Playoff Before Playoff? Standings, Heisman Updates

Playoff Before Playoff? Standings, Heisman Updates

December is upon us! As we imagine a world without
COVID (vaccines coming this week), the College Football world continues to entertain us.

Updated CFB Standings
Since the NCAA puts out their standings on Tuesday, I will put mine out on Sunday. I use my own formula, which I think is more accurate in placing the teams.

2020 CFB Playoff Standings
CKMagicSports/WorldWideSportsRadio
W-LPoints
1. Alabama8-0228
2. Notre Dame9-0199.7
3. Clemson8-1196.2
4. Florida7-1141.9
5. Texas A&M6-1134.9
6. Ohio State4-0134.2
7. Cincinnati8-0128.9

Despite their loss to Notre Dame, Clemson’s overall numbers are outstanding. Florida moves down from three to four, and like Clemson, holds destiny in their own hands. As a result of their lackluster performance against LSU, along with playing fewer games than each of the top four teams, Texas A&M’s numbers saw them drop out of the top four.

2020 College Football Standings
Playoff Resumes
W-LSOSW-L vs Top-25PPG Diff.YPG Diff.
Alabama8-033-030178
Notre Dame9-0141-016.2160.5
Clemson8-141-124.2*210*
Florida7-181-117.5122.4
Texas A&M6-151-1990.4
Ohio State4-0162-019.3146.5
Cincinnati8-0642-024.5*165.4*
*Adjusted to eliminate totals vs subdivision opponent

Kyren Williams’ three TD runs helped Notre Dame fend off Clemson, 47-40 in 2 OT at South Bend on November 7th.

The “Unofficial” Playoff Round?

Assuming each team finishes their regular seasons without a blemish, these four teams will participate in a pre-playoff playoff. Alabama (1) meets Florida (4), and Notre Dame (2) takes on Clemson (3) on December 19 in the SEC and ACC Championship Games. While the SEC stayed with division winners earning a spot in the conference championship, the ACC instead features the conference’s top two teams.

ACC Championship Preview
2020 Offensive Statistics
ClemsonNotre Dame
PPG45.837.9
Yards PG525.6463.8
Plays Per Game81.772.4
Yards Per Play6.46.4
TD Passes2312
TD Rushes2227
Total TD4539

Barring a massive upset (all four teams are huge favorites in each of their remaining two games), the top four teams in the nation will square off on December 19.

College Football Playoff Standings Committee Nightmare Scenario

Figuring in likely undefeated programs Ohio State and Cincinnati, would increase that choice. Ohio State, assuming they defeat Michigan State, Michigan and their opponent in the December 19th Big Ten Championship Game, would give them seven wins. How could one justify the Buckeyes inclusion into the College Football Playoff when they played at least three fewer games than all the other qualified programs?

Cincinnati’s undefeated resume appears more complete, as they would finish with ten wins (includes assumed victories over Tusla and their opponent in the AAC Conference Championship Game on December 19th).

One substantial reason for the argument suggesting the College Football Playoffs expand to eight teams in 2020 holds weight looking at the scenario if Clemson and Florida win their conference championship games. Such an outcome (assuming Texas A&M, Ohio State, and Cincinnati do not lose) produces impossible choices for the committee. Texas A&M, Florida and Alabama each would have one loss and hold advantages over the other (Florida over Alabama, Alabama over Texas A&M, Texas A&M over Florida). Clemson and Notre Dame would cancel each other out, making a choice between the two difficult.

Trevor Lawrence missed the Tigers meeting with Notre Dame on November 7.

Lawrence Returns

The certain number 1 pick in the 2021 NFL draft, Trevor Lawrence, returned to action Saturday after not playing since October 24 due to COVID. Lawrence showed no signs of rust, completing 26-37 for 403 yards and 2 TD in the Tigers’ 52-17 victory over Pittsburgh. In seven games this season, Lawrence registered 319 Pass YPG, 19 TD and 2 INT, 11.1 Pass Yds Per Attempt, while completing 70.6 percent of his pass attempts. 

Clemson completes their regular season schedule this Saturday, traveling to Virginia Tech (4-5). The ACC has yet to confirm the December 12th rescheduling of the Tigers postponed matchup against Florida State. The postponement of their originally scheduled meeting saw harsh words thrown between Clemson Head Coach Dabo Swinney and Florida State Head Coach Dan Norvell.

Mac Jones has a clear path leading Alabama to the 2020 College Football Playoffs.

