It has been simply 11 months since LSU topped Clemson 42-25 within the School Soccer Playoff Nationwide Championship, finishing what may need been the most effective season by a workforce within the sport’s historical past. And it already feels historic.
On Saturday, LSU will stumble towards its 2020 end line with a make-up date in opposition to Alabama that completely encapsulates all that has gone fallacious for the Tigers previously 11 months.
This week, head coach Ed Orgeron lamented the most recent opt-out of a star participant, as WR Terrace Marshall ended his time with this system. Orgeron spoke glowingly of his former gamers, the celebs of 2019, now off to spectacular begins within the NFL. He did his finest so as to add some optimism to a misplaced season, promising the 3-Four Tigers would “be champions once more” sooner or later.
However when Orgeron was requested whether or not his workforce was higher outfitted right this moment to face Alabama than it will have been three weeks in the past, when the sport was initially scheduled to be performed, his reply felt fairly telling of all that 2020 has wrought for the defending champs.
“Sure,” Orgeron stated, “as a result of now we’ve sufficient gamers to play the sport.”
LSU is among the many most outstanding examples of 2020’s misfortunes.
However Orgeron’s distress is nothing in comparison with what has occurred at Penn State. The Nittany Lions gained their first recreation of the season final week, however that is hardly sufficient to overlook how inept they regarded throughout an unprecedented 0-5 begin. Now, Penn State travels to Rutgers this weekend with extra potential embarrassment ready round each nook.
The workforce Penn State beat final weekend is perhaps in a worse place. Michigan simply canceled its recreation with Maryland this weekend, COVID-19’s intrusion into the Wolverines’ locker room the most recent downside for embattled coach Jim Harbaugh.
Look across the standings and it is not arduous to seek out packages that ended 2019 on a excessive observe — Louisville, Baylor, Utah, Tennessee — which may now be questioning if taking part in this season was value all the difficulty. And that does not even contact on Nebraska. No workforce has ever pushed more durable or argued louder for the proper to go 1-4.
Orgeron, for one, refused in charge COVID-19 for the setbacks, however it’s truthful to wonder if LSU-Alabama or Tennessee-Florida or Virginia Tech-Clemson is perhaps an entire lot extra attention-grabbing if every part off the sector in 2020 had been — effectively, an entire lot much less attention-grabbing.
“No one desires to undergo a season like this, however I do consider we’re constructing character and grit that may assist us in a while,” Orgeron stated. “You all the time need to symbolize LSU with satisfaction, and the usual may be very excessive. We have not met that. I am not going to make any excuses for COVID. We have simply received to get the job executed. We have now some good younger gamers. They’re simply not there but.”
What’s value watching
Can Virginia Tech put up a combat in opposition to Clemson? In most years, Clemson’s journey to Virginia Tech on Saturday could be circled on the calendar as an enormous pace bump for the Tigers and a possible marquee win for the Hokies. Even a month in the past, when the Hokies had been ranked within the prime 20, which may have been the narrative. However Virginia Tech has now misplaced 4 of 5, Justin Fuente’s job safety is at an all-time low and the workforce hosts the Tigers as a 22-point underdog. That is probably the most a visiting workforce has been favored by at Lane Stadium since 1988, in line with ESPN Stats & Data analysis. That would appear to make this a secure wager for the established order. However do not be stunned if the Hokies aren’t able to roll over but.
Coastal Carolina pivots to BYU: This recreation is a shock, as Coastal Carolina was initially set to face Liberty, who needed to cancel due to coronavirus points for the Flames. However the Chanticleers discovered a match within the Cougars, who want to enhance their playoff positioning. In response to FPI, BYU’s remaining energy of schedule rank jumped from 98th to 52nd after including Coastal Carolina. The sport may even be the primary time two 9-Zero or higher groups meet through the common season (not together with convention championship video games) since 2006, when No. 1 Ohio State (11-0) def. No. 2 Michigan (11-0) 42-39.
Aggies get a highway take a look at: Texas A&M wants a win to remain within the playoff hunt, however the job won’t be as simple because the information point out. Auburn has gained 12 of its previous 13 house video games, and Bo Nix is a a lot totally different QB at Jordan-Hare (63% completions, 7.Three yards per dropback, 22 TDs and three turnovers) than when he is away (55%, 5.22, 15, 13). An Auburn upset definitely would make the choice committee’s life just a little simpler.
