When Oklahoma was shocked by Texas Tech on Oct. 22 in its homecoming game, the Sooners were left for the BCS trash heap. Dead as in Generalissimo Francisco Franco. George Custer. Julius Caesar.
Or so we thought.
Fast forward three weeks and lookie here: Oklahoma not only is alive and well, it may even control its own destiny for a shot at an unprecedented fifth trip to the BCS national championship game.
Yes, the Sooners may be No. 5 in the Week 12 BCS standings, but everything has worked out nicely in their favor, after both Stanford and Boise State lost to their respective nemeses Saturday night. OU's only tasks left are the Bedlam showdown in Stillwater against archrival Oklahoma State and making sure the voters aren't paying attention to what Texas Tech is doing.
With LSU the unanimous No. 1 in the polls, its spot in the BCS Standings is so entrenched that the SEC championship game might amount to a bye (more on that next week ... it's called a tease) -- let's just say it's already in. The other spot in the BCS title game is up for grabs amongst the next four teams in the standings: Oklahoma State, Alabama, Oregon and Oklahoma.
Oklahoma gets its shot at Oklahoma State, so that obstacle could be overcome on the field. Both Oregon and Alabama have already played LSU and lost. That brings the obvious question: Would the voters, who control two-thirds of the BCS Standings, want to see a rematch?
If the answer is no, then there is every possibility that they will vote for the Bedlam winner at No. 2, ensuring that team will get its chance at LSU in New Orleans. Since the BCS standings were revised in 2004 and adopted the current formula, every team that finished in the top two in the polls has played in the BCS title game. The computer ratings are completely irrelevant - they're merely a smoke screen to distract from the obvious.
For the voters to put the Sooners at No. 2, of course they'll have to forgive and forget their loss to Texas Tech and what the Red Raiders have done since - losing their next three games by a combined score of 159-33. For the arithmetically challenged: That's losing by an average of 42 points (six touchdowns!) per game.
Only one team in the BCS era has made it to the title game after a loss as egregious as that - Florida State in 1998 (in the BCS's first season) lost to a 7-5 N.C. State team but snuck into the BCS championship against Tennessee after both UCLA and Kansas State lost on the season's final day. No other BCS title-game participant has lost a game to a team that failed to win at least eight games. Texas Tech, at 5-5, will have to win its final two games plus a bowl game to reach the eight-win threshold.
But all that said, the voters just might be willing to hold their noses and put the Sooners in the title game because they desperately don't want to see a rematch. So to facilitate that, OU will want LSU to keep winning and Texas Tech to finally show some pride.
The voters also might decide something else, flying a bit under the radar at the moment.
Getting a little lost on the blue turf is that TCU not only ruined Boise State's chances of a BCS bowl berth, the Frogs might've put themselves back in contention for a third consecutive trip to a BCS game. With only home games against Colorado State (3-6) and UNLV (2-7) left, it's but a foregone conclusion that TCU will finish 10-2 and win the Mountain West title outright, in their final season in the conference.
It appears that the Horned Frogs only need a Houston loss in its three remaining games to earn the BCS bowl bid. The highest ranked non-AQ conference champion is guaranteed a BCS bowl berth, provided they're ranked in the top 16 and ahead of the highest-ranked champion of a BCS conference. Well, West Virginia is at No. 27 (you'll have to see my complete standings to know this) so that's not an issue. And since the four Big Ten teams immediately ahead of the Frogs will all have to play each other, there's just enough room for them to tuck into the top 16.
But, as Lee Corso would say: Not so fast, my friend.
TCU is at No. 19, barely ahead of Southern Mississippi at No. 20. The Frogs' lead is not statistically insignificant, but it's close. The Golden Eagles have games against UAB (2-8) and Memphis (2-8) remaining, so it appears that it's a good bet that they'll finish the regular season 11-1.
This is where it gets interesting. If Southern Miss then beats undefeated Houston in the Conference USA championship game, it just might leapfrog (pun intended) the Frogs. The Eagles are just behind TCU in the coaches poll and just ahead in the Harris poll, and they'll get a bit of a boost in the computer rankings with their game against Houston. In this case, the voters will decide which non-AQ team gets a trip to New Orleans, Miami or Phoenix.
Or nobody at all, if either team ends up at No. 17 in the final BCS Standings. The voters have the power to do that, too.
This week's BCS Bowl Projections:
BCS Championship Game: LSU vs. Oklahoma State. Maybe I'm beginning to believe now, but the Cowboys have been getting better each week, this time waxing Texas Tech with a demonic 66-6 demolition. This matchup would be a great contrast in styles and settle the debate - at least for 2011 - on whether offense or defense wins championships.
Rose Bowl: Wisconsin vs. Oregon. The Badgers are back in control of their own destiny now, and they should have no trouble handling a shaken Penn State at home to win the Leaders Division, and then going on to exact revenge on Michigan State in the Big Ten title game. If Oregon loses the Pac-12 title to the South winner ... the Tournament of Roses may decide to cancel the game, and the parade.
Sugar Bowl: Alabama vs. TCU. I'm predicting that things would work out for the Horned Frogs. Or I'm just hoping. Even though this year's TCU team isn't nearly in the same class as he Andy Dalton-led group that won the Rose Bowl last year, it'd give the Tide a better game than either Houston or Southern Miss.
Fiesta Bowl: Oklahoma vs. Stanford. The 10-2 Sooners would beat out a whole host of two- or three-loss Big Ten teams because of the bowl's affiliation with the Big 12. It would be Andrew Luck's final audition for the Indianapolis Colts before they make him the heir apparent to Peyton Manning.
Orange Bowl: Clemson vs. West Virginia. What the Big East did to the BCS is either fraud or the greatest diplomatic triumph of the 21st Century. How a conference this horrible will continue to receive automatic BCS bids for three more seasons is - even given the BCS's penchant to confound - outright mind-boggling.
Samuel Chi is the proprietor of BCSGuru.com and managing editor of RealClearSports. Sam's college football and BCS analysis, exclusively for SB Nation, will appear on Sundays and Mondays throughout the season. Follow him on Twitter at BCSGuru.