Same Time, Next Year

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It's pretty interesting how BYU and TCU meet one year and one week from their most recent get-together, with the respective roles all but precisely reversed.


It was October 16, 2008 when 6-0 BYU traveled to Fort Worth to face the 6-1 Horned Frogs. BYU was in the Top 10; the Frogs were farther back in the poll pack. This year, the visiting Frogs are 6-0 and in the Top 10; the hosting Cougars are 6-1 and hoping to climb back into the Top 10 mix.

Last year, BYU was the anointed would-be BCS buster from the MWC; this time around, it's TCU carrying the conference's BCS banner, for the time being.

BYU came in to the 2008 meeting with a win over an FCS team (Northern Iowa), an instate rival (USU) and two wins over BCS teams (UCLA and Washington) that looked good at the time, but didn't hold up at the end of the season--the Huskies went winless and the Bruins finished 4-8.

This year, TCU has a win over an FCS team (Texas State), an instate rival (SMU) and wins at BCS teams Virginia and Clemson, neither of whom has a winning record.

Last year, undefeated BYU came in having allowed an average of 10.2 points per game (through six games) before giving up 32 in Fort Worth; this year's undefeated TCU team has allowed an average of 13.7 points per game through six games.

In 2008, BYU preceded the TCU game with an easy conference home win; in 2009, TCU precedes the BYU game with an easy conference home win.

Last season, TCU's only setback before the BYU game was a 25-point loss to Oklahoma. This season, BYU's only setback is a 26-point loss to Florida State.

Last year, TCU had second-ranked Oklahoma on the schedule (the aforementioned loss). This year, BYU had third-ranked Oklahoma on the schedule (BYU's marquee season-opening win).

And I hate to bring this up, but last year's game was televised on Versus; as you know, Versus has this year's game as well, although fewer people will actually see it.


BYU fans are of course hoping that the 2008 script plays out in 2009, because the once-beaten home team ended up thumping the undefeated visitors.


It was a small gesture, but I'm sure the Cougars appreciate Florida State looking like an actual football team for about a quarter-and-a-half last night at North Carolina.

The Seminoles' inspired final 25 minutes carried FSU to a 30-27 come-from-behind win over the Tar Heels--the Noles' first ACC win, and a victory that improves FSU's record to 3-4 on the season.

Simply put, BYU needs the Seminoles to keep winning, to dull the pain and mitigate the damage done by FSU's 54-28 win in Provo.

While it would be dangerous to assume anything about the schizophrenic Seminoles, a five-game Florida State win streak heading into the season-ending Florida game isn't out of the question. The 'Noles next four games are home to NC State (3-4), at Clemson (3-3), at Wake Forest (4-3) and home to Maryland (2-5).

FSU has played well on the road (two of its three wins have come away from home), and say what you will about the 'Noles, but none of their four losses have been by more than 10 points, three of their setbacks have been by a touchdown or less, and the average margin of defeat is only 6.5 points.

Having said that, watching Florida State flounder this season has been weekly salt on the wound for me and for Cougar fans. BYU let a winnable game get away on September 19th, in no small part due to five turnovers on a night FSU played almost flawlessly.

While it's flattering that the 'Noles played their best game of the season at BYU, it's been equally disappointing to see FSU play poorly since. Only time will tell what that one loss will mean to BYU's postseason possibilities, but that game is currently being used as an excuse to eliminate BYU from inclusion among the nation's elite.

BYU needs all of the help it can get in getting back into the BCS picture, and having Florida State play well will pay dividends with the pollsters and the computers. Assuming Oklahoma can steady itself and win some games with Landry Jones, there is still time for the Cougars' resume to regain some its lost luster.

Equally important are BYU's games against TCU and Utah, and assuming BYU is able to win those games and run the table, it may take not only wins, but big wins, to sufficiently soften the blow of the Cougars' lone loss. The Frogs are a Top 10 team, and the Utes may be in the Top 15 when the Cougars and Utes meet next month; ranked wins equal valuable poll and computer points, and the bigger the win the better in late October to mid-November.

Of course, all eyes are on Boise State, and BCS talk is likely moot without a Broncos loss. But should BYU end the season with wins over three Top 15 teams, it would be ironic if such an unprecedented season would end without a BCS bid--only because of one bad night, and/or one team from Boise.


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