If A Frog Had Wings...TCU's Ten Worst Losses of the Gary Patterson Era
It’s been a nice run for the TCU Frogs since Gary Patterson took over.
Since his first game, the 2000 Mobile Bowl versus Southern Mississippi, the Frogs have gone 78-24, been to nine bowls, and have finished in the top ten two of the last three years.
Yep, it's been a nice run, but there have been some bumps along the road.
Some set backs, some seasons that came oh so close, and just some good "ol’ fashioned butt whippin’s."
Here are the 10 most heartbreaking losses of the Patterson era.
2001 Game Four: Northwestern State 27 TCU 24 (OT)
It was right after 9-11, and a lot of people thought that the games would be canceled.
But they went on.
And on a hot, muggy night in Fort Worth, Gary Patterson had probably the worst loss of his career from a coaching standpoint.
Entering his first full season as a head coach, expectations were high after the Frogs had completed a 10-2 campaign in 2000.
The Frogs opened 2001 with a tough 21-7 loss to Nebraska in Lincoln, and then notched two victories over North Texas (19-5) and rival SMU (38-10).
Then came Northwestern State.
The 1-AA program out of Louisiana simply out hustled and out played the Frogs that night, and pulled off a 27-24 overtime upset, putting up 477 yards on the TCU D.
Post game, eyebrows were raised and the question “did we pick the right guy as head coach” was hitting the sports talk air waves in Fort Worth.
Patterson would manage a 6-5 regular season, 4-3 in their inaugural season of Conference USA, and squeeze into the GalleryFurniture.com bowl where Texas A&M would dismantle them 28-9.
The Demons, for their part, would go 8-4, losing in the first round of the D-1AA playoffs.
And at the end of the year the question remained, is Patterson the right guy to run the program?
2002 Game One: Cincinnati 36 TCU 29 (OT)
Coming off the 2001 6-6 season, the Frogs opened away against Conference USA for Cincinnati.
For three quarters the Frogies dominated the game, and midway through the fourth quarter, they were ahead 29-14 after Nick Brown’s fifth field goal.
Then the roof caved in.
Bearcat quarterback Gino Guidugli engineered a two touchdown , two point conversion comeback to tie the game and them won it in overtime with a 15 yard scramble for a TD.
Not a good way to start the season.
The Frogs would, however, right the ship, ripping off eight straight wins after the initial set back to quiet the critiques of Patterson.
2002 Game Ten: East Carolina 31 TCU 28
After the opening game loss to Cincinnati, Patterson had the Frogs on a roll.
They had run off eight straight wins, including a Thursday night defeat of a top 20 Louisville team, and were poised to enter the top twenty themselves, at 22.
Then came a visit to a 3-6 East Carolina team where everything went wrong.
The Frogs piled up 445 yards and had an 11 point lead, but had a whopping seven turnovers, including a fumble returned 81 yards to score the go ahead points in the fourth quarter.
The Frogs then missed a chance to tie it when they missed a 40 yard field goal attempt with less than a minute to play.
TCU went on to win the Conference USA championship, and win a convincing 17-3 victory over Mountain West champion Colorado State in the Liberty Bowl.
A 10-2 season and a defense that finished tops in the nation validated Patterson as both a defensive specialist and head coach.
But still, a three point loss to a lousy East Carolina team, combined with the earlier overtime collapse against Cincinnati, prevented the Frogs from an unblemished season and top ten finish.
2003 Game Eleven: Southern Mississippi 40 TCU 28
After a 10-2 2002 season, there were high hopes in Frog land, and the team did not disappoint.
The Frogs entered the home game against Southern Mississippi at 10-0, ranked ninth in national polls, and undefeated in Conference USA play.
If they could take care of business against Southern Miss, they would lock up a league title and continue on their quest to become the first BCS buster.
Alas, it was not in the cards.
Southern Miss, themselves 8-3 and a perfect 7-0 in Conference USA play, raced to a 31-6 lead behind an efficient passing attack that gave a tough TCU D fits all day.
The Frogs stormed back, closing the deficit to 31-28, before Southern miss scored a field goal and then converted on a turnover to put the game away 40-28.
No BCS buster, No undefeated league season, No top ten finish, and No big time bowl appearance.
Nada, Nothing, Zip.
The Frogs went onto play a in the minor Fort Worth Bowl where they were defeated by Boise State 34-31.
2004 Game Four: Texas Tech 70 TCU 35
Coming into Lubbock after starting the season 2-0, the Frogs had some confidence and swagger.
They took on their old Southwestern Conference foes on the road and jumped out to a 21-0 lead.
Then the Pirate, Mike Leach, unleashed his offense.
The Red Raiders rolled off eight straight touchdowns, racking up 441 passing yards, and finishing with 70 points overall.
The loss seemed to derail the entire psyche of the Frog team, which never fully recovered from the "can o’ whup ass" opened up on them.
They finished 5-6, 3-5 in Conference USA, and non-bowl eligible for the first time in five years by finishing with a putrid 35-31 loss to lowly Tulane.
