By Stewart Mandel
November 25, 2008

Toward the end of my column from Saturday night's Oklahoma-Texas Tech blowout, I wrote of the impending Big 12 poll controversy: "Here's a suggestion: Perhaps the voters should wait until next week's [Oklahoma-Oklahoma State] Bedlam game in Stillwater before ultimately rendering their judgment."

Apparently that advice was not heeded, as voters in every major poll vaulted the Sooners ahead of Texas in the wake of their 65-21 clinic against the Red Raiders. 'Horns coach Mack Brown called them "emotional voters," saying: "Saturday night, watching Oklahoma play and play so well, emotionally the voters jumped them up some."

I don't know if I'd call it "emotional" (if anything, most sportswriters I know are about as unemotional as they come) as much as "hasty," but he's got a point. With voters forced to turn in their ballots within hours of the OU-Tech game ending, it's understandable that the game they just watched would hold such weight.

I was as impressed with the Sooners as everyone else. How could you not be? But as I said in that column: What's the rush?

Oklahoma may well now be the best team in the Big 12, if not the country. Both the Sooners' running game and their defense have improved immeasurably since their Oct. 11 loss to Texas to go along with an already spectacular passing game.

But at this point, the Longhorns still have better overall credentials than Oklahoma. I'm not even talking specifically about their head-to-head matchup. As Bob Stoops said, you can't apply one result (Texas-OU), but disregard another (Texas Tech-Texas) in a three-way tie. I'm talking about the fact that Texas, unlike OU, won its biggest game away from home, and that the 'Horns, unlike the Sooners, have a win over Big 12 North champ Missouri on their resume.

However, one thing that neither Texas nor Texas Tech has done is beat an elite opponent at a hostile road venue. Oklahoma has a chance to do that next week at 9-2 Oklahoma State (which, you may recall, took Texas to the wire on the 'Horns' home field), and, in doing so, give credence to the notion that they're "playing better" than the 'Horns at this point in the season.

So to sum up: I left Texas (No. 3) ahead of Oklahoma (No. 4) for now. But if the Sooners play even half as well against the Cowboys as they did last Saturday, I will be awfully tempted to elevate them in next week's poll, possibly even above No. 2 Florida.

NCAA Football Power Rankings
Got a different view than Stew?
1 Alabama Crimson Tide
Last Week: 1
As sweet as this season has been for long-suffering Tide fans, who are enjoying their first 11-win season since 1994, it's all irrelevant unless Nick Saban's team ends its insufferable six-game losing streak to Auburn.
Last game: Beat Mississippi State, 32-7.
Next game: Saturday vs. Auburn.
2 Florida Gators
Last Week: 3
This will be the best Florida State team Urban Meyer has faced in his four years in Gainesville, and the 'Noles boast the toughest defense the Gators have faced this season. In other words: Don't look ahead to Alabama.
Last game: Beat The Citadel, 70-19.
Next game: Saturday at Florida State.
3 Texas Longhorns
Last Week: 4
Texas hasn't lost three-straight games against rival Texas A&M since 1994. Fortunately for the 'Horns, this year's Aggies are terrible. And do you think Mack Brown won't be interested in putting up a few "style points?"
Last game: Beat Kansas, 35-7.
Next game: Thursday vs. Texas A&M.
4 Oklahoma Sooners
Last Week: 5
How scary is the Oklahoma's offense? The Sooners are well on their way to finishing with a 4,000-yard passer (Sam Bradford has 3,710) and two 1,000-yard rushers (DeMarco Murray has 929, Chris Brown 890).
Last game: Beat Texas Tech, 65-21.
Next game: Saturday at Oklahoma State.
5 USC Trojans
Last Week: 6
Last year, the Trojans beat Notre Dame 38-0. In fairness, QB Jimmy Clausen missed that game due to injuries. With Clausen under center, and USC allowing 8.3 points per game, the Irish may well score a touchdown.
Last game: Beat Stanford, 45-23.
Next game: Saturday vs. Notre Dame.
6 Penn State Nittany Lions
Last Week: 7
It was a fitting end to a triumphant season for Penn State QB Daryll Clark, who notched career highs in yards (341) and TDs (four) against Michigan State. The defense also held Javon Ringer to a season-low 42 yards.
Last week: Beat Michigan State, 49-18.
Next game: Bowl game TBD.
7 Texas Tech Red Raiders
Last Week: 2
Of all the disappointing aspects of Tech's meltdown in Norman, the most glaring was its offensive line. After allowing just seven sacks all season, the Red Raiders gave up four against OU's young D-line.
Last game: Lost to Oklahoma, 65-21.
Next game: Saturday vs. Baylor.
8 Ohio State Buckeyes
Last Week: 8
For Michigan fans, Beanie Wells can't turn pro fast enough. His 59-yard touchdown against the Wolverines came on the heels of a 62-yard run in the 2007 game and a 52-yard score as a freshman.
Last game: Beat Michigan, 42-7.
Next game: Bowl game TBD.
9 Utah Utes
Last Week: 9
Utah Utes (12-0)
It appears likely the Utes will be spending New Year's in New Orleans. "We have a lot of intense interest in Utah," Sugar Bowl rep Terry Alacorn told the Salt Lake Tribune. "If they are [available], I don't think they'd get past us."
Last game: Beat BYU, 48-24.
Next game: Bowl game TBD.
10 Boise State Broncos
Last Week: 10
It took a full 60 minutes to put away Nevada -- the Broncos deflected a pass in the end zone as time expired -- but with the win, Boise State notched its sixth WAC title in seven years. Can somebody move these guys up a level?
Last game: Beat Nevada, 41-34.
Next game: Friday vs. Fresno State.
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