Menu

Extra Points

TCU Can Win the Big 12 Championship

December 1, 2017

TCU readies for the snap at the line of scrimmage in the November game against Baylor. Photo by Glen E. Ellman

TCU readies for the snap at the line of scrimmage in the November game against Baylor. Photo by Glen E. Ellman

Happy December, everyone! Just 24 shopping days to Christmas and just one day until the much-awaited matchup between the Frogs and Sooners in the “new” Big 12 Championship. It’s the first Big 12 Championship since 2010. OU has appeared in eight of the league’s 15 title games. Its record in such games is 7-1.

Lots swirling around this game:

·       The ongoing discussion about OU quarterback Baker Mayfield’s November 11 pregame pass that didn’t show up anywhere on the stat sheet (intended receiver TCU’s Niko Small). Irony is that it might be his most famous throw of the year so far.

·       The impact of this game on the Big 12’s chances to get a team into the College Football Playoff.

·       Bowl implications for the Frogs – Cotton or Alamo. Fiesta and Peach are outside possibilities.

·       The “new” Big 12 Championship – born from the 2014 Final CFP committee that dropped the Frogs from No. 3 to No. 6. Then-chairman Jeff Long told the Big 12 that no title game hurt the Frogs because of the lack of a “13th data point.” Then, in 2016, while the Big 12 planned this year’s inaugural Big 12 Championship, the committee plopped Ohio State into the playoff despite the fact that they didn’t even qualify for the Big 10 Championship game. Every time I hear the term “13th data point” I get “that feeling” in my belly.

·       The oddness of playing an opponent twice in three weeks – it doesn’t happen often in college football. More on that later.

Mat Boesen set a TCU record with 5 1/2 sacks to give him a team-best 11 1/2 on the season. He has at least one sack in six of the last seven games. Photo by Glen E. Ellman

Mat Boesen (#9) set a TCU record with 5 1/2 sacks to give him a team-best 11 1/2 on the season. He has at least one sack in six of the last seven games. Photo by Glen E. Ellman

We’re all very familiar with OU. You know all the players. Heisman finalist Baker Mayfield went from walk-on to wonder. If he wins the Heisman, it’s due to this year’s supporting cast. OU offense came out of no where to put the Sooners at the top nationally at 593 yards per game, 8.6 yards per play and 72 offensive touchdowns. OU’s offensive line is mammoth. TCU needs to figure out a way to get pressure – great coverage in the secondary will help that. Having sack machine Mat Boesen for an entire game will help. OU tailback Rodney Anderson punished TCU by air and land three weeks ago in Norman for 290 all-purpose yards (151 rushing, 139 receiving). He must be contained. Mayfield likes to go to the backs out of the backfield if tight end Mark Andrews or speedster Marquise Brown are not open. Again, the key to quieting all this mayhem is controlling Mayfield.

Defensively, OU comes in as No. 4 in total defense in the Big 12, allowing 390 yards per game and 25.7 points. It’s No. 3 in pass defense at 241 yards per game. Up front is all about #31 Ogbonnia Okoronkwo (my game chart says o-BO-ny-uh k-kor-RON-kwo), who has a habit of making plays behind the line of scrimmage. #4 Emanuel Beal is the leading tackler as weakside linebacker and the secondary is young with two freshmen in the lineup.

OU’s kicking game is solid with Austin Siebert handling the kicking and the punting duties. He hit a career-long 51-yard field goal last week against West Virginia.

Sewo Olonilua (#33) escapes a tackle in the November game against Baylor. Photo by Glen E. Ellman

Sewo Olonilua (#33) escapes a tackle in the November game against Baylor. Photo by Glen E. Ellman

Keys for a Frog win will be:

·       A fast start – don’t let OU run away with the game. The first 10 minutes will be key. Make plays, keep your head and settle in – no mental errors or dumb penalties.

