My best and worst overreactions from the 2020 college football season
The purpose of Overreactions is to, well, overreact.
It’s in the job description.
While I have fun with this and try to push the edge a bit, I don’t write anything that I don’t believe. I don’t write for effect or to elicit a reaction. Some do. I don’t.
Having said that, not every overreaction is the correct reaction. Here are my 6 best and 6 worst of the 2020 regular season.
We’ll start with the swing and misses.
6. To air is Mike Leach (From Week 1)
What I wrote then: I was skeptical. Not necessarily that Mike Leach would continue to throw it every chance he got, but how effective his Air Raid attack would be in the SEC. (Yes, I know Tim Couch set records with Leach at Kentucky, but that was in the 1900s.)
As debuts go, it couldn’t have gone any better. How do you top historic?
KJ Costello made a lot of throws, but did he make any risky throws?
That’s the beauty of Leach’s Air Raid. Somebody is always open. The route trees are so creative and play off each other beautifully. No wonder Kylin Hill came back. What running back wouldn’t rather be tackled by safeties than nose tackles.
Costello threw for 623 yards, obviously an SEC single-game record. That looks like a typo. You could reverse those numbers and that still would be an astounding day against “DBU.”
The SEC, after never having a quarterback come remotely close to 5,000 yards, is about to see it happen in back-to-back years.
Unreal. And I can’t wait to watch it unfold.”
What I’d say now: I’m sorry? But, also, how about that finish, huh?
5. The 4 Playoff teams are … (From Week 2)
What I wrote then: No. 1. Alabama, No. 2. Clemson, No. 3. Florida, No. 4. Georgia
Buh-bye Texas, so long Big 12.
Georgia is No. 4 and surging. That’s the best I’ve seen them look since 2017 and if this ranking were purely about this week, the Dawgs would be No. 2.
What I’d say now: I’m sorry? But, also, Florida and Georgia (with JT Daniels) would beat Texas A&M and/or Notre Dame if they played today.
4. Is LSU really going to bench Myles Brennan? (From Week 5)
What I wrote then: If I had to guess, I’d say … yes.
Myles Brennan has been the ultimate teammate. He’s proven to be a pretty good quarterback, too.
But whether the play-calling improved or TJ Finley is simply a better fit, it’s hard to argue with the results Saturday.
LSU dominated South Carolina.
Finley, in his first career start in place of the injured Brennan, made plays with his arm and his legs. He’s a threat, and for an offense that has NFL talent outside as well as in the backfield, he might be better equipped to get the most out of this offense.
As long as Brennan is out with an undisclosed “lower body” injury, there is no controversy. Finley did more than enough to earn the start next week at Auburn.
It’ll get real interesting real fast, however, if Finley plays well and earns another victory.
After Auburn, LSU has a bye week to prepare for Alabama. Even if Brennan is declared healthy by then, it might be too late.
What I’d say now? Um, Myles Brennan might lose his job in 2021, but it will be to Max Johnson, not TJ Finley.
3. Does USC have a Playoff case? Why not? (From Week 12)
What I wrote then: Have to admit, I never considered the Pac-12 a legitimate threat to the Playoff this season. They started too late, had no chance to play enough games and … well, it’s the Pac-12. As much as people like to bang on the Big Ten for its Playoff woes, the Pac-12 has been worse. It has only won 1 Playoff game in the tournament’s 6-year history. And then Ohio State promptly smoked Oregon 42-20 in the inaugural championship game. The Pac-12 has only been in the Playoff 1 time since then — and Alabama went through the motions in a routine 24-7 semifinal win over Washington in 2016.
But USC is making the case — a case that got a whole lot stronger after the B1G tripped over its shoelaces again this week and failed to get Ohio State another game.
USC is 5-0 after rallying past rival UCLA on Saturday.
That’s the same record that Ohio State has.
USC will play for the Pac-12 championship next weekend.
That’s the same thing Ohio State will do in the Big Ten.
USC has an NFL-caliber quarterback. Kedon Slovis threw for 344 yards and 5 TDs Saturday. He has 16 TD passes in 5 games, tops in the Pac-12.
You see where this is going.
I guarantee you the Playoff committee never thought for 1 second it would have to think seriously about a Pac-12 team contending, or having to justify how 1 5-0 team heading to a conference championship game can be 11 spots lower than another 5-0 team heading to a conference championship game.
