The Horned Frogs' dominant performance Thursday, beating up on BYU 32-7, proved TCU belonged in that conversation all along. The Frogs systematically shut down Max Hall and the high-powered Cougar offense. The loss most likely means the end for Hall's Heisman hopes and BYU's BCS chance.
TCU held BYU to 297 yards, down from the Cougars' 452.7 average. The Frogs defense set the tone of the game early. On the first drive of the game, Jerry Hughes sacked Hall, forcing a fumble which TCU recovered. TCU scored in two plays, and then the defense stopped BYU on three plays.
The Cougars caught a break on their second punt, when Corderra Hunter accidentally touched the football and BYU recovered on the TCU 37. BYU could have scored and tied the game, which would have been a huge momentum swing. BYU ran four plays and couldn't get a first down, giving the ball up on downs. Andy Dalton and Jeremy Kerley traded snaps at quarterback on the ensuing drive, and the Frogs went up 14-0.
TCU's defense played well all game, but stopping BYU early was important for the Frogs. In TCU's other game against a Top-10 team this year, the Frogs made mistakes in the first quarter. Then-No. 2 ranked Oklahoma took advantage and torched TCU early, scoring 21 points in the first quarter on the way to a 35-10 win in Norman. Sam Bradford had almost 200 yards passing in the first quarter. The TCU defense settled down, but the damage was already done.
On Tuesday, TCU linebacker Jason Philips said the defense was too excited before playing Oklahoma. He said they needed to play with high motion against BYU but not be too keyed up. Everyone doing his job would lead to success according to Philips. That's exactly what the Frogs did.
The game was never close. The way the Frogs came out and executed was almost anti-climactic. At no point did it seem BYU had any control. TCU intercepted Hall twice and sacked him seven times (Hall had been sacked two times all season entering the game).
So what does the win mean for the TCU program? The effect can already be seen in the polls. Entering the game, the Frogs were sitting at No. 24 in the Coaches' poll. TCU wasn't even included in the AP Top 25. Sunday, the Frogs leaped up to No. 15 in both. The win brings a positive national spotlight to the team for the first time this year. It also proves TCU is on of the elite teams in the Mountain West. The way TCU won, with incredible defense play, shows the Frogs defense is one of the best in the nation, not just statistically.
The win also puts the Frogs on a collision course with Utah. The showdown with the Utes on the sixth of November should feature two Mountain West Conference undefeated teams ranked in the top 15. Utah's offense will be another big test for the TCU defense. The Utes have put up more than 30 points in seven out of eight games this year. The Frogs will have to go on the road and play with passion without getting too excited. But first, TCU must focus on Wyoming and UNLV. In the words of Jason Philips and Gary Patterson, "one game at a time."