In what will likely go down as one of the most fortuitous wins of the college football season, TCU stunned Texas Tech, 55-52, in Lubbock on Saturday, as wide receiver Aaron Green caught a tipped pass in the back of the end zone with 23 seconds left for the game-winning score.
While Green’s play saved the day, the defense still gave up 52 points to Texas Tech – one week after giving up 37 to SMU.
How far can TCU go playing this kind of football?
“I think they can win the league like this,” CBSSports.com college football insider Dennis Dodd said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “If there was ever a league that you could outscore everybody and win, they’re in the right league, the Big 12. Their offense fits it to a tee. Now they’ve lost seven defensive starters from the beginning of the year and may get a couple of guys back defensively, but this has to be tearing Gary Patterson’s heart out. I think they were 47th in total defense coming into Saturday. They’re 55th, I think, now. Since 2005, they’ve had one defense finish out of the top 25 nationally.”
Needless to say, the defense will need to improve drastically in the coming weeks, especially with No. 23 West Virginia (3-0), No. 20 Oklahoma State (4-0), No. 15 Oklahoma (3-0) and No. 5 Baylor (3-0) still left on the schedule. All four of those teams have potent offenses, and after watching his defense allow 89 points to a pair of unranked foes, Patterson has to be at least a little worried.
“I was there last week and I asked him (about his defense) in the media availability,” Dodd recalled, “and he said, ‘No, we’re not there yet where we have to win every game by outscoring people.’ And then I asked him in his office by himself and he kind of said, ‘Yeah, we may have to do that.’ So I think they can do it. I think they will do it. I think they’re that good with (Trevone) Boykin.”
Sticking in the Big 12, what do we make of Texas (1-3)? The Longhorns have played better in each of the last two weeks, but they lost to Cal, 45-44, following a missed extra point, and 30-27 to Oklahoma State after a mishandled punt.
What’s our take on Year Two of the Charlie Strong era?
“I think given where it started this season, I think overall it’s an improvement,” Dodd said. “At least they’re watchable. They’ve got some defensive issues obviously and they’ve got to fix the special teams. But in the middle of that, the AD (Steve Patterson) gets fired and they’ve got a new interim (Mike Perrin), who’s kind of giving him his blessing. So I think it’s a net improvement right now.”
That’s fair, but will that same fuzzy feeling be there if Texas gets blown out by TCU and Oklahoma each of the next two weeks and starts 1-5?
Said Dodd, simply, “No.”