The Horned Frog 62-7 win over Tennessee Tech University last Saturday night was impressive. The Frogs moved the ball at will, played steady defense and, excluding a penalty-filled patch of plays in the second quarter, played a disciplined brand of football. The only question after the game is why was Tennessee Tech even on the schedule?
Critics point to the weaker schedules of non-Bowl Championship Series conference schools of TCU and Boise State University as the reason why they should be left out of the national championship picture. All teams in college football’s top division, whether they are in a BCS conference or not, should have an equal chance to win a national championship, but those critics do have a point.
The teams TCU play on a weekly basis in the Mountain West Conference aren’t nearly as skilled or as deep as those in the Big 12 Conference or Southeastern Conference (SEC). This isn’t to say TCU couldn’t compete in those conferences, but it was not given the chance to prove its team quality but once or twice a year.
Beating a solid program like Oregon State University on national television was as good a way as any to show the country that TCU is a big-time program with big time athletes, but turning around the next week and beating an out-matched, under-skilled team like Tennessee Tech was just counterproductive.
Perennial powers the University of Oklahoma, the University of Texas and the University of Alabama can afford to play a Tennessee Tech or Jacksonville State University at the beginning of the year but a non-BCS school doesn’t have that luxury. TCU can’t rely on the polls or the off-chance a playoff system will form if it wants to win a national championship. The team has to make its own breaks and it starts with scheduling.
Boise State essentially controls its own destiny this year because of its schedule. The Broncos went on the road and beat a team with a Top-10 preseason ranking, Virginia Tech University, but a week later Virginia Tech lost to James Madison University. Boise State will get another chance to prove it is not a fluke in a couple of weeks when the team hosts Oregon State. TCU will have its hands full with Air Force Academy and Brigham Young University at home and the University of Utah on the road, but it’s the games outside of the conference, games with BCS schools, that seem to carry the most weight with voters.
The Horned Frogs’ non-conference schedule will start to toughen the next few years, which is a good thing.
Texas Tech University is scheduled to come to Fort Worth next year and in 2012, Oklahoma and the University of Virginia are both scheduled home games. Last year’s Tostito’s Fiesta Bowl berth was just the culmination of the national power head football coach Gary Patterson had been building throughout his time at TCU.
But if the Horned Frogs want to be more than just a BCS buster, they’ll have to keep scheduling powerhouses like Oklahoma and LSU and force their way into the picture. Because as last year proved, TCU doesn’t control its own destiny at all when it comes to making the national championship game, undefeated or not.