The debate will be vicious and unrelenting. Both the Texas Longhorns and Oklahoma Sooners will stake their claim for the higher spot in the BCS, and thus the ticket to the national championship game. However, when determining the most deserving team to go to the big game, there's not enough merit in just looking at who blew out whom and by how much.
It's too simple. That's not a good judge of what team is better. We can admit that there's not much difference in the caliber of the two teams. Both teams are elite level offenses with solid defenses, generally put. So what separates them? Here's why Texas should be ranked as the better team.
It's a matter of resilience. Oklahoma has lost its last four bowl games. This year's Oklahoma team failed in the fourth quarter, while Colt McCoy's Texas dominated the final minutes. Colt and his team showed that not only can they put up stats, they can squeeze out the sweat and passion when it counts.
Mack Brown's teams of recent years know how to win close and in big moments. Yes, this team lost to Texas Tech on the last play in Lubbock, but that is one loss amongst other wins. Find an example of OU beating an elite level (top 5) football team in a hard-fought battle.
In the last four years, Texas is 3-1 against Oklahoma in the Red River Rivalry. The Longhorns are 4-0 in bowl games including two thrilling Rose Bowl wins (one national championship). Oklahoma is 0-4...losing once to Boise State, mind you. Yes, they showed they're good against Texas Tech, but it's becoming more apparent that we had a Red Raider team that could not win huge games outside of Lubbock.
In addition, Will Muschamp, the defensive coordinator for the Longhorns and heir apparent to the head coaching position, was the defensive coordinator for Auburn the last couple of years, and guess what? He helped Auburn to a 20-17 victory over Tim Tebow's Florida team last year in the Swamp (though Florida was not as good). He was one of the few who was able to shut down Tebow in a year when the quarterback won the Heisman.
But maybe that's moot. Maybe it doesn't matter who we think has the ability to handle the SEC or win the games that test a team. Maybe it's all about who can top 60 points, and who can only get to...52. However, I think we know better.
Where is Oklahoma's resilience this year? If this has basically been reduced to a debate over whether Texas or Oklahoma is the better football team, who cares if Oklahoma can blow teams out with 60-point efforts instead of 50-point efforts? What about the moments that define great sports teams, the moments when a team is tested and pushed to the brink, when the players have fallen down and must get back up?
Texas was down 14-3 in the Red River Rivalry after a demoralizing Oklahoma touchdown, but Colt McCoy and company stared in the face of defeat and overcame, dominating the fourth quarter and delivering a resounding victory. Show me Sam Bradford's poise and perfection against a Top 5 opponent in crunch time.
This is about the national championship. Nobody is blowing out Florida, and probably not Alabama either. The better team is the one that can win when it counts.
Texas is that team.