No. 11 TCU faces Texas Tech with Big 12 title hopes
LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) — TCU coach Gary Patterson got hit in the head by a frozen water bottle when the 11th-ranked Horned Frogs last played at Texas Tech two years ago.
“Everybody else gets tortillas,” Patterson said. “It’s a lovely relationship that we have.”
There certainly have been some wild games between them, including TCU’s 55-52 win in 2015 with a fourth-down catch of a tipped pass in the back of the end zone in the final minute. The Red Raiders won in double overtime at Fort Worth last year, four years after a triple-overtime victory there in their first meeting as Big 12 foes.
Even though the Frogs (8-2, 5-2 Big 12, No. 12 CFP) are likely out of playoff contention after losing two of their last three games, including 38-20 at No. 3 Oklahoma last week, they are still in good position to make it to the Big 12 championship game by winning their last two regular season games. They finish at home against Baylor.
“For us, it’s just about Texas Tech. None of the rest of that makes any difference if you can’t win the next two,” Patterson said. “I don’t have to tell (players) if they win their ballgames, they probably have an opportunity to be in.”
TCU will be without senior quarterback Kenny Hill and safety Niko Small because of unspecified injuries. While they weren’t traveling with the team, leading tackler Travin Howard did make the trip despite uncertainty about his health. Highly touted freshman quarterback Shawn Robinson will get his first start.
Patterson never elaborated on why he said several key players, including Hill, were “between probable and questionable” to play. Linebacker Montrel Wilson was also among those players. Running back Darius Anderson, TCU’s leading rusher (768 yards, eight touchdowns) is out for the rest of the season with an unspecified leg injury.
Texas Tech (5-5, 2-5) is coming off a victory over one-win Baylor that snapped a four-game losing streak, and got the Red Raiders within a win of bowl eligibility in coach Kliff Kingsbury’s fifth season.
“I feel like we were a little down from the losing streak that we had before the Baylor game. So I feel like we needed the confidence to go into this game and the next one,” senior nose tackle Mychealon Thomas said.
Since winning their first seven games after former quarterback Kingsbury became their coach in 2013, the Red Raiders are 22-31 and missed out on bowl games two of the past three seasons.
Some other things to know when the Red Raiders play their home finale:
SOME KEY NUMBERS
The Red Raiders lead the Big 12 and are second among Power Five schools with 22 takeaways. ... TCU is 36-12 on the road since 2009. ... Texas Tech hasn’t beaten a ranked opponent since a win over then-No. 16 Arizona State in the 2013 Holiday Bowl. ... TCU won 82-27 in 2014, but in the other four Big 12 meetings against Tech, there have been three games decided by 3 points, and another 10-point game.
TCU DE Mat Boesen had sacks in four consecutive games before Oklahoma, when he was ejected early in the second quarter for a kicking motion when trying to get up from two defenders at the end of a play. Boesen’s 11 career sacks are the most for any active TCU player. He is eligible to start Saturday.
“To be honest with you, if I would have been Mat Boesen, then I would have done the same thing,” Patterson said. “Bottom line is, when people run counters, we cut it. We cut it, and they didn’t like it, and two guys basically went after him.”
BACK IN THE SADDLE
A new Saddle Trophy will be presented to the winner of the game like it was from 1961-70 before the original trophy was lost, and when they were still in the Southwest Conference together. The two teams split those 10 games for what was dubbed the “West Texas Championship” before the trophy suddenly disappeared.