·       Run the football – Kyle Hicks and Sewo Olonilua can make hay on the outside. Patrick Morris back at center should help.

·       Keep the Sooners below six yards per play (they average 8.6).

·       Tackle on first contact – the Frogs had a season-full of missed tackles three weeks ago in Norman.

·       Contain and confound Mayfield and create at least one turnover. In three games against the Frogs, Mayfield has never thrown an interception.

·       Score in the kick return game.

·       Hold OU to 33 points or less.

·       Play the full 60 minutes (and be prepared to go longer).

This will be an epic slugfest. I predict Frogs win 34-31.

Notify the committee.


Did You Know?

The last time TCU played the same team twice in a season exactly three weeks apart was 1909? Coach J.R. Langley’s Frogs won at Baylor 9-0 on October 23 and then beat Baylor again “at home” 11-0 on November 13 in what was then a cross-town rivalry. Both schools were located in Waco at the time.

We’re on the air at 10:30 a.m. tomorrow from AT&T Stadium. Join Brian, Landry and me on the TCU Sports Network on WBAP 820AM, KTCU 88.7FM and Sirius/XM83.

Kick ‘Em High!

Brunch with the Bears

November 22, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

It’s a special time with friends and family. For those of you traveling, be safe. For those of you not traveling out of the metroplex, get to “The Carter” Friday morning for Brunch with the Bears.

Either way, dig into that turkey and tell your loved ones what you feel — these special days are fleeting — make the most of it.


Baylor makes its first trip back to Fort Worth since that wet, cold, thrilling overtime game in 2015 that saw the Frogs prevail. Wet, but Happy! was the headline on the sports section of the Star-Telegram the next day. Fans won’t have to worry about the weather Friday. It’s not going to be your traditional chilly Thanksgiving football weather with a biting north wind (that was last Saturday in Lubbock). t’s going to be sunny and 80! Bring the turkey-scented sunscreen.

The Bears have just one win to their credit, but that doesn’t mean they’re not competitive. They are getting better in spite of an injury bug that has nested in Waco.

On offense, the Bears have shown some ability to run the ball but feature a fleet of wide receivers, 19 in all who have caught a pass. The group is led by #15 Denzel Mims who’s racked up 1,061 yards this year to go with eight touchdowns. Another speedster to look for is #15 Tony Nicholson with 39 grabs. Freshman Charlie Brewer will be the quarterback. His dad, Robert, is the former UT QB who beat Alabama in the ’82 Cotton Bowl. Brewer has completed 69 percent of his passes, but untimely turnovers at the pay window have derailed scoring drives.

Defensively, the Bears have made up the most ground. Comparing the first eight games to their last three games, Baylor has reduced the total yards it was giving up per game by 163 and reduced its opponents’ scoring average by 16 points.

Defensive tackle #90 Tyrone Hunt is experienced, and defensive end Greg Roberts, Sr. is the son of former OU great and Outland Trophy winner Greg Roberts.


It’s Senior Day on Friday, so get in the stadium early to salute this group of 35 seniors who are going for win No. 36. This group has achieved a lot, and there’s even more to do. It’s an emotional day for these players and their families with the on-field recognition prior to the game.

Oh, hey, pass the pumpkin pie!

Until Friday morning,

Kick ‘Em High!

Saddle Secured

November 20, 2017

Happy Monday!

I’m pushing the schedule up a day this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday. I hope all of you and your families are able to enjoy the best of everything Thanksgiving has to offer. Slow yourselves down. This week sometime, take 30 minutes to stop and be silent and think of all the blessings in your life. Turn that cell phone off and think. And give thanks.

The regular-season finish line is within sight. Amazing how fast the season goes. Baylor is playing better, especially on offense. More on the Bears on Wednesday.


