Election results are in...of the second College Football Playoff poll. That's what really matters, right? The blogosphere jury is still out on the Horned Frogs. Unanimously a Top-10 team, there’s no argument as to whether TCU’s a good team, it’s whether they’re a team worthy of a playoff bid. However, for the most part, they control their own destiny.
The Horned Frogs will get to state their case this weekend against Kansas State. November 8th, the unofficial start to the CFP, is college football's judgement day with marque matchups; Michigan State-Ohio State, LSU-Alabama, Oklahoma-Baylor, Arizona State-Notre Dame, and TCU-Kansas State.
It's safe to say the CFP poll will look a lot different next week. Barring good fortune, what does the future hold for the Horned Frogs? Should they win out, good things...
Irish running out of luck
After a sloppy win against Navy, and everyone just waiting for Florida State to screw up, Notre Dame’s last chance to jump the Frogs is this Saturday against Arizona State. Even then--assuming TCU beats the Wildcats at home--it’ll be an uphill battle for the Irish.
The SEC, in all likelihood, is still going to cannibalize itself. This is all assuming the Frogs win out---but Mississippi State running the table would just about guarantee TCU’s chances. Wins over Alabama and Ole Miss (plus previous wins over LSU, Auburn) and then the SEC East champ would seal the deal for the Bulldogs. The cherry on top would be a 2-loss Alabama beating Auburn, thus giving the Tigers two losses on the season.
Frogs don’t have NFL talent like the rest of the Top 4? Doesn't matter.
Todd Mcshay and Mel Kiper aren't overly impressed with the NFL potential on TCU’s roster. Regardless of how you feel about that statement, in regards to the playoff, it doesn’t matter. Even Gary pointed this out in his press conference yesterday.
TCU does have plenty of talent, but what's keeping the train going is that all the parts are working. There’s a different vibe and energy to this team, and this fanbase in 2014. As goofy as it may be to say, the #TCUTwitter is the best, most synergistic Twitter in college athletics. Peppered in with the fact that your team is on the brink of getting into the inaugural playoff, it’s a pretty damn good time to be Horned Frog, whether you’re on the field or in the stands.
good wins, B.A.D.D. losses
Root for Oklahoma on Saturday. Just this weekend, I promise. The voters have punished Baylor for their weak non-conference schedule, and as of now, the head-to-head loss in Waco hasn’t crippled the Horned Frogs. Baylor’s other problem is that they have a bad loss. Remember, we talked about the difference between good losses and good wins? That’s the argument you could use against Auburn to be left out right now, a team that lost to Mississippi State by two scores. TCU’s one loss is a good loss, and one that doesn’t screw up a resume. Despite Baylor’s bad loss however, if the Bears win out and TCU wins out, the head-to-head will carry more weight--and might not come out in the Frogs’ favor.
TCU's current resume is stronger than both Alabama and Michigan State--and arguably Oregon's. The Tide's best win was against West Virginia on a neutral field, and their loss was a 6-point upset in Oxford. Luckily for Saban and Co., they have plenty of time to convince to the voters they're worthy of a bid as their remaining schedule includes; LSU, Mississippi State, and Auburn. They win out, there's no question they're a playoff team. But as of now, TCU has the better resume. The Spartans' best win is a 5-point win over Nebraska, which is a solid win. However, its double-digit loss to Oregon is its Achilles' heel. It would likely take shellacking Ohio State for Michigan State to jump either Alabama or TCU.
Of the premier one-loss teams, TCU, Oregon, and Alabama all have good losses. Arizona State and Michigan State both have bad losses. The Sun Devils, and as we discussed above, Michigan State, don't have very convincing wins on their resumes either. In the eyes of the CFP committee, a win is a win--but it's the losses that will hurt you. If you're Arizona State, who could easily have three losses--mostly because USC played the worst Hail Mary defense--the 35-point loss to UCLA is going to punish you. If you're Sparty, it's the same thing. Almost losing to Nebraska isn't the problem. It's that, plus getting hammered by Oregon.
What I'm getting at is this: TCU wins out, a 3-point loss to a great Baylor team will be seen more as a positive than it will a negative.
|Team||CFP Rank||Loss||Loss Margin||Loss' CFP rank|
Just win, baby. And also, finish strong.
Interstellar will leave you with less of a brain malfunction than going down a college football rabbit hole, trying to list every scenario that would put the Frogs in the playoff. It’s cliche as sewing your name on Mickey Mouse ears, but the best thing to focus on is winning, one game at a time.
TCU has one more big hump, but the rest of the schedule shouldn’t be taken lightly. With the exception of Kansas, the Frogs’ other two games; Iowa State and Texas won’t be gimmes. I know what you’re thinking. Texas is having a textbook transition year. They’re a really erratic squad, showing signs of both brilliant and wearisome football. The Longhorns have only four wins and their remaining schedule goes; West Virginia, at Oklahoma State, and TCU on Thanksgiving.
The Thanksgiving game could go a few ways. The Longhorns win the Oklahoma State state game, and an upset of the Horned Frogs would mean a bowl big. Conversely, if Texas loses the preceding games to the Mountaineers and Pokes, the Thanksgiving game essentially becomes their bowl game, and beating a surging TCU team would serve as lovely Turkey Day consolation. No matter the situation, even if it’s guaranteed to be Texas’ last game of 2014--you have to wonder what kind of crowd they’ll churn out. Even in 2012, when both teams had winning records, and there was just more at stake, the turnout was their worst of the year. Yes, 99-thousand is still a lot, but the turkey and stuffing hangover provided a very lethargic crowd. If Texas is 4-7 at that point, the fans may just opt for a snooze at the point. Or even worse, spend time their families.
The committee is looking at the entire body of work. This is good for TCU. But a sluggish win in any of the final games, except for maybe Texas, would not be good. Iowa State will always worry me. It’s the ultimate trap game to close 2014. The worry as a TCU fan goes back to the 2012 game, which was just three days after Casey Pachall’s DUI. Losing to Iowa State wasn't the best way to begin your Big 12 career at home in 2012, and it would be a disastrous way to close out 2014.