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October 6, 2013

OU defense outstanding in 20-17 win over TCU

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There were slobber-knocking hits, cornerbacks making near picks and offenses with hard times moving the sticks.

There was vintage defense on display Saturday night at Memorial Stadium, and this time the No. 11 Sooners earned a 20-17 victory against Texas Christian.

Last season, this was not the kind of game OU could've won. Last season, the offense would routinely bail out the defense, and the Sooners' college football games would frequently end with college basketball scores.


video by Eddie Radosevich

But tonight the Oklahoma defense showed maturity under defensive coordinator Mike Stoops with the best half of defensive football the Sooners have played in some time.

"There's a lot of guys playing well," Stoops said. "I don't think you can really pinpoint one guy. I just think it's a collective effort, and when you have collective efforts I think that produces promising results. That, to me, seems to be the key to our success right now."

The Oklahoma offense scored just three points in the first quarter of play, but by the end of the first half it seemed to be two points too many.

OU's defense held TCU to just 16 yards of total offense in 18 plays in the first two quarters. The Horned Frogs did not record a first down in the half, and TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin was unable to find his rhythm.

"We knew he was going to be tough to bring down, and in the game he showed he was tough to bring down," said defensive end Chuka Ndulue. "After that, we just had to get after him."

Boykin completed 5-of-9 passes in the half for just 17 yards while the Horned Frog running backs managed to rush for just 10 yards on four carries. Boykin finished the game by completing 16-of-26 passes for 166 yards but was held to just 35 yards rushing on 12 attempts.

Oklahoma did not bend, did not break, did not give an inch. Defensive end Charles Tapper jump-started the Sooner defense early with a sack on third-and-6 during the first drive of the night.

The Horned Frogs did not record a first down in the first half and wouldn't record one until the 8:34 mark of the third quarter.

"I don't think that's ever happened in any one I've ever been a part of," Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said. "So they [the defense] played sensational. The guys were aggressive, fast. Played the run. Played the pass really well. Otherwise, the way we were struggling offensively, if we weren't playing that strong defensively it would've been tough."

Like a Peterbilt semi-truck, the OU offense was slow starting, but it found its top gear late in the second quarter.

Junior quarterback Blake Bell drove the Sooners 84 yards in 13 plays to the end zone with 2:29 left in the half to give Oklahoma a 13-3 lead. Bell completed 16-of-20 passes for 119 yards in the first half using more than six minutes of game clock.

The only blemish on the OU offensive line are the three sacks it gave up to a TCU defense that averaged nearly four sacks per game.

The double-digit lead would only last until the final seconds of the third quarter though. The Horned Frogs stunned the Sooners with an on-side kick, which they recovered at the OU 33-yard line.

"Disappointed in our kickoff return team that we need to be able to handle that," Bob Stoops said. "So obviously it's something that we have to work more. That can't happen."

Boykin then led the team to the end zone in nine plays, and TCU seemed to have all of the game's momentum. Stoops said the team's demeanor didn't change after the Horned Frogs chopped the Sooners' lead to three points.

"It doesn't change," Bob Stoops said. "Everybody is just determined."

With 7:27 left to play, TCU took possession of the football at its own 17-yard line. The defense needed to come up with a stop.

After giving up one first down on the drive, OU's defense shutdown the Horned Frog offense and forced a punt. Bell and the offense closed the game out, but there's no doubt the defense did the heavy lifting at Owen Field. And that's not by chance.

"When everyone does their job, and does it to perfection or to the best of their ability, stuff like that happens," Ndulue said.

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