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FOW Roundtable: Remembering the Valero Alamo Bowl

The Frogs O' War staff talks about where they were, how they felt, and their biggest takeaways from the insanity that was the Valero Alamo Bowl.

Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports

We’re all still bathing in the afterglow of Saturday’s win. This is going to be one of those moments that we all remember forever. If you’re like me you’ve probably been reading every article you could find and rewatching the game non-stop over the last few days, trying to recapture the euphoria that we all felt after witnessing our team triumph in such a special moment in sports history.

We’ll never quite get that feeling back just the way it was, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t fun to relive the moment. We know that being fans of such a special school, there will be more incredible moments like Saturday, but until we add another chapter to TCU’s growing list of improbable and unbelievable sports memories, we at Frogs O’ War want to take some time to relive what was one of the most exciting bowl games anyone has ever seen.

What were your expectations going into the game?

Swayze: Yeah, I’ll be honest. I did not think it was going to go very well. After reading up on Oregon’s season and learning how hot they had been as a team leading up to the bowl game, I was not optimistic about our chances of beating them without Trevone Boykin. I knew their defense could be porous at times, but it just seemed like we wouldn’t have enough firepower without Boykin and Doctson. I’m not saying I gave up hope. I was at the game up in Norman. I knew that we had a chance to beat good teams even with our backups. I just thought it was a very small chance that we could accomplish something like that twice in one season.

Sam: I was actually fairly confident going into this game. I was bummed ALL DAY after waking up to the news of Boykin. But the next day, after taking some time to think about everything, I started to feel more confident in Bram. I mean, come on. He was two points away from beating playoff team Oklahoma. He must’ve felt destroyed after his pass was batted away. Bram would be coming into the Alamo Bowl with some unfinished business to take care of. I had a feeling he would use this opportunity to redeem everything that happened in Oklahoma.

Jamie: I thought along these lines: If the Bram Kohlhausen that showed up in the second half of the Oklahoma game, we’d have a shot. I wasn’t feeling very good about our defense matching up against the Oregon offense, but if OU Bram showed, it would be a close game. Thank the good Lord above that he did, once again, in the second half.

Warrior Horned Frog: The phrase I’d been using in the 48 hours before the game was "cautiously optimistic." I’d liked what I’d seen from Kohlhausen pretty much every time I’d seen him play, so I thought we had a CHANCE. Frankly, I was way MORE bummed after the first half than after the Boykin story came out.

Felts: I was pretty nervous going into the game. Even with Boykin, I was resigned to the idea that TCU was going to be in a dogfight with Oregon. To me, it had the potential to be of one of those back-and-forth, all-time classics where the team with the ball last was the team that would win. After the Boykin news, I was pretty discouraged, but as the game approached, I became more optimistic. I thought that maybe, just maybe, all of the injuries throughout the course of the season could be a blessing in disguise and the backups would be ready to go. I saw that Oregon was a 7.5-point favorite at kickoff, and if you forced me to pick, I probably would have taken the over.

Mason: Well with a healthy Vernon Adams, who's been playing lights out the past six weeks...I was pretty nervous knowing that our offense without TB, would have to go toe to toe with his. You give Gary a month to prepare for anyone and it's not unreasonable to believe that the Frogs can pull off the win against anybody. However, I knew that a win here was unlikely, so I threw up a prayer tweet.

Carrie Underwood still hasn't responded to me...

Where were you when it happened, and how nuts did that place get?

Swayze: As some of you might know, I was at my own wedding. The game kicked off pretty much right in the middle of our ceremony. By the time I got done with pictures, etc. and made it to the reception, we were already down 28-0. I told the wedding planner that if at any time we were within 21 points I wanted to be notified. She had her assistant checking the scores for me while we got everybody fed, did the first dances and cut the cake.

After we finished with all of that TCU was already back in the game. By that time the cigars had been broken out and a large group of us spent the rest of regulation on the patio smoking them, huddled around a table with cell phones arranged on either side of the centerpiece streaming ESPN.  We were getting loud on every third down and letting loose several chants of "T-C-U!" and "We all we got! We all we need!"  I imagine that the hotel’s regular guests were not happy about it.

For most of overtime I had to retire to the dance floor to accompany my bride. Luckily she wanted updates just as much as I did and my groomsmen made sure to keep a phone with the game on near us the whole time and give us score updates. I the middle of the last dance my best man followed us around the dance floor with his phone so we could watch the third overtime. The reception let out just as TCU won the game and we all exploded in more "T-C-U" chants that pretty much continued straight up until my wife and I ducked (*cough*) into the getaway car and made our exit.

