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at Baylor 50 ... TCU 48
Posted Sep 3, 2011

Week 1 CFN Fearless Prediction & Breakdown - TCU at Baylor

2011 Predictions & Game Story 

Week 1 - TCU at Baylor

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Instant Analysis
Baylor's thriller over TCU

Sept. 1 at Baylor 50 … TCU 48
CFN Analysis: Robert Griffin was almost perfect. He might have missed a few throws late, and he might have given up a key fumble, but he and Kendall Wright showed off the type of explosiveness that’ll make the Bears a factor in the Big 12 chase. However, as great as this win might have been, especially with the gut-check final scoring drive with everything going TCU’s way, one of big focuses will be the collapse and the gag job by the Bears in the fourth quarter. 11 penalties for the game were way too many, with several really, really dumb errors helping the Horned Frogs get back into the game. As Griffin showed, there are elements to this team good enough to work with to beat anyone in the Big 12, but all the little things have to be done right. Of course, if Griffin can complete 21-of-27 passes for 359 yards and five scores, and if Kendall Wright can catch 12 passes for 189 yards and two scores, several mistakes will be overcome.

For three quarters, TCU looked like it needed a tune-up breather of a preseason game. It needed a layup against an FCS team just to get everything working in sync and just to get the secondary some live reps before getting hit by the bomb that Baylor and Robert Griffin were about to drop. However, that fourth quarter might have showed that everything really will be okay. Everyone will throw out stats about how TCU had one of its worst games in several years, but when all looked hopeless, and with QB Casey Pachall suffering a perma-cramp in his leg, the team found a way to almost get it done. In the longview and in the national picture, this game probably didn’t matter too much; TCU can still get to a BCS game by running the table and finishing 11-1. As bad as losing this game might be, losing at Air Force would be far worse. Was this loss an indicator that 2011 will really be a rebuilding season, or was it an aberration? The Horned Frogs will find out next week. (

AP) WACO, Texas -- Aaron Jones kicked a 37-yard field goal with 1:04 left and Baylor averted a monumental collapse to pull out a 50-48 season-opening victory over 14th-ranked TCU on Friday night.

TCU, which had won an FBS-best 25 consecutive regular-season games, overcome a 47-23 deficit in the fourth quarter to briefly take the lead. New starting quarterback Casey Pachall threw three touchdowns passes in the rally and a fumble by Bears quarterback Robert Griffin set up a go-ahead 27-yard field goal by Ross Evans, who earlier missed twice from behind 40 yards.

But Baylor, which hadn't beaten a ranked team since 2004, then went 60 yards in 11 plays -- including Griffin's 15-yard catch from Kendall Wright on a third-and-10 -- to set up Jones.

The Frogs had one more chance, but Pachall's last pass was intercepted by Mike Hicks and he ran the clock down to 2 seconds in Baylor's most-anticipated opener in a long time.

Griffin took one more snap, knelt down and immediately the field was swarming in gold as students and fans rushed out to celebrate. Many of those in purple sat in the stands staring out in shock.

Wright threw for a score of his own before catching two of Robert Griffin's career-high five touchdown passes as Baylor avoided another crushing loss to the defending Rose Bowl champion and its old Southwest Conference rival.

This would have certainly hurt more than the Bears' 45-10 loss in Fort Worth a year ago because Baylor was never in that game.

Griffin hit 21 of 27 passes for 359 yards, with Wright catching 12 of them for 189 yards. Terrance Williams had six catches for 126 yards and two scores.

This is not the same TCU team that was a BCS buster the last two seasons. There are missing pieces on a defense that finished the last three seasons No. 1 overall in the country, and four-year starting quarterback Andy Dalton is now a rookie starter in the NFL.

Pachall was 25 of 39 for 251 yards and four TDs with that one interception. He threw to 10 players, with Josh Boyce making nine catches for 96 yards.

The only time Baylor really appeared to be going backward before TCU's big comeback was when Wright was excitedly backpedaling after throwing his pass, a 40-yard touchdown to Williams only 2 1/2 minutes into the game. Wright took a quick pass behind the line from Griffin, drawing the defender and leaving Williams wide open.

TCU allowed only 229 yards per game last season, and the most allowed in the regular season was 361 by SMU. The Bears had 360 at halftime, when they led 34-23, and finished with 564.

It was the most yards and points allowed by the Horned Frogs since Sept. 24, 2005, in their 51-50 overtime victory over BYU, which had 614 yards.

Baylor was 0-4 against Top 25 teams last season, when the Bears finished 7-6 with a bowl appearance for the first time since 1994. Their last win over a ranked team was a double-overtime victory over No. 16 Texas A&M in 2004.

Griffin is back for his fourth year, though he is only listed as a junior after a hardship redshirt for that early season-ending knee injury in 2009.

Baylor built a 40-23 lead when Griffin appeared to underthrow Lanear Sampson streaking down the left sideline. But cornerback Greg McCoy, who had some big kickoff returns for the Frogs, misplayed the ball and Sampson caught it for a 64-yard touchdown.

Griffin's fifth TD pass came on the next drive, a 42-yarder to Williams. And even that wasn't enough.

Pachall, the sophomore who threw only nine passes behind Dalton last season, threw two TDs in a span of 3:18 early in the fourth quarter.

The Frogs drove 80 yards on 14 plays before Pachall threw a 1-yarder to Logan Brock. Skye Dawson's 30-yard punt return and a 15-yard penalty then set TCU up at the 12 before Pachall had a 9-yard TD throw to Boyce and they then connected for 2-point conversion.

