Four-Year Trend: 2008 (11-2), 2009 (12-1), 2010 (13-0), 2011 (11-2)
Notable Player: DE Stansly Maponga. The junior defensive end led the team in sacks last year, and will be one of the leaders on a defense that will see a lot of turnover, particularly in the secondary, in 2012. The move to a league that has been known for big passing numbers in recent years will put an even bigger emphasis on TCU’s pass rush.
Top Newcomers: Devonte Fields (DE), Joey Hunt (DT), Griffin Gilbert (TE)
Circle This Game: TCU at Baylor (Oct. 13). TCU is finally in the Big XII, a spot they thought the school should have had instead of Baylor at its inception. This instant rivalry game is vital if TCU wants to get to 8 wins, as the schedule becomes brutal late in the year. These teams played in a shootout last year, with Baylor winning 50-48.
Why We Like Them: In a rebuilding year after losing Andy Dalton, all TCU did was win at Boise State and claim first in the Mountain West again. Gary Patterson has this program rolling with four straight top 15 finishes, and junior Casey Pachall is entering his second year as a starter. Lest you think Patterson and TCU will struggle with the transition, TCU is 6-3 against current Big XII teams, and 20-10 against all current BCS conference schools, under Gary Patterson.
Best-Case Scenario: The Horned Frogs have no trouble making the transition to a full Big XII schedule. They ride an early 7-0 start to a BCS or Cotton Bowl berth as Gary Patterson’s team plays defense as well as anyone in the conference, relying on a talented defensive line.
Worst-Case Scenario: The offseason drama with the drug arrests, and now the revelation that starting quarterback Casey Pachall failed a drug test, cloud the team. The offensive line replaces three starters and struggles to establish the running game. Losses in the secondary cause the defense to give up too many points. A loss to Baylor and more losses than wins against the ranked teams leaves them in a minor bowl.
Projected Bowl: Alamo Bowl
[photo via US Presswire]