SEC Week 8 –  Arkansas Hopes to Play Spoiler at Florida

SEC Week 8 – Arkansas Hopes to Play Spoiler at Florida

Only three games and six teams take the field on Saturday in the SEC due to COVID-19 penetrating the conference. Originally seven games scheduled are reduced to three, as the college football world fears cancellation and the hard fought efforts of players, coaches and programs, evaporating.

The conference features Vanderbilt (0-5) at Kentucky (2-4), and South Carolina (2-4) at Ole Miss (2-4), but only one has National importance. Four of the five ranked teams scheduled to play Saturday had road games, with #6 Florida being the only exception as they host Arkansas.

Games postponed this week.

VisitorHomeStatus – Reschedule Date ?
#1 Alabama (6-0)LSU (2-3)PostponedTBD
#5 Texas A&M (5-1)Tennessee (2-4)Postponed – December 12
#12 Georgia (4-2)Missouri (3-3)Postponed – TBD
#24 Auburn (4-2)Mississippi State (2-4)Postponed – December 12

Coach of the Year candidate, Sam Pittman, will miss Saturday’s game at Florida due to COVID.

Arkansas (3-3) at #6 Florida (4-1), 7:00 PM EST (ESPN)

One of the infected this week is Arkansas coach Sam Pittman. Pittman is the third known SEC coach to test positive for COVID-19 joining Alabama’s Nick Saban and Florida’s Dan Mullen. Barry Odom will serve as interim coach.

First Meeting Since 2016

The Gators and Razorbacks meet for the first time since 2016. Arkansas defeated Florida 31-20 on November 5, 2016, representing their only victory against Florida since joining the SEC in 1992 (Florida won the previous nine matchups).

Arkansas Series History
vs Florida
W-L
Overall2-9>>
at Florida0-4
Florida ranked in Top 101-5
Florida ranked in Top 50-5
Arkansas ranked in top 251-3
SEC Championship Game0-2
>>1-9 since joining SEC in 1992

Last game – Arkansas

Felipe Franks threw three second-half TD, overcoming a 13-0 deficit to defeat Tennessee 24-13. Treylon Burks continued his strong recent play, hauling in the decisive score, giving him 23 catches for 349 yards and four TD in his last three games. 

Treylon Burks
2020 Season
First 2 GamesLast 3 Games
Receptions823
Yards112349
YPC1415.2
TD14

Last game – Florida

The world’s largest outdoor cocktail party saw Florida face the same start as Arkansas did against Tennessee.  After allowing 136 yards on their first seven plays, the Gators defense strangled the Bulldogs, allowing only 142 total yards (80 coming on their only other TD drive) the rest of the game.

Florida Defense
November 7 vs Georgia
1st 2 DrivesLast 11 Drives>>
Plays750
Yards136142
Yards Per Play19.42.8
Punts07
TD21
Turnovers03
>>Gators outscored Georgia 44-14

The Gators defense has improved considerably in their last two games.

Florida Defense
2020 Season
1st 3 GamesLast 2 Games
PPG33.317.5
Yards PG495262.5
1st Downs28.714
Turnovers35

The Gators defense broke the back of Stetson Bennett and Georgia holding them to 2.8 yards per play on their last 50 plays

While Florida’s defense dominated, Kyle Trask led the Gators offense, setting an SEC record with this fifth straight game with four or more TD passes, as the Gators scored 44 of the final 58 points, outgaining Georgia by 294 yards (571-277).

Florida Strengths

Kyle Trask leads an explosive Florida offense ranked 19th in the nation in YPG (495) – second in the SEC – and 12th in PPG (42.4) – second in the SEC. Trask’s 22 TD ties him with three others for the most in the nation, despite playing fewer games (Trask 5 – others have at least 6).

Kyle Trask set an SEC record in the Gators 44-28 win over Georgia with his fifth straight game throwing at least four TD.

Since taking over for Felipe Franks in week three of the 2019 season against Kentucky, Trask has 46 TD passes and 4,590 passing yards in his 15 starts. Trask has registered at least 4 TD passes in each of his five starts this season. 

Graham Harrell of Texas Tech holds the record for most games with 4 TD passes from the start of the season, with six in 2007. Davis Webb playing for Cal in 2016 is the only other QB to throw 4 TD in his first five season games.

