Sunday, November 30, 2008

It's Oklahoma ... By a Nose

The Oklahoma Sooners grabbed a narrow lead over Texas in the latest BCS standings today, thus taking the Big 12 South's spot in next Saturday's conference championship game against Missouri.

Alabama ranks first in the BCS standings and will play Florida for the SEC title next week. Florida is fourth in the rankings — but it is widely assumed that, if Florida defeats Alabama, the Gators will play for the national title. If Alabama wins, it is a given that the Crimson Tide will be in the national title game.

For that reason, the SEC championship game is being treated as a national semifinal playoff game.

If Oklahoma beats Missouri, it is also widely assumed that the Sooners will face either the Crimson Tide or the Gators in the national championship game.

But, if OU happens to lose to Missouri, the logical assumption is that Texas, which is third in the BCS rankings and only a hair behind the Sooners, will move up to take the other slot in the national championship game.

I think that's a pretty safe assumption.

So, if you're a Texas fan, you'll probably have to hope that Missouri has the biggest game in its history next week.

That's kind of a dicey proposition.

As members of different divisions in the Big 12, the two schools do not face each other every season — only on an alternating basis. In 2007 and 2006, though, they did face each other during the regular season and, in 2007, they met for a second time in the Big 12 championship game. The Sooners won all three meetings by an average score of 35-19.

Missouri has had some good teams in the last few years, but the Tigers have had something of a split personality this season.

They were competitive against a good Oklahoma State team this year — but they were 1-2 against ranked opponents, and that one victory came at the very beginning of the season against then-No. 20 Illinois, which finished the season unranked and a disappointing 5-7.

The Tigers thoroughly dominated every team in their division except the Kansas team that beat them on Saturday — but they barely got past Baylor four weeks ago.

By the way, Kansas lost to all three of the teams that shared the Big 12 South title — but the Jayhawks would have won the Big 12 North if they had beaten Nebraska on Nov. 8.

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