A Brief History of the TCU/Baylor Rivalry

Way back in 1899, on a date no one is quite sure of and at a place no one quite remembers, the Baylor and TCU met on a the gridiron, we think. The schools were cross-town rivals at the time and being neighborly and all, the game ended in a 0-0 tie. Since then the Rivalry’s been basically a wash, TCU holds a slight edge with two more wins 54-52-7.

Early Days

Baylor dominated the first ten games winning seven while the remaining three games all ended in 0-0 ties. They managed to squeeze those ten games into five years. According to records, the teams played three times in 1902, twice in 1903, and three times in 1904. The final game in 1904 gave TCU its first win over the Bears, 5-0, in front of 1,000 estimated fans.

The teams carried on playing multiple times per year until 1911. In 1915 TCU headed up the road to Fort Worth, a year after the Southwest Conference formed. Baylor were co-champs in 1915 and 1916. The Frogs joined in 1922. The two schools took a break from 1921 to 1924, then resumed hostilities in 1925 with a 7-7 tie. A year later the Bears and Frogs tied 7-7 once again.

By 1928 Matty Bell had the Frogs rolling, and his undefeated TCU team welcomed a one-loss Baylor to town, Baylor got out early and blocked two TCU field goal attempts to hang on to a 7-6 win. A year later Francis Schmidt took over the Frogs after Bell moved on to SMU, and TCU went undefeated including a 34-7 drubbing of the Bears in Waco.

Dutch and Abe

Schmidt, by the way, won 86% of his games during his five years at TCU before taking the job at Ohio State. After Schmidt’s exit, the great Dutch Meyer came to Fort Worth and for most of his tenure had Baylor’s number, going 11-4 against the Bears in the first fifteen matchups. Baylor hired Bob Woodruff in 1947, and he ended TCU’s dominance.

The signature win came in 1948 when Baylor traveled to Fort Worth and took a 6-3 lead into the final minutes. TCU put on a final drive, getting deep into Bear territory when the BU defensive back Frank McKinney, who also threw the game-winning pass, picked off a TCU pass. As he returned it, the Frogs knocked the ball free and recovered it. TCU got as close as the ten-yard line before time ran out and the Bears held on for a 6-3 win.

A year later Woodruff cemented his status as a Frog killer with a 40-14 win in Waco. The 1949 Bears rose as high as sixth in the AP Poll and finished 8-2. The pendulum swung back with Abe Martin taking over. Martin’s Frogs won eleven of fourteen matchups with the Bears. TCU won eight straight from 1964 to 1971. By then the game became a late October/early November tradition.

In 1965 a third-quarter Bruce Alford field goal lifted TCU and ruined Baylor’s homecoming 10-7. A year later Alford kicked two field goals that proved the only points in a 6-0 win. In 1967 Ross Montgomery scored four touchdowns to lift a winless TCU over Baylor.

Tragedy

Tragedy struck in 1971 when TCU head coach Jim Pittman collapsed on the sideline of Baylor Stadium in the first quarter. Horned Frog quarterback Steve Judy saw his coach lying on the sideline and alertly called a timeout. Doctors attended to Pittman and moved him to a stretcher and then to a local Waco hospital. Later that evening doctors pronounced him dead.

Oddly the officials didn’t cancel or postpone the game, and school officials informed his players at halftime that he had passed away. Even more strangely, TCU went out and played in the second half. TCU overcame a seven-point second-half deficit to win the game 34-27. Assistant Billy Tohill led the team the rest of the year.

Enter Teaff

Baylor’s fortunes didn’t change until Grant Teaff showed up in 1972. Teaff announced his presence in a big way in ‘72, blowing out the favored Frogs 42-9. The win stopped TCU eight-game win streak and gave Baylor just their third win over the Frogs in 18 tries.

Walter Abercrombie, 1978 (Waco Trib)

In 1973, Baylor welcomed TCU for homecoming, and the visitors promptly jumped out to a 34-7 lead. With eleven minutes to play in the fourth Baylor started a near-impossible comeback, scoring three times quickly and cutting the edge to just six. Baylor drove the ball to TCU’s 13-yard line with only 25 seconds to play, but on fourth down, quarterback Neal Jeffrey threw the ball out of bounds thinking it was third down and TCU held on for the win.

From 1974 to 1981 Teaff’s Bears flipped the script and won eight straight. In 1978 the Bears introduced the world to the great Walter Abercrombie. The freshman ran for 167 yards and two scores in a 28-21 win over TCU. The Horned Frogs hung around thanks to eight Baylor turnovers, but Abercrombie’s fourth-quarter score proved the difference.

Teaff’s Bears won the SWC in 1974 and 1980. In 1982 Frog Coach F.A. Dry broke Baylor’s eight-game winning streak with a 38-14 drubbing of the Bears in Fort Worth. The win was the first time a Dry team won more than two games in a single season. In spite of that stirring success, TCU cut him lose and brought in Jim Wacker in 1983.

Wacker Backers

TCU celebration in 1983. (Austin American Statesman)

By 1984 Wacker seemed to have TCU on the path. His squad beat Baylor in 1984, 38-24, during the game TCU fans chanted “hey, hey, ho, ho, TCU to the Cotton Bowl.” The Frogs didn’t make the Cotton Bowl and, notwithstanding a Bluebonnet Bowl bid in ‘84, Wacker didn’t have TCU on a path, other than mediocrity. A year later Teaff’s Bears blew out the Frogs for homecoming 45-0.

Teaff won his last four games against the Bears starting in 1989. That run included an upset of #24 and 5-1 TCU at Amon G. Carter, 27-21. Baylor preserved the win when Michael McFarland stepped in front of a Leon Clay pass with under two minutes to play.

By 1995 the league was set to dissolve with Baylor heading to the Big 12 and TCU sentenced to the Mountain West. The Frogs and Bears played one last time as SWC rivals with Baylor, powered by Jerod Douglas propelling the Bruins to a 27-24 win. TCU quarterback Max Knake helped by throwing three interceptions.

The End of an Era

 Bears vs. Frogs in 2006 ( Austin American Statesman )

Bears vs. Frogs in 2006 (Austin American Statesman)

After 1995 the Horned Frogs and Bruins took a ten-year hiatus, until 2006 when they met up again, this time with Gary Patterson and TCU traveling to Waco. A second-half quarterback change, from Jeff Ballard to Marcus Jackson, sparked a 17-7 TCU win.

TCU won the next three meetings until Art Briles’ fourth season when the Bears started to take off. 14th ranked TCU headed to Waco for a Friday night opener. Baylor led 47-23 in the fourth when TCU mounted a comeback and took the lead 48-47. Baylor averted disaster thanks to an Aaron Jones field goal that staked the Bears to a 5-48 victory. The win broke TCU’s 25 game regular season winning streak.

Magically by 2012, the Bears and Frogs found themselves in the same league again. In 2014 TCU and Baylor played an instant classic with the Bears edging to a 61-58 win. The game featured a 21 point fourth quarter comeback engineered by Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty, but the winning points fell to kicker Chris Callahan who booted a 28-yard field goal to give the 5th ranked Bears a win over the 9th ranked Horned Frogs.

The series seemed destined to take off with both programs playing at a top 10 level, but Baylor’s sexual assault scandal derailed the school. As the Bears claw back to respectability, and TCU struggles through the 2018 season, we’ll see what this year’s version holds.

The Roundup…