NCAA Football

West Virginia vs. TCU: Live Score and Highlights

The No. 5 TCU Horned Frogs (7-0, 4-0) are back in action on Thursday, hosting Big 12 rival West Virginia (3-3, 0-3) in Fort Worth, Texas.

Led by Heisman Trophy candidate Trevone Boykin at quarterback, the Frogs average 50 points per game—second in the country. Boykin has completed 66 percent of his passes for 2,539 yards and 25 touchdowns in addition to rushing for 440 yards and five additional scores.

Statistically, TCU is even better than it was a year ago.

On the other side, West Virginia limps into this game as the loser of three straight. No one has faced a more daunting schedule this October than the Mountaineers. After starting the season 3-0, WVU lost to Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Baylor.

In the process, West Virginia lost several key contributors to injury—most notably standout safety Karl Joseph.

The last three meetings between these two schools have come down to the final possession. In 2014, the Horned Frogs eked out a 31-30 victory in Morgantown.

You can watch the game live on Fox Sports 1 at 7:30 p.m. ET, but make sure to stay right here for the latest news, notes, analysis and the best postgame coverage around.

You can find the official box score at NCAA.com.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Predicting Outcome for the Remaining Major College Football Rivalry Games

November is rivalry month in college football, when several of the country's greatest grudge matches are waged down the stretch. As in most years, several of these games figure to have a major impact on division, conference and playoff races, but even if one or both teams are having a down year, the intensity of these rivalry games remains at a high level.

Being able to knock off a rival can often make or break a season; doing so in the midst of a run toward a title is an added bonus. Because of this, the passion you'll see in these games will be at an all-time high and should make for great competition.

We've picked out some of the top remaining rivalry games that will be held over the next six weeks, including the annual Army-Navy game in mid-December, and will break down how they should play out.

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Paul Wulff Joins Iowa State Football Coaching Staff: Latest Details and Reaction

Former Washington State head coach Paul Wulff is returning to a collegiate sideline. Wulff has agreed to become a volunteer coach under Iowa State head coach Paul Rhoads, according to Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports.  

The hiring comes days after Rhoads fired offensive coordinator Mark Mangino following the Cyclones' 2-5 start. It's a situation that had been festering for a while, as Rhoads' desire for a run-first offense clashed with Mangino's pass-heavy system. 

“The things that we haven’t gotten on the same page with—it’s been ongoing for several weeks,” Rhoads said, per Randy Peterson of the Des Moines Register. “We’ve been trying to work that out. In the end, we could not come to a conclusion together—and he decided not to accept the direction that we wanted to go.”

Bleacher Report's Bryan Fischer isn't sold on the move:

Wulff, 48, most recently served as South Florida's offensive coordinator and offensive line coach in 2014. He was fired after a 4-8 season in which the Bulls ranked 120th in yards per game and tied for 119th in points per game. Before arriving in South Florida, he was an offensive assistant under Jim Harbaugh with the San Francisco 49ers—a job he landed after being fired at Washington State.

The Cougars went 9-40 in Wulff's four seasons as head coach, and he left with the lowest winning percentage in school history. He previously had a semi-successful eight-year run as the head coach at Eastern Washington, posting a 53-40 record that included three playoff appearances.

Based on his recent failures, though, it's hard to see Wulff coming in midseason and suddenly fixing all that ails Iowa State. The Cyclones have lost each of their last three games by three scores and play two of their next three games against ranked opponents.

It's not exactly an ideal situation.

 

Follow Tyler Conway (@tylerocnway22) on Twitter.

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Jhajuan Seales Arrested: Latest Details and Comments on Oklahoma State WR

Oklahoma State wide receiver Jhajuan Seales was arrested Sunday on charges of driving under the influence and open container, per Kyle Fredrickson of the Oklahoman.

No further details were given on what led to the arrest. Seales posted a $35 bond and was released after being booked on the two misdemeanor counts, per OColly.com.

A redshirt junior, this is Seales' second arrest for an alcohol-related offense since arriving in Stillwater. He and cornerback Juwan Offray were found asleep last year at a Whataburger restaurant and charged with public intoxication. At the time of his arrest, Seales' car was running.

“It was a learning experience I had to get over,” Seales said last year, per Fredrickson. “I paid my consequences and got back together with the team.”

Oklahoma State has not commented on the arrest. The Cowboys are scheduled to play this weekend at Texas Tech, so a decision regarding his status will likely be made before then.

Seales has made 12 receptions for 164 yards and one touchdown; he has at least one reception in each of Oklahoma State's seven games.

 

Follow Tyler Conway (@tylerconway22) on Twitter

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Most Important College Football Recruiting Visits of Week 9

The final weekend of October's college football slate presents another opportunity for America's premier prospects to examine campus environments. If you've ever journeyed to a university during Halloween weekend, you're well aware that few times of year create as much excitement among students. 

Compelling matchups and costumed fans take center stage, as several recruits are set to soak in the action. Here's a look at key visits scheduled for coveted players in different corners of the country.

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Odds on Next College Football Coach to Be Fired

Job security is at an all-time low in college football, with more than half of the 128 FBS schools undergoing a change of leadership at least once since 2013. And this turnover is seeping more and more into the middle of the season, as evidenced by a whopping eight jobs opening up since August thanks to resignations, retirements and firings.

Don't expect this to slow down anytime soon, not with the high-stakes nature of the sport and the current climate in which the need to get a jump on finding the next coach has made an in-season termination more common.

Of the eight FBS openings in 2015, five—Illinois, Maryland, Miami (Florida), North Texas and USC—were because of firings. And odds are we could see more before the regular season is through, followed by a rash of pink slips during the offseason.

Who's most likely to get sent packing next?

We've placed odds on the most likely candidates, updating their current situations and detailing what their futures hold. The coaches are listed alphabetically rather than in order of job security.

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Brandon Harris Is the Real Key to LSU's Playoff Hopes

The buzz is palpable, the hype is real and a collision is imminent.

LSU vs. Alabama. The Tigers vs. the Crimson Tide. Les Miles vs. Nick Saban.

For SEC West supremacy and perhaps a reservation in the College Football Playoff.

The two SEC heavyweights will square off in Tuscaloosa on Nov. 7 after taking this weekend off, in what will be the most important game of the SEC in 2015.

After all, it's the biggest hurdle standing in the way between the undefeated Tigers, one-loss Crimson Tide and a trip to Atlanta as SEC West champs.

While Tigers running back Leonard Fournette, the Crimson Tide's Derrick Henry and the vaunted Alabama front seven's quest to win the battle in the trenches against LSU's offensive line will all dominate headlines leading up to the showdown, the game's most important player—by far—is LSU quarterback Brandon Harris.

The true sophomore signal-caller from Bossier City, Louisiana, won the job this summer and has slowly progressed from a mystery into the weapon head coach Miles and offensive coordinator Cam Cameron needed him to become. 

He has thrown for over 200 yards in three straight games, thrown nine touchdowns and zero picks, has rushed for 136 yards and three touchdowns and has taken enough pressure off of Fournette to keep opposing defenses honest.

"He continues to improve," Miles said. "He's very accurate, very capable and understands where to throw it. A good throw is not good enough (for him) anymore. He wants to be very, very accurate. I like his improvement, his tenacity and his leadership around the team."

