Rattler’s Youth A New Challenge For QB Guru Riley

When the odds came out for this past weekend’s college football games, and Oklahoma was listed as a 28-point favorite against Kansas State, I thought it was absolutely ridiculous. Kansas State may have looked bad in their season opener, but they beat Oklahoma last season, and the Sooners’ Spencer Rattler was making his first start against Power-5 competition. Rattler has been much hyped as a darkhorse Heisman candidate, due partly to his talent level, which is clearly high, but also due to Lincoln Riley, the ‘QB whisperer’. Riley has produced a Heisman finalist in each of his four years as the Oklahoma head coach, including two winners. One potential factor, brought up by many analysts, was that each of those prior quarterbacks had been transfers. 

Despite the question marks, Rattler quieted many doubters in his debut as a starter, dicing up an inferior Missouri State offense for 290 yards and four touchdowns in just one half of play. Yes it was Missouri State, but Rattler hardly looked wowed by the collegiate stage. It looked like more of the same in the early going against Kansas State, as Rattler posted a 17-19 stat line, tossing three touchdowns. However, those two incompletions fell into enemy hands, as two interceptions kept Kansas State in the game. The second pick led to the Wildcats’ only scoring drive of the half, as the Sooners led 21-7 at halftime. 

Oklahoma kept up the pressure at the start of the second half, racking up two more scores to go up 35-14 with 2:46 to go in the third quarter. 

If you’re a Sooners’ fan…look away now,. 

After taking a 21-point lead, it took a total of 13 snaps for their advantage to be narrowed to a single touchdown. The Wildcats utilized a 78 yard pass to score in three plays. They forced a fumble on Oklahoma’s next possession, and then they punched in another touchdown, grinding it out on a 8-play, 38-yard drive. Suddenly, it was 35-28, but Rattler still had an advantage, and the ball. 

To be fair, it wasn’t just Oklahoma’s redshirt-freshman quarterback that melted on Saturday, but he didn’t inspire anyone with his clutch-time performance. He went 2-5 on the ensuing drive, getting to midfield before stalling out. A blocked punt set up the Wildcats for another touchdown to tie the game, and Oklahoma got the ball back with 8:17 left in the game. Rattler completed one of three passes there, taking a bad sack on third down, which led to Kansas State getting great field position at their own 40. The Wildcats banged through a field goal, but hope wasn’t yet lost for the Sooners. 

Rattler and Co. would get two more chances with the ball. But neither possession was a productive one, as the Sooners went 3-and-out and punted it away. They got one more shot, starting at their 24-yard line, but Rattler was picked off on the second play of the drive, securing the stunning comeback upset victory for the Wildcats. All-in-all, after taking a 35-14 lead, Rattler completed 4 of 13 passes for 65 yards, throwing an interception and taking one very ill-timed sack. Prior to that, he was 26 of 28 with four touchdowns. 

The takeaway? Rattler is really good – but he is also really young. The talent was clearly there in his impressive early numbers, but the poise and clutch gene appeared to be lacking in a horrific finish to the game. Essentially, he’s young. Thus, Lincoln Riley, who has been elite with a varied batch of transfer quarterbacks, must now prove his mettle in mentoring a quarterback with virtually no collegiate experience. Rattler’s three interceptions was the most by an Oklahoma quarterback since 2014, before Riley arrived in Norman. It’s an entirely new challenge for the QB Whisperer. And he doesn’t have a lot of time to figure this one out. Oklahoma travels to Iowa State on Saturday, and the Cyclones are getting hyped up for the primetime clash, breaking out their all-black uniforms that they are 3-0 all-time in. They are not an easy game, and no one can be taken lightly after Oklahoma lost to K-State, who was 0-1 with a loss to Arkansas State. Following Iowa State? It’s the Red River Rivalry and another Texas-Oklahoma classic. 

Rattler’s got talent. But it takes more than just raw talent to survive in College Football, particularly in the offense-heavy Big 12. Can Riley work his magic once more, or are the Sooners done in 2020?

