From The Sports Network
By Gregg Xenakes, Associate College Football Editor
Enjoying one of the longest home win streaks in the nation at the moment, the fourth-ranked TCU Horned Frogs try to keep it going on Saturday afternoon as they host the Baylor Bears at Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth.
After opening the 2010 campaign with a 30-21 win over Oregon State at Cowboys Stadium in Texas, the Horned Frogs made their home debut last weekend and responded with a lopsided 62-7 romp over Tennessee Tech. The victory was the 15th in a row at home for TCU and that gives the program the third-longest streak in the history of the Mountain West Conference behind BYU which logged 18 in a row between 2006-08, and Utah which is still riding a 19-game effort which was extended last week with a triumph over UNLV in Salt Lake City.
As for the Bears, they have one of the better scoring defenses in the nation right now with just 4.5 ppg allowed, but the competition against which Baylor has thrived isn't exactly top of the line either. Baylor first took care of Sam Houston State at home rather easily in the opener, 34-3, and then dismissed Buffalo with a 34-6 decision last weekend. Certainly head coach Art Briles has to be pleased with his team's start to the new campaign, but he and the Bears should find out rather early in this meeting just how good they really are.
TCU shut down the Bears in the most recent meeting back in 2007 by a final of 27-0 and in the process knotted the all-time series at 49-49-7.
"I look at it as Sam Houston was a good team, Buffalo was a step up from them and TCU will be a step up from Buffalo," is how Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III assesses the early part of his team's schedule. "It is a constant process and it is a good way to start the season, to get two good wins under our belt, build some confidence."
The confidence of which Griffin III speaks stems from the 297 yards and two touchdowns he was able to account for in the win over Buffalo last weekend. In addition, Griffin III also demonstrated that he is a force to be reckoned with when he leaves the pocket as well, running for 27 yards and a couple of scores for a unit that gained 173 yards on the ground. Through the air the most valuable performer for the Bears was Kendall Wright who turned five receptions into 128 yards and a TD.
The defense for Baylor permitted the Bulls to gain just 325 yards on 82 plays and when the visitors did make it into the red zone they were allowed just a single field goal. It was a total team effort for the Bears as they consistently hassled the opposing quarterback and made several stops behind the line of scrimmage.
While it is still quite early to form solid opinions about the Baylor defense, it should be pointed out that last year the group was not only last in the Big 12 Conference but also 113th in the nation in tackles for loss with an average of just 4.17 per game. After two games this time around the squad is tops in the league and fifth nationally with 10 TFLs per outing.
With regard to the Baylor offense again, playing weaker opposition during the first two weeks of the season doesn't provide much insight into how good this group might actually be in 2010. Nevertheless, Griffin III needs to be seen as a threat both through the air (539 yards and four TDs) and on the ground (86 yards, three TDs) with what he already accomplished to this point. Whether or not he can pull off strong numbers against a defense like the Horned Frogs remains a question mark, but chances are he'll find the going much tougher this weekend.
In 2009, the Horned Frogs were first in the Football Bowl Subdivision in overall defense with just 239.7 ypg allowed and were sixth in scoring defense (12.8 ppg) and this year it appears to be business as usual for head coach Gary Patterson and his crew. Against Tennessee Tech the Frogs held the visitors to just 150 yards of total offense on 55 snaps and used 13 stops behind the line of scrimmage to limit the opposition to a mere 92 yards on the ground.
On the offensive side of the ball Andy Dalton again reigned supreme with 182 yards and a score through the air and another 23 yards rushing and a TD as the Horned Frogs rolled up 270 yards and tallied seven touchdowns on the ground against a much weaker opponent. Matthew Tucker carried the ball just nine times but was responsible for a pair of those scoring runs. But as strong as the Frogs were on both sides of the ball, coach Patterson still found issues with the team's performance.
"We're 2-0. That's what you're supposed to do to a I-AA team. We made too many mistakes. It doesn't matter what the score is. We run a kickoff back, we have a block in the back. We had a long punt return; we had a block in the back. We had too many holdings, too many jumps, too many false formations, too many wrong things."
Through two games the Frogs are averaging seven penalties for a loss of 60 yards per outing, compared to just four miscues and 27.5 ypg for the opposition, so coach Patterson has a right to be concerned and critical of his team's efforts when they don't play clean and precise. And yet, TCU is still the team to beat in the Mountain West again this year and has the 10th-best rushing attack in the nation with 274 ypg and is eighth in total defense (202.5 ypg), so something has to be going right for the team right now even if they are hurting themselves with some questionable plays.
Completing 66.7 percent of his pass attempts thus far, Dalton would appear to be finding his receivers with relative ease, but considering he has as many interceptions (two) as he does touchdown passes that means there's still work to be done with the team's aerial attack. With 10 touchdowns on the ground this team doesn't really need Dalton to toss balls into the end zone anyway, rather guide the team down the field with the sort of execution that has him and the team looked upon as one of the best in the nation right now.
As TCU showed last season, there are few teams out there that can compete for a full 60 minutes against a program that presents a dominating offense and an aggressive defense all rolled into one. Baylor certainly knows what it is getting itself into, but the Bears will still not be fully prepared by any means.