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.
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.
#5 Texas A&M
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
W-L vs Top-25
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.
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).
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.
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).
Through Six Games
Pass Yds Per Att.
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.
Alabama vs East
Under Nick Saban (Since 2007)
Current Win Streak
>>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).
2020 Season Stats
Yards PG All.
Yards PG Diff.
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.
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.
1st 2 Games
Last 4 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.
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.
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
Florida ranked in Top 10
Florida ranked in Top 5
Arkansas ranked in top 25
SEC Championship Game
>>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.
First 2 Games
Last 3 Games
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.
November 7 vs Georgia
1st 2 Drives
Last 11 Drives>>
Yards Per Play
>>Gators outscored Georgia 44-14
1st 3 Games
Last 2 Games
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).
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).
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
>>From Start of Season
Defensive TD Scored
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.
First 2 Games
Last 4 Games
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.
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.
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
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
1st 3 Games
Last 2 Games
Florida ranks third in the SEC in total offense (476.5 – trailing Alabama & Ole Miss), and second in PPG (42 – behind Alabama).
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
1st 3 Games
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.
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.
Last 2 Games
1st 3 Games
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
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.
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.
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
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
>>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.
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.