John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports
“Everything was all good just a week ago…” – Jay Z
The TCU Horned Frogs were the talk of the college football world; they had just defeated conference rival the Kansas State Wildcats in convincing fashion 41-20, quarterback Trevone Boykin was in the conversation as a legitimate Heisman candidate and they were ahead of college football powerhouse Alabama Crimson Tide in the weekly College football Playoff Rankings as the No. 4 team in the nation.
But something happened on the way to Lawrence, KS to play the 3-6 Kansas Jayhawks; TCU overlooked Kansas for two and a half quarters and it almost cost them their magical season.
The Horned Frogs came into 2014 predicted to place near the bottom of the Big 12 standings after finishing 4-8 in its second season in the conference. Not only did TCU upset pre-season favorite Oklahoma in Week 4, but they are still remain in the conversation to represent the conference in the inaugural College Football Playoff six weeks later — so could you really blame the players for being a little cocky.
And even though they were about to face a team that had been outscored 180-69 in conferences losses the Jayhawks were coming off their second conference win in three season, a 34-14 victory over Iowa State. A lot of the credit has to go to interim head coach Clint Bowen who is trying to change the culture of the program and become a legitimate candidate to be the permanent coach.
Hit me with your best shot
Being able to play one of the best teams in the nation will sometimes cause a team to bring their “A-game” — even if it doesn’t have one. And that’s exactly what Kansas happened Saturday. Jayhawks junior quarterback Michael Cummings had the best game of his collegiate career as he passed for 332 yards on only 19 completions — including a 78 yard touchdown to junior Nigel King, who also eclipsed his season high in yards with 128.
The Kansas defense also had one of its better defensive games of the year and only allowed 133 rushing yards on the day, despite the Jayhawks allowing 187 yards per game in conference play — including 326 against Baylor
Other than trailing West Virginia by 13, the 10 point deficit in the third quarter was the largest lead that the Horned Frogs had to overcome on the season and that is a direct reflection of the Gary Patterson and his coaching staff… he did not panic and neither did his players.
One of those players was quarterback Trevone Boykin. Despite leading the Horned Frogs to a touchdown on the first drive of the game, the offense stalled until their next touchdown in the third quarter. Four of the next five drives resulted in no points, including two turnovers, but the junior kept his composure.
It is the same composure that allowed him to persevere through an off-season that had him preparing to be the back-up quarterback despite his success at the position in 2012. After winning the starting job in the spring, all he has done so far in 2014 is throw for 3,021 yards and 24 touchdowns, including 318 in the 37-33 upset of the Oklahoma Sooners to put himself on the Heisman hopeful list.
But if he is to remain a serious threat to winning the award, his team must continue to win. Of the last 15 Heisman Trophy winners only Robert Griffin (Baylor- 12th) and Eric Crouch (Nebraska- 7th) have won the award when their team did not finish ranked in the top 5. And while this season’s race is still undecided and you never want a bad loss to disqualify you from contention.
Where do we go from here
With Alabama defeating the No.1 ranked Mississippi State Bulldogs 25-20, many expected the Crimson Tide to bypass TCU in the rankings, but it still was not known if the Horned Frogs, like the Bulldogs, how far they would fall in the rankings.The playoff committee surprised some by not penalizing the team for the close victory and only dropped them one slot to No. 5. When you consider the remaining games for the teams ranked above them, there still is a possibility that they move back into one of the four playoff slots.
With a match-up against a suddenly competitive Texas Longhorn Program in two weeks, maybe this was the scare that TCU needed to refocus. There are no more “gimme” games left on their schedule and any team is capable of turning their dreams of a playoff berth into a nightmare season of disappointment.