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Oklahoma rolls to Big 12 title with 41-17 win over TCU

Baker Mayfield likely wrapped up the Heisman with 243 passing yards, 65 rushing yards, and four touchdowns.

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NCAA Football: Big 12 Championship-Texas Christian vs Oklahoma Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Fourth Quarter

0:00. And that’s that. OU would have been in the CFP without a championship game, but the Sooners managed to escape upset and, as far as I can tell, major injury. Total yards in the second half: OU 226, TCU 95.

6:00. OU’s gone into full eat-the-ball mode, so let’s talk about OU’s defense. The Sooners have gone into eat-the-ball mode and will almost assuredly close out a comfortable win thanks to their brilliant third quarter. They have held TCU to 17 points and played a nearly perfect third quarter.

If TCU doesn’t score again, that means the Sooners will close the season having allowed 18 points per game in their last four contests, and the only reason it’s that high is because West Virginia scored 21 second-half points when down big last week. Combined with the fact that the Sooners allowed just 37 points in three non-conference games (including just 16 against Ohio State), that means that for half the season, OU’s defense has been awesome.

The other half, though, is why the Sooners came into the game 100th in Def. S&P+. They were that bad. They allowed 36 points per game and 6.6 yards per play. The Big 12 is really good at offense, but those are miserable numbers. OU could still lay a big defensive egg in the CFP ... but at this point, with what we’ve seen lately (and what we saw against Ohio State), it’s hard to say that for sure, isn’t it?

Third Quarter

0:00. The fourth quarter will begin with third-and-14 for TCU at its 46.

2:14. Oklahoma 41, TCU 17. Desperation has set in. On the Horned Frogs’ first play, Hill throws deep into double coverage, and Will Johnson picks it off and returns it to the TCU 12. A holding penalty kills the Sooners’ TD hopes, but Seibert makes a 40-yarder to make it a 24-point game.

5:19. OU flips the field with ease with a 17-yard pass to Andrews and a defensive pass interference, but the Sooners punt for the first time all game. It’s downed beautifully at the TCU 4.

8:09. After Hill is sacked to force a third-and-6, the Frogs run a zone read, and it’s eaten up. Three and out. You could make a pretty convincing case that TCU should have just gone for it on fourth down, but a zone read on third-and-6 screams “We’re out of ideas.” OU will take over at its 20, dagger in hand.

10:41: Oklahoma 38, TCU 17. Aaaaaaaand that’s just about ball game. On OU’s second play of the drive, Marquise Brown pulls a perfect stutter-and-go on a safety and burns him deep for a 52-yard score. OU’s gained 114 yards and scored twice on three plays in the second half. The Playoff bid is just about secured.

First five minutes of each half: OU 24, TCU 0. Rest of the game: TCU 17, OU 14.

11:56. TCU gets too cute. After a 32-yard catch-and-run for Hicks gets the Frogs into OU territory, Hicks comes up just short on third-and-3, and the Sooners aren’t fooled by a fourth-and-1 bootleg by Hill. He’s stopped inches short.

14:26. Oklahoma 31, TCU 17. SUBOPTIMAL START for TCU. On OU’s first play, Mayfield looks off the safety to the right, then finds Mykel Jones open to the left. Jones rolls 55 yards untouched, and OU is up two possessions again.

14:37. TCU had things set up pretty perfectly, scoring to make it a seven-point game at half, then getting the ball to start the second half. Only, the Frogs can’t take advantage. Three incompletions and a false start, and they punt.

Halftime

Some stats:

  • Total yards: OU 235, TCU 222
  • Baker Mayfield (OU) is 12-for-17 for 119 yards and two touchdowns, plus six carries for 65 yards.
  • Kenny Hill (TCU) is 19-for-24 for 159 yards and two scores, plus seven carries for 36 yards. Big plays have been at a minimum, and the biggest (the 54-yarder by Mayfield) didn't result in any points.
  • Kyle Hicks (TCU): four carries for 26 yards, plus four catches for 26 yards.
  • Rodney Anderson (OU): 10 carries for 49 yards
  • Mark Andrews (OU): six catches for 41 yards and two touchdowns
  • John Diarse (TCU): four catches for 53 yards and one touchdown

Basically, the fumble on TCU’s first snap is making the difference so far.

