The 2020 college football season is supposed to be the strangest season we'll ever see. Every conference is starting at a different time, and they're generally only playing against themselves. When they do play, they're doing so in stadiums that are either completely or mostly empty. The players are being tested not by professors and their assistants, but by doctors, nurses and trained medical staff. We're seeing games postponed or canceled regularly, and we often find out only hours before kickoff that some teams that are playing will be without 20 to 30 players. Hell, some teams don't even have their coaches with them on the sideline.
Yet, despite all of that context, watching college football this weekend felt as normal as ever. Not because the SEC returned to the field, nor because there was finally a truly full slate of games on Saturday. No, it felt normal because we saw that everybody stinks except for Alabama and Clemson.
It is not a real college football season until every team stinks. We need every team to stink except Clemson and Alabama, or else College Football Playoff debates will be boring, and thankfully, every other team in the country has obliged us thus far. So, in this week's Monday After, I'm ranking our supposed CFP contenders (that have played so far) in order of Least Stanky to Most Stanky.
Notre Dame -- The Irish carry the least stank at the moment, thanks mostly to not playing this weekend. The problem is that the weekend off wasn't by design! The Irish were scheduled to play Wake Forest but had to postpone the game due to seven players on the team testing positive for COVID-19. Those results led South Florida to postpone its game against FAU as it awaited test results due to contact-tracing. Also, while Notre Dame beat up the Bulls 52-0, it looked somewhat ordinary in its opener against a Duke team that is currently 0-3. There's a faint aroma of stank around those golden domes.
Florida -- "But, Tom, how can you say Florida stinks! It just put up 51 points on The Lane Train!" It sure did, and I offer my thoughts and prayers to anybody tasked with covering the matchup nightmare that is Kyle Pitts this season. Still, I must ask: do you know of a lot of good teams that allow 613 yards per game on defense? Or title contenders that allow 7.86 yards per play? Because that's what the Gators did in their opener. Sure, the offense was fantastic, but that defense? That defense is carrying some stank to it right now.
Auburn -- The Tigers opened the season with a 29-13 win over Kentucky. If you look at nothing but the score, you might think it was OK, but not terrible. Well, have you looked at the box score? The Wildcats performed better than the Tigers in most areas but shot themselves in the foot with three turnovers. Auburn's offense was held to only 324 yards in the contest, and its offensive line showed signs of trouble on the horizon. The Gus Bus is 1-0 in 2020, but that thing is going to have engine troubles soon. You can smell something ain't right.
Georgia -- If I'm honest, I'm not as concerned about Georgia as most likely are after their 37-10 win over Arkansas, which very much did not look like a 37-10 win. But the stank is real, and the stank is only more noticeable thanks to preseason expectations. This was supposed to be the year of the new Georgia offense! The offense that brought the Dawgs into the modern era and finally put them over the hump. Well, that offense averaged only 4.35 yards per play against Arkansas. It also benched starting quarterback D'Wan Mathis with a quickness and replaced him with Stetson Bennett. This surprised everybody who believed a Stetson Bennett was a $500 hat and not a human being. Georgia pulled away late to win by 27, but these Dawgs stank and need a bath. Or maybe they just need J.T. Daniels to be cleared medically.
Texas A&M -- Listen Aggies, you can't complain about me saying you stank more than Georgia when you could have easily lost to Vanderbilt. This is supposed to be the year of the breakthrough under Jimbo Fisher. You have the senior QB. You have the talent. So why are you out here playing dramatic fourth quarters against Vanderbilt? The "we didn't want to put anything on tape with Alabama next week" excuse only goes so far. If you want to avoid being deemed to stank, you should be able to put up 28 on Vandy using only 15% of your playbook.
Texas -- Yeah, you're 2-0, but really? You needed a miracle comeback against a Texas Tech team allowed 600 yards of offense and 8.0 yards per play in its opener against Houston Baptist? This was Texas' chance to assert itself as The One True Champion of the Big 12 only hours after Oklahoma -- we'll get to you Sooner rather than later -- lost to Kansas State. Instead, you engaged in a "Who's Had Less Time To Practice Special Teams" contest with the Red Raiders and nearly lost because of it. In other words, you looked a lot like every Texas team we've seen for the better part of 15 years now. And a lot of those teams stunk.
