10 things I'm absolutely overreacting to after Week 8 in the SEC
Did Kyle Trask just win the Heisman?
Did Penn State and Michigan just lose again? Are a pair of blue-blood basketball programs really going to cause some chaos in the football Playoff race?
Those are among the 10 things I’m overreacting to after another altered Saturday Down South in and around the SEC.
10. Kyle Trask: Give the man a statue already!
No, Trask can’t drive the ball like Feleipe Franks, but that’s probably a bit unfair. I’m not sure anybody in college football has a stronger arm than Franks, who showed it off again Saturday with this effortless sideline rocket to Mike Woods for a 47-yard TD.
But this isn’t an NFL Draft discussion.
As a college quarterback, Kyle Trask is playing like he wants his own statue outside Steve Spurrier-Florida Field.
Trask entered Saturday tied for the national lead with 22 TD passes (in 5 games). He added 5 more in the first half against Arkansas. He finished with 6 — giving him an SEC record 28 TD passes in his first 6 games.
If you’re keeping track, that’s 6 consecutive games with at least 4 TD passes.
Danny Wuerffel set Florida’s single-season record with 39 TD passes during the Gators’ 1996 national championship season. Wuerrfel also won the Heisman that season.
As crazy as it sounds, Trask is ahead of pace to break Wuerffel’s record if Florida plays 10 games.
With Mac Jones, Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields all watching from home, without question, Trask took control of the Heisman race Saturday night.
9. LSU shouldn’t play Florida OR Alabama … unless …
… everything is pushed back. The SEC title game, the Playoff semifinals, the championship game, etc.
To recap how we got here:
LSU’s game against Florida was postponed earlier and tentatively rescheduled for Dec. 12.
LSU’s game against Alabama was postponed and … now, what?
Everybody had a scheduling suggestion on Twitter, which probably made Greg Sankey chuckle.
My suggestion — the only fair one and the one I believe we’ll ultimately get: Neither team plays LSU unless that game will impact the division race (or, again, everything gets pushed back). We’ll know that answer no later than Dec. 5, maybe sooner if Texas A&M and/or Georgia lose before then.
In reality, Alabama and Florida have a 2-game lead on Texas A&M and Georgia, respectively, because each owns the head-to-head tiebreak. Alabama and Florida would have to lose 2 more games to give Texas A&M or Georgia a shot at the division title. (Technically, Auburn still has a chance, too, but …)
That’s not going to happen. You know it. I know it.
But if Bama or Florida loses another game, then the possibility of a 2nd loss exists, which means the LSU game has to be made up on Dec. 12. The real headache is if Alabama and Florida both lose a game, therefore creating the need for both to play LSU to settle the divisions.
It’s 2020, so of course that could happen.
What I think happens is Florida and Alabama both wrap up division titles on Dec. 5.
At that point, asking Florida to play LSU on Dec. 12 while Alabama sits at home resting for the SEC Championship Game — against Florida — makes no sense and creates a competitive advantage.
Sankey has demonstrated patience throughout every bit of this, so there’s no need to publicly declare the plan yet. Friday we learned there also is a slight chance the Playoff semifinals and New Year’s 6 bowls get moved back a week. If that happens, there’s room to play both games. If not?
This one is an easy call. The only way LSU plays either game is if the division race is still at stake.
8. Paging Jim Harbaugh …
Losing 5 straight to Ohio State is one thing, especially considering he inherited a 3-game losing streak.
What happened Saturday against Wisconsin is something else entirely.
Michigan has lost 3 consecutive B1G games.
In the parlance of our times, it’s fair to wonder whether Harbaugh is ready to opt out on college football and go back to the NFL.
I’m not sure it’s even worth wondering anymore whether Michigan fans would mind if he did.
7. Indiana football is ranked. Indiana basketball is not
It’s probably worth adding that that hasn’t happened since Bob Knight arrived.
Indiana’s football team has only been ranked in 9 seasons in the past 50 years.
Indiana’s basketball teams has only missed being ranked 9 seasons in the past 51 years.
Context is critical when trying to explain what Tom Allen is doing in Bloomington.
The Hoosiers entered the weekend No. 10. There’s a good chance they jump Miami and climb to No. 9 ahead of next week’s showdown against Ohio State. They haven’t been higher than No. 10 since the 1967 Rose Bowl team that finished No. 4.
6. North Carolina’s football team might be better than its basketball team, too
Mack Brown’s Tar Heels have 2 of the more unexplainable losses of the COVID-ravaged regular season, but man are they fun to watch.
They rose to No. 5 in the country and then lost to FSU, which is now 2-5, and Virginia, which had lost 4 consecutive until it beat UNC.
The Heels will jump back in the AP Poll after Saturday’s video-game comeback victory over Wake Forest.
