CFB Playoff Committee Discussed Key Differences Between Utah, Oregon

Nov 22, 2019, 3:40 PM | Updated: 3:40 pm
The Oregon Ducks head to the locker room prior to taking on the Arizona Wildcats during their game ...
The Oregon Ducks head to the locker room prior to taking on the Arizona Wildcats during their game at Autzen Stadium on November 16, 2019 in Eugene, Oregon. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
(Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah –The overwhelming majority of the talk about a Pac-12 team making it to the college football playoff heavily favors the Oregon Ducks but there are whispers about the Utah Utes.

Despite most of the publicity going to the Ducks, the two schools are just one spot apart with Oregon at six and Utah at seven. Head coach Kyle Whittingham is probably just fine with giving the spotlight to the Ducks.

Debating between Oregon and Utah is like splitting hairs, or in the NFL’s case using an index card to measure a first down.

So, not much.

USC Is Why Oregon Is Ahead Of Utah

Even when the USC Trojans are not a factor in the Pac-12 they are still relevant since the Utes fell to the Trojans while the Ducks easily defeated USC.

The Trojans are now in the latest top 25 so that does make Utah’s loss look better but Oregon, who also has a loss, but it came to Auburn who is in the top 15. As of now, the resume favors the Ducks over the Utes.

Playoff executive director Bill Hancock gave his explanation about the difference between Utah and Oregon.

“I think the USC thing probably got the most discussion when they analyzed those two. Oregon obviously defeated USC handily, and Utah lost,” Hancock said on the post-rankings teleconference. “And Oregon’s resume, including the loss to a good Auburn team in the last seconds of the game, and Utah really doesn’t have anything like that. So that was the difference.”

KSL Unrivaled told Utah fans to take a deep breath and relax because it doesn’t matter one bit that the Ducks are ahead of the Utes. If all goes to plan, those two will decide it on the field at Levi’s Stadium for the Pac-12 championship.

However, KSL Sports Alex Kirry noted that if Oregon slips up, that could spell trouble for the Utes.

“I really hope that Oregon takes care of business versus Arizona State this weekend. That is a real problem. I don’t see holes in Utah, but I have watched Oregon play three or four times and there are problems there,” Kirry said.

“You don’t want Herm Edwards to fire up his team too much and you don’t want Preacher Herm coming out and get his guys fired up for Oregon. The last thing you want if you are a Ute fan is to be playing the 14th ranked Ducks in the Pac-12 championship team, because you will have Oklahoma playing the 11th ranked Baylor Bears and they will have that edge.”

Playoff Mentions Zack Moss Injury

The playoff committee does say injuries to prominent players are a consideration in where to rank teams. This is a benefit to Utah because they lost Moss early on in the USC game and an argument can be made that had Moss played – the Utes could have won that game.

That is positive for Utah when it could eventually come down to who gets in if the Utes are 12-1 and being discussed among other one-loss teams the conversation could lead to what if Zack Moss played vs. USC.

As for Oregon, there is no injury concern for the Ducks in their loss to Auburn. Also, in the conversation for not having an injured player is Alabama who no longer has the services of Tua Tagovailoa.

Oregon’s athletic director Rob Mullens is the head of the playoff committee and he explained the rationale for ranking Alabama, Utah, and Oregon where they are as he notes the Moss injury.

“I mean, teams five through seven – obviously when you look at Alabama, outstanding play. Their only loss is to the No. 1 team in the country, and in every other game they’ve had convincing wins,” Mullens said. “Oregon is a team that’s won nine in a row, good road wins against ranked Southern Cal, at Washington, quality quarterback play, undefeated in the conference, only loss on a neutral field to Auburn and then Utah, really strong defense, only loss is to No. 23 USC, and that’s what separated them from Oregon, and when they lost to USC, Zack Moss, their elite running back, missed most of that game.”

Hearing that come from the chairman’s mouth is a big deal for the Utes as they and Alabama are the only teams who had a major injury to a key player. That talk of Moss’ injury could sway the committee to consider Utah for a playoff bid over a fully healthy one-loss challenger.

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