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News Nuggets, 11.09.04
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Compiled from staff reports and electronic dispatches

Frogs hopping backwards from BCS territory


11.08.04: C-USA standings, scoreboard, schedule & TV ... Associated Press college football poll ... More...
11.07.04: Roundup: Bearcats shoot down Golden Eagles ... College football weekend: stars & storylines ... More...
11.06.04: USM poised to increase its dominance of C-USA ... Juggernaut Utah team downplays distractions ... More...
11.05.04: Pirates overpower Newberry in preseason warmup ... Cardinals gun down Memphis in wild shootout ... More...
11.04.04: Pirates poised to hit hardwood amidst news aplenty ... Primetime TV preview: Louisville at Memphis ... More...
11.03.04: Primetime TV preview: South Florida at UAB ... Almond back in the saddle for No. 21 Southern Miss ... More...
11.02.04: Army game once again the charm for ECU honors ... No. 25 Miners digging out of rut under Price ... Tar Heels savor first victory over Top 5 opponent ... More...
11.01.04: C-USA standings, scoreboard, schedule & TV ... Associated Press college football poll ... More...
10.31.04: Games of interest: Hurricanes stall in Chapel Hill ... College football weekend: stars & storylines ... More...
10.30.04: ECU shot-blocking wizard sidelined by thumb injury ... Utes tune out Meyer speculation, BCS chatter ... More...
10.29.04: Football grad rates keep Division I average from sinking ... Despite miscues, Hokies handle Georgia Tech ... More...
10.28.04: CBS, Fox poised to challenge ABC for BCS rights ... Injury sidelines prolific Blue Devils newcomer ... More...
10.27.04: Coaches predict Cards to dominate, Pirates to improve ... Seahawks undergo management shuffle ... More...
10.26.04: Mountain West outsider banging hard on BCS door ... Southern Miss dominates league's weekly awards ... More...
10.25.04: C-USA standings, scoreboard, schedule & TV ... Associated Press college football poll ... More...
10.24.04: Bearcats stagger heavily-favored Memphis ... College football weekend: stars & storylines ... More...
10.23.04: Blue Raiders go hip-hop to fill empty seats ... No. 15 Louisville makes mince meat of Bulls ... More...

FORT WORTH — Texas Christian has gone from trying to become the first outsider to bust into the Bowl Championship Series to just hoping for a chance to play in the postseason.

Before Utah took over the banner for teams from non-BCS conferences this season, the Horned Frogs were the ones chasing the big-game dream. Now they're just a .500 team tied for fifth place in Conference USA.

``It definitely is different. There was a lot of hype last year,'' quarterback Brandon Hassell said. ``It was fun being in the spotlight, being in the position of winning and having fun. Now, we're not playing well and guys are stressed out.''

The Frogs won their first 10 games last year and were as high as sixth in the BCS standings. They were the first non-BCS team to reach the top six, which would have guaranteed them a spot in one of the four major bowls had they been able to maintain that ranking.

Even though TCU didn't, dropping to No. 8 even before their loss at Southern Mississippi, that magical run helped prompt pending changes in the BCS system. Those changes are designed to give more access to teams for smaller conferences by the 2006 season — probably too late for Utah (9-0), which dropped from sixth to seventh in the new BCS rankings Monday.

Before joining Utah in the Mountain West Conference in 2005, the Frogs (4-4, 2-3 C-USA) will try to salvage what they can from their final C-USA season.

``We have an opportunity at the end of the season to show what TCU is really about and that's what's going on is not really our character,'' offensive lineman Anthony Alabi said.

Since going 1-10 in 1997, LaDainian Tomlinson's freshman season, TCU has been to six straight bowl games and had three 10-win seasons.

``We're trying to win our last three games so we get ourselves back into a bowl game and keep the streak alive,'' coach Gary Patterson said.

The Frogs play Wednesday night at No. 12 Louisville (6-1, 4-0). Their last two games are home against Southern Miss and Tulane.

TCU managed consecutive wins this season only in the first two games: 48-45 in double overtime over a Northwestern, which missed five field goals, and 44-0 over an SMU team that had a double-digit losing streak.

While Hassell (sprained ankle) and fellow quarterback Tye Gunn (swollen knee) have traded snaps and starts because of injury most of the season, the offense has still averaged 434 yards and 33 points a game.

But the defense has been uncharacteristically bad, allowing 425 yards (94th nationally) and 34 points (99th) a game. TCU has had top-notch defenses under Patterson, who arrived as defensive coordinator in 1998 and replaced Dennis Franchione as head coach after three seasons.

``It's one thing to be doing bad if you're not winning but playing well defensively,'' Patterson said. ``For me, it's frustrating because you're trying to grow people up. ... I knew this was going to be a challenge. I was hoping it would be a little bit better at this point.''

TCU returned just four defensive starters from last season, and has just three first-team seniors. Five teams have gained at least 400 yards, including Northwestern's 637 in the opener, and four have at least 44 points, with Texas Tech winning 70-35.

Louisville leads the nation with 520 total yards a game, but is 0-3 against TCU. The Cardinals were already C-USA champs and ranked 17th in 2001 when TCU beat them to keep its bowl hopes alive.

