The locker room was close to silent after the Baylor Bears’ 49-21 loss to TCU.
“Very humbling. Very embarrassing. Very uncharacteristic of our football team over the last four years, actually,” Baylor head coach Art Briles said.
Twenty-six seconds and two plays into the game, Baylor looked promising. The Bears’ first touchdown came off a 75-yard pass from quarterback Nick Florence to receiver Terrance Williams to put Baylor up 7-0.
“[Williams] just put a good move on the safety, and had just enough to get it off,” Florence said. “He’s a good route runner…great play by him.”
One of the best offenses in the league, however, soon began to show their first serious signs of weakness this season.
Only a minute and a half after the touchdown, Florence threw his first interception of the night. The Bears defense looked capable of making the stop when they had the Horned Frogs at a third down with 15 yards to the first down. But after a 25-yard run from TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin, and an 18-yard touchdown pass to receiver Cam White, TCU showed fight as they tied the game with nine minutes left in the first quarter.
“We had our opportunities early and didn’t take advantage of them,” Briles said.
Florence’s second interception of the night also came in the first quarter, and was returned for 23 yards to the TCU 43 yard line. This time, Baylor was able to make the stop forcing a punt from TCU, and holding the score to a 7-7 tie entering the second quarter.
Baylor gave up its second score on its first lost fumble of the season in the second quarter. TCU’s safety Chris Hackett recovered the forced fumble, given up by Baylor running back Jarred Salubi. Sixteen plays and 75 yards later, Boykin contacted White for the pair’s second touchdown of the night, giving the Horned Frogs the 14-7 lead.
“I thought Jarred [Salubi] took a pretty good shot, and the ball just popped out,” Briles said.
Baylor had three turnovers in the first half with Florence going 8-12 with 152 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions.
As is so familiar this season, Baylor entered the locker room at halftime trailing TCU 14-7, hoping to develop a plan to regain the momentum they started with and get back on top.
“We just didn’t feel like we had any rhythm offensively in the first half,” Briles said.
TCU capitalized on their opening second half possession. After nine plays and 75 yards, Boykin connected with LaDarius Brown on a third down for a 43-yard touchdown pass to put the Horned Frogs up 21-7.
With intensity still left in them, the Bears wouldn’t stay silent for long. They responded quickly with a 47-yard pass to receiver Tevin Reese. On the next play, Florence showed more redeeming qualities with a five-yard rushing touchdown. With seven plays in a minute and a half, Baylor began to fight back as they moved the score to 21-14.
The game quickly turned in to an offensive battle with TCU’s fourth touchdown of the night. It came on a two-yard rush from receiver Josh Boyce with 1:28 left in the quarter to put the Horned Frogs up 28-14.
The shootout continued on the first play of the next Baylor possession. Florence nailed a 77-yard pass to Williams for Florence’s second touchdown pass of the evening, both with Williams as the receiver. The fifteen-second play narrowed TCU’s lead to 28-21
That was Baylor’s last scoring play of the night, and it was pretty much a downhill slide after that.
TCU responded with three more touchdowns in the fourth quarter, and two more interceptions of Florence.
“I have to make better throws and better decisions,” Florence said. “We put our defense in a bind and that’s what happens. As an offense we did not play well, and we can’t have that if want to win a Big 12 Championship.”
Undoubtedly, turnovers were the death of Baylor tonight. TCU’s defense forced six Baylor turnovers on four interceptions and two fumbles. Four of those turnovers were recovered for touchdowns.
Florence had only five interceptions for the season going in to tonight’s game. Tonight alone, he gave up four. He finished 12-19 for 289 yards, two touchdowns, and was sacked three times.
“What it equates to is a bad night,” Briles said.
Baylor’s second loss in a row definitely hit the team hard. So how do the Bears plan to recover from this?
Baylor nickel back Ahmad Dixon had one thing to say.
“We don’t plan on losing anymore. That’s all I have to say about that.”
-- Savannah Pullin, Special to the Star-Telegram