Second Quarter

0:00. Oklahoma 24, TCU 17. A nice, patient drive by TCU to end the half. Hill dinks and dunks down the field, completing six of eight passes and drawing a pass interference penalty. An ill-timed Hill sneak (that doesn’t work) forces the Frogs to use their final timeout and settle for a field goal, but Cole Bruce’s 26-yarder cuts OU’s lead to seven points at halftime.

3:45. Oklahoma 24, TCU 14. Blink, and OU’s in TCU territory. A good kick return and face mask penalty mean OU starts at its 49, and after a 10-yard Rodney Anderson and 13-yard Mark Andrews catch, the Sooners are inside the 30. Three rushes gain only nine yards, but TCU jumps offsides on fourth-and-1.

Once again: you only get one chance to stop OU. Two plays later, Mayfield and Andrews connect for a six-yard touchdown. (Granted, both of those plays featured pretty easy holding penalties that went uncalled. But hey, do it till they call it.) OU’s lead is back to two possessions.

7:44. Oklahoma 17, TCU 14. Power, mixed with a little bit of danger. TCU crawls closer with a big drive from Kyle Hicks, who carries three times for 33 yards and catches a six-yard pass.

Hill bobbles a carry and nearly throws a pick six, too, but all’s well that ends well: on second-and-3 from the OU 17, Hill lobs to Diarse along the left sideline. Diarse makes a catch so good the ref couldn’t believe he made it. Replay shows a beautiful, one-handed touchdown.

TCU is alive and well.

11:40. A bullet dodged. On the first play of OU’s ensuing drive, Mayfield bolts upfield for a 54-yard gain — he reads a situation and reacts before he’s even done reading. But a play later, he’s stripped Ben Banogu for a five-yard loss, and after Andrew can’t quite reel in a tough ball in the end zone, Seibert misses a 43-yard field goal wide. OU gained another 58 yards and is on pace for about 600 yards for the game, but it’s still 17-7.

14:07. Oklahoma 17, TCU 7. Hooooo, what a throw and catch. On third-and-15 on the second play of the quarter, Hill lobs a perfect pass to Jalen Reagor, who fends off Parnell Motley and reels in a 29-yard TD along the sideline. Game ain’t over just yet.

First Quarter

0:00. The quarter ends with TCU driving. Hill scrambles for 18 yards on an early third-and-5, and Hill completes a short pass to Diarse, who runs over a defender and gets upfield. Amani Bledsoe sacks Hill on the last play of the quarter, and the Frogs will begin the second quarter with a second-and-14 from the 28.

2:29. Oklahoma 17, TCU 0. The first truly bad defensive play for TCU is a killer. On third-and-12, Mayfield fires a quick pass to bouncy Marquise Brown on the right side. Safety Niko Small, who was yelling about what appeared to be an alignment issue on the other side of the field, misses a tackle on Brown, who bursts upfield for 29 yards.

You knew what was going to happen from there. Seven plays later, it’s Mayfield to Mark Andrews for a five-yard score.

You only get about one chance per drive to close out against OU. TCU didn’t, and this could get out of hand.

8:11. Better, at least. Hill hits Kevontae Turpin for 11 yards and John Diarse for 15, but the Frogs' second drive stalls out just inside OU territory, and Adam Nunez’s punt isn't great — it's out of bounds at the OU 19. The next time the Frogs touch the ball, they might be down 17.

10:21. Oklahoma 10, TCU 0. Welp. On TCU’s first play from scrimmage, Kyle Hicks is hemmed in out wide and is stripped. Caleb Kelly collects the loose ball and takes it back 18 yards for a score, giving TCU quarterback Kenny Hill a nasty stiffarm at the end. TCU’s on Danger Alert, and we’re not yet five minutes in.

10:30. Oklahoma 3, TCU 0. It’s so demoralizing trying to stop the OU offense. TCU did all you can do on the Sooners’ first drive — create some third-and-longs, force them to attempt fourth-down conversions, tackle well, prevent deep balls, etc. They did all of that, but OU still got a field goal out. Austin Seibert’s 41-yard attempt is straight down the middle.

