Dallas Colleges: Boise State Broncos

Boise State tops TCU on last-second free throws

February, 19, 2012
BOISE, Idaho -- Anthony Drmic hit two free throws with nine-tenths of a second left to lift Boise State to a 65-64 victory over Texas Christian on Saturday.

TCU's Craig Williams had 21 points and 10 rebounds but missed the front end of a 1-and-1 situation with six seconds left to leave the door open for Boise State (13-12, 3-7 Mountain West) to win its third consecutive game.

Derrick Marks scored 13 points and Kenny Buckner added 12 for the Broncos.

Amric Fields added 13 points for TCU (15-11, 5-5), which has lost seven consecutive road games.

Hank Thorns hit two free throws with 31.7 seconds left to give TCU a 64-62 lead. Drmic had a chance to tie the game with 8.1 seconds left but hit just one of two free throws before redeeming himself on the final possession. He finished with 10 points.

Williams made a career-high five 3-pointers for TCU.

Bowl debate: Big 12 vs. Pac-12

December, 19, 2011
The Pac-10 and Big 12 nearly got married last year, but only Colorado ended up eloping with the now-Pac-12.

You know: The conference that can count!

But the Pac-12, which has, yes, 12 teams, and the Big 12, which has 10 teams (though it's often hard to keep up with which ones), play each other in three bowl games this holiday season.

Joy to the world.

So it seemed like a good time for the Pac-12 and Big 12 bloggers -- Ted Miller and David Ubben -- to say howdy and discuss all the coming fun.

Ted Miller: Ah, David, the bowl season. Pure bliss. Unless you’re the Pac-12, which is expected to get a whipping from your conference over the holidays. We have three Pac-12-Big 12 bowl games with the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl between Stanford and Oklahoma State, the Valero Alamo with Baylor and Washington, and the Bridgepoint Education Holiday matching California and Texas. And the Big 12 is favored in all three!

Poor ole West Coast teams. What are we to do? It’s almost like the Big 12 is the SEC or something. Speaking of which, how are things with your Cowboys? Are they over not getting a shot at LSU for the national title? Are they excited about getting a shot at Andrew Luck and Stanford? We might as well start with that outstanding matchup in Glendale.

David Ubben: You know, I was actually a little surprised. I stuck around Stillwater for the BCS bowl selection show announcement, and the players took the news pretty well. They found out an hour before, but there wasn't a ton of down-in-the-dumpiness from the Pokes. When you've never been to this point before, it's a bit difficult to develop a sense of entitlement. If Oklahoma had OSU's record and was passed over by Alabama and sent to the Fiesta Bowl for the 17th time in the past six years, you might have had a different reaction.

But Oklahoma State's first trip to the BCS and first Big 12 title aren't being overlooked. These players are looking forward to this game. There's no doubt about that.

I know the Big 12 seems like the SEC, but I have a confession, Ted. I wasn't supposed to tell anybody, but I can't hold it in anymore. When the Big 12 began back in 1996 ... wow, I'm really going to do this ... then-SEC commissioner Roy Kramer graciously allowed the league to keep two of his teams. The league made a similar arrangement with the Big Eight a century ago, and the Southwest Conference around the same time. Missouri and Texas A&M are really wolves in sheep's clothing: SEC teams just pretending to be in other leagues. So, that might explain the Big 12's recent dominance.

These should all be fun games, though. I ranked two of the matchups among the top three in my bowl rankings.

As for the big one, they say you learn more by losing than by winning. Stanford got its first BCS win. How do you think that experience plays into this year's game? I hate to ruin the surprise, but Oklahoma State's a bit better than the Virginia Tech team Stanford beat last season. OSU's loss to Iowa State this season is bad, but it's nothing like the Hokies' loss to James Madison last season.

[+] EnlargeAndrew Luck
AP Photo/Gerry BroomeQuarterback Andrew Luck leads Stanford into its second consecutive BCS bowl, this season against Oklahoma State in the Fiesta Bowl.
Ted Miller: Not only is Oklahoma State better than Virginia Tech, it's still questionable whether this Stanford team is better than last year's. Since we're going all crazy and whispering about the SEC, there was a feeling out West that by the end of the 2010 season the Cardinal might not only be the best team in the Pac-12 but also in the nation. They were big and physical and quarterback Luck actually had a solid receiving corps with which to work. After a loss to Oregon in the fifth game, they didn't lose again until playing, er, Oregon in this year's 10th game. If we could go back in time and have the Cardinal play Auburn, I think Stanford would have won the national title.

But that's 2010. The difference this year is the season-ending knee injury to middle linebacker Shayne Skov, who was an All-American candidate, a slight step back on the offensive line and a lack of top-flight receivers. But if Oklahoma State fans are looking for something to worry about it is this: Stanford's running game.

The Pokes are bad against the run, and they haven't faced a team that is as physical and creative in the running game as Stanford. As much as folks talk about Luck's passing, it's his run checks that often ruin a defense's evening.

