Colleague KC Joyner took a look at five teams who could be sleepers to win conference titles in 2013, and from the Big 12, he's looking squarely at the new guys in Fort Worth.
You'll need Insider to see the full post, but Joyner loves nine starters coming back from TCU's defense, which gave up less than five yards a play in 2012, despite playing in league with five teams that ranked in the top 22 in yards per play. That is even more impressive when you consider how little help the defense got from a struggling offense after Casey Pachall left the team. TCU often struggled with field position and didn't have an offense to hang oodles of points and put pressure on opposing offenses to match a big number very often. TCU's defense is highlighted by the Big 12's best returning pass-rusher, defensive end Devonte Fields, and its best cover corner, Jason Verrett. In the Big 12, those are two fantastic positions to have big talents filling.
Pachall's return could obviously change things for the offense. Joyner also addresses the biggest criticism I've heard this offseason of TCU's Big 12 title chances: Its schedule.
Yes, the Frogs have to make trips to Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Kansas State, as well as Texas Tech. As I noted last month, though, we could be headed for a historically rough season at the top of the Big 12 with a lack of an elite team. I wouldn't be surprised one bit if the Big 12 champion had two losses. We might see a breakout team this fall, but the Big 12 is likely to begin the season with zero teams in the top 10, and perhaps only a couple in the top 15.
TCU might be able to break through and win a Big 12 title, even with a brutal road schedule.