TCU Falls to Baylor in Instant Classic
The Horned Frogs looked to go in for the kill on a team that had vanquished them two out of the last three years.
Instead, in one of the highest-scoring games in college football history – and the highest-scoring game between two Top-10 opponents – the Baylor Bears shocked TCU in the final seconds, and cemented their place as the No. 1 team in the Big 12.
The ninth-ranked Horned Frogs came into an intriguing matchup against the fifth-ranked Bears having taken out fourth-ranked Oklahoma the previous week. It was meant to be strength vs. strength: TCU’s strong defense vs. Baylor’s high-flying offensive game.
After kickoff on Saturday, however, it was anything but: The scoring started with a 35-yard touchdown pass from TCU QB Trevone Boykin to WR Kolby Listenbee five minutes into the first quarter, and the high-octane score-fest didn’t end until – quite literally – the 60th minute had ticked off the clock.
TCU held their own in Waco, Texas, with their new offense already established – a more up-tempo style that apparently better suits Boykin, the junior signal-caller who had played as starter for most of the past two seasons, going the entire game without trailing until the very last second. In fact, the Horned Frogs built up a 21-point lead on a 49-yard interception return for a touchdown by Marcus Maillet with 11 minutes to go.
Unfortunately for the Purple-and-Black, that’s when the Bears’ high-powered offense went full-bore.
After a quick score cut the score to 58-44 with 10 minutes to go, the TCU attack stalled for the rest of the game, with a total of three first-downs and gaining only 51 yards. Meanwhile, a couple long TD passes by Baylor QB Bryce Petty tied the game at 58-58. And with the ball at midfield with less than two minutes left, TCU could not convert on a fourth-down play to ice the game. 1:11 was all the Bears needed to march down the field for a game-winning field goal at the buzzer.
It was a heartbreaking defeat for the Horned Frogs (4-1, 1-1 in the Big 12), but all credit must go to Baylor (6-0, 3-0 in the Big 12) for coming back at home to stay undefeated and keep themselves alive for a coveted spot in the inaugural College Football Playoff. They will have a rough road ahead of them, considering they still have to go up against the likes of Oklahoma in the Big 12.
As for TCU, their last-second loss didn’t drop them very far in the Top 25 (from 9th to 12th overall in both polls), but face another test in No. 16 Oklahoma State, who have not lost since an opening defeat to #2 Florida State. Should they win out with what has proven to be an improved team on both sides of the ball, they could position themselves to take the Big 12, if Baylor stumbles somewhere along the way.
Giants, Cardinals Split two games at St. Louis in NLCS
The San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals have built a recent history finding themselves playing late in the postseason. And, as the NL representatives in each of the last four World Series, they have proven time and again to be the class of the National League.
And, with the two teams having split the first two games of their League Championship Series, they are also proving to be equally matched.
It began with Game 1, and Giants starter Madison Bumgarner attempting to make up for his Game 3 blunder in the NLDS against the Washington Nationals. Facing off against Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright, Bumgarner redeemed himself with a 7.2-inning, 4-hit shutout performance, highlighted by a suspected balk in the seventh inning that either didn’t happen, or the umpires missed (depending on who you talk to) – that lowered his road postseason ERA to a mind-boggling 0.59 in four starts. Meanwhile, a number of Cardinals defensive flubs, coupled with a second straight start by Wainwright that lasted less than five innings (4.2 IP, 6 H, 3 R), allowed the Giants to score three runs – all the pitching staff would need to grab control of the series early. It spoke once again to what the Giants lean on for wins – stellar pitching and timely hitting.
The same could not be said about Game 2 for the Giants, however. SP Jake Peavy – who pitched brilliantly against a similar lineup in Washington for Game 1 of the NLDS – had a few rocky innings to start, and was finally tagged for two runs in only four innings of work – the first on a home run ball by Matt Carpenter, and the second on a bases loaded single by Randal Grichuk. The Giants would come back, however, scoring a run in each of the next three innings to take the lead on an RBI single by Gregor Blanco headed to the stretch. Two solo home runs in the next two innings – the first by Oscar Taveras in the seventh to tie the game, and the second by “Big City” Matt Adams – the same Adams who ended the Dodgers’ comeback trail in the NLDS with a three-run home run to take the lead for good in Game 4 against Clayton Kershaw – to take a 4-3 lead. It wasn’t until the top of the 9th when the Giants, with two outs and runners on first and second, a wild pitch by Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal gave pinch-runner Matt Duffy the green light to get home from second base to tie the game at 4. The Giants’ jubilation would be short-lived, however, when set-up man Sergio Romo gave up a game-winning home run to their first batter of the ninth, Kolten Wong.
Both teams got to see each other’s weaknesses at Busch Stadium – for the Giants, it was their lack of scoring with RISP, and their relievers giving up too many opportunities for the long-ball; for the Cardinals, it was their lack of consistent starting pitching and fielding that they could possibly exploit, along with the recent oblique strain to star C Yadier Molina that could knock him out of crucial games in the NLCS. With the series moving to AT&T Park, a more pitcher-friendly environment, for three games, the home run power from Cardinals bats like Adams, Carpenter and Matt Holliday could be neutralized in the San Francisco air. And rest assured for Giants fans that manager Bruce Bochy will likely learn from mistakes like putting in rookie fireballer Hunter Strickland against left-handed bats in a close game. In any case, between these two teams that know each other so well, the advantage for now – however little – may rest with the Giants.
Though, as this series has proven thus far, that advantage could easily turn on a dime.