They met their end in overtime after Duggan was stopped just short of the goal line on a second-down run and Kendre Miller was stuffed just short on consecutive runs up the middle, the final one coming when linebacker Daniel Green and nose guard Eli Huggins met Miller in the hole, sending the Kansas State defense dancing off the field.
On the ensuing possession, Kansas State picked up one first down before kicker Ty Zentner’s 31-yard field goal bisected the uprights, kicking off a jubilant Kansas State celebration and leaving TCU to plead its case to the committee.
“Our hope is not to have to rely on a beauty contest,” TCU Coach Sonny Dykes said. “Our hope is to kick the door down and that we’re Big 12 champs and there’s no discussion about it.”
There has always been something unsatisfactory about how the college football season ends. In the 1990 season, Georgia Tech and Colorado split the national championship, and then Washington and Miami did the same the next year, followed by Michigan and Nebraska six years later. That begot the Bowl Championship Series, pitting the two top-ranked teams against each other.
That gave way to a four-team playoff beginning with the 2014 season.
In fact, the semifinals have rarely been compelling. Nine of the 16 total semifinal matchups have been decided by 20 or more points — and only two, Georgia’s double-overtime defeat of Oklahoma after the 2017 season and Clemson’s comeback against Ohio State in 2019, have gone to the wire.
It is rare that the playoff includes a plucky interloper.
Cincinnati acquitted itself well last year in a loss to Alabama, and though TCU is a member of a more august conference, the Big 12, there are still raw feelings from the first year of the playoff when the Horned Frogs’ only defeat — 61- 58 at Baylor — was enough to keep them out of the playoff. Baylor, whose only loss was at West Virginia, was also frozen out — in part because the Big 12 did not have a championship game.
“The Big 12 in a different place than it was then,” Dykes said. “I think they’re going to see it different, but at the same time you don’t know. I’m obviously concerned, but I have faith in the committee.”
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