Saturday, December 3, 2011
Charmed? TCU's fate up to voters, computers
By Jeff Caplan
As implausible as it might seem, if No. 18 TCU turns up at No. 16 or higher when the final regular-season BCS standings are revealed Sunday night on ESPN, say hello to the (most likely) Sugar Bowl, Frogs fans.
Despite its two losses, TCU (10-2) put itself in position for an improbable BCS berth with its last-minute victory at Boise State on Nov. 12. Since, a series of events, capped Saturday by No. 24 Southern Miss upsetting of No.6 Houston in the Conference USA championship, followed by TCU's 56-9 shellacking of UNLV, have put the Horned Frogs -- Fiesta Bowl and Rose Bowl participants in each of the last two seasons -- on the verge of creating more school history.
Don't get confused by the rankings. Boise State entered the weekend ranked No. 7 in the BCS standings, and Houston was No. 6 and in control of its BCS destiny. But, the automatic berth for a non-AQ team goes to the conference champion. If a non-AQ conference champion finishes ranked in the top 16 and ahead of the champion from an AQ conference (in this case the Big East's West Virginia is No. 23), the non-AQ champ earns the automatic berth.
The Frogs on Saturday wrapped up their third consecutive Mountain West Conference title. They need to finish ahead of Southern Miss (11-2) and West Virginia (9-3).
So it would seem the lone obstacle remaining is for TCU to jump two spots. It won't be easy.
It's opponent, downtrodden UNLV could be the biggest impediment despite the Frogs' lopsided victory. After a 34-10 win over Colorado State two weeks ago, TCU dropped from No. 19 to No. 20.
Then there's the teams in front of TCU. Most are two-loss teams from major conferences and playing ranked opponents, some in conference title games. The Frogs certainly didn't get any help from No. 17 Baylor (9-3), which whipped No.22 Texas, 48-24. The Bears beat TCU in the season-opener, 50-48. The Frogs' other loss was to SMU. That one could really end up haunting TCU.
No non-AQ team with a loss, let alone two, has ever played in a BCS game.
Here's a look at the games that will have a direct impact on TCU's final regular-season BCS ranking:
No. 1 LSU 42, No. 14 Georgia 10
No. 17 Baylor 48, No. 22 Texas 24
No. 16 Michigan (10-2), idle
No. 15 Wisconsin 42, No. 13 Michigan State 39
No. 12 South Carlolina (10-2), idle,
No. 11 Kansas State 30, Iowa State 23
No. 20 Clemson 38, No. 5 Virginia Tech 10
No. 21 Penn State, (9-3), idle
No. 23 West Virginia 30, South Florida 27 (Thursday)