NCAA Football

College Football Rankings Week 13: B/R's Official Top 25

Mississippi State, look what you've gone and done.

By falling at Alabama on Saturday, the Bulldogs have assured that there will be a new No. 1 in pretty much every poll of significance. But who, exactly, will take over that top spot in rankings such as the one by the College Football Playoff selection committee?

Maybe you can get a good idea by checking out our latest rankings, fresh out of the oven to warm you after a frigid Saturday of college football action.

The Bleacher Report Top 25 is voted on by 20 members of Bleacher Report's college football team: writers Keith Arnold, Ben Axelrod, Phil Callihan, Michael Felder, Justin Ferguson, Andrew Hall, Kyle Kensing, David Kenyon, Ben Kercheval, Adam Kramer, Brian Leigh, Brian Pedersen, Barrett Sallee, Brad Shepard, Erin Sorensen, Marc Torrence and Greg Wallace, as well as editors Eric Bowman, Hunter Mandel and Max Rausch.

Each voter submits their ballots based on observations made during the just-completed week's games. Teams receive 25 points for a first-place vote, all the way down to one point for being ranked 25th, and then the top 25 vote-getters are ranked in order of their point totals.

Check out Bleacher Report's Week 13 poll, then give us your thoughts in the comments section.

Begin Slideshow

ASU vs. Oregon State: Score and Twitter Reaction

Arizona State's chances of making the college football playoff died in Corvallis, Oregon, on Saturday night. The No. 6 Sun Devils lost 35-27 to the Oregon State Beavers, thus shutting the door on any top-four finish in 2014.

Down a point, 28-27, late in the fourth quarter, ASU was driving for  the potential game-winning score. With all three timeouts and a little under three minutes to play, the Sun Devils had more than enough time to get within field-goal position.

On the fifth play of the fateful drive, Oregon State linebacker Michael Doctor intercepted a Taylor Kelly pass and returned it 35 yards for the touchdown, giving the Beavers a 35-27 lead with only 1:38 remaining.

Grantland's Matt Hinton wonders if Doctor would've been better off running around and killing seconds off the clock rather than picking up the quick score:

As CBSSports.com's Tom Fornelli highlighted, the Sun Devils were still within a score of tying the game:

In the end, it didn't matter. Beavers linebacker sacked Kelly on a 4th-and-2 on the next drive, giving the ball to Oregon State to end the game.

Kelly had his worst performance of the season, throwing for 264 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. He completed just 50 percent (22-of-44) of his passes. Jaelen Strong did his best to help out his quarterback, catching nine passes for 103 yards, but he looked to be hobbled late in the game.

While Kelly's interception proved pivotal, Arizona State's loss won't be traced back to the offense.

Earlier in the season, defense was a major issue for ASU. After making some improvement on that side of the ball in wins over Stanford, Washington and Utah, those issues reared their ugly head on Saturday night.

The Sun Devils had no answer for the Storm Woods and Terron Ward, who combined to gain 273 yards on the ground. Together, they averaged nearly a first down (9.1 yards) every time they touched the ball.

This is the first time OSU upset a top-10 team in Corvallis since 2008, per ESPN Stats & Info:

According to ESPN.com's Brett Edgerton, five top-10 teams have lost at Oregon State this millennium:

Oregon State didn't have any sort of early game jitters, quickly jumping out to a 14-3 lead in the first quarter courtesy of rushing touchdowns from Woods and Ward. Both players broke out for big runs, with the former going 78 yards and the latter scampering 66 yards.

A 17-yard touchdown run from Kelly to D.J. Foster got ASU to within four points, 14-10, with 1:13 left in the first.

The Sun Devils dominated the second quarter, adding two more touchdowns to take a 24-14 lead going into halftime. Kelly was responsible for the first score, hitting tight end Kody Kohl for a 46-yard touchdown pass. ASU linebacker Antonio Longino picking up a fumble and returning it 36 yards to the house:

Pac-12 referees have built a rather poor reputation over the years, and they didn't cover themselves in glory on Longino's fumble return, per NFL.com's Bryan Fischer:

Arizona State should've had a 27-14 lead, but Zane Gonzalez missed a 30-yard field goal 1:23 from the half. Still, having any sort of lead was good news. The Sun Devils came in unbeaten when leading at halftime under Todd Graham, per ASUDevils.com:

Despite giving up 21 unanswered points, Oregon State didn't wilt. The Beavers recovered in the third quarter, keeping ASU out of the end zone. Sean Mannion and Victor Bolden connected for a 20-yard touchdown pass, closing the deficit to three points, 24-21.

Gonzalez corrected his earlier mistake, hitting a 29-yard field goal to help Arizona State maintain a 27-21 lead in the fourth quarter.

But the Beavers got yet another big play, with Mannion hitting Jordan Villamin with a go-ahead 67-yard touchdown with 10:55 to play:

Arizona State failed to move the ball for much of the last 10 minutes, with Kelly's interception a dagger in the Sun Devils' comeback attempt.

With the defeat, ASU falls into a three-way tie for second in the Pac-12 South. USC has a half-game lead at 6-2.

Even in the event the Sun Devils win the division and beat Oregon in the conference championship game, the selection committee won't send a two-loss Arizona State into the playoff. As quickly as ASU rose up the standings, it will fall equally as fast.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

College Football Playoff Rankings: Biggest Takeaways from Week 12

The committee and the polls all had undefeated Mississippi State ranked No. 1 coming into the weekend. But as usual, Las Vegas knew better, as Alabama was a solid favorite entering Saturday's showdown with the Bulldogs.

The Crimson Tide played like it, going wire-to-wire in a 25-20 victory that really wasn't that close. But strangely, when the committee's rankings come out on Tuesday, the Bulldogs will be the only team in its Top 25 that Alabama has beaten. Because of that, Oregon likely will be the new No. 1 team.

Who's No. 1 or No. 2 in reality does not matter much. Since Florida State will remain No. 3 after another close escape, all eyes once again will be on the final playoff spot. TCU had its issues before beating Kansas, but that probably will be enough to keep it at No. 4, with Ohio State and Baylor very much in the mix. Arizona State, stunned by Oregon State in another Pac-12 late show, is probably out of it.

In all, there are fewer than 10 teams still in contention for the four playoff spots:

Teams that moved up

Big 12

While there's a lot of talk about the SEC landing two teams in the playoff, the conference most likely to pull off that feat now is the Big 12. Precisely because it doesn't have a conference title game, the Big 12 can send both TCU and Baylor to the playoff as co-champions, each with an 11-1 record. It's still a long shot, but if a couple of upsets happen in the title games of the other conferences...you just never know.

SEC West

The two Mississippi teams are still alive for the SEC West title and therefore, a playoff berth. Mississippi State has a slim chance of making the four-team field with an 11-1 record and no division title. But with either Georgia (blown out by Florida) or Missouri (lost to Indiana) destined to win the SEC East, the conference could be left with no team in the playoff if the West winner is upset in the title game.

Florida State

The Noles somehow found a way to survive another close call and now it looks like they have clear sailing toward the playoff with their quest to repeat as national champions intact. Despite the weakness of the ACC and lacking any wins over a Top 25 team (in the upcoming rankings), FSU is now the only power-five team without a loss. It's in if it wins out.

 

Teams that moved down

Auburn

The Tigers' hopes of repeating as the SEC champion died between the hedges on Saturday. They cannot win the SEC West now and therefore have no shot of getting into the playoff. All Auburn has left is playing spoiler, as an upset victory in the Iron Bowl over Alabama likely will gift the division title to the winner of the Egg Bowl.

Ohio State

The Buckeyes are rolling toward the Big Ten East title, but their window of making the playoff is closing fast. They'll likely face a two-loss Wisconsin team in the Big Ten title game and aside from Michigan State, they will have not beaten a single ranked team. Ohio State needs a lot of help.

