SportsRatings 2015 College Football Pre-season Top 128
|TCU Horned Frogs (Big Twelve #1)|
|AP #3 USA #3||Strength:#1 Success:#5 Overall:#3|
|Record: 12-1||Bowl: Beat Mississippi 42-3 (Peach)
|Picks: AP #2 | USA #2 | Lindy's #2 | Athlon #5 | Steele #2 | ESPN #4
|Record: 10-2||Bowl odds: 99.9% Playoff odds: 37%|
Last year TCU ended the season at #1 in Strength, suggesting they were the true best team in the country, but they couldn't prove it: a 3-point loss to Baylor kept them out of the College Football Playoff. This year they'll try to get there with a team that's almost as good.
10 ret. starters
|2014 Scoring Offense: #2 (raw) #1 (adjusted for opposition)|
|2015 Projected Scoring Offense: #1 (adjusted)
TCU had the #1 offense when adjusted for their schedule; with 10 starters returning we show it getting even better.
|2014 Passing Rank: #7 (raw) #6 (adjusted)||2014 Sacks Allowed (raw): #45|
|2015 Projected Passing Rank: #2 (adjusted)
||2015 Sacks Allowed (proj.): #28|
Trevone Boykin (3,901 yards, 33 TDs, 10 interceptions) was phenomenal last year and if it's possible for him to do better this year he will with 8 of his top 10 targets back. Josh Doctson (1,018 yards, 11 TDs), Kolby Listenbee (753 yards), and Deante Gray (582 yards) all return. With four starters returning to the offensive line QB protection should be even better. Boykin will be a Heisman frontrunner from the start and he has a great chance of winning it.
|Rushing||2014 Rushing Rank: #36 (raw) #33 (adjusted)||2015 Projected Rushing Rank: #16 (adj.)
Leading rusher Aaron Green (922 yards, 8 TDs) is back, and of course QB Trevone Boykin had 707 net yards himself (8 TDs). They do lose #3 rusher BJ Catalon, who had 493 yards and 10 touchdowns last season. The offensive line should be even better this year as only one starter is gone. Back are Brady Foltz, Jamelle Naff, Joey Hunt, and Halapoulivaati Vaitai—all seniors—as well as Aviante Collins who started most of 2013. The Horned Frogs should be very hard to stop on the ground.
|2014 Adjusted Stats:||Rush Defense: #18 Pass Defense per-game: #31 Per-attempt: #16|
5 ret. starters
|'14 Scoring Defense: #9 (raw) #11 (adjusted)||'14 sacks: #16||'14 picks: #1|
|'15 Projected Scoring Defense: #29 (adjusted)
||'15 sacks: #10||'15 picks: #6|
Three defensive line starters are back for the Frogs including James McFarland (7 sacks) and Terrell Lathan (5.5 sacks), and along with backup Mike Tuaua (5 sacks) they should help form an even stronger pass rush. They also get Nebraska transfer Aaron Curry. The problems start at linebacker, however, where both starters—the teams two top tacklers—are gone: Paul Dawson (136 tackles, 6 sacks, 14 tackles for loss) and Marcus Mallet (100 tackles, 10 tackles for loss). The secondary loses three starters including Chris Hackett (7 interceptions) and Kevin White (11 pass breakups); we can't see the Frogs matching their nation-leading 26 interceptions. Overall they lose 6 of last year's 7 top tacklers and we expect a marked decrease in the quality of the defense.
- Kicking Game: Both punter Ethan Perry (39.2 average) and kicker Jaden Oberkrom (22 of 27 field goals) are back for their senior years.
- Return Game: Both Cameron Echols-Luper and BJ Catalon had kick return touchdowns last year, but both are gone this year.
- Turnovers projection: As we mentioned in defense, we don't see TCU coming close to their 26 interceptions from last year.
Coaching Hot Seat Ranking: #109 (COLD)
Gary Patterson stumbled in 2012 at 7-6 then fell to 4-8, but he brought the team back last year to 12-1 and with that, everything is right as far as he's concerned. They had a major drug scandal a few years ago that seems to have completely blown over by now. Patterson showed some courage in hiring offensive coordinators Doug Meachem and Sonny Cumbie to drastically change the offense last year. It worked.
Recruiting 2015 Recruiting Rank: #51 2014 Recruiting Rank: #44
What's amazing about TCU's continued success is that it comes from players who are, for the most part, just above average for the FBS. They aren't getting the 5-star players and normally, not even the 4-stars. When the team was going 11-1 in the C-USA or Mountain West that was one thing, but doing it in the Big Twelve is pretty amazing.
TCU played very well in its first three games, but it was hard to gauge whether they were much improved from last year's 4-8, or whether Samford (48-14), Minnesota (30-7), and SMU (56-0) just sucked. It turned out that yes, TCU was far, far better than last year. The 37-33 Oklahoma win put them on the map, but then in the last 11 minutes of the Baylor game they coughed away a 21 point lead and lost, 61-58, in one of the wildest games ever. Remarkably, instead of feeling sorry for themselves they took it to Oklahoma State 42-9 and then scored 82 on Texas Tech. West Virginia gave them all they could handle, but they blasted Kansas State 41-20. Against Kansas they needed every one of the points they got to win 34-30, but next week they bombed Texas 48-10. They beat Iowa State 55-3 and fell from #3 to #6 in the Committee's rankings. Perhaps motivated by this snub, they obliterated Mississippi 42-3 in the Peach Bowl. Their average performance ranked higher than anyone else's in the end, but they weren't able to prove they were the best team.
Last year's prediction: We really thought we were going out on a limb for TCU, projected a rise in Strength from #43 to #28 and an improvement from 4-8 to 8-4. After all, that doesn't happen very often. In the game-by-game chart we favored the Horned Frogs in 9 games. But TCU blew away our projection and finished 11-1 in the regular season. The big reason was the offense; we'd predicted a jump from #67 to #38—and they jumped to #1 instead.
TCU 2015 schedule & forecast
|9/12||Sat||vs.||Stephen F. Austin||100%||W|
Straight up: 12-0 Cume: 10-2 Undefeated: 15%
As one of our top-rated teams, it's not a surprise that we favor the Horned Frogs in every game. Some of the relative percentages might seem curious, however.
For one, the game at Minnesota ranks as perhaps their toughest game until late November. It's almost matched by games at Texas Tech and Oklahoma State, and Kansas State and West Virginia aren't far behind.
The easiest games are of course, Stephen F. Austin, SMU, Iowa State, and Kansas. Those four are essentially gimmes. Even Texas looks like a walk in the park since it's at home.
That leaves the two toughest games, and a bit surprisingly Baylor doesn't look like their biggest roadblock—that would be Oklahoma in Norman. The Sooners will be fired up to ruin TCU's season, and note the turnaround: only 6 days later they face Baylor, who is coming off playing at Oklahoma State.
TCU may be one of the nation's best teams, but beating two top-10-level opponents in a 6-day span is not easy. If they mess up even once and go 11-1, there is of course no guaranteed entry to the Playoff, though at 12-0 it's pretty inconceivable they'd be left out. Going 10-2 in a conference with no championship game probably doesn't get you in.
We're pretty confident TCU will be 10-0 going into Oklahoma, and that there will be two great games played over the next (almost) week.
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SportsRatings 2015 College Football Pre-season Top 128