The pure insanity of the 2020 college football season


Mickey Welsh, USA Today

Nick Saban, head coach of the Alabama Crimson Tide, looks to win his 7th national title this season.

It’s no secret that this year’s college football season has been anything, but normal. With COVID-19 running rampant throughout universities across the nation, the fact that the NCAA was able to put together a season at all is still mind-boggling to say the least. However, despite these unfortunate circumstances, the season has trudged along, and with it, another chapter in college football’s long legacy.

We start our analysis of this obscure season in the South Eastern Conference (SEC), where Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide have reclaimed their throne as college footballs’ tyrants. The SEC has not lived up to the hype this year, as LSU and Georgia have been major disappointments after being projected to at least compete for the conference championship. However, the regression of the aforementioned programs has paved the way for schools such as Texas A&M and Florida to have a shot at making the playoff, a feat either team has yet to accomplish. A major part of these teams success must be attributed to their quarterbacks, as Kellen Mond (A&M) and Kyle Trask (Florida) have both edged their way into the Heisman discussion. It will be interesting to see how the rest of the season plays out in the SEC, especially because history has shown us that no win is guaranteed in this conference.

Next we move to the Atlantic Coastal Conference (ACC) which has largely been the most competitive of the power five this season, with two clear championship contenders in Notre Dame and Clemson. The two titans of college football met Saturday in South Bend for what was likely the game of the year, with The Fighting Irish pulling out a late victory over a Clemson team without their star quarterback Trevor Lawernce. This win only adds fuel to the fire of the potential rematch of the two in the ACC championship game which could decide who does and doesn’t make the playoffs. However, the resurgence of the Miami Hurricanes cannot go unnoticed as they sit one game back from first place in the conference beside Clemson. It will be crucial to keep our eyes on the ACC going forward, as it could be the lone conference to yield two teams in the college football playoff.

The Big 12’s season, on the other hand, can be summed up in just two words: hot mess. This season has shown a major regression of Big 12 competition, as the conference likely won’t have a playoff participant for the first time in three years. Oklahoma and Texas began the season as the favorites to compete for the fourth playoff spot, but slow starts have since dispelled any hope for either program. Oklahoma State looked as if they could potentially sneak into that playoff spot, however, a loss to Texas two weeks ago crushed these aspirations. Overall, the Big 12 teams will likely have to restructure their programs come this offseason, as, besides Oklahoma, no other team looks fundamentally sound.

Lastly, we look at the Big 10 and the PAC-12, who both have made their season debuts these past three weeks. With such a small sample size in both conferences, the only true contender out of either is Ohio State and their Heisman candidate Justin Fields. Penn state began the season ranked seventh, but after three straight losses they have dropped out of the top-25 entirely. The PAC-12 has only one true playoff contender, in the form of the Oregon Ducks. While there are some intriguing storylines in the PAC, such as USC and Arizona State, the PAC-12’s late start has made it nearly impossible for any team to truly compete for a playoff spot.

The fact that we have college football this year at all is truly incredible and while many programs must deal with the setbacks of COVID-19, Hall of Fame Coach Vince Lombardi put it best when he said:

“It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get up.”