NCAA Football

ESPN 30 for 30 'Gospel According to Mac': TV Schedule and Documentary Preview

The Colorado Buffaloes haven't been relevant in college football for over a decade, but fans can enjoy happier times during the upcoming 30 for 30 documentary The Gospel According to Mac, which airs Wednesday night at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN.

The focus of director Jim Podhoretz is Bill McCartney, the most successful coach in Colorado history. In 13 years under McCartney, the Buffaloes won 93 games and captured their only national title, which came in the 1990 season. Kordell Stewart, Michael Westbrook, Eric Bieniemy, Alfred Williams and Jay Leeuwenburg are among his former players who went on to NFL careers.

Listening to how McCartney transformed Colorado from an also-ran into a national powerhouse for a short time will be compelling on its own. This clip offers a brief glimpse into how McCartney's charisma and determination worked wonders on the recruiting trail, per ESPN Films 30 for 30:

Of course, Colorado's on-field success will only be part of the story.

A February 1989 article by Rick Reilly for Sports Illustrated documented the number of legal issues plaguing the Buffaloes in the late 1980s, which he went so far as to call a "crime wave." By Reilly's count, more than 24 of McCartney's players were arrested between 1986 and early 1989 alone.

But in the article, Theo Gregory, then an academic coordinator for the Colorado athletic department, discussed some of the socioeconomic and racial factors at play in Boulder, Colorado—factors that still resonate today across the country:

If you're a black football player here, you're ethnically a minority because you're black, socially a minority because you're an athlete, culturally a minority because you might come from the projects, economically a minority because you can't afford to drive a BMW and physically a minority because you're bigger than everybody else. Somebody racially slurs you, and you might have a tendency to overreact.

Colorado wasn't the first, nor will it be the last to bend NCAA rules and/or see its players break the law en route to glory on the field. In fact, that aspect of the documentary won't be altogether dissimilar from previous 30 for 30 documentaries Pony Excess and The U, which focused on SMU and Miami's football programs, respectively.

What will set The Gospel According to Mac apart from other 30 for 30 entries is the focus on McCartney's personal and family life.

In 1988, McCartney's daughter became pregnant by Sal Aunese, who was then the Buffaloes' starting quarterback. Kristy McCartney gave birth to the child in April 1989, five months before Aunese died of stomach cancer.

Near the end of his coaching career and in retirement, McCartney's involvement with Operation Rescue and the Promise Keepers has also become extremely polarizing. Operation Rescue is a staunch anti-abortion Christian organization, while the Promise Keepers, founded by McCartney in 1990, looks to "ignite and unite men to become warriors who will change their world," according to its website.

Johnette Howard also recounted in an October 1994 piece for the Washington Post the extent to which McCartney proselytized an anti-gay lifestyle:

McCartney irks non-Christians by speaking of restoring America to Jesus. He's spoken to Operation Rescue members and other anti-abortion groups. He's called gays "stark raving mad" and undeserving of the same legal rights as "people who reproduce." At a 1992 news conference he conducted at a university lectern while wearing a Colorado emblem on his shirt, he also called gays "an abomination against Almighty God" and confirmed he'd joined Colorado for Family Values, a group that supported Amendment 2, the so-called "anti-gay rights" measure recently struck down by the Colorado supreme court.

In December 1992, Adam Teicher described in the Kansas City Star (via the Chicago Tribune) that handbills made the rounds on the Colorado campus depicting McCartney and Adolf Hitler side by side, such was the anger toward the coach:

The depth of hostility toward McCartney has little to do with football. The coach, a devout evangelical Christian, has been charged by critics with using the power of his position to further his beliefs and whip up an atmosphere of religious intolerance.

[...]

University President Judith Albino has received about 2,000 phone calls by office tally and about 600 letters on McCartney, more than on any other subject. They have been split between canonizing him and firing him.

In December 2014, Michael Weinreb caught up with McCartney for an article on Grantland. According to Weinreb, McCartney had toned down his role in the Promise Keepers. However, he maintained his stances regarding marriage and homosexuality.

Whether you agree with McCartney's views or not, rarely do you see a head coach at a major college so publicly committed to his religious beliefs. Imagine seeing one of today's top coaches compared to Hitler as a result of his devotion to a certain cause.

McCartney is undoubtedly a controversial figure, making The Gospel According to Mac a highly anticipated addition to the 30 for 30 series.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Bowl Projections 2015: Latest CFP Predictions Before 1st Rankings Reveal

A lot will change as the season progresses, but the first look at the College Football Playoff rankings will be telling.  

With a high number of undefeated teams heading into November, the selection committee will have to take a deeper look at resumes for all involved. Teams like Iowa and Oklahoma State, who haven't gotten much respect in polls, could end up higher in the minds of these voters. The same could be said for one-loss teams with obvious talent, such as Alabama, Stanford and Notre Dame.

While the next couple of months should settle some of the debates—like Baylor vs. TCU, Ohio State vs. Michigan State and so on—here is a look at predictions for the top four teams in the first CFP poll of the year. These are not guesses for how the semifinals will look in January but instead what would happen if the season ended today.

 

1. Clemson

It is important to avoid a letdown, but Clemson has done everything expected of it so far this season.

Sophomore quarterback DeShaun Watson has been excellent this season as both a passer and a runner, currently ranking second in the country in total QBR behind only Trevone Boykin. The entire team is showcasing a lot of balance, and it is seemingly getting better as the year progresses.

Brian Fremeau of Football Outsiders calculated Clemson as No. 1 in FEI, which accounts for drive efficiency based on opponent and game flow:

Notre Dame is No. 2 on the FEI list, Top 10 in most polls and still in consideration for the playoffs. Clemson beat the Fighting Irish head-to-head, giving the Tigers arguably the best single win of any of the contenders at the moment.

Amazingly, the toughest game left on the schedule is likely this week against Florida State. Then again, the spread indicates it might not even be that close, with Clemson opening as a 12-point favorite, according to Odds Shark.

There might be teams with better history, but Clemson has been the most impressive team in the nation this season.

 

2. LSU

Things could certainly change after this week with LSU going on the road to face Alabama. However, there is no denying the Tigers have been one of the top teams in college football so far this season.

