NCAA Football

Nick Saban vs. Urban Meyer: Who's the Better 'Big-Game' Coach?

Nick Saban and Urban Meyer are two of the most successful coaches in the last 10 years. The two coaches have five national championships between them, and they'll square off one more time in the Sugar Bowl.

Bleacher Report College Football Analysts Adam Kramer and Barrett Sallee debate who they would rather have in big games. 

Who would you rather have coaching your team?

Watch the video and let us know!

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Melvin Gordon to Declare for 2015 NFL Draft: Latest Details and Reaction

Melvin Gordon is going to capitalize on his incredible junior season.

The Wisconsin Badgers running back confirmed Wednesday on The Dan Patrick Show he will declare for the 2015 NFL draft following the season.    

The show's producer, Paul Pabst, shared the exchange on Twitter:

Gordon leads the nation this season in both rushing yards (2,336) and rushing touchdowns (26). He broke Larry Johnson's record for fewest carries before hitting 2,000, per ESPN Stats & Info:

Gordon also set the FBS record for rushing yards in a game, going for 408 against Nebraska on Nov. 15 in only three quarters. His mark lasted all of a week, with Oklahoma's Samaje Perine running for 427 yards against Kansas.

The numbers are even more impressive when you consider how ineffective Wisconsin's passing game was all season. Despite teams loading the box to try to stop him, Gordon still managed to be arguably the best running back in college football.

Being the best college ball-carrier isn't necessarily a guarantee of success in the NFL, however. For every Adrian Peterson, Ricky Williams and Mark Ingram, there's a Trent Richardson, Ron Dayne and Darren McFadden.

CBSSports.com and ESPN.com (subscription required) both list Gordon as the top running back in the 2015 draft class. Bleacher Report's NFL draft analyst Matt Miller was a little more hesitant to put Gordon at the top of the draft board.

Miller provided a more detailed analysis of Gordon following the player's historic night against Nebraska. He praised Gordon's vision and ability to break through the first wave of attackers but believes Gordon lacks the acceleration to break away from defenders and could be propped up by a historically strong program when it comes to running the football.

NFL general managers are coming to value running backs less and less when it comes to the draft. LeSean McCoy, Jamaal Charles, Andre Ellington and DeMarco Murray all went in the second round or later.

Even if Gordon is viewed as the top running back in 2015, he may not come off the board until at least the second round.

But the Wisconsin star will have plenty of time in the coming months to prove that he's worth a first-round selection. His next stop is the Outback Bowl against Auburn on New Year's Day.

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Marian Knights, the College Football Powerhouse You've Never Heard of

The stakes had never been higher for Mike Josifovski in December of 2012. After forcing overtime with a 35-yard field goal, all Josifovski had to do in overtime was kick a 26-yard field goal to give the Marian Knights their first NAIA national championship in just the sixth year of existence for the program.

Josifovski drilled the game-winning field goal, causing an eruption of celebration from the Marian sideline. Now, in 2014, the Knights have a chance to bring glory to Marian once again.

Located just west of Indianapolis, Indiana, Marian University’s football program is currently in only its eighth season, beginning in 2007 with a group of players that had never played together. Since then, the team has continued to grow into one of the NAIA’s most successful programs, winning the 2012 national championship along with multiple MSFA Mideast League titles.

Since winning the national title, more and more local players have begun to flock to Marian, while players who have been with the team since 2012 have consistently been motivated to bring their school a second one.

“It took a lot of hard work and a whole season of preparation [in 2012], but that’s really what brings people to Marian,” said Alex Wetmore, a junior defensive lineman who was on the national championship team as a freshman.

“We like to consider ourselves a small school with big-time football, and it’s really a process-over-product mentality. If we continue to buy into the process, we know we can get there again.”

Ted Karras Jr. initially took over as head coach for the Knights, and it didn’t take long for the program to start making some noise in the NAIA. In six seasons, Karras led the Knights to a 48-23 record along with the 2012 national title and three straight NAIA Football Championship Series appearances before leaving after the 2012 season.

Now head coach Mark Henninger has taken over and preached for his players to buy into the process since joining the team before the 2013-14 season, and it’s finally starting to show. After just a 6-5 season under Henninger last year and a 2-2 start this season, the Knights have hit their stride, putting together nine straight wins to take them to their second NAIA National Championship appearance in just three seasons.

“It was frustrating early on because you could see the talent and drive to be successful, but mentally we weren’t there yet,” Henninger said. “I think we still have a long way to go, but we’ve made strides this season where we’re playing smarter football and letting the talent reach its full potential.”

Defense has been one of the main reasons for Marian’s success this season, leading the nation with just 66.3 rushing yards allowed per game. Led by a stingy front seven, the defense has made scoring on it an almost impossible task every week, ranking No. 6 in the nation with just 17.6 points allowed per game.

Defensive line coach Brock Caraboa has been with the Knights since their first game, registering the first ever tackle in Marian football history. Caraboa is considered one of the best linebackers in school history, earning NAIA All-American honors in 2010, and he’s brought a winning mentality to the defense.

“I don’t want anybody rushing on us, because that’s our team philosophy,” Caraboa said. “I think we’ve been so successful as a defense because everyone is doing their job and playing unselfish. When teams don’t stay in their gaps, that’s when you’ll see teams giving up 100 or 150 yards on the ground.”

Caraboa and the rest of the defensive coaching staff provide an excellent learning environment whenever their players are studying film. Rather than lecture the defensive linemen for an hour, Caraboa encourages players to be involved in the discussion, opening the floor to any questions throughout the session.

But that doesn’t mean that Caraboa is soft on his players. One of his biggest fears is that his players are content with being average, telling them what they aren’t doing well enough and encouraging them to be dominant. Each film session, Caraboa names a “shark” and a “seal,” praising one player for his effort while letting another know that he must do better.

“You never want to be a seal,” Wetmore said. “Players will do whatever it takes to be sharks, because they’ll dominate seals once they smell blood in the water.”

On offense, the Knights are led by senior running back Tevin Lake, the 2014 MSFA Mideast League Player of the Year. Lake has been the team’s workhorse running back since he was a freshman, running for over 5,000 yards and 60 touchdowns over his career, holding school records in both categories.

Lake’s best season came in 2012, running for 1,594 yards and 18 touchdowns on just 307 carries. While players out of the NAIA very rarely get chances to play in the NFL, Lake has started to attract at least some attention from pro scouts.

Still, like every player on the team, Lake isn’t focused on the future.

