WVU Football Series History: The TCU Horned Frogs

Daniel Woods

The West Virginia and TCU football programs have a fairly limited history but some of the most exciting games that the Mountaineers have played since joining the Big 12 have come in this series. The Horned Frogs have often been a thorn in the side of the gold and blue with Gary Patterson always putting together solid teams. With all but one game coming in conference action, this series is Big 12 heavy but has seen both fireworks and strong defense.

The opening matchup of the series between West Virginia and TCU was the 1984 Bluebonnet Bowl, played in the Houston Astrodome. The Mountaineers were led by Kevin White, a steady senior who had bided his time behind Jeff Hostetler before getting his chance. The marquee name for the Horned Frogs was All-American tailback, Kenneth Davis. However, West Virginia controlled the game from start to finish. White threw for three first-half touchdowns while Davis only tallied 19 rushing yards due to a knee injury. 

The Mountaineers never trailed and held a 31-7 lead at halftime. Larry Holley, Brad Hunt, and Bryan Dick each recorded sacks as quarterback Anthony Gulley struggled to get into a rhythm. Don Nehlen’s team proved dominant, winning 31-14.

The first conference game in the series went right down to the wire and was the first Big 12 heartbreaker for the Mountaineers. The two teams traded scores until Shawne Alston’s touchdown run gave West Virginia a 21-14 lead at the half. The second half was even more intense as TCU returned a fumble for a touchdown, Tavon Austin took a punt to the house, and Trevone Boykin hit Josh Boyce for a 94-yard score with 1:28 left in the fourth which knotted the game. The first overtime period went scoreless but the Mountaineers took the lead in the second extra frame in just one play on Geno Smith’s pass to Stedman Bailey. The Horned Frogs came within a point on the very next play with a double-reverse pass from Brandon Carter to Corey Fuller. Instead of heading to a third overtime, Patterson pulled a fast one, converting a two-point conversion as Boykin hit Boyce on a rollout to win the game, 39-38.

West Virginia’s first trip to Amon G. Carter Stadium went to overtime once again. Clint Trickett and Casey Pachall dueled throughout the day but it was Charles Sims III who made the difference. The Houston transfer ran for 154 yards and a touchdown while also catching a score to give the Mountaineers a 10-point lead. However, the Horned Frogs turned on the boosters late, scoring on Pachall’s third touchdown with just over three minutes left in regulation and tying the game with Jaden Oberkrom’s field goal with 19 ticks remaining on the clock. Penalties in overtime forced Oberkrom to attempt a 62-yard field goal that came admirably close but ultimately missed wide left. A Sims touchdown was called back for a holding penalty but Josh Lambert saved the day, nailing a 35-yard field goal to win the game, 30-27.

Just like the two previous years, the 2014 matchup was decided on the game’s final play. With ESPN’s College Gameday in Morgantown, the stakes were high as both teams entered ranked in the top 20. TCU running back B.J. Catalon would prove to be the difference, running for 105 yards and two second-half touchdowns as the Horned Frogs mustered yet another comeback against the Mountaineers. As time expired, Oberkrom redeemed himself, booting the ball 37 yards through the uprights to win the game at the gun, 31-30.

The 2015 trip to Fort Worth did not go well for West Virginia. TCU entered ranked fifth in the nation and proved just why. Boykin threw for 388 yards and three touchdowns as the Horned Frogs scored the game’s first 17 points and led 23-10 at halftime. The Mountaineer offense struggled to finish drives despite 113 yards from Wendell Smallwood. West Virginia was totally shut out in the second half as TCU scored the last 17 as well, winning the game 40-10.

2016 saw the tables get turned as West Virginia was the team that entered highly ranked and the Horned Frogs came in as the underdogs. The Mountaineers pulled off a dominant performance with Rushel Shell III running for 117 yards while Skyler Howard redeemed a weak effort from the prior year with four passing touchdowns. West Virginia never trailed in this game, winning 34-10 and getting payback for the previous year’s blowout.

The 2017 game at TCU saw the series history of tight games return to form. The Mountaineer passing offense went wild with 366 yards and three touchdowns from Will Grier. David Sills V and Ka’Raun White each broke 100 yards receiving and Gary Jennings hauled in ten passes. Kenny Hill was held under wraps for most of the game but busted loose late, throwing a 48-yard touchdown to KeVontae Turpin at the end of the third quarter and running in from three yards out for the winning score at the 2:53 mark of the fourth quarter. A controversial offensive pass interference call stalled the Mountaineers’ final drive and TCU pulled out the win, 31-24.

The prior year’s stunner turned West Virginia up for the next season and that game quickly became the biggest blowout in series history. A quiet first quarter belied an explosive second for the Mountaineers with an Evan Staley field goal, rushing touchdowns from Kennedy McKoy and Martell Pettaway, and a Trevon Wesco touchdown from Grier led to 24 unanswered points. TCU had backup quarterback Mike Collins under center and struggled offensively while the West Virginia offense diced up the Horned Frog defense. A 23-7 second half continued the domination as the Mountaineers walked away with a brutal 47-10 win over TCU.

West Virginia’s series with TCU has been an up-and-down slew of matchups with some very exciting and weird games. Going into this game, the Horned Frogs are fighting for bowl eligibility while the Mountaineers will attempt to play spoiler. With quite a bit on the line, things could get very interesting in Fort Worth on Black Friday.

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