Look-Ahead Factor: Yes
Letdown Factor: Slim
Kerouac Factor: Significant
Motivation Factor: Definitely
Homerism typically reserves his “danger game” breakdowns for prominent programs with national championship aspirations. After all their success in recent years, it seems fair to put the TCU Horned Frogs in that category of teams.
Last year, Texas Christian laid waste to the Mountain West en route to the Fiesta Bowl. Just one opponent managed to stay within four touchdowns of coach Gary Patterson’s mid-major monster.
UNLV was one of those blowout victims. The Runnin’ Rebels rolled out of Fort Worth on Halloween having suffered a 41-0 drubbing. The Horned Frogs were all over UNLV from the start in a game that wasn’t even as close as the lopsided final score. When all was said and done, the Rebs had been held to a measly 160 total yards, including just 42 yards passing on 23 attempts (1.8 yards per pass). Meanwhile, TCU’s offense had a field day, piling up almost 600 yards of total offense.
So why should 2010 be any different?
For starters, UNLV brings back dangerous quarterback Omar Clayton for his third consecutive year at quarterback. Complementing Clayton in the passing game are two of the team’s top three receivers from 2009 — Phillip Payne and Michael Johnson.
More importantly, though, Bobby Hauck is implementing the run-heavy, ball-control offense that helped make his former employer, Montana, a I-AA power. What other Mountain West team fits that profile? Air Force, which played the Horned Frogs within an inch of their lives last year.
Also, after finishing last in the Mountain West in total defense in 2009, the Runnin’ Rebs’ D can’t help but improve this season under UNLV’s tough-minded new coach
Lastly, this spot looks tough for Texas Christian from a mental standpoint. The Mountain West has already set kickoff for 8 pm PST, so TCU will just be getting started at 10 pm in Fort Worth. Those kinds of adjustments can wreak havoc on a squad’s constitution. Plus, with a trip to Utah looming on the horizon, who knows where the Horned Frogs’ heads will be?
Don’t get me wrong — I fully expect TCU to be leaving Las Vegas victorious when all is said and done. If the Horned Frogs crapped out, though, I wouldn’t be shocked.