Heisman Takes Shape
Mac Jones set a career-high with five TD, while posting his fifth 300-yard passing game this season, in the Crimson Tide’s 42-10 victory over Auburn. Jones connected with DeVonta Smith on a 66-yd TD pass in the first quarter, along with a 58-yard TD pass which put the game away early in the second half. Smith has 16 TD receptions of 30-yards or longer, in addition to breaking Amari Cooper’s school record for TD receptions earlier this season (31 – Smith now has 35).

Heisman Watch
Through Eight Games
Joe Burrow>>Mac JonesKyle Trask
W-L8-08-07-1
TD-INT30-423-334-3
Pass Yards2,8052,7282,810
Pass YPG350.6341351.3
Comp. Pct.78.876.271.4
Yds Per Att.10.81210.3
>>2019 Heisman Trophy Winner

Alabama’s explosive offensive attack has registered 71 TD from scrimmage 30-yards or longer since DeVonta Smith’s Freshman season in 2017.

DeVonta Smith and Kyle Pitts represent the key targets for the 2020 Heisman hopefuls

Alabama’s Quick Strike Offense
TD from Scrimmage, 30-yards or longer
TotalDeVonta Smith
2020134
2019238
2018233
2017121
Total7116

Meanwhile, Kyle Trask registered his second-highest career completion percentage (77.8 – min 25 att.), going 21-27, 256 yds, 3 TD, as the Gators moved closer to clinching the SEC East. Both Alabama (at LSU) and Florida (at Tennessee) will make their SEC Championship Game matchup official with a win this weekend.

Most Division Titles Won
SEC Since 1992
Division TitlesSEC Championships
Alabama128
Florida127
Georgia83
Auburn72
LSU65

Two Most Successful Programs Since 1992

The Tide and Gators anticipated matchup in the 2020 SEC Championship Game will mark the 13th division title for each program. This would mark the tenth time these programs would battle each other for the SEC Championship (Alabama leads, 5-4).

SEC Championship Preview
2020 Offensive Statistics
AlabamaFlorida
PPG48.543.4
Yards PG535.6509.3
Plays Per Game48.543.4
Yards Per Play7.97.4
TD Passes2436
TD Rushes246
Total TD4842

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CFB Playoff Standings Released – Try Not to Laugh!

CFB Playoff Standings Released – Try Not to Laugh!

On Tuesday, the 13-member CFB Playoff Committee released their first standings. Below are the committee’s list of the top-10 teams, followed by my response and top-10. A question often asked is who is on the committee.

You can find the 2020 members by clicking here, and strength of schedule standings here.

2020 CFB Playoff Committee Standings
SOS
1. Alabama 7-03
2. Notre Dame8-029
3. Clemson7-16
4. Ohio State4-021
5. Texas A&M 5-15
>> 6. Florida, 7 Cincinnati, 8. Northwestern, 14. BYU

I cannot currently select a team with four games or a member of a significantly weaker conference ahead of other teams with the same amount of losses.

For more on my view of the CFB Playoff selection, click here.

CFB Playoff Standings
Mark Everett Kelly
W-LTotal (PPG + YPG Diff. +/- Top 25 W/L – SOS)
1. Alabama7-0220.6
2. Notre Dame8-0152
3. Florida6-1119.3
4. Texas A&M5-1111.8
5. Clemson7-1217.4
6. Ohio State4-0147.3
7. Cincinnati8-0127.9
10. Northwestern5-030
>> BYU (12), Coastal Carolina (15)

SEC Potential Playoff Scenarios Take Shape

SEC Potential Playoff Scenarios Take Shape

The end of 2020 cannot arrive soon enough for this lowly sportswriter. If our nation’s division isn’t already toxic, incessant rambling concerning the College Football Playoff selections seems unavoidable.

Yes, I understand the comparison is drastically overblown. However, fans of the Big Ten, ACC, Pac-12, and Big 12 view the SEC as “the favorite child” of the CFB Playoff committee.

As we enter December next week, we find ourselves just one month from the CFB Playoffs. Thanks to COVID delays, Alabama and Texas A&M currently will fail to complete a full 10-game conference schedule.

MATCHUPTIME (ET)
Kentucky#6 Florida12:00 PM
VanderbiltMissouri12:00 PM
#22 Auburn#1 Alabama3:30 PM
Mississippi StateOle Miss4:00 PM
LSU#5 Texas A&M7:00 PM
#13 GeorgiaSouth Carolina7:30 PM

Florida and LSU are using the December 12 makeup date to play their postponed October 17th meeting. This denies Alabama the opportunity to reschedule their November 14th visit to Baton Rouge. 

The Crimson Tide’s only options would be scheduling South Carolina or Vanderbilt (the only remaining SEC teams Alabama hasn’t played – obviously minus LSU) on December 12. The Gamecocks are on target to complete their 10-game schedule, making a possible rescheduled meeting with Alabama for December 12 unlikely. That leaves Vanderbilt as the only potential opponent without the Crimson Tide scheduling another SEC team twice.

