NCAA Football

Washington vs. USC: Live Score and Highlights

USC 6, Washington 3 - Halftime Stay tuned for breaking news, commentary and analysis throughout the matchup as the 17th-ranked Trojans battle Pac-12 Conference foe Washington during primetime Thursday night football on ESPN...

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Tyrie Cleveland Reveals Top 8: Which School Is Best Fit for 4-Star WR?

Eight lucky schools have made the cut in hopes of landing 4-star wide receiver Tyrie Cleveland.

Via his Twitter account, the nation’s No. 6 receiver and the No. 61 player overall in the 2016 cycle announced his top eight schools.

Arizona State, Arkansas, Florida, Houston, Oklahoma, Ole Miss, TCU and Texas A&M will battle it out in hopes of signing Cleveland in February.

He was committed to the Aggies for roughly six months before reopening his process back in April.

Which of his finalists presents him with the best option to make an impact early in his college career?

For starters, his list is largely ripe with schools who have lit up scoreboards this season. Six of his top eight schools feature offenses that currently rate among the nation’s top 25 total offenses.

Cleveland has the skill set to fit in nicely at any one of his finalists.

The three schools based outside of the Lone Star State that appear to have the most traction with Cleveland are Arizona State, Oklahoma and Ole Miss.

As Taylor Hamm of GigEm247 noted, he’s already taken official visits to check out the Sooners and the Sun Devils, and he intends to use an official visit to Oxford at some point.

The biggest attraction with the Sun Devils would be the opportunity to continue playing with his good friend, prep teammate and current 4-star quarterback Dillon Sterling-Cole—who is currently pledged to the Sun Devils.

All three of his in-state options feature programs that have prolific aerial attacks.

In TCU’s Josh Doctson, Texas A&M’s Christian Kirk and Houston’s Demarcus Ayers, all three programs have receivers who are among the nation’s top 25 most productive wideouts.

Heading to Fort Worth and potentially sliding into Doctson’s spot on the outside is a role that he could find appealing.

Of all of the staffs recruiting him, he may be closest to Texas A&M and head coach Kevin Sumlin.

“Every time I go out there, I feel comfortable, so there’s progress,” Cleveland told Hamm. “Every time I go there, I get a different vibe, and they’ve been doing a great job talking with me. Coach Sumlin has been talking to me a lot. We talked a few days ago on the phone, so it’s been great.”

He has been present for two of the Aggies' home games thus far.

Another plus for the Aggies in their quest to regain Cleveland’s commitment is the health of their quarterback situation.

With sophomore Kyle Allen, freshman Kyler Murray and a pledge from 2017 5-star passer Tate Martell, the Aggies appear to be set up for success at the game’s most critical position for years to come. 

While prospects who decommit from a program rarely end up signing with their original school of choice, the Aggies have plenty of positives trending in their direction with Cleveland.


Sanjay Kirpalani is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes obtained firsthand, all recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports, and all states courtesy of

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Power Ranking College Football's Top 12 Defensive Players

College football continues to be driven by high-powered offense, with 15 schools scoring at least 40 points per game and 17 averaging more than 500 yards. It's to the point where we expect teams to score almost every time they have the ball, and when they don't it's usually because of poor execution rather than strong defense.

Then we have a game like Saturday night's clash between Clemson and Notre Dame, when the host Tigers came up with a huge defensive stop in the final seconds by thwarting Notre Dame's two-point conversion attempt.

Believe it or not, there are plenty of great defensive players in college. If not, stars from that side of the ball wouldn't have accounted for 15 of the 32 first-round picks in the 2015 NFL draft.

Through five weeks of the 2015 season, several defenders have stood out from the pack with their individual play. We've ranked the top 12, factoring in their statistics as well as their tendency to be involved in the big stops in key moments.


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Uncommitted 2016 Recruits Most Likely to Commit Next

The month of October is when many recruits begin taking official visits. Some of those recruits choose to end their processes around this time as well.

Decisions are coming soon for a few athletes, and college coaches are preparing for upcoming announcements that could bring immediate help to their offensive or defensive lineups. Here are five athletes who are expected to make their decisions either this month or early next month.

All five athletes have been confirmed by Bleacher Report.

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Meet Richard Mullaney, Alabama's Unlikely Star

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — He’s a California guy who roots for Boston teams and came to the University of Alabama via a transfer from a school more than 2,000 miles away.

Yeah, sometimes Richard Mullaney shakes his head a little about the unusual direction his life has taken, and he’s still not exactly sure how it all came about. One thing that he is certain of, though, is that it’s more than worked out.

“It was just the perfect situation how everything just kind of fit together,” he said.

If there’s been a surprise on the 2015 Crimson Tide, it’s been Mullaney, who this time a year ago was unknowingly wrapping up his career at his first college, Oregon State. The only returning starter at wide receiver suffered a season-ending elbow injury during the second half of the 29-23 double-overtime loss to Utah.

Perhaps fittingly, it was a former Crimson Tide guy who indirectly set this whirlwind in motion, Mike Riley, with his decision to leave after two stints at Oregon State (1997-98, 2003-14, going 93-80) for Nebraska.

Along with a chance to follow in the footsteps of receivers such as Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh, the coach had been the reason why Mullaney left home. The California kid had grown up about 30 minutes south of Los Angeles “without traffic,” where he set a state single-season record for receptions with 122 for 1,709 yards and 20 touchdowns as a senior at Thousand Oaks High School.

However, none of the Oregon State players had a clue that that something was up until they were notified of an emergency team meeting. They were stunned by the announcement on Dec. 4.