Lubbock was windy, dusty and cold. The usual strange things that happen in Lubbock never showed up in this game. Must’ve been the weather. It was blowing hard out of the north with gusts to 45 mph. TCU Director of Athletic Video Services Mike Maples told me it was the toughest conditions in which his crew has ever shot a game. I believe it – up on top of the north scoreboard, the video crew looked like those wind-whipped reporters on The Weather Channel with their pants flapping back and forth! Keep control of the camera!

The Frogs were in control from the start.  Maybe the strangest thing coming out of Saturday was that Tech began the game with a 21-play drive. 21! In all my years of watching football, I’ve never seen that at any level. And Tech got just three points out of it — their only points of the game. Secondly, the Frogs and Red Raiders had just one possession each in the first quarter.   Time of possession was split exactly down the middle: 30 minutes on the dot for each team.

I’ve never seen that, either.

Aside from the Shawn Robinson show, the biggest thing on display for TCU was defensive depth. The Frogs did without safety Niko Small, linebackers Travin Howard and Montrel Wilson, and during the game, Ridwan Issahaku went down. Still, the Frogs stifled Tech’s offense by rushing just three all game long and held Tech quarterback Nic Shimonek to 137 yards passing on the day. The Red Raider scoring output of three points was a flat tire compared to their per-game average of 38 coming in to the game. TCU continued the second half lockdown — the Frogs have not allowed a point in the second half in five straight games.

Saddle secured.


Tonight, Jamie Dixon’s Frogs go for their fourth win of the year against Omaha out of the Summit League. Join us at “The Scholl” tonight at 8.

After the game, I’m off to fix the cornbread dressing — I love that stuff. And pumpkin pie, too!

 

Talk to you Wednesday. Until then,

 

Kick ‘Em High!

 

football helmet scales

So many reasons to be thankful this holiday season. Photo by Leo Wesson.

Saddle up for a Wild Ride in Lubbock

November 17, 2017

Game 11 takes the Frogs to Lubbock, Texas, and Jones AT&T Stadium, a place that has seen its share of wild games in this series.

And tomorrow should be no different.

There’s plenty of storylines to go around after it was announced that quarterback Kenny Hill and safety Niko Small won’t make the trip to the Hub City. Several other players are still on the mend after last week’s trip to Norman, Oklahoma. It’s that time of year. As head coach Gary Patterson says, “Dead men have to walk.” The college football season is a grind and this time of year seven days seems like seven hours, especially when you’re trying to get players healthy.

The alarm sounds again at 11 a.m. Saturday and the Frogs will answer it with true freshman quarterback Shawn Robinson at the controls. You’ve heard all about his arm and his running ability and his state championship at DeSoto last year. Now we’ll get to see how he handles the environment at Jones AT&T Stadium and an improved Texas Tech defense that has probably added a blitz package or two to their call sheet for this week. I’m looking for great things out of Robinson. He has that look about him and certainly knows the offense. The key will be to get him off to a good start by putting him in position to succeed early on what looks to be a very blustery day on the South Plains.

Tech’s defense is much improved. The squad is an older bunch that’s created 22 take-aways already this year. The Red Raiders’ +10 turnover margin is good enough for No. 10 in the nation in that category. Shawn Robinson’s first job is not to add to that total. Tech shows lots of different looks, even putting just one defensive lineman in a stance at times to make it hard to tell who’s rushing and who’s dropping into coverage. The linebackers are good. Look out for #1 Jordyn Brooks and #40 Dakota Allen. Allen had nine tackles last week in the win over Baylor. The secondary is vastly improved and fly around and sweep around the field like tumbleweeds, delivering big hits in the process. Watch for #15 safety Vaughnte Dorsey.

Offensively, you know what’s coming: the air raid and deep balls aplenty. Texas Tech’s quarterback Nic Shimonek is a transfer from Iowa who’s waited his turn and he’s made the most of it. He has 28 touchdown passes and just seven interceptions through 10 games (tying former Tech-great Graham Harrell). Wide receivers are almost too many to mention, but #2 Keke Coutee is a speedster and #14 Dylan Cantrell is a tough, physical receiver at 220 pounds who caught 11 passes last week against Baylor. Tech keeps defenses honest with a run game led by #4 Justin Stockton and #24 Tre King.

