FORT WORTH, Texas — TCU coach Gary Patterson knows the real measure for his team in the Big 12 Conference comes after beating then-No. 4 Oklahoma Sooners.
In the minutes after the Horned Frogs pulled off a 37-33 victory over the eight-time Big 12 champion Sooners, with TCU fans still scattered on the field celebrating outside, Patterson delivered that reminder to his players in the locker room.
“Why are you guys so excited? If you want to be the program that you want to become, you’ve got to act like you just beat Minnesota or you just beat Samford or whoever you play,” Patterson told them. “Because you guys gotta do it next week. That’s what this league is all about.”
Their reward for beating Oklahoma? The Frogs (4-0, 1-0 Big 12) moved to No. 9 in the new AP poll Sunday and have to get ready for another matchup of undefeated teams next Saturday at No. 5 Baylor (5-0, 2-0), the defending Big 12 champ.
“We know we’ve got a tough October,” Patterson said. “I’ve watched across the nation, and people make mistakes. They win games and put too much into it, and the next week they just don’t show up.”
A week after its 2014 debut in the Top 25, TCU made a 16-spot jump Sunday in a new poll shaken up by all the upsets. The Frogs, in their third Big 12 season, are in the Top 10 for the first time since the final poll of the 2010 season, when they were No. 2 behind Auburn after finishing 13-0 with a Rose Bowl victory over Wisconsin.
OU was among the five top-eight teams to open October with a loss after Trevor Knight’s Hail Mary pass on the final play sailed out of the end zone.
The Sooners (4-1, 1-1), the first Top 10 team to lose in Fort Worth since 1965, dropped seven spots to No. 11 in the new poll.
But because of all the upsets to start October and more than half the regular season remaining, the Sooners still have plenty of time to recover and be in the mix for the new four-team College Football Playoff — if they remain a one-loss team.
“You don’t look at the end of the season,” Sooners coach Bob Stoops said. “All we care about is next week. Period.”
While TCU plays in a top-10 matchup about 100 miles south, the first in Waco since 1956, OU plays its annual Red River Rivalry game against Texas (2-3, 1-1) at the State Fair of Texas before its first campus game in more than a month.
Knight, who had been 9-0 as OU’s starting quarterback, said the Sooners know the loss to TCU “isn’t the defining moment” of the season with so many games left.
“It’s not frustrating,” Sooners defensive tackle Chuka Ndulue said. “We just need a short-term memory.”
Like TCU and Baylor, OU still has games left this season against No. 16 Oklahoma State and No. 17 Kansas State.
The Frogs are 4-0 for the fifth time in their last seven seasons, a stretch in which they also won three consecutive Mountain West titles without a league loss immediately preceding their move to the Big 12.
While there were some close calls — four losses by three points or less last season — the Frogs were 6-12 in Big 12 games their first two seasons in the power conference. They sent a strong message in their third league opener.
“Last year, I don’t think we were clicking as a whole team,” safety Chris Hackett said. “This year, I think we’re more focused as a whole team. Not just defense, not just offense, but as a whole. We got better.”
Sooner than most people expected.