TCU is not going to get a playoff bid, and there may not be a New Year’s Six game, either.
But a 10-win season sounds meaningful, too.
“Ten-and-2, it’s an amazing year for these guys for everything that they’ve gone through,” coach Gary Patterson said Friday night after the 28-21 double-overtime victory against Baylor. “It really is.”
The Horned Frogs lost 25 players to injury since spring training, either for the year, for a game or part of a game. Another player left the team. Two others missed three games each because of a suspension.
TCU spokesman Mark Cohen laid out the details:
But for a sixth time in eight seasons, the Horned Frogs have double-digit wins.
“When you see how many injuries we have on our roster, to be able to come out with 10 wins like we did — it’s something you’ll remember better than last year,” said quarterback Trevone Boykin, who missed last week with an ankle injury but played Friday and threw two touchdown passes and ran for another. “We got young guys on the defense, and then veteran guys on the offense got hurt at the end of the season. It was just grind time, try to find a way to win. We’ll remember this season probably more than last season just because of the things we’ve been through.”
Patterson said credit belongs in the “whole building” at TCU, from players on down.
“You just go down the list, through the list of everything that we had, it was just outstanding — coaches, the support staff, it’s been the whole-building success story,” he said. “Between our trainers, equipment guys, strength coaches, everybody doing what they were supposed to do, how they were supposed to do it. Nobody lost faith in what was going on.”
TCU’s bowl reward remains up in the air, and will be for another week.
But here is what is known: If Big 12 champion Oklahoma goes to the College Football Playoff, the next highest team in the Big 12 standings will land in the Sugar Bowl. That can’t be the Horned Frogs, since under the Big 12 rules announced last May, they would lose a tiebreaker for second to Oklahoma State and a three-way tiebreaker between themselves, Oklahoma State and Baylor. TCU’s scoring differential in the games among the other two would come into play.
But the playoff committee has leeway to go with its rankings when it is placing teams in New Year’s Six games. So anything can happen.
If no Big 12 team goes to the playoff, the champion will go to the Sugar Bowl, and the runner-up has a chance at another New Year’s Six game, the Fiesta or Peach. The next-highest team in the Big 12 is also eligible for any remaining New Year’s Six slot, but there will be competition from other top teams in other conferences.
The Alamo Bowl has the first pick of the non-CFP/NY6 teams from the Big 12, and that’s where TCU could be an attractive choice because of Friday’s victory and a return to health by Boykin and possibly Biletnikoff Award finalist Josh Doctson, not to mention hometown running back Aaron Green and overtime-hero linebacker Ty Summers.
The Russell Athletic Bowl picks a Big 12 team after the Alamo Bowl. After that, it’s the Texas Bowl, then the Liberty Bowl, as explained on the Big 12 website.
“Having a 10-win season is awesome, man,” Boykin said. “It changes what bowl we go to. It changes things for next year with this football team. All the adversity, to be able to find 10 wins and have not as many starters as we started with during camp, it’s crazy. The fight in this team is really just unbelievable.”
The Horned Frogs have never played in the Alamo or Russell Athletic (formerly Citrus Bowl) games. So they can add to school history. And they can reach 11 wins for the 10th time.
But even for a few moments, don’t the Horned Frogs wonder what could have been with a little more health this year?
“You can’t just dwell on the past,” Boykin said. “It’s all about the next game and the next opportunity. We’re happy to be sitting where we’re at. We wish things could have gone better. We wish we could have had more guys. At the end of the day, you’re not going to hear us complain. Right now, we’re just an excited football team.”