NORMAN, Okla. -- TCU coach Gary Patterson and Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield have made nice this week.
Patterson spoke glowingly about his respect for Mayfield's game and the fire with which he plays it.
Mayfield talked about his admiration for the high level that has come to be expected from Patterson's defense every season.
Saturday, when the No. 5 Sooners and No. 6 Horned Frogs meet in Norman, Mayfield and Patterson will be at the center.
Mayfield has turned from a Heisman Trophy contender into the clear favorite after throwing for 598 yards and five touchdowns a week ago in a win over Oklahoma State.
"With Baker, I've always liked and admired the way he competes," Patterson told reporters. "Baker's really done a great job, been really mature in the way he's handled things If you love competitors, you've got to admire what he's been able to do."
Patterson once again has his team playing some of the best defense in the country in a league known for just about anything but defense.
"Obviously he's very talented and very good at what he does," Mayfield said of Patterson.
"There's no doubt that he's one of the best defensive minds in the game. There's a reason he's had so much success and it's not like they've just been an average program. We've won a lot of Big 12 titles but Coach Patterson has had that defense ready to play us every year. They're a very successful program and he always has guys that are ready to play for him and do their job at a high level."
That was a change from two years ago, when Mayfield -- as his Sooners were preparing to play in the College Football Playoff -- spoke of his displeasure about the way his recruitment went down as it related to Patterson and the Horned Frogs.
Patterson, as his team prepared for a bowl of its own, fired back with harsh words, not only for Mayfield but for Mayfield's father, whom Patterson called "arrogant."
That back-and-forth happened after Patterson accused Mayfield of stealing signals from his team during the 2014 game against the Sooners. That was the season Mayfield had to sit out after his transfer from Texas Tech, and TCU was breaking in co-offensive coordinator Sonny Cumbie after Cumbie had moved from Tech as well.
But all of that is long in the rearview mirror with Saturday's game having a potential CFP berth on the line.
"Obviously one of the best football teams in the country right now," Sooners coach Lincoln Riley said of the Horned Frogs. "I think, in my opinion, probably the most complete team we've played to this point. They're really tremendous."
TCU's clear strength is its defense.
The Horned Frogs are first nationally in rushing defense, allowing less than 70 yards per game. While Mayfield is the engine that keeps the offense going, the Sooners' ability to run the ball effectively has been important as well, especially recently.
Oklahoma has run for 200 or more yards just three times this season, but two of those have come in the last three games. Rodney Anderson has rushed for 439 yards over the last three games.
But the Horned Frogs are allowing just 6.8 points and 188.0 yards over the last four games.
"They're unique," Riley said. "You don't play a lot of people like them. I don't know if I'd compare it to playing the wishbone, (but) you just don't see something like them every week, so that makes it a little more difficult to prepare for."
After a rough year last season, going 6-7 for their first losing season since 2013, the Horned Frogs are back as a factor both in the Big 12 and nationally.
But Patterson is trying to keep his team focused on the road ahead rather than where they've come.
"We've got a lot of work to do," Patterson said.
It might not be the first time the Horned Frogs and Sooners meet this season, either.
The winner will be alone in first place in the Big 12 with two games to play. The loser will still be in solid position to make the Big 12 title game.
"We'll worry about it when we get there," Riley said. "It'll take all we got to play well and give ourselves a chance to beat these guys. So we'll throw everything we can at 'em. I'm sure Coach Patterson would probably tell you the same thing."