HOUSTON (AP) -- TCU stayed perfect without looking it.
Brandon Hassell threw for 375 yards and four touchdowns as the
No. 15 Horned Frogs (8-0, 5-0 Conference USA) remained one of
Division I-A's three undefeated teams despite allowing 684 yards,
committing 12 penalties and letting a freshman quarterback run
roughshod over them.
"A lot of people probably think I'm going to be down because we
didn't play well defensively," coach Gary Patterson said. "But
I'm really excited about our offense. I've been saying all along if
we could get everybody healthy our offense would be OK."
Not quite everyone was healthy. Quarterback Tye Gunn missed the
game with a strained groin, but backup Hassell replaced him in
style. Along with Robert Merrill, who rushed for 204 yards and a
touchdown, Hassell led TCU to a school-record 782 yards against the
Cougars (5-3, 2-2).
Hassell, who has started before, said he didn't feel much
pressure to perform.
"I didn't figure we'd have to score 62, but I figured we had to
put points on the board because everybody had talked about
Houston's offense," he said.
Indeed, TCU's victory overshadowed the effort by Houston's Kevin
Kolb, who went 17-of-36 for 434 yards and four touchdowns and
rushed for 144 yards and another score. He became at least the
fourth player in Division I-A history to throw for 400 yards and
run for 100 in a game.
"We think we can hang with anybody as long as we play like we
did tonight," Kolb said. "We play as a team and I think we're
still coming together as a team."
The Horned Frogs joined top-ranked Oklahoma and No. 2 Miami as
the only Division I-A teams to emerge from the weekend unbeaten.
They also kept alive their slim chances for a major bowl bid out of
a minor conference -- unlike No. 12 Northern Illinois, whose record
got its first blemish earlier in the day with a 34-18 loss to No.
23 Bowling Green.
The TCU fans in attendance began chanting "BCS! BCS!" at
game's end, referring to the Bowl Championship Series that
determines participation in the major postseason games.
"All I know is we're 8-0," Patterson said. "I'll let
everybody else tell you about that stuff."
Each side alternated scoring on the first seven possessions of
the second half, with TCU taking a 52-40 lead early in the fourth
quarter on a 2-yard run by Kenny Hayter.
The Frogs finally got some breathing room when Kolb fumbled to
start a drive and Bo Schobel recovered for TCU. Hassell made the
Cougars pay on the next play, finding Quentily Harmon for a 20-yard
scoring pass and a 59-40 lead.
The Cougars made a late push when Vincent Marshall ran a lateral
36 yards down the right sideline and Jackie Battle punched in the
2-point conversion with 1:22 left. TCU bobbled the ensuing onside
kick but recovered at the bottom of a pile on the wet field, and
the offense ran out the clock.
"In the six years I've been here, this is probably the worst
defensive effort I've had," Patterson said. "But I blame it on
me. I didn't get them ready."
TCU's onslaught surpassed the previous team record of 736 yards
the Frogs put up at the Astrodome in 1990 during a 56-35 loss to
Houston. That also had been the most yardage Houston had given up
Lonta Hobbs ran for 102 yards and a score for TCU and Cory
Rodgers caught six passes for 171 yards and two touchdowns and
added a 1-yard TD run. Hassell, who was 17-for-27, also ran for 66
Marshall had five receptions for 106 yards and a score for
The Frogs shot to a 21-3 first-quarter lead, highlighted by
Hassell-to-Rodgers scoring connections of 48 and 60 yards and a
juggling catch by Reggie Harrell in the end zone.
But Kolb, a freshman whose numbers all were career highs, kept
Houston alive and his 48-yard scoring pass play to an uncovered
Middleton down the left side late in the second quarter cut TCU's
lead to 28-24 at halftime.