FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) TCU coach Gary Patterson remembers the strange looks he got 10 years ago during a losing season when he talked about his team becoming a BCS buster.
The Horned Frogs ended up doing just that - not once, but twice - under the old system before moving to the Big 12 Conference. Still, the coach isn't surprised he's getting the same reaction now when he says that TCU is ''just touching the iceberg'' in its third season in a power-five league.
''There's still a lot of work to do. We're not where we want to be depth (wise), we're not where we want to be as a team,'' Patterson said Tuesday. ''I think we have an unbelievable level to grow as a program here at TCU and in the Metroplex. I think we're just touching the iceberg, to be honest with you.''
On Saturday night, the No. 6 Horned Frogs (7-1, 4-1 Big 12) play league-leading No. 9 Kansas State (7-1, 5-0). It will be TCU's first home matchup of Top 10 teams, and comes against Patterson's alma mater.
TCU's only loss this season was that wild 61-58 game four weeks ago at Baylor, when the Frogs led by 21 points in the fourth quarter. They rebounded with lopsided victories over Oklahoma State and Texas Tech, scoring 82 points against the Red Raiders, before overcoming a 13-point deficit in the second half Saturday to win 31-30 at West Virginia on Jaden Oberkrom's game-ending 37-yard field goal.
TCU is in contention for the Big 12 title in only its third season after its third consecutive Mountain West Conference championship, and also in the mix for the first four-team College Football Playoff. Patterson was asked if there was any personal satisfaction in returning to the Top 10.
''Oh, I don't know, I haven't thought about that. I usually don't assess those kinds of things until I get done with the season,'' he said. ''But obviously being able to prove (to) all those people that said that TCU couldn't win in the Big 12.''
Based on his postgame meeting with Mountaineers coach Dana Holgorsen, Patterson thinks West Virginia thinks the same way.
West Virginia was part of six Big East championships in nine seasons, including 2010 and 2011, before moving with TCU into the Big 12.
Before their Mountain West dominance, which including an undefeated 2010 season capped by a Rose Bowl victory over Wisconsin, the Frogs had shared titles in Conference USA and the WAC.
TCU and West Virginia had identical records in their first two Big 12 seasons, going 11-14 overall with a 6-12 marks in conference games. They were both 4-8 last year, when Patterson had only his second losing season - the other was 2004, the same time he was talking about BCS games, and five years before the Frogs made it to the Fiesta Bowl.
The Frogs are still trying to do the same thing they did when playing in other leagues.
''Climb that pyramid,'' said Patterson, referring to the chart of goals in the team meeting room where ''national championship'' is at the top. ''They don't give you any style points. You either color in purple or don't color in purple. You've got to go play.''