Dallas Colleges: Cincinnati Bearcats
It seems like the Hall of Fame coach has SMU making history each time it wins a game.
Talk about progress. The Mustangs have received votes in the latest Associated Press poll. The last time that happened in one of the two major polls was during the 2003-04 season. You know what possibly gets them in? A win over No. 7 Cincinnati on Saturday.
The newly renovated Moody Coliseum has all of a sudden become a tough place for opponents. The Mustangs are 12-0 this season at home including 6-0 in Moody. Check with Connecticut and Memphis, which both notarized SMU's legitimacy, on just how tough the Mustangs are at home. They beat the Huskies by nine and the Tigers by 15 in the comfy confines of home.
They'll try and make it three wins over ranked teams when Cincinnati comes to town (7:30 p.m. ET, ESPNU). SMU hasn't beaten three ranked teams in a season since 1984-85, which is also the only time since 1959 in program history that it was also ranked.
Just a warning, if you want offense, you're probably watching the wrong game. SMU entered the week with the nation's third-ranked field goal percentage defense, allowing opponents to shot just 37.2 percent. The Bearcats ranked fourth nationally in scoring defense allowing just 56.7 points per game.
Cincinnati is running away with the American Athletic Conference. The Bearcats have a 16-game winning streak and have a flawless 12-0 record in the league. But their play is far from pristine. They generally out-tough their opponents for wins.
They did it in Louisville despite the Cardinals' rally from a 17-point deficit to take a lead with five minutes left. They did it to SMU too. In the first meeting this season, a 65-57 Cincinnati win, SMU trailed by four with four minutes left.
It's a simple formula really. If the Bearcats are in a close game late, they rely on their defense and experience to pull them through. Not many teams have a trio of seniors like Sean Kilpatrick, Justin Jackson and Titus Rubles. And not many teams can defend as well as Cincinnati.
The Mustangs know that and will show a different starting lineup than their first meeting. Brown is using 6-foot-9 forward Markus Kennedy, a Villanova transfer, to give them a scoring boost. And every point matters against the Bearcats.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Its 19-point lead had been chipped away to nothing, and Cincinnati’s Yancy Gates looked around at his teammates' eyes and liked what he saw.
There wasn’t any panic, only opportunity.
“That’s the way it’s got to be, and that’s the way it’s been all season for us,” Gates said. “We knew they were going to make a run, but we knew we’d be there with an answer. We're used to being in these situations. It's like that every night in the Big East."
Gates did a lot of the answering himself, as No. 6 seed Cincinnati held on to beat 11-seed Texas 65-59 in the second round of the NCAA tournament’s East Regional at Bridgestone Arena.
It was a strange game from the outset, mostly because the basket might as well have been a pin hole for the Longhorns, who were just 4-of-25 from the field in the first half.
“We were up in them pretty good, trying to make everything tough,” said Cincinnati senior guard Dion Dixon, who helped hold Texas’ leading scorer, J'Covan Brown, to 6-of-15 shooting and five turnovers.
“There were some shots that they just missed, but our defense was pretty good. It wasn’t as good as it needed to be when they made their comeback, and that’s something you can’t have. The important thing is getting stops when you’ve got to have them.”
Gates, who led the Bearcats with 15 points and 10 rebounds, made perhaps the biggest shot of the game when he absorbed contact then buried his leaning hook in the lane to put Cincinnati back on top 54-52 with just under three minutes to play.
His basket came after Texas had come all the way back from 19 points down early in the second half. The Longhorns actually had a chance to take the lead, but Brown lost the ball out front.
Gates knew the Bearcats couldn’t give the Longhorns any more openings.
“We got those stops, and we knew we had to turn those stops into some points,” Gates said.
The 6-foot-9 senior added a jumper from just inside the 3-point line to put the Longhorns away once and for all with 1:14 to play. It was almost as if Texas senior center Clint Chapman dared him to take it, and Gates didn’t hesitate.
“It was just confidence, even from teammates telling me to shoot it earlier in the game, where early in the season, I wouldn’t have shot that,” Gates said.
Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin said Gates is a different player from the one who was suspended for six games after throwing punches in the Xavier brawl back in December. It's a big reason the Bearcats (25-10) have won eight of their last 10 games and are pointing toward a deep March run.
“You know, he’s come a long ways. ... He’s matured so much as a player,” Cronin said. “I’ve just got to make sure I get him rest. That’s the biggest issue at times. In the second half, I should have gotten him out earlier, and I didn’t get him early rest.”
Even with its rotten start, Texas (20-14) managed to claw its way back into the game.
But when the Longhorns had chances at the end, they couldn’t capitalize.
"Defensively, I thought we played hard throughout, but we tied the game and actually had two chances to take the lead, and sort of where our season has been, [we] turned it over and [didn’t get] a very good shot," Texas coach Rick Barnes said. "But I’m really proud of the fact that these guys fought.”
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Breaking down No. 6 seed Cincinnati’s 65-59 victory over No. 11 seed Texas at Bridgestone Arena:
Overview: Maybe it was Cincinnati’s new fluorescent uniforms. Then again, the Bearcats’ defense probably had a lot to do with it. Whatever it was, Texas got off to an awful start shooting the basketball. The Longhorns missed 21 of their 25 field goal attempts in the first half and trailed by as many as 19 points early in the second half.
The reality is that Cincinnati should have been up by more than just 14 points at the half with how poorly Texas shot. With just under 10 minutes to play in the first half, the Longhorns had more air balls (three) than points (two).
Still, Texas made a charge in the second half and got hot from 3-point range. The Longhorns tied the game at 52-52 with 3:44 to play on Jonathan Holmes’ rebound bucket. But in those final minutes, Cincinnati made the plays and Texas didn’t.
Turning point: Texas had clawed all the way back from a 19-point deficit and tied the game at 52-52. The Longhorns had a chance to take the lead, too, but junior guard J’Covan Brown lost the ball with just under three minutes to play. Yancy Gates answered for Cincinnati with a tough basket in the lane, and Cashmere Wright drove the middle a minute later after a Sheldon McClellan missed 3-pointer to give the Bearcats a four-point lead and some breathing room.
Key player: Gates was clutch for the Bearcats. He finished with a team-high 15 points and also grabbed 10 rebounds. His shot in the lane broke a 52-52 tie with just under three minutes to play, and he came back and swished a jumper to seal the deal with 1:10 remaining.
Key stat: Texas shot just 16 percent from the field in the first half (4-of-25) and missed 13 straight shots at one point. The Longhorns started the game by missing 14 of their first 15 shots.
Miscellaneous: The Bearcats were wearing new adidas uniforms that had a number of people breaking out the shades in Bridgestone Arena. The trim was a cross between highlighter pink and neon orange, and the players also wore the same color socks. Those players with black sneakers even donned the same blinding shade of shoestrings. … The teams combined to make just 10-of-36 shots from 3-point range. … Cincinnati outscored Texas 40-20 on points in the paint.
What’s next: Cincinnati (25-10) will face the winner of the Florida State-St. Bonaventure game on Sunday in the third round.
No. 6 seed Cincinnati (24-10) vs. No. 11 Texas (20-13), 12:15 p.m. ET
What to watch: Seeing the way Cincinnati scrapped its way into the Big East Conference championship game, it’s hard not to peg the Bearcats as one of those teams in the field playing its best basketball right now. They’ve won seven of their past nine games and lead the country with seven victories over ranked teams. Texas, on the other hand, enters the tourney trying to find some consistency after losing four of its past seven games. There’s no better time to find that mojo than right now. There were a lot of people who wondered if the Longhorns would even make the tournament. Here’s their chance to prove that they belong.
Who to watch: Texas guard J'Covan Brown can score points in bunches, and when he gets it going, he’s a headache to defend. The 6-foot-1 junior has averaged 24.8 points over his past four games and has scored at least 21 in each of those four. He leads the Big 12 in scoring at 20.1 points per game, but hasn’t shot it particularly well from 3-point range coming into this game. In his past five outings, he’s just 6-of-30 from behind the arc. Brown takes 28 percent of his team’s shots.