“Riley’s gone,” they told Mullaney on their way out, as he was late because it was finals week. Exactly one week later, Oregon State would make an equally surprising move after Gary Anderson resigned from Wisconsin to fill the opening.

The one thing Mullaney didn’t do was make a knee-jerk move. He even went through spring practices with the new coaching staff and scored a touchdown in the spring game while wearing his No. 8.

But by finishing up his degree in human development and family sciences, Mullaney had the option to play at any school with an opening as a fifth-year transfer. Meanwhile, the Beavers were going to have not only a new quarterback with Sean Mannion drafted by the St. Louis Rams but also a new offense after switching to a spread, uptempo scheme.

Mullaney struggled with the decision. He didn’t want to go out with just 18 receptions for 216 yards and one touchdown in six games as his final season, but coming off a 5-7 year, the Beavers weren’t looking at a quick turnaround.

“With Oregon State, I was comfortable, and it’s not like I wanted to leave, but it’s just hard,” he said. “Four years there, so many friends, memories.

“At the end of the day, I had to do what’s best for me and what I wanted long-term.”

He asked to be released from his scholarship. Had Riley stayed, he never would have considered such a move.

“It was hard just talking to Coach Anderson,” Mullaney said. “The short time I got to know him, I really respect the guy. I would have loved to play for him under different circumstances. But I got the release, next thing I know I’m coming here on a trip and just fell in love with the place.”

To give an idea of how fast things happened, Mullaney was in Reser Stadium for the last time on Saturday, June 13, for his graduation ceremony. That was one day after getting his release and two days before flying to Tuscaloosa.

To borrow a phrase from a prominent California team, the Oakland Raiders, the program’s commitment to excellence stood out even though Nick Saban wasn’t on hand for the visit, which occurred during a vacation the coach had planned months in advance. They did talk via Skype, though, and when Alabama offered a scholarship, he accepted.

In addition to his father, who hails from Boston (thus the fan allegiance), among those Mullaney had talked things over with was Luke Del Rio, the former Alabama walk-on quarterback who played at Oregon State last season and has since transferred to Florida. 

However, he didn’t get a chance to pick the brain of Riley, who played for Paul W. “Bear” Bryant from 1971-74 and was offered the Alabama job when Dennis Franchione left for Texas A&M in 2002. Mullaney said the coach reached out to him and his family after the decision had been made.

When people asked him why the abrupt change, his response was simple: “It’s Alabama.”

“Nothing gets better [in college football]. I wanted to prove to everyone out there that I could compete with the best.”

Alabama had a need at the position even before sophomore Cam Sims suffered a torn ACL in the spring. After the departures of Amari Cooper, DeAndrew White and Christion Jones, the Crimson Tide’s top returning wide receiver was junior Chris Black, who made 15 receptions for 188 yards last season.

In comparison, Mullaney had caught 83 passes for 1,160 yards and five touchdowns over three seasons. His best year came as a sophomore in 2013, when he registered 52 receptions for 788 yards and three scores.

Moreover, Alabama would have a new quarterback and no one who could be sort of a security blanket, whom it could confidently go to in the clutch.

"We hoped that role would happen with really three guys this year,” Saban said. “Robert Foster, ArDarius Stewart and Calvin Ridley showed us enough early in camp and that we thought he could emerge and be one of those guys. With the circumstances as they are, he's gotten more opportunity, and he's responded very well to it.”

When Foster suffered a shoulder injury against Ole Miss that required surgery, Mullaney took his spot. Although Alabama’s comeback came up short, he had seven catches for 61 yards and two touchdowns, including one in which he hurdled a defender in route to the end zone.

“He’s a guy that a lot of people around here trust a lot,” said senior quarterback Jake Coker, another graduate transfer from Florida State. “He just does what he’s supposed to do.”

That’s exactly what Alabama needed, and it’s been everything that Mullaney hoped. From the barbecue food to the fans, and the high level of talent on the Crimson Tide roster, it’s all been as good, if not better, than hyped. His California nature stuck out a little when he called it “awesome,” but so far, so good.

He quickly grasped coordinator Lane Kiffin’s offense and planned on letting his play do his talking for him. Before long, his new teammates started raving about the new guy.

"My first impression of Mullaney was that he has good hands,” safety Geno Matias-Smith said. “He's a sure catch. Kind of reminds me of Kevin Norwood. That's been a comparison from a lot of guys."

“Goes up to attack the ball and he runs really good routes,” tight end O.J. Howard said. “He’s definitely a steal for us.”

So far, Mullaney, wearing No. 16 for the Crimson Tide, has made 15 receptions for 160 yards and, as the primary slot receiver, started the last two games. Ole Miss and Georgia also provided his first taste of league play, which is a little different in the intense Southeastern Conference.

Oregon State might have the Civil War with Oregon, but that’s pretty much it in terms of rivalries. Additionally, Mullaney’s only postseason experience has been in the Alamo Bowl and the Hawaii Bowl (he had three receptions for 52 yards against Boise State). Maybe that will change as well. 

“We’re just happy to have him,” senior center Ryan Kelly said. “He’s been a great guy on and off the field.”


Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.

Christopher Walsh is a lead SEC college football writer. Follow Christopher on Twitter @WritingWalsh.

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Oregon Offers Free Tickets for Game vs. Washington State to UCC Students, Staff

The Oregon football program is offering free tickets to students and staff members at Umpqua Community College for the Ducks' game Saturday against Washington State.'s Tom Fornelli reported on the Ducks' announcement Thursday. Students and staff are asked to fill out a form and are able to enter for up to four free tickets for the Pac-12 contest at Autzen Stadium.

