NCAA Football

Super 16 Poll Week 5: Complete Rankings Released for 2014 Season

There were close calls, shocking results and Heisman-esque performances. There were conference clashes, prime-time matchups and points galore. 

In other words, it was just another weekend of college football.   

And with this week's results, the Super 16 poll—a poll that votes under the premise of deciding the top 16 teams in the nation as though there were a 16-team playoff to finish the season—has once again shifted.

Let's take a look at the latest poll, along with Bleacher Report's official Top 25, and recap this week's most notable action.

 

Analysis

A lot of teams are likely feeling pretty lucky to either be as high as they are on this week's poll or even included at all.

Florida State gave Clemson every opportunity to win and still survived. Auburn was tested by Kansas State. Washington State gave Oregon everything it could handle and then some. West Virginia gave Oklahoma something to ponder, though the Sooners pulled away in the second half. Alabama faced a similar challenge against Florida.

And then there was LSU, which shockingly lost to Mississippi State. 

"It's not necessarily just the players," head coach Les Miles told The Associated Press, via ESPN.com, after LSU's disappointing performance. "I'm putting first of all the responsibility on me. I know our guys on our team expect more from themselves... They're stung and it's not something that they enjoyed."

No indeed. It would be hard to enjoy giving up 570 yards of total offense, with 302 coming on the ground. 

Meanwhile, Clemson's brutal schedule to start the season has not done it any favors. A trip to Georgia in the opener certainly humbled the Tigers, while Saturday night's overtime loss to Florida State broke their hearts, especially since the Seminoles put the game on a silver platter for Clemson and the away side couldn't take advantage.

Just consider the following stat from John Buccigross of ESPN:

You don't win football games by failing to convert in the red zone; it's really that simple. And you don't win the ACC by failing to beat a Jameis Winston-less Florida State, either.

Oregon is likely counting its blessings, meanwhile, and most of them begin with the words, "God bless Marcus Mariota." The star quarterback completed 21 of 25 passes for 329 passing yards and five touchdowns with no turnovers despite being sacked seven times. Can you say Heisman?

Of course, the defense was also pushed to the max, giving up 436 passing yards and four touchdowns to opposing quarterback Connor Halliday. Oregon's opponents are going to take two things from the game film: You can harass Oregon's offensive line with a solid pass rush, and you can certainly throw the ball against the Ducks.

Whether or not that's enough to beat Mariota and company remains to be seen.

With most of the big teams surviving this week, there simply weren't that many surprises in the Super 16. There might be some movement this week, however, with UCLA facing Arizona State and Missouri taking on South Carolina, while there's always the possibility for a major upset.       

College football is as crazy and enthralling as ever. Expect even more surprises next week.

 

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Shy Tuttle Sets Decision Date: Which Program Is Best Fit for 4-Star DT?

One lucky team will land a potential difference-maker to its 2015 recruiting class on Friday afternoon when 4-star defensive tackle Shy Tuttle will announce his commitment, according to Ryan Bartow of 247Sports.

Earlier in the summer, the Lexington, North Carolina, product tweeted out a top five of Clemson, Miami, North Carolina, N.C. State and Tennessee.

However, this battle appears as if it will come down to the two home-state schools and neighboring Tennessee.

All three schools have made waves in their attempts to woo Tuttle—such as UNC head coach Larry Fedora and N.C. State head coach Dave Doeren taking helicopters to visit him during a game earlier this month and Tennessee sending him mail with his picture photoshopped next to Beyonce.

But which school provides the best opportunity for the 6’3”, 315-pounder to succeed? Let’s break down his top three choices and their pitches in hopes of landing Tuttle.

 

North Carolina

Larry Fedora and the North Carolina Tar Heels were the early favorites to land Tuttle, who lives less than 80 miles away from Chapel Hill. 

To say that the Tar Heels defense could use a run-stuffing defensive tackle would be an understatement. Through three games, UNC has allowed 668 yards rushing and ranks 111th nationally in rush defense, according to cfbstats

Additionally, per Ourlads, three of their top four interior defensive linemen are upperclassmen—which presents Tuttle with a great opportunity to come in and play right off the bat.

