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TCU-Air Force: Gary Patterson's Horned Frogs Need a FORCE-Ful Statement

TCU scored just 20 points at Air Force last season, but the Falcons lost virtually every lineman starter from that team
TCU scored just 20 points at Air Force last season, but the Falcons lost virtually every lineman starter from that teamTom Pennington/Getty Images
Mark CrystelContributor IIIOctober 19, 2010

TCU coach Gary Patterson compared it to a soap opera.

"It’s like Days of Our Lives," said Patterson of the BCS ranking system. "We’re going to have these people have an affair with these people, so we get everybody over here’s become a drama deal."

Right on, Gary! What would college football be without drama? At the same time, I wonder if Gary will be rooting for Cal, USC or Oregon State when they play Oregon.

For a football team like TCU, it’s been a long time coming. I’m speaking about a shot at the BCS, of course. Heading into this weekend, the Horned Frogs are No. 5 in the BCS computer rankings, with Boise State, Auburn, Oregon and Oklahoma ahead of them.

A lot can and will happen between now and December, but folks around Fort Worth are excited about a possible, albeit small, shot at the BCS title game.

It could happen, but they need help—or as Patterson put it, they need some other teams to "have an affair."

Teams from the Big 12 and SEC have an obstacle that teams like TCU, Boise and Oregon don’t have: a conference championship game. Iowa or Wisconsin will have one more loss next week. Aside from that, teams like Auburn and Oklahoma have a handful of remaining games against very good teams.

It’s very possible that a team with one loss can leap ahead of an undefeated TCU or Boise in the standings.

However, what if Oklahoma and Auburn, among others, drop a pair of games before the season is over?

It happened in 2007, when LSU and Ohio State met for the BCS championship and each team had two losses during the regular season.

This season, that scenario probably won’t work if Boise and/or TCU finish undefeated. With Utah on the schedule, now that the Utes are currently a "Top 10" team, that might be the quality win TCU needs to propel the program up in the standings just enough to have a prayer. But it starts with Air Force.

The Horned Frogs, who have won their last 10 conference games by at least 27 points, take on the option-based offensive attack of Air Force this weekend. They are favored to win the game by less than three touchdowns.

There were some contextual clues in TCU’s game against BYU that might lead one to believe Coach Patterson knows he must win these games handily.

Up 31-3 with three minutes remaining, TCU got the ball back near midfield. The offensive coordinator called for three running plays in a row, the third of which was an eight-yard gain to give the Horned Frogs a 1st-and-10 at the BYU 36-yard line with about 1:40 left on the clock.

As the clock wound down to 1:15, the coaching staff decided to go with two additional running plays instead of having the quarterback take a knee. The second running play gained nine yards right before the clock ran out.

Was TCU trying for an additional touchdown?

Air Force played well at Oklahoma, and the Sooners weren’t fully ready for the option offense. TCU has seen it before, and their defense is arguably the best in the country. The unit has allowed a total of three points in the last three games and is holding FBS opponents to an impressive 20 percent conversion rate on third down.

Last season, TCU's defense held BYU and Max Hall to just seven points on the road. They also held Boise to one offensive touchdown and C.J. Spiller and the Clemson Tigers to the same at Clemson Stadium.

Making matters worse for Air Force is the absence of three defensive players who got hurt in the last two weeks.

Last season the Falcons played a close game at home vs. TCU, losing the game 20-17. However, virtually the entire Falcons offensive and defensive lines feature a new starter from last season’s team.

Patterson knows the Horned Frogs need more of a convincing win than a margin of three points.

Even if TCU finishes undefeated, they will need all the help they can get if they want a chance at the BCS championship game.

Now that the BCS standings are out, a decisive win (i.e. by more than 18 points) vs. a quality Air Force team would be a good start.


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