After closing out his first regular season at TCU with a 62-14 win over Iowa State to finish 12-0 on Saturday, Sonny Dykes believes his team has proven that the Horned Frogs are worthy of their lofty ranking and a potential spot in the College Football Playoff.
In 2014, No. 3 TCU beat Iowa State 55-3 to finish 11-1 only to get passed by Ohio State on the last weekend of the rankings and were left out of the playoff.
"I know the history with TCU and Iowa State and big victories," Dykes said. "It didn't work out particularly well in 2014. I know that. I think it's different. I think college football is different. I think the committee is different, I think the Big 12 is viewed differently than it was then."
At the time, the Big 12 didn't have a championship game, a major consideration for the committee after Ohio State won the Big Ten. Dykes said this year's Big 12, with eight bowl-eligible teams and no divisions where you might get a "good draw" and miss some of the league's better teams, is different.
"It's a gauntlet," Dykes said. "I think people who really study the game know how good the league is. To get through this thing undefeated, to be able to win road games, grind through some of the tough moments we had to grind through, I think shows we have a good football team."
TCU's 12-0 season is the first in the Big 12 since Texas in 2009.
The Horned Frogs' 62 points came against an Iowa State team that was eighth nationally in scoring defense, allowing 16.5 points per game, and had only allowed one team, Baylor on Sept. 24, to score more than 30 points. The Cyclones only allowed three other teams to top the 20-point mark.
Dykes said quarterback Max Duggan, who was 17 of 24 for 212 yards and three touchdowns on Saturday, has had a senior season worth Heisman Trophy consideration. Duggan, who didn't start until the second game of the season, passed for 3,070 yards, 29 touchdowns and three interceptions and rushed for five more. Baylor's Bryce Petty in 2013 is the only Big 12 quarterback in history with more passing touchdowns (32) and fewer than five interceptions.
"I think anybody that's watched us this year, y'all know what he means to our football team and program," Dykes said. "He certainly is very deserving of an opportunity to get to New York."
Dykes, who took over for legendary TCU coach Gary Patterson, who parted ways with the school amid a 5-7 finish last season after 21 years as head coach, can now turn his team's attention to the Big 12 championship game after nearly a month of clinching a spot in the game.
He wrapped up a historic debut by earning his 83rd career win, surpassing his late father, former Texas Tech coach Spike Dykes, who retired in 1999 with 82 victories. But he's not ready for this season to end yet.
"I'd like to play as many games as we can with this group because I think we'll figure out a way to win 'em," Dykes said.