After much anticipation, the Big 12 was the final Power 5 conference to reveal its 2023 Football schedule when the full slate was released on Tuesday (even if you may have seen an early leak from TCU). In the first - and potentially only - season as a 14-team league, the conference had many considerations to juggle in creating this schedule. Integrating the four new teams meant an end to the conference’s round robin “one true champion” format which guaranteed a rematch in the conference title game. In the previous format, the only opportunity for teams to feel hard-done-by would be placement of bye weeks and perhaps long road trips, but now some teams may truly have easier schedules than others. So how does the slate look for TCU in 2023 after a run to the National Championship game in 2022?
TCU Horned Frogs 2023 Football Schedule
Week 1: Sat. Sept. 2 vs. Colorado Buffaloes, Fort Worth, TX
New Buffs head coach Deion Sanders will be bringing his Louis luggage to Fort Worth to open his FBS and Power 5 coaching career against the Frogs. The contest will be between very different rosters than the 2022 showdown in Boulder, as much of TCU’s offensive production heads to the NFL while Colorado brings in elite recruiting and transfer additions.
Week 2: Sat. Sept. 9 vs. Nicholls Colonels, Fort Worth, TX
The Frogs’ FCS tune up comes against a Colonels squad that went 3-8 in the Southland conference in 2022. Nichols lost its two FBS games last season (South Alabama & UL-Monroe) by a combined score of 83-14. Could be a literal Frogs By 90 situation.
Week 3: Sat. Sept. 16 at Houston Cougars, Houston, TX
TCU’s first road trip of the season will see it travel south to introduce one of the conference’s new members to the Big 12. The Cougs fell well short of high expectations in 2022, dropping 5 games before an Independence Bowl victory over Louisiana, but 3 of those losses came in overtime (at UTSA, TTU, and Tulane). UH will be replacing longtime stars Clayton Tune and Tank Dell, but did bring in former Texas Tech QB Donovan Smith. Houston coach Dana Holgorsen and TCU coach Sonny Dykes have a long history together and get a chance to match wits early in the season
Week 4: Sat. Sept. 23 vs. SMU Mustangs, Fort Worth, TX
In what is the final officially scheduled Battle for the Iron Skillet to take place on the west side of the Metroplex (the series has not been renewed beyond 2024’s contest in Dallas), the Mustangs will try to get revenge on its rival and former head coach after the Frogs took the trophy home in 2022. SMU has been extremely active in the transfer portal, ranking in the Top 10 transfer classes per 247sports, including adding high profile recruits like RB LJ Johnson from Texas A&M. With Tanner Mordecai departing for the Wisconsin Badgers, Rhett Lashley is likely to turn the keys over to Preston Stone.
Week 5: Sat. Sept. 30 vs. West Virginia Mountaineers, Fort Worth, TX
The Frogs avoid being forced into consecutive seasons with trips to Morgantown, instead getting the Mountaineers in the friendly confines of Amon G. Carter Stadium. Although WVU had a bad season in 2022, missing a bowl for the 2nd time in 4 season under Neal Brown. the ‘Eers did put a scare in the Frogs last season - with the ball trailing by 3 points with under 5 minutes to play. Brown was able to save his job with wins over Baylor, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State, but very well may not still be the coach for this game depending on how their season starts.
Week 6: Sat. Oct. 7 at Iowa State Cyclones, Ames, IA
Iowa State is coming off its worst season since 2016, Matt Campbell’s first in Ames, finishing last in the Big 12 with just one conference win. The Frogs demolished the Cyclones in 2022 to close the undefeated regular season in emphatic fashion. Despite the accumulation of losses, the 2022 Cyclones defense led the conference in scoring defense and was one of the best in the country. ISU loses star receiver Xavier Hutchinson to the NFL, but will return a 3000-yard QB in Hunter Dekkers. TCU has not defeated a Campbell-led ISU team in Ames, with the Frogs’ last win there being a Trevone Boykin-Josh Doctson showcase in 2015
Week 7: Sat. Oct. 14 vs BYU Cougars, Fort Worth, TX
A rivalry renewed! The Frogs and Cougars shared some memorable battles in the Mountain West, with TCU winning 5 of the 7 games played while conference mates in a previous life. BYU is losing major pieces of its offense with QB Jaren Hall and WR Puka Nacua headed to the NFL, but inbound transfer QB Kedon Slovis brings with him nearly 10,000 career passing yards through his years starting at USC & Pitt. BYU will get an extra long break ahead of this game vs. TCU, as it will have its Bye in Week 6, following a Friday home game vs. Cincinnati in Week 5.
