FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Sixth-ranked TCU is the only undefeated team remaining the Big 12 Conference, even after giving up more than 500 yards and needing some trickery after blowing a two-touchdown lead in the second half.
“I would bet every game is going to be like this,” coach Gary Patterson said. “If you’re going to win a championship, as a general rule … you win about three or four of them that are ugly. You got to win the ugly ones sometimes.”
Count their 31-24 win over West Virginia as one of those for the Horned Frogs (5-0, 2-0 Big 12), who were up two spots in the AP Top 25 poll Sunday. The Mountaineers (3-2, 1-1) dropped out of the new poll from 23rd.
One weekend into October, with every Big 12 team having played two league games and no open dates left, only the Frogs and Texas (3-2, 2-0) are without a conference loss. Iowa State upset two-time defending Big 12 champion Oklahoma (4-1, 1-1), ending the Sooners’ nation’s-best 14-game winning streak and leaving TCU as the only team without any losses this season.
“It’s nice just for the fact that now we’re at the top of the conference, but it just means that everybody’s going to be gunning for us,” TCU quarterback Kenny Hill said.
Hill became the first player from a current Big 12 school with running, passing and receiving touchdowns in the same game when he scored the game-winner on 3-yard run with 2:53 left Saturday.
After Hill’s 45-yard TD pass to Jalen Reagor midway through third quarter put TCU up 17-3, West Virginia tied the game on two long catch-and-run scores in a span of about 2 1/2 minutes. The Frogs regained the lead when KaVontae Turpin took a handoff, swept right, then stopped and threw back to Hill for a 48-ayrd sprint down the left sideline for a touchdown.
The last Big 12 player with passing, rushing and receiving TDs in the same game had been Nebraska’s Joe Ganz in 2008, former Cornhuskers quarterback Eric Crouch did it in 1999. The only other player to do it against a Big 12 opponent was Colorado’s Craig Ochs against Oklahoma State in 2000.
Will Grier had 140 of his 366 passing yards on West Virginia’s two long touchdowns, and Big 12 rushing leader Justin Crawford got 47 of his 111 yards on the first two offensive snaps. The Mountaineers had 508 total yards, nearly 100 below their season average that had led the nation — they are now third, behind Big 12 foes Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.
“They have a good offense and they are going to make plays. But what we want to do as a defense is get the stops that count,” TCU safety Nick Orr said. “If we can do that and get the ball back to our offense and give them a chance to score, we’ll be in good shape.”
West Virginia, with three of its next four games at home, had scored at least 56 points in each game during a three-game winning streak after its opening loss to 15th-ranked Virginia Tech by the same 31-24 score as the TCU game.
“It’s a disappointing loss. It feels a lot like game one,” West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen said. “I’m proud of the way the guys kept fighting. I think we are a group that likes to play, that fights hard and competes. It’s not good enough to beat good teams on the road in the Big 12. We have to continue to improve, and I think we will.”