The Sooners are bowl-bound!

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) — Five interceptions one week. Five touchdowns the next. Such is life as a freshman quarterback for Oklahoma’s Landry Jones.

It’s no secret that Sooner fans have gotten more accustomed to the latter extreme than the former, but despite having lost an estimated 256,782 starting players due to injury this season, our Sooners made it look like most Texas A&M games of the past decade, extending the streak to seven consecutive wins over the Aggies and making the injury-plagued team bowl-eligible.

The Pride’s guests were The Noble Men (and Women) of Kyle—The Pulse of the Spirit of Aggieland Nationally Famous Fightin’ Texas Aggie Marching Band, and as always, the crowd greeted their halftime performance quite warmly. You can see photos of the Aggie Band on The Pride’s practice field here, along with an assertion that “The Aggie Band never loses a halftime,” including this past week.

We know the administration is already getting mail disputing this, and of course, we have documented evidence that even Texas newspapers thought The Pride won halftime the last time the Aggies came to Norman.

That, of course, was Thriller night. It’s a little bit rough on the Aggie Band that their past two visits have come during such special shows—first the 2007 Halloween show, and this weekend, a Veterans Day tribute that included the Carmen Dragon arrangement of America, The Beautiful, complete with a vocal performance from the 200-member strong University of Oklahoma Singing Sooners, and a nice nighttime fireworks show from the press box and south of the stadium.

The Noble Men (and Women) of Kyle—The Pulse of the Spirit of Aggieland Nationally Famous Fightin’ Texas Aggie Marching Band has a long and distinguished tradition, and they are always appreciated at Owen Field. I personally believe it’s kind of silly to suggest that The Pride could do something in a Halloween or Veterans Day show that would make them look like anything other than the disciplined and focused organization that they are. They’re just about the only band in the country who does what they do, and our crowd always respects their show (especially the fans in the end zones, who hear them louder because of how their drill is written). They were recognized for this excellence when they were awarded the Sudler Trophy in 2001, just as The Pride was in 1987. Both bands do what they do very well and are nationally recognized for it.

With two games left, the Sooners are now all but certain to head to a bowl. The Big 12 has seven bowl tie-ins, and we already know that Colorado cannot win the six games this season necessary for bowl eligibility (the Buffaloes are 3-7 at the moment). Baylor is 4-6 and can’t be bowl-eligible with one more loss; Texas A&M is 5-5 and must win one more game to be bowl eligible—but A&M’s next two games are against Baylor and Texas, and Baylor’s are against A&M and Texas Tech. If Baylor loses either game, they’re staying home; if A&M loses both, they’re staying home, so at most one of those two schools will play in a bowl game this season. Even if more teams hit the 6-game threshhold, there are already seven Big 12 teams that are bowl-eligible (Nebraska, KSU, Iowa State, Missouri, Texas, OSU, and Oklahoma), and it seems reasonable to guess that bowls would pick these teams first.

Texas’s win over Baylor on Saturday morning clinched the Big 12 South division for the Longhorns, so even the most remote “OU could get into the BCS somehow” scenario is now off the table. The Cotton, Holiday, Alamo, Sun, and Insight Bowls are all in play, and Alamo Bowl representatives were spotted on the field Saturday night (on the A&M sideline). But now the Sooners have to travel to Lubbock to face a Texas Tech team, in their house, with an identical 6-4 record. Kickoff is at 11:30 AM CDT on the regional Fox Sports Networks, so keep your red and white at hand.

A Pride wedding!

Congratulations to Nicole and Craig!

Nicole Chantal Cobb and Craig Raymond Maucere were united in marriage Saturday, Aug. 8, 2009, at 5:30 p.m. in The Piazza in the Village in Colleyville, Texas, with Rodney Howell officiating.

The couple met while attending the University of Oklahoma through participating in the Pride of Oklahoma Marching Band. Craig graduated in 2008 with a degree in political science and Nikki graduated in 2009 with a bachelor’s degree in musical arts with an emphasis in business.