Most Games 4 TD Passes, QB
NCAA Football, Since 2000
GamesTeamYearTD
Graham Harrell6Texas Tech200724
Kyle Trask5Florida202022
Davis Webb5California201622
>>From Start of Season

Arkansas Defense
2020 Season
TotalSEC Rank
Passing YPG222.22nd
Turnovers Forced151st
Defensive TD Scored31st

Arkansas Strengths

Sam Pittman’s crew leads the SEC in turnovers forced with 15. Only Kentucky allows fewer than Arkansas’ 220 passing yards PG in the SEC. However, the Hogs’ inability to stop the run (179.3 YPG – 2nd worst in SEC) is something Florida’s offense could exploit.

Arkansas Offense
2020 Season
First 2 GamesLast 4 Games
PPG15.529
Total YPG277.5426
Rushing YPG70172.3

Arkansas offense taken off the last four games, averaging 426 yards per game and 29 PPG after averaging 277.5 yds per game and 15.5 PPG in their first two games. Felipe Franks gets his chance to show the Gators they made the wrong choice when Kyle Trask replaced him against Kentucky last season. Franks has 14 TD and just one INT in his last five games. 

Felipe Franks and Treylon Burks have grown familiar the last three weeks, combining for 23 catches, 349 yards and four TD.

Prediction:

The Gators offense is too much for a much-improved Razorbacks defense, but the Hogs’ revenge factor with Franks will inspire them to stay in the game until the fourth quarter.

Final Score

Arkansas 24

Florida 34 

SEC Week 7 – Florida, Georgia Decide East

SEC Week 7 – Florida, Georgia Decide East

Despite challenges from Tennessee, South Carolina, Kentucky, and Missouri, none of the also-rans in the SEC East made a dent.

Once again, the SEC’s ugly sibling (consider the East Jan and the West Marsha Brady) comes down to the “World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party” on Jacksonville’s neutral field.

While there are three other games in the SEC, only #7 Texas A&M traveling to South Carolina has national consequences. Alabama returns to action next week, traveling to LSU.

#5 Georgia (4-1) vs #8 Florida (3-1), 3:30 PM EST

The Bulldogs defeated Kentucky 14-3 last week, rebounding from their latest second-half collapse against Alabama.

In a game marred by a halftime brawl, featuring Head Coach Dan Mullen, Florida answered any detractors criticizing their loss to Texas A&M by thumping Missouri 41-17. 

Strength vs. Strength

Much like the Bulldogs-Tide meeting earlier this season, two of the nation’s most talented units (Gators offense, Bulldogs defense) clash.

Offense vs Defense
2020 Ranks
Florida OffenseGeorgia Defense
PPG4216.2
Total YPG476.5300.6
Pass YPG342.8220.6
Rush YPG133.880

Georgia ranks first in the SEC in total defense (300.6 YPG) and PPG (16.2). Georgia ranks first in rushing defense, allowing just 80 YPG. However, both Alabama and Kentucky succeeded, averaging 142.5 rushing yards after the Bulldogs held their first three opponents under 39 rushing YPG.

Georgia Rushing Defense
2020 Season
1st 3 GamesLast 2 Games
Rushes7782
Yards Allowed115285
YPG38.3142.5
TD01

Florida ranks third in the SEC in total offense (476.5 – trailing Alabama & Ole Miss), and second in PPG (42 – behind Alabama). 

Zamir White ran for 136 yards against Kentucky.

Weaknesses to Exploit

Georgia ranks third in the SEC in rushing YPG (175.2). Thanks to the return of tackle Kyree Campbell, the Gators held Missouri to 40 rushing yds. Florida allowed 164 rushing YPG in their first three games, including 205 in their loss to Texas A&M.

Last season, Georgia held Florida’s explosive offense to only seven possessions in their 24-17 win. The team with more rushing yards won the previous 14 meetings in this matchup.

Florida Rushing Defense
2020 Season
1st 3 Gamesvs Missouri
Rushes11923
Yards Allowed49240
YPG16440
Yards PC4.11.7
TD41

Kyle Trask continues to improve despite setting consistently high standards to surpass each week. Despite playing only four games, Trask’s 18 TD passes and 189.2 passer rating rank in the top two. His 335 passing YPG ranks second behind Mac Jones in the SEC. 

A pair of Kyle’s (QB Trask and TE Pitts) rank among the SEC’s best duos.

Like the Tide, the Gators possess weapons to challenge Georgia’s secondary, culminating with TE Kyle Pitts. Pitts ranks third in the SEC with seven TD receptions while ranking ninth averaging 16.9 yds per catch. 

Georiga’s pass rush, led by Azeez Ojulari (4.5 sacks) and Adam Anderson (2.5), sparks a defense leading the SEC with 17 sacks. If both don’t pressure Trask, Georgia doesn’t stand much of a chance.

Stetson Bennett’s struggles over his last two games provide many of the doubts experts have about Georgia. If Bennett can return to his success earlier in the season, Georgia’s success skyrockets. 