The Fiesta Bowl matchup looks like a great one, perhaps the best of the bowl season. But I’m excited to see Mr. Excitement Robert Griffin III in the Alamo Bowl against Washington. Of course, I’m not sure that the Huskies, their fans and embattled Huskies defensive coordinator Nick Holt are as thrilled. First, tell us about what Washington should be most worried about with Griffin. Then tell us about Baylor in general. Such as: Can the Bears stop anyone?

David Ubben: Nope. Not really.

Oklahoma State's defense unfairly gets a bad rap. Baylor's bad rap is earned. This is the same team that won five consecutive games late in the season -- but became the first team ever to win four consecutive in a single season while giving up 30 points in each.

[+] EnlargeRobert Griffin III
Jerome Miron/US PresswireBaylor's Robert Griffin III will try to make it three straight bowl victories by Heisman Trophy winners.
Which, if you ask me, says plenty about both the defense and the power of RG3. They've got a lot of athletes on the defense, but when four of your top five tacklers are defensive backs, well, you need a guy like RG3 to go 9-3.

The man is a nightmare. Top to bottom, he's the most accurate passer in a quarterback-driven league. Then, you add in his athleticism, which he doesn't even really need to be extremely productive. It sets him apart, though, and forces defenses to account for it, and it buys him time in the pocket. How many guys break a 20-plus yard run before hitting a receiver for a game-winning 39-yard score to beat a team like Oklahoma for the first time?

How do you think Washington will try to slow him down? What has to happen for them to have some success?

Ted Miller: This game matches the 99th (Washington) and 109th (Baylor) scoring defenses. It has a 78-point over-under, the biggest of any bowl game. The offenses are going to score plenty, at least that's the conventional wisdom.

How does Washington stop RGIII? His name is Chris Polk. He's a running back. Baylor gives up 199 yards rushing per game. Polk right, left and up the middle is a good way to contain Griffin. The Huskies' best hope is to reduce Griffin's touches with ball control. It also needs to convert touchdowns, not field goals, in the redzone. The Huskies are pretty good at that, scoring 36 TDs in 45 visits to the red zone.

The Huskies also have a pretty good quarterback in Keith Price, who set a school record with 29 touchdown passes this year. He and a solid crew of receivers have prevented teams from ganging up against Polk. But Polk is the guy who burns the clock.

Should be a fun game. As should, by the way, the Holiday Bowl. David, Cal fans are still mad at Texas coach Mack Brown and his politicking the Longhorns into the Rose Bowl in 2004. Every team wants to win its bowl game, but the Old Blues really want to beat Brown.

Of course, neither team is what it was in 2004. Cal has an excuse. It's not a college football superpower. Sure you've been asked this before, but give me the CliffsNotes version of why the Longhorns have fallen so hard since playing for the national title in 2009.

David Ubben: Cal fans are still mad? Really? I'd suggest they get over themselves. What's anybody on that Cal team ever done anyway? It's not like the best player in the NFL missed out on a chance to play in the Rose Bowl. Now, if that were the case, we might have a problem. But honestly, I don't think Tim Tebow cares all that much about the Rose Bowl.

As for Texas' struggles?

The easy answer is quarterback play. Texas relied on Colt McCoy and Jordan Shipley more than anyone realized. When they were gone, Texas couldn't run the ball, and quarterback Garrett Gilbert never made it happen. Two seasons later, the Longhorns still don't have a quarterback.

The other big answer last season was turnover margin. Gilbert threw 17 interceptions and the Longhorns were minus-12 in turnovers, which ranked 115th nationally.

They were still only 90th this year, and without solid quarterback play in a Big 12 dominated by passers, they scored five, 13 and 17 points in three of their five losses. Texas keeps people from moving the ball and runs the ball better this year, but without a solid passing game and a defense that changes games, it's tough to rack up wins in the Big 12.

It's been awhile since Cal was in the mix for the BCS, even as USC has fallen. Oregon answered the call and rose, but what has prevented Cal from winning the Pac-10 and Super Pac-10 since the Trojans' swoon?

Ted Miller: You mention quarterback play. Cal fans ... any thoughts? You mention Aaron Rodgers. Cal fans? Oh, well, that's not very nice during this festive time of the year.

Cal has become a solid defensive team, but it's lost its offensive mojo, and that can be traced to a drop in quarterback play since Rodgers departed. The latest Bears quarterback, Zach Maynard, started fairly well, stumbled, but then seemed to catch on late in the season. It's reasonable to believe the team that gets better quarterback play -- mistake-free quarterback play -- is going to win this game.

Nice to cover a conference where quarterback play matters, eh David?

Speaking of quarterback play and winning, let's wind it up. Our specific predictions aren't coming on these games until after Christmas. But we can handicap the Big 12-Pac-12 side of things. We have a three-game series this bowl seasons.

I say the Pac-12, underdogs in all three games, goes 1-2. What say you?

David Ubben: And to think, before the season, all I heard was the Pac-12 had surpassed the Big 12 in quarterback play. Did somebody petition the NCAA for another year of eligibility for Jake Locker and/or clone Matt Barkley? You West Coast folk are geniuses; I figured you'd find a way. We can't all be Stanford alums ...

