Discussion

The Friday mailbag

Updated: July 2, 2009, 5:44 PM ET
By Bruce Feldman

My list of toughest nonconference schedules sparked the attention of many BYU fans, so I lead this week's mailbag with that discussion:

From Dirk in Dallas: You missed one of the top 10 toughest non-conference schedules, that of BYU, which includes Oklahoma (in Dallas); Tulane (in New Orleans); Florida State (in Provo) and Utah State (in Provo). Hope you will correct that.

Feldman: I considered the Cougars, but like Oklahoma and a few others, they fell outside the top 10. Playing Oklahoma in Texas is a huge test, and it merited BYU 9.5 points (out of 10) in my quality point average rating system. But playing Tulane, which was just 2-10 last season, doesn't help the cause. That matchup gaves BYU three points because the Cougars will play on the road. FSU is a formidable opponent, but because the game will be in Provo, it nets the Cougars seven more points. Utah State has won only six games during the past three seasons, which also hurts. I do think USU will be a little better this season, but that matchup still brings only three points. Combine those four games, and you get an average below the 6.00 rating that my No. 10 team, Georgia, had.

From Rex in Albany, Ga.: What about Troy? They are at Florida, at Arkansas, at Bowling Green and host UAB. Sounds pretty tough to me.

Feldman: Troy usually has among the toughest nonconference slates every year, but not this season. Obviously, playing in the Swamp (10 points) is as tough as you'll get, and playing at Arkansas (seven) is a test, but Bowling Green (four) is projected to be near the bottom of the MAC East, and UAB (two) is expected to be at the bottom of C-USA East.

From Duane in Cleveland: How much do you think pollsters will hold it against any Big Ten team that goes undefeated after the recent history of Ohio State and Penn State in big bowl games?

Feldman:Honestly, I think it has become a factor -- especially if records are equal when it comes to SEC and Big 12 programs. Can Ohio State remedy that a little with an early-season win over USC? Definitely. But the rep took some time to build, and it'll take more than one big win to fix it.

Speaking of this, a friend of mine who follows the Big Ten raised a possibility in which much this Big Ten backlash might not exist. He suggested that if Michigan had been able to beat Ohio State in that No. 2 versus No. 1 matchup in Columbus in 2006, a game that UM lost 42-39, the Wolverines might have been able to save the Big Ten's rep in the BCS Championship Game later that season. It may sound far-fetched, but as he made his case, it did not.

The Wolverines just matched up a lot better with Florida (OSU's eventual opponent in the BCS title game that year) than OSU did. The Buckeyes were hindered when standout wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr. was injured early in the national championship game. Michigan -- with Mario Manningham, Adrian Arrington and Steve Breaston -- had more receiving options. They also would not have been beaten so soundly up front by UF's pass-rushing ends, because Jake Long would have been playing offensive tackle for the Wolverines.

To read more of Bruce Feldman's thoughts on a different world if Michigan had beaten OSU, his views on Gene Chizik and the latest recruiting news, you must be an ESPN Insider. Insider

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