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.

Heisman Tracker: The SEC Makes Its Entrance

We are back with this week’s Heisman Tracker, and the SEC has jumped into the picture! For those new to our Heisman Tracker, this list is exclusively based on 2020 performances to date. No preseason hype factors in, meaning that Justin Fields won’t appear until at least after October 24, and the ACC has a slight advantage right now do their early start in conference play. Because of this, the SEC’s top players will need another week or two to challenge the top of our list, but that doesn’t mean the conference is unrepresented in this version of the tracker. Let’s get into it:

The Finalists 

  1. Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson,
    Lawrence remains atop the rankings after an idle week. Last week’s #2, Spencer Rattler, had a chance to overtake him, but a 3-interception performance and second-half collapse doomed both the Oklahoma Sooners, and potentially Rattler’s Heisman hype. Lawrence has been a very efficient 30-37 for 519 yards, 4 touchdowns, and no interceptions on the season. He’s also run for three scores as well, giving him as many all-purpose touchdowns as incompletions. 
  2. De’Eriq King, QB, Miami
    Miami finished last year ranked 90th in the country in points per game, notching barely over 25 a contest. This year, albeit only three games in, the Hurricanes are averaging over 43 points per game, ranking 12th in the country. They looked strong in a road victory against a ranked Louisville squad in their second game, and they followed it up with a 52-10 bludgeoning of Florida State. King has been a huge reason, as the Houston transfer is completing passes at a 66.7% rate, throwing for 733 yards and 6 touchdowns. On the ground, King has added 157 yards and a TD on 5.6 yards per carry. He’s got a clear path to being #1 on this list…beat Trevor Lawrence and the Clemson Tigers in two weeks. 
  3. Sam Ehlinger, QB, Texas
    Texas may have underwhelmed in their overtime victory against Texas Tech, but it sure wasn’t because of Ehlinger. The Longhorns’ signal-caller directed his offense to 63 points, including a miraculous 15-point comeback in the final four minutes. He’s tossed 10 touchdowns (plus a score on the ground) to just one interception, while completing passes at a 71% clip. He’s back up into finalist territory, and with Oklahoma’s loss, he and the Longhorns have a clear path towards a Big 12 championship and possible CFP berth. 
  4. Kyren Williams, RB, Notre Dame
    This is almost certainly Williams’ last week as a finalist. He’s been the best player on a top-5 team with multiple victories, which allows him to keep his spot. Averaging 8.4 yards per touch, Williams has been very impressive for the Irish, rushing for 174 and adding 103 receiving yards, notching a pair of touchdowns. That also comes with limited minutes in Notre Dame’s second game, a 52-0 blowout of USF that saw most of the first-string pulled a series or two into the second half. 

Heisman Hopefuls

  1. Kyle Trask, QB, Florida
    Trask immediately threw his hat into the Heisman ring on Saturday, throwing for six touchdowns and no interceptions in his season debut. A grain of salt has to be given, due to Ole Miss’s pretty abysmal defense, but Trask picked apart the Rebels’ secondary to the tune of 416 yards on 30-42 passing. Another strong performance against South Carolina this weekend could very well vault Trask another couple spots on this list. 
  2. Najee Harris, RB, Alabama
    Harris is one of the top RBs in the country, and he immediately made his presence felt, despite only accumulating 17 touches in Alabama’s blowout season-opening win against Missouri. Harris posted 106 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns, as the Crimson Tide won by 19, ahead of their home clash with #13 Texas A&M. 
  3. Richard Lecounte III, S, Georgia
    Let’s give out some love to defensive stalwarts on our list. Lecounte was the best player on the field for Georgia in a generally underwhelming season opener against Arkansas. The Bulldogs only put up five points in the first half, two of them coming via a defensive safety. Lecounte meanwhile, helped keep Georgia in the game, snaring a pair of interceptions, defending another pass, and recording another three tackles in a strong all-around performance. 
  4. Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson
    Etienne was surpassed by Harris, at least in the early going, but he remains on our top 10 list, as Clemson’s second player on the tracker. Clemson was off this past weekend, but Etienne is averaging 7.9 yards per touch, with 228 all-purpose yards and one touchdown through two games. 
  5. Dillon Gabriel, QB, UCF
    UCF is averaging 50 points per game, ranking fourth in the nation, and quarterback Dillon Gabriel has been front and center in their offensive onslaught. He’s tossed eight touchdowns in two games to just one pick, throwing for 825 yards on 59 of 88 passing. He’s unlikely to gain any real Heisman hype, particularly with no Power-5 games on the docket for UCF, but Gabriel has been dominant to start his campaign. 
  6. Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida
    Pitts solidified his status as the best tight end in the country with an outrageous 4-touchdown, 170-yard performance against Ole Miss, as he quickly became a favorite target for Trask to hit. Without Pitts’ presence, it may have been a lot tougher to pull away from the Rebels on Saturday. It’s tough for receivers or tight ends to get Heisman hype, as the quarterback usually receives twice the attention, but Pitts’ efforts this past weekend deserve the attention. 

