No. 10 TCU fought back from a 13-point deficit, fell behind by 13, and then did it again as Jaden Oberkrom knocked in a 37-yard field goal as time expired to beat No. 20 West Virginia 31-30 in Morgantown.
The Mountaineers built a 13-0 first quarter lead after a 75-yard opening march and then two field goals, both of the shorter variety after West Virginia did not convert a third down of makable distance near the goal line. TCU pulled within 13-7 on a 47-yard catch-and-run from Trevone Boykin to Deante’ Gray with 1:44 to go in the first quarter, but that was it for first half scoring.
If TCU had lost this game, it would undoubtedly point to the second quarter, where the Frogs forced three turnovers inside West Virginia territory and turned none of them into points.
No matter, West Virginia wasn’t done giving the ball away. The Mountaineers coughed it up twice more in the second half. The first came on a premature shotgun snap that caught Clint Trickett by surprise, recovered by TCU’s Mike Tuaua at the WVU 33. Five straight runs, the last a two-yarder by Boykin, put TCU up with 9:27 to go in the third quarter.
West Virginia then went on a 14-0 run to reclaim its 13-point edge at 27-14 on a five-yard Dreamius Smith run, coming immediately after TCU had taken its first lead, and then one play after that as Terrell Chestnut ripped the ball from Josh Doctson‘s arms and raced 36 yards for a touchdown.
Facing at 3rd-and-9 at his own 35, Trickett threw his second interception of the day. Three plays later B.J. Catalon raced in from 23 yards to pull TCU within 27-21 as the third quarter came to a close.
Josh Lambert knocked in a 23-yard field goal, pushing the West Virginia lead to 30-21, but the Mountaineers’ offense completely collapsed from there. West Virginia did not gain a first down in the third quarter, actually moving backwards seven yards on its nine fourth-quarter snaps, giving TCU the opportunity it needed to mount the comeback.
Catalon scored from six-yards out with 7:33 to go, and had a great shot at his third touchdown of the day on a 4th-and-3 pass from Boykin, but West Virginia appeared to get away with a hold.
The Mountaineers immediately gave the ball back, and the Frogs moved 56 yards in seven plays to give Oberkrom a 37-yard field goal as time expired.
Since mutually joining the Big 12 in 2012, TCU has beaten West Virginia by one in double overtime and by one on a last-second field goal, while West Virginia won by three in overtime last season. The road team has won all three games.
Boykin kept his Heisman Trophy hopes alive only by winning this game, as he spent much of the afternoon looking like the 2013 version of himself. He completed only 12-of-30 passes for 166 yards with a touchdown and an interception while rushing nine times for 49 yards and a touchdown; take away the touchdown and he managed 4.1 yards per attempt on his 29 throws.
TCU mounted this comeback by shutting down All-America candidate Kevin White (three catches, 28 yards) with its own All-Conference candidate named Kevin White. The Frogs also moved to the run in the second half, pounding out 167 yards on 29 carries after halftime. Catalon did most of the work with 20 carries for 105 yards and two touchdowns, while Aaron Green added 11 rushes for 65 yards.
The combination of Smith, Andrew Buie and Wendell Smallwood produced 176 yards on 39 carries, but could not get the necessary space with which to work as Trickett achieved only 162 passing yards on 26 attempts.
The win keeps TCU’s Big 12 and national championship hopes alive, setting up an absolutely massive game with No. 11 Kansas State on Saturday in Fort Worth.
West Virginia, meanwhile, must take solace in being college football’s most-accomplished three-loss team (losses to Alabama and Oklahoma before today, plus wins over Baylor and at Oklahoma State). They’ll visit Texas next week.