NCAA Football

Creating the Ultimate 2015 Wide Receiver Recruit

There are a lot of top recruits who offer many things at the wide receiver position for the Class of 2015. Bleacher Report College Football Analyst Michael Felder tells you which attributes he would take from which receiver to make the ultimate 2015 wide receiver.

What wide receiver do you want on your team?

Watch the video and let us know!

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College Football Bowl Projections 2014-15: Week 7 Playoff Predictions

The college football madness isn't going to stop. Following a week of chaos that set dynamite to the College Football Playoff projections, another sizzling slate of games will reconfigure the standings once again.

Half of the nation's top 10 squads went down last week. ESPN Stats & Info delivered some historical perspective on the carnage before No. 8 UCLA also suffered an upset late Saturday night.

Now is a good time to take a breather and access the damage, but another earthquake is set for Week 7. Four matchups pit ranked opponents against one another, including two bouts between top-10 squads.

Somebody is going down again, but who will take the plunge this time? Here's a look at what lies ahead for the current top-four schools, along with the predicted playoff picture after Week 7.


Game of the Week: No. 2 Auburn vs. No. 3 Mississippi State

It's safe to say the loser falls from the playoff snapshot and the victor at least sits at No. 2 while making a case for the top spot. 

They're not No. 1 in the polls, but the Auburn Tigers hold the top slot in ESPN's Power Index.

It's easy to see how the model gives them the edge over Florida State. Through five games, they're undefeated with a 27.6-point average margin of victory. Against an LSU squad brandishing title aspirations, they gained 566 total yards to their SEC rival's 280 in a one-sided contest.

While Nick Marshall has completed just 57.9 percent of his passes, the number has risen in each of his last three games. He's also amended those accuracy issues with 12 total touchdowns to just one interception. He noted the strides he's taken this season to's Greg Ostendorf.

I’m a way better [passer] than I was last year. Coach [Rhett] Lashlee and Coach Malzahn, they took time out with me in the offseason and focused on my footwork, my eyes on the target and then just stepping through the throws. I’m satisfied [with this game], but there’s always room for improvement.

Actually, he's only shown significant improvement in the turnover department while slightly regressing in other key indicators. 

Meanwhile, Dak Prescott is producing a strong Heisman campaign for Mississippi State, who have pulled off two consecutive upsets over LSU and Texas A&M. ESPN The Magazine's Twitter page compared his hot start to past Heisman winners.

Even when this wasn't a groundbreaking matchup in 2013, the two delivered a great game, which Auburn won, 24-20, by scoring with 10 seconds left. Now Mississippi State knocking Auburn down a peg would hardly be considered a stunner.

According to Odds Shark, the Bulldogs are underdogs for the third straight time, but only by a small amount in a coin-flip game. They're now firmly on Auburn's level, a reality offensive lineman Ben Beckwith hopes onlookers are late to realize.

“Recognition is awesome, but you kind of like being under the radar, honestly,” Beckwith told's Edward Aschoff. “I like going [into games] thinking the other teams are looking over us. You would think they wouldn’t be.” 

If Florida State had to deal with an SEC schedule, these two opponents could easily justify finishing the season ranked No. 1 and 2. Given the new playoff system, a loss shouldn't doom the team that draws the short end of the stick, although it'll take a perfect finish afterwards.

A shootout plays in the Bulldogs' favor. Prescott still has a firm upper hand over the rising Marshall, and Auburn gained just 78 rushing yards in last year's head-to-head showdown. 

The Bulldogs have proved they're for real over the past two weeks, and they'll do some again at home by scoring a monumental victory over the Tigers.

Predictions: Mississippi State 38, Auburn 35

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Will the Egg Bowl Mean More Than the Iron Bowl in 2014?

All eyes have been on the 2014 Iron Bowl ever since Auburn cornerback and kick returner Chris Davis took an Alabama field-goal attempt back 109 yards the other way as time expired to give the Tigers a 34-28 win over the Crimson Tide and a berth in the SEC Championship Game.

Were we focused on the wrong intrastate rivalry game with a clever nickname?

Halfway through the season, it looks like the Egg Bowl between co-No. 3 Mississippi State and co-No. 3 Ole Miss in Oxford has more of the makings to serve as the de facto SEC West title game.

The folks in Mississippi are pumped, as Courtney Cronin of the Clarion-Ledger points out.

Is that a realistic possibility or an overreaction based on the Bulldogs' big win over Texas A&M and the Rebels' nail-biter over Alabama?

