Whoa! This was supposed to be the calm before the storm. Georgia playing pathetic Kentucky, Ohio State playing perpetual Big Ten doormat Maryland, Michigan playing faltering Illinois, TCU playing disappointing Baylor, Tennessee playing a badly inconsistent South Carolina team coming off a 38-6 loss to Florida,
- Georgia 16, Kentucky 6: I don’t really want to spend a whole lot of time on this one because Georgia was never really in danger of losing, but then again they never really fully put Kentucky away. Kentucky is not good. I know they were ranked this season, but that was a fugazi. They only got ranked because they beat Florida early in the year, and Florida was ranked #12 at the time, but we know Florida is not a good team. So Kentucky won that game on the road at Florida in pretty dominant fashion, and we all thought we were watching an impressive win by Kentucky over a quality opponent, but it was not the case. And yet Kentucky was still vaulted up into the top-25 and remained there long after the entire rationale for them being there was destroyed.
- This Kentucky team just lost to VANDERBILT last week. It was Vandy’s first SEC win since 2019. And then Vandy got their second SEC win over Florida yesterday afternoon. Kentucky played Miami of Ohio, Youngstown State and Northern Illinois for their non-conference slate. They lost to Ole Miss, got crushed 44-6 by Tennessee, and their only win was at home over a then-ranked 16 Mississippi State five weeks ago. Kentucky isn’t good.
- I’m still worried about Georgia the LEAST of any of the top teams, despite this game, but I will just say this as the bottom line: if they get held to 16 points against a good team, they will get beat. And Kentucky just proved to the world that you can hold this Georgia team to 16 points.
- Last year’s Georgia team only scored under 30 points twice: once in the SEC Championship game against Alabama (a 41-24 loss) and the other time was in their 10-3 win over Clemson to start off the season. While Clemson ended up being a huge disappointment last year, they did have an elite defense all season long. It was understandable for Georgia to struggle on offense against that Clemson team last year. Plus it, was in week one of the season. This was week 11–or I guess 12 if you include the bye week–and against Kentucky, not Clemson. It’s a little concerning. It’s like a 6 out of 10 on the concerning scale.
- This wasn’t a look-ahead game for Georgia. They’re playing Georgia Tech next week–and Georgia Tech hadn’t beaten North Carolina by the time the Georgia-Kentucky game kicked off, so it’s not like Georgia saw that Tech beat UNC and thought, “Whoa, we might have a bit of a challenge with them next week…” and then lost focus.
- I understand it was a road game for Georgia, and road games are always extremely difficult in college football.
- Ohio State 43, Maryland 30: This one was closer than the final score. There was a point in the game where it was 33-30 Ohio State and I thought there was a real chance they lost. But this was more of a game where Ohio State couldn’t put Maryland away; they just kept letting them back in. It was 27-13 Ohio State, then Maryland brought it to 33-30 Ohio State.
- I’m not going to try to sit here and argue that Maryland is a good team, but they are not as bad as people think. Even after this loss to Ohio State, they are 6-5 and bowl eligible. Taulia Tagovailoa hurt his knee during the October 15 game against Indiana, and then missed the next game against Northwestern, which Maryland won. He came back the following week for the Wisconsin game, but clearly wasn’t 100% and Maryland lost 23-10. Then they lost 30-0 to Penn State the following week, and clearly wasn’t 100%. I don’t think Maryland would’ve beaten Penn State if Taulia was healthy, but they would have had a much better chance against Wisconsin. And in week 4, Maryland lost 34-27 on the road to Michigan–that was a close game.
- Ohio State was looking ahead to Michigan. That much I’m sure of. If this game was played 2 months ago, Ohio State probably plays much better.
- But I think we’d be remiss to say we can’t take anything from this game regarding Ohio State. Their secondary is suspect, specifically at cornerback. I don’t think Michigan will be able to exploit this weakness, but I’m just imagining Ohio State playing USC in the playoff, and that would not be a good situation for Ohio State. That’s the nightmare matchup for them. Now, USC wouldn’t be able to stop Ohio State at all, but I don’t know how many stops Ohio State could get on USC, either. A matchup against USC would be a real problem for Ohio State in the playoff. Caleb Williams would terrorize those corners. But I’m getting ahead of myself here.
