Vince Young has probably booked his ticket.
Bevo may be en route as we speak.
And I wouldn’t be surprised if Mickey Mouse has his burnt orange ears all ready to go.
It’s all but assumed that the Texas Longhorns will play for their second BCS title after closing the regular season against Nebraska in the Big 12 Championship game Saturday.
But before the Longhorns attempt to repeat the glory of their previous visit to Pasadena, they must avoid a few scenarios that, however unlikely, could threaten their title hopes.
Sure, these scenarios are long-shots for the Longhorns, but they remain possibilities nonetheless.
In the era of the BCS , no hypothetical is complete “B.S.”
The three things that could keep Texas out of the title game:
Scenario #1: A loss to Nebraska
Thanks Captain Obvious, right?
But seriously, Texas cannot afford to look past the Huskers Saturday night in Arlington. Especially not after the Longhorns showed themselves to be capable of catching the upset bug Thanksgiving in College Station .
Nebraska’s bread and butter is its defense (that must feel good to hear again, doesn’t it Husker fan?) The “blackshirts,” as they like to refer to themselves, ranked third in the nation this season in points per game (11.1).
Players like defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and safety Matt O’Hanlon are not only capable of shutting down opposing offenses, but also can make big time, game-changing plays.
And Texas’ defense, which has been nearly as impressive as Nebraska’s for most of the season, looked suddenly beatable in surrendering more than 500 yards of offense against Texas A&M last week.
What Colt McCoy and Co. should also be aware of is the history of teams with national title hopes playing in the Big 12 Championship game.
On four occasions since 1996, a team hoping to go on to play for a national title has fallen in the Big 12 Championship, including the Longhorns themselves in 2001 against Colorado.
Simply put, wild things happen in the Big 12 title game. And Nebraska has the talent and motivation to pull off another historic upset.
If the Longhorns were to lose, TCU would likely jump the Longhorns in the standings and play the SEC champion (Florida or Alabama) for the BCS crown.
Unlikely? Sure. But so was a loss for the favored teams in ’96, ’98, ’01, ’07…
Scenario #2: An SEC championship for the ages
If you Big 12 fans feel a bit, well, ignored this weekend, it’s probably due to the fact that the national media is falling all over itself about Saturday’s SEC title game between Florida and Alabama.
It’s easy to understand why. The two teams are ranked first and second in the BCS rankings. They battled each other in this game last season, too. And the winner heads to the BCS championship game, while the loser is relegated to a much lesser BCS bowl.
Or are they?
The one scenario no one seems to be discussing is the possibility that the voters and computers could keep a one-loss Florida or Alabama team ranked ahead of an undefeated Texas.
Yes, it’s possible.
If Texas wins in ugly fashion against Nebraska (I’m talking a 12-9, knock-down, drag-out game reminiscent of October’s Red River Rivalry game), they could be in trouble.
Florida and Alabama both hold reasonable advantages in the current BCS standings .
If Florida and Alabama play a down-to-the-wire, breathtaking game Saturday in Atlanta, it's not completely ridiculous to think poll voters and computers could keep the loser slightly ahead of a 13-0 Texas team, producing an SEC re-match in the BCS title game.
Especially not if the theory that media and coaches alike tend to favor the SEC over other conferences holds true.
Unlikely? Yes. But hey, this is the BCS we’re talking about…
Scenario #3: A leap by the Horned Frogs (or Bearcats)
Out of all of these three scenarios, this is probably the most improbable.
Despite TCU’s impressive 12-0 season , there still exists (like it or not) a major bias against non-BCS conferences. And that means that the Mountain West champs would need a miracle to jump over Texas (and the SEC loser) in the final BCS rankings.
But, again, if Texas struggles against Nebraska, there’s a small chance. This would probably take an even more baseball-like score, something like 3-2 or 6-3, and a whole lot of uncharacteristic Texas mistakes.
If that were to happen, it’s possible that poll voters would feel like giving the little guy a shot, and some may decide to rank TCU higher than the Longhorns.
It’s also possible that an impressive win over Pittsburgh Saturday would enable Cincinnati (which is currently ranked higher than TCU by the computers) to find its way ahead of the Horned Frogs and enable them to benefit from an unsightly Big 12 title game.
Unlike TCU, whose season is finished, Cincinnati at least has one more chance to make a lasting impression on voters.
This scenario (like the others) is improbable. But nothing can be ruled out this time of year in college football. We should know that by now.
A loss Saturday night in Arlington would obviously remove Texas from BCS title game consideration. But yes, it remains a possibility that Texas could actually win the Big 12 championship and still not get in.
The moral of the story for the Longhorns? Play well on Saturday night. Then all of these scenarios go from unlikely to unnecessary.