By Gregg Xenakes, Associate College Football Editor
GAME NOTES: The TCU Horned Frogs have found their first season of Big 12
Conference football to be rather difficult, and it doesn't get any easier for
the squad as it takes on the 18th-ranked Texas Longhorns on Thanksgiving Day
TCU head coach Gary Patterson has had a number of seasons where he and the
Horned Frogs were at the top of the heap, specifically when the team resided
in the Mountain West Conference, but now the competition has been taken up a
notch. While outsiders are questioning whether or not TCU can compete on a
regular basis with some of the top programs in the country, Patterson is
realistic in his assessment of a team that is just two games over .500 at the
"All those that said they didn't know whether TCU could play week-to-week
hadn't been following much college football. It wouldn't have done me any good
to argue that point off the field when we have to prove that on the field...We
have to keep our goals high to understand where we have to get to. You have to
be realistic and keep it in that visual point of understanding. That is what I
feel we have done as a program up to this point."
What the Frogs have done on the field is drop three of their last four, with
the lone victory coming in double-overtime (39-38) on a very surprising move
by Patterson to go for a two-point conversion. Last time out the team was held
to a season-low 10 points in a 13-point loss to Kansas State on Nov. 10, which
means they've had additional time to prepare for this meeting.
As for the Longhorns and head coach Mack Brown, they've rebounded from back-
to-back defeats against West Virginia and Oklahoma during the first half of
October by running together four straight victories. Like the Horned Frogs,
Texas has been out of action since the second Saturday of November when the
team thumped Iowa State at home in a 33-7 final.
With that win over the Cyclones, just days after the death of legendary head
coach Darrell Royal, and the stunning loss of top-ranked Kansas State to
Baylor last weekend, Texas still has an outside chance of capturing the
regular-season title in the Big 12, and coach Brown is certainly pleased about
"It makes you feel real good to know that you're back in the mix. The biggest
thing for us right now, we just have to buckle down and stay focused on TCU,
take it one game at a time and not let the hype get to us. It's not really
surprising. We talked about it as a team that we need to buckle down and get
back on our game. When you put in hard work, this is what pays off. It's not
surprising at all."
In terms of the all-time series between these two Lone Star State squads,
Texas holds a 61-20-1 advantage, posting a 34-11-1 edge in games played in
Austin. Stunningly, the Longhorns have won all but one of the previous 29
encounters, the lone TCU victory coming in 1992 by a score of 23-14 in Fort
The Longhorns were able to play their way back into the Big 12 title picture
thanks to a huge effort against Iowa State when they generated more than 600
yards of total offense. Quarterback David Ash converted all but six of his
pass attempts for a career-high 364 yards and two touchdowns, while Johnathan
Gray recorded a pair of scores stemming from his 14 rushing attempts which
generated 74 yards.
Receivers Jaxon Shipley and Mike Davis combined for 15 catches and 250 yards,
the latter taking one into the end zone for the hosts.
Defensively, the 'Horns were on top of their game as they limited Iowa State
to just 277 yards of total offense. The Cyclones were allotted just four
possessions in the first half, three ending in punts and the other an
interception. Josh Turner and Carring Byndom both recorded picks for the home
Although he was held out of the end zone by the Cyclones, running back Joe
Bergeron is still a huge option for the Longhorns as he has posted 16 rushing
TDs on 116 carries. As a team, Texas has recorded 29 rushing TDs, averaging
192.7 ypg on the ground.
Ash has taken the majority of the snaps this season, leading to 235.4 ypg and
17 TDs, against only five interceptions. Davis and Shipley have combined for
85 receptions and 12 TDs.
TCU, which needs one more victory for the 600th in program history, is already
eligible for yet another postseason appearance under coach Patterson, but the
team would still like to strengthen its position in the Big 12 where it is
currently sixth in the standings with a record of 3-4. Unfortunately, the team
didn't show much incentive when they went up against Kansas State a few weeks
back, going scoreless for three quarters before a field goal and a 19-yard TD
pass from Trevone Boykin to Brandon Carter broke the seal on a potential
Boykin, thrust into the starting role when Casey Pachall left the team, threw
for 164 yards and was sacked five times by the Wildcats, who allowed just 274
Often considered one of the top defenses in the nation, the Horned Frogs also
did their best to slow down Collin Klein who threw for just 145 yards and an
interception while being sacked three times. Although, Klein did reach the end
zone twice with his feet in the meeting.
Still, TCU ranks first in the conference and seventh in the country in
stopping the run, giving up only 98.4 ypg which will be key against the
Longhorns. Applying pressure at the line of scrimmage will be crucial if the
Frogs hope to disrupt the Texas offense enough to make a difference, but
really the only chance for TCU to come out on top is for the offense to
perform better than it has all season.
Take away the 56-0 win over Grambling in the season opener, as well as the
ridiculous shootouts against WVU and Texas Tech that experienced a total of
five overtimes, and the Frogs have been rather average on offense. While he is
certainly a solid player, Boykin is pretty much managing games now for TCU not
to lose, even though he has completed better than 58 percent of his pass
"It makes you feel real good to know that you're the only game on Thanksgiving
day," coach Brown says of this matchup. "People all across the nation are
going to be watching you, so you have to show your best. It's not really added
pressure at all because people watch you every week, so it's not really that
much more pressure added on."
With the eyes of the nation watching, this needs to be the time for the
Longhorns to prove that they belong among the top teams in the Big 12.