Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Colt 45, Texas 35

By Rick Morris

On Dan Patrick's radio show this week, he said that Sports Illustrated was allowing his show to hold a contest to come up with a headline for this week's cover story on the Red River Shootout. With all due modesty, when my copy of Sports Il arrives this week, I'll be surprised to see if they do better than I did!

What a classic that game was, a change from the blowouts of recent years. As somebody who generally roots for the Sooners and has been skeptical of Mack Brown's ability to win this game without Vince Young to carry him, color me very surprised. The Longhorns still have to be able to navigate a suicidal Big 12 South schedule, so while their track to the conference title game looks very possible, coming out of the conference undefeated will still be a major challenge.

I'm actually more intrigued by the other teams who appear to form the game's "Big 3" of the moment. Alabama is certainly ahead of schedule in their development and will have an even harder time than Texas coming out of the conference unbeaten, but if they can manage it, they'll have to be a favorite in the BCS Title Game. And while Nick Saban is reviving echoes of The Bear at 'Bama, Joe Pa is reviving echoes of the old, dominant Joe Pa at State College -- except that he's doing it with flash and speed, a Bizzaro World Penn State program for the new millennium. An old-school Tide/Nittany Lions national title game would really rock.

The most likely outcome, though, is chaos akin to what we saw last year down the stretch. It says here that at most one team will finish the regular season undefeated (with conference strength among the contenders pointing toward Penn State as the most likely candidate) with an absolute cluster in terms of what the various polls and computer models show in terms of the two best teams in the country. Whatever happens, though, you can count on the talking heads at Fox Sports to break out with their "Well, that's that! Science has definitively spoken!" takes once the top two teams are randomly selected on December 7.

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