You come on the king, you finest not miss.
That is a quote from “The Wire,” however there’s a good likelihood the writers of that present stole it from Nick Saban.
Saturday was imagined to characteristic a wounded Alabama. It was per week of turmoil amid Saban’s COVID-19 check that, apparently, was a false positive. It was per week wherein the protection was rightfully questioned following a dismal efficiency in opposition to Lane Kiffin and Ole Miss final weekend. It was per week wherein the stability of energy within the SEC appeared to teeter only a bit into Georgia‘s favor.
However we have been right here earlier than, proper? Twenty-two instances to be precise.
On Saturday evening, Kirby Good misplaced to his mentor as soon as once more, as Georgia fell 41-24 to Bama, the third crushing blow (see 2017, 2018 beneath) up to now few years, once more in a storyline that felt acquainted. Georgia lands a blow, then one other and one other. Alabama seems to be getting ready to despair. After which all of it turns — a twist ending that does not precisely encourage a lot shock.
Within the 2017 season’s title recreation, Georgia led 13-0 on the half. It misplaced.
Within the 2018 SEC championship recreation, Georgia led 21-14 on the half. It misplaced.
On Saturday, Georgia led 24-20 on the half. It misplaced.
And although we weren’t certain Saban would even coach on this recreation till Saturday afternoon, he has now run his document in opposition to former assistants to an astonishing 22-0.
That Crimson Tide quarterback Mac Jones had one other terrific day — posting numbers by 4 weeks that rival his predecessor, Tua Tagovailoa — is one other astounding ft of Alabama wizardry. There was a time when Saban received, yr after yr, with QB mediocrity. Now he churns out All-People like they’re Pez. Jones completed Saturday with a ridiculous 417 yards and 4 TDs to burnish his more and more spectacular Heisman Trophy résumé.
Jones’ success deserves platitudes, however he’s working with a few of the finest offensive gamers within the enterprise. Darth Vader orchestrated a heck of an empire, however dominating the galaxy is simpler with a Demise Star.
The factor is, there have been quite a lot of causes of late to marvel if maybe Alabama has a weak point too. Saturday marked the primary time since 2006 that the Tide allowed 21 factors or extra within the first half of back-to-back video games. It was solely the second time since 2008 that Bama allowed 24 factors or extra in three straight video games. It was the primary time since 2011 that Saban went to the half with no lead in consecutive video games.
And what did all of it imply?
Positive, Alabama has faltered through the years. And sure, LSU provided lightning in a bottle in 2019, leaving Alabama in its mud. These had been pace bumps. The facility construction reshuffled momentarily, just for order to be rapidly restored.
That is what Saturday was all about.
Mac Jones throws an interception on the primary play of the sport, then comes again to throw 4 touchdowns in Alabama’s 41-24 win over Georgia.
Assume you’ve got bought Alabama found out? Good luck stopping Najee Harris and DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle and John Metchie III and … Severely, Georgia was arguably one of the best protection within the nation coming into Saturday’s recreation, and nonetheless the Bulldogs crumbled beneath the burden of the Tide’s gifted talent guys.
Is the protection nonetheless elite? There have been cracks within the armor. However go searching faculty soccer: It is all offense. Alabama is simply consultant of the instances, a unit nonetheless rocking the denim jacket and listening to REO Speedwagon however all of a sudden not trying so cool. However hey, denim and REO Speedwagon are nonetheless fairly nice, and the Crimson Tide confirmed in a dominant second half that they are no pushover.
This wild season nonetheless has its share of twists and turns forward, to make sure. However make no mistake about how the SEC’s energy construction stacks up immediately: It is Alabama — after which a bunch of groups nonetheless looking for the key to Saban’s magic.
Clemson drops 73(!) factors on Georgia Tech
It was an embarrassingly poor efficiency from the vaunted Clemson offense.
Positive, certain, you may level to the primary 55 minutes of motion when Trevor Lawrence and the Tigers hung 73 on Georgia Tech, however that was all window dressing. Let’s deal with a very powerful factor: the ultimate drive.
