Happy Friday. Welcome to the mailbag.
Tom writes: I'm looking for some perspective on the CFP playoff game between Washington and Alabama. If this were the NCAA basketball tournament, what would you say the equivalent match up would be between UW and BAMA. Bama is obviously a one seed. Is Washington a 2 seed? 3? Is Washington Rulon Gardner, the 1980 USA Hockey Team, or the 1936 University of Washington Rowing Team? Is that too hyperbolic? Where would Washington be in the historical pantheon of upsets if the were to upend the Tide? Or could it be like the 1926 Rose Bowl - "The Game That Changed the South?" Where Washington was seen as so big and ferocious that Tulane famously turned down the invitation because they felt their players were too small to compete with those of Washington? Alabama agreed. The Tide proceeded to beat Washington 20-19 (helped by two missed extra points by UW).
Ted Miller: At midseason, I tweeted that I've never felt as certain about which team would win the national title as Alabama this year. The Crimson Tide is playing against history, playing for a spot on the list of all-time great teams.
While Alabama is clipped somewhat by dominating perhaps the worst SEC season in more than a decade, you can't argue with a 24-game winning streak and a 14-game winning streak against teams ranked in the AP poll. The current line from Westgate Superbook rates Washington as a 15 1/2-point underdog to the No. 1 Tide.
So while the Huskies are not quite the 1980 U.S. hockey team, they're not too far behind. Not sure even the most ardent Washington fan expects to win.
The good news for Huskies fans is how often double-digit favorites falter in the college football postseason. Well, let's not go overboard. We just found a few good examples that might raise an eyebrow.
The biggest previous upset came in the Sugar Bowl after the 2013 season, the final year of the BCS. Oklahoma, a 17 1/2 point underdog, beat Alabama 45-31. That overcoming of the largest point spread in BCS history eclipsed a record set just the day before when UCF beat Baylor 52-42. The Bears were a 16 1/2-point favorite.
As far as national title games go, Ohio State was a 12-point underdog when it beat Miami in the BCS national title game after the 2002 season. Two years before, Florida State was an 11-point favorite when it lost to Oklahoma for the championship.
And there are other instances of Alabama and coach Nick Saban not winning as a favorite in the postseason. The Crimson Tide lost to Utah as a 9 1/2-point favorite in the Sugar Bowl after the 2008 season, and the Crimson Tide went down as a 9-point favorite against Ohio State in the first College Football Playoff.
More than a few Huskies fans also will look at the 2007 Fiesta Bowl, when Washington coach Chris Petersen led Boise State to an upset win over Oklahoma, though some forget that the Broncos were only 7 1/2-point underdogs.
You can create sound talking points for Washington. Alabama hasn't played an offense as good as Washington's this year. Maybe the Crimson Tide will overlook Washington. Maybe some of the Tide's best players will be looking ahead to the NFL draft. Maybe QB Jalen Hurts will suddenly remember he's a true freshman. Maybe Petersen will concoct an all-time great game plan and cement his legend in college football lore.
Maybe. Maybe. Maybe.
But, as far as I can tell, they are still going to play the game to, you know, see what might actually happen.
Terry writes: As a Colorado alum this season has been like a dream, except never in my wildest dreams did I imagine a Pac-12 South championship. With that said, what are CU's fortunes looking like for next season? They lose a LOT of talent and leadership. I'm excited about Montez, but his best games (Oregon and Oregon State) were against bad teams, and he did not play well against Michigan, USC or Washington. They have a weak out-of-conference schedule (CSU, Texas State, Northern Colorado), so do you think 7-5 or 8-4 is possible?
Ted Miller: Already looking ahead? Come on! You should be re-watching and re-enjoying all 10 wins this year. We need to host a college football mindfulness retreat where fans are taught about enjoying the present moment. And, you know, all that focusing on the breath stuff.
The Colorado offense is going to be fine. It only loses three starters from the Pac-12 title game -- including QB Sefo Liufau -- and it should be a senior-heavy crew surrounding Steven Montez, who picked up valuable experience this year. In fact, my guess is coaches will be excited about better downfield passing potential, as all the receivers return and Montez has a more lively arm than Liufau.
There might be some growing pains on defense, as eight starters depart, including first-team All-Pac-12 linebacker Jimmie Gilbert and a secondary that put three reps on the All-Conference second team.
Still, the Buffs have upgraded recruiting and it should help that OLB Derek McCartney will return from injury.
So, 8-4 -- or better! -- certainly seems possible, though all signs point to USC as the overwhelming pick in the South Division in the 2017 preseason.
David writes: I, admittedly, am a USC fan and thrilled as heck that USC is going to the Rose Bowl! However, it's not right. Why do they bother playing the games if they don't count? The two teams that meet in the Pac-12 championship game should be THE TWO teams that get all of the primary consideration. By that, I mean, if one gets selected to the CFP, the loser goes to the Rose Bowl. If neither gets selected to the CFP, the winner of the Pac-12 championship game goes to the Rose Bowl. The final CFP rankings should have nothing to do with this. And, yes, I realize that my Trojans beat Colorado. But, Colorado is the Pac-12 South winner and with Washington going to the CFP, they should get the Rose Bowl nod. But, instead, they got buffaloed (bad pun intended -- nicer than saying they got screwed). Of course, you can say that in most years, the loser of the Pac-12 title game would be ranked higher than another team from the conference. But, as we can see, that is not a given. What sayeth thou?
Ted Miller: I like the system of giving the Rose Bowl berth to the second-highest ranked team if the Pac-12 champion earns a playoff spot.
And, yes, it helps this year that not only did USC beat Colorado, it beat both teams in the Pac-12 championship game.
Here's the way to look at it. Imagine if, say, 11-1 Oregon is playing 6-6 UCLA in the Pac-12 title game, and Stanford is sitting at home at 11-1, its only conference loss coming to the Ducks.
Would you want UCLA to advance to the Rose Bowl, or Stanford? We asked because this is exactly how things set up in 2011, when the Ducks went to the Rose Bowl, Stanford went to the Fiesta Bowl, and UCLA ended up firing coach Rick Neuheisel.
The goal of the CFP selection committee, which matches up with Pac-12 interests, is to put the best teams in the best bowl games. That happened with USC's Rose Bowl invitation.
Now, if Colorado had lost to Washington in the Pac-12 title game in double overtime? That might have been a different story. The Buffs were ranked just one spot behind the Trojans in the final rankings, and the committee might have thought differently if the result were tighter.
Ryan from Tri-Cities, Washinton, writes: Is it a further indictment of the media that the Doak Walker award winner was a part of Texas Football all year, but the Strong story ruled the headlines?
Ted Miller: Ryan, it's not. And maybe this can help you develop a better sense of the media.
Doak Walker winner D'Onta Foreman was pretty much the only good news for Texas this year. Kudos to him for being a great running back on a poor to middling team. Just about every story on every Texas game this year took note of his accomplishments.
But the precarious status of coach Charlie Strong, the CEO of the nation's most valuable college football team, was one of the three or four biggest stories in the sport this season. Not only that, it's a story that was continually changing, based on whether Texas won or lost. Further, it involved a lot of other well-known names, as when it became clear that Strong's job was in jeopardy, reporters had to consider who might be next to step in.
You think that lacked reader interest? No, you don't.
Lots or reporters wrote features on Foreman this year. But Strong was a national story all season. Not only because it attracted eyeballs but because, well, he was big news.