Loss to Michigan State typified TCU's losses this season

TCU receiver Josh Boyce wasn't interested in discussing individual records.

Safety Sam Carter wasn't interested in extolling the greatness of Michigan State running back Le'Veon Bell.

Both were sitting on either side of TCU coach Gary Patterson at a postgame news conference after the Horned Frogs' season-ending loss late Saturday night to the Spartans, 17-16, in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Ariz.

Like a kick to TCU's gut, MSU's Dan Conroy's 47-yard field goal sailed through the uprights with a minute remaining to put the Spartans (7-6) ahead for good.

The Frogs (7-6) finished their first season in the Big 12 Conference with an agonizingly familiar slim defeat. It was their third loss in the final minute of play, which includes a triple overtime loss to Texas Tech and a 24-17 loss to Oklahoma.

And like much of the year, they'll be kicking themselves for a while over costly mistakes and missed opportunities Saturday in the Arizona desert.

"We don't feel really good right now," Patterson said. "[We feel] a little empty inside because we felt we left a lot on the field. But I'm happy for [MSU] coach [Mark] Dantonio for the simple reason I know he went through some struggles this year, too."

TCU built a 13-0 lead and seemed to have the game in control through much of the first three quarters. But the Frogs' offense came to a halt in the second half as the Spartans' fourth-ranked defense held the Frogs scoreless in the second half until the final few minutes.

By then TCU had been stunned by a Spartans comeback that saw MSU take the lead after Skye Dawson fumbled a punt, which MSU recovered at the TCU 4-yard line. Bell's 4-yard scoring run gave the Spartans a 14-13 lead with seven minutes remaining.

But the Frogs rallied and Jaden Oberkrom's 53-yard field goal -- a career-high for the freshman from Arlington Martin High School -- gave TCU a 16-14 lead with 2:42 to go.

TCU's defense, which had been spectacular for most of the night, couldn't slow the Spartans with the game on the line. MSU drove 45 yards in eight plays to set up Conroy's game-winning kick.

The Frogs' attempt at another comeback in the final minute failed to materialize after Trevone Boykin's two incompletions and two holding penalties doomed the drive. It was that kind of night for Boykin, who struggled with his accuracy, and completed 13 of 29 passes, his second-lowest completion percentage in nine starts.

But despite Boykin's passing problems, TCU was still in command and leading 13-0 thanks to the Frogs' defense, which held the Spartans to 84 total yards until they got the ball with 7:08 left in the third quarter.

That's when Connor Cook replaced quarterback Andrew Maxwell and MSU's offense began to wear down the Frogs.

After being held to 38 yards in the first half, Bell, the nation's third-leading rusher entering the game, rushed eight times for 35 yards on the drive.

His biggest play came when he pulled up after a handoff and surprised the Frogs with s 29-yard pass to TyQuan Hammock to the TCU 16. Aaron Burbridge beat linebacker Joel Hasley across the middle and scored on a 15-yard touchdown to cap the 90-yard, 14-play drive as the third quarter ended.

TCU's defense adjusted and forced two more of the Spartans' season-high 11 punts and the Frogs led 13-7 with just over seven minutes to go before MSU recovered Dawson's fumble on Mike Sadler's 55-yard punt to set up Bell's go-ahead score.

He finished with 145 yards on 32 carries.

TCU held the Spartans to season-lows in yards (227) and first downs (13), but the Frogs' offense frittered early touchdown opportunities and settled for two second-quarter field goals after getting inside the MSU 21 and 19 on consecutive drives.

Boyce caught five passes for 91 yards and broke TCU's single-season record with 66 receptions.

"Records are good to be broken, but I was coming for the win," he said. "So it really didn't matter what the record was. We lost."

Bell is the third back to rush for 100 or more yards against TCU this season.

Stefan Stevenson


Twitter: @FollowtheFrogs

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