As the college football season comes to a close, fans are starting to gain clarity as to when and where their team will be playing this postseason. While BCS contenders have been grabbing headlines, the Horned Frogs inched closer to another 10-win season thanks to Saturday’s 45-14 road win against the Colorado State Rams.
The solid play of senior quarterback Jeff Ballard coupled with the career day of sophomore running back Aaron Brown led a unit that accumulated more than 600 yards of total offense.
Ballard finished 17 of 25 for 238 yards and three total touchdowns. Brown had a career-best 166 yards on 14 carries to go with three rushing touchdowns.
As it has been throughout the season, the defense only allowed 34 yards on the ground on 18 carries – less than two yards per carry.
The team, led by sophomore linebacker Robert Henson’s six tackles, improved on its nationally ranked rush defense by passing the Miami Hurricanes and moving to No. 3 in rush defense.
Heading into the last game of the regular season, the team is allowing less than 65 yards a game on the ground.
The win catapulted the team one step closer to re-entry into the top 25 polls. The USA Today poll has TCU at No. 26, while the AP poll has the team at No. 27.
Although the rankings might be lower than they were several weeks back, the team’s current six-game winning streak has silenced the team’s critics after the back to back losses to BYU and Utah earlier in the season.
“We are still the same No. 15-ranked team that everyone voted for seven or eight weeks ago,” head coach Gary Patterson said.
Patterson said although the team would love to have a crack at BYU or Utah at this point in the season again, “you can’t always get a ‘get-out-of-jail-free’ card.”
“It’s like the Ohio State/Michigan game,” Patterson said. “Second chances aren’t always there.”
With the victory at Colorado State and Utah’s last-second loss to BYU, the Horned Frogs all but clinched second place in the Mountain West Conference – BYU took first place.
A win this weekend against Air Force in the final game of the regular season will officially clinch second. Patterson said the team controlled its own destiny in its win against Colorado State.
In addition to the second-place conference finish, the Horned Frogs accepted an invite to the second-annual Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego, Calif., to be played Dec. 19.
The bowl, sponsored by San Diego County Credit Union, will pit TCU against a team considered an “at-large” bid.
It is the first bowl of the bowl season, and will give the team four days between the Friday of finals week and its bowl game.
When questioned about the quality of the bowl, Patterson said he’s never been to a bad bowl game and is looking forward to the game.