NCAA Football

Florida State Needs to Fix Inconsistent Offense as Playoffs Loom

Florida State doesn't need to have the high-powered, balanced offense of 2013. That was an offense for the history books.

But the Seminoles keep living on the edge in 2014, surviving with an offense that has often been one-dimensional. At some point, will it catch up with FSU? Will the Seminoles be able to keep stacking up wins, especially close ones, as the playoffs get closer?

More than likely, the answer to the first question is "yes." It may not happen next week at Miami or the following weeks against Boston College or Florida. But the inconsistency will definitely be an issue in the playoffs.

FSU defeated Virginia 34-20 on Saturday night but did it with plenty of help from the defense. The Seminoles forced three turnovers in the first half, giving the offense three short fields to work with. So FSU needed to go 23 yards, three yards and 22 yards to score three of its four touchdowns and take a 28-13 halftime lead.

"The defense kept us in this ballgame," FSU quarterback Jameis Winston said.

On FSU's other 10 drives that didn't have the benefit of a short field, the team didn't do much. The Seminoles scored only 13 points and sprinkled in three turnovers and four punts.

Winston had been playing well at times this season, coming off a lackluster first half at Louisville that was followed by a strong second half as FSU rallied for a 42-31 win. He has had five games of 290 or more passing yards. But on Saturday, he was flat early, much like the first half at Louisville.

There were a pair of interceptions in the first half that led to Virginia touchdowns. That's five interceptions in two games.

"I've got to play better," Winston said. "Make smart decisions, not turn the ball over. I'm hurting this team. I really am."

The last part of that statement isn't completely true. Winston has tossed 11 interceptions in eight games in 2014, already more than the 10 INTs he had in 2013. The interceptions have certainly put the defense in a bind, and that's what Winston is referencing.

But the mistakes aren't limited just to Winston. Bobo Wilson dropped a few passes early. Travis Rudolph ran a wrong route that led to an interception.

The running game struggled yet again, getting 115 yards but averaging just 2.9 yards per carry. Karlos Williams had 21 carries for 70 yards, but both of his touchdown runs came with FSU capitalizing on short fields. Dalvin Cook was the hero at Louisville with 110 rushing yards, but against Virginia he was held to 36 yards on 11 runs. Mario Pender was out again with an ankle injury.

FSU coach Jimbo Fisher said Cook would be evaluated for a potential hip injury.

"He got banged up pretty good," Fisher said.

If Cook and Pender are not available next week at Miami, FSU will need to lean on Williams and fullback Freddie Stevenson. Or ask Winston to drop back and win the game.

Winston certainly hasn't been awful. FSU has scored 30 or more points in the eight games he has played this season. If anything, he's been quite accurate, completing 66.7 percent of his passes this season (he completed 66.9 percent in his Heisman season a year ago).

The issue for Winston has been the inconsistency of the young receivers. And the 11 interceptions.

FSU's turnovers, now 21 in nine games, are disconcerting. And giving up three to Virginia was unexpected.

"That's scary," Fisher said. "That's something that we've never done around here. When you're playing young guys, you take the good with the bad."

FSU has taken the good with the bad all season. The Seminoles are 9-0, but it's often come with drama. Or frustration over mistakes.

The only question now: Is the dichotomy of good and bad going to be enough? Odds are it will be adequate for the regular season, but it will be a major cause for concern in December and January.

 

Bob Ferrante is the Florida State Lead Writer for Bleacher Report. All quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Follow Bob on Twitter. All stats courtesy of seminoles.com. All recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports.

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Ohio State vs. Michigan State: How Spartans' Loss Reshapes Playoff Picture

How do you gain instant legitimacy? You beat the eighth-ranked team in the country on the road by 12 points.

The No. 14 Ohio State Buckeyes put themselves in pole position to win the Big Ten after a 49-37 win over the No. 8 Michigan State Spartans in East Lansing. As a result, the Bucks may be back in the playoff picture after all.

Winning the conference championship is essentially a prerequisite to make the top four, and with the Spartans out of the way, Ohio State has a relatively easy road between here and the end of the year.

ESPN.com's Brian Bennett remains skeptical that the Buckeyes will do enough:

Ohio State head coach remains confident that his team's done enough so far, per Patrick Maks of Eleven Warriors:

One thing is for sure; OSU won't crack the top four when the selection committee unveils its newest rankings. That would mean jumping 10 spots after one victory.

More than likely, the top four will look something like this:

Ohio State vs. Michigan State was billed as a playoff eliminator; whomever lost kissed its national title hopes goodbye.

"I personally feel like the playoff system starts this weekend," said Michigan State middle linebacker Taiwan Jones before the game, per MLive.com's Mike Griffith. "It's a one-game elimination."

Well, he and his Spartan teammates were eliminated on Saturday.

It's way too late in the season for Michigan State to have any chance impressing the selection committee all over again and getting into the top four.

Of course, that's not to say that Ohio State is a lock for the playoff, either. The Buckeyes will likely still be on the outside looking in when the Week 12 rankings are unveiled.

Entering Saturday, the Big Ten wasn't getting a ton of love from the committee. Here's a look at how many teams each conference had in the Top 25 and the conference's average ranking.