Others Considered

  • Mac Jones, QB, Alabama
  • Cam’Ron Harris, RB, Miami
  • Joshua Moore, WR, Texas

Heisman Tracker: Miami, Clemson lead the way with 2 Top-10 players

We’re back with the second edition of the Heisman Tracker. It will be the final edition with no SEC players, as the best conference in college football kicks off their season next weekend. After another weekend of games concluded, highlighted by #17 Miami’s big win over #18 Louisville on Saturday night, let’s see who made moves on our Heisman tracker.

The Finalists

  1. Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson
    Lawrence remains at #1 after a solid showing against a completely overmatched Citadel squad this past weekend. The projected #1 pick has had to do very little this year, but he’s been brutally efficient when called upon, going 30-37 for 519 yards and 4 touchdowns, with no picks. He’s a top performer on the #1 team in the nation, so that makes him the current frontrunner, particularly with four of the top six teams in the AP Poll yet to have played a game.
  2. Spencer Rattler, QB, Oklahoma
    Rattler was inactive this past weekend, and his first power-5 opponent lies in wait this coming Saturday, against Kansas State, a team that tripped up the Sooners last season. A big performance there will cement his early-season spot in our Top 4.
  3. D’Eriq King, QB, Miami
    King wasn’t even on the radar last season, but big early-season performances can cause huge swings in our Heisman tracker, and King shoots up into the top three this week. King went 18-30 for three touchdowns in Miami’s 47-34 win over Louisville, bringing his season stats to 33-53 for 466 yards and four passing touchdowns, while tacking on 92 yards and a rushing score on the ground. He replaces the inactive Sam Ehlinger in our Top 4.
  4. Kyren Williams, RB, Notre Dame
    Williams put up another solid performance in limited minutes as Notre Dame’s lead back. The Irish didn’t ask too much of Williams in their 52-0 blowout of South Florida, but their sophomore star is up to 277 yards on 33 touches this year, adding his second touchdown of the year this past weekend.

The Heisman Hopefuls (#5-10)

5. Sam Ehlinger, QB, Texas
Season Stats: 25-33, 426 yards, 5 TD

6. Cam’Ron Harris, RB, Miami
Season Stats: 26 carries, 268 yards, 3 touchdowns

7. Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson
Season Stats: 25 carries, 170 yards, 1 touchdown
4 receptions, 58 yards

8. Brady White, QB, Memphis
Season Stats: 26-36, 295 yards, 4 TD, 1 INT

9. Elijah Mitchell, RB, Louisiana
Season Stats: 24 carries, 210 yards, 2 TD

10. Joshua Moore, WR, Texas
Season Stats: 6 catches, 127 yards, 1 TD

Others Considered

  • Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh
  • Grant Wells, QB, Marshall
  • Tyler Allegier, RB, BYU

Heisman Tracker: 3 QBs, 1 RB highlight initial Top 4

Each week of the college football season, we will track the ‘leaderboard’ for the Heisman trophy, which will display – in my eyes – the current front runner to win it all, finalist favorites, and a follow-up 6 players who are knocking on the door (semifinalists). For the first few weeks, this board will be a little wacky, as we will not be including players who haven’t played. For instance, although you may love the Kyle Trask Heisman hype, he is 0-0 for 0 yards on the season, and so he has not earned a spot on this leaderboard yet. Undoubtedly, there will be some surprising names in the early weeks, but as the season (hopefully) rolls on, our Heisman tracker should begin to narrow in on the group of favorites.

That being said, here’s the Heisman tracker after the ACC completed its first week of play.

