Good news-bad news for Horns in new BCS rankings

Texas moved up to No. 5 in the second BCS poll, up one spot from the No. 6 position the Horns occupied in the first poll released last Monday.

Nebraska (2.02 poll points -- lower is better) took over the top spot in the rankings after beating Oklahoma (7.59), which fell to second. Miami (7.71) is third followed by Michigan (11.75) and Texas (14.25). Stanford (14.57), Tennessee (15.37), Florida (16.44), UCLA (18.83) and Oregon (18.87) round out the top 10 while Washington (24.55), Washington State (31.30), BYU (32.73), Purdue (33.93) and Virginia Tech (34.89) occupy the Nos. 11-15 spots.

The ranking represents both good and bad news for UT.

The good news? Texas is just three spots away from a top two BCS finish, which would send the Horns to the Rose Bowl for the national championship game. The bad news? Michigan jumped Texas in the standings despite a squeaker over Iowa and Stanford is close behind UT in the sixth spot and will almost certainly overtake the Horns in next week's poll if it beats Washington this Saturday. The Cardinal also has a favorable closing schedule of Arizona, California, Notre Dame, and San Jose State.

Back to some more good news, though, looking at the teams in the top four spots. The fourth-ranked Wolverines have a difficult closing four-game stretch with Michigan State, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ohio State, any of the four, beginning this weekend in Lansing, could be a stumbling block for Michigan and an opportunity for Texas to take another step towards the top.

Miami holds the No. 3 spot in the BCS despite owning the top position in both the AP and ESPN/USA Today polls, and the Hurricanes still have five games between themselves and an undefeated season. After a breather this weekend with Temple, Miami faces Boston College, Syracuse, Washington, and Virginia Tech, no easy season-ending stretch. A loss in any one of those games and the 'Canes will fall far and fast in the rankings.

At No. 2, OU, despite its 20-10 loss to Nebraska last Saturday, is still sittin' pretty in its quest for a second consecutive title. Wins over Tulsa, A&M, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State would put the Sooners in the Big 12 Championship Game in Dallas, and a win there over the 'Huskers or Buffs would send Oklahoma to Pasadena. The Sooners' QB situation, with UT-killer Jason White injured and Nate Hybl ineffective, casts a bit of doubt on their chances at a closing five-game winning streak. And if OU falls in one of its final four regular season games and the Horns win their final three, Texas will take on the North Division champ in Texas Stadium in early December. Barring a multitude of losses among the top BCS teams, that scenario, with a win over Nebraska, represents UT's best chance at playing for the national title.

No. 1 Nebraska, like Texas, only has three games left on its regular season schedule, at Kansas, at home vs. Kansas State and at Colorado. The Buffs have given the Huskers fits the last couple of years, and with the game in Boulder, this year should be no different. A Colorado upset would help the Horns in a couple of ways. First, it would probably knock Nebraska below Texas in the BCS (again, assuming that the Horns take care of their own business) and it would probably vault a 9-2 Buffs team into the BCS top 15 (they are currently 24th), giving Texas quality win bonus points for its spanking of CU on Oct. 20 in Austin. If the Sooners stumble and the Horns win the South, Texas would be better served facing an undefeated and top-ranked Nebraska team in Dallas.

A couple of other BCS-related notes: North Carolina could help the Horns by winning its final three games -- Georgia Tech, Wake Forest and Duke -- and finishing the regular season at 9-3. If the Heels do so, they will probably climb into the BCS top 15 (they are at No. 23 right now), giving Texas much needed quality win bonus points for the W over a top 15 BCS team. Ideally, the Horns should hope for A&M to win out up until the day after Thanksgiving. That would not only ensure Texas a berth in the championship game (with wins over the Bears, Jayhawks and Ags), it would help the Horns' end of season strength of schedule and possibly give UT quality win bonus points if a 9-2 A&M stayed in the BCS top 15 after the Nov. 23 game at Kyle Field. The Aggies are currently 20th in the BCS standings and close the season at Tech this weekend, at Oklahoma on Nov. 10 and with Texas in College Station.

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