No. 4 TCU clinches Big 12 title game berth with 17-10 win over Texas

No. 4 TCU is 10-0 for the first time since 2010 after a 17-10 win over Texas on Saturday night.

The Horned Frogs have relied on big plays all season and got two massive ones from their offensive stars for their two TDs. Running back Kendre Miller broke the game open in the third quarter with a dynamic 75-yard TD run and receiver Quentin Johnston took advantage of confusion in the Texas secondary to catch a 31-yard TD pass from Max Duggan to effectively seal the game.

The game was not the prettiest display of offensive football otherwise. And that’s probably being generous to the Texas offense. The Longhorns couldn’t do anything on the ground or through the air. Quinn Ewers started the game 0-for-7 passing with an interception and ended up throwing for just over four yards an attempt. Bijan Robinson was bottled up by the TCU defense and ran 12 times for just 29 yards. Xavier Worthy also had just four catches for 32 yards.

Texas’ lone TD of the game came with less than five minutes to go when Jahdae Barron returned a botched handoff 52 yards for a score. That gave Texas some hope that it could get back into the game with a quick defensive stop, but TCU was able to burn the remaining 4:25 off the clock to seal the win.

The win also means TCU is guaranteed a shot at the Big 12 title while Texas’ hopes of a Big 12 title hang by a thread. The Longhorns have to beat both Kansas and Baylor over the final two weeks of the season and hope that Oklahoma State and Kansas State lose a game.

The Dec. 3 Big 12 championship game will be the first in school history for TCU. The title game wasn’t around in 2014 when the Horned Frogs won a share of the Big 12 and missed out on the College Football Playoff despite a one-loss regular season.

TCU hopes things are far different in 2022. An undefeated season will surely get TCU into the playoff. But 12-1 is a little iffy, especially if the committee significantly docks TCU for a loss to either Baylor or Iowa State. If TCU loses one of its final two regular-season games, it may not be able to climb back up into the top four even with a Big 12 title.

TCU wide receiver Quentin Johnston runs after a catch against Texas while defender Jahdae Barron chases him on November 12, 2022 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
TCU wide receiver Quentin Johnston runs after a catch against Texas while defender Jahdae Barron chases him on November 12, 2022 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) (Tim Warner via Getty Images)

Lowest-scoring game of the year for TCU

The 27 combined points on Saturday night were the fewest points scored in any TCU game this season. Heck, TCU had scored at least 34 points itself in each of its first nine wins. But Saturday night was an ugly game — the type that a playoff team has to win once or twice a season.

The first 11 possessions on Saturday night resulted in a grand total of 40 yards between the two teams as TCU couldn’t do anything with multiple possessions in Texas territory. After a missed field goal earlier in the half, TCU finally got on the board before halftime and Johnston’s TD made it feel like a four-score lead with the way that Texas’ offense was playing.

The Longhorns' struggles on offense highlighted the issues that Ewers has had throwing the ball since he came back from the shoulder injury he suffered against Alabama in Week 2. While Ewers threw four touchdowns in his return game against Oklahoma, his performances haven’t been great since and he’s completed less than 50% of his passes in two of his last three games. Ewers finished Saturday night 17-of-39 passing for 171 yards and that interception.

Ewers will need to play much better over the final two games of the regular season to ward off Texas fans' calls for Arch Manning in 2023. The No. 1 recruit in the country is set to enroll at Texas in January and participate in spring practice. His name recognition and talent have energized a Texas fanbase anxious for the program’s return to national relevance. But it’s important to remember that Ewers was also once the top high school QB in the country not that long ago himself. Immediate success in a Power Five conference is hardly a guarantee.