That last part of that quote is very important, because while it might seem like Fournette is the leader of this team, that quality was the biggest reason it took so long for Harris to ascend to the starting role.

He enrolled at LSU in January 2014 and immediately entered into a battle with Anthony Jennings, who got backup reps throughout the 2013 season until starter Zach Mettenberger was injured in the final game of the regular season.

Despite Jennings' struggles—he completed just 48.9 percent of his passes—Harris managed just one start on the season, a road loss to the Auburn Tigers in early October.

After a battle in spring, Harris ascended to the starting role due in part to Jennings' brief suspension, but mostly due to his progression as a leader of the team.

"There's no way you can be a leader without being a really quality participant," Miles said. "You have to go onto the field and make plays, have to care and have to want. Brandon Harris has that. His leadership has grown by leaps and bounds."

That growth on and off the field has been huge for LSU because now the offense is balanced after more than a season of uncertainty.

Harris has tossed eight completions of more than 30 yards, which is tied for sixth in the conference and more than Alabama starting quarterback Jake Coker and Georgia's Greyson Lambert. That threat, which is due in part to the emergence of Malachi Dupre opposite Travin Dural, has the attention of opposing coaches.

"They've made more explosive plays in the passing game," Alabama's Saban said. "Their receivers have really played well, and the quarterback has made some really good plays. That's given them a lot more balance and has made them a lot more difficult to defend."

Fournette is awesome, but so is Alabama's front seven. When the unstoppable force meets the immovable object next week in Tuscaloosa, that will put the pressure on Harris to be the difference in the game.

After a slow start to his career, he's peaking at the right time.

If he can clear the Alabama hurdle, it will give himself and his team plenty of confidence as they hit the home stretch that includes games against Arkansas, Ole Miss, Texas A&M and potentially an SEC Championship Game on Dec. 5.

Fournette is the star in Baton Rouge, but if LSU is going to make a playoff run, Harris has to be its MVP.

 

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.

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The Chaos Team College Football Needs to Pay Attention to

When you go home this evening, I want you to have “the talk” with your children.

This won’t be easy, but their innocent ears need to hear it. They deserve to hear it. You can’t put this off any longer; now is the time.

Try to map out the words on the way home. It’ll flow better this way. Be firm, but not unsettling. Be thoughtful, but not befuddling. Be the parent you’ve always hoped you’d be in situations such as these. The most impactful conversation of your life is at your doorstep.

You can do this. I know you can.

It’s time for you to talk with your children about undefeated Iowa—the fly in the College Football Playoff ointment.

Welcome to a world where Iowa is without a loss two months into the college football season.

The schedule has been unquestionably favorable. The style points are not exactly stacked neatly in a robust pile. This isn’t Ohio State. This isn’t Baylor. But less than a week before the release of the first College Football Playoff standings, Iowa undeniably finds itself on the outskirts of the conversation, whether you believe it belongs there or not. Smell that sweet, succulent air.

This is news to Kirk Ferentz. Not the fact that his team is 7-0; he’s well aware of that. But just a few short days ago, Iowa’s head coach learned, through a press conference, that the selection committee will unveil its first Top 25 next Tuesday.

He also still has no plans to watch or DVR the festivities.

“We haven’t talked much about it, but these kids aren’t dumb,” Ferentz told Bleacher Report earlier this week. “I can’t imagine there’s a team in our league that doesn’t want to play in the championship game.”

This dream would have sounded foolish back in August. Having lost five of its final seven games last season, Iowa entered 2015 with minimal expectations. One could argue that rock bottom had arrived. The program said goodbye to the nation’s best offensive lineman. It lost an abundance of meaningful snaps.

Even through the wins, there have been losses. Defensive end Drew Ott, the Hawkeyes’ best player, is out for the year with a torn ACL. Running back Jordan Canzeri, the offense’s most dynamic weapon, is still hobbled with an ankle injury.

The offensive line has been an elaborate game of duck, duck, goose. The starting quarterback, C.J. Beathard, has spent the better part of the last month moving with a pronounced limp. And still, zero losses.

The bye week arrived just in time. Well, almost.

“True confession,” Ferentz said. “I thought we needed it the week prior. I thought we might have pushed a little too far going to Chicago. The guys really came through.”

In the 40-10 road win over Northwestern in Week 7, Ferentz watched sophomore running back Akrum Wadley visit the end zone four times. Coming into the game, Wadley had logged eight carries all season.

It’s been that type of year. “Next man up” is a tired and clichéd philosophy, but it’s been adopted in Iowa City. It has not always been pretty or easy on the eyes, but it has come together. Against Northwestern, it really came together.

After the win, Ferentz wanted his players to get away with a week off. Even he decompressed some, spending last Saturday at his granddaughter’s birthday party before doing some evening recruiting.

Before his team shut things down for a few days, the usually reserved head coach delivered a surprising message.

“I encouraged them to think and dream big for a couple of days,” Ferentz said. He then couldn’t help but laugh before finishing the statement. “I don’t want them to think I’m a tyrant.”

There’s something deeper to this sound bite—a movement that has garnered traction over the past month. Suddenly, after 17 years, Ferentz has developed a new nickname.

You ready for this? It's off-the-walls creative.

New Kirk.

It’s simple and somehow appropriate. It’s the product of winning. But more so than that, it’s a newfound aggressive mindset—a mindset Ferentz believes has existed all along.

It’s the play-calling. It’s the fake field-goal attempts. It’s going for it on fourth down rather than settling from three points. Strangely enough, many of these attempts have failed. The aggression has not always resulted in positive results, at least not instantly.

But the energy is palpable. There's an edge to this team. New Kirk.

When asked about his new nickname, Ferentz could only offer up more laughter. Not a deep belly laugh, but a kind of chuckle, chock-full of appreciation. Whether he agrees with the nickname or not, there’s something to be said about a longtime coach being recognized for changing his ways, even if he feels it's business as usual. Clearly others feel differently.

“It’s entertaining,” Ferentz said of the nickname. “If people think this is new, that’s wonderful. But it’s pretty much the same old story here.”

When his team returned to practice after the bye week, having explored the glorious possibilities ahead, Ferentz greeted each of them with a sheet of paper.

Included on this handout was a list of upsets and near upsets that have transpired over the course of the season. The list was all-encompassing, with a focus on the Big Ten.

It was a reminder that now, strangely, Iowa is being hunted rather than doing the hunting. After allowing a few days of stargazing, it was back to reality.

“Nobody knew who we were a month ago, and now there’s a little talk about us,” Ferentz said. “But all that talk doesn’t impact games. We’re not even 40 percent done with the Big Ten schedule yet, so all of that is premature. There is so much football to be played.”

Let’s talk about that football to be played, shall we? This part is important. In fact, it’s the most potent ingredient in this chaos cocktail.

Through seven games this season, Iowa has wins over Pittsburgh, Wisconsin and Northwestern. Those are the greatest hits. It's not the nation's most robust resume. It's probably not as bad as it's made out to be, either. Iowa, now positioned at No. 10 in the AP Poll, is right where it belongs.

