TCU football showcased one of its most talented teams in program history during the 2014 season.
The Horned Frogs remained in the national title picture right up until the final weekend of the regular season, when they were controversially left out of the inaugural college football playoff despite an 11-1 regular-season finish. For good measure, the Horned Frogs obliterated Iowa State in their final regular season game, 55-3.
It remains up for debate what would have happened if TCU was given a chance to play in the then Bowl Championship Series title game.
What’s not up for debate, however, is that hardly anyone expected the Horned Frogs to make any noise that fall entering Week 1 — not after Gary Patterson’s team were 4-8 in the previous season.
As noted by SB Nation’s Jason Kirk, the Horned Frogs’ swing from being unranked in the preseason Associated Press media poll (35th in votes) to a ranking of No. 3 in the final poll of the season following the playoff was the greatest start-to-end jump of any team in 2014.
Statistically speaking, that makes the 2014 TCU football team one of the top 68 most underrated teams in preseason AP poll history when comparing the preseason and final polls.
TCU entered the top 25 of the AP rankings after a 56-0 win over SMU in late September — a win that pushed the Horned Frogs to 3-0. TCU arrived as a Power 5 contender a week later when the Horned Frogs upset No. 4 Oklahoma in Fort Worth, 37-33.
The win over the Sooners propelled TCU into the top 10 at No. 9. But the Horned Frogs tumbled the next week after their only loss, a 61-58 defeat at Baylor.
TCU’s loss to Baylor ultimately cost them shot at title
Adding salt to the wound, the stunning rivalry-game loss ultimately locked TCU out of the playoff, but the Horned Frogs never lost again that season. They posted two more top-10 victories, including a statement 42-3 win over No. 9 Ole Miss in the Peach Bowl that December.
TCU fans are still waiting for the Horned Frogs to crack the College Football Playoff, but the team has posted two top 10 finishes in the three seasons since the 2014 campaign. The 2017 season saw the Horned Frogs climb once again from being unranked in the preseason to No. 9 in the final AP poll.
If history is any indicator, an underrated TCU football team is often the most dangerous one.
And if TCU does find itself in college football’s version of Final Four one day, that might just be the narrative in that given season.