Clemson gained simply 24 yards on seven performs and its quarterback — who, admittedly, was additionally its punter — accomplished solely two of his three throws. The outcome? A punt. Was Will Spiers purposefully ruining the offense so he may get an opportunity to punt? We will not rule that out.
OK, so perhaps we’re digging a bit right here. What else are you able to do to recap a 73-7 efficiency that was as dominant as Clemson has ever seemed? It was essentially the most factors the Tigers scored since beating Furman 94-0 in 1915. Which begs the query: Why did not Dabo Swinney maintain his foot on the fuel? Certainly, if Lawrence had performed one other couple of drives, Clemson may have hit 100.
The Tigers have now received 37 straight regular-season video games, the third-longest streak within the AP Ballot period, trailing solely the 1953-57 Oklahoma Sooners, who received 45 straight, and the 2000-03 Miami Hurricanes, in response to analysis by ESPN Stats & Data.
Saturday’s victory had Lawrence throwing for 390 yards and 5 touchdowns — within the first half. It had defensive deal with Nyles Pinckney working for a landing. It had fourth-string QB Hunter Helms throwing two TDs of his personal. At one level, Travis Etienne ran for a landing while drinking an Ocean Spray and lip-synching Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams.” (Word: We do not actually perceive TikTok, however we wished to interact with the youthful demographic.)
However, when you’re uninterested in watching all these Clemson blowouts, there’s mild on the finish of the tunnel. Up subsequent is the latest workforce to beat the Tigers within the common season: Syracuse. Simply do not do any analysis on how the Orange are doing now.
The Huge Blue protection dominates
Kentucky did what appeared inconceivable on Saturday. It won in Knoxville. The Wildcats hadn’t gone on the highway to beat Tennessee since “Ghostbusters” was in theaters, “The place’s the meat?” grew to become a catchphrase and the final nice Van Halen album was launched (RIP Eddie).
It was clearly one thing to have fun.
Coach Stoops is a temper 😂 pic.twitter.com/TptBOaY8F8
— ESPN School Soccer (@ESPNCFB) October 17, 2020
And when you did not know any higher, you may assume Kentucky was rolling proper alongside after profitable its previous two video games by a mixed rating of 58-9. And when you had been speaking concerning the protection, you would be proper.
Whereas the Wildcats have received two straight blowouts, they’ve totaled simply 451 yards of offense within the two video games. How unusual is that? Solely two groups up to now decade have had two wins by 20 factors or extra with out topping 300 yards of offense in both recreation in a full season. Kentucky has now performed it in back-to-back weeks.
Credit score Mark Stoops’ great protection, which has 10 takeaways up to now two video games and has matched its personal offense in touchdowns, every with three.
Welcome to the panic room
With the Huge Ten and others getting ready to opening their seasons, a number of groups across the nation are already questioning if their 2020 campaigns have reached a breaking level, together with an unpleasant Saturday for Syracuse, Auburn, Tennessee, Notre Dame and others.
So, is it time to panic?
Seth Williams and Bo Nix look heated on Auburn’s sideline after a failed offensive play.
Step again within the time machine all the way in which to November 2013. Auburn received two miracle video games — on a tipped move in opposition to Georgia and the well-known Kick Six versus Alabama — to advance to the SEC championship and, subsequently, the nationwide title recreation. These had been excessive instances on The Plains. Since then? A seemingly limitless stretch of mediocrity. Actually, Gus Malzahn is now 33-30 versus Energy 5 opponents because the Kick Six, together with Saturday’s latest flub to unranked South Carolina. The larger concern is that supposed savior Bo Nix was once more solely middling, however that belies the actual splits. Nix is 8-1 at dwelling with 11 TDs and no interceptions (in opposition to admittedly below-average competitors), and his numbers away from Jordan-Hare Stadium are downright brutal: 58.5% completions, 5.68 yards/move, 10 touchdowns and 10 picks.
Tennessee QBs: Do not panic.
