TCU Horned Frogs Finally Getting Some Respect

It’s been a tremendously successful first season at the helm of the TCU Horned Frogs for coach Sonny Dykes. Ranked at No. 4 in the latest CFP Rankings, TCU sits at a perfect 10-0 with just two weeks remaining in the regular season. Can the Frogs pull this thing off?

Week after week, the Horned Frogs are doubted. Yet they continually come out on top. Do that a few more times, and they could suddenly become surprise champions. In a year when the competition feels more open than in years past, there may be a path for Dykes’s darkhorse contender.

With just two weeks left in the regular season, the College Football Playoff race is beginning to take shape. The market was stable after Week 11, but two movers at BetMGM included the Tennessee Volunteers, who jumped from +1800 to +1400 after a dominant win, and TCU, who moved from +5000 to +2500 after an “upset” win over the Texas Longhorns.

The fact that last week’s win was considered an upset tells you all you need to know about how undervalued this Horned Frogs team has been. Despite an unblemished 9-0 record, the Frogs were +7.5 underdogs to a Texas team that was 11-10 under Steve Sarkisian. TCU did what it has always done this season and found a way to win, pulling off the 17-10 “upset.” 

Can the Frogs keep winning in this manner? The betting market has yet to think so, although they’re starting to buy in, and that’s evident in how TCU’s National Championship odds were halved this week.

The offense is undeniably legitimate, led by a four-year starter at quarterback (Max Duggan) and a future first-round NFL Draft selection at wide receiver (Quentin Johnston). TCU is averaging 40.5 points per game this season on 486.1 yards of offense.

The ground game has a veteran and effective offensive line and a future NFL running back in Kendre Miller, who has already amassed 1,147 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns.

While the defense isn’t as fearsome as some of the other top contenders in the country (ahem, Georgia, ahem, Michigan), they’ve been good enough to get the job done, and that has to count for something. It might not be hyperbole to call defensive coordinator Joe Gillespie a football savant.

The Horned Frogs have notably held four of its last five opponents below 400 yards. They aren’t dominant on that side of the ball, but they’ve been improving and are led by a very bright game planner, giving them a shot in any game they play, regardless of the opponent. 

The regular season concludes against the Baylor Bears and Iowa State Cyclones, two games in which TCU will be favored. They have already clinched a spot in the Big 12 Championship Game. Considering how hesitant the committee has been to rank the Frogs among the other top teams in the country, it’s not a sure thing whether the Frogs would receive a bid if they were to lose one of the remaining three games.

It helps that the Clemson Tigers have been mostly underwhelming, and the Pac-12 is cannibalizing its chances for a bid, so a one-loss TCU team is certainly not out of the realm of possibility. However, it can be termed “unlikely,” given what we know about the committee.