As expected TCU dropped in the latest playoff rankings, and the nightmare scenarios live on. They live on not just for TCU, but for the Big 12 as well. Despite Baylor and TCU being two of the best teams in the country, the lack of a Title game, and the lack of not being named Texas or Oklahoma, hurts the i-35 enemies. The beauty in all of this is that's there's still plenty of football to played.
So what's the best playout for TCU? What's the worst? The FoW staff discusses.
TCU dropped a spot to 5th, and are, once again, on the outside looking in. There's still a few weeks to be played. Obviously an Ole Miss win would be big. What's TCU's best playout?
Melissa: My fever dream scenario is TCU winning out, including a thrashing on the road against a much improved UT team (we haven't had an impressive road win yet, so now would be a good time), Baylor losing at the hands of the Wildcats, and Briles taking off for the Waco of Florida, Gainesville, immediately after. That probably won't happen. So at this point, I'm rooting for Bama to win out, MSU to lose at Ole Miss, FSU to win out, and both Baylor and Oregon to drop a game. tOSU is lurking, and though they have by far the worst loss of the three fringe playoff teams, they will have a championship game that may vault them in front of both Big 12 teams, and I think they would get in over a 2 loss Pac 12 champion (especially if it's from the south division). Let Bama and FSU lock up the top two spots, and chaos reign below. That's the best hope to keep the final four to only one SEC team, and make sure TCU stays in the hunt.
Andrew: Best case scenario? Bama loses to Auburn and then again in the sec championship game, Mississippi State loses to the land sharks, Fsu loses to Florida and/or Georgia Tech in the ACC championship game and Oregon loses the PAC 12 championship game, thus rendering TCU as the #1 team. They beat whoever sneaks into the four spot and then win over Baylor in Dallas for the national title
Jamie: The best play for TCU is still for Kansas State to beat Baylor. However, winning out is obviously necessary. If TCU holds the title of Big 12 Champion when it is all said and done, they'll have a conference championship and a better non-conference schedule than Mississippi State, and they'll have a comparable game to Ohio State in which TCU passes the "eye test" much more than the Buckeyes. Also, TCU's loss is better than OSU's.
Baylor still has room for error. But assuming they win out, does TCU stand a chance in that scenario?
Yes, but it'll take a close game from Kansas State, and two more-than-just-convincing beatdowns of Texas and Iowa State. It also wouldn't hurt of Florida beat FSU, Auburn beat Alabama, or Ole Miss beat Mississippi State. Oregon losing would help too, but that's least likely IMO.
Marsh: Simply put, best case for TCU is for Baylor to lose. This is still college football. This is still a place where Kansas State marches into Waco, undefeated, with a Heisman candidate, and blows it. Oklahoma State and Tech aren’t very good teams this year, but those next three games, especially in a row, aren’t gimmes.
For the Big 12, the best scenario is everything we’ve said. The SEC team isn’t putting two teams in. Three of Mississippi State’s biggest wins--Auburn, Texas A&M, and LSU--don’t look that impressive anymore. Yes, losses are more defining than wins, and yes, their loss to Bama was a good loss. However, without an SEC Championship, and their wins looking less admirable, the Bulldogs will get jumped. Whether it’s by Ohio State, Baylor, or TCU.
The Big 12 still has a great opportunity to put two very, very good, 1-loss teams in.
Baylor still has room for era. But assuming they win out, does TCU stand a playoff chance in that scenario?
Melissa: TCU staying two spots ahead of BU, with tOSU in between, keeps that slim hope alive. But I fear that even TCU's victory over Baylor rival Bye Week, will see that margin get even slimmer. Assuming the Frogs stay at 5 after this coming weekend, and tOSU and the Bears both win Saturday, then I think we will control our own destiny. Beat Texas and Iowa State, and I don't think the committee jumps Baylor two spots at the end - they just haven't shown that the head to head matters to them all that much. But the first time that gap becomes a single game, which is highly likely considering BU has three games remaining to our two, I expect them to jump us the following week. Quite frankly, I think they are looking for any reason to jump us both with Ohio State, and that's what I expect at the end to happen even if Baylor and the Frogs handle their business in the coming weeks.
Jamie: Yes, but it'll take a close game from Kansas State, and two more-than-just-convincing beatdowns of Texas and Iowa State. It also wouldn't hurt of Florida beat FSU, Auburn beat Alabama, or Ole Miss beat Mississippi State. Oregon losing would help too, but that's least likely IMO.
Marsh: I’m a man who loves sci-fiction--one of my biggest flaws is talking about things that very few other care about. Like which cut of Blade Runner is best. I also love numbers and statistics--I’ve read Michael Lewis’ Moneyball more than any book I’ve read this decade. That’s my really cool segway of saying I don’t have a computer or statistics phobia. And while it still has some kinks, I think having humans vote on the playoff is the best way to go.
