Last season, Sonny Dykes took over a TCU program that had parted with longtime legendary coach Gary Patterson. With the uncertainty, the Horned Frogs were picked 7th of 10 teams in the preseason Big 12 poll.
Despite these low expectations, Dykes took TCU to the college football championship game against Georgia. While they got routed in that game, the program vastly exceeded expectations in 2022.
TCU comes into 2023 with much higher expectations. However, let’s not forget the good fortune they had a year ago. Let’s count down the top 5.
- 5. Down two against Baylor, TCU ran the field goal unit onto the field and kicked a game winner as time expired. Dykes talked about how they practice this play, but there was no room for error as the previous play left :17 on a running clock with no timeouts.
- 4. Michigan gifted TCU two interceptions returned for a touchdown in a playoff semi-final. TCU won by six points despite having fewer yards than Michigan.
- 3. Kansas QB Jalon Daniels, a Heisman contender at the time, left the game against TCU with an injury and didn’t return. TCU came back to win 38-31.
- 2. TCU had a 5-0 record in one score games during the regular season. Record in one score games tends to regress to .500, and regression will have a much different effect on TCU than Oklahoma (0-5 in 2022).
- 1. The backup quarterback almost wins the Heisman.
That’s right, Max Duggan was not the starter when TCU took the field against Colorado to open the season. Chandler Morris won the job but got hurt in the first game.
Duggan had an incredible season and finished second in the Heisman voting. Now, the Los Angeles Chargers have waived him and only kept two QBs.
Heading into 2023, TCU has Morris to replace Duggan. This is a piece of good news amidst plenty of roster turnover.
Morris will not have the services of TCU’s top three receivers from last season. This includes NFL first round draft pick Quentin Johnston.
The news might be worse on defense. They lost their most important player on all three levels of the defense.
Sonny Dykes has excelled at using the transfer portal to upgrade his roster, both last year at TCU and the previous four years at SMU. He will need help again in 2023, as players like Oklahoma State WR JP Richardson (49 receptions, 503 yards in 2022) must make immediate contributions.
Even if they do get the transfer bump, TCU is unlikely to have the same good fortune as last season. They are overrated 17th in the preseason AP poll. My market rankings, which take season win totals and back out a rank and rating for each team, has TCU at 26th.
This overrated prediction might look silly in the early part of the season, as TCU should start 5-0 against weaker competition. They should be favored in the next two games at Iowa State and against BYU.
However, my numbers make them the underdog in four of their last five games. Don’t be surprised if they fall out of the top 25 during this difficult stretch.
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