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A Guide To TCU’s Bowl Possibilities

Here’s where TCU could end up, and what needs to occur to make it all happen.

NCAA Football: Baylor at Texas Christian Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

With TCU moving up just one spot in this week’s College Football Playoff poll, from No. 12 to No. 11, things are becoming quite clear as to where TCU could end up come bowl season.

With championship weekend still ahead of us, there are a handful of bowl opportunities for the Frogs, depending on how games play out on Saturday. Please note: percentage chance of happening is based on nothing other than my best guess as to how things will play out.

Option 1: Alamo Bowl (55% chance of happening)

How it happens:

  • TCU loses to Oklahoma in the Big 12 Championship (AND)
  • Washington, Stanford, or Notre Dame jump TCU in final CFP Poll

SB Nation’s Bill Connelly gives TCU a 41% chance of beating Oklahoma on Saturday, and a loss would drop TCU to 10-3 on the season. As the Frogs currently sit at No. 11 in the polls, they’re in a precarious position when it comes to losing in the Big 12 championship and still making a New Year’s 6 bowl.

Washington is lurking just two spots behind and the Frogs could see themselves drop at least to 12, and being leaped by the Huskies, should TCU lose. If that happened, the Frogs would no longer be in a spot to get a New Year’s Six bid, meaning they’d fall back to a bowl with a Big 12 tie-in. The Big 12 has six bowl tie-ins this season (normally it’s seven, but the Sugar Bowl is a CFP Semifinal this year), with the Alamo Bowl getting first pick of the remaining Big 12 teams. With TCU sitting at No. 2 in the conference in this scenario, they’d 99% likely be the pick.

Possible opponents: Stanford (75%), USC (24%), Washington (1%)

Option 2: New Year’s Six Bowl (44% chance of happening, likely would be Cotton Bowl)

How it happens:

  • TCU beats Oklahoma in the Big 12 Championship (OR)
  • TCU loses to Oklahoma in the Big 12 Championship (AND)
  • USC defeats Stanford in Pac-12 Championship (AND)
  • Notre Dame/Washington remain behind TCU in final CFP Poll

Really, the only sure way to lock in a spot in a New Year’s Six bowl is to beat Oklahoma on Saturday. Sitting at 11 means that TCU can’t afford to fall behind another P5 school/Notre Dame in the rankings, as the seven teams behind the Top 4 (Nos. 5-11) plus the highest ranked G5 school (currently UCF at No. 14).

It’s possible that the committee, having ranked TCU at No. 11 with a loss to Oklahoma already on the resume, could leave the Frogs alone if the game is close. You could also consider that Mississippi State didn’t drop a single spot in the rankings (16th) from Week 11 to Week 12, following a close loss to then No. 2 Alabama. Of course that’s the SEC, not the Big 12.

One of the big issues with TCU getting into a New Year’s Six bowl is the fact that the Sugar Bowl, the NY6 bowl with a Big 12 tie-in, is a semifinal this year, thus, the Big 12 loses that tie-in. Most other years, if the Big 12 was in this situation, the conference championship loser would get a Sugar Bowl bid, if the winner makes the CFP.

Possible Opponents: Penn State (60%), Wisconsin (37%), Ohio State (2%), Central Florida (<1%)

Option 3: College Football Playoff (<1% chance of happening)

How it happens:

  • TCU obliterates Oklahoma in the Big 12 Championship (AND)
  • Clemson obliterates Miami in the ACC Championship (AND)
  • Wisconsin beats Ohio State in the Big 10 Championship (AND)
  • Auburn obliterates Georgia in the SEC Championship (AND)
  • The committee forgets Alabama has a football team

I know Kirk Herbstreit was trying to keep TCU fans’ hopes up on Tuesday night, but the likelihood of TCU going to the College Football Playoff is slim to none. Even if TCU absolutely crushes Oklahoma on Saturday, 2014 Ohio State style, and every other higher-ranked team wins, the final CFP spot would come down to 11-1 Alabama, 11-2 Big 12 Champ TCU, and 11-2 Oklahoma, with the possible addition of 11-2 PAC-12 Champ USC in the mix should they beat Stanford. I’d say that TCU would be third behind both Alabama and USC to get in at that point, based on how the committee has propped up the Tide and the Trojans to this point.

Miracles can happen, but that’s a lot to hope for.

Option 4: Camping World Bowl (<1% chance of happening)

How it happens:

  • TCU loses to Oklahoma in the Big 12 Championship (AND)
  • TCU falls to No. 12 or lower in the final CFP Poll (AND)
  • The Alamo Bowl selects Oklahoma State over TCU for it’s Big 12 tie-in

Remember up in Option 1 where I said there’s a 99% chance the Alamo Bowl would pick TCU, given the opportunity? This is the other, miserable, 1%. If, for some God-forsaken reason the Alamo Bowl selects the Pokes, there’s no doubt the Camping World Bowl (formerly known as the Russell Athletic Bowl) would snatch TCU up. The other side of the bowl would be an ACC opponent, so that’d be cool.

Possible Opponents: Notre Dame (50%), Virginia Tech (35%), NC State (14%), Miami (1%)