Marsh: I was there. It was pretty electric. Once TCU got to 17 points, I knew we could win. The Alamo Bowl was brilliant, with the turf and mugginess, it feels like a garage and thus isn’t ideal for players, but from a fan perspective it’s incredible. So loud–especially when you take into consideration that it was like 70-30 TCU fans.

Coach Melissa: I was there, section 222, just about smack dab in the middle of the TCU end zone. It was so hot - I have to disagree with Marsh about it being incredible for fans haha. I am pretty superstitious, so I have kind of a funny story about where I watched the third quarter. One of my students performed in the halftime show, and as tempted as I was to bail (don’t worry, I never would have), I stayed to support her. After, I went up to the top deck where her troupe was sitting, and talked to her for most of the remaining halftime. I was heading back towards my seat when I heard the Frog Horn, and ran down to a tunnel to see what happened. I saw the fumbled kickoff from that vantage point, and decided I couldn’t go back to my seat as long as we were playing well. I hung around behind some of the temporary seats for the third quarter, and actually had a pretty good view. Once we got to 17, the Dome was one of the loudest venues I have ever experienced in person. I returned to my seat at the start of the fourth, and didn’t move until well after the trophy presentation. I have never heard anything like that… I’m not sure when the place fully blew it’s top - maybe it was the Fear the Frog banner going up, maybe when Bram dove at the pylon in the third OT, maybe when that final pass fell harmlessly to the turf. But needless to say, it was #LOUDER all through the fourth quarter, all through each of the three overtimes, and even on the mile plus walk home. My head STILL hurts, but it was well worth it.

Warrior Horned Frog: I was there in section 335. Higher up, but at about the 25 yard line. Better seat than the corner field level seat option in my price range. I’m no spring chicken, but I was surrounded by both older and younger TCU alums and even students, which was pretty cool. I wasn’t sure what territory I was buying in on Ticketmaster, so I was really glad there wasn’t a Duck in sight up there! I have to agree with Coach Melissa that the Fear the Frog banner going up was electrifying. The guy behind me was hilarious. I think he thought HE was coaching the team, but man was he going nuts. I was just yelling my head off. I couldn’t talk at all on Sunday and just had to point at what I wanted on the airport menu boards on the way home.

Sam: Unlike my good friends, I was the loner who watched from my couch that day, curled up in my blanket. I was eating a Monterey Melt from Whataburger during the first half, and I tasted none of it. All I could see and think about was TCU crumbling right before my eyes. I just thought, "Heh, might as well stay and watch our whole demise." Around halftime I got up and stretched my legs a bit. I figured, hey, why not grab Rally Baymax and see if we can get a few points on the board? (For those of you who don’t know, I got a stuffed Baymax from Dallas Comic Con last year. Last baseball season, I’d put a backwards TCU cap on him and whenever I did, TCU would somehow rally back to win. Since then, he’s been known as "Rally Baymax.") I get Rally Baymax and basically hug him the rest of the game like a little kid watching a scary movie. And as the second half played on, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. When Denzel Johnson broke up the final pass, I threw Rally Baymax down and JUST LOST IT.

Jamie: I was sitting in the press box (I know, I know...humble brag). I appreciated that the windows on the press box did not completely close us in. In fact, the majority of the front of the press box was open to the stadium, meaning that I could hear everything really clearly. In the first half, energy was low. People were impressed with Oregon’s offensive efficiency, but for the most part, the weight of the incidents prior to the game seemed to be fully realized: we were not going to get the incredible game we had signed up for.

Then, the Frog Horn sounded. Then it sounded again. And again. And with every deafening blast of that beautiful horn, the energy picked back up. I essentially had to strap myself to my chair to keep from standing up (I did mimic a holding call on what I felt was a missed call once….okay twice), and the all caps tweeting you got from @FrogsOWar was my way of screaming without screaming.

Most people in the press box, and in the post-game conferences, were just stunned by the final result. They were shaking their heads and expressing their disbelief, some with a little more pep in their step than others.

