COLUMN: Defense takes advantage of negated touchdown to beat TCU, earn portion of Big 12 title
Evin Morrison, The Oklahoma Daily
Although it won’t be remembered for playing for a crystal ball, the 2012 Oklahoma football team will go down as a sound group of athletes that didn’t fold under the pressures of dramatic finishes.
The Sooners (10-2, 8-1 Big 12) never surrendered the lead during Saturday’s 24-17 win over Big 12 conference newcomer TCU (7-5, 4-5 Big 12), but OU was forced to rely on its defense during the matchup’s final moments in order to escape Fort Worth with the regular season finale triumph.
With just under three minutes left in the fourth quarter, the Sooners had the touchdown lead, but TCU had the ball and all of the game’s momentum following OU sophomore kicker Michael Hunnicutt’s missed field goal attempt.
TCU took over at its own 25-yard line with important timeouts remaining, having the arsenal it needed to spoil OU’s chances of earning a share of the Big 12 title.
The Horned Frogs further elevated Sooner blood pressures when quarterback Trevone Boykin connected with sophomore wide receiver Cam White for a 46-yard catch, letting all of the air out of the Sooner defense that was looking for a pivotal stop.
That play was followed by Boykin’s quarterback keeper call, allowing the redshirt freshman to surge into the endzone in front of the home crowd.
But yellow flags on the play short-circuited TCU’s jubilation, and OU took advantage of the extra chance to close out the game.
Offensive lineman Blaize Foltz held onto OU senior defensive tackle Stacy McGee’s jersey too long, causing the holding penalty that backed up TCU to the 22-yard line for a third-and-20 situation, allowing the Horned Frogs two opportunities to find the endzone to potentially win the game or force overtime.
Then, for the first time in three outings, the OU defense bailed out the mediocre offensive performance — the Sooners were only 7-of-16 on third down conversions while failing to score a point in the game’s final quarter — when it came up with a crucial fourth down stop by sophomore coverage defender Julian Wilson to keep the final score in the Sooners’ favor.
No doubt, OU is letting its opponents hang around long enough to make the games interesting. But when it comes down to the final plays needed to secure the win, the Sooners found all the right moves to get the job done.
The Sooners needed come-from-behind wins late in the games against West Virginia and Oklahoma State in the past two consecutive weeks. And each time, the team answered the call.
OU’s season could have nose-dived once the team realized it was out of the national championship picture and would have to ride conference leader, Kansas State’s coattails for the remainder of the Big 12 schedule following the loss to the Wildcats back in September while coach Bill Snyder and senior quarterback Colin Klein continued to manhandle opponents.
But instead, the Sooners found ways to return losses to the same three teams that beat them last season and stayed the course by finishing with a perfect 5-0 Big 12 record following the disappointing loss to Notre Dame.
OU’s reward: a share of its eighth Big 12 title that the Sooners were predicted to earn at the beginning of the season.