The looming collision course between College Football Playoff contenders No. 1 LSU and No. 4 Georgia appears on track for early December as the latter clinched their spot in the SEC Championship Game thanks to a wild 21-14 win over No. 12 Auburn in the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry.
The victory gave Kirby Smart, who might have aged quite a bit in a tense fourth quarter, his third straight SEC East Division title at his alma mater and might have doubled as the sweetest yet given the effort on the side of the ball he specializes in. The Bulldogs defense was simply swarming all night in holding the Tigers to under four yards per play, netting a fumble, forcing an impressive five 3-and-outs, stopping three 4th down conversions and generally keeping their opponent out of the red zone until late in the fourth quarter.
That kind of effort certainly took the pressure off a still-questionable UGA offense. Quarterback Jake Fromm did wind up throwing for three touchdowns but it all came on just 13 completions (and 28 attempts) for 110 yards as every snap was a battle of wills between the two programs. Most of the damage came on just one play, a perfect first quarter strike down field 51 yards into the hands of Dominick Blaylock, who split the defense and raced into the end zone.
Tailback D’Andre Swift recorded 106 yards rushing but it wasn’t easy on the ground for anybody involved in this one against two of the best front-seven’s in the country.
Despite trailing all game long, Auburn did make things interesting with yet another rally in the final minutes. QB Bo Nix was naturally the spark plug and finished the evening 30-of-50 for 245 yards and a touchdown through the air but it was his scrambling ability that really made things interesting. He scored the first rushing touchdown the Bulldogs have allowed all season long to go with his 42 yards on the ground but it just wasn’t enough in the end as he took a sack with just over 90 seconds left to frame the final score.
As a result, the Bulldogs are headed back to Atlanta next month and may have locked up the title of the SEC’s second-best team behind top-ranked LSU with the win and Tua Tagovailoa’s tough season-ending injury for No. 5 Alabama. While it’s doubtful UGA will move up in the Selection Committee’s rankings at all with three undefeated programs ahead of them, they continue to make it look like the SEC title game will be a de facto quarterfinal game to get into the Playoff.
It was far from easy to get to that point and Georgia still has a tough final conference test remaining against Texas A&M but Smart once again has his team in position to get back to the promised land after crossing state lines and getting another big win at Jordan-Hare.
It appears we’re only steps away from the Hogs getting called.
According to a number of reports surfacing on Sunday, Arkansas has pivoted from hiring now-Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin to bringing in Georgia offensive line coach Sam Pittman as the team’s next head coach.
Pittman is widely regarded as one of the best assistant coaches in the SEC and developed a quality reputation for both recruiting and teaching along the offensive line. He was in Fayetteville from 2013-2015 under Bret Bielema and spent time at Tennessee, North Carolina, Missouri, Kansas and Northern Illinois and others over the years.
The Oklahoma native was recently elevated to associate head coach in Athens and was one of the few position coaches to come close making $1 million a year without a coordinator title.
Pittman will replace Chad Morris, who was fired in early November after going winless in conference play and posting a 4-18 overall record with the Hogs in less than two seasons.
The games have been played. The wins have been tallied. The touchdowns have been counted. The championship trophies have been hoisted.
Now it’s time for the college football postseason to commence.
So where is everybody going bowling? Here’s a look at the full lineup of games and who’s in them. All times ET, games on ESPN unless otherwise indicated.
