Best case, worst case: TCU

Last week, we started our series on the best-case and worst-case scenarios for each Big 12 team.

The premise of these fun posts is to take a look at what the season might look like if everything fell into place for each school, the best-case scenario for 2014. Conversely, we'll also show what might happen if everything goes wrong, the worst-case scenario.

Let's continue with TCU.


After entering the summer with questions about its offense, all questions are answered for TCU in the season opener against Samford.

The Horned Frogs put up 63 points as Doug Meacham and Sonny Cumbie debut their offense with laser-like precision. True freshman Foster Sawyer passes for 354 yards and four touchdowns in his first college game, and throws two TDs to Trevone Boykin, who makes a seamless switch to receiver. Horned Frogs fans, taken aback by all the scoring, refuse to leave Amon G. Carter Stadium and party deep into the night after the win.

TCU rides the momentum into a 3-0 start heading into an early showdown with Oklahoma. The battle between two of the Big 12’s top defenses ends with a 7-6 TCU victory after Sam Carter’s interception return for a touchdown decides a game with zero offensive touchdowns after the defenses overwhelm opposing Sawyer and OU quarterback Trevor Knight.

The undefeat showdown between TCU and Baylor the following week ramps up the rivalry to another notch when the Horned Frogs score a late touchdown to seal a double-digit win instead of running out the clock with the Bears. The dislike between the two teams is further amped up after the game as several TCU defenders suggest the Horned Frogs don’t just “try to outscore people” all the time and Gary Patterson says, “I told him (Art Briles) where to find me but he never came, so I decided to make myself at home in Waco” after saying Briles "knows where to find me" during a postgame rant last year.

Home wins over Oklahoma State and Texas Tech secure the Horned Frogs’ status as the nation’s biggest surprise, but West Virginia spoils the undefeated run with 42-24 upset win in a hostile Saturday night environment at Milan Puskar Stadium. Afterward, Mountaineers coach Dana Holgorsen says, “The Big 12 was starting to get a reputation as a defensive league. We couldn’t let that happen.”

Gary Patterson’s crew gets things back on track with wins over Kansas and Kansas State but a trip to Austin, Texa,s ends with a loss to Charlie Strong’s Longhorns. Nonetheless, with a regular season-ending win over Iowa State, TCU gets to 10 wins for the first time since joining the Big 12.

TCU knocks off Auburn in the Cotton Bowl to finish 11-2. Defensive end Devonte Fields earns All-American status after his 15-sack campaign helps him run away with Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year honors. Sawyer earns Big 12 Offensive Freshman of the Year honors with his 3,500-yard performance as a true freshman.


The Horned Frogs offense just can’t get it together. In fact, it takes a step backward from the 2013 version.

Patterson’s squad escapes the season opener against Samford with a 14-10 victory after turnovers, dropped passes and mental mistakes act as an anchor, pulling TCU’s hopes for offensive success into the abyss.

Little glimmers of hope begin to emerge as the new offense scores 30 points in a home victory over Minnesota, but SMU outscores TCU in a road loss the following Saturday and OU’s defense stomps on the Horned Frogs’ offensive hopes in a double-digit win at Amon G. Carter Stadium two weeks later.

Boykin, knowing quarterback isn’t his position of the future, pushes for a permanent move to receiver after switching between quarterback and receiver in the first four games. Matt Joeckel, who was splitting time with Boykin, takes over behind center, but the offense’s production doesn’t change.

Turnovers, inefficient quarterback play and mental mistakes become the norm for TCU’s offense as the Horned Frogs drop their second straight game with a loss to Baylor. After a narrow home victory over Oklahoma State, Kliff Kingsbury’s Red Raiders hand TCU its third defeat in four games.

At this point, things are so bad for TCU’s offense that the Horned Frogs begin punting on third down.

Shockingly, this plan works at times, to the tune of a 2-3 record in the final five games against West Virginia, Kansas State, Kansas, Iowa State and Texas as the TCU defense scores three touchdowns during this span and holds each opponent to less than 25 points.

After a 5-7 campaign thanks largely to offensive struggles, Patterson spends the entire offseason perfecting his punt-on-third-down plan with the hope of taking lackluster offense out of the equation in 2015.