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.

BIG 12 Power Rankings, Award Predictions

Power Rankings

1: Oklahoma

  • To be the man, you gotta beat the man. And until they’re dethroned, the Sooners remain #1 here. To stay there, they’ll hope Spencer Rattler becomes the latest QB prodigy under Lincoln Riley, and playmakers aplenty populate the skill positions in Norman. They have plenty of talent to work with, and the Sooners should feature a loaded offense in 2020.

2: Oklahoma State

  • Chuba Hubbard is an absolute monster out of the backfield, and they may just have the offense around him to keep pace in the Big 12 this season. Quarterback Spencer Sanders was solid last season and looks to take another step forward, while his favorite receiver, Tylan Wallace, opted for another year wih the Cowboys.

3: Texas

  • Sam Ehlinger starts the season as the best quarterback in the big 12, although the development of Spencer Rattler for Oklahoma may change that. His Longhorns may not be ‘back’ just yet, as Texas looks good, but not great. The offense should be pretty good, but their defense that averaged over 30 points allowed per game must improve for the Longhorns to compete for a title.

4: Kansas State

  • Debuting a new coach last season, Kansas State went 8-5 and beat Oklahoma. They have to replace some production in the trenches, but Skylar Thompson is a fairly consistent quarterback not prone to making many mistakes. He should keep the Wildcats in a lot of ballgames.

5: Baylor

  • After nearly making the Playoff a year ago, Baylor figures to take a step back this season. They lost coach Matt Rhule to the NFL, They gave up under 20 points a game in the Big 12 – an extremely impressive feat. Their defense lost a lot of production (9 of their 11 top tacklers) but they return Charlie Brewer under center and have some intriguing offensive talent to keep them competitive in 2020.

6: Iowa State

  • Brock Purdy took a slight step back last season, but he remains a top-tier quarterback within this conference. Iowa State didn’t lose a single game by more than 10 points in the regular season last year, losing by more than 1 possession just once, losing five games by an average of 4.2 points. If they can turn some of those tight losses into wins, they’ll be improving on this 6th-place ranking.

7: Texas Tech

  • Texas Tech will hope to win a lot games 52-49, or by other similar scorelines. They return a lot of offensive talent from their 4-8 team a year ago, but they also lost lot of pieces from a defense that was already giving up a whopping 7.2 yards per play.

8: Texas Christian

  • TCU has struggled recently after a solid stretch of success in the middle years of the decade. Freshman 5-star running back Zach Evans could make an impact this season, and their defense appears to be solid, if not great. Solid defense can be good enough to win in the Big 12, if the offense is clicking, so the Horned Frogs will need to get their retooled offense up to speed pretty quickly with a conference-only schedule ahead.

9: Kansas

  • Not last – what a shocker here for the Jayhawks! Kansas showed marginal improvement in the debut season of Les Miles, including encouraging wins against Boston College and Texas Tech. They also lost 10 seniors off their defense and will be breaking in a new starter at quarterback. Running back Pooka Williams should be the bread and butter of Miles’ offensive scheme, and we’ll see if he can bring the Jayhawks a win or two.

10: West Virginia

  • West Virginia averaged only 19.6 points per game last season. In the air-raid, offense-heavy Big 12, that’s just not going to cut it. They could improve on that mark, with Jarret Doege returning under center and a promising group of receivers complementing him in the offense. However, the ground game is a major question mark after averaging just 2.63 yards per pop last season, so retooling the backfield and offensive line will be a must for the Mountaineers, if they are to stay competitive in any way shape, or form in 2020.

Offensive Player of the Year

Spencer Rattler- Quarterback, Oklahoma

  • Chuba Hubbard won this award last season, breaking a string of four straight Oklahoa players. Rattler is a 5-star recruit and figures to be an absolute stud in Lincoln Riley’s system. Far be it from us to start doubting Riley’s QB-whispering abilities now.
Peach Bowl

Defensive Player of the Year

Caden Sterns- Safety, Texas

  • Picking this award can feel like a crapshoot in a conference that routinely sees absolute slugfests, with both teams rising over 30 or 40 points. Stearns is an intriguing pick here, as he will have to be a leader for a Texas secondary that must improve if the Longhorns are to finally breakthrough.

