No one was surprised when the Oklahoma Sooners opened the 2005 season as 24.5-point favorites at sportsbooks over a mediocre TCU Horned Frogs team.
After finishing the 2004 season ranked No. 1 in the AP Poll and No. 2 in the Coaches Poll, the Sooners were legitimate national title contenders heading into the 2005 season (+1400, via SportsOddsHistory.com).
TCU had been a 10- and 11-win team a few years earlier but finished the 2004 season with a 5-6 record. However, the Sooners were not the same team without former Heisman winner Jason White at quarterback. That much was evident as the Horned Frogs beat Oklahoma 17-10 as 24.5-point road underdogs.
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Adrian Peterson Enough to Make Sooners Heavy Favorites
Oklahoma had lost some key players from the 2004 squad, i.e., White, Mark Clayton, etc. But they had another Heisman contender at running back – sophomore Adrian Peterson. In 2004, Peterson became the first freshman to finish as runner-up in Heisman voting.
With a first-time starter under center (Paul Thompson), Peterson needed to carry the team for a game while the quarterback got up to speed.
Peterson was perceived as good enough and expectations for TCU were low enough for Oklahoma to be a heavy favorite in the game (-24.5 points). For Oklahoma, it was supposed to be just another season-opening tune-up game to help them work out the kinks before facing real competition.
It, of course, ended up being so much more.
TCU Defense Shuts Down Adrian Peterson and Wins the Day
This game may have been when TCU head coach Gary Patterson established his reputation as a defensive-minded guru. With Thompson making his first start for the Sooners, he knew the key to the game would be stopping Peterson. If Oklahoma had to lean on its first-time starter to win the game, then it was advantage TCU.
Patterson’s defense stifled the Sooners’ offense in the first half as the Horned Frogs built a 10-0 halftime lead. The game was still within reach for Oklahoma – the Sooners just needed to get Peterson and the offense on track. They appeared to do so on the opening drive of the second half, a nine-play, 72-yard drive that ended with an 11-yard touchdown scamper by Peterson.
Oklahoma took advantage of a turnover on downs to tie the game up at 10-10. But the TCU defense clamped down for the remainder of the game, giving up 43 net yards for the rest of the game. A forced fumble early in the fourth quarter set the TCU offense up with a short field and the eventual game-winning touchdown.
As One Goes Up, Another Must Go Down
For TCU, the win was the biggest the program had seen in 45 years. However, the following week, TCU was still a heavy road underdog against SMU (+13.5-points) and the Horned Frogs lost to the Mustangs, 21-10. But TCU went undefeated the rest of the way, finishing the season with an 11-1 record and ranked No. 9 in the Coaches Poll and No. 11 in the AP.
As deflating as the season-opening loss was, confidence in the Sooners did not disappear overnight. They fell from No. 7 in the AP down to No. 18, but Oklahoma was still a heavy favorite the following week against Tulsa (-30.5), a game the Sooners won 31-15. Oklahoma did fall out of the top 25 after a big loss to UCLA in Week 3.
The Sooners finished the season with an 8-4 record but snuck back into the polls at No. 22 after beating Oregon in the Holiday Bowl.