ARLINGTON, Texas -- Shortly after No. 3 TCU's first loss of the season, a 31-28 overtime defeat in the Big 12 championship game to No. 10 Kansas State, Sonny Dykes said he is confident the Horned Frogs deserve a spot in the College Football Playoff when the selection committee's rankings are revealed tomorrow.
"For sure I do," Dykes said. "We went through the Big 12 12-0. ... I don't think we should be punished for coming to the Big 12 championship game. I don't think the conference championship games are designed to punish teams and prevent them from getting in the playoffs. We were [No.] 3 last week. My hope is that we would stay at 3 and go tee it up and see how we do."
TCU, like it has several times this season, fell behind Kansas State and trailed 28-17 early in the fourth quarter. But behind quarterback Max Duggan, the Horned Frogs mounted a wild comeback to tie the game at 28-28 with 1:51 left in regulation.
In overtime, Duggan scrambled for what looked like a possible touchdown on second down, but officials ruled he was down short of the goal line. On third down, the Wildcats stopped TCU running back Kendre Miller short again on another play that was reviewed to see if he had scored (though the game was not stopped for the review). Miller was stopped again on a handoff on fourth down.
Kansas State then kicked a field goal to win, giving the Wildcats their third Big 12 title in the league's history.
Dykes said he was disappointed that the Horned Frogs were not able to complete the comeback and now rely on the committee's judgment.
"We were literally an inch away from winning the game, or certainly having a chance to, and being 13-0," the coach said. "My hope is that they see it the same way I saw it and realize the resume is good enough and we deserve to be part of it. Our hope [was] to not have to rely on a beauty contest. Our hope was to kick the door down and make sure that we were Big 12 champs and there was no discussion about it."
Kansas State coach Chris Klieman said after the game he agrees with Dykes.
"TCU should be in the CFP," he said. "They're one of the best four teams."
But now TCU has to wait for the committee's decision, an uncomfortable feeling for Frogs fans after they were bypassed by Ohio State and left out of the field on the last weekend in 2014.
"[There's] probably a little bit of anxiety for all of us," Dykes said. "But again, I've got a lot of faith in the committee. I know they've got a very difficult thing to do, but I believe that those guys will take a look at what we've been able to accomplish, and what this team looks like and what we've what we've done and put us in. My hope was to celebrate a Big 12 championship tonight and not worry too much about it. But, you know, it's going to be a different course of action."
Duggan was 18-of-36 for 251 yards with one touchdown and one interception and also ran for 110 yards and another TD, including rushing for 95 yards on one 80-yard drive due to penalties. He then threw the game-tying 2-point conversion to Jared Wiley.
After the game, he was emotional and disappointed he wasn't able to bring a conference championship to TCU after a stellar senior season in which he could be a Heisman Trophy finalist. He said, choking back tears, he wasn't sure where the rankings would place the Frogs.
"I think if we got in, we would give one heck of a fight and I think our competitiveness will take over," Duggan said. "I don't really care, especially at this moment. Wherever they tell us we're playing, we'll go play."