Everyone said that it would be an instant classic with a whole mess of points scored. Everyone hit the nail on the head. Combined, the two high powered offenses amassed 1,357 yards and scored 107 points, while the defenses generally did everything they could to give fans on both sides a heart attack. Things looked very dark when TCU failed to score with about five minutes left in the fourth quarter. They had not been able to stop Tech's offense all game, and now the game was on the shoulders of their young and depleted defense. In true Gary Patterson fashion, they did the seemingly impossible and came up with a three and out to get the ball back with three minutes left.
After that, TCU ran the ball and the clock down to a fourth and goal, winner take all with 29 seconds left on the clock. Doctson had been TCU's rock on offense all day, and they went to him again. The ball sailed high, bouncing off of Doctson's hands, but landed in the hands of Aaron Green in the back of the end zone who got his foot down for the 55-52 lead. You can watch all of the craziness here. Tech gave it a good effort to win the game or force overtime, but with only 23 seconds and no time outs they couldn't do enough. A caught deflected pass to win the game on fourth down. Yeah, it's crazy, and yeah, it was a little lucky but Patterson summed it up perfectly:
Patterson: 'If you're going to have a special season, somebody has to make a special play.'— Carlos A. Mendez (@calexmendez) September 27, 2015
Oh yeah, it was special. And now like we have every week this year, here are the five things that we learned tonight:
1) Boykin To Doctson Is True
Boykin completed 34 of 54 passes tonight, more than half of them went to Doctson. JD had 18 catches for 267 yards and three touchdowns. Remember when Doctson had 225 receiving yards last year against OSU and missed tying the school record by one yard? Well, he broke that record tonight and then some. Every time TCU needed a big play in the passing game tonight they went to Doctson tonight and every time it worked, even if Doctson didn't actually catch the ball.
#BoykinForHeisman, meet #DoctsonForBiletnikoff
2) The Defense Needs To Work On Tackling
I know that we have a lot of young and inexperienced players on defense. I know that we are lucky that we even have enough guys to field a team right now with all of the injuries that we have had this year. I know that the defense in some way redeemed themselves by getting the crucial stop at the end of the game that allowed us to win it. I know all of this, but we can NOT miss tackles like we did today.
The problem last week was that we couldn't defend the deep ball, and we actually improved at that. I'll give Corry O'Meally credit for a great play on a deep ball that Tech challenged him with when they went for it on fourth down in TCU territory late in the first half. That stop allowed TCU to have the lead late in the second quarter when our offense had been stale for a while. But all that said, almost every big play that the Red Raiders had tonight was in some way related to poor tackling by TCU. When Tech started throwing laterals at the end, I was legitimately worried about our ability to get them on the ground and end the game. We will have to do better, but Gary knows that as well and we will.
Patterson: 'People say, you're not playing as good a defense.' We're not. But next week, I got a chance to get better.'— Carlos A. Mendez (@calexmendez) September 27, 2015
3) Lubbock's Jones Stadium Is Still One of The Most Dangerous Venues In College Football
A lot of top five teams have fallen in Lubbock since 2000. In 2002, down went #4 Texas. In 2007, they toppled #3 Oklahoma. Then Texas fell again, this time as the #1 team, in 2008. In 2012, #5 West Virginia got taken down. TCU was very close to joining that list of teams. At the end of this game, the Tech fans were going absolutely wild. That atmosphere and the energy in their stadium, alongside a gutsy performance by Mahomes, almost willed the Red Raiders to another upset. I said two years ago the last time that Tech came to Lubbock, that TCU would have a much better home field advantage if our fans had the same energy as what I saw in Lubbock. So far, we have turned it around and our student section is now something to be very proud of. Let's bring all of that energy to Fort Worth next weekend against Texas.
4) Next Man Up
At this point the injuries are getting ridiculous and we saw two more today. Ty Slanina went down after making a clutch grab on third down in the second quarter. Unfortunately, Patterson mentioned that he is likely out for the year. On the very next play Freshman Jarrison Stewart, in for Slanina, caught a pass over the middle and turned it up field for a 33 yard gain. This team has to take up ownership of the next man up mentality and plays like that make me believe that they are starting to. We also had Emanuel Porter go down and he is reportedly out for a few more weeks.
5) The Bounce of The Ball
TCU got a little lucky today at the end. The luck in this game was as back and forth as the score itself. TCU recovered a Mahomes fumble that got overturned on a questionable referee decision. Later, TCU benefited from a questionable call that gave TCU a successful two point conversion to go up 48-45 in the fourth quarter. TCU had Tech stopped a couple of times on drives and then gave the Red Raiders first downs by committing personal fouls. The momentum of the game and who was lucky and when was all over the place in this one. In the end, if you want to have a special season, you have to have some things bounce your way. So far this year, not much has. But at the end of the game today, thanks to the great football instincts of Aaron Green, TCU's luck changed. Hopefully it will stay that way for a while, maybe even a long while.
Maybe even all the way.