There’s no denying the TCU quarterback is taking the underdog role to another level this season.
Although Max Duggan was a three-year starter for the Horned Frogs, he entered their 2022 campaign as a backup to Chandler Morris. It was a head-scratcher to many fans that first-year coach Sonny Dykes would give the nod to a freshman, considering all of Duggan’s experience, production and leadership.
After all, Duggan had 5,920 yards through the air, 1,433 on the ground and scored 60 total touchdowns prior to the opener at Colorado. So it had to be a humbling experience for the gunslinger to be on the bench to start his senior year.
However, Morris sprained his knee in the third quarter against the Buffaloes, which put Duggan back behind center, and he never looked back. The former four-star prospect led the Horned Frogs on three touchdown drives in the fourth quarter and TCU won the game by 25 points.
At that point Dykes understood Duggan’s value to the team, and the rest is history on the gridiron. Duggan has carved up defenses with his comeback heroics all season long, and led TCU to 12-0 start. And if it wasn’t for a couple of controversial calls at the goal line in the Big 12 Championship Game, the Horned Frogs would still be undefeated.
Which is why it was a no-brainer that Duggan was named the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year, and won the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, plus the Davey O’Brien as the nation’s top quarterback. His grit, determination and toughness is what got him the invite to New York.
It’s unfortunate that the signal-caller was the Heisman runner-up though. Several College football fanatics thought he deserved to win the hardware. Still, the Horned Frogs earned the No. 3 seed in the Playoffs, and that was better than any consolation prize. No one gave TCU a chance against Michigan either. So Duggan and his teammates used that as motivation.
The Horned Frogs shocked the world and beat the Wolverines 51-45. Not only did TCU’s offense steamroll Michigan’s star-studded defense, but it was the most points the unit had allowed since 2019. Now Duggan is the first quarterback from the greater Omaha/Council Bluffs area, to be playing in the National Championship Game since Nebraska’s Eric Crouch accomplished that feat in 2001.
Duggan is currently 10th in the FBS in passing efficiency and touchdown tosses. Not to mention he needs two touchdown passes to break TCU’s single-season record. Once again, no one is giving TCU a chance against Georgia. The reigning National Champs are out to show that the almighty SEC still rules the sport with an iron fist.
The Bulldogs haven’t faced a team this season like the Horned Frogs though. Duggan and his teammates have a warrior-like mentality. It’s no mystery that the Horned Frogs are as scrappy as they come, and they never say die, no matter what’s on the scoreboard.
And that’s what makes TCU very dangerous, despite the fact that Georgia has a roster full of four and five-star recruits. It only adds more fuel to the fire that the Horned Frogs are double-digit underdogs. Fans must realize that Dykes is a veteran coach, who’s a natural at x’s and o’s. TCU has veteran leadership in key areas on both sides of the ball too.
No doubt this will be the biggest stage Duggan has ever played on, but he’s approaching the matchup like he’s been there before. Duggan is already a future Hall of Famer, but if he can lead TCU to a National Title, the University may put a statue of him outside Amon G. Carter Stadium. And that will definitely cement his legacy in Horned Frog lore.