TCU’s 31-6 home loss Saturday to No. 11 Oklahoma State was the Horned Frogs’ most complete, most convincingly futile effort of the roller coaster that the 2016 season has become.
The Horned Frogs (5-5, 3-4 Big 12) gave up 334 rushing yards, the most since Nov. 21 2015, when Oklahoma ran for 353 in a 30-29 win in Norman. TCU converted just 6 of 16 third down tries Saturday against Oklahoma State (9-2, 7-1).
The Cowboys defense blanked TCU for the final three quarters and picked off starting quarterback Kenny Hill twice before the junior was pulled in favor of Foster Sawyer, who finished his second game this season.
But even more glaring than the third down tries were the failed fourth-down attempts. The Horned Frogs were just 1 for 4 while trying to stay in a game that got further and further away.
The most costly miss came on fourth-and-1 from Oklahoma State’s 1-yard line with three seconds left in the first half. Running back Kyle Hicks shifted into the Wild Frog formation, took the snap and overthrew tight end Cole Hunt, who had come open in the end zone on a crossing route.
“I’m very comfortable back there. I like the play,” Hicks said. “They brought three off the edge. They picked it up, but I was a little rushed.”
That would be TCU’s best scoring chance for the rest of the game.
TCU scored on one of its three trips inside Oklahoma State’s 20-yard line. Even if TCU had capitalized on all its red zone trips, the Horned Frogs still wouldn’t have come out ahead.
That’s because Oklahoma State went 5 for 5 in red zone scoring chances.
Pick your poison
Hill’s two interceptions give him 12 for the season, the most in the Big 12 this year.
Oklahoma State had just gone up 17-6 in the third quarter when Hill threw his first. Wide receiver Jaelan Austin broke inside on a route and Hill threw to the outside. OSU cornerback Lenzy Pipkins stepped in front of the pass at the Cowboys’ 24-yard line.
His second interception came early in the fourth on a slant route intended for Jarrison Stewart but stolen by linebacker Justin Phillips.
OSU’s 12 interceptions on the season lead the Big 12. Having won seven straight Big 12 games, the Cowboys find themselves very much in the mix for the conference title.
“They’ve been on a roll, and that’s what happens to teams,” TCU coach Gary Patterson said. “Kansas State had them beat, and they found a way to win. They’ve won a couple close games, and those kind of games make you stronger. Pretty soon, you start getting a little attitude about the whole situation and you’re going. And they are.”
The Horned Frogs’ lone scoring drive was set up by a TCU punt.
TCU took an early 6-0 lead after Oklahoma State punt returner Barry Sanders Jr. muffed a punt return inside the OSU 15-yard line. The ball squirted out of his hands and TCU linebacker Paul Whitmill fell on it at Oklahoma State’s 6-yard line.
KaVontae Turpin scored on a four-yard shovel pass from Hill two plays later. It was Turpin’s first touchdown catch this year after missing four games with a knee injury in September.
The extra point attempt by Brandon Hatfield was blocked by OSU defensive tackle Vincent Taylor, who stuffed two kicks against Texas earlier this season.
“They’ve already blocked six, seven, eight field goals. We worked for two weeks,” Patterson said. “We had a young offensive lineman that didn’t step down. They pulled him one way. The other guy stepped inside. Things we said they would do. You have to be a veteran in Game 10.”
Eleven of 12 TCU drives ended in a punt or turnover.
Matthew Martinez; 817-390-7760; @MCTinez817