NCAA Football

Matt Jones Reportedly Declares for 2015 NFL Draft: Latest Details and Reaction

Matt Jones ran over SEC opposition all season long. Now, Florida's junior running back will reportedly be running to the NFL next season.     

Nick de la Torre first reported the story:

De la Torre added more details about why Jones might be making the decision in his report:

First, he has a young daughter and the opportunity to start making money and being able to financially provide for her was a big factor that played into his decision. Second, Jones has already had two knee surgeries (one in high school) and has battled injures throughout his career at Florida. He is mostly healthy now after splitting reps with Kelvin Taylor and being on a 'pitch count' for reps in practice.

It's also possible that Jones doesn't want to be a part of the overhaul of Florida's program, as head coach Will Muschamp was fired midseason, though he finished the season as coach.

Jones was excellent for Florida this season, rushing for 817 yards, six touchdowns and a solid 4.9 yards per carry. He also caught 11 passes for 65 yards and a score.

He's likely to be a mid-round pick if he comes out in the draft, especially in a year when the position could be fairly deep with players like Todd Gurley and Melvin Gordon hitting the league.

 

 

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Should Georgia Bulldogs Head Coach Mark Richt Be on the Hot Seat?

Despite several key injuries and suspensions, the Georgia Bulldogs finished the regular season with a respectable record of 9-3. But that's not enough in Athens, where expectations are always great.

Bleacher Report College Football Analysts Michael Felder and Barrett Sallee discuss Mark Richt's status at Georgia.

Should the Bulldogs make a change at head coach?

Check out the video and let us know!  

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Of Course Steve Spurrier Is Coming Back for 2015

What should have been an inevitability became a reality on Monday.

According to Josh Kendall of The State, South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier will return to the program following a 6-6 season and the first loss to Clemson since 2008.

"Give me two or three more [years]," he told Kendall. "I used to say four or five, now I’m down to two or three. I mean, I could get in a car wreck, but I’m definitely planning on being back."

Of course he is. The return of the Head Ball Coach should never even have been in doubt, as Scott Hood of GamecockCountry.com notes:

This is South Carolina, not Alabama.

That's not a slight against the program Spurrier has built in Columbia, it's just the reality of the current state of the program.

When the best player in program history, the winningest quarterback in program history and the majority of the front four and secondary moves on, there are speed bumps. That's exactly where South Carolina found itself after star defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, quarterback Connor Shaw, defensive end Chaz Sutton and corner back Vic Hampton, among others, moved on after the 2013 season.

For a program like Alabama, those rebuilding years are still 10-win seasons, as was the case in 2010. For South Carolina, though, they result in seasons like this. Inconsistency, uncertainty and frustration are inevitable, and something from which the Head Ball Coach couldn't escape.

That's OK, though.

The program is still on stable footing. Spurrier told Kendall that the staff will largely remain intact.

"All our coaches are out recruiting. All of coaches are under contract," he said. "Some of them may get a job somewhere else, you never know, and we’ll go from there. We are probably pretty flexible right now a little bit on the staff, but I believe that almost all of our guys will be back."

To put it more simply, coaches that are perceived to be part of the problem and not the solution (i.e.: defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward) are likely being told "hey, you might want to look somewhere else."

As Hood mentioned in the tweet above, the future is very bright. 

Running back Marcus Lattimore, who just retired from the NFL after attempting a comeback from knee injuries suffered at South Carolina, will be back on campus earning his degree this spring. Spurrier has already stated, according to Yahoo! Sports, that he would find Lattimore a job if he wants one.

The Gamecocks currently have the eighth-ranked recruiting class in the country, according to 247Sports.com. Five of those commitments are from defensive backs or defensive linemen—two glaring positions of weakness on this year's squad—who are rated with four or more stars.

Why walk away now?

He's made it known that he wants to build South Carolina into an SEC championship-caliber team, and in the SEC East, the door is about as open as it possibly could be. Florida is undergoing a coaching change, Georgia is breaking in a new quarterback, Tennessee is still building and Missouri has won the division twice with a grand total of one conference win over a team that finished with a .500 record (Georgia in 2013). 

Even for a 6-6 program that didn't live up to expectations, an immediate turnaround isn't out of the question.

Spurrier will be back, but he really didn't need to say it publicly.

It was a "gimmie."

 

Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer and video analyst for Bleacher Report as well as a co-host of the CFB Hangover on Bleacher Report Radio (Sundays, 9-11 a.m. ET) on Sirius 93, XM 208.

Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. All stats are courtesy of cfbstats.com, and all recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports. Follow Barrett on Twitter @BarrettSallee.

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Will Alabama Keep No. 1 Ranking with Statement Win over Missouri?

Alabama logs another huge SEC victory with a 55-44 win against Auburn in the latest addition of the Iron Bowl. They now move their focus to the Missouri Tigers for a shot at the SEC Championship. 

Bleacher Report College Football Analysts Michael Felder and Barrett Sallee discuss whether a big win over Missouri will be enough to solidify the Crimson Tide as the No. 1 team in the country.

Who is the best team in the country?

Watch the video and let us know.

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Making the Case for Hugh Freeze to Florida

The Florida job is a monster, and it appears that athletics director Jeremy Foley is going after Godzilla.

Or, at least, one of the characters in the movie.

Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze has established himself is one of the top up-and-coming head coaches in college football, after leading the Rebels to three straight bowls in his first three seasons in Oxford. His fine work culminated this year, in which he went 9-3 and won the Egg Bowl.

That sound you hear is the sound of cash registers.

Sports Illustrated's Pete Thamel reported over the weekend that Freeze is on Foley's short list, and SBNation's Steven Godfrey reports that an offer has been made by Florida to Freeze that would pay him between $4.2 million and $4.3 million annually.

Florida, predictably, denied those offers.

That doesn't mean one won't be made or that the topic isn't being discussed between Florida and Freeze's representatives.

It's likely that Freeze—a Mississippi native—is just taking advantage of the opportunity to get a big raise (as he should). Whether that's the case or there's genuine interest, Florida is still the attractive girl at the prom who wants to dance.

What would be the draw for Freeze to go to Gainesville?

 

Foundation 

Florida is a sleeping giant in the SEC East and has the foundation in place for Freeze—or anybody—to orchestrate an immediate turnaround.

Freeze already did that once before, when he turned a Rebels team that had one conference win over a two-year span into a perennial bowl team.

At Florida, Freeze would inherit a program that has reeled in top-10 recruiting classes in each of the last three years, the best cornerback in college football in Vernon Hargreaves III, a veteran leader at linebacker in Antonio Morrison, a dynamic running back duo in Matt Jones and Kelvin Taylor—both of whom can run between the tackles—and a potential superstar receiver in Demarcus Robinson.

"We’ve got a deep and talented roster, so don't let that new guy tell you he ain't got no good players," former head coach Will Muschamp said during the departure announcing his dismissal. "Tell you that right now. They got some good football players in that locker room."

He's right, and that's exactly why Muschamp is no longer employed there.

The talent was there to build off of the success of the 2012 team that went 11-2 and earned a Sugar Bowl berth, but an antiquated offensive system, inconsistency from the quarterback and some of the worst luck in college football history prevented Muschamp from doing that.

 

Opportunity

The SEC West is, more or less, seven cluster homes where all the neighbors blare Mastodon into the wee hours of the morning even if you call the cops seven times.

The SEC East, on the other hand, is the quiet neighborhood out in the country where you have to fill your car up with gas just to visit the next-door neighbors.

Six SEC West teams have played in the final five BCS National Championship Games, and another—Alabama—is currently the top-ranked team in the College Football Playoff rankings.

The East is a hot mess. 

Missouri has won the division in each of the last two seasons and gone 14-2 over that span, beating only one team—Georgia last year—that finished with an SEC record over .500.

If an SEC championship is Freeze's goal, it's much more attainable at Florida than at Ole Miss—despite Ole Miss' recent success.

 

Recruiting Bonanza

Part of the reason Ole Miss has been on the map over Freeze's first two seasons was the work he's done in living rooms.

The Rebels reeled in the eighth-ranked recruiting class in the country in 2013. That class featured the nation's No. 1 overall player Robert Nkemdiche, 5-star offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil, 5-star wide receiver Laquon Treadwell, 5-star safety Tony Conner and a boatload of talented players who have become stars in Oxford.

That class was the exception at Ole Miss, and Freeze had been working to make it become the rule.

It's been the rule in Gainesville for decades.

Can you imagine Freeze sporting the orange and blue in the fertile recruiting ground of Florida? He could throw a rock blindfolded and hit a dozen 5-star recruits. If he took the blindfold off, he could hit an entire class.

As Derek Tyson of ESPN.com correctly points out, three members of Freeze's Ole Miss staff—Tom Allen, Chris Kiffin and Dan Werner—have extensive ties to the sunshine state. Would Freeze bring all of them to Gainesville? Probably, but even if he doesn't, Florida still has coaches like defensive backs coach Travaris Robinson with Florida ties holding over from Muschamp's staff for now.

Freeze's ability to recruit combined with one of the most talent-rich states in the country would be terrifying to other coaches in the SEC.

 

It's a tough choice for Freeze.

It's no secret that he's happy in Oxford, takes pride in building the Ole Miss program into a national power and intends to sustain that success over a prolonged period of time. 

Florida is a destination job, though, and those offers only come along every once in a while.

It is, in every sense of the phrase, a "rich man's problem."

 

Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer and video analyst for Bleacher Report as well as a co-host of the CFB Hangover on Bleacher Report Radio (Sundays, 9-11 a.m. ET) on Sirius 93, XM 208.

Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. All stats are courtesy of cfbstats.com, and all recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports. Follow Barrett on Twitter @BarrettSallee.

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LSU Football: Best Bowl Options for the Tigers

LSU head coach Les Miles can breathe a little easier than he did before Thanksgiving. 

Miles was under immense pressure to defeat Texas A&M on turkey day. He delivered with a 23-17 win. 

The Tigers not only won in an exciting game, but did so in style. The offense looked revived with 491 yards of total offense, 384 of which was on the ground. True freshman Leonard Fournette led the way with a career-high 149 yards and an emphatic touchdown run:

Looks just like Herschel/Bates https://t.co/fZll6XfoeL RT @cjzero: Leonard Fournette runs OVER Howard Matthews https://t.co/zEMcOW9XFt

— Kipp Adams (@KippLAdams) November 28, 2014

LSU's win makes them all the more appealing to bowl committees. The 8-4 Tigers must now wait for their fate next week.

