NCAA FB

No. 3 TCU’s Big 12 title game loss to Kansas State sets up for wild selection Sunday

Dec 3, 2022, 5:17 PM | Updated: 6:31 pm
Max Duggan #15 of the TCU Horned Frogs reacts after being called down just short of the goal line i...
Max Duggan #15 of the TCU Horned Frogs reacts after being called down just short of the goal line in overtime against the Kansas State Wildcats the Big 12 Football Championship at AT&T Stadium on December 3, 2022 in Arlington, Texas. Kansas State won 31-28 in overtime. (Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images)

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — TCU quarterback Max Duggan was battered and bloodied, physically exhausted and mentally drained. And still unsure if the No. 3 Horned Frogs had done enough to get into the four-team College Football Playoff.

Duggan dropped to his knees in the end zone after his 8-yard TD run ended his gusty game-tying drive late in regulation of Saturday’s Big 12 championship game, and buried his facemask into the turf after diving and coming up just inches short of another touchdown in overtime. He then stood alone in the middle of the field with both hands on his helmet when his running back Kendre Miller was stuffed for the second play in a row, on fourth down, to give No. 13 Kansas State the ball one last time.

Ty Zentner then kicked a 31-yard field goal as the Wildcats beat TCU 31-28.

“We got beat today and now it’s out of our hands. That’s something that we wanted to do is be in control,” said Duggan, who had to gather himself after starting to talk on the podium. “All we can do is kind of watch.”

Deuce Vaughn ran for 130 yards and a touchdown and Will Howard threw two TDs for the Wildcats (10-3, No. 10 CFP), who six weeks earlier had jumped out to a 28-10 lead early in the second quarter before TCU scored the game’s last 28 points.

That was one of five games the Horned Frogs (12-1, No. 3 CFP) won when trailing after halftime. But they couldn’t do it again with the chance to guarantee being the first Big 12 team other than Oklahoma to make the playoff.

TCU, the first Big 12 team to complete a regular season undefeated since Texas in 2009, could still get into the playoff. While their case was helped when fourth-ranked Southern California (11-2) lost 47-24 to Utah in the Pac-12 championship game Friday night, the Frogs now have to wait until the final CFP rankings come out Sunday.

“I think we’re certainly deserving. I think the league is one of the best leagues in the country to go through, undefeated in the league, certainly we ought to get in,” first-year TCU coach Sonny Dykes said. “And I don’t think we should be punished for coming to the Big 12 championship game.”

Big 12 Commissioner Brett Yormark said before the game that TCU, with first-year coach Sonny Dykes, already deserved to be in the playoff.

“You look at their strength of schedule. You think about how they’ve performed all year long,” Yormark said. “I think regardless, they should be in, for sure.”

Kansas State coach Chris Klieman agreed after his team reached 10 wins for the first time since 2012, when the Wildcats won the Big 12 title when there was no championship game.

“TCU should be in the in the CFP, they’re one of the best four teams,” Klieman said. “We went toe to toe with them. I thought we could go toe to toe with them and find a way to win. It was an exceptional football game.”

Duggan, who went from losing his job as TCU’s starting quarterback going into the season to now being a potential Heisman Trophy finalist, threw for 251 yards and a touchdown, and also ran for 110 yards with an 8-yard score with 1:51 remaining in regulation.

The quarterback was sacked three times and hit numerous other times. He had to have patches on his bloody elbow replaced several times, and was so drained late in the game that the offensive linemen were basically carrying him off the field after drives.

“Obviously I was a little tired, but I think everybody else was and I wasn’t going to come out,” Duggan said.

“Typical Max Dugan performance,” Dykes said. “Just gritty, tough, made plays when he had to. Did everything that he could do to give us a chance to win.”

Vaughn’s 44-yard touchdown, including an open-field move that led to a defensive back falling down yards from him, made it 28-17 and capped a drive set up after Julius Brent intercepted a pass by Duggan in the end zone on the first play of the fourth quarter.

But TCU scored the last 11 points of regulation, including Griffin Kell’s 42-yard field goal with 7:30 left. The kick ended a drive that Duggan kept alive with a 16-yard pass to Taye Barber on fourth-and-10.

Duggan’s TD run late in regulation came right after his 40-yard sprint down the left sideline after scrambling away from pressure on the previous play, though he still had to get up and throw a tying 2-point conversion to tight end Jared Wiley. He also had runs of 15, 13 and 19 yards on the drive, the longest of those three converting a fourth-and-2 from near midfield.