What I’d say now? Nope. This was probably as close as I came all year to intentionally trying to stir the pot. The topic was worthy of discussion. The team was not.
2. Is Stetson Bennett IV the answer? (From Week 2)
What I wrote then: The kid looked great. Dare I say he looked better than … Jake Fromm in 2019?
A couple of throws in particular stood out.
First, his scramble roll out to his right, followed by a dart to Kearis Jackson. Fromm could evade pressure but his resulting passes typically floated.
Next, Bennett’s touch throw on 3rd-and-9 to George Pickens for a TD was a beautiful ball and gave the Bulldogs an insurmountable 17-0 lead. (That extended Pickens’ TD streak to 6 consecutive games, longest in the nation.)
Bennett attacked the middle of the field with seam routes to tight ends. He threw deep out routes. He did all of this, mind you, without getting a ton of reps with first-teamers in camp.
Georgia’s offense is appreciably better with Bennett … which makes me wonder if we’ll see JT Daniels and why didn’t Kirby Smart see this during fall camp?
What I’d say now? What was I thinking? I mean, parts of that were true. That day, he did look better than Jake Fromm. But, no, emphatically no, Stetson Bennett IV was not the answer.
1. Georgia is king of the SEC East … or SEC? (From Week 3)
Very few teams can withstand Georgia’s physicality. Jeremy Pruitt’s first two Tennessee teams certainly couldn’t. Just 12 months ago, with many of the same players in his 2-deep, the Vols were mauled 43-14.
Saturday was supposed to be different. Pruitt had his heralded o-line. He had emerging playmakers in the backfield and a red-hot veteran quarterback leading the way.
Tennessee looked great for a half. But just when you started to think “next year” really only seems a year away and not just a loser’s lament, the old Vols resurfaced. Mental mistakes compounded physical mistakes and a 1-point lead quickly turned into another blowout loss as Georgia won the 2nd half 27-0.
Coupled with Florida’s continued defensive meltdowns, Saturday showed, emphatically, that the SEC East still runs through Athens.
Next week in Tuscaloosa, the Dawgs just might prove that the entire league does now, too.
What I’d say now: Everybody needs an editor … and why did I suddenly trust Georgia when I picked Florida to win the East in the preseason? Quit overreacting, idiot!
Now, for 6 overreactions I nailed …
6. The 4 Playoff teams are … (From Week 12)
What I wrote then: No. 1 Alabama, No. 2 Notre Dame, No. 3 Clemson, No. 4 Ohio State.
(For brevity’s sake, I’m going to edit and condense 2 related items from Week 12.)
What I think happens:
- Alabama beats Florida to secure No. 1 seed.
- Clemson beats Notre Dame to secure No. 2 seed.
- Ohio State beats Northwestern to secure No. 3 seed.
- Notre Dame claims the No. 4 seed over undefeated Pac-12 champion USC, 1-loss Texas A&M and undefeated American Athletic Conference champion Cincinnati.
A final word about Texas A&M’s Playoff bid …
Last week, I made the airtight case why the Aggies have had a great season but don’t belong in the Playoff.
The key to all of this is Alabama. I wrote that, primarily based on the 28-point loss, but I should have explained it further.
If Alabama were the No. 2 or No. 3 seed, I’d feel much better about endorsing the Aggies’ Playoff push. But Alabama is No. 1. The only way Texas A&M becomes the SEC’s 2nd team is if Florida loses in the SEC title game. But if Florida loses the SEC title game, Alabama stays No. 1. There’s no way Texas A&M could jump to No. 3, so if the Aggies were to make it, we’d get another No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 4 Texas A&M.
This is why I want no part of that:
In 4 starts vs. Alabama, Kellen Mond is:
— Has never taken a single snap w/ a lead
— Has led for 4 minutes, 29 seconds total. Both times Bama trailed, Bama scored a TD on its ensuing drive.
Absolutely nothing about this will change in a Bama-Texas A&M #Playoff rematch.
— Chris Wright (@CWrightSDS) December 8, 2020
Damn Bama. Ruining college football for everybody but Dabo and Stephen Garcia since 2009.
What I’d say now? Told you, Aggies, but that’s so obnoxious. Still, a great season and a rising SEC Player of the Year candidate in Ainias Smith.
5. Bo Nix is not the answer (From Week 4)
What I wrote then: Here we go again.
