Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Texas has no place to go but up


If Texas finishes unbeaten, it will play for the national title, independent BCS analyst Jerry Palm said Sunday.

He also added some advice for the Longhorns, who were third in the initial BCS standings.

“They only have to worry about Texas,” said Palm, who owns and operates CollegeBCS .com. “Now they might have to play a little better to stay unbeaten.”

Defending national champion Florida led the first BCS standings, followed by Southeastern Conference rival Alabama.

Texas was a solid third. The Longhorns were No. 3 in the USA Today and Harris Interactive polls, although they received little love from the six proprietary computer rankings that comprise one-third of the BCS formula.

“I think it’s pretty much as expected,” Palm said. “Three teams control their own destiny. Texas is one of those. Everybody else is looking for help.”

Based on precedent, Palm sees an undefeated Texas advancing to the BCS title game even if Florida and Alabama each have perfect records and meet for the SEC title.

He noted that no undefeated team from a power conference has been leapfrogged by a one-loss team for a title game appearance.

Texas coach Mack Brown went over the details with his players Sunday, saying he was confident of playing for a title if his team finished undefeated.

“The polls have more legitimacy when the BCS standings come out than they do the first of the year,” Brown said. “We’re proud of the guys that they’ve worked hard and won their first six games and are in the top three of the first poll.

“We address the polls on Sunday, and then it’s our job to earn our spot on Saturday.”

The Longhorns are fresh from an emotional 16-13 victory over Oklahoma in the AT&T; Red Rivalry.

At the same time, the defensive struggle didn’t win Texas many style points. Alabama jumped Texas for second in the USA Today coaches poll.

Palm dismissed possible warning signs hidden in the fine print.

Just three of the six computer models had Texas in the top five.

One, operated by statistician Jeff Sagarin, had the Longhorns 15th.

No problem, Palm said, noting that the Longhorns are last in the computers among the top six teams remaining.

“Texas has no place to go but up in the computers,” Palm said.

Nor does he see Texas being passed by any schools lower in the current standings — as long as the Longhorns win. Palm views No. 4 Boise State as having already peaked in the polls.

Texas’ biggest tests may come the next two weeks.

Saturday, the Longhorns travel to Missouri (4-2) in a nationally televised night game.

The following week, on Halloween, Texas faces Big 12 South rival Oklahoma State (5-1) in Stillwater.

A year ago, Texas rose to No. 1 before losing at Texas Tech on Nov. 1.

“All of our attention has moved to Missouri,” Brown said. “We have a tough Big 12 road game, and the rest of the discussion about things that involve the end of the season is very unimportant. The guys understand that and are moving forward.”


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