Wouldn’t or not it’s peak 2020 if a non-Energy 5 staff made the Faculty Soccer Playoff?
No staff from outdoors one of many Energy 5 conferences (and Notre Dame) has come near sniffing the playoff since its inception in 2014. And a Group of 5 staff probably isn’t going to make the playoff this yr.
However with BYU and Cincinnati at the moment ranked within the prime 10 of the AP ballot, 2020 not less than presents the very best likelihood for a staff outdoors of the standard suspects to knock on the playoff door. Right here’s a take a look at the entire undefeated non-Energy 5 groups who’re at the moment in competition for both a playoff spot or a New Yr’s Six Bowl sport.
*MAC groups excluded since every staff within the convention has solely performed two video games up to now
No. 7 Cincinnati (7-0)
The Bearcats have been phenomenal up to now this season. Cincy has given up fewer than 20 factors in six video games and that different sport was a 55-20 win over Austin Peay to begin the season. Cincy’s common margin of victory is 29 factors and a win in opposition to UCF on Saturday will go a protracted option to boosting the Bearcats’ hopes of being assured not less than a New Yr’s Six bowl sport as the highest Group of 5 staff. If Cincinnati beats UCF, Temple and No. 25 Tulsa to shut the season and wins the AAC, it must be — not less than — on the periphery of playoff dialogue.
No. 8 BYU (8-0)
The Cougars usually are not eligible for the Group of 5 spot within the New Yr’s Six bowl video games since they aren’t part of a convention. So BYU’s finest likelihood to get right into a prime bowl sport if it misses out on the playoff is thru an at-large bid. Can the Cougars get it? It’s very attainable. This Zach Wilson-led staff has video games vs. North Alabama and San Diego State left on the schedule. A ten-0 season may be very doable. However that additionally presents an issue. BYU’s pandemic-modified schedule is extremely weak. The playoff committee will probably maintain that in opposition to the Cougars.
No. 15 Coastal Carolina (7-0)
The Chanticleers are one of the crucial enjoyable tales of the season. The shock Solar Belt staff beat Kansas to begin the season and has reeled off 5 wins in convention play. Coastal’s largest take a look at of the yr comes on Saturday with a sport in opposition to App State at Midday. A win there and at Texas State the next week means Coastal could possibly be 9-0 earlier than taking part in Liberty on Dec. 5. If Coastal beats each App State and Liberty and runs the desk it must be subsequent in line behind an undefeated Cincinnati staff for a Group of 5 spot.
No. 15 Marshall (7-0)
Marshall produced one of many greater tales of Week 11 with a 28-point win over Center Tennessee State on the fiftieth anniversary of the airplane crash that killed 37 Marshall gamers and eight coaches. The Thundering Herd beat Appalachian State in Week 3 however aside from which have performed a extremely delicate schedule. And there’s not a lot left to achieve traction on. Marshall’s remaining video games are in opposition to Charlotte, Rice and Florida Worldwide. A ten-0 Marshall is a enjoyable story. However it’s not a staff that can have a shot at a New Yr’s Six sport barring losses from Coastal Carolina, Cincinnati and others.
No. 21 Liberty (8-0)
We will’t ignore what Liberty has carried out this season below coach Hugh Freeze. The Flames have overwhelmed each Syracuse and Virginia Tech and play NC State on Saturday night time. A win there pushes Liberty to 9-0 with three ACC wins. However very similar to BYU, Liberty is ineligible for the New Yr’s Six berth for Group of 5 convention groups as a result of it’s an unbiased staff. The probabilities of Liberty making the playoff are nearer to none than slim, so the Flames will probably should accept a non-top tier bowl sport.
It’s not too early to begin enthusiastic about the Mountain West’s probabilities for a New Yr’s Six sport. The Wolf Pack sit at 4-0 after beating New Mexico on Saturday. With video games in opposition to Hawaii and Fresno State over the following two weeks, Nevada could possibly be at 6-0 forward of what could possibly be an enormous sport in opposition to San Jose State on Dec. 11. That sport may find yourself being for a spot within the Mountain West title sport.
San Jose State (4-0)
Sure, San Jose State is undefeated. Powered by former Arkansas and Texas A&M QB Nick Starkel, the Spartans have overwhelmed each Air Pressure and San Diego State this season. The most important take a look at of the yr looms on Nov. 28 when SJSU travels to Boise State. A win there could be large for the Spartans’ Mountain West probabilities and will probably arrange a battle of unbeatens in opposition to Nevada on Dec. 11.
