Baylor 50 ... TCU 48
Baylor shocked TCU
in wild thriller
TCU giving up 50 points and 564 yards of total offense?! Let's just hope that this game was an indication that this will be a wild and crazy season with several twists and turns.
You didn't see this coming. No one could've, and now the 2011 season has been thrown for a little bit of a loop before it could really start to get rolling.
TCU allowed 153 points in 14 games in 2010. It allowed 166 points in 13 games in 2009 and 147 points in 13 games in 2008. This was not the TCU that has become such a monster over the last decade, but at the same time, the fourth quarter showed why the program has been so amazing under head coach Gary Patterson.
The loss, more than anything else, might be just the slap in the face that TCU needed. After years of being the little guy, the cute story, and the David trying to sling the rocks in a college football world of Goliaths, now TCU is one of the big guys and Baylor acted like it.
Attitude can sometimes mean everything in college football, and Baylor came out like a team that was sick and tired of being overlooked while its next door neighbor did so many big, splashy things. But unlike Texas of last year, who spent a year of failing because of a sense of entitlement, TCU seemed to get over itself in about three quarters and went back to executing like it was supposed to and playing like it really and truly is a program that deserves all the respect it's been receiving.
But it wasn't enough to overcome Robert Griffin and Kendall Wright.
Why Griffin, one of the fastest and most athletic players in college football, doesn't get on the move more in this offense – running ten times for 38 yards against the Horned Frogs – has been a mystery.
Art Briles was the head coach at Houston when Kevin Kolb was winging the ball all over the yard, and now he has turned Griffin from one of college football's most dangerous running quarterbacks into a devastating passer, completing 21-of-27 passes for 359 yards and five scores to announce that yes, he belongs on the early lists of Heisman and All-America candidates. Meanwhile, in a conference dominated by Oklahoma's Ryan Broyles and Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon on all the preseason all-star lists, Wright showed that he might be just as good as any receiver in America with 12 catches for 189 yards and two scores.
And now the accolades can start to roll in for a while with a bye week followed up by Stephen F. Austin and Rice before starting out the Big 12 campaign against Kansas State. Of course, the near-gag and collapse in the fourth quarter showed off some glaring concerns in the secondary and in mental toughness – with too many dumb plays and miscues allowing TCU to get back in the game – but coming off a disastrous end to the 2010 season, this was the type of win that could change around the program for good.
Of course, TCU isn't going to be happy with the loss, but that this was such a big deal for Baylor and because this should be such a season-maker shows just how really, really big Patterson has made the program. Unlike Baylor, who gets a few weeks to breathe, the Horned Frogs have to gear it back up again for a game that really and truly matters; a Mountain West road game at Air Force.
In what might wind up being the most entertaining game of September – if not the season - Baylor held off TCU for the signature win for head coach Art Briles and the long-suffering program that hadn't beaten a ranked team since 2004.
Bears QB Robert Griffin is just halfway through his eligibility, and as this game showed, he's rapidly getting better and is quickly emerging as the type of all-around player who can carry his team on his back – and his arm.
Baylor won't win the Big 12, especially with a defense that's far too soft, but Griffin and top target Kendall Wright are going to keep someone else in the league from winning the crown. No longer labeled an "athlete", a sometimes derogatory term for a raw passer, the junior has evolved into a complete quarterback, with terrific decision-making ability and an even better feel for the game. This was his game, and as he showed, this was his team and his moment.
Even though they ran into a buzzsaw, the Horned Frogs damn near delivered one of the great rallies in college football history. They won't make it back to a third straight BCS bowl game, but the program will be just fine as long as the jitters and mistakes from the first three quarters are over.
QB Casey Pachall already looks like a winner, and head coach Gary Patterson will get that rebuilt defense playing much better over time. Rebounding from all of the talent TCU lost from the 2010 Rose Bowl squad doesn't happen overnight.