Even with this victory, it's likely that Ohio State will be ranked behind Oregon—as long as the Ducks win—and TCU. Arizona State might even remain ahead of the Buckeyes after the Sun Devils' victory over Notre Dame.

The Big Ten has a perception problem. The SEC surpassed it a few years ago, and the Pac-12 is deeper from top to bottom. The Big 12 has arguably leapfrogged the Big Ten as well.

Members of the selection committee can talk about not bringing conference strength/perception into the discussion, but that's nearly impossible when judging the quality of a potential top-four team.

Grantland's Matt Hinton wrote a great examination of the Big Ten and how exactly it arrived at this point. He argued that the clash between the Buckeyes and Spartans "exists in a kind of vacuum" outside of the national eye because the Big Ten remains an afterthought in the national discussion.

Ohio State lost to a now 4-5 Virginia Tech team, while Michigan State was dominated in the second half by Oregon. And beating Nebraska wouldn't register much for the Buckeyes since the Cornhuskers' best win so far was at home against Miami.

Hinton said that he had previously tried to defend the Big Ten from undue criticism, but the conference's decline is plain for everyone to see:

Such are the calculations that are so often misread as "bias" in a system that is (1) based largely on drawing conclusions from indirect and frequently contradictory comparisons, and (2) ill-suited to informing said comparisons. I spent years battling the assumption that the Big Ten was gathering rust or that the SEC was pulling away, which were two sides of the same annoying argument. Both conclusions struck me as shallow, anecdotal, and dubious. Gradually, though, the perception has become such an undeniable reality that the Big Ten commissioner himself has been forced to own up to it every time his conference has gotten sand kicked in its face. (Jim) Delany doesn't even bother to describe the malaise as "cyclical" anymore. Until further notice, it's just the way things are.

It's not impossible for Ohio State to get into the top four, but in order for that to happen, the Buckeyes will almost certainly need both Oregon and Arizona State to lose in the Pac-12 and then TCU to fall in the Big 12.

Then again, OSU might have swayed the selection committee with its decisive victory.

With the way that this season has unfolded, Ohio State fans shouldn't begin to panic. By the time all is said and done, the Buckeyes could be the only one-loss conference champion outside of an unbeaten Florida State.

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Alabama vs. LSU: How Crimson Tide's Win Reshapes Playoff Picture

Alabama eked out a 20-13 overtime victory against rival LSU on Saturday, a win that should keep its College Football Playoff hopes alive for at least another week. 

The result moves 'Bama to 8-1 overall and 5-1 in the SEC. LSU drops to 7-3 overall and 3-3 in the SEC, well out of both the playoff and conference title pictures.

The Big Lead's Jason McIntyre noted several teams saw their playoff hopes washed away on Saturday, but Alabama wasn't one of them:

This game established some semblance of order in the SEC, but it does little to alleviate the headache of the College Football Playoff selection committee, which at this point still has a multitude of one-loss teams to consider from the power conferences.

Florida State and Oregon should still make the College Football Playoff if they win out, although no one should dare sleep on Arizona State. The Sun Devils blew out Notre Dame 55-31 on Saturday and could very well dash the Ducks' playoff dreams if they meet in the Pac-12 title game.

The Crimson Tide's win creates desperation for the likes of TCU and Baylor, as only the winner of the Big 12 title is likely to get a playoff spot. The Bears hold the tiebreaker over the Horned Frogs by virtue of their 61-58 shootout win earlier this season. However, neither team could make the playoff if the committee selects two SEC squads, highly unlikely but still plausible after Alabama's win.

The win over a prestige opponent, combined with the Auburn Tigers' shocking loss to Texas A&M on Saturday, should vault Alabama into the top four of the College Football Playoff rankings. The win also creates some semblance of separation in the SEC West, as Alabama and Mississippi State are now the top two teams in the division.

Unfortunately, these two heavyweights must still play each other on Nov. 15. This game could very well determine who wins the SEC championship, and whether or not two teams from the conference make the College Football Playoff.

Should Alabama beat Mississippi State and go on to win the SEC Championship—very likely considering the notable flaws of Georgia and Missouri, two of the best SEC East teams—the Bulldogs could still earn a playoff spot with one loss and all the goodwill Dak Prescott and company have conjured up throughout the season.

If the Crimson Tide lose on November 15, the second loss would likely doom their playoff hopes and leave it to the Bulldogs to finish out the season strong and represent the SEC in the College Football Playoff. 

Auburn can definitely spoil Alabama's chances if the Tigers defeat their bitter rival in the Iron Bowl on Nov. 29, leaving both teams with two losses and clearing the path for Mississippi State. It will be up to coach Nick Saban to keep his squad focused, so perhaps it's a good thing he was dismissive of the initial CFP rankings in late October. Via AL.com's Michael Casagrande: 

To me, none of it matters. What does it matter? I mean, it only matters where you end up at the end. So what matters to us is how we do in each and every game that we have to play. We have four games left to play, and if we can be successful in those games, maybe there's a chance we will play in the SEC Championship Game as well.

LSU's loss should spur the team to search for some semblance of a consistent passing game in the coming years.

Alabama has had great success with game managers like A.J. McCarron and Blake Sims, while Auburn is in the hunt every year thanks to the dual-threat exploits of quarterbacks like Nick Marshall and Cam Newton.

