College Kids Talking College Sports Week 4 Power Rankings

The SEC jumped back into action this week, two top-6 teams fell, and overall, the college football world was a chaotic, beautiful, mess this past weekend. As usual, after the weekend’s slate of games, our team got together and voted on our official Top 10 (plus a few honorable mention) power rankings.

Honorable Mention

  • UCF
  • Penn State
  • Oklahoma State

#10 – Cincinnati Bearcats (Last Week: NR)

The Bearcats did not get off to a great start, as a mishandled pitch led to a defensive touchdown for Army on the game’s first drive. However, Cincy controlled the game after that, limiting a potent Black Knights’ rushing attack, while grinding out 24 points against a very tough defense. Army entered the game having given up 7 points in two games and ranked #22 in the country, so this was a pretty sweet win for Cincinnati, who are looking to secure a NY6 Bowl Game, and, maybe in some chaotic universe, a longshot CFP bid.

#9Texas Longhorns (Last Week: 10)

The Longhorns didn’t look particularly impressive, but they still rise a spot due to the losses of Oklahoma and LSU. Texas trailed by 15 to Texas Tech with under four minutes remaining, but a touchdown, onside kick recovery, second touchdown and a two-point conversion sent the Longhorns to overtime, where they ended the Red Raiders’ upset dreams. It wasn’t reassuring, but in a wild conference that already saw Kansas State upset the Sooners, any win is critical. Texas also may have an inside track to the CFP if they can defeat Oklahoma in the regular season and eliminate their archrivals from Big 12 title contention.

#8 – Miami Hurricanes (Last Week: NR)

The Hurricanes are gaining more and more believers every week. D’Eriq King has looked elite under center in Miami, and Cam’Ron Harris adds great rushing production. They’ve been dynamic on offense, and their defense is opportunistic and completely shut down an anemic FSU offense this past weekend. The Hurricanes rolled 52-10 and have now outscored opponts 130-58 over three games. A date with Clemson looms in two weeks.

#7 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (Last Week: 7)

The idle Irish gain no ground this week, as they’re still another ten days away from their next game, a home clash with Florida State. A COVID outbreak has halted football activities for the time being, but the Irish hope to begin practice again in a day or two, with an eye towards recaturing the momentum from their 52-0 stomping of USF.

#6 – Georgia Bulldogs (Last Week: 4)

The unofficial, but kind of official, policy is that if you are losing to Arkansas at halftime, you will drop in the rankings. Although Georgia figured it out for a comfortable 37-10 win, that ugly 7-5 scoreline at the end of the second quarter isn’t easy to forget. The defense looked very good, but the offense was out of sync and uncomfortable for a long period of time. The return of USC transfer J.T. Daniels will hopefully help, but we’ll find out really soon, when the ‘Dawgs take on Auburn this weekend.

#5 – Auburn Tigers (Last Week: 6)

Auburn needed a while to pull away from the #23 Kentucky Wildcats, but ultimately, they did so en route to a 29-13 victory. They only led 8-7 at halftime, but that was pretty impressive given that they held the ball for barely over 8 minutes of game time in the first two quarters. Bo Nix and receiver Seth Williams helped liven up the offense in the second half, striking for three touchdowns to help seal the game away. Their offense faces a very stiff defensive challenge in their road trip to Athens to take on Georgia this weekend.

#4 – Florida Gators (Last Week: 8)

The Gators are our biggest riser of the week. They also take advantage of the multiple top-10 upsets this week, and their thrilling offensive performance was very impressive on Saturday. The defense left much to be desired, but a 51-point effort from the Gators on offense, along with 6 touchdowns from quarterback Kyle Trask, stole the show. While Georgia struggled to put away the Razorbacks, it looked like Florida may have established themselves as the team to beat in the East.

#3 – Ohio State Buckeyes (Last Week: 5)

There was some hesitation on where to rank the Buckeyes, as we kept them a little lower last week. But with the recent upsets, and the Big 10’s official inclusion on the AP Poll, it feels right to slot Ohio State in as the third best team. They’re going to be dangerous in 2020.

#2 – Alabama Crimson Tide (Last Week: 2)

No major alarm bells were sounding in Alabama’s clean 38-19 win over Missouri. Najee Harris ran for three touchdowns, while Mac Jones posted a QBR of over 95, the highest mark in the SEC for the week. Missouri outscored the Alabama bench by 10 points in the final frame to make the score seem a little closer, but this one was never in doubt. Combined with LSU’s loss and Texas A&M’s shaky performance against Vanderbilt, Alabama established themselves as the clear SEC West favorite early in the season.

#1 – Clemson Tigers (Last Week: 1)

Clemson was off after a 2-0 start, but they don’t slip from their perch atop the rankings. They’ve been very impressive early on against inferior competition, and they’ll look to tune up against Virginia before an October 10th showdown with the Miami Hurricanes.

College Kids Talking COllege Sports Official Preseason Power Rankings

It’s that time of year. Miami toppled UAB 31-14 Thursday night, bringing the first power-5 team into action in the 2020 college football season. And with most of the rest of the ACC getting into the action tomorrow, we’ve gotten together to vote on our first set of power rankings. Here’s the top 10 (and a few extra).

Honorable Mention

  • Iowa State
  • Memphis
  • UNC

The Rankings

#10 – Oklahoma State Cowboys

The Cowboys are an intriguing CFP pick due to competing in a watered-down Big 12. They are considered to be in a 3-team race to challenge Okahoma for the Big 12 title with Texas and Iowa State. Oklahoma State hosts both those teams, so picking up a couple wins is certainly a possibility. They also return 19 starters and one of the best running backs in the nation in Chuba Hubbard. This team could put forth a very good campaign.

#9 – Texas Longhorns

A couple of Big 12 teams kick off our power rankings, as Sam Ehlinger and the Longhorns slot in at #9. Say what you want about Ehlinger, but he had a pretty solid statistical year last season and was often let down by other parts of the Texas team, including a porous defense. That defense is expected to be improved in 2020, and Ehlinger returns with a chip on his shoulder and eyeing the Big 12 title. They’re an obvious CFP darkhorse and could make headlines this fall.