“I feel there’s a possible chance, but that’s not my priority right now,” Lake said about possibly getting a chance at the NFL. “I’m more focused on getting my degree and leading my team to Daytona and winning the national championship.”

Players at Marian are unlike most you’ll find in Division I football. Individual aspirations are replaced with team goals, while players who aren’t getting playing time are more concerned with their team winning than getting on the field.

The Knights are an example of football in its purest form. Off-field investigations and national spotlights are replaced by young men who want nothing more than to play the game they love and bring their school a second national title.

“This season has definitely been one I’ll never forget,” Lake said. “The chemistry and mentality of this team reminds me so much of 2012 because it feels like a family again, and collectively we are a stronger and more mentally tough team than a year ago.”

At Marian, players aren’t just teammates, they’re family. Players coach each other just as much as the coaches do, understanding that a team is only as strong as its weakest player.

You won’t normally see the Knights on ESPN, although they’ll be playing on ESPNU against Southern Oregon on Friday, December 19 at 3 p.m. ET. But if you’re looking for a college powerhouse that plays football the right way, you’ll have a hard time finding a place better than Marian.

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Where OSU, UGA, Virginia Tech and Oregon Turn After Missing on 5-Star Josh Sweat

Judgement day arrived Wednesday for coveted 2015 recruit Josh Sweat. After considering five finalists, the 5-star defensive end decided his ideal destination is defending national champion Florida State:

Sweat, a 6'5", 240-pound senior at Oscar Smith High School in Virginia, rose to the No. 1 overall spot in 247Sports' composite rankings this summer. A season-ending knee injury derailed his senior campaign in September and dropped him to No. 6 overall on that list, though he remains the top-rated prospect at his position.

The Seminoles land a freakish talent who rivals any athlete in this recruiting cycle. Sweat secured 22 sacks in 2013, sprinted the 40-yard dash in 4.46 seconds in July at The Opening and also served as a dangerous downfield weapon in the Oscar Smith offense.

He chose Florida State over fellow finalists Oregon, Georgia, Ohio State and Virginia Tech.

"As far as all of them go, I love all of the coaching staffs and I feel comfortable with them, some more than others," Sweat told Evan Watkins of 247Sports before his announcement. "The biggest thing for me is being comfortable. I am going to be living there for the next three or four years so that is the biggest factor."

Apparently, Tallahassee offered more comfort than the other potential landing spots.

Now that we know where the dominant defender is headed, let's examine how his decision affects the programs that came up short in the pursuit of Sweat.

 

Georgia

The Bulldogs are in better shape than any other team on this list in terms of incoming talent along the defensive front. Mark Richt has already secured commitments from 4-star defensive ends Chauncey Rivers, Michael Barnett, Natrez Patrick and Jonathan Ledbetter, who flipped from Alabama this summer.

Trent Thompson, the country's top-rated defensive tackle, anchors a Georgia class jockeying for position with Florida State behind Alabama in the national rankings. He understood the kind of difference Sweat could have made.

"If we both become great players in college, teams would always be trying to figure out how to handle us in the trenches," he told Bleacher Report earlier this week. "But when we're lined up together, they can't double-team both of us. They can't block both of us."

However, he also understood the depth already in place in Athens.

"Between the veterans we have returning next year and the young guys like me coming in, we're going to have a lot of great players to work with," Thompson said. "Our defensive line should be special with people filling different roles. We can be an important part of a championship team."

Bulldogs fans can take solace in that sentiment. Plus, 4-star South Carolina defensive lineman Albert Huggins is expected to decide between Clemson and Georgia this Friday.

 

Ohio State

It would have been thrilling to see Sweat pair up with Joey Bosa, the 2014 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, but Urban Meyer isn't exactly lacking talent at defensive end in this class. He landed 4-star Minnesota product Jashon Cornell in July.

Running back appears to be the position of most importance for the Buckeyes at this point, but targets remain on the defensive line.

The team has kept tabs on 5-star Illinois standout Terry Beckner, and versatile Utah phenom Porter Gustin told Bleacher Report earlier this week that he plans to visit Columbus before signing day.

"Ohio State is a place I'd really like to check out," said Gustin, one of six finalists for the U.S. Army All-American Player of the Year Award. "It's a program and school that has a lot to offer."

 

Oregon

"Moral victories" are typically reserved for on-field action in football, but it may be appropriate to apply that term to how things progressed for Oregon in the Sweat sweepstakes.

The Ducks secured a last-second official visit, which put the program in position to deliver an on-campus sales pitch. That opportunity seemed improbable earlier this season, especially after knee surgery limited Sweat's ability to travel comfortably.

Oregon continues to assert itself on the national stage after the successful Chip Kelly era and can further prove its prowess in the inaugural College Football Playoff.

The Ducks showed that their on-field success is seeping into their recruiting efforts by staying in this chase until the end. Oregon already holds a commitment from 4-star Hawaii defensive end Canton Kaumatule, a 6'7", 290-pound stud, and is in the mix for 5-star defensive linemen Terry Beckner and Rasheem Green.

 

Virginia Tech

Sweat's decision to become a Seminole stings in Blacksburg more than anywhere else. The Hokies, just 21-17 since 2012, viewed the Virginia native as a crown jewel for in-state recruiting purposes.

Last February, Virginia Tech failed to sign 5-star in-state defenders Quin Blanding and Andrew Brown, who played alongside Sweat at Oscar Smith. Both players landed at ACC rival Virginia.

Now, the Hokies must face the reality that Sweat's next trip to Lane Stadium will take place on the visitor sidelines. Instead of rejuvenating Virginia Tech, he'll make the team's road back to conference glory more difficult.

The team still hasn't signed a top-10 in-state recruit during this cycle. Virginia Tech can change momentum by signing Ricky DeBerry (linebacker) or Tim Settle (defensive tackle), but the dream of landing Sweat is over.

 

Quotes obtained firsthand by Bleacher Report National Recruiting Analyst Tyler Donohue unless otherwise noted.

Recruit ratings courtesy of 247Sports.

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5 Florida Players Who Must Impress Jim McElwain This Bowl Season

New Florida head coach Jim McElwain won't coach the bowl game, but he will be watching closely at which players step up against East Carolina in the Birmingham Bowl.

A new head coach means a clean slate for Gators players who have struggled or been buried on the depth chart this season.

Which Florida players need to make a statement against the Pirates and impress their new head coach?

Our top five are in this slideshow.

