FORT WORTH, Texas -- No. 4 TCU's victory over BYU was secure when Frogs coach Gary Patterson decided to go for it on fourth down late in the game Saturday.
Andy Dalton threw for a touchdown -- his fourth of the game -- instead of just a first down that would have kept the clock moving, so the first question for Patterson after the 31-3 victory was obvious.
Style points? No, he said. And it wasn't a casting call either.
"Sometimes I think the whole ranking thing is like 'Days of our Lives,'" Patterson said. "These two people are going to have an affair with these so we can get everyone over here mad. Then we're going to flip-flop it so that everybody that watched the show isn't happy. It's become a drama deal. I'm going to let everybody else do it."
His Frogs (7-0, 3-0 Mountain West) needed a little makeup with two minutes left in the half, leading just 3-0 before Dalton threw a pair of scoring passes in barely more than a minute to give TCU some breathing room at halftime.
Then again, the Frogs probably weren't in much danger because the defense narrowly missed its third consecutive shutout, settling instead for a touchdown-free stretch that is now almost 13 quarters long going into a showdown with No. 23 Air Force next weekend.
The BCS talk came up because the first rankings are released Sunday, and Frogs put away the Cougars (2-5, 1-2) and freshman quarterback Jake Heaps about the same time No. 5 Nebraska was losing to Texas. Last year's BCS busters have watched a top 5 team lose each of the past two weeks.
"It doesn't matter right now," said Dalton, who was 24 of 36 for 273 yards and has completed 75 percent of his passes with 10 touchdowns and no interceptions in four home games. "It's cool to see that we have a shot, but it doesn't matter what people are saying right now. We'll see what they're saying in November, December."
TCU took control after Stansly Maponga sacked Heaps, forcing the Cougars to punt from their 4. Given good field position, Dalton found Josh Boyce on a 35-yard score two plays later.
The Frogs got the ball right back on an interception, and Dalton hit a wide-open Jimmy Young in the end zone for a 14-yard score that made it 17-0 with 26 seconds left in the half.
"The wheels came off a little bit," BYU linebacker Brandon Ogletree said.
The Cougars had just 14 total yards in the first half but ended TCU's shutout streak at 10 quarters, crossing midfield for the first time on a 70-yard drive to a short field goal late in the third. BYU finished with 147 total yards, the third straight time and fourth overall that TCU's nation-leading defense held an opponent to less than 200 yards.
Heaps didn't get much help from a running game that had minus-1 yard at halftime, and he finished 14 of 30 for 91 yards with two interceptions.
"He's going to grow up and he's going to be a really good player. But he's playing on the road and there are lot of things going on," Patterson said.
The Frogs weren't much better offensively most of the first half. They finally broke through late in the first quarter thanks to a short field, with Dalton's 20-yard run -- his 20th first-down run of the season -- setting up a short field goal.
The Frogs padded the lead in the fourth quarter, just as they did two weeks ago when they led Colorado State 6-0 at halftime before winning 27-0. This time, it was a pair of Dalton touchdown passes, starting with the second Dalton-to-Boyce connection -- a 20-yard pass where Boyce avoided a defender at the 10 and stretched the ball across the goal line as he was being tackled.
Then came the 21-yard capper to Jeremy Kerley, who ran under Dalton's throw to the end zone on fourth-and-3 with 4:26 remaining.
"I thought the emotion was a little bit low coming in," Patterson said. "There are lot of things on my wish list for Christmas, but that doesn't mean I was going to get it."
BYU's longest current losing streak against a Mountain West opponent is now at three, by a combined score of 101-17. BYU might not get another crack at TCU for some time, because the Cougars are going independent after this season.
"I was disappointed that the game wasn't closer," BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall said. "I think it could have been."
The Cougars kept TCU close early with several hard hits in the first half, including a blind-side sack of Dalton by Corby Eason that knocked the Frogs out of field goal range.
Tanner Brock led the Frogs with 11 tackles, including a stuff of BYU running back Bryan Kariya for a 1-yard loss on fourth-and-1 from the BYU 47 on the first series of the second half.