The offense starts with running back Leonard Fournette, who leads the country with 1,352 rushing yards and is likely a favorite for the Heisman Trophy. Alabama coach Nick Saban praised his upcoming opponent, per NOLA.com's Jerit Roser:

Fournette's running has helped LSU earn great wins over Florida and Mississippi State as well as dominant showings against disappointing teams like Auburn and South Carolina. The SEC certainly isn't as deep as it has been in recent years, but staying undefeated is still noteworthy in this conference.

Things will obviously get tougher for the Tigers going forward—not only with a battle against Alabama, but also with matchups against Ole Miss and Texas A&M. If they survive this gauntlet, they will have to also win the SEC Championship Game. At the moment, however, the resume is good enough to be considered one of the best teams in the nation.

 

3. Ohio State

The big story over the past week is J.T. Barrett's suspension after his arrest Saturday, which left Cardale Jones to regain a starting spot at quarterback. What hasn't been discussed quite as much is how well the Buckeyes have played as a team in recent weeks.

After a few close calls earlier in the year, Ohio State dominated a solid Penn State team and easily cruised to victory against Rutgers. No matter who is under center, the offense will be fine with playmakers like Ezekiel Elliott and Braxton Miller. The defense also still has the great defensive line that helped shut down Oregon in last season's title game.

Although any accomplishments from 2014 shouldn't be considered in rankings for 2015, the talent absolutely can't be ignored.

A weak schedule to this point could push Ohio State out of the No. 1 spot in the rankings, but it should be safely in the playoff field based on what it has done to this point. Games against Michigan, Michigan State and potentially Iowa would be tough challenges, but the Buckeyes should be up to the task.

 

4. Baylor

This isn't any form of anti-Big 12 bias, but instead the backloaded schedule for both Baylor and TCU. Both contenders still have to face Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and each other. If one of them makes it out undefeated, there is no question it should be in the playoffs.

The problem to this point is both teams have done little besides beating up on weaker opponents.

That said, Baylor has done a better job this year in the role of bully. The Bears have the No. 1 offense in the nation at 61 points per game and had an easier time with SMU and Texas Tech than TCU. Neither team had much trouble against either West Virginia or Iowa State.

The issue going forward is whether Baylor will be able to stay as strong without starting quarterback Seth Russell. The junior is out for the season with a neck injury, although the coaching staff is confident in backup Jarrett Stidham, per ESPN's Joe Schad:

Baylor could drop if the offense struggles, but for now there is no reason to punish a team for what might happen.

 

Follow Rob Goldberg on Twitter for year-round sports analysis. 

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Kansas vs. Texas Complete Game Preview

Hoping to erase the memory of another bad loss, the Texas Longhorns get the Kansas Jayhawks at home in Week 10.

Just when it looked like the Longhorns had figured it out, they go and let Iowa State manhandle them. The Cyclones shut out Charlie Strong's team by a 24-0 margin, marking the first time since 1961 that the Horns dropped a goose egg against an unranked opponent.

Texas' issues were wide-ranging, but the eyes are back on the quarterback position. Jerrod Heard and Tyrone Swoopes combined for just 85 passing yards on 22 attempts, which wouldn't even be considered an efficient day for a running back.

According to the Longhorn Network, Heard will get the start again in a great spot. The Kansas Jayhawks, his Week 10 opponent, are 0-8 and rank near the bottom of the Big 12 in almost every statistical category. Following its 62-7 plastering at the hands of Oklahoma, David Beaty's squad is just trying to play with pride every week. 

Date: Saturday, November 7

Time: 8 p.m. ET

Location: Royal Memorial Stadium; Austin, Texas

TV: Longhorn Network

Line: Texas -29, according to Odds Shark

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Virginia Tech Football: What Hokies Must Fix During Bye Week

Two big things happened with the Virginia Tech Hokies football team last week. First, the Hokies actually won a football game. Second—and most importantly—legendary head coach Frank Beamer announced his retirement on Sunday after 29 years in charge at his alma mater.

Tech, now at 4-5 (2-3) on the season, hopes to become bowl eligible for the 23rd consecutive season in order to send Beamer out on a winning note.

For the Hokies to get back to a bowl, some things need to be fixed during the team's current bye week. 

Here are four areas Virginia Tech must improve in order to finish the season strong and make sure Beamer goes out the way he deserves—as a winner.  

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N'keal Harry to Arizona State: Sun Devils Land 4-Star WR Prospect

The Arizona State Sun Devils just acquired a brand-new target, one their quarterbacks will certainly be happy about throwing to. 

Wide receiver N'keal Harry out of Chandler, Arizona, announced Monday he's joining up with head coach Todd Graham's team next season, per Ralph Amsden of ArizonaVarsity.com:

Devils Digest provided a few comments from Harry's announcement:

The 4-star recruit is the top-rated prospect coming out of the state of Arizona, according to 247Sports' composite rankings. He also is the 16th-best wide receiver in the nation and 99th among all class-of-2016 products in the country. 

In his junior year, Harry recorded 30 receptions for 657 yards and 13 touchdowns in 13 games, according to Rivals. At times, it looks like the ball is glued to his hands, as Harry's making this one-handed grab in Baltimore shows, per C-TownRivals:

At 6'4", 210 pounds, Harry is an exceptional route-runner with enough agility to use in order to lose his defender. With solid speed, he can also outrun the secondary when it comes to those long go routes. While watching him play, one can see him blow by countless defenders. You can watch some of his highlights courtesy of Hudl.

Harry also put in a great performance at the Rivals Camp Series in Las Vegas. 247Sports showed the outing that helped put the wide receiver on the map:

He is not going to be able to simply outrun Division I talent, and his defenders will not always be smaller than him—like they might have been in high school. Harry will have to perfect his game in the air, working on body control to go up and win those aerial battles, but he will have plenty of time to hone his craft in what can become a standout stint in the NCAA.   

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

N'keal Harry to Arizona State: Sun Devils Land 4-Star WR Prospect

The Arizona State Sun Devils just acquired a brand-new target, one their quarterbacks will certainly be happy about throwing to...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

Florida State Football: Who Should the Seminoles Start at QB vs. Clemson?

Just when it appeared that Florida State's quarterback situation was completely settled, last week reignited some more drama in Tallahassee.

Florida State bounced back from its heartbreaking loss at Georgia Tech on Saturday with a 45-21 trouncing of Syracuse at home. The Seminoles had one of their best offensive performances of the season against the Orange, but their usual starter at quarterback wasn't the one leading the way.