The Frogs will try to get back on track and prove that last week’s episode at OU was an anomaly. Tech is fighting for bowl eligibility – they have two shots to get to six wins as they finish at Texas next week.

It would be great to ride out of Lubbock on a new saddle. Have you seen the West Texas Championship trophy??

 

Thanks to M.L. Leddy’s Boots & Saddlery of Fort Worth, the Saddle Trophy returns Saturday. The Saddle Trophy sits on a stand and includes the logos for TCU and Texas Tech. Currently, scores for 59 years of the rivalry are represented on the Saddle Trophy Stand with adornment of the trophy plates to equal 100 years. It will travel in a case to Lubbock and be presented to the winning team after the game. Photos courtesy of Mark Cohen, TCU Athletics

I mentioned that Jones AT&T Stadium has been host to some wild games in this series, which will see its 60th game tomorrow. Submitted for your approval are these items:

  • TCU and Tech played to three straight ties in Lubbock: a 3-3 tie in a snow storm in 1979; a 39-39 tie in 1981, which saw the Frogs down 24-7 at the half; a 10-10 tie in 1983 played in the rain on muddy artificial turf (a dust storm blew in the day before the game) in Jim Wacker’s first trip to Lubbock at TCU’s head coach.
  • A crazy 36-35 Tech win in 1987 over then-1st place (Southwest Conference) Frogs.
  • And maybe the wildest win for TCU in Lubbock – the “devine deflection” game two years ago. The Frogs won 55-52 on that magical Boykin-to-Doctson-to-Green pass play in the north end zone. Maybe the most amazing play in TCU history.

We’ll be there on the air at 10 a.m. for breakfast at the stadium. Join us on the TCU Sports Network on WBAP 820 AM, KTCU-FM 88.7 and on the TuneIn app.

Oh, and happy birthday to my little brother Don. Today is his……..ah, I let him tell you how many. Have a great day, Double D!!

Off to Lubbock,

Kick ‘Em High!

Much at Stake this Weekend

November 10, 2017

Joe D. Denton photo courtesy of the Denton family.

Joe D. Denton was a member of the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II. Photo courtesy of the Denton family

On this Friday of Veterans Day weekend, we honor and give thanks to all of our veterans who have served, fought and protected us (U.S.) and our way of life. Many volunteered, others had their lives interrupted to go take on the challenge of aggressors. Thanks to all of those who made and make it great for all of us. My dad, Joe D. Denton served in World War II in the U.S. Army Air Corps. This is one of my favorite pictures of him. He’s 93 now.

Because of our veterans, we are safe and free to turn our attention to “important” things like sports. This weekend is jammed packed at TCU – 

The soccer team opens NCAA playoff action tonight against Arizona in Tucson. Good luck to Eric Bell’s squad. Jamie Dixon’s men’s basketball team opens at home tonight at 8 p.m. against ULM. The team will get their NIT championship rings in a special ceremony before the game. Get there early. Women’s basketball opens the season Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m. at Schollmaier Arena. Raegan Pebley’s team is ready to roll!

And then there’s a little business item in Norman, Oklahoma tomorrow night.  

No. 5 OU hosting No. 6 TCU in what equates to a first-round playoff game. The loser will have two losses and will be eliminated from College Football Playoff contention, unless something really crazy happens over the next three weeks. The winner has a real shot at moving up in the CFP poll next week as Georgia (at Auburn) and Notre Dame (at Miami) both have tough games this week.

This weekend is why college football is so great. It all funnels down to games like this one in November. So much at stake:

  • A College Football Playoff bid stays alive for the winner.
  • Winner pretty much assures itself a spot in the Big 12 Championship game.
  • Heisman hopes on the line for OU quarterback Baker Mayfield.
  • TCU’s offense, largely lost in this week’s pregame hype, has the opportunity to make a statement.
  • Another shot for TCU to bag ANOTHER quality road win.

