The TCU Horned Frogs busted their way into the BCS last year and came up a touchdown short of winning the Fiesta Bowl against another BCS buster, the Boise State Broncos.
Now, with 16 starters returning from last year’s 12-1 BCS bowl team, the Horned Frogs look ready to crash the party again.
However, this year the Frogs are ranked No. 7 in the USA Today Coaches' Poll, putting TCU in an excellent position to do more than just crash the BCS—they could run the table and possibly end up playing for a national title.
The Horned Frogs and head coach Gary Patterson will be tested early with a national televised game as part of college football’s opening weekend with a Sept. 4 matchup against the Oregon State Beavers.
Currently, the Beavers are ranked No. 22 in the Coaches' Poll, and the two teams will meet in the "Death Star" at Cowboys Stadium.
It will be a great chance to see just how for real the 2010-11 TCU team is and if they can perform under the bright lights.
The last time the Frogs were on the big stage, the Fiesta Bowl against Boise State, TCU had its struggles. The Horned Frogs finished just 1-of-12 on third downs, had three turnovers, and trailed the Broncos by nearly 10 minutes in ball possession.
However, the Horned Frogs did find themselves tied at 10 with 3:52 to go in the third quarter, and if the Broncos did not successfully convert a fake punt on a 4th-and-9 on their own 33-yard line early in the fourth quarter, the Frogs could have gotten the ball back and completed their undefeated season.
This is why the matchup with Oregon State on Sept. 4 is all the more important for the 2010-11 Horned Frogs. It will give the Horned Frogs a chance to be put into a pressure situation and be tested early in the season rather than later. A dominating performance by TCU over the Beavers could propel the Horned Frogs into position for more than just a BCS bowl game, but even the national title game.
In his nine years at TCU, head coach Gary Patterson has put together an impressive résumé. He is 85-27 and trails only Dutch Meyer (109 wins) for most wins at TCU.
In six of his nine seasons, the Horned Frogs have won at least 10 games, and he's posted an 11-5 record against college football’s power conferences. He is 5-5 against the Big 12, 3-0 against the Pac-10, 2-0 against the Big Ten, and 1-0 against the SEC.
Bottom line, he has put the TCU football program on the map and continues to deliver quality teams year after year. The culmination of his efforts could come in just his 10th season.
Andy Dalton is undeniably the Frogs’ No. 1 impact player. There is much riding on the shoulders of the fifth-year senior from Katy, Texas.
This will be his fourth year as the starting quarterback at TCU. Dalton is on multiple award watch lists, including the Davey O’Brien Award for the nation’s top quarterback, the Maxwell Award, the Manning Award, and Johnny Unitas Award.
His 29 wins as a starter are tops among all starting quarterbacks in the nation, and he is just one win from replacing TCU’s legendary Sammy Baugh as the winningest quarterback in TCU history.
As the Mountain West Conference’s Player of the Year last year, he threw for 23 touchdowns and set the school single-season passing record by throwing for 2,756 yards.
Dalton was named Preseason MWC Offensive Player of the Year for 2010, and the Horned Frogs will go only as far as he can carry them.
It was TCU’s ground game that impacted the offense the most last year for the Horned Frogs. At 239.5 rushing yards per game, TCU was ranked fifth overall in the nation.
However, it is the receivers that will be expected to get it done this year on offense for the Frogs.
With Andy Dalton at the helm and a very deep pool of wide receivers to choose from, TCU features a passing game with plenty of explosive ability.
TCU averaged 217.2 yards per game through the air last season, which ranked 59th overall. That number should and is expected to improve dramatically in 2010.
The receivers are led by Jeremy Kerley. Kerley, a senior punt/kick returner specialist, is the Frogs’ speed threat at the wide receiver position.
TCU fans can also expect to see a couple of young receivers in Skye Dawson and Josh Boyce be big factors this season, giving the Horned Frogs a passing attack ahead of the others.
TCU featured one of the best defensive teams in the country last year, giving up just 12.8 points per game, and they led the nation by allowing just 239.7 yards per game.
While the Horned Frogs did lose some considerable talent on the defensive side of the ball this past season, they still have junior linebacker Tank Carder.
Brock, who ranked second for TCU with 89 tackles last year, was named the Preseason Mountain West Conference Defensive Player of the Year. To go with his 89 tackles, 10 which went for loss, he also broke up 10 passes (team high) and had one interception.