TCU rewrites history in Fiesta Bowl to make national title game


Glendale, Ariz. — On one of Sonny Dykes’ early days TCUHe was given a gift by a fan of a horned frog.

It was a copy of the 1952 book “Spread Formation Football” by Dutch Meyer, the legendary Frogs coach who is the spiritual ancestor of Dykes and known for his offensive fireworks and versatile passing attack, with Sammy Baugh and Davey O’Brien overseeing the quarterbacks.

This copy is not just any copy. It features a handwritten inscription from Meyer to Amon G. Carter, the newspaper publisher and Fort Worth civic booster whose name adorns the TCU football stadium. It resides in Dykes’ office, where he first lived just 12 months ago when the Frogs were coming off a 5-7 season. He will return this week to prepare for the College Football Playoff National Championship — a title TCU last claimed in 1938, when Meyer wandered the sidelines.

Dykes, a history buff, had no idea then that he would write his own chapter so soon.

TCU, a private school that dropped out of the Big 12 when the Southwest Conference was dissolved in 1996, had to fight and scratch its way back to relevance, finally earning a Big 12 slot in 2012. Overlooked again after going 11-1 in 2014, the Horned Frogs finally got their shot and were undaunted, delivering the biggest upset in the CFP era, defeating No. 2 Michigan, 51-45The highest scoring game in Fiesta Bowl history.

After going 12-0 in the regular season and winning seven games by 10 points or less, TCU has survived and advanced all season. The Horned Frogs did it again with a bang against Saturday MichiganThe 13-0 Big Ten champions made a playoff appearance last year when TCU was at home.

“I thought we were definitely the most physical team on the field tonight,” Dykes said.

They did it behind a first-year coach in Dykes, who went 19-30 and was fired Cal In his only previous Power 5. They did it with a three-man front against Michigan’s formidable offensive line, which won the Joe Moore Award as the nation’s best unit and pushed the Wolverines’ offense around, including rushing for 265 yards. , nearly 100 yards more than Michigan.

They did it with their indomitable quarterback, Max Dugana preseason backup who never played in a bowl game in his TCU career, who was the runner-up for the Heisman Trophy and is now the first player in history with multiple passing and rushing TDs in a College Football Playoff game (two passing, two rushing) ) Dykes speculated this week that the team 125 players never bowled.

They did it on the back of a great defensive effort Dylan HortonA defensive end who was not ranked or given a star rating as a recruit, who began his college career as a safety new mexico, then transferred to TCU and put on 75 pounds. Against the Wolverines’ collection of blue-chip talent, Horton had four sacks, a forced fumble and a pass breakup. The Horned Frogs’ defense, which was questioned earlier in the season by the CFP committee, responded with two pick-sixes.

Even though they started running behind, they lost and won Kendre Miller, who rushed for 1,342 yards and 17 TDs this year — left the game with a knee injury with about five minutes left in the first half. his backup, Emari DemercadoA junior-college transfer from Saddleback College who had one career 100-yard game at TCU in 2018, had 17 carries for 150 yards and a touchdown.

Dykes did it in the first game since his mentor, Mike Leach, died — using a version of Leach’s Air Raid offense to level the playing field between the haves and have-nots.

“He probably got a kick out of it,” Dykes said.

The private school with 93,000 living alumni ranks 38th all-time on the NCAA wins list (tied with Virginia) tied with Michigan, which has drawn more than 100,000 fans in 309 consecutive football games and is the winningest program in college football history.

All week long, TCU was confident while Michigan seemed overconfident at times. Michigan linebacker Junior Colson Confirmation of TCU’s conference affiliation is required.

“You always have to fight for credibility,” Dykes said after the win. It’s part of the deal. It’s part of the Horned Frog Way.”

In making the playoffs, TCU managed to shake off the ghost of 2014, when the Horned Frogs blew a 24-point lead 61-58. Baylor Then dropped from third to sixth in the final CFP rankings, falling behind State of Florida And Ohio State Despite not playing in the last week of the season. Now, they are the first Texas team to play for the national title since the Longhorns in 2009.

It’s not always pretty, and it’s not always the same formula. But these frogs keep finding new ways to win.

“This is who we are, this is our football team, and we’re looking forward to making it again in 10 days and getting a chance to win a national championship,” Dykes said.

Now, he gets a chance at history himself, behind a sprawling offense and a quarterback who won the Davey O’Brien Award, named after Meyer’s star, the Frogs’ only Heisman winner.

Eighty-four years after Meyer made the Horned Frog a college football darling, Dykes can find inspiration in the inside covers of the books on his shelf.

“The expansion formation has wowed fans across the country and produced championship teams for Texas Christian University.”


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