This season, head football coach Gary Patterson put a pyramid on the wall in the team room before fall camp the same way he did last season. Even though the Frogs reached the Fiesta Bowl last season, the first postseason goal on the pyramid is to win the Mountain West Conference.
TCU won the conference last season with an unblemished 8-0 record in conference play. The closest the Frogs came to a loss was a 20-17 win at Air Force played in single-digit temperatures. Other than that, no conference team came within 27 points of upsetting TCU.
The Rams beat Idaho 36-34 last week to snap a 12-game losing streak, the third-longest in the nation. True freshman quarterback Pete Thomas had career day against the Vandals when he threw for 386 yards and three touchdowns.
On the opposite end of the spectrum of Air Force, the Cowboys feature a rushing offense that ranks in bottom-five in the nation, gaining 61.75 per game on the ground. Quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels won MWC Freshman of the Year honors last season, but has already been intercepted four times in as many games this year. Linebacker Shamiel Gary leads the conference with 48 tackles.
The Cougars lost players in the top three in passing, rushing and receiving in school history after this past season, so true freshman Jake Heaps was forced into the starting role at quarterback. Heaps became the first true freshman right out of high school to start for BYU since 1997.
Owners of the nation’s top rushing offense, the Falcons play TCU at Amon G. Carter Stadium this season. Running back Jared Tew has led the charge with 371 yards and two touchdowns. Air Force’s only loss was a three-point defeat to No. 8 Oklahoma.
Bobby Hauck spent the last seven seasons compiling the most wins of any Football Championship Subdivision coach before he was named the Running Rebels’ head coach this season. Cornerback Will Chandler leads the MWC with three interceptions.
No. 13 Utah
The only ranked team in the MWC other than TCU, the Utes have an MWC record 20-game home winning streak and play the Frogs in Salt Lake City this season. TCU has never won a game against Utah in Salt Lake City.
San Diego State
At 3-1, the Aztecs are off to their best start since 1981. San Diego State’s only loss came at Missouri on a Tigers touchdown in the game’s last minute. SDSU freshman running back Ronnie Hillman has won conference Offensive Player of the Week award twice in the season’s first four weeks and has run for 532 yards and eight touchdowns this season.
The Lobos have won just once of their past 16 games and have been outscored 225-41 this season. New Mexico finished fourth in the conference in 2007, but since then has won just three conference games. The Lobos became the third team in the conference to start a true freshman quarterback this season when Tarean Austin started last week and completed 17 passes for 177 yards.
TCU vs. Colorado State
Date: Oct. 2
Location: Fort Collins, Colo.
Time: 1 p.m. CST
Broadcast: The Mtn.HD
Radio: WBAP 820 AM and 96.7 FM; KTCU 88.7 FM