Tuesday Question - If one of the top 3 falls
CIncinnati QB Zach Collaros
CIncinnati QB Zach Collaros
Posted Nov 17, 2009

What happens if Texas loses? What happens if Florida loses but beats Bama, and what happens if Bama loses but beats Florida? The CFNers analyize the situation in the Tuesday Question

Tuesday Question ... Nov. 17

If something happens up top ...

Tuesday Questions
11/10 Should Weis be fired?
11/3 Is Iowa for real?
10/27 Boise State or TCU in the BCS?
10/20 Is Weis on a hot seat?
10/13 Midseason Awards
10/6 The big flops
- 9/29 Who's No. 4?
- 9/22 What's next for USC?
- 9/15 The Young QB You Want
- 9/8 Are Michigan & ND back?
- 9/1 Pick the winners
Pete Fiutak

Q: If Texas loses a game, who deserves to be in? An undefeated Cincinnati, undefeated TCU, or undefeated Boise State? If Alabama loses to Auburn, but beats Florida, who should play Texas? And if Florida loses to FSU but beats ‘Bama?

A: If Texas loses, it's out. No, a one-loss Longhorn team doesn't get the benefit of the doubt in a bad year for the Big 12. If Cincinnati runs the table, it's at the top of the pecking order with wins at Oregon State, Rutgers, and Pitt. When all is said and done, if UC runs the table, it'll likely have beaten seven bowl bound teams and two teams in Rutgers and Putt that will likely end up 10-2.

If Alabama loses to Auburn but beats Florida, I don't have a problem putting the Tide in the BCS Championship game to face the Longhorns. Beating the No. 1 team in the nation would make up for the loss to the Tigers, while losing on the road in a big rivalry game is almost forgivable. However, the Tide would have to be impressive in the win over the Gators. If Florida loses at home to Florida State, it's out. That's too tough a sell.

With that said, I think TCU is better than Cincinnati, but the Bearcats would get in on the deserve factor. Boise State isn't in the picture unless a slew of upsets start to kick in.

Richard Cirminiello 

Q: If Texas loses a game, who deserves to be in? An undefeated Cincinnati, undefeated TCU, or undefeated Boise State? If Alabama loses to Auburn, but beats Florida, who should play Texas? And if Florida loses to FSU but beats ‘Bama?

A: First off, to help untangle this mess, I'd remove Boise State from the equation. Terrific program and a terrific season, but winning the WAC does not rise to same level as sweeping through the Big East or the Mountain West. If your signature moment is a Sept. 3 win over Oregon before the Ducks gelled, how can you possibly be considered for a spot in the national championship game?

TCU or Cincinnati? Cincinnati or TCU? It's virtually a dead heat between schools that are winning games by an average of at least 20 points and have a non-conference win over a current Top 25 team. The difference, and it's miniscule, is that navigating the Big East is a little tougher than navigating the Mountain West this season. While neither Utah nor BYU is as tough as it was a year ago, Pitt is markedly better, South Florida and West Virginia are always prickly, and that rout of Rutgers looks better every week. Plus, staying unbeaten would mean beating a top 10 Panther team at Heinz Field on the final weekend, easily the most impressive win either school would be able to boast.

To the second part of the question, I'd give the nod to a one-loss Florida or Alabama that goes on to win the SEC championship. If the goal is to pair up the two best schools in Pasadena in January, I remain convinced that the SEC winner is one of those two teams, even if stumbles on the way to Atlanta. Unpopular, I know, but competition has to be a factor in this type of discussion. And if you believe that Cincinnati, TCU, or Boise State would still be unbeaten if it played the Gators' or Tide's schedule, you're fooling yourself. Now, I wouldn't rant and rave if the Horned Frogs or Bearcats got its shot for a national championship, but if you beat undefeated Alabama (or Florida) on a neutral field on Dec. 5, I'm convinced you're one of the two best schools in the country.

Matt Zemek

Q: If Texas loses a game, who deserves to be in? An undefeated Cincinnati, undefeated TCU, or undefeated Boise State? If Alabama loses to Auburn, but beats Florida, who should play Texas? And if Florida loses to FSU but beats ‘Bama?

If the winner of the SEC Championship Game loses before reaching Atlanta, or if Texas stumbles in the coming weeks, the only fair way to resolve such a debate would involve a playoff.

That's the first, second, third, and last thing to say about the mess we could have if something screwy happens to the Gators, Tide or Longhorns.

But of course, we don't have a playoff, so on with reality as it is...