Jarrett Guarantano threw two first-quarter pick-sixes in Tennessee’s loss to Kentucky, and Vols QBs at the moment are simply 27-of-49 for 203 yards and 4 picks of their previous six quarters of motion. However what are you going to do when you’re Tennessee? Dismissing Guarantano is like bad-mouthing your pal’s ex, understanding full effectively they’re going to get again collectively once more in per week or two. Such was the case for Tennessee followers. After pulling Guarantano following his second INT, Harrison Bailey got here in and instantly threw a decide of his personal. The reality is, this Tennessee workforce was by no means going to win the SEC East on the arm of its QB, however Guarantano nonetheless is the most suitable choice to win a number of extra video games this yr.
Notre Dame receivers: Panic!
Positive, the Preventing Irish got here away with a 12-7 win over Louisville and stay undefeated, however let’s mood any enthusiasm by providing a reminder that their opponents are simply 1-13 versus different FBS foes. A much bigger fear — significantly if the Irish hope to topple Clemson for an ACC title — is the absence of a downfield passing recreation. Ian Book was simply 11-of-19 for 107 yards in opposition to Louisville, and thru three video games, the Irish broad receivers have simply two TDs and three completions of 20 yards or extra. With out discovering some type of risk on the surface, Clemson’s protection shall be licking its chops.
Mike Leach’s offense: Do not panic.
No. 11 Texas A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher commends the protection on its large turnover and blocked punt in a win in opposition to Mississippi State.
After a gradual begin in opposition to Texas A&M, Mike Leach set a brand new mark in his lengthy profession: his longest stretch with no landing. From late within the third quarter in opposition to Arkansas two weeks in the past to early within the third quarter against the Aggies in Saturday’s loss, Mississippi State totaled two factors — coming from a Kentucky security. Even nonetheless, within the three video games after a record-setting opener versus LSU, Leach’s crew has managed simply 30 factors whole. That is fairly dangerous, but it surely’s not precisely out of character for a Leach rebuild. In his first season at Texas Tech, he had 5 video games when scoring lower than 20, and his workforce averaged simply 25 factors per recreation. The remainder of the way in which with the Purple Raiders, he averaged 38 factors per recreation. At Washington State, he had six video games of 20 or fewer factors his first season, and the workforce completed 3-9, averaging simply 20 factors per recreation. The remainder of his profession, he averaged 29. Leach’s system is an easy one, but it surely nonetheless does not usually change a workforce in a single day.
However look exterior the massive names and there are many gamers having large seasons who most likely will not have to make room for a Heisman of their trophy instances. We figured this was time to provide them somewhat love too. These are our prime 5 under-the-radar, probably-not-gonna-happen candidates.
Virginia Tech’s Khalil Herbert hauls in a brief move from Hendon Hooker and takes it to the home to increase the Hokies’ lead over Boston School.
He had solely performed three video games earlier than this weekend, however the Virginia Tech tailback entered Saturday main the nation in all-purpose yards with 739. Towards BC, he added an entire lot extra to these totals. Herbert ran for 143 yards within the Hokies’ 40-14 win, changing into the primary ACC again to do this since Matt Dayes in 2015. For the sport, Herbert completed with 223 all-purpose yards and a landing.
Elevate your hand when you had Coastal Carolina at 4-0 to start out the season. The Chanticleers at the moment are well-positioned to win the Solar Belt after upsetting Louisiana on Wednesday, and McCall is a large purpose. The freshman QB is averaging practically 11 yards per move and has accounted for 14 touchdowns and only one decide thus far.
Can we slice the Heisman in half and provides an element to every of those guys? (Word: The Heisman is crammed with chocolate.) Previously decade, solely Texas Tech has had two totally different QBs throw for 3 touchdowns in the identical recreation a number of instances, in response to ESPN Stats and Data information. Arkansas State has now performed it in every of the previous two weeks. The Purple Wolves’ two-QB system is producing large outcomes, with Bonner and Hatcher combining for 1,834 passing yards and 21 TDs by 5 video games.
With the Knights using a two-game dropping streak, it is perhaps simple to miss their QB, however that might be a mistake. Gabriel was sensible on Saturday in opposition to Memphis, throwing for 601 yards and 5 TDs with no decide, whereas additionally working for an additional rating. For the season, he’s averaging 9.3 yards per move, with 14 TDs and a couple of interceptions.