- Michigan 19, Illinois 17: Michigan should’ve lost this game. They should have been flagged for offensive pass interference on their fourth down conversion with just under a minute to go. That would’ve put them in a 4th down and 20 situation and they can’t throw the ball without committing OPI on a rub route. If the refs flagged that like they should’ve, Michigan loses that game to Illinois.
- But beyond the fact that Michigan should’ve lost, I think people are going to take a lot of the wrong lessons from this game because it will get grouped in with Georgia, Ohio State and TCU struggling against inferior opponents. People will just say, “Oh, yeah, all the top 4 teams played down to their competition this week; four head-scratching games.”
- No, this Michigan game does not belong in the “head-scratcher” category. I thought all week that Illinois could win. Illinois was in this game until the very end because they simply match up well with Michigan. This was not some fluke outcome. This was not just Michigan failing to show up for the game; this was a predictable and in my view expected outcome. If these two teams played again, I think the result would be similar. Michigan probably even loses this game if it was played in Champaign as opposed to Ann Arbor.
- Look, just like with the other teams, I’m going give Michigan a pass here. Illinois is not a pushover team, and I’m sure Michigan was looking forward to the Ohio State game. It would be impossible for them not to.
- In Michigan’s defense, they were missing Corum for the second half, Edwards for the whole game, and tight end Luke Schoonmaker for the whole game. Those are their three most important offensive players outside of the quarterback.
- I’m not taking too much from this game, other than Michigan was lucky as hell they got away with that OPI on 4th down. But Illinois can play with Michigan. They’re not scared of Michigan, and they match up well. They can line up and play smashmouth football.
- However, the fact that the game was at home for Michigan, the fact that they got that extremely favorable no-call on 4th down, and the fact that they just have better players enabled them to narrowly escape.
- One last thing: I think Blake Corum’s knee injury is a serious problem. He tried to jump over a guy towards the end of the first half, in the red zone, and the Illinois defender went low on him, and he just let go of the ball in midair. Corum doesn’t fumble the ball. But on that play, he did, and it wasn’t because the ball got knocked out. It was because his knee was probably in so much pain he lost all sense of “I am in a football game, I have the ball in my hands and this is a live play.” That was a real injury. And then, because the game was so close in the second half, they tried to bring him back in, because they needed him, but he just couldn’t go. He only had one play in the second half before they took him out and had to go on without him–and Donovan Edwards missed that game, too. So there’s a real possibility both those guys miss the Ohio State game.
- TCU 29, Baylor 28: TCU just keeps winning. They keep finding a way. I was running errands for most of this game on Saturday and then when I got back home towards the end, I was mainly watching the Michigan game because I thought Illinois was actually going to win. I don’t really have a whole lot to say about this game other than that field goal at the end was a little too close for comfort–timing-wise–but TCU just keeps finding ways to win. They didn’t play well against a lesser foe, but Baylor-TCU is a big rivalry. And look: everybody else in the top 5 played like shit, so TCU gets a pass for this. I would be shocked if TCU loses to Iowa State this weekend, and it’s now looking like they’re going to probably win the Big 12 and secure a playoff berth here.
- Tennessee 38, South Carolina 63: Wow. Who saw this coming. Just a complete and total implosion for Tennessee. Hendon Hooker went down with a non-contact knee injury when it was 49-31 South Carolina, and while the game was pretty much in the bag before that, it was fully over after Hooker got hurt. It looked like a bad injury, I would not be shocked it’s a torn ACL. That just sucks. (Update: it turned out to be a torn ACL. Just terrible.)
- But real talk: Tennessee got embarrassed. South Carolina ran up the score! This game was a CLOWNING. South Carolina was scoring at will on that Tennessee defense. In the first quarter, South Carolina scored TDs on their first five possessions. No punts. The only time they didn’t score was when they got the ball back with 12 seconds left in the half, and that doesn’t count. So South Carolina scored TDs on every possession. They punted on their first possession of the second half, but then it was just TDs on every drive the rest of the way. 9 out of 10 possessions for South Carolina were touchdowns. They were an automatic TD every time their offense got on the field, and they knew it, too. They were clowning Tennessee out there; South Carolina had no respect for Tennessee. This was a humiliation.
