Mailbag: Could an undefeated Notre Dame jump an undefeated Oregon?

Here is this week’s mailbag. As always, you can send questions to me via Twitter to @BFeldmanCBS:


From @tbg9: I think Oregon is better than ND and I'm an ND fan but how does an undefeated Oregon play for the title over an undefeated Irish squad? Oregon played Ark St and Tenn Tech and their big wins will be over SC and Stan, two teams ND beat and beat/would beat to get to undefeated. Just seems if ND has to beat OK and the B1G isn't their resume stronger?

Going into the season Notre Dame's schedule looked tougher than anyone’s, but unfortunately for the Irish, a bunch of their bigger-name opponents have gotten off to bad starts and don’t seem so impressive now. Michigan, Michigan State, BYU and Miami all have had really bad performances against other teams in addition to against ND. But fortunately for the Irish, Oklahoma has been strong the past two weeks, and even if the Sooners aren’t in the top five, beating them in Norman would be the biggest thing on ND’s resume at that point. No question, it’d be quite a bit better than what Oregon’s done.

However, fair or unfair, teams that have been at the “elite” level in recent years usually get the benefit of the doubt from pollsters. And the opposite holds true for programs that had struggled in the past. That's usually what happens when this thing devolves into a beauty contest. The Ducks have finished No. 3 and No. 4 in the past two seasons. They came within a last-second field goal of winning a national title. The Irish haven’t even been ranked in the Top 25 final poll since 2006. It takes a while to win people over. Beating OU and USC certainly would help though.

Oregon also has a 'WOW!' factor. People watch the Ducks and see them blow other teams off the field and come away intrigued. These Ducks are ridiculously explosive offensively and now seem strong defensively too.

On top of that, Oregon’s schedule heats up a lot over the next two months. If the Ducks are to run the table, they’d also have had to win at No. 8 Oregon State, which has had a much better season (at least so far) than Michigan or Michigan State, and likely have had to beat USC twice. That’ll give the Ducks a boost as it’d relate to ND, K-State or any other unbeaten outside of the SEC.


From @Malbrizio: Has Miami taken a step back this season or is this part of the rebuilding process

I think this is part of the rebuilding process for Al Golden in Year Two. Miami is extremely young on defense, on both lines and at the skill positions. You could see this coming when the Canes lost all those talented underclassmen last winter to the NFL. Right now, most of the key players on this 2012 UM team are freshmen and sophomores. I think that does bode well for the future.  Golden has some impressive young players to build around (Duke Johnson, Eddie Johnson, Deon Bush, Denzel Perryman, Anthony Chickillo, Phillip Dorsett and four of the five starting lineman are freshmen or sophomores).


If you looked at Miami’s record (4-3, 3-1 in ACC play), I don’t think many folks going into this season would’ve expected much more. In reality, what’s made Miami’s start seem worse than the record is UM got blown out of the building on the road twice -- once by K-State and then at Notre Dame. They weren’t even competitive in the second half of those games. I’m curious to see if Miami can be competitive against a talented FSU team this weekend. I expect FSU to win handily, but it’ll be interesting to see how much grit this UM team has, especially since this time it's not a road game.

At this point, I think 7-5 is realistic for them.

Last week I talked to a former UM player now in the NFL about the Miami program. He said he’s a big believer in Golden and was encouraged that UM at least has some speed, but said it’s vital they get a QB who can run the show, “a guy like (Ken) Dorsey.” It's been a decade since UM has had a leader of the offense like that. I don’t know if Miami has that guy in the program right now. Maybe it Greg Olsen’s kid brother Kevin, a blue-chip QB commit from New Jersey slated to enroll in 2013. It's also been a long time since they've had a real dominator on the D-line.


From @clintonOfferdahl: Which hot shot offense guru becomes HC at major program again first - Weis, or Malzahn?

Gus Malzahn. I’ll be surprised if Weis is a college head coach by 2015. I’m skeptical that he can win more than 10 games combined in his KU tenure. I thought it was a bad fit when he was hired there and nothing has happened to change my feeling on that one.

Malzahn has a much better chance to move up. He took over an Arkansas State team that was coming off a big season in 2011. I’m not sure ASU will finish any better than 7-5. But he has connections around that region and we’ll see how well he can recruit to build that program up.


From @lucky931: Did u tell (SiriusXM's Paul) Finebaum Dooley had to win the Bama or USCjr (South Carolina) game to keep his job?


I did. As I've said before, Derek Dooley took over a bad situation. The Tennessee program was a mess in the wake of Lane Kiffin bolting to USC. Dooley has brought some stability. I say some because he’s also had a huge amount of staff turnover in his three years too, and that’s been a lot more for players to sort through. UT football is certainly better than when Dooley arrived.

I suspect the problem here is that the Vols simply haven’t shown enough under him by now to convince the power brokers at UT that he is the right guy to lead them going forward. UT isn’t a young team any more. There are a lot of two and three-year starters. They have talent, but for whatever reason, the Vols aren’t getting results. They haven’t proven they can beat a good team. Dooley has never beaten a ranked team in his coaching career. He’s also 1-10 in his last 11 SEC games. That's bad if you're at UK or Ole Miss. It's unthinkable at Tennessee. He’s also lost to programs UT had dominated for years (UK, Miss. State). My hunch is barring a big upset of Alabama or South Carolina, it’s not going to be enough to get Year Four.

I mean, is it going to win people over if they end on a three-game winning streak in SEC play but it came against Mizzou, Vandy and Kentucky -- teams that are a combined 1-11 this year in conference? I seriously doubt that.

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