0

Texas not out of national title hunt
AP may favor Longhorns if Alabama falls

NEW YORK - The best chance Texas has to be crowned national champion this season likely lies with the members of the media who vote in The Associated Press college football poll.

The Longhorns are the latest team to feel slighted by the Bowl Championship Series, though the twist this time was coach Mack Brown's team has the Big 12 to blame as much as the BCS standings.

Oklahoma, which lost 45-35 to Texas in October, slipped ahead of the Longhorns in the latest BCS standings and earned a spot in the Big 12 title game against Missouri on Saturday.

The Big 12 had to go to its fifth tiebreaker, best BCS ranking, to break a three-way tie in its South Division between Texas, Oklahoma and Texas Tech. All had 11-1 records. Oklahoma beat Texas Tech and Texas Tech beat Texas.

The tiebreaker not only put the Sooners in position to win the league championship, but a win against Missouri virtually guarantees Oklahoma a spot in the BCS national title game in Miami on Jan. 8 against the winner of the Southeastern Conference championship.

But Texas still has hope.

'There is a lot left out there to play for and crazy things happen all the time in college football so who knows where we'll end up,' Longhorns quarterback Colt McCoy said late Sunday night.

If Missouri beats Oklahoma, Texas is the presumptive next-in-line to reach the BCS title game. The Tigers (9-3) don't seem to be up to the task of stopping the Sooners, who have scored at least 60 points in their last four games.

Missouri is a 17-point underdog, and its only two losses last season were to Oklahoma.

Depending on the Tigers leaves the Longhorns a long shot to get to Miami.

Texas might be better off turning its attention to the AP poll.

If Alabama were to win the BCS title game, the Tide would be undefeated and undisputed national champs. Florida goes into the SEC title game ranked second in the AP poll, so logic dictates the Gators would jump to No. 1 by beating the Tide and stay there if they win the BCS championship game.

Texas was No. 3 in the last AP Top 25, ahead of Oklahoma by eight points. Unlike USA Today coaches' poll voters, who are required to put the BCS championship game winner No. 1 on their final ballots, the 65 AP voters don't have to put the winner of that game on top of their final ballots.

So if Oklahoma wins out, and Texas wins its bowl game, presumably the Fiesta Bowl against Ohio State or maybe Utah, do the 40 AP voters who had Texas ahead of Oklahoma last week - most by one spot - keep the Longhorns ahead of the Sooners when the final poll comes out in the wee hours of the morning on Jan. 9?

The answer, of course, is maybe.

'It's possible I could vote Texas No. 1, but it's far too early to say,' Tom Keegan of the Lawrence Journal World in Nebraska said in an e-mail to the AP. 'I had Texas No. 2, Oklahoma No. 3 and it was a tough call. They are so close in my mind that whichever team plays better from this point forward likely will be the one I rank higher.'

Several other voters had similar answers.

'I would look at it as co-national championship games,' Doug Segrest of The Birmingham News said, referring to the BCS title game and the Fiesta Bowl.

At least two voters, Craig James of ABC and Randy Rosetta of the Baton Rouge Advocate in Louisiana, said if Oklahoma and Texas each win their remaining games, they would keep the Longhorns in front of the Sooners because of what happened at the Cotton Bowl on Oct. 11.

'Sure OU will have beaten (Missouri), but so did Texas convincingly,' James said in an e-mail. 'Then, both schools will have beaten strong competition in their bowl game. So, I can't get past the head-to-head victory by the Longhorns. I don't have to guess or assume anything.'

Glenn Guilbeau of the Gannett Louisiana News Service said he felt Texas deserved the nod over Oklahoma in the Big 12 tiebreaker, but he'd be inclined not to hold it against Oklahoma if the Sooners went on to beat Florida or Alabama.

'Two wrongs,' he said in an e-mail, 'don't make a right.'