TCU and No. 14 Baylor will renew an old rivalry Saturday under anything but normal circumstances.
The surging Bears head to Fort Worth looking to collect their fourth win in a row. They will take on a Horned Frogs’ team under new leadership for the first time in 21 years after the school and longtime coach Gary Patterson mutually parted ways on Sunday.
TCU (3-5, 1-4 Big 12) is on a three-game skid that has dropped the Horned Frogs to ninth place in the standings. The last loss, a 31-12 setback at Kansas State, prompted a meeting Sunday that ended with Patterson walking away from a program he has guided since 2000.
Jerry Kill, a former head coach at Minnesota and Northern Illinois and a longtime friend of Patterson, will be the interim coach the rest of the season.
“I think the kids here respect me,” said Kill, who joined the TCU program as a consultant last season. “I’ve been around them enough, we’ve got a good game plan and we’ll go to work (Tuesday) and get after them. Nobody’s going to be Gary Patterson. I don’t claim to be Gary Patterson.”
On the other side of the field on Saturday, the Bears (7-1, 4-1) will focus on continuing what has propelled them into the hunt for a spot in the conference championship game.
Baylor owns the Big 12’s second-best offense, averaging 465.5 yards a game, and third-stingiest defense (339.4 yards allowed per game). Abram Smith has rushed for 930 yards and 11 touchdowns (116.3 yards per game), while quarterback Gerry Bohannon has been a major key with 1,753 passing yards, 12 touchdowns and only three interceptions in 203 pass attempts.
As effective as the Bears’ offense has been, defense has been at the eye of the storm — especially the last three weeks against foes with dangerous running attacks. Facing West Virginia’s Leddie Brown, Tyler Allgeier from BYU and Texas star Bijan Robinson, Baylor has been tough-as-nails — surrendering 120 yards total to that trio.
With running the ball a chore, the Bears’ foes have been forced to lean on the pass, and Baylor has recorded 13 sacks in the same three-game span.
“Change is different, especially when you’re pass-rushing to play the run, and now you play the run to get the opportunity to rush the passer,” second-year Baylor coach Dave Aranda said.
“The buy-in, the work, the grinding, has got it to where we’re winning the line of scrimmage.”
Those little battles have been tough for TCU in Big 12 play, where the Horned Frogs’ only victory is a 52-31 decision against Texas Tech.
The Horned Frogs’ defense — which was what Patterson built his legacy on — has been gashed for 443.3 total yards a game. Until last week, five foes in a row had rushed for 214 yards or more and each of the last four has thrown for 242 yards or more.
The abrupt change makes any wholesale changes difficult, but Kill said he and the remaining staff will focus on finding ways to help TCU get back on track.
“We’re not stopping trying to help TCU,” Kill said. “That would not be fair to Gary. We’ve got to carry on his legacy. … Everybody thinks everybody is out looking for a job, but that’s not happening right now. We are working. If you work and you do well, then if you’re out of a job, you get a job a lot quicker, if you’re doing your job here.”
–Field Level Media