Kansas is third in the BCS standings and is hoping to get into the national championship game. Hawaii is 16th in the standings and hoping to get into a BCS bowl.
Each is undefeated, and the Jayhawks and Warriors have played questionable competition. So what's the difference? Why is one a championship contender and the other isn't?
This topic and others are addressed in this week's mailbag.
What's the difference?
I am not and probably never will be a Hawaii fan. That said, can you explain why Kansas is ranked so much higher than the Warriors? Both have played weak schedules and each only has two real quality opponents left. I've heard the arguments against Hawaii – non-BCS conference, time zone, etc. But what is the argument for Kansas? Anyone could put up unreal offensive numbers against weak opponents, couldn't they?
— Caleb in Columbus -----
Kansas still has a lot to prove. The Jayhawks' Division I-A opponents are a combined 40-54, and Central Michigan (6-4) and Texas A&M (6-5) are the only teams KU has faced that have winning records.
But Kansas' schedule is much stronger than that played by Hawaii, whose schedule might even embarrass Bill Snyder.
First of all, Hawaii played two Division I-AA opponents. If that's not bad enough, the seven Division I teams Hawaii has played thus far are a combined 21-50.
Furthermore, Hawaii needed overtime to defeat Louisiana Tech and San Jose State, both of whom are 4-6. By the way, San Jose State lost by 20 points to Kansas State - which lost to Kansas.
Any questions about Kansas' validity as a national championship contender are legitimate. But any questions about whether Kansas should be ranked ahead of Hawaii are not.
If the Heisman is for the best college football player, why does it matter how many losses his team endured? Why can Paul Hornung win in 1956 at Notre Dame and (Tennessee's) Johnny Majors not? I know the answer. Do you have what it takes to write about the discrimination and favoritism of "local" voting? How can Peyton Manning get beat by a defensive back (Michigan's Charles Woodson)? Simple answer: Peyton Manning played in the despised SEC, where there are very few voters.
— Al in Mobile, Ala. -----
Gosh, Al, I voted for Peyton Manning in 1997.
But I'll be glad to comment on the discrimination in the 1956 Heisman voting and agree that Hornung was not a deserving recipient. The trophy should have gone to Syracuse running back Jim Brown, who was fifth. No black player won the Heisman until 1961.
As far as voting goes, the country is divided into six regions with an equal number of voters in each region.
Do you think UConn has a good chance to win the Big East?
— Marvin in Bridgeport, Ct. -----
Connecticut has consistently proven me wrong this season. I picked Louisville. UConn won. I picked USF. UConn won. I picked Rutgers. UConn won.
So what happens? I jump on the Huskies' bandwagon and pick them over Cincinnati, and the Bearcats win.
Obviously, I'm not the best authority to be judging UConn's future, but I think the Huskies will be 5-1 in the Big East and will play at West Virginia on Nov. 24 to decide the conference championship.
I'm picking West Virginia.
Please enlighten me as to why voters think LSU is No. 1. The Virginia Tech team they played early in the season is not the Virginia Tech team of today. That gives a misconception of the power of their schedule to the computers. The games against all the decent teams LSU played have been close and took miracle plays or luck to beat them. This is not the sign of a top-five team, let alone No. 1. I would love to see something rational explaining why LSU is No. 1.
— Darrell in Huntsville, Ala. -----
The easy answer is that looking bad winning is still better than looking good losing.
Virginia Tech may be better now than it was when it played LSU in the second week of the season. But all we have to go by is that LSU won against a team that now has an 8-2 record.
If they played again, would Virginia Tech win? Maybe, maybe not. But we know who won when they played.
By the same token, would LSU beat Kentucky if they played again?
Also, it's not uncommon for national-championship teams to win close games throughout the season.
USC barely beat California and UCLA in 2004. Ohio State needed a last-minute touchdown pass on fourth down to beat Purdue in 2002, and an interception returned for a touchdown by Torrance Marshall allowed Oklahoma to escape an upset against Texas A&M in 2000.
Considering Clemson's chances
What are the chances that Clemson will win out?
— Matt in Charleston, S.C. -----
Good, I think.
The Tigers clearly have gotten better in the past month, and they close out the regular season with Boston College and South Carolina – each of which has struggled of late. I'm picking Clemson in those games.
Then, in the ACC Championship Game, Clemson probably faces Virginia Tech. The Hokies blasted the Tigers 41-23 on Oct. 6. But Clemson quarterback Cullen Harper, who threw two interceptions in that game, has thrown 12 touchdown passes and just one interception in the past four games. He figures to play better if there is a rematch.
Olin Buchanan is the senior college football writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.