Realistic, sure.

After all, both programs currently share the No. 3 spot in the AP Top 25 Poll and Ole Miss will certainly be out for revenge after quarterback Bo Wallace fumbled in overtime to lose last year's edition.

Don't count out the Iron Bowl from getting back in the mix to become the most important game not just of the SEC's season, but the most important game played this year in all of college football.

Ole Miss still has major flaws, like its inability to run between the tackles, Wallace shouldering too much of the load in the running game after two years of shoulder issues and an offensive line that's shaky at best and mediocre at worst.

As mentioned in the bold predictions article from earlier this week, Texas A&M this weekend in College Station is setting up to be a heartbreaker for the Rebs, and there are still plenty of spots where they can trip up between then and the end of the regular season.

With a stifling front seven, a wildly efficient quarterback in Dak Prescott (180.69 passer rating) and an offense that poses a threat to stretch the field and run between the tackles, Mississippi State has much more staying power than—as head coach Dan Mullen refers to it—"the school up north."

The Bulldogs have to get by Auburn first, and that matchup with the No. 2 Tigers is no easy task.

If that happens—they're a 2.5-point underdog as of Monday afternoon, according to Odds Shark—the Bulldogs could certainly do their part to make it a must-win game to play for Atlanta and, thus, bigger than this year's Iron Bowl.

Mullen's crew would still have to spring the upset and then handle life as "the hunted" for the remainder of the season, which isn't the easiest thing to do—even for teams who are accustomed to it.

A far likelier scenario would be for Auburn to beat Mississippi State, enter the Iron Bowl undefeated or with one loss, and square off against a one-loss Crimson Tide team in Tuscaloosa.

Would that make it bigger than last year's Iron Bowl? Based on record, of course not. But the ramifications in this day and age of the College Football Playoff could be very similar.

Either way, it'd likely be bigger than the Egg Bowl.

Despite Alabama's loss to Ole Miss on Saturday, the SEC West still goes through the Iron Bowl until further notice.


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 and all recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports.

Follow Barrett on Twitter @BarrettSallee.

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Karlos Williams Injury: Updates on FSU Star's Ankle and Return

When No. 1 Florida State travels to New York Saturday for an ACC clash with the Syracuse Orange, the Seminoles will likely be without top running back Karlos Williams.    

Coach Jimbo Fisher broke the news Monday, as captured by Corey Clark of

The senior tailback rushed 11 times for 50 yards last week in a 43-3 win over Wake Forest. So far this year, Williams has 353 yards and five touchdowns on a 4.8 yards-per-carry average.

With Williams potentially out of a conference showdown against an Orange defense that ranks No. 63 overall with an average of 24.4 points per game allowed, the Seminoles will turn to sophomore Mario Pender and freshman Dalvin Cook for production.

Bender has 154 yards and three scores on just 23 attempts this year, while Cook has tallied 128 and two on 24 totes.

Depending on the severity of Williams' injury, the Seminoles may be without their lead back when No. 6 Notre Dame comes to visit on Oct. 18 in a matchup with wide-ranging College Football Playoff implications.


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Ohio State Football: How Buckeyes Can Maintain Momentum

COLUMBUS, Ohio — After bouncing back from its Sept. 6 loss to Virginia Tech with three consecutive wins, the Ohio State football team now finds itself enjoying its second bye in the past four weeks.

Only for Urban Meyer, the enjoyment of the Buckeyes' week off will be kept to a minimum.

Because truth be told, a bye week is the last ingredient that Ohio State needs to add to what's been a winning recipe for the better part of the past month. Especially after one of the craziest weekends in college football history, the Buckeyes suddenly find themselves back in the thick of a hunt for a playoff spot, but that's predicated on Ohio State maintaining its newfound momentum.

"I wish we were playing another one next week," Meyer said following the Buckeyes' 52-24 win over Maryland on Saturday. "Our whole team wishes we were playing."

What's led Ohio State from its defeat at the hands of the Hokies to being a team that can't get back on the field soon enough?

It starts on the offensive side of the ball, where the Buckeyes have found their footing behind the play of redshirt freshman quarterback J.T. Barrett. An emerging star in college football, Barrett has combined for 909 passing yards, 156 rushing yards, 15 total touchdowns (14 passing, one rushing) and just one interception in Ohio State's past three games.

