You come on the king, you greatest 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 purported to characteristic a wounded Alabama. It was every week of turmoil amid Saban’s COVID-19 check that, apparently, was a false positive. It was every week by which the protection was rightfully questioned following a dismal efficiency towards Lane Kiffin and Ole Miss final weekend. It was every week by which 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 occasions to be precise.
On Saturday evening, Kirby Sensible misplaced to his mentor as soon as once more, as Georgia fell 41-24 to Bama, the third crushing blow (see 2017, 2018 beneath) prior 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 on the point of 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 positive Saban would even coach on this recreation till Saturday afternoon, he has now run his report towards former assistants to an astonishing 22-0.
That Crimson Tide quarterback Mac Jones had one other terrific day — posting numbers via 4 weeks that rival his predecessor, Tua Tagovailoa — is one other astounding toes of Alabama wizardry. There was a time when Saban received, yr after yr, with QB mediocrity. Now he churns out All-Individuals 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 greatest offensive gamers within the enterprise. Darth Vader orchestrated a heck of an empire, however dominating the galaxy is less complicated with a Demise Star.
The factor is, there have been quite a lot of causes of late to surprise if maybe Alabama has a weak spot 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 and not using a lead in consecutive video games.
And what did all of it imply? Nada.
Positive, Alabama has faltered over time. And sure, LSU supplied lightning in a bottle in 2019, leaving Alabama in its mud. These have been pace bumps. The ability 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.
Suppose you have obtained Alabama found out? Good luck stopping Najee Harris and DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle and John Metchie III and — critically, Georgia was arguably the perfect protection within the nation coming into Saturday’s recreation, and nonetheless the Bulldogs crumbled below the load of the Tide’s gifted ability 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 occasions, a unit nonetheless rocking the denim jacket and listening to REO Speedwagon however abruptly not wanting 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 certain. However make no mistake about how the SEC’s energy construction stacks up right this moment. 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, positive, 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 concentrate on an important 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 might get an opportunity to punt? We won’t 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 regarded? 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 hold his foot on the gasoline? Certainly if Lawrence had performed one other couple drives, Clemson might 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 2000-03 Miami, in accordance with analysis by ESPN Stats & Data.
Saturday’s victory had Lawrence throwing for 390 yards and 5 touchdowns — within the first half. It had defensive sort out 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-syncing Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams.” (Notice: We do not actually perceive TikTok however we wished to interact with the youthful demographic.)
However, for those who’re uninterested in watching all these Clemson blowouts, there’s gentle on the finish of the tunnel. Up subsequent is the latest crew to beat the Tigers within the common season: Syracuse. Simply do not do any analysis on how the Orange are doing now.
The Large Blue protection dominates
Kentucky did what appeared unimaginable on Saturday. It won in Knoxville. The Wildcats hadn’t gone on the street 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 rejoice.
Coach Stoops is a temper 😂 pic.twitter.com/TptBOaY8F8
— ESPN Faculty Soccer (@ESPNCFB) October 17, 2020
And for those who 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 for those who have been speaking in regards to 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 prior 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 executed it in back-to-back weeks.
Credit score Mark Stoops’ large protection, which has 10 takeaways prior to now two video games and has matched its personal offense in touchdowns, every with three.
Welcome to the panic room
With the Large Ten and others on the point of 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 best way to November 2013. Auburn received two miracle video games — on a tipped cross towards Georgia and the notorious Kick Six vs. Alabama — to advance to the SEC championship and, subsequently, the nationwide title recreation. These have been excessive occasions on The Plains. Since then? A seemingly limitless stretch of mediocrity. Actually, Gus Malzahn is now 33-30 vs. Energy 5 opponents for the reason that Kick Six, together with Saturday’s latest flub to unranked South Carolina. The larger concern is that supposed savior Bo Nix was once more fully middling, however that belies the true splits. Nix is 8-1 at residence with 11 TDs and no interceptions (vs. admittedly below-average competitors), and his numbers away from Jordan-Hare are downright brutal: 58.5% completions, 5.68 yards/cross, 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 final six quarters of motion. However what are you going to do for those who’re Tennessee? Dismissing Guarantano is like bad-mouthing your pal’s ex, figuring out full nicely they will get again collectively once more in every 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. Reality is, this Tennessee crew was by no means going to win the SEC East on the arm of its QB, however Guarantano nonetheless is the best choice to win a number of extra video games this yr.
Notre Dame receivers: Panic!
Positive, the 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 its opponents are simply 1-13 vs. different FBS foes. An even bigger fear — notably 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 towards Louisville, and thru three video games, the Irish huge receivers have simply two TDs and three completions of 20 yards or extra. With out discovering some kind of menace on the skin, Clemson’s protection can be licking its chops.
Mike Leach’s offense: Do not panic.
No. 11 Texas A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher commends the protection on their huge turnover and blocked punt in a win towards Mississippi State.
After a gradual begin towards Texas A&M, Mike Leach set a brand new mark in his lengthy profession — his longest stretch and not using a landing. From late within the third quarter towards 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 vs. LSU, Leach’s crew has managed simply 30 factors complete. That is fairly dangerous, however it’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 crew averaged simply 25 factors per recreation. The remainder of the best way with the Purple Raiders, he averaged 38 factors per recreation. At Washington State, he had six video games of 20 or much less factors his first season, and the crew completed 3-9, averaging simply 20 factors per recreation. The remainder of his profession, he averaged 29. Leach’s system is a straightforward one, however it nonetheless would not sometimes change a crew in a single day.
However look exterior the large names, and there are many gamers having huge seasons who in all probability will not must make room for a Heisman of their trophy instances. We figured this was a superb time to provide them a bit love, too. These are our prime 5 under-the-radar, probably-not-gonna-happen candidates.
