The regular season is in the books, and it is now on to conference championship weekend. While there are other championship games around the country, the Big 12 Championship Game features the only matchup between two Top 10 teams, and even College GameDay showed up. There was plenty of drama to unpack in the sea of purple inside AT&T Stadium. Here is the good, the bad, and ugly from the Big 12 Championship Game, which Kansas State won in overtime 31-28.
Kansas State Overcame Key Injuries
Despite some key injuries to starting wide receiver Malik Knowles and cornerback Ekow Boye-Doe, the Wildcats found a way to get the job done. Will Howard managed the game well and most importantly he didn’t turn the ball over. There was a clear drop off in the passing game when Knowles went down but thankfully, they have Deuce Vaughn to give the ball to. Meanwhile, the defense made the stop of the game in overtime. TCU had the ball on the one-yard line and the Wildcats defense stuffed them both times to give the ball back to the offense.
As I mentioned above, due to the injury of Malik Knowles, Kansas State had some trouble throwing the football after he left the game. That put the pressure on running back Deuce Vaughn to make plays and he did just that. Vaughn finished the game with 130 yards rushing while averaging five yards per carry. However, his biggest moment came late in the game when he ripped off a big 44-yard touchdown run to put Kansas State up 28-17 in the fourth quarter. He was even named the Big 12 championship game MVP.
I know he lost the game, but he should have been the MVP on Saturday afternoon. Max Duggan was the best player on the field, and he nearly willed his team to another late victory yet again. When the offense was stuck in the mud, he took over and used his legs to make things happen. TCU was down 28-20 with under five minutes to play and had the ball at their own 20-yard line. On that drive, Duggan put the offense on his back and rushed for a whopping 95 yards on just eight plays. You can say whatever you want about TCU for losing this game, but I am not going to blame Max Duggan. What I saw on that final drive in regulation was something you would see from a Heisman winner. And speaking of the Heisman, Max should be in New York City for the ceremony next Saturday.
What a Game
How lucky are we in the Big 12? After last year’s Baylor goal line stop, we are rewarded with yet another great game that comes right down to the wire. As memorable as Baylor’s stop was a year ago, Kansas State’s goal line stand in overtime will be something Wildcat fans remember for a long time. As a fan of college football, all I can ask for is a great game and we certainly got one on Saturday afternoon in Jerry World. While it is a shame that TCU may not make the playoff, hats off to Chris Klieman and Kansas State. They had one hell of a season and just won a Big 12 title. The Kansas State Wildcats are your 2022 Big 12 champions and rightfully so.
The Muffed Punt by Kansas State
Early in the third quarter, Kansas State was up 21-10. The defense forced and three and out and the Wildcats had a chance to really stomp their foot on the gas pedal. Yet when punt returner Phillip Brooks got the ball, he fumbled. TCU would go on to score just a few plays later and that totally changed the game in my opinion. If that didn’t happen, I am not sure if this game even goes to overtime.
TCU’s Overtime Drive
Late in the fourth quarter with the game on the line, TCU gave the green light for Max Duggan, and he took over. Max ran all over Kansas State on the final drive in regulation as he rushed or 95 and found the end zone. Yet when TCU had the ball on the Kansas State one-yard line in overtime, the coaching staff decided to take the ball out of Max’s hands. The Horned Frogs had two tries to score and were stopped both times. I don’t understand why they handed the ball off on both attempts when the guy who got you that far was right there to make another big play. To me, this was a huge mistake by the offensive staff of TCU. Think about it like this, on TCU’s two most important plays of the game, they didn’t even use their best player. It makes no sense and it proved to be costly. How costly? We will find out on Sunday when the playoff committee makes their decision.