BYU safety Crew Wakley was just being honest.

Although his grandfather, Ron Wakley, played running back for the Cougars in the 1960s, Crew didn’t follow BYU football closely growing up in Sandy and knows nothing about the rivalry his current school used to have with TCU.

“I just felt like we were going to win, and I told the offensive guys that in the meeting. Those types of feelings matter.”— former BYU QB John Beck on the 2006 Cougars win over TCU

“I couldn’t tell you one thing about the history between BYU and TCU,” the Utah State transfer said Monday with a laugh as the Cougars (4-1) returned from their bye week and began making preparations to face TCU (3-3) on Saturday at Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth, Texas.

ESPN will televise the Big 12 matchup, which kicks off at 1:30 p.m. MDT.

Call it the renewal of a rivalry, a bitter, heated and quick-burning feud that produced plenty of antagonism, and some outright hatred, from 1987 through 2011.

TCU leads the series 6-5, and has won the last four meetings after BYU won five of the first seven.

The series is full of memorable victories, and gut-punch losses, for both schools.

For former BYU quarterback John Beck, who now spends his days developing quarterbacks at his 3DQB training academy in Huntington Beach, California, no win over TCU is as memorable as the 31-17 victory in 2006 in Fort Worth, a victory that propelled the Cougars to their first conference title in five years.

‘I can still remember that feeling’

Beck can’t remember how many points TCU was favored by in 2006, he just knows it was a lot. And why not? The Frogs were coming off their 2005 Mountain West championship season, had won 13 straight games, and were trying to get No. 14 for the first time since Davey O’Brien led them to the 1938 national championship and won TCU’s only Heisman Trophy.

What’s more, the Cougars entered the game with a 2-2 record, having lost 16-13 at Arizona and 30-23 in double overtime at No. 23 Boston College to go with wins over Tulsa and Utah State. Beck sprained both of his ankles against Arizona and had sat out the USU game, a 38-0 BYU victory, in order to get healthier for the Frogs.

Still, he hobbled into the Thursday night game at far less than 100%.

“The odds were stacked against us in more ways than one,” Beck said. “They were coming off a bye week, while we had played five days ago. They were definitely the favorite. We knew everybody outside of our building was believing this was TCU’s game.”

BYU quarterback John Beck throws against TCU, Thursday, Sept. 28, 2006, in Fort Worth, Texas. | Donna McWilliam, Associated Press

Beck doesn’t remember the final score, or the fact that he threw for 321 yards and three touchdowns, to Michael Reed, Jonny Harline and Matt Allen. Manase Tonga ran 8 yards for the fourth touchdown, while Cameron Jensen, David Nixon, Quinn Gooch and Ben Criddle were the defensive stars. Nixon’s strip-sack of TCU QB Jeff Ballard early in the game set the tone. The ball was recovered by Russell Tialavea. 

Beck does remember, however, riding up the escalator to a meeting in the team hotel before the game and getting the feeling that the Cougars were going to play well and get a breakthrough win to jump-start their season.

“I just felt like we were going to win, and I told the offensive guys that in the meeting,” he said. “Those types of feelings matter. You gotta have some feeling of belief in football, some feeling that you can throw all those negative beliefs of others out the window.”

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Curtis Brown and Fui Vakapuna combined on 27 carries for 80 yards, while Zac Collie, Dan Coats and McKay Jacobson also recorded multiple-reception games.

“This is the most significant game that I’ve had as a head coach, and maybe the best of my career,” second-year coach Bronco Mendenhall said at the time. “I couldn’t be more proud of these guys.”

It was BYU’s first win over a top-25 team since 1999.

“The feeling in the locker room postgame was absolutely everything we wanted it to be for that season,” Beck said. “We went and dominated a really good football team on the road. We put ourselves in a really good position to be the top team in the conference because of that win.

“It finally felt like we played to the level that we could play,” he continued. “Key players made key plays. The defense stepped up. In all three phases, we did a really good job. To go down to Fort Worth and capitalize on an opportunity was really gratifying.”

Renewing a rabid rivalry

Can the Cougars do it again? They are five-point underdogs Saturday, even though TCU has lost two straight and will start a backup quarterback, redshirt freshman Josh Hoover. 

