NCAA Football

Super 16 Poll Week 4: Complete Rankings Released for 2014 Season

It's hard to find anyone who isn't both excited and relieved that college football will finally have a playoff to determine a national champion this season. But there are some folks who believe that a four-team playoff doesn't go far enough.   

Consider the members of the Football Writers Association of America and the National Football Foundation among them. The two groups decided last February that they would conduct a weekly poll of the top 16 teams in the nation, essentially giving fans an idea of which teams would qualify for a 16-team playoff.

Fascinated? Then read on below, as we reveal those rankings, Bleacher Report's Top 25 and take a look back at the week that was.  

 

Polls

 

Analysis

It was perhaps the perfect week for the Super 16 poll to debut. A pretty quiet week in terms of top matchups meant the poll wasn't going to have to deal with a number of ranking controversies in its debut week.

The major questions for any pollsters this week were pretty simple: How far would USC drop after being upset by Boston College, and where do South Carolina and Georgia belong in the rankings after the Gamecocks beat the Bulldogs, 38-35, in the weekend's premier matchup?

Thankfully, we don't have to debate whether or not USC would belong in a 16-team playoff—and we'd certainly never have to debate that argument this early in the season—because the polarizing viewpoints on that topic would rage for days on end. Had they lost at home, it would be easier to argue they deserved no consideration for a top-16 spot, but a road loss is a road loss, even to a team you're expected to defeat. 

All is not lost for USC, of course. Far from it.

"The goal, obviously, of being Pac-12 champs is very alive for us," coach Steve Sarkisian told reporters after the game. "I thought we came out playing well, and for whatever reason I thought we lost it. I've got to figure that out."

Meanwhile, South Carolina saved its season, defeating Todd Gurley and Georgia. In fact, perhaps it was how Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo utilized Gurley—or perhaps more accurately, didn't utilize him—that was the difference in this game. Martin Rickman of SI.com took a closer look at that:

Still, star tailback Todd Gurley had just eight carries for 44 yards in the first half. The Bulldogs had just 14 for 71. Mason went 9-of-12 for 132 passing yards, but that left the Bulldogs in a 24-13 hole at the break.

Gurley finished with 131 yards and a touchdown, a two-yard scamper with 9:23 to play in the third quarter that cut South Carolina’s lead to 24-20. Yet on the next possession, after the Gamecocks had extended their advantage to 11, Bobo went away from the ground game. He called for an empty-backfield set on a key third-and-two. Mason’s pass fell incomplete and the Dawgs were forced to punt.

As Rickman would go on to note, "When a team has the best running back in college football, it should use him." Perhaps it will be a lesson that Georgia takes with them going forward. 

There were other upsets on the day, of course, as Virginia Tech fell to East Carolina, while Louisville was knocked off by Virginia. Suffice to say, neither team will be cracking the top 16 anytime soon. 

A few teams that should be entrenched in these rankings for much of the season find themselves atop the rankings, however. It should come as little surprise that some combination of Florida State, Oregon, Alabama and Oklahoma should be in the top four. Auburn, Texas A&M, Baylor and LSU have all impressed early as well.

If nothing else, the SEC teams should continue picking one another off and providing us all with very intriguing football as they do. One would imagine plenty of SEC squads will make their way into the top-16 throughout the season. 

And one would imagine that, while we won't actually get a 16-team playoff at the end of the season, it will be quite fun debating who would belong in such a system throughout the year.

 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Drake Now Wearing Marcus Mariota Jerseys at Concerts

Oh, Drizzy. Where would we be without your revolving-door fanship of all things shiny and winning?

Adding another front-runner to his stable of sporting allegiances, Drake walked out in two different Marcus Mariota jerseys at a concert on Saturday. 

Complex’s Chris Yuscavage reports that the singer/rapper/feeler of feelings was performing in Washington state when he decided to update his college football allegiances for this season’s Heisman Trophy race. 

Forgoing his former promotion of Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M, Drake alternated black and white Oregon jerseys in support of the Ducks quarterback—a Heisman hopeful entering the 2014-15 season.

Twitter user @WordonRd tweeted out a picture of Drake's Oregon gear. This is what a real Ducks fan looks like.

Drake—a member of the Nike family after signing with the sneaker giant in December of 2013—completed the circle of personal and corporate promotion by throwing on Air Jordan "Oregon Duck" 4s and 5s. 

So there you have it—Drake is an Oregon fan, and will be so until Mariota totes a clipboard in the NFL or Kenny Hill wins the Heisman. In any case, the state of Drake’s allegiances, as always, remains fluid and subject to change based on geography and success. 

Welcome him as one of your own, Oregon fans. Or shun him entirely. It doesn't really matter. He'll be on the wagon for the next two to three months regardless.

