Poll position: Horns climb to No. 7

The Horns, after falling from the top 10 and seemingly from the national championship picture following the Oklahoma loss, are back on the fringes of the hunt.

On the eve of the release of the first official BCS rankings Monday, UT, at No. 7 in both the AP and ESPN/USA Today top 25 polls released Sunday, is still a darkhorse for a Rose Bowl berth -- in other words, along with taking care of its own business over the season's final four games, Texas would need a good bit of help from other teams -- and solidly in the mix for a BCS bid.

Only six teams -- Miami, OU, Nebraska, UCLA, Virginia Tech and Florida -- stand between UT and the top of the polls, which combined are one of the components in the official BCS rankings. The Horns fall anywhere from No. 2 (Sagarin, updated through this weekend's games) to No. 19 (Seattle Times, updated through last weekend's games) in the seven component computer rankings available (one more computer ranking is added this week to bring that total to eight), giving Texas an approximate ranking of No. 9 in the computer polls, which combined comprise another component in the official BCS rankings. Several of those polls have yet to release their updated rankings after UT crushed CU, which came into the game in the top 20 or so in all of the different rankings, so the Horns' composite computer ranking is sure to climb closer to the No. 7 ranking the team has in the writers' and coaches' polls.

Need more proof than the polls of UT's BCS standing? Well, two Sugar Bowl reps, along with an Alamo and an Independence rep, attended Saturday's game (the Cotton Bowl sent reps to last week's game vs. Oklahoma State in Stillwater). The New Orleans bowl game, along with the Fiesta and Orange Bowls, will have its pick of the top teams that don't end up in Pasadena in the National Championship Game, and Texas remains on that short list.

Mack Brown said Sunday, though, that he's not going to let his team fall into the look-ahead (or over-look an opponent) trap. "We talked to the team after Florida lost to Auburn about what is happening in college football, (specifically) that you can't control anything but what you do," the head coach said he and his staff told the team. "You can't take anything for granted or get down on yourself. Our guys understand that the only thing they can do is be the best football team they can be and try to beat Missouri this weekend."

Brown said it's "way too early" for the BCS rankings to be an issue. "What we've got to do is to try to win four more football games, period," he said, starting this weekend in Columbia. "What we're going to do is control what we can control and let the BCS fall where it will."

If his team does that over the next four games, the Longhorns' earlier fall in the BCS pecking order will be replaced by a methodical rise and return to near the top. If not all the way to Pasadena, perhaps at least to New Orleans.


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