Scully’s college football takeaways: Mac Jones keeps Bama perfect
The ACC and SEC are approaching the midway point of their schedules, and the Big Ten will finally get underway this weekend. Top matchups include the battle for the Little Brown Jug, Michigan at Minnesota.
Iowa State at Oklahoma State and Cincinnati at SMU are also marquee games for Week 8.
Here are my top three takeaways from Week 7 of the 2020 college football season.
Bama takes out Georgia with second-half surge
After it was outplayed for 2 1/2 quarters, Alabama scored touchdowns on three straight possessions to knock out Georgia. The Crimson Tide forced a pair of interceptions and controlled the clock down the stretch to win by a 41-24 margin.
Georgia held the upper hand at halftime, with a 24-20 lead, and its fan base was pumped, after the Bulldogs forced Alabama to punt with 8:31 remaining in the third quarter. But Alabama’s defense stiffened, held Georgia (which was averaging 36 points per game) scoreless in the second half, and the Tide's potent offense eventually wore down the Bulldogs.
Alabama quarterback Mac Jones elevated his Heisman Trophy credentials with a quality performance against college football’s top defense. He completed 24 of his 32 passes for 417 yards and four touchdowns. The redshirt junior leads the nation with a 79.5% completion rate and became the first Alabama quarterback to record three consecutive 400-yard passing games.
His weapons were on full display in Week 7. DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle both topped 160 receiving yards, and Najee Harris rushed for more than 150, as Alabama put up 564 total yards.
Florida State upsets North Carolina to give Norvell first ACC win
Mike Norvell brings hope to Florida State. The proud program had been in the dumps the last couple of seasons, but Norvell changed the atmosphere with an upset of No. 5 North Carolina in Week 7.
After they jumped out to a 31-7 halftime advantage, the Seminoles held on to win, 31-28, as a 13-point underdog. They’re now 2-3, after they opened with losses to Georgia Tech, Miami, and Notre Dame.
Norvell, who gained attention as Arizona State’s offensive coordinator, was the youngest coach in the country when he was hired by Memphis in 2015. He had a 37-15 record over four seasons when Florida State came calling.
A three-time national champion that finished the 2016 season ranked in the top 10, Florida State’s record 36-year bowl streak came to an end in 2018. The Seminoles may still wind up with a losing record for the third straight year, but the team’s outlook changed significantly when redshirt sophomore quarterback Jordan Travis found his groove against North Carolina.
Travis overcame a shoulder injury to run for with 107 yards and two touchdowns, and he threw for 191 yards and a touchdown on only eight completions.
It was also a breakout game for running back La’Damian Webb, who accounted for 109 rushing yards.
The defense made just enough plays, including a interception returned for a touchdown, four sacks, and a fourth-down stop in the red zone in the final minute.
BYU, Coastal Carolina, and Liberty remain unbeaten
Behind an exciting offense, BYU will try to go undefeated through the regular season. The Cougars can’t play their original schedule, which included Arizona State, Michigan State, Minnesota, Missouri, and Utah, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but they have a few legitimate tests left at Boise State (Nov. 6), San Diego State at home (Dec. 12), and at Army (date to be determined).
BYU performed below standards against Houston for two quarters in Week 7, when it trailed 20-14 at halftime, but the Cougars white-washed their rival in the second half of a 43-26 win.
Quarterback Zach Wilson had another big effort, with 400 yards passing, four touchdowns, and no interceptions, and he has completed 78.7% of his passes. The Cougars also feature a strong offensive line and talented receivers.
Coastal Carolina, a former FCS program that joined the Sun Belt in 2017, improved to 4-0 and notched their first win over a ranked team with a defeat of No. 21 Louisiana-Lafayette in Week 7. With the game tied, the Chanticleers consumed 5:22 of game time on their final drive, which left only 8 seconds when Massimo Biscardi kicked the game-winning field goal.
Hugh Freeze has Liberty off to a 5-0 start in his second season. The former Ole Miss head coach, who was sacked prior to the 2017 season and given a one-year “show cause” penalty by the NCAA for lack of institutional control, guided Liberty to an 8-5 record, and a victory in the FBC Mortgage Cure Bowl, last year.
The independent program thrashed Syracuse, 38-21, in Week 7, and Liberty has Virginia Tech, North Carolina State, and Coastal Carolina remaining on its schedule.