Felts: I was in section 127, in the corner of the TCU endzone, just next to the band. The entire section was purple, save for a family sitting right in front of us, who had two children, both wearing Oregon gear. I don’t think anybody sat down from the last 2:00 of regulation until the end. The fourth down stop in the third overtime was a sensory experience that I won’t soon forget. From where I was sitting, I was about equidistant from the Frog Horn and the TCU Band. As soon as that pass was batted down, the place went crazy. Everybody was cheering and hugging, the band started blasting the fight song, Frog Horn sounded in all of its glory, the TCU cheerleaders burst onto the field with those flags that shoot fireworks out of the top, and best of all, the two Oregon kids in front of us were just as excited as everybody else. I think they realized they were part of a truly remarkable comeback.

Mason: I was in section 126, the section of the stadium that was designated for students that bought tickets through TCU. Words cannot describe how loud it was in the fourth quarter. I nearly went deaf, but it was  so worth it. When Bram ran it in to make it a two possession game, the section lit up like a church on Christmas Eve when everyone starts singing O Holy Night. When the Frogs tied the was as if the Alamo Dome turned into a Kanye West concert there was so much screaming. I was right there where the last two frog touchdowns were scored in overtime. So ya we were pretty hyped up. When Johnson batted the ball down to win the game...It felt like I was at the VMA's when Kanye announced his 2020 presidential campaign. In other words, it was loud.

A lot of people have talked about this in other forums, but when exactly did you know in your heart that we had a real chance to come back and win this thing?

Swayze: Like I said in my answer above, I missed the whole first half because I was at my own wedding.  I only really got to watch the second half, so my experience was better than most. Once we got everybody fed, did the first dances and cut the cake I got the chance to pull up the score on my phone and I saw that we had just scored to make it 31-10 and somehow already had the ball back with 3+ mins left in the third.  I called over a couple of my groomsmen and pulled up the video on my phone. I knew that If we could score a touchdown there we had a chance to close the gap in the fourth. It looked like we had been stopped, but then Bram scrambled around the left tackle and dove into the endzone on fourth down to make it 31-17 at the end of the third. I turned around, ran up to the table of wedding guests behind me and yelled "We scored again! The comeback is on!".

Marsh: My answer above kinda explains this answer. But once we hit 17, the place really started to go insane. The team feeds so well off of the crowd, and significantly outnumbering Oregon fans in a dome made it so freaking loud–maybe louder than anything I’ve heard at a TCU game. Once the "Fear the Frog" banner came down in the stands, the place went even more insane. Not gonna lie, I got some insane goosebumps and I don’t doubt many felt the same. That energy definitely carried over. Every time they scored and the kick off team would take the field, they were hyped up and getting the crowd even more hyped up by doing so.

Coach Melissa: I think it was when we cut it to two scores. I had a moment’s doubt when we kicked the second field goal to get to 20, and another when we couldn’t quite punch it in at the end of regulation and had to kick for the tie. But there was something about the way the sideline was reacting, and the overwhelmingly pro-TCU crowd, that helped me keep the faith once we got to two scores and had a quarter to go.

Warrior Horned Frog: I did, and everyone else I’ve talked to says they began to feel it at 17.

Sam: It would’ve had to been when we were about two scores down. Like everyone else, I’d say it was when the score was 31-17 Oregon. The commentator said something along the lines of, "And we have a ball game out here in San Antonio!" At that point, I just knew. When defense is tired, defense is tired. TCU had so much time and so much momentum to win this thing.

Jamie: Pretty much the same time as everyone else, I think it was when TCU pulled to 31-17. I don’t know about anyone else, but I kept looking down at the Oregon sideline, and they looked completely dejected. No one was bouncing around like they had been in the first half. Instead, they looked like they knew it was inevitable. That’s when I knew this game was TCU’s for the taking.

Felts: After TCU cut it to 31-3, I told my brother that if the Frogs could keep Oregon’s backup QB in check and somehow cut the deficit to 14 by the start of the 4th quarter, we would have a chance. Just like the rest of you, once TCU finally punched it in on the final offensive drive of the 3rd to make it 31-17, I turned to my brother once again and said that the Frogs are going to at least have a shot. After TCU stopped Oregon on the first drive of the 4th quarter, I was pretty confident. The entire defensive unit and the bench were celebrating like we had just won the game. You could feel the comeback taking place.