Those numbers stand in stark contrast from what they were during the Buckeyes' 35-21 loss to Virginia Tech, where Barrett completed just nine of his 29 pass attempts for 219 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions. In the mere matter of weeks, the reigning Athlon Freshman of the Week has gone from a liability to the focal point of an OSU offense that ranks seventh nationally with an average of 44.6 points per game.

"I'm just trying to get better during the week and not wait until game day to react to everything," Barrett said of his recent improvement. "I'm just trying to get better at learning the defense that we're going to play on Tuesday and Wednesday, so when it comes to Saturday, I can have that confidence and go out there and play."

It also helps that what seemed like a blueprint for beating the Buckeyes a month ago is suddenly something that Ohio State now looks forward to facing.

While the Hokies hammered the Buckeyes with a 46 Bear defensive front and cover zero scheme, other opponents haven't been as fortunate with copycat approaches. Barrett's improvement, Ezekiel Elliott's emergence and a growing offensive line have all played roles in the midseason adjustments that have led to Ohio State's recent string of success.

"Ever since the Virginia Tech game, we've been getting that Bear, zero coverage," Meyer noted. "And now you're starting to see receivers and quarterbacks get kind of excited when they see that. The same with the coaching staff. You're like, 'Great, do it.'"

Opponents have, and as of late, they've paid, with wide receivers Michael Thomas, Dontre Wilson and Devin Smith all making their presences felt in different ways in the Buckeyes passing game. In its current state, it'd be hard to describe Ohio State's offense as anything but in-sync, something that it will have to sustain through its week off.


And as for the Buckeyes defense?

It's still not performing at a "championship level," according to Meyer. But that doesn't mean that it's not improving.

During Ohio State's Sept. 27 contest with Cincinnati—a 50-28 Buckeyes win—familiar frustrations reared their heads for the OSU pass defense, which surrendered 352 yards and four touchdowns to Bearcats quarterback Gunner Kiel. That total included touchdown throws of 83, 78 and 60 yards, leading Meyer to state that the Buckeyes were going "back to the drawing board" when it came to their pass defense.

A week later, Ohio State didn't give up quite as many big plays but did still allow at least one, as a 60-yard pass from Terrapins quarterback Caleb Rowe to Jacquille Veii set up a four-yard score for Stefon Diggs at the start of the fourth quarter. That sequence, in particular, stuck with Meyer, who vowed that such plays will at one point cease to be a weekly occurrence for the Buckeyes.

"Once again, you just take away—someday, we will take away the big hits," Meyer said, cutting himself off. "We're going to be more aggressive on defense."

With plenty left to work on in that facet, there's at least one Ohio State unit that could potentially benefit from the Buckeyes' second bye in the past month. Perhaps that's why Meyer, once again, won't treat it like a normal week off, in an attempt to improve an Ohio State team that's as hot as any heading into the heart of the 2014 season.

"The road's getting tougher and tougher," said Meyer. "I'm going to give us as many game reps as I can just to continue to get that maturity."


Ben Axelrod is Bleacher Report's Ohio State Lead Writer. You can follow him on Twitter @BenAxelrod. Unless noted otherwise, all quotes obtained firsthand. All recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.

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Re-Ranking the College Football Top 5 After Upset Saturday

Teams were tested this past Saturday, some of them passed, some of them failed; the only certain thing was that it was a lot of fun to watch. College Football Analyst Michael Felder re-ranks the Top 5 after a crazy weekend.

Who is your No. 1 team?

Watch the video and let us know!

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Wisconsin Badgers vs. Illinois Fighting Illini Complete Game Preview

After a thoroughly incomplete performance at Ryan Field against Northwestern, the Wisconsin Badgers (3-2, 0-1 Big Ten) take on the Illinois Fighting Illini (3-3, 0-2 Big Ten) in the friendly confines of Camp Randall Stadium, where the Badgers are 3-0.

Last week, the Badgers' two quarterbacks went a combined 12-of-29 for 138 yards, a touchdown and four interceptions.  After an ineffective first half by Tanner McEvoy, who went 4-of-10 for 24 yards and an interception, he was replaced by Joel Stave just before halftime.

Stave, who had not played this season due to a case of the yips after starting 19 games in his first two seasons of eligibility, did a couple good things, but the final stat line was ugly: 8-of-19 for 114 yards, a touchdown and three interceptions, including a backbreaker in a goal-to-go situation.

All of the quarterback problems undermined a phenomenal career day by Heisman Trophy candidate Melvin Gordon, who carried the ball 27 times for a career-high 259 yards and a touchdown.