After a short punt set TCU up at midfield, Pachall threw a 19-yard TD to David Porter. But another 2-point try to Boyce was incomplete.

Stansly Moponga caused and recovered a fumble by Griffin at the end of the 10-yard run that started the ensuing Baylor drive.

For Gary Patterson, TCU's defensive-minded coach, and new Baylor defensive coordinator Phil Bennett, the opener certainly couldn't have been too enjoyable.

During one span in the first half, there were scores on six consecutive possessions -- three touchdowns by Baylor and two touchdowns and a field goal for TCU. Griffin threw TD passes of 35 and 27 yards to Wright during that span, and Pachall had a 23-yarder to Brock.  

TCU (0-0) at Baylor (0-0) Sept. 2, 8:00, ESPN/ESPN3

Here’s The Deal … Can TCU keep all the momentum going? After coming up with a program-defining Rose Bowl win over Wisconsin to close out a phenomenal 13-0 season, now all eyes are on the Horned Frogs to see if they can somehow continue to be as dominant and as impressive as they were throughout the last few seasons. On a run of 27 wins in the last 28 games – with the lone loss the 2010 Fiesta Bowl to Boise State – and with only the two regular season losses since early November of 2007 coming against the 2008 Oklahoma team that played for the national title and the Utah team that same year that ended up going 13-0, the spotlight is on. There’s major turnover on both sides of the ball and now the expectations are higher than ever, and now the program that’s so used to being the hunter is the hunted. David is now the Goliath. With the Mountain West opener at Air Force to follow, the Horned Frogs need to come up with a strong first two weeks before things ease up. TCU might be rebuilding, but if it starts out 2-0, it’ll probably be 7-0 going into the date with BYU.

Baylor also came up with a phenomenal 2010 season, going to a bowl game for the first time since becoming a member of the Big 12, and entering November with its destiny in its hands to win the conference title. But after an ugly three-game losing streak to end the regular season, and a disastrous bowl performance in a 38-14 loss to Illinois, the Bears have to show it wasn’t a fluke and show that the wins are going to come on a regular basis. With Stephen F. Austin and Rice to follow, before diving into the Big 12 season, a win over TCU would almost certainly a hot start with winnable games against Kansas State and Iowa State ahead.

Why TCU Might Win: Baylor won’t be able to move the ball on the TCU defense. The reloading job for the Horned Frogs is mostly being done on the offensive side. There are few key parts gone from the Horned Frog defensive front, but the linebackers are in place to keep BU’s scintillating quarterback, Robert Griffin, from taking off and doing much in open space, while the secondary is just good enough to keep the terrific Bear receiving corps under wraps. It might be a new year with new teams, but last year, TCU won 45-10 with the defense holding the Bear ground game to just 99 yards while rumbling at will offensively. The jury is still out on whether or not the Baylor defensive front seven has significantly improved after getting steamrolled over late in the year. However …

Why Baylor Might Win: This isn’t the same TCU offense of last season. The offensive line should be solid, and Ed Wesley should be among the best running backs in the Mountain West, but it won’t be a given that the attack will keep on rolling at such a high level without quarterback Andy Dalton and playmaking star Jeremy Kerley, and with six starters needing to be replaced, it’ll take at least a game or two before everything starts to click. The Baylor offensive line has been building to this point for the last few years, and with four starters back and good depth to rely on, the results for the ground game could be night-and-day different from last year’s meeting. TCU might have finished fifth in the nation in total defense last season, but Baylor averaged 195 yards per game on the ground and should be even better with a nice blend of experience and talent to rely on.
What To Watch Out For: Can Casey Pachall fill the shoes of Andy Dalton? While Dalton never got into the Heisman discussion over four great years, he was a peerless leader who took TCU from being a good non-BCS team to a major player on a national scale. Dalton finished his career with 10,314 passing yards, 71 touchdown passes, 1,611 rushing yards, 22 touchdowns, and a Rose Bowl win. More than that, he made every play needed at the right time to turn games into ugly blowouts. Pachall has even more talent than the Cincinnati Bengal’s new quarterback, but he has to prove early on that he can be the same playmaker and the same leader and he has to stay healthy. The Horned Frogs survived a scare as Pachall was banged up in practices, but his injured shoulder turned out to just be a bit sore.

For Baylor, the pressure is on the defensive front to generate a little bit of pressure on Pachall and not let him feel comfortable in his first game as TCU’s main man. Teams were able to bomb away on the BU secondary at will last season, mostly because the line didn’t get any semblance of a pass rush into the backfield on a regular basis. Sophomore Terrance Lloyd is a speedster who’s coming off a knee injury, and he has to show right away that he can change the tone and the aggressiveness up front.

What Will Happen: New year, new teams, same results. The Baylor defense will come out fired up and TCU will have a hard time moving the ball early on, and then the Horned Frog running game will kick in. Pachall will be effective on third downs, Wesley will come up with five yards per crack, and the blend will keep the Bears on their heels. Griffin – who’s been razor sharp in fall practices - will have a good game and he’ll come up with a few big plays, but drive after drive will stall as BU will settle for field goals instead of touchdowns. Two crushing scoring drives in the second half will put it away for the Horned Frogs, and Griffin will struggle late to try to make something happen down the field. It’ll be a ragged game defined by the TCU defense, but it’ll be Pachall who’ll have everyone buzzing.

CFN Prediction: TCU 31 … Baylor 19 
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