#8 – LSU Tigers

The placement of the LSU Tigers was a source of controversy in our individual sets of rankings as high as #6 and as low as #9. To be quite frank, this is a huge year for LSU. They saw the beautiful results of an epic combination of generational talent last year, going 15-0 in a historically dominant season. This year, they lost their top two wide receivers, their quarterback, their running back, and both high end talent and depth up and down the roster. The draft and opt-outs have murdered the LSU roster, and if Ed Orgeron can keep this team in SEC title contention, he should receive Coach of the Year.

#7 – Auburn Tigers

Ranking the Tigers was another controversial part of our rankings, as some of our voters are very high on what Bo Nix can do in his sophomore season, listing Auburn as the preseason SEC favorites, while others excluded the Tigers from the Top 10. Auburn is ranked 11th in the preseason AP Poll, and they haven’t been ranked that high and at least matched their preseason ranking since 1994. Bo Nix is a good quarterback, but a sophomore slump could doom the Tigers’ hopes in 2020.

#6 – Florida Gators

A third consecutive SEC team in our Top 10, but this one comes from the SEC East. Florida is given the third-best odds to win the conference this year, as they likely just have Georgia standing in their way of a title game appearance. They have to navigate a tricky crossover schedule, hosting LSU and travelling to Texas A&M and a potential dangerous underdog in Ole Miss, but Florida returns a solid squad. Their defense should remain solid, and if they get production from playmakers around Kyle Trask, the top returning SEC quarterback in passing efficiency, the Gators could be tough to take down.

#5 – Georgia Bulldogs

Georgia would have very likely challenged from a top-3 ranking, but the recent opt-out of Jamie Newman definitely hurts their chances. J.T. Daniels is not a bad consolation prize but it’s been a while since we’ve seen him in action, and whether he can work with a Georgia offense that lost their top two running backs remains to be seen. Georgia sticks around in the top 5 due to the fact that their defense will likely be the best in the country, or at least one of the top units. They had the best defense in the SEC last season and return about 80% of their production, so expect an absolutely lethal defense in Athens.

#4 – Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Notre Dame likely benefited from Georgia’s slip. They’ve been listed anywhere from 5-8 by most preseason rankings, but the Fighting Irish are definitely eyeing a CFP berth in 2020. With third-year starter Ian Book returning under center, an offensive line that returns all their starters, and an intriguing yet somewhat unproven group of skill position players, Notre Dame figures to have a strong offense to complement their traditionally solid defense. Their ACC schedule is filled with potential trap games and a looming showdown against Clemson, but this may be the best Notre Dame team in the Brian Kelly era if they play to their potential.

#3 – Oklahoma Sooners

Yes, Oklahoma has struggled to win on the big stage. But exactly who should go above them? They’ve got Spencer Rattler, who looks like a transcendent talent under center, and they have never had an issue reloading their dynamic offense. Their defense is at least good by Big 12 standards, and it took some big jumps last season. While they got smacked by LSU in the semifinals, it’s hard to attribute that defensive meltdown strictly to the Sooners without giving credit to LSU’s historic offense. This team is the clear favorite to reach the CFP once more, where they will finally try to land a playoff victory.

#2- Alabama Crimson Tide (1 first place vote)

Alabama got one first place vote, with all of our voters placing the Tide in the top 3. Nick Saban has gotten every single one of his recruits since 2008 a national championship ring, but that streak is in danger if he fails to claim a title for a third straight season. Coming off their first-ever CFP miss, the Tide are out for blood, and they’ve got the roster to win it all. Mac Jones is a solid quarterback, Najee Harris may be the best running back in the country, their receivers are deep and talented, and their defense figures to be stellar once more. They’ll have to survive a road trip to Death Valley and host Georgia, but if they can beat those tests, the Tide should be back in the Playoff.

#1 – Clemson Tigers (3 first place votes)

Even with the loss of Justyn Ross, this team remains the most loaded roster returning to college football, at least when it comes to proven talent. Travis Etienne is an absolute stud and likely a first round draft pick next year. Trevor Lawrence is possibly the #1 pick overall and has lost just one game at the collegiate level. Their defense reloads year-in and year-out, and Clemson enters this year with really only one game to think about – their road trip to South Bend in November. Not only that, but they should have two chances to beat the Irish, as even a regular season loss shouldn’t take Clemson out of ACC championship contention, and thus CFP consideration. Clemson vs. Alabama for the title for the fourth time in six years anyone? We’re not saying it’ll happen.

But we’re not saying it won’t either.

SEC Hot Takes: 1 Bold Prediction For Each Team

As many colleges across the country attempt to resume in-person classes – with varying degrees of success so far – at least 6 conferences are continuing their plans to start up the 2020 college football season, with the ACC slated to start kicking off the action on September 12. The SEC and Big 12, the other Power-5 conferences still intending to play, plan to start their schedules two weeks later. So as the clock ticks down – hopefully to the first day of games, let’s take a look at bold predictions for each SEC team, with one for a player and one team-based pick.

Alabama Crimson Tide: Finish 10-0, Najee Harris finishes in Heisman top-10, wins OPOY

I think Alabama enters the 2020 season as the favorite to take home the SEC title. Undoubtedly their toughest test comes with a trip to Death Valley and the defending national champions, but I’m not ready to say that one crazy dominant season makes LSU a favorite over a team that owned them for the entire decade. I think Alabama also takes care of business at home against a Georgia team that needs to prove their offense can support a defense that is sure to be dominant. 10-0 and another SEC championship and CFP appearance for the Tide.

Individually, Najee Harris enters this season as undoubtedly one of the best running backs in the country. I’m only putting him in the top 10 because running backs don’t get a lot of Heisman love, and Clemson running back Travis Etienne will likely steal votes from harris.

Arkansas Razorbacks: Win a conference game, Rakeem Boyd leads the SEC in rushing yards

The Razorbacks got royally screwed over by the additions to their conference schedule, and while they certainly didn’t add any wins by adding a couple of top-10 teams to their schedule, I still think Arkansas finally picks up a conference victory this season. In a normal season, I probably wouldn’t make that call, but heavily reduced or nonexistant crowds will make homefield advantages much less noticeable, so I like Arkansas’s chances at winning a crossover game versus Missouri in their penultimate game.

