SDS Mailbag: Early Playoff predictions, a Big 12 sleeper and B1G/Pac-12 teams we’ll miss
Well, we’ve made it through another week and there are still a few conferences planning on trying to play football this fall. The Big Ten, Pac-12, Mountain West and MAC are out, but the ACC, Big 12, SEC, AAC, Sun Belt and Conference USA all still moving forward with practices and other season preparations.
As we’ve seen numerous times during the pandemic, things can change quickly, so we’re not guaranteed any games yet, but there’s still hope.
Will the good news continue? That remains to be seen, but as SEC commissioner Greg Sankey has made clear with his statements recently, there’s no need to be hasty with a final decision.
Now, let’s dive into your questions for this week’s SDS Mailbag:
Now that it looks like the ACC, Big 12 and SEC are moving forward with a season, what teams do you think will make the Playoff, assuming it keeps a 4-team format?
This year’s Playoff is definitely going to be interesting. Will the committee decide to give the 3 conference champions bids? That makes the most sense to me. Then, it would be really entertaining if the top Group of 5 team also got in.
That probably won’t happen, though, so my best guess is the Big 12 champ, the ACC champ, the SEC champ and a Power 5 wildcard team. So, who will those teams be?
Clemson is perhaps the most obvious team to pick. I don’t see anyone challenging the Tigers in the ACC. In the Big 12, I think Oklahoma will once again earn its spot in the field of 4 by beating Texas (probably twice). That leaves us with the SEC and the wildcard spot.
With all the talent returning on defense and plenty of firepower on offense, I think Alabama makes the Playoff. Then, I think whichever SEC team loses to the Crimson Tide in the SEC title game will also get in. For now, let’s say that’s Georgia.
So, here’s my projected Playoff field:
Yes, that’s the exact same field (with some slightly different seeding) that we got following the 2017 season. But hey, that provided us with 2 epic games (Georgia beating Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl and Tua Tagovailoa’s 2nd-and-26 heroics in the title game). That would be fun to see again. And anything is better than letting Notre Dame in the Playoff.
Now that the Big Ten and Pac-12 have canceled fall sports, which players and teams from those conferences are you going to miss watching the most?
The player part of your question is easy for me. I was super-excited to watch USC QB Kedon Slovis this fall. I’ve been talking for months about him being a sneaky Heisman pick, and that Week 1 game that was scheduled between USC and Alabama in Dallas was going to be a lot of fun (even though I think Alabama would have won by multiple touchdowns).
As for teams, I was definitely interested to see if Oregon was ready to be a legitimate College Football Playoff contender this year. The Pac-12 hasn’t had a team in the field of 4 since Washington following the 2016 season. That’s a 3-year drought that will now be extended to 4 years. Oregon has the overall talent to compete for 1 of those 4 slots, even without QB Justin Herbert. Now, we’ll never know.
I was also excited to watch Illinois this year (I know, but I’m from Illinois, so don’t hate). Lovie Smith made that program fun again last year and the team was likely going to be even better this fall.
I don’t know if a spring season will work out, so we’ll see if these teams actually play again before fall of 2021.
Based on the newly released Big 12 schedule, is there a non-Oklahoma or Texas team you think could surprise this year?
Well, I just picked my Playoff field above, so you know by now that I think Oklahoma will be the Big 12 champion. I also think Texas will be tough, but based on the schedule, watch out for Oklahoma State. Here’s a look at the full Big 12 schedule if you missed it:
A 𝘀𝗽𝗲𝗰𝗶𝗮𝗹 delivery for #Big12FB fans‼️
Your first look at the 2⃣0⃣2⃣0⃣ Conference schedule ⤵️ pic.twitter.com/1W00A3EYuM
— Big 12 Conference (@Big12Conference) August 12, 2020
Starting out at home against West Virginia and then going to Kansas isn’t exactly the toughest slate of games, so the Cowboys should be able to ease into this strange season with a 2-0 start. Then, in their next stretch of 4 games, they get Texas and Iowa State at home, which is nice.
Yes, they have to play at Oklahoma, but with no fans or limited capacity, the Bedlam environment won’t be as crazy for the visiting team as it normally is. I could definitely see Oklahoma State winning 8 games during the regular season and getting to the Big 12 Championship Game.
Mayo, ranch, ketchup, mustard. One of the popular condiments has to go. Which one do you get rid of forever?
As a proud Midwesterner, you’ll have to pry my ranch dressing from my cold, dead hands. I’ll never give up ranch. I’m a big mayo fan, too, so that gets to stay. Thus, it comes down to ketchup and mustard.
I’m going to probably have to say goodbye to ketchup. That might be controversial, but there’s nothing ketchup does for me that I can’t replace with BBQ sauce. In fact, I just went and checked and I don’t even have a bottle of ketchup in my fridge right now.
French fries? Dip them in BBQ sauce (or ranch) instead of ketchup. Burger? Put BBQ sauce on that thing! Chicken tenders? Ranch, BBQ sauce and mustard are more than adequate.
Now that I’ve talked about it, I don’t think I’d miss ketchup at all if it went away.
Have a question for next week’s Mailbag? Tweet at us using #SDSMailbag or email me at ASpencer@SaturdayDownSouth.com.