Here's how the Sooners jumped the Longhorns

November, 30, 2008
11/30/08
7:49
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

OK, so the BCS standings have determined Oklahoma as the Big 12 South's title representative at the end of the closest conference race in history.

What does it all mean?

The Sooners are headed for Kansas City with hopes of claiming their history-making third consecutive Big 12 title. But in order to get there, they needed a late blitz in the computer polls that pushed them into the title game past Texas.

The Longhorns defeated the Sooners, 45-35, Oct. 11 in Dallas. While the human elements of the BCS standings seemingly placed greater emphasis on that triumph, the computer rankings were the difference.

Texas and Oklahoma neatly split the USA Today Coaches' poll and the Harris Interactive Poll. The Longhorns made headway in both polls this week from the previous week.

In the Harris polls, Texas jumped ahead of the Sooners this week after trailing them last week. Texas turned around a 21-point edge in the polls and claimed a six-point advantage over the Sooners in this week's Harris poll. Oklahoma was third in the Harris poll last week and Texas was fourth. This week, Texas was third and Oklahoma was fourth.

The Longhorns nearly jumped past the Sooners in the coaches' poll. Oklahoma was second in the coaches' poll last week and Texas was fourth, with a margin of 42 points between them. In this week's poll, Oklahoma was second and Texas was third, with the Sooners ahead by only a point in the coaches' poll.

But the difference came in the six computer rankings that make up the standings. Here's a look at how the two teams were ranked in the polls last week and this week.

  • Anderson and Hester: Last week, Texas 3rd, Oklahoma 4th; This week, Texas 3rd, Oklahoma 4th.
  • Billingsley: Last week, Oklahoma 2nd, Texas 3rd; This week, Oklahoma 2nd, Texas, 4th.
  • Colley Matrix: Last week, Texas 1st, Oklahoma 5th; This week, Texas 1st, Oklahoma 2nd.
  • Massey: Last week, Oklahoma 1st, Texas 2nd; This week, Oklahoma 1st, Texas 3rd.
  • Sagarin: Last week, Texas 1st, Oklahoma 4th; This week, Oklahoma 1st, Texas, 2nd.
  • Wolfe: Last week, Texas 2nd, Oklahoma 4th; This week, Oklahoma 1st, Texas 2nd.
  • Overall computer rankings: Last week, Texas 2nd, Oklahoma 3rd; This week, Oklahoma 1st, Texas 2nd.

The Longhorns also were not helped by two losses that two of their more prominent opponents endured over the weekend. Colorado lost to Nebraska and Missouri was upset by Kansas to help contribute to a late erosion of some of Texas' computer rankings.

And Oklahoma benefitted because the Sooners had beaten Kansas and Nebraska earlier in the season, benefitting from those wins.

The Sooners also received a late surge from beating Oklahoma State on the road in their final game, compared to Texas' victory over Big 12 South Division cellar-dweller Texas A&M in its finale.

The Sooners also got a boost from playing nonconference games against TCU, which was ranked 11th, and Cincinnati, which was ranked 13th in the final BCS standings. Texas had no victories over nonconference foes ranked in Sunday's Top 25.

And in the end, those triumphs were enough to push the Sooners past the Longhorns despite Texas' victory over them in the head-to-head game.

"Obviously it [strength of schedule] played a part," Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said. "I can't equate all that transpired, but it had an influence. And for people who want to play [strong] out-of-conference games, there has to be an incentive to doing it."

The computers apparently have provided enough of a benefit to push the Sooners into the Big 12 Championship Game.

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