- I heard somewhere this was the most points ever given up by a ranked team to an unranked opponent? Insane.
- LSU 41, UAB 10: Cupcake Saturday in Baton Rouge going as planned. Nothing to see here.
- Why do I have a sneaking suspicion that LSU is going to lose next weekend at Texas A&M? We know A&M is horrible, but they have talent and they’ve been competitive in a lot of games. They have zero offense, but I could see them winning a 16-13 type of game, or something low-scoring like that. LSU was in a real dogfight last weekend at Arkansas, and that game finished with a 13-10 final score. Don’t sleep on A&M this weekend. I have a feeling about them. The game is being played in College Station, and LSU might be looking ahead to Georgia…
- USC 48, UCLA 45: Man, it sucked seeing DTR crying at the end of this game. He played his ass off but just had that one slip-up at the end. It was a hell of a battle, back and forth the whole time, each team landing haymakers and the other team responding. It was one of those “whoever gets the ball last is going to win” games, except USC came away with a game-ending interception on the final drive. UCLA was probably going to score there, but DTR threw the pick. That was the only way USC was going to get a stop in that game.
- So it was a great win for USC, but also, do we know how good the Pac 12 really is? I guess we will worry about that if and when USC gets into the playoff. The good news for them is that the Committee has them ranked ahead of Alabama, which means they have the inside track: all they have to do is win their next two games and they’re in. They will also need Georgia to take care of LSU in the SEC Championship as well, probably. But I’m pretty sure if USC wins out they’re in.
- However, I think they’re going to lose to Notre Dame next weekend. It’s going to be very disappointing because USC is so close to getting in to the playoff, but I really think Notre Dame will go in there and get a win.
- I’m watching the Utah-Oregon game right now and it’s midnight eastern but the game is just now going to halftime. Oregon is up 17-3, so assuming Oregon holds on, the Pac 12 Championship will be USC vs. Oregon. USC has already punched their ticket, now we just have to see whether they’ll play Oregon or Utah. Probably Oregon, but who knows: this is college football and wild shit happens.
- Caleb Williams almost cost USC this game. It was 48-45 USC with about 3 minutes to go. USC had the ball at the UCLA 35, it was 2nd and 10. Caleb rolls out of the pocket and looks like he’s going to run, and he would’ve had a first down, but at the last second before crossing over the line of scrimmage, he decides to try and throw a weird jump pass thing off to a receiver on the left sideline, and he just missed his guy. And you could tell he knew instantly he made a huge mistake. He was visibly mad at himself. I was thinking, “That might have cost them the game.” And then of course on 3rd and 10, he gets sacked for like a 13 yard loss, taking the ball all the way back to around midfield and forcing a punt. I really thought he blew the game right there–it felt like if he would’ve just run the ball on 2nd down, he would’ve gotten the first down and they would have been in field goal range for sure, but probably would’ve gotten a touchdown given how easily they were moving the ball all game.
- The pick bailed him out. I don’t think USC was getting a stop on that drive other than a pick. This USC defense has not been great this year, and it’s basically been either they get a turnover or they let up points. They don’t get stops.
- But of course this wound up being a huge win for USC, they finally got that big, quality win over a legitimate team this year. And now they’ve got to deal with Notre Dame in the Coliseum, and then probably Oregon in the Pac 12 Championship game. It’s going to be a tough two weeks for them, and I think they will lose to Notre Dame, but if USC can win these next two games, they’re in the playoff.
So what are the playoff implications here?
Well, let’s start with the latest rankings as of Tuesday, November 22:
The top 4 remains UGA, OSU, Michigan and TCU.
Then you have 2-loss LSU at 5, which is a clear signal that the Committee will put them in the playoff if they beat Georgia in the SEC Championship game. I think it’s very possible LSU wins that game. I didn’t think it was possible a week ago, I thought it was like 95% Georgia wins, but after seeing Georgia kinda play like crap against Kentucky, I think LSU has a chance to win that game. I’m putting it at 65% Georgia wins. But LSU still has to get past Texas A&M in their last game of the year. Don’t laugh–I really do think A&M has a chance in that game, in a weird way.
