Texas Tech's running back Tahj Brooks (28) runs with the ball against TCU in a Big 12 football game, Thursday, Nov. 2, 2023, at Jones AT&T Stadium.

Texas Tech builds cushion, then fends off TCU

Texas Tech topped visiting TCU 35-28 in a back-and-forth Big 12 shootout Thursday night in Lubbock, Texas.

Two teams desperate for a victory played like it Thursday, as Texas Tech constructed a healthy first-half cushion and refused to blink when TCU staged a second-half rally.

Red Raiders quarterback Behren Morton returned to the lineup with 282 yards and two touchdowns on 28-of-36 passing. Tahj Brooks was huge with 146 rushing yards and a TD, and cornerback Dadrion Taylor-Demerson anchored a feisty Red Raider defensive effort with a pair of interceptions, the second with 55 seconds left in the game to slam the door.

Texas Tech (4-5, 3-3 Big 12) scored back-to-back touchdowns after the Horned Frogs erased a halftime deficit and grabbed a 21-20 lead.

Taylor-Demerson set up the go-ahead score when he swiped a pass from Josh Hoover late in the third quarter and returned it to the TCU 16-yard line. Two plays later, Brooks crashed in for a 9-yard touchdown.

Texas Tech’s defense forced the first Horned Frogs punt of the second half on the ensuing possession and the offense provided some breathing room with a quick three-play, 92-yard scoring drive. Morton connected with Xavier White for 39 yards, then hit Drae McCray for a 44-yard touchdown bomb on a deep post pattern.

TCU (4-5, 2-4) clawed back within a touchdown with a long drive that ended with Trey Sanders plowing in from the 1-yard-line with 4:54 to play.

The Horned Frogs got the ball one last time in the final minutes and were on the move, advancing from their 12-yard-line to the 44 when Taylor-Demerson snared his second pick.

TCU’s offense came alive to help them scramble back into the game after trailing 20-7 at halftime.

The Horned Frogs managed only 140 total yards in the opening 30 minutes and punted four times. Texas Tech took advantage with a boost from special teams: The Red Raiders got a 55-yard field goal from Gino Garcia, which Myles Price helped set up with a 29-yard punt return.

Hoover passed for 353 yards, most of that in the second half on three long scoring drives. Emani Bailey ran for 57 yards and two touchdowns for TCU.

–Field Level Media

Oct 14, 2023; Fort Worth, Texas, USA; TCU Horned Frogs quarterback Josh Hoover (10) passes against the Brigham Young Cougars during the game at Amon G. Carter Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

TCU routs BYU behind Josh Hoover’s first start, 4 TDs

Redshirt freshman Josh Hoover threw for 439 yards and four touchdowns in his first career start as TCU destroyed visiting BYU 44-11 in a Big 12 matchup in Fort Worth, Texas, on Saturday afternoon.

Hoover, taking over for the injured Chandler Morris, spread his touchdowns among four receivers and completed throws to 13 players overall. He went 37-of-58 passing with two interceptions after entering the game 14 of 23 for 171 yards in parts of five games previously.

JP Richardson made six catches for 104 yards and one score for TCU (4-3, 2-2 Big 12).

BYU quarterback Kedon Slovis managed only 152 yards passing and was intercepted once. The Cougars (4-2, 1-2) trailed 14-0 less than five minutes into the game and never threatened. They had only 27 total yards in the first quarter and were outgained 584-243 overall.

Keelan Marion rushed 3 yards for a touchdown and Chase Roberts caught the 2-point conversion for BYU with 3:15 left in the first half, but it came after TCU had built a 24-0 lead. The Horned Frogs then answered the Cougars’ score with an 81-yard march, capped by Hoover’s 7-yard pass play to Savion Williams with 40 seconds left for a 31-8 lead.

TCU added a touchdown on the first possession of the third quarter via a 14-yard pass to Warren Thompson, and the rout was on at 38-8.

BYU entered the game after a bye week, but its troubles started on the third play from scrimmage. Slovis threw an interception over the middle to Millard Bradford, who took it back 35 yards for a touchdown.