LSU athletic director Joe Alleva joined 104.5/104.9 ESPN's Culotta & The Prince on Monday morning to discuss possible bowl destinations. Alleva mentioned that LSU will be in the "Group of Six" bowl games, which includes The TaxSlayer Bowl in Jacksonville, Florida, The AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl in Houston, Texas, The Belk Bowl in Charlotte, North Carolina, The Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl in Nashville, Tennessee, The 56th AutoZone Liberty Bowl in Memphis, Tennessee and The Outback Bowl in Tampa, Florida.  

This bowl season will be the first time the SEC conference office will pick which bowl game the team goes to in the group of six, per Scott Rabalais of The Advocate. Schools will be allowed to rank its bowl preference, but the decision will ultimately be made by the SEC. 

104.5/104.9 ESPN's James Haralson included more important highlights from Alleva's interview:

Joe Alleva on @1045espn's #MorningDrive: Bowl-eligible teams will submit lists of the bowls that they would prefer going to.

— James Haralson (@jamesharalson) December 1, 2014

Joe Alleva on @1045espn's #MorningDrive: Conference office is looking at good matchups, and proximity for #LSU fans - on bowl destination.

— James Haralson (@jamesharalson) December 1, 2014

Joe Alleva on @1045espn's #MorningDrive: The Belk Bowl "wouldn't make sense" for #LSU because of the distance to travel.

— James Haralson (@jamesharalson) December 1, 2014

Joe Alleva on @1045espn's #MorningDrive: "I would be very shocked if we ended up in Shreveport." (On the Independence bowl)

— James Haralson (@jamesharalson) December 1, 2014

The most interesting comment Alleva made was about The Belk Bowl and its not ideal proximity. Pod Katt of AndTheValleyShook.com poked holes through that idea:

Joe Alleva apparently doesn’t know how to use a map. The Belk Bowl at BoA Stadium is only about a 1/2 hour farther driving than Tampa was

— Pod Katt (@valleyshook) December 1, 2014

Realistically, only Houston and Memphis are "drivable" Bowl destinations anyway. You would fly to Tampa/Jax/Nash/Char

— Pod Katt (@valleyshook) December 1, 2014

Katt is right. Only drives to Memphis and Houston are favorable. 

The Texas Bowl makes the most sense for LSU. The Tigers have alumni scattered throughout the east side of Texas, and Houston is the most favorable driving location, as it is only a four-hour drive from Baton Rouge. 

Jeff Howe of Horns247.com is reporting that Texas will likely play in the Texas Bowl. That means the Longhorns will play a team from the SEC.

Rumors are swirling of a possible matchup against old rival Texas A&M, but Chip Brown of Horns Digest said on 105.3 The Fan that the SEC will not allow it to happen. That opens the door for LSU. Jerry Palm of CBSSports.com believes the Tigers squaring off against the Longhorns will happen. 

The problem, though, is LSU played its season opener against Wisconsin in Houston's NRG Stadium, where the Texas Bowl takes place. A repeat trip might not be ideal for fans who went there earlier this year. 

Rabalais sees LSU eventually going to The TaxSlayer Bowl. Expert college football prognosticator Phil Steele and SB Nation's Jason Kirk predict the Tigers will play West Virginia in the Liberty Bowl.  

Alleva's interview this morning should provide comfort to LSU fans. Though the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, Louisiana would provide an easier drive, the Tigers should never play in a bowl game of that caliber.

It is hard to predict where the Tigers will go. This season, it will be out of LSU and the fans' hands. 

Miles can only hope that the SEC league office in Birmingham is kind to him. 

 

Stats, rankings and additional information provided by cfbstats.comESPN.com and LSU Sports Information. Recruiting information provided by 247Sports.

Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Follow me on Twitter @CarterthePower.     

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College Football Picks: Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets vs. Florida State Seminoles

The Coastal Division Champion Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets will square off against the Atlantic Division’s Florida State Seminoles in this season’s ACC Championship Game at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte. Saturday’s kickoff is set for 8 p.m. (ET), and the game will be broadcast nationally on ESPN.

Georgia Tech wrapped up play in the ACC with a huge 28-6 upset of Clemson as a two-point home underdog on Nov. 15, and this past Saturday it stunned Georgia 30-24 in overtime as a 10.5-point underdog on the road. The Yellow Jackets are now a perfect 5-0 both straight-up and against the spread in their last five games. The total has stayed “under” in three of their last four outings.

The Seminoles survived yet another scare to remain undefeated on the year with a tight 24-19 victory against rival Florida this past Saturday as seven-point home favorites. They are now just 1-3 ATS in their last four games and 3-9 ATS this season. The total has stayed under in their last four games.

 

Georgia Tech vs. Florida State Betting Storylines

The Yellow Jackets got hot at the right time of the year to claim this season’s Coastal Division title in the ACC, but the level of competition also helped their cause. The win against the Bulldogs definitely gives this team some credibility heading into this matchup, but you have be careful not to overestimate Georgia Tech in light of just how big a rivalry that game was.

One thing you do not have to question is the Yellow Jackets’ ability to move the ball on the ground. They are ranked fourth in the nation in rushing with an average of 333.8 yards a game. Quarterback Justin Thomas has thrown for only 1,460 yards, but he does have 16 touchdown passes. His biggest contribution has been with his legs after rushing for 861 yards and five scores. There is some concern on the other side of the ball with a defense that has allowed an average of 30.8 points in five of its last seven contests.

