20 remaining games that will determine the College Football Playoff

Posted 12 hours ago | By Shiloh Carder

Depending on what team you root for, we are either at the home stretch of the season (like the ACC), hitting the middle of the season (like the SEC or Big 12) or just starting out (the Big Ten). Or if you are a fan of the Pac 12, you are still waiting for the season to start. That in itself makes this the craziest college football season of our lives.  

College football fans always like to say that every game matters. With limited schedules, next to no non-conference games and the staggered starts to the season and that slogan is more meaningful than ever.  So with eight weeks until the College Football Playoff selection committee picks the four teams that will battle, it is a good time to see which games may matter the most. Here are twenty games remaining that will help determine the College Football Playoff.

Ohio State at Penn State (Oct. 31)

Ohio State at Penn State (Oct. 31)
Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

In just the second week of the Big Ten schedule, we may have the conference’s two best teams facing off. Ohio State is the heavy favorite to not only win the league but to get into the College Football Playoff. Penn State just lost a close game at Indiana but still has an outside chance to win the Big Ten title — especially if they can win this game. Ohio State has won seven of the last eight in the series but three of the last four were decided by three points or less. 

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BYU at Boise State (Nov. 6)

BYU at Boise State (Nov. 6)
Rick Bowmer/Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports

BYU is climbing the rankings but they really haven’t played any big names. This game at Boise State is their best opportunity to show off how good they are. Sure, the Broncos are playing a limited schedule and we’re not sure if this would be an eye-opening win for the Cougars but it is all BYU has. If the Cougars go undefeated and can blast Boise State on the Smurf-turf then it gives them some sort of chip to play in the College Football Playoff if things in the Power 5 get crazy. 

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Florida at Georgia (Nov. 7)

Florida at Georgia (Nov. 7)
Matt Stamey-USA TODAY Sports

The Florida-Georgia rivalry will be played on its latest date in nearly 30 years. Both the Gators and Bulldogs have already lost a game this season but they still are in the mix to get into the playoff. Winning this game will go a long way to determining the SEC East champion and who would likely get to play Alabama in the title game. Two physical teams playing for two tough-minded coaches with quarterbacks that have great stories. Interestingly, each team has gone on alternating three game winning streaks over the last 12 years. Georgia has won the last three games.

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SEC threatens fines, suspensions for COVID-19 violations

By Zac Wassink | Last updated 10/8/20

SEC commissioner Greg Sankey has sent a memo to league athletic directors and coaches threatening fines and suspensions if they and/or their programs fail to comply with health and safety protocols for completing the college football season amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“The imposition of any reduction in Conference revenue for failure to substantially comply with or repeated disregard of the SEC masking requirement will be determined at the Commissioner’s discretion,” the memo reads, per Alex Scarborough of ESPN. 

“In addition, individuals who fail to comply with or disregard the masking requirement could be subject to penalties, including but not limited to, suspension for a specified period.”

Scarborough also reported staff or other personnel who fail to comply with guidelines could receive a $100,000 reduction in conference revenue, with fines increasing by $100,000 for each violation. 

The memo comes in the wake of multiple SEC coaches failing to properly wear masks or other face coverings on sidelines during games, and as the Tennessee Titans of the NFL continue to battle a coronavirus outbreak that reportedly has some clubs wanting the Titans to forfeit at least this Sunday’s game against the Buffalo Bills because some Tennessee players broke protocols by hosting a workout after team personnel tested positive for the virus. 

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Early Favorites To Win College Basketball’s Power Conferences

Everything in college basketball changes when conference play begins.

Those in power have done wonders to drum up interest in early-season action, with big name teams being featured in tournaments and showcases for the first few months of the season. But blowout wins over cupcake opponents and sloppy early-season play are littered throughout that part of the schedule.

Conference play brings rivalries, road games with student-sections, and a landslide of upsets. In short, it’s the reason we love college basketball. On top of that, succeeding in one of America’s toughest conferences is the best way to prove yourself before March Madness tips off.

With that in mind, here are the early favorites to win the six biggest conferences in college hoops.

ACC – Duke

The Blue Devils might be the boring and obvious pick, but at this point in the season, they are also the most qualified. Duke’s overtime home loss to Stephen F. Austin was a bad mishap, but it’s their only blemish so far. Aside from that slip-up, Duke has impressed with wins over Michigan State, Kansas, Georgetown and Miami.

