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Baylor vs. TCU: A comprehensive comparison of the Big 12's Playoff contenders

The biggest college football argument of this week, and likely future weeks as well: who's better, Baylor or TCU? Let's get to the bottom of this.

The College Football Playoff field is thinning rapidly. At the moment, Florida State and Mississippi State are in great shape, with Baylor and TCU among the four or five teams right behind them. This means that right now, the Big 12 essentially has two teams fighting for one spot.

In one corner, there's upstart TCU, which has blown all expectations out of the water with an 8-1 start and currently sits at No. 5 in the AP Poll and a likely top-five spot in this week's Playoff rankings. Then there's co-leader Baylor, No. 6 in the same poll with an equal 8-1 record, but with Playoff committee ground to make up.

Who's the better Playoff candidate? Here's a look at both playoff contenders, every which way possible. We'll find a winner yet, people.


TCU: 8-1 (4-1)
Baylor: 8-1 (4-1)

Advantage: Even


Baylor 61, TCU 58

Advantage: Baylor

This was a game for the ages, one that effectively proved both teams were ready to put their offenses up against anybody in college football. Baylor gets the all-important W and thus the tiebreaker for Big 12 supremacy, but it was a world-class fight all the way.

Better loss

Baylor: 41-27 at West Virginia
TCU: 61-58 at Baylor

Advantage: TCU

If you are going to take an L, better that it comes against a high-quality opponent and not four-loss (and counting) West Virginia, right? And by double digits, no less. A one-loss team is probably getting left out of this Playoff race, and Baylor's one loss just might keep it out.

Composite computer ratings as of right now

TCU: No. 4
Baylor: No. 8

Advantage: TCU

These dozens of computers also combine to rank Florida State No. 7, for what it's worth.

Guessing about bowl games

Baylor: Sugar Bowl vs. No. 1 seed Florida State
TCU: Cotton Bowl vs. Ohio State

Advantage: Baylor

Mr. Kirk?

The Bears hold two trump cards over the Frogs, both of which the committee has stated will be important: a head-to-head win over TCU and a potential Big 12 championship as a result of that head-to-head win [depending on whether the committee accepts the Big 12's declaration that an 11-1 Baylor would be the champ].

If both teams finish with the same 11-1 record, which is becoming sort of likely, TCU would have the schedule strength advantage, but two advantages are more than one, in my opinion. That's assuming what the committee's told us about itself holds true.

Heisman contender QB

Baylor: Bryce Petty: 2,421 yards passing, 21 TDs, 3 INTs; 103 yards rushing, 3 TDs
TCU: Trevone Boykin: 2,691 yards passing, 23 TDs, 4 INTs; 546 yards rushing, 7 TDs

Advantage: TCU

Petty's slightly more efficient as a passer, but Boykin's overall production and skill as a runner win out here. Both QBs are on the fringe of the Heisman picture right now, but a strong November coupled with some rough days for the players in the lead could push either into serious contention. The committee just might take notice of who's got the best player having the best season when it comes time to fill out the ballots.

Week 11 blowout

Baylor: 48-14 at then-No. 15 Oklahoma
TCU: 41-20 vs. then-No. 7 KSU

Advantage: Push

Now that it's clear TCU and Baylor are fighting with one another for positioning and can't count on the other to lose any time soon, the need for resume wins is clear. Both showed out in a big way on Saturday. Before the season, anyone would have taken a 34-point win at Oklahoma over a 21-point home win over KSU, but it's been OU that has disappointed, while KSU looked like the potential spoiler. So while forcefully dismissing KSU from the picture looks better from a strength-of-schedule perspective, Baylor's demolition of a still-talented OU team in Norman (the Sooners' worst home loss since 1997) is stellar in its own right.

