TCU, SMU HAVE DIFFERENT REASONS TO CELEBRATE
The TCU Horned Frogs are Big 12 Champions and now looking to get into the inaugural college football playoff. The SMU Mustangs, meanwhile, are just happy their season won’t end on a goose egg.
TCU clinched at least a share of the conference championship by finishing off Iowa State 55-3 at Amon Carter Stadium. Having already been put in the No. 3 spot for the playoff standings before the game, it now seems certain the Frogs will be one of the four teams to make the final bracket.
That is likely going to draw ire from Baylor, who were sixth going into this weekend and will now need a lot of help, likely needing to see both Florida State and Ohio State lose to get a shot at the final spot, despite the fact they can still share the Big 12 title and handed TCU its only loss of the season.
The big difference? In the criteria for the football selection committee, head-to-head match ups essentially mean little, because TCU’s defeat at the hands of Baylor counts as more of a “good loss” than Baylor losing to West Virginia. It has also been suspected that Baylor’s decision to hire a public relations firm to plead the school’s case may have actually swayed some voters negatively.
SMU, on the other hand, can’t look at things like that right now. All the Mustangs can take pride in is their season ending on a win – their only win of the season, beating UConn 27-20 in Connecticut.
With the Mustangs scoring the last 21 points of the game to erase a 20-6 deficit, capped by a 70-yard touchdown drive with less than 10 minutes to go in the fourth, the Mustangs can only look at the future and where they can go under incoming coach Chad Morris.
Morris might not be starting with a completely bare cupboard. Matt Davis has shown sparks of being a decent quarterback in just his sophomore year, and especially one that could work under the spread offense Morris is likely to install.
Even then, getting into a playoff isn’t exactly something SMU can hope for in the foreseeable future like their rivals in Fort Worth can, so long as the Mustangs remain in the American Athletic Conference. Under the current system, all the American has is a chance to get the one lone spot in a major bowl game that the “Group of Five” conferences are given. That inability to compete with the power conferences, along with tight admission standards at the school, are supposedly among the reasons June Jones quit the program two games into this season.
Whether or not Morris can get the program out of its current doldrums likely relies on whether Morris can do what Jones, Phil Bennet or many other SMU coaches in recent years could not – successfully recruit athletes from Texas and the Dallas area in particular. His targeting Texas high school coaches to join his staff could be a step in the right direction.
So for now, the desperate fans on the Hilltop are anxiously awaiting for big things to happen on Signing Day in February, while TCU is getting revved up for a playoff matchup later this month.
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