As the college football world inches closer to a repeat of 2007's season of chaos, we've all learned not to put the cart before the horse when it comes to predicting the national championship matchup. These days, when we say there's plenty of football left to be played, it's not some cliche.
(For the first edition of the BCS standings, click here.)
But that doesn't mean the thought of an OU-Texas rematch in the BCS championship hasn't at least cross your mind. The reaction from SEC homers and USC sycophants alone would be priceless. Sooner and Longhorn fans, on the other hand, likely would make the game one of the toughest tickets in BCS history.
How do we get there? Let's take a look at the elements of any plausible scenario. (We're assuming that the pool of title-eligible teams only includes one-loss and undefeated teams from BCS conferences.)
Obviously, the pollsters will have a major say in all this. OU actually appears to have an advantage over other one-loss teams here, because the Sooners currently lead that pack in the polls.
Homerism isn't ruling out Ohio State from playing in the title game. The Buckeyes' demolishment at the hands of USC coupled with a generally weak Big Ten slate do make them a long shot, however. OSU could do OU a favor and knock off the Nittany Lions this week. If PSU runs the table, OU-Texas II isn't happening. A loss, on the other hand, probably would knock JoePa's crew out of contention, again courtesy of the Big Ten's down year.
Working in the Trojans' favor would be an impressive win over Ohio State and the argument that comes up at the end of every season that "USC is the most-talented team and is playing the best football right now." The Trojans must overcome its own weak conference and a bad loss to Oregon State, which lost to Stanford and was blown out by Penn State in Happy Valley. OU should be ahead of USC in the queue at the end of the year, but count on a strong media push behind the Trojans if they continue to stomp their remaining opposition.
(By the way, USC and Oregon State are tied atop the Pac-10 at present. Not sure how the conference champ is determined if both win out. If the tiebreaker is head-to-head record, that would be some sweet irony.)
As is the case with Penn St., Alabama must lose. Even with as poor as Tennessee has played this year, a Volunteer win over the Crimson Tide this weekend is plausible. After that 'Bama heads to LSU on Nov. 8 for Nick Saban's return to Baton Rouge and closes the year with the intrastate tilt with Auburn. Then, there's the SEC championship game, where it would behoove the Tide to draw Florida. The bottom line for 'Bama is that a loss to LSU wouldn't eliminate the Tide, but that's about it.
LSU was thumped by Florida, making a repeat shot at the national crown unlikely. On the other hand, winning out would give the Tigers wins over Georgia and 'Bama. Then, if LSU could get revenge against Florida in the championship game, it would give Les Miles a stronger argument regarding his team's worthiness. Like Ohio St., the Tigers could give OU a big boost by knocking off the Tide in Nick Saban's return to Death Valley.
Georgia will mount its case in the next two weeks, when the Bulldogs go to LSU and then meet Florida in Jacksonville. Say UGa can pull those two off. The Bulldogs then have a sneaky letdown game at Kentucky the week after Florida. At that point, it would probably help Georgia's case if the Bulldogs got to play--and beat--Alabama in the conference championship.
Florida's home loss to Ole Miss sticks out like a sore thumb almost as much as USC's OSU snafu. However, the Gators gained some major respect nationally by destroying LSU. With Georgia and a trip to Florida State still left, Florida can beef up its resume. South Carolina historically has played the Gators tough, so that could be a trouble spot for Florida. Like Georgia, Florida would benefit from a chance to beat 'Bama in the SEC championship game.
The situation in the Big XII is relatively simple. For OU, the Sooners just need to win out, and they should do so convincingly.
Ironically, given that Texas has beaten OU, a rematch between the two would be best served by the Longhorns winning out. First, given the nature of OU's close loss to Texas, the Sooners would have the "best" loss of the once-defeated teams. Second, a Texas loss would throw the Longhorns into the muck of one-loss teams. In that case, the Longhorns probably would be slotted ahead of OU in the queue, while simultaneously tarnishing the Sooners' resume. As such, the chances of getting both teams into the title game seem remote.
If both OU and Texas win out, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State necessarily would be knocked out of contention.
OU missed Mizzou on this year's Big XII schedule. While Mizzou's recent slide has taken the Tigers out of national championship contention, the Tigers still look like the the Big XII North frontrunners. However, should the Jayhawks beat Mizzou in their regular season finale at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, it would make last week's win over KU look that much better for OU.
On the strength of their win over BYU, the Horned Frogs opened the BCS rankings at 14. If the Horned Frogs can win out, that would give TCU the Mountain West Conference title in a year in which the league is considered quite strong. Additionally, that would include a win at BCS number 11 Utah, propelling TCU up the rankings. This would strengthen OU's body of work in the process.
Obviously, arriving at an OU-Texas rematch in the national championship looks like a tall order. In fact, the Sooners need some serious help just to stay in the title hunt. If it was to happen, here's how Homerism would see it playing out:
OU wins out (decisively).
Texas wins out.
TCU wins out.
Kansas beats Missouri. (KU wins Big XII North.)
Ohio State beats Penn State. (PSU is eliminated.)
'Bama loses to LSU.
Georgia beats Florida. (Florida is eliminated.)
Georgia beats LSU. (LSU is eliminated.)
Georgia loses to Kentucky. (Georgia is eliminated.)
'Bama loses to Georgia in SEC title game. ('Bama is eliminated.)