But the Badgers' four turnovers, drive-killing and extending penalties amounted to an embarrassing road loss to an upstart Northwestern team, which finds itself in the driver's seat of the Big Ten West with a 2-0 record.

As for Illinois, its bad season got a little bit worse last week as it handed Purdue its first Big Ten win under Darrell Hazell, who lost his first nine Big Ten contests as head coach, in a 38-27 defeat in Champaign at Memorial Stadium.

Making matters worse, the lone bright spot on the team, quarterback Wes Lunt, went down with a broken leg, per, which should sideline him for four-to-six weeks.  Lunt is completing 66.5 percent of his passes with 1,569 yards, 13 touchdowns and only three interceptions.

To replace him is Reilly O'Toole, who has seen nowhere near the success Lunt has.  O'Toole is completing 52.6 percent of his passes for 428 yards, a touchdown and four interceptions while seeing parts of two games plus a start against Nebraska.

Let's take a look at both teams' keys to victory, the players to watch and more as each squad looks to get off the schneid in Big Ten play.

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USC vs. Arizona Complete Game Preview

WHEN: Saturday, Oct. 11; 10:30 p.m. ET

WHERE: Arizona Stadium; Tucson, Arizona


Out of the polls for the first time this season, USC visits No. 10-ranked Arizona with what head coach Steve Sarkisian described as "sick feeling in [its] gut."

The Trojans lost to Arizona State in Week 6 on Sun Devils quarterback Mike Bercovici's Hail Mary touchdown to Jaelen Strong.

What a game! Check out the unbelievable highlights from #ASUvsUSC! @drpepper#oneofakindplays

— FOX College Football (@CFBONFOX) October 5, 2014

Conversely, one of Arizona's five wins came on a Hail Mary when quarterback Anu Solomon completed one to Austin Hill to beat Cal in Week 4.

#HillMary RT @ESPN_Pac12blog: Poll: Pac-12 play of the week

— Arizona Football (@ArizonaFBall) September 21, 2014

For one team to win in dramatic fashion, another has to suffer heartbreak. It's the yin and yang of football that has the Trojans and Wildcats on opposite ends of the spectrum coming into this Saturday's nighttime showdown in the desert. 

If Arizona can keep its good fortune rolling, it will have the inside track on the South's berth into the Pac-12 Championship Game. A USC win, however, puts the Trojans right back in the forefront of the race.

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USC vs. Arizona Complete Game Preview

WHEN: Saturday, Oct. 11; 10:30 p.m. ET WHERE: Arizona Stadium; Tucson, Arizona TV: ESPN2 Out of the polls for the first time this season, USC visits No...

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Northwestern Unveils New 'Gothic' Uniforms for Game Against Nebraska

The Northwestern Wildcats' latest uniforms are certainly different.

Northwestern put out a teaser Monday morning to announce that it would be unveiling a new look for its game against the Nebraska Cornhuskers on Oct. 18.

Then, the Wildcats' new "gothic" uniforms were unveiled.

The new uniforms were inspired by Northwestern's campus.


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Treon Harris Suspended by Florida: Latest Details, Comments and Reaction

The Florida Gators suspended freshman quarterback Treon Harris on Monday. 

Florida released a statement announcing Harris' suspension:

University of Florida student athlete Treon Harris is accused of sexually assaulting a female student early Sunday morning in a residence hall on the UF campus.

The University of Florida Police Department is investigating the incident, and UFPD has brought in the Gainesville Police Department to assist with collection and analysis of forensic evidence.

The investigation is ongoing and we do not have an update regarding any charges at this time.

The University of Florida and the University Athletic Association are cooperating fully.

Due to legal and privacy requirements, there are limitations as to what the university can say publicly about a pending matter such as this. In these types of serious situations, Student Affairs initiates the Student Conduct Code process. Often, a student may be suspended on an interim basis, which means he or she is banned from campus and all campus activities, pending the outcome of the conduct process.

UAA has suspended Treon Harris from all team activities.

'We have no tolerance for sexual assault on our campus,' UF President Bernie Machen said. 'The university is committed to providing a safe and inclusive environment for every member of the UF community. We must strive to protect all of our students from sexual harassment and assault, and do everything in our power to promote a safe learning environment.'

UF continues to provide a wide variety of support services and resources. The university continually enhance its campus efforts to address issues of sexual assault and harassment.

As this process unfolds and is resolved, UF is committed to addressing this serious matter with integrity, fairness and compassion.