With Notre Dame transfer Everett Golson sitting out due to a concussion suffered against Georgia Tech, backup Sean Maguire started under center and threw for 348 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions.

Maguire's great performance against Syracuse opened up speculation that he might be in line for another start in No. 17 Florida State's biggest game of the season—this Saturday night's visit to No. 3 Clemson.

An upset away from home would put FSU in control of the ACC Atlantic Division and on the path to another conference title.

Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher isn't giving any indication of who will start at quarterback against Clemson, and he won't do so until he gets a clearer picture of Golson's injury status.

"I'm always re-evaluating things," Fisher said, per Brendan Sonnone of the Orlando Sentinel. "I told you we had two good quarterbacks. I said it before. We have two guys that can play and win. Everett's health, [we've] still got to get that and see where things are. We'll go from there."

But even if Golson, who cleared concussion protocol last week but sat out due to dizziness, is healthy enough to start, is he still the right call for Fisher?

Golson hasn't necessarily done anything to lose the No. 1 quarterback label. He's completed 67 percent of his passes this season, and his lone interception on the year came on a circus catch in the end zone from Georgia Tech's Jamal Golden. 

Prior to the Georgia Tech loss, Golson had thrown for 11 touchdowns and zero interceptions, seemingly erasing any of the turnover-prone ways he had as Notre Dame's starting quarterback.

He completed a season-high 75.8 percent of his passes in a win over Miami and recorded 372 yards and three scores against Louisville.

"[Golson] took care of the football, made the plays when they were there, but he threw the ball away when they weren't," Fisher said after the win over Louisville, per Tom D'Angelo of the Palm Beach Post. "The kid knows how to [manage] tough situations, scenarios."

However, Golson's progression in an offensive system tweaked to fit his strengths came to a screeching halt against Georgia Tech.

The Yellow Jackets took away some of the areas Golson was able to exploit in previous matchups, and the entire offense only scored one touchdown—and that was on a drive that started at the Georgia Tech 2-yard line.

The Florida State offense looked completely different in its next matchup, though, with Maguire at the helm.

Golson wasn't the only notable absence for the unit, as star running back Dalvin Cook and two starters on the offensive line missed the game due to injuries.

But Maguire still had a huge day with the rest of the Seminoles against Syracuse, showcasing a part of the offense that has been missing for the most part with Golson—big passes downfield.

According to Jared Shanker of ESPN.com, Maguire threw the ball for chunk yardage a lot more than Golson has been able to do in his previous seven games for Florida State:

Maguire averaged 9.74 'air yards' per attempt, meaning his throws traveled almost 10 yards in the air before reaching the intended target. Golson has a 6.76 average, but it was only 5.24 over the last three games. Georgia Tech [ranks] 86th in 20-yard completions allowed.

Maguire attempted a higher percentage of passes downfield Saturday than Golson has this season. Saturday, 37.1 percent of Maguire’s throws were 10-plus yards downfield, 25.7 were at least 15 yards and 17.1 traveled 20 or more. Golson’s percentages are 28.0, 19.3 and 10.1, respectively.

So far this season, Florida State has completed 10 passes of 30 or more yards. Golson had seven of them in seven starts. Maguire had three of them in one start.

While Syracuse has the nation's 106th-ranked pass defense, Maguire did more downfield damage to an ACC opponent in a spot start than Golson had against any opponent in 2015.

Syracuse defensive coordinator Chuck Bullough even said after Saturday's game that he would have rather faced Golson than Maguire because of what the latter could do at the line of scrimmage.

"Honestly, I would've liked to see Golson," Bullough said, per Nate Mink of Syracuse.com. "Because Golson doesn't check. [Maguire] is smart. This guy has a hell of an arm. Golson's thing is running around, and we had to gameplan for that."

Maguire's strong arm and Fisher's confidence in opening up the playbook with him—the Seminoles lined up in more four- and five-receiver sets against Syracuse than they had done previously with Golson—could be the key to springing an upset against a tough Clemson defense.

The opponents that have played the closest against undefeated Clemson this season have all been able to hit the Tigers downfield for big gains:

Golson might have an advantage in playing in more big-time road games during his collegiate career, but Maguire's only other start prior to the Syracuse game was a 23-17 overtime win against none other than Clemson.

As Sonnone wrote Monday, Maguire didn't have the most consistent performance in place of then-quarterback Jameis Winston against Clemson's No. 1 overall defense, but he still "delivered a key 74-yard touchdown pass to Rashad Greene in the fourth quarter of FSU’s 23-17 overtime victory."

Maguire flashed that same big-play passing ability and control of Fisher's offense in his second start at Doak Campbell Stadium. Doing that against a much tougher defense on the road would be a much bigger challenge, but Maguire looked like the man for the job on Saturday.

According to Shanker, Maguire's teammates have said that the junior quarterback has prepared for every game like he was the starter since losing the job to Golson in the offseason.

Last Saturday, he got that chance.

Now the question is if he'll get to do it again on a much bigger stage or if Fisher will go back to the quarterback who won the job in fall camp.

His decision between the hot hand and the steady starter could have a huge impact on where the Seminoles finish the 2015 season—and how many trophies they'll add to their case.

 

Justin Ferguson is a college football writer at Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @JFergusonBR.

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Legendary Georgia QBs Assess Current State of Bulldog Nation, Mark Richt's Job

You could sense the wave of criticism coming as Georgia was busy getting blown out 27-3 by Florida in the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party on Saturday, and now Bulldogs head coach Mark Richt is in the media's crosshairs.

The calls for his job have come from far and wide, and now the Bulldogs have to find a way to turn the season around during the final month of the season against Kentucky, Auburn, Georgia Southern and Georgia Tech. 

But where does the program really stand? 

It has been a recruiting machine under Richt, but the results don't necessarily reflect the talent that has flowed through Athens. Richt hasn't won the SEC in a decade and has missed out on the SEC Championship Game in each of the last three seasons.

"It's an area that's unfamiliar to me and an area that's unfamiliar to a lot of guys who were there when I was there," former quarterback D.J. Shockley (2002-2005) told Bleacher Report. "The program's in a position where they're not winning the games that they're supposed to and not getting the respect around the country that we're used to."

That futility has led the program into uncharted waters, according to FoxSports.com's Bruce Feldman.

While making a change at head coach might seem like it's the popular answer after the Cocktail Party debacle, that doesn't necessarily mean it's the right answer.

