Saturday’s Big 12 Championship Game will pit No. 3-ranked TCU against No. 10 Kansas State. The Perfect 12-0 Horned Frogs will place their undefeated record on the line. TCU defeated Kansas State 38-28 earlier this campaign. K-State is anxious for revenge.
TCU appears headed for the four-team College Football Playoff. The committee can’t possibly justify snubbing an undefeated Big 12 champion. However, a loss to Kansas State could place TCU’s would-be postseason berth in harm’s way with the likes of Alabama and Ohio State knocking on the committee’s door.
Several high-end 2023 NFL Draft prospects will take the field for both TCU and Kansas State and their talents will directly shape the outcome. We’ve identified three players that are Saturday’s Big 12 Championship Game X-factors on opposing sides.
TRE’VIUS HODGES-TOMLINSON CB, TCU
A Jim Thorpe Award finalist, TCU cornerback Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson has taken sizable steps forward this season. His new-found ball production is attaching a jetpack to his pre-draft stock. Hodges-Tomlinson has accounted for 10 pass breakups and a career-high three interceptions this season. Hodges-Tomlinson is allowing a passer rating of under 50.0, via Pro Football Focus.
Hodges-Tomlinson made an impact in October’s win over Kansas State. Hodges-Tomlinson recorded an interception with 3:53 remaining in the fourth quarter. It essentially ended K-State’s would-be comeback efforts.
Kansas State offensive coordinator Collin Klein will be aware of Hodges-Tomlinson’s positioning. Klein should craft an offensive game plan that limits Hodges-Tomlinson’s ability to directly impact Saturday’s outcome from the nickel spot. Hodges-Tomlinson is capable of making a momentum-swinging play.
FELIX ANUDIKE-UZOMAH EDGE, KANSAS STATE
Kansas State’s Felix Anudike-Uzomah just captured Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year honors. Anudike-Uzomah recorded 39 tackles, 10.0 tackles for a loss, and 7.5 sacks this season. Anudike-Uzomah’s contributions didn’t go unnoticed. In-house scout Kyle Crabbs sent Anudike-Uzomah to the Kansas City Chiefs in his latest NFL mock draft.
The No. 48 overall player in November’s TDN100 update, Anudike-Uzomah failed to record a sack in October’s 10-point loss to TCU. Anudike-Uzomah will be anxious to avenge that missed opportunity by sacking TCU quarterback Max Duggan.
Anudike-Uzomah is an explosive pass rusher whose first step creates headaches for opposing offensive linemen. TCU’s offensive coaching staff will be aware of the threat he poses. If Kansas State is to execute the upset, it may be because Anudike-Uzomah enjoyed a legendary championship performance.
KENDRE MILLER RB, TCU
TCU running back Kendre Miller was TCU’s most notable offensive performer in October’s victory over Kansas State. Miller rushed for 153 yards and two touchdowns via 29 carries. Both of Miller’s touchdowns were second-half scores. The first minimized K-State’s lead to 28-24. Miller’s second TD clinched TCU’s comeback victory in the dying minutes of the fourth quarter.
Miller helped TCU control the clock in their Week 8 victory. TCU dominated the time of possession (53:05 – 21:55). Kansas State’s defense simply had no answer for Miller’s abilities. Kansas State defensive coordinator Joe Klanderman will make slowing Miller down a priority. It’s easier said than done. Riding Miller’s production is a clear X-factor for TCU’s ability to bring home the Big 12 Championship.
- Jan 10, 2023
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