Monday measure: Will LSU go down as the worst defending champ of the modern era?
Defending champions rarely have bad postseason.
This is a big reason why it is so noticeable for the LSU to be between 1 and 2 for the first three weeks of the SEC season. The Tigers fell below .500 after a 45:41 loss to Missouri on Saturday when Mizzou stopped LSU at the 1-yard line by less than a minute.
Yes, the Tigers have lost a lot of talent from their title winning team. Terrace Marshall Jr. is the only major offensive contributor to return in 2020. However, many of us felt that Baton Rouge had a lot of talents to keep the Tigers afloat near the top of SEC West in 2020.
Instead, the LSU looks very similar to the 2011 Auburn. After those Tigers won the national title season and Cam Newton moved to the NFL, Auburn fell to 8-5 in 2011. This is the worst campaign for a defending national champion in the past 10 years. By far. No defending champion since the 2011 Tiger has lost more than two games.
2011 Auburn: 8-5
2012 Alabama: 13-1
2013 Alabama: 11-2
2014 Florida State: 13-1
2015 Ohio State: 12-1
2016 Alabama: 14-1
2017 Clemson: 12-2
2018 Alabama: 14-1
2019 Clemson: 14-1
Newton was number 1 on the 2011 NFL Draft. Joe Burrow was number 1 on the 2020 NFL Draft. There are some similarities.
LSU fans may notice another similarity as well. LSU finished 8-5 in 2008 after winning the national title in 2007. The 2008 team only went 3-5 in the SEC, losing to Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Ole Miss, and Arkansas. Three of these opponents were in the top 15 at the time of the defeat.
It's easy to see how LSU could launch a 5-5 campaign in the SEC this year. After Florida, the Tigers have yet to play against Alabama, Texas A&M and Auburn. All three teams are currently in the top 15. Oh, and Ole Miss and Arkansas have shown they aren't gimmes either.
When LSU ends up 5-5 or worse, it's been dubbed the worst defending champions in the history of modern college football.
- Nick Bromberg
LSU manager Ed Orgeron congratulates the players after scoring against Vanderbilt in the second half of an NCAA college football game on October 3. (AP)
Oklahoma and Texas are fighting, but it's worse for Texas
Oklahoma's 53:45 win over Texas in four overtime on Saturday was certainly one of the most entertaining games of the 2020 season, but it attracted heightened attention as it was a rivalry between two Blue Blood programs.
In reality, however, it was a game between two, at best, two Big 12 teams.
Oklahoma has won five Big 12 titles in a row but looks like a team in the early stages of a rare year of rebuilding. The Sooners, fourth year under Lincoln Riley, improved to 2-2 on Saturday, despite having a third lead in the fourth quarter this year. OU is working in a Redshirt freshman quarterback in Spencer Rattler and a number of other new faces on the offensive to replace the flurry of talent in the skill position that has been shown at Norman in recent years. Not to mention, some of the players OU should rely on - on both sides of the ball - have been absent from the field under various circumstances (injury, suspension, opt-out, etc).
What I'm saying is that when Oklahoma has five direct conference titles and five direct college football playoff appearances, it's easier to apologize for Oklahoma for stepping back.
For Texas, the excuses are much more difficult to accept. Tom Herman spoke a big game when he was hired ahead of the 2017 season. Has he raised the program from what it was under Charlie Strong? For sure. But a 27-17 overall record with an 18-12 mark in the Big 12 game isn't what Herman gets $ 6.5 million a year for.
The 2018 10-win triumph, crowned by a Sugar Bowl win over Georgia, should be a sign of the future. Since then, however, Texas has been 10-7 and 6-6 in the Big 12 overall. UT went 8-5 last year with losses to teams TCU, Iowa State and Baylor.
However, at the start of 2020, many thought this might be the year Texas finally topped the Big 12. After all, the team returned 16 starters, including senior quarterback Sam Ehlinger in his fourth year as QB1 of the Longhorns. But none of these recurring experiences showed up in the field.
