AUSTIN, Texas — No. 4 TCU clinched a spot in the Big 12 championship game with a 17-10 win over Texas on Saturday, a remarkable climb for a team that finished 5-7 last season and has a first-year coach in Sonny Dykes.
Yet, success hasn’t seemed to equal respect for the Horned Frogs (10-0, 7-0 in the Big 12), as they rolled into Austin as 7.5-point underdogs despite being undefeated. After the win, Dykes said being doubted is just part of his team’s story this season.
“I didn’t really know until about Wednesday,” Dykes said about the underdog role. “We don’t want to be given things. That’s the one thing that we’ve talked about all year. Let’s earn this.”
Dykes, who became the first coach in Big 12 history to win his first 10 games, has continued to remind his team that it was picked seventh in the preseason standings, and if it didn’t listen to outsiders then, why start now?
“Nobody had any expectations for this football team at all other than ourselves,” he said. “We understand that’s the way it is. Our deal has been, ‘Hey, bring it on.’ If we’ve got to win ’em all, fine; let’s try to win ’em all.”
The Horned Frogs had to adjust from their usual offensive fireworks due to Texas’ defensive pressure, instead using a stifling defense of their own to hold Texas to 199 total yards, its fewest in a home game since the Big 12 began play in 1996. Bijan Robinson had just 29 rushing yards on 12 carries, his fewest in the past two seasons, and Texas’ three offensive points (the Longhorns’ lone touchdown came on a fumble return late in the fourth quarter) were its fewest at home since a 66-3 loss to UCLA in 1997. And TCU did it in front of 104,203 fans, the second-largest crowd in Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium history.
Since TCU joined the Big 12 in 2012, the Horned Frogs are 8-3 against Texas, including 5-1 in Austin.
Linebacker Johnny Hodges, a transfer from Navy in his first season with TCU, said it was “crazy” the Frogs were underdogs, stating that the defense has taken note of criticism from the College Football Playoff committee about its performance.
“We have our own chips,” Hodges said, “[like] obviously the disrespect that we get from the nation. I think our defense has a little chip, a little something to prove.”
Dykes called the unit’s performance “as good as I’ve ever been around” as a head coach.
“I thought [defensive coordinator] Joe Gillespie did a great job, had a real sense of what Texas was trying to do and made some great calls,” Dykes said. “I mean, to hold this offense to three points, are you kidding? This is an offense full of future NFL players, draft picks. I thought it was a hell of a performance.”