Week 8: Sat. Oct. 21 at Kansas State Wildcats, Manhattan, KS
After playing two absolute classics in 2022, the Big 12 Championship rematch will be one of the most anticipated games of 2023. The Wildcats are losing superstars to the NFL on both sides of the ball, including RB Deuce Vaugh and DL Felix Anudike-Uzomah, while looking to backfill with P5 transfers RB Treshaun Ward (FSU) and DL Jevon Banks (Miss St.). K-State returns TCU-killer Will Howard at QB while bringing in its highest-rated recruit since 2006, QB Avery Johnson.
Week 9: BYE WEEK
In 2022, TCU had its bye in Week 3, playing 11 straight weeks from SMU in September through the Big 12 Championship in December. This is TCU’s latest open week since joining the Big 12, with the previous latest being Week 8 in 2015 ahead of a Thursday game at home against West Virginia. In 2023, this late bye is also ahead of a Thursday game, this time on the road in Lubbock. The bye gives a chance to recover by breaking up the only back-to-back road contests on the slate, ahead of what can be expected to be a brutal 4-game stretch to close the season. The Red Raiders also have their Bye ahead of the Thursday contest with the Horned Frogs in Week 10.
Week 10: Thurs. Nov. 2 at Texas Tech Red Raiders, Lubbock, TX
Texas Tech continues its positive trend under new Joey McGuire, as an 8-5 season that included a Texas Bowl win over Ole Miss rolled into a 2023 recruiting class that sits in the Top 25 of the 247sports Composite rankings. Expectations are increasing in Lubbock and a standalone spotlight game against the Horned Frogs will be circled by every cactus-in-bio fan as a chance to level up again and prove that the Red Raiders should be considered in the top tier of the conference going forward. The Horned Frogs played in Lubbock on a Thursday in 2013 in a weird game most remembered for a rogue fox on the field
Week 11: Sat. Nov. 11 vs. Texas Longhorns, Fort Worth, TX
The Horned Frogs will host the future SEC members for perhaps the final time in Amon G. Carter Stadium. TCU gets the mini bye thanks to the Thursday game the week before while the Longhorns will be coming off a home contest against Kansas State. The ‘Horns will certainly be highly ranked going into the season, perhaps even as the favorite to win the conference, and while an 8-5 season and loss in the Alamo Bowl is an improvement in year 2 under Sarkisian, UT always has its expectations set much higher. With super-recruits Quinn Ewers and Arch Manning at QB and its typical arsenal of highly touted recruits and inbound transfers, Texas has the firepower to be a top team in the country even with RB Bijan Robinson headed to the NFL. But will it perform to that potential and even still be interested in the 2023 season by November?
Week 12: Sat. Nov. 18 vs. Baylor Bears, Fort Worth, TX
These rivals have played some incredible games over the years, often ranking as some of the best games nationally each season; tensions are always high when these two face off, and being this late in the season the stakes could be immense as well. QB Blake Shapen returns and will be competing with Mississippi State transfer Sawyer Robertson for the starting role, as Kyron Drones transferred out and prized recruit Austin Novosad flipped to Oregon. With former Bears OC Kendal Briles now on staff in Fort Worth, the narratives will intrigue in addition to the on-field product. After the Shadrach interception in 2021 and the Bazooka on the Brazos in 2022, what drama will 2023 bring to the Revivalry?
Week 13: Fri. Nov. 24 at Oklahoma Sooners, Norman, OK
The Horned Frogs close the regular season in what could be the Sooners’ final game as a member of the Big 12. OU fell far below standards in 2022 under new head coach Brent Venables, finishing with just 3 conference wins and a loss in the Cheez-It Bowl. While the seat may already be getting a bit warm under Venables, he’ll have plenty of time to turn it around before hosting TCU in the season finale. The poor season did not hurt recruiting, as the Sooners currently hold a Top-5 class in 2023 including 5-Star QB Jackson Arnold who looks to be the heir apparent and perhaps even competing with returning starter Dillon Gabriel for the QB1 spot. The Horned Frogs embarrassed OU in Fort Worth in 2022, so would expect the Sooners to try to make a strong closing statement before waving goodbye to the Big 12.
The full Big 12 conference schedule, complete with new members is now fully available for review. TCU will not travel to Stillwater for the return trip against Oklahoma State after hosting the Cowboys in 2022, while the Kansas Jayhawks will not be headed to Fort Worth in 2023 after hosting its first ever ESPN College GameDay with TCU in town last season. TCU also will not have match ups with new conference members Cincinnati or UCF during the regular season.
While we now have the next seven months to digest the new schedule, what is your first-look prediction for Horned Frogs against the schedule? Which teams have the toughest and easiest paths to the new Conference Championship game? Did the schedule makers make life especially hard on anyone in the first year of this unique conference schedule? Who will win the Big 12 in 2023?