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No. 15 TCU mounts another Alamo Bowl rally in the second half to beat No. 13 Stanford

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TCU sure doesn’t like the first half of the Alamo Bowl… but they most certainly enjoy what happens when the second half kicks off.

Two years after completing an improbable 31 point comeback in the same setting, the Horned Frogs capped off another in San Antonio by rallying from down a dozen to beat No. 13 Stanford 39-37 on Thursday night.

Gary Patterson’s 15th-ranked squad didn’t hold back in the postseason appearance either. TCU faked a punt on their first drive of the game, broke out the old man-lying-down-in-the-end-zone trick kick return (both failed) and had gadget plays galore in search of a spark offensively. After an uneven start to the game, quarterback Kenny Hill settled down as the game unfolded and managed to score a touchdown via rush, pass and reception for the second time this season. He did throw two interceptions (one on a Hail Mary) but finished with 314 yards through the air and another 6o on the ground as he closed out his college career in as crazy a fashion as it began.

That included a 93 yard pass to Jalen Reagor down the stretch, with most of the work being done by the young wideout as he ran a time down the sidelines that might have placed him on the medal stand of the Texas Relays. It would have been the easy pick for the biggest play of the fourth quarter had it not been for Desmon White’s 76 yard punt return for a touchdown that game the Horned Frogs the lead for the first time in the game.

The Cardinal would not go quietly into the Texas night though and briefly re-took the lead after JJ Arcega-Whiteside caught a go-ahead touchdown — his third of the game — on a jump ball in the corner of the end zone that is becoming rather routine for the lengthy wideout who is as good as they come boxing out a defensive back. He was unquestionably the favorite quarterback K.J. Costello, who had an otherwise nice night against Patterson’s defense with 212 yards and the trio of touchdowns but his interception in the final minutes sealed the loss.

That spoiled yet another incredible outing by Heisman runner-up Bryce Love — who looked healthy for the first time in months after the long postseason layoff. He totaled 145 yards and two scores on the ground, including a 69-yarder that set a new FBS record with his 13th run of 50+yards this season and was the longest allowed by TCU’s defense all season. However he injured his thumb late in the game and was bleeding to the point that he had to go to the team’s medical tent on the sidelines and missed the final two drives as Stanford ends 2017 with back-to-back losses.

While he would have certainly made a difference down the stretch, not even the incredible running ability of the nation’s best running back could have spoiled the comeback mojo that TCU seems to have in this bowl game. Though the 11 point halftime deficit they overcame was barely a third of the 31 points they came back from against Oregon in this game two years ago, you’d be hard pressed to find a team who remembers the Alamo quite like the Horned Frogs do.

Stanford offense rolls to lead over TCU as Alamo Bowl hitting halftime

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Not long ago in the Alamo Bowl, TCU needed a second half comeback of epic proportions to beat a Pac-12 foe. The hole isn’t quite as big for the 15th-ranked Horned Frogs this time around than it was against Oregon (31 points) two seasons ago but Gary Patterson’s team still has their work cut out for them as they trail No. 13 Stanford 21-10 at halftime in San Antonio.

It wasn’t for a lack of trying by TCU either, as they seemed to reach into their bag of tricks with not a ton to play for in the grand scheme of things. That included a fake punt on the team’s first drive (which failed) and a trick kick return in the first quarter that had a man lying in the end zone before receiving a pass (it was called back on a flag). Quarterback Kenny Hill wasn’t super sharp early on, tossing a truly dreadful interception that later set up a Cardinal touchdown and finishing with only 71 yards passing. He did seem to get things going right before the break though and ran in the team’s only touchdown of the half as time was winding down.

The Horned Frogs rushing attack was also kept in check and had just 47 yards going into the locker room. Perhaps most surprisingly, one of the Big 12’s best defenses looked pretty mortal against an offense that has struggled at times to move the ball and are breaking in a new offensive coordinator in the game.

A healthy ankle makes all the difference in the world though as Bryce Love looked in midseason form after nearly a month of rest. The Heisman runner-up powered into the end zone for a score with a pair of defenders on his back and finished with 57 yards on the ground. His mere presence seemed to loosen up the defense as signal-caller K.J. Costello looked very sharp in throwing for 86 yards and a pair of touchdowns — both not surprisingly to his favorite target in mammoth wideout JJ Arcega-Whiteside

We’ve had some fun Alamo Bowl finishes over the years and given how good both sides are (and their head coaches are at making adjustments) we could be in store for another classic the way things have trended so far.