The No. 5 TCU Horned Frogs will become big backers of the undefeated, yet still unranked Kansas State Wildcats (4-0, 1-0 Big 12) when they take on the No. 7 Nebraska Cornhuskers (4-0, 0-0) in Manhattan, Kan., on ESPN.
Meanwhile, the Frogs (5-0) begin a three-game homestand Saturday against the Wyoming Cowboys, followed by the BYU Cougars and the No. 25 Air Force Falcons, all seemingly must-win games if TCU is to keep alive its BCS hopes.
Those hopes would be aided by a Kansas State victory tonight to knock the Cornhuskers from the ranks of the unbeaten. The bottom line for the Frogs is if they and fellow BCS-buster candidate, the No. 4 Boise State Broncos, finish the season undefeated, the Broncos are on course to likely get the one automatic bid the BCS grants to the champs of the non-automatic qualifer leagues (there is the thought that TCU could pass Boise in the rankings due to overall strength of schedule).
In the case Boise finishes ahead of TCU in the final BCS standings, the Frogs would be left to cross their fingers for an at-large bid, and the only way that would happen is if only two of the six power conferences get a second team into the BCS.
Here's how it works: Ten BCS spots are up for grabs. The conference champ from each of the six BCS conferences earns an automatic berth. One additional team from each conference can get in as an at-large selection. So, for example, if the Big 12, SEC and Big Ten each send two teams, and Boise gets the one automatic berth for the non-AQs, then there's your 10 BCS teams.
That's right, TCU can go undefeated and play in the Poinsettia Bowl. Boise experienced that buzz kill two years ago and then lost to TCU in San Diego.
So the Frogs will root hard for the Wildcats tonight. If K-State can't get the job done, then TCU will have to hope the unranked Texas Longhorns can get it together and topple Nebraska in Lincoln (Oct. 16). After that the Huskers' schedule is quite favorable.
TCU would also love to see the No. 6 Oklahoma Sooners get upset Saturday by the visiting Iowa State Cyclones. And if not, then they'll hope the Sooners get bit playing either at the Missouri Tigers (Oct. 23), at the Texas A&M Aggies (Nov. 6) or at the Oklahoma State Cowboys (Nov. 27). TCU wants the Big 12 South and North champs to have at least one loss heading into the Dec. 4 title game at Cowboys Stadium, ensuring that one will leave with two losses and likely out of the BCS mix.
Similar scenarios in the other power conferences are also preferable to TCU's quest. Having said all that, the Frogs could benefit from relatively weak power conferences this season. The Sooners look vulnerable. Which is the SEC power team beyond the No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide? How about behind the No. 2 Ohio State Buckeyes in the Big Ten?
If TCU can't help elsewhere, what are the chances Boise loses one of its remaining eight games? The Broncos' most difficult challenge would seem to be the No. 21 Nevada Wolf Pack (Nov. 26). TCU, as of this week's rankings, faces two more Top 25 teams, No. 25 Air Force and at the No. 10 Utah Utes (Nov. 6).
That's the system, folks.