Kansas State's Deuce Vaughn (22) rushed for 109 yards and two touchdowns in the Frogs' 31-12 loss on Oct. 30, 2021. (Photo courtesy of @KStateFB on Twitter)
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Expectations were, by no means, high for TCU football entering their road matchup with Kansas State this weekend.

It was not a game that could put the Frogs back in Big 12 championship conversations or even get them “back on track,” so to speak, as a treacherous span of four losses in five games had already cemented this season as a loss for the program in the minds of most.

However, what occurred for TCU at Bill Snyder Family Stadium on Saturday was worse than anyone could have predicted, as the Frogs were embarrassed from start-to-finish in a game that seemed to symbolize rock bottom for a team that had entered 2021 with high aspirations.

Despite playing a team with the Big 12’s second-worst offense (360.1 yards per game), TCU was never even able to lead in the game, falling to the Wildcats 31-12 in a contest in which they were only out-gained 390-326 in yards of total offense.

Running back Deuce Vaugh, known as one of the Big 12’s most dynamic players, was a problem for the Frogs’ defense all day long. The 5’6″ sophomore had 158 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns on 22 total touches.

To make matters worse for the Frogs, quarterback Max Duggan was pulled for backup Chandler Morris in the third quarter, because the starter’s foot injury had limited TCU’s offense and led to four sacks already on the day.

“Max hasn’t been able to do a lot of stuff in practice. Running wise we needed a guy that could get out and get going,” head coach Gary Patterson said. “That’s why we made the change. We talked about it at halftime and we knew if we didn’t do something the first series we knew we were going to do something.”

While Morris did give TCU more mobility (24 rushing yards to Duggan’s negative eight), the sacks did not stop there, as the Oklahoma-transfer was taken down twice after entering the game.

Though the Frogs had given up just eight sacks all season coming in, the TCU offensive line had zero answers for Kansas State defensive end Felix Anudike-Uzomah, who nearly tied the NCAA record for most sacks in a game.

Originally, it was ruled that Anudike-Uzomah had recorded six sacks, which would have tied the record, but it was ruled postgame that his two forced fumbles had not counted as sacks because of positive yardage gained following the strip.

When he was taken out, Duggan was 9-for-13 with 73 yards. Morris would go on to finish 9-for-14 with 111 yards in his first real action in the purple and white.

The difference in the game came down to which team made the most out of the opportunities they were given. On third and fourth downs, TCU was just 8-for-20, while Kansas State converted on 7-of-13 attempts.

Four different times in the game, the Frogs knocked on the door of the end zone with a first-and-goal opportunity. They came up with just 10 total points on those four chances, two turnovers on downs and the lone touchdown coming with just 15 seconds left to play.

“You’re inside the five three times; you’ve got to score,” Patterson said. “Defensively, it came down to five plays; defense played well besides that. You can’t give up the big plays. We held them scoreless in the third quarter, it got us back in the ball game blitzing. The kids fought.”

It became evident right away that Vaughn would be an issue for TCU, as the Wildcats went to the running back three-straight times late in their first offensive possession. He would gain 56 yards on those three touches, setting up a four-yard touchdown run by Kansas State quarterback Skylar Thompson to open up the game’s scoring.

On the Wildcat’s ensuing possession, Memphis-transfer T.J. Carter recorded his first interception in a TCU uniform to give the Frogs some momentum, but a jet sweep to receiver Quentin Johnston on 3rd-and-goal that lost four yards would then lead to the Frogs having to settle for a field goal.

After Vaughn scored on a 42-yard run on 4th-and-1 for the Wildcats, TCU was given a second opportunity. Following a 61-yard run by Miller to put them on the Kansas State two-yard line, the Frogs were denied four-straight times for their first turnover on downs of the day.

““Well, we went to a designed blitz on the tight end side and we knew the only place he could cut out and we told the linebacker to go there and he didn’t play backside,” Patterson said. “On the fourth down call. I told them if there was anywhere he was going to go, that’s where he was going to go.”

On the next play from scrimmage, the Frogs did record their first safety since 2018, but that would be the last time they put points on the board until the waning seconds of the fourth quarter.

Vaughn’s second touchdown of the day would give TCU a 19-3 deficit at halftime.

On the Frogs’ first drive of the second half, Duggan was sacked for the fourth time, and it became clear that the broken bone in his foot was hurting his mobility. Patterson was not enchanted by the thought of letting his starter take a beating any longer, so Morris ran out with the TCU offense on their ensuing drive.

The redshirt freshman got the Frogs down to the Wildcats’ four-yard line on his initial drive at the helm, but his pass on fourth down fell incomplete for TCU’s second turnover on downs of the day.

A 73-yard touchdown pass from Thompson to tight end Daniel Imatorbhebhe would later put the nails in the coffin for TCU on the first play of the fourth quarter, sealing their third-straight loss.

Thompson, who is in his fifth year as a Wildcat, finished the day 13-for-21 with 242 yards, two touchdowns (one on the ground) and an interception.

Were it not for a three-yard touchdown run by running back Emari Demercado with 15 seconds remaining in the game, TCU’s five points scored prior would have been their fewest in a game since 1993.

With the loss, the Frogs are now sole possessors of the ninth place in the Big 12. To reach bowl eligibility now, they would have to win three of their final four games.

Life only gets harder for TCU going forward, as they face No. 16 Baylor at home next weekend. Kickoff between the Frogs and the Bears is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 6, at a time to be determined.

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Colin Post is a journalism major from Houston, Texas. Hoping to find a career in sports writing post-grad, Colin has covered TCU Athletics for TCU360 for four years. Gary Patterson even blocks him on Twitter (which you can find at @colinp_3). Colin enjoys watching and discussing sports, listening to music, and going to Starbucks.