With college football just a couple of weeks away, here is a look at the No. 17 team in Rant Sports 100 in 100 series, the TCU Horned Frogs.
The Horned Frogs have won 50 of their last 55 games and hold 24 straight conference victories. This year, they will finally get their chance to prove that they belong with the “big boys” of college football as they begin their inaugural season in the Big 12 conference.
This year, the Horned Frogs’ charge into their new will be led by junior quarterback, Casey Pachall. Last season, Pachall finished 12th in the nation in passing efficiency completing a school record 66.5% of his passes and throwing 25 touchdowns to just 7 intercetions. He threw for 2,821 yards on the season, also a school record.
His top target, and likely the best all-around player on the team, is Josh Boyce. The junior wide receiver led the team last season with 61 receptions for 998 yards and 9 touchdowns. Boyce needs just 4 more to break TCU’s record for most career receiving TDs.
While the passing game is certainly TCU’s strength, the Horned Frogs also bring a solid running game to the mix. Last year, they had two running backs with 700 rushing yards each, junior Waymon James and senior Matthew Tucker. Last year, James finished with 875 yards (7.5 ypc) and 6 touchdowns. Tucker ended with 702 yards and led the team with 12 rushing touchdowns. They are the only school to have two RBs named to the Doak Walker watch list heading into the fall.
The TCU defense is probably the biggest area of concern heading into the season, and they will be playing in the conference that boasts the best offensive teams in the country.
The key to their defense is junior DE Stansly Maponga who led the Horned Frogs with 9 sacks last season, adding 13.5 tackles for loss and 5 forced fumbles.
Senior linebacker Kenny Cain returns this year, and he too will be instrumental in shutting down opposing offenses. Last season, Cain notched a team-leading 72 tackles.
While TCU’s strength is stopping the run, the secondary is a question mark. They will field 3 new starters in the secondary, and while there is some young talent coming in, the depth is still unproven.
The Horned Frogs will open the season hosting the Grambling State Tigers before heading on the road to face their first Big 12 foe, the Kansas Jayhawks.
They then return to Ft. Worth to play the Virginia Cavaliers and will face their arch-rival SMU Mustangs on the road (cross-town) the following weekend to close out non-conference play.
After hosting Iowa State, playing @ Baylor, then hosting Texas Tech, the Horned Frogs enter into their most difficult stretch of games: @Oklahoma State, @West Virginia, Kansas State, @Texas (Thanksgiving, after an open weekend), and host Oklahoma in their final regular season match-up.
With the Horned Frogs competition getting stronger, we will see if TCU can adapt to a new type of game. They will face some difficult teams in their new conference, but head coach Gary Patterson has positioned his team to perform very respectively in the Big 12. They are fortunate to face Kansas State and OU at home, but have difficult road match-ups against OSU, WVU, and UT.
Based on their schedule, the Horned Frogs could very well finish the season with at least 7 wins, possibly more, and could end the year among the top 5 in their new conference.