No. 15 TCU showed off its stellar defense and bolstered its BCS buster credentials with a 14-10 victory at Clemson on Saturday.
Andy Dalton threw two touchdown passes and the Horned Frogs (3-0) held Clemson to 117 yards in the second half to take control.
Not that it was easy.
TCU trailed 10-7 entering the fourth quarter as it had its own problems against a Tiger defense which held Boston College to 54 yards a week earlier.
That's when Dalton ended a 56-yard drive with a 25-yard TD pass to Antoine Hicks to move in front with 12:46 left.
The Tigers (2-2) twice advanced inside TCU's 20 down the stretch but could not score. The initial drive ended with Richard Jackson's first field goal miss in three games. The other died at the Frogs 16 as Kyle Parker threw a fourth-down incompletion to the end zone with 1:55 left.
Clemson got the ball back one last time with 1:03 to go _ and again TCU held as Parker's desparation fourth-down heave was knocked aside.
Tigers star C.J. Spiller rushed for 112 yards and had a touchdown.
Spiller also joined another do-everything star, former Southern California Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush, in an exclusive college football club. They are the only players with at least 2,500 yards rushing, 1,500 yards in kickoff returns, 1,00 yards receiving and 500 yards in punt returns.
Spiller couldn't bring Clemson coach Dabo Swinney his first victory over a ranked team since taking over last October.
When Parker's final pass hit the ground, TCU defenders leaped and ran to the sidelines in celebration. And why not? Along with grabbing an impressive nonconference victory against an Atlantic Coast Conference team, the school left Death Valley with a $1 million guarantee for the one-time matchup.
Dalton completed 17 of 26 for 226 yards, with a 6-yard TD pass to Curtis Clay in the opening quarter. Dalton also rushed for 86 yards and kept the Tigers off balance.
This game figured to be a low-scoring, trench fight between two of the country's top defenses. And it was, after a few early fireworks.
Clemson drove 72 yards with the game's opening kick, moving easily on TCU for nearly 7 minutes. The Frogs toughened up in the red zone, though, holding the Tigers to Jackson's ninth straight field goal over the past three games.
TCU took advantage of a big break on the following series when Clemson defensive end Da'Quan Bowers tipped Dalton's pass high in the air and into the waiting hands of tailback Ed Wesley behind everyone else for a 58-yard catch and run.
Dalton connected with Clay for a score moments later.
That's when things got physical. Both defenses dug in, even trading fourth-and-short stops.
The Tigers got theirs when TCU, which had driven to the Clemson's 24, passed up a field goal try for a straight-ahead carry by Joseph Turner that was stuffed by linebacker Kavell Conner with 11:48 left in the second quarter.
The Horned Frogs got payback about 7 minutes later, nose tackle Jeremy Coleman halting Clemson's Jamie Harper for no gain.
As usual, it took Spiller to open up the Tigers' offense. He snuck behind linebacker Daryl Washington for a 60-yard catch to the TCU 4. Three plays _ and an TD overturned by an official review _ later, Spiller got in for a 1-yard score and a 10-7 lead at half.