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Dalton tosses three TD passes as No. 13 TCU crushes UNLV

LAS VEGAS -- There was no looking ahead for No. 13 TCU against UNLV.

Andy Dalton threw three touchdown passes to lead the Horned Frogs past the Rebels 44-14.

TCU (9-1, 6-0) takes a five-game winning streak into their game at No. 10 Utah on Thursday night, a potential showdown for first place in Mountain West Conference.

"You always want to play in the big arena," TCU coach Gary Patterson said of this Thursday's game. "Utah is a good football team -- lot better at home. We've got a lot of work to do. We have to get everyone healed up and ready to go."

Dalton completed 16-of-29 for 151 yards and rushed for 52 yards on nine carries.

"That was a big win for us, especially on the road," Dalton said. "When they asked me to run, I was able to do what I could. We were able to score points. Now we can focus on the next game. Coach kept mentioning we had to play UNLV first. We have to keep our focus. We were able to run the ball. Our defense played great."

UNLV (3-6, 0-5) lost its fifth consecutive game.

Dalton has nine touchdown passes in the last three games since coming back from a two-game absence because of a right knee injury.

The Frogs ran for 259 yards, led by Aaron Brown's 60.

UNLV managed only 108 against the No. 1 run defense in the country. TCU was allowing 10.4 points per game and 1.2 yards per rush coming into the game.

TCU's first drive lasted 17 plays capped by a Dalton 1-yard pass to Justin Watts with 5:21 left in the first quarter.

The Horned Frogs then went up 14-0 thanks in part to Robert Henson's first-quarter interception of Omar Clayton's pass.

Clayton finished 5-of-13 for 45 yards and left with a right knee injury in the third quarter. Clayton's status for next week's game against New Mexico is unclear. He is going to receive an MRI on Monday.

Henson's second pick of the season at the Rebels' 34, led to Joseph Turner's 3-yard touchdown run up the middle with 3:09 left in the first quarter.

The Rebels could not penetrate the second-best scoring defense in the nation, but scored their first touchdown after a dropped punt return by Brown.

It was recovered by Chris Brogdon at the TCU 12. Clayton hooked up with Rodelin Anthony for a 15-yard touchdown reception to make it 14-7.

The Frogs went up 24-7 at halftime after Dalton found Evan Frosch wide open on the left side from 4 yards with :30 left in the half.

"They're a very good football team," UNLV coach Mike Sanford said. "They're very fast. They're the best football team we've played."

Brown's 23-yard run down the left side added to the lead in third quarter, and Jimmy Young caught Dalton's last touchdown pass from 13 yards with 2:38 left in the third quarter. Brown led five double-digit rushers for the Frogs.

"That's normal for us -- spread it around," Patterson said. "It gets a lot of guys involved for us. Everyone has to do their part and it keeps everyone in the game."

This was the fourth time UNLV faced a ranked opponent this season. The Rebels are 1-3 in those games, only winning at Arizona State, then ranked No. 15 on Sept. 13. They lost to Utah and BYU on the road.