LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Everybody warned TCU coach Gary Patterson that his Horned Frogs had better bring their best every weekend when they finally joined the rough-and-tumble Big 12.
They hardly brought their best to Kansas on Saturday.
It hardly mattered, either.
Casey Pachall threw for 335 yards and two touchdowns, both of them to Brandon Carter, and the 16th-ranked Horned Frogs overcame four turnovers in a 20-6 victory over the Jayhawks.
“We’re just glad to get our first Big 12 win,” said Patterson, who grew up in Rozel, Kan., and played for Kansas State before beginning his highly successful coaching career.
“We feel fortunate to get out of here with a victory.”
Carter finished with eight catches for 141 yards, and Waymon James added 99 yards rushing for the Horned Frogs (2-0, 1-0), who nevertheless pushed the nation’s longest win streak to 10 games by beating up on the team picked to finish last in the conference in preseason polls.
Dayne Crist led the Jayhawks (1-2, 0-1) with 303 yards passing, but he was also intercepted once, fumbled as he was heading into the end zone in the fourth quarter, and missed several third-down throws that prevented Kansas from capitalizing on the TCU turnovers.
“We were really close on a bunch of plays,” said Charlie Weis, who is 0-2 against teams from the Football Bowl Subdivision in his first season at Kansas. “It wasn’t like the first two games, now. There were some plays we made and there were some plays we definitely left out there.”
Sounds a lot like Patterson’s assessment of the game.
Pachall fumbled three times for the Horned Frogs, and Matthew Tucker also coughed up the ball, each time as TCU was trying to cap off a drive with a touchdown.
The Jayhawks have forced 12 turnovers through their first three games.
“We came out a little flat,” Pachall said. “We were just shooting ourselves in the foot. We felt like they couldn’t stop us, but at the same time, we were stopping ourselves.”
TCU rolled up 487 yards of offense, and its defense kept the Jayhawks out of the end zone — and scoreless the second half. So despite the turnovers, the Horned Frogs still managed their 25th straight conference victory going back to their membership in the Mountain West.
Not that beating up on college football’s big boys is anything new.
TCU had won 16 of its past 20 games against schools from automatic BCS-qualifying conferences, including a stretch of five straight against Big 12 schools. Among the victims have been Oklahoma, Texas Tech and Iowa State — all schools that they’ll be facing in coming weeks.
“Everybody said, `When you go into the Big 12, you have to play your best ballgame every day to win games,'” Patterson said. “I’m not sure if we did that.”
Their first series was one example.
The Horned Frogs effortlessly marched inside the Kansas 10, only to have a fumbled snap go scooting past Pachall. The Jayhawks recovered and drove the other way, and Ron Doherty’s field goal with 8:45 left in the first quarter gave them a 3-0 lead.
TCU marched right down field again, gaining big yardage with each play, but this time Pachall fumbled while attempting a pass and Kansas jumped on the ball.
Turns out the Jayhawks are good at giving away possessions, too.
Crist threw an interception on their first play from scrimmage, and Pachall pushed his streak to 13 straight completions to start the season when he found Carter for an 8-yard touchdown pass.
Pachall’s streak ended at 14 straight on the Horned Frogs’ next drive.
Doherty and his TCU counterpart, Jaden Oberkrom, atoned for missed field goals earlier in the second quarter by each making good before halftime. That left TCU clinging to a 10-6 lead.
Things finally unraveled for Kansas in the third quarter.
The Jayhawks were forced to punt on their first two possessions, and TCU made them pay by finally finishing off a drive. Pachall completed six consecutive passes — one of them 33 yards to Carter to convert on third down — before hitting his favorite target from 25 yards out.
Pachall unloaded the pass to avoid a blitz, but the 5-foot-11 Carter managed to pull down the jump ball over cornerback Tyree Williams, and then tiptoed down the sideline for the score.
“The defense played very well today, but the offense came out in the second half and didn’t do well,” Kansas running back Tony Pierson said. “The defense carried us this game.”
Oberkrom added a 27-yard field goal later in the third quarter, and the Horned Frogs dominated the fourth quarter — despite two more fumbles costing them points — to wrap up the victory.
“We just have to get our minds right,” Pachall said. “We know how well we can perform and that wasn’t our normal way of performing.”