The non-BCS conference teams know what it takes to make it to one of the BCS bowls in January. It is not a secret; they have to go undefeated and beat at least one BCS conference opponent along the way. The BYU Cougars had accomplished this so far this season and had a 16 game winning streak overall coming into Thursday night. It is hard for any team to stay perfect for a whole season, because on any given night your team can have a bad game but TCU dominated BYU and put to rest their chances of breaking into the BCS. BYU had won at Washington and dismantled UCLA 59-0, but they could not stop TCU's offense or pash rush and gave them some crucial turnovers. The Horned Frogs jumped up 23-0 at halftime and never looked back. Now it is the other BCS Buster's turn to attempt to turn BYU's failure into their opportunity. More on possible busters after the break.
Utah currently sits 13 in the coaches poll and 14 in the AP. If they can get by their lesser opponents coming up (Colorado St. and New Mexico) they host TCU on a November 6th Thursday night game. 16 days later they host BYU in the final game of the season. TCU should move up in the polls and I doubt BYU will fall out of them which gives Utah the chance to beat 2 ranked opponents in 2 out of the last 3 weeks of the season. This will no doubt lift Utah into the top 12 which guarantees them a spot in a BCS bowl. BYU will fall behind them, and one of the 5 Big XII teams ahead of them is assured to lose more than once. Utah is defintely in the best position to make a BCS bowl.
Some fun facts about Horned Frogs before the discussion turns to TCU. The Texas Horned Frog is actually a lizard, not a frog or toad. It also has the ability to shoot blood out of its eye up to 5 feet. That being said, TCU coach Gary Patterson has the ability to make the state of Utah bleed out many orafices by the end of this season. With the exception of their previous game where they beat Colorado St. 13-7, TCU has won every game by double digits this year. They do already have one loss which hurts them, but it was to the currently top ten ranked Oklahoma Sooners. The Frogs lost in Norman 35-10, which is not too bad a showing and provides the chance to be pardoned for the loss and be an exception to the undefeated rule. That loss set TCU back to the 24th position in the coaches poll and unranked in the AP. That will chane this week but they have a lot of ground to make up. If TCU can win at Utah and knock off their other 3 opponents left who are Wyoming, UNLV, and Air Force then they put themselves in a position for a BCS argument. The problem may lie in their non-conference schedule which relies on a 31-14 win over Stanford. If TCU wins out though, they do have the ingredients to break into the BCS, but the WAC currently has a team in front of them.
That team is Boise State. You remember them don't you? Amazing that a non-BCS conference team could develop a reputation but Boise has. Right now the Broncos sit 15 and 16 in the AP and Coaches poll respectively, just mere spots from the magic number 12 position. The Pac Ten seems to be the whipping boy for these teams' résumés, as Utah, BYU, TCU, and Boise State are a combined 5-0 agaisnt the Pac Ten. The Broncos' big non-conference win came at Oregon where they beat the Ducks 37-32. They also beat a capable Bowling Green, and Southern Miss from Conference USA. No earth-shaking victories, but very solid. Boise State has Hawaii on the blue field tonight and then four more WAC games leading to the big finale against Fresno State. If Boise runs the table and wins that critical game against the Bulldogs, they will have a claim to a spot in the BCS. The question may be whether the top 12 would allow Utah/TCU and an undefeated Boise State team to be included.
The final at-large hopeful(not that these teams are listed in any particular order)are the Cardinals of Ball State. They are currently undefeated at 7-0 and have non-conference wins over Navy and at Indiana. The Cardinals have been impressive in their wins besting all their opponents by double digits with their smallest margin of victory coming by 12 over Navy. Their only big loss has been at wide receiver where Dante Love suffered a cervical spine fracture in the win at Indiana. Ball State has some tricky MAC conference games left with Northern Illnois, at Miami(OH), and Western Michigan. If they manage to navigate that they still have the MAC title game which if they win that big and remain undefeated they could move up in the polls. Still, it looks as if the Cardinals are the longest shot of these possible BCS busters to make some noise, although their claims would be legitimate.
The road to the final BCS rankings is long and senseless and there is no telling what will happen ahead and even more importantly, how the voters and computers will react. BYU may still be in the hunt even though those that argue that the college football regular season is a "playoff" to get the end result we repeatedly see teams that should have been "eliminated" rise from the ashes and awarded a major bowl invitation. All these teams can do is focus on what they can control, which is the result on their fields of play on that given day. After that, we are in the incompetent hands of the BCS....again.