Mailbag: Heismans, Huskers, titles and 2011

Thanks for the questions, everyone. Let's do it again next week, but I'll be back tomorrow for a full slate of games.

John in Lincoln, Neb., writes: I always thought that Colt McCoy deserved a Heisman and they would never give it to him. I wonder what the voters think of him now considering how Texas has struggled with out him. I understand that a team is different every year but I wonder if the fact that they are Texas stole some of his spot light as everyone has been so high on them for so many years. This year shows me how good he truly was and how much he probably deserved a Heisman. Your thoughts?

David Ubben: It's an interesting point, but I've got two responses. One, I would have voted for Ndamukong Suh last year, and still feel that way. And two, you've underrated Jordan Shipley by a wide margin. Colt McCoy wouldn't be anywhere as good with this year's set of receivers, but Garrett Gilbert would be much, much better. That's not to discount McCoy; he and Shipley (Who, by the way, were also roommates. Did you know that?) were both obviously two of the best players in the league last year. Remember those two big touchdown passes by Gilbert in the national title game? Can anybody recall who both were thrown to? Great routes, great catches and great plays by Shipley and Gilbert against a fantastic secondary. Texas didn't have any offensive players in my preseason top 25 player ranking, and you can be sure there won't be any in my postseason top 25, either.

Patrick Cantu in College Station, Texas, asks: David, Von Miller may not be putting up the sack numbers like last year, but he is having a terrific season outside the stat column by giving opposing QBs nightmares and covering his side of the field like a hawk on a revamped Aggie defense, yet he is not on your top defensive players nor a finalist for any national defensive award. Why is the All-American getting no love?

DU: That was completely my mistake. After last week's game, I made a mental note to add him on this week's list after the way he dominated Oklahoma and helped the Aggies beat Baylor. I was going to put him around 5th or 6th. Come Wednesday, it just slipped. He's come on really, really strong, just like the entire team has lately. Unless he's a total non-factor against Nebraska, he'll be on there next week.

Chase in Nagoya, Japan, asks: David, I was just wondering how many times the Huskers have to shut down an "elite" quarterback either at home or on the road for you to pick them to win?

DU: Konnichiwa, Chase. Always good to see the love of the game isn't contained by the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. To your question, Texas A&M's Ryan Tannehill is only a small part of why I picked the Huskers to lose in College Station. And to your other point, I don't believe I was in the majority when I picked the same Huskers to go into Stillwater and beat Oklahoma State by double digits -- which they did. That week, by the way, Oklahoma State was ranked two spots higher than Nebraska in the polls. Last I checked, the Huskers faced an elite quarterback in that game -- Brandon Weeden -- and didn't shut him down (18-of-35, 283 yards, 2 TD).

Anthony Morgan in Gilbert, Ariz., asks: What do you think it will take for nebraska to make it to the national championship game? (specifics)

DU: Well, a lot of losses and some big wins, including one on Saturday over Texas A&M to score some style points and probably a 14-20 point win over Oklahoma State or Oklahoma in the Big 12 title game. Alabama absolutely has to beat Auburn. Boise State will have to slip up against Nevada in Reno next week, most likely. Oregon will have to drop a game at home to Arizona next week. TCU isn't losing; they finish with 1-9 New Mexico next week.

The Huskers need those valuable style points because of the Texas loss. With the Longhorns' nosedive, they took the Huskers title chances with them. In college football, with a few exceptions, you have to lose early if you're going to lose, and make that loss a quality loss. Of the one-loss teams in contention, Nebraska has by far the worst loss--at home to Texas. Wisconsin's came on the road to a top 15 Michigan State team with just two losses. Stanford and LSU's only losses came to teams currently undefeated--Oregon and Auburn. So even if the records are even, it's going to be tough for the Huskers to jump them, which is why they need to make a strong, strong case at the end of the season that they're playing the best football of any team in the country. Doing that will require more than just simply beating Texas A&M and one of the Oklahoma schools away from home. They're going to have to steamroll them to get into the title game.

That said, all of the above applies to Oklahoma State as well, who has further to climb, but has a much better loss on its resume, one at home against Nebraska. Like the Huskers, they also have two games remaining, not including this weekend, obviously, where they can impress voters.

Ross in Seattle, Wash., asks: David -- I am a former student at Texas A&M and was curious what you think about the state of the program. With Jeff Fuller, Ryan Tannehill and Cyrus Gray likely coming back next year, coupled with the return of an amazin defense. Are they the team to beat next year?

DU: I don't think so, but they'll be really, really good. Just about everybody in The Former Division Formerly Known as the Big 12 South should be good once again. Oklahoma will be better. As long as Oklahoma State keeps Dana Holgorsen, its offense should be as great--if not better--and the defense should be improved with more experience. A&M fits in that top group somewhere. Texas should be back to at least eight or nine wins. Baylor will be good again. Texas Tech will be in Year 2 of a new scheme, but it's going to lose a lot after this year, so it's somewhat of a wild card.

Texas looks like it'll miss a bowl game this year, but those six teams should all be bowl teams in 2011. All four of those first teams should be right there in contention for a Big 12 title. That's really weird to think about, by the way. A 10-team race for a conference title. Get used to it.