Alabama photo by Robert Sutton / Alabama's Najee Harris and his Crimson Tide teammates aren't getting to enjoy a 62-10 win over New Mexcico State like last year's squad.

Through the first four weeks of last football season, Alabama had collected 62-10 and 49-7 thumpings of New Mexico State and Southern Mississippi, while Georgia had 63-17 and 55-0 routs of Murray State and Arkansas State.

Those games don't exist this season due to the coronavirus-altered Southeastern Conference schedule consisting of 10 games against league opponents that are being accompanied by roster limitations each Saturday. In other words, emptying the benches with that six-touchdown lead against Directional State isn't occurring, which has resulted in more players not seeing action or even dressing out.

"I hate it for the development of the rest of your roster," Georgia coach Kirby Smart said this week. "When you talk across the league, that's the most frustrating thing for coaches. You've got kids who want to play, and it's tough to get them in with so many competitive environments. So where does that growth come from? You've got to sell their growth in practice and when they go against the ones on the scout team.

"There are not going to be a lot of opportunities to play a lot of guys."

Former North Murray standout Ladd McConkey is an example of a Bulldogs true freshman who has yet to play this season but likely would have last year in a 55-0 game.

Smart didn't know the exact numbers but readily admitted he hasn't been able to play near as many freshmen this season, and it's the same for Alabama's Nick Saban. The Crimson Tide rallied past Georgia in the national championship game of the 2017 season with the freshman likes of quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, running back Najee Harris, receiver DeVonta Smith and tackle Alex Leatherwood, and Alabama's true freshmen last year combined for a whopping 59 starts.

"Obviously there have been a lot of disruptions in this season, and we are excited and happy to have the opportunity to play and the opportunity for players to create value for themselves," Saban said Wednesday, "but not having spring practice or spending time in the summer with the players like we have in the past and not having a normal fall camp or a couple games where you can play younger players to get them some experience, that's really been absent.

"We've played four games, and we tried to play some guys for the first time at Missouri when we got a little bit ahead in the game, and it was not pretty, so we haven't had that chance."


The Florida Gators didn't play last week, and they're not playing this week.

In fact, the football offices are closed in Gainesville until Monday, and third-year coach Dan Mullen is having to stay away from his wife and kids while working remotely in his home. Mullen announced last weekend that he had tested positive for COVID-19.

"I get my bedroom, and I have an office off of my bedroom," Mullen said Wednesday. "I've kind of been in there the whole time. My wife had to move rooms, unfortunately for her, but they've stayed healthy and have had multiple negative tests so far. I've basically kind of isolated on my side of the house."

Florida is far from being out of the woods, with Mullen announcing Wednesday that another positive result emerged from Tuesday's testing.

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AP file photo by Butch Dill / Florida football coach Dan Mullen

Pasquali's Pix

Nebraska at Ohio State: Welcome back, Big Ten. In the six Nebraska-Ohio State meetings since the Cornhuskers joined the Big Ten, the Buckeyes have averaged 48.6 points. Buckeyes 55, Cornhuskers 16.

Auburn at Ole Miss: Tank Bigsby is the first Auburn freshman to post consecutive 100-yard rushing games against SEC foes since Michael Dyer in 2010, but that's where the comparisons pretty much end between this team and the national champs of a decade ago. Rebels 34, Tigers 31.

Alabama at Tennessee: Saban's 22-0 record against former assistants began in Knoxville with a 41-10 win over Derek Dooley's Volunteers in 2010. Crimson Tide 45, Vols 20.

Notre Dame at Pittsburgh: This is the 72nd meeting between the Fighting Irish and Panthers but the first that will affect the Atlantic Coast Conference standings. Irish 27, Panthers 19.

Georgia Tech at Boston College: These two ACC members haven't played each other in the United States since 2012, with their 2016 opener occurring in Dublin, Ireland. Eagles 28, Yellow Jackets 26.

UTC at Western Kentucky: The Mocs have never produced an undefeated autumn but have that opportunity Saturday. Hilltoppers 31, Mocs 16.

Kentucky at Missouri: The Wildcats have whipped Mississippi State and Tennessee the past two weeks by the combined score of 58-9, the fewest points they have allowed in consecutive SEC games in 44 years. Wildcats 24, Tigers 15.

South Carolina at LSU: The Tigers have never lost consecutive games under Ed Orgeron but may have to ride a true freshman at quarterback. Tigers 30, Gamecocks 27.

Other picks:

FIU 35, Jacksonville State 22

Wisconsin 38, Illinois 21

Clemson 66, Syracuse 9

North Carolina 42, N.C. State 35

Kansas State 49, Kansas 16

Army 41, Mercer 18

Oklahoma 30, TCU 27

Memphis 27, Temple 10

Charlotte 33, UTEP 24

Florida State 24, Louisville 23

Michigan State 45, Rutgers 6

Penn State 31, Indiana 28

Virginia Tech 17, Wake Forest 14

MTSU 23, Rice 20

Texas 34, Baylor 19

Michigan 32, Minnesota 31

Miami 20, Virginia 13

Last week:

Winners — 11

Pick-sixes — 9

Pasquali is now 63-26 overall (70.8%) this season.

Contact David Paschall at or 423-757-6524. Follow him on Twitter @DavidSPaschall.