Andy Dalton trotted off the field, a single-stem red rose in hand.
The next stop for the BCS-busting Horned Frogs could very well be the Rose Bowl.
Dalton threw three touchdown passes before leaving with a minor elbow injury and No. 4 TCU capped its second straight undefeated regular season with another Mountain West championship, beating lowly New Mexico, 66-17, on Saturday in Albuquerque.
TCU (12-0 overall, 8-0 Mountain West) has been jockeying with Boise State for a possible BCS appearance and got a major boost when Nevada knocked off the Broncos on Friday.
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“Honestly, I feel bad for Boise State,” TCU coach Gary Patterson said. “I know how hard they’ve worked to get where they’re at. We’ve been down the same road.”
If form holds next week across the college football landscape, it could be a purple Rose Bowl. Of course, if either No. 1 Oregon or No. 2 Auburn loses, it could possibly create a spot in the BCS championship game.
“We’ll be happy to be in whichever game we go to,” Dalton said. “… You never know, but if we play in the Rose Bowl, that’s going to be a lot of fun.”
Fullback Luke Shivers scored twice on short runs and reserve QB Casey Pachall passed for one TD and ran for another as TCU dominated New Mexico (1-11, 1-7).
Patterson said the second-quarter injury to Dalton was not serious.
“Andy will be fine,” Patterson said. “We just didn’t want to take any chances.”
With Dalton watching, TCU scored five unanswered TDs in the second half to pull away from a 31-17 halftime margin.
Hawaii 59, at New Mexico State 24: Alex Green rushed for 327 yards and three touchdowns, Bryant Moniz threw four touchdown passes and the Warriors (9-3, 7-1 WAC) routed the Aggies (2-10, 1-7).
Hawaii, which secured a share of the conference title, is currently tied for first place with Boise State and Nevada. Nevada has one WAC game remaining.
Louisiana Tech 45, at San Jose State 38: Lennon Creer rushed for 252 yards and three touchdowns, and Phillip Livas tied an NCAA record with an 88-yard punt return for a touchdown to lead the Bulldogs past the Spartans. Tech (5-6, 4-3 WAC) overcame quarterback Jordan La Secla’s career-high 496 yards and five touchdown passes for San Jose State (1-11, 0-7).
At San Diego State 48, UNLV 14: Ryan Lindley threw four touchdown passes as Aztecs (8-4, 5-3 Mountain West) smacked the Rebels (2-10, 2-6). Freshman Ronnie Hillman ran for 152 yards to finish with 1,304 for the season.