Questions exist, and understandably so. The Hawkeyes have not looked the part of a national power. Still, zero losses in a Power Five conference will take you places.

The rest of the schedule is where the fascination kicks up another notch. Iowa will play Maryland at home this weekend. After that, Ferentz's team will play a dangerous game at Indiana. The final three weeks feature home matchups against Minnesota and Purdue, followed by a road finale at Nebraska.

While Iowa will not receive any boosts for its closing strength of schedule, there's a decent likelihood of staying unbeaten for a while longer. None of these games should be assumed wins. Not a single one. But take a gander at what some of the Big 12’s finest teams have in November and stack those schedules next to Iowa’s; it’s not even close.

As outlined by Bleacher Report’s analytics expert Ed Feng, Iowa is a threat to win each one of its remaining regular-season games. The percentages are in the Hawkeyes’ favor.

Of course, numbers provide nothing in terms of guarantees. But they do identify opportunity. And Iowa, a little healthier than it was two weeks ago, is suddenly in a position to carry out the chaos for a few more weeks.

“We normally need a couple good stories to emerge,” Ferentz said. “We need a little luck and some good fortune health-wise, which we haven’t had. We don’t recruit the way a couple others do, so we don’t have guys stacked up at positions. It’s a real fine line for us. But the vibe here is very good.”

There are more than just a few good stories. Cornerback Desmond King has emerged as one of the top defensive players in the conference. His six interceptions are second in the nation. Quarterback C.J. Beathard, while not necessarily a statistical monster, has been excellent, even through injuries. Running back Jordan Canzeri, bum ankle and all, is still fourth in the conference in rushing.

With these few fully highlighted, let's not hide the obvious: The likelihood of Iowa making the College Football Playoff is remote.

This isn’t a chaos theory because these dots are so easily connectable; chaos thrives in the unlikely and the great unknown. It will take everything Ferentz alluded to plus a little more. 

While it has nowhere near the talent of Ohio State, it may not need such talent to take things a little deeper. For that reason, Iowa will be doubted nationally until it’s undone, whenever (or if ever) that day might arrive.

But with so many winnable games on the horizon, the possibility of Iowa playing Ohio State or Michigan State in the Big Ten Championship Game for a spot in the College Football Playoff is real enough, despite what our instincts tell us. Unlikely, certainly. Possible, indeed.

It's to the point, inching oh, so close to November, that we should at least acknowledge this possibility. You don't have to buy it or even understand it, but at least admit that, right now, it's there.

And if and when it all blows up, we can talk about those fun few weeks. The chaos potential will morph into a story about a quality team that many, including myself, thought would miss out on a bowl game. That's not exactly the worst consolation prize.

In the meantime, you should probably have that talk with your children. Just in case.

They have a right to know. It’s up to you to tell them. Deep breaths.

 

Unless noted otherwise, all quotes obtained firsthand.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Meet the Men Clearing the Path for Leonard Fournette's Heisman Run

We have already put LSU running back Leonard Fournette in the clouds, among the immortals in college football. He has arms and legs that look like they are covered in plates of armor. He is a bold runner who can run over defenders just as easily as he eludes them. His 1,352 yards rushing in seven games leads Division I this season. He was the first player in SEC history to reach 1,000 yards rushing in the first five games of a season.

There are two other things you should know about Fournette.    

First, he is not blocking for himself (though sometimes it seems that way when he lowers his shoulder). Second, he may not be the best story on the LSU football team.

LSU senior offensive tackle Vadal Alexander was 17 years old in July 2011. He was about to bloom as an offensive lineman, one of the best in the country as a rising junior at Buford High School, north of Atlanta.

Preseason workouts had just started and Alexander was on the field working his way through drills. Suddenly, he felt a tingling in his toes and then a slight numbness in his feet.

"I just thought my [ankle] tape was too tight, or maybe I tied my shoes too tight," Alexander said.

His feet started to become more numb. Suddenly, it wasn't just his feet; his legs that were beginning to feel numb.

"Hey, you know, I'm just having a bad practice," he said to himself.

Alexander tried to raise one of his legs. He couldn't.

Then he fell down.

He was helped to the training room and then taken home. It was mysterious, to be sure, but he went to sleep in his own bed that night.

The next morning, Alexander, one of the best high school linemen in the country, couldn't feel his legs.

"Scary," Alexander said.

Somehow his family got him in the car and his father, James, drove him to a hospital. Alexander stayed there for three days as doctors did tests and diagnosed him with Guillain-Barre syndrome, a disorder where the body's immune system attacks part of the nervous system.

The treatment was a plasma exchange, and Alexander said he improved because the illness was caught early. Still, he was no longer a football player. He started rehabilitation, but that was for the basic functions of walking.

"I didn't know when I could play again. I didn't know if I could play again," he said. "A lot of people didn't think I was going to play football again.

"I worked all summer to get back and I came back the eighth game of that season. I worked my butt off."

The college recruiters who stayed on Alexander in recruiting as he went through rehabilitation now wouldn't leave him alone. He grew in their estimation because of his work ethic. "They liked me even more," Alexander said.

The offensive line—whether it was the "War Pigs" who blocked for Barry Sanders at Oklahoma State (1988), the Badgers who bashed for Ron Dayne at Wisconsin (1999)—seldom gets appropriate applause when a running back is dominant. The blockers get shoved right off stage.

For the record, the guys behind Fournette's stampede to the Heisman Trophy are actually the guys in front of him: left tackle Jerald Hawkins (6'6", 305 pounds, junior), left guard Maea Teuhema (6'5", 327, freshman), center Ethan Pocic (6'7", 309, junior), right guard William Clapp (6'5", 303, redshirt freshman), right tackle Alexander (6'6", 315) and tight end Dillon Gordon (6'5", 308, senior). There is also guard Toby Weathersby (6'5", 303, freshman), who is squeezing himself in for some snaps.

Then there is fullback J.D. Moore (6'4", 235, sophomore), who is frequently a lead blocker in the hole for Fournette.

When No. 4 LSU (7-0) plays at No. 7 Alabama (7-1) on November 7, you should pay particular attention to Alexander, who is No. 74. It is not just that he is having a sensational season, it is really a second comeback from the brink. He came back from Guillain-Barre, and then he came back from a weight issue.

Almost two years ago, Alexander weighed 360 pounds. He was sluggish. A knee injury and other nagging ailments were not helping his college football career.

Alexander started to take off the weight in the Spring of 2014. He had a new offensive line coach, Jeff Grimes, and the whole culture of the offensive line started to change. Grimes uses lessons from ancient history to motivate players in his meeting room and preaches aggression and power. You couldn't be sluggish and play for Grimes.

In Alexander's junior season in 2014, he was a decent player the first half of the season as he continued to rehab his physique. The second half of 2014, Grimes said, Alexander started to show his potential. He filled out the paperwork for the 2015 draft, but Alexander decided there was more work to do. He skipped the draft, not only to polish himself as a player, but also to make sure he was on track for his degree (Sports Administration).

Now, he is one of the leaders of an offensive line that moves those tacklers out of the way for Fournette that the running back doesn't move himself.

"He worked hard in the offseason to get the weight down and get himself in better shape," Grimes said. "He's an unusual combination of a guy that is pretty tall, but really broad, with a big barrel chest and really heavy hands. He is pretty nimble for a guy [that size].

