Kenny Hill passed for two touchdowns, ran for another and even caught one as No. 13 TCU rallied from a big early deficit to beat 15th-ranked Stanford 39-37 in the Alamo Bowl on Thursday night.
Cole Bunce’s 33-yard field goal with just over 3 minutes to play won it for the Horned Frogs (11-3), who trailed 21-3 before storming back behind big plays from Hill and a 76-yard punt return from Desmon White. TCU rallied from 31 down in to beat Oregon in the 2015 Alamo Bowl.
Stanford (9-5) running back Bryce Love, a Heisman Trophy finalist, rushed for 145 yards and had a 69-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. K.J. Costello had three touchdown passes to J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, the last one giving Stanford a 37-36 lead.
Hill then drove TCU to Bunce’s game winner. The Horned Frogs defense sealed it with an interception by Innis Gaines with 2:01 left.
Hill finished with 314 yards passing, a team-high 60 yards rushing and caught a 27-yard TD pass from White in his final game.
Love finished with the season with 2,118 yards rushing, the school’s single-season record.
TCU: The Horned Frogs defended Love about as well as anyone this season despite the long touchdown run. Most important, they didn’t let him take over the game in the second half, which let Hill and the offense rally. When the running game wasn’t working, the TCU defense could get after Costello, who struggled under pressure after his quick start.
Stanford: The Cardinal were doomed by the big play just when they had a chance to put the game away. After pinning TCU deep, Hill connected with Jalen Reagor on a 93-yard touchdown pass early in the fourth quarter. White, who earlier had a costly fumble, then gave TCU its first lead with his punt return touchdown.
ON TO NEXT YEAR
TCU: Coach Gary Patterson has his program humming with 40 wins over the last four seasons, and the Horned Frogs expect to remain Big 12 title contenders even as Hill moves on after his final game. The Horned Frogs will have to find a new quarterback to do it, but Patterson’s teams always play some of the best defense in the league.
Stanford: Love will have to decide his future and whether that will mean another year of school for the biology major and aspiring pediatrician with an interest in stem cell research, or a jump to the NFL. The trend has seen top players leave early, but Love already bucked the latest fad by choosing to play in his team’s bowl game as he ponders his decision.
Coach David Shaw said this week hopes Love will return next season. If he does, pencil in the Cardinal as a Pac-12 favorite again.
Stanford hosts San Diego State on Sept. 1, 2018.
TCU hosts Southern in its 2018 opener.