"I just don't think Coach Richt is the issue. I know people want to see him more 'fiery' and be like Nick Saban or other guys who go at other's throats," Shockley continued. "Coach Richt has that side of him, but people want more. I understand the frustration. I get frustrated as well. We want to compete on the national level every single year."

Richt has a 141-51 career record and two SEC titles to his credit, and he has led the Bulldogs to all five of their SEC Championship Game appearances—most recently in 2012, where they were one tipped pass away from earning a berth in the BCS Championship Game.

"It's not like he just forgot how to coach football," former quarterback David Greene (2000-2004) told Bleacher Report. "He's been an excellent coach his whole career."

The biggest problem for the Bulldogs has been on offense, where they've been held without a touchdown for eight full quarters. Their last offensive touchdown came in the fourth quarter of their 38-31 loss to Tennessee—a game in which they lost a 21-point lead.

"Unfortunately, it's not just one thing," Greene said. "Offensively, right now it's very stale. There's a lot of talent on the team, but sometimes the players just aren't making plays. All of the little things that are so important in football, they're just not happening. Little things lead to big things. There's plenty of blame to go around everywhere, but here we are in November, and we still don't know which direction they're going in. It's tough to be this deep in the season really without any identity, offensively."

Part of the absence of an identity has been at quarterback, where Virginia transfer Greyson Lambert has struggled. He has just six completed passes of 30 or more yards this year, which is 13th in the conference behind players like South Carolina's Perry Orth and Auburn's Sean White—both of whom are part-time starters.

"Obviously, there are times where certain plays and things go wrong," Shockley said. "But just that he's willing to step out of his comfort zone and step away from the way he has done things over the last 15 years speaks to his desire to make it work. Taking the team down to Jacksonville on Thursday—he's never done that before. Starting a third-string quarterback in the middle of the season, he's pulling out all the stops to try to find a spark for the team."

The lack of a downfield threat in the passing game prompted Richt and offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer to start Faton Bauta in last week's game against Florida, despite being the third-team quarterback for the majority of the season.

"As an entire team, they just kind of seem lost...like they just don't know what they want to do and how they want to do it," Greene said. "A good example of that is starting Faton Bauta when he has zero starting experience. It just goes to show that what they've been trying to do just isn't working."

The coaches take the majority of the blame, but it comes down to players making plays. Georgia's defense gave up 413 yards to Florida, Reggie Davis fumbled a punt return that Florida recovered for the game's first score and there were enough missed assignments to fill the St. John's River.

"Defensively has been one of the brighter spots, even though it wasn't outstanding [vs. Florida]," Greene said. "But if the offense isn't having any success, it is kind of demoralizing to a defense. Special teams has really struggled. Costly turnovers and things of that nature are just killers. I can't even emphasize how much of a momentum-killer that can be, and I think the Florida game was a great example."

All of the blame being placed on the head coach is part of the job but also only part of the problem.

"Obviously, Coach Richt is going to be talked about because he's the head guy, but as a guy who's been in that system and understand what Coach Richt asks of his players and everybody around him, it makes you wonder if they're recruiting different kinds of guys," Shockley said. "Are these guys coming in feeling too privileged after all that goes on in high school recruiting now?

"I remember when I was there, when we wore the 'G' on our helmet, we felt that it was a privilege to say that we're playing on the biggest stage and represent everybody that came before us. Sometimes I feel like the guys they have now don't have the same perspective."

It's also important to put the whole program in perspective. 

Richt played hardball with Georgia around the bowl game last year, and it worked out in his favor. He got a raise for himself, a much bigger budget to pay assistant coaches with and finally got an indoor practice facility approved—which has been the equivalent of spotting a Unicorn in Athens: a myth.

"Them dedicating themselves to Coach Richt and basically saying that he's the reason why we've had all of these advances means a lot," Shockley said. "That's why it's so hard when people call for his head, because he's a huge part of what's going on at the University of Georgia and how far it has come."

It's come a long way, too. Richt took over a program where 10-win seasons were more myth than reality, and all Richt has done is top the 10-win plateau nine times, including just last year.

Be careful what you wish for, Bulldog nation. You might get it.

 

Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Statistics are courtesy of cfbstats.com.

Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer and national college football video analyst for Bleacher Report, as well as a host on Bleacher Report Radio on SiriusXM 83. Follow Barrett on Twitter @BarrettSallee.

 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

N'keal Harry Commits to Arizona State: What 4-Star WR Brings to Sun Devils

According to AZCentral.com's Richard Obert, wide receiver N'keal Harry revealed his college plans on Monday afternoon during a commitment ceremony held at Chandler High School in Arizona.

The 4-star prospect pledged to Arizona State over fellow finalists Texas A&M, Oregon, Washington and USC:

His decision provides the Sun Devils with a pivotal recruiting victory over three Pac-12 rivals and an Aggies squad that's pried elite talent away from Arizona during recent cycles.

Harry, a 6'4", 210-pound playmaker, is rated 16th nationally among 2016 receivers. He's considered a top-100 overall recruit and the No. 1 senior player in his home state.

A lengthy list of scholarship offers also features Nebraska, Wisconsin, Oregon State and Arizona. He's one of the most heavily targeted offensive prospects in the Southwest in this cycle.

Harry is currently enjoying a career-best campaign at Chandler, a perennial powerhouse in the suburban Phoenix area. Though he missed the team's most recent game with an ankle injury, Harry has 44 receptions for 784 yards and seven touchdowns through nine contests, per MaxPreps.

He hauled in 30 passes for 657 yards and 13 touchdowns as a junior last season, according to Obert.

Harry is a long-limbed athlete who excels in traffic and makes life easier for quarterbacks with an expansive catch radius. He's not a burner but manages to burst through cuts and exhibits above-average agility for a player of his physical stature.

It's also impressive to see an athlete with such length sustain enough coordination to be labeled a quality route-runner at this age.

There's plenty of room for growth in his downfield approach, but there are a lot of things to like about how he handles different roles in the offensive attack.

His physicality sets the stage for sizable gains after the catch and allows him to power through arm tackles. Harry needs to work on extending for the football, but it's a nuance that he's worked on as an upperclassman, and that technique should come more naturally through collegiate repetitions.

Arizona State has added another dynamic playmaker to a passing game that presently features five players with at least 20 receptions through eight games.