The Finalists

  1. Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson
    This is fair enough. Clemson is ranked #1, and Lawrence threw for 351 yards and 3 touchdowns on an efficient 22/28 effort under center. He projected to be the #1 NFL Draft pick in the 2021 draft, and he’s an insant Heisman contender by being on a team with clear national championship potential.
  2. Spencer Rattler, QB, Oklahoma
    I’m not all-in on Rattler, personally, but his debut was about as good as you could want if you are an Oklahoma fan. Yes, the competition was not stiff, and there are far greater tests ahead. But Rattler looked poised and ready to compete at the collegiate level with 290 yards and four touchdowns while playing just one half of the Sooners’ opener.
  3. Sam Ehlinger, QB, Texas
    Again, I’m not going to go all-in and say “Texas is back” or buy the Ehlinger hype being shoved down my throat by pained yet overconfident Longhorn fans. However, Ehlinger was lights-out against an admittedly horrible UTEP squad in the Texas opener. The Heisman hopeful threw for 426 yards and 5 touchdowns on 25-33 passing.
  4. Kyren Williams, RB, Notre Dame
    As the top performer on one of four top-10 teams to be 1-0, Williams gets the nod as the only non-QB to crack our initial list of Finalists. Williams was all over the field for the Fighting Irish in a 27-1`3 win over Duke. He averaged 5.9 per rush behind a shoddy offensive line performance, notching 112 rushing yards and an additional 93 yards in the passing game. He had two touchdowns and was far and away the best performer for Notre Dame on Saturday.

The Heisman Hopefuls (#5-10)

5. Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson
Stats: 17 carries, 102 yards, 1 TD
3 receptions, 47 yards

6. Brady White, QB, Memphis
Stats: 26-36, 295 yards, 4 TD, 1 INT

7. Joshua Moore, WR, Texas
Stats: 6 catches, 127 yards, 1 TD

8. Cam’Ron Harris, RB, Miami
Stats: 17 carries, 134 yards, 2 TD
4 catches, 10 yards

9. Tyler Allegeier, RB, BYU
Stats: 14 carries, 132 yards, 2 TD

10. Marcus Williams, RB, Appalachian State
Stats: 14 carries, 117 yards, 1 TD

Others Considered

  • Javonte Williams, RB, UNC
  • Malik Cunningham, QB, Louisville
  • Myles Murphy, DE, Clemson

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.

