Saturday Football: SEC QB battles, Nebraska's beef and uniform talk
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Good morning and happy Monday! The Big Ten is back! The Pac-12 might be coming back. The Mountain West and MAC are also considering return plans. We could end up with a full college football season this fall after all! Who would have thought that would be the case even a week ago?
For today’s newsletter, though, we have some other fish to fry. Today, we’ll discuss some SEC QB battles, Nebraska’s beef with the Big Ten and some of the best uniforms from the weekend. Let’s get started!
SEC QB BATTLES
A number of SEC teams have yet to name starting QBs. What’s the latest from these preseason battles?
The SEC, which has been slow and steady in its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, is getting ready to start its 2020 season on Saturday. The season will feature a 10-game, SEC-only schedule for each team, which makes for some loaded weekends of SEC action! However, as we prepare for Week 1, a few schools are still unsettled at the quarterback position.
Between some coaching back-and-forths to some legitimately difficult decisions, let’s take a look at some of the open battles as Week 1 rapidly approaches:
- First, we’ll start with the highest-ranked team in the league — Alabama. The Crimson Tide have 2019 backup Mac Jones battling it out with freshman sensation Bryce Young. Look, this isn’t the most intense battle of them all, but it is still worth mentioning. Jones is almost certainly going to get the start against Mizzou, but Young will get his playing time throughout the season. Young’s father isn’t worried too much. Recently, he compared the battle to the one between Jalen Hurts and Tua Tagovailoa a couple of years ago. He explained that he made that comparison because that competition was handled so well by Alabama. Meanwhile, Jones’s expectations are high. SEC Network analyst Tim Tebow said Saturday that he believes Jones can be “one of the best players in the SEC.” ESPN’s Alex Scarborough wrote a piece detailing why this is another huge decision Alabama must nail.
- Next, we’ll take a trip to Athens, where Georgia also has a QB battle. The Bulldogs lost Wake Forest graduate transfer Jamie Newman when he opted out of the 2020 season. That left USC transfer JT Daniels and redshirt freshman D’Wan Mathis to battle it out for the Week 1 start at Arkansas. The problem? Daniels hasn’t been completely cleared for contact following a knee injury at USC last year. SEC Network analyst Matt Stinchcomb thinks Mathis will start against the Razorbacks.
- Speaking of Arkansas… the Hogs have some QB questions, too. Well, to be fair, it’s not much of a competition, as it would be shocking if Florida grad transfer Feleipe Franks didn’t start against Georgia. Still, Sam Pittman is playing coy with his old boss Kirby Smart. But, Franks has already been named a team captain for 2020. Pittman has also consistently praised the former Gator this offseason.
- Finally, let’s move over to Columbia, South Carolina. There, the Gamecocks made a bit of a surprising decision last week, naming Colorado State grad transfer Collin Hill the starter over incumbent Ryan Hilinski. Perhaps it’s because Hill has experience working with new South Carolina OC (and former Colorado State head coach) Mike Bobo. Expect to see Hilinski get some work, too, though. Bobo said Hilinski handled the news about not being the starter really well.
In 2020, it’s going to be important to have multiple quarterbacks ready to play. It seems all of these SEC teams we’ve discussed will have that. Still, it’s worth keeping an eye on how these battles progress. Expect there to be some gamesmanship from all parties moving toward kickoff on Saturday afternoon.
This is going to be a weird season when it comes to stats. Right now, some teams have played 2 or 3 games while entire conferences have yet to play a single game. That will lead to some disparity with players who have actually played this season putting up big numbers, while guys from the SEC (and eventually, the Big Ten) will have some catching up to do.
However, we’ve made it through three weeks of FBS action. So, let’s take a look at the players who lead the country in some important statistical categories:
- Passing yards: Shane Buechele, SMU — 711
- Passing TDs: Two players tied — 6
- Rushing yards: Sincere McCormick, UTSA — 295
- Rushing TDs: Two players tied — 5
- Receiving yards: Tim Jones, Southern Miss — 299
- Receiving TDs: Jaelon Darden, North Texas — 5
- Sacks: Two players tied — 3.5
- Tackles: Malik Shorts, Southern Miss — 25
- Interceptions: Four players tied — 2
Will we see a big shakeup in these rankings when the SEC returns to the field this weekend? We’ll find out soon enough, but these guys are off to impressive starts nonetheless.
- With the SEC starting Saturday, it’s time for some predictions! The staff at Saturday Down South made their predictions over the weekend. Let’s just say this year doesn’t have the consensus there has been in years past. Find out who the SDS staff likes here.
- The Big Ten has officially released another schedule. Perhaps this one will last more than a week and actually feature some games before it is scrapped. Saturday Tradition’s Phil Ervin broke down the schedule and predicted each B1G squad’s divisional crossover record.
- The new AP Poll came out on Sunday afternoon. What should we take away from the new poll? And, what’s next for each of the ranked squads? ESPN’s staff broke down the latest AP Poll-related news on Sunday after the poll came out.
- Week 3 saw some upsets, key injuries and great performances. Whether it was Marshall dominating Appalachian State, Miami’s big win over Louisville or Oklahoma State QB Spencer Sanders getting hurt, it was an important week around the country. Bleacher Report’s David Kenyon named some of the biggest winners and losers from Week 3.