It has not always been pretty, but you have to give credit to head coach Jimbo Fisher and the entire Florida State roster for its ability to finish strong and win games. The Seminoles have consistently tested their resolve with numerous early-game deficits, yet in the end they have ended up on top in every game they have played for two seasons now. This has to count for something, especially this time of the year when so much is on the line.

The main man behind this incredible run has been quarterback Jameis Winston. After winning last year’s Heisman Trophy as a true freshman, he has thrown for 3,250 yards and 21 touchdowns this season while completing an impressive 65.1 percent of his 392 attempts. The biggest intangible he brings to the table is the ability to make the big play when his team needs one the most. Florida State’s defense has allowed an average of 22 points a game, and it also knows how to come up big when the game is on the line.

 

Georgia Tech vs. Florida State Betting Odds and Trends by Doc’s Sports

Point Spread: Florida State -3.5

Total Line: OFF

The betting trends on Odds Shark have the Yellow Jackets going 5-1 both SU and ATS in six games away from home this season, and the total has stayed under in six of their last nine games.

The Seminoles are a perfect 28-0 SU in their last 28 games, but they have covered ATS in only three of their last 10. The total has stayed under in five of their last eight games.

Head-to-head in this matchup, Florida State has won nine of the last 12 meetings SU, but it has failed to cover in the last five games. The total has stayed under in four of the last six meetings.

 

College Football Picks: Georgia Tech vs. Florida State Betting Predictions

There is no doubt it has been a bumpy ride wagering on Florida State this season, but this current 3.5-point spread is still a bit low when it comes to comparing the overall talent level on both of these teams. The Bulldogs should be able to hang tight with Florida State just like quite a few other teams have done this season, but in the end, look for the Seminoles to pull away to get the win both SU and ATS.

Take: Florida State (-3.5) over Georgia Tech; 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 6

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Super 16 Poll Week 15: Complete Rankings Released for 2014 Season

Every week, new rankings are released that provide a look at the new College Football Playoff and the overall Top 25. What the Super 16 Poll attempts to accomplish is provide a look at a potential 16-team bracket and which teams would be involved in the extended playoff.      

There is currently only a four-team playoff, but we can dream of what the future might hold. Programs such as Mississippi State and UCLA might still stand a chance at a title while TCU and Baylor wouldn't have to worry as much about who is the better Big 12 team.    

Here's a look at the most recent Super 16 Poll, Bleacher Report rankings and analysis of the standings.

 

Analysis

Alabama overtook Florida State in the Week 14 rankings and remains at the top spot—which goes along with both the Associated Press and Amway Coaches polls.

The Crimson Tide look like a powerhouse program again after dismantling rival Auburn in the Iron Bowl. Along with their results on the field, the Tide are also helped by Ole Miss' win over Mississippi State because their lone loss was against the Rebels.

SportsCenter also notes how critical the Iron Bowl victory has been in recent seasons:

Amari Cooper blew the top off Auburn's defense by tying his season-high 224 receiving yards and three touchdowns in the same game. Having weapons like Cooper, Blake Sims and T.J. Yeldon—who has 1,065 yards from scrimmage and nine total touchdowns—gives the Tide one of the best offenses in the country.

If there were to be a 16-team playoff, Alabama would be the No. 1 seed. But it wouldn't be up to 'Bama alone to carry the SEC conference.

Following a loss to Ole Miss in the Egg Bowl, Mississippi State is on the outside looking in under the current system. Head coach Dan Mullen spoke about the loss and shared his thoughts on the team's chances to make the playoff, per George Schroeder of USA Today:

I didn’t think we were getting in the playoff, anyway. ... I’m sure we made a lot of people around the country happy. And maybe a lot of (selection) committee members breathed a big sigh of relief right now. They don’t have to consider it.

This is as tough as it gets. I don’t care about the stakes. This game is for bragging rights in the state. It’s the most important game we play. So obviously, it is a devastating loss.

Being one of the 16 teams in the playoff certainly wouldn't lessen the hurt after losing the Egg Bowl, but it would give the team a shot at a title. For a program that hasn't enjoyed as much success as some of its SEC counterparts, being in contention would be huge.

Along with the Bulldogs, Ohio State, TCU and Baylor wouldn't have to worry about results this weekend. Georgia Tech and Arizona might also have a chance at a title rather than playing in a bowl game with no implications.

The Super 16 Poll might not have any true significance at this point, but it should be interesting to see where each team lands moving forward. Several teams may be in favor of an expanded playoff, but it remains a pipe dream with only four getting in this year.

 

Follow @RCorySmith on Twitter.

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UCLA Football: Best Bowl Game Options for the Bruins

UCLA fell short of its goal to win the Pac-12 Conference championship, but the Bruins still have plenty to play for in the postseason.

A win in its bowl game gives UCLA back-to-back 10-win seasons for the first time since 1997 and 1998, but it also helps wash away some of the sour taste losing the regular-season finale to Stanford left the Bruins. 

"They've accomplished a lot, [and] that's why it's so disappointing. All of that gets overshadowed when you go out and you play like this in a big game like this," head coach Jim Mora said. 

Closing the book on 2014 with an emphatic win won't give UCLA its shot at the conference title, but it does mean a more fitting end for a group that, as Mora said, has accomplished much together. 