 

Follow Dan on Twitter for more sports and pop culture news.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Drake Now Wearing Marcus Mariota Jerseys at Concerts

Oh, Drizzy. Where would we be without your revolving-door fanship of all things shiny and winning? Adding another front-runner to his stable of sporting allegiances, Drake walked out in two different Marcus Mariota jerseys at a concert on Saturday...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

8 College Football Recruits Who Had an Explosive Week

Each week of the high school football season features explosive performances from America's premier college prospects. The second slate of September action didn't disappoint, as several standouts commanded an expansive spotlight and carried their respective squads to victory.

We go beyond the headlines every Monday, giving you the inside look at players who shined on game day. From a ferocious Florida rusher to gunslingers in the Lone Star State, here's our examination of who shined.

 

5-star RB Damien Harris, Madison Southern High School (Barea, Kentucky)

It's been quite a senior season already for the country's top-ranked running back. Last week, we witnessed Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops take a helicopter to watch Harris as he gained 318 yards and scored four touchdowns on 17 carries.

His most recent effort also warranted attention. The 5'11", 205-pound playmaker scored seven touchdowns, including a 91-yard kick return, in a 49-35 victory over Paul Dunbar High School, per Ben Roberts of Kentucky.com. He ran for 321 yards on 19 attempts and finished the game with more than 400 all-purpose yards.

Harris surpassed 6,000 career rushing yards and 100 touchdowns, continuing to work his way up the state's all-time records list. He needs just three more rushing scores to supplant former NFL MVP Shaun Alexander for fourth in that category.

Through his first four games, Harris has 1,019 yards on the ground, averaging 18 per carry, and 15 touchdowns (eight from 50 yards or more). His top five features Kentucky, Texas A&M, Florida, Ohio State and Alabama.

 

4-star Brandon Wimbush, St. Peter's Prep (Jersey City, New Jersey)

The Penn State commit should be making James Franklin very optimistic for life after star quarterback Christian Hackenberg's departure. Wimbush, who showed tremendous progression as a pocket passer this summer in Elite 11 action, has carried that momentum into his senior season.

The 6'2", 205-pound prospect posted incredible statistics Thursday night in a nationally televised matchup with fellow New Jersey powerhouse Bergen Catholic High School and coveted 2016 quarterback recruit Jarrett Guarantano.

Wimbush torched his opponents on ESPNU, utilizing elite arm strength and mobility throughout.

Wimbush completed 19 of 24 pass attempts for 330 yards and five touchdowns, per Braulio Perez of NJ.com. He added 72 yards and another score on the ground.

“It felt great and this was probably the biggest game of my career,” Wimbush told Perez. “It was exciting that it happened on ESPN too because I was able to show the world what I can do.”

Rated fourth nationally among dual-threat quarterbacks in 247Sports' composite rankings, Wimbush continues to validate the hype that warranted offers from Ohio State, Alabama and Miami, among others.

Though he's played less than six full quarters in two lopsided victories, Wimbush has managed to complete 76 percent of his passes, compile 500 total yards and account for nine total touchdowns.

 

4-star TE Alize Jones, Bishop Gorman High School (Las Vegas, Nevada)

Alize Jones' latest effort was a combination of elite athleticism and clutch timing. The nation's No. 1 tight end prospect helped national title contender Bishop Gorman rally from a late deficit against Southern California power Centennial High School.

The 6'4", 222-pound UCLA commit is used as a hybrid receiver in high school and simply couldn't be contained during crucial late stages of the contest. He caught the game-winning two-point conversion with just over two minutes remaining to give Bishop Gorman a 43-42 victory.

Aside from the successful conversion, Jones hauled in eight passes for 160 yards and two touchdowns, per the Las Vegas Review-Journal. He now has 369 yards and four touchdowns on 14 receptions through four games, putting him on pace to obliterate his 2013 totals (35 catches, 571 yards and 10 scores).

 

5-star QB Kyler Murray, Allen High School (Allen, Texas)

The staggering statistics this Texas A&M pledge has assembled during his brilliant high school career make big performances appear routine. But keeping things in perspective, each and every one is pretty special stuff.

Murray opened district competition with yet another virtuoso effort, throwing for 228 yards and five touchdowns on 13 pass completions, per John Machota of The Dallas Morning News. 

In typical fashion, the 5'10, 180-pound playmaker created opportunities as a rusher, surging downfield for another 137 yards.

"Individual accomplishments are cool, but at the end of the day it's all about getting wins," Murray told Bleacher Report this summer.

That's the only thing he's done in three seasons as a starter. Murray is now 29-0 at Allen and appears primed to track down a third straight state title.

After scoring 107 total touchdowns as a sophomore and junior, he's up to his old tricks again this season. Through three games, Murray has thrown for 1,002 yards, rushed for 427 yards and tallied 19 scores.

