There is plenty of BCS talk surrounding TCU. One loss will likely end the Horned Frogs’ chances, but they’ve done an excellent job of avoiding letdowns against SMU.
In their last game before Mountain West Conference play, the 11th-ranked Horned Frogs look to beat the Mustangs for the ninth time in 10 meetings Saturday night.
TCU (3-0) easily won its first two games, outscoring opponents by an average of 25.5 points. However, the Horned Frogs had to fight to remain undefeated last Saturday, tightening up on defense in the second half of a 14-10 win at Clemson.
That bumped TCU up four spots in the poll this week. The Horned Frogs probably need to stay perfect to reach the BCS.
Coach Gary Patterson is trying to make sure his team doesn’t have a setback amid the buzz. BYU and Utah, two of TCU’s conference rivals, had their chances halted with losses Sept. 19.
“We’re not worried about the BCS,” linebacker Daryl Washington said. “We’re just trying to focus in on every game one at a time.”
After Saturday’s contest, TCU will visit Air Force for its first conference game. The Horned Frogs might be in danger of a letdown against the Mustangs (2-1), but a lack of effort in this series certainly hasn’t been a problem for them in recent years.
TCU has won eight of the last nine meetings, holding SMU to 7.8 points per game. The Horned Frogs forced three turnovers in a 48-7 win Sept. 20, 2008, in the last matchup.
Owner of the country’s No. 1 defense last year, TCU is coming off its best performance of the season. The Tigers were limited to 3.7 yards per rush while completing 46.0 percent (17 for 37) of their passes.
“The game’s never over,” Washington said. “You got to play four quarters strong.”
TCU was held without a sack for the first time in 27 games, but that didn’t seem to hurt its pass defense. The Horned Frogs have held each of their three opponents under 219 yards passing.
Andy Dalton, meanwhile, has been steady, completing 70.4 percent of his passes for 625 yards and four touchdowns while throwing one interception.
Dalton passed for 226 yards last Saturday, moving into second place on the school career list with 5,326, and also rushed for 86 yards. He’s the Horned Frogs’ second-leading rusher with 170 yards.
The junior is looking forward to conference play, including trips to BYU and a home game with Utah, which ended TCU’s Mountain West title hopes in 2008. Dalton, however, doesn’t seem to be overlooking SMU.
“You can’t really think about it,” he said. “Yeah, there’s a great opportunity there. But if you don’t win the next week, none of that matters.”
Bo Levi Mitchell had a career game last Saturday for the Mustangs, but SMU lost 30-27 in overtime to Washington State.
Mitchell completed 40 of 57 passes for 424 yards and two touchdowns, but he was also picked off four times. The Mustangs had the first drive of OT, and Mitchell was intercepted after throwing deep into the end zone on the first play.
Mitchell has already thrown eight INTs while passing for 979 yards and six TDs.
He has an outstanding target in Emmanuel Sanders, who caught a Conference USA-record 18 passes for 178 yards against the Cougars. Sanders became SMU’s all-time leader in receiving yards with 2,844, topping Emanuel Tolbert’s 2,784 from 1976-79.
Sanders has helped the Mustangs average 31.0 points per game. SMU, though, is giving up 28.6 a contest and has yielded at least 21 in 30 straight.