Edgar Thompson of the Orlando Sentinel followed with additional details surrounding the incident:

The UF campus police crime log shows authorities were called at 12:49 a.m. Sunday to Springs Residential Complex, on-campus apartments, to investigate a sexual battery allegation. 

Richard Johnson of shared a statement from Ben Tobias of Gainesville Police Department discussing the case:

Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel continued with a statement from Harris' attorney, Huntley Johnson:

Harris, who is listed at 5'11" and 190 pounds, replaced quarterback Jeff Driskel on Saturday and led the team to a crucial comeback win over Tennessee. The freshman passed for just 17 yards and had 24 yards rushing, but he looked good in taking over for Driskel.

Head coach Will Muschamp spoke about Harris following the game, per Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel.

"He's one of those guys who have that 'it' factor," Muschamp said. "He's a winner. ... He's got an aura and calmness about him."

Now, his future under center is unclear. While he's suspended from the team, Driskel will once again take over as the starting quarterback.

Meanwhile, Florida is currently 3-1 with a tough test ahead against LSU on Saturday. Regardless of who is under center, the team will need a complete effort to take down a still potent Tigers offense.


Follow @RCorySmith on Twitter.

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Watch RB Clayton Kiefer Break National Record with 11-Touchdown Performance

Clayton Kiefer was a one-man wrecking crew in Iowa. The Wayne High School senior scored 11 touchdowns, giving him an 8-Man national record. The Falcons won the game 86-60. 

Was this the best performance by a high school running back this year?

Watch the video and let us know.

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Terrel Hunt Injury: Updates on Syracuse QB's Leg and Recovery

Syracuse is already struggling through a three-game losing streak and now head into a matchup with Florida State without quarterback Terrel Hunt. The signal-caller suffered a broken fibula that could cause him to miss four to six weeks, according to Andrea Adelson of    

Hunt's injury came during the team's 28-6 loss to the Louisville Cardinals on Friday night, dropping the team to 2-3. Following the news, ACC Sports offered its take on the crucial injury for Syracuse:

Along with Hunt's injury, Tim Lester now takes over for George McDonald as the team's offensive coordinator. 

The senior quarterback passed for 983 yards, one touchdown and four interceptions prior to the injury. Hunt's pedestrian passing numbers were padded by his 307 yards and six touchdowns in the running game.

In Hunt's absence, it appears backup Austin Wilson will take over starting duties, per Adelson. Though nothing is certain, Lester did have positive remarks about Wilson prior to the season, per Stephen Bailey of

He could always throw the ball, that's one of his strengths. And mentally, as he got more reps, he started making better and better decisions. His numbers were the best, and they were all pretty close, but he showed the most as far as being able to make decisions. His feet got better and he did what he needed to do.

The sophomore has gone 11-of-20 for 89 yards this season, but was unable to complete a pass in three attempts against Louisville.

Heading into easily the toughest matchup on the team's schedule, Syracuse will now have an inexperienced quarterback under center against Florida State. Expect more reliance on the running game, but not much offense against a stout Seminoles defense.


Follow @RCorySmith on Twitter.

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Auburn vs. Mississippi State Complete Game Preview

AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn and Mississippi State have met on the football field 87 times.

Matchup No. 88 will be far and away the biggest matchup in the series—and it's not even close.

While other top teams faltered on one of the craziest weekends in recent memory, Auburn and Mississippi State took care of business, and then some, at home. After the Bulldogs smacked previously undefeated Texas A&M in a 48-31 game that wasn't as close as the scoreline suggested, the Tigers blew out a young LSU team 41-7 for a memorable rivalry win on the Plains.

The results catapulted Auburn to No. 2 and Mississippi State to a best-ever ranking of No. 3, setting up the biggest home game in Bulldogs history and one of the biggest conference games in Tigers history.

Both teams have their offenses coming off of explosive performances and their defenses continuing to show vast improvement from last season. The winner will take the early lead in a crowded SEC West, so conference and national-title stakes will never have been higher in Starkville when the eyes of the college football world descend on Davis Wade Stadium this Saturday.

Before we break down this massive matchup, here are all the basics you need to know:

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Notre Dame Football: 5 Startling Statistics Through 5 Weeks

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Five games into the regular season, Notre Dame football continues to impress, posting strong defensive performances to accompany quarterback Everett Golson’s mostly great play.