Committee's bottom rankings

Seven of the committee's 10 bottom-ranked teams (Nos. 16-25) lost and Utah needed overtime to avoid being the eighth. But the real question is why does the committee bother ranking 25 teams? Its job is to put four teams in the playoff and, to a lesser extent, pick the other eight teams for the New Year's Six bowls. What's the point of aping the polls?

 

Group-of-five team in the best position

Committee chairman Jeff Long mentioned five teams in contention for the access spot last week, but East Carolina lost again and Northern Illinois is really more of an afterthought. So it remains a three-team race and, with the bottom dropping out of the committee's last rankings, it'll finally have to tip its hand next Tuesday.

Marshall is now only one of two unbeaten FBS teams, having won every game by no fewer than 15 points and with an average margin of victory over 30 points. But the Herd's weak strength of schedule allows both Colorado State and Boise State to stay in contention, as the Broncos remain in control of the Mountain West race despite having one more loss because of their win over the Rams.

 

Projected conference championship matchups

ACC: Florida State vs. Duke

Big Ten: Ohio State vs. Wisconsin

Pac-12: Oregon vs. UCLA

SEC: Alabama vs. Georgia

 

Follow on Twitter @ThePlayoffGuru

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

NCAA Football Rankings 2014: Predicting the Top 25 After Week 12

Week 12 was a wild one. From the comeback that was stopped short of an onside kick between Mississippi State and Alabama and Ohio State's survival of a feisty Minnesota team to Florida State winning yet another thriller, this week is sure to shake up the polls

One thing is almost for certain: Week 13's AP Poll will feature a new No. 1 after the Bulldogs fell to the Tide.

Pollsters are always impossible to prognosticate, but here's our best crack at it.

Note: Rankings reflect a prediction of the Week 12 AP poll—not how the author would rank the teams himself. 

 

Biggest Risers

Wisconsin

Climbing on the back of Melvin Gordon, who set an FBS record with 408 rushing yards in a game, the Wisconsin Badgers thrashed the Nebraska Cornhuskers 59-24 and are projected to shoot up eight spots in the polls. 

In a game between No. 11 Nebraska and No. 22 Wisconsin by AP Poll standards, the Huskers are a big letdown, while Gordon and Co. have thrust their way into the national spotlight. The Badgers now control their own destiny to the Big Ten title game, where they'll likely have a shot to upend Ohio State.  

 

Georgia

The Georgia Bulldogs are that significant other that never goes away to the SEC. Saturday's 34-7 beatdown of Auburn just a few weeks removed from an upset loss to Florida has put Georgia in a place to contend with Missouri for the SEC East title. 

The Bulldogs' SEC slate is complete, while the Tigers still have two games left to play in the league, which include matchups with Tennessee and Arkansas, the latter of which just upended LSU.

Could Georgia play spoiler to the SEC in their hunt for two bids to the playoffs? It sure looks like it.  

 

Biggest Fallers

Nebraska

What in the world happened at Camp Randall? 

One of the best rush defenses in the country heading into Saturday, ranked 19th nationally, gave up 581 yards on the ground to the Wisconsin Badgers. Worse yet, they also lost 59-24, which should cause them to drop at least seven spots. 

Nebraska is also all but out of the hunt for the Big Ten title game, as they'd need to win out and have the Badgers lose out. All in all, it's another promising season that will ultimately end in disappointment for Bo Pelini and Co. 

 

Notre Dame

At just 3-6, nobody could've seen Northwestern upsetting Notre Dame. 

But they did, 43-40. In overtime. 

That's the beauty of the beast that is college football. Just three games ago, Notre Dame had projected No. 1 Florida State on the ropes, and now they're falling to a mediocre Big Ten squad. 

The biggest takeaway from this loss is that Notre Dame's bid for a prime-time bowl game just took a serious hit. 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

College Football Playoff Projections After Week 12

Week 12 has jumbled the College Football Playoff bracket to a place where it's nearly unrecognizable. Which four teams are in as things currently stand?

Bleacher Report College Football Analyst Adam Kramer gives his updated predictions after a wild weekend.

Who is in your top four? Watch the video and let us know!

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Florida State, the Teflon Kings of College Football, Look Like Team of Destiny

Until you cut off Florida State’s head, it is not dead. And even if you managed to somehow pull off this enormous feat, holding actual physical proof to the sky for the college football world to see, it wouldn’t seem real. Given the state of this team and its knack for living, dying and then living all over again, no zombie scenario should go unexplored. 

They did it again. Looking lifeless, hopeless and utterly out of sync against Miami on Saturday night, the Seminoles’ inched past their in-state rival with a second-half surge, winning by the final score of 30-26.

It was a tale of two halves, which should be a familiar blueprint by this point in the year. It’s in this team’s nature to make something so remarkably difficult look somehow natural—like it had been planned all along—which is why the comeback against the Hurricanes really wasn’t all that shocking. 

Even in the second quarter, when sensational 'Canes freshman quarterback Brad Kaaya hit Clive Walford on a 61-yard touchdown pass to give Miami a 23-7 lead, you didn’t panic, or in the case of many fans outside the city of Tallahassee, celebrate the development.

You took note of the damage being done, but instead of crowning the Hurricanes victorious with so much game to be played, you watched and waited. After all, you had seen it before. 

You waited because recent history told you to wait. This is what Florida State has become this season, an imperfect team far different from last year’s installment, still capable of pulling off the extraordinary with the flip of a switch. 

The switch was flipped, and the surge came from familiar faces and emerging stars. Quarterback Jameis Winston was outplayed statistically by his counterpart in this matchup, although he was again surgical when he needed to be. After looking mortal throughout the first 30 minutes, Winston put together a fabulous second half as the offense settled in. 

True-freshman running back Dalvin Cook flashed moments of brilliance yet again, running for 92 yards and two touchdowns on only seven carries. His 26-yard touchdown run with just over three minutes remaining in the fourth quarter proved to be the winning score.

Roberto Aguayo, the most dependable special teams weapon in the country, also played a role in securing the win. Aguayo made all three of his field goal tries on Saturday night, including a 53-yarder with less than eight minutes remaining. 

The defense also played a significant role, perhaps the most important of all. After giving up yards in bunches—especially in the middle of the field—the Seminoles’ defense allowed only three points after the intermission behind one of the more impressive individual performances of the season.

Jalen Ramsey was everywhere. The FSU defensive back blocked a PAT, broke up passes, forced a fumble and also delivered the clinching moment when he picked off Kaaya’s pass with less than a minute remaining.

Following the game, Ramsey made his stance on Florida State’s national standing clear as day.

FSU's Jalen Ramsey: “Until someone beats us, we’re the No. 1 team in America. We’re still the champs. And that's how it is.”

— Ira Schoffel (@IraSchoffel) November 16, 2014

Most will gladly disagree with this statement and present legitimate arguments to state their case. With Notre Dame’s loss to Northwestern in Week 12, the Seminoles lack a statement win.

And yet, with Mississippi State’s perfect season no more thanks to Alabama, the Seminoles are now the nation’s lone power-five team without a loss. It hasn’t been easy or pretty—a far different product than last year’s dominating weekly performances—but the end result, at least until this point, is undeniable.

They have done it through extraordinary comebacks, moments that won’t possibly be justified through statistical analysis. Three times this season Florida State has looked dead in the water; three times this season the final scoreboard told a different story entirely. 

With so much negativity swarming around the program—the latest development centering on a report from The New York Times regarding an alleged hit and run—it’s easy to see why Florida State has become enemy No. 1. Each time Florida State has fallen behind, the nation has rooted on the underdog seemingly in control. Each time, they have left disappointed, a little less surprised with every act of this football Houdini.

