TCU-Colorado St. Preview

While maintaining its perfect record, TCU might have revealed a

weakness in its rush defense.

The fifth-ranked Horned Frogs, though, likely won’t have to

worry about that in their Mountain West opener against Colorado

State on Saturday.

TCU (4-0) came away with a 41-24 victory at SMU last week but

gave up 192 yards on the ground after allowing an average of 88 in

its first three games. The Frogs had trouble stopping the Mustangs’

draw plays as converted linebacker Zach Line ran for a career-best

139 yards.

“I’m very happy with the win,” coach Gary Patterson said. “But

I’m disappointed with some of the mistakes.”

TCU managed to rally for its 17th consecutive regular-season

victory as Andy Dalton led three straight scoring drives following

a pair of interceptions. The less-than-dominating win, however,

caused the Frogs to drop one spot in the Top 25.

After connecting on nearly 75 percent of his passes in the first

three games, Dalton was 14 of 26 for a season-low 174 yards,

although he tied a school record with his 49th TD pass.

“It’s very hard to get to (4-0) in this day and time, especially

with the type of non-conference schedule that we played,” said

Patterson, whose team opened the season with a 30-21 victory over

then-No. 24 Oregon State.

Dalton, the active leader among FBS quarterbacks with 33

victories, was 15 of 23 for 211 yards and two touchdowns in a 44-6

rout of Colorado State on Oct. 17. Jeremy Kerley, whose 83-yard

kickoff return set up the go-ahead touchdown last week, brought a

punt back 69 yards for a score in that game.

In his first meeting with Colorado State (1-3) in 2007, Dalton

was 5 of 6 for 60 yards on the game’s opening drive before leaving

with a knee injury in a 24-12 win.

He was also out with an injury in 2008 when TCU held on for a

13-7 victory in its last trip to Fort Collins. Since joining the

Mountain West in 2005, the Frogs are 5-0 against the Rams.

TCU ran for 275 yards in last season’s matchup as 14 Frogs had

at least one carry. Colorado State, which had 70 yards rushing in

that loss, is averaging 59 yards on the ground this year.

The Rams had a season-high 108 rushing yards last week against

Idaho, and freshman Pete Thomas threw for a career-best 386 yards

and three TDs. Colorado State still needed Ben DeLine’s 35-yard

field goal as time expired for a 36-34 win as it ended a 12-game

slide.

“Our football team is very young,” coach Steve Fairchild said.

“This was an emotional week for our football team, but one thing we

keep preaching is that we’re never out of the fight.”

After failing to crack 200 yards in his first two games, Thomas

has topped 300 in each of the past two, but he’ll face the nation’s

ninth-best pass defense at 143.3 yards per game and 12th-ranked

overall unit at 257.3.

TCU, winner of seven straight road games, plays outside its home

state for the first time in its opening eight contests. The Frogs

play three of their final four away from Texas.

They lead the series with Colorado State 6-1.