Last season, TCU had the make an early statement by facing Oklahoma and Baylor back-to-back to open up conference play. That's when we found out the Horned Frogs were legit. This time, a rather backloaded slate features meetings with OU and Baylor -- yep, back-to-back again -- to end the season. With a Big 12 title potentially on the line and the College Football Playoff committee watching closely, TCU must find a way to play its best football in late November.
Just this morning, it was announced that TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin, wide receiver Josh Doctson and tailback Aaron Green have all been named to the watch list for the Maxwell Award, which is awarded annually to the nation's top player. If three sounds like a lot, that's because it is; the only team with more players on the watch list is the defending champion Ohio State Buckeyes squad, which boasts four.
Boykin finished fourth in the 2014 Heisman voting behind Marcus Mariota, Melvin Gordon and Amari Cooper, all of whom are now in the NFL, and he will lead a TCU team that is among the favorites to make the College Football Playoff this season. His lead over Elliott could also have something to do with what is happening in Columbus, Ohio.
Boykin was given 6/1 odds, while Elliott was given 7/1 odds. However, the big story here might be the Buckeyes. With Braxton Miller now likely coming back to OSU, he jumped up to 10/1 odds to win the Heisman, ahead of fellow OSU quarterbacks Cardale Jones (20/1) and J.T. Barrett (25/1).
"Last game of the year, Brent. Can't hold anything back now." There's no reason to expect this one to be much different than last season, and not much separates these teams. But TCU does hold one advantage -- this is its final game of the regular season. Knowing that one win is all that's needed for a possible CFP berth, the Frogs leave it all on the field while the coaches go deep into the playbook to pull off a late win. TCU 48, Baylor 42.
Around the Big 12
What history reminds us is you can't predict the random. You can't predict the division runner-up playing for a national title in 2001. You can't predict the three-way tie in 2008, or that Oklahoma could lose its conference title game in 2003 and still play for a national title.
But based on these results, we do know a Big 12 championship game can hurt the conference almost as often as it helps.
I think that this is a new world, and we need to figure out how this new world is going to operate, and it will take a while to shake itself out. I suspect what will happen either the NCAA, or the conferences, or both, will start coming up with some common approaches so that there isn't a huge variation to the way these are being dealt with.