Saturday Football: Alabama-Clemson elite offenses, Ohio State's case for No. 1 and uniform talk
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Good morning and happy Monday! The game of the year didn’t disappoint between Alabama and Georgia. Though Georgia lost, both teams have to feel good about the possibility of meeting again in the SEC Championship Game. Meanwhile, Clemson put up 73 points on Georgia Tech. The offensive explosion continues in college football!
In today’s newsletter, we’ll start getting ready for Big Ten football by wondering if Ohio State has a case for the No. 1 spot in the rankings. Then, we’ll look into whether Alabama or Clemson has the nation’s best offense right now. Finally, we’ll talk about some of the top uniform combinations from the weekend’s action. Let’s get started!
CLEMSON VS. ALABAMA OFFENSE
Clemson and Alabama both have elite offenses. Which top team is more dynamic on that side of the ball?
No matter how you slice it, Alabama and Clemson are the top two teams in the nation right now. Ohio State may have something to say about that when it returns to the field on Saturday (more on the Buckeyes later), but at this point, the Tigers and the Crimson Tide are the cream of the crop.
It all starts with the offenses for both teams. Alabama and Clemson each have Heisman-caliber quarterbacks, running backs and a stable of elite wide receivers. Alabama put up an impressive 41 points against Georgia’s elite defense on Saturday. But, Clemson scorched an overmatched Georgia Tech team for 73 points. So, which offense is the best in the nation? Let’s take a look at what’s being said about Alabama and Clemson around the country:
- As we all know, quarterback is, by far, the most important position. Well, these two teams have very talented players at QB1. Let’s start with Alabama’s Mac Jones. Jones took over for No. 5 overall 2020 draft pick Tua Tagovailoa. Many expected him to play well, but not this well. Two Saturdays ago, Jones became the first Alabama QB to throw for 400 yards in back-to-back games. This past weekend, he broke his own record, becoming the first Crimson Tide QB to throw for 400 yards in three-straight games. He’d be the first to give credit to receivers like Jaylen Waddle and DeVonta Smith, though. They made some history of their own on Saturday, as they became the first Alabama receiving tandem to each have 150 yards or more in a single game. Considering the stud receivers the Tide have had in recent years, that’s even more impressive. Ninety of Waddle’s yards came on this huge play. Too easy.
- As good as Mac Jones is, though, Trevor Lawrence is a better NFL prospect. Lawrence is at No. 1 in a majority of 2021 NFL mock drafts right now, and he’s done little to change that sentiment. So far this season, he has 15 touchdown passes (and 4 touchdown runs) to only 1 interception. Bleacher Report’s Adam Kramer writes that TLaw is the sort of generational QB prospect NFL teams dream of. So, take away the pass, right? Well, it’s not that easy, since Clemson has Travis Etienne in the backfield. Clemson DC Brent Venables is one of the best in the business, and even he doesn’t know how to stop Etienne. “I don’t know what to say other than, you know, good luck,” Venables said. “It’s hard.” Good luck, indeed.
- OK, but which offense is better? That’s the real question. Well, if you ask ESPN analyst Joey Galloway, Alabama has the edge. “(W)ith the weapons that Alabama has in the backfield and out wide and the way that Mac Jones is playing, this is definitely the most explosive offense in the country right now.” Saturday Down South’s Connor O’Gara writes that Alabama showed it is the gold standard for offenses against Georgia’s vaunted defense.
Alabama and Clemson are heavy favorites to make the College Football Playoff field as things stand right now. So, we could be racing toward yet another meeting between Nick Saban and Dabo Swinney in the Playoff, perhaps with a title on the line once again. Each team will need its offense to keep lighting up the scoreboard to get to the title game, but it appears both are up to the task.
We continue to see offenses pile up points this season. Heck, Clemson just put up 73 points on the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets on Saturday. There is some serious competition when it comes to stats, and the national FBS leaderboards reflect that as we enter late-October.
