We have been covering Big 12 football this week and today we take a look at how the two new additions to the conference will perform in their inaugural season.
Joining us once again is Jay Beck of Turfburner, Amanda Staver of Ride Schooner, Ride, Allen Kenney of Blatant Homerism, Flint Harris of Holy Turf, and the guys from EER Insider. Here is what they had to say about TCU and West Virginia.
Question # 4: How will the two new additions to the Big 12 perform this season?
Jay Beck – Turfburner.com: I think West Virginia will do very well. One of the hardest aspects in switching conference is the unfamiliarity with all the new opponents on a team’s schedule. While there will still be some adjustments to be made, Dana Holgorsen knows exactly what he’s getting into after having spent nine seasons coaching in the Big 12 which helps negate some of that to an extent.
From a talent perspective, the Mountaineers shouldn’t be far off from the top teams in the Big 12, especially on offense. They have a great quarterback to go along with two great receivers and their style of play fits perfectly into the Big 12 (It’s funny how all this has worked out with Holgorsen as their head coach).
As for TCU, I can’t wait to see how they handle the step up in competition. They’ve proven they can play with the big boys already, but doing it for one week is an entirely different deal than doing it for an entire season.
SMU, San Diego State, New Mexico, Boise State, Colorado State and UNLV were all part of the conference schedule last season. Now take a look at the last five weeks of TCU’s schedule for 2012: @ Oklahoma State, @ West Virginia, Kansas State, @ Texas, Oklahoma.
They’re capable of beating any of those teams on a given week, but how are they going to hold up depth wise in five straight weeks?
I think TCU is probably looking at a 4-5 or 5-4 record in Big 12 games during their first season, but in the long run, they should become regulars in the top half of the league.
Amanda Staver – Ride Schooner, Ride: Both TCU and West Virginia were great additions to the Big XII. TCU logistically makes complete sense and both bring a lot to the table besides football. I believe WVU will have a bigger impact right out of the gates. The Frogs have a great first team, but right now their issue is depth. A lot of successful teams in the Big XII rely on the 2nd and 3rd units to make major impacts. Right now, TCU does not have that. After the drug debacle hitting the defense this offseason, that will be a problem with the high-powered offenses of their conference mates. I see TCU being middle of the road, with WVU somewhere above them.
Allen Kenney – Blatant Homerism: As I mentioned, I think WVU has the potential to challenge for the league title, especially considering that the Mountaineers draw prohibitive favorite Oklahoma at home. TCU is a notch below WVU in my mind.
However, while I realize that both of these programs have had some unquestionable success in the last decade, don’t underestimate what the overall boost in competition could mean to the bottom line for TCU and WVU. These are well-coached teams with solid players, but facing programs like Oklahoma and Texas from week to week presents a different challenge than Rutgers and Colorado St.
Flint Harris – Holy Turf: I think West Virginia has a chance to win the Big 12. Defense is not as important in the Big 12 compared to other conferences, so they may just outscore enough teams. The schedule does not set up well for TCU, and I see a bowl game in their future, but not an upper echelon destination.
EER Insider: I think the Big 12 did a magnificant job with the additions of West Virginia and TCU. Both teams, coming off successful 2011 seasons, will find themselves in the preseason Top 25 for 2012. One key componet that catches my eye, is both schools have talented defenses. We know both the Mountaineers and Horned Frogs can rack up points, but if they can shutdown their opponets, they may enter their new conference blazing.
The Saturday Edge: As I mentioned in my previous post, I’m concerned about the attrition TCU has suffered in the past few weeks. I think their problems are going to be more on the defensive side of the ball. Losing most of their defensive backfield isn’t good news when you’re breaking into a wide open spread offense passing conference. With their bottom loaded schedule, TCU will have never faced this many loaded BCS teams in a row. I would feel differently about the Frogs if they hadn’t had so many of these distractions in the off-season. Still, you can’t automatically discount them. This is the same team that knocked off Boise last year on the blue turf, and very nearly did the same to RG3 and Baylor. They also beat Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl a couple years ago, so they aren’t afraid to take on all comers.
West Virginia strength will be their offense, not their defense. The biggest question is are they going to be the West Virginia that scored 70 on Clemson in the Orange Bowl, or are they going to be the WV who played erratic throughout the season in the Big East? With their defensive coordinator now gone, will the defense (6 returning starters) be able to adjust to their new 3-4 scheme on the fly in Big 12 play? The Mountaineers will probably struggle away from home, but outscore their opponents at home. They have a favorable schedule, but those games at Texas, Texas Tech and defending Big 12 champs OSU will not be easy. I think West Virginia will be in the thick of the title race. But if they lose to OU at home, it’s all over for them, because they won’t beat both Texas in Austin and Texas Tech in Lubbock the following week.
Get more great college football analysis over at Saturday Edge.