Best & worst case scenarios for TCU, Texas Tech, West Virginia

TCU Horned Frogs head coach Gary Patterson

Jason Getz/Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

It’s June. Every fan base in college football is in the midst of the game’s greatest annual tradition: Convincing itself that this is the year. 

Maybe they’re right. Maybe they’re horribly, horribly wrong. 

Last year, a TCU team coming off a 4-8 season won its first Big 12 title and captured a New Year’s Six Bowl blowout win over an SEC West opponent while its oft-criticized, inconsistent quarterback morphed into a Heisman contender. That’s a Best Case Scenario with a capital "B."

Back in 2009, and Oklahoma team returning a Heisman quarterback and the best offense in college football history suffered a rash of injuries and fell from No. 3 to a 7-5 regular season and an appearance in the Sun Bowl. 

Worst-case scenarios don’t get much uglier than that. This week, we looked at the best and worst cases for every team in the Big 12. Today, we wrap the series with our final installment. 

BEST-CASE SCENARIO

TCU: The nation tuned in to TCU’s trip to Minnesota expecting to be impressed and the Frogs deliver. Trevone Boykin only cements himself as the Heisman frontrunner with three passing touchdowns and two rushing scores. The 41-10 win lets TCU coast into a Sept. 26 trip to Lubbock. 

Aaron Green enjoys a breakout game there against Tech’s struggling front seven, running for 157 yards and two touchdowns to carry TCU a 34-17 win. 

Texas’ defense holds the Frogs to just 10 first-half points a week later, but Gary Patterson’s defense adds a pair of defensive scores in the second half to reach 5-0 without a single win by single digits. 

That streak ends in Manhattan a week later. The Frogs look sluggish on the road but survive on a 45-yard Jaden Oberkrom go-ahead field goal in the final minute. 

The Frogs avoid road drama in Ames the next week heading into the bye, and welcome a home Thursday exhibition against West Virginia. Both teams have 12 days to prepare, but never bet against Gary Patterson on a long week. The Frogs blitz WVU with two early touchdowns and keep the Mountaineers at arm’s length for the final three quarters. 

Stillwater’s emerged as one of the toughest places to play in the Big 12, and TCU goes head to head with an undefeated Oklahoma State team. Davion Pierson wreaks havoc on OSU’s offensive line, making four tackles for loss and hurrying Mason Rudolph into two second-half interceptions for a 31-24 win. 

TCU avoids any scares at home against KU and slows Oklahoma’s running game to just 60 yards rushing to reach the season finale.

Both Baylor and TCU reached Thanksgiving weekend undefeated and on the first play, the Bears find 410-pound tight end LaQuan McGowan up the seam. Derrick Kindred is not amused and unloads a huge hit that jars the football loose. Ranthony Texada scoops it up and returns it 45 yards to put TCU up 7-0. 

Baylor scores the game’s next 21 points and the Frogs’ offense can’t find a rhythm. Spirits are low when the Bears carry a three-touchdown lead into the fourth quarter. 

The Frogs rally and Baylor appears to be settling for overtime, but poor clock management gives TCU the ball back near midfield with 30 seconds left. Boykin hits Josh Doctson on a screen pass, and after breaking three tackles, he gets pushed out of bounds at the 30. Jaden Oberkrom trots onto the field and drills a game-winning field goal to give the Frogs a 51-48 win. 

A little more than a week later, the Bears are snubbed from the playoff while the Frogs enjoy the No. 1 seed. 

Gary Patterson honed his ability to prepare for big games over long layoffs at TCU when it was in the Mountain West and it pays off against Auburn. TCU’s 4-2-5 eats up the Tigers’ zone-read scheme and Boykin doesn’t even need to play a down in the fourth quarter. 

The title game pits TCU with last year’s national title winner who squeezed the Frogs out of the playoff: Ohio State. 

Patterson loads up to stop Ezekiel Elliott and win the battle on the line of scrimmage and force Cardale Jones to beat the Frogs with his arm. He doesn’t and TCU hoists its first national title since 1938. 

After, TCU opens a pizza place named "Gary’s" across from campus burger joint, "Dutch’s." 

TEXAS TECH: The evidence was there in nonconference play last season, when the Red Raiders struggled against UTEP and UCA. That wasn’t the case this year. The Red Raiders blew through Sam Houston State and UTEP and set their sights on Arkansas. 

The Red Raiders score on their opening drive and force a fumble on Arkansas’ first attempt. The offense is more effective and doesn’t allow the Hogs to settle for pounding it between the tackles on every down. Breiden Fehoko worked his way into the rotation alongside Rika Levi, and the Red Raiders’ beef up front pays off in the 27-20 win at Arkansas. Tech doesn’t give up 82 points to TCU a week later, but it doesn’t quite tap into that Lubbock mystique enough to grab a win. 

Baylor’s defensive line is dead set on preventing Patrick Mahomes from beating them, but conveniently forgets about DeAndre Washington. The Bears defense is set on containing Mahomes’ feet, but Washington gets loose and can’t be contained on zone reads. He finishes with 175 yards and two scores to give Kliff Kingsbury his biggest win at Texas Tech, knocking off the undefeated Bears. 

The Red Raiders roll through Iowa State and Kansas to reach 6-1 at Oklahoma and take on former quarterback Baker Mayfield. There won’t be any sign-stealing controversies this time: Mayfield loses three of his four fumbles and throws a game-sealing interception in the final minute. 

The Red Raiders don’t look as sharp the next week, failing to force a turnover and committing 15 penalties in a home loss to Oklahoma State. 

