FORT WORTH, Texas — Just one week after suffering an upset loss, No. 8 TCU is sitting pretty once again and feeling good about its championship prospects.
The Horned Frogs disposed of Texas 24-7 behind a stifling defense Saturday night at Amon G. Carter Stadium to set up another heavyweight clash.
TCU (8-1) is at No 5 Oklahoma (8-1) next week with first place in the Big 12 and the conference’s upper hand in the race for the College Football Playoff on the line. The Frogs and Sooners are both 5-1 in league play.
“Next week, we’re going to have to move the football, and we’re going to have to get stops if we want to win,” TCU coach Gary Patterson said. “It will be interesting to see how it all turns out.”
Kyle Hicks ran for two touchdowns and quarterback Kenny Hill accounted for 189 yards for the Horned Frogs. Hill completed 18 of 26 passes for 146 yards and ran for another 43 yards on 12 attempts.
Offense was hard to generate for each side during a sluggish second half. TCU managed 123 yards after the break, while the Longhorns had 78 yards.
But TCU’s 17-7 lead at halftime was more than enough cushion for Patterson’s quad to bounce back from last week’s loss at Iowa State. The Horned Frogs did get a late rushing touchdown from Darius Anderson (99 yards on 18 carries) to put the game away.
“I was worried last week how our guys were going to respond,” Patterson admitted. “I was after them pretty good on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. I’m not a very good loser, and we went about our business.”
Texas (4-5, 3-3) completed a four-game stretch featuring three top 10 teams, losing all three. The Horns are in danger of posting a fourth consecutive losing season, which has only happened once (1935-38) in program history.
The 17-point margin was the biggest loss for Texas in coach Tom Herman’s first season.
“Hats off to TCU. That’s a really good football team,” Herman said. “I think it was very evident that you saw the two best defenses in our conference battle it out. From my perspective, the biggest difference was, early we gave up a couple big plays.
“We didn’t match that offensively. Then the defense settled down and had a stretch there in the first quarter all the way with a few minutes left played lights out, played well enough, played winning football.”
Texas quarterback Shane Buechele started for the second straight game with true freshman Sam Ehlinger inactive. Buechele, the starter last season and in this season’s opener, threw for 254 yards (21-44) and a touchdown, but was sacked seven times.
Lil’Jordan Humphrey had six catches for 109 yards for Texas.
The Longhorns finished with 263 yards against the Big 12’s leader in total defense and scoring defense. Texas ran for just nine yards.
“There’s a lot of things we’ve got to do better in order to give our guys a chance,” Herman said.
TCU has not allowed a touchdown in 13 of its last 16 quarters.
“The defense played lights out,” Hicks said. “It was incredible watching them out there. They did their job when we weren’t moving the ball out there. Credit to our defense, they did a heckuva job out there today.”
The Horned Frogs scored a touchdown on their opening possession, converting a fourth down along the way via pass by KaVontae Turpin off an end-around. Hicks powered it in from the 1-yard line on the ensuing play.
Hicks crossed the goal line from 14 yards out early in the second period as TCU went up 17-0.
Buechele connected with Collin Johnson on a 33-yard score midway through the quarter for the visitor’s lone score.