Tall order for Cougs: Best team in Texas

FORT WORTH, Texas ? The Friday drive through the Lone Star State

revealed a lot of city signs, places like Kingwood, Aldine, Katy in

Houston; Denton, Euless and Southlake Carroll near Dallas ? places

where

football traditions have become

lore. I had lunch this week in Crosby, where former Ute quarterback

Brian Johnson cut his teeth playing

football, and there is a lot of

well-deserved pride in that town for the current Utah quarterbacks

coach.

In this state,

football is a religion, a way of

life and a topic folks write books about along with movies and TV

shows. It is against state high school bylaws for any school

football team to televise a Friday

night game in Texas because the community and the sport will not

tolerate the distraction to the event that the culture here

believes must be played before live eyeballs. There are high school

stadiums and press boxes here that are better than

college facilities across America.

I’ve seen South Lake Carroll Dragon Stadium and Pennington Field

where Euless Trinity plays home games. These are mammoth prep

facilities, monuments to the love of

football. And in this state, the

best

college

football team isn’t Texas; it isn’t

Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Baylor of the Big 12 or SMU or Houston.

It is No. 4-ranked TCU, the only major school in this great state

that is undefeated and ranked in the Top 25. The Horned Frogs, as

meager of an imprint their

football team makes in the

Metroplex area with TV and newspapers, has taken over as the

premier

college

football power. A non-AQ team from

a non-BCS league has the best program in Texas, according to

record, ranking and perception by voters? Heck, yes. Texas A&M

is 3-2 with wins over Stephen F. Austin, Louisiana Tech and FIU.

Texas Tech is 3-2 with wins over SMU, New Mexico and Baylor. The

legendary Texas Longhorns, who made so many headlines this summer

when

college expansion talk hit, are 3-2

with wins over Rice, Wyoming and Texas Tech. Baylor is 4-2 with

wins over Sam Houston State, Buffalo, Rice and a crashing Kansas.

SMU sports a 4-2 record with wins over UAB, Washington State, Rice

and Tulsa, while Houston, which lost its No. 1 and No. 2

quarterbacks last month, is 3-2 with wins over Texas State, UTEP

and Tulane. On Friday, in the Dallas Love Field Airport working on

this column while waiting for BYU beat writer Jeff Call to land, I

made conversation with Reed Kirksey, a freshman at Baylor from San

Antonio who flew in for a Texas Rangers game. Kirksey has no

problem with TCU being the top team in Texas. “I think they should

be in the Big 12, to tell you the truth,” he said. “They are the

best

football team in the state, no

question.” Always like the truth. “And there are a lot of Texans

that cannot stand Texas and their fans,” said Kirksey. “It’s weird

to even drive through Austin. I hate them.” TCU. Patterson. No. 1.

This is the place BYU visits today, trying to build some momentum

after breaking a four-game losing streak with a 24-21 win over San

Diego State last week. To say today’s game will be “a challenge”

merely scratches the surface of the Cougar task at hand. This Gary

Patterson

football program has showed few

blemishes in the way they’ve dispatched the Cougars the past two

meetings, both solid blowouts. Now here comes the Cougars nursing a

young offense, a banged-up defense and a freshman quarterback in

Jake Heaps, who was parking his car at a Washington high school

this time last fall. You have to admire his bravery. Welcome to

Texas. “This is an exciting week,” said Heaps. “It’s always fun

when you get to go up against one of the top teams in the nation.

It’s a great team and coach Patterson coaches them up really well.

It’s been a lot of fun preparing for them and it’s going to be a

good challenge for us.” No kidding. This week’s predictions:

COLORADO STATE 21, UNLV 17: The Rams will take advantage of the

Rebels struggling on their home field. They’d better take advantage

of it while it is harvest time. AIR FORCE 42, SAN DIEGO STATE 14:

If the Aztecs couldn’t keep BYU’s offense off the field last

Saturday, then the Falcons might build a nest and lay out some

lounge furniture. Let’s hope there are no replay reviews to

question. UTAH 48, WYOMING 14: Who knows when the Utes will make

this trip to Laramie again? But while they’re there this Saturday,

they should enjoy the barbecue. Pass the sauce. Somebody advise

Kyle Whittingham where to throw the rib bones. TCU 34, BYU 0: The

Cougar offense was loaded in 2008 and 2009 and still lost to TCU,

scoring just two TDs in eight quarters. Boise State only scored one

offensive TD the last two times it faced TCU in bowl games. Will

this be a shutout? It makes sense, even though BYU is an improved

football team. The Cougars have

labored to score two touchdowns in every game this season. Last

week: 5-1; overall season record: 37-7 (.840). e-mail:

dharmon@desnews.com Cougars on the air BYU (2-4, 1-1) at No. 4 TCU

(6-0, 2-0) Saturday, 2 p.m. MT Amon G. Carter Stadium, Fort Worth,

Texas TV: Versus Radio: 1160 AM, 102.7 FM