Cyclones Upend Sooners, Horned Frogs Stun Longhorns, Big 12 Reeling.
Matt Campbell promised to take Iowa State to heights the Cyclones have never seen. On Saturday night he certainly took a big step in that direction as Iowa State beat perennial national power Oklahoma 37-30. It was the first Cyclone win over the Sooners in Ames since 1960 and the win puts Iowa State smack in the middle of the Big 12 conference race. The Big 12 is struggling mightily. Texas fell at home to TCU, who suddenly seems to own the Longhorns, having won 7 of 9 games since joining the league. Oklahoma State remains the conference's only undefeated team. Around the nation: SMU moved to 4-0 with a huge win over C-USA rival Memphis, squeaking out a 30-27 victory at home. Brigham Young continued to look like a playoff contender after crushing Louisiana Tech 45-14. Air Force started 2020 play with a resounding 40-7 whipping of Navy in the first round of the Commander-In-Chief Trophy. Georgia's defense held Auburn in check all afternoon as the Bulldogs stifled the Tigers 27-6. Alabama, Florida and Clemson all dominated their competition to keep pace in the race for the National Championship. Notre Dame was Idle. And a big shout out to Arkansas as the Hogs traveled to Starkville and stunned Mississippi State 21-14.
Mississippi State Surprises Defending Champ LSU in the Bayou
Bulldog fans didn't have to wait long to see some magic from new head coach Mike Leach as Mississippi State traveled to Baton Rouge and shocked LSU 44-34. It was the first game of the season for both teams in an abbreviated conference game only schedule. In other SEC action Florida, Alabama and Georgia dominated their opening competition while Tennessee squeaked by South Carolina 31-27 and Auburn beat Kentucky 29-13. Texas A&M had a surprisingly difficult time with Vanderbilt coming away with a 17-12 win at home in College Station. Around the Nation: Sooner fans are growing weary of the pattern of being upset as a double digit favorite. For the second year in a row Kansas State upset Oklahoma, this time in Norman, 38-35. Sam Ehlinger spearheaded a stunning 15 point come from behind win over Texas Tech 63-56 in OT. Miami (Fla.) cruised to a 52-10 victory over struggling arch rival Florida State. Multiple games were canceled due to COVID 19 concerns including Notre Dame and Wake Forest. In other news, the PAC 12, Mountain West and MAC all announced their intention to play an abbreviated schedule with games starting in late October or November. The Billingsley Report will begin reflecting rankings for those teams after their first games are played.
Clemson and Notre Dame Top Teams As Early 2020 Season Unfolds
If things continue on there current trend, Clemson and Notre Dame appear headed toward a monumental November 7th clash in South Bend. Both the Tigers and the Irish have been dominant in early season games and rank 1 and 2 respectively in the 3rd week Billingsley Report. Things should liven up in the College Football landscape next week as the SEC opens 2020 play. In action around the nation La. Lafayette avoided an upset at the hands of Georgia State by finally prevailing 34-31 in overtime. Appalachian State was not as fortunate as the Mountaineers went on the road and were upset by a surprisingly good Marshall team 17-7. Navy, trailing Tulane 24-0 as late as the 3rd quarter, mounted a stunning comeback to defeat the Green Wave 27-24. The scheduling landscape continues to be surrounded by chaos as several games were canceled or postponed due to Covid-19 protocols. Additionally, the Big 10 surprisingly announced a late October start of play with a 9 game conference only schedule. The PAC 12 and MAC are considering a similar path with announcements forthcoming. The big question is, with so many games being canceled, how many of these games will actually ever be played. Hang on, the October November schedules may be a roller coaster ride.
The Little Conference that Could: Sun Belt Shines in Week 2 Action.