USC is at #6, which is a clear sign that can make the playoff if they win out. Because at least two teams ahead of them will have a loss by the time conference championship weekend is finished: Ohio State and Michigan play this weekend, and then Georgia and LSU play the weekend after that. So if USC finishes 12-1, and let’s just say Ohio State and Georgia both win, and then TCU wins out, it’ll be Georgia, Ohio State, TCU and USC in the playoff. That’s what I think the committee is signaling. One-loss Michigan might have a case, but USC will have a stronger case with wins at Oregon State, at UCLA, home against Notre Dame and then probably Oregon in the Pac 12 Championship game. That’s 4 teams that are currently ranked, and it would trump Michigan’s resume, where their only win is at home over Penn State–plus USC will have a conference championship and Michigan won’t.
Alabama at 7, I think, is out of the playoff barring some seriously crazy shit going down. Like, they would need Georgia to lose to Georgia Tech, then lose to LSU, and then LSU would have to lose to A&M next week but then beat Georgia. So 2-loss Georgia, and 3-loss LSU probably gets Alabama a shot at the playoff. But honestly, the loser of the Ohio State-Michigan game has a better shot at the playoff than Alabama does. It would be so hard to get in with 2 losses and no conference championship. But then again, if anybody can do it, it’s Alabama. I will not believe they’re truly done this season until I see them with my own two eyes outside of the top-4 when the final rankings are revealed on Sunday, December 4.
The biggest loser is obviously Tennessee, who is down at 10. They’re done. Even if they had come back and won this game somehow, they lost Hendon Hooker and thus their National Championship hopes went up in smoke right then and there. With Tennessee out of the picture, the odds of there being two SEC teams in the playoff are much lower. Pretty much the only way it happens is if LSU beats Georgia in the SEC Championship game.
It feels like we’re on a collision course to see Georgia vs. Ohio State in the National Championship. I think those are the two best teams in the country, and they have been all season, but it’s not a situation where it’s clear and overwhelming. They’re both flawed teams. Georgia isn’t as good as they were last year, and Ohio State, whether due to injuries or just the fact that we should have never expected their offense to be better than last year’s after losing Olave, Wilson, and JSN, is clearly a flawed team as well.
What I’m saying here is that Georgia vs. Ohio State should be the National Championship, but it is by no means guaranteed, or by no means will they both just breeze their way to SoFi. They could both lose along the way. Ohio State could lose to Michigan this weekend, and at this point I think Georgia could absolutely lose to LSU in the SEC Championship.
This is not a season where you have some incredibly dominant and historically-great team like 2019 LSU or 2020 Alabama, or last year’s Georgia. There’s no 800lb gorilla in college football this year.
If I had to make a bet right now, I would guess that the playoff field is going to be Georgia, Ohio State, TCU and USC. Georgia, Ohio State and TCU as undefeated conference champions, while USC will be a one-loss Pac 12 champ. And I think that’s what the playoff field should be: four of the Power Five conferences represented, no conference gets two teams in, and most importantly, we get much better geographical representation. Finally the West Coast can get involved in the CFP.
But then again, I said above that I think USC is going to lose to Notre Dame, so if that happens, the door is opened for potentially a 12-1 ACC Champion Clemson to get in. Clemson is not out of it. The committee has them at #8, which means they are clearly not sold on them at all, but if they win out and win impressively over UNC in the ACC Championship, they’re alive.
It really hurts Clemson that UNC lost to Georgia Tech over the weekend, though. UNC was #13 going into that game, and if they would’ve remained unbeaten heading into the ACC Championship, that would’ve been a potentially impressive win for Clemson. But now UNC is not diminished, and for Clemson to impress the committee, they’re going to have to win by like 50 in the ACC Championship game, and I don’t think they’re capable of that.
I also think Clemson will have a fight on their hands against South Carolina this weekend. That’s a big rivalry, and obviously South Carolina looked like an offensive juggernaut against Tennessee. Has Spencer Rattler turned a corner? Has South Carolina finally figured it out? Or was that just a flash in the pan? I would probably fade South Carolina from a betting perspective, just because I feel like so many average joe bettors are going to be on South Carolina, but man, if Spencer Rattler keeps playing like that, South Carolina can absolutely win.
