ASK CFN - Can Colorado Win Ten Games?
Colorado RB Darrell Scott
Colorado RB Darrell Scott
Posted Mar 6, 2009

Can the Buffs get to double-digit wins? Would OU have beaten Florida with DeMarco Murray? Would a college football all-star team beat the Detroit Lions? What are the best teams that didn't play for a title? What matters with strength of schedule? All this and more in the latest ASK CFN.

By Pete Fiutak
Fire over your questions to me at I might not be able to answer them all, but I promise they're all read. Any e-mails sent to this address may be published or edited unless requested otherwise. (Please put ASK CFN in the subject line, and PLEASE keep the questions short ... it makes my life easier.)

Past ASK CFNs ...
- What's the deal with Michael Crabtree?

- Does Mark Richt Have the Fire?
- "CFN Hates USC"

- The Best Coaches Going
- Violation of team rules
- What was Nebraska's problem?
- Is Jim Tressel an elite coach?
- A foolproof BCS solution

- An early look at OSU vs. USC
- The WVU/Rodriguez situation
- Who's the team of the decade?
- Dump Mack Brown and JoePa?!
- Big East expansion
- Is Charlie Weis on a hot seat?
- The Reggie Bush situation

- Is Bob Stoops the new Lloyd Carr?
- Why LSU winning matters
- Bowl winners & losers
- Can a two-loss team play for the title?
- The five worst recent champions 
- The Flakiest Teams
- A little BCS history
- Should USC be in the title hunt?
- The best RB you don't know
- What's wrong with Texas A&M? 
- How bad is the Big Ten?
- Will Miles run to Michigan?
- Supersized Season Premier of ASK CFN
 The most loved & hated teams
- Is Miami still a power?
- CFN's West Virginia ranking
- Is Booty Heisman-worthy?
- The USC Schedule
- The Big Ten Network
- The most underrated head coach
- The Top Ten NFL receiver prospects 

- Why did Brady Quinn slide?
- The Virginia Tech situation

- Creating a MWest-WAC super-league
Mid-majors who should be in the bigs
The potential new superpower
The 5 best coaching jobs
March Madness for football?
Potential Bowl Shockers
Tim Brewster?
Fox's BCS broadcasts
- Is Brady really better than Russell?
Hot & Cold Bowl Programs
- How ineffective was Reggie Ball?
- A 2007 Top 10 Mock Draft
Can Michigan win a national title?
- BCS possibilities for several teams
- West Virginia schedule, BCS rules
- Toughest coaching jobs
- Hidden Heisman 5

- Is Temple worst ever?
- Oklahoma-Oregon fiasco
- Has Bob Stoops lost it?
- Is Colorado done?

After watching the national title game between Oklahoma and Florida, I wondered why so much was made of Percy Harvin's injury versus DeMarco Murray's injury which kept him out of the game?  In the the first half I believe Murray might have scored on the earlier drives we missed.   It was obvious Percy Harvin looked very healthy and was a difference maker.  I also feel Murray's absence was difference maker as well. - Alex B., Oklahoma City

A: The difference is that Oklahoma could’ve won without Murray and I’m not sure that Florida could’ve won without Harvin. Chris Brown is a draftable back who’ll likely go in the top 100 picks in 2010, so it’s not like OU was without a good runner (he ran for 110 yards). Give a little credit to Florida for whipping the great Sooner line on a few of those key goal line plays, and blame the play-calling for not using the NFL offensive front enough. I thought OU abandoned the run for too many key stretches. Meanwhile, Harvin was terrific. He was the game-breaker that the offense desperately needed to pull out the win.

I noticed your top four teams from the Big XII recruiting this year are all from the South. In fact no team from the North has won the Conference since 2003. If you had to reverse this trend as a coach from the North how would you do it? Also, if you were a betting man, (wink, wink) when would the North actually be able to overtake OU and Texas and win the Conference? – JW, Dallas

A: More to your point, it isn’t even that the North hasn’t been able to win the title, it’s that the division needed an upset when it has won in recent years. Whether it was Colorado over Texas in 2001, or Kansas State over Oklahoma in 2003, the shockers showed it’s clear that the South has been the better division mainly because it has the two mega-powers. However, when the Big 12 first started in 1996, it was Nebraska’s world and everyone else was just taking up space. After Nebraska, it was Kansas State who turned into a power, and Colorado wasn’t all that far removed from being in the national title picture. And then everything switched. It seems crazy to think now, but back when the Big 12 was formed Oklahoma was down, way down, and Texas was mediocre. It wasn’t until Bob Stoops and Mack Brown entered the picture that the two legendary programs got back to national superpower status.