While the high potential on this team was known before the season, the Irish have jelled quicker than some may have thought. So what stands out through these first five games? We’ll take a look at some of the more noteworthy statistics—positive and negative—here.

Let’s get to it.

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Inside the Legendary Tailgate and Barbecue of the Texas Longhorns

The University of Texas is known for two things: football and tailgating.

We went behind the legendary tailgate at every Longhorns home game to see more of what goes into the best barbecue in college football.

A special thanks to the Ideas United group for its hard work on this piece. 

Watch and let us know what you think in the comments below.

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College Football Teams Who Are Fool's Gold in Race for Playoff

The chaos of Week 6 created a new pecking order in the world of college football, a hierarchy where Ole Miss and Mississippi State are tied at No. 3 in the Associated Press Poll, and TCU and Arizona are considered Top 10 teams.

But how much can these en vogue contenders be trusted? Which ones are legitimate threats to make the College Football Playoff, and which ones are just flavors of the week?

In order to be "Fool's Gold," one must first be considered "Gold," which helped narrow down the requirements for this list. In order to be included, a team had to be ranked inside the current AP Top 15.

From there, a judgement was made on their playoff chances based on talent, performance, sustainability and upcoming schedule. The five teams included are the ones whose participation in the playoff would come as the biggest surprise (albeit subjectively).

They might look like contenders today, but the season is still less than halfway over. Not all that glitters is gold.

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7 Bold Predictions for the Rest of the SEC Season

The first half of the season is in the books, and in it, we've seen some wild games, new stars emerge and set the table for the season half of the season.

Ole Miss and Mississippi State stood up and shouted "we're here" on Saturday, with wins over Alabama and Texas A&M, respectively. Bulldogs quarterback Dak Prescott and Aggie signal-caller Kenny Hill jumped into the race for the Heisman Trophy, with several other stars—including Auburn's Nick Marshall—waiting in the wings.

Over in the SEC East, no leader has emerged, but hey, at least there's Georgia running back Todd Gurley.

Half of the season is in the books, but the fun is only starting. Here are seven bold predictions for the rest of the SEC season.


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Shaquille Jones Dismissed by Georgia Following Arrest

Freshman defensive back Shaquille Jones was dismissed from Georgia on Sunday after he was arrested for shoplifting. 

Jones was charged with theft after taking $43 worth of merchandise from Walmart. He was released on $1,500 bail on Sunday evening, according to Seth Emerson of The Macon Telegraph.

As a result, head coach Mark Richt announced his dismissal merely 90 minutes later. Richt spoke about Jones' departure in a statement, per Emerson:

"We have certain expectations and standards that we require of all our players," Richt said. "When those expectations and standards are not met, the opportunity to be a part of our program is sacrificed.”

Dan Wolken of USA Today offered his take on the news:

Jones had yet to play for the Bulldogs, but is still a notable loss. Defensive back Sheldon Dawson was dismissed last week and Rico Johnson was given a medical disqualification last Thursday after the discovery of a spinal condition, per Emerson.

UGA Football News provides a full look at the losses in the secondary recently:

Prior to his freshman campaign with the Bulldogs, Jones was a 3-star safety with potential to compete in the SEC. Now, his future is up in the air after being dismissed by Georgia after enrolling in June.

For the Bulldogs, the team is coming off a win over Vanderbilt, 44-17, and is preparing for a showdown with Missouri on the road. With hopes of contending in the SEC still alive, Georgia must eliminate distractions moving forward.


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Why College Football's Fallen Favorites Shouldn't Overreact to Week of Upsets

Let us take a moment to welcome Oklahoma, UCLA, Texas A&M, Alabama and Oregon to an ever-growing club among college football's elite in 2014, the First Losers Club.   

So after a wild Week 6, it's safe to write off the aforementioned schools from the national title picture, right?

Not so fast, my friend.   

A check of recent history would suggest that there should be just the hint of joy in Mudville—aka Eugene, Westwood, Norman, College Station and Tuscaloosa. A year ago, the AP rankings after week six did not see Auburn or Michigan State even ranked among the Top 25 teams.

Auburn, of course, made it to the BCS title game, before losing to Florida State in the final seconds. Michigan State won the Big Ten title and beat Stanford in the Rose Bowl.

And it's hard to count any team out in a season where parity, not superiority, is the prevailing theme. Indeed, since the AP began charting teams in 1936, no week had ever seen five of the top eight teams lose on the same weekend.

So a good life after a stunning upset is possible, especially with the help of the new four-team playoff.

