November Takeaways, College Football 2020

-It feels like the kind of crazy year that could land college football in the Playoff Era its first Cinderella team, to borrow an expression from the much-missed March Madness. Cincinnati is knocking on the door with a rising star head coach and a program that has shown in the last decade-ish that it can run the table in the regular season and put itself in position to compete against the big boys. Coastal Carolina, right near where my folks live, is the story of the season perhaps, with its higher profile driven by an unusual AP poll season that has them in the Top 15. Nevertheless, the American Athletic Conference has charged headlong into Playoff committee members’ collective consciousness for several years, demanding their attention while the national narrative wonders when or if it will get its representative in the CFP. Cincy is the closest yet.

-Notre Dame had a November to remember, starting with the double-OT classic victory over Clemson I commented on more extensively in podcast form. I would not call that win program-validating as some pundits proclaimed, but it was awesome to see the Irish win a tight game against a top-ranked team, regardless of Clemson’s starting QB being out. The program, entering the 21st century’s ’20s, was coming off its best decade since the 1980s. Beating Clemson enhanced the program, not validated it; the Irish are a perennial Top 10 caliber team trying to break into the Top 3-4. What impressed me almost as much as ND beating Clemson was how well they followed up on that win, largely dominating Boston College and North Carolina in games that were labeled as upset alerts. The Irish are playing like a team with that extra something that separates contenders from squads that actually win titles. It could be a very exciting December.

-Florida vs. Alabama is shaping up to be a classic SEC Title game. The Gator offense is having an historic year. The parallels are strong with Kyle Trask and Joe Burrow. Neither was great in his first season as the starter at UF and LSU, respectively, but that second year showed versions of them that few thought could reach such optimal levels. Can Trask cap it off as Burrow did? Eerily similar teams, too. A typically stout defense doing its best Colts with Manning in the 2000s routine, very talented but also having to match endurance with its record-setting offense. LSU’s D figured it out when it mattered most. Can Florida’s, which already cost it a game against A&M? The offense will likely roll into that game with incredible momentum, and Trask will be in the thick of the Heisman race by the time they meet ‘Bama in Atlanta. Mac Jones will be too, virtually heading for New York himself in all likelihood. When’s the last time two Heisman front-running QBs faced in the SEC title game?

-I genuinely feel for the kids in the Pac 12 and Big 10 especially. Starting the season so late and then having so many games cancelled. Honestly, to me, the Pac 12 has not moved my needle of interest. There’s just zero intrigue for me, though is it time to start talking about Chip Kelly being in Year 3 and it not feeling like he’s got them pointed in the right direction? The Big 10 has had some noteworthy happenings, by comparison. Ohio State is a legit national title contender with a special offense and a defense that could very well come around in December and January, again, like LSU’s did in 2019. Michigan and Penn State’s universes certainly didn’t need the 2020 season to be like 2020 itself, but Northwestern and Indiana fanbases are loving life right now. I’m glad the Big 10 came back. They’re decision has enhanced my life a few percentage points. The Pac 12, though, with so many cancellations and such a late start, maybe should’ve just stuck to their original plan and postponed until the spring, especially since it didn’t take a college football aficionado to know that the conference was very unlikely to produce a playoff team (on short notice to boot).

-On COVID in football, I urged some new questions to be asked in my new podcast, The Doc Says

-I think Jimbo Fisher has to close out this 1 loss season. If Texas A&M gets through 2020 with a win over Florida and its only loss to ‘Bama, then perhaps that will buy Jimbo some time to build the kind of momentum he needs to justify his huge contract, as college football revenue lacks the in-person audience to drive it to the kind of peak that allowed for said contract. Fisher’s final seasons at Florida State continue to haunt him, as even now three seasons removed from his last year there, pieces are still being written about the demise of the Seminoles just a few years after they won the 2013 National Championship. I like the A&M program and I’ve generally liked Jimbo for his whole career, but these FSU reports are tough on his narrative. The type of storylines I enjoy most in this sport are when the stains on the coaching resume become hidden by greater successes, hiding the stains behind fresh pages with further accomplishment. We don’t remember Saban for the Dolphins or Brian Kelly for 4-8 in 2016, do we? If Fisher at A&M can turn a quarter-century of mediocrity back into a nationally relevant powerhouse, then all people will remember about Florida State is the 2013 title and 29 straight wins.

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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