NCAA Football

College Football Rankings 2014: Final NCAA Overview of Week 4 Standings

The problem with college football rankings is they add even more pressure on a team before games get played. It's easy to sit back and say that a certain team should be great, but when you put a small number in the single digits in front of their name, expectations are increased tenfold. 

We've already seen how ludicrous the preseason rankings are and how easy it is to overreact. South Carolina started the year with a bad loss against Texas A&M, falling out of the top 20 in both polls after being ranked ninth in the AP Top 25. 

Georgia moved up to sixth in the AP Top 25 after defeating Clemson in Week 1. In typical fashion, South Carolina came back to defeat Georgia last week and moved up to No. 14 in the AP poll.  It's all reactionary with these polls, which isn't that much different from the kind of analysis on the Internet. 

As we examine the Week 4 polls leading into Saturday's full slate of games, do we know more about Florida State, Alabama, Auburn, Texas A&M, Baylor or Notre Dame today? It's so fluid and exciting, which is what keeps us coming back. 

Here's how both major polls stand right now as well as the key games on the schedule. 

 

Key Week 4 Matchups

No. 22 Clemson at No. 1 Florida State

A matchup between Clemson and Florida State would be noteworthy on its own, but when you add in the fact that Florida State officials made the 11th-hour decision to suspend Jameis Winston for the entire game due to comments he made on campus earlier in the week, there's more intrigue, via Sports Illustrated's Andy Staples: 

Love him or hate him, Winston remains one of the most important players in college football. You can't lose a Heisman Trophy winner and expect to get better. Sophomore Sean Maguire will get the start in this game. He appeared in four games last season with moderate success, via Gil Brandt of NFL.com:

Clemson essentially hasn't played a real game in three weeks. The Tigers beat South Carolina State 73-7 two weeks ago, but how do you really evaluate what an ACC team does against a MEAC school?

The last time we saw Dabo Swinney's group, it was getting run over (literally and figuratively) by Georgia's Todd Gurley. Its offense was nonexistent in the second half with 15 total yards and one first down. 

We haven't seen Florida State play a real game since squeaking by Oklahoma State on August 30, defeating The Citadel on September 6, so both teams will have to shake off the rust against quality competition.

Against the Cowboys, head coach Jimbo Fisher's defense gave up 161 yards on the ground. Even The Citadel moved the ball on the ground with 250 rushing yards.

Clemson has three players with at least 10 carries and averaging at least 4.4 yards per carry. The Tigers have to use the run in order to get Florida State biting on the play-action pass. Quarterback Cole Stoudt didn't look comfortable against Georgia, with 144 yards and an interception on 29 attempts.

Artavis Scott and Mike Williams are big-play receivers with 376 yards on 15 combined receptions. Clemson has the talent to stick with Florida State when Winston is on the sidelines. Now, we have to see if the Seminoles have the fortitude to play against a quality opponent without their quarterback. 

 

Florida at No. 3 Alabama

There was a time when Florida vs. Alabama would have been one of the most hyped games of the year. Now, due to Florida's issues the last two years and Alabama's questions at quarterback, this SEC clash has lost a lot of luster. 

Despite not being the highlight game of the weekend, it's still incredibly compelling. Starting with Nick Saban's bunch, it appears that Blake Sims has become the No. 1 quarterback with Jake Coker a clear backup. 

Through three games, Sims ranks third among all SEC quarterbacks with a 177.3 rating, via SEC Country:

It helps that Sims has one of the best wide receivers in the country to throw to in Amari Cooper. The junior has been the go-to target for the Crimson Tide regardless of who is under center. He's got 33 receptions, 454 yards and two touchdowns. The rest of the team has 35 catches, 440 yards and three touchdowns. 

Even more impressive is how Cooper has been able to succeed while moving all over the field. Look at these numbers from ESPN's College Football Twitter account:

Florida is going to Tuscaloosa after a hard-fought overtime win against Kentucky. Head coach Will Muschamp's reputation was made on the defensive side, so he's got to concoct a plan to contain Cooper. 

The good news for Gators fans is cornerback Vernon Hargreaves is more than capable of shutting anyone down. Around the SEC tweeted out this stat about the Cooper-Hargreaves matchup that will play a crucial role in Saturday's game:

Sims will have to look in other directions as the game is going on if Alabama wants to keep the chains moving. Given his inexperience, that gives Florida a chance to win because young quarterbacks tend to struggle when they have to read the entire field. 

The Gators have a strong defensive line that knows how to get after the quarterback. They have five sacks and 20 quarterback hurries through two games. Say what you want about Eastern Michigan and Kentucky, the latter number is impressive under any circumstances. 

Sims has yet to be sacked in three games and 48 pass attempts. If his jersey is clean when the game is over, this game will be a blowout for Alabama. If it's not, the Gators will have a chance to pull off the upset as long as quarterback Jeff Driskel shows accuracy on his passes. 

