Images from Saturday's game between the Jayhawks and Horned Frogs at Memorial Stadium
TCU football coach/Rozel native Gary Patterson — whose Horned Frogs kept their Big 12 and national title hopes alive with a down-to-the-wire 34-30 road victory against Kansas University on Saturday afternoon — believes the Jayhawks’ next head coach just might be their current interim coach.
“Unless they find somebody better out there, but to me it’d be hard to be any better than what they played today,” said Patterson, who had a message for KU’s Clint Bowen during the post-game handshake.
“Like I told him, he did a great job,” Patterson said. “I think they’ve done a great job. No. 1 he cares about KU. I think that’s the ultimate No. 1. I think the same thing happens with coach (Bill) Snyder at Kansas State. He cares about Kansas State.
“I think Kansas people deserve somebody like that. I think that’s the kind of people they are here. They want somebody who is going to care about them, also be a good ball coach, be able to recruit and do some things,” added KSU graduate Patterson. “I think coach Bowen and his staff have got his kids to play.”
The unheralded (3-7, 1-6) Jayhawks led (9-1, 6-1) TCU by 10 points in the third quarter.
TCU just happens to be ranked fourth in the College Football Playoff poll, meaning if the season ended Saturday, the Frogs would be in the inaugural Final Four.
“Well, yeah ... until the last second,” Patterson said, if he felt the outcome was in doubt. “I never felt (it was) out of reach. But it was interesting.”
Patterson had so much respect for the Bowen-led Jayhawk team that took the field Saturday he decided to go for a first down on fourth and one from the KU 14 with 2:14 left. A short field goal would have given the Frogs a seven-point lead.
Instead, quarterback Trevone Boykin (330 yards passing, one TD; 19 yards rushing) carried for two yards and the pivotal first.
“You don’t have things going for you and things happen. That’s why I went for it on fourth down,” Patterson said. “Everybody said, ‘Why didn’t you kick a field goal?’ To be honest with you, you’ve got to get an inch. They had no time outs left. You get an inch you win the ballgame. If they go down and score a touchdown (after field goal) they could go for two and still beat you.”
He didn’t want to take any chances of a late Jayhawk TD, not on a day KU receiver Nigel King scored on a 78-yard pass play in which he kept the ball alive by tipping it a couple times.
“There were some interesting plays, I have to tell you that,” Patterson said with a smile.
TCU overcame a 27-24 deficit thanks to a spectacular 69-yard punt return for a score by Cameron Echols-Luper with 2:38 left in the third.
“Every time I went out there I just heard the thump off his foot, how hard he was punting it,” Echols-Luper said of KU’s Trevor Pardula. “I knew he was going to kick it deep. As soon as I caught it I knew I had a chance to score because he kicked it so deep. He outkicked his coverage so then I just knew the other 10 guys would have my back. I had to get in a zone for them.”
Regarding the big-picture, TCU hopes the way it hung in to win Saturday’s game will keep it firmly in the race for the football playoff.
“A lot of people would have lost that ballgame,” Patterson said. “There weren’t any style points here other than the fact that we fought back and won the game.
“For the kids I wished we’d won by more, so it’d been a difference (in playoff), but here’s the thing, everybody has two to three games left and you’ve got to go win. If we can be 11-1 after our final two ballgames (Texas, Iowa State) with a good Texas team that’s playing well, especially at home, and the last game against Iowa State, we’ll see how it falls.”
He was asked if his team felt any “disappointment” about Saturday’s narrow win.
“Oh no. No,” Patterson stressed. “They (Frogs) knew they about got beat.”
By the Bowen-coached Jayhawks.
“I told ‘em what they were getting into. I watched them play last week against Iowa State (KU won 34-14). They had an opportunity to still be bowl eligible if they won three games. I’ve been saying to the guys they’ve been doing great, they had a lot of momentum. They got a couple breaks and you’re in a ballgame. We’re glad to be 9-1. Win on the road. Go home.”