NEW YORK -- TCU's best chance to catch Oregon and Auburn in the BCS standings came and went, and the Horned Frogs are still chasing the top two.
TCU closed the gap on the first-place Ducks and second-place Tigers, and widened its advantage on fourth-place Boise State on Sunday, a day after a resounding 47-7 victory at previously unbeaten Utah.
"The bottom line is that they put themselves on a different plateau," TCU coach Gary Patterson said of his team after the win over Utah. "They have to finish the season and we can only control what we can control. But I thought they made a statement. Everybody else in the country, when they go into someone else's house in a big game, they usually end up getting beat."
The Horned Frogs' BCS average is .9259 after coming in third in both the Harris and coaches' polls and second in the computer ratings. Oregon (.9638) is first in both polls and third in the computers. Auburn (.9611) is second in the polls and first in the computers.
LSU moved up to fifth overall after beating Alabama 24-21.
Looking ahead, TCU (10-0) appears to have virtually no chance of moving up unless at least one of the top two teams loses. The squads that finish the season first and second in the standings play in the BCS championship game on Jan. 10 in Glendale, Ariz.
TCU's remaining schedule includes games against San Diego State (7-2) on Saturday and at New Mexico (1-8) on Nov. 27, not the type of opponents likely to impress pollsters or computers.
Both the Ducks and Tigers have tougher tests left.
Oregon (9-0) plays at California (5-4) on Saturday. After a week off, the Ducks host No. 18 Arizona (7-2) and play at Oregon State (4-4) on Dec. 4.
Auburn (10-0) is home for Georgia (5-5) on Saturday, then has a week off. The Iron Bowl against No. 11 Alabama (7-2) is the day after Thanksgiving. A victory in either game will earn Auburn a spot in the Southeastern Conference championship game Dec. 4 against No. 24 Florida (6-3) or No. 22 South Carolina (6-3).
As for Boise State, the Broncos (8-0) have four games left that could help them try to track down TCU, but probably won't do them any good in the national championship race unless Oregon or Auburn drops a game.
Boise State plays at Idaho (4-5) on Friday, then hosts Fresno State (6-2) the following Friday. The Broncos' stiffest challenge comes the next Friday at No. 21 Nevada (8-1). They finish at home against Utah State (2-7) on Dec. 4.
LSU (8-1) moves into Alabama's spot as the top one-loss team in the standings. The Tigers will need Auburn to lose twice just to reach the SEC championship game out of the West. The Tigers have Louisiana-Monroe (4-5), Mississippi (4-5) and Arkansas (7-2) left on their schedule.
Stanford, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Ohio State and Oklahoma State complete the top 10.
If the top two hold their ground, TCU and Boise State would be vying for the one automatic bid that goes to the highest-ranking team from the conferences without an automatic berth to the five big-money games -- provided that team finishes in the top 12 of the standings.
With Oregon and Auburn in the championship game, that so-called BCS buster invite would be to the Rose Bowl.
Last season, TCU earned an automatic BCS bid, Boise State was given an at-large bid and the two played in the Fiesta Bowl in Arizona. There's no certainty an at-large bid would go to the Horned Frogs or Broncos this season, even if they both remain unbeaten.
Because of its proximity to Boise State and TCU, the Fiesta Bowl is a natural landing spot for those teams but it might not have room for them this season.
The Fiesta Bowl is locked into the Big 12 champion, unless that team can work its way into the national title game. Also, the Fiesta is last in line to pick at-large teams this season and it's likely to get stuck with the automatic-qualifying Big East champion.
It seems unlikely the Orange Bowl in Miami would invite Boise State to come all the way across the country, especially if Virginia Tech wins the Atlantic Coast Conference and the automatic bid to the Orange. Bowl organizers don't like rematches from the regular season and Boise State and Virginia Tech already played.
As for the Sugar Bowl, which would have the first two at-large picks if Auburn wins the SEC title and plays for the national championship, it always prefers to take an SEC team. TCU could make sense for the New Orleans-based bowl, but Boise State could be a stretch. Especially if a team such as Iowa or Ohio State is available with one loss.