 

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

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College Football Week 4 Schedule: TV Info, Live Stream and More for Top-25 Teams

Two of college football's top-25 teams received early Week 4 action when No. 5 Auburn faced No. 20 Kansas State on Thursday night. After some impressive defense from both squads in a back-and-forth game, the Tigers emerged victorious by a score of 20-14 when the Wildcats' fourth-quarter comeback bid fell short.

On Saturday, plenty more of the nation's top teams will be in action, and each will continue jockeying for position for eligibility in the first-ever College Football Playoff. Every game is significant for these teams, so none will want to be caught sleeping on its opponent—one bad loss could have season-altering consequences.

As we impatiently await for Saturday's big games to get underway, let's take a look at the complete viewing information for each game involving a top-25 team, followed by a preview of the game of the week.

The AP Poll Top 25 can be viewed at CollegeFootball.AP.org.

 

Game of the Week

(22) Clemson at (1) Florida State

Aside from the sloppy game we saw on Thursday night, a clash between Clemson and Florida State is the only other Week 4 contest that features two top-25 squads.

Clemson comes into the contest lacking a true identity to this point. After a favorable preseason ranking, the Tigers couldn't keep up with Georgia's ground attack in Week 1. While Heisman hopeful Todd Gurley pounded away at Clemson's defense, quarterback Cole Stoudt had a less-than-desirable performance through the air, completing just 16 of his 29 passing attempts for 144 yards and an interception.

A combination of a stagnant offense and lackluster rush defense led to a 45-21 defeat.

Well, head coach Dabo Swinney made sure his team rebounded in a big way the following week. In completely different fashion from Clemson's Week 1 showing, the Tigers defeated South Carolina State in a rout, winning by a score of 73-7 at Memorial Stadium.

Stoudt looked much better, completing 22 of his 31 passing attempts for 302 yards and a score. Aaron Brenner of The Post and Courier relayed the team's quarterback situation going forward:

Also, Clemson's running game got on track, as Wayne Gallman and Adam Choice led the team to combine for 268 yards and four touchdowns on 51 carries. The defense held the Bulldogs to just one touchdown—a garbage-time score with just 4:05 remaining in the game.

But, that still leads us to ask one question: Which Clemson performance most resembles what we'll see against Florida State?

The Seminoles aren't exactly coming into the game with their roster intact. Heisman-winning quarterback Jameis Winston will be held out of the entire game due to a school-imposed penalty, according to a tweet from Andy Staples of Sports Illustrated:

With backup Sean Maguire set to take the reins in Winston's absence, perhaps Clemson will gain an opportunity to make an early move.

ESPN College Football tweeted Maguire's so-so stats to this point in his career:

After all, it hasn't been smooth sailing for Florida State through two games. In Week 1, the team met a resilient Oklahoma State team that refused to go away. In a game plagued with penalties and turnovers, the Cowboys got within six points of the Seminoles with just under two minutes remaining but failed to complete the upset.

Winston wasn't in great form in Week 1, throwing for 370 yards but tossing two interceptions as well. While the quarterback was far more efficient in Week 2—he completed 22 of his 27 passing attempts for 256 yards and two scores—it's difficult to measure that performance due to a porous Citadel secondary.

After watching Winston struggle in Week 1 and taking into consideration Maguire's very little experience, Clemson could suddenly have an advantage. Making matters worse for Florida State, the Seminoles did allow 4.5 yards per carry against Citadel on 56 attempts. If Clemson's running game can match the success it had against South Carolina State, there's always a chance of an upset.

Although, ESPN Stats & Info noted Clemson's track record against top-ranked squads:

Expect this game to remain close, as stopping the run and limiting turnovers from quarterbacks will be the primary keys for both teams. We'll find out soon enough if Florida State can increase its winning streak to 19.

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No One in the Right in Jameis Winston Suspension Saga

A situation that began with the crude and inappropriate words of a 20-year-old in a very public setting—albeit words from a star player with a complicated past—has evolved into a story that could ultimately have an impact well beyond a campus or a single game.

After Florida State officials initially suspended quarterback Jameis Winston for the first half against Clemson, they increased the punishment to a full game. In true late-Friday evening-news-dump fashion, the Seminoles released the following statement confirming that the Heisman winner wouldn't play at all Saturday against their ACC rival.

"Based upon the results of our continuing investigation of Tuesday's incident involving Jameis Winston, we have decided to not play him for the entire game against Clemson on Saturday night," FSU Interim President Garnett S. Stokes and athletic director Stan Wilcox announced in a release [via USA Today].

There’s an important and necessary disclaimer to consider before proceeding any further: This is, without question, a fluid situation that will undoubtedly gain clarity once matters have been sorted out. It may never be a complete picture—not unless video surfaces, and perhaps that moment is coming—although it would appear that the process is only just beginning. 

Shortly after the announcement, CNN’s Rachel Nichols reported that discrepancies in Winston’s story to the school came to light, prompting the university to act in the way it did.

Am being told increased penalty for FSU's Jameis Winston came after school discovered he'd not been entirely truthful with them.

— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) September 20, 2014

Fox Sports’ Bruce Feldman followed this up with some perspective of his own:

SOURCE:Winston's suspension due to FSU administration finding discrepency w/ his account of where he was standing when saying theobscenities

— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) September 20, 2014

What we’re left with, at least for now, is a fair amount of bewilderment in a situation that was already plenty complicated. The constant through all of this has been the inappropriate nature of the actions. Jameis Winston has already apologized for saying the things that he did. In doing so, he has admitted (again) that he must become more self-aware than he is right now.

The BB gun incident, the sexual assault allegation, the crab leg theft and now this latest turn paint a picture of a player unable to avoid the negative spotlight. These situations, which are drastically different in severity and circumstance, are being lumped together as one. Given his turbulent history, this is to be expected. 

Regardless of where you stand on Winston—teetering toward youthful ignorance or something far worse—these negative labels have been earned. His actions are, for someone in his unique, soon-to-be-millionaire position, completely unacceptable.

Although we can debate punishments and how certain situations have been handled in the past—in particular this week—the fault lies in the player. This is the center of the issue and will be until Winston can keep the focus on his ability and off-the-charts potential rather than everything else.

This is where the matter begins and ultimately where it ends.

And yet, given the timing and cryptic nature of the decision, Florida State has suddenly thrown itself into a strange and undefined position of fault.

No, Jimbo Fisher did not stand on top of any table or bench and begin firing off obscenities for no good reason. And no, those making the decisions above Fisher are not doing this simply to make up for missed punishment opportunities.

But the administration is either a) reacting to backlash for an event that really snowballed on social media, or b) holding back on the necessary details to defend its decision in the first place.

Given the football news cycle this past week—in particular, how the NFL has been unable to stay ahead of outrage—a punishment reboot due to public perception is by no means out of the question. It would behoove Florida State to avoid a similar PR nightmare, so perhaps the school is simply trying to avoid that kind of loss. 

Or, as the tweets above might indicate, perhaps there is something more to the situation. 

If that’s the case, why not provide the details needed for the context of this sudden, late-Friday change of heart? And if the suspension was made based on a slew of tweets to begin with, how exactly is the school conducting an investigation of this nature? Why not wait until this investigation was completed to make a definitive decision?

These are questions that will likely be answered in time. But by releasing a mysterious statement on the eve of one of the most impactful games of the season, Florida State has allowed the masses to fill in the blanks as it attempts to figure this out itself. This is both reckless and dangerous, especially when you consider the totality of the situation and the player’s history. 

Winston is by no means a victim in any shape or form—and don’t let anyone try and convince you otherwise. But by trying to get ahead of the frenzy, Florida State might have created an entirely different mess altogether.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Jameis Winston's Updated Heisman Stock After Being Suspended vs. Clemson

Jameis Winston is now officially out against Clemson, and as a result, he may have removed himself from serious consideration in the Heisman Trophy race.

The reigning Heisman winner was initially suspended for the first half after yelling an obscene phrase on the Florida State campus earlier in the week. On Friday night, the school announced that Winston will miss the entire game, per ESPN.com's Brett McMurphy:

Interim FSU President Garnett S. Stokes and Athletic Director Stan Wilcox released a joint statement, per ESPN.com.

"Based upon the results of our continuing investigation of Tuesday's incident involving Jameis Winston, we have decided to not play him for the entire game against Clemson on Saturday night," it read.

ESPN's Chris Fowler was surprised that the school would amend its decision after doing little to signal that it was planning to do so:

CNN's Rachel Nichols reported that the about-face stemmed from the fact that Winston wasn't forthright enough with school officials:

Yahoo Sports' Pat Forde applauded the administration for making what he believed to be the right decision:

"First of all, I want to apologize to the university, my coaches and to my teammates," Winston said after the initial one-half suspension was handed down. "I'm not a 'me' person, but in that situation, it was a selfish act, and that's not how you do things around here. I want to apologize to my teammates because I have now made a selfish act for them. That's all."

Winston's bid to join Archie Griffin as the only other two-time Heisman winner has gotten off to an already muted start. Through two games, he has 626 yards passing with three touchdowns and two interceptions. Those numbers aren't bad, but they don't exactly move the needle when you're trying to argue somebody's the best player in college football.

Winston sits third in ESPN's Heisman Watch on 21 points. That's only one point better than Texas A&M's Kenny Hill.

According to Fox Sports South's Cory McCartney, only two Heisman winners since World War II have missed a game in the year they won the award: Charles White in 1979 and Charlie Ward in 1993:

Perhaps if the Seminoles were playing a weaker opponent this weekend, Winston's stock would largely be unaffected. Missing a game against the Citadel wouldn't lose a player the Heisman. Missing a game against a top-25 team could.

Clemson ranks 22nd in The Associated Press Poll and 24th in the USA Today Poll. The Tigers are one of the harder teams left on FSU's regular-season schedule, next to Notre Dame.

