Saturday November 28th, 2015

ESPN play-by-play guy Dave Pasch said it best as the fourth quarter wound down: “Every snap has been an adventure,” Pasch cried out, a reference to horrible weather conditions in Fort Worth that led to two high-octane offenses scoring a combined 28 points in regulation. Pouring rain limited play calls, and moving the ball was nearly impossible: The final 32 drives of regulation produced zero points. But a winner finally emerged when TCU stuffed Baylor on fourth-and-one in the second overtime and the Horned Frogs emerged with a 28–21 win.

Three quick thoughts after TCU’s victory: 

1. Goodbye, Baylor playoff dreams

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What sliver of hope remained for the Bears’ playoff chances went up in smoke (got drowned?) Friday with their loss, as they are no longer in the hunt for the conference title. Now attention turns to Stillwater, Okla., where Bedlam will decide the Big 12 on Saturday night. So much for no championship game. It might not have been scheduled in the preseason, and certainly no one expected it to come down to these two teams, but Oklahoma-Oklahoma State will play for the conference trophy and, in essence, a playoff bid. More bad weather, including some “wintery mix,” is expected in Stillwater.

2. Give TCU punter Ethan Perry the game ball

As stated above, these were less-than-ideal conditions. So credit to TCU punter Ethan Perry and his Baylor counterpart Drew Galitz for persevering and keeping their teams in the game when no one could score. Perry punted 12 times with a 37.8 average, pinning Baylor inside the 20 four times, with a long of 52. Galitz, meanwhile, punted 10 times for a 40.1 average. It’s the most Galitz has been used all season; in a stunning stat for any and all Art Briles-coached teams, the Bears had more punts (10) than they did completions (seven). But Perry deserves the game ball, and probably a steak dinner, for pulling off the day’s most remarkable play. In the second half, he fumbled a punt snap, but managed to get the kick off before being flattened by Baylor’s Shawn Oakman, one of the strongest players in college football.

3. This absolutely IS a rivalry

Way back in July at Big 12 media days in Dallas, TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin was asked about the “rivalry” with Baylor. Boykin, a Heisman favorite to start the 2015 season, brushed aside the question, telling reporters that because there is no trophy, there is no rivalry. Boykin compared Baylor to SMU, saying beating or losing to SMU would mean just as much.

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Please. This game absolutely qualifies as a rivalry. If it doesn’t, it’s only because the last two seasons, as both teams rose to college football’s top tier, TCU didn’t win. (The Horned Frogs’ last victory came in 2012, when they pounded BU 49–21.) The hatred runs deep between these programs—it’s safe to say Art Briles and Gary Patterson don’t exchange holiday cards—and that was evident all game. Want proof? First, TCU fans rushed the field afterward in jubilation. Then, several fans sought out Briles, specifically to jaw in his face. (TCU safety Nick Orr appeared to confront Briles as well.)

No one did that for the Horned Frogs’ 56–37 win over SMU. And while Friday didn’t pack the scoring punch of last year’s 61–58 thriller, the fact that this went back and forth—and was stuck on no scoring for awhile—is another example of why it’s become one of the most anticipated games of the season. Given the implications the last couple seasons, maybe it’s time to get a trophy and officially deem it a rivalry. Perhaps Boykin would like to name it. 

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