TCU's regular season ends Saturday but the Horned Frogs' bowl destination is still up in the air.
The No. 18 Frogs (9-2, 6-0 Mountain West) can clinch their third consecutive league championship with a win at 1:30 p.m. Saturday against UNLV (2-9, 1-5) at Amon G. Carter Stadium.
It's an unprecedented feat for the program and one that appeared impossible after the Frogs' 3-2 start. So what will be TCU's reward for another 10-win season? The most likely destinations are the Las Vegas Bowl, the Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego or the Independence Bowl in Shreveport.
But TCU athletic director Chris Del Conte said the Las Vegas Bowl, which gets the first pick among MWC teams, is still an option despite numerous reports out of Boise that the Broncos are destined for Las Vegas. Of course, the situation changes if No. 6 Houston loses at home Saturday to No. 24 Southern Miss in the Conference USA championship game.
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The Cougars (12-0) are bound for their first BCS bowl berth with a victory. A Houston loss would give TCU a shot at a third consecutive BCS bowl berth, provided the Frogs defeat UNLV and move up two spots to at least No. 16 in the final BCS standings, which will be released at 7:15 p.m. Sunday, along with all the BCS bowl matchups.
"I think you have to go take care of your own business," TCU coach Gary Patterson said during his Tuesday media luncheon. "You can't worry about the other score. I think the fans will see the score and we'll know that answer by the cheer if they're behind. But I'm not going cheer against Houston. I would never vote against Houston. I know how hard it was for us to get where we wanted to get to. It doesn't mean that I don't want another opportunity to go back and play in another [BCS] bowl game again.
"I've always felt the football gods are going to take care of who deserves to get there. You can try to change those rules up, but they'll hurt you down the road. Everything usually turns out the way it's supposed to."
If Houston wins Saturday, TCU is likely to know its destination later that evening, Del Conte said.
The most attractive game for TCU looks like Las Vegas against a Pac-12 opponent such as Arizona State.
Western Athletic Conference champion Louisiana Tech has accepted an invitation to play in the Poinsettia Bowl. The Independence Bowl pits a MWC team against an ACC team, most likely North Carolina.
Attendance is a major factor when the MWC and its bowl partners decide matchups. The short drive to Shreveport would be convenient for Frogs fans. This is one reason why TCU, which has already clinched a share of the league title, hasn't assumed it is headed for Vegas.
"It is very difficult for any bowl to pass on a 10- or 11-win team," said Bruce Binkowski, the Poinsettia Bowl's executive director. "That's why we are looking seriously at Boise or TCU."