When the Cougars went three-and-out, the Horned Frogs’ offense took over. They needed only seven plays to go 68 yards, the last a 42-yard touchdown reception as Richardson bounced off a pair of would-be tacklers en route to the end zone.

TCU then added a field goal by Griffin Kell and a 7-yard touchdown pass to Jared Wiley to widen the lead to 24-0.

BYU’s Will Ferrin and Kell traded field goals in the third quarter, and Kell kicked his longest of the day, a 47-yarder, with 6:18 left in the game.

–Field Level Media

Sep 30, 2023; Fort Worth, Texas, USA; TCU Horned Frogs quarterback Chandler Morris (4) rolls out to pass against West Virginia Mountaineers defensive lineman Tomiwa Durojaiye (3) in the second quarter at Amon G. Carter Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

TCU QB Chandler Morris (sprained MCL) week-to-week

TCU quarterback Chandler Morris is expected to miss multiple games after suffering a sprained MCL in his left knee, coach Sonny Dykes said Tuesday.

Dykes described Morris’ situation is better than TCU initially expected, but he will be considered week-to-week.

“Probably going to be at least a month,” Dykes told the website Frogs Today.

Morris went down this past Saturday in the Horned Frogs’ 27-14 loss at Iowa State. His left leg twisted as he was tackled, and he immediately left the game after trainers came to check on him.

Redshirt freshman Josh Hoover will make his first career start in Morris’ place on Saturday against BYU. Hoover went 11-for-19 passing for 119 yards, one touchdown and one interception against the Cyclones after taking over for Morris.

Morris sprained the same knee in the season opener last year. Max Duggan took over the position and guided TCU to the College Football Playoff and national title game while finishing as the runner-up for the Heisman Trophy.

Morris has thrown for 1,513 yards, 12 touchdowns and five interceptions on a 65.8 completion percentage in six games for TCU. He’s also the team’s second-leading rusher with 249 yards and three scores on the ground.

–Field Level Media

Dec 31, 2022; Glendale, Arizona, USA; TCU Horned Frogs 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

Chargers pick up TCU QB Max Duggan in seventh round of draft

The Los Angeles Chargers selected TCU quarterback and Heisman Trophy runner-up Max Duggan with the No. 239 overall pick in the seventh round of the 2023 NFL Draft on Saturday.

In Los Angeles, Duggan could compete for the back-up job behind starter Justin Herbert. Easton Stick was the only other quarterback on the Chargers’ roster entering the draft.

Duggan threw for 3,698 yards, 32 touchdowns and eight interceptions and added 423 rushing yards and nine rushing TDs in 2022 while guiding the Horned Frogs to their first College Football Playoff appearance. TCU beat Michigan to reach the national title game before losing 65-7 to Georgia.

In 47 games over four seasons at TCU, Duggan racked up 9,618 passing yards, 73 touchdowns and 28 picks and added 28 rushing touchdowns.

He was the 14th quarterback selected in the draft. Twelve quarterbacks went in the first five rounds, a record for the common draft era.

–Field Level Media

Sep 24, 2022; Corvallis, Oregon, USA; Oregon State Beavers quarterback Chance Nolan (10) throws during warm-ups before playing the USC Trojans at Reser Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

Former Oregon State QB Chance Nolan commits to TCU

Former Oregon State quarterback Chance Nolan announced Tuesday that he is transferring to TCU.

“Blessed and Excited for the Next Part #TCU #GoFrogs,” Nolan said on his Twitter account.

In three seasons with the Beavers, Nolan threw for 4,153 yards, 32 touchdowns and 20 interceptions in 22 games (20 starts).

His best campaign was 2021 when he passed for 2,677 yards, 19 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.

But last season, his string of 17 consecutive starts came to an end when he injured his neck against Utah on Oct. 1. He didn’t play again, finishing the campaign with 939 yards, seven touchdowns and eight interceptions in five games.

The Horned Frogs are looking for a quarterback to replace Heisman Trophy runner-up Max Duggan, who led the team to the national championship game before a 65-7 loss to Georgia.

Sophomore Chandler Morris, who opened the 2022 season as the starter before sustaining a knee injury, and redshirt freshman Josh Hoover, were TCU’s top two quarterbacks during spring drills.

–Field Level Media

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