LSU's running game is in good shape with freshman Leonard Fournette in the fold, yet—simply put—the type of year quarterback Anthony Jennings has had won't cut it in this conference.

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Ohio State Proves Playoff-Worthy in Beatdown of Michigan State

EAST LANSING, Michigan — For 11 months Ohio State tried to play it cool, claiming that its Nov. 8 matchup with Michigan State was merely another game on its schedule. But as its showdown with the Spartans approached, it became increasingly clear that this was the date that the Buckeyes had circled on their schedule—and boy, did they deliver.

Urban Meyer left no stone unturned in his biggest win in two-plus seasons as Ohio State's head coach, pulling out all the stops in what was ultimately a 49-37 Buckeyes victory.

Quarterback J.T. Barrett turned in another stellar performance, reentering his name into the Heisman Trophy conversation with 386 total yards and five touchdowns, while the OSU defense swarmed MSU quarterback Connor Cook in a game that was decided with more than 10 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.

If there were still any questions remaining about how good this Buckeyes team is—and there were—they were answered on Saturday. Regardless of how it did it, Ohio State went into Spartan Stadium at night as an underdog and walked away with a much-needed signature victory.

"This is a pretty young team that played a pretty veteran team and came out on top," Meyer told ESPN in his postgame interview. "The future is bright at Ohio State."

Only this wasn't about exercising demons left from last season's loss in the Big Ten title game—that all makes for meaningless fodder, which there certainly wasn't any shortage of in Columbus this past week.

Having their 24-game winning streak and national title chances ended by Michigan State last season may have been used as a motivation for the Buckeyes in the offseason, but what happened in East Lansing was bigger than any contrived revenge narrative could encapsulate.

This was about Ohio State proving that it was the real deal, not just a team that has beat up on bad opponents since its Week 2 loss to Virginia Tech. Tuesdays at 7:30 p.m. just got a whole lot more interesting in Columbus, as the Buckeyes now find themselves right in the thick of a hunt for a spot in the first-ever College Football Playoff.

Speaking of the playoffs, Ohio State entered this weekend's prime-time matchup ranked 14th, with the committee maintaining that the Buckeyes' resume was still lacking a quality win. Their showcase against the eighth-ranked Spartans certainly changed that, virtually locking up an appearance in this season's Big Ten Championship Game in the process.

Meanwhile, the seas seem to also be parting ahead of Ohio State, with three teams ranked ahead of the Buckeyes all suffering their second defeats of the season on Saturday. Assuming Ohio State swaps spots with the Spartans, that should put it on the fringe of the all-important first four and in as good of shape as almost anyone heading into the homestretch of the season.

Because while the Buckeyes may lack the perceived sexy wins that are being earned in the SEC West and perhaps the Pac-12, Ohio State will always be able to point to what it did on Saturday when debating its worthiness in the playoff discussion.

And if that discussion is about who the four best teams in the country are at this point in the season, then that's one that the Buckeyes certainly belong in, evidenced by Saturday's double-digit victory.

"I'm glad everybody got to see this game," Meyer said. "This team is playing at a very, very high level."

Other quality opponents may lack, save for the likely Big Ten title game that Ohio State will play in, and the Buckeyes' Sept. 6 loss to now-4-5 Virginia Tech still remains somewhat of a scarlet letter on OSU's resume.

But in the span of two months, Barrett has transformed from overwhelmed freshman to one of the best signal-callers in the country, setting the pace for an offense that just racked up 568 yards against Michigan State's fifth-ranked defense.

"Boy, is he playing well," Meyer said of his freshman quarterback.

Add in weapons such as Ezekiel Elliott, Devin Smith and Jalin Marshall, as well as an emerging offensive line that set the tone against the Spartans, and it's clear that offensively, this Buckeyes team can play with anyone else on the country.

Defensively, questions still loom, especially after giving up 137 yards to MSU running back Jeremy Langford, but the unit has proven improved from a year ago and capable of coming up with a big play when it has had to.

Add it all up and this Buckeyes squad has all of the makings of a legitimate playoff contender at this point in the season. That's certainly the belief of its head coach as well, who knows that Ohio State has plenty to be playing for in these next four weeks.

"I think it is," Meyer said when asked if he believes the Buckeyes are a playoff team. "If I have to go fight for this team, I will."

With the way Ohio State played on Saturday, that might not take much effort.

 

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 statistics courtesy of cfbstats.com and recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.

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Alabama vs. LSU: Score and Twitter Reaction

Alabama snatched victory from the jaws of defeat, tying the game with seconds remaining in regulation before pulling out a 20-13 win in overtime over LSU on Saturday night in Baton Rouge.

NOLA.com's Jim Kleinpeter had Les Miles' thoughts on the tough loss after the game:

The game was very reminiscent of the 9-6 defensive struggle from 2011, where points came at a premium and neither team's offense got into any sort of groove. The Tigers and Crimson Tide combined to amass just 574 yards of total offense.

As the clock ticked down in the fourth quarter and the score remain deadlocked at 10-10, one team would have to make something crazy happen in order to break through. And that's exactly what the Tigers did with a little over a minute left to play.

Alabama running back T.J. Yeldon fumbled the ball on his own 6-yard line, giving LSU plenty of time to notch the go-ahead score.

