Patterson prepares to deal with hype of home game

By Joseph Simmons, Staff Writer

As if facing 14th-ranked Utah with an undefeated season on the line wasn’t enough, add new uniforms, a sell-out crowd and ESPN College GameDay to the mix, and TCU head coach Gary Patterson has a lot on his plate this week.

“With all of this, it’s harder to deal with when you’re at home,” Patterson said. “When you go on the road to play, no one is asking for tickets, no one’s calling, family isn’t coming into town and wondering what you are doing after the game. When we are on the road, we’ll get on the bus, the plane, and then we are home. Here, we have the intangible of the big crowd and enthusiasm, which is good, as long as we focus and take care of it.”

With all the hype surrounding Saturday’s game in Fort Worth, Patterson will have to keep his team focused on Utah, as the Utes represent the last legitimate threat standing between the Horned Frogs and an outright Mountain West Conference Championship and likely BCS bowl bid. The situation is similar to 2008, when TCU came to Salt Lake City looking to dash the Utes’ title and BCS hopes. In that game, the 10th-ranked Utes pulled out the win against 11th-ranked TCU in a 13-10 thriller. After falling behind early, quarterback Brian Johnson led the Utes on an 80-yard drive in the final minutes, throwing the winning touchdown with 47 seconds left. The Utes eventually went on to beat Alabama in the Sugar Bowl and finish ranked second in the nation8212;a fact not lost on Patterson.

“They know how to win,” Patterson said. “They know how to play in big games. We know how to win, and we know how to play in big games. Every year, it’s a title fight. Like I said when I was coming off the field Saturday, it’s going to be a showdown in Cowtown.”

The Horned Frogs have gotten lots of attention for their defense, which is No. 3 in the nation, and quarterback Andy Dalton has steadily led their eighth-ranked offense to averages of 458 yards and 37 points per game.

Dalton does an effective job spreading the ball around to different receivers but will certainly look to explosive receiver Jeremy Kerley on Saturday. Kerley not only leads the team in receptions with 29 for 335 yards, but is also a special teams nightmare for opponents on punt and kick returns, having returned two punts for touchdowns already this season. Kerley’s skills notwithstanding, Patterson said he knows it will be Dalton who will have to step up and lead the TCU charge.

“You want great players to play in great games, and (Dalton) is going to have an opportunity on Saturday,” Patterson said.

Although neither he nor TCU have been in this type of situation at home in recent history, Patterson said that he’s excited to be at this point playing in a game that matters, and that his team will be ready to go.

“We are fired up to be playing at home and to play in front of a sell-out crowd,” Patterson said. “Like they always say, you get them ready for the games you’re supposed to win, and the big games take care of themselves.”

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TCU head coach Gary Patterson