Every year, there’s always a team that started the season outside the polls and finishes the season near the top of the polls.
Thanks to its victory over Oklahoma on Saturday afternoon, don’t be surprised if TCU is that team.
While this win wasn’t pretty, Gary Patterson’s team proved that it’s a contender in the Big 12 – and possibly the college football championship – race.
Make no mistake about it: today’s victory was far from perfect. The Horned Frogs, which came into the game ranked sixth nationally in turnover margin (+2.0), gave the ball away three times, including two fumbles in the fourth quarter that handed the Sooners an opportunity to take the lead late in the game. They also gave up several big plays in the passing game, allowing Trevor Knight to throw for over 300 yards on just 14 completions. TCU committed killed itself with penalties, committing 14 infractions for 104 yards.
Yet, it still won the game, which speaks volumes about how good this TCU team is. Quarterback Trevone Boykin actually outplayed Knight, completing 20 of 38 passes for 318 yards and 2 TDs, while adding an additional 78 on the ground. He was especially impressive once the Sooners took the lead in the third quarter, connecting with Kolby Listenbee for 20 yards on third-and-10, then hooking up with Deante’ Gray for a 29-yard strike five plays later to knot the contest at 31.
However, the story of this game is the TCU defense. Sure, it gave up a few big plays, but the Horned Frogs actually played well against the pass, limiting Knight to just 14-of-35 passing. Patterson’s defense also came up with two huge stops late in the fourth quarter, forcing an interception to kill one scoring drive, while stuffing the Sooners on fourth-and-1 at the TCU 22-yard line.
More importantly, the defense actually produced the deciding score in this contest, taking the lead for good on a Paul Dawson pick six.
The last three paragraphs prove why the Horned Frogs are a legitimate threat to win the Big 12 title and end up in the College Football Playoff. Despite making its share of mistakes, TCU continually came up with timely plays to defeat Oklahoma – a team that many felt was the best in the country heading into this contest.
Does this make Gary Patterson’s team a player in the championship race?
Aside from Arizona’s win over Oregon, TCU’s victory over Oklahoma is as impressive as any in college football this season. Considering the depth of the Big 12, the Horned Frogs’ strength of schedule will only improve as the year progresses. As long as this team continues to a win, it will end up playing for a crystal football this season.
That’s exactly what the school had in mind when it left the Mountain West (and, unofficially, the Big East) three years ago.