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
SEC Team & Player Midseason Awards

SEC Team & Player Midseason Awards

Only five more regular-season games remain in the SEC’s COVID-19 Conference-Games only schedule.

Here is my midseason awards for both teams and players.

BEST TEAM – Alabama 

Undefeated Tide keeps rolling, defeating opponents by 22 PPG, and outgaining them by 140 yards per game. 

Saban’s boys continue to dominate the SEC

SURPRISE TEAM – Arkansas

Hogs ended their 20-game conference losing streak and would be 3-1 if not for a botched call at Auburn. 

Arkansas 20-game conference losing streak is history thanks to leading the SEC with 13 turnovers forced.

DISAPPOINTING TEAM – LSU

Losing at home to Mississippi State gets worse every week. Pass defense is awful and couldn’t score on four tries from the one-yard line at Missouri.

MOST FORTUNATE/LUCKIEST TEAM – Auburn

What does it say about a team when the SEC concedes mistakes which would have reversed wins against Arkansas and Ole Miss? Instead, War Eagle is 3-2, which includes their first loss against South Carolina since 1933.

Auburn’s fortunate outcomes concerning questionable officiating which resulted in admissions of fault by the conference, has them sitting at 3-2 instead of 1-4.

BOY, WERE WE WRONG ABOUT THEM – Tennesee

Since taking an eight-game win streak and leading 21-17 heading into the half at Georgia…POOF!!!!!!

Opponents have outscored the Vols 99-25 since, and whatever hopes existed to join the East’s elite have disappeared.

BEST TEAM OUTSIDE OF ALABAMA – Texas A&M

Jimbo Fisher’s boys caught a lousy break facing Saban’s wrecking crew in Week 2. Kellen Mond and the defense increase in confidence every week. Victory over Florida could vault Aggies to finish 9-1 and a spot in the CFB Playoff.

MOST ENTERTAINING TEAM – Ole Miss

What else do you expect from a Lane Kiffin coached team? Between their offensive firepower and Kiffin fined for sending out a negative Twitter post about the officiating, it’s the most fun a 1-4 team can create. 

Kiffin’s presence in the SEC is always entertaining

PLAYER AWARDS

MVP: RB Najee Harris, Alabama 

Harris leads the SEC in rushing yards (595), TD (14), and yards from scrimmage (742). He’s scored a TD in each of his last 12 games, totaling 1,368 rushing yards and 26 TD over that span.

Najee Harris production leads the conference in rushing yards, TD and yards from scrimmage.

BEST PLAYER: WR DeVonta Smith, Alabama

Smith’s production and ability to consistently make plays – great plays – makes him the best playmaker in College Football today.

BEST FRESHMAN: RB Tank Bigsby, Auburn

Despite rushing for 46 yards in the Tigers’ first two games, Bigsby’s impact over the last three games is phenomenal. The Freshman from Lagrange, Georgia, totaled 386 yards rushing and two TD’s while averaging just under six YPC (5.8) over that span.

Rushing Yards/Production
2020 Season
First 2 GamesLast 3 Games
Tank Bigsby
Carries1460
Yards46386
Auburn
Carries52124
Yards130692

Tank Bigsby leads Freshman in rushing yards and a big reason Auburn’s running game is once again lethal after a poor start.

BIGGEST SURPRISE/IMPROVEMENT: WR Elijah Moore, Ole Miss

Perhaps it’s a bit of a stretch to call Moore’s production this season a surprise after posting solid numbers his first two seasons at Ole Miss. However, Moore’s improvement this season is noticeable. His 47 receptions and 591 receiving yards both lead the SEC.

MOST UNDERRATED PLAYER: RB Kevin Harris, South Carolina

The Gamecocks Sophomore RB ranks second in the conference in rushing yards (535), TD (9), and yards from scrimmage (634).

Kevin Harris ranks second in the SEC in rushing yards, TD and yards from scrimmage

BEST DEFENSIVE PLAYER: LB Azeez Ojulari, Georgia

Ojulari’s speed and presence single-handedly defeated Tennesee and has stood out among his peers. His three sacks, two fumble recoveries rank among the best in the conference.

