No, it’s not a mirage. That really just happened. After only scoring 57 in their past three games combined, the TCU Horned Frogs put up 62 points in a stadium where the visitor has only won twice, downing rival No.17 Baylor by a whopping 40 points. The Frogs snapped a two-game losing streak in the process to move 5-4 on the season, while Baylor suffered its second straight defeat of the season and it’s second in a row to Frogs.
After Baylor struck first with an 81-yard pass from quarterback Seth Russell to receiver Ishmael Zamora on the second play of the game, it never felt close. TCU would tie it up less than a minute later when quarterback Kenny Hill found receiver Taj Williams in the end-zone, and the Frogs went on to score 31 unanswered before taking 38-14 halftime lead.
The defense shined for a second week in a row, holding the top rushing offense in the conference to just 133 rushing yards on their home turf. Hill bounced back after nearly losing his starting job. And running back Kyle Hicks entered the TCU record books despite limited-practice all week. The Frogs mounted 688 yards of offense opposed to Baylor’s 415, and it was night to remember as TCU head coach Gary Patterson and his squad silenced their rival in a place where their last visit ended in tumultuous heartbreak.
“You don’t care about how you win, you just try to win” Patterson said. “That’s a good football team and there are a lot of good players over there. Any time you can come into somebody else’s stadium and win, you’re happy about it. Period.”
With that, here’s what we learned from the TCU’s eye-opening onslaught of Baylor in Waco Saturday.
The defense is officially back
Let’s set the scene before we get any further. TCU’s defense shined last week when they held Texas Tech’s fiery offense to just 17 points in regulation. But there was a lot of doubt that they could replicate that performance again in Waco the next week. Entering this game, the Bears led the Big 12 in rushing yardage. Seth Russell himself had 138 rushing yards even in Baylor’s loss to Texas last week. They had put up at least 35 points in every home game this season, and even held No. 18 Oklahoma State to just 24 points in September. Saturday, Baylor was held to just 133 rushing yards and 22 points, with Seth Russell finishing the game with negative four. The TCU defense came through on 15 of Baylor’s 20 third downs, and the dagger of the contest may very well have been cornerback Ranthony Texada’s pick six in the 2nd quarter.
“I just trusted my instincts and made a play on the ball,” Texada said. “It was a big momentum booster for us and it really gave us even more confidence than what we already had at that point in the game.”
Patterson said that Baylor’s opening touchdown on an 81 yard pass also served the unit well as a learning moment.
“They came off and I said ‘you can’t let them behind you on deep balls.’ Make them throw comebacks, and that was our whole goal. Besides two or three balls, we were able to do that today,” Patterson said.
Everything clicked for the unit, and it resulted in Baylor’s worst loss in McLane Stadium History, effectively ending the Bears’ chances at a Big 12 title as well.
Kenny Hill’s starting job is safe
Last week, the storyline was that Kenny Hill got benched after only throwing 160 yards through three quarters. No need to panic, my friends. By halftime tonight, he had already eclipsed that mark with 202 passing yards. He finished the night with 244 before Sawyer came in as the clock ran down, and while it may not seem like that much, don’t be deceived. This was a prove it game for Hill, and he by all means proved that he still does have the talent to perform on the big stage. He finished the night with 85 rushing yards, much of which came on a 40 yard run in the second half. Even with just one passing touchdown, he still managed to make the right decisions when it mattered the most, as the Frogs converted on half their 3rd downs and both of the fourth downs where the Frogs went for it.
“I knew I had to come out here and play my game and play the way that gave us a chance to win the game,” Hill said. “Last Sunday coach talked to me and told me ‘we have faith in you.’ That was all I was thinking about coming out here.”
And Hill did just that. So breathe, TCU faithful.
Kyle Hicks made history
Running back Kyle Hicks didn’t practice much this week after he tweaked his foot against Texas Tech last weekend, and what did he do? He rushed for 192 yards and recorded five touchdowns, becoming the first Frog to find the end-zone five times in a game since 2007. That’s what I call some serious grit.
“I thought about five touchdowns in a game a lot growing up, but never on a stage like that,” Hicks said. “It was just great blocking all around me, and I couldn’t have done it without that. It was just a matter of being patient and taking care of the football.”
If anything, Hicks’s dominance tonight is a testament to the character of this team, and the Frogs should hope that what we saw tonight form him inspires other players going forward.
Bowl-season just got a lot more hopeful for TCU
Many people, myself included, were skeptical of TCU getting six wins for bow eligibility with four tough games left on the season. Now that they’ve shocked us all by dominating it what should have been their toughest road game of the season, they come home for two of their final three games just needing one win to get that sixth win.
The Frogs have never lost five in a row at home since joining the Big 12. And hey, if they can obliterate Baylor in Waco, they certainly have the talent to down Oklahoma State, Texas, and Kansas State in all of their final three games.
The glory days of the Baylor TCU rivalry are behind us
Yesterday I said on radio that this might be the final competitive TCU-Baylor game that we would witness given the gloomy outlook for the Bears’ recruiting in the future. Nope. This one was about as lopsided as it gets, even with a Baylor that had power-players from the Art Briles recruiting classes like Russell, KD Cannon, Shock Linwood, and Zamora. Certainly things were not as intense entering this one without the Briles-Patterson dynamic and the usual playoff-hype around the two, but nobody thought either team would win by 40 points. Sure enough it happened, and like it or not, you have to think that lopsided games may soon become the norm for these teams, forever changing what was once one of the best rivalries in Texas. Hey, all good things must come to an end at some point, right?