 

National University Holiday Bowl

Saturday, Dec. 27; 8 p.m. ET 

Qualcomm Stadium; San Diego 

Big Ten vs. Pac-12 

Qualcomm Stadium is a short jaunt from UCLA's Westwood, California, campus—less than two hours without traffic. 

That, coupled with the sizable alumni base in San Diego, means the Holiday Bowl is a veritable home game for the Bruins. 

Not that it matters too much, mind you. All three of the Bruins' losses this season came at home, and their last trip to San Diego ended in a 49-26 blowout loss to Baylor in the 2012 Holiday Bowl. 

How much that outcome impacts the selection process this time is debatable, and probably negligible. The Holiday Bowl has second choice of Pac-12 teams after the College Football Playoff and New Year's Six bowls make their selections. 

UCLA is the most likely pick should Pac-12 South champion Arizona be denied an invitation to either of the upper-echelon contests. CBSSports.com's Jerry Palm has the Bruins headed here. 

 

Valero Alamo Bowl 

Friday, Jan. 2; 6:45 p.m. ET 

Alamodome; San Antonio

Big 12 vs. Pac-12 

The Alamo Bowl gets the first crack at Pac-12 teams not participating in either the College Football Playoff or one of the New Year's Six bowls.

UCLA is most likely destined for San Antonio if Oregon beats Arizona in Friday's Pac-12 Championship Game to land in the playoff and the Wildcats are invited to one of the top-tier games.

That's the scenario many are projecting, including Phil Steele and SB Nation's Jason Kirk.  

A bowl game in Texas has potentially far-reaching implications for UCLA's future. Mora and his staff have upped the ante on recruiting the Lone Star State, last year landing 4-star linebacker Zach Whitley and this year, pursuing 5-star linebacker Malik Jefferson.

The Bruins already planted their flag in Texas once this season, beating Charlie Strong's Longhorns in Arlington, 20-17.   

 

VIZIO Fiesta Bowl 

Thursday, Dec. 31; 4 p.m. ET 

University of Phoenix Stadium; Glendale, Arizona

New Year's Six Invitation 

While UCLA would need certain breaks to go its way, the team could still land in a New Year's Six bowl game. At least one projection—that of ESPN.com's Brett McMurphy—has the Bruins bound for the Fiesta Bowl. 

UCLA's Fiesta Bowl hopes would get a big boost if Arizona is to lose Friday. That would be three losses for the Wildcats, which the Bruins beat head-to-head on Nov. 1. 

 

Quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise cited. Recruiting rankings and information courtesy of 247Sports.com

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UCLA Football: Best Bowl Game Options for the Bruins

UCLA fell short of its goal to win the Pac -12 Conference championship, but the Bruins still have plenty to play for in the postseason...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

Big Ten Championship 2014: Wisconsin vs. Ohio State Odds, Schedule, Prediction

The 2014 Big Ten Championship Game features two teams that have been very impressive over the final stretch of the regular season. Wisconsin will represent the West in the title game after strong performances against Nebraska and Minnesota. Ohio State took care of business against Michigan State and Minnesota en route to winning the East.

These are two teams very capable of doing some serious damage against ranked opponents, and now they'll face each other for the first time since the Buckeyes took down the Badgers 31-24 on September 28, 2013. Needless to say, both teams are vastly different since that meeting.

Here's a look at the tale of the tape, via ESPN College Football:

So, here's the burning question: Which team has a better shot at the Big Ten title in a neutral location? Before Wisconsin and Ohio State return to the amateur gridiron, here's a look at all of the game's essential viewing information, followed by a prediction for the highly anticipated contest.

 

Viewing Information

When: Saturday, December 6

Where: Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana

Time: 8:17 p.m. ET

Channel: Fox

Live Stream: Fox Sports Go

Game Odds (via Odds Shark): Wisconsin -4

 

Preview and Prediction

The Badgers will have a very simple game plan entering this contest: Give the football to running back Melvin Gordon early and often. The junior ball-carrier has been virtually unstoppable this season, averaging 8.0 yards per carry while rushing for 2,260 yards and 26 touchdowns.

After a 151-yard performance Saturday against Minnesota, Gordon surpassed Ron Dayne for the most single-season rushing yards in Big Ten history, according to College GameDay:

Ohio State has been decent against the run this season, ranking 40th in the nation, but the Buckeyes are allowing an average of 4.03 yards per carry and have given up a total of 21 touchdowns on the ground. They'll need to tighten up that area of the game in a hurry or risk getting burned by Gordon.

While the Buckeyes handily defeated Michigan 42-28 in Week 14, it came at a significant cost. Exciting freshman quarterback J.T. Barrett was lost for the season with a broken ankle. This will force third-string quarterback Cardale Jones into action for the championship game.

While Barrett's loss is huge, head coach Urban Meyer doesn't seem overly concerned, according to Tim Shoemaker of ElevenWarriors.com:

Jones may have an enormous arm, but he'll be going up against one of the nation's stingiest defenses. Wisconsin is ranked second against the pass, eighth against the run, second in total defense and fourth in scoring defense. That's not a good omen for a quarterback who's coming into the game with 19 career passing attempts.

Of course, like the Badgers, the Buckeyes should be expected to rely heavily on the run as well. Jones is a dual-threat quarterback, and he's complemented by a great running back in Ezekiel Elliott. It may be touch sledding, but Ohio State really needs to get this ground game going to have a chance for the title.

