FORT COLLINS, Colo. – Ed Wesley scored twice, TCU's swarming defense forced two fumbles and the fifth-ranked Frogs overcame a lethargic start to beat Colorado State 27-0 on Saturday.
The Frogs (5-0, 1-0 Mountain West) were making their first trip out of the state of Texas this season and struggled early, leading just 6-0 at halftime.
Wesley's two touchdowns in the third quarter helped TCU pull away from the Rams (1-4, 0-1), who came in as heavy underdogs.
The Frogs rotated in a steady stream of fresh tailbacks all game long as they gained a season-high 346 yards on the ground. Matthew Tucker led the way with 87 yards, while Wesley added 78.
Andy Dalton had a solid afternoon, doing as much damage with his feet as his right arm. Dalton finished with 67 yards rushing and threw for another 109, including a 39-yard touchdown pass to Jimmy Young early in the fourth quarter.
The senior quarterback attached his name to yet another TCU record, setting the all-time mark for passes attempted on a day when he finished a pedestrian 11 for 24. Dalton already has the school marks in yards, completions, touchdowns passing and wins. This was Dalton's 34th career victory, the most among active quarterbacks in the country.
It wasn't exactly the type of commanding performance the Frogs had in mind. The voters dropped them a spot in the AP poll after last week's 17-point win over SMU.
These days, the Frogs can't afford to just win; they need to win in convincing fashion to show they're worthy of the national championship debate.
TCU's defense carried the day, limiting the Rams to just 161 total yards. The Frogs also held the Rams to only eight first downs as they won their 18th straight regular-season game.
The Frogs weren't clicking early as they had a bunch of dropped passes, along with a few overthrown attempts by Dalton. Their high-powered offense produced only two field goals by Ross Evans in the first half. The six points represented a season low in a half for the Frogs' offense.
The defense, though, picked up the slack. Colorado State had more punts (6) in the opening half than first downs (2). The Rams gained only 51 yards, much of that coming on an 18-yard catch by Lou Greenwood midway through the first quarter.
The Frogs have long been known for a stingy defense, leading the nation the last two seasons. They came in ranked 12th in yards per game, allowing an average of 257.2.
Before the game, the Rams held a moment of silence for 34-year-old Anthony Cesario, a former offensive lineman for Colorado State who died a week ago of possible heart-related issues after finishing up a day of hunting near Steamboat Springs, Colo.