Dec 31, 2022; Glendale, Arizona, USA; TCU Horned Frogs wide receiver Quentin Johnston (1) runs after a catch in the second quarter against the Michigan Wolverines of the 2022 Fiesta Bowl at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

TCU WR Quentin Johnston, RB Kendre Miller declare for draft

TCU wide receiver Quentin Johnston and running back Kendre Miller, who helped Max Duggan lead the Horned Frogs to the national championship game, both declared for the 2023 NFL Draft on Monday.

Johnston is considered among the top prospects at his position. Miller projects as a mid-to-late-round pick. Both were juniors in 2022.

The 6-foot-4, 215-pound Johnston caught 60 passes for 1,069 yards and six touchdowns in 2022, including a six-catch, 163-yard performance with a 76-yard touchdown against Michigan in the Horned Frogs’ semifinal win at the Fiesta Bowl.

In three seasons at TCU, Johnston had 115 receptions for 2,190 yards and 14 touchdowns. He added two rushing touchdowns.

Miller, a 6-foot, 220-pound back, was TCU’s starting running back in 2022 and racked up 1,399 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns, ranking third and second in the Big 12, respectively. He was unable to play against Georgia in TCU’s national title game loss due to a knee injury.

“Our locker room was special and a big reason why this season was legendary,” Miller said in a video posted to Instagram. “We will forever be brothers and a team. We will be forever remembered as champions.”

–Field Level Media

Jan 9, 2023; Inglewood, CA, USA; Georgia Bulldogs defensive back Christopher Smith (29) celebrates after defensive back Javon Bullard (22) made an interception against the TCU Horned Frogs during the second quarter of the CFP national championship game at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

No. 1 Georgia manhandles No. 3 TCU for second straight national title

Stetson Bennett passed for four touchdowns and rushed for two and top-ranked Georgia won its second straight national title by steamrolling No. 3 TCU 65-7 in the College Football Playoff championship game at Inglewood, Calif.

Bennett completed 18 of 25 passes for 304 yards and finished his career with a 29-3 record as a starter as the Bulldogs (15-0) trampled the Horned Frogs (13-2) from the outset. Bennett’s six total touchdowns match the mark set by LSU’s Joe Burrow in 2020 for most during the nine-season CFP era.

Brock Bowers caught seven passes for 152 yards and one touchdown and Ladd McConkey had five receptions for 88 yards and two scores for Georgia. Branson Robinson rushed for two scores, Kendall Milton added one and Adonai Mitchell had a touchdown grab for the Bulldogs, who outgained TCU 589-188.

Georgia’s Javon Bullard had three takeaways before intermission with two interceptions and one fumble recovery before missing the second half with a shoulder injury.

Heisman Trophy runner-up Max Duggan was 14-of-22 passing for 152 yards and two interceptions for TCU, which was unable to match up with the Bulldogs. Derius Davis caught five passes for 101 yards.

Standout Horned Frogs running back Kendre Miller (knee) missed the game after being injured during the CFP semifinal win over Michigan on Dec. 31.

The Bulldogs wasted no time asserting themselves as Bennett ran 21 yards for a touchdown less than four minutes into the game and Jack Podlesny added a 24-yard field goal with 6:51 left in the opening period.

TCU showed life when Duggan scored on a 2-yard run with 4:45 remaining before Georgia scored the game’s final 55 points.

Bennett drilled a 37-yard scoring pass to McConkey with 2:43 left in the first quarter, and ran 6 yards for another score to make it 24-7 with 8:30 left in the half.

The next two Bulldogs’ touchdowns followed interceptions by Bullard. The first set up Milton’s 1-yard run with 1:19 left and the other came two plays before Bennett hit Mitchell for a 22-yard score with 26 seconds remaining for a 38-7 halftime lead.

Bennett connected on a 22-yard touchdown pass to Bowers with 10:52 remaining in the third quarter. He added a 14-yard scoring pass to McConkey with 2:17 left in the period and Robinson later added two scoring runs.

