TCU, Utes continue to climb up polls

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NEW YORK (AP) -- All those blowouts have carried TCU to unprecedented heights in the BCS standings, giving the Horned Frogs hope -- however slim -- of becoming the first BCS buster to break into the national championship game.

TCU took over fourth place in the Bowl Championship Series standings Sunday behind Florida, Alabama and Texas. It's the highest BCS ranking ever for a team from a conference without an automatic bid to the big-money bowl games. No potential BCS buster had ever done better than sixth in the BCS standings.

Florida is first for the fourth straight week, and Alabama and Texas switched spots for the second week in a row.

The Gators and Crimson Tide have clinched their respective divisions in the Southeastern Conference and will meet Dec. 5 in the league championship game. One of them is all but guaranteed a spot in the BCS title game on Jan. 7 in Pasadena, Calif., if they can get through the next month without a loss.

The same goes for Texas, which has three regular-season games and possibly the Big 12 championship remaining.

The other undefeated teams -- TCU, Cincinnati and Boise State -- need the top three to stumble to have any shot of reaching the title game.

The Horned Frogs (.8620) moved up two spots and are just ahead of Cincinnati (.8579) and Boise State (.8125). Each is 9-0 with three games left.

TCU has been rising by racking up lopsided victories. The Horned Frogs have won their last four games by an average score of 44-8.

Meanwhile, Boise State has played close games against Tulsa and Louisiana Tech in the last month, two teams with losing records. Cincinnati struggled to put away Connecticut in a wild 47-45 victory on Saturday night.

TCU is ranked fourth in both the Harris and coaches' polls, and in the compilation of six computer rankings used by the BCS. Cincinnati is fifth in the two polls and third in the computer ratings, while Boise State is sixth across the board.

BCS analyst Jerry Palm said TCU, even if the teams in front of it lose and the Frogs keep winning, still could have a hard time getting into the BCS title game.

Cincinnati from the Big East has a tougher schedule down the stretch and could pass the Horned Frogs. Plus, there's no guarantee that in the end a one-loss team would not get more support from poll voters than TCU.

"If they have to vote for No. 2 are they going to vote for a TCU team ahead of an 11-1 Georgia Tech or a 12-1 Alabama if their only loss is to Florida," Palm said.

The Horned Frogs and Broncos are also competing to earn the one automatic bid that non-automatic bid conferences can earn by finishing in the top 12 of the final standings.

TCU plays Mountain West Conference rival No. 16 Utah on Saturday. A win there for the Horned Frogs could provide even more separation between them and Boise State, which does not have another ranked team on its schedule.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press)

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