Entering the 2015 season, most observers thought tonight’s Baylor-TCU game would be for all of the Big 12 marbles. Instead, that honor will fall to tomorrow’s night Bedlam matchup.
In some of the wettest conditions you’ll see this side of Noah’s ark, the Horned Frogs and Bears slogged their way through a scoreless second half before two TCU overtime touchdowns to BU’s one handed the homestanding Frogs a 28-21 win in double overtime.
Both teams scored on their initial overtime possessions, TCU on Trevone Boykin‘s one-yard touchdown run and BU on Devin Chafin‘s four-yard touchdown reception from first-time quarterback starter Chris Johnson; that was the Bears first completed pass since the first half. Boykin’s eight-yard touchdown pass to Kavontae Turpin in the second overtime, with the defense turning out the biggest stop of the game on the Bears second overtime possession. On a fourth-and-1 from the 16-yard line, Chafin was stuffed for no gain as the rain-soaked TCU faithful stormed the field.
The story of the game for nearly 60 minutes, though, was the weather.
21 of the points in this game were scored prior to the heavens opening and a downpour of Biblical proportions commenced for essentially the last three-and-a-half quarters, with the other seven in regulation coming on a fumble return for a touchdown. The last offensive points prior to overtime were scored with 7:28 left in the first quarter; the last non-overtime points were scored with 12:55 remaining in the second.
If you were unable to watch, there’s one statistic that sums up just how borderline unplayable the conditions in this game were: 210. That’s the number of passing yards for which both teams combined to throw. The Horned Frogs came into the game averaging 363.5 yards per game, fifth in the country, while the Bears were 14th at 350.7. Or how about this: the teams combined for nearly as many turnovers (seven) as third downs converted (eight, on 38 tries).
Or this: There were a combined 23 punts, which were only slightly trumped by 25 pass completions. Johnson accounted for just seven completions — on 24 attempts — for 62 yards, the lowest aerial output of the Art Briles era in Waco.
It was a night fit for neither man nor beast, but in the end it was the Horned Frogs that made just enough plays to knock the Bears out of not only Big 12 but playoff contention as well.
With the loss, BU joins TCU as being officially eliminated from the Big 12 title race. Instead, the winner of tomorrow night’s Oklahoma-Oklahoma State matchup will be crowned conference champions.
In the end, there’ll be no June Jones reunion on the islands.
A short time after reports surfaced that the former head coach was one of five finalists for the job, Hawaii announced that one of the other former players up for the job, Nick Rolovich, has instead landed the job. Rolovich, who played quarterback for Jones during his time with the Rainbow Warriors, spent the past four seasons as the offensive coordinator at Nevada.
This will be Rolovich’s first job as head coach.
“I’m pleased to welcome back Nick Rolovich to the UH ‘ohana,” athletic director David Matlin said in a statement. “Nick is a Warrior at heart and someone I know our fans will support. He understands what it means to be a Warrior having played and coached here and what affect a winning program has with this community. I have no doubt we picked the right man for this job. The future is bright for Hawai‘i football.”
“Being raised a Warrior, there is a great sense of excitement and responsibility about bringing back a winning tradition to Hawai‘i football,” Rolovich said. “I can’t wait to get started. I’m honored to be selected to run this program which has made me into the man I am today.”
Not only was Rolovich a player at UH, but he was also an assistant there from 2008-11, serving as the team’s primary play-caller before moving on to Nevada. Rolovich’s final game as Nevada’s coordinator will be tomorrow night against San Diego State as he will not be with the Wolf Pack for their bowl game.
“Both Nick and UH have been transparent throughout the whole process and I appreciated that very much,” Nevada head coach Brian Polian said in his statement. “I am confident that his candidacy did not affect our preparation for SDSU. We will handle any decisions regarding the staff internally and make those decisions known when the time is appropriate.”
In addition to Rolovich and Jones, former Army head coach Rich Ellerson, current UH football analyst Rich Miano and Tulsa co-defensive coordinator Brian Norwood were reportedly finalists.
With Rolovich’s hiring, there are now a dozen openings for head coach at the FBS level. 10 of those openings are with Power Five programs.
Last year’s Baylor-TCU game was a wild 61-58 affair won by the Bears. Through two quarters of play in this year’s edition of the rivalry, and thanks in very large part to the weather, it doesn’t appear that a repeat is in order.
In a game delayed nearly 50 minutes because of lightning in the Fort Worth area and that’s currently being played in a steady downpour, the No. 7 Bears and No. 19 Horned Frogs slipped and slogged — and fumbled and intercepted and muffed — their way to a 14-all tie at halftime. BU turned the ball over three times — the trifecta of a fumble, interception and muffed punt — while TCU had one interception and one fumble. In last year’s game, which TCU was winning 31-27 at the half, the Bears had three turnovers while the Horned Frogs turned it over just once.
It actually looked as if a repeat of last year was in order as the Bears scored on their first two possessions and the Horned Frogs their first halfway through the opening quarter. However, as the rain increased, the offensive production predictably decreased as just seven points were scored on the remaining 14 possessions of the half — and those came courtesy of a defensive score.
Even the return of Trevone Boykin couldn’t help the Horned Frogs get past the weather. After missing the Week 12 loss to Oklahoma because of a sprained ankle, Boykin, playing on a heavily-taped joint, was back under center for the Frogs, completing 7-of-15 passes for 97 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
Boykin’s counterpart, QB-turned-WR-turned-QB Chris Johnson, was making his first start, and in a driving rainstorm on the road no less. He was responsible for two of the turnovers, an interception and a fumble that was returned for a touchdown, and passed for a meager 50 yards as the Bears attempted just 12 passes.
Devin Chafin was the offensive “star” of the game for both sides. While the Bears back had just eight yards rushing, he accounted for both BU touchdowns.
Earlier this month, former Hawaii head coach June Jones would indeed apply for the opening with the Rainbow Warriors. Three weeks later, not surprisingly, Jones is decidedly in the mix.
Citing sources familiar with the process, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser is reporting that Jones is one of five coaches who have interviewed for the job. In addition to Jones, the others who were given one-hour interviews were former Army head coach Rich Ellerson, current UH football analyst Rich Miano, Tulsa co-defensive coordinator Brian Norwood and current Nevada offensive coordinator Nick Rolovich. All four of those candidates, as well as Jones, played their college football for the Rainbow Warriors.
The Star-Advertiser writes that “[b]arring a late addition, they would be the only finalists interviewed by athletic director David Matlin and his advisory panel.”
The 62-year-old Jones, of course, was the head coach at Hawaii for nearly a decade and led the Rainbow Warriors to its winningest stretch in the program’s history.
From 1999-2007, UH went 76-41 under Jones. Prior to Jones’ arrival, the Rainbow Warriors won nine or more games four times and 10-plus once the previous 28 years; in Jones’ nine seasons, they won nine-plus six times and 10-plus in three seasons. The pinnacle of his career at the island school was his last season as he led UH to a 12-1 record and a Sugar Bowl appearance in 2007.
He left for SMU in January of the following year and went 36-43 with the Mustangs before abruptly resigning two games into his seventh season at the school in 2014.