In this situation, the cards are stacked against the Buckeyes. They're about to face the nation's most dangerous running back and are starting a very inexperienced quarterback against a very good defense. Wisconsin has the advantage, and that will translate into a win.

Prediction: Wisconsin 27, Ohio State 23

 

All team rankings and statistics courtesy of NCAA.com and current as of November 30.

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Steve Spurrier Announces Decision to Remain as South Carolina Head Coach

South Carolina Gamecocks head coach Steve Spurrier has found success with the program over the last 10 years, and he told Josh Kendall of TheState.com that he will be returning for another season to build on that success.    

Spurrier commented on the situation to Kendall:

I’m in. I’m in. We had some down times and some of this, that and the other, but we’ve got a lot of good players on the way.

I’m good to go. I just made about 21 recruiting calls. This is a good situation and I think we can turn it around quickly, I hope so.

Give me two or three more [years]. I used to say four or five, now I’m down to two or three. I mean, I could get in a car wreck, but I’m definitely planning on being back.

Barrett Sailee of Bleacher Report weighed in on Spurrier's decision to return:

In Spurrier’s decade with South Carolina, he has amassed an 83-45 record and is 4-4 in bowl game appearances. The Gamecocks had a tough season in 2014, finishing at 6-6 and tied for fourth in the SEC East.

Prior to the 2014 regular season, Spurrier had led South Carolina to three consecutive 11-2 seasons and has earned the right to stay with the Gamecocks for the foreseeable future.

Spurrier will be 70 years old in April and has been a football coach since 1978. Before leading South Carolina, he found success with the Florida Gators before eventually making the jump to the NFL with the Washington Redskins.

After his short time in the pros, Spurrier took over a struggling Gamecocks program and has brought the team into the upper echelon of the sport. He will likely have to show better results than 6-6 next season to remain coach in South Carolina, though.   

However, Spurrier has shown in the past his ability to build winning teams and he will look to do so in 2014. Time will tell if he will have enough talent to get past the tough competition in the SEC.

 

*Stats via ESPN.com.

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Ultimate Guide to College Football Conference Championship Weekend

The college football regular season has reached its final week.

Come Sunday, a year's worth of speculation about which four teams will make the College Football Playoff—and more than a year's worth of speculation about how it will feel to have a College Football Playoff—will be rewarded, and we will finally be given a national semifinal bracket that means something.

No more "If the season ended today…"

It will have already ended.

But a lot can change between now and Sunday. The top eight teams in Samuel Chi's mock CFP standings are playing this weekend, and five of the top seven are competing in conference title tilts.

Last year on conference championship weekend, undefeated Ohio State lost to Michigan State, opening the door for Auburn, which beat Missouri and found a way into the BCS National Championship Game.

Will a new team sneak through the back door in 2014?

Only one way to find out.

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Miami Football: Best Moments from Hurricanes' 2014 Season

The Miami Hurricanes crawled to the finish of the 2014 regular season, but Duke Johnson and Co. still provided a handful of memorable moments throughout the year.

While highlights don't amend for a disappointing 6-6 record, the Hurricanes' on-field performance certainly had a few bright spots.

Before a tense offseason begins in Coral Gables, take a few minutes to relive the best plays of Miami's season.

Please mention your favorite plays in the comments section below.

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College Football Odds: Championship Weekend Betting Lines Open at Sportsbooks

The Ohio State Buckeyes will be without quarterback J.T. Barrett when they face the Wisconsin Badgers in the Big Ten Championship Game Saturday as three-point underdogs at sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark.

The Heisman hopeful was lost to a broken ankle in OSU’s 42-28 win over Michigan on the weekend. With third-stringer Cardale Jones at the helm, the 11-1 Buckeyes recorded their 10th straight win straight up, but failed to cover as 21.5-point favorites over the rival Wolverines, posting their third straight against-the- spread loss.

The 10-2 Badgers will be gunning for their fourth Big Ten title in five years and enter Saturday night’s Wisconsin vs. Ohio State betting matchup at Lucas Oil Stadium riding a seven-game win streak. However, they have failed to cover in their last two games, are just 5-7 against the spread this season, and are a dismal 1-6, SU and ATS, in their last seven meetings with the Buckeyes.

The 11-1 Oregon Ducks will be gunning for their second Pac-12 conference title in four years when they take on the Arizona Wildcats as early 14-point favorites on the college football betting lines.

The Ducks are riding a seven-game SU and ATS win streak, outscoring opponents by an average margin of 24.3 points. However, it was the 10-2 Wildcats who handed the Ducks their only SU loss of the season, a 31-24 victory as 21.5-point road underdogs in Week 6.

The Wildcats are 5-2 SU but only 3-4 ATS since beating Oregon, with the UNDER also going 5-2 in those games.

The 12-0 Florida State Seminoles will be shooting for their 29th consecutive SU win when they meet the 10-2 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in the ACC Championship Game as slim 3.5-point favorites at the sportsbooks.

While the Noles have been a SU juggernaut, they have consistently disappointed bettors this season, going 3-9 ATS. FSU is also 0-5 ATS in its last five against the Jackets according to the Odds Shark College Football Database, while going 3-2 SU.

Georgia Tech is 5-0 SU and ATS in its last five, posting three outright wins as underdogs while holding opponents to just 18.2 points per game.