  

4-star RB Jacques Patrick, Timber Creek High School (Orlando, Florida)

Patrick ranks among the most coveted uncommitted prospects for a reason. He simply gets it done against top Florida talent on a weekly basis.

After rushing for 448 yards and six touchdowns in his first two games as a senior, Patrick picked things up in a 55-42 victory Friday evening. The 6'1.5", 230-pound running back raced for 327 yards and five touchdowns, further inflating lofty statistics.

Patrick, who reached 6,000 career rushing yards earlier this month, spent Saturday at Texas A&M. The Aggies are among several squads still jockeying for position in his recruitment, along with Alabama, Ohio State and Florida State.

  

3-star RB Rob Ennis, Millville High School (Millville, New Jersey)

The 5'10", 170-pound speedster shattered his own single-game school rushing record Friday night in a memorable season-opening victory. Ennis erupted for 315 yards and four scores on just 17 carries, resulting in a 39-24 win over Mainland.

He hit another gear in the second half, racing for touchdowns of 30, 52 and 68 yards, per Mike McGarry of The Press of Atlantic City.

"Breaking that record was a goal of mine coming into the season," Ennis told McGarry. "And it wasn't just me gaining those yards. I had all those guys blocking up front for me. They helped me break the record."

Ennis, a Purdue pledge, has rushed for nearly 3,000 yards since the start of his sophomore season and also received interest from the likes of Rutgers and Oregon.

 

3-star QB Tucker Israel, Lake Nona High School (Orlando, Florida)

Israel has quickly turned his senior season into an onslaught of high school record books in the Sunshine State.

The 6'0.5", 200-pound passer established two all-time Florida records Friday night while leading Lake Nona to a 35-14 victory over Colonial High School, per Bill Gronvold of the Orlando Sentinel.

He connected on 26 pass attempts, giving him the new state completions record (720). The previous mark (706) was held by Wake Forest freshman starter John Wolford.

Wolford also held the old career passing yardage record, which was vanquished by Israel during the game. He tallied 437 yards through the air, giving him 10,726 total passing yards.

Israel, a Clemson commit, through five touchdowns Friday. He will break the state record for scoring passes (126) with five more.

 

4-star QB Chason Virgil, West Mesquite High School (Mesquite, Texas)

The Mississippi State commit continues to play the best football of his career, operating with more polish than in previous seasons. Virgil decimated the Red Oak High School defense Friday night, keeping an unbeaten campaign intact.

He spread the ball in impressive fashion, finding four different receivers for scoring strikes, per Devin Hasson of the Mesquite News. His four touchdowns tosses led West Mesquite to a 51-7 win.

The Bulldogs appear set to bring in a passer making serious strides at the right time. Virgil has thrown for 635 yards and nine scores in the past two games. 

Recruit information and ratings courtesy of 247Sports.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

NCAA Football Picks: North Carolina Tar Heels vs. East Carolina Pirates Odds

State bragging rights will be on the line this Saturday afternoon at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium when the ACC’s North Carolina Tar Heels tangle with the AAC’s East Carolina Pirates. Game time is set for 3:30 p.m. (EDT), and the contest will be broadcast nationally on ESPNU.

North Carolina comes into this matchup 2-0 straight up after posting wins over Liberty and San Diego State, but it failed to cover against the spread, according to Cover’s betting trends, in either game as a double-digit favorite at home. The Tar Heels now have to go on the road. They are 3-7 ATS in their past 10 games away from home.

The Pirates followed up a tough 33-23 loss to South Carolina as 14-point road underdogs in Week 2 with a stellar performance: Last Saturday, East Carolina was a 9.5-point underdog playing on the road yet came away with a 28-21 win over then-No. 17 Virginia Tech, capturing the betting public’s full attention. East Carolina is now 7-1 against the spread in its past eight games.

 

North Carolina at East Carolina Betting Storylines

North Carolina came into the new season ranked No. 23 in the AP Top 25 preseason poll. While it has won both of its games by a combined 31 points, its stay in the rankings did not last long. Part of the reason is a defense that allowed 29 points to Division IAA Liberty and 27 points in a tight four-point victory against San Diego State.

The offense has done its part with a total of 87 points so far behind a balanced attack between the pass and the run. Tar Heels quarterback Marquise Williams has thrown for 424 yards and four touchdowns in his first two games while completing 67.2 percent of his 58 passes. However, his biggest contribution has been on the ground, with 115 yards and two scores on 18 rushing attempts. North Carolina has the offensive firepower to stand toe-to-toe with the Pirates as long as its defense can get off the field.

