October Takeaways, College Football 2020

-I’ll begin with an admission: I’m still trying to work my way into college football mode. Maybe it’s because other things that I would have been watching earlier in the year (like the NBA Playoffs) were postponed to the time of year I would typically be consumed by college football and have stolen some attention. Perhaps the COVID hysteria seeping into this sport more than the others I watch has made a more significant impact than I had previously cared to let on; it definitely influences week-to-week excitement because the virus narrative practically demands that genuine hype cannot begin until Saturday morning. Whatever the reason, I am carrying into November – especially with Notre Dame vs. Clemson on the 7th – a hope that football season will begin to feel more like football season.

-Alabama is the best football team I’ve seen play this year, with all due respect to Clemson, Ohio State, and even Notre Dame (I’ll get to them momentarily). The two biggest games of the season thus far, to me, were in the SEC, first being Georgia vs. Auburn and then the next Georgia vs. Alabama. The Bulldogs whipped the Tigers, but then got whipped by the Crimson Tide. ‘Bama simply overwhelmed the talented but developing ‘Dawgs. Big games matter to me when you’re trying to judge incomplete resumes on the fly. The other top teams in the conversation have yet to play those big games. November will change that.

-Georgia vs. Alabama offered the kind of big-time game in the middle of the season that surges excitement for college football and keeps the sport at the forefront of diehard fan thoughts through the holidays. Given their recent history – among the Top 17 college football games this century, according to this avid fan, three since 2012 alone are ‘Dawgs-Tide clashes (two SEC and one national title game) – it was the game of the first half of the season on paper. The 2020 game matched the historical hype for one half, at least.

-Notre Dame has to beat Clemson next week. I would have loved to have seen the Irish find a way to beat the Tigers with Trevor Lawrence playing, but word is he’ll be out and Dabo Swinney will turn to the 5-star rated freshman quarterback whose name I won’t have memorized until next Saturday night. With Lawrence, Clemson has become the top program in the game, that NFL player factory like USC was under Pete Carroll, Florida and Ohio State were under Urban Meyer, and Alabama has been under Saban. Without Lawrence, Notre Dame has no excuses. It is what it is. I think the pressure rises on Notre Dame to deliver now and it will be interesting to see how they handle that pressure. Brian Kelly believes in his guys. That’s still the college game’s closest thing to an NFL team out there, starting QB or not. The Fighting Irish have to finally win a game like this. Against the best teams of their era in the 21st century, they always lose – USC, Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson. If they want to work their way off the top of the second tier of powerhouses and into the first tier, it starts next Saturday night in South Bend.

-So much for that awesome Mike Leach and KJ Costello joint narrative in the SEC…

-Do you remember the 2007 season? It was the craziest college football season I have ever seen. With the Irish upending with their worst season of the 2000s, my focus turned to everyone with a shot of contending for the national title – and my goodness were there a lot of teams that nearly made it to the final pair. A two loss team won the national championship. I’ve had 2007 vibes for this season since the start. Look at the Wisconsin Badgers and the narrative flip they endured after seemingly finding the stud QB to help put them over the top in the Big Ten, only to have COVID run wild on BadgerMania. Trevor Lawrence. Saban. ND and several other teams not playing for three weeks. COVID is going to flip momentum in the direction of several teams that may not usually have it pointed their way in such a big picture, national title sense. That’s my prediction. Who steps up when lady luck knocks on their door? I was writing this while watching Oklahoma State hand Texas turnovers and penalties like candy on Halloween, so I guess we know how the Cowboys handle that kind of opportunity. Too bad. I was rooting for their narrative. Who’s narrative to root for next? Cincinnati and the other Group of 5 contenders? Wisconsin?

-How about the Fox college football studio team? It’s been a couple of years now, but that’s the best studio show in the business. Notre Dame’s all-time leading passer (Brady Quinn), a pair of Heisman trophy winners from the mid-2000s USC dynasty in Reggie Bush and Matt Leinart (Quinn’s greatest foes), and three-time national title-winning coach, Urban Meyer. Nobody can touch that for the foursome’s ability to connect with modern college football fans like myself. All of them bring unique insights.

Published by The Doc

I am a husband, father, doctor, writer, and educator and my definite major purpose in life is to be the best version of me possible in each of the five categories that describe me, but to do so I have to be cognizant of my own health and well-being; such is where sports, entertainment, and this site and its associated blog posts and podcasts come into play....sometimes, I need an escape from the real world.

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