TCU begins its final week of the regular season with its four biggest games of the year. The Horned Frogs trail Oklahoma State by a game in the Big 12 Conference race with three league games remaining.
Even the nonconference game against UT Arlington (27-25) at 6:30 Tuesday night at Lupton Stadium is important for the Frogs, who still have a shot at earning their first national seed.
TCU (36-14) finishes with a three-game series at Baylor (22-27) beginning Thursday, and OSU finishes with three games against Oklahoma — one in Oklahoma City and two in Tulsa.
“Because of the way we’ve played the last month and a half, we’ve put ourselves in position where anything is possible,” TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle said. “We’ve put ourselves in the conversation. But as we’ve seen in the past, the margin for error is very small.”
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That means all TCU can worry about is winning its final four games and hope the Cowboys get tripped up by their rivals.
Weather also could be an issue. Heavy rain hit Fort Worth on Monday, and there is a 30 percent chance of rain for Tuesday.
A rainout probably would be just fine with Schlossnagle and Mavericks coach Darin Thomas. The Mavs finish the regular season with a three-game series against Texas State beginning Thursday with a chance to finish in second place in the Sun Belt Conference. TCU, with a ratings percentage index ranking of 12, wouldn’t help itself by beating UTA, which has an RPI of 109. A loss would hurt TCU more than a win would help.
“You don’t know what’s going to separate you from other teams,” Schlossnagle said, referring to the teams ranked higher in the latest RPI rankings, which includes Rice (No. 6), Houston (No. 8) and Texas (No. 11).
But the selection committee also takes into account where teams finished in their conference. So a team such as Texas is less likely to earn a hosting bid finishing lower in the league standings. The Longhorns are tied with Texas Tech at 11-10 in the Big 12. Texas finishes with three games at Kansas State beginning Friday. The Red Raiders finish with three home games against West Virginia.
The Frogs have done a good job of staying focused while winning 20 of their last 22 games. They’ve focused on the next game, Schlossnagle said, which served them well. But the team knows what’s at stake this week.
“If something happens with OK State, we want to put ourselves in a position where we can win the conference outright,” TCU outfielder Boomer White said. “These are the biggest games of the year for us.”