Considering the proximity to home and the chance at early playing time, North Carolina presents Tuttle with a strong case as to why he should migrate east to Chapel Hill for the next four seasons.

 

N.C. State

After going 3-9 in his first season as N.C. State’s head coach, Dave Doeren quietly has the Wolfpack sitting at 4-0 heading into this weekend’s matchup against top-ranked Florida State. 

On the recruiting trail, N.C. State’s 2015 class—which is currently rated the worst in the ACC—could use the jolt of adding the state’s top-ranked player.

One of the Wolfpack’s two interior spots on the defensive line has a pair of seniors in the two-deep, according to Ourlads.

The chance to be a signature defensive recruit for a team on the rise has to be appealing for Tuttle.

 

Tennessee

Another one of Tuttle’s suitors with a second-year head coach who is building some positive momentum is Butch Jones at Tennessee.

Unlike the Wolfpack, whose class currently sits at No. 72 nationally, the Volunteers have assembled a Top-10 class in the 2015 cycle.

A particularly appealing opportunity for Tuttle would be the chance to line up alongside 5-star Vols commit Kahlil McKenzie, which would form one of the most formidable defensive line tandems in the country. 

Additionally, the Vols have one senior, one junior and a third-year sophomore filling out three of the top four spots in their two-deep, per Ourlads. Another thing helping Tennessee is Tuttle’s bond with Vols defensive line coach Steve Stripling.

“He told me I’d be playing tackle, but I’d learn all the positions,” Tuttle told Ryan Callahan of GoVols247 (subscription required) earlier this spring. “And he showed me how they do things. (Stripling and I) talk pretty often. He’s put a lot of people in the NFL. He’s their coach, but then he’s going to look after you.”

While staying in-state has its perks, the Vols can counter with the allure of playing in the SEC.

 

The Pick 

The main selling point for the Tar Heels is their inviting depth chart, while N.C. State and Tennessee are still building on the excitement of new coaching staffs who appear to have their programs headed in the right direction.

When considering factors such as playing time, a chance to win and the best overall fit for Tuttle, the Vols seem to have the best combination for him to find success in the short- and long-term.

Regardless of which school he chooses, Tuttle is a candidate to make an immediate impact as soon as he steps foot on campus next season.

 

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

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UCLA vs. Arizona State: Complete Game Preview

When: Thursday, Sept. 25, 10 p.m. ET Where: Sun Devil Stadium; Tempe, Ariz. TV: Fox Sports 1 Every UCLA vs. Arizona State encounter of the last three seasons was decided on the final drive...

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Early Season Chaos Scenarios for the SEC West

If there was any lingering doubt about which division is the toughest in college football, look no further than the current Associated Press Top 25 for your answer.

Six of the seven teams in the division are ranked in the top 17: No. 3 Alabama, No. 5 Auburn, No. 6 Texas A&M, No. 10 Ole Miss, No. 14 Mississippi State and No. 17 LSU. The only team not in the standings, Arkansas, also received nine votes this week.

Just how tough is it?

Auburn has games against seven ranked opponents remaining on the schedule, with Texas A&M, Alabama and Ole Miss tied for the next-toughest schedules with five.

That's not just running the gauntlet, that's like running the gauntlet blindfolded with a pack of hungry wolves chasing you.

That doesn't mean, however, that a team from the SEC West is a shoo-in for the College Football Playoff. Doomsday scenarios exist, so lets go through some that could send the division into chaos before the leaves change colors.

 

The Rise of the Mississippi Schools

Mississippi State announced its presence with authority on Saturday night, absolutely destroying LSU in Baton Rouge 34-29 in a game that wasn't nearly as close as the score indicated.

Meanwhile, all Ole Miss has done through three games is produce the SEC's second-best defense (296 yards per game), gained the second-most turnovers (nine) and the quarterback, Bo Wallace, with the highest completion percentage in the nation (75.5 percent).

