Friday, November 16, 2007

That's Quack-tastic! Big XII in drivers seat for National Title

The Big XII may rank fourth in the Sagarin Conference rankings ahead of the Big Ten and ACC, but outside the top 4 teams, this conference is terrible. And yet, thanks to three ligaments in Dennis Dixon's knee (which I will say, sucks. He was fun to watch.) Oregon's National title hopes are gone, falling on the road at lowly Arizona. (A gift from younger Stoops to older Stoops)

The Oregon loss pretty much assures that the Big XII Champion is going to be playing for the National Title. I thought that Oregon was going to end up getting screwed anyways, because of the strength of schedule and voters boost that the Big XII Round Robin winner would get. As the new #2, #3, and #4 in the BCS with Texas most likely climbing into the top 10 before everything said and done, the Big XII has the most top heavy conference in the country. Am I saying they are the best teams in the country, definitely not. But when you have to get up for three games a season as opposed to every single one in the SEC, it makes it a little easier to run the table.

Assuming Missouri can get a road win at Kansas State this week, and Kansas can beat the streaking Cyclones of Iowa State, the Kansas and Missouri will meet as the #2 and #4 teams in the BCS with the winner moving on to the Big XII Championship game. This is the biggest game the Big XII North will have seen since the Nebraska-Colorado days, if not ever. It is certainly the first time the North has mattered in the last 5 years.

If Oklahoma can survive two dangerous offensive teams that can't play a lick of defense in Texas Tech (in Lubbock) and Oklahoma State (at home) then Oklahoma will be playing the winner of the North showdown for the right to play in the National Championship. If everything holds up, that game will be #2 vs. #3 in the BCS Rankings in a game that will be the first Big XII Championship game anyone has cared about in five years.

What does all this mean for Texas? Well it means that Texas got another fortuitous bounce in their improbable (and undeserving) darkhorse candidacy for the BCS. Oregon might not drop behind Texas in the BCS standings, but if Dennis Dixon is injured I don't think they can win both of their last two games at UCLA and vs. Oregon State. The loss also allows for Arizona State to control their destiny in the Pac-10. If they can win this weekend against USC, they will knock USC out of the BCS and lock up the automatic bid for the Pac-10, exactly what Texas would want. This is getting to the point of silliness as Texas continues to march towards a BCS birth. I still think that if Oklahoma wins the Big XII Title, a 10-2 Texas gets the nod from the BCS bowls because of their fan base, over a 2-loss Missouri or a 1-loss Kansas. Unfair? Yes. Am I going to complain? No.

A few other notes on the Oregon game:

- Was it me or did watching Brady Leaf (younger brother of Ryan Leaf) play just have a sense of impending doom about him? The Leaf cross has to be a heavy one to bare, and while I'm sure he is a talented player, I had a sick sense of enjoyment watching him lose and not comeback in that game. He's a Leaf, you just want to see if he's going to get drunk, yell at reporters, and throw interceptions.

- The Ryan Leaf sideline interview was priceless. For most people I'm sure it was seeing a late 90s celebrity being unearthed for an awkward appearance. However, being in Texas I did know that Leaf had landed on his feet (if you can call it that) as a volunteer Quarterbacks coach at West Texas A&M. While this is just too easy to make jokes about, Ryan Leaf reminds you that before you laugh, they are 11-0, #4 in the country in Division ? and are getting great quarterbacks play. Thank you for that resume reading Ryan, but don't call us, we'll call you. He did a solid job of holding it together and not looking too excited to be back on the football map for his 5 minutes of fame, until of course he told Chris Fowler that he missed him. I don't think I'm the only one that found that to be an extremely uncomfortable moment. If only he could have tried to kiss Erin Andrews.

- Dennis Dixon is an amazing player and he would have cemented the Heisman had he played the entire game, I'm sure of that. However, the collapse of Oregon once he was out of the game speaks volumes about this Ducks team. Many people like to compare Oregon and Dennis Dixon to Texas and Vince Young, and while they are similar players and Vince was the only reason Texas won the National Championship, that Texas team was a lot more talented and I think that without Vince with they could have won with their defense, special teams, and running game against a team in the bottom half of the division. You would have liked to see more from Oregon's defense and offense, being a team that was supposedly going to play for the National Title. Though I'm sure we'll be saying that about Kansas, Oklahoma, or Missouri in the coming weeks.

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