In the past, the two-team BCS title game system made losing even one game difficult to overcome. With four teams in the mix now, it seems more likely that a one- or even two-loss team from a Power 5 conference could recover.

And for teams outside the SEC, the chances may be even brighter as the conference spends the rest of the season beating each other up with rank-sinking consequences. Mississippi State, for example, which knocked off Texas A&M, must turn around to host unbeaten Auburn. And Mississippi, which upset Alabama, must travel to Texas A&M in what could be an elimination game.

Here's what each of this weekend's surprise losers must do to get back in the hunt for the Final Four.

1. Alabama

Week 6 rank (AP): 3
Week 7 rank (AP): 7
First loss: Ole Miss, 23-17

How to get back in the fight:  Strange as it may seem, just take care of business and close the deal at the end of games. The Tide might still have the best team in the country. They are strong on defense, solid on offense and had control of Ole Miss until the very end.

"I think the big question for our team is, 'How do you respond to a loss?'" Alabama coach Nick Saban told reporters after the game. "There are several teams around here who have lost games and responded the right way. They have ended up having pretty good seasons."

The Tide's mistakes were more self-inflicted than anything else. "Dropped balls, turnovers, penalties and those sorts of things are not something you can do against a good football team, especially on the road," Saban said.

Saban's players seemed to be buying what Saban was selling after the game. "They weren't doing anything to make it hard on us," said Alabama tight end Brian Volger after the game. "We just need to come back next week and clean up our mistakes."

Outlook: Very good. The schedule works in their favor. Texas A&M (Oct. 18) and Auburn (Nov. 29) are at home. A game at Tennessee on Oct. 25 could be a challenge, but SEC East dangers Missouri and Georgia are not on the schedule this season. Considering the parity around the rest of the country—the Big Ten has no unbeaten teams remaining, the Big 12 is down to Baylor and TCU, the Pac-12 down to Arizona and the ACC has only FSU—there may not be any unbeaten teams at the end of the regular season. A one-loss SEC team remains virtually a lock to make the Final Four. Even a two-loss team might still be in the hunt. And since Mississippi and Mississippi State must play each other, one of those teams will have at least one loss. It is even conceivable that Alabama could make the Final four as a runner up in its own division, which happened in the SEC in 2011, when No. 1 LSU met No. 2 Alabama in the BCS title game.

2. Oklahoma

Week 6 rank (AP): 4
Week 7 rank (AP): 11
First loss: TCU, 37-33

How to get back in the fight: Stay healthy, stay focused and hope that there are some upsets in other conferences. The Sooners lost a tough game against a good opponent on the road. It happens and their focus has already moved forward.

"This isn't the defining moment of our season," OU quarterback Trevor Knight told reporters after the game. "Who knows down the road? It's early in the season, a one-loss team can still make it."

But the Sooners need some help. It will start this week. OU must get past Texas in the annual Red River Shootout in Dallas. Ninety miles down the road in Waco, unbeaten Baylor takes on unbeaten TCU. A Baylor win would help, because it would knock TCU back to the pack and Baylor still must come to Oklahoma on Nov. 8.

Sooners coach Bob Stoops needs to find a way to tighten the defense. TCU picked up 469 yards in total offense, including 318 yards passing. If TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin could tear up the Sooners defense, imagine what Baylor's Bryce Petty might do.

Outlook: Fair. The schedule works in their favor. The problem may be in convincing the playoff selection committee that their one loss—two defeats will eliminate the Sooners—is as good or better than a one-loss selection from the SEC or Pac-12 or Big Ten. Without the added boost of a conference championship game it might be difficult. Still, TCU may be the toughest game the Sooners encounter in the regular season. They just need the Horned Frogs to lose at least one game (but preferably two).

"All we care about is next week (Texas)," said Stoops after the game. "I like our team. We have great team chemistry. We have to keep getting better. We just need better play overall from all of us."

But will even that be enough to get the Sooners back in the playoff discussion?

3. Oregon

Week 6 ranking (AP): 2
Week 7 ranking (AP): 12
First loss: Arizona: 31-24

How to get back in the fight: Start by beating UCLA on Saturday. That's essential. And Mariota needs to ramp up his game and produce a steady stream of Heisman moments for the remainder of the season. "We didn't play cleanly enough, or smart enough," said Oregon coach Mark Helfrich, who has watched an unranked Arizona team beat his Ducks the past two seasons. Of greater concern is an offensive line riddled with injuries.

