(AP) – With TCU undefeated no more and its playoff chances likely done, coach Gary Patterson is reminding everyone of the significant goals still in reach.
”Perception is reality. The last ball game, we didn’t play the way we needed to,” Patterson said Tuesday. ”Obviously in these next few ball games, we’ve got to play a lot better to get noticed again. But there are a lot of goals set.”
The 13th-ranked Horned Frogs (8-1, 5-1 Big 12) could still get a share of a second consecutive conference title and get in position for another appearance in one of the six games Jan. 1 set by the College Football Playoff.
Patterson even pointed out the outside chance for a playoff spot, then added: ”You just go forward. Stranger things have happened.”
After last week’s 49-29 loss at then-No. 12 Oklahoma State snapped their school-record 16-game winning streak, the Frogs are back home Saturday as a more than six-touchdown favorite over Kansas (0-9, 0-6).
Not only did TCU suffer its first loss in more than a year, star receiver Josh Doctson never returned after rolling over his left wrist in the first half. Doctson has 78 catches for 1,315 yards and 14 touchdowns this season, and is TCU’s career leader for receiving yardage and touchdowns.
Patterson described the receiver as ”probable” even before his scheduled visit to a specialist Tuesday night. The coach also indicated Doctson might not play or could see only limited action in Saturday’s senior-day game.
”He’s feeling better,” Patterson said. ”We’ve got to be careful to make sure. With all the injuries, we’ve been able to manage games by getting people out as soon as we could, and not playing them.”
Even with Doctson out after six catches for 64 yards, the Frogs had 663 total yards against Oklahoma State. Trevone Boykin threw for 445 yards, but did have four interceptions.
It would certainly help to have Doctson back for the final two games of the regular season – at No. 12 Oklahoma and then a showdown with No. 4 Baylor. Those teams play each other this week.
The TCU-Oklahoma State game was the first of six November games in the Big 12 matching the league’s top four playoff contenders. The league was snubbed for a spot in the inaugural four-team playoff last year even when the Frogs were ranked third before a 55-3 win over Iowa State in their regular-season finale.
”To be honest with you, I’m not sure it’s good for the conference that (the schedule is) back-loaded. Because people forget early losses,” Patterson said. ”I think it has to do with what people want their opinions to be. … The four teams we’re talking about, there’s a chance everybody could have two losses. So how would that help us?”
TCU’s loss at Baylor came in last season’s fifth game. Patterson and the Frogs are just glad to be done with Oklahoma State, and able to put behind them the trip that was much longer than expected.
”From trouble with trying to get our pregame meal set up, to should have been home by 9 o’clock, to getting home at 3 or 4 in the morning, it wasn’t a Frog day, I can promise you that,” he said. ”It was not a good day.”
TCU almost didn’t have a good day last season at Kansas. The Frogs trailed 27-17 in the third quarter before pulling out a 34-30 win, their third straight in the series.
They probably won’t be pushed that hard Saturday with Kansas being outscored 436-152 this season following last Saturday’s 59-20 loss to Texas, which extended the Jayhawks’ road skid to 34.
Kansas has given up at least 58 points in three straight games and will now face a TCU team that’s second in the nation with 46.7 per game.
"We’re kind of winding down towards the end of the season here, but as coaches we wish we had 10 more right now," first-year Kansas coach David Beaty said. "We need 10 more to close that gap. But we have what we have. And we’re going into an opponent this week that’s going to be angry. They’re talented. … (Boykin’s) a Heisman Trophy candidate, and he still is. He’s a ridiculously good player."