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College Football Countdown: No. 18 TCU Horned Frogs

What Will National Finalists Do for an Encore?

What a 2022 season for the Texas Christian Horned Frogs, who won the first 12 games and then topped Michigan in the semifinals of the College Football Playoffs. The season ended with TCU being overwhelmed by defending national champion Georgia.

When it comes to college football predictions, even with many key departures, TCU is 18th in the countdown of the 2023 top 25 college football teams.

NCAAF Countdown: No. 18 TCU Horned Frogs
Max Duggan #15 of the TCU Horned Frogs warms up prior to the game/Christian Petersen/Getty Images/AFP

Few people saw that sort of season coming in 2022, so perhaps TCU will exceed the expectations going into this season. It helps that eight starters are back on defense.

When looking at the college football news, TCU dipped into the transfer portal to rebuild the group of pass catchers with JoJo Earle (Alabama), Jaylon Robinson (Ole Miss), Dylan Wright (Minnesota), and John Paul Richardson (Oklahoma State) joined by former LSU tight end Jack Bech as key additions.

Quarterback Chance Nolan comes in from Oklahoma State and running back Trey Sanders is one of three Alabama players to land at TCU. Missouri State defensive lineman Tico Brown and Florida defensive back Avery Helm have a chance to play immediately.

The Horned Frogs also had the No. 3-rated incoming recruiting class in the Big 12 Conference and some of those players could play immediately.

Texas Christian failed to cover against the college football picks in three of the last five games last season.

According to the college football picks, TCU (+10000) is tied for 19th in the odds to win the national title.

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TCU Horned Frogs

  • 2022 record: 13-2
  • 2022 Big 12 record: 9-0
  • Head coach: Sonny Dykes
  • Odds to win conference title: +1600

The Max Duggan to Quentin Johnston connection drove the TCU offense a season ago, with Duggan throwing for 3,698 yards with 32 touchdowns and eight interceptions.

Johnston averaged 17.8 yards on his 60 catches and was fourth nationally with 13 catches of at least 30 yards.

Chandler Morris headed into last season as the No. 1 quarterback before an injury opened the door for Duggan to lead the Horned Frogs to the national title game.

The top three rushers and receivers are gone. Sanders got caught up in the numbers game at Alabama and could thrive as TCU’s lead back. He did run for 67 yards against Cincinnati in the national semifinals in 2021.

Richardson had 49 catches at Oklahoma State as a sophomore and could work out of the slot at TCU, Wright (17 catches) and Earle (12 catches) could contribute immediately. Keep an eye on receiver Savion and tight end Jarred Wiley. The offensive line added Tommy Brockermeyer from Alabama, Coltin Deery from Maryland, and Willis Patrick from Jackson State

Griffin Kell could be the top kicker in the Big 12 as he was 17 of 19 on field goals last season. Punter Jordy Sandy went from averaging 43.3 yards per punt in 2021 to 39.9 in 2022 so he looks to get back to his previous level.

Linebacker Johnny Hodges, defensive back Josh Newton and defensive lineman Damonic Williams all earned first-team preseason All-Big 12 honors. That is a good place to start for what could be an improved defense if the pass rush comes on.

Newton is already showing up on national award watch lists after having 35 tackles, 12 pass breakups, and three interceptions a season ago.

Hodges, Mark Perry, and Jamoi Hodge all had more than 80 tackles a season ago

Those who bet online might be interested to know that TCU was 11-0 when listed as the favorite during the 2022 season and 8-2-1 against the spread.

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Outlook

The defense was exposed against Georgia in the national title game. TCU allowed more than 500 yards in both games in the College Football Playoffs. The Horned Frogs won five games when allowing at least 30 points. This year’s offense might not be explosive enough to repeat that feat in 2023.

There was a seven-game stretch when the Horned Frogs won each time by 10 points or less so they were living dangerously while finding ways to win. Will TCU be able to do that again?

Offensive coordinator Garrett Riley left for Clemson so Kendal Briles takes over as the offensive play caller while Joe Gillespie is in his second season as the defensive coordinator at TCU.

Four teams were ahead of TCU in the odds to win the Big 12 title. Then again, those making college football picks didn’t project what happened at TCU in 2022.

Opening the season against a Colorado team that has the top-rated group of incoming transfers as Deion Sanders wasted little time reconfiguring the roster with more than 50 incoming transfers. TCU is listed by the college football spreads as a 20-point favorite.

Big 12 play begins on Sept. 16 against conference newcomer Houston as the first five games are all played in Texas. That could be a challenging conference opener. Nine games finished over the total a season ago.

The last three games of the regular season come against Texas, Baylor, and Oklahoma and that won’t be easy, especially with Texas and Oklahoma contests being on the road. The bye week comes after a road game against Kansas State in Week 8 and that is not ideal.

The expectations are a little lower than would be expected for a team coming off a 13-win season. There is a price of -130 to top 7½ wins compared to even money to go under that total

2023 Schedule

  • Sept. 2 vs Colorado
  • Sept. 9 vs Nicholls
  • Sept. 16 at Houston
  • Sept. 23 vs Southern Methodist
  • Sept. 30 vs West Virginia
  • Oct. 7 at Iowa State
  • Oct. 14 vs Brigham Young
  • Oct. 21 at Kansas State
  • Nov. 2 at Texas Tech
  • Nov. 11 vs Texas
  • Nov. 18 vs Baylor
  • Nov. 24 at Oklahoma

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