Winner: Mississippi State QB KJ Costello
Saturday was Mississipi State quarterback KJ Costello’s first game in the SEC. He broke the SEC passing record. Under Mike Leach’s air raid system, Costello balled out for 623 yards and five touchdowns in the Bulldogs’ 44-34 win over #6 LSU. There were some problems with accuracy at times, but Costello looks to be a star.
Loser: The Big 12
The conference, which has already looked poor with three teams dropping non-con matchups vs Sun Belt teams, took another hit, as conference favorite Oklahoma lost to Kansas State, and #2 Texas needed overtime to beat a Texas Tech team that almost lost to Houston Baptist. Even in a season where the Pac-12 or Big Ten champ may play just five or six games factoring in cancellations, the Big 12 may still be left out of the playoff.
Winner: UCF (or Cincinnati)’s Playoff Chances
The Golden Knights are projected to finish the 2020 season with an 8-1 record by the CSD Prime computer model. No team in the country is projected to go undefeated in more than 50% of simulations as of now, but UCF is the fourth most likely team to do it, behind BYU, Clemson, and Marshall. That means all UCF has to do is overperform expectations by one game, win the AAC title game, and they are unbeaten for the third time in four years.
Now, it’s still a tough road, but with Oklahoma losing and the Big Ten/Pac-12 playing such shortened seasons, a group of five playoff bid is likelier than ever. Very, very unlikely, but likelier than ever. And that’s if the playoff doesn’t expand, which feels like a very real possibility that is rarely mentioned.
Winner: Alabama QB Mac Jones
Mac Jones tightened his grip on Alabama’s starting QB job on Saturday against Missouri, throwing for 249 yards and two touchdowns on just 24 throws in the Tide’s season-opening victory. Five-star freshman Bryce Young threw for just over 50 yards in relief.
Loser: Florida State
Its been a bad few years in Tallahassee, but Saturday’s 52-10 loss to rival Miami in primetime may be a new low point. Granted, head coach Mike Norvell was out with COVID, but that rivalry game should be a lot closer than that. Right now, the CSD Prime model rates Florida State’s average projected record at 4-7, meaning a third straight losing season is much more likely than not.
Winner: Virginia Tech
The Hokies were down 23 players and two coaches against NC State on Saturday and still rolled, crushing the 1-0 Wolfpack 45-24. This team is a lot more experienced than the 2019 squad that lost to Virginia for the first time in a decade and a half, and I expect them to compete for the #2 spot in the ACC with Notre Dame, North Carolina, an Miami.
Loser: Georgia and Texas A&M’s Offenses
Two teams that I figured could be national title dark horses looked terrible on the offensive end on Saturday, combining for 12 first-half points. By midgame, Georgia was relegated to their summer depth chart’s #4 QB, Stetson Bennett, after Jamie Newman’s opt-out, JT Daniels’ injury, and D’Wan Mathis’ benching. He was thrust into the spotlight midgame, but Bennett looked much better than Mathis despite some mistakes, and the Bulldogs rallied to end up winning by a respectable margin. We’ll see if he can keep his job when JT Daniels is cleared to return.
Meanwhile, A&M fumbled four times and Kellen Mond added an interception for good measure against an Arkansas team that may go winless this year. The Aggies barely survived, 17-12. Yikes.
Winner(s): Florida QB Kyle Trask & Florida TE Kyle Pitts
Florida’s Kyle-to-Kyle connection was on fire on Saturday in a 51-35 victory over Ole Miss. Pitts caught eight passes for 170 yards and four touchdowns and looks to be the key to UF’s SEC title hope. Not to mention, Trask looked like he may be the best QB in the conference. Things are looking up in Gainesville.
Loser: UCF’s Penalties
The Golden Knights are talented enough that they manhandled East Carolina 51-28 despite it, but UCF racked up 19 penalties, good for 139 yards, including ten (!) in the first quarter. It’s fine against ECU, but against the American’s best, that isn’t going to fly.
Over the past two years, UTEP won a combined two games. Four games into 2019 and the Miners have already won three. Granted, it was against two FCS teams and the worst team in FBS, but its progress nevertheless.
Loser: Georgia Tech
It’s still year two under the new system, granted, but its been a hard fall for the Yellow Jackets after the season-opening win over Florida State. Tech dropped their second game against UCF and then was throttled by Syracuse, 37-20. Freshman QB Jeff Sims threw four interceptions in the loss. The Yellow Jackets are now projected to go 4-7 (on average) in the CSD Prime model after a promising start.
After giving Notre Dame more fight than expected in week one, I had relatively high hopes for this Duke team, but against Virginia on Saturday, the Blue Devils looked atrocious. QB Chase Brice completed less than 50% of his passes and threw four interceptions. All in all, Duke finished with seven turnovers. Seven. David Cutcliffe’s squad is now rated out as the worst team in the conference by the CSD Prime model, with an average projected record of 2-9.
Winner: Louisiana K Nate Snyder
Louisiana kicker Nate Snyder has had a rough go of things to start 2020, he entered the Cajun’s week four game against Georgia Southern 1-for-4 on the year. He redeemed himself, though, nailing a 53-yarder to beat the Eagles, 20-18, keeping the Cajuns unbeaten.