After being handed their worst loss as a Big 12 team, color TCU impressed by No. 12 West Virginia.
“I’ve been here a long time,” defensive end Josh Carraway said. “There aren’t a lot of teams that have been able to whup up on TCU like that.”
No, indeed, the list is short.
The Horned Frogs’ 34-10 loss Saturday at Milan Puskar Stadium ranks as the fifth worst for coach Gary Patterson and TCU’s worst as a Big 12 team. It was one point worse than a 30-7 loss to Texas on Oct. 26, 2013. The four other losses by more than 24 points came before 2012, TCU’s first season in the Power 5 conference.
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“They’re undefeated for a reason,” TCU running back Kyle Hicks said.
TCU’s 34-10 loss at West Virginia was the fifth worst under Gary Patterson, behind a 35-point loss at Texas Tech in 2004, a 27-point loss at Louisville in 2004, a 26-point loss at Tulane in 2001 and a 25-point loss at Oklahoma in 2008.
West Virginia quarterback Skyler Howard, a senior from White Settlement Brewer High School, threw four touchdown passes, and the Mountaineers (6-0, 3-0 Big 12) held TCU to a season-low 10 points and 300 yards. Now coach Dana Holgorsen’s team figures to rise in the rankings again, and the Frogs wouldn’t argue.
“You’ve got to give West Virginia credit,” Patterson said. “They’re 6-0, and they’re doing a good job. I wish Dana good luck the rest of the year.”
The Mountaineers made their own luck from the first play against TCU.
Deante Gray was stripped on the opening kickoff, giving the Mountaineers the ball at the 17-yard line, and they scored three plays later on Howard’s pass to Daikiel Shorts.
Another TCU turnover followed, with Kenny Hill’s ninth interception of the season, and although it cost the Frogs no points when a field-goal attempt missed, the nature of the game had become clear. West Virginia was ahead to stay and wouldn’t be caught.
It just felt like they came out and they wanted it more. Which they did. In order to win games, you’ve got to want it as bad as they do, or even more.
TCU defensive end Josh Carraway
“It just felt like they came out and they wanted it more,” Carraway said. “Which they did. In order to win games, you’ve got to want it as bad as they do, or even more. Throughout the whole game, they wanted it more than us. That’s why they were able to come out and kind of have their way with us.”
TCU trailed 14-0 after Shelton Gibson’s 22-yard touchdown catch with less than six minutes gone in the first quarter.
The Frogs got back in the game with Brandon Hatfield’s 30-yard field goal and Jaelan Austin’s 11-yard touchdown catch, cutting the lead to 14-10 at 12:20 of the second quarter.
But West Virginia got the points back in five plays, and TCU sputtered on offense the rest of the way. Meanwhile, Howard engineered drives of 15 and 11 plays in the third quarter to produce a 31-10 lead to tuck the game away. Howard, a 6-foot, 210-pound senior, needed only 23 attempts to pass for 231 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions.
“That’s just part of the game, momentum swings,” Carraway said. “But we’ve been here before, so when the momentum gets swinging away, we’ve just got to find a way to get a hold of it, get it going our way. We just couldn’t do that tonight.”
4Consecutive games with a touchdown catch for sophomore receiver Jaelan Austin of South Grand Prairie. He leads the team with five touchdown catches.
TCU finished without a takeaway and had five sacks (two by intentional grounding). But the Frogs gave up a 53.3 percent conversion rate on third down (8 of 15) after coming into the game allowing 43.3 percent.
“Probably should have had seven or eight [sacks],” Patterson said. “Got out of our lanes. Didn’t do the things we needed to do. At some points in time, we played hard. We didn’t play very smart.”
Hicks finished with 103 yards on 15 carries, pacing an offense held to 300 yards. For the second consecutive game, TCU had only 18 first downs.
It was the handiwork of a West Virginia defense that allowed only 17 points at Texas Tech last week.
“They were going to drop eight, play deep and see if you had enough patience,” Patterson said. “We did at times. We moved the football doing it. But then at times, you’ve got to go make plays. We didn’t get anything over the top of them, and that means you have to drive. You can’t get penalties, you can’t get turnovers. You can’t do those kind of things on the road and try to win ballgames against a team that’s on a roll.”
An impressive roll.