It won’t be easy for either team. OU’s No. 1-ranked offense just put 758 yards and 62 points on Oklahoma State (and I think OSU’s defense is pretty good). TCU boasts the No. 6 defense in the nation and just held Texas to one foot per carry. The Frogs allowed all of 27 points in the last four games. Interesting matchup, huh?

But not so fast. I offer that, for TCU fans, the focus needs to be on what the TCU offense does on the road against an OU defense that seems to be hanging on for dear life. With OU, at No. 87 in the nation in total defense, it would seem that TCU should do what it wishes, but the Frogs’ offense has to start fast and get back to where it was vs. OSU. Getting Patrick Morris back at center could help, but there’s no word on his availability. In late September, Coach Gary Patterson said Morris would be out four to five weeks. That was six weeks ago. Maybe Morris is ready to be back in action by now. Quarterback Kenny Hill has to come ready to take what OU gives and be good with his arm, especially in OU’s red zone. Hill has gone without a touchdown pass in three of the last four games. The one game he did throw a touchdown pass was Kansas, in which he threw five. Hill is not without weapons – he’ll need to use them. As always, the running game will be key, not only for production, but also for controlling the clock and limiting Mayfield’s “at bats.”

Speaking of Mayfield, the modern-day version of Doug Flutie has to be contained. He keeps plays alive with his footwork and frustrates defenses with scrambles and throws that make a dead play turn into a big one. OU sets it up with the run game and play action for short throws to receivers on the back side of the play. Keep an eye on the guards and offensive tackles working in combination. OU reloaded in the skill department and pass catchers Marquise Brown, Mark AndrewsJeff Badet, CeeDee Lamb and Dimitri Flowers all have at least 20 catches for at least 330 yards and at least three touchdowns! Mayfield has accounted for 33 touchdowns himself. They put up slot machine type numbers. Keys for TCU will be to stop the run and contain Mayfield, who makes the red zone (normally defined as the area inside the opponent’s 20-yard line) for OU anything inside the opponent’s 50-yard line! Big plays have to be curtailed by TCU’s defense.

This one will likely be similar to all the other games in this series since TCU joined the Large Dozen in 2012. The last five games have been decided by an average of 4.2 points. It’ll be a wild one.

And there’s a chance we’ll do it all over again with the Sooners on December 2nd in the Big 12 Championship Game at Jerry World.

But first thing’s first. We’re on the air tomorrow on the TCU Sports Network at 6 p.m. CT. If you’re in the stadium at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium, you can listen to us at 87.7 FM. Bring your radio.

Kick ‘Em High!

TCU Athletics: Much to Talk About

November 8, 2017

Happy Hump Day, everyone!

Cool and wet weather finally came in after we had temps in the 90s last weekend. It’s about time.

How about the Frogs moving up to No. 6 in the College Football Playoff rankings? This week’s game against No. 5 OU equates to a playoff game. There’s little chance that the CFP committee will include a two-loss team.

Kick ‘Em High they did.

Adam Nunez prepares for a punt during the TCU-Kansas State game earlier this season. Photo courtesy of TCU Athletics.

Adam Nunez prepares for a punt during the TCU-Kansas State game earlier this season. Photo courtesy of TCU Athletics.

How about the show that the two punters put on Saturday night at Amon G. Carter Stadium? TCU’s Adam Nunez and Texas’ Michael Dixon were launching punts and flipping the field with big-time kicks. Those moves played a big part in the game as both teams played the field position game. Their hang times (time the ball is in the air) were especially impressive. Nunez did a great job into the wind, especially.

It’s about time for basketball season, too. Always a busy time of the year for us on the broadcast crew – starting Friday, we’ll do five games in eight days on the TCU Sports Network – it’s the Football-Hoops Overlap!

