Mac Engel

Sooners put Horned Frogs back in their place

Oklahoma Sooner quarterback Baker Mayfield made an emphatic Heisman Trophy statement with Saturday’s performance against TCU.
Oklahoma Sooner quarterback Baker Mayfield made an emphatic Heisman Trophy statement with Saturday’s performance against TCU. Special to the Star-Telegram

TCU’s band performed flawlessly, especially the dude on electric guitar, and not a single member of the Showgirls dance team was penalized or kicked out of the game.

You should have seen them all ... and that will do it from Norman.

Unfortunately, space and “fairness” mandate more coverage from TCU’s latest trip to Soonerland, so enjoy the following uncomfortable truths:

“The best defense in the Big 12” is a trophy that would not make an adequate paper weight, and the term is an oxymoron.

Having returned to the identity that made the “Horned Frogs” a national brand, TCU’s game on Saturday night at Oklahoma was the opportunity to prove its defense is as good as its gaudy numbers suggest.

It isn’t.

The game was also the chance for the Horned Frogs to tell the BCS Plus 2 cartel that they merit a push for a spot in the college football playoff.

They don’t.

From when this season began on Sept. 2 to today has been fun, and the scene on Saturday in Norman was one of those special fall college football atmospheres, but Frogs at Sooners was too much. TCU isn’t a playoff team. Before an OU-record crowd of 88,308 and a national TV audience, the Sooners ended TCU’s place in the national debate.

The day’s events unfolded perfectly for TCU in its bid to move up the rankings, but then the first snap happened in Norman. The No. 5 Sooners’ 38-20 win over No. 6 TCU on Saturday is depressing for the Horned Frogs, but they earned all of it.

“It’s rough,” TCU quarterback Kenny Hill said. “You want to play in the playoff, but it doesn’t make or break a season for you. We can’t let one loss turn into two. Or three. That will take away from this special season.”

TCU can be an upper tier Big 12 team with a good defense, and still win a Big 12 title this season. To crack the nation’s top four, however, TCU has to find better players.

Bigger ones. Faster ones. Oklahoma proved that too many times to count.

Do not let any TCU staffer sell the fact that the Frogs shutout Oklahoma in the second half. There is no spin for this one.

“Give Oklahoma credit here,” TCU head coach Gary Patterson said. “Give our group credit in the second half; we got after them. Simple as that.”

Yeah, not really. By the time the second half started, the game was gone.

The challenge for GP is not allowing the neutering of the Frogs that took place in Norman to disable the rest of the season. Because the Big 12 is as much of a chaotic mess as the national top 10, TCU can still finish in the top two of the conference.

The only way that happens is if GP can convince his players not to check out; TCU must win at Texas Tech and at home against Baylor.

A top two finish means qualifying for the inaugural Big 12 title game in Arlington, which would mean another episode of TCU vs. Oklahoma.

The Frogs will be heavy favorites in each of their next two, but the “Give Up” card should not be denied. Teams that are in heavy talks about the playoffs and lose this late in the year tend to find the quest for the Blah Bowl not quite so interesting.

GP needs to convince his kids to remain interested.

If he can, then they will have the chance to convince the rest of us they deserve to be on the same field as Oklahoma. Nothing they did on Saturday night, though, suggested they do.

Pick a number, any number, and TCU was shredded.

With 5:29 remaining in the first half, TCU had allowed more points against the Sooners — 31 — than the previous four games combined, 27.

Hill has acquitted himself all season, and he’s going to hear it after this dud, but he ain’t Baker Mayfield. And it’s not Hill’s fault his defense was routinely being spanked on Mayfield’s knee.

The Sooners scored 38 points in the first half, more than TCU had given up in an entire game this season. SMU put 36 points on TCU in a blowout loss.

“We spotted a good team too many points,” Patterson said.

No argument here.

Patterson said he thought TCU had to keep Oklahoma in the 20s to have a chance. That happened, in the first quarter.

From the looks of my screen, it appears as if I have more space, so I have to keep going.

The Sooners racked up 13 plays of at least 10 yards, all in the first half. TCU’s big boy defense allowed plays of 46 yards (twice), 30 yards, 24 yards (twice), 50 yards, and 33 yards. Again, those are all in the first half.

Mayfield finished the first half with 299 passing yards and is a lock to be a finalist for the Heisman. The Sooners were “limited” to 96 rushing yards, also in the first half.

By the end of the game, OU running back Rodney Anderson ran for 151 yards with two touchdowns, and caught five passes for 139 yards. And two touchdowns.

Meanwhile, TCU running back Darius Anderson was wearing a boot on his foot and GP said he think his leading rusher is out for year.

All of those sacks collected by TCU defensive ends Ben Banogu and Mat Boesen were nowhere to be found against OU’s offensive line. The defense was not helped when Boesen was ejected in the first half for kicking an OU player.

“He deserved to get kicked out; I told him that in the locker room,” Patterson said, who also told his team at the break if they didn’t play in the second half they were going to scrimmage on Sunday.

Boesen’s offending play was a nice reverse parable for the evening: TCU was kicking while it was getting its butt kicked.

Don’t let the defense absorb all of this; Hill ‘n’ friends transformed an OU defense that allowed an average of 36 points in the past six games into a passable unit.

The only real highlight of the night for TCU was the band, which was fantastic.

And now I’m out of room.

Mac Engel: @macengelprof