Why to watch: The Bearcats have been one of the turnaround stories this season in college basketball, but it goes much deeper than just hoops. The ugly scenes from their fight with Xavier on Dec. 10 remain etched in a lot of people’s minds, but Cincinnati recovered from multiple player suspensions -- and showing a new resolve along the way -- and played its way into the Big East tournament final. One of the catalysts has been senior forward Yancy Gates, who was suspended six games for his role in the brawl. When he returned, the Bearcats tweaked their offense to better utilize Gates’ offensive rebounding prowess, and they took off as a team -- winning seven of their nine games against ranked foes.
What they’re saying: “We had a chance to win the Big East tournament, which nobody expected us to do, and hopefully, we’ll do the unexpected and win games here, which nobody probably expects us to do. We’ll just do what we’ve been doing and keep playing against the odds and trying to prove people wrong.” -- Cincinnati forward Yancy Gates
“I’ve told my team all year if we would work as hard on the offensive end as we do on the defensive end, we’d be a much better team. And at times where I don’t think we’ve improved or shown the improvement is with our offense.” -- Texas coach Rick Barnes
Around the rim: This is the sixth time that Texas has been a double-digit seed in the NCAA tournament. Each of the previous five times, the Longhorns won at least one game in the tournament. … The Cincinnati-Texas game will tip off at 11:15 a.m. local time in Nashville, and the Cincinnati players haven’t been crazy about playing early games this season. Nobody was complaining Thursday, though. “It’s the NCAA tournament. If you can’t get up at whatever time the game is, you shouldn’t be here,” Cincinnati guard Cashmere Wright said. … Before Cincinnati boarded the bus for Nashville, coach Mick Cronin took the players into the UC Arena and had them look up at the Bearcats’ national championship banners. “I just think you’ve got to believe that you can win it, and I think my guys need to realize that it’s possible and that it’s happened at the University of Cincinnati. We’ve got to believe that it’s going to happen again,” Cronin said.
No. 3 seed Florida State (24-9) vs. No. 14 St. Bonaventure (20-11), 2:45 p.m. ET
What to watch: Is Florida State as good as it looked last weekend in gunning down Duke and North Carolina in back-to-back days to win the ACC tournament title? Granted, Duke and North Carolina didn’t have a lot to gain in Atlanta, but it’s not the first time the Seminoles have turned Tobacco Road upside down this season. Leonard Hamilton’s club beat North Carolina 90-57 at home Jan. 14, then won at Duke 76-73 a week later. It’s the first time in 16 seasons that somebody has recorded two victories over both Duke and North Carolina in the same season. That’s some pretty heady stuff. The trick now for Florida State is playing that way in the March tournament that counts.
Who to watch: Florida State senior forward Bernard James served six years in the Air Force, including deployments in Iraq, Afghanistan and Qatar. Now 27, the 6-10 James has been as valuable to his basketball team as he was to his country. An All-ACC Defensive Team selection, James ranks third in the ACC with 76 blocked shots, while averaging 10.5 points and 8.2 rebounds per game. He will be honored at the Final Four along with Tennessee women’s coach Pat Summitt and presented with the Most Courageous Award by the United States Basketball Writers Association.
Why to watch: St. Bonaventure is back in the NCAA tournament for the first time since a scandal rocked the university during the 2002-03 season. The Bonnies played an ineligible player that season after a junior-college transfer was admitted to the university with a welding degree and no associate’s degree. The fallout included the firing of coach Jan van Breda Kolff and the resignation of the athletic director and school president. A few months later, Bill Swan, the president of the university’s board of trustees, committed suicide and left a note apologizing for the pain he caused St. Bonaventure as well as his family and friends. The next four seasons saw the Bonnies win a combined 24 games, but coach Mark Schmidt was hired in 2007 and has steadily led the program back to respectability. St. Bonaventure won its first Atlantic 10 tournament championship last Sunday.
