No. 5 TCU escapes upset bid, awaits playoff fate
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Gary Patterson insisted TCU wasn’t after any style points from the college football playoff selection committee on Saturday. All the Horned Frogs wanted was a win.
They got that. They didn’t get much else.
After spending most of a frigid afternoon trailing perennial Big 12 cellar-dweller Kansas, the Horned Frogs needed a spirited second-half comeback to squeeze out a 34-30 victory. And while it kept them in contention for the four-team playoff, it may have knocked them out for now.
The new rankings will be released Tuesday night.
“I can’t control any of that,” said Patterson, whose team only has Texas and Iowa State left on the schedule. “The best thing for us is to win out, be 11-1, be (Big 12) co-champion, and then we’ll let the chips fall where they do. There’s still a lot of football left to play.”
The remaining schedule is both good and bad — good in that the Horned Frogs face two teams they’ll be favored to beat, bad in that it doesn’t give them another shot at a marquee win.
That’s why nobody could blame the fifth-ranked Horned Frogs (9-1, 6-1, No. 4 CFP) for piling up those style points. After all, a blowout win over a team such as Kansas tends to look a whole lot more impressive than scuffling to a lackluster victory.
“We have no control on what the playoff committee has to say,” TCU wide receiver Ty Slanina said. “I think their decision is going to come out right.”
Already, its decisions have generated some controversy. The Horned Frogs were fourth in the committee’s rankings a week ago, three spots ahead of Baylor, the only team to beat them.
Baylor was off this week, but still has games remaining against Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and No. 13 Kansas State. The game against the Wildcats to cap the season could loom large, too, given that both are part of a three-way logjam with TCU atop the league standings.
It’s a tougher remaining schedule than the Horned Frogs, offering more chances to impress.
“I’m not worried about it all,” TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin said. “Our main goal is to win a Big 12 championship. This is the first year of the playoffs and if we get in, that’s great, and if we don’t, it’s not really up to us, it’s up to the committee, and there is nothing that we can really control. The only thing we can control is winning games.”
The Horned Frogs at least did that on Saturday.
After every bounce seemed to go the Jayhawks’ way, TCU found itself in a 27-17 hole in the third quarter. But running back Aaron Green, filling in admirably for B.J. Catalon, raced 24 yards for a touchdown to give the Horned Frogs life, and Cameron Echols-Luper returned a punt 69 yards for a go-ahead touchdown that finally allowed their sideline to exhale.
Jaden Oberkrom’s field goal early in the fourth quarter made it 34-27, and the TCU defense did just enough the rest of the way to fend off what could have been a monumental upset.
“They’re a well-coached team, great schemes, great players,” interim Kansas coach Clint Bowen said. “They do it all well.”
Boykin finished with 330 yards passing, giving him 3,021 yards for the season and breaking Casey Pachall’s school record. Boykin also broke the school record for total offense with 3,586 yards, blowing past current Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton’s mark.
Green ran for 128 yards, this third 100-yard performance in the past four games. Chris Hackett had his Big 12-leading sixth interception. Echols-Luper’s punt return for a touchdown was the first by the Horned Frogs since Deante’ Gray’s against Grambling in 2012.
So, there were indeed plenty of highlights against the Jayhawks.
Even if the overall performance was rather rough.
“If we are going to be the No. 4-ranked team, then we need to play like it,” Slanina said. “We are just going to have to continue to put points on the board and play our type of football. I think we played a great game and we won and that is all that matters. We can play UT (Texas) and show we are one of the top teams in the country there.”