CFB remains lively, unpredictable



The Cotton Bowl, which took place last Saturday in Dallas proved to be an instant classic. Oklahoma finally won in the fourth overtime (Tom Fox/Dallas Morning News/TNS)

Dylan Tynes, Staff Writer

Week six of the 2020 college football season completely upended the status quo. What seemed like an ever-widening gap between the highest tier of teams and the rest of the field suddenly came crashing down. Before this season, nobody questioned the pool of teams that could make the playoff; it seemed fairly obvious that Alabama, Clemson and Ohio State were the prime contenders, followed by maybe eight or nine teams who had the talent and coaching to compete for a championship. 

This past Saturday, however, proved that the top tier, which had separated itself so obviously over the past few seasons, no longer exists.

The SEC saw the most upheaval of the weekend. No. 17 LSU lost to a winless Missouri team, 45-41, after being stopped on the goal line on four consecutive plays. The loss proved that losing over thirty players in one offseason is enough to cripple any team, even LSU, no matter how great their recruiting is. Coming off a 2019 national championship, the Bayou Bengals are now 1-2 for the first time since 1994. 

No. 4 Florida, whose electric offense only punted once, fell 41-38 to No. 21 Texas A&M, who had disappointed fans during their first two games of the season. The Gators entered the season with national title aspirations, but their defense has come up short, time and time again. By the end of this game, they had surrendered 543 yards against a Texas A&M offense that never looked especially dominant. Even Alabama, whose status as a top-three team was unquestioned at the beginning of the season, looked shaky on defense during their 63-48 victory over Ole Miss. Fortunately for the Crimson Tide, their offense looked as polished as ever against the Rebels’ defense, who were far outclassed. With that being said, at times, a path to victory was apparent for Ole Miss. The Rebels kept the game close until the fourth quarter, and even held the lead at various points in the first half, calling into question Alabama’s ability to take down a top-10 opponent. 

No. 13 Auburn should have lost to Arkansas, a team one week removed from their first conference victory in three years, but such was not meant to be. A last-minute backward spike by Auburn quarterback Bo Nix was inexplicably ruled an incomplete pass, rather than a fumble. The lucky break allowed Auburn to kick the game-winning field goal. 

This year’s Red River Shootout between Texas and Oklahoma proved to be must-watch television, and might have been the most exciting game of college football all year. And while the teams entered the game with a combined 3-3 record, the game itself was as exciting as any past matchup. Oklahoma finally won the contest, 53-45, in the fourth overtime. With the win, the Sooners likely dragged their rivals out of playoff contention, leaving the two highest-ranked Big 12 teams from the preseason on the outside looking in. 

Top-ranked Clemson, the ACC’s juggernaut, did not emerge without questions of their own on Saturday, even as they comfortably defeated No. 7 Miami 42-17. Miami was outclassed on just about every front, but Clemson’s mistakes, most notably three blocked field goals and a lost fumble, raised eyebrows across the college football landscape. Nonetheless, Clemson’s defense manhandled the Miami offensive line, and the Tigers offense looked comfortable against the ‘Canes. Notre Dame looks to be the only potentially competitive opponent remaining on the Tigers’ schedule.

The 2020 college football season has shown that COVID-19 measures are just one of the quirks which will make this season unique. The College Football Playoff picture is already wide open, which bodes well for usurpers like Oklahoma State or North Carolina. But, it’s important to keep in mind that two Power Five conferences have yet to even begin their seasons. If the past week says anything about the rest of the college football season, it is that no one quite knows how it will end.