LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Kansas had plenty of chances to make a statement against a high-profile team.
The defense did its part to keep things close, something that rarely happened a year ago, but a crippling lack of offensive production allowed No. 16 TCU to overcome four turnovers and a missed field goal in a 20-6 victory in its Big 12 debut on Saturday.
The Jayhawks kept the game within two possessions, but Dayne Crist was intercepted once and fumbled while heading into the end zone in the fourth quarter, along with missing several third-down throws that prevented them from capitalizing on the TCU turnovers.
“It is real frustrating because the defense played very well today, but the offense came out in the second half and didn’t do well,” said running back Tony Pierson, who had 99 yards receiving and another 35 on the ground. “The defense carried us this game.”
Even on the final drive, with the game almost certainly out of reach, Kansas coach Charlie Weis called a timeout. It was not for a desperate last play, but for a teaching moment.
He called in the whole team and told them he was impressed.
“Everyone came in here thinking you were going to get the crap kicked out of you and that didn’t turn out that way,” Weis said, relaying the message he delivered to his team. “I did admire the fact that the guys for 60 minutes they were slugging it out.”
Weis isn’t counting on this game as a moral victory, though.
“There’s no such thing,” he said. “There is nothing ever good about a loss.”
TCU quarterback Casey Pachall threw for 335 yards and two touchdowns, both of them to Brandon Carter, who finished with eight catches for 141 yards. Waymon James added 99 yards rushing as the Horned Frogs (2-0, 1-0) pushed the nation’s longest winning streak to 10 games.
Pachall also fumbled three times, however, and Matthew Tucker coughed up the ball, each time as they were trying to score. The Jayhawks (1-2, 0-1) have forced 12 turnovers already this season.
The fumbles were the only glaring blemishes in TCU’s workmanlike win, though. The offense was coldly efficient, the defense managed to hold Kansas out of the end zone, and the result was a 25th consecutive conference victory going back to its membership in the Mountain West.
“”We’re just glad to get our first Big 12 win,” said TCU coach Gary Patterson, who grew up in Rozel, Kan., and played for Kansas State before beginning his highly successful coaching career.
“We feel fortunate to get out of here with a victory.”
Not that beating up on college football’s big boys is anything new.
TCU had won 16 of its past 20 games against schools from automatic BCS-qualifying conferences, including a stretch of five straight against Big 12 schools. Among the victims have been Oklahoma, Texas Tech and Iowa State — all schools that they’ll be facing in coming weeks.
TCU certainly gave the Jayhawks every opportunity to make it a game.
The Horned Frogs effortlessly marched inside the Kansas 10 on their opening possession, only for a fumbled snap to go scooting past Pachall. The Jayhawks recovered it and drove the other way, and Ron Doherty’s field goal with 8:45 left in the first quarter gave them a 3-0 lead.
TCU marched right down field again, gaining big yardage with each play, but this time Pachall fumbled while attempting a pass and Kansas jumped on the ball.
Turns out the Jayhawks are good at giving away possessions, too.
Crist threw an interception on their first play from scrimmage, and Pachall pushed his streak to 13 straight completions to start the season when he found Carter for an 8-yard touchdown pass.
Pachall’s streak ended at 14 straight on the Horned Frogs’ next drive.
Doherty and his TCU counterpart, Jaden Oberkrom, atoned for missed field goals earlier in the second quarter by each making good before halftime. That left TCU clinging to a 10-6 lead.
Things finally unraveled for Kansas in the third quarter.
Oberkrom added a 27-yard field goal later in the third quarter, and the Horned Frogs dominated the fourth quarter — despite two more fumbles costing them points — to wrap up the victory.
“We just have to get our minds right,” Pachall said. “We know how well we can perform and that wasn’t our normal way of performing.”