TCU Horned Frogs season recap

How do you follow up an undefeated regular season? With another undefeated regular season. The Horned Frogs put together yet another incredible season, becoming the first team from a non-automatic qualifying conference to get back-to-back BCS bids. Their only loss in the past 25 games came to Boise State in the Fiesta Bowl to close last season. Expectations were high for TCU going into the year with 16 starters returning, including nine on offense. Quarterback Andy Dalton was the preseason pick to be Offensive Player of the Year, and he lived up to the billing, winning the award for a second straight season. Ed Wesley and Matthew Tucker provided an upgrade at running back, several players emerged at receiver, including freshman Josh Boyce, who leads the team with 602 yards receiving. Meanwhile, the defenses survived the loss of four starters, including its best players Jerry Hughes and Daryl Washington. That was the big unknown going into the season, but coach Gary Patterson found the right combination of guys to fill in. Wayne Daniels had a great season at defensive end, and Tank Carder and Tanner Brock won first-team All-MWC honors. Safety Tejay Johnson was steady and reliable, and the Horned Frogs turned away all challengers with their experience and determination to have yet another special season.

Offensive MVP: Dalton. The senior completed a career-high 66 percent of his passes, throwing for 2,638 yards with 26 touchdowns with just six interceptions. He joined Colorado State quarterback Bradlee Van Pelt as the only players to win league Offensive Player of the Year honors in consecutive seasons.

Defensive MVP: Carder. He became the third straight TCU player to win league Defensive Player of the Year honors. He made plays all over the field and has been a tremendous leader.

Turning point: Second quarter vs. San Diego State. The Horned Frogs stared at a 14-0 deficit to San Diego State following their big win against Utah, but showed no signs of panic. They scored 21 second-quarter points and totally dominated the quarter to take a lead into halftime. Yes, they allowed the Aztecs back into the game, but for a large portion they dominated and won 40-35. The close margin caused some panic from voters, but most championship teams face at least one test in a season. The Horned Frogs passed theirs.

What’s next: TCU faces Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl Game presented by Vizio, and has just one more season in the Mountain West before joining the Big East in 2012.