TCU, Cincinnati Bearcats, or Texas Longhorns: Who Deserves the BCS Title Game?

Pete MisthaufenAnalyst INovember 11, 2009

With the SEC seemingly owning a spot in the BCS title game, the question is:

Which team has earned a spot against Florida or Alabama?

While some would like to dispute the place of primacy for the SEC, especially if Florida wins out with what would be only two wins over top-25 teams (LSU and Alabama), it is really meaningless to argue about this, given the current irrational state of college football.

Instead, we need to focus on which of the three contenders for the non-SEC participant for the BCS title game.

There are three legitimate contenders for this spot: Cincinnati, Texas, and TCU.

Now, Longhorn fans would argue that they should not even be questioned about their status as the only valid contender for the other BCS title game spot, should they go undefeated.

Unfortunately for the Longhorns, they have no inherent right to this spot in the BCS title game and the very weak state of the Big 12 this year only weakens their case.

The Case for Cincinnati

The Bearcats, after winning the Big East last year, have unexpectedly returned to the top of the college football world.

Superficially, the Bearcats have an impressive schedule. However, Cincy has had the No. 73 schedule, according to NCAA.

Cincy started the season off with a huge win over a highly touted Rutgers team that has turned out to be a real hype job, having five wins over cream-puffs and its best win over UConn on its losing record.

After blowing out a FCS school, Cincy went to Oregon State and got its signature win. The Bearcats followed this up with another close game against Fresno State.

After a laugher over hapless Miami of Ohio, Cincy pounded the typically over-hyped South Florida Bulls. The Bearcats followed this up with wins over Big East doormats Syracuse and Louisville.

Of course, Cincy barely beat UConn last weak.

Now, Cincy has tough games ahead against West Virginia, Pittsburgh, and Illinois. It is very likely that Cincy could lose a game.

It is also very possible that Cincy could run the table, given that Pittsburgh lost to a very bad North Carolina State team and West Virginia lost to both South Florida and Auburn.

Cincy has faced mostly weak defenses, having faced no top-20 defenses.

As demonstrated by UConn, Cincy really does not have a great defense and has only faced one top-20 offense (Fresno State).

Overall, Cincy is as serious a national title contender as Boise State, which is to say, not at all.

How about the Longhorns?

Texas comes to the table with a big name, a huge fanbase, and a monster reputation, but do the Longhorns really deserve the hype?

After all, the Longhorns are ranked fifth by the BCS computers.

Under the NCAA strength of schedule rankings, Texas is No. 39, barely above TCU.

Texas has only one win over a currently ranked team and will not likely face another this season, except in its bowl game.

The Longhorns have one of the worst non-conference schedules in the country, without a single game against a member of a BCS conference.

The win over Oklahoma State is okay, I guess, but Okie State lost at home to Houston, as well. Plus, the Cowboys were missing their highly respected skill players when they played Texas.

Texas has faced only one top-20 offense (Texas Tech) and one top-20 defense (Oklahoma).

The Texas offense has been kept under 350 yards four times this season.

Moreover, the Longhorn passing attack has been largely held in check by bad pass defenses. Texas has faced no teams ranked in the top 20 in pass defense and only faces one ranked below 69th in the entire season.

The Longhorn defense, while highly ranked, has held only three opponents under 250 yards this season and allowed over 400 yards to Texas Tech. The Texas defensive numbers are largely the result of playing Colorado, UTEP, and Central Florida.

Not exactly powers of college football.

Texas is currently ranked No. 1 in rushing defense, but this is largely related to the weak competition. Texas has faced only one good running team (No. 20 Oklahoma State, who they still gave up over 134 yards on the ground to with their star RB) and four of the 25 worst running teams in college football, with two more bad running teams coming up.

To put it simply, Texas has just enough to win, but would be ranked behind Boise State if it switched uniforms and resumes with Baylor. The Longhorns really do not deserve to be penciled into the BCS title game.

Frogs Leap to the Top

While Big Six conference supporters may claim that a non-automatic qualifying school like TCU has no business even getting close to the BCS title game, the reality is that TCU is the most deserving of the three.

By the end of the season, TCU should have three wins over teams ranked in the final top 25 (Clemson, Utah, and BYU).

TCU will have faced three top-20 defenses (Air Force, Clemson, and Utah) and two more in the top 50 (BYU and Virginia), a much harder slate of defenses than Cincy and Texas combined, making the TCU offensive stats all the more impressive.

TCU is effective both running and throwing the ball, ranked No. 6 in rushing, No. 3 in passing efficiency, No. 6 in scoring offense, and No. 8 in total offense.

Of course, everyone knows about TCU's amazing defense. Only one team (Clemson) has over 300 yards against them, while seven other teams were held to under 250 yards.

TCU's signature out-of-conference win is over ACC Atlantic Division presumptive winner Clemson in Death Valley, where other teams, such as Boston College, have gone and been completely shut down.

TCU's utter destruction of BYU was one of the best performances of the entire college football season.

With a win over Utah on Saturday after hosting ESPN's College GameDay , TCU will have the most impressive resume of any undefeated team, including teams in the SEC.


Out of the three real contenders for the non-SEC spot in the BCS title game, TCU is the best choice and most deserving.

Could Texas score on Cincy? Yes. Could Texas stop Cincy? Maybe.

Could Texas score on TCU? Not likely. Could Texas stop TCU? No way.

Cincy and Texas have played relatively easy schedules in comparison to TCU, pounding bad and average teams.

Will the voters actually reward TCU with this spot? It remains unlikely, due to the beauty contest nature of the BCS.

Texas most likely will make the BCS title game if they win out, but it will be with one of the softest schedules of any BCS title team ever, even weaker than Florida's last year.


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