To answer your question, it depends on what team I’m coaching. Nebraska has the history and the potential to turn the cycle back its way. I think Bo Pelini has the potential to be a special head coach who’ll make the defense a killer as long as he’s there. Kansas and Missouri will need to show some staying power, and Colorado will eventually be more prominent again. Kansas State and Iowa State have work to do, but they’ll be more competitive. The one blueprint to success might be at Oklahoma State where Mike Gundy has put together a killer offense and a slew of great athletes on defense. However, the North simply needs one team, probably Nebraska, to become a national power again to be a challenger for OU and Texas. That comes with recruiting and a few big home wins. The Huskers will get their chance when the Sooners come to town.

How do you see Terelle Pryor doing this year?  He had a good year but really struggled throwing the ball at times.  Do you think this year it all comes together and he leads the buckeyes to a national championship and a heisman or does it look like hes going to keep relying on his feet to make plays? –ZZ

A: Did Pryor struggle or did he have the wraps put on him by the coaching staff? The Buckeyes had a good receiving corps and they didn’t use it once Pryor took over, preferring to revolve the offense around Beanie and the running of Pryor. There’s no denying that he’s an elite talent, and it’ll be interesting to see how he’s used this year. Remember, he was a true freshman being thrown out there to try to lead one of the nation’s most talented teams. This year, with so much personnel turnover, he’ll have to do even more, and while he’ll have his rocky moments, he needs fight through them to use this season to build towards 2010. Ohio State’s recruiting classes have been phenomenal, and there seems to be little question that this will be the class of the Big Ten by far for the next few years. Even though this year’s team won’t be anywhere near as good as the last few Buckeye teams, if it can somehow pull off the upset against a rebuilding USC at home, there’s a chance to be in the thick of the national title chase considering how bad the Big Ten is.

Colorado’s Dan Hawkins said 2009 will be a 10 win season, no excuses.  Do you think the Buffs can accomplish this with a lot of talent coming off IR and a comparatively easier schedule on tap?  If not, does CU go back to the Boise State well and go after Peterson? – CL

A: It’s not as insane a goal as it might appear. You’re right; the team was really, really banged up last year meaning that there will be a major infusion of talent to boost the depth as well as the first team. Just getting to a bowl would be a good step, but to get to ten wins it would likely take a nine-win regular season and a bowl victory. Forget about winning at Texas or Oklahoma State, and winning at West Virginia will be tough, but there isn’t another game on the schedule that’s a sure-thing loss. Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska all have to come to Boulder, and the other two Big 12 road games (besides the dates in Austin and Stillwater) are at Kansas State and Iowa State. I don’t think the Buffs win all their home games, and I think seven wins is a more likely finish, if everything breaks the right way in a mediocre North, it’s not impossible for CU to be the league’s breakthrough team. And no, if the Hawkins experience doesn’t work, Colorado isn’t going to go back to Boise State to get Chris Petersen.

I am 100% in agreement with you that the NCAA's silly little rules are outdated, out of touch, and flat-out unjust.  Heck, the NCAA doesn't even officially recognize the BCS National Champion in its records.  So why in the world do the FBS universities even cater to the NCAA?  If the NCAA doesn't officially recognize their champion, then what gives them the right to determine things like player eligibility and improper benefits (i.e. Reggie Bush, Rhett Bomar, Ray Ray McElrath, etc.)?  Why don't the FBS universities just break away, form their own coalition, create their own governing body to dole out rules and rulings, and keep all their money to themselves?  Who needs the NCAA? - Ross in Nashville, TN

A: It’s not as far-fetched an idea as you might think for the top college football programs to break away from the NCAA, but that would all but end any help for the non-revenue sports, there would be a whole slew of administrative issues from insurance to academic oversight to maintaining even the slightest pretense of it being college football. However, it wouldn’t be as hard as you might think for 50 schools to break off and decide to form a league on their own. They’d just have to combine forces, get the TV contract in place, and suffer the consequences when it came to the other sports. Of course, this will never happen because the college presidents wouldn’t have anything to do with it, but if the BCS schools formed a football-only league on its own, the money would be NFL-like.

