After a weekend of upsets, TCU moved up three spots to No.4 in the College Football Playoff (CFP) Committee’s second rankings released Tuesday.
TCU (9-0) trails No.1 Georgia (9-0), No.2 Ohio State (9-0), and No.3 Michigan (9-0). The Horned Frogs are one spot ahead of the committee’s previous No.1 Tennessee (8-1), which dropped to No.5 after a loss to Georgia.
No.6 Oregon (8-1), No.7 LSU (7-2), and No.8 USC (8-1) follow behind Tennessee, while No.9 Alabama (7-2) and No.10 Clemson (8-1) were ranked in the top six last week but lost this weekend and dropped.
In the Big 12, TCU was not the only school in the conference to move up the ladder; Texas (6-3), following a ranked win over Kansas State (6-3), was placed at No.18. Kansas State was placed at No.19.
The committee cited TCU’s defense and need for fourth-quarter comebacks for their No.7 spot last week. However, selection committee chairman Boo Corrigan said that was now the Horned Frogs’ best selling point after they trailed entering the fourth quarter but rallied past Texas Tech (4-5) this past weekend.
“They’ve got six wins over teams that are .500 or better,” Corrigan told ESPN’s selection show. “They’re averaging 43 points a game. As you know, we value wins. They continue to find a way to win and not give up those points in the second half, and it really was impactful to the committee.”
Still, a challenge remains for TCU to stay in one of the four playoff spots. The Horned Frogs are considered the underdogs for the road night game at No.18 Texas this Saturday.
They follow that game with a road trip to play Baylor (6-3), another Big 12 title contender that was left out of the top 25.
The Horned Frogs will have the opportunity to clinch a Big 12 Championship appearance with a victory over the Longhorns or Baylor. Still, even though Texas has three losses, the Longhorns are the betting favorite over TCU.
First-year Head coach Sonny Dykes knows his Horned Frogs have a challenging task in front of them.
“I have a lot of faith in the committee that they’re going to recognize teams that continue to win,” Dykes told ESPN’s selection show. “We haven’t always won pretty. There’s been some struggles. We’ve had to make some second-half comebacks.”
Dykes called the Big 12 the best conference “top to bottom” in the country and noted the remaining road trips to Texas and Baylor.
Still, TCU moving into the top four is validation for its undefeated season. The 9-0 start is the first for TCU since the 2010 Rose Bowl team and represents a massive turnaround under their first-year coach from its 5-7 record a year ago.
Quarterback Max Duggan, who was not even the season-opening starter, has garnered some Heisman consideration. Running back Kendrick Miller ranks second in the Big 12 in rushing at 112.1 yards per game.
Dykes praised the team chemistry and buy-in on ESPN.
“Our guys have completely jumped in and they believe in what they’re doing,” Dykes said. “It’s fun to see guys invest in each other and value each other. … I love this group, and they are a blast to coach.”
The committee will continue to update the rankings every Tuesday. The final rankings, including the top four teams for the playoff, will be released on December 4 from Grapevine after the conference championship games.