College football bowl projections: SEC shake-ups may have LSU struggling to even make a bowl

If you like SEC defenses, you had a bad week.  Yards and points were coming quick and easy almost everywhere in the SEC on Saturday. Alabama saw Ole Miss explode on its defense, though the Crimson Tide held on to win 63-48. That game featured the most points and yards in an SEC regulation game ever. Ole Miss racked up 647 yards, the most ever allowed by Bama.  Only two of Alabama’s 11 drives did not end in touchdowns, and one of those ended on a fumble at the 1-yard line. The Crimson Tide maintain the No. 2 spot in the College Football Playoff projections after the win.

That will get tested next Saturday when Georgia visits Tuscaloosa, Alabama. The Bulldogs defense has been pretty stout this season, but they gave up 21 first-half points to Tennessee before locking them down in the second half. Georgia cruised to a 44-21 victory over the previously unbeaten Vols.

Alabama and Georgia have clearly separated themselves from the rest of the SEC now following Florida’s 41-38 loss at Texas A&M. The Gators offense has been impressive through the first three weeks, but the defense has been a suspect. The Aggies lit them up for 543 total yards, including 205 on the ground.  As good as Florida’s offense has looked, the Gators will have to tighten that up if it hopes to make a run at an SEC title. Florida remains projected for a spot in the Peach Bowl for now, but it’s precarious.

The most surprisingly bad defense so far in the SEC belongs to LSU. The Tigers opened the season giving up an SEC-record 623 passing yards to Mississippi State in a 44-34 loss. This week, they gave up 586 yards of total offense in a 45-41 loss to Missouri. For both MSU and Mizzou, the wins over LSU are their only victories so far this season. The schedule does not get any easier for the Tigers in the tough SEC West. As it stands right now, I do not have the reigning national champions in a bowl game — at all.

College Football Playoff

Jan. 11

National Championship
Miami

Title game Semifinal winners

Jan. 1

Rose Bowl
Pasadena, Calif.

Semifinal

(2) Ohio State vs. (3) Alabama

Jan. 1

Sugar Bowl
New Orleans

Semifinal

(1) Clemson vs. (4) Oregon

Clemson faced its first showdown against a highly rated team so far this season when Miami visited Saturday night. It was not much of a challenge for the Tigers, though, as they walked away with a 42-17 win. Clemson still has to play at Notre Dame, but it still looks like nobody is within striking distance of the top-rated Tigers. The loss does not hurt Miami’s standing in the bowl projections. The Hurricanes are still projected to face Georgia in the Orange Bowl.

BYU has been running away from its early season opposition and needs to continue to do that if the Cougars hope to make a case for a spot in a New Year’s Six game. They hurt that case on Saturday with a 27-20 win over UTSA. BYU was a five-touchdown favorite in that game, and while the Cougars did not have to win by that much, they needed it to be more comfortable than that. The most challenging games this season for BYU are at Houston next week and at Mountain West favorite Boise State on Nov. 7.  There is not only no margin for error for the Cougars and they need all the style points they can get.

New Year’s Six bowl games

Jan. 2

Orange
Miami

ACC/ND vs. SEC/Big Ten

Miami (FL) vs. Georgia

Jan. 2

Fiesta
Glendale, Ariz.

At-large vs. At-large

USC vs. Boise State

Jan. 1

Peach
Atlanta

At-large vs. At-large

Florida vs. Penn State

Dec. 30

Cotton
Arlington, Tex.

At-large vs. At-large

Oklahoma State vs. North Carolina

This week featured the fewest number of college football games since the SEC started its season on Sept. 26.  Four games were postponed this week, three due to COVID-19 issues. The fourth, Coastal Carolina at Louisiana, was moved to this Wednesday, Oct. 14, due to Hurricane Delta.

Check out Jerry Palm’s complete 2020 bowl projections.

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