Do either have staying power, though?

The SEC Network's Paul Finebaum thinks Mississippi State does (via The Opening Drive on WJOX 94.5 in Birmingham).

West division powers Auburn, Alabama and Texas A&M had better hope not, because the Bulldogs already bit LSU. Another upset or two of that magnitude could not only knock off one or more high-profile contenders, but put one of the Mississippi schools in a prime position to make a run at the SEC West title.

If one of the Mississippi schools finishes with one loss and an SEC title, will that resonate the same as a one-loss SEC champ named "Alabama," "Auburn" or "Texas A&M?" I'd like to think it would, but we've never been through this process before, so there's no way to be sure until we've been through the College Football Playoff selection process for real.

 

Arkansas Gets Hot

This Arkansas team isn't the same one that lost nine straight games to close the 2013 season. These Hogs are physical up front, powerful and multidimensional in the running game and, surprisingly, have a quarterback who has proven that he can be somewhat of a difference-maker.

Brandon Allen has completed 43 of his 70 passes (61.4 percent), for 552 yards, eight touchdowns and only one pick.

Are those Heisman-caliber numbers? Of course not.

In that offense, though, a quarterback who's efficient through the air, doesn't make mistakes and keeps the chains moving is all head coach Bret Bielema needs to be successful.

Will Texas A&M's defense—which has played more fundamentally sound this year—be able to maintain that momentum against the three-headed running back attack this weekend in JerryWorld? Will Arkansas, with two weeks to prepare, get creative against an Alabama team that will be coming off of a road trip to Ole Miss on Oct. 11?

Arkansas could hold the keys to the kingdom. If it springs an upset, the SEC West will get even more chaotic.

 

LSU Beats Auburn

It's rare that Auburn gets to host LSU at night, but that's exactly what will happen in two weeks in Jordan-Hare Stadium when the battle of the SEC West's Tigers goes down.

One week ago, this seemed like a matchup that could determine the early-season landscape within the division. After LSU's loss to Mississippi State Saturday night, it has evolved into a must-win game for the boys from Baton Rouge.

What happens if they win it?

The cannibalization of the SEC West will be on, with no signs of letting up.

That's the worst-case scenario for the conference. It's clear the the best football in the country is being played within the division, but if all of its teams beat up on each other and can't produce a playoff-worthy resume, what's the point?

The best team in the SEC West has a division loss in each of the last three seasons (Alabama 2011 and 2012, Auburn 2013). If at least two, and possibly more, of its powers have losses on the resume by Oct. 15, the margin for error diminishes and November could get really crazy in the toughest division in college football.

 

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

College Football Teams Who Wish They Could Have a Re-Start to 2014 Season

If this were a video game, the reset button would have been pressed long ago by a number of college football teams.

Things never go completely according to plan, but for these nine schools it's almost been like the start of the 2014 season has resembled a worst-case scenario.

Embarrassing losses, subpar performances, unnecessary distractions—all of that contributing to an opening four weeks that won't be getting much play in the season-ending highlight video.

This isn't just about wins and losses, though. It's the way those losses have occurred, or how unimpressive the victories have been, as well as what those results say about the prospects for success for the rest of the season.

Type out a letter on a computer, and if mistakes are noticed early all it takes is a few clicks of the delete key. But here we have a scenario where the note is hand-written (using ink) and it's the only piece of paper available.

All is not lost...yet. But if these teams don't get the ship righted soon, there's no way they'll be able to avoid the iceberg on the horizon.

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Gators WR Demarcus Robinson Favors QB Change, According to His Twitter Account

Twitter strikes again.

The Twitter account @GatorZoneUF sent out a tweet on Saturday that asked followers to retweet it if they were in favor of the Florida Gators starting freshman quarterback Treon Harris over junior Jeff Driskel.

Florida wide receiver Demarcus Robinson just so happened to be one of the people who retweeted it.

Oops.

