TCU win over Sooners would end Big 12 home drought

It's hard to quibble with TCU's first season in the Big 12.

The Horned Frogs have clinched a winning overall record, they've earned a bowl berth for the eighth consecutive season, and they won at Texas for the first time in 45 years.

TCU sold out every game in the renovated Amon G. Carter Stadium, including today's 11 a.m. season finale against No. 11 Oklahoma.

But there's one glaring omission marring this feisty inaugural season in the new league.

The Frogs (7-4, 4-4 in the Big 12) have yet to win a conference game at home. They have one last chance, on the day TCU salutes 21 seniors, including Kenny Cain, Blaize Foltz, James Fry, Matthew Tucker and Skye Dawson. The group is 43-7.

"You've got to make it about the ballgame," said TCU coach Gary Patterson, who is 10-1 in regular-season finales at TCU. "It's about beating Oklahoma. I'm really excited to see their families, I'm really excited to see them walk out. Kelsey [Patterson] is going to have tears in her eyes when she hugs them in the tunnel, but the bottom line to it is we're here to beat Oklahoma. We haven't won a conference game at home. It's time for us to do that and we're playing against probably the best team in the conference right now."

The Sooners (9-2, 7-1) are riding a two-game offensive surge that has seen quarterback Landry Jones throw for 1,054 yards and nine touchdowns.

"Some people don't throw that in a season and they've done it in two games," Patterson said on his Thursday radio show. "I asked the chancellor if I could take a sabbatical and he told me no. I wanted to watch it myself instead of being in the middle of it."

Oklahoma's defense statistically is one of the Big 12's best. The Sooners lead the league in pass defense and are fourth in overall and scoring defense despite allowing 131 points in the last three games. They can still claim the Big 12 title with a win and a Kansas State loss to Texas tonight.

Even if KSU wins, OU is likely to earn a BCS bowl berth with a win today. Patterson compared the Sooners' defensive style to his own, in which there's a premium put on speed and suffocation.

"They make you make bad decisions because they are so fast and they're so talented. There is no margin for error," he said. "They try to suffocate you with the blitz and we have to have some answers for that. There's a reason why they've won. There's a reason why they could play in a BCS game. They're a better football team than they were five or six weeks ago when they got beat by Kansas State. They've played for a lot of championships. They understand the deal. We've been here before, too. We understand how to win championships. You've got to have a swagger to you; they have a swagger to them."

TCU's swagger has returned a bit with last week's win at Texas. A win today would alter the perception of the Frogs' first season in the league. By any measure, win or lose, TCU has answered critics who expected hard times in the new league. Considering the more than 20 players TCU has lost because of injury and issues before and during the season -- including starters at quarterback, running back, linebacker and defensive line -- it's an impressive first season in the Big 12.

"We have so many young freshmen playing, it's going to be amazing the next couple of years watching them grow up," senior tight end Corey Fuller said. "They've been doing a phenomenal job with what they've accomplished this year. What he's [Patterson] done with these freshmen is amazing. You can see it on the field; he's done a great job."

A win today would not only register the Frogs' first Big 12 home win, but would also give Patterson at least eight wins for the eighth consecutive season. In TCU's year of change and turmoil, a 2-0 finish against the pillars of the conference, Texas and Oklahoma, would put this season among TCU's most impressive.

"Everything we went through and we're 7-4 right now, [a win] would be like a 13-0 season," Patterson said. "If you really look at what this team has done, everything we've gone through."

Stefan Stevenson


Twitter: @FollowtheFrogs

Related stories from Fort Worth Star Telegram