TCU quarterback Casey Pachall threw for two touchdowns and the Horned Frogs capitalized on two special teams plays to build a big first-half lead over BYU and then held on for a 38-28 win on Friday night.
The Horned Frogs (6-2) beat BYU (6-3) for the fourth-straight year, although the teams were playing each other in a non-conference game for the first time after facing off as rivals for the last six seasons in the Mountain West Conference. BYU is in its first season as an independent in football, while TCU will join the Big 12 Conference next season after seven seasons in the MWC.
Pachall completed 13 of 23 passes for 147 yards with the two touchdowns and no interceptions, and the TCU defense forced three turnovers, two inside BYU territory.
BYU had won five in a row and outgained TCU 218-191 yards in the first half, but TCU's defense and special teams helped the Horned Frogs tame the Cougars and shorten the field for four quick drives in the first half.
After Pachall hit a wide-open Skye Dawson for a 48-yard touchdown pass on the second play of the game at Cowboys Stadium, a low, rolling snap to BYU punter Riley Stephenson resulted in an illegal kick and TCU started its second possession with a first-and-goal at BYU's 4-yard line.
Backup quarterback and goal-line run specialist Matt Brown came in on the second play of that drive and scrambled up the middle for a 6-yard touchdown and a 14-0 lead just five minutes into the game.
TCU was leading 14-10 in the second quarter when Greg Burks partially blocked a BYU punt, setting up the Horned Frogs at BYU's 30-yard line. Brown ran for a 2-yard touchdown on the third play of that drive, giving TCU a 21-10 lead. TCU extended its lead to 28-10 after Pachall and Josh Boyce connected on a 33-yard touchdown pass 36 seconds before halftime.
BYU misfired on two scoring opportunities in last six minutes of the first half.
After a 52-yard kickoff return by Cody Hoffman for BYU, the Cougars drove to the TCU 9-yard line, where BYU quarterback Riley Nelson was heavily pressured as he tried to throw into the end zone. Tight end Austin Holt tipped Nelson's pass and TCU linebacker Kenny Cain tiptoed the end line for an interception.
When BYU took over with 29 seconds to go before the break, the Cougars drove to the TCU 33, but BYU kicker Justin Sorensen slipped as he attempted a 50-yard field goal and the ball bounced into the end zone.
The Horned Frogs picked up where they left off in the second half, taking over at the BYU 37-yard line on their first possession after BYU's Stephenson dropped the snap on another attempted punt. This drive took four plays, and Waymon James scored on a 4-yard run for a 35-10 lead.
A field goal and a punt return for a touchdown got BYU within 35-20, but a fumble recovery by TCU's Jon Koontz on a lateral by BYU at the start the fourth squelched another Cougars drive inside TCU territory. BYU would go on to score and convert the two-point conversion with 2 minutes left in the game, but it wasn't enough.
Announced attendance for the game was 50,094, even with the game competing against the Texas Rangers playing in Game 7 of the World Series at the St. Louis Cardinals.
The Horned Frogs and Cougars played at Cowboys Stadium while TCU's home Amon G. Carter Stadium undergoes a $164 million renovation. Both teams had played in the Cowboys stadium before. BYU played in the first collegiate football game at Cowboys Stadium in 2009, knocking off No. 3 Oklahoma 14-13. TCU beat Oregon State 30-21 in last season's opener at Cowboys Stadium.