Crystal Ball Still Within Reach

The Sooners controlled their own destiny as the No. 1 team in the nation, and then-No. 11 Missouri snatched that away from them in last weekend's 36-27 decision in Columbia, Mo., but they didn't snatch OU's chance at a national championship away from them completely.

And here's why.

For sake of the argument, let's assume the Sooners win out.

Currently, they are No. 9 in the Bowl Championship Series Standings, behind five teams that are in a position to lose and three that must if OU wins all its remaining games.

The No. 1 team in the nation, Auburn, still has to face off against 7th ranked Alabama, No. 4 TCU still has a matchup with No. 8 Utah, and Missouri, now No. 6, even if it wins out, would lose to the Sooners in the Big 12 Championship should OU run the table.

With that said, let's examine a few scenarios that would allow OU the opportunity to get back into the thick of it.

Scenario One: Auburn falls to Alabama in the Iron Bowl, TCU defeats Utah or vice versa and OU, of course, defeats Mizzou in the Big 12 Championship. That leaves Oregon, Boise State, TCU, Michigan State and Alabama as teams that could rank above the Sooners. But Michigan State falls at Iowa this weekend, Oregon drops a game to USC, Arizona or Oregon State. and Alabama loses either at LSU or in the SEC Championship. And then there were three. OU would jump either Boise State or TCU/Utah in the BCS to get into the National Championship. Sidenote: If LSU went undefeated the rest of the way, there would be a three-way tie in the SEC West, and thus Alabama would go to the SEC Championship because they have the best division record. In that scenario, OU would have to have the East Division Champion win over the Crimson Tide.

Scenario Two: Auburn loses to Ole Miss this weekend, TCU defeats Utah or vice versa and OU, once again, wins out. Assume Michigan State falls to Iowa, Oregon loses one of the three aforementioned games and Auburn beats Alabama, effectively eliminating them from the mix. At that point, it comes down to OU, Boise State, TCU/Utah and a one-loss Auburn team. More than likely the Sooners would get the nod over Auburn if they beat a ranked Oklahoma State team and top five Missouri squad in back-to-back weeks, and they would jump either Boise State or the winner of the TCU/Utah game. But if Auburn managed to sneak above the Sooners in the BCS prior to the conference championship weekend, OU would again rely on the SEC East Champion to bail them out.

Scenario Three: Auburn wins out, so all the other teams above the Sooners would have to lose. Since the Auburn Tigers run the table, that takes Alabama out. Oregon falls again to USC, Arizona or Oregon State, while Iowa knocks off Michigan State, and then the Sooners need some help to get Boise State out of the running. Nevada would have to upset Boise State. Then TCU could beat Utah or vice versa, as stated earlier. The second spot in the title game after OU wins the Big 12 Championship would be awarded to either the Sooners or the TCU/Utah winner, but it would almost certainly go to a one-loss Big 12 team even over an undefeated Mountain West team.

Scenario Four: Oregon runs the table, so everything in scenario three must take place except Auburn must lose one of their four remaining games except at Alabama, then turn around and defeat the Crimson Tide. At that point, the argument comes down to a one-loss OU or Auburn and an undefeated TCU/Utah. This scenario is perhaps the most important one with respect to what happens with the rest of Missouri's season. Assuming Auburn only has one loss with wins over a host of ranked teams, including a top five Alabama team at the time, it would be very tough for the computers and voters to keep the Sooners over Auburn. But if Missouri is one of the top two teams in the nation, meaning it must go undefeated until the Big 12 Championship game, and OU knocks them off, that might get it done. TCU/Utah still won't get the nod for the second spot over the Sooners or Auburn Tigers in that scenario.

Scenario Five: Michigan State wins out, which means once again Auburn has to fall from the ranks of unbeaten, either by losing at Ole Miss or Alabama. The Crimson Tide must also drop another game, either to LSU or Auburn. Oregon needs to lose, Nevada must defeat Boise State, and then it once again comes down to the TCU/Utah winner and OU, who would likely be awarded with the final spot in the National Championship.

Scenario summaries: Only one team can go undefeated for the Sooners to get into the big game unless there are two undefeated teams and they are one automatic qualifier and the Mountain West winner. No matter who it is, it's hard to believe an undefeated TCU or Utah would stay above a one-loss OU team. But if two teams don't lose, and it's an automatic qualifier and Boise State, the Sooners would not get in. If it comes down to a one-loss SEC team or OU, the Sooners are in a world of hurt and might need Missouri to win out to give them a BCS Computer Ranking boost. Even then, it might not be enough.

Top allies:

1. USC-- Whoever thought this day would come for Sooner fans after the Trojans pasted the Sooners 55-19 in the National Championship a few years back? But that's just the case, as USC could do a huge favor this weekend in knocking off Oregon in Los Angeles.

2. Iowa-- The Hawkeyes get their crack at undefeated Michigan State this weekend and could get rid of one of OU's biggest threats down the stretch. MSU doesn't play Ohio State and won't see a ranked opponent the rest of the season after Saturday in Iowa City.

3. Ole Miss-- Not the likeliest underdog to pull off an upset benefiting the Sooners, but they could do it in Oxford this weekend with an impressive performance against Auburn. A loss to the Rebels would be detrimental to the Auburn Tigers' chances at a national championship appearance.

4. Nevada-- Could the Wolfpack pull off a stunner over Boise State? It's possible since the game is set to be played in Reno, Nev., and this one would be huge for OU in eliminating the debate of whether or not an undefeated non-automatic qualifier should get in over a one-loss OU.

5. Air Force-- Another team that could really help the Sooners is one they played this year, the Air Force Falcons. If they could beat Utah this week, that would allow Utah to join the Sooner ally forces to beat TCU, and those two Mountain West foes would be out of the race.

6. LSU-- In a strange way, the Tigers from Baton Rouge are a friend of the Crimson and Cream if they can knock off Alabama. Once again, in that scenario the Crimson Tide could help OU by defeating Auburn afterwards. But the danger here is LSU could become a foe if they win out and have help to get into the SEC Championship. That could spawn conversation of whether or not a one-loss LSU is more deserving than a one-loss OU.

So before writing off the Sooners, consider all this.

There's a lot of football to be played and a lot of teams that can still help the Sooners on their way to No. 8.

But the biggest one is themselves.

They must win out to have a chance.

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