Barbara Dike graduated from TCU in 1968 — she was part of the cheerleading team and met her husband, David, who also graduated in 1968.

“I’ve been happy all fall. It’s so emotional,” Dike said. “My kids and my family came here. Really, it goes way back. I love it. Everybody across the nation is adopting us. They’re all for the underdog.”

The Horned Frogs football team went 5-7 last year and parted ways with former head coach Gary Patterson. Going into this season, the Horned Frogs were listed at +20000 (bet $10 to win $2,010 total) odds for winning the College Football National Championship, according to FOX Sports.

Now, TCU will compete in that very game against powerhouse University of Georgia on Jan. 9. The game will be televised on ESPN starting at 6:30 p.m.

On Jan. 6, fans cheered as TCU football buses departed from the Amon G. Carter Stadium to the airport and on to Inglewood, California, where the championship game will take place at SoFi Stadium. Horned Frog fans are ecstatic this season after being counted out all year, but some fans have been riding with the team for decades — literally.

Dike got emotional as the buses drove by her. Her connection to TCU runs deep. Her father, Don Smith, played TCU football before he graduated from the university in 1934. Two of his teammates were part of the famous 12 Mighty Mites, who have a film based on them, she said.

“Dutch Meyer and coach Othol “Abe” Martin would come to our house for lunch,” Dike said. “We’re the era that brought the ‘Riff Ram’ back.”

Cookie Thompson, a friend and neighbor of the Dike family, celebrated alongside the Horned Frogs fanbase.

Thompson’s children are TCU alumni and her husband and his mother are as well.

“It’s so emotional. Nobody believed in us, but here we are,” Thompson said.

Cristian ArguetaSoto is the community engagement journalist at the Fort Worth Report. Contact him by email or via Twitter. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.

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Cristian ArguetaSotoCommunity Engagement Journalist

Cristian is a May 2021 graduate of Texas Christian University. At TCU, ArguetaSoto served as staff photographer at TCU360 and later as its visual editor, overseeing other photojournalists. A Fort Worth...