A couple of OU’s opponents in the next few weeks are having a rough time in their new home. West Virginia and TCU were expected to make some noise in their inaugural year in Big 12 football. Both schools entered the conference with some impressive credentials, but so far, they’re learning that their new conference brethren are a lot tougher.
West Virginia captured the last two Big East Conference championships prior to its Big 12 arrival. The Mountaineers also won six of the last nine conference titles. They won 77.5 percent (86-25) of their games since 2003. They finished fifth in the AP poll and sixth in the coaches’ poll in 2005. A year later, they were 10th in both polls, and they finished sixth in both polls in 2007.
WVU was thought to be a strong contender in its first year as a Big 12 member. The team returned nine starters on offense and seven on defense. Quarterback Geno Smith was touted as a Heisman Trophy contender. The Mountaineers were voted 11th in both preseason polls and media representatives voted them second in the Big 12.
West Virginia began the season with a 5-0 record, and the wheels have apparently fallen off in dropping the last four straight. The Mountaineers beat Baylor and Texas in conference play, then lost to Texas Tech, Kansas State, TCU and Oklahoma State. At 2-4, they’re already out of contention for the conference title, let alone second place. They’ve given up an average of 51 points per game in the conference so far.
TCU brought even stronger credentials to the conference. The Horned Frogs came over from the Mountain West Conference where they had won the last three conference crowns and eight since 1994. The Frogs rolled to a 127-35 (.784) record in that time span and were ranked in the top 10 four times—climbing all the way to second in 2010 after a stunning upset over Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl.
Hopes for TCU in 2012 weren't quite as high as they were for WVU. Although they were picked to finish fifth in the conference, the Frogs were still ranked 20th in the preseason AP poll and 17th in the coaches’ poll. They returned six on offense and five on defense from a year ago.
The Frogs began the 2012 season with four straight wins, but quarterback Casey Pachall was booted from the squad prior to the fifth game. TCU has gone 2-4 without him. However, it’s the Frogs’ defense that stinks, allowing 35 points per outing in that stretch.
It's still their first season, but the new kids on the block are learning some hard lessons about life in the new neighborhood.