Once upon a time the Sun Belt, the smallest of the Group of Five Conferences, scheduled what is known as "revenue games" to begin the 2020 season. In order to support the athletic budget, small schools go on the road and play big name schools for big bucks. It's an issue of financial survival for many FBS teams. But a fairy tail ending sent shock waves through the Big 12 Saturday as not one, not two, but all three Sun Belt teams went on the road and slew the mighty Power Five dragons. Louisiana-Lafayette downed Iowa State in Ames 31-14, Arkansas State shocked Kansas State 35-31 in Manhattan and in the nightcap, Coastal Carolina completed the sweep with a resounding 38-23 win in Lawrence over Kansas. Looks like Les Miles' rebuilding project might take longer than first thought. The Sun Belt upsets were not the only shockers of the day. Georgia Tech went to Tallahassee and spoiled the debut of new Seminole Coach Mike Norvell with a low scoring 16-13 defensive squeaker. Top ranked teams Clemson, Oklahoma, Texas, and Notre Dame rolled to opening victories over lesser opponents, although Duke was no push over for the Irish. Notre Dame finally prevailed 27-13. The Week Two Billingsley Rankings are now online. With limited action, little significant change took place.
BYU Shines in 55-3 Smothering of Navy
No prep time? No problem for the Cougars, as Brigham Young's late scheduled opponent Navy just couldn't ever get untracked in a nationally televised Labor Day contest. The Cougars were dominant offensively and defensively, giving way to thoughts of a possible undefeated season in a piecemeal revamped 8 game schedule for BYU. Memphis, 37-24 winner over Arkansas State, and Army, 42-0 victor over Middle Tennessee, were also dominant in opening weekend games.
College Football Enters 2020 Season with Great Uncertainty
Not since World War II has College Football began a season with so much uncertainty. In 1943, 82 major college programs fielded teams. This year, because of the Covid-19 Pandemic, 54 teams have cancelled their entire season, and the remaining 76 are playing an abbreviated schedule. Four Conferences, The Big 10, Pac 12, Mountain West and Mid-American will not participate in fielding teams for 2020. Old Dominion from the Conference USA also cancelled their entire season. The Pre-Season Billingsley Report reflects the 76 teams who will, at this point, attempt to participate in the quest for the National Championship. The Billingsley Report will continue be published each Sunday morning, however, due to the fluidity in scheduling Billingsley announced last week that no weekly projections will be made for the 2020 season. As of this writing, what would have been scheduled as week one (August 29), no games are scheduled. Week two has two games scheduled on Thursday September 3, a handful on Saturday September 5, and Brigham Young/Navy slated for prime time on Labor Day night, September 7. The season is slated to begin in earnest on week 3, the games of September 10-12.
LSU Shatters CFRC Records in Route to 2019 Championship
The Billingsley Encyclopedia has been updated and the LSU Tigers 2019 team figures prominently in the record books. Bolstered by a perfect 15-0 record, coupled with playing the #1 most difficult schedule of the season, the Bayou Bengals vaulted to the #1 All Time most powerful college team to ever take the field. The rating of 408.051 makes LSU the first team to eclipse the 400 point barrier. For decades the benchmark was 375.979 set by the great 1971 Nebraska Cornhuskers. But, the onset of the College Football Playoff, adding an additional game to the schedule via the national semi-final, bolstered 2018 Clemson and 2019 LSU to record rating highs. The 2009 Alabama Crimson Tide ranks 3rd on the All-Time Rating list at #3 with a rating of 378.293. The SEC recorded the strongest conference for the 13th season in a row, dating back to 2006 when the Big East squeaked out a victory over the SEC, 264.740 to 263.800. 13 in a row is impressive, but it is not a record. The longest running string of conference comparison champions belongs to the Big 10 with 16 in a row from 1919-1934. Of course, logic prevails through the argument that the competition is dramatically more difficult in today's landscape. The highest ever conference rating was recorded by the Big 10 in 1961 with an average of 290.820. The Big 10 recorded 7 teams among the nation's Top 14 teams, an amazing feat. The Big 10 did not however, win the National Title that year. That distinction went to Alabama. In 1961 the Big 10 placed Ohio State at #2, Minnesota at #5, Michigan State at #7, Purdue at #8, Michigan at #11, Wisconsin at #12 and Iowa at #14. In comparison, the SEC's highest recorded average of 286.600 came in 1971 when the conference recorded 6 teams in the Top 13 in the nation. Interestingly, the SEC did not win a national title that season either as Nebraska and Oklahoma finished #1 and #2. Alabama was #3, Georgia #4, Auburn #6, Tennessee #7, Ole Miss #12 and LSU #13. One individual team placed a mark in the record books in 2019. Memphis recorded their greatest team in Tiger history at 285.169, shattering their team best of 275.172 set way back in 1963. I hope you enjoy browsing the 2019 updated version of the Billingsley College Football Encyclopedia, particularly the All-Time Schedules and Scores which contains a wealth of information, including game by game team rankings of the AP and Coaches Polls in comparison to the Billingsley report. As of this post, dated May 2, 2020, the upcoming college football season remains in doubt. My heart goes out to all those affected by the COVID-19 Pandemic. I, along with billions of others pray for a swift end to this virus that has taken so many lives across the globe.
