In what is becoming an Alamo Bowl tradition for TCU, the Horned Frogs came back from a double-digit deficit to win the Alamo Bowl against Stanford.
Just two years ago TCU overcame a 31-0 score to beat Oregon in triple overtime in the Alamo Bowl. Last night, it was only an 18-point deficit, but the comeback was impressive nonetheless.
The game started on a sloppy note for both teams. Stanford started the game going three-and-out, followed by a three-and-out from TCU. TCU gambled though on fourth down with a fake punt that was snuffed out by the Stanford defense.
The sloppy played continued though as on the ensuing drive, with great field position, Stanford was forced into a field goal attempt. The 52 yard attempt by Stanford kicker Jet Toner was hooked wide left, and TCU took over on their own 35 yard line.
On the first play of the drive, Kenny Hill threw the first of two interceptions on the day for the senior. Safety Frank Buncom picked off the pass, and returned it to the TCU 23 yard line to get Stanford another shot to punch it in. This time Stanford would capitalize. On 3rd and 2 from the TCU 15, Bryce Love broke loose, and was able to power his way into the end zone. Stanford led 7-0.
After a TCU field goal on the next drive, Stanford kept their offensive momentum going with a seven play, 70 yard drive that was capped off with an eighteen yard touchdown pass from K.J. Costello to JJ Arcega-Whiteside. Stanford led 14-3 with 1:51 left in the 1st quarter.
TCU would punt on their next possession, but get the ball right back when Nick Orr intercepted Costello. TCU couldn’t turn it into anything though, and punted the ball away again.
Stanford extended their lead even further on the next drive with an eleven play, 53 yard drive that finished again with K.J Costello finding JJ Arcega-Whiteside, this time from 14 yards out. Stanford was up 21-3 and it looked like the Cardinal would run away with this one.
The next drive for TCU would prove to be pivotal as it seemed to be the turning point of the game. TCU’s offense finally decided to show life for the first time, and much of it was due to Kenny Hill using his legs effectively. The 76 yard drive was capped off with a six yard Kenny Hill touchdown run. The score was 21-10 Stanford, and would stay that way going into the half.
The first half might have started incredibly sloppy, but the second half was quite the opposite. TCU received the ball to start the half, and promptly drove the ball down the field with efficiency. Offensive coordinator Sonny Cumbie decided to go into his bag of tricks to get the touchdown on this drive.
It was 1st down and 10 from the Stanford 27 yard line, and Kenny Hill threw a quick pass to the flats to Desmon White. White tucked the ball for one second, but then abruptly stopped, and threw the ball back across the field to Kenny Hill. The offensive line was set up perfectly to block for Hill, and Hill walked in to the end zone untouched.
Cole Bunce missed the extra point though, so Stanford’s lead was now 21-16.
Not to be outdone, Stanford answered right back, but this was not a methodical drive. On the fourth play of the drive, Bryce Love found a seam up the middle of the defense, and was gone. The 69 yard touchdown run was Love’s 13th play of over 50 yards on the season. Stanford was back up by two scores, 28-16.
TCU’s offense was dialed in now though, and once again put together a long, efficient drive covering 75 yards in nine plays. This time though it was Hill who threw the pass to Desmon White for an 11 yard touchdown. Huge props to Hill on this play, as Stanford had great coverage, and forced Hill to scramble around, until he could find an open receiver. He kept his eyes downfield, and the offensive line gave him enough time to wait for a receiver to get open.
After a Stanford field goal put them up 31-23, TCU would fumble on their next possession. Desmon White was the receiver who got stripped of the ball, but he would redeem himself in short order. Frank Buncom recovered the fumble, making him a part of all three TCU turnovers.
Stanford was forced to punt the ball after recovering the fumble, and KaVontae Turpin fielded the ball deep in his own territory. TCU would start with the ball on their own seven yard line. On the first play of the drive, Kenny Hill threw one of the best balls of his TCU career to find Jalen Reagor streaking down the sideline. Reagor would take care of the rest, and go untouched for a 93-yard touchdown reception.
TCU went for two on the play, but failed to convert. Stanford’s lead was now cut to 31-29.
