After rarely playing since missing three field-goal attempts in Texas Christian's only loss of the season, Peter LoCoco was shocked to be sent in late in the Houston Bowl.
But LoCoco got over the surprise and kicked a 44-yard field goal with 5:25 left Saturday night to give No. 14-ranked TCU a 27-24 victory over Iowa State.
"This is perfect," said LoCoco, who missed three kicks in a loss to SMU in September. "This is redemption."
LoCoco's field goal was TCU's only score in the second half after building a 24-17 halftime lead.
"We wanted an opportunity to finish high and jump into the top 10 in the final rankings," said Coach Gary Patterson, whose Horned Frogs had the best record among teams from non-BCS conferences. "I feel like we've earned it."
The win gave TCU a record of 11-1, 8-0 in the Mountain West Conference. Quarterback Jeff Ballard improved to 8-0 as a starter by throwing for 275 yards and a touchdown, despite being sacked six times. TCU had a chance to go ahead early in the fourth quarter, but running back Robert Merrill fumbled at the Iowa State one-yard line after a 21-yard run, and the Cyclones recovered.
Iowa State's Bret Meyer completed 20 of 33 passes for 254 yards and three touchdowns, including a 22-yard pass play that tied the score, 24-24, in the third quarter.
But the Cyclones (7-5) were doomed by two fumbles, two interceptions and an inability to generate a running game. The Cyclones had 34 yards rushing.