AUSTIN, Texas — Texas-versus-Texas Christian on Thanksgiving night.
Given Longhorn history, how very untraditional, especially the score. Horned Frogs 20, Longhorns 13.
The TCU defense picked off three interceptions and recovered a fumble, and the Horned Frogs offense had just enough running game to pull off the upset in front of 99,950 deflated fans at Royal-Memorial Stadium.
Here’s the most untraditional part — the Horned Frogs hadn’t beaten Texas since 1992. They hadn’t won in Austin since 1967.
“I was barely born (in 1967),” said TCU coach Gary Patterson. “Somebody just told me they were here when that happened, and that they were 11 years old at the time.”
Unranked TCU upped its record to 7-4, 4-4 in the Big 12 Conference. in league play. The loss also knocked No. 18 Texas (8-3, 5-3 Big 12) from contention for the conference championship with a week left in the regular season.
By tradition, the Longhorns and Texas A&M played each other on Thanksgiving. But the two rivals went through a bitter divorce last summer when the Aggies bolted for the Southeastern Conference. TCU, a new league team but familiar foe from the old Southwest Conference days, was the holiday replacement. Next year, Texas will play Texas Tech to celebrate Thanksgiving.
The Horned Frog defense gave the Longhorns severe indigestion. On offense, TCU attempted only 10 passes, completing seven of them. But the Horned Frogs, aided greatly with 217 yards rushing from four runners, were able to convert four Texas turnovers into 14 points.
“When you have four turnovers to one, you’re going to get beat … 100 percent of the time,” said Texas coach Mack Brown, who last faced TCU in 2007.
Turnovers were the story of the first half, basically giving TCU a leg up on the upset.
UT quarterback David Ash, who had steadied himself the past two games after being benched in late October, threw two interceptions, which TCU converted into seven points. Both the interceptions were poorly thrown passes into zone coverage. And both happened inside the TCU 5.
Ash then had a third turnover, with the ball slipping backwards out of his hands as he attempted a pass right before half time. The Horned Frogs turned that into a touchdown to take an improbable 14-3 lead over the Longhorns.
Horned Frogs tailback Matthew Tucker scored both of his team’s touchdowns, with Jaden Oberkrom providing two field goals. TCU didn’t need to use redshirt freshman quarterback Trevone Boykin much in the passing game. He was 7 of 9 for 82 yards. He also ran 10 times for 77.
Ash left the game in the second half with a rib injury. Case McCoy led UT to its only touchdown with 3:07 to play.
The Longhorns were in position to tie the game on the final drive, getting to midfield. But a scrambling McCoy decided to heave the ball downfield rather than take a modest gain. The pass slipped out of his hand and fluttered into the possession of TCU’s Sam Carter at the Horned Frogs 40.
“You go back and look at any college football game, turnovers are a big deal,” McCoy said. “We didn’t do what we needed to do in the turnover ratio, and the score showed it.”
NOTES: TCU registered its 600th win in program history. It’s the first time the Horned Frogs have played on Thanksgiving since 1928. … In the past seven years, TCU is 48-1 when it leads in turnover margin. That’s a nation’s best. … The announced crowd of 99,950 fans marked the first time Texas has played before fewer than 100,000 people at home this season. But it also proved to be the largest crowd ever to see the Horned Frogs in their history. … Longhorn defensive end Alex Okafor, who is projected as a first-round pick next April, left the game briefly with a leg injury. Olympian Marquise Goodwin, a Longhorn receiver, also left the game with an injury. … TCU’s 94-yard drive on its first touchdown tied its longest of the season. The Horned Frogs also had a 94-yarder against Virginia. … TCU, with 17, led the league in interceptions coming into the game. That lead should be safe.