Despite new starting quarterback Casey Pachall leading a big fourth-quarter comeback that gave the 14th-ranked Horned Frogs a brief lead, their BCS-best streak of 25 consecutive regular-season wins ended in a season-opening 50-48 loss at Baylor on Friday night.
“I told them not to feel sorry for themselves. Our guys aren’t looking up for sympathy,” coach Gary Patterson said. “We’re not one of those kinds of programs. We’re not a program that gets moral victories. That’s not what TCU does.”
TCU allowed only 229 yards per game last season, and the most allowed in the regular season was 361 by SMU. The Bears had 360 at halftime and finished with 564. Robert Griffin threw for 359 yards and a career-best five touchdowns.
TCU had the nation’s top overall defense each of the past three seasons. Starting linebackers Tank Carder, the Rose Bowl defensive MVP, and Tanner Brock in its 4-2-5 scheme, but there are two new starters up front and some inexperience in the secondary.
They were also without four-year starting quarterback Andy Dalton, now an NFL rookie starter after winning 42 games for the Frogs. But Pachall competed 25 of 39 passes for 251 yards and four TDs, three in the fourth quarter when TCU took a 48-47 lead on Ross Evans’ 27-yard field goal with 4:27 left.
“Casey’s an animal. He doesn’t quit,” said tight end Logan Brock, who caught two TD passes. “You’ve got a lot of people outside the team who don’t understand him, but no matter what, he plays hard. He plays for his team.”
Pachall’s only interception came on his last pass, when Mike Hicks picked it off and ran the clock down to 2 seconds before Griffin’s final snap in the most anticipate Baylor season opener in a long time.
“Coming into halftime, we were down by a little bit and in the locker room, nobody was down, nobody was giving in. We all knew that we could come back,” Pachall said. “I did learn a lot going out there. Of course, it’s not what everybody expects in their first start.”
“You can’t let six balls be thrown over your head and expect to win,” Patterson said. “You’ve got to give Baylor a lot of credit. You’ve got to understand that they did a good job, Robert Griffin and their receivers getting the ball over our head.”
Baylor was 0-4 against Top 25 teams last season, when the Bears finished 7-6 with a bowl appearance for the first time since 1994. Their last win over a ranked team was a double-overtime victory over No. 16 Texas A&M in 2004.
Baylor built a 40-23 lead when Griffin appeared to underthrow Lanear Sampson streaking down the left sideline. But cornerback Greg McCoy, who had some big kickoff returns for the Frogs, misplayed the ball and Sampson caught it for a 64-yard touchdown.
The Frogs drove 80 yards on 14 plays before Pachall threw a 1-yarder to Logan Brock. Skye Dawson’s 30-yard punt return and a 15-yard penalty then set TCU up at the 12 before Pachall had a 9-yard TD throw to Boyce and they then connected for a 2-point conversion.
During one span in the first half, there were scores on six consecutive possessions – three touchdowns by Baylor and two touchdowns and a field goal for TCU. Griffin threw TD passes of 35 and 27 yards to Wright during that span, and Pachall had a 23-yarder to Brock.
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