Heisman Watchlist: Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson

Since bursting onto the scene as a true freshman, Trevor Lawrence has been considered a Heisman favorite while manning the quarterback position for the Clemson Tigers. Although he wasn’t a finalist last season, in what is almost certainly his final collegiate season, Lawrence is again among the biggest favorites to bring home the hardware. Last year, Lawrence was done in by factors both in and out of his control; he was off to a slow start as Clemson muddled through the opening stages of their schedule, and a lack of high profile games in the ACC gave Lawrence few chances to impress against elite competition. Meanwhile, Joe Burrow put up one of the best seasons in college football history, and Justin Fields and Jalen Hurts also posted huge numbers. Throw in Chase Young’s monster campaign on the defensive side of the ball, and Lawrence was shut out of New York. He finished 7th in voting, also trailing a pair of Big 10 running backs in Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor and Ohio State’s J.K. Dobbins.

However, entering 2020, five of the six players that garnered more votes than Lawrence last season are off to the NFL, leaving the Clemson signal-caller, with another complete season under his belt, as a natural favorite to contend for the Heisman.

What he needs to improve

To be a legitimate Heisman contender in 2020, Lawrence cannot afford to sleepwalk through an ACC schedule that is loaded with mediocrity that is extremely conducive to sleepwalking. Lawrence is obviously more focused on winning a national title than the Heisman, but even if Clemson doesn’t need him at full strength to run through their conference schedule, Lawrence will need to be locked in to put up stats that keep him on the radar of Heisman voters. Last year, Lawrence posted QB ratings of 63.7 (vs. Georgia Tech), 67.2 (@ UNC), and 58.0 (@ Louisville). Clemson dominated two of those games and escaped the Tar Heels, but Lawrence didn’t throw for more than 233 yards in any of those games against middle-of-the road competition, so despite the unblemished record, Lawrence was quickly discounted from Heisman consideration.

The last two Heisman winners – Joe Burrow and Kyler Murray – were noted for both their outstanding numbers and remarkable consistency. Burrow had one QBR of 73.8, and no other performances that checked in below 85.0. Murray’s worst performance featured a 78.2 rating, and only one other effort under 90.0. If Lawrence is to beat out Justin Fields and other elite competitors for the award, he will need to cut down on his lackluster efforts and simply dominate the inferior competition in the ACC, week in and week out.

Best “Heisman Moment” Opportunity

@ Notre Dame, November 7

This is the only correct answer to this question. Last year, Clemson’s regular season slate did not include a single team that finished the year in the Top 25. This year, barring a collapse beyond even normal Notre Dame standards, that will change, as Clemson’s road trip to South Bend serves as their most difficult game of the year by far. A big performance here combined with a solid showing in ACC play will go a long way towards earning Lawrence a spot in New York in December. If Lawrence posts anything less than great numbers against the Irish, it will be difficult to rebound given the lack of quality opponents on their schedule. Beating Notre Dame on their home field, where the Irish haven’t lost since Week 2 of 2017, would be massive, both for Clemson and for Lawrence’s Heisman hopes.

Game Most Likely To Ruin Heisman Chances

@ Florida State, October 10

If I could simply say “The ACC”, I would. While Fields will get multiple shots at Heisman moments against a loaded Big 10 slate, Lawrence gets his one chance at Notre Dame, and then a bevy of games where he will be tasked with putting up big numbers on bad teams. Florida State is not a legitimate threat for the ACC Championship this year. They’ve really struggled recently, and most projections have them topping out third in their division, behind Clemson and Louisville. Florida State is unlikely to be a ranked team, which makes Clemson’s road trip to Doak Campbell Stadium a real trap game. Clemson is just 5-12 in true road games against FSU in program history, despite winning in their last two trips. Clemson has won the last three clashes between these squads by at least 17 points, but, beyond their trip to Notre Dame, this is Clemson’s toughest road game of the year, and a bad performance, or a loss, here will destroy Lawrence’s chances.


We Simulated Every CFP – But With An 8-Team Field

Every year, as the College Football Playoff committee controversially selects four teams for the Playoff, there are outraged cries for expansion, as many feel that to many elite teams get shafted by the Committee due to one unfortunate result. The four-team CFP has been around for six seasons now, so we decided to look into how much an expanded field would have changed the results we’ve watched play out on the gridiron.

We expanded the playoff in each season to 8 teams. The Power-5 conference champions and top-ranked Group of 5 team were guaranteed a spot, and the other two slots went to at-large teams. We determined the field by the final CFP rankings of each season, seeding them as they were ranked by the Committee. Here’s what we got:

The Field

  1. Alabama
  2. Oregon
  3. Florida State
  4. Ohio State
  5. Baylor
  6. TCU
  7. Mississippi State
  8. Boise State


1. Alabama def. 8. Boise State 42-13 
2. Oregon def. 7. Mississippi State 37-17
3. Florida State def. 6. TCU 34-31 (OT)
4. Ohio State def. 5. Baylor 42-24
4. Ohio State def. 1. Alabama 38-35
3. Florida State def. 2. Oregon 40-24


3. Florida State def. 4. Ohio State 35-30

The Summary

We do get a new champion in our first year with an 8-team playoff, and I really see a distinct reason for that happening. Jameis Winston and his defending champion Seminoles seemed to really coast through an undefeated season and were simply unprepared for Oregon in the semifinals. In this simulation, they get their wakeup call in the quarterfinals, where they are still talented enough to escape with a come-from-behind OT victory. TCU awakens the beast that is FSU, and they thump Oregon in the semis to reach the championship against Ohio State, who replicated their underdog run with Cardale Jones under center. FSU wins a classic, with Winston throwing for three touchdowns and Dalvin Cook rushing for two, leading the Seminoles to back-to-back titles. 


The Field

  1. Clemson
  2. Alabama
  3. Michigan State
  4. Oklahoma
  5. Iowa
  6. Stanford
  7. Ohio State
  8. Houston

1. Clemson def. 8. Houston 27-18
2. Alabama def. 7. Ohio State 24-20
6. Stanford def. 3. Michigan State 28-27
4. Oklahoma def. 5. Iowa 28-13


1. Clemson def. 4. Oklahoma 37-28
2. Alabama def. 6. Stanford 35-16


2. Alabama def. 1. Clemson 30-13

The Summary

Despite the same champion, this was an interesting plug for an expanded playoff. Eighth-seeded Houston led Clemson at halftime and pushed the Tigers for most of the game, while Alabama and Ohio State played an instant-classic in the 2 v. 7 match-up. We also saw our first quarterfinal upset, courtesy of Christian McCaffrey and the Stanford Cardinal, which gave us a different look in the semis, but ultimately, Alabama vs. Clemson (Episode 1) was not to be denied. The championship game was definitely less close than the championship, although the game was actually 16-13 entering the fourth quarter, but Deshaun Watson didn’t have the fourth quarter touch, allowing Jake Coker and the Tide to seal the deal. 


