The TCU Horned Frogs did get the victory over the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs 31-24, but TCU was plagued by turnovers and needed 14 fourth-quarter points by TCU and some timely defensive stops, but TCU was able to leave San Diego with an 11-win season and on their way to the Big 12. The win for TCU head coach gave him 109 for his career and tied legendary TCU head coach Dutch Meyer with 109 wins. Meyer is the only TCU coach to win a national title, and with the move to the Big 12 Patterson has more of a realistic shot to win a national title.
It looked like that TCU was overlooking Louisiana Tech as the Bulldogs were able to go toe-to-toe with TCU and were able to get some timely takeaways and the inability to convert on third downs. The first half of the game was not the most exciting as each team opened the game trading field goals and then a pair of touchdowns to go into the half tied at 10 points. The game got in such a lull that there was a diatribe between the ESPN announcers about Thursday's Las Vegas Bowl game and particularly about Kellen Moore. Some TCU folks were not happy about that.
The second half had a different story as the two teams combined for 35 points. TCU started out the third quarter by going on 11-play drive that went 55 yards and was capped by a 10-yard touchdown pass to Luke Shivers. That touchdown gave TCU a 17-10 lead and they scored the last 14 points at that point in the game.
The tide seemed to be turning when TCU forced Louisiana Tech to punt, but on that punt Brandon Carter fumbled which was recovered by Louisiana Tech on the TCU 12-yard line, setting up Hunter Lee's 2-yard touchdown run that tied the game at 17. The other was a Casey Pachall pass that was intercepted by Quinn Gile at the Louisiana Tech 37-yard line. Then three plays later, wide receiver Myles White made a very nice one-handed catch for 61 yards from Colby Cameron for a touchdown and a 24-17 lead.
TCU then went on a monster 18-play, 72-yard march that chewed up 9:21 off the clock. The Frogs converted two fourth down plays from one yard out and picked up a pass-interference call in the end zone which setup Luke Shivers' 1-yard touchdown run to tie the game at 24-24.
On the next possession for Louisiana Tech they were forced to punt on a three-and-out. TCU then went on to score the game winning touchdown on a five-play 69-yard drive. The drive was capped on a 41-yard touchdown pass from Pachall to Skye Dawson to secure victory.
Actually, Louisiana Tech had one last chance to tie the game but the Horned Frogs defense forced another three-and-out and end the game.
TCU rides out of the Mountain West and into the Big 12 with an 11-win season and winning their last eight games and things could have been different had TCU not choked away a win against the SMU Mustangs. Had they beaten SMU, TCU would have been in a BCS Bowl game. Nonetheless this was Gary Patterson's eighth 10-win season in 11 years at TCU.
Here are key stats from Wednesday's game via SB Nation's Bill Connelly:
12.5: Colby Cameron's completion percentage over the game's final 19 minutes. He completed just one of his final eight passes, turning a decent 20-for-35 passing line into a 21-for-43 festival of inefficiency. Louisiana Tech found some holes in TCU's defense early on -- as mentioned yesterday, the time to attack TCU is early, before they tighten the wrench -- and little-used Tech receiver Myles White had a lovely game (seven catches, 110 yards), but Tech needed one more nice drive and couldn't get it done.
17: Average gain of the five passes directed at TCU's No. 2 receiver, Skye Dawson. He caught four of five passes for 85 yards and reeled in the game-winning, 42-yard touchdown with under five minutes remaining. Quarterback Casey Pachall otherwise had a relatively mediocre day -- 11-for-24, 121 yards in passes not to Dawson -- but like TCU, he did just enough.
146: Rushing yards gained by the TCU trio of Ed Wesley, Waymon James and Matthew Tucker. It's a broken record at this point, but like the rest of TCU's offense, the run game was just effective enough. Here's what I said about the Louisiana Tech defense yesterday: