LAS VEGAS -- TCU was predicted to win the Mountain West Conference by a collection of media members the last two seasons at the league's July media days. The Horned Frogs responded by winning consecutive conference titles with perfect regular seasons.
In 2011, with Boise State joining the MWC, the Frogs can reclaim an underdog mentality after the Broncos were predicted to win the conference by earning 28 of 31 first-place votes. TCU garnered the three remaining first-place votes.
Air Force was picked to finish third, followed by San Diego State, Colorado State, Wyoming, UNLV and New Mexico.
Frogs' coach Gary Patterson is fine with the prediction.
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"It's not where you begin, it's where you finish," Patterson said during TCU's podium session Tuesday, which kicked off the MWC Media Days at the Red Rock Resort. Patterson noted that in 2005, in the Frogs' first year in the MWC, TCU was picked to finish sixth before winning the league championship.
"We understand the level of competition with adding Boise State," Patterson said. "It's going to be a strong field again" despite the MWC losing Utah and BYU.
Patterson, along with receiver Josh Boyce and Tank Carder sitting at the podium, fielded a few questions about TCU's showdown at Boise State on Nov. 12. After Carder and Boyce responded judiciously to questions about the Broncos, Patterson interjected.
"You don't hear me talking about Boise yet," Patterson said. Later, during Patterson's sit-down interviews with the print media, he downplayed questions about the Frogs' games with Boise State and Air Force being changed this winter. TCU was originally expected to host Boise State and had requested a bye in Week 2. Instead, the Frogs are on the road against the Broncos and on the road at Air Force Sept. 10 after opening the season at Baylor.
"The mark of a champion and a great program is how you play on the road," Patterson said.
"Most people play a lot better at home. You understand if you want to have a great year you're going to have to win on the road. And for us, we're going to have to do it right off the bat."
Carder expects another close contest when Boise State and TCU meet for the third time in four years.
"Anytime in the past when we've matched up with Boise it has been a dogfight," Carder said. "It's always a fun game and both teams come out swinging. It's going to be a lot of fun to see what happens whenever we go to Boise and play on the blue turf."
Patterson, speaking about opening on the road at Baylor and Air Force, as well as playing in Boise, Idaho, said his older players know what to expect.
"They understand what it means to be in front of a big crowd, they understand you have to take your own emotion," he said. "You're not going to get a lot of help. If you want to win on the road you have to take the game. That's why we practice the way we do."
Until Nov. 12, Patterson and his players will likely put the kibosh on discussing the showdown with the Broncos.
"Everybody keeps asking if we're going to be affected by the blue turf and we really won't know until we get there and see what happens," Carder said.
TCU linebacker Tank Carder was named the Mountain West Preseason Defensive Player of the Year and three Frogs were named to the All-Mountain preseason team. Receiver Josh Boyce, offensive lineman Kyle Dooley and defensive end Stansly Maponga were named to the preseason team.
Carder, a first-team 2010 selection, was the only unanimous selection to the preseason team.
Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore was named the Preseason Offensive Player of the Year and Air Force kick returner Jonathan Warzeka was named the Preseason Special Teams Player of the Year. Boise State led the league with seven All-Mountain selections. Air Force tied TCU with four.