The ACC’s other top contender, Louisville, lost at home to Florida State this weekend and only gets to play Duke once this season — a road game at Cameron Indoor. Advantage to the Blue Devils.

Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Big East – Butler

It’s always somewhat shocking to pencil anyone into a Big East title that is not Villanova, yet Butler’s play so far this season has been eye-popping enough to earn this level of respect. The Bulldogs have just one loss, by one point at 4th-ranked Baylor.

Head coach LaVall Jordan has Butler winning games on the defensive end of the floor. The Bulldogs rank fourth in defensive efficiency, per KenPom, thanks to top-ten performances in 3-point percentage allowed, effective field goal percentage allowed and defensive rebounding rate. Butler fights to get stops and follows them with rebounds.

Offensively, everything churns through senior guard Kamar Baldwin. His 14.7 point per game average doesn’t fully explain how capable he is of taking over a game in crunch time.

Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Big Ten – Michigan State

A few weeks ago, when Ohio State was 9-0 and ranked in the top three in the AP Poll, this answer would have been different. Back then, Michigan State was just 6-3 and clearly had some issues on the offensive end.

Since December 8, Ohio State has lost three of its last five games, while Michigan State has sparked a six-game winning streak. The Spartans are now two games ahead of the Buckeyes in the loss column in Big Ten play and sit a full 1.5 games ahead of the rest of the conference in the standings.

Make no mistake — the Big Ten is college basketball’s toughest conference and will be an absolute battle all season long. Even so, any team eager to compete for the title will need to go into the Breslin Center in East Lansing and win. With Tom Izzo on the sidelines and Cassius Winston patrolling the court for Sparty, that’s not likely to happen much, if at all, this season.

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Originally posted on Larry Brown Sports
By Shane McNichol  |  Last updated 1/7/20

Conference Schedules Start in NCAA Football This Weekend

Written by Heather Dinich at ESPN.com

After just two weeks, three blockbuster nonconference games have already impacted the College Football Playoff race.

No. 2 Oklahoma earned what could end up being the best nonconference win of the season at then-No. 2 Ohio State. That was a true road game against what could be the Big Ten champion. No. 1 Alabama’s season-opening win over No. 11 Florida State in Atlanta will continue to carry weight with the selection committee because the Seminoles were at full strength and had starting quarterback Deondre Francois for the majority of the game. And No. 3 Clemson’s win over No. 15 Auburn will differentiate its résumé from that of another contender that didn’t play an equally difficult nonconference opponent.

Week 3, however, shifts the focus to conference play.

No. 24 Florida hosts No. 23 Tennessee in a game that will help determine the SEC East, and Clemson travels to No. 14 Louisville in a critical ACC Atlantic Division matchup. No. 12 LSU travels to Mississippi State for its first conference road game of the season, an important matchup in the SEC West.

“We can’t win the division this week, but neither can they,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said. “We can’t lose it this week, but neither can they. But man, you can get off to a great start and really stay in control of your destiny within the division, and that’s what both teams want to do. We’re going to work our tails off to see if we can get off to a good start in conference play.”

While there are important nonconference games this week — looking at you, Texas and USC — they are only a piece of the puzzle, and teams seem to be able to overcome nonconference losses more easily than league losses, especially in a tight division race. Any Power 5 team with a shot to win its conference title has a chance at the top four, and USC’s win over Stanford last week could turn out to be more important than a win over Texas on Saturday.

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Auburn AD Wants To Change Divisions

Written by Tom Fornelli at CBS Sports.com

It’s not just speculation anymore: Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs wants the Tigers moved to the SEC East, and he’s going to bring it up during the SEC’s spring meetings this week.

“It makes more sense for Auburn from the standpoint of the demographics of our students, not our student-athletes,” Jacobs told Brandon Marcello of 247Sports. “Six or eight years ago, I looked at all the demographics. Most of all our students come from Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, South Carolina, Kentucky, a few from Mississippi, very few from Louisiana. Since we went to the national championship twice, we’ve got more geographical students from all over the place, but still, the majority of our students come from the southeast.”

While Jacobs brings up the demographics of his school, the logic of Auburn being in the East is also evident in the school’s rivals. Of the five SEC schools that could be considered Auburn’s rivals, only two are in the SEC West: Alabama and LSU. Florida, Georgia and Tennessee all reside in the East, and Auburn hasn’t played the Vols since 2013 or the Gators since 2011. In fact, the Florida-Auburn rivalry used to be one of the best in the SEC.