– Nick Bromberg
Oregon’s new offense off to a promising begin
Though it misplaced quarterback Justin Herbert to the NFL, the early returns on Oregon’s offense up to now in 2020 have been very promising.
As a matter of reality, the Geese, now 2-0 after Saturday night time’s win over Washington State, look much more artistic than they ever did throughout Herbert’s time operating the offense. And this has nothing to do with Herbert, who is prospering as a rookie for the Los Angeles Chargers. It has extra to do with an improve at offensive coordinator.
Marcus Arroyo known as performs for the Geese for the previous three seasons however left after the 2019 marketing campaign to change into the pinnacle coach at UNLV. Just a few weeks after Arroyo departed Eugene for Las Vegas, Joe Moorhead was fired as the pinnacle coach at Mississippi State.
Moorhead wasn’t a lot of a slot in Starkville, however his work reworking the offense at Penn State vaulted him to the highest of the offensive coordinator market. Oregon and head coach Mario Cristobal pounced and introduced Moorhead to Eugene.
Like many different applications throughout the nation, Moorhead and the Geese handled the challenges of putting in a brand new offense amid a pandemic. There have been kinks to work out via two weeks, nevertheless it’s onerous to not be very inspired by Moorhead’s method to play-calling in case you’re an Oregon fan.
It at all times felt like Herbert was being hindered by Oregon’s previous offensive method. Arroyo’s play-calling had grown predictable. The Geese had been continuously operating on first down, and it felt like Herbert needed to play hero ball on third-and-long far too usually.
By two video games, Moorhead’s creativity and aggressiveness even whereas taking part in a first-year beginning quarterback in Tyler Shough has been on show. The Geese fell behind WSU primarily resulting from turnovers within the first half on Saturday night time in Pullman, however they obtained right into a rhythm within the second half and Shough was capable of deftly unfold the ball round to eight totally different receivers.
At Penn State, Moorhead at all times discovered artistic methods to get the ball into the palms of star operating again Saquon Barkley. Oregon has one of many nation’s prime operating again duos in CJ Verdell and Travis Dye. Whereas Verdell rushed for 118 yards and a landing, Dye had two landing receptions off of fantastic play designs.
Watch Oregon use the speedy Jaylon Redd in movement as a decoy right here, permitting Dye to leak out of the backfield on a seam route. Shough hit him in stride to place the Geese forward late within the third quarter.
Within the fourth quarter, Moorhead wasn’t afraid to ship Dye downfield on third down even with Washington State exhibiting blitz. The design of Washington State’s blitz obtained Dye singled up out of the backfield with edge rusher Ron Stone Jr. Shough accurately recognized the mismatch and hit Dye in stride simply because the free rusher obtained to him. The outcome was a 71-yard landing that prolonged Oregon’s result in 36-22 with 8:25 to play.
Oregon went on to win 43-29, placing up 581 yards of offense within the course of.
Oregon, ranked No. 11 within the AP ballot, is the defending Pac-12 champion and has the appears to be like of the North division’s prime staff up to now. With such a condensed schedule, it’s onerous to know if there may be any practical likelihood for a Pac-12 staff to be thought-about for the Faculty Soccer Playoff. If any staff goes to drive its means into the dialog, I feel it’s going to be Oregon.
– Sam Cooper
Matt Corral’s rebound forward of an enormous sport vs. No. 5 Texas A&M
Matt Corral has carried out greater than bounce again from a few horrendous weeks.
The Ole Miss QB had one of the crucial notorious performances of the season on Oct. 17 when he threw six interceptions within the Rebels’ 33-21 loss to Arkansas. He adopted that sport up by throwing two interceptions in opposition to Auburn per week later.
That’s eight interceptions in two video games. That could possibly be a confidence-killer for lots of quarterbacks. And worthy of a change in starters for a lot of coaches.
However Lane Kiffin caught with Corral and it has paid dividends. Corral threw for 412 yards and 6 touchdowns in opposition to Vanderbilt per week in the past. And on Saturday, Corral set an Ole Miss document with 513 yards and threw 4 touchdowns within the Rebels’ 59-42 win over South Carolina.
A key to Corral’s success has been his reference to WR Elijah Moore. Moore has caught 27 passes for 455 yards and 5 touchdowns over that span. Moore now has 74 catches for 1,054 yards and eight scores on the season.
