Wed Sep 09 02:55pm EDT
Another tale from the new reality of the BCS era: When word of Oklahoma's loss to BYU starting spreading through Darrell K. Royal Stadium Saturday night, Texas fans naturally took even more delight in the hated Sooners' misery than they did in their own foregone triumph over Louisiana-Monroe. As the old saying goes: Losing hurts more than winning feels good, but nothing is as satisfying as your rival losing to an underdog. (And if it happens to temporarily lose its star quarterback in the process, then so be it.)
The BCS computers, however, comprehend not your irrational hu-mahn "emotions" such as hatred, and as the Austin American-Statesman's Cedric Golden points out today, Texas kind of needs Oklahoma to be good:
It's better for us if everybody (on our schedule) wins,'' coach Mack Brown said Monday. "And it's better for ratings."
Don't get me wrong. I understand how a Texas fan would celebrate a Sooners loss — any Sooners loss — but after the euphoria of Saturday night wore off early Sunday morning, reality began to set in. And the tenor of the previous evening's giddy conversations surely changed to that of concern for fans educated in BCS matters.
... The BYU win was a bad loss for the Longhorns as well. Two 5-0 teams ranked in the top three playing with two healthy Heisman Trophy candidates at quarterback is nationwide-sexy.
Those are general principles, but they're particularly true this year: Without a marquee non-conference game, Oklahoma loomed coming into the year not only as Texas' biggest prize but as possibly the Longhorns' only major skin on the wall when it came down to counting again at the end of the year. Given such a lame set of victims outside the Big 12, the Longhorns probably couldn't afford a loss to anyone, as last year proved, but both in the Big 12 and nationally, everything seemed to turn on beating the Sooners.
Where conference goals are concerned, that remains as true as ever (all conference games come down to the same bottom line in the standings), but nationally, Saturday's dominoes may have reduced that emphasis a bit -- with Oklahoma State and allegedly rebuilding Missouri both looking good in high-profile debuts, UT's potentially sketchy slate suddenly looks as treacherous as last year's late October gauntlet, with the Tigers looming again as a power in the North and the Cowboys replacing Texas Tech as the up-and-comer looking to trade on the Longhorns' visit as a program-making upset.
Just like last year, that stretch -- OU-Mizzou-OSU in consecutive weeks -- probably rivals Miami's opening run as the toughest three-game gambit any major team faces this season. So while Oklahoma may be the closest and dearest to Texas' hating heart, it's possible (depending on what happens when OU visits Miami and whether Missouri and Oklahoma State hold up their end of the deal) that, in cold strategic terms, the Sooners won't be the monolithic obstacle or the one big opportunity that they looked like a week ago. But more than ever, Texas remains very much both of those things for them.