Among some college football experts—especially among those folks on ESPN and its Sunday BCS Countdown show—the proposition has been made that TCU does not deserve to go to the BCS Championship Game should either Auburn or Oregon loses on Saturday.
Craig James, Kirk Herbstreit and Rob Gilmore have all been every open in questioning TCU and its worth.
Herbstreit, who had championed ESPN darling Boise State as a qualified BCS Championship Game participant all season long, now argues that TCU is just not as good as Boise and not nearly as deserving.
And, of course, Ohio State president E. Gordon Gee questioned the worth of TCU and Boise State. Although he has since backed away from those statements.
Now, ESPN's BCS analyst, Brad Edwards, has stated that TCU is a virtual lock for the game if either of top teams lose. He gives Auburn but a 10-percent shot at playing in the BCS title game with a loss.
TCU is well ahead of all the one-loss teams from BCS automatic-qualifying (AQ) conferences, and will be joining the Big East in 2012. With TCU's huge lead in the BCS computers, it would take an absolute conspiracy of human voters to catapult Stanford, Wisconsin or Ohio State over TCU.
Of course, there is a very strong reason why TCU is so high in the BCS computers, even as a non-AQ school. This was never supposed to happen, and the AQ schools can only blame themselves.
In 2008, an undefeated Utah team, with wins over Michigan and Oregon State as well as BYU and TCU, was ranked only sixth in the final BCS standings (fifth in the BCS computer rankings) behind five one-loss teams from AQ conferences. Previous seasons for schools like Boise State and Hawaii were even worse.
Of course, TCU is dominating yet again this season. Even if the so-called experts of ESPN have rarely watched any TCU games, given that TCU played most of its games on CBS College Sports or Versus.
TCU has its fifth No. 1 defense under coach Gary Patterson (the previous being 2000, 2002, 2008 and 2010). No team in the history of the NCAA has had more than four No. 1 defenses since it started keeping records in the 1930s.
TCU is No. 1 in total defense (over 400 yards better than No. 2 Ohio State), No. 1 in scoring defense, No. 3 in rushing defense, No. 1 in passing defense and No. 1 in pass-efficiency defense.
On offense, TCU is also one of the best in the country. The Frogs on No. 9 in rushing offense, No. 7 in total offense, No. 5 in pass efficiency and No. 4 in scoring offense (even with Patterson intentionally limiting in every single game this season).
On special teams, TCU is No. 5 in punt returns and No. 6 in kickoff returns.
Of course, the computers care little about that stuff. Many of the human voters have not even looked it up.
ESPN experts spout off the line that TCU has "not been dominating," even as TCU has scored in all but one quarter this season. In only two games, TCU won by less than 17 points (both of which finished with TCU in position to score easy TDs).
TCU even played five complete drags on the schedule in FCS Tennessee Tech, Colorado State, Wyoming, UNLV and New Mexico. Consistent Top 25 BYU went into the tank during the rebuilding year.
TCU's victory over Utah was so devastating that Utah failed to show up the next week against Notre Dame, making TCU's best win look questionable.
TCU jumped ahead of Boise State in the BCS standings the week before the Utah game, and Boise was still behind TCU at the time of the game at Nevada. While some BCS experts (and most ESPN "experts") had stated repeatedly that TCU would fall behind Boise State in the final BCS standings, that was no sure thing, either.
The AQ schools are responsible for this problem.
They have loaded up on weak OOC schedules in an attempt to make BCS bowls and the BCS Championship Game by a beauty pageant. They saw how teams made the BCS title game with empty schedules.
If the AQ schools would drop the FCS games and avoid games versus the Sun Belt and MAC and actually play more than three or four road games, this entire problem could be avoided. Instead, Boise State and TCU set themselves up for a shot at the BCS title game, even in inferior conferences.
Early in the season, I wrote that Ohio State was getting no computer love this season for a very good reason—a very soft schedule.
Wisconsin basically had the same resume as Ohio State. Everything that was applicable to Ohio State is just as true about the Badgers.
Ohio State placed all of its OOC hopes in the Miami Hurricanes, who, unfortunately, have turned out to be paper tigers once again. The other three games were without note (although Ohio has had a very nice season).
Iowa has had one of its worst seasons in years. Penn State and Michigan State are still jokes.
And Indiana and Illinois continue to deserve their third-class status.
In what is a pretty decent year for the Big Ten with three good teams, Ohio State missed out on a game versus Michigan State.
Likewise, Wisconsin played three OOC cupcakes and Arizona State, which has only one FBS win over schools not looked in Washington. Wisconsin split with the other two Big Ten leaders and has been intentionally running up the score on weak opponents in order to lobby for votes and the Rose Bowl.
Wisconsin has yet to hold an FBS opponent to less than 13 points. They even defeated lowly San Jose State by a mere two touchdowns.
Stanford would seem as the next best one-loss AQ team, with only one bad half against Oregon. But a closer look at the Stanford schedule reveals what a joke it has been.
Outside of the game versus Oregon, Stanford has no wins over a single team that has won eight games. Although both USC and Arizona could reach eight wins this week.
And while the computers loves the Pac-10, few are impressed with a league that is hoping for wins by 5-6 Washington and 5-6 Arizona State (two wins over FCS schools) in order to have more than three bowl teams.
Stanford struggled with USC, Washington State and Arizona State—not exactly a murderer's row this season. The win over Notre Dame came on the heels of the Domers losing in dramatic fashion on Michigan State's trick play.
So, ultimately, outside of voter conspiracy to keep TCU out of the BCS title game, if either Auburn or Oregon goes down this weekend, we will see the Frogs trying to get their third national title.
In any event, TCU will be no worse than a loss by one of the top teams away from the BCS title game for the second year in a row. And smelling like Roses on New Year's Day.
Of course, TCU making the BCS title game could be the straw that breaks the resistance to a "Plus-One" model, a four-team mini-playoff pushed by Mike Slive of the SEC and rejected by the Big Ten and the Pac-10.
If we had a Plus-One this season, TCU would likely be facing Auburn and Oregon would be facing Wisconsin (or Stanford) for the right to play for the BCS title.
Of course, in a expanded 16-team playoff, the Big Ten and SEC would both have multiple teams going to a playoff. The game last week between LSU and Arkansas would have likely been for a playoff spot.
Michigan State might still not make a playoff. But at least the Spartans would be going to the Rose Bowl, at worst.
So, here's hoping that chaos reigns and we finally get a playoff for 2014, even if it is just a Plus-One.
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