It may seem weird that Robinson is supposedly in favor of a change at quarterback. The wideout has caught 23 passes for 353 yards and three touchdowns through the first three games of the season. However, he caught only two passes for 14 yards in a loss to Alabama on Saturday.

Robinson has since deleted the retweet and sent out a message of his own.

[Twitter, h/t SB Nation]

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Will LSU Save Its Season with a Switch at QB?

After the LSU Tigers' shocking loss to the Mississippi State Bulldogs, the quarterback position has become a hot debate in Baton Rouge.

Bleacher Report College Football Analysts Michael Felder and Barrett Sallee debate whether or not LSU has a QB controversy on its hands. 

Is it time for Les Miles to make a change at quarterback?

Watch the video and let us know. 

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USC vs. Oregon State Complete Game Preview

WHEN: Saturday, Sept. 27, 10:30 p.m. ET 

WHERE: The Los Angeles Coliseum 

TV: ESPN 

Home-field advantage is sometimes overvalued, but not in the case of the USC vs. Oregon State series. The Trojans’ 31-14 win last season at Reser Stadium was the first time a road opponent won in the series since 2004, when USC beat the Beavers 28-20, en route to a national championship.

That ended a three-game losing skid for the Trojans in Corvallis, Oregon—which pales in comparison to the losing streak the Beavers are up against Saturday in the Coliseum.

Oregon State has not won there since 1960.

From a historical perspective, No. 18 USC could not have a better opponent waiting for the Trojans’ return home from a four-week layoff. But the Beavers come into Saturday's matchup with a history-making quarterback, Sean Mannion, and a 3-0 start. 

USC needs to bounce back after losing to Boston College its last time out, 37-31. The Trojans' return home could be the catalyst for them to regroup and get their season back on track in the form of a 2-0 Pac-12 Conference start.  

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USC vs. Oregon State Complete Game Preview

WHEN: Saturday, Sept. 27, 10:30 p.m. ET WHERE: The Los Angeles Coliseum TV: ESPN Home-field advantage is sometimes overvalued, but not in the case of the USC vs. Oregon State series...

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Duke vs. Miami: Complete Game Preview

The Miami Hurricanes look to rebound from their second loss of the 2014 season when the Duke Blue Devils enter Sun Life Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 27.

Despite a solid performance from freshman quarterback Brad Kaaya, the 'Canes fell 41-31 to Nebraska, while Duke improved to 4-0 after dismantling Tulane 47-13.

Last season, the Blue Devils shredded Miami for 358 yards on the ground, earning an 18-point victory over the Duke Johnson-less Hurricanes.

Opening kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET, and ESPN2 will carry the Atlantic Coast Conference matchup. As of this writing, OddsShark lists Miami as a 4.0-point favorite.

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Suspension or Not, Jameis Winston Is Still a Top Heisman Contender

Coming off their overtime victory against the Clemson Tigers, the Florida State Seminoles look to improve to 4-0 after they take on North Carolina State on the road at Carter-Finley Stadium.

Bleacher Report College Football Analysts Adam Kramer and Barrett Sallee discuss the importance of Jameis Winston's return and how this game will go down. 

How will Winston and Florida State fare this weekend against NC State?

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10 College Football Players We Overlooked in Preseason

College football coverage has gone mainstream the past few seasons. Even smaller schools have writers publishing daily updates during spring and fall camp—and doing it, importantly, on a digital platform—which makes it hard for players get overlooked.

Alas, some players managed to fly under the national radar this preseason, eluding widespread praise and expectation when they probably deserved both. Those who follow the team might have expected their success, but those who do not did not.

The list that follows differs from a "breakout" list because it's stricter in its definition of "overlooked." Kenny Hill has been better than we expected; but we thought he would be great. James Conner has been better than expected; but we thought he would be great. Etc., etc., etc.

Rather, the players on this list are ones most people hadn't heard of at the start of the season. If they had, it had probably been in passing, as someone to "keep an eye on" instead of a star.

But so far, they are playing like the latter.

