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Monday Morning QB: Football is coming; Futbol is here

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Folks, we made it. College Football is BACK.

NCAA Football: San Jose State at San Diego State
All eyes will be on Nick Starkel and the Spartans this weekend.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

It’s Week Zero.

That means we are zero weeks remaining until the return of college football, and that has us plenty excited.

But, before we jump into talking about the gridiron, I want to take a moment and celebrate the world’s football game and what happened on the pitch of Garvey-Rosenthal Stadium Sunday night.

TCU Soccer is for real, folks.

Coming off of an Elite Eight appearance and sending two players to professional leagues, Eric Bell’s squad seemed to almost not skip a beat as the 2021 season opened, thrashing SFA 7-0 on the road in the season-opener and dominating Texas A&M at home on their way to knocking off the #9 team in the country 2-1. And not only was the action on the field incredible, the atmosphere in the stands was unrivaled. Nearly 3,000 people, an attendance record for the program, packed the stands, the field, and the grassy areas outside the gates to watch the #8 team in the country, and they were rewarded with an intense, entertaining, physical game — one that included 23 fouls and six TCU yellow cards. During a press conference Friday, Eric Bell said that you might “see a foul or two on the edge” and he wasn’t lying, as the two teams traded blows throughout the match — with a little pushing and shoving in between. The Horned Frogs had lost 13 straight matches to the Aggies heading in to Sunday night’s contest, but they weren’t intimidated by one of the game’s powerhouse programs: they played the game like they believed they were the better team, and on this night, they absolutely were. “I told the group that now that we’ve got the monkey off our back in beating A&M, now we can have the confidence that we can beat anyone we play,” Bell said postgame. “Hopefully it propels us to a quality non-conference schedule and then into Big 12 play.”

Next up for TCU is a home date with UTRGV next Sunday, a game that precedes a stretch of four straight Power Five non-conference opponents. The Horned Frogs will face Colorado at home before hitting the road at Pitt, at Bama, and at Ohio State. It’s an ambitious schedule, one that lets you know that they aren’t satisfied with an Elite Eight performance, but want to make an even deeper postseason run in the second half of 2021. There’s no reason to believe that they can’t.

I have never claimed to be much of a soccer fan, and my knowledge of the game comes mostly from watching Ted Lasso. But jumping on the Horned Frogs’ hype train has made me want to learn and understand the game more and more, as they have completely hooked me. I am sure I am not the only one, and I truly hope that the fan support of Sunday night is just the beginning of continuing to build one of the best atmospheres in college soccer.

On to American Football, and specifically that of the collegiate variety.

After an off-season littered with will we/won’t we, realignment, Gary Patterson’s impressive weight loss, and a bunch of what ifs, we are oh so close to seeing TCU Football take the field and allow us to stop wondering and start watching.

As most fans do, I have become increasingly optimistic about what the 2021 season holds for the Horned Frogs the closer we have gotten to kick-off; after spring ball, I was thinking we would probably skate past bowl eligibility and flirt with eight wins. Now? Big 12 Championship game or bust, baby.

Maybe that’s a bit hyperbolic, but I do see a clear path to ten wins. I’ll go more in to detail on that later this week, but it seems that there’s a pretty wide open battle for second place in the Big 12: Iowa State is the front-runner to rematch with Oklahoma in Arlington come December, but TCU, Texas, and Oklahoma State probably all think they can make it there, too. Baylor and Texas Tech are optimistic as well: maybe neither team will take a leap this fall, but a significant jump from a season ago is to be expected as both seem to have the pieces in place, especially at quarterback, to be competitive teams that give opposing staffs hives on game week. And we would be remiss to overlook Kansas State and West Virginia; no one is talking about the Wildcats or the Mountaineers, and that’s just how they like it.

And then there’s Kansas. And that’s enough about the Jayhawks.

The first football games of the season begin Saturday, with a Big Ten matchup opening the festivities at 12:00 CT. Nebraska and Illinois get first dibs, but that Hawaii-UCLA matchup is the one I am most looking forward to. Don’t sleep on San Jose State-Southern Utah either — the Spartans should be making a case for one of the best G5 teams in a season loaded with entrants.

It’s been a long year and a half across the sports landscape, and while it feels like we are still a long way from “normal”, it at least looks like we will end August with semi-normal as a possibility. If nothing else, we have a jam=packed Saturday of college football to look forward to, and some time to crack a cold beverage, throw something delicious on the BBQ, and remember what it’s like to be irrationally angry at a television.

Let’s go, football.