For the first time since moving into the Big 12, TCU are favored to win the conference and by being nationally ranked as number two in both the AP and Coaches polls, anything but making the College Football Playoff is going to be a disappointment.
The expectations are high from Gary Patterson and his players. After co-winning the Big 12 and losing out on one of the four tickets to the playoffs because of a loss to Baylor and not having a conference championship game, the Horned Frogs went on to demolish Ole Miss in the Peach Bowl, en route to a #3 finish in both polls, their fifth top 10 finish with Patterson, not besting their undefeated 2010 season that ended with beating Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl and a #2 overall ranking, back when TCU were a MWC team.
This season, with just one freshman among their 22 starters on offense and defense, a veteran offensive line and especially the return of explosive quarterback Trevone Boykin, who might end up being close or even winning the Heisman when this season is over, no one is thinking about TCU as small time or a program that’s still getting used to life in a Power conference. With Baylor having a new quarterback, Kansas State looking good but not great, Texas in their usual world of woe and Oklahoma secretly thinking that it might be time for Bob Stoops to go, it’s hard seeing anyone stopping TCU in the Big 12.
It begins against Minnesota, a tough road game against a good, but not special, Big Ten team. Some expect the TCU offense that averaged 533 yards of offense and 46.5 points last season to set new NCAA records this year, its second under co-coordinators Sonny Cumbie and Doug Meacham. From a defensive juggernaut into an offensive powerhouse; who would have guessed? The distinction doesn’t matter, as long as they make it into College Football’s final four.