Even with loss, OU has title-game shot

NORMAN, Okla. -- Clemson down. Stanford to go?

The Sooners' national championship hopes received a big boost on the weekend, as Oklahoma jumped three spots to No. 6 in the BCS. OU pasted unbeaten Kansas State by 41 points, then got help as Georgia Tech took down undefeated Clemson.

And with that, the Sooners are back in the championship picture, positioned as the top one-loss team on the board. Of course, OU still needs help. But not much.

Only LSU, Alabama, Oklahoma State, Stanford and Boise State stand in front of the Sooners.

LSU goes to Alabama this weekend. OU gets its shot at the Cowboys in the regular-season finale. And just by winning, the Sooners figure to pass Boise eventually, because of the computers.

That leaves Stanford as perhaps the biggest roadblock, should the Sooners run the table. In their first legitimate test of the season, the Cardinal survived at USC in triple overtime, but three more obstacles await: eighth-ranked Oregon, Notre Dame and No. 19 Arizona State, most likely, in the Pac-12 title game. If Stanford loses any of the three, OU would really be in business.

Obviously, the Sooners must win out. But they sure looked like a team on a mission in Manhattan, Kan. Facing a program on a roll, the Sooners embarrassed K-State on its home field, scoring 44 unanswered points to win 58-17.

Oklahoma scored touchdowns on its first five possessions of the second half, while holding K-State to 32 total yards and four first downs and sacking QB Colin Klein six times.

The Sooners' defense is now No. 1 in the country in sacks, with 34, and the offense is No. 1 in fewest sacks allowed, with three.

"We just need to play like that every week," coach Bob Stoops said after the game.

If they do, the Sooners surely will win their next three games to set up what still should be the biggest Bedlam game in series history. And then, all bets are off.

Having won eight straight, OU has a psychological edge in the series. But outside the two SEC powers, Oklahoma State looks as formidable as anyone in the country right now. That's why a win in Stillwater, coupled with a Stanford loss along the way, would give the Sooners a strong argument for inclusion in the title game.

Whether OU would get there, though, might depend on what happens this weekend in Tuscaloosa, Ala. The LSU-Alabama winner figures to nail down one of the title spots.

But what about the loser? If the game goes down to the wire, the loser could remain ahead of the Sooners in the BCS. But if either wins convincingly? The loser might fall below the Sooners.

College football is a crazy game. Last week, the Sooners were out of the title picture. This week, they're back in it.

And by next week, they might be a Stanford loss away from controlling their destiny once again.

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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