NORMAN, Okla. – For the second consecutive week, Oklahoma needed a big play in the fourth quarter to preserve a big victory.
And for the second consecutive week, the Sooners delivered. Senior running back Brennan Clay's 76-yard touchdown late in the fourth quarter helped OU survive in a 20-17 victory against visiting TCU on Saturday night.
It's not always pretty, but it doesn't has to be. OU coach Bob Stoops said he would gladly take wins like these the rest of the season.
"I'm pleased and excited that we made the plays when we needed to," Stoops said. "I think it shows character and the fact that guys are in shape and ready to finish."
OU definitely needed one more big play. The Sooners dominated the first half on both sides of the ball, but the Horned Frogs (2-3, 0-2) found their footing in the second half.
TCU controlled the clock throughout much of the second half and had narrowed OU's margin to 13-10 with less than five minutes left in the game.
Clay knew immediately he was going to find the end zone once he got through the first wave of defenders on his 76-yard run as the senior finished with 111 yards on nine carries.
"We've matured," Clay said. "As a group, we've matured. We get into these type of situation, and we're calm and collected. No panic."
TCU answered back, but junior quarterback Blake Bell put the game away with a couple of first down conversions to run out the clock to set up the showdown with Texas in the Red River Rivalry next week. Both the Sooners and Longhorns are 2-0 in conference play.
Last week it was the passing game that came through when the 11th-ranked Sooners (5-0, 2-0) needed to make a statement at Notre Dame. Bell found Sterling Shepard for a 54-yard touchdown to give OU some breathing room in South Bend.
There was no breathing room for OU wide receivers against the most physical, most talented secondary the Sooners have seen this season. OU's longest completion went for 19 yards as Bell finished 20 of 31 for 152 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions vs. TCU.
"They played a really good, hard-fought, tough football game," Stoops said. "They do an excellent job there. We knew it would be tough."
The Horned Frogs were limited to 16 total yards in the first half and didn't earn their initial first down until midway through the third quarter.
Following a shaky first half, TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin came alive in the second half. He threw for 166 yards and had two rushing touchdowns.
OU has been able to hang its hat on its running game and the physicality of the offensive line through the first five games. The Sooners closed with 203 rushing yards on 38 attempts.
Offensive coordinator Josh Heupel said he would have preferred to get the yardage in chunks, but he's not complaining about the end result.
"Tonight I wanted that 76-yard run," Heupel said.
The OU defense will be a storyline to watch going forward as injuries mount. Defensive tackle Jordan Phillips didn't suit up for the game, while senior linebacker Corey Nelson injured his right shoulder in the third quarter and didn't return.
Stoops wouldn't speculate on either players' condition, but he expects the situation to resolve itself and hopes both will be ready to go for Texas.