TCU and West Virginia are great additions, and these two squads look to show the rest of the conference what they’re made of during their inaugural seasons.
This year’s version of the Big 12 will feature three defending conference champions as the Horned Frogs (Mountain West) and Mountaineers (Big East) come fresh off of conference titles and bowl wins.
No. 2: TCU Horned Frogs
TCU, who is a familiar foe to former Southwest Conference members Baylor, Texas and Texas Tech, looks to continue its defensive ways under Gary Patterson (109-30, 7-4 bowls), who’s been every bit as successful as any other coach in the country.
Continuing success won’t be as easy as it was before, though, after several players were kicked off the team earlier this year due to a police operation that shut down a drug ring.
Junior Casey Paschall is TCU’s offensive leader and looks to build upon a successful 11-2 2011 campaign that was capped off with a win in the Poinsettia Bowl against the Bulldogs of Louisiana Tech.
[Related: Big 12 vs SEC Rivalry Continues]
The win also gave head coach Gary Patterson a tie for most wins in school history.
The Horned Frogs replace former-SWC rival Texas A&M, who, for some reason, thought going to another league was a smart idea.
Since the inception of the BCS in 1998, TCU has won seven conference titles in three different leagues (WAC, C-USA, MWC) and won the first Rose Bowl by a non-BCS school over favored Wisconsin. They have also “donned” some really cool helmets with the school’s mascot holding a rose in its mouth.
The Aggies, on the other hand, had one conference title and we never really heard from them again.
Comparatively, TCU has two recognized national titles to Texas A&M’s one. The Big 12 is the clear winner in this pickup.
Also, TCU hasn’t lost a conference game in a few years and was picked fifth in the conference media poll.
No. 1: West Virginia Mountaineers
The Mountaineers and second-year head coach Dana Holgorsen come off a record setting 70-33 Orange Bowl win over the Clemson Tigers.
At halftime, the game was getting out of hand already. With the score 49-20, West Virginia had set the record for most points in a half of a bowl game.
That was just 1-of-9 records that were set or tied during this game:
• Team TDs: WVU’s 10 tied the record
• Combined points in a half (69)
• Total Points (70)
• Points in a Quarter: second quarter, 35 by WVU
• Individual Passing TD: six by Geno Smith (tied former OU OC Chuck Long)
• Individual Total TDs: Smith rushed for another, giving him seven of WVU’s 10
• Individual Total Points: More for Smith, 42 total points
• Individual Receiving TDs: Tavon Austin was Smith’s favorite target, four reception TDs which tied with three other players
Seems like West Virginia should fit right in the Big 12, which is known as the “Offensive League” to the SEC’s defense.
The Mountaineers joined the conference and finished second in their first Big 12 preseason media poll with seven first-place votes, behind Oklahoma (32 first place votes).
The most difficult conference road game for the Mountaineers is at Texas Oct. 6; other than that, West Virginia doesn’t face much in the way of opposition away from home.
The team opens its Big 12 campaign at home against Baylor and hosts Kansas State, TCU, Oklahoma and Kansas.
West Virginia replaces Missouri who, like Texas A&M, didn’t quite think the process completely through. The Tigers are now destined to become a middle-of-the-road team in a conference that they realistically will never win.
Since the inception of the BCS, WVU has won six conference championships in the Big East. Missouri appeared in multiple conference title games, but failed to win any, or advance to a BCS bowl.
The winner again is the Big 12.
The Mountaineers have a legitimate shot at playing for a national championship if their offense can keep putting points on the board, and the defense can at least slow opposing offenses down.
They could very well be this year’s version of the 2011 Oklahoma State Cowboys.
Geno Smith is crazy explosive and simply just a threat whenever he has the ball in his hands. He’ll have to keep away from turnovers and make smart decisions, because losing a possession could mean losing a game.
Again, the Mountaineers won’t been tested until they visit Austin.
2012 Big 12 Story Lines
- No. 10 Bob Bowlsby, New Commish in Town
- No. 9 Red Raiders and Cyclones, Where do we go?
- No. 8 New Skipper Who Looks Like He Ate the Old One
- No. 7: Big 12 vs SEC Rivalry Continues
- No. 6: Oklahoma State, Life After Success
- No. 5: Baylor, Continuing Success
- No. 4: Snyders Resurgence
- No. 3 Stoops Brothers Once Again Reunited