Final Look: NFL Week 7 – Five Interesting Stats

Final Look: NFL Week 7 – Five Interesting Stats

As we near the mid-point of the 2020 COVID-19 Special NFL season, strange circumstances surround the league. With the NFL trade deadline set for November 3 at 4 PM EST, Week 8 is the last weekend teams can showcase the players they wish to offer.

Here is the Week 7 version of Five Interesting Stats.

Eagles Lead NFC East with Losing Record and Negative Point Differential

Despite registering just two wins in their first seven games, the Philadelphia Eagles lead the NFC East. The Eagles 22-21 victory over the Giants on Thursday Night Football (Philadelphia erased a 21-10 lead with under six minutes remaining) gave them a 2-4-1 record, which currently sits percentage points higher than the 2-5 Cowboys and Redskins in the NFC East. All four teams feature negative point differential, with Washington currently besting the Eagles by 1 (Eagles -33, Redskins -32).

Highest Negative Point Differential
Division Winners, NFL Regular Season History
W-LPoint Diff.
2010 Seahawks7-9-97
2011 Broncos8-8-81
2016 Texans10-6-49
2014 Panthers*7-8-1-35
>>All Won Wild Card Playoff Game

Carson Wentz rallied the Eagles for a 22-21 win over the Giants in Week 7.

Falcons Lose in Final Seconds…AGAIN. 

Matthew Stafford’s GW 11-yd TD pass to T.J. Hockenson saw the Falcons fall to 1-6 on the season. Atlanta’s 23-22 loss marked the third time the Falcons surrendered a lead with two minutes or fewer remaining in their first seven games.

Largest Negative Point Differential
Second Half, 2020 Season
W-L2nd Half Pt Diff.
Atlanta Falcons1-6-40
New York Jets0-7-37
Buffalo Bills5-2-33
Philadelphia Eagles*2-4-1-25
Minnesota Vikings1-5-25

Todd Gurley’s go-ahead score left 1:12 remaining, left too much time on the clock for the Lions and Matthew Stafford.

Jets Fall to 0-7 behind Offensive Offense

After totaling 30 plays for 193 yards and culminating their third drive with a five-yard TD run by rookie RB La’Mical Perine with 8:28 remaining in the second quarter gave the Jets a 10-0 lead, the Jets offense disappeared. 

Gang Green recorded 25 total yards on 22 plays covering their final six possessions. If the Jets lose at Kansas City Sunday, they will match the 1996 team for the worst start in franchise history.

New York Jets Offensive Drives
Week 7 vs. Buffalo
1st 3 DrivesLast 6 Drives
Plays3022
Total Yards19325
Points Scored100
1st Downs113
Turnovers02
Punts04
Sacks Allowed24

Sam Darnold and the Jets totaled just 25 yards on their final six drives.

Stafford Registers Another Fourth-Quarter Rally

In the Lions 23-22 victory over the Falcons, Matthew Stafford posted his 28th fourth-quarter comeback and 34th game-winning drive since 2011, the most in the NFL. The former Georgia alum threw for a season-high 340 yards, with 75 coming on their game-winning drive. 

Despite his success, Stafford’s 42,605 career passing yards are the most for a QB never to win a postseason game.

Most Regular Season Passing Yards
No Postseason Victories, NFL History
Pass YdsPlayoff W-L
Matthew Stafford42,6050-3
Jim Hart34,6650-2
Ryan Fitzpatrick34,4210-0
John Hadl33,5030-2

Matthew Stafford led the Lions on his 34th GW drive since 2011, the most in the NFL.

Steelers Stay Undefeated

In a battle of unbeaten teams, the Steelers bested the Tennessee Titans, 27-24, as Stephen Gostkowski missed a 45-yard FG as time expired. Trailing 27-7, the Titans rallied but lost for the first time in 2020. The Steelers never lost a game in which they led by 20 or more points (212-0-1). The Raiders and Jaguars are the only other NFL franchises never to lose when leading by 20 or more points.

Franchises Never To Lose
When Leading by 20 pts or more
First Season (Year)Largest Blown Lead
Steelers193318 pts (2x)
Raiders196018 pts (3x)
Jaguars199517 pts (4x)