No. 5 TCU heads to Kansas looking for style points
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) Gary Patterson didn't need to deliver any rah-rah speeches last week. Every player in the TCU locker room knew what was at stake against Kansas State, the only team ahead of them in the Big 12 standings and a team still in playoff contention.
Patterson doesn't think he'll need to this week, either, for a different reason.
''You wouldn't think with everything that you have in front of you that you would have to get `em fired up to go play Saturday,'' he said. ''You wouldn't think you would have to do that.''
He's referring, of course, to the fact that the fifth-ranked Horned Frogs are now fourth in the college playoff selection committee's rankings. If they manage to hang onto that spot through the final three games of the season, they would be headed for a national semifinal.
It's not exactly a rough road, nor is it a chance to impress the committee with one last marquee win. So the burden is on TCU (8-1, 5-1) to take care of business crisply and efficiently.
''We can't look too far ahead,'' TCU wide receiver David Porter said. ''We have to worry about this week coming up because that is our next game, and that's all we can worry about.''
The Horned Frogs ripped the No. 13 Wildcats 41-20 last week to propel them into the playoff picture. Now, they take on a Kansas team playing for their interim coach.
Clint Bowen has been in charge of the Jayhawks (3-6, 1-5) since Charlie Weis was fired four games into the season, and so far he's been able to steady a listing ship.
Bowen made Michael Cummings his starting quarterback, switched speedy playmaker Tony Pierson from wide receiver back to running back, and shook up playcalling duties by making wide receivers coach Eric Kiesau the co-offensive coordinator along with John Reagan.
The changes have paid off with better play, and that's caught the attention of Patterson, who said that Bowen ''probably needs to have a lot of consideration'' for the full-time job.
Bowen insists he isn't worried about that, though. He's only focused on the Horned Frogs.
''TCU is a very talented team playing at a high level,'' he said. ''In all honesty, the last 10 years I've spent countless hours in the offseason watching TCU's defense, trying to steal ideas because (Patterson) has been one of the best defensive coaches in college football for a long time. On offense, they're obviously putting up a lot of points, a lot of yards.''
Making a lot of people believe they're among the best four teams in college football, too.
BUNDLE UP: The forecast calls for temperatures in the 30s and a likelihood of snow showers. That thought sent a shiver through several Horned Frogs, who are leaving Texas for a game for just the second time this season. ''Hopefully the sun always shines on the Frogs,'' Patterson said.
BOYKIN'S STAR: TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin has made a late Heisman push, his star turn against Kansas State high-lighted by a front-flipping touchdown run. ''I thought he'd be a great safety,'' said Bowen, who remembers seeing Boykin in high school. ''Tells you how smart I was.''
GROUNDING THE PASS: After giving up big yardage through the air in its loss to Baylor, the Horned Frogs have been better of late. They'll be facing a rapidly improving Kansas pass offense. ''There are things we worked on,'' TCU defensive back Chris Hackett said. ''Perfecting our craft.''
SENIOR DAY: It may be only mid-November, but the Jayhawks play their final two games on the road, so it'll be senior day at Memorial Stadium. Bowen will bid farewell to a senior class that watched two coaches get fired and won precious few games. ''We're going to make sure that we show the proper amount of respect and appreciation to these guys,'' Bowen said.
HEEENY MEENY MINEY MO: Ben Heeney is among those who will be playing at home for the final time. One of the nation's top tacklers, the Kansas linebacker embodies the Jayhawks' resilient nature. ''He's a unique guy,'' Bowen said, ''someone who truly can get himself emotionally involved in everything. You know what I mean? What do they say, wears his heart on his sleeve?''