The No. 12 TCU Horned Frogs clinched a spot in the Big 12 Championship Game on Friday with a 45-22 win over the Baylor Bears at Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth, Texas.
Quarterback Kenny Hill led the way for TCU, as he threw for 325 yards and three touchdowns on 26-of-36 passing, along with 20 rushing yards and a score on the ground in helping the Horned Frogs improve to 10-2 overall and 7-2 in conference play.
Baylor freshman quarterback Charlie Brewer had a strong statistical day with 301 yards, two touchdowns and one interception through the air, as well as 49 rushing yards, but the Bears' nightmarish season was punctuated by another loss to leave them 1-11.
By virtue of Saturday's win, TCU will face the No. 4 Oklahoma Sooners at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, on Dec. 2, and a College Football Playoff spot will likely be on the line for Oklahoma if it defeats West Virginia on Saturday.
In beating Baylor, TCU clinched yet another undefeated season at home and continued its recent run as one of college football's most consistent programs, per Carlos A. Mendez of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram:
Carlos A. Mendez @calexmendez
Final: TCU 45, Baylor 22. Frogs (10-2) clinch trip to Big 12 title game, third undefeated home season in four years, third 10-plus-win season in four years.2017-11-24 20:32:14
Although the final margin was lopsided in TCU's favor, the Horned Frogs came out of the gates sluggishly and faced a 9-0 deficit less than two minutes into the game.
After Baylor recorded a safety, Brewer threw a 54-yard touchdown to wide receiver Blake Lynch, as seen in this video courtesy of Baylor Football:
Baylor Football @BUFootball
Charlie ➡️ Blake for 6. #SicTCU https://t.co/eQYLduNcJs2017-11-24 17:15:32
TCU bounced back with three consecutive touchdowns to seize a 21-9 lead early in the second quarter.
That onslaught included a 32-yard touchdown run by running back Sewo Olonilua, as seen in this video from TCU Football:
TCU Football @TCUFootball
And he's gone! What a run by Olonilua! #BeatBU https://t.co/HwiEYSFAzX2017-11-24 18:17:21
Baylor stormed back in the waning moments of the opening half. Brewer threw a 58-yard touchdown to running back Trestan Ebner before kicker Connor Martin converted a 48-yard field goal as time expired to cut the deficit to 21-19.
Shehan Jeyarajah of Big 12 DieHards pointed out that Baylor largely carried the play in the first half but was unable to enter the locker room with the lead due to self-inflicted wounds:
Shehan Jeyarajah @ShehanJeyarajah
Baylor is completely outplaying TCU on both sides. Turnovers have been the only separator in this one.2017-11-24 19:25:35
Baylor finished the game with three turnovers and 10 penalties for 75 yards, while TCU didn't turn the ball over and committed just three penalties for 23 yards.
TCU took advantage of its good fortune and increased its lead less than three minutes into the third quarter when Hill threw a 14-yard touchdown to wide receiver Desmon White:
TCU Football @TCUFootball
What a catch and run! White weaved his way through traffic and found the end zone! #BeatBU https://t.co/zXEYBn7gqb2017-11-24 19:17:06
Baylor answered with a field goal, but TCU added another touchdown on a 30-yard pass from Hill to Jalen Reagor late in the third quarter, and the converted extra point made it 35-22.
Things got chippy after that when a brawl between the teams broke out on the sidelines, prompting the referee to assess everyone an unsportsmanlike penalty, according to Eric Bailey of the Tulsa World:
Eric Bailey @EricBaileyTW
Unsportsmanlike penalty charged to everyone on TCU and Baylor's benches. "That's everybody's first unsportsmanlike in the game...:"2017-11-24 19:45:59
With the game getting out of hand, Fox Sports analyst Michael Lombardi was highly critical of the officiating crew:
Michael Lombardi @mlombardiNFL
This crew in the Baylor TCU game is one of the worst I’ve seen. Lost control of the game. Poor crew.2017-11-24 19:47:34
The momentum was firmly on TCU's side through three quarters, and it added 10 more points in the fourth to make the score look more one-sided than the contest truly was.
TCU was heavily favored entering the game due to Baylor's struggles this season, and the talent disparity ultimately made a difference in the contest.
Despite the Bears' awful year, Taylor Williamson of KWTX offered a positive outlook moving forward:
Taylor Williamson @TBWilliamson
I know it’s not the season Baylor fans wanted, but (and this may be stating the obvious) there’s a lot of cause for optimism going forward.2017-11-24 20:40:52
Baylor still has plenty of rebuilding to do, but TCU now has a golden opportunity to firmly establish itself as the class of the Big 12.
Losses to Iowa State and Oklahoma likely knocked the Horned Frogs out of CFP consideration, but the Big 12 Championship Game will offer a chance at revenge.
Should TCU beat the Sooners on Dec. 2, it would go a long way toward spoiling Oklahoma's national title hopes and would quite possibly preclude the Big 12 from having a CFP representative.