As the old saying goes, all good things must come to an end. Such was life for the Horned Frogs in Week 4, as TCU football’s four-year streak of complete and utter domination against Texas came to a crashing halt after the Frogs were dealt a 31-16 loss at Darrell K. Royal Stadium in Austin on Saturday.
It wasn’t any bad dream for Frog fans and sophomore quarterback Shawn Robinson. Four turnovers and yet another disastrous third quarter later, TCU found itself leaving the Forty Acres on a two-game losing streak while a burnt orange crowd of 95,124 celebrated an endeavor which the Longhorns hadn’t accomplished since 2008 — two wins over AP Top 25 opponents in as many weeks.
Say hello to the new No. 18 in the country, folks. It may only be September, but Texas is suddenly that much closer to finally being “back” (This is not a drill) after checking in unranked just seven days ago.
And say goodbye to the Top 25 version of TCU, at least for now, as the Frogs suffered a near reverse fate — a drop from No. 17 to unranked in the latest poll. Whether or not things will stay that way are to be determined, but the damage for now is nothing less than self-inflicted. Back-to-back losses with a 0-7 turnover margin usually won’t do you many favors in any capacity.
Given the results from Saturday, this edition of Frogs & AP voters is going to look a little bit different. We’ll cut to the chase and get the hard part over with — an overwhelming 53 voters left TCU off their latest ballots. But even with the mess the Frogs made in their Big 12-opener, there is a group of voters that hasn’t given up on Gary Patterson & Co. just yet — even if just a mere eight.
Let’s go ahead and dissect the ballots that still had nice things to say about 2-2 TCU.
No. 19 — Neill Ostrout, Journal Inquirer (Manchester, CT)
We’ve certainly seen a handful of college football teams in recent years (see 2015 Oregon, 2016 USC and 2016 Penn State) rebound from sluggish starts en route to the ballpark of 9-10 wins come the end of the season. That might just be what Ostrout envisions for the latest incarnation of TCU football after placing the Frogs at No. 19 — the highest of any voter on Sunday.
It’s not just TCU who Ostrout is holding in regard either when it comes to the Big 12. Oklahoma State — who joined the Frogs among the AP Top 25 dropouts after getting blown out by Texas Tech on home turf — landed at No. 22 on his ballot. And the Cowboys’ victory over Boise State is still a quality one his eyes, considering he kept the Broncos at No. 24.
What to make it of this? Well, a friendly reminder — the reality is that early-season polls are all but meaningless, at least comparison to the College Football Playoff rankings that will ultimately determine who has a chance to contend for a national title down the road. Best case scenario, TCU probably is around No. 19 or No. 20 in a few weeks if the Frogs’ past two performances prove to be the exceptions, not the norm. Maybe even higher if this Texas team ends up not being another version of The Boy Who Cried Wolf.
For now, however, go ahead and smile, because there’s a voter who believes TCU is indeed far from finished. We’ll go ahead and list off the others who are still giving the Frogs some props amid a two-game losings streak while we’re at it.
No. 22 — Kirk Bohls, Austin American Statesman; Joey Kaufman, Orange County Register (Anaheim, CA)
Both Bohls and Kaufman have been on hand to witness least one of Texas’ convincing top 25 victories this September, so they may have a stronger (and perhaps more accurate) impression of the Longhorns than most folks with a ballot. No surprise that TCU’s loss to Texas doesn’t seem as damaging in their eyes compared to the majority of the voters.
No. 23 — Grace Raynor, The Post and Courier (Greenville, SC)
All things considered, another pretty reasonable ballot. Whether Texas A&M or TCU is superior four weeks into the season is a debate which you can have among yourselves.
No. 24 — Robert Cessna, Bryan-College Station Eagle; Sam McKewon, Omaha World-Herald
Cessna has TCU just a spot above Texas A&M, while McKewon has not one but two Big 12 teams (Oklahoma and West Virginia) ranked 7th or higher. Neither see that much of gap between the Frogs and Longhorns either after placing Texas at No. 20 and 21, respectively
No. 25 — Andy Greder, St. Paul Pioneer Press; Don Williams, Lubbock Avalanche-Journal
Head-to-head results are seemingly the only thing keeping Texas above TCU for Greder, who put the Longhorns at No. 24. More intriguing though is that Williams — a Texas Tech beat writer — didn’t view the Red Raiders’ 3-1 start and resounding road victory over what was a No. 15 ranked Oklahoma State team on Saturday as enough for Kliff Kingsbury’s squad to crack the top 25. Maybe things in Lubbock aren’t just as promising as they seem to the rest of us.
Other AP voter notes
- 60 of the 61 voters agree that Alabama is indeed the No. 1 team in the country (Clemson stole one vote from the Crimson Tide).
- West Virginia was voted as high as No. 5 in the latest poll, though ultimately the Mountaineers checked in at No. 12 for a second consecutive week.
- Oklahoma, despite an overtime scare with Army, only fell one spot to No. 6.
- Texas Tech, though just narrowly breaking into the Top 25, was voted as high as No. 18.