Go ahead. Book your flights, Longhorns fans.
With just one regular season game and the Big 12 Championship remaining on the schedule, the only thing keeping Texas out of the BCS championship game is a Texas-sized upset.
The way the Longhorns are playing right now, even Herbie Husker has to believe that just isn’t happening.
Texas took apart Kansas Saturday night in Austin 51-20, earning quarterback Colt McCoy his 43rd win as a starter, a new NCAA record.
It was the fourth time in the last five games that Texas has scored 40 or more points, the only exception being a 35-3 win over UCF . The Longhorns have now defeated their 11 opponents this season by an average of 29 points.
To put that into perspective, Texas’ 2005 national championship team outscored its regular season opponents by an average of just over 30 points. But of note is the fact that the ’05 Longhorns team also allowed 175 points that season, while this year’s squad has allowed just 146 thus far.
In other words, this Texas team is not just playing good football—these Longhorns are playing championship-caliber football.
Now, all that stands between Texas and its first BCS title game since the 2005 triumph in Pasadena, Calif. are Texas A&M and a Big 12 title clash with Nebraska.
Of course, if we’ve learned anything the past few years, it’s that anyone can stumble in college football. When the Longhorns visit College Station this week for a Thanksgiving night rivalry battle (Thurs. 8:00 EST, ESPN ), they must be prepared for a team playing its own mini-version of a championship game.
But as motivated as the Aggies will be to knock the Longhorns out of the BCS race, recent history does not bode well for an upset.
For one, the Aggies have not played consistent football over the past few weeks, losing two of their last three games, including a 65-10 drubbing at the hands of Oklahoma.
The Aggies defense has allowed over 30 points on seven occasions this season, and while the offense, led by explosive quarterback Jerrod Johnson, has been surprisingly effective in 2009, it’s hard to imagine A&M winning a shootout with the Longhorns.
More importantly, in the two teams’ last meeting, Texas rolled to a 49-9 win in 2008 . Texas amassed over 500 total yards, and McCoy finished with four touchdowns—two passing and two rushing—in that blowout.
Nebraska, which sealed its berth in the Big 12 championship game with a win over Kansas State Saturday, should serve as a more formidable opponent for the Longhorns when they meet Dec. 5.
The Cornhusker defense will provide a stout challenge for McCoy and Co., no doubt. The “blackshirts” have held their opponents to just over 10 points per game this season.
But honestly, how many points will Texas need to score? Nebraska’s offense has been, well, underwhelming this season. Take out blowout wins against Florida Atlantic, Arkansas State, and Louisiana-Lafayette, and the Huskers are averaging just 15 points per game.
Can you see a Nebraska offense that scored just 17 against Kansas State putting up 20-plus against Texas—especially with a rushing offense that ranks 63rd in the nation facing the NCAA’s top-ranked run defense?
Yeah, me neither.
To make matters worse for the Huskers, the conference championship game is held in Arlington, Texas, which means at least 70 percent of the crowd will be clad in burnt orange and white.
If Texas does indeed take care of business against the Aggies and Huskers, a BCS championship berth is all but guaranteed.
Either Florida or Alabama, both currently ranked ahead of Texas in the BCS rankings, will lose in the SEC title game, and no other team—including TCU, Cincinnati, and Boise State—appears to have a strong enough schedule left to hurdle the Longhorns in the BCS standings.
Sure, college football is a chaotic and unpredictable world, but the bottom line is this: Only a disappointing performance by the Longhorns themselves will prevent them from heading back to Pasadena.
I wouldn’t hold my breath.