East Carolina joined the AAC this season after an extended stint in Conference USA, and it has immediately positioned itself as one of the top teams in the conference following its close call against the Gamecocks and its upset of Virginia Tech. A victory this Saturday could put the Pirates in position to possibly crack the Top 25 if enough higher-ranked teams lose.

East Carolina has done a great job getting out of the gate quickly, and the key to last Saturday’s upset was a 21-point first quarter that paced the win. Quarterback Shane Carden continues to impress with 1,031 yards passing in his first three games. He has thrown seven scoring strikes while completing 63.3 percent of throws. Justin Hardy has been on the receiving end of 23 balls for 267 yards, but Cam Worthy is the deep threat with an average of 27.5 yards per catch.

 

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

Pointspread: East Carolina -3

Total Line: OFF

According to Covers’ betting trends, the Tar Heels are 7-3 ATS in their last 10 games but just 6-13 ATS in their last 19 games following a SU win. The total has stayed “under” in 10 of their last 14 games overall.

The Pirates are a perfect 5-0 ATS in their last five home games and 4-0 ATS in their past four games against a team from the ACC. The total has stayed under in five of their last seven games against the ACC.

Head-to-head in this in-state rivalry, the favorite is 4-1 ATS in the past five meetings, and the total has stayed under in three of the last four games.

                                                             

College Football Picks: North Carolina at East Carolina Betting Predictions

I went against the Pirates last week, but I am not going to make that mistake again. This team is solid on both sides of the ball and highly motivated to keep knocking off teams from the ACC. They hammered North Carolina 55-21 last season as 12.5-point road underdogs. While the Tar Heels may have revenge on their minds, they are walking into a very difficult situation to actually get a win. Lay the three points and stick with East Carolina to make in two in a row over its rivals.

Take: # 332 East Carolina (-3) over North Carolina - 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 20

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

UCLA Football: Breakout Bruins of Nonconference Play

No. 12-ranked UCLA featured plenty of touted individual names when it kicked off the 2014 season, but some breakout Bruins through three games are playing key roles in the team's 3-0 start through nonconference play. 

UCLA's stars are indeed well-recognized. 

The nation got to see quarterback Brett Hundley, a preseason Heisman Trophy contender. Linebacker Myles Jack became a sensation for his two-way play at running back. Defensive lineman Eddie Vanderdoes was one of the most heavily recruited prospects in 2013, and captain linebacker Eric Kendricks has an NFL future.

The Bruins' stars have been vital to the unbeaten start, as have their breakout performers. New stars are emerging both on offense and defense and should be central to the Bruins' push for a Pac-12 Conference championship. 

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UCLA Football: Breakout Bruins of Nonconference Play

No. 12-ranked UCLA featured plenty of touted individual names when it kicked off the 2014 season, but some breakout Bruins through three games are playing key roles in the team's 3-0 start through nonconference play...

Begin Slideshow

Ohio State Regaining Confidence, but Big Questions Still Loom for Buckeyes

COLUMBUS, Ohio—Standing at the postgame podium on Saturday, Urban Meyer looked noticeably more relaxed, noticeably more confident and noticeably more satisfied than he did a week prior.

But the Ohio State head coach also wasn't about to be disillusioned, either.

Meyer was in a mood to celebrate following the Buckeyes' 66-0 victory over Kent State on, and rightfully so. Ohio State came out and dismantled an opponent from start to finish for the first time during the 2014 season, in an effort that Meyer described as "just what the doctor ordered."

And although he was happy that his team did what it needed to do with the opponent placed in front of it, Meyer also knows that the Golden Flashes aren't on the same level as the Virginia Tech squad that handed the Buckeyes their first loss of the season a week earlier.

Yes, Ohio State had just played up to its potential on both sides of the ball, but Meyer was aware that a significant variable was in play, leaving how much he would truly take away from the Buckeyes' most recent win to be determined.

"I thought our guys played well. Obviously a little talent advantage, but we had to have a game like this," Meyer said. "Normally that's a first game, especially when you have a young quarterback and a young offensive line. But I'm glad we played like we did."

That was the overarching theme of Ohio State's postgame media session, where the Buckeyes were pleased with their play but admitted that they still had questions about themselves due to the lower level of competition that they had just beat.

Heading into a bye week, Ohio State players and coaches alike will have plenty of time to continue to search for those answers as they prepare for a Sept. 27 date against their next quality opponent on the schedule, Cincinnati.

 

What Will Be the Buckeyes' Offensive Identity?

While the quality of opponents varied, the Buckeyes' offensive game plan appeared to change drastically in the week between OSU's loss to the Hokies and win over Kent State.

Gone were designed quarterback runs for J.T. Barrett, replaced with a more even attack that saw the freshman signal-caller attempt 30 passes and throw for 312 yards and six touchdowns in little more than a half of action. When the Golden Flashes came out in the 46 Bear defense that Virginia Tech stifled Ohio State with, the Buckeyes were unfazed, dinking and dunking their way to a five-play, 58-yard touchdown drive to start the game.

