Perhaps no conference exemplified the ever-changing face of college football quite like the Big XII Conference over the past few years. The conference—in just over a year’s time—went from nearly being dissolved completely to where it is now, bidding farewell to Texas A&M and Missouri as they move on to the SEC and welcoming TCU from the Mountain West Conference and West Virginia from the Big East Conference to return the conference to ten members. It is this most recent realignment which sets up today’s game here at STAT BOX STORIES; a showdown between the Horned Frogs and the Mountaineers, new conference rivals.
After perhaps the craziest game I’ve ever played in any NCAA Football title yesterday between Miami of Ohio and Ohio, the hope was for today’s game to feature much more defense and strategy. Would these two schools be up to that task? Click below to read on and find out!
Although West Virginia is ranked higher in the Top 25 in NCAA Football 13, their actual team ratings are lower compared to TCU; as a result, I took control of the Mountaineers in this match-up. TCU won the coin toss and elected to kick, giving me the first possession of the game. I drove down the field and eventually got all the way to the TCU 15-yard-line, but a missed conversion on 3rd Down led me to a 32-yard field goal and an early 3-0 lead.
On the ensuing possession, TCU’s halfback was tackled hard at midfield and the ball was jarred loose; the fumble was recovered by West Virginia, but TCU’s head coach challenged the ruling on the field and it was overturned, giving possession back to the Horned Frogs. TCU took advantage of this good fortune and continued their drive, though they were also forced to settle for a field goal, tying the game at 3-3.
With just over two minutes left in the 1st Quarter, West Virginia began a drive which would get them all the way down to the TCU 5-yard-line; however, the Mountaineers again came up short in their quest for the end zone and kicked a chip-shot field goal to take a 6-3 lead at the conclusion of the quarter.
Just over a minute into the 2nd Quarter, a nice touch pass from the TCU quarterback created a 26-yard touchdown pass and the Horned Frogs’ first lead of the game, 10-6. It took less than a minute for the Mountaineers to respond, however, with a 7-yard pass finding WR #1 in the back of the end zone for a touchdown and a 13-10 lead for the home team.
West Virginia’s defense finally stepped up and forced a stop on TCU’s next possession, marking the game’s first drive not to end with points. The Mountaineers were sure not to let such a scoring drought happen on consecutive possessions, marching up the field and scoring on a 12-yard pass to WR #81 to extend their lead to 20-10 with just over a minute left in the first half.
TCU’s air assault moved them down the field with plenty of time remaining in the half, and with just under 30 seconds remaining they scored from 3 yards out on a Wildcat direct snap to HB #34 to narrow the deficit to 20-17.
Unfortunately for TCU, their defense was unable to stop a succession of quick first down passes and no-huddle from West Virginia, allowing the Mountaineers to set up a goal-to-go situation and score on a 2-yard rush with a second remaining in the half to re-establish a 10-point lead going into the break.
On TCU’s opening drive of the second half, they reached the West Virginia 40-yard-line before facing a 4th Down situation; though they lined up in punt formation, it was a fake. Unfortunately for the Horned Frogs, the pass from the punter fell incomplete, turning the ball over to West Virginia. Just a few plays later, however, West Virginia threw an interception at midfield, giving the ball back to TCU and setting up a 13-yard touchdown on a screen pass with 2:39 remaining in the quarter to again cut the lead down to a field goal.
West Virginia was ready to get the ball back, but an untimely fumble on the kickoff return gave the ball right back to TCU inside the 10-yard-line. Two plays later, a 4-yard rush by HB #34 gave TCU the lead for the first time in the second half. Momentum appeared to be turning for certain, as TCU’s defense forced a punt on the next Mountaineers possession.
The game continued its wild swings, however, as West Virginia’s punt team forced a fumble on the punt return and the Mountaineers were able to regain possession. With 20 seconds remaining in the quarter, West Virginia’s quarterback decided to tuck-and-run on a pass play from 9 yards out and found his way to the end zone to re-take the lead.
TCU’s opening possession of the fourth quarter was dominant, with the offense driving downfield against a defense unable to conjure up responses for each play call. The drive ended with a 31-yard touchdown pass to give the Horned Frogs the lead early in the final quarter.
Just over a minute later, West Virginia’s HB #29 fought through the line on his way to a 10-yard touchdown rush, showing incredible determination to power his way into the end zone and re-take the lead in a game which had become very much a see-saw on the scoreboard.
TCU’s ensuing drive saw them face a 4th-and-6 at the West Virginia 49-yard-line; the game appeared fated for a Horned Frogs comeback when they converted the yardage with a pass. Later in the drive, however, TCU faced 4th-and-Inches at the 27-yard-line of the Mountaineers, setting up a field goal attempt to try and tie the game and send it to overtime. A lineman moved before the snap, however, and the false start penalty made it 4th-and-5 and pushed TCU out of comfortable field goal range. The Horned Frogs elected to go for the end zone on the 4th Down play, but the pass was deflected away by West Virginia’s safety to turn the ball over on downs.
Needing to milk the clock and waste TCU’s timeouts, the Mountaineers drove up the field and converted just enough first downs to set up a 51-yard field goal as time expired; the kick had the distance and was true, cushioning the final score in West Virginia’s favor.
Despite the slow start to the game in terms of scoring, each team managed over 450 yards of total offense; 459 for TCU and 590 for West Virginia. TCU outgained West Virginia 150-107 on the ground, but the Mountaineers gained nearly 100 more yards through the air, 402-309. TCU faced twice as many third downs as the Mountaineers, but converted 7 opportunities while West Virginia only converted 1. Each team was perfect in red zone scoring attempts, and TCU only had one turnover to West Virginia’s fumble and interception. Time of Possession was skewed heavily in favor of the Horned Frogs, but that did not translate to success on the scoreboard.
West Virginia’s QB #12 won Player of the Game recognition after going 23 for 31 for 402 yards and 2 touchdowns, as well as adding a touchdown on the ground. TCU’s QB #4 had a big game as well, throwing for 309 yards and 3 touchdowns with no turnovers. Three receivers between the two teams went over 100 yards; TCU WR #82 caught 4 balls for 106 yards, while West Virginia WR #1 caught 7 passes for 130 yards and a touchdown. Mountaineers WR #3 caught 6 passes for 117 yards, with no scoring touch.
Although the two schools still had big offensive performances, the game was much more “sane” by comparison when considering yesterday’s game here at STAT BOX STORIES. It was a real shootout between the two teams, but the defenses had a role to play in the game as well. Does this result foresee more defense to be seen in tomorrow’s Rose Bowl Rematch between the Wisconsin Badgers and the Oregon Ducks? You won’t want to miss it here at STAT BOX STORIES!