24-17 halftime lead in the Big 12 Championship Game on Saturday at AT&T Stadium.

That represents a monster triumph for TCU, which weathered a fierce storm in falling behind 17 points in the first quarter. The Horned Frogs fought back on the back of TD receptions by Jalen Reagor and a circus grab by John Diarse, both from QB Kenny Hill.

Some observations.

Leaping lizards! A stop!

Time will tell, but TCU, down 17-7, got perhaps its biggest stop of the season at the 11:40 mark of the second quarter.

OU and Baker Mayfield were doing as they pleased through the first 15 minutes in building a 17-0 lead, and the Sooners’ fourth drive started in the same fashion. Mayfield went for 54 yards on a keeper to set up OU at the TCU 30.

To no surprise, considering Oklahoma could seem to do no wrong, running back Rodney Anderson next ran for 9 yards.

However, the Horned Frogs hunkered down.

TCU’s Ben Banogu sacked Mayfield for a 6-yard loss. On third down, Mayfield’s pass to Mark Andrews in the end zone fell incomplete as Niko Small defended.

Austin Seibert’s 43-yard field-goal attempt sailed wide left.

The Frogs got the stop it desperately needed, in both terms of practicality and morale.

TCU took the ball back and drove 74 yards in nine plays, scoring on John Diarse’s one-handed grab of Kenny Hill’s pass.

Mistake take

No. 3 Oklahoma’s offense operates as if on a land run in the late 1800s. Needless to say, it doesn’t need any help, but TCU gave the Sooners some in the first half with two crucial miscues.

Kyle Hicks’ fumble on the Frogs’ first play from scrimmage, and Caleb Kelly’s 18-yard TD return put TCU in a 10-0 hole.

Later, having cut a 17-point lead to three, Sammy Douglas was called for a facemask on Jeff Badet’s kickoff return. The 15-yard walkoff enabled OU to start its drive at midfield.

That’s like driving the Chisholm Trail Parkway without having to pay a toll for four miles.

The Sooners scored on the drive, Mayfield to Mark Andrews, to back its lead back to 10.

Earlier in the game while down 10, TCU backed OU into a third-and-12 hole at the Sooners’ 17 after Ben Banogo and Mat Boesen combined to drop Rodney Anderson for a 4-yard loss.

Marquise Brown bailed out OU, taking a short pass from Mayfield, breaking two TCU tackle attempts, and rumbling on for 29 yards for a new set of downs for OU to the 46.

That gave OU more fuel, leading to Andrews’ first TD reception and an OU 17-0 lead.

Somebody find Mark Andrews

The Frogs need to put a reflector vest on Mark Andrews, OU’s top receiver.

The junior tight end was Mayfield’s top target, catching six passes for 41 yards and two touchdowns in the first half.

It might be the one he didn’t catch that we all remember.

TCU’s Nico Small broke up a very catchable ball in Andrews’ direction that forced OU to try a field goal that it missed.

That led to the Frogs’ second TD, to Diarse.

The Thrill his back

TCU’s Kenny Hill loves AT&T Stadium.

This is where he led Southlake Carroll to its eighth state title in 2012 with an MVP performance

It’s also where as quarterback for Texas A&M, he passed for 384 yards and four touchdowns in a victory against Arkansas in 2014.

Hill was pretty good in the first half, throwing for two TDs and 159 yards. He was 19 for 24.

Hill has thrown four TDs or more in eight career games.

He could do it again.


3 points TCU has given up in the second half in its past six games. The Frogs shut out OU in the teams’ game Nov. 11.

4 for 5 TCU on third-down attempts. Oklahoma was 4 for 8.

132-22 OU’s edge in total yardage at the 2:29 mark of the first quarter. The Sooners led 17-0 at that point.

200-104 TCU’s edge in total yardage since the 2:29 mark of the first quarter, a span during which the Frogs outscored OU 17-7.