When he played Clemson last year, Winston threw for 444 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. He outshone Tajh Boyd and laid a major marker down for his Heisman candidacy. Without that game, the then-freshman almost certainly doesn't win the award.

The Tigers are a worse team this time around—they're 20.5-point underdogs according to Odds Shark—but they're also one of the few measuring sticks Winston would've have this year if he wants to impress Heisman voters.

Marcus Mariota and Todd Gurley have both built much stronger resumes and look to be the guys to beat. Mariota has 806 yards and eight touchdowns through the air in addition to 156 yards and three TDs on the ground. Gurley's rushed for 329 yards and four touchdowns. He also has a 100-yard kick-return TD to his credit.

Neither player is showing any signs of slowing down, and both have a few statement games left with which to bolster their case.

It would be foolish to count Winston out completely in the Heisman race, but it will take a Herculean effort the rest of the way for him to repeat.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Jameis Winston Suspended Whole Game vs. Clemson: Latest Details and Reaction

Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston will not get to see the field Saturday against Clemson as a result of a continued investigation into an off-field incident from earlier this week.

Winston had initially been suspended by the school for the first half of Saturday's clash against No. 22 Clemson, but Sports Illustrated's Andy Staples provides a memo from the university that the suspension has been extended:

Turner Sports' Rachel Nichols provides details on the reasoning behind FSU's choice to make it a full-game suspension:

Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports has more on the decision:

The initial half-game punishment was the result of an obscene phrase he yelled in public on campus, as noted by The Big Lead's Jason McIntyre (language NSFW).  

Winston later held a press conference to apologize for his actions:

Why the suspension was extended isn't known, although Yahoo Sports' Dan Wetzel muses that the timing of the announcement is intriguing:

On the field and without last year's Heisman winner, the No. 1 Seminoles will turn to sophomore quarterback Sean Maguire, who has attempted just 26 career passes.

The Clemson Tigers are a fierce rival, but the Seminoles have come out on top in 10 of the last 11 as hosts. 

 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Josh Sweat Injury: Updates on Top High School Recruit's Leg and Recovery

High school phenom Josh Sweat left Friday night's game on a stretcher after sustaining a leg injury.

Sweat, the nation's No. 1 recruit according to 247Sports, was removed from Oscar Smith's game against Western Branch in a frightening scene for the defensive end.

The Virginian-Pilot's Jami Frankenberry showed the team gathering around its star as he was placed inside an ambulance, via MaxPreps.com.

According to 757Teamz, the senior gave a thumbs up while on the stretcher.

Evan G. Watkins of 247Sports noted that, while there's no official status, the injury appeared significant.

VirginiaPrep.com's Matthew Hatfield shed some more light on Sweat's injury.

The 6'5", 240-pound defensive end has drawn rave reviews over his years at Oscar Smith. Before the season began, he told Michael Clark of Scout.com that he feels poised to end his high school days in style.

"I think I've gotten a lot better in the offseason," he said. "I've worked harder than I ever have and I feel like I'm going to take the next step as a player this season."

Stay tuned for more updates on Sweat's injury.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Oregon Ducks Recruiting: Latest Updates on 2014 Commits, Visits and Targets

While the Oregon Ducks are off a great start on the field this season, they may actually be having a better season so far on the recruiting trail. 

The Ducks, who usually do most of their recruiting during the season when high school seniors can visit Eugene and soak up the game-day experience, may have had their best preseason recruiting season ever, picking up 13 recruits before the season kicked off in late August.

Oregon has signed four consecutive top-25 recruiting classes and is on pace to add to that total this season. Currently the Ducks recruiting class is ranked No. 18 in the country, according to 247sports.com. Oregon’s average recruiting class has ranked No. 22 nationally over the past 10 seasons.

With 13 recruits already committed to the program, the coaching staff will likely have to be very selective in who they target down the stretch.

Where do the Ducks stand with their top remaining recruiting targets?

Here’s a look at Oregon’s recent activity on the recruiting trail.

 

Commits

The Ducks have scored commitments from 13 recruits so far this season; however, there are three that truly stand out.

The first is Taj Griffin—a 5-star running back from Powder Springs, Georgia—who is the top-ranked all-purpose back in the nation, according to 247sports.com. Griffin is the No. 31 prospect in the entire country.

There’s no doubt that the Ducks have an affinity for running back, especially those who can play wide receiver, return punts and kickoffs, as well as catch the ball out of the backfield.

While Griffin will have to compete with the likes of Royce Freeman, Tyner Thomas and Byron Marshall for playing time, he’s the perfect change of pace back for the Ducks “blur” offense.

While he's a perfect back for the Oregon system, he will also be coming to Oregon with some health issues. Griffin is currently dealing with a torn ACL which he suffered in his season opener for McEachern high school. 

Though Griffin is recovering from his injury, he did thoroughly enjoy his official visit to Eugene on Sept. 6. 

