TCU entered the Big 12 as the only FBS team with six 11-win seasons the past seven years. They had won 16 of their last 20 games against teams from leagues like the Big 12 with automatic bids into the Bowl Championship Series.
The Frogs won their four September games, including the Big 12 debut at Kansas for their 25th conference victory in a row. Then second-year starting quarterback Casey Pachall was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving and withdrew from school to enter a rehabilitation program.
Redshirt freshman Trevone Boykin, the dual-threat quarterback who was practicing at running back to fill in for injuries there, was suddenly thrust into the role as starting quarterback only two days before the Big 12 home debut against Iowa State.
That 37-23 loss to the Cyclones ended the FBS' longest winning streak at 12 games and was the Frogs' first conference loss since November 2008, a span when they won three consecutive Mountain West titles.
They bounced back to win at Baylor before a triple-overtime loss to Texas Tech. After blowing a halftime lead at Oklahoma State, the Frogs won the meeting of Big 12 newcomers with a 39-38 double-overtime victory at West Virginia. Before going to Texas, they lost 23-10 at Kansas State, which then briefly took over the No. 1 spot in the BCS standings.
"We knew what it was going to be like at the end of the season. ... The last four (games), we're 2-2," Patterson said. "Probably if everybody here was a betting person, they probably wouldn't bet we were 2-2. Because I listened to (media) talk at the beginning of the season about, 'Well, you had a chance to be 7-0, but I don't think those last five, you win any of them.' ... We've gotten better, we've still got a long way to go."
TCU will end its first Big 12 season playing in a bowl for the eighth consecutive season, and the 14th time in 15 seasons — since Patterson arrived as defensive coordinator with coach Dennis Franchione's staff in 1998. The Frogs will open the 2013 season at Cowboys Stadium against LSU.
"We have so many young guys, so many freshman playing," senior tight end Corey Fuller said. "It's going to be amazing the next couple of years watching them grow up, and they've been doing a phenomenal job with that they've accomplished this year."