Elsewhere for this weekend, Alabama opened as a narrow three-point favorite over Missouri in the SEC Championship Game, while Marshall is pegged as a 14.5-point favorite over Louisiana Tech in the C-USA Championship Game, and Northern Illinois is favored by 2.5 points over Bowling Green in the MAC Championship Game.

GameHome Line Central Florida at East Carolina -6.5   Northern Illinois at Bowling Green 2.5   Arizona at Oregon -14   Iowa State at TCU -33   Southern Methodist at Connecticut -10.5   Louisiana Tech at Marshall -14.5   Houston at Cincinnati -7   Oklahoma State at Oklahoma -19.5   Missouri at Alabama -3   Temple at Tulane 3.5   Kansas State at Baylor OFF   Florida State at Georgia Tech 3.5   Wisconsin at Ohio State 3   Fresno State at Boise State -17  

Odds, stats courtesy of Odds Shark.

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Should the Oregon Ducks Fear Missing the College Football Playoff?

Oregon has earned itself a rematch with the only team to hand the Ducks a loss this season, the Arizona Wildcats. The teams square off in the Pac-12 Championship Game, but they also are both fighting for CFP position.

Bleacher Report College Football Analysts Michael Felder and Adam Kramer discuss whether Oregon should be worried about the rematch against Arizona. 

Who will win the Pac-12?

Watch the video and let us know! 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Hugh Freeze or Jim McElwain: Which Is the Better Coach for the Florida Gators?

With the firing of Will Muschamp, the Florida Gators have an opening at head coach. Florida sports one of the richest recruiting trails, so that means the coaching rumors will be flying.

Bleacher Report College Football Analysts Michael Felder and Adam Kramer debate which candidate is better suited for Gainesville.

Who is the better candidate: Hugh Freeze or Jim McElwain?

Check out the video and let us know!

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

USC Football: Best Bowl Game Options for the Trojans

On the heels of a 49-14 blowout of Notre Dame to cap the regular season, USC is rolling into its first bowl game under head coach Steve Sarkisian with serious momentum. And Sarkisian plans to capitalize, no matter where the Trojans are headed. 

"Looking forward to seeing what bowl game we're going to," he said. "And wherever we play, putting our best foot forward." 

The competitive nature of this year's Pac-12 South race muddles the bowl picture. Arizona and Utah bookend the division at two and four losses, respectively, while Arizona State, UCLA and USC all finished with three conference losses. 

That means USC is an option for any number of bowl games. 

As the Trojans await their postseason fate, running back Justin Davis offered a prediction. 

"Wherever we play, we're going to bring all we've got," he said. 

 

Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl

Saturday, Dec. 20, 3:30 p.m. ET 

Sam Boyd Stadium, Las Vegas

Mountain West vs. Pac-12 

Few visitors to Sin City leave as winners, but USC hit the jackpot in the 2013 Las Vegas Bowl. Quarterback Cody Kessler's four touchdowns in a 45-20 rout of Fresno State were, at the time, a personal record.

He's since surpassed that mark repeatedly, using last year's stellar bowl-game performance as a springboard into an outstanding 2014. 

The Mountain West Conference champion is contracted to the Las Vegas Bowl, but should league-leading Boise State earn the Group of Five's automatic bid into one of the New Year's Six bowls, 10-win Colorado State is likely the next team in line.  

 

Foster Farms Bowl

Tuesday, Dec. 30, 10 p.m. ET 

Levi's Stadium, Santa Clara, California

Big Ten vs. Pac-12 

Popular opinion among bowl prognosticators is that USC is headed for the Bay Area. CBSSports.com's Jerry Palm, SB Nation's Jason Kirk, Phil Steele and ESPN.com's Brett McMurphy and Mark Schlabach all project the Trojans for this game. 

There may be a consensus that this is USC's bowl-game destiny, but opinions on its opponent deviate vastly. 

Projections include Rutgers, Maryland, Penn State and Nebraska—a group running the gamut for the Big Ten, but with the commonality of likely being underdogs against USC. 

Though predictors are nearly unanimous in their projection, it's hardly a guarantee USC plays here. Outlooks are contingent on Arizona receiving an invitation to one of the New Year's Six games. Should the Wildcats slip out of that picture, however, the Pac-12's bowl landscape changes dramatically. 

Additionally, nearby Stanford could be an attractive option for the Foster Farms Bowl after its convincing win over UCLA, as Tom FitzGerald of the San Francisco Chronicle notes. 

When the Trojans last played in this game, it was the Emerald Bowl, held in San Francisco's AT&T Park, and USC's 24-13 win there over Boston College marked the official end of the Pete Carroll era. 

This year is the game's first in the new Levi's Stadium, home to the Pac-12 Championship Game. Perhaps playing here could serve as foreshadowing for the Trojans' 2015 campaign? 

 

National University Holiday Bowl

Saturday, Dec. 27, 8 p.m. ET  

Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego

Big Ten vs. Pac-12 

Despite USC's proximity to San Diego, the Trojans have never played in the Holiday Bowl. Kirk Kenney of U-T San Diego writes that that could change this year.  

Another first in store for this year's installment of the Holiday Bowl is the Big Ten replacing the Big 12 after two decades. The Big Ten last participated in this game in 1994. 

