Kyle Hicks

Associated Press

No. 16 TCU goes to Stillwater and locks up No. 6 Oklahoma State

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Oklahoma State spent its first three games blasting its opponents from the jump. Against Tulsa, South Alabama and Pittsburgh — admittedly, not exactly the toughest non-conference schedule in the game — the Cowboys held a combined 59-0 lead at the end of the first quarter en route to blowout victories.

This game was pretty much the exact opposite.

TCU controlled the ball and the pace and tone of the game from the beginning, using a massive possession advantage to lean on an overmatched Cowboys defense and survive a late challenge from a powerful Pokes offense en route to a 44-31 victory.

Actually, the first quarter looked as if TCU would spoil a great game plan and an early advantage. The Frogs ran 25 of the game’s first 33 plays but found themselves in a 7-6 hole after two drives ended in field goals and Mason Rudolph hit James Washington for an 86-yard touchdown.

But the Frogs answered, rallying for consecutive touchdown drives of 75 and 62 yards, capped by a 28-yard Darius Anderson and a 9-yard strike from Kenny Hill to John Diarse. Oklahoma State tacked on a field goal before the break, but TCU hit the locker room with a 10-point lead on the scoreboard and an 11-minute time of possession advantage.

After halftime, a rested TCU defense intercepted Rudolph in Cowboys territory and turned it into points on a 6-yard Anderson run. Oklahoma State responded with a 10-play, 78-yard touchdown march to pull within 27-17 midway through the third quarter, but TCU rumbled down the field on a 9-play, 75-yard drive in which eight of the snaps were runs and the only pass was a 43-yard strike to Jaelan AustinSewo Olonilua punched in a 1-yard plunge — which he later fumbled, but the call of touchdown was upheld upon review — to give the Frogs a 34-17 lead.

TCU (4-0, 1-0 Big 12) forced a punt on the next drive and had a chance to put the game away early in the fourth quarter, but Hill fired incomplete on a 3rd-and-7 from the OSU 14. Jonathan Song‘s third field goal of the game made the score 37-17 but preserved a comeback window for Oklahoma State with 12:03 remaining.

Oklahoma State (3-1, 0-1 Big 12) immediately notched the first of its three needed touchdowns, moving 79 yards in 2:19 and culminating in a 1-yard Rudolph keeper to pull within 37-24 with 9:44 to play. The Pokes’ defense forced a three-and-out on TCU’s next possession and its offense moved to the TCU 23, but a wide receiver pass by Jalen McCleskey was intercepted at the 5-yard line by TCU’s Nick Orr.

Nevertheless, Oklahoma State forced another three-and-out — the Frogs’ offense “gained” minus-8 yards in its first two touches after going up 37-17 — and then moved 53 yards in five plays, keyed by a 34-yard McCleskey catch — to shrink the deficit to 37-31 with 3:03 to play.

After a 42-yard kickoff return by KaVontae Turpin, Oklahoma State used both of its remaining timeouts to force a do-or-die 3rd-and-4 at the OSU 42 with 2:37 to play. A stop would’ve given Oklahoma State the ball deep in its own territory with plenty of time and a chance to win with a touchdown, and a loss would’ve allowed the Frogs to run out the clock. Neither of those outcomes happened, though, as Anderson bursted through the Pokes’ front and raced untouched for a touchdown, pushing the lead back to two touchdowns.

Anderson and the TCU offensive line dominated the game, as he carried 26 times for 160 yards and three scores. Playing without senior Kyle Hicks, TCU as a team rushed 49 times for 241 yards and four scores, while Hill hit a manageable 22-of-33 passes for 228 yards with a touchdown and an interception.

The TCU defense forced Rudolph into easily his worst game of the season. Rudolph finished the game hitting 21-of-39 throws with 398 yards and two touchdowns, but he also lost a fumble and threw two interceptions. Rudolph’s first two turnovers turned into TCU touchdowns, and his third came on a tipped pass on 4th-and-1 on Oklahoma State’s last-gasp driving trailing 44-31. Washington caught six passes for 153 yards and a score, and Justice Hill carried 25 times for 102 yards and a score.

