college football writer
Glendale, Arizona — Soccer is a physics-based sport.
22 players collide with impossible forces across time and space. Just like the object moving in its center, the Pigskin, moves until it stops, or stops for celebration or despair.
Physics took a brief pause as the night sank into the last vestiges of the final night of 2022 and the clock struck zero following the wildest Fiesta Bowl in recent memory. Just as the raucous celebration began following No. 3 TCUIn a remarkable 51-45 upset in Michigan on New Year’s Eve, the purple-and-white confetti rained from the roof of State Farm Stadium, still in the stale desert air, and the party below. It seemed to float above.
TCU upsets Michigan at Fiesta Bowl
The Hypnotoad sign, which was always present on the sidelines, stopped spinning. The heavy-duty offensive and defensive lineman suddenly felt light on his feet and hugged himself in the air.Unbelievable back-and-forth college football Hands that spent all night sweating in his playoff semi-finals were suddenly It was dry and always raised overhead. The formerly airborne cheerleaders were glued to the natural turf in shock of what had happened.
It was only a brief moment of suspended animation, but for Horned Frogs fans, it was a burst of wonderful travel memories that will forever remain in their hearts. I am trying.
Finally, the school was looked down upon by peers, sidelined by violent meetings, started all the way from the very bottom of the sport, but finally reached all the precipices when no one believed they could .
“Look, this is our whole life. It’s the life of these football players, the life of the coaching staff. That’s what we do. We put our heart and soul into this.” AP He was the head coach during the pole years and won a national title in his first year with the program. “Everyone here makes a lot of sacrifices.
“I mean, what a terrible football game.”
Just a football game. This was no run-of-the-mill semi-final for the right to play for the championship. It was an epic matchup that has been debated for years as one of the most thrilling games of all time, one where the stakes match.
big play? There were 25 yards total over 15 yards.
defense? Whatever the final score read, there was plenty of it too: TCU’s Bud Clarke and Dee Winters each scored on his two sets of excellent interceptions on his return. They were part of a unit that would keep the Wolverines and their excellent rushing offense out of the end zone three times once they reached the red zone in the first half alone. .
Then there was the back-and-forth finishing flourish that would play out for years to come. and created a fumble recovery.
“It’s unbelievable like this[to win]after doing it for 30 years,” said TCU wide receivers coach Doug Meacham, who spent six years at TCU. You start thinking about winning one by one and you start thinking about making the next game the most important game it’s like building as you go and you see the light at the end of the tunnel play for things And Michigan is a big school with a lot of people supporting us, we’re a small private school in Texas and we beat them.”
TCU is the second smallest Power 5 school in terms of enrollment and by far the smallest school to ever make it to the college football playoffs. Being an ahem toad, a little guy who can do that, is almost inherent in their DNA. They have exceeded expectations and continued to thrive in the face of every obstacle thrown in their way.
When the Southwest Conference dissolved, the college didn’t have the alumni base or the historic success that other leagues coveted. Without the political backing to join the newly formed Big 12, he sank down to the WAC just to find a landing spot. After Dennis Franchione achieved some success and landed a bigger job, school officials called on his little-known defensive coordinator, Gary Patterson, to build momentum and continue an upward trajectory. Helped me get started.
Patterson quickly became the lock the program needed, and made his name by turning underrated and overlooked recruits into key players as the program began to win and win big. I left WAC for the USA and immediately moved to the tougher Mountain West. After turning to bigger moves and briefly agreeing to join the Big East, they finally convinced a number of their old SWC rivals to let them join the Big 12 in 2012.
Just as many people thought it would be hard to find a new home with a power 5, Horned Frog loved to prove others wrong. They nearly made their first 2014 college football playoffs, but were controversially left behind in the final weekend, finishing the season ranked third in the nation.
However, TCU was never able to return to the same level, and after finally reaching the title game of the Big 12 in 2017, the program seemed to stall. G. Carter Stadium was finally shown its doors after a 3-5 start last season.
TCU Athletic Director Jeremiah Donati said, “It was the toughest decision in our 150-year history. “At the same time, we had to make changes. We had to keep the program moving forward. So when the decision was made, Sonny was very straightforward. It popped up right away as a choice. He ticked all the boxes we needed.”
Some ADs may have been intimidated by hiring someone labeled a retread head coach, but Dykes turned out to be exactly what the defensively oriented program needed. I mean, someone who understands what it’s like to ride the ups and downs of college football, but can do better. on the other side.
