The Kansas State Wildcats earned the second spot in the Big 12 title game after a dominating performance against in-state rivals Kansas. The Wildcats simply needed a victory Saturday to clinch a spot in the title game, otherwise, Texas would have a chance to earn the second spot.
Kansas State will join TCU in the Big 12 Championship game.
Kansas State Locks in a Spot
The Wildcats controlled their own destiny heading into Saturday’s regular-season finale. Despite the fact that they could still earn a spot in the championship game with a loss, Chris Klieman’s group had no intentions of leaving it up to the Texas Longhorns.
Kansas State struggled on its first drive, but a turnover by the Jayhawks on the ensuing drive flipped the switch. The Wildcats would go on to score touchdowns on their next four drives, not to mention grabbing a safety on the defensive side of the ball. A tough stretch to end the half found the Wildcats leading 30-21 heading into halftime.
Very little happened differently in the second half with the Wildcats scoring on all but two of their drives, one of which included the kneel-downs to end the game. The Wildcats advanced to 9-3 on the year and 7-2 in the Big 12. More importantly, Kansas State earns its fourth all-time Big 12 championship game appearance, with its last coming in 2003.
Jobs not finished pic.twitter.com/FbqgKbyVMM
— K-State Football (@KStateFB) November 27, 2022
It has been an interesting quarterback situation for Kansas State, who started the year with Adrian Martinez but have transitioned to Will Howard after a slew of injuries. Howard has been sharp since getting his first action against TCU towards the end of October, scoring 15 total touchdowns with just two interceptions.
A Big 12 Championship game victory for Kansas State and Howard would be quite the storybook ending after he started the year on the bench.
TCU Completes Undefeated Regular Season
The Horned Frogs headed into Saturday’s matchup with Iowa State with a perfect 11-0 record. After thrashing the Cyclones, TCU moved to 12-0 in Sonny Dykes’ first season.
Quarterback Max Duggan moved above the 3,000 passing yard mark on the season, which leads the Big 12. He finished the regular season with an impressive 34 touchdowns and just three interceptions.
Goodness, @MaxDuggan_10 is just carving up the defense today
— FOX College Football (@CFBONFOX) November 26, 2022
Running back Kendre Miller added to his excellent season with another two-touchdown performance, which secured a rushing touchdown in every single game this season. He finished the regular season with over 1,000 yards on the ground and 16 touchdowns.
TCU will play for not only a Big 12 title this upcoming Saturday, but also its first College Football Playoff berth in program history. Following losses by Ohio State, Clemson and LSU, TCU is primed for a spot in the CFP if they top Kansas State.
Big 12 Title Parity
TCU and Kansas State will be the fifth and sixth teams to make the Big 12 title game over the last three years, with no team earning multiple appearances over that time. The two teams join Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Iowa State and Baylor as the only participants in the game since 2020.
This bodes well for the conference, compared to others that have seen the same teams make appearances over and over again.
The ACC had only two teams, Clemson and Florida State, represent one of the divisions over the course of a nine-year span ending in 2019. Similarly, the Big 10 has had only two teams, Michigan and Ohio State, represent the same division in the Big 10 Championship game over the last six seasons.
While the Big 12 has clearly had parity across the league for several years, that will likely change in the next couple of years as Oklahoma and Texas are set to move to the SEC. The Big 12 will add four new members, with Houston, Cincinnati, UCF, and BYU joining the conference.
Nonetheless, the Horned Frogs and Wildcats will face off head-to-head in the Big 12 title game for the first time.
TCU and Kansas State will meet in the Dr. Pepper Big 12 Championship game Saturday at 12:00 PM on ABC.