Yeldon left the game after the fumble, and Bleacher Report's Matt Miller pointed out it was a pre-existing injury that was aggravated on the play.

On Wednesday, Alabama head coach Nick Saban said that the junior running back "will play for sure," per Michael Casagrande of AL.com. Saban could only remark after the game that Yeldon had a "twisted ankle," per CBSSports.com's Jon Solomon:

Yeldon's injury became a factor on that play, as an LSU defender was twisting his foot prior to the fumble.

Although an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty moved LSU 15 yards back, Colby Delahoussaye put the Tigers ahead with a 39-yard field goal.

But just as LSU grabbed a ton of momentum, it handed it right back after Trent Domingue's kickoff went out of bounds. That gave Alabama the ball all the way up to their 35-yard line, and the Crimson Tide needed only a couple of first downs to get into field-goal position.

Saban called a perfect drive with plenty of quick outs and slants that helped 'Bama reach the LSU 10-yard line. From there, Adam Griffith, who missed a field goal earlier in the game, tied the score with three seconds remaining.

Alabama had possession to start overtime, and Blake Sims hit wide receiver DeAndrew White from six yards out for the go-ahead touchdown.

LSU head coach Les Miles opened himself up for criticism with his play-calling on the final drive of the game. The Tigers ran four passing plays, and Anthony Jennings' last-gasp heave into the end zone for Malachi Dupre was knocked away.

Yahoo Sports' Pat Forde questioned why LSU didn't rely on its far better run game:

The Tigers had almost no success through the air the entire night. Jennings finished 8-of-26 for 76 yards, one touchdown and an interception. Compare that to the run game, which went for 183 yards on 56 carries. Leonard Fournette wasn't great, but he helped push the ball forward with 79 yards on the ground.

LSU only kept it close because of how well its defense stifled the high-powered Crimson Tide offense. Sims could only manage 209 yards through the air, while Amari Cooper was largely silent in the second half, finishing with eight receptions for 83 yards and a touchdown.

Neither Yeldon nor Derrick Henry had much going when running the ball, as the Crimson Tide duo combined for 92 yards.

A low-scoring affair favored the Tigers, and they probably should've won the game in regulation. Instead, they shot themselves in the foot and blew what was a strong first-quarter and second-half performance.

LSU took a 7-0 lead in the first frame after a 14-yard touchdown pass from Jennings to Dupre, which was one of Jennings' two completions in the entire first half. The sophomore quarterback has come under fire quite a bit for his poor performance, but his pass to Dupre was right on the money.

Jeff Duncan of The Times-Picayune felt that Jennings couldn't have placed his throw any better:

The Tigers couldn't build on their lead, though. In addition to Jennings' struggles through the air, the trio of Fournette, Terrence Magee and Kenny Hilliard only gained 122 yards on a whopping 38 carries.

The Alabama offense didn't fare much better early on, as a stout LSU defense stymied the Crimson Tide at every opportunity through the first quarter. And the first time the Tide got into scoring position, Griffith left points on the board with a missed field goal from 27 yards out.

SEC on CBS captured a snapshot of the ball hitting the upright before bouncing harmlessly to the ground:

Alabama doesn't have many flaws, but Glenn Guilbeau of USA Today highlighted what's been an ongoing issue for the team this year:

Slowly but surely, however, the Crimson Tide exerted more and more authority on the proceedings.

Cooper tied the game through a 23-yard touchdown pass with 5:40 to go until halftime. The Heisman Trophy candidate turned a simple route over the middle into an adventure (via CBS Sports):

With the TD, 'Bama improved its first-half scoring streak to 98 games, which is the longest in the country, per the SEC Network:

Griffith then redeemed himself as the second quarter neared its conclusion, connecting with a 39-yard field goal to put Alabama ahead 10-7.

The Alabama offense wasn't quite a one-man show in the first half, but Cooper was a big reason the visitors found themselves in the lead. He accounted for 72 of the Tide's 110 passing yards, while Yeldon and Henry combined for 62 yards on 14 carries.

Cooper's 72 yards were also enough to pass D.J. Hall in the Alabama record books for most career receiving yards:

Alabama's advantage was short-lived, however, as LSU tied the game at 10-10 with a 35-yard field goal from Delahoussaye on the opening drive of the second half with what would be the only score until the final minute of the game.

Miles and the Tigers will rue this missed opportunity. They only had a very long shot at the playoff, but beating 'Bama would've been something to build upon heading into next year.

LSU gets what will be a tricky game against Arkansas next week and wraps up the regular season against a newly rejuvenated Texas A&M team.

Alabama has little time to rest on its laurels. The Crimson Tide welcome in the top-ranked Mississippi State Bulldogs next Saturday in a game that will in all likelihood determine the winner of the SEC West. They'll of course close the regular season with the Iron Bowl.

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Winners and Losers from Week 11 of College Football

The biggest college football weekend of the year had a few surprising results, which is just the way fans should like it. 

Unless you're a fan of Auburn. In that case, perhaps it's best to bypass this list altogether. 

Week 11 has had no shortage of drama, from Texas A&M's upset over Auburn to Alabama surviving LSU in overtime. On the other hand, Ohio State, Baylor, TCU and Oregon had statement blowouts over quality opponents. 