Bulldogs coach Kirby Smart called timeout with 13:25 remaining in the contest to remove Bennett and give him a curtain call from the Georgia faithful. Bennett, a former walk-on, finished fourth in the Heisman balloting this season.

The Bulldogs defeated Alabama 33-18 in last season’s title game.

–Field Level Media

Dec 31, 2022; Glendale, Arizona, USA; TCU Horned Frogs offensive lineman Wes Harris (78) celebrates a touchdown with quarterback Max Duggan (15) against the Michigan Wolverines during the 2022 Fiesta Bowl at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

TCU pushing through fatigue with possible championship in sight

As the TCU Horned Frogs make final preparations to take on the Georgia Bulldogs in the College Football Playoff (CFP) championship game Monday night, the question of fatigue is front of mind.

The 13-1 Horned Frogs, coming off a taxing 51-45 victory over Michigan in the semifinals, have been asked repeatedly about finding enough gas left in the tank for what on paper appears to be an even bigger challenge in Georgia, the defending national champion.

First-year head coach Sonny Dykes knows that the grind of the season, while not a challenge unique to his team, is still something that needs to be overcome Monday.

He hopes that thoughtful management of workload all season will pay dividends against Georgia (14-0).

“Look, we’re getting ready to play our 15th ball game. I think this is 22 consecutive weeks that our players have been practicing,” Dykes said. “It’s been a grind. It’s a long process. There’s lots of factors to consider, not only physical health but mental health as well when it comes to that type of grind with 18- to 22-year-old kids and the emotional toll and mental health toll that it can take on them.

“These guys are preparing to take big ball games but they’re also preparing to take final exams. And they’re also dealing with issues off the field with family and friends and all the different things that these young men are exposed to on a daily basis. So it can be a very complicated thing. And we’ve got to do the very best we can to look after not only our players mentally but also physically and their mental health because that’s the most important thing at the end of the day.”

The biggest personnel question for the Frogs entering the game might be the status of star tailback Kendre Miller, who suffered a knee sprain early on against Michigan and is questionable to play.

Miller, who still managed to gain 57 yards on over seven yards a carry before exiting, could provide the TCU offense a jolt if he can go.

“We’ll get a really good sense of what he can and can’t do today, and then make a decision going into tomorrow,” Dykes said. “When you start talking about a knee and a sprained knee and the things that go along with that, potentially, then you’ve got to be very, very careful.

“And obviously Kendre is going to want to play. It’s a big stage. He’s a tough kid. But he’s a young man and our job is to take care of him and make sure that we don’t just see Monday night, that we see the big picture as far as taking care of Kendre’s health and in doing the right thing for him.”

If the country is hoping for a clue as to TCU’s likely response to dealing with adversity or exhaustion, the team’s comeback against Kansas State in the Big 12 championship game might provide some context.

Despite playing in their eleventh game in 11 weeks and facing an 11-point fourth quarter deficit, a visibly exhausted Max Duggan led the Horned Frogs on two scoring drives, pacing the team with big plays on the ground to tie the game and send things to overtime.

The Heisman Trophy runner-up, Duggan again made several big plays versus Michigan a week ago and figures to be among a group of players who understand the opportunity in front of them, having already shocked the nation by even reaching this point.

“You look around college athletics and look at the NCAA basketball tournament, and you see teams that you don’t expect to be there, end up in the top eight or Final Four. That’s something that’s an annual occurrence these days,” Dykes said. “You know, college football is different. It just is. There’s a lot of plays that go into that game. There’s a lot of players. Instead of five guys and one or two guys get really hot, you’ve got to have an entire team doing it and execute at a high level. So I do think it’s more difficult to kind of emerge from the shadows in football than it is maybe in basketball.

“Our group has had a little bit of a magical ride … Our guys were hungry and they were mature. They had a chip on their shoulder. And they bought in quickly.”

Whether that winning culture ultimately results in another win Monday or not, Dykes sees the opportunity that the stage presents.