“I would say his official visit was about a 10,” his father said, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Or I would say a 9. The only reason it wasn’t a 10 is because Taj was injured. We had a great time. We had a lot of good food. It was obviously a good game. That was a big highlight to be able to go down to the locker room, and be a part of that. The coaches were extremely supportive, and they were glad to see him. They had a positive outlook on where they think things are going to be next season. So it was a very, very positive and uplifting visit.”

The other two commits who are intriguing are Travis Waller—a 4-star dual-threat quarterback from Anaheim, California—and Alex Ofodile—a 4-star wide receiver from Columbia, Missouri.

Waller, who plays at Servite high school, is a lightning-fast 6’3” quarterback who fits into the Marcus Mariota mold. Waller has a good arm, knows the spread offense, and figures to be a competitor for the Ducks starting quarterback job come next season.

While Waller is an important recruit for the Ducks, wide receiver Alex Ofodile may have a more immediate impact on the Oregon program.

Despite the fact that the Ducks have had success with their young wide receiver corps this season, they need more competent bodies at the position. Ofodile, who is 6’3”, represents another big target for the Ducks, something that the program desperately covets.

 

Visits

Oregon’s biggest recruiting weekend of the season will occur when Stanford comes rolling into town on Nov. 1. So far the Ducks are set to host eight recruits, three of whom have already committed to the program.

However, the second biggest recruiting weekend of the season already occurred. As the Ducks were taking down then seventh-ranked Michigan State on Sept. 6, the program was hosting six recruits, three of whom were previously committed to Oregon—3-star tackles Brady Aiello and Calvin Throckmorton and 3-star safety PJ Locke.

The other three visiting recruits may prove to be more important to Oregon’s final recruiting rankings this season. Those three—4-star safety Marvell Tell from Encino, California, 4-star cornerback Micah Abernathy from Norcross, Georgia, and 3-star defensive tackle Rex Manu from Mililani, Hawaii—are important because they all play on the defensive side of the ball.

The Ducks 2015 offensive class is off to a fantastic start with Taj Griffin, Travis Waller, Alex Ofodile and Zach Okun already locked up. However, the defensive side of the ball lacks numbers and blue-chip prospects.

Adding the likes of Tell, Abernathy and Stanford commit Manu to the recruiting class would be huge for the program.

 

Targets

Oregon’s top targets for the rest of the recruiting season will come on the defensive side of the ball. With a top quarterback, running back, wide receiver and multiple offensive linemen already in tow, it’s time for Mark Helfrich and new defensive coordinator Don Pellum to kick their defensive recruiting into high gear.

Their best opportunity to make a great impression on defensive recruits will come on Nov. 1 when the best player in the country—5-star defensive end Josh Sweat from Chesapeake, Virginia—comes to Eugene for a visit.

Sweat, who left his most recent game in an ambulance after suffering an apparent leg injury, is down to his final five programs and has been compared to 2014 first overall pick Jadaveon Clowney.

If the Ducks strike out on Sweat, the program will be looking to target the second-best defensive end in the country who just happens to be visiting on Nov. 1 as well. His name is Keisean Lucier-South—a 5-star recruit from Orange, California.

Lucier-South, who also has offers from UCLA, Oklahoma, Michigan and Alabama, has to be the Ducks' top target if they lose out on Sweat.

The dream of all dreams for the program would be to grab both Josh Sweat and Keisean Lucier-South. Getting commitments from the two top-ranked defensive ends in the country may be a dream, but it would represent the biggest recruiting win in the history of the Oregon program.

 

Jason Gold is Bleacher Report’s lead Oregon writer. Follow him on twitter @TheSportsGuy33.  

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Oregon Ducks Recruiting: Latest Updates on 2014 Commits, Visits and Targets

While the Oregon Ducks are off a great start on the field this season, they may actually be having a better season so far on the recruiting trail...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

University of Tennessee Admits 19 Freshmen with Peyton Manning Namesakes

Peyton Manning is old.

Sure, he’s not Methuselah-brewing-bathtub-gin old, but the fact that 19 freshmen named in his honor just began taking classes this fall at the University of Tennessee should put his career longevity in perspective for you. 

Indeed, Torchbearer ­(h/t NFL.com’s Bryan Fischer)—Tennessee’s alumni magazine—reports that a wave of students bearing the name “Peyton” or “Payton” have matriculated into the school’s freshman class. Many were named after Manning, who came into his own and began laying waste to college football defenses for the Volunteers 18 years ago. 

Peyton Lara is one such freshman, and says he attended high school with three other Peytons. Three. Multiple other Peytons. 

Lara told Torchbearer he met Manning at a Volunteers football practice as a youngster. 

“I met Peyton Manning after one of the UT football practices when I was about a year old,” Lara said, adding that his family keeps a picture of the moment. I highly suggest you go to the Torchbearer’s website and look at it. Young Lara is bawling his eyes out in the arms of a very sweaty Manning. 

Another UT freshman with a Manning namesake is Lindsey Peyton Lauricella, who says she was named in part for Manning and that her grandparents know the quarterback’s parents.