This weekend's results will definitely have major implications for the College Football Playoff rankings. Auburn may have lost its way out of a playoff spot, while Arizona State showed it has a legitimate case for one by winning against Notre Dame. But most of all, it's weekends like this one that make the college game so much fun.

Which teams and players came out as winners? Which ones didn't?

Begin Slideshow

Ohio State vs. Michigan State: Score and Twitter Reaction

No. 14 Ohio State paid no attention to No. 8 Michigan State and the reputation of it's sterling defense, putting in a strong, prolific effort on offense en route to a 49-37 Big Ten victory at Spartans Stadium.

Yes, Ohio State put up 568 total yards of offense against a team that had allowed just 279.4 per game coming into Saturday's showdown. Redshirt freshman quarterback J.T. Barrett was the main source of offense, throwing for 300 yards and three touchdowns while picking up 86 yards and two more scores on the ground.

Running back Jeremy Langford starred for Michigan State in the losing effort, carrying the ball 18 times for 137 yards and three touchdowns..

Here is a look at the quarter-by-quarter score from the game.

Michigan State drew first blood in the contest, Following a missed Ohio State field goal, quarterback Connor Cook hit wideout Keith Mumphery on a 44-yard bomb that put the Spartans in the red zone. Three plays later, Cook again found Mumphery for a 15-yard score and an early 7-0 lead.

Ohio State came right back with a touchdown of it's own. Running back Ezekiel Elliott broke off a 47-yard run which set up Barrett for a five-yard scoring carry of his own to tie the game at seven points apiece.

Langford, who would be instrumental to the Spartans' success on offense, returned the lead to the Spartans on a dazzling 33-yard run late in the first quarter. Big Ten Network's Tom Dienhart noted Langford was hot coming into Saturday's contest:

The same couldn't necessarily be said for Cook, who struggled to complete passes with any regularity during the game. CBS Sports' Dane Brugler did note coming into the game that Cook is a big NFL prospect, although few plays from this game will end up on any demo reel: 

After a trade of punts, Ohio State tied the game early in the second quarter on a one-yard run from Barrett. Chicago Tribune's Teddy Greenstein noted his powerful running on the play:

Langford notched his second scoring run of the day to put the Spartans back in front 21-14 and the Spartans had a golden opportunity to go even further ahead when Ohio State's Dontre Wilson fumbled the ensuing kickoff, but Michael Geiger missed a 39-yard field goal.

Barrett made the Spartans pay for this minor transgression. Ohio State Buckeyes' relays the instant offense conjured up by Barrett:

No Buckeye fan was going to forget Braxton Miller, but Barrett did his best to at least make them impatient for the future of this program under his helm. He hit Devin Smith in stride 44 yards downfield to give the Buckeyes their first lead of the ballgame at 28-21.

ESPN's Kevin Weidl gave his take on Smith's future prospects in the NFL:

Geiger atoned for his earlier sins with a 40-yard field goal midway through the third quarter. Cook's lack of accuracy and Ohio State's composed defensive performance limited the Spartans opportunities, although the game would open up a bit in the fourth quarter.

Six minutes later, Ohio State went up 35-24 after a one-yard run from Elliott capped off a 13-play, 67-yard drive. Simply put, the Buckeyes were playing mistake-free football and having their way with the Spartans. ESPN Big Ten was shocked by the Buckeyes' efficiency.

Spartans coach Mark Dantonio, sensing his team was running out of opportunities, decided to go for it on 4th-and-5 right at the death of the third quarter, but Ohio State snuffed out the reverse and the Spartans turned the ball over on downs, still facing an 11-point deficit.

The Buckeyes would capitalize on the change of possession with Barrett notching his third touchdown pass of the day with just over 12 minutes to go in the fourth quarter to put his team up 42-24.

Michigan State kept fighting despite the dwindling prospects. Cook hit Josiah Price for a touchdown three minutes after Barrett's score, but Ohio State covered 78 yards on four plays on their next drive, which ended in a 17-yard scoring run from Elliot. FoxSportsOhio.com's Zac Jackson liked the way Elliott, and Barrett, finished off their runs:

Langford would notch a consolation touchdown for the Spartans with five minutes left in the game, and the Buckeyes held on to win by a final score of 49-37.

The future of Ohio State's program looks to be completely secure with Barrett running the show. The freshman has plenty of time to learn and grown under head coach Urban Meyer, and should be able to keep this team in Big Ten contention for the remainder of his time with the program.

The Spartans' dim College Football Playoff hopes are done for after this loss. They have very winnable games against Maryland, Rutgers and Penn State in the final three weeks of the regular season, and should be able to close out the season on a high note.

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Watch TCU QB Trevone Boykin Do Full Flip into End Zone for TD

TCU QB Trevone Boykin didn't want to go around the defense, and he didn't want to go under them; Boykin decided to go airborne against the Kansas State defense to score one of Saturday's most exciting touchdowns.

Can Trevone Boykin be a Heisman finalist?

Watch the video and let us know!

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Florida vs. Vanderbilt: Game Grades, Analysis for the Gators

The Florida Gators picked up their second consecutive SEC win with a 34-10 win over the Vanderbilt Commodores in Nashville on Saturday.

Behind quarterback Treon Harris, the Gators ran for 214 yards, while Harris had 215 yards through the air.

