The third-ranked TCU Horned Frogs found themselves on the ropes in Manhattan, Kansas last week before staging an 18 point comeback win against Kansas State, and head coach Gary Patterson thinks his team could find itself if in a similar position in Ames, Iowa on Saturday.
“This will be a tough ballgame.” Patterson said. “They’ve got big wide receivers – we’re not as big in the secondary. You have a couple mismatches for us. You got to get ready – you got to play the run better. They play the same, similar type of offense than K-State does in the run game. And they are a bend but don’t break, and they get a chance to play this offense two weeks in a row now, they play Texas Tech, now they play us. But the difference is that they’re playing at home. And so, if you put all those variables into it, I’d say you’re looking at another pretty good ballgame again.”
In the first half against Kansas State, TCU struggled to stop the Wildcats' ground game as the Frogs’ defense gave up 165 rushing yards and five rushing touchdowns during the first two quarters. TCU has also surrendered a lot of rushing yards in the first half to Texas Tech running back DeAndre Washington and SMU quarterback Matt Davis.
As Patterson noted, Iowa State’s run game resembles Kansas State’s attack, which his young defense struggled against on Saturday. In order for TCU’s defense to be more successful at stopping opposing offenses, especially on the ground, it will need to get off to a quicker start, Patterson said.
“Defensively, we just need to start faster,” He said. “If we played like the defense we had in the second half, allowing 119 yards in the second half, then you’re going to have a lot more success. But we kind of waited around in the Texas Tech and Kansas State games, and we can’t do that in Big 12 play – we got to start faster this week.”
Though the Iowa State Cyclones are 2-3 this season with their only two wins coming against Northern Iowa and Kansas, they have the reputation of being the team who can pull off the unlikely upset. In 2011, Iowa State upset No. 2 Oklahoma State in Ames to get the program’s first victory over a top-6 opponent. During the prior season, the Cyclones were able to come out of Austin with a victory over No. 19 Texas.
And despite the program’s futility, which is highlighted by the fact that Iowa State has only appeared in 12 bowl games since the team's inception in 1892, its home, Jack Trice Stadium, is known by many college football fans as a loud and crowded environment.
So far this season, TCU has played in front of some record crowds at visiting stadiums, all of which have been close games, and it seems like Patterson isn’t expecting any different from the Cyclones’ faithful.
“We played a lot of football already in this season at six games,” Patterson said. “If you count Minnesota, largest crowd, they were way jacked. Texas Tech, one of their largest crowds. Kansas State, their third largest crowd since coach Snyder has been there. And they’ve found ways to win.”
The matchup between Iowa State and TCU is scheduled for 7 p.m. Saturday. So far, TCU has played three games in a primetime slot including Minnesota, SMU and Kansas State. Patterson said he sees the trend of TCU being scheduled for more night games as a compliment to the program's success, but he also noted that primetime games can be exhausting for his players.
“Well yeah, I think it’s a compliment,” Patterson said. “But it makes it tougher because those night games, more emotion, kids play, it’s usually easier to play those games when you go on the road in the daytime, the crowd is not as fired up and the team is not fired up. It takes more energy out of your plug to play those games.”
But when asked if his team’s experience in close road games would help while playing as the visitor at Iowa State, Patterson was quick to say that the progressions of TCU’s previous road away matchups are now meaningless.
“Means nothing to Ames, it’s the next ball game.” Patterson said. “I’m sure they’re looking at it, because I just said it–all games have been close.”