TCU was without its starting quarterback and running back Saturday, but it was the Horned Frogs' typically stingy defense that failed to show up.
Iowa State burned TCU for two long scoring plays in the first quarter and then outmuscled the Horned Frogs when necessary in the second half to spoil TCU's Big 12 Conference home opener 37-23 in front of an announced crowd of 42,152 at Amon G. Carter Stadium.
It was TCU's first conference loss since 2008 -- at Utah in the Mountain West Conference -- and first home conference loss since 2007, also to Utah.
The 15th-ranked Horned Frogs (4-1, 1-1 in the Big 12) saw their nation-leading 12-game winning streak snapped as a rash of turnovers, including two in the red zone, not only kept TCU points off the board but also gift-wrapped 10 points for the Cyclones (4-1, 1-1). It was just the Cyclones' third road win over a Top 25 opponent in 33 games since 1996.
"If you look at this [stat sheet], you wouldn't know we got beat," TCU coach Gary Patterson said after glancing at the stats after game. "You've got to give all the credit to coach [Paul] Rhoads and Iowa State. They came into our house, and they beat us fair and square. Pushed us around. Losing is a disease. If you don't do something about it, it just keeps spreading. Losing has got to hurt. I'm not a very good loser."
TCU, which continues league play at Baylor (3-1, 0-1) on Saturday, lost for only the eighth time at home (58-8) since Patterson's first season in 2001.
Iowa State struck first and never trailed. Josh Lenz scored the first of his three touchdowns on the Cyclones' first possession, a 51-yard pass from Jared Barnett, who started in place of Steele Jantz. Late in the first quarter, Lenz burned TCU cornerback Kevin White with a double move and scored on a 74-yard pass from Barnett to give the Cyclones a 16-7 lead.
TCU redshirt freshman Trevone Boykin, making his first career start in place of suspended starter Casey Pachall, was intercepted three times, including on his first and last passes of the game. The back-breaker, however, came with 7:51 left in the game and the Frogs trailing by a touchdown. On second-and-8 from TCU's 31, Boykin's pass was blocked by defensive lineman David Irving, who intercepted it and rumbled 20 yards for a touchdown, giving Iowa State a decisive 14-point lead.
Boykin wasn't the only freshman getting a trial by fire. Freshman running back B.J. Catalon, seeing his most extensive playing time with Matthew Tucker sidelined because of an ankle injury, led the Frogs with 86 yards on 13 carries. But Catalon fumbled twice, once at the Iowa State 3 after an impressive 18-yard run and on the Frogs' next possession, this time at the Cyclones' 37.
"I'm sure B.J. and Trevone learned quite a bit today," Patterson said. "It's just a lack of experience."
Boykin's first pass attempt of the game, a throw into coverage down the middle of the field, was an interception that set up Iowa State's second early score, a 46-yard field goal that put the Frogs in a 10-0 hole.
Iowa State, which had been held to 33 yards rushing in the first half, came out in a hurry-up offense in the second half and drove 80 yards, including 67 on the ground, to take a 23-10 lead on Lenz's third touchdown catch of the day.
TCU answered with a touchdown run from Laderice Sanders and Jaden Oberkrom's 50-yard field goal to pull to within 23-20. But Iowa State, thanks in part to consecutive 15-yard personal fouls by TCU's defense, drove 75 yards for a touchdown, catching TCU biting on a 15-yard reverse pass to Ernst Brun from Lenz.
"[Paul Rhoads] goes on the road, and he tries extra special stuff because you have to find ways to take games," Patterson said. "But even with all that, you just can't turn the ball over."
Said TCU safety Sam Carter: "Coach says it all the time: Mistakes will catch up with you, and they caught up with us today. No one likes to lose. We just have to move on, keep our head up and get ready for next week."