77F Amon G. Carter Stadium, Fort Worth, TX
An upset over a familiar top 5 foe last weekend has left TCU in prime position to capture the Mountain West title in its final season in the conference.
The No. 19 Horned Frogs can claim a share of their third straight league title with an eighth consecutive victory over visiting Colorado State on Saturday.
TCU (8-2, 5-0) moved back into the Top 25 after pulling off a stunning 36-35 victory at then-No. 5 Boise State last Saturday for its fifth straight win.
In a wild game between BCS party crashers who met in bowl games two of the last three seasons, TCU pulled within a point when Casey Pachall hit Brandon Carter with a 25-yard touchdown pass with 1:05 remaining.
Instead of going for the tie, coach Gary Patterson went for the win and succeeded when Josh Boyce took a Pachall pass and fought his way into the end zone for the lead.
However, after keeping its final drive alive thanks to a pass interference call against TCU, Boise State had a chance to win. Dan Goodale's 39-yard field goal attempt, though, missed wide right as time expired to hand the Broncos their first loss.
The defeat ended Boise State's national title hopes and opened the door for the Horned Frogs to claim the league title in their final season before joining the Big 12. TCU has won 22 straight Mountain West games since losing 13-10 at Utah on Nov. 16, 2008.
"It really brings a relief because we've been fighting hard all year, especially in the fourth quarter," said Pachall, who set career highs with 473 passing yards and five TDs. "Now that we actually pulled one off, it's a lot of relief. It gives us a lot of motivation and confidence."
The Horned Frogs hope to use that motivation and confidence to win their final two games at home against Colorado State (3-6, 1-3) and UNLV.
"We have two left to win a conference title," Patterson told TCU's official website. "We need to win one out of two to win a part of it. To give ourselves a chance to do anything else as far as a BCS bowl, we have to win these ballgames.
"You have to control your own business and go win."
Though the Horned Frogs again have a chance to earn a BCS bowl bid, their present focus will be on trying to continue their recent success against the Rams. TCU has outscored Colorado State 203-48 during its seven-game winning streak in the series, which includes all three contests played in Fort Worth.
Trying to avoid a sixth consecutive loss overall, Colorado State is looking for its first win over TCU since a 42-21 home victory Oct. 24, 1998.
Boyce, who set career highs with 163 receiving yards and three touchdowns last Saturday, had four receptions for 44 yards in a 27-0 win at Colorado State in 2010.
Despite his team's current run of success and dominance over the Rams, Patterson wants to make sure TCU is prepared to avoid being on the wrong side of an upset this week.
"(Colorado State) keeps getting better and better," Patterson said. "They are more physical. We have to be ready to play. They'll come ready to play us."
The Horned Frogs likely will need to contain sophomore Chris Nwoke, who rushed 22 times for 232 yards and a touchdown in last Saturday's 18-15 home loss to San Diego State.
Nwoke, who accounted for all but 55 of his team's total yardage last weekend, has rushed for 481 yards and averaged 7.1 per carry over his last three games.
It's uncertain who will be handing him the ball with starting quarterback Pete Thomas day-to-day with a knee injury. Freshman Garrett Grayson, who went 6 of 15 for 26 yards and an interception in relief against San Diego State, could make his first career start.