Schedule analysis: TCU Horned Frogs

With the 2015 season arriving in the not-too-distant future, we're breaking down the schedules for every Big 12 team.

We continue this series with the TCU Horned Frogs:

Nonconference opponents (with 2014 record)

Sept. 3: at Minnesota (8-5)

Sept. 12: Stephen F. Austin (8-5 in FCS)

Sept. 19: SMU (1-11)

Big 12 home games

Oct. 3: Texas

Oct. 29: West Virginia

Nov. 14: Kansas

Nov. 27: Baylor

Big 12 road games

Sept. 26: at Texas Tech

Oct. 10: at Kansas State

Oct. 17: at Iowa State

Nov. 7: at Oklahoma State

Nov. 21: at Oklahoma

Gut-check time: 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.

Trap game: Brandon wisely predicted Kansas could give TCU some unexpected trouble last year during a tricky stretch in November. The red flags aren't so easy to spot on the Frogs' 2015 schedule. They'll have to be careful on their trip to Manhattan. Entering that Oct. 10 matchup, Kansas State could be coming off a loss at Oklahoma State but still shouldn't be underestimated. Texas ought to give TCU a good battle the week before, too.

Snoozer: Assuming Gary Patterson's squad gets past their Thursday night opener at Minnesota, the rest of September should be smooth sailing. An SMU program at the start of its rebuild and FCS Stephen F. Austin won't be able to keep up. Texas Tech will try to play spoiler, but will also be coming off a road game at Arkansas that will seriously test its defense's confidence.

Final analysis: Patterson did a masterful job of guiding TCU through a wild run in 2014. The challenge as defending co-champion is a bit different. It's entirely possibly the Horned Frogs won't face a legitimate Big 12 title contender until Nov. 7. They end with a five-game stretch that features four big games and no weeks off. Momentum and a relatively clean bill of health are necessities if TCU hopes to emerge from November with another trophy and a playoff bid.