Kind regards. I hope you and your loved ones have a safe and happy Thanksgiving weekend. As November approaches, this continues to be a season of SEC football unlike any other.
Wednesday we learned that Alabama coach Nick Saban had tested positive for coronavirus for the second time this season. The first time it was shown to be a false positive and he trained on October 17 against Georgia. This time he has mild symptoms and so will have to stay out of Saturday’s Iron Bowl game with Auburn at the Bryant-Denny Stadium. He will be watched from home as he continues to be quarantined.
Normally, the SEC’s rivalry weekend marks the end of the regular season. But now, because of the virus, the SEC will have to play until Dec. 19, when there will be several games with the conference championship.
And because of the late conference championship game, the college football playoffs are scheduled to begin just 13 days after January 1st. Like I said, We’ve never had a season like this.
There’s good news: The first qualifying group from the College Football Playoff selection committee was released Tuesday. There are four SEC-Nano teams. 1 Alabama, No. 5 Texas A&M, No. 6 Florida and No. 9 Georgia — ranked in the Top 10. Three of those teams have a road to the playoffs.
Here are our Five Fiery Questions for the last Saturday in November:
Auburn have beaten Alabama in two of their last three encounters. Is there a way for the Tigers to win Saturday’s Iron Bowl?
When it comes to the Iron Bowl there is always a chance. But there is a reason why the Crimson Tide was a No. 1 pick in the top CFP rankings.
Consider these numbers: Alabama leads the SEC in scoring offense (49.4 ppg) and scoring defense (19.3 ppg). Alabama is second in the SEC (in Florida) in passing offense (366.1 ypg) and third in passing defense (240.3 ypg).
Here’s what should concern future opponents in Alabama. After giving up 48 points and 647 total yards against Ole Miss on Oct. 10, Alabama’s defense has become a little better each week. The Crimson Tide gave up 24 points to Georgia, 17 to Tennessee, zero to Mississippi State, and three last week to Kentucky.
What comes next for Kyle Trask in Florida?
We will probably continue to ask this question until the SEC championship game on December 19th. It was so good.
Trask threw “only” three touchdown passes in last week’s 38-17 victory over Vanderbilt. That gives them 31 in seven games — all against SEC defenses. This breaks the SEC’s previous record for connecting passes in conference games (28), which was held by Joe Burrow of LSU, the winner of the 2019 Heisman Trophy, and by Danny Wuerffel in Florida (1995).
Here’s the bad news for Florida’s next opponent, the Kentucky Wildcats (3-5), who were brought to the woodwork by Alabama last week, 63-3: Trask put up last week’s numbers without this preferred target, Kyle Pitts. Pitts will return for Saturday’s game at The Swamp.
Remember last season Trask left the bench for injured Feleipe Franks and led the Gators from a 21-10 deficit to a 29-21 victory against Kentucky. He has been the starting quarterback ever since.
Can the new Georgia QB JT Daniels keep a warm hand against South Carolina?
It certainly looks like he can. Daniels, transferring from USC, had his first career start last week against Mississippi State. He shot for 401 yards and four touchdowns in a 31-24 victory.
That’s why it’s a concern for South Carolina. Since the dismissal of head coach Will Muschamp on November 15, the Gamecocks have lost a number of players who have been selected to leave from the rest of the season. Among those players were South Carolina’s two best defenders, Jaycee Horn and Israel Mukuamu.
Interesting note: Mike Bobo, teammate and friend of Georgia coach Kirby Smart, serves as South Carolina’s interim coach. Both men are the children of high school training legends in the state of Georgia.
Can Ole Miss maintain her current pace against Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl?
Consider this: The University of Mississippi has been playing football since 1893. The Rebels have won six SEC championships in their football history.
But Ole Miss had never scored 50 points or more in consecutive SEC games until two weeks ago. That’s when the Rebels defeated South Carolina 59-42 at Oxford. The week before Ole Miss won at Vanderbilt 52-21.
And now Lane Kiffin is taking his high-flying offense in his first meeting with Mike Leach of Mississippi State.
Keep an eye on wide receiver Ole Miss Elijah Moore, who leads the nation in receiving yards per game (159.3) and receptions per game (10.6).
Quarterback Matt Corral is third in the SEC in passing yards (2,359), dragging only Trophy candidates Heisman Trask (2,554) and Mac Jones from Alabama (2,426). Kenny Yeboah is one of the best coaches in college football.
Remember we told you that Georgia pitched for 401 against Mississippi State last week.
How anxious is Texas A&M to get back on the field?
After losing to Alabama 52-24 in the second game of the season, the Agies took a nice roll, winning four straight games, including a 41-38 slugfest against Florida at College Station. But then the coronavirus hit, postponing back games with Tennessee and Ole Miss.
So when Saturday’s match with LSU revolves around it, it will be 21 days since the Agies (5-1) played the last time.
Texas A&M is one of only three SEC teams to have played just six games, so they should get their last four games played over the next four Saturdays. The Agies were No. 5 in the first CFP ranking. So, as long as they continue to win, they will be in contention for a place in the playoffs.