"This guy is night and day over what he was last year."

Grimes said he texted Alexander on Sunday night following last Saturday's 48-20 win over Western Kentucky and asked Alexander how he thought he played.

"Crappy," Alexander said.

Grimes had to chuckle at that. The coach gives out a rug every week to the offensive lineman who plays with the most aggression and toughness. There is a Latin verse on the rug: "Oderint dum metuant." Let them hate so long as they fear. The rug has the picture of a sledgehammer because Grimes tells his players, "Always be the hammer, not the nail."

For his "crappy" game, Alexander got the rug this week.

Grimes has experience with superstars and Heisman hopefuls and national championship runs….and offensive lines that go unnoticed. He was the offensive line coach for Auburn's 2010 national championship team, which featured quarterback Cam Newton, who had 1,473 yards rushing, 2,854 yards passing, won the Heisman Trophy and led those Tigers to the national championship.

Fournette is having a similarly spectacular season, but there is a difference. The offensive line for Newton's Tigers did not feature as many potential NFL draft picks as Fournette's Tigers. Auburn's Brandon Mosley, a tackle, is the only one of the interior lineman (tackle to tackle) who has played significantly in the pros.

LSU center Pocic is a legitimate NFL prospect. So are Alexander and Hawkins. The freshmen may turn into Sunday players, too.

The LSU offensive line may be more talented than the Auburn line, but it is still showing the same traits of togetherness and toughness as the Auburn line, Grimes said.

"We have a lot of chemistry; they're coming together," Grimes said. "We have a unique combination, young guys at guard. Center and tackles are older. The older guys are taking responsibility for the group."

The Tigers will not have a bigger test this regular season than the Alabama defensive line, which is loaded with NFL-type talent. The Crimson Tide are fourth nationally, giving up 78 yards per game rushing.

If this LSU line clears some holes against the Crimson Tide, maybe it can squeeze onto a little corner of the Fournette stage and have an even bigger audience for their stories—his and theirs—in January.

 

Ray Glier covers college football for Bleacher Report.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Arizona State to Wear Special 'PT42' Uniforms vs. Oregon in Honor of Pat Tillman

The Arizona State Sun Devils will be wearing throwback uniforms Thursday night against the Oregon Ducks—and they'll be doing so for good reason.

Arizona State is using this week's game as a way to honor the late Pat Tillman, a former Sun Devils football player who died in 2004 while serving in Afghanistan.

Last week, Adidas and Arizona State revealed the Sun Devils would be wearing special "PT42" cleats for the Oregon game:

As it turns out, the cleats were just the start of things to come. The Sun Devils announced Thursday they will be wearing 1996 throwback uniforms in honor of Tillman:

The best part about the uniforms? It has to be either the base layer or the fact that every player will have "Tillman" on the nameplate:

Here's how the players found out about the uniforms:

Oregon and Arizona State kick off at 10:30 p.m. ET.

[Adidas, Arizona State Sun Devils]

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Week 9 College Football Picks: Texas Tech, Auburn, Temple as Home Underdogs

Three college football teams in Week 9 not only have a really good shot at covering the spread as home underdogs, but they also have a solid opportunity to pull off straight-up upsets as well.

The Texas Tech Red Raiders (5-3), Auburn Tigers (4-3) and Temple Owls (7-0) are all playing highly ranked opponents according to the AP Top 25 poll. However, they each have favorable situational-betting trends going in their favor.

Texas Tech is hosting the 12th-ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys (7-0) on Saturday and has won seven of the last 10 home meetings in the series. Oklahoma State has won the past six games against the Red Raiders overall, but the team’s previous three wins overall before routing winless Kansas last week 58-10 were decided by a total of 12 points.

Texas Tech has more than enough firepower to win this one SU as a consensus three-point home dog at sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark.

Auburn has really thrived as a home dog, going 8-3 against the spread and winning five of those 11 games SU. The Tigers will be hosting the 19th-ranked Ole Miss Rebels (6-2), who have done poorly in the role of road favorites, going 0-6 SU and ATS in their past six under that scenario.

Auburn has also won five of the past six meetings with Ole Miss SU and ATS, so look for the Tigers to make it six of seven here.

Temple will be playing its biggest home game in school history when the ninth-ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish (6-1) visit Philadelphia. The Owls are off to their best start ever, and they are 6-2 ATS in winning their last eight games dating back to last season.

Temple just beat East Carolina 24-14 last Thursday as a 2.5-point road underdog to cover for the third time in four games.

Notre Dame has covered five in a row but lost its only game to another unbeaten opponent in the third-ranked Clemson Tigers back on October 3. The Fighting Irish are just 1-4 ATS in their last five games as road favorites of 10 points or more according to the OddsShark College Football Database.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

How Joey Bosa's Suspension Was a Blessing in Disguise for Ohio State

COLUMBUS, Ohio — When Joey Bosa found himself suspended for Ohio State's season opener against Virginia Tech, it left the Buckeyes with a gaping hole on their defensive line—one which head coach Urban Meyer initially thought his team wouldn't be able to fill with just one player.

After all, Bosa was a unanimous All-American in 2014, recording 13.5 sacks and 21 tackles for a loss with the type of dominant play where even numbers as impressive as those don't tell the entire tale.

In Bosa's absence, however, the defending national champions didn't merely just survive, picking up a 42-24 road win over the Hokies. Rather, what Meyer saw from his defensive line without Bosa on the field was something that caused his coaching staff to rethink its strategy and ultimately led to Ohio State's most talented defensive lineup.

 

'Rushmen'

As the No. 1-ranked Buckeyes have climbed out to a 8-0 start to the season, opponents have often found themselves facing crucial third downs against Ohio State, predominantly in obvious passing situations. When that's happened in recent weeks, Buckeyes defensive line coach Larry Johnson has opted to put his four best pass-rushers on the field, calling on Bosa, Adolphus Washington, Tyquan Lewis and Sam Hubbard in what the OSU assistant has deemed his "rushmen" package.

But unlike other defensive end-happy lineups, this set hasn't left the Buckeyes susceptible to draw plays or other unexpected runs, with a pair of natural edge-rushers turned NFL-caliber defensive tackles in the 6'6", 275-pound Bosa and 6'4", 290-pound Washington occupying the middle.

"It gives us the ability to rush the passer and also play the run in pass situations. Sometimes teams don't always pass in obvious pass situations, so we still got enough weight in there, meat in there, to still play against the run," said Washington. "That was Coach Johnson's whole thinking going into it."

However, whether Ohio State's super sub-package was something Johnson had pre-planned or happened to fall into this season remains unclear.

According to Washington, the Buckeyes didn't practice the "rushmen" lineup at any point during the preseason and first experimented with it a few weeks following their victory against Virginia Tech. With Bosa back in action, Johnson began toying with ways to keep his one-game replacement, Hubbard, on the field after the redshirt freshman tallied four tackles, 1.5 of which came for a loss, and a sack in the team's season opener.

"We knew nothing about it [in the preseason]," Washington said "I think it was the way Sam played against Virginia Tech...I think that had a big part to do with it."

