Dallas Colleges: Fiesta Bowl

Bowl debate: Big 12 vs. Pac-12

December, 19, 2011
12/19/11
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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.

Pros, cons of a MWC-CUSA super game

August, 20, 2010
8/20/10
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UPDATE: The Mountain West Conference issued this brief statement on its blog at 1:06 p.m., regarding the Thursday meeting between officials from the Mountain West Conference and Conference USA:

"Followed up on various media reports regarding a potential Mountain West Conference-Conference USA merger, and confirmed that representatives of both leagues did indeed meet yesterday in Colorado Springs. Included were Commissioner Craig Thompson, Commissioner Britton Banowsky (who have a long-standing personal and professional relationship), and a couple MWC Athletics Directors. The informal gathering, which was previously scheduled, covered a wide range of topics, including concepts regarding television, scheduling and the BCS. Yet another example of the Mountain West's ongoing strategic thinking on a number of fronts, as the league continues to position itself in the national landscape."

***

So the Mountain West Conference and Conference USA have apparently put their two brains together and are talking a one-game showdown -- champion vs. champion -- with the winner being granted an automatic BCS berth.

First question: On the surface, it seems ludicrous, so why would the BCS agree to give an automatic bid to a non-automatic-qualifying conference team every year?

Answer: They won't (in my opinion, but let's continue...). Conference USA hasn't sniffed a BCS berth since long-departed Louisville in 2004 and Tulane a dozen years ago. Last season, unranked East Carolina knocked off No. 18 Houston in the C-USA championship game. East Carolina went to the Liberty Bowl and lost to unranked Arkansas, 20-17, and finished with a 9-5 record. Houston came to Fort Worth and got shellacked by unranked Air Force, 47-20, in the Armed Forces Bowl to finish 10-4. Since the 2006 season, no C-USA team has finished with fewer than three losses. In three of those four seasons, the league's best team had four losses. Can you imagine the national outrage had 9-4 East Carolina actually played its way into the BCS by upsetting TCU in a one-game bonanza?

That's reason enough to end this conversation right here, right now ... but, having said that, the one reason the BCS might bend and agree to such a scenario would be to avoid the embarrassment of last season when it had to deal with two BCS-busters and threw TCU and Boise State into the Fiesta Bowl to eat their own. A MWC vs. C-USA playoff would lump 23 teams (assuming today's count for the 2011 season of 11 teams in the MWC and 12 in C-USA -- things can change quickly, like, say Houston switching sides, but the numbers would stay the same) together and immediately lop off 22. No longer would the BCS have to worry about two teams messing things up.

Second question: This is a no-brainer for C-USA, which has never sent a team to a BCS game, but why would the superior MWC want any part of this?

Answer: Last year, TCU and Boise State both crashed the BCS, but two years ago, undefeated Boise State was left to play one-loss TCU in the Poinsettia Bowl. Would Boise have taken a one-game playoff against the C-USA champ for a shot to play on the big-money stage? Of course. What if TCU and Boise both go undefeated this season? One scenario: Boise gets the BCS bid and unbeaten TCU is invited to the Las Vegas Bowl. Gary Patterson has worked too hard to elevate TCU to a national platform to just give unproven C-USA a ticket to the BCS gates, but in the current system, Patterson might figure he has a better shot each year to win his conference and then win one more against the C-USA champ to ensure getting into the BCS rather than depend on BCS calculations to determine his team's fate.

Also, this would eliminate the undefeated-or-forget-it situation that now exists in the non-automatic-qualifer conferences, easing pressure on TCU and Boise State and the others to sweep their non-conference schedules, typically highlighted by two to three tough matchups against major-conference schools (TCU plays Oregon State and Baylor this season; Boise plays Virginia Tech and Oregon State). A loss in September wouldn't end all BCS hope as it does now.

The MWC and C-USA are also looking toward the future. Although the superconference model didn't come to fruition this summer, nobody is shortsighted enough to believe the Big 12 is stable and the Big Ten and SEC won't seek to expand. When and if superconferences emerge, schools in the MWC and C-USA won't hold their breath for an invite, and that includes TCU. Arranging this championship game would possibly ensure a spot in the BCS when the landscape again changes.