Strength of schedule, according to Football Outsiders

Baylor: 62nd
TCU: 61st

Advantage: TCU

There's no single agreed-upon strength of schedule metric, and others give TCU a much bigger edge. The one the committee uses focuses on raw wins-and-losses data. It would also give TCU the edge, because TCU's Minnesota is a better opponent than Baylor's Buffalo.

They'll also each have played the same Big 12 opponents, SMU, and an FCS team. Since their opponents are so common, we can look at ...

Average margin of victory

Baylor: 50.1-21.0 (29.1 points per game)
TCU: 47.3 -22.3 (25.0 points per game)

Advantage: Baylor

Though the committee tries to overlook margin of victory, it takes a great team to deliver a whipping on a weekly basis, and these are two of the best teams in the nation at exactly that. Only Marshall has a higher average margin of victory than either, and as we all know, Marshall doesn't count.

University endowment

Baylor: $1.1 billion
TCU: $1.2 billion

Advantage: TCU

It would be close, but if TCU and Baylor got into a money fight, TCU would come out the victor. Please let us know when and where this money fight will take place so we can assist with the cleanup efforts.

Coach height

Jerome Miron, USA Today

Reverse advantage: Gary Patterson, TCU

Yep, Art Briles is taller. That's his downfall. Nick Saban is very short, and he is the king of coaches in college football. Patterson's not so short that he'll be dwarfed by the College Football Playoff trophy, but it'll be a bit of a struggle, and that's always fun.

Starting quarterbacks in the NFL

Baylor: Robert Griffin III
TCU: Andy Dalton

Advantage: Pass

Let's, uh ... let's not dwell on trying to find a better QB out of these two. Let's just let them sort out what it is they have going on with their seasons and maybe check back in a while. No, don't stare, it'll make things worse. Hey, uh ... Sammy Baugh went to TCU. That's gotta be worth something, right?

That time they played 100 years ago

Nov. 7, 1914
Baylor 28, TCU 14

Advantage: Baylor

Two days after France and the United Kingdom declared war on the Ottoman Empire, Baylor dispatched visiting TCU by two touchdowns at Carroll Field. One hundred years later, the sting undoubtedly remains.

More acceptable chrome helmets



Advantage: Baylor

Chrome is a shiny metal, right? That's the look you're going for? OK, well, a shiny gold metal is gold. One of the best shiny metals of them all! But a shiny purple metal? Doesn't exist. Not what God gave us on this earth, and thus not what God intended.

Whataburger locations per 100,000 residents

Baylor: 3.9 (5 in 129,030)
TCU: 2.3 (18 in 792,727)

Advantage: Baylor

The relative dearth of Whataburgers in the Fort Worth area may be what dooms TCU's hopes, since hamburgers are a valuable source of protein, and muscle is important in football.

Starting quarterback name Scrabble points

Baylor: 22 points (Bryce Petty)
TCU: 25 points (Trevone Boykin)

Advantage: Baylor!

So sorry, TCU! While Boykin's name is worth more points, a perusal of the Scrabble dictionary shows us that "Petty" is the only word out of the four that's an acceptable play. So Baylor takes this by DQ.

Almost anagrams

Baylor Bears: Barely Sober
TCU Horned Frogs: He Forced Grunts

Advantage: TCU

Force some grunts. Do it now. Except if you're in public, because people are going to think you're intentionally evacuating your bowels right into your pants, and "the sports website told me to" isn't going to be much of an excuse. In fact, don't do it around family, either.

Acronym as source of wisdom

Baylor University: BU
Texas Christian University: TCU

Advantage: Baylor

Be you. It's simple, timeless, powerful advice. Don't you ever forget it: just be you.

But tea see you? The tea does not see me. It doesn't have eyes, and I don't appreciate you trying to guilt me out of drinking this relaxing warm beverage. Get out of my face with your lies.

What happens if we replace the first letter of the team name with "T"

TCU Horned Frogs: [No change]
Baylor Bears: Taylor Bears!

Taylor Bears

Advantage and clearly more deserving College Football Playoff team: Baylor