What they’re saying: “Andrew (Nicholson) is the player of the year, so he does what players of the year do, and that’s put the team on their back and kind of sail the ship.” -- St. Bonaventure guard Matthew Wright
“We’re definitely expecting a punch right out of the gate. We’re going to throw one ourselves.” -- Florida State forward Bernard James
Around the rim: Florida State is ranked sixth nationally in field goal percentage defense (.381) and seventh in blocked shots (5.9 per game). … In the Seminoles’ past four games, they’re shooting 50 percent (34-of-68) from 3-point range and keeping their opponents to 29.2 percent (26-of-89) from behind the line. … The Bonnies received quite a send-off before leaving their campus in western New York. Schmidt said it seemed like 15,000 of the 20,000 people who live in the Allegheny community lined the roads. “They let the kids out of schools, and we had our bus go through all the little towns, by all the elementary schools, all the businesses, and it was special,” Schmidt said. … Nicholson, a senior forward and the Atlantic 10 Player of the Year, has been on a tear. He averaged 25.3 points and 11.5 rebounds in his final eight conference games.
TCU is reportedly high on the Big East's expansion wish list. The Frogs, who played in their first BCS game last season, would have interest in joining the Big East because the conference currently holds the golden key to BCS inclusion as an automatic qualifier.
The MWC is a non-automatic qualifer, meaning the conference's champion does not automatically receive a bid to the far more lucrative BCS bowl games. Non-AQ conference teams must meet guidelines just to make them eligible for inclusion and do not reap the same financial windfall as AQs.
TCU athletic director Chris Del Conte on Tuesday acknowledged that Big East school presidents were meeting and setting the parameters for expansion, although he had little to say to advance the subject. There appears to be some trepidation at TCU that the Big East can keep its current eight football-playing schools -- Syracuse, Pittsburgh, West Virginia, South Florida, Rutgers, Louisville, Cincinnati and Connecticut-- together, and that subsequent replacement expansion would further water-down the league, eventually causing it to lose its AQ status.
One such school is Rutgers. Some believe the New Jersey school remains a high-priority target of the Big Ten, which will consist of 12 teams beginning in 2011-12. There are also fears that the ACC could again invade the Big East as it did earlier in the decade when Boston College, Virginia Tech and Miami switched allegiances.
TCU coach Gary Patterson is solely focused on Saturday's showdown in Salt Lake City. The Frogs (9-0, 5-0 MWC) moved up to No. 3 in the lastest BCS poll with the Utes at No. 5 (8-0, 5-0 MWC). No. 4 Boise State (7-0) in the WAC gives the non-AQs three teams in the top five of the BCS rankings.
For all three, the dream of playing for a national championship is alive heading into the final month of the regular season.
If TCU beats Utah and then closes out its remaining two games unblemised, and either No. 1 Oregon (8-0) or No. 2 Auburn (9-0) lose one of their remaining games, the Frogs could move into the top two. A top-two ranking in the final BCS poll in early December would land TCU in the national championship game at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz.
"[Two years ago], basically Utah was playing TCU for a BCS spot, not playing for a national championship," Patterson said. "Then last year, both Boise and us end up getting to that place [BCS game], but we didn't get a chance to [play for the national championship]. Now we're talking about, because we all started higher [in the poll], now we're all sitting in a situation where that's [the national championship game] a conversation."
Just this week, McCoy received a clean bill of health from world-renowned orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews, proposed to his longtime girlfriend on the very field in which he became a Longhorn football legend (she said yes), hired an agent, began training in Southern California for his professional career, and Thursday morning accepted one final achievement award, the Manning Award, named in honor of the college football accomplishments of Archie, Peyton and Eli Manning.
During a conference call Thursday, McCoy said that Dr. Andrews termed his injury a "burner," and told him he should regain full strength in his arm in two weeks. McCoy was running on an option play on Texas' opening possession of the BCS National Championship Game at the Alabama 11-yard line when he got tackled and hit on the shoulder. The type of injury he sustained, at first believed to be a pinched nerve, causes temporary loss of feeling in the extremity affected. In McCoy's case it happened to be his golden right arm. He exited the game and, despite efforts to regain feeling in his throwing arm, McCoy couldn't muster enough arm strength to accurately toss a football to his dad in the locker room.
"If the rest of my body was numb and my right arm was healthy, I would have been out there," McCoy said. "There was no way. I did everything I could to get back out there."