Tech drops another on the road to West Virginia and look sluggish. Kingsbury’s squad looks like a team without a bye week until Week 12. Still, Kingsbury rallies his team for an emotional home win against Kansas State on Senior Day to reach 8-3 and ruin Texas’ Thanksgiving after the bye to finish 9-3. 

Washington logs a second 1,000-yard rushing season and the Red Raiders have two 1,000-yard receivers: Jakeem Grant and Reggie Davis. 

WEST VIRGINIA: Skyler Howard seized control of the starting QB job during the spring and against Georgia Southern and Turner Gill’s Liberty team, he shows why. 

WVU is strong at running back, but Shelton Gibson and Jordan Thompson show potential of becoming a 1-2 punch at receiver to help Howard out. WVU didn’t need a last-second field goal to knock of Maryland this year, but a late defensive stop preserves a seven-point win. 

They can’t get that stop a week later when Samaje Perine breaks a Karl Joseph tackle near the sideline for a go-ahead touchdown with 35 seconds left. On homecoming a week later, the Mountaineers hand Oklahoma State another loss in Morgantown, thanks to 130 yards rushing from Rushel Shell. WVU’s trip to an angry Baylor campus bent on revenge doesn’t go quite as well. 

Howard throws for 375 yards but the Mountaineers go home with their second loss of the season. TCU hands them a third a week later thanks to a big day from Trevone Boykin. 

Looking at the rest of the schedule is a good thing, though: Three home games and two trips to Kansas. The Mountaineers sweep the final five games to finish the season hot and 9-3. A top four Big 12 finish gives WVU its first spot in the postseason top 25 since leaving the Big East. 

WORST-CASE SCENARIO

TCU: Have you ever seen a balloon take 60 minutes to pop? Minnesota treated TCU to just that in a Thursdsay night opener. Last year, the Golden Gophers buoyed the Frogs’ playoff resume. This year, Jerry Kill’s team lit it on fire for the nation to see before the season even hit full swing. 

The Frogs had a long way to go to convince anyone they were worthy of national title consideration and a six-point win at Texas Tech didn’t do it. A loss to Texas in Week 5 didn’t either.

Instead, it forced Frog fans to confront an uncomfortable truth: Was last year’s run the exception to the rule instead of the bar for future expectations?

Another loss at K-State a week later gave them evidence for the latter. They survived a trip to Iowa State and beat West Virginia at home handily, but the wins still feel a little hollow when Heisman trophies and national titles were realistic goals months earlier. It shows when Oklahoma State’s still-young offensive line bullies them in Stillwater for a 13-point win. 

Nobody’s impressed with a 10-point win over Kansas and especially not Oklahoma, who gets revenge for 2014 before undefeated Baylor delivers the death blow on TCU’s season. A 47-13 Bears win keeps them on track for the playoff, which they eventually win. At least both teams will be spending bowl weeks in the metroplex: Baylor is preparing for another go-around in the Cotton Bowl as the nation’s No. 1 team while TCU sits and watches after losing the Heart of Dallas Bowl, falling to 6-7 and losing four of its final five games.  

TEXAS TECH: Another year, another lackluster set of performances against UTEP and Sam Houston State. The Red Raiders rally for a pair of fourth-quarter comebacks and Kliff Kingsbury says the experience could be valuable later: His team has learned how to win in the fourth quarter. 

A week later, Arkansas laughs as it runs for 415 yards and throws six passes in a 34-13 win. Patrick Mahomes starts pressing and throws two early interceptions that throws the offense out of its gameplan.

TCU and Baylor…actually, you know what? I’m going to spare you the details of both games. It’s probably better for both of us. 

Iowa State arrived in Lubbock a week later and neither team managed to stop the other’s run game. Davis Webb, who took over for Mahomes after the TCU loss, is the difference. 

Penalties and turnovers continue to be an issue, but never more so than Tech’s trip to Kansas. The Jayhawks log their first Big 12 win a head-scratchingly dominant performance running the ball. Pete Robertson goes his fifth consecutive game without a sack. 

Tech goes 0-for-Oklahoma the next two weeks without coming within two scores of either. The trajectory of the program leaves plenty wondering if Kingsbury is in over his head. Those worries intensify when new DC David Gibbs quits a week later after the two get in an animated disagreement in a road loss to West Virginia. 

Kansas State and Texas? A lack of effort and poor run defense mean two more embarrassing losses and almost no confidence in Kingsbury moving into 2016. That’s what happens when you go 3-9 and finish behind Iowa State in the Big 12 standings. 

WEST VIRGINIA: Georgia Southern’s run game can be tricky to stop, and West Virginia finds this out the hard way. Rushel Shell’s 65 fourth-quarter rushing yards carry WVU to a come-from-behind win and he adds 75 more in a 10-point win over Liberty in Week 2. 

Two weeks later, the foreshadowing comes to fruition: Maryland frustrates Skyler Howard with 11 knockdowns, forcing three turnovers in the loss. Oklahoma linebacker Eric Striker spends most of the next week in WVU’s backfield in a second loss. 

The schedule doesn’t get any easier and giving William Crest a shot at QB doesn’t keep WVU’s losing streak from stretching to six games. The Mountaineers manage an upset of Texas after a loss to Texas Tech, but erase the good vibes by another loss at Kansas, their second in two trips to Lawrence. That gives KU its first league win of the season. 

WVU gets its first 100-yard receiver of the season against Iowa State, but K-State’s running game is too much in the last week of the season.