From injury scares to penalties (oh, and a TCU player ejected from the field), the TCU-Iowa State matchup was not without its drama. Still, like the games prior, the Frogs came out with a 45-21 win and a 7-0 record.
But it would be a struggle from the start. Iowa State scored a touchdown on its first drive of the night, with the Cyclones converting on fourth down in the process. TCU answered with a Boykin-to-Doctson connection for a touchdown of their own to tie.
And whataya know, the bee is back! Kolby Listenbee returned after a short hiatus due to injury, catching a deep ball from Trevone Boykin to make the second touchdown of the day. By then, Boykin had already passed for more than 100 yards, and it was only about nine minutes into the first quarter. Frogs led 14-7.
But then, both teams would go back and forth. Iowa State threw in quarterback Joel Lanning in place of Sam Richardson and got a touchdown out of the drive. The score was tied 14-14.
TCU's next drive seemed like a nightmare. First, Josh Doctson found himself on the ground after catching a pass from Boykin. The following play, Kavontae Turpin fumbled just a few yards off from the goal line, recovered by Iowa State. But Turpin, too, fell in the process. As Turpin lay with his back on the floor, Iowa State fans appeared to be chanting "Cyclone Power" in the stands.
Gary Patterson's wife Kelsey, tweeted shortly after:
Iowa State's following drive off Turpin's fumble ended with a touchdown to give the Cyclones the 21-14 lead.
Doctson was taken to the locker room before TCU's offense came back on the field, with Ja'Juan Story lining up in Doctson's place. Boykin threw another deep ball to Listenbee to get into Cyclone territory.
TCU then started the second quarter with Boykin throwing a touchdown to tight end Charlie Reid. The score was tied once again.
But more blows would be on the way for the Frogs. Midway through the quarter, Denzel Johnson was ejected for targeting. Then, at the TCU 10-yard line, Iowa State fumbled and Mike Tuaua recovered. However, that led to nothing as TCU was forced to punt. Thankfully for TCU, Iowa State didn't get anywhere with that drive either.
Doctson came back later in the second half with a catch to help take the Frogs back into Cyclone-ville. With 52 seconds left until halftime, the Frogs took a timeout at 3rd and goal with two yards to go. The next few plays couldn't get a touchdown, though, and Jaden Oberkrom kicked from 23 yards out as time expired in the first half. At halftime, the Frogs led by a slim 24-21.
TCU opened the second half with a drive that ended with Kyle Hicks rushing for a touchdown to put the Frogs up 31-21.
Later, Nick Orr, who seemed to struggle all night, came charging toward Richardson and sent the ball popping out of Richardson's hands. Carraway jumped in to recover the fumble, and it was TCU's ball once again. But the offense couldn't take advantage and punted once again.
But, in time, the Frogs began to pick up the pace. By the fourth quarter, TCU had scored 31 unanswered points to lead 45-21. That score eventually closed out the night, and Boykin gave us this priceless face:
So, here are five things we learned from the game:
1. More is merrier.
Doctson's absence and Listenbee's return seemed to make Boykin more likely to target some other receivers besides just Doctson. Doctson, Listenbee and Reid each had a touchdown on the night. It would do well for Boykin to keep looking at other options, especially when scares happen, like Doctson going down.
2. Road struggles are real.
Close wins at Minnesota, Texas Tech, and Kansas State (well pretty much every away game) exposed TCU's shortcomings when the Frogs aren't in the cozy Carter. Perhaps it's not necessarily the offense, but the defense that struggles the most on the road. The Frogs just couldn't seem to make tackles and stop deep passes, and the Cyclones kept rolling along like the Big 12 teams ranked high above them.
3. Defense needs to get down to business.
If they want to defeat the Huns, you know. Of course, the defense is young and injury-laden and all that, but if you want to win a playoff game, your defense has to be just as explosive as your offense. Certainly Josh Carraway had a sack, and the team forced a few fumbles. But what the Frogs need to do is get opponents to fourth down and keep them there. Iowa State went 3-for-5 on fourth down conversions. That should be 0-for-5, really. Second half was a MAJOR improvement, but that defensive power needs to start at the beginning of the game.
4. The Heisman race "should" still be alive.
Boykin was just plain dealing all night, throwing for 436 yards and 4 touchdowns, as well as running for a touchdown of his own. It's the passing touchdowns and quarterback rushing touchdowns that get you fantasy points in the NFL.
5. The season is almost over.
Guys. We are more than halfway through the season. TCU has five games left to play before the bowl, and the Frogs still haven't faced their toughest opponents yet. In some ways, it feels like TCU is locked in a state of waiting -- until they beat a team like say, Oklahoma State at the least. The Frogs can't rest in the same confidence they had in 2014. But hey, we're 7-0. Can't complain.