Portland St.-TCU Preview
By MATT BECKER
(AP) -- After a somewhat sluggish performance last weekend, TCU would seem to have a good chance of recapturing its swagger against an overmatched Portland State team.
A cause for some concern, however, is Gary Patterson's squad also was playing against a lesser opponent in its last game.
Patterson hopes to see a stronger effort from his 20th-ranked Horned Frogs as they try to set a Mountain West record with a 22nd straight home win Saturday in their first meeting with the Vikings.
Although TCU sat Ed Wesley (shoulder) - the team's top rusher last season with 1,078 yards - as well as 2010 leading tackler Tanner Brock (foot), it seemed the defending Rose Bowl champions should have been able to easily handle Louisiana-Monroe last Saturday.
That wasn't the case, however.
The Horned Frogs (2-1) surrendered 189 total yards in the first quarter and fell behind 17-14. Greg McCoy returned the second-half kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown to put TCU up 10, and the Horned Frogs scored again less than five minutes later en route to a 38-17 victory.
Patterson, though, was far from satisfied.
"The first quarter on defense was terrible. The first quarter of offense was terrible," he said. "We scored one offensive touchdown in the second half and we gave up 17 points in the first quarter. We've got to learn how to play four quarters."
Though Wesley may be out again, Waymon James and Matthew Tucker each have rushed for more than 200 yards. Casey Pachall, meanwhile, has done a solid job taking over at quarterback for Andy Dalton, passing for 661 yards with seven touchdowns and one interception.
Where the Horned Frogs have failed to pick up the slack, however, is on defense.
TCU finished first in the FBS last season in total defense (228.5 yards per game) and scoring defense (12.0 points), but doesn't even rank among the top 80 in either category this year. The Horned Frogs, who are uncertain if Brock will be back this week, have given up 1,294 yards and 86 points - they gave up 85 through their first 10 games last year.
"Hopefully, we'll learn to get back to fanatic TCU effort, because when they turned up the knob, good things happened," Patterson said. "But we've got to keep turning up the knob. You've got to start from the opening bell."
TCU failed to do that against a Louisiana-Monroe team that entered 0-21 all-time against Top 25 teams.
Portland State (2-0) also has had no luck against ranked opponents and has enjoyed only nominal success versus FBS schools.
Since becoming a Division I football program in 1996, the Vikings have been outscored 234-45 in losing all five games to Top 25 foes. In its lone game against a ranked opponent last season, Portland State lost to then-No. 5 Oregon 69-0 on Sept. 18.
The Vikings have lost seven straight to FBS schools and are 2-26 all-time.
Despite all its struggles against stiffer competition, Portland State arrives at TCU averaging an FCS-best 348.0 rushing yards per game.
In last Saturday's 31-29 win over Northern Arizona, Cory McCaffrey ran for 222 yards and four touchdowns. The senior has seven rushing TDs on the year for the Vikings, who have won back-to-back games in a single season for the first time since 2006.
It will be a tall order, however, for Portland State to open with three consecutive victories for the first time since starting 6-0 in 2000.
With last weekend's victory, the Horned Frogs tied the longest home winning streak in Mountain West history, matching the record of 21 held by Utah (2007-10). TCU, which also has won 18 straight home games over non-conference opponents since losing to Northwestern State in 2001, hasn't lost at Amon G. Carter Stadium since 2007, against the Utes.
Updated September 20, 2011