TCU’s Andy Dalton is listed at 45/1 to win the 2010 Heisman Trophy.
Forget just about winning the Mountain West Conference.
Expectations are so high in Fort Worth, Texas about TCU that anything less than a national championship might be viewed as a disappointment.
Is this optimism fully justified? Yes, when looking at the seventh-ranked Horned Frogs.
They were 12-1 last year, 8-3-1 against college football betting spreads versus ‘lined’ opponents, and return nine starters from an offense that finished fifth in the nation in scoring.
Oh, yes, the Horned Frogs ranked No. 1 in total defense last season, too, although they lost their best pass rusher, Jerry Hughes, star linebacker Darryl Washington and All-Mountain West cornerbacks Nick Sanders and Rafael Priest from a secondary that ranked sixth in pass defense.
The Horned Frogs have been very strong against the run under Gary Patterson, who has been their head coach since 2001. They have a five-year average of allowing foes less than 80 yards on the ground per game, which is the best in the country during that time frame. Last year, the Horned Frogs were No. 3 versus the run.
TCU should capture the Mountain West again with home games against BYU and Air Force. The Horned Frogs’ toughest matchup figures to be on the road against Utah on Nov. 6. TCU lost when it last played at Utah two years ago, 13-10, as a 1 ½-point favorite.
TCU has lost just three times during the past two seasons with its lone 2009 defeat coming to Boise State, 17-10, in the Fiesta Bowl as 7-point favorites.
The Horned Frogs open their 12-game regular season against Oregon State on Sept. 4. TCU is a 13-point favorite with the ‘over/under’ at 50. The game is being played at nearby Cowboys Stadium, less than 20 miles from the Texas Christian campus.
The Horned Frogs’ other road games besides Oregon State and Utah are at SMU, which is practically a home game since it’s in Dallas, at Colorado State, at UNLV and at New Mexico. Colorado State, UNLV and New Mexico are considered to be the bottom three teams in the conference.
TCU has beaten its last seven Mountain West opponents by an average of 36.5 points. Air Force was the only conference foe that came close against TCU last year, losing 20-17. The closest any other league team could get to TCU was 27 points.
TCU’s ‘over/under’ regular-season win total is 10 ½ at Bodog.com, with the ‘over’ at a whooping minus 270. The Horned Frogs are 18/1 to win the BCS National Championship, according to current odds at TheGreek.com.
Senior quarterback Andy Dalton should own every TCU passing record if he can stay healthy. He completed 61.6 percent of his throws last year for 2,756 yards and 23 touchdowns, while being named the conference’s offensive player of the year. He’s a 45/1 long shot to win the Heisman Trophy, according to odds at thegreek.com.
Dalton has all his top wide receivers back, including explosive Jeremy Kerley, along with sophomore running backs Matthew Tucker and Ed Wesley, who combined to rush for more than 1,300 yards last year. Kerley is a top return man, too. He averaged 14.4 yards per punt return with two touchdowns and 26.6 yards per kickoff return.
Antoine Hicks might be TCU’s most dangerous weapon, though. He scored 10 touchdowns on just 32 touches. Hicks caught 23 passes for six touchdowns, averaging 20.8 yards per reception. He also scored four rushing touchdowns on just nine carries.
Offensive tackle Marcus Cannon is actually considered TCU’s best NFL prospect.
The Horned Frogs are 22-0 when Dalton doesn’t throw an interception. They are 0-2 when Dalton throws more than one interception, which happened in the Fiesta Bowl loss to Boise State when the Broncos picked him off three times.