TCU came into its Norman match up with No. 11 Oklahoma at 2-2, but everyone knew coming in, that the Horned Frogs wouldn’t be taken lightly.
With one of the better defensive squads in the country, it definitely showed during the Oct. 5 game.
Although the Frogs entered the night allowing almost 23 points per game, they did have a conference-leading nine interceptions, which was also good for fifth-best in the nation.
TCU (2-3, 0-2 Big 12 Conference) and its defense finished first or second in yards per game from 2008-10, but in four games this season, have allowed nearly 354 per game. It was now facing a Sooner offense that was averaging 480 yards, and 34 points per game, while rushing for a total of 1,027 yards, first in the conference.
But as the game started and continued on, the fans that packed the Gaylord Memorial Stadium began to realize that this wouldn’t be a regular high-scoring affair that they’re accustomed to watching.
After one quarter, the Sooners (5-0, 2-0 Big 12) led 3-0. TCU had run just nine plays for nine yards, going three-and-out in all three drives. OU got most of its yards from its second drive, running 11 plays for 42 yards before Michael Hunnicutt kicked in three points from the 29-yard line.
The second quarter was won by OU again, as the Frogs went three-and-out on all three of their drives, gaining only two yards.
The Sooners punted twice before a 13-play, 84-yard drive resulting in an 8-yard rushing touchdown from senior Trey Millard. OU capped off the half with a Hunnicutt 37-yard field goal as time expired.
The second half was a whole different story. All night long, it was said that TCU was a second-half team. No wonder why. Coming into the game, TCU had scored 89 of its 113 points in the third and fourth quarters. You can add 17 more to the pot.
The Frogs held the Sooners to four yards on eight plays in the third, and forced a fumble on the Sooners’ second drive of the quarter. TCU turned that into points, a 25-yard field goal to cut the deficit to 10.
TCU then caught everyone off guard, including myself as I was watching it on FOX, and recovered an onside kick to start on the OU 35.
Six plays later, the deficit turned into three after Trevone Boykin ran into the end zone from the 2.
Entering the final quarter, each team punted the ball twice. With 5:30 left to play, OU had the ball once again, looking to score or eat up some clock.
Senior Brennan Clay rushed for six yards on first down, then burst for a career-high 76-yard touchdown to make it a 10-point game once more.
Almost all Sooner fans, I know I did, thought the game was in the bag with 4:37 left, but on first down on the ensuing drive, Boykin connected for a 45-yard bomb to David Porter that brought the ball to the Sooners 30. Four plays later, Boykin rushed in from the 8 for his second score of the game. TCU found themselves down three again with 2:26 remaining.
Blake Bell then turned into that superhero we all knew last year, the Belldozer. Bell would rush for 13 yards and 17 yards to exhaust TCU’s timeouts and the Sooners came away with the win to start 5-0 for the eighth time in the Bob Stoops’ era.
There were 16 punts in the game, TCU had nine and OU had seven, and just six third-down conversions out of 27 chances.
Bell finished with 152 yards, after averaging 323.5 in his previous two starts. He did, however, rush for 61 yards and helped the Sooners gain 203 on the night. Clay finished with 111 yards on nine carries.
Oklahoma has won 10-straight Big 12 games. The Sooners have won their last three against TCU since the Horned Frogs won in Norman in 2005.
With the two field goals, Hunnicutt became the school’s all-time leader in field goals with 50, breaking the school record he had shared with Tim Duncan (1999-2001) and Tim Lashar (1983-1986).
VIEW FROM A FAN: After two successful starts, Bell slightly fell back to Earth, facing a stout defense in TCU. The Horned Frogs were able to put pressure on him all night long, and pressed hard on his receivers, making it hard at times for Bell to find people down field.
If the Sooners want to win the Big 12 and make it to a BCS game, in which you know they’ll go up against a good defense, especially if it’s one from the SEC, Bell will have to do more “Belldozing,” like he did in the fourth quarter against TCU.
Once he starts to run more, the defense will see that and receivers will become more open, debating whether or not Bell will throw it or keep it. Next week should be a good test for that, as OU faces Texas in the Red River Rivalry. The Longhorns have allowed plenty of rush yards thus far, but with a weaker defense, this would be a good time for Bell and the Sooners to test out more “Belldozing.”