Bayou Bengals Maul Clemson 42-25 to Capture 2019 Championship
Will LSU 2019 be remembered as the GREATEST College team of all time? I'm sure the debate will begin in the next few hours and days, but according to the Billingsley Report, yes indeed, the 2019 LSU Tigers are on record as the best team ever to take the field. The Billingsley Encyclopedia will be updated over the course of the next several weeks to reflect those results. Joe Burrow started a little slow, but later caught fire and never looked back as the LSU offense looked unstoppable. The LSU defense rose up in the second half and time after time stopped Trevor Lawrence and the Clemson offense when it mattered most.....on third down. Stay tuned for updates on the Encyclopedia in the coming weeks.
Tigers vs Tigers in College Football National Championship
The Bowl season completed last night (January 6th) with the conclusion of the Mobile Bowl where Louisiana held off Miami (Ohio) 27-17. The National Championship Game had already been set back on December 28 when the Semi-Final games were played. LSU overwhelmed Oklahoma 63-28 in the Peach Bowl and Clemson downed Ohio State 29-23 in the Fiesta Bowl. LSU and Clemson have only played 3 times in college football history, all in Bowl Games, with LSU holding a 2-1 lead. All 3 games have been barn burners with only a total of 11 points separating one another. LSU won the first game in the Sugar Bowl after the 1958 season, 7-0. The Bayou Bengals won again in the 1996 Peach Bowl 10-7 and Clemson won a 25-24 thriller in the 2012 Chick-fil-A Bowl. The Billingsley+ Projection has the game rated as a total tossup, with the Billingsley Report giving LSU a slight 4 point advantage. The game will be played Monday night January 13, 2020 in New Orleans.
America Begins "Feast of Football" As Bowl Games Get Underway December 20.
An American Holiday tradition gets underway next Friday, December 20th, as a series of 39 Bowl Games culminate into a National Championship set for Monday January 13th. Projections for all 39 games will be posted tomorrow, Monday, December 16th shortly after 2PM. Yesterday the 2019 regular season ended with Navy running all over Army, literally, 31-7. Navy QB Malcolm Perry rushed for a series record 304 yards, virtually unstoppable the entire game. The game represented the 120th edition of one of the nation's greatest rivalries. Navy snapped a 3 game Army winning streak. Also on Saturday Joe Burrow of LSU was the awarded the Heisman Trophy by the largest margin in the history of the trophy. Jalen Hurts of Oklahoma was a very distant second.
Nation Awaits Playoff Committee Decision
Championship weekend left little drama as only Oregon's very slight upset of Utah raised any eyebrows. The Duck's win further opened the door for the Big 12 Champion to enter the playoff discussion, and after Georgia's loss to LSU, the door flung wide open for the Sooners to take the 4th and final playoff spot. The only real question remaining will be whom the committee slots in as the #1 team. The Billingsley Report still favors LSU by a wide margin over Ohio State based on the Tigers also possessing the Nation's most difficult schedule. The Billingsley+ Ranking, which factors in margin of victory, slightly favors Ohio State. Both systems agree that Oklahoma should be the 4th place team. The Playoff announcement is due on ESPN at 11AM CT.
