By Carlos Mendez

Tribune News Service

Is Gary Patterson going to coach as long as Bill Snyder has?

"I don't know," the TCU coach said. "Probably not."

But Patterson has done a lot of other things just like the Kansas State coach.

Patterson, 54, and Snyder, 75, coach much the same way -- with an eye toward defense, being careful with the ball and staying physical.

"He's won in places nobody could ever do it before, probably," Patterson said. "He's won big ballgames. He's done about everything. He is one of those guys that thinks about it 24 hours a day. That's what he loves to do."

Patterson could be describing himself.

The shared philosophy has gotten his and Snyder's teams a long way this year. TCU is No. 6, and Kansas State is No. 7 in the College Football Playoff rankings as they prepare to meet Saturday night at Amon G. Carter Stadium. The winner stays in line for the Big 12 championship and likely becomes the league's best bet at the national semifinals.

Both teams look equipped to do it.

"I like Coach Snyder's team," Patterson said. "I've done things through the years like what he's been able to do. You always take things from people that initially do things with less."

TCU leads the nation in takeaways, is second in scoring and is first in the Big 12 in third-down defense and tackles for loss.

Kansas State is ninth in the country in rushing defense and leads the conference in third-down conversions, fewest penalties and fewest fumbles.

The Horned Frogs have become more explosive on offense this year thanks to a change in style.

But Patterson can't help but admire the Snyder way on offense. Which was his way until this year.

"They don't throw the ball very much," Patterson said.

"But you got to find a way to win. So whether we do that, or we have to stop them, you've got to find a way. This will be a different team than they've played the last two years because of our mind-set. But both of us can play ground-and-pound and then play-action people and play good defense."

Snyder, in his 23rd season at Kansas State, complimented Patterson's transition to a spread offense to take advantage of quarterback Trevone Boykin's skills, even though the former offense went hand-in-hand with TCU's approach to defense.

"It fits their quarterback extremely well," Snyder said. "He's been exceptional. He struggled a little bit last week. Prior to that, he had somewhere in the vicinity of 850, 900 yards in the previous two games.

The system fits Boykin. He's a very gifted athlete -- he can run the ball, run the option with it -- and is throwing the ball extremely well. He can throw downfield well; it's not just short stuff.

"I think that's a major element, and a great improvement that they've made, in the progress and success that they've had this year."

Patterson is in his 14th year at TCU, with a .788 winning percentage. Snyder is in his 23rd year at Kansas State, with a .668 winning percentage.

This is only the third time the coaches have met. Snyder's Wildcats have won both meetings in Big 12 play so far between the teams.

Saturday's game is being called the best coach vs. coach matchup in the country.

"Well, that's a nice compliment," Patterson said. "But all I care about is winning it. I'm sure he feels the same way."

Why not? They do most things the same way.