The TCU Horned Frogs’ first season in the Big 12 Conference has come to an end (except for their bowl game appearance), and the loss to Oklahoma ended their season with a rare feat. TCU finished the season with zero home conference wins following their 24-17 loss to #11 Oklahoma. The Horned Frogs were 7-5, with 4-5 conference record.
That’s right. The TCU Horned Frogs were 0-4 at home against conference opponents. The Big 12 has a lot of good teams, but TCU surely should have found a way to win at least one game in their home stadium. Saturday was going to be a tough test though against the Oklahoma Sooners, who were vying for a BCS bowl game spot.
It was a tough test against Oklahoma, but the TCU Horned Frogs, coming off their impressive victory over the Texas Longhorns on Thanksgiving, looked like they were up to the task. Oklahoma struck first at the end of the first quarter with a touchdown pass from Landry Jones, but Trevone Boykin and the offense tied the game up with under four minutes left in the second quarter 7-7.
Momentum seemed to swing though when Jones threw a second touchdown with under a minute to go in the second quarter to take a 14-7 lead into halftime. Oklahoma kept that momentum with a quick score in the third quarter, a 66-yard run by Damien Williamsto put Oklahoma up 21-7.
Going into the game against the Sooners, the TCU defense knew speed would be a factor in this game. If the Horned Frogs had a chance to win, the TCU defense would have to be able to stop Oklahoma from making those explosive plays for quick and easy touchdowns. The TCU Horned Frogs defense did a great job for most of the game, but that one long run by Williams seemed to doom them.
The Horned Frogs defense did an excellent job of containing the always dangerous Oklahoma backup quarterback Blake Bell. Bell is always a threat when he has the ball in his hands; most defenses struggle to contain him as a runner. TCU’s defense held him in check; they limited him to only eight yards on four carries. Blake Bell has good speed, he is elusive, and he is a big guy who is tough to to bring down; TCU played him well.
Overall, Oklahoma was fairly successful running the ball; they gained 177 yards on 32 carires. The 66-yard scamper by Williams certainly makes their total yardage seem better than it was. The TCU Horned Frogs consistently ran the ball as well. They ran it thirty-one times, but for only 119 yards. That’s only a 3.8 average. TCU needs to get a running back who can break out long runs to add another dimension to their offense.
While the big run by Williams put TCU in a hole, another key factor, perhaps the biggest reason why TCU lost, was their inability to convert on third downs. The TCU Horned Frogs converted just three out of their fifteen third down attempts. The inability to keep drives going by converting third downs will end up in losses the majority of the time, especially against a good football like the Oklahoma Sooners. TCU found that out on Saturday.
So now, the TCU Horned Frogs get to play the waiting game. They are bowl eligible. But where will they play? The Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl in San Diego is a possibility; so is the Meineke Car Care of Texas Bowl in Houston. TCU was hoping for a bigger and more prestigious bowl game this year, but Head Coach Gary Patterson will take whatever bowl game they get and use this to build some momentum as the program heads into the offseason. TUC’s first year in the Big 12 wasn’t always smooth, but overall, it was a pretty successful season for the Horned Frogs. They’ll only get better in this conference, and if they continue to make progress, they will probably compete for a conference title sooner rather than later.