Regardless of where your rooting interests lie—or if you believe the Seminoles are as good as Jalen Ramsey proclaims—there’s something to be said about the way they have magically walked the tightrope late in games.

It is a beautiful brand of football in a sense that the unexpected has become the norm. Instead of simply bashing the defending champions for barely overcoming teams it is supposed to beat, we should be celebrating the incredible display of week-to-week survival.

It doesn’t mean they are the nation’s No. 1 team or that they’ll be able to sustain this uncomfortable pace when asked to step up and play elite competition. But in a year when dominant teams are absent from the conversation, Florida State—watered down product and all—is still in the driver’s seat for a College Football Playoff appearance. They have earned that, not through just a chain of good fortune but a slew of outstanding and meaningful performances in moments that matter.

As a result, the head is still intact; the body parts are fully functional. The Seminoles, having toyed with death time and time again are looking more immortal each and every week. 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Jalen Ramsey Takes His Turn as Florida State's Savior vs. Miami

Florida State cornerback Jalen Ramsey did a little bit of everything on Saturday night. He rushed the passer, he dropped back into coverage. He tackled and he broke up passes. He seemed to be exactly where he needed to be to make plays.

Ramsey forced a fumble on Miami's first play of the game and ended a dramatic night with an interception of Brad Kaaya at FSU's 16-yard line as No. 3 Florida State rallied from a 13-point deficit in the second half to win 30-26.

"I don't think either one was bigger," Ramsey said. "We needed both of them."

Those plays were the bookends to an exceptional night for Ramsey. The sophomore had three tackles, broke up four passes and blocked an extra-point attempt late in the first quarter. It turned out to be a big early play that turned the game late—had Miami made the extra point, the Hurricanes would have been trailing by just three points and could have set up the final drive for a game-tying field goal.

Instead, Kaaya was forced to throw and instead of a Miami receiver found Ramsey. It was fitting that Ramsey made the big play in the final seconds on a night when he was needed to be the savior.

"He was making plays everywhere," FSU coach Jimbo Fisher said. "His ability to play corner, play safety, tackle, blitz, he's a very unique player."

Fisher has recruited well the past few years, and he has plenty of unique players.

Quarterback Jameis Winston has often saved the day on offense this year, helping FSU rally from a 24-7 first-half deficit at North Carolina State by throwing for 365 yards and four touchdowns. Against Notre Dame, Winston led three second-half touchdown drives for the comeback. And at Louisville, he shook off three interceptions to guide FSU on five touchdown drives after halftime.

Winston has been invaluable on offense. On Saturday in Miami, however, FSU needed the defense to rise to the occasion. And Ramsey certainly did.

Ramsey has taken over at FSU's "star" cornerback position, filling the role that Lamarcus Joyner did in 2013. Joyner did it as well as anyone, becoming an All-American. Ramsey is beginning to play like an All-American, recording 60 tackles, 11 tackles for loss and two interceptions.

He is just one piece of a puzzle that is missing plenty of pieces from 2013. The Seminoles lost Joyner, safety Terrence Brooks and linebackers Telvin Smith and Christian Jones. Four key players of the defense but also four leaders. And when junior defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan opted to turn pro, it created a void in the middle of the line.

FSU's defense that gave up 12 points per game in 2013 has struggled, giving up 20 or more points in five straight games. But they made the timely adjustments against Miami, holding the Hurricanes to just a field goal in the second half.

The Seminoles have also adapted through plenty of injuries. Starting defensive tackle Nile Lawrence-Stample was lost for the season after three games with a torn pectoral. And FSU has also played games without players like Mario Edwards Jr., Derrick Mitchell, Terrance Smith and P.J. Williams.

But FSU has survived the close calls and is 10-0, the last FBS unbeaten team after Alabama defeated Mississippi State. The Seminoles have shown they can do little in the first half, but they go into the locker room at halftime and make all the right adjustments.

How will FSU do down the stretch? The Seminoles should win their last two regular-season games, both of them at home against Boston College and Florida. An ACC championship game awaits, potentially against Georgia Tech or Duke. 

If the Seminoles make it to the playoff, they won't have an SEC pedigree but will be a team that can win games on offense with Winston and the playmakers or with timely plays by rising defensive stars. And there may be no better kicker in the nation than 2013 Lou Groza Award winner Roberto Aguayo, who made three field goals (including a 53-yarder) on Saturday.

"Until someone beats us, we're the No. 1 team in America," Ramsey said. "We're still the champs. That's how it is."

 

Bob Ferrante is the FSU writer for Bleacher Report. All quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Follow him on Twitter. Stats courtesy of seminoles.com.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

LSU Football: Tigers' Woeful Performance vs. Arkansas the Worst in Les Miles Era

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark.—It's finally over. 

Arkansas' slow and steady beatdown of LSU was Chinese water torture for Tiger fans. The 17-0 scoreline is cringeworthy, as the Tigers were outplayed in every facet of the game.

And head coach Les Miles knows it. 

"We need to make some adjustments and fix us," said Miles after the game.

It was 1/9/12 all over again for the offense. The Tigers had not been shutout since that dreaded date of the 2012 BCS National Championship Game against Alabama. 

But this loss against Arkansas was far worse. The Tigers were dominated by a team that had not won an SEC game under Bret Bielema

Let that sink in. 

Bielema out-coached Miles. The Razorbacks won the time of possession battle and the line of scrimmage, both of which the Tigers had dominated in their last four games. 

The Tigers accumulated a season low 123 total yards. Sure, their vaunted offensive line suffered injuries to guard Vadal Alexander and center Elliott Porter. But that is no reason for them to have gotten bludgeoned that badly.

The Razorbacks consistently put pressure on Anthony Jennings, sacking him four times. Defensive end Trey Flowers said the unit felt they had an advantage up front heading into the game. 

"We knew coming into this game we were going to be able to attack the offensive line. They run block very well, but on the passing side of things we knew were going to be able to get after them," said Flowers. 

The run blocking was poor from the Tigers as well. LSU only had 36 yards rushing. Arkansas had two players eclipse that on their own. 

Jennings' receivers did not help, either, as they generated little separation against a mediocre Arkansas secondary. The Razorbacks entered Saturday as the second worst passing defense against SEC opposition.

The quarterback's 87 passing yards marks the second straight game he was held to under 90 yards passing. 

"I have to improve," said Jennings. "I need to see what I can do better to help this team."

The Tigers' defense fared better, holding Arkansas to only 264 total yards offensively. Yet those stats are deceiving. 

LSU could not get off the field on third down, as the Razorbacks were an efficient 10-of-17. Limited quarterback Brandon Allen was 6-of-11 on third down, with all six of his completions moving the chains.

Good defenses put up great statistics but great defenses make stops when it matters the most. The Tigers could not get off the field on third down. 

"It was frustrating," said LSU defensive tackle Christian LaCouture. "We just have to get better every week."

And then there was special teams. 

Arkansas had the second lowest amount of field-goal attempts and makes in the SEC entering Saturday. Adam McFain nailed a 32-yard strike to give the Razorbacks points on their opening drive. 

LSU kicker Colby Delahoussaye entered Saturday as the second best kicker in the SEC. But Delahoussaye withered in the cold, missing two field goals well within his range.

There was certainly hangover from last week's heartbreaking loss to Alabama. That, compounded by Arkansas coming off a bye week, equaled disaster for the Tigers. 

But there are only so many excuses the Tigers can make. This was the worst LSU performance under Miles ever. And it's really not even close. 

The previously mentioned Alabama goose egg in the BCS National Championship Game was somewhat understandable. It is hard to beat Nick Saban twice in the same season. Auburn and Mississippi State dominated the Tigers earlier this season, but those were two of the most prolific offenses in the country.