This commendable gesture by Oregon comes after the tragic mass shooting that occurred at Umpqua last week in which 10 people were reported dead and nine others wounded. The Umpqua campus is located approximately 70 miles south of the University of Oregon in Eugene.

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Oregon Offers Free Tickets for Game vs. Washington State to UCC Students, Staff

The Oregon football program is offering free tickets to students and staff members at Umpqua Community College for the Ducks' game Saturday against Washington State.'s Tom Fornelli reported on the Ducks' announcement Thursday...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

Ohio State Football: How the Buckeyes Should Be Using Braxton Miller

On the first play of the game against Indiana last Saturday, Braxton Miller motioned across the field and took a flip pass from Cardale Jones.

It was a call made by the coaching staff to get the ball in the hands of one of Ohio State's most dangerous playmakers, but Hoosiers cornerback Rashard Fant diagnosed the play and wrapped Miller up before he cleared the line.

The nine-yard loss killed the drive before it even began. The Buckeyes failed to make up the lost ground and punted two plays later.

That was just one of two touches Miller registered against the Hoosiers, as he finished the game with a meager five all-purpose yards.

On Wednesday, Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer talked about the lack of opportunities Miller is getting, per Austin Ward of

He touched it twice [against Indiana], and we've got to give him more touches, direct touches. He almost came out of one ... and the other one is just a bad call by me.

But, no, he deserves touches. He's an electric player with the ball in his hand. We just have not got him loose the last couple of games.

The numbers certainly back that statement up. In Ohio State's last three games against Northern Illinois, Western Michigan and Indiana, Miller tallied just 50 total yards on 12 touches, averaging 4.2 yards per play with no touchdowns.

That downturn seemed so improbable after Miller's incredible performance in the season-opening win against Virginia Tech, when he ripped off touchdowns of 54 and 53 yards on his way to a 140-yard performance.

The Buckeyes already boasted so many stars on offense, but Miller looked like the perfect big-play complement who would take the offense from great to unfair levels of production.

But like the offense, Miller has been bogged down by defenses that—on paper—should have posed very little resistance. In the last four games, he hasn't scored a touchdown or produced a play that went for more than 20 yards.

The problem is twofold.

First, the Buckeyes offense is predicated on in-play reads. In essence, the ball will theoretically go where the defense shows itself to be the most vulnerable, and since most teams have been selling out to stop Miller, the ball just simply hasn't gone his way.

Meyer suggested as much on Oct. 5, per's Ryan Donnelly:

But Ohio State was force-feeding the ball into Miller's hands when it lined him up as a Wildcat quarterback. In the final two games of the nonconference slate, Miller gained just 18 yards on eight carries, averaging 2.2 yards per carry.

Despite Miller's quiet outing against the Hoosiers, Meyer is getting a sense for how to utilize one of college football's most dangerous playmakers. And while Miller didn't generate any game-breaking plays, he's starting to do the little things that come with playing wide receiver.

“It's frustrating, but you know, he graded a champion," Meyer said of Miller's Indiana performance, via Ward. "The Virginia Tech game, he did not. So think about that."

So how can Meyer get Miller more involved?

Part of that falls on the rest of the offense. If Jones can build a solid chemistry with his receivers in the passing game and the offensive line continues to pave big lanes for Ezekiel Elliott in the running game, opposing defenses will have to cover more ground.

That would free Miller up because opposing defenses have honed in on him when he motions into the backfield or lines up at quarterback.

And eventually, Meyer will need to let Miller throw the ball. The Buckeyes have utilized him as a Wildcat quarterback, but he's thrown just once this season—an ineffective flip pass to Jalin Marshall that netted three yards against Northern Illinois.

With that said, it's clear that Meyer is dedicated to getting Miller the ball.

"I’m just sick about Braxton," Meyer said, according to Patrick Murphy of The OZone. "I want to get him the darned ball and you just get caught up in the flow of the game."

But as the offense improves, the game should flow toward Miller more naturally and frequently.


David Regimbal is the Ohio State football Lead Writer for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @davidreg412.

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Maurice Clarett's Advice for LSU Superstar Leonard Fournette

Should Leonard Fournette be able to enter the 2016 NFL draft?

In many ways, this conversation was preordained. With each breathtaking run, each defensive back run over, each effortless 200-yard game and each trip to the end zone, one can’t help but wonder how the NFL could possibly tell this young man he’s not allowed access next spring.

The columns have been written. They will continue to be crafted. Despite Fournette’s best efforts to extinguish a fire he did not create, the questions surrounding his future will persist. He’s a wonderful, transcendent talent, and we are dying to know what his next act will be.  

If Fournette continues his torrid pace, we will keep comparing him to the legends of the game. To Herschel and Bo and the like. And yet, neither Walker nor Jackson could provide the appropriate perspective on his NFL predicament, if such a decision exists. There is only one running back—the sport’s greatest mystery, tragedy and now redemption tale—capable of understanding. So I called Maurice Clarett to find out.

“I suggest he ignores it,” Clarett told Bleacher Report of Fournette and the NFL. “All the other stuff is just noise. Complete this season out and don’t put your energy into next season just yet. When it comes, you deal with it. Come back next year, put together a strong campaign and move forward.”

This was not the first time Clarett has talked about Fournette.  

During the final days of June, Clarett visited Baton Rouge to deliver a message to the LSU football team as he has done at places like Alabama, Ohio State, Florida State, TCU and, most recently, the Boston Celtics. 

