• Cole Hughes

NCAA COLLEGE FOOTBALL 2020 SEASON RECAP

Another college football season is in the books just like that! This past Monday, the 2020 FBS season wrapped up after the No.1 Alabama Crimson Tide dominated the No.3 Ohio State Buckeyes in the National Championship game 52-24. And wow, what a season it was truly. Unorthodox from the start, with so many obstacles and reasons NOT to play, this college football season far surpassed the expectations of many.


Yes, there were delays and cancellations, but this was expected and inevitable. And yes, the stands were empty and traditions were put on hold this year for most programs, but they will return again. The one aspect that remained was the product and display that were demonstrated each Saturday on the field. The quality of play amongst the Division 1 programs this season was as superior as it ever has been which is what really matters. In order for the season to be successful, so many individuals had to sacrifice. From the players, to team personnel, to the crews that broadcasted and covered each matchup, the list is endless.


They all deserve recognition and praise for what they were able to accomplish despite the circumstances. They made the most of this year, did what was necessary to ensure the competition would take place, and even maintained a sense of normalcy throughout it all. Let’s take a look back at this crazy college season and breakdown some of the biggest headlines and best stories:


BAYOU BLUES


The LSU Tigers had a historic year last season and finished on top of the college football mountain in 2019, winning their fourth title in school history. As a result, they had the most players selected in the NFL draft at 14. Repeating as champions is never an easy task, but is especially difficult when you lose generational talent to the big boy league. No Burrow, no Justin Jefferson and no Clyde Edwards-Helaire automatically put the Tigers at a disadvantage to start the 2020 season. The same could be said on the defensive side of the ball losing Patrick Queen, Grant Delpit, and K’Lavon Chiasson. The Tigers suffered from the good ol’ championship hangover this season but don’t be mistaken, Coach O will have this program back competing for a National Championship very soon.


Getty Images / Kevin C. Cox



GOLF & GAMEDAY? GREATNESS!


One of the best features of college football year in and year out is the College Gameday experience. It’s always fun to see where the Gameday bus will end up in the country each week throughout the season and this year it landed in an unfamiliar place. Due to the pandemic, not only was the college football world impacted, but so were several other sports including golf. As a result, the annual Masters Tournament took place in November rather than April when it normally occurs. And Gameday took advantage! The crew spent week 11 at Augusta National and what a delight it was. Kirk Herbstreit, Rece Davis, and the ageless wonder Lee Corso will put on a show no matter where they are and have done so for countless years. This year we got an unexpected but a memorable display from the guys in Georgia.


Photo by ESPN



BAMA BALLS OUT…AGAIN


The Alabama Crimson Tide have become one of sport’s most decorated dynasties over the past decade and this historic season for the program was just another chapter. The Tide witnessed their rivals LSU take home the trophy last year and took notice. From the very start of the season, they were on a mission to show the college football world that the dynasty is alive and well and isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. And that’s exactly what they did, racking up an undefeated, 13-0 season and brought the title back to Tuscaloosa after a short two season hiatus. As long as legendary coach Nick Saban is at the helm and he keeps recruiting star players like Mac Jones, Najee Harris and DeVonta Smith, the Tide will continue to steamroll their opponents and acquire hardware for their distinguished trophy case.


USA Today Sports



SMITH GETS THE KEYS TO HEISMAN HOUSE


A large part of the reason why the Alabama Crimson Tide were so successful this season was because of two star players mentioned above who had magnificent campaigns. Starting quarterback Mac Jones looked like a skilled assassin behind center this season and certainly made a name for himself during his first year as a starter. His poise, accuracy, and leadership resulted in him being a Heisman finalist and guaranteed him an NFL career in years to come. In fact, the numbers Jones put up this year would normally be more than enough to take home the trophy for college football’s best player.


But then there was Devonta Smith. The senior wide-out played out of his mind and answered the call when his teammate Jaylen Waddle broke his ankle early in the season. His 1,800 receiving yards and 23 touchdowns made him the right recipient for the trophy. 1991 was the last season a wide receiver won the Heisman Trophy when Michigan’s Desmond Howard won the bronze beauty and only one other receiver before him had been crowned. It goes to show it doesn’t happen often that a skilled position wins the coveted award but Smith made it a no-brainer. DeVonta’s career has come full circle during his time in Tuscaloosa. He caught the overtime, national championship winning, reception as a freshman against Georgia and finished his decorated career with over 200 receiving yards in this year’s title game. His future is bright and I see this Heisman fraternity member obtaining many more accolades going forward.


Getty Images



THE LUCK OF THE IRISH


The Notre Dame Fighting Irish didn’t finish their 2020 season how they or Coach Brian Kelly would have liked, but wow did this team have a remarkable season. The Irish joined the ACC Conference this season due to COVID-19 and proved to all of their critics that they can hang with anyone, including a powerhouse like the Clemson Tigers. Back in November, the team from South Bend came out victorious in a thrilling double-overtime matchup with Dabo Swinney’s ball team. Although Trevor Lawrence did not suit up that game, it does not change the fact how dominant Clemson is as a whole team and the Irish went punch for punch with them throughout. Notre Dame has not been able to get over the hump in the college football playoffs thus far but I believe that will change soon. Add a couple more pieces, a little luck of the Irish, and they will be storming the field in a National Championship matchup in the near future.