The Field

  1. Alabama
  2. Clemson
  3. Ohio State
  4. Washington
  5. Penn State
  6. Michigan
  7. Oklahoma
  8. Western Michigan

1. Alabama def. 8. Western Michigan 45-17
7. Oklahoma def. 2. Clemson 42-31
6. Michigan def. 3. Ohio State 33-24
4. Washington def. 5. Penn State 40-21

1. Alabama def. 4. Washington 37-34 (OT)
6. Michigan def. 7. Oklahoma 30-24

6. Michigan def. 1. Alabama 29-28 (OT)

The Summary

Wow. What a stunning result in the 2016 simulation. If you remember, Michigan was left out of the CFP due to their gut-wrenching loss to Ohio State that involved the infamous “J.T was short” play. With the extended field, the Wolverines get a rematch of The Game in the quarterfinals, and they break their losing streak against Ohio State. Meanwhile, Oklahoma stuns Clemson in the quarterfinals, ending Deshaun Watson’s championship run before it started, as Baker Mayfield simply torched the Tigers. Alabama returned to the championship game, but even with Clemson out of the way, they couldn’t rise to the top, as Michigan took them to OT, and then shocked the world and went for two and the win after their overtime touchdown – “It’s Speights, rolling right, fires to Chesson and it’s caught! Michigan wins!” (My electric play-by-play call that I had in my head as I typed this article). Michigan stuns everyone and grabs the national championship. 


The Field

  1. Clemson
  2. Oklahoma
  3. Georgia
  4. Alabama
  5. Ohio State
  6. Wisconsin
  7. USC
  8. UCF


8. UCF def. 1. Clemson 37-27
7. USC def. 2. Oklahoma 49-34
3. Georgia def. 6. Wisconsin 30-21
5. Ohio State def. 4. Alabama 24-14

5. Ohio State def. 8. UCF 34-20
3. Georgia def. 7. USC 33-30

5. Ohio State def. 3. Georgia 31-27

The Summary

Another year, another wild result with our expanded playoff simulation. 2017 Clemson was probably the weakest of their ongoing dynasty, and they ran into probably the best Group of 5 qualifier of the CFP era in unbeaten UCF, resulting in our first 8 over 1 upset. Sam Darnold put seventh-seeded USC into the semifinals, and #5 Ohio State rolled the Tide in the first round to set up a wild second round. A little bit of normalcy was restored in the semis, with #3 Georgia edging USC, and Ohio State thumping UCF to set up a more traditional championship, where the Buckeyes rallied in the fourth quarter to pull out a national championship, their first in the CFP era after they lost the 2014 title game. For the second straight year, our national champion is a team that didn’t even qualify for the CFP in reality. 


The Field

  1. Alabama
  2. Clemson
  3. Notre Dame
  4. Oklahoma
  5. Georgia
  6. Ohio State
  7. UCF
  8. Washington


1. Alabama def. 8. Washington 38-23
2. Clemson def. 7. UCF 66-24
3. Notre Dame def. 6. Ohio State 28-24
4. Oklahoma def. 5. Georgia 41-35


1. Alabama def. 4. Oklahoma 42-37
2. Clemson def. 3. Notre Dame 45-23


2. Clemson def. 1. Alabama 40-34

The Summary

There were a few notable storylines, but ultimately there were no upsets and nothing changed from the actual CFP in 2018. We got to see Notre Dame prove they were worthy of a semifinal spot by edging Ohio State, giving the Irish a needed win in a big game. We finally saw a Group-of-5 team get better than an eight seed, only to watch Clemson absolutely unload on UCF in a revenge game, and an instant-classic in the Oklahoma-Georgia quarterfinal. Once we got to the semis, it was pretty much a familiar story; Tua and the Tide edged out Kyler Murray and Oklahoma (by a slightly smaller margin than in reality) and Clemson thumped the Irish. The title game was closer than it was two years ago, but Trevor Lawrence and the Tigers emerged victorious and take home their first title of the CFP era. 


The Field

  1. LSU
  2. Clemson
  3. Ohio State
  4. Oklahoma 
  5. Georgia
  6. Oregon
  7. Baylor
  8. Memphis


1. LSU def. 8. Memphis 42-33
2. Clemson def. 7. Baylor 42-20
3. Ohio State def. 6. Oregon 30-23
5. Georgia def. 4. Oklahoma 35-20


1. LSU def. 5. Georgia 38-31
2. Clemson def. 3. Ohio State 24-20


1.  LSU def. 2. Clemson 30-27

The Summary

2019 LSU continued to be a machine, although they survived a few scares in this expanded playoff. They dealt with a feisty Memphis offense that, last season, posted 39 points on Penn State’s elite defense. They had to beat Georgia for a second time, and the Bulldogs proved far more competent, particularly with their second crack at LSU’s defense, but Burrow and Co. still emerged victorious. Ultimately, the only changed result was Georgia walloping Oklahoma in the quarterfinals to keep the lackluster Sooners out of the semis, while we also saw an Ohio State-Oregon thriller in the first round. Clemson edged out the Buckeyes in the semis once again, and they pushed LSU to the edge, leading into the fourth quarter, but Burrow put the Tigers on his shoulders and grinded out the victory. 

The 6-year Recap

Ultimately, with six years of an 8-team playoff, we saw three different champions crowned (in 2014,2016, and 2017).We saw just two editions of the Bama-Clemson rivalry and a few shocking quarterfinal upsets, including UCF’s stunner over Clemson, and a pair of victories from the #7 seeds. We witnessed a miracle championship run from #6 Michigan in 2016, before ending our simulation with two of the greatest teams of all time triumphing over expanded fields in 2018 and 2019. 

The initial results of the addition of quarterfinals to the Playoff seemed not great on the surface as only 25% (6/24) first-round contests were decided by one possession. However, even if the quarterfinal clashes were somewhat lopsided at times, they led to more competitive semifinals, as 7 of our 12 semifinal games were decided by 8 points or less. To this date, only three of 12 actual CFP semifinals have been decided by a single score. This note, plus the fact that two of our simulated champions were teams that were actually left out of the Playoff, serves as yet another plug for the Playoff to be expanded in the near future.

Best College World Series Stories of the 2010s

The College World Series at a magical time in the baseball season – as the major league season hits the dog days of June and July, the best collegiate talent gathers in Omaha, Nebraska for a double elimination tournament that has produced some classic moments. However, with the coronavirus pandemic cancelling this past CWS, it gave me time to reflect on some of the best stories from Omaha over the past decade. Here are my top 5 inspiring CWS runs from the 2010s. 

#5.  2013 UCLA

UCLA wasn’t necessarily a massive underdog to reach Omaha, as they were a top-20 team in the nation and a top seed in their region entering the NCAA Tournament. After breezing through the Los Angeles regional with a 3-0 record, the Bruins surprised fifth-ranked Cal State Fullerton, a titan in the college baseball world, sweeping the favorites in a two-game Super Regional on the road. At 44-17, the Bruins entered the College World Series with the worst record among the eight teams, with no CWS titles to their name and just a 4-9 overall record in Omaha. 

