TCU insists focus is on UNLV
TCU coach Gary Patterson isn't worried about it. Neither are seniors Evan Frosch and Bart Johnson.
After all, the fourth-ranked Horned Frogs have seen too many teams get knocked out of the BCS picture after overlooking an opponent in what becomes a classic trap game. Therefore, there hasn't been any talk about the upcoming road game against eighth-ranked Utah.
Well, that's at least what they said during the weekly media session before TCU (8-0, 4-0 Mountain West) travels to UNLV (1-6, 1-2) for a Saturday night game.
''I haven't heard Utah come up,'' Patterson said. ''If I'm talking to my coaches, I'm talking to them about a UNLV team that scored 21 points on Wisconsin and 26 points on Nevada. They play a lot better at home than they do on the road. They want to win. They can win the rest of their games and become bowl eligible.''
Added Frosch, a tight end: ''Watching college football, you see teams with big games the next week end up losing. We know what can happen. And, the thing is, UNLV is a good team. We've got to be ready to play them. Everybody sees Utah next week, but we're all focused on UNLV right now.''
Still, TCU goes into the game as a five-touchdown favorite. The Frogs are 7-1 all-time against the Rebels, have outscored them 119-24 the last three meetings and are the highest-ranked opponent UNLV has ever faced at Sam Boyd Stadium.
The Rebels, however, do present some threats on the outside, especially with standout junior receiver Phillip Payne. He is back in the starting lineup after missing the last two games because of critical remarks he made on his Twitter feed following UNLV's 49-10 loss to West Virginia on Oct. 9.
''UNLV has always had good skill positions,'' Patterson said. ''They'll be right up there as far as skill level with Baylor or Oregon State. They've got good wide receivers, and they can beat you.''
TCU hasn't been beaten on defense much this season, though. The Frogs go into the game with the second-ranked defense, allowing only one touchdown to conference foes. They also have the 11th ranked total offense.
And, in last week's 38-7 victory over Air Force, Patterson thought they got their legs back, rushing for a season-high 377 yards on 51 carries. After a grueling summer of two-a-days in 100-plus degree heat, it has taken some time for the Frogs to fully recover.
''It's interesting that our legs are finally coming back,'' Patterson said. ''It was so hot during two-a-days and the way we practice, I really don't think we had our legs most of the season. You could really tell in the meetings and last week how our kids ran around, and the enthusiasm they had.''
Said Johnson, a wide receiver: ''It sounds crazy nine games into it, but it does feel like we're getting our legs back. This cool front with temperatures in the high-70s has helped us a little bit.''
And, to help eliminate any of the possible distractions in Las Vegas, Patterson will have the team go through their regular Friday routine in Fort Worth before departing for Las Vegas at night.
As far as the late-night game, Patterson said: ''Actually, it's better for the kids. They're going out at that time anyway.''