It wasn't particularly pretty (TCU failed to convert 8 of 14 third- or fourth-downs, including a third down with about 60 seconds left in the game, giving Clemson another opportunity to snatch a victory from the jaws of defeat), but it was on the road, in the pouring rain, against a credible BCS foe with TCU-level talent, and it came on a day when four top-10 teams lost. So TCU will take it, and ride this win at Death Valley right up to the edge of the top ten.
Dalton (at left) was tremendous, running a designed QB sneak with devastating effectiveness (64 yards in the second half), and finding receivers through tight coverage. Ed Wesley, Matthew Tucker, and Joe Turner punished the tired Clemson D to start the fourth quarter (TCU held the ball more than 10 minutes in the third quarter), setting up a Dalton TD pass to Antoine Hicks with 28 rushing yards in three plays.
C. J. Spiller earned the unabashed love-fest that the ESPN announcers gave him, carrying Clemson on his shoulders (and injured turf toe), keeping the otherwise-overmatched Tigers in the game to the final seconds.
Having cleared this hurdle, the Frogs look to host SMU from their loftiest September ranking in generations, and have a chance to begin conference play both carrying the MWC banner, and doing so from the top ten. If Utah and BYU continue in their newfound winning ways, TCU likely will have two ranked opponents waiting in its conference schedule: a luxury Houston and Boise State cannot boast.
Here're the highlights.