Clearing out all the tumbleweeds here in middle America, I'll go out on a limb for the Big 12 in this one. Every matchup is a good one, and I don't think Cal has seen a defense like Texas' and Washington hasn't seen an offense like Baylor's. People forget that, yeah, RG3 is outstanding, but the Bears also have the league's leading receiver and leading rusher.

Stanford-OSU is a toss-up, but I'll go with a perfect sweep for the Big 12. The Cowboys haven't played poorly on the big stage yet, so I'll give them the benefit of the doubt in this one, and they clean up for the Big 12 against what was almost its new conference this fall.

Oh, what could have been. Ubben and Miller on the same blog? Divided ultimately by a little thing we call the Rockies.

Richardson tops solid Heisman quintet

December, 6, 2011

My Heisman Trophy ballot has changed every week for the last couple of months.

I'm not surprised there are more than three players going to the trophy presentation.

Five players were invited to New York for Saturday night's Heisman Trophy presentation -- quarterbacks Andrew Luck of Stanford and Robert Griffin III of Baylor, tailbacks Montee Ball of Wisconsin and Trent Richardson of Alabama and cornerback Tyrann Mathieu of LSU.

It's a shame the Heisman Trust didn't have room for three more quarterbacks because Houston's Case Keenum, USC's Matt Barkley and Boise State's Kellen Moore were just as deserving.

With five finalists going to New York, it figures to be one of the closer votes in recent Heisman Trophy history.

The closest vote in Heisman Trophy history came just two years ago, when Alabama tailback Mark Ingram edged Stanford's Toby Gerhart by only 28 points. Ingram received 227 first-place votes, Gerhart got 222 and Texas quarterback Colt McCoy, the second runner-up, received 203.

Given the number of finalists and their geographical regions, we could have another really close finish on Saturday night.

Luck, the runner-up to Auburn's Cam Newton last season, entered the 2011 season as the Heisman Trophy favorite. His performance didn't slip much this season, as he completed 70 percent of his passes for 3,170 yards with 35 touchdowns and nine interceptions.

I still feel Luck might be the most valuable player on any team in the country. Without him, there's no way the Cardinal is ranked No. 4 in the country and playing No. 3 Oklahoma State in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl. Luck has done more with less, as Stanford lacks the game-changing playmakers that other teams have.

But Luck might still be the second-best quarterback in New York. Griffin, who is widely known as RG3, completed 72.4 percent of his passes for 3,998 yards with 36 touchdowns and six interceptions. He also ran for 644 yards with nine touchdowns.

Without him, the Bears wouldn't have beaten TCU, Oklahoma and Texas. Griffin's one drawback: He had a late interception that sealed the Bears' fate in a 36-35 loss at Kansas State on Oct. 1 and threw two picks in a 59-24 loss at Oklahoma State on Oct. 29. But with everything else RG3 has done this season, it's easy to give him a mulligan for the miscues.

LSU defense
Kevin C. Cox/Getty ImagesRunning back Trent Richardson has been at his best in Alabama's biggest games.
I still believe Richardson is the best player in the country. He looked like the best player on the field in No. 2 Alabama's 9-6 loss in overtime to No. 1 LSU on Nov. 5. He had 89 rushing yards and 80 receiving yards in a game where every yard mattered. He finished the season with 1,583 yards with 20 touchdown runs and three touchdown catches. He's also Mr. Dependable, not losing a fumble in his past 520 touches and only once in 614 career touches.

Ball has been a scoring machine for the No. 10 Badgers this season, running for 1,759 yards with 32 touchdown runs and six touchdown receptions. His 38 total touchdowns are one shy of matching former Oklahoma State running back Barry Sanders' NCAA single-season record of 39 set in 11 games in 1988. Ball's production helped lead the Badgers to a Jan. 2 date against Oregon in the Rose Bowl Game presented by VIZIO.

Mathieu fell off my ballot after he was suspended from playing in the Tigers' 45-10 victory over Auburn on Oct. 22 for smoking synthetic marijuana. But his big plays helped the Tigers overcome deficits in each of their last two victories, over Arkansas and Georgia in the SEC championship game.

Mathieu -- aka the "Honey Badger" -- is the best player on the top-ranked team. He leads the Tigers with 70 tackles and has forced six fumbles and recovered five. He also is the most dynamic punt returner I've seen since Florida State's Deion Sanders. Mathieu has scored four touchdowns -- two on fumble returns and two on punt returns.

To penalize Mathieu for one foolish mistake wouldn't have been right. After all, Newton was briefly ruled ineligible at Auburn last season and 2010 Heisman Trophy finalist LaMichael James of Oregon was suspended from playing in last season's opener.

Charmed? Obstacles stacked against TCU

November, 27, 2011
A week ago, the TCU Horned Frogs won by 24 points and fell in the BCS rankings one spot to No. 20. This week they were idle and moved up two spots to No. 18 heading into the final week of the regular season. Gotta love the BCS.

So, can TCU actually sneak into a BCS game?

Technically, yes. The odds, though, are heavily stacked against them.

