Here is a quick primer on TCU's first season in the Big 12:
Last Year: 11-2, Mountain West champions, beat Louisiana Tech 31-24 in the Poinsettia Bowl.
Coach: Gary Patterson (109-30 in his 12th season)
Returning starters: 15 (7 offense, 8 defense)
Outlook: The Horned Frogs, despite losing 26 seniors off a Rose Bowl championship team, claimed an unprecedented third straight Mountain West title last fall. Under Patterson, winning – and winning big – has become habit. The Frogs have won at least 11 games in six of the past seven seasons and been ranked in the top 10 of both the Associated Press and USA Today/Coaches Poll the past three years.
The Big 12 will be a jump up in competition on a weekly basis, although TCU has proven itself worthy in recent spotlight non-conference clashes.
TCU returns 15 starters from the 2011 squad, including most of its key playmakers on offense. Quarterback Casey Pachall, a junior to be, was superb in following Andy Dalton, throwing for 2,921 yards and 25 TDs with seven interceptions. He passed for five touchdowns in a win at Boise State.
The Frogs also return three running backs – Ed Wesley, Matthew Tucker and Waymon James – who combined for 2,303 yards and 24 touchdowns. Also back are the top two receivers, Josh Boyce and Skye Dawson, who combined for 1,498 yards and 14 touchdowns.
* Non-conference: After opening the season against Grambling State, the Horned Frogs face two interesting tests, home against a Virginia team that won eight games a year ago and at SMU, which handed TCU one of its two losses in 2011.
* Back loaded: The Horned Frogs get a chance to start positive in the Big 12, with a trip to Kansas and a visit from Iowa State as their first two games. But the final seven games will be rugged, featuring road games at Baylor (the other 2011 loss), OSU, West Virginia and Texas and a home finale against OU.
* High point: If the Frogs somehow navigate their way to still be in league contention when the Sooners visit Fort Worth on Dec. 1, it could be the biggest home game in the history of the program.