BCS breaks tie: Okla. over Texas

The Baltimore Sun

A week before the final standings are released and the Bowl Championship Series is already ticking people off.

Oklahoma - not Texas - is headed to the Big 12 championship game with an inside track to the national title game by finishing ahead of the Longhorns in the BCS standings.

Texas' victory against the Sooners in October wasn't enough to give the Longhorns the advantage in a three-way tie between Oklahoma, Texas and Texas Tech atop the Big 12 South. And that's sure to leave many in Austin feeling slighted.

The Big 12 had to use its fifth tiebreaker, best BCS rating, to determine which team will play North winner Missouri on Saturday in Kansas City, Mo.

The Sooners (11-1), who lost to Texas, 45-35, in October, barely edged the Longhorns. Oklahoma has a .9351 BCS average. Texas' BCS average is .9223.

Oklahoma was a point ahead of Texas (11-1) in the USA Today coaches' poll and six points behind the Longhorns in the Harris Interactive. The computer ratings preferred the Sooners, and that made the difference.

So the Longhorns will be watching two teams they beat play for the conference title, rooting for Missouri.

Oklahoma is second in the BCS standings behind Alabama (12-0). Texas is third and Florida (11-1) is fourth.

The winner of the Southeastern Conference championship game Saturday between Alabama and Florida is virtually guaranteed a spot in the BCS national title game Jan. 8 in Miami.

Oklahoma would earn the other spot by beating Missouri. If the Sooners lose, it could open the door for Texas to play for the national title.

If voters are squeamish about letting a team that didn't win its conference play for a national championship, maybe Southern California could get a shot at the SEC champ in South Florida. The Trojans are fifth in the BCS standings with a game to go at rival UCLA.

The Sooners were behind Texas last week in the BCS standings by a tiny margin. The Sooners actually led the Longhorns in the polls, but a week ago the computers had Texas ahead of Oklahoma.

After the Sooners' 61-41 victory Saturday night against Oklahoma State - 14th in the latest standings - and the Longhorns' 49-9 win over lowly Texas A&M; on Thanksgiving night, the polls tightened but the computers flipped.

The strength of the Big 12 South led to this new BCS controversy, with the top three teams in the conference each finishing 11-1. After beating Oklahoma and jumping to No. 1 in the polls, Texas lost at Texas Tech, 39-33, on Nov. 1. The Red Raiders, No. 2 at the time, lost at Oklahoma, 65-21, on Nov. 22. The lopsided loss dropped Texas Tech way back. The Red Raiders (11-1) were seventh in yesterday's standings.

AP Top 25:: No. 1 Alabama and No. 2 Florida held their spots, setting up the 41st game matching the highest ranked teams in the Associated Press Top 25. No. 3 Texas slipped past No. 4 Oklahoma in the latest rankings, a week after the Sooners had jumped over the Longhorns. Texas had 1,488 points, eight more than Oklahoma.

Clemson: : The school will announce as soon as today that interim coach Dabo Swinney will gain the permanent title, ESPN.com reported, citing multiple sources. Athletic director Terry Don Phillips offered the job to Swinney yesterday, a day after the Tigers beat instate rival South Carolina, the Web site said. Swinney took over the team after Tommy Bowden resigned in October with the Tigers 3-3. They finished the regular season 7-5.

Texas Tech: : Quarterback Graham Harrell had surgery yesterday on two shattered fingers on his nonthrowing hand he suffered during the win over Baylor on Saturday, but he is expected to play in Texas Tech's bowl game, a source close to Harrell told ESPN.com. Harrell suffered nine separate breaks in the second quarter, the Web site reported, but stayed in.

Oklahoma: : Quarterback Sam Bradford tore ligaments in his nonthrowing hand against Oklahoma State and is expected to have surgery after the Big 12 title game. Bradford is expected to play the Big 12 finale with a soft cast on his left hand.

Tennessee: : Former Oakland Raiders coach Lane Kiffin will be introduced as the new Volunteers coach today. Kiffin, 33, replaces Phillip Fulmer after the Vols went 4-7 this season. Kiffin was fired in September after going 5-15 with the Raiders.

Hawaii: : The Warriors (7-5) accepted an invitation to their hometown Hawaii Bowl.

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