As he has studied No. 6-ranked Oklahoma State, Gary Patterson has found few weaknesses.
But the TCU coach hopes the last two weeks’ contests against the physical run style of Arkansas and the fast-strike passing game of SMU will give some kind of edge to the No. 19 Horned Frogs when they enter Boone Pickens Stadium on Saturday.
“If there’s any advantage, to me, going into the ballgame, it’s that we’ve played two teams that had a high level of something,” Patterson said Tuesday at his weekly press conference on campus. “I think that’s the only advantage we have over Oklahoma State, that we’ve had to be in two battles and they’ve only played until halftime.”
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Oklahoma State (3-0) has outscored its opponents 59-0 in the first quarter and 42-7 in the third quarter. The Cowboys’ victories against Tulsa, South Alabama and Pittsburgh have been by 35, 37 and 38 points.
“Up to this point, they’re definitely going to be the most explosive offense that we’ve played so far,” TCU cornerback Ranthony Texada said. “They make a lot of big plays down the field, so we’ll just have to be ready to defend it.”
The Frogs could use a good start in Stillwater, where they have not won in three Big 12 meetings against the Cowboys.
Two years ago, the Frogs trailed 28-9 at halftime behind 48-, 50- and 82-yard touchdown passes.
In 2013, they trailed 17-0 in the second quarter.
It has been since 2012 that they even held a lead on the Cowboys’ home turf, 14-0 in the first quarter. Then OSU scored the next 36 points.
“We’ve got to play coverage and we’ve got to play the deep ball,” Patterson said. “If you want to stay in the game, you can’t allow Oklahoma State to throw the deep ball. Plain and simple. You’ve got to make them drive it. Then you’ve got a chance.”
The Frogs might also increase their chances by playing to two of their strengths so far — running the ball and controlling the clock. They are tied for the Big 12 lead in rushing yards per game (230.8) and second in time of possession (31:49).
“We just want to outlast our opponent,” left tackle Joseph Noteboom said.
TCU leads the nation in third-down conversion percentage (66%). Oklahoma State is fifth (56%).
TCU is seventh in the nation in scoring (49.0). Oklahoma State is tied for fourth (54.0).
“They’re a high-powered offense, and that’s what we’re going to be seeing these next few weeks in the Big 12,” Texada said. “We’re definitely going to have to have a good week of practice and get ready to battle them at their stadium.”
The stakes of that battle are not lost on anyone. The winner will emerge having hurdled one of the top challengers to a Big 12 title, not to mention remaining undefeated and staying in playoff contention.
The loser is a game down in the standings, but not out the picture thanks to the conference championship game that will pit the top two teams from the regular season.
“You know, I’m excited about my team,” Patterson said Monday during the Big 12 coaches conference call. “Got ourselves to 3-0. Got ourselves in position where we feel like we have a very mature football team. Excited for the challenge. You always want to play against very good people. You can find out what you’re like, what your level is, what you can play like. Definitely Oklahoma State puts us in that category.”
No. 16 TCU at No. 6 Okla. St.
2:30 p.m. Saturday, ESPN