Week 9 college football action is in the books, so we decided to fire up the Tuesday Tweetbag to tackle the burning topics on your mind this season about everything from top pro prospects to the best teams in the sport.
Feel free to submit your questions to @BryanDFischer on Twitter each Monday or early Tuesday morning to get them answered every week. Without further ado, let the smorgasbord of questions commence.
I would think it's closer to five percent than the other two. It's not completely out of the realm of possibility, but it's also not super likely given the glut of one-loss teams we currently have. Now a number of such teams still have to play each other, so the field will narrow down even more, but a big part of the potential for a two-loss team comes down to conference championship game results.
If there is a team that is able to do it, it will almost assuredly happen with an SEC West squad. One thing that would need to be involved, in my mind, would be a controversial last-minute loss in a manner similar to what happened at the end of Notre Dame-Florida State. That way the committee could help explain away a loss and why such a team got in over another with a better record.
As we sit here heading into the final stretch of the regular season, I still find it hard to believe the SEC does not have one or two of the best four teams in the country -- no matter what their records will be come December. I'm not completely ruling out such a scenario, but it does seem far-fetched.
I do subscribe to the theory that the SEC will beat each other up in the next month, but between Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Alabama and Auburn, one of those four still has enough talent and good coaching to survive with just a loss heading to Atlanta. Add in one-loss Georgia, which probably has the easiest remaining path to the playoff, and it seems like it's more likely the SEC finds two teams in the playoff rather than zero.
The selection committee could be in a tough spot when it comes to the Group of Five bid if East Carolina continues to look as uneven as it has the past few weeks. The Pirates are positioned to be the team that winds up in a New Year's Six Bowl, but that's not guaranteed as they looked mediocre against UConn and struggled against USF. Resume-wise, however, they would put forward the best one of any of the contenders if they were to run the table. The AAC is a much better league in 2014 than either the Mountain West or Conference USA, plus ECU would own wins over two Power Five programs.
Also a factor? Colorado State's loss to Boise State. While not bad by any means when looking at the big picture, losing the tie-breaker to the Broncos hurts because Jim McElwain's squad might not even play for the division title. It's still possible Boise State suffers another loss this year, but right now CSU needs help to even get into the conversation with ECU because it will need to win the Mountain West.
I think the selection committee will only turn to Marshall as a last resort. The schedule is laughable even if you still consider the Thundering Herd to be a "good" team. They have a veteran quarterback, a surprisingly good running back and a solid defense, but even if they were to run the table, I think it's hard to put them ahead of either ECU or Colorado State. This is not one of the Boise State teams of old, this is a Marshall squad that hasn't played well lately against some average opponents.
Stanford and Utah look like the toughest teams remaining thanks to the matchup issues they present to the Ducks on both sides of the ball. I would think the Utes in particular, with the game in Salt Lake City, might be a tougher test thanks to their terrific special-teams play, and they have a few more playmakers on offense than Stanford.
Still, this week's game against the Cardinal is by no means easy, even if Kevin Hogan has been struggling. The fact of the matter is, despite having a better team the past two years, Oregon has lost this game. Some of that comes down to Marcus Mariota, but it's not all on him. This is the Ducks' best chance to knock off the defending conference champion and win the division -- and they'd better take it while they can.
What happened at North Carolina is easily the worst college athletics scandal in the history of the NCAA, but I would not give the Tar Heels the "death penalty." In many respects, the eventual punishment the school will face from the Committee on Infractions is probably not going to be enough to satisfy critics, but such is the case with just about everything the NCAA does.
I'm on board with 30-Mile Radius' John Infante's suggestion that the NCAA take two parts of the "death penalty" and apply them to UNC. Removing the athletic department from any say in legislative matters might not seem like a big deal to some, but it is appropriate considering what happened there the past 18 years.
On top of that, I wouldn't take away any scholarships from the sport, but I'd find the Tar Heels guilty of lack of institutional control and ban them from all postseason play, in all sports, for three years. That would certainly be a major blow (to their basketball and soccer programs in particular) but gets back to what their mission should be: to educate, graduate and then play sports. This doesn't cut any opportunities for students to earn scholarships and receive a degree while punishing the university on the field and financially.