BOULDER, Colo. – Oklahoma remained unbeaten in the Red River, but needed a try in the final minutes to stave off Baylor, while TCU earned its first-ever conference victory when it hammered Texas Tech, 55-5.
Oklahoma 21 – 14 Baylor
The Sooners entered their game against Baylor atop of the Red River Conference standings, while little was known about a Baylor team that had yet to play a conference match. A win over Texas A&M in a fall friendly gave Baylor the look of an improving side, but few suspected the Bears could pull off the upset against Oklahoma.
Chances of an upset looked more realistic 10 minutes into the match after Baylor took the lead with a rare drop goal from fly half Santiago Locamuz.
“Baylor plays a similar style and matched up well with us,” said Oklahoma Head Coach Doug Neubauer. “They were ready and I think we weren’t.”
The next 25 minutes of the match was a defensive struggle before winger Manny Soto broke free for the game’s first try and a 7-3 Sooner lead. Just when it looked like Oklahoma would enter the half with a narrow lead, Baylor exploded for a penalty goal and an unconverted try – each coming from Locamuz.
Trailing 14-11 at the second half restart, the Sooners immediately drove into Baylor’s end of the pitch and sent Donovan Ronan over the line for a converted try and a 14-11 advantage. Oklahoma’s lead would be short-lived as reserve Daniel Robertson, who came on for an injured Locamuz, slotted a penalty kick of his own.
A yellow card handed out to Baylor would leave the Bears shorthanded, but the Sooners couldn’t take before being shown yellow themselves. Regardless, a late surge put the Bears on their backfoot and David Wallace scored the game-winning try.
Wallace, the team’s fly half and vice captain, has seemingly been in the middle of each of Oklahoma’s four wins this season.
“David is a great player and leads by example,” complimented Neubauer. “His pace at every point of the game gets everyone going. While David did score the winning try, it was a team effort to get us inside their 22 and attacking.”
Playing Oklahoma down to the wire demonstrates this year’s Baylor team is improving, however, the team was frustrated with the result, nonetheless.
“We were disappointed not to come out on top as we played well and certainly had our chances to win,” said Baylor Head Coach Mason Hering.
“Hats off to the Sooners, as they were able to do just that to close us out at the very end.”
While the bus ride back to Waco, Texas may have been a sullen one, a platform for success has been built in the Bears’ camp.
“I was really proud of our effort, especially on defense, because we were certainly sending a message that we aren’t the same Baylor team you’ve seen in the past,” stated Hering. “Our team knows we can play with anyone in our conference, and as long as we keep working hard and improving the wins will follow.”
Oklahoma is off next weekend before playing No. 18 LSU Feb. 20, while Baylor will look to level its record to 1-1 when it plays Texas A&M Feb. 13.
TCU 55 – 5 Texas Tech
Last week, Texas Tech easily dispatched Texas, while TCU fell to LSU by 45 points. Based on those results, conventional wisdom would tell you Tech would be capable of beating TCU. Apparently, the Horned Frogs don’t care much for conventional wisdom.
After surrendering a try to Red Raiders flanker Connor Hippard in the opening minutes of match, TCU reeled off 55 unanswered points to down Texas Tech, 55-5.
The victory was extremely valuable to the Horned Frog program – not because of the margin of the score, but because it was the team’s first Red River win since joining the conference last season.
Even after losing its first seven Red River matches, TCU wasn’t exactly shocked its inaugural win came in such convincing manner.
“It wasn’t surprising at all,” said TCU Head Coach TeShay Flowers. “We know our style of play and we realize that if we don’t play our style we are in for a long day. We spent a week making small adjustments to our game plan and personnel to put us in a better position. For at least one week, it worked to our advantage.”
In its Red River opener against Oklahoma, TCU was held without a try. Following that result, Dillon Thiele and Bryce Watson swapped half back duties, placing Thiele at scrum half and Watson at fly half. Little resulted from the role reversal in a loss to LSU, but this week both players excelled. Thiele netted himself a hat trick and added 10 additional points from the tee, while Watson masterfully played puppeteer to a backline that sparked the win and added a try of his own.
Following seven consecutive conference losses, it would have been fitting for TCU to celebrate the end of its losing streak. However, the Horned Frog locker room was less jubilant than one would have guessed following the match.
“These young men were pretty reserved,” described Flowers. “I can tell they were relieved to finally get the monkey off of their back, but at the same time they are well aware of what they are capable of. As a coach, I’m very proud of my team’s effort, and have turned my focus toward the University of Texas.”
Texas Tech will have two weeks to correct the plentiful mistakes it made before its next game – Feb. 20 versus Baylor, and TCU will have the chance to double its win total when it faces Texas on the same day.