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Certain Uncertainty
October 11, 2008
By Wendell Barnhouse
Big 12 Correspondent

Texas left the Cotton Bowl Saturday having answered some questions. A team that entered the season happy to be flying under the radar is suddenly a large blip on the screen.

"Everybody's questioned this team, including me," Longhorns coach Mack Brown said after his fifth-ranked team knocked off No. 1 Oklahoma 45-35. "I'm sitting around saying, 'I don't know how good they are?'

"Now, we're looking at a bigger goal." 

Texas proved that its defense is good enough to stop Oklahoma when needed, that its running game isn't totally impotent and that its wide receivers are more than capable of making big plays.

Those were the questions answered on Saturday. An SAT's worth of questions await the Longhorns and the rest of the Big 12 Conference.

How will the rankings shake out? How high will Texas rise? Can the Longhorns regroup in time to face a Missouri team that will be anxious to avenge Saturday night's upset loss to Oklahoma State? Can Texas sweep October (Oklahoma State follows Missouri to Austin)? Will the voters penalize Texas Tech for its overtime escape of Nebraska's upset bid? Could anyone believe that the expected shootout in Columbia between Missouri and Oklahoma State became a defensive UCF octagon match?

(Here's one question Your Humble Correspondent would like to ask and answer: Should fans have been surprised by Oklahoma State's upset of Missouri? No. Here's why: Missouri took the field knowing it could be No. 1 with a victory; the Tigers were coming off an emotional, historical victory at Nebraska and they knew Texas was next on the schedule. Too much karma to overcome, even for Mizzou's offense.)

One week before the Bowl Championship Series rankings makes its 2008 debut, Sunday's rankings will be newsworthy.

No. 4 Alabama, which didn't play Saturday, is 6-0. No. 6 Penn State is now 7-0 after a blow out victory at Wisconsin. Texas could jump from No. 5 to No. 1 after beating No. 1.

And what of Oklahoma? The Sooners are 5-1. Winning the Big 12 South requires Texas losing twice and OU winning the rest of its games.

"We're halfway through the year," said Stoops, whose team plays host to 5-1 Kansas Saturday. "We have to keep our heads up and keep competing. We have a long year still ahead of us."

The Sooners are not unlike a number of other one-loss teams. Missouri, USC, Ohio State, Georgia, Florida and LSU aren't out of the hunt for the BCS title game but they can't afford another loss.

In college football these days, every season is like a book. Each week is a chapter. And even if you're one of those folks who like to skip ahead and read the ending, you can't. Next week we get to read Chapter Eight.

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