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The Two Most Underrated College Football Contenders in 2020

As time goes on so does the likelihood that a college football season will happen. The season will no doubt look different due to the limited fan attendance. Recently, Texas Governor Greg Abbott told athletic directors to not expect fan capacity to exceed 50%. The reported range goes from about 25% to no more than 50% of fans in the stands at all during every college football home game in 2020. 

The limited number of tickets available will be given to students, season ticket holders, and boosters alike but social distancing will still be enforced in the stands. Fans will be spread out across the entire stadium rather than confined to a few particular areas to comply with the COVID-19 regulations that every university has or will be releasing. This different looking season will have the potential to give us different looking results by season’s end.

The hierarchy of college programs going into the season is relatively straightforward. There are the best of the best in the sport that check every box from recruiting to talent development to on the field results. As it stands six elite college football programs are going into 2020. Clemson, Alabama, Ohio State, LSU, Georgia, and Oklahoma may not all be on the same footing at the top but they have all separated themselves from their respective packs. 

Then some programs are delivering consistently good to great results and trending upwards but have a roadblock the size of a college football giant standing in their way. The peculiar set of circumstances that every college team faces this off-season will give those non-elite teams a better than normal shot to dethrone their roadblock and make the College Football Playoff in 2020.  

Florida

The big roadblock for the Gators has been and will continue to be the rival Georgia Bulldogs. Florida has delivered back to back New Year’s Six Bowl Wins and 10 plus win seasons but Georgia has beaten them at every turn. Kirby Smart has been able to turn Georgia into a recruiting powerhouse with consistent top-five classes while Florida cracks the end of the top ten. 

The roster disadvantage has been displayed on the field as Florida has not been able to defeat Georgia. Every year Florida seems to receive more media attention regarding their ability to beat Georgia and every year the final result becomes more and more disappointing.  

This season Florida will possess several advantages over its rival. The main one being the familiarity in offensive personnel compared to Georgia. Quarterback Kyle Trask will be returning along with Wideouts Kadarius Toney and Kyle Pitts. Toney will provide a do it all mentality with his game-changing speed and big play ability, while Pitts can stretch the field because he combines size and an elite release for a bigger body receiver. 

Dan Mullen already has the pieces in place from last season to build an offense that can be explosive. On the other hand, Georgia will have to implement a new offense with new offensive coordinator Todd Monken and a quarterback battle between Jaime Newman and JT Daniels. 

The two major challenges on the schedule for Florida are Georgia and LSU in 2020. Florida will be able to beat LSU because of their quarterback advantage and roster advantage in the trenches. Florida vs Georgia will be closer than ever in 2020 and if Trask can truly become the best quarterback in the SEC, then Florida will have a great shot at winning the SEC East and making the Playoff.  

Oregon

The Oregon Ducks’ biggest roadblock is non-conference losses and the lack of respect the Pac-12 gets in nationwide college football circles. Oregon has separated itself firmly as the team to beat in the Pac 12 for 2020 and beyond. In recruiting they have lapped the competition by boasting a top twelve class for 2020 and the best in the Pac 12 by far. USC holds an advantage in 2021, but both classes are currently in the top ten. 

Unfortunately for Oregon, the very advantage they’ve had inside their conference is also a part of their Playoff resume flaws. The Pac 12 has easily been the worst conference in the Playoff era with only two teams making an appearance in Oregon and Washington. USC is still one of the biggest brands in the sport, but the quality of its program is not what it used to be. Stanford, Utah, and Washington have had their flashes but have never been able to maintain much consistency. 

Oregon is head and shoulders above the in conference competition and ready to take the next step into joining the best of the best in 2020.  

Oregon has reloaded their talented roster from 2019 with a top ten recruiting class and young players ready to leap into stardom. Tyler Shough is the favorite to win the starting quarterback position and replace the big shoes of Justin Herbert. Shough will be a redshirt Sophomore in 2020 and was rated as the number seven pro-style quarterback out of high school. 

Joe Moorehead joins Mario Christobal’s staff as offensive coordinator heading into the season. Moorehead has a great track record of helping develop some great running backs as a coordinator. He was the coordinator for Saquon Barkley and Chase Edmonds at the FCS level. 

Oregon will also have one of the premier playmakers in college football in CJ Verdell.  The Chula Vista product ran for over 1,000 yards on the season with a steady average of 90 yards per game and 6 yards per carry. 

Oregon’s defense will be returning lots of contributors including an elite pass rusher in the making in Kayvon Thibodeaux and Thomas Graham in the secondary. They will have an extremely talented roster with a great defense and a reloaded offense, but the key to their playoff chances lies in their schedule. 

Oregon will face Ohio State at home in week two of the season. While winning this game is unlikely, Oregon can still make the playoff by beating the rest of the Pac 12 convincingly. A close loss to another playoff team with a conference championship will put Oregon squally in the mix for a playoff berth in 2020.  


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