NEBRASKA AGAINST THE BIG TEN
Nebraska’s persistence helped reinstate football this fall. Why is there still beef between the Huskers and the B1G?
Have you heard of the newest rivalry in the Midwest? The entire state of Nebraska is fighting with everyone in the Big Ten right now — with the exception of newly-discovered ally Ohio State.
It’s a little strange, to be honest. After all, it was Nebraska’s reluctance to accept the Big Ten’s decision that brought the 14 presidents and chancellors back to the (virtual) table to discuss a Return to Competition plan, which eventually led to the Big Ten starting a fall season on Oct. 24. As Saturday Tradition columnist Connor O’Gara writes, it was the Huskers that saved the season against all odds.
Nebraska’s persistence came at a price, though:
- Good luck with that new schedule, Nebraska. Not only were the Huskers the only team in the Big Ten West to draw two of the three bluebloods from the East (playing Ohio State and Penn State), they’ll be playing three ranked opponents in the first four weeks of the season. There’s no question Nebraska was one of the biggest losers of the conference’s revised schedule for the 2020 season, and it’s going to make life pretty difficult for Scott Frost in his third season in Lincoln.
- Nebraska AD Bill Moos wasn’t too thrilled, either. Though Nebraska accomplished the goal of bringing football back to the Big Ten this fall, the Huskers athletic director said he’s “not toasting champagne” after seeing the team’s new schedule. Nebraska will play five teams that were initially ranked in the AP Preseason Poll back in August. For comparison, Ohio State will play two and Penn State will take on three.
- Speaking of the Buckeyes… Remember that ally that Nebraska had gained during the offseason? Well, Ohio State reaped the reward of a reinstated fall season. It will play Nebraska in the season opener and Illinois in its second cross-division game. As Saturday Tradition’s Dustin Schutte writes, it’s as if the Big Ten is protecting its top contender for the College Football Playoff.
- ESPN’s Desmond Howard said last week that the Big Ten’s decision was good news for college football, but continues to throw serious shade at Nebraska, calling it the “loudest 5-win program in football.” Not to worry, though, Husker fans are throwing it right back at the analyst, particularly with some clever signs on College GameDay over the weekend.
It’s been a weird month in the Big Ten, with tensions rising between Nebraska and the rest of the conference. That probably won’t dissipate anytime soon. But neither will the fact that the Huskers were a driving force in reviving the 2020 football season.
JUST FOR FUN
With the NFL in full swing (Week 2 wraps up with New Orleans at Las Vegas tonight), let’s focus on that for today’s quiz. Can you name the five FBS programs that had the most active NFL players on Week 1 rosters heading into the 2020 season? Bonus points if you can guess how many players each school has in the pros.
Scroll down to see the answers to today’s quiz.
Week 3 brought some more great uniform combinations. Which schools had the most notable looks?
A number of teams brought out their best looks as they got the 2020 season started on Saturday. From classic looks to fresh new combinations, there was plenty to check out all day. And, with more teams getting ready to kick off next weekend, we’re sure the great looks will continue.
But, who had the best and most interesting looks of the weekend? Let’s take a look at some highlights in this section:
- First, we’ll start with the biggest uniform reveal of the week. That comes to us from Athens, Georgia, where the Georgia Bulldogs unveiled some incredible Nike uniforms celebrating the 40th anniversary of their 1980 national title. One even features dog collar trim around the neck. The Dawgs will wear their white-jersey, red-pants combo in Week 1 against Arkansas, though. Former Georgia coach Mark Richt shared on Twitter that he and his wife are fans of the new look.
- Going back to Friday, there was a game with an interesting aesthetic. When Coastal Carolina and Campbell squared off, the orange Campbell jerseys really clashed with the aqua Coastal Carolina look. Saturday Down South engagement editor Chris Marler made a funny comparison for what the jersey matchup looked like.
- Finally, let’s talk about a couple of great helmet looks from the week. Georgia Tech broke out a clean all-white look against UCF, but the highlight was easily the gold facemask. Meanwhile, we absolutely love the Oklahoma State Pistol Pete helmets (seen above). They look even better with the orange-jersey, white-pants combo.
Next weekend, the SEC is back in action. We’ll see the Georgia uniforms on the field for the first time, as well as some notable other looks. Will other schools also break out the unique looks? We’ll find out next Saturday! And, of course, check back here next Monday for some more uniform discussion.
Here are the answers to today’s FBS-to-the-NFL roster quiz. The five schools with the most players on NFL Week 1 rosters are:
- Alabama (56)
- Ohio State (50)
- LSU (41)
- Florida (39)
- Michigan (33)
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“You saw what happened last week (with Georgia Tech beating Florida State). You can say we’re the best team in Florida.”
– UCF QB Dillon Gabriel and his teammates are riding high after a 49-21 trouncing of Georgia Tech on Saturday. The Florida Gators may have something to say about Gabriel’s claims, but we shall see starting this weekend.
TWEET OF THE DAY
That’s quite an impressive feat for The Citadel! If you simply ignore the fact that the Bulldogs gave up 49 points to the Tigers in the first half and Clemson had its second- and third-stringers in for most of the third and fourth quarters, it was a good game!
This edition of the Saturday Football newsletter was written by Adam Spencer and Dustin Schutte.