Sunday, November 27, 2011
Charmed? Obstacles stacked against TCU
By Jeff Caplan
A week ago, the TCU Horned Frogs won by 24 points and fell in the BCS rankings one spot to No. 20. This week they were idle and moved up two spots to No. 18 heading into the final week of the regular season. Gotta love the BCS.
So, can TCU actually sneak into a BCS game?
Technically, yes. The odds, though, are heavily stacked against them.
First, a reminder how a non-AQ team earns an automatic BCS berth: By winning its league championship (and being the champ is the key, not the final ranking, see Boise State); finishing in the top 16 of the BCS standings; and finishing higher than a champion of an AQ league. West Virginia is the highest-ranked Big East team at No. 23, and it isn't assured of winning the league.
By the time the Frogs (9-2) kick off their finale in Forth Worth against UNLV (2-9) at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, they'll have a pretty good idea if there's any hope. No. 6 Houston (12-0) controls its destiny: Beat No. 24 Southern Miss (10-2) in the Conference USA title game (11 a.m. Saturday, ABC), and an automatic BCS berth belongs to Case Keenum and the Coogs.
Lose, and suddenly the door flings open for the Frogs.
Here's the three-step process that must happen for TCU to seal a third consecutive BCS berth:
1. Houston must lose to Southern Miss -- which seemingly killed its BCS dreams with an awful loss to UAB two weeks ago.
2. TCU must beat UNLV (2-9) to win the Mountain West Conference title outright and do so in an overpowering way to make gains with voters (playing UNLV could actually hurt TCU in the computers, just see its 34-10 win over Colorado State that dropped it from No. 19 to 20).
3. TCU must move up two spots to No. 16 in the BCS rankings released next Sunday night.
If the first two dominoes fall, how plausible is a move into the top 16?
Well, No. 17 Baylor, with banged-up quarterback Robert Griffin III, plays host to No. 22 Texas. No. 16 Michigan's regular season is over. No. 15 Wisconsin faces No. 13 Michigan State in the Big Ten title game. No. 14 Georgia gets No. 1 LSU in the SEC championship game. Would loses to ranked teams, two of which will be in conference title games bump those teams down far enough to help TCU?