Boyd returns as the focall point of the Arkansas offense and the third-best returning rusher in the conference. Whether he can outpace Kylin Hill of Mississippi State and Harris of Alabama remains to be seen, but I like Boyd to rack up more touches simply due to the fact that his team has the worst passing attack of those three squads.

Auburn Tigers: Finish .500, KJ Britt has 7+ Sacks

I’m not high on Auburn this year at all. Trip to Alabama and Georgia just smell like big losses to me, while hosting LSU won’t be a picnic. I’m a little higher on Texas A&M than normal, and I like Ole Miss as my darkhorse team in the SEC, so toss in a pair of upset losses, and Auburn’s general inconsistency, and I don’t see the Tigers as a contender in the SEC.

Britt is the key piece of the Auburn defense, and he notched 3.5 sacks while playing in the shadow of 7th-overall pick Derrick Brown last season. I like Britt to double his total despite the shortened schedule. He’ll be a force to watch on the defensive line.

Florida Gators: Lose 3 of first 4 games, Kyle Trask leads the SEC in passing \

I really thought the SEC East might see a new champion at first, but upon further analysis, I’m just not confident the Gators are ready to compete. I also think they start their schedule in brutal fashion. A game I originally listed as a trap game – at Ole Miss – was bumped up to their season opener, and they also travel to Texas A&M and host LSU in the back to back weeks. It’s a gauntlet to start the year, as I think the Rebels surprise the Gators, and the Aggies take advantage of Trask and Co. looking ahead to their duel with the defending champs, who will also take care of business. Florida will go 5-1 after that start, but it won’t be nearly enough for an appearance in the SEC Championship.

I think due to the fact that Florida is trying to take the next step, and that they lost their top running back, Kyle Trask will be asked to do a lot more for this offense in 2020. With the aforementioned brutal schedule, I anticipate Trask to be throwing the ball a lot in come-from-behind situations, and I think he racks up significant yardage. He’s the top returning SEC quarterback in passing efficiency, so I definitely high on Trask, if not the Gators as a whole unit.

Georgia Bulldogs: 9-1 SEC East champions, Lecounte has 5 INT

Georgia continues their run of success in the SEC East post Jake Fromm, recovering from the departure of their quarterback and top two running backs to go 9-1. A road loss to Alabama will mark their only loss in the regular season, but their CFP hopes will be dashed by a second loss to the Tide in the SEC title game clash. The Bulldogs will ride their defense, which was one of the best units in the country last season and returns about 80% of their production.

Leading that defense will be Lecounte. I’m not ready to say he will be DPOY, but I think he improves on last year’s total of 4 interceptions, picking off five passes in 2020. He’s an absolute force in the secondary, and should be terrorizing opposing quarterbacks this season.

Kentucky Wildcats: Under .500 record, Jamar Watson leads the SEC in sacks

Kentucky may have a pretty great defense entering 2020, but I’m simply not sold on their offense, and I think their schedule is far too tough to merit prediction more than 3 or 4 wins this year. Road trips to Auburn, Alabama, and Florida will prove brutally difficult, while hosting Georgia. Those games alone make me think Kentucky’s ceiling is 6-4, but I’m also calling losses at Tennessee and vs. Ole Miss to drop them below .500 for the year.

Jamar Watson was tied for sixth in the SEC in sacks with 6.5 – I think he pushes for double digits in 2020 and leads the SEC. Statistically, it’s unlikely, but I think Watson is an absolute beast on a defense that will need to carry Kentucky if the Wildcats have any hope this coming season.

LSU Tigers: Start off 6-0, Derek Stingley wins DPOY

LSU faces as much of a cakewalk of a schedule as you can get in the SEC West, with their crossover games coming against Vanderbilt, Missouri, South Carolina, and Florida. Outside of the Gators, that’s a pitiful collection of opponents, and I truly think LSU is the 2nd-best team in the SEC entering this season. They will start 6-0 with big wins at Florida and Auburn, before dropping their clash with Alabama. Ultimately, I’m seeing a 9-1 record for the Tigers and a potential case for a CFP berth at the end of the season.

Stingely is a freakishly goo dathlete, and there’s talk of him playing two ways in 2021. That could be accelerated to this year, if LSU runs into depth issues caused by quarantines, leading them to utilize one of their stars on both sides of the ball. However, even if he’s just used defensively, I think Stingley is one of the best players in the SEC, and he led the conference with 6 picks last season. I think he’s a major asset for a very good LSU defense and earns him DPOY honors.

Mississippi State Bulldogs: Winless on the road, CJ Morgan collects 3 interceptions

Mississippi State’s brutal road slate includes games at LSU, Alabama, and Georgia, which should be three automatic losses for the Bulldogs. I don’t think they have the offense to take down Kentucky on the road, and I think the end the year with an Egg Bowl loss to Ole Miss. It’ll be a tough path to ganering many victories in 2020, but home games versus Arkansas, Missouri, and Vanderbilt offer hope that wins are there for the taking.

I think CJ Morgan takes a step up this season for the Bulldogs, after he broke up eight passes and picked off one in 2019. Look for him to continue to grow as a main contributor for the Mississippi State defense, snaring at least three picks in 2020.

Missouri Tigers: No Wins by more than 7 points, Tyler Badie has 700+ receiving yards

Missouri has a schedule with pleny of opportunities to pick up victories, but I’m not confident if they have the ability to capitalize. I don’t think this team is dynamically strong enough to run away from any team in the conference.

Tyler Badie looks likely to emerge as Missouri’s #1 receiver in a corps that is full of question marks. Look for Badie to emerge as a leader of the offense, becoming a go-to guy on third downs for the Tigers.