Clarett, as he has done plenty over the past five years, stressed the importance of education—not just “majoring in eligibility”—but taking advantage of all the resources available in college. He spoke to the team about decision-making and also an inevitable life after football. The blueprint he laid before them was essentially the antithesis of the path he followed 13 years ago.

When Clarett finished and readied to leave as the room cleared out, there was still one player left hoping to speak one-on-one. Fournette introduced himself to the former Ohio State running back.

“I didn’t recognize him without the helmet on,” Clarett said. “I always just knew him as No. 7, the young kid who had a really good freshman year.” 

The two spoke of Fournette’s upbringing in New Orleans. They talked football and life, pinballing stories off one another about their experiences. When asked, Clarett gladly offered up advice to the young man who was suddenly much more than just a number on the back of a jersey. He explained what he endured during his successful, volatile and short football voyage.

“I wanted to help provide a level of clarity,” Clarett said.

The two went their separate ways shortly after the satisfying conversation. Clarett went to his next campus to offer guidance. Fournette prepared for the season ahead—a season that no one, not even the great running back himself, could see coming.

Since that conversation, Fournette has become a phenomenon. He has run for 864 awe-inspiring yards in just four games. He has eclipsed the 200-yard mark three times. He has scored 11 touchdowns, averaging nearly a first down every time he carries the ball. He has become the face of college football four games into his sophomore year.

“I’ve watched what everyone else has,” Clarett said. “I don’t think his running style has really been on display in the past decade. The yards after contact really make him impressive compared to everyone else out there.”

As easy as Fournette has made the sport look at times, the story is no longer just about a potential Heisman running back leading an undefeated team in the nation’s premier conference. It’s escalated well beyond without an ounce of warning.

Many are now openly assessing whether the sophomore wrecking ball should challenge the NFL’s three-year eligibility rule for the draft—a battle Clarett is intimately familiar with—and use his freakish talents and profile to take on his most daunting opponent yet.

“It sounds good, it sounds fun, and I wish it were different,” Clarett said. “I probably wouldn’t be where I am at right now. But when you’re talking about this, you’re talking about big business.”

Clarett challenged the NFL’s ruling and won in 2004. He then lost the appeal, which sent him into football purgatory. He eventually made it to the NFL after a long wait between carries, only to end up in the Toledo Correctional Institution not long after.

His rise and fall and rise are well documented. Clarett’s story and unimaginable climb to this place—a place of tranquility, triumph and now leadership—is a 10,000-word column in itself. But that's for another time. 

The difference between these two players exists in the context. Clarett’s battle with one of the world’s most powerful corporations came after he was dismissed by Ohio State. In many ways, it came out of a sheer lack of options.

“I never wanted to leave,” Clarett said. “It was either go to Division I-AA or go to the NFL. What was created forced me out of the university. When I was in that position, there wasn’t a shadow of a doubt in my mind that I could play in the league. And even when I got there, I was saying to myself that I could have done it years ago when I was in a lot better shape, a lot more focused and a lot more in tune with the game.”

The idea that many are proposing to Fournette—who, again, has shown no interest in a fight—is that he finish out the year, maybe win a Heisman if things fall into place and then never log another carry at the collegiate level.

Former South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney garnered a similar treatment just a few short years ago before his junior season began. After a brilliant sophomore season—one that culminated in a hit that rattled the earth’s core in his team’s bowl game—Clowney played as long as he was required.

Despite not coming close to the insane expectations bestowed upon him, Clowney avoided catastrophic injury his junior year and was drafted No. 1 overall months later by the Houston Texans.

Fournette seems to be building toward a similar place. The concept, for those in favor of him saying farewell ahead of schedule, is quite simple: Fournette has shown all he has to and has already stated his case to each and every NFL general manager. The risk of playing another year for free, no matter the insurance policy available, just wouldn’t be worth it.

Having waited on football, Clarett can attest to some of the challenges in this proposed theory. For starters, the very practical problem with not playing a real game for over a year.

“When you have a craft, you have to constantly, constantly refine it,” Clarett said. “Even if he didn’t play any games, he still has to practice and further develop his skill level. It lacks motivation and interest. Go through the live movements and the live contact—that’s the only way you get better. That’s the only way you improve. What beats you up is not knowing.”

And yet, there is another way. Fournette and all of his budding fame could take the NFL on this spring if he so desired. He could pair up with a dynamite legal team itching for an opportunity to take on the weakening shield in a high-profile case.

Forget about facing Alabama one last time. Fournette could challenge the opponent of all opponents—the NFL. Clarett tried, succeeded and eventually failed doing so more than a decade ago. The process eventually took its toll.

“I didn’t understand this when I did it, but he doesn’t have the resources to change the rules,” Clarett said. “The process will beat you up so much from the battering on TV, the fans and just the entire thing. It will drain you, and it will drain your interest in football. That’s what it did to me.”

And there’s yet another option. There's another familiar door to walk right through—the door Fournette has indicated early on that he intends to open.

The best player in college football could finish out this season, enjoying whatever treasures and awards might come his way. He could become even bigger, faster, stronger and more mentally equipped to handle the spotlight ahead. He could play football in his home state, entertaining the people who followed him long before he became a national star.

He could come back next season even better than he is right now—a possibility as real as it is frightening—and stay clear of the madness others are preemptively tossing in his lap. He could avoid the path that others have failed to travel before him, others including Clarett, choosing to play the sport he so deeply cares about at a university he is so deeply invested in.

