Looks like both sides are playing nice ahead of one of the biggest regular season games in either team’s history.
In Norman on Monday, Mayfield told reporters of Patterson: “He’s one of the best defensive minds in the game. Coach Patterson has had that defense ready to play us every year.”
Tuesday at TCU, Patterson said of Mayfield: “I’ve always liked him and admired the way he competes. You’ve got to love a guy who’s a competitor. He’s one of those guys, if you’re playing against him, you probably don’t like him. But if you like competitors, you’ve got to admire the things he’s been able to do.”
Mayfield has been able to do a lot. He leads the country’s No. 1 offense and is the Heisman Trophy front-runner. He’s top-three in the country in completion percentage, passing efficiency, touchdown throws and passing yards. In or out of the pocket, he is a wizard.
“He can bring the crowd into a lot of games,” TCU safety Niko Small said. “That helps him, especially at home. I just admire his talent.”
The secondary will be tested by the best QB they’ll face all year. It sounds like they know it.
”Coach P tells us we’ve played a lot of hard games, we haven’t played a lot of smart games,” safety Niko Small said. ”We have to make sure we come together for sure, especially from these last few games that we have down the stretch. … We just have to make sure that we play smart and hard.”
When TCU opened Big 12 play back in September with a 44-31 win at Oklahoma State, the Cowboys had 499 yards. But that was 80 yards below their norm, and two touchdowns short of their Big 12-best 45.3 points a game average. Oklahoma scores 45.0 points a game.
The Frogs have also gotten past top offensive teams West Virginia and SMU, and their only blemish wasn’t a blowout but a 14-7 loss at Iowa State. After Oklahoma, they go next week to Texas Tech, another top-10 offense.
”Any challenge excites us,” Small said. ”Whoever you put in front of us, we’re going to make sure it’s at least a hard game for you.”
Baker’s gonna get his. It’s just a matter of how much it hurts.
The No. 8 Horned Frogs (8-1, 5-1 Big 12, No. 6 CFP), with the conference's top defense, have already this season defeated three of the top 10 FBS offenses while holding them below their season averages for yards and points. The next challenge is a Saturday night showdown at No. 5 Oklahoma , against Heisman Trophy front-running quarterback Baker Mayfield and the nation's most productive offense.
"You can't let Oklahoma big-play you, and that's hard to do because they have a lot of people," Patterson said. "You've got to be able to give them different looks and you've got to have a group smart enough to do that and still play within the structure of the defense. Because any time you put the quarterback in play, it makes it harder."
Meaningful games in November is the goal of every player in college football.
"This time of year, like I've said, you want to play in games that people want to watch," Patterson said. "Last year, nobody cared this time of year, for us."
Patterson wants his players to prepare the same each week, regardless of how good or bad the opponent is. But for him, in a big week like this, the approach does change."
"Do less," Patterson says. "If you want to put a large amount of games together in wins, get ready for the games that you're supposed to win, and the big games take care of themselves. If you make this game more special, you're kids will screw up."
I think we are in for another instant classic.
• The defensive line has been scary good. Last week, the Frogs sacked Texas seven times and held the Longhorns to only 9 rushing yards.
• There are plenty of other playmakers. Lincoln Riley has praised TCU’s athleticism. Darius Anderson and Kyle Hicks are capable backs, and former OU commit Jalen Reagor has turned into a top target.
• This series tends to come with some drama. Five meetings against OU since TCU joined the Big 12 have been decided by a total of 21 points.
There is some real star power in TCU’s class of 2018.
Of the 6-6 Archie, Dixon said: “Kaden is a versatile, physical, skilled wing that can play multiple positions. He’s very competitive and has the ability to become a great defender.”
Of Barlow, rated the No. 14 center in the country and No. 14 player in Texas by 247Sports, Dixon said: “Russell has a big, strong body with very good hands and a soft touch around the basket. We expect him to improve due to his strong work ethic.”
Of Davis, a 5-10 guard who averaged 23.0 points and 7.4 assists last season at Houston Sam Houston, Dixon said: “Kendric is a tough, hard-nosed point guard. He possesses good leadership skills and has great vision on the court. He has a tremendous burst of speed with the ability to change pace.”
Jamie Dixon’s approach is to literally scour the globe for talent. So far, it’s working.
“When you’re pitching TCU and a great institution, Power Five school in the Big 12, you get to play for a great coach in Jamie Dixon that has a resume that speaks for itself, it’s an easy sell,” Patrick said. “Now you have these brand new facilities that are available to them, so it’s an easy sell to be honest.”
With that being said, the Horned Frogs have become an international team as a third of the roster was born outside of the United States: senior forward Vladimir Brodziansky hails from Slovakia, freshman forward Lat Mayen and Noi are Australians, senior forward Ahmed Hamdy is from Egypt and freshman center Kevin Samuel comes from Barbuda, an island in the Caribbean.
“I think the international pitch is a great and easy sell for us,” Patrick said.