Undefeated No. 4 TCU does not face last place in the state of Iowa

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — TCU tied for fourth and Iowa State are on the opposite side of the Big 12 standings, as if they’ve played in single-score games all season.

Standout quarterback Max Duggan and the Horned Frogs (11-0, 8-0 Big 12, No. 4 CFP) just keep winning games, including their frantic comeback and final field goal last week at Baylor, to remain undefeated and in position to make it to the four-team College Football Playoff.

The Cyclones in last place (4-7, 1-7) on Saturday wrap up their first losing season since coach Matt Campbell’s debut in 2016. They’re coming off their sixth Big 12 loss by a touchdown or less – a combined 24 points. But they could play major spoilers in their latest game.

“Each game has a unique meaning,” said Campbell. “For us, getting to the end of the season and reaching the point where you want to play your best football. So what a challenge and opportunity to do that.”

While the Frogs with the best offense of the Big 12 are already ready to play in the conference championships December 3, they don’t overlook the state of Iowa. The league’s best defense allows only 277 total yards per game and held eight opponents to 20 points or less.

“They can be 7-4, 8-3, 9-2 very easily. Very, very close games that come to the end… and it’s just not the way they wanted it to be,” said TCU coach Sonny Dykes. “So Saturday will be a big challenge for us.”

The Frogs, averaging 482 yards and 39.5 points per game, are playing on their ninth straight Saturday since an opening date in mid-September. Four of their Big 12 wins were by a touchdown or less, and they needed to score nine points in the last 127 seconds to beat Baylor 29-28. Only one league match was decided by more than 10 points.

“Looking at the standings and the records really don’t mean anything,” said Duggan, who has thrown for 2,858 yards with 26 touchdowns and three interceptions. “When you get on the field and you have to play the game, it’s pretty hard.”

ELITE RECIPIENTS

Iowa State wide receiver Xavier Hutchinson is the FBS leader with 105 catches and tops the Big 12 with 105.5 yards receiving per game.

The Frogs have athletic and physical six-foot receiver Quentin Johnston, who averages 4.5 catches per game and nearly 16 yards per catch. But he’s been dealing with a persistent ankle sprain for several weeks, and didn’t even finish Baylor’s game. “He just took it out,” Dykes said.

ZERO US. CYCLONES

The Iowa native Duggan is 0-3 in his career against the Cyclones. They are the only Big 12 team that he has not posted a win against going into his 40th career start.

“He’s playing at such an elite level right now,” said Campbell, who recruited Duggan. “For me, he’s the key to getting all that other stuff going at a really fast pace.”

Duggan said he has a lot of respect for Campbell and has many friends on that team, along with some GAs and analysts from his hometown.

“It should be nice to get them here in Fort Worth,” Duggan said.

IMPRESSIVE FIGURES

Will McDonald’s 34 Iowa State senior career sacks tie for the Big 12 record first set by Texas Tech’s Aaron Hunt from 1999-2002. … TCU running back Kendre Miller rushed to a TD in all 11 games this season, and his 12 straight games back to last year is the longest active streak in the country.

LEFT OUT

TCU entered the 2014 regular season finale at home ranked third in the CFP rankings, winning 55-3 against the 2-10 Cyclones.

But when the final CFP rankings came out the next day, the Frogs had fallen to sixth place by one loss, one spot below Baylor—the only team to beat them. Ohio State moved into fourth place and entered the inaugural four-team playoff after a 59–0 victory over Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship game.

This time around, the Frogs are one of four remaining undefeated FBS teams.

UNREPORTED

TCU is the first Big 12 team to reach 11-0 since Texas went 13-0 in the 2009 season when it went on to lose in the BCS national championship game. The Longhorns were the last to finish an undefeated season, winning 13–0 the league’s final league title in the 2005 season. The last team without a conference loss was Oklahoma in 2016 after the Sooners went 1–2 in non-conference play.

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