The Heels trailed 45-24 late in the 3rd quarter before going on a 35-0 run to pull out a 59-53 win.
Sam Howell threw for 550 yards and 6 TDs.
Many had circled Notre Dame’s Nov. 27 trip to UNC, then erased it after the Heels stumbled.
It’s once again must-see TV on the Friday after Thanksgiving.
UNC’s basketball team, by the way, received a reputation vote by appearing at No. 16 in the preseason AP poll. The Tar Heels finished 14-19 last season and would have missed the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 10 years. That team started last year at No. 9, by the way, and rose as high as No. 5.
5. Top 5 of Power 5
In honor of John Schlarman, we’re going positive with the best of the week …
1. Let’s start with Landon Young wearing Schlarman’s No. 65. What an emotional week for Kentucky.
2. Power 5 commissioners: College football often is rigid and as slow-moving as an iceberg, but this year, it has shown an amazing amount of flexibility. It’s adapting and adjusting to every curveball COVID is throwing. The latest evidence was the acknowledgment that Playoff semifinals could be pushed back.
3. Northwestern: The Wildcats went 1-8 in the B1G last year. They improved to 4-0 after taking out Purdue on Saturday. The last time the Wildcats were 4-0 in the B1G was 1996. Coming up: a B1G West showdown against Wisconsin on Saturday. Win that and you’d have to seriously start talking about the Wildcats being a … Playoff threat?
4. Ole Miss’ offense: Pick a player. Pick a stat. Pick a way you want to score. You want a TD on 4th-and-11? Done. The numbers were dizzying, but for posterity’s sake, let’s write them down: Matt Corral was 28-for-32 for a school-record 513 yards and 4 TDs. Elijah Moore caught 13 passes for 225 yards and 2 TDs. The duo hooked up on the 4th-down TD pass and also an Ole Miss-record 91-yard strike earlier.
5. Kevin Harris: South Carolina’s breakout star was the No. 44 RB in the 2019 class. He was the No. 68 player in Georgia. He’s now the No. 1 rusher in the SEC after going for a career-high 243 yards against Ole Miss. (Harris has 817 yards this season. He’ll soon become SC’s first 1,000-yard rusher since Mike Davis in 2013.) How impressive was his 243-yard performance? George Rogers’ career-best was 237.
4. The 4 Playoff teams are …
1. Alabama, 2. Florida, 3. Ohio State, 4. Notre Dame
Alabama, Ohio State and Texas A&M had games postponed or canceled. Clemson had a scheduled bye week.
Florida looked utterly dominant against the SEC’s most surprising team and one of its better defenses — a week after looking similarly dominant against Georgia. Nobody is stopping this offense.
Notre Dame overcame 3 turnovers to take out a pretty good Boston College team on the home. I’m still not sold on the Irish. I certainly think Clemson will gain revenge in the ACC Championship Game, but I’m not sure the Irish will be able to stop North Carolina in 2 weeks, either.
Clemson holds firm at No. 5.
3. So Unhappy in the Valley?
Penn State was ranked No. 7 in the preseason AP Poll.
The Nittany Lions are in danger of losing 7 games.
Penn State fell to 0-4 after losing 30-23 to Nebraska, another underachiever that hadn’t won a game until Saturday.
Each year there seems to be a preseason top-10 team, usually a big brand, that proves to be vastly overrated.
Last year, Texas opened at No. 10 and finished 8-5 and No. 25.
In 2018, Miami opened the season ranked No. 8 and finished unranked at 7-6.
In 2017, FSU opened the season ranked No. 3 and finished unranked at 7-6.
Clearly, Penn State is that team in 2020.
There’s a pretty good chance James Franklin loses 6 games for the 3rd time in his 7 seasons.
Joe Paterno lost 6 games just 6 times in 46 seasons at Penn State.
Want an even more unbelievable stat? Franklin had a higher winning percentage in his final 2 seasons at Vanderbilt (.692, 18-8) than he does at Penn State (.675, 56-27).
2. Classy move by Vanderbilt
Goosebumps.@UKFootball leaves the Left Tackle position open for the first play from scrimmage and takes a delay of game penalty in honor of OL Coach John Schlarman who passed away after his battle with cancer.
Vanderbilt declines the penalty.
Emotional day in Lexington. pic.twitter.com/uJrkCTUKn7
— Peter Burns (@PeterBurnsESPN) November 14, 2020
Vanderbilt lost. Again. I don’t care. The SEC needs men like Derek Mason, who understand life lessons are more important than first downs.
You’d like to think every coach would have understood why Kentucky took the penalty and done the same, but Mason had the choice and made the right decision.
1. Lastly, appreciating Coach Schlarman
There’s nothing I can write that better captures who John Schlarman was and what he meant to Kentucky football than this tribute from those who knew, admired and loved him best. He will be missed.