Voters apparently didn’t take poor weather conditions into account when considering TCU’s spot in the poll this week. Still, sentiment remains sunny in Fort Worth.
Having slipped in the poll despite remaining undefeated, the 12th-ranked Horned Frogs host Mountain West Conference rival Colorado State on Saturday night in what should be a decidedly warmer matchup than their last game.
Though it’s still in position to play the role of BCS buster, TCU (5-0, 1-0) fell two spots in the poll this week after a 20-17 win at Air Force last Saturday night in its conference opener. Temperatures in Colorado that day dipped into the teens, and the Horned Frogs had a tough time getting their offense on track while playing in an icy mist.
TCU now returns to Amon G. Carter Stadium, where it has won 11 straight, and skies are expected to be clear with temperatures in the mid-60s.
“I can’t worry about them,” coach Gary Patterson said when asked whether voters should have given more weight to the poor conditions his team played in. “All I’m going to try to do is be 12-0.”
TCU has won its first five games for the third time since 1942. The Horned Frogs are off to their best start since ’03, when they won their first 10.
Defense has played a large part in TCU’s success. The Horned Frogs have given up less than 20 points in all but one game, and they especially needed a strong performance to contend with bad weather and Air Force’s option offense.
The Horned Frogs were able to bottle up the Falcons for chunks of the game, as linebacker Daryl Washington led the way with a team-high 10 tackles.
Washington is often overlooked, playing in the shadow of All-American defensive end Jerry Hughes, who has six sacks. Washington, though, gets more room to make plays with opponents focusing on slowing down Hughes.
“He takes a lot of pressure off me and the rest of the team,” Washington said. “It’s good to have Jerry Hughes.”
Colorado State (3-3, 0-2) has had a tough time defensively, giving up an average of 32.3 points in losing its last three. Those three opponents have a combined 14-3 record, and two are ranked.
The Rams lost 24-17 last Saturday night to Utah, which moved into the poll this week at No. 24.
“The next step for us is beating one of these top teams,” coach Steve Fairchild said. “We’re sitting there on the ladder until we do it. The burden of proof is on us”
The Rams haven’t beaten a ranked team since a 19-14 victory at then-No. 7 Colorado on Aug. 31, 2002.
Colorado State will likely need a better effort from quarterback Grant Stucker if it hopes to upset TCU. Stucker went 12 for 24 for 184 yards and a touchdown while getting intercepted three times against Utah.
In his previous game, Stucker passed for 297 yards and four TDs in a 31-29 loss at Idaho on Oct. 3.
“I can’t tell you how horrible it feels,” Stucker said. “I will guarantee that we will … be ready to turn our eyes toward TCU and work as hard as we can to get an edge.”
Stucker struggled despite getting a strong effort from the running game. Leonard Mason rushed for a career-high 130 yards and has a team-high 493 for Colorado State, which has run for 289 in its last two.
The Rams, though, were held to 11 yards on the ground in their last matchup with the Horned Frogs, losing 13-7 on Oct. 11, 2008. TCU leads the series 5-1.