ESPN analyst Matt Millen credited the Sooners for keeping TCU out of the end zone on the Horned Frogs' final drive Saturday afternoon.
Stacy McGee's pass rush forced a crucial holding penalty, and then later on fourth down, Tony Jefferson's tight pass coverage kept Josh Boyce from making a catch in the end zone as the Sooners held on for the 24-17 victory.
“It was obvious,” Millen said of the holding call. “Stacy McGee beat him clean and (Blaize) Foltz just grabbed him.”
On the pass, he said, “Tony Jefferson finished the game the way he started, making plays. Jefferson played well all game long. … Josh Boyce had it – Gary Patterson knew it, he knew it – he didn't come down with it.”
All three state teams – OU, OSU and Tulsa – were playing on national TV at 11 a.m., which made for a lot of channel-flipping on the final week of the season.
Millen, a former Detroit Lions executive, raved about Patterson's coaching all game long, despite the fact the Horned Frogs went winless at home in the Big 12 and 4-5 in its debut season in the conference.
“This may be one of the best-coached teams in all of college football,” he said early in the game. “They don't beat themselves.”
He also gave the Sooners' offensive players plenty of credit. On Landry Jones' 24-yard pass to Jalen Saunders, he said, “An outstanding throw by Landry Jones. Why? Great protection. He has time, steps and throws and Saunders does exactly what's he supposed to do.”
Millen called Saunders “a nice-looking slot receiver. He has excellent quickness.”
On Damien Williams' 66-yard touchdown run to start the second half and give OU a 21-7 lead, he credited left tackle Lane Johnson for a crucial block. “He (Johnson) got the edge right away and he (Williams) was out the gate… And once he has that green, you don't catch him.”
Play-by-play announcer Joe Tessitore was surprised that his photo was used by TCU on its play calls. Sideline reporter Shannon Spake explained that it was used by the Horned Frogs to keep OU from seeing it play calls.
“No comment,” Tessitore said. “I was at the race track. I don't know why I was smiling. They usually hand me the tickets already ripped up.”
On Michael Hunnicutt's 42-yard missed field goal that was hammered by the wind, Tessitore said, “It was like a kite hanging up in the Fort Worth wind. It took a hard left turn at I-30.”
In Waco, FX analyst Joel Klatt, a former Colorado quarterback, said he thought OSU was still feeling the effects of its 50-49 overtime loss to OU as the Cowboys finished the season with a 41-34 loss to Baylor.
“It's not that I thought Oklahoma State was sleep-walking through this game by any means -- they played hard -- but I get the sense the hangover is still there from the loss to Oklahoma.”
The Cowboy defense gave up 615 yards, including two long touchdown plays – a 75-yard touchdown pass from Nick Florence to Tevin Reese and a 76-yard run by Lache Seastrunk.
On the pass, Klatt said, “Oklahoma State does not have answer for this empty set with everyone spread outside the numbers. Way too much space being given up in the middle of the field.”
On Seastrunk's run, in which he appeared to pull a hamstring, he said, “He pulls something. He just barely gets in the end zone. What an effort by Seastrunk!”
In Tulsa, Dave Pasch called TU's winning touchdown in overtime as Alex Singleton dived in from the 1, giving him an even 100 rushing yard for the game. “Over the top, it's official: Tulsa wins Conference USA -- 263 pounds flying through the air.”
TU blocked a Central Florida field goal in overtime. “That was just a low kick,” analyst Brian Griese said.
The key — and most unusual play — of the game came when TU's Trey Watts tied the game on a 54-yard punt return. After a Central Florida player batted the ball and with several UCF players around the ball, Watts unexpectedly grabbed it and raced down the sideline for the score.
“Everyone stopped on the ball, except for one guy, Trey Watts,” Griese said. “Even though it's touched first by UCF, it's not dead.”