As rain poured down upon Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth, the remembrance of last year’s Baylor-TCU game rang loudly in everyone’s mind.
Sixty one and 58 were the two most talked about numbers in college football last season and rightfully so. The Baylor Bears and the TCU Horned Frogs had played one of the Big 12’s greatest games last season. Baylor came back in the fourth quarter to win on a last-second field goal. Fans stormed the field at McLane Stadium.
In 2015, there were new players, new conditions, a new venue. And it was a new outcome.
The No. 19 TCU Horned Frogs defeated the No. 7 Baylor Bears in double overtime, 28-21 Friday night in Fort Worth, capping off another 10-win season for TCU and ending the Bears’ hopes of a third consecutive Big 12 title.
For both teams, offense was out of the picture. Torrential downpour and sub-30 temperatures held back the two programs that have established themselves as elite offenses in the past few seasons.
“If you like games like [Friday], I guess you would think it was a good game,” said head coach Art Briles. “The two teams fought hard and I thought the two teams battled hard. The effort on both sides was extremely (good). I thought our guys played extremely hard. I think at the end of the day, turnovers were the telling tale in the game. You just can’t have that many turnovers and win a football game, especially this late in the year.”
The game was anything but enjoyable for Baylor fans. A combined seven turnovers, five of which were Baylor’s, and 21 punts were no fun to watch. Both offenses were held to under 340 yards for the first time all season.
“I think the elements had a whole lot to do with our play,” Briles said. “It’s just hard to execute in those conditions. It’s just hard to be real effective in those conditions.”
Effectiveness was certainly an absent aspect of the contest. Baylor’s third-string quarterback Chris Johnson, a sophomore, made his first career start Friday night in place of the injured freshman quarterback Jarrett Stidham.
While Johnson captivated Baylor Nation with his sensational play in the second half against Oklahoma State, the rain in Fort Worth took away what could have been another good performance for the third-string quarterback. Johnson was just seven of 24 for 62 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Johnson would also fumble twice, accounting for three of Baylor’s five total turnovers.
“I thought Chris played hard. I thought he played valiantly,” Briles said.
Johnson fumbled in the opening seconds of the fourth quarter on third down as he was about to throw a pass. Sophomore receiver KD Cannon had broken away from his defender on a double move, leaving him wide open in the end zone.
When Johnson finally saw Cannon, it was too late, as TCU’s Josh Carraway stripped the ball from behind him. The ball was recovered by TCU, and the Bears’ best chance at breaking the deadlock slipped away.
With neither team scoring in the second half, Briles said in the postgame press conference he believed a score on that drive would have sealed the deal.
“We were actually playing for a field goal,” Briles said. “We felt like we had a guy open in the end zone. It just didn’t work out.”
With the game going into overtime, both teams started the first overtime period with seven points apiece. After TCU scored on the first possession of the second overtime period, the Bears were stopped on third down with just a yard to go.
After a Baylor timeout that negated a close Johnson sneak, Johnson handed the ball off to Devin Chafin. Chafin had played well throughout the game, carrying the ball 26 times for 119 yards and two scores, but this time TCU got the better of him.
Chafin took a handoff from Johnson and was stuffed on the right side of the line, barely getting back to the line of scrimmage.
“It’s not Devin’s fault, though. He got us there, and he’s going to get us there again,” Briles said.
The scene that ensued on the field was familiar for Baylor fans, except this time they were on the other end. Amon G. Carter Stadium was covered in purple and black, as the fans that weathered the storm rushed the field after the final whistle.
TCU’s regular season is over, but Baylor still has one more regular season contest this Saturday against Texas. Should the Bears defeat the Longhorns, they will be tied for second in the conference.
“I was sad and heartbroken about [Friday’s game],” said junior receiver Corey Coleman said. “But I just told them that we still have football to play. It’s hard to win, and we’ve won a lot of football games this season. So now we just have to beat Texas and get to the Sugar Bowl.”
With the Bears holding the tiebreaker in point differential with both TCU and Oklahoma State, Baylor will go on to the Sugar Bowl with a win on Saturday.
“[Going to the Sugar Bowl] is still big for us, and that’s what we’re aiming for going into this week,” Johnson said. “We just want to go in focused and make sure we are ready to do what we do.”