TCU trying to avoid repeat of 2000

Updated: October 24, 2003, 5:39 AM ET

HOUSTON -- TCU was in the same position three years ago: 7-0 with a spot in the Bowl Championship Series rankings.

This time, the 15th-ranked Horned Frogs want to change what happens next.

"The main lesson is the San Jose State lesson. You can't take a game off," said senior defensive end Bo Schobel. "We don't have the opportunity to lose a game."

The dream of an undefeated season and a shot at the BCS in 2000 ended with a 27-24 loss in the eighth game at San Jose State, a team TCU beat 42-0 a year earlier. The Frogs wound up 10-1 and had to settle for the Mobile Alabama bowl.

TCU coach Gary Patterson says complacency won't be a problem Saturday night when the Frogs (7-0, 4-0 Conference USA) play at much-improved Houston (5-2, 2-1).

"We're going to play a team that we know a lot about," Patterson said. "Every game we've played against Houston has been a nip-and-tuck battle. We've had a couple of breaks the last couple of years go our way."

The Frogs have won the last two games in the series 34-17. Last year, they had TD returns of a kickoff and interception to break a halftime tie.

After No. 3 Virginia Tech's loss Wednesday, the Frogs are one of just four undefeated Division I-A teams. Their nine-game winning streak matches No. 1 Oklahoma for the longest in the nation.

Despite last weekend's 45-14 loss to Memphis that snapped a four-game winning streak, Houston is in the midst of a renaissance under coach Art Briles. The Cougars have matched last year's win total and are one win shy of bowl eligibility, seven years after their last postseason appearance.

"We'll have to rise to play above our normal level, just because that should be expected," said Houston offensive lineman Rex Hadnot. "TCU is not going to beat itself, so we're going to have to do a good job executing our game plan and beating them."

TCU has continued winning despite key injuries.

Sophomore quarterback Tye Gunn, who's undefeated in eight starts since making his debut last season against Houston, probably won't start Saturday. He pulled a groin in last Saturday's win over UAB.

But junior Brandon Hassell won three starts while Gunn recovered from a separated shoulder earlier this season.

Running back Lonta Hobbs, the team's top scorer, is still limited because of an ankle injury. But freshman Robert Merrill has three 100-yard games and is the team's leading rusher (522 yards).

The Frogs were 14th this week in the first BCS rankings. But that's not their focus right now.

"I'm real excited about that possibility, but we understand that it doesn't mean anything except if we keep winning," Patterson said. "So, really we don't have anything to talk about until we get into December."

Plus, the former defensive coordinator is too concerned about a Houston offense that is averaging 401 yards and 29 points a game even with true freshman quarterback Kevin Kolb and the top rusher and receiver both being sophomores.

"They do a nice job of getting the ball in the hands of their playmakers," Patterson said. "I've got millions of wideouts dancing across my mind, motioning out of every formation."

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index