Busting the BCS: Why We Should All Be Fans of the TCU Horned Frogs
Here's a great stat: TCU's defense is allowing only 1.4 more points per game on the road than at home. That'll make any defensive coordinator jealous.
And another: TCU's point totals have steadily increased from 33.3 points per game in September to 36.4 in October to 55 in November (although, granted, that's only one game).
In fact, there's no wrong way to regard this TCU team. But from a statistical standpoint, they're a peach.
They've held ranked opponents to less points (8.5) overall than unranked opponents, and that was in road victories over Clemson (14-10) and BYU (35-7).
Their 20-17 win against Air Force on the road would have been by a greater margin but for three troubling turnovers in Air Force territory that kept the game close and the unbeaten record in question.
The strength on offense is passer Andy Dalton, who's thrown 16 touchdowns to three interceptions, and hasn't thrown an interception in four games. He's fourth in the country in passing efficiency, behind Kellen Moore of Boise State, Max Hall of BYU, and Jimmy Clausen.
That TCU defense is fielding the fourth best overall scoring defense, and is holding opponents to under 85 rushing yards per game.
TCU DE Jerry Hughes leads the conference in sacks with nine.
Shall I go on?
TCU is simply one of the most complete teams in the country. Their defense needed to replace seven starters from last year's dominating squad, but there's been almost no statistical dropoff. Through nine games, TCU is averaging .3 more points per game than their 2008 unit. That signals really good coaching.
And you can't knock their nonconference schedule—Clemson is the likely ACC Atlantic representative in the championship game after their blowout over Florida State last week.
The Tigers are averaging 32 points per game. TCU held them to 10.
Even the Southern Methodist win looks good now that June Jones has the Mustangs a win away from bowl eligibility.
There's just no way to attack this TCU team, and Utah certainly won't be the team to find a way. Utah has all of one win over a team with a winning record; a 23-16 victory at home against Air Force, and the Utes still needed overtime to do it.
TCU will win out almost without question, and then it will be up to the voters to decide their fate. At No. 4 overall in the BCS, the Horned Frogs are first in line for the national title spot should the Texas Longhorns slip up against the Aggies or in the Big 12 Championship game and vacate No. 2.
But if the Longhorns did lose, would the voters really have the guts to put the Horned Frogs in position to play for the national title?
In a year that has greatly disappointed some with its predictability , that would be the wildest and most unthinkable conclusion to the year, and would likely set the stage for a complete overhaul of the BCS' Big Six Conference design were the Horned Frogs able to topple the Tide or Gators in the title game.
Imagine that for a moment: TCU is voted into the title game by honest men, beats the SEC champion Gators/Tide, and consequently destroys the presumptions of the BCS—something almost none of us regard with any seriousness, a system somehow capable of voting two loss USC ahead of Oregon despite the Ducks' resounding win in the head-to-head, an institution so nefarious that it routinely leaves out more deserving teams with tougher schedules for big-money darlings that schedule patsies.
How is that not something to root for?
Thus, it's essential that the Horned Frogs maintain their position as the BCS next-in-line.
The only concern is that Utah is TCU's last marquee game. The Utes have upheld their end of the bargain, remaining unbeaten in Mountain West play, raising the stakes for the Mountain West title (with the BYU game still to come), and entering the game with a No. 16 ranking to the BCS.
But after that, all that is left are home games against 4-5 Wyoming and 0-9 New Mexico.
And though TCU may be reaping the benefits now, the BCS has a notoriously weak short-term memory, so the Horned Frogs will probably have to make those wins ugly and one-sided (which, to their credit, they haven't struggled in doing so far).
A non-Big Six team has never been this close to the title game. They've also never been this capable. Even last year's Utah team couldn't match non-conference victories with the 2009 Horned Frogs. The Michigan Wolverines didn't do Utah any favors by going 3-9, while Oregon State, though challenging for the Pac-10 title, ultimately faded in a loss to Oregon in the Civil War.
I don't mean to knock Utah—they laid the groundwork for TCU's campaign with their undefeated season and their upset of Alabama last year.
I'm only arguing that TCU is an even stronger opponent than 2008 Utah, and that bodes well for their success in the title game, should the unthinkable occur.
At the very least, TCU will be content to wait, continue their statistical domination on defense and likely blow out the Utes. If they fall short of the national title game, they can take out their frustrations on whomever they draw, wherever they land in the BCS lottery, and have a legitimate argument for a split national championship like Utah did last year.
But trust me, there's not a coach in any of the Big Six that thinks beating TCU would be easy, regardless of what conference they hail from.
And when your rooting interest is for the outright destruction of the BCS, that's a pretty good start.
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