Chip Scoggins’ 20 thoughts on the 2020 college football season – Minneapolis Star Tribune

We’re back. Welcome to the weirdest college football season on record. I’ll start by acknowledging I have no gut feeling on how this season will play out. I’m just happy and hopeful that we’re able discuss, debate, write about and watch college football in this upside-down year.

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That said, I will miss the pageantry and all the unique traditions that make college football the best sport on Earth. Next year, hopefully.

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Alabama has been uncharacteristically vulnerable on defense, but it won’t matter if the Tide’s offense continues to average nearly 50 points per game. Alabama had two wide receivers selected in the first round this past spring. No problem. They have two wide receivers — Jaylen Waddle and DeVonta Smith — who are averaging at least 120 yards receiving per game this season and likely will be first-round picks, as well.

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Until we see Ohio State in person, Clemson and Alabama appear to be in a league by themselves again. The ACC is simply no match for Clemson. Dabo Swinney’s program is on track for another appearance in the national championship game.

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The Big 12 might already be out of the College Football Playoff picture. Oklahoma State is the league’s only undefeated team left. Unless the Cowboys run the table, it’s hard to envision them getting selected over a one-loss SEC or Big Ten team or Notre Dame, if the Fighting Irish lose to Clemson to finish with one loss.

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The Pac-12 is playing only seven conference games. I don’t see how the playoff committee could choose an undefeated Pac-12 team over a one-loss team from a conference that played 2-4 more games.

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The race to No. 1 in the NFL tanking contest will be heated as the bottom-feeders work hard to claim the right to select Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence. The consolation prize will not be a disappointment. Ohio State’s Justin Fields and North Dakota State’s Trey Lance could be taken in the first five picks, as well.

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I know TV (money) dictates a lot in college sports, but I’ll never be a fan of Friday night games. The Gophers have three such games this season. Friday night is for high school football.

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I’ll be the first to admit, I thought North Carolina’s decision to bring Mack Brown out of retirement and back to Chapel Hill was an idea destined to fail. The Tar Heels were probably overrated at No. 5 before losing to Florida State on Saturday (thanks to three dropped passes on the final drive), but Brown has his program headed in the right direction.

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This season is the year of high-profile quarterbacks, but Clemson’s tailback Travis Etienne is one of my favorite players to watch. He’s explosive as a runner and receiver and makes Clemson’s offense a nightmare to defend as a sidekick to Lawrence.

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I can’t wait for the Nov. 28 Egg Bowl. No, not Mississippi State vs. Ole Miss. Mike Leach vs. Lane Kiffin. Imagine the verbal volleys fired that week between two characters.

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Wisconsin’s ability to contend in the Big Ten West hinges on the play of redshirt freshman quarterback Graham Mertz in relief of starter Jack Coan, who is sidelined indefinitely after having foot surgery. Coan was injured in camp.

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Friendly reminder that Jim Harbaugh is 0-5 vs. Ohio State.

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The three best players who opted-out of the season: Oregon OT Penei Sewell, Penn State LB Micah Parsons and LSU WR Ja’Marr Chase. The three best players who opted back in: Gophers WR Rashod Bateman, Ohio State CB Shaun Wade and Michigan OL Jalen Mayfield.

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Annual reminder of the degree to which offense dominates this sport: In 2009, 44 FBS teams averaged 400 yards per game. Ten years later, in 2019, that number had grown to 70 teams. Moral of the story: Ask to play offense, kids.

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Weird start for Kansas State. Lose at home to Arkansas State, followed by three consecutive conference victories, including road wins at Oklahoma and TCU.

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Notre Dame is 4-0 and ranked No. 3 nationally, but a 12-7 win over Louisville on Saturday was hardly convincing. We will know more about the Irish as a potential playoff contender after their Nov. 7 game against Clemson.

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Brigham Young’s original schedule included this five-game start: at Utah, Michigan State, at Arizona State, at Gophers, Utah State. That was replaced by this opening slate: Navy, Troy, Louisiana Tech, Texas-San Antonio, Houston. The Cougars have maximized the softer schedule to start 5-0 for the first time since 2008.

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Baylor had its third game postponed this week. The Bears were scheduled to play Oklahoma State, but the game was moved to Dec. 12 after Baylor suspended football activities due to an outbreak. Baylor already had two nonconference games postponed.

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Coastal Carolina (4-0) entered the rankings this week at No. 25. Unranked teams: Oklahoma, Auburn, Texas and Tennessee.

2020, y’all.

HEISMAN TROPHY WATCH

Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson

NFL teams will be tanking for him soon enough, but he is favored to win college football’s top individual award before turning pro.

Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State

Coming off a sensational season with 3,273 yards passing with 41 touchdowns and only three interceptions.

Zach Wilson, QB, BRIGHAM YOUNG

Wilson leads FBS in completion percentage (78.7) and will get more exposure if BYU keeps winning to stay undefeated.

Mac Jones, QB, Alabama

Jones is surrounded by lots of stars, especially at wide receiver, but he deserves credit for directing ’Bama’s high-scoring offense.

Kyle Trask, QB, Florida

He doesn’t have as big of a national profile as the top two quarterbacks, but he’s putting up great numbers already.

Appointment viewing

Oct. 31: Ohio State at Penn State — The winner gets a leg up in the Big Ten East.

Nov. 7: Clemson at Notre Dame — This should be Clemson’s toughest test in the ACC.

Nov. 28: Gophers at Wisconsin — Game likely could decide the Big Ten West.

Dec. 5: Florida at Tennessee — You didn’t think I would leave the Vols out of this chart, did you?

Dec. 12: Michigan at Ohio State — Does Jim Harbaugh finally beat Ohio State? Nah.

Playoff Predictions

Semifinal No. 1

Clemson vs. Georgia

Georgia’s defense looks legit, but Lawrence & Etienne bring too much firepower

Semifinal No. 2

Ohio State vs. Alabama

Tough call here. The Tide’s defensive struggles have been early story line, but we’ll give ’Bama the nod in a close game.

National championship game

Clemson vs. Alabama

The NFL has been waiting on Trevor Lawrence since his freshman year. He guides Clemson to another national title in his final game.

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