So, which players are leading the country in a number of key statistical categories? Here’s a quick look at the FBS leaders as things stand today (via CFBStats.com):
- Passing yards: Dillon Gabriel, UCF — 1,756
- Passing TDs: Sam Ehlinger, Texas — 16
- Rushing yards: Sincere McCormick, UTSA — 702
- Rushing TDs: Najee Harris, Alabama — 11
- Receiving yards: Jaelon Darden, North Texas — 689
- Receiving TDs: Jaelon Darden, North Texas — 10
- Sacks: Patrick Jones II, Pitt — 7.0
- Tackles: Max Richardson, Boston College — 53
- Interceptions: Seven players tied — 3
The Big Ten returns to the field this weekend, but players in that conference will face an uphill battle to climb the statistical leaderboards, as some of the guys mentioned above have already played in six games. Will we see a shakeup this time next week? Maybe someone will snag a fourth (or fifth) interception to separate themselves from that seven-person logjam.
- It was another incredible week of upsets in the SEC. We know Alabama is the top team in the league, but how to sort the teams beyond the Crimson Tide is anyone’s guess. Saturday Down South’s Joe Cox tried to make sense of the madness in this week’s SEC Power Rankings.
- All around the country, there were some surprising results. It’s difficult to pick out the weekend’s biggest winners and losers, but that’s what Bleacher Report’s David Kenyon did in this column. From Coastal Carolina to Mississippi State and everywhere in between, he breaks down what we should be excited about and what needs work.
- Notre Dame is 4-0, but only beat Louisville 12-7 on Saturday. The Irish are one of the top teams in the country, but are they a legitimate College Football Playoff contender? Have the consistently overhyped Irish suddenly become underrated? Those are questions Yahoo’s Pete Thamel tries to answer in his weekend takeaways column.
- The Big Ten returns to action on Friday and Saturday! After initially dealing with a slew of opt-outs, a number of the league’s top players have decided to return for the 2020 season. So, which players are the best of the best? Saturday Tradition’s Phil Ervin ranks the B1G’s top 20 offensive players.
Ohio State is a Playoff favorite before its season starts. Are the Buckeyes the No. 1 team in the country?
The B1G’s long-awaited return to the field will be over this weekend. Starting a month after most Power 5 conferences, the league will open the year with No. 14 Wisconsin hosting Illinois on Friday, Oct. 23, before the smorgasbord of B1G football takes over the television on Saturday.
It marks the return of No. 5 Ohio State, regarded by some as the best team in college football for the 2020 season. The Buckeyes are the preseason favorite to win the B1G title, earn a bid in the College Football Playoff and compete for a national championship. All this without playing a single game yet. And, as odd as it may sound, you might be able to make the case OSU is the best team in the country:
- There’s no question the roster is loaded. Former head coach-turned-analyst Urban Meyer made this point during FOX’s Big Noon Kickoff, saying “every player … will be playing in the NFL.” Obviously, Meyer’s opinion may be a little biased, having coached at Ohio State just two years ago. But Saturday Tradition’s Phil Ervin agrees with Meyer’s assessment, listing five Buckeyes among the Top 20 offensive players returning to the B1G in 2020.
- Ohio State is nearly a consensus pick for the College Football Playoff. Yes, even without playing a game, ESPN’s 15-analyst crew nearly unanimously picked Ohio State to be one of the four teams in the College Football Playoff. That’s a prediction that lines up with the expectations Saturday Tradition’s Ryan O’Gara has for the Bucks, projecting Ryan Day and company to finish the regular season undefeated in his Crystal Ball series.
- It’s not just the offense that’s loaded, either. Saturday Tradition’s Phil Ervin believes with CB Shaun Wade and LB Baron Browning returning, the Buckeyes have two of the best defensive players in the B1G on the roster. Also from Tradition, writer Ryan Clark believes the coaching staff is in place to lead this Ohio State team to a national title and that head coach Ryan Day will be named the National Coach of the Year.
