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I think we've learned our lesson at this point. If you're a team with aspirations of a national championship, conference championship, BCS bowl ... or just a win, do not, under any circumstance, schedule a Thursday night road game.
Over the past few years, it has become almost commonplace for college football's nationally televised Thursday night games to produce landscape-changing, field-storming upsets. This season alone has seen Oregon State topple USC, Colorado black out West Virginia, and now, TCU demolish ninth-ranked, BCS aspirant BYU.
There was nothing mystical about the Horned Frogs' 32-7 rout Thursday night. There was no 5-foot-7 freshman running back brushing off tackles. There was no bewildered-looking coach failing to use his timeouts. TCU's defense -- ranked No. 1 nationally for a reason -- simply came out and suffocated BYU's normally potent offense.
Cougars QB Max Hall, the nation's seventh-ranked passer, was under constant duress from the get-go. He threw a dropped pick and fumbled on BYU's very first series. Meanwhile, TCU -- not normally known as an offensive juggernaut - came out on fire. QB Andy Dalton threw a 24-yard touchdown on the Horned Frogs' first offensive play, and TCU seemed to perplex BYU's defense by repeatedly calling direct snaps to speedy receiver Jeremy Kerley.
BYU, which came in on a 16-game win streak, fell behind 17-0 fifteen seconds into the second quarter, 23-0 by halftime and only briefly exhibited any sign of a potential comeback. You kept thinking Hall would eventually find his rhythm, but it never happened. TCU's defensive front is astonishingly fast. We're talking SEC-fast. BYU's offensive line never had a chance.
The season's latest Thursday night surprise begs several important questions.
• Are BYU's BCS hopes dead? Oh yeah. The Cougars were already lacking a "statement" win (unless you count a 59-0 rout of 2-4 UCLA) and were largely living off their preseason ranking. The pollsters may have forgiven a close conference road loss, but not a decisive blowout.
• Who's the most likely BCS crasher now? Utah. The Utes were already 14th in the polls (top 12 guarantees a berth), boast wins over Oregon State and Michigan and play both TCU and BYU at home.
• Can TCU become the first one-loss BCS buster? Absolutely. The Horned Frogs were ranked 24th in last week's coaches poll and will likely move up several spots. They now have routs of Stanford and BYU on their resume, with a shot at Utah still to come. TCU's 35-10 loss to Oklahoma was not exactly a ringing endorsement, but the fourth-ranked Sooners could well end up beating other ranked foes by similar margins.
• So -- when does TCU face Utah? November 6. And wouldn't you know it -- that's a Thursday.