TCU coach Gary Patterson insisted this week that he’s only focused on winning at Texas Tech on Saturday.
He’s not concerned with the fact that the No. 12 Horned Frogs (8-2, 5-2 Big 12) control their own destiny in reaching the Big 12 Championship Game and a possible rematch with Oklahoma.
He basically scoffed at the idea of major job offers from the state of Florida.
Nope, Patterson only has the Red Raiders on his mind.
“For us, it’s just about Texas Tech,” Patterson said during his spot on the Big 12 weekly teleconference on Monday. “None of the rest of that makes any difference if you can’t win the next two.”
That’s a good idea, considering TCU has a two-game losing streak on the road after falling at then-No. 25 Iowa State and taking a 38-20 thumping at No. 5 Oklahoma on Saturday.
Although the Red Raiders have lost four of five, Patterson doesn’t think his team can afford a hangover after the loss to the Sooners.
“(Texas Tech is) a really tough place to play,” Patterson said. “So, for us, all it can be right now is just, ‘How do we find a way to win against Texas Tech coming off an emotional ball game?’ For us, that’s the only thing we’ve allowed ourselves to think about.”
The TCU-Texas Tech series has been fiercely competitive since the Horned Frogs came into the Big 12 in 2012.
The Red Raiders have won two overtime games, including a 27-24 double-overtime victory in Fort Worth last season. TCU has the only lopsided victory as it routed Texas Tech, 82-27, in 2014. The Horned Frogs followed up the huge win with a three-point victory in Lubbock in 2015 in which TCU running back Aaron Green caught a tipped pass in the end zone on fourth-down for the go-ahead touchdown with 23 seconds left in the fourth quarter.
Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to Dylan Cantrell late in the fourth quarter to tie the game a year ago. Then Mahomes ran 15 yards for a score in the first overtime, all setting up kicker Clayton Hatfield’s 37-yard game-winning field goal in the second overtime.
Mahomes is now in the NFL, but at least the Red Raiders have Hatfield back in action.
Texas Tech has struggled mightily in the kicking-for-points area this season, making just 7 of 15 field goal attempts and even missing three extra points. But Hatfield made a 39-yarder last week against Baylor, helping to settle the Red Raiders’ nerves about that facet of the game.
“Hopefully, that kind of broke the ice for us in the kicking game,” Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury said on Tuesday. “Moving forward, it can be a strength instead of something we’re all holding our breath about.”
The Red Raiders (5-5, 2-5) have enough to worry about when they face the Horned Frogs.
TCU enters with the second-ranked rushing defense in the nation. Meanwhile, Texas Tech running back Justin Stockton missed two of the last three games with a head injury and backup Tre King sat out the fourth quarter in the Red Raiders’ win over Baylor on Saturday with a leg injury.
Those factors hint that Texas Tech could be very one-dimensional, leaning heavily on the passing game this week. Kingsbury didn’t say as much, but he knows there won’t be much tricking TCU.
“You’ve got to win some individual matchups, really,” Kingsbury said. “(TCU has) a defense that they’re so well-coached, they’re going to take away a lot of the things you try to do schematically. So you’ve got to have good matchups, you’ve got to have guys make contested plays.”
The Red Raiders have been praised for their effort on defense this season as they’re giving up almost 100 yards less than their per-game average of 2016. Texas Tech has also come up with 22 takeaways for a national-top-10 turnover margin of plus-10.
That’s probably on Patterson’s mind as his Horned Frogs didn’t exactly thrive on offense against Texas Tech last season. TCU posted 418 yards of total offense versus the Red Raiders in a double-overtime loss a year ago.
Horned Frogs quarterback Kenny Hill completed 16 of 29 passes for 160 yards and an interception and got benched mid-game against the Red Raiders in 2016. So this will be another chance for Hill to demonstrate his improvement from his junior to senior season.