AUSTIN, Texas — No. 4 TCU secured a spot in the Big 12 championship game with a 17-10 win over Texas on Saturday, a remarkable rise for a team that finished 5-7 last season and a coach in the first year has Sonny Dykes.
But success didn’t seem to match 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 doubt is only part of his team’s story this season.
“I didn’t really know until Wednesday,” Dykes said of the underdog role. “We don’t want to get things for free. That’s the one thing we’ve been talking about all year. Let’s earn this.”
Dykes, who became the first coach in Big 12 history to win his first 10 games, has consistently reminded his team that they were ranked seventh in preseason standings, and if they didn’t listen to underdogs back then, why start now?
“Nobody but ourselves had any expectations from this football team,” he said. “We understand that it is so. Our deal was, ‘Hey, move it on.’ If we have to win them all, fine; let’s try to win them all.”
The Horned Frogs had to veer away from their usual offensive fireworks due to defensive pressure from Texas and instead deployed a suffocating home defense to hold Texas for 199 total yards, the fewest in a home game since the Big 12 began playing in 1996. Bijan Robinson had just 29 rushing yards in 12 carries, his fewest in the past two seasons, and Texas’ three offensive points (the Longhorns’ only touchdown came after a fumble return late in the fourth quarter) were the 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 the Navy in his first season with TCU, said it was “crazy” that the Frogs were underdogs and explained that the defense acknowledged the College Football Playoff Committee’s criticism of their performance have taken.
“We have our own chips,” Hodges said, “[like] obviously the disrespect we get from the nation. I think our defense has a little chip to prove something.”
Dykes called the unit’s performance as head coach “the best it’s ever been.”
“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 decisions,” Dykes said. “I mean, to narrow this offense down to three counts, are you kidding? This is an offense full of future NFL players, draft picks. I thought it was a damn good performance.”
https://www.espn.com/college-football/story/_/id/35015452/sonny-dykes-unbothered-underdog-label-tcu-stays-undefeated Sonny Dykes unbothered by underdog label as TCU stays undefeated