FORT WORTH, Texas – You knew early that this game was going to be different. The first quarter had seven first downs and five punts.
And you knew late that this game most definitely was different. The fourth quarter at Amon Carter Stadium had defensive stops.
“Felt like football out there today,” said Mike Stoops.
You remember football. No track meet. No fireworks. No blown scoreboard fuses from overuse.
Just an old-fashioned football game, won 24-17 Saturday by the Sooners over Texas Christian that assured OU a share of the Big 12 title.
This is the way any self-respecting football man, if not fan, would want to win. Not 50-49 or 51-48, the scores of Sooner mind-blowers the previous two weeks.
The Sooners won this game by earning their real estate. Yards were hard. Paydirt did not come cheap.
OU blocked and tackled and worked its way to victory against this most-worthy new member of the Big 12.
“Hard-fought” and “rough” is how Bob Stoops described it. “I knew it'd be a battle throughout.”
Get used to it. The Horned Frogs, not the least bit fancy but plenty hearty, are primed to climb the Big 12 ladder. The Christians started only four seniors Saturday.
It wouldn't be outrageous to see OU and TCU picked 1-2 or 2-1 in the 2013 Big 12 preseason poll.
And wouldn't that be a nice development for a conference known far too much for wildly productive offense but precious little defense.
We saw defense Saturday, and it didn't even cost us drama.
Jaden Oberkrom nailed a 47-yard field goal with seven minutes to get the Frogs within a touchdown, then OU's Michael Hunnicut missed a 42-yarder into the wind.
That gave TCU one final chance, and the Frogs darn near made the most of it. Quarterback Trevone Boykin and flanker Cam White teamed on a 46-yard completion that beat OU cornerback Demontre Hurst, and TCU was 12 yards shy of a tie with a minute and a half to go.
“That's the way we've been doing things,” said Bob Stoops. “Making it exciting.”
The excitement included Boykin's 12-yard touchdown run, wiped out by a holding penalty with 40 seconds left, and Boykin's fourth-down pass to Josh Boyce in the end zone that was on target but was knocked away by swarming defenders Tony Jefferson and Julian Wilson.
And finally, the Sooner defense had its day.
“I'm very aware we haven't played defense like we want to,” Bob Stoops said.
Of course, TCU's offense is nowhere near the caliber of Baylor, West Virginia or OSU, offenses which had combined for 128 regulation points the past three weeks.
Boykin is scrappy, but not TCU's QB of choice – Casey Paschall was a big-time talent, but substance abuse cost him his spot on the squad in early October.
Still, Boykin has proven capable, quarterbacking victories in Waco, Morgantown and Austin. That's not a bad resume.
And TCU has a defense to die for, at least in this league.
“The defense was challenged,” said Mike Stoops, its beleaguered coordinator. “There's no way around it. I told ‘em, ‘We're not going to score 50 on ‘em. We're not getting in a shoot-out.'”
Instead of a shoot-out, this game was a shout-out. To a total team victory.
After games of 51-48 and 50-49 and 42-34, the Sooners needed to play a game where defenses had a fighting chance.
And the Big 12 needed a high-profile game that wasn't first-to-50 wins. The Alabama-Georgia tug-o'-war for the SEC title had, by early fourth quarter, outscored OU-TCU.
The Sooners-Frogs plot is how football games used to be won in this part of the country.
“They made us earn all our points,” said OU lineman Gabe Ikard.
That's the best kind of points. That's what football once was, and Saturday was again, in this stadium that figures to deliver to the Big 12 much-needed more of the same.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at email@example.com. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.