Purple crystal ball: game-by-game prediction for TCU's 2018 football season

We're still three months from the college football season, but it's never too early to start making predictions.

For TCU, which opens at home against Southern on Sept. 1, it should be another strong year.

Sure, the Horned Frogs will be starting an inexperienced sophomore quarterback in Shawn Robinson. But the sophomore from DeSoto is super talented and should be surrounded with enough steady hands on offense to help him through any growing pains.

Plus, the TCU defense has a chance to be one of the best in recent Frogs' history. It's experienced and deep and could propel TCU back to the Big 12 Conference championship.

So close your eyes (after reading this), dream Frog thoughts, and imagine the following season playing out for TCU …

Sept. 1 … TCU 45, Southern 3

Quarterback Shawn Robinson puts any concern to rest about whether he's ready to take over the Frogs' offense with more than 300 total yards and five touchdowns against overmatched Southern. The defense limits the Jaguars to less than a 100 yards of offense and forces five turnovers.

Sept. 8 … TCU 35, SMU 30

The Frogs, perhaps looking past the Mustangs to next week's showdown against Ohio State, hold off SMU in University Park during a Friday night primetime game on ESPN. It isn't easy and takes another comeback (just like in 2017), but TCU outlasts SMU with a dominating defensive performance in the fourth quarter.

Sept. 15 … Ohio State 33, TCU 28

The Buckeyes hold off the Frogs at AT&T Stadium in a wild, ABC primetime game filled with big plays. Cowboys' running back and Ohio State alumnus Ezekiel Elliott watches from the sidelines as sophomore running back J.K. Dobbins (from La Grange, Tex.) puts on a show. Frogs' running back Darius Anderson and Sewo Olonilua are impressive as well, but a couple of turnovers doom TCU's chances.

Sept. 22 … TCU 30, Texas 27

TCU beats the Longhorns for the fifth consecutive season but it doesn't come easy. After beating Texas by an average of 30 points in the previous four seasons, the Frogs have to hold off the Horns late in front of 100,000 fans at Darrell K. Royal Memorial Stadium in Austin. The defense comes up huge again late with a game-clinching turnover.

Sept. 29 … TCU 42, Iowa State 17

Robinson has a big day in the air and receivers KaVontae Turpin and Jalen Reagor catch touchdown passes. The defense, led by leading tackler Ty Summers, holds the Cyclones to under 200 total yards as the Frogs improve to 2-0 in the Big 12.

Oct. 11 … TCU 36, Texas Tech 33

The Frogs and Red Raiders have played some wild ones over the past five years. They've also played some duds, including TCU's 27-3 thumping in Lubbock in 2017. Four of the six games have gone down to the wire, however, including twice ending in overtime in 2012 and '16.

It happens again in 2018, as the two rivals trade touchdowns and turnovers before TCU hits a game-winning field goal in the final minutes.

Oct. 20 … TCU 27, Oklahoma 24

After losing four consecutive games to the Sooners, including twice in 2017, the Frogs finally escape with a win over Baker Mayfield-less Oklahoma. Just as the previous win against Texas Tech, this one goes down to the wire. But this time, TCU's defense comes up big to stop the Sooners on the final drive. Before losing by 18 and 24 points to Oklahoma in '17, each Big 12 game between the teams had been decided by a touchdown or less.

Oct. 27 … TCU 44, Kansas 13

After two barnburners at home, nothing like a relaxing game in Lawrence, Kan., against the Jayhawks. All jokes aside (sort of), TCU buries Kansas early as Robinson comes into his own. Even backup quarterback Michael Collins impresses during garbage time as TCU improves to 5-0 in conference.

Nov. 3 … TCU 24, Kansas State 10

Back in Fort Worth, TCU wins a typical slugfest against the Wildcats. It's TCU's final game against K-State coach Bill Snyder, who turned 79 a month before, and has announced he'll retire (for the second and final time) after the '18 season. The Wildcats are coming off consecutive losses, including a loss at Oklahoma the previous week. [Remember: These are predictions! Snyder may coach into his 100s.]

Nov. 10 … West Virginia 27, TCU 23

Turnovers are a problem on a cold and wet day in Morgantown, W. Va., and they come back to haunt the Frogs, who suffer their first and only conference loss. TCU has its chances to overcome four turnovers and pull out a last-minute victory but a fifth turnover helps the Mountaineers hold on.

Nov. 17 … TCU 48, Baylor 27

The Bears are better in their second season under coach Matt Rhule but they're still lacking the depth to stay with the Frogs in Waco. TCU beats Baylor for the fourth consecutive season as the Frogs' defense collects three interceptions and shuts down the Bears' offense in the second half.

Nov. 24 … TCU 36, Oklahoma State 30

TCU closes out the regular season with a another close win in Fort Worth against the Cowboys. Offensive Freshman of the Year candidate receiver Taye Barber leads the way with his fifth 100-yard game and tenth touchdown reception. The Frogs finish 8-1 in the Big 12 and meet Oklahoma in the conference championship for the second consecutive season.