Coming off a first-ever BCS appearance and returning 19 starters, the TCU Horned Frogs begin the 2010 season ranked No. 6 in the Associated Press Top 25 poll released Saturday morning. It is the highest preseason ranking ever for the Frogs, who came in at No. 7 in the coaches' preseason poll.
The Boise State Broncos, the other main BCS-buster with TCU, opens at No. 3, its best preseason ranking coming after last year's undefeated season that included a 17-10 win over the Frogs in the Fiesta Bowl.
For TCU and Boise, the ranking puts those programs in prime position to make a run not only at another BCS game, but at a possible national championship game appearance if either team can run the table. Last season, TCU started at No. 17 and climbed to No. 4 after going undefeated in the regular season. Many observers believed TCU came within one second of playing Alabama in the Rose Bowl for the national championship before Texas kicked a last-second field goal to beat Nebraska (ranked No. 8 in this season's preseason poll) in the Big 12 title game to secure its place opposite Alabama. A Nebraska victory might have pushed the Frogs over the top. Boise started last season at No. 14 and rose to No. 6 prior to the Fiesta Bowl.
A team from a non-automatic qualifier conference such as the Mountain West or WAC has never played for a BCS national title. With two such teams ranked in the top six to start the season, could this be the year?
"I don't know. We'll see in December. We'll see if somebody can be undefeated," TCU coach Gary Patterson said. "If they are, then they should get an opportunity if they started high enough, like Boise or ourselves."
TCU will begin its quest in two weeks, on Sept. 4 at Cowboys Stadium against the Oregon State Beavers, who come in at No. 24. Boise State opens the season on Sept. 6 in Washington D.C. against No. 10 Virginia Tech.
Let the games begin.