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Sooners hope momentum carries against TCU

November 22, 2019 ▪ By Ray Dozier

Imagine how lethal the Sooners could be if they put together a whole football game, something they haven’t done in the last three games.

Oklahoma trailed Kansas State by 25 points early in the fourth quarter, and outplayed the Wildcats in the final 12-and-a-half minutes but came up on the short end of the scoreboard. OU scored 18 unanswered points and held KSU no first downs and 22 meaningful yards (not counting the -6 yards in victory formation).

Two weeks later, the Sooners jumped to a 35-14 halftime lead over Iowa State but held on for a 42-41 victory. Last weekend, OU outscored Baylor 31-3 in the final 35 minutes to overcome the largest deficit in school history (25 points) for a 34-31 win.

"Our goal, no doubt, is to be able to play more consistently in the last few games of the season," Riley said Monday at his weekly press conference. "We’ve got to lay it on the line emotionally again this week and play a little cleaner throughout."

No. 9 Oklahoma (9-1, 6-1 Big 12) will try to lay it all on the line Saturday (7 p.m. FOX) when it hosts TCU (5-5, 3-4) in the final home game of the 2019 season. A victory by the Sooners clinches a berth at the Big 12 Championship in two weeks.

Four of the five Horned Frogs’ losses this season have been by seven points or less. Iowa State handed them their worst loss (49-24) seven weeks ago in Ames. TCU currently ranks 44th nationally in scoring (32.3 average) and 40th in total offense (439.1).

Quarterback is not one of the team’s solid positions. Freshman Max Duggan has completed 56.4 percent of his passes for 187 yards per game, 15 TDs, and 7 INTs. He had his best performance last weekend against Texas Tech with 398 yards of total offense (323 passing, 75 rushing), but tossed three interceptions in the two games before the Red Raiders’ game.

Jalen Reagor is his primary target with 36 catches for 545 yards and 5 TDs. Reagor is dangerous on punt returns. He is second nationally with an 18.4-yard average and a touchdown. The Sooners have been decent in punt return coverage allowing 7.9 yards per return (No. 64).

Receiver Taye Barber is another viable weapon as evident by grabbing 8 passes for 137 yards last week in TCU’s 33-31 win over Texas Tech. The running back duo of Darius Anderson and Sewo Olonilua have combined for 1,273 yards and 12 TDs.

The Frogs led most of their contest against the Red Raiders, but Tech fought back to take a 31-30 lead in the fourth quarter. TCU kicker Jonathan Song booted a field goal, his fourth of the day, with 5:38 remaining for the victory. Song is 21-of-22 on the season. He ranks third nationally with 2.1 field goals per game.

The Frogs defense held the Raiders to 9 yards on Tech’s last two possessions and forced a fumble to seal the win.

A stout defense has always been the signature of Gary Patterson’s Horned Frogs. TCU has allowed 26.9 points (No. 61) and 328.8 yards (No. 26) per game. The total yards given up this year is Patterson’s second-best since joining the Big 12 Conference. The Frogs are better at stopping the run (119.5 average) than the pass (209.3).

Linebacker Garret Wallow leads the Frogs with 97 tackles, including 13 for loss. Safety Trevon Moehrig has a team-high 4 interceptions in addition to a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. Cornerback Jeff Gladney has one pick and broke up 12 passes this year.

The Sooners blew out TCU, 52-27, last year in Fort Worth. The Frogs trailed 28-7 midway through the second quarter then scored 17 unanswered points to cut their deficit to 28-24. OU commanded the second half by outscoring TCU 24-3.

Kyler Murray threw for 213 yards and 4 TDs. Cee Dee Lamb hauled in 5 passes for 91 yards, and a score and Lee Morris scored twice. Kennedy Brooks rushed for 168 yards on 18 carries (9.3 yards per pop), and Trey Sermon picked up 110 yards and scored twice. Kenneth Murray logged 11 tackles.

Last week, Oklahoma had its biggest comeback in school history with a 34-31 win over Baylor. The Bears controlled most of the first half and jumped to a 28-3 lead with 11:02 left in the second period. After driving for a touchdown and holding Baylor to a field goal, the Sooners trailed 31-10 at halftime.