USA Today Sports



PATTERSON POWER


Buffalo’s starting running back Jaret Patterson had the performance of a lifetime this season when his team played Kent State over Thanksgiving weekend. Patterson ran like his life depended on it and put up video game numbers against the Golden Flashes. He finished the day with eight..I repeat EIGHT rushing touchdowns and ran for over 400 rushing yards. In one single game…It was a performance that will go down in college football history forever. Patterson recently declared for the 2021 draft and some NFL franchise is going to be elated to have a back like him lining up in their backfield come next fall.



FULLER'S FOOT; A BIG STEP


This season was not only different because of the pandemic but also because a barrier was broken in college football athletics. Vanderbilt lost their starting kicker Ryley Guay this season due to a positive Covid test and needed a replacement to finish the season. In came Sarah Fuller, the starting goaltender for the Commodores women’s soccer team. Fuller made history by becoming the first female to both ever play and score for a Power 5 football team and there is only one word to sum up her story. Awesome. Kudos to Vandy’s head coach Derek Mason for allowing Fuller to live out her dream and giving her the opportunity of a lifetime. An amazing story and one of biggest feel-good moments of the year in college football.


Vanderbilt Athletics



NO OSU VS MICHIGAN


If you take a look at the greatest rivalries in sports, one that is always at the forefront is the annual matchup between the Michigan Wolverines vs. The Ohio State Buckeyes football teams. This year unfortunately, we didn’t get to see this legendary battle because of Covid. This year’s absence was the first time since 1917 the two teams have not faced up against one another in a season. That being said, next year’s game is guaranteed to be a hell of a matchup. Ohio State will be on the prowl and will be looking to extend their rivalry game win streak to 9 in 2021. On the other hand, coach Jim Harbaugh and the Blue and Yellow will look to turn it around in the rivalry’s 117th edition.


Getty Images



NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK


The 2020 college football season had some unforeseen programs rise to new heights throughout the year. Several teams finished in the top tier that no one would have imagined heading into the season. The four teams that come to mind were the Cincinnati Bearcats, Iowa State Cyclones, Northwestern Wildcats, and Indiana Hoosiers. At the beginning of the year in the pre-season rankings, the Bearcats had the highest ranking of these teams at No. 21 while the rest were unranked. They also finished the highest at No. 8. The three other programs however, did not finish far behind and found themselves all within the top 15 at the conclusion of the season. Iowa State ended their year at No. 9 and made it to the Big 12 Championship Game. Northwestern also reached their Conference Championship and finished at No. 10. The Hoosiers ended at No. 12 and would have had a higher ranking if they didn’t lose their star quarterback Michael Penix Jr. to injury. These four teams all have one thing in common which is a great head coach so expect them to continue their winning ways next year as well.


USA Today Sports / Marvin Gentry



JACKSON HE MAKES HISTORY


Another feel-good story coming out of college football this season was the one of Jackson He whose real name is He Peizhang. He is a walk-on running back at Arizona State University and gained national recognition this season when he donned his last name in Chinese on the back of his jersey. He did not know anything about football when he came to the United States and this year, he became the first Chinese born player to score a touchdown in FBS history.




JERRY’S WORLD OF ROSES


The Rose Bowl game is one of college football’s most prominent bowl games and is iconized due to all the legendary moments that have taken place there over the years. The stadium for the Rose Bowl resides in Pasadena, California and the game usually takes place there in January every year. This year however, the game was hosted in a different but notorious venue due to California’s Covid restrictions. This year’s semifinal matchup that would have occurred in California instead took place inside the state-of-the-art facility, AT&T Stadium in Dallas, Texas. AT&T Stadium happens to be home of the Dallas Cowboys and is often referred to as “Jerry’s World” after Cowboys owner and CEO Jerry Jones. The 2021 Rose Bowl game was the first since 1942 during WWII that the game did not take place in Pasadena.


Photo by HKS, Inc.



MORMONS VERSUS MULLETS


This game was one of the best matchups we got to witness all year and the best part about it is it was never even supposed to happen. The BYU Cougars traveled down to Conway, South Carolina late in the season to play the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers in a battle of the two unbeatens. Coastal was scheduled to play Liberty that week but Liberty had to withdraw due to Covid. As a result, the matchup with the Cougars came to fruition and it was a game for the ages. Coastal ended up pulling off the slight upset 22-17 and the game came down to the last play making it an instant classic. The game was later referred to as the “Mormons vs. Mullets Game” because of BYU’s affiliation with the LSD Church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) and Coastal having multiple players with a Mullet style haircut.


WPDE / Nicholas Papantonis



THE YEAR OF THE QUARTERBACK


The 2020 college football season included a plethora of spectacular plays from highly talented players throughout the NCAA FBS level. One position in particular, the most crucial in today’s game, had several standout athletes that are projected to be drafted early and be high caliber performers at the next level. College football fans got to see great quarterbacks all over the country slinging the ball and using their athleticism all season. Some of the most notable quarterbacks that are expected to enter the draft this April include: Trevor Lawrence (Clemson), Justin Fields (Ohio State), Kyle Trask (Florida), Zach Wilson (BYU), and Mac Jones (Alabama).


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