Mason: When Gary changed shirts. If that's not a superstitious man then I don't know what is. Just kidding. In reality, and I hate saying this, but when Adams went out of the game. There was nothing that we could really do to stop him from heaving it deep down the field. I've caught a couple of Oregon games this year and Lockie just isn't the anything really. I never threw up the surrender cobra, but the moment where I saw the light at the end of the tunnel was the fumble right after we scored our first touchdown of the game. Of all people that recovered it, MICHAEL DOWNING, one of the scapegoats of a lot of my frustrations of the defense, redeemed himself and set us up for a score.

If you had to pick one moment to call your favorite of the game, what would it be?

Swayze: I have to agree with Melissa here and go with the two point conversion. I didn’t get to see a lot of the awesome plays by Bram until I rewatched the game on Monday, but the two point conversion I saw live and I was losing my mind. We were all a liiiiitle nervous about the prospect of going for two considering what happened in Norman. It was a different situation and we didn’t really have an option this time, but I still had nightmares of the Big XII title that wasn’t. Then the way they pulled it off, with a trick play to Nixon. TCU had every Oregon defender but one fooled on that play, and one wasn’t enough to stop us.

Marsh: Cheating. Oregon’s last three plays of the game. Corry O’Meally stepping up and making one of the biggest plays of his career, then the missed snap and brutal tackle by Ty Summers, and then Denzel Johnson’s fantastic breakup to seal the win. Other than that, really everything Bram and the receivers did in the second half. You felt like Bram couldn’t even move his arm by the end of the game–that’s the expense of leaving it out on the field–so the receivers really had to step up, make perfect routes and come in on the ball a lot. Bram was pretty perfect, but that doesn’t happen without his receivers making the extra effort.

Coach Melissa: The defensive stops that Marsh mentioned are all up there, as was watching Aaron Green just wear down the Oregon front on the last scoring drive of regulation, when he took us almost all the way in. But, I’m going to go a bit off the grid here and pick something different - that beautifully drawn up two point conversion play that cut the lead to three. It was kind of the perfect play to sum up TCU’s season - and it was a bit of redemption for Bram in an almost equally as big spot. Even though it wasn’t his throw that scored it, I think all the fans exhaled a little longer after the ball was hauled in. It was creative, it was breath-taking, and it was successful. It was Meacham at his finest, Shaun Nixon doing something amazing, and it ended with a tight end making a reception - so kind of weird and wild, too.

Warrior Horned Frog: The last play in the 3rd OT. How can you not love an unsuccessful attempt to take your territory in San Antonio!

Sam: Hands down when Bram ran for a touchdown in third overtime and celebrated by making a stirring motion with his hand. It’s like he and I telepathically communicated the "Raisin Bram" persona. I thought it, and he did it. Dreams come true.

Jamie: It’s a play that I’m going to write a bit more about in another piece, but my favorite play of the game came in the second overtime, when Oregon had the ball on third down. The Ducks ran a screen play out in the left flat, and Denzel Johnson read it beautifully, coming in to blow the play up for a two-yard loss. I liked it because first, if Denzel misses that tackle Oregon probably gets a first down, and second, it seemed like a glimpse into the future for TCU’s defense. They’re going to be fun to watch next year.

Bram doing Lil' B's celebration, and Based God approving of it on Twitter, was my second favorite moment.

Felts: While I also agree with everyone else that the fourth down stop, two-point conversion, and Raisin Bram touchdown were incredible, I’m going to go against the grain and pick a different play. The moment that I truly bought into Kohlhausen was when he threw that vicious block that allowed Aaron Green to cut into the endzone to make it a 31-26 game. That was when I realized Bram was going to do absolutely whatever it takes to win the game. He was out there sacrificing his body to ensure that the play was a success. If I recall, there was about 3:00 minutes left at that point and I remember praying that TCU at least got the ball back one more time, because I was all-in on the Kohl Train at that point.

Mason: If your favorite moment of this game is not Gary Patterson's post game speech, you're wrong. That man is...well THE MAN. However, I would have to say if we are talking strictly during regulation, it was when Bram ran in the game winner. Crossed the plane. Then proceeded to do the James Harden, cooking with the pot gesture. I'm not from the Houston area, but when he threw that up I couldn't hold back my laughter. Oh but I do have to show some love to Jarrison Stewart who had a clutch 1st down pick up when we were driving down the field to make it a one possession game. That part got me pretty live as well.

What do you think is the biggest takeaway from the comeback win?