After the game, McCoy described his arm as feeling like a "noodle." On Thursday, he said he could raise his arm up over his shoulder by the start of the second half, but that he didn't have the strength or control needed to throw a football. He said the doctors that examined him in the locker room suggested he shower and change into his clothes before heading back to the sideline to watch the remainder of the game.
McCoy scoffed at that suggestion and returned to the sideline in full uniform and pads, just in case his arm somehow came to life.
"I would have done anything in the world to be out there and play on that stage for the last game of my senior year, something I worked for for my whole career," McCoy said. "That is something I will question, why it had to happen, for the rest of my life."
McCoy said he was down in the dumps in the days immediately following the game. But a phone call placed to Texas coach Mack Brown helped to cheer him up and refocus on what's ahead.
"President Obama called Coach Brown and told him to tell me he was sorry for me, hopes my shoulder gets better and he can't wait to watch me play in the NFL," McCoy said. "I think of all people, that actually was pretty neat, it kind of lifted my spirits."
McCoy said with each day of rehab he sees noticeable improvement, and he expects to be completely healthy before the NFL Scouting Combine in February in Indianapolis. McCoy is under the representation of NFL player agent David Dunn of Athletes First, based in Irvine, Calif. McCoy will remain in Orange County, not far from where the Longhorns prepared for the BCS title game, to train.
"My main focus is my shoulder right now, but I certainly expect to go and do things at the Combine," McCoy said. "I haven't thought that far ahead yet, but I would certainly expect to be down there and go through the Combine."
Some NFL draft experts contend that McCoy's draft stock took a blow because he was unable to perform against a top-rated Alabama defense after his subpar outing against Nebraska in the Big 12 championship game. Of course, the week prior, McCoy executed an epic performance at Texas A&M with 479 total yards (304 passing) and five touchdowns.
Projected to be selected anywhere from the second round to fourth round, the 6-foot-2, 210-pound McCoy said he's unsure of where he fits in the draft order. It is a deep and interesting draft class of quarterbacks, including Jimmy Clausen (Notre Dame), Sam Bradford (Oklahoma), Tim Tebow (Florida), Jake Locker (Washington), Tony Pike (Cincinnati) and Jevan Snead (Mississippi), among others.
"That's not something I can think about or even hazard an educated guess about right now," McCoy said. "I'm focusing on the task ahead of me, which involves getting both physically and mentally prepared to play in the NFL and getting mentally and physically prepared to have a long and successful career. That's my focus right now. I can't even really give you an educated guess about that.
"I know the quarterback that I am. I know how hard I'm going to work. I know how hard I'm going to prepare and I know what I've done the last four years and that's very special to me. I absolutely expect my shoulder to be 100 percent, ready to go, and I'll be fine."
McCoy, from tiny Tuscola, succeeded Vince Young and went on to start four seasons for the Longhorns. He left with an NCAA-record 45 victories. He threw for 13,253 career yards and 112 touchdowns while completing a remarkable 70.3 percent of his passes. He also rushed for 1,571 yards and 20 touchdowns.
With little rushing game to speak of the past two seasons, McCoy guided Texas to a 25-2 record while throwing for 7,380 yards. He connected on 61 touchdowns with 20 interceptions.
Who knows what might have happened one week ago at the Rose Bowl had McCoy not been injured.
That lingering thought has made finding closure to his collegiate career difficult. But McCoy, 23, boasting a degree in sport management, a new fiancee and the next phase of his football career in his future, has made peace with his past.
"To be able to be in a national championship, the ups and downs of a season is long and hard and we were there. We made it," McCoy said. "For it to be taken away like that, obviously, for me, it's very, very tough. Hard to handle, hard to deal with.
"But, at the same time, I've moved on. I know the best football of my career hasn't even started yet."
In fact, I'm not so sure that a big win over Boise State would be enough for voters to put undefeated TCU ahead of Florida. It becomes even more difficult for the Frogs if Alabama wins the national championship, doesn't it? If Florida's only loss is to the national champion, will voters put them ahead of TCU despite the Frogs' unblemished record?
Let me clarify: I wouldn't. I still think an undefeated TCU, if they get past Boise, deserves that No. 2 ranking. But Florida is a big-name school that plays in the SEC. I just have a feeling they'll get that No. 2 nod.