Virginia Tech’s Khalil Herbert hauls in a brief cross from Hendon Hooker and takes it to the home to increase the Hokies’ lead over Boston Faculty.
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. In opposition to 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 for those who had Coastal Carolina at 4-0 to begin the season. The Chanticleers at the moment are nicely positioned to win the Solar Belt after upsetting Louisiana on Wednesday, and McCall is a large cause why. The freshman QB is averaging practically 11 yards per cross and has accounted for 14 touchdowns and only one decide to this point.
Can we slice the Heisman in half and provides an element to every of those guys? (Notice: The Heisman is crammed with chocolate.) Within the final decade, solely Texas Tech has had two completely different QBs throw for 3 touchdowns in the identical recreation a number of occasions, in accordance with ESPN Stats and Data. Arkansas State has now executed it in every of the final two weeks. The Purple Wolves two-QB system is producing huge outcomes, with Bonner and Hatcher combining for 1,834 passing yards and 21 TDs via 5 video games.
With the Knights driving a two-game shedding streak, it is perhaps simple to miss their QB, however that might be a mistake. Gabriel was sensible Saturday towards Memphis, throwing for 601 yards and 5 TDs and not using a decide, whereas working for an additional rating. For the season, he is averaging 9.3 yards-per-pass with 14 TDs and a couple of interceptions.
All due respect to Grant Morgan, the senior linebacker who had 19 tackles, three tackles for loss and a decide Saturday, however there is a good case to be made that the most important 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 cross. Up to now 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 would not make it simple. However two 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.
Reality is, Florida State held on. The protection struggled within the second half. The offense shot itself within the foot. And for those who’re a pessimist, it might be simple sufficient to seek out causes to decrease the celebration. However do not be that particular person. That is FSU, a crew determined for some excellent news, and on Saturday, it got here.
The distinction for FSU was the quarterback, and Jordan Travis has supplied 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 crew gave the impression 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 cross and three.27 yards per rush when Travis was on the sideline. When he’s been on the sector, the Seminoles common 7 yards per play, 9.3 yards per cross 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 by some means? There isn’t any likelihood the 2-3 zone would have allowed Liberty to run for 338 yards at residence.
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 after all, 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 simple cowl as West Virginia kicked off with 1:45 to play, however Pooka Williams Jr. returned the kick 92 yards to the top zone, leaving all events disenchanted with a push. However hey, at the least it was a pleasant second for anybody who had the over. The TD pushed the entire to 55, masking the over by 5.
The road closed at 11.5, however with the supply of Pitt QB Kenny Pickett unsure all through the week, Miami had been favored by as a lot as 14 at occasions. Relying on whenever you grabbed it, the ultimate two minutes may 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 best way. If you happen to purchased in at kickoff, there was no stress. However for those who had Miami -12 or extra from earlier within the week, you have been seemingly begging Manny Diaz to simply kick a area objective and run up the rating a tick extra.
It isn’t sometimes a smart determination to provide 27 factors backing a street crew, however Clemson gives extra confidence than most groups. It is much less usually you possibly can flip the channel at halftime whenever you’re giving 27 on the street. However once more, Clemson is a bit completely different. The Tigers hung 52 on Georgia Tech within the first half and cruised to a 73-7 win that was simply the most recent 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 prior to now three seasons, together with masking 13 of their final 14 — the lone exception coming towards LSU in final yr’s nationwide championship recreation.
Japanese Kentucky was oh-so-close to pulling off a shocker at Troy. EKU had already been dealt blowout losses to Marshall and West Virginia in video games towards FBS foes, and it was a 27-point underdog on the street towards a stable Trojans crew. However a 4-yard TD cross with 21 seconds to go Saturday gave the Colonels a 29-28 lead that might’ve paid out at +1600, in accordance with the Caesars Sportsbook by William Hill. However no such luck for what was actually 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 objective to win it, 31-29. Even higher? The full for the sport was 60, and the sector objective 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 report for many consecutive throws with out an interception.
Trevor Lawrence threw an interception, 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 and not using a decide. That left Lawrence simply 12 shy of matching Russell Wilson’s ACC report. However regardless of this egregious efficiency, we will predict the Clemson QB goes to maneuver previous the interception and nonetheless can be fairly good shifting ahead.
Below-reaction of the week
Matt Corral’s cross 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 would not matter what occurs from right here. Positive, it might be robust to vote for a man who might 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 via 2019, the Razorbacks received simply two video games complete in SEC play. And had it not been for a controversial name every week in the past towards Auburn, Pittman’s crew can be 3-1 proper now. In need of UTEP making a late playoff push, there isn’t any likelihood anybody is writing a greater comeback story than Pittman is at Arkansas.
Below-the-radar recreation of the week
Brady White tallies 486 yards and 6 touchdowns via the air, and provides one other 30 yards and a rating on the bottom as Memphis beats UCF 50-49 in comeback style.
Is there ever a foul UCF-Memphis recreation? In 2017, the American was settled with a raucous 62-55 UCF win in double additional time, when Memphis 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 the place 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, might the Knights rip the center out of Memphis once more Saturday? It sured regarded that manner as UCF led 35-14 within the second half, however it 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 field-goal vary … however miss from 39 yards out. It marks the primary time UCF has misplaced consecutive video games since November, 2016.
Below-the-radar (re)play of the week
Louisville had simply scored to take a 7-6 lead towards Notre Dame. Scott Satterfield known as for the on-side kick, and the Cardinals appeared to execute it superbly, recovering the kick poised to ship a dagger to the Irish. As a substitute, 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 scored on an eye-popping Ian Guide 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. Alternatively, additionally they moved the chains after an 8-yard run on first down on the subsequent drive, so maybe hold the pats on the again to a minimal.