TCU coach: 1-point win at New Mexico good enough
Coach Gary Patterson insists he'll leave town with a smile Saturday if No. 4 TCU beats woeful New Mexico by a single point.
Such a slim margin probably won't be an issue, with the Horned Frogs favored by 44.
Consider also that the nation's top-rated defense is facing a freshman quarterback and TCU (11-0, 7-0 Mountain West) can cap an undefeated regular season with the league championship for the second straight year.
Still, the question of comparison scores came up this week.
Patterson was asked whether TCU needs to match Oregon's 72-0 season-opening victory over New Mexico to impress college football pollsters. The Frogs are jockeying with Oregon, Auburn and fellow non-automatic qualifier Boise State for a ticket to the national title game.
Patterson's answer? His focus is to win this one, just like any other, and he'll be satisfied if his team puts up one more point than New Mexico (1-10, 1-6).
''If I think anything outside of that boundary, then I'm going to get myself in trouble, because I'm going to control what I can control,'' he said. ''For somebody to think that we're so shallow at TCU that I've got to go up and beat New Mexico by x-amount of points to prove I have a good football team, that's not going to happen.''
We already knew Patterson has a good team. The Horned Frogs demonstrated that with an unbeaten season, which earlier this month included a decisive 47-7 victory at conference heavyweight Utah and a come-from-behind 40-35 win over surging San Diego State.
Going into their regular season finale, TCU's seniors can become the most successful class in school history. One more victory pushes their four-year total to 43 wins.
Yet the Frogs keep hearing criticism from outside the Mountain West that they don't play a tough schedule, and there's even the possibility they could get dropped from the top five bowl games if Boise State passes them in the BCS standings.
Sure, it's a frustrating situation, but those things are beyond TCU's reach.
''I mean, we won every game. We went out and took care of business,'' said Andy Dalton, the nation's leader among active quarterbacks with 40 wins. ''Our goal was to come in and be undefeated. That's the only thing that we could do. We can only handle what we can control.''
On paper, the Lobos seem unlikely to offer much resistance to high-octane TCU, the highest ranked opponent to visit Albuquerque since No. 4 BYU beat the Lobos 48-0 during the Cougars' undefeated march to the 1984 national title.
New Mexico is 2-21 under second-year coach Mike Locksley. The Lobos have lost seven starters to injuries this season and quarterback Stump Godfrey, one of seven freshmen to see significant action this season, is making his fourth career start.
Godfrey faces a TCU unit that leads the nation in scoring defense, allowing 10.9 points a game, total defense (223.2 yards) and pass defense (134.6 yards). Opponents are converting 23.4 percent of first downs against the Frogs, second best in the country behind West Virginia.
New Mexico, meanwhile, ranks 118th among 120 schools in total offense, averaging 278 yards per game, and 115th in scoring offense at 15.7 points.
Locksley's approach has been to put the blinders on.
He told his players that racehorses, especially long shots on the betting board, never know their chances when the starting gate is loaded.
''They don't know the odds. When the gates open up, they just run,'' Locksley said. ''That's kind of the approach I told our guys that we need to take. No matter what the odds are, let's not buy into it. Let's just go out and run.''
AP Sports Writer Stephen Hawkins in Fort Worth, Texas, contributed to this report.