Oklahoma’s generally controlled the Big 12 since the end of the last century, with occasional interventions. Between the end of Texas being good (following the 2009 season) and the possible return of Texas being good (right now, in 2018), a rotating cast of teams have taken turns acting like they might be the biggest long-term threat to the Sooners.
One of those teams has been TCU. The Horned Frogs joined the Big 12 in 2012 and have posted three double-digit-win seasons since then, peaking with a 12-1 2014 that saw the Frogs barely miss out on the inaugural College Football Playoff. But they’ve never broken through for an outright win, and it looks like it’ll be a long while before they do.
The single biggest reason, which got in the way again Saturday: Oklahoma, 52-27, fresh off a loss to Texas and a firing of DC Mike Stoops.
The Frogs absolutely cannot beat the Oklahoma Sooners. Or, they did once, a 37-33 win in Fort Worth in 2014, but are still a lousy 1-7 against OU since joining the league. The latest installment is Oklahoma’s 52-27 romp at Amon G. Carter Stadium in Week 8.
TCU was already not winning the Big 12 this year, but the Sooners have put the Frogs even farther down in the league pecking order. That’s after beating them twice to deny them a league title in 2017, including in the first edition of the revived Big 12 Championship Game. That’s after beating them what turned out be the conference’s decisive game in 2015, when Oklahoma went to the Playoff and TCU finished one game back in the standings.
Lincoln Riley’s one of the sport’s great offensive coaches. Gary Patterson’s one of its great defensive coaches. And Riley owns Patterson.
The results since Riley’s arrival as OU’s offensive coordinator:
Since Riley got to OU, OU has scored the following points against TCU:— Crimson & Scream Machine (@CCMachine) October 20, 2018
2017 CCG: 41
That’s 42.6 points per game for the Sooners, all in wins, the last three while Riley’s been in charge. Only in two of those games (the ones where Oklahoma scored more than 50 points) did the Sooners outpace what they’ve usually scored in that season. That’s how it is when you’re the best offensive program in the sport.
But these are Patterson defenses, supposed to keep prolific offenses from being themselves.
It’s geared to stop tempo like the type OU’s known for bringing. TCU’s defenses were generally bad in 2015 and ‘16, but the last two years, they’ve been in the top 16 in S&P+ and the top 30 in scoring.
They entered 2018’s at 14th in S&P+, 15th in scoring. Then Oklahoma showed up and put on a fireworks show, with:
- 52 points, all the product of offensive drives
- 536 yards (7.4 per play)
- 26 first downs
- 37 minutes of possession
- A 209 rating, four touchdowns, and 8.9 yards per throw for Kyler Murray
TCU’s whole chance against Oklahoma is that its Patterson-led defense will beat Riley’s offenses. They’ve occasionally made them ever so slightly less dominant, but for the most part, the Sooners have just run up the score on the team whose identity is defense.
Next year’s game is in Norman. Murray will be gone, but Oklahoma’s probably just going to keep dropping truckloads of points on TCU’s head.