FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — TCU stayed undefeated when playing three of its first four Big 12 games on the road, a portion of the season that was repeatedly emphasized by coach Gary Patterson.
But that was just a warmup for the fifth-ranked Horned Frogs (7-0, 4-0 Big 12), who head into their tell-tale stretch after an open date.
"The games we’re getting ready to play are going to speak volumes for us, for our resume," Patterson said. "Not sure that the ones that we’ve beaten already make a difference."
While the Frogs had to win all those games to be in a playoff-contending position, the toughest part of their schedule is still ahead of them.
TCU is home Thursday night against West Virginia (3-3, 0-3), in a matchup of the programs that came into the Big 12 together in 2012. Their three games as conference foes have been decided by a combined five points, with two overtime games before the Frogs won 31-30 last season on Jaden Oberkrom’s 37-yard field goal to end regulation.
"They’re a lot better football team than 3-3. They’ve played all three of those teams that have only one loss between them," Patterson said.
The Mountaineers lost in consecutive weeks to 14th-ranked Oklahoma, 12th-ranked Oklahoma State and second-ranked Baylor — all teams that TCU still has left to play in November.
"I think winning the games in front of us will speak more for themselves than anything that’s happened," Patterson said. "Right now, we’re just going to worry about West Virginia, but I think the games coming up will tell the tale of whether we can get into the playoff, or we can win the conference, or do any of the above."
In their last game, the Frogs fell behind 21-14 in the first quarter at Iowa State before scoring 31 unanswered points. Their Big 12 opener was a 55-52 victory at Texas Tech when they scored on a deflected fourth-down pass, and they overcame an 18-point halftime deficit to win 52-45 at Kansas State.
TCU’s first home game in nearly four weeks, since a 50-7 win over Texas, comes in advance of the first weekly College Football Playoff rankings next Tuesday.
"To make it any business, I think you have to understand what the landscape is," Patterson said, when asked about the pending rankings. "I’m just interested."
The Frogs were third in the CFP rankings going into their regular-season finale last year. Even after a 55-3 win over Iowa State, they dropped to sixth in the final rankings and were left out of the four-team playoff.
TCU was second in the preseason Top 25 this year, but has been up and down in that poll. They were third after their first three games, slipped to fourth after the Tech win, went back to second after the Longhorns game, and have slipped one spot in each of the last three weeks.
"When we were in the Mountain West and Conference USA, well, it was you don’t play anybody," Patterson said. "Now we got in a league … and now I saw our resume is not good enough yet because we haven’t played anybody."
If the Frogs get through November still undefeated, that shouldn’t be an issue anymore.