Sitting at 10-2, the No. 11 TCU Horned Frogs are once again more than eligible for a bowl game this season. So what should we expect for them this year? Let’s take a look.
The playoff is out
Sorry, TCU fans. The playoff is simply not happening for the Frogs this year.
Last year, an 11-1 record, a Big 12 title, and a No. 3 ranking entering the final week of the season were not enough to give TCU a berth to the inaugural College Football Playoff.
With the Frogs having a 10-2 record this season, Oklahoma already taking home the Big 12 title with a 11-1 record, and TCU being unable to finish higher than third in the conference, the Frogs will need to pull off the shock of the millennium in order to end up in Miami or Arlington on New Year’s Eve.
A non-playoff New Year’s Six bowl is unlikely, but not impossible
Given the Frogs are out of playoff contention and eliminated from the Sugar Bowl, the best scenario for TCU is the Frogs end up in either the Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, Arizona, on New Year’s Day, or once again at the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl in Atlanta, Georgia, on Dec. 31.
If the Frogs want to play in either of those bowls though, they will need some serious help from other teams playing this weekend.
As it stands, No. 8 Notre Dame, a two-loss team, and No. 6 Ohio State, a one-loss team, are slotted for the Fiesta Bowl, and it is unlikely for those teams to drop any further in the rankings as both are idle this weekend.
A similar problem exists with the Peach Bowl. Two-loss No. 9 Florida State and one-loss Houston, a Group of Five school, are currently slotted to go to Atlanta. As is the case with Notre Dame and Ohio State, Florida State is idle this weekend. Also problematic for TCU is that a Group of Five school is guaranteed a spot in one of the New Year’s Six Bowls.
With that said, the Frogs will need as many top-10 teams as possible not just to lose this weekend, but to lose in horrific fashion if they want to have a shot at the New Year’s Six. That way there is a potential for other teams to drop so far down in the rankings that TCU passes up them up and cannot be left out. So, TCU fans, start cheering for a blowout in the Big Ten Championship, USC to blow out Stanford in the Pac-12 Championship and UNC to pull off the upset against No. 1 Clemson.
A trip to the Alamo Bowl is probable
Based on the current rankings, there is a very good chance the Horned Frogs will end up facing a Pac-12 opponent in the Alamo Bowl in San Antonio on Jan. 2. While not a New Year’s Six bowl, the Alamo Bowl is still a highly-respected contest with a rich history.
Traditionally the third place team in the Big 12 is slotted for the Alamo Bowl. If Texas upsets Baylor on Saturday, the Frogs are nearly a lock for the Alamo Bowl, as they would finish third place in the Big 12.
Even if the Frogs do finish fourth in the Big 12 though, there is still a decent chance that they could win an Alamo Bowl bid over third place Oklahoma State. Beyond the Sugar Bowl, the Big 12 can choose whomever they want to go to each bowl with a Big 12 tie-in. With the Frogs already sitting six spots ahead of the Cowboys in the rankings, there is no reason to why the Big 12 wouldn’t reward the Frogs for their national position.
If the Frogs make the trip to San Antonio, they will likely face a team many people anticipated they’d play in the playoff last year, the No. 16 Oregon Ducks. If No. 7 Stanford defeats No. 20 USC in the Pac-12 Championship Saturday and doesn’t make it to the playoff, Oregon would remain the second-highest ranked Pac-12 team, sending them to the Alamo Bowl. If the Frogs face the Ducks, fans can expect a game featuring two explosive offenses.
If USC pulls off the upset over Stanford however, they would head to the Rose Bowl instead of Stanford. The Alamo Bowl could then choose between Stanford and Oregon to fill the Pac-12 spot. This decision would be based on rankings and conference standings.
There is also the Russell Athletic Bowl
A fourth-place finish in the Big 12 for TCU could potentially earn the Frogs a bowl snub for the second year in a row.
In the event the Frogs do finish fourth, and the Big 12 decides to honor conference standings over national rankings, Oklahoma State goes to the Alamo Bowl, leaving the Frogs to play in the Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando, Florida, on Dec. 29.
If the Frogs travel to the Sunshine State, they will play against an ACC opponent. That will largely depend on the outcome of the ACC Championship this weekend. If No. 1 Clemson takes care of business against North Carolina, the Frogs would likely face the Tar Heels. If UNC pulls off the upset, Clemson will likely fall out of the top four and bump Florida State out of the Peach Bowl, sending the Seminoles to battle the Frogs.
The Russell Athletic Bowl doesn’t have the prestige of the other bowl games, but the Frogs would get to celebrate at nearby Walt Disney World if they win. That’s not a bad consolation by any means.
So mark your calendars everyone. By Sunday night, we’ll know where the Frogs are heading this bowl season.