Last week was a long time ago.
The TCU Horned Frogs said it. Saturday, they showed it.
Looking more like the offense and defense from the first four games of the season, 12th-ranked TCU put together a 42-9 pounding of No. 15 Oklahoma State on Saturday that left the previous week’s loss at Baylor looking like an accident.
“This team, we’re starting to get that swagger back,” running back B.J. Catalon said. “Once we get that swagger back, we’ll be a tough squad.”
It didn’t take long for the swagger to return.
The Horned Frogs scored 21 points in a span of five plays in the first quarter, allowed only three field goals and had 410 yards passing from quarterback Trevone Boykin in winning by their biggest margin in a Big 12 game, 33 points.
Questions about responding after that crushing 61-58 loss at Baylor?
For everyone, not just the Frogs themselves.
“Winning big just makes everyone else aware of us,” said Catalon, who ran for 102 yards and two touchdowns. “People are like, ‘OK, let me check the TCU score — wow, TCU won like that.’ ”
TCU won like that because it made plays in pass defense that it didn’t make, or fell just short of making, a week ago.
Cornerback Kevin White and safety Derrick Kindred had interceptions, safety Chris Hackett and cornerback Ranthony Texada each had two pass breakups, and the defense had two sacks and four hits on strong-armed quarterback Daxx Garman, who was held to a 40 percent completion rate.
“We made a conscious effort to finish this week — no slack, no plays off,” White said. “We were kind of down on ourselves a little bit after the loss because that’s not the level we play here on defense. Guys were a little down, but we definitely felt like it wasn’t the end of the world. We were going to bounce back.”
Bouncing back means the Frogs might work into the top 10 in the rankings again, and it allowed them to start thinking about the Big 12 title again. If they ever stopped.
“No, you can never stop thinking it,” said receiver Josh Doctson, who scored on pass plays of 77 and 84 yards in the first quarter and finished with 225 yards, one shy of the school record for a single game. “This conference is hard. Any week, you’re liable to get beat, and you’re liable to win. It’s an awesome conference. It’s going to be fun and exciting to see how this pans out.”
Saturday’s results bunched the conference standings. Oklahoma State, which had not lost since the season’s opening week, now has a conference loss. Baylor also took its first conference loss by falling at West Virginia, which came in with a conference loss to Oklahoma.
So TCU is one of four teams with one conference loss. They all trail Kansas Sate, which remained the only team without a conference loss after beating Oklahoma.
“Not even thinking about it,” coach Gary Patterson said, asked if the win put TCU back in the Big 12 title hunt. “I wasn’t thinking about it before. Two weeks ago, I had Oklahoma. Then I had Baylor. I had Oklahoma State, and now I have Texas Tech. If you’re not watching the scores, as close as every team is, my advice would be just try to win the game that you’re playing. Don’t worry about everything else.”
After a three-game set against three ranked teams to start the conference season, TCU can at least say it won two out of three.
“I probably would have told you I wish we could have been 3-0” in those games, Boykin said.
Patterson cautioned, “We still got a long way to go. We’re not out of the woods.”
But now Waco seems like a long time ago.
“We knew that taste in the back of our mouth and the feeling we had in the locker room after the Baylor game,” Boykin said. “We had to make a promise to ourselves and to our team that we really don’t want that anymore.”
What they wanted is what they got — the feeling that they are back on their feet.
“I feel like it sent a message around to the Big 12,” Catalon said. “But honestly, that message still doesn’t mean anything because you still have to line up against another opponent next week, and they’re still going to play you hard.
“But it feels good to be on that side of a big win.”
And to forget.