FORT WORTH (AP) – Gary Patterson wore a different color purple in his return to his alma mater.
“I think the glamour of being a Kansas State alumni has wore off a little bit after a couple of the names that I was called last year standing on the sideline,” the 14th-year TCU coach said. “Some of them forgot I was an alumnus of the place.”
Just imagine what K-State fans will call Patterson if his No. 6 Horned Frogs (7-1, 4-1 Big 12) win at home Saturday night against the conference-leading Wildcats. The game has huge implications on who could win the league title and in the race for one of the spots in the new four-team College Football Playoff.
Kansas State (7-1, 5-0) tops the Big 12 standings, but the No. 9 Wildcats trail TCU in the AP poll and in the playoff rankings — the Frogs are also sixth there, a spot ahead of the Wildcats.
This is the first of three road games against ranked teams in the final month for K-State. The Wildcats also have to go to No. 24 West Virginia and No. 10 Baylor (No. 12 CFP), those sandwiching the instate rivalry game at home against Kansas.
“My only thinking right now is TCU and we will worry about the others when we come to them,” Wildcats coach Bill Snyder said. “I think we are improving.”
TCU is playing its fifth ranked opponent in six games, with the only loss being 61-58 at Baylor four weeks ago when the Frogs blew a 21-point lead in the fourth quarter. This could be their last chance to make a real statement since their last three regular-season games are against teams currently with losing records.
“I still feel like we got to go out there and prove ourselves every week,” receiver Kolby Listenbee said. “We still got to find a way to prove to everybody we should be top four and make the playoff. Every week is an interview.”
Here are a few other things to watch when TCU plays its first night game of the season:
PROTECTING THE BALL: Kansas State quarterback Jake Waters has gone without a turnover during a five-game winning streak. Waters has nine touchdown passes and three rushing TDs in that span. TCU is the national leader with a plus-15 turnover margin and their 26 turnovers forced (11 fumbles, 15 interceptions). “It just goes without saying that it is vital for whoever is our quarterback at any time make good decisions,” Snyder said. “(Waters) has done well and feels more and more comfortable with it all the time. … I am pleased with the progress he has made.”
BOYKIN BOUCEBACK: After completing only 12 of 30 passes for a season-low 166 yards at West Virginia in the last-play victory last week, TCU dual-threat quarterback Trevone Boykin apologized to the team for what he considered his subpar play. Boykin is still the Big 12 leader with 362 total yards a game. Kansas State is the league’s top defense, allowing 321 yards a game.
BEATING PATTERSON: Kansas State is 2-0 in Big 12 play against TCU and Patterson, who started his coaching career as a K-State graduate assistant in 1982, long before Snyder got there, and after being a player there the previous two seasons. TCU went ahead on a field goal with just over 2 minutes left in Patterson’s return to Manhattan last year, but lost 33-31 after a field goal with 3 seconds left. The Wildcats won 23-10 two years ago at TCU, a victory that boosted them into the No. 1 spot in the BCS standings before a loss at Baylor.
CHASING DAD: Kansas State senior Tyler Lockett has moved to No. 2 on the school’s career list with 2,877 yards receiving and 23 touchdowns — behind his dad in both categories. Kevin Lockett had 3,032 yards receiving and 26 TDs from 1993-96. Tyler Lockett’s 192 career receptions are third, behind the elder Lockett (217) and Green Bay receiver Jordy Nelson (206).
UNIQUE MATCHUP: This will be the first time TCU plays a home game with both teams ranked in the Top 10. The Frogs have played only three home games as a Top 10 team against another ranked opponent, the last in November 2009 when then-No. 4 TCU beat No. 16 Utah 55-28. The other such games were in 1955 and 1956, both lost by the Frogs.
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