First, a reminder how a non-AQ team earns an automatic BCS berth: By winning its league championship (and being the champ is the key, not the final ranking, see Boise State); finishing in the top 16 of the BCS standings; and finishing higher than a champion of an AQ league. West Virginia is the highest-ranked Big East team at No. 23, and it isn't assured of winning the league.

By the time the Frogs (9-2) kick off their finale in Forth Worth against UNLV (2-9) at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, they'll have a pretty good idea if there's any hope. No. 6 Houston (12-0) controls its destiny: Beat No. 24 Southern Miss (10-2) in the Conference USA title game (11 a.m. Saturday, ABC), and an automatic BCS berth belongs to Case Keenum and the Coogs.

Lose, and suddenly the door flings open for the Frogs.

Here's the three-step process that must happen for TCU to seal a third consecutive BCS berth:

1. Houston must lose to Southern Miss -- which seemingly killed its BCS dreams with an awful loss to UAB two weeks ago.

2. TCU must beat UNLV (2-9) to win the Mountain West Conference title outright and do so in an overpowering way to make gains with voters (playing UNLV could actually hurt TCU in the computers, just see its 34-10 win over Colorado State that dropped it from No. 19 to 20).

3. TCU must move up two spots to No. 16 in the BCS rankings released next Sunday night.

If the first two dominoes fall, how plausible is a move into the top 16?

Well, No. 17 Baylor, with banged-up quarterback Robert Griffin III, plays host to No. 22 Texas. No. 16 Michigan's regular season is over. No. 15 Wisconsin faces No. 13 Michigan State in the Big Ten title game. No. 14 Georgia gets No. 1 LSU in the SEC championship game. Would loses to ranked teams, two of which will be in conference title games bump those teams down far enough to help TCU?

How charmed are these Frogs? We'll soon find out.

Charmed? First BCS shoe falls for Frogs

November, 18, 2011
The No. 19 TCU Horned Frogs put themselves in BCS contention with last week's win at then-No. 5 Boise State. They need help on two fronts and they got it from one Thursday night. No. 20 Southern Miss blew its golden chance with a stunning loss at downtrodden Alabama-Birmingham, 34-31.

That loss, Southern Miss' second of the season, will bump it down the BCS rankings, leaving No. 11 Houston (10-0) as the Frogs' lone hurdle to a possible third consecutive BCS berth. The Cougars play host to SMU Saturday and ESPN GameDay will be there. A Houston loss in either of its two remaining regular-season games (at Tulsa, Nov. 25) or in the Conference USA championship game could be enough to vault the Frogs into position for an automatic BCS berth.

TCU (8-2) has to take care of its own business. The Frogs play at home Saturday against Colorado State (3-6) and then finish the season two weeks later at home against UNLV (2-7).

For a more detailed look at TCU's road to the BCS click here.

Several carrots dangling in front of Frogs

November, 17, 2011

This is becoming old hat, but it shouldn't become old news: A win Saturday against Colorado State would be the 45th over the last four seasons for this year's TCU Horned Frogs senior class, making them the winningest class in school history. It would mark the fourth consecutive season that the seniors have topped the one before it.

Now that's consistency.

The jury was certainly out on this class winning nine or more games, especially after the 3-2 start. TCU lost a number of key seniors last season, including four-year starting quarterback Andy Dalton and several defensive stalwarts. The Horned Frogs -- with 18 seniors (seven who start), compared to 26 last year -- returned one of its younger teams in years. Coach Gary Patterson has played six true freshmen this season, the most he's ever played in his 11 seasons at TCU. The 22 freshmen (six true, 16 redshirt) that have played is tied for 15th nationally. They battled back into the national polls and BCS rankings this week at No. 19 across the board.

For much of the season, this team has acted like a young one, often frustrating Patterson with a more relaxed approach than he would prefer, even on the eve of last week's big battle at Boise, which came on the heels of a slew of sloppy turnovers that nearly cost them the game at Wyoming.

"I walked in this [meeting] room and they weren’t ready to go play a ballgame in Boise. I walked in and just told them, 'I’d be lying, I’d be sending you somewhere that you don’t need to be sent to; you’re not ready to play,'" Patterson said. "I said, 'I’m not trying to be negative, I'm not trying to tell you anything different,' I said, 'but the bottom line is you’re not ready to play. I’ve watched you.'

"Physically, they got ready, but mentally they didn’t get ready."

Patterson said concentration and motivation shouldn't be an issue with the stakes high for the senior class as well as unexpectedly lofty for the team as a whole. Along with the senior wins record on the line, TCU can tie for no less than a tie for the Mountain West Conference championship. Two victories make it three consecutive MWC titles. But, wait, there's more.

"If I’ve got to get them motivated for this one then you don’t deserve to win a championship," Patterson said. "They’ve got a chance to be a part of three out of four years of championships. You’ve got to win one out of two to tie for it, but if you want to give yourself a chance to do anything else as far as BCS, you’ve got to win these ballgames."

Yes, a BCS berth, remarkably, is alive.

The Frogs will need Conference USA frontrunners, No. 11 Houston Cougars and No. 20 Southern Miss Golden Eagles, each to lose once, but the BCS is a mighty motivational carrot to dangle in front of a team that no one figured would follow in the BCS footsteps of the past two veteran-laden squads.

