Baylor easily could feel sorry for itself after having its national championship hopes squashed with last week's blowout loss, but its chances to play in the school's first BCS bowl still are very much alive.
For TCU, Saturday's meeting in Fort Worth represents the closest thing it'll have to a bowl game to cap its disappointing season.
The ninth-ranked Bears (9-1, 6-1 Big 12) lead the nation with 56.8 points and 661.6 yards per game, but they were held to a season-worst 453 yards -- including 94 on the ground -- while committing three turnovers in last week's 49-17 loss at then-No. 11 Oklahoma State.
Baylor entered that contest ranked fourth in the BCS standings, and the defeat dropped it out of the discussion for the national championship game.
"It certainly didn't go the way we expected or wanted, but it is what it is so we've got to do what we've got to do and that's move on and beat TCU this Saturday in Fort Worth," coach Art Briles said.
The Bears won their previous nine contests by an average of 43.7 points but never led against the Cowboys. Freshman Shock Linwood averaged 158.3 rushing yards over his last three before being held to 29 on 14 carries last week.
"That's something that's pretty much uncharacteristic of what we've done this year," Briles said. "We've been pretty fortunate with the things we've created and had things go our way on both sides of the ball. It was a situation where our backs were against the wall from the get go. We had a good opportunity to change it and we just didn't. We'll learn from it."
Though the disappointment lingers, Baylor still has a chance to play in the school's first BCS bowl. It hasn't played in any of the current major bowl games since beating Tennessee in the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 1, 1957.
"We still have a lot to play for," said quarterback Bryce Petty, who has thrown 26 touchdowns and only one interception. "We've got to go out and win these next two games. There are still goals and ambitions that we set prior to the season that we can still accomplish.
"Does (last week's) game kind of change our postseason chances? Maybe a little bit, but it definitely doesn't take away anything from the season that we've had and that we're going to have."
Losses have been more common for TCU (4-7, 2-6), which will finish under .500 for the first time since 2004. It is coming off a bye week after allowing a field goal with three seconds remaining in a 33-31 loss to Kansas State on Nov. 16.
Coach Gary Patterson's team has dropped four of five and committed multiple turnovers for the sixth straight game. The Horned Frogs' only victory during their slump is a 21-17 victory over two-win Iowa State.
"There is a lot of fight at TCU, we just got to find a way to win them instead of lose them," Patterson said.
Casey Pachall finished 23 of 33 for 248 yards, one touchdown and one interception. It will mark the final game of his college career that included a DWI arrest Oct. 4, 2012, and his subsequent entrance into a rehab facility for substance abuse treatment.
"We are disappointed and very upset that we are not going to a bowl game, but we are going to play as if we are going to a bowl game," Pachall said. "Our mindset is not going to change. We are going to show up as if we were going to a big bowl with the right mindset. That is how we have to approach everything."
Baylor linebacker Eddie Lackey said the team needs to be ready for a TCU offense that features Trevone Boykin, who played quarterback in Pachall's absence and has contributed in the passing, running and receiving games in recent contests.
"We know that they both like to pass the ball. Trevone Boykin can run the ball a little bit better. We have to be ready for both at all times," Lackey said. "We have to also be ready for them to throw in a couple of trick plays in there. Whatever it may be, we just have to be ready at all times."
Boykin threw for 261 yards and four touchdowns in TCU's 49-21 win at Baylor on Oct. 13, 2012.
Top 25 Overview
The Bears hope to rebound after being embarrassed at Oklahoma State last weekend. Yet Baylor still has plenty to play for -- including a co-Big 12 championship -- if it wins its final two games. That goal starts Saturday against a Horned Frogs squad looking to salvage its bowl-less season by upsetting the Bears. TCU has the secondary to challenge BU's offense, much like OSU did, so think twice before automatically slotting this game into Baylor's win column.