The Texas Longhorns are the consensus No. 1 pick in the nation, this coming after beating the Oklahoma Sooners, who were ranked No. 1 almost two weeks ago, in the Red River Shootout.
The first BCS standings were released earlier this week, and the Sooners were No. 4. To some people that seems a little generous. Even in the polls before the BCS standings were released, Oklahoma only fell three spots, four at the most.
Oklahoma lost to Texas and gave up 45 points—yet fell three spots. There is a problem with that.
A few weeks before losing to Texas, Oklahoma beat No. 24 TCU. After the loss Oklahoma went on to soundly defeat No. 16 Kansas.
Now you probably find yourself wondering why I have a problem with Oklahoma being No. 4.
My problem is Oklahoma should be No. 2. Yes, No. 2.
The Sooners played Texas a heck of a game. They led the Longhorns by a point at the half in a game that was clearly even.
In the first half, both offenses were firing on all cylinders. The only sputter was when Sam Bradford's pass was intercepted by Texas safety Earl Thomas. With the stout rushing defense of the Longhorns holding the Sooners to just 48 rushing yards, Sam Bradford was forced to carry the offense on his play alone.
Bradford did great under the pressure. Sure, he threw two interceptions, but one was meaningless at the end of the game, a last-ditch effort. The other interception was caused by the stellar defensive play calling of Will Muschamp.
When you throw the ball 39 times in a game, you are bound to make at least one mistake, and when your rushing game is shut down and your offense is one-dimensional, you are almost certain to make several mistakes. Bradford threw for well over 300 yards and five touchdowns and did a great job carrying the offense.
The game was can be pretty well summarized by three plays: Texas' successful fake punt, OU's fake punt that was stopped just inches short of a first down, and a dropped INT by the Sooners in the end zone.
What the game came down to was who caught the breaks. Fake punts are hit and miss, and the Sooners barely missed, while the Longhorns were successful.
Now don't get me wrong—I'm not taking anything away from Texas. I simply mean the teams are that close in skill, talent, and most every aspect.
When you have two of the best quarterbacks in the NCAA on the same field, it is almost guaranteed to be a shootout, so it is difficult to criticize either team's defense.
All that being said, it wasn't how Oklahoma played Texas that opened my eyes to just how good they really were. It was the way they went home the next weekend and took care of business against a talented Kansas team. The Sooners never trailed against Kansas, and Bradford played remarkably well.
Oklahoma and Texas both have defenses ranking in the top 40, far better than any other team in the Big 12. If Oklahoma can put up the kind of numbers they did on Texas, they should have no problem dominating other opponents.
The same goes for Texas. OU has the best defense in the Big 12. If you can score 45 against the best, you should have no problem against the rest.
OU's offense ranks fourth in the nation and Texas' offense ranks 10th. Neither of these teams struggles to put points on the board. Maybe instead of saying Texas or Oklahoma allowed the other to score 35 or 45 points, we should be saying they held each other to 35 or 45 points.
Not only has OU proven they can rack up points on the nation's 39th-best defense, they also showed they could rack up 436 yards and five touchdowns against TCU. TCU boasts the nation's No. 1 defense, allowing just 210 ypg on average, and has only allowed 12 touchdowns all season. OU accounts for five of TCU's 12 touchdowns allowed—that is impressive.
The Sooners have forced 11 turnovers this season while only turning it over six times themselves, all of which were INTs. Five of the six interceptions were Bradford's. Sam Bradford has thrown for 26 touchdowns and just five interceptions on 238 attempts. That is phenomenal.
Another amazing stat is that besides Texas and TCU, who both held the Sooners to 35 points, no other team has held them to fewer than 45.
While the Sooners only average about 165 ypg on the ground, they have accumulated 19 rushing touchdowns and are tied for the 10th-most rushing touchdowns. The Sooners average 46.9 ppg, third behind Tulsa and Texas, who average 56 and 48 respectively.
Not only did OU play Texas a close ball game, but they are also either close behind or better than Texas in most statistical categories.
Both teams rank third in first downs per game at 27.1.
Texas has 47 penalties on the year and Oklahoma has 50.
OU ranks second in passing ypg, while Texas is 13th.
Looking at both the game and the stats, both teams appear to be even, and if Texas is number one, then Oklahoma's rightful place is No. 2.
The current No. 2 team in the polls is the Alabama Crimson Tide. Bama is 7-0 and has dominated opponents 95-3 in the first quarter. Equally remarkable is the Tide has only trailed for one minute and 25 seconds this year.
However, in the past three games, the youthful Crimson Tide has been lackadaisical in the second half, getting outscored 61-13.
It seems that the team has the attitude that if you are winning by 21 points, then you don't have to score and still allow 20 points and come away with the win. They seem to hive the high school mindset of a win is a win, no matter the score.
Furthermore, Bama has played one ranked opponent that deserved to be ranked in the top 10, Georgia. The Tide came out and destroyed the Bulldogs 31-0 in the first half. The second half, a different Alabama team took the field and was outscored 30-10. The Tide was up by 31 and then allowed 30, while scoring a few points to keep a slim lead.
The Tide was in a position to go into a bend don't break style of play, but they allowed the Bulldogs to climb back into the game and make it appear on the scoreboard to be a close game.
To the Tide's credit, they routed Clemson, who was ranked No. 9 at the time but has since fallen to a 3-4 record.
The Tide took the opportunity to prove themselves against Arkansas, a team who looked good in the first few weeks of the season but hasn't looked the same since the blowout by Bama.
The last two weeks saw domination by the Tide in the first quarter and then a team playing on cruise control in the second half. In the SEC and many conferences in the NCAA, you can't win on the play of just one half. Sometime down the road Bama is destined to learn that the hard way.
Penn State, the No. 3 team, has looked great this season. The problem is the teams they have beaten have a combined record of 23-35. The Nittany Lions have only played one team that is ranked in the top 25, and only two teams with a winning record.
Penn State's No. 3 ranking can't be validated until they have beaten multiple ranked opponents and have played more than a few schools with winning records.
Oklahoma beat the best defense in the nation and one of the best offenses in the nation. They have played consistently and they have played opponents with credible win-loss records.
Oklahoma has outplayed the No. 2 and No. 3 teams and deserves to be ranked accordingly.