6 and 7 Game Seasons? Pac is Back? What Is Going On In College Football?

Barely over a month ago, the hopes for a college football season seemed dismal at best, and completely dead at worst. The Pac-12 and Big 10 had cancelled, as had the Mountain West and MAC, leaving just six of ten FBS conferences ready to play in the fall. Rumors were that the ACC were close to folding, but the resolve of Notre Dame to both play and join the ACC temporarily gave that desire new life to start playing. The FBS season kicked off on September 3rd, with Miami taking on UAB, and we’ve since seen three weekends of college football. There have been hiccups – Baylor has seen four different games called off due to coronavirus concerns, and certainly the season has not gone off without any problems, but the return of college football is real, and it’s feasible that everyone else will be back soon as well.

Yesterday, there we’re several announcements regarding the Pac-12 and Mountain West, which are intending to return to the fall football scene, albeit with shortened schedules. That followed up the Big 10’s announcement that they hope to resume play in late October, and overall, it’s been an absolute whirlwind in college football. Here’s a brief rundown of what’s going on:

The Pac-12 is back, playing a 7-game schedule

As of now, the plan is that the Pac-12 will return on November 6, and they’ll play a 7-game schedule that includes the conference championship. Teams play the five teams within their division, and one crossover game. On December 19, there will be a title game played, with the non-qualifiers playing an additional crossover game to round out their schedule. The full schedule will be released in a couple of days.

To this point, there is no indication of whether they are ineligible for the College Football Playoff, which could lead to some interesting debates if Oregon, or perhaps USC, goes 7-0, but they have to compare there resume with a mix of SEC, ACC, and Big 12 teams that have played 10 or 11 games. Simply being eligible will be key for the Pac-12, as that at least entitles them to the Power-5 payout, which last year was 66 million per conference.

The Mountain West and Big 10 pick up the same timeline

The Mountain West conference elected to take the same schedule format as the Big 10, beginning an 8-game slate on October 24, with their conference championship on December 19. With two 6-team divisions, it’s unclear what the specifics of the schedule will look like, but ultimately, the biggest factor here is Boise State. The Broncos are the only consistently good team in this conference, and they are a yearly challenger for the Group of 5’s spot in the New Year’s 6.

A notable exception at this point is the Air Force academy. Despite the Mountain West’s cancellation the Falcons had gone ahead with their plans to compete in their two-game series with Army and Navy. While their clash with Navy is scheduled for October 3rd, their game with the Black Knights is slated for November 7, which would be the third week of the Mountain West season. That potential dilemma was not mentioned by the Mountain West in their announcement today.

What about the MAC?

The MAC remains the only FBS conference to not have a fall season in place, but this could change soon as well. They were the earliest conference to postpone their season, doing so on August 8, but sources say they are planning on holding a presidents’ meeting, where the plan is to vote on a season. As of now, the rumors are circulating around a potential 6-game season in the MAC, which would officially get all FBS conferences into play. The MAC doesn’t have a nationally relevant team, with their best overall record last season coming from Buffalo, who finished 8-5. Regardless, at this point, it would be very strange for the conference to attempt to go solo and play a spring season by themselves, so expect some shortened season announcement to be coming soon.

Mid-Major Top Returning Guards: #2 – Loren Cristian Jackson, Akron

We are into the stretch run of our top mid-major guard countdown, as we continue our rankings with our #2 guard in Akron’s Loren Cristian Jackson. Jackson was the key cog behind Akron’s MAC-winning season last year, leading the team in points per game, assists, and three-point percentage. Entering his senior year, the Chicago product looks primed to be one of the best guards both in the MAC and in the country. 

Jackson’s averages of 19.8 points and 4.5 assists, along with his 43% shooting from three-point range, all ranked in the top-four in the MAC in the 2019-2020 season. His averages have improved in each of his three collegiate seasons, and he was one of the most efficient players in the country by Player Efficiency Rating, and he did it all while being an absolute workhorse for the Zips, averaging almost 35 minutes per game. 

Not only did Jackson post some superb averages, but he flashed his ability to have some big-time games, both against MAC-competition and Power-5 squads. In a road game at West Virginia, Jackson dropped 16 points and 6 assists on the Mountaineers, followed by a premier performance at #2 Louisville, where the rising senior notched a 20 point, 6 assist, 6 rebound effort, as Akron nearly stunned the Cardinals. Jackson got stronger as the season wore on, averaging nearly 24 points per game in the Zips’ final eight contests, highlighted by three efforts of 30+ points. In three games against the next two best teams in the MAC – Buffalo and Bowling Green – Jackson poured in 35, 35, and 28 points, helping lead Akron to a regular season conference title. And Jackson isn’t a one-trick pony, shooting 50% from inside the arc and an astounding 88% from the free-throw line, closing out numerous wins for the Zips at the charity stripe. 

Jackson has been an absolute beast for Akron, and if college basketball returns in full force, look for him to be one of the best guards in the country and leading the Zips to their first NCAA Tournament since 2013.