Was wondering. If you could rank the best teams that never had the opportunity to play for the NC? Like Auburn in 04, Tulane in 98 and so on. – Mike

A: A great idea … we’ll be coming up with a piece like that this summer. Doing a quick look at the data at our All-Time Season Ranking formula, based on how good a season the team’s had, 1983 and 2004 Auburn teams are somewhere in the top five of the teams that didn’t play for or win the title, if not the top three. 1995 Florida, 1983 Nebraska, and 2003 USC are also in the discussion. Again, we’ll do this more in-depth this summer.

What do you/voters/computers determining strength of schedule prefer in non-conference scheduling?  I am an Ohio State fan and prefer one HUGE game at USC and three cupcakes, but it seems the voters/computers would prefer four teams that "look" good (say, Maryland, Ole Miss, Colorado, and Arizona) but are actually second (or third)-tiered teams in their conferences. - Josh

A: When it comes to the Strength of Schedule that the NCAA puts together and turns out to be the one that everyone can point to for various arguments, all that matters is playing a slew of teams that finish with good records. For the voters in the polls, beating the one monster team tends to work wonders, and it’s even better if you can do it on national TV with everyone paying attention. For me, when it comes to a team like Ohio State, to get in the national title discussion it’s a must to beat USC at home. For USC, I wouldn’t have a huge problem with a loss at Ohio State as long as it’s close. In other words, in the monster superpower games, the home team has to win, and if the road team wins, then it’s really time to start giving up the love. As far as the overall non-conference schedule, I don’t dog a team too much for being Florida and scheduling one game against Citadel because there were also games against Miami and Florida State. Yeah, scheduling Citadel sucks, but no one would’ve said anything if, say, Memphis went to Gainesville, and that would’ve been a Florida blowout, too. In the end, it all comes down to actually watching the teams and the games, and it’s easier to slot the teams and evaluate accordingly when there are stronger non-conference matchups.

Every year the fans of the top college teams talk about how their team could beat the worst team in the NFL (ex. Florida Gators or USC Trojans could beat the Detroit Lions).  Now we all know that this probably wouldn't happen considering that the Detroit Lions team is full of, well, NFL players and the Gators and Trojans are all college players who aren't as experienced and physically developed at this stage.  However, if you were able to put together a complete team from this year’s draft class, give them, say, two-to-three months to practice, and give them a college all-star coaching staff (Urban Meyer, Pete Carroll, Jim Tressell, Nick Saban, etc.), do you think they could beat the 2008 Detroit Lions?  For that matter, how many of the 2008 NFL teams do you think they could beat?  If they played a full season in the NFL, what do you think their record would be? – EH

A: My knee-jerk reaction to this question I get at least five times a year is the same as always: the college team would get destroyed. But I like your twist. I’d still take the NFL team only because of the physical differences, 26-year-old men who’ve spent years in an NFL weight room with NFL (cough) supplements are far different athletes then even the best of the 21-to-23-year-olds. However, talent-wise, would the Detroit Lions dump their entire team for an all-star team of this year’s draft class? In a freakin’ heartbeat. However, in a one-game shot, here’d be the college team I’d put together …

QB – Matthew Stafford
RB – Beanie Wells (This is for a one game shot. For the long haul, the choice would be Knowshon Moreno.)
WR – Michael Crabtree
WR – Percy Harvin
WR – Jeremy Maclin
TE – Brandon Pettigrew
OT – Andre Smith
OG – Eugene Monroe (I’ll move him inside for this)
C – Alex Mack
OG – Duke Robinson
OT – Jason Smith

DE – Brian Orakpo
DT – Peria Jerry
DT – B.J. Raji
DE – Aaron Maybin
LB – Aaron Curry
LB – Rey Maualuga
LB – Jasper Brinkley
CB – Malcolm Flowers
S – Vonte Davis (I’m moving him to safety for this to get his speed on the field)
S – Patrick Chung
CB – Alphonso Smith

I still think Detroit would win. Out of all the players I just listed, at least half will under-perform, at least five will be busts, and a few will need a few years, but it would be a fun battle to watch.

