When it mattered the most, on this day, the Sooners couldn’t get it done in a 37-33 loss to No. 25 TCU on Saturday evening.
The whole perception of OU, ranked No. 4 heading into the showdown, this season has been about the bruising running attack. Perine, a freshman, has been among the most difficult to tackle in the nation.
The offensive line, led by Williams, has been great at times and brilliant at others. But on fourth-and-1 at the TCU 22 with 3:21 left and no timeouts, it was Horned Frogs who made the stop.
“They just stopped the run,” Perine said. “The linebacker filled the hole, had nowhere to go. It’s as simple as that.”
Every week feels like a new test for OU (4-1, 1-1 Big 12) to see what they’re made of this season. Tennessee was about playing well against a nonconference opponent. West Virginia was about handling business on the road in a hostile environment.
TCU? The Horned Frogs (4-0, 1-0) were about physicality. A chance to see if OU had made that leap it had been craving since Bill Bedenbaugh has taken over as offensive line coach.
The numbers aren’t that bad with OU rushing 152 yards on 42 attempts. However, in the fourth quarter, OU had 13 carries for just 26 yards and couldn’t get the one yard it needed with Perine.
“We just didn’t do it,” co-offensive coordinator Josh Heupel said. “We didn’t do it in the second half and didn’t do it consistently enough. We didn’t have 11 guys operating as one.”
Perine rushed for 87 yards on 25 attempts with three touchdowns. Nobody is faulting the freshman, but the running attack as a whole was shut down when the Sooners went 12 of 13 plays in the second half spanning the third and fourth quarters.
OU head coach Bob Stoops wasn’t about to point fingers and doesn’t believe play calling had one bit to blame in the loss.
“There is no magical play calling,” Stoops said. “The bottom line is its execution, and they performed better than we did.”
Despite two interceptions by quarterback Trevor Knight, including one that was returned for a touchdown, and shaky execution throughout the afternoon, the OU offense still had a chance to save an undefeated season.
The Sooners took over at their own 29 yard line with 51 seconds left, but Knight’s Hail Mary pass on the final play fell harmlessly the ground.
“There were some things we just missed,” Knight said.
Knight looked like he could have been on his way to a career-making day. The first quarter he was 2-of-3 for 128 yards and a touchdown. But the final three quarters saw what OU fans had been fearing throughout the offseason and the first four games this season, his inconsistency.
Knight finished 14 of 35 for 308 yards with the two picks and was sacked twice. He also rushed for 61 yards on 13 attempts. Junior wide receiver Sterling Shepard had seven catches for 215 yards and a touchdown.
The missed opportunities will haunt the Sooners as the defense forced two TCU turnovers in the fourth quarter but couldn’t capitalize. And now it’s back to the drawing board.
“We had a lot of opportunities to go flip the scoreboard, and we did not do that,” Heupel said. “It’s extremely disappointing.”
And based off the way OU had played in the first four games, extremely surprising.