It would be tough to find a better turnaround story in college football than Max Duggan, the Texas Christian quarterback who started the season on the bench and is now attracting Heisman Trophy hype.
Duggan is the main reason the Horned Frogs are 6-0, ranked No. 8 and tied atop the Big 12 standings. The senior has completed 69.5% of his passes while accounting for 20 touchdowns (16 passing, four rushing) with one interception. It’s tough to find a more efficient and productive quarterback.
An injury to starter Chandler Morris in the season-opening game at Colorado gave Duggan an opportunity to play. Duggan initially lost his job in late October 2021, after a 31-12 loss at Kansas State that led to coach Gary Patterson’s dismissal. Duggan decided not to transfer, a lucky break for TCU first-year coach Sonny Dykes.
With so much on the line Saturday, it’s ironic that Kansas State is next on the schedule. The 17th-ranked Wildcats (5-1) have their own quarterback with a turnaround story because Adrian Martinez has been rejuvenated since transferring from Nebraska.
Martinez, a turnover waiting to happen when he played for the Cornhuskers, has accounted for 1,446 yards (900 passing, 546 rushing) and 13 total touchdowns with no interceptions this season. Kansas State also has an elite running back in Deuce Vaughn and a defense allowing 16.7 points per game.
The Wildcats are off a bye and have a scheduling advantage against a TCU team that has won four consecutive big games, capped by a 43-40 double-overtime victory over Oklahoma State last week.
Kansas State coach Chris Klieman is 3-0 against TCU and won 21-14 as a 9-point underdog in Fort Worth two years ago.
Duggan, whose football career was in jeopardy in 2020 when an abnormality in his heart was discovered, is a great story on what has become a Top 10 team. Still, Klieman and the Wildcats will be dangerous dogs in this spot.
Pick: Kansas State + 3.5
Four more plays for Saturday (HOME team in CAPS):
LIBERTY (+ 7) over Brigham Young: This is a much bigger game for coach Hugh Freeze and the Flames, who are 6-1 with a one-point loss at Wake Forest. The Cougars are stronger on the offensive and defensive lines, which is why they are road favorites, but this is a bad spot for BYU after its defense was beat up by Arkansas and Notre Dame the past two weeks.
Ucla (+ 6.5) over OREGON:
Chip Kelly is 0-3 against Oregon as the Bruins’ coach, but the last two losses were each by three points and this should be another close call. UCLA’s offense is hot with veteran dual-threat quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson and running back Zach Charbonnet leading the way. Thompson-Robinson, completing 74.8% of his passes with 15 touchdowns and two interceptions, has the ability to outplay Ducks quarterback Bo Nix.
LSU (-1) over Mississippi:
Jayden Daniels basically threw a perfect game in the Tigers’ win at Florida last week, when he piled up 393 total yards and six touchdowns. Daniels will either regress this week or continue to show he’s clicking in coach Brian Kelly’s offense. Either way, LSU has the stronger defense, and Daniels should be worth a bet against an Ole Miss defense that just allowed a combined 62 points to weaker Auburn and Vanderbilt offenses. The Rebels’ running attack is impressive, but their schedule has been soft.
WISCONSIN (-2) over Purdue:
The Badgers own the better defense and they are playing hard for interim coach Jim Leonhard, who needs to win games like this to earn the permanent job. The Boilermakers’ big advantage is quarterback Aidan O’Connell and the far superior offense. Wisconsin has a 15-game winning streak in this series, so I need to see Purdue pull off a small upset in Madison to believe it.
5-3 against the spread