Stanford would go three and out on their next drive, and elected to punt. Enter Desmon White for his redemption. Stanford punter Jake Bailey boomed the ball, but might have had too much leg on it, and out kicked his coverage.
White fielded the ball on the TCU 24 yard line, and proceeded to weave his way through the Stanford punting team for a 76 yard punt return touchdown. It was the longest punt return touchdown in Alamo Bowl history, and gave TCU their first lead of the game with the score now 36-31.
Stanford received the kickoff with just over 11 minutes left in the game. Costello and the Stanford offense put together a five-minute drive that finished with Arcega-Whiteside getting his third touchdown reception of the game.
Stanford went for two to try to make it a three-point game, but were unable to convert. The score was now 37-36 Stanford.
TCU got the ball with just over 6 minutes left, and put together their own drive to get into Stanford territory. Sewo Olonilua was featured heavily this drive. The 6-foot-3, 225-pound running back was a load for Stanford to try to stop at this point in the game.
The drive stalled inside the Stanford 20 yard line though, and TCU elected to kick a field goal. Cole Bunce came out and calmly put the ball through the uprights, and gave TCU a 39-37 lead with just over three minutes left in the game.
On what would be their final drive of the game, Stanford started out with a delay of game penalty, followed by an incomplete pass, and a completed pass for five yards. On 3rd and 10, the Cardinal would get a false start penalty to put them at 3rd and 15 from their own 20 yard line.
On 3rd down, Costello tried to force the ball into a tight window, and TCU safety Innis Gaines was there to snag the interception.
TCU was then able to pick up a first down, and kneel out the clock to once again claim victory in comeback fashion at the Alamo Bowl.
|3rd Down Eff||8-16||5-13|
|4th Down Eff||1-1||0-2|
|Yards Per Pass||7.9||8.3|
|Yards Per Rush||4.6||5.7|
|STAN – K. Costello||15/27||212||7.9||3||2||143.36|
|TCU – K. Hill||27/40||314||7.9||2||2||139.94|
|STAN – B. Love||26||145||5.6||2||69|
|TCU – K. Hill||9||60||6.7||1||12|
|STAN – J. Arcega-Whiteside||5||61||12.2||3||21|
|TCU – J. Reagor||5||169||33.8||1||93|
EMPTYING THE NOTEBOOK
Kenny Hill had maybe his best game as a TCU Horned Frog. Hill accounted for over 400 yards of total offense, and as mentioned before, threw one of the best passes of his career on the 93-yard touchdown to Jalen Reagor. Hill certainly caused frustration for TCU fans at points throughout his two years as a starter, but no one can deny that TCU wouldn’t have won 11 games in 2017 if not for Kenny Hill. TCU fans should, and I believe will, look back on Kenny Hill’s career fondly.
What can you say about Bryce Love that hasn’t already been said? He was absolutely electric on the field in spite of dealing with an ankle injury. He was the engine behind the Stanford offense, as he has been all year, and it showed when he left the game with a laceration on his hand. The Cardinal just couldn’t move the ball as well without Love. He finishes the season for Stanford with the record for most yards rushing in a season for the Cardinal, breaking Christian McCaffrey’s record.
Count me among those who was surprised to see the amount of trickeration that TCU came out with. In the first quarter alone they tried a fake punt, and a throw back play on a kickoff return that involved hiding a player in the end zone. On the kickoff Jalen Regaor laid down in the end zone to disguise himself with the purple end zone. As the Stanford kickoff team pursued KaVontae Turpin, Reagor popped up and received the pass from Turpin. It was all for nothing though as the pass was an illegal forward pass. Then you also factor in the double pass to Kenny Hill, and its clear that TCU was leaving it all out there in this one.
Jalen Reagor is going to be a problem next year for defenses across the Big 12. The true freshman showed just how dangerous he can be on the 93 yard touchdown. Reagor finished the season as TCU’s leader in yards and touchdown receptions.
This is now the third time in the last four years that TCU will have won 11 games in a season. TCU has won 40 games over the last four years, the second best mark in the Big 12 behind Oklahoma. Back in 2012 when TCU entered the conference there were questions if TCU would be able to compete year in and year out. It has now become abundantly clear that TCU has the ability to do so, and will continue to do so for as long as Gary Patterson is around, and likely well beyond that.