Championship Saturday, one of the best Saturdays in all of college football, started with the Big 12 title game. A rematch between the tenth-ranked K-State Wildcats and the undefeated, third-ranked TCU Horned Frogs. The Wildcats came out on top 31-28 thanks to a game-winning field goal from Ty Zentner in OT. This is the third Big 12 title in K-State history. Let’s break down what happened and where the tide turned for K-State to walk away as conference champions.
K-State Controlled The Run Game
The last time these two teams met, the Wildcats played well until the second half. TCU won their first matchup 38-28 thanks to scoring the game’s last 28 points. TCU also controlled the run game thanks to 152 rushing yards and two touchdowns from Kendre Miller. The Wildcats struggled to get much production in the second half in their own run game, which was a huge problem.
Fast forward to now, the Wildcats and running back Deuce Vaughn destroyed TCU’s defense. Vaughn finished with 130 rushing yards and a touchdown to help lead the Wildcats. While the defense might have allowed TCU quarterback Max Duggan to run for 115 yards, Vaughn’s production was a crucial piece in the win.
K-State Defense Showed Up In The Clutch
Did the Wildcats’ defense allow 28 points? Yes, but they also limited the TCU offense in many ways. Holding Max Duggan to 18 for 36 passing on 251 yards and one touchdown is a success. They let Duggan rush for 110 yards, but in the end, they kept the passing game mostly quiet.
The biggest play of the game came in overtime. TCU had the ball inside the one-yard line multiple times but K-State stood tall and stuffed Kendre Miller from scoring. The lone interception that K-State forced was huge as well considering it ended a TCU drive. An interception in the endzone by Julius Brents ended the third quarter and the Horned Frogs’ drive. Give this Wildcat’s defense credit considering TCU will likely be in the CFP despite the loss.
Injuries And Depth Were Issues For Both Teams
Both TCU and K-State were winded and without key players by the end of the game. The Wildcats lost their top receiver Malik Knowles and cornerback Ekow Boye-Doe. Duggan was gassed from multiple run plays to force OT and TCU was missing several players at multiple positions. The ultimate takeaway here, the Wildcats had the better depth chart this time around.
TCU’s CFP Spot Should Stay The Same
Despite the impressive win to give TCU their first loss, the Wildcat’s win might not change a whole lot in the grand scheme. Sure K-State will get a better bowl game but that is about it. TCU entered this weekend undefeated so a loss to a top-ten team they beat earlier in the season, means hardly anything. TCU is still projected to hold the number three CFP spot.
According to Jerry Palm from CBS Sports, TCU had already secured their CFP spot well before kickoff. It also helps that TCU has the resume to where they could’ve been the number one seed if Georgia and Michigan both lost. K-State definitely made the committee’s job more difficult but overall, the Horned Frog’s CFP hopes are still very much alive.
This was one of the more impressive wins on Championship Saturday. The “underdog” Wildcats went down to Texas and beat the undefeated Horned Frogs. The Wildcats’ grit, domination in the run game, and determination on defense got them a big win. Winning the Big 12 title puts the Wildcats in the Sugar Bowl against a high-profile opponent likely out of the SEC. A date with someone like Alabama would be one hell of a way to end the season for this K-State team that has played well all year long.
Congratulations to the Wildcats for this big win. As the K-State fans always say…EMAW.