However, UCLA continued to breeze through the field – you would have hardly known they were the 6h seed in the event. Facing traditional powerhouse and 57-win LSU in the opener, UCLA won 2-1, and they matched that score against NC State to reach the semifinals. There, they had two chances to take down the #1 team in the nation in UNC, but the Bruins needed just one. Their pitching continued to dominate, as UCLA won 4-1. In the best-of-three championship series, UCLA got a somewhat welcome surprise as Mississippi State, the 7th seed in Omaha, emerged as their challenger for the championship. The Bruins eked out a 3-1 victory in the opener, and they sealed their dominant championship run with an 8-0 victory in the championship, giving up just four runs in five CWS games. 

UCLA’s pitching staff was led by tournament MVP Adam Plutko, who’s Game 1 gem (6 IP, 4 H, 1 R) gave the Bruins the jump in the championship series. 

#4. 2010 TCU
The Horned Frogs are one of two teams on this list that didn’t win the title, but their run to the College World Series semifinals in their first ever appearance was still inspiring enough to land them at #4. TCU played the 2010 season in the Mountain West Conference, so although they put together 51-win regular season, the Horned Frogs entered the NCAA Tournament ranked just 15th in the country. They cruised through their regional on their homefield, but they found themselves in a battle versus #2 Texas in the Super Regional. After winning a 3-1 opener, TCU was clubbed 14-1 in Game 2, seemingly shifting all the momentum to the Longhorns in the winner-takes-all battle. However, TCU rebounded and stunned their in-state rival with a 4-1 victory that got them to Omaha for the first time in program history. 

TCU found themselves facing Florida State, who was making their 20th appearance in the College World Series, second most in the field. The Horned Frogs didn’t blink, dismantling the Seminoles 8-1. After a setback to #6 UCLA, TCU proved their victory over FSU was no fluke, beating the tradition-laden program 11-7 in an elimination contest. 

TCU reached the semifinals and gave the sixth-ranked Bruins a big scare, winning the first game 6-2 to set up a winners-take-all clash with a championship series berth on the line. Despite their ultimate defeat in the semifinals, TCU’s season was regarded as a highly successful one and an extremely unexpected run given their lack of history and mid-major conference. Head Coach Jim Schlossengale was named the national head coach of the year. 

#3. 2019 Michigan

The 2019 Wolverines are the other team not to win a title that makes our list. Michigan entered the season with no College World Series appearances since 1984, and their last title coming in 1962. Not only that, but the Big 10 themselves were in the midst of a ridiculous cold streak in college baseball – since Michigan’s 1984 appearance only Indiana in 2013 had reached Omaha. The Wolverines didn’t look like the class of the conference for most of the season, and they didn’t win the Big 10 championship, but they slipped into the NCAA Tournament as a three-seed in their regional. However, once in the tournament, the Wolverines turned up the heat. 

Michigan smacked Creighton and Cincinnati to quickly reach their regional final. After suffering a setback to the Blue Jays, Michigan rebounded to beat Creighton for a second time and earn a date with the #1 team in the nation in UCLA. The entire three-game Super Regional was must-see baseball, with the Wolverines clawing out a 3-2 victory in Game 1, before succumbing 5-4 in extra innings of Game 2. The series came to Game 3, and Michigan wasn’t about to waste their deep tournament run, as they edged out the Bruins 4-2 in the elimination game, earning their first CWS berth in 35 years. 

Michigan was understandably a huge underdog in Omaha, as, with the exception of Auburn (1997), every team had been to the College World Series this decade. Five of the top-8 teams had survived this far, so Michigan didn’t have a cushy schedule by any means. However, the Wolverines were rolling, and they weren’t slowing down, beating Texas Tech and Florida State to reach the semifinals. They matched up with the Red Raiders once more, absolutely dismantling the boys from Lubbock, 15-3, to reach the championship. 

Michigan didn’t quite bring the Big 10 to glory, but they came extremely close against SEC powerhouse Vanderbilt. Michigan beat the Commodores, ranked second in the country, 7-4 in the opener, but they couldn’t quite get over the hump, losing the series in three games. Despite the final result, Michigan’s resurgence put the Big 10 back on the map and was one of the best stories of the decade. They were led by Tommy Henry on the mound, and Jimmy Kerr (1B), middle infielders Ako Thomas and Jack Blomgren, and outfielder Jesse Franklin, all of whom made the all-tournament team. 

#2. 2015 Virginia

If not for the #1 team on this list, Virginia may have been the most unlikely champion of the decade. The Cavaliers had finished as the CWS runner-up in 2014, but their 2015 season had been an absolute roller coaster, as UVA went 15-15 in ACC play, and with just 39 wins in the season, they held their breath on selection day, getting into the tournament as a 3-seed in their region. However, the Cavaliers cruised, with a 3-0 record to reach the Super Regionals, where they faced and swept a fellow three-seed in Maryland. 

The Cavaliers entered the College World Series faced with a daunting field including #2 LSU, #4 Florida, #5 Miami, and #7 TCU. Virginia got unranked Arkansas in the first round and escaped with a 5-3 win, before slipping past the Gators in a 1-0 shutout to reach the semifinals. There, they matched up with Florida once more, needing one win with two opportunities to do so. They needed both, losing 10-5 in their first effort. The Cavaliers scraped through to the championship round on the strength of a 5-4 upset of Florida, earning UVA a title-series rematch with Vanderbilt. 

The championship series looked bad for the Cavaliers, who appeared overmatched in a 5-1 Game 1 loss. However, buoyed by an elite start from Josh Sborz, Virginia bounced back with a 3-0 shutout victory in Game 2, and they closed out the Commodores in Game 3, 4-2 to cap off one of the most unlikely championship runs in recent college baseball history. 

#1. 2016 Coastal Carolina

This was the obvious choice, as even though Coastal Carolina entered the NCAA Tournament as a higher seed than Virginia, the Chanticleers had zero history in the College World Series and as a member of the Big South, they weren’t taken seriously as a title contender by most major media outlets. However, the Chanticleers beat #9 NC State in two of three contests throughout their regional to reach a Super Regional against #8 LSU. There, the Big South representatives swept the Tigers to reach Omaha for the first time in school history. 

The Chanticleers earned a stunning victory to start their College World Series journey, toppling the top-ranked Florida Gators 2-1. That win alone may have been enough to call their debut journey to Omaha a success, and it looked like that would be the high point when they were smacked by TCU 6-1 in their next contest. However, Coastal rallied to edge #5 Texas Tech 7-5, followed by a pair of victories over the Horned Frogs to reach the championship against an unseeded but heavily favored Arizona team. The Wildcats blanked Coastal 3-0 in the first game, but the Chanticleers responded with a 5-4 victory in Game 2. In the deciding battle, Coastal turned to Andrew Beckwith, the national leader in wins, who had already pitched two complete games in Omaha. He didn’t go the distance in Game 3, but his 5 ⅔ innings were enough to keep Arizona at bay. The Chanticleers built a 4-0 lead in the sixth inning and staved off the Wildcats just enough for a 4-3 title-clinching victory. An absurd and unprecedented run by the Chanticleers that was the no doubt choice for the #1 slot here.

