Texas' Loss in Lubbock: Not The Same As OU's Loss in Dallas

I'm working on a longer set of notes on this mess, but I want to lay out first--all on its own--why Tech-OU-Texas is not an equilateral triangle, so to speak.

Why head-to-head works for Texas, but not Tech. While Texas fans have very forcefully laid out the case for "Texas over OU"--appropriately premised on 45-35--both lesser (Stoops) and higher (Doc Saturday) minds alike have pointed out that "head-to-head" as an argument on its own won't suffice for the Longhorns, since a literal interpretation of the principle would disallow Texas jumping the Red Raiders.

That's a legitimate point which Longhorns fans must be prepared to answer in this debate. And which they can:

Question 1: Do the totality of the circumstances involving Texas versus Texas Tech justify ranking the Longhorns higher than the Red Raiders?

Answer 1: Yes. First and foremost, the Red Raiders won the game in Lubbock. Secondarily, the game as it set up (Texas facing its fourth straight Top 10 team) and as it actually unfolded was in many ways an absolute perfect Red Raider dust storm. (Though Tech deserves credit for the performance and deserved to win that game, those are relevant factors in this secondary inquiry.) With all that in mind, it's not an unfathomable leap to justify ranking Texas over the Red Raiders, in spite of the head-to-head Tech victory. Not only did the Longhorns lose on the road, at the back end of an obscene four-game stretch, in a contest in which everything went Tech's way, but they otherwise possess a very clearly superior resume.

Question 2: Do the totality of the circumstances involving Oklahoma versus Texas justify ranking the Sooners higher than the Longhorns?

Answer 2:  No. This is the argument Longhorns fans have been making, but need to make in conjunction with all of these relevant points. It's not just that Texas beat Oklahoma head-to-head, it's that the circumstances of Texas-compared-to-OU are decisively different than Texas-compared-to-Tech. The Sooners lost to the Longhorns on a neutral field, which makes the burden the Sooners have to carry to overcome that loss higher than that which Texas has to carry to overcome the head-to-head loss to Texas Tech. Bottom line? It's one thing for Longhorns fans to make the case that Team A's crazy loss on the road to Team B can be overcome because of Team A's clearly superior resume. It's quite another to say that Team C's neutral field loss to Team A can be justified when the resume battle is as close as it is between Texas and OU.

Question 3: Do we all agree that Oklahoma (via resume and its head-to-head win) and Texas (via resume and the circumstances of its head-to-head loss) should be ranked above Texas Tech?

Answer 3:  Yes.

Question 4: Given #3, is it fair to focus solely on whether Oklahoma has done enough outside its neutral field loss to Texas to justify jumping the Longhorns?

Answer 4: Yes. Texas Tech is in this conversation only because of the tiebreaker rules: When Bob Stoops argues that logic demands we treat these situations equally, he's only half right... We do have to clear the hurdle of Question 1, but once we do--in conjunction with the consensus answer to Question 3--there's nothing illegitimate about everything Texas fans have been saying about Texas-versus-OU.

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