Apologies to anybody who stopped watching the Alamo Bowl at halftime on Saturday night when the TCU Horned Frogs were down big to the Oregon Ducks, because a blowout turned into one of the most dramatic games of the season.
Yes, TCU actually won.
After two days of lopsided bowl results elsewhere, TCU and Oregon did their part to answer college football fans' complaints. The No. 11 Horned Frogs beat the No. 15 Ducks 47-41 in triple overtime, erasing a 31-0 halftime deficit despite playing without star quarterback Trevone Boykin, who was arrested early Thursday morning, and injured star receiver Josh Doctson.
Oregon built a seemingly insurmountable lead in the first half, but injuries to starting quarterback Vernon Adams and starting center Matt Hegarty threw the Ducks offense into disarray. As Oregon's offense repeatedly stalled, TCU climbed back into the game and forced overtime by kicking a field goal with 19 seconds left.
The teams traded touchdowns in the first overtime period and fields goal in the second, before TCU backup quarterback Bram Kohlhausen ran for an eight-yard touchdown in the third period. While the Horned Frogs' two-point attempt missed, it did not matter, as the defense got a stop to win the game.
Could this be the one that wins it for TCU? Oregon still with a chance to match. https://t.co/1K8xfBrguR— ESPN CollegeFootball (@ESPNCFB) January 3, 2016
1. TCU ties the biggest comeback in bowl history
By coming back down from 31 points to win, TCU equaled Texas Tech's comeback in the 2006 Insight Bowl against Minnesota. It's also just short of the FBS comeback record of 35 points when Michigan State beat Northwestern in 2006.
TCU didn't actually score a touchdown in the game until there was 4:18 left in the third quarter, and it scored its second a few minutes later thanks to some luck, as the Ducks fumbled the ensuing kickoff.
Well, you have to start somewhere. TCU now with 10 points after falling behind Oregon, 31-0. https://t.co/5uaSRARt4C— ESPN CollegeFootball (@ESPNCFB) January 3, 2016
In the fourth quarter, TCU's Aaron Green scored a touchdown to cut the lead to 31-26 with 3:32 left, and the Frogs successfully converted the two-point attempt on a reverse pass from Shaun Nixon to Buck Jones. With that, TCU could settle for a field goal in the closing minute on fourth-and-one at the Oregon five-yard line to tie the game and force overtime.
Really, though, there was one obvious thing to credit for the turnaround: coach Gary Patterson's shirt. As ESPN pointed out, Patterson changed from black to purple at halftime.
Well, there you have it. https://t.co/XBzULSq0NB— ESPN CollegeFootball (@ESPNCFB) January 3, 2016
2. Kohlhausen fuels comeback with Boykin out
Given the way Oregon played in the second half of the season, and given the absence of Boykin and Doctson, a runaway Ducks victory seemed like a reasonable result to expect. The injury to Adams ultimately played a big role, but TCU played with a backup of its own, and Kohlhausen, a senior walk-on, emerged with an incredible second half to lead the shocking win.
Overall, Kohlhausen -- who took a few big hits that left him shaken up -- completed 28 of 45 passes for 351 yards with two TDs and a pick, while rushing for 45 yards and two TDs. He took advantage of an Oregon defense that struggled much of the season and melted down upon being left on the field for most of the second half as the offense struggled.
TCU dealt with horrible injury luck all season, in addition to Boykin's troubles before the bowl game, and while the Alamo Bowl isn't quite what this team had in mind after starting the season ranked No. 2, an 11-2 final record is highly impressive.
3. Oregon still a totally different team without Adams … and his center
Oregon got off to a disappointing 3-3 start this season, including a 42-point loss to Utah and a loss to Washington State. Adams, the Eastern Washington transfer, struggled with a finger injury early in the season, and the Ducks were knocked out of whack. With a healthy Adams, however, the offense began clicking and rolling in the second half. Entering the Alamo Bowl, Oregon won six games in a row, including at Stanford, and Adams ended up leading the nation in passer rating.
Before his injury, Adams completed 13 of 19 passes for 197 yards and a touchdown, again impressively playing the role of point guard for an offense that looked unstoppable down the stretch, and unstoppable in the first half of the game on Saturday.
But Adams left after a helmet-to-helmet hit, to be replaced by Jeff Lockie, and Oregon also had to play without Hegarty at center. In his place, Doug Brenner repeatedly struggled to send accurate snaps back to Lockie.
Despite the presence of star tailback Royce Freeman (26 carries, 130 yards, three TDs), Oregon's offense managed only 18 total yards in the entire second half after putting up 376 yards in the first half.
Adams' one-year Oregon career as a graduate transfer from Eastern Washington sadly comes to end on a low note thanks to the injury and subsequent TCU comeback, but the Alamo Bowl proved again just how valuable he was to the Ducks this season.
Stat of the Game
Since Texas Tech's 31-point comeback in 2006, teams were 0-1,463 when trailing by 31 points at any point in the game They are now 1-1,463.— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) January 3, 2016
Bowl season may have been a disappointment, but Oregon's collapse and TCU's massive rally ensured that we'd see finally some fireworks to kick off 2016.