Despite KU domination, Horns hold at No. 5

With all four teams ranked ahead of the Horns takin' care of business yesterday, Texas remained in the No. 5 spot in both national rankings released Sunday.

After Miami's near-loss at Boston College -- the Eagles, trailing 12-7, were inside the 'Canes 10 with under a minute to play but Miami got a gift INT and TD return on a deflected ball -- Nebraska took over the top spot in the ESPN/USA Today coaches' poll, dropping the Hurricanes to No. 2. The 'Canes and the 'Huskers remained at 1-2, respectively, in the AP poll. Florida, after its 54-17 rout of then No. 15 South Carolina, and Oklahoma, a 31-10 winner over a fading A&M team, held steady at No. 3 and No. 4, respectively, in the ESPN/USA Today poll. Those two teams, just as last week, are reversed in the AP rankings. Tennessee, Oregon, BYU, Maryland and Washington State round out the ESPN/USA Today top 10, while the AP has the Vols at No. 6, the Ducks at No. 7, the Cougars of BYU at No. 8, the Cougars of Washington State at No. 9 and the Terps at No. 10. Colorado climbed to No. 15 in the writers' poll and No. 16 in the coaches' rankings and Texas Tech moved to the outskirts of both polls, with a chance to jump in with a win this weekend over OU in Lubbock. A Red Raiders triumph over the Sooners, followed by a UT win over A&M in College Station would send Texas to Dallas for the Big 12 Championship Game on Dec. 1.

To get an idea of how ridiculous the above rankings system is, one-loss Florida received two first-place votes in the ESPN poll while Texas received none. Why is that ridiculous, you ask? Well, Florida lost to at the time unranked (and now No. 17) Auburn, which subsequently lost to Arkansas 42-17! Texas lost to then No. 3 (and now No. 4) Oklahoma, which has lost only to No. 1 Nebraska. The only reason the Gators are getting those first-place votes is because they happened to be rated ahead of the Horns in the preseason polls, giving them an unwarranted advantage over Texas in these subjective rankings. Is Florida worthy of first-place consideration with two unbeatens at the top of the charts? Probably not, and certainly no more so than UT.

Another minor but telling rankings absurdity: Tennessee, while remaining one spot behind Texas at No. 6 in both polls, actually gained ground on the Horns in the voting this week, closing to within 78 poll points of UT, down from 83 last week. Why is that ridiculous, you ask? Well, the Vols beat Memphis in Knoxville 49-28 but led in the fourth quarter by just 14 points. The Horns, meanwhile, turned in one of the most dominating performances you'll ever see in a football game, beating Kansas in Austin 59-0. Sure, Tennessee probably picked up poll points from voters because of formerly No. 8 Washington's loss to Oregon State, but regardless, these subjective ranking systems are unbelievably flawed.

The flaws in the BCS will be highlighted tomorrow when Texas, after its dominating performance, will probably fall behind Oregon, which but for a missed field goal with just a few seconds left Saturday in Pasadena by now three-loss UCLA would be bemoaning its second loss. Instead, the Ducks, despite their loss to a good but not great Stanford team, actually have vaulted into a better chance at the Rose Bowl than the Horns. Texas, of course, also has one loss, but to top five Oklahoma. The Pac-10 has somehow managed to create a self-perpetuating prophecy of strength in its conference. A loss by one of the four top teams in the league seems to only bolster the argument for the league's strength rather than provide proof that the top four teams are good, but not worthy of consideration as a national championship-caliber team.

But the Horns are in the position they are currently in -- at the mercy of poll voters who don't watch the games and computer polls that may be even more biased than the ones decided by humans -- because of that early October loss to the Sooners. Winning all the games would have taken their fate out of the hands of chance. As it is, chance will determine UT's fate and thus a team that, along with Nebraska and Florida, may be playing the best football in the country right now may not get to prove it on the field.

The day D-I adopts a playoff system can't get here soon enough, and certainly not soon enough to right the rankings wrongs of this crazy college football season.


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