TCU hopes for easier time with lowly Kansas this year
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) TCU coach Gary Patterson has never lost to Kansas in four Big 12 meetings.
None of them have been particularly easy.
There was the 20-6 victory on the road in 2012, the Horned Frogs' first year in the league, and a 27-17 win the following year. In 2015, when TCU was in the midst of a 12-1 season and headed for a No. 3 ranking in the final AP poll, it was a 34-30 squeaker at Memorial Stadium.
Even last year, it took everything TCU could muster in a 23-17 win over the winless Jayhawks.
''Any time we play Kansas, they always give us a good game,'' TCU defensive end James McFarland said. ''We know what to expect. We've got to be ready for it.''
The closeness of the meetings is, quite frankly, bizarre given the gulf that stands between the two programs. TCU won 34 games over that four-year stretch, going to three bowls, while the Jayhawks won seven games and are now on their third head coach.
Patterson sees progress in Year 2 under David Beaty, though.
''They're a lot better on defense,' he said. ''They're very physical and they're playing hard. I see the difference on their special teams. I think Coach Beaty and his group has done a great job of rallying the troops. They haven't had the success they've wanted but they've played awfully hard.''
The Horned Frogs (3-2, 1-1) haven't exactly had the success it has wanted, either. Their double-overtime loss to Arkansas and last week's loss to Oklahoma has sent them tumbling from the Top 25.
Still, they are heavy favorites over the Jayhawks (1-2, 0-1) - not that it's mattered so far.
''The thing our team understands and knows - it doesn't matter what the past held. It matters what you do on that day,'' Beaty said. ''Coming off last year and the year before, I think that that serves them with some motivation, as well.''
As the Horned Frogs and Jayhawks prepare to meet again, here are some things to watch:
WHATCHA TALKIN' BOUT, WILLIS: The Jayhawks have been rotating Montell Cozart and Ryan Willis at quarterback, but Cozart has been grossly ineffective so it will be Willis who starts on Saturday. And Beaty said he could end up playing the whole game.
''His efficiency has been a little better than Montell's the last couple of weeks,'' Beaty said, ''and really, when he's in there of late, he's done some things we haven't seen him do.''
THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE HOME: Patterson was born in Rozel, Kansas, went to community college in Dodge City and graduated from Kansas State. His first coaching job was with the Wildcats, and later, he was an assistant coach at Pittsburg State.
So every time he faces the Jayhawks or Wildcats, it is something of a homecoming for him.
''You have mixed emotions but I know who pays my bills,'' he said. ''What I've learned in this whole situation is that when you go places where they pat you on the back, `Glad you came, come back again,' usually you're not doing very well.''
GETTING HEALTHY: Two of the Jayhawks' best defensive linemen, Dorance Armstrong and Daniel Wise, were banged up in their lopsided loss to Texas Tech last weekend. But Beaty said this week that he's optimistic both will be available against the Horned Frogs.
''Dorance looks really well,'' he said. ''We'll have to wait a bit longer to see on Daniel.''
STARTING FASTER: The Horned Frogs trailed South Dakota State 17-7, fell into a 13-0 hole against Arkansas and were in a 49-24 hole against Oklahoma last week before making it close by the end.
Suffice to say TCU will be trying to get off to a better start against Kansas.
FINISHING BETTER: The Jayhawks actually stuck with high-flying Texas Tech into the third quarter, and trailed just 28-19 after Matthew Wyman connected on a 35-yard field goal. But the Red Raiders went on to score the final 27 points in what became a 55-19 rout.
''We're not good enough individually to win the game,'' Beaty acknowledged. ''We're not good enough defensively to win the game. We're not good enough offensively to win the game. ... We have to be a collective football team.''
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