TCU coach Gary Patterson doesn’t want to have an “all-or-nothing” approach to the Ohio State game. But he acknowledged the Frogs’ dreams of making the College Football Playoff will largely ride on what happens Saturday night at AT&T Stadium.
If No. 15-ranked TCU upsets No. 4-ranked Ohio State, it’s likely poised for a big jump in the rankings and thrusts itself in playoff talk. A loss, of course, relegates the Frogs to being an afterthought for the playoffs.
“The worst thing we could do at TCU is put all of our balls in one basket,” Patterson said on the Big 12 football coaches teleconference earlier this week.
“It’s win or lose and then your season is going forward or getting over with. … If you can win it, you’re going to be part of that [playoff] conversation. If you don’t win it, you don’t. But we’ve got Texas next week, start of Big 12 conference play, then Iowa State before we get a break.
“This has just got to be Game 3. It’s a big game. Everybody is excited about it, but for us as a program what you have to do is keep everything in perspective and understand that you still have a long season. You can’t ruin your season because you make it an ‘all-or-nothing’ situation.”
Still, this matchup is a significant one for the program even though Ohio State is heavy, 13.5-point favorites. It’s not every year the Frogs play a storied program such as Ohio State in non-conference play.
When the Frogs found themselves in the playoff mix in 2014, they were passed for – who else? – Ohio State. TCU’s signature non-conference win that season was over Minnesota, a team that went 8-5 and played in the Citrus Bowl.
But perception is everything when it comes to committees and the Frogs would’ve benefited had it beaten a more storied program than Minnesota. They have that opportunity with the Buckeyes coming to town.
“This is going to be a great benchmark as far as where we’re at,” Patterson said. “We have a younger football team than we did a year ago, and we’ll find out what we can do. I think we can build off [this game] one way or another.”
The impact of simply being in this marquee matchup is already paying off for the school. ESPN announced that “GameDay” is coming to town for a second straight season and broadcasting live from the TCU campus on Saturday morning.
The entire college football world will be watching, too, when the Frogs and Buckeyes kick off at 7 p.m. in Arlington. That exposure for the school and city is immeasurable.
“We’ve come a long ways in 20 years. We’re going to keep growing,” Patterson said. “For them to choose to come back on our campus is a really big compliment. For me, it’s a win-win situation. We’re just excited and very thankful that ESPN chose us to be a part of it.”
KaVontae Turpin had a standout game against SMU. The senior returner brought a punt back for a touchdown, had a receiving TD and another long return to set up another touchdown.
The Big 12 honored Turpin by naming him the conference’s special teams player of the week. It’s the fourth time he’s been named that – breaking a tie with former kicker Jaden Oberkrom for most in school history.