Coach of the Year

Mike Gundy- Oklahoma State

The Cowboys haven’t made the Big 12 title game since it was re-instated in 2017, as 20`16 was the last year they finished top-2 in the conference. They haven’t taken home a Big 12 title since 2011, but they have as much promise as they’ve had in recent memory. Gundy came under fire this offseason for wearing a controverisal T-shirt in public, an act that was called out by some of his own players. If he can regain control of the locker room and get the Cowobys to the Big 12 championship, he is very deserving of this award.

Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy takes the field prior to an NCAA college football game in Stillwater, Okla., Saturday, Sept. 28, 2019. (AP Photo/Brody Schmidt)

Championship Game

Oklahoma vs Oklahoma State

Oklahoma wins 42- 31

  • To be the man, ya gotta beat the man. And it’s not happening this year. Boomer. Sooner.

We Simulated 5 CFB Seasons – With Clemson in the SEC

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

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

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

2015
Vs. Louisiana  W 43-24    
@ South Carolina   W 28-21 
Vs. Florida       W 24-10                      
Vs. Missouri    W 27-9   
Vs. Eastern Kentucky W (FCS)
Vs. Auburn       L 24-21              
@ Mississippi State L 40-34
Vs. Tennessee  W 33-24
@ Georgia W 23-17
@ Vanderbilt W 30-10
Vs. Charlotte  W 47-3
Vs. Louisville   W 27-21

SEC Championship
Vs. Alabama L 37-17

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

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

2016
Vs. Southern Mississippi W 23-21
@ Florida   W 24-20
Vs. New Mexico State W 41-24
Vs. South Carolina W 37-27
@ Alabama L 41-21
Vs. Vanderbilt  W 33-24
Vs. Mississippi State W 33-23
@ Missouri L 37-20
Vs. Georgia W 37-14
@ Tennessee W 31-24
Vs. Austin Peay W (FCS)
@ Louisville W 34-24 

SEC Championship
Vs. Alabama L 28-20

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

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

2017
@ Southern Miss W 40-20
Vs.  Eastern Kentucky W (FCS)
@ South Carolina W 31-14
Vs. Florida W 34-17
Vs. Eastern Michigan W 35-14
Vs. Missouri W 28-27
@ Mississippi State W 17-12
Vs. Tennessee W 33-14
Vs. Ole Miss W 28-23
@ Vanderbilt W 31-9
@ Georgia L 30-7
Vs. Louisville W 27-17 

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

If you’re curious…

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

2018
Vs. Central Michigan W 59-0
@ Florida W 30-24
Vs. Murray State W (FCS)
Vs. Mississippi State W 33-21
Vs. South Carolina W 42-20
@ Texas A&M W 34-31 OT 
Vs. Vanderbilt W 61-13
@ Missouri W 37-23
Vs. Georgia W 43-20
@ Tennessee W 52-21
Vs. Middle Tennessee W 56-10
@ Louisville W 44-20
SEC Championship
Vs. Alabama W 35-31 

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

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

If you’re curious…

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

2019
Vs. Toledo W 49-10
Vs. Eastern Michigan W 49-13
Vs. Florida W 40-31
@ Mississippi State W 42-20
@ South Carolina W 37-27
Vs. Arkansas W 55-14
@ Georgia L 30-27
Vs. Missouri W 38-24
Vs. Tennessee W 41-17
@ Vanderbilt W 56-13
Vs. UT Martin W (FCS)
Vs. Louisville W 52-6 


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

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

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

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

Summary

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

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

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

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

DeGeorge: Big 12 Quarterback Rankings 2020

10: Miles Kendrick, Kansas, Junior

2018 Stats: 11-19 passing for 100 yards and 1 touchdown. 16 rushing attempts for 47 yards and 1 touchdown.

Kendrick played in a backup role in 2018 and did not play in 2019. He is a dual threat quarterback and was listed as a three star recruit by 247sports, and he is a decent decision maker and does not make a lot of mistakes. My concerns about Kendrick, however, are that he has not played much, he is undersized (5’10, 205 lbs), and he does not have talent around him. He also does not have the potential to carry his team. He is still in a battle with Thomas MacVittie, but he is projected to win that competition – my take on Kendrick is he is an average player on a below average team.