Florida's defense was outstanding, too. After a first quarter that saw Vanderbilt have one very good drive, that was about it for the Commodores. Two Ralph Webb fumbles led to 10 points for the Gators, and that proved to be too much for Vanderbilt to overcome.

Florida improves to 5-3 (4-3) on the season and hosts South Carolina next week. The Gators still have an outside shot of winning the SEC East, but they need Missouri to lose out. The Tigers have consecutive road games against Texas A&M and Tennessee, before finishing up with Arkansas.

Here is a look at how Florida graded out in its win over Vanderbilt.

 

Florida Gators Grade Analysis

Pass Offense: Harris was terrific. He involved little-used receivers Ahmad Fulwood and Chris Thompson in the offense. He made two big plays downfield and took several more shots. He showed patience and did not turn the ball over.

Run Offense: It wasn't like last week when the Gators ran for over 400 yards, but it was an efficient performance. As a team, Florida ran for over 200 yards, and Kelvin Taylor and Matt Jones were both solid. Harris had two terrific touchdown runs himself.

Pass Defense: Vanderbilt had one good drive throwing the football, and that was about it. Florida got pressure on Vandy all night and picked off two passes.

Run Defense: The Gators struggled against the run in the first quarter when Webb gashed them, but after his two fumbles, the Commodores couldn't run again. Both of Webb's fumbles were forced by Florida defenders. 

Special Teams: No big mistakes and Florida hit both of its field goals. Punter Kyle Christy had another strong night averaging 48 yards per punt. Florida also stopped Vandy's return game.

Coaching: Florida had a good plan on both sides of the ball. After the Gators saw how Vandy would attack them offensively, they adjusted, and the Commodores never threatened them again. Offensive play-calling was terrific.

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Leon Orr Dismissed by Florida After Leaving Game Due to Backup Role

Florida defensive tackle seems to have had an abrupt end to his career with the Gators.

The senior had started just two games this season but was  apparently expecting to be in the lineup Florida's game against Vanderbilt. However, head coach Will Muschamp opted to go with Jonathan Bullard on the defensive line instead. 

According to GatorZone.com, the player decided to leave the game and take a bus back to Gainesville instead of playing in a reserve role. Muschamp explained, "He was more concerned with starting than being part of the team."

ESPN's Jeff Barlis later reported Orr would no longer be part of the team:

Orr came into the year with high expectations, ranking among the top 10 defensive tackles in the SEC according to ESPN's Chris Low. Unfortunately, he was never able to take advantage of his role with the team and managed just 16 tackles (three solo) while playing sparingly.

It is not yet known where Orr will go from here, but there will not likely be too many coaches interested in the player after this incident.

 

Follow Rob Goldberg on Twitter for the latest breaking news and analysis.

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Ifo Ekpre-Olomu Injury: Updates on Oregon Star's Foot and Return

The Oregon Ducks defense may have taken a major blow in Saturday's game vs. Utah as star cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu suffered an injury to his left foot.

Steve Mims of the The Register Guard had the report:

Andrew Greif of The Oregonian had more after the game:

Ekpre-Olomu is a two-time All-Pac-12 cornerback and one of the best individual defenders in the entire country. His fourth-quarter interception in the Ducks’ critical nonconference victory over Michigan State helped seal one of the most important games of the 2014 season.

The hope now is that this latest injury doesn’t change that designation.

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T.J. Yeldon Injury: Updates on Alabama Star's Ankle and Return

For the time being, Alabama has lost the most productive piece of its three-headed running back monster. Explosive junior T.J. Yeldon was forced from Saturday's contest against LSU after suffering an apparent ankle injury on a fumble late in the fourth quarter.

Yahoo Sports' Dr. Saturday had the report:

CBS' Jon Solomon had an update after the game:

While many teams across the country would be crippled by losing a player of this quality, Alabama's depth at the position is unbelievable. Sophomore Derrick Henry and junior Kenyan Drake would be starting for most programs, and they are undoubtedly capable of stepping into a bigger role for as long as Yeldon remains out. 

 

 

 

 

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LSU Player Pulls Down Pants of Alabama Opponent on National TV

Be warned: The Vine below contains some naked booty, and it's quite hilarious.

The No. 16 LSU Tigers were in a close battle vs. the No. 5 Alabama Crimson Tide on Saturday night, and when Tigers tight end Logan Stokes saw an opportunity to gain a mental advantage, he took it.

Stokes pulled down the pants of Alabama linebacker Reggie Ragland, who looked rather perturbed. He'll likely be hearing from his coach about that one in the film room.

[Vine]

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UCLA Football: Bruins Offense Clicking at the Right Time as Postseason Looms

The UCLA that college football pundits projected to compete for a berth in the College Football Playoff made an appearance in the 18th-ranked Bruins’ 44-30 defeat of Washington on Saturday.

In particular, the UCLA offense found its rhythm, making good on running back Paul Perkins' prediction after last week's defeat of Arizona.

Perkins said he sensed the Bruins were "on the verge of something great," and the result at Husky Stadium was UCLA's highest offensive output since hanging 62 points on Arizona State in September.    

The emergence of UCLA's offense fittingly started with quarterback Brett Hundley, who looked more like the preseason Heisman Trophy candidate than at any other time this season.

