BCS: Sooners is favored over Texas

Published 12:00 am Sunday, November 30, 2008

By Ralph D. Russo
Associated PressNEW YORK ó A week before the final standings are released and the Bowl Championship Series is already ticking people off.
Oklahoma ó not Texas ó is headed to the Big 12 championship game with an inside track to the national title game by moving ahead of the Longhorns in the BCS standings Sunday.
Texas’ victory against the Sooners in October wasn’t enough to give the Longhorns the advantage in a three-way tie between the Red River rivals and Texas Tech atop the Big 12 South. And that’s sure to leave many in Austin dismayed.
The Big 12 had to use its fifth tiebreaker, best BCS rating, to determine which team will play North winner Missouri on Saturday in Kansas City, Mo.
The Sooners (11-1), who lost to Texas 45-35 in October, barely edged the Longhorns. Oklahoma has a .9351 BCS average. Texas’ BCS average is .9223.
Oklahoma was a point ahead of Texas in the USA Today coaches’ poll and six points behind the Longhorns in the Harris Interactive. The computer ratings preferred the Sooners and that made the difference.
“They don’t have agendas, they don’t have loyalties, they don’t have opinions. They don’t have all the bias that everyone else does,” Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said. “And if you say no one else does, then I don’t think you’re really being truthful.”
So the Longhorns will be watching two teams they beat play for the conference title, rooting for Missouri.
Oklahoma is second in the BCS standings behind unbeaten Alabama. Texas is third and Florida is fourth.
The winner of the Southeastern Conference championship game between the Crimson Tide and Gators is virtually guaranteed a spot in the BCS national title game on Jan. 8 in Miami.
Oklahoma would earn the other spot by beating Missouri. If the Sooners lose, it could open the door for Texas to go to the national title game, despite not playing for its conference championship.
If voters are squeamish about letting a team that didn’t win its conference play for a national championship, maybe Southern California could get a shot at the SEC champ in South Florida.
The Trojans are fifth in the BCS standings with a game to go at rival UCLA.
The Sooners were behind Texas last week in the BCS standings by a tiny margin. The Sooners actually led the Longhorns in the polls, but a week ago the computers had Texas ahead of Oklahoma.
After the Sooners’ 61-41 victory Saturday night against Oklahoma State ó 14th in the latest standings ó and the Longhorns’ 49-9 win over lowly Texas A&M on Thanksgiving night, the polls tightened but the computers flipped.
The strength of the Big 12 South led to this new BCS controversy, with the top three teams in the conference each finishing 11-1.
After beating Oklahoma and jumping to No. 1 in the polls, Texas (11-1) lost at Texas Tech 39-33 on Nov. 1. The Red Raiders (11-1), No. 2 at the time, then lost at Oklahoma 65-21 on Nov. 22.
The lopsided loss dropped Texas Tech way back. The Red Raiders were seventh in Sunday’s standings.
After beating Texas Tech, Stoops touted his team publicly. But later in the week, Stoops passed on a chance make another pitch to poll voters and said the politicking that’s become a part of the BCS was making more coaches favor a major college playoff.
“I don’t think anyone’s been comfortable with this,” said Stoops, who declined an opportunity to be interviewed on ESPN during the Texas-Texas A&M game. “All parts for the last couple or three weeks, it’s been aggravating more than anything.”