AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — TCU took the field on Thanksgiving night determined to send a message to the rest of college football.
The sixth-ranked Horned Frogs delivered one with a 48-10 romp over Texas, and the tens of thousands of their fans who stuck around to the end will be happy to keep chanting “T-C-U!” to anyone who may have missed it.
Are you listening, College Football Playoff committee?
Trevone Boykin passed for two touchdowns and ran for another, and TCU’s defense dominated the Longhorns and quarterback Tyrone Swoopes, sending Texas to one of the worst home losses in program history.
The win kept the Horned Frogs (10-1, 7-1) in the hunt for their first Big 12 title. The question is whether it was impressive enough to impact the playoff standings, where they sit at No. 5, one spot out of contention for a national championship.
“You want style points? The style points tonight were defense, turnovers, doing the things you needed to do,” TCU coach Gary Patterson said.
The Horned Frogs forced six turnovers, five by Swoopes, and scored on an early fumble return and a late interception. TCU held Texas (6-6, 5-4) to 290 total yards and made the Longhorns pay for every mistake. Five of Texas’ turnovers set up 24 points for the Horned Frogs.
TCU plays Iowa State, the last-place team in the Big 12, to end the regular season on Dec. 6. The playoff pairings will be announced the next day.
“You know, this team deserves to go home and win a championship,” Patterson said. “We’ve got one more to do it, and I’m very proud of them. I’m finally going to go maybe smile once, but we’ve got to get ready to play Iowa State.”
Always an outsider, the move to the Big 12 was supposed to end the national debate over whether the Horned Frogs deserved a place among college football’s elite if they were in position to win the league. The prospect of winning the Big 12 title and still getting left out of the playoff would be a bitter pill for the Horned Frogs.
Their major problem? A 61-58 loss at Baylor in which they squandered a big fourth-quarter lead.
And the Horned Frogs left plenty of room for doubt when they struggled to beat a struggling Kansas team two weeks ago. They came to Austin facing plenty of national skepticism and a surging Texas squad that had won three straight behind one of the Big 12’s best defenses.
“If you didn’t know anything about us, you’d have thought we were a 5-7 team,” Boykin said. “They were talking about us like we hadn’t done anything. It kind of ticked us off.”
The loss leaves Texas needing to win whichever bowl it plays in to avoid a losing season in coach Charlie Strong’s first year.
“Too many turnovers,” Strong said. “You’d think the way we’ve played the last three weeks, we’d go out and play better tonight. You can’t look at 6-6 and say you’ve really made improvement.”
TCU sacked Swoopes four times. The first by Josh Carraway forced a fumble that Terrell Lathan scooped for a 40-yard touchdown return for a 13-0 lead
Texas briefly turned the momentum until Boykin connected on two big passes late in the second quarter. The first was a 38-yard throw on third down to Josh Doctson, who used his 6-foot-4 frame to out-jump Texas’ 5-9 Quandre Diggs at the Texas 6.
Three plays later, Boykin zipped a pass to David Porter, who was trailing across the back of the end zone for a 20-3 lead.
Texas, which didn’t score a third-quarter touchdown in 10 games this season, never threatened to make a game of it in the second half.
After Swoopes threw his third interception, Boykin connected with Doctson for another jump-ball pass over Diggs for a touchdown early in the fourth.
Carraway finally closed it out with a 33-yard interception return with 2:19 left.
“I’d be lying if I were to tell you we weren’t aware of style points and all that,” Doctson said.
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