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Horned Frogs thrive in the desert. Tens of thousands of them descended on the Fiesta Bowl in Arizona to watch the TCU football team Jan. 9.

Horned Frog alumni, students, faculty and staff traveled 1,043 miles 鈥 and more.

Patty Ruiz 鈥01 traveled from Chicago with her husband.

鈥淲e met our freshman year. This was our Christmas gift to each other,鈥 she said.  鈥淲e鈥檙e not staying with the alumni group, we鈥檙e staying at a hotel in downtown Phoenix, and it鈥檚 been awesome because we鈥檙e still seeing a lot of TCU people at our hotel, and then we鈥檙e even converting a lot of non-TCU people to root for the Horned Frogs, so it鈥檚 kind of like an evangelical outreach.鈥

Mike Kirkpatrick87 traveled from Washington D.C., where he is an attorney.

鈥淚t鈥檚 nice for my generation鈥攏o way we would miss this. We sat through a lot of lean years,鈥 he said. 鈥淲e鈥檙e the first team from Texas to be in the College Football Playoff. Obviously when it started in 2014, we felt like we should鈥檝e been there. And now we are.鈥

Kirkpatrick traveled with about 30 of his fellow band alumni, including Drew Ruiz 鈥85. They were some of thousands to attend TCU Alumni鈥檚 official tailgate.

鈥淲e traveled together to the other Fiesta Bowl, the Rose Bowl鈥攂ut this one matters more than any have,鈥 Ruiz said. 鈥淚鈥檓 not nervous, but I鈥檓 super excited to see how this turns out. Trust Sonny.鈥

Head Coach Sonny Dykes led the team to an undefeated regular season, the No. 3 team in the nation and TCU鈥檚 first-ever playoff appearance.

John Thomas had plans to meet his Horned Frog son Ryan at the game. Unfortunately, he would experience the game alone. Ryan was one of many plagued with flight cancellations and delays.

Steve Slaughter, an industry partner who teaches in TCU鈥檚 fashion design program, luckily made it without incident. It鈥檚 one of many games he鈥檚 attended this historic year.

鈥淲e were at the home games, the Baylor game鈥攁nd of course we鈥檒l be there next week in Los Angeles,鈥 he said with confidence before kickoff.

Among many TCU leaders, newly named University President Daniel Pullin was there to cheer on the Frogs.

鈥淚 can鈥檛 think of a better time or better place to be transitioning into this role alongside the leadership of Chancellor Boschini,鈥 Pullin said. 鈥淲e have TCU on a national stage and the Horned Frog family coming together鈥攊t鈥檚 truly incredible.鈥

Following TCU鈥檚 51-45 win over No. 2 University of Michigan鈥攁 game in which TCU led in its entirety鈥擩ohn Thomas was in the concourse on the phone with Ryan, one hand on his ear, struggling to hear over the crowd.

鈥淚t was crazy,鈥 he told his son.

Hopefully they鈥檒l be able to watch the National Championship game together. 

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