Furthermore, the idea of Auburn in the East just makes sense geographically. The only schools in the SEC located further west than Missouri are Arkansas and Texas A&M, yet Missouri plays in the SEC East. Meanwhile Auburn is a shorter drive to Athens, Georgia, than it is to Oxford, Mississippi.

As for how serious Jacobs is about the move, he also said on Wednesday that he’d actually be willing to move the date of the annual Iron Bowl with Alabama if needed in order to accommodate the move, but he would also want to make sure Auburn keeps its annual rivalry game.

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Why The SEC Is No Longer King Of College Football

Written by Stewart Mandel at FoxSports.com

To get to his office during his three-year tenure at Alabama, Lane Kiffin had to walk by a framed picture of Terrence Cody’s game-saving field goal block to beat Kiffin’s 2009 Tennessee team. It became a daily reminder of not just a heartbreaking moment but also a time when the SEC was clearly the nation’s most dominant conference.

Urban Meyer and Tim Tebow were still at Florida, Nick Saban and Mark Ingram at Alabama. A.J. Green was catching passes for Mark Richt at Georgia, Patrick Peterson was locking down defenders for LSU’s Les Miles and Eric Berry was roaming the secondary for Kiffin’s Vols.

And leaping right behind Cody on that famed field goal block? None other than Julio Jones.

“I don’t claim to be the best historian of the SEC,” said Kiffin. “But I have a hard time imagining there was ever a stronger roster of players and coaches on all the teams then when we got to the SEC (in ’09).”

Five years later, in 2014, the former USC head coach returned to the conference to be Saban’s offensive coordinator. Soon he began noticing the conference had changed.

“(At Tennessee), every week when you went to game plan, there was a dominant, dynamic player in the front seven you had to game plan around. That’s very rare,” said FAU’s head coach. “When I came back the second time, the first year, there were still good coaches and similar kind of players, though not quite as strong.” By 2016, he said, “it was clear that what Nick Saban was doing the previous three to four years, just dominating recruiting, had changed the conference.”

The once ultra-deep league was now Alabama and everybody else.

Outside of the 14-1 Tide, which came within one second of winning yet another national championship, no other team in the conference finished with fewer than four losses in 2016. A league that in 2012 placed five teams in the final AP top 10 had its second-highest team, 8-4 LSU, finish 13th. And a conference that went 65-32 in bowl games during its dominant 2006-15 run went 6-7 this past postseason.

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When did the ACC become a football conference?

Written by InhaleSports Contributor Chateau Mangaroo

After Monday’s come from behind win against SEC powerhouse Alabama, the national champion Clemson Tigers have proven the ACC deserves to be called a football conference.

With an 8-3 bowl record prior to the championship game, the ACC’s success was the biggest surprise for the 2016-2017 bowl season. Not only did the conference have a repeat contender for the national title, they beat the Big 12 and the SEC, who had bowl records of 4-2 and 6-6 respectively. This is a surprising shift since the ACC is really known for its basketball juggernauts (Tobacco Road rings a bell) and not its football programs.

SB Nation’s Bill Connelly used his S&P+ Ratings scheme to highlight the ACC’s strength for this year. In fact, the ratings were so close between the ACC and SEC, Connelly said, “In this way, bowl season is actually important. This year, it could actually determine superiority between these two nearly tied conferences.”

Sports Illustrated’s Stewart Mandel brought up one interesting point for the ACC’s shift in football power: the coaching staff. While the SEC has seen a decrease in quality coaches, the ACC has seen the exact opposite. In his January 2017 article. Mandel gave well deserved accolades to Clemson’s Dabo Swinney and Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher. With good reason, he also mentioned how Mark Richt, a former Florida State offensive coordinator and University of Georgia coach, turned around the University of Miami’s program. He didn’t forget to give kudos to Virginia Tech’s Justin Fuente, Louisville’s Bobby Petrino and North Carolina’s Larry Fedora for turning around those programs. Speaking of UNC, who could forget that final kick which gave the Tar Heels a hard fought victory over the Noles last October?

Many thought ACC football was a joke because it lacked strength of schedule and a conference play-off system. But in 1991, the ACC changed the game when Florida State joined, who proceeded to dominated the ACC and the national rankings for years. During the early 90s, conference opponents like NCAA champions Clemson, were practice games for the Seminoles.

