The TCU football buses rolled into downtown San Antonio, the Alamo out the windows to the left, on a sunny South Texas day and pulled up to the team hotel, where the players and coaches exited to maricahi music.
Just like two years ago.
The familiar scene repeated itself Saturday as the Horned Frogs, ranked 15th in the College Football Playoff, arrived for their Alamo Bowl date against No. 13 Stanford Dec. 28 in the Alamodome.
It may not be the bowl the Frogs wanted, considering they are a 10-win Power 5 runner-up. But the welcome in a city where they notched one of their most amazing bowl victories reminded them of one of coach Gary Patterson’s favored sayings, “There are no bad bowls.”
Besides, the Frogs will shooting for their 40th victory in four seasons - New Year’s Six bowl game or not.
“We can’t do anything about that now,” running back Kyle Hicks said of the lost opportunity to reach the Cotton Bowl or another premier game. “We can only control what we can control. We’re here in the Alamo Bowl, playing Stanford on Dec. 28, so we just need to go out there and show the world what we can do.”
Which, for much of this season, was a lot.
The Frogs started 7-0 before stubbing a toe at Iowa State to start a 3-3 stretch that included two losses to Oklahoma, one in the league championship game.
Despite the flat finish, TCU still led the Big 12 in total defense, passing defense, rushing defense, scoring defense, sacks and third-down offense.
“Everybody’s still excited,” cornerback Ranthony Texada said. “It’s another game that we get to go out and play for this university. Stanford has been playing really good football. They’re going to play hard, and we’re going to play hard, so it’s going to be a great game.”
The Frogs are 8-3 in their last 11 bowl games, including the 2016 Alamo Bowl when they rallied from a 31-0 deficit to defeat Oregon 47-41 in three overtimes, matching the largest comeback in bowl history.
TCU is 9-6 in bowls under Patterson, who began his TCU head coaching career at the 2000 Mobile Alabama Bowl.
The Frogs are 39-12 in the last four seasons, including victories in the Peach Bowl and Alamo Bowl.
“Forty wins,” Texada said. “You don’t really think about it until somebody says it. But it shows that our class has been a part of a lot of great things at TCU.”
Said Hicks, “It makes me happy to hear that number. It just shows you the amount of success this program has had. We’ve put in a lot of work to try to get better. We have one more job to take care of.”
No. 15 TCU vs. No. 13 Stanford
8 p.m. Thursday, ESPN