When TCU joined the Big 12 prior to the 2012 season, it probably figured to field stiff challenges from football programs other than Kansas.
However, after Saturday’s heartbreaking, 24-23 loss to TCU at Memorial Stadium, it’s safe to say people are starting to recognize this whole Kansas-plays-TCU-close phenomenon as a true trend.
In five meetings with the Jayhawks as members of the Big 12 Conference, TCU has yet to blow the Jayhawks out and has won those five games by an average score of just 26-19.
Don’t count TCU coach Gary Patterson among those surprised by the fact that the Jayhawks (1-4 overall, 0-2 Big 12) nearly knocked off the Horned Frogs (4-2, 1-1) on Saturday and played them tight for the fifth consecutive season.
“The bottom line is Kansas has always played us well,” Patterson said after his team used a field goal inside the final two minutes to survive a serious scare from Kansas. “On defense, I thought Coach (Clint) Bowen and the defensive crew did a great job, for the past three years he has done a great job. On offense they did what they needed to do to win. Credit to Coach (David) Beaty this is a much improved team this year compared to a year ago.”
Patterson, a native Kansas himself, said KU defensive backs coach Kenny Perry’s familiarity with the TCU program — Perry worked for Patterson from 2013-14 — caused some problems for the Frogs on Saturday and forced him to adjust.
“You could tell when I blitzed they ran man route beaters,” Patterson said. “The long play to the two yard line (by LaQuvionte Gonzalez), they knew I was going to blitz. After that long pass I changed my signals and (our defense) got better.”
The Jayhawks, who played terrific defense all day and outgained TCU 470-366 in total offense but also turned the ball over four times, certainly had their chances to win this one, but watched Matthew Wyman miss three fourth-quarter field goals, including a 54-yarder in the final seconds.
On that final drive, KU quarterback Ryan Willis and the Kansas offense flashed moments of mastery and misery, leading up to the frantic final kick.
"I was exhausted,” said TCU defensive end Josh Carraway. “But it was the last plays so you have to leave it all on the field. As one of the leaders and one of the captains they're looking at me to make a play so I try to go out there and do that to the best of my ability."
The Frogs did just enough and leave Lawrence with plenty to work on, according to their head coach.
“We are two to four plays away from being 6-0,” Patterson said. “Offensively, you can't play when you're behind the sticks. Defensively, you've got to make plays and we didn't in the first half.”
A look back at the history of KU-TCU in the Big 12 era
2016 – TCU 24, Kansas 23 — Jayhawks squander two-score, second-half lead at home and miss 54-yard potential game-winning field goal in final seconds.
2015 – No. 15 TCU 23, Kansas 17 — Horned Frogs intercept Ryan Willis in the final minutes as Kansas was looking to put together a game-winning scoring drive in Fort Worth.
2014 – No. 5 TCU 34, Kansas 30 — The Nigel King circus catch game on a cold, rainy day in Lawrence under interim head coach Clint Bowen.
2013 – TCU 27, Kansas 17 — Another good day for the Kansas defense, which got a pick-six from JaCorey Shepherd, and another rough day by the KU offense in Fort Worth.
2012 – No. 15 TCU 20, Kansas 6 — Frogs led 13-6 late and picked up a game-clinching TD in the final two minutes after Kansas’ attempt to drive to tie the game failed.