“You had a great year,” Clarett said. “And even though you wish things were different, they’re not. My advice to him is to continue to play.”

Unless noted otherwise, all quotes obtained firsthand.

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College Football Week 6: Top 25 Upset Alert

Week 6's slate is shaping up to be a very intense string of games, and there's nothing more exciting than a good upset. 

Who is on our Top 25 upset alert for Week 6? Will Florida State possibly lose this week?

Find out in the above video as Adam Kramer goes in-depth on possible upsets in Week 6. 

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College Football Coaches on Hot Seat Heading into Week 6

As much as we'd love to see goal-line cameras introduced into college football, many coaches would prefer the next technological advance that comes to the game to address seat-temperature control.

The weather is getting cooler across the country, but at the same time, the heat is getting turned up on a number of coaches who are either off to rough starts in 2015 or aren't showing the progress expected. This has put into question their job security and added doubt to whether they're the right men for the job.

The Week 6 schedule features several games where a coach on the hot seat faces a critical matchup, one he either needs to win or at least show he's got his team moving in the right direction. Check out our list, and then give us your thoughts in the comments section.

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Randy Edsall: Latest News, Rumors, Speculation on Coach's Future with Maryland

With the Maryland Terrapins football team struggling to a 2-3 start, it looks as though head coach Randy Edsall's days at the helm may soon be over.

Continue for updates.

Maryland Releases Statement on Edsall Thursday, Oct. 8

"Randy Edsall is our head football coach, [and] he'll be on the sidelines Saturday against Ohio State," Maryland said, per Brett McMurphy of ESPN.

Report: Edsall Expected to Be Fired After Saturday's Game Thursday, Oct. 8

Following a 28-0 blowout loss to Michigan last week, Jeff Ermann of 247Sports reported multiple sources have said Edsall will coach his final contest with the Terrapins against Ohio State on Saturday unless an unexpected reversal occurs.

Per Ermann, some questions still remain regarding when the official announcement will be made:

The Terps are currently last in the Big Ten East at 0-1 and 2-3 overall, and they have been outscored 73-6 over the past two weeks combined against West Virginia and Michigan.

Maryland also previously lost a game to Bowling Green, which certainly seemed to turn up the heat with regard to Edsall's status.

According to Ermann, there is no concern on Maryland's part about how firing Edsall might impact the current players on the team.

"Nobody in the locker room would leave next year because Edsall is fired," an anonymous source said. "He doesn't have too many fans left in the locker room."

That much may have become apparent after the loss to the Mountaineers, as his players held a players-only meeting without his knowledge, per Angelique Chengelis of the Detroit News:

Edsall is just 22-33 in four-plus seasons with the Terrapins. His only winning campaigns were 7-6 marks in both 2013 and 2014, but Maryland fell in both bowl games it qualified for.

There were high hopes regarding what Edsall might be able to do for the Maryland program after it moved from the ACC to the Big Ten in 2014. He led the previously moribund Connecticut program to eight wins or more every year from 2007 through 2010, including one BCS bowl bid.

That success simply hasn't translated to Maryland, and with no progress being made from one year to the next, it is difficult to argue with the program's reported decision to part ways with the 57-year-old coach.


Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter.

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Most Important College Football Recruiting Visits of Week 6

Another slate of games in the 2015 college football season means we're one week closer to national signing day. High school seniors who create the 2016 recruiting class will send in national letters of intent Feb. 3, finalizing collegiate intentions.

This decision-making process continues to take prospects across the country as they check out campuses under consideration. There are plenty of players to monitor again this weekend, headlined by a pair of 5-star talents that are expected to attend Florida State's matchup with rival Miami. 

Here's the latest glimpse at key travel plans set to take place this upcoming weekend.

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Why Brandon Harris, Not Leonard Fournette, Must Star vs. South Carolina

All LSU running back Leonard Fournette has done over the first four games of the season is lead the nation with 864 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns, become the first SEC running back ever to post three straight 200-yard rushing games and vault himself to the top of virtually every early Heisman ranking.

Not bad, if you like 6'1", 230-pound monsters who have Adrian Peterson's power and Barry Sanders' quickness.

Is LSU a contender in the SEC West, though?

The answer is "no." At least, not until quarterback Brandon Harris can prove that he can stretch the field—or at least provide a reasonable threat that he can stretch the field.

Through four games, that hasn't happened.

The Tigers rank 124th out of 128 FBS teams in passing offense (95.5 yards per game)—three spots behind Georgia Tech, which runs the triple option. Harris has just six completions of 20 or more yards, which doesn't even register on's list of players with passing plays of 20 or more yards (it stops at 99th place and players with eight).

As CFBFilmRoom noted on Twitter, Harris hasn't even attempted many passes downfield.

Granted, LSU has played one fewer game than most teams thanks to the cancellation of the season-opener versus McNeese State. Still, the absence of a passing game should be very concerning.

Enter: South Carolina, which doesn't exactly boast a threatening pass defense.

The Gamecocks rank 12th in the SEC in pass defense (218.8 yards per game), has given up 7.2 yards per attempt—next-to-last in the conference—and has given up 11 passing plays of 20 or more yards (12th in the conference). 

Because of that, expect a heavy dose of Harris through the air, as head coach Les Miles said (via: Marcus Rodrigue of The Advocate) in a way that only Miles can.

Not only should that happen, LSU needs it to happen.

The Eastern Michigan game being closer than expected and the McNeese State rainout robbed the Tigers of two chances to fine-tune the passing game. As a result, Harris is still the great unknown in Baton Rouge.