Begin Slideshow

Michigan Football: What Do Wolverines Need in Their Next Head Coach?

In the week since Brady Hoke was fired, both Florida and Nebraska have filled coaching vacancies. Meanwhile, in Ann Arbor the top football job remains vacant as Michigan conducts its third coaching search since the 2007 retirement of Lloyd Carr.

It’s not yet evident that Michigan has learned anything from its previous searches. History seems to be repeating itself.

Once again an athletic director from the commercial sector is conducting a search that’s moving at an orderly, unhurried pace oblivious to damage caused by leaving the position empty.

”The interest has blown me away,” interim athletic director Jim Hackett told Mark Snyder of the Detroit Free Press on the search's procession.

Fans hope that the search is completed soon and that Hackett finds a coach who doesn't repeat the mistakes of the last two.

Here are factors he can consider when evaluating candidates.

 

Recruiting and Player Development

The lifeblood of any college football program is the ability to bring in new players. College teams fight a constant battle of attrition with graduation and injuries since position depth is a perpetual concern. The best coaches have a talent for identifying players who haven’t yet reached their full potential.

An incoming coach either needs a robust recruiting network and familiarity with high school coaches in talent-rich areas or a big enough reputation to have instant credibility.

Hoke and his staff were fairly skilled at attracting top recruits but failed at developing that talent. The quarterback position is the most obvious example of this failure. Not only did Devin Gardner regress during his career, but backups at the position (Shane Morris and Russell Bellomy) were unprepared to take over when presented with the opportunity.

Contrast this with an Ohio State team that lost quarterback Braxton Miller prior to the season, reloaded with J.T. Barrett and then hardly missed a beat with Cardale Jones against Wisconsin.

 

Coaching Network

The ideal candidate will have a history of hiring and developing assistant coaches. Players spend most of their time working with their position coaches and strength staff. These coaches have a major impact on the success or failure of a coaching regime.

The top college coaches have the ability to identify and hire talented assistants who constantly push the program to improve. These assistants also need to be skilled at developing and motivating players.

Hoke seemed to strike gold at first, luring Greg Mattison from the NFL to be his defensive coordinator, but problems later emerged on the offensive side of the ball. Offensive coordinators Al Borges and Doug Nussmeier were unable to establish a consistent identity for the team’s attack.

A potential coach from the NFL ranks will need to evaluate if his assistants can be successful at the college level, where players need more direct development.

 

Game Management

This should be a given, but unfortunately it wasn't under Brady Hoke. Michigan struggled with mismanaged timeouts and questionable play-calling.

The focal point of this criticism was his decision to not wear a headset during games. When Michigan went 11-2 in Hoke’s first season, his stance on headsets was quirky. But as the team began spiraling down, his stubbornness became an issue.

In the 2013 season opener, Michigan came out in its hurry-up or “NASCAR” offense against lowly Central Michigan. Hoke was genuinely surprised by the tactic but wouldn’t have been if he had been on the headset.

Another example was the 2014 concussion injury to quarterback Shane Morris. Morris was obviously staggering after the play. His distress was evident to observers in the press box and to broadcasters. Hoke could have been notified of the problem if he had been wearing a headset.

Michigan’s next head coach needs to be responsible and involved in monitoring every aspect of the team’s play.

 

Public Relations

Michigan is a major football program that garners a huge amount of national attention. Every word the head coach utters is reported and parsed by fans and media alike. Both Hoke and Rich Rodriguez before him failed on this count.

Rodriguez failed to court Michigan fans by acknowledging the program's rich history, while Hoke relied on it too much. Both frustrated fans by not showing enough fire after losses. Rodriguez appeared distraught, while Hoke spoke in a flat monotone, relying on the same cliches as the losses piled up.

The next coach would do well to show some emotion after both wins and losses.

 

Other Considerations

Interested candidates are great, but the longer the search goes on the perception grows that the effort is foundering.

How does Jim Hackett’s interim status impact the search? Any top coaching candidate will want to know who his boss will be. If Hackett wants the job full-time, he could help matters by declaring his interest.

What about being a “Michigan Man”? Any organization would prefer a candidate who is familiar with its own particular culture.

Rodriguez was oblivious to the toes he was stepping on, but his ultimate undoing was not fielding a competent defense. Hoke was steeped in Michigan culture but was undone by a complete systems failure on offense.

In both cases the “Michigan Man” myth was a sideshow to problems on the field.

Any coaching candidate would be wise to tip his hat to Michigan tradition, but previous ties to the program shouldn’t be a determining factor for the next hire.

If the next coach can get the program back on track, he'll make himself part of the tradition. Lose, and quoting Bo Schembechler will not save you.

Brady Hoke is proof of that.



Phil Callihan is a featured writer for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotations obtained firsthand.

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@PCallihan

All season statistics from mgoblue.com, official University of Michigan athletic department web site

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Gary Patterson Wins 2014 Home Depot Coach of the Year Award

Gary Patterson's TCU Horned Frogs were left out of the College Football Playoff, but the top-notch head coach was honored with a prestigious award Wednesday.

According to Yahoo Sports' Dr. Saturday, the 54-year-old native of Rozel, Kansas, has been named the Home Depot Coach of the Year:

Patterson led the Horned Frogs to a 11-1 record, which was good enough to make them co-Big 12 champions along with Baylor. TCU's one loss was a 61-58 defeat at the hands of the Bears, though, which was ultimately the reason why it finished the regular season No. 6 in the CFP poll.

While Patterson was obviously disappointed the Frogs were on the outside looking in of the Top Four, he was praised by many, including Mississippi State athletic director Scott Stricklin, for the manner in which he handled the situation:

No individual award will take away the sting of missing out on an opportunity to play for the national title, but Patterson is receiving some well-deserved recognition.

Per TCU football's Twitter account, he was also named the Big 12 Coach of the Year:

According to ESPN College Football, ESPN's Brett McMurphy gathered votes from 96 FBS coaches for their coach of the year choices. Patterson received 45 percent of the vote to prove that his peers agreed with the decision:

Patterson has done some great things during his 15 seasons at TCU, but 2014 has been arguably his finest coaching job.

Even though the Horned Frogs didn't quite reach their goal, Patterson has undoubtedly established them has potential championship contenders for many years to come.

 

Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter

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ESPN Gives Group of Young Kids a Chance to Pick College Football Award Winner

Analysts can sometimes overthink the matchup and get wrapped up in player statistics—it's always nice to get a fresh perspective.