Auburn win in Iron Bowl leads to Major Playoff Debate
Be prepared for a lot of controversy. It's PAC 12 vs Big 12, Utah or Oklahoma, what's your pleasure? Of course Oregon and Baylor might have something to say about this argument as well, but if the Utes and Sooners both win their respective conference championship games all eyes will be on the final decision made by the playoff committee next Sunday. You want real chaos? Let Georgia beat LSU and both the PAC 12 and Big 12 will be left out. All this mess was set up by Auburn's stunning 48-45 win over Alabama. It was a dramatic back and forth contest with more twists and turns than an Alfred Hitchcock murder mystery. But in the end, the simple mistake of a 5 yard penalty for Alabama, on 4th down and 4 for Auburn, gave the Tigers a first down and the ability to run out the clock. Sometimes we forget how important discipline in basic fundamentals can be. Around the Nation: LSU, Ohio State and Clemson rolled in season finales, setting up a solid 1,2,3 heading into conference championship games. All three appear to be locks for the playoff, even if they lose, given their season long resumes. Although, a Clemson loss to Virginia may make the Tigers vulnerable to falling out of the Top 4. Memphis secured a spot in the American Conference Championship, and at least temporarily takes the lead as the top contender for the Group of Five participant in the New Year's Six games. The Tigers defeated Cincinnati 34-24 and will face them again next Saturday. If Memphis wins again, most likely they are in as the top Group of Five team, although Boise State and Appalachian State are not far behind and if Cincinnati wins, the Bearcats might sneak in. It's a tight race, too close to call. Rivalry games always bring surprises, and usually close exciting finishes. Such was the case as Virginia finally beat Virginia Tech, topping the Hokies 39-30, and Indiana winning the Old Oaken Bucket over Purdue 44-41 in double overtime. Minnesota's dream season dropped a notch as Wisconsin took home the Axe with a 38-17 thumping of the Gophers. Oklahoma finally won a game by more than 3 points as the Sooners took home the Bedlam Trophy with a 34-16 victory over Oklahoma State. As I suspected, Oregon State battled hard, but finally succumbed to Oregon 24-10 while Washington won the Apple Cup 31-13. Nebraska played well against a better team in Iowa, but couldn't quite pull off the upset, losing 27-24. Such was the story in 2019. Nebraska could easily have been a 9-3 team with close losses to Colorado, Indiana, Purdue and Iowa by a combined 17 points. Maybe 2020 will be the year of the Cornhusker. And what can I say, Tennessee, you have made the Volunteer Nation proud, moving to 7-5 on the season with a win over Vanderbilt. Tennessee finished the season with 5 straight wins after a dismal 2-5 start.