Preseason 2020 ACC Power Rankings

  1. Clemson
    The Tigers are the consensus favorite in the ACC. With Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne returning, their offense is loaded. Their defense lost a lot of pieces, but Dabo Swinney’s program usually reloads, rather than rebuild. The arrival of Notre Dame in the ACC gives them a stiffer challenge in-conference, but Clemson is certainly the team to beat here. 
  2. Notre Dame
    Notre Dame should be shooting for a conference championship appearance in what is likely their only year  – for now – in the ACC. They are widely assumed to be Clemson’s top challenger. Ian Book enters this third year as starter and 2nd complete one. They’ll need to rebuild their wide receiver corps, but the freshman playmakers have looked good in practice early for the Irish. 
  3. Florida State
    I’ll give the Seminoles a little of respect here. I think they’re not necessarily a championship contender, but I think FSU will put forth a better team than many expect. Cohesiveness has seemingly been the issue as of late, as they continue to rake in impressive recruiting classes. Next to Clemson, they have the 2nd-best recruiting in the ACC (including Notre Dame) over the past five years. They’ve had on-field struggles recently, but their talent is too tantalizing not to bet on. 
  4. Miami
    Much of what was said for Florida State can be said for Miami as well. The Hurricanes have disappointed on the field, but they continue to rake in pretty elite recruiting classes. With transfer quarterback D’Eriq King under center, the Hurricanes might be able to inject some life into their offense and put together a solid season. Prior to the merging of the divisions and addition of Notre Dame, Miami was my pick to reach the ACC Championship as a token sacrifice to Clemson. 
  5. Virginia Tech
    In my opinion, there’s a pretty decent drop off in talent after the top four teams in these rankings. Virginia Tech is a solid program, but their recruiting just does not compare with that of the aforementioned teams. They return arguably the most production of a defense that was pretty good in 2019. The Hokies looked very good for a 7-game stretch last year, that saw them go 6-1 with a one-point road loss to Notre Dame. I think this is a 7-8 win team if they play to their full potential. 
  6. UNC
    Count me in as a UNC-doubter. This ranking has little to do with Sam Howell. I think he leads an absolutely lethal offense, one I would probably rank 2nd to Clemson in the conference. Their defense should be pretty good, although maybe not the strength of their roster. I don’t think they’ll be bad by any stretch, and if a few bounces go their way, I could see the Tar Heels being a darkhorse challenger for a berth in the ACC Championship. But ultimately, I’m not positive this is UNC’s year just yet…it feels too early. 
  7. Pittsburgh
    Placing the Panthers smack in the middle of the power rankings feels about right. They are always pretty good and rarely terrible, but Pitt will rarely wow you with starpower. That being said, they can generally be counted on to be a feisty underdog, which makes them an undesirable opponent. I see this Pitt as exactly that – a solid roster with a defense I would argue may be a top-3 unit in the conference, and an intriguing offense led by NFL Draft prospect Kenny Pickett. 5-6 wins sound about right for Pitt, but you can be sure nobody will be exactly thrilled at the prospect of matching up with the Panthers. 
  8. Louisville
    This may be a tad low for the Cardinals, but I’m just not seeing Louisville take another big step forward after greatly improving their 2-10 mark in 2018 to 8-5 and a Music City Bowl victory last season. I don’t think they’ll be bad necessarily, but I think the Cards peak at around 6 ACC wins this season. Malik Cunningam is a talented quarterback, but I have questions elsewhere on the roster. The Cardinals avoid Clemson and face Virginia, Syracuse, Boston College, and Wake Forest to end the season, but the first half of their schedule involves a road trip to Notre Dame and clashes with Miami and Florida State. It’ll be tough road, and I’m thinking it’s a 5 or 6-win season in ACC play for Louisville. 
  9. Syracuse
    Some ACC rankings have Cuse as the worst team in the conference, and I don’t see it. They’re a year removed from a 6-2 ACC record, and while that may have been a one-off, I don’t see last year’s 2-6 record as a new normal. They lost two games by one score and one of their wins was an absolute slaughter of Duke in Durham, 49-6. I think Syracuse at least comes close to .500 this year. They’ll need Tommy Devito to play better under center, but the Orange look average, but not horrifically bad on both sides of the ball, so I’m seeing 4 or 5 wins for Syracuse in 2020. 
  10. Duke
    This won’t be a season to remember from the Blue Devils. Last season, they started 4-2 but then dropped five straight conference games last season, winning their Senior Day game over a floundering Miami team. I think it’s another tough road for the Blue Devils, who start with a road trip to Notre Dame on September 12. They have possibly the worst offense in the conference, as they still haven’t found answers in the post-Daniel Jones era, so it’s hard seeing much more than 2 or 3 wins from Duke in 2020. 
  11. Georgia Tech
    Georgia Tech is a team that I think may be sneakily good in a few years. But not this season. The Yellow Jackets are still moving on from the triple option, and they don’t have the playmakers to compete with many of the spread offenses that are taking over college football. Much like Duke, Georgia Tech should be happy if they exceed three wins in 2020, particularly with clashes against Notre Dame, Clemson, Florida State and Miami – three of which come on the road. 
  12. Virginia
    The Cavaliers became the 7th different ACC Coastal Champion is as many seasons last year, finally toppling archrival Virginia Tech en route to a 9-3 regular season. They finished with a ACC title game loss and Orange Bowl loss, but it was still their most wins since 2007, and first appearance in a major bowl game since a 1998 loss in the Peach Bowl. This year, however, with do-it-all quarterback Bryce Perkins off to the NFL, there’s a lot of questions about Virginia’s offense, and I’m not sure their defense has enough pieces returning to make up for it. I could potentially see Virginia stealing 4 wins, but I don’t think they’re better than Tech or Duke –  they just have an easier schedule.  
  13. NC State
    With Wake Forest, Duke, Virginia, and Georgia Tech all on the schedule, it seems unlikely that NC State can’t scratch out a win in 2020 – even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while. But I don’t see the Wolfpack getting much more than that. After five straight winning seasons, NC State regressed to 4-8 last season, and I’m seeing another step back. They have a case for having the worst defense in the ACC, and their offense doesn’t raise any eyebrows. 1, maybe 2 wins for the Wolfpack in 2020. 
  14. Boston College
    I’m a believer in Jeff Hafley and that he can turn around the BC program. But not in Year 1. A team that has been mediocre at best returns a quarterback that had a 48% completion rate in 2019 in Dennis Grosel, and they lost A.J. Dillon to the draft in the 2nd round. Notre Dame transfer Phil Jurkovec may take the starting reigns under center, but I’m reserving judgement as he as only thrown 17 meaningless passes in his career. BC also were a huge loser of the ACC schedule expansion, as Wake Forest was taken off their schedule, taking away a potential victory for the Eagles. Maybe Jurkovec plays better than he ever did in trying to win the QB battle at Notre Dame, but I’m not seeing many Ws on this schedule for the Eagles.
  15. Wake Forest
    Losing Jamie Newman to the transfer portal is a brutal loss for Wake Forest. The Demon Deacons will struggle to replace their star dual-threat quarterback, and much like Boston College, they were disappointed to see their fellow cellar-dweller removed from the schedule. If I had to bet the house on 1 ACC team going winless, it would definitely be the Demon Deacons.