Oregon's Marcus Mariota, Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon III and Mississippi State's Dak Prescott are the finalists for the 2014 Maxwell Award, given to the best college football player in the U.S.

ESPN decided to get an unusual take on who should win the award by asking a group of kids their thoughts on the matter. The children each had their own standards and preferences, and it was very entertaining to see how they broke down each candidate.

It sounded like the kids had reached a consensus at the end, but one of the youngsters was tough to impress. 

[ESPNU, h/tUSA Today's FTW

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Nick O'Leary Wins 2014 Mackey Award: Latest Details, Analysis and Reaction

Florida State senior Nick O'Leary has won the 2014 John Mackey Award as the most outstanding tight end in college football.

The selection committee confirmed the decision:

O'Leary played a key role in the nation's 14th-ranked passing game. He's posted career-high totals in receptions (47) and receiving yards (614). He also has six touchdowns, one of his high mark with potentially two more games to play.

David Hale of ESPN notes his overall touchdown numbers rank quite favorable in ACC history:

The standout senior, who's also improved a blocker during his time with the Seminoles, helped lead the team to an unbeaten 13-0 mark. It was good enough to earn them a spot in the first College Football Playoff.

O'Leary and Florida State will return to the field on New Year's Day to face Oregon in the semifinals. That gives the tight end at least a little time to celebrate his Mackey Award triumph.

 

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Josh Sweat to Florida State: Seminoles Land 5-Star DE Prospect

One of the great prizes in the 2015 recruiting class has made Florida State very happy. Josh Sweat, a 5-star defensive end from Chesapeake, Virginia, officially announced his intentions to join the Seminoles. Oscar Smith High School, which Sweat attends, announced the news:

Ryan Barrow of 247 Sports reported how Sweat announced his decision:  

Despite playing in the heart of ACC country, Smith's recruiting took him to a number of powerhouse schools in the SEC, Big Ten and Pac-12. The star defensive end's list included Virginia Tech, Florida State, Georgia, Ohio State, Oregon and Texas A&M, among others. 

The wide-spread interest was not at all surprising considering 247Sports' composite rankings list Sweat as the top weak-side defensive end recruit in the country and the No. 2 overall prospect in the nation.

Adding an elite talent like Sweat gives Florida State a huge leg up on the recruiting competition for 2015. He also comes with an added bonus, as other elite recruits could decide to follow suit hoping to catch lightning in a bottle. 

Steven Lorenz of 247Sports (subscription required) said that Sweat was generating the kind of buzz rarely seen for a defensive end in this recruiting cycle. 

Sweat currently has a somewhat wide open recruitment, with programs like Florida State, Virginia Tech, Ohio State and Georgia all considered legitimate threats for his services. He is currently ranked 6th overall in the country and is considered one of the top defensive end prospects of the past few recruiting cycles.

Of course, the highest-profile defensive end to come out of high school in the last five years is Jadeveon Clowney. He committed to South Carolina, becoming one of the key players in Steve Spurrier's tenure at the school and opening the Gamecocks up to new venues previously unavailable before becoming the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft.

Comparing anyone, even a player as talented as Sweat, to Clowney is going to lead to disappointment. Few defensive linemen have as much natural ability as the former South Carolina standout. 

Sweat is certainly not lacking for ability on the field, though. He's a monster human being at 6'5", 237 pounds, and can get stronger as he adds muscle and fills out his frame. Speed is also a weapon for the young man, as he runs a 4.50 40-yard dash and can close as well as any lineman in this class. 

Having an edge-rusher with Sweat's explosiveness is vital to success in this new era of football. More and more teams are gearing up to stretch the field, so getting to the quarterback is more critical than ever. 

Giving Sweat even more value is the fact he comes off the weak side (left) of the line and can hit most quarterbacks on the blind side, allowing him easier access to force fumbles and attack the running game. 

Sweat is a special, unique talent who can make an immediate impact for his new team, so don't be surprised if he's on the field next season instead of redshirting as a freshman. 

 

All recruiting info courtesy of 247Sports

 

If you want to talk sports, hit me up on Twitter. 

 

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5-Star DE Josh Sweat Commits to FSU, What Impact Will He Have in Tallahassee?

Defensive end Josh Sweat has made his decision on where he will play college football.

The 5-star recruit in the 2015 class, per 247Sports, has committed to Florida State.

Bleacher Report College Football Analyst Michael Felder reacts to the decision and discusses Sweat's potential impact for the Seminoles.

What type of effect will the talented defensive player have for Florida State?

Check out the video and let us know!

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J.T. Barrett Involved in Alleged Domestic Dispute: Latest Details and Comments

Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett was reportedly involved in a domestic disturbance early Tuesday that required a police response. The redshirt freshman and his girlfriend, Alexandria Barrett-Clark, provided officers with different accounts of what occurred in his apartment.

Sean Rowe of WSYX in Columbus reports Barrett told police he asked Barrett-Clark to leave before things briefly became physical:

In the report, Barrett says a woman identified as his girlfriend—Alexandria Barrett-Clark—refused to leave his apartment after he asked her to do so. Barrett says she 'ran at him and pushed him.'

Barrett says Barrett-Clark hit him. In the report, he say he pushed her away in self-defense, which caused her to fall to a bed. Barrett says he again asked her to leave. Again, he says, she refused.

However, Barrett-Clark said she was attacked before escaping to call for help:

She told police that Barrett confronted her in his bedroom and 'choked her on the bed.' She said Barrett used his forearm to apply pressure to her neck before taking her phone away from her.

Barrett-Clark told police she managed to get away from Barrett and call police.

The police report stated neither individual had visible injuries or sought further medical attention. No arrests were made, and no charges were filed as a result. The issue has since been sent to the prosecutor's office.

Barrett was one of college football's breakout stars this season. He racked up 45 total touchdowns to help lead the Buckeyes to a 12-1 record and a berth in the inaugural College Football Playoff. Ohio State is next slated to play on New Year's Day in a semifinal clash against Alabama.

Barrett, the second-string QB who took over after Braxton Miller was lost for the year with an injury in the preseason, was already going to be unavailable for that game due to an ankle injury suffered against Michigan. Third-string QB Cardale Jones will line up under center versus the Crimson Tide.

So far, there's no word on when the prosecutor's office will make a final decision based on the evidence.