Ole Miss Rebels: Winning Record, Plumlee posts a 2000/1000 stat line

Ole Miss is my favorite darkhorse pick in 2020, and I think they have a ceiling of 7 wins, so I’m going to pick them to come close that, either matching it or going 6-4 for a winning record in SEC play. They’ll take care of business against the teams they need to, and then I like the dynamic John Rhys Plumlee to lead this Ole Miss offense to victory in one or two upsets this season.

Speaking of Plumlee, I think he’s the best dual-threat quarterback in the conference, although he needs to improve his efforts in the passing game. I think Plumlee carries the Ole Miss offense and puts up huge numbers, particularly on the ground, en route to 2000 passing yards and 1000 rushing yards in 2020.

South Carolina Gamecocks: Start off 3-1, Mon Denson rushes for 800 yards

I think South Carolina is a .500 team in 2020, and they’ll make most of their progress towards those five wins in the early portion of their schedule. They’ll lose to Florida in Week 2, but take down Tennessee and Vanderbilt, before topping Auburn at home in what may essentially be their “Super Bowl” game. The Gameocks woun’t challenge for the SEC East title, likely finishing third or fourth in the division, but they’ll have at least a strong start to the season.

Mon Denson ran for just 232 yards last season, but his impressive average of over 5 yards per carry, combined with the potential for an increased workload in 2020, make him a prime breakout candidate. He’ll give South Carolina arun game that can be at least respected, giving quarterback Ryan Hilinksi more of a chance on play action passes.

Tennessee Volunteers: No losing streaks longer than 2 games, Guarantano posts 3:1 TD to INT ratio

I think Tennessee’s time may be coming, but the boys in Knoxville are not quite back yet. The Vols look like a 4-5 win team in 2020, but I think they’ll at least stay consistent and avoid skids that could completely tank their season. Look for Tennessee to go 2-3 both before and after their bye week en route to a mediocre season all the way around.

Jarrett Guarantano doesn’t scream elite when it comes to SEC quarterbacks, but I like his numbers to at least take a small jump in 2020. He put up 16 TDs and 8 INT last year, so let’s account for the shortened season and say 15 touchdowns, 5 interceptions this season for the Tennessee signal-caller.

Texas A&M Aggies: 8-2 record, Kellen Mond throws 20 TD

Unfortunately for the Aggies, in a loaded SEC West, this prediction will only land them a third place finish in the division, but I think Texas A&M finally deserves some of the preseason hype they get. The Aggies were notably ranked #5 in Phil Steele’s preseason rankings, and while I’m not sure I’d have put Texas A&M that high with every conference in play, I think Steele was onto something. A&M will struggle to put away LSU or Alabama, but they should certainly able to win their other eight games.

Kellen Mond threw for 20 TD, and I think he improves his numbers this season, which esentially means he should cut down on the 9 interceptions from last season and throw another twenty touchdowns in a shortened season.

Vanderbilt Commodores: Winless, Andre Mintze has 5 sacks

I just don’t see Vanderbilt winning a game. I’ve looked at the schedule frontways, backwards, upside down, and inside out, and I don’t see a win there for the Commdoores. They’re going 0-10 this season, as their fans go into hibernation until baseball season.

Defense should be the better side of the ball for Vanderiblt in 2020, and I like Andre Mintze to record five sacks, cracking the Top 10 in the SEC in that statistic.

CFB Greatest Of All Time Championship: 2001 Miami vs. 2012 Alabama

At long last, after 8 rounds of double-elimination bracket play, we’ve arrived at our championship in the Greatest of All Time College Football Simulation, pitting 2001 Miami vs. 2012 Alabama in a best-of-three series.

How We Got Here
2001 Miami emerged victorious from Bracket B, and there’s little complaints in that area. They trailed just once en route to the bracket championship and then engineered a game-winning drive on the strength of their backup quarterback in the Bracket B final. They roll into the championship series with an unblemished 5-0 record.

There was anger, shock, accusations of rigging, and everything else with the results of Bracket A. 7th-seeded 2012 Alabama stunned the field with an undefeated run. They went 5-0 in impressive fashion, toppling the 2019 LSU Tigers and 2018 Clemson Tigers twice. The Crimson Tide’s fearsome backfield trio of Kenny Drake, Eddie Lacy, and T.J. Yeldon has terrorized opponents throughout the tournament, and they’ll hope they can challenge Miami’s stout defense in the championship. 

Game 1 

Alabama 28 Miami 9

Wow. A stunner. The Miami team that has barely trailed all tournament long never even sniffed the lead in this one. That Alabama backfield was up to its usual tricks, with Lacy compiling 109 yards on 21 carries with a touchdown, and Yeldon tearing apart the ‘01 Miami defense to the tune of 117 yards on 15 touches. He notched his lone touchdown on a third-quarter 61-yard scamper, which gave the Tide a commanding 21-6 lead with 3:20 to play in the period. The Hurricanes notched just three field goals, racking up just 57 rushing yards on the game. Absolutely dominant effort from the Tide here in Game 1. Can they secure a sweep in Game 2?

Talk about lethal backfield duos – Lacy and Yeldon were also complemented by Kenny Drake

Game 2

Alabama 23 Miami 17

A miracle Cinderella run finds its happy ending, as the clock never quite strikes midnight on this 2012 Crimson Tide squad, which finishes the tournament 7-0. This one was a much tighter affair than the previous game, as the Crimson Tide clung to a 16-10 lead entering the final frame. However, Miami took the lead for the first time in the series on the strength of an 89-yard punt return touchdown with 10:47 to go. However, with plenty of time on the clock, Alabama was able to stick to their ground game. Lacy (87 yards) and Yeldon (106 yards) chewed up yards, while A.J. McCarron hooked up with Amari Cooper for 23 yards on a clutch third-down conversion. Ultimately, Lacy ran it in from 6 yards out with 6:19 to play. 