Outlook: Not good. Oregon has been getting worse each week, instead of better. Clearly, a two-loss Ducks team would be headed to Las Vegas or El Paso for a secondary bowl game and could forget the playoffs. As good as Mariota is, he can carry only so much of the load and is only a sprained ankle or a bruised elbow away from sending the Ducks into a tailspin. While Oregon is tight-lipped about injuries, the O-line is missing a handful of starters and has become a mix-and-match unit that has allowed Mariota to be sacked 15 times already. Add in Oregon's lack of killer instinct—losing to Arizona last year and Stanford the past two seasons—and the playoffs don't look great. Still, if Mariota can beat the Bruins on Saturday, the chase will continue. But road games at Cal and Utah, which looked fairly easy a month ago, now appear to be much tougher.

4. Texas A&M

Week 6 ranking (AP): 6
Week 7 ranking (AP): 14
First loss: Mississippi State 48-31

How to get back in the fight: Play better defense, which may not be possible with this Aggies team. Mississippi State, led by quarterback Dak Prescott (five total touchdowns) took apart A&M, piling up 336 total yards. Coach Kevin Sumlin is an offensive magician and he has made quarterback Kenny Hill a star in a matter of a months, but even with Hill doing his magic, it's doubtful A&M has enough firepower to hold off the rest of the SEC West teams who are starting to circle like sharks.

Outlook: Poor. "What we can't do is let today affect the rest of the season," said Sumlin after the loss to the Bulldogs. We've got a long way to go."

Despite Sumlin's best intentions, the loss on Saturday might stick a while. In addition to the defensive breakdowns, there were a host of miscues on offense, from dropped passes to moments when Hill looked like a young, inexperienced QB in his first college season rather than the second coming of Johnny Football. 

Truth be told, the picture isn't exactly rosy for A&M. The Aggies went to overtime to beat Arkansas last week, face Ole Miss next week (at College Station) and then have to make trips to Alabama and Auburn. By the time LSU comes to Texas in the regular season finale, there might not be much meat left on the Aggies carcass. Even the head-turning win over South Carolina in the opener looks less impressive now considering the way the Gamecocks have stumbled the past few weeks.

"It's definitely going to be challenging," Aggies cornerback Deshazor Everett told the Dallas Morning News


Week 6 rank (AP): 8
Week 7 rank (AP): 18
First loss: Utah, 30-28

How to get back in the fight: The first goal is obvious. Oregon visits the Rose Bowl on Saturday in what is virtually a playoff game. Winner advances, loser goes home. But after the date with the Ducks there's still lots of high altitude climbing ahead, including a tough final month of the regular season featuring games against Arizona, at Washington, USC and Stanford. Even the Pac-12 title game will be tougher since it is now at a neutral site (Santa Clara).

Outlook: Not great. Utah exposed some flaws on both sides of the ball, recording an incredible 10 sacks against UCLA and picking up 242 rushing yards against the Bruins.

Also a poor omen is the Bruins' history of failure at crunch time. In 1998 they were a game away from making their first BCS title game when they lost at Miami. In 2005, they were 8-0 and ranked No. 7 after a tough overtime win at Stanford but then lost to Arizona 52-14. Two years later, they were ranked No. 11 before a game at Utah and lost to the Utes, 44-6. And this year sees the Bruins facing an Oregon team they've lost to give straight times.

The pollsters were particularly harsh on the Bruins after Saturday's upset loss, dropping them 10 spots.

"We all bear responsibility," said UCLA coach Jim Mora after the game. "We have to figure out why and push on from there."

Mora and company had better come up with an answer by Saturday when Oregon and Heisman hopeful quarterback Marcus Mariota come to the Rose Bowl.

As last season showed, six weeks into the season is too early to eliminate any quality one-loss team from consideration, and the expanded playoff system opens the window wider for any of the above teams to make the playoffs. But each team, other than Alabama, has used its mulligan.

The X-factor is Notre Dame. If the Irish, which remained unbeaten on Saturday in beating Stanford, finishes in the top four, they'll likely claim one of the spots, which could eliminate a champion from a Power 5 conference (watch out Big 12).

As of now, the best guess for who gets back in the race (in order): Alabama, UCLA, Oregon, Oklahoma and Texas A&M.


Mark Blaudschun covers college football as a national columnist for Bleacher Report. He has more than three decades of experience covering sports at a variety of newspapers in New Jersey, The Dallas Morning News and The Boston Globe. Follow him on Twitter @blauds.


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