 

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Inside the Football Factory That's Saving Kids from the Streets

Eastern Christian Academy in Elkton, Maryland, was founded three years ago by David Sills IV, a prominent real estate developer in nearby Delaware. While ECA might seem like your typical Christian high school, it is anything but.

Go inside a school of 52 students (all of whom are on the football team) with a completely online curriculum, no textbooks, no teachers and one of the most brutal football schedules in the nation.

Discover how lives are impacted when faith, football and education mix in a unique formula that develops young men on the field and in life. 

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Felder's Awards: Which College Football Quarterbacks Balled out in 2014?

The quarterback position is arguably the most important in all of football. The 2015 season was chock-full of outstanding quarterback play. 

Bleacher Report College Football Analyst Michael Felder dishes out his top QB awards for all of the top signal-callers in the nation.

Which QB stood out the most?

Check out the video, and let us know! 

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Georgia Football: Belk Bowl Gives Bobo a Chance for Payback vs. Grantham

The Belk Bowl may not be the dream destination for Georgia fans frustrated by squandered playoff chances, but the presence of former Bulldog defensive coordinator Todd Grantham on the opposing sideline offers one of bowl season's more compelling subplots.

The intrigue transcends mere casual familiarity, however, as Georgia's matchup with Louisville gives Mike Bobo, the Dawgs' long-time offensive coordinator, an opportunity to match wits with his old counterpart.

Grantham's time at Georgia was tumultuous, to be sure, but has now been revised unjustly as a categorical four-year failure.  In fairness, his 2011 defense finished among the strongest units in the nation and his 2012 team hit its stride late in the year.  But throughout Grantham's tenure there seemed to be a misalignment between talent and on-field results.  And it could be argued that disappointing defensive play adversely impacted Bobo more than anyone.

While Grantham's inaugural season at Georgia (2010) was a year of adjustment for both sides of the ball, Bobo's offense began to find its stride in 2011 and was hitting record-setting levels by 2012 and 2013.  But despite a string of talented running backs and Aaron Murray, the most accomplished quarterback in SEC history, Georgia never quite put it all together.

The most common denominator of recurring setbacks was disappointing defensive performances.

In 2011, Georgia bookended a 10-game winning streak by opening with two losses on either end of the season.  In each of those four defeats Georgia allowed 33 or more points.

A strong 2012 season saw two losses for Georgia, both featuring more than 30 points allowed to opposition.  And while most fans remember that year's SEC championship for a Bulldog drive that came up just a few yards short, it was the defense that put Georgia in a position to lose.  

Alabama racked up 512 total yards that day with 350 coming on the ground.  The Dawgs defense had no answer for running backs Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon, and Grantham's secondary got burned for a 45-yard game-winning touchdown pass with just over three minutes remaining.

And though injuries on offense and youth on defense defined Georgia in 2013, four of the Bulldogs' five losses came after giving up more than 30 points.

Of course, all of those points can't be blamed solely on Grantham.  Special teams play was horrendous, particularly in 2013, and yielded more points than anyone cares to admit.  Additionally, a few of those losses—such as the LSU game in 2011 and South Carolina in 2012—came as the defense got no help from Bobo's offense. 

But that coin is also two-sided.  In 2012, Georgia had to score 51 points to claim a victory against Tennessee as the Volunteers put up 44 points on Grantham's porous defense.  The LSU game in 2013 required 44 points from Bobo's offense as the defense yielded 41.

And while these instances may not have ever crystallized as a pattern, it's worth noting the varying fates of Georgia's two coordinators.

Last December, Georgia head coach Mark Richt had to address speculation surrounding Grantham's future.  "Everybody should be back," he told Chip Towers of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution before adding, "continuity is a good thing for Georgia."

Ultimately, Grantham was not back.  He left of his own volition for a job at Louisville last January.  But it merits noting that just a month earlier many felt his future was unsecured and Georgia made no noticeable effort to keep him when the Cardinals came calling.  Further, one would be hard-pressed to find a section of Bulldog fans who would trade current coordinator Jeremy Pruitt for Grantham.

On the other side of the ball, Mark Richt isn't fielding many questions about Bobo's future as the Bulldogs are on pace to break his own school record for scoring offense.  Bobo's unit has scored 40 or more points 20 times over the past three seasons.  That type of offensive assault was previously unheard of at Georgia.

Undoubtedly, the Belk Bowl will be a call to arms for both coordinators.  Don't be surprised to see Bobo pull out a fuller playbook than normal to exact some revenge.  One victory won't negate a hand full of prior losses, but it might make a statement.

 

Unless otherwise noted, all quotes obtained firsthand and all stats courtesy of sports-reference.com.

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Fiesta Bowl 2014: TV Schedule, Odds and Predictions for Boise State vs. Arizona

The Boise State football team could probably get used to this whole Fiesta Bowl thing.

After all, the Broncos are 2-0 in this game and won the 2007 Fiesta Bowl over Oklahoma in one of the most famous finishes in the history of college football. One hook-and-ladder, Statue of Liberty and marriage proposal later, and the Broncos captured the hearts of the nation with an upset of the Sooners.

Boise State will attempt to recapture that Fiesta Bowl magic against another Power Five conference opponent in Arizona, which is fresh off a blowout loss to Oregon in the Pac-12 Championship Game.

Here is a look at the essential information for the game.

 

Boise State vs. Arizona

Date: Dec. 31

Time: 4 p.m. ET

Where: Glendale, Arizona, University of Phoenix Stadium

TV: ESPN

Live Stream: Watch ESPN 

Odds: Arizona -3, via Odds Shark on Wednesday morning at 2 a.m. ET

 

Preview/Prediction

Boise State coach Bryan Harsin recognized his team’s history in Glendale, via KTVB.com:

"Playing on that stage has been very good for us. Playing on that stage is something that every team in the country wants to be able to do. We're very fortunate to be in this position and we're proud to go back and represent Boise State in the Fiesta Bowl."

While that may be the case, the Broncos have not beaten a Power Five conference team since a 2012 bowl matchup with Washington and are a disappointing 1-5 in their last five tries. What’s more, they are 0-4 in their last four games against ranked squads.

However, Boise State has plenty of momentum on its side after overcoming a disappointing 3-2 start with eight consecutive wins and a Mountain West championship.

Now it has to deal with an Arizona offense that has been prolific all season, save for two high-profile losses against UCLA and Oregon. The Wildcats feature a balanced attack that averaged 277.7 passing yards per game and 183.8 rushing yards per game, and Anu Solomon threw for 3,458 yards and announced his presence to the nation in the regular-season win over Oregon.

Unfortunately for Wildcats fans, Solomon and the offense went missing in action in the Pac-12 Championship Game against those same Ducks.

On paper, Boise State’s weakness is its defense. It finished 65th in the country in points allowed per game, and the Wildcats will likely try to establish the running game early behind Solomon and freshman Nick Wilson, who ran for 1,289 yards and 15 touchdowns on the season.

If they can successfully do that, it will force Boise State to respect the play-action pass and open things up downfield for Cayleb Jones and the rest of the Arizona receiving corps against the same Broncos defense that allowed 49 points to 4-8 New Mexico.

Arizona is not the only that features a balanced offensive attack in this game, though.

Boise State finished 26th in passing, 31st in rushing and ninth in scoring offense nationally and boasts one of the nation’s best overall running backs in Jay Ajayi. Ajayi was third in the nation with 2,225 all-purpose yards and has 25 rushing touchdowns on the season. That is the second most in one year in the history of the Mountain West.

Quarterback Grant Hedrick is also more than capable of hurting a defense that focuses too much on Ajayi, as evidenced by his 3,387 passing yards.

However, Arizona counters with arguably the top defensive player in the nation in linebacker Scooby Wright. Wright terrorized opposing offenses all season and finished with 14 sacks and 28 tackles for loss. 

College GameDay noted that he earned some national recognition for his season, while Kirk Bohls of the Austin American-Statesman commended Wright for overcoming expectations:

Wright's most memorable play came when he made the game-winning sack and strip of quarterback Marcus Mariota on Oregon’s final drive in Arizona’s dramatic regular-season victory over the Ducks.

While it is easy to focus on the last time college football fans saw Arizona when discussing the Wildcats’ Fiesta Bowl prospects, plenty of teams have gotten blown out by Mariota and Oregon. That doesn’t make the earlier win over the Ducks any less impressive.

Ultimately, this Arizona team has proved itself against better competition than Boise State all season. With wins over Oregon, Utah and Arizona State and a heartbreaking loss to USC that would have been a win had the Wildcats’ game-winning field-goal attempt not sailed wide, Arizona impressed against ranked teams on a number of occasions.

Boise State, on the other hand, has recently fallen short in that department.

It had the solid win over Colorado State but got blown out in its only contest against a Power Five conference team this season when it played Ole Miss.

Wright and the Arizona defense will keep the Boise State attack in check, while Solomon and the Arizona offense will find the end zone early and often against a vulnerable Broncos defense. Boise State will have to try again next season in its quest to beat another Power Five conference team.

Prediction: Arizona 38, Boise State 24

 

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Orange Bowl 2014: TV Info, Odds, Predictions for Mississippi State-Georgia Tech

Just add Mississippi State to Georgia Tech's tab. 

The Yellow Jackets are preparing for the Bulldogs and the 2014 Orange Bowl in what will be their fourth straight game against a ranked foe and third consecutive game against a Top 10 opponent. Georgia Tech knocked off Clemson and Georgia but lost a heartbreaker in the ACC Championship Game to Florida State.

This season's Orange Bowl is a fascinating matchup because both teams were unranked at the start of the season. However, Mississippi State climbed all the way to No. 1 while Georgia Tech reached its conference title game and almost knocked off the defending champs when it got there.

Here is a look at the essential information for the showdown.

 

Mississippi State vs. Georgia Tech

Date: Dec. 31

Time: 8 p.m. ET

Where: Sun Life Stadium, Miami Gardens, Florida

TV: ESPN

Live Stream: WatchESPN 

Odds: Mississippi State -7.5 (via Odds Shark, as of Tuesday at 11:30 p.m. ET)

 

Preview/Prediction

As with any bowl that isn't directly tied to a potential national championship, the motivation factor has to be considered.

Mississippi State was potentially one win away from reaching the College Football Playoff but lost to Ole Miss in the season finale. Georgia Tech is also certainly dealing with some disappointment after losing to Florida State in ACC Championship Game, but it was never a real threat to reach the Top Four.

A selection committee bowl has always been the ceiling for the Yellow Jackets. 

Alex Scarborough of ESPN.com discussed Mississippi State's potential motivation heading into the Orange Bowl:

As we saw throughout the season, Mississippi State's psyche does make a difference. It did in the run-up to being ranked No. 1, and it did on the downslide out of the playoff picture. So which team will show up in the bowl game? Will it be the one full of two-star recruits doing everything it can to prove itself? Or will it be the team that thinks it should be in a bigger, better game? That's up to coach Dan Mullen and the rest of the staff to decide. After losing so badly to Ole Miss, there should be a sense of wanting to show that they are better than that. But that was the case entering the Egg Bowl too.

The first thing Mississippi State will have to worry about in this matchup is Georgia Tech's unique triple-option offense. The Bulldogs have not faced a similar system all season, and it is impossible to completely prepare for Georgia Tech's precision, misdirection and speed.

The Yellow Jackets were No. 3 in the country with 333.6 rushing yards per game this year and found the end zone on the ground 41 times.

Quarterback Justin Thomas led the team with 965 rushing yards while Zach Laskey added 788 rushing yards of its own. Synjyn Days and Charles Perkins are also formidable threats on the ground.

What's more, Georgia Tech didn't just rack up those numbers against weak competition. It finished with 331 rushing yards against Florida State and 399 against Georgia.

Mississippi State's front seven is the strength of its defense, though. It allowed a measly 11 rushing touchdowns all season and gave up 3.7 yards per carry on the year, per cfbstats.com. The Bulldogs have the strength to stuff the middle against the option and the speed to funnel outside plays back to the inside.

The problem is, that defensive production came against mostly traditional rushing attacks in the SEC, and Georgia Tech's triple-option style has given stout defensive fronts fits all year (see the Florida State and Georgia games).

Mississippi State will counter with quarterback Dak Prescott, who wowed Bulldogs fans with 24 passing touchdowns, 13 rushing touchdowns and 327.9 yards of total offense per game.

Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson is aware of Prescott's presence already, according to Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press, via ABCNews.com:

"Everybody knows about Dak Prescott and what he's done," Johnson said. "I know that they were ranked No. 1 in the country for about three or four weeks there. Tremendous team, some outstanding individual players and a lot of respect for what they've done there."

Prescott was the main reason the Bulldogs finished 15th in the nation in points per game at 37.2 although they struggled in three of their last four SEC games. Mississippi State finished with 17 points against Ole Miss, 20 against Alabama and 17 against Arkansas. Georgia Tech's defense is vulnerable, though, and finished 52nd in the country in points allowed per game.

