STILLWATER — BCS politics kept OU out of the Sugar Bowl last season. BCS politics could put the Sooners in the Sugar Bowl this season.
OU's 33-24 Bedlam victory put the Sooners in the hopper for a Bowl Championship Series berth. It appears the Sugar will choose between the Sooners and Oregon to play in the New Orleans game on Jan. 2. And with the Big 12 and the Southeastern Conference entering into an agreement in which they basically own the Sugar Bowl, the Sugar could lean toward OU.
“It can't hurt,” said a Big 12 source Saturday at Boone Pickens Stadium.
If OU is selected for the Sugar, OSU appeared headed for the Jan. 3 Cotton Bowl, against a Southeastern Conference opponent. If OU is not selected for the Sugar, the Cotton would choose between OU and OSU.
The Austin American-Statesman reported that a bowl source attending the Texas-Baylor game Saturday in Waco, Texas, said that the Cotton would choose OU, in hopes of pairing the Sooners against South Carolina, which would pit OU coach Bob Stoops against one of his mentors, Steve Spurrier. If the Cowboys go to the Cotton, the SEC representative might be former Big 12 school Missouri, which lost to Auburn in the SEC championship game Saturday.
OU's ascent into BCS contention came courtesy of Northern Illinois, which lost in the Mid-American Conference championship game Friday night. Had the Huskies defeated Bowling Green, they would have almost certainly qualified for the BCS, just as they did last year when they ascended to No. 15 in the final rankings and earned an automatic berth, knocking the Sooners out. A BCS rule allows the champion of a non-automatic qualifying conference to make the BCS, if it is ranked in the top 16 and above one of the automatic qualifiers.