Oklahoma scored one of its biggest victories Sunday in its bitter rivalry with Texas without taking the field. The Sooners passed the Longhorns in the BCS standings, moving to No. 2 overall, and grabbed the accompanying berth in Saturday’s Big 12 Championship Game.
Under Big 12 bylaws, the South Division co-champ that finished highest in Sunday’s BCS standings _ Oklahoma (11-1, 7-1), Texas (11-1, 7-1) or Texas Tech (11-1, 7-1) _ earned the division’s spot in the Big 12 title game. That proved to be Oklahoma, despite the Sooners’ 45-35 loss to Texas on Oct. 11 in Dallas.
Now, the Longhorns can only watch two teams they defeated by double-digits during the regular season battle for a Big 12 championship. It marks the second time in three years that Texas defeated both participants in the Big 12 title game but failed to earn a berth in the game. The Longhorns did likewise in 2006, with victories over Oklahoma and Nebraska.
Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops was asked Sunday if the Sooners’ climb past the Longhorns in the BCS standings could heighten tensions in the already-heated rivalry.
“It can’t be much more than it is, can it?,” Stoops said.
Maybe not. But consider this: If, somehow, Florida defeats No. 1 Alabama in the SEC title game but does not pass Texas in the BCS standings, there is a mathematical _ albeit remote _ chance for a Texas-OU rematch in the BCS national championship game. How hot would that ticket be?
Also: With an OU loss to Missouri, Texas could wind up playing for a national championship without reaching the Big 12 title game.
In a statement released Sunday, Texas coach Mack Brown voiced his displeasure with his team’s BCS situation but stressed that the possibility of big achievements in 2008 remains.
“I’m really disappointed for our kids that two teams we beat this season
will be playing for the Big 12 Championship,” Brown said. “I’ll try to explain it to them, but most importantly, my message will be that you’ve done enough to put yourself in position to play for the conference championship. You had a great season and there still is a lot out there for you to play for. We’ll wait and see how everything plays out and where the system sends us, then be ready to play our best game of the year wherever that is.”
_ Jimmy Burch