SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP)Sonny Dykes appeared to take a veiled shot at the mighty Southeastern Conference on Thursday morning.

The first-year TCU coach later said he was actually trying to pay the SEC a compliment.

The minor kerfuffle happened when Dykes started discussing the toll of TCU’s schedule this season. The Big 12 plays a nine-game conference schedule and the Horned Frogs had to play 10 straight games in 10 weeks against conference schools, counting the Big 12 championship, which they lost to Kansas State.

The SEC plays an eight-game conference schedule.

”You’re not going to catch The Citadel in Week 10,” Dykes said of the Big 12 gauntlet. ”We caught Texas.”

No. 3 TCU (12-1) faces No. 2 Michigan (13-0) on Saturday in the College Football Playoff semifinal game at the Fiesta Bowl.

It’s true that some SEC schools use the extra nonconference game to slide an easier contest into the back end of the schedule. For instance, LSU played UAB in Week 10. Alabama took on Austin Peay in Week 11.

But others – like defending CFP champion and this year’s No. 1 seed Georgia – used the nonconference break to face another Power Five school in rival Georgia Tech.

Dykes said the point he was trying to make was the nine-game conference schedule changes things. He complimented the SEC on ”taking care of their teams and being really smart.”

The SEC is certainly doing something right – 12 of the past 16 national champs have been from the conference.

”No. 1, they’re very good football teams, and No. 2, they do a really good job of scheduling,” Dykes said. ”They’re really smart about how they schedule, who they schedule and when they schedule. The eight conference games is a huge deal. Sometimes I think that goes undiscussed and unevaluated in terms of the impact on other leagues when they play nine games and that league’s playing eight.

”But again, you’ve got to take your hat off to the SEC. They’re doing it the way they want to do and understand the big picture.”

FOLLOWING LSU’S PLAN

LSU threw for 502 yards in losing to Georgia 50-30 in the Southeastern Conference championship game on Dec. 3. The Tigers set the high mark for points, passing yards, total offense (542) and first downs (23) allowed by the Bulldogs this season.

So it’s no surprise Ohio State fielded many questions about possibly following the LSU game plan when the fourth-ranked Buckeyes meet No. 1 Georgia on Saturday in the CFP semifinals at the Peach Bowl.

There’s just one problem with that line of thinking, according to Buckeyes offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson.

”You look at those stats, but the result of the game was (Georgia) won the game by 20,” Wilson said. ”So that wasn’t necessarily the formula to win the game and make plays in both phases, third-down conversions, short-yard conversions.”

Added Wilson: ”We have to find ways to not only have yards passing and running. We gotta find a way to get the ball to the end zone if we want a chance to win this game.”

GEORGIA HIGHLIGHTS TEs

Georgia’s Brock Bowers won the John Mackey Award as the nation’s top tight end.

The Bulldogs highlight more than one tight end, however.

While Bowers leads the Bulldogs with 52 catches for 726 yards and six touchdowns, he often lines up in two-tight end sets with the massive Darnell Washington, who is 6-foot-7 and 265 pounds.

Washington has 26 catches for 417 yards and two touchdowns and is a strong blocker.

”I think most of the offense circles around him because he’s basically a sixth lineman that can run routes and catch balls,” Bowers said of Washington. ”He’ll go road grade anybody in front of (him), but he can also have the finesse to go in and grab it off someone’s head.”

HARBAUGH & LASSO

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh pondered an unusual question on Thursday: What coaching philosophies do you take from Ted Lasso?

Ted Lasso is the name of the fictional American college football coach who is hired to take over an English soccer team in the hit television series that shares the same name as the coach.

Turns out Harbaugh is a fan.

”Everything’s perfect,” Harbaugh said. ”It’s my favorite TV show, right up there with the Rockford Files. Just so good. There’s a lesson in every show, whether a life lesson or a coaching lesson, that’s what I take from Ted Lasso.”

AP Sports Writer Charles Odum in Atlanta contributed to this report.

AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25 Sign up for the AP’s college football newsletter: https://apnews.com/cfbtop25