Will the Ducks be in New Orleans in January?
With its thrilling victory over Oklahoma State on Saturday, 33-24, Oklahoma has incited bedlam on the BCS bowl-selection committee.
Now, the folks at the Sugar Bowl will likely have a decision to make between the Sooners and Oregon.
Loss by Oklahoma State great for Oregon and Oklahoma's chances to play SEC in Sugar Bowl— Brett McMurphy (@McMurphyESPN) December 7, 2013
Ironically, CBS Sports’ Jerry Palm initially projected the two teams would square off in the Alamo Bowl. However, Northern Illinois’ loss to Bowling Green on Friday, 47-27, freed up an additional at-large BCS berth.
Originally, the spot was expected to go to Baylor. But with the Cowboys losing, the Bears were gifted the Big 12 title and a berth into the Fiesta Bowl instead.
Oklahoma and Oregon will still be set to battle it out.
Only this time, it’ll be for a coveted berth into a BCS bowl game.
Breaking Down Oklahoma
Entering Week 15, the Sooners ranked No. 17 in the latest BCS rankings. In order to be eligible for the BCS, the team would need to sneak into the top 14.
A win over Oklahoma State—ranked No. 6 in the BCS—figures to be enough to propel the team in the standings.
But it’s losses by the Huskies and Arizona State that should clinch the deal.
Aside from the rankings, Oklahoma has built up quite a resume.
Although folks in Norman are used to competing for Big 12 titles and national championships, this season was far from a disappointment. In fact, you could say head coach Bob Stoops and his Sooners have actually exceeded preseason expectations.
Just a year after having one of the most questionable defenses in the Big 12, the team’s defense has been one of the best in the nation. The unit currently ranks No. 13 in total defense (330.5 YPG).
Furthermore, Oklahoma has posted an impressive 3-1 record against Top 25 opponents, including two victories over Top 10 opposition.
However, the team did lose to an unranked Texas team. A game the Sooners entered as two-touchdown favorites.
Then there’s the whole quarterback situation.
Whether it’s Trevor Knight, Blake Bell or Kendal Thompson, Oklahoma hasn’t found an answer at quarterback. In 12 games, the team has averaged just a little more than 180 passing yards per game.
The Sooners have proved they can step up in the big game, but will their offensive woes cost them?
Breaking Down Oregon
Just a little over a month ago, the Ducks were 8-0 and thinking BCS title. Unfortunately, the team would lose two of its next three games.
But that shouldn’t cost Oregon a shot at a better bowl game.
Ranked No. 12 in the BCS, the team boasts one of the nation’s top offenses. The Ducks rank No. 5 in scoring (46.8 PPG) and No. 3 in total offense (573.0 YPG).
In fact, the team has scored 40 points or more in all but three games this season.
However, Oregon hasn’t been at its best in recent weeks.
In the team’s loss to Stanford, 26-20, on Nov. 7, the Ducks trailed 20-0 entering the fourth quarter. Two weeks later, the team trumped that letdown by getting blown out by unranked Arizona, 42-16.
Not to mention, Oregon relied on a late touchdown to beat Oregon State, 36-35, in the season finale.
The most telling fact of the recent slump: Quarterback Marcus Mariota has thrown four interceptions in his past two games after throwing none in the team’s first 10 games.
It’s obvious the Ducks have the potential to light up the scoreboard. But have teams finally solved their offense?
And the Selection Is…
Simply put, the Sooners are the hot hand.
The team has won five of its past six games. That’s capped off by a road victory against the No. 6-ranked team in the nation.
Who deserves a BCS berth more?
No matter what the offensive stats might say, Oklahoma is finally making the big plays on offense when the team needs them.
On the other hand, Oregon is staggering to the finish line. The team looks to be a shell of its former self and is a play or two away from having lost three of its final four games.
Besides, given the Sugar Bowl’s deal with the Big 12 starting next season, one would think that the committee wouldn’t want to spurn its future partner.
A month ago, it would have been clear as day that the Ducks are the better option over the Sooners.
But as is the norm in college football these days, it only takes a week for things to change drastically.
All stats and rankings used in this article are courtesy of NCAA.com.