CFB Greatest OF All Time Bracket: 2019 LSU and 2018 Clemson Clash in Quarterfinals

It’s been one heck of a ride so far, but by the time our initial field of 32 college football teams boiled down to 6, we have ourselves some of the greatest squads to ever step onto the gridiron left. Starting it off is a modern-day classic featuring the last two national champions – 2019 LSU and 2018 Clemson – battling for the right to face 2012 Alabama in the Bracket A final. In Bracket B, 2013 Florida State has slogged their way through the loser’s bracket, winning two straight overtime clashes, to set up a battle with 2009 Alabama. The winner of that will face the daunting task of having to defeat 2001 Miami – who has only trailed for a total of 3 minutes and 22 seconds in four games so far. Twice. They have to defeat them twice. It’s a tough road ahead, but let’s see what happens in our final pre-championship round.

Bracket A Semifinals
1. 2019 LSU vs. 2. 2018 Clemson
Clemson 34 LSU 33
This one lived up to the hype. LSU took the early edge, 23-21 at halftime, but Clemson rallied in front by a 31-30 margin at the end of the third quarter. Joe Burrow hit Ja’Marr Chase for a 39-yard gain, and Clyde Edwards-Hillaire broke off a 15-yard run, as LSU snuck into the red zone near the halfway mark of the final quarter. However, Clemson’s defense stiffened, and Burrow’s 6-yard scramble on 3rd and 8 left the Tigers two yards short at the Clemson 8-yard line. Cade York drilled a 25-yard field goal, but with 4:49 to play, Clemson only trailed by two. 

Clemson’s drive looked destined to stall, but an 18-yard scramble from Lawrence extended the drive on 3rd down, and Etienne ripped off a 41-yard run to bring Clemson to the red zone with 1:53 to play. LSU had just one timeout, which was burned on an Etienne run, and Clemson worked the clock down under a minute before kicking a field goal to take the lead. Burrow was left with 47 seconds and no timeouts and couldn’t make any magic happen, getting to the Clemson 49 before heaving up a Hail Mary that fell to the ground. And with that Hail Mary ended the infallible 2019 season of LSU, who dropped two straight games after dancing dangerously through three one-score victories. 

Bracket A Championship

7. 2012 Alabama vs. 2. 2018 Clemson 
Alabama 23 Clemson 21 
Another great game, but 2012 Alabama stays undefeated. The 7th-seeded darkhorse Crimson Tide have rolled their way through bracket A and into the championship, behind the strength of their ferocious backfield, headlinged by Eddie Lacy, Kenny Drake, and T.J. Yeldon. Lacy did the damage in this one, leading the way with 92 rushing yards and a touchdown, while quarterback A.J. McCarron was his usually efficient himself, limiting mistakes and throwing for 174 yards and a score. Clemson got 105 rushing yards from Travis Etienne, but they rarely had the ball, holding possession for just 21 minutes and 35 seconds of game time. 

Bracket B Semifinals

3. 2009 Alabama vs. 4. 2013 Florida State
Alabama 37 Florida State 28
After crawling past two consecutive opponents in overtime, Florida State’s magic ran out. The Seminoles jumped out to a halftime lead, but they quite simply ran out of gas. In typical Nick Saban and Alabama fashion, the Crimson Tide controlled the contest with a ground-and-pound attack, racking up over 350 yards, led by 180 from Mark Ingram, who also found the end zone three times. Trent Richardson chipped in with 92 yards and a touchdown for the Tide, who trailed 28-27 entering the fourth quarter before completing their comeback. 

Bracket B Championship

1. 2001 Miami vs. 3. 2009 Alabama
Miami 24 Alabama 23 
This was an excruciating loss for the Crimson Tide. Not only because of their elimination, but because of how it went down. Miami trailed 23-17 with 2:17 to play, but Ken Dorsey connected with Ethenic Sands for 28 yards on the opening play of their drive, bringing them to the Alabama 47. However, Dorsey was hit hard on the play and was unable to return. The Hurricanes summoned backup quarterback Brock Berlin in, who proceeded to dice the Crimson Tide defense, going 5-5 for 31 yards. With 17 seconds to play and a timeout to burn, Berlin handed off to Clinton Portis from the 5-yard line, and the legendary Miami running back did the rest, breaking a tackle at the 2 and extending the ball over the line for a game-winning touchdown. The Hurricanes are 5-0 and into the championship round, where they will have to take down another Alabama team – the 2012 version – in a best-of-three series.

