The Texas Christian Horned Frogs are playing for many things Saturday night, when they meet LSU in Arlington's JerryWorld.
Redemption of quarterback Casey Pachall, who is back from rehab after being suspended from school following drug and alcohol incidents in 2012.
Validation of their new status as one of college football's haves, after decades as a have-not.
And conference pride.
The Big 12 gave TCU a seat at the big table, and if the Frogs could pull the upset and temporarily stem the SEC tidal wave of superiority, the Big 12 would consider the favor repaid in full.
The SEC's domination of college football – seven straight national championships – has become a hot-button issue. Bob Stoops famously addressed it last spring, even though his Sooners were throttled by Texas A&M 41-13 in the Cotton Bowl.
The SEC's particular stranglehold on the Big 12, primarily SEC victories in nine of the last 10 Cotton Bowls and victories in the last three SEC/Big 12 national title games, has focused a spotlight on any Big 12/SEC matchup. There are two Saturday – LSU-TCU and OSU-Mississippi State in Houston.
“The only thing that should be talked about is what happens on Saturday –- and that will be the only way we'll ever change all that,” TCU coach Gary Patterson said. “The only way we'll ever catch the SEC -– if that is true that we're behind them –- is you've got to play them.”