9: Jarrett Doege, West Virginia, Senior

2019 Stats: 79-120 passing for 818 yards, 7 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. 11 rushing attempts for -41 yards and 0 touchdowns.

Doege has experience as a transfer from Bowling Green, where he was a starter. Last year, he won the starting job and played pretty well in four games. He is a pro style quarterback at 6-2, 200 pounds and was rated as a three star quarterback by 247sports. Another quarterback with not a lot of talent around him, I think Doege will have a decent year and may surprise people, but in a pretty stacked Big 12 quarterback room, I have him ranked 9th. He is a good decision maker with experience, but in an offensive conference, not having weapons around you can be fatal.

8: Skylar Thompson, Kansas State, Senior

2019 Stats: 177-297 for 2,315 yards, 12 touchdowns and 5 interceptions. 114 rushing attempts for 405 yards and 11 touchdowns.

A 6’2 and 210 pounds, Thompson is a dual threat quarterback, who was ranked as a three star recruit by 247sports. A quarterback with a lot of experience playing the Big 12 gauntlet, he has plus decision making and leadership. He has been praised for his leadership, and he brings back a strong receiving core, but K-State replaces all five offensive lineman. The reason Thompson is rated low is because he struggles with his accuracy, and he will struggle with that entirely new offensive line. For another year, Thompson will lead Kansas State to mediocrity. I like his leadership ability, but I do not believe he has the talent or the throwing ability to really succeed in the Big 12.

7: Max Duggan, TCU, Sophomore

2019 Stats: 181-339 for 2,077 yards, 15 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions. 130 rushing attempts for 555 yards and 6 touchdowns.

Duggan played well at times as a freshman for a struggling TCU team. He showed a fierce competitive drive and leadership that is not often seen in freshman. As a 6’2, 190-lb, dual threat quarterback, the TCU signal-caller was ranked as a four star recruit by 247sports. Duggan has the potential to have a breakout year, which we saw at times last year. However, I think that he’s one year away from that happening. TCU does not have a lot of offensive weapons, and Duggan still will suffer through some growing pains. He will eventually be a dominant quarterback in this league, but he still needs to improve. I believe he will build on his freshman season in 2020, but I do not believe he will have the breakout year that many project.

6: Alan Bowman, Texas Tech, Junior

Alan Bowman

2019 Stats: 101-157 for 1,020 yards, 6 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. 7 rushing attempts for 14 yards and 1 touchdown.

Bowman played in only three games in 2019, but he had impressive numbers in the air raid offense. The former three-star recruit (247sports) has had to battle through injuries in his last two seasons. He is a 6’3, 210-pound, pro style quarterback The biggest question surrounding Bowman is his health. If he remains injury-free, I believe he will have a breakout year. He has all the talent and potential in the world to excel in a weak defensive conference. He is the perfect quarterback for the Big 12 because of his arm strength and accuracy. He does not have insane talent around him, but he has enough to pair with his talent. The only reason he is not ranked higher is because the Big 12 has great quarterbacks, and injuries are a question. A lot of experts rank him lower, but I believe Bowman will be dominant this year if he is on the field.

5: Spencer Sanders, Oklahoma State, Sophmore

Spencer Sanders

2019 Stats: 155-247 for 2,065 yards, 16 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions. 139 rushing attempts for 628. yards and 2 touchdowns.