It would be a stretch to find a loss worse than this one in Miles' previous nine years. The 2008 season was horrendous but at least the Tigers scored points in each of their five losses. 

Miles said he will take the upcoming bye week to reevaluate his team before heading to College Station to take on Texas A&M. There could be a change at quarterback, where many fans are clamoring for true freshman Brandon Harris to replace Jennings. 

"He's (Harris) taking 50 percent of the snaps (in practice). He's developing very well," said Miles. 

Saturday was the first time Miles was shutout in the regular season while at LSU. It also cements the end of his streak of 10-win seasons. 

And it could not have been done in a more emphatic fashion. 

 

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

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

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Why Fans Should Have Seen Auburn's Late-Season Implosion Coming

ATHENS, Ga. —  An old, way-too-familiar feeling returned for Auburn and its fans Saturday night in Sanford Stadium.

Auburn's slim chances at a successful SEC title defense came to a devastating end with a 34-7 loss in Athens, a venue where the Tigers had lost in their previous three trips.

It was the third loss in five games for an Auburn team that opened the season with high hopes of returning to college football's biggest stage in the new playoff format.

"We have to be big boys," Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn said. "We got it handed to us tonight. That’s uncharacteristic of this team, and we have to bounce back."

While Auburn had not previously been "beaten in all three phases" in 2014 like it did Saturday night to the Bulldogs, fans should have seen a defeat like this one coming.

Since the Tigers' loss to Mississippi State in Starkville last month, a few disturbing trends became even more prevalent, even in Auburn's wins against South Carolina and Ole Miss.

These trends came to a head in Athens, and now Auburn must regroup and respond before this late-season slide turns a former national-title contender into an eight-win team.

 

Over-Reliance on the Offense

In the previously mentioned wins against South Carolina and Ole Miss, the Tigers scored 35 or more points and put up 500 or more yards of total offense as the defense continued to struggle.

Auburn had to overcome more defensive woes last weekend against Texas A&M, but two late fumbles on possible go-ahead touchdown drives doomed the Tigers to an ugly loss to the Aggies.

If the late miscues against Texas A&M was a crack in the wall, everything came crashing down against Georgia as Auburn was held to its worst performance of the Malzahn Era, per AL.com's Brandon Marcello:

The mistakes piled up for Auburn's offense, and the defense had to compensate in a major role reversal.

"It was just overall execution," tight end C.J. Uzomah said. "The defense did a good job in the first half. They did their part, but I felt overall, our execution wasn't up to our standard—Auburn football and what Coach Malzahn emphasizes."

The Tigers' mistakes on the offensive side of the ball put more pressure on a defense that had been the weak link.

"Don't get me wrong, Georgia is a really good team," offensive lineman Avery Young said. "They capitalized on all of our mistakes, but making those in a big type of game—it comes down to just inches. Everything has to be perfect. I don't care who you are or what team you are. Everything has to be done like you were taught to do it."

Auburn's recent streak of simply outscoring opponents turned out not to be a sustainable strategy, as one bad night on offense led to a blowout loss for a team that continued to struggle with missed assignments and poor execution.

 

More Missed Tackling

According to defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson, Auburn's missed tackles led to more than 100 yards of extra yardage for Texas A&M last weekend.

On Saturday night, a defense that usually struggled with tackling receivers struggled even more with tackling Georgia's dynamic rushing duo of freshman Nick Chubb and the returning Todd Gurley.

Auburn's defensive struggles reached a new low in rushing under Malzahn, according to the Montgomery Advertiser's James Crepea:

"[Chubb and Gurley] are great backs," cornerback Jonathan Jones said. "We knew we had to come in and tackle them—and gang-tackle them."

For linebacker Kris Frost, Auburn's struggles in bringing down Georgia's ball-carriers stemmed from a recent rise in the Tiger defense not playing on the same page.

"Most of our missed tackling is coming from overruns," Frost said. "I know for a fact that I had two overruns in this game. Really, I think tackling in our case is just playing with each other and knowing where you're leverage is coming from. You don't have to be the one to make the play all the time. You're playing with 10 other guys on the field."

As the back end of Auburn's schedule was loaded with talented playmakers, opponents were able to frustrate the defense by forcing the Tigers to make sure tackles—something they haven't been able to do consistently in last few years.

 

Too Many Penalties

Auburn entered Saturday night's game against Georgia as the SEC's most highly penalized team with an average of 6.8 per game for 68 yards.

Those errors rose against the Bulldogs as Auburn finished with seven penalties for 78 yards.

"On special teams, we sort of ran into the kicker and they scored right after that and I think that was a big play," Malzahn said. "Offensively, if we got first downs, we had holding penalties that brought them back."

Auburn's roughing-the-kicker penalty in the second quarter, as shown here by Bleacher Report's Barrett Sallee, turned an Auburn defensive stop into a Georgia scoring drive.

For Auburn's offense, holding penalties erased a few third-down conversions and forced Malzahn to go conservative with his play calls.

"We had penalties that pushed us back into 3rd-and-20, 3rd-and-22, stuff like that," Uzomah said. "We just didn't execute at a high level."

Auburn's lack of discipline in all three phases haunted the team Saturday night and continued what has been a major problem for the Tigers in recent games.

For a team—and a coach—that preaches excellence in execution, penalties continue to keep Auburn from playing at a championship level this season.

 

What Next?

After a crushing loss like this one, Auburn definitely has a lot to work on for the next two weeks until a trip to Tuscaloosa to face SEC West-leading Alabama.

"Anytime you get beat convincingly, as a coach, you have to try and solve the issues that you think you need to moving forward," Malzahn said. 

The Tigers need to address several personnel and playmaking issues through the game week against FCS-level Samford and into preparations for this year's Iron Bowl.

Auburn might not be able to compete for a national championship this season, but an upset victory against Alabama—one that would ruin the big-rival's dreams—could put a bright spot at the end of what has been a frustrating second half of the 2014 campaign.

"We can turn it around," running back Cameron Artis-Payne said. "We're back home next week. We get a win next week, and we're going into the Iron Bowl with some confidence."

 

All quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. All recruiting rankings and information courtesy of 247Sports. All stats courtesy of cfbstats.com.

Justin Ferguson is Bleacher Report's lead Auburn writer. Follow him on Twitter @JFergusonAU.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Florida State vs. Miami: Game Grades, Analysis for Seminoles and Hurricanes

For the sixth time this season, Jameis Winston and No. 3 Florida State (10-0) rallied from a dangerous deficit, coming up with a 30-26 victory over Miami (6-4) in Sun Life Stadium Saturday night.

The Hurricanes had the reigning national champs on the ropes, leading 23-7 midway through the second quarter, but the Seminoles scored 23 of the game's final 26 points to remain unbeaten and keep their playoff hopes alive.

How did Florida State and Miami grade out from an entertaining four-point game?

 

Florida State Seminoles Grade Analysis

Pass Offense: Winston struggled in a big way in the first half, missing on nine of 20 attempts for 120 yards and an interception. But much like he has all season, Winston thrived in the second half, throwing for 164 yards and a touchdown to help the Seminoles rally. The Seminoles shared the wealth as 10 different pass-catchers registered a reception against the Hurricanes.

Run Offense: Playing from behind almost right out of the gate, the Seminoles only ran the ball seven times in the first half. One of those rushes went 44 yards for a touchdown when Dalvin Cook broke free in the second quarter, but the Seminoles only gained 11 more yards on the ground before halftime. The second half followed a similar pattern. The Seminoles finished with just 19 carries, but Cook was outstanding, running for 92 yards and two touchdowns on just seven attempts.

