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Sunday, November 14, 2010
TCU stays No. 3, but for how much longer?

By Jeff Caplan


The TCU Horned Frogs can exhale, for now.

In the latest BCS rankings released Sunday night, TCU remained at No. 3, but No. 4 Boise State made up significant ground and could be poised to pass the Frogs before all is said and done.

TCU's lead shrunk to a minuscule .034. The Frogs' 40-35 win Saturday over the San Diego State Aztecs, a game in which TCU trailed 14-0 early and then couldn't make a 37-14 lead stand, combined with Utah's embarrassing loss at Notre Dame, clearly hurt the Frogs' ranking in the cold, calculating world that is the BCS.

Just a week ago, it seemed a foregone conclusion that the Frogs had cemented a finish in at least the top three after their celebrated 47-7 win over the then-No. 5 Utes. But, Saturday's five-point win has seemingly changed the game.

It is now debatable whether the Frogs or the Broncos control their own destiny for either a chance to play in the national title game if either No. 1 Oregon or No. 2 Auburn slip, or to earn the automatic bid into the Rose Bowl that will be awarded to the highest-ranking team from one of the non-automatic qualifier conferences.

TCU is now in a precarious situation. Boise State still has three games remaining (vs. Fresno State, at No. 18 Nevada, vs. Utah State), while the Frogs play just one more time. After a bye this week, TCU finishes after Thanksgiving at woeful New Mexico, a game that will do little to enhance the Frogs' profile.

A Boise win over Nevada could vault it past TCU in the BCS rankings -- if it doesn't happen next week with a Broncos win over Fresno State.

Even if Boise ultimately passes TCU, the Frogs can take solace in knowing that this is a mediocre season within the major conferences across the country. Ten teams make it to the BCS, starting with the six champions of the BCS conferences (Big 12, Big Ten, SEC, Big East, ACC and Pac-10). The next four are at-large selections. The highest-ranked non-AQ team (TCU or Boise) will take one. Typically the SEC, Big 12 and Big Ten grab the remaining spots to fill out the BCS slate.

But, this season, the Big 12 could be a one-team conference, which would open the door for a second non-AQ school. But, that's no guarantee. A major conference dark horse could be No. 6 Stanford (9-1) from the Pac-10.

All the Frogs can do now is wait it out. Boise is in action at home Friday night against Fresno State while the Frogs are idle.

If Boise wins it, and especially handily, then a week from tonight TCU will hold its breath again.