If you love college football, no Saturday is complete without an early wake-up call and a morning cup of coffee while tuning into America’s favorite pre-game show. That of course, would be none other than ESPN College GameDay.
Ever since the show — which began in 1987 — made the jump to a cross-country campus tour format in the mid 1990s — fans have relished the opportunity for their school to receive a visit from Lee Corso and friends, all-the-while receiving several hours in the national spotlight.
For blue-chip programs, College GameDay visits are now nothing more than an expected event on the annual itinerary — perhaps even multiple times at the same campus throughout the season. But that’s not the case for TCU, a school of just more than 8,000 undergraduate students that will take every opportunity it gets to earn some extra respect and national publicity.
The Horned Frogs will also gladly take a dose of ESPN magic, if you will.
Earlier this week, a chart posted to Reddit.com showed the all-time records for schools that have played in a contest featured on College GameDay. To the delight of Horned Frogs fans, TCU is a perfect 6-0 in those instances. Furthermore, the the Horned Frogs are the only FBS team among those who have hosted the show multiple times to boast an undefeated record when College GameDay has set up camp for a home game, even if just 2-0. Hey — maybe it has something to do with SuperFrog serving as Coro’s 300th head-gear selection last October.
With a marquee non-conference matchup vs. Ohio State, a likely top-25 home game vs. Oklahoma, and an always interesting November road trip to West Virginia all on the schedule for TCU in 2018, there’s a solid chance that the Horned Frogs could be featured on College GameDay for a seventh time this fall. It’s too early to tell right now if that’s in the cards, but the Horned Frogs will certainly be smiling if the case.
So how did TCU attain a perfect record in games where the Horned Frogs have been at the center of attention in all of college football? Let’s take a stroll down memory lane.
October 24, 2009: No. 8 TCU @ No. 16 BYU
The Horned Frogs’ first College GameDay appearance came in Provo, Utah nearly a decade ago, and the battle between TCU and BYU never quite lived up to the hype. The Andy Dalton-led Horned Frogs had a field day vs. the Cougars, jumping out to a 21-0 first-half lead before the BYU finally found the scoreboard with a touchdown to make it 21-7 at halftime.
Any momentum which the Cougars attained, however, was quickly squashed. The TCU defense shutout BYU in the second half while Dalton & Co. tacked on another pair of touchdowns. That, tacked on by a Ross Evans field goal, was enough to give the Horned Frogs a lopsided 38-7 victory in front of a packed house of more than 50,000 at LaVell Edwards Stadium.
Nov. 14, 2009: No. 4 TCU vs. No. 16 Utah
This was the first of several games which some may describe as critical for TCU’s eventual entrance into the Big 12. But first things first, not too shabby when you’ve never had a College GameDay appearance in school history and then get two in a span of three weeks, right?
If TCU’s win over BYU seemed to be lopsided, then the Utah game was nothing short of a massacre. Though the game was tied at 7-7 in the first quarter, the Horned Frogs ran away with it quickly after and led by as much as 34-points in the 4th quarter. Dalton finished the night with 207 passing yards en route to a 55-28 blowout win, and that capped off what any TCU fan will tell you was a perfect day. The Horned Frogs went onto finis the regular season a perfect 12-0 before dropping the Fiesta Bowl.
Nov. 6, 2010: No. 4 TCU @ No. 6 Utah
Utah is certainly thankful that it doesn’t have to face TCU annually anymore given how things panned out almost a year to the date of the whipping which the Horned Frogs gave the Utes in 2009. Once again, the Dalton-led Horned Frogs entered a top-25 showdown with Utah undefeated when the teams met in November 2010, only this time TCU had to walk into hostile conditions against an improved Utes squad at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City.
Needless to say, none of that fazed Gary Patterson and the Horned Frogs, who once again trampled their Mountain West rival in a 47-7 beatdown. TCU rose to No. 3 in the AP rankings after the game as they improved to 10-0 on the season. Once again the Horned Frogs would finish the regular season perfect — only to once again be snubbed of a BCS title game appearance. But the ultimate finale was second best to any national championship, and one that is still celebrated in Fort Worth to this date.
Jan. 1, 2011: The Rose Bowl — No. 3 TCU vs. No. 4 Wisconsin
Being the Granddaddy of Them All, there wasn’t a traditional College GameDay ambience when the episode took place on the Rose Bowl Stadium sidelines, but that fateful New Year’s Day in Pasadena remains the biggest victory in program history for the Horned Frogs.
In what would be the final game at TCU for Dalton, the senior ended the day with 219 passing yards and a passing touchdown, coupled with 9 carries for 28 yards and rushing touchdown himself. But it was the defense that stood tall above all else when it mattered for the Horned Frogs that day, punctuated by Tank Carder’s fourth quarter deflection on a pass that would have otherwise resulted in a game-tying two-point conversion for the Badgers with just minutes left to play. When the confetti fell, it was the Horned Frogs — small but mighty — who were smelling the roses with a 21-19 victory.
Nov. 1, 2014: No. 7 TCU @ No. 20 West Virginia
Quite some time passed after the Rose Bowl before TCU got the College GameDay treatment once again, but that drought was snapped when it was announced that ESPN would be setting up shop in Morgantown, W. Va for a top-25 showdown between the Horned Frogs and Mountaineers in Nov. 2014.
TCU entered the contest 6-1, right there in the discussion as a contender for the inaugural College Football Playoff. It appeared that hope was lost several hours after Corso put on Super Frog’s head backwards, as the Horned Frogs trailed West Virginia 27-14 mid-way through the third quarter. But as so often the case in the Patterson era, the TCU defense held its ground as quarterback Trevone Boykin and running back B.J Catalon — who recorded two second half rushing touchdowns — helped cut the deficit to just two points entering the final minutes of play.
With the ball in their hands and just seconds left on the clock, it all came down to 37-yard field goal attempt from kicker Jaden Oberkrom for TCU to keep its playoff hopes alive. His kick sailed through the uprights, capping off a wild top-25 win for the Horned Frogs while maintaining the team’s perfect College GameDay record.
Oct. 7, 2017: No. 8 TCU vs. No. 23 West Virginia
TCU’s home schedule in 2017 didn’t appear conducive for a College GameDay visit in 2017, but some unexpected dominos that fell early in the year resulted in ESPN’s return to campus for the first time since 2009 when the Horned Frogs hosted No. 23 West Virginia.
Once again, Corso’s headgear selection was a memorable one, as it marked his 300th all-time pick when he gave TCU the nod once again with Super Frog’s head. And just like the 2014 meeting, things appeared wrapped up in the third quarter, though this time it was West Virginia who rallied from down 17-3 to knot the game up at 17-all in a matter of minutes. But late game heroics from quarterback Kenny Hill — including a touchdown catch on a trick play — were enough to put TCU back on top 31-24 with limited time to play in the fourth quarter. West Virginia had a chance to tie the game on a drive with just more than a minute to play, but a turnover on downs gave the Horned Frogs the win — sending them to a 5-0 record.