“There’s some doors open to us now, because of this success, that have been closed for a long time. And it’s up to us to figure out how to reap the benefits from — when it comes to recruiting, the opportunity to recruit a different kind of player, when it comes to the opportunity to have access to staff members and additional staff and just all the things that can help you take the next step as a program.

“It’s been a journey to get here. But we’re excited about not only Monday night, but where do we go from here, and how can we continue to build our brand from a national standpoint.”

–Field Level Media

Michigan running back Donovan Edwards (7) runs against Purdue during the second half of the Big Ten Championship game at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Ind., on Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022.

No. 3 TCU expects No. 2 Michigan to run ‘no matter what’ in semifinal

Michigan finds itself in the same spot as last year’s bowl season – preparing for the College Football Playoff semifinals. The No. 2 Wolverines will have a very different opponent as they attempt to advance to the title game.

They were bullied by Georgia’s uber-talented defense in the Orange Bowl a year ago, losing 34-11. At the Fiesta Bowl on New Year’s Eve this year, they’re more concerned about No. 3 TCU’s high-powered offense, engineered by the Heisman Trophy runner-up.

The survivor of the semifinal game in Glendale, Ariz. will advance to face the Georgia-Ohio State victor in the national championship game at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California on Jan. 9.

TCU’s Max Duggan, who recently declared he’ll enter his name in the NFL draft, passed for 3,321 yards and 30 touchdowns with just four interceptions this season. He added six rushing touchdowns as the Horned Frogs (12-1) remained undefeated until an overtime loss to Kansas State in the Big 12 championship game.

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh labels TCU’s offense a “scoring machine” with Duggan at the controls.

“Nothing but tremendous respect for the type of competitor that he is. And it’s going to be a huge challenge getting ready for a quarterback like that,” Harbaugh said.

TCU averages 40.3 points per game, sixth-best in the nation. While Duggan spreads the ball around, the Horned Frogs have relied upon Kendre Miller in the running game. He’s rushed for 1,342 yards and 17 touchdowns.

“They’re just balanced with the pass and a running game,” Wolverines linebacker Michael Barrett said. “They’re really good at both. It’s going to be a good test for our defense on all levels.”

Horned Frogs Sonny Dykes knows that if his team prevails, it will likely be a high-scoring affair.

“One thing that we have to do is rely on our strengths, which is speed and the ability to get the ball down the field,” he said in a radio interview with 105.3 The Fan. “We’re going to have to take shots and we’re going to have to make contested plays.”

The Horned Frogs will try to pull that off against a Wolverines unit tied for fourth in scoring defense, third in rushing defense and fifth in passing yards per attempt.

“I just think they’re so well-coached and they play so well on both sides of the ball,” Duggan said. “They fly around, they know what they want to do and they do it so well. It’s going to make our job tough.”

Dykes revived TCU’s program in his first season as head coach. The Horned Frogs haven’t even gone to a bowl game the past three seasons.

The Wolverines (13-0) have already set a school record for most victories in a season. They’re looking to finish undefeated for the first time since 1997, when they won a share of the national championship. Back then, it was still decided by polls.

Michigan won’t have its No. 1 running back, Blake Corum, who underwent knee surgery earlier this month. Donovan Edwards has proved to be much more than a capable backup.

Edwards rushed for 216 yards and two touchdowns against arch-rival Ohio State, then posted 185 yards and a touchdown in the Big Ten championship against Purdue.

“You have to try to match their physicality,” Dykes said. “You’ve got to play tough, You’ve got to be able to stop the run. Michigan is one of the few teams in college football that will run the ball no matter what.”

Quarterback J.J. McCarthy threw for a combined six touchdowns against the Buckeyes and Boilermakers. He’s only been intercepted three times.

“I don’t think there’s anyone better,” Harbaugh said. “Our guy, he just never gets flustered.”