No. 23 TCU makes a statement in stomping of Arkansas

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A vintage Southwest Conference game ended in a vintage Southwest Conference score as No. 23 TCU pounded out a 28-7 victory over Arkansas in Fayetteville. The game was the 70th meeting between the former conference bunk mates but just the second since the Razorbacks left the SWC for the SEC after the 1991 season, and the Frogs’ first trip to Fayetteville since 1988.

TCU (2-0) used a short field to get on the board first, needing only 45 yards and eight snaps to reach the end zone on a 1-yard Sewo Olonilua plunge. Arkansas (1-1) immediately answered, running the ball to midfield to set up a 49-yard snatch-and-dash from Austin Allen to Jonathan Nance for the Razorbacks’ only points of the day. 

The Frogs reclaimed the lead for good with a 15-play, 80-yard march, punctuated by a 4-yard Kyle Hicks run, at the 7:39 mark of the second quarter.

The score remained 14-7 until only 2:18 remained in the second quarter, when Darius Anderson put a cap on the game with a 14-yard scoring jaunt. After Arkansas fumbled the ensuing kickoff, Olonilua added an exclamation point, running in from 13 yards out and carrying multiple cardinal jerseys with him. As a team, TCU muscled to 195 yards and four touchdowns on 42 carries, while Hill hit 21-of-31 passes for 166 yards. 

Reminiscent of a vintage Gary Patterson defense, TCU’s defense controlled the game. The Frogs limited Arkansas to 136 yards on 30 carries while Allen was harassed throughout, completing only 9-of-22 passes for 138 yards. Outside the 49-yard score, Allen averaged 4.24 yards per pass attempt.

This isn’t to say Arkansas did not have its chances, however. Kenny Hill served up an interception in TCU territory with the game knotted at 7-7, but Arkansas’s ensuing drive stalled at the goal line and Cole Hedlund could not convert a 23-yard field goal on the first play of the second quarter.

Arkansas put together one last good possession at the close of the third quarter and beginning of the fourth, moving 78 yards in 12 plays, but again Hedlund missed a short field goal, this one from just 20 yards out.

TCU leading Arkansas at the half in Fayetteville

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In a game harkening back to the halcyon days of the Southwest Conference, TCU holds a 14-7 lead over Arkansas after a hard-hitting first half in Fayetteville.

TCU opened the game on a short field, accepting the ball on a KaVontae Turpin fair catch at the Hogs’ 35. Kenny Hill (11-of-18 for 95 yards; five carries for 19 yards) promptly led the Frogs down the field, as a 1-yard Sewo Olonilua run put TCU up 7-0 less than five minutes into the game.

Arkansas immediately answered, moving 75 yards in six plays in vintage Bret Bielema fashion: bruising runs and precision passes. David Williams ran for 21 yards on three carries, and Austin Allen found Jonathan Nance for a 49-yard catch-and-run to tie the game. The Hogs had a great chance to take the lead after Santos Ramirez intercepted a Hill pass in TCU territory, and the ensuing drive stalled near the goal line and Cole Hedlund missed a 23-yard field goal.

TCU made Arkansas pay for that mistake, moving 80 yards in 15 plays and 7:17, keyed by a 22-yard pass from Hill to Shaun Nixon and a 4-yard Kyle Hicks scoring jaunt.

The Frogs have limited Arkansas to 37 yards on 15 carries, while Allen is 5-of-10 for 107 yards with the touchdown.

TCU will receive to open the second half.

TCU’s leading rusher arrested for public intoxication

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As the 2017 offseason kicks into high gear, so have the annual and ever-present off-field issues.

According to multiple media outlets, TCU running back Kyle Hicks was arrested over the weekend on a misdemeanor charge of public intoxication.  The 22-year-old Hicks and two former Horned Frog football players, Bryson Henderson and George Baltimore, were charged after police responded to reports of a fight at a Whataburger near campus very early Saturday morning.

