NORMAN — Ironically, non-conference opponents broke the three-way tie in the Big 12 South Division last year. Oklahoma boasted wins over Cincinnati and TCU, both Top 15 teams. Texas’ best victory came against unranked Rice. For those reasons, the Sooners narrowly edged Texas in the BCS Standings to advance to the Big 12 Championship. In 2009, the chances of another three-way tie involving OU and Texas are unlikely. But if Oklahoma State, which is expected to open in the preseason Top 10, can emerge as last year’s Texas Tech, it’s possible. And if non-conference strength of schedule becomes the deciding factor again, OU has to like its chances over Texas in spite of last week’s announcement that Idaho State — essentially Tennessee-Chattanooga Part II — would complete the Sooners’ non-conference slate. That’s because OU’s other three opponents — Brigham Young, at Miami and Tulsa — all qualified for bowls and finished a combined 28-12 last season. Meanwhile, of Texas’ four 2009 non-league opponents — Louisiana-Monroe, at Wyoming, Central Florida and Texas-El Paso — none had a winning record in 2008. To alleviate the disparity of its non-conference schedule, Texas attempted to add a quality opponent to no avail earlier this month, according to the Austin American-Statesman. At the request of ESPN, Texas agreed to shift its game against Central Florida to a future year and substitute Wisconsin onto this season’s schedule. But the schools couldn’t agree on a return date to Madison, Wis., until 2013, and the proposal faltered. As it is, the Longhorns will probably begin the 2009 season ahead of OU in the polls. But trailing the Sooners significantly in strength of schedule.
Oklahoma’s non-conference schedule →Sept. 5 Brigham Young, Dallas Cowboys Stadium (10-3) →Sept. 12 Idaho State (1-11) →Sept. 19 Tulsa (11-3) →Oct. 3 at Miami, Dolphin Stadium (7-6) Texas’s non-conference schedule →Sept. 5 Louisiana-Monroe (4-8) →Sept. 12 at Wyoming (4-8) →Sept. 19 Central Florida (4-8) →Sept. 26 UTEP (5-7) Oklahoma State’s non-conference schedule →Sept. 5 Georgia (10-3) →Sept. 12 Houston (8-5) →Sept. 19 Rice (10-3) →Sept. 26 Grambling State (11-2) Note: Opponents’ 2008 records in parenthesis Comparing the three schools’ non-conference schedules
While Texas’ non-conference schedule is poor in comparison with Oklahoma’s, Oklahoma State’s holds up well. The Cowboys play perennial SEC power Georgia as well as Houston and Rice, two schools coming off bowl seasons. OSU’s last opponent, Grambling State, is a Football Championship Subdivision school. But unlike OU’s FCS foe, Idaho State, which went 1-11 last year, the Tigers are a power at their level, posting an 11-2 mark last season. What does all this mean? In the end, probably nothing, at least concerning the Sooners. Since OU and OSU play during the final week of the regular season, the loser is unlikely to survive in the event of a three-way tie with Texas that came down to BCS rank. More likely, a three-way tie would be decided between the Bedlam winner and the Longhorns. In 2008, Texas Tech proved that the team that loses last has little shot in a three-way tie decided by the BCS. The same would also seem true for the Bedlam rivals.