TCU HORNED FROGS
Record: 10-2, 7-0 MWC
The season did not exactly start the way TCU is used to, with losses in two of the first five games. It was not the offense that was a problem, but the defense, which simply gave up too many points and too many big plays in the pass game in losses to Baylor and SMU. Injuries and inexperience really hurt the defense, with key losses like Tanner Brock (injury) and safety Tejay Johnson (graduation) having an impact. But you knew with Gary Patterson, a defensive guru, performances like that would not last. TCU showed steady improvement, then pulled the upset of the season in Boise, beating the Broncos 36-35 to end their long winning streak on the blue turf.
TCU ended up winning another conference championship, reaching the 10-win mark for the fourth straight year and eighth time in the past 10 seasons under Patterson. Before Patterson arrived on campus in 1998, the Horned Frogs had just four 10-win seasons in their history.
They end their run in the Mountain West having won a record 24 straight league games, while also holding the conference mark for consecutive home league wins at 17.
Offensive MVP: Casey Pachall, QB. The big concern going into the season was how Pachall would fare in place of Andy Dalton, the school's all-time winningest quarterback. Pachall did a terrific job in his first year as a starter, going 213-of-314 for 2,715 yards, 24 touchdowns and six interceptions. He made the All-MWC second team. Receiver Josh Boyce was outstanding as well, with 932 yards receiving and nine touchdown receptions.
Defensive MVP: Tank Carder, LB. Injuries hampered Carder's productivity at the beginning of the season, but he closed out strong and ended up winning Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year honors for a second straight season. Carder finished with 66 tackles, including 4.5 for a loss, and returned two interceptions for touchdowns.
Turning point: Beating Boise State 36-35. Coach Gary Patterson gambled and went for 2 late in the game, playing for the win rather than the tie. Pachall found Josh Boyce in the end zone for the conversion with 1:05 remaining. The Broncos marched down the field and got into field goal range, but Dan Goodale missed a 39-yard field goal at the gun. The victory allowed TCU to win its third straight Mountain West Conference championship in its final year in the league.
What’s next: TCU was hoping to get an automatic selection into the BCS but failed to finish in the top 16 of the final standings. So it's off to the Poinsettia Bowl against WAC champion Louisiana Tech, then a move to the Big 12 Conference for the 2012 season. There is so much young talent on this team, it will be interesting to see how the Horned Frogs fare in their first year in an AQ conference.