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It's Florida vs. Oklahoma in BCS national-title game

Unlike the last 2 years, when America had to wait until Sunday night to find out who Ohio State was going to get rolled by in the BCS national-title game, this matchup was unofficially a done deal by the time most of the country went to bed on Saturday.

Unlike the last 2 years, when America had to wait until Sunday night to find out who Ohio State was going to get rolled by in the BCS national-title game, this matchup was unofficially a done deal by the time most of the country went to bed on Saturday.

And there's nothing Texas can do about it, except go to another BCS bowl and try really hard not to start thinking about next year's scrum against Oklahoma.

Perhaps the Longhorns (11-1) deserved to play in Saturday's Big 12 final instead of Oklahoma (12-1), which they beat by 10 in neutral Dallas on Oct. 11. And perhaps they would have beaten Missouri (9-4) again. Perhaps by even more than the 25 points they beat the Tigers by on Oct. 18. Or more than the 41 the Sooners scorched Missouri by in Kansas City.

Doesn't matter anymore. What's done, right or wrong, fair or not, is irreversible.

The voters and computers have spoken.

Florida (12-1) beat Alabama (12-1) in the Southeastern Conference finale, 31-20, by scoring the only 14 points in the fourth quarter. The Gators have now won nine straight, by an average of 36.5 points, since losing by one at home (on a missed PAT) to Mississippi (8-4).

They will be in Miami on Jan. 8, going for their second ring in 3 years. Standing in their way is Oklahoma - and former Florida assistant Bob Stoops - which did its part by dismantling Missouri as anticipated, 62-21. The Sooners are the first Division I-A team to ever put up at least 60 in five consecutive games. And in the game that would have made it six, they ended up with 58 against Kansas State. After scoring 55 in the first half.

Vegas Vic has made the Gators a three-point pick in his early line.

So we end up with a title game that 49 states wanted to see. Can't satisfy everybody, unless two teams run the table. And we don't mean Utah and Boise State.

"If you choose to, you can find many reasons [to choose Oklahoma]," Stoops said. "Some media members would have you believe head-to-head is the only [criteria] that matters.

"[The Big 12] went to a [tiebreaker] system that all of us agreed upon before the season. If you want to change it, I'll play by whatever rules they want to play by. Just tell me before the season."

When seven teams from BCS conferences all finish with a loss, it's hardly an exact science. Texas Tech, which was also part of the three-way in the Big 12 South that was settled by last week's next-to-last BCS standings, isn't even going to a BCS bowl.

Tech beat Texas at home on the final play on Nov. 1. Oklahoma beat Tech at home by 44 on Nov. 22.

But the BCS was only implemented a decade ago to give us a top two. Whatever you think about it, you can't dismiss the relative merits of this pair. Not that anyone in Austin is buying that.

With Alabama's loss, Oklahoma moved up from second to first, with a BCS average of .9757. Florida, which went from fourth to second, had a final number of .9479. The Longhorns, who remained third, checked in at .9298.

It's hard to make a closing statement when you're idle.

Oklahoma was first in the USA Today (coaches) poll, second in the Harris (media). Florida was second and first, respectively. That was enough to offset the fact that Texas was No. 2 in computer average, just ahead of Florida (OU was first).

"You never know, when it's out of your control," Florida coach Urban Meyer said. "But I was fairly confident that we'd get a shot to go to Miami."

Anyway, Florida and Oklahoma have never met. The SEC has won the last two titles, Texas won the one before that. The winner will join Louisiana State as the only teams to win two BCS titles this century. Southern Cal, which earned a fourth consecutive bus ride to the Rose Bowl by beating UCLA, also has a pair if you count the half a crown it won in 2003 (Associated Press). Texas can't even hope for that because it dropped a spot in the AP (media poll that's not part of the BCS formula), to third.

Oklahoma won it all in 2000, in Stoops' second season, but has dropped four straight BCS bowls since then. Stoops was the defensive coordinator at Florida under Steve Spurrier when the Gators won it all in 1996.

Oklahoma won that 2000 title in Miami, when the Orange Bowl was the venue. It got mauled by USC in the 2004 final, the last time it was held in Dolphins Stadium.

Florida quarterback Tim Tebow won the Heisman Trophy last year. He might win it again. Or Oklahoma QB Sam Bradford might hoist the trophy. And we all know how Heisman winners have fared in recent bowls.

"We haven't faced a team quite like Oklahoma," Meyer said. "It's all about personnel. We'll be ready. The Gators have a pretty good team as well."

In the other BCS games, Big East winner Cincinnati (11-2) gets Atlantic Coast Conference champion Virginia Tech (9-4) in the Orange. The Bearcats will be making their first BCS appearance, while the ACC has lost eight straight BCS bowls.

Penn State (11-1) of the Big Ten and USC (11-1) will meet in the traditional Big Ten/Pac-10 matchup.

In the Sugar it's Alabama and Utah (12-0). The Utes completed an unbeaten season in 2004 (under Meyer) by beating Pittsburgh in the Fiesta Bowl.

And in the Fiesta, Texas draws Ohio State (10-2).

In a perfect world it might have made more sense to match Texas and Alabama, and Utah and Boise State (12-0). But once you set 1-2, it's no longer about intrigue.

By the way, there's virtually no chance that any kind of a playoff will be put in before 2014. Don't ask.

At least that gives President-elect Barack Obama a platform for his run at a second term. It might even earn him some support in a Republican stronghold. Or not. Either way, it will be too late to help these Longhorns. *