2010 record: 13-0, 8-0 (1st, Mountain West)
2010 bowl: 21-19 win over Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl
2010 final AP/coaches’ ranking: 2nd/2nd
Coach: Gary Patterson, 11th full year; 98-28 overall, 61-18 conference (C-USA and MWC)
Offensive coordinator: Jarrett Anderson, third year; Justin Fuente, third year
2010 offensive rankings: fourth, scoring offense (41.6 ppg); 12th, total offense (476.9 ypg); 10th, rushing offense (247.4 ypg); 53rd, passing offense (229.5 ypg)
Defensive coordinator: Dick Bumpas, eighth year
2010 defensive rankings: first, scoring defense (12 ppg); first, total defense (228.5 ypg); fifth, rushing defense (99.7 ypg); first, passing defense (128.8 ypg)
Returning offensive starters: 4
Returning defensive starters: 4
Location: Fort Worth, Texas
Stadium: Amon G. Carter Stadium (grass; 44,008)
Last league title: 2010
2011 schedule: [view]
2011 roster: [view]
2010 statistics: [view]
Snapshot: How do you top last year’s magical season, which ended with an unblemished record and a Rose Bowl win? Unless you win a BcS title, you don’t. Matching last season’s success will be difficult for the Horned Frogs as, aside from defending BcS champion Auburn, they return the fewest number of non-kicking starters this year.
Arguably the biggest loss in that wave of attrition is quarterback Andy Dalton, the most prolific signal caller in the school’s history whose leadership skills may be missed even more than his on-field production. Fortunately for Dalton’s replacement, sophomore Casey Pachall, he’ll still have the team’s leading rusher and leading receiver, yardage-wise, back and at his disposal for at least another season. Additionally, the skill positions are deep in talent, which should allow Pachall the opportunity to ease into some very big shoes that need filled.
On the other side of the ball, TCU has led the country in defense each of the past three seasons and, despite losing more than half of its starters, should be in the position again to, if not outright lead, be a top-ten unit nationally. If you’re looking for a chink in the defensive armor, it could be the secondary, althoughdefensive coordinator Dick Bumpas seems to plug-and-play annually at any position and usually ends up smelling like roses, especially last year (see what I did there?).
While there may be a hiccup or two along the way in TCU’s last season in the non-automatic qualifying Mountain West before moving to the AQ Big East, and even with a new quarterback, anything less than an eighth 10-win under Gary Patterson would be wholly unacceptable given where the program’s been for the past decade.
Make-or-break game: Nov. 12 at Boise State
Honestly, could there be any other game mentioned in this space for TCU? With Utah (Pac-12) and BYU (independent) leaving the Mountain West this year, and the Broncos entering, there’s approximately a .00001-percent chance that this game will not decide the conference championship and, perhaps, a bid to a BcS bowl game. Adding a little spice to what should already be a delectable main course — this game was originally scheduled to be played at TCU. After the Horned Frogs announced they were moving to the Big East, the MWC switched things up and moved the game to Boise. Yes, TCU wasn’t pleased with the move. Yes, TCU will remain displeased up until game time. Whether that extra motivation — along with their level of play — is enough to get past Boise’s home dominance remains to be seen.
Heisman hopeful: Honestly, none, unless Pachall surprises in his first year as a starter, which I guess wouldn’t be that much of a surprise given the offensive system that’s been in place for many a year. Also, we’d be remiss in not mentioning linebacker Tank Carder, who’s simply a bad-ass football player more than worthy of carrying a destructive first name.
Postseason projection: MAACO Bowl Las Vegas