The race to the Big 12 Championship in Arlington just got more interesting. Texas Christian University exited Boone Pickens Stadium on Saturday still undefeated on the season, and with a lot to play for still ahead of them.
For the somewhat stunned Oklahoma State Cowboys, there are certainly some questions to take away from this game. The Pokes fell behind in the first half and then fought back late only to have Gary Patterson’s squad take the game seemingly out of reach with just under three minutes to play.
The opening period featured TCU controlling the ball for almost 12 minutes as they found offensive success through a consistent run game and a short passing game that got them in range for two fields goals, allowing them to take the early lead 6-0. Even though Oklahoma State didn’t control the ball for very long, it only took them until the second play of their second drive for Mason Rudolph to hit James Washington deep for the 86 yard TD.
TCU safety Niko Small, who was supposed to be providing safety help on the play, decided to line up a mere seven yards from the line of scrimmage. The play was a reminder of what it means to say that the OSU receivers are ‘scary good.’
The second quarter opened with TCU taking back the lead to answer Washington’s score. Darius Anderson utilized some nice vision to knife his way through the OSU defense and took a Kenny Hill handoff to the house for 28 yards. The Cowboys appeared to be marching down the field on their way to take the lead when Mason Rudolph rolled out to his right and fumbled when he was hit from behind by TCU lineman Ben Banogu.
The Frogs took that possession and continued to march down the field with a mix of productive runs and quick passes that set up them up inside the Pokes’ ten yard line. Kenny Hill lobbed a pass into the end zone that Frog wide receiver John Diarse managed to snag out of the air for the TD to put TCU up 20-7.
Gary Patterson’s D seemed content to play back and let the Cowboys hand the ball off to Justice Hill, who helped OSU drive the ball down to the redzone, but OSU had to settle for the field goal. An ill-advised throw by Kenny Hill appeared to give Oklahoma State the chance to put some more points on the board, but the half would end with the Horned Frogs up 20-10.
Oklahoma State would continue to struggle to find an offensive rhythm. Rudolph threw an interception into the hands of defensive tackle Chris Bradley on a screen pass and TCU took the turned the pick into six points with a Darius Anderson pitch from Kenny Hill on the QB option.
The Cowboys responded by running the ball and throwing to the outside. It paid off when Rudolph rolled out to hit Dillon Stoner in the end zone, to close the led to ten with TCU up 27-17.
The defense for the Pokes gave up a 43 yard pass from Hill to Jaelan Austin on third down on the next drive, which ended in another TCU score. The Horned Frogs would punch it in when Sewo Olonilua took the snap out of a wildcat formation and stretched the ball out as he was going down at the one yard line. There was a question on the replay as to whether the ball had actually crossed the goal line or if it came out when Olonilua held it out and appeared to fumble short of the white paint, but the touchdown stood.
After forcing an OSU punt, the Frogs took almost six minutes off the clock as they put themselves in field goal range and extended their lead to twenty, 37-17.
Justice Hill seemed to spark the Cowboy offense on the ensuing possession, picking up good yardage on the ground to get them to the one yard line so Rudolph could run in untouched to make it a two possession game, 37-24. Then, Oklahoma State started to get some energy as their D stepped up and forced a three-and-out on the ensuing possession.
Mason Rudolph began to spread the ball around to his wide receivers and it looked like OSU was knocking on the door, but some Cowboy creativity ended in disaster when Jalen McCleskey tried to complete a double pass play and it was intercepted by TCU safety Nick Orr.
The defense stepped again for the offense of the Pokes, which took the ball at midfield and got down to the three yard line with a Rudolph-to-McClesky deep ball that the wide receiver bobbled before finally pulling it in. On third and goal, Justice Hill got the Cowboys closer with a power run that left TCU up 37-31 with 3:03 left in the ball game.
A good KeVontae Turpin return put the ball at midfield for TCU and Oklahoma State managed to get TCU to third down, but the Pokes got sucked up into the wash near the line of scrimmage and Darius Anderson took the zone read handoff, found a lot of empty grass and scored on a 42 yard run.
That score all but ended the game. A Rudolph interception – the second one by a defensive lineman on the day – meant that all Kenny Hill had to do was kneel down to seal the win. Final score: 44-31.
|3rd Down Eff||1-19||7-14|
|4th Down Eff||0-0||1-2|
|Yards Per Pass||6.9||9.5|
|TCU – K. Hill||22/33||228||6.9||1||1||62.7|
|OSU – M. Rudolph||22/41||398||9.7||2||2||63.5|
|TCU – D. Anderson||26||160||6.2||3||42|
|OSU – J.Hill||25||102||4.1||1||17|
|TCU – J. Austin||1||43||43.0||0||43|
|OSU – J. Washington||6||153||25.5||1||86|
EMPTYING THE NOTEBOOK
Penalties on OSU absolutely killed the team in crucial situations and penalty yardage really hurt the Pokes in a game where they needed to make the TCU offense earn every single yard they would get. There were also some strange calls on the first half in this game, particularly on the muffed punt and the Olonilua score in the third quarter.
Justice Hill gave tremendous effort in this game and continued to make tough runs throughout. His 102 yards on 25 carries won’t stick out in many stat lines, but Hill provided big runs when they were needed and was a reason that OSU had a chance to take the game when it was still only a one possession contest.
Anyone who thinks that Gary Patterson has ‘figured out’ Oklahoma State’s offense underestimates how much four turnovers and time of possession factored into this game. OSU still racked up almost 500 yards of offense in this game and a handful of plays could have forced TCU to play behind instead of the other way around. Mason Rudolph came away with a QBR of 63.5 against a defense that by the end of the season could very well be the best in the Big 12, if not one of the best in the country. If this ends up being the worst game Oklahoma State plays all season, they very well could get a chance for revenge come December in the ‘ship.
The Horned Frogs appeared to control the lines of scrimmage on both sides of the ball today, creating pressure on Rudolph and getting push up front on offense. Glenn Spencer will no doubt have some questions as to the struggles some of his linebackers had with getting into the right gap to stop ball carriers in purple and white uniforms, but a good deal of the Cowboy frustration on D had to do with the line’s inability to make enough plays in the backfield. The 4.6 yards per carry that TCU managed may not seem big, but the OSU defense had trouble getting off the field because of TCU’s ability to stay in manageable down and distance with their run game.
TCU continues to have problems holding on to the football. They almost lost a fumble to stall their second drive of the game and Kenny Hill lost a handle on the rock but was able to pick it up at the start of the second quarter and he also fumbled towards the end of the third, but TCU retained possession again. That fact won’t turn many heads, but in a game where TCU was able to get 14 points on their four turnovers they were aided by bounces that went their way.
It is hard to call giving up 499 yards on defense ‘dominant,’ but TCU did what they had to do tonight, playing good red zone defense and getting timely turnovers. One factor that won’t get as much attention will be how youth on the right side of the offensive line affected this game for the Pokes. Gary Patterson was comfortable just sending three or four rushers throughout the game and the Frogs were able to get just enough pressure so that the TCU secondary could keep the Cowboy receivers covered up.
While it would be tempting to point to the TCU defense as the reason the Frogs won this game, Gary Patterson’s squad put in a solid performance in all three phases and this was a game where the pace and flow was dictated by the players in purple. TCU basically doubled Oklahoma State’s time of possession, holding the ball for almost forty minutes. On Special Teams, they only punted twice and kicker Jonathan Song was perfect on all three field goal tries. TCU didn’t want to get into a shootout in this one and this game is probably the blueprint for how they’ll try to pick up wins in the Big 12.