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Cocktail time: No. 7 Georgia thumps No. 9 Florida to make SEC East statement

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No. 7 Georgia heard the question for two weeks: is the team capable of making another run at the SEC title? On Saturday afternoon in Jacksonville, the Bulldogs went a long ways to answering in the affirmative.

Kirby Smart’s squad got back to clicking on offense and forcing turnovers on defense as the Dawgs beat rival No. 9 Florida 36-17 in the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party and secured their status as East Division front-runner in the process.

In perhaps the most encouraging part of the game for many fans in red and black, Jake Fromm looked much more like the signal-caller who took his team to the final game of the season last year as a true freshman. The quarterback threw for 240 yards but saved his best passes for the end zone, tossing a trio of beautiful touchdowns while not turning the ball over. Jeremiah Holloman was one of the breakout stars in the game for the Georgia receiving corps, scoring twice to finish with four catches and 48 yards while leaving a few nightmares for Gators defensive backs to get over once they watch the tape next week. Tight end Isaac Nauta was also a big part of the passing game with 73 yards and several huge first downs.

While the Bulldogs had their struggles at times running the ball — including getting stuffed five times three yards away from the goal line — the two lead tailbacks still got their numbers in the end. Elijah Holyfield finished with 71 on the ground while D’Andre Swift busted out for 104 yards and iced the victory with a fourth quarter touchdown that saw him burst through the line and out run everybody on the field.

It wasn’t all bad for Florida as the team did lead in one category: unique penalties. They had one player flagged for a delay of game for not wearing pads covering his knees (which extended a UGA scoring drive) and head coach Dan Mullen wound up with an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty as well.

Though the final margin was rough, the Gators did have some chances but continually had to play from behind in the game thanks to turnovers. Tailback Jordan Scarlett (56 yards rushing) fumbled early in the first half and QB Feleipe Franks threw an interception on the very next series. It was all together a bit of a reversion to the mean for the UF offense overall as there was little consistency throughout the game and Franks seemed to get hit on every drop back. It was impressive that he even managed to score twice (one passing, one rushing) but that was otherwise it as the entire unit got stuck in neutral.

When all was said and done from Jacksonville though, it was Georgia that can finally claim (improbably) just their second winning streak in the series in the past two decades. While the Bulldogs still have to play at Kentucky and against Auburn, the victory should all but lock up another division title and trip to Atlanta in the process.

Whether it will all be enough when they face Alabama or LSU in December is a separate issue entirely but, at least this weekend, the Dawgs took a step in the right direction and lived up to their preseason billing by moving toward another title in the SEC East.

CFP chair confirms debate for No. 4 was between Oklahoma and Georgia

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Let’s be honest, there was no debating the College Football Playoff this season. You want to try to stir things up and say that Ohio State and not LSU should have been No. 1? Fine.

But those top four teams? That seemed set in stone from the moment Utah fell flat on its face in the Pac-12 title game against Oregon. It was always going to be the Buckeyes, Tigers, Clemson and the Sooners after they beat Baylor in the Big 12 Championship Game.

For formality sake though, the Selection Committee still had to go through the motions and tick off all the boxes in the process. That included, as chairman Rob Mullens told ESPN, discussing final spot in the field between OU and what he revealed to be the No. 5 team in the rankings: Georgia.

“That conference championship win against Baylor moved (Oklahoma) to the No. 4 spot. Wd did spend some time talking about Oklahoma and Georgia but in the end, it was a solid selection for Oklahoma in the No. 4 spot,” said Mullens. “We put them on the board because we want to be thorough and we want to make sure that we consider everything. So we did have Oklahoma and Georgia on the board and Oklahoma was the number four team.”

Such a debate may not have lasted much more than 30 seconds but there you go Bulldogs fans, at least there was some consideration for your team.

Perhaps more notable is the fact that Mullens all but confirmed UGA was the No. 5 team in the full rankings released later on Sunday, which means they’ll be put in the Sugar Bowl against Baylor.

The College Football Playoff is set: No. 1 LSU, No. 2 Ohio State, No. 3 Clemson and No. 4 Oklahoma

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The 2019-2020 College Football Playoff field is set.

Thanks largely to a drama-free and fairly straightforward conference championship weekend, the CFP Selection Committee made the easy choice of the four teams who will play for this season’s national championship: SEC champion LSU at No. 1 in the Peach Bowl semifinal against No. 4 Oklahoma and recently crowned Big Ten champ Ohio State at No. 2 in the Fiesta Bowl semifinal against reigning champions and No. 3 Clemson.

