Wednesday, November 28, 2012
TCU comes full circle vs. Sooners
By David Ubben
Don't worry about the details, like the fact that Oklahoma was coming off two national title game appearances and was trying to replace bushels of talent from those squads. Or that star tailback Adrian Peterson's ankle was a little gimpy. Looking back, it didn't matter all that much.
Oklahoma had lost at home just once in Bob Stoops' six seasons before TCU came to town to kick off the 2005 season.
TCU 17, No. 7 Oklahoma 10.
"Right now, I'm kind of shocked," Peterson, a future All-Pro, told reporters after the loss. Yeah, get in line, AD.
"I remember them playing well, being more physical than we were," Stoops said this week.
Gary Patterson and the Horned Frogs are looking to derail Oklahoma's Big 12 title hopes.
Nobody would beat Oklahoma again in Norman for more than six seasons and 39 games. In that same span, Gary Patterson was building his coaching legacy at TCU.
"If you look back, you’d probably say it was the jump-start for what has happened over the last seven years," Patterson said this week.
Patterson went just 6-6 in 2001, his first full season as TCU's head coach, but led the Horned Frogs to 10 wins and the Conference USA championship the next season.
But they trekked to Norman in 2005 after going 5-6 the season before.
"In 2001, they were thinking about, well, maybe I was the wrong guy for the job. In 2004, 'Can he get it done?' " Patterson said.
It's been a dream since, and there's plenty of evidence Patterson can get a whole lot more than "it" done. TCU won 11 games in 2005 (ending Utah's 19-game winning streak in the process) and did so in five of the next six seasons, twice cracking the BCS, and beating Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl to cap an undefeated, unforgettable 13-0 season in 2010. That put TCU back in the big time, and no doubt aided the Frogs in reaching their current spot: the Big 12.
To this point, that accomplishment has defined Patterson's tenure at TCU.
The Frogs won't be winning 11 games this season, but they'll be taking on Oklahoma to close their first season in the conference, and can deny the Sooners a chance at a league title with a win.
"Beating anybody in the Big 12 on a daily basis is a positive. The thing that everybody said, and we hear on the recruiting trail, is before we were in the Big 12, they win ballgames but they don’t play good competition every week," Patterson said.
The Frogs navigated a brutal Big 12 schedule to reach 7-4, despite missing more than 20 players from last season's team because of injuries or disciplinary issues, including starting quarterback Casey Pachall and the team's top two running backs.
What the Frogs have done this season might be more impressive than many of those 11-win seasons against opponents with a fraction of the respect most Big 12 teams earn.
"We’ve been in every ballgame and we’ve won our share of ballgames. Now we’re hearing before the season, 'Now they’re here, and let’s see if they can win -- I don’t think they can win ballgames,' " Patterson said. "Well, now we’ve proven we can have huge crowds with the new stadium and also win games. We’re not where we want to be by any means. Anybody that we’ve played knows that."
Patterson's dreaming big. Any road to Big 12 respect goes through Texas and Oklahoma, and TCU knocked off the Longhorns before a national television audience on Thanksgiving night, the Frogs' first win in Austin since 1967.
"For [TCU fans] that have lived and gone through the old Southwest Conference, it was a huge win for them," Patterson said. "A lot of them said it was bigger than the Rose Bowl, and I would say, 'No, it was not bigger than the Rose Bowl,' but it showed we could win on the road."
TCU (7-4) has done it four times in conference play this season to reach seven wins, but Saturday it is shooting for its first home win since Sept. 22. Like that game in 2005, a victory here would mean a whole lot more than just eight wins.
"We were going to find out where we were as a program," Patterson told his team before the final stretch that included games against West Virginia, Kansas State and Texas. "This was going to be a measuring-stick month for us ... People remember you in November."