college football playoff

As the start of the 2017 college football season nears, here are a few random thoughts about what’s going on in the sport.

How will the Big 12 fare in the College Football Playoff race? What are some takeaways from the season’s first AP poll? Does Kyle Whittingham have a quarterback controversy at Utah? Let’s look into those questions with a bit more depth.

The Big 12 and the College Football Playoff

Contrary to popular opinion, the Big 12 doesn’t need a conference championship game to improve its chances of getting into the College Football Playoff. All it needs to do is start playing — and beating – tougher non-conference opponents.

Yes, I’m aware of what Gary Patterson said back in 2015. However, the fact of the matter is that if the Horned Frogs (and Baylor, for that matter) played a tougher non-conference schedule in 2014, the lack of a title game wouldn’t have mattered. It certainly didn’t hurt Oklahoma in 2015, when the Sooners made the College Football Playoff. OU beat three bowl-bound teams (Akron, Tennessee, and Tulsa) in non-conference play that season, which made it extremely difficult to leave them out of the field.

The same would have been true last season. Had the Sooners beaten Ohio State, there’s no doubt that they would have been in the field. If they’d defeated Houston, it’s possible that they get in over Washington, which played a soft non-conference schedule.

To their credit, the schools in the Big 12 has done a better job of scheduling quality opponents, as the league will face Ohio State, USC, and Virginia Tech this season. Should the Big 12 get a victory in one of those contests – especially one of the first two – its champion should have no trouble getting into the field this year.

There’s not a quarterback controversy at Utah

Immediately after Kyle Whittingham announced that Tyler Huntley beat out Troy Williams for the job, Ute fans began to ask if there was going be another QB controversy, much like the one between Terrence Cain and Jordan Wynn in 2009.

Simply put, there is no controversy. Huntley is “the guy.” End of story.

Let’s be honest: there was no reason to make this decision unless Huntley was clearly better than Williams. After all, Williams guided the team to a 9-4 record last season. He also proved that he could carry the entire offense when needed, sparking the Utes to final-drive victories against USC and Indiana. His teammates thought so highly of him that they elected him as a captain in both 2016 and 2017. And considering that Williams ranked third in the Pac-12 in completions of 20 yards or more, there’s no doubt that he has the type of arm to thrive in new offensive coordinator Troy Taylor’s offense.

Yet Huntley won the starting job, which speaks volumes about how well he has played in fall camp. That doesn’t sound like the type of player who’s going to lose his grip on the top spot anytime soon.

AP Poll – Initial Reaction

(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Here’s my reaction to Monday’s release of the AP poll: Just like Seinfeld, it’s a show about nothing.

Don’t get me wrong: polls are a lot of fun. They help bridge the gap between media days and opening weekend. They also help facilitate discussion about the upcoming season. As any writer will tell you, there’s nothing better than having your inbox flooded with emails because you have team A ranked too high or team B ranked too low.

With that said, don’t get too upset if your team isn’t where you wanted it to be in the season’s first AP poll. It doesn’t matter.

That’s right: it doesn’t matter. After all, the only poll that matters is the one used by the College Football Playoff Selection Committee. That poll uses more tangible measures such as head-to-head competition, record versus common opponents, conference championships won, and statistical data from Sports Source Analytics.

In other words: don’t worry about where your team is in the poll. If it takes care of its business on the gridiron, it will end up ranked where it should be.

AP Poll – Upon further review

Even though the poll doesn’t have any bearing on who plays for the national championship, I’ll go ahead and weigh in anyway. Here are few bullet points about the initial AP poll:

  • West Virginia is way too low. With Will Grier under center, the Mountaineers are a top 10 team.
  • Why is Florida behind Georgia? The Gators have won the last three meetings in the series by at least two touchdowns.
  • Michigan at 11 seems way too high to me. Although I think the Wolverines will have a fine season, they still have to replace a number of starters on both sides of the ball. If the goal is to rank the teams based on where they are right now, UM belongs much lower in the rankings.
  • Teams that should be in the poll (right now) that aren’t: Utah and NC State.
  • Teams that should not be in the poll (right now) that are: Kansas State and Texas.

About Terry P. Johnson

Terry Johnson is the Associate Editor for The Student Section. He is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and the National Football Foundation.