"I’ll be really surprised," Patterson said, "if they don’t come ready to play."

TCU's 2-point winner at Boise was no-brainer

November, 15, 2011

FORT WORTH, Texas -- The moment Boise State conveniently fumbled away its potential close-out drive with 2:26 to go, TCU Horned Frogs coach Gary Patterson clicked his headset over to his offensive coaches up in the booth.

"I said, 'Do you have a two-point play ready?'" Patterson said. "And they said, 'Yes,' and I said, 'Well, you go down and score. We're going for it.'"

Trey Fallon and Landry Locker of ESPN Dallas talk about TCU's win over Boise State, what it means for the 2011 season, the possibility of making a BCS bowl game and the upcoming game against Colorado State.

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TCU took over on its own 27 down by a touchdown. Quarterback Casey Pachall completed 5-of-7 passes on the all-aerial drive, capped by a tremendous leaping grab in the end zone by 5-11 true freshman wide receiver Brandon Carter to pull the Frogs within 35-34 with 1:05 to play.

Pachall, who later would say he figured they'd kick the extra point to tie, and others headed off the field as if after most any other touchdown. This, Patterson would later say, was not most any other touchdown.

"I was hoping we were going to go for two, but then I didn't know because I saw a bunch of people start running off the field," TCU senior left guard Kyle Dooley said. "Then I see all the coaches yelling and everybody just stop. I stayed out on the field for the PAT and then I saw Patterson stick his fingers up for two and that's when I knew we were going for it."

To likely win it or lose it right there, on one play.

"It's a completely different feeling," Dooley said, "than if you know you're going to have to kick an extra point and possibly have to go to overtime."

Before TCU could get the play off, there was confusion.

"We about screwed it up and had to call a timeout," Patterson said. "In true Horned Frog fashion."

They got it off and Pachall targeted Josh Boyce, who grabbed the inside throw, pulling it away from the Boise defender for two points and a 36-35 lead with 65 ticks left. Boise drove 38 yards on eights plays to the TCU 22, but missed a 39-yard field-goal attempt as time expired.

Patterson said going for the tie was not an option.

"No, not against them, not there," Patterson said. "Nobody's beaten them; two times in 10 years people have beaten them there."

TCU's win was just Boise's third loss in their last 75 home games going back more than a decade.

"The longer it went the more it was going to be in their favor," Patterson said. "I'd already seen enough of their gadget plays in the red zone in the first 60 minutes of play."

Are Frogs on charmed road back to BCS?

November, 14, 2011
Improbable, but now not impossible, the BCS flame is rekindled for the streaking TCU Horned Frogs.

They'll need No. 11 Houston and No. 20 Southern Miss to each fumble a golden opportunity, while the No. 19 Frogs -- 8-2 and winners of five in a row -- can ill-afford a stumble of their own in their final two games against below-.500 squads Colorado State and UNLV.

Still, these Frogs, boosted by Saturday's huge road win at No. 5 Boise State -- the non-AQ BCS frontrunner before the loss -- that put a hammerlock on the Mountain West Conference championship and subsequently made TCU the leading dark horse to earn a third consecutive BCS bowl berth.

How is this possible? Let's review:

When Baylor kicked the game-winning field goal with 1:04 to play in the season-opener, TCU swallowed the hard truth that just one game in and the BCS was all but dead to them. A month later, SMU's overtime victory in Fort Worth questioned if the 3-2 Frogs were even capable of capturing a third consecutive league title.

Fast forward five weeks and Gary Patterson's boys provided that answer with Saturday's come-from-behind 36-35 victory on the Broncos' near-invincible blue turf. The heart-and-guts effort, spearheaded by the tremendous play of first-year starting quarterback Casey Pachall, put TCU in the driver's seat for the conference title and, somewhat unsuspectingly, rekindled the BCS flame.

Here's how:

The BCS selection process offers two paths of entrance for non-automatic qualifiers like TCU. The first is for a non-AQ conference champion to finish with a top-12 ranking in the BCS standings. At No. 19, that's highly unlikely considering the Frogs' final two opponents and the number of teams ahead of them. The second route grants a berth for the non-AQ league champ by finishing in the top 16 and with a ranking higher than that of a champion of one of the six AQ conferences.

Say hello to the Frogs' once-future home, the Big East.

That league currently boasts no teams ranked in the top 25 of the BCS standings. Cincinnati (7-2) dropped out of the Associated Press Top 25 poll, falling to 29th, and West Virginia is 27th. Neither team boasts a remaining schedule that would catapult it ahead of a 10-2 Frogs team, one that very well could claim a top-16 ranking.

Standing in the way is Houston (10-0) and Southern Miss (9-1). These two are on a collision course to meet in the Conference USA title game. If the Coogs win out, they'll be assured of the BCS berth. If the Golden Eagles win out, they'll likely hop the Frogs and earn the spot.

Pass-happy Houston, led by sixth-year quarterback Case Keenum, welcomes the disappointing Ponies (6-4) on Saturday (ESPN GameDay will be there) before traveling to Tulsa (7-3, 6-0) the day after Thanksgiving. Southern Miss has games against a pair of 2-8 teams in Alabama-Birmingham and Memphis.

