''Perception is reality. The last ball game, we didn't play the way we needed to,'' coach Gary Patterson said Tuesday. ''Obviously in these next few ball games, we've got to play a lot better to get noticed again. But there are a lot of goals set.''
The 13th-ranked Horned Frogs (8-1, 5-1 Big 12) could still get a share of second consecutive conference title and get in position for another appearance in one of the six games on Jan. 1 set by the College Football Playoff.
Patterson even pointed out the outside chance for a playoff spot, then added: ''You just go forward. Stranger things have happened.''
After the 49-29 loss at No. 5 Oklahoma State that snapped their school-record 16-game winning streak, the Frogs are back home Saturday as a more than six-touchdown favorite over winless Kansas (0-9, 0-6).
Not only did TCU suffer its first loss in more than a year, star receiver Josh Doctson never returned after rolling over his left wrist in the first half. Doctson has 78 catches for 1,315 yards and 14 touchdowns this season, and is TCU's career leader for receiving yardage and touchdowns.
Patterson described the receiver was ''probable'' even before his scheduled visit to a specialist Tuesday night. The coach also indicated Doctson might not play or could see only limited action in Saturday's senior-day game.
''He's feeling better,'' Patterson said. ''We've got to be careful to make sure. With all the injuries, we've been able to manage games by getting people out as soon as we could, and not playing them.''
Even with Doctson out after six catches for 64 yards, the Frogs had 663 total yards against Oklahoma State. Trevone Boykin threw for 445 yards, but did have four interceptions.
The TCU-Oklahoma State game was the first of six November games in the Big 12 matching the league's top four playoff contenders. The league was snubbed for a spot in the inaugural four-team playoff last year even when the Frogs were ranked third before a 55-3 win over Iowa State in their regular season finale.
''To be honest with you, I'm not sure it's good for the conference that (the schedule is) back-loaded. Because people forget early losses,'' Patterson said. ''I think it has to do with what people want their opinions to be. ... The four teams we're talking about, there's a chance everybody could have two losses. So how would that help us?''
TCU's loss at Baylor came in last season's fifth game. Patterson and the Frogs are just glad to be done with Oklahoma State, and able to put behind them the trip that was much longer than expected.
''From trouble with trying to get our pregame meal set up, to should have been home by 9 o'clock, to getting home at 3 or 4 in the morning, it wasn't a Frog day, I can promise you that,'' he said. ''It was not a good day.''