“Part of my name does honor Peyton Manning,” Lauricella said. “But I wasn’t especially named after him…Peyton is a huge family name for us…and my grandparents are very good friends with Archie and Olivia Manning.”

To reiterate—because it can’t be said enough—children named after Peyton Manning are beginning to take college classes. They are adults—or near enough that it makes no matter. Spooky.

So strap in for next season, when teens named after Tom Brady will begin applying to Michigan. Just kidding. That will be like…oh…maybe five or six years from now.

  

Follow Dan on Twitter for more sports and pop culture news.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Oklahoma vs. West Virginia Complete Game Preview

After a flawless nonconference slate, the Oklahoma Sooners will open up Big 12 play on the road against the West Virginia Mountaineers.

Don’t be fooled by the Mountaineers' record in recent years. The last two games between these two came down to the final minutes, with the Sooners escaping with victory—50-49 in 2012 and 16-7 in 2013.

With West Virginia poised to be a competitive threat to the Big 12 title, expect more of the same when these two take the field on Saturday.

Here’s everything you need to know.

 

Where: Milan Puskar Stadium

When: Saturday, September 20 at 7:30 p.m. ET

Watch: FOX

Live Stream: Sooner Sports

Listen: Sooner Sports Radio Network

Betting Line: Oklahoma (-8) per Odds Shark

Begin Slideshow

Notre Dame Football: 4 Surprises from the 1st Quarter of 2014

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Notre Dame football's 3-0 start to the season certainly isn’t surprising. Odds Shark indicates the Irish were favored against Rice, Michigan and Purdue, after all. How they got to 3-0, however, was unexpected.

Let’s take stock of what we didn’t see coming in Notre Dame’s first three games.

Begin Slideshow

Jameis Winston Has Already Ruined His Chance to Repeat as Heisman Winner

Winning two Heisman trophies is really difficult. After all, it's only been done once in history (Archie Griffin in 1974-75).

It's even harder when you stand on a table and scream out vulgar phrases in this era where social media is king. If Jameis Winston's lukewarm statistics thus far this season hasn't all but killed his chances of winning a second Heisman Trophy, his seemingly perpetual bad decision-making has.

By now you've probably heard that Winston will be suspended for the first half of the Florida State Seminoles matchup with the Clemson Tigers on Saturday. The infraction that brought about this punishment was minor in the grand scheme of things, but still incessantly childish and stupid.

I won't repeat the phrase Winston used while standing on a table in a building on campus on Tuesday, but if you need details, you can check out the Deadspin article written by Samer Kalaf. (Disclaimer: contains vulgar text.)

With so much negativity haunting the sport thanks to the domestic violence charges that have plagued the NFL over the past month, this is not a good look.

The media that genuinely spurs on a Heisman campaign, and the voters who will make the final decision, are less likely to be favorable toward a player who has behaved the way Winston has.

We were all young once. You live, learn and take your lumps along the way. You can only hope that a person like Winston, with so much to lose, becomes cognizant of the fact that he must behave himself in a more civilized manner.

You hear the apology, but one has to wonder: does this kid really get it?

Today it's a second Heisman Trophy and perhaps a few slots on NFL teams' draft boards that are lost. If this isn't corrected, what's next to lose?

It would be different if this were his first offense. There was also the alleged sexual assault charges that didn't stick. While Winston was never found guilty of anything, we all know that such allegations place a stain on the name of the accused.

Fair or not, that is the case.

Then there's the shoplifting-for-crab-legs incident. While these infractions are obviously at varying levels of seriousness, it all still points to a young man who has a problem with self control.

Perhaps Winston's case for the Heisman would be stronger had he started the season better. In Week 1, he threw two interceptions and looked out of sorts until late in the game. He and the Noles barely survived the Oklahoma State Cowboys that day.

He looked more himself the following week, but then again, he was only facing Citadel. For the year, Winston has thrown for 626 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions.

Compound Winston's slow start on the field with the fact that Oregon's Marcus Mariota is playing lights out. He's scored 11 total touchdowns and he hasn't turned the ball over all season.

He also has a sparkling reputation as a leader and high-character guy, as per Oregon Live. Notre Dame's Everett Golson has rebounded from his own issues in 2013 to have a stellar start in 2014. Golson also has 11 total touchdowns and hasn't turned the ball over either.

Heading into Week 4, Winston's on-field resume can't compare, and he isn't exactly the subject of a feel-good story right now.

Voters will likely be weighing the following scenarios: (Mariota) "kid having a fantastic year for a good team, with no off-the-field issues" vs. (Golson) "kid having a great year with storied program, who has bounced back from an infraction a year ago" vs. (Winston) "talented kid who has consistently found himself in controversial and dangerous situations off the field, but oh yeah, he can really play."

Which player do you think will get the nod?

At this point, if Winston is still thinking about the Heisman Trophy, he shouldn't be. The priority for him should be to focus on improving his decision-making and maturing...in a hurry.