Reminiscent of the New York Giants' "NASCAR" package, Ohio State's ability to get its four best pass-rushers on the field simultaneously has helped result in a Buckeyes defense that currently ranks 22nd in the nation in third-down defense and ninth in sacks.

"I guess it speaks for itself," Washington said with a smile. "We've been doing pretty good at it."

 

Role Reversals

As is the case with most unique sub-packages, the "rushmen" lineup takes some Ohio State linemen out of their natural positions, although any uncomfortableness they may feel is nothing compared to that of the opposing offensive lines who have faced it.

Nevertheless, Washington said that—for admittedly selfish reasons—the Buckeyes' pass-rush-heavy lineup isn't necessarily his favorite to take part in.

"I have to play nose guard and I just get double-teamed the whole time," he said. "But hey, I'll do it for a couple plays a game. It's all good."

Taking one for the team is nothing new for Washington, who arrived at Ohio State as a 5-star defensive end in Meyer's first recruiting class in Columbus in 2012. Following the emergence of Bosa in 2013, Washington moved inside to defensive tackle a year ago before shifting to nose guard to help free up Michael Bennett during the Buckeyes' run to the College Football Playoff.

Now, Washington's back at defensive tackle. Except, of course, for those few plays a game when he's playing nose guard, this time helping free up Bosa, who lines up next to him as a defensive tackle in the "rushmen" sets.

For his part, Bosa, who has tallied 3.5 sacks, 11 tackles for a loss and nine quarterback hurries this season, has no issue with moving inside. For somebody who is as consistently double-teamed as he is, it offers a unique look against opposing offenses that have often shaped their game plans around containing the reigning Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year.

"Especially when I get single-teamed, I like moving down to the middle," Bosa said. "Getting our best pass-rushers out there, it's fun to fly after the quarterback and pretty much have all four of us getting there at the same time."

 

Young Guns

While Washington and Bosa have done the dirty work inside, it's Lewis and Hubbard who have benefited from the attention drawn by their more experienced teammates.

For Lewis, a redshirt sophomore starting for the first time in his college career, it's helped result in a team-high 5.5 sacks on the season, despite the former 4-star prospect being the least heralded of Ohio State's fearsome pass-rushing foursome.

"When the play comes your way, you just have to make it," Lewis said. "You got a one-on-one and you want to win every time. If you feel like you're the best in the country, you've gotta win every time."

In the case of Hubbard, the "rushmen" package has resulted in not just playing time he may not have been seeing otherwise as a backup, but an impressive statistical start to his college career.

The Cincinnati, Ohio, native's box scores have been as unique as one would expect for a high school safety who arrived at Ohio State as a linebacker before converting to tight end and eventually defensive end, as the former 4-star prospect has recorded 18 tackles, 3.5 sacks, five tackles for a loss and an interception in his debut campaign.

If not for Johnson's vision to get Hubbard on the field rather than keeping a traditional nose guard next to Washington, the Queen City product knows that his opportunities would be coming much less frequently.

"It’s just another opportunity to get after the quarterback," Hubbard said of the "rushmen" packages. "I’m excited to make a play when I get on the field."

Like Lewis, Hubbard is well-aware that doing so as often as he has been wouldn't be possible without the work of Bosa and Washington inside. That's what makes Ohio State's unique defensive line look so effective, as its experienced players inside and impressive youngsters on the edge have helped create a unit with no weak links and plenty of ability to get after opposing quarterbacks.

"Inside, it’s just not what guards and centers expect to see," Hubbard said. "Joey Bosa lined up across from you."

Given the way that the "rushmen" package came about, it's not something the Buckeyes necessarily expected to see either.

 

Ben Axelrod is Bleacher Report's Big Ten lead writer. You can follow him on Twitter @BenAxelrod. Unless noted otherwise, all quotes were obtained firsthand. All statistics courtesy of CFBStats.com. Odds provided by Odds Shark. Recruiting rankings courtesy of 247Sports.

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SEC Extra Points with Barrett Sallee: Odds SEC Team Doesn't Make the Playoff

Doomsday scenario?

The SEC's version is still in play following Ole Miss' 23-3 win over Texas A&M last weekend in Oxford.

The Rebels (6-2, 3-1 SEC) have a blowout loss to Florida and another road loss to Memphis out of the American Athletic Conference on their resume, but they still control their destiny in the SEC West thanks to a win over Alabama and LSU's still lingering on the schedule.

That presents a problem for the SEC if the Rebels win out and claim the SEC title, because that second loss could be the roadblock that prevents the SEC from getting a team into the second annual College Football Playoff, as Andy Staples of Sports Illustrated noted on Twitter over the weekend:

Make no mistake—that would also block Alabama from playoff glory even if the Crimson Tide win out.

If they finish 11-1, they wouldn't have a conference championship and would have a head-to-head loss to the team that does on the resume. I don't care how well Alabama would be playing at that point; conference championships matter more than they should. After all, simply winning an arbitrarily determined conference based mostly on geography doesn't make a team elite and should eliminate those that don't.

For that doomsday scenario to play out, though, Ole Miss would have to win out. That is a little more likely after clearing the Texas A&M hurdle, but road trips to Auburn and Mississippi State won't be easy, and home tilts against Arkansas and LSU will be incredibly tough.

Ole Miss is getting healthier thanks to the return of defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche and linebacker C.J. Johnson, but it's still hard to trust a team that has proven depth issues on defense and can't run between the tackles.

Odds the SEC's doomsday scenario plays out: 30-1. It's much more likely the SEC champ will have one loss than two.

 

Carl Lawson's Return: Trick or Treat?

For about 20 minutes inside the Georgia Dome during the season opener versus Louisville, Auburn's defense looked more like a power than a punch line.

Then "Buck" Carl Lawson hurt his hip. The unit hasn't been the same since and has regressed into the SEC's worst defense (430.6 yards per game) despite the presence of veteran coordinator Will Muschamp.

Lawson has been practicing this week, but head coach Gus Malzahn is still on the fence on whether his star will suit up Saturday against Ole Miss.

"We don't have any call on whether he's going to play, but he did have a limited practice [Tuesday], and when he was out there, he did fine," Malzahn said.

If he does return, the impact for the struggling Tigers should be apparent.

"The leadership alone and having his presence will be huge," Malzahn said. "He's our defensive leader and one of our team leaders. When we get him back, that will be a lift for our defense."

If Lawson plays, he's not going to line up opposite star Rebels tackle Laremy Tunsil in the same way Texas A&M's Myles Garrett did last week. In the opener, Lawson moved all over the field, including as a linebacker behind tackle Montravius Adams to bring pressure up the middle, and created confusion in the Cardinals offensive line.

That will be huge against Ole Miss, which has suffered from offensive line breakdowns often over the last two seasons even with Tunsil in the lineup.

Gut feeling: Expect Lawson to play Saturday afternoon.

 

Better Than Advertised

Ole Miss' Laquon Treadwell has proved to be one of the SEC's best receivers during his three-year career in Oxford. He leads the SEC with 94.5 receiving yards per game, 756 receiving yards and 54 receptions; he has five receiving touchdowns and has recovered just fine from a gruesome broken leg suffered late in last season's loss to Auburn.