Sanders, a 6-2 195 ILBs dual threat quarterback who was a four star by 247sports, returns to Stillwater for his second year. His numbers were good his freshman yea,r and there is definitely talent to build off of. The main concern is the 11 interceptions, but I chalk many of those up to inexperience. He can run and throw at a high level, and he has talent around him coming back in Tylan Wallace and Chuba Hubbard. I have him at #5 because I think the guys in front of him are better, but I really think the top six on this list can finish in any order – that is how deep of a list this is. I look for Sanders to have a big year for the Cowboys.

4: Charlie Brewer, Baylor, Senior

Charlie Brewer

2019 Stats: 251-389 for 3,161, 21 touchdowns, and 7 interceptions. 147 rushing attempts for 344 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Brewer is a 6-1, 188 ILBs pro style quarterback, who was a three star prospect by 247sports. He is a fierce competitor with talent and I believe he will have a really good year, but there are multiple questions surrounding his 2020 campaign. First, how will he blend with a new coach in Dave Aranda? Many people believe his success was due to new Carolina Panthers’ head coach Matt Rhule, and this is his chance to prove them wrong. Also, his offensive line really struggled last year, and he needs to be protected to succeed in 2020. He lost Denzel Mims to the draft, but he does have playmakers around him. I believe Brewer will have a great year based off of his competitive spirit and will to win. He is not the most talented guy on this list, and he may not have the most talented team around him, but I believe he has the most grit out of all the quarterbacks in the Big 12 and that is why I see him having a good year.

3: Brock Purdy, Iowa State, Junior

2019 Stats: 312 of 475 for 3,982 yards, 27 touchdowns, and 9 interceptions. 93 rushing attempts for 249 yards and 8 touchdowns.

Purdy is 6-1, 202 ILBs, pro style quarterback, who was a three star by 247sports. Purdy could be number one on this list. He is an absolute stud. The reason I have him at #3 is that he does not have the talent around him that Ehlinger and Rattler have, which limits his ability to put up big-time numbers. He has great accuracy and good arm strength. He is not known as a running quarterback, but he can do so effectively if needed. Look for another big year out of him at the helm of this Iowa State offense. He is proven as a talent and he is a good leader. Do not be surprised if Purdy is a darkhorse Heisman candidate.

2: Spencer Rattler, Oklahoma, Freshman

A five star rated by 247sports, Rattler is 6-1, 198 ILBs, and he was the number one pro style quarterback in the 2019 class. He is an absolute stud who can throw and run at high levels. He is inexperienced, but I believe that inexperience is helpful to him because he sat behind Heisman finalist Jalen Hurts and learned how to be a great quarterback and leader. The other thing that makes me optimistic about Rattler is the system and coach Lincoln Riley. Since Riley took over, his three quarterbacks have at least been Heisman finalists and two have won. The reason I rank him at two is because he is relatively unproven, and as much as I want to put him at #1 and believe he could be the best quarterback in the Big 12, I can not really justify it before he takes a snap in the 2020 season. That being said, look for a great year out of Rattler and the Sooners.

1: Sam Ehlinger, Texas, Senior

Sam Ehlinger

2019 Stats: 296-454 for 3,663 yards, 32 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions. 163 rushing attempts for 663 yards and 7 touchdowns.

Ehlinger is a 6-2, 230 ILBs, dual threat quarterback rated as a four star by 247sports. As much as I believe there really are six guys that could top this list, I put the most proven and most experienced quarterback at number one. Ehlinger has played in a lot of big games and made a lot of big plays in his career at Texas. The team underachieved last year, but his numbers were great, and I believe they will improve in 2020. I see no reason that he will not be a Heisman finalist. I would not definitively say he is the most talented quarterback on this list, but you can not coach experience. Ehlinger will have another big year in Austin, and hopefully he will prove me right and be the best quarterback in the Big 12.

