TCU rolled into Austin on Thanksgiving looking to deliver a statement to the College Football Playoff selection committee.
Led by a swarming defense and a big-play offense, the Horned Frogs turned in an impressive showing on national television to beat their in-state rival, 48-10, during a game they controlled throughout.
Heisman Trophy candidate Trevone Boykin delivered several highlights throughout the night but didn't have his best outing of the year against a stingy Longhorns defense that has been one of the best in the Big 12 this season. The dual-threat quarterback completed 20-of-34 passes for 233 yards while accounting for three total touchdowns.
Though Boykin is the bigger name in college football circles, his primary option in the passing game was the one making plays downfield to keep the offense moving toward the end zone. Wideout Josh Doctson once again led the Horned Frogs in receiving with seven catches for 115 yards, including a gorgeous leaping grab over a defender for his only touchdown of the night. The play showed what he was capable of when the ball is in the air.
Doctson's success came largely at the hands of Texas cornerback Quandre Diggs, a senior who was playing in his final game in Austin. Although he had been one of the better corners in the league this year, Diggs gave up at least one score on defense and muffed a punt that led to another. Other top Longhorns prospects like defensive end Cedric Reed (one sack on the night) and defensive tackle Malcom Brown didn't show up in the stat line much, but did help harass Boykin and limit the TCU running game to just 135 yards on the ground.
TCU head coach Gary Patterson can credit his defense for the finishing flourish in the contest, turning the game into a big time blowout. A pick-six in the final three minutes capped off a terrific second half in which TCU forced four turnovers. Linebacker Paul Dawson was dominant -- he recorded six tackles in his first 10 snaps -- to wind up as nation's only player with at least 100 tackles, five sacks and four interceptions this season.
The 10-1 Horned Frogs have only a game against last-place Iowa State left on their schedule preventing them from becoming, at worst, Big 12 co-champions. That's a significant turnaround from 4-8 last year, but the team has eyes on a higher prize -- the playoffs -- when all is said and done in the regular season.
Thursday night was a step in the right direction.