Swayze: To me, It has to speak to just how great our coaching is. I remember in 2006 when I watched Texas Tech come back from being down 35-3 at halftime to beat Minnesota in the Insight Bowl. Mike Leach told them in his halftime speech, "You can go out there and lay down in the second half, or you can go out there and make history". Patterson’s halftime speech to Bram was even more inspiring than that, and it just goes to show that when you have a great coach who inspires kids and teaches them to play as one, you are never out of a game. I am just grateful that we cheer for a school that teaches kids how to always play like champions and never give up. Just ask Jim Schlossnagle, he’ll tell you.

Sam: First of all, there is no losing deficit too great that can’t be turned into a comeback win.

Never count anyone out. Ever. Second, do the right thing the right way. Patterson could’ve let Boykin stay, play his final game as a Frog and build up his draft stock. It would’ve been the right thing, but not done the right way. Patterson chose to do it the right way. And as it turned out, the Alamo Bowl turned into a beautiful story etched in Frog lore forever.

Coach Melissa: As a coach of young people, having a real, tangible example (and something that happens to mean a ton to me) to use with my athletes is a really nice thing to have in my back pocket. But even more than that, it’s a reminder of what a truly special place TCU is. We may not have the championship pedigree of an Alabama, but do you think their fans would have stuck around after that first half shellacking? We might not sign a ton of five stars, but we support each player - from walk on senior to four star recruit - through the bitter end (even if we maybe weren’t so happy with him during the first half - so, so, so sorry Bram), and cheered that first field goal like it was the start of something special not a pity score. There were not many empty seats in that Dome, even at the lowest of the low, and the I truly believe the unbelievable support and sheer volume helped rattle the Ducks and spur on the Frogs. What Patterson has built here, what Del Conte and Boschini and the Board have done, what the players and the fans have contributed, it has taken TCU to the next level, and inches away from a championship. That's the reason Meacham and Cumbie have stuck around (I joked with CDC after the game that I figured my donations were going to need to go up to help pay their new salaries - he said the bill was in the mail and I don't doubt it), the reason top recruits are spurning Texas and A&M and others to join the #FrogFam, and the reason TCU is now a destination, not a thru road. It's a special place. That does special things. And has special seasons. This was the culmination of a very special season. And, it sets the table for another one in 2016

Marsh: I think the mentality of this team and the notion of "we don’t need anybody else". TCU does things their way, and it works. Everyone buys in, and there really are no egos on the team–which, I think is pretty rare in college football today. Second, it’s a very promising glimpse into the future. With nearly all of the catches coming from sophomores and/or freshmen, added in with JUCO Taj Williams’ arrival, the TCU receiving corps is going to be gnarly as hell in 2016. I guess it boils down to sustainability and that while they’ll be greatly missed, Josh Doctson and Trevone Boykin won’t define this program program–in the sense that the Frogs in 2014 and 2015 aren’t a flash in the pan.

Jamie: People used to tell TCU fans that they were only good because of LT. Then they told TCU fans the Frogs were only good because of Andy Dalton. The past few seasons opposing fans have been patiently waiting for the departure of Boykin and Doctson so "TCU can return to its rightful place." This program is here to stay. That’s what this game said. Hell, that’s what this entire season said, and everyone else just has to get used to it. The Frogs are here to stay.

Warrior Horned Frog: 1) How do I get into an awesome press box like Jamie?  2) IS IT SEPTEMBER YET!?!

Felts: For me, the biggest takeaway is to never give up on this team or this coaching staff. It is sometimes much easier to lose hope than to keep believing in sports, but this entire season has been one impressive accomplishment after another. All credit has to go to Gary Patterson and his coaches. When you take a holistic look at the adversity that this team has faced really from spring practice until now, it is remarkable that TCU hit 11 wins. A lot like Mel said, the game was also a testament to just how special TCU is. I remember coming back to my seats for the second half, and when I looked into the upper deck, it was still completely full. It was amazing to see that just about every Frog fan in attendance still believed in this team, even in the face of a 31-0 deficit.

Mason: Gary Patterson was the best coach in college football this season. He out coached attrition to the point where we were one point away from being the big 12 champion. Thirty freshman playing throughout the season, and you pull off all of the cardiac wins that we had. You then proceed to pull off the biggest comeback in bowl game history (technically tied, but we had no points when we started our comeback so in my book that is more impressive). It goes to show everyone else AND OUR FANS, that we can never ever count TCU out of any game when GP is at the helm. God bless and GO FROGS.