Prescott and running back Josh Robinson should get the running game going and give the Bulldogs an early lead. Mississippi State was 20th in the nation in rushing yards per game, and Georgia Tech allowed 5.1 yards per carry this season.

That early lead will be a problem for the Yellow Jackets because they are not built to come from behind with the passing game, especially now that leading receiver DeAndre Smelter is out with a torn ACL.

What's more, this game will fly by with two of the nation's best rushing attacks going at it, which will keep the clock running. Mississippi State's early lead and the ability of Prescott and Robinson to keep the ball away from Georgia Tech's dominant rushing offense will be the key to the game.

The Yellow Jackets will have to rely on the passing attack down the stretch, and Mississippi State's defense will come through with a final stop. 

Prediction: Mississippi State 31, Georgia Tech 28

 

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Cotton Bowl 2015: TV Schedule, Odds and Predictions for Michigan State vs Baylor

The No. 5 Baylor Bears didn't get the coveted College Football Playoff spot that they vied so desperately for, but they received quite the runners-up prize in being able to face Michigan State in the Cotton Bowl.

Head coach Art Briles and his Baylor team bounced back from an early-season loss to West Virginia and finished 2014 on a tear. Depending on how they took the news on Selection Sunday, they will either enter AT&T Stadium disheartened or with a massive chip on their shoulder.

The Spartans missed out on an Orange Bowl appearance thanks to Mississippi State jumping them in the final CFP rankings, but with its only losses to Ohio State and Oregon on the year, Michigan State will be insistent upon making a statement.

Let's break down a full preview and take a look at what you need to know for the Cotton Bowl.

 

What: 2015 Cotton Bowl

When: Thursday, January 1, 2015

Where: AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas

Start Time (ET): 12:30 p.m.

TV: ESPN

Live Stream: WatchESPN

Odds (via Odds Shark): Baylor -3, over/under 70.5

 

Cotton Bowl Preview and Prediction

Feeling a bit of despair along with the undoubted jubilation of making a New Year's Six bowl would simply be natural for the Baylor Bears.

After all, they had every reason to believe that a season-ending victory over then-No. 9 Kansas State at home would be enough to supplant TCU for the fourth and final CFP spot. And while they did end up jumping their fellow Big 12 co-champions, Ohio State's dominant showing against Wisconsin allowed the Buckeyes to sneak in in their place.

Being invited to the Cotton Bowl is no small achievement, however, which Briles alluded to, per KCEN's Nick Canizales:

It wouldn't be surprising at all, however, for Baylor to come in ready to prove itself. The Bears have seemingly been counted out ever since a loss to West Virginia ended their unbeaten hopes, and still they finished the season immensely strong despite that. 

Baylor's offense has been impossible to stop in that span, scoring at least 38 points in every game since the Oct. 18 defeat. Bryce Petty's offensive dominance has led to Baylor being the No. 1 scoring offense in college football.

It's rare for the Big 12 side to go up against as formidable a defense as Michigan State, who has allowed a 12th-best 19.8 points against per game. Baylor has only gone up against one scoring defense (TCU) currently in the top 25 in that regard.

Not to be lost in translation is the offensive prowess of Michigan State, which boasts burly running back Jeremy Langford and quarterback Connor Cook, per Cotton Bowl Classic:

The Baylor defense has rarely gone up against such a physical offense but showed in a big win over Kansas State that it can stuff running lanes and force teams into passing situations. If there's one place where Cook has struggled, it's in finding success when the run game is stalemated.

And the Spartans' lone weakness on defense could lead to their demise against Petty's treacherous arsenal of receivers. In Michigan State's two losses, it allowed 300 or more passing yards in each contest.

Petty won't torch the Spartan secondary all game long but will generate some big plays to get Baylor the quick points it has been living off of. It will be enough to build a sizable lead over a Michigan State team that won't give up.

The Bears will need all of the points they can muster early in what should become a slugfest late. But Michigan State has proven unable to complete late comebacks against the two elite teams it has faced, and some late offensive success won't be enough.

Prediction: Baylor 34, Michigan State 26

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Peach Bowl 2014: TV Schedule, Updated Odds and Predictions for Ole Miss vs. TCU

Two of the surprise stories in the college football season will battle in the Peach Bowl, as No. 6 TCU and No. 9 Ole Miss are set to go at it in the Georgia Dome.

There's no doubting both sides would rather be playing in 2015 in one of the College Football Playoff semifinals, but it's also safe to say both teams vastly exceeded expectations. The Rebels emerged as a Top Five squad for much of 2014 with two of the most impressive wins—over Alabama and Mississippi State—that you'll see, while the Horned Frogs emerged following a 4-8 season to lose just once—to No. 5 Baylor—in 2014.

A championship won't be on the line come New Year's Eve in Atlanta, but a chance to make a national statement and enter 2015 on a high note will result in a must-watch affair. Let's take a look at everything you need to know.

 

What: 2014 Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl

When: Wednesday, December 31

Where: Georgia Dome, Atlanta

Start Time (ET): 12:30 p.m. 

TV: ESPN

Live Stream: WatchESPN

Odds (via Odds Shark): TCU -3, over/under 56

 

Peach Bowl Preview and Prediction

When it comes to matching up one of the most high-octane offenses in college football with arguably the most ferocious defense, the Peach Bowl couldn't have done any better if it tried.

There's no doubt that the mouth-watering matchup of TCU's offense against the Rebels defense will be the one to watch entering Atlanta. The Horned Frogs score at will with Trevone Boykin at the helm, and Ole Miss has proved impossible to score on against the most prolific SEC offenses.

Patrick Schmidt of Fansided.com noted the two units' prowess:

Slowing down that TCU offense will have to be priority No. 1 for the Rebels, who will be going up against a team that has scored 30 points or more in every game this season. Boykin stayed hot as the regular season came to a close, scoring eight touchdowns in the last two games. Oh, and one was a receiving score.

While Boykin can undoubtedly air it out to deep threats Josh Doctson and Kolby Listenbee, a formidable run game with Boykin and Aaron Green keeps defenses packing the box. 

The Clarion-Ledger's Hugh Kellenberger noted Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze ironically started studying up on TCU's offense months ago:

It's safe to say that TCU could have used some early preparation for Ole Miss as well. Two of the Horned Frogs' last three games have come against scoring defenses outside of the top 100, while the Rebels give up an NCAA-best 13.8 points per contest.

