Small Comfort: Non-BCS Horns No. 5 In Polls

Texas gained a spot in the final pre-bowl rankings of the 2003 season, inching up to No. 5 in both the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today polls. Despite its improved bowl standing and its spot among the nation’s top five teams, UT will again be relegated to a non-BCS bowl — probably the Holiday Bowl on Dec. 30 in San Diego — following K-State’s surprise stomping of Oklahoma Saturday in the Big 12 Championship Game.

The Wildcats, now No. 8 in the AP poll and No. 10 in the coaches’ poll, earned the league’s automatic berth in the BCS while Oklahoma, despite dropping to No. 3 in both polls, will receive an at-large bid and is projected to play for the national championship in the Sugar Bowl vs. consensus No. 2 LSU when the final BCS standings of the season are released Sunday afternoon. To limit any one conference’s financial windfall, BCS rules limit conferences to no more than two of the eight Big 12 berths, putting the Horns on the outside looking in despite their high ranking.

Before K-State’s upset of the Sooners, Texas looked destined for a trip to Tempe and the Fiesta Bowl, a first-under-Brown BCS appearance. Instead, the Holiday Bowl appears to be poised to pick the Horns for the third time in the last four years. The San Diego bowl has the second pick of non-BCS Big 12 teams, following the Cotton Bowl. The Cotton is expected to take Oklahoma State (No. 21 AP; No. 22 coaches) with that first pick. Nebraska (No. 22 AP; No. 21 coaches), bound for the Holiday until Saturday’s events, is expected to drop to the Alamo Bowl.

Nationally, in the other BCS games, the Rose is expected to host a traditional PAC-10-Big 10 matchup between No. 1 ranked USC and No. 4 Michigan. K-State is expected to face Florida State (No. 9 AP; No. 8 coaches) in the Fiesta while the Orange will likely host a rematch of last year’s national championship contest between Ohio State (No. 7 AP; No. 6 coaches) and Miami (No. 10 AP; No. 9 coaches).

Aside from Texas, the only other top 10 team to be stiffed by the BCS is Tennessee (No. 6 AP; No. 7 coaches).

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