“We had a goal at the beginning of the season and that was the Big 12 Championship, and that is next week,” senior receiver Desmon White said. “That’s the game we have to focus on, and that’s the game we have to get ready for.”
Despite entering at No. 12 in the nation and 9-2 overall, the Frogs struggled against the 1-10 Baylor Bears. This rivalry has gained steam over the last several years, and the emotions are high no matter the records. As head coach Gary Patterson has mentioned all week, this was Baylor’s bowl game. They would give it all they had. They did.
“It was a rivalry game,” Patterson said. “They didn’t have anything to play for except that this was their bowl game, and they were very physical. You have to give Coach Rhule a lot of credit.”
As for the game, the senior day festivities ended a few minutes before kickoff. While the fans continued to file into the stadium, Baylor jumped on TCU early and they would hang around all day. Two plays after receiving the opening kickoff, quarterback Kenny Hill was sacked in the end zone for a safety to put the Bears ahead 2-0.
On the next possession, Baylor went 60 yards on two plays capped by a 54-yard touchdown pass from freshman quarterback Charlie Brewer to wide receiver Blake Lynch to extend the lead to 9-0.
TCU punted the next possession — still early in the first quarter — to give Baylor the ball ahead by nine. Two plays later, Mat Boesen forced a fumble that was recovered by Nick Orr to give TCU a short field. Senior running back Kyle Hicks eventually took advantage of the turnover with a four-yard touchdown run to get the Frogs on the board.
“We started the game a little slow, but we did good rallying back,” Hill said. “We put up 21 in the first half and should have gotten more, but we took what we could get. In the second half we came out ready to go.”
The teams traded punts over the next several possessions before TCU took the ball 78 yards in 2:23 minutes to take a 14-9 lead. KaVontae Turpin got the ball on a double-reverse for 14 yards to start the drive, followed by a 33-yard catch for Jarrison Stewart. Hill took a quarterback draw to convert on third and five in the red zone ahead of Stewart’s first touchdown grab of the season, just his fourth catch overall.
Baylor opened the second quarter with its third straight punt, followed by a 91-yard touchdown drive for the Frogs to make it 21-9. Hill went 3-4 for 60 passing yards on the drive, and Sewo Olonilua finished it off with his seventh touchdown carry of the year from 32 yards.
Just as the Frogs seemed poised to run away from the Bears, Baylor forced TCU to punt and then scored on a 50-yard touchdown pass from Brewer to Trestan Ebner to pull the Bears within five, 21-16.
After Cole Bunce missed a 45-yard field goal for the Horned Frogs, Baylor ended the half by driving into TCU territory, where Connor Martin hit a 48 yard try to make it 21-19. Brewer went 14-19 for 250 passing yards in the first half, more yards than the TCU defense has allowed per game this year.
After a lackluster first two quarters, Patterson made the necessary halftime adjustments. A different TCU defense showed up in the second half, extended its streak of touchdown-less second halves to seven straight games. Linebacker Ty Summers intercepted Brewer three plays into the half to set TCU up for a quick scoring drive capped by a 14-yard pass and catch from Hill to Desmon White to push the lead to 28-19.
Baylor answered with a short field goal from Connor Martin and then held TCU to a punt. Trailing 28-22, Baylor started driving, until Boesen brought down Brewer for his fourth sack of the game to force a Baylor punt. The senior defensive end now has a sack in six of the last seven games, and his 5.5 total sacks in the game set a new school record.
“He’s just a dude flying around and making plays,” Summers said. “He has shown that ability this entire season, and this week with the matchup that he had, he was able to expose it. He showed what he is capable of.”
That sack lit a fire under the Frogs offense. After the punt, Hill and Olonilua led the Frogs 90 yards in just over three minutes. Olonilua picked up 51 total yards on the drive, while Hill went 4-4 for 73 yards to give the Frogs a 35-22 lead through three quarters.
On the ensuing Baylor drive, a big hit on the Baylor sideline by Chris Bradley spurred a benches-clearing fight. Each player on each team was given an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. There were no ejections despite late hits and punches thrown, and the Frogs took control of the game from there on out.
“We don’t do that, and that didn’t need to happen,” Patterson said. “We can have a rivalry without us acting the way we did. We need to do better.”
The Frogs outscored Baylor 10-0 in the fourth quarter to secure the 45-22 win. Hill ran in a touchdown, and Bunce made a field goal. Baylor punted twice and Markell Simmons intercepted a pass in the final minutes to finish it off.
“We played this game like we know we can play,” Hill said. “We played like how we should have been playing and how we played early on in the season. We really just got back to us.”
TCU is set to play the Oklahoma Sooners (10-1) in the Big 12 Championship game next weekend in Arlington, Texas at AT&T Stadium.