Convention-only schedules continued to chew up a number of of the main contenders within the SEC, leaving the league hinging its School Soccer Playoff hopes on a choose few solely 4 video games into the common season.
After a troublesome Saturday, the SEC has simply 4 groups with fewer than two losses and a dwindling checklist of choices for the nationwide semifinals.
This isn’t to say the SEC champion isn’t a lock for the highest 4, and even that the convention gained’t once more have a case for making up half of the playoff subject, particularly throughout this distinctive common season.
And the SEC nonetheless has a monopoly on the faculty soccer highlight. Alabama’s 41-24 win in opposition to Georgia was one of essentially the most anticipated video games of the common season and maybe an important matchup by way of its influence on the playoff.
Prematurely of the Crimson Tide and Bulldogs, nevertheless, Auburn and Tennessee fell to 2-2 after dropping as favorites in opposition to long-suffering opponents — the Tigers to South Carolina and Tennessee at house to Kentucky.
The Tigers and Volunteers be part of LSU, Florida and others in fighting the conference-only scheduling mannequin that eradicated the warm-up interval of non-league video games in opposition to pushovers and compelled groups to step proper into extra demanding matchups in opposition to SEC opponents.
Saturday wasn’t an entire catastrophe. Texas A&M moved to 3-1 after beating Mississippi State 28-14, the Aggies’ second win in a row after a lopsided loss in opposition to Alabama to start out October. Arkansas is now a really spectacular and surprising 2-2 after beating Ole Miss 33-21.
And Alabama made a robust case for being No. 1 on this week’s Amway Coaches Ballot. Even after a disappointing loss, Georgia will stay the group to beat within the East division and a menace to win the SEC and return to the playoff.
Listed here are the remainder of Saturday’s winners and losers in faculty soccer:
The checklist of eye-popping numbers from Clemson’s 73-7 rout of Georgia Tech contains 17 gamers who made no less than one reception, which is totally ridiculous. (Each of coach Dabo Swinney’s children, Will and Drew, made a catch.) Behind Trevor Lawrence’s 404 passing yards and 5 touchdowns, the Tigers remained unbeaten and might need performed sufficient to remain atop the Coaches Ballot.
The Wildcats have adopted two shut losses, to Auburn (29-13) and Ole Miss (42-41), with back-to-back wins in opposition to Mississippi State and Tennessee. Each wins have been paced by the protection. The Wildcats returned two interceptions for touchdowns within the sport’s first 5 minutes and held Tennessee to simply 287 yards of offense in successful 34-7, this system’s first victory in Knoxville since 1984.
PENALTY: Tennessee participant flagged for kicking Kentucky participant in groin
NCAA EXECUTIVE: School sports activities’ monetary woes may linger till 2023
There was comprehensible concern over how nicely the Hurricanes would bounce again after dropping to Clemson, particularly in opposition to a motivated opponent in Pittsburgh seeking to rewrite its season after dropping two straight video games by a single level. Not that it was a banner efficiency: Miami’s 31-19 win did not embrace a lot from the operating sport (2.6 yards per carry) and noticed quarterback D’Eriq King throw two interceptions for the second sport in a row. However King tossed a season-high 4 touchdowns and the Hurricanes held on to stay within the thick of the New Yr’s Six bowl dialog.
The Razorbacks are the most important shock within the Bowl Subdivision and one of many nice success tales in latest SEC historical past. After choosing off six Ole Miss passes within the 12-point win, Arkansas is sitting at 2-2 beneath first-year coach Sam Pittman after being picked in some circles to win not more than as soon as in opposition to this SEC-only schedule.
The Mike Norvell period has its defining second. After a horrible begin — a lopsided loss to rival Miami, Norvell sidelined following a constructive check for COVID-19 — the Seminoles pulled off the yr’s largest upset by dominating North Carolina early after which holding on for a 31-28 win. The choice to call Jordan Travis the beginning quarterback has paid off for the offense, which has rallied across the former Louisville switch. Travis completed with 191 passing yards and 107 yards speeding, one in every of two Seminoles to crack the 100-yard mark on the bottom.
Pushed and threatened by a Georgia offense that hit on explosive performs via the air and a Georgia protection that’s harmful when capable of assault the passer, Alabama responded to a 24-17 deficit by scoring the sport’s last 24 factors. Credit score goes to quarterback Mac Jones, who had one other excellent day, however the win was keyed by an unlikely supply: Alabama’s protection. Maligned via three video games, the Crimson Tide made two key interceptions within the third quarter to spark the spectacular win.
South Carolina had by no means overwhelmed Auburn as a member of the SEC. The Tigers hadn’t misplaced to the Gamecocks, interval, since 1933. It has been that sort of yr. After recognizing Auburn a 16-7 lead within the second quarter, South Carolina went on a 23-6 run to win 30-22 and knock the Tigers out of the playoff chase. Auburn misplaced regardless of operating for 209 yards on the bottom, marking this system’s first loss when cracking the 200-yard mark since early within the 2016 season.
Here is the place we nitpick a win, which is unfair given what number of different preseason contenders have already suffered one, two and even three losses. However the Preventing Irish had been uninspiring in a 12-7 win in opposition to Louisville, which had allowed 38.7 factors per sport and 6.8 yards per play in dropping three straight in ACC play. Whereas capable of dominate the clock, run the ball successfully and keep away from any essential turnovers, Notre Dame’s total listlessness would not breed confidence in how the Irish will fare in opposition to Clemson subsequent month.
Needing a win to remain inside vary of Cincinnati and SMU within the American, UCF coughed up leads of 21, 14 and 12 factors within the second half and missed the potential game-winning subject objective with 19 seconds left to lose 50-49 to Memphis. For the Tigers, who had been led by senior quarterback Brady White’s 486 passing yards and 6 touchdowns, the win snaps a 13-game dropping streak to the Knights relationship to 1990. After seeing its slim hopes of constructing the playoff outright eradicated in a loss earlier this month to Tulsa, falling to Memphis endangers UCF’s probabilities of claiming the access-bowl bid given to the most effective group within the Group of 5. Mixed, White and UCF sophomore quarterback Dillon Gabriel accounted for 1,034 passing yards and 11 scores.
The sky is not falling. Even after dropping to Alabama, the Bulldogs stay within the thick of the playoff chase and the likeliest candidate to come back out of the East division and meet the Crimson Tide in December for the SEC championship. The loss does elevate questions on Stetson Bennett’s future because the beginning quarterback and concerning the well being of a protection that had dominated via three video games however allowed 564 yards to the Crimson Tide. Each points can and will likely be addressed earlier than these two groups meet once more. The larger concern: Are Georgia and Kirby Sensible ever going to beat Nick Saban and Alabama?
Observe USA TODAY Sports activities faculties reporter Paul Myerberg on Twitter @PaulMyerberg