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College Football Picks: North Carolina Tar Heels vs. Clemson Tigers Odds

The North Carolina Tar Heels will open play in the ACC this Saturday night against the Clemson Tigers at Memorial Stadium. Game time is set for 7 p.m. (ET), and this conference clash will be broadcast nationally on ESPNU.

North Carolina comes into this matchup looking to rebound after getting pasted by East Carolina last week on the road in a 70-41 loss. According to Cover’s betting trends, the closing point spread in this game had the Tar Heels actually favored by a point. They are now 2-1 straight up on the year with a 0-3 record against the spread. North Carolina is just 3-7 ATS in its last 11 road games.

The Tigers blew a golden opportunity to move way up in the national rankings this past Saturday against No. 1 Florida State, but they could not pull off the upset in a 23-17 overtime loss as 9.5-point road underdogs. Instead, Clemson has dropped out of the latest AP Top 25 poll with a record of 1-2 SU (2-1 ATS). Its other setback was a 45-21 loss to No. 12 Georgia on opening weekend as a 10-point underdog on the road.

 

North Carolina at Clemson Betting Storylines

Last week was the Tar Heels' first real test of the new season, and they failed miserably. They turned a tight game after the first quarter into a rout heading into the fourth by getting outscored 42-14 in the middle two quarters of play. North Carolina’s offense has to be somewhat pleased with putting up 41 points in this game, but its defense was completely shredded by Pirates quarterback Shane Carden, who ended the day with 438 passing yards and four touchdown throws.

In their first two games, the Tar Heels gave up 29 points to Division IAA Liberty and 27 points to San Diego State in a tight four-point victory as 14.5-point home favorites. North Carolina is ranked 21st in the nation in scoring with an average of 42.7 points a game, and quarterback Marquise Williams has thrown for 551 yards while adding another 152 yards on the ground. However, it’s hard to see this defense keeping Clemson from scoring many points this Saturday night.

The Tigers have to be kicking themselves after Saturday’s near miss, but there are plenty of positive takeaways from such a heartbreaking loss. Freshman quarterback Deshaun Watson took another step forward with 266 yards passing while completing 19 of 28 throws. He also ran for 30 yards and a score on 12 carries. The Tigers did an excellent job of spreading the ball around all night long, with 11 different players posting at least one reception in this game.

The biggest plus had to be the Clemson defense, which kept the pressure on Seminoles backup quarterback Sean Maguire from the opening snap. This unit also held running back Karlos Williams to just 45 yards on 10 carries as Florida State attempted to fill the void created by a one-game suspension of starting quarterback Jameis Winston.

 

North Carolina at Clemson Betting Odds and Trends by Doc’s Sports

Point spread: Clemson -13.5

Total Line: OFF

According to Cover’s betting trends, the Tar Heels are 7-2 ATS in their last nine games following a SU loss and 5-1 ATS in their last six conference games. The total has stayed “under” in six of their last eight games against a team from the ACC.

The Tigers are 5-1 ATS in their last six games following a SU loss and 20-8 ATS in their last 28 games in the ACC. The total has gone “over” in six of their last eight home games.

Head-to-head in this matchup, the favorite is 4-1 ATS in the last five meetings, and the total has gone over in three of the last four games.

                                                             

College Football Picks: North Carolina at Clemson Betting Predictions

The Tar Heels find themselves facing the wrong team at the wrong time in this ACC tilt. They proved that they are not going to be one of the elite teams in the ACC, and they now have the tall task of going on the road to face a very good Clemson team that will be looking to take its recent frustrations out on someone. That someone is North Carolina, and it will be by far more than the current 13.5-point spread.

 

Take: # 172 Clemson (-13.5) over North Carolina - 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 27

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Hot Seat Alert: Which Coaches Should Fear Losing Their Jobs?

After four weeks of football, there are some big programs that are struggling. This falls on the head coach. 

Bleacher Report College Football Analysts Barrett Sallee and Adam Kramer discuss which head coaches are in danger of losing their jobs. 

Which head coach is in most danger of getting the ax?