–Field Level Media

Dec 3, 2022; Arlington, TX, USA; TCU Horned Frogs quarterback Max Duggan (15) runs down the sidelines for a first down against the Kansas State Wildcats during the second half at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

TCU QB Max Duggan declares for NFL draft, will play in CFP

TCU quarterback Max Duggan, who led the Horned Frogs to a 12-1 record and the program’s first berth in the College Football Playoff, announced Sunday night that he will enter the 2023 NFL Draft.

The Heisman finalist will play in the CFP before he bids farewell to TCU. The No. 3 Horned Frogs will battle No. 2 Michigan in the Fiesta Bowl in one semifinal game Dec. 31. The winning side will advance to the national title game against No. 1 Georgia or No. 4 Ohio State.

“Being a student athlete at TCU has been the greatest experience of my life,” Duggan wrote in a lengthy social media post. “It has helped me develop as a football player, earn a degree and become a better man.

“My experience at TCU and, in turn, Amon G. Carter Stadium has been filled with great memories, passion and pride. I have learned many lessons through the highs and the lows. I’ve built lifelong relationships that will last forever. …

“In light of my appreciation, I will be declaring for the 2023 NFL Draft. But first, we still have business to take care of.”

Duggan began the 2022 season by losing a quarterback competition to teammate Chandler Morris, but when Morris went down with an injury, Duggan took his second chance and ran with it.

Duggan has completed 64.9 percent of his passes for 3,321 yards, 30 touchdowns and just four interceptions. He’s added 404 rushing yards and six scores on the ground.

The surprise season led Duggan to finish runner-up to Southern California quarterback Caleb Williams for the Heisman Trophy. He received 188 first-place votes and a total of 1,420 points on the ballot but was a distant second to Williams.

Behind Duggan, TCU went 12-0 in the regular season before losing to Kansas State in overtime in the Big 12 title game.

In four seasons at TCU, Duggan has amassed 9,241 passing yards, 71 touchdown passes and another 25 touchdowns rushing.

–Field Level Media

Nov 5, 2022; Fort Worth, Texas, USA; TCU Horned Frogs head coach Sonny Dykes walks on the sidelines during the second half of a game against the Texas Tech Red Raiders at Amon G. Carter Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Raymond Carlin III-USA TODAY Sports

No. 4 TCU, No. 18 Texas square off in titanic Big 12 matchup

No. 4 TCU puts its undefeated season and shot at a spot in the College Football Playoff on the line when it plays dangerous but enigmatic No. 18 Texas on Saturday in a titanic Big 12 Conference dustup in Austin, Texas.

The Longhorns opened as a 6 1/2-point favorite to beat TCU despite the Horned Frogs’ lofty ranking as one of the top four teams in the CFP rankings, Texas’ three losses and TCU’s recent success in the series.

TCU climbed from seventh to fourth in the CFP ranking that was released Tuesday. The Horned Frogs (9-0, 6-0 Big 12) are one of just four undefeated teams in FBS, with their latest outing producing a 34-24 victory at home over Texas Tech.

TCU trailed 17-13 heading to the fourth quarter but went to the front and then cemented the game with 21 unanswered points. Quarterback Max Duggan was 12-of-23 passing for 195 yards and two touchdowns. Derius Davis had an 82-yard punt return for a score and caught a 23-yard pass for another TD, and Kendre Miller racked up 158 yards rushing and a touchdown in the win for TCU.

The Horned Frogs played without big-play receiver Quentin Johnston because of an ankle injury.

“The great thing about this team is they’ve got a lot of confidence,” TCU coach Sonny Dykes said. “They feel if we can get the game into the second half with a chance to win, we’re going to figure out how to do it.”

Four of TCU’s wins are against teams it lost to by at least two scores last season, including three by at least three scores. This is the first time the Horned Frogs are 9-0 since 2010 when they finished 13-0 and won the Rose Bowl.

TCU’s four victories this season over ranked opponents is second nationally, trailing only Tennessee’s five.

“I think in some ways, you know, we might have exceeded expectations up to this point — externally,” Dykes said. “I don’t know that we have internally. I don’t know that anybody (in our building) is really that surprised.”

