In its New Year’s Six bowl appearance, TCU wanted to re-establish its reputation on defense as much as showcase its playoff quality.
Matched at the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl against one of the SEC’s top defenses, the No. 6 Horned Frogs dominated No. 9 Ole Miss. TCU allowed just 10 first downs, nine yards rushing, 120 yards passing and forced four turnovers in the 42-3 victory.
“One thing you guys are forgetting,” coach Gary Patterson told reporters at the postgame news conference. “We ended up being the No. 2 defense in the Big 12, No. 1 rushing, No. 1 in third downs, getting them off the field. It wasn’t like it was just a bunch of ‘hey-yous.’”
Ole Miss entered with the nation’s top scoring defense, allowing 13.8 points per game, to match against TCU’s high-octane attack.
“Our offense is explosive, but we had to come out and show what our defense is like,” safety Sam Carter said. “All week, everybody was talking about our offense. Nobody gave our defense any credit.
“We wanted to come out and make sure they didn’t score any points. I’m a little upset they got 3.”
Linebacker Marcus Mallet, who led the team with 10 tackles and forced and recovered a fumble on a sack, said: “We talked about the Ole Miss defense often, and it means a lot to get a win against an SEC team because some said we were too small.”
Quarterback Trevone Boykin said he had never seen the defense “fly around like that.”
“We had a lot of fun out there as a team,” he said. “We did exactly what I thought we were going to do. It was great to see us play defense like we did on this big of a stage.
“What a great way to end the season.”
Defensive end James McFarland’s interception in the end zone, which put TCU ahead 28-0, impressed his teammates.
But Patterson couldn’t resist a one-liner after the game.
“First one ever,” he said, and laughed with the game’s defensive MVP on the other side of the table.
Boykin laughed, too, and said, “It was crazy.”
Reminded of the play in the locker room, defensive tackle Chucky Hunter said: “It was amazing. But he always seems to make big plays like that.”
Carter said: “That’s amazing. For him to look for that ball, it’s just awareness as a defensive end. That’s the reason he won defensive MVP. I’m proud of him. I’m happy for him.”
McFarland, who had six sacks and forced three fumbles in the regular season, said he was in the right place at the right time.
“If it wasn’t for everybody else putting pressure on him, I would have never had the opportunity to catch it,” he said.
The double-pass touchdown from Boykin to Kolby Listenbee to Aaron Green worked in practice against their own defense, so the Frogs figured it would work in a game.
“It worked just exactly against us the way it worked against them,” Patterson said. “It was a touchdown.”
The offense unveiled it during the anything-goes part of practice.
“We have a thing called ‘Purple Ball’ that’s like the second period of practice, where it’s the 1’s versus the 1’s, call anything you want to,” Patterson said. “I think they felt good about it.”
Ole Miss reaction
The speed of the TCU offense impressed the Ole Miss defenders.
“It’s crazy; I thought Texas A&M was a fast offense,” senior linebacker Serderius Bryant told the Jackson, Miss., Clarion-Ledger.
The trick play also made an impression.
“I was like, ‘What’s going on?’” defensive end Robert Nkemdiche said. “As a D-lineman, when they throw a screen and they cut, it’s like, ‘What can I do to affect that play?’ I couldn’t affect it like I wanted to, and it was frustrating.”
One Big 12
Patterson, impressed by the SEC’s solidarity, said he was going to be pulling for the Big 12 during the rest of bowl season.
“You’ve got to be one family,” he said. “Listening in our press conference to how strong the SEC is about being as one, I think that’s one thing the Big 12 has to be able to do.
“I don’t think it’s the Big 12 versus the SEC, but I do believe that you have to be proud of the conference you’re in.”
Boykin said he would sit back and watch the national semifinal games with ease of mind.
“It won’t be that hard for us, knowing that we won ours,” he said.
Carlos Mendez, 817-390-7760