Oklahoma became the fourth team ranked in the top six of the AP Poll to fall this week, as the No. 4 Sooners lost to No. 25 TCU 37-33 Saturday in Fort Worth, Texas. Here are three thoughts from an unpredictable, rollicking Big 12 matchup.
1. TCU might be the most improved team in the nation
Gary Patterson is in his 14th season as the Horned Frogs coach. He has recorded double-digit wins in eight of those years. That’s why it was so unusual to see TCU, even in its second season in the Big 12, log only four victories during the 2013 campaign, including losing five of its final six games.
Last fall’s struggles are already a distant memory.
After dominating their first three games in 2014 (20-plus-point wins over Samford, Minnesota and SMU), the Horned Frogs proved they weren’t simply feasting on cupcakes. They converted their first six third downs and raced to an early 14-0 lead against the Sooners. Oklahoma battled back to take a 31-24 advantage in the third quarter, but defensive lineman Paul Dawson put TCU ahead for good with a 41-yard pick-six in the fourth. While the Frogs’ defense surrendered a series of big plays -- Oklahoma wide receiver Sterling Shepard made seven catches for 215 yards with a touchdown -- TCU showed the type of balance that could make it an unlikely threat to win the conference.
Frogs quarterback Trevone Boykin spent most of the game picking apart a vaunted Oklahoma defense and outplaying his lauded counterpart, Trevor Knight. While his accuracy could have been better, Boykin finished 20 of 38 for 318 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. He added 22 carries for 78 yards.
Boykin flushed the pocket to mitigate a ferocious Sooners’ pass rush and made a variety of difficult throws -- off one foot, off his front foot, you name it -- while using his legs to break several clutch runs. Boykin got a lift from tailback B.J. Catalon, who rushed for 48 yards and a score. Both players lost fumbles at key points in the fourth quarter, but their contributions outweighed their mistakes.
2. Oklahoma has talent but lacks consistency
Knight’s Saturday started with a call-me from pop starlet Katy Perry on ESPN’s College GameDay. It ended with a desperation Hail Mary that sailed five yards out of the back of the end zone. Knight displayed the first-rate athleticism that made him a preseason Heisman Trophy contender, but he was also dizzyingly inaccurate and tossed the fourth-quarter pick that ultimately cost the Sooners the game.
Knight finished 14 of 35 for 309 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. Nearly 70 percent of those passing yards went to Shepard, who busted TCU’s coverages twice in the first half. Running back Samaje Perine didn’t enjoy the same level of success that he did against West Virginia on Sept. 20 (242 rushing yards, four touchdowns), but he carried 25 times for 87 yards with three scores.
Given the widespread shake-up in Week 6, one loss likely won’t eliminate Oklahoma from College Football Playoff contention. Still, coach Bob Stoops needs to demand consistency from his quarterback so the offense can thrive.
3. Gary Patterson drew up the best kickoff play in history
Let’s move away from all the serious talk at the moment and recognize the glory of this kickoff play that very nearly worked.
Yes, that’s Catalon camouflaging himself in the end zone (the purple jerseys blend in perfectly with the end-zone paint), waiting for the entire coverage team to swarm returner Cameron Echols-Luper and then sprouting from the turf to receive a pass from Echols-Luper and run 30 yards down the field. A holding penalty negated Catalon’s gain, but kudos to Patterson for the innovation.