School Soccer Author
ARLINGTON, Texas — Eight years in the past, TCU spent Choice Sunday fretting.
Recent off a blowout win over Iowa State on a championship weekend that didn’t embody a Huge 12 model on the time, the Horned Frogs huddled up in Fort Price nervous over what the School Soccer Playoff Choice Committee would do within the very first version of the brand new postseason construction. They sat No. 3 within the rankings coming into the week however knew Ohio State was lurking within the weeds after placing on one of the crucial spectacular exhibits of power in a convention title recreation in latest reminiscence.
Such fears finally proved true. TCU wound up out of the inaugural CFP and one of many unique BCS busters was haunted for years to return by one other “what if” that was added to the ledger of their checkered historical past of disappointment. The Huge 12 underwent an existential disaster in consequence, finally reinstating the Championship Recreation as a technique to forestall simply such a state of affairs from occurring once more.
In a merciless twist of irony, nonetheless, the Horned Frogs discover themselves proper again in an analogous spot all these years later due to the very recreation they’d a hand in creating, their undefeated season slipping from their fingers in time beyond regulation at AT&T Stadium on Saturday afternoon due to a pesky Kansas State squad notching a 31-28 OT win that handed the Wildcats the Huge 12 title within the course of.
TCU now strikes on to extra urgent issues because it waits to see what occurs in a convention room 33 miles northeast of campus, because the Choice Committee once more debates the deserves of a one-loss Huge 12 program making it into the ultimate 4 after failing to go away any doubt of their worthiness with an undisputed league title of their again pocket.
The Horned Frogs have been sharp early, taking their preliminary possession of the sport from inside their very own 10 all the best way all the way down to pay grime 92 yards away. Quarterback Max Duggan was six of seven to open the sport, dropping one into Quentin Johnston’s arms for an enormous 53-yard achieve earlier than side-arming it to Taye Barber for a brief landing go.
Kansas State would mount an aggressive, fast response. After forcing a missed area aim, the offense took benefit of fine area place by needing simply six performs to seek out the tip zone — scoring on a fourth-down go to Ben Sinnott to please the appropriately shaded purple-clad followers who made the journey to North Texas.
The Wildcats later took the lead on one other quick area, needing simply three performs to drive 59 yards earlier than Will Howard pulled it on the keeper to go untouched throughout the aim line.
Regardless of just a few nervy moments within the second quarter although, Sonny Dykes’ protection would begin to stiffen up as the sport moved alongside. They recorded a pair of stops earlier than halftime whereas the offense chipped into the lead with a late area aim within the ultimate minute earlier than the break.
And that’s when issues obtained bizarre … as they have a tendency to do when one sideline prominently contains a “Hypnotoad” and has confirmed able to getting back from down double-digits in almost each recreation in 2022.
Duggan, making his forty first profession begin for the college, had his first drive of the third quarter technically finish in a punt after an incomplete go on third down. Nonetheless, the play was a fraction of an inch away from being a security after it was knocked out of his forward-moving hand and later recovered ultimately zone for an preliminary security.
The Wildcats didn’t catch a break on the decision however did show that the ball doesn’t lie in such conditions, needing simply 4 performs earlier than Howard delivered a dart throughout the center to R.J. Garcia II.
Following a defensive cease and threatening to run away with issues, nonetheless, KSU muffed the following punt return. Trent Battle recovered it and handed TCU the ball simply 10 yards away from the crimson zone in opposition territory. Three performs later, tailback Kendre Miller (who rushed for 82 yards and a landing on 17 carries) minimize the result in 4 after bursting into the tip zone.
But Deuce Vaughn would have his say.
The diminutive Okay-State working again bobbed and weaved his method for an ankle-breaking 44-yard landing early within the 4th quarter. He wound up with a game-high 130 yards speeding on the day as nicely, serving to ship this system its first convention crown since 2012 when present offensive coordinator Collin Klein was the massive man on campus.
Duggan, maybe incomes just a few Heisman Trophy votes alongside the best way, would show he had no stop, placing the staff on his again as he had so many instances earlier than this season. Dashing or passing on all however one play, the veteran signal-caller ushered his staff into the tip zone as a part of a exceptional eight-play drive that coated each little bit of 80 yards. A two-point conversion to Jared Wiley tied the sport as much as cap off one other livid second-half comeback for Dykes’ crew within the coach’s first 12 months in cost.
But it was to not be ultimately, as Duggan was denied twice on the doorstep within the further body earlier than Miller was stuffed on fourth down. The turnover on downs finally allowed Ty Zentner’s 31-yard area aim to separate the uprights and ship an inconceivable Huge 12 championship for Chris Klieman and firm.
The thrilling conclusion, mixed with No. 4 USC’s loss to Utah within the Pac-12 Championship Recreation the night time prior, makes for a far messier Playoff image than when the week started.
No. 5 Ohio State, which was off and sitting with one loss to undefeated Michigan seven days in the past, is sort of assuredly set to maneuver into the highest 4 with a résumé that boasts the No. 2 scoring offense within the nation, No. 13 scoring protection, a high 10 win over Penn State and one other high quality victory over No. 21 Notre Dame.
The larger query the committee should debate over the approaching 24 hours is, barring mass surprises within the SEC and Huge Ten championship video games, whether or not TCU has achieved sufficient to make it into the sector regardless of shedding to a staff it already beat — or if No. 6 Alabama has proven sufficient to leapfrog them simply because the Buckeyes did again in 2014.
“I think so. I mean you look at their strength of schedule. You think about how they’ve performed all year long,” Huge 12 Commissioner Brett Yormark mentioned of the Horned Frogs making it into the Playoff earlier than the sport. “I think regardless they should be in, for sure.”
That may be a query out of TCU’s fingers in the intervening time as they embark on one other nervous Sunday of ready round to seek out out their destiny.
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Bryan Fischer is a school soccer author for FOX Sports activities. He has been protecting faculty athletics for almost twenty years at shops resembling NBC Sports activities, CBS Sports activities, Yahoo! Sports activities and NFL.com amongst others. Observe him on Twitter at @BryanDFischer.
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