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TCU vs. Kansas: 3 Things We Learned

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The Horned Frogs held on and kept their bowl hopes alive in their final home game of the season.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 20 Kansas at TCU Photo by Matthew Pearce/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

TCU narrowly escaped Kansas on Saturday, winning 31-28 on Senior Day to stay alive for bowl eligibility with one week remaining in the 2021 season. Kicker Griffin Kell converted a game-winning field goal for the Horned Frogs, who’re now 5-6 overall and 3-5 in the Big 12 with one contest remaining against the Iowa State Cyclones in Ames, Iowa.

Quarterback Max Duggan, still playing with a broken bone in his foot, returned to the starting lineup with redshirt freshman Chandler Morris sidelined with an injury, while running back Kendre Miller also made his way from an injury. Both players stepped up with gutsy performances on Saturday, leading TCU to a win in its last home game of the year.

Here are three things we learned from the last-second victory over the Jayhawks.

1. Lance Leipold has Kansas heading in the right direction

TCU interim coach Jerry Kill had high praise for the Jayhawks after Saturday’s win and rightfully so. One week removed from stunning the Texas Longhorns in Austin, Kansas journeyed to Fort Worth and came close to knocking off the Horned Frogs.

Sophomore quarterback Jalon Daniels has performed well in place of injured starter Jason Bean, totaling 457 yards and five touchdowns through the air as well as 82 yards and two touchdowns on the ground over the last two games. The Jayhawks have seen wide receiver Kwamie Lassiter become a go-to option in the passing game, while running back Devin Neal has turned in an outstanding freshman season with 764 total yards and nine touchdowns.

The Kansas football program has been relegated to meme status over the last several years, but in his first season as head coach, Leipold has the Jayhawks fighting hard and putting together much more competitive games than in years past. With several young players including Daniels, Neal and more eligible to return next season, it’ll be interesting to see whether Kansas can take the next step and finish above the .500 mark next year.

2. Max Duggan will have one more chance to shine this season

With news that the Horned Frogs will keep Morris off the field for the remainder of the season, Duggan returns to where he opened the season: as TCU’s starting quarterback. Although the Horned Frogs struggled in the passing game without starting wide receivers Quentin Johnston and Savion Williams, Duggan had one of his best games as a runner in recent weeks, totaling 74 yards and one touchdown on 14 carries.

Duggan will likely be the team’s starter when TCU travels to conclude the regular season against Iowa State next weekend. With a coaching chance expected this offseason, recruits already reopening their commitments and players potentially opting for the transfer portal, one has to wonder whether or not next Saturday’s game against the Cyclones will be Duggan’s last as a Horned Frog.

The former four-star prospect was recruited by Sonny Cumbie, who’s the current interim head coach at Texas Tech, and played two-plus years under Gary Patterson, who also won’t be back next year. Duggan has accumulated 5,232 passing yards with 36 touchdowns and 18 interceptions in his three seasons with the Horned Frogs. The junior quarterback also has 1,316 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns on the ground.

3. Kendre Miller continues to be TCU’s most underrated offensive threat

The Horned Frog offense has been built around three players this season: Max Duggan, Zach Evans and Quentin Johnston. But when Miller has had opportunities to shine, he’s taken full advantage. The former three-star running back compiled 112 rushing yards and one touchdown on only 12 carries against Kansas, marking the fourth time in six weeks that he topped 100 yards of total offense.

Miller now has 930 rushing yards for his career and he’ll have a chance to surpass the millenium mark when TCU faces Iowa State. The sophomore has been impressive with five-star running back Zach Evans on the sideline with an injury, averaging 7.5 yards per carry. It’s the second season in a row Miller has averaged over 7 yards per carry.

It’s tough to predict the future with a coaching change imminent, but should Evans depart and Miller stick around, he’ll potentially be an early favorite for the starting running back position next year.