college football writer
GLENDALE, Arizona — Home to mascots, they’ve come to the western desert to earn the respect they’ve craved for decades. Abandoned by both their peers and the board room for decades, TCU has fought for praise and admiration, facing suspicion year after year, match after match.
On the final day of 2022, they won them all and some more.
The Horned Frogs continue their storybook season in a fitting way under their next destination, the Hollywood Hills, with tickets to No. 2 Michigan on Jan. We beat them 51-45. The wildest, highest scoring Fiesta Bowl ever.
Entering the first of two College Football playoff semi-finals on New Year’s Eve as the decisive underdog, TCU behaved like a much more calm and experienced team. After an ill-fated start in which he allowed a 53-yard run on the first play of the game, Frogs was thrown in the bluest blood trying to make his party like his 1997. All punches, counter his punches and setbacks were dealt with. .
Instead, it was the Big 12 side that moved to the brink of securing one golden trophy to rule them all in two weeks. They await the winner of the Peach Bowl semi-final between top-ranked and reigning national champions Georgia and No. 4. Ohio.
Here are the Horned Frogs’ three takeaways after the back-and-forth match.
1. The defense of the TCU was on duty
Entering the contest made a lot about the perceived mismatch that TCU’s defense had to overcome. Michigan has his fourth-best rushing offense in the country and has touted the Joe Moore Award winner as the best offensive his line in college football, earning four stars and his five. It had many star recruits on the front line. Out of place at his NFL venues like State Farm Stadium.
But the force, led by defensive coordinator Joe Gillips, had no such mindset at all, and proved early on to do more than handle the offense that normally overwhelmed the enemy. Donovan Edwards was able to take a 53-yard run on the first play of the game, but TCU was fast, physical and purposeful to hold JJ McCarthy and company to just 3/13 on third down. flew around and interfered. Corn and blue on multiple drives in the red zone.
Defensive lineman Dylan Horton was a constant presence in the backfield, recording six tackles, four sacks (three in the first half alone) and forced fumbles. Safety’s Bud Clark also set the tone that the Horned Frogs were here to play for everything on McCarthy’s 41-yard pick 6, just short of Ronnie Bell’s route, for the fifth time in the season. Recorded the maximum interception. Then, as linebacker Dee Winters nearly booked the team’s trip to Los Angeles for his game for the national title with his leaping pick that ran back 29 yards late in the third quarter. I saw.
The myth that the Big 12’s defense is soft has begun to be disproved over the last few years, and TCU has helped dispel that even more on the biggest stage the sport has to offer. No one in the Big Ten has run anywhere near Gillips’ 3-3-5 run, but given the problems it gave the Wolverines, there are probably some changes moving forward after Saturday’s effort.
2. Duggan Grind It Out
Heisman Trophy runner-up Max Duggan had a lot of attention on him given the position he was playing, but the veteran quarterback arguably had his best game in a TCU uniform. He went for 225 yards (2 TD, 2 INT) on 14 of just 29 yards and was frustrated after almost every incomplete pass. rice field.
Going down the field was particularly problematic, as many of Duggan’s passes sailed high or out of bounds, even though they were in a bit of sunshine. After throwing just four interceptions all season, he also threw twice in the Fiesta Bowl, both of which were under the control of receiver Delius Davis and should have been caught on chain-moving first-downs.
Still, the seniors showed off a number of Moxies who got all the Heisman votes, smashed a few possessions with their feet (57 yards, 2 scores), and survived some plays in the face of some pretty ferocious pass rushes. continued. He was a gamer throughout the season when the lights seemed to shine brightest, and did so again in the national semifinals when his team needed an important play. Sure, the stats line may not have been great, but for someone who’s had a lot of experience with the program over the past few years, the end result was the only thing that mattered in the end.
3. Glory to Hypnotoad
There have been many magical and outrageous seasons in the glorious history of college football. His TCU run in 2022 should be remembered as one of the best (regardless of what happened in Los Angeles on Jan. 9). ).
The Horned Frogs are just the second team (after last year’s Michigan side) to enter the college football playoffs after starting the season unranked, and seem to get even less attention than the Wolverines in 2021. I saw. There was the added hurdle of a new staff taking over in a league that voted out and was still undergoing quite a transition, but here they are playing for his third national title of the school and his pre-war career. played for the first time since Dutch Meyer’s famous team in the 1930s.
Duggan, who wasn’t even a season-opening starter, has seen the rise of many of the team’s players, going from obscure or little-known to full-blown college football stars under the spotlight in the coming days. Now they’ve achieved legendary status at a small private school in Fort Worth, and years after the Southwest Conference collapsed, they jumped from WAC to Conference USA, to Mountain West, and finally elusive. Landed in Power Five and invited to Big. 12 before the 2012 campaign.
TCU became the first team since 1975 to win seven games in a row by 10 points or less, capping off FBS’s second-largest winning improvement this year by winning seven more games than last season. . .
FOX Sports Top Stories:
learn more from college football Follow your favorites to stay informed about games, news and more