Expect Harry to quickly build a rapport with freshman quarterback Brady White, a 2015 Elite 11 finalist who could become the face of this Sun Devils attack if he beats out Manny Wilkins and Bryce Perkins next year.

Head coach Todd Graham targeted Harry as a coveted in-state commodity and actually traveled to his high school last Friday via helicopter, according to Blair Angulo of Rivals.com.

Arizona State has landed a potential immediate-impact wide receiver with elite size and, perhaps most importantly, sent a message to programs attempting to raid its home recruiting turf.

 

Tyler Donohue is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports. Follow Tyler via Twitter @TDsTake.

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N'keal Harry Commits to Arizona State: What 4-Star WR Brings to Sun Devils

According to AZCentral .com's Richard Obert , wide receiver N'keal Harry revealed his college plans on Monday afternoon during a commitment ceremony held at Chandler High School in Arizona...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

The Evolution of Alabama QB Jake Coker

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — His name is Nick Harvey. He’s considered a rising talent with a lot of potential for Texas A&M, but Alabama fans know him for something much different.

He’s the guy Jake Coker dropped his shoulder on and ran over while running along the Kyle Field sideline on Oct. 17.

It turned out to be an important moment for both him and the team, as it was when the Crimson Tide really started to rally around the quarterback.

“We love it,” Crimson Tide senior linebacker Reggie Ragland said. “Anytime he takes off like that and takes the hits and gets back up, we call him Baby Roethlisberger. Anytime he does that, that gets guys on the team hyped up. We’ll be backed up 3rd-and-10 and he gets the first down, the guys on the sideline see that and get hyped up more and more. The guys in the locker room love it.”

In terms of Coker’s progress, the evolution of a quarterback has played out over the course of the season as he essentially took baby steps against Wisconsin and started to do the equivalent of walking against Ole Miss. He’s since started taking strides, and Alabama needs him to run in November when the division title will be determined.

That’s an oversimplification, of course, but the steps in his development are obvious.

 

Step 1, Ole Miss

Coker didn’t start and wasn’t inserted until the Rebels had scored with six minutes, 43 seconds remaining in the first half to take a 17-3 lead. It ended up being a five-turnover day for the Crimson Tide, including two interceptions by the senior quarterback, but Nick Saban finally saw what he had been looking for.

The coach had said all along that he wanted one of the five quarterbacks to essentially win over the team, just like Blake Sims did last year and the others before him. There was finally no doubt that Coker was in command of the offense.

“I guess it started against Ole Miss,” Coker said. “We started getting better and better. But we’ve been getting better and better the whole time.

“We still have a long way to go.”

 

Step 2, Texas A&M

The dropping of the shoulder meant more than most fans realize.

“I love that about him,” SEC Network analyst Tim Tebow said. “He’s been trying to win [his teammates] over, to get them to believe in him, and I think that’s really important.

“Although you’re supposed to respect the quarterback position as a leader, guys don’t. They respect heart and they respect passion, they respect determination way more than they’ll respect a position. I think when he shows plays like that he wins over guys on his team and that makes Alabama a way-better football team.”

Tebow’s point—and he obviously experienced it at Florida—was that there has to be a moment in which the players sort of collectively think, “OK, we’re going to rally around this guy.” It changes the makeup of a football team.

Granted, Harvey wasn’t the only defender on whom Coker has dropped his shoulder, and he’s taken on some linebackers as well, but it came at a point when the Crimson Tide needed something to rally around.

“Now I wouldn’t advise leading with your throwing shoulder against 250-pound guys, it’s a little scary to me, makes me a little hesitant,” former Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy said. “But I did see the response on the sideline by his teammates, and that can’t go unnoticed.

“I think he’s done a really nice job the past few weeks. He’s really comfortable and he’s gained a lot of confidence, which is imperative at his position. His talent is starting to come to the forefront a little bit more because he’s not thinking so much. He’s only going to continue to get better.”

Even Saban likes it when Coker takes on a defender despite the obvious injury risk. Besides, the quarterback doesn’t like sliding.

“It's the personality of the player,” Saban said. “Jake's a tough, competitive guy. He's a big, physical guy. He's getting better and better every week. I don't want to take his aggressiveness away because we're fearful something bad is going to happen. I just don't coach that way.”

 

Step 3, Tennessee

When a tired Crimson Tide struggled offensively, the game came down to one possession. 

Especially when Tennessee took a 14-13 lead, Alabama’s chance to answer began at its own 29 with 5:49 remaining. He completed big passes to wide receivers ArDarius Stewart and Calvin Ridley as it went eight plays, 71 yards to win the game.

“I felt real good going into that drive, I felt that everyone was real focused on what we needed to do,” Coker said. “Everyone around me made plays and made it really easy on me.”

It hasn’t been without problems, and the offense has gone through some major growing pains in addition to injuries. The eight tackles for a loss allowed per game ranks 120th in the nation out of 127 teams. The 33.6 third-down percentage is 111th, while the 14 turnovers lost are 81st.

But Coker’s play has been improving even though Alabama’s schedule has been nothing short of brutal. 

“We're not totally satisfied with the consistency in the passing game in terms of the whole ball of wax, in terms of protection; too much pressure on the quarterback, too many sacks, timing in the passing game,” Saban said, “We were better on third down in this last game but that's been a bone of contention for us.

“More consistency in the red zone, scoring touchdowns, all those things …”

One of the things Alabama does during a bye week is what it calls quality control, during which it doesn’t necessarily study an opponent—although it was obviously putting in a lot of work on the next opponent as well—but focuses primarily on itself. It goes back to fundamentals for the workouts and concentrates on areas it wants to improve.

Coker said on Monday that the team was coming off a good week of practice, but having No. 4 LSU next up on the schedule made it really easy to focus.

“Just real excited about it,” Coker said. “Real big game, just trying to get prepared and go have some fun.”

 

Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.

Christopher Walsh is a lead SEC college football writer. Follow Christopher on Twitter @WritingWalsh.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Bowl Projections 2015: Predicting Playoff Standings and Bowl Games Post-Week 9

It's here. It's finally here. 

There are no more predictions or pontificating; we're actually going to get a glimpse at the College Football Playoff selection committee's thinking and see their top 25.

Some will be upset, while others will be elated. That's how this works. Just keep in mind: There's still a lot of football left to be played in the month of November, especially in conferences like the extremely back-loaded Big 12 and, of course, the SEC.