Nix threw 3 more interceptions Saturday, the first 2 like most of the ones before. On the run, into coverage. Poor mechanics, compounded by a bad decision equaled a predictable result.
Nix completed 51% of his passes Saturday, missing Auburn’s top receiver Seth Williams numerous times, avoiding him altogether in the biggest moments.
On Auburn’s final drive, the 2 biggest plays Nix made were with his legs. On 4th-and-5 at South Carolina’s 12-yard line, Nix took off again instead of giving Soaring Seth Williams a chance to make a play. Nix came up short. Auburn lost.
This isn’t new. This is who Nix is.
If Gus Malzahn keeps going down this well, eventually it won’t be his decision to make.
Hey, look at that. Hugh Freeze just improved to 5-0 and knocked off a Power 5 team …
What I’d say now: Gus went down the well and didn’t escape.
4. Long live 2019 LSU (From Week 1)
What I wrote then: I tried all offseason to prepare LSU fans for the reality that plug-n-play operations aren’t as seamless and successful as Nick Saban makes them look. The top-10 talk seemed, um, optimistic. Before players on other West teams started opting out, I pegged the Tigers for 4th in the West. Seven media members actually predicted the Tigers would defend their SEC crown.
Reality struck Saturday.
LSU looked average or worse on both sides of the ball for most of the game.
Understandably so, too.
Myles Brennan had a few moments and eventually will look even more comfortable, but he didn’t show any of Joe Burrow’s magic. Derek Stingley won’t miss every game, though I’m not sure how much of a difference he would have made Saturday; Leach’s QBs throw ’em where they ain’t. The running game was virtually non-existent with no explosive plays.
About the only good thing that happened to LSU on Saturday was the fact so few Tigers fans had to sit through it.
What I’d say now: I tried to tell you. The Tigers actually finished 5th in the West, not 4th. But let’s give them credit for closing with back-to-back dramatic victories. They did not quit.
3. Can Florida actually beat Alabama? (From Week 7)
What I wrote then: I’m not sure, but I’m taking the over, no matter how high they set it.
As I just learned Saturday, offense wins.
What I’d say now: The SEC Championship Game over was 74. That was the highest in SECCG history — and it still wasn’t high enough. They hit the over early in the 4th quarter. You’re welcome.
2. I know y’all want Bryce Young, but Mac Jones is so legit (From Week 2)
What I wrote then: Mac Jones flashed his arm talent late last season and has picked up where he left off.
He opened Saturday’s game against Texas A&M with a 78-yard bomb to John Metchie III that was so beautiful you might have thought Tua Tagovailoa learned how to throw right-handed.
That was merely a warmup toss.
Jones added an 87-yard strike to Jaylen Waddle on a perfectly thrown post pattern and finished with a 63-yard TD to Metchie.
Jones ended his night 20-for-27 for 435 yards, 4 TDs and 1 interception on a tipped pass.
It’s the 5th time in 5 legitimate playing opportunities that Jone has thrown at least 3 TD passes in a game.
I know Alabama fans want to see Bryce Young, but there’s no debate here. Mac Jones is entirely capable of leading the Tide to the national championship.
What I’d say now: Roll Tide.
1. Speaking of Ohio State and the B1G’s Playoff chances … (From Week 1)
What I wrote then: The B1G champion is going to the Playoff. Without question. Whether they play 6 games or 8 games, whether they lose 1 game or no games, the B1G champion is a Playoff lock.
The B1G’s belated return helped legitimize the most unconventional season of my lifetime. For that reason alone, the committee will reward its champ.
I understand the counter-arguments.
I lead the league in B1G jokes. Long before it became a popular retort, I was noting how the B1G hadn’t scored a point in the Playoff since Ohio State finished off Oregon. (Ohio State changed that last year, of course, but the B1G still hasn’t won a Playoff game since the 2014 national championship.)
So while it was fun to note that the Playoff didn’t need the B1G in 2017, it’s foolish to actually believe the Playoff chase is better if no B1G teams are involved.
You want Justin Fields in the race. You need Justin Fields in the race.
I come back to this: The selection committee is composed of humans, not computers. Just like I was convinced — and wrote numerous times — that Ohio State would not make the 2018 Playoff for the sole reason it would have been a terrible look to reward a team that started the season with a mishandled domestic abuse scandal, I feel equally adamant that the committee will reward the B1G this time for deciding to play.
What I’d say now: Y’all really need to listen to me. (Most of the time.)