Saturday November 28th, 2009

WAC commissioner Karl Benson hired a PR firm to campaign for a Boise State BCS invitation. ESPN play-by-play guy Joe Tessitore sounded like a paid lobbyist for the Broncos during much of Friday night's Nevada-Boise broadcast.

Turns out, all the Boise contingent had to do was sit back and watch the rest of the field implode.

Oklahoma's 27-0 rout of No. 11 Oklahoma State on Saturday eliminated the undefeated Broncos' biggest remaining impediment to a BCS at-large berth. A Cowboys victory would likely have assured a second BCS spot for the Big 12, with the Fiesta Bowl expected to tap Oklahoma State to replace anticipated title-game participant Texas. Instead, Bob Stoops' worst Sooners team in a decade whitewashed a Cowboys team gunning for its 10-win season in two decades.

Following an ugly first quarter that saw the teams combine for zero points, three fumbles, two touchdowns overturned by replay and a missed field goal, Oklahoma (7-5) put together two scoring drives to start the second quarter. That's all the Sooners would have needed on a day when their defense completely suffocated the Cowboys' offense. Oklahoma State (9-3) punted on 14 of its 15 possessions. On the other, quarterback Zac Robinson threw an interception. The Cowboys gained 109 total yards.

Oklahoma State looked like it might finally score with just over a minute remaining when linebacker Justin Gent recovered a fumble and raced about 45 yards in the other direction -- but of course he, too, fumbled, and the Sooners recovered to seal the shutout.

It's been a rough season for Stoops' team, both on the injury front and in the wins column, but the Sooners still managed to go 6-0 at home (extending the nation's longest home winning streak to 30). Saturday's victory assures they'll finish above .500 and likely conclude their season in the Alamo or Sun bowl.

Meanwhile, a Cotton Bowl invitation likely awaits Oklahoma State, and while that's no small consolation prize, it's not nearly the same stage as the Fiesta, which is now free to welcome back the boys from Boise. Three of the four BCS at-large spots figure to go to 12-0 TCU; the loser of next week's Alabama-Florida game; and either Iowa or Penn State, both 10-2. Most of Boise State's competition for the fourth spot has fallen by the wayside.

Teams must finish in the top 14 of the BCS standings to qualify, and most of the remaining candidates will be three-loss teams. The two exceptions, 11-0 Cincinnati and 10-1 Georgia Tech, aren't considered bigger draws than Boise and will likely need to win their respective conference titles to go to the BCS.

The lone remaining team that could screw things up for the Broncos is Nebraska (9-3). If the Huskers upset No. 3 Texas in next week's Big 12 title game, both teams will go to the BCS. But it's easy to envision that one ending 27-0 as well.

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