“You’ve got two complete teams, obviously. They’ve both had a conference championship and when we’re comparing schedule strength, you’ve got LSU 4-0 against teams in the top 13, Ohio State 5-0 against teams in the top 21,” committee chairman Rob Mullens said on ESPN of the only debate that existed on the top seeds. “It was really close, I mean we’ve spent the entire ranking season, six weeks of just, you know, one going above the other one just by a tick.

“We saw the last couple of weeks an LSU defense that’s healthy and playing better, continued quality play out of Joe Burrow at the quarterback position so this week we just felt that LSU deserve that number one seed going into the playoffs.”

The Peach Bowl in Atlanta will kickoff first on Saturday, December 28 at 4 p.m. ET and be followed by the Fiesta Bowl at roughly 8 p.m. ET with both games broadcasted on ESPN.

Perhaps most notable regarding this year’s final four is who’s not involved as this will be the very first College Football Playoff since its inception in 2014 without Alabama and Nick Saban. Two-loss Pac-12 champion Oregon was also not involved in the discussions for postseason tournament either as the conference has missed out on the CFP for the third straight year.

This will be the Sooners’ fourth appearance and first trip to the Peach Bowl in the current setup, having posted an 0-3 mark in their previous semifinals. The Buckeyes are on their third selection, having won the first Playoff altogether while also getting shutout by Clemson in the 2016 Fiesta Bowl.

The newbie of the group? That would be Ed Orgeron’s Tigers, who are the first SEC team other than Georgia and the Crimson Tide to make it in. The site of this season’s National Championship Game is at the Superdome in New Orleans — notable since LSU’s past two titles were won there.

The Selection Committee’s full top 25 and the rest of the New Year’s Six matchups will be announced later on Sunday but for now, let the discussion over this year’s Playoff begin.

LSU No. 1 in final regular season AP Poll too, Pac-12 champ Oregon behind pair of two-loss SEC teams

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LSU is tops in both polls after being named the No. 1 team in the final regular season AP Poll on Sunday afternoon.

The Tigers edged No. 2 Ohio State, No. 3 Clemson and No. 4 Oklahoma in what is expected to be the same order of teams in this year’s final four to play for the national title.

While that was no surprise, Pac-12 fans may take an exception to voters putting No. 7 Oregon behind a pair of SEC teams with similar records in No. 5 Georgia and No. 6 Florida. Despite a title game loss, Baylor remained at No. 8 while Utah fell from No. 5 to No. 12 after falling to the Ducks. Wisconsin slipped just one place after getting beat by the Buckeyes in Indianapolis.

The full AP top 25 for the final weekend of the regular season:

  1. LSU
  2. Ohio State
  3. Clemson
  4. Oklahoma
  5. Georgia
  6. Florida
  7. Oregon
  8. Baylor
  9. Alabama
  10. Auburn
  11. Wisconsin
  12. Utah
  13. Penn State
  14. Notre Dame
  15. Memphis
  16. Minnesota
  17. Michigan
  18. Boise State
  19. Iowa
  20. Appalachian State
  21. Navy
  22. USC
  23. Cincinnati
  24. Air Force
  25. Oklahoma State

LSU edges Ohio State for No. 1 in final Coaches Poll of the regular season

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The College Football Playoff rankings matter just a bit more to both teams but in the first early indication of which way the Selection Committee might be leaning, LSU edged out Ohio State for the No. 1 spot in the final Coaches’ Poll of the regular season on Sunday.

As expected, Clemson was set at No. 3 and Big 12 champion Oklahoma occupied the No. 4 spot. SEC title game loser Georgia stayed in the top five ahead of No. 6 Oregon. While the Bulldogs fell only one spot, Utah was dropped quite a bit after losing to the Ducks on Friday and wound up down five spots to No. 10.

AAC champion Memphis were up to No. 15 as the highest ranked Group of Five team, softening the blow somewhat of losing head coach Mike Norvell on the same day. Also notable is Virginia was not penalized for getting blown out by Clemson in the ACC championship game and saying in the top 25.

The full Coaches Poll following conference championship weekend:

  1. LSU (46 first place votes)
  2. Ohio State (14)
  3. Clemson (5)
  4. Oklahoma
  5. Georgia
  6. Oregon
  7. Florida
  8. Baylor
  9. Alabama
  10. Utah
  11. Wisconsin
  12. Penn State
  13. Auburn
  14. Notre Dame
  15. Memphis
  16. Minnesota
  17. Michigan
  18. Boise State
  19. Iowa
  20. Appalachian State
  21. Navy
  22. Cincinnati
  23. USC
  24. Air Force
  25. Virginia