TCU's Top 4 spot in jeopardy after escaping Kansas with a 34-30 win

Graham Watson

TCU coach Gary Patterson knew there was potential for a letdown this week against Kansas; he’d been through something similar before.

His Horned Frogs, coming of a big win against Kansas State that vaulted them into the top four of the College Football Playoff standings, escaped Lawrence with a 34-30 win, but just getting a win won’t do them any favors when it comes to a College Football Playoff rankings committee that’s looking for style points against weaker competition.

Kansas led by as many as 10 at two different points in the game before TCU rallied in the second half and pulled out the victory. But the game was full of mistakes and turnovers, including a key fumble midway through the fourth quarter that put Kansas on the TCU 10-yard line down a touchdown. The TCU defense held and forced a field goal that resulted in the final score.

TCU came into the game a four-touchdown favorite. Kansas has just one Big 12 win this year and had been unceremoniously beaten by almost every other foe it faced. But TCU was lackadaisical. It strolled into Lawrence like a team that thought it could just show up and win, and now it might lose its top four ranking because of it.

Patterson actually used a similar situation as a bit of a cautionary tale during his press conference earlier in the week.

During the 2010 season, TCU defeated No. 5 Utah by 40 points and turned around and nearly lost to San Diego State the following weekend. At the time, it was competing with Boise State for the coveted nonautomatic qualifying spot in the BCS. The close win dropped the Horned Frogs behind the Broncos for a BCS bowl berth.

There are a lot of one-loss teams behind TCU just itching for one of those top four spots and TCU might have just opened the door to give its spot away. Alabama, which was No. 5 in last week’s rankings, had its way with No. 1 Mississippi State, so it will definitely move into the top four. No. 2 Oregon was idle and No. 3 Florida State plays Miami later in the evening.

Meanwhile, TCU’s newly-named nemesis, Baylor, also was idle, but TCU’s struggle might be enough to vault the Bears or might be enough to keep Mississippi State hanging around.

Bottom line is that TCU got the win. It remains one of a handful of one-loss teams in the College Football Playoff rankings and it still has an impressive body of work even if Saturday’s victory was a less-than-impressive win.

We’ll all just have to wait and see if Patterson’s cautionary tale plays out once again.

Oh, and a side note to that, Boise State went on to lose the Nevada, and TCU earned a spot in the Rose Bowl where it beat Wisconsin to cap an undefeated season.

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Graham Watson is the editor of Dr. Saturday on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email her at or follow her on Twitter!

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