Since joining the Big 12, TCU has made two trips to Morgantown, W.Va.
Two heart-stopping trips.
Four years ago, the Horned Frogs tied the game with a 94-yard play and then won in double overtime on a 2-point conversion after a reverse pass for a touchdown.
Two years ago, Jaden Oberkrom’s 37-yard field goal as time expired completed a 13-point rally and kept TCU in the running for a playoff spot.
What could be in store this year?
“Big test,” coach Gary Patterson said. “Morgantown is always tough. We’ve always just barely got out of it.”
And there’s a certain, um, enthusiasm to the welcome for visiting teams.
“You have to appreciate being booed,” Patterson said. “I mean, that needs to be a positive.”
So Patterson stresses, “Bring your own energy.”
However much the Frogs bring, it has to be enough to match an undefeated home team with suddenly growing aspirations. The Mountaineers (5-0, 2-0 Big 12) have risen to No. 12 in the AP poll just two weeks before the release of the first College Football Playoff rankings.
Saturday (2:30 p.m, WFAA/8) in Morgantown won’t exactly be a scene out of SMU or Kansas, TCU’s first two road trips this year.
“This’ll be a little different,” Patterson said.
Not many players remain from the TCU team that last visited Morgantown in 2014, but quarterback Kenny Hill and receiver John Diarse have played in well-known hostile hotspots in the SEC.
“On the road, it’s just about finding your comfort zone, bringing your own energy,” said Diarse, a graduate transfer from LSU. “That’s tough, depending on the place. West Virginia does have a reputation of being a hostile crowd. We’ve just got to go in and be confident in what we do, be comfortable in what we do and minimize the mistakes.”
He has one tip for his teammates.
“Don’t think too much and just play football,” he said. “At the end of the day, it’s four quarters of football. That’s all it is. No matter the opponent, no matter the time or place, it’s just football. I constantly remind myself that, hey, it’s just a game.”
No matter the nature of the Frogs’ experience on Saturday, Patterson wants them to benefit from it. Two more trips, to Waco and Austin, remain this season. And next season, there will be visits to Norman, Stillwater, Lubbock, Ames and Manhattan, not to mention Fayetteville.
“Hard places to go play,” Patterson said. “So you’ve got to learn how to play on the road, and that just doesn’t start come next August. You’ve got to learn how your team grows up and gets ready to play, and you’ve got to do it now.”
One more thing — enjoy the moment.
“I’ll tell you this much: I love it,” Patterson said. “The fans are fanatical about their team. They love the game of football. It’s just a fun place to go, just a fun place to play. I like going there. It’s one of those things. You like going places where they truly do hate you.”
TCU at No. 12 West Virginia
2:30 p.m. Saturday, ABC (WFAA/8)
Head to head
TCU (4-2, 2-1)
W.Virginia (5-0, 2-0)
3rd down conv.
3rd down conv. def.