Whatever happens, it will surely fire up a dormant rivalry that was once one of the better ones in the country.

The BYU-TCU series can be divided into two distinct eras — the first four games came between 1987 and 1997, while six of the last seven came when both schools were in, and mostly dominating, the Mountain West Conference.

The last meeting came in 2011 when TCU was in its last season in the Mountain West before joining the Big 12 in 2012. BYU was in its first season of independence and the Frogs won 38-28 at nearby AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

Here is a closer look at some of the other memorable games in the series, in chronological order:

Sept. 19, 1987 — TCU 33, BYU 12

Nothing of major significance happened in 1987 when the Frogs and Cougars met for the first time in a nonconference affair in Fort Worth, except for the fact that midway through the game an abundance of crickets invaded Amon G. Carter Stadium and almost covered the entire field, creating a crunchy, gooey mess.

According to TCU’s sports information department, after the game custodial crews filled more than 100 55-gallon plastic garbage bags with dead crickets. The Cougars had expired long before that, as TCU rushed for 504 yards on an 80-degree night in which attendance was a meager 22,615.

Leonard Chitty kicked 25- and 37-yard field goals and BYU didn’t find the end zone until late in the fourth quarter when Fred Whittingham plowed in from the 1.

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BYU got revenge the following year, jumping out to a 25-3 halftime lead and downing the Frogs 31-18 in Provo as Sean Covey threw touchdown passes to Matt Bellini and Chuck Cutler.

In 1996, before the Cougars traveled to Fort Worth for the new conference foes’ first MWC game, then-BYU coach LaVell Edwards quipped that BYU would be prepared for a cricket invasion and referred to the old pioneer story of seagulls wiping out an infestation of crickets in 1848 in the Salt Lake Valley to save their crops.

“I talked to (TCU AD) Frank Windegger and he said they were growing a big new crop of crickets down there,” Edwards told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “But I told him we were prepared, that this time we are bringing seagulls with us.”

The Cougars went on to win 45-21 in 1996 in Fort Worth. And the crickets stayed away.

Sept. 24, 2005 — TCU 51, BYU 50 (OT)

Stunned BYU fans watch TCU celebrate their 51-50 victory over the Cougars during a game on Sept. 24, 2005, in Provo, Utah. | Keith Johnson, Deseret News

The most competitive game in the series, and most controversial ending, came in 2005, TCU’s debut season in the Mountain West. The Frogs snapped BYU’s three-game winning streak in the series and won for the first time in Provo, but not without a ton of second-guessing from Cougar faithful in Bronco Mendenhall’s first season at BYU.

TCU went on to win the conference title that year, and served notice they would be a force to be reckoned with in the league.

The Cougars had a 34-16 lead in the third quarter after Todd Watkins hauled in a 67-yard bomb from Beck, but couldn’t hold it in front of 58,320 at Edwards Stadium.

TCU’s Jeff Ballard threw two fourth-quarter touchdown passes to give the Frogs a late lead, but BYU’s Jared McLaughlin sent it into overtime tied at 44-44 with a 39-yard field goal.

Beck tossed a 25-yard TD pass to Watkins on BYU’s first play of overtime, but a bad snap ruined McLaughlin’s PAT attempt, and that proved costly.

TCU running back Cory Rodgers was near the goal line for the apparent game-tying score when Justin Luettgerodt knocked the ball out of his hands and the Cougars recovered. However, an official signaled touchdown, and after a lengthy review, replay officials said there was not irrefutable evidence to overturn the call on the field and the TD stood. 

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Chris Manfredini’s PAT gave the Frogs the improbable one-point win. Still photos from The Associated Press published later appeared to show the football coming out of Rodgers’ hands before he crossed the goal line, but the decision stood.

In all, the game featured 177 plays, 101 points, 1,089 yards of offense and enough controversy to fill Texas.

“Reviews of it looked like their guy fumbled before he crossed the goal line,” Beck said Tuesday. “I guess there wasn’t enough to overturn. Just one of those tough games.”

It was one of the reasons the 2006 game (see above) became such an important breakthrough for the Cougars.