Will Buffalo‘s Jaret Patterson proceed to ascend? Patterson has popped off within the Bulls’ previous two video games. On Nov. 17 in opposition to Bowling Inexperienced, he rushed for a school-record 301 yards and 4 touchdowns. And in opposition to Kent State this previous week, he exploded for 409 yards and eight (no typo) touchdowns. He most likely would have had the FBS document of 9 touchdowns had head coach Lance Leipold been conscious of the place he was in and never taken him out of the sport. Regardless, Patterson will likely be value maintaining with this week as Buffalo travels to Ohio to play the Bobcats.
Jaret Patterson rushes for Eight touchdowns and 409 yards in Buffalo’s 70-41 win in opposition to Kent State.
Is Jeremy Pruitt in hassle? Given Pruitt has recruited effectively, and Tennessee‘s final teaching search ought to have included the Benny Hill music taking part in within the background the entire time, it will appear a bit impetuous for the Vols to make a training change. However after a robust end to final season, Pruitt’s workforce has misplaced 5 straight, and the offense has discovered the top zone on simply six of its previous 53 drives. Life is not going to get any simpler with Florida and Texas A&M remaining, however Pruitt might reply loads of the doubters by having his workforce play effectively in opposition to the Gators on Saturday.
Underneath-the-radar recreation of the week
Lyles: Texas vs. Kansas State
My curiosity on this recreation has extra to do with the results if Texas loses. The Longhorns misplaced to Iowa State final week, and Tom Herman’s job standing was (understandably) a big subject of dialog. That will get magnified to higher ranges in the event that they fall to a 4-5 Kansas State workforce that has a loss to Arkansas State on the résumé.
Hale: Bowling Green vs. Akron
It is the pillow combat of the 12 months, and we could not be extra excited. Consider it like a film so dangerous, you may’t assist however watch it — like “Cats” or “Gigli” or “Titanic” (that is proper, I stated it). Of the 127 groups to play this 12 months, ESPN’s FPI ranks Akron 125th and Bowling Inexperienced 126th. (UMass, at 127th, ought to routinely get to play the loser in a bowl recreation.)
Over the previous three years, the 2 groups are a mixed 7-46 vs. FBS opponents — and two of these wins are in opposition to one another. Their losses, in the meantime, are by a mean of 28 factors. So placing them on the identical area, in a 12 months by which every part that may go fallacious has gone fallacious, is solely an ideal send-off to 2020, like remaking “The Godfather Half III” and hiring M. Evening Shyamalan to jot down a twist ending for it. None of it was good to start with, placing them collectively is worse, and but, who’s going to say no?
Participant to observe
The Hoosiers have been one of many season’s greatest nice surprises, however their story took an unlucky flip final Saturday when QB Michael Penix Jr. tore his ACL in opposition to Maryland. Penix is out for the season, and the Hoosiers’ season now lies with Tuttle. The redshirt sophomore went 5-of-5 passing for 31 yards in his restricted time in opposition to the Terps, and can instantly be examined in opposition to Wisconsin this weekend.
Hale: Clemson RB Travis Etienne
It has been one thing of an odd 12 months for Etienne, who returned for his senior season in opposition to all expectations and hasn’t fairly discovered the room to run he loved in years previous.
The yards after contact aren’t far off from his profession averages, however Etienne is seeing solely about half the typical yards earlier than contact he has been used to. He has largely made up for the lowered manufacturing within the speeding assault by rising as one among Clemson’s most dependable pass-catchers, a feat Dabo Swinney stated has solely improved Etienne’s draft inventory. However the truth stays that, if the Tigers need to win one other nationwide championship, they are going to want extra manufacturing on the bottom. That, after all, begins with the run blocking, which offensive coordinator Tony Elliott stated has proven enchancment, nevertheless it may also come all the way down to Etienne merely doing extra with much less. That can begin in opposition to a Virginia Tech protection that has allowed almost 1,000 yards and 11 TDs on the bottom in its previous 5 video games.
Upset of the week
Lyles: Rutgers over Penn State
You is perhaps saying to your self, “Penn State is 1-5, they’ve a worse document. This would not be an upset.” To which I might say, (A) Vegas says Penn State ought to win comfortably, and (B) Penn State continues to be Penn State, and Rutgers continues to be Rutgers. Penn State’s win over Michigan final weekend does not imply almost as a lot because it normally does. Plus, Rutgers has stayed aggressive in most video games it has performed this season. I am going with the Scarlet Knights as a result of I do not know when I’ll ever be capable to fairly choose Rutgers to upset anyone once more.
The Cyclones are coming off an emotional, come-from-behind win over Texas. Their path to the Huge 12 title recreation seems to be fairly clear. Iowa State already has 4 wins by a TD or much less, which is not usually sustainable. And West Virginia’s protection is legitimately good. All of this provides as much as an actual trap-game state of affairs, with West Virginia pulling the upset.