Swing passes to the running backs and a revitalization of the H-back position both appeared to take Kent State out of its copycat approach after the second series of the game—a nine-play, 65-yard Ohio State touchdown drive that ended with a touchdown catch by running back Rod Smith.

By the end of the first quarter alone, eight Buckeyes had tallied receptions, as Barrett looked more like the "distributor" that the OSU coaching staff touted him to be when he took over for an injured Braxton Miller two weeks before the start of the 2014 season.

"On purpose, and early in the first half I wanted to throw a lot. I wanted to force [Barrett] to make plays—and the receivers," Meyer said. "You can tell we're trying to get guys in open space to see what they can do because you've got Jalin Marshall, who's a very talented guy, Dontre Wilson—I could go down the list. But we're still trying to get our hands on exactly who's going to touch that ball."

Meyer also admitted that with a fourth of the season in the books, the Buckeyes are still trying to identify an overall offensive identity. While Miller put Ohio State on his back two years ago and Carlos Hyde emerged as one of the nation's best running backs last season, the Buckeyes currently find themselves without a bread and butter that they can go to with the ball on a consistent basis.

The game against Kent State was perhaps an indication of what the Ohio State offense would like to hang its hat on, as the Buckeyes emptied their backfield in favor of a pass-happy approach.

"I think he'll be a good empty quarterback, five-receiver set," Meyer said. "We're still, once again, figuring out exactly how we're going to be moving the ball as an offense once we start getting to the Big Ten season."

 

What Can the Ohio State Defense Do?

With Miller's return to full strength an assumption at the time, all eyes were on the Ohio State defense during the offseason, as new defensive coordinator Chris Ash took over following the Buckeyes' disastrous end to the 2013 campaign.

But while Ash spent the spring and fall camp implementing a new press-coverage scheme, Ohio State had to wait until the second week of the season to put it on display, thanks to Navy's triple-option attack in Week 1.

In its debut against the Hokies, Ash's attack drew mixed reviews, with the Buckeyes surrendering just 199 passing yards (and 324 total yards), but also allowing Virginia Tech to convert nine of its 17 third-down conversions. Against Kent State, the Ohio State defense was flat-out dominant, giving up just 126 total yards, recording three interceptions and holding the Golden Flashes to just two successful third-down conversions.

Of course, those aren't realistic numbers to expect from the Buckeyes defense on a consistent basis, as Kent State will likely be the worst team that Ohio State faces this season. Still, that didn't stop Ash from being encouraged by his unit's most recent performance, regardless of who it came against.

"Kent State, I know a lot of people say is an inferior opponent, but you still have to come out and play the game," Ash said. "I think we improved from last week. A lot of positives. We've got a lot of things we still need to improve upon, but that's what the bye week's for. I think the kids are seeing improvement and that's what's important."

Continuing to improve will be all the more important for Ohio State heading into its next game, as it prepares for a Cincinnati team that threw for 436 yards and scored 58 points in its season debut last weekend. With the Bearcats' 58-34 win over Toledo being played on Friday night, the Buckeyes got an early look at their next opponent from the team hotel, and they know that they'll have their work cut out for them on the defensive side of the ball.

"I watched Cincinnati last night and they're a very talented team," Meyer said on Saturday. "So we're going to put everything we can into it the next two weeks to win that game."

 

Just How Good Are the Buckeyes?

While nothing but positive vibes emanated from the Ohio State interview room on Saturday—and why would anything else after a 66-0 win?—one overarching question remained: Just how good are the 2014 Buckeyes?

The dominant victory over Kent State was impressive, but the Flashes' inherent inability almost made an asterisk necessary for Ohio State's most recent win. That was apparent in the answer of offensive coordinator Tom Herman, when asked what questions he still had about the Buckeyes heading into their bye week.

"If we can do it consistently, if we can play well against a team with the athletes that Cincinnati will have," Herman responded. "We're a work in progress in a lot of places. The biggest question mark other than guys continuing to get better and establish their role on offense is can we establish this type of success against teams that are going to have better athletes?"

With the Bearcats coming to town in two weeks, it shouldn't be long until Ohio State finds out the answer to that question. That's why Meyer is approaching the bye week with only a cautious optimism, well aware that the Buckeyes have yet to prove much of anything in the 2014 season.

"We're going to practice hard this week. A lot of what you do in a bye week is dependent on what kind of team you have. But our guys need repetitions," Meyer said. "Where are we and do I like where we're at? I think so. We're 2-1. You still have a sick feeling in your stomach about last week, but we're moving forward."

