Friday October 30th, 2015

FORT WORTH, Texas — The Big 12’s warm-up is almost over. But before the contenders start clashing, one Heisman hopeful put on another show. Here are three thoughts from No. 5 TCU’s 40–10 trouncing of West Virginia.

1. Trevone Boykin could not be contained

Boykin has yet to met the certain sack he couldn’t turn into a 30-yard run or a first-down throw. TCU’s quarterback danced around West Virginia’s defense all night, keeping plays alive long enough so running lanes could open or receivers could break free of their defenders.

Boykin threw for 388 yards and three touchdowns and ran for 84 yards and another touchdown. His most impressive scoring play? Maybe the somersault into the end zone in the first quarter? Maybe the sidearm touchdown pass to Josh Doctson in the third quarter? (Boykin had to do his best Dan Quisenberry because he needed to fire the ball under the arm of an oncoming defender, who wound up crushing Boykin after he released the ball.)

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This was an excellent showcase for Boykin, but his Heisman Trophy chances will be decided in November when the schedule gets considerably tougher for the Horned Frogs. Next week, TCU visits Stillwater, where Oklahoma State—which ranks first in the nation in sacks per game (four)—will test Boykin’s escapability.

But on Thursday, even Mountaineers coach Dana Holgorsen had to give Boykin his due.

2. Mountaineers made way too many mistakes 

West Virginia might have had a chance if not for a litany of avoidable mistakes. Here’s a partial list:

• A dropped interception on TCU’s first possession.

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• A pass interference penalty on third down later in the same drive. The drive ended in a TCU touchdown. (7–0 TCU.)

• A dropped touchdown pass on West Virginia’s second possession.

• A pass interference penalty during a third-down stop on TCU’s second possession. Instead of TCU kicking a field goal, Boykin tumbled over the goal line on the next play. (14–0 TCU.)

• A dropped (likely) touchdown pass on West Virginia’s next possession.

We could keep going, because this parade of mistakes lasted most of the night. But you get the point.

3. Big 12 race finally about to heat up 

The season truly begins next week for the Big 12’s contenders. Baylor, TCU, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State will all play one another in the month of November. This decision to backload the schedule could keep the Big 12 out of the top four of the first Playoff Selection Committee ranking (released next Tuesday) because the league’s best teams haven’t faced many opponents currently near the top of the rankings. That should correct itself quickly, though. For example, TCU will have played Oklahoma State by the time the committee releases its second ranking. By the time it releases its third, Baylor and Oklahoma will have played.

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Of course, those teams had to play someone in October, and the league’s backloading of the schedule has been brutal for West Virginia. The Mountaineers played all four of the league’s top teams in this month and went 0–4. West Virginia can beat all five teams remaining on its schedule, but the Mountaineers will have to bounce back mentally from the beatings they took in October.

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