Pass Defense: The Florida State secondary spent the better part of Saturday night being dissected by freshman quarterback Brad Kaaya. The Hurricanes consistently found big holes in the Seminoles defense, which allowed them to build a 16-point first-half lead. But Jalen Ramsey came up huge late in the fourth quarter, picking off a deep pass on fourth down to preserve the Florida State win.

Run Defense: The Seminoles did a pretty good job of limiting a dangerous Hurricanes rushing attack. The usually explosive Miami ground game was limited to just 4.4 yards per carry on Saturday night, and outside of a 28-yard run from Duke Johnson, there weren't many big plays from the Hurricanes ball-carriers.

Special Teams: What else can be written about kicker Roberto Aguayo? The sensational sophomore was clutch against the Hurricanes, connecting on all three of his field-goal attempts. His 53-yard kick in the fourth quarter brought Florida State within three, setting the offense up to retake the lead on the next possession. The only gaffe from Florida State's special teams came n the first half, when Jesus Wilson fumbled a kickoff return. Otherwise, it was another solid outing for the Seminoles.

Coaching: At some point, blame for Florida State's repeated slow starts has to fall on Jimbo Fisher and the coaching staff. The Seminoles act like two entirely different teams, separated by a 30-minute break at halftime. Just as much credit should be given to Fisher for his second-half sparks, but if Florida State makes it to the playoff, it'll likely be squaring off against a team that won't be so easy to rally against.

 

Miami Hurricanes Grade Analysis

Pass Offense: Johnson is the biggest talking point when it comes to the Miami offense, but Kaaya was the Hurricanes’ best player on Saturday night. The promising freshman gashed Florida State’s defense in the first half, throwing for 240 yards and two touchdowns. But the Seminoles slowed him down, as he connected on just six of 17 second-half passes. He finished with 316 yards, an interception and two scores.

Run Offense: Establishing the run is an important part of Miami's game plan, and the Hurricanes executed that effectively by piling up 176 yards on the ground. Duke Johnson battled cramps for much of the second half, but he still managed 130 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries.

Pass Defense: The Hurricanes did a good job of rattling Winston in the first half, limiting him to 120 yards and an interception before the break. But Miami failed to get any consistent pressure in the second half, allowing Winston to carve up the Miami secondary with underneath routes in front of Miami's zone. The sole passing touchdown the Hurricanes gave up was a bit of a fluke (as seen below), but they still allowed 181 passing yards to Winston in the second half.

Run Defense: On paper, Miami had a pretty good day against the Seminoles' rushing attack, surrendering just 115 yards on the ground. But Florida State only ran the ball 19 times, averaging six yards per carry, and Cook ran through and past the Hurricanes defense with runs of 15 and 26 yards on Florida State's go-ahead touchdown drive.

Special Teams: It was a mixed bag for kicker Michael Badgley, who connected on 45- and 46-yard field goals but had an extra point blocked and missed an easy 29-yarder in the second quarter. The Hurricanes could have used a big play in the return game, but Stacy Coley failed to break free in limited opportunities.

Coaching: Al Golden and the Miami staff called a perfect game in the first half, keeping Florida State off balance with a fantastic blend in the run and pass game. But that diversity faded in the second half as the Hurricanes tried to protect their lead, and the team as a whole lost the aggressiveness that helped it build the big lead in the first place.

 

All stats via NCAA.com.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Heisman Watch 2014: Top 5 Rankings After Week 12

Week 12 gave us some record-breaking performances that will surely be hard to top. Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon broke the FBS single-game rushing record with 408 yards vs. Nebraska, but will it be enough to become the front-runner for the Heisman?

Bleacher Report College Football Analyst Barrett Sallee gives his updated Heisman standings after Week 12. 

Who will win the Heisman Trophy this season?

Watch the video and let us know! 

 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Miami Football: Hurricanes Show They're Close, but Need to Find Clutch Factor

The Miami Hurricanes had a better collective performance than the No. 3 Florida State Seminoles, but the final scoreboard read 30-26 in favor of the 'Noles.

Miami (6-4, 3-3 ACC) outplayed the rival Seminoles (10-0, 7-0), earning a 492-419 total yard advantage and outgaining FSU in both the passing and rushing categories. Additionally, the 'Canes converted 10 of 18 third-down situations and held Jameis Winston and Co. to a 5-of-11 clip.

Unfortunately for Al Golden's team, the final tally is the only thing that actually matters.

Duke Johnson raced to his sixth consecutive 100-yard showing, tallying 130 and one touchdown. Brad Kaaya amassed 316 yards and two touchdowns, while Clive Walford and Phillip Dorsett both reeled in four passes for 127 and 90 yards, respectively.

Offensive coordinator James Coley called an aggressive first half, though he slowly moved toward a conservative attack during the latter 30 minutes. That change was undoubtedly a factor in the loss, but it wasn't the only negative.

The finger-pointing started immediately following the game, with the Twittersphere erupting that Golden will never beat FSU or that the 'Canes are simply perennial underachievers. However, losing to the nation's No. 3 team because of a couple fluke plays isn't underachieving.

Florida State earned the win—every last bit of it. Sure, its offensive line appeared to get away with holding on multiple occasions, but blaming the officials in this case is a lazy way to cover up where Miami faltered.

Walford and Standish Dobard fumbled after picking up first downs. Braxton Berrios dropped a potential touchdown. Michael Badgley yanked a 29-yard field goal and had an extra point blocked. Raphael Kirby and Jamal Carter both dropped could-have-been interceptions.

Nevertheless, Kaaya and the offense had one last opportunity to overcome those mistakes. After a pair of first downs, the Hurricanes picked up just two yards during their final four snaps. The freshman's ultimate pass fell into the waiting arms of Jalen Ramsey, the Seminoles' most valuable player Saturday night.

To reach the next level, though, Kaaya and Miami must find the clutch offensive moments similar to what Florida State has repeatedly shown in 2014. This was the third game in which the 'Noles staged a fourth-quarter comeback and third occurrence of a 16-plus-point recovery.

The Hurricanes had a chance to win, and it was because of the defense. Yes, that defense, the unit that couldn't stop rain from falling inside the house last season.

Sure, the Seminoles scored 30 points—which was actually a new career-low for a Winston-led FSU offense—but Deon Bush and Co. forced a trio of three-and-outs, field-goal attempts and turnovers. Miami certainly wants a little more from their defenders, but they provided the offense plenty of opportunities to seal the game.

The 'Canes are close to silencing the decade-long question of when they are officially "back," but they're not there yet.

However, this is the same program that was absolutely trounced by Florida State last season, losing by 27 points in a beatdown. This is exactly the process Golden preached ad nauseam during his previous three seasons in Coral Gables.

Pat-on-the-back, you'll get 'em next time, buddy phrases aren't what many Hurricanes fans want to hear during their emotionally fueled reactions following a four-point rivalry loss. But this is college football. Losses hurt. Everyone understands that. Yet to deny the progress Miami has made throughout 2014 is silly.

If Golden, his coaching staff or the players complete any one of the aforementioned shortcomings—yes, excluding the extra point—Florida State is upset, and the narrative changes completely.

The scoreboard said they came up short, but the 'Canes performance showed the program is here to stay. Now, it's a matter of finding consistent performance in clutch moments for Miami to establish itself among the ACC's elect.

And when that happens, we'll know "The U" is back. That's just not right now.

 

Follow Bleacher Report college football writer David Kenyon on Twitter: @Kenyon19_BR.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Missouri vs. Texas A&M: Game Grades, Analysis for the Tigers and Aggies


The Missouri Tigers were able to keep their SEC East hopes alive as they defeated Texas A&M 34-27. The final box score can be found here, thanks to NCAA.com.

It was a game where both teams started a little slow, but the Tigers were able to pick things up in the third quarter with a 28-point outburst. Missouri ran and threw all over the Aggies, and they need to continue to win in order to make it back to the Georgia Dome in December. The Aggies are just looking to finish the season with eight wins.

