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TCU Football Likely Headed to Russell Athletic Bowl

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Here's a glimpse at how the bowl situation could play out for TCU.

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

(UPDATE: This post has been updated to reflect Saturday's results and the Big 12 tiebreaker rules that affect final standings)

Now that TCU's regular season has come to an end, we can start looking to what bowl might extend an invitation. To refresh, here's a list of all of the Big 12's bowl affiliations:

  • Sugar Bowl (New Orleans, LA)
  • Valero Alamo Bowl (San Antonio, TX)
  • Russell Athletic Bowl (Orlando, FL)
  • AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl (Houston, TX)
  • AutoZone Liberty Bowl (Memphis, TN)
  • Cactus Bowl (Phoenix, AZ)
  • Zaxby's Heart of Dallas Bowl (Dallas, TX)

Oklahoma defeated Oklahoma State 58-23 on Saturday, likely guaranteeing the Sooners a spot in the College Football Playoffs. Right behind them, there's a three-way tie for second place between TCU, Baylor, and Oklahoma State.

Here's where things get interesting. Had Oklahoma State won, Oklahoma would have been the clear No. 2 in the conference, holding wins over both Baylor and TCU. However, there's no such clarity in a three way tie between TCU, Baylor, and OSU. The tiebreaker then moves to each team's record against the next three teams in the conference. This doesn't help either, as TCU and OSU both went 3-0 against West Virginia, Texas Tech, and Texas, with Baylor most likely going to get to 3-0 with a win over Texas next weekend.

The tiebreaker then is scoring differential in games played between the tied teams. TCU (-13), has a worse differential than Baylor (+3) and Oklahoma State (+10). Thus, TCU is eliminated from the equation, and because of their head to head win, Baylor has the tiebreaker over OSU.

Therefore, the Sugar Bowl will probably take Baylor, as CBS Sports' analyst Jerry Palm has revised his projections to reflect.

That would put Oklahoma State in the Alamo Bowl, and TCU in the Russell Athletic Bowl. Of course, this all hinges on Baylor beating Texas. If, somehow, the Longhorns upset the Bears, TCU would go to the Alamo Bowl.

Of course, this answers only part of the question. There's still the case of TCU's opponent.

Opponent Possibility No. 1- North Carolina

If TCU were to to head to the Russell Athletic bowl, they'd be paired up against an ACC opponent. The Russell Athletic Bowl gets first pick of an ACC team after the New Years Six Bowls. If things in the ACC held true, that would be North Carolina. It'd be the Tar Heels and not Florida State, because Florida State his the higher ranked of the two teams, and would be selected for the Peach Bowl.

Opponent Possibility No. 2 - Florida State

Let's say the insane happens, and North Carolina defeats Clemson in the ACC Championship game. UNC probably jumps Florida State in the rankings, while Clemson falls, but not behind FSU. This would push North Carolina and Clemson both in the conversation for a New Year's Six bowl, which they'd both likely get.

That would drop Florida State to the Russell Athletic Bowl against the Frogs.

Opponent Possibility No. 3 - Oregon

If the Sugar Bowl were to take Oklahoma State over the Frogs, TCU would find themselves in the Alamo Bowl against a Pac-12 opponent. If the current standings held true, that would pit the Frogs against Oregon.

Opponent Possibility No. 4 - Stanford

If the winner of today's UCLA-USC matchup defeats Stanford in the Pac 12 Championship game, Stanford would then fall to the Alamo Bowl.