The matchup against Oregon is a “résumé game” for TCU, coach Gary Patterson said, and he hopes it acts as a springboard like the Peach Bowl victory against Ole Miss last season.
“To play against this level of competition, I think, lets us know what we have to do in the offseason, win or lose, to keep getting better so we can jump back and have a chance to win a conference title and get back into one of those four-team playoff games,” Patterson said Thursday in San Antonio.
He and Oregon coach Mark Helfrich met with reporters to preview the Alamo Bowl matchup, set for a 5:45 p.m. kickoff on Jan. 2 in the Alamodome.
“Oregon is playing at a very high level,” Patterson said. “I felt the same way last year against Ole Miss when we played in the Peach Bowl. It’s one more chance for our seniors. It’s a résumé game.”
TCU used a 42-3 victory against Ole Miss of the SEC last season to finish 12-1 and debut at No. 2 in the AP and coaches polls this year. The Horned Frogs stayed in the top five until a Nov. 7 loss at Oklahoma State.
“I thought last year’s game, playing in a bowl game late, where everybody gets a chance to watch, really is a springboard one way or the other,” Patterson said. “And I think playing somebody of this level — really a team that had an opportunity to beat both teams that played in the Pac-12 championship game decisively — speaks of where they came as a program and how they were playing at the end of the year.”
Oregon (9-3) is on a six-game winning streak after a 3-3 start, but quarterback Vernon Adams missed most of four games with a thumb injury from the season opener. TCU (10-2) split its last four games, but quarterback Trevone Boykin was unable to play in two of those games.
Patterson said Boykin can use the game to cap a season that had him as a Heisman Trophy front-runner until he was hurt.
“We kind of sputtered when he struggled, and I think the same thing happened to Oregon,” Patterson said. “When you lose that trigger guy, it makes it very difficult when everything revolves around him to do the things you need to do. Then they get healthy, and they play. For him, one last time, a guy that was a Heisman contender, to get a chance to build his résumé and show the kind of player that he is on a great stage in a great ballgame against a great team, I think, is perfect. So I think he’s very excited about this opportunity.”
Patterson said he senses excitement from his team about playing Oregon, similar to last season when he thought his players were eager to play an SEC team despite the playoff snub.
“One thing you have to do, if you know me any, you have to be honest. You have to tell your kids what they’re going into, who they’re going to play, and the kind of team that they’re going to be a part of in a ballgame,” he said. “I think if they’re not fired up, then they’re watching the wrong film. Everything that I’ve gotten from the time we found out who the ballgame was, our kids were way excited.”
TCU vs. Oregon
5:45 p.m. Jan. 2, ESPN