Ole Miss’ offense has been among the best within the nation and is an enormous motive why the Rebels could possibly be a stylish upset decide at No. 5 Texas A&M in Week 12. Although if Ole Miss is to drag a top-five shocker, the protection goes to should play significantly better than it has.
The Rebels’ 54-21 win over Vanderbilt is the one time all season the place Ole Miss has allowed fewer than 30 factors. And provided that Texas A&M is averaging over 30 factors per sport in 2020, it appears probably that Ole Miss gained’t maintain an opponent below 30 for a second time this season.
Which means Kiffin’s offense should carry out as soon as once more. If Corral retains taking part in like he has over the past couple weeks, that shouldn’t be a problem.
– Nick Bromberg
Probably the most disappointing groups in every convention
Whereas some conferences have groups which have performed as many as eight or 9 video games, different conferences are simply starting their 2020 campaigns. Such is life on the planet of faculty soccer amid the coronavirus pandemic. Regardless of the disparity, it’s value analyzing a number of the applications which have fallen effectively under expectations.
The Owls had been anticipated to be a center of the street staff within the American, an expectation that not less than requires some degree of competitiveness. At 1-5, Temple hasn’t even been that. The Owls have handled a COVID-19 outbreak alongside the best way, however dropping their final three video games by a mixed 84 factors shouldn’t be look.
The truth that Scott Satterfield in some way inherited this system Bobby Petrino left behind and gained eight video games in 2019 was an unimaginable accomplishment. So maybe we must always have all realized there could be a fall earlier than Satterfield may actually overhaul the roster. Nonetheless, a 2-6 document with the extent of expertise on the UL offense has been surprising.
Large 12: TCU
It form of looks like TCU is treading water as a program. After Saturday’s 24-6 loss to West Virginia, the Horned Frogs have a mixed 15-17 (10-15 Large 12) document over the previous three seasons. Gary Patterson has been TCU’s head coach since 2001, however his program is now entrenched within the mediocre center of the Large 12.
Large Ten: Penn State
Who may have seen this 0-4 begin coming? PSU gained 11 video games in three of the final 4 seasons, however hadn’t fairly been capable of crack the Faculty Soccer Playoff. This yr, PSU has been stricken by poor quarterback play. James Franklin has recruited effectively at PSU, however the lack of elite QB play has been a significant hindrance on the ceiling of his program.
C-USA: Western Kentucky
After two dropping seasons below Mike Sanford, WKU shocked by going 9-4 in its first yr below Tyson Helton. That success has not carried over to 2020. WKU is 3-6 with one of many worst offenses within the nation. WKU averages a measly 276.2 yards per sport, which ranks No. 121 within the nation.
MAC: Bowling Inexperienced
The mix of Scot Loeffler as head coach and Brian VanGorder as defensive coordinator isn’t working very effectively at Bowling Inexperienced. BGSU went 3-9 final yr and is off to an 0-2 begin in 2020. In its two video games, the Falcons have scored 27 factors whereas permitting 100.
Mountain West: Utah State
The second go-around with Gary Andersen as USU’s head coach crashed and burned. The Aggies went 7-6 final yr and moved on from Andersen after an 0-3 begin. That begin is now 0-4 and a program that performed in seven bowl video games in its final eight years is taking a look at a extremely tough 2020 season.
Stanford, as soon as a perennial Pac-12 title contender, has misplaced 10 of its final 14 video games and is at the moment on a six-game dropping streak that dates again to final season. The staff’s 4-8 document in 2019 was a shock, and David Shaw’s group doesn’t seem to have improved a lot within the offseason. The Cardinal are actually 0-2 with losses to Oregon and Colorado.
Whereas Tennessee is worthy of consideration right here, it’s onerous to be extra disappointing than a 2-3 begin for the defending nationwide champions. LSU misplaced its opener to what has confirmed to be a horrible Mississippi State staff; it additionally misplaced 48-11 to Auburn. The departure of expertise from 2019 was large, however no one anticipated the Tigers to be this dangerous.
Solar Belt: Arkansas State
Within the Solar Belt preseason ballot, Arkansas State was predicted because the second-place staff within the West Division, not far behind Louisiana. Whereas UL is 7-1 and ranked within the prime 25, Arkansas State is 3-5 total and has only a 1-4 document in Solar Belt play. The Crimson Wolves have misplaced three straight.
– Sam Cooper
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