If TCU was looking to send a message to the College Football Playoff committee, consider it delivered. And delivered in resounding fashion, at the expense of one of the best the SEC has to offer in 2014.
After jumping out to a 28-0 first-half lead, TCU kept its foot on Ole Miss’ throat the last two quarters and ran away with a 42-3 Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl win. It’s the largest postseason loss in Ole Miss history, surpassing the 35-3 beating at the hands of Michigan in the 1991 Gator Bowl.
Simply put, the Horned Frogs did everything right and the Rebels did absolutely, positively everything wrong. The details were gruesome, so I’ll be brief before getting to what people really want to talk about coming out of this game.
The Rebels managed just 129 yards of total offense, with a mere nine of them coming on the ground. For the game, Ole Miss averaged a microscopic .2 yards its 37 carries, and converted just 3-of-15 third downs.
The last game of Bo Wallace‘s career was one to forget, with the senior completing just under 50 percent of his passes for just over 100 yards and three interceptions. Add in a fumble, and it was a four-turnover day that Wallace would like to shove down the toilet and flush.
His counterpart, meanwhile, got his 2015 Heisman campaign started a day early as his club also made its case for preseason No. 1.
Trevone Boykin, continuing a season-long trend of outstanding play, tossed three touchdown passes — and three picks, admittedly — and accounted for 253 yards of offense (188 passing, 65 rushing). Wide receiver Josh Doctson caught two of those touchdown passes.
Now, with that out of the way…
TCU, its fans and some in the media felt the Fort Worth school was snubbed by the playoff committee, and it’s they and not Ohio State that should be preparing to face Alabama in the second national semifinal game in the Sugar Bowl New Year’s night. Based on their demolition New Year’s Eve afternoon, the Horned Frogs gave the Buckeyes’ detractors some significant ammunition.
Simply for the sake of argument, Ole Miss beat Alabama 23-17 in Tuscaloosa in Week 6. TCU just decimated the same team that beat the team that’s currently ranked No. 1 in the country on a neutral field and is in the playoffs while the Frogs are on the outside looking in. And while TCU may have nearly lost a conference game to a really bad team, they didn’t actually suffer a non-conference loss to a really bad team like OSU did at home by double-digits.
Compare TCU’s lone loss to OSU’s: TCU 61-58 at 11-1 and fifth-ranked Baylor, OSU 35-21 in Columbus to 7-6 and decidedly-unranked Virginia Tech. And then there’s this: TCU 30, Minnesota 7 in Fort Worth Week 2, OSU 31, Minnesota 24 in Minneapolis Week 12.
“Case closed!” TCU defenders scream, and they’re not necessarily wrong. “I don’t think I have to say anything,” head coach Gary Patterson said in the immediate aftermath when asked if it was a statement game.
In fact, they all may damn well be correct.
Then, though, there’s this argument: Ole Miss has been overrated all season long, with their rankings a direct result of the over-inflated opinions of the SEC that really came home to roost in 2014. The Rebels lost three of the last four games it played in the regular season, with the only win coming against a Mississippi State team that many considered as overrated a their in-state counterparts. One of the last three losses came at the hands of 7-6 Arkansas to the tune of 30-0, while another came against an LSU squad that limped home to an 8-5 mark. “So what if TCU demolished an overrated Ole Miss,” OSU defenders will say.
“Besides, TCU shouldn’t have lost to Baylor — which is ranked ahead of TCU anyway — and shouldn’t have allowed a really bad Kansas team to nearly pull off the upset in a four-point win in Week 12 if it wanted to guarantee it wouldn’t get politicked out of the playoffs,” the pro-Buckeye slant goes. “And don’t even get me started on the lack of a conference championship game, which is the real ‘villain’ in this whole lingering debate.”
Whatever side of the Ohio State/TCU/Baylor argument you fall on, though, one thing is certain: what TCU did on the field Wednesday is easily the most impressive performance of the 2014-15 bowl season, and might be the most impressive performance of the entire season, period. They showed that, regardless of which side of the aisle you sit, they were one of six teams that most certainly deserved one of the four current playoff spots.
Another certainty? Fans of an expanded playoff sooner rather than later have another viable bullet to load into the chamber.