Parker nailed it in this week’s poll rant.
As the Los Angeles Times put it, “[Robinson and Fisher] were the difference between the Horned Frogs performing like a group heading toward back-to-back NCAA tournament berths and the Trojans performing like a squad heading toward a second straight season watching the sport’s signature event from home.”
But, as far as voters are concerned, TCU’s wins last week should have been expected. SMU and USC are two teams with NET rankings over 100, and not many ranked teams faltered. Only three unranked programs from the previous week cracked the Top 25.
Marquette went to No. 21 after knocking off No. 12 Wisconsin; Houston is No. 24 after an 8-0 start that features wins over Oregon and Oklahoma State; and Syracuse is tied at No. 25 after beating Georgetown on Saturday.
Doesn’t have much to play for? When’s the last time a TCU team didn’t show up for a game?
2. There weren’t many defenses better than Cal’s this season. Outside of lopsided losses against Oregon and UCLA, the Golden Bears held every one of their opponents to 24 points or less. The most impressive part of their season was a two-week stretch in which they held Washington and Washington State to a total of 29 points. The Bears swarm against the run. California allowed only 132.3 rushing yards per game and a scant 3.5 yards per carry. That’s going to be a huge issue for TCU, which doesn’t exactly have an explosive passing game to fall back on. Wide receiver Jalen Reagor is a special talent that sees action in both the running and receiving games, but TCU quarterback Grayson Muehlstein’s inexperience will make it tough for the Horned Frogs’ offense to get going.
3. In a game where points will come at a premium, the presence of running back Patrick Laird could make all the difference in the world for the Golden Bears. TCU’s rushing defense is every bit as good as Cal’s, but Laird’s ability to run between the tackles is huge. The senior rushed for 932 yards and five touchdowns this season, and he can be an absolute bruiser. His job will be to wear the Horned Frogs out, and if Laird is having success in the ground game then it will make things easier on freshman quarterback Chase Garbers. Garbers had taken his licks in his first year under center, but he has been improving. Going against a TCU team that doesn’t have much to play for, Garbers could get some much-needed confidence heading into his sophomore season.
The Frogs will be as close to full strength as they have been in quite a while.
Patterson expressed optimism that linebacker/ defensive end Ty Summers would be healthy enough to go, as well as defensive tackle Joseph Broadnax.
Summers fits in with Banogu and Collier as a player with pro aspirations that could use more film after he hasn’t been as productive as desired this season.
“To me, it’s a resume game,” Patterson said. “Every bit of film that you can put on for the pro scouts has a chance of making a difference. There’s no promise you’re going to make the NFL, so this may be the last game you play in your life.
“Just now thinking about it, I’m hoping Joe gets a few snaps. I’d like to see him go out on his own terms just because, but he’s going to have to make that decision.”
TCU should be able to have defensive success against the young Cal QB.
Though Cal has utilized multiple quarterbacks throughout the season, redshirt freshman Chase Garbers has become the most reliable face for the Golden Bears under center. The 19-year-old from Newport Beach, Calif., appeared in 10 of Cal’s 12 regular-season games, accumulating 1,413 passing yards and 14 touchdown passes against seven interceptions. Garbers threw for a season-high 243 yards and three touchdowns during the Golden Bears’ 49-7 victory at Oregon State on Oct. 20 -- the most points Cal has scored in a game all season.