Polls And Bowls

It's not Florida, but don't worry Pitt football fans: It's probably still nice in El Paso, Texas in late December.

Pittsburgh (8-3, 4-2), now ranked 23rd in every poll, could get a bid to play in the 75th annual Sun Bowl Dec. 31 at 2 p.m. if it beats Connecticut (7-4, 3-3) in the regular-season finale Saturday at noon at Rentscher Field in East Hartford, Conn. The game will be televised nationally by ESPN.

The Panthers' likely opponent in that New Year's Eve game is Oregon State (8-4, 7-2) from the Pac-10. The Beavers were hammered by Oregon, 65-38, in the state's annual Civil War game. OSU, which would have received the Rose Bowl bid with a win, is ranked 24th in the coaches' poll, 25th by the Associated Press and unranked in the BCS poll after the thrashing.

No matter where Pitt spends the holidays, it will be its first post-season appearance since fourth-year Panthers coach Dave Wannstedt returned to his alma mater.

"We'll worry about that stuff after the season's over,'' Wannstedt said. "The bowl games will take care of themselves after all the games are played. We're going to a bowl game, and that's great for this program. But we have one more regular-season game to play, at Connecticut, and that's our focus.''

Cincinnati earned the Big East title and will get the Conference's BCS bid, likely to the Orange Bowl on New Year's Day against the ACC champion -- Boston College or Virginia Tech.

By virtue of its second-place showing in this week's standings, Oklahoma has emerged from a three-way tie atop the Big 12 South and will play Missouri in the Big 12 championship game.

Oklahoma, Texas Tech and Texas had finished the regular season with identical 7-1 conference records. And since each had lost once to one of its fellow division leaders, BCS standings became the ultimate tiebreaker.

The Sooners' 61-41 dismantled Oklahoma State Saturday to impress the computers and move up one spot ahead of the Longhorns. That probably doesn't sit too well in Austin, especially since Texas beat Oklahoma earlier this season at a neutral site, 45-35.

But since then, Oklahoma has been steadily gaining in the polls (both human and computer). They've won six straight, scoring no fewer than 45 points during that run and topping the 60-point plateau in each of the last four games.

As a result, the Sooners now appear to control their own fate, needing only a win over the Tigers to advance to the BCS title game against the winner of the SEC title game between No. 1 Alabama and No. 4 Florida.

While Texas is being penalized for making the mistake of losing their one game later in the season than the Sooners, the Longhorns are still in a position to make it to the BCS title game; Texas currently sits at No. 3 and could conceivably move up into one of the top two spots should Missouri spring the upset of Oklahoma in the Big 12 title game.

In another BCS oddity, there are four teams from outside the six BCS conferences in the top 12 in the standings -- Utah (No. 6), Boise State (No. 9), TCU (No. 11) and Ball State (No. 12). According to BCS rules, only one non-BCS team is guaranteed a berth by virtue of finishing that high in the standings, which means Boise State, TCU and Ball State are likely going to be on the losing end of a fight with Ohio State for an at-large selection.

Here is a link to all the polls: http://msn.foxsports.com/cfb/polls

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