College football gets their big games going this week with the New Year’s Six Bowl games and the College Football Playoff semifinals. A few teams have seen players ruled out while others are making headlines off the field before kickoff.
Gators Shorthanded Against Sooners
The Florida Gators will head to the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic on Wednesday without their top four pass-catchers on the season. Tight end Kyle Pitts already announced he was skipping the game to prepare for the NFL draft. On Monday, wide receivers Kadarius Toney and Trevon Grimes made the same announcement, while wide receiver Jacob Copeland was ruled out after a positive COVID-19 test.
Toney led the Gators with 70 catches for 984 yards and ten touchdowns this season. Grimes ranked third on the team in each category with 38 catches for 589 yards and ten scores.
Pitts was named to the AP All-American team on Monday after hauling in 43 passes for 770 yards and 12 touchdowns. Copeland caught 23 balls on the season for 435 yards and three scores.
Heisman finalist Kyle Trask is still expected to play, and he was named to the AP All-American second team at quarterback on Monday. On the season, he has 4,125 yards to go with a school-record 43 touchdowns. The Gators were favored against Oklahoma but are now 2.5 point underdogs for the game in Arlington, Texas.
Alabama Boasts Most on All-America Team
As they prepared to face Notre Dame in Friday’s Rose Bowl in Arlington, Texas, the Alabama Crimson Tide placed six on the Associated Press All-America team on Monday.
Heisman Trophy finalists Mac Jones and Devonta Smith are joined by running back Najee Harris, tackle Alex Leatherwood, center Landon Dickerson and cornerback Patrick Surtain II on the first team.
The top-ranked Tide are the first team since 1980 to have a quarterback, a running back, and a wide receiver on the first team. Alabama is favored by 17.5 points against Notre Dame in the January 1 semifinal game.
The Fighting Irish put guard Aaron Banks and linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah on the first team. Clemson put running back Travis Etienne on the first team as an all-purpose player, and Ohio State had guard Wyatt Davis as a repeat selection from 2019 along with cornerback Shaun Wade.
Clemson Coach Doubles Down on Ohio State Ranking
Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney made news last week when it was revealed he ranked Ohio State No. 11 in his final ballot for the USA Today/Amway Coaches Poll. The No. 2 Tigers are favored by 7.5 points against the No. 3 Buckeyes on Friday night in the Allstate Sugar Bowl.
Swinney stood by his decision on Monday, saying he felt that Ohio State shouldn’t be ranked above teams that played nine or more games while the Buckeyes played just six. He pointed out that Florida, Georgia, Oklahoma, Texas A&M, and Cincinnati got punished for playing more games and risking losses while Ohio State and other Big Ten teams did not.
Last season in the College Football Playoffs semifinal, Clemson fell behind Ohio State 16-0 before rallying to win on a Trevor Lawrence to Travis Etienne touchdown pass with 1:49 to play. Clemson eventually lost to LSU in the National Championship Game, and Swinney’s ranking will undoubtedly be on Ohio State’s bulletin board this week leading up to the rematch.