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Oklahoma-Texas Tech matchup could be biggest game of 2008 season


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After all the games that have been played this season, just three will determine which two teams reach the BCS Championship.

Those match ups include the Big 12 and SEC title games, along with this Saturday’s No. 2 Texas Tech versus No. 5 Oklahoma contest at the Gaylord Family — Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Okla.

According to polls, Texas Tech is a heavy underdog, despite being the higher-ranked team. Not only could this battle between the Red Raiders and Sooners decide which team goes to Miami on Jan. 8, but it will also determine which team wins the Big 12 South — and likely the conference championship.

“It’s tough to win there, you know?” Texas Tech head coach Mike Leach told ESPN about playing in Norman. “They’re a good team, and they’re well-coached. We can’t worry about what everybody else thinks. We’ve got to focus on what we’re doing and go out and do the best we can.”

Oklahoma leads the series 11-4, but the Red Raiders have won two of the last three meetings. Leach said that beating Oklahoma, who has won four games in a row since losing to Texas, is Texas Tech’s biggest challenge thus far.

“It’s the same stuff as always,” Leach said. “They’re well-coached. They’ve got great players and they’re very explosive. Your margin for error is just very small. Whatever they’re worst at doing, they’re above average at doing compared to everyone else.”

A Texas Tech victory in Norman could end all brewing BCS speculation, but if Oklahoma wins, the picture gets messy. Assuming the Sooners defeat Oklahoma State the following week, and Texas Tech and Texas both win at home over Baylor and Texas A&M, respectively, the three teams will end the regular season in a three-way tie being 11-1 and 7-1 in league play.

The winner of the division, based on tiebreakers, will be the team that finishes the highest in the Nov. 30 BCS Poll.

For Texas fans, all signs lead to Oklahoma being the one that will advance to play Missouri in the Big 12 championship game. If the Sooners win out, they will most likely get the bid because at this point in the season, a victory over the second-ranked Red Raiders and a highly rated Oklahoma State unit should be enough to move them ahead of Texas and Texas Tech in the BCS Poll — despite the fact that the Longhorns beat the Sooners by 10 points on a neutral site.

No matter the implications of this game, it will be a nail-biter. Saturday’s game features three players who will likely be invited to New York next month as Heisman Trophy finalists. Texas Tech quarterback Graham Harrell has thrown for 4,077 yards with 36 touchdowns and only five interceptions, and his favorite receiver, Michael Crabtree, has 78 receptions for 1,010 yards and 18 touchdowns. Crabtree also produced the season’s most dramatic moment when he caught the winning touchdown against Texas with only one second left.

On the other side of the field, Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford has completed 67.9 percent of his passes for 3,406 yards and 38 touchdowns, which is only two more than Harrell, Oklahoma also leads the nation with 51.4 points per game, and Texas Tech is third with 47.9.

“It is as big as it gets,” Sooner senior wide receiver Juaquin Iglesias told the Kansas City Star. “Just for the fact that all of our goals are still in reach, and if we win, you never know what’s going to happen in the BCS.”

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