College Football Playoff: Should TCU be in over Michigan, Clemson?

Quentin Johnston, TCU Horned Frogs. (Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images)
Quentin Johnston, TCU Horned Frogs. (Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images) /

All TCU does is keep on winning, forcing its way into the College Football Playoff conversation with the likes of Michigan and Clemson.

After improving to 7-0 on the season, the TCU Horned Frogs are very much part of early College Football Playoff conversations, especially when it comes to fellow contenders like Michigan and Clemson.

Entering the Week 8 slate, Michigan was No. 4, Clemson was No. 5 and TCU was No. 8. With No. 7 Ole Miss losing on the road to unranked LSU, the Rebels will presumably fall out of the top 10. While No. 10 Oregon beat previously undefeated No. 9 UCLA at home, that may not be enough for the Ducks to get into first two teams out territory just yet. They’re good, but what if TCU is better?

Let’s discuss how TCU compares to fellow top-10 undefeated teams like Michigan and Clemson…

College Football Playoff rankings: Would TCU get in over Michigan or Clemson?

The good news for the Horned Frogs is the last unblemished team in the Pac-12 succumbed to defeat with Oregon beating UCLA in Autzen. This is significant because an undefeated Big 12 champion TCU team absolutely gets into the playoff, no matter what happens in the ACC, Big Ten or SEC. A loss would be devastating for the Frogs, as it would knock the Big 12 down considerably.

Alright, let’s channel our energy and refocus just a bit. This exercise is not about TCU getting a top-two seed into the big dance, but merely a spot at the table. Teams like Georgia, Ohio State, Tennessee and Alabama are in prime positions to compete for one of the top two spots. The same sort of principles can be applied to Michigan and definitely to Clemson should both teams win out.

When it comes to Michigan, the Wolverines have not played a very tough schedule. Their best win is over Penn State, the likely third-place finisher in the Big Ten East and a fringe New Year’s Six Bowl team. However, that all could change if Michigan rattles off three straight wins over ranked teams in Illinois, at Ohio State in The Horseshoe and in all likelihood, Illinois again in Indianapolis.

Simply, the only way Michigan is getting in over TCU with one loss is if that one loss is at home to Illinois. Upsetting Ohio State in Columbus would get the Wolverines to Indianapolis where they would have an opportunity to avenge a tough home loss to Bret Bielema’s surging Illini program. In short, Michigan finishing up 11-1 with a road loss to Ohio State is not going to cut it for them.

As for Clemson, the Tigers are pretty much a lock to get to Charlotte with head-to-head wins over Florida State, North Carolina State, Syracuse and Wake Forest in ACC Atlantic play. Although they could technically afford to lose a game before Charlotte, they would have to beat presumably North Carolina out of the Coastal to offset a potential clunker. This is where it gets a little dicey…

Should TCU lose a regular-season game and Clemson drops one as well, it would be a great debate as to who gets in in that scenario, especially if the SEC is capable of getting two teams in. The Horned Frogs and Tigers would also have to keep close tabs on what happens out on the West Coast, as a one-loss Oregon, USC or even UCLA may have an argument for a spot at the table, too.

Ultimately, TCU is not going to get the benefit of the doubt all things equal when it comes to more prestigious programs like Michigan, Clemson or whomever. That’s just the way it is. Furthermore, the Frogs are not recruiting on their levels. This means it would probably not be a fair fight in the No. 1 vs. No. 4 national semifinal going up against the Big Ten or SEC champion. Think Cincinnati…

The only way TCU gets in over teams like Michigan or Clemson is if their record/resume is superior.

Next. Projected AP Top 25 CFB rankings after Week 8. dark

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