The conference initially rescheduled Vanderbilt-Missouri for December 12 (making up their October 17 matchup), denying the opportunity. This Saturday, Vanderbilt’s schedule initially had them hosing Tennesee, while Arkansas traveled to Missouri. However, the SEC released this press release on Monday. 

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama (November 23, 2020) – The Arkansas at Missouri football game of November 28 has been postponed, resulting in rescheduling of games that include Vanderbilt playing at Missouri on November 28 and the postponement of the Tennessee at Vanderbilt game originally scheduled for November 28.

The Arkansas at Missouri football game of November 28 has been postponed due to combination of positive tests, contact tracing and subsequent quarantining of individuals within the Arkansas football program, consistent with Southeastern Conference COVID-19 management requirements.

The Vanderbilt at Missouri game is a rescheduling of a game postponed on October 17. The game will be played at Noon ET on Saturday on the SEC Network.

The Tennessee at Vanderbilt game is postponed for the purpose of facilitating the rescheduling of the Vanderbilt at Missouri game. This rescheduling of games allows for the continued opportunity for all 14 teams to play all of its 10 games in the 2020 season.”

The conferences rescheduling of these matchups now clears Vandy’s scheduled for December 12th. Could this indicate what I am suggesting? We will see.

The Aggies can use December 19 to make up their matchup against Ole Miss, but doing so would add to the chaos that is 2020 by playing opposite the SEC Championship. However, such a scenario must occur if Texas A&M wants to separate itself from other CFB Playoff contenders.

2020 College Football Standings
Playoff Resumes
W-LW-L vs Top-25PPG Diff.YPG Diff.Total
Alabama7-02-030.1189.5219.6
Notre Dame8-01-020158178
Florida6-11-116.6111.7128.3
Texas A&M5-11-18.3105.5113.8
Clemson7-11-125.9198.5224.4
Ohio State4-02-019.3146165.3
Cincinnati8-02-025.9165190.9
Northwestern5-01-013.221.835

BEST OPTION FOR SEC

Since Alabama owns the only undefeated record in the conference, completing the season unblemished (including a victory over Florida in the SEC Championship) would give them the best resume and an automatic bid to the playoff.

SEC NIGHTMARE SCENARIO

If Florida 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 would hold a head-to-head edge over Alabama, Alabama would hold the head-to-head advantage over Texas A&M, and A&M would hold the tie-breaker over Florida. Such a scenario would force the CFB Playoff committee to make an impossible choice between three equallly worthy teams.

Possible Solutions?

The most obvious scenario would involve expanding the CFB Playoff to eight teams. This would allow non-power five conference teams such as Cincinnati, BYU, Coastal Carolina and Marshall, all who currently are undefeated, an opportunity to participate in the playoff. An expanded playoff format, would also allow all three aforementioned SEC teams (in the one-loss for each scenario) to qualify, in addition to teams from the Big Ten (Ohio State, Northwestern) and ACC (Notre Dame, Clemson).

Regardless, this is an intereting paralell and despite the impossible to predict outcomes, It should be exciting to witness.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mark Everett Kelly is a former two-time Emmy Award winning writer/researchere from ESPN. Mark retired in 2008 due to the onset of long-term side effects from cancer treatment (chemotherapy, radiation and bone marrow transplant). This led to Mark’s current health problems (Crohn’s Disease. Lymphedema and Hemochromotosis). To help support Mark in his battle, click on these links (Paypal, and Patreon).

SEC Week Nine: Trask and Jones Stand out for Division Leaders

SEC Week Nine: Trask and Jones Stand out for Division Leaders

As the calendar turns toward Thanksgiving next week, the College Football world faces difficulty heading into the final weeks of 2020.

The SEC postponed Texas A&M-Ole Miss representing another week of delays that affects the outcome of the season. Last week the conference postponed four games, including Alabama-LSU, which they will likely cancel due to unavailable remaining dates.

Week 9 Schedule
Southeastern Conference
VisitorHomeTIME (ET)
#6 Florida (5-1)Vanderbilt (0-6)12:00 PM
LSU (2-3)Arkansas (3-4)12:00 PM
Kentucky (3-4)#1 Alabama (6-0)4:00 PM
Tennessee (2-4)#23 Auburn (4-2)7:00 PM
Mississippi State (2-4)#13 Georgia (4-2)7:30 PM
Missouri (2-3)South Carolina (2-5)7:30 PM

Kyle Trask, Mac Jones Lead Race for Heisman

Kyle Trask and Mac Jones possess similarities across the board. Both are big, strong-armed QBs, both received their chance after an injury in their junior season, and both have lit up the SEC this season.