Beating Vegas: Best SEC Bets After Latest Odds Released

The Las Vegas SuperBook released their latest SEC championship odds for, and whether you’re laying down 50 cents or a few thousand dollars, wanna be betters and sports fans should keep an eye on the odds given. Vegas is far from flawless (need we remind you of Joe Burrow’s 200:1 Heisman odds), so what are the best – and worst – ways to take advantage of these most recent odds.

Best Bets

Florida – 4:1

Alabama, Florida and Georgia were the only teams given odds of better than 10:1 to win the conference, and I love the Gators 4:1 odds here. Alabama is listed at 5:4 which, given the cutthroat nature of the SEC is not nearly good enough to lay a preseason bet on, and I’m very high on the Gators dethroning Georgia in the East. In my top 10 quarterback rankings, I had Kyle Trask as the top ranked signal-caller in the conference at #10, and I’d take Dan Mullen as a top-3 SEC coach, so if I’m betting on one of the favorites, I’m going with the guys out of Gainesville.

Auburn – 12:1

My favorite SEC West odds by far. As aforementioned, Alabama’s odds are too stingy to attract any kind of bet from me, and the second-best odds were stunningly given to the Texas A&M Aggies, which I’ll delve into more later. Auburn comes in at 12:1, with a rapidly improving ground game, perennially stiff defense, and a dynamic quarterback in Bo Nix that gives them more stability under center than many of their top competitors in the SEC West. Nothing against Myles Brennan and Mac Jones, but we haven’t seen the LSU QB in meaningful game action to this point, and Mac Jones just doesn’t excite me. Alabama and LSU are also ranked among the top-10 toughest schedules, so that seems to open a door for the Tigers. My biggest worry in potentially laying a bet on the Tigers is realizing that it will likely require a road victory in the Iron Bowl, so that may be a tough call.

Tennessee – 40:1

If I’m looking for a long-shot bet, I love this 40:1 payoff on the Volunteers, who ended 2019 on a six game winning streak, featuring an impressive road victory over Kentucky and gritty bowl game comeback against Indiana. After starting the year with discouraging losses against Georgia State and BYU, the Vols finished 8-3 in their final eleven games, with their only defeats coming in top-10 contests, two of which came on the road. Tennessee has a pretty talented roster and compete in the far more watered down SEC East. They have Alabama, Florida, and Georgia on the schedule, but two of those games are at home, and their other road conference games come versus Arkansas, South Carolina, and Vanderbilt, so Tennessee is an upset or two away from breaking into the SEC championship. Not too bad for a team that finished last season red-hot and features 40:1 odds.

Worst Bets

Texas A&M – 10:1

Far and away my least favorite odds given by Vegas – the Aggies slot in with the fourth-best odds in the conference, beating out defending national champions LSU and perennial SEC West contender Auburn. Head coach Jimbo Fisher and consistently overrated Kellen Mond lead Texas A&M into battle, and there is nothing that appeals to me less ( in the world of spending money) than placing a bet on the Aggies. They have exceeded 9 wins just once since 1998, which was also the last time they finished first in their conference, back in their Big 12 days. In their 8 SEC seasons, Texas A&M has finished between 6th and 9th in the conference six times, never appearing in the SEC Championship. And they’re suddenly supposed to challenge Alabama and beat Auburn and LSU. I could maybe see Mond and Co. squeaking out one of those wins, but between road games against the Tide and Auburn, and that rivalry weekend clash with LSU, I would like to bet a lot of money that I don’t have on A&M not finishing top-2 in the West.

Mississippi State – 80:1

I’m getting picky, because I really don’t have issues with the Alabama and Georgia odds near the top, as they’re both powerhouses with solid chances at advancing. 12:1 seems about right for LSU – the defending national champions with some uncertainty at quarterback and on defense. So that brings me to the Bulldogs, who aren’t likely to crack the top 4 in the West. Missouri, Kentucky, South Carolina, and Mississippi State are the four teams with 80-1 odds, and I’m not super high on any of those, although Kentucky may tempt be with Terry Wilson coming back from injury under center. The Bulldogs are the only team in the West on that list, and it’s quite the daunting task to emerge from that division with zero or one blemishes. With no SEC championships this decade and a wall of powerhouses to mow down in order to reach the title game, placing any kind of bet on Mississippi State seems no more useful than tossing a coin in a fountain and making a wish. Fun, maybe, but you’re not getting that coin back.

Vanderbilt – 2000:1

A wise man named Kevin Malone once said, “If anyone ever gives you 10,000 to 1 odds on anything, you take that bet”. Far be it from me to critique the wisdom of the Office and their infinite sports betting knowledge of Kevin Malone, but don’t place a bet on the Commodores for the sake of the long odds. Many people like to do that – drop a few bucks here and there on the teams with the worst odds for their shot at a ridiculous payday. Don’t do that with Vanderbilt and I’ll give you two numbers to tell you why – 1935 and 2012. Those were the only two years in Vandy’s 88-year history in the SEC that the Commodores have exceeded four wins in conference play. Since moving to an 8-game conference slate in 1992, the perennial jokers of the SEC have posted zero or one conference win a stunning 14 seasons. Just do everyone a favor and save your longshot bet for another conference. It isn’t happening in Nashville.

Ranking Group Of Five College Football Conferences

Yesterday, we ranked the Power-5 football conferences (in basketball, football, and baseball), so today, it’s time to look at rankings for the Group of 5 conferences – who is a joke, and who is a legit threat to Power-5 teams.






MAC -20, CUSA- 21, SB – 17, AAC – 8, MWC – 9

#5. Conference USA

Last season, it was 20th time is the charm for Conference USA, which lost it’s first 19 games against Power-5 opponents before scraping out November wins against cellar-dwelling Arkansas and a floundering Miami squad. They weren’t great outside of the Power-5 either, going just 9-12 against fellow Group-of-5 programs, and, thanks to Western Kentucky, they had the sole FCS loss among Group of 5 teams (Independent UMass and the ACC’s Georgia Tech had the other two FBS-FCS losses). Florida Atlantic (11-3) nearly cracked the top 25 at the end of the season, which would have provided the conference with a bit of pride, but they didn’t, and C-USA finds the basement in these rankings.

#4. Mid-Atlantic Conference

The MAC was a strong contender for the cellar in these rankings, but ultimately they got the nod to stay just above C-USA. Just with Akron (0-12), this conference has probably the worst team in the FBS, and they were even worse against Power-5 competition, going 2-21, although their wins over Illinois and BYU represented victories over at least semi-capable programs. The MAC loses to Conference USA in star power, with no teams collecting more than eight wins, but, outside of Akron, they also can’t match C-USA in truly atrocious teams. It’s a lot of mediocrity, in the MAC, but a decent bowl season (3-4) – and Conference USA’s FCS loss – kept them out of the basement.

