In another bit of what this space believes is governmental overreach, the City of Philadelphia announced Wednesday that four streets will be blocked off on Eagles’ Game Day so that fans cannot tailgate around Lincoln Financial Field.
No announcement was made about Temple, but they probably don’t feel the need to do so when it comes to the Owls. In other words, don’t expect to tailgate.
For a couple of weeks I was thinking about how this season will be different from all the rest and came up with five (out of about 100) off the top of my head:
5. Above-mentioned tailgating
All over in the first couple weeks of the season, we’ve seen places where people have been allowed at the games. Mostly, there’s been spacing with appropriate mask-wearing. The few shots of tailgating we’ve seen have shown the same. Not in Philadelphia, though. There won’t be fans or tailgating in Philadelphia this fall. Sad, because what worked at grocery stores and gas stations–appropriate social distancing and masks–can work at games and pre-games as well. Maybe next year.
4. Interesting non-conference matchups
So rare almost to be non-existent, a nugget will show up on the screen this weekend–UCF at Georgia Tech. Almost all of the conferences will be like the Big 10 this season, games almost exclusively against conference opponents. It’s a shame because I think Temple would have put a huge beatdown on Rutgers and the Owls even opened at a 12.5-point favorite on VegasInsiders.com this week (don’t know why VegasInsiders even listed the game because it’s non-existent) but the UCF at Georgia Tech probably will be one of the five best non-conference games this year. UCF is an 8.5-point favorite, but I would stay away from this game due to 10 UCF players opting out and uncertainty over whether GT’s win at FSU was due to GT being impressive or Mike Norvell facing unique first-year challenges.
3. Power 5 Dominance of Playoffs
The Power 5 might grab its usual four spots in the Final Four but, if there is one year the G5 can break through, it’s this one. How so? Say, UCF wins at Georgia Tech, goes unbeaten, and GT finishes no worse than second to Clemson in the ACC. It would be hard to deny Central Florida under that scenario, particularly if there are only two other unbeaten teams. Still, would prefer Temple to go unbeaten and UCF have that one loss but, if the Owls aren’t the team, Owl fans certainly would root for UCF in that scenario. Sadly, since the Owls did not seek out a P5 opponent (Pitt?) due to city practice restrictions, there is virtually no chance an unbeaten Temple team makes the playoffs.
In the early part of September, P5 teams like to schedule so-called cupcake games for tuneups prior to the conference season. The Big 12 thought it had three against the Sun Belt when Kansas hosted Coastal Carolina, Kansas State hosted Arkansas State and Iowa State hosted Louisiana. Those turned out to be tuneups for the Sun Belt, which now at least has a compelling argument it is the best G5 conference. At least this year.
Asterisks in sports are always annoying but this will be the year of the asterisk. With eight games, it’s going to be hard to get a 1,000-yard rusher or a 20-touchdown passer. Doubtful any team season records will be broken this year. Say, though, with eight games instead of 12, Anthony Russo throws for more than 21 touchdown passes and fewer than the 11 interceptions he threw last year. That’s a pretty impressive accomplishment. Harder, though, for Ray Davis to hit 1,000 yards in eight games if he could get 900 yards last year in a dozen. Still think he can do it but the bar gets higher. To me, Babe Ruth’s 60 homers in a 154-game season will always be more impressive than Roger Maris’ 61 in 162 games and that’s the prism we will view these 2020 football stats as well.
Monday: All Systems Go