TCU did all it could on the field to keep its slim BCS hopes alive. Now, the No. 18 Horned Frogs get to play the waiting game.
"It will be interesting to see how things pan out. We'll have to see," receiver Cory Rodgers said. "I wouldn't say that we deserve to be in the BCS. I've think we've shown flashes of being a BCS contender. It would be great to go to a BCS bowl."
Rodgers ran for a touchdown and caught another one, and TCU wrapped up its regular season with a 51-3 victory over UNLV on Saturday night in Fort Worth, Texas.
The Horned Frogs (10-1, 8-0 Mountain West Conference) have won nine straight games — only No. 1 USC (32 games) and No. 2 Texas (17) have longer active winning streaks. It is TCU's fourth 10-win season in six years.
"There's probably a whole bunch of people that don't want to play us in a bowl game," coach Gary Patterson said. "I'll play anybody from about No. 10 up, 10, 11, all the way through it, if they want to decide who should go to it."
TCU is 17th in the latest Bowl Championship Series standings, five spots below what would make the Frogs eligible for one of those high-payout four bowl games. While they are the outright Mountain West champion, their league isn't guaranteed a BCS spot.
So, the Frogs have to sit back and watch for the rest of November and hope for a series of upsets in other games.
While getting into the BCS will be a stretch, Patterson wanted to keep his team focused on finishing strong. So even after clinching the MWC title with a 33-6 victory over Colorado State last week, they waited until after beating the Rebels (2-8, 1-6) to celebrate.
"I told the team to win the game like champions, and I think we did," Patterson said.
The Frogs came out strong, going ahead 17-0 just 7 1/2 minutes into the game before UNLV even gained a yard.
Quentily Harmon caught a 26-yard touchdown pass and Rodgers had a 9-yard TD run for the first two TCU touchdowns.
"We didn't want to celebrate last week because the season wasn't over," said quarterback Jeff Ballard, who completed 17 of 31 passes for 279 yards and two touchdowns. "The season wasn't completed until this game was over, and we wanted to be undefeated in the conference."
In its inaugural MWC season, TCU became only the third team to get through the league undefeated. The Frogs captured their first outright conference title since 1958, having shared four titles in three conferences (Southwest, Western Athletic Conference, Conference USA) the previous 11 seasons.
"That's what we aspire to be," UNLV first-year coach Mike Sanford said.
"We see what they do and how they play," said Rebels quarterback Jarrod Jackson, who was sacked four times. "That's what we want to do."
TCU freshman Aaron Brown ran for 105 yards and three touchdowns on 18 carries. He had a pair of 1-yard TD runs in the second quarter, then capped the scoring with a 31-yard run in the third quarter after Rodgers' 55-yard TD catch.
After the first of Manfredini's three field goals, Ronnie Smith muffed the kickoff return that was recovered by Ervin Dickerson at the UNLV 31. Four plays later, Ballard hit Harmon, who juggled the ball crossing the goal line but gathered it in for a 10-0 lead.
The Rebels lost a yard on their first play and Jackson threw an incomplete pass before Drew Coleman's interception and 22-yard return set TCU up at the 18. Rogers swept around left end on the third play for a 9-yard TD and a 17-point lead.
TCU had 312 of its 587 yards by halftime, when it led 31-3 and Ballard had thrown for 187 yards to six different receivers.
UNLV had just 157 total yards, 62 of them on a pass to Erick Jackson midway through the third quarter. But Sergio Aguayo, who kicked a 32-yard field goal in the first quarter, was wide left on a 38-yard attempt.
The Rebels were the second straight TCU opponent held without a touchdown.
Patterson is the only coach to lead the Horned Frogs to three 10-win seasons (2002, 2003 and 2005), and was the defensive coordinator when they won 10 games in 2000. TCU has only four other 10-win seasons, all in the 1930s.
TCU's only loss was 21-10 at SMU on Sept. 10, a week after a season-opening 17-10 upset victory at then-No. 7 Oklahoma. The winning streak began with consecutive overtime victories, but the Frogs have won their last seven games by an average of 25 points.
SAN DIEGO ST. 30, COLORADO ST. 10: At Fort Collins, Colo., Kevin O'Connell threw for 179 yards and two touchdowns and San Diego State made Colorado State look like anything but a bowl team.
Chaz Schilens had six catches for 85 yards, Jeff Webb had a pretty touchdown catch in the back of the end zone and Lynell Hamilton ran for 108 yards to help San Diego State hand CSU its first home loss of the year.
The Aztecs intercepted three passes, stopped CSU twice on fourth down and forced the Rams to settle for field goal tries on two trips inside the 10. They kept their hopes alive for a .500 season and improved on an up-and-down year in which they had already swept Utah and BYU for the first time since 1986.