The TCU Horned Frogs have been one of the best stories of the 2022 College Football Season. At the beginning of the year, it appeared that the only teams worth following in the Big 12 were the ones ranked in the Top 25. With Baylor, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State leading the way, TCU became an afterthought, but all of that changed in Week 4 against the Sooners. From then on, TCU was a forced to be reckoned with and now, they're one win away from a potential College Football Playoff berth.
TCU is One Win Away from the Promised Land
Heading into the Big 12 Conference Championship game against Kansas State was not something more fans or TV analysts had on their preseason bingo cards, but that's the reality we're living in. With an offense led by comeback QB Max Duggan and a masterful first year wearing the headset by Sonny Dykes, the Horned Frogs methodically made their case as College Football's Cinderella, shutting down a red-hot Kansas Jayhawks team, an out-for-blood- Texas Longhorns team and most recently, toughing out a last-minute win against Baylor to keep their undefeated season going. Now, sitting in the No. 3 position heading into Championship Saturday, the Horned Frogs can send themselves into the history books. But, a loss to a wild card Kansas State team could flip the script and open up Pandora's Box for the College Football Playoff Committee. But for Ohio State and Alabama, that's exactly what they're hoping for.
Ohio State Waits in the Wings
After their heartbreaking defeat at the hands of Michigan for the second consecutive year, Ohio State once again dropped out of the CFP Top 4, losing their No. 2 ranking to Michigan and allowing USC to rise to No. 4. Once again reeling from a loss to the Wolverines and being knocked out of the Big Ten Championship game, the Buckeyes will be watching Championship Saturday from Columbus, where Dabo Swinney assumes they'll be flipping burgers. While the Spoilermakers may have a shot at shocking the World and upsetting the Wolverines in the Big 10 title game, the game for Ohio State to watch is TCU vs. Kansas State.
However, with USC's loss to Utah, Ohio State may be sitting pretty before any games kickoff. But there's another team who may be waiting with bated breath for the outcome of the Big 12 Championship and that's Alabama.
Can Alabama Roll Their Tide Back to the Top 4?
Alabama would be a two-loss, non-conference champion selection to the College Football Playoff, the first in the format's history. As USC got stomped in the Pac-12 title game against Utah, Alabama's 10-2 record begins to sync up with that of the Trojans. The Tide did lose to No. 6 Tennessee and No. 15 LSU, who almost made a run to the Top 4 but were upended by Texas A&M. Compared to USC, who had two losses on the season, both against Utah, there's a conversation to be had about who deserves the foruth playoff spot should TCU fall.
Any other two loss non-conference champ has losses that don't stack up to those of USC and Alabama. Unless LSU can upset No. 1 Georgia, there's no real threat to Alabama. Even Penn State can't really hold a candle to Alabama's tough schedule. Once again, if the CFP Committee is weighing wins and losses, Alabama's losses have more value than those of the Nittany Lions.
But, Alabama can only capitalize on the chaos with a Kansas State win. So, let's ask the important question.
So, What Happens if Kansas State can Pull Off the Upset?
Kansas State toppled Oklahoma and sent the Sooners spiraling back in Week 4 and the Wildcats have all the tools to do the same to TCU. Deuce Vaughn has been a revelation in the K-State backfield, as has QB Adrian Martinez, who has been understudied brilliantly by Will Howard due to injury. If there's an upset brewing in the conference championships, it's in the Big 12.
If Kansas State can pull out a win in the Big 12 Championship, you have to assume that TCU would fall out of the college football playoff. Why? If Ohio State and TCU both have one loss, and Ohio State's came at the hands of the No. 2 team in the country and TCU's came against the No. 13 Wildcats, there's a weighted difference between the two defeats. Sure, the Buckeyes didn't lose a conference championship because they didn't play in one, that's fair. But when looking at how far teams have dropped when losing to teams ranked 10+ spots below them, it's not out of the realm of possibilities.
Simply put, a Kansas State loss throws the College Football Playoff into chaos. However, unlike Ohio State and Alabama, TCU can control their own destiny by winning one more football game.
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