Thursday's game against Utah is as big a game as TCU has played since its revival in the late 1990s. Frankly, it's as big a game as TCU has played since the 1950s. Not since then has a late-season conference game meant as much as this-- a win in Salt Lake City tomorrow makes TCU the frontrunner for an autobid to the BCS, with only two off weeks and one game left to play.
The football stars do not align very often to create a matchup for cartel outsiders with this much riding on the outcome. In 2000 and '03 the Frogs confronted very similar situations, and lost each time. If TCU can pull off the win (bettin' money is split almost evenly), its strength of schedule and media notoriety very likely will push it ahead of Boise State, to lead the non-cartel teams that are eligible for a lucrative BCS bid. The leader gets the only autobid reserved for the cartel outsiders.
A win tomorrow night would mark a new height for the modern Horned Frogs, who have not ascended to eligibility for a January bowl since two-squad play began. (Ironically, it was TCU's last triumph over Texas in 1962 that provoked the 'Horns' coach to support the switch to two-squad play, hastening its arrival.) Gary Patterson's teams have camped out in the BCS rankings, but have never finished a season eligible for a bid. (Although under current rules, the 2000 and 2005 teams would have received the non-cartel autobid, which wasn't created until '06.)
Pregame Press: Kragthorpe says the Utes are lucky UNM ain't TCU; November is the Utes' defining month; SI looks at the four non-cartel teams still vying for a BCS bid; Utah-TCU winner likely will lead cartel outsiders in BCS poll; BCS elimination game; Brian Johnson is inconsistent; Utes' defense (6th nationally) shut down Lobos; Utes rise in BCS poll; BYU wants Utah to win; FWST on top defenses, lots of penalties, Kerley likely to travel; some Ute fans don't like the blackout; focus on Utes' D-ends; SLTrib notes; SportsIllustrated takes note, and says the MWC oughtta have two BCS bids this year; Stewey Mandel ranks both teams in his top ten; Gordon Monson calls the Utes overrated; SLTrib Wednesday notes; focus on McCain; quotes from Whittingham's presser; Patterson's; FWST's Wednesday notes; DMN on the non-cartel leaders' interest in each others' games;
a little shameless sentimentality from a Ute: