The Horned Frogs enter 2011 without Andy Dalton but with a team that is still loaded with defensive talent. Al Dannity likes TCU to remain a force in the Mountain West during their last year in the conference.
The schedule It was never going to be easy to top 2010 but Gary Patterson really has his work cut out if he is to bring TCU back to the BCS. The Horned Frogs open the season at Baylor, with Robert Griffin III bound to test the TCU defense. That’s followed by another tough test, on the road against Air Force. SMU will be no pushovers on October 1 while San Diego State will provide a big challenge on the road a week later.
Newly independent BYU should be much improved on last year, with Jake Heaps eager to shine for the Cougars on October 28. Then it’s the big one. Saturday November 12, a rematch of the Fiesta Bowl from two seasons ago and a game likely to determine a BCS berth. It’s TCU at Boise State on the Smurf Turf.
The players No Andy Dalton? No problem. The Horned Frogs return only 10 starters from last year’s Rose Bowl team but this is a school that reloads, not one that rebuilds. The offense returns All-MWC running back Ed Wesley but as usual it’s the defense where the stars reside. Three all conference selections from last season return in the form of defensive end Stansly Mapongo and linebackers Tank Carder and Tanner Brock. NCAA Football betting fans should also note that kicker Ross Evans and punter Anson Kelton are both returning starters from last year.
The forecast The Mountain West has gone out of its way to ensure TCU gets a rough ride on the way out of the conference. The decision to switch the Horned Frogs game against Boise State to Boise, having originally been down for Fort Worth, is squarely in the interests of the MWC. That is going to hurt the Horned Frogs and, for my money, going to prove fatal in their bid for a perfect season. Not that it will be an easy ride the rest of the way. Remember, TCU made hard work of SMU last season and the Mustangs will be better this year. There’s also that trip to Baylor to consider.
I like the Horned Frogs to get over most of the bumps in the road but they best I can see for them is 11-1. For a Mountain West team, even one with a reputation this good, that’s a huge ask to make the top 10 before bowl season.