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Nov. 24, 2001, 4:13PM

BCS plans skewed with Huskers' loss

By JEROME SOLOMON
Copyright 2001 Houston Chronicle

There will be no Big Red reunion in Irving next week after all.

The long-anticipated rematch between Nebraska and Oklahoma at the Big 12 Championship Game, which was supposed to decide a trip to the national championship game, was derailed by the Cornhuskers' 62-36 loss at Colorado on Friday.

How does Nebraska's loss affect the Big 12's chances in the national championship chase? All that's known is Nebraska will not be in the Rose Bowl.

Texas has a chance of making it, but it is remote. Nebraska's loss eliminated the Big 12's guaranteed national title game berth -- had the Huskers, which entered Friday's game as the No. 1 team in the Bowl Championship Series rankings, finished their season undefeated (including a victory in the Big 12 title game), they would have maintained their top spot in the BCS, giving them a Rose Bowl berth.

Now any number of teams have a shot at it.

Texas held the belief that an OU loss to Oklahoma State would send the Longhorns to the Big 12 title game against Nebraska, the BCS's top team, and a win there would be enough to earn it a Rose Bowl trip.

Should Oklahoma State pull off the upset today, Texas probably would have no chance at reaching the Rose Bowl because another win over Colorado in the Big 12 title game would do almost nothing for the Longhorns.

Not only would Texas' strength of schedule not get the boost it would have from facing unbeaten Nebraska, Texas would not get the quality win component that is deducted from the final BCS tally because it has beaten Colorado once.

Florida would surely stay ahead of Texas and claim one of the top two slots. Of course, Florida could lose but Tennessee might pass the Longhorns as well. Of course, Miami could lose and ... well, you get the picture. It's a long shot.

Oklahoma likely still earns a trip to Pasadena with a win over Oklahoma State today and Colorado next week. But the Sooners were No. 3 in the BCS standings last week, behind Nebraska and Miami. It stands to reason Miami and OU will move into the top two positions, but reason and the BCS don't always go together.

Could Florida, which was fourth in the BCS standings last week, overtake the Sooners with impressive wins over Tennessee and what ever team it meets in the SEC Championship Game? That's anybody's guess.

In all likelihood, Colorado, which has two losses, cannot reach the national championship game, even though a win over Oklahoma would allow the Buffs to boast victories over the BCS's Nos. 1 and 2 (where OU probably will be when Monday's standings come out) teams in successive weeks.

Now that Nebraska is out of the title hunt, it looks to secure a BCS bowl bid, for the Fiesta or Sugar.

The Longhorns believe they are worthy of a BCS bid as well, and sources say the Sugar Bowl covets the Longhorns.

The Fiesta has a deal with the Big 12 to invite its champion unless that champion is in the national title game. Should OU win the Big 12 championship and go to the Rose Bowl, the Fiesta, which has agreed to take the Pac-10 champion this year (Oregon), will get to choose an at-large team.

The Sugar, which hosts the SEC champion if it is out of the national title game, has an opening for an at-large team as well.

Under an Oklahoma-Miami Rose Bowl matchup, the Fiesta gets first pick and would probably take Nebraska or Michigan over Texas. If it takes Michigan, the Sugar could tab Texas.

If OU stumbles against Colorado, then the Buffs fill the Big 12 slot in the Fiesta. The Sugar (we're assuming Florida goes to the Rose to face Miami in this scenario) could then pick between OU, UT and Nebraska.

The Orange Bowl had a representative at the Texas-Texas A&M game Friday.

The Longhorns think they have earned a BCS slot, but it knows the matter is out of their hands.


Staff writer Michael Murphy contributed to this report.


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