How an up-and-down SEC will form the Faculty Soccer Playoff

Go forward, Massive 12 followers, have at it.

It isn’t usually the SEC earns the doubtful distinction of enjoying the worst protection of the weekend — even on an October Saturday when the Purple River Rivalry went into 4 overtimes and produced the very best scoring recreation within the historical past of the rivalry, a 53-45 win for the Sooners.

No, the wild weekend within the SEC topped it as a result of whereas the Massive 12 has already turn out to be an afterthought within the Faculty Soccer Playoff race, the SEC’s top-ranked groups within the Related Press ballot — No. 2 Alabama and No. 4 Florida — confirmed obvious defensive weaknesses that might finally form the choice committee’s prime 4 on Dec. 20.

No. 3 Georgia was the exception on Saturday — seemingly to only about everybody however No. 1 Clemson. Protection is a stark distinction separating each Clemson and Georgia from the remainder of the playoff contenders after six weeks, and it might imply the distinction down the stretch for the SEC’s hopes of getting two groups within the playoff once more.

We’ll be taught extra about that chance shortly — Georgia and Alabama face one another on Saturday. The loser of that recreation shall be beneath strain to win out and hope that undefeated contenders like Notre Dame slip, and that the Pac-12 does not produce an undefeated staff or the Massive Ten does not have each Ohio State and Penn State within the combine.

If No. 1 Clemson and Ohio State observe the script this season, and No. 3 Georgia finds a option to decelerate Mac Jones and Najee Harris on Saturday, who can be the committee’s fourth staff? Alabama actually would not be eradicated from the controversy with a loss to a top-four Georgia team– and it might actually be in with an SEC title — however how the convention title video games play out throughout the Energy 5 would not assure the SEC a second spot, both.

This weekend confirmed that even the very best groups within the SEC are weak, and it is but to be decided how deep the league actually is.

Texas A&M rallied to beat Florida on a last-second subject aim, Alabama wanted each minute of the fourth quarter to seal its win in opposition to unranked Ole Miss, and LSU coach Ed Orgeron referred to as his protection “embarrassing” after a 45-41 loss to Mizzou.

“We could not cease anyone,” Orgeron stated. “Actually a poor exhibiting on protection. We’ve to teach higher, No. 1. It begins with me. Gamers must make performs. We could not cease the run, receivers huge open down the sector. It was embarrassing. We’ve to get it mounted.”

Think about this: Florida, Alabama and LSU mixed to permit 134 factors and 1,776 whole yards on Saturday. The Tide surrendered probably the most of any of them — 48 factors and 647 yards — however was the one one of many trio to win.

Alabama coach Nick Saban lauded his staff’s four-quarter effort and its means to attain at will, but additionally conceded “all people on protection has obtained to play higher.”

“We struggled,” Saban stated. “Did not cease the run, gave up some huge performs on the again finish … could not get the quarterback on the bottom once we wanted to even once we obtained some strain. We had some errors in protection … we simply did not play very effectively.”

Georgia, in the meantime, held Tennessee to minus-1 yard speeding, and has restricted every of its first three opponents to beneath 80 speeding yards. After a lackluster begin, Georgia shut down the Vols within the second half, outscoring them 27-0. In accordance with ESPN’s Stats & Data Group, Georgia pressured quarterback Jarrett Guarantano on 9 of his 28 dropbacks (32 p.c) within the second half. He went 0-for-4 with an interception and was sacked 5 occasions (two misplaced fumbles) on these performs.

Whereas school soccer has been wildly inconsistent thus far, Georgia is among the few groups that has proven regular enchancment offensively whereas sustaining its stingy protection. Florida, in the meantime, has seemingly regressed defensively, and was unable to cease Texas A&M and quarterback Kellen Mond.

“We’re going to must re-evaluate numerous issues defensively,” Florida coach Dan Mullen stated after the sport. “The place we’re at proper now, I’ll have to actually consider some issues with our personnel, the place we’re at, our means to make performs, guarantee that we’ve got all the proper guys on the proper place to have the ability to make the performs we have to to get off the sector. We will not hand over 13 of 15 conversions on the day and count on to win any recreation.”

Florida and Georgia play on Nov. 7, so it will likely be settled on the sector, however ESPN’s Soccer Energy Index favors the Dawgs by 66.7% in that recreation. Georgia coach Kirby Good is aware of the schedule will solely get harder, although, beginning Saturday at Alabama. It is the one remaining recreation on Georgia’s schedule that ESPN’s FPI does not give Georgia greater than a 50% probability to win (34.7%).

“I believe we have got a staff that adjusts effectively, so if any person’s giving us bother with one thing, we’ve got solutions, we do not simply proceed to do the identical factor if we’re battling issues,” Good stated. “I am pleased with the trouble they got here out with within the second half with the momentum the protection created. We’re not executing at a excessive stage and that may trigger issues; that is particular groups, that is defensive execution on fastball exchanges, that is offensively getting lined up, getting in a formation and getting a name. That may be expensive in case you play a staff that may capitalize on them.”

Notre Dame nonetheless hasn’t misplaced

After two weeks off due to a bye week and a coronavirus disruption, Notre Dame obtained off to a shaky begin in opposition to a 1-3 Florida State staff earlier than finally pulling away, 42-26. With Notre Dame, North Carolina and Clemson all nonetheless undefeated, the ACC is in a powerful playoff place. ESPN’s Soccer Energy Index tasks the Irish to win every of its remaining video games by a minimum of 50% excluding Nov. 7 in opposition to Clemson (33.9%). Even when Notre Dame loses that recreation, it may nonetheless avenge the loss within the ACC championship recreation if it had been to get there and face Clemson. The committee would think about each the ACC champion and Clemson.

The Massive Ten countdown is on

In two weeks, school soccer goes to get extra attention-grabbing with the return of the Massive Ten, which begins Oct. 24 and can heighten the playoff debate with the addition of Ohio State. On paper, the Buckeyes are arguably one in every of — if not probably the most — gifted groups within the nation, however in addition they have not performed a recreation since Dec. 28, 2019. They open at house in opposition to Nebraska, and ESPN’s FPI favors Ohio State in every of its eight video games, however how rusty will Ohio State look? What is going to it really feel like enjoying in an empty stadium that sometimes performs host to one of many nation’s finest home-field benefits? Will Ohio State shake off the cobwebs in time for its Halloween journey to Penn State, which may be a CFP contender? How a lot will each day testing assist? Keep in mind, if a Massive Ten participant exams constructive, he’s out for 21 days. Luckily, school soccer followers do not have to attend for much longer for an added layer of intrigue to an already unpredictable season.

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