Here are game grades and analysis for the Tigers and the Aggies.

 

Passing Offense

There have been times when Maty Mauk has not looked sharp, but this was not one of those days. Mauk was 23-of-40 with 252 yards, one touchdown and one interception. He has had better numbers in his career, but he was able to sustain drives with key third-down passes all game long. He is starting to play a lot better since the Georgia loss, and that’s not a good sign for Tennessee and Arkansas.

 

Running Offense

This was by far the best rushing performance for the Tigers all year. The Tigers rushed for 335 yards, and Russell Hansbrough recorded 199 of those yards. The running backs for the Tigers used their speed to get on the outside, and the Aggies had no answer for it.

 

Passing Defense

Trying to stop the Aggies passing offense is a difficult task, because that is their strength. The Tigers were able to do a good job of not letting Kyle Allen go off in the first half, but he still had modest numbers, tallying 237 passing yards and three touchdowns. The defensive line did get after Allen with three sacks and Ian Simon was able to get an interception off Allen. So the pass defense was solid outside of the three touchdown passes.

 

Running Defense

The Aggies aren’t known for running the football, and the Tigers made sure of that. With only 104 yards on the ground, the Tigers front seven got after the Aggies offensive line and never could get the ground game going. Credit goes to Markus Golden and Shane Ray for not only going after the quarterback, but also making sure the running backs did not run wild.

 

Special Teams

Andrew Baggett made two of his three field goal attempts, the Tigers only had to punt twice and, outside of one Speedy Noil return, the coverage teams were on point. So the special teams did what they needed to do, which is put the Tigers in position to score points and pin the Aggies back as much as possible.

 

Coaching

Gary Pinkel has the Tigers playing good football because they are taking it one game at a time. They had a great game plan on offense, and the defense was able to get after Allen. Pinkel and the Tigers are criticized because they are not as consistent as they could be. But Pinkle’s calm demeanor feeds off his players, and they continue to win.

 

Passing Offense

Allen had another strong game with three touchdown passes in the loss. But he did get sacked three times, and he did not look very poised in the first half. As good as Allen is, he still has a lot to learn when it comes to decision-making and being more efficient on third down.

 

Running Offense

One of the things the Aggies need to get better at is running the football. They rushed for only 102 yards and had 3.8 yards per carry. Tra Carson did have 56 yards on 10 carries, but he only had 10 carries. The game was never out of reach for the Aggies, so they really should have put the ball in Carson’s hands more, and that would have made the passing game more of a threat.

 

Passing Defense

Mauk did not have great numbers, but he made timely throws when the Tigers needed them the most. One of the reasons for that is the Aggies could not generate any pressure on Mauk, as they tallied zero sacks. However, the Aggies were missing Myles Garrett—who has 11 sacks this season—so that made a big difference.

 

Running Defense

Another area in which the loss of Garrett showed is the run defense. The Aggies allowed 335 yards on the ground, and the Tigers were not doing anything special to gain those yards. In fact, there were times when the Tigers would run the same play over and over again and the Aggies could not maintain their assignments. This will be an area that needs to be addressed sooner than later.

 

Special Teams

The only highlight from the special teams was when Speedy Noil had a 70-yard kick return in the first quarter. Other than that, it was a solid for the special teams, as Josh Lambo made both of his field goals and the coverage teams did not let Marcus Murphy go crazy in the return game. Noil is going to be a very good return specialist for the Aggies by the start of the 2015 season.

 

Coaching

Kevin Sumlin had the right offensive game plan, but once again the defense did not come through. That has been the case for Sumlin since his arrival at Texas A&M, and they are losing games due to the fact that the defense is getting gashed each week. The talent is young on both sides of the ball, so Sumlin will have to continue to stay on the guys and make sure they continue to learn and improve.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

SEC's Hope for Two Teams in College Football Playoff as Good as Dead

Two SEC teams in the College Football Playoff?

That may seem like more of a possibility now that No. 5 Alabama (9-1, 6-1 SEC) topped No. 1 Mississippi State (9-1, 5-1 SEC) 25-20 and earned the inside track to the SEC West title.

Mississippi State still has a chance to stay in the committee's top four, right?

Wrong.

Unless some major college football chaos ensues over the next few weeks the SEC's hopes of getting two teams into the inaugural College Football Playoff is more myth than reality. 

Sure, Alabama could win out, win the SEC title and Mississippi State could finish the season with one loss. That'd be enough to look attractive to the committee?

Attractive, yes. But it'd still likely place the Bulldogs as the last of several dominoes looking to get in. Unless they start falling, it's unlikely they'll find their way in.

Why?

The Bulldogs' own play is a good place to start.

Mississippi State settled for field goals in the red zone twice—once before halftime and another at the start of the the third quarter. Two of quarterback Dak Prescott's three interceptions came at the 20-yard line or closer and Prescott looked wildly uncomfortable in the face of Alabama's pass rush.

They didn't look anything like a championship-caliber team against the Crimson Tide.

"I think we had the ball six times in the red zone, so that’s potentially 42 points," head coach Dan Mullen said in quotes released by Mississippi State. "If we just score touchdowns in the red zone it wouldn’t have been a close game. We would’ve won big, but give them a lot of credit. They made all those plays they needed to do."

Mississippi State looked blinded by the big stage from the jump, and unless it gets some help from Auburn in two weeks when the Tigers visit Alabama, will be sitting at home on championship weekend as the Crimson Tide battle for the SEC title.

Sure, the 25-20 score looks close. A late touchdown with 15 seconds left will do that. Mississippi State out-gained 428-335, which will undoubtedly be used in attempt to boost the Bulldogs' case.

Don't be fooled. This was the Crimson Tide's game from the get-go, and committee chairman Jeff Long specifically stated that they "eye test" mattered during last week's rankings show.

Mississippi State didn't get any style points on Saturday, and with only Vanderbilt and Ole Miss remaining on the schedule, time's running out.

On top of that, other teams jockeying for position in the four-team postseason made statements on Saturday—Ohio State, in particular.

Led by quarterback J.T. Barrett, the Buckeyes took down No. 25 Minnesota 31-24 in snowy Minneapolis on Saturday. Will the Buckeyes be ahead of the Bulldogs in the College Football Playoff rankings on Tuesday? Maybe and maybe not. If they run the table and win the Big Ten, you bet your bottom, top and middle dollars they'll get the benefit of the doubt over the Bulldogs.

Is that fair? Of course it isn't.

Ohio State's only loss came at home by two touchdowns to lowly Virginia Tech. They will have that conference championship to boast, though, and that is one of the selection committee's stated points of emphasis—one that is impossible to predict in the midseason rankings.

Stated or not, the playoff is designed to be a spectacle, and Ohio State carries a little more name recognition than Mississippi State. That shouldn't have anything to do with who makes the playoff, but let's be real, it will. 

Would a one-loss Oregon team with a Pac-12 title be in over Mississippi State without a division title?

Absolutely.

The same can be said for Baylor and/or TCU in the Big 12. Florida State got its last real test of the season, but came back to beat Miami 30-26 at Sun Life Stadium.

Unfortunately, conference championships matter. They shouldn't, because the goal for the playoff should be to reward excellence over granting access, and a team winning its geographically determined conference doesn't necessarily prove excellence. But unless there are no other options out there for the committee, two teams from the same conference getting in is more myth than reality based on the committee's ground rules.

Plus, the Bulldogs' own resume took a hit as well, as Stewart Mandel of FoxSports.com notes.

The mighty SEC name carries some weight, but we've seen the committee judge resumes by where they currently stand before. Why else was Alabama ranked No. 5 last week? It didn't have a signature win until Saturday.