Now the Frogs will try to do it again.

``It's never fun when you're losing, and it's something we don't want to get used to,'' Hassell said. ``We want to go out and just leave this team the way it was when we came in, winning.''

Utah slips in BCS poll despite latest big win


Rank / Team / (Record)
  1. Southern Cal (9-0)
  2. Oklahoma (9-0)
  3. Auburn (9-0)
  4. California (7-1)
  5. Wisconsin (9-0)
  6. Texas (8-1)
  7. Utah (9-0)
  8. Georgia (8-1)
  9. Michigan (8-1)
10. Boise State (8-0)
11. Virginia (7-1)
12. Florida State (7-2)
13. West Virginia (8-1)
14. Louisville (6-1)
15. Tennessee (7-2)
16. Arizona State (7-2)
17. Miami (FL) (6-2)
18. Virginia Tech (7-2)
19. Louisiana State (6-2)
20. Iowa (7-2)
21. Texas A&M (6-3)
22. Oklahoma State (6-3)
23. Boston College (6-2)
24. Texas-El Paso (6-2)
25. Notre Dame (6-3)

Note: Bold denotes team from a conference without an assured BCS bowl berth.

A perfect record probably isn't going to be enough to get Utah into the Bowl Championship Series.

The unbeaten Utes slipped one spot to seventh in the BCS standings Monday, a drop that could cost them a berth in one of the four big-money bowl games.

The top five in the BCS stayed the same with Southern California, Oklahoma and Auburn leading the way, followed by California and Wisconsin.

The top two teams in the final standings will play in the Orange Bowl on Jan. 4 for the BCS national title.

Utah is trying to become the first team from a non-BCS conference (Mountain West) to play in a BCS game. The Utes can guarantee a spot in what probably would be the Fiesta Bowl — which delivers a payout of about $14 million — by finishing in the top six. A top-12 finish makes the Utes eligible for consideration, but guarantees nothing.

Texas jumped over Utah this week into sixth place.

Just like two weeks ago when Utah moved up to sixth, Utes coach Urban Meyer found out from his wife that the team had dropped.

``She had a little reaction. I won't use the language she did,'' he said. ``In three weeks we'll have a reaction. There's too much football to be played yet.''

Meyer tried to be diplomatic, but asked if the BCS system should be changed, he said. ``... Is the sky blue? Absolutely. And it will happen. Logical thinking will eventually take over.''

Texas' 56-35 comeback victory over Oklahoma State on Saturday boosted its BCS grade to .7904.

The Utes aren't getting enough bounce in the polls and computer rankings out of their lopsided victories over conference opponents. Their grade (.7511) went up slightly after a 63-31 win over Colorado State.

Utah maintained its positions in both The Associated Press Top 25 (seventh) and coaches poll (eighth) this week, but the Utes dropped in the computer rankings from sixth to eighth, while the Longhorns moved up to No. 5 in that category.

Utah finishes its season with games at Wyoming on Saturday and at home against Brigham Young the following week. Two wins would ensure a second straight MWC title. The league champ gets a Liberty Bowl berth, which pays $1.35 million.

But how the races play out in the Big 12, Pac-10, Southeastern Conference and Big Ten will have as much to do with where the Utes play in the postseason as their own games.

And with Georgia and Michigan right behind Utah, the Utes may be in danger of getting caught again.

``I still think there's a lot of football to be played in the next two weeks,'' quarterback Alex Smith said. ``Especially for some of those conferences. They all have conference championship games. I still think some things are going to take care of themselves. If we win out, I don't think there will be a worry if we're going to get in the top six or not.''

The AP media poll and ESPN/USA Today poll each account for one-third of a team's BCS grade. A compilation of six computer rankings make up the other third.

Texas is ahead of Utah in both polls, sixth in the AP and seventh in the coaches.

Despite being one of the winningest teams in the country in recent years, the Longhorns have never reached the BCS, which was created in 1998 and includes the Sugar, Rose, Orange and Fiesta bowls.

Last season Texas was in line to grab one of the BCS's two at-large bids when Kansas State knocked off Oklahoma in the Big 12 championship game. That gave the Wildcats the automatic berth as league champ and made the Sooners an at-large team playing for the national title.

For Texas, it was back to the Holiday Bowl for the third time since 2000.

Recent disappointments tempered Monday's good news in Austin.

``We've been there before,'' Texas coach Mack Brown said. ``We were five last year and didn't go. You'd better just keep winning.''

Utah is one of six unbeaten teams in Division I-A, along with USC, Oklahoma, Auburn, Wisconsin and Boise State.

The Sooners increased their lead on the idle Tigers, by moving into the No. 1 spot in the computer rankings.

Southern Cal, No. 1 in both polls and second in the computer rankings, has a grade of .9847. Oklahoma's is .9664, and Auburn's is .9097. The Tigers are third in each poll and according to the computers.

News Nuggets are compiled periodically based on material supplied by staff members, data published by ECU, Conference USA and its member schools, and reports from Associated Press and other sources. Copyright 2004 and other publishers. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


Page Updated: 02/23/2007

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