There is no denying it.
The TCU Horned Frogs are really, really good.
Even their coach, one of the best in the business at denying the obvious, can say that with confidence.
“I know I have a good football team,” Gary Patterson said.
Who can’t admit that after an 82-27 win? It is what 10th-ranked TCU put up against Texas Tech on Saturday at Amon G. Carter Stadium.
“I understand the level of play they can play,” Patterson said. “I’ve seen them do it.”
This is the level: 10 touchdowns despite 10 penalties. A school-record seven touchdown passes from quarterback Trevone Boykin. Two 100-yard rushers. Four 40-plus-yard field goals. Four takeaways to no giveaways. A school- and conference-record 785 yards.
And they weren’t even ready to play, supposedly.
“I told them before the ballgame they weren’t ready,” Patterson said. “I watched them warm up. Only thing for us is, we didn’t play very well, and we won a ballgame. That hasn’t happened around here in the last two years.”
The past two years? Oh, the days when TCU was trying to compete in the Big 12 without a Big 12 offense.
That is not the case anymore. Boykin and his offensive weapons, ground and air, made up for the defense’s sluggish start so that by the time the defense got its feet under it, the Frogs were up 37-20 at halftime. In the second half, the Frogs gave up only seven points and put up 45 more.
“The little stuff gets you beat in this conference, because you’re not going to be able to score 82 points every game,” safety Sam Carter said. “No one does that. For us to play a first quarter like that, that’s embarrassing to me and the defense, because we’re better than that.”
The Frogs (6-1, 3-1) know they can score points, but they may have to do it next week at West Virginia without one of their top performers. Leading receiver and scorer Josh Doctson hurt his right foot after a catch in the third quarter and left on crutches.
Defensively, the Frogs might also be down a player. Safety Chris Hackett was ejected in the third quarter for throwing a punch, and so will be required to sit out the first half of the next game. The Frogs are hopeful, however, that a video review by the league will show that he did not throw a punch.
The injury and the ejection, which annoyed Patterson because he said he had been telling Hackett for weeks to walk away from incidents, were the only stains on an impressive performance.
Well, impressive to most.
“From a fan standpoint, a media standpoint, probably so,” Patterson said. “From a coach’s standpoint, what we were trying to get accomplished, no. ... We were sloppy. We had a guy kicked out of the game. Didn’t play very good pass coverage in the first half. ... We still had to kick three or four field goals in the red zone.”
But with the first College Football Playoff rankings due on Tuesday, the 82-point performance — new heights for a TCU offense — had to be a statement.
“I mean, that you can play average and do like that, yeah. I think it helps us,” Patterson said.
Despite the uneven latter part of the second quarter, Boykin delivered pass after pass on target and in stride to his receivers. Doctson scored on a 51-yard play and caught a 5-yard touchdown pass in the back of the end zone.
Deante’ Gray pulled down a 24-yard strike in the back of the end zone. Tight end Cliff Murphy caught a perfectly placed slant in the end zone. Emanuel Porter, who came in for Doctson, reeled in an end-zone fade.
Sometimes, the receivers did the work. Gray turned an 8-yard hitch into a 92-yard touchdown in the third quarter. Ty Slanina caught a skinny post against a blitz and turned it into a 57-yard touchdown.
That was on top of a 62-yard touchdown run by Aaron Green to open the scoring for TCU.
Carter and Hackett each had interceptions. Defensive end Terrell Lathan had a strip-sack.
Reserve back Trevorris Johnson scored twice in the fourth quarter. Three backup quarterbacks went 5-for-6 for 47 yards.
“If there was a game that I needed to play sloppy in and still win it, of the two that I got to play, then this is it,” Patterson said. He turned playful with reporters. “Now I’m happy. You guys talked me into it. I’m happy! What else you got to talk to me about? I’m happy!”
Can’t deny it.