 

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

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Tennessee Football: Checking in on Progress of Vols' Top Freshmen

The Tennessee football team has been forced to play 22 true freshmen already in the first three games of the 2014 season. When that happens, some pretty harsh realities are inevitable.

A 34-10 setback at the hands of the fourth-ranked Oklahoma Sooners was the first tough lesson learned Saturday night in Norman, but it was also a game in which UT learned a lot about itself.

The Vols are green but growing. They battled. At times against OU, they played extremely well on both sides of the ball.

They found some wrinkles—finally—in the running game. They made a couple of big plays downfield. They hit hard and showed up on third down throughout the entire contest on defense.

A group of talented, coveted freshmen are playing all over the place, and they're improving with every rep they get.

With a bye week looming before SEC play starts on the road at Georgia, it's a good time to take an early-season assessment of how UT's most depended-upon first-year players are faring.

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College Football Rankings 2014: Updated Outlook on Top Week 4 Polls

What had the look of a boring week with little college football rankings implications on paper provided the wildest week of movement yet.

Go figure.

Last week, just one game featured a matchup between ranked teams. Of course, it wound up being the biggest upset of the week in a slate that featured several en route to a new-look set of rankings that may or may not stand the test of time.

Here is a look at the Amyway Coaches Poll and The Associated Press Top 25 after the dust settled on the unexpectedly entertaining week:

It was Boston College taking down USC that wound up as the biggest upset of the weekend, technically at least. ESPN Stats & Info provides the justification for the label: 

Regardless of the magnitude, the upset was a tad easy to see coming. Fresh off an upset of their own at The Farm over Stanford by just three points, Steve Sarkisian's team had to travel across the nation and somehow avoid an upset at the hands of a criminally underrated team.

The Eagles quietly flew under the radar into the matchup as one of the nation's most dangerous teams thanks to dual-threat quarterback Tyler Murphy. After two outstanding games before the Trojans came to town, the senior used the spotlight to throw for 54 yards and lead the team in rushing with 191 yards and a score on just 13 carries.

Known for his offense, Sarkisian notes that his defense has some work to do in the coming weeks, as captured by Scott Wolf of the Los Angeles Daily News:

Arguably the biggest upset in layman's terms was South Carolina taking care of business at home when Georgia, now formerly of the Top 10, came to town.

After a rocky start to the season in a blowout loss to Texas A&M, the Gamecocks got a titanic effort from quarterback Dylan Thompson (271 yards, three touchdowns) to get the 38-35 upset.

Yet the polls are the subject of much controversy on this very matter, as the Bulldogs remain ahead of the Gamecocks despite the loss. Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports describes this with emphasis:

Both teams get a shot at a ranked Missouri squad in the coming weeks, so both are teams to watch, as the current ranks could change in dramatic fashion.

Two teams fans should immediately note as absent after digesting the biggest upsets are Louisville and Virginia Tech.

Louisville was on the fringe at No. 21 last week and a rather large favorite on the road against Virginia, but Mike London's team once again proved defensively stout and got the two-point upset.

Virginia Tech, of upsetting Ohio State fame to ruin the polls, suffered a letdown and lost by a touchdown to an offensive-minded East Carolina team.

As far as a broad outlook goes, the grand meaning behind polls continues to be a topic of much debate now that the four-team playoff is set to change the landscape of the sport. As Stewart Mandel of Fox Sports points out, the impact a single loss can have on a team's playoff chances is difficult to discern, but we are surely going to find out:

The best part? Things will only get more complicated as the season continues.

Look at next week. Big dogs such as Florida State are back in action, with a matchup against Clemson in the cards. Auburn and Kansas State collide in a battle of ranked foes, and Oklahoma will have somewhat of an interesting test on its hands at West Virginia.

In other words, perhaps this week's unexpected shakeup on an unheralded slate was just a way to whet the appetite of fans when it comes to the rankings—things are just getting started.

To what end, nobody knows.

 

Stats via ESPN. Amyway poll via USA Today. AP poll via The Associated Press.

 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Keith Ford Injury: Updates on Oklahoma RB's Foot and Return

Oklahoma running back Keith Ford has a foot injury that could cost him to miss time for the Sooners in the coming weeks.

Jake Trotter of ESPN reported the difficult news for Oklahoma:

David Ubben of Fox Sports Southwest offered his thoughts on the situation:

Through three games, the sophomore back has exploded for the Sooners. Along with his 194 rushing and 100 receiving yards, Ford has registered multiple touchdowns in each game this season with five on the ground and one through the air in total.

The loss of Ford for multiple weeks will hurt the ground game, but Samaje Perine proved he's a reliable backup. Perine has already compiled 177 rushing yards and a touchdown with Ford carrying much of the load.

Sooners coach Bob Stoops noted Perine's ability following the Tennessee game, per Ryan Aber of The Oklahoman.

