"We've been talking about the BYU game since last January," Patterson said. "They are the team that has won the conference the last two seasons, so that has to be the mileage marker where you set your sights."
The TCU – BYU game has become pivotal, with the winner going on to win the Mountain West Conference championship each of the last three years.
"I think we are growing up as a program," Patterson said. "Big 12 teams are fun to play, but the bottom line of it is you've got to win your conference ballgames against the top teams in your conference…I will say this to you; since January there has been a helmet on the blocking dummy downstairs with a Y on it."
The potent BYU offense is averaging 452.7 yards a game (132.2 rushing and 320.5 passing) and scoring 37.8 points a game. Senior Linebacker Jason Philips said the team has been anticipating the BYU game, but Patterson has talked to the team about not blowing the game out of proportion.
"Going into the OU game, I think we played it up a little bit," Phillips said. "Coming out of the gates, I think we played too hard and made some mistakes because we were playing so hard. This is going to be a game where we have to come out with extreme emotion, definitely play hard, but also know that it's just another game. We just have to do our jobs to get the win."
TCU's defense is only allowing 207.4 yards a game (only 20.7 rushing) and 11.4 points a game. TCU leads the nation in all of those categories as well as total sacks with 28 and first downs allowed (10.6 a game). Something will give Thursday when the two statistical giants face off. Patterson said trying to stop the Cougar offense isn't practical. The Frogs will need to control the BYU attack, especially yards after the catch.
"You can't allow people to run with the football," Patterson said. "They are going to throw and catch the football. They are very good at what they do. You're not going to shut them down."
The Cougars have scored 81 percent of the time this season when they enter the red zone, 72 percent of the time, that score has a touchdown. Patterson emphasized how important it will be to get stops in the red zone.
"In this day and age in college football, if it is BYU or anybody else, you've got to keep people from getting touchdowns when they get in the red zone," Patterson said. "If you do that, you have a chance to win."
For the third straight year, the Frogs face the Cougars in a Thursday night showcase, which does not bode well for the Frogs who have lost five straight Thursday games. The Frogs will need solid play across the board to reverse the trend, but the Frogs played BYU close last year in Provo, Utah, losing 27-22. Patterson and Philips both acknowledged that BYU has become one of TCU's biggest rivals.
"Every time we've played them since I've been here, it's always been a knockdown, drag-out kind of fight," Philips said.
The rivalry will add another chapter Thursday night if front of, what should be, this season's biggest crowd at Amon G. Carter Stadium. The atmosphere will be electric and the spotlight will be on as the Frogs attempt to end BYU's nation-leading 16-game winning streak.