FORT WORTH — Texas Christian needed more than a few strokes of luck from the football gods to begin its tough climb into the College Football Playoff Poll top five in the aftermath of the Iowa State loss.
The Horned Frogs got one when Iowa dismantled No. 6 Ohio State in a 31-point throttling. They got another bird-in-the-hand when Michigan State edged No. 6 Penn State by three points.
Beating Texas, a team that had nearly beaten the then-nationally ranked USC Trojans and pushed Oklahoma and Oklahoma State to the brink, 24-7 at Amon G. Carter Stadium, though may have given them the right kind of juice with Oklahoma and Norman looming on the horizon.
“I was worried after last week how the guys would respond,” Patterson said. “I was after them pretty good on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday to be honest with you. You’ve probably figured this out by now, I’m not a very good loser.”
TCU notched it’s fourth consecutive victory against Austin’s staple team and it’s first against the Tom Herman-coached Longhorns. In the three previous, the average margin was 34,3 points.
In the fourth, it was 17.
When the newest rankings shake out next week, the Horned Frogs could find themselves back in the mix at No. 6 or No. 7. Truthfully, they could have been No. 5 if not for Baker Mayfield’s explosion during No. 5 Oklahoma’s 62-52 survival against Oklahoma State — no matter how “expected” Mayfield says victory is in Norman — mere hours before Fort Worth’s final bell.
TWO SIDES OF BEND-DON’T-BREAK FOOTBALL
By halftime, TCU had 12 first downs and despite 220 yards of total offense on 39 plays, the Horned Frogs scored only 17 points.
Hill and running back Kyle Hicks, who scored both of TCU’s first-half touchdowns, were furiously efficient in the first two quarters. Hill finished 14 for 18 with 120 yards and led scoring drives of 70 and 75 yards and threw passes to four different receivers.
“I’m feeling better and better each week. It’s working out, treating my body right, and practicing hard,” Hicks said about his level of health since returning from a rash of injuries. “I’m not at my peak yet, though. I think there’s still more to come.”
Hicks had 48 yards on six carries (6.8 YPC) — more than 50 percent of the Horned Frogs’ total on the ground in the first half. Darius Anderson finished as the team’s rushing leader with 99 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries.
Eighty-six of Anderson’s total came in the final two quarters.
The defense, albeit early, seemed susceptible to Shane Buechele’s mad scrambling. It gave up 185 total yards — including 171 through the air. Four sacks by Ben Banogu (2), Mat Boesen (1) and Chris Bradley (1), though, helped limit an explosive Longhorn offense to seven points on six drives.
It allowed only 94 in the second half and added three more sacks courtesy of Ross Blalock, Joseph Broadnax, and Ty Summers.
“We just made sure we contained him. [During the first half] he had too many guys on one side of him and had openings,” said Summers, a TCU defensive lineman and San Antonio Regan High School product, about his team’s halftime adjustments. “That was something we were able to change later in the game. We weren’t perfect, but we did a decent job at it.”
Boesen had a sack for the fourth straight game. He has five sacks on the season, all in the last six contests. Banogu’s sacks on consecutive snaps gave him a team-high 6 1/2 on the season. The seven total sacks by TCU — which gave it at least one in 50 of its last 52 games — are the most by the Horned Frogs since they posted nine at SMU in 2014.
It wasn’t just containing Texas’ wily signal-caller, either. The Longhorns rushed for nine yards, the third team TCU’s allowed the 25 or fewer yards this season. TCU entered the game first in the Big 12 and third in the NCAA in rushing defense at 77.2 yards per game and lowered that number to 69.7 by game’s end.
“We played the run really well, just like we’ve played it all year,” Patterson said. “I wasn’t happy about the one touchdown. I mean they just threw a couple of balls down the field on that drive. You got to play the ball in the air.”
Daniel Young, Texas’ leading rusher, had 31 yards on 12 carries. The most important aspect may have been the harnessing of Buechele, who had a hand in the Longhorns’ only touchdown of the game courtesy a Collin Johnson 33-yard circus catch in the corner of the end zone.
And especially given what the Horned Frogs will face in less than a calendar week.
“That’s definitely something we’re going to have to do against Baker (Mayfield),” Summers noted. “He’s known more as a scrambler than (Shane) Buechele is. We’re definitely going to have to have a plan and a specific approach against him.”
ROAD TO NORMAN
With Saturday night’s near shutout of Texas, the Horned Frogs crept within two victories of a New Years Six bowl and possibly a chance to play for a national title for the first time in the College Football Playoff era.
For TCU, though, the rhetoric was the same across the board — on to Norman.
“This is a four-game season and right now, we’re 1-0. It’s a tough four games. You got to be in Norman and then Lubbock, and then you’ve got Baylor at home the last week of the [regular] season,” Patterson mused. “We’ve got a lot of work to do. We don’t need to lose perspective. We’ve got an opportunity to stay at one loss. Baker’s playing well and so are the wide receivers and they’re just really good on offense, plain and simple. We’ve got quite a challenge, so I think I’ll rest up.”
Oklahoma won a 52-46 shootout with TCU last season at Amon G. Carter Stadium and again 30-29 in 2015. The Horned Frogs’ last victory at Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium was in 2013, via a 20-17 finish.
Marcus Matthews-Marion is the managing editor of TexasHSFootball, covering prep football throughout the Lone Star State. Follow him on Twitter,@RealMarcMarion, and read more of his content here.