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TCU’s bowl projections are all over the map

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Now that TCU is 6-6 and bowl eligible, we take a look at where they might play, and who they might play against.

TCU Football vs Oklahoma State
TCU Football vs Oklahoma State
Melissa Triebwasser

TCU beat Oklahoma State on Saturday, defying the odds and qualifying for a bowl game. Never mind that they had to win three of their last four games to do so, TCU did so. Now, we get to talk about where the Frogs might play, now that they’ve earned their way into the bowl conversation.

They’ll clearly not go to a NY6 bowl, but there are some intriguing possibilities and opponents that TCU could run across.

In order to fully understand how TCU may wind up in a certain place, we need to understand who is ahead of them, and how the conference championship game impacts the Big 12 standings.

Currently, Oklahoma, Texas, Iowa State, and West Virginia are ahead of the Frogs in the standings. Should Oklahoma win the Big 12 Championship, they’ll likely head to the CFP (unless the committee screws them and puts Ohio State in instead.) If they don’t they’ll get the Big 12’s auto-bid to the Sugar Bowl.

If Oklahoma wins and goes to the College Football Playoff, Texas would then be in line to get the Sugar Bowl bid.

Should Texas beat Oklahoma, I think both teams are a lock for NY6 bowl games, although Oklahoma would have to rely on getting an at-large bid to either the Peach or Fiesta bowl.

After that, it’s important to clarify how bowls get their matchups.

The Big 12 has six non-NY6 bowl affiliations, and each has the option to select the Big 12 team of their choice, based on the remaining bowl-eligible teams. They pick in this order:

  1. Valero Alamo Bowl
  2. Camping World Bowl
  3. Academy Sports + Outdoors Texas Bowl
  4. AutoZone Liberty Bowl
  5. Cheez-It Bowl
  6. Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl

It’s highly unlikely that the Alamo Bowl would choose TCU over the likes of West Virginia or Texas, considering the success of those two teams this year, and the fact that TCU has been to San Antonio twice in the last three years. So with that in mind, and not quite knowing what will happen at the CFP/NY6 level, here are the five possible options (and where major sites are projecting TCU to go):

Camping World Bowl (December 28th, Orlando, FL)

In order for this to be TCU’s destination, both Oklahoma and Texas need to make at least a NY6 bowl, the Alamo Bowl will need to select either West Virginia or Iowa State, and Camping World picking TCU over the other of those two. Currently, no projections I’ve seen have TCU heading to Orlando.

Potential opponent: NC State, Syracuse

Academy Sports + Outdoors Texas Bowl (Dec. 27, Houston, TX)

For TCU to get to the Texas Bowl, both Oklahoma and Texas need to make a NY6 bowl, while West Virginia and Iowa State go to the Alamo and Camping World Bowls. At that point, the Frogs need the Texas bowl to take TCU over Baylor and Oklahoma State.

An alternative scenario involves just one Big 12 team (Oklahoma) making a NY6 bowl, but being left out of the CFP, and TCU being selected ahead of Iowa State/West Virginia for this game.

Bleacher Report has TCU projected here against Vanderbilt.

Potential Opponent: Texas A&M, Auburn, Vanderbilt

AutoZone Liberty Bowl (Dec. 31, Memphis, TN)

For TCU to wind up in the Liberty Bowl, it means that only one Big 12 team is in a NY6 bowl, pushing the loser of the Big 12 championship (likely Texas in this scenario) to the Alamo Bowl. and the Camping World/Texas Bowls selected someone other than TCU (likely West Virginia & Iowa State). At that point, the Liberty Bowl would need to select TCU over Baylor and Oklahoma State.

Something to consider is that TCU was just in Memphis for this bowl two seasons ago, and that recency may push the Liberty Bowl elsewhere (although they had reps at the Carter on Saturday).

CBS Sports has TCU projected here against South Carolina. College Football News has TCU playing here against Vanderbilt.

Potential Opponent: Missouri, Mississippi State, South Carolina, Vanderbilt

Cheez-It Bowl (Dec. 26, Phoenix, AZ)

If this happens, we know that the Liberty Bowl, when presented with TCU, Oklahoma State, and Baylor as options, went with someone other than TCU.

Sports Illustrated is projecting TCU here against BYU. SB Nation is projecting the Frogs to play Utah State here. Kyle Bonagura of ESPN has TCU playing Boise State here.

Potential Opponent: BYU, San Diego State, Utah State

Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl (Dec. 22, Fort Worth, TX)

I really don’t see this scenario playing out for TCU, but it could happen. Ultimately it would mean that TCU was the final remaining Big 12 team to select, as the Armed Forces Bowl picks last.

Athlon Sports currently has TCU projected to play Houston here. Mitch Sherman of ESPN has TCU projected to play Temple here.

Potential Opponent: Houston, Temple, Army