I asserted last week that I didn’t care about this game. I didn’t. But. I watched regardless and was satisfied by the resulting bloodbath. In a last-minute schedule addition, it was decided to add the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs to the Frogs’ slate to give our purple boys a 10th game and subsequent sixth win for the season. Normally, these types of games — a power squad hosting a group-of-five team —are played in the first weeks of the season so prominent schools can fine-tune chemistry and playcalling before their conference contests, but, in COVIDworld, we’re doing things in reverse.
The first Frog drives didn’t inspire confidence from the TCU offensive unit. Blessed with fantastic field position thanks to a bumbling La Tech special teams unit, quarterback Max Duggan (#15) and company strove to within spitting distance of a touchdown, twice. The Froggers were stopped on fourth down and short their first trip and settled for a Griffin Kell (#39) field goal the second. Then the dam broke, as TCU scored touchdowns on six consecutive offensive drives stretching well into the third quarter. Offensive coordinator Sonny Cumbie’s unit required their punter only twice Saturday night. Freshman running backs Kendre Miller (#33) and Zach Evans (#6) combined for 266 rushing yards and four touchdowns. Duggan ran for one touchdown, and his new favorite receiver Quentin Johnston (#1) caught and rushed for two more. Three froshes and a sophomore combining for seven scores, even against a cupcake, ain’t bad.
Patterson’s defensive unit was similarly overwhelming for the Bulldogs, allowing only 244 total yards and forcing three turnovers. The Bulldogs didn’t scratch the zero from their scoreboard until midway through the third quarter when they kicked a field goal, and they didn’t locate the end zone until the fourth during garbage time. The final score of 52-10 served an uplifting punctuation for a season that started as poorly as any in Patterson’s tenure.
Bottom line, as much as we — or, maybe just me, take your pick — bitched and moaned about the Frogs this season, the results were above average, controlling for the youth of the team, their front-loaded schedule, and injuries to the secondary. Patterson led his team to victory in four of their final five games. Beating Texas and Oklahoma State were surprising wins for this crew. We may never really know how good West Virginia was as they won all of their home games and lost every road game while never getting to face Oklahoma as their matchup this week in Morgantown was canceled. The Mountaineers and Sooners whipped the boys in purple — neither game was winnable considering the volatile nature of TCU’s passing attack and exploitable holes in the defense. The worst loss of this year turns out to be against Kansas State, a team that despite early success fell apart down the stretch. The Frogs’ one-touchdown loss to the Wildcats lent to our early frustration because it sucks losing against a less-talented squad and sucks even worse dropping three of the first four games. Patterson’s boys also endured a front-loaded schedule lacking warmup games like La Tech. Losing to conference leader Iowa State by a field goal in the opening week doesn’t feel as egregious after seeing the Cyclones’ body of work. I don’t know how the Frogs would have fared in a “normal” season. No one really does, and if any season is deserving of an asterisk when all is said and done, it would be this one.
Little happened in Big 12 football last weekend. The Frogs whipped the Bulldogs, and the Cowboys sent the Bears to an early bowl-less hibernation, 42-3. Texas’ spat with Kansas, as well as the Sooners’ dance with the Mountaineers, were both canceled. All that remains is a rematch of ISU and OU in the Big 12 championship at AT&T Stadium on Saturday morning. The Cyclones bested the Sooners by a touchdown in an upset early this season, but I heartily suspect Oklahoma have found their stride —they, like the Frogs, fell to Kansas State early in the season — and will avenge the loss to take the conference crown for their sixth-consecutive reign as the one true champion of a league so good no one finished with fewer than two losses. The crimson and cream have dominated our group since Baylor and TCU split the title in 2014. Saturday will be, in essence, the culmination of the Big 12 season. No pundit anywhere has a path for either the Sooners or the Cyclones to shimmy their way into the playoff conversation. ESPN projects our Frogs to accept a bid to the AutoZone Liberty Bowl in Memphis on New Year’s Eve. It would be Patterson and his Frogs’ third trip. Their likely opponent, either Tennessee or South Carolina, has been redefining what it means to suck in the SEC East.
Don’t expect any notable changes within the coaching staff in the offseason. It wasn’t a normal year, and coaches won’t be evaluated as if it were. Despite our avalanche of rushing yards in the back half of games, I’d still prefer wholesale offensive staff changes, but they won’t happen, at least not for another year at minimum. In many ways, these seasons are as encouraging as they are crushing. TCU won enough games to argue they should stay the course, but overarching problems from previous seasons are still unresolved. Fans will be forced to lie in wait and be thankful we haven’t fallen as far as others during a season that probably shouldn’t have been played at all.