Two reasons OU could play in title game

NORMAN, Okla. -- Without playing anybody, Oklahoma moved up one spot to No. 5 in this week's BCS standings. The Sooners, however, now have two one-loss teams ahead of them: No. 3 Alabama and No. 4 Oregon, which jumped three spots after its rout of Stanford.

But don't count out the Sooners just yet. Despite their ranking, they just might control their own destiny after all.

Even if the Crimson Tide and the Ducks win out, the Sooners still have a realistic chance of sliding into the No. 2 spot and the national championship game for a couple of reasons.

First, OU has the toughest remaining schedule of the three.

Second, the Sooners play their biggest game on the final week of the regular season. That same weekend, Oregon could be playing lowly UCLA in the Pac-12 championship. And on the same day, Alabama could be idle.

Richard Billingsley, who operates one of six computer rankings that factor into the BCS, has Alabama and Oregon ranked ahead of OU at the moment. But should the Sooners knock off Oklahoma State on Dec. 3, he believes his computer poll will have them ranked No. 2, in front of Alabama and Oregon.

"The most recent performance carries the most weight," Billingsley said of his poll. "Beating the No. 2 team in the last regular-season game would give [the Sooners] a huge lift."

The other five computer polls would likely have a similar response, potentially giving OU the No. 2 ranking in the computers.

The question then would be, how would the coaches and Harris polls subjectively view the Sooners?

The Big 12 leadership clearly has done very little right in the last two years. But it was a stroke of genius for them to relocate the Bedlam game from Thanksgiving weekend to the first week of December. Instead of sitting on the shelf, the Big 12 will be front and center the final week of the season.

Human voters tend to have a short memory. The Bedlam game will be fresh on their minds as they cast their final ballots. If the Sooners go to Stillwater and pull out a victory, that will be hard for voters to disregard.

Voters would be left deciding whether to rematch LSU with either Alabama or Oregon, or pit the Tigers against a red-hot Sooners team that just beat No. 2 Oklahoma State in its home stadium.

In winning one of the two top conferences in college football, the Sooners would hold a strong position in the computers, meaning they wouldn't necessarily need to carry both human polls. Simply by holding its own in the human polls, OU could vault to the No. 2 ranking. And into the national championship game.

Jake Trotter covers University of Oklahoma football for SoonerNation. He can be reached at trotterjake@gmail.com. and look for answers every Friday.

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