Daily Headlines: Notre Dame and Kentucky Schedule 3-game series in Basketball

Notre Dame and Kentucky set up 3-game series

Two of college basketball’s most historic programs set up a three-game series for the next three seasons, as Kentucky, who has the most all-time wins as a program, and Notre Dame, ranked #9 in that same category, will meet on the hardwood in 2020, 2021, and 2022. Kentucky is, as they usually are, a powerhouse, while Notre Dame is a program back on the rise. The Irish suffer the loss of John Mooney this season, but they have a strong sophomore class and some promising upcoming recruits. Next year’s contest at Kentucky sets the Wildcats up as heavy favorites, but the following two years, at a neutral site and then at Notre Dame, promise to be entertaining clashes. Kentucky leads the overall series 43-19, but the two teams have four contests since 2009. Non-conference battles like this are good for college sports, so it’s great to see this rivalry renewed. After all, who else remembers the last time these two teams met? (Also, if ND could bring back these uniforms along with the rivalry, that would be cool)

Notre Dame will get three chances at avenging this painful memory

Oklahoma sweeps the Big 12 Athlete of the Year Awards

The Big 12 announced some postseason honors on Thursday, and Oklahoma swept the Athlete of the Year awards, with quarterback and Heisman finalist Jalen Hurts taking the male award, and gymnast Maggie Nichols taking it home on the female side. 

Hurts was one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks in the country this past season, denied a Heisman by Joe Burrow’s all-world season. He put up over 5,000 yards of all-purpose offense and accounted for 53 touchdowns. He led the Sooners to a Big 12 title and the College Football Playoff, and he was drafted by the Eagles in the 2nd round this past April.
Nichols, meanwhile, earned her second Big 12 athlete of the year award, having claimed the hardware two years ago as well. She’s won back-to-back NCAA all-around titles in 2018 and 2019, adding to her trophy case of 11 NCAA trophies she accumulated over her time with Oklahoma. 

JT Daniels Transfers to Georgia

In a decision that made waves across the sporting world yesterday, former USC quarterback JT Daniels elected to transfer to Georgia. The starting job under center in Athens was presumed to belong to Wake Forest transfer Jamie Newman, but now he’ll be competing with Daniels for playing time. Newman is the presumed favorite, but Kirby Smart’s quarterback room just got a lot better, and the competition got a lot tighter. 

Brown drops 11 varsity sports, adds two

Brown dropped eleven varsity sports, lowering their total to 29 D1 teams. However, the move is unrelated to the coronavirus pandemic, according to the administration; rather, they say the decision was made to make the Bears more competitive in the Ivy League. From ESPN: “Varsity sports dropping to club status are men’s and women’s fencing, men’s and women’s golf, women’s skiing, men’s and women’s squash, women’s equestrian and men’s indoor and outdoor track and cross country. Coed sailing and women’s sailing will be elevated from club to varsity status.” 

Daily Headlines: Jalen Kitna Commits to Florida

The Florida Gators may be leaning on Kyle Trask this season for their College Football Playoff hopes, but their quarterback room of the future got a big upgrade on Tuesday, as four-star Jalen Kitna expressed his verbal commitment to the Gators. The Texas product had seven major offers on the table, and BC, Arizona, and Georgia Tech were also heavy players in his recruitment. Although he checks in as a pro-style quarterback, several scouts have lauded his ability to make plays with his legs. Kitna currently clocks in with a 4.7 40-yard dash, and he threw for over 1500 yards last season – he’s an intriguing addition to the Florida quarterback room.

Pac-12 makes call on return of athletes, Clemson and Oklahoma also make decisions

In a big decision, the Pac-12 announced they would allow athletes to return to campus for voluntary workouts. It’s unclear how this works with California’s plan to host online classes. But, at least the Pac-12 is open to the possibility of sports returning – so keep your fingers crossed.
Meanwhile, Clemson announced that they are authorizing their athletes to return to campus June 8, although Oklahoma is staying a little more cautious, announcing they will be waiting until July 1. However, these timelines still keep the college football schedule on pace for an on-time start, so hopefully July 1 is at late as it gets.