#3. Sun Belt

Unlike the prior conferences in these rankings, every team in the Sun Belt had at least two wins, and outside of South Alabama (2-10) and Texas State (3-9), everyone came within a game of bowl eligibility. Appalachian State was one of the best Group-of-5 programs in the country, just missing out on a 14-0 season and winning the conference. The Sun Belt saw some strong performances against the Power-5, despite a relatively dismal 4-9 overall record. Georgia State toppled Tennessee, while App State upended both South and North Carolina, and Coastal Carolina snatched a road victory at Kansas, and Louisiana-Monroe took Florida State to overtime in Tallahassee. There’s things not to like – only five teams qualified for bowl games – but the Sun Belt, with a couple of very good teams, and cellar-dwelllers that don’t quite match the atrocity of those in the MAC and C-USA, belongs third on this list.

#2. Mountain West

It was nearly a toss-up between the clear top-2 conference in the Group of 5. The Mountain West had the best success of any conference against Power-5 programs, nearly breaking .500 with a 10-12 mark, including Boise State’s comeback against Florida State, along with road victories at Vanderbilt, Arkansas, UCLA, and Colorado. They struggled at times against other Group of 5 programs, however – after posting a 2-0 record against Conference USA, they went 1-5 against the AAC, Sun Belt, and Mac, ultimately relegating them to 2nd on this list. Boise State got smacked in the conference’s lone bowl game against a Power-5 team (38-7 loss vs. Washington), but they went 4-3 overall in bowl season. Boise State was the class of the conference, but Air Force, Hawaii, and San Diego State all reached at least 10 wins.

#1. American Athletic Conference

The AAC got the nod for the #1 Group of 5 conference. In a two-man competition with the Mountain West, the AAC won out with a 3-0 head-to-head record with the MWC, and they placed four teams into the AP Top 25 at the end of the season, to the Mountain West’s two. Their cherry on top is the New Year’s 6 bowl, where the AAC leads with four appearances – no other Group of 5 has more than two, and the Mountain West has just one. The American also went a stunning 16-1 against all other non Power-5 programs, with a 7-13 mark against Power-5 schools, punctuated with a ranked victory over #25 TCU. With Memphis, Navy, Cincinnati and UCF, the conference has four truly great teams, and SMU is pushing to make it five. The conference went 4-3 in 2019 bowl game appearances, led by Memphis’s stiff fight in the Cotton Bowl and Navy’s strong Liberty Bowl victory.

Mid-Major Report: Top 5 Returning Forwards/Centers

Mid-majors are an integral part of college basketball, moreso than virtually any other sport. Responsible for magical Cinderella runs in March, stunning upsets, and – as shown by Monmouth – some of the best bench antics in the country, mid-major stars can either explode (like Obi Toppin), or run quietly under the radar, putting up big game after big game while the spotlight shines elsewhere. So, that led us to consider, who are the top returning mid-major players in the country. As we did yesterday in our Big 10 and ACC lists, this is covering Forwards/Centers, as we will rank returning guards in another article. Without further ado, here are the top five returning mid-major big-men. 

#5. Gaige Prim, Missouri State

Despite only playing a little over 21 minutes per game, Prim became a consistent scoring threat for Missouri State in his first season at the NCAA level. A JUCO product, Prim showed out early in some non-conference action, dropping 18 points on Miami, although some of his early-season results were inconsistent, as was his playing time. However, as the season wore on, Prim’s consistency improved greatly, as he finished his 2019-2020 campaign by scoring at least 10 points in their final 13 contests, and in 18 of their last 19. Prim dropped a season-high 23 points in two different games, including a 23 point, 12 rebound effort against Drake. In a critical late-season victory over Loyola-Chicago, who finished second in the Missouri Valley Conference, Prim showed out with 16 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 blocks and a steal. Prim’s steady improvement as he got adjusted to the college game is a great sign for the Bears heading into next season, as he already is looking like one of the best post players in the MVC, and potentially one of the best post players in the country. 

#4. Ahsan Asadullah, Lipscomb

Playing 14 minutes a game his freshman year, Asadullah’s numbers were solid, if pretty modest. However, in his sophomore season, Asadullah became the primary post player for Lipscomb, and he became a monster in the paint for the Bisons. After averaging a little over 7 points and 4 rebounds per contest in his rookie year, Asadullah’s number skyrocketed to over 18 points and 10 rebounds per game, joining a short and exclusive list of players to average a double-double for the whole season. Asadullah scored more than 20 points on twelve different occasions, including a 40-point explosion against Florida Gulf Coast in the Atlantic-Sun quarterfinals. Asadullah didn’t back down from the spotlight, following his monster game against FGCU with a 27-point, 19-rebound onslaught, leading Lipscomb to a semifinal upset of North Florida. Although the Bisons ultimately fell short in the conference championship, it was hardly due to Asadullah, who dropped another 22 points and collected nine rebounds. Asadullah showed out all season, and he upped his game as the lights got brighter, so look for him to be one of the top big men at the mid-major level, and in the country, as Lipscomb looks to go dancing. 

#3. Douglas Wilson, South Dakota State

Another JUCO product, Wilson played his first collegiate season last year, although you would hardly know it from his numbers. Shooting 63% from the field, Wilson averaged 18.6 points and 6.4 rebounds per game, exceeding double digits in scoring in his final 19 games of the year, topping 30 points several times. He came out of the gate strong, posting 15 points against Power-5 programs USC, Nebraska, and #14 Arizona. In Summit League play, Wilson consistently put up huge numbers. The Jackrabbits were firmly entrenched in the top three in the Summit League, and facing fellow tournament favorites North Dakota State and South Dakota, Wilson scored 20 points in each contest, along with a 25-point, 10-rebund performance against Oral Roberts, the fourth-place team in the Summit League. With a bevy of strong performances already under his belt, it’s scary to think of what Wilson will be doing next year, having already played a full collegiate season. 

#2. Michael Hughes, Duquesne

In terms of experience, few can match Hughes on this list, as the Duquesne star has played three seasons, including over 24 minutes per game in his past two campaigns, shooting close to 60% in both his sophomore and junior years. Entering his final year, Hughes looks primed for an explosion in a very strong A-10, especially with Dayton stud Obi Toppin leaving the conference for the draft. Hughes’ battles against Toppin showcased some of his potential, as Hughes didn’t back down from one of the top players in the country, posting 29 points and 14 rebounds in two clashes with the Flyers. He posted a season-high of 23 points, and if Hughes can avoid the falls (7 foul-outs last season), I fully expect him to be one of the top mid-major players, and the best post player in the Atlantic-10. 

#1. Filip Petrusev, Gonzaga

Save your debates about whether Gonzaga should count as a mid-major for another day. They are not in a power-6 conference, so Petrusev qualifies for this set of rankings, the Serbia native was a relatively easy choice to claim the #1 spot. After being a role player in his freshman season, Petrusev began to truly showcase his abilities last season, averaging 17.5 points per game, paired with 7.9 rebounds. The Bulldogs traditionally load their non-conference schedule to make up for their lackluster West Coast Conference slate, so Petrusev got a chance to show out in some high-profile games, and he didn’t fail to rise to the occasion. In an overtime victory over #11 Oregon, Petrusev went off for 22 points and 15 rebounds, and in back-to-back contests against ranked Arizona and Washington squads, the Gonzaga star combined for 33 points and 17 rebounds. In the regular season finale and conference championship clashes with St. Mary’s, Petrusev posted 37 points and 20 rebounds, putting up elite numbers through the season’s end. Gonzaga figures to be a national title contender next season, and expect Petrusev to be a major factor in their championship chase.

