Texas sent an emphatic College Football Playoff message. Is it enough for the committee?

0 20
Connect with us

ARLINGTON — On its last lap of the Big 12, Texas held nothing back Saturday in a 49-21 rout of Oklahoma State. Besides ending a 13-year drought without a conference title, the longest in school history, the seventh-ranked Longhorns sent an emphatic message to the College Football Playoff selection committee convening this weekend in Grapevine, a 20-minute drive from JerryWorld.

If the members were listening, in fact, they probably could have heard Texas fans giving Brett Yormark hell as he tried to pay the Longhorns a compliment on their way out the door.

The Big 12 commissioner, who famously wasn’t on the Longhorns’ side earlier this season, conceded what was obvious to Mike Gundy, anyway, when he said the Longhorns’ “dominant performance proved they belong in the CFP.” Or at least that’s what it sounded like. Hard to tell under the avalanche of boos from much of the record 84,523 on hand.

Haven’t heard a reception like that since the last time Roger Goodell announced a draft pick.

Persuading the Longhorns’ highest-profile dissenter was one thing, though. The committee may have other ideas. Especially after eighth-ranked Alabama’s 27-24 upset of No. 1 Georgia in the SEC title game.

Could the committee really shut out the SEC, as some analysts had speculated if the Crimson Tide were to win, and open the door to Texas?

Or will it dismiss the Longhorns’ upset in Tuscaloosa and usher in the SEC champs, as usual?

Curiously enough, the SEC commissioner inadvertently made a better case for Texas than Yormark did on purpose.

Going into Saturday’s conference title games, Greg Sankey doubled down on Nick Saban’s comments that shutting out the SEC would be “disrespectful” by saying overlooking his league for the first time in the 10-year history of the CFP wasn’t “the real world.”

And then, of all things, he made the Longhorns’ best case for why they should get in.

“The committee has to consider big-picture issues like the Texas and Alabama game,” he told ESPN, referencing the Longhorns’ 34-24 win. “That was a huge night. Should that game be scheduled? Take that game off Alabama’s schedule and what does this look like right now?

“You have to reward people for winning those games, too.”

No more questions here, your honor.

But will the committee rule the same?

Texas made a pretty good case all its own Saturday, picking up where it left off in a 57-7 beat-down of Texas Tech. Quinn Ewers, who, according to ESPN reports, may be on the verge of announcing he’ll return, broke three Big 12 title game records with yards gained (458), passing yards (452) and completions (35) and tied another with four touchdowns.

Texas also broke Oklahoma’s Big 12 title game record of total offense with 662 yards, and it says something that the final accounting seemed like underachieving.

Say what you want about the 18th-ranked Cowboys, who were smoked by South Alabama in Stillwater, no less, and got whacked by UCF. But that 45-3 loss in Orlando last month was the only game that Oklahoma State gave up more than 34 points. Texas had more than that Saturday at halftime.

Until Bert Auburn’s streak of 19 consecutive field goals snapped just before the half, Texas had scored on every possession. No gimmes, either. After their first touchdown drive covered 39 yards, the Longhorns’ next four covered 84, 77, 95 and 82 yards.

Other than Nickolas Martin’s second-quarter interception, which set up Oklahoma State’s second touchdown, the Cowboys had no answers for Texas’ offense. Haven’t seen so many people in space since four nations sent 17 astronauts into orbit last spring.

Consider Saturday’s halftime numbers: Ewers was 23 of 31 for 354 yards and four touchdowns. The Longhorns, with 422 yards total offense, averaged nine yards a play.

In the second half, did Steve Sarkisian play the good sport by running the ball 22 times?

Or was he just showing the committee they could play bullyball, too?

Whatever it was, count Gundy a believer.

“I would guess,” he said, “that team can play with anyone in the country right now, just from what I saw live.”

Sarkisian — a little reluctant to filibuster the Longhorns’ cause because he didn’t want to pop their balloons in case the committee doesn’t rule in their favor — nevertheless claimed the Longhorns can beat you any way you want. Offense, defense or special teams. Or any combination of the above, apparently, as he proved when Ewers threw a touchdown pass to T’Vondre Sweat, the Longhorns’ 364-pound Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year.

But, as dominant as Texas has been in its last two games, winning by a combined score of 106-28, will it be enough for its first CFP berth?

“Do we think we’re one of those four?” Sark asked. “Sure we do. But this isn’t a vote.

“So it’s in their hands.”

The committee should consider that, for all the well-earned style points the SEC has accumulated, according to Power Rankings Guru, Texas played the nation’s toughest schedule. Alabama came in 17th, Washington 23rd, Ohio State 41st, Michigan 53rd, Georgia 58th, Oregon 59th and Florida State 63rd. The Longhorns have NFL-caliber personnel. Gundy said he heard that 11 Longhorns will be drafted, which would be a school record for seven rounds of a draft. Xavier Worthy, who left the game in a walking boot but is expected to be ready for a bowl game, is unguardable. The skill level is similar in the defensive line, which limited Ollie Gordon, the nation’s leading rusher, to 34 yards Saturday.

On top of all that, if Ewers plays anywhere close to like he did Saturday, or he has twice against Alabama, the Longhorns can beat anyone. They deserve the opportunity, whether Brett Yormark likes it or not.

Find more Texas coverage from The Dallas Morning News here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *