sportsTCU Horned Frogs

After handling Iowa State, TCU can make believers out of CFP committee with one more win

TCU coach Sonny Dykes believes things are different for the Horned Frogs compared to the last time their fate was decided by the committee in 2014.

FORT WORTH – Forget about Iowa State being the roadblock in TCU’s quest to a perfect season.

The Cyclones weren’t even a speed bump.

By the time things ended Saturday at Amon Carter Stadium, Iowa State was pretty much road kill.

No. 4 TCU torched the Big 12′s best defense in a 62-14 victory that should position the Horned Frogs well in Tuesday’s next-to-last College Football Playoff rankings. With No. 3 Michigan bludgeoning No. 2 Ohio State 45-23, TCU (12-0, 9-0 Big 12) should be no worse than third in the rankings.

Picked to finish seventh in the Big 12 in the preseason, TCU became the first Big 12 team to start 12-0 since Texas in 2009 with Colt McCoy. Believers are starting to outnumber skeptics.

“Coming into every game, we have lot of doubters,” cornerback Tre Tomlinson said. “We know what type of team we have. We showcased it constantly and we’re an undefeated team.”

Now all TCU has to do is take care of business in the Big 12 championship game at AT&T Stadium Dec. 3, against No. 15 Kansas State, which downed Kansas 47-27 later Saturday. The Wildcats were one of TCU’s second-half comeback victims in the regular season.

Asked what 12-0 means to him, Heisman candidate Max Duggan responded: “It means we have one more to play.”

A win and TCU is a lock to be one of the four teams in the playoffs when the final rankings are announced Dec. 4 from Grapevine. Even with a loss, the Horned Frogs might have a chance with all the carnage hitting other playoff contenders.

For now, TCU isn’t thinking that way.

Frankly, the Iowa State matchup conjured up some bad memories. In 2014, the first year of the playoffs, TCU beat Iowa State 55-3 in its final regular season game – and then dropped from No. 3 to No. 6 in the final rankings. It’s still a sore subject among Horned Frog fans.

Things are different now, coach Sonny Dykes said.

“I know the history with TCU and Iowa State and big victories and it didn’t work out particularly well in 2014,” Dykes said “I think this is different. I think college football’s different. I think this committee is different. I think the Big 12 Is viewed differently than it was then. …

“To go undefeated and win some of the road games we did and grind through some of the tough ones we had show that we’re a real good football team.”

Duggan threw three touchdown passes in the win Kendre Miller ran for two more. The TCU defense returned two interceptions for touchdowns, one by Millard Bradford and the other by Josh Newton.

“For the first time, I think we played a complete game on defense,” Newton said.

Against an Iowa State defense that hadn’t allowed more than 31 points all season, TCU amassed a 34-7 halftime lead.

The Horned Frogs put 24 unanswered points in an 8:10 span of the first quarter.

TCU scored on its first possession, going 73 yards on nine plays. On fourth down, Duggan found Geor’Quarius Spivey behind the Iowa State secondary for a 19-yard touchdown pass.

Kicker Griff Kell added the first of two field goals, this one from 36 yards. He added a career-high 54-yarder in the second quarter and is 14 of 15 this year.

TCU took advantage of a short field following an Iowa State punt to march 45 yards. Miller took advantage of a key block by running back Trent Battle and added a spin move en route to a 25-yard touchdown. Miller now has touchdowns in all 12 of TCU’s game this season, tying LaDainian Tomlinson’s achievement from 2000.

Bradford intercepted Hunter Dekkers on Iowa State’s next series, returning it 36 yards for a touchdown. It was TCU’s first defensive score this season and put the Horned Frogs up 24-0 with 2:03 left in the first quarter. Newton’s 57-yard return for a touchdown would come late in the third quarter.

“I think we showed the true team we really have,” said Tomlinson, who helped hold Iowa State star receiver Xavier Hutchinson to two catches for 11 yards.

TCU scored on a bizarre sequence just before halftime after an Iowa State snap sailed over the head of the punter and deflected off an official. Miller eventually scored from a yard out on fourth down for a 34-7 lead after Iowa State burned three time outs in what seemed like a move to ice the TCU offense.

And Iowa State coach Matt Campbell had a heated outburst at one of the officials.

“Hats off to TCU. I mean, quite honestly, one of the best teams we’ve played in the last five, six years,” Campbell said afterward. “Just a complete team.”

Family milestone: With victory, Dykes now has 83 wins as a head coach, one more than his legendary father. Spike Dykes went 82-67-1 as coach at Texas Tech from 1986-1999 and died in 2017. “I’ve kind of felt him all year with me it seems with his team,” Dykes said. “And I know he would certainly get a kick out of out of our guys, the way that they work and what kind of people they are.”

Resting Johnston: The blowout win gave TCU a chance to rest standout receiver Quentin Johnston, who has been battling an injured ankle. Coach Sonny Dykes said the plan going into the game was to save Johnston for the Big 12 championship game. “Our thought was to try to get him to the Big 12 championship game if we can,” Dykes said.

Twitter: @ChuckCarltonDMN

Find more TCU coverage from The Dallas Morning News here.

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