Ranking The Power Conferences in Football, Basketball, Baseball

With Playoff berths and bowl games, March Madness appearances and trips to the NCAA Tournaments on the line, conversations always arise every season about which conferences are the most competitive in every sport. The SEC, Pac-12, ACC, Big 12, Big 10, and Big East in basketball battle for supremacy, so let’s rank them in the major sports – football, basketball, and baseball. 


  1. Pac-12
  2. SEC
  3. ACC
  4. Big 12
  5. Big 10

The top two in this list was pretty clear, as the Pac-12 and SEC have long been the most dominant conferences, combining for 30 College World Series titles between the two of them. The Pac-12 leads the way with 18 (titles won by an active Pac-12 member) although current members USC, Arizona State, Arizona, and Stanford have combined for 23 championships. After Spencer Torkelson was taken first overall this past year, the Sun Devils lead with four #1 overall picks in the MLB draft. The only major category the Pac-12 trails in is total CWS appearances, where they fall just short to the SEC (103-101).

The ACC comes in third, despite having just two College World Series titles as a conference. The ACC gets to Omaha frequently (96 total appearances), but they rarely bring it home as Florida State, Clemson, and North Carolina represent the top 3 programs with the most CWS appearances without a championship (46). Current member Miami has four championships, but only one as an active ACC member, and Virginia has the other ring. It was a battle between the Big 12 and Big 10 for the cellar, and it was the Big 10 taking last place with only 29 total appearances in Omaha, albeit six championships. Texas and Oklahoma State have combined for 32 first round draft picks, and no Big 10 school has more than 10. 


  1. ACC
  2. Big East
  3. SEC
  4. Big 10
  5. Pac 12
  6. Big 12

The ACC was the clear choice for #1 here. They’ve won three of the past five national championships and are tied for the most with 15 overall. They have the most NCAA Tournament appearances with 398, the most first round draft picks with 202, and tied for the most #1 draft picks with 11. No contest

After that, it got a little dicey. I was leaning towards the SEC for second, but the Big East’s recent superiority tipped them over the edge. They have three championships since 2013, whereas the SEC hasn’t won one since 2012. It was close to a toss-up for their but I went with Big East at #2, and the SEC for #3. 

After those initial three selections, the Big 10, with 11 #1 picks (T-1st), 132 1st round picks (132), and 10 national championships (4th) were the clear choice to slide into the fourth slot. They haven’t been very relevant, with only one title in the 21st century, but there’s lots of history and talent in this conference.

The Pac-12 and Big-12 were separated by a razor-thin margin and bring up the rear in the power conference rankings. The Pac-12 used to be one of the best, but they’ve faded from relevancy in recent years. Despite 15 national championships – tied for first with the ACC – the Pac-12 was largely fueled by UCLA’s dominance and their 23-year championship drought is the longest ongoing drought by any major conference. They slot in fifth, with the Big 12 bringing up the rear, running last with 50 first round draft picks, only one national championship, and next-to-last in NCAA tournament appearances. 


  1. SEC
  2. Big 10
  3. ACC
  4. Pac-12
  5. Big 12

I would say it was the dramatic unveiling of the best conference of the best college sport, but did anyone ever doubt who was finishing #1 here? Led by Alabama’s recent dynasty, the SEC have 25 national championships, including ten of the past fourteen. They’re second all-time in #1 picks and first-round picks, and top to bottom, they have more elite talent and depth than any other conference.

The Big 10 and ACC were a toss-up for second place. People love to mock the ACC, but they’re the only non-SEC conference to win national championships since 2005. They may not be loaded with talent top to bottom every year, but they’ve boasted some of the best teams of this past decade, and throw in Miami’s dynasty in the late 20th, early 21st century, and the ACC isn’t the laughingstock people make them out to be. However, the Big 10 does edge them out – they have 296 first round draft picks, which ranks first, eight #1 overall picks, and 22 national championships, marks that rank third and second respectively. Their biggest knock is a lack of recent national success – Ohio State has won two titles this century, but that’s it for the Big 10.

Bringing up the rear is the Pac-12 and Big 12 with championship droughts of 16 and 15 years respectively. The Pac-12 has featured some elite talent with 14 #1 draft picks, but they rank last in total first-round picks and national championships. USC’s mini-dynasty from 2003-2005 helps the Pac-12 avoid the basement, an honor belonging to the Big 12. The Big 12 only have two championships since 1985 – every other conference has at least three titles since 1997. Oklahoma has really been the only team doing anything on the national level since Vince Young and the Longhorns in 2005, which lands them in the basement.

Overall, regarding these three major sports, the SEC has to be considered the most complete conference, with the ACC coming in a close second. Both came in with a trio of top-3 finishes and a #1 ranking. Overall, I’d rank the SEC #1 and the ACC 2. After that, I’d say the Pac-12 takes #3, fueled by their dominance on the diamond, and the Big 10 clocks in at #4. The Big 12 was the clear choice for last place, as they took last place in two of the three sports, with their fourth-place finish in baseball saving them from a sweep of the cellar.

BIG 10 Basketball: Forwards/Centers To Watch

The 2019-2020 college basketball season may have abruptly ended prior to March Madness, but it’s not too early to take a look at next season – we will be looking at a few of the top players in college basketball entering next season. Today, we’re checking out the top three returning forwards and centers in the Big 10. Incoming freshman recruits were not included in these rankings – these only cover players who have already played a collegiate season (or at least, most of one season). 

#3. Trayce Jackson-Davis, Indiana

Jackson-Davis may have soared under the radar on a mediocre Indiana team next year, but even if he can’t single-handedly lift the Hoosiers back to glory, the rising sophomore forward looks ready for big things next season. Jackson-Davis’s stats were relatively modest in his freshman campaign  – 13.5 points and 8.5 rebounds per game – but he shot 57% from the field and put up some massive games in high-profile contests. After putting up solid numbers in a breezy start to Indiana’s non-conference slate, Jackson-Davis raised some eyebrows with a 15 point, 8 rebound performance against #17 Florida State. 25 points and 15 rebounds in an overtime victory over Nebraska, a double-double against #21 Iowa, and a 27-point, 16-rebound effort at Minnesota highlighted a few of his top performances in conference play. The Big 10 was one of the most wide-open conferences, so the Hoosiers have a chance to shoot back up into the mix for the top seeds, and expect Jackson-Davis to be leading the charge. 

#2. Trevion Williams, Purdue

After averaging 5.2 points per game in his freshman year, Williams upped his numbers to 11.5 points and 7.6 rebounds per contest. A 52% shooter, Williams has a clear weakness at the free throw line, but his game off the charity stripe has been on an upwards trajectory since he arrived at Purdue, and I feel like he’s ready to explode in his junior year. He showed hints at such an explosion in Big 10 play this past season, recording double-doubles in games against #13 Penn State, at Wisconsin, and versus Michigan. His true monster performance came in a brutal double-overtime loss at Michigan, where, in front of a hostile crowd in Ann Arbor, Williams posted 36 points and a whopping 20 rebounds. He’s showcased high ceiling and potential to this point, and that looks like it’s getting ready to come together, which is great news for the Purdue Boilermakers. 

