Thoughts of the Day: November 25, 2020

A few thoughts to jump start your Wednesday morning:

GATORS DEBUT AT #6 IN PLAYOFF RANKINGS

Before considering throwing something like a beer mug at that expensive 70-foot QLED TV after watching the College Football Playoff Rankings Show, take into consideration this fact: Not once in the history of the College Football Playoff Poll have the top four teams from the first week’s rankings made the playoff. So, consider the Florida Gators in very good shape as the 6th-ranked team even if they lost the head-to-head with Texas A&M, which is ranked fifth.


The Gators have a clear path to the playoff. The Aggies do not.


Should the Gators win their final three regular season games and then beat Alabama in the SEC Championship Game, they will be in the playoff. It’s as simple as that. They can lose one of their three remaining regular season games, beat Alabama in the SEC Championship Game and make the playoff. Even with two losses, the SEC champ is going to be in the playoff. Once-beaten Alabama would also be in as a wild card. You can bet the farm on that.


For Florida, everything depends on beating Alabama in Atlanta. That’s a tall order, but it’s do-able.


As for the Aggies, getting into the playoff is complicated since there is no clear path to get in. For Texas A&M to make the playoff there are two paths, both of which require the Aggies to win their final four regular season games and get a little help. Since Alabama owns the head-to-head, it would take two Alabama losses for the Aggies to make it to Atlanta where they would have to beat Florida. To make the playoff as a once-beaten wild card, the Aggies would need Alabama to beat Florida in the SEC championship game, Clemson with a healthy Trevor Lawrence to thrash Notre Dame soundly in the ACC title game and for the playoff committee to take only one team from the Big Ten (Plus Four) if Ohio State or Northwestern come to the league title game unbeaten and play each other to a near standstill. It would also require the committee to keep a potentially unbeaten Pac-12 champ or even Group of Five Cincinnati out of the final four teams in the rankings. The Bearcats almost certainly have to go unbeaten in the regular season, convincingly win the American Athletic Conference championship game and then pray that the committee feels guilty for keeping unbeaten UCF out in 2018 when the Knights had won 27 consecutive games.


Florida controls its own destiny but it involves winning the SEC championship. There will be no wild card for the Gators with two losses.

Week One College Football Playoff Rankings: (1) Alabama 7-0; (2) Notre Dame 8-0; (3) Clemson 7-1; (4) Ohio State 4-0; (5) Texas A&M 5-1; (6) FLORIDA 6-1; (7) Cincinnati 8-0; (8) Northwestern 5-0; (9) Georgia 5-2; (10) Miami 7-1; (11) Oklahoma 6-2; (12) Indiana 4-1; (13) Iowa State 6-2; (14) BYU 9-0; (15) Oregon 3-0; (16) Wisconsin 2-1; (17) Texas 5-2; (18) Southern Cal 3-0; (19) North Carolina 6-2; (20) Coastal Carolina 8-0; (21) Marshall 7-0; (22) Auburn 5-2; (23) Oklahoma State 5-2; (24) Iowa 3-2; (25) Tulsa 5-1


GEORGIA AT #9? THOUGHTS FROM THE TWITTERVERSE

Life in the Twitterverse can be so cruel and so unkind if you’re one of those near national title types at Georgia. Here is a small sampling from Tuesday night:


From Matt Hayes: Indiana nearly wins at Ohio State and is No. 12. Georgia gets its ass kicked twice and is No. 9.


From Barrett Salee of CBSSports.com: If Georgia is the No. 9 team in the country then I’m not losing my hair.


From Danny Kannell of ESPN Radio: Georgia at #9??? You have got to be kidding me


From Jeff or Jeffrey Fain of Talkin ACC Sports: Georgia gets stomped twice … Beats a Miss State team by single digits with less than 50 scholarship players but yeah #9


STRAIGHT OUTTA RODNEY DANGERFIELD These guys got absolutely no respect:


#12 Indiana: As Matt Hayes tweeted, how are these guys #12 and Georgia is #9?

#14 BYU: The Cougars have been destroying people and they have a QB in Marc Wilson who might go in the first seven picks in the NFL Draft. Too bad their signature win is over a Boise State team that is pretty average by Boise standards.

#20 Coastal Carolina: They are undefeated with a road win over a Big 12 team – okay it was Kansas but KU is in the Big 12 after all – and a win over a ranked Louisiana-Lafayette team plus a nice win over perennial Fun Belt Sun Belt power Appalachian State.

#21 Marshall: The Thundering Herd is unbeaten, ranks first nationally in scoring defense (10.1 points per game) and #2 in total defense (259.7 yards per game. Doc Holliday’s team could beat a whole lot of Power Five teams by double digits.


THE NEXT STEP IN FLORIDA’S PLAYOFF BID

Florida’s next step on the road to Atlanta for the SEC Championship Game is its Saturday date with Kentucky (3-5). On paper it would seem that the Wildcats are a potential speed bump for the 6th-ranked Gators (6-1) since they average 178.4 yards per game on the ground and the Florida defense gives up 141.7.


Fortunately, games are played on the field. On the field, Kentucky runs the ball awfully well against teams that have difficulty stuffing the run. Kentucky ran for 408 yards against the phantom defense of Ole Miss and still lost the game, 42-41. The Wildcats barely beat Vanderbilt (38-35) even though they ran for 308. In their other six games, Kentucky has gained 708 yards total, an average of 118 per game.


