Why some SEC football teams should embrace a COVID forfeit rather than play Alabama

Blake Toppmeyer John Adams
USA TODAY NETWORK

The SEC has provided its members with the perfect cop-out to suffering a beatdown at the hands of No. 1 Alabama.

Claim a COVID-19 forfeit.

On Monday, the SEC announced that teams will be assessed a forfeit loss if they are unable to compete in a game this season because of roster limitations brought on by positive COVID-19 tests or quarantines.

Perfect.

On this edition of “SEC Football Unfiltered,” USA TODAY Network hosts Blake Toppmeyer and John Adams embrace using the COVID forfeit as a strategic move.

No need for Tennessee to bother with an annual Third Saturday in October bludgeoning.

The Vols have lost 14 straight in their series against Alabama, with each of the last five losses coming by at least 22 points. Why suffer a blowout loss to the Crimson Tide this year? Just use the get-out-of-jail-free card known as the COVID forfeit.

Sure, it counts as a loss on the record, but at least it’s not a 48-17 whipping like last season.

Plus, by deploying the forfeit and skipping the Alabama game, the Vols would gain an extra week of preparation for their Nov. 6 game against Kentucky. The game against the Wildcats could make or break whether the Vols qualify for a bowl. Better off healing up and preparing for Kentucky come mid-October than worry about Alabama.

And it’s not just the Vols who should use the COVID forfeit.

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Mississippi State need not bother with its Oct. 16 game against Alabama. Embrace the forfeit and prepare for the closing six-game stretch against Vanderbilt, Kentucky, Arkansas, Auburn, Tennessee State and Ole Miss. The Bulldogs should have a chance to win each of those six games, and their season will be defined by how they fare during that stretch, not by a lopsided loss to Alabama.

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Arkansas could use a COVID forfeit, too, skipping its Nov. 20 game against the Crimson Tide to prepare for its rivalry game the following week against Missouri.

Vanderbilt doesn't play Alabama this season, but that shouldn't keep the Commodores from pulling the COVID forfeit card from the deck. Go ahead and skip games against Florida and Georgia. The Commodores used this move last year, canceling its game against Georgia after droves of Vanderbilt players quit the season. Back then, it was known as a “no contest,” but why let semantics get in the way?

Also on this installment of “SEC Football Unfiltered,” Toppmeyer and Adams debate whether Alabama, LSU or Ole Miss is most susceptible to an upset defeat in Week 1, and they discuss whether Georgia could claim a moral victory with a close loss to Clemson.

Adams says no: It’s win-or-bust for the Bulldogs.

Blake Toppmeyer is an SEC Columnist for the USA TODAY Network. John Adams is a senior columnist for the Knoxville News Sentinel. If you enjoy their coverage, consider a digital subscription that will allow you access to all of it. You can also subscribe to their podcast, SEC Football Unfiltered. They also host a podcast focused on Tennessee football, The Volunteer State.