Gary Patterson is set to begin his 19th season as the head coach in Fort Worth. He has taken the Frogs to 16 bowl games in that time and has had four seasons with an unbeaten conference record (all in the Mountain West). TCU has found the Big 12 to be tougher sledding; in 7 seasons, the Frogs have only three with a conference record above .500.
However, it should also be noted that those three seasons (above .500 in conference) have all occurred in the last five years, and TCU has finished the season ranked in the top 10 in each of those three seasons.
Kansas @ TCU
September 28, 2019: Time TBD
Fort Worth, TX: Amon G. Carter Stadium (45,000)
About the TCU Offense
The Frogs return 73% of their offensive production from 2018, which sounds good even though TCU has literally no idea who will run this offense this upcoming season. The program actually released a depth chart back in late May, and there were four quarterbacks on it: Alex Delton, Michael Collins, Justin Rogers, and Max Duggan. Collins was the primary backup for Shawn Robinson last year, so he may have an edge on the transfers and freshmen vying for that spot.
The Frogs lose three of the top five receivers from last year, but return the #1 option in Jalen Reagor, who had over 1,000 yards receiving in 2018. In the backfield, both top RB options from 2018 return in Sewo Olonilua and Darius Anderson, however, it should be noted that Olonilua is facing a felony drug charge (THC) from a traffic stop back in May. TCU has yet to take any action, and Olonilua’s case remains unscheduled (as of Big 12 Media Days).
Oh, and the offensive line looks to be solid and experienced; TCU loses just one senior starter from 2018.
About the TCU Defense
Defensively, the Frogs return just 47% of their production from 2018, one of the lowest marks in the country. Gone are 7 of the top 8 tacklers from 2018, including the top 3 tacklers and top two sack masters. The Frogs do return their top two cornerbacks from last year in Jeff Gladney and Julius Lewis. Overall, TCU has been recruiting at a pretty good level, so even if the defense takes a step back in 2019, I wouldn’t expect it to last long as Gary Patterson has built a very successful program on the strength of defense.
Bill Connelly did a pre-spring S&P+ ranking back in February of all 130 teams and has TCU at #34, or 3rd in the Big 12.
Meanwhile, Athlon also ranked all 130 teams in pre-spring as well in March, and has the Frogs at #36.
For reference, the Jayhawks were ranked #107 by S&P+ and #106 by Athlon.
We are less than one year removed from beating TCU on a butt fumble followed by a free kick near the end of the game where the Kansas Head Football Coach didn’t know the rule, and Kansas got lucky and escaped with a highly improbable win.
Since TCU joined the Big 12, they have met Kansas seven times. There’s been the one blowout (sigh). Two games have been one-point affairs, with KU even winning one of those. Then there have been 2 two-score games and 2 one-score games. It’s surprisingly been very competitive.
If Les Miles were to get a Big 12 road win, this game looks to be the best chance - but that’s not really saying much. S&P+ gives KU just an 8% win probability per preseason projections, so, yeah. I suppose if things click early for KU’s offense under MacVittie, and if the new 3-4 defense is disruptive and hard to decipher on tape, and if TCU’s QB situation remains in flux... and if... and if... and if... well, let’s just say there are a lot of ifs, and I’m not buying it.
I’m guessing Patterson will have his defense going pretty quickly this season despite the roster turnover, and the offense looks solid everywhere but QB. TCU is way more likely to hit on a QB than KU is to hit on everything the Jayhawks will need to get a conference road win, so I’ll stick with TCU 41, Kansas 24.