When the BYU defense stifled the normally prolific TCU run game on Saturday, the Horned Frogs’ passing game and defense picked up the slack to extend No. 5 TCU’s school record to 20 consecutive regular season victories.
The 31-3 win over the Cougars improved the Horned Frogs’ record to 7-0 overall (3-0 Mountain West Conference) for the second straight season and extended the team’s home winning streak to a school record of 18.
Even though the Cougar defense held the Frogs to a season-low 108 yards rushing, the TCU defense kept the Cougars (2-5, 1-2 MWC) from gaining any momentum by allowing BYU only 147 yards of total offense. It was the third straight game in which the defense allowed fewer than 200 yards of total offense.
“There’s some pride about what we’ve done [on defense],” TCU head coach Gary Patterson said. “I thought they had more purpose today going on the field than they did last week [against Wyoming].”
After a slow offensive start, quarterback Andy Dalton threw two touchdown passes near the end of the second quarter to give the Frogs a 17-0 halftime lead. He threw two more in the second half, marking the third time in his TCU career that he threw for three touchdowns in a game.
Dalton, TCU’s all-time leader in completions, also threw his 700th career completion with a first quarter pass to Bart Johnson.
Two of Dalton’s touchdowns went to freshman wide receiver Josh Boyce, who finished the day with a career-best eight receptions for 127-yards. Boyce’s eight catches were the most in a game for a TCU receiver since Donald Massey caught eight against BYU in 2006.
“[Boyce] has done a great job. He’s a really explosive player,” Dalton said. “Getting him the ball, he can make some big plays, and he did that [Saturday].”
On defense, the Horned Frogs shutout streak of 175 minutes ended when BYU’s Mitch Payne kicked a 27-yard field goal with 1:14 left in the third quarter. That field goal also meant that the defense gave up its first points in MWC play this season.
Safety Tejay Johnson, who caught his second interception of the season in the third quarter, said that there was always room for the defense to get better even after its fast start in conference play.
“I feel like we have grown and improved tremendously [since the start of the season], and we’re starting to really hunt together,” Johnson said. “It’s just been a great progression, and I feel like we still have room to grow to get to where we’re going.”
TCU will face Air Force this week at home. The Falcons (5-2, 3-1 MWC) were ranked No. 23 before losing 27-25 to San Diego State (4-2, 1-1 MWC) last Saturday.
Air Force ranks first in the nation in rushing and will go up against the highly-ranked TCU defense.
“Preparation for Air Force is always going to be different than preparing for any other team just because they do run the triple [option] that most people don’t run these days,” Johnson said. “Our coaching staff did a great job with just preparing us and coming up with a game plan.”
Patterson said the most important part of TCU’s next three games, including a trip to UNLV and No. 9 Utah, was to just find a way to win. He mentioned Air Force’s rushing game and ball possession as key factors against the Falcons.
“Air Force can run the ball all day long if you don’t stop it,” Patterson said. “And if we don’t control the ball and score more points than what we did [against BYU] and how we did things, then we’re gonna be in a lot of trouble.”