Click through to see a lovely wedding picture. I have no idea why the paper didn’t publish an August 8 wedding until November 10 (sometimes teh interwebs get confused on these things), but a hearty congratulations to two alums!

Last 2 kickoff times [UPDATED]

The regional Fox Sports Network channels (“Fox Sports Southwest” here in central Oklahoma) has picked up all three of the Sooners’ remaining games. We already knew that FSN would broadcast the OU vs. Texas A&M game at 6:00 PM CDT this Saturday, but on Monday, the athletic department’s Twitter feed filled in the remaining details:

OU-OSU set for 11:30 a.m., on FSN. OU-Tech will be at either 11:30 or 2 on FSN. Should know which one in the next day or two.

And then:

FSN has set OU at Texas Tech for 11:30 a.m., on Nov. 21.

Our Events calendar has been updated appropriately. The early kickoff time for the OSU game means Bedlam rehearsal for this year’s Pride members will be Marching In The Dark! Didn’t you love those 6:00 AM rehearsal times?

(Don’t answer that.)

Bowling for Implications

Losing a game is always tough; losing one in Nebraska, doubly so. Credit to the Cornhuskers for making the big plays they needed to pull off the upset.

At 5-4 (3-2 conference), Oklahoma is now tied with Texas Tech for third place in the Big 12 South, and the post-season implications are becoming clearer.

  • Oklahoma will not go to a BCS bowl this year. Regardless of what happens to every other team from here on out, the best the Sooners can finish is now 8-4, and teams must have nine wins to be invited to a BCS bowl as an at-large team. That rules out the Rose, Fiesta, Sugar, and Orange Bowls.

  • Here is the order in which bowl games choose from the Big 12 teams at the end of the season. This is a choosing order: the #2 team in the conference does not get the #2 bowl slot, etc. Aside from the BCS’s obligation to put the Big 12 champion somewhere, the bowls are free to pick any Big 12 team they want, in this order:

    1. BCS (conference champion plus up to one more team)
    2. Cotton Bowl (January 2, 2010; Arlington, TX)
    3. Holiday Bowl (December 30, 2009; San Diego, CA)
    4. Alamo Bowl (January 2, 2010; San Antonio, TX)
    5. Sun Bowl (December 31, 2009; El Paso, TX)
    6. Insight Bowl (December 31, 2009; Phoenix, AZ)
    7. Independence Bowl (December 28, 2009; Shreveport, LA)
    8. Texas Bowl (December 30, 2009; Houston, TX)

    At 8-4, the Cotton Bowl would probably pass on the Sooners. The Holiday Bowl might take them given other reasons (explained shortly), and the Alamo Bowl certainly would if the other bowls passed.

  • This takes into consideration that once again, the Big 12 North teams have feasted upon themselves. Kansas State is winning the division right now with a 4-2 conference record, 6-4 overall. If KSU wins out, their best hope is to match the Sooners at 8-4, and for better or worse, the bowls seem to believe that Oklahoma brings more fans (and money) to a bowl game than KSU does, despite the intensely loyal Wildcat fan base.

    If Nebraska wins out, they’d win the division by finishing 9-3, but to get there they’ll have to beat Kansas in Lawrence, Kansas State in Lincoln, and Colorado in Boulder. Colorado is 3-6 right now, but they have a history of giving the Cornhuskers season-ending disappointments.

    Missouri could theoretically finish 8-4 by winning out, but the Tigers are currently 1-4 in Big 12 play and can’t win their division. It’s the same story with 5-4 Kansas, because all four losses are conference losses—and the Jayhawks next host the Cornhuskers and then play Texas in Austin. It seems a safe call that the Big 12 North battle is now between Nebraska and Kansas State.

    Therefore, in the best-case scenario for the Big 12 North, the division champion is Nebraska at 9-3 before the Big 12 Championship game, most likely against Texas. If it is Nebraska and they win, obviously they’re going to the Fiesta Bowl and another BCS bowl will take Texas as an at-large team. If Texas wins that matchup, Nebraska’s probably headed for the Cotton or Holiday Bowl.

