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Oklahoma Sooners Football: OU survives another close call, beats TCU 28-24

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It wasn’t pretty, but Oklahoma did just enough to book a return trip to the Big 12 Championship Game.

NCAA Football: Texas Christian at Oklahoma Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

On Senior Night, the No. 9 Oklahoma Sooners staved off the feisty TCU Horned Frogs (5-6, 3-4) en route to a 28-24 victory. With the win, OU (10-1, 7-1) clinches a spot in the Big 12 Championship Game on Dec. 7, setting the stage for a rematch against the Baylor Bears.

Lincoln Riley couldn’t have scripted a better start to the final home game of the season, as Oklahoma’s defense forced the TCU offense to punt on its first four possessions. On the other side, Jalen Hurts and the Sooners’ reached the end zone on their first three drives for a commanding 21-0 lead in the second quarter.

That’s when the trouble began and the tide turned. Horned Frogs freshman QB Max Duggan scampered for a huge gain that put TCU in the red zone, and that play was quickly paid off with a one yard TD run from Sewo Olonilua.

Gary Patterson’s team wasn’t done fighting back after that either, as his defense was able to force OU’s Jadon Haselwood to fumble before turning that into a field goal. The game was 21-10 at the halftime break.

Oklahoma’s offense continued to sputter to open the third quarter. A quick three-and-out gave TCU a chance to close the gap even more, and Duggan was game. Midway through the third, the Sooners’ once three score advantage had dwindled down to a 21-17 dog fight.

Hurts was finally able to lead Oklahoma on a productive drive again at that point, capping off a six play, 66-yard effort with an eight yard TD run. However, that double-digit lead didn’t last when in the fourth quarter, OU’s Heisman candidate signal caller was picked-off at the goal line and returned for a 98-yard house call.

To make matters worse for Oklahoma, Hurts led the Sooners on another promising drive after the momentous swing from TCU’s pick-six, only to cough up the ball in the red zone once again. The Horned Frogs may have been severely outgained in yardage on the night, but they made up for that and then some by winning the turnover battle, 3-0.

At least, it was 3-0 in favor of the Horned Frogs until ‘Bookie’ came to the Sooners’ rescue. On TCU’s final drive of the game, and on the game’s most critical fourth-down, Oklahoma’s Brendan Radley-Hiles secured this incredible diving INT that ultimately saved his team’s slim hopes for a spot in the College Football Playoff.

The Sooners’ struggle with turnovers once again nearly cost them a game. Not only does Oklahoma’s defense continue to have issues generating takeaways, the offense has been much too careless with the ball in the last few weeks. There’s only so much Sooner Magic that can save this team from shooting itself in the foot.

At the end of the night, Jalen Hurts turned in another solid performance, and if it wasn’t for the devastating turnovers, it could have been one of the most special nights of his senior season. In total, he completed 11 of 21 passes for 145 yards and two touchdowns, and added 173 yards and two more scores on 28 carries. Meanwhile on the outside, CeeDee Lamb made his return to the OU lineup, but was limited to two catches for 16 yards and a TD.

Although it was a game that was too close for comfort, the defense did its job for the majority of the night. Alex Grinch’s group only gave up 204 total yards, including 65 through the air. They were also stout when it counted, holding TCU to a combined 1-10 on third and fourth downs. There are areas that need improvement, yes, but how this game played out doesn’t rest totally on their shoulders.

It should also be noted that senior LB Caleb Kelly saw some time on the field tonight for the first time this season. After undergoing surgery in April, Kelly’s been fighting to get back onto the field. Fortunately for him and Oklahoma, the redefined redshirt rule will allow him to play in up to three more games while still maintaining a year of eligibility.

Up next — Bedlam. On Nov. 30, Oklahoma travels to Stillwater for the 2019 regular season finale against Oklahoma State (8-3, 5-3). Despite losing WR Tylan Wallace and QB Spencer Sanders in the last month, Heisman hopeful RB Chuba Hubbard and the Cowboys have notched four consecutive wins. The Sooners own the all-time in-state series, 88-18-7, including victories in six of the last seven meetings.

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