TCU has bested the best of the Mountain West and is now left to face only the dregs of the conference before riding out of the conference into the sunset of a bowl game. But just what bowl game will have the frogs? The Las Vegas Bowl is supposedly the destination for the champion of the conference, but nothing is set in stone- TCU has won the Mountain West three times, but has never made the trip to Vegas. In 2005 the Mountain West went out of its way to try and secure a better opponent for the Frogs than the Vegas bowl was going to provide, and we clashed with our future conference mates from Iowa State in Houston instead. In 2009 and 2010 TCU went off to the BCS instead. This year the Mountain West isn't likely going to be interested in doing us any favors in the bowl pecking order, and no team from a non-AQ league has ever made the BCS with a loss (much less two) so it's Vegas all the way for the Frogs, isn't it? Not quite that simple. Join me after the jump and we'll have a
Not quite. First of all, the Vegas bowl may decide it wants Boise instead (it gets first choice, not the champion remember), which would mean the Frogs would fall to the number two choice, the Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego. Unless the Poinsettia bowl would like the ticket sales that would be generated from having San Diego State play at their home stadium against a team from the Pac-12. Which would mean that the 10-2 (for the sake of this argument) Mountain West Champion horned frogs could very well be facing the dregs of the ACC (The seventh selection) or much worse, the Sun Belt if the ACC has more slots than teams. How does a TCU-Arkansas State showdown in Shreveport grab you? Not so good? Well don't fret just yet my froggy friends, there is hope in the air, and it comes at the cost of two old nemeses of ours- the BCS door is open, but Houston must fall, and preferably not to Southern Miss.
Confused? The BCS is required to take the highest ranked team from a non-AQ conference if their champion is in the top 14 (or top 16 and ranked above a champion from any BCS conference). Thanks to our friends and future conference mates from West Virginia (For both gacking up their season as well as knocking Cincy out of the polls) there are no Big East teams ranked, so finishing ranked above a Big East champion is almost a certainty if the Frogs handle their business at home. The Frogs are ranked 19th in the current BCS standings, with three of the four teams directly ahead of them guaranteed a loss- #16 Nebraska plays #18 Michigan so one must lose, #17 Wisconsin will either beat Penn State and win the division to set up a match with #15 Michigan State- which one must lose, or will lose to Penn State and fall below the Frogs anyway.
So TCU being at least 17 is almost a given as long as the Frogs beat two of the Mountain West's weaklings. The problem is Houston will snatch up that non-AQ auto-bid as long as they remain undefeated, so they must lose to either Tulsa, SMU or Southern Mississippi for the Frogs to jump them and take their spot. Southern Miss is an excellent team with a strong defense, so they're the most likely candidate to knock off the Cougars, but it's quite dangerous for TCU if they are the only ones to do so. The Frogs are at #19, well within striking range of the 16th place but have diddly on their plate in terms of a SoS boost. The Southern Miss Golden Eagles (who TCU fans with long memories will remember featuring prominently in one of the most frustrating moments of the Patterson era- Knocking off the then-undefeated Frogs in 2003 and sending us to the Fort Worth Bowl rather than us being the first BCS buster) are sitting right behind the frogs at #20 in the BCS rankings and though they have two tomato cans the next two weeks to lock up their part of the conference (much like TCU) Southern Miss would then have the CUSA championship game against Houston (or Tulsa) to boost their street cred and will likely boost them over the frogs in the BCS rankings. So for the BCS scenario to come good, SMU or Tulsa needs to beat Houston and Houston/Tulsa then needs to knock off the Golden Eagles in the CUSA title game. All eminent possibilities, for what it's worth.
And just what is TCU's reward in this situation? At present we'll assume that the teams finish in the same order that they do now BCS wise- LSU and Okie State are off to the title game, so the Sugar and Fiesta Bowls have the first pick of replacement teams, likely snatching up Alabama and Oklahoma respectively to take the place of their more successful conference mates. The ACC Champion (Clemson) is off to the Orange, the Big Ten (Michigan State) and Pac 12 (Oregon) meet in the Bowl that TCU has won 100% of their appearances- the Rose Bowl. The order of selection is then Fiesta, Sugar and Orange this year, so look for the Fiesta Bowl to pass over the non-AQ champ and snatch up a school that will fill seats in a matchup with Oklahoma: Their dream scenario is for Nebraska to beat Michigan and select the Huskers to renew their rivalry with the Sooners, but any two loss Big Ten fanbase is appealing so look for them to pick up a Big Ten team or Stanford. The Sugar then has second choice and is left with the more unappetizing options of an almost unranked Big East champion or a non-AQ champ that isn't likely to fill all the seats themselves, but would rather take a more local team to face off with 'Bama over West Virginia or Cincinnati- this is where TCU/Houston/Southern Miss would find themselves. The Orange Bowl throws its head into its hands and weeps at having to take another scintillating Big East-ACC showdown, but can console themselves somewhat with the fact that Clemson travels exceptionally well and there are a large number of Tiger supporters who would fly in to see the first ACC champion Tigers in twenty years.
So, TCU-Alabama. Sounds a good bit better than TCU-Arkansas State, don't you think?