I could also see TCU losing one of the next two games. They should probably beat Iowa State because it’s a home game, but Iowa State is wacky, and they can really drag teams down with them into the mud. And then the Big 12 Championship game against either Kansas State or Texas (probably K-State, but not a certainty)–that’s a loseable game for TCU as well. Since October 8, every game TCU has played has been close. That week, they won 38-31 at Kansas, then 43-40 vs. Oklahoma State, then 38-28 vs. K-State (TCU was down at one point 28-10, however), 41-31 at West Virginia (a very close game til the final few minutes), 34-24 over Texas Tech, 17-10 at Texas, and then this narrow escape vs. Baylor on the road. TCU has been living on the edge for like 2/3rds of the season, and sooner or later they are going to find that their luck has run out; they won’t be able to pull the rabbit out of the hat one of these days.
So if both TCU and USC lose, I have no clue what will happen. My best guess is that it opens the door for Clemson, and then probably the loser of the Ohio State-Michigan game has a real chance to get in as a non-conference champ. You can never leave out Alabama, even with two losses, although I think it would be totally egregious if they somehow found a way to put Bama in there. Still, for as much as the committee is biased in favor of the SEC and Bama particularly, I don’t think they would put a 2-loss Bama in over a 12-1 ACC Champion Clemson, or an 11-1 Michigan/Ohio State game loser. That would just be a bridge too far.
One last thing…
Ole Miss got completely demolished by Arkansas. I think this almost confirms that Lane Kiffin is leaving for Auburn, right? I mean this was a ‘give-up” game for Ole Miss, wasn’t it? This was them just letting go of the rope and not caring, I think.
They put all their eggs in the Bama basket, and after losing that game, I think they’re just kind of done.
Some WILD shit went down on Twitter on Monday night regarding Lane Kiffin and some reporter saying he was taking the Auburn job, and then Lane directly responded to him… it was hilarious. I don’t feel like going into Twitter and screenshotting all the relevant tweets to post here, but if you’re interested just look up it up on either Twitter or Google.
Why Doesn’t Bryce Young Have Good Receivers at Alabama?
Throughout Nick Saban’s tenure at Alabama, they have had some excellent receivers. Julio Jones, Amari Cooper, Calvin Ridley, Jerry Jeudy, and then they really ramped it up with Henry Ruggs, DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle pretty much all at the same time. Last year they brought in Jameson Williams from the transfer portal and he was awesome.
The only year Bama did not have an all-world caliber wide receiver was 2011, when they were between Julio and Amari, and their best receiver was Marquis Maze.
And now this year.
And people are saying, “Bryce Young has nobody to throw to out there!”
I’ve even said it. I pointed out early in the year after the Texas game that Bama has a bunch of nobodies at wide receiver. I’ve not seen a situation like this at Bama in a long time, where they don’t have at least one stud at receiver.
But here’s the issue: they have talent at receiver. They recruited the position well. They have 4 of the top 11 wide receiver recruits from the 2021 class. None of them have really panned out as expected.
Three of the top six and four of the top 11! Ja’Corey Brooks, Agiye Hall, JoJo Earle and Christian Leary.
And people are saying Bama has no pass catchers.
Look at Ohio State’s guys: Egbuka and Marvin Harrison are their top receivers and doing an incredible job. Harrison is the best receiver in the country right now. Ohio State developed their talent. When he came out of high school, the experts thought Harrison was a good prospect, but not a great one. He became elite at Ohio State.
Georgia only got one guy in the top 20, and he wasn’t even a receiver, he was a tight end. Brock Bowers was #19 on that list and he’s already become the best tight end in the country. He’s a superstar. Georgia went 1 for 1 there. Bowers has been a home run. And you know it’s not a fluke because Georgia has another tight end, Darnell Washington (the dude who’s as big as a house, #0), who is also a stud. Georgia develops tight ends really well.
Bama is like 0-4, maybe 1-4 at best on their 2021 wide receiver recruiting class. Elite talent goes to Bama and doesn’t get better.
