Chris Dufresne's preseason top 25: No. 11 Texas Christian

The Times' Chris Dufresne unveils his preseason college football top 25, one day (and team) at a time.

Texas Christian is a fine team, with a fine defense, and a fine coach. The Horned Frogs should have a fine year -- so there you have it.

And that's not nearly enough type to fill this capsule.

To be frog frank, not nearly enough attention has been paid to TCU. Maybe it has to do with the school's vagabond conference wanderings or the fact Rankman has never stepped foot on its Fort Worth campus.

North Texas?

Yep. Saw John Robinson's coaching debut with Nevada Las Vegas against the Mean Green.

Southern Methodist?

Yep. Sat in Coach Phil Bennett's office once in Dallas and asked if he thought the school would ever recover from the NCAA's Death Penalty. He said "absolutely" and a couple years later he got fired.

Austin? College Station?

Check on Texas and Texas A&M.;

Rankman has flown over TCU and waved to it once on the way to Oklahoma.

Maybe this is the year.

TCU has a storied history, dating to days of Sammy Baugh, Davey O'Brien and various escapades in the Southwest Conference. TCU's turn at probation came in 1986, with the NCAA case including the catch-words "players" and "prostitutes."

Horned Frog football sort of floated in the nether/leather world since it was orphaned by the SWC break-up in the 1990s, first being absorbed by the WAC before moving to Conference USA and then eventually hitching a post in the Mountain West, where it has been overshadowed by BCS-buster Utah.

TCU finished 11-2 last year with a 17-16 win over Boise State in the Poinsettia Bowl, but a 25-point loss at Oklahoma knocked the credibility out of the Horned Frogs' larger cause, while a three-point defeat at Utah denied TCU its own shining BCS moment.

That can change this year. TCU has an attractive, can-do preseason poll profile, opening at No. 17 in the preseason USA Today coaches' and AP polls.

How many people know that TCU, not USC and its linebacker band of NFL draft picks, led the nation last year in defense?

TCU has performers returning at key positions. It starts with quarterback Andy Dalton, an anonymous and unheralded junior who has won 19 games the last two years and has already passed for 4,701 yards in his career.

The defense must replace six starters, but is tethered by a legitimate All-American in defensive end Jerry Hughes, a former high school running back who led the nation with 15 sacks while also forcing six fumbles.

The non-conference lineup -- at Virginia and at Clemson in September -- gives TCU enough schedule punch to hold up against the arbiters of BCS bowl distributors.

The countdown so far: 25. UCLA; 24. Nevada; 23. Notre Dame; 22. Oregon State; 21. Florida State; 20. Nebraska; 19. North Carolina; 18. Utah; 17. Georgia Tech; 16. California; 15. Virginia Tech; 14. Alabama; 13. Georgia; 12. Boise State; No. 11 Texas Christian.


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