Watch the video and let us know! 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

College Football Rankings 2014: Updated Outlook on Top Week 5 Polls

On the brink of a complete overhaul, the heavy hitters continue to headline the college football rankings after fending off major upsets.

Many premier squads came close to demolishing their College Football Playoff chances with a defeat, but only LSU suffered an upset during an eventful Week 4. Florida State, Oregon and Auburn will have to prove their status as legit title contenders, but they at least remain viable choices after securing narrow victories over the weekend.

Without the BCS telling us what goes, it is interesting to study the different lists to mark the differences in opinion. Although the two major players don't vary significantly, few teams hold the same slotting from the Associated Press and USA Today.

Let's take a look at the AP Top 25 and USA Today polls to see how the two compare. As you can see, a few notable differences exist throughout the rankings. 

 

Updated Outlook

Florida State remains No. 1 after sneaking past Clemson in overtime, but how long will the Seminoles maintain the top spot?

Without the suspended Jameis Winston, Florida State sneaked out a 23-17 victory over its ACC rival, which no longer holds a spot in the top 25 after suffering two tough losses. It's easy to blame Winston's absence for the near upset, as Sean Maguire coughed up two interceptions. That, however, would let FSU off the hook too easily.

The understudy quarterback faced heavy pressure all night, getting sacked five times throughout the victory. ESPN Stats & Info illuminated Maguire's circumstances:

Clemson accounted for 407 total yards, and only the most irrational sports fans would blame the Seminoles' defensive struggles on a suspended quarterback. With or without Winston, the Seminoles have not performed like a No. 1 team. ESPN's Football Power Index has them ranked much lower:

In the AP, Oregon is right on FSU's trail. USA Today has the Ducks further behind, but Alabama is on the edge of No. 1 consideration. Florida State shouldn't have to lose a game to lose its No. 1 standing. What type of frightful NCAA juggernaut boasts a 12.3-point margin of victory?

Working in its favor, Oregon also walked a tightrope against Washington State, allowing 436 passing yards and four touchdowns to Connor Halliday during a 38-31 shootout. Heisman hopeful Marcus Mariota answered with five passing scores of his own, but his defense shattered against Mike Leach's passing scheme.

Following three massive victories, one of which came against a then-top-10 ranked Michigan State, Oregon appeared poise to usurp Florida State before nearly unraveling against the Cougars. Now it must get back on track to finally run the table. 

The week's biggest stunner produced the largest ramifications, as LSU slid down the rankings while Mississippi State vaulted from unranked to prominently featured. It's amazing what one game can accomplish.

A trendy upset pick heading into Saturday, the Bulldogs bruised their way to a 34-29 victory behind a brilliant performance from Dak Prescott. The junior contributed 268 passing yards, 105 rushing yards and three total touchdowns against Les Miles' squad.

Miles spoke fondly of the dual-threat quarterback before their meeting, via Around the SEC's Twitter page, and now he's probably not happy to see Prescott prove him right:

LSU now must follow South Carolina's path to initiate damage control. Facing Auburn, Ole Miss, Alabama and Texas A&M this season, the Tigers can amend this loss by surviving those four top-10 opponents. Or they can fall from relevancy by succumbing to a brutal schedule.

Mississippi State faces those same four opponents, starting with the Aggies in two weeks after taking the upcoming weekend off. If Prescott can outgain Kenny Hill to win another SEC showdown, the Bulldogs will soar further up the ladder upon facing Auburn the following week.

After its next two games, we'll certainly know whether or not this squad is the real deal.

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Emmitt Smith Speaks out on Jeff Driskel's Performance vs. Alabama

Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel had a rough outing against Alabama in a 42-21 loss, and at least one notable alum has taken notice.    

Emmitt Smith, a unanimous All-American with Florida in 1989, voiced his thoughts on the struggling signal-caller:

Not exactly glowing remarks for Driskel, who posted terrible numbers against the Crimson Tide. Driskel went 9-of-28 passing for 93 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions for a passer rating of 57.5.