Miami still had a chance to claim victory, down six with plenty of game to be played, and they crawled down the field, struggling for every yard. Brock Berlin, who saved the Hurricanes in the Bracket B championship, assisted in a trick play, tossing a 22-yard completion to Ken Dorsey, who also found Daryl Jones for 25 yards on the drive. Beyond those chunk plays, Clinton Portis did the grunt work, grinding out 24 yards on 7 carries. The clock trickled down under 2 minutes as Miami reached the Alabama 11. However, Portis ran for just two yards, and Dorsey completed a 4-yard pass. After Dorsey scrambled for a yard on third down, the Hurricanes faced 4th and 3 at the 4-yard line. Needing a touchdown to win, Dorsey dropped back and lofted a pass towards the back corner of the end zone. Vinnie Sunseri of Alabama out jumped Ethenic Sands, snaring the pick and clinching the championship for Alabama.

Thomas and Lapoint Preview the SEC: Power Rankings, Predictions, Coach of the Year

Even with the delayed start to the season, college football is – hopefully – creeping closer. To start our preview of the 2020 season, we’re taking a look at the SEC. Lead writer Aidan Thomas and SEC analyst Nathaniel Lapoint previewed the conference. You can find our power rankings and predictions below. Check out our Top Offensive Players and Teams and Top Defensive Players and Teams in the SEC as well. 

Power Rankings

Aidan ThomasNathaniel Lapoint
AlabamaAlabama
LSUGeorgia
Texas A&MAuburn
GeorgiaLSU
FloridaKentucky
AuburnFlorida
Ole MissTexas A&M
South CarolinaMississippi State
TennesseeOle Miss
Mississippi StateTennessee
ArkansasSouth Carolina
KentuckyArkansas
MissouriMissouri
VanderbiltVanderbilt

Where We Agree

Alabama is the team to beat. Ranked at the top of both sets of our power rankings, we believe the Crimson Tide will be out for blood in 2020. We also slotted Missouri and Vanderbilt, in that order, in the bottom of our rankings, with neither of us seeing much potential for the Tigers or Commodores this coming season. 

Where We Disagree

While we have a lot of agreement regarding the middle portion of the SEC power rankings, two major teams cause some differences – Kentucky and Texas A&M. In my season preview of the Wildcats, I was pretty low on Kentucky, and I may be underestimating the effect of Terry Wilson’s return and how much their defense can compensate for a lackluster offense. I remain low on Kentucky here, slotting the Wildcats 12th overall and 5th in the SEC East. On the flip side, Lapoint has Kentucky in his top 5, ranked as the 2nd best team in the SEC East over Florida, who’s considered a Playoff darkhorse entering 2020. This glaring 7-spot difference in our placement of Kentucky was easily the biggest difference in our rankings. 

Meanwhile, the placement of the Aggies was also a cause for disagreement. I remain high on the Aggies, putting Texas A&M third in my SEC power rankings, while Lapoint has the Aggies sliding to 7th. I don’t think A&M pulls out a conference championship, but I believe that Mond does some big things in his senior year, and Texas A&M wins a couple of big games for once. Lapoint is fully off the Aggies’ hype wagon, however, squaring them away directly in the middle of his power rankings. Who has the more accurate power rankings may come down to the performance of these two teams. 

SEC Championship Predictions

Thomas: Alabama over Georgia

Lapoint: Alabama over Georgia

We are in complete agreement on our championship pick. Alabama has not gone back-to-back years without a division title since 2010-2011…and they won the national championship in 2011 anyways. With Mac Jones – or possibly 5-star recruit Bryce Young – under center, as well as Najee Harris in the backfield and Jaylen Waddle and Devontae Smith leading the receiver corps, it seems like a no-brainer to pick the Crimson Tide in the West. In the East, Georgia will remain the favorite. We disagree on the 2nd best team (Florida vs. Kentucky), and that alone shows that there may not be a clear favorite to disrupt Kirby Smart’s run atop the division. Two games are yet to be announced to the SEC schedule, which could factor into this decision, but as of now, give us Georgia in the title game, where they lose to Bama once more. 

Coach of the Year Predictions

Thomas: Nick Saban, Alabama
Lapoint: Mark Stoops, Kentucky

Stoops is most definitely a popular pick for Coach of the Year, and Lapoint rides his Kentucky train into the award predictions. If Stoops does indeed have this Kentucky team contending for the SEC East title, then he should be a no-brainer for the award. Stoops also won the award in 2018.

I went with a pick that may be mainstream and boring in Nick Saban. Saban has not won the Coach of the Year award since 2016, but I believe if he guides Alabama to the title this year, he should be heavily considered. Winning the gauntlet that is the SEC West is always impressive, and doing so with a 10-game schedule will be even more impressive. Saban is also faced with a QB battle to navigate, as well as a defense that lost their top three leaders in interceptions and their top two pass rushers. If he can reload that defense on the fly against a division of lethal offenses, then Saban should absolutely earn this award.

Thomas and Lapoint Preview The SEC: Top Offensive, OPOY Predictions

It used to be defenses win championships…but after LSU went through and torched everyone last year with their world-beating offense, can we say that with any degree of confidence? As college football evolves towards the spread offense, leading to higher-scoring games, impact offensive players can make a huge difference. Who are the best offensive teams and players gracing the SEC with their presence in 2020? Let’s take a look at what lead writer Aidan Thomas and SEC analyst Nathaniel Lapoint think on the subject. Check out our Power Rankings and Season Predictions, as well as our Top Defenses preview pieces.

Top Team Offenses

Aidan Thomas

  1. Alabama
  2. Texas A&M
  3. Florida

Nathaniel Lapoint

  1. Alabama
  2. Georgia
  3. LSU

We agree on Alabama being the top offense in 2020. That should be almost a no-brainer. They have possibly the best running back in the country, two elite returning receivers leading a deep depth chart at the position, and a QB battle that will see either a strong returning senior QB or 5-star freshman win the job. Maintaining unity through that QB battle may be the biggest problem this offense faces.
After Alabama, we differ significantly in our predictions. I remain high on the Aggies and what Kellen Mond and Co. will bring to the table. I also think Kyle Trask is the best quarterback in the conference entering the 2020 season. He was extremely impressive when jumping into the role in the middle of last season, and with an offseason to prepare, I think he will lead Florida’s offense to big things in 2020. Meanwhile, Lapoint goes with Georgia and LSU to round out his top-three. They are high-risk, high-reward selections, no doubt about that. Georgia must reload at running back and navigate a QB battle between two transfers and then help one of those transfers adjust quickly to their system. However, there’s no doubting the talent in both Jamie Newman and J.T. Daniels, so if the transition goes well, and Georgia gets production out of the backfield, they could absolutely be a lethal offense in 2020.
Lapoint also puts trust in Myles Brennan and the LSU Tigers. The argument this offseason is whether LSU was a one-hit wonder that benefited from Joe Burrow, or whether Joe Burrow’s legendary season was a cherry-on-top of a revitalized offense. I’m high on LSU and think they’ll be near the top of the SEC, but Lapoint is confident enough in Brennan taking the reins to slot the Tigers into the third spot of his top offenses. Smoking hot take coming in here from Nathaniel Lapoint. 

