They say the clothes make the man, and Gary Patterson was hellbent on proving just that on what turned into a wild and historic Saturday night in San Antonio.
Wearing a black polo in the first half, Patterson watched as his No. 11 TCU squad seemed headed for a blowout loss as they were outscored 31-0 by No. 15 Oregon in the first two quarters of the Alamo Bowl. Patterson changed into a purple polo in the halftime locker room… and his Horned Frogs proceeded to tie the biggest comeback in bowl history, stunning the Ducks in triple overtime 47-41. The 31-point comeback ties the FBS bowl record, matching Texas Tech’s reversal of Minnesota in the 2006 Insight Bowl.
TCU outscored Oregon 17-0 in the third quarter as momentum swung wildly their way and the deficit was cut to 31-17. An Aaron Green touchdown run with under four minutes left in the fourth quarter, followed by a two-point conversion, cut the lead down to just three at 31-28. On the ensuing possession, the Ducks inexplicably passed on second and third downs; the incompletions stopped the clock and helped lead to Jaden Oberkrom‘s 22-yard field goal with :19 left in regulation that sent the game into overtime.
The two teams traded touchdowns in the first overtime and field goals in the second. In the third, a Bram Kohlhausen eight-yard touchdown run and failed two-point conversion gave the Horned Frogs a 47-41 lead. The Ducks, however, could manage just two yards on their next and final possession of the game, with an incompletion on fourth down officially sending TCU into the FBS bowl record books.
The Horned Frogs were left for dead after a first half that saw them outgained 376-142. Then the Ducks were forced to play the entire second half without their starting quarterback and starting center, and it showed as they were held to just 18 (!!!) yards of offense the last two quarters. Kohlhausen, playing in place of the suspended Trevone Boykin, was superb, bouncing back from a rough first half to throw for 354 yards and a pair of touchdowns in his first career start.
Then, of course, there was this…
If you were looking for the dictionary definition of a tale of two halves, this was it.
TCU was forced to punt on five of its eight first-half possessions, with another ending on downs and another with an interceptions. In the second half, Oregon, after scoring on five of their eight first-half possessions, punted at the end of their first four second-half drives before what would’ve been a Hail Mary attempt ended in a sack at the end of the fourth quarter.
TCU ended up with a 545-419 advantage in total offense.
While the loss of quarterback Vernon Adams and center Matt Hegarty certainly hurt those numbers, it had nothing to do with the second-half collapse of the Ducks’ defense. Oregon simply had no answers for an undermanned TCU offense in the last two quarters and overtime sessions, and the collapse will lead some to wonder, perhaps even head coach Mark Helfrich, whether the tenure of long-time UO coordinator/assistant Don Pellum should come to an end.
TCU finished 2015 at 11-2, and have now won 10-plus games in back-to-back seasons five times the past 13 years. Oregon, meanwhile, finished at 9-4, breaking a streak of seven consecutive 10-win seasons.