Third question: Would such a championship game generate more money for the two conferences?

Answer: How much is debatable. Surely, ESPN would pay for an elimination game, but it certainly wouldn't rank up there with, say, the attractiveness and popularity of the SEC championship game. And, revenue generated from a championship game would seemingly have to be split among the 23 teams, further watering down the profit margin.

Alternate solution: Merge. Let's say the Mountain West bids farewell to New Mexico, Wyoming and San Diego State (WAC, anyone?) and moves forward with eight -- TCU, BYU, Boise, Air Force, Colorado State, Fresno State, Nevada and UNLV -- and invites four from C-USA -- Houston, Memphis, Tulsa and maybe Southern Miss for a 12-team conference with a championship game. That's not bad football to take to ESPN and other networks to hammer out a more lucrative TV deal than either conference has now. It's also a stonger product than either can currently take to the BCS for eventual automatic inclusion.

TCU's Gary Patterson striving for perfection

July, 29, 2010
7/29/10
3:30
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FORT WORTH, Texas --TCU coach Gary Patterson addressed a ballroom full of adoring fans Thursday during a membership luncheon of the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce. He discussed last year's historic ride to the Fiesta Bowl after an undefeated regular season and the prospects of doing it all over again.

"Not many people are perfect and not many people repeat being perfect," Patterson said afterward. "But we're going to try to be."

That's life in a non-automatic-qualifying conference. Ninenty-nine percent of the time a BCS berth is going to require a perfect season. The pursuit begins Wednesday when the team reports and practices begin Thursday, just as temperatures are expected to soar above 100 degrees.

"We've got 54 lettermen coming back with a bunch of starters coming back on offense and defense, but chemistry and all the other things and how you stay healthy go into it," Patterson said. "People expect you to be 12-0. To live up to that you have to have something go right for you and it will be tougher to do this year. The teams are better than they were a year ago that we'll play in the conference and we play an unbelievable non-conference schedule."

The nonconference schedule begins in grand fashion on Sept. 4 when the Horned Frogs play Oregon State at Cowboys Stadium. TCU also faces improved SMU on the road, plus a home game against a bowl-or-bust Baylor team excited about the return of quarterback Robert Griffin.

"We understand what we have in front of us," Patterson said, "and what we have to be able to get accomplished to get done what we need to do."

*Stadium renovation funding near complete: Patterson said the school will soon announce that it has hit its fundraising goal and will begin a much-needed overhaul of Amon G. Carter Stadium after the season. Also, Patterson said, plans are in place to completely revamp the football weight room and locker room over the next two seasons.

*Uniform surprise? Patterson hinted that the Frogs could be wearing new duds for the Sept. 4 season opener at Cowboys Stadium. "We've got a couple games -- at least one game, could be two games -- where we've got a chance for a special uniform this year," Patterson said. "Who knows, it may even be the first game."

TCU debuted the Nike Pro Combat uniform that included the grey helmet with thin red striping (supposed to represent blood real Horned Frogs spit as a defense mechanism) last season against Utah and brought them back for the Fiesta Bowl against Boise State. Patterson said the team still has those uniforms, but he seemed to be suggesting that a new uniform could be in the fold for the opener. The Frogs, Patterson said, will also still wear their traditional uniform -- black paints, purple jerseys and purple helmets -- although he said those uniforms have changed "just a little bit."

*Practice at JerryWorld: TCU is working out a date for the team to practice at Cowboys Stadium in anticipation of the Sept. 4 opener against Oregon State.

Healthy squad: Patterson said his team enters fall camp with no significant injuries. Linebacker Tank Carder, who had shoulder surgery during spring practice, is cleared to begin practice.

Realignment, TCU, the MWC and BCS

June, 15, 2010
6/15/10
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Since the breakup of the Southwest Conference, TCU has competed in the WAC, Conference USA and the Mountain West Conference. So, as the Big 12 situation unfolded day-by-day and hour-by-hour, TCU could at least marvel at the maneuverings without fretting where it might end up. It sure made it easier to celebrate its latest athletic triumph as the Frogs are headed to the school's first College World Series.