- Still not convinced about the Buckeyes’ potential dominance? Justin Fields and several of his teammates completely changed their diet. That’s right, the Ohio State quarterback who was a Heisman Trophy finalist a year ago is now consuming a vegan diet to maximize his potential on the field. Remember, this is a player who accounted for 51 touchdowns with just 3 interceptions a year ago and led his team to a 13-1 record. He wasn’t the only one to make that switch either, with several teammates also decided to make the transition to veganism for the upcoming football season. If he’s feeling better than he did a year ago, then it’s no wonder Fields told reporters he’s excited to get back on the field again.
Ohio State opens the season against Nebraska, a game ESPN’s FPI is giving the Buckeyes a 95.4% chance to win. There isn’t much concern about OSU starting the year 1-0. Things get much more difficult in Week 2, though, traveling to Happy Valley to play No. 8 Penn State. There’s a good chance we know by Halloween whether or not Ohio State can live up to the sky-high expectations in 2020.
JUST FOR FUN
On Saturday, Clemson put up 73 points in a 73-7 win over Georgia Tech. For today’s quiz, can you name the last FBS school to drop 70 or more points on an opponent? Bonus point if you can name the opponent, too. (Hint: You only have to go back to last season.)
Scroll down to see the answers to today’s quiz.
A few games got postponed, but there were still some great uniform combos. Who wore it best this week?
This week was a bit rough in the college football world, with a handful of intriguing matchups, including Baylor-Oklahoma State and LSU-Florida, postponed. However, there were still plenty of fun games, and there were also some teams that brought out great uniform combinations.
So, which teams had the best and most unique looks of the weekend? Let’s take a look at some of the top combos we saw on Friday and Saturday:
- Auburn went with an interesting look at South Carolina on Saturday. Though the Gamecocks beat the Tigers for the first time since 1933, Auburn looked nice in its all-white uniform combination. We here at Saturday Football are big fans of a clean, icy look like that.
- Tennessee may have gotten stomped by Kentucky, but the Vols looked good! They broke out their orange pants, orange jerseys and white helmets for Saturday’s 34-7 loss. We don’t like that look as much as their all-white uniform combination, but still, we applaud the Vols for switching things up every now and then.
- We’ve discussed some all-white uniforms, how about an all-black look? Well, tis the season for some darker, spookier looks, and kudos to Middle Tennessee for pulling it off in excellent fashion. They might be called the Blue Raiders, but they looked awfully good in these all-black uniforms on Saturday.
- We’ve given some love to some classic combos this season. But, we haven’t talked much about the BYU Cougars. BYU is (for now) solidly in the Playoff discussion. Their white helmets, white jerseys and bright blue pants? That’s also a sneakily iconic look. The Cougars have had a lot of success in the past, and they are looking good and playing good once again this season.
With the Big Ten returning to the field and some other interesting matchups this coming weekend, we’ll see which teams bring their best when it comes to uniforms. Tune in next Monday for some more discussion of who wore it best!
The last FBS program to score 70 or more points in a game was Ohio State. The Buckeyes dropped 73 points on Maryland in a 73-14 victory in Week 11 of the 2019 season. Will we see any additional 70-point performances from the Buckeyes as they get ready to start the 2020 campaign this weekend?
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“It was emotional for me to come back today. Now, I think they handled the disruption really, really well. I’m not sure me coming back today — I think they were ready to play this game whether I was there or not.”
– Alabama coach Nick Saban was grateful to be back on the sidelines vs. Georgia after three negative COVID-19 tests. But, he said he thinks the Tide would have been ready to play with or without him.
TWEET OF THE DAY
The Kentucky Wildcats went into Neyland Stadium on Saturday and beat up on the Vols, earning a 34-7 victory. That was their first win on Rocky Top since 1984. Pretty crazy that former Clemson WR Hunter Renfrow was just starting his college career then. Seems like just yesterday he was with the Tigers.