Stetson Bennett
2020 Season
Last 2 Games1st 3 Games
Comp Pct.50.971.6
TD/INT2/55/0
Pass YPG200229.6

Can Either Program Challenge Alabama in the SEC Championship?

Criticizing Georgia’s inability to finish against the Tide should come with perspective. Educated analysts recognize how little separates both teams, and another matchup could produce a different result.

The same applies to Florida, whose offensive firepower rivals Ole Miss, who gave Alabama fits earlier this season. While both programs possess the talent and coaching to challenge the Tide, Alabama’s complete dominance this season is impressive. One also needs to remember Nick Saban’s crew currently holds a 29-game win streak against SEC East opponents.

PPG, YPG Differential
2020 Season
W-LPPG Diff.YPG Diff.
Alabama6-035.2166
Georgia4-113105.4
Florida3-112.743.2
Texas A&M4-10.440.6

All-time Series – Georgia leads 53-43-2

Last Nine Matchups – Georgia 6, Florida 3

The Bulldogs enter with a three-game win streak. Before that, Florida and Georgia swapped three-game win streaks.

The Spurrier/Meyer Era – Starting with the hire of Steve Spurrier in 1990, extending through Urban Meyer’s final season in 2010 (also includes FireRonZook three seasons from 2002-04), the Gators won 18 of 21. 

Prediction:

Like their matchup against the Tide, Georgia needs to keep up offensively with Florida’s juggernaut. I don’t believe they can, although it will come down to the final minutes with Florida’s ability to run the ball in the fourth quarter making the difference.

Final 

Georgia 27

Florida 31

Could Texas A&M Follow Path of 2017 Alabama?

Could Texas A&M Follow Path of 2017 Alabama?

While Florida and Georgia battle each other in Jacksonville, only one of the remaining three SEC games has national consequences. Texas A&M (#7, 4-1) continues its quest to reach the College Football Playoff when they travel to Williams Brice Stadium.

After the Aggies defeated Florida on October 10, I predicted their place in the College Football Playoff. Like Alabama in 2017, not winning the West benefits them, eliminating the risk of losing in the SEC Championship. While the Tide was exceptionally more dominant than the 2020 Aggies are, the circumstances surrounding College Football this season provide a much different landscape.

PPG, YPG Differential
2020 Season
W-LPPG Diff.YPG Diff.
Alabama6-035.2166
Georgia4-113105.4
Florida3-112.743.2
Texas A&M4-10.440.6

Jimbo Fisher finally seems to be getting through to Kellen Mond.

However, I’m not 100 percent convinced of Jimbo Fisher’s squad’s ability for consistent play. Looking at their remaining games, Tennessee, LSU, and Auburn all can play spoiler.

In previous seasons some questioned QB Kellen Mond’s desire and consistency. This season, Mond is producing career-best in passer rating (154.5), yards per pass attempt (8.9), completion percentage (64.1), and interceptions (2).

On defense, Texas A&M ranks fourth in the SEC in total yards (375.8), including trailing only Georgia in stopping the run (104.8 Rush YPG, 3.4 YPC). If you subtract the 544 total yards allowed against Alabama’s explosive force, that number drops to 333.8.

If the Aggies complete the season with eight straight wins, it says a lot about their growth and undoubtedly worthy of reaching the College Football Playoff.

Best Cross Division Records
SEC, Since 2012
W-L
Alabama19-0
LSU15-4
Texas A&M>>14-4
>>Play South Carolina Saturday

Why Would The Aggies Make it Over Florida or Georgia?

Texas A&M holds the tie-breaker over Florida since they defeated them. However, this scenario ASSUMES Alabama runs the table and defeats Florida or Georgia in the SEC Championship.

If Georgia defeats Florida on Saturday, finishes the season with one loss, AND defeats Alabama in the SEC Championship, they would replace A&M as the second team in the SEC.

If Florida defeats Georgia tomorrow, finishes the season with one loss while beating Alabama in the SEC Championship, that presents an interesting equation. 

Such a scenario gives Alabama, Florida, and Texas A&M one loss, while all three teams hold advantages. Florida has the head-to-head edge over Alabama, Alabama holds the head-to-head advantage over Texas A&M, and A&M holds the tie-breaker over Florida. 

Trevor Lawrence will not play Saturday against Notre Dame.

What about the Big Ten, ACC, Pac-12, and Big 12?