The script favorable to the Frogs would see SMU or Tulsa knock off Houston, and then the Coogs beat Southern Miss in the title game, assuring each another loss. Of course, if Tulsa does the job, it would likely then face Southern Miss and that could hurt the Eagles' chances of jumping the Frogs.

If it plays out, the two-loss Frogs could very well become the first non-undefeated, non-AQ team to play in a BCS game.

If that happens, consider these Frogs charmed.

Casey Pachall named national player of week

November, 13, 2011
TCU Horned Frogs quarterback Casey Pachall was named the Walter Camp National Offensive Player of the Week for his performance in Saturday's 36-35 upset win at the No. 5 Boise State Broncos.

The win jumped the Frogs to No. 19 in the Associated Press Top 25 poll and the coach's poll. TCU entered the game unranked in the AP poll and 24th in the coach's poll.

Pachall completed 24-of-37 passes for 473 yards and five touchdowns as TCU snapped Boise State's nation-best 35-game home winning streak. It also ended the Broncos' run of 65 straight regular-season home victories dating back to 2001.

The five touchdowns tied a TCU single-game record shared by three others (Jeff Ballard, Matt Vogler, Steve Stamp). The 473 yards are the second-most in TCU history, trailing only Vogler's 690 against Houston in 1990.

A sophomore from Brownwood, Pachall led a seven-play, 73-yard drive in just 1:21 to pull TCU within 35-34 with 1:05 to play. He then capped the drive with a 25-yard scoring pass to Brandon Carter. His 2-point conversion pass to Josh Boyce gave the Horned Frogs the one-point lead.

After completing a 2-yard scoring toss to Boyce to cut TCU's deficit to 28-26 in the third quarter, Pachall ran for two to tie the game.

He had first-half touchdown passes of 74, 75 and 69 yards to give TCU a 20-14 halftime lead, and was Pachall was responsible for 34 points, tying for the fourth-best single-game total in TCU history.

Frogs 'D' has bone to pick with Broncos

November, 10, 2011
FORT WORTH, Texas -- TCU Horned Frogs coach Gary Patterson lauded Boise State Broncos quarterback Kellen Moore for his dynamic play in the previous two meetings against the Frogs.

"I think in the two times we played him, I think one play I think I fooled him. One out of 120 plays or whatever," said Patterson, who calls the defensive plays. "He just doesn't get fooled. He knows where the ball's supposed to be going, how it needs to do it. He's just like having a coach on the field, just extremely intelligent, extremely talented, extremely accurate."

Once again Moore leads the fifth-ranked Broncos' explosive offense that ranks seventh in the nation in scoring (43.9), 13th in total offense (479.0), 16th in passing (295.6) and 39th in rushing (183.4).

But, Moore hasn't had tremendous outings against the Frogs. In the 2008 Poinsettia Bowl, TCU won, 17-16, and limited the then-redshirt freshman to 222 yards with an interception and the Broncos to 250 total yards. In the 2010 Fiesta Bowl, a 17-10 Boise win, the sophomore was 23-of-39 for 211 yards with the offense going for 317. The Broncos benefited from a fourth-quarter fake punt on its winning scoring drive.

Heading into Saturday's 1:30 p.m. game (televised on Versus) that will likely decide the Mountain West Conference championship, Moore isn't facing a dominating TCU defense. The 2008 and 2009 Frogs defenses finished the seasons ranked No. 1 in the nation. This unit ranks 38th in total defense and 61st against the pass, allowing 225.2 yards a game.

The Frogs secondary was burned consistently in their only two losses, both to down-field passing teams in Baylor and SMU.

Moore, now a senior, might be the most polished quarterback with the most explosive weapons around him that the Frogs have played this season.

"Smart guy," TCU senior cornerback Greg McCoy said of Moore. "For one, he's a great competitor. He's just a smart football player to me. I see a guy that studies the game, loves what he does and has a lot of confidence."

TCU has to deal with Boise switcheroo

November, 8, 2011

FORT WORTH, Texas -- Gary Patterson can be mistaken for a gruff, old-fashioned football coach who laughs at little, but don't undersell the man. The TCU Horned Frogs coach can laugh it up when he wants, and on Tuesday he couldn't help but chuckle at the irony that Saturday's showdown against the No. 5 Boise State Broncos will be played on the blue turf instead of in his backyard.

Trey Fallon and Landry Locker of ESPN Dallas break down the keys to TCU's road game against Boise State and discuss the brief, but exciting history of the rivalry.

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The game was originally scheduled to be played at TCU (because Boise took over Utah's schedule upon its departure to the Pac-12), but nearly a year ago when the Frogs announced that they were big-timing it to the Big East, the MWC board of directors stepped in. They couldn't take away the Frogs' new conference, so they nabbed TCU's biggest football game and handed it to its proud, new member.

Well, since then things have changed just a little. Along with TCU bailing on the Big East to replace Texas A&M in the Big 12, Pittsburgh, Syracuse and West Virginia all ditched the Big East and, lo and behold, after all that shifting, the Boise State Broncos are on the cusp of joining a handful of others in -- that's right -- the Big East.