Top Offensive Players

Offensive Player of the Year

Thomas: Najee Harris, RB, Alabama

Lapoint: Mac Jones, QB, Alabama

Aidan ThomasNathaniel Lapoint
Najee Harris, RB, AlabamaMac Jones, QB, Alabama
Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSUJa’Marr Chase, WR, LSU
Kyle Trask, QB, FloridaNajee Harris, RB, Alabama
Kellen Mond, QB, Texas A&MBo Nix, QB, Auburn
John Rhys Plumlee, QB, Ole MissKylin Hill, RB, Mississippi State 

Najee Harris and Ja’Marr Chase were consensus top-three SEC offensive players in our rankings here. Harris was my pick for Offensive Player of the Year, while Lapoint stayed with the Tide, but gave the nod to Mac Jones, sliding Harris to #3. My uncertainty regarding the QB battle in Tuscaloosa prevented me from including Jones in my top 5, but there’s no doubting the talent of the signal-caller. Chase is likely the best receiver in the country and maybe a top-10 player in the country. A darkhorse Heisman contender, Chase comes in at #2 in both sets of rankings. Kyle Trask, who I’m very high on entering the 2020 season, slotted in at #3 in my rankings. 

Bo Nix and Kellen Mond both make appearances on the list, with Nix just missing my list, while Plumlee, the intriguing dual-threat QB from Ole Miss, and Kylin Hill, who should challenge Harris as the top running back in the SEC round out our respective lists. 

Greatest Of All Time CFB Tournament: Round 4

Three rounds in, and we have four undefeated teams left. Both 2012 and 2009 Alabama will test their unbeaten marks against 2019 LSU and 2001 Miami respectively, both of whom have held serve as their top seed. 2001 Miami is yet to trail in any game so far. On the loser’s bracket side, both entrants from Oregon, Clemson, and Florida State have survived thus far, and Miami and LSU’s second teams also remain. 2008 Oklahoma, 2008 Florida, 2017 UCF (!), and 2014 Ohio State round out the 12 teams currently fighting for survival. Let’s see what round 4 brought. 

Round 4 Schedule

Bracket A Winner’s Bracket

1. 2019 LSU vs. 7. 2012 Alabama
Alabama 37 LSU 31 
For the fourth straight game, LSU fell behind at halftime, trailing 20-17 after 30 minutes, but for the first time, the Tigers could not quite rally. Facing one of the most lethal backfields of all time, LSU surrendered 130 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns to Eddie Lacy, and Joe Burrow only found the end zone once. 2019 LSU has finally met their match and fall into the loser’s bracket – can they rally back?

Loser’s Bracket

 2. 2018 Clemson vs. 4. 1999 Florida State
Clemson 30 Florida State 27
Trailing 27-17 entering the fourth quarter, Clemson turned off their defensive efforts, and the offense rallied the Tigers to victory, as Lawrence threw for 274 yards and a game-tying touchdown with 2:48 remaining on the clock. They would get the ball back – tied 27-27 – with just 72 seconds to work with at their own 12-yard line, but Etienne (141 yards, 1 TD) took a short pass 49 yards to set B.T. Potter up for an eventual game-winning 41-yard field goal with 13 seconds left on the clock. Clemson survives once more.

8. 2008 Oklahoma vs. 11. 2010 Oregon
Oklahoma 34 Oregon 31
Oklahoma got off to a slow start, but their defense tightened up, giving their lethal offense some time to engineer a comeback. Sam Bradford tossed three touchdowns and no picks on a 23-30, 386 yard performance, as the Sooners took the lead at the end of the third quarter and never relinquished it. 

BYE: 13. 2000 Miami, 6. 2008 Florida

Bracket B Winner’s Bracket

1. 2001 Miami vs. 3. 2009 Alabama
Miami 24 Alabama 13
Miami was losing! And then they weren’t. After Mark Ingram ran in a touchdown at the end of the first half, the Hurricanes trailed 10-7, but that was as good as it got for Alabama. Miami seized control in the third quarter, as Clinton Portis ran for 143 yards and two touchdowns on 30 carries, toppling the Crimson Tide 24-13 en route to securing a spot in the Bracket B championship, where they’ll have to be defeated twice by the same team. 

Loser’s Bracket

4. 2013 Florida State vs. 16. 2017 UCF
Florida State 35 UCF 23
Jameis Winston threw for 300 yards and a pair of scores, while Devontae Freeman grinded out 74 yards and a score on the grounds. After engineering a shocking upset of 2005 Texas, UCF could not sustain the momentum, as the Seminoles led wire-to-wire in a clean 35-23 victory.

9. 2014 Ohio State vs. 11. 2016 Clemson
Ohio State 29 Clemson 28
What a game! After falling behind 20-7 at halftime, Ohio State stuck to their guns and got 185 rushing yards from Ezekiel Elliot, and 103 more from J.T. Barrett. The Buckeyes took a 21-20 lead, but Clemson scored with 2:08 remaining and notched the two-point conversion to take a 28-21 lead. However, Elliot broke off a 58 yard run to set up the Buckeyes for a touchdown. Rather than go for overtime, Ohio State went for 2, and Barrett handed it off to Curtis Samuel on a reverse for the 29-28 win. What a finish, and 2016 Clemson bows out of the tournament. 

