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CFT Preseason Top 25: No. 20 TCU

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2011 record: 11-2 overall, 7-0 in MWC (1st)

2011 postseason: Poinsettia Bowl (31-24 win over Louisiana Tech)

2011 final AP/coaches’ ranking: No. 14/No. 13

Head coach: Gary Patterson (109-30 overall in 12 seasons at TCU)

Offensive coordinator: Jarrett Anderson (16th season at TCU, fourth as co-OC); Rusty Burns (fourth season at TCU, first as co-OC)

2011 offensive rankings: 19th rushing offense (208.6 ypg); 63rd passing offense (231.6 ypg); 28th total offense (440.2 ypg); 9th scoring offense (40.8 ppg)

Returning offensive starters: six

Defensive coordinator: Dick Bumpas (Ninth season at TCU, ninth as DC)

2011 defensive rankings: 25th rushing defense (123.8 ypg); 60th pass defense (223.6 ypg); 32nd total defense (347.4 ypg); 28th scoring defense (21.5 ppg)

Returning defensive starters: seven

Location: Fort Worth, Texas

Stadium: Amon Carter Stadium (45,000; grass)

Last league title: 2011 (MWC)

Schedule: [view]

Roster: [view]

2011 statistics: [view]

The Good
The starting quarterback returns. So does four of the top five rushers from 2011 as well as the top four in receiving yardage. In other words, an offense that finished in the top 10 in scoring is loaded once again, which is a good thing as the Horned Frogs will be spending its first season in the offensive-leaning Big 12.

The Bad
Inexplicably, a TCU defense that hadn’t finished outside the top 10 in points allowed since 2005 plummeted to 28th in that category in 2011. While TCU returns seven starters from that unit, the Horned Frogs did lose two top linebackers whose departures will make an impact. Heading into the Big 12, the last thing the Horned Frogs need is issues on the defensive side of the ball, although 2011 could very well be considered an aberration given Patterson’s defensive track record at the school. The defense isn’t the only concern, either, as TCU must also replace three starting offensive linemen.

The Unknown
As is the case with West Virginia, Missouri, Texas A&M and others, TCU will be adjusting to a newer — and more rugged — conference home this season. How quickly the Horned Frogs  adapt to their new surroundings will go a long way in determining how much — or how little — success they will have in their inaugural campaign in the Big 12.  As TCU will be moving to its fifth different conference since 1995, we’re guessing that they have this league-swapping down to a science.

Make-or-break game: at Texas, Nov. 22
What better way to enter a new conference than to knock off the state’s bell-cow football program on Thanksgiving Day?  Certainly games against the likes of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State and Texas Tech are important, but putting a Longhorns notch in the belt as TCU attempts to get a foothold in its new league would do wonders for the Horned Frogs.  Especially if TCU can help spoil what’s projected to be a rebound season for the ‘Horns.

Heisman hopeful: quarterback Casey Pachall
Andy who? In his first year as the replacement for Andy Dalton, all Pachall did was throw for nearly 3,000 yards and totaled 27 touchdowns — 25 passing, two rushing — in leading the Horned Frogs to an 11-win season.  Given the amount of skill players that are returning, Pachall should be in line for a statistical improvement in 2012, which should vastly improve the odds of the junior being mentioned on at least the periphery of the Heisman discussion. Provided he can test clean, of course.

Return to CFT’s preseason Top 25

Big 12 preview, vote

Local Auburn man arrested after setting Toomer’s Corner oak tree on fire

AUBURN, AL - SEPTEMBER 10: Fans of the Auburn Tigers roll trees at Toomer's Corner after defeating the Arkansas State Red Wolves at Jordan Hare Stadium on September 10, 2016 in Auburn, Alabama. The Auburn Tigers defeated the Arkansas State Red Wolves 51-14.(Photo by Michael Chang/Getty Images)
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Police have identified and arrested a 29-year-old Auburn, Ala. man after he allegedly set fire to one of the oak trees at the famous Toomer’s Corner.

Fans traditionally celebrate a Tigers victory by “rolling” the trees with toilet paper and did so once again on Saturday night following an 18-13 victory over LSU. However, video surveillance showed a suspect lighting some of the paper on fire, setting the tree ablaze as he walked away.

The Auburn city police department, in a release obtained by USA Today, stated that “witnesses at Toomer’s Corner identified a suspect, who was immediately detained and taken into custody by police on an unrelated charge of public intoxication.” Several reports identified the suspect as Jochen Wiest.

Firefighters quickly responded to the fire and extinguished the burning tree but university officials are still evaluating the damage to the oaks.

“From the ground we can easily see damage to the leaves and base of the tree. It is significant,” Professor of Horticulture Gary Keever said in a statement released by the school. “I expect the foliage will continue to drop. The full extent of damage may not be known for several weeks. The best case scenario would be to see a flush of new growth next spring, but right now it’s too early to tell how the tree will respond.”

