Texas Christian's comeback season ended as it started _ with a good day of bowling.
The Horned Frogs, who during spring practice used an outing to a bowling alley to get better acquainted with first-year coach Dennis Franchione, captured their first bowl victory in 41 years Thursday, 28-19 over Southern Cal in the Sun Bowl.
Tailback Basil Mitchell ran for 185 yards and two touchdowns, and TCU (7-5) held the Trojans (8-5) to a Sun Bowl record minus-23 yards on 21 carries.
"It's a big day for us. You couldn't buy what happened for us today," said Franchione, who in December 1997 took over a TCU program that fired Pat Sullivan after a 1-10 season.
TCU's option offense and its defense buried the Trojans early, producing a 28-3 lead early in the third quarter. Forced to the air, USC struck back with 17 straight points before TCU's defense killed a Trojans drive and regained control.
"TCU's speed and agility on defense really surprised us," USC coach Paul Hackett said.
The victory capped the Horned Frogs' impressive turnaround under Franchione. The Horned Frogs had not played a bowl game since beating Syracuse 28-27 in the 1957 Cotton Bowl.
"We started the season with very little respect," Franchione said. "This has not been an unusual situation for us, and we responded well."
USC freshman quarterback Carson Palmer conceded the Trojans didn't think much of TCU, a 16-point underdog.
"We definitely took TCU for granted," Palmer said. "We thought we could do pretty much what we wanted. I was shocked when it was 21-0."
Palmer threw a 23-yard scoring pass to Billy Miller and set up a 1-yard TD by Petros Papadakis that made it 28-16 with 1:34 left in the third quarter. Papadakis' touchdown was set up by an 18-yard Palmer-to-Larry Parker pass to the TCU 4 on fourth and 8.
The Trojans defense, unable to solve the option in the first half, started to dominate and on their next possession, the Trojans drove to the TCU 20. But there the TCU defense regained control.
Defensive ends Aaron Schobel and Loren Dunlap sacked Palmer on successive plays and the Trojans settled for a 46-yard field goal by Adam Abrams with 12:30 remaining.
TCU ate up the rest of the clock.