As a wise old football coach once said, the best defense against a good offense is a line of heavy precipitation accompanied by patches of flash flooding, especially outside the hash marks.
The 45-minute lightning delay at the start, we have to assume, was optional.
In the end, the well-soaked semblance of the TCU defense, coach Gary Patterson’s traditional pride and joy, halted the Baylor Bears’ offense in overtime and secured the Horned Frogs’ 28-21 victory.
But this much was evident at Amon G. Carter Stadium. After a year of pointing and accusing, of venom and vandalizing, of Art and Gary and of Peach Bowl boasts and 61-58s, Mother Nature put her two cents into the Baylor-TCU rivalry Friday night.
Make that two gallons, not two cents.
Steady showers — at times, intense — made a mockery of college football’s most prolific offense and TCU’s 42-points-per-game attack.
Passing turned adventurous. Running outside the ends was like surfing.
Yes, key figures were injured and absent from the lineups of both the No. 7 Bears and No. 19 Horned Frogs.
But the conditions were so inhospitable and the footing so unstable Friday night, it was a wonder that either team scored.
Neither team did, to be accurate, when conditions deteriorated even more in the third and fourth quarters.
The damp, clearly uncomfortable crowd had to thinking of what might have been.
What if all of the expected key players in this long-awaited Baylor-TCU drama had been healthy and able to play?
What if the playoff stakes had matched last year’s showdown in Waco?
What if the two coaches, the Bears’ Art Briles and the Frogs’ Gary Patterson, had been able to match wits on a dry field?
The wet crowd and the national TV audience had to settle for what global warming had dealt them.
Five turnovers, including four lost fumbles, mopped up whatever life the Bears’ No. 1-rated offense showed in the game’s first four quarters. The Frogs protected the ball better, but quarterback Trevone Boykin was visibly slowed by an ankle injury that kept him out of last week’s Oklahoma game.
With one hand tied behind their backs, therefore, and relentless rains beating a rhythm on their heads, the Bears and Frogs played a chess match of slips and punts and field position.
It wasn’t pretty, but for most of the night it was mesmerizing. Can this really be happening, you had to wonder, to these two high-octane teams?
Credit, in due part, must go to the defenses. Both sides tackled surely throughout the night. Both secondaries refused to be beaten deep.
The latter wasn’t for lack of trying. Baylor’s Chris Johnson threw 24 times, completing seven, for 62 yards. Boykin was more efficient, if not more intrepid, completing 18 of 33 for 148 yards.
Both teams, as a result, had to turn to their running games. Why Baylor didn’t stick with its ground attack — Devin Chafin, Johnny Jefferson and Shock Linwood — emerged as one of the night’s mysteries.
But Baylor will always be Baylor, and the Bears like to throw the ball. It cost them dearly at the start of the fourth quarter when the ball was knocked from Johnson’s hands at the TCU 19.
It wasn’t pretty. At times, betwixt the raindrops, you could hardly tell it was Baylor and TCU.
Mother Nature had spoken. It was weather, as it turned out, only fit for Frogs.