Oregon's Playoff Hopes Die in the Desert as Sun Devils upend Ducks 31-28
Many a good team has traveled to the Arizona desert and left the desolate environment with a shocking loss. Perhaps, none so more than Oregon, as late Saturday night the Arizona State defense held the Ducks in check for 3 quarters, enough to build a 24-7 lead, then hold off a furious Oregon rally to capture a 31-28 Sun Devil victory. Winning out for Oregon would highly likely have given the Ducks the coveted 4th spot in the College Football Playoff, but those dreams dissipated like a mist in the dry Arizona desert. Around the Nation: Idle Clemson watched as their two other major competitors took the field. Ohio State gained ground with an impressive 28-17 win over Penn State and LSU ran over the Razorbacks 56-20. Oklahoma's hopes for entry into the playoff brightened somewhat with Oregon's loss, but the Sooners have other issues to attend to.....like putting up more impressive wins for the committee to evaluate. Oklahoma survived TCU 28-24 with a highly questionable first down spot with just over a minute to play. The Sooners have in state rival Oklahoma State coming up in Stillwater Saturday plus a rematch with Baylor in the Big 12 Championship game. Winning is a must, but a couple of impressive performances wouldn't hurt their resume either. Georgia solidified their position as a national title contender with a big win over Texas A&M 19-13. The Bulldogs can punch their ticket with wins over Georgia Tech and LSU. Earlier this season I blasted Tennessee as having reached a low point in their program history, now I'm having to eat my words as the Volunteers have turned their season around after big wins over Kentucky and Missouri to move into bowl eligibility with a 6-5 record. The Volunteers face rival Vanderbilt Saturday with a 7 win season looking very possible. Who would have thunk it after that embarrassing loss to Georgia State early in the season. Rivalry Weekend is upon us. I have always said it is the greatest event in the entire sports world. We will be treated to some real doozies including Virginia Tech at Virginia, Indiana at Purdue, Iowa at Nebraska, Wisconsin at Minnesota, Arizona at Arizona State, Oregon State at Oregon, Washington State at Washington, Kentucky at Louisville, Ole Miss at Mississippi State, Clemson at South Carolina and Vanderbilt at Tennessee. Plus, the entire nation will be watching as Alabama travels to Auburn for the Iron Bowl and Ohio State travels to the Big House to face Michigan. Happy Thanksgiving to all my devoted followers.
Sooner Magic Reborn as Oklahoma Shocks Baylor 34-31 in Come From Behind Win
During the Switzer years at Oklahoma the phrase "Sooner Magic" was coined to pen the amazing comebacks the Sooners experienced in games of National prominence over Nebraska. Saturday night in Waco, Texas, Sooner Magic was reborn, Twenty First Century style, as Oklahoma overcame a school record 25 point deficit to down undefeated Baylor 34-31. Trailing 28-3 at one point, and 31-10 at the half, the Sooners stormed back with 24 points, while holding Baylor to 0 in the second half. Time of possession was the key to the amazing comeback as Baylor was limited to only 5 offensive plays in the entire 3rd quarter. The Oklahoma defense, which seemed so porous in the first half, came up big time and time again as the second half unfolded. The win keeps a very faint hope alive for the Sooners in the CFP. The three undefeated and Top Ranked Teams in the Nation, LSU, Ohio State and Clemson all rolled to big victories Saturday as LSU downed rival Ole Miss 58-37, Ohio State routed Rutgers 56-21 and Clemson waxed Wake Forest 52-3. The latest ranking installment of the CFP Committee is scheduled for Tuesday and the #4 position will be a tight race between Alabama, Georgia, Oregon, Utah, Penn State and Oklahoma. Minnesota, who lost to Iowa, and Baylor, loser to Oklahoma, still have opportunities in front of them to re-enter the conversation by winning their respective conference races. Around the Nation: Iowa State finally won a close game. The Cyclones beat Texas 23-21 moving to 6-4 on the season after losing by 1 point to Iowa, 2 points to Baylor, 1point to Oklahoma and 7 points to Oklahoma State. A mere 11 points separates Iowa State from being 10-0 and a National Title Contender. How many major college coaching lists do you think Matt Campbell will be on before the end of the season when the axe begins to fall on multiple major programs? I hope he stays with the Cyclones, but honestly, he could have any opening in America he wanted right now. Oregon and Utah are one step closer to a showdown in the PAC 12 Championship game. Oregon blasted Arizona 34-6 and Utah destroyed UCLA 49-3. Keep your eyes on Oregon State. The Beavers are quietly, game by game, potentially turning 2019 into a winning season. They are currently 5-5 after squeaking by Arizona State 35-34 Saturday with games against Washington State and Oregon to go. Be careful Ducks.....the Beavers would like nothing better than to spoil your Conference and National Title hopes. The regular season is winding down with only three more weekends of football, November 23, and Rivalry Weekend on November 30, before Championship Weekend on December 7. All of the conference races are still up for grabs and a lot of important National games are yet to be played. All eyes this week will be focused on the Nittany Lions as Penn State travels to the Horseshoe to face undefeated Ohio State.