No further details of what led to the police being called have been released.

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram writes that “[t]he TCU athletics department said in a statement Monday night that officials are aware of the incident and looking into it.”

As a junior this past season, Hicks led TCU with 1,042 yards and 12 rushing touchdowns.  He also led the team in receptions with 47, becoming the first Horned Frog player to lead the team in both rushing and receiving since Basil Mitchell in 1996.

Hicks is expected to again be the focal point of TCU’s offense in 2017.

Kicking woes, Kenny Hill miscues doom TCU in Liberty Bowl loss to Georgia

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In a microcosm of its entire season, TCU watched an immensely winnable game slip away thanks to mistakes in the kicking game and bad decisions by quarterback Kenny Hill, as the Frogs watched a 16-7 lead turn into a 31-23 loss to Georgia in the Liberty Bowl.

After Georgia staked a 7-0 lead, TCU took control of the contest when it ripped off 16 consecutive points over a 7-minute stretch, but should have stretched the run to at least 20 points. The Frogs got on the board with a 40-yard Brandon Hatfield field goal, then immediately took the ball back at the Georgia 21 when Tipa Galeai sacked and stripped Jacob Eason. Hill (18-of-27 for 146 yards with two touchdowns plus 17 carries for 72 yards and a score) raced in for a 10-yard touchdown dash one play later, but Hatfield’s ensuing extra point clanked off the right upright and ricocheted wide left.

After forcing two more three-and-outs, TCU added another touchdown when Hill hit John Diarse for a 10-yard score at the 9:15 mark of the second quarter. (Hatfield’s extra point was good this time.) After another Georgia three-and-out, Hill set the Frogs up with a 1st-and-10 at the Georgia 20 with a 45-yard rush, but a sack and an incompletion forced a 41-yard field goal — which Hatfield missed.

Hill compounded his sack by costing the Frogs another scoring opportunity late in the half, losing a fumble at the Georgia 44 with 30 seconds still remaining before the half.

Running back Kyle Hicks (15 carries for a team-leading 88 yards) opened the second half with a fumble of his own, handing Georgia (8-5) the ball at its own 48. The Bulldogs marched 52 yards in 12 plays, aided by another TCU special teams error when holder Brice Ramsey converted a 4th-and-6 with an 11-yard fake field goal rush. Eason hit Javon Wims for a 4-yard strike three plays later, putting Georgia on top 21-16.

TCU (6-7) see-sawed back in front when Hill and Diarse hooked up for their second score of the day, this one a 9-yarder with 2:08 remaining in the third quarter, but Georgia’s offense was fully alive after a first half stretch in which it registered four three-and-outs and a lost fumble. The Bulldogs moved 56 yards in seven plays to set up Rodrigo Blankenship‘s 30-yard field goal to push Georgia back in front at 24-23 with 13:27 remaining.

Just like in the first half, Hill once again positioned the Frogs with a 1st-and-10 at the Georgia 20, but he once again took a sack he shouldn’t have taken on third down and, once again, Hatfield missed his ensuing 47-yard field goal. Georgia took advantage of the miscue, riding Nick Chubb most of the way on a 9-play, 70-yard march to push the lead to 31-23 with 2:48 left to play. Chubb and the Georgia running game came alive in the second half; the Dogs finished with 247 yards on 5.6 per carry after mounting only 49 yards in the first half. Chubb led the way with 17 carries for 142 yards and a score, while Sony Michel added 15 totes for 87 yards and a score. Eason hit 12-of-21 passes for 164 yards with two touchdowns and one fumble.

Needing a touchdown and a 2-point conversion to push the game to overtime — instead of simply a field goal to win without Hatfield’s missed kicks — TCU moved to the Georgia 44 when Hill’s 4th-and-4 pass to Taj Williams was broken up by Georgia’s Deandre Baker.

The win lifts a struggling SEC to 2-4 in bowl play while the Big 12 falls to 3-2. The two conferences have split their two meetings thus far, with the rubber match between Oklahoma and Auburn coming in Monday night’s Sugar Bowl.