By Michael Kinney
NORMAN – For a week they were berated. After giving up 52 points in a Bedlam victory, it seemed every analyst and college football expert wanted to use the Oklahoma defense as a dart board.
From being compared to a 7-on-7 team to not being championship material, the Sooners could only sit back and take it.
They took it until Saturday when they were allowed to let their play on the field do the talking for them. Facing No. 6 TCU in one of the highlight games of the weekend, the Oklahoma defense played its best game of the year in a 38-20 victory at Memorial Stadium.
“There was so much noise going on the whole week,” Defensive tackle Du’Vonta Lampkin said. “So we had to come out and do what we had to do. Show everyone we are a complete defense and coach Mike (Stoops) is a good coach. We just tried to shut the world up really. Show them we have a good defense and we can do it all the time. We heard it all week and anger built up.”
TCU was held to 424 yards, with 269 coming through the air. The numbers may look solid, but they were far below what the Sooners had been allowing each game.
The Horned Frogs posted 14 early points and didn’t score again until late in garbage time. TCU was unable to come up with a consistent offensive attack against the Sooner throughout the night.
Conversely, Oklahoma was seemingly able to score at will in the first half.
Leading 17-7, the Sooners got the ball to start the second quarter. The running game had struggled in the opening quarter, but Rodney Anderson fixed that.
On back to back plays, Anderson rolled through the TCU defense before scoring from 24 yards out.
The Sooners led 24-7.
However, the Horned Frogs came right back with their own lengthy drive that led to a Kenny Hill 1 yard plunge into the endzone, which cut the deficit to 24-14.
Despite that, Oklahoma’s defense had a different look about with some new starters in the secondary. Cornerback’s Parnell Motley and Jordan Thomas were replaced by true freshman Tre Brown and Tre Norwood. After the opening TCU possession, the big plays that had plagued Oklahoma all season disappeared in the first half.
“I felt like we had a really good game,” Norwood said of the defense. “We are starting to piece everything together. We went out there and played great as a defense.”
Anderson put Oklahoma up 31-14 in the second quarter when he scampered into the endzone on a 14-yard pass from Mayfield. That included running over several TCU defenders.
Anderson wasn’t done there. After Oklahoma got the ball back with 1:16 left in the first half, it looked like coach Lincoln Riley was just going to run out the clock. But Mayfield encouraged Riley to keep attacking. After a long pass to Marquise Brown, Anderson notched his fourth touchdown of the first half on a 33 pass from Mayfield.
Oklahoma led 38-14 at halftime.
TCU needed to come out in the third quarter and put points on the board if they wanted to make a comeback. But Oklahoma shutdown Texas Christian and didn’t allow them to pump any life into the sideline.
Leading by 24 in the fourth, the Sooners were content to just run the clock down and get the game over with.
Mayfield threw for 333 yards and three touchdowns on 18 of 27 passing to keep his Heisman Trophy hopes alive.
But it was the exploits of Anderson that had the entire team marveling. He finished with four touchdowns to go along with 152 yards rushing and 139 yards receiving.
“He was tremendous tonight,” Riley said of Anderson. “He was awesome. He’s got a unique skill set in that he can do it all — bring the power, ran through a lot of tackles and a couple of tremendous catches. He’s been awesome for us several weeks in a row.”
However, the extremely humble Anderson gave all the credit to the men upfront for any success he had.
”Our offensive line is hungry and always looking for the next team to go up against,” Anderson said. “They just do an amazing job.”
The Sooners now have control of the Big 12 with a 6-1 record. They will more than likely move into the top four of the College Football rankings and they face a struggling Kansas squad Saturday on the road. A win guarantees them a spot in the Big 12 Championship game.
Michael Kinney is a Freelance Content Writer with Eyeamtruth.com