Then a funny thing happened: In 1995, a Tiki and Ronde Barber led University of Virginia squad handed the Noles their first conference loss in years. Not long after, Tommy Bowden, former FSU coach Bobby Bowden’s son and former Clemson coach, led the Tigers to a victory or two over the Seminoles and other teams like Wake Forest, NC State, and UNC followed suit.

In Braden Gall’s 2014 article, Gall gave an in-depth look at the ACC from its inception in 1953 to its current make-up. Gall noted in 2004, the ACC added University of Miami and Virginia Tech, two teams who had played on the national title stage, to its lineup. He also said when the conference added Boston College in 2005, it was able to split into divisions and host a title game. In 2013, the conference added the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Syracuse, adding more depth to the conference. In 2014, Maryland left the ACC in for the Big 10 (like we wanted them anyway) and was replaced by the University of Louisville. Since leaving the ACC, Maryland has gone 16-20 over three seasons, while Louisville has had a Heisman winner and gone 26-12. Adding these competitive teams and a conference play-off system have given legitimacy to ACC football. 

So while everyone is contemplating if Alabama is going to beat Florida State in the 2017 Chick-fil-A Kickoff classic, they should heed the words of former FSU defensive back Byron Capers, “Don’t talk crap about the ACC.”

SEC Bowl Projections

Written by Adam Sparks at The Tennesseean.com

Twelve of the SEC’s 14 teams will play in bowls, but pairing a school with a game can get complicated.

After the top three bowls, the next six SEC bowls are ranked evenly in the same group, including Music City Bowl, Outback Bowl, TaxSlayer Bowl, Belk Bowl, Liberty Bowl and Texas Bowl. After that, the Birmingham Bowl gets the next choice, followed by the Independence Bowl.

Here are the possible bowl scenarios and why, listed in order of first choice to final choice.

Peach Bowl

Atlanta, Dec. 31

Who goes and why?: Alabama (12-0, 8-0 SEC) or no SEC team. The Peach Bowl is the College Football Playoff semifinal this year. If Alabama wins the SEC title game, it’s in as the No. 1 seed.

Sugar Bowl

New Orleans, Jan. 2

Who goes and why?: If Alabama wins the SEC Championship Game, Auburn (8-4, 5-3) automatically gets the Sugar Bowl bid as highest remaining team in the College Football Playoff rankings. If Florida (8-3, 6-2) upsets Alabama in the SEC title game, then the Gators get the Sugar Bowl as the conference champion. Alabama would still make the playoff.

Citrus Bowl 

Orlando, Fla., Dec. 31

Who goes and why?: Florida or LSU (7-4, 5-3). The Citrus Bowl gets first pick after the College Football Playoff and Sugar Bowl selections. Florida is the likely choice because Gainesville is about 100 miles away from Orlando, and the Gators are the SEC East Division champion. But Florida played in the Citrus Bowl last year, so LSU could be picked to avoid a repeat.

Outback Bowl

Tampa, Fla., Jan. 2

Who goes and why?: LSU or Florida, whichever is not chosen by the Citrus Bowl. Both teams would bring plenty of fans, and LSU has the built-in storyline of kicking off the Ed Orgeron era as the permanent coach rather than interim.

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Alabama vs Tennessee Preview

Written by Mike Strange at Knoxville News Sentinel 

When you think of recent Alabama football, it starts with the tailbacks. Mark Ingram and Derrick Henry won Heismans. Tennessee thinks of Trent Richardson and T.J. Yeldon, too.

The Vols, however, have figured out by now that danger lurks in the skies as well.

As Tennessee gets prepared for No. 1 Alabama’s visit Saturday (TV: WVLT, 3:30 p.m.), the Vols can expect an air raid from offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin. It makes sense. The Crimson Tide has good receivers, the Vols have a suspect secondary.

Since Cam Sutton’s ankle injury against Ohio on Sept. 17, Tennessee has struggled to get two proficient cornerbacks on the field. Florida passed for 296 yards.Georgia threw TD passes of 50 and 43 yards.

Last week, Texas A&M hit six pass plays of at least 20 yards in a 45-38 double-overtime win.

“We played a very skilled offense last week and we’re playing a very skilled offense again this week,” UT defensive coordinator Bob Shoop said Wednesday. “So we’re just trying to put players in positions where they can be successful.”