Just like 2014, the inaugural season of the four-team playoff, TCU went into its last game before the final rankings at No. 3, with Ohio State fifth.

TCU got left out that time, even after a seven-TD win over Iowa State in its regular-season finale before the Buckeyes beat Wisconsin 59-0 in the Big Ten title game later that day to make the playoff and win the national title. But this year, the Buckeyes (11-1) missed their conference title game after a loss last week to Michigan.

And now both of them are waiting for Sunday again.

TCU quarterback Max Duggan (15) throws before the Big 12 Conference championship NCAA college football game against Kansas State for the Big 12 Conference championship in Arlington, Texas, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022. (AP Photo/Mat Otero) Kansas State quarterback Will Howard (18) throws before the Big 12 Conference championship NCAA college football game against TCU, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Mat Otero) TCU head coach Sonny Dykes, left, and Kansas State head coach Chris Klieman, right, shake hands before the Big 12 Conference championship NCAA college football game, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Mat Otero) TCU quarterback Max Duggan (15) throws in the first half of the Big 12 Conference championship NCAA college football game against Kansas State, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/LM Otero) TCU wide receiver Taye Barber (4) dives into the end zone for a touchdown in front of Kansas State cornerback Julius Brents (23) in the first half of the Big 12 Conference championship NCAA college football game, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Mat Otero) TCU quarterback Max Duggan (15) throws under pressure from Kansas State defensive end Felix Anudike-Uzomah (91) and linebacker Austin Moore (41) in the first half of the Big 12 Conference championship NCAA college football game, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022, in Arlington, Texas. TCU running back Kendre Miller (33) is at bottom. (AP Photo/LM Otero) Kansas State quarterback Will Howard (18) throws in the first half of the Big 12 Conference championship NCAA college football game against TCU, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/LM Otero) TCU place kicker Griffin Kell (39) reacts after missing a field goal in the first half of the Big 12 Conference championship NCAA college football game, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Mat Otero) Kansas State running back Deuce Vaughn (22) carries in the first half of the Big 12 Conference championship NCAA college football game against TCU, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/LM Otero) TCU quarterback Max Duggan (15) and head coach Sonny Dykes, right, watch in the first half of the Big 12 Conference championship NCAA college football game against Kansas State, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/LM Otero) Kansas State running back Deuce Vaughn, right, is tackled by TCU linebacker Shadrach Banks (19) in the first half of the Big 12 Conference championship NCAA college football game, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/LM Otero) TCU wide receiver Quentin Johnston (1) reaches for a pass in front of Kansas State cornerback Julius Brents (23) in the first half of the Big 12 Conference championship NCAA college football game, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/LM Otero) Kansas State tight end Ben Sinnott (34) and tight end Sammy Wheeler (19) celebrate Sinnott's touchdown in the first half of the Big 12 Conference championship NCAA college football game against TCU, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/LM Otero) Kansas State quarterback Will Howard (18) celebrates his touchdown in the first half of the Big 12 Conference championship NCAA college football game against TCU, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/LM Otero) Kansas State quarterback Will Howard (18) runs into the end zone for a touchdown in the first half of the Big 12 Conference championship NCAA college football game against TCU, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/LM Otero) Kansas State tight end Ben Sinnott (34) dives into the end zone for a touchdown in the first half of the Big 12 Conference championship NCAA college football game against TCU, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/LM Otero) Kansas State running back Deuce Vaughn (22) catches a pass while defended by TCU safety Mark Perry (3) in the first half of the Big 12 Conference championship NCAA college football game, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/LM Otero) TCU defensive lineman Dylan Horton (98) moves in to sack Kansas State quarterback Will Howard (18) in the first half of the Big 12 Conference championship NCAA college football game, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/LM Otero) Kansas State wide receiver RJ Garcia II, center, celebrates his touchdown with teammates in the second half of the Big 12 Conference championship NCAA college football game against TCU, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/LM Otero) Kansas State quarterback Will Howard (18) is pressured by TCU defensive lineman Dylan Horton (98) and linebacker Shadrach Banks (19) in the first half of the Big 12 Conference championship NCAA college football game, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/LM Otero) TCU defensive lineman Dylan Horton (98) sacks Kansas State quarterback Will Howard (18) in the first half of the Big 12 Conference championship NCAA college football game, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/LM Otero) Ashanti sings the national anthem before the Big 12 Conference championship NCAA college football game between Kansas State and TCU, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/LM Otero) TCU running back Trent Battle (17) catches a pass for a first down while defended by Kansas State cornerback Jacob Parrish (10) in the second half of the Big 12 Conference championship NCAA college football game, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/LM Otero) Kansas State wide receiver RJ Garcia II (3) catches a touchdown pass in front of TCU safety Bud Clark (26) in the second half of the Big 12 Conference championship NCAA college football game, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/LM Otero) Kansas State running back Deuce Vaughn (22) can't hold onto a pass in front of TCU safety Millard Bradford (28) in the first half of the Big 12 Conference championship NCAA college football game, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/LM Otero) Kansas State's Ty Zentner (8) and Jack Blumer (43) celebrates Zentner's field goal in overtime of the Big 12 Conference championship NCAA college football game against TCU, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/LM Otero) 
              TCU quarterback Max Duggan (15) kneels in the end zone after rushing for a touchdown in the second half of the Big 12 Conference championship NCAA college football game against Kansas State, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
            
