ARLINGTON, Texas — It's not hard to figure out why TCU has had its way with BYU the last three seasons.
In those three games, the Frogs have dominated the Cougars in the turnover margin and field position. TCU has set the tone by making big plays and seizing a commanding lead.
"Turnovers and special teams have been the clearest advantage they've had," said BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall.
In 2008, the Frogs recorded six sacks and forced four turnovers. On the game's opening drive, Cougar quarterback Max Hall was blindsided by Jerry Hughes and fumbled the ball away. TCU scored a touchdown two plays later and the Frogs added another score after a Hall interception. In the end, TCU won, 32-7.
In 2009, the Frogs and Cougars traded punts to open the game, then TCU scored on three of its next four drives. On one of those, wide receiver Jeremy Kerley completed a 40-yard reverse pass. The Frogs jumped to a 21-0 lead in the first half and finished with a 38-7 blowout win.
Last season, BYU trailed 3-0 with less than two minutes left in the half when Andy Dalton threw a 35-yard touchdown pass to Josh Boyce. Then Cougar QB Jake Heaps threw an interception that resulted in a quick TCU score. A 17-0 halftime lead turned into a 31-3 final.
The outcome Friday could hinge on "whether we can stop the big plays," Mendenhall said. "We have to defend some of the most unconventional things against good players."
FRIENDLY FOES: Mendenhall and TCU coach Gary Patterson both said this week that they are friends and they have a good relationship.
"Bronco and I have a great relationship. He and I both take football as football and off the field is off the field," Patterson said. "I have high respect for the job he does and the high commitment he has to BYU and to his football team. For me, it's another ballgame. If you got to where you hated everyone in the business every time you played them, after being in this business for 30 years, you wouldn't have any friends."
PASSING DEFENSE: The Cougars have not allowed a passing touchdown in five of its eight games this season. Only Utah (2), Utah State (2) and Oregon State (1) have managed touchdowns though the air against BYU.
TCU has recorded 17 passing touchdowns this season.