Last week against Texas A&M, Treadwell caught five passes for 102 yards and a score. Is he better than he was over the last two seasons?

"Yes," Aggies head coach Kevin Sumlin said, "and I told him that after the game...and I hope I don't see you anymore. I think he's one of the better players in the country. He's strong. He's physical. He separated on the big touchdown. He's a heck of a football player and is going to have a successful career at the next level."

That's a pretty strong statement considering Treadwell established himself as one of the nation's best possession receivers as a true freshman in 2013 when he caught a team-high 72 passes and followed it up with 632 yards and five touchdowns in nine games last year.

It's not a huge surprise to Treadwell's coach, though.

"I firsthand witnessed how hard he worked to come back, so it's not quite as surprising that he's doing as well as he is," Rebels head coach Hugh Freeze said. "I don't know if it's because of anything physically as much as it is that he's matured mentally. I kind of relate, and I told him this...we talked about tempo a lot around here. After the ball is snapped, the pace in which you play, there were some where he might grade himself a six or seven. This year, there's a lot of nine or 10."

Terrifying.

 

In Need of a Spark

To say Missouri's offense is stagnant would be an insult to stagnant lakes, which can still provide plenty of entertainment on hot summer days.

It's nearly dry.

The Tigers (4-4, 1-4 SEC) have the second-worst offense in the country (277.6 yards per game) ahead of only UCF, are averaging just 4.40 yards per play (125th in the nation), haven't scored a touchdown since the South Carolina game on Oct. 3 and have converted three third downs over the last three games.

There could be help on the way, though.

Head coach Gary Pinkel announced that Maty Mauk's suspension for violating team rules has been lifted after four games, and the redshirt junior is back practicing during the bye week. Could he start next Thursday night against Mississippi State?

"Depth chart and playing-time decisions won't be made until next week," Pinkel said.

Mauk has to start. Nothing against true freshman Drew Lock. He has showed flashes of his potential during his first start—that win over South Carolina. But he hasn't completed more than 50 percent of his passes in any game since and has tossed two picks over that stretch. While he hasn't been the biggest problem, he's not the solution either.

Mauk might be.

He can provide a spark with his legs, has the experience from two straight SEC East titles and might be Missouri's best option.

If that's the case, though, a bowl game might not be an option for this year's Tigers.

 

The Great Unknown

Texas A&M opened up its quarterback competition this week for Kyle Allen, Kyler Murray and Jake Hubenak, which presents an interesting dynamic for South Carolina interim head coach Shawn Elliott in his second game at the helm.

The Gamecocks will visit College Station this weekend and are forced to prepare for all three players—all of whom present different challenges. Allen is more of a gunslinger, Murray is the dual threat with speed to burn and Hubenak is probably the most reliable of the trio.

"Defensively, you have to start looking at all of the characteristics they have and who potentially might play," Elliott said. "At the end of the day, it's going to come down to blocking and tackling, assignment-oriented football and making sure that we're in position to tackle."

It will be a big test for South Carolina, which has had two weeks to prepare for the Aggies but got thrown a curveball this week when Sumlin opened things up.

 

A Second Career?

Finally, a light moment here on SEC Extra Points.

Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen served as Florida's offensive coordinator from 2005 to 2008, so naturally he was asked about his experiences at the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party between the Gators and Georgia.

Naturally, that launched him into a golf discussion.

The Gators stayed at Sawgrass during his time with the program, and while he didn't get to play the famed TPC Stadium Course while he was there, he did mention that he and his staff played the famed No. 17 island hole three times the day before his Mississippi State program played Michigan in the 2011 Gator Bowl following the 2010 season.

The result?

"We each got to play three balls, and I did par one of my three," he said.

Not bad, Coach Mullen.

 

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.

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#TBT: Jameis Winston Could Not Be Contained in High School

Before the Heisman Trophy, the national championship and being selected first overall in the NFL draft, Jameis Winston was an absolute beast at Hueytown (Alabama) High School. Watch the then-5-star dual-threat quarterback do Jameis Winston things in the clip above.

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College Football Picks: Week 9 Predictions for Every Game

The last weekend of October will serve as a chance to catch our breath before the final stretch of 2015's college football season. The November slate looks to be as good as ever, and the first playoff rankings set to be released on Tuesday will get the ball rolling.

But before we jump ahead too far, we shouldn't forget about a lineup of games that could provide plenty of intrigue even with five of the top seven teams taking the week off.

The only matchup of ranked teams is one few could have predicted before the season, with one-loss Notre Dame visiting unbeaten Temple in the game of the week. Another six ranked schools are on the road, some facing pretty difficult tests that could throw a wrench into their future plans.

There are 55 games on the docket for Week 9, including the first batch of our beloved annual #MACtion weeknight tilts on Tuesday and Wednesday. We've made a prediction for every matchup on the schedule, so check them out and then give us your picks in the comments section.

Note: Team rankings are based on their spot in the Associated Press Top 25.

 

Last week: 45-10 (.818)

Season: 400-118 (.772)

 

Begin Slideshow

Ranking the Best ACC Matchups of Week 9

Week 9 of the ACC football schedule features multiple narratives from the previous week. 

How will Miami play after the firing of its (former) head coach, Al Golden? Can Florida State bounce back from its bizarre loss to Georgia Tech?

Will the Yellow Jackets avoid coming out flat after the significant victory over the Seminoles? Can North Carolina prove itself a legitimate contender in the conference against Pitt? 

All of these storylines make for an intriguing and interesting upcoming weekend. 

Begin Slideshow

Daily Fantasy College Football Week 9: DraftKings Optimum Lineup, Matchup Advice

Past the halfway point of the season or not, daily fantasy college football Week 9 presents the same challenge as the weeks prior.

Building a DraftKings Optimum Lineup isn't an easy task no matter how many weeks sit in the books because despite the overwhelming amount of data, owners have to do one thing to find success: the legwork.

Easier said than done, right? Most teams rest in the thick of conference schedules, making the task all the more difficult. Below, let's make the work a tad easier on owners by looking at an optimum lineup based on projections, point spreads and much, much more.

 

DraftKings Optimum Week 9 Lineup

Only Saturday games (noon ET to 4 p.m. ET) listed.

 

QBs

Dane Evans ($8,300)

It's hard to ever go wrong with Tulsa quarterback Dane Evans.

One of the nation's top gunslingers has a trio of 400-yard games under his belt already thanks to a high-octane offense and a leaky defense that necessitates his spamming the ball at all times.

To make Evans even more attractive than the pricier options is the fact he sits in one of the week's highest over/under totals at 75. It's going to be a shootout against SMU, owners of one of the nation's worst defenses against quarterbacks.

 

Chad Kelly ($7,400)

The same praise heaped on Evans above applies to Ole Miss' Chad Kelly, too.

Kelly has 22 or more points in five games this season as one of the nation's premier dual-threat players, not to mention one of its better deep passers. It certainly helps that he plays with one of the best wideouts in the game (more on him in a second).

While he threw three picks last time out, things figure to get easier for Kelly against Auburn, a team that just allowed three scoring tosses to Arkansas quarterbacks.

This one has an over/under of 58.5 and could wind up as a shootout, making Kelly an ideal value.

 

RBs

Samaje Perine ($6,700)

He's back.