"Samaje gets in there in the second half, and again he’s fresh,” Stoops said. “He gets in there and he is pounding it. He is a strong, physical player. He has a great base to him. He does everything you want. He catches the ball. He was a big boost there in the second half."

Heading into a huge matchup with West Virginia, a lot more of the load will be on Perine's shoulders if Ford does miss time. Luckily, it appears he's comfortable in the backfield and reliable for the Sooners.   

Trevor Knight and the passing game will also be asked to do more with Ford missing time. He has six total touchdowns this year (four passing, two rushing) and will have to repeat that success against the Mountaineers and potentially TCU on the road Oct. 4.         

 

Follow @RCorySmith on Twitter.

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The SEC's Secondary Crisis

Birmingham, we have a problem.

The SEC, headquartered in Birmingham, has been known for decades as a conference that is driven by defense. Since 2012, however, things have changed.

An injection of creative offensive coaches combined with big, physical receivers and secondaries that struggle to keep up have transformed the league into the "Pac-12 East," where "just enough" defense is all a team needs to win at an elite level.

The secondary crisis has become even more apparent this season, as 12 of the 14 teams are giving up more than 200 yards per game through the air and six or more yards per attempt.

Never was that more prevalent than during Week 3 in Columbia, South Carolina, when Georgia's secondary—which is coordinated by Jeremy Pruitt, a secondary coach (and teacher) by trade—was lit up by South Carolina quarterback Dylan Thompson.

His stat line wasn't a video game line that jumps off the page, although it was solid. He completed 21 of 30 passes for 271 yards and three touchdowns. What was very concerning for Pruitt was the room South Carolina's wide receivers had to work with.

Nick Jones, Shaq Roland, Rory Anderson and the rest of the Gamecocks got so open that, at times, there wasn't a Bulldog within 15 yards of them.

"There were a myriad of issues for the Dawgs against South Carolina," said Michael Felder, Bleacher Report's lead college football video analyst and former defensive back at North Carolina.

"The general thing I noticed with the secondary was players a step or two away from where they needed to be to impact the play. As Jeremy Pruitt institutes his pattern-matching heavy schemes, that's to be expected at times. Players are pushing to get to landmarks in coverages and not relating to the players in front of them."

South Carolina's pass defense hasn't been much better, although it certainly looked improved in Game 3. The Gamecocks have still been lit up this year through the air, first by Texas A&M (511 yards) and then by East Carolina (321 yards).

Alabama's problem at cornerback was one of the hot-button topics of the offseason, and it popped back up again in the opener when West Virginia quarterback Clint Trickett threw for 365 yards. Eddie Jackson replacing Bradley Sylve in the starting lineup and Cyrus Jones' improvement between Weeks 1 and 2 has helped the Tide look better lately, but that could be as much—if not more—a product of weak competition than a sign of actual improvement.

"Eddie Jackson looks to be in midseason form which is amazing coming off a major knee surgery," said Felder. "Cyrus Jones has been night and day from not only the West Virginia game, but the entire 2013 campaign. This team is addressing its major issue, and that will help the rest of the defense click as they play tougher teams. Of course, FAU and Southern Miss make it easy for Jones to be more aggressive; it has to translate against the Ole Miss' and Texas A&M's of the world."

Auburn's pass defense has been on the express to struggle-town since Ellis Johnson took over as defensive coordinator prior to the 2013 season, Texas A&M's might as well run for mayor and the rest of the SEC's "elite" have been hit-or-miss over the last few years.

What's the issue?

The game has changed.

New, creative coaches have revolutionized the game in the SEC. It's no longer a "three yards and a cloud of dust" conference—it's a conference loaded with diverse offensive schemes with coaches who know the weaknesses of the defenses and choose proper times exploit those holes.

The dirty little secret is that it's not that much of an issue at all.

Back in the day, a common phrase was that "the best defense is a ball-control offense." That's changed a bit nowadays, because the best defense is a dynamic offense.

"The offenses put more pressure on everybody playing defense. The secondaries' issues just are more glaring because they are what a casual fan notices most," said Felder. "Georgia's linebackers jumping routes in a 'no cover' zone instead of hitting the top of their drops makes safeties appear clueless. Giving teams 'five Mississippi' to throw the ball makes safeties seem incapable of covering."

The SEC has also evolved into an "offense first" conference, for the most part.

Take Auburn, for example. 

The Tigers are nothing to write home about on defense. In fact, if you did write home about Auburn's offense, the letter would probably get lost in the mail. The offense, though, is so efficient, so dangerous and so consistent that it forces opposing teams to come off their game plan offensively. At that point, all it takes is one or two big plays at the right time to turn a close game into a blowout.

