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A TANGLE OF COTTON
Nobody at TCU gets jumpy when the Horned Frogs trail in the fourth quarter, mainly because sophomore quarterback Leon Clay has demonstrated the ability to turn the Frogs into Prince Charmings in the clutch. He brought TCU from behind in the fourth quarter in three straight games in September to beat Missouri, Oklahoma State and SMU. So when the Frogs found themselves trailing Baylor 24-21 after a Clay touchdown pass to Richard Woodley and a two-point conversion to Stephen Shipley with 8:13 remaining, coach Jim Wacker wasn't worried. In fact, he felt plumb good, if you want to know the truth.
"I really thought we were going to get this one," Wacker said after TCU's 27-21 loss. "Last chance, fourth down, make the big play—Leon's had the magic time after time. We've done it so often, I believed we were going to do it again."
Unfortunately for TCU, Baylor and its gambling defense apparently doesn't believe in fairy-tale endings. Or Prince Charming, for that matter. Down the stretch, Baylor defensive backs Charles Bell and Michael McFarland picked off Clay passes to end the Frogs' five-game winning streak and dampen their hopes of being the first TCU team since 1959 to play in the Cotton Bowl.
Asked how he felt about his interception, McFarland said, "I was the scaredest guy on the field. I knew they were coming at me. When the receiver gave me the inside cut, I saw the ball. It just floated. I thought, Am I hallucinating? I just jumped up and caught it." To be fair to Clay, it should be pointed out that he had to sit out the entire third quarter with a bruised right elbow.
Speaking of hallucinating, how about Baylor as the SWC's representative in the Cotton Bowl? The Bears (3-1-1 in the conference), TCU (3-1), and Texas A&M (2-1-1) all trail Texas, which is 3-0 in the league and 5-1 overall but still has a tough road ahead. (The SWC's best team, Houston, is 6-0 in the league but ineligible for the Cotton Bowl because it's on NCAA probation.) The schedule seems to favor Baylor, which has lowly Rice, disintegrating Arkansas and Texas remaining. However, Baylor coach Grant Teaff isn't buying into this front-runner stuff just because his team gigged the Frogs.
"I would certainly be remiss if I declared ourselves to be in the Cotton Bowl," Teaff said. "We have three more tough games. Somebody else has got to help us take care of business."
Somebody like TCU, for example, which still has to play A&M and Texas.
YO, ROCKEY, GO FOR IT
One of the biggest mysteries in college football last weekend was why Mississippi State coach Rockey Felker didn't go for a two-point conversion against Auburn when his team had pulled to within 17-16 on David Fair's two-yard touchdown run with 2:33 to go. Instead, State's kick was blocked by Auburn's Darrel Crawford, enabling the Tigers to get out of Starkville with a 6-0-1 record and their Sugar Bowl hopes intact.