But still, the postseason picture will become a lot clearer on Tuesday when the first set of rankings come out. A second separation Saturday, if you want to call it that, will sharpen things even more in Week 10. 

For now, though, this is how the bowl picture looks. A hearty disclaimer that these are projecting the rest of the season and, as such, are not completely reflective of the state of college football at the moment.

  • Here are the full Top 25 rankings. The College Football Playoff selection committee will release its first set of rankings this Tuesday, Nov. 3, at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN.
  • As explained last week, the Cotton Bowl is technically a few miles closer to Columbus than the Orange Bowl, but the committee will likely give top-seeded Ohio State its semifinal in South Florida as a way to give them an actual geographic advantage. It keeps the Buckeyes in the Eastern time zone and forces No. 4 seed Stanford to travel across the country at the same time. That gives the Buckeyes a slight nod over Clemson when it comes to the semifinal sites.
  • With Seth Russell's season-ending neck injury, we predict a wild month ahead for the Big 12, with both TCU and Baylor winding up with at least one loss. By virtue of the Horned Frogs getting their matchup with the Bears at home, they win the league and get the Sugar Bowl spot. Weak non-conference slates are what ultimately keep both Big 12 teams at home in lieu of a spot in the final four.
  • Florida has all but locked up the SEC East, and it's hard to see them missing out on a New Year's Six bowl game at this point in the year.
  • It's still strange to see an Iowa vs. Utah matchup in the Rose Bowl. Both can lose their respective conference title games in early December, but a trip to Pasadena is a pretty nice consolation prize.
  • The lower-tier bowl picture remains murky. There are good odds we don't wind up with enough eligible teams, and the lack of some conference tie-ins means that some teams could get shipped to some strange destinations.
  • The best non-NY6 game might just be the Russell Athletic Bowl, which could feature ACC Coastal winner North Carolina against a quality Oklahoma State team that will have only lost to top-15 teams by the time the postseason rolls around.
  • If you like offense, you'll love Cal-Indiana in the Foster Farms Bowl and Cincinnati-Kentucky in the Birmingham Bowl. 
  • How about a BCS title game rematch between Florida State and Auburn? That's one dream scenario for the Belk Bowl if Auburn can make it to 6-6. The Seminoles would be heavily favored in this one, though.
  • Virginia Tech head coach Frank Beamer's send-off game will be of much speculation, and it wouldn't be that surprising to see the Hokies get sent to New York City for the Pinstripe Bowl. That game is closer to Blacksburg than other options, and the top media market in the country will be a great place to say goodbye to one of the greats.
  • Shout-out to Southern Miss, which was one of the worst FBS teams in the country over the past few years but will wind up in the postseason this year.

 

You can follow Bryan Fischer on Twitter @BryanDFischer

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

College Football's Most Important Offers of the Week

One area that Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh has sought to make an impact on in the recruiting trail is the state of Florida.

The Wolverines already have four commitments in the 2016 cycle who hail from the Sunshine State.

Last week, Harbaugh and his staff offered another Florida playmaker in 3-star wide receiver Eddie McDoom, according to Steve Lorenz of Wolverine247.

As Lorenz notes, the Wolverines only have one pure receiver committed, and the position is one that the coaching staff would like to add more talent to in the months leading up to signing day. 

The 5’11”, 170-pound McDoom has more than 20 offers to his credit, with schools such as Alabama, Clemson, Florida, Kentucky and Texas among the programs who have tendered him. 

McDoom, who hauled in 47 receptions for 854 yards and 15 touchdowns as a junior, took an unofficial visit to Kentucky last month. Currently, the Wildcats are the perceived favorites in his recruitment.

However, it remains to be seen how hard the Wolverines plan to push for McDoom and whether or not the contact between the two parties will lead to a visit.

Given the Wolverines' mission of targeting the talent-rich Sunshine State, their offer to McDoom signals that they plan to make that territory a focal point under Harbaugh moving forward.

 

JUCO DE Nets Four Big Offers

With signing day a little more than three months away, teams across the country are beginning to scour the JUCO ranks in search of prospects who can come in and immediately fill holes next fall. 

One such prospect is defensive end Jonathan Kongbo, who saw his list expand with offers from four schools in various Power Five conferences last week.

Auburn, Louisville, Nebraska and Washington all tendered the 6’6”, 260-pounder, who currently attends Arizona Western College.

Alabama, Arizona, Ole Miss and Tennessee are among the other schools actively recruiting Kongbo. 

He visited Ole Miss on Oct. 24 and has plans to visit Auburn on Nov. 21. Given his raw ability as a pass-rusher, expect more schools to jump in the race for Kongbo in the coming weeks.

 

Notre Dame Offers 2017 5-Star DE

Notre Dame already landed a stud from IMG Academy in 2016 4-star running back Tony Jones Jr.

Irish head coach Brian Kelly has his sights set on another IMG star in rising 5-star junior defensive end Joshua Kaindoh, who received an offer from the Irish last week.

The 6’6”, 237-pounder is rated as the nation’s top weak-side defensive end prospect and the No. 15 recruit overall in the 2017 cycle.

Alabama, Maryland, Ohio State and Penn State are among the schools who are actively in the race with Kaindoh at this stage of his recruitment.

 

Georgia Offers 2017 Alabama Pledge

One area that Georgia head coach Mark Richt has sought to solidify in recruiting is keeping top in-state prospects from leaving the state and heading to rival schools. 

Two months ago, 4-star safety Xavier McKinney committed to fellow SEC power Alabama. However, the Bulldogs officially jumped into the race for McKinney after offering him last week.

The 6’1”, 170-pounder rates as the No. 13 safety and the No. 214 player overall in the 2017 class.

While McKinney hasn’t given any indication that he plans to back off his pledge to the Tide, his recruitment could get intriguing if Richt and his staff turn up the heat on him moving forward.

 

Best of the Rest 

2016

 

2017

 

2018

 

Sanjay Kirpalani is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes obtained firsthand and all recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Minnesota vs. Ohio State: Complete Game Preview

Ohio State had identified J.T. Barrett as its quarterback for the homestretch of the 2015 season, but the redshirt sophomore quarterback was arrested for operating a vehicle while impaired Saturday morning, which earned him a one-game suspension from head coach Urban Meyer.

That suspension has put Cardale Jones in the spotlight, and he'll get one more chance to impress as the top-ranked Buckeyes (8-0) host Minnesota (4-4) in a prime-time showdown this Saturday night, Nov. 7. 

