TCU vs.  Baylor score, takeaways: No. 4 Frogs drill walk-off FG to remain unbeaten, alive in playoff race

TCU vs. Baylor score, takeaways: No. 4 Frogs drill walk-off FG to remain unbeaten, alive in playoff race

No. 4 TCU survived and advanced past rival Baylor 29-28 to stay undefeated and move one step closer to the College Football Playoff. Trailing by two points late, the Horned Frogs ran a fire drill field goal attempt with only seconds remaining and no timeouts, with Griffin Kell booting a 42-yard game-winner as time expired. The Frogs are the first Big 12 team to start 11-0 in the CFP era and the first TCU team to start 11-0 since 2010 — two years before the school joined the conference.

“We were well prepared,” said Dykes of the walk-off field goal after the game. “We practice that play every Thursday.”

Baylor outplayed TCU for most of the game, finishing with 60 more yards and rushing for 232 yards on 46 carries. The Bears held an eight-point lead with fewer than three minutes remaining, but a pair of miraculous scoring drives led by TCU quarterback Max Duggan made all the difference.

Duggan finished with 327 yards passing and led the Frogs with 50 yards rushing and two total touchdowns. Baylor running back Craig Williams rushed for 112 yards and freshman Richard Reese added 56 yards and a touchdown. Bears receiver Monaray Baldwin and TCU’s Taye Barber each posted 100-yard games.

The win keeps TCU right in the midst of the CFP conversation heading into the final week of the regular season. The Frogs seem to be in excellent shape after becoming the first Big 12 team to clinch a spot in the Big 12 Championship Game. Ironically, the 29-28 victory comes one year after TCU beat Baylor 30-28 to knock the Bears out of the College Football Playoff race.

Here are more takeaways from Saturday’s thriller in Waco.

Cardiac Frogs

TCU has put together one of the wildest seasons in recent memory thanks to a plethora of come-from-behind victories and fourth-quarter miracles. However, the last two minutes against Baylor will be replayed for a long time if the Frogs make the CFP.

The Frogs were without star receiver Quentin Johnston and running back Kendre Miller in the final few minutes. However, Duggan put the team on his back down the stretch by completing 7 of 9 passes for 83 yards to go along with 33 yards rushing — which including a critical QB draw on third-and-1 with less than a minute remaining — on TCU’s last two possessions to score 10 points in the final 2:07.

TCU may not earn many style points, but it’s consistently found ways to win against a difficult schedule. Duggan’s senior leadership has stood apart in the biggest moments.

Reversion to the mean

Like TCU, Baylor rode close game results to a Big 12 championship last season, but the opposite has been true in 2022. Outside of a 31-3 shellacking against Kansas State, Baylor has lost its four other games by a combined 21 points. That includes a three-point loss against weakly West Virginia after quarterback Blake Shapen suffered a concussion.

The Bears still rate exceptionally well in analytic systems; they’re No. 25 in the SP+ and No. 18 in the Sagarin Ratings. However, the success only emphasizes how much the Bears lack the kind of senior leadership TCU boasts with Duggan. Shapen, for example, threw an interception to end the first half, ending a possible scoring drive. Plays like that stand out as Baylor posts a disappointing follow-up to its Big 12 title run.

Still undefeated

TCU doesn’t have the high-end victories, but its ability to find ways to win is unbelievable against a schedule that should ultimately rate well. The Big 12 is the second-best conference in the SP+ ratings and within striking distance of the SEC. TCU has also navigated most of its slate after a Sept. 17 bye. Playing winning football for two straight months without a break is difficult.

Baylor is TCU’s fifth win over top-25 program, according to SP+. Most impressively, however, is that every game has gone differently. TCU beat Texas by holding it to just three offensive points. Against Baylor, the Frogs offense showed up and took advantage of limited opportunities. Against Oklahoma State and Kansas State, TCU overcomes three-score deficits.

The hallmark of a championship program is being able to roll with the punches, and TCU has quickly taken on the carefree identity of coach Sonny Dykes. No matter which players are on the field, the Frogs have maintained confidence and now have a chance to become the Big 12’s first non-Oklahoma squad in the College Football Playoff since the tournament started in 2014.

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