Both Florida and Miami suffered their first losses of the season on Saturday–but because this season is unlike any other, they are not eliminated from national championship contention just yet.
For the Florida Gators, you really could see the end result coming by the play of the defense in the first two weeks of the season. During their first visit to Kyle Field in eight seasons, the Gators got run on by Texas A&M running back Isaiah Spiller who ran for 174 yards on 27 carries. The Aggies dominated in the fourth quarter and kicked the game-winning field goal as time expired.
Things will look different on the Gator defense soon. “We are going to have to reevaluate a lot of things defensively,” Coach Dan Mullen promised in his post-game press conference. Mullen said he plans to look “at our personnel, where we are at, our ability to make plays” and “making sure we have all the right guys at the right position to make the plays we need to get off the field.”
The Gators could not get off the field. Texas A&M completed 12 out of 15 third-down conversions. The problems on the Gators defense in the first two weeks finally got to them in week three, but all hope is not lost. Florida has a ten-game all-SEC schedule. One loss will not be the end of things and a two-loss SEC team could still find its way into the playoffs. The Gators have a shot to beat both Georgia and the best team from the West, probably Alabama if they just keep playing hard, but a little smarter. The problems in Gainesville are fixable.
There was a full two weeks of talk about whether Miami was “back” yet and I’m not sure we have an answer yet. One thing we do know after Saturday is that Clemson is the best team in college football so far this season. The Tigers trounced the Hurricanes 42-17. Miami got their lone offensive touchdown late in the game. The Canes got another touchdown by blocking a 61-yard field goal attempt by Clemson to end the first half.
“That was a bad decision on my part,” said Clemson Coach Dabo Swinney said after the game. The Tiger defense was smothering, holding talented Hurricane QB D’Eriq King to just 12-28 passing for only 121 yards and intercepted him twice. On the offensive side of the ball, the Tigers dominated, and running back Travis Etienne put himself in the Heisman discussion.
Clemson was clearly better than Miami, but what if the Hurricanes could beat everyone else on their schedule? Could they get a rematch with Clemson or possibly even Notre Dame if Clemson trips up? While the Gators could potentially lose again and still find a way into the playoffs, Miami does not have that luxury. The Canes can, however, still hope and keep playing hard, even if “the U” isn’t quite back just yet.
Top 25 For The Week Beginning October 11
- CLEMSON (4-0) Completely dominated a top 10 Miami team.
- GEORGIA (3-0) Trailed Tennessee at the half but ran away with the game in the second half.
- ALABAMA (3-0) Another shaky performance from an SEC defense.
- SMU (4-0) They’ve got a great senior QB and are my AAC favorite, even over Cincinnati.
- NORTH CAROLINA (3-0) Offense is great but there are still questions about the UNC defense.
- NOTRE DAME (3-0) Handled a bad Florida State team.
- BYU (4-0) That was not an impressive win over UT San Antonio.
- OKLAHOMA STATE (3-0) The best Bug 12 playoff hope, and maybe the only one.
- FLORIDA (2-1) A three-point loss at a highly thought of SEC team is not so bad.
- LOUISIANA (3-0) Really wanted to see them against Coastal Carolina, but COVID-19 canceled that game.
- CINCINNATI (3-0) They get Tulsa next. They know how to pull an upset.
- TEXAS A&M (2-1) Hard to ignore the first two games from them but that win over Florida was impressive.
- COASTAL CAROLINA (3-0) Disappointed they did not play Louisiana.
- IOWA STATE (3-1) Really getting their act together after a loss in Week 1.
- MIAMI (3-1) Better but not all the way back yet.
- MARSHALL (3-0) Thumped rival Western Kentucky.
- AUBURN (2-1) Controversial win over Arkansas that they did not deserve.
- KANSAS STATE (3-1) Their loss is bad, but have sharpened up since then.
- TENNESSEE (2-1) They’re pretty good, but not at the level of UF or UGA.
- VIRGINIA TECH (2-1) They scored, but not enough defense against UNC.
- BOSTON COLLEGE (3-1) Only loss was to UNC after a failed two-point conversion.
- TULSA (1-1) Beat UCF, barely lost to Oklahoma St. They are deserving.
- LIBERTY (4-0) Hugh Freeze is working miracles in rural Virginia.
- HOUSTON (1-0) Not sure what to make of them. Good on offense at times, but five turnovers raised eyebrows.
- OHIO STATE (0-0) Lurking and ready to be top five–once they actually start playing.
Reach Mike Synan at email@example.com.