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Football: TCU suffers first loss against Texas Tech since 2018

The Red Raiders defeated the Horned Frogs 35-28 as TCU reaches a new low in the 2023 season.

NCAA Football: Texas Christian at Texas Tech Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

A tumultuous 2023 season for the TCU football team continued Thursday evening, as two costly turnovers doomed the Horned Frogs in a 35-28 loss against Texas Tech in Lubbock. It’s the first defeat against the Red Raiders since 2018 for the Horned Frogs (4-5, 2-4 Big 12), who are in serious danger of not qualifying for a bowl game. Should TCU miss a bowl game, the Horned Frogs would become the first team since 2010 (Texas) to miss the postseason after reaching the National Championship. TCU will host Texas next Saturday, Nov. 11 and Baylor on Saturday. Nov. 18 before concluding the regular season at Oklahoma.

One positive from the Thursday loss was that TCU converted three red-zone drives into rushing touchdowns. It was tough sledding for running back Emani Bailey, who finished with only 57 yards on 19 carries, but the talented back scored two touchdowns to tie his season total entering Thursday’s game. Trey Sanders also added a goal-line touchdown run for the Horned Frogs, who lost to the Red Raiders despite outgaining them 435-428 and accumulating more first downs (26-22). TCU went 10-for-18 on third downs, while the Red Raiders were held to 7-for-19. Moreover, Texas Tech committed three more penalties (8-5).

But the Horned Frogs were unable to overcome two costly interceptions from freshman starter Josh Hoover, who was forced to throw 52 passes in the loss on Thursday. Hoover went 32-for-52 and totaled 353 passing yards with two interceptions including a first-half turnover that led directly to a Texas Tech touchdown drive and a second-half turnover late in the fourth quarter that sealed the win for the Red Raiders. Hoover has carried an oddly large workload in his first three starts as a Horned Frogs, throwing 153 passes for an average of 51 passes per game. TCU struggled mightily to run the football on Thursday, with the Horned Frogs accumulating only 82 rushing yards on 26 carries (3.15 yards per carry).

TCU trailed 20-7 at halftime, with Texas Tech taking the early lead behind a strong effort from star running back Tahj Brooks, who finished with 146 rushing yards and a touchdown on 31 carries. Backup quarterback Behren Morton also enjoyed his best performance of the season, completing 28-of-36 passes for 282 yards and two touchdowns. A key sequence in the game occurred during the first half, when the Horned Frogs were forced to burn one of their timeouts to properly set up a 43-yard field-goal attempt from Griffin Kell, who missed the kick wide to the right. TCU was also flagged for an illegal substitution penalty on a fourth-and-1 down after allowing a 20-yard run from Brooks on a third-and-21 play. The back-to-back mistakes allowed Texas Tech to extend its drive, which eventually led to a score.

TCU totaled 25 missed tackles in the loss on Thursday. The missed tackles are a new season-worst for the Horned Frogs, who had 19 missed tackles against both Kansas State and Colorado. Texas Tech ran 78 plays in the game, meaning the Horned Frogs on average missed one tackle on 32 percent of the Red Raider offensive snaps. For the TCU offense, 10 different players caught passes, with wide receiver Jaylon Robinson snagging five for 68 yards to lead the way. Tight end Jared Wiley caught four passes for 64 yards and Emani Bailey added five for 36 yards. Reserve tight end D’Andre Rogers filled in admirably for the injured Chase Curtis, catching three passes for 31 yards and a first-half touchdown.