Texas (6-3, 4-2 Big 12) bounced back from a road loss to Oklahoma State and an open week to beat then-No. 13 Kansas State 34-27 on Nov. 5. Bijan Robinson ran for 209 yards and a TD and caught two passes for 34 yards and Xavier Worthy had two TD catches in the win.

The Longhorns defeated Kansas State for the sixth straight time, snapped a five-game road losing streak and rose six spots from 24th in the initial CFP rankings. Texas led 31-10 after a dominating first half and barely held on, forcing a Kansas State fumble on a potential game-tying drive in the final minute.

“I think our guys are going to prepare really well,” Texas coach Steve Sarkisian said. “I think they saw a lot of value in their preparation last week, not only in meetings but on the practice field in the recovery, and we’re going to need that again this week as we get ready to play.”

The Horned Frogs have owned Texas since they joined the Big 12 in 2012, winning seven of the 10 games with the Longhorns and four of the five that have been played in Austin.

“We haven’t beaten the Top-5 team here in DKR since 1999 so it’s a great opportunity for us to hopefully prepare well and play well,” Sarkisian said. “We are looking forward to an electric and a great intimidating environment.”

–Field Level Media

Oct 15, 2022; Fort Worth, Texas, USA; TCU Horned Frogs quarterback Max Duggan (15) warms up prior to a game against the Oklahoma State Cowboys at Amon G. Carter Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Raymond Carlin III-USA TODAY Sports

No. 8 TCU, No. 17 Kansas State clash in key Big 12 showdown

TCU quarterback Max Duggan is playing such a good brand of football that even the school’s men’s basketball coach has noticed.

“Max is doing really special things this year, and it is amazing to watch,” Jamie Dixon said.

That was before Duggan led the Horned Frogs back from a 30-16, fourth-quarter deficit last week to stop Big 12 foe Oklahoma State 43-40 in double overtime, allowing TCU to stay unbeaten.

This week, Duggan and No. 8 TCU host another ranked team when No. 17 Kansas State visits Fort Worth, Texas, on Saturday night for another marquee Big 12 clash.

Duggan had some good moments during the previous three seasons for the Horned Frogs (6-0, 3-0 Big 12), but nothing quite like this. Through six games, he has completed 69.5 percent of his passes for 1,591 yards with a 16-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio.

Against Oklahoma State, Duggan found Jared Wiley for a game-tying, 10-yard touchdown pass with 1:57 left in regulation, then connected with Quentin Johnston for a 25-yard score to start overtime. After the Cowboys rallied with a touchdown and then a field goal on their possession in the second overtime, Kendre Miller sealed the outcome with a 2-yard touchdown run.

It was yet another notch in the belt of the senior QB who lost his starting job before the season opener at Colorado but regained it when Chandler Morris sprained his left knee. Duggan appears to be in no danger of giving the reins back anytime soon.

“Max Duggan continues to play as good a football as any quarterback I’ve ever been around,” first-year TCU coach Sonny Dykes said.

Duggan is getting help. Miller is on pace to rush for more than 1,150 yards, while Johnston could eclipse 1,000 yards receiving. That helps explain why the Horned Frogs rank third in FBS in scoring at 45.8 points per game.

Meanwhile, Kansas State (5-1, 3-0) is coming off an open date after squeaking past Iowa State 10-9 on Oct. 8 in Ames, Iowa. Since a 17-10 loss on Sept. 17 to Tulane, now ranked 25th, the Wildcats have logged close wins over Oklahoma, Texas Tech and the Cyclones.

Those results took a lot out of Kansas State physically, but coach Chris Klieman and some of his players feel the bye week came at just the right time.

“I think a lot of people will be coming back rejuvenated,” Wildcats nose guard Eli Huggins said. “It was just a good break, physically and mentally, to get away from it for a second.”

It’s back to the grind for the Wildcats. The good news is they have a quarterback capable of matching Duggan bullet for bullet if this becomes a shootout. Nebraska transfer Adrian Martinez accounted for 323 total yards at Iowa State, including an 81-yard touchdown pass to Phillip Brooks two minutes into the game.