The Oklahoma that TCU played wasn’t the same Oklahoma Baylor played. Nor will they see the same Texas team. Both work in TCU’s favor. The committee knows this. If TCU finishes strong, and Baylor looks bad, even if they don’t lose, in one of their remaining games, I think TCU gets in. And then Waco marches to Fort Worth with torches.
Can K-State beat Baylor?
Melissa: The short answer is yes. But not unlike TCU, Baylor is a completely different team at home, and they certainly have the weapons to defeat the Cats. I will be interested to see if Baylor can run the ball the way the Frogs did - that was the difference in the game in FW. If they try and run it down their throats, they win going away. If they go with a pass heavy attack, I think the Cats have a chance. You never count out the Wizard... but it will be a tall task in Waco for K State for sure.
Jamie: Sure. We saw Oregon State be Arizona State, TCU struggle with Kansas, and Florida State struggle with Miami. Anything is possible on any given Saturday, that's why the game is played. Football Study Hall is giving KSU a 19% chance of winning that game. For comparison, Minnesota had a 15% chance of beating Ohio State, according to the same metric.
Marsh: Jamie, you’re right. Although I don’t think Arizona State presented anywhere close to as strong of a case as TCU or Baylor, the point is that this is college football, you never know what can happen. Like I said above, Baylor ruined Kansas State’s title hopes two years ago, just based on that it wouldn’t surprise me if the Wildcats played spoiler this time. I’m worried that they’ll beat them as handily as TCU did, just with pure speed. Also, the Big 12 has only put one 1-loss team in the Title game, Oklahoma in 2008. Again--anything can happen.
PS, I just think I found a better Big 12 slogan: #AnythingCanHappen.
Boykin has to help a little too. If he goes to New York, the playoff bill looks better having another Heisman candidate and at the point would have 4 of the likely 5 finalists--Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota, Amari Cooper, and Boykin.
Melissa: Boykin has a chance to sharpie his name on the ballot on Thanksgiving. If he plays the way he did against Oklahoma, OSU, and K State, and the Frogs win? He will get his invite for sure. If he struggles on the road and the Frogs either lose or pull out another squeaker, I think he could easily get passed over. I don't think he finishes higher than fourth, but being there would be a huge boost for him and TCU football as a whole, of course.
Jamie: I'll always be okay with a Horned Frog getting invited to New York. He's currently got the 4th best odds to win the Heisman, at 25-1, ahead of Dak Prescott and Jameis Winston.
Marsh: I’m still not sure how much this helps. But it definitely helps. It helps more than Klein going to New York in 2012. Kansas State and Oklahoma were Co-Champions, however the Wildcats represented the Big 12 in the Fiesta Bowl. The Sooners were a 3-loss team who finished strong, and Kansas State finished pretty average. 2014 is much different. Baylor and TCU are two nearly perfect teams with 1-loss, and both are still full of steam. Any point in TCU’s favor helps, and having each playoff team have a Heisman representative would look pretty damn good. You could say the same for Baylor too, but I think Petty is too far behind at this point.
Worst case is probably the Cotton Bowl. We should be elated. Are TCU fans too greedy?
Melissa: I disagree - worst case is the Fiesta Bowl, which would be a let down in my opinion. It's easy to forget how we felt back in August, when most of us expected 8 wins, with a chance at 9 and a prayer of 10. Now we are on the cusp of the playoffs and making history. I don't think it's greed - I think it's the understanding that when you are this close, not closing the deal would be a heartbreaker. Though we return the bulk of the team, there's no guarantee we will be back in this position next year, so it is understandable that we as fans want to make the most of this opportunity. Additionally, if it was anyone but Baylor nipping at our heels though, I think we would all probably be happy to just be in the conversation, but the thought of losing that spot on the final lap to our most hated rival is a lot to handle. If Ohio State gets to four and we end up at the Fiesta Bowl, I will probably accept it. If that scenario stays true and we get to play at the Cotton Bowl? I would be pumped. But if it's Baylor in and us at the Cotton Bowl, the thought of listening to those self righteous, ignorant, trolls for a whole year? Nope. Nope. Nope. (though the game itself would probably be awesome)
Jamie: Winning makes expectations rise, and we're seeing that with TCU. Greedy, though? I don't think so. This is what fans were expecting from the time we joined the Big 12. Expecting TCU to compete for championships isn't greedy, it's just a high expectation.
Marsh: I agree Melissa, I wrote this question before thinking about the Fiesta Bowl. I still have salty feelings towards that Bowl, that stadium, and that city. Plus, getting off work would be harder. And I don’t know if we’re greedy, maybe it’s just short memories. Seasons play with your emotions--I’ve lost some of my hair--but if you told any fan that your worst outcome was still getting to play in a New Year’s Six, I think we all would’ve been pretty stoked. But again, it’s the emotion of the season. It’s losing to Baylor in the worst way imaginable. It’s the idea that your biggest rival could steal your thunder at the last second. So I wouldn’t call it greedy, or having too high of expectations. I think it’s just that per-capita, TCU has some of the most invested fans.
That’s it. We’re just really invested.