In the Ole Miss and Vanderbilt games, Kentucky averaged 7.86 yards per carry. In the other six games Kentucky is averaging 3.35 per carry. The Wildcats are coming off a 59-yard game (on 32 carries) against Alabama.


The overall rushing stats obscure just how pathetic Kentucky’s offense has been this season. In eight games Kentucky has totaled 2,405 yards, which is fewer yards rushing and passing COMBINED than Florida QB Kyle Trask has thrown for (2,554) in seven. Kentucky’s pass offense ranks 121st nationally (out of 127 Division I teams that are playing football this fall), averaging 122.6 yards per game and a rather weak 5.5 yards per pass attempt. The Wildcats have thrown six touchdown passes. Trask, on the other hand, averages 10.4 yards per attempt and leads the nation with 31touchdown passes, which is an SEC record for a QB through the first seven games of the season.


Kentucky’s defense has had some good games against bad quarterbacks. They picked off K.J. Costello of Mississippi State six times, Jarrett Guarantano of Kentucky three times and Stetson Bennett IV of Georgia twice. In the other five games, Kentucky has picked off one pass. In their last five games, Kentucky has allowed 1,016 yards (203.2 per game) on the ground.


The Gators certainly can’t take Kentucky or any SEC team lightly but a focused Florida team should blow the Wildcats out of The Swamp.


FLORIDA BY THE NUMBERS IN THE SEC

The Gators rank second in scoring (44.7 points per game), third in total offense (522.3 yards per game), ninth in rushing (144.7), first in passing (377.6), and second in sacks allowed (7 in 7 games). The Gators rank seventh in scoring defense (28.1 points per game), ninth in total defense (410.6 yards per game), seventh in rushing defense (141.7 per game), ninth in pass defense (268.9 per game) and first in sacks (21).


DABO DOUBLES DOWN ON FSU

If you thought Dabo Swinney was going to go away quietly when Florida State coach Mike Norvell said FSU wanted to play last Saturday and was simply going on sound medical advice when it cancelled its probable beatdown by Clemson then think again.


Monday, in response to Swinney’s scathing comments about FSU, Norvell said FSU wanted to play but added this smirky comment: “Football coaches are not doctors – some of us think we are.”


Tuesday, Swinney fired back, “I’m not really worried much about what they say down there in Tallahassee, that’s for sure. I’ve been in this league for 18 years and have been a coach here 12. They’ve had three head coaches in four years, so the decisions they make ... I’m not going to worry about advice from Tallahassee.”


Swinney later added, “We met the standard to play and we even offered to play Saturday, Sunday, Monday. In my opinion we did everything we could.”


RUMBLING, STUMBLING, BUMBLING IN THE SEC

LSU made history Tuesday night. For the first time since the College Football Playoff Poll began, the defending national champion didn’t make the top 25 in the first poll of the season. The Tigers (3-3) probably have to win their four remaining games (if they play four) to make the final top 25.


Ole Miss sophomore running back Jerion Ealy said Tuesday that when he was in the ninth grade and probably through his junior year in high school he was close to committing to Mississippi State. When he was a high school senior, however, he went with Ole Miss, stating that it was the only school in state that he would go to. About Mississippi State he said, “I didn’t like their football program.” It should be noted that when he was a ninth grader and through his junior year, Dan Mullen was the coach at Mississippi State. Joe Moorhead was the MSU coach when Ealy was a high school senior.


Since South Carolina fired Will Muschamp, the Gamecocks’ 2021 recruiting class is falling apart. Four players have decommitted South Carolina in the last week.


COLLEGE MEN IN SHORTS

ESPN’s bracketologist Joe Lunardi has Florida as a six seed facing 11-seed Northern Iowa in Region 2 in his newest prediction for the NCAA Basketball Tournament, which will be played exclusively in Indianapolis if the current plan is adapted. His top seed for Region 2 is Gonzaga. Lunardi has five SEC teams making the tournament -- #3 Kentucky in Region 4, #4 Tennessee in Region 1, #7 LSU in Region 1 and #8 Alabama in Region 4.


Eamon Brennan of The Athletic, who is supposed to be some sort of college basketball expert, picked his top 20 guards, top 20 wings and top 20 big men for 2020-21. Nowhere on the list is Keyontae Johnson of Florida although he does have UF’s Scottie Lewis listed as the #3 wing. Brennan also named his preseason first and second team All-Americans along with honorable mention. Again, no Keyontae Johnson.


ESPN’s John Gasaway listed his top 25 players for the upcoming season. He has Johnson listed as the #11 player overall. Dick Vitale of ESPN has Johnson as a third-team All-America. CBSSports.com ranks Johnson the #18 player in the nation and Lewis #59.


Former Gator point guard Andrew Nembhard has received a waiver that will make him immediately eligible at Gonzaga.


Matt Norlander of CBSSports.com has ranked every division I team in each state. For the state of Florida, here are the rankings: (1) FLORIDA; (2) FSU; (3) Miami; (4) UCF; (5) South Florida; (6) Florida International; (7) Florida Atlantic; (8) North Florida; (9) Stetson; (10) Florida Gulf Coast; (11) Jacksonville; (12) Florida A&M; (13) Bethune-Cookman


A PITHY COMMENT FOR WEDNESDAY: Fred Taylor is one of 25 semifinalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Fred is certainly deserving even if he had to play for a lot of very bad Jacksonville Jaguars teams. I’m still waiting for the Hall of Fame to put Wilber Marshall on its ballot.

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