Texas vs. Oklahoma: Which Program Is Closer to a National Championship?

Lisa Horne@LisaHornePac-12 and Big 12 Lead WriterOctober 11, 2012

Oct 6, 2012; Austin, TX, USA; Texas Longhorns quarterback David Ash (14) throws a pass during the second quarter against the West Virginia Mountaineers at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-US PRESSWIRE

What's going on here?

No. 5* West Virginia has set the football nation on fire with its high-flying offense clicking under head coach Dana Holgorsen and quarterback Geno Smith. 

Meanwhile, No. 6 Kansas State somehow managed to morph itself into a stealth bomber and is still flying under the radar (despite beating Oklahoma in Norman, for crying out loud!). 

Wasn't West Virginia supposed to have an adjustment period this year? Wasn't the Big 12 supposed to be a more difficult transition for the former Big East team? Wasn't last year just a fluke for Kansas State? 

Texas and Oklahoma used to be the feared twosome in the Big 12, but the Longhorns already lost 48-45 to the Mountaineers and the Sooners fell to the Wildcats 24-19.

Texas or Oklahoma has to represent this Saturday. Either save face or go to your corner and wave like a former Miss America as she takes that one last tearful walk before taking off her crown.

West Virginia and Kansas State are currently looking down at everyone else in the Big 12. This wasn't supposed to happen.

It's almost as if Oklahoma and Texas set up shop in the Big 12, tested the waters during conference expansion, discovered they were still loved by all and then just figured they would cruise through the Big 12 and claim the Big 12 crown.

Except both Oklahoma and Texas currently have one conference loss, and after Saturday's Red River Rivalry, one of them will have two.

The Big 12 was slapped with a "weaker" label when four teams left the conference: Nebraska, Colorado, Missouri and Texas A&M.  

Nebraska has lost the last two now-extinct Big 12 Championship Games, and since conference expansion occurred, the Big 12 now has a winner crowned without benefit of a title game. The Cornhuskers are currently getting spanked by the supposed weaker Big Ten and Pac-12 teams while the other Big 12 defectors—Texas A&M and Missouri—are 2-1 and 0-3 in SEC conference play. Colorado, well, is Colorado (1-4). 

The Big 12's dynamic duo should have been dominating at this point in the season. Instead, they're getting upstaged by a new kid on the block and an elderly, sweet man yelling, "Get off my lawn."

Is this just a temporary glitch? Is the dynamic duo doomed? Which team is closer to a [mythical] national championship?

The Sooners haven't won a BCS Championship since January 3, 2001, when they beat Florida State 13-2. They've made three BCS Championship game appearances since then, but came up short in all of them.

Texas has made it to two BCS Championships and beat [vacated] 41-38 in one of the best [mythical] national championships in college football. They also lost to Alabama 37-21 in the 2009 BCS Championship Game.

The Longhorns' biggest problem over the last few years appears to have been at the quarterback position. The dual-quarterback system of Ash-McCoy? Painful to watch last year. Connor Wood? Transfer. Case McCoy? Transfer. Whoops, false alarm, no transfer, but he's 5-of-8 for 64 yards this year.

David Ash, a true sophomore, is throwing the pill. He's accurate (77.5 percent) and lethal (11 touchdowns, one interception). Quarterback problem solved for the next few years.

More future good news: The offense will only have lost three senior starters in receiver Marquise Goodwin, tight end D.J. Grant and fullback Ryan Roberson.  

Defensively, the Longhorns are also young. Losing only two senior starters in defensive end Alex Okafor and free safety Kenny Vaccaro —assuming junior Jackson Jeffcoat doesn't declare early—sets up for a nice championship run next year.

The Longhorns look stacked for 2013.

The Sooners looked stacked for this year. We're still waiting to see how that works out. Translation: Texas, Notre Dame, at West Virginia and Oklahoma State await.

But what about next season?

Landry Jones is a fifth-year senior/four-year starter, so this is it for him. Jones started out rusty against UTEP, but had a great game against Texas Tech. The Sooner offense, beside losing Jones, will have taken some big hits with these departures: Receiver Justin Brown, running back Dominique Whaley and left tackle Lane Johnson.

Defensively, the line will be decimated. Defensive ends R.J. Washington and David King and tackles Casey Walker and Jamarkus McFarland will be missed. Linebackers Joseph Ibiloye and Jaydan Bird are also gone. The secondary takes a huge hit with losses at cornerback (Demontre Hurst) and safety (Javon Harris). Keeping safety Tony Jefferson from going pro early would help the secondary considerably, but the defensive line will have to be retooled. 

The Sooners, if they can regroup from the Kansas State loss, have a veteran group players who should contend for the Big 12 crown if they beat Texas, West Virginia and Oklahoma State; but I don't see that happening this year and thus, a [mythical] national championship game berth is not realistic. Neither is a berth next year, but like every season, the Sooners will probably start out ranked very highly.

Right now, Texas looks like the team closer to a [mythical] national championship, but an invite to Miami Gardens in January seems unlikely unless the Longhorns run the tables.

But next year?

The [mythical] national championship will be held at the Rose Bowl, an old, lovely stadium that's been more than hospitable to Texas in January. 

*rankings taken from the AP  


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