TCU coach Gary Patterson said the playoff selection committee has a hard job, and he’s trying to make it harder.
“I just want to make it tough on them,” he said. “I want to win the next two, be 11-1, and let them decide. That’s all I can control. I just want to finish the journey.”
If the fifth-ranked Horned Frogs do that, they’ll be co-conference champs at worst and, as Patterson put it, “be playing in a nice bowl somewhere.”
The team started two days of practice Wednesday before taking the weekend off. Practice resumes next week for the Thanksgiving night game at Texas.
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It is one of two games remaining for TCU (9-1, 6-1), which means two chances to impress the College Football Playoff selection committee members.
“That’s their job. They’ve got good people on it,” Patterson said. “We went to this deal where we have a committee. It’s not any different. Now you have four. In fact, I think it’s probably been more difficult to pick the four than to just pick the two this time around.”
The Horned Frogs close the regular season Dec. 6 at home against Iowa State.
The Big 12 Conference has a chance to send teams not only to the national semifinals, but also the New Year’s Six games — the Peach, Fiesta and Cotton bowls, which have one spot promised to a Power 5 team and the other five for at-large teams.
TCU, Baylor and Kansas State are in line for at-large invitations if they don’t qualify for the semifinals.
“With Kansas State, you’ve got three in the conference that have played awfully good football,” Patterson said. “Everybody’s got to finish out. I think you can look at all three of them and understand there’s a lot of good football that’s been played.”
Patterson said two players sat out practice Wednesday, and although he did not name them, it’s likely running back B.J. Catalon was one. Patterson said at the start of the week that he wasn’t sure when Catalon would be ready. The running back is recovering from taking a hit near the chin in the West Virginia game.
Receiver Deante’ Gray has missed two games after leaving the West Virginia game with a foot injury.
But Patterson was optimistic about the health of the team as a whole.
“We’re closer today than we were,” he said. “Having an extra 10 days is a big deal. Especially this time of year.”
Baylor finale in ’15
TCU will open its 2015 season Thursday, Sept. 3 at Minnesota and close with a home game against Baylor the day after Thanksgiving. Click here for the Big 12 schedule.
Patterson is not glad to see the Horned Frogs giving up so many yards a game, but there are areas of the defense that he is more satisfied with.
“I think we’re the lowest red-zone defense in the league as far as touchdowns. We’ve only allowed eight,” he said. “One of the top third-down defenses, one of the top three-and-out defenses, one of the top rush defenses. I think we’re fourth in rushing and scoring defense. Once you get to this time of year, that’s who you’ve got to compare yourself to. We’d like to be a top-10 defense, but that doesn’t always happen every year.”
Patterson said long plays have skewed the defensive numbers, but it doesn’t matter to him or the players.
“All we’re trying to do is win a conference championship,” he said. “To be honest with you, it’s just the win-loss record.”
The Longhorns are playing with more confidence, and the road atmosphere in Austin will be tough, like the other conference road games TCU has faced this season, Patterson said.
“They’ve been able to run the football, but more important, they’ve been able to throw the ball a little bit better,” he said. “And the quarterback [Tyrone Swoopes] has really come along. They’re doing the things that he’s good at. They’ll be a handful.”
The Horned Frogs are 3-1 on the road this year. They won in Austin two years ago 20-13.
“It’s no different than playing anybody else,” Patterson said. “You’ve got to go take games. They play better at home than they have on the road. For us, we understand, when we go on the road, you’ve got to go take a ballgame.”