There was, however, an option being discussed by the five would-be leftover Big 12 schools to absorb some or all of the 10 MWC schools and retain the Big 12 name. Now that the Big 12 will carry on with 10 teams, TCU isn't going anywhere. But, the MWC might still be affected if the Pac-10, now sitting with 11 teams after adding Colorado, invites MWC cornerstone Utah.

If Utah were to leave, it would reduce the MWC to nine teams almost immediately after it expanded to 10 by adding Boise State last week. The Broncos were considered the final piece to the MWC gaining BCS status and an automatic BCS bid in two years when the four-year evaluation period ends.

"We feel like we are on the cusp of becoming a BCS conference," TCU athletic director Chris Del Conte said Tuesday afternoon. "If you look at the mathematical equations, in two years when we're being reviewed, if all the things play out like the way they've been playing out, we have a great shot at being a BCS conference and having an automatic bid. With or without Utah."

Within the MWC, Boise State is now thought of as an insurance policy in case Utah heads to the Pac-10. Boise has played in two BCS games -- defeating Oklahoma in a classic 2007 Fiesta Bowl and beating TCU, 17-10, last year in the Fiesta Bowl.

MWC officials believe the conference's run at achieving BCS standing will be successful -- with or without Utah.

Could TCU be on brink of joining Big 12?

June, 10, 2010
6/10/10
7:33
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With Colorado gone and Nebraska all but gone from the Big 12, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech and Baylor officials are meeting today in a last-ditch effort to save the Big 12. That still remains the top priority for the Texas schools, so they say.

The alternative is a migration to the Pac-10 for six teams -- Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Colorado -- which would signal the destruction of the Big 12 and would leave Baylor, Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State and quite possibly Missouri -- which wants Big Ten membership, but might not get it -- in limbo.

For days now, Nebraska has been considered the Big 12 linchpin. If the Huskers leave, the conference dissolves. But does it have to dissolve if saving the league is really the No. 1 goal for Texas and the other Big 12 members? If only Nebraska leaves, what would be the quickest fix to replace one school?

TCU.

Obviously, Nebraska won't be the only Big 12 school on the move. Colorado officially accepted a bid to join the Pac-10 on Thursday. So the Big 12 could operate as a 10-team league or look to fill two spots.


TCU and who? A fellow Mountain West Conference team? Houston from Conference USA? The Big 12 already owns the Houston market. Adding another MWC team like BYU or Air Force would seem the only logical route -- assuming Arkansas has no plans to vacate the revenue pipeline that is the SEC. Of course, the Big 12 could look at this model and deem a move to the Pac-16 as being a vastly more lucrative option.

Back in January in California when TCU coach Gary Patterson accepted his Coach of the Year award from the Football Writers Association of America, he said the Frogs wouldn't hesitate to join the Big 12 if asked. He even joked that it would be all the better if they could hop right into the weaker North Division.

TCU athletics measure up in nearly every sport except men's basketball. Patterson's Frogs completed an undefeated regular season and played in the Fiesta Bowl. The baseball team begins the super-regional round Friday in Austin against the Longhorns, a rematch from last year, for a spot in the College World Series. The women's basketball team has played in multiple NCAA Tournaments. TCU's other Olympic sports are competitive.

TCU has poured money into building first-rate athletic facilities and plans are in motion to renovate Amon G. Carter Stadium.

However, some close to the TCU athletic department are skeptical that the Big 12 would extend an invitation to TCU in its hour of need. One source cited the fact that, like Houston, the Big 12 already owns the Dallas-Fort Worth market. Plus, Texas, Texas A&M and Texas Tech greatly enjoy the recruiting advantage they own with the Frogs in a lesser conference.

A Pac-16, with its massive reach, visibility and popularity would seemingly only accentuate that advantage.

But, say that Texas and friends opt to save a 10-team Big 12 without TCU. Would it pursue BYU and Air Force first? Those schools seem most logical because they at least secure Salt Lake City TVs, while Air Force, based in Colorado Springs, Colo., somewhat taps into the Denver market.

These are fast and crazy times.

Crazy is to think that the Baylor-TCU football game in September is now more likely to be rekindled as a conference matchup in the Mountain West and not the Big 12. Crazy.

