Who Wins The Big 12? TCU

Now we are down to three as Baylor is one of the teams in our three-way tie for second. You are now starting to figure this out. Baylor, TCU, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State are all, in my estimation, capable of winning the Big 12. The difference between where one finishes and the others finish will be a small fraction in the form of an injury or a break or two.

Two years ago, I picked Oklahoma State to win the Big 12 but I could never have forecast what happened that November Friday night in Ames, Iowa. Last season I picked Kansas State to win the Big 12 but I didn't see that freight train crashing into the Wildcats in Baylor that Saturday night in Waco.

Yes, I did crunch numbers of last year's stats, last season's head-to-head meetings, and also analyzed the way the schedule sits for each team and that is how I come up with my predictions.

Any and all of the next four teams profiled in this series could win the Big 12. I honestly believe that, but I selected just one. I think the games they play against each other all are likely to be close and competitive. That doesn't mean I'm backing off the team I picked at the top.

For several reasons, including schedule and experience in key places including the defense as a whole cause me to favor that school. All four of the final teams are potential Big 12 champions for 2013.

As I do each year, I spent a decent amount of time crunching numbers like returning starters, returning yards and points, returning defensive plays made, schedule and trends, intangibles, and more.

This year for the first time I'm sharing my game by game summer prognostication with everybody rather than just one post on how the league will finish. We will go top to bottom.

TCU Horned Frogs
In the Big 12, you always start with quarterback and what I like here is that TCU gets back Casey Pachall. The 6-5, 226-pound Pachall has pro scouts drooling over his physical abilities. But the question mark is whether he can make it all the way back from his alcohol problems that he had to leave the team to address last season.

He is a career 67 percent completion guy with a strong arm that can make all the throws. He is athletic enough to escape the rush and buy time or make a little something out of nothing. Literally, the NFL people feel he could be the best quarterback prospect in all of college football if he has learned from his problems.

TCU head coach Gary Patterson has talked about a competition with very athletic Trevone Boykin, who took over last season. TCU insiders confirm that if Pachall is right physically and mentally, then he is the guy. He is 15-2 as a starter and that should get everybody in the Big 12's attention.

Now another key for TCU will be the healthy return of Waymon James at running back and Nebraska transfer Aaron Green fulfilling his potential because a two-back attack from a depth perspective will kick up the potency of the Frogs offense.

The problems on offense are needing to blend in three new starters on what was a very solid offensive line. While the wide receivers have big names in Brandon Carter, Cam White, LaDarius Brown, Koldy Listenbee, and former quarterback Matt Brown only Carter is really proven to be clutch all the time. Patterson and offensive coordinator Jarrett Anderson want to see catches and plays made down after down.

What very well could separate TCU from the other top echelon teams in the Big 12 is its defense as the conference's best defensive end in Devonte Fields and the best cornerback in Jason Verrett reside on the Frogs defense.

Overall, TCU has a solid defensive end and seems to have recovered from the losses at linebacker last season that came when several players were caught in a drug crackdown on campus the previous spring. Patterson returns nine starters to run his personally designed 4-2-5 defensive scheme that led the Big 12 last season in total defense.

The Horned Frogs also return one of the league's top kickers in sophomore Jaden Oberkrom and an outstanding punter in Ethan Perry.

The Big 12 is caught in a "catch 22" in week one as everybody needs for reputation sake to have TCU beat the **** out of Les Miles and the LSU Tigers in Cowboys Stadium. It would go a long way to helping the league's perceived value nationally.

However, because of an off-the-field issue, defensive end Devonte Fields is suspended for the first two games. I have news for you, if TCU beats LSU in the opener without Fields then the Frogs could very well run the table and our rankings won't be terrible but they'll be off some at the top for the first time in four seasons.

TCU Schedule and Predictions
Aug. 31, LSU @Arlington - Loss - If Fields were playing then I look at the game as dead even.
Sept. 7, Southeastern Louisiana - Win - Frogs have SELa way outmanned to regain momentum or push it forward.
Sept. 12, @Texas Tech - Win - Thursday night game on the road is dangerous but it helps getting Tech earlier.
Sept. 28, SMU - Win - No more "Iron Skillet" slip-ups as Frogs prep for showdown in Norman.
Oct. 5, @Oklahoma - Loss - Frogs won't be intimidated and this could be one of the best games of the season in the Big 12.
Oct. 12, Kansas - Win - TCU one of those games KU played close last season, but not in Fort Worth.
Oct. 19, @Oklahoma State - Loss - Nothing chaps Patterson more than having to pay that A&M debt to Cowboys of two in a row in Stillwater.
Oct. 26, Texas - Win - Two in a row over the Horns is music to the Frogs and they will get it.
Nov. 2, West Virginia - Win - This one could get sideways if TCU puts its foot down on the pedal.
Nov. 9, @Iowa State - Win - Always careful this time of year in Ames as Cyclones will be pointing to an upset.
Nov. 16, @Kansas State - Win - This will be sweet for K-State alum Patterson, who should have been a slam dunk hire when Snyder retired the first time.
Nov. 30, Baylor - Win - Frogs deal Bears back-to-back losses in another typical "Holy War" renewal.

TCU Horned Frogs Final Prediction: 9-3/7-2 - 2nd (tie)

Here are the other team previews:
Who Wins the Big 12: Baylor

Who Wins the Big 12: Texas

Who Wins the Big 12: Texas Tech

Who Wins the Big 12: Kansas State

Who Wins the Big 12: West Virginia

Who Wins the Big 12: Iowa State

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