The recently released Amway Coaches Poll placed the TCU Horned Frogs in the second place behind the defending national champion Ohio State. That was of course not a big surprise, considering the Horned Frogs are coming off one of their most successful campaigns in the program’s history, where they won Big 12 Conference Championship and finished 12-1, including a 42-3 rout over Ole Miss in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl. Moreover, the Horned Frogs return with a good number of their starters from last season, including 10 in offense, led by Heisman hopeful QB Trevone Boykin. But are the Horned Frogs worthy of such a ranking, placed even above FSU, Alabama and Oregon who made the playoffs? Or better yet, will TCU live to the poll expectations and have a better season in College Football betting odds, or will the team disappoint the many pundits who are high on them ahead of the new season?
Does TCU Deserve Preseason NCAA Football Odds Coaches’ Poll Position?
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) August 5, 2015
Why TCU is Still a Program to beat in Big 12
As per the poll, TCU ranks above its major rivals in the conference such as Baylor (sits fourth), Oklahoma (sits at No.19) while Texas A&M and Texas are both missing in the top 25. This No.2 ranking marks the Frogs highest appearance in a preseason poll in the school’s history. Furthermore, the Frogs are the preseason favorites to win the Big 12 title. The recent two occasions TCU was predicted to win the conference title was in 2009 and 2010, where in both cases, TCU completed the regular season undefeated and reached the Fiesta Bowl and Rose Bowl, respectively.
More importantly, TCU has a Heisman Trophy front-runner in Boykin, a player who scooped several awards in 2014, including First-team All-Big 12, Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year and) and Peach Bowl Offensive MVP. In addition to the extraordinary skills of Boykin, the Frogs have a proven coaching staff, led by Gary Patterson, a three-time MWC champ (2005, 2009 and 2011) and a Big 12 champ (2014). And to affirm their pedigree, the Horned Frogs only lost a single game last season, which was a road game against Baylor (co-champions of the Big 12), where they lost by just three points (58-61). Other conference rivals like Kansas State, Texas and Texas Tech and the two Oklahoma teams could not match them last season. With the Frogs having a better squad that is looking good enough to make bigger leaps in 2015, it therefore makes sense that they are ranked that highly in the preseason polls.
Why TCU may not live to Up to the Expectations
No one outside TCU fans expected Boykin (3,901 Passing Yards last season) to be as good as he was last season. The QB catalyzed the entire TCU game into new heights. If he fails to replicate such kind of performance this year, Boykin will probably take the entire offense down with him, as the team greatly depends on him. Additionally, if the secondary struggles as they did against Baylor, where they were put into many mismatches, the Horned frogs could be doomed in the pass-rush by tough programs, probably forcing them to miss out on the Big 12 title.
Notably, keeping everyone on the field and remaining fresh was a huge reason for TCU success last season. The only major injury they had to deal with last season was B.J. Catalon’s concussion midway through the season. Nonetheless, Aaron Green (who led TCU in rushing with 922 yards and nine touchdowns on 7.1 yards per carry) stepped up and minimized the damage of Catalon’s loss. If the Horned Frogs will not maintain the same level of health and fitness, it will be difficult for the school to stay competitive late in the season, particularly for the late-year duels against Oklahoma and Baylor, which could affect their capacity to win games.
Even if that surprisingly emphatic bowl win is part of the reason for the sky-high expectations for TCU, it does not mean the Horned Frogs are any more likely to live up to those expectations this year. In fact, the evidence from the past couple of seasons suggests that expectations created by those kinds of surprisingly emphatic bowl wins are far less likely to be met, especially among Power Five programs. That said, a healthy Trevone Boykin and a healthy TCU team will be nearly unstoppable to any tam, so a great season can be expected from them, barring any huge injuries or unexpected suspension.