Oklahoma -- So let me get this straight. Kansas State had 117 fewer yards of offense, went 2-for-11 on third down, averaged only 2.5 yards per carry on the ground and called for 13 penalties worth 108 yards ... and it beat you? In your own stadium? Do you owe Kansas State money? Are you trying to repay a debt that we don't know about? What the hell is going on here? You're supposed to be the class of the conference, Oklahoma! The one team we all feel comfortable penciling into a playoff spot even though none of us expect you to win a game once you get there. The stank isn't supposed to be noticeable before late December, but we smell it before October.
LSU -- That smell ain't the gumbo. That's stank. Stank still tinged with a hint of champagne, but it's stank all the same. Honestly, it shouldn't be a massive surprise that the Tigers looked as ordinary as they did in their opener. It was the first game of the season, and we're all well aware of how much turnover there was with this team, not only on the roster but on the coaching staff. Still, what was more worrisome to me than the defensive performance was how the offense looked. Air Raid offenses can get the best of anybody in any given week, but when your offense is averaging fewer yards per play than South Carolina's, you stank.
We can only hope that Ohio State brings some aerosol spray when it shows up to the party in October.
Sideline Prop of the Week
That's just phenomenal on so many levels. You can say it's a play on the emoji and that it's meant to symbolize your team or players securing the bag and not be lying. At the same time, it antagonizes anybody outside of Oxford -- particularly those in the state who prefer the color maroon -- who has spent the last decade alleging that you're paying your players under the table. Your players are their own bagmen now.
Worst Idea of the Week
I don't know if this coach wanted to headbutt Army's Mike Johnson or if Johnson misread the situation, but whatever the case, it was terrible all around. First of all, let's stop headbutting when one of us is wearing a helmet, and the other isn't. It seldom leads to good outcomes.
Secondly, this is just terrible form if it is a headbutt. It's more of a face butt than anything. I know it was a truncated offseason, and there was less time to work on stuff like this, but we need to be better. We can be better.
Shortest Memory of the Week
Listen, college football is a land of hot takes. I literally opened this week's Monday After telling you everybody stinks but Alabama and Clemson (though that's just truth disguised as a hot take). I expect it from fans, and I expect it from the media, but there are some people you would think know better.
So I was a bit surprised by Urban Meyer during Fox's postgame coverage of Kansas State's win over Oklahoma. Urban said that Oklahoma's CFP hopes were done after the loss to the Wildcats.
"Oklahoma's done," said Meyer. "They can't make the Playoff."
Apparently, Meyer does not remember that Oklahoma lost to Kansas State last year and still reached the playoff. Also, it seems Meyer forgot about 2014. You might remember that season when an Ohio State team was upset early in the year by Virginia Tech. That team then had its playoff hopes written off by many before going on to not only make the College Football Playoff, but win the thing. And that team was coached by Urban Meyer.
So maybe we should slow down on the "they can't make the playoff" talk after only one loss this early in the season. Particularly in a year like this one, which is likely to see most teams trip up once or twice.
Social Distancing of the Week
The TCU offensive line might be taking things too seriously.
Team of the Week
Shout out to the two-time Bottom 25 champion UTEP Miners, who beat Louisiana-Monroe 31-6 in this week's Bottom 25 Game of the Century of the Week. The win improved the Miners record to 3-1 on the season, which is significant.
It's the first time UTEP has won three games in a season since it finished 4-8 in 2016. The Miners were a lowly 2-34 from 2017 to 2019 -- explaining how they became two-time Bottom 25 champions.
Nitpick of the Week
Before Mississippi State beat LSU 44-34 on Saturday, there was a lot of talk about whether or not Mike Leach and the Air Raid offense could work in the SEC. While Mississippi State was putting up 44 points and 632 yards of offense against LSU, there was a lot of talk about how SEC defenses were in trouble now that the Air Raid had finally arrived in the SEC.
And it annoyed me because I tend to get annoyed by little things that probably won't upset anybody else.
The Air Raid has been in the SEC before! Mike Leach even coached it! He was the offensive coordinator under Hal Mumme for two seasons at Kentucky in 1997 and 1998. Mumme and Leach's offense averaged 33.9 points per game in those two seasons. They were so prolific that Tim Couch became the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft.
Saturday wasn't even the first time an SEC team with Mike Leach on its staff beat LSU in Tiger Stadium.
Honest Fan of the Week
This Missouri fan was just being honest as he watched his team lose its season opener to Alabama 38-19.
College Football Playoff Projection of the Week
- Ohio State
- Some stanky team
Until the next Monday After!