That changed, and it came at the expense of the Bulldogs.

The chances of two teams making the playoff were always slim-to-none, regardless of how teams were ranked in any of the polls. Unless there's no other option, the SEC won't get two in—even if the potential second team is one-loss Mississippi State.

 

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

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

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Georgia Football: Blueprint for Dawgs to Crash College Football Playoff

Two weeks ago, Georgia fans were frustrated and downright befuddled as a confounding and embarrassing Bulldog loss to the Florida Gators served as a rude awakening from what had the trappings of a dream season.

Now, just fourteen days later, the dream lives on.

Thanks to a convincing win over the ninth-ranked Auburn Tigers, Georgia now has a chance to re-enter the College Football Playoff conversation.

To be sure, the scenario in which the Bulldogs sneak into the four-team playoff is hardly the most plausible.  But for a team that has had its fair share of highs—Georgia looked dominant in wins over the likes of Clemson, Missouri, Arkansas, Kentucky and Auburn—and lows (losses to South Carolina and Florida), even entertaining such outcomes is enough to energize a fanbase.

Georgia took two steps in the right direction over the past two weeks, and undoubtedly the selection committee will recognize the merits of the Dawgs’ play following a dominating performance against Auburn.  After all, an equally impressive win over lowly Kentucky combined with the losses of several other contenders to yield a five-position jump from No. 20 to No. 15 in this week’s College Football Playoff rankings.

Georgia’s 34-7 win over the Tigers on Saturday should once again propel it up the rankings as the Bulldog victory was one of the most impressive wins of the week.  And fortunately for head coach Mark Richt’s squad, the next two weeks should be equally beneficial.

Next week, Georgia should move past Charleston Southern with some degree of ease,and in the regular season’s final week the Bulldogs will take on in-state rival Georgia Tech.  The Yellow Jackets are currently 9-2 and firmly planted in the Top 25, but have struggled mightily against the Bulldogs as of late.

If Georgia continues the rivalry’s current trend it will pick up its 13th win in 14 years, but more importantly the Dawgs will garner another win over a ranked opponent and more confidence from the playoff selection committee.

With any luck, Georgia’s resume-building campaign won’t end there.  If the Missouri Tigers lose to either Tennessee or Arkansas over the coming weeks, Georgia will advance to the conference championship as the winner of the SEC East.  That matchup, presumably against either Alabama or Mississippi State, would give Georgia one final opportunity to show off.

In the interest of earning the best possible win, Georgia fans should probably root for Alabama for the remainder of the regular season as the Bulldogs need the Crimson Tide ranked as highly as possible should they meet in the Georgia Dome in early December.  And of course, Georgia must win this game—regardless of opposition.

If Georgia wins out and claims an SEC Championship, several factors would be in the Bulldogs’ favor. 

First and foremost is the benefit that the Southeastern Conference might receive as the nation’s strongest league.  Winning the SEC could—and possibly should—supersede overall record and negate bad losses.  Closing the year on a five-game winning streak with wins over three ranked opponents (Auburn, Georgia Tech, SEC West champion) and claiming the conference crown would be hard to ignore.

Furthermore, With Mississippi State’s loss to Alabama on Saturday, it is now guaranteed that the loser of the SEC Championship Game will have at least two losses.  If Georgia wins the conference with no more losses than any other team in the conference (which this scenario mandates), it would be unlikely that the Bulldogs would be leapfrogged by another SEC team.  Equally unlikely: the SEC being shunned by the committee entirely.

Outside of the conference, Georgia still needs some help.  This week, several teams including Ohio State, TCU and Florida State struggled against unranked foes.  Those types of performances weigh on committee sentiment, particularly in comparison to Georgia’s lopsided win over Auburn.  The Bulldogs need as many poor performances as possible.

So what does this look like in simplified form?

  • Georgia wins out and does so convincingly.
  • Missouri loses at least once more, securing the SEC East for Georgia.
  • Alabama wins out prior to losing to Georgia in the SEC Championship.
  • Mississippi State defeats Ole Miss and pushes the Rebels below Georgia with a third loss.
  • Arizona upsets Arizona State and pushes the Sun Devils below Georgia.
  • Kansas State upsets Baylor and pushes the Bears below Georgia.
  • Ohio State loses to Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship and falls below Georgia.
  • Arizona, USC, Arizona State or UCLA (all contenders in the Pac-12 South) upsets Oregon in the conference championship game.

Based on the timing of those games, these outcomes would likely vault Georgia above six teams by virtue of resume and record matching.  Along the way, however, Georgia will receive continual bumps for continued success against ranked opponents.

Now, Georgia must focus on handling its business.  After all, an inattention to detail is what got Georgia in this pickle to begin with.  Had the Bulldogs squeezed out a victory over South Carolina earlier in the year or avoided the disastrous performance against Florida, the Dawgs would already have the SEC East locked up and would be focusing on a much more consolidated playoff picture.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

FSU vs. Miami: How Seminoles' Win Reshapes Playoff Picture

Once again, the Florida State Seminoles overcame a sluggish start to find a way to win.

Jameis Winston threw for 304 yards, one touchdown and an interception, but the hero of the game was running back Dalvin Cook, whose touchdown with 3:05 left in the game was the decisive score. The freshman finished with 92 yards and two touchdowns rushing, in addition to 18 receiving yards.

Fox Sports' Bruce Feldman believes that Cook could serve as the heir apparent for Devonta Freeman, who left Florida State after his junior season:

All that really matters is that Florida State won, which means the college football playoff is that much closer for the 'Noles. With Mississippi State's loss to Alabama, FSU might even climb into the top spot.

Following Saturday's results, the top four will likely look something like this when the selection committee unveils its newest ranking.

Winning aside, Saturday couldn't have gone much worse for Florida State in terms of building a case for the playoff. No. 19 Clemson lost to Georgia Tech, 28-6, while 18th-ranked Notre Dame fell in overtime to Northwestern. As a result, the Seminoles' two biggest wins this season became a lot less impressive:

That will really come into play if Florida State falters between now and the conference championship. Boston College and Florida shouldn't present much resistance as long as the Seminoles take them seriously.

FSU would meet either Georgia Tech or Duke in the ACC Championship Game, which could be a nice win to end the season, but beating the Yellow Jackets or Blue Devils won't exactly knock the selection committee off its feet.

Still, it will take a lot of guts for the committee to overlook an unbeaten power-five conference champion for a one-loss Big 12/Big Ten champion. Florida State can only beat the teams in front of it, and that's exactly what the Seminoles have done.

"I thought name of the game was to keep winning," said FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher before Saturday's game, per Daniel Uthman of USA Today. "Whether you pick it by computer or that way, hey, we just have to control what we can control. If you don't do that, you're chasing your tail."

The 'Noles haven't been the most convincing, but the final score is all that matters. An unbeaten Florida State deserves a place in the playoff. There shouldn't be any doubt about that.

Where the Seminoles would be seeded right now is up for discussion, but at the very least, they have a top-four spot.

The biggest losers following Florida State's win are one of TCU, Baylor or Ohio State. Most agree that if the season ended now, the playoff would include Florida State, the SEC champion—likely Alabama—and Oregon. That means the Big 12 and Big Ten champions are fighting over the final spot in the playoff.

A one-loss Florida State will almost certainly move to the back of the pack among the power-five champions, so Saturday night was a major blow for the Horned Frogs, Bears or Buckeyes.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Jameis Winston Shushes Miami Crowd After Comeback Victory

Florida State kept its winning streak alive on Saturday with a 30-26 come-from-behind victory over the University of Miami. 

As he was walking off the field, FSU quarterback Jameis Winston could be seen shushing the Miami crowd as he headed back to the locker room. 