"If Boise State does leave for the Big East I already called the chancellor to see if we could get the game back here on Saturday," Patterson said with a sly smile. "Because that's why we changed the game, to make sure the Mountain West was taken care of."

No laughing matter are the stakes riding on this game and how the home field is a major advantage. The Broncos must win to keep their BCS hopes alive and must win big to keep the window cracked on a national championship game debate. The Frogs won't make the BCS this season, but they want a third consecutive MWC title and their goal is to leave the league with a 24-game win streak that now stands at 21.

"There's a reason they wanted to move the game," Patterson said of Boise State.

And here it is:

No team in the county has won more at home since 2000 than the Broncos. They're 72-2 on the blue turf in that time and have won 35 in a row. The Frogs, meanwhile, would have loved this game at Amon G. Carter Stadium, where they've won 24 of 25 and are 54-7 under Patterson. Earlier this season, SMU snapped TCU's 22-game home win streak.

"Obviously, the way we play at home and they way they play at home it definitely gives an advantage to somebody," Patterson said. "I do think it's ironic that if they do leave and go to the Big East, for all the things that everybody did for them that they no longer will be there either. But, I just thought we had done more and tried to handle ourselves with the kind of class as a program for the Mountain West that I just thought we'd be treated different. But, obviously, it's still about what have you done for me lately.

"Now we're going to try and win the conference title this Saturday in Boise against a really, really good football team."

Big East invites five

October, 15, 2011

It appears as if the Big East is ready to make a move.

ESPN.com's Andy Katz reported late Friday that the league has sent conditional invitations to Houston and SMU in all sports, and Boise State and Air Force in football only. A separate all-sports invitation has been sent to UCF.

According to Katz, if Houston, SMU, Boise State and Air Force all agree to join, then the remaining six football-playing schools will agree to increase the exit fee from $5 million to the $10 million range as a show of commitment to the league. But the remaining football playing schools won't commit to raising the fee unless all four say they will join the Big East.

Houston athletic director Mack Rhoades issued a statement late Friday night saying, "We are aware of the growing speculation regarding conference realignment and do not feel it would be appropriate to comment on the possible intentions of another league. We are flattered to be mentioned as an athletics program of national importance and we are grateful for our strong traditions and the dedication of our fans, alumni, staff and student-athletes.”

Earlier in the day, the Mountain West and Conference USA announced the formation of a football alliance. On a conference call announcing the move, C-USA commissioner Britton Banowsky said he had been informed by UCF of its discussions with the Big East. But he said he was unaware of any discussions between SMU, Houston and the Big East. Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson confirmed Boise State and Air Force were in discussions with the Big East. All four of those schools participated in the vote to form the new MWC/C-USA alliance.

Win sets up TCU-Boise St. for MWC showdown

October, 9, 2011
The TCU Horned Frogs might be a young group that, as coach Gary Patterson suggested last week, hasn't properly felt the pain that a loss should inflict -- or at least Patterson doesn't believe they have revealed that pain properly -- but they sure know how to rebound from a loss.

For a second time this season, TCU (4-2, 2-0) avoided a losing skid. Late Saturday night they jumped out to a 17-0 lead on an offensively dangerous San Diego State Aztecs team and came away with a 27-14 road win.

Earlier in the week, the Frogs got the good news that they've got an invite to become the 10th team in the Big 12. They have a chance to leave the Mountain West Conference with a record win streak that could stand for some time. TCU won its 19th consecutive MWC game to break a tie with now-independent BYU, which won 18 in a row from 2006-08.

The one team that would seem capable of such a long streak is the league's newest member, the Boise State Broncos.

TCU will have something to say that about on its way down the mountain to the Big 12. The Frogs and Broncos (5-0, 0-0) are on a collision course to determine the conference champion on Nov. 12 at Boise. The game was originally scheduled to be played in Fort Worth, but when TCU accepted an invitation last November to join the Big East Conference, MWC officials swiped it away and moved the game to the blue turf.

Between now and then, TCU will finally enjoy a bye week coming up followed by three games it will be be favored to win: at home against New Mexico (Oct. 22), against BYU at Cowboys Stadium (Oct. 28) and at Wyoming (Nov. 5).

Boise, formerly of the WAC, will play its first MWC game Saturday at Colorado State, followed by a home game against Air Force (Oct. 22), and then at UNLV (Nov. 5). Air Force was considered to be the toughest hurdle in setting up a Frogs-Broncos showdown, but TCU already dispatched the Falcons with relative ease in Colorado Springs.

For two teams that have forged a rivalry through multiple tightly contested bowl matchups over the last several seasons, this first and last conference game should be more of the same.

Stakes big for Oregon, Pac-12 versus LSU

August, 29, 2011

Nobody likes sounding relentlessly redundant, but if the story doesn't change the story doesn't change.

For all that Oregon has accomplished in two years under Chip Kelly, it has flopped against highly rated nonconference foes who have had extra time to prepare for the Ducks high-tempo, spread-option attack.

