FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — TCU is set to finish the regular season with its only non-conference game instead of starting the pandemic-altered year that way as planned.
Linebacker Garret Wallow hasn't really concerned himself with which opponent the Horned Frogs might add — although the Louisiana native is looking forward to facing Louisiana Tech on Saturday night.
Wallow is just happy TCU (5-4) is getting the maximum 10 games under the guidelines set by the Big 12 when the flurry of changes started four months ago. An opener against SMU was canceled because of COVID-19 issues before the Horned Frogs played the full conference slate.
“It’s just finishing strong, enjoying every moment of it and embracing these last two games with my guys,” said Wallow, a senior. “We still have this game and a bowl game and if we had another game after I’d be excited to play. I’m just excited I get two more games with my guys.”
The Bulldogs (5-3) played for the first time in a month last week, beating North Texas 42-31. Now they get a return trip to the Dallas area after three straight games were called off in a season that was supposed to start with a visit to another Big 12 school in Baylor. That game never happened, and this replacement was announced Dec. 1.
“If we were going to cancel one, I was kinda hoping it would be this one after I watched their film,” Louisiana Tech coach Skip Holtz said. “We’re not looking at this as a bowl game. This is we came off North Texas and now we’re getting ready for our next opponent and this is a great opportunity. We’re kind of excited to see where we line up against this type of talent.”
TCU has won four of five to finish above .500 in the Big 12, capped by a 29-22 victory at home against then-No. 19 Oklahoma State when Max Duggan threw a go-ahead 71-yard touchdown pass to Derius Davis in the fourth quarter. The Horned Frogs have won two in a row at home after losing their first three in Fort Worth.
It's just the second meeting between the schools. TCU won 31-24 in the 2011 Poinsettia Bowl, a year after the Horned Frogs finished a 13-0 season with a win over Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl.
“They’re very physical, they run around and play the football,” Patterson said. “They play extremely hard and to be honest with you they play extremely hard on special teams. This ballgame will be all we want.”
Wallow and Louisiana Tech running back Israel Tucker grew up together in the New Orleans area and ran track on the same relay team before going to different high schools. Wallow said Tucker is the only Bulldogs player he knows well.
“We played each other in high school," Wallow said. “It’s going to be good competing against him another time before it’s all said and done.”
Luke Anthony, a graduate transfer from Abilene Christian, and sophomore Aaron Allen have shared duties at quarterback all season for Louisiana Tech. Anthony threw for two touchdowns against North Texas, and Allen had a pair of TD tosses in the previous game against UAB, a 37-34 victory in double overtime on Oct. 31.
“We have tried to roll those two as evenly as possible,” Holtz said. “What I don’t want to get into is, ‘OK, this week we’re going to start Aaron.’ We’ve been starting Luke. We’re going to continue to start Luke. Aaron’s going to continue to play. I don’t look at this as we have a starter and a backup. I look at this as we have two starters.”
WRAPPING UP NO. 20
Patterson is wrapping up his 20th regular season as TCU's coach. The school's winningest coach hasn't had consecutive losing seasons, and a victory over Louisiana Tech will guarantee a winning record after TCU went 5-7 last year.
“It says a lot about a young football team,” Patterson said. “When they’ve played with a lot of energy, when they’ve played when they look like they’re having fun, really good things happen to them. We’ve got to keep doing that.”