Oh, they got back at Tech, beating them 12-3 in a game in which they stopped their vaunted offense from doing much of anything a few years later at Anon Carter Stadium.
But the taste of that 70-35 defeat still lingers, and trust me, Red Raider fans sure have not forgotten it either, since they seem to bring it up quite a bit.
2005 Game Two: SMU 21 TCU 10
TCU opened the 2005 season with a big upset, stunning the OU Sooners at Norman, and immediately entering the top 20 as a result.
The stay was short lived.
The Frogs came in flat against a really lousy SMU program that was supposed to lay down for them after the victory over the mighty Sooners.
Guess the Mustangs didn’t read the papers that week.
Playing with spirit and verve, they upset TCU to win the Iron Skillet for the first time in seven years.
TCU ended up running the rest of the table, taking the Mountain West championship in their first year in the league and beating Big 12 Iowa State in the EV1.net Houston Bowl.
This only served to make this one hurt even worse.
Beat SMU, and we’re looking at BCS, top ten, the whole enchilada..
Well, if a Frog had wings….
2006 Game Four: BYU 31 TCU 17
Starting out the 2006 season 3-0, including a dominating 12-3 victory over #22 Texas Tech, the Frogs were ranked #16 heading into their first Mountain West match up of the year, against the Cougars of BYU.
They had run the table in the Mountain West in their initial year in the league in 2005, and were favored to win it again.
The Cougars had some other ideas.
Led by quarterback John Beck’s 321 yards passing, the Cougars came to Anon Carter and were never really challenged, moving the ball up and down the field all day.
It was the first Mountain West loss for TCU.
After losing the next week to Utah, the Frogs would manage to win out and finish with a dominating 37-7 victory over Northern Illinois in the Poinsettia Bowl to finish 10-2.
But the loss to the Cougars derailed what could have been another shot at a BCS bowl season.
2007 Game Two: Texas 34 TCU 13
After opening up with a convincing 27-0 thumping of Big 12 team Baylor, TCU was eager to show it had entered the big time.
After all, with that victory, the Frogs had knocked off Big 12 foes Baylor (twice), Texas Tech, Iowa State and Oklahoma in their last five games against the league over the past two years.
Time for the Longhorns.
Texas, ranked #7, simply wore down the #19 ranked Frogs.
TCU was up 10-0 in the third quarter, but then Colt McCoy began to play like, well, Colt McCoy.
After taking the lead, the Texas D shut down the Frogs and scored a TD on a blocked punt.
Game. Set. Match.
TCU had started the season selling “Beat Texas” t-shirts, and had put their hopes in a victory propelling them to a BCS bid.
Instead, the loss seemed to take some punch out of the team, as they ended up 7-5 in the regular season, going 4-4 in the Mountain West before winning a bowl game versus Houston 20-13.
2008 Game Eleven: Utah 13 TCU 10
Mano e mano.
A TCU team ranked #11 and entering the game 9-1, with only a defeat against a top ranked Oklahoma, playing at Rice-Eccles against a Utah team ranked #10 at 9-0.
Both undefeated in league play.
This one was for all the marbles. Not only the Mountain West championship, but also a coveted BCS berth, which would go to the winner.
For three quarters, the Frogs dominated the Utes.
They outgained them almost 2 to 1, but they just had trouble scoring points.
The Frogs missed not one, but two chip shot field goals in the fourth quarter, and squandered several other scoring opportunities throughout the game.
That allowed the Utes to stay in it.
Down 10-3, the Utah picked off a pass and kicked a field goal on a drive that was aided by three Frog penalties.
Then, taking over with less than two minutes left, Ute quarterback Brian Johnson drove the team down the field for a game winning touchdown at the 47 second mark and a final 13-10 margin.
Once again no BCS.
But, in a sign of how far the program had come, the Frogs did finish in the top ten after winning their final game and then beating previously undefeated Boise State in the Poinsettia Bowl.
The seventh place final ranking was their highest final ranking since the 1958 team led by Bob Lilly.
The Utes, for their part, took apart a #4 Alabama team in the Sugar Bowl and ended up the season undefeated and ranked #2.
2009 Fiesta Bowl: Boise State 17 TCU 10
It was a game that had many disappointed.
The teams were undefeated, top 10, but they had faced off only last year.
Both were itching to get some respect by playing one of the “big boys’ from the BCS conferences.
It kind of felt like being relegated to the kids table at the holiday gathering.
Still, it was a BCS bowl.
Unfortunately for TCU, their offense never got on track against a well coached and fast Boise State defense.
When Boise pulled a bit of their famous trickery with a fake punt, the resultant touchdown was enough to put the Broncos over the edge for a 17-10 victory.
Both teams finished top ten, Boise at #3 and TCU at #6, and with the teams returning a ton of starters (an amazing 21 for the Broncos) pundits are predicting a top ten start and possible BCS run for both programs.
Time will tell.