In my short time on Earth, I’ve watched as much college football as I possibly can. I like to think I know the game pretty well, and I’m sure most of you do too.
But when the season starts and the players start crashing into each other, all predictive power goes out the window. I can’t tell you with any level of certainty TCU’s record will be this year, and neither can you.
Pure speculation is a ton of fun, however. And just because we don’t know for sure what will happen doesn’t mean we can’t hazard a few educated guesses, as long as we acknowledge that we’re guessing.
So I’m going to make five predictions for TCU’s 2019 season, and I’ll happily admit that these are guesses, and I am not liable for any wrong predictions in this column. Please contact my lawyer (who is basically just my friend Troy’s dad, although he doesn’t know it) with any quibbles you may have,
I’m going to try to get as close as I can to making guesses that are bold, but still within the realm of possibility.
Prediction No. 1: TCU scores more than 50 points on SMU.
I like Sonny Dykes, and by all accounts so do most Texas high school football coaches, and I trust their opinions. I also enjoy the Battle for the Iron Skillet, and want it to maintain relevancy moving forward.
But SMU is not a defensively strong team, and the Frogs have hung at least 40 on the Mustangs in five of the last six meetings. Last year was a wild, rain-soaked mess in which neither team looked comfortable on offense, and TCU still managed to put up 42 points.
This year’s game is the third game for the Frogs, and TCU faces Purdue in game two. If TCU loses to the Boilermakers, they’re going to be angry as a hornet’s nest and ready to exact revenge via beating the daylights out of SMU; if TCU beats Purdue, a high-octane team, it’ll mean the Frogs have a good enough offense at that point in the season to put up major points. Either way, it lines up for TCU to crack the half-century mark against the Mustangs.
Prediction No. 2: The Kansas game isn’t close.
(I promise I’m not just predicting blowout wins.)
I assume everyone is painfully aware of the struggles TCU has had against the Jayhawks in recent years. Four of the last five matchups have been decided by a touchdown or less, and Kansas sigh, deep breath beat TCU last season in Lawrence.
But TCU gets Kansas at home this year, and Gary Patterson will most likely not let his players forget what happened in 2018. The Jayhawks are in the first year of Les Miles’ tenure, and the Mad Hatter will take some time to implement his system. Mike Lee is an extremely good cornerback for Kansas (and a good person, based on my talk with him at Big 12 Media Days), but the defense doesn’t offer much else. Quarterback is still an issue in Lawrence, and the TCU secondary should have a field day.
I don’t think we’ll have to sweat out another game against Kansas this year. Fingers crossed.
Prediction No. 3: Jordy Sandy finishes top three in the Big 12 in net punting.
No, I’m not done talking about Jordy Sandy after the special teams preview.
Sandy is a freshman punter from Australia that is hear to kick balls and take names. He was the only punter listed on the depth chart in May, he’s got a great coverage team at his disposal, and TCU is normally aggressive enough that he won’t be punting from inside the 40, which can drag down net yardage.
I’m basing this prediction solely on the hype train that I’m currently conducting, but I feel strongly about it. After Michael Dickson left Texas last year, the Big 12 isn’t exactly a punter’s conference. Sandy can change that.
Prediction No. 4: Taye Barber has a breakout year.
This is only cheating slightly, because Barber did finish second on the team with 32 receptions as a freshman in 2018. Jalen Reagor was the focal point of the passing game, and for very good reasons.
In 2019, though, I expect Barber to become more of a defined second option to Reagor. He’s listed first on the depth chart at slot receiver, which means he can either use his speed to streak down the field or catch slants over the middle. If TCU wants to ease in a new quarterback with quick passes, Barber is an excellent choice when Reagor is covered or needs a breather.
Barber only had two touchdowns in 2018. Expect that number to go up significantly in 2019.
Prediction No. 5: The Frogs win in Stillwater.
This seems like an oddly-specific prediction, especially considering TCU won on the road against Oklahoma State in 2017.
But the Frogs have a tough draw in odd years, playing both Oklahoma and Oklahoma State on the road. That’s not an easy ask, as the Sooners are the Sooners and T. Boone Pickens Stadium gets riled up for the Cowboys.
This is a series often defined by home field advantage. Oklahoma State has won three of the four home games its had against TCU since the Frogs joined the Big 12. TCU has won both its home games, and the one game it stole in Stillwater came in 2017, when the Cowboys called the most ill-timed trick play known to man.
In 2019, though, Oklahoma State is searching for a quarterback, and they don’t have the usual 9-3 feel about them. This seems like the year TCU takes two in a row on the road from the Cowboys.