I also couldn't help but think that TCU-Florida would be a fantastic game. Tim Tebow and that Florida offense is tough to stop, but I think the TCU defense would be up to the challenge. I think it sure would be fun to watch. Too bad we won't have that opportunity.
Do you think Florida's blowout over Cincinnati means TCU is playing for No. 3 in the standings instead of No. 2?
Sumlin, 10-3 this season and 18-8 overall in two seasons with the Cougars since taking over for Art Briles, declined an interview request by Cincinnati, which lost its coach, Brian Kelly, to Notre Dame. Sumlin was granted permission to talk to Cincy and UH fans fretted that the highly likable Sumlin would jump ship.
The Conference USA Coach of the Year is instead working on a long-term deal to remain at UH. Now Sumlin, 45, and the Coogs will wait on quarterback Case Keenum, who is exploring entering the NFL Draft. If he stays in school, he'll start the season as a 2010 Heisman Trophy candidate.
At TCU's bowl selection watching party, word is spreading the Frogs could play Boise State, a fellow BCS-buster that TCU beat last season in the Poinsettia Bowl.
"Boise is a good team, undefeated team, has proven themselves over the years, but in my opinion I wouldn’t want to play Boise State again," TCU linebacker Daryl Washington said as he signed autographs for fans that lined up 100 yards deep on the turf inside TCU's indoor practice facility prior to the selection show. "We beat them last year, it was a great game, 17-16. I wouldn’t mind it being a rematch, but I would like to play Florida or Cincinnati in that case."
Washington had nothing but compliments for the Boise program, after all they're in the same fight for recognition as a college football powerhouse despite their distinction of playing in a non-BCS conference.
Still, Washington said he harbors hopes of playing Florida in the Sugar Bowl. Boise State would probably say the same.
11 a.m.: Cincinnati at Pittsburgh, ABC
11 a.m.: Houston at East Carolina, ESPN2, ESPN360
2 p.m.: New Mexico State at Boise State, ESPN360
2:30 p.m.: Arizona at Southern Cal, ABC
3 p.m.: Florida vs. Alabama (Georgia Dome), CBS
7 p.m.: Texas vs. Nebraska (Cowboys Stadium), ABC
7 p.m.: Georgia Tech vs. Clemson (Tampa), ESPN, ESPN360
First, a brief look at how all of this works. The bowls that lose their tie-ins get to pick replacements. If the SEC champion is the No. 1 team in the country (very likely), the Sugar Bowl picks first followed by the Fiesta (assuming Texas is the No. 2 team). After that, the Orange selects, followed by the Fiesta and the Sugar. The Rose Bowl gets its traditional Pac-1o-Big Ten matchup.
The Fiesta Bowl will really determine how all of these teams fall because the Sugar Bowl will certainly take the SEC runner-up with the first pick. That leaves the Fiesta to choose from the remaining pool of teams. The decision they have to make is whether to take a No. 4 TCU or go with a more traditional team that is likely to bring a bunch of folks, like Penn State or Iowa, for instance. If they take one of those teams, than the Orange Bowl could take TCU. It's also possible that if the Orange Bowl takes another BCS school, the Fiesta could get TCU with its second pick. One thing does seem clear: It's a longshot for TCU to end up in the Sugar Bowl, assuming the Sugar takes the SEC runner-up with that first pick. It would mean that Orange Bowl passed up on TCU once and the Fiesta Bowl twice.
A few possibilities (Warning: This is me speculating a bit here):
* If Oklahoma State runs the table, which would include a tough Bedlam win in Norman on Nov. 28, that gives the BCS bowls two options for big BCS teams that should travel well. In that case, the Fiesta could take TCU and then take either OSU or Penn State/Iowa, whichever one the Orange Bowl didn't select. Or they could take Penn State/Iowa and then select either TCU or OSU, whichever one the Orange Bowl didn't choose. Remember that one conference can't have more than two teams in BCS bowls.
* Would the Orange Bowl take TCU if Clemson wins the ACC? I can't think they would. That would cause a rematch of an earlier game, won by the Frogs in the rain in Clemson. If OSU does not beat OU, that could mean that Cincinnati or Pittsburgh goes to the Orange instead of TCU if Clemson wins the ACC.
