NORMAN — Just because a team knows it’s heading toward a trap doesn’t mean it avoids it. Oklahoma walked right into one Saturday night at Owen Field, but managed to just barely escape it with a 20-17 victory over TCU.
The victory, which lifted the 11th-ranked Sooners to 5-0 overall and 2-0 in the Big 12 Conference, is what sets them apart from the rest of the teams in the Big 12 — they can have a game where the offense goes stagnant for much of the game. The Sooners can play defense. That factor and little else was the reason they celebrated a win Saturday night.
“We were physical,” said OU defensive end Charles Tapper, who had two of the Sooners’ four sacks. “We just kept pushing and never gave up.”
OU only had 355 yards of total offense. Quarterback Blake Bell, who rushed for 61 yards, was limited to 152 passing yards. OU’s running game was nearly non-existent until Brennan Clay broke off a game-sealing 76-yard touchdown run with 4:37 to go.
Clay’s mad dash was the home-run play that separated the teams. The first 55 minutes were like watching a tennis match of punts. There were 16 in the game.
OU had some offensive success early. An 8-yard touchdown run by Trey Millard late in the second quarter, which was sandwiched between two Michael Hunnicutt field goals, gave the 11th-ranked Sooners a 13-0 halftime lead.
At that point, it seemed like OU had more than enough points.
TCU (2-3, 0-2 Big 12) didn’t have a first down in the first half. And didn’t get one until midway through the third quarter. Its first seven offensive series netted 18 total yards.
“I don’t think that’s happened with anyone I’ve been part of,” OU coach Bob Stoops said. “They (the Sooners’ defense) played sensational. The guys were aggressive, fast, played the run, played the pass really well. Otherwise, we’re struggling offensively and if we’re not that strong defensively, it would have been tough. It would have been tough to win.”