CFB Greatest Of All Time Tournament – Round 5 and 6: 2014 National Championship Rematch?

We’re into Round 5 and 6 of our Greatest of all time College Football simulation, and by the end of this article, we will be down to our final six teams. A few teams will play twice in this piece, as we narrow it down to the final three teams from each bracket. As a reminder of where we stand currently: 2012 Alabama (Bracket A) and 2001 Miami (Bracket B) are the only remaining undefeated teams and must be defeated twice in the bracket championship. 2019 LSU and 2009 Alabama fell victim to each of those teams respectively and have earned their spot in the final six participants. Four teams in each bracket are left to duke it out for the final two entries into the seventh round. In Bracket A, 2018 Clemson, 2008 Florida, 2008 Oklahoma, and 2000 Miami fight for survival. On the other side of things, 2013 Florida State, 2003 LSU, 2014 Ohio State, and 2014 Oregon will clash for that sixth and final spot. Let’s get into it. 

Bracket A Loser’s Bracket

6. 2008 Florida vs. 2. 2018 Clemson
Clemson 37 Florida 27
Trevor Lawrence and the Tigers are moving on, as Travis Etienne ran for 147 yards and a touchdown, while Lawrence tossed a pair of scores on 24-36 passing and 293 yards. Clemson opened up a touchdown lead at halftime and never trailed, as Tim Tebow and his 2008 Gators could not seal the deal against Dabo Swinney’s 15-0 championship team. 

13. 2000 Miami vs. 9. 2008 Oklahoma
Oklahoma 45 Miami 27
Miami’s hopes now lie in their unbeaten ‘01 squad, after the 2008 Sooners torched the Hurricanes through the air and on the ground, dominating start to finish in a 45-27 victory. Chris Brown ran for 104 yards on 21 carries while finding the end zone twice. Bradford threw for 336 yards and two touchdowns, as Oklahoma led by double digits by the end of the first quarter and never let Miami come within a touchdown. 

Bracket A Loser’s Bracket – Round 6

2018 Clemson vs. 2008 Oklahoma
Clemson 52 Oklahoma 31
This one was never close from the start. Trevor Lawrence threw two first half touchdowns to open up a 14-point halftime lead, while Travis Etienne racked up 186 yard and three touchdowns on just 20 carries, as 2018 Clemson cruised to a 52-31 victory, moving on to the final three in Bracket A and earning a much anticipated clash with 2019 LSU. 

Bracket B Loser’s Bracket – Round 5

7. 2003 LSU vs. 4. 2013 Florida State
Florida State 41 LSU 38 OT
In a game largely dominated by running backs, Florida State’s Jameis Winston came in clutch down the stretch, rescuing the Seminoles from a 7-point deficit entering the fourth quarter. Karlos Williams ran for 104 yards and two touchdowns to keep Florida State in it, and Winston threw for 325 yards – coming up with 132 in the fourth quarter and a pair of touchdown passes to force overtime. There, FSU got the ball second after an LSU field goal. Williams ran for eight yards, Winston scrambled for one, and on 3rd and short, Winston found Kelvin Benjamin for a 16-yard, game-winning touchdown to secure the victory in an instant classic.

12. 2014 Oregon vs. 9. Ohio State
Ohio State 54 Oregon 27
In a rematch of the 2014 national championship, Ohio State beat down Oregon once more, doubling up the ducks on the strength of an efficient performance from J.T. Barrett and a fearsome rushing attack. Ezekiel Elliot ran 25 times for 146 yards and 3 touchdowns, Barrett went 20 times for 103 yards and two touchdowns, while throwing for another 293 yards and a score. The Buckeyes only led 23-20 at halftime, but they absolutely dominated the Ducks in the final two quarters to seal the deal. 

Bracket B Loser’s Bracket – Round 6

4. 2013 Florida State vs. 9. 2014 Ohio State
Florida State 37 Ohio State 34 2OT
In a clash of the final BCS champion and the first ever CFP champion, the 2013 BCS-winning Florida State Seminoles won their second straight overtime battle over the Buckeyes. A blocked punt and pick-6 were major factors in FSU engineering another comeback. While Jameis Winston did throw for 261 yards and 3 touchdowns, it was Lamarcus Joyne’s interception return for a touchdown that tied the game at 28 points apiece with 5:54 to play in the game. After trading off field goals in overtime, Florida State got the ball down three, needing a touchdown to win. Winston scrambled right for 7 yards and then hit Devonta Freeman for a 9-yard gain and a first down. There, the redshirt freshman Heisman winner once again found Kelvin Benjamin open in the end zone, firing a 9-yard dart for a game-sealing touchdown. 