              TCU quarterback Max Duggan (15) throws under pressure from Kansas State defensive end Felix Anudike-Uzomah (91) and linebacker Austin Moore (41) in the first half of the Big 12 Conference championship NCAA college football game, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022, in Arlington, Texas. TCU running back Kendre Miller (33) is at bottom. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
            
              TCU wide receiver Quentin Johnston (1) is tackled by Kansas State cornerback Julius Brents (23) in the first half of the Big 12 Conference championship NCAA college football game, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
            
              TCU wide receiver Quentin Johnston (1) and Kansas State safety Drake Cheatum (21) watch the ball following a fumble by TCU in the first half of the Big 12 Conference championship NCAA college football game, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
            
              TCU head coach Sonny Dykes shouts from the sidelines during the first half of the Big 12 Conference championship NCAA college football game against Kansas State, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
            
              TCU quarterback Max Duggan (15) throws before the Big 12 Conference championship NCAA college football game against Kansas State for the Big 12 Conference championship in Arlington, Texas, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
            
              TCU's Gunnar Henderson, center, and Kansas State's Phillip Brooks, right, reach for a fumble on a punt in the second of the Big 12 Conference championship NCAA college football game, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022, in Arlington, Texas. TCU recovered the fumble. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
            Kansas State's Ty Zentner kicks a field goal past TCU linebacker Shadrach Banks (19) in overtime of the Big 12 Conference championship NCAA college football game, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022, in Arlington, Texas. Holding is Jack Blumer. (AP Photo/LM Otero) Kansas State players celebrate with the trophy after winning the Big 12 Conference championship NCAA college football game against TCU, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/LM Otero) Kansas State's Ty Zentner (8) is lifted up by his teammates after hitting the game winning field goal in overtime of the Big 12 Conference championship NCAA college football game against TCU, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/LM Otero) 
              Kansas State players celebrate as TCU's Tre'Vius Hodges-Tomlinson (1) sits in the end zone with Dee Winters (13) after Kansas State defeated TCU in overtime of the Big 12 Conference championship NCAA college football game, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
            Kansas State's Ty Zentner (8) is lifted up by his teammates after hitting the game winning field goal in overtime of the Big 12 Conference championship NCAA college football game against TCU, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/LM Otero) Kansas State players celebrate with the trophy after winning the Big 12 Conference championship NCAA college football game against TCU, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/LM Otero) 
              TCU's Connor Lingren (49) consoles teammate Dylan Horton (98) after Kansas State defeated them in the Big 12 Conference championship NCAA college football game, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
            TCU quarterback Max Duggan (15) walks off the field after Kansas State defeated TCU in the Big 12 Conference championship NCAA college football game, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/LM Otero) TCU head coach Sonny Dykes walks the sidelines in the first half of the Big 12 Conference championship NCAA college football game against Kansas State, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/LM Otero) Kansas State head coach Chris Klieman holds the trophy after Kansas State defeated TCU in the Big 12 Conference championship NCAA college football game, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/LM Otero) Kansas State head coach Chris Klieman holds the trophy after Kansas State defeated TCU in the Big 12 Conference championship NCAA college football game, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/LM Otero) Max Duggan #15 of the TCU Horned Frogs reacts after being called down just short of the goal line in overtime against the Kansas State Wildcats  the Big 12 Football Championship at AT&T Stadium on December 3, 2022 in Arlington, Texas. Kansas State won 31-28 in overtime. (Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images)

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