Predicting how TCU football will fare in what’s become a wild Big 12

What makes TCU’s defense so good according to their opponents?

Hear what coaches and athletes throughout the Big 12 conference have to say about TCU defense.
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Hear what coaches and athletes throughout the Big 12 conference have to say about TCU defense.

You may have a better chance of hitting the Mega Millions jackpot that has climbed to $654 million than predicting how a Big 12 football weekend is going to unfold.

That’s how wild Week 7 was for a conference that prides itself on everybody playing everybody. Common opponents and what happened in previous weeks doesn’t seem to carry much weight.

Iowa State lost to TCU to open Big 12 play, and has now gone on to beat a then-ranked Oklahoma State team and an undefeated, No. 6-ranked West Virginia. In different ways, of course. ISU gave up 42 points to Oklahoma State in a shootout, and then limited West Virginia to 14.

Kansas State appeared headed toward a disastrous season with three straight losses to open conference play, but showed life in its win over Oklahoma State on Saturday.

And who knows about Oklahoma? Army took it to overtime in Norman, and Texas had its best scoring day in Red River Showdown history.

Speaking of the Longhorns, they survived a scare from the Baylor Bears and are now the best-positioned team from the conference to reach the College Football Playoff. Who would’ve thought that after Texas dropped the season-opener to Maryland?

But, as TCU coach Gary Patterson put it the other week, “One of the greatest strengths is we have a strong league. One of the weaknesses of our league is we have a strong league. Anybody can beat anybody.

“I keep telling you this – I don’t think there’s a great chance anybody is going to get through this league without a loss.”

Texas is the only team left with that opportunity, and it has a difficult three-game stretch in November against West Virginia, at Texas Tech and against Iowa State.

TCU, meanwhile, sits at 3-3 overall and 1-2 in conference play. It’s possible for the Frogs to somehow end up in the Big 12 championship game, or not even become bowl eligible. It’s that unpredictable. It’s that open.

Before this weekend, it seemed like a given TCU would win at least three of four against Kansas, Kansas State, Baylor and Oklahoma State to become bowl eligible. That may happen, but it sure doesn’t feel like a given anymore.

“It’s going to be interesting, to say the least,” Patterson said.

Yes, it is. And yours truly will try to predict how the rest of the season goes (before throwing in a few bucks to the Mega Millions charity).

Saturday vs. Oklahoma

The Sooners weren’t pleased with falling to the rival Longhorns in the Red River Showdown, and have had a couple weeks to regroup and ready for the Frogs.

TCU is battling injuries in the secondary and offensive line, which is cause for concern. So are the 13 turnovers the last four games.

TCU RB Sewo Olonilua fumbled a ball in Texas Tech territory on Thursday night. The Frogs have turned the ball over at least three times in their past four games.

OU has won six of the seven matchups with TCU since it joined the Big 12, and will make it seven of eight.

Oklahoma 27, TCU 20.

Record: 3-4.

Oct. 27 at Kansas

Visits to Lawrence haven’t been much of a cakewalk since TCU joined the Big 12. The Frogs have won all three trips, though, by scores of 20-6, 34-30 and 24-23.

KU and coach David Beaty seem to be in desperation mode by firing offensive coordinator Doug Meacham, but that won’t change the results. TCU wins its seventh straight against KU.

TCU 24, Kansas 10.

Record: 4-4.

Nov. 3 vs. Kansas State

Gary Patterson is 3-3 against his alma mater, and his defense shined a year ago by giving up just two field goals to the Wildcats.

Patterson will have his defense ready again this time around as TCU gets back to having a winning record.

TCU 20, Kansas State 16.

Record: 5-4.

Nov. 10 at West Virginia

TCU has visited West Virginia three times since joining the Big 12, winning twice. But the Mountaineers have never been as highly-touted as they are this season.

But West Virginia QB Will Grier hasn’t looked great of late, throwing three interceptions against Kansas and being held to just 100 passing yards at Iowa State.

TCU’s defense can slow down West Virginia, but the question is whether the offense does its part. The early thought is yes, especially with WVU going into this following a road game at Texas.

TCU 24, West Virginia 23.

Record: 6-4.

Nov. 17 at Baylor

Baylor won once in Matt Rhule’s first season a year ago. It hasn’t taken Rhule long to get the Bears back on track, though.

All you have to see is Baylor having a chance at Texas on Saturday. Bears QB Charlie Brewer is finding his stride, and this team is on the rise. It gets the best of a TCU team that is riding a three-game winning streak going into it.

Baylor 27, TCU 23.

Record: 6-5.

Nov. 24 vs. Oklahoma State

Oklahoma State is a head-scratching team so far. The Cowboys have been ranked, beating Boise State in non-conference play, but have lost three of four to open Big 12 play and fall off the rankings radar.

They’ve scored more than 40 points twice and less than 20 points twice in league play. It’s hard to know just what team this is, but this feels like a TCU win to close the regular season at home.

TCU 27, Oklahoma State 20.

Record: 7-5.

Bowl projection

Liberty Bowl (Dec. 31 in Memphis) vs. Missouri. This would be an intriguing matchup as Missouri QB Drew Lock tries to boost his NFL Draft stock against Gary Patterson’s defense.

TCU athletics held its annual "Meet the Frogs" event on Saturday. Football players and coach Gary Patterson interacted with fans, as well as the volleyball and soccer teams.

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