NORMAN, Okla. >>Dillon Gabriel passed for 400 yards and three touchdowns to help No. 13 Oklahoma defeat TCU 69-45 on Friday and improve its chances of reaching the Big 12 championship game.
Oklahoma (10-2, 7-2 Big 12, No. 13 CFP) entered the day in a three-way tie with Kansas State and Oklahoma State for second place in the conference. Those teams have games on Saturday, so the Sooners will have to wait to learn whether they will play for a 15th Big 12 title the following weekend.
TCU made it tough in the second half before the Sooners pulled away. The Horned Frogs needed a win to become bowl eligible and fell short a year after playing for the national championship.
“We knew that the fight wasn’t going to stop,” said Gabriel, a Mililani High grad. “You know, they’re fighting for bowl eligibility and we’re fighting for a 10th win. So I think everything was on the line for both teams. And we just focused on finding a way to win.”
Drake Stoops caught 12 passes for 125 yards and a touchdown for the Sooners. Stoops and Gabriel were honored on Senior Day before the game, and both got loud ovations as they came off the field in the final minutes.
Gavin Sawchuk ran for 130 yards and three touchdowns for the Sooners, who won their final regular-season Big 12 game. They will join the Southeastern Conference next season.
Josh Hoover passed for 344 yards and four touchdowns and Emani Bailey ran for 150 yards, caught a touchdown pass and ran for a score for TCU (5-7, 3-6).
Gabriel, who left the previous game with an upper-body injury, started and completed a 50-yard pass to Nic Anderson on his first throw. Two plays later, he ran up the middle for an 8-yard touchdown.
Later in the quarter, Gabriel found Jayden Gibson deep down the field. He caught the ball and held up a finger while crossing the goal line as a TCU defender pulled helplessly on the back of his jersey. The touchdown gave the Sooners a 14-6 lead.
Oklahoma continued to pour it on during a first half in which Gabriel moved up from 10th to seventh in FBS history in yards passing. He passed Luke Falk, former Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield and Kellen Moore. He passed for 278 yards and two touchdowns and ran for a score before the break to help the Sooners take a 42-16 lead. Gabriel also surpassed former Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones and moved up from ninth to eighth in career touchdown passes in the first half. He now has 125.
TCU made a push in the second half. Hoover’s 3-yard touchdown pass to Jared Wiley and a 2-point conversion to Wiley cut Oklahoma’s lead to 45-31.
Oklahoma went for it on fourth-and-1 from its 33, and Gabriel broke off a 40-yard run. A tough sideline catch by Stoops held up after review, then Stoops caught a 9-yard touchdown pass from Gabriel on the next play to help Oklahoma regain control.
“Was proud of our guys for getting back in the game second half,” TCU coach Sonny Dykes said. “We got it down to two scores and all of a sudden, we’re back in the game and we couldn’t get them stopped. And so that was kind of the theme of the day.”
Oklahoma’s Billy Bowman returned an interception for a touchdown in the fourth quarter, prompting fans to chant “S-E-C! S-E-C!” The extra point gave the Sooners a 69-38 lead.
Dykes said it was too soon to ask about specific changes, but everything will be under scrutiny after a season that fell well short of expectations.
“I’ll take a look at everything we’re doing, from what are we eating in the pregame meal to who’s calling plays and doing whatever,” he said. “So it’s it’s just part of what you do and part of what we go through.”
TCU: The Horned Frogs had been pretty solid the past three games. They showed on offense why they’ve been competitive, gaining 520 yards and scoring more than any Oklahoma opponent this season. But the Horned Frogs gave up 607 yards.
Oklahoma: The Sooners completed an unbeaten home slate with another offensive explosion. It was the fourth time the Sooners scored at least 50 points in a home game. They scored 73 against Arkansas State, 50 against Iowa State and 59 against West Virginia.
Drake Stoops — the son of former Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops — matched a career high with 12 receptions with his father in attendance. He now has 78 catches this season, the eighth-highest total ever for an Oklahoma receiver.
SAWING ‘EM DOWN
Sawchuk has rushed for at least 100 yards in four straight games. During that stretch, he has rushed for 483 yards and five touchdowns with 6.8 yards per carry. He had 127 yards rushing through the first eight games.
TCU: Season over.
Oklahoma: Await more results to learn next step.