Oklahoma's high-flying attack has somewhat buried Samaje Perine this year, but it felt like a matter of time before the star back broke free for a major game.

It happened in Week 8, as Perine rushed 23 times for 201 yards and four scores, good for 49.0 points.

Such production will be hard for the coaching staff to ignore going into a contest against Kansas in a game featuring an over/under of 63.5.

Get Perine while he's under-priced.

 

Chris Carson ($4,100)

As a punt play, owners could do much worse than Oklahoma State running back Chris Carson.

Carson hasn't posted major numbers as he eases his way back into things after a Week 5 injury. But it's important to remember he went for 13.2, 10.6 and 26.8 points over his first three games.

It's all about the matchup. Carson sits in a contest with an over/under of a ridiculous 78 against a Texas Tech team that struggles to stop much of anything. Look for him to have a breakout game once again.

 

WRs

Laquon Treadwell ($6,700)

About one of the best wideouts in the game.

Laquon Treadwell has a, well, interesting price considering he's the top target in the Ole Miss attack and has posted 36.6, 44.12 and 24.2 points over the course of his last three games.

Jon Moore of RotoViz summed up the strong run best:

As mentioned, this matchup features an over/under of 58.5 and an Auburn defense that has simply looked like a shell of past strong iterations.

Kelly won't throw much anywhere else, because why would he? Treadwell is in for a monster performance. Again.

 

Justin Hobbs ($4,400)

Quarterback-wideout stacks are always a smart way to go. 

Here, owners can get Tulsa No. 2 wideout Justin Hobbs at a great value, and that No. 2 posts numbers like a No. 1 wideout in a lot of offenses this year.

Hobbs has at least three grabs in each of his last three outings as he continues to emerge. In Week 6, Hobbs caught five passes for 82 yards and a score, a strong example of what he can do in the right situation. 

Which he has in Week 8 with that over/under of 75 against a woeful SMU defense. A touchdown wouldn't be a surprise.

 

Reginald Davis ($4,600)

On the other end of that Texas Tech-Oklahoma State matchup sporting an over/under of 78 is a great value play in the former's Reginald Davis.

Davis has downright exploded in recent weeks, scoring a touchdown in three consecutive games. The Cowboys defense is exploitable through the air, something Davis should be able to take advantage of in a heavyweight matchup sure to feature an epic amount of passing.

Expect nothing short of Davis' touchdown streak extending to four.

 

Flex

James Washington ($4,400)

Once again, flip back to the other side of the Red Raiders and Cowboys encounter for James Washington.

Washington has two touchdowns in his last three games and at least six catches in two of those. It's hard to ignore a guy who can do something like this:

Also hard to ignore? Washington's budding role within the offense, which may reach its peak in a shootout in which Oklahoma State could very much be considered on upset alert. Going for more than three times his asking price isn't out of the question.

 

Marchie Murdock ($3,400)

When it comes time to punt, owners have to look for guys with dipping salaries for various reasons who feature a ceiling well above and away from the price.

Which sounds like Illinois wideout Marchie Murdock.

The Illinois-Penn State showdown doesn't feature the sexiest over/under at 43, but it's important to understand that Murdock will be one of the top weapons on the field. He's missed two games with an injury but still touts the third-highest receptions total on the team and has 10.8 or more points in four of the five games he's played.

Tripling value and beyond seems a sure thing with Murdock.

 

 

Enter the DraftKings $1.25 M Play-Action contest this weekend. Use promo code BLEACHER REPORT when you sign up.

Pricing information and scoring data obtained from DraftKings.com. Odds via Odds Shark.

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Texas Football: Ranking the Longhorns' 5 Most Impactful Injuries in 2015

Texas has been fortunate enough to avoid any crushing injuries thus far this season.

Right now, things are looking up for the Longhorns. Thanks to wins over Oklahoma and Kansas State, they're back on the path to a bowl game with one of the country's youngest teams. They're also getting healthy.

With a little more than half the season in the books, injuries have only forced five starters to miss a combined eight games. Compared to losing a quarterback, like Baylor has experienced with Seth Russell, that's not half-bad.

But injuries certainly played a part in Texas' 1-4 start. Hassan Ridgeway and Holton Hill each got off to slow starts because of preseason injuries, Kent Perkins' missed two games with a knee injury and Daje Johnson lost time to a concussion.

These guys make an impact every time they're on the field and could have been difference-makers in a couple of Texas' losses.

 

1. DT Hassan Ridgeway (back)

Without a doubt, Ridgeway's preseason back injury has had the biggest impact on Texas' season. Fortunately, Texas' star defensive tackle has rebounded in a big way.

Ridgeway has yet to miss a game, but health was clearly an issue for him earlier in the year. A preseason back injury kept him out for most of fall practice, which also forced the coaches to manage his snaps for Texas' first three games. He didn't start those games, and Texas gave up an average of 37 points per game while he was getting up to speed.

Ridgeway's been healthy since, and he's been absolutely tearing it up. With two sacks and a fumble recovery for a touchdown, the splash plays are back for one of the conference's best linemen. InsideTexas.com's Justin Wells vividly described Ridegeway's skill set: 

But what's setting Ridgeway apart isn't showing up in the stats sheet. The 314-pounder is commanding double-teams on almost every play, freeing up guys like Poona Ford and Bryce Cottrell to get into the backfield. This is why 247Sports' Jeff Howe is saying, "There might not be a better tackle in the Big 12."

Based on what we've seen, a healthy Ridgeway would have been the difference in the 45-44 loss to Cal.

 

2. OT Kent Perkins (knee)

3. CB Holton Hill (leg)

It doesn't get much closer than these two, so we're pooling tackle Kent Perkins and cornerback Holton Hill together here.

Perkins went down with a knee injury in the third quarter of Texas' loss to Oklahoma State. In the first five quarters he missed, the Longhorns averaged 3.4 yards per play and scored only seven points, which came in garbage time. They were completely lost without his steadying presence on the right side, and it was painfully obvious.

Of course, the Horns got it together with a 313-yard rushing performance against Oklahoma. But they were just as good with Perkins against a Kansas State team that knew what was coming, running for 274 yards on 53 carries en route to the win. As Howe noted, Perkins threw the key block on the game's longest play.

All the evidence points to Perkins being one of this team's most important players, yet the impact of his injury barely edges out that of Hill. And that's because the freshman is already Texas' best defensive back.

Like Ridgeway, Hill was slowed this preseason by a leg injury. It kept the freshman out until the middle of fall camp and left him with a ton of ground to make up. The lack of reps kept Hill out against Notre Dame and limited him through the Horns' next two games.

Hill finally got his chance against Oklahoma State and has yet to look back. The freshman returned an interception for a touchdown in that game, fought hard in a tough matchup against TCU and has been generally avoided by both Oklahoma and Kansas State. Ryan Autullo of Austin American-Statesman and William Wilkerson of HornsDigest.com noted Hill's impressive performance:

Yes, at this point in the season, teams would rather try Duke Thomas and two returning starters at safety than go near Hill. Now imagine how good he would be, and would have been all season, had he practiced throughout the fall.

Perkins is a rock, but Hill is becoming one. If forced to choose one over the other at this point in the season, you can make a strong case for either of them.