Nation tunes in to watch TCU-Boise St.

January, 6, 2010
1/06/10
5:55
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The Fiesta Bowl matchup between TCU and Boise State drew an 8.2 rating and a 13 share on FOX -- the fifth-highest rating among the network's 11 non-championship BCS games.

Fiesta Bowl: TCU pep rally

January, 3, 2010
1/03/10
7:42
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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- It was obvious that TCU coach Gary Patterson was pleased to see about 3,000 Frog fans at a pep rally Sunday afternoon.

Patterson addressed the crowd shortly after the band and cheerleaders entered and sounded hoarse as he talked.

"I want to thank everyone for supporting us all season and coming out here," Patterson said. "We came here to win. We need all the help we can get from you."

Patterson said before going on 103.3 FM ESPN that he was excited about TCU's opportunity on a big stage in Monday's Fiesta Bowl and that he felt his team was ready.

"They've worked hard, and now all we can do is get on the field on play," Patterson said. "I hope we do Fort Worth proud."

Fiesta talk: TCU's Daryl Washington

January, 1, 2010
1/01/10
9:00
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A few TCU defensive players met with the media after practice on Thursday. One was linebacker Daryl Washington. Here were some of his thoughts:

"We have to go out there and play. Let everything take care of itself. In my opinion, we’re both great teams. You have two great teams playing against each other in two different conferences. As far as dominating those conferences, you’re establishing yourself somewhere in the Top 5.

"Boise State is a great team. He’s (Kellen Moore) a smart player and knows the offense. He knows football. Sometimes you have to get pressure on him. If we can get pressure on him it will be a great game for us. Maybe they have more experience this year. They brought a lot of players back. They’re going to be a great team. They’re going to be ready to play. I’m just looking forward to it.

"We know they’re going to come out with some trick plays. We know they’re going to try to catch us off guard and make us feel uncomfortable. I think we’re well prepared. They have some speedy guys on the offense. Receivers and running backs. With our speed and our aggressive play, it will be fun to watch."

TCU opponents go 6-0 in bowl games

December, 31, 2009
12/31/09
2:32
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If bowl games are any indication, TCU has beaten some pretty good competition. Air Force's 47-20 win over Houston -- and can you believe Keenum threw six interceptions? -- means TCU opponents went 6-0.

And most of the win in impressive fashion. BYU beat Oregon State, 44-20. SMU crushed Nevada (a Boise State opponent, by the way), 45-10. Utah beat California, 37-27, in a game that wasn't even that close. There were two close games, with Clemson winning 21-13 over Kentucky and Wyoming needing double-overtime to beat Fresno State (another Boise State opponent).

It certainly makes TCU look even better to see their opponents putting up strong showings in bowl games. Of course, none of that will matter to the Frogs unless they beat Boise State in Monday's Fiesta Bowl.

TCU talks about passing game

December, 30, 2009
12/30/09
3:31
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TCU quarterback Andy Dalton and co-offensive coordinator Justin Fuente talked about TCU's ability to throw the ball this season and open up the offense. It's clearly been a huge key to the team's success.

Some thoughts from Dalton:

"Starting this spring, we changed things up a little bit to be more efficient in the passing game. That work in the summer carried into the season. I think we did a pretty good job of it.

I guess coming in, if you look at my numbers, it doesn’t show that I was a passing quarterback. I think this offense has become so balanced. I think that has helped out with that. I felt like I matured a lot. I see things a whole lot better and that just comes with experience.

I know what I can and can’t do. I know when I can try to make a play and when not to. I think that just comes with time. It’s kind of cool to get the recognition. Just to see the way that the Fort Worth area and the city has changed and bought into TCU. You see a lot of people wearing purple now. It’s been exciting to see everybody buying into TCU."

Some thoughts from Fuentes:

"I think the results that [Dalton] wanted to see were the wins and losses. Things will never change here. We’re going to run the football. When we’re able to run the football it is easier to throw the football. Andy understands that. Andy is ready and willing to do whatever it takes for us to run the ball and in turn make it easier for us to throw.