I understand your point that Florida didn't win the National Championship just because it was in Miami, but that certainly played a part.  Look at USC's record in the Rose Bowl (24-9? off the top of my head) and yes they've won those games because they've had good teams, but the is clearly an advantage when they can prepare like it is a home game when they only have to travel 19 miles, and any Big 10 team must play 2500 miles away with LA press.  And I know it isn't a 'home game' for USC because there is an equal amount of tickets given to each school, but that isn't the end all be all of home field advantage.  I was at the 2008 BCS Championship game, Ohio State - LSU, and LSU fans in the stadium outnumbered OSU fans 3 to 1, and the ratio was even more in LSU's favor in the rest of New Orleans.  Obviously I'm a little biased (notice the Ohio State email address) but it definitely is an advantage when one team can have 75% fans at a "neutral" site. – Phil 

A: Ohio State didn’t lose to LSU because it was played in New Orleans. Ohio State lost to LSU because Glenn Dorsey, Ali Highsmith, and the Tiger defense spent the game sitting on Todd Boeckman’s head. That game could’ve been played in Columbus and LSU would’ve won. Every player I’ve ever talked to says that in the really big games, the crowd noise only matters when you can’t hear and that affects both teams. Some teams actually prefer the road trip for a big bowl game because it keeps them focused on the business at hand as opposed to being at home and dealing with friends, family, regular life, etc. The point about USC might be valid if the Trojans didn’t also blast away on everyone on the road, too. It’s not like USC had any issues in the Orange Bowl games against Iowa and Oklahoma. In the national championship games, and in the top bowl games, the best teams win because they’re the best teams.

I'm a long time reader of your column and a very long time SC fan (went there in the early '70s). Not all SC fans think you're biased. I think you're dead on with most of your evaluations. Coach Carroll is an awesome recruiter, and a great defensive coach. He's one of the most charismatic individuals I've ever met. His Achilles heel is that he thinks he's a better offensive coach than he is. I don't know what personal or professional issues drove Norm Chow away, but I can only wistfully dream of what might have been if coach Chow had stayed on the last few years. – TF

Will you PLEASE put up something nice about USC fans, too? I don’t always agree with you, but I get your points about why we didn’t play in the national title over the last few years, and so do other fans I talk to, but you only seem to print the questions and e-mails from the fringe element just to come up with good copy. – HK

Die-hard USC fan here and I’m having a riot reading all the back-and-forth between you and our passionate fan base. Curious, do you ever hate teams because of their fans and do you ever get sick of getting so much hate mail from some fans? - TP

A: Absolutely right. The angry e-mailers always create a livelier and more spirited debate, but I want to always make it clear that even when I’m getting blasted by some segment of a fan base, there’s always another segment that either agrees with me or doesn’t agree yet is able to do it in a non-combative, bar room debate sort of way.

I’ve learned over the last decade of doing this column that there will always be a part of every fan base that will assume I’m biased against their team if I don’t write XYZ STATE RULES WOO-HOO!!! in every sentence. Actually, I’ve sort of said that about USC in everything I’ve written since Pete Carroll took over, but it’s always the case that you can say 99 nice things but it’s the one thing that’s not so glowing that gets remembered.

I like all the e-mails. If you want to write in and yell at me for being an idiot, cool. Just tell me why and what your beef is.  I never have any problem with anyone who disagrees with me. I think Florida would’ve beaten USC last year, but it’s great to hear from anyone who wants to debate that. However, if you want to blast away on me and call me biased, just back it up with facts and don’t gutlessly write in to insult me without stating your beef. But no, I don’t hate any fan base and I actually get a kick out of a lot of the angry e-mails.