The bigger they are the harder they fall. In our case, the bigger the playoff hopes, the harder it is to watch those hopes almost slip away entirely. After the Frogs took a good bludgeoning in Stillwater, I was reminded of Christopher Nolan's, The Dark Knight Rises. Here is why:
*Stop reading here if you have not seen the movie yet and want to avoid spoilers...P.S. it's been out for over 3 years now.
Act 1: The Fall
Bruce Wayne starts out as a shell of his former self, barely able to walk due to a leg injury...probably a high ankle sprain (TOO SOON), but once again he must rise to the occasion to take down a villain that is threatening Gotham. He has a couple of run-ins with some goons before he even encounters this new enemy. TCU did not face a ranked opponent until Oklahoma State. Then Bruce, despite not being at 100%, lets his confidence get the better of him as he proceeds to underestimate Bane.
When they finally meet for the first time, Batman gets taken to school and Bane executes his trap to perfection. Despite all of the injuries that the Frogs had sustained throughout the season, they always found a way to win, but when we went up against the Pokes in Stillwater we were outplayed on every front. It was painful to watch. The beat down that Batman receives here is so similar to ours in Stillwater. We made mistakes early, which they made us pay for, and yes we were able to land some punches, but they had an answer for everything. From then on it wasn't much of a contest as we watched our team get picked apart, despite their best efforts.
After Batman is clearly beaten, he refuses to give in and stands up one more time. Despite losing Josh Doctson, watching Boykin throw 4 picks, and seeing the Frogs lose by 20 points, I remained as positive as I could as I am sure many of you did as well. After all, if there was one game during November that we had to lose, I was glad that it was against Oklahoma State, knowing they still had to play against the two other really good Big 12 teams down the stretch.
As Batman stands back up, Bane mocks him, "I wonder what would break first. Your spirit or your body?" and at this point Bane has literally broken Batman's back. Within the first quarter against Kansas, Trevone gets sacked, limps off the field, and doesn't return for the rest of the game. Getting humiliated in Stillwater was a blow to the spirit, but losing our starting quarterback was the real back breaker.
Without Batman to stop Bane, Gotham falls into chaos, but the supporting cast of good guys does the best they can to put up a fight. This past Saturday, the audio was malfunctioning, the video board was not working, the crowd was clearly not into the game all four quarters, and the team did the best they could to pull out a 6 point win against the Jayhawks at home. I know a lot more factors than just losing Boykin caused that lackluster performance, but do you think that we would have survived Texas Tech and Kansas State without Boykin at the helm willing us to victory? The answer is no. I know this is bleak, but stay with me.
Act 2: Rise
After breaking the Bat, Bane throws Bruce into a prison that is near impossible to escape. This upcoming weekend, the Frogs have to journey to Norman and try to overcome a surging Sooners team in their own house. A house in which Bob Stoops has only lost 8 games since 1999, making it one of the hardest places to win in the conference. The only way to get out of this pit is to climb from the bottom to the very top. Prisoners often use the rope, which lowers prisoners down into the pit, as a safeguard in case they slip and fall or cannot make a jump. Bruce does this several times with the rope, but fails time and time again, all the while knowing that his city is suffering without him. Boykin had to watch from the sidelines as his team suffered more injuries and barely beat 0-10 Kansas.
"A team with nothing to lose is a dangerous team"
I've seen a lot of people use this quote on twitter, and the internet, when talking about TCU. While I do agree with the statement itself, I by no means accept TCU as a team with nothing to lose. A team that is still playing for a conference championship, hell maybe even a national championship still, has at least ten times the will to win when trailing against an opponent, than that of a team with nothing at stake. Without that national championship aspirations in the back of the team's mind, I doubt we would've pulled out as many wins as we had at the end of last season, as well as this season. A team with everything to lose is the most dangerous team. The Frogs aren't done yet.
The man in the cell next to Bruce reminds him that in order to push himself beyond his physical limit, he has to accept his own fear, not just the fear of death, but the fear of letting Gotham fall and not being able to do anything about it. Bruce is reminded of what kept him going in the past, and decides to once again use it as motivation to overcome the near impossible task in front of him. If the Frogs don't come out playing with the confidence of a championship caliber team, regardless of the adversity they've faced this season, then there is little hope that they'll play like one in the games to come.
Bruce makes the climb without the rope...just watch the video and see what happens. In regards to playoff hopes, let alone the hopes of winning the Big 12, TCU doesn't have a safeguard anymore. We already lost one game. If we lose another, then we can kiss both of those dreams goodbye. A nine or double digit win season is nothing to complain about, but sadly with our expectations being set so high at the start of the season, anything short of a conference championship would be seen as less than ideal. So it's come out with a win or bust this weekend, if we want to even think about the playoffs. That alone should be motivation enough for not only this team, but for us as fans to not give up hope just yet.
*Yes I just compared Norman to a prison that is a giant thousand foot hole in the ground.*
Act 3: The (Potential) Return
After doing what was thought to be a miracle, Bruce Wayne climbs out of the pit and makes it back to Gotham so that he can square off against Bane in one final fight. I'm hoping that somehow, someway, despite everything seemingly stacked against us, Boykin (who is hopefully healthy by then) and company can find a way to pull of the upset in Norman. If we lose this weekend then this part has a lot less meaning, but if both Baylor and TCU win this week, then Black Friday will be the winner take all conference title game.
With everyone around them beating up on each other, Batman and Bane inevitably make their way towards one another for the final showdown. Good vs. Evil in one final battle. Thanks to a conference schedule that was purposely back loaded, November is going to be the ugliest month for the top contenders in the Big 12. Hopefully, everyone beats up on each other and nobody remains undefeated, all the while the rematch that we have been waiting for continues to loom larger and larger on all of our calendars.
Even if both teams aren't playing for a conference championship, they'll be playing for the next best thing. Bragging rights for the entire year.
With everything on the line, Batman overcomes Bane and redeems himself for his previous defeat. Saving the city, etc. etc. Assuming Boykin, along with Doctson, are both at 100%, I can near guarantee that we will see the most fun game of the season. Oh and you better believe I'm picking the Frogs in that one. No matter what.
*At the end of this fight, like Batman, I will also be screaming, "WHERE IS IT", at our rival. At all of the Baylor trolls that ever uttered the phrase 61-58, asking them where their four favorite numbers are now.*
So there you have it. Some pretty uncanny similarities between our season so far and that movie, am I right? I'm being incredibly optimistic with the ending, but I bleed purple, so can you blame me for wanting this story to also be cliche? It's going to take the Frogs playing to near perfection for them to win out against their two biggest opponents of the season, but you know what they say...
The bigger they are the harder they fall.