TCU a dark horse to win CFP national championship? One expert likes Frogs’ chances

Frog Talk with Drew Davison and Mac Engel

TCU beat writer Drew Davison and columnist Mac Engel answer questions and get story ideas from Frogs fans about the upcoming football season.
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TCU beat writer Drew Davison and columnist Mac Engel answer questions and get story ideas from Frogs fans about the upcoming football season.

TCU’s odds to win the national championship are “a gift,” according to one respected college football prognosticator.

Caesars Sportsbook released their odds on teams to win the national championship, and TCU checked in with 200-1 odds. Phil Steele feels that could possibly become a great return on investment.

Steele points to TCU coach Gary Patterson’s impressive track record following down years, as well as the number of injuries TCU had to overcome simply to get bowl eligible last season.

“It is bounce-back time once again, and I have the Frogs No. 3 on my surprise team list,” Steele wrote. “Last years’ injuries make them much more experienced than their 12 returning starters would indicate.

“TCU ranks among my top units in seven of the eight categories and has a path to make the playoff if they stay healthy. … With Patterson’s bounce-back history, 200-1 odds are a gift.”

TCU is stacked with NFL-caliber players on both sides of the ball.

Offensively, right tackle Lucas Niang and wide receiver Jalen Reagor are potential first-round picks. Defensively, defensive backs Innis Gaines and Jeff Gladney should be playing on Sundays, as well as defensive tackle Ross Blacklock, among others.

The biggest question entering the season is quarterback play. The Frogs struggled with injuries and ineffectiveness at that position last season, and will have an unproven starter this year.

Kansas State transfer Alex Delton has experience playing in the Big 12, but didn’t put up the most impressive numbers in his time with the Wildcats. True freshman Max Duggan has made a favorable first impression, but is transitioning from the high school to college level.

Other options include junior Mike Collins, who flashed at times last season before sustaining a season-ending injury, and redshirt freshman Justin Rogers, who is still not 100 percent recovered from a severe knee injury sustained in high school.

But Patterson feels the Frogs are better positioned to have improved QB play next season, as he said during Big 12 Media Days last week.

Another lingering question for TCU is the status of running back Sewo Olonilua. The Frogs are expected to have a dynamic running back corps with Olonilua and Darius Anderson, but Olonilua is facing drug charges from an arrest in Walker County, Texas in May.

The status of that case is still pending.

Overall, though, TCU is in position to rebound from last year’s 7-6 season.

As Steele noted, the Frogs have a history of success following down years under Patterson. The Frogs went 5-6 in 2004 and responded with consecutive 11-win seasons in 2005-06.

Since joining the Big 12, TCU has had two losing seasons. The Frogs went 4-8 in 2013, but bounced back by going 12-1 and winning the Peach Bowl in 2014. They went 6-7 in 2016, and followed that up by going 11-3 in 2017 and reaching the Big 12 championship game.

Steele noted that he feels five teams have a legitimate chance of winning the Big 12 this season, including TCU. That’s why he feels the Frogs are a nice choice with 200-1 odds.

As he put it, “When Patterson has a down year, the Frogs usually bounce back with a big season.”

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