He has to get to a place where it bothers him that masses of people think he's an idiot, and that his intelligence—or perceived lack thereof—is a running joke. Winston is not a stupid person, but he is trying to prove otherwise.

Here's to hoping all the news he makes going forward is for touchdowns and charity work.

 

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10 Biggest Questions Facing Top 25 Teams Heading into Week 4

Week 4 of the 2014 college football season is, in a way, less jam-packed.  

There are only 55 games Saturday—that's not a lot, by comparison—only 14 of which feature Top 25 teams. Of those games, only one—Clemson at Florida State—puts ranked teams against one another. 

So pickings are slim, as they say.

However, if the last two weeks are any indication, we'll get another batch of great games all the same. 

Which 10 storylines among the Top 25 teams should you keep an eye on? The answers are in the following slides. 

The only criterion here is that one of the teams involved has to rank in either The Associated Press or Amway coaches poll

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Apple's Tim Cook Giddily Responds to 'Roll Tide' with 'War Eagle' in iPhone Line

With the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus hitting stores Friday, Apple CEO Tim Cook was on hand in Palo Alto, Calif., to greet some of the countless consumers waiting in line for the new technology.

One Alabama football fan naturally shouted a "Roll Tide" to Cook, who graduated from Alabama's archrival, Auburn University, in 1982. Cook did not hesitate to respond with Auburn's war cry, "War Eagle!"

This is not the first time Cook has repped his alma mater at the Crimson Tide's expense. Shortly after Auburn's legendary game-winning field goal return over Alabama in the 2013 Iron Bowl with one second left on the clock, Tim Cook took a lighthearted shot at Bama in his 2013 IQLA Lifetime Achievement Award acceptance speech:

[IDG, h/t Al.com, YouTube]

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Big 12 Football: Ranking the Big 12 Quarterbacks Through 3 Weeks

We're three weeks through the season, and already there's been plenty of shakeup among the Big 12 signal-callers. 

Clint Trickett at WVU has established himself as one of the league's best passers, David Ash's career at Texas is over after yet another concussion, and Daxx Garman may be in for the long haul at Oklahoma State. 

With that, let's rank the league's quarterbacks through three weeks. 

Note: Stats for Jake Waters will include Thursday night's loss to Auburn.

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Notre Dame Football: The Good and the Bad at the Bye Week

Notre Dame's 3-0 start has Irish fans feeling good about 2014. And it should.

Brian Kelly's second three-game winning streak to start the season is one more than Bob Davie, Tyrone Willingham and Charlie Weis combined. 

With the Irish taking the weekend off with their first bye of the season, there's no better time to take stock in what the Irish have accomplished at the season's quarter-turn. It might not all have been perfect, but in the wake of distractions and injuries, it's been a job well done. 

Statistically, Kelly's fifth team has been his strongest to date. At +78, the scoring margin is Notre Dame's best three-game, undefeated start since Ara Parseghian's 1970 squad. After struggling in the red zone, the Irish have scored in all 14 of their attempts. 

Brian VanGorder's young defense is also impressing. The Irish have the No. 4 scoring defense in the country, giving up just 10.3 points a game.

The Irish have forced nine turnovers, good for fifth-best in the country, and their clip of 2.67 turnovers a game is third-best in the country. 

As the Irish break before preparing to take on Syracuse, let's take a look at the good and bad at the bye week. 

 

*Unless otherwise noted, all quotes obtained firsthand. All stats courtesy of UND.com and CFBStats.com.

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College Football Playoff Matchups We Want to See the Most

The season has barely begun, but admit it: You’re already looking forward to the first College Football Playoff.

The potential for exciting matchups looms large. Rematches, rivalry showdowns and first-time meetings all look to be in play. 

Could we see Alabama-Auburn twice? Will the Tide be able to get revenge on Oklahoma? Or will two new squads enter the fray and surprise everyone?

The possibilities are endless. But here at B/R, we decided to choose potential clashes that stood out.

So let’s take a look at the most intriguing possible matchups selected by rivalry, tradition and performance thus far in 2014.

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East Carolina Pirates Look to Defeat the UNC Tar Heels Again

Many were surprised last weekend when the unranked East Carolina Pirates defeated the then No. 17 ranked Virginia Tech Hokies, but they probably shouldn't have been.

Last Saturday marked the third straight victory for the Pirates against an ACC opponent, all coming on the road. This weekend, the Pirates will get a visit from in-state rival, the North Carolina Tar Heels. 

Last season, the Pirates defeated the Tar Heels 55-31 to win their first game in Chapel Hill since 1975. ECU quarterback Shane Carden was a big part of the victory as he threw for 376 yards, three touchdown passes and ran for three scores. The Pirates offense gained 603 yards against the Tar Heels and they are fully capable of doing the same thing again this year. 

This season, Carden ranks ninth in the NCAA in total offense with 354.7 yards per game. Not only do the Tar Heels have to worry about Carden, they also have to worry about Justin Hardy and the rest of the East Carolina receivers.

