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2021 TCU Horned Frogs: Contenders or Pretenders?
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

2021 TCU Horned Frogs: Contenders or Pretenders?

TCU is coming off an up and down 6-4 season in 2020. They lost a close game to Iowa State, then beat Texas, then lost at home to K-State, got clobbered by Oklahoma in Fort Worth, and well you get the idea. This year they open with four consecutive home games so they have a chance to get off to a 4-0 start and make some early noise in the Big-12 and gain some respect nationwide. Coach Gary Patterson is starting year 22 with the Frogs and has some pieces that might add up to a run for the Big-12 title.

Offense: The Frogs aren’t worried about the QB position as Max Duggan is back for his third year. He has career totals of 1,081 rushing yards with 16 touchdowns on the ground, and 3,872 passing yards with 25 touchdowns through the air. Those are impressive stats. But, the bad news is, during his time as a starter TCU hasn’t won much. The running back room is loaded with talent who all saw significant playing time as freshmen in 2020. Zach Evans, Darwin Barlow, and Kendre Miller all had big moments last year. The receiver group has Taye Barber and big-play guy Quentin Johnston for Duggan to throw to. The offensive line has to find a left tackle and tight end is a problem but the offense appears to be a strength.

Defense: The defensive line struggled early getting to the passer but improved greatly and Ochaun Mathis is back with his 9 sacks from last year along with Corey Bentley and Khari Coleman. The secondary has cornerback Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson back and he had 13 pass breakups. The safety position has La’Kendrick Van Zandt who they hope will emerge and help ease the sting of losing Trevon Moehrig to the next level.. At linebacker there is a problem with the loss of NFL draft pick Garret Wallow and this will be something that is addressed is the preseason. But, TCU usually comes up with a good defense and you can expect it again in 2021.

Non-Conference Schedule:

9/4 Duquesne

9/11 California

9/25 SMU

These three games are all at home and if the Frogs are going to make a run at the Big-12 title, they should win all of them. I didn’t even know Duquesne had a football team and I would think there are Texas high school football teams that could beat them. California and SMU are legitimate opponents and aren’t automatic wins. Still, anything less than 3-0 would be disappointing.

Conference Schedule:

10/2 Texas

10/9 at Texas Tech

10/16 at Oklahoma

10/23 West Virginia

10/30 at Kansas State

11/6 Baylor

11/13 at Oklahoma State

11/20 Kansas

11/27 at Iowa State

The conference schedule has some tough road games for the Horned Frogs. They have Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Iowa State away from Ft. Worth. If they win one of those that would be an upset. The other two games are at Texas Tech and Kansas State and those are difficult places to win. They get Texas at home and they have them early and they need to win that game. Kansas is a must win and Baylor and West Virginia are too.

Summary: TCU has enough experience and talent on offense to make a run at the Big-12 title. There defense is always good and that will just happen. They have a soft non-conference schedule and have Texas at home in the conference opener and a trip to Texas Tech in the second game. They should be 5-0 heading to Norman for a showdown with Oklahoma and as an added bonus the Sooners will be coming off the always emotional shootout with Texas. But, are they good enough to beat OU and then withstand three remaining road games against Kansas State, Oklahoma State, and Iowa State.

Predicted Finish: 4th Place in the Big-12

Overall Record: 8-4

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