Martinez has thrown 138 passes without an interception this season, completing 62.3 percent of them, and is on pace to rush for 1,000 yards for the first time in his five years.

Kansas State owns an 8-7 edge on TCU in the all-time series, including a 31-12 win last year in Manhattan, Kan.

–Field Level Media

Nov 20, 2021; Boulder, Colorado, USA; Colorado Buffaloes head coach Karl Dorrell before the game against the Washington Huskies  at Folsom Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Colorado, TCU each open season with QB choices to make

After weeks of training camp and evaluating players at every position, Colorado and TCU are going into battle Friday night with an air of mystery.

Both schools have capable quarterbacks but neither head coach will reveal who will start the opener for both teams.

So, the first-ever game between the schools will have some added anticipation attached to Friday’s meeting in Boulder, Colo.

The Buffaloes have two candidates to start Friday. Brendon Lewis is the incumbent but J.T. Shrout was ready to lead the Colorado offense last year before a knee injury in camp ended his season. He transferred to the Buffaloes in January 2021 after three seasons with Tennessee, but he did not play as a true freshman.

While Lewis is quicker and has more running ability, Shrout has the stronger arm.

“We feel good that they kind of feed off each other,” Colorado coach Karl Dorrell said. “They understand what we’re trying to do from a game plan standpoint. Just like I told them, they’re both going to play.”

Dorrell is in his third year at Colorado while Horned Frogs head coach Sonny Dykes is in his first season with the program. This will be his 13th year as a head coach, with the last five at SMU where he was 30-18, including an 8-4 mark in 2021.

Dykes takes over for Gary Patterson, who led TCU for nearly 21 years, a 2010 Rose Bowl win and a shared Big 12 title in 2014.

The new coach’s first big decision is choosing between three-year starter Max Duggan and Chandler Morris, who played four games last season and led the Horned Frogs to an upset of then-No. 12 Baylor.

“For us it was a very important decision to make, and it’s a decision we needed more evidence to be able to make it,” Dykes said. “I felt like if you put on the Baylor game last year and watched Chandler play in that game, you’d go, ‘Well, this guy has to be a starting quarterback.’”

–Field Level Media

Kansas quarterback Jalon Daniels (6) carries the ball forward in overtime during the game against the Kansas Jayhawks on Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021.  Kansas won 57-56 in overtime.

Mlc Ut V Kansas 2509

Coming off shocking upset, Kansas visits banged-up TCU

The stunning upset Kansas pulled off at Texas led to a difficult decision on the status of a key performer.

The Jayhawks (2-8, 1-6 Big 12) will now retain Jalon Daniels for the remainder of the season and not redshirt the player who engineered the overtime win that snapped a 56-game Big 12 road losing streak and an 18-game losing streak overall in conference play.

Daniels, who has played four games after being summoned because of injuries, will be in the lineup Saturday when Kansas faces TCU (4-6, 2-5) at Fort Worth, Texas. That will put him over the redshirt limit of games played.

“He sees the momentum of what this team is doing, what it’s done for our locker room,” first-year Kansas coach Lance Leipold said. “He’s all in to help us build the program, and he wants to play.”

Devin Neal impressed Leipold enough for him not to press a freshman redshirt and instead play the prize recruit in the Jayhawks’ 2021 class. Neal recorded 143 yards rushing and three touchdowns in the Texas win. Kwamie Lassiter had eight catches as Kansas enjoyed a rare day where skill players performed consistently well across the board.

Can the Jayhawks play at that level against TCU? Perhaps.

The Horned Frogs could not build on an upset over Baylor on Nov. 6 and will be coming off a humiliating 46-point loss at Oklahoma State, allowing 682 total yards in their worst defeat since 1993.

Defending the pass has been a significant challenge for TCU, which allows a league-worst 9.5 yards per attempt. Offensively, TCU scored its only touchdowns in the final quarter of the Oklahoma State blowout and converted just 2 of 13 third downs.