Friday, TCU Men’s Basketball takes the lid off with a game against the Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks at 8 p.m. On Saturday, TCU Women’s Basketball hosts Oral Roberts at 2 p.m. Both games are at Schollmaier Arena. It promises to be an exciting year for both teams. And you can’t beat the arena. Get there!

Good luck to TCU Soccer this weekend as the team heads to Tucson to take on Arizona in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Friday night. It’s the second straight year that Coach Eric Bell’s squad has punched their ticket to the NCAA Tournament.

And a shout out!

Congrats to TCU’s Angela Stanford. She’s has been selected to the Women’s Golf Coaches Association Players Hall of Fame. Stanford will be inducted Dec. 10 in Las Vegas.

Stanford is TCU’s only four-time WGCA All-American. She won a school record 10 tournaments in her collegiate career. Her four titles as a senior, including the 2000 Western Athletic Conference Championship, set another TCU mark. She was also the Western Athletic Conference Player of the Year in 1999.

Friday we’ll take a look at OU.

Until Then,

Kick ‘Em High!

 

Tom Herman is Coming to Town

November 3, 2017

It’s the type of weekend we all love.

There’s a big game Saturday night at The Carter and then we all get an extra hour of sleep with the return to standard time – Don’t forget to “fall back” and turn back your clock one hour. Have you ever forgotten and showed up for church an hour early? You can find more info on the time change and history behind it here.

Tomorrow’s TCU-Texas game marks the 88th meeting between the two schools. If not for the breakup of the Southwest Conference, this series would have been played more than 100 times. The Frogs and Longhorns played every year from 1927 to 1995 and then did not play from 1996 to 2006. They played in Austin, Texas in 2007, but not again until TCU entered the Big 12 and the series continued in 2012. Since then the Frogs won four out of five. The only win for Texas recently was the “Storm Game” in 2013, in which the game was delayed three hours and 10 minutes while a chain of storms moved across Fort Worth. It was a late night.

TCU fans cheer at the season opener in September. Saturday will be Tom Herman's first visit to Fort Worth as Texas' head coach. Photo by Glen E. Ellman

TCU fans cheer at the season opener in September. Saturday will be Tom Herman’s first visit to Fort Worth as Texas’ head coach. Photo by Glen E. Ellman

Tom Herman will make his first visit to Fort Worth as UT’s head coach. There have been growing pains at 4-4, as there often is when a new coach takes over, but the team is playing better. Especially on defense, where the Horns rank No. 4 in total defense in the Big 12 and No. 2 in rushing defense, allowing 109.6 yards per game. Texas defense allowed just 88 yards a game over their last seven. Texas has speed on defense and is sparked by the play of nose tackle #95 Poona Ford and the resurgent play of linebacker #46 Malik Jefferson, who moved from the middle to outside linebacker. With the move, Jefferson is free to run and make plays – he’s fast and he gets to the ball. The secondary has snagged 10 interceptions and safety Deshon Elliott leads the FBS in picks with six, including a 43-yard pick six on the third play of the game last week at Baylor.

On offense, Texas is a bit of a puzzle. Injuries caused coaches to move players around on the offensive line to put the best five out there. There’s not much depth up front All American left tackle Connor Williams will be sitting out again. Only left guard #77 Patrick Vahe is still playing the position at which he started the season. The presents a key matchup – How will Texas handle the Frog’s “Killer B” defensive line and the pressure TCU brings?

Quarterback is a question mark – Shane Buechele is expected to start but Tom Herman’s not saying. The other quarterback in Austin, freshman Sam Ehlinger, has been battling a concussion and didn’t make the trip to Baylor last week. When he’s been healthy, he’s been good. In five starts he threw for 1,419 yards and ran for another 265. He’s elusive.