He accounted for 320 total yards and scored four touchdowns, operating behind an offensive line that played one of its better games. The UCLA front helped keep Washington's second-ranked sack-generating defense away from Hundley, taking advantage of linebacker Hau'oli Kikaha's absence for much of the night to allow just one sack.

A confident Hundley completed 29 of 36 pass attempts, improving upon his impressive season-long average of 71 percent coming into Saturday's affair, per CFBStats.com

Hundley's ability to get the ball out quickly to a variety of receivers—10 Bruins caught passes—gave the UCLA offense a fluidity it needs to finish strong in its two remaining games.

Protecting Hundley has been one of the more vexing issues for UCLA on the campaign. Another is penalty yardage. The Bruins addressed penalties Saturday along with their improved blocking, drawing just four flags for 37 yards.

No longer facing downs of more than 10 yards due to penalties, offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone has more options in his playbook. And there's no doubt UCLA is most effective when it's multifaceted.

That was reflected in how the Bruins scored their five touchdowns. Hundley rushed for two and found Kenneth Walker and Mossi Johnson for one each with the pass.

The fifth came from Myles Jack, whose highlight-reel scoring rush stole the spotlight from two-way counterpart Shaq Thompson.

The Bruins haven't needed Jack to be the ball-carrier he was late last season, but having him as a complement to Perkins, Jordon James and Nathan Starks in the backfield only makes UCLA more dangerous.

And when the Bruins are not getting in the end zone, having kicker Ka'imi Fairbairn connecting is vital.

Fairbairn went 3 of 3 on his field-goal attempts, most notably hitting a 44-yarder that salvaged a fourth-quarter drive nearly stalled by a questionable offensive pass interference call.

Much like the sacks surrendered and penalty yards accrued in past games, missed field goals plagued the Bruins in past weeks.

Head coach Jim Mora said, "We've got to figure out how to put the ball through the uprights when we get in scoring position," after Fairbairn missed a 41-yard attempt on Oct. 11 against Oregon.

With that problem seemingly resolved, UCLA is one facet closer to reaching its full potential for the season's final push.

Better late than never.  

 

Quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise cited. Statistics via UCLABruins.com.

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UCLA Football: Bruins Offense Clicking at the Right Time as Postseason Looms

The UCLA that college football pundits projected to compete for a berth in the College Football Playoff made an appearance in the 18th-ranked Bruins’ 44-30 defeat of Washington on Saturday...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

Kansas State vs. TCU: How Horned Frogs Win Reshapes Playoff Picture

Led by the freewheeling exploits of star quarterback Trevone Boykin, TCU notched an important 41-20 victory over Big 12 rival Kansas State on Saturday. The win leaves both teams with 5-1 conference records and keeps the Horned Frogs' College Football Playoff hopes alive.

If nothing else, this season has proven the Horned Frogs belong in the Big 12. Head coach Gary Patterson said prior to the Kansas State game that this team is prepared for bigger and better things.

“Obviously proved to all of those people that said TCU couldn’t win in the Big 12,” he said, via Mac Engel of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "There is still a lot of work to do. We are just touching the iceberg. I told you guys that — 'bout like when I told you someday we'd go to a BCS bowl. You kinda looked at me strange."

As the Big 12 is one of the better conferences in the nation, this bodes well for TCU's chances should it win out. This is a highly likely proposition, as the Horned Frogs' last three opponents—Texas, Kansas and Iowa State—have a combined 10-18 record this season.

The lack of a Big 12 title game could work against the Horned Frogs. It prevents them from another chance to prove their worth as one of the best teams in college football. On the other hand, winning the Big 12 title outright or on tiebreakers and getting a week off preserves their win-loss record, and other teams from the major conferences could slip up and push them through.

TCU's only loss on the season was a 61-58 thriller against Baylor, who is also 5-1 in Big 12 play. The Bears do own the head-to-head tiebreaker over TCU, which means the Horned Frogs will be hoping that Kansas State can come through and beat Baylor on Dec. 6. 

There is a chance the Horned Frogs could move into the College Football Playoff spot without necessarily winning the Big 12 title. TCU was ranked sixth in the College Football Playoff rankings coming into this week, while Baylor was 12th. 

Having the No. 1 scoring offense in the nation lends a certain amount of prestige, but the College Football Playoff committee will be inclined to go with title winners. TCU's schedule is nothing to sneeze at either, as they've gone 4-1 against ranked opponents this season.

Grantland's Matt Hinton noted it will be a tough call between these two teams:

Assuming Baylor slips up, the Horned Frogs should get the final playoff spot alongside Florida State, Oregon (if it wins the Pac-12) and whichever team makes it out of the SEC West alive—which looks to be the Mississippi State Bulldogs at this point.

It's highly unlikely that two SEC teams will make the CFP after Auburn's loss to Texas A&M. However, Alabama is still a possibility to make the cut if it wins the SEC title and the Bulldogs' only loss on the season comes against the Crimson Tide.

Ohio State is still lurking and looks to be in control of the Big Ten, but the sullied reputation of the conference leaves them without any bona fide signature wins on the season.

TCU is still in the playoff hunt with the win, but it might not control its own destiny with so many other worthy one-loss teams from across the nation.

