Less than a month remains into the 2021 college football regular season, and legitimate college football playoff contenders will begin to emerge over the next four weeks.
Can Georgia and / or Oklahoma go undefeated? Who will win the Big Ten East? Can Cincinnati become the first Group of 5 team to claim one of the four CFP places?
These questions will be answered by December 5, when the final CFP ranking will be announced.
For now, the pulse of college football will fluctuate with the CFP’s weekly rankings. We will have the second edition on Tuesday evening.
In the meantime, here are some overreactions from week 10:
Alabama is not in the top four
While not as explosive on offense as they were a year ago, the Crimson Tides still rank 4th in the FBS with 43 points per game. Quarterback Bryce Young, in his first season as a starter, threw for 2,755 yards with 28 touchdowns and just three picks. Receivers John Metchie III and Jameson Williams are potential first-round picks in the 2022 NFL Draft, according to ESPN’s Todd McShay.
There is only one problem: the Crimson Tide does not block very well. The offensive line’s dismal performance in Saturday night’s 20-14 win over exhausted LSU was further proof of that. Alabama had 6 net rushing yards, tied for their lowest rushing total in a game dating back to at least 1940. The Tide also ran for 6 yards in a 9-0 loss to Penn State in 1990.
“I think there are a lot of things in the game that we probably haven’t done well,” Tide coach Nick Saban said on Saturday night. “We didn’t block them very well up front. We didn’t handle the ball very well in attack. We couldn’t get it to work at the end of the game when we needed it. We weren’t. Also effective on the third try. We had some protection issues. A lot of things we can fix, and I think we need to fix them so that we can be a little more consistent. “
Surprisingly, the offensive line has struggled for much of the season. Alabama allowed 22 sacks in nine games, including four in a 41-38 loss to Texas A&M and four more to LSU. Tide’s sack rate of 6.6% is nearly three times that of Georgia No.1 (2.3%) and ranks 74th among FBS teams.
While left tackle Evan Neal played well, right tackle Chris Owens struggled to protect passes and left guard Javion Cohen was not very good on running games. Against LSU, the Tide lost starting cross Darrian Dalcourt to an ankle injury, forcing Owens to move to center. Alabama have a lot to consolidate before they close out the regular season at the 13th Auburn in the Iron Bowl on November 27 and a potential date against Georgia in the SEC Championship game on December 4. But that doesn’t mean the tide won’t.
Oregon is a lock for the PCP
The Ducks were No.4 in the CFP’s initial selection committee rankings last week, and they could be even higher on Tuesday after No.2 Alabama battled LSU and No.3 Michigan State suffered their first loss, 40-29 to Purdue.
Oregon can win the Pac-12 North title if it beats Washington State at home on Saturday (10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN & ESPN App) and Oregon State loses to Stanford at home. But then it will get tough for the Ducks. They play in Utah on Nov. 20 and end the regular season against Oregon State in the Civil War at home.
ESPN’s REIT only gives the Ducks a 12% chance of winning, including the Pac-12 Championship game, likely another meeting with Utah, and going 12-1. The REIT gives six more title contenders – Georgia (94%), Cincinnati (84%), Oklahoma (54%), Ohio State (40%), Notre Dame (37%) and Alabama (31%) – of better chances of ending the regular season with one loss or less.
CFP Selection Committee to Correct Cincinnati Mistake
There was a lot of outrage last week, at least on Twitter, that undefeated Cincinnati was not included in the top four of the initial CFP rankings. I wrote in this space last week that the Bearcats deserved to be roughly No.6, and the selection committee agreed.
So after the Spartans lose to the Boilermakers, the Bearcats have to go up, right? Maybe not, or at least not very much. Cincinnati struggled for the third week in a row against a lesser opponent, needing two pits on the goal line in the dying minutes to secure a 28-20 victory over Tulsa, who fell to 3-6. A week earlier, the Bearcats were leading Tulane just 14-12 at halftime (the green wave is 1-8). Prior to that, they were leading Navy 13-10 at halftime (midshipmen are 2-7).
I guess the selection committee will penalize the Bearcats for another ho-hum performance. I’m guessing they’ll either drop to # 5 or stay at # 6, behind Georgia, Oregon, Alabama, Ohio State, and maybe even Michigan State.
Florida to fire Dan Mullen
A day after Dan Mullen admitted he didn’t see the Gators’ humiliating 40-17 loss in South Carolina coming, he fired defensive coordinator Todd Grantham and offensive line coach John Hevesy on Sunday. . Anyone who has watched the Florida defense over the past two seasons has likely seen this news from a mile away, but wondered why it hadn’t come sooner.
In the last three games, all losses, the Gators have allowed 123 points, their second-most points allowed in a three-game stretch in the past 100 years, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. It wasn’t until the last three games of the 2020 season, when LSU, Alabama and Oklahoma combined to score 144 points, that Florida allowed more.
“I looked at how we played on Saturday and some things that developed, we weren’t where we needed to be,” Mullen said on Monday. “We’re no better than at the start of the year. In fact, we’re worse than at the start of the year, so we had to make some changes with what we’re doing, where we’re at. “
After another tough loss, Dan Mullen of Florida said the Gators will make changes to what they do and where they stand.
The fall of Florida was swift and shocking. Last season, the Gators beat rival Georgia 44-28 to win the SEC East. They nearly toppled Alabama in the SEC Championship game in a 52-46 loss, then were crushed by Oklahoma 55-20 in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic after several of their best players retired.
On September 18, Florida nearly knocked down the No.1 Crimson Tide in a 31-29 loss. It was the highlight of the 2021 season. Since then, the Gators have fallen to Kentucky for the first time since 1986, losing to an LSU team who had already fired their coach (and would announce it the next day), had the He looked completely overwhelmed in a 27-point loss to Georgia, then suffered their worst loss in school history to South Carolina, a rebuilding Gamecocks team, no less.
The biggest indictment against Mullen is that the Gators just don’t play hard and aren’t disciplined. They lost back-to-back games by 20 points or more for the first time in his tenure. They have lost eight of their last 10 games to opponents from Power 5, with the only wins over Tennessee and Vanderbilt.
Linebacker coach Christian Robinson will lead the Gators defense for the remainder of the season, while former Syracuse and UConn coach Paul Pasqualoni, previously special assistant, will assume a role on the pitch. Assistant Michael Sollenne will coach the offensive line.
Florida’s biggest problem is recruiting. The Gators’ current class for 2022 is ranked seventh in the SEC and 23rd in the country by ESPN. Missouri, Georgia Tech, Indiana, South Carolina, and West Virginia have classes that are currently ranked higher. That’s not enough for the flagship university in one of the country’s most fertile recruiting states.
Of course, Mullen’s comments last week about not wanting to talk about recruiting until the end of the season could have been taken out of context and exaggerated. But it’s no secret that recruiting isn’t his specialty and he doesn’t particularly like it.
With games to go against opponent FCS Samford, Missouri and Florida State, Mullen’s job looks secure for now. However, losing any of these games could change that.