Long road to the top
Coach Patterson, TCU
Rose Bowl hangover?
There’s always a long road before true success. Gary Patterson’s road started in Davis, California. In the 80’s, this sleepy suburb of Sacramento had an innovative football program that won 20 straight conference championships in Division II. Boise State coach Chris Peterson and former Oregon coach Mike Bellotti both spent time at UC Davis. In 1986, Patterson got the job as co-linebackers coach, a position that paid $1,500… at the end of the season. He made ends meet through the generosity of others. It wasn’t glamorous, but Patterson learned about the flex defense that Tom Landry developed with the Dallas Cowboys, the foundation for the record setting defenses Patterson has coached at TCU.
In the late 90’s, Patterson found himself as the defensive coordinator at TCU when head coach Dennis Franchione left for Alabama. His old boss told TCU that Patterson wasn’t ready to be head coach. The school disagreed, and Patterson has turned TCU into an annual contender. Franchione, on the other hand, is now the coach at Texas A&M… oh wait, he resigned after going 19-21 in Big 12 play in 5 years. No, he’s the coach at Texas… oh wait, they would never hire a guy who sold a secret newsletter about this team at Texas A&M. Franchione recently took the head coaching job at Texas State. At least the Bobcats step up to the top subdivision of Division I football next year. Coaches may want to think twice before leaving a good situation with a great defensive coordinator.
Gary Patterson has brought TCU to the pinnacle of college football, winning 99 games over the last ten years and the Rose Bowl over Wisconsin last year. But this year, the Horned Frogs are one of those teams that make early season rankings so hard. They lost senior quarterback Andy Dalton, 4 of 5 starters on the offensive line, and 6 starters on defense. In their season opener, TCU lost 50-48 to a Baylor team they thumped 45-10 last year. Patterson’s secondary, which returns no starters from last year, gave up 6 touchdown passes and 14.3 yards per pass attempt. This past week against Air Force, TCU won 35-19 but the defense gave up 5.8 yards per carry compared to 4.5 last year against Air Force. With these two weak performances from the defense, it’s not clear whether this TCU team will end up 7th or higher in The Power Rank at the end of the season. This week, we highlight other teams whose early season rank might not reflect their true strength.
2. Oregon. The Ducks lost 3 offensive linemen and 6 starters on defense. They make this list largely due to their 69-20 win over Nevada this weekend. Nevada ended last season 11th in The Power Rank, but they might not sustain such a high rank this year. While they ended 2010 with a 15.0 rating, they averaged a -1.6 rating the 5 seasons before that. So Oregon’s win this past weekend might not mean as much by the end of the year.
4. Auburn. The Tigers lost quarterback Cam Newton and only had 6 returning starters overall. Last week, they should have lost to Utah State at home. However, they rebounded this week to beat 19th ranked Mississippi State by 7 at home with a brilliant goal line stand as time expired. But it’s reasonable to question whether Auburn will end the season as high as 4th.
36. Notre Dame. Thank you, fighting Irish, for having two turnovers within twenty yards of Michigan’s endzone. Thank you, Irish, for giving up 28 points in the fourth quarter. The Power Rank made its first prediction in which some common sense about turnovers modified our calculations. While we said Notre Dame would cover the 3 points they were favored by, they lost by 4 when Michigan drove 80 yards in 0:28 for the winning touchdown with 0:02 left in the game. We would make the same call every time. While many expected Notre Dame to content for a major bowl this year, their performance so far this year makes a rise in the rankings questionable.
Rankings through Saturday, September 10.
1. Boise State, 13-1, 23.52
2. Oregon, 12-3, 22.25
3. Alabama, 12-3, 20.73
4. Auburn, 16-0, 20.31
5. LSU, 13-2, 19.91
6. Stanford, 14-1, 19.83
7. TCU, 13-2, 19.73
8. Arkansas, 12-3, 17.12
9. Wisconsin, 13-2, 16.57
10. Oklahoma, 12-2, 15.59
11. Ohio State, 14-1, 15.38
12. Virginia Tech, 15-1, 15.13
13. Oklahoma State, 13-2, 14.75
14. Nebraska, 12-4, 13.60
15. Florida State, 11-3, 13.25
16. South Carolina, 11-5, 12.60
17. Missouri, 10-5, 12.06
18. Texas A&M, 9-4, 11.64
19. Mississippi State, 10-5, 11.09
20. Arizona State, 8-6, 10.67
21. West Virginia, 11-4, 10.33
22. San Diego State, 11-4, 9.33
23. Nevada, 11-3, 9.23
24. North Carolina State, 9-6, 8.74
25. Florida, 10-5, 8.66