Frogs one step away from perfect season

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    The Frogs’ 45-10 victory over Wyoming on Saturday helped them clinch at least a share of the Mountain West Conference championship while putting them one triumph away from completing a flawless regular season. What the win didn’t do – for the second consecutive week – was move the team up from its No. 4 position in the BCS rankings.

    Nine of the top 10 teams retained their ranking from the previous week. As dominant as the Frogs were in Laramie, the three teams ahead of them in the rankings – Florida, Alabama and Texas – won just as impressively, if not more so, than the guys in purple. The top four teams in the BCS outscored their opponents 203 to 33 Saturday.

    But head coach Gary Patterson said consistency is the only way to change the country’s perception of TCU football.

    “I’ve said it doesn’t do me any good to go out and complain about it,” Patterson said of the BCS system after Saturday’s win. “My best way of doing it … since I’ve been here and what we try to do at TCU, is just go win until people figure out that we’ve got a good enough football team on a year-to-year basis and we can play with anybody.”

    Still playing for bowl eligibility, the Cowboys (5-6) came into Saturday’s game with two chances remaining to reach the all-important six-win mark. But the Frogs seemed determined to make sure the Cowboys’ chance to become bowl eligible would come down to their game against Colorado State next Saturday.

    “We did what we needed to do today,” Patterson said. “It could have been worse, but I have a lot of respect for the Wyoming Cowboys and the job they are doing right now.”

    The Frogs came out on offense testing the Cowboys through the air, but after three unsuccessful pass attempts to begin the game the Frogs made an effort to keep the ball on the ground for the majority of the contest.

    With a starting field position inside Cowboy territory during their third possession, the Frogs put the first points of the game on the board after a 22-yard reception by Jimmy Young, an Andy Dalton run to the 3-yard line and a Matthew Tucker touchdown run on the next play.

    The Frogs gained 339 yards on the ground, making it the fourth game in a row the team has surpassed the 300-yard rushing mark. The offense totaled 507 yards, clearing the 500-yard mark for the fourth game in a row as well.

    “We’ve got a lot of different guys that are doing an outstanding job in the running game,” Dalton said. “We’ve got three backs that are just so explosive and the offensive line has been doing a heck of a job.”

    Despite falling behind early, the Cowboys kept the game from getting out of hand when they answered on the very next series.

    After three three-and-outs to begin the game, the Cowboys found a gap in the Frogs’ secondary on two separate occasions to drive the ball down to the TCU 4-yard line. Wyoming quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels appeared to have an open lane to the end zone on a roll out on third down from the 1-yard line, but threw low and incomplete to a wide open Greg Genho. Wyoming settled for a field goal, cutting the Frogs’ lead to 7-3.

    Turning the ball over, a problem the Frogs had last week in their win over Utah, was an issue that continued to plague the Frogs on Saturday.

    Up 10-3 in the second quarter and knocking on the Cowboys’ door, safety Chris Prosinski returned an Ed Wesley fumble 98 yards for a touchdown to tie the game.

    “It’s tough to win ball games when you turn the ball over,” Dalton said. “We were lucky today to come out on top but that’s one thing we will really focus on and try to eliminate.”

    But the tie lasted all of 16 seconds as TCU’s Greg McCoy returned the following kickoff 81 yards to reclaim the lead for the Frogs for good.

    Jeremy Kerley, who injured himself on TCU’s second offensive series, didn’t look hurt near the end of the second quarter when he hauled in a pass from Dalton and took it 45 yards for the score to put the team up 24-10. After the game, Patterson said Kerley was fine.

    The Cowboys’ first turnover of the day, a fumble by running back Brandon Stewart on Wyoming’s own 23-yard line, helped TCU secure its first point of the second half when Joseph Turner ran the ball in from 5 yards out.

    The turnovers kept coming as TCU then took advantage of a Carta-Samuels interception to score again just minutes later on another Tucker rush, this time from 48 yards out to make the score 38-10.

    With the score at 45-10 at the beginning of the fourth quarter, Patterson replaced Dalton with Marcus Jackson and replaced several other starters on both sides of the ball.

    Dalton finished the day having completed 10 of 19 passes for 168 yards with one touchdown and one interception. He also tallied 88 yards on 12 carries on the ground.

    The Frogs’ defense allowed 178 total yards on 55 Wyoming plays. The Cowboys averaged 2.3 yards per carry on the ground. Wyoming had nine three-and-out drives, more than twice the number of drives that had more than three plays.

    “We gave up 28 points (against Utah)…something we don’t like to do,” said defensive end Jerry Hughes. “We pride ourselves on being stingy out there.”

    With the win, the Frogs’ senior class tied last year’s seniors as the winningest class in school history. That mark could be eclipsed next Saturday in Fort Worth when the Frogs take on New Mexico in the regular season finale.

    Game notes:

    TCU was not called for a single penalty

    The Frogs are 11-0 for the first time since 1938, the year they won the national championship

    Game-time temperature in the snow-covered city of Laramie was announced as 31 degrees

    The announced attendance at War Memorial Stadium was 15,031

    Jonah Field sits more than a mile above sea level. A sign on the east side of the stadium reads, “Welcome to 7220 Feet”

    The Cowboy defense forced four TCU turnovers in the game