Mailbag: SEC-Pac-12 challenge and other holy wars

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To the notes!

Gerry writes: So the Pac-12 SEC challenge is done, but the debate was predictable with you West Coast people talking up Pac-12 teams and the SEC writers taking the SEC side. Let's get down to it, though. How would you pick those seven games -- straight up, no point spread?

Ted Miller: OK, I'll bite. Sure, I won't annoy anyone with this.

Alabama vs. Oregon: Both teams have quarterback questions. Alabama is pretty much a great defensive line, running back Derrick Henry and a bunch of questions. Oregon gets at least a tie with strength-on-strength -- Ducks O vs. 'Bama D -- and Oregon shocks 'Bama with its underrated defense. Oregon 28, Alabama 24.

Auburn vs. USC: Auburn strikes me as overrated. USC also might be overrated, but the Trojans have more tangible assets. And the last time these teams tangled, the Tigers were horribly outclassed at home, a game this writer incorrectly picked. USC 38, Auburn 31.

Georgia vs. UCLA: Both teams have questions at quarterback, but UCLA is going to find a better answer with touted freshman Josh Rosen. Bruins are a legit national title contender. UCLA 24, Georgia 21.

LSU vs. Arizona State: It seems shocking to say this, but LSU is underrated. I think Tigers might just win the SEC West. LSU 24, Arizona State 17.

Ole Miss vs. Stanford: Most would expect this to be a fun defensive struggle, but Stanford would score on Ole Miss with a veteran offense led by QB Kevin Hogan and a salty line that can handle the Rebels tough front seven. Ole Miss' offense would rank well below average in the Pac-12. Stanford 28, Ole Miss 14.

Arkansas vs. Arizona: While I think Arizona could gash the Arkansas defense, I don't think the Arizona defense would stand up well against the Razorbacks' power running game. Arkansas 35, Arizona 31.

Missouri vs. Utah: Both teams have veteran QBs who are inconsistent. Would be a good matchup on the line of scrimmage. Utah wins because it has beastly RB Devonte Booker and Missouri has no one that scares you on offense. Utah 27, Missouri 21.

So 5-2 Pac-12.

I could easily re-write these going the other way. As I ran through them, one thing I noticed is how great it would be to see a couple of these games actually played.

Jacob writes: The entire state of Utah was embroiled this week in discussion and debate about an opponent that Utah doesn't even play this year: BYU. A huge ​portion of Utes fans would be happy to walk away from the rivalry and let BYU die a slow death as an independent. However, local media and the BYU fans cringe when Dr. Chris Hill or Coach Whitt claim that playing the game on an annual basis (home-and-home) is not in the best interest of the University of Utah. What is the perspective of the national media?

Ted Miller: Utah-BYU is a great rivalry. It won't stop being a great rivalry if the teams don't play every year, though some might insist otherwise.

My guess is just about every Utah fan would say, "I want to play BYU every year." For one, the Utes have dominated the series of late, which means local gloating.

BUT if you asked Utah fans, "Would you sacrifice a game with BYU every once and a while if it would mean a home-and-home series with Michigan (or Texas or Ohio State or Georgia, etc.)?" My guess is Utes fans would prefer a marquee nonconference foe, particularly one willing to come to Salt Lake.

I completely understand Chris Hill's position: He doesn't want to unduly burden his team with a brutal nonconference schedule. Michigan, Utah State and BYU most years would be a certifiably masochistic nonconference slate. It's not just about quality, either. It's about two emotional in-state matchups paired with an A-list game with national ramifications.

Also, let's face it: Utah has eclipsed BYU in football by joining the Pac-12. The game has become much more of a no-win for Utah. Folks now believe, for the first time in the series, that Utah should beat BYU. That's obviously not pleasant for Hill or coach Kyle Whittingham.

Keep in mind that the series isn't going to disappear. As Hill noted, the teams will meet again in 2016, '17 and '18 and that he's exchanged a game contract with BYU AD Tom Holmoe for the 2019 and 2020 seasons and that there have been discussions about 2021 and 2022.

Eric writes: I presume you’ve watched [Colorado QB Sefo Liufau] grow from his freshman self (and teammates), to his learning, true sophomore season? I dream. But, I also see stats similar to one Andrew Luck in his early days on the farm. Similar physical attributes. I would argue similar intangibles (intelligence, work ethic, football IQ, etc.) not to mention a smattering of military upbringing similarities. And a team that is coming into its own around him. Can Sefo, and the Buffs, progress into the top half of the conference this year? No gentle head pat needed.

Ted Miller: You might want to double-check those numbers. As a sophomore, Andrew Luck ranked third in the nation and first in the Pac-12 in passing efficiency. That doesn't mean Sefo Liufau, who ranked 55th in the nation and 11th in the Pac-12 in pass efficiency, won't become a good QB this fall. Let's just not forget Luck was special. As in already top-five-in-the-NFL special.

You will get no gentle head pat. I think Colorado has a chance to win six games, but with a 13-game slate, that won't automatically make it bowl-eligible. And six wins requires a 4-0 nonconference record.

The Pac-12 South is just too deep, and Colorado's North crossover games, including Oregon and Stanford, are unforgiving.