That has to change if LSU is legitimately going to contend for the SEC West title.

We saw last week in Georgia's loss to Alabama that with teams that are one-dimensional by necessity—which both Georgia and LSU are—good defenses can at least slow down great running backs. LSU still has Florida (97.8 YPG) and Alabama (84.0 YPG) on the schedule, which rank first and second in the SEC in rush defense, respectively.

Surprisingly, even Arkansas has had some success in stopping the run (101.6 YPG).

Fournette has been awesome this year, and he will still have success against great run defenses. But he's not going to be a video game cheat code every week, which means Harris has to learn to stretch the field.

The time is now.

With Florida coming to town next week and the road trip to Alabama looming on Nov. 7, there's no time like the present to get right through the air against a South Carolina defense that's ripe for the picking.

If it doesn't, it will be too late and LSU will sputter down the stretch.


Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports. Statistics are courtesy of

Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer and national college football video analyst for Bleacher Report as well as a host on Bleacher Report Radio on SiriusXM 83. Follow Barrett on Twitter @BarrettSallee.

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Ohio State's Problem with Too Many Stars on One Team

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Earlier this week, Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer felt the need to hold a state of the union of sorts with his team, the type of tactic he's typically resorted to as seasons have drawn closer to November, where, in Meyer's words, "championships are won."

But what was discussed at Meyer's team meeting this week wasn't Ohio State's upcoming path to defending its national title, but rather the pitfalls that could prevent it from ever taking form in the coming weeks.

"I did talk to the team about the circle and the foundation of our team is solid," Meyer said on Wednesday. "If there are cracks in that, then you have a problem."

Those "cracks" Meyer is referring to come in the form of distractions from outside of that circle, brought on by social media, looking ahead to the NFL or, in other words, the realities of having a roster full of 18-to-22-year-old celebrities.

"I've watched for that like a hawk because I've seen that infiltrate a team before," Meyer said.

Thus far, the fourth-year Buckeyes head coach hasn't seen anything that's served as a red flag, and in interview settings, his players have all been sticking to their politically correct scripts. But that doesn't mean those issues Meyer so desperately fears aren't out there, as they could very well be unavoidable on a team that possesses the makeup that Ohio State does.

Between a national championship quarterback, the reigning Big Ten Quarterback and National Freshman of the Year, a two-time Big Ten MVP, the preseason Heisman Trophy front-runner and a plethora of potential NFL prospects, there was never going to be an issue with star power on this year's Buckeyes squad—and that's just on the offensive side of the ball.

To say that the lack of touches available to each deserving player on the OSU offense couldn't lead to eventual concerns would be a bit naive, especially given the unprecedented nature of the Buckeyes' quarterback conundrum.

In fact, one could argue that there have already been distractions that have stemmed from Ohio State's signal-caller situation.

After all, it wasn't a coincidence that Cardale Jones opted to change his Twitter bio to read "3rd string QB @ The Ohio State University. Oh wait, 2nd string," after he was benched in the first half of the Buckeyes' Week 3 win over Northern Illinois in favor of accomplished backup J.T. Barrett. Jones owned up to the Twitter edit that quickly went viral, admitting that it was a mistake on his end.

"It was immature and I shouldn't have done it," Jones said when asked by Bleacher Report about the subject following his bounce-back performance in Ohio State's win over Western Michigan the following week. "Flat out."

But it'd be tough to place too much blame on Jones—the starter in each of the Buckeyes' first five games of the season—for feeling insecure in what's mostly been a back-and-forth quarterback battle, and the same could be said of Barrett.

While he hasn't been made available to the media since the preseason, the reigning Big Ten Quarterback of the Year has seemed noticeably less engaged during games while standing on the OSU sideline this season than he was during the Buckeyes' run through the postseason, which he sat out due to injury.

Perhaps reading too much into that would be overvaluing body language, and Barrett wouldn't be the first or only Ohio State player to seem frustrated with his role on this year's Buckeyes team.

Just days before his breakout game against Indiana last Saturday, running back Ezekiel Elliott shut down an interview with reporters less than three minutes into it after being asked consecutive questions about new Heisman front-runner Leonard Fournette, Georgia's Nick Chubb and Hoosiers running back Jordan Howard.

"Man, I'm done," Elliott said, visibly annoyed by the inquiries about the three running backs who had each posted higher rushing totals than the preseason Heisman front-runner had at that point.

Of course, Elliott's 274-yard, three-touchdown performance in the Buckeyes' 34-27 win over Indiana likely cured any concern he may have had about a lessened role in the OSU offense following last season's national title run. Those type of numbers won't be as easy to come by for quarterback-turned-wideout Braxton Miller, who still finds himself adjusting to his new role at the midway point of the regular season.

After gaining 140 yards of total offense and two touchdowns during his wide receiver debut in the Buckeyes' season-opening victory against Virginia Tech, Miller has totaled just 123 combined yards in Ohio State's previous four games and is yet to get back into the end zone. Against the Hoosiers, Miller touched the ball just twice on a reception that resulted in a loss of nine yards and a 14-yard rush.

On Monday, Meyer said that he'd like get the former two-time Big Ten MVP more involved in the offensive game plan, but admitted that it's tougher to do at his new position than it was when he was playing quarterback.

"You can't say throw it to him, you just can't do that. What if he's covered?," Meyer said. "It's frustrating."

Asked on Wednesday about Miller's recent struggles, Elliott said that his issues aren't necessarily a unique one in such a star-studded offense.