If a team must play in the national championship game, two things must be said:

1) Based on performances up to this point, TCU and Cincinnati both merit very strong consideration. Boise State's lack of schedule heft - albeit something the Broncos are trying hard to resolve in future years (cowardly power-conference schools are shamefully denying Boise State's repeated overtures, which is a complete joke) - is too obvious to ignore. Boise lacks even one really solid road victory. No, Fresno State doesn't count... not after the Bulldogs got eviscerated by Nevada on Nov. 14.

TCU has a nice win at Clemson, but Cincinnati has an even better road win at Oregon State. TCU, though, also played Virginia, SMU, and FCS-based Texas State in its other out-of-conference games (one could do much worse), while Cincy tackled Fresno, Miami-Ohio, and FCS-based Southeast Missouri State. The non-conference schedules are pretty even, then, but TCU merits a paper-thin edge.

In conference play, the bodies of work are very similar as well. TCU has beaten two halfway-decent opponents in BYU and Utah, but let's be clear: This year's versions of the Cougars and Utes are nothing to write home about. BYU specializes in home-field face-plants, while Utah has often looked lost without Brian Johnson, the ballsy field general who made everything come together for last year's team, which deserved a share of the national championship (in the absence of a playoff, of course).

In Big East play, Cincinnati took down West Virginia - schizophrenic, up and down, can't-string-together-any-drives West Virginia - along with South Florida, Connecticut and Rutgers. All those of those teams have played well at times this season, but that collection of clubs would not be confused with a murderer's row. The conference portion of the slate puts TCU and Cincy on very even footing, so the tiny edge in non-conference action gives the Horned Frogs, at this point in time, the lead over the Bearcats.

2) If Pittsburgh wins at West Virginia on Nov. 27, and Cincinnati goes into Heinz Field and punks the Panthers on Dec. 5, the pendulum swings to Brian Kelly's crew. If Pitt loses the Backyard Brawl and Cincinnati beats Dave Wannstedt's boys, the race between the Frogs and the Cats would be a flat-footed tie.

I'll keep banging this drum from a TCU/Boise State perspective: The commissioners of the Mountain West, Western Athletic, and Pac-10 Conferences (especially new Pac-10 boss Larry Scott) need to create their own answer to the SEC and Big 12 title games on the first weekend of December: Have the champions of the three leagues and one at-large second-place team compete in two made-for-TV games. Call the event the Western Football Classic. Play one game in Phoenix on the first Friday night of December, and one game in Denver on the first Saturday afternoon of December. Give your teams exposure, publicity, and a fat schedule boost just before the BCS Selection Show. TCU and Boise State could sure use games against Oregon and Stanford, don't you think?

Michael Bradley

Q: If Texas loses a game, who deserves to be in? An undefeated Cincinnati, undefeated TCU, or undefeated Boise State? If Alabama loses to Auburn, but beats Florida, who should play Texas? And if Florida loses to FSU but beats ‘Bama?

If the BCS powers don't get the dream matchup they want (SEC vs. Texas), and they want to pit the best remaining school against the survivor (questionable), then Saturday provided the answer: Texas Christian. Granted, Utah isn't Florida or Alabama, but the Utes came into the game with just one loss, a sturdy (or so they thought) defense and a near-miss at Oregon. All TCU did was obliterate Utah and lock down the Mountain West title. You might sneer at that and think that winning a "mid-major" championship, but let's be honest about it: The Big East isn't much better. Neither is the Big Ten. And don't go talking about the ACC, either. Beyond Georgia Tech, it's a mess. If TCU finishes 12-0, it gets the nod over Cincinnati and Boise State.

First up, the Horned Frog defense is nastier than either of the other teams' editions. The Bearcats have rebounded nicely from the loss of 10 starters from last year's team, but this year's unit is ranked 34th overall. TCU is fourth. And don't give me the Broncos' and their 12th-ranked group. The WAC is awful, so it's pretty easy to shut that group down. Only BSU hasn't lately, as evidenced by the 35 points it surrendered to a woeful Louisiana Tech team and the 25 it gave up last week against Idaho. As for offense, it's true the Frogs aren't as high an octane power as the other two, but in a year that is being known more for defense than anything else, piling up the points isn't a necessity. Anyway, putting up 55 on the Utes shows TCU can bring it when it has to.

There are those who have sentimental ties to Boise State because of the Broncos' long service to the mid-major cause and Fiesta Bowl win. And Cincinnati has followed up last year's great performance with an equally good 2009 to date. But the WAC isn't the Mountain West. And the Big East is on a par with the MWC. Defense wins championships, and it's hard to find one better than TCU's. The Frogs are the call.