“Of course it’s been on our minds,” TCU linebacker Ty Summers said.
The Horned Frogs’ 31-point comeback tied the largest turnaround in bowl game history.
TCU’s head coach recalls a mixed bag when recounting his team’s unlikely triumph.
“We were getting our butts kicked in the first half, that’s the first thing I remember,” Gary Patterson said. “Our kids fought back. I think that’s one of the things that’s been one of the staples of our program. When we’ve had great runs, there’s always been an underlying foundation that we’ve been doing it so long, nobody ever panicked.”
TCU running back Kyle Hicks said he watched a number of players grow up in front of him that night.
“I remember that we had a lot of freshmen playing at our receivers with guys missing,” Hicks said. “A lot of guys down. It just speaks to our team: next guy up. Some freshmen made some great plays.”
TCU displays the results of bowl games from each year around the football facilities, and Patterson said his team had a choice on how it wanted to be remembered.
“I just told the seniors, I said, ‘Here is what you get a chance to look at the next three years. What do you want it to say?'” Patterson said. “‘Do you want it to say 31-0 or are we going to fight back, find out what we’re made of?'”
Two key components of TCU’s offensive attack this season, wide receiver John Diarse and quarterback Kenny Hill, weren’t on the team yet, but the game captivated them all the same.
“That whole week I was looking at schools I might transfer to and it was just a great game all the way around,” Diarse said. “It was exciting to see guys come from behind a deficit like that and pull off the win.”
Hill has a similar story of watching the game unfold from his couch.
“I was at home, we got down early and I was like aw man, I don’t even know if I want to watch this second half,” Hill said. “But I watched and saw the comeback, I was going nuts.”
TCU’s “super-legend,” quarterback Bram Kohlhausen set numerous program records for a single bowl game performance: offensive yards (396), plays (56), completions (28), passing yards (351) and pass attempts (45).
“It’s a moment that’s unforgettable and we’ve been talking about it all week,” Diarse said. “It’s one of the games that will be stamped in TCU history for a while.”
Running Kyle Hicks played with Kohlhausen, and he agreed with Hill’s assessment.
“He is a TCU legend and he’s an Alamo Bowl legend too,” Hicks said. “It’s incredible on such short that you’re given the keys to the car and he comes out and performs that well.”
When Hill had to fight for the starting quarterback spot two years ago in camp against Foster Sawyer, he kept Bram’s work ethic on his mind.
“Foster and I went through the battle, and I thought even if I don’t win, I’ll try and do what Bram did,” Hill said. “It’s that one game where you never know when your time is going to come.”
While it’s fun looking back, Patterson has made a point of making sure his team has their eyes zeroed in on this year’s matchup.
“You’d better not look backwards very long or you’ll find out you’ll get slapped across the side of the head because we’re not playing Oregon anymore, we’re playing Stanford,” Patterson said.
Entering Thursday’s matchup with Stanford, the Horned Frogs are doing everything they can to make sure one element from their last Alamo Bowl appearance doesn’t make a repeat occurrence.
“One thing we took from it I think the most is to start fast this time, not make it so difficult to come back,” Summers said. “Just come and hit the ground running in the first quarter.”
TCU and Stanford will face each other in the 2017 Valero Alamo Bowl Dec. 28. Kick-off is set for 8:00 p.m.