The incident is all the more emotional for Auburn fans given that the tradition had just been revived this season following a three-year absence as a result of an Alabama fan poisoning the oaks. Hopefully the area around Toomer’s Corner can recover in time for the Tigers’ next win, which might be as soon as Saturday when they host Louisiana-Monroe.

Notre Dame officially parts ways with defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder

FILE - In an Aug. 29, 2014 file photo, Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly, right, talks with defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder during practice during media day for a NCAA football team in South Bend, Ind. It was announced Sunday, Sept. 25, 2016, that Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly has fired defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder following a 1-3 start. The school tweeted a new release saying VanGorder is being replaced by defensive analyst Greg Hudson.(AP Photo/Joe Raymond, File)
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Notre Dame has officially parted ways with embattled defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder.

“This is a difficult decision,” Irish head coach Brian Kelly said in a statement. “I have the utmost respect for Brian as both a person and football coach, but our defense simply isn’t where it should be and I believe this change is necessary for the best interest of our program and our student-athletes.”

Notre Dame has allowed 134 points through their first four games and are just 1-3 after extremely high preseason expectations. This was VanGorder’s third season in South Bend but the Irish have regressed significantly and ranked 101st in FBS scoring defense after Saturday’s home loss to Duke.

Defensive analyst Greg Hudson, a former Notre Dame linebacker who has served as defensive coordinator at Purdue, East Carolina and Minnesota, was elevated to fill VanGorder’s role.

“It’s never easy to make a change on your staff, but I’m confident in Greg’s ability to lead our defense,” Kelly added. “As a former player at Notre Dame and an experienced defensive coordinator, he not only understands the expectations necessary to compete at the highest level, but he’ll bring a fresh perspective to our sideline, practice field and meeting rooms.”

The move to make staff changes on the defensive side of the ball isn’t exactly surprising to Irish fans who have seen the team play this year but the timing is notable. Kelly remarked that the coaching was not the problem on defense after the loss to the Blue Devils but still opted to make a change on Sunday. It will be interesting to see if a very young defense will respond, and perhaps even rally, now that a big message has been sent.

Notre Dame plays Syracuse on Saturday at noon ET.

Florida International fires head coach Ron Turner after 10-30 run

HADLEY, MA - SEPTEMBER 17:  Head coach Ron Turner of the FIU Golden Panthers looks on during the game against the Massachusetts Minutemen at Warren McGuirk Alumni Stadium on September 17, 2016 in Hadley, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images)
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The firing season in college football is getting started earlier and earlier. Just ask Ron Turner.

The Florida International head coach was fired early Sunday in a move that was hardly surprising aside from its timing.

“I want to thank Coach Turner for his contributions to the FIU football program, most importantly his commitment to academics and community service,” athletic director Pete Garcia said in a short statement. “At this time Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator Ron Cooper has been named interim head coach.”

Turner went 10-30 over four years at the school but was 0-4 to begin the season after a 53-14 loss to Central Florida last week. While he is far from the first coach fired in 2016, Turner did become the first head coach to be fired after the season got underway.

Cooper had a 45–55 record in nine seasons as a head coach at Eastern Michigan, Louisville and Alabama A&M. He was elevated to FIU’s defensive coordinator prior to the season and notably served as LSU’s defensive backs coach when Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu starred in Baton Rouge.

The Panthers are set to play local rival Florida Atlantic on Saturday.

LSU head coach Les Miles, offensive coordinator Cam Cameron fired

AUBURN, AL - SEPTEMBER 24:  Head coach Les Miles of the LSU Tigers looks on during the game against the Auburn Tigers at Jordan-Hare Stadium on September 24, 2016 in Auburn, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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The Mad Hatter is looking for a new gig.

LSU has fired head coach Les Miles and offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, the school announced on Sunday. The news was first reported by the Baton Rouge Advocate.

“Decisions like this are never easy ones to make,” athletic director Joe Alleva said in a statement. “Coach Miles has done a tremendous job here and he’s been a great ambassador for our University, which makes this even more difficult.

“However, it’s apparent in evaluating the program through the first month of the season that a change has to be made. Our commitment to excellence and competing at the highest level is unwavering, and our goals for the remainder of this season haven’t changed. We have an obligation to our student-athletes to put them in the best position to have success on the football field each week and we have great confidence that coach Orgeron will do just that.”

The move comes just hours after the Tigers lost to Auburn in the final seconds to drop to 2-2 after beginning the year as a trendy national championship pick and top five team in the polls.

Miles has been in Baton Rouge since 2005 and posted a 114–34 record at the school, including a national title in 2007 and a pair of SEC championships. He was nearly let go after the 2015 season but was retained following a huge wave of public support and potential implications with a large buyout.

Defensive line coach Ed Orgeron was named the interim head coach for the rest of the season. Former LSU quarterback and current tight ends coach Steve Ensminger is slated to become the new offensive coordinator, according to Fox Sports.