"I'm sure there's some frustration," Elliott said. "I think we all come in with the same mindset. We're just trying to get wins and we're not really too worried about the individual stats or individual accolades. We're just trying to get better as a team. We have so many great players on the team, one week it might be one guy, some week it might be someone else. I think we're all just ready for our time and when our number's called, we're going to perform."

Elliott's attitude is ideal, but Meyer knows that such a selfless approach is easier stated than achieved. That's why he's already doing an inventory check of his roster, in order to proactively seek out any issues than may be brewing.

"We see it across the country all the time," Meyer said. "When you start getting effort and attitude [issues] and the things you just mentioned, that's where red flags start showing up and I don't feel that at all."

At least not yet.

Thus far, Ohio State's talent has been enough to overcome its shortcomings in what's been a sluggish first five weeks of the 2015 season. Whether that talent will ultimately prove to be the No. 1-ranked Buckeyes' greatest enemy remains to be seen.


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

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Week 6 College Football Picks: Bet Top Big 12 Teams TCU, Baylor, Oklahoma

The Big 12 is often criticized for featuring high-scoring teams without playing much defense. Some of that is apparently justified, as the conference's two best teams—the TCU Horned Frogs and the Baylor Bears—were left out of the College Football Playoff field last year in favor of the eventual national champion Ohio State Buckeyes.

This season, No. 2 TCU (5-0) and No. 3 Baylor (4-0) are both on a mission to do whatever it takes to ensure they stay among the top four teams in the country until the very end.

That means not only winning but winning impressively until they meet each other on November 27. Winning impressively translates to running up the score whenever possible and often beating expectations set by oddsmakers in covering the spread.

The Horned Frogs have a tough matchup with the Kansas State Wildcats (3-1) on Saturday at Bill Snyder Family Stadium in Manhattan. However, this type of game will bring out the best in TCU this time of year, as the team is 5-0 against the spread in its past five October games, according to the OddsShark College Football Database.

The Wildcats fell to the Horned Frogs 41-20 on the road last season as 6.5-point underdogs and will lose again by double digits here.

The Bears are enormous 44-point road favorites visiting the Kansas Jayhawks (0-4), according to sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark. The spread will not matter much in this game because Kansas is so bad and will have trouble scoring two touchdowns.

In fact, that’s the exact number of points the Jayhawks have scored in their past two meetings with Baylor while giving up an average of 59.5. A similar result will happen this time around, so take the Bears to bury Kansas in Lawrence.

The 10th-ranked Oklahoma Sooners (4-0) might be the third-best team in the Big 12 right now, and they will face the struggling Texas Longhorns (1-4) in the annual Red River Rivalry game.

The Sooners have failed to cover both of the last two meetings. However, the Longhorns are just 1-6 straight up and ATS in their past seven games overall. The current form of each team gives a significant advantage to favored Oklahoma, so look for a blowout over hapless Texas in Dallas.

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10 Biggest Questions Facing Top 25 Teams Heading into Week 6

Say this for Week 6 of the 2015 college football season: It's hosting some of the most unlikely critical conference games imaginable. 

Who would have thought that one of the most important games in early October would be Northwestern at Michigan? Who could have guessed that ESPN's College GameDay was headed to Cal-Utah for a battle of Pac-12 unbeatens? 

College football is unpredictable like that, though, which means this weekend's results should be just as crazy. In the meantime, though, let's sift through the storylines to ask the biggest questions for Week 6's biggest games. 

What are the top 10 questions facing Associated Press Top 25 teams heading into Week 6? Here we provide the answers based on last week's results, upcoming matchups and more. 

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College Football Picks: Week 6 Predictions for Every Game

Conference play brings out the best (and worst) in teams, as we saw last week, as many of the biggest upsets involved teams from the same league. And with the vast majority of games on this week's college football schedule of the intra-conference variety, expect more surprising results.

Though maybe not as many, since the Week 6 slate isn't nearly as thrilling as what we witnessed a week ago.

There are only two matchups of Top 25 teams on Saturday, one in the Big Ten and another wrapping up the night out in the Pac-12. League play does dominate the weekend, as 49 of the 57 games are conference clashes, including the first Tuesday night game of the year on Oct. 13 featuring a pair of Sun Belt teams.

We've made predictions for every game, providing analysis and insight into how the action should pan out. Check them out and give us your picks in the comments section.


Rankings reflect those from the Associated Press Top 25.


Last week's record: 43-17 (.717)

Season: 274-75 (.785)

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SEC Extra Points with Barrett Sallee: Auburn's Shocking Quarterback Dilemma

Pick a Quarterback, Auburn

Could the quarterback merry-go-round be spinning again in Auburn?

Well, perhaps. 

Head coach Gus Malzahn has opened up all positions on the roster during the bye week, and that includes quarterback, where redshirt freshman Sean White replaced ineffective junior Jeremy Johnson after Game 3.

"We are going to let everybody compete," Malzahn said. "We are really happy with the way Sean played his first two games and feel like he has a lot of potential. He's still taking the first reps in practice, but we are letting our guys compete at all positions."

Johnson threw six interceptions and five touchdowns during the first two games of the year, and looked incredibly lost in his first full season as Auburn's starting quarterback.

"We know he's talented, but it's just a matter of getting out there and practicing and getting that edge back and doing the things that he knows that he can do," Malzahn said.

Potential is great, and Johnson certainly has it. But the staff already gave him the quick hook due to ineffectiveness. While White hasn't been a superstar, he did complete 20 of 28 passes and made the proper decisions in the loss to Mississippi State. 

