An early look at championship game, BCS and beyond
Posted: Monday November 5, 2007 11:47AM; Updated: Monday November 5, 2007 1:33PM
Barring a complete collapse by Oklahoma, Texas will not play in the Big 12 championship game this season -- and yet, the Longhorns may have the best odds of any Big 12 team of reaching a BCS bowl game, right now.
Such was the bizarre conclusion I realized while compiling these, the first of my weekly Bowl Projections, which will run each Monday for the rest of the season.
With games remaining against Texas Tech and Texas A&M, the 15th-ranked 'Horns (8-2) seem like a pretty good bet to finish the season 10-2 and ranked in the top 10. If that happens, Texas, riding the momentum of a six-game winning streak, would become a very attractive at-large candidate for the Sugar or Orange bowls.
Meanwhile, either No. 4 Oklahoma (8-1), No. 5 Kansas (9-0) or No. 7 Missouri (8-1) is going to earn the conference's automatic berth -- but your guess is as good as mine which it will be. (For the purposes of these projections, I used each conference's highest-ranked team as its projected champion, which in this case is the Sooners.) Whichever two don't win the title game are going to end their season on a loss -- one in the championship game and one, either Kansas or Missouri, in a de facto semifinal showdown on Nov. 24.
Bowl games prefer hot teams over teams coming off a loss, not to mention teams with the biggest fan bases, which is why Texas -- though it may still be ranked lower than the other three -- could become the preferred choice for the league's second BCS bid.
As always, here are a few facts to be aware of when reading these projections:
Bowls are not obligated to choose their teams in exact order of conference standings. For instance, "Big Ten No. 3" means "third choice of Big Ten teams" -- not "the Big Ten's third-place team."
Only teams currently .500 or better were considered.
Note that a bowl can only select a 6-6 team from a conference if no 7-5 teams from that league are still available. Similarly, bowls seeking an "at-large" team to replace a conference that did not produce enough eligible teams cannot choose a 6-6 team if there is a 7-5 team available. (Feel free to react.)