TCU coach Gary Patterson wanted his team to be no worse than 3-1 coming out of its first four games.
The Horned Frogs did him one better with Saturday’s 44-31 victory at Oklahoma State, which gave them a 4-0 record and a big climb in the polls as they head into a bye week.
“We understood what the first four ballgames were going to be about,” Patterson said Tuesday on the Big 12 coaches conference call with reporters. “What you want to do is you want to at least be 3-1 coming out of it. We’re fortunate we’re 4-0.”
It’s made the Frogs and Patterson the talk of the town — and country; interview requests are pouring in with national media in town for a College Football Playoff mock selection exercise in Grapevine this week.
Patterson probably previewed his message to any reporters who ask.
“Now we turn ourselves to basically being 0-0 and see how many we get of these next eight once we get back into it,” he said.
Patterson said last week he turned the first four games into a mini-season. The next eight games all come without a break in between, starting with the Oct. 7 home game against West Virginia and ending with a Black Friday home game against Baylor. In between, the Frogs will visit Kansas State, host Kansas, visit Iowa State, host Texas and visit Oklahoma and Texas Tech.
“If our group can’t figure out that they’ve got eight really tough games left, then they’ll be surprised,” Patterson said.
The Frogs rose to No. 9 in the AP poll and No. 11 in the USA Today coaches poll. They lead the country in third-down conversion percentage (63.2) and boast the Big 12’s top rushing offense and top rushing defense.
They are getting CFP consideration in some corners.
Postgame Saturday in Stillwater, Patterson was already prepared to handle the kudos.
“You know, we’re 4-0. We’ve got to try to get to 5-0,” he said. “If we get into November and we’re still like we are, then maybe you can have that conversation. But we’ve got a lot of football left to play before we get to November. We haven’t even gotten to October yet.”
Defensive end Ben Banogu’s postgame comments suggest the Frogs have gotten the message.
“People can say what they want to say, but we know what we are,” he said. “We try to be the best team every day. But you don’t just get there after a big win. You have to do that throughout the season. As long as we can keep the ball rolling and do what we do, we’ll find ourselves in that conversation.”
Banogu had a forced fumble on a sack as part of three sacks and four turnovers for TCU, the Big 12 leader in takeaways.
TCU entered the Oklahoma State game as a 13-point underdog. Patterson said that became a benefit for his team’s psyche.
“I saw we were the underdog,” Patterson said. “I saw they picked the four teams that were going to be in the playoff, and we weren’t one of them. We’re still way out in left field, and that’s OK with us. We’ve just won four ballgames.”
TCU vs. West Virginia
2:30 p.m. Oct. 7, FS1