The Gophers are coming off a tumultuous week, as former head coach Jerry Kill announced his retirement due to health concerns. Interim head coach Tracy Claeys took over and guided Minnesota to a near-upset of No. 15 Michigan, but quarterback Mitch Leidner was stuffed at the goal line as time expired, and the Wolverines hung on for a 29-26 victory.

Can Minnesota bounce back, or will Jones and the Buckeyes be too much to handle? 

 

Viewing Information

Date: Saturday, November 7

Time: 8 p.m. ET

Place: Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio

TV: ABC

Radio: Ohio State Football Radio Network, Golden Gopher Radio Network

Spread: Ohio State (-23), via Odds Shark 

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Notre Dame vs. Pittsburgh Complete Game Preview

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Notre Dame football began its late-season stretch of road games with a four-point win over previously unbeaten Temple on Saturday in Philadelphia, and the Irish head right back to Pennsylvania this week for a matchup with Pittsburgh.

The Panthers, who had climbed to No. 23 in last week’s AP poll, are again unranked after their 26-19 home loss to North Carolina on Thursday. Now at 6-2, Pitt welcomes 7-1 and eighth-ranked Notre Dame, which is still trying to avoid any potholes on its way toward the regular-season finale against No. 9 Stanford.

“October is for pretenders, and November will be for contenders,” Irish head coach Brian Kelly said leading up to the Temple game.

Kelly uttered that familiar refrain two years ago, too, at the end of October, two weeks before Notre Dame’s clash with Pittsburgh at Heinz Field. The Irish, 7-2 at the time, still had a shot at a BCS bowl berth but fell to the Panthers, 28-21. Notre Dame had been 11-1 in November under Kelly before that setback.

Each of the last six matchups in the series has been decided by no more than seven points.

 

Date: Saturday, November 7

Time: Noon ET

Place: Heinz Field in Pittsburgh

TV: ABC

Radio: IMG College Sports, SiriusXM Channel 129

Spread: Notre Dame by 7.5, according to Odds Shark

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Should Georgia Worry 5-Star Derrick Brown Will Visit Auburn, Tennessee?

The recruitment of 5-star defensive tackle Derrick Brown is sure to have fans of a handful of SEC programs on edge until signing day. 

According to Kipp Adams of Dawgs247, the 6’4”, 318-pound Peach State product has announced his official visit plans.

Mississippi State and Alabama are scheduled to receive visits before the end of the year, while Georgia, Auburn and Tennessee will occupy his last three weekends before national signing day. 

As Rusty Mansell of Dawgs247 detailed in September, the trio of programs getting his final visits are the schools who are aggressively recruiting him the hardest.

The Bulldogs have been the overwhelming favorite to land the nation’s No. 3 defensive tackle and the No. 8 recruit overall in the 2016 class.

However, with both the Tigers and Volunteers getting the last cracks at Brown, should ‘Dawgs supporters start to get nervous? 

Despite the confidence that Brown ultimately lands in Athens, recruiting is a phenomenon in which nothing is certain until a player signs a letter of intent or enrolls at the school of his choice.

With that said, discounting Auburn and Tennessee’s chances at this stage would not be wise.

According to Keith Niebuhr of AuburnUndercover, Brown attended Auburn’s game against Ole Miss last weekend, and he enjoyed his latest trip to the Plains.

“Definitely getting a chance to talk to the coaches again and have a great time up here is big to me,” Brown told Niebuhr on the highlights of his visit. "We’re just talking and they’re getting to know my family more and more."

As Niebuhr notes, the Tigers have been pitching Brown on their need for impact players at the defensive tackle position. It’s something not lost on Brown and his decision-making process, and it’s a safe bet that that message will be hammered home again when he returns for his official visit on Jan. 22.

He also took a visit to Tennessee last month for the Vols' thrilling 38-31 win over Georgia.

The atmosphere inside Neyland Stadium and on campus left an impression on Brown, according to Ryan Callahan of GoVols247.

“[Tennessee is] definitely still one of my top teams,” Brown told Callahan. “I mean, (I like) just the atmosphere up there. It’s a family atmosphere, and that’s what I like most about it.”

The Vols will get his final visit before signing day on Jan. 29.

Still, if there’s one thing that is working in the Bulldogs' favor, it’s the fact that head coach Mark Richt and his staff have also done a great job in making Brown’s parents feel comfortable with the plan they would have for Brown on and off the field, as detailed by Adams.

"Every time we go to Georgia, it is always a great experience," Brown’s mother, Martha, told Adams. "I tell everybody that every time we sit in Coach Mark Richt's office, we always enjoy it immensely. He is just so calm and collected, on and off the field. I see that as being genuine, and I like that." 

While Brown seems to be keeping an open mind and letting the process play out, given the signs pointing in Georgia’s favor, it would still be a great shock if he landed anywhere other than Athens on signing day.

 

Sanjay Kirpalani is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes obtained firsthand and all recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.

 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

De'Mornay Pierson-El Injury: Updates on Nebraska WR's Knee and Recovery

Nebraska wide receiver De'Mornay Pierson-El will miss the remainder of the 2015 season after suffering a torn knee ligament and a fracture to his left leg in Saturday's 55-45 loss to Purdue, per Steven M. Sipple of the Lincoln Journal Star.

Continue for updates.

Pierson-El Out for Season After Gruesome Injury Monday, Nov. 2

Pierson-El, a sophomore, was injured in the midst of celebrating with his teammates after a 20-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Ryker Fyfe to receiver Stanley Morgan Jr. As he was jumping around, he landed awkwardly on his left leg, which buckled sideways. He could not leave the field under his own power and did not return to the game.

"With all the stuff he's been through this season, it was just heartbreaking to me," Morgan said, per Sipple. "He's been working so hard to get back and for something like that to happen, it can bring you down."

The Alexandria, Virginia, product finishes 2015 with 12 receptions for 111 yards and a touchdown. He missed the season's first three games with a foot injury and was only recently working his way back to 100 percent. The Cornhuskers, who are 3-6 following their fourth conference loss by 10 or fewer points, will have enough wide receiver depth to withstand Pierson-El's injury but will miss his underneath dynamism.

