BCS: Horns Come in at No. 10

Texas is No. 10 in the initial BCS rankings released Monday while Oklahoma is No. 1.

What a difference a second half in Dallas makes, not to mention strength of schedule and all those other tidbits of data that are analyzed, processed and decreed by seven computers that represent one-quarter of the BCS formula used to determine the two teams that will vie for the national title at the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl in Tempe, Arizona January 4th.

A team’s lowest ranking among the seven computers is eliminated (as has been margin of victory this season) in determining a team’s composite BCS score.

And who knows? Maybe if experts keep tweaking with the BCS formula, the day will come when you’ll get a sense that the top two teams are actually competing for the championship. And for all the rhetoric you hear from head coach Mack Brown about the national champion having "one, maybe two losses" this year, I wouldn’t be surprised if there are three undefeated teams -- but only two go to Tempe.

Personally, I don’t think Texas has the strength of schedule (30th toughest, as of this week) to be one of the finalists. But Texas does have a solid shot at landing in one of those other glamorous, lucrative BCS bowls (Sugar or Orange). Now, the Horns have to try to accomplish the rest of the season what they could have done in the second half against the Sooners: impress the pollsters and computers enough to where the BCS formula will smile favorably upon them when the final BCS rankings are released Dec. 8.

The formula has nothing to do with bowl selection and seeding. In other words, it becomes almost a worthless formula in mid-December for any team other than those ranked No. 1 and 2. However, a school is guaranteed a BCS Bowl if it wins nine games and finishes in the Top 6. Because of the BCS affiliation with the Big 12, Big East, SEC and ACC conference champs (the Rose Bowl is not a BCS Bowl this season and will host the Pac 10 and Big 10 champ), there are only two at-large openings in the system. This means a team not even listed in the current BCS Top 10 (or even Top 15) can claim a BCS bowl berth by winning its conference championship.

A few things would have to happen for Texas, but first here is the BCS Top 10 with each team’s remaining games:

1. Oklahoma : Colorado, at Texas A&M, at Baylor, Texas Tech, at Oklahoma State

2. Miami: at W. Virginia, at Rutgers, at Tennessee, Pitt, at Syracuse, Va. Tech

3. Notre Dame: at Florida State, Boston College, at Navy, Rutgers, at USC

4. Virginia Tech: Temple, Pitt, at Syracuse, W. Virginia, Virginia, at Miami

5. Georgia: at Kentucky, vs. Florida, Ole Miss, at Auburn, Ga. Tech

6. Ohio State: Penn State, Minnesota, at Purdue, at Illinois, Michigan

7. Wash. State: at Arizona, Arizona State, Oregon, Washington, at Hawaii, at UCLA

8. Michigan: Iowa, Michigan State, at Minnesota, Wisconsin, at Ohio State

9. LSU: at Auburn, at Kentucky, Alabama, Ole Miss, at Arkansas

10. TEXAS: Iowa State, at Nebraska, Baylor, at Texas Tech, Texas A&M

The good news for Texas is that there are some head-to-head match-ups involving nearly all of the teams ranked in front of them: No. 4 Virginia Tech at No. 2 Miami, No. 8 Michigan at No. 6 Ohio State, and No. 9 LSU will likely face No. 5 Georgia in the SEC title game. That should get Texas, if it wins out, at least to the No. 7 spot assuming teams ranked behind the Horns don’t leapfrog them based on strength of schedule.

Here’s what needs to happen for Texas to at least garner a BCS Bowl berth:

1) Texas must win out;

2) Oklahoma must lose twice (an OU loss in the Big 12 game counts as a regular season loss);

3). Notre Dame must lose twice (losses at Florida State and at USC are distinct possibilities) simply because a one-loss Irish team will still get a BCS berth. And the loser of the Miami-Virginia Tech will likely get the other at-large bid if it is that team’s only loss. The computers say Notre Dame has the toughest schedule in the country, and the television networks are salivating at the thought of Notre Dame in a prime-time matchup;

4) You wish Kansas State all the luck in the world, and hope that Iowa State, Texas Tech and Texas A&M can enhance your strength of schedule at season’s end. (It does Texas no good for a team like Missouri to beat the Aggies next month.)

Otherwise, a Texas team ranked, say No. 4 in both the AP and Coaches poll, but No. 7 by the damn computers, would then likely spend the post-season back at the Cotton Bowl (where its BCS hopes took a hit October 12) in a match-up against the LSU-Georgia loser.

Does that excite you?

Me either.

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