LAS VEGAS &- Just a few miles away from the bright lights of the Las Vegas strip, the Horned Frogs continued to shine as they improved to 9-0 with a 48-6 win over UNLV at Sam Boyd Stadium.
For the fifth straight game the TCU defense kept its opponent from reaching double figures in points and held UNLV to 197 yards. Horned Frog defensive backs intercepted Rebels quarterback Omar Clayton twice.
Despite three fumbles, two of which the Rebels recovered, TCU’s offense held the ball for more than half the game and gained 530 yards. Quarterback Andy Dalton led the Frogs, going 16 of 23 for 252 yards and a touchdown in addition for rushing for two scores.
Head Coach Gary Patterson admitted that even when the Frogs play well, he can find the negatives in their game.
“We fumbled. Defensively we let them go right down the field running the football on us, using play action,” Patterson said. “As a general rule I’m not very happy during the game.”
The Frogs started the game with a dominating drive on which the only third down they faced was on Jeremy Kerley’s five-yard touchdown run. Ed Wesley added his 10th rushing touchdown on the first play of the second quarter, followed exactly one minute later by a 30-yard interception return for a touchdown by Colin Jones.
The Rebels got on the board next after putting together a nine play, 75-yard drive that culminated with a 10-yard touchdown pass from Omar Clayton to Michael Johnson, but Nolan Kohorst missed the extra point.
UNLV kept the score at 21-6 until an attempted fake punt late in the second quarter gave TCU the ball and the momentum back with enough time to score one more time before the intermission on an Andy Dalton one-yard sneak.
Dalton threw for two touchdowns in the second half, including a third quarter, 54-yard strike to Josh Boyce that was TCU’s longest play from scrimmage this season.
Dalton threw for 252 yards and two touchdowns, while running for 35 yards and another score. The Frogs ran for 273 yards, but the highest individual total on the team was Wesley’s 64 yards on 13 carries.
Second half scoring aside, Patterson said style points were not on his mind.
“(Tonight) wasn’t about scoring points, it was about shortening the game,” Patterson said. “You guys see how we’re always going to do it. We’re going to take a knee and go about our business.”
For UNLV, Clayton finished with 128 passing yards and a touchdown, while the Rebels used four different ball-carriers to gain 69 yards on 24 carries.
Penalties hurt the Rebels all night, as UNLV helped extend Frog drives and cut short its own. The Rebels committed 8 penalties for 83 yards, while TCU committed just 2 for 30.
Casey Pachall relieved Dalton of his quarterback duties with 12 minutes left in the fourth quarter and rushed for his first career touchdown.
After both TCU and Utah stayed undefeated Saturday, it set up a match-up of two undefeated, top ten teams in Salt Lake City.
“I think we’ve got a chance for GameDay. People know about Utah, they know about TCU. What would you want any different,” Patterson said. “We understand what kind of football team they have, how talented they are and we understand that we’ve got to go play a good ballgame.”
The Frogs and the Utes square off Nov. 6 at 2:30 p.m.