Coleman-Lands transfers to Iowa State

Jalen Coleman-Lands announced his intention to transfer to Iowa State, where he will complete his sixth and final collegiate season with his third team. Coleman-Lands spent two seasons with Illinois, sat out the 2017-2018 season due to transfer, then red-shirted a year due to injury in his first year with DePaul. Last season, Coleman-Lands put up 11.1 points per game in the Big East, and he’s headed back to the Big 12, where he will play for the Iowa State Cyclones. Iowa State struggled last season, putting up a 5-13 record in a top-heavy Big 12, but the addition of Coleman-Lands gives them a solid player who has lots of experience playing big games will give them a nice asset as they try to surge back to Big 12 relevancy.

Daily Headlines: Oklahoma with a great weekend of recruiting

Oklahoma addresses LB and WR with a pair of 4-stars

The Sooners continue to rake in elite recruits, as they added a four-star linebacker and receiver (4 or 5-star depending on the ranking) to bolster their 2021 class. They secured a commitment from LB Clayton Smith – this decision was made far sweeter given that Red River rival Texas was considered favored to land the linebacker, but Smith heads for the Sooners, who just lost first-round pick Kenneth Murray to the NFL. Meanwhile, wide receiver Mario Williams, a 5-star by rivals.com and the second best receiver in the class, opts for the offense-happy Big 12, specifically the Sooners. With Lincoln Riley having cultivated Heisman finalists in four consecutive years, Williams figures to have plenty of opportunities to thrive. This decision wasn’t much of a surprise, as the Florida product was always forecasted to head to Oklahoma, but it’s still a huge get for the Sooners who enjoyed a great weekend on the recruiting trails. 

Auburn gets versatile Dawson, 4-star tackle

This headline was going to address what side of the ball Auburn focused on with their recruits, but in securing Tar’Varish Dawson, a 2021 athlete, the Tigers not only pulled a small surprise, but they landed an elite athlete capable of helping Auburn out on both sides of the ball. Dawson is from Florida, and the general consensus was that he was headed for the U to help Miami climb back to national relevancy, but instead, the two-way threat announced he was 1000% committed to Auburn, with an emphatic “WAR EAGLE” at the end of his commitment post. Auburn has often had the short end of the stick in their battle for SEC supremacy with Alabama and LSU, but Dawson, regardless of where he slots in, should help boost their prospects. Along with Dawson, Auburn focused on the trenches, bringing in four-star tackle Caleb Johnson. Auburn was a long-time frontrunner for the Florida product, who was one of their top offensive line targets, and they fended off Notre Dame and Florida State among others for his commitment. 

OK State, Alabama pick up defensive assets

With in-state rival Oklahoma bringing in an elite linebacker, Oklahoma State countered, landing their own four-star defensive star in linebacker Collin Oliver. The Sooners never seriously pursued Oliver, and the Cowboys quickly became favorites for the in-state product. Even still, a border-line top 10 player from Oklahoma, this is a very solid four-star pickup from Oklahoma State.
Meanwhile, Alabama was doing Alabama things in recruiting, securing a commitment from four-star safety Kaine Williams. This was a particularly great get for the Crimson Tide, as Williams is an elite Louisiana product who nearly committed to LSU before waiting. Alabama, seemingly third on his list to the Tigers and Texas A&M, rose to the top of Williams’ list and earned his commitment. Tabbed as the nation’s sixth-best safety, Williams is a great addition to what has been a lackluster Alabama recruiting season, as they look to improve on their current 59th-ranked 2021 class. 

Baylor picks up a 4-star receiver

Baylor fought their way back close to the top of the Big 12 this season, and they’re hoping to stay there. Winning that war requires winning battles on the recruiting front, and the Bears did that by earning a commitment from in-state product Elijah Bean, a four-star receiver. Bean long seemed to favor the Bears, although SMU, Vanderbilt, Louisiana Tech were among the thirteen offers he had. Bean’s an intriguing prospect who hopes to add potency to Baylor’s offense, a component desperately needed in the Big 12.