Frogs take big leap into national title picture

For most of the season, Boise State was at the forefront of the

debate regarding BCS non-automatic qualifiers and their chances of

crashing the national title game.

Now TCU is in the spotlight, something even

”one-game-at-a-time” coach Gary Patterson acknowledged Saturday

after beating then-No. 6 Utah 47-7 on the road.

”The bottom line is that they put themselves on a different

plateau,” Patterson said. ”They have to finish the season and we

can only control what we can control. But I thought they made a

statement. Everybody else in the country, when they go into someone

else’s house in a big game, they usually end up getting beat.”

It happened to then-No. 1 Alabama at South Carolina on Oct. 9.

Then to newly crowned No. 1 Ohio State at Wisconsin the following

week. And Oklahoma, the first BSC No. 1, fell two weeks ago at

Missouri.

TCU’s win over Utah, which was No. 5 in the BCS, bumped the

Frogs to 10-0 for the second straight year and third time in the

last eight seasons. TCU also has a 23-game regular-season winning

streak is 36-3 in its last 39 games and, with 558 yards of offense,

surpassed the 500-yard mark for the third straight game and fifth

time this season.

Plus, in thoroughly dismantling Utah before a sellout,

standing-room-only crowd, TCU more than made amends for a 13-10

loss in that same stadium two years earlier.

”No coach would have predicted this,” Patterson said of the

40-point win.

Will it ultimately be enough to vault the Frogs into the BCS

title game?

”I can’t call the BCS flawed until I see how it ends up,”

Patterson said. ”If we finish 12-0, we’ll feel we did all we could

do.”

The problem is, TCU needs help – just like Boise State. Oregon

appears unlikely to lose with remaining games against Cal, fading

Arizona and Oregon State. But if Auburn looses to Alabama in

Tuscaloosa on Nov. 26, the Frogs could leapfrog into the No. 2

spot.

With such a complete team – a record-setting quarterback in Andy

Dalton, the nation’s top-ranked defense and spectacular special

teams – TCU showed it can play with anyone.

Utah coach Kyle Whittingham sure is a believer.

”TCU thoroughly outplayed us and it was not even close,” he

said. ”I still believe we are a good team, but it was painfully

obvious today that we are not as good as TCU.”

The Frogs host San Diego State on Saturday in the final game at

Amon G. Carter Stadium before a major renovation. Then, after an

off week, TCU finishes at New Mexico on Nov. 27.

”We got another game to play,” Patterson said, noting the

upcoming distractions of senior day and renovations to the

80-year-old stadium. But TCU got past the biggest hurdle on its

schedule, winning at a place it had never won before.

”Everybody understands what kind of a team Utah has, and for us

to do it the way we did … says a lot about what we’ve done as a

program and what we do,” Patterson said. ”We wanted to be peaking

at the end of the year and I think we have an opportunity to do

that.”