College football reaction: Down go the Gators—and their national title hopes

The LSU Tigers take down Kyle Trask of the Florida Gators
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Ricky Dimon

NCAAF · 1 year ago

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Since graduating from Davidson (The College That Stephen Curry Built), I have been writing about sports--just about any and all you can think of!--and coaching tennis in Atlanta, Ga. Beyond the four major sports, I am an avid tennis fan and cover the ATP Tour on a daily basis. If I'm not busy writing, you can generally find me on a tennis court or traveling the world wherever a sporting event takes me.

It wasn’t supposed to be a particularly intriguing weekend of college football. There were only two all-Top 25 showdowns, and neither one was especially popcorn-worthy in the first place (Georgia vs. Missouri and North Carolina vs. Miami). Those turned out to be snoozers, too, with Georgia winning by 35 points and North Carolina dominating by 36.

However, the slack was picked up in some unexpected locations. Florida’s College Football Playoff hopes ended with an improbable home loss to LSU, while Coastal Carolina stayed unbeaten following an absolute thriller against underdog Troy.

Florida’s loss makes SEC Championship irrelevant to CFP

The Gators were favored by…wait for it… 26.5 points on Saturday night. It looks like they got caught looking ahead to next week’s SEC Championship against top-ranked Alabama. Or maybe they just got caught by an inspired LSU team that at this point had nothing else to play for this season other than its game in The Swamp. Whatever the problem was, Florida suffered a shocking 37-34 loss after the Tigers were allowed to kick what proved to be a game-winning 57-yard field goal with 23 seconds left following an unsportsmanlike penalty committed by UF on third down that kept the drive alive. It was the bone-headed—and most costly—penalty you will ever see, as defensive Marco Wilson was flagged for “throwing the LSU player’s shoe 20 yards down the field” (as the lead referee so generously announced).

If Florida had won and gone into the SEC title game with only one loss, both the Gators and the Crimson Tide would have gone to the College Football Playoff in the event of a UF victory next weekend. Now only Alabama will be headed to the national semis (regardless of next Saturday’s outcome). ‘Bama, Ohio State (provided it wins the Big Ten Championship), and the winner of the ACC Championship are locks. If the ACC champ is one-loss Clemson, both the Tigers and Notre Dame will be a part of the festivities. If the ACC champ is undefeated Notre Dame, Clemson gets the boot and Texas A&M will be the likely beneficiary of the Fighting Irish’s success.

Dream still alive for Coastal Carolina

It’s not quite time to jump off the Coastal Carolina bandwagon. No, there is nothing particularly impressive about a 42-38 win over Troy as a 12-point favorite. But this was always going to be a classic trap game. The Chanticleers were coming off their biggest win in program history last weekend, when they battled past fellow undefeated team BYU 22-17. Next week they have the Sun Belt Conference Championship against fellow Top 20 team Louisiana. In between was this relatively ho-hum date with the Trojans.

Facing a 38-35 deficit and with no timeouts, freshman quarterback Grayson McCall drove his team 75 yards in 45 seconds and threw the game-winning touchdown pass to Jaivon Heiligh from 23 yards out with 35 seconds remaining. Again, it was by no means a convincing overall performance. But it was another dramatic victory for a program that is the best story in college football, and the longer Coastal remains undefeated the better it is for the game. Don’t kid yourself; you know you are actually going to find yourself watching the Sun Belt Conference Championship. Only in 2020…

Grayson McCall of the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers

Lock it up

Pickswise is now 2-for-2 on our college football “Lock of the Day.” Last week’s Oregon State effort was a sweat, as the Beavers used a big fourth quarter to make its game against Utah competitive and cover a +11 spread. This time around, we had no problem whatsoever in our Georgia vs. Missouri over pick. It cashed before the third quarter was over, with 56 points being scored prior to the fourth en route to an eventual 49-14 win for the Bulldogs.

It was another outstanding performance by quarterback J.T. Daniels, a transfer from USC who has led his new team to three consecutive wins since taking over as the starter. Daniels threw for 299 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions against Missouri’s defense. If head coach Kirby Smart had started Daniels instead of various other QBs (mainly Stetson Bennett) from week one, the Dawgs may have knocked off either Alabama or Florida and could have been in line for a College Football Playoff berth. Instead, they will have to settle for some other New Year’s Six Bowl for now. With Daniels at the helm, though, UGA should be back in the National Championship mix next year.

Pickswise is your home for the best free college football previews and predictions all season long. Make sure to check out our NCAAF Picks page!

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