Stanford came close, but lost to TCU, 39-37. Despite the loss, Bryce Love broke Christian McCaffrey’s single-season rushing record, and became the sixth Stanford player to eclipse 3,000 career rushing yards. JJ Arcega-Whiteside also tied a Stanford bowl record set by Coby Fleener (Orange Bowl, 2011) with three touchdown receptions.
But two critical interceptions by K.J. Costello and a questionable officiating call were enough to help TCU eke out a victory, 39-37.
After the first half, it looked like Stanford might run away with the game. Thanks to a big stop on a 4th down fake punt and an interception by Frank Buncom IV, Stanford found itself in TCU territory twice before even five minutes elapsed in the first quarter. Alas, the first possession in TCU territory resulted in a missed field goal by Jet Toner.
The second, on the other hand, saw Bryce Love take it in for a 15-yard touchdown to give Stanford the first score of the game, and the lead 7-0.
On the very next drive, though, TCU responded with a deep pass to Jalen Reagor for 42 yards. They would convert the big gain into a field goal, and make the game 7-3.
Stanford’s next strike came quick, though. On the very next drive, Connor Wedington made two catches for a combined 30 yards, Bryce Love made a 21-yard run, and JJ Arcega-Whiteside capped it off with an 18-yard touchdown catch. Stanford extended its lead, 14-3.
The next Stanford drive began with favorable midfield position, but ended abruptly when KJ Costello threw an errant pass that was intercepted by TCU’s Nick Orr, perhaps while trying to throw the ball away.
The defense showed up, though, and forced a three-and-out. The offense, in turn, quickly capitalized on a methodical drive of 11 plays for 53 yards, capped off by a 14-yard catch by JJ Arcega-Whiteside. Stanford leads 21-3.
The next drive, though, TCU answered quickly. In just over 4 minutes, TCU completed a 9-play drive capped off by a 6-yard Kenny Hill rush to bring the game within two score, 21-10.
Whereas it was all Stanford in the first half, TCU proved that it came to play in the second half. On the opening drive of the second half, Desmon White caught a 27-yard pass for a touchdown that brought TCU within one score, 21-16.
On the next drive, though, Bryce Love once again proved that he’s the best running back in the country. Against the 8th-best rush defense (that only allows 3.2 yards/play), Bryce Love picked up a 69-yard gain for a Stanford touchdown. Stanford extended its lead, 28-16.
The shootout continued when TCU on the very next drive once again saw Desmon White complete an 11-yard touchdown, and bring the game back within one score, 28-23.
Once again, Stanford responded, though. Cam Scarlett proving himself to be the running back of the future gouged a stout TCU defense for a 50-yard gain to bring Stanford inside the TCU 14. Unfortunately, the Stanford offense fizzled after that, and settled for a field goal. Stanford extends its lead, 31-23.
Early in the fourth quarter, Bailey made a beautiful punt to pin TCU inside its own 7. Kenny Hill, unphased, responded on the very first play with a 93-yard touchdown to Jalen Reagor. The 2-point conversion, however, failed and Stanford remained up, 31-29.
The very next drive resulted in the most controversial call of the game. Despite Bryce Love seemingly having his progress stopped for full seconds, the refs opted not to blow the whistle and allowed a swarm of TCU players to descend on Love and strip the ball. Although Stanford recovered the ball, the play resulted in a 12-yard loss and—more critically—setup a TCU punt return for a 60-yard touchdown by Desmon White. Following the punt return, TCU took its first lead of the game, 36-31.
On the very next drive, though, KJ Costello found JJ Arcega-Whiteside for a 21-yard gain, then Cam Scarlett for a 35-yard gain, and Connor Wedington for an 11-yard gain to put the ball inside the 4-yard line. For the third time in the game, JJ Arcega-Whiteside made the touchdown reception to take the lead once again, 37-36.
With his third touchdown reception, Arcega-Whiteside tied a Stanford bowl record with Coby Fleener (Orange Bowl, 2011).
Unfortunately, the two-point attempt (also to Arcega-Whiteside) went incomplete, and Stanford remained ahead by only one point.
On the biggest drive of his career, Kenny Hill put together a methodical 9-play, 59-yard drive, which ended in a TCU field goal. TCU once again took the lead, 39-37.
Stanford’s final drive of the game ended with a KJ Costello interception to Innis Gaines. TCU then kneeled out the game for the win, 39-37.
As Stanford enters the offseason, the biggest question remains whether Bryce Love will enter the NFL Draft, or if he’ll return to Stanford for 2018.