Call it depression from a heartbreaking loss, call it the Tessitore effect, call it whatever you like. The Oklahoma St. Cowboys weren't quite there on Friday night in Ames, Iowa, and as a result we could have a three horse race to determine who plays each other for the national championship
No one was hurt more by this upset than the Big 12, who saw not only one but perhaps two contenders bite the dust. The Cowboys now will have to face the Oklahoma Sooners in what amounts to a de facto Big 12 Championship game the first week of December, but it's no longer the play-in title game. Thanks to inexplicable upsets to the Texas Tech Red Raiders and Iowa St. Cyclones, both teams will go into this contest with one loss. The value of beating the other has thus diminished, and will no longer carry the cachet of beating an undefeated rival. Oklahoma has an outside shot, but they were the second biggest losers on the night.
No one seems more ready to benefit than the Alabama Crimson Tide, who could be two wins away from a rematch with LSU in the BCS National Championship. Alabama is the top one-loss team, and they will almost certainly be #2 unless Georgia Southern works some special upset elixir on Saturday. There is the small factor that they won't play an extra game if LSU clinches the division, but it shouldn't get in the way of a rematch of the defensively epic 9-6 contest we saw a few weeks ago.
But the Oregon Ducks can't be counted out either. Oregon should have an extra game if they win out, since they'll end up in a Pac-12 championship game. Beating the South opponent and 2-8 Oregon State is hardly going to boost their candidacy, but a victory over USC carries a great deal of merit and could be the extra boost the Ducks need. Still, they're right in the thick of things, even if there'll be a fierce discussion about whether they deserve this spot over Alabama. About a thousand different arguments can be made both ways, and it figures to be a mind-numbing exercise.
Thus Oregon needs more chaos to be assured of their place in New Orleans. But thanks to an inspired Cyclones effort, they're as close as they've ever been this season to tasting Mardi Gras on a January night.