And when the Rebels offense has been on point, it's been impossibly tough to beat. The team is 7-0 when scoring 34 or more points but 2-3 otherwise. Bo Wallace's play has swung from unstoppable to ineffective, and Ole Miss will need the former to compete in the Peach Bowl.

The Rebels should also come in highly motivated after a season-ending Egg Bowl win over Mississippi State propelled them to a New Year's Six bowl. The Horned Frogs won't be lacking in energy either, head coach Gary Patterson promised as he shared some thoughts with Scout.com's Ben Garrett:

TCU's defense is battle-tested coming out of the high-scoring Big 12, but it also rarely faces the athletes that Ole Miss will feature. Even without star wideout Laquon Treadwell in the fold, Vince Sanders should help to take the top off the defense if Wallace is firing.

The passing game has always been there for Ole Miss, but a rediscovered run game should keep the offense rolling. Jalen Walton showed his star caliber against the Bulldogs with 148 yards and a touchdown, and Jordan Wilkins is a more-than-serviceable second option.

Boykin will find the holes in the Ole Miss secondary, but TCU will struggle to continue establishing the run against the Rebels' stingy front seven. That will allow Wallace to air it out and get Ole Miss an early lead, which it won't relinquish despite a feverish comeback from the Horned Frogs.

Prediction: Ole Miss 34, TCU 30

 

Note: Team stats and rankings courtesy of CFBStats.com unless otherwise noted.

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College Football Playoff 2014-15: TV Schedule, Latest Odds and Projections

Many chat about how long the four teams in the College Football Playoff have to prepare, but so too do bettors who want to take on Las Vegas in their own head-to-head showdown.

The season was wild, to say the least. Upsets were the name of the game each and every week, which is why the nation came very close to the notion that a two-loss team might just be worth a CFP bid (but only if they come from a conference that has a title game, folks).

Whether or not bettors found it difficult to make financial headway on college football odds is tough to say, but one final redemption tour rests in the confines of the inaugural CFP.

The early lines are juicy. Those hungry for an advantage against the house need to get ahead of the game.

 

2015 College Football Playoffs Info and Odds

Odds via Odds Shark as of 8 a.m. ET on Dec. 10.

 

Early Odds Strategy 

Underdog to Bet: Ohio State(+10)

Perhaps Las Vegas buys stock in the notion that the SEC will outclass the Big Ten in every way. 

Or maybe it believes the fact that the Ohio State Buckeyes using a third-string quarterback is the ultimate factor in the team's showdown with the Alabama Crimson Tide.

Either way, the current spread is just too big.

Ohio State did not get to the CFP because of any singular part. The loss of J.T. Barrett hurts, but this is a team that lost Braxton Miller and kept moving right along. It did it again in the Big Ten Championship Game thanks to the efforts of sophomore Cardale Jones, who tossed three touchdowns in the triumph.

Urban Meyer's scheme insulates any quarterback who gets under center, right along with back Ezekiel Elliott, who has 1,402 yards and 12 scores on the year. A complementary defense helps, as defensive end Joey Bosa (13.5 sacks) might be the best defensive player in the country.

None of this is to suggest Alabama will not win.

The Crimson Tide have more experience and made it through a tougher schedule in the SEC thanks to encounters with Texas A&M, LSU, Mississippi State, Auburn and Missouri.

Alabama coach Nick Saban is not one to take Meyer and the Buckeyes lightly, either, as captured by ESPN.com's Alex Scarborough:

I have a tremendous amount of respect for Urban. And we've done some things, the ESPN games and stuff, together, and I consider him a good friend and certainly have a tremendous amount of personal respect for the kind of professional he is and the kind of coach he is and the kind of programs he's had, the great teams that he's had at Florida.

I know that we haven't had much of an opportunity to look at Ohio State yet, but we certainly have a tremendous amount of respect for what their team has accomplished this year and know that they'll be a very, very wellcoached team.

There is no doubt Saban will have his team ready to go. Quarterback Blake Sims is more mature than the player who was on the field way back near the tail end of last summer. His 3,250 yards and 26 scores can attest to that.

As great as the Ohio State defense is, it will have no answer for Heisman Trophy finalist Amari Cooper, who has 115 catches for 1,656 yards and 14 scores on the year. The star receiver makes a habit of major production in big games, as noted by his 13 grabs for 224 yards and three scores in the Iron Bowl.

When it comes to bets against the spread, feel free to capitalize on archaic ways of thought when it comes to conference versus conference showdowns. Ohio State is in the CFP for a reason, after all. If the committee thought the Buckeyes stood no chance, there would be a Big 12 team in their place.

Prediction: Alabama 24, Ohio State 21

 

Over/Under to Bet: Oregon vs. FSU (71)

Look, folks know Oregon for a high-flying attack. Florida State's Jameis Winston is a big name.

But more than 70 points?

One must understand how and why Oregon will attack Florida State to know why that number is out of the question.

The Florida State defense allows just 23.0 points per game on average but struggles to get off the field. Boston College and Georgia Tech rushing for a minimum of 240 yards and controlling the pace of the game can attest to that.

Even worse, it is hard to know just how healthy the Seminoles will be by January. A recent note from coach Jimbo Fisher includes some of the most prominent names of the unit.

"You had [defensive tackle] Eddie [Goldman] out, you had [starting cornerback Ronald] Darby out, you had Terrance Smith playing on one leg,” Fisher said, per Brendan Sonnone of the Orlando Sentinel. “We were banged, bruised everywhere.”

This seems like it means an epic point total for quarterback Marcus Mariota and Co., right? Wrong—it means the Ducks would rather grind it out on the ground with freshman breakout star Royce Freeman (1,299 yards and 16 scores). That keeps Winston off the field.

Folks know Winston is in the middle of a down season with 3,559 yards and 24 touchdowns to 17 picks. However, he remains as dangerous as ever—three scores and 309 yards against the Yellow Jackets came with just nine incompletions.

Winston cannot burn the Ducks if he is on the sideline. The offense cannot pull off its late-game feats if a hobbled defense remains on the field, hand on hips and gasping for air.

When it comes to this over/under, the conventional train of thought is what will get bettors burnt. An offensive shootout is what most want to happen. With money on the line, though, wants mean little in the face of logic.

Prediction: Oregon 36, Florida State 28 

 

Statistics and info courtesy of ESPN unless otherwise specified.

 

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