NEW YORK —The initial news from the BCS standings looked good for Texas. The long-range forecast, however, favors Oklahoma.
The Longhorns stayed ahead of the Sooners on Sunday—but not by much—and moved into the coveted second spot in the standings, thanks to a better computer rating.
The Sooners surged in the standings on the strength of a 65-21 victory against Texas Tech, which dropped to seventh place.
“This was a good week for Oklahoma,” said Jerry Palm, an independent BCS analyst and blogger, in a telephone interview. “It wasn’t really to be expected that they’d catch Texas this week.”
Alabama remained on top of the standings, a comfortable No. 1 in both the USA Today coaches’ poll and Harris poll, and best according to the computers. The Crimson Tide are two wins away from playing for their first national title since 1992. The Tide plays Auburn on Saturday and Florida in the Southeastern Conference title game.
Texas is close behind Oklahoma in both polls, but has the second-best computer rating. The Longhorns’ BCS average is .9209 out of a possible 1.000.
Oklahoma is at .9125. But the Sooners have a road game against Oklahoma State (9-2) on Saturday that—if they win—should boost their computer score and likely sway a few more voters their way.
Texas plays Texas A&M (4-7) on Thanksgiving, a game that will weigh down the Longhorns’ strength of schedule—a vital part of the computer ratings—and won’t give voters much reason to move them up.
“I don’t think this week was good news for Texas,” Palm said of Sunday’s standings. “Oklahoma can only get better in all three parts of the formula and Texas can’t.
“I would expect if Oklahoma wins next week they’d finish ahead of Texas.”
That’s important because the Big 12 South division title will be decided by the BCS standings if Texas, Texas Tech and Oklahoma finish in a three-way tie.
“We’re happy to see that we’re still in the BCS conversation,” Texas coach Mack Brown said. “We talked to the team briefly about that after practice today, like we do every Sunday, but after that, we decided with the kids and everyone in the program that we need to turn all of our attention to Texas A&M. None of it matters if we’re not ready for the Aggies so after our discussion today, there will be no more talking about the BCS until after the game.”
Florida (.8755) is in fourth, but the Gators still control their own destiny, too. If Florida wins at Florida State on Saturday and beats ‘Bama for the SEC title, Tim Tebow and the Gators will be back in the national championship game for the second time in three seasons.
Southern California (.7974) is in fifth place, but with one less team to jump after the Red Raiders were handed their first loss of the season.
Utah was in sixth, but the Utes are just waiting to find out what BCS game they’ll play in.
Utah finished its perfect regular season with a 48-24 victory against BYU on Saturday that gave the Utes the Mountain West Conference championship.
Teams from the MWC and four other conferences without an automatic bid to the BCS earn a guaranteed spot in the four big-money bowl games by finishing in the top 12 of the final BCS standings. Utah is safe.
That means Boise State, which is in ninth place, is probably out of the BCS mix, even if the Broncos remain undefeated. Boise State would be eligible for an at-large bid, but that isn’t likely.
Eighth-place Penn State locked up the Big Ten’s BCS spot and is likely heading to the Rose Bowl.
Oregon State, in 17th place, could be next to earn a BCS bid, taking the Pac-10’s automatic spot in the Rose Bowl if it beats Oregon on Saturday.
Sixteenth-place Cincinnati is also a win away from locking up a BCS bid and its first Big East title. The Bearcats face Syracuse at home on Saturday.