What TCU needs to happen to make College Football Playoff after Oklahoma State win

TCU Horned Frogs running back Kendre Miller. (Raymond Carlin III-USA TODAY Sports)
TCU Horned Frogs running back Kendre Miller. (Raymond Carlin III-USA TODAY Sports) /

The TCU Horned Frogs are a perfect 6-0 at the halfway point after beating the Oklahoma State Cowboys at home in overtime.

Not since the inaugural College Football Playoff have the TCU Horned Frogs felt so alive.

It might be Sonny Dykes’ first year in Fort Worth, but he has dominated in the metroplex for years. He has taken his DFW blueprint of domination over from SMU and it is working out splendidly for him.

TCU improved to 6-0 (3-0) on the season after beating No. 8 Oklahoma State at home. The Horned Frogs will be moving up from No. 13, but do they have a shot at making the playoff now?

Here is a look at what will need to happen for the feisty Horned Frogs to make the four-team field.

What must happen for TCU Horned Frogs to make the College Football Playoff

After already having had its bye week, here is what TCU has left in the Big 12 slate to navigate.

  • Week 8: vs. Kansas State Wildcats (10/22)
  • Week 9: at West Virginia Mountaineers (10/29)
  • Week 10: vs. Texas Tech Red Raiders (11/5)
  • Week 11: at Texas Longhorns (11/12)
  • Week 12: at Baylor Bears (11/19)
  • Week 13: vs. Iowa State Cyclones (11/26)
  • Big 12 Championship Game: Arlington, TX (12/3)

Odds are, TCU will play two more ranked teams in Big 12 play: Home vs. Kansas State next week and likely at Texas on Nov. 12. The good news is their other four conference games are against teams with at least three losses on the season already: at West Virginia on Oct. 29, home vs. Texas Tech on Nov. 5, at Baylor on Nov. 19 and home vs. Iowa State on Nov. 26. There is some wiggle room…

Simply put, if TCU gets to the Big 12 Championship undefeated at 12-0 (9-0), the Horned Frogs are making the College Football Playoff as an undefeated Power Five champion. It is still early in the game, but it does not seem likely that all five Power Five champions go undefeated. The Pac-12 may fade in a few weeks and the ACC is not particularly strong. The Group of Five has no shot…

If TCU were to drop a conference game, they might be able to afford it, but it would be preferable if that loss came to either Kansas State or Texas, as those teams still have the potential to get to Arlington for the conference championship game. Kansas did suffer its second conference loss to Oklahoma this week, but the Jayhawks kind of feel like the odd man out with those conversations.

With one regular-season loss, TCU can still get in if it wins the Big 12 and presumably either the ACC or Pac-12 champion is not deserving. It would also help greatly if a Big Ten or an SEC runner-up did not enter their title bouts undefeated. TCU also needs to hope that a second-place finisher in a Big Ten or SEC division does not have a better resume than them (Ole Miss, Ohio State, etc.)

As for the weirdest option, what happens if TCU gets to Arlington undefeated and loses the conference title bout? Admittedly, it is going to be hard to have TCU make the four-team field as a one-loss, non-Power Five champion. They would need Oklahoma State to win out and beat them, and two Big 12 teams to get in. The ACC and Pac-12 would have to cannibalize and then some…

Ultimately, TCU’s best pathway to the playoff is to not lose a game and win the Big 12 at a perfect 13-0. They can somewhat afford to drop a game, but can get in with a Big 12 Championship and style points essentially being in their favor. However, we are going to need to see 2021 Cincinnati madness happen once again for TCU to get in as a 12-1 Big 12 runner-up. That is not happening.

For now, the Big 12 has maybe three teams that can make the playoff, but TCU is one of them.

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