While this is by no means a horrible offense, the fact that it's Jameis Winston acting unsportsmanlike will likely draw the attention of critics.

[CollegeSpun]

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

FSU vs. Miami: Score and Twitter Reaction

The Florida State Seminoles pulled another victory out of a hat, overcoming an early  deficit to top the Miami Hurricanes 30-26 and remain undefeated at 10-0.

Florida State once again took its sweet time showing up, spotting Miami a 16-0 lead early in the second quarter. This marks the fourth straight game Jimbo Fisher's squad faced a first-half deficit, yet his team has found a way to win them all.

Playing from behind again, the Seminoles outscored the Hurricanes 20-3 during the second half, cementing another come-from-behind win on a game-winning touchdown from Dalvin Cook with 3:05 remaining in the fourth quarter.

Amending a slow start, Jameis Winston finished with 304 passing yards. After the game, he silenced the fans at Sun Life Stadium on his way out, via ESPN's Andrea Adelson.

At the half, Miami held 320 total yards to Florida State's 174. Brad Kaaya Winston's production through the air, amassing 240 yards to the Heisman winner's 120. College GameDay provided a complete look at Miami's dominance at halftime.

The freshman displayed more poise than Winston in the early going, showing handling pressure with exemplary success, per ESPN Stats & Info.

A slow defensive start is nothing new for the Seminoles, who continually dig themselves into holes. By ESPN Stats & Info's count, this is their third defensive meltdown during an opening half.

CBS Sports' Dennis Dodd noted FSU's steep defensive decline from last season, when the champions allowed 12.1 points per game.

Late rallies, however, are also nothing new for the Seminoles, who were fighting to remain undefeated despite several close calls. College GameDay's Chris Fallica quantified their second-half success playing from behind.

Turning back to ESPN Stats & Info again, no other team has displayed such a zest from escaping defeat's grasp. 

Before the game, Miami running back Duke Johnson acknowledged their ability to finish ahead to the Associated Press' Tim Reynolds, via ABCNews.com.

"You can say what you want about them: 'They had a team last year. They're not this. They're not that,'" Johnson said. "At the end, they find a way to win."

So everyone rooting for an upset held their breath, waiting for Winston to orchestrate another comeback in the nick of time. With some tremendous fortune, a deflected pass directed right to Karlos Williams for a bizarre touchdown that cut Miami's lead to six. 

ESPN CollegeFootball's Twitter page posted video of the play.

St. Louis Rams running back Tre Mason, whose Auburn Tigers lost to FSU in the 2014 BCS National Championship, noted his former foe's good timing. 

Following a fumble on Miami's next possession, Florida State chipped away some more with a field goal, closing the gap to 23-20.

Rather than attempt a 4th-and-5 conversion, Fisher sent out Roberto Aguayo to attempt a 53-yard field goal. While that wouldn't make sense for most college teams, the sophomore has only missed twice in his career, making all four of his tries from 50-plus yards.

When the nation's No. 3-ranked squad received the ball down three, the AP's Tim Reynolds figured it wouldn't be difficult to give Aguayo a chance to tie the game.

Cook decided not to test it, instead following a 15-yard run with a 26-yard touchdown. 

After a sizzling first half, Kaaya shut down completely during the latter portion of the evening event, gaining 53 second-half passing yards.

FSU's attention now turns to the rankings, where it will leapfrog Mississippi State while jousting with Oregon and Alabama for the No. 1 spot. At the very least, the 10-0 club will retain its No. 3 placement.

Its already shaky sampling of opponents, however, looks even worse after Notre Dame suffered a stunning overtime loss at home to Northwestern. The team's signature victory is now over a squad that won't be ranked heading into next week.

Despite another imperfect showing, Marshall is the only other team with a perfect record intact. Until the Seminoles lose, they'll maintain a College Football Playoff Spot.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

LSU vs. Arkansas: Game Grades, Analysis for Tigers and Razorbacks

Prior to meeting LSU on Saturday night, Arkansas had been winless in 17 previous SEC games.  

But the streak is over.

The Razorbacks have finally won a conference game, and by a fitting score at that: 17-0 over LSU, which was reeling after its 20-13 overtime loss Nov. 8 to Alabama. 

Neither team's running backs lived up to the hype. But Arkansas' got the job done, accounting for both of its touchdowns during a frigid evening in Fayetteville. 

Here are the grades/report cards. Grades for position groups, coaching and special teams are explained below. 

Check out the highlights from the live blog

 

Pass Offense

LSU: Anthony Jennings was rushed, hurried and frustrated all night. He completed 12 of 22 passes for a paltry 87 yards. He was a non-threat the entire game. The pass offense gets a D-. 

UA: Brandon Allen wasn't great, let's get that out of the way. He completed 16 of 27 attempts for a lukewarm 169 yards and zero touchdowns, but he helped manage the game and sustain drives. Since it was Arkansas' first conference win in 17 tries, Allen gets a C-. 

 

Pass Defense

LSU: The Tigers weren't exploited, so a grade of C is fair. Arkansas' Hunter Henry led all receivers with 54 yards, but no catches were in the end zone. It wasn't a bad night for the LSU secondary. 

UA: Well, Jennings wasn't great, so the Razorbacks secondary must have done something right. 

Right? 

Arkansas' defensive backs get a B for holding Jennings to 87 yards. His season-low total was 84, which came during a loss to Auburn. We're not counting the 11 yards versus New Mexico State; that was a blowout. Either way, Jennings had an off-night, and the Razorbacks didn't give him many opportunities to rebound. 

 

Run Offense

LSU: What run offense? What offense, period? The Tigers get an F for rushing for 36 yards. Leonard Fournette, one of the country's top freshmen, finished with five carries for nine yards. 

UA: Alex Collins and Jonathan Williams proved to be enough. Williams led with 55 yards. Collins had 46. They combine for a grade of C-.

They're 1,000-yard backs in the making who were saved by scoring touchdowns. Other than that, they weren't that impressive, evidenced by averaging fewer than three yards per touch. 

 

Run Defense

LSU: Flip Arkansas' rushing offense around and you'll get a B- for the Tigers' run D. Sure, it allowed two touchdowns, but it limited two of the SEC's top backs to the bare minimum. 

UA: The Razorbacks deserve an A for holding the Tigers to 36 yards. 

 

Special Teams

LSU: Colby Delahoussaye missed two field goals (47, 32). He had one miss prior to Saturday. That said, punting was better. But punting isn't something that the Tigers want to brag about. Jamie Keehn had five punts for 222 yards.

UA: Adam McFain kicked a 32-yard field goal. There were two extra points and no big plays surrendered. Punting from Sam Irwin-Hill was fine; he pinned the Tigers behind the 20 twice. Special teams for LSU gets a B-. 

 

Coaching

LSU: Saturday wasn't Les Miles' or Cam Cameron's finest moments. The Tigers staff, as a whole, gets a D-. LSU didn't appear prepared. 

UA:Bret Bielema did it. And breaking the streak against a good team warrants a B. However, the offensive play-calling sags the overall grade to C+. 

 

Follow Bleacher Report's Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Winners and Losers from Week 12 of College Football

Yes, Week 11 of the college football season was billed as arguably the best all year long. However, this Saturday, Week 12, proved to have its own share of upsets, thrilling finishes and statement wins. 

From Alabama knocking off No. 1 Mississippi State, to Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon's career day, Week 12 brought fans another eventful few days of football. Come Tuesday when the new playoff rankings are released, there are sure to be some interesting results. 

But there's no use worrying about that just yet. It's time to look back at another great day of college football. Yes, Winners and losers is up while games are wrapping up. Fear not, as this post will be updated as events warrant. 

Which teams, players and coaches came out of Week 12 as winners? Which ones didn't? The answers are in the following slides. 

Begin Slideshow

Pages