You only live once, that’s the Gary Patterson motto. OK, so I’m jumping to conclusions, but the TCU head has two decidedly YOLO moments to his credit in road wins over top 25 opponents. Today’s overtime defeat of West Virginia showed some chutzpah reminiscent of his play calling to shatter Boise State’s BCS dreams a season ago. Were it not evident before Saturday, TCU and Gary Patterson belong in the Big 12.
Fellow conference newbie West Virginia suffered its third straight loss, though this one was much different than the Texas Tech and Kansas State outcomes. West Virginia had an opportunity to win — scratch that, Dana Holgorsen’s Mountaineers had multiple opportunities to win. Quarterback Geno Smith threw three touchdown passes to reestablish some of the rhythm that was absent in the Mountaineers’ two previous defeats. However, West Virginia’s inability to establish the rush proved vexing.
TCU has flourished in the Patterson era with some of the best front seven play in all of college football, and Saturday it shut down West Virginia to render the Mountaineers one-dimensional. The Horned Frogs also succeeded in limiting Stedman Bailey and Tavon Austin — indeed, both scored touchdowns. However, there weren’t the transcendent figures they were in previous Mountaineer wins over Baylor and Texas.
The Frogs’ ability to score points with the best of the Big 12 is impressive, and Saturday made the difference. West Virginia got its points; while more modest, 38 points are still significant. Perhaps seeing the direction the game was going, Patterson capitalized on his offense’s ability to score on the West Virginia defense when he called for a make-or-break two-point conversion attempt.
The cliche is play for a tie at home and a win on the road. Patterson’s resolve to this adage bested Boise State a season ago, and undid West Virginia today. What makes Patterson’s decision even more impressive is that Trevone Boykin, who stepped in for Casey Pachall earlier in the season, was used on the two-point try. However, Boykin was not involved in the touchdown to set up Patterson’s very YOLO decision.
Brandon Carter, a wide receiver, connected with corey Fuller for the touchdown in double overtime that forced Patterson’s hand. Offensive innovation is key in the Big 12, and few singular play calls have been as inventive as Patterson’s in the extra frame.
TCU is at home in the Big 12, no doubt about it.