Paul Abell/CFA Peach Bowl via USA TODAY Sports
After being left out of the inaugural College Football Playoff TCU had a choice to make in preparing for the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl against Ole Miss; be motivated or be disappointed — the Horned Frogs chose the former and it showed in the 42-3 dismantling of the SEC program in front of 65,706 fans at the Georgia Dome on New Years Eve.
In all three phases of the game, TCU not only showed it was the more focused team but that it was the better team — plain and simple.
Before many of the fans could settle into their seats TCU had already forced Ole Miss starting quarterback Bo Wallace into his first of three interceptions on the afternoon. Even after having weeks to prepare it still seemed as if the Rebels offense had not adjusted to life without its star receiver Laquon Treadwell. The entire afternoon Wallace — who earned the moniker “The collegiate Jay Cutler” on social media due to his questionable decision making — never seemed comfortable and the Horned Frogs took advantage:
129 total yards surrendered
9 rushing yards on 37 carries
40% completion rate allowed
3-of-15 third-down conversions
Going into the game much of the media attention was given to the Ole Miss “Land Shark” defense — which despite being on its heels all afternoon played well at times — but it was the entire TCU team that was on the attack Thursday afternoon.
The aggressive play calling was shown early when the co-offensive coordinators Doug Meacham and Sonny Cumbie called a wide receiver pass play that resulted in junior Kolbie Listenbeen connecting with junior running back Aaron Green on the second play from scrimmage for the TCU touchdown.
It was the second consecutive game that they had executed the trick play — quarterback Trevone Boykin scored on a 55 yard touchdown pass from receiver David Porter in the season finale victory over Iowa State.
Not wanting to be left out of the highlight reel, the defense did some scoring of its own when defensive end James McFarland intercepted an ill-advised Wallace pass in the end zone to make the score 28-0 — the talented junior was named Peach Bowl Defensive MVP as he had one of the top plays of the 2014 Bowl Season.
The score came on the heels of Boykin’s second interception of the game and ultimately killed any momentum that Ole Miss was trying to generate before halftime.
Despite the success of his team, Boykin did not have the game that many expected out of a player that finished 4th in the Heisman voting this year. On the day the junior completed 22-of-31 passes but for only 187 yards — his second lowest yardage output on the season. In addition to the subpar passing yards he also had three passes intercepted in the first half — the most in a game this season.
Despite the early mishaps head coach Gary Patterson kept the team together and showed why he is one of the best coaches in college football — its a testament that TCU has been able to keep him as long as it has.
With the 2014 season now in the rearview, Patterson and his staff look to build upon a successful year with a strong close to the 2015 recruiting season. According to Scout.com TCU has the 4th ranked class in the Big 12 and the 24th nationally. And despite the national recognition that the team is getting, Patterson realizes how important local recruiting is — 13 of the 22 prep stars currently committed to TCU reside in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex.
Maintaining a good relationship with local area high school coaches will be key with the arrival of Chad Morris at SMU. While the Mustangs had a disappointing 2014 season, the reputation Morris brings with him from Clemson, as well as a younger coaching staff, could entice the locals to stay even closer to home.
While the rivalry on the field may be years away from being competitive, the battle to be the premier program in the DFW is heating up between the two programs.