Round 7 and 8 Schedule

Bracket A
1. 2019 LSU vs. 2. 2018 Clemson

Winner vs. 7. 2012 Alabama

Bracket B
3. 2009 Alabama vs. 4. 2013 Florida State

Winner vs. 1. 2001 Miami

Effects Of Notre Dame And New Schedule On The ACC

It was a whirlwind ten minutes to be covering the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Waiting on a pending announcement regarding the commitment of the Irish’s top 2021 running back recruit Logan Diggs, news broke that Notre Dame would officially be competing in the ACC, becoming eligible for their first ever conference championship and the ACC’s bid in the Orange Bowl. It is strictly a one-year arrangement for now, as the ACC also dropped a revised schedule that follows a “10 +1” scheduling module involving ten conference clashes and one non-conference game played in an ACC home state. The schedule will be played over 13 weeks, allowing for two bye weeks, which may be arranged to abide by quarantine rules as much as possible. In the midst of that bombshell dropping, the awaited announcement from Diggs came, and the 3-star running back is headed to South Bend, making it a contender for the most exciting 10 minutes in the sports world in the past 5 months. 

But now that everything is official, let’s break it all down, and what it means for both the ACC and Notre Dame. 

Notre Dame to compete for ACC title, Orange Bowl bid

This is one of the biggest parts of the new addition to the existing partnership between Notre Dame and the ACC. Although just for one year, the Irish will have access to both a conference championship and the ACC’s guaranteed Orange Bowl bid, should they qualify. Quite frankly, Notre Dame becomes instant contenders for both. They’ll be given the 2nd best odds to win the ACC behind Clemson and gives the conference a 2nd viable Playoff contender. Given that they won’t be favorites to beat Clemson – and definitely not twice – it does seem likely that the Orange Bowl is a somewhat likely destination if Notre Dame holds serve against the rest of the ACC. In exchange for this, Notre Dame will share their NBC contract revenue with the rest of the conference. 

Season Format

The ACC will – as of now – shoot for a pretty ambitious 11-game schedule in 13 weeks, allotting two open weeks per team. The season is slated to start during the second week of September, and ten conference games will be played. The ACC is allowing one non-conference game, as long as it is played in the home state of the ACC school. This makes logical sense for the natural Clemson-South Carolina, Georgia Tech-Georgia, Louisville-Kentucky, and FSU-Florida rivalry weekend clashes, but it leaves some questions elsewhere. UNC and NC State and Duke will all have to find separate opponents to come to North Carolina, while Virginia and Virginia Tech face the same challenge. Notre Dame has a difficult situation, being so much further west than the rest of the conference, in that their array of opportunities for regional opponents is completely different. If the Big 10 remains strictly conference-only, the Irish are left with just Ball State as a non-conference match-up. Not ideal for strength of schedule, but a potential two games against Clemson should mitigate that concern. As of now, Notre Dame remains committed to their attempts to play Navy this season. It would at this point likely involve switching the venue to Notre Dame Stadium, as Annapolis isn’t an option under the new ACC guidelines. 

ACC Schedule

The ACC schedule looks different for everyone now, with the conference slate expanded by two games. The most notable change in set-up is that there will be no divisions –  no ACC Atlantic and ACC Coastal. Both were merged into one 14-team mosh pit of a conference, much like the 10-team Big 12. Ultimately, this set-up is a nice add-on in that it allows the two best teams to play for the title. Imagine the TV ratings for a Clemson vs. Notre Dame rematch in the ACC championship, rather than last year’s horrific Clemson-Virginia manslaughter. This may have been done to alleviate concerns about arbitrarily placing Notre Dame in one of the conferences. Putting them in the Coastal would have made them an instant favorite in the ACC’s inferior division, while slotting them into the Atlantic would have angered both Clemson and Notre Dame, as the clear two best teams would be competing for one spot in the championship. This avoids any disagreement regarding Notre Dame’s placement, and gives a struggling Power-5 conference the opportunity for their best championship game in years. 

