Preview: TCU at Utah
by CFP Staff with contributions from The MWC
ESPN College GameDay will make its second-ever visit to Utah and Salt Lake City on Saturday when the Utes host TCU in what amounts to a BCS Championship elimination game.
These schools aren't looking for just a BCS bowl bid - they've been there, done that. Utah has played in, and won, two previous BCS bowl games and TCU lost to Boise State in last year's Fiesta Bowl. These undefeated powers from the Mountain West have their eyes on a national championship shot.
Utah enters the game ranked 4th in the Congrove Computer Rankings (CCR) and 5th in the BCS Standings. TCU is No. 2 in the CCR and No. 3 in the BCS Standings. The Horned Frogs jumped Boise State in the BCS after last weekend's 48-6 rout of UNLV. Utah jumped from 8th to 5th in the BCS after Michigan State and Missouri each lost for the first time this season. The Utes were already ranked ahead of those teams in the CCR.
TCU (32-3) and Utah (31-3) are two of five teams (Alabama 33-3, Florida 31-5, Boise State 33-1 to achieve 31 or more wins since the beginning of the 2008 season. The Mountain West is one of two conferences (SEC) to have two teams with 31-plus wins during that span.
TCU has 9 straight wins overall and 22 straight regular season wins. The Horned Frogs' last regular season loss occurred in its last visit to Utah on November 6, 2008. Meanwhile, Utah has won 21 straight home games since losing to BYU on November 25, 2006.
TCU has never won at Utah (0-3) but carries a 9-game road wining streak into this affair.
The winner is likely to ultimately claim the Mountain West title which isn't the least bit unusual for either of these teams. TCU has claimed two of the last five, and Utah has won three of the last seven.
The Mountain West is the only conference in the country with two teams ranked in the Top 10 of both scoring offense and scoring defense. Utah is averaging 45.25 points per game to rank tied for third, while TCU is scoring 40.78 points per game to rank ninth. Defensively, TCU leads the nation, allowing opponents just 8.67 points per game, while the Utes are sixth, giving up just 14.13 points per game. The only other two teams in the nation to rank in the Top 10 in both scoring offense and defense are Boise State (2nd Offense, 3rd defense) and Ohio State (6th offense, 4th defense).
TCU has held six opponents to single digits scoring this season, including the last five. In fact, the Horned Frogs have outscored their last five opponents 189-16 with two shutouts.
Meanwhile, Utah has scored over 50 points in four of its eight contests this season.
TCU senior QB Andy Dalton picked up his 38th career victory last Saturday and is the national leader for wins by current quarterbacks. Boise State's Kellen Moore is 2nd with 33 and Virginia Tech's Tyrod Taylor is 3rd with 29.
CollegeFootballPoll.com's preseason forecast, based on the Congrove Computer Rankings, predicted TCU would win the Mountain West with a 12-0 record overall, and that Utah would finish 2nd with its only loss to TCU. Over the last three years, the computer has correctly forecasted the winner of 30-of-32 Utah games and 28-of-33 TCU games. It lists TCU as a 4.12-point favorite in this contest, down significantly from the preseason predicted margin of 7.87.
TCU - Gary Patterson
Overall Record: 94-28 (10th year)
School Record: 94-28 (10th year)
Utah - Kyle Whittingham
Overall Record: 56-17 (6th year)
School Record: 56-17 (6th year)
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Passer: Andy Dalton (9 GP, 143-217-5, 65.9 pct., 1,887 yds., 16 TD)
Rusher: Ed Wesley (9 GP, 138 att., 938 yds., 6.8 avg. per rush, 10 TD)
Receiver: Jeremy Kerley (9 GP, 35 rec., 364 yds., 10.4 avg. per rec., 7 TD)
Josh Boyce (9 GP, 25 rec., 395 yds., 15.8 avg. per rec., 4 TD)
Tackler: Tanner Brock (9 GP, 36-29-65, TFL 4.5-11 yds., sacks 1.5-6)
Passer: Jordan Wynn (6 GP, 112-162-6, 69.1 pct., 1,431 yds., 13 TD)
Rusher: Eddie Wide (8 GP, 98 att., 491 yds., 5.0 avg. per rush, 9 TD)
Matt Asiata (8 GP, 104 att., 488 yds., 4.7 avg. per rush, 6 TD)
Receiver: Jereme Brooks (8 GP, 38 rec., 451 yds., 11.9 avg. per rec., 4 TD)
DeVonte Christopher (7 GP, 26 rec., 499 yds., 19.2 avg. per rec., 5 TD)
Tackler: Chaz Walker (8 GP, 14-47-61, TFL 6.0-8 yds., sacks 1.0-2)
The game will be broadcast on CBS College Sports beginning at 3:30 p.m. eastern.