After a campaign full of impressive comebacks, now his team is looking to win it all.
“I think our players and coaches did a really good job coming out of the Kansas loss, looking in the mirror and saying, ‘Hey, what could we do better?’ “I like it,” Dykes added. No, we are all working together on this issue.”
This was especially true through the team’s impressive performance in 2022. This team featured comeback after comeback, including his seven-game stretch of conference play where he won every game by 10 points or less. The Horned Frogs initially voted him 7th in the Big 12 preseason voting, but finished 2nd, becoming the first team in the league and also the first from Lone Star State itself to win his game in the playoffs. I was.
Not bad for a group that didn’t even get votes in the AP Top 25 poll until six weeks into the season. And bad for a team where the previously undefeated Wolverines were forced to resort to flea flickers and shot plays just to get back into a game that at one point tended to another of his CFP outbursts. is not.
Linebacker Johnny Hodges said, “Football is a game of punching people in the mouth and getting punched in the mouth.” We heard them week after week saying they could run easy We put it on our shoulders like a chip Because they hadn’t seen the movie or seen what we did is.
“We knew we were in their heads when they were deep in the bag. They weren’t sure if they had to do it.”
Despite Michigan turning the ball over three times in the game and averaging seven yards per play, the Wolverines emptied two red zone trips and also scored a short field goal at the two-yard line. They recorded an amazing 18 drives and 15-point turnovers, but Michigan never led.
“They’ve never played 3-3-5. I think that was the big key in this game tonight,” said TCU with a 41-yard pick 6 on their second drive of the game to give TCU the lead. said Clark, who gave never abandoned. “They usually play teams on 4th down (lineman front). It’s a different view for them. They’ve never seen anyone on 3rd down.”
Labeled as a four-star recruit by some, Clark was a symbol of many underdogs coming together to accelerate this run. A sophomore, he was among the top 350 fringe players in the country and outside the top 10 players in Louisiana when he dropped out of high school. Still, the former Patterson recruit proved to be a key part of the operation in the back end, recording a team-high fifth interception of the year, making him a key figure in his TCU defense. Growing up to one, passing clogged his lane and split his passes deep with length and speed.
“No one thought we were going to win. Everyone doubted us,” added offensive guard Steve Avila, the school’s consensus All-American for the first time in seven seasons. “Working out at 5am, looking back at all the training we’ve been through, this is the testament to that accomplishment. It’s all I can think of and I’m so proud of you guys.” .”
That hard work proved to pay dividends as the two sides traded haymakers in one fell swoop, a heavyweight battle properly introduced by Michael Buffer before the match.
But every time they were pushed to the brink, TCU found a way out.
Starting tailback Kendre Miller injured his knee when he was tackled near the goal line late in the first half. But with the addition of backup Emali Demercado, the Horned Frogs’ ground game really kicked in. The senior, who grew up just miles from the U.S. title game in Inglewood, Calif., and dropped into the junior college ranks before arriving in Fort Worth, racked up his career-high 150 yards and a touchdown. spent the night.
Then there was quarterback Max Duggan. Although he started the year on the bench, he ended up as a Heisman Trophy runner-up. It was nowhere near the veteran signal-caller’s best outing (14-29, 225 yards, 2 touchdowns, 2 interceptions), but he did have a lot to offer Moxie that got the Frogs to this point. He escaped the pressure all night, hitting two defenders in the face with a backpedaling throw and a 76-yard touchdown by Quentin Johnston just after the Wolverines cut the lead to three. Caught out of the air for a pass.
It was a pass that seemed to hang in the air a fraction of a second longer than it should have landed in the perfect place at the perfect time. It was a fitting play for the two players on the destined team that led them to .
National Championship Preview: Georgia vs. TCU
“There were times when we got down on our knees and thought about my father[Spike Dykes]and[my mentor, the late Mike Leach]. It’s pretty special when you can. And you sure wish you could share with them,’ Dykes said after a pause. And it was an old-fashioned shootout, something he would have kicked out.”
A sport rooted in the constant physical movement that defines each contest, college football is often most meaningful in those brief, flickering moments where you pause and reflect on everything.
That’s what TCU is doing a lot today, as Horned Frogs writes the next chapter with an amazing road to the top.
FOX Sports Top Stories:
Bryan Fischer is a College Football Writer for FOX Sports. He has worked for NBC Sports, CBS Sports, Yahoo!Sports and his NFL.com. Follow @BryanDFischer on Twitter.
learn more from college football Follow your favorites to stay informed about games, news and more