No. 3 TCU enters the College Football Playoff National Championship on Monday against No. 1 Georgia as a 12.5-point underdog, but first-year coach Sonny Dykes said Tuesday that the Horned Frogs believe they shed the label of a Cinderella team weeks ago.
TCU was picked to finish seventh in the Big 12 conference and is now in position to win the program's first national title since 1938. Dykes conceded that most within the program would admit this past summer they didn't think they'd be playing for the national title.
It wasn't that they didn't think they were capable of it, Dykes said, "we just hadn't done it together."
That mentality began to change, he said, following a three-game stretch that included wins against West Virginia, Texas and Baylor.
"I think that point, our guys started to believe, 'OK, we're a real football team and we're a battle-hardened team and we've had to overcome some adversity,'" Dykes said. "And you know what? We have a chance to make a run."
TCU, which went 12-0 during the regular season before losing in overtime to Kansas State in the Big 12 championship game, has proven skeptics wrong all season, and will have one last chance to defy the odds on the sport's biggest stage. TCU could become the first team since Georgia in 1990 to win the national title after being unranked in the preseason Associated Press poll, which began in 1950.