With all due respect to Grant Morgan, the Arkansas senior linebacker who had 19 tackles, three tackles for loss and a decide on Saturday, there is a good case to be made that the largest distinction within the Razorbacks’ protection in 2020 is the addition of the redshirt freshman security. Catalon had 9 tackles, a decide and a fumble restoration in Saturday’s win, and his 45 tackles places him close to the highest of the SEC leaderboard. A yr in the past, Arkansas’ secondary allowed greater than 8 yards per move. To this point this yr, they’re permitting simply 5.5.
Travis leads the Noles
Jordan Travis scrambles out of the pocket towards the sideline and connects with Camren McDonald for a 12-yard landing.
Even in a win, Florida State does not make it simple. However North Carolina drops on the ultimate two throws of the sport gave the Seminoles their largest win in years, 31-28 over North Carolina, and an enormous second for coach Mike Norvell.
The reality is, Florida State held on. The protection struggled within the second half. The offense shot itself within the foot. And when you’re a pessimist, it will be simple sufficient to search out causes to decrease the celebration. However do not be that particular person. That is FSU, a workforce determined for some excellent news, and on Saturday, it got here.
The distinction for FSU was the quarterback, and Jordan Travis has provided a spark that this system has desperately wanted. He led a comeback win over Jacksonville State three weeks in the past. He gave Notre Dame suits final week. And on Saturday, he was the man nonetheless making performs even when the remainder of the workforce appeared to be crumbling round him.
How good has Travis been?
Because the begin of final season, Florida State has averaged 5.42 yards per play, 7.45 yards per move and three.27 yards per rush when Travis was on the sideline. When he has been on the sphere, the Seminoles common 7 yards per play, 9.3 yards per move and 6.1 yards per rush — practically twice their common with out him.
Syracuse: It is virtually basketball season.
Getting crushed by Liberty at home is dangerous. Having the Flames taunt you on social media is even worse. Can Jim Boeheim repair this one way or the other? There isn’t any likelihood the 2-3 zone would have allowed Liberty to run for 338 yards at dwelling.
Finest bets and dangerous beats
West Virginia backers seemingly weren’t feeling too good about their bets when Kansas jumped out to a 10-0 lead, however in fact, that is nonetheless Kansas we’re speaking about. The Jayhawks appeared happy to name it a day after the early lead, and the Mountaineers rapidly reeled off 38 straight factors. It ought to have been a straightforward cowl as West Virginia kicked off with 1:45 to play, however Pooka Williams Jr. returned the kick 92 yards to the tip zone, leaving all events upset with a push. However hey, not less than it was a pleasant second for anybody who had the over. The TD pushed the whole to 55, protecting the over by 5.
The road closed at 11.5, however with the provision of Pitt QB Kenny Pickett unsure all through the week, Miami had been favored by as a lot as 14 at instances. Relying on while you grabbed it, the ultimate two minutes might need proved awfully irritating. Miami led by 12, drove to the Pitt 15 with 1:48 to play, then ran out the clock by taking a knee the remainder of the way in which. In the event you purchased in at kickoff, there was no stress. However when you had Miami -12 or extra from earlier within the week, you had been seemingly begging Manny Diaz to simply kick a area purpose and run up the rating a tick extra.
It isn’t usually a clever determination to provide 27 factors backing a highway workforce, however Clemson presents extra confidence than most groups. It’s miles much less typically you possibly can flip the channel at halftime while you’re giving 27 on the highway. However once more, Clemson is somewhat totally different. The Tigers hung 52 on Georgia Tech within the first half and cruised to a 73-7 win that was simply the newest simple cowl for the Tigers. Dabo Swinney has made a behavior of taking the primary few weeks of every season as an opportunity to play nutty professor with personnel and the playbook, however when the calendar hits October, there isn’t any stopping Clemson. In video games after the primary Saturday in October, the Tigers at the moment are 17-3 over the previous three seasons, together with protecting 13 of their previous 14 — the lone exception coming in opposition to LSU in final yr’s nationwide championship recreation.