College Football Playoff Semifinals
|Peach Bowl – Dec. 28, 4pm
||No. 1 LSU
||No. 4 Oklahoma
|Fiesta Bowl – Dec. 28, 8pm
||No. 2 Ohio State
||No. 3 Clemson
New Year’s Six
|Cotton Bowl – Dec. 28, Noon
|Orange Bowl – Dec. 30, 8pm
|Rose Bowl – Jan. 1, 5pm
|Sugar Bowl – Jan. 1, 8:45pm
2019 FBS Bowl Games
|Bahamas Bowl – Dec. 20, 2 pm
|Frisco Bowl – Dec. 20, 7:30pm**
|New Mexico Bowl – Dec. 21, 2pm
||San Diego State
|Cure Bowl – Dec. 21, 2:30pm^^
|Boca Raton Bowl – Dec. 21, 3:30pm*
|Camellia Bowl – Dec. 21, 5:30pm
|Vegas Bowl – Dec. 21, 7:30pm*
|New Orleans Bowl – Dec. 21, 9pm
|Gasparilla Bowl – Dec. 23, 2:30pm
|Hawaii Bowl – Dec. 24, 8pm
|Independence Bowl – Dec. 26, 4pm
|Quick Lane Bowl – Dec. 26, 8pm
|Military Bowl – Dec. 27, Noon
|Pinstripe Bowl – Dec. 27, 3:30pm
|Texas Bowl – Dec. 27, 6:45pm
|Holiday Bowl – Dec. 27, 8pm++
|Cheez-It Bowl – Dec. 27, 10:15pm
|Camping World Bowl – Dec. 28, Noon*
|First Responder Bowl – Dec. 30, 12:30pm
|Music City Bowl – Dec. 30, 4pm
|RedBox Bowl – Dec. 30, 4pm+
|Belk Bowl – Dec. 31, Noon
|Sun Bowl – Dec. 31, 2pm^
|Liberty Bowl – Dec. 31, 3:45pm
|Arizona Bowl – Dec. 31, 4:30pm^^
|Alamo Bowl – Dec. 31, 7:30pm
|Citrus Bowl – Jan. 1, 1pm*
|Outback Bowl – Jan. 1, 1pm
|Birmingham Bowl – Jan. 2, 3pm
|Gator Bowl – Jan. 2, 7pm
|Famous Idaho Potato Bowl – Jan. 3, 3:30pm
|Armed Forces Bowl – Jan. 4, 11:30am
|LendingTree Bowl – Jan. 6, 7:30pm
^^ CBS Sports Network
While most of the focus on the Sunday after the regular season is reserved to teams finding out their postseason destination, Virginia Tech took the time to focus on the future beyond the next month.
Hokies head coach Justin Fuente confirmed that the was staying in-house to find Bud Foster’s replacement as the program’s defensive coordinator, tapping safeties coach and former player Justin Hamilton for the role.
“Justin has earned this opportunity to lead our defense and our football team,” Fuente said in a statement. “Everyone in our program has a great deal of respect for him and his abilities. Coach Foster has reiterated to me on several occasions that Justin is ready for this next step in his coaching career. I feel the same way and am convinced he’s exactly the right fit for this role at Virginia Tech. Coach Hamilton is a talented coach and recruiter with a deep passion for both the game and Virginia Tech. He possesses a great knack for connecting with our players. His voice carries tremendous weight on the field and in the locker room because he’s worn that helmet and experienced many of the same things the young men in our program are going through.”
Hamilton returned to Blacksburg last year in an off the field role before joining the coaching staff. He was a player at a number of spots under Frank Beamer and Foster from 2002-05 before spending some time in the NFL. Hamilton’s coaching career began at Virginia Military Institute and Virginia-Wise from 2011-2017.
There had been plenty of speculation that Fuente would tap ex-Missouri head coach Barry Odom as DC after the two had the same arrangement together at Memphis but it appears those rumors did not bear fruit.
Fuente also confirmed that running backs coach Zohn Burden and cornerbacks coach Brian Mitchell will not return to the Virginia Tech coaching staff.
It’s a pretty good day for Isaiah Simmons.
The Clemson linebacker woke up Sunday as an ACC Champion, found out later he was going to the College Football Playoff as the No. 3 seed and was also was named the winner of the 2019 Butkus Award as the best linebacker in the country.
“Simmons is one of the most versatile athletes to play the linebacker position. He’s an exceptional athlete with unique length and makes plays at all three levels, with terrific rush ability, blitz timing, cover skill and tackling range. He’s a modern-day linebacker with special match-up skills. For as good of a football player as he is, he’s a better person and will represent the Butkus Award with class,” a release confirming the news said.
The Kansas native has 93 tackles, seven sacks, a fumble and two interceptions on the season.
Simmons beat out Cal’s Evan Weaver, Wisconsin’s Zach Baun, Texas Tech’s Jordyn Brooks and Penn State’s Micah Parsons for the award.
LSU linebacker and top 10 pick Devin White won the trophy last year.