BYE: 12. 2014 Oregon, 7. 2003 LSU

Round 5 Schedule

Bracket A Loser’s Bracket
Bye: 2019 LSU
6. 2008 Florida vs. 2. 2018 Clemson
13. 2000 Miami vs. 9. 2008 Oklahoma

Bracket B Loser’s Bracket
Bye:
2009 Alabama
7. 2003 LSU vs. 4. Florida State
12. 2014 Oregon vs. 9. 2014 Ohio State

CFB Greatest Of All Time Tournament – Round 3: Clemson Faces Two Elimination Games

After a thrilling and surprising Round 2, we’re back with Round 3 of our college football Greatest of All Time bracket. Here’s where we are at regarding our original bracket. Each 16-team bracket is double-elimination with the winner on each side clashing in the championship. The eliminated teams are marked with the red strike-through, while unbeaten teams are highlighted in green.

12019 LSU2001 Miami
22018 Clemson2005 Texas
32004 USC2009 Alabama
41999 Florida State2013 Florida State
52010 Auburn2004 Auburn
62008 Florida2005 USC
72012 Alabama2003 LSU
82010 TCU2009 Florida 
92008 Oklahoma2014 Ohio State
102009 Texas2000 Oklahoma
112010 Oregon2016 Clemson
121997 Michigan2014 Oregon
132000 Miami1998 Tennessee
141999 Virginia Tech1997 Nebraska
151998 Ohio State1996 Arizona State
162009 Boise State2017 UCF

Round 3

Bracket A Winner’s Bracket

1. 2019 LSU vs. 13. 2000 Miami
LSU 45 Miami 41
In their third straight one-possession game, 2019 LSU once again got a lethal offensive performance to bail out a struggling defense. Joe Burrow threw for 361 yards and 3 touchdowns, and Clyde Edwards-Hillaire pounded the Miami defense for 167 yards and two touchdowns, as the Tigers improved to 3-0 with a 45-41 victory.

6. 2008 Florida vs. 7. 2012 Alabama
Alabama 28 Florida 27
After Kenny Drake starred in game 1, and Eddie Lacy put on a show in Game 2, it was TJ Yeldon’s time to shine in 2012 Alabama’s third game. The third back of the Tide’s 3-headed monster piled up 116 yards and two touchdowns, while AJ McCarron tossed his lone TD of the game with 4:23 left in the game to edge Alabama past 2008 Florida.

Bracket A Loser’s Bracket

2. 2018 Clemson vs. 16. 2009 Boise State
Clemson 44 Boise State 14
They don’t make backs like Travis Etienne in the Mountain West Conference. Clemson’s star back roared his way to 179 yards on just 18 carries, finding the end zone three times, as the Tigers eliminated the Broncos in thoroughly convincing fashion, 44-14.

3. 2004 USC vs. 4. 1999 Florida State
Florida State 30 USC 28
A nailbiter start to finish, Florida State held their breath as USC’s 55-yard field goal as time expired hooked wide left. The ‘04 Trojans crashed to elimination in Round 3, as Travis Minor ran for 99 yards and a pair of touchdowns, and the Seminoles’ knocked through a game-winning field goal with 2:03 left in the game. 

5. 2010 Auburn vs. 11. 2010 Oregon
Oregon 31 Auburn 23
In a rematch of the 2010 BCS National Championship, LaMichael James made sure Oregon’s chance at revenge didn’t go to waste. James torched the Auburn defense for 185 yards and 3 touchdowns on a 33-carry workload, as Oregon rallied to take down Cam Newton and the 2010 Tigers.

8. 2008 Oklahoma vs. 15. 1998 Ohio State
Oklahoma 24 Ohio State 21  OT
The 1998 Ohio State defense helped the Buckeyes play above their seed, and they limited the lethal 2008 Oklahoma offense to 24 points in Round 3. Unfortunately for Ohio State, the 312-yard, 2-touchdown effort by Sam Bradford was just enough to lift the Sooners to a 24-21 victory in overtime, as Ohio State’s game-tying 45-yard effort faded wide right. 

Bracket B Winner’s Bracket

1. 2001 Miami vs. 12. 2014 Oregon
Miami 33 Oregon 24
Three games in, and the 2001 Miami machine has yet to trail in a game. Oregon stayed within striking distance, trailing 23-17 entering the fourth quarter, but Clinton Portis roared for 126 yards, including a 27-yard game-sealing touchdown with 4:06 remaining in the game, while Ken Dorsey threw for 375 yards and two scores.

3. 2009 Alabama vs. 7. 2003 LSU
Alabama 37 LSU 10
– This one was absolutely no contest from the get-go. After engineering an upset over 2005 Texas, ‘03 LSU had very little in the tank, giving up 136 rushing yards and two touchdowns to Mark Ingram, as 2009 Alabama rolled, 37-10.

Bracket B Loser’s Bracket

2. 2005 Texas vs. 16. 2017 UCF
UCF 44 Texas 34
– Can someone spell shocker?!?! In a thrilling game, UCF rallied from a 10-point halftime deficit to slow down Vince Young and stun the ‘05 Longhorns 44-34. Adrian Killins ran for 103 yards and a touchdown,  McKenzie Milton threw for 270 yards and a pair of scores, and Knights outscored the Longhorns 37-17 in a shootout of a second half. 

6. 2005 USC vs. 4. 2013 Florida State
Florida State 38 USC 35
In a battle of two quarterbacks who barely ever lost in college, Jameis Winston and his 27-1 collegiate record held strong, as he threw for 280 yards and 4 touchdowns in Florida State’s 38-35 victory over 2005 USC. The Trojans got a 104 yards and two TDs from Reggie Bush, but it wasn’t enough to pull the mini-upset in round 3.

13. 1998 Tennessee vs. 11. 2016 Clemson
Clemson 28 Tennessee 23
13th-seeded Tennessee couldn’t quite pick up a second victory in bracket play, as 2016 Clemson (11th seed) turned a 20-14 deficit into a 28-23 victory in Round 3 to stay alive. Deshaun Watson completed 20 of 27 passes for 286 yards and four touchdowns, two to Mike Williams (93 receiving yards).

