Oklahoma came into Saturday's game against TCU as perhaps the most consistent national championship contender this season. It left with its national championship dreams hanging by a thread.
The Sooners were exposed by a very good and much-improved Horned Frogs team on Saturday, falling to TCU, 37-33 in Fort Worth.
In past years, the Sooners' national title hopes would be completely over, but in the new playoff system, Oklahoma is not out of the picture, especially with three other top-1o teams losing this week. OU did itself no favors, though, as the loss puts the Sooners well behind the eight ball and needing to make up a lot of ground in the eyes of the selection committee.
Things weren't good from the start for the Sooners, as TCU came roaring out from the start, hitting the Sooners in the mouth with an up-tempo attack. Quarterback Trevone Boykin showed just how improved he is from a year ago, picking up first downs through the air and with his feet. TCU was up 14-0 before the Sooners had a chance to figure out where they were.
The biggest problem for the Sooners early on was not being able to get TCU off the field on third down. The Horned Frogs started the game 6-of-6 on third downs and finished the first half 7-of-11.
Like they have done in many of their past eight wins, the Sooners responded quickly, tying the score by the end of the first quarter, thanks to a pair of bombs from Trevor Knight to Sterling Shepard, one a 75-yard touchdown and the other a 53-yard reception that set up a 1-yard Samaje Perine touchdown run.
The teams continued to trade blows in the second quarter, each team scoring a touchdown and a field goal. The Sooners' touchdown—another Perine 1-yard run—was set up by a Jordan Evans' interception, the first of his career.
The Sooners could have had more at the end of the half, but Knight took a sack with 18 seconds left and just a single timeout, forcing the Sooners to kick a field goal and go into the locker room tied at 24 each.
It seemed like a carbon copy of the Sooners' last game against West Virginia: underdog throws a punch, Sooners respond, the two teams trade punches, halftime. Oklahoma even came out to start the second half with a touchdown drive, ending in another Perine touchdown. That's where the similarities ended.
TCU responded with a touchdown on the very next drive to tie the score at 31, and then the Sooners got away from their bread and butter, opting to throw on 11 of their next 14 offensive snaps. One of those was intercepted by TCU linebacker Paul Dawson and returned 41 yards for the game-winning touchdown. OU blocked the extra point and Zach Sanchez returned it for two points, making the score 37-33.
If all the passes were an attempt to get Knight on track, it failed miserably. Knight finished the game a dismal 14-of-35 for 309 yards and two interceptions. The only positive thing from Knight's performance was he was finally unleashed in the run game, carrying 13 times for 61 yards, most of them scrambles when the OU receivers were unable to get open down the field.
Sterling Shepard had a fantastic game in his own right, catching seven passes for 215 yards and a score, but the green OU receiving corps was finally exposed, as just five players caught passes, two of those running backs. Of those five, only Shepard and Durron Neal had more than one.
The Sooners had multiple opportunities to win the game late, as the OU defense made several stops and forced two fumbles deep in TCU territory. However, Knight's second interception killed the first opportunity and Perine was submarined on 4th-and-1 with 3:21 remaining. OU got the ball one final time, but Knight's Hail Mary pass drifted out of the end zone.
While the undefeated season is gone, and it's an uphill battle to get back into contention for the College Football Playoff, there's still plenty for the Sooners to play for, beginning next week with the Red River Showdown against Texas.
TCU exposed the Sooners on Saturday—and exposed themselves as a very dangerous team as well. It's up to Oklahoma to determine how the rest of the season goes. It's not a lost cause just yet.