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Monday, September 18, 2006

The Yellow Thorn of Texas

The more I look at the national standings, the more my hopes for a repeat dwindle. This was a black weekend for the Big 12. Oklahoma, Texas Tech, Iowa State, Kansas, Baylor, Colorado and Nebraska...down the tubes. Texas A&M was a goal line stance away from joining them. Of these teams, only Colorado and Kansas are not on our schedule. For a conference that has sent a representative to the BCS title game 5 out of the past 8 years, we sure aren't showing that we are far above the Big East in conference strength.

Not that we are completely to blame mind you. 9 out of 12 teams are starting a QB with little to no experience this year. The 3 that returned weren't exactly playing for the conference elite.

But, this will be the downfall of Texas defending its title.

I posted a nice analysis of what the results of this weekend's games were and how they impacted the Longhorns. After looking more in-depth, I have concluded that I couldn't be more wrong.

Texas will still need help. The greatest mark on our resume is that we lost to the #1 team in the nation. A 17-point loss is big, but not technically blowout big. Of the remaining games, we will only have 3 in which our opponents are projected to be ranked: Oklahoma, Nebraska and Texas Tech/Texas A&M. (Plus the North division champ) Even so, it would be hard pressed to have these teams ranked higher than #15 at the end of the year. This absolutely kills our strength of schedule.

In order for us to have any shot, in addition to running the table, the following must happen:

Ohio State- Must remain unbeaten. A 1-loss Ohio State pretty much puts our title hopes to rest since someone will creep into the #1 spot and our loss prevents us from jumping them. If they lose 2 games, we have a slim chance. I'm talking 2001 season slim. Any more than that and it is lights out unless Texas is the only 1-loss team out there.

At this point, all the below teams need at least 1 loss...

Auburn- Must lose 2 games or have the SEC fizzle out. The other scenario is for them to be blown out by an unranked SEC opponent. A 1-loss SEC team is much stronger in the polls than a 1-loss Big 12 team.

USC- Must have 2 losses or 1 blowout loss to an unranked Pac-10 opponent. Let's face it, the media doesn't want the USC fandom to die down and it will reflect in their voting. This year's Pac-10 also isn't the same conference we have ragged on in the past. The 4-0 record versus the Big 12 this weekend should be proof enough.

WVU- Must lose 1 game. Despite the Big 12's current state, a 1-loss Big East team will not overtake a 1-loss Big 12 team.

Michigan- If Ohio State runs the table, this will take care of itself. But, if Michigan is undefeated prior to the match up, we need Ohio State to beat them by more than 17 points.

Florida- See Auburn

We will also have to fend off challenges from LSU, Georgia and Louisville. Virginia Tech has been dealt a blow by Miami and FSU for schedule strength.

So Texas fans, I hate to be the messenger on this, but we will have to hang on to #10's run this season. Our main focus should be the continuation of a new streak against that team up north and not the rates of hotels in Phoenix.


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