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Mississippi State over LSU in Baton Rouge, college football's upset of the year (so far). Photo by Hilary Scheinuk

College Football: Looks Like We’re in For a Wild Ride

College football is going to feature a March Madness-level of chaos this season, which is good.

What a day yesterday was for college football. #6 LSU lost at home to an unranked Mississippi State team after Mike Leach’s Air Raid offense dropped roughly 2,000 passing yards on their heads. #3 Oklahoma lost to an unranked Kansas State, also at home. The Wildcats have made a habit of this kind of thing; they beat the Sooners last year and lost a hard-fought 42-35 game in 2018. It took a 4th quarter comeback and the ensuing overtime for #8 Texas to escape an unranked Texas Tech.

Three top-ten teams either lost or struggled mightily against their unranked opponents. I expect to see much more of this sort of thing in the 2020 college football season, which is fun.

Crowds Make a Difference

The Big House, a cathedral of college football. Photo from annarbor.com
The Big House, a cathedral of college football. Photo from annarbor.com

There is no denying the impact of crowds. We’ve had a few months’ worth of crowd-less sports now, and it is pretty obvious they play a role in the outcome of the game. That influence might be more pronounced in college football, meaning the elimination of that variable throws things into an even bigger flux.

Granted, some stadiums have had moderately-sized attendance figures. But a crowd of 10,000 masked and socially-distanced fans compared to a crowd of 100,000 screaming ones does not really produce the same effect. That kind of thing greatly influences 18- to 22-year-old kids, whether the deafening cheers are for them or against them. Get rid of that factor and, well, that contributes to three top-ten teams struggling against unranked opponents.

Preparation During COVID

I think it’s fair to say teams went through different levels of preparation leading up to the 2020 college football season. From state regulations, to NCAA rulings, to personal matters related to COVID-19, every team had to deal with its own set of issues before week 1. This also plays a role in the chaos we’ve witnessed so far.

Was Kansas State more prepared that Oklahoma? Were Mississippi State’s heads and hearts in the game more so than LSU’s? These are fair questions in this unprecedented season. It’s hard to make up for an entire offseason’s worth of prep after the opening kickoff; if a team didn’t have an easy go of it due to COVID-related issues this summer, they just might not be very good this season.

Chaos is Good

The Wildcats are agents of chaos in college football. Photo by Kevin Jairaj, USA TODAY Sports
The Wildcats are agents of chaos in college football. Photo by Kevin Jairaj, USA TODAY Sports

This season was always gonna be janky. Such is the reality of sports until things go back to normal, or until we simply adjust to the new normal. Insane upsets week after week are good, nay, great for a 2020 college football season that was destined to struggle producing as much excitement as past seasons.

Be prepared for stunning victories and defeats every week. This type of thing is the reason we love March Madness, right? Well, get ready for the same type of chaos on the college gridiron.

The 2020 college football season will be like no other.