Times have changed. Half of the conference finished in the top 20 nationally in pass defense in 2008. Right now LSU and Ole Miss are the only two teams that appear in the top 20, and really are the only SEC teams in that neighborhood.

That's OK, though, because the definition of what makes a team elite has changed over the last few seasons, which means some of the secondary "issues" that have popped up lately are easily overcome.

 

Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer and video analyst for Bleacher Report and 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

Samuel Chi's Mock College Football Playoff Standings

With the advent of the College Football Playoff, the BCS and its standings have been consigned to the ash heap of history. The 13-member selection committee will make all the decisions. Polls and computer rankings (supposedly) will no longer matter. There will be no more standings and no more projections.

But that just can't be. College football has always been about rankings, from the preseason to the postseason. There's no way we should have to wait until the last week of October to find out where everyone stands. And there is a lot at stake here. 

Besides the four teams that will advance to the Playoff, there are eight other slots up for grabs for the New Year's Six bowl games. The highest-ranked champion of the non-power Group of Five conferences is guaranteed one of the spots.

Back in the spring, we experimented and tinkered to come up with a methodology that will generate a rankings system similar to what the committee might produce. Beginning this week, we will unveil our rankings every Monday morning to show you where everybody stands.

 

The Rankings 

(See methodology of standings

 

The Playoff Teams

1. Florida State—The Seminoles barely edged Oregon for the top spot, and they have an inviting path to repeat as national champions. All of their toughest remaining opponents—Clemson, Notre Dame, Boston College and Florida—are at home. And even with the addition of Louisville, the ACC doesn't look like it will provide much of a challenge. 

2. Oregon—The Ducks really have looked the most impressive so far among the top teams, especially with the second-half destruction of a good Michigan State team two weeks ago. The Pac-12 will not be a cakewalk, but with USC and Arizona State absent on the schedule, it enhances Oregon's chances to run the table.

3. Oklahoma—The Sooners defeated a pedestrian Tennessee team to wrap up their non-conference schedule without a blemish. Because there isn't a Big 12 title game, Oklahoma will have less margin for error than other power-five conference contenders. For OU, it could be one (loss) and done.

4. Auburn—The top four teams have separated themselves from the rest, which means there's a significant gap between No. 4 Auburn and No. 5 Alabama. But the Tigers have a brutal schedule ahead, with seven teams currently in the top 25 of our rankings on tap, beginning with this Thursday's non-conference game at Kansas State.

 

First Four Out 

5. Alabama—Don't fret, Tide fans, your team can easily play its way into the Playoff, but first and foremost it must win the Iron Bowl. Alabama's schedule isn't nearly as challenging as Auburn's, as it will play neither South Carolina nor Georgia, likely the two best teams in the SEC East.

6. Texas A&M—The Aggies shot up the rankings with their season- and SEC Network-opening rout at South Carolina and have been flying under the radar for a bit with a cupcake-y tour through Texas' lesser teams (Lamar, Rice and SMU). If A&M can somehow win the SEC West by getting by Auburn, Alabama and LSU, it'll be in the Playoff. 

7. LSU—Four teams in the SEC West are among the top seven teams in our rankings, which is what makes this the most competitive division in college football. The Tigers opened the season with a resounding win over Big Ten power Wisconsin, but most of their work is still ahead.

8. Baylor—Nobody really knows how good the Bears are after they rolled through their first three opponents by a cumulative score of 178-27. But this joke of a non-conference schedule might come back to haunt Baylor unless it can run through the Big 12 unscathed.

 

Other Fun Facts

* The SEC is dominating the standings, with five teams in the top nine and eight in the top 15. But that does not necessarily mean that it will land multiple teams in the Playoff, as the intra-conference fratricide will soon kick into full gear.

* After the second Saturday debacle, the Big Ten's chances of making the Playoff field looks pretty bleak. Michigan State, the highest-ranked B1G team at No. 13, might be the only one with a slim shot if it can win the conference. No other Big Ten team is higher than No. 20.

* Notre Dame is currently 10th, and with a remaining schedule that includes Stanford, Florida State, Arizona State and USC, it has a chance to crash the Playoff field if it can go undefeated. 

* BYU, at No. 18, might earn one of the New Year's Six bowl slots, though nothing is guaranteed for the independent team. Though they have a benign schedule that gives the Cougars a great shot at going undefeated, it remains unlikely that they can earn a spot in the Playoff.

* As has been the case since the latter years of the BCS, conference realignment has sucked almost all the oxygen out of the lesser conferences. Of the 44 teams ranked in our standings, only three come from the Group of Five conferences and just one in the top 25: No. 24 East Carolina (American), No. 34 Cincinnati (American) and No. 44 Marshall (C-USA).

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Kevin Olsen Arrested: Latest Details, Mugshot and More on Miami Hurricanes QB

Miami quarterback