As expected, transitioning to the Big 12 wasn’t an easy task for TCU. Of course, it didn’t help the Horned Frogs had to play nearly all of 2012 without one of the conference’s top quarterbacks. Despite an early-season suspension to Casey Pachall, TCU finished 7-6 in its Big 12 debut, which included a win at Texas on Thanksgiving night.
The Big 12 has no clear frontrunner for 2013, which should make for a wide-open title race this year.
TCU returns 12 starters this season, and the defense should be the best in the Big 12. End Devonte Fields is suspended for the first two games of this year, but the sophomore is a second-team All-American by Athlon Sports. The secondary is loaded with talent and will be a valuable asset in an offensive-minded conference.
Pachall’s return will strengthen an offense that has playmakers at running back and receiver but needs to address a line that returns only two starters.
What will TCU's record at the end of the 2013 regular season? Athlon’s panel of experts debates:
TCU's 2013 Game-by-Game Predictions
8/31 LSU (Arlington)
9/7 SE Louisiana
9/12 at Texas Tech
10/5 at Oklahoma
10/19 at Oklahoma State
11/2 West Virginia
11/9 at Iowa State
11/16 at Kansas State
Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
Considering all that transpired at TCU last season, a 7-6 record was a good outcome. In addition to increased competition from joining the Big 12, the Horned Frogs lost starting quarterback Casey Pachall to a suspension in October. TCU went 4-5 in conference play in 2012 but lost to Oklahoma and Texas Tech by a touchdown or less. With Pachall back in the fold, the Horned Frogs are back in the mix to win the Big 12. The offense is loaded with playmakers, and TCU led the Big 12 in rush and total defense last year. The biggest question mark with the personnel is an offensive line that was shaky last season and returns only two starters. Defensive end Devonte Fields is also suspended for the first two games of 2013. Speaking of the schedule, it’s perhaps the most challenging aspect of TCU’s Big 12 title hopes. The Horned Frogs have five road games, including trips to Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Kansas State. Ouch. The Horned Frogs are talented and will improve their win total, but the schedule prevents this team from claiming the conference title.
With one season in the Big 12 under its belt, I think TCU is primed to take a big, well, hop forward this fall. Gary Patterson has enough talent and experience on both sides of the ball and the Horned Frogs showed last season that they can hang with the conference's big dogs. The opener at LSU will be tough, especially since All-American candidate Devonte Fields won't be manning his defensive end position, but he's far from a one-man show. If Casey Pachall gets his starting quarterback job back, this offense could be one of the Big 12's most productive, especially if the line jells.
TCU's not without its question marks and the conference slate includes trips to Norman and Stillwater in the Sooner State, as well as Manhattan, Kan., but the new kid on the block also has as much a talent as any of its Big 12 peers. There's no reason these Frogs can't hop, I mean move, up the conference standings this fall, perhaps all the way to the top.
David Fox (@DavidFox615)
We’ve already done a handful of Big 12 game predictions, and I’m a little surprised I’ve ended up with TCU going 7-5. The Horned Frogs are better than that, especially if Casey Pachall is the rising star we thought he was in 2011. If Jeremy Hill were suspended for LSU against TCU, I’d be tempted to pick the Frogs. That would be an equalizer as TCU will miss defensive end Devonte Fields. I could go back and pick TCU to defeat Texas and Kansas State, but clearly the Frogs aren’t helped by facing both Bedlam teams, perhaps the two best teams in the Big 12, on the road.
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