Japanese Kentucky was oh-so near pulling off a shocker at Troy. EKU had already been dealt blowout losses to Marshall and West Virginia in video games in opposition to FBS foes, and it was a 27-point underdog on the highway in opposition to a stable Trojans workforce. However a 4-yard TD move with 21 seconds to go on Saturday gave the Colonels a 29-28 lead that might’ve paid out at +1600, in response to the Caesars Sportsbook by William Hill. However no such luck for what was definitely an enormous membership of EKU backers. Troy returned the following kickoff to its 40, accomplished back-to-back passes of 15 yards after which booted a 47-yard area purpose to win it 31-29. Even higher? The full for the sport was 60, and the sphere purpose resulted in a push.
Overreaction of the week
Trevor Lawrence will get picked off by Zamari Walton within the first quarter as Lawrence would fall 14 passes wanting an ACC document for many consecutive throws with out an interception.
Trevor Lawrence threw an INT, his first in practically a yr. Georgia Tech’s Zamari Walton intercepted a Lawrence throw late within the first quarter Saturday, ending a streak of 366 throws with no decide. That left Lawrence simply 12 shy of matching Russell Wilson’s ACC document. However regardless of this egregious efficiency, we’ll predict the Clemson QB will get previous the interception and nonetheless be fairly good transferring ahead.
Beneath-reaction of the week
Matt Corral’s move will get picked off once more for an additional defensive landing to increase the Razorbacks’ lead once more.
Sam Pittman is the coach of the yr, and it does not matter what occurs from right here. Positive, it might be powerful to vote for a man who may nonetheless end 2-8, however we might do it anyway. Arkansas beat Ole Miss 33-21 on Saturday, profitable its second SEC recreation of the season, one thing that hasn’t occurred since 2016. Actually, from 2017 by 2019, the Razorbacks received simply two video games whole in SEC play. And had it not been for a controversial name per week in the past in opposition to Auburn, Pittman’s workforce could be 3-1 proper now. Wanting UTEP making a late playoff push, there isn’t any likelihood anybody is writing a greater comeback story than Pittman is at Arkansas.
Beneath-the-radar recreation of the week
Brady White tallies 486 yards and 6 touchdowns by the air, and provides one other 30 yards and a rating on the bottom as Memphis beats UCF 50-49 in comeback trend.
Is there ever a nasty UCF-Memphis recreation? In 2017, the American Athletic Convention was settled with a raucous 62-55 UCF win in double additional time, after Memphis had erased a 48-34 fourth-quarter deficit and McKenzie Milton accounted for greater than 550 yards and 6 TDs. In 2018, they performed twice. The primary was a recreation wherein UCF trailed 30-14 late within the third quarter however received 31-30. Then in that yr’s AAC title recreation, UCF used a 21-point fourth quarter to win 56-41 too. So, may the Knights rip the guts out of Memphis once more on Saturday? It certain seemed that approach, as UCF led 35-14 within the second half. But it surely all fell aside as Memphis QB Brady White engineered a ridiculous comeback, taking a 50-49 lead with 1:08 to play, solely to see Dillon Gabriel march the Knights downfield into area purpose vary … however miss from 39 yards out. It marks the primary time UCF has misplaced consecutive video games since November 2016.
Beneath-the-radar (re)play of the week
Louisville had simply scored to take a 7-6 lead in opposition to Notre Dame. Scott Satterfield referred to as for the onside kick, and the Cardinals appeared to execute it superbly, recovering the kick poised to ship a dagger to the Irish. As an alternative, a replay caught Louisville blocking a Notre Dame participant earlier than the ball went 10 yards, and officers threw a post-replay flag, forcing the Cardinals to kick once more. This time, they booted it deep, Notre Dame drove 66 yards on eight performs and Irish scored on an eye-popping Ian E-book run. That proved to be the distinction within the recreation. So, kudos to the officers for getting the play proper — even when it took replay to get there. Then again, additionally they moved the chains after an 8-yard run on first down on the subsequent drive, so maybe maintain the pats on the again to a minimal.