Games aren't over yet ...
Scott Falkenberry in Nashville, TN writes: The debate about what the four-team playoff would look like this year is very, very interesting.The argument used against Auburn being a top-four team this year is amusing, at best.People need to remember that Auburn was leading Georgia by 20 points in the fourth quarter. And the reason that Auburn had an opportunity to run a missed field goal for a touchdown against Alabama, is because Auburn drove for a game-tying touchdown late in the fourth quarter.I argue that the Alabama coacing staff chose to try the unlikely field goal because they suspected their chances of winning in overtime weren't very good.
HD: You make good points, Scott, but my point is that there WILL be debate over a résumé like Auburn's in years to come. There WILL be debate over teams like Michigan State and Stanford. You're talking about 13 people casting votes, not a formula or computer that will spit out the answer for you. The human element can be just as controversial as the computers.
Drew in Augusta, Georgia writes: Is there any chance that Paul Johnson's seat will heat up if the Jackets lose to Ole Miss?
HD: No. Considering the lucrative contract he has, it will take more than that, especially since he has taken them to the Orange Bowl, won the ACC's Coach of the Year award, and just two seasons ago was in the ACC title game again. They've got to get better, though. They have to beat Georgia, they do have to start winning bowls more regularly, and the recruiting could use a boost, but I don't think a loss in the bowl game is going to put him on the hot seat heading into next year.
Hunter Shields in Blacksburg , Va. writes: How badly will losing Trey Edmunds affect the Hokies in their bowl game? UCLA already has a decent defense, 56th in total defense, but Virginia Tech's less than stellar run game really needs to get going. Who steps up? Chris Mangus, Joel Caleb? Or does the run game get shut down with under sized J.C. Coleman alone?
HD: Good question. The staff has plenty of confidence in J.C. He was really their starter coming out of spring, but he wasn't healthy until about halfway trough the season. J.C. will be their main guy, and then Mangus and Caleb obviously need to step it up. The wild card is Jerome Wright. He's the backup fullback, but a lot of people think he maybe a tailback before it's all said and done. He has some natural running ability, and has impressed coach Frank Beamer.
Natalya in Rowlett, TX writes: Heather, I have always enjoyed your work but am a new PhD student this year and have actually been grateful that our beloved Hokies (my hubby is VT '99) haven't been worth watching this season. I'm almost done with finals, so tell me: will it be worth watching the Sun Bowl, or will the Bruins beat our boys to a broken-beaked pulp?Thanks for sharing your expertise
HD: Ha, yes, it will be worth watching, Natalya. We ranked the bowls earlier this week, and Andrea Adelson and I thought the Sun Bowl would be one of the more entertaining games of the ACC bowl season. That's due in large part to Virginia Tech's defense, of course. Despite the team's struggles this season, Virginia Tech's defense has remained one of the best in the country. It will get a chance to showcase that against Brett Hundley, one of the top dual-threat quarterbacks in the country. And, of course, it will be interesting to see how quarterback Logan Thomas closes his career. I think the Hokies are going to have a tough time matching UCLA's offense, especially with linebacker Anthony Barr in their faces. Frank Beamer will have those guys prepared, but will the offense be able to execute?
Tristan in Jacksonville, Florida writes: Is there any talk on division realignment when Louisville joins the conference?? I believe either Clemson, FSU, or Louisville should go to the coastal because until Miami gets better (which they will be, if they keep recruiting well) the coastal makes the ACC look very bad.
HD: No, Tristan, you can expect a fully-loaded Atlantic Division. ACC fans have been asking about division realignment for years now, and I've never been given any indication from the ACC that they're seriously considering it. That's not to say it won't ever happen, but as of right now, the ACC points to the "competitive balance" the current system has produced.