TCU Once Again Poised for BCS-Buster Role

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Quarterback Andy Dalton #14 of the TCU Horned Frogs.

    TCU coach Gary Patterson had a simple and brief message for his Horned Frogs about still being undefeated halfway through what they hope will be their BCS-busting season.

    "Congratulations, great job. You guys know what's ahead of you, I don't need to tell you anything," Patterson told the Frogs after their 44-6 victory over Colorado State. "Everything had to lead up to BYU."

    While the Horned Frogs (6-0, 2-0 Mountain West) moved back into the top 10 of The Associated Press poll Sunday with a two-spot jump from 12th, and were eighth in the first Bowl Championship Series standings, they had already turned their attention to Saturday's game at BYU (6-1, 3-0). The Cougars are 16th in both the AP poll and the BCS standings.

    "No thoughts," Patterson said, when asked about the BCS standings. "We're in the top 10. We're playing BYU. If we don't win this ballgame, it doesn't make any difference anyway."

    All the rankings mean little right now for TCU. Without beating revenge-minded BYU, the Frogs' initial goal of winning the Mountain West title could be busted -- and their more lofty aspirations out of reach as well.

    "BYU, that's what I'm focused on," said Jeremy Kerley, who sparked the Frogs' last two home victories by returning punts for touchdowns.

    At least the Frogs, whose eight-game winning streak is surpassed by only Florida (16), Iowa (11) and Texas (10), are still in position for their bigger goals.

    Boise State (6-0) is the only team from another non-BCS conference ranked higher, fourth behind Florida, Alabama and Texas in the initial BCS standings. If TCU and Boise both finish in the top 12, there is only one guaranteed spot in one of the major bowls. Both could be picked, but that is highly unlikely.

    While the AP Top 25 doesn't factor into the BCS standings, the Horned Frogs are ranked higher in the polls that do while still trailing Boise in both. TCU is seventh in the USA Today coaches poll, two spots below Boise, and eighth in the Harris Interactive poll, three spots lower.

    "I don't understand how it works, the numbers or the computers, whatever," defensive end Jerry Hughes said. "We can't really worry too much about what the BCS says about us. We've just got to go out there and perform and try to win games."

    TCU is the lowest ranked of the seven remaining undefeated teams in the AP poll -- behind Alabama, Florida, Texas, Cincinnati, Boise and No. 7 Iowa.

    The Frogs last season beat then-No. 9 BYU 32-7, their most lopsided victory ever over a top-10 team while snapping the Cougars' 16-game winning streak that was then the longest in major college football. That came two years after BYU won at TCU to end the Frogs' 13-game streak that was then the longest.

    But TCU failed to parlay that win over BYU into a conference title because of a later loss to Utah. The Frogs get their shot to settle the score with the No. 19 Utes, the original and only two-time BCS buster, next month.

    "One thing we've got to do is win a conference championship," said Hughes, who has eight sacks. "That's our No. 1 goal right now."

    Kerley's 69-yard punt return just before halftime Saturday gave the Frogs a 17-6 lead, and came less than 2½ minutes after Joseph Turner's 2-yard touchdown run finally put them ahead.

    Colorado State (3-4, 0-3) led 6-0 after kicking field goals on its first two drives, the second coming four plays after a fumble by TCU, which didn't get a first down until the last play of the first quarter.

    After Kerley's return, the Frogs scored on their first four drives of the second half, including all three possessions in the third quarter before quarterback Andy Dalton and most of the starters came out of the game.

    "All we care about is seeing the uniqueness of every season, and sometimes some people try to overshadow it," Patterson said. "Sometimes we get all wrapped up in all of that stuff. It's still about the kids. ... They've done everything everybody's asked to do so far."