College Confidential

ESPN’s Herbstreit picks TCU to win Big 12 football title

As preseason predictions surface on a near-hourly basis from college football analysts in anticipation of Saturday’s season-opening game of the 2016 college football schedule (California vs. Hawaii, played in Australia), a prominent voice has weighed in with his support for TCU to claim this year’s Big 12 championship.

ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit, best remembered by many TCU fans as one of the individuals who favored seeing his alma mater (Ohio State) squeeze ahead of the Horned Frogs at the 11th hour to grab the final spot in the 2014 College Football Playoff field, selected No. 13 TCU as his team to beat in this year’s Big 12 race during a Wednesday conference call with reporters.

Herbstreit identified TCU as a team he liked to “kind of surprise some people” behind new quarterback Kenny Hill and said the Horned Frogs “could be the team to beat in the Big 12.” TCU has been picked to finish behind No. 3 Oklahoma, the reigning Big 12 champion, in most preseason polls.

Herbstreit made his prediction when asked how he viewed OU’s chance to return to this year’s playoff field as the Big 12 champion despite playing September nonconference games against No. 15 Houston (Sept. 3) and No. 6 Ohio State (Sept. 17).

In his response, Herbstreit said: “I am looking at the Big 12 at TCU, I think, to kind of surprise people. Now that they went through so many injuries a year ago, I think they’ll be a lot better on that side of the ball (defensively). I think Kenny Hill could make them pretty dynamic on offense. So I think TCU could be the team to beat in the Big 12.”

The Horned Frogs open their season Sept. 3 against South Dakota State, an FCS opponent, at Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth.

Jimmy Burch: 817-390-7760, @Jimmy_Burch