  • A Big 12 North-champ Nebraska is not a shoo-in at the Cotton Bowl because the Oklahoma State Cowboys (!) are 7-2 right now, 4-1 in conference play. If OU wins out, OSU will finish 9-3 and be ranked significantly higher than Nebraska, and therefore more attractive to the Cotton Bowl (though I’m not sure how attractive to the Holiday Bowl; more on that later yet). If OSU wins out, they’ll finish 10-2 without playing for the Big 12 Championship and I can’t imagine them going any lower than the Holiday Bowl.

    Since Texas beat OSU, OSU’s only route to the Big 12 Championship is if OSU wins out and Texas loses two of its last three games: at Baylor, hosting Kansas, and then at Texas A&M on Thanksgiving Night. The Aggies can beat the Longhorns in any given year, no matter what the record of either team is. That would probably knock Texas out of the BCS National Championship, but Texas clinches the Big 12 South by defeating both Baylor and Kansas, and will play for the conference championship and a BCS bowl in that case regardless of the outcome on Thanksgiving Night.

Given these facts, an 8-4 Sooner team seems good for the Holiday Bowl and all but certain for the Alamo Bowl if the Holiday Bowl passes. A 7-5 Sooner team (remember, the Sooners have to visit Lubbock in two weeks, and Texas Tech has scored touchdowns against OU there without actually getting the ball into the end zone) is probably too weak for the Holiday Bowl and maybe the Alamo Bowl, where the opponent will be the fourth pick from the Big Ten. The Sun Bowl would probably like the Sooners, but so would the Insight Bowl. The latter is run by the Fiesta Bowl committe, and the Fiesta Bowl people appear to be very fond of the Sooners and The Pride after the past few visits—and Oklahoma did not go to Phoenix last year.

The wild card? This is the final season on this round of bowl contracts, including the BCS bowls, and the bowls have been renegotiating all year with the conferences for the next four years. That means that starting with the 2010 football season, the Big 12’s bowl selection order changes to this:

  1. BCS (conference champion plus up to one more team)
  2. Cotton Bowl
  3. Alamo Bowl
  4. Insight Bowl
  5. Holiday Bowl
  6. Texas Bowl
  7. Yankee Bowl (new bowl game in new Yankee Stadium in NYC)
  8. Alternating:
    • Dallas Football Classic (new bowl in Cotton Bowl stadium, since Cotton Bowl Classic moves to Cowboy Stadium starting this season) in 2010 and 2012
    • EagleBank Bowl in 2013

The Dallas Football Classic is a “contingency” bowl (a tie-in in case the conference has more bowl-eligible teams than regular bowl games) in 2011 and 2013, and the EagleBank Bowl is a contingency bowl in 2011. There doesn’t seem to be a fixed #8 pick in 2011. As always, the bowls lower in the list are free to pick from other conferences if the Big 12 doesn’t field that many bowl-eligible teams (six wins).

This is what I was hinting at earlier: starting next season, the Holiday Bowl picks fifth from Big 12 bowl-eligible teams, not third. What’s more, right now, the Holiday Bowl gets first pick of the Pac-10 conference after the BCS—the same position the Cotton Bowl holds for the Big 12—but starting next season, the Alamo Bowl gets second choice, and I read that as saying they’ll pick before the Holiday Bowl.

If you look at the Pac-10 standings, you’ll see Oregon (5-1 in conference play), Mike Stoops’s Arizona team (4-1), Stanford (5-2), and USC (4-2).

