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The Day TCU's Title Dreams Died in Kansas

College Football's post season is as lazy and incoherent as the second season of True Detective. And usually, it's just as disappointing. When a championship unfortunately comes down to winning a popularity contest, there's no living down letting a D-List team hang around you. Even after a November victory, TCU couldn't shake the stink of letting the Kansas Jayhawks almost take them down.

Ed Zurga/Getty Images

The 2015 preseason College Football Championship and Conference odds are out, courtesy of Bovada in Las Vegas.

Defending champion Ohio State, with its embarrassment of riches at quarterback, is the odds on favorite to repeat at 11/4.

Tied for second is Alabama and Texas Christian at 7/1.

Kansas, as you'd expect, doesn't even register on the scale, which feels no need to mention anyone lower than a 500/1 odd. However, the 'Hawks odds of winning the Big 12 (10!!) are listed at 300/1. With what we know about the Jayhawks heading into this season, those odds seem downright kind.

Kansas football may be down in the dumps right now, but you don't have to be good to impact the College Football Playoff. You know, the way Kansas did last season.

Just ask any TCU Horned Frogs fan.

TCU is getting a deserved preseason kiss from the AP voters. They head into this fall ranked #2 in the nation. They bring back quarterback Trevone Boykin, who finished fourth in last year's Heisman voting. And they were absolutely robbed of their shot at a national title last season.

Why was that?

Nine games into their 2014 season, TCU was arguably playing better than anyone in the country. Coming off a rout of top 15 Oklahoma State, nearly posting 100 points on Texas Tech, beating top 20 West Virginia in Morgantown, and then beating down top 10 Kansas State, the Frogs leapfrogged (snicker) Alabama into the College Football Playoff rankings' top four. Then they rolled into Lawrence, Kansas on a cold and rainy November 15 to take on the hapless 'Hawks.

Though Vegas deemed them four TD underdogs, interim KU coach Clint Bowen's squad proved surprisingly game.

With Kansas up 13-7 in the second quarter, cornerback Jacorey Shepherd picked off Boykin and took the ball to the house in what could have been a backbreaker had it not been called back for a suspect illegal substitution penalty.

Still, KU QB Michael Cummings tore the Horned Frog secondary up all day. After Nigel King went Randy Moss down the sideline for a 78 yard TD to put the Jayhawks up 27-17 midway through the third quarter, the Jayhawks didn't even need to win. They'd already left a stink on TCU's National Title hopes. In the minds of the fickle College Football voting powers, when a terrible team leaves a skid mark of a competitive game on good team's resume there's no wiping it off.

Last year College Football took an encouraging step forward in giving us an oh so painfully small playoff at the end of the season.

With the limitations of a measly four playoff spots, the Selection Committee still found itself shackled by College Football's undying addiction to rigid exclusivity.

By the release of the first College Playoff poll, it was clear to everyone that Florida State was not the same team that won the 2013 BCS Title. They were sloppy and living dangerously as they stumbled their way through a weak ACC. Even so, they never lost. In fact, going into their Rose Bowl match against Oregon on New Year's Day the Seminoles were riding a nation's best 29 game win streak. It would have been a crime to deny an unbeaten FSU a shot to defend their title.

Problem though, was Baylor, TCU and Ohio State very much deserved a shot at a title themselves. As long as the 'Noles kept winning two of those teams were going to end up outside the four team bracket.

Aside from their struggle to shake Kansas, there were other factors, of course, that hurt TCU. TCU's split Big 12 (10!!) Championship with Baylor hurt them. Ohio State trashing #11 Wisconsin to end their season hurt them. However, had Mississippi State not lost to Ole Miss on the last day of their regular season the Bulldogs, not the Frogs, would have been locked into that #4 spot regardless of what Ohio State did in the Big 10 (14!!) Championship game. That's because the Selection Committee couldn't get TCU off the #4-line of the Playoff Rankings fast enough after nearly losing to the 'Hawks.

And that's a shame, because TCU vs Oregon could have given us a shootout for the College Football ages. Instead we got the Ducks making the 'Noles pay for their sins of mediocrity to the tune of a 59-20 no contest. That game was a turd, complete with Jameis Winston strip sacking himself like like some sort of Charlie Chaplin-esque vaudevillian pratfall.

This all came the day after TCU humiliated one of the SEC darlings, Ole Miss, 42-3 in the Peach Bowl. It was a game in which the Frogs easily could have won 70 - 0. It was 42-0 before the third quarter was even two minutes old. Mercifully, Frogs Head Coach Gary Patterson remembered the school had "Christian" in their name and called off the televised assault and battery.

The limited participation model, which has ruined college football's postseason for a century, notched another victory last year. Unfortunately, until this changes there is no recovery from a late season trip-up the likes of which TCU experienced through two and a half sluggish quarters in Lawrence last fall.

As a 'Hawks fan I loved it. As someone with friends and family living in the Fort Worth area, some of whom even attended TCU, I can't help but offer at least a semi-genuine, sheepishly grinning, "Sorry." I do think KU ruined TCU's most realistic shot at a National Title to date.

As legit a contender as TCU still appears to be, it will be hard to duplicate or improve on what they did last year. They start the season on the road against a Minnesota squad that went 8-5. Unlike last year TCU has to face K-State, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma all on the road before finishing the season against a loaded Baylor, the only team to beat the Frogs last season.

I caught an interview with TCU color analyst John Denton on Soren Petro's 810 WHB radio program last week. He very much believes in TCU's chances to run the table and make it to the College Football Playoff. However, even he admits that last year's soft non-con schedule and the fact that the Horned Frogs play in the slowly dying Big 12 (10!!) conference gave them no room for error in the eyes of the Selection Committee. It's a safe bet the same bias will be looming over the Frogs this whole season.

While College Football continues to let a popularity contest decide its champion, at the least, this ridiculous system never ceases to be hilarious when it allows a 3-9 train wreck like the '14 Jayhawks - even in a loss - to deliver such wide sweeping National Title ramifications on a gloomy November afternoon in a quarter filled Memorial Stadium.

It is what it is. Regardless of the odds, that's why we play the games.


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