Smith isn't the only person who was critical of the Florida QB after his forgettable performance. Matt Hayes of Sporting News passed along his analysis of the game:

Replacing Driskel was at least a thought that ran through coach Will Muschamp's mind during the 21-point loss. Following the game, Muschamp commented on possibly making a switch at quarterback against the Tide, per Drew Champlin of AL.com:

"I did (consider it) but Jeff gives us the best opportunity right now," Muschamp said. "For us to win a game like that, Jeff Driskel needs to play."

Prior to the game against Bama, Driskel had put together consistent numbers on the season. His three touchdowns and one interception against Kentucky helped boost the team to an overtime win, but that performance was overshadowed by Saturday's showing.

Moving forward, Driskel will certainly feel more pressure if he keeps underwhelming with his play. Beating down the likes of Eastern Michigan and coming back against Kentucky means nothing if he can't lead the team against tough SEC opponents.

The former 5-star quarterback has a tough slate ahead of him on the road against Tennessee then facing LSU in Gainesville. If the junior continues to struggle, Smith might not be the only person calling for a change under center.

 

Follow @RCorySmith on Twitter.

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Does Anybody Want to Win the SEC East?

Are there any teams in the SEC East that want to step up to the big boy table?

Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

Georgia was the talk of the college football world after Week 1, when it outmanned Clemson between the hedges. How did it follow that up in its next game, which took place during Week 3? By dropping a heartbreaker on the road to South Carolina, which had already been trounced by Texas A&M.

As it stands right now, the only SEC East teams without conference losses are the ones that haven't played SEC games.

That left the door open for Missouri, a team that had looked good up until last weekend. Then Indiana happened, and Missouri suffered one of the most embarrassing losses of the season by any SEC program.

Florida? The Gators somehow managed to pair a consistently woeful offense with a surprisingly dreadful defense through the first three games.

Tennessee and Missouri don't have conference losses yet, but the way things are shaping up, they'll just join the fray of what looks like a traffic jam of mediocre-at-best teams.

Instead of Georgia getting right on defense, South Carolina taking the next step and Florida getting right, the SEC East looks like it has taken a step back. Similar to the SEC West, it will cannibalize itself. Unlike the SEC West, though, it will do so in a tragic way, one that feels like the champ is the team that lost the least rather than a strong program that went out and won the title.

For comparison, it will be a lot like 2010.

South Carolina won the east that season with a 9-3 record and a 5-3 record within the conference, and four of the six teams in the division at that time had sub-.500 records in the SEC.

With every team in the division having major flaws, history is going to repeat itself.

South Carolina's defense has struggled, it already has a loss, and it has to go on the road to Auburn later in the year. Georgia didn't fix its pass defense, and pass-happy teams like Tennessee, Missouri and Kentucky remain on the schedule in addition to the home game with defending conference champ Auburn. Missouri's defense struggled and didn't slow down Indiana, a mediocre Big Ten team. Florida's problems seem to be getting worse, not better. Tennessee is young up front, Kentucky is still building and Vanderbilt is back to being "Vanderbilt."

Have any of those teams done anything to inspire confidence that they can step up to be elite?

Nope.

This is just a flawed year in the SEC East. It doesn't have to be—and won't be—permanent, but the flaws that exist on each team are not flaws that can be fixed overnight. 

Georgia has had an entire offseason to fix its pass defense, yet the corners can't cover and the linebackers—Ramik Wilson, in particular—can't help but bite on play action even when it's clearly play action. South Carolina's secondary issues and Tennessee's inability to generate pressure are a direct result of youth and inexperience. Missouri looked like it missed Michael Sam, Kony Ealy and E.J. Gaines immensely Saturday.

The SEC East is a dumpster fire at the moment, and once the SEC schedule begins in earnest, it'll act as gasoline.

 

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

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

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Louisiana Tech vs. Auburn Complete Game Preview

AUBURN, Ala. — It was far from the resounding-statement victory fans were hoping to see last Thursday night, but No. 5 Auburn escaped Manhattan with a tight 20-14 road win.

