The No. 4 Horned Frogs are leaving the Dallas-Fort Worth area for just the second time this season to take on the UNLV Rebels on Saturday.
The Rebels have a 1-6 season record under first-year head football coach Bobby Hauck, and rank near the bottom nationally of almost every offensive and defensive category.
UNLV hasn’t beaten TCU since the Frogs joined the Mountain West Conference in 2005, but the Rebels have had a week off to prepare for the No. 4 Horned Frogs. Head football coach Gary Patterson said the off-week is big for UNLV.
“I think the advantage always goes to teams that have off-weeks in the middle of the season, because you get the chance to clear your mind,” Patterson said. “We understand we have a hard task at hand. We’ve got to do something about it, get ourselves ready and find a way to get to 9-0.”
TCU is coming of a 38-7 win over Air Force. The Frogs held the nation’s best rushing attack to just 184 yards, Air Force’s lowest of the season. Sophomore running back Ed Wesley had a career-high 209 yards and two touchdowns.
The Frogs moved to fourth in the BCS standings behind an efficient offense and the nation’s best defense. TCU has outscored opponents 141-10 in four conference games this season.
With No. 8 Utah looming the week after, it may be easy to understand how the Horned Frogs could overlook the Rebels, but Patterson said his players are focused.
“I don’t even have to talk to them about it. I haven’t even heard it come up, to be honest with you,” Patterson said.
Just because UNLV has struggled this season doesn’t mean the team is without talent. Patterson said UNLV always has good skill players, including senior quarterback Omar Clayton and junior wide receiver Phillip Payne, who Patterson said is one of the best in the conference
In last year’s contest, then-sophomore wide receiver Antoine Hicks scored on a 75-yard touchdown pass with no right shoe, a play that symbolized the ease of the Horned Frogs’ 41-0 victory. The Frogs had 578 yards of total offense, while the defense held UNLV just 160 yards.
Three of the Frogs’ past four games are on the road, something Patterson said will be important in the last stretch of the season.
“When you don’t take as big of a crowd with you, you’ve got to take your own energy on the road, Patterson said. “That’s how you win championships.”
If TCU wins, there could be a possibility of going up in the BCS standings. Auburn and Oregon, the top two teams, play difficult conference games and No. 5 Michigan State plays conference foe No. 18 Iowa.
TCU football vs. UNLV
When: 10 p.m. CT Saturday
Location: Las Vegas, Nev.
Television: CBS College Sports
Radio: WBAP 820 AM and 96.7 FM; KTCU 88.7 FM