NORMAN — TCU takes Owen Field on Saturday night. Could have been — would have been — Texas A&M in this slot, had the Aggies made nice with the haughty Longhorns and stayed in the Big 12.
So is that a blessing or a curse to a Sooner football team suddenly basking in the sunlight of a victory at Notre Dame?
That's the conundrum facing OU as October arrives. The Big 12, already streamlined by conference realignment, has turned soft in 2013.
OSU? Not as strong as billed, with a questionable offense. Texas? Thrilled and lucky with a one-point win at Ames. These Horned Frogs? No title threat without quarterback Casey Pachall. Kansas State? Out of Bill Snyder miracles.
Baylor looks the real deal, and Texas Tech has yet to be scarred. But the Sooners' path to Big 12 supremacy seems to be growing clearer by the week. Trips to Waco and Stillwater will be treacherous, but what looked like a crowded field of contenders is thinning quickly.
But again. Is that blessing or curse?
The Sooners are starting to sniff national contention. They're up to 11th in the AP poll, 10th in the coaches poll and eighth in the projected BCS standings. For the first week of October, that's certainly in the realm of Big Bowl contention.
Yet the Sooners – or any Big 12 team – face the possibility of December disappointment. The meager performance by Big 12 teams in non-conference games means the conference champ almost surely will lose any potential tiebreaker.
An unbeaten OU vs. an unbeaten Clemson or Florida State? The ACC would prevail. Undefeated OU vs. undefeated Oregon or Stanford? The Pac-12 champ gets the nod. Sooners at 12-0 vs. 12-0 Alabama? Do you even have to ask?
Only against an unbeaten Ohio State would an unbeaten Oklahoma have a fighting chance with BCS politics.
Truth is, a 12-0 Oklahoma would be hard-pressed to trump a 12-1 Bama or 12-1 LSU or 12-1 Georgia.
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The top 15 in the projected BCS standings, as determined by Jerry Palm of cbssports.com, and their remaining schedules:
1. Alabama: Georgia State, at Kentucky, Arkansas, Tennessee, LSU, at Mississippi State, Chattanooga, at Auburn.
2. Oregon: at Colorado, at Washington, Washington State, UCLA, at Stanford, Utah, at Arizona, Oregon State.
3. Clemson: at Syracuse, Boston College, Florida State, at Maryland, at Virginia, Georgia Tech, Citadel, at South Carolina.
4. Stanford: Washington, at Utah, UCLA, at Oregon State, Oregon, at Southern Cal, California, Notre Dame.
5. Florida State: Maryland, at Clemson, North Carolina State, Miami, at Wake Forest, Syracuse, Idaho, at Florida.
6. Ohio State: at Northwestern, Iowa, Penn State, at Purdue, at Illinois, Indiana, at Michigan.
7. Georgia: at Tennessee, Missouri, at Vanderbilt, Florida, Appalachian State, at Auburn, Kentucky, at Georgia Tech.
8. Oklahoma: TCU, Texas at Dallas, at Kansas, Texas Tech, at Baylor, Iowa State, at Kansas State, at Oklahoma State.
9. Louisville: at Temple, Rutgers, Central Florida, at South Florida, at Connecticut, Houston, Memphis, at Cincinnati.
10. LSU: at Mississippi State, Florida, at Ole Miss, Furman, at Alabama, Texas A&M, Arkansas.
11. Texas A&M: at Ole Miss, Auburn, Vanderbilt, Texas-El Paso, Mississippi State, at LSU, at Missouri.
12. UCLA: California, at Stanford, at Oregon, Colorado, at Arizona, Washington, Arizona State, at Southern Cal.
13. South Carolina: Kentucky, at Arkansas, at Tennessee, at Missouri, Mississippi State, Florida, Coastal Carolina, Clemson.
14. Washington: at Stanford, Oregon, at Arizona State, California, Colorado, at UCLA, at Oregon State, Washington State.
15. Northwestern: Ohio State, at Wisconsin, Minnesota, at Iowa, at Nebraska, Michigan, Michigan State, at Illinois.