The Big 12 Conference unveiled the 2017 football schedules for its member schools on Tuesday, and as is the case almost every odd-numbered year, the TCU Horned Frogs will have it harder away from Fort Worth than on the field at Amon G. Carter Stadium.
In a contrast from this season, the Frogs have no consecutive home games on the schedule after having their first five games of the 2016 season in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and four in Fort Worth. The team will face back-to-back road games towards the end of the season.
Nonetheless, the opening three weeks of the season will largely resemble that of 2016, as the Frogs kick-off the 2017 campaign at home on Saturday Sept. 2 against an FCS opponent in the form of the Jackson State Tigers. And once again, week two’s opponent is none other than the Arkansas Razorbacks, the second game of a home-and-home series between the two former Southwest Conference Rivals. Of course, the Frogs will be traveling to Fayetteville this time around, their first road game against an SEC school since 1997 when TCU lost to Vanderbilt 40-16.
After a home matchup against SMU on Sept. 16, the Frogs then open up conference play with three straight testers, first traveling to Stillwater, Oklahoma to face the Oklahoma State Cowboys on Sept. 23 before taking hosting the West Virginia Mountaineers on Oct. 7 following a bye. Then the scene shifts to Manhattan, Kansas on Oct. 14 when the Frogs face Bill Snyder and the Kansas State Wildcats.
TCU’s three worst losses since joining the Big 12 came against K-State, Oklahoma State and West Virginia in 2016, losing 30-6, 31-6 and 34-10, respectively. The Frogs 1-1 in Manhattan and at home against West Virginia since entering the conference, but are 0-3 in Stillwater.
After that, the Frogs catch a bit of a breather, hosting the lowly Kansas Jayhawks at home on Oct. 21 before taking on Iowa State in Ames on Oct. 28. Neither of the two opponents were bowl-eligible in 2016, finishing last and second to last in the conference at 2-10 and 3-9, respectively.
When November rolls around though, things get interesting.
One of the more intriguing matchups for TCU could very well be on Nov. 4, when the Frogs host the Texas Longhorns under first year head coach Tom Herman. The expectations will once again be high for the Longhorns entering 2017, and by that point we should have a strong sense of both teams’ true identities. Should the Frogs and Horns both excel, Big 12 title hopes could be on the line in this one.
One week after that, the Frogs get to take on the other half of the Red-River Rivalry, heading up I-35 to take on the reigning Big 12 champion Oklahoma Sooners in Norman on Nov. 11. A matchup that has come down to the wire by six points or less each of the past five seasons, this contest too could have major implications as far as getting into the revitalized Big 12 championship game. TCU is 0-2 in Norman since entering the conference, but has only lost by a combined four points.
Once Oklahoma passes, it’s then back to back matchups against Texas squads to wrap things up for TCU. The Frogs will first have to head out to the West Texas plains to take on Texas Tech in Lubbock on Nov. 18, before heading back to take on rival Baylor at home on Thanksgiving weekend. The Baylor game could prove to be an easy one for TCU given the recruiting drama in Waco, but weird things happen no matter how good you are in Lubbock. Considering it’ll be in late November, cold and windy weather could be a major factor in that one too. Go ahead and mark it a trap game.
And when all of it is said and done, if the Frogs make the cut, they’ll be playing just down the street in Arlington at AT&T Stadium in the Big 12 Championship Game on Dec. 2.
The travel plans are set. Now the question simply remains what kind of team Gary Patterson and the Frogs will field in 2017.