STEPHEN HAWKINS, AP Sports Writer
FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Gary Patterson and No. 25 TCU finally have a big attention-grabbing victory in the Big 12 Conference
The former BCS-busting Horned Frogs sent quite a message in their third Big 12 opener, getting Paul Dawson’s 41-yard interception return for a touchdown and a big fourth-down stop in the fourth quarter Saturday in a 37-33 victory over No. 4 Oklahoma.
“It basically gives us confidence,” dual-threat quarterback Trevone Boykin said. “Knowing that we can play with guys like OU, because a lot of Big 12 championships have went through there.”
TCU (4-0, 1-0) has won its first four games for fifth time in the last seven years under Patterson, but didn’t have a win of this magnitude it its first two Big 12 seasons.
The Frogs had won three consecutive Mountain West titles without a league loss, including a 13-0 season in 2010 capped by a Rose Bowl victory over Wisconsin. There also was a season-opening victory over then-No. 5 Oklahoma in 2005, before moving to a power conference.
They were 6-12 in Big 12 games the last two seasons, though four of their losses last season were by three points or less. Their two losses to the Sooners in that span were by a combined 10 points.
“With our group last year, they fought and came back. … This group here learned how to fight back,” Patterson said. “We just didn’t have quite enough firepower last year.”
So Patterson hired new co-coordinators to install an up-tempo offense similar to what most other Big 12 teams use.
And while Boykin is flourishing — he had 395 total yards Saturday — the key plays against the Sooners came from the defense that Patterson has overseen since arriving at TCU as defensive coordinator in 1998. He replaced Dennis Franchione as head coach after the 2000 regular season.
TCU provided a jolt but maybe not a fatal blow to Oklahoma’s standing for the new four-team College Football Playoff. The Sooners (4-1, 1-1) weren’t the only highly ranked team with a loss to start October, with No. 2 Oregon, No. 3 Alabama and No. 6 Texas A&M also losing.
“This isn’t the defining moment of our season. There’s a lot of football left,” Sooners quarterback Trevor Knight. “Who knows what’s down the road. It’s early in the season, a one-loss team can still make it.”
Oklahoma had the ball after the teams had three turnovers in a span of four plays — another interception by Trevor Knight between two fumbles by TCU.
On fourth down from the TCU 22, Samaje Perine was stuffed by linebacker Marcus Mallet for no gain. Officials confirmed on a replay review that Perine, who had 87 yards rushing and three TD runs in the game, was stopped short of a first down.
Dawson’s big pick came with 14:12 left. The former high receiver reached up with both hands to grab the ball and raced untouched to make it 37-31. The Sooners got two points when Jordan Phillips blocked the extra point and Zack Sanchez returned it to the end zone.
“The guy made a heck of a play,” Knight said. “There’s not much you can do about that.”
Boykin was 20-of-38 passing for 318 yards with two touchdowns, and added 77 yards on 22 carries.
“They just straight outplayed us,” defensive tackle Chuka Ndule said. ” (Boykin) is unpredictable. He managed to get out of trouble when we thought we had him trapped.”
Boykin did fumble on a keeper in the fourth quarter, but two plays later Chris Hackett had an interception for TCU before B.J. Catalon gave it right back on a fumble at the Frogs 46 with 6 minutes left.
The Sooners picked up one first down, on Perine’s 6-yard run on third-and-1. But the freshman back who had 242 yards at West Virginia in the Sooners’ last game two weeks ago, was stopped short when the Sooners needed only a yard.
Knight, who had been 9-0 as Oklahoma’s starter, was 14 of 35 for 309 yards while dealing with cramps for part of the game. He ran 13 times for 61 yards.
There was a 75-yard TD pass to Sterling Shepard in the first quarter that tied it at 14 after TCU jumped ahead 14-0 on its first two drives. Shepard had seven receptions for 215 yards, including a 53-yard catch to set up Perine’s first TD run.
“They caught us with a couple of big plays early,” Patterson said. “We had to change up some coverages and we finally got a chance to slow them down a little bit.”
Patterson was then already talking about having to play at No. 7 Baylor next week.
A second consecutive matchup of undefeated Big 12 teams, and a chance for the Frogs to make another statement.