Tusk to Tail: Who survives weird schedules and COVID to make the college football playoffs?

Now that all Power 5 conference teams have begun play, who do you think will make this year’s college football playoffs?

Todd Rudisill: Alabama, Clemson, Notre Dame, and Ohio State. Look for Clemson to beat the Irish in the ACC title game with Trevor Lawrence back at the helm. If the Irish win out but lose to Clemson, they may get in with 1 loss. The only upset that could happen is when Notre Dame plays at UNC later in November. If Bama loses to Florida in SEC title game, you could possibly see Bama and Florida getting in and taking a spot from the Irish if they get blown out by Clemson. Who knows? It’s 2020 and anything can happen over these last 6 weeks.

David Rice: Would an undefeated Pac 12 Champion make the playoffs over teams with a loss? I think so, so let’s pencil in either Oregon or USC. Ohio State should also remain undefeated, as will Alabama. The fourth spot should then go to Clemson or Notre Dame, whoever wins the rematch.

Arkansas @ #6 Florida
Todd Rudisill: Thank god it’s Masters week. With half the SEC slate getting cancelled due to COVID-19, it’s nice to have the best golf tournament in November for hopefully the first and last time. The Hogs and Gators are the best matchup in the country this week. There are so many storylines for this game. Felipe Franks returns to his old stomping grounds. Pittman is out, so what will it be like without the Head Hog this week? It’s nice to look down the sideline and see former SEC head coach Barry Odom ready to step in. Gator quarterback Kyle Trask is the Joe Burrow for this season, throwing 4 TD passes in each of his last five games for the first time in SEC history. Look for Florida to not be fired up early for this game coming off their annual war against rival Georgia. The Hogs’ defense will keep them in it for most of the game. If their offense can be more efficient, Arkansas can pull off the upset. There can’t be a first half shutout again and have any chance to win. The Gators wake up in 2nd half and do just enough. Hogs do what they have done every game thus far: Cover. 37-24 Florida.

David Rice: I love what Pittman is building at Arkansas, but road wins never come easy in the SEC. Despite the Razorbacks’ improvement on defense, it may not be enough in this one. This could be the first time Arkansas fails to cover the point spread this season, losing 38-20.

South Carolina @ Ole Miss
David Rice: In the barren hellscape of cancelled college football games, this game still looks like a dud. Ole Miss wins bigly.

Todd Rudisill: How is Will Muschamp still the coach at SC? Gamecock fans have overtaken Arkansas fans as the most frustrated in the SEC this season. Carolina is coming off two straight blowout losses to LSU and Texas A&M. Those two came after their traditional annual upset (usually against Georgia) but this year against Auburn. The Rebels lead the SEC in rushing, which is not something I can recall ever seeing. USC has given up 200-plus in rushing the last two games. Throw in the Black Bears shiny passing game and you have another Gamecock loss. LandSharks win 40-28.

#13 Wisconsin @ Michigan
Todd Rudisill: Speaking of frustrated fans, the most frustrated fans in the country have to be Michigan fans. How overrated is Jim Harbaugh? He lost to Indiana last week. The Wolverines are already 1-2 and haven’t even got their annual loss to Ohio State on the tally yet. It’s not going to get any better this week against the Badgers. Wisconsin will control the time of possession and its offense will gut Michigan through the air and on the ground. Wisky takes it 33-20.

#11 Oregon @ Washington State
David Rice: The Ducks could be waddling into a trap game at Pullman Saturday, but I think they have the firepower to avoid the upset. Oregon 31, WSU 17.

#9 Miami @ Virginia Tech
David Rice: Miami quarterback D’eriq King has been unstoppable, but Virginia Tech is actually favored in this game at home. Those oddsmakers usually know what they are talking about. Miami 27, Virginia Tech 31

#2 Notre Dame @ Boston College
David Rice: I wouldn’t mind seeing Notre Dame choke after beating tip-ranked Clemson last week. Don’t hold your breath, though. The Irish win an ugly defensive contest 20-10.

Editor’s note: Now in its ninth year, Tusk to Tail is the sport of tailgating as organized, performed and perfected by a group of Hog fans who have been tailgating together sober and otherwise for more than a decade. The primary focus of Tusk to Tail will be to follow the Hogs through the fans’ perspective with their insightful, irreverent, smart-alecky and sometimes practical style. The diehards may also be followed on their Facebook page. Or follow the crew on Twitter and Instagram, all @TuskToTail.

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