Texas employs three running backs with sophomore #21 Kyle Porter and freshman #30 Toneil Carter getting most of the work lately, but Carter will not be playing Saturday. Big, bruising tailback #25 Chris Warren is still in the rotation at 250 pounds, but not as much lately. Another big wide out awaits the Frogs’ secondary tomorrow in the 6-foot-6-inch Collin Johnson, who leads the herd with 36 catches. His dad is former UT All-American safety Johnnie Johnson (1976-79), who went on to play for the Rams for years.

Kicking has been an issue for the Horns with Joshua Rowland just 7-13 on the year. Texas has a cannon for a punter in Michael Dickson.  The big-leg Australian averages 48 yards per punt and has a season-long field-flipper of 69 yards to his credit. He and TCU’s KaVontae Turpin will have huge impacts on the outcome of this game.

This is likely to be a tight defensive battle. The winner figures it out on the offensive line.


Did You Know?

  • Ben Franklin originally suggested daylight saving time in 1784.
  • Congress passed the Uniform Time Act in 1966, standardizing the length of daylight saving time for the country.
  • Tomorrow’s TCU-Texas game marks 100 home game for Gary Patterson as head coach of the Frogs.

See you tomorrow on the radio. Brian Estridge, Landry Burdine and I hit the air at 5 p.m. on the TCU Sports Network.

Kick ‘Em High!

Tricks Instead of Treats

November 1, 2017

Happy Wednesday, everyone!

I hope you had a great Halloween… Now about that diet.

Halloween came early for the Frogs last Saturday in Ames, Iowa. You know what happened, so no need to get into those details. Head coach Gary Patterson said it yesterday at his weekly press conference – “Iowa State is not Iowa State.” Man, is he right. Iowa State’s head coach Matt Campbell has turned things around in a hurry. He’s put players in the right spots, recruited well and worked on nearly every transfer he’s brought in. That’s how you build depth and that’s how you get good in less than two calendar years. And even though the Cyclones won’t sneak up on anyone else, it still beat a lot of people down that stretch. Iowa State has the defense and the running game to do it. Then there’s those big, tall wide receivers who can play up above the secondary. Proof that Iowa State has gotten the respect of almost everyone across the nation: The College Football Playoff committee put the Frogs at No. 8 following the loss to then-No. 25 Iowa State (now ranked No. 15).

About that CFP poll. I find it ironic that the first CFP poll came out on Halloween. It made me think of TCU’s bump from No. 3 down to No. 6 in the final 2014 poll. Coach P mentioned it yesterday when asked if he was going to watch the poll announcement. None of us have forgotten. Let that feed the purple fire.

TCU fans cheer in the stands during the Oct. 7 football game against West Virginia. Photo by Glen E. Ellman

TCU fans cheer in the stands during the Oct. 7 football game against West Virginia. Photo by Glen E. Ellman

Speaking of last night’s poll unveiling: How do you think ‘Bama fans feel this morning, being No. 2 under Georgia? Have them call Fort Worth – we’ll talk them off the Crimson ledge. Notre Dame is ranked No. 3 and Clemson holds No. 4. It could be called “The Curse of the First Four.” Our friend Chuck Carlton at The Dallas Morning News reminds us that seven of the 12 teams that have made the first CFP poll in the previous three years failed to make the playoffs. Lesson and reminder: There’s still a TON of football to be played in November. It’s the time of the season where you can draw lines from final scores to definitive impact on teams, the bracket and bowl games. Who, what, when, where. Let the games begin!

Bevo’s coming to visit. We’ll talk UT on Friday.

Until then,

Kick ‘Em High!

Horned Frogs: Now is Not the Time to Hibernate

October 27, 2017

As you read this, the TCU football team is en route to a top 25 matchup in Ames, Iowa.

Yes, I said Ames, Iowa.

It’s been awhile, 15 years to be exact, since the No. 25 Cyclones hosted such a tilt. Iowa State is arguably the hottest team in the Big 12 and Cyclone fans are excited. They should be. An Iowa State win Saturday would: A. Put the Cyclones in a tie for first place in the Big 12 and B. Make them bowl eligible for the first time since 2012.

