Oklahoma Sooners: Kenny Cain

Sooners schedule preview: TCU 

August, 24, 2012
8/24/12
12:30
PM ET
December 1, 2012: TCU
2011 record: 11-2 | 2011 conference record: 9-0 (Mountain West)
OU’s all-time against TCU: 7-4

Top returners: QB Casey Pachall, RB Waymon James, WR Josh Boyce, C James Fry, G Blaize Foltz, DE Stansly Maponga, DT David Johnson, DT D.J. Yendrey, LB Kenny Cain, CB Jason Verrett, S Devin Johnson

Key losses: WR Antoine Hicks, WR Jonathan Jones, TE Brock Logan, OT Jeff Olson, OT Robert Deck, G Kyle Dooley, DE Braylon Broughton, LB Tank Cardner, LB Kris Gardner, CB Greg McCoy, S Johnny Fobbs

2011 statistical leaders (*returners)
Rushing: Waymon James* (875 yards)
Passing: Casey Pachall* (2,921 yards)
Receiving: Josh Boyce (998 yards)
Tackles: Kenny Cain* (72)
Sacks: Stansly Maponga* (13.5)
Interceptions: Tank Cardner, Greg McCoy, Kris Gardner (3)

What they’re saying: "Obviously it has been a long journey for us. When you're sitting on the side of the mountain, you don't rest. We've got to keep climbing the mountain." -- TCU head coach Gary Patterson

Three things to watch:

1. The Horned Frogs have one of the most successful programs of the last five years. But how will they respond to the step up in competition. It’s one thing to dominate the Mountain West. Quite another to do the same in the Big 12.

2. The Big 12 has been the best QB conference in America. Overshadowed by the likes of Landry Jones, Geno Smith and Collin Klein, TCU’s Casey Pachall is an underrated, but dangerous quarterback. If TCU is going to compete for a Big 12 title, Pachall will have to play like one of the Big 12’s best.

3. The Horned Frogs have a veteran-laden defensive line with all four starters back, led by Stansly Maponga, who is coming off a 13.5-sack season. If the Horned Frogs can stuff opposing running games while also pressuring the QB, they will be a tough out for anyone in the Big 12.
 Oklahoma Sooners spirit squadBrett Deering/Getty ImagesThe Sooners face difficult match ups against Kansas State, Texas and West Virginia but should still come out on top in the Big 12.
Our weekly prediction series is over, and that means my projections for every Big 12 team are complete.

Here's how I'm predicting each Big 12 season to finish this year:

1. Oklahoma: 11-1 (8-1): The Sooners clinched the Big 12 heading into the final weekend, but I picked the Sooners to stumble on the final step to the national title. It's worth noting that I began these predictions before the offensive line injuries racked the Sooners' depth, so in retrospect, a loss might come earlier. Tough tests await against Kansas State and Texas, not to mention the trip to West Virginia.

2. West Virginia: 10-2 (7-2): I picked the Mountaineers to beat Texas in Austin but lose to TCU and Oklahoma at home. Some rough losses, but some memorable moments and another 10-win season with a good shot to grab an at-large bid to the BCS. Not a bad first year in the Big 12.

2. Kansas State: 10-2 (7-2): I'm higher on K-State than most and significantly less skeptical. Collin Klein does it ugly but gets it done, and the defense will be better than people think. Also, this is Bill Snyder we're talking about, bringing back 17 starters from a 10-win team. Close wins and other factors aside, think about that last sentence for a bit and tell me you really think K-State is finishing sixth in this league.

4. Texas: 9-3 (6-3): An inconsistent offense will cost the Longhorns a few games this year, but this is still a salty squad that will have a shot at making a run to a national title in 2013 if the quarterback position progresses. So far, I'm not all that encouraged by what I'm hearing out of UT camp, but we'll learn a lot about the Horns on their trip to Stillwater at the end of September. I picked the Horns to win it by 17.

5. TCU: 8-4 (5-4): I'm skeptical of how TCU will handle the transition, but the offense will be fine. How will the defense handle the move? Kenny Cain needs some help at linebacker. I picked the Frogs to start 7-0, but then lose four games before knocking off the Big 12 champion Sooners. The final five games of the season are just brutal for the Frogs.

5. Oklahoma State: 8-4 (5-4): OSU's got tons of upside, but the depth at the top of the Big 12 is going to be difficult. The Pokes might just as easily finish first in the league rather than here, but like Texas, Oklahoma State is setting up for a huge 2013.

7. Baylor: 6-6 (3-6): Baylor's going to be better than a six-win team, but like Oklahoma State, will fall victim to simply playing in a league with better teams at the top of the league. The offense will be there, but RG3 won't. Baylor's still a good team, but a step back is inevitable. The defense is better, but not good enough.

8. Texas Tech: 5-7 (2-7): I was a little surprised here. Yes, I did think Texas Tech would get back to a bowl this spring and summer. As I went through the schedule, though, I just didn't see the wins. Ultimately, that Nov. 24 showdown versus Baylor will decide who goes to the postseason and who doesn't. In a different league, I do think Texas Tech is a 7-8-win team. This isn't a different league.

9. Iowa State: 4-8 (2-7): Iowa State might spring an upset to get to 5-7, but I don't see Iowa State knocking off Iowa in Iowa City, and even Tulsa in the season opener is far from a gimme. The Cyclones are underdogs at home, too. I wouldn't be shocked to see the Cyclones spring another bowl appearance on us, but I don't see six wins. ISU is good enough to win six, but not good enough for me to pick them to win six, if that makes sense.

10. Kansas: 3-9 (0-9): KU will be more competitive this year, and I feel similar to the Jayhawks as I do with Iowa State in some ways. I expect Kansas to win a conference game this year. I really do. I just don't know who it's going to be, and I didn't have the guts to pick it. My top candidates are: at home against TCU on Sept. 15, at Texas Tech on Nov. 10 and Iowa State at home on Nov. 17.

Want my picks for every week this season? Here you go:

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Drive Through: Mountaineers Have Eye On Upset
Hosting No. 4 Oklahoma this weekend, can West Virginia send the Sooners away with their first loss of the season?
VIDEO PLAYLIST video

BIG 12 SCOREBOARD