Did he need tangible results? I think he saw them in the way we were moving the ball and the success we were having offensively. I don’t know that he needed x amount of touchdown passes. If we get into a situation where we have to throw. I don’t think that has been the formula for success here and that has been one thing Jarrett and I talked to Coach Patterson about. We’re not trying to change it. We want to do a couple of things better.

I don’t know if it will ever get to (throwing 40-50 passes a game) or not. I personally as a football coach understand how much easier it is to throw the ball well if you can run it. And nobody talks about Texas Tech running the football. But if you don’t put enough guys in there, they will run the ball. "

TCU, Texas among decade's top teams

December, 30, 2009
12/30/09
9:10
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Texas was well-represented in the list of the top-10 teams of the decade in the ESPN Dallas coverage area.

The Longhorns' 2009 season, which will end with a trip to the BCS Championship game against Alabama on Jan. 7, was fourth on the list. The 2005 national championship team was No. 1.

Texas' 2002 World Series-winning baseball team made the list as well.

TCU's 2009 season was also included. The Frogs are in Phoenix now preparing for the Fiesta Bowl. A win would make them 13-0 and likely put them in the top 5 of the preseason rankings in 2010.

BTW, Baylor's women's basketball title and Oklahoma's 2000 football team also qualified for top-10 status.

TCU's Patterson talks from Phoenix

December, 29, 2009
12/29/09
6:41
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The Horned Frogs flew over to Phoenix today to begin all the Fiesta Bowl festivities. TCU coach Gary Patterson spoke to the media. Here is some of what he had to say (we'll share more of it in the coming days).

Here was his opening statement:

You probably think we have been waiting three weeks to get here. I’ve been waiting 12 years at TCU. Let me just say from everybody back in Ft. Worth, we want to thank the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, John Junker and everybody here that’s been a part of it. It’s been a long stretch for us. Twelve years ago people said this couldn’t be done. When we came to TCU, they were 1-10. We’ve worked ourselves up the ladder.

We came here to try to give you a great ball game. We know we have a great opponent. I know a lot has been said, and I’m one of those guys that reads a lot. Chris (Petersen) was actually a quarterback when I was a linebacker coach at UC- Davis. Him and I go way back. You can never trust those offensive guys. We have a lot of admiration for Boise State. We have a lot of admiration for what they do and how they’ve done it. The combined records between the two schools is 48-3 in the last two years.

So on behalf of our chancellor, our football team, the university and the fans, which I think you will love the people in purple when they get here. You’re going to love them because wherever they go they have a lot of class, they spend a lot of money and you are going to like how they do things. Words can’t tell you how excited we are about being here. I brought the guys back early because I wanted to make sure we got in great practices before we came here. So we got back to the way we played when we played at Utah because we know we’re going to have to play that way to have a chance against a great Boise State team. No. 3 or 4 against the No. 5, what else can you ask for?

On the respect TCU has received this season:

No. 1, probably the biggest hurdle we had to get over recruiting-wise at TCU was that automatic qualifying conferences said, “You don’t want to go to TCU because you will never play for a national championship and you’ll never get to a BCS bowl.” No longer is that hurdle there.

Thanks to the Fiesta Bowl we’re able to do some things and we’re able to get into some homes that maybe even three weeks ago we weren’t able to do. On a national stage, I don’t know if you can even put it into words what it has been able to do for us. The thing that I like most about our football team, and what America has seen, that not only have we won but that we played very hard and we played with a lot of class. That’s what we’re going to try to do on the fourth, to make sure that the Fiesta Bowl made a great choice.

You’ve got two great football teams. Who knows who is going to win this game? The last time we got together a year ago it was 17-16. I don’t know if it is going to be 52-51 or 17-16, but you know this much – both football teams know how to win. Both football teams have a lot of class. Both football teams are very physical. And they are going to give you a great ballgame because both of them want to be here.

I can tell you right now that when they asked me, if I had a choice, this is where I wanted to go. And Boise (State) was the team I wanted to play. You want to play the best. I think both Boise (State) and TCU are automatic qualifying schools. I think we both belong and there are a few others. I think the Fiesta Bowl made great choices in picking two teams. And I think you’ll find that both teams really want to be here. Both teams are going to give you everything they have. We’re going to be excited about the fourth and getting out on the field.