#1. Luka Garza, Iowa

No chance it was going to be anyone else. This is, of course, assuming Garza comes back to the Hawkeyes for another season, which it seems likely he will do. He is currently not projected as a selection in most mock drafts, but the Iowa star was an absolute beast this past year, one of the consensus top-2 players in the country. Averaging a touch under 24 points and 10 rebounds per game, Garza scored 20+ points in his final sixteen contests of the year. Picking out his top games is to pick diamonds from piles of jewels. He put up 44 points on Michigan when they were ranked #4, 38 points against Indiana, and 34 points and 12 rebounds against a ranked Penn State squad. No contest here, Garza is the best returning player in the country, and clearly in the Big 10.

ACC Basketball: 3 Returning Forwards/Centers To Watch

The ACC has long been considered the best basketball conference in America, but with a lot of there top players in the paint graduating or moving on to the NBA, they’ll be looking for some new players to step up and star in the upcoming season. Thankfully, there’s some intriguing talent within the conference, so here are three returning players to watch this upcoming season.

#3. D.J Funderburk, NC State

A major contributor for the Wolfpack for two seasons, Funderburk looks primed for a big season with an ACC team on the rise in NC State. While he didn’t post massive numbers, Funderburk was quietly efficient, saving his best for the Wolfpack’s biggest wins. He dropped 21 points on Duke in their 22-point blowout of the Blue Devils and a double-double in a critical victory over Clemson. A 61% shooter from the field, Funderburk will look to help NC State challenge some of the traditional powers in the ACC in 2020-21.

#2. Malik Williams, Louisville

Williams is a highly intriguing player heading into next year, as he has not been a go-to player in Louisville’s offense during his three years with the Cardinals, playing under twenty minutes per game every season, averaging just 8.5 points and 6.1 rebounds per game. However, the Cardinals are losing primary scoring option Jordan Nwora, and Williams may have a chance to get some more minutes on the court and impact a few big games for Louisville. Despite limited opportunities, Williams posted two double-doubles in ACC play, against Pittsburgh (13 points, 11 rebounds) and Syracuse (14 points, 13 boards). He played a combined 43 minutes in those two games, so it’s exciting to consider Williams’ potential when given more than a part-time playing role in Louisville’s lineup.

#1. Juwan Durham, Notre Dame

I’m really high on Durham, both because of what he flashed in minimal playing time with the Irish, but also because of how critical the man in the paint is for Notre Dame’s offense. The Irish graduate one of the best big men in the country in John Mooney, and they’ll be looking for the 6’11 Durham to fill that massive hole in the offense. Durham didn’t have many opportunities to put up numbers last year, averaging just 7.8 points per game, but with Dane Goodwin, Prentiss Hubb, and Nate Laszewski chucking up threes at ungodly clips, expect Durham to get plenty of wear and tear in the paint, bringing down rebounds and putting in second-chance points. The Irish climbed from the cellar of the ACC back to a seventh seed in the cancelled ACC Tournament, so if the Irish hope to continue their conference climb, they’ll need Durham to be a key factor in that rise.

We Simulated 5 CFB Seasons – With Clemson in the SEC

Last week we ran one of our most popular articles we’ve ever published on this site, simulating Clemson’s 2019 season with LSU’s schedule. One of the main responses we got to the simulation was that Clemson would be very good in the SEC, but the difficulty in becoming and staying the standard is extremely difficult, much more so than in the ACC. That much is evidently very true; beyond Alabama’s three-peat from 2014-2016, no SEC team has repeated as conference champion since Tennessee in ‘97-98. Clemson’s current five-year reign atop the ACC has not been matched by a SEC program since Alabama won eight of nine titles in the 1970s, including five straight from 1971-1975. So the question has to be asked: how would Clemson do in an extended stay in the SEC? As pointed out by certain readers, it’s impossible to completely mimic this situation, as it’s hard to tell if Clemson gets the same recruits, or even builds to their current powerhouse status if they had been playing in the SEC all along, but we are doing our best to simulate how Clemson would fare, if they played their past five seasons in the SEC. 

Now to do this, we decided to replace one SEC team with Clemson, so we utilized a process to decide on which team to choose. To fully mimic the SEC experience, we wanted Clemson to replace a truly middle-of-the road team. Replacing Alabama would take away from the brutally difficult SEC experience, but choosing Arkansas or Vanderbilt unfairly takes away the cupcake conference games that every SEC team gets each year. So we came up with three qualifications for selection our team:
1. No Division Titles in the past five years
2. No last-place finishes in the division in the last five years
3. Did not play Clemson in the last five years

This brought us down to two teams – Mississippi State and Kentucky. We chose Kentucky, simply because Kentucky is in the SEC East, which is where Clemson would likely reside if they actually played in the SEC. Also, the SEC West has a clear top three in Auburn, LSU, and ‘Bama, so adding Clemson to the East gives the conference some more balance. Other than Clemson replacing Kentucky’s games, all other SEC results from each season will hold in order to see where Clemson supposedly would have finished. Alright, enough setup and talk – let’s run the simulation and see how Clemson fares. 

Vs. Louisiana  W 43-24    
@ South Carolina   W 28-21 
Vs. Florida       W 24-10                      
Vs. Missouri    W 27-9   
Vs. Eastern Kentucky W (FCS)
Vs. Auburn       L 24-21              
@ Mississippi State L 40-34
Vs. Tennessee  W 33-24
@ Georgia W 23-17
@ Vanderbilt W 30-10
Vs. Charlotte  W 47-3
Vs. Louisville   W 27-21

SEC Championship
Vs. Alabama L 37-17

Overall, not a bad first year in the SEC for Clemson, as they put up a 10-2 regular season, before getting dismantled by the Crimson Tide in the SEC Championship. Beating Florida in Death Valley cements the Tigers’ spot as SEC East champions, but back to back losses to Auburn and Mississippi State kill any CFP hopes. This season probably is good enough for a NY6 bowl game. Solid start, but Clemson has bigger goals moving forward. 

If you’re curious…
We simulated the 2015 CFP with the new field. A 2-loss Clemson team wasn’t a contender, so we bumped all other teams up a notch, bringing Iowa into the field as the #4 seed. We simulated the games the same ways (3 simulations per contest). Stunningly, the Hawkeyes ground and pound style was enough to squeak past the Crimson Tide monster, winning 27-24. Meanwhile, Michigan State didn’t have better luck with a new opponent, losing 40-21. In a bizarre Oklahoma-Iowa title game, Baker Mayfield got his national title, toppling the Hawkeyes 31-20.

