OU hangs on to beat TCU, celebrates share of Big 12 title
BY GUERIN EMIG World Sports Writer
Sunday, December 02, 2012
12/02/12 at 5:43 AM
For more OU stories.
FORT WORTH - They put on Big 12 championship gear in Oklahoma's victorious locker room Saturday. Still, given what the Sooners had been through, both in their 24-17 win at TCU and over the course of the season in general, that wasn't enough.
"Coach Stoops was like, 'Let's go out on the field and take a picture,'" defensive tackle Casey Walker said. "'Casey, you got the trophy?'"
Walker had the trophy, and with it he led a parade of players and coaches back to the Amon Carter Stadium field for a 15-minute photo shoot.
That Kansas State (11-1 overall, 8-1) was hours away from beating Texas and earning the Big 12's automatic BCS berth hardly mattered.
OU, 10-2 overall, 8-1 in the Big 12 and very likely headed to the Sugar Bowl when the final BCS standings appear Sunday, was going to soak up the fruits of their hard labor.
"It's great to be in this position, to be a winner again," Bob Stoops said after capturing his eighth conference crown in 14 seasons at OU. "Big 12 champs or co-champs, either way they're recognized as champions. These players deserve it."
The Sooners put themselves in position by beating Baylor, West Virginia and Oklahoma State despite egregious defense. Saturday, before the third-largest crowd in stadium history, they closed the deal despite a gear-grinding offense.
"They're a good defensive team, and we didn't play well," co-offensive coordinator Jay Norvell said. "We weren't clean in the passing game. We weren't sharp at receiver. We had some drops. We were fortunate to get through the game and win it."
OU prevailed because the defense finally repaid the offense for the past three weeks.
The Sooners managed a 14-7 halftime lead because they held TCU to 78 yards and three first downs. They stayed in front until the fourth quarter, when the Horned Frogs had the ball four times but only cashed in Jaden Oberkrom's 47-yard field goal.
OU's Michael Hunnicutt hooked a 42-yarder way wide with 2:49 remaining, handing TCU possession with a chance to drive 75 yards for the tie. Trevon Boykin threw a perfect 46-yard post to Cam White to reach the OU 12.
Then safety Tony Jefferson stopped running back B.J. Catalon for no gain on first and second down. Boykin scampered into the end zone on third-and-10, only to have the play called back on Blaize Foltz's jersey-grab of OU defensive tackle Stacy McGee.
"I finally got one of those judgment calls that you guys all want to get on me about," Stoops cracked.
Aaron Colvin limited Josh Boyce's third-and-20 catch to seven yards, setting up a last-ditch fourth-and-13. Boykin went back to Boyce on a corner route. Jefferson shot over from the center of the field and joined safety Julian Wilson to break up the pass.
An OU kneel-down later, the Sooners whooped it up with their fans in one corner of the stadium, both groups chanting "B-C-S!"
It isn't the BCS title game. It isn't the Fiesta Bowl, since K-State beat OU in Norman Sept. 22.
But the Sooners, assuming their place in New Orleans is finalized Sunday at 7:30 p.m., will absolutely take it.
"Anytime you compete for championships, they're never easy," defensive coordinator Mike Stoops said. "Our guys, I'm really proud that they just hung in there."
Cornerback Demontre Hurst gave up that 46-yard post to White. Safety Gabe Lynn was caught flat-footed on Brandon Carter's 80-yard catch and run midway through the third quarter, when TCU faced a 21-7 deficit and appeared dead.
But there was R.J. Washington forcing a Boykin fumble on TCU's next series. And Casey Walker and Jamarkus McFarland stopping Boykin's keeper on third-and-4 before Oberkrom's 32-yard miss the series after that. And the secondary coming up big during the final sequence.
"In years past, we might have found a way to lose this game," Washington said. "We would have hung our heads when they made big plays. But this isn't that type of team."
In years past, Landry Jones would have dragged his chin after that early interception. Safety Sam Carter picked him off and returned it 42 yards to the OU 6 late in the second quarter. Boykin scored from there to tie it at 7-7.
Jones took back over and promptly went 6-of-7 for 84 yards to lead the Sooners back in front, 14-7. The score was a 24-yard bullet to Jalen Saunders, on third-and-23.
"A great throw by Landry," Norvell said. "We were just trying to get it in field-goal range, and the guy took our back. Jalen popped open on the crossing route."
OU made it 21-7 on Damien Williams' 66-yard burst 71 seconds after halftime. It was the highlight of his 115-yard day, a salty number given both TCU's run defense and the loss of injured left guard Adam Shead to portions of the game.
"With injuries, we toe the line. It's nobody else but us," said Lane Johnson, one of the OU tackles who blocked for Williams and kept TCU from sacking Jones. "We're the people that have to carry this team."
"In the end we kept fighting," Norvell said, "and made enough plays to win."
On both sides of the ball. And when it was over, the whole lot of them spilled back onto the field to celebrate.
"It's been a long year," Jefferson said. "It takes a lot of heart and discipline to stabilize your mentality game-in and game-out. When you see your own guys on the sideline hurt, and you go out and win a game like that, that gives you a Big 12 championship, there's no better feeling."
BCS SELECTION SHOW
7:30 p.m. Sunday TV: ESPN-25
Original Print Headline: OU revels in share of Big 12 after TCU win
Guerin Emig 918-581-8355
OU's R.J. Washington causes a fumble by TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin on Saturday. STEPHEN PINGRY/Tulsa World
OU's Damien Williams causes TCU's Kevin White to miss a tackle during Saturday's regular-season finale. STEPHEN PINGRY/Tulsa World
OU quarterback Blake Bell converts on a third down against TCU on Saturday in Fort Worth, Texas. STEPHEN PINGRY/Tulsa World