Thank God it's almost game time... I can't possibly listen to another "Hot Take" from some blowhard sportscaster who has turned the Frogs in to some kind of villain for benefitting from the system or who has completely changed course from thinking TCU got the wrong end of some bad calls at the end of the game at Baylor to thinking Baylor is getting completely screwed by the committee. The committee is going to be in a no win situation Sunday - either make it look like the campaigning, the whining, the politicking impacted their decision and set a terrible precedent going forward, or get lashed for "ignoring" the head to head.
Thankfully for us, there's nothing we can do about that - all we can control is taking care of business against Iowa State, and bringing a Big 12 title to the football program. So let's go about focusing on that! Here are your five keys to victory for Saturday morning.
EYES ON THE PRIZE: The only thing that we as fans, the coaches, and the players need to worry about is winning a Big 12 title. That is the goal, that is the focus, that is the prize. It is so easy to get wrapped up in the talk of what could be or what might be or what might be denied - but there is one thing Saturday that we know for certain: a win guarantees a share of the conference championship! I don't care that it's shared, I don't care who we share it with, raising that trophySaturday afternoon would be an incredible accomplishment and I will be as proud as I have been to be a Frog. I am sure Coach Patterson has kept his team focused on just that, and I expect them to come out fired up to finish their home season, honor their seniors, and win a championship.
JUST BE YOU, DON'T BU: This is kind of a continuation of the point above, but all the Frogs need to do is come out and play to their best on offense, defense, and special teams. Don't worry about making a statement for anyone but themselves, their seniors, and well, we fans would appreciate it too. Boykin has been at his best when he's stayed within himself, not worried about rankings, Heisman contention, awards, etc. Somehow, the negative media attention has put the Frogs back in the underdog position, despite the fact there is a huge spread in the game tomorrow, and there is not a better team in the country when their backs are against the wall. I expect to see the very best version of this team tomorrow morning.
WHO'S WITH GREEN?: Aaron Green has been outstanding, and has played exceptionally before and especially since Catalon went out. But as Boykin has tended to run less as the year has progressed, the search for the next back in line has come up empty so far. Don't get me wrong - Hicks and Johnson are going to be great players, I really believe that. They have all the tools. But, outside of Johnson's great fourth quarter against Tech, neither has been able to do much damage for the Frogs. I think for tomorrow, and the future (unless we get BJ back, which I am hopeful occurs), developing that second running back that can be a threat is crucial. Hopefully, Hicks or Johnson steps up tomorrow, or the coordinators get creative with Gray healthy and utilize him some in the run game.
IF YOU WANT TO MAKE A STATEMENT...: Do it on the defensive side of the ball. My gut feeling right now is that the difference is rankings comes down to this unit, and the dominating football they have been playing the last few weeks. Maybe they don't hold the statistical advantage, but since the second half of the WVU game, what defense has been more impressive among the contenders? The first unit shut down the Mountaineers for two quarters, held Kansas State to 13 points (and the touchdown came on a blown coverage), struggled early against a Kansas team that got every lucky bounce and impossible catch in the first half, before closing the door in the second, turned over Texas six times and held them to field goals outside of a long screen play... when they have needed to, they have been as good as anybody. They will see yet another excellent receiver tomorrow in freshman Allen Lazard, who has been overlooked due to ISU's record but is as good as any freshman in the country, and holding him to a no impact game will be crucial. If the Frogs play with the intensity and fierceness we saw in Austin, it will be a long day for a pretty good Iowa State O. And coming off a long week and some extra rest, I fully expect it.
LOUDER: When I look back on this season at home, there is one thing that is going to stick out as much, if not more, than the on field success - and that's the fans, specifically the student section. The last two years, as we scuffled and struggled at home, you were likely to see a lot of empty seats at the beginning and end of a lot of games. An 11am kickoff would ensure a late arriving, probably hungover, and not all that interested crowd, and the excitement would build slowly and fade quickly. That is no longer the case, and it's not even arguable. It's hard to say which breeds which - does the on-field success account for the total change of environment or has the team truly been inspired by the chaos the fans create? Maybe it's a little of both, and that's the way it should be. I watch a ton of college football - I dream of seeing in person the Swamp when it's rocking, Death Valley under the lights, 100,000 people singing Rocky Top, Oregon when the crowd is in full throat... well, I did dream. Now I feel like I get my own little pieces of each of those places every time I take my spot in the end zone on a Saturday. And that starts with the student section. Kudos to TCU for recognizing there needed to be change, and reaching out to the ones who make it (the kids) to do so. And major props to those students who get there early, stay late, get loud, and then get LOUDER. Let's all be louder tomorrow. It's senior day. We have so much to be thankful for. We have the opportunity to put a Big 12 championship trophy in the case. We have a team that is playing for 11-1. There's no excuses to not finish the journey together!