The writing has been on the wall for weeks now, and today it came true: the Texas Longhorns were passed over for the National Championship Game, even though they beat one of the teams going to Miami. Texas’ only loss came on the last second against a top ten team, while Oklahoma lost to Texas on a neutral field by 45-35, and Florida lost to unranked Ole Miss at home by 31-30 (four loss Ole Miss was 25th in the final BCS ranking).
While Texas ended up only 0.018 behind Florida in the BCS, Texas did not go to the national championship for two simple reasons:
- Blake Gideon let a game-winning interception slip through his fingers in the final drive against Texas Tech.
- The quality of non-conference opposition matters, and ours weren’t very good.
The former will be corrected through coaching. The latter is with us for at least the next two seasons, perhaps much longer.
But, as I’ve heard Mack Brown say on occasion, it is what it is.
So, Texas is off to Glendale, Arizona on January 5th for the Fiesta Bowl against the Ohio State Buckeyes.
By any traditional measure, Ohio State should be grossly overmatched in this game. Ohio State limped to second place in the Big Ten in an extremely weak year for the conference. Frankly, the Big Ten does not deserve two BCS bids this year, and Ohio State got in on reputation from previous years, not what they did on the field this year.
On the other hand, Jim Tressel is a fine coach, and he’ll have his Buckeyes ready to play Texas for the third time in five years. Each team has won once head-to-head, with the Fiesta Bowl serving as a tie-breaker.
The real challenge Texas faces is emotional. After a heck of a season, where they played lights out for all but the first half of the Texas Tech game, not making the national championship game is quite the bitter pill. It’s certainly possible that the Longhorns could come into the game with their heads hanging, and get pummeled.
If that happens, it will prove everyone who voted the Longhorns down correct. Everyone who said that Texas doesn’t belong in the national championship game will be vindicated. Barry Switzer will have been right.
Texas cannot allow this.
Fortunately, other than the 2003 Holiday Bowl against Washington State, Mack Brown simply has not let this sort of thing happen. Whenever something has slugged his Longhorns in the mouth, he has rallied them and kept them focused on the task at hand.
I expect him to do the same in the Fiesta Bowl, and to show everyone just how wrong they were.