Frogs, Spartans looking to build momentum for 2013
Dec. 28, 2012 at 11 p.m.
TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) - All those years TCU was winning conference championships and busting the BCS, the Horned Frogs' accomplishments were always couched with this caveat: Look at who they played against.
All it took was one middle-of-the-pack season in the Big 12 to change perceptions.
"The interesting thing is perception-wise, as far as the media and the fan base, I think we gained more respect being 7-5, than we did 11-2 last year," TCU coach Gary Patterson said. "In people's minds, they didn't know whether we could compete ... on a week-to-week basis. I think our kids showed us we can do that."
TCU's next chance to prove something will be against Michigan State tonight in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl in Tempe, Ariz.
It figures to be as tough a task as anything the Horned Frogs (7-5) faced in the Big 12, at least from a defensive standpoint.
Instead of the quick-and-athletic defenses TCU faced in its first season in the Big 12, the Spartans (6-6) are big, physical and love to knock opponents around.
Michigan State finished the regular season with the nation's fourth-best defense, giving up 273.25 yards per game, and was 10th in scoring, allowing 16.33 points.
The Spartans' defense allowed them to keep every game but one - a 20-3 loss to Notre Dame on Sept. 15 - close, with five of their loses coming by a combined 13 points.
"Their D-line and linebackers are one of the best in the nation against the rush and they're a very aggressive defense," TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin said.
Boykin will be the key to TCU finding holes in it.
The redshirt freshman was thrust into the starting role against Iowa State in the fifth game of the season after Casey Pachall was arrested on driving while intoxicated charges and later left the team to enter an inpatient rehabilitation facility.
A dual-threat quarterback, Boykin had a less-than-stellar start, throwing an interception on his first pass and two more in the fourth quarter of the 37-23 loss to the Cyclones. He bounced back quickly, though, throwing for four touchdowns and running for another score while not turning it over once in a 49-21 win over Baylor.
Boykin completed 58 percent of his passes for 1,853 yards and 15 TDs with nine interceptions on the season.
Like Michigan State, the Horned Frogs have one of the nation's best defenses, finishing 18th in total defense at 332 yards per game while playing against the explosive offenses of the Big 12