FORT WORTH, Texas – In the bizarro world that is college football in 2014 the TCU Horned Frogs, a program that under Gary Patterson has built its reputation on defense, will meet West Virginia Saturday with the No. 1 scoring offense in all the land.
Anyone who would have said that would have been the case before the season is either lying or psychic.
Certainly no Frogs thought the transformation under co-offensive coordinators Sonny Cumbie and Doug Meacham would be so dramatic but it has been. It’s one of the reasons the Frogs (6-1, 3-1) are ranked 10th in the country going into the game against the 20th-ranked Mountaineers (6-2, 4-1).
The offense has been so good that the school had to reorder pyrotechnics for the final two home games because they’ve already used their yearly allotment thanks in large part to the 82-27 drubbing of Texas Tech Saturday. TCU is getting 228 more yards of offense a game than it did last season, which is the biggest improvement in the nation. The scoring average is also up 25.3 points as TCU has already surpassed last year’s total points for the season (353 to 301).
"It’s a big improvement," junior offensive tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai said. "Big improvement. Every time we go out there we do our jobs and hope for the best."
TCU’s best has been better than anyone’s in the nation on offense and they may need it again Saturday against West Virginia in the biggest matchup of the Big 12 newcomers. In each of the last two seasons the games between the teams have gone to overtime with the other team winning on the road.
If the Frogs can continue that trend they’ll position themselves even better for the College Football Playoff, which had its first released Tuesday night. While TCU’s offense has put the Frogs in the conversation for a possible playoff spot, no one on the football team seems too concerned about where they sit in October.
"That stuff doesn’t mean anything because it changes every week," said defensive tackle Chucky Hunter, who had no plans to watch the first rankings show. "I might watch it in December."
That kind of talk is music to the ears of head coach Gary Patterson, who has tried to downplay his prolific offense, his Heisman Trophy talk-worthy quarterback Trevone Boykin and his team’s playoff hopes.
That doesn’t mean Patterson doesn’t have confidence in his team, he just knows there’s still plenty of football to be played.
The Frogs are coming off an October in which they went 3-1 against ranked teams and now face a two-week stretch against top 20 teams (Kansas State, Nov. 8).
It starts against a West Virginia team that is nearly as prolific as the Frogs. Like TCU West Virginia averages more than 500 yards a game and boast as quarterback-wide receiver duo as potent as Boykin and Josh Doctson in Clint Trickett and Kevin White.
"You’re going to have to be able to keep them out of the end zone," Patterson said. "They’ve got some really big-time weapons on offense and they really came on defensively. We expect West Virginia to play their best game to date."
And despite scoring 82 points against Texas Tech last week, Patterson reiterated that his team still had plenty of room for improvement. TCU’s defense allowed 20 points early to Tech before making adjustments and the offense had to settle for four field goals.
If they can clean up things even more against West Virginia, it could be another bizarre Saturday for the Frogs.
"Very ballgame we’ve played against them has been crazy, going into overtime," Patterson said. "I don’t know if I expect anything less in this situation."