MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – No. 7 TCU is still working on putting together an ideal performance on both sides of the ball.
For now, the Horned Frogs are happy to still have a perfect record.
Max Duggan threw three touchdown passes, Kendre Miller ran for 120 yards and a score and TCU used big plays on offense to beat West Virginia 41-31 Saturday.
Though the Horned Frogs had four plays of at least 50 yards, with three going for touchdowns, they had to fight hard in the fourth quarter to hold on.
“We’re not playing for how pretty it looks," Duggan said. “We’re playing to get that win, whether it’s won by one or by 40. Obviously, there’s things that we need to work on that will make it easier for us.”
The Horned Frogs (8-0, 5-0 Big 12) didn’t need a comeback from a double-digit deficit like they did in their two previous games. Duggan staked TCU to a 28-21 halftime lead that held up.
TCU has won its first eight games for the first time since 2015 and broke a four-game losing streak to the Mountaineers.
Duggan previously had gone 0-3 against West Virginia. He changed that by completing 16 of 28 passes for 341 yards.
“We're grateful to be 8-0," he said. "You're never going to take winning for granted. We know it's hard to win in this league, especially on the road.”
West Virginia (3-5, 1-4), which was coming off a season-low 282 yards of offense in a lopsided loss at last week at Texas Tech, gave the Horned Frogs a fight.
JT Daniels threw a 23-yard TD pass to Reese Smith with 4:12 left to cut the Mountaineers' deficit to 34-31. TCU recovered the ensuing onside kick, but Duggan was intercepted by Malachi Ruffin at the West Virginia 16, giving the Mountaineers another chance. West Virginia was forced to punt, and Duggan found Savion Williams with a 29-yard scoring toss on fourth down with 20 seconds left.
After combining for 637 yards of offense before halftime, both teams squandered several second-half touchdown chances from inside the opponent's 20.
The Mountaineers recovered a muffed punt at the TCU 17 early in the third quarter, but settled for a field goal. On its next possession, West Virginia drove to the TCU 4, but Daniels threw incomplete into the end zone on fourth down. TCU then drove 95 yards to the West Virginia 1. Quentin Johnston was tackled for an 11-yard loss on third down, resulting in a short field goal for a 31-24 lead.
“Some crazy stuff happened in this game today,” said TCU's Sonny Dykes, who joined Francis Schmidt in 1929 as the only Horned Frogs coaches to win their opening eight games. “There was some wild plays, some strange stuff.”
West Virginia mistakes contributed to TCU's first three touchdowns.
Duggan took advantage of blown coverage in the secondary, throwing TD tosses of 71 yards to Taye Barber and 55 yards to Johnston. Midway through the second quarter, Daniels was hit going back to pass and fumbled. TCU recovered at its 49 and Miller scored untouched on the next play for a 21-14 lead.
Miller now has a rushing TD in nine straight games.
Daniels finished 23 of 39 for 275 yards for West Virginia, which now needs to win three of its final four games to become bowl eligible.
“I thought our guys competed, really played their tails off,” West Virginia coach Neal Brown said. “I'm proud of how they played. We're based on outcomes. I get that. The outcome wasn't what we wanted. We just didn't make enough plays in the second half.”
TCU: The Horned Frogs weren't dominant, but they did enough to stay atop the Big 12 standings.
West Virginia: The Mountaineers put up a fight on offense despite being without two injured linemen and leading rusher Tony Mathis. Freshman running back CJ Donaldson, who finished with 104 yards, twice left the game with injuries. West Virginia kept the game close after starting slowly in its three previous games.
TCU should hold onto its top 10 ranking.
TCU hosts Texas Tech next Saturday. The Horned Frogs have won the last three meetings.
West Virginia visits Iowa State next Saturday. The Mountaineers had lopsided losses in their last two trips to Ames, Iowa.
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