Now, an issue for Bama is that for the 2020 class, Bama only got 3 of the top 50 receivers, and none in the top 25: Thaiu Jones-Bell (28), Javon Baker (38), and Traeshon Holden (47). All were four star guys. (By the way: right ahead of Baker at 37? Jalin Hyatt, who will probably win the Biletnikoff award this year. Tennessee develops talent.)
Let’s take a look at what has happened to these Bama WR recruits, starting with the 2020 class:
- Jones-Bell is still at Bama. He’s a junior this year, and he’s only caught one pass this year in three games. He has four career receptions at Alabama in three years.
- Javon Baker is already out of there. He transferred to UCF. He had a total of 9 catches for 116 yards in his first two years at Bama, and now he’s doing pretty well at UCF with 41 catches for 558 yards and 4 TDs. Maybe he’s not quite up to the Bama standard, but the dude is the second-leading receiver down there at UCF. He can clearly play at decently high level. For whatever reason it just didn’t work out at Bama, but Baker isn’t a bad football player.
- Traeshon Holden plays a bit for Bama. He’s a junior now and has 21 catches for 266 yards and 5 TDs this year. Last year, he had 21 catches for 239 yards and 1 TD. Not much of an improvement.
And now 2021:
- Ja’Corey Brooks: He plays a lot. He’s got by far the most receiving yards on the team. But his stats aren’t super impressive this year: 32 catches, 534 yards and 6 TDs. Last year as a freshman he played in 7 games and had 15 grabs, 192 yards and 2 TDs. There’s a chance Brooks could break out next year as a junior, but this was really supposed to be the year for him with Jameson Williams and Metchie gone to the NFL. Brooks was the highest graded wide receiver recruit on this Bama roster to begin the season. It’s tough to see him breaking out after Bryce Young leaves. This was his golden opportunity.
- Agiye Hall: Was only at Bama one year, as a freshman. Had 4 catches for 72 yards, including 2 for 52 yards against Georgia in the Natty after Jameson Williams went down. He looked promising on those two catches, but he was suspended by Nick Saban in April for violation of team rules, then he transferred to Texas. He has been on suspension at Texas since October after getting arrested for criminal mischief. Hall is clearly talented, but the dude doesn’t know how to act.
- JoJo Earle: JoJo Earle has appeared in 6 games for Bama this year. He broke his foot in the offseason and missed the first month of the season, but has played in every game since October 1 at Arkansas. He has 9 catches, 138 yards and 2 TDs. Probably not playing at 100% so it’s tough to render a verdict on him for this year.
- Christian Leary: The speedster has barely played this season, just one catch for 6 yards. Last year he had 2 catches for 4 yards and a touchdown. He just hasn’t been able to carve out a role in this offense.
So Bama was extremely strong in 2021 recruiting wide receivers, and those guys are sophomores now so they should be taking over right now given how sparse the 2020 receiver recruiting class for Bama was.
I think the larger issue here is that Bama doesn’t develop talent anywhere near as well as they used to.
How do you get 4 of the top 11 receivers in a recruiting class and none of them have broken out after two full years?
It’s not like they haven’t had a QB either! They have a Heisman winner to throw them the ball. If ever there was a quarterback to put these receivers in position to succeed, it’s Bryce Young.
Now, there are other receivers on the Bama squad that have been more productive for them, like freshman Kobe Prentice (30 catches, 290 yards), the Georgia transfer Jermaine Burton who punched that girl in the head at Tennessee and didn’t get in trouble for it at all (27 catches, 375 yards, 4 TDs) and the tight end Cameron Latu (24 catches, 305 yards, 3 TDs).
But Bama’s leading receiver this year is Jahmyr Gibbs, a running back. He has the most receptions with 40, although Brooks has the most yards with 534. Still, Gibbs is third on the team in receiving yards at 370.
That’s not good, man. You can’t have your running back as your top pass-catching target on the team.
It’s not like Bama hasn’t been able to get talented players. They have talented receivers on the roster, they just haven’t done a good job of developing them.
Yet another sign that the end is near for Saban, in my opinion. Over the past two years, Bama has become increasingly reliant on transfer players, and that’s a symptom of the fact that they’re not developing their recruits.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Bama under Saban is running on fumes.