Beating a top-15 team will at least temporarily solve problems.
TCU defeated No. 12 Baylor last weekend and eased the pain of an overall disappointing, 4-5 record. After parting ways with longtime head coach Gary Patterson, TCU needed hope and momentum for the future.
The Horned Frogs found those things against Baylor. Only time will tell if the win was a sign of things to come or an aberration.
After all, it was a rivalry game, which teams always approach with a different intensity.
Add in the emotions associated with Patterson’s absence from the sidelines for the first time in more than 20 years and unexpected things can happen.
Interim head coach Jerry Kill just let the Horned Frogs play. Coordinators had more freedom and the players responded.
The offense put up a season-high 562 yards. Quarterback Chandler Morris stole the show in his first collegiate start, completing 29 of 41 passes for 461 yards and two touchdowns. Morris also racked up 70 rushing yards and a score on 11 carries.
A 53-yard flea flicker completion to wide receiver Quentin Johnston showed a level of creativity the offense previously lacked.
TCU’s defense held Baylor to 393 total yards and 28 points. The Bears had been averaging 465 yards and 37 points.
The Horned Frogs seem like a team with renewed life, ready to go on a roll.
Oklahoma State Next
A road test against No. 10 Oklahoma State on Saturday should show whether or not TCU actually turned a corner.
Oklahoma State boasts the Big 12’s best scoring defense (16.3 points, No. 9 nationally), total defense (277 yards), and rushing defense (86.2 yards). The Cowboys also rank 11th nationally with 30 sacks.
Linebacker Malcolm Rodriguez leads the conference with 87 tackles and has a team-high 8.5 tackles for loss.
TCU must keep Rodriguez and the rest of the Cowboys’ defense out of the backfield. That’s a tall task for an offensive line giving up almost 1.5 sacks per game.
Also, Chandler Morris will be back under center for the Horned Frogs in place of Max Duggan, who is still working through an injury. Duggan seemed to hit his stride against Oklahoma with 346 yards and four passing touchdowns. He followed that with two interceptions against West Virginia and 73 passing yards at Kansas State.
Morris looked relaxed and played with a freedom Duggan has not really shown this year. Duggan has started 27 games over three seasons, but in a season that’s about building to 2022, it’s time to learn more about Chandler Morris.
Prior to the Baylor game, TCU’s bowl prospects were all but snuffed out. Now, the light is flickering.
The Horned Frogs close out the season against Oklahoma State, Kansas and Iowa State. A 2-1 finish is possible assuming TCU truly uncovered some answers last week.