Texas Christian University football hasn’t won a national championship since 1938, but 2015 could prove to be the Horned Frogs’ year. While much of the focus has been on defending champion Ohio State, it might the No.2 team in the AP Top 25 poll that ends up winning the title.
It would be hard to classify TCU as a potential “surprise team,” but much of the nation is probably unaware of how good the Horned Frogs could be in the upcoming season. They may have been considered a snub after being left out of last year’s inaugural College Football Playoff, despite claiming a share of the Big 12 championship and losing just one game by a field goal. One voter even put TCU at No.17 on their ballot for the preseason AP Poll.
TCU dominated its competition in the Mountain West from 2005-2011, averaging 11 wins per year. They struggled during their first two years in the Big 12, going 11-14. But the Horned Frogs proved last year that they are a serious threat to win their first national championship in 77 years.
TCU has an elite offense, led by perhaps the best player in all of college football. Quarterback Trevone Boykin is the favorite to win the Heisman Trophy, coming off a season that saw him throw for 3,901 yards, 33 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He added 707 yards on the ground and eight rushing touchdowns. Boykin’s top two receivers from a year ago will return as well, and TCU’s explosive offense should help make up for the losses they suffered on defense.
Gary Patterson is among the best coaches in college football, which is why he’s often the first coach mentioned to high-profile opening. Few active coaches are as closely identified as the face of their program like Patterson is with TCU. Since being named head coach in 2000, the Kansas native has racked up an impressive 132-45 record, and previously served as the team's defensive coordinator from 1998-2000. The leadership and stability that Patterson brings to TCU is considered the overriding reason for optimism around Fort Worth.
Ohio State is the unanimous preseason No.1 team for good reason, since they didn’t lose one underclassman to the NFL. But history doesn’t favor the Buckeyes’ chances of winning the national title.
Since 2004, no preseason No.1 has ended the season as the national champion. Ohio State has started the year ranked No.1 seven other times, and none of those seasons ended in a national title for the Buckeyes. Betting odds still favor Ohio State at +260, with TCU tied with Alabama for second at +650.
Playing in the Big 12, TCU has a good chance to go undefeated or end the year with just one loss. No.4 Baylor will be TCU’s biggest competition, but the Horned Frogs will get to play the Bears at home, where they went undefeated in 2014. TCU won’t play a ranked opponent until they visit No.19 Oklahoma in their second-to-last game of the season.
TCU has often been overlooked since joining a major conference. While teams like Alabama, Michigan State and Auburn are bigger names, the Horned Frogs might have a better chance of winning two playoff games.
TCU will be tough to ignore in 2015. Their first game is scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 3 at Minnesota.