Mailbag: Utah getting no respect? SEC-Pac-12 bowl game?

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To the notes!

Mike from Salt Lake City writes: Can you please help me make sense of the week 14 CFP Rankings. Utah has beaten both Michigan and Oregon this season. All three programs finish the season with the same record 9-3. Michigan is ranked 15 and Oregon ranked 16th. Yet Utah is ranked at 24. The AP poll has a ranked these three team in what appears to be a more believable fashion: Oregon: 15, Michigan 19, and Utah 21. What is the CFP committee seeing that AP poll and myself is missing?

Ted Miller: Mike, my guess is you could answer this question yourself, at least with Oregon.

After a 3-3 start, Oregon has won six in a row since QB Vernon Adams Jr. became healthy. The Ducks lost all three games with Adams hurt, including the blowout loss to Utah. During its six-game winning streak, the Ducks beat No. 7 Stanford and No. 20 USC.

Meanwhile, Utah has lost three of six, including a defeat at USC and consecutive losses in November to Arizona and UCLA.

Oregon's résumé is full of upward momentum, and the committee reasonably places it ahead of the Utes, despite what happened head-to-head in Eugene in late September.

But here's another issue, particularly with the committee, which hits the reset button each week when it does its rankings instead of merely adjusting last week's rankings based on the most recent results, as it seems most AP voters do.

Utah is not as good now as it was at Oregon for a HUGE reason: The season-ending injury to Devontae Booker, the Utes' best and most important player and one of the best and most versatile running backs in the nation. The committee, which ranked the Utes 10th when they were 8-1, and ahead of Oregon until after the loss to UCLA when Booker was out, sees that injury.

The case against Michigan is not as clear. In fact, you could make a case that ranking the Wolverines ahead of Oregon and Utah is a mistake.

The Wolverines got a lot of credit for winning nine out of 10 after opening with a loss at Utah, and they have a quality win over Northwestern. Further, they may be getting credit for the fluky way they lost to Michigan State.

But -- and I bet we agree, Mike -- Michigan should have fallen more than just five spots to 15th after getting manhandled by Ohio State.

Isaac from Gilbert, Arizona, writes: Why do you think Mike Norvell left ASU after an average season? Really thought he would have bolted last year.

Ted Miller: Little went well at Arizona State this season, but one year of struggle didn't change the fact that Norvell is a highly-regarded offensive mind. It was just a matter of time before he got a job offer.

It will be interesting to see how things go at Memphis, as Justin Fuente, who was hired to replace Frank Beamer at Virginia Tech, turned what was once viewed as a dead-end job into something that was appealing to an up-and-coming coach.

Norvell will inherit a job with much higher expectations than Fuente faced, and he won't have Paxton Lynch running his offense. Lynch, by the way, could be the first QB taken in this spring's draft.

Jason writes: What do you think of Oregon's chances to make a new years six bowl game? The Ducks are arguably the hottest team in the country right now but I was a little surprised they only came in at #16 in the CFP rankings. 6 game winning streak with Vernon Adams back, 2 of their last 3 wins over #7 Stanford and #20 USC. Seems like some people just cant get over the 3-3 start regardless of the fact that it was while Adams was hurt. I'd like to think that the Ducks have a legit shot at being selected for the Fiesta Bowl and are a sure thing to replace Stanford in the Rose Bowl should the Cardinal make the playoff, but the Alamo Bowl looks like the most likely landing spot. What say you?

Ted Miller: The Ducks will be in the Rose Bowl if Stanford is selected for the College Football Playoff. Otherwise, an at-large selection for the Fiesta Bowl -- the only real possibility -- seems remote when that bowl could pair Notre Dame and Ohio State, a marquee matchup that will fill up every hotel room in Phoenix.

Josh in Eugene writes: What do we have to do to get a Pac12 vs SEC bowl? I think we are well overdue for an annual clash. I'd like to see the #3 or #4 seeded teams play. Why is nobody trying to make this happen?

Ted Miller: The SEC loves its present bowl arrangements, and geography is a big issue.

This question gets asked a lot. The ultimate bottom line is that it could happen if someone decided to put together a major bowl with a huge payout that wouldn't take "no" for an answer from the two conferences. But no one has done that or appears to be contemplating such a proposal.