Baylor had racked up 238 total yards to 157 for OU. Jalen Hurts struggled with just 8 of 14 passing for 80 yards, 1 TD, and 1 INT. Hurts, the Sooners’ leading rusher this year, had only 8 carries for 54 yards, fumbled away once, and was sacked three times. Bears’ QB Charlie Brewer eluded Oklahoma defenders for 73 rushing yards, two touchdowns, 146 passing yards, and two more scores.

The script was flipped in the second half:

OU scored 24 unanswered points, rolled up 368 yards while the defense held the Bears to 69 yards and no points. Hurts completed 22 of 28 for 217 yards, 3 TDs rushed for 88 yards and scored once. All of this was done without Cee Dee Lamb, who was sidelined with an injury; however, the tight ends stepped up--Austin Stogner caught 2 passes for 8 yards (both touchdowns). Brayden Willis caught one pass for a score, and Lee Morris led the pack with 7 grabs for 86 yards but didn’t reach the end zone. Freshman receiver Theo Wease also caught a TD pass.

Hurts earned player of the week honors from the Walter Camp Football Foundation and Davey O’Brien Foundation, and his third weekly player of the week honor by the Big 12.

The Sooners defense flustered Brewer in the second half. The Baylor QB was 5 of 11 for 54 yards, one pick, and rushed for -12 yards. The defense also forced a fumble and the interception. The fumble occurred when Parnell Motley stripped the ball from Baylor’s JaMycal Hasty, and Pat Fields recovered for OU at the Bears’ 45. Oklahoma couldn’t capitalize as Hurts fumbled at the goal line after the Sooners moved into scoring position.

Gabe Brkic nailed a 31-yard field goal with 1:45 remaining to lift Oklahoma to a 34-31 lead. The Bears quickly moved to the OU 40, but linebacker Nik Bonitto picked off Brewer’s pass to seal the victory.

Linebacker Kenneth Murray led the Sooners with 8 tackles, including behind the line of scrimmage, and he was named the Lott IMPACT Trophy Player of the Week.

Oklahoma wore out Baylor’s defense with an advantage of 24:20-5:30 in time of possession. The Sooners, known for quick strikes in Lincoln Riley’s offense, had second-half scoring drives of 12, 13, and 13 plays.

According to ESPN Stats & Info, OU's 21-point halftime deficit (31-10) is the largest overcome to defeat an FBS team that entered the game 9-0 or better since NCAA classification began in 1937. OU also became the first team ever to beat a CFP-ranked team when trailing by 25 or more points.

Last weekend’s victory is a huge momentum builder for OU heading into the previous two games of the season. The Sooners comeback was the talk of the nation. The Football Writer’s Association of America named OU its National Team of the Week.

Oklahoma sits at the ninth spot in the College Football Playoff ranking and will need help with upsets of the eight higher-ranked teams. That scenario is out of the Sooners' hands, but all they need to do is put together 60 minutes of solid football the next two to three games.

TCU cornerback Jeff Gladney was ejected last week for targeting in the third quarter and will sit out the first half against OU. It might be beneficial for Riley to call pass plays toward his backup Tre’Vius Hodges- Tomlinson, who has played in only one game this year.

TCU is looking for its sixth win to be bowl eligible. The Frogs are going to have to confuse Hurts’ decisions; something not many teams have had success this year.

Sooners 44, Horned Frogs 24.

Fast Facts

  • OU leads the series 14-5, including five straight wins.
  • OU leads 5-4, including 4 straight victories, in Norman.
  • OU is favored by 19.
  • Lincoln Riley’s record: 33-5 (.868) overall; 2-0 vs. TCU; 17-1 at home; 25-2 vs. unranked opponents; 24-3 vs. conference foes.
  • Gary Patterson’s record: 172-68 (.717) overall; 2-8 vs. OU; 70-36 on the road; 26-6 vs. ranked foes; 107-50 vs. conference opponents.

Articles by Ray Dozier