By Phil Neuffer, Associate College Football Editor
GAME NOTES: After suffering a lethal blow to their BCS title hopes last weekend in Stillwater, the Baylor Bears will try to recover when they face the TCU Horned Frogs in a Big-12 clash at Amon G. Carter Stadium.
The Bears put their perfect record and chances at the national championship on the line against Oklahoma State last weekend and were sent home with a rather embarrassing 49-17 setback. The loss was the first of the season for Baylor, which is likely out of the BCS Bowl conversation. At 6-1, the Bears are half a game back of Oklahoma State for first in the Big 12 and tied with Texas for second.
"We still have a lot to play for. We've got to go out and win these next two games. There are still goals and ambitions that we set prior to the season that we can still accomplish, " Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty said. "Does this game kind of change our post-season chances? Maybe a little bit, but it definitely doesn't take away anything from the season that we've had and that we're going to have."
This contest serves as the season finale for TCU, which had its bowl chances put to an end last weekend as it fell in a heartbreaking 33-31 decision on the road to Kansas State. The Horned Frogs, who were expected to contend for the Big 12 title entering the year, have lost four of their last five games. TCU is just 4-7 overall and 2-6 in league play. With no shot at earning the six wins needed to be bowl eligible, the Horned Frogs will miss the postseason for just the second time during head coach Gary Patterson's 13-year tenure.
"We are disappointed and very upset that we are not going to a bowl game, but we are going to play as if we are going to a bowl game," TCU quarterback Casey Pachall said. "Our mind set is not going to change, we are going to come out and practice the way we need to."
In the first ever meeting between these teams they fought to a 0-0 tie back in 1899. The series has been just as tight to this day with TCU holding a slim, 51-50-7, advantage. TCU earned the series lead last year with a 49-21 victory in Waco.
In their loss to Oklahoma State the normally explosive Bears were very much grounded. The Bears are leading the nation in total offense (660.8 ypg) and scoring (56.8 ppg) but they weren't close to that level against the Cowboys with 453 total yards and a season-low 17 points.
Petty's struggles in completing passes were a major reason, as he completed just 28-of-48 pass attempts, though he did tally 359 yards and two scores. Petty has been the focus of the offense all season as he has racked up huge numbers in passing yards (3,351) and touchdowns (26), while completing better than 64 percent of his pass attempts. Petty has thrown for over 300 yards in all but one game this season and has been excellent in avoiding mistakes, with just a single interception on the year.
Antwan Goodley is Petty's favorite target on the outside. Goodley has piled up 1,193 yards and 12 touchdowns on 58 receptions this season, as he has been one of the most dangerous pass-catchers in the Big 12. Goodley finished with his seventh 100-yard effort against Oklahoma State with 10 receptions for 118 yards and a score. Goodley lost his partner on the edge two weeks ago as Tevin Reese (33 receptions, 824 yards, eight TDs) suffered a season-ending wrist injury. That has opened up opportunities for Levi Norwood (32 receptions, 551 yards, five TDs).
The Bears were also issued a big blow in the backfield two weeks ago when Lache Seastrunk injured his groin against Oklahoma. Seastrunk has missed the last two games with the injury and is listed as questionable for Saturday's game. Shock Linwood (841 yards, eight TDs) has been there to pick up the slack as a more than capable backup.
Although less publicized, the Bears defense has also been strong this season. Baylor is second in the Big 12 in both yards allowed (349.7 ypg) and scoring defense (20.6 ppg). However just as the offense struggled against Oklahoma State, the defense wasn't very effective, allowing 594 total yards and a season-high 49 points. Shawn Oakman (12.0 TFL) and Eddie Lackey (78 tackles, 10.0 TFL) have helped the Bears rack up the second most stops for loss in the conference.
Pachall and the Horned Frogs have been nowhere near the Bears in terms of overall offensive success this season. TCU is scoring only 23.9 points per game and is ranked second to last in the Big 12 in total offense (338.9 ypg).
On the season, Pachall has been limited due to injuries but in the games he has played he has been uneven at best. In six games under center, Pachall has tallied 1,201 yards through the air, while completing nearly 60 percent of his pass attempts. However, he has only thrown four touchdowns and been intercepted seven times.
Pachall has four different 300-yard receivers to choose from when he goes back to pass. Josh Doctson (31 receptions, 374 yards, three TDs) and LaDarius Brown (35 receptions, 372 yards, TD) are the most productive of the group though David Porter (21 receptions, 361 yards, four TDs) has flashed big-play potential and Brandon Carter (28 receptions, 326 yards) is reliable as well.
Running the ball has fallen to B.J. Catalon (476 yards, six TDs), who is the only player on the roster with more than 400 rushing yards this season. Catalon rushed for 71 yards and a touchdown last week versus Kansas State on 12 carries. It was only the second time this season he has had more than 60 yards rushing.
Patterson may not be bringing the Horned Frogs to a bowl game but he has continued to mold one of the best defensive units. TCU is third in the league in total defense (355.2 ypg) and fourth in points allowed (23.8 ppg). Paul Dawson (76 tackles, 10.0 TFL), is a disruptive force on the front lines, while Sam Carter (41 tackles, 4.0 sacks, four INTs) and Jason Verrett (38 tackles, two INTs) lead a talented secondary.
Last weekend the Bears struggled to find offense in a hostile environment against one of the league's best defensive units in Oklahoma State. However, even though the Horned Frogs may find some success with their effective defensive scheme, they don't have the offensive firepower to keep up with the Bears.