The Frogs hope Chandler Morris regains the form he showed in his first start, when he totaled 531 yards against Baylor. Morris should play against Kansas, but not at 100 percent, said interim coach Jerry Kill, who provided a grim injury report. Max Duggan, TCU’s regular quarterback, could be available too, but is dealing with a broken foot.

Elsewhere on offense, Kill said “we don’t have a running back that is healthy,” noting ailments bothering Zach Evans, Kendre Miller and Emari Demercado. A converted defender, Ahmonte Watkins, could get carries.

“We’re decimated by injuries,” said Kill, a Kansas native. “I mean, there’s no excuses. I’ve never had (an excuse) in my life, so you’ve got to find a way to get it done. But I’ve never seen anything like it and it continues to get worse.”

–Field Level Media

Oct 16, 2021; Waco, Texas, USA; Brigham Young Cougars wide receiver Hobbs Nyberg (23) is brought down by the Baylor Bears defense during the second half at McLane Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

First test for TCU post-Gary Patterson is No. 14 Baylor

TCU and No. 14 Baylor will renew an old rivalry Saturday under anything but normal circumstances.

The surging Bears head to Fort Worth looking to collect their fourth win in a row. They will take on a Horned Frogs’ team under new leadership for the first time in 21 years after the school and longtime coach Gary Patterson mutually parted ways on Sunday.

TCU (3-5, 1-4 Big 12) is on a three-game skid that has dropped the Horned Frogs to ninth place in the standings. The last loss, a 31-12 setback at Kansas State, prompted a meeting Sunday that ended with Patterson walking away from a program he has guided since 2000.

Jerry Kill, a former head coach at Minnesota and Northern Illinois and a longtime friend of Patterson, will be the interim coach the rest of the season.

“I think the kids here respect me,” said Kill, who joined the TCU program as a consultant last season. “I’ve been around them enough, we’ve got a good game plan and we’ll go to work (Tuesday) and get after them. Nobody’s going to be Gary Patterson. I don’t claim to be Gary Patterson.”

On the other side of the field on Saturday, the Bears (7-1, 4-1) will focus on continuing what has propelled them into the hunt for a spot in the conference championship game.

Baylor owns the Big 12’s second-best offense, averaging 465.5 yards a game, and third-stingiest defense (339.4 yards allowed per game). Abram Smith has rushed for 930 yards and 11 touchdowns (116.3 yards per game), while quarterback Gerry Bohannon has been a major key with 1,753 passing yards, 12 touchdowns and only three interceptions in 203 pass attempts.

As effective as the Bears’ offense has been, defense has been at the eye of the storm — especially the last three weeks against foes with dangerous running attacks. Facing West Virginia’s Leddie Brown, Tyler Allgeier from BYU and Texas star Bijan Robinson, Baylor has been tough-as-nails — surrendering 120 yards total to that trio.

With running the ball a chore, the Bears’ foes have been forced to lean on the pass, and Baylor has recorded 13 sacks in the same three-game span.

“Change is different, especially when you’re pass-rushing to play the run, and now you play the run to get the opportunity to rush the passer,” second-year Baylor coach Dave Aranda said.

“The buy-in, the work, the grinding, has got it to where we’re winning the line of scrimmage.”

Those little battles have been tough for TCU in Big 12 play, where the Horned Frogs’ only victory is a 52-31 decision against Texas Tech.

The Horned Frogs’ defense — which was what Patterson built his legacy on — has been gashed for 443.3 total yards a game. Until last week, five foes in a row had rushed for 214 yards or more and each of the last four has thrown for 242 yards or more.

The abrupt change makes any wholesale changes difficult, but Kill said he and the remaining staff will focus on finding ways to help TCU get back on track.

“We’re not stopping trying to help TCU,” Kill said. “That would not be fair to Gary. We’ve got to carry on his legacy. … Everybody thinks everybody is out looking for a job, but that’s not happening right now. We are working. If you work and you do well, then if you’re out of a job, you get a job a lot quicker, if you’re doing your job here.”

–Field Level Media