TCU blows past Rebels, 44-14

UNLV proved a week ago that it has made some big strides in closing the gap with longtime Mountain West Conference power BYU, But as the Rebels found out on Saturday night at Sam Boyd Stadium, they still have a long, long ways to go to catch up with another league heavyweight, TCU.

The 12th-rated Horned Frogs (9-1, 6-0), who came into the game with the No. 2 scoring defense in the nation behind only USC, were simply too fast and too strong for the Rebels (3-6, 0-5) and cruised to an easy 44-14 victory before a crowd of 16,121.

UNLV, which lost starting quarterback Omar Clayton to a right knee injury early in the third quarter, managed just 175 yards in total offense and 12 first downs against the Horned Frogs, and 58 of those yards coming on a run by backup tailback Channing Trotter against TCU's backups.

"I think they are the best football team we have played," UNLV coach Mike Sanford said. "They have an excellent defense."

The Rebels, who have now lost five games in a row, played without starting wide receiver Phillip Payne (concussion) and starting defensive end Thor Pili (ankle). They were already trailing, 24-7, when Clayton joined them on the sidelines after taking a hit on right knee from Horned Frog safety Stephen Hodge at the end of a five-yard run.

Clayton, who laid on the field for several minutes before being helped off, watched the remainder of the game on crutches with a large ice bag wrapped around the knee.

"We won't know the severity of that until Monday," Sanford said. "He has to get an MRI and get a look of what is damaged in it."

"We don't know if (the injury) is significant yet," Clayton said. "I just got tackled and it didn't feel right when I got back up so I knew it was hurt."

Backup Mike Clausen, who came off the bench to score a pair of touchdowns at BYU when Clayton left the game after hard hits, completed just 3-of-9 passes for 22 yards and was sacked three times after replacing Clayton.

"I've got a lot of faith in Mike and so does the rest of the team," Clayton said. "I definitely feel like Mike can come in and be productive."

TCU finished with 410 yards in total offense, including 259 on the ground, and had 27 first downs. The Horned Frogs took advantage of excellent field position throughout the game caused by poor punting by Rebel punter Dack Ishii who had kicks of 10, 12, 17 and 19 yards while punting into a strong wind. TCU started five drives inside the UNLV 40 yard line in the game.

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