Both QB’s statistics mirror the 2019 Heisman Trophy and National Champion Joe Burrow through six games.

Mac Jones leads the three in passing yards (2,196 – 39 more than Burrow, 26 more than Trask), passing yards per game (366 – 6 more than Burrow, 3 more than Trask), and yards per attempt (12.4 – .8 more than Burrow and 2.1 more than Trask).

Joe Burrow leads in two categories (completion percentage 79.6 – 1 percent higher than Jones and 9 more than Trask) and passer rating (218.1 – just under 8 points higher than Jones and 21 points higher than Trask). Kyle Trask leads in one (TD (28 – 3 more than Burrow, 12 more than Jones).

Mirror Image?
Through Six Games
BurrowJonesTrask
W-L6-06-05-1
TD-INT25-316-228-3
Pass Yards2,1572,1962,171
Pass YPG359.5366361.8
Comp. Pct.79.678.570.1
Pass Yds Per Att.11.612.410.3
Passer Rating218.1210.3197.5

Alabama Dominates the East Division

This week the Crimson Tide receives another opportunity to showcase their dominance against the East Division when they host Kentucky. The Wildcats lost six straight against the Tide, including going winless at Alabama (0-21). Overall, Kentucky’s lost 36 of their last 38 (one tie) meetings against the Tide, with their only win coming in 1997 (40-34 at Kentucky).

Kentucky’s defense could pose a problem to Alabama, as the Wildcats lead the SEC in fewest passing yards per game allowed with 214.0. They have only allowed three passing TD in their last five games after allowing seven in their first two games.

Alabama takes a 29-game win streak against the East into Saturday’s matchup. Under Nick Saban, they are 38-3 against the East, including 6-1 in the SEC Championship Game.

QB Terry Wilson leads Kentucky’s offense

Alabama vs East
Under Nick Saban (Since 2007)
W-L38-3>>
Current Win Streak29 games
PPG Diff.20.9
>>6-1 in SEC Championship Games

Destined for Showdown?

Both Alabama and Florida head toward a December 19 showdown in the SEC Championship. Here is a breakdown of both teams through six games.

The two opponents last met in the 2016 SEC Championship when Alabama defeated Florida 54-16. Saban’s crew currently holds a six-game win streak over the Gators. This would be the 10th time meeting in the SEC Championship (Alabama leads 5-4).

Florida and Alabama last met in the 2016 SEC Championship Game.

Who’s Better?
2020 Season Stats
AlabamaFlorida
W-L6-05-1
PPG47.245.8
PPG All.2230
PPG Diff.25.215.8
Yards PG555.2511.7
Yards PG All.389.2411.3
Yards PG Diff.166100.4

Florida last won the SEC in 2008 (defeated Alabama 31–20). Alabama last won in 2018 and lead the conference with eight titles (since 1992).

Florida Owns Vanderbilt

The Gators head to Vanderbilt on Saturday, where historically they are dominant. Florida won six straight and 28 of last 29 against Vandy, including their last 14 at Nashville.

Since allowing 17 points in their opener against Texas A&M, the Commodores have allowed 39.8 PPG against their last five opponents. Overall Vanderbilt takes a 10-game SEC losing streak into their matchup with Florida.

Vandy was unable to catch Kentucky last week, losing their 10th straight SEC Game, 38-35.

Auburn, Tennessee Meet in Rare Matchup

Auburn and Tennessee face off Saturday for just the third time since 2010. The Vols snapped a six-game losing streak against the Tigers with a 30-24 victory at Jordan-Hare in 2018.

Since taking an eight-game winning streak and leading 21-17 at halftime against Georgia, the Vols opponents have outscored them 133-37. After struggling to start the season, Auburn’s offensive revival in their last four games includes rushing for 224 yards per game, totaling just under 474 yards per game while averaging just under 34 PPG.

Auburn Offense
2020 Season
1st 2 GamesLast 4 Games
PPG17.533.8
Yards PG270473.8
Rushing YPG65224

Bo Nix has totaled 538 passing yards with 4 TD along with 133 rushing yards and 2 TD in the Tigers last two games.

Bulldogs Matchup in Athens

Georgia has won two straight and 11 of their last 12 meetings against Mississippi State. Since starting the season 3-0, Georgia has lost to Alabama and Florida to dash their National Championship hopes.

After racking up 632 yards and 44 points in their season-opening win at the defending National Champions, Mississippi State has registered just 263 YPG and 10.8 PPG in losing four of their last five games.

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