With the 2015 college football season winding down, bowl season is already on the horizon. For the Horned Frogs, the postseason is a time of rich history for the program.
The Horned Frogs played their first bowl game back in the 1920 season in the now defunct Fort Worth Classic Bowl. The team lost a lopsided 63-7 affair to Centre College, but it was just one of 30 bowl appearances for the Frogs.
The frequency of bowl appearances for the Frogs was sporadic in the 20th century. Between 1920 and 1998 TCU appeared in 15 bowl games. It was in 1998 that the Frogs found their groove.
That season, the Frogs defeated USC 28-19 in the Sun Bowl. It was a signature win for a non-power five team over one of the most storied programs in the nation, and since then the Frogs have appeared in a bowl game in all but two years, 2004 and 2013.
In other words, TCU has made the cut 15 times in the past 17 seasons. Those 15 bowl appearances match the same amount that the Frogs played in the 68-year period prior to 1998.
Not only have the Frogs been a mainstay in bowl games in recent history, but TCU can boast that they’ve played in each of the “New Year’s Six” bowl games – the most prestigious bowls that are used in the playoff rotation.
The first appearance in any of these six bowl games for the Frogs came back in 1935, when the Frogs defeated LSU in the Sugar Bowl by the low score of 3-2. That was only the second bowl game the Frogs had ever played in.
It was the first of two appearances for the Frogs in the Sugar Bowl, as they would return in 1938 to defeat Carnegie Mellon 15-7.
After the initial Sugar Bowl appearance, the Frogs built upon their resume in 1936, when they defeated Marquette in the Cotton Bowl.
It was the first of six appearances the Frogs made in the Cotton Bowl, the most of a single bowl in program history. However, they haven’t played in the Cotton Bowl since 1958.
TCU failed to reach a bowl game in 1939 and 1940, but in 1941 they made it to the Orange Bowl only to lose to Georgia 40-26. By 1944, each of the past five bowl games the Frogs had appeared in was a “New Year’s Six” bowl.
Following the Cotton Bowl in the 1958 season, it would be 51 years until the Frogs would play in a “New Year’s Six” bowl. In the 2009 season, the Frogs were invited to play in the Fiesta Bowl after an undefeated regular season in the Mountain West Conference. The Frogs would end up losing a heart-breaker, however, falling to Boise State 17-16.
The following season, the 2010 season, would be the year that everything came back together.
After posting yet another undefeated regular season in the Mountain West, the Frogs once again got the nod to play in a “New Year’s Six” bowl. With Oregon in the national championship, this time the Frogs were sent to Pasadena, California for the “grand daddy of them all” – the Rose Bowl.
In arguably one of the most important victories in the history of TCU Football, the Horned Frogs pulled out a come-from-behind victory, defeating Wisconsin 21-19. It was this win that got TCU back on the national stage, and ultimately helped propel them to the Big 12 Conference.
After falling to Michigan State on a last second field goal in the 2012 Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl and then missing the bowl season in 2013 after a 4-8 record, the Frogs managed to check off that final box in 2014 when they played in the sixth “New Year’s Six” bowl game; the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl.
After being left out of the inaugural College Football Playoff, TCU crushed Ole Miss 42-3 in a win that served as a statement to the playoff committee and helped the Frogs to a No. 2 ranking this preseason.
With the Frogs bowl eligible once again this season, TCU will add another chapter to its postseason history.