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Number of unbeatens will drop by at least one
Monday, November 1, 2010
The number of remaining undefeated teams in the nation will be trimmed at least to four next weekend when No. 6 Utah (8-0) hosts No. 4 Texas Christian (9-0). With five unbeaten teams - Auburn, Oregon and Boise State are the others - what thus far has been a chaotic and unpredictable college football season should gain a tad bit more clarity after the dust settles in Salt Lake City.
Whatever slim chances TCU or Utah have of advancing to the Bowl Championship Series national championship game will be eliminated for the loser.
Both squads possess stingy defenses that rank among the country's top six units in points allowed. This game likely will hinge on which offense can take advantage of the few scoring opportunities it receives.
The Utes forced five turnovers Saturday at Air Force and still had to hang on for a 28-23 victory because their offense stalled in the fourth quarter.
However, Utah Coach Kyle Whittingham knows full well that TCU will be a stark contrast to the Falcons.
Whittingham told reporters that the game film from Saturday's victory "is irrelevant, particularly on the defensive side of the ball," because the Horned Frogs do not operate a triple-option offense. TCU defeated Nevada-Las Vegas, 48-6, Saturday in a game in which the Horned Frogs tallied 273 yards on the ground and 257 through the air.
One of Utah's primary objectives will be to try to contain sophomore tailback Ed Wesley, who has 10 rushing touchdowns and is averaging 104.2 rushing yards per game. Two weeks ago, Wesley rushed for 209 yards against Air Force.
Horned Frogs quarterback Andy Dalton is a capable runner as well. In addition to completing 65.9 percent of his passes for 1,887 yards and 16 touchdowns, Dalton has rushed for 404 yards and five touchdowns.
Last season, TCU trounced Utah, 55-28, in Fort Worth. But behind sophomore quarterback Jordan Wynn and the third-most prolific offense in the country, the Utes are in the mood to repay the favor. Wynn is completing 69.1 percent of his throws and is among the most efficient passers in the nation.
The last two times Utah began a season 8-0 it went on to win a BCS bowl game. In order to do that this year, the Utes must knock off TCU.
Conferences such as the Mountain West often are derided for their comparative lack of competition, but on Saturday, the MWC will feature a contest between two of the top six teams in the country, a game with national title implications for each participant.