SE Louisiana-TCU Preview
After a high-profile matchup in the season opener didn't go TCU's way, one could forgive coach Gary Patterson for being somewhat relieved to have a heavy underdog coming to town next.
Given the success of FCS teams against FBS opponents last week, however, the 24th-ranked Horned Frogs probably shouldn't take anything for granted.
The Horned Frogs look to avoid another FBS letdown against an FCS opponent Saturday when they meet Southeastern Louisiana for the first time.
TCU fell short against then-No. 12 LSU last Saturday, totaling 259 yards in the 37-27 defeat. Despite their offensive difficulties, the Horned Frogs managed to pull within three points with 7:35 remaining, but the Tigers answered shortly afterward and held on for the win.
"We were the team getting stronger in the fourth quarter," Patterson said.
While TCU probably expected to have an easier time with Southeastern Louisiana than LSU when the season began, it doesn't want to overlook the Lions after unprecedented FCS success in the season's opening week.
A record seven FCS teams defeated FBS opponents, including Eastern Washington's 49-46 win over then-No. 25 Oregon State the third FCS upset of a ranked FBS team and the first since James Madison beat then-No. 13 Virginia Tech in 2010.
"As a head coach when you've played a really big ballgame perception wise, you always worry about the emotions of your football team," Patterson said. "... We just need to go take care of our business."
Patterson and the TCU program also have personal experience with falling to underdog opponents. In 2001, the Horned Frogs lost 27-24 at home to Northwestern State like Southeastern Louisiana a member of the Southland Conference in a 6-6 season sandwiched between two 10-2 campaigns.
"I always talk about the Northwestern State game," Patterson said. "It is not what anyone else thinks. It's about us having confidence and a good thought process going into the game."
Patterson's team also lost its opener in 2011, falling 50-48 to a Baylor team led by eventual Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III. The Horned Frogs bounced back and finished that season 11-2 after a Poinsettia Bowl win over Louisiana Tech. TCU hasn't opened a season with consecutive defeats since 1999.
Southeastern Louisiana looked sharp in its opener Aug. 29, rolling 45-7 over Southeast Missouri State to start a season with a win for the first time since 2009.
In his debut after transferring from Oregon, junior quarterback Bryan Bennett was 9 for 15 for 169 yards but more impressive on the ground, running 12 times for a career-high 106 yards and three touchdowns.
Three other Southeastern Louisiana players also ran for scores as the Lions amassed 309 yards on the ground, their highest total since football was reinstated at the school in 2003 after an 18-year absence.
The Lions are 0-17 against FBS teams since the return of the program in 2003. They lost their only meeting with a ranked FBS opponent during that stretch 52-6 at then-No. 5 Mississippi in 2009.
Still, Patterson is determined to have the Horned Frogs prepared for a challenge from the Lions.
"They do everything offensively, including every personnel group under the sun," he said. "We have to prepare for them while not knowing which grouping they're going to use this week. I broke them down, five games from last year and their opener.
"You have a quarterback who has been at Oregon and played in ballgames at a high level. He goes along with three really good tailbacks and an offensive line that has most of their starters back. They have 18 starters returning. This won't be anything new for them."