TCU will not be going to a bowl game after its game against Baylor, but that does not mean the Horned Frogs will not be taking the matchup seriously.
“This Baylor game’s going to have to be our bowl game,” said head coach Gary Patterson following TCU’s loss to Kansas State.
The stakes do not seem as high after Baylor (9-1, 6-1 Big 12) lost to Oklahoma State last week, seemingly removing the Bears from National Championship contention. Meanwhile, TCU (4-7, 2-6 Big 12) is going to miss a bowl for the first time since 2004. But both teams still believe there is plenty to play for Saturday in Fort Worth.
Baylor is ranked No. 9 in the BCS Standings and still has a chance at a conference title and a BCS bowl game. For the Frogs, this last game is about getting younger players experience and sending the seniors off the right way.
One of those seniors is quarterback Casey Pachall, who will take the field for his final game in a TCU uniform Saturday. Pachall’s first career start came against Baylor in 2011. He had four touchdowns in that game but threw a late interception to clinch a 50-48 win for the high-scoring Bears and Robert Griffin III.
This year, the Bears are No. 1 in the country in scoring offense, putting up 56.8 points per game, but managed only two touchdowns in a 49-17 loss to the Cowboys. The Frogs have had an extra week to prepare for Baylor and hope the additional time will help them have some success against the Bears’ attack.
Limiting the Baylor running game will be key for TCU. The Bears are averaging 279.7 rushing yards per game and 5.8 yards per carry in 2013. OSU held Baylor to just 92 yards rushing, however, and 2.6 yards per carry as a team. The linebackers and defensive line for TCU will have to contain Baylor running back Shock Linwood. Tailbacks Lache Seastrunk and Glasco Martin may not play because of injuries.
Another senior making his final appearance Saturday will be cornerback Jason Verrett. Like Pachall, Verrett made the first start of his TCU career against the Bears in 2011, but unlike Pachall, he did not play well. Verrett was beat numerous times in coverage that night and considered giving up football after the game. Patterson convinced him otherwise, and the results have been great for Verrett and TCU.
The corner earned All-America honors in 2012 after grabbing six interceptions and breaking up 16 passes. The senior has locked down opposing teams’ top receivers this season, including Texas Tech’s Eric Ward, LSU’s Odell Beckham Jr. and Texas’ Mike Davis. He will match up against Antwan Goodley, who has 58 catches for 1193 yards and 12 touchdowns this season.
TCU will be looking for big plays from seniors like Pachall and Verrett on Saturday in the final game of both the 2013 season and their college careers, in which they will be looking for redemption for the first game of their career.