TCU's schedule creates title game hopes

Defensive end Jerry Hughes was recently named a Lombardi Award finalist for his work helping the Horned Frogs shut down opponents by one of the best margins in the country. Getty Images

Before the season started, we took a look at the BCS bowl game prospects for teams from non-automatic qualifying conferences. The trends were clear: in each of the past six seasons, at least one non-AQ team ranked among the top 15 at the end of the year, an average of 12 spots higher than the best preseason rating for any non-AQ team.

We tempered our enthusiasm, however, for a similar feat to be accomplished in 2009. Non-AQ teams such as Boise State, TCU, Utah and BYU were receiving unprecedented preseason praise, but our projection tool figured the lofty ambitions of any of those teams crashing the BCS championship party were just not realistic.

But what we have seen so far this year presents a new picture to analyze -- and one team may just belong in the title game discussion.