* If Georgia Tech wins the ACC and the Fiesta Bowl decides to go with Penn State or a team like that, the Orange Bowl would probably take TCU and avoid having a Big East team in the game again (they had Cincinnati last year). Many folks have a Georgia Tech-TCU matchup on the assumption that the Fiesta Bowl takes one of those Big Ten at-large teams with its first choice.
* Is there a scenario that sends TCU to the Sugar Bowl? Sure. You never know how these bowls might select. But it's a longshot. To me, that would have to be if Oklahoma State wins out, Pittsburgh beats Cincinnati and Clemson wins the ACC. In that case, I could see the Fiesta taking Penn State (or Iowa), the Orange selecting Pittsburgh and the Fiesta taking Oklahoma State to play one of those Big Ten teams. That leaves the Sugar Bowl to take TCU (and Boise is left out).
* Could TCU and Boise State play each other again? It's possible. And the Fiesta Bowl would be the location. If Oklahoma State loses, there's no good Big 12 at-large option. The Fiesta Bowl could choose TCU with its first pick and, assuming the Orange takes a Big Ten at-large, the Fiesta would have to choose between the Big East champ and Boise. I just don't know if a bowl wants to put two non-AQs together based on how many fans might travel and the fact that Boise State and TCU played each other in a bowl last year.
Have I completely confused you? The bottom line: TCU's chances of going to the Sugar are remote. With two picks so high up, TCU could certainly end up playing someone in the Fiesta Bowl. But if Georgia Tech wins the ACC, it wouldn't surprise me to see TCU play them in the Orange Bowl.
Of course, none of this matters if TCU doesn't win its remaining two games. And I think a BCS bowl will be pleasantly surprised by how many fans from TCU attend. The school has never been to a BCS bowl, which should get fans excited. We should know a lot more after Nov. 28. The bowls select on Dec. 6.
TCU fans: Which BCS bowl would you prefer? What do you think of these scenarios?
ESPN's BCS analyst Brad Edwards said that should Texas stumble, TCU might have an opportunity to move up to No. 2 in the BCS standings if they keep winning in impressive fashion.
"I think a lot of voters have bought into TCU as a really strong team," said Edwards, who will be in Fort Worth with ESPN's radio GameDay show. "I think they can move up depending on what happened with the other teams in front of them. This weekend is a big opportunity.
"More voters will pay attention to TCU this week than they will any of the remaining weeks. I'm not saying they should feel pressure to win big, but if they win this game impressively, even close to what they did against BYU, they'll have the attention of a whole lot of people that might not have given them full consideration before that."
Edwards said if TCU wins out, they should stay ahead of Boise State. But staying ahead of Cincinnati may mean continuing to pile up style points. Cincinnati still has games with West Virginia and No. 12 Pittsburgh, which can impress voters and boost them in the computers. Staying ahead of Cincinnati only matters if Texas loses and TCU is positioned to make an argument to get in the national title game. Texas remains on position to play for the national title if they win out, likely facing the winner of the Alabama-Florida game in the SEC Championship game (assuming both stay undefeated).
"I don't think TCU would move ahead of a one-loss SEC team because if Alabama or Florida lose and then beat the other in the championship game, that's a quality win," Edwards said. "But Texas is a different story. To me, if they lose, TCU could slip in there and play for the championship."
Your thoughts on TCU's title hopes? What margin of victory over Utah would be considered impressive enough to win over more voters?
Texas is No. 3 in the Bowl Championship Series standings, released for the first time Sunday afternoon. The Longhorns, though, are in a good spot. They sit behind No. 1 Florida and No. 2 Alabama. Should those two teams go undefeated, they would meet for the SEC championship for a spot in the national title game.
Boise State leads the non-BCS teams at No. 4, with Cincinnati at No. 5.
TCU is currently at No. 8, but they have a tough game on the road against BYU, who is No. 16 in the BCS. A win there could help the Frogs move up. Utah, which sits at No. 18, is also on TCU's schedule later in the season.
Other regional teams of interest: Oklahoma State is No. 15 and Houston No. 17.