Thursday, September 28, 2006
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TCU adjusted quickly to the Mountain West Conference in 2005, winning the league title in its first year as a member. The 17th-ranked Horned Frogs would like to continue that dominance and increase the nation’s longest active winning streak when they host BYU on Thursday in the conference opener for both teams. TCU (3-0), coming off a bye week, defeated then-No. 24 Texas Tech 12-3 on Sept. 16 to stretch its win streak to 13 games. The Horned Frogs avenged a 70-35 defeat two years earlier to the Red Raiders. The Horned Frogs are third in the nation in run defense, allowing only 37 yards per game. TCU hasn’t allowed an opponent to rush for more than 59 yards in the last six games, and Texas Tech had only 38 on the ground. TCU was the first team since 2000 to hold the Red Raiders without a touchdown. If the Horned Frogs win Thursday, they’ll match the longest winning streak in school history, set from 1937-1938. The 1938 team finished 11-0 and won the national championship behind Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Davey O’Brien. BYU hopes to have starting quarterback John Beck healthy for Thursday’s game, but if not, it has a capable backup waiting in the wings. John Beck sat out Saturday’s 38-0 win over Utah State with a sprained ankle and backup Jason Beck - no relation - took advantage, completing 20 of 28 passes for 305 yards and a touchdown. It was BYU’s first shutout since beating UNLV 29-0 in 1999.
John Beck rested his ankle during practice last week to be ready to play against the Horned Frogs. The Cougars, looking for their first winning season since going 12-2 in 2001, have lost both road games this season by a combined 10 points - a 16-13 loss at Arizona and a 30-23 double overtime defeat to Boston College. BYU has won eight of its past 11 conference road games.
Jeff Ballard had thrown only one pass at TCU before coming off the bench last September and leading an impressive comeback victory over BYU. This time, Ballard faces the Cougars as an undefeated starting quarterback. Not a one-game wonder, Ballard has instead started every game since for the No. 17 Horned Frogs (3-0) and gone the equivalent of a full season without a loss. His 11-0 mark doesn’t even include the 51-50 victory in Provo. When Ballard took over for injured starter Tye Gunn against BYU, the Frogs trailed 34-16 late in the third quarter. Ballard was 8-of-12 passing for 150 yards and two touchdowns, including a 35-yard scoring pass to Aaron Brown with 1:25 left before BYU’s tying field goal on the final play of regulation. Patterson said the extra time off was beneficial to get over the emotional victory against Tech, the Frogs’ fourth straight victory over a Big 12 team since the start of last season. That also allowed bruised-up players like Ballard more recovery time. Plus, senior tailbacks Robert Merrill (back) and Lonta Hobbs (ankle) are finally ready for their 2006 debuts. BYU had a short week of preparation after a 38-0 victory against overmatched Utah State – the Cougars’ first shutout since 1999, also the last season they beat a Top 25 team. Starting quarterback John Beck missed Saturday because of a sprained right ankle, which he kept in a protective boot while being shuttled around campus this week in a golf cart. But Mendenhall said Beck would start and that Josh Beck, who is no relation and was 20-of-28 passing for 305 yards against Utah State, would be the backup again.
Auburn has to travel off short week. Minus running back Kenny Irons (sprained ankle, toe), offense slept-walked through most of last week against woeful Buffalo, scoring only 17 points until late in third quarter of 38-7 victory. Irons is expected to play in return to Columbia, where he began career before transferring. Irons leads SEC in rushing yards per game (107.3). Tigers average 184 yards per game on ground and Gamecocks 11th in conference in stopping run. Auburn’s world-class defense faces South Carolina offense that was shut out in Gamecocks’ last national TV appearance, 18-0 by Georgia. Tigers throttled Gamecocks 48-7 last year. QB Syvelle Newton, who threw a school-record five TD passes, all to Sydney Rice, in rout of Florida Atlantic on Saturday, will likely split time again with Blake Mitchell. South Carolina has never beaten team ranked No. 1 or No. 2 and hasn’t beaten team in top five since 1981 (0-19).
Myrtle Beach Online
Spurrier was the first to admit USC enjoyed some favorable bounces and good fortune last year during its five-game SEC winning streak. If the Tigers put the ball on the ground or hurt themselves with penalties, the Gamecocks need to capitalize.