In nail-biter like the TCU-Oklahoma game which unfolded on a crisp November night filled with playoff intensity, it’s easy to come up with a number of different takes about what just transpired. After all, in a one-point ballgame, a number of things could have happened that would have produced an entirely different outcome.
However, there are two things that really stand out about the Sooners’ hard-fought victory.
Let’s start with the obvious: Gary Patterson was absolutely wrong to go for two at the end of the game. While he can argue that his players didn’t want to kick the extra point, the bottom line is that Patterson should have done the right thing and played for overtime.
Make no mistake about it: the Horned Frogs win this game in the extra period. Oklahoma’s offense had struggled just about all night, converting just 4 of 20 on third down. On top of that, TCU’s defense finally found its mojo in the second half, allowing just 64 yards after Oklahoma grabbed a 30-13 lead. The Frogs were especially impressive in fourth quarter, allowing just 10 yards in the final stanza — six if you subtract four yards on the final two kneel-downs.
More impressively, TCU’s defense only allowed one drive longer than 25 yards during that span, giving up 34 yards on the final drive of the third period (which carried over into the fourth). 32 of those yards came on a completion to Sterling Shepard.
Given these awesome numbers, and the fact that the Sooner offense was without Heisman Trophy candidate Baker Mayfield, it didn’t look like Oklahoma had enough firepower to win a shootout. That gave TCU a decided advantage in overtime, as its offense found its rhythm in fourth quarter, finding the end zone three times with Bram Kohlhausen under center.
Keeping all of these factors in mind, there’s only one thought that should have entered Patterson’s mind when TCU pulled within one point.
The thought? “Dude, kick the PAT, your team is playing well enough to win this one in overtime!”
With that disclaimer in mind, it’s important to give Oklahoma all of the credit in the world for winning this game. The OU defense was absolutely awesome all night long, holding TCU to a season-low 390 yards of total offense (which may have been a factor in Patterson’s decision to go for two). It also recorded four sacks, three interceptions, and forced a fumble, which helped put the Sooners up 20-7 in the first half.
Of course, the biggest two plays of the night are things that won’t show up in the stat sheet. Namely, Oklahoma stopped TCU twice on two-point conversions. Had the Frogs converted either one of them, they’d be playing Baylor next weekend for the Big 12 title.
However, thanks to a stellar Crimson and Cream defense, that will not be the case. Oklahoma will head into the Bedlam Series with a chance to win the conference championship. With a “W” in that contest, the Sooners will earn a berth in the College Football Playoff. Although they might not end up in the top four of the College Football Playoff rankings on Tuesday (which are completely useless, by the way), OU would have three consecutive wins over ranked opponents if it beats the Pokes. If the goal is to reward teams for beating quality competition, there’s absolutely no way that the Selection Committee could justify leaving the Sooners out.
Circle your calendars for November 28. It looks like championship week is going to begin a week early.