No. 4 TCU looks to keep its undefeated campaign intact and take its next step toward a berth in the College Football Playoff when it hosts struggling Iowa State on Saturday in Fort Worth, Texas.
The Horned Frogs (11-0, 8-0 Big 12) have already clinched a spot in the league championship game on Dec. 3 in Arlington, Texas, where they will play either No. 12 Kansas State or No. 23 Texas.
And while the Big 12 title will be up for grabs in that game, TCU has a bigger goal — beating Iowa State to remain in the top four of the CFP rankings.
How TCU got to this point without a loss is a story in itself, especially in its most recent game. That’s when the Horned Frogs needed a fire-drill, last-second field goal from Griffin Kell to beat Baylor 29-28 on the road last Saturday to stay unbeaten. TCU scored the game’s final nine points over the last 2:07.
Max Duggan completed 24 of 35 passes for 327 yards while leading TCU in rushing with 50 yards on eight carries, including a 7-yard touchdown. Taye Barber had a team-best five receptions for 108 yards, his second 100-yard game of the season and the fourth of his career.
“The great thing about the last drive is that we were throwing all of our day-one concepts,” Duggan said. “We were throwing easy stuff that we practiced and could do with our eyes closed.”
While the undefeated mark is uber-impressive, nothing has been easy for the Horned Frogs. TCU is the first team since 1975 to win seven consecutive games by 10 points or fewer.
“We’ve just got a lot of fight, guys never give up,” TCU coach Sonny Dykes said. “We knew it was going to be a tough one (at Baylor). They just found a way. I think it says a lot about who they are.”
The Cyclones (4-7, 1-7 Big 12) head to the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex to finish their season. A 14-10 loss to Texas Tech last Saturday assured that Iowa State would not play in a bowl game for the first time since 2016.
The loss was the second straight for the Cyclones, who fell to the cellar in the conference standings. Iowa State has just one win — over West Virginia — since September. Six of its seven defeats have come by seven points or fewer.
Hunter Dekkers led the Cyclones with 294 yards passing in the loss to Texas Tech, with 101 of those going to Xavier Hutchinson. Iowa State outgained Texas Tech 422-246 in total yards and possessed the ball for more than 36 minutes but also missed a field goal and had another one blocked.
Iowa State coach Matt Campbell said the fact that his team won’t play in a bowl “tears him apart.”
“It is gut-wrenching. I could care less about me, but I care a ton about the kids,” Campbell said. “This senior class has been nothing short of exceptional. It literally is the greatest leadership that I have seen, and it has been the greatest sense of servant leadership that I have ever witnessed in my life.
“We are right there and have a chance to win football games. The reason for that is because of the leadership of our senior class.”
–Field Level Media