9. 2014 Ohio State vs. 10. 2000 Oklahoma
Ohio State 27 Oklahoma 17
Ezekiel Elliot ran for 119 yards, Vonn Bell picked off Josh Heupel twice, and Ohio State led wire-to-wire in a clean 27-17 victory. The ‘14 Buckeyes, known for their red-hot tear to win the national championship six years ago, stay alive into Round 4. 

Round 4 Schedule

Bracket A Winner’s Bracket

1. 2019 LSU vs. 7. 2012 Alabama

Loser’s Bracket

 2. 2018 Clemson vs. 4. 1999 Florida State
8. 2008 Oklahoma vs. 11. 2010 Oregon

BYE: 13. 2000 Miami, 6. 2008 Florida

Bracket B Winner’s Bracket

1. 2001 Miami vs. 3. 2009 Alabama

Loser’s Bracket

4. 2013 Florida State vs. 16. 2017 UCF
9. 2014 Ohio State vs. 11. 2016 Clemson

BYE: 12. 2014 Oregon, 7. 2003 LSU

Top Returning SEC Guards: #1 – John Petty Jr., Alabama

The coronavirus has kept things regarding college basketball up in the air, as many top players have gotten the opportunity to keep their names in the draft pool for longer, as the deadline to withdraw was extended into August. One such player in this pool is Alabama stat John Petty Jr. who, if he decides to return, would be, by our rankings, the top returning guard in the SEC. Teammate Kira Lewis is a projected mid-to-late first round pick right now and seems like an unlikely bet to return, while Petty, ranked the 53rd prospect by ESPN, seems at least a little more plausible. Given his chance to be the go-to-guy for the Tide next season, his draft stock could skyrocket into first-round value if he chooses to return. 

Last season, we were denied a SEC Tournament clash that would have pitted Tennessee, featuring our #2 guard Yves Pons, and Petty and his Bama teammates. Hopefully, both guards choose to return this season, giving up another chance at that star-studded match-up. Petty has been a regular for Alabama for three years now, but after two straight years averaging 10.2 points a contest, he bumped that up to 14.5 in his junior campaign, while also muscling down 6.6 rebounds and dishing out 2.5 assists a game. All three marks were top-three on the team, with his rebounding leading the squad. As a 6’5 guard playing in the highly physical SEC, that’s massively impressive in itself. 

However, although his rebounding gives the indication that Petty is a inside guard, he does much of his offensive damage with his lethal three-point shot, which he offered up with 44% accuracy last season. On the road, playing in some hostile SEC environments, Petty silenced crowds all season to the tune of 17.5 points per game on 49% long-range shooting. Petty featured that deadly shooting in an early season clash with UNC, undefeated and ranked #6 at the time. Despite the eventual loss in the Battle 4 Atlantis battle, Petty had the Tide within striking distance on 23 points obtained largely through his 7-10 effort from beyond the arc. In a following neutral site effort, Petty was electric, putting up 34 points and 12 rebounds in a monster performance against Iowa State, and with that, the underrated Alabama star was off and rolling. 

SEC play got underway, and Petty hardly slowed down. He notched four blocks to complement a 16-point, 7 rebound effort against Kentucky, a 23-point, 10-rebound against Vanderbilt, and a bevy of 20+ point efforts against Georgia (21), #11 Auburn (20), and Ole Miss (21). Shooting 51% from inside the arc and 44% from beyond it, Petty tortured opponents with deadly efficiency. If I’m the SEC – I’m hoping Petty stays in the draft because even if Alabama hasn’t been necessarily a threat in the SEC, the in-state Huntsville, Alabama product keeps the Tide in games they often have no business being in, presenting a massive threat to the traditional powers of the conference. For this reason, Petty is our #1 (potentially) returning guard in the SEC. 

3 Most Impressive Stats of the Saban Dynasty

For as long as I’ve been watching college football (The BC-Notre Dame Holy War in 2009), Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide have been dominating the world of college football. If we’re being technical, their dominance began a year earlier, in 2008, when the Tide’s run of 12 straight seasons attaining a #1 ranking began. So essentially, for as much of my life as I actually remember watching, Alabama has been the standard of college football (albeit Clemson is catching up in recent years). I’ve never been one to hate dynasties, and even if Bama manhandled my Irish in the 2013 BCS National Championship, I can respect the string of success Saban has enjoyed. So without further ado, here are three of the most impressive statistics from the Saban era. 

3. Always #1

I hinted at this statistic above but come on? 12 straight years, the Tide have been ranked #1 during the season. That’s absurd. In each of those twelve seasons, they’ve finished in the top 10, with eight of them falling in the top 5. Their consistency and constant presence within the top 10 is one of the most impressive feats of the Saban era. That level of dominance in the modern era is unprecedented – no team can match that. 

2. Big Game Saban

To be the best, you have to beat the best and that’s exactly what Saban has done. A lot. He’s 6-1 in SEC championships, 6-3 in the College Football Playoff, and 3-0 in BCS National Championship Games. Combined, that’s a 15-4 record in the biggest games of the season against the best teams. They’ve won some of those games in simply dominating fashion – beating LSU 21-0, Notre Dame 42-14, Missouri 42-13, and Florida 29-15, 54-16, and 32-13. They don’t just beat the best teams. They slaughter them.

1. 91-game winning streak vs. unranked teams

This stat and streak – until it was broken – will always seem absolutely ridiculous to me. This just doesn’t happen. The longest previous streak was 72, which was in itself extremely impressive. Clemson has lost to Syracuse and Pitt in the past few seasons. Ohio State lost to Purdue by 29 points and Iowa by 31. LSU lost to Troy. It’s part of the deal – crazy upsets happen. Unless you’re Nick Saban. Then they just don’t. Alabama’s last loss to an unranked team was to Louisiana-Monroe on November 17, 2007. All their SEC games against unranked teams? All the cupcake opponents? Trap games? No upsets. Absolutely absurd. You can basically mark at least 8 wins on the schedule at the beginning of the season with 100% confidence. You shouldn’t be able to that. But that’s the Nick Saban guarantee.