He didn't get the win in what will likely a critical game in Auburn's quest to make the postseason, but at least he looked somewhat comfortable out there, and did so again last week in the win over San Jose State.

Johnson looked rattled from the moment he stepped on the field this season. Is that suddenly going to change next Thursday on the road at Kentucky on national television? 


White should be the man for Auburn. After all, a young player with so much inexperience will benefit tremendously from this bye week. 


Rocky Bottom

Is this rock bottom for the Tennessee Volunteers? 

Head coach Butch Jones better hope so.

The Vols are 2-3, just lost a home game to Arkansas—Bret Bielema's first road conference win in three seasons as Arkansas' head coach—can't trust the passing game, can't trust the defense, just dismissed wide receiver Alton "Pig" Howard and are facing games against Georgia and Alabama in the coming weeks.

Other than that, things are fine on Rocky Top.

I wrote earlier this week that this is a must-win game for Jones and the Vols. 

"We never talk about our backs being against the wall," Jones said. "We always view every game as a 'must-win,' particularly in this conference. Every game you go into is a must-win type of situation."

But this one is really a must-win situation.

As frustrating as the season has been for the Vols (2-3, 0-2 SEC), they still only have two conference losses, and handing a second conference loss to Georgia and holding that tiebreaker is imperative if Tennessee wants to get back into the mix for the SEC East.

Now, sure, the Bulldogs would likely have to run the table and get help from teams playing Florida to do that, and that's about as likely as Lloyd Christmas finding love in Dumb and Dumber. But there's at least an outside chance. 

Was the loss to Arkansas "rock bottom," or will the struggles continue for the rest of the month? We'll find out on Saturday afternoon in Neyland Stadium when the Vols host the Bulldogs.


Back-To-Back Challenges

Those poor members of the Arkansas front seven have quite the challenge to start the month.

The Hogs had 6'4", 240-pound monster Jalen Hurd coming downhill at them last week in their 24-20 win over Tennessee, and they now have the unenviable challenge of stopping Derrick Henry and the 4-1 Alabama Crimson Tide.

"He's obviously a really good back," Bielema said. "He's listed at 6'3", 242, and I believe every penny of that. A guy who has bought into the team concept. They use him in a variety of ways and he makes a few plays on his own, A very good player. I don't know anything about how pretty his stride is or all that jazz, but he's a really good player."

Arkansas is third in the SEC in rush defense so far in 2015 (101.60 yards per game), and only gave up 133 to the decidedly run-heavy Vols last week—including 4.74 yards per carry to Hurd. 

They're going to have to tighten up even more against Alabama, because as we saw last week, Alabama's offense clicks when Henry establishes the run, brings the safeties up and allows quarterback Jake Coker to take advantage deep off of play action.


A Necessary Move

First and foremost, thoughts and prayers go out to the people of the state of South Carolina for having to deal with the flooding that's gone on statewide over the last week.

As a result of that flooding, South Carolina's home game against LSU has been moved to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and will kick off at 3:30 p.m. ET.

"On behalf of the South Carolina football team we want to do the right thing and do what is best for all concerned," said Gamecock football coach Steve Spurrier in a statement emailed by the school. "It appears the best thing is to travel to LSU. We look forward to the challenge and competing against the Tigers in Baton Rouge on Saturday."

This had to be done. 

Williams-Brice Stadium is fine, but asking 80,000 people or more to travel to and into a disaster area is a risk not worth taking. 

Why Baton Rouge? It's certainly not an ideal situation, and LSU will benefit from having a fifth conference home game this season while South Carolina will suffer from only having three.

It's only football, though. And keeping people safe takes precedence over minor issues like fairness. Fairness left the conversation as soon as the weather issues started.

Could other sites have been used? According to USA Today's Dan Wolken, Jacksonville and Charlotte were considered. But moving a game on short notice is a logistical nightmare, and dealing with SEC teams who know what's needed for a conference game is the path of least resistance.


Homecoming Motivation

Missouri has pegged a division game as its homecoming game every year since joining the SEC (Kentucky in 2012, South Carolina in 2013 and Vanderbilt in 2014). 

Homecoming is this weekend in Columbia, and its opponent is—gulp—5-0 Florida.

That fact didn't slip by first-year Gators head coach Jim McElwain.

"Based on history, I'm sure they have pretty good confidence that they'll put it on the Gators," he said. "It's one of those deals where, based on history, I'm sure they felt pretty good about us being their homecoming."

This isn't like the previous two seasons, though, when Missouri has toppled the Gators.

The Missouri offense will give true freshman quarterback Drew Lock his second career start in place of suspended junior Maty Mauk. While Lock was solid last week against South Carolina with 136 passing yards and two touchdowns, it's a lot to ask of him to be even better against the likes of Florida's Vernon Hargreaves, Quincy Wilson and the talented Gator secondary.

Florida is not walking into a trap. The combination of Florida's momentum and Missouri's inexperience at quarterback and wide receiver will make for a long Saturday night in Columbia.


Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports. Statistics are courtesy of

Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer and national college football video analyst for Bleacher Report as well as a host on Bleacher Report Radio on SiriusXM 83. Follow Barrett on Twitter @BarrettSallee.

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Rapid-Fire Predictions for College Football's Biggest Games in Week 6

Week 6 has the look of yet another exciting slate of games for college football fans. The questions is, which teams stand the best chance at victory?

And which players are most likely to shine?

Find out in the above video as Bleacher Report College Football Analysts Michael Felder, Adam Kramer and Barrett Sallee go in-depth on Week 6 and its possible outcomes. 

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