No. 12 Baylor was close to adding its name to the list of undefeated teams to fall on Saturday. A slow start offensively and multiple miscues at key points in the game weren't enough, however, to keep the Bears from continuing this magical season in a 29-23 triple-overtime win at TCU.
The defensive battle played right into the hands of Gary Patterson and the Horned Frogs, who built a 9-0 lead in the first half and then played for field-position advantages in the second half to defend the lead. It looked like the plan was going to work out, thanks in part to a handful of Baylor miscues down the stretch. But Baylor was able to send the game to overtime at 9-9 thanks to an incredible 51-yard field goal by freshman kicker John Mayers.
Mayers' career-long prior to that kick was 38 yards.
TCU dominated third down throughout regulation, converting more than half of its offensive tries while Baylor continually came up short on its third down attempts. Even when the Bears defense was able to come up with a game-changing interception in the third quarter, Charlie Brewer and the offense netted just one yard on three plays before settling for a field goal. TCU had its own offensive struggles throughout the game, and while Max Duggan was able to play with some protection on his injured finger, the passing game was not effective for long stretches of the game.
Duggan finished the game with just 140 yards on 14-of-32 passing with one touchdown and three interceptions, the final pick coming in triple overtime to seal the win for the Bears.
Even with three overtimes to pad the stats, this was still a game where both offenses struggled to get anything going. TCU gained 308 yards to Baylor's 298, neither quarterback threw for more than 200 yards and neither team averaged more than 3.5 yards per carry. This was a game that tested the mental and physical toughness of both teams as the game stretched into extra periods, and that's where Baylor's experience has become its strength.
Baylor is all alone in first place in the Big 12 standings thanks to its ability to finish strong in close games. The Bears beat Iowa State by two, Texas Tech and West Virginia by three and now sit at 6-0 in Big 12 play heading into arguably the most important stretch of the regular season. Over the next two weeks, Oklahoma and Texas will visit Waco looking for a win in hopes of securing a spot in the Big 12 title game. Baylor's 9-0 start has been proof positive of the program building under Matt Rhule, but after getting to this point it would be awfully disappointing to miss out on a spot in Dallas.
The miscues against TCU could cost Baylor against a team like Oklahoma with much more offensive ability, so when the Sooners show up next Saturday there is going to be a lot riding on the Bears' ability to play a clean game. If so, this team has a real shot to take down the Sooners and make a late charge at one of the four spots in the College Football Playoff.