Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens knows what it takes to reach the College Football Playoff, having four years on the CFP selection committee including two as chair.
One week before the initial CFP rankings are released, Mullens believes the No. 8 Ducks (6-1, 4-0 Pac-12), who took sole possession of first place in the Pac-12 after defeating UCLA last week, have a “very strong resume” based on their strength of schedule and other metrics.
“I think the thing for us right now is we have a very good strength of schedule, when you look at we played the No. 1 team in the country and defending national champions, really in their backyard,” Mullens said on UO’s in-house radio show on Tuesday. “So it was a road game for us, traveled all the way across the country. Then also when we played at the point we played BYU they were a top 12 team, a top 10 team. From a scheduling standpoint we stepped up and played a real strong schedule. Then the Pac-12 has proven to be really good this year. To win a top 10 matchup this past weekend. To go on the road in a place like Pullman, which is a difficult place to play, and one of the beauties of having (former) coaches on that committee is they understand what it’s like to go to Pullman and how difficult that is.
“I think, again, it’s way early. There’s a reason that the CFP rankings don’t start until after Week 9. Preseason polls don’t matter. Weekly polls don’t matter. It’s a clean sheet of paper every week. But I think when you look at what we’ve done and when they do put our metrics up against the board, what we’ve been able to do offensively and even defensively has been strong. We’ve given up some scores late in the game when the game is out of hand. I think we have a very strong resume.”
Oregon is ranked No. 8 in both the AP and coaches polls, a season-high and second among one-loss teams behind No. 6 Alabama.
As of now, Oregon’s total opponent win percentage is tied for 30th. UO’s strength of schedule to date, based on past opponent win percentage, is tied for 15th in the FBS and its remaining schedule of five regular season games ranks 58th, with trips to Cal (3-4, 1-3) and Colorado (1-6, 1-3) the next two weeks.
Statistically, Oregon leads the Pac-12 and ranks in the top 10 nationally in scoring, total offense and rushing. However, while the Ducks rank in the top 20 at defending the run their overall and scoring defense rank 77th and 87th, respectively.
“I think when it comes out, with our strength of schedule, our offense is putting up incredible numbers and I think our defensive metrics are strong,” Mullens said. “Because everybody watches the games, they will know, we probably could’ve scored at the end of last week’s game. There was another game (at Arizona) that we’ve ended by taking a knee that we probably could’ve scored. I think if you looked at the halftime scores you could see the dominance that we’ve had in games.”
Historically, the CFP selection committee has viewed teams that lost blowouts unfavorably. It’s what could make Oregon, which opened the season with a 49-3 loss to No. 1 Georgia, a fascinating case this season.
The first CFP rankings of the season will be announced at 4 p.m. PT on Nov. 1. CFP selection committee chair and NC State athletic director Boo Corrigan and CFP executive director Bill Hancock will hold a weekly teleconference thereafter.
“There’s a lot of football left to be played,” Mullens said. “Everybody — that first rankings show gets a super high rating because everybody is excited to see and while the ratings go down (the following weeks), the games kind of take care of themselves. Teams get eliminated in the head-to-head matchups. The No. 1 thing you can do is keep winning.
“The first step is to prepare this week and go on a tough road trip. Cal is a difficult place to play against a really, really good defense. Take care of business and then you really have to stay in the moment because like we’ve said, if you back to the history of the rankings, teams just knock themselves out.”