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Football: TCU keeps bowl hopes alive with dominant win over Baylor

The Horned Frogs cruised over the Bears 42-17 in the newly-dubbed “Bluebonnet Battle” on Saturday.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 18 Baylor at TCU Photo by Chris Leduc/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The TCU football team celebrated its Senior Day with a strong performance against Baylor, trouncing the Bears 42-17 in the final home game of the season. Redshirt freshman Josh Hoover enjoyed one of his best outings of the season for the Horned Frogs, throwing for 412 yards and two touchdowns with zero turnovers to spearhead the TCU offense. Senior tight end Jared Wiley went out with a bang, compiling a career-best 178 receiving yards and two touchdowns on seven receptions as the Horned Frogs cruised over the Bears in the newly-minted “Bluebonnet Battle” contest. TCU (5-6, 3-5 Big 12) will travel to Norman this coming week for a regular season finale against Oklahoma with bowl eligibility on the line.

Despite recording a lopsided victory, TCU struggled during the opening quarter, fumbling away its first possession inside the Baylor red zone before conceding a lengthly scoring drive to the Bears, who held a 7-0 lead after a 10-yard touchdown pass to running back Dominic Richardson. The Horned Frogs continued to gain large chunks of yardage during their second drive, which stalled inside the Baylor red zone once again, only this time, TCU failed to gain one yard on consecutive plays to turn the ball over on downs. The Horned Frogs eventually answered midway through the second quarter, scoring on a 27-yard rushing touchdown from Emani Bailey, who bounced a carry outside for the score.

A huge momentum shift for the Horned Frogs occurred late in the second quarter, when the TCU defense emerged with a big-time stop on a fourth-and-3 down inside the Horned Frog red zone. Senior linebacker Jamoi Hodge stopped Richardson for a 5-yard loss on a rushing play, forcing a turnover on downs that led directly to a TCU scoring drive, with Hoover lacing a pass to Wiley up the seam for an 81-yard touchdown. It was the longest offensive play from scrimmage this season for the Horned Frogs, who commanded a 14-10 halftime lead after Baylor’s Isaiah Hankins booted a 48-yard field goal near the end of the first half.

TCU received the second-half kickoff and extended its lead on its first drive of the second half. Faced with a third-and-25 down after an offensive pass interference penalty, Hoover and Wiley connected for a second time, with the 6-foot-7 tight end again running up the seam for a 28-yard touchdown. A 48-yard pass to tight end Drake Dabney set up a 2-yard rushing touchdown from Baylor quarterback Blake Shapen that kept the Bears within striking distance during the third quarter. But Baylor’s defense had no answers for Hoover and the TCU passing attack, which marched the offense down the field before Hoover used his legs to rush for a 3-yard touchdown after he had rushed for 22 yards earlier in the drive.

A failed fourth-down conversion attempt early in the fourth quarter moved the Baylor offense off the field and set TCU up with excellent field position. A pair of first-down passes to redshirt freshman wide receiver Major Everhart led to a 2-yard rushing touchdown by Alabama transfer Trey Sanders that helped the Horned Frogs take a 35-17 lead. Another failure on fourth down by the Bears led to points for the TCU offense, which capped off the victory with a 31-yard rushing touchdown from Bailey, who had 53 rushing yards on 16 carries in the game. The Horned Frogs were 9-for-11 on third downs, while the Bears were only 5-for-14 on third downs and 2-for-6 on fourth downs. TCU outgained Baylor 531-347.