STILLWATER, Okla. -- With the flashy Oklahoma schools consuming so much attention, TCU coach Gary Patterson suggested all week that the college football world was overlooking his team.
After Saturday, the Horned Frogs won't be overlooked anymore.
Behind a poised performance from quarterback Kenny Hill and a dogged display from its defensive backfield, TCU jumped to a big lead, then held off sixth-ranked Oklahoma State for a stunning 44-31 victory to announce its arrival to the Big 12 title -- and College Football Playoff -- conversation.
After obliterating their first three opponents, the Cowboys entered the weekend as double-digit favorites over No. 16 TCU and as a trendy pick for the playoff, thanks to senior signal-caller and budding Heisman front-runner Mason Rudolph and his array of electric receivers.
Hill was the better quarterback on Saturday, however.
And TCU's relatively anonymous secondary outplayed Oklahoma State's hyped receiving corps.
All game long, the Oklahoma State defense had little answer for Hill, who methodically gashed the Pokes for 228 passing yards while keeping Rudolph off the field and out of rhythm.
Hill was especially lethal on key downs, completing 8 of 11 passes for 108 yards on third downs, which resulted in seven conversations and were a big reason why the Horned Frogs doubled up the Pokes in time of possession.
All told, TCU, which entered the day ranked No. 1 nationally in third-down offense, converted 11 of 18 third downs. Fittingly, the Horned Frogs clinched the game on their final conversion, as Darius Anderson blasted through an Oklahoma State defense that sold out on third-and-4 in the final three minutes.
On the other side of the ball, TCU's secondary blanketed Oklahoma State's receivers for much of the game, often forcing Rudolph to throw the pass away or take a coverage sack.
During one early critical sequence, Rudolph was unable to find an open receiver and rolled outside the pocket. Rudolph didn’t see defensive end Ben Banogu come crashing behind him, though. Banogu stripped the ball loose, TCU recovered and Hill led the Horned Frogs on a nine-play touchdown drive, giving Patterson's squad a 20-7 lead.
Rudolph and the Cowboys tried to pull off a furious rally from a 20-point, fourth-quarter deficit. But once again, the TCU defense came up with a huge turnover. Nick Orr read Oklahoma State's double-pass trick play perfectly and intercepted receiver Jalen McCleskey's toss inside the Horned Frogs' 5-yard line.