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

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Michigan State, Washington round out future schedules with Utah State

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Needing to fill a single spot in some future schedules, both Michigan State and Washington have come calling to the Mountain West for an opponent. Utah State was happy to oblige.

Michigan State will host Utah State on September 1, 2018. The Aggies will travel to Washington on September 19, 2020. For their travels, Utah State will collect $2.9 million between the two games, according to FBScheduels.com ($1.4 million from Michigan State, $1.5 million from Washington).

The Big Ten and Pac-12 each use nine-game conference schedules, leaving three spots open for non-conference games. The Big Ten requires all conference members schedule one game per season against another power conference opponent (the Pac-12 has no such requirement of its members at this time), although exceptions are made. Utah State, as a member of the Mountain West Conference, would not satisfy that requirement for the Big Ten, but the Spartans already have a road game against Arizona State (Pac-12) on the schedule in 2018. Michigan State and Arizona State will play again in 2019 in East Lansing. Michigan State also has future power conference matchups with Notre Dame (2017, 2026, 2027) and Miami (2020, 2021). Michigan State will also play BYU in 2020 in Provo.

Washington has future power conference matchups with Rutgers (2017), Auburn (2018, in Atlanta), and Michigan (2020, 2021). The Huskies will also face Mountain West Competition from Fresno State (2017), Hawaii (2019), and Nevada (2027).

Utah State will face power conference opponents on the road in 2017 (Wisconsin, Wake Forest), 2018 (Michigan State), 2019 (Wake Forest, LSU), 2020 (Washington), and 2021 (Washington State). Utah State will also host Washington State in 2020 as part of a home-and-home deal. Utah State also has an annual series against BYU running through 2020.

Old Dominion hopes to “hit the ground running” on new stadium project

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Some fans of the Old Dominion football program may be getting a little impatient with the progress (or lack of) in the development of the football stadium, but Old Dominion athletic director Wood Selig says things are coming along nicely and progress will start to be seen soon enough.

“Once we get the architects engaged, we’ll figure out what $55 million will buy in 2019 dollars,” Selig said, according to The Virginian-Pilot. “Then we’ll have an idea for how much additional money needs to be raised to support the project.”

Old Dominion is planning on tearing down Foreman Field at the end of the 2018 season and rebuild it with modern seating and amenities. The $55 million project remained on the books in the Virginia budget in February, allowing the university to move ahead with their plans. The first step is finding an architect to take on the job.

Because Old Dominion’s football stadium is among the smallest in the nation and will remain so even after the rebuild and renovations, the entire project is expected to move fairly swiftly once the work actually begins. Old Dominion isn’t building a grand football palace, so any concerns over the lack of updates on the stadium should be calmed.

If nothing else, the concerns raised about the lack of updates on the stadium renovations may just mean Old Dominion has some eager fans excited about the future of the program.

Baylor interim president to Texas senators: “We were not trying to cover up what happened at Baylor”

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Texas senators are taking aim at Baylor University and are hoping to persuade the university to be more open and transparent despite being a private university.

Baylor interim president David Garland faced criticism from senators during a hearing with the Senate Higher Education Committee on Wednesday regarding the coverup of rape accusations found throughout the football program in recent years.

“We were not trying to cover up what happened at Baylor,” Garland said to the committee. Unfortunately for Garland, that was far from enough to sway the senators on the committee from playing nice with him and Baylor University.

I’m sorry, but I don’t buy that for a minute,” Senator Kel Seliger replied, according to The Texas Tribune. “I don’t buy that for a minute. I think that is exactly what was going on.”

The exchange between the interim president at Baylor and the senator came during a hearing regarding a state bill that requires any school receiving more than $5 million in Tuition Equalization Grants from the state to comply with open records and open meetings laws in the state of Texas. Baylor, being a private university, believes it should not have to comply with the bill, which would open up the doors to more information regarding Baylor’s handling of vile accusations within its university and athletics department.

The exchange comes a day after Baylor moved to dismiss a lawsuit claiming 52 rapes over a three-year period occurred at the university.

If you thought the ugliness around the Baylor situation was going to be limited to athletics, you thought wrong. This is clearly a state-wide concern and battle now. And things are always bigger in Texas, right?

A&M-UCLA opener in 2017 moved from Saturday to Sunday

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Grab your calendars as there’s been a change to your opening(ish) weekend college football agenda.

Texas A&M road trip to UCLA is one of a handful of high-profile games that will help launch the 2017 season Labor Day weekend.  The game, which will be played at the famed Rose Bowl, had been originally scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 2.  However, it was announced Wednesday that the game will be pushed back to Sunday, Sept. 3.

The game will kick off at either 7:30 or 8 p.m. ET, with the actual time being determined at a later date.

This year’s game will serve as the back-end of a home-and-home series between the two schools.  The Aggies claimed a 31-24 win over the Bruins in overtime last season in College Station.

The 2017 season will actually commence the weekend of Aug. 26 with five games featuring FBS teams, including Stanford against Rice in Australia and Colorado State opening their new on-campus stadium against Oregon State.  The first full weekend kicks off the following Thursday — Ohio State-Indiana highlights that day’s lean slate — and continues with a handful of games the next day — hello Colorado-Colorado State, Washington-Rutgers and Utah State-Wisconsin among others.

The first full Saturday features the likes of Alabama-Florida State, Florida-Michigan, West Virginia-Virginia Tech, LSU-BYU, Louisville-Purdue, Cal-North Carolina, Maryland-Texas and South Carolina-North Carolina State squaring off Sept. 2.

A&M-UCLA is the only Sunday game, while Tennessee and Georgia Tech will close out the weekend at the brand-new Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta Labor Day night that Monday.