MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — TCU followed an 82-point outburst at Texas Tech with its worst offensive output of the season at West Virginia. It still added up to another victory.
Jaden Oberkrom kicked a 37-yard field goal as time expired to give the No. 10 Horned Frogs a 31-30 win over No. 20 West Virginia on Saturday.
It was the third straight close finish in the series between the Big 12’s newest members. Each of their past two meetings went to overtime.
“Every time TCU and WVU have gotten together, it’s been an unbelievable game,” TCU coach Gary Patterson said. “We were fortunate to make the plays when we needed to.”
The Horned Frogs (7-1, 4-1 Big 12) overcame a 13-point deficit in cold, windy conditions to keep their national championship hopes alive.
TCU entered the game No. 7 in the College Football Playoff ranking and now turns its attention to a showdown at home next Saturday against No. 11 Kansas State.
TCU played its first game outside the state of Texas this season, and the nation’s highest-scoring offense looked nothing like last week. The Horned Frogs were held to a season-low 389 yards against the Mountaineers (6-3, 4-2). Trevone Boykin went 12-of-30 for 166 yards and a touchdown after throwing a school-record seven TD passes a week ago.
Patterson said Boykin stood up in the locker room after the game, blamed himself and said he needed to play better.
“But we found a way to win, so I’m not going to read too much into it,” Patterson said.
West Virginia led 27-14 midway through the third quarter but was held to one first down the rest of the game. The Mountaineers committed five turnovers, all in their own territory, and had their four-game winning streak snapped.
“They did a good job of forcing turnovers,” West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen said. “That’s no excuse. We need to do a better job of protecting the football and taking care of the football.”
B.J. Catalon had two second-half touchdown runs for TCU, including a 6-yarder with 7:33 left that cut it to 30-28. He finished with 105 yards.
Boykin threw an incomplete pass on fourth down with 3:46 left, but TCU got another chance with 2:07 remaining after West Virginia punted.
With TCU starting from its 24, Boykin threw 40 yards to Kolby Listenbee to the West Virginia 33. Three running plays advanced the ball to the 24 to set up Oberkrom’s kick with the wind at his back.
“I thought that if we could make it through the third quarter, that with the wind we could change the field position and get close enough,” Patterson said. “We were in a lot of trouble, but we fought back and got some stops so we could do that.”
Oberkrom recalled thinking at halftime that he might get called to decide the game on the last play.
“I knew I hit it solid,” he said. “The wind was tricky today, but when I looked up, it wasn’t moving much and I knew it was fine.”
West Virginia had just 121 yards of offense in the second half. Clint Trickett finished 15 of 26 for a season-low 162 yards. He threw two interceptions. Kevin White, West Virginia’s 1,000-yard receiver, was limited to three catches for 28 yards.
TCU scored two third-quarter touchdowns after getting turnovers. Mike Tuaua recovered a bad snap at the West Virginia 27, and Boykin scored on a 2-yard run to put the Horned Frogs ahead 14-13.
West Virginia’s Dreamius Smith scored on a 5-yard run and teammate Terrell Chestnut extended the lead to 27-14 when he stripped Josh Doctson after a catch, picked up the loose ball and ran 35 yards for a touchdown.
TCU’s Paul Dawson later intercepted Trickett’s pass at the West Virginia 29, and Catalon followed with a 23-yard scoring run.
After West Virginia’s Josh Lambert kicked his third field goal of the game, a 23-yarder to start the fourth quarter, Catalon scored on a 6-yard run to close TCU’s gap to 30-28.