Many of us who follow the Big 12 closely believed that TCU had a chance to compete with the Oklahoma schools. But anyone who tells you they saw this coming on Saturday probably isn’t being honest. While Oklahoma State closed the gap in the second half, it was a generally dominant performance for the Horned Frogs on their way to a 44-31 win over the Cowboys in Stillwater.
Head coach Gary Patterson admitted what we all already know, he likes the underdog role. “It helped that nobody thought we could win. We’re better as the underdog. Always have been.”
The line opened up with the Cowboys as ten-point favorites and by late in the week was up to nearly two touchdowns (I got in at +13, and for the record, went 4-0 this week. Get on the bandwagon and start making some money, would ya?!).
But now, the Horned Frogs’ days as the underdog are long gone in 2017. TCU will be ranked in the top ten this week and will likely be favored in every game left on the schedule, outside of their game against the Oklahoma Sooners in Norman.
Patterson added, “We didn’t listen to anybody when they didn’t give us a chance. We’re not going to listen to anybody now that we’re any good.”
Maybe he won’t, but he better hope his players don’t either. His defense just made one of the best quarterbacks in the country look mediocre, sacking Mason Rudolph three times, while forcing four turnovers, which the offense turned into 14 points. Darius Anderson got the start due to Kyle Hicks‘ injury and had the breakout performance we all knew was eventually coming, racking up 160 yards and three touchdowns. Meanwhile, Kenny Hill continues to play like a savvy veteran who is realizing he does not need to do it all for this team to win. All Hill needs to do is manage the game and pick and choose his spots. He continues to understand that and thrive.
Despite TCU thrusting itself into the College Football Playoff discussion, Gary Patterson knows that his football program will never receive the benefit of the doubt. He only needs to look back to the 2014 season to realize that if the College Football Playoff committee finds a reason to leave TCU out of the four-team event, they will. That’s the reality for a school like TCU (or any of the non-blue bloods in college football). Sure, it’s a great school with a great program and fantastic head coach. But it’s not a national brand that guarantees millions of eye balls in front of the TV, a la Ohio State, Oklahoma and others.
Patterson won’t want to give the committee any reason to doubt how good this TCU team is. But, just win baby, and these Horned Frogs will be just fine. Plus, if Saturday is any indication, that won’t be much of a problem.
The Horned Frogs only have one ranked opponent left on their schedule: Oklahoma, on the road, November 11th. But with the depth of the Big 12, it won’t be smooth sailing to the now highly anticipated mid-November match up. After a bye week the Horned Frogs welcome West Virginia to town followed by a road trip to Manhattan, Kansas. Neither will be easy. Throw in a road game against a rapidly improving Iowa State program and Tom Herman’s Texas Longhorns and there is still cause for concern.
But in the end, the two September hurdles the Horned Frogs knew they had, at Arkansas and at Oklahoma State, were both handled with relative ease.
“We wanted to be relevant,” Gary Patterson said. “Our program has had our times when we’ve been relevant … and that’s what you want to do. You want to win enough ballgames that people take notice.”
Well not only is TCU looking at relevancy again, they’re looking at another College Football Playoff discussion. And at least this time, there won’t be any co-champion nonsense to have to share and debate with.