Field goals aren’t going to beat you, though, so this is a victory for the Frogs.


Preview

The Big 12 Championship makes its return this week after a six-year hiatus, and the college football world will be closely watching when the No. 3 Oklahoma Sooners (11-1) take on the No. 11 TCU Horned Frogs (10-2) at AT&T Stadium. The game kicks off at 12:30 p.m. ET on FOX (live streams at Fox Sports Go and FuboTV).

The Sooners found themselves ranked in the College Football Playoff this week, so they face a relatively straightforward path — beat the Horned Frogs for the second time this season, and they’re in. Oklahoma has a pristine resume, with wins over the likes of Ohio State, Oklahoma State, and TCU just three weeks ago. Their only stumble was a home loss to an upstart Iowa State team, which hasn’t hurt them in the long run.

With Baker Mayfield as the potential Heisman frontunner, Oklahoma is looking for a repeat of its Nov. 11 matchup with TCU. There, the Sooners jumped out to a 38-14 halftime lead and cruised to the win, with Mayfield throwing for three touchdowns and 333 yards. If they beat the Horned Frogs again, Oklahoma should have smooth sailing to the Playoff as Big 12 champions.

However, things will get interesting if TCU pulls off the win. The Horned Frogs have a solid resume themselves, also beating Oklahoma State. But they have two losses (to Iowa State and Oklahoma) and entered the week ranked No. 11, so they’re almost certainly out of the picture. But knocking out Oklahoma will cause a domino effect across the rest of the rankings, possibly resulting in Alabama or Ohio State sneaking in. Either way, a New Year’s Six bowl game is well within sight for Gary Patterson’s squad.

Time, TV channel, and streaming info

  • Time: 12:30 p.m. ET
  • Location: AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas
  • TV: FOX
  • Streaming: Fox Sports Go, FuboTV
  • Odds: Oklahoma is favored by 7

Big 12 Championship news

  • Bringing back the conference title game is a massive risk for the Big 12, writes Jason Kirk.

The Sooners entered their 12th game ranked No. 4. And then No. 1 Alabama and No. 2 Miami lost as OU added a blowout win over a 7-5 team. Bama can’t make it up with an SEC title win, either.

With an 11-1 record, conference title, and a dominant road win at Ohio State, OU would’ve thus made it in.

  • Oklahoma missed the cut for the Joe Moore Award (presented to the country’s best offensive line), and Mayfield wasn’t too pleased.

Mayfield probably has a right to be upset here. According to the Adjusted Line Yards statistic, which attempts to separate the ability of a running back from the ability of the offensive line, the Sooners are No. 2 in the country. Auburn ranks 24th in that same category, Alabama seventh, and Notre Dame fourth. Oh, and Auburn gave up a whopping 11 sacks to Clemson earlier in the season, too.

A stellar performance from the Oklahoma offense is a fact of life for 2017; the Sooners are going to get theirs. A win over the Sooners lies not through stopping their offense, but rather through affecting the margins of their game plan, through bending and not breaking, through temperance. The Frogs cannot stop the Oklahoma offense. The Frogs can temper the Oklahoma offense. The Frogs did it on only two drives the last time they played: Oklahoma scored touchdowns on five of seven first half drives. OU averages 1.47 points per successful play, meaning that they average a touchdown every 5 successful plays, more or less.

But just how dominant has OU been during the past three Novembers? For starters, Oklahoma is averaging an outrageous 47.2 points per game while only allowing 25.8 PPG in those contests. A three-touchdown average win margin over an 11-game sample is about as dominant as it gets. It’s even more impressive to know that six of those wins came against ranked teams. Moreover, six of those games were also on the road.

Big 12 Championship prediction

It’d be fun to root for chaos and see the Big 12 screw itself again. And with Patterson having a second chance to game plan for Mayfield, an upset is more likely than you think. But in the end, I think sanity prevails and the Sooners grind out a close one, making the Playoff committee’s job a little easier over the weekend.