Nov. 8, 2007 — BYU 27, TCU 22

BYU’s Bryan Kehl (41) is congratulated by teammates Jan Jorgensen (84), Kellen Fowler (16) and David Nixon (43) after the defense stopped TCU on their final possession as BYU faces TCU in Mountain West Conference football action at Lavell Edwards Stadium in Provo on Nov. 8, 2007. | Jason Olson, Deseret News

The Cougars made it two in a row over the Frogs and got revenge for the 2005 debacle with a hard-fought victory at LES in 2007 to remain undefeated in conference play.

Max Hall was 26 of 44 for 305 yards and a touchdown and Harvey Unga ran for two scores as Hall outdueled TCU QB Andy Dalton on a crisp late-fall night in Provo.

Three times in the second half the Cougars stopped TCU’s fourth-down attempts. Meanwhile, BYU was 13 of 20 on third down to keep drives alive.

“The bottom line is BYU is the best passing team in the league,” said TCU coach Gary Patterson, crediting Hall and pass-catchers such as Austin Collie, Dennis Pitta and Michael Reed.

Linebacker Kelly Poppinga, now BYU’s special teams coordinator, came up with an interception and a game-high 17 tackles and was named the Mountain West Conference defensive player of the week two days later for the performance.

“The thing I liked about our team tonight, more so than any other game this year, was the heart and the will that they showed throughout the entire game,” Mendenhall said.

The Cougars would win the rest of their games to claim a second-straight MWC title, a 17-16 Las Vegas Bowl win over UCLA, and took a 10-game winning streak into the 2008 season, where they extended that streak to 16 games before running into the Frogs again — this time in Texas.

And as you can read next, the results weren’t pretty.

Oct. 16, 2008 — TCU 32, No. 9 BYU 7

TCU players Cody Moore (56), Joseph Turner (24) Blake Schlueter (75) and Jason Phillips, right, celebrate TCU’s 32-7 win over BYU in Fort Worth, Texas, Thursday, Oct. 16, 2008. | Donna McWilliam, Associated Press

Mendenhall dubbed the Cougars’ 2008 season the “Quest for Perfection,” and through six games his bold declaration was going according to plan. Then a mid-October night in the heart of Texas happened, and it quickly turned ugly for the visitors.

TCU’s outstanding defense dominated from the outset, and when the dust had cleared — no crickets this time — BYU’s top-10 ranking, nation-leading 16-game winning streak and 18-game MWC winning streak were a thing of the past.

Gone, too, was the Cougars’ dream of getting a BCS bid. It eventually went to rival Utah, which continued its undefeated season a month later with a 13-10 home win over the Frogs and a 48-24 victory over the Cougars.

“It just hurts,” said star defensive lineman Jan Jorgensen, now a member of the Cougars’ football support staff. “When you have high expectations like our team has and as hard as we worked to get better, it just feels horrible.”

Said Patterson after the beatdown: “BYU has been the top team in our conference the last two seasons and our guys have been focused on them since January.”

It was BYU’s worst loss since a 49-23 setback at Notre Dame in 2005. Hall was sacked seven times and TCU’s No. 1-ranked defense forced four turnovers and held the Cougars to 23 rushing yards.

Oct. 24, 2009 — No. 10 TCU 38, No. 18 BYU 7

After the debacle in 2008, BYU plotted for revenge in 2009, and the showdown’s hype was heightened when ESPN’s “College GameDay” visited Provo and BYU’s campus for the first time.

Cougars on the air

BYU (1-1, 4-1)
at TCU (1-2, 3-3)
Oct. 14, 1:30 p.m. MDT
Amon G. Carter Stadium
(Capacity: 50,000)
Radio: 102.7 FM/1160 AM

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Then the No. 18 Cougars laid a big egg, falling hard to Dalton-led TCU and another fired-up Frogs defense. Dalton threw for 285 yards and three touchdowns and outplayed BYU’s Hall in front of national TV cameras.

“I don’t think anyone in the country expected this, except for maybe my own kids,” Patterson said.

Said Hall: “We can’t let this loss define our season.”

And it didn’t. The Cougars won their final five games in 2009, including wins over No. 22 Utah (26-23 in overtime) at LES and over No. 16 Oregon State (44-20) in the Las Vegas Bowl.

BYU defensive back Corby Eason (25) and other members of the defense walk off the field after TCU’s last extra point gave TCU a 38-7 victory, Oct. 24, 2009, in Provo, Utah. | Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News
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