Alabama receivers have found themselves in positions to be successful throughout their nine-game winning streak against Tennessee that began in 2007.

Four of the top 15 receiving days by UT opponents have been registered in that friendly-sky era.

Amari Cooper’s 224 yards in 2014 ranks second. (It was No. 1 for a week. South Carolina’s Pharoh Cooper bumped him down a notch the next game).

Julio Jones snagged 221 yards worth in 2010, to rank fourth.

DJ Hall’s 185 yards in 2007 is sixth best.

Cooper went for 162 in 2012, 15th on the list.

Who’s got next?

Well, there are candidates. Kiffin, in his third year directing Nick Saban’s offense, brings four career 1,000-yard receivers to Neyland Stadium.

Sophomore Calvin Ridley already has 123 career catches, including 34 this year. Junior ArDarius Stewart (1,174) yards and tight end O.J. Howard (1,317 yards) had big days against Tennessee last year.

Gehrig Dieter had a big day against the Vols last year, too – for Bowling Green.  Dieter had seven catches for 133 yards in the season opener. He took the graduate transfer route to Alabama for his final season.

“Ridley is really good,” Shoop said. “Stewart is really good. They get the ball to the backs at the right times. Howard and 84 (Hale Hentges) are both really good tight ends. It makes you anxious putting a linebacker on a guy like that.”

Sutton was an All-SEC-caliber corner who could handle his side of the field. Malik Foreman, who had been playing nickelback, has started the past two games at corner. He never took a rep there during spring or fall camp, Shoop said.

At the other corner, Emmanuel Moseley and Justin Martin have had ups and downs. Freshman Baylen Buchanan has been tested – to good effect by Texas A&M — because of his inexperience. Another freshman, Marquill Osborne, saw late action at Texas A&M.

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College Football Rewind For Week 6

Written by Ralph D. Russo at NCAA.com

If the first six weeks of the college football season have taught fans anything, it’s this: Never turn off a Tennessee game.

The Volunteers remained America’s most interesting college football team, though not undefeated. Navy upset the playoff race and Charlie Strong had another bad, bad day.

Thoughts, takedowns and takeaways from Week 6:

1. If you were looking forward to a couple of months of talking about whether No. 6 Houston could or should be selected for the College Football Playoff, Navy just ruined it for you. The dream is not quite dead for the Cougars, but it is on life support.

2. Best-case scenario for Houston: 12-1 with an American Athletic Conference championship game victory against a USF team with only one loss coming in. Oklahoma wins the Big 12. Louisville, which plays at Houston in November, doesn’t lose another game. Could that resume be good enough to get Houston into the playoff if a bunch of Power Five conference teams finish the regular season with multiple losses.

3. The other big winner with Houston losing: No. 19 Boise State and Western Michigan. Both those unbeaten Broncos will be competing with the Cougars for the Group of Five’s automatic bid to a New Year’s Six Bowl.

4. Because this is college football, somewhere there is at least one Houston fan complaining that Tom Herman is all hype and just might not be the guy to get the Cougars over the top.

5. Speaking of Herman, let’s talk Texas.

6. Charlie Strong, a former defensive coordinator, took over those duties at Texas this week. TheLonghorns allowed 672 yards in a loss to Oklahoma , the third consecutive game of more than 500 and five yards shy of the most the Sooners have ever gained against Texas. So who gets replaced now?

7. At some point the negativity around a program can become so overwhelming, success seems impossible. Texas seems very close to reaching that point.

8. How will No. 9 Tennessee have anything left for No. 1 Alabama next week after emotional rallies against Florida, Georgia and now Texas A&M? The Vols couldn’t complete the deal against the Aggies.

9. Hard to see the Vols beating the Crimson Tide in Knoxville, but chances are decent it is an entertaining.

10. Alabama is so good it is driving fans of other teams a little crazy.

11. Texas A&M had been 5-0 each of the last three seasons, but couldn’t get to 6-0. The Aggies now have a week off before playing at Alabama with house money. Trevor Knight, who accounted for five touchdowns against the Vols, does have a history of success against the Crimson Tide.Small sample size, but still.

12. Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said he wasn’t trying to give Jabrill Peppers a chance to shine in his home state of New Jersey, but there was no doubt the prime-time blowout of Rutgers was the do-it-all star’s opportunity to get some Heisman Trophy traction.

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