Forget the Big 12. The winner of Clemson-Notre Dame represents the ACC, and due to playing fewer games, only Ohio State has the resume to make an argument amongst Big Ten and Pac-12 teams. Before Pac-12 and Big Ten fans send hate mail, this assumes no one other than Ohio State finishes undefeated, giving them the final spot in the Playoff.

If Notre Dame defeats Clemson on Saturday, the Tigers could make a case to advance to the playoff due to Trevor Lawrence’s current health. However, the weakness of the ACC outside of these two teams creates a more challenging case.

Final Look NFL Week Eight: 5 Need to Know Stats

Final Look NFL Week Eight: 5 Need to Know Stats

The NFL trade deadline has come and gone. While the entire nation sits and waits while election results continue to count, we present the final look at Week eight.

Five Interesting Stats – NFL Week Eight

Jets Tie Worst Start in Franchise History
Culminating with the Jets 35-9 loss at Kansas City, Gang Green tied the franchise record for most losses to start the season. Overall, the Jets are 21-51 since the start of the 2016 season. Another ringing indictment is how poorly Adam Gase adjusts his game plan. In the first half, the Jets moved the ball well in each of the last two games. The numbers drop drastically in the second half.

New York Jets Offensive Drives
Last 2 Games
1st Half2nd Half
Plays7438
Total Net Yards (Includes Penalty Yards)37967
Points Scored190
1st Downs264
Turnovers12
Punts09
Sacks Allowed16
Adam Gase’s glaring failue to make halftime adjustments continues to plague the Jets.

Chargers Continue to Invent Ways to Lose
The Los Angeles Chargers are certainly putting their fans through excruciating losses in 2020. Sunday marked the fourth time the Chargers blew a double-digit lead. Drew Lock’s GW TD pass to KJ Hamler with no time remaining, marked the third time Los Angeles allowed a game-winning or game-tying score in the final minute in 2020.

Chargers Blown Leads
2020 Season
Final Result
vs Kansas CityLed, 17-9>>Lost, 23-20 (OT)
at Tampa BayLed, 24-7Lost, 38-31
at New OrleansLed, 20-3>>Lost, 30-27 (OT)
at DenverLed, 24-3>>Lost, 31-30
>>allowed score in final minute

The Chargers loss to Denver marked the fourth double-digit lead they failed to hold this season.

Steelers Tie Best Start in Franchise History
The Steelers 28-24 victory at Baltimore helped them remain the only undefeated team in the NFL. Their 7-0 start matches the 1978 Super Bowl Champions for the best in franchise history, who finished 14-2.

Pittsburgh Steelers
Team Comparison, 1st 7 Games
20201978
W-L7-0>>7-0>>
PPG30.126.4
Total Point Diff.69108
Yards PG Diff.29.3102.9
TO Forced1417
Sacks3024
>>Best Start in Franchise History

Mean Joe Greene and Jack Lambert were two human beings one would rather not piss off.

Steelers Part 2 – Winning Ugly
The Steelers victory on Sunday came despite registering a season-low 221 total offensive yards and 50 offensive plays. Since the merger, the Steelers are 4-17 when their offense produces such numbers.

Steelers Offensive Production, Regular Season
Fewer than 221 yards and 50 plays
Overall W-L4-17
Road W-L3-9
Previous Win (Prior to Sunday)11/06/05 at GB, 23-10
>>Regular Season Games, Since Merger

Rams Can’t Explain This Loss

Against the Miami Dolphins, the Los Angeles Rams defense allowed 145 yards and eight first downs. Since the merger, the Rams entered Sunday 9-1 when holding opponents to those totals. The Rams point differential in those ten previous games was +236. 

The Rams 28-17 loss at Miami marked the second time since the merger they lost a game when holding opponents to such totals. Their other loss came on October 28, 2013, 14-9 hosting Seattle.

Rams Defense, Regular Season
Allow 145 yds & 8 1st Downs or Fewer
vs DolphinsPrior to Sunday
W-L0-19-1>>
Total Points Allowed2824
Point Differential-11236
>>Included Seven Shutouts (Since Merger)

The Rams defensive effort failed to make up for their 4 turnovers.

The Rams also outgained Miami 471-145, a difference of 326. Since the merger, the Rams were 5-0 prior to Sunday when such a drastic difference occured. Three of those wins came by shutout, while their point differential in those contests was +177.

Largest Yard Diff., Regular Season
Los Angeles Rams, Since Merger
DifferentialFinal Score
11/1/20 at Miami326L, 28-17
11/11/01 vs Carolina347W, 48-14
12/1/19 at Arizona351W, 34-7
10/9/1988 at Atlanta351W, 33-0
11/4/1979 at Seattle482W, 24-0
12/4/1976 vs Atlanta488W, 59-0