 

Follow Tyler Conway (@tylerconway22) on Twitter.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Baylor Bears vs. Kansas State Wildcats Betting Odds, College Football Pick

Baylor is 5-2 over the last seven meetings with Kansas State but only 3-4 against the spread, because the Wildcats have kept most of those meetings close. The Bears, without their starting quarterback, will go off as big road chalk for Thursday night's clash with the Wildcats in Manhattan.

Point spread: Bears opened as 18.5-point favorites, according to sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark. (Line updates and matchup report)

College football pick, via Odds Shark computer: 49.8-15.8 Bears

 

Why the Baylor Bears can cover the spread

Baylor is 7-0 on the season, 4-1 ATS over its last five games, after downing Iowa State two weeks ago 45-27. The Bears then had last week off.

BU, as a 35-point favorite, led the Cyclones 35-0 midway through the second quarter, then it coasted from there, eschewing the cover. On the day, the Bears outgained Iowa State 485-388, and it probably would have been worse had they not taken their foot off the gas.

Baylor took a hit when quarterback Seth Russell suffered a season-ending neck injury, but backup Jarrett Stidham comes highly regarded. The Bears might have to rely a bit more on their running game and defense from here on out, but they're equipped for that.

 

Why the Kansas State Wildcats can cover the spread

K-State started 3-0 this season, averaging 34 points per game, then lost at Oklahoma State 36-34 on a field goal with 30 seconds left and followed that up with a 52-45 loss to TCU, allowing the winning score with one minute to go. But the Wildcats covered as seven-point dogs against the Cowboys and as eight-point dogs against the Frogs.

Kansas State has since lost two more games in a row (versus Oklahoma and at Texas), and it had last week off.

The Wildcats are 6-2 ATS in their last eight spots as home dogs, and they are 4-0 ATS their last four times out as double-digit dogs. If Kansas State can use its running game to move the chains, work some clock and make some stops on defense, it could keep this one close.

 

Smart pick

The loss of Russell will hurt, but the Bears are a complete outfit. They're averaging 338 yards per game on the ground, while the defense is allowing just 150, and Russell has nothing to do with that.

Meanwhile, Kansas State has been outgained each of its last five games by an average of almost 200 yards per outing. Even with the change at quarterback, the smart bet here is Baylor playing on the road, where the spread is a little more amenable.

 

Betting trends

Kansas State is 7-1 straight up and 6-2 ATS in its last eight games at home in November.

Kansas State is 0-4 SU in its last four games.

Baylor is 5-15 SU in its last 20 games on the road in November.

 

All point spread and lines data courtesy of Odds Shark, and all quotes gathered firsthand unless otherwise noted. Check out Twitter for injury and line-movement updates, and get the free odds tracker app.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

College Football Teams on Upset Alert in November

Welcome to November—the time of the college football calendar when championship dreams are either made or broken.

The final month of the regular season is always good for a few big-time upsets, ones that severely damage a contender or completely knock a high-rising team out of the title picture. Last season, Texas A&M upset then-No. 3 Auburn to give the Tigers a deflating second loss. Later in November, an Oregon State team that didn't even make a bowl game knocked off No. 7 Arizona State.

Here are several contenders that should be on upset alert this month in what has already been a crazy 2015 season. In order to make this list, the team on alert must be ranked—and the potential upsetter must be outside the Top 25. This takes away several games that may come to mind, such as Ohio State's road trip to Michigan or LSU's matchups against Alabama, Ole Miss and Texas A&M.

To be clear, I'm not necessarily picking any of these contenders to lose these games. I'm just pointing out the possibilities of a ranked team falling to someone outside the polls based on location, timing on the schedule, matchup problems and past results. Feel free to put some more ranked teams on upset alert in the comments below.

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Mississippi State Bulldogs vs. Missouri Tigers Betting, College Football Pick

Missouri made some nice cash the last couple of seasons, going 20-8 against the spread, but betting trends are born to reverse themselves eventually, and the offensively challenged Tigers are just 2-6 ATS this season. Missouri also rides a dismal three-game losing streak into a home date with Mississippi State Thursday night in Columbia.

 

Point spread: Bulldogs opened as 7.5-point favorites, according to sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark. (Line updates and matchup report)

College football pick, via Odds Shark computer: 35.0-23.8 Bulldogs

 

Why the Mississippi State Bulldogs can cover the spread

MSU won its third game in a row two weeks ago, beating Kentucky 42-16, covering as a two-touchdown home favorite. The Bulldogs then had last week off.

Mississippi State spotted the Wildcats an early 7-0 lead, but sometimes that's the best thing that can happen to a big home favorite; it's like a good slap in the face. The Bulldogs responded by outscoring Kentucky 35-6 over the last three quarters. On the night, MSU out-gained the Wildcats by 160 yards, ran the ball for 204 yards and won the turnover battle 3-1.

Just before that, the Bulldogs beat Louisiana Tech 45-20, and just before that, they beat Troy 45-17. So MSU is averaging 44 points over its last three games.

 

Why the Missouri Tigers can cover the spread

Mizzou started well enough this season, going 4-1, beating South Carolina to reach 1-1 in SEC play, but the Tigers have lost three games in a row, including a 10-3 decision at Vanderbilt two weeks ago. The Tigers then also had last week off.

Missouri again played without quarterback Maty Mauk (who's now been suspended for good) against Vandy, and did very little offensively. But the defense kept the Tigers in the game, allowing just 304 yards of Commodores offense. Mizzou had a chance to force overtime late, driving into the Vandy red zone, but ran out of downs.

Three weeks ago, the Tigers lost at Georgia 9-6, but they held UGA to 298 yards and covered as two-touchdown dogs. Just before that, they lost to Florida 21-3, allowing just 337 yards of Gators offense. If Missouri could just move the ball a little and put up 17-20 points, they could win this game outright.

 

Smart pick

The Tigers have scored a total of 12 points over their last three games. However, the Bulldogs, while putting up some good numbers against lesser foes recently, only scored 19, 17 and 17 points against LSU, Auburn and Texas A&M. It might be tough taking a team that hasn't scored a touchdown in a month, but the smart choice here is with the defensive-minded home dog.

 

Betting trends

The total has gone under in 10 of Missouri's last 11 games at home.

Missouri is 8-0 SU and ATS in its last eight games in November.

Mississippi State is 7-3 SU in its last 10 games on the road.

 

All point spread and lines data courtesy of Odds Shark, all quotes gathered firsthand unless otherwise noted. Check out Twitter for injury and line-movement updates and get the free odds-tracker app.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

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