I'll admit that I wondered if TCU would be able to just forget about the fact that is wasn't the matchup the schools wanted -- in other words not playing a big-name school like Florida -- and just play football. But if Patterson's passion and excitement is any indication, that won't be a problem.

Let's talk TCU's uniforms

December, 29, 2009
12/29/09
2:47
PM CT
By now, most of you know that TCU has decided to wear the Nike Pro Combat uniforms for the Fiesta Bowl. That means you'll see that black and red TCU helmet, the lizard-skin -- or Horned Frog-skin -- looking pants and the purple jerseys with "Don't Back Down" embroidered in the collar.
[+] EnlargeTCU
Ronald Martinez/Getty ImagesTCU and Jerry Hughes should reserve the new Nike uniforms for special occasions.

TCU had considered wearing the uniforms for the bowl game even before playing Utah as the debut of the uniforms. It was talked about that if the Utah game went well and the team won, they'd consider breaking them out for a big bowl game. So that's what they are doing.

As for 2010, nothing has been decided yet. Could TCU end up wearing them for home games next year? Sure. But the original agreement was "special occasions," of which the Utah game and the Fiesta Bowl qualify. So I imagine TCU would have to come to another agreement with Nike. And I wonder if they want to use an entirely different helmet for home and away games. Very few schools do that now. But the players love the jersey and really went crazy when they saw it for the first time before the Utah game.

Here's my thinking: Just wear the jersey every once in a while. That's what makes it special. Wear it for the Oregon State game at Cowboys Stadium. Maybe for the BYU home game. Big games. But don't abandon the regular purple uniforms at home completely. That's just me.

What do you think?

TCU selling season highlights DVD

December, 29, 2009
12/29/09
1:37
PM CT
The TCU bookstore is taking orders for Season for the Ages, a commemorative DVD detailing the Horned Frogs' 2009 season.

The DVD will sell for $19.95 and include highlights from all 13 games, including the upcoming Fiesta Bowl.

The DVD also will include interviews with Gary Patterson and players as well as behind-the-scenes footage.

Programming note: TCU on the air

December, 28, 2009
12/28/09
9:00
AM CT
ESPN 103.3 FM and WBAP-AM 820, which includes TCU play-by-play voice Brian Estridge, will have plenty of TCU talk leading up to the Fiesta Bowl.

Galloway & Company will air a live TCU Bowl Special featuring TCU players on Wednesday. Here's the schedule (courtesy of TCU):

Wednesday, Dec. 30
5 a.m. - 8:30 a.m. - WBAP-AM 820 - Morning News (Brian Estridge)
2 p.m. - 5 p.m. - ESPN 103.3 FM - Galloway & Company
5 p.m. - 6:15 p.m. - ESPN 103.3 FM - TCU Bowl Special featuring Horned Frog players

Thursday, Dec. 31
5 a.m. - 8:30 a.m. - WBAP-AM 820 - Morning News (Brian Estridge)
2 p.m. - 5 p.m. - ESPN 103.3 FM - Galloway & Company

Friday, Jan. 1
2 p.m. - 3:15 p.m. - ESPN 103.3 FM - Re-air of TCU Bowl Special featuring Horned Frog players

Saturday, Jan. 2
10 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. - ESPN 103.3 - Live reports during Cotton Bowl pre-game show

Sunday, Jan. 3
Live from the Kierland Commons TCU Pep Rally
6 p.m. - 7 p.m. - ESPN 103.3 FM and KTCU 88.7 FM - Compass Bank TCU Fiesta Bowl Special in conjunction with TCU's Pep Rally

Monday, Jan. 4
Live from the Westin Kierland
5 a.m. - 8:30 a.m. - WBAP-AM 820 - Morning News (Brian Estridge and Hal Jay)
2 p.m. - 5:30 p.m. - ESPN 103.3 FM - Live reports during Galloway and Company
6 p.m. - ESPN 103.3 FM, KTCU 88.7 FM, KNTH-AM 1070 Houston - TCU Pre-Game Show
7 p.m. - Kickoff

Tuesday, Jan. 5
5 a.m. - 8:30 a.m. - WBAP-AM 820 - Morning News (Brian Estridge and Hal Jay)

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