FORT WORTH, Texas – OK, two points are worth making about Big 12 Conference football. One, the entertainment value is invaluable; it's Oscar/Emmy/Tony worthy. And two, when it comes to the three or four hours each game requires, expect the unexpected.
It took just three minutes less than four hours for No. 20 Texas Tech and No. 21 TCU finish their business at Amon G. Carter Stadium. For those watching the video app of their choice, it was "Mad Men" meets "Breaking Bad" meets "Modern Family."
Each team let 10-point leads slip away. The Red Raiders stole a possession (that resulted in a touchdown) with an onside kick. Instant replay reversals turned two incompletions into receptions for Texas Tech. The Horned Frogs had a 516 to 389 edge in total offense and got four touchdown passes from redshirt freshman quarterback Trevone Boykin.
From that information, figuring out the winner of Saturday's Big 12 game requires a high-end Pentium processor. So let's save you the trouble: Texas Tech 53, TCU 50 in three overtimes (the first triple OT game for both schools). Over the last 6:40 of regulation and three overtime periods, the teams combined to score 54 points after combing for 55 in the previous 54:20.
"That was an entertaining game to play in," said Texas Tech senior wide Adam Zouzalik, who went from hardly used to highly valued with five catches for 55 yards.
"Anything can happen in this league and anybody can beat anybody," Red Raiders senior quarterback Seth Doege said. "All we're trying to do is take it to the next level."
That's where Doege finished. He had a career-high seven touchdown passes, the last the game-winner. After TCU (5-2, 2-2) could manage only a field goal on its possession in the third OT, Texas Tech (6-1, 3-1) needed a touchdown to win. On second-and-goal from the eight, Doege lined up with running backs flanking him, play faked then floated a strike to Alex Torres in the end zone. Torres became the foundation for a multi-player dog pile.
"I was hoping they'd call that play. We practice it over and over and over," said Doege, who completed 30 of 42 passes for 318 yards. "Torres does a great job of selling it and he did enough where I could fit it in there."
Torres, who has battled back from a knee injury that ended his 2011 season, had five catches for 53 yards and two touchdowns. He helped fill the void created by the absence (due to injury) of receivers Jace Amaro, Javon Bell and Brad Marquez.
Zouzalik, whose role has been reduced because of those three and others, saw so much action that he "lost his fluids" in the first half and spent halftime on a table with an I.V. stuck in his arm.
"We were playing for those guys who weren't here," said Torres, who had five catches for 53 yards and two touchdowns. "We play for each other and it was great to be able to make a play at the end when we needed it."
TCU, like its opponent, is flipping through its depth chart. The 16th freshman played Saturday, the most in FBS. The Frogs were without defensive end Stansly Maponga and senior right guard Blaize Foltz suffered a leg injury in the first half and was sidelined.
"We played a Tech team that was 5-1 and we lost by three points in overtime," TCU coach Gary Patterson said. "They made one more play than we did. … Welcome to the Big 12. I do believe this. I believe we proved we can play in it. Are we unhappy we lost? Yes, but it was a heck of a game."
The Frogs jumped to a 17-7 lead and appeared in control. But Doege hit Darrin Moore for a 33-yard score and Texas Tech coach Tommy "They Used To Call Me The Riverboat Gambler" Tuberville called for an onside kick. The Red Raiders recovered and converted when Doege hit Ward for a 29-yard TD pass. Initially called incomplete, an instant replay review showed that Ward's right elbow came down inbounds, making it a legal catch.
Thanks to a Big 12-record six field goals – 32, 41, 41, 32, 45 and 38 (in OT) from freshman Jaden Oberkrom, TCU built a 26-21 lead early in the fourth quarter. The Horned Frogs limited Texas Tech to just 71 yards rushing and controlled the time of possession.
But Doege's 8-yard TD pass to Torres and a two-point conversion completion to Darrin Moore gave the Red Raiders a 29-26 lead with 6:40 to play. And when Kenny Williams broke loose for a 47-yard TD run to make it 36-26 with 4:06 to play, it appeared Texas Tech had iced it.
Boykin, though, found freshman LaDarius Brown with a 60-yard touchdown rainbow with 2:25 remaining and the Frogs got a 42-yard field goal with 18 seconds left to force overtime.
"That was devastating," Zouzalik said. "But there's no quit in this team and there was never any doubt."
Texas Tech had struggled to stop TCU on first down but on the Frogs' last possession in OT they were stuffed for no gain. That led to the field goal which led to the touchdown which led to the dog pile.
"We've been working real hard for a game like this, to win a game when you don't play your best," said Tuberville, whose team faces another challenge with a game at undefeated Kansas State. "That's what this sport is all about. You need to find a way to win and doing that on the road is very, very hard to do. I hate overtime, it's hard on both teams. TCU out played and out coached us.
"It was a bizarre football game."
Expect the unexpected and be entertained.