“Immediately, obviously, that's excitement,” Chelf recalled. “But the one thing that I'll remember is going in and getting hit and throwing an interception the first play. I was like, ‘Oh, man, this isn't good.'
“We rallied well. TCU was maybe one of the toughest defenses we've played.”
Chelf also struggled at Iowa State, passing for just 78 yards in wind he said made it feel like he was “trying to throw the ball in a tornado.” But he never thought his job was in jeopardy.
The week leading up to TCU, he had not gotten a starter's reps with the first team. Then came the tough elements in Ames, Iowa. Additionally, he usually needed a couple games to find his rhythm.
That started to happen in the ensuing weeks, where Chelf was part of an overhaul on offense that got a boost from Desmond Roland's insertion as the starting running back, stability on the offensive line and new formations and wrinkles that seemed to pop up each week.
Chelf ran all over Texas Tech (88 yards, two touchdowns) and Texas (95 yards, two touchdowns). Then, he threw dart after dart in a historic passing performance (19-of-25, 370 yards, three touchdowns, no interceptions) in the Cowboys' dominant upset of Baylor.
“We just got clicking on offense,” Chelf said of that Baylor game, “and that's what was one of those things (where) it felt like whatever they called, it was gonna work.”
Chelf admitted it stung to finish the season losing “to those guys,” meaning Oklahoma in a last-minute Bedlam defeat that crushed the Cowboys' chances at a second Big 12 title in three seasons.
He also hasn't thought much about the fact that he only has a few more weeks as a Cowboy. Maybe that will sink in when practices finish up in Stillwater and the team heads to Dallas for its Cotton Bowl showdown against Missouri on Jan. 3.
The road to get to this final game for Chelf has certainly been interesting.
But the end result, he assures, has been worth it.
“Just reflecting on the last month, it's been so much fun,” Chelf said. “You can't even really put it into words. It's just something we'll all remember forever.”