TCU eyes BYU before BCS

PROVO, Utah — TCU can’t reach the BCS without a win over BYU.

With all those letters, it almost sounds like an algebra equation with an answer that may not be reached for another month. But at least part of it will be solved today when No. 10 Texas Christian visits 16th-ranked Brigham Young.

The Horned Frogs (6-0, 2-0) are the only unbeaten team left in the Mountain West Conference and are trying to remain in contention for a Bowl Championship Series berth, knowing that it only takes one loss to knock them out of the running.

Sound familiar? BYU was in a nearly identical position a year ago entering a highly anticipated showdown that ended up being a 32-7 rout for TCU.

The Cougars (6-1, 3-0) haven’t forgotten the humbling trip to Texas and how it derailed BYU’s best start in seven years.

“I learned a lot of things,” BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall said. “I remember how I was feeling going into the game that some of the attention was starting to affect not only myself as a coach but our players. And I think we had maybe a false sense of security that we were a little better than what we were.”

The game was on a Thursday night, so the Cougars’ poor performance and the way the Frogs dominated — with quarterback Andy Dalton completing 12 of 19 passes for 173 yards and two touchdowns — got plenty of TV airtime. The rematch has been widely tabbed as the game of the week — nationally, not just in the Mountain West.

“I won’t even have to talk about how important BYU is. They know what this game is about,” TCU coach Gary Patterson said. “Our job will be to keep them more grounded than it will be to get them fired up.”

BYU welcomes the exposure and chance to atone for last year’s loss at TCU and the Cougars’ only blemish on this season, which was a big one. Florida State essentially ended the Cougars’ BCS aspirations with a 54-28 win in Provo on Sept. 19.

“We’ve had games in the past when we’ve played well in the spotlight, and we’ve had games when we haven’t played well. We’re trying to build a great program where we consistently can win big games and constantly compete and win conference championships,” BYU quarterback Max Hall said. “This game is a big step in both of those directions. I don’t think it’s kind of like a do-or-die for us right now, but it is a big game.”

It’s especially big for Hall, a senior who wants to end his college career with a second Mountain West title in three years. The Frogs flustered Hall last year, sacking him six times and intercepting two of his passes. He also fumbled on the opening drive, and TCU quickly converted the turnover into a touchdown.

TCU scored the first 26 points, and the Cougars never recovered.

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