TCU's BCS title shot in 2012

The Horned Frogs' D will have to step it up against Big 12 competition

Originally Published: May 24, 2012
By Ryan McGee | ESPN Insider
Casey PachallRic Tapia/Icon SMICasey Pachall had the nation's 12th-highest passing efficiency rating last season.

ESPN Insider's 20 teams that can win it all series is previewing each of the top 20 teams in Brian Fremeau's five-year program metric (for a full explanation, and links to all of the previews as they are published, click here), with the help of ESPN's Stats & Information group. This is the entry for TCU.

It's been a schizophrenic winter in Fort Worth.

On one hand, the TCU Horned Frogs are coming off an 11-2 record, their fourth consecutive season of double-digit wins and ninth since 2000. They finished the year ranked 14th, their fourth straight year inside the Associated Press top 15. They finally (cue the Hallelujah Chorus) were welcomed into the Big 12 after being repeatedly dissed since the Southwest Conference dissolved in 1996. And in the midst of it all, Amon Carter Stadium is undergoing a sorely needed extreme makeover.

On the other hand, Texas Christian University received an unfamiliar public black eye thanks to a drug sting that snared 17 TCU students, including a group of four football players led by high-profile linebacker Tanner Brock. The announcement of those arrests stole the thunder from the release of TCU's first Big 12 schedule, which happened barely one day earlier.

The good news is that the Frogs started their spring practice early, all the way back on Feb. 25. That was just nine days after the drug sting, timing that allowed the team to turn its focus back to football.

That's also what we'll do now as we break down the strengths and weaknesses of TCU's chances to make a BCS run in 2012.

Why TCU can win it all

The passing game could be elite.
Many in Fort Worth cringed at the thought of life after quarterback Andy Dalton, winner of 40-plus games, including the Rose Bowl. Then again, they also have cringed about life after Jeff Ballard, the man who was replaced by ... Dalton.

Ryan McGee | email

ESPN The Magazine, NASCAR