STEPHEN HAWKINS, AP Sports Writer
FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Gary Patterson remembers the crazy looks he was getting in 2004 when he talked about TCU playing in BCS games.
That was when the Horned Frogs were in the middle of what is still their last losing season, and the only one under Patterson. And before they were twice BCS busters, including their 13-0 season in 2010 that ended with a Rose Bowl victory.
So even with the Horned Frogs (3-4, 1-3 Big 12) off their worst start since 1999, and in their second Big 12 season, Patterson still is confident about this program.
“You go through cycles where you have groups of kids that grow up and play, and you don’t have injuries and you don’t have things, and so our cycle’s going to come back,” Patterson said. “I don’t think there’s any doubt in my mind where TCU is going to go and where we’re headed and how we’re going to do things. So anybody that’s worried about my confidence or how we need to do it, you don’t have to worry about that.”
The Frogs are home Saturday night to host resurgent Texas (4-2, 3-0) for the first time since 1994, when both were then in the old Southwest Conference.
TCU, which has only 10 scholarship seniors this season, has been without quarterback Casey Pachall since he broke his non-throwing arm the second game this season. Defensive end Devonte Fields, the Big 12 defensive player of the year as a freshman last season, has been a non-factor because of a suspension to start the season and a foot injury.
“Winning the conference is probably out of grasp, so what you’re going to do is find how to win three of the last five games of your season so you can get to a bowl game, so you can get extra practices,” said Patterson, 119-40 in his 13 seasons as head coach. “We’re upbeat, we’re working just as hard as we ever have. … This is not a one-year deal. My whole thing is to bring a championship back to Fort Worth.”
TCU won in Austin last Thanksgiving night, a victory that gave the Frogs a winning regular season.
With LaDainian Tomlinson still at running back, the Frogs finished the 1999 season with a five-game winning streak after that 3-4 start.
Their only losing season under Patterson came in 2004, when they lost their finale against Tulane to finish 5-6. TCU was 11-1 the following season, and won at least 11 games six times over a seven-year stretch before its Big 12 debut last year.
All of TCU’s losses this season have been by 14 points or less to teams currently ranked 19th or higher in the AP poll, including 24-10 at Oklahoma State last weekend.
TCU hasn’t had five losses in the first eight games of a season since a 10-game losing streak to start 1997.
“We approach every game the same, a must-win. We’ve got to win, it’s a conference game,” senior safety Elisha Olabode said. “We don’t want to be 3-5. … It’s something new, but we’re a good team. We’re going to stick together. We know what it takes to win.”