Horned Frogs leap over Bears

Senior quarterback Seth Russell was tackled by a Texas Christian University defender on Saturday at McLane Stadium. The Bears lost, 62-22. Photo Credit: Timothy Hong | Lariat Photographer

A week after lettimg a fourth-quarter lead slip away against Texas, Baylor football fell to Big 12 rival TCU, 62-22, in the 112th meeting between the two schools. The Horned Frogs piled up 688 yards of total offense against Baylor’s defense Saturday en route to their statement win at McLane Stadium.

“A lot of credit to TCU’s kids. I thought they played really good,” said acting head coach Jim Grobe. “In this league, people we play and these teams can put points up on you in a hurry, and we certainly have to be able to play better.”

As if a lopsided loss to an in-state rival wasn’t bad enough, Baylor found itself in the midst of more distractions heading into the matchup. On Friday night, tweets were sent out by the assisting coaching staff in support of former head coach Art Briles and “#CAB” (Coach Art Briles) T-shirts appeared in the stands. Whether bogged down by the turmoil that continues to surround the program or simply unfocused, Baylor had no answer for TCU on Saturday.

“I think these last two weeks have not been good on the field. We lost a real heartbreaker at Texas, and today really played poorly,” Grobe said. “We lost to a team that themselves played really good, but it could be kind of a cleansing for us and help us put all those things out of the way and help us focus on football.”

However, the game didn’t start as bad as it ended for Baylor. On the second play of the game, senior quarterback Seth Russell hit sophomore wide receiver Ishmael Zamora sprinting down the sideline for an 81-yard touchdown, putting the Bears up 7-0 less than 30 seconds into the game.

After that play, TCU’s offense, especially the rushing attack, took over the game. Junior running back Kyle Hicks put up dominant numbers behind an offensive line that controlled the trenches against the Bears’ defense. Hicks ran for a game-high 192 yards on 26 carries and five touchdowns.

When Hicks wasn’t in control of the line of scrimmage for TCU, it was the dual threat option that junior quarterback Kenny Hill threw at the Baylor defense. Hill continued to move the chains with his ability to move outside of the pocket, giving his receivers opportunities to find gaps in the Baylor secondary, as well as taking off for first downs both on broken plays and on zone read options. Hill contributed 85 yards on 11 carries for TCU, as the Horned Frogs racked up 431 yards rushing.

“It’s real disappointing,” senior cornerback Ryan Reid said about the defense. “We played horrible, and we have to pick it up. There’s nothing else to it. Nothing to sugarcoat.”

Hill added 244 yards through the air and threw one touchdown pass, a 37-yard strike to junior wide receiver Taj Williams, that tied the game at 7-7 early in the first quarter.

Not only did the defense struggle against TCU, but the offense never found much rhythm either. The Bears seemed determined to keep the passing attack going after their opening drive, but at the expense of the rushing attack. The TCU defense held the Bears to zero yards rushing in the first quarter and a season-low 133 yards for the game. Sophomore running back Terence Williams led Baylor with 68 yards rushing and Russell scored two touchdowns, one from two yards and one from three yards. Zamora was the lone bright spot for the Bears as he finished with seven catches for 121 yards and a touchdown.

“We had a good game plan, but we didn’t do what we needed to do on our side of the ball,” Russell said. “Offensively, we sputtered. I gave them an easy touchdown with the pick six. We tried to come out and make big plays, threw a lot of balls, and we can’t do that if we want to be successful.”

TCU’s defense ultimately surrendered 415 total yards of offense to the Bears but contained Baylor’s offensive playmakers and forced them into a season-high nine punts. TCU came in as the second-rated team in the country in sacks per game, averaging just under four. They sacked Russell three times but had him under duress all game long. Russell finished 22 for 42, passing for 282 yards and a touchdown, but was intercepted once, which was returned by junior cornerback Ranthony Texada 28 yards for a touchdown.

“We didn’t execute well today. We came out firing and just kind of let off the gas a little bit,” Russell said. “I feel like a lot of it was my fault. Reading the wrong guys and stuff like that. We didn’t play well at all. TCU had it for us.”

Baylor can also look to lack of discipline as a factor in the loss. The Bears committed 11 penalties, resulting in 121 yards, including six unsportsmanlike conduct penalties.

Baylor now has to put TCU and Texas in its rear view mirror and focus on the remaining schedule ahead, as it does not get any easier for the Bears moving forward. Baylor still has to face the top two teams in the conference, Oklahoma and West Virginia, both on the road, as well as Kansas State and a Texas Tech team that averages 46 points per game.

“We can bounce back. We lost two games; we just can’t go downhill from here,” Reid said. “We just have to keep moving and keep trying to win the rest of the games.”

Baylor travels to Norman, Okla., Saturday to take on the Big 12-leading Oklahoma Sooners. Kickoff is set for 11 a.m.