TCU hasn’t just separated itself as the Big 12 Conference’s best team, it is now the last league team in the College Football Playoff race.
Oklahoma made some early CFP projections after blasting Nebraska Sept. 17. That seems absurd now.
Oklahoma State never showed up in those projections, but might have had it done what looked possible for two hours at TCU Oct. 15 – blown out the Horned Frogs. OSU lost in double overtime instead, then lost in historic fashion at Kansas State Saturday. Goodbye.
K-State was probably eliminated from national contention when it fell to Tulane Sept. 17. The Wildcats’ Oct. 22 loss at TCU finished them off.
It’s TCU or bust, then, for a conference whose only member to have qualified for the CFP is Oklahoma.
The Horned Frogs are 8-0. They are advised to finish 13-0 if they want to make the Football Four.
Finish the regular season 12-0 and lose the Big 12 championship game, the Frogs are probably playing in the Cotton Bowl. They get nowhere near the CFP.
Finish the regular season 11-1, meaning a loss to Texas Tech, Texas, Baylor or Iowa State, and win the Big 12 title game, the Frogs have a Playoff shot as a one-loss Power 5 champ.
The problem in that scenario is Georgia, Tennessee, Ohio State, Michigan and Clemson are all still unbeaten. Alabama, Ole Miss, USC, UCLA and Oregon all have just one loss.
That’s a crowded CFP field this late in a season, with some very heavy hitters still in contention. Lose once and it becomes a resume watch for the Frogs.
They’ll have a lot of good wins by virtue of their Big 12 schedule, but no eye-catchers. They’ll get no help from beating Colorado, Tarleton and SMU in September.
Here’s the mission for Sonny Dykes: beat Texas Tech, then win at Baylor, then at Texas, then beat Iowa State back home, then beat K-State in Arlington Dec. 3 for the Big 12 title.
That puts TCU in the College Football Playoff. It’s the Frogs’, and the Big 12’s, only guarantee to make a national splash this season.