TCU fans celebrate a touchdown in the homecoming game against Kansas. Photo by Leo Wesson

TCU fans celebrate a touchdown in the homecoming game against Kansas. Photo by Leo Wesson

What ISU head coach Matt Campbell has achieved is a Jamie Dixon-type quick turnaround. Iowa State is 5-2 with a win on the road at then-No. 4 University of Oklahoma. Campbell has recruited well and has gotten the most out of transfers. The latter has added experience and instant depth to a team that I thought, before the season, would be “sneaky good.” They’re better than that. Much better.

The Iowa State offense has been taken over by transfer quarterback Kyle Kempt who beat OU in his first start. Kempt had been hiding out at Oregon State for three years before finding his way to ISU. Add tailback David Montgomery and a fleet of big receivers – who make short passes into big plays – and you have an efficient offense that attacks the defense in a number of ways. They remind me of Kansas State on offense, except the Cyclones are healthy.

On the defense side, ISU runs a 3-4 that’s designed to create a lot of traffic in the secondary. Recruiting has helped enlarge the Cyclones’ defensive line. The move of Joel Lanning from starting quarterback to middle linebacker has proven genius – he had 20 tackles in the game against Texas. The secondary, who has eight interceptions this year, is solid. They are pretty basic on defense, either they play coverage or they’re coming after you.

Keys for the No. 4 Frogs’ success at Jack Trice Stadium:
1. Secure with the ball in iffy weather conditions.
2. Run the ball with authority.
3. Force ISU to throwing the ball so the Killer B defensive line can go to work pressuring.
4. Come out strong.

It’ll be cold and raw at game time with the high temperature in the low-40s. It may be wet, too. Plus 63,000 people will be in the stands. Cyclones fans always show up.

Sit back on the couch and enjoy this one with us on the TCU Sports Network. We’re on the air at 1:30 p.m. CT. I’ll talk to you then.

Kick ‘Em High!

Basketball Season is Right Around the Corner

October 26, 2017

Happy Thursday from Waco. Don’t worry, I’m just here for meetings.

This week is flying by: Monday the Frog Club team pulled off the 39th edition of the Horned Frog Classic presented by Greenwood Office Outfitters, generating $325,000 for TCU student-athlete scholarships. Thanks to Colonial Country Club, 244 players, the many sponsors and the Frog Club volunteers.

TCU Basketball head coach Jamie Dixon shows off the net he cut after TCU defeated Georgia Tech 88-56 to win the NIT at Madison Square Garden in New York City on March 30, 2017. Photo by Glen E. Ellman

TCU Basketball head coach Jamie Dixon shows off the net he cut after TCU defeated Georgia Tech 88-56 to win the NIT at Madison Square Garden in New York City on March 30, 2017. Photo by Glen E. Ellman

Tuesday I was off to Kansas City with Jamie Dixon ’87 for Big 12 Basketball Media Day. It’s amazing how quickly the image of TCU Basketball has changed, coming off the NIT Championship win. Kansas men’s basketball head coach Bill Self says TCU can win the league. University of Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger says TCU has boosted the Big 12’s reputation. West Virginia University head man Bob Huggins says he’s seen Jamie Dixon’s act before when WVU was in the Big East with Dixon’s University of Pittsburgh team.

Coach Dixon said last year’s 24-15 season was good but he wasn’t satisfied. “I thought we should have won more,” he said.

You can get a sneak peek of the Frogs on Friday, November 3rd at 5 p.m. at the Ed & Rae Schollmaier Arena. It’s the Frog Army Scrimmage!

Tomorrow we’ll dive into Iowa State and the first top 25 match-up at Jack Trice Stadium since 2002. Iowa State’s coach is 37 years old. The game day forecast is a high of 40 degrees.

Until Then,

Kick ‘Em High