How does this affect Notre Dame and Clemson

For the game schedule, the ACC released everyone’s opponents, although no dates attached to the game. Notre Dame added contests against UNC, Boston College, Syracuse, and Florida State. A notable omission was a clash with the Miami Hurricanes, who many wanted to see come to South Bend after Miami ended Notre Dame’s playoff hopes in beatdown fashion in 2017. There will be no resurrection of the Catholic vs. Convicts rivalry in 2020. Ultimately, Notre Dame’s schedule probably got a touch easier from their original slate. Florida State is a tricky game, as is UNC, but neither match the difficulty that USC or Wisconsin would have posed. Syracuse and BC are expected to be near the bottom of the conference so they add little to nothing to the resume. Ultimately, Notre Dame’s season should still come down to the Clemson game – or games – as, if the Irish play to their capability, they should beat everyone else on the schedule, especially with a tricky rivalry game and brutal road Big 10 clash out of the way. 

Meanwhile, conference favorite Clemson’s schedule – somewhat detabably – got harder, as they dropped a pretty bad NC State team from the schedule, as well as a Louisville team that is good but very unproven. In exchange, they added Pitt, Miami, and Virginia Tech to the docket, all of which have trap-game potential. Notre Dame’s addition to the conference likely gives Clemson some breathing room. Losing in South Bend may not end their season if they rebound with an ACC championship victory over the Irish, but their conference slate added a few more tricky contests to navigate, so things definitely got tougher for Clemson with these announcements. They’ll still be the favorites entering 2020, but in what’s sure to be a unique year, they’re far from a lock to cruise to a title.

Notre Dame Clash Presents A New Challenge For Clemson’s Dynasty

If the 2020 football season is played as scheduled, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish will host the Clemson Tigers at Notre Dame Stadium. It’s their first regular season meeting since 2015, and their first clash since the 2018 CFP. Going back to that 2015 game, many regard that Tigers-Irish battle as the starting point of the Clemson dynasty. Off to a 3-0 start, Clemson welcomed #6 Notre Dame to Death Valley. Dabo Swinney infamously called it a BYOG game – “Bring Your Own Guts”. (If you want to get fired up, watch the video below). Clemson denied Notre Dame’s late two-point conversion and won a 24-22 thriller. They dominated the rest of their schedule and eventually lost in the national championship to conclude a 14-1 season. After such a painful finish in Death Valley, and a pretty embarrassing loss in the Playoff, the Irish are chomping off the bit to get another shot at Dabo Swinney and Co. 

Early projections for that game give Clemson an 87% chance to win – their lowest chances of their regular season slate. However, amidst Notre Dame’s struggles against highly ranked opponents and Clemson’s recent dominance is hidden a fact that may be a little uneasy for Clemson fans to face. In all of their dominance since 2015, and their consistency for most of the past decade – Clemson has not won a true road game against a top 10 team since 2009. That’s not to take away from what Clemson has done or accomplished, but this is a task that Trevor Lawrence has never even had to size up – the last time Clemson even faced a top-10 team in the regular season was when they hosted #3 Louisville in 2016. That and the Notre Dame game are their only top-10 games since 2015. They lost in road games to  #1 FSU in 2014, #10 South Carolina in 2013, and  #4 FSU in 2012. Those games may have been before Clemson truly took off, but they went just 3-3 in regular season games against top-10 teams in this past year, and they were 0-3 on the road. Their last such victory on the road came at #8 Miami in 2009. They thrived in conference championships and the Playoff, but those true road games have been a rare and difficult task for Dabo’s Tigers. 

But Notre Dame chokes right? Can’t win big games? Well, to some extent, that has been true. Notre Dame went 3-7 against top-10 teams in the 2010s, with two of those wins coming in 2012. The kicker? The Irish have had essentially the reverse set-up as Clemson, playing 9 of those 10 games away from Notre Dame stadium. They won their lone home contest, went 2-4 on the road, and 0-3 on a neutral field. They haven’t hosted a top-5 team since 2005. Facing one of the team’s from USC’s dynasty of the early 21st century, Notre Dame almost defeated the top-ranked Trojans, losing on the infamous and controversial “Bush Push”. 15 years later, and the Irish may have another shot at the #1 team in the country – if Clemson maintains their preseason ranking. 

Notre Dame hasn’t lost at home since a one-point loss to Georgia in Week 2 of 2017. 87%? That’s a lot of confidence for a lot of things happening that haven’t happened in a long time? And with Clemson’s weak schedule, they’re not making the CFP with a loss in South Bend. I’m not saying an upset will happen. 

But I’m not saying it’s not going to happen either.