This means that, this season, the Holiday Bowl could set up a match between OU and USC, or OU and Arizona with different Stoops brothers as head coaches on opposite sidelines. That may be too juicy a pairing to pass up, even if OU is 8-4 or, possibly, even 7-5. Arizona still has to play Cal, Oregon, Arizona State and USC (and only Oregon is a home game for the Arizona Wildcats); USC has yet to play Stanford, UCLA, and Arizona. So both of those teams can’t win out, and each of them could lose more than one game. But the possibility exists, and if both OU and either Arizona or USC is available to the Holiday Bowl, it might just be irresistible—even with OU’s record, especially since the Holiday Bowl probably can’t set up a similar matchup anytime in the next four years.

So, in my humble opinion, keep the Holiday Bowl in mind even if the Sooners don’t finish 8-4. It may be that perfect storm of bowl circumstances that lead to a fascinating game that might otherwise never exist. A bowl committee could find that hard to resist. Meanwhile, the Sooners host the Texas A&M Aggies this week, along with The Noble Men (and Women) of Kyle—The Pulse of the Spirit of Aggieland Nationally Famous Fightin’ Texas Aggie Marching Band, in a game televised on FSN starting at 6:00 PM CST. Every game remains must-win for the Sooners’ best post-season chances, so I hope if you’re not in Norman, you’re in front of a good TV in your crimson & cream. BOOMER SOONER!

YouTube “Thriller” videos

Here are the ones I’ve found so far; please feel free to add your own in the comments.

From the sidelines (posted earlier):

From the top part of the home side lower deck, directly across from where The Pride sits. (This one includes the whole show, so you can see the formations that spell things and form things like a conestoga wagon!)

From near the home sidelines, focusing on Pride drum major Jason Marshall (Thriller only):

Know more? Let us know!

See Homecoming performances from the press box!

Want to see what both pre-game and halftime looked like from above last Saturday night? Click here.

(Adobe Flash required, so it won’t play on an iPhone or iPod Touch. The video starts with the BYU Pre-game, but skip along the bottom row of thumbnails by clicking the “->|” icon and the last two, as of this writing, are the Kansas State Pre-Game Show (starting with the Alumni Band!) and Kansas State Halftime.

This is provided courtesy of CVWmedia, the videographers for The Pride, who are taking orders for the 2009 Pride of Oklahoma DVD—:$30 if purchased before November 15th, and $35 if purchased afterward.

Next two kickoff times set [UPDATED]

Update: And now, a day later, we know that the next home game on November 14, when the Sooners host the Texas A&M Aggies, will kickoff at 6:00 PM CST with regional coverage on Fox Sports Networks (FSN). That’ll make the schedule very similar to the Homecoming schedule, but without the parade and the OUBAA participation, of course. :-):

The Athletic Department just announced that Nebraska vs. OU will kick-off at 7:00 PM CST on ABC. The network had taken what I think was the last of their “six-day notice” opportunities for the season and not set the kickoff time until today or tomorrow. This is good news, because the game will be more widely available—had ABC not aired the game at either 2:30 PM or 7:00 PM, it would have gone to the Comcast network Versus, who would have aired it at 11:30 AM.

(A huge number of people do not have Versus, including the tens of millions DirecTV subscribers, because DirecTV was already paying Comcast more than the channel was worth given its ratings before September 2009. Then Comcast demanded something like an 80% increase in the cost to carry the channel, even though the ratings hadn’t gone up significantly in the four years that DirecTV had been paying more than it had already been worth. DirecTV stood firm, and Versus left DirecTV on September 1. ABC’s decision to carry the game means millions more people will see the 5-3 Sooners battle the 5-3 Huskers in one of the Big 12’s most traditional grudge matches.)

We’ll have a lot more on the aftermath of Homecoming 2009 in the next few days as everyone recovers, but please allow me to say both “thank you” for your kind words yesterday and for the treats, and to say that I thought that halftime exceeded my wildest expectations. When we start seeing videos of last night (as opposed to from November 1, 2007—you can tell the difference because last time, the Pride was wearing white coats, not red ones), we’ll start linking and embedding them on a special page here. But from me, thank you for an exceptionally memorable and fantastic Homecoming. I’m very proud to have been able to support all of you in ambitious performances like that one, and you all came through magnificiently.