After the sting goes away, which may take a while for some, TCU’s 33-31 loss at Kansas State will be remembered as one of the more entertaining games of the 2013 season. It had all the drama, big plays and bizarre moments you could want stretched out over three hours and 25 minutes.
It certainly ranks high among recent Horned Frog classics, such as TCU’s Thanksgiving win at Texas and overtime games with West Virginia and Texas Tech, all from 2012.
Trying to make sense of Saturday’s second half, with six lead changes capped with consecutive clutch field goals from both teams in the final 2:13, felt impossible moments after the game.
But TCU coach Gary Patterson, as disappointed as he was, tried to put the loss in perspective while appreciating the excitement of what had just unfolded.
“There’s just a lot of plays,” he said wearily. “This team wanted to get back to a bowl game.
“They fought back last week [at Iowa State]. They let one slip away against West Virginia in overtime. We fought back again today. There’s a lot of fight at TCU. We just have to find a way to win them instead of losing them.”
After rallying from a 17-7 halftime deficit to take leads of 21-17 and 28-24 in the third quarter and reclaiming it again with 2:13 remaining on Jaden Oberkrom’s 56-yard field goal, K-State was able to kick the game-winner from 41 yards out with 3 seconds left on the clock.
Patterson said he was hoping to keep K-State kicker Jack Cantele’s game-winning attempt at least 41 yards out, where he had made three of five attempts this season.
“I thought if we could make him kick one over 40, we had a chance because he had not been very good outside of 42,” he said. “I probably should have played man free [defense] and should have been off the No. 1 receiver.
“There’s only one person I can blame.”
Jake Waters’ pass to Tyler Lockett on 3rd-and-14 was good for 8 yards, setting up the game-winning field goal.
The loss ends TCU’s consecutive bowl appearance streak at eight years. It’s only the second time in Patterson’s 16-year tenure that the Frogs (4-7, 2-6 Big 12) won’t qualify for a bowl.
TCU has a bye week before finishing the season against fourth-ranked Baylor (9-0, 6-0) on Nov. 30 at Amon G. Carter Stadium.
“We’re disappointed and very upset that we’re not going to a bowl, but we’re going to play as if we were going to a bowl,” quarterback Casey Pachall said.
“Our mindset isn’t going to change and we’ll come out and practice the way we need to, and in two weeks we’re going to show up on Saturday as if we’re going to a big bowl.”
It’s safe to say, without a bowl to look forward to, the best finish for TCU would be to knock off its rival to the south and potentially derail the Bears’ BCS bowl bid.
It happened at K-State. Lockett’s 35-yard kick return out of the end zone started a scoring drive for the Wildcats at the end of the first half, a tacked-on field goal that was the difference in the game. Tramaine Thompson’s 34-yard punt return to the TCU 44 helped set up KSU’s go-ahead field goal with 5:59 left.
After TCU took the lead with 2:13 remaining, Lockett’s 32-yard kickoff return was stopped only by kicker Oberkrom making the tackle. KSU kicked the game-winner two minutes later.
“Win, lose or draw, the biggest thing coming back is wanting to play well. I didn’t want to beat Kansas State for anymore than to get my team eligible. A lot of history, a lot of great friends, a lot of memories back here.” — TCU coach Gary Patterson on returning to his alma mater as a coach for the first time since 1984.