TCU looking at 12-0 but a shaky BCS title-game status

Nov 27 2010 - 6:47pm

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- From the head coach to the athletic director to quarterback Andy Dalton, everyone at TCU is speaking from the same script.

"We are 11-0," the sentiment goes. "Our record speaks for itself."

But a major communication problem is on the horizon as fourth-ranked TCU tries to complete its second consecutive undefeated regular season starting at 3 p.m. CST on Saturday at New Mexico (1-10, 1-6 Mountain West).

The Horned Frogs (11-0, 7-0), holding on precariously to their No. 3 spot in the Bowl Championship Series standings, watched Friday as the top two teams in the BCS -- Oregon and Auburn -- remain undefeated with second-half comebacks.

No. 4 Boise State played No. 19 Nevada in a late game Friday. With a victory, the Broncos are likely to pass the Frogs in Sunday's updated BCS standings. They already passed TCU in the coaches' poll last week, which makes up a third of the BCS formula.

TCU is a 43-point favorite for Saturday, but a lopsided score in the Frogs' favor would have little effect on their ranking. Conversely, a close win or loss (obviously), would derail any hopes TCU has for a BCS bowl berth. With wins by the nation's other three undefeated teams Friday, the Frogs' chances of getting a shot at the national championship game would be dimmed significantly.

"If there was a loss in one of the top two teams and neither one of the undefeated teams got a chance to play for the national championship, then as a fan, I have a problem with it," TCU coach Gary Patterson said this week. "Because that's what we've all been taught. When you do the right thing and you do everything you're supposed to do, you'll get an opportunity. That's the American way, that's not just about football."

But that's what is likely to happen when the BCS bowl matchups are announced Dec. 5 if all four teams remained unbeaten.

The whole mess has put Patterson and his players in the awkward position of defending the current system and rooting for teams to lose, which is not how they've envisioned advancing to a title game.

"Is there a part of me pulling for Nevada? Yeah, because of our kids," Patterson said. "But I'm not going to root against somebody. Boise is going to be in our conference next year and Chris (Petersen) is a friend of mine. They've worked as hard as we have."

But as Patterson and his players say the right things, it appears to be dawning on them that a national title shot might be out of the picture.

"We've won every game," said quarterback Andy Dalton, one of 26 seniors playing in their final regular-season game as a Frog. "We went out and took care of business. We tried to schedule some teams to show we could play with Big 12 and Pac-10 teams. That's all we can do. We can't control other teams winning ballgames."

Dalton, when pressed, asked the media Tuesday to wait until the final standings are in and TCU learns of its postseason fate before he'll rate how fair or unfair the system is.

"It is a screwy system for us since we're from a non-automatic qualifying conference, so it's obviously a lot harder for us to make it to one of these games," Dalton said. "Nobody understands it. We feel we're well-deserving. Let's have this conversation two weeks from now."

Another senior, center Jake Kirkpatrick, said TCU's BCS situation has become a tired topic.

"It gets old after a while," Kirkpatrick said. "Worrying about all that stuff is just a distraction. There's still a lot of football to be played. We'll see what happens. All we can do is win every game. As long as we do that, everything will take care of itself."

But with a win Saturday and another 12-0 regular season, will the BCS take care of TCU?

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