  • In 2009, the Ducks opened at Boise State. While that game is most remembered for LaGarrette Blount's post-game meltdown in Kelly's debut, Boise State fans will be glad to remind you the Broncos held the Ducks to 31 yards rushing in a 19-8 victory.
  • The Ducks righted themselves dramatically in 2009 and earned a berth opposite Ohio State in the Rose Bowl. But the Buckeyes held the Ducks to 260 yards in a 26-17 victory
  • And, finally, in the national title game against Auburn, the Ducks only scored 19 points. They gained 449 yards but only 75 on the ground.
[+] EnlargeChip Kelly
Kirby Lee/Image of Sport/US PresswireOregon coach Chip Kelly and the Ducks would score a big win for the Pac-12 with a defeat of LSU on Saturday.
Those three games, against which there is little counter argument, other than the Ducks Pac-10 success, have inspired this sort of analysis: Oregon needs to get more physical.

If you have ever played football, you surely understand that when a football player has his physicality doubted, well, that's pretty galling.

Before all you Ducks get bent over this, keep in mind that Kelly has been a stand-up guy about this very point. In all three instances, he admitted the Ducks got beat at the point of attack. Further, during preseason camp, I asked running back LaMichael James about what went wrong against Auburn.

"Their defensive line was overpowering our offensive line," he said. "That was just the way it was."

How do you think this goes over with a Ducks offensive lineman? Department of "Truth Hurts."

Here's the good news: Oregon can end such talk on Saturday. All it has to do is take it to No. 4 LSU, a program as physically talented in terms of future NFL potential as any in the nation.

That's the micro-economic level of the super-cool-awesomeness of this marquee season-0pener in Cowboys Stadium.

Any one else curious to see what Kelly's got up his sleeve to counter LSU's extra prep time to school itself on the Ducks misdirection?

The macro-economic level is this: Pac-12 versus SEC. One game for a regular-season's worth of trash talking.

You might have heard the SEC has experienced some football success of late. On occasion, SEC fans will take a moment to remind you of it. There is a rumor, in fact, that five consecutive seasons have ended with a happy ending in some SEC outpost, the latest against the Pac-12's newest top-dog.

That would be Oregon.

To be honest, last January, I though Oregon was going to pound Auburn. I didn't think a two-player team -- no matter how good those two players were -- could beat the Kelly and the Ducks. The last time I had such a strong hunch about a game and was so completely wrong was when Washington pushed Miami around in 2000. (This is not to say I've had a long run of correct strong hunches about games before January. They just don't come by very often before marquee matchups).

Even if you throw out the stakes specific to Oregon and the Pac-12, this game has huge meaning nationally. The winner could -- should, in my mind -- rise to No. 1 in both major polls. Voters should reward the winner for showing the courage to play this game, which is great for college football at a time college football needs something great to distract fans from a stunning onslaught of scandals. A couple of which, rumor has it, might involve these two teams, territory we're choosing not to explore at this moment.

So if Oregon wins, it could rise to No. 1. If LSU has a successful season in the rugged SEC West, that win will grow in value. But even if LSU falters, the Ducks will be in position to play again for the national title if they keep winning.

Further, the odds aren't terrible that Oregon could arrive at Stanford on Nov. 12 and we find ourselves eyeballing two unbeaten teams. It could be a One-Two matchup even. At the worst, if the Ducks and Cardinal face each other without a blemish on either slate, it will be the biggest Pac-12 game in years (last year's game also matched unbeaten teams but was much earlier -- Oct. 2 -- in the season). If Stanford prevailed, it also could crow about beating the team that beat LSU and likely would play for the national title if it finished 12-0.

If Oregon loses to LSU, the Ducks could still have a great season. They could rally and perhaps get back into the national title hunt. And there's always the Rose Bowl, hardly a terrible destination. One nonconference game can't completely make or break a season.

But an Oregon victory would give the program a level of early-season gravitas it has never had. It would silence any remaining doubters, both of the Ducks and the Pac-12.

So, yes, you have heard correctly: This game is very, very big.

TCU stays No. 3, but Boise State closes in

November, 21, 2010
The TCU Horned Frogs remained No. 3 in the latest BCS rankings released Sunday evening. After a bye week, they'll finish up the regular season Saturday at woeful New Mexico.

It could also be the week that No. 4 Boise State (10-0), which made up ground on the Frogs (11-0) after another blowout win -- 51-0 over Fresno State -- pass the Frogs. Boise plays at No. 19 Nevada on Friday night on ESPN.

The points gap between TCU (.8995) and Boise (.8860) is now razor thin. If the Broncos defeat the Wolf Pack handily it is widely presumed that Boise will overtake the Frogs at the No. 3 spot next Sunday. The Broncos finish the regular season at home Dec. 4 against Utah State.

Of course, both non-AQ schools continue to hold out hope that either No. 1 Oregon (10-0) or No. 2 Auburn (11-0) or both slip. The Tigers still must play at No. 11 Alabama on Friday and then against No. 18 South Carolina in the SEC Championship. The Ducks play at home against No. 21 Arizona on Friday and at Oregon State in the Civil War on Dec. 4.