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Watch UCLA's Myles Jack Embarrass Defenders with Nasty Stiff-Arm and Spin Move

Myles Jack decided that stiff-arming a defender to the ground wasn't enough; he had to embarrass the defense further with an elusive spin move on his way to the end zone. UCLA takes down Washington with a score of 44-30. 

Was this the best run of the day?

Watch the video and let us know! 

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Watch UCLA's Myles Jack Embarrass Defenders with Nasty Stiff-Arm and Spin Move

Myles Jack decided that stiff-arming a defender to the ground wasn't enough; he had to embarrass the defense further with an elusive spin move on his way to the end zone. UCLA takes down Washington with a score of 44-30...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

Utah Player Drops Ball Before Goal Line in Celebration, Ducks Take It 100 Yards

Oh no, he didn't just do that, did he? He didn't actually pull the DeSean Jackson, right? Just who scored the touchdown—Utes or Ducks?!

Early in the second quarter of the Utah-Oregon battle on Saturday night, Utah wide receiver Kaelin Clay beat the coverage for a long touchdown. He released the ball in celebration...quite short of the goal line. He rejoiced. His team celebrated. 

Oregon picked up the fumble.

Yes, there was a period of time in which both teams were celebrating, 100 yards apart. Fans and announcers tried to figure out what had happened.

Both Utah and Oregon think they scored a TD 100 yards apart.

— David Lombardi (@LombardiESPN) November 9, 2014

The replays showed the answer quite clearly:

As brutal as it gets: Utah's Kaelin Clay clearly drops ball before scoring, Oregon picks it up and runs it back. https://t.co/vR9JUNnVkj

— Teddy Mitrosilis (@TMitrosilis) November 9, 2014

Oregon just got burned for a TD, and scored? Best offense a heads-up defense? review coming.

— John Canzano (@johncanzanobft) November 9, 2014

Touchdown, Oregon.

[SB Nation, Twitter]

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Kansas State vs. TCU: Score and Twitter Reaction

TCU continued its impressive season with a dominant 41-20 win over Kansas State in a matchup of top-10 teams.

Aaron Green—filling in at running back for the injured B.J. Catalon—was outstanding throughout the game, finishing with 171 rushing yards  on 18 carries and a touchdown. Trevone Boykin continued his Heisman campaign with 219 passing yards, 123 rushing yards and four total touchdowns.

Tyler Lockett was one of the few bright spots for Kansas State, totaling 11 catches for 196 receiving yards and a score in the loss. Unfortunately, the rest of the team struggled to do anything offensively in an otherwise disappointing day.

Stewart Mandel of Sports Illustrated noted the effect this game could have on the college football landscape: 

TCU came out hot and did a great job moving the football in the first quarter, getting two quick touchdowns to go up 14-0 in a dominant start, as described by Pat Forde of Yahoo Sports:

Bryan Fischer of NFL.com was impressed in Boykin's passing ability shown in the early going:

Kansas State was finally able to answer, however, with Jake Waters throwing a beautiful 70-yard touchdown pass to Lockett. David Ubben of Fox Sports Southwest described both sides of the play that cut the lead to 14-7:

Still, that play pretty much represented the only offense in the first half for the Wildcats. Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports broke down how well the TCU defense performed early on:

The Horned Frogs added a field goal in the second quarter to take a 17-7 lead into halftime.

At the start of the second half, Boykin again showed what he was capable of by leading a 60-yard drive that ended with him doing a flip into the end zone for the score, as captured by Jarrett Payton:

Brent Yarina of BTN.com noted what the play could mean for the talented player:

Kansas State was able to answer with a solid drive of its own as Waters found Curry Sexton in the end zone for a touchdown to cut the lead to 24-14.

This did not last long though as Green was able to answer back with a 65-yard touchdown run for TCU, a play that impressed Newy Scruggs of NBC Sports Radio:

A field goal at the start of the fourth quarter put the Horned Frogs up 34-14 as they proved to simply be too much for Kansas State.

After another Boykin rushing touchdown in the fourth quarter extended the lead to 41-14, Wildcats backup quarterback Joe Hubener put one in to cut the lead to the eventual final of 41-20.

There was a lot of hype surrounding a game with two elite teams and a lot on the line. However, TCU head coach Gary Patterson did not want to create any bulletin board material. 

"We talk with our pads,’’ Patterson said earlier in the week, via Gerry Fraley of The Dallas Morning News. “That’s the way good programs do it. We don’t need to go the other way. We need to understand there are things that go along with what we’re given.’’

This ended up being an excellent strategy as the team focused on the task at hand and pulled out an easy win against a very good opponent.

With the victory, TCU now puts itself in good position to play its way into the College Football Playoff if it can keep winning. The one-loss squad now has another marquee win on the resume and should keep moving up in the rankings while the SEC schools keep beating each other up.

On the other hand, Kansas State is likely eliminated from title contention with a second loss on the year. This could still end up being a great year based on the preseason expectations, but the players and fans have to be disappointed knowing there could have been much more.

The Horned Frogs will have a relatively easy road match against Kansas next Saturday, followed by games at Texas and then home against Iowa State. The Wildcats will have a week off before facing West Virginia on the road on Nov. 20. A home game against Kansas and a trip to Baylor also loom on the schedule.

What happens in each of these games will end up deciding which team takes home the Big 12 title.

 

Follow Rob Goldberg on Twitter for the latest breaking news and analysis.

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