Vs. Southern Mississippi W 23-21
@ Florida   W 24-20
Vs. New Mexico State W 41-24
Vs. South Carolina W 37-27
@ Alabama L 41-21
Vs. Vanderbilt  W 33-24
Vs. Mississippi State W 33-23
@ Missouri L 37-20
Vs. Georgia W 37-14
@ Tennessee W 31-24
Vs. Austin Peay W (FCS)
@ Louisville W 34-24 

SEC Championship
Vs. Alabama L 28-20

Clemson won the national championship in 2016, but the SEC grind derails their season in this simulation. A 4-0 start is undone by a trip to Tuscalossa, and Clemson overlooks Missouri, ruining their Playoff hopes. A 10-2 (6-2) record is enough for another SEC Championship appearance, and although they give Alabama more of a game, the Tigers still fall short. It’s another 10-3 season in the SEC East for Clemson, and we’re on to Year 3. 

If you’re curious
With no Clemson in the playoff, it opened the door for our first ever two-loss team in the Playoff, as Penn State earned a match-up with Bama, and Ohio State takes on Washington in the other semifinal. Both games were close, but Alabama and Ohio State emerged victorious into a clash of traditional powerhouses. Alabama had no issues with the Buckeyes, as with no Deshaun Watson in the way, the Tide rolled, 33-17.

@ Southern Miss W 40-20
Vs.  Eastern Kentucky W (FCS)
@ South Carolina W 31-14
Vs. Florida W 34-17
Vs. Eastern Michigan W 35-14
Vs. Missouri W 28-27
@ Mississippi State W 17-12
Vs. Tennessee W 33-14
Vs. Ole Miss W 28-23
@ Vanderbilt W 31-9
@ Georgia L 30-7
Vs. Louisville W 27-17 

A near perfect campaign from Clemson was derailed at the last minute by a trip to Sanford Stadium, where they were tripped up by the Georgia Bulldogs. The loss was a crushing one, as their 7-1 conference mark tied with Georgia, and Kirby Smart’s squad advanced to the SEC Championship on head-to-head tiebreaker. With Georgia and Alabama already in, there’s no chance the CFP committee puts three SEC teams in, so they’d probably go ahead and put the 2-loss Ohio State Buckeyes in the CFP instead. As far as SEC slates go, this was a pretty light one for Clemson, but we’re into the Trevor Lawrence era, with two more chances for the Tigers to make a run. 

If you’re curious…

The biggest benefactor of Clemson’s presence in the SEC may have been Baker Mayfield and the Sooners. Oklahoma became the top seed in the 2017 CFP, squeaking past Ohio State 37-35. Georgia held of an Alabama comeback in the semifinals, but the Sooners edged the Bulldogs for the title.

Vs. Central Michigan W 59-0
@ Florida W 30-24
Vs. Murray State W (FCS)
Vs. Mississippi State W 33-21
Vs. South Carolina W 42-20
@ Texas A&M W 34-31 OT 
Vs. Vanderbilt W 61-13
@ Missouri W 37-23
Vs. Georgia W 43-20
@ Tennessee W 52-21
Vs. Middle Tennessee W 56-10
@ Louisville W 44-20
SEC Championship
Vs. Alabama W 35-31 

That 2018 team may really be one of the best ever. The SEC didn’t stop them in any way. Texas A&M pushed Clemson to overtime, but Georgia couldn’t hold a candle to the Tigers’ dominance, and Clemson capped it off with their first SEC title in Year 4 of our 5-year simulation. It’s time to head to the College Football Playoff. A 1-loss SEC champion is still in it, so we’ve made Alabama the 3 seed in this CFP, as Clemson jumps to #1. Unbeaten Notre Dame slots in at #2, and Oklahoma, per usual, rounds out the field at #4.
College Football Playoff

Clemson vs. Oklahoma L 42-41
And Clemson’s 2018 championship comes to a screeching halt! In my opinion, this goes to prove the genius of Nick Saban. He gameplanned just enough in 2018 to keep Kyler Murray at bay for a quarter and build a huge lead. Dabo couldn’t do that here, and the Heisman winner did what he did all year: put up points. That Oklahoma team was a lot better than people think, and Clemson just couldn’t quite keep up the steam after their undefeated SEC campaign. 

If you’re curious…

I went ahead and simulated the rest of the CFP…same rules – 3 simulations for each game to determine the result. Alabama defeated Notre Dame 38-28, setting up a Tua-Kyler rematch in the national championship. The simulation was an absolute classic, with two of the three games going to multiple overtimes, with each team scoring over 40 points in every game. Ultimately Tua picks up another natty, taking down the Sooners 59-56 (OT).

Vs. Toledo W 49-10
Vs. Eastern Michigan W 49-13
Vs. Florida W 40-31
@ Mississippi State W 42-20
@ South Carolina W 37-27
Vs. Arkansas W 55-14
@ Georgia L 30-27
Vs. Missouri W 38-24
Vs. Tennessee W 41-17
@ Vanderbilt W 56-13
Vs. UT Martin W (FCS)
Vs. Louisville W 52-6 

Another great season for Clemson, but a heartbreaker at Sanford Stadium ends their campaign for another berth in the SEC Championship. However, the story isn’t ending there. Remember, LSU and Ohio State still finished the year undefeated, and Oklahoma was a 1-loss Big 12 champion, but there was nobody else with zero or one losses. So Clemson sneaks into the back door, and we are back in the CFP. LSU stays at #1, Ohio State and Oklahoma climb to 2 and 3, and Clemson checks in at #4. Trevor Lawrence vs. Joe Burrow once more – virtual edition. 

The College Football Playoff
LSU vs. Clemson L 33-28

It was closer this time around. Far more battle-tested than in their actual season, Clemson was more prepared for Burrow and the LSU offense, but the Tigers still emerged victorious, and Clemson head home. 

If you’re curious
Nobody stopped LSU.
Ohio State handled Oklahoma 35-24, setting up the Ohio State vs. LSU national title contest most everyone wanted to see. LSU had no issues with the Buckeyes either, manhandling the undefeated Big 10 champions 41-17 in a game that was never close. So there’s that question answered as well – nobody could beat Burrow and the Tigahs. 


SEC Record: 34-6
Regular Season Record: 54-6
SEC Championship Record: 1-2
CFP Record: 0-2

In reality, Clemson has gone 58-2 in the past five regular seasons in the ACC, going 5-0 in ACC Championship games and 6-3 in the CFP. Undoubtedly, five years in the SEC would have made it far tougher to attain this standing, and in this simulation, the Tigers are unable to bring home a national championship. There’s something to be said for reaching the CFP after the grind of an SEC season – even Clemson’s 2018 team didn’t have enough to reach the finish line. In the end, it can be concluded (to whatever degree you want to trust this simulation) that Clemson is undoubtedly an elite program – their 34-6 mark in SEC games over the past five seasons would have been second behind Alabama (36-4) in those years, making it clear that Clemson belongs near the top of the rankings every season. No they might not cruise like they do in the ACC, but stop spinning the “Clemson is a mediocre team in a bad conference” crap. It’s an overused mantra preached by the SEC that’s old and incorrect.

Also, let’s say thank you that this never happened. Can you imagine the absolutely ridiculous number of Baker Mayfield endorsements we’d have to see if he was a two-time national champion as well? Makes me shiver just thinking about it.

What simulation should we do next? Let us know your thoughts on this one at collegetalking@gmail.com