Hardy has caught 289 receptions for 3,314 yards and 27 touchdowns during his career. NFLDraftScout.com has Hardy rated as their sixth-ranked senior receiver. Isaiah Jones and Cam Worthy are the other receivers who can pose problems for the Tar Heels on Saturday.

North Carolina's defense has forced nine turnovers in two games, but they have yet to see a trio of receivers like East Carolina's. The Tar Heel defense will have their hands full trying to limit Hardy, Jones and Worthy, who have all produced at least 200 yards receiving this season.

If the Pirates are going to defeat the Tar Heels, their defense will have to contain an excellent Tar Heel offense led by quarterback Marquise Williams. 

In two games in 2014, Williams has 424 passing yards and he also leads the Tar Heels in rushing with 115 yards. Junior guard Landon Turner will miss Saturday's game due to an undisclosed injury which leaves the Tar Heels with four underclassmen on their offensive line.

True freshman UNC guard Jared Cohen will make his first start against an East Carolina defense that ranks 34th in the nation in rush defense. 

When looking at the East Carolina's nonconference schedule at the beginning of the season, it looked like they could have a 1-3 record before playing their first conference game. Now the Pirates are 2-1 and are three-point favorites on Saturday according to Odds Shark. ECU could have their best season in school history, but only if they defeat the Tar Heels on Saturday.

This East Carolina team is solid on both sides of the ball, so that’s why many experts are picking them to defeat the Tar Heels.

 

 

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Alabama Football: Tony Brown Emerging at Right Time for Tide Secondary

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — As Alabama’s secondary gets more and more depleted early in the season, the Crimson Tide could be getting some much-needed good news this week ahead of their SEC opener against Florida.

Alabama coach Nick Saban said that 5-star cornerback Tony Brown “will play a lot in this game.”

“Tony's definitely improving, definitely getting better,” Saban said. “I think the opportunities that he's had to play in the last two games have been good for his development and his confidence.”

It’s unclear how much of Brown’s playing time is based on injuries around him versus his growth and development early on in his playing career. But if he is indeed ready to take on a hefty role, as Saban says he will this week, it will be a big boost for Alabama’s secondary as it heads into conference play.

Saban didn’t say anything else other than that Brown will play “a lot,” but if practice is any indication, Brown will be seeing time at his natural position, outside at cornerback.

During Tuesday’s media viewing period, Brown took first-team reps at cornerback, on the other side of Cyrus Jones in a nickel drill, the only time this week that the media saw that drill.

Some thought Star could be a good spot for Brown to learn the secondary early on, especially with regular Star Jarrick Williams out with an injury and Geno Smith playing free safety in the first half for the suspended Nick Perry. But Maurice Smith—built more like a safety—occupied that role in practice, allowing the rangy Brown to play outside.

Eddie Jackson had played that other cornerback spot the last two games after he came back from a knee injury much earlier than expected, and Bradley Sylve struggled in the season opener against West Virginia.

Jackson, though, hurt his quad against Southern Miss (Brown took his place in that game) and doesn’t appear to be ready to play just yet.

Saban only offered up this assessment of Jackson’s injury after the Southern Miss game:

That leaves Brown to step in, a guy that came in with as much hype as anyone in Alabama’s 2014 No. 1 recruiting class.

The 5-star cornerback from Beaumont, Texas, enrolled in the spring and by all accounts impressed as he got an early acclimation period into Saban’s defense and life as a college football player.

His teammates praised his work ethic, and it paid off for him in the spring game when he caught an interception—even while playing with an injured shoulder.

This season, he’s worked his way into more and more playing time. He’s mostly played with the No. 2s after the game is out of hand and last week got some time with the 1s when Jackson went out.

“I think he’s handling it well,” cornerback Cyrus Jones said of the increased role. “He’s always been a guy who’s eager to learn, takes coaching well, so he’s progressing really well.”

Brown has all the talent in the world to make a difference on this team, where pass defense has been suspect so far.

He ran track in high school, winning a state championship in the 110-meter hurdles and placing second in the 100. The speed is there to keep up with elite SEC receivers.

But what’s most impressive is the size that comes with it.

Alabama lists him at 6’0”, 198 pounds, and he looked every bit of that when he got to campus in the spring and has only gotten stronger.

Brown has the makings of a superstar at cornerback if he puts everything together. He’ll get his first chance to do that on Saturday.

 

Marc Torrence is the Alabama lead writer for Bleacher Report. All quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. All stats come from CFBStats. All recruiting information comes from 247Sports.

Follow on Twitter @marctorrence.

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Miami Football Recruiting: Latest Updates on 2015 Commits, Visits and Targets

The 2015 recruiting cycle continues to rage on throughout the college football regular season, and the Miami Hurricanes are still looking to add a few more top prospects.

Al Golden and his coaching staff have compiled the 11th-best class in the nation and No. 3 in the Atlantic Coast Conference, according to 247Sports.

Three running backs and a safety highlight the solid haul of 22 current verbal commitments, but plenty of updates on commits and targets keep coming.

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