What happens when an unstoppable force hits an immovable object? Just ask TCU's opponents last year. With the nation's No. 1 total defense, they crushed teams who tried to move the ball on the ground.
Led by All-American DE Jerry Hughes, the Horned Frogs put the hurt on running backs and quarterbacks both. Frog head coach Gary Patterson does not like to yield anything, and his defense makes anyone who tries pay for it over and over again.
Last year TCU played 12 FBS schools, which averaged 157 yards on the ground per game. Counting only FBS schools, the Frogs yielded a mere 51 yards each game and 1.8 yards per rushing attempt.
Oklahoma, with the best O-line in college football and great running backs, went 174 yards per game—under its average of 199 yards per game. Some may try to claim this is because they had a big lead early, but this was a revenge game for the Sooners (avenging a 2005 home loss) and there was no reason to go easy on the Frogs.
Boise State averaged 152 yards on the ground last year during its undefeated regular season, but only gained 28 yards against TCU in the bowl game.
Even Air Force with its long-used triple option fell 117 yards per game less than its average.
TCU defense is greatly assisted in this effort by the offense. Patterson uses the offense to support the defense by maximizing time of possession. The Frogs led the nation in time of possession, averaging over 35 minutes per game.
Alabama had the second best rushing defense last year, which is why Utah did not even waste time trying to run the ball in the first half of the Sugar Bowl. A small comparison can help show just how the TCU rushing defense is immovable.
Alabama played 12 FBS schools (sorry, Western Kentucky was in transition last year to FBS). Those schools averaged 161 yards rushing per game (almost identical to TCU's opponents 157). Against Alabama, they went a remarkable 78 yards per game under their average. In comparison, TCU's opponents rushed for 106 yards per game under their average.
Of all of its opponents, only LSU rushed above its average against Alabama. Not a single Frog opponent rushed for above their average against TCU.
Gary Patterson loves defense. For years he has scouted Texas football, looking for the pieces for his defense. High school RBs and QBs are his favorites, as most schools place their most athletic players in one of those two positions.
Jerry Hughes was a prime example. He had never played defense in high school, but Patterson saw him as a prime defensive end with speed and power. When Hughes arrived at TCU, he found No. 98 in his locker.
This year's team should be just as hard to run against, as TCU has reloaded on defense. And if TCU's opponents try to pass, it will not get much easier, as Hughes wants to win the sack title again.
So, if your team has TCU on the schedule this year, hope for a miracle, because the immovable object is going to stop your offense again.