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Hating Houston from a distance- This week's path to the BCS and rooting guide

So, everyone (not TCU) managed to screw with TCU's BCS cred this weekend- despite clobbering Colorado State your fightin' Frogs dropped a spot in the BCS rankings, despite teams above us tumbling. So does this put the kibosh on TCU's Sugar Bowl dreams? Not so much- there are happily several games of interest that will knock teams down in the rankings and give TCU a chance to leapfrog up to the necessary 16- the only upset we need is of Houston to open up the non-AQ auto bid. Let's analyze, shall we?

The top three teams are LSU, 'Bama and Arkansas, and it stands to reason that none of these programs will fall past TCU even with a loss in their remaining regular season games, so let's put them aside for a moment. Oklahoma State is #4 and has a date with #9 Oklahoma ahead. The pokes losing will likely slide them down to #10 or so, but not in the range where TCU would jump them, so we'll put them aside as well. #5 Virginia Tech is an interesting case because if they were to lose to Virginia the Cavaliers may well pass us from behind (boo-urns), but I think if VTech has losses in its two biggest games of the regular season they'd plummet down past TCU and leave us with no net gain. So ignore VTech for now, and Stanford as well. We actually want Boise State to keep winning to make our win over them big in the minds of the pollsters, so we move on to the obvious- #8 Houston. Houston is the key team in this, because if they win out, they get the bid and TCU is off to Las Vegas, San Diego or Shreveport (steep drop off, huh?). Houston has it's two toughest games of the season in front of them though, @ Tulsa and Southern Miss for the CUSA championship- but one loss will absolutely devastate the Cougs. Houston has beaten two teams with a winning record- UCLA and SMU- and both are candidates to be .500 next week, so a loss will cause the pollsters to drop the Cougars like a stone- this is the one BCS spot we need an upset to make up.

Oklahoma is in play, as a loss to Okie State would give the Sooners three losses and potentially move them into jumping range, but happily it will likely not be necessary that the Sooners fall thanks to the teams below them who are in a much better place to help the frogs. Kansas State has the Farmageddon showdown with Iowa State ahead, and though they'll be favored Iowa State can't be discounted at this point- Okie State can testify to that. Still, this game isn't a must for TCU's BCS hopes either, so we continue down the ladder. Now we get to one of TCU's dual friend/enemy spots- #12 South Carolina will fall below TCU with a loss, but they're playing against #17 Clemson who will be similarly jumped if they lose- TCU is automatically at least #18 by attrition and Houston losing (which, again is necessary so we'll take it for granted from here). Next is the #13 Georgia Bulldogs who will face off with Georgia Tech and then the SEC West champion. It is possible that Georgia somehow wins both of those games, but it would be the equivalent of an upset of K-State over Oklahoma in 2003. It happened, but nobody picked it. TCU is probably #17 at this point, but we'll give Georgia the miracle. #14 Michigan State is another future frenemy here, as they will play a team ranked closely ahead of us in the inaugural Big Ten championship game- whoever loses drops below TCU and the frogs are now sitting at #17 for sure (but probably #16 and safe). Michigan will drop with a loss to Ohio state, but given the home field advantage virtually all of the top Big Ten teams have enjoyed this year, it's safe to say the Wolverines win. No big deal. Our old badger pals are #16, and they're another frenemy here, as a loss to #19 Penn State will drop them below the frogs, or a win will knock Penn State below the good guys- and the winner will take on aforementioned Michigan State in a whoever wins, TCU also wins game. TCU is now safe at #16 even with a herculean effort by Georgia!

But let's be pessimistic and look a little further. Frenemy Clemson is at #17 and has two chances to lose and help the frogs, so ideally they'll drag down Carolina one week then lose to VTech the next. #18 is Baylor (sucks) who have two games ahead against teams that historically eat their lunch- Texas and Tech. You can believe in the bears this year, but I think they find a way to lose one of those games and help TCU out with a bit of breathing room. #19 Penn State has been covered in Wisconsin/Michigan State topics, so they can be passed over. Now we need to look and make sure there will be no passing of TCU from behind- Nebraska is right behind TCU in the BCS standings, but is a surprisingly long way behind in actual BCS points- TCU is about as close to #15 Michigan as #21 Nebraska is to us BCS wise, so their final game against Iowa will not close that gap. Notre Dame could be an issue (they always are it seems) as a win over Stanford would keep Stanford ahead and jump the Irish over us. Be wary of the Irish, but don't sweat it too much- Georgia Tech upsetting Georgia would drop the bulldogs below us but the Jackets would jump us- no real difference in the actual BCS poll. Auburn over Alabama could move the plainsmen over us as well (though I wouldn't bet on it), but frankly I'd be so pleased at not seeing LSU-Bama II in the title game I really wouldn't care too much. Texas will either beat Baylor (sucks) and possibly pass us or lose and drop out of harms way- ideally they could lose to the aggies and beat Baylor (sucks) and help us out, but it shouldn't be necessary. The only remaining team in the top 40 who could conceivably pass TCU by winning out is #27 Virginia (who we'll be seeing in Fort Worth next year). Virginia plays VTech as I mentioned before, but if they were to win they would become another frenemy- beat Clemson and knock them below the Frogs, lose to Clemson and they fall respectively, even if VTech doesn't plummet due to losing to the Cavs.

So, TCU ranking in the top 16 teams is something you can feel somewhat comfortable about, assuming a win over UNLV (at home, on Senior Day- I think we'll be okay) and a loss by Houston, and at the moment that would likely lead to a Sugar Bowl bid against at-large Michigan. Does back to back triumphs over the Big Ten sound nice to anyone else? All we need is a little stumble from the cats down south. That said, feel free to root hard for all of the teams directly above us to lose and make things more comfortable.