It has been far too long since the last mailbag post, and with four weeks already gone by in the college football season I will accept the penalty for a delay of game. But I’m here now and ready to get started.
Let’s move on and check this week’s inbox. First, some Twitter questions…
@KevinOnCFB Utah and WSU, two under-the-radar Pac-12 teams, play this weekend. Who ‘ya got?
— Nick Nerbonne (@NickNerbonne) September 25, 2014
I feel as though this week’s game at Utah actually has a good chance to be entertaining. Washington State gave Oregon all it could handle last week, so I am concerned about a letdown on the road after Mike Leach got his Cougars amped up for the Ducks. Plus, Utah can be pretty tough at home. I sort of missed the fact is Utah is 3-0 heading into this game too. Utah is coming off a big win at Michigan last week, but I do not expect this to be a hangover situation after returning home. I like the Utes going to 4-0 mostly because I just cannot trust Washington State’s defense.
I find it somewhat comical the amount of attention being given to Lane Kiffin at Alabama this week. Nick Saban had to go on a lecture to the media defending the hiring of Kiffin, and I am not exactly sure why. Is Alabama’s offense perfect? No, but they are pretty darn good. Blake Sims has taken control of the offense, Amari Cooper is the best receiver in the country and the Crimson Tide currently have the fifth best total offense in the country. So what are people nitpicking with Kiffin and Alabama? Turnovers. Alabama has turned the football over seven times this season and will enter this weekend with a -3 turnover margin. It is not as though Alabama’s turnover margin was stellar last season, with a minimal +2 (five turnovers in the Sugar Bowl hurt though).
Honestly, I see no reason to believe Kiffin will not stick around in Tuscaloosa for a couple of seasons. I think it will be more likely Kiffin leaves Alabama for another crack as head coach somewhere before I think Alabama would cut ties with him on its own.
Now, a few others that made their way to the inbox this week.
I understand Marshall is a long shot at best to play in the College Football Playoff, but what are the chances Marshall gets a spot in the New Years Bowl line-up? – Joshua S., Huntington, West Virginia
Entering the season I predicted Marshall would go undefeated with a Conference USA Championship Game victory for a perfect 13-0 record, but the Thundering Herd would be left out of the playoff. I think there is a realistic chance a 13-0 Marshall team would be left out of the New Years bow line-up as well. I sort of touched on this a bit this week while reviewing the Group of Five rankings in the McGuire Metric. A spot in a New Years or College Football Playoff-affiliated bowl (Orange Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, Cotton Bowl or Peach Bowl this season) is reserved for the highest ranked conference champion from the American Athletic Conference, Conference USA, MAC, Mountain West Conference or Sun Belt Conference, according to the College Football Playoff selection committee’s rankings. Nobody knows juts how the selection committee is going to work so we will have to wait until late October to get a sense for how they assess Marshall, assuming the Herd remain undefeated.
In my book, Marshall needs help. They need East Carolina to not win the AAC because the Pirates are the team to beat right now. Cincinnati losing to Ohio State and Miami and coming back to win the AAC could play in Marshall’s favor, but then you have to watch to see if Boise State can finish strong.
If BYU goes undefeated this season, should they be in the College Football Playoff? – Matt H., Salt Lake City, Utah
I have been saying the past couple of weeks that if BYU continues to win games then they are going to make for some interesting conversations in November. I think there is a very real chance we see BYU go 12-0, although I am not sure I would bank on it. If the Cougars go undefeated, then quarterback Taysom Hill will make me eat my words and be heading to New York City for the Heisman Trophy presentation as a finalist. But will BYU be one of the four teams invited to play in the first College Football Playoff? That is where I have some doubts.
As I continue to stand by, we have no idea how the selection committee is going to evaluate everything, so this could easily change once we start seeing their rankings in late October. For the time being, I cannot imagine a 12-0 team would crack the four playoff spots ahead of an SEC champion, an undefeated or one-loss Florida State, an undefeated or one-loss Oregon or Stanford as Pac-12 champion, or an undefeated Baylor or undefeated or one-loss Oklahoma. I would even think a one-loss Big Ten champion is still blocking BYU’s path to the Rose Bowl or Sugar Bowl as a semifinalist. I think the more realistic goal for BYU will be a spot in one of the New Years bowl games, and at 12-0 I would consider them a near lock and a perfect get for the Fiesta Bowl. If a 12-0 BYU is left out of the New Years bowl games, the discussion about BYU’s independence is going to ramp up in the offseason. If BYU was a part of the Mountain West Conference right now, they would probably be in a better position than East Carolina.
With his character flaws well-documented, is Florida State QB Jameis Winston now out of the running for the Heisman Trophy? – Garrett W., Atlanta, Georgia
I took some time to address this issue last week in my weekly Heisman Trophy piece for CBS Local, and my stance has not changed. Winston was climbing an uphill battle for a second Heisman Trophy anyway, and his latest suspension against Clemson does not help his cause. Winston may still be appearing on Heisman ballots at the end of the year, because he really is one of the best in the game when he is on the field, but I have to imagine the Heisman Trophy voters will be much more inclined to vote for a player like Oregon’s Marcus Mariota as long as the Ducks stay in the playoff hunt.