Baylor Bears

Baylor’s playoff hopes end in soggy, overtime loss to TCU

Baylor QB Johnson takes blame for pivotal lost fumble

Baylor QB Chris Johnson says his lost fumble in the red zone that killed a potential go-ahead drive in fourth quarter "was 100 percent on me." Video by Jimmy Burch.
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Baylor QB Chris Johnson says his lost fumble in the red zone that killed a potential go-ahead drive in fourth quarter "was 100 percent on me." Video by Jimmy Burch.

So this is what happens when two of the nation’s most prolific offenses meet on a giant Slip-N-Slide while playing in a downpour: A severe cutback in yardage, compounded by an uptick in turnovers, wrapped around a 45-minute lightning delay.

The most-anticipated game on the 2015 Big 12 schedule lacked the jaw-dropping big plays of last year’s instant classic in the Baylor-TCU series. But it featured plenty of intensity, lots of runs between the tackles and much more of a punting showcase for Baylor’s Drew Galitz and TCU’s Ethan Perry than anyone could have anticipated Friday night at Amon G. Carter Stadium.

Eventually, No. 19 TCU made the defensive stop in overtime to outlast No. 7 Baylor 28-21 in double-overtime and end the Bears’ hopes of winning a third consecutive Big 12 championship. Baylor (9-2, 6-2 in Big 12) also fell out of the race to land a berth in the College Football Playoff as TCU (10-2, 7-2) scored twice in overtime to pull out the victory after a soggy, scoreless second half from two teams that combined for a 61-58 shootout in last year’s meeting in Waco.

The elements didn’t have anything to do with it. You can’t turn it over that many times and expect to win.

Baylor coach Art Briles

But Baylor coach Art Briles points to the Bears’ five turnovers, not the weather, as the deciding factor.

“The elements didn’t have anything to do with it,” he said. “You can’t turn it over that many times and expect to win.”

TCU running back Kyle Hicks talked about carrying the offensive load in a rain-soaked win over Baylor. (Video: Travis L. Brown)

In the first overtime, Baylor scored first, on a 3-yard jump pass from quarterback Chris Johnson to Devin Chafin to take a 21-14 lead. TCU answered, two plays after a pass interference penalty on Baylor, with quarterback Trevone Boykin’s 1-yard TD run to knot matters at 21-21.

In the second overtime, Boykin found KaVontae Turpin with an 8-yard TD toss to put the Frogs on top, 28-21 before cornerback Julius Lewis spilled Baylor running back Devin Chafin for no gain on a fourth-and-one play at the TCU 16-yard line.

56The number of games since Baylor went consecutive quarters without scoring, dating back to a 59-24 loss to Oklahoma State on Oct. 29, 2011.

The loss by Baylor means the Big 12 title will go to the winner of Saturday’s battle in Stillwater, Okla. between No. 3 Oklahoma (10-1, 7-1) and No. 11 Oklahoma State (10-1, 7-1). For Baylor, it marked the first time for the Bears to lose as many as two games during the regular-season slate since 2012.

How tough was it to move the ball in front of an announced crowd of 47,675? At one point, both teams were 1 of 11 on third-down conversions. Both teams entered the contest ranked among the national leaders in that department, with Baylor converting 51 percent and TCU at 49 percent.

Baylor QB Chris Johnson said adverse weather conditions were no excuse for the Bears' five-turnover performance against TCU. Video by Jimmy Burch.

Baylor lost five turnovers in regulation. TCU lost two. Baylor’s usually prolific offense went consecutive quarters without scoring a point for the first time in 56 games, dating back to a 59-24 loss to Oklahoma State on Oct. 29, 2011.

And so it went as the rain intensified throughout the second half on a saturated field. The Bears missed a chance to break a long-standing tie early in the fourth quarter after Terence Williams blocked a TCU punt, setting the Bears up at the TCU 35-yard line.

But the drive ended when TCU’s Josh Carraway stripped the ball from Johnson on a third-down pass attempt and Davion Pierson recovered at the Frogs’ 20. At the time, it stood as the Bears’ deepest penetration since Chafin scored his second touchdown of the first quarter, on the team’s second drive of the night.

Along the way, the teams squandered several potential scoring opportunities in the slippery conditions. On Baylor’s final drive, the Bears wedged out a first down after starting at their own 1-yard line with 2:10 remaining to get the game into overtime.

For the Bears, the loss was costly in terms of playoff hopes. The Bears, at No. 7 in the CFP rankings, turned heads with CFP selection committee members after last week’s 45-35 victory of previously undefeated Oklahoma State. The fact that the triumph was led by Johnson, the Bears’ third-team quarterback, registered with committee members because it showed the depth of the Bears’ team.

“It certainly had an impact because Baylor … played well in that game with the third-team quarterback. It speaks to the strength of that overall team that they could continue to perform at a high level with a third-string quarterback,” said Jeff Long, CFP selection committee chairman. “It certainly had an impact.”

But that impact was neutralized in Friday’s overtime by a TCU team that exacted revenge for last year’s 61-58 loss in Waco. Baylor closes its season Dec. 5 against Texas but will enter without any remaining playoff hopes after the loss to TCU.

TCU fans storm the field after a dramatic, double-overtime victory over Baylor on a stormy night in FW. Video by Jimmy Burch.

(Video: Travis L. Brown)

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