TCU will not go undefeated in 2017, something that most of us probably expected, but the first loss is a bit of an unexpected one, as the Frogs fell to Iowa State in Ames in a battle of Top 25 teams.
TCU was utterly inept on offense, squandering a really good defensive effort as Kenny Hill and co couldn’t put a single point on the board. A pair of red zone turnovers by Hill - one an absolutely terrible throw by Hill that was meant for KaVontae Turpin and another a fumble on a ‘why would you throw there’ play inside the five, ended the only two drives that found the red zone for the Frogs, and kept TCU from potentially tying the score.
Iowa State struck first in the game, picking on Ranthony Texada (who had a brutal game all-around Saturday), who gave up 6” to Allen Lazard, and thus, several big plays. Lazard was able to out-jump Texada in the end zone for the first strike to make it 7-0, as Kyle Kempt picked apart the secondary early and often. ISU would score again late in the second quarter, while TCU punted five straight times, or all five possessions they had in the first two quarters.
It appeared momentum might be swinging as the second half began though, with KaVontae Turpin taking the kickoff 95 yards to the house for a touchdown. An interception by Jeff Gladney later in the third gave the Frogs a chance to tie, but Hill misfired badly on an out-route meant for Turp deep in the red zone that ISU returned to the TCU 30 on the ensuing drive. The Frogs’ defense would hold though, as the Cyclones shanked a short field goal badly, but TCU would respond with three straight punts and a fumble in the end zone.
The Frogs would get the ball back one last time though, with 1:23 remaining in the game and no timeouts, but the last-ditch drive ended on a Kenny Hill interception, one thrown into a tight window that really had no shot.
It was a terrible game all the way around for TCU, who was plagued by penalties (11-104 yards), constantly behind the chains, and the victim of unimaginative and predictable play-calling, especially in short yardage situations. Hill’s three turnovers also deserve blame, but really, outside of an impressive second half by the defense, did any unit perform to their expectations?
TCU’s running game was strong - Anderson went 12 for 95 while Hicks added 80 yards on 12 carries of his own. Hill was just 12/25 for 135 yards (assuredly his worst performance of the season, and possibly his TCU career), but the wide receivers didn’t help matters by running incorrect routes on multiple occasions and adding several drops to the season tally.
ISU was held to 255 total yards, were just 3-13 on third down (the Frogs were an equally terrible 4-14), and averaged just 1.6 yards per carry. It was an exceptional performance by the Frogs’ defense, and completely wasted. Ross Blacklock and Mat Boesen had solid games (though Boesen’s offsides penalty negated a Ridwan Issahaku pick-six), and Ty Summers was everywhere with 11 tackles. Travin Howard added nine as well.
The Frogs fall to 7-1 on the year, and will likely drop towards the bottom of the top ten, if not out completely, in Tuesday’s inaugural playoff rankings. Meanwhile, Iowa State is one of the hottest teams in the country, having won their fourth straight game and their second over a team in the top four on the year. They are true contenders for the Big 12 Title, and yes these are real words that I just said.
TCU lost this game, and Iowa State won it. Congrats to the Cyclones, who out-executed, out-hustled, and out-wanted this game. They certainly earned the W. #EyesUpKeepClimbing Frog fans, we have Texas coming to town seven days from now.