It took UT a wild late game rally and overtime to beat a mediocre Texas Tech team (63-56). That amazing feat was a sign of the future as losses for TCU and Oklahoma followed to bring the Longhorns down to 2-2 a year.
In these games, Texas was plagued by sales, penalties, poor tackles and problems with special teams while battling for positions (broad receiver, offensive line) that are believed to cement themselves in the fourth year of Herman's tenure.
After three weeks of play, Oklahoma State, Iowa State and Kansas State are the only Big 12 teams without a conference loss. The race for the Big 12 crown is still wide open, but Texas has significant catching up to do. At this point in the Herman era, this isn't a position Texas fans are likely to find themselves in.
- Sam Cooper
It's the fourth year for Tom Herman in Texas, but his team got off to a disappointing 2-2 start. (AP Photo / Chuck Burton)
In recognition of Travis Etienne
Don't let Trevor Lawrence's status as putative number 1 in the 2021 NFL draft distract you from Travis Etienne's height.
Etienne made the surprising decision to return to Clemson for his 2020 senior season and has been great so far. He had 17 carry for 149 yards and two touchdowns and eight catches for 73 yards in the Tigers blowout win over Miami. And he did some highlight role stuff.
If that sprint on the sidelines wasn't enough for you, how about this hurdle?
Etienne has 4,430 career rushing yards and is just 173 yards from the ACC career rushing mark of Ted Brown of NC State. He'll likely have that record to himself in a couple of weeks and could make the conference career-rushing mark incredibly unreachable by the end of Clemson's season.
Etienne is also not a product of a ton of stretcher. He's had no more than 207 transfers in a season and his 2020 average of 7.0 yards per carry is the lowest single season of his career. It averaged 7.2 yards per carry as a freshman, 8.1 yards per carry for the sophomore year when Clemson won the national title in 2018, and 7.8 yards per carry in 2019.
Despite those gaudy yards per carry numbers, Etienne never got a Heisman love. He didn't finish more than seventh in the Heisman vote and was ninth in 2019.
This is what happens when you play with a great quarterback like Lawrence. But Etienne is a great college that is running backwards. We should all take a moment and appreciate that.
Georgia's defensive dominance in the second half
To call Georgia's defense dominant would be an understatement.
The Bulldogs are currently number 2 in overall defense nationwide, allowing only 236.7 meters per game. The only team ahead of UGA is Houston, a team that only played one game and allowed only 211 yards to beat Tulane.
However, Georgia did its job against three SEC enemies: Arkansas, Auburn, and Tennessee. And the Bulldogs increased the defense intensity, especially in the second half.
In their 3-0 start, Georgia allowed a total of 37 points (although 7 of those points were obtained from an offensive error). Of those 37 points, only six were scored in the second half, with zero in the fourth quarter.
Saturday's win over Tennessee was a perfect example of that second-half domination. The Bulldogs were between 21 and 17 at halftime, but Defense has shut down the Vols completely for the past two quarters. In the second half, Georgia allowed Tennessee's offensive to win just 56 yards in 39 games. Tennessee also flipped the ball three times, tripped three times, and posted sales on downs. On the way, the Georgia score finished the game with a 27-0 run.
In Georgia's first game, they surprisingly fell 7-5 behind Arkansas at halftime to score a 37-10 win. UGA allowed Arkansas to only gain 115 yards and only score three points in the second half.
In the 27: 6 win over Auburn the next week, UGA allowed only three points and 119 yards in 38 games in the second half.
Cumulative in three games, the numbers for the second half are breathtaking: six points in six quarters and 290 yards in 110 games. That's only 2.64 meters per game. In addition, Georgia forced seven punts, intercepted four passes, registered 10 sacks, scored two touchdowns, fixed two fiddles and forced two turnovers for downs.
That is pure dominance. But the challenge rises massively next week with a trip to Tuscaloosa to play Alabama No. 2 on Saturday. After the 63:48 win over Ole Miss, Alabama averages 51 points per game. That's number 1 in the nation.
Tennessee quarterback Jarrett Guarantano (2) is overthrown by Georgian defender Julian Rochester (92). (AP Photo / John Bazemore)
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