TCU

TCU, Patterson will enter 2015 facing high expectations

TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin returns next season as a front-runner for the Heisman Trophy.
TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin returns next season as a front-runner for the Heisman Trophy. AP

TCU football will face different expectations next season, which means a different approach for coach Gary Patterson.

No more underdog.

No more little ol’ us.

The Horned Frogs, who finished third in the final AP and coaches’ rankings thanks to their 12-1 season and Peach Bowl championship, will almost certainly start in the top 10 next season, likely in the top five, and a favorite for the Big 12 championship.

Already, ESPN analyst Mark Schlabach has put TCU No. 1 in his “Way-Too-Early Top 25,” and Fox Sports’ Stewart Mandel put TCU No. 2 in his first 2015 ranking.

It will take a whole new mindset for the Frogs and Patterson, now that they have gotten the attention of the country.

“The way I’ve always approached it is, either way, you’re trying to prove a point,” Patterson said last weekend in Dallas when he won the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award from the Football Writers Association of America. “Either you’re trying to prove them wrong, that you’re a better team than you were when they picked you low, or you’re trying to prove them right if they pick you high. So either way, you’ve got to get a chip on your shoulder.”

The Horned Frogs won only six conference games in their first two seasons in the Big 12. They were picked seventh in the 2014 preseason media poll. Merely getting back to a bowl game seemed like a reasonable expectation.

Now they are top of mind for 2015, and they will be under scrutiny from the start. The Frogs open with a Thursday night game at Minnesota that likely will be nationally televised. They will be expected to play up to standards in the Sept. 3 kickoff on a no-NFL weekend. Their performance will be compared with Alabama’s against Wisconsin at AT&T Stadium two days later and defending national champion Ohio State’s visit to Virginia Tech that Monday night.

“I’m just going to try to build the best team I can build again,” Patterson said. “It’s the only thing I’ve got control over.”

With a strong start, the Frogs’ schedule sets up for them. They don’t face Baylor, the only team that beat them last year, until the season finale, and it’s at home. West Virginia, which gave the Frogs their second-toughest game in 2014, comes to Fort Worth for a Thursday night game.

But they will have to play well on the road, Patterson said.

“We had 10 games in the state of Texas this year. Now you’ve got to go on six tough road trips,” he said. “We’ll have to play better on the road offensively; with as many people as we have coming back, we’ll have an opportunity to do that. We’ve got to replace more on defense than we do on offense, so we’ve got to grow in that capacity.”

But at least the Horned Frogs won’t have to worry about getting the attention of the playoff selection committee. They will enter next season as a front-runner, with a front-runner for the Heisman Trophy in quarterback Trevone Boykin.

If Patterson can reforge a defense following the losses of linebackers Paul Dawson and Marcus Mallet, safeties Chris Hackett and Sam Carter, defensive tackle Chucky Hunter and cornerback Kevin White, it will give his team a chance to stay in the conversation.

But there is no room for error. One loss may be too much to overcome. Two certainly will be.

“Everybody out there is trying to do the same thing, trying to become one of the next four teams that gets in,” Patterson said. “If we don’t play like we did this year, we won’t be one of those teams.”

Starting highly ranked means the Frogs won’t have as far to climb to reach the top four. If they start in the top four, they may merely have to hold their place until the first CFP rankings come out.

“I’ll worry about what everybody thinks in November,” Patterson said, “if we can be in the same situation we were when we got to November this year.”

Carlos Mendez, 817-390-7407

Twitter: @calexmendez

AP Top 25

The Top 25 teams in The Associated Press college football poll, with first-place votes in parentheses, final records, total points based on 25 points for a first-place vote through one point for a 25th-place vote, and previous ranking:

Record

Pts

Pv

1. Ohio St. (59)

14-1

1,475

5

2. Oregon

13-2

1,402

3

3. TCU

12-1

1,349

6

4. Alabama

12-2

1,297

1

5. Florida St.

13-1

1,212

2

5. Michigan St.

11-2

1,212

7

7. Baylor

11-2

1,098

4

8. Georgia Tech

11-3

1,071

10

9. Georgia

10-3

925

13

10. UCLA

10-3

908

14

11. Mississippi St.

10-3

767

8

12. Arizona St.

10-3

756

15

13. Wisconsin

11-3

724

17

14. Missouri

11-3

710

16

15. Clemson

10-3

683

18

16. Boise St.

12-2

653

21

17. Mississippi

9-4

543

9

18. Kansas St.

9-4

509

11

19. Arizona

10-4

499

12

20. Southern Cal

9-4

315

24

21. Utah

9-4

302

23

22. Auburn

8-5

216

19

23. Marshall

13-1

161

NR

24. Louisville

9-4

116

20

25. Memphis

10-3

94

NR

Others receiving votes: Notre Dame 28, Stanford 27, Nebraska 22, Air Force 21, Duke 18, LSU 12, Utah St. 11, Arkansas 10, Minnesota 9, Oklahoma 7, Texas A&M 7, N. Illinois 4, Colorado St. 2.

Coaches Top 25 Poll

The Top 25 football coaches poll, with first-place votes in parentheses, final records, total points based on 25 points for first place through one point for 25th, and previous ranking:

Record

Pts

Pvs

1. Ohio State (62)

14-1

1550

4

2. Oregon

13-2

1477

3

3. TCU

12-1

1408

6

4. Alabama

12-2

1363

1

5. Michigan State

11-2

1282

7

6. Florida State

13-1

1262

2

7. Georgia Tech

11-3

1136

9

8. Baylor

11-2

1135

5

9. Georgia

10-3

1018

13

10. UCLA

10-3

909

15

11. Missouri

11-3

907

14

12. Mississippi State

10-3

799

8

13. Wisconsin

11-3

765

17

14. Arizona State

10-3

750

16

15. Clemson

10-3

733

18

16. Boise State

12-2

627

21

17. Arizona

10-4

574

11

18. Kansas State

9-4

556

10

19. Mississippi

9-4

444

12

20. Utah

9-4

331

25

21. Southern Cal

9-4

297

22. Marshall

13-1

178

23. Auburn

8-5

167

19

24. Louisville

9-4

113

20

25. Memphis

10-3

93

Others receiving votes: Nebraska 79, Air Force 45, Notre Dame 26, Duke 23, Stanford 22, Minnesota 20, Arkansas 18, LSU 13, Utah State 8, Texas A&M 7, Rutgers 4, Oklahoma 3, Washington 3, Oklahoma State 2, Louisiana Tech 1, Navy 1, Northern Illinois 1.

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