GREENVILLE, North Carolina (Ticker) -- In the national rankings for the first time since December 2000, No. 22 Texas Christian looks to extend its winning streak to nine games Saturday when it visits East Carolina in a Conference USA contest.
The Horned Frogs (8-1, 5-1) can clinch a share of the Conference USA title and move closer to their first outright league championship since winning the Southwest Conference in 1958.
TCU, which was idle last week, has a one-game lead over Louisville, Southern Mississippi, Cincinnati and Alabama-Birmingham. The Horned Frogs last shared a conference crown two years ago when they were 7-1 in the Western Athletic Conference.
TCU has not lost since suffering a season-opening 36-29 overtime setback to Cincinnati and has won 10 of its last 11 regular season contests.
TCU, which is seeking a school-record fifth straight bowl appearance, will be headed to the Liberty Bowl if it stays on top of Conference USA.
The Horned Frogs' success this year can be traced to a run defense that ranks first in the nation, allowing only 58.2 yards per game. They are second in overall defense, yielding 247.0 yards per contest - just three more than Alabama.
During its winning streak, TCU is surrendering an average of just 226 yards. They have held their last eight opponents under 300 yards after giving up 409 in the loss at Cincinnati.
TCU has been off since posting a 17-10 win over Tulane on November 9. The Horned Frogs set a school record by holding the Green Wave to minus-53 yards rushing.
East Carolina (3-2, 3-6) needs a win to stay in the Conference USA race. The Pirates are coming off a 36-29 setback to UAB in which freshman Darrel Hackney become just the third Blazers' quarterback to pass for more than 400 yards.
East Carolina squandered a 29-17 lead and suffered its third loss in four games.
The teams are meeting for only the third time with each winning once. TCU posted a 28-14 in the 1999 Mobile Alabama Bowl, while East Carolina registered a 37-30 victory last season despite rushing for minus-16 yards.