 

4. WR Daje Johnson (concussion)

When healthy, Daje Johnson is the only Longhorns receiver guaranteed to get the ball. That, and his special teams value, made the senior's concussion a tough blow to this team.

Johnson got popped hard on Texas' first play against TCU and sat out through the Oklahoma game. 

The Texas offense bounced back without Johnson against the Sooners, but the Horns made it clear that they missed him. Johnson got the ball six times in his return against Kansas State, mostly on the jet-sweep action that Jay Norvell has made into a staple of the offense.

Just as important is Johnson's impact on special teams. He's by far the most explosive playmaker the Horns have in that phase of the game, making him one of the hardest guys to replace on the entire team.

 

5. LB Edwin Freeman (shoulder)

Despite being listed as day-to-day over a month ago, emerging linebacker Edwin Freeman has missed the last four games with a shoulder injury.

Freeman went down as if he was taking a dive against Cal, but he was actually severely injured on the previous play. He could miss as many as four more games with that shoulder, which has forced true freshman Anthony Wheeler into more action.

Fortunately Wheeler and, even more so, senior Peter Jinkens have been solid in Freeman's absence. But before then, Freeman was playing quality football, showing good speed and showing the ability to make plays in the backfield. He and Malik Jefferson should be fun to watch for the next couple of years. Back in September, Andrew King of the Football Brainiacs described Freeman and Jefferson as "freak athletes": 

The redshirt freshman proved in his three games that he has real talent. Let's hope he's able to come back and contribute before the season ends.

 

Unless otherwise noted, all stats and information courtesy of TexasSports.com.

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Florida vs. Georgia: Run Game Crucial to Victory for Both Teams

Quarterback matchups receive a ton of spotlight ahead of big-time games, but a look at the last few years of the fierce Florida-vs.-Georgia rivalry directs the eyes to the ground instead of the skies.

Just look at last season's matchup, when Florida upset a Top 10 Georgia team by a score of 38-20. Florida uncapped a 418-yard rushing performance at the "Cocktail Party," while Georgia only ran for 141 yards—its worst performance in that area for the entire 2014 season.

As for the quarterbacks, Georgia starter Hutson Mason had a good afternoon, completing 26 of his 41 passes for 319 yards and a touchdown. Treon Harris, who started in place of the now-transferred Jeff Driskel, only attempted six passes the entire game.

"We knew we were going to pound them and pound them and were going to keep pounding them," Florida running back Kelvin Taylor said after the 2014 win, per ESPN.com. "We weren't going to be denied."

While several aspects of these two teams have changed since last year's meeting—Florida (6-1) has a new head coach in Jim McElwain and is the favorite over Mark Richt's two-loss Georgia team, according to Odds Shark—the importance on the rushing attacks for this Saturday's matchup has not.

Georgia ended a two-game losing skid two weeks ago against Missouri, but the offense put up fewer than 300 total yards in a 9-6 win. The Bulldogs only averaged 2.67 yards per carry in their first full game since star Nick Chubb's devastating knee injury against Tennessee.

Part of the reason for the low numbers on the ground was the health of sophomore Sony Michel, who suffered a hip injury early in the game.

But after an off week, Richt says Michel is ready to go against Florida, per Jason Butt of the Macon Telegraph.

Now's the time for Michel to step up for this Georgia offense and take charge. He is averaging almost six yards per carry this season but could use a true breakout game as the new No. 1 running back.

If Bulldogs fans are looking for a magic number, try 150.

As Marc Weiszer of the Athens Banner-Herald noted, Georgia is 4-0 since 2006 when rushing for 150 yards or more against Florida. The Bulldogs are 0-5 when they don't hit that mark.

The 2015 Gators may have the nation's No. 21-ranked rush defense, but a quick glance at their game-by-game statistics from this season shows that most of the teams that have played it close with Florida effectively ran the football.

Florida has one of the nation's most talented secondaries with the likes of Vernon Hargreaves III, Jalen Tabor and Marcus Maye. Gator defensive backs average an interception per game and have already scored two pick-sixes this season—a troubling matchup for a struggling Greyson Lambert and his receiving corps.

Feeding the ball to an effective Michel will give Georgia the best chance to succeed against the Florida defense, and it'll also open things up more for Lambert when the Bulldogs decide to go to the air.

On the other side of this matchup, Florida is placing a high priority on generating explosive plays on the ground.

As Thomas Goldkamp of 247Sports put it, Florida's early-season success has been extra impressive because "the Gators have done it without any semblance of a strong running game."

And McElwain wants that fixed immediately.

"It’s not good enough, and it’s obvious," McElwain said, per Goldkamp. "We’ve got to get better. We haven’t created explosive runs. And look, the guys are trying. But obviously it’s not where we expect it to be or where it’s going to be. We’ve got to get better there."

Taylor has managed to run for 463 yards and eight touchdowns without a strong push from Florida's inexperienced offensive line. But Taylor, one of the stars from last season's win over Georgia, only had 25 yards on 15 carries against LSU.

It's hard to imagine Florida suddenly becoming dominant on the ground with that front five, but keep in mind this team exploded for more than 400 rushing yards against Georgia following its off week last year.

The 2014 Gators, too, entered Jacksonville needing a spark on the ground. In their four SEC games prior to the Georgia matchup, they had only averaged 130.25 rushing yards.

While this year's Florida offense isn't a strong candidate to drop 400 rushing yards on Georgia, it could very well find a way to get things on the ground against this Bulldog defense.

Alabama and Tennessee each rushed for two touchdowns and averaged more than four yards per carry in their respective wins over Georgia. Physical running back Derrick Henry led the way for the Crimson Tide against Georgia's run defense, but Tennessee got the majority of its rushing yards through quarterback Joshua Dobbs.

Like Dobbs, Harris has the ability to make plays with his feet, and Richt knows the challenges his defense will face with the Gator quarterback.

"They’ll move him through bootlegs and nakeds and sprint-outs, and things of that nature," Richt said, per Butt. "Treon is obviously a very athletic guy and has made a lot of athletic plays on the move, throwing and running."

Harris also has the experience of quarterbacking a successful rushing offense against this Georgia defense. 

As the series' most recent matchups show, Georgia gets victories over Florida when it runs the ball well but loses when it doesn't. The Gators won the matchup last season by slowing down the Bulldogs on defense and then running all over them.

Whichever side of that recent history repeats itself on Saturday will determine the side that leaves Jacksonville with an SEC title-contending future this season.

 

Unless otherwise noted, statistics courtesy of cfbstats.com.

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

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Big Ten Football: Top 2015 Breakout Freshmen

Heading into Week 9 of the college football season, the Big Ten finds itself in good shape with three undefeated teams remaining and the resurgence of one of its traditional pillar programs.

The league has also witnessed no shortage of breakout players, many of whom have come in the form of freshmen who are still getting their feet wet at the college level.

From ready running backs to dominant defenders and even an already polished passer, the Big Ten has seen several freshmen play key roles on their respective teams this season. Some have been true freshmen while others have been second-year players who redshirted a season ago as plenty of conference newcomers have made an impact in 2015.

With that in mind, let's take a look at each Big Ten team's breakout freshman so far this season.

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