By Skip Bayless
Page 2

The whys of Texas are upon me.

Why has the BCS formula suddenly decided Texas is slightly better than USC? The Trojans, who wield the most difficult to defend offense in NCAA history, would beat Texas by two touchdowns on a neutral field. Maybe three.

Once again, the BCS is no smarter than a Baloney and Cheese Sandwich.

Why have 10 voters of allegedly sound mind and body convinced themselves to cast their first-place votes in the Associated Press media poll for Texas? Is this the Bevo Channeling Society? Only the Longhorns' mascot -- a steer -- could have a brain small enough to deduce that Texas has proven to be superior to USC.

Thank goodness the Trojans received 55 other first-place votes this week, ensuring life as we know it will continue until the next poll.

But why in the name of "2001's" HAL did five of the six computer rankings that make up one-third of the BCS not have USC No. 1? The Trojans were second on two runaway computers, fourth on another and fifth on another.

Perhaps those who run the computers should plead the fifth or have another fifth. Yes, the Longhorns' first-place margin is only .0007 (what Timothy Dalton should have called himself when he turned James Bond into Hamlet).

But why do we keep hearing that Texas' schedule has been so much tougher than USC's? It is only in the eyes of Texas.

Yes, Ohio State in its Horseshoe was extremely tough. Yet Ohio State coach Jim Tressel blew that game more than Texas won it. Tressel appeared to be channeling Bevo by starting and finishing with quarterback Justin Zwick, even though Troy Smith led the Buckeyes on five scoring drives and built a 22-16 lead through three quarters. Zwick's late fumble clinched a 25-22 Texas win.

Ohio State couldn't recover from that loss in time to survive the dam -- or damn! -- that burst on the Buckeyes when they visited reborn Penn State. Yet Ohio State would give USC a better neutral-field test than Texas, because Ohio State has a better defense and better overall team speed than Texas.

So Texas blew away Oklahoma? Oklahoma without Adrian Peterson isn't much better than Oklahoma State.

So Texas knocked the heck out of Tech? Texas Tech just might have been the most overrated late-October top 10 team in NCAA history.

OK, mauling Colorado 42-17 in Austin was pretty impressive. So was Texas 51, Missouri 20 in Columbia. But let's remember that Big 12 fodder helped create an Oklahoma that was so overhyped that Vegas odds-makers made it a slight favorite over USC in last season's national title game.

A source close to USC coaches says they believed they "could have scored a 100" if they had wanted. They settled for 55-19.

So why haven't this year's Trojans received more poll credit for taking Oregon's best shot at Oregon, and Arizona State's best shot at Arizona State, and Notre Dame's best magic-green-jersey shot at Notre Dame, and throwing devastating counter punches?

All USC has done is lead the nation in points (49) and yards (581) a game, while producing three Heisman candidates. For two games, quarterback Matt Leinart and scatback Reggie Bush took backseats to power back Lendale White, who looks much faster than he did last season.

Come on, cut these kids a little slack. They're attempting to pull off something that hasn't been done in college football's "poll" era -- win three straight national championships. They're every opponent's bowl game, while all that really matters to the Trojans is playing in the bowl game -- January's national title game.

So they tend to pace themselves, to turn it off, then turn it way on. They know they need to save some rocket fuel for games against Washington State (which has scored 41 and 38 in its last two), at Cal (which is averaging 37.8 a game), Fresno State (43.8) and UCLA (44.4).

USC's schedule remains testy, while Texas' only potential trap remains at rival A&M's sound asylum. So obviously, if USC wins out, its strength of schedule will prevail over Texas'.

Won't it? With the Bowl Computer Saps, you never know.

Clearly, if Virginia Tech wins out, it should vault over Texas into the title game, right? At home, the Hokies have Boston College (tonight on ESPN), Miami and North Carolina, and Virginia away. They could play Florida State in the ACC title game, while Texas would be stuck with a Missouri or Colorado rematch in the Big 12 title game.

As Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer said: "If you get through all those and the computer doesn't go ring-a-ding-ding ... "

What are the odds the Hokies go 12-0? Not as long as you might think. This is an extremely well-coached team with a tough, fast, deep defense and dynamite special teams. But like Texas, Virginia Tech's offense goes as its high-risk, high-reward quarterback goes.

Tech's Marcus Vick is the more dangerous breakaway runner. He isn't quite brother Michael, but he's close. But the Longhorns' Vince Young is a little better passer than Marcus (or Michael) -- and Young is the more dynamic leader.

The other day in Austin, Texas coach Mack Brown surprised me during a brief chat by summing up his team this way: "We are Vince."

If Young plays well, the Longhorns win. If he doesn't ...

Brown and his staff have done a phenomenal job of transforming Young from a sidearm slinger into an astonishingly accurate passer. He still has a funky flip of a delivery, but at 6-foot-5, he can see the field far better than Marcus (or Michael), and most of Young's passes this season have been spirals that found their mark.

Sometimes it's almost as though Young wills the ball to his receivers. This kid could wind up being the greatest competitor -- and winner -- this school has ever had. And when you're following in the orange footprints of Bobby Layne and James Street, that's saying something.

Yet Young still occasionally reverts to the Vince the Wince of the past two seasons. He got away with two interceptions at Ohio State. A seismic first-half interception against Oklahoma was canceled by a phantom off-the-ball pass interference penalty. Young threw two first-half interceptions and missed several open receivers against Texas Tech -- yet the Red Raiders were so overmatched it didn't matter.

And some draft experts project Young as a top-five pick if he leaves after this, his junior year? If I were running an NFL team, I wouldn't bet my salary cap on Young's long-term pocket passing. A quarterback's legs can take a pro team only so far.

Yes, Young's offensive line is a herd of Bevos -- but it isn't better than USC's. Young's freshman back, Jamaal Charles, is going to be a star -- but he's no Reggie Bush. Who is? Young has a nice stable of receivers -- but no 6-5 deep threat like USC's Dwayne Jarrett.

New Texas defensive coordinator Gene Chizik, who did an underpublicized job at Auburn last season, has brought savvy and attack-mode toughness to a Longhorns defense that too often has gone soft during Brown's tenure.

But is Chizik a better defensive game-planner than USC's coach Pete Carroll? No. When the Trojans have needed to bring the pass-rushing heat this season, they can bring it the way no team can. That pass rush can camouflage an ordinary secondary when it counts.

And that's why a USC-Texas title game would look something like when Michael Vick and Virginia Tech played Florida State for the 2000 championship. Vick made some holy-cow plays early -- as would Young. But Florida State slowly asserted its superiority and won, 46-29.

That's about what would happen to Texas against USC.

This year's Virginia Tech could keep it a little closer. Ohio State could keep it a lot closer.

Instead, enjoy this week's Baloney and Cheese Sandwich.

Skip Bayless can be seen Monday through Friday on "Cold Pizza," ESPN2's morning show, and at 4 p.m. ET on ESPN's "1st & 10." His column appears twice a week on Page 2. You can e-mail Skip here.