After its best game of the season, TCU played one of its worst. The 31-6 loss to Oklahoma State on Saturday featured some of the same problems that have bothered the Horned Frogs all season, especially turnovers and a lack of offense.
The result was a fourth home loss and a 5-5 record. There’s still time for a good finish. But some things have become evident about this TCU season. Here are five takeaways from the game against Oklahoma State:
1. There’s a big gap between TCU and the Big 12’s best teams. The Frogs can rightly say they should have two more wins, the Arkansas game if a field goal isn’t blocked and the Texas Tech game if three field goals aren’t missed. But that’s the most TCU can claim. Against Oklahoma, West Virginia and Oklahoma State, the Frogs were outscored 117-62 and committed six turnovers. Sure, they may be a handful of plays away from 7-3, maybe even 8-2 with another break or two. But that does not mean they were close to being a league title contender.
2. TCU was not that far away from being shut out. It’s been 303 straight games that TCU has scored, the second-longest active streak in the nation and fourth-longest all-time. But if not for a muffed punt recovered by linebacker Paul Whitmill at the 6-yard line in the first quarter to set up the Frogs’ only score, the streak could have ended Saturday. Only four drives lasted more than six plays against Oklahoma State, and they ended on downs or interceptions.
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TCU had not been held to as few as 6 points at home since a 38-6 loss to Texas A&M in Fort Worth on Nov. 11, 1995.
3. Quarterback play makes a big difference in the Big 12. One good half was enough for Oklahoma State. Mason Rudolph was 7-for-10 after halftime and led three straight touchdown drives. Kenny Hill was intercepted twice. Oklahoma State has had good quarterback play all year. That’s what gets you to 9-2.
4. It is possible to stop Kyle Hicks, after all. Simply make sure he runs into unblocked defenders. That was the Oklahoma State formula. The Cowboys won at the line of scrimmage, filled every gap, held every corner and limited TCU’s best back to 47 yards on 25 carries. That was less than 2 yards an attempt after a 192-yard day against Baylor. Hard to imagine he’d have so little to show for so much work. Quite an accomplishment by OSU.
5. The defense had a good run. It’s lost in the haze now, but from Oct. 29 until the second half began on Saturday, TCU’s defense might have been the best in the Big 12. Consider, in that stretch of 10 quarters, the Frogs gave up 17 points in regulation to Texas Tech, 22 on the road at Baylor and 10 in a half against Oklahoma State. That was the kind of defense that could have taken TCU places this year. Then it was gone.
TCU running back Kyle Hicks discusses where the Horned Frogs went awry and what they need to do to fix it after Saturday's 31-6 loss to Oklahoma State. Video by Jimmy Burch. McClatchyjburch@star-telegram.com
TCU RB Kyle Hicks talks about his level of comfort in the team's no-QB Wildcat package that he operates in the red zone. Oklahoma State stymied the Frogs twice in fourth-down situations from the Wildcat during the Cowboys' 31-6 victory in FW. Vide McClatchyjburch@star-telegram.com