OU football: These Sooners show some Thunder in beating TCU to advance to Big 12 title game
NORMAN — Brendan Radley-Hiles stepped in front of the TCU tight end, snagged the football and pulled it to his chest.
Drama remained even after the Oklahoma defensive back's interception. On a night Oklahoma hung on to beat TCU 28-24, it became even more apparent these Sooners are as moody as a 13-year-old. As temperamental as a cat. As up and down as the stock market.
As maddening as those things, too.
These Sooners are dominant one moment, disappointing the next. We have seen it the past few weeks. Disastrous second and third quarters at Kansas State followed by a fourth-quarter rally that fell just short. A first half against Iowa State that Lincoln Riley said was as good as any during his tenure as OU head coach followed by a near collapse in the second half. Then came the reverse of that at Baylor, a pitiful first half and a miraculous second half that produced the biggest come-from-behind victory in program history.
Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised Saturday night was more of the same.
OU sprinted out to a quick lead against TCU, so thoroughly dominating the first quarter that the Sooners had more points than the Horned Frogs had yards. OU scored 14 points in the frame while TCU had 3 yards.
The defense was stout. The offense was clicking. All was well. Even seemed for a bit like this might be a blowout in the making.
But then the Sooners reminded us who they are.
Five minutes into the second quarter, TCU finally managed to tally more yards of offense than OU had points — but the play that happened seemed to swing the momentum.
TCU quarterback Max Duggan ran around the left side and broke into the open. He sprinted down the sideline and was only caught from behind by Pat Fields after 62 yards.
- Related to this story
- Article: OU football: Sooners shaky with ball security but beat TCU 28-24 to clinch berth in Big 12 final
- Article: OU football report card: Defense saves Sooners vs. TCU after carelessness on offense
- Article: OU football: Jalen Hurts joins exclusive Sooners club in 28-24 win against TCU
- Article: OU football: Sooners notch 400th win on Owen Field in program history
- Article: OU football: Sooners move up one spot in latest AP poll
- Video: OU Football: Lincoln Riley talks about close win over TCU
- Video: OU Football: Kenneth Murray talks about win over TCU
- Video: OU Football: Breaking down the win over TCU
Like that, a Sooner switch flipped.
Two plays later, the Frogs were in the end zone.
On the Sooners’ next possession, they turned the ball over when Jadon Haselwood fumbled while running after a catch.
On the ensuing possession, the Frogs scored again, and frankly, the Sooners were lucky it was just a field goal. TCU dropped a pass that would’ve been a touchdown.
The Sooners’ final possession of the half was not a disaster, but it was uninspired. A couple short runs. A short pass. A couple negative runs. The whole thing seemed very blah.
The vibe in the stadium felt the same way. There was an unease, an apprehension in the air.
And why wouldn’t there be?
These Sooners have become a bit like the Thunder was the past few seasons. Those Oklahoma City teams had so much talent but regularly messed around and let inferior teams hang close and lost games it shouldn’t. It made the Thunder infinitely interesting and perpetually confounding.
So it is with the Sooners.
At a time OU could be scoring serious points with the College Football Playoff selection committee, the Sooners seem to be further putting themselves on the outside looking it.
Oregon lost to Arizona State on Saturday night. The Ducks are one of the teams the Sooners have to climb over, and they likely will with their win and the Ducks’ loss. But score a big victory against TCU, and OU might’ve jumped not only Oregon but also other teams in front of it in the rankings.
Now, it wouldn’t be out of the question to see the Sooners stay near the bottom of the top 10 when the next rankings are released Tuesday.
A win, of course, is much better than a loss. The Sooners ultimately had enough answers. A run-only drive by the offense ended in a touchdown after TCU pulled within four points. A three-and-out by the defense after Jalen Hurts fumbled at the end of a long run.
Then came the biggest answer of them all – Radley-Hiles’ interception with less than 2 minutes remaining.
But even then, the drama wasn’t over. Even though the offense needed just one first down to put the game on ice, it needed a lengthy review on a third-and-1 run by Hurts was ever-so-close to forcing a tough fourth-down decision by Riley.
Had the review determined Hurts was short of the line, it would’ve punctuated a second half that has put his Heisman Trophy hopes in serious jeopardy. But luckily for Hurts and the Sooners, that review on his third-down run went in their favor. There wasn’t enough to confirm the spot or overturn it. The call on the field stood as called.
Another Saturday, another squeaker.
The Sooners’ up-and-down, hot-and-cold ways make for close games, nail-biting moments and thrilling finishes.
They also make you want to pull your hair out.
Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at 405-475-4125 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Like her at facebook.com/JenniCarlsonOK or follow her at twitter.com/jennicarlson_ok.