By Matt Zemek
In a 98-point epic, a sprawling saga filled with endless twists and turns, every detail matters. Despite overcoming a 24-point deficit in the fourth quarter on Friday night, the Texas Christian Horned Frogs – who stood atop the mountain alongside Auburn last year (though not in terms of official and formal national championship recognition) – were immediately brought back to earth by the resourceful and resilient Baylor Bears. In the wake of this Waco spellbinder, one can point to many reasons why TCU came up short, but the narrative formed by those reasons is not so easy to identify.
TCU lost this game on defense, getting smoked by Robert Griffin III and the fleet-footed flotilla of flankers from Baylor. TCU's defense isn't supposed to allow this many points in four games, let alone one. Yes, the Frogs were going to have issues on defense this season, given the loss of many seniors. Getting torched for 50 points, though? That's hard to accept under any circumstance for a program fresh off a Rose Bowl conquest of Wisconsin. Naturally, the defense will take the biggest hit in the court of public opinion, but there were more problems.
It might not seem right or fair, but the most disappointing part of this TCU loss is the performance of kicker Ross Evans.
The young man starred in his freshman season in 2008, but then gacked in that season-defining Thursday night game against Utah in Salt Lake City. Evans wasn't needed in a Rose Bowl contest which featured three TCU touchdowns and no field goals. Entering his senior season, he needed to be a rock with a less imposing defense and a lot of new skill people on offense; his team would play many more close games compared to 2010, and he needed to be a rock.
On Friday, he wasn't.
In a video-game shootout, Evans's two missed field goals from very makeable distances, and his wayward extra point cost his team dearly in the comeback mode. It's one thing for an untalented freshman kicker to lose a game; it's quite another matter for a senior kicker to fail to come through.
Of course, the rest of the team played a role in this, too.
The Frogs, while wilting on defense, couldn't blow away Baylor's defensive front. The Bears were competent in stuffing the straight-ahead power running game of the Frogs; competent enough, at any rate, to deny TCU points on three separate drives inside the Bears' 35. Without that bit of overlooked grit, Baylor wouldn't have won. TCU's play at the line of scrimmage wasn't good enough on Friday.
TCU discovered just how fine a line there is between being great and being among the elite, especially when taking other teams' best shot. Call this a learning experience for the rest of the year, and going forward, this showed how the team has to start doing all the little things right to get back to what got the program to its lofty status.
By Russ Mitchell
Follow me on Twitter @russmitchellcfb
Defense? We don't need no stinkin' defense.
Just how bad was TCU's? Going into the fourth quarter, RG III and the Baylor Bears' offense had only been stopped three times, and one of those was by halftime (nod to @EyeonCFB).
Baylor scored touchdowns on five of its first seven possessions for the first half, or at roughly a 70% clip.
Actually, it was even worse than that for the Horned Frogs' defense. TCU couldn't stop Baylor even one time in both the second and third quarters, during which the Bears scored touchdowns on five straight possessions (again, stopped only by that pesky halftime).
It was at this point where Baylor thought it was playing hockey instead of football; that's the only explanation we can think of for why the Bears simply stopped playing after the third period - on both sides of the ball.
Until its final drive, Baylor went three and out three straight times, with the following stat line: 3 carries for 5 yards; 2 of 3 passing for 4 yards, a penalty and a fumble.
Baylor entered the fourth quarter up by 24 points, only to see it evaporate when TCU, unable to score from the Baylor 10, opted to kick a Ross Evans field goal for a one point lead. In a little more than ten fourth quarter minutes, the Horned Frogs had gone from losing 47-23 to winning 48-47.
But when they needed it most, Griffin drove his Bears down the field and into the field goal range of Aaron Jones, who knocked home a 37 yarder to retake the lead.
True, Baylor's fourth quarter choke and Heimlich raises some questions, but the big takeaway from this game isn't that Baylor's for real - it's that TCU clearly doesn't have the same defense it's enjoyed for the last three years – the one that finished ranked #1 in the country in Total Defense from 2008-2010.