TCU gets a chance to make people remember Frogs

BY foxsports • November 9, 2011

They were BCS busters each of the last two years with a pair of undefeated regular seasons. They won the Rose Bowl and were No. 2 in the final AP poll only 10 months ago.

Remember the Horned Frogs?

TCU has been somewhat forgotten since losing to Robert Griffin III and Baylor in a nationally televised Friday night opener this season for all to see, even though the Frogs have since been winning at a record pace in the Mountain West Conference.

Until this week, there hadn't been any more big games to give TCU (7-2, 4-0 MWC) a chance to prove itself again.

The Frogs play Saturday at fifth-ranked Boise State (8-0, 3-0) in what will be the only meeting as conference rivals for the two BCS busters since TCU is moving to the Big 12 instead of the Big East next season.

''You can't have a perfect season every single year. ... Yeah, it's going to be a statement game for both teams, us and Boise State,'' left guard Kyle Dooley said. ''They're trying to get to where they want to get back in that national spotlight, and obviously we want to also.''

Even after winning a record 21 MWC games in a row and matching another mark by winning 11 consecutive road games in the league, TCU is a two-touchdown underdog against Boise State.

''Look at oddsmakers and everybody else, we don't stand much of a chance,'' coach Gary Patterson said. ''We haven't been in that situation very many times. ... That means we have no pressure.''

Before switching leagues for the fourth time since being left out of the original Big 12 that started play in 1996, the Frogs are going for the third consecutive Mountain West title. They also won or shared titles in the WAC and Conference USA.

Since the loss at Baylor, there have been lopsided victories against New Mexico (69-0), Portland State and Louisiana-Monroe, with solid wins over Air Force, BYU and then last week at Wyoming. Yet, none of those were attention-grabbing games and an overtime loss at home to SMU certainly didn't help.

Boise State is more similar to the kind of games TCU will start playing regularly in the Big 12, which boasts four Top 25 teams and previously had two others.

''We're not going to shy away from it. You just want to play against people that aren't as good as what maybe you are sometimes talent-wise, that gets pretty boring,'' Patterson said. ''It's the same way as going into the Big 12. Did my job get harder? Yes. But guess what, why you would want anything different?''

TCU has a pyramid of season goals, with each shaded purple once it is accomplished. There are clear spots on it, but the pyramid's top goals of winning a national championship and going to a BCS game haven't changed.

The Frogs are finding out how hard it is hard to keep climbing toward that peak each year, and the challenge will only increase in the Big 12.

''Our standards have been the same,'' Patterson said. ''One of the driving points is now changing conferences, more goals, tougher situations. That gives you more energy because you're trying to get there and trying to do that. Already I've heard out there you're going to lose more games now that you're in the Big 12, that (wins) are not going to come as fast. That's all you needed to tell me.''

At least the Horned Frogs will go into the Big 12 with some experience they didn't have this year.

TCU began this year without Andy Dalton and seven other offensive starters. After several key losses on defense, the Frogs are giving up 349 yards a game this season after leading the nation in total defense the last three years.

Dalton, who passed Sammy Baugh as the winningest quarterback in TCU history by winning 42 games in four seasons, is now the rookie starting quarterback for the AFC North co-leading Cincinnati Bengals.

Sophomore Casey Pachall, the sophomore who went through three springs with TCU before getting his chance as the starter, has completed 161 of 235 passes (69 percent) for 1,940 yards with 19 touchdowns and five interceptions. He is on pace to break many of Dalton's single-season marks.

The top three running backs are all underclassmen with at least 500 yards this season. Top pass catcher Josh Boyce (46 catches, 704 yards and six TDs) is a sophomore and the Frogs are loaded with talented freshmen receivers.

''It will probably be another year to where you feel like you have a really older football team to compete. ... But I'll feel probably a little bit better because I'll know a little bit more about our quarterback going in,'' Patterson said. ''It makes a difference when you're going through all your lumps right now and you're still able to find a way to win.''

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