Convention-only schedules persevered to chunk up a number of of the main contenders within the SEC, leaving the league hinging its School Soccer Playoff hopes on a make a selection few solely 4 video games into the common season.
After a difficult Saturday, the SEC has simply 4 groups with fewer than two losses and a dwindling listing of choices for the nationwide semifinals.
This isn’t to mention the SEC champion isn’t a lock for the highest 4, and even that the convention received’t once more have a case for making up part of the playoff box, particularly all over this distinctive common season.
And the SEC nonetheless has a monopoly at the faculty soccer highlight. Alabama’s 41-24 win in opposition to Georgia was once one of probably the most expected video games of the common season and in all probability a very powerful matchup on the subject of its affect at the playoff.
Upfront of the Purple Tide and Bulldogs, alternatively, Auburn and Tennessee fell to 2-2 after shedding as favorites in opposition to long-suffering combatants — the Tigers to South Carolina and Tennessee at house to Kentucky.
The Tigers and Volunteers sign up for LSU, Florida and others in suffering with the conference-only scheduling type that eradicated the warm-up length of non-league video games in opposition to pushovers and compelled groups to step proper into extra tough matchups in opposition to SEC combatants.
Saturday wasn’t a whole crisis. Texas A&M moved to Three-1 after beating Mississippi State 28-14, the Aggies’ 2nd win in a row after a lopsided loss in opposition to Alabama to start out October. Arkansas is now an overly spectacular and surprising 2-2 after beating Ole Pass over 33-21.
And Alabama made a powerful case for being No. 1 on this week’s Amway Coaches Ballot. Even after a disappointing loss, Georgia will stay the crew to overcome within the East department and a danger to win the SEC and go back to the playoff.
Listed below are the remainder of Saturday’s winners and losers in faculty soccer:
The listing 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 admittedly ridiculous. (Either one of trainer Dabo Swinney’s children, Will and Drew, made a catch.) In the back of Trevor Lawrence’s 404 passing yards and 5 touchdowns, the Tigers remained unbeaten and would possibly have carried out sufficient to stick atop the Coaches Ballot.
The Wildcats have adopted two shut losses, to Auburn (29-13) and Ole Pass over (42-41), with back-to-back wins in opposition to Mississippi State and Tennessee. Each wins had been paced via the protection. The Wildcats returned two interceptions for touchdowns within the sport’s first 5 mins and held Tennessee to simply 287 yards of offense in successful 34-7, this system’s first victory in Knoxville since 1984.
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There was once comprehensible worry over how neatly the Hurricanes would soar again after shedding to Clemson, particularly in opposition to a motivated opponent in Pittsburgh taking a look to rewrite its season after shedding two instantly video games via a unmarried level. No longer that it was once a banner efficiency: Miami’s 31-19 win did not come with a lot from the working sport (2.6 yards in line with lift) and noticed quarterback D’Eriq King throw two interceptions for the second one sport in a row. However King tossed a season-high 4 touchdowns and the Hurricanes hung on to stay within the thick of the New 12 months’s Six bowl dialog.
The Razorbacks are the most important marvel within the Bowl Subdivision and one of the crucial nice luck tales in contemporary SEC historical past. After choosing off six Ole Pass over passes within the 12-point win, Arkansas is sitting at 2-2 underneath first-year trainer Sam Pittman after being picked in some circles to win not more than as soon as by contrast SEC-only time table.
Arkansas working again Rakeem Boyb celebrates with quarterback Feleipe Franks after speeding for a landing all over the primary quarter in opposition to Ole Pass over. (Picture: Nelson Chenault, USA TODAY Sports activities)
The Mike Norvell technology has its defining second. After a terrible get started — a lopsided loss to rival Miami, Norvell sidelined following a favorable take a look at for COVID-19 — the Seminoles pulled off the yr’s largest dissatisfied via dominating North Carolina early after which holding on for a 31-28 win. The decision to name Jordan Travis the starting quarterback has paid off for the offense, which has rallied around the former Louisville transfer. Travis finished with 191 passing yards and 107 yards rushing, one of two Seminoles to crack the 100-yard mark on the ground.
Pushed and threatened by a Georgia offense that hit on explosive plays through the air and a Georgia defense that is dangerous when able to attack the passer, Alabama responded to a 24-17 deficit by scoring the game’s final 24 points. Credit goes to quarterback Mac Jones, who had another outstanding day, but the win was keyed by an unlikely source: Alabama’s defense. Maligned through three games, the Crimson Tide made two key interceptions in the third quarter to spark the impressive win.
South Carolina had never beaten Auburn as a member of the SEC. The Tigers hadn’t lost to the Gamecocks, period, since 1933. It’s been that kind of year. After spotting Auburn a 16-7 lead in 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 lost despite running for 209 yards on the ground, marking the program’s first loss when cracking the 200-yard mark since early in the 2016 season.
Here’s where we nitpick a win, which is unfair given how many other preseason contenders have already suffered one, two or even three losses. But the Fighting Irish were uninspiring in a 12-7 win against Louisville, which had allowed 38.7 points per game and 6.8 yards per play in losing three straight in ACC play. While able to dominate the clock, run the ball effectively and avoid any crucial turnovers, Notre Dame’s overall listlessness doesn’t breed confidence in how the Irish will fare against Clemson next month.
Needing a win to stay within range of Cincinnati and SMU in the American, UCF coughed up leads of 21, 14 and 12 points in the second half and missed the potential game-winning field goal with 19 seconds left to lose 50-49 to Memphis. For the Tigers, who were led by senior quarterback Brady White’s 486 passing yards and six touchdowns, the win snaps a 13-game losing streak to the Knights dating to 1990. After seeing its slim hopes of making the playoff outright eliminated in a loss earlier this month to Tulsa, falling to Memphis endangers UCF’s chances of claiming the access-bowl bid given to the best team in the Group of Five. Combined, White and UCF sophomore quarterback Dillon Gabriel accounted for 1,034 passing yards and 11 scores.
The sky isn’t falling. Even after losing to Alabama, the Bulldogs remain in the thick of the playoff chase and the likeliest candidate to come out of the East division and meet the Crimson Tide in December for the SEC championship. The loss does raise questions about Stetson Bennett’s future as the starting quarterback and about the health of a defense that had dominated through three games but allowed 564 yards to the Crimson Tide. Both issues can and will be addressed before these two teams meet again. The bigger concern: Are Georgia and Kirby Smart ever going to beat Nick Saban and Alabama?
Follow USA TODAY Sports colleges reporter Paul Myerberg on Twitter @PaulMyerberg