Now it's back to the friendly confines of Jordan-Hare Stadium for the Tigers, who have posted a pair of multi-touchdown home victories in the young campaign.

Saturday will be a sweet, yet early, homecoming game for Auburn against a Louisiana Tech team that reached rock bottom last weekend. The Bulldogs had some momentum going with a pair of wins following their blowout loss on opening day at Oklahoma, but Skip Holtz's team shockingly fell in an awful home opener to FCS opponent Northwestern State on a late field goal.

Louisiana Tech's big loss reinforced the fact that this should be nothing more than another tuneup game for an Auburn team that feels like it needs the tweaking after the narrow victory in Manhattan. Auburn should take care of business in this nonconference matchup, but the question will be how much the Tigers—especially the offense—will improve from the season's first road trip.

Before we get to a full breakdown of Auburn's homecoming matchup against a Louisiana Tech team looking to rebound from a crushing upset, here are all the basics:

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Fletcher Adams Commits to Mississippi State: Bulldogs Land 4-Star DT

Two days after a program-defining win at LSU, Mississippi State landed a program-boosting commitment from 4-star defensive tackle Fletcher Adams, one of the most productive defensive players in the 2015 class.

The 6'3", 260-pound lineman chose the Bulldogs over Florida and Ole Miss, narrowing his list and deciding on the Bulldogs last week before announcing his commitment Monday morning.

"It just came down to the wire and I needed to do what's best for me," Adams told Courtney Cronin of The Clarion-Ledger. "I grew up a [Mississippi] State Fan. Alabama, LSU, Ole Miss are the dream schools but you just have to do what's best for you. That was the main thing."

Adams is the No. 184 overall prospect and the No. 17 defensive tackle in the 2015 class, per the 247Sports composite rankings. He also checks in as the No. 5 player in the state of Mississippi, which is important given the Bulldogs' previous commitments from Jamal Peters and Malik Dear, the Nos. 1 and 4 in-state players, respectively.

Ole Miss made waves on the recruiting trail in 2012, and nothing it has done thus far in 2014 would seem to repel recruits, but Dan Mullen's team has owned the current cycle in the Magnolia State:

Adams is undersized for the tackle position, but he maximizes his impact with a high motor, impressive burst off the line and a nose for the football. According to ESPN Scouts Inc. (subscription required), he is a "strong, aggressive player...(who) could be a top-level prospect in time if he adds bulk and maintains quickness."

Whatever Adams lacks in ideal size—and no matter your opinion on "tweeners"—he makes up for with production. According to Bleacher Report's Tyler Donohue, he has 370 tackles (!!!) since 2011:

With Adams' commitment, Mississippi State moves up from No. 13 to No. 12 on the 247Sports team rankings—passing, of all teams, LSU. Its 28 total commitments are tied with South Carolina for the most in the country.

The rich are getting richer in the SEC West, which is already (by far) the nation's best division and is only getting better.

It Adams develops into anything like the last undersized "Fletcher" who played in Starkville, this defense might be scary good.

And soon.

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Adidas Unveils New Louisville 'ShowTime' Uniforms for Florida State Game

The Louisville Cardinals will have a new look when they take the field for their showdown with the Florida State Seminoles on Oct. 30.

On Monday, Adidas unveiled new "ShowTime" alternate uniforms for the Cardinals. The uniforms will certainly help the team stand out on the field.

Louisville's new alternate uniforms have camouflage accents, which are very apparent on the helmet and the cleats. Not only does the helmet feature camouflage accents, but it also has a chrome-red Cardinals logo. The Cardinals logo also appears on the pants.

The uniforms were made with Adidas' TECHFIT Shockweb technology. That means the uniform is light and clings to the body, which makes it tougher for defenders to tackle the player.

Although the Cardinals logo is found on other parts of the uniform, the jersey features a large, old English “L” on the sleeves. 

Check out the cleats:

The Cardinals hope that these new uniforms will help them knock off the Seminoles.

[adidas]

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