For Pac-12 teams, the Holiday Bowl is ahead of the Foster Farms Bowl in pecking order. That could land either UCLA or Arizona State—whichever does not go to the Valero Alamo Bowl—by virtue of its head-to-head wins over USC. 

However, both UCLA and Arizona State played in the Holiday Bowl in the previous two years and both were blown out. 

 

Quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise cited.  

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USC Football: Best Bowl Game Options for the Trojans

On the heels of a 49-14 blowout of Notre Dame to cap the regular season, USC is rolling into its first bowl game under head coach Steve Sarkisian with serious momentum. And Sarkisian plans to capitalize, no matter where the Trojans are headed...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

5 College Football Recruits Who Had an Explosive Week

This exhilarating high school football season continues to supply us with highlights during the final stretch of championship chases across America. Thanksgiving weekend annually reignites by pitting crosstown rivals against each other, capping off the careers of many players no longer in playoff contention.

However, a small percentage of standouts is set to spend the next phase of life competing in college. Each week, we keep a close eye on prospects who performed at a high level.

We continue our cross-country tour in the wake of a busy holiday weekend, focusing on recruits who could someday come to a campus near you.

 

4-star 2016 wide receiver Tren'Davian Dickson, Navasota High School (Navasota, Texas)

Despite his status as just a high school junior, Dickson already demands consideration as an all-time Texas great. The 6'1", 178-pound playmaker captured the state's single-season touchdown record Friday with a four-score performance against El Campo High School, per Kevin Askeland of MaxPreps.

Dickson moved beyond the 27-year-old Texas mark of 33 touchdown receptions and tied the national record with score No. 34 in a 56-34 victory. He finished the contest with seven catches for 204 yards, according to Tim Schnettler of The Eagle.

His junior season could still last multiple games, but Dickson's production is already astounding. Through 13 unbeaten contests, he has 69 receptions for 1,819 yards and 34 touchdowns.

Dickson committed to Baylor this summer but understandably continues to draw interest from other programs.

 

3-star 2015 athlete Deshawn Capers-Smith, Warren Easton High School (New Orleans, Louisiana)

The versatile playmaker is expected to land in the defensive backfield when he arrives on campus. For now, he's making an immense offensive impact for an attack that also features 5-star wide receiver Tyron Johnson.

Capers-Smith completed 19 pass attempts for 311 yards and three scores in a 55-7 victory over Benton High School, per Brian Perroni of 247Sports. The resounding win sends Warren Easton into state semifinal action.

The 5'11.5", 173-pound prospect picked apart the opposing defense, launching touchdown strikes of 22, 30 and 43 yards. Capers-Smith also showed off his wheels, tallying 78 rushing yards and another two scores on the ground.

He committed to Texas A&M in February after weighing scholarship offers from Missouri, Boise State, UCLA and Texas Tech.

 

3-star 2015 quarterback Nathan Elliott, Celina High School (Celina, Texas)

The 6'1.5", 195-pound passer put up huge numbers in an impressive playoff victory over Iowa Park High School. Elliott, a North Carolina commit, connected on 17 of 27 attempts for 226 yards and six touchdowns, according to Chris O'Dell of the Celina Record.

He pushed the team to its 11th win of the season and helped establish a 35-0 lead that eventually resulted in a 56-27 drubbing of Iowa Park. Elliott also established a new career milestone, surpassing 100 career touchdown passes in the process.

The four-year starter has a chance to pile on that total as state playoffs continue.

"That's a great thing," Celina coach Bill Elliott told O'Dell. "That's something that's special for him, but I know he's more about the team winning than anything else."

He pledged to UNC in April, spurning offers from Arizona State and Army, among others.

 

Unrated 2016 linebacker Taylor Sweatt, Argyle High School (Argyle, Texas)

Expect to hear plenty more about this rangy Texas defender if he continues to put out efforts like the one he produced in a narrow playoff victory Kennedale High School. Sweatt secured 26 total tackles, including a huge stop behind the line of scrimmage to halt a fake punt attempt, per Michael Florek of The Dallas Morning News.

Among his production, 17 tackles were of the solo variety. He now has 155 tackles and six sacks as a junior.

“He’s a fast, explosive player," Argyle coach Todd Rodgers told Florek. "He wears a lot of hats on our football team. ... He’s a good, disciplined player and he was able to come up with some critical plays in the right positions of the game.”

A lack of ideal collegiate size—Sweatt stands 5'9", 180 pounds—has inhibited his ability to draw expansive high-level FCS interest to this point. But another year of physical maturation and on-field production could alter the situation.

 

3-star running back Ryquell Armstead, Millville High School (Millville, New Jersey)

The 6'0", 200-pound workhorse rusher led the Thunderbolts to a Thanksgiving victory over rival Vineland High School. Armstead lifted his team to a late rally, scoring a pair of second-half touchdowns in the 44-40 win, per Jason Mazda of the Press of Atlantic City.

He finished with four total touchdown runs—including two from more than 30 yards out—to punctuate a successful high school career. He collected 318 yards on 28 carries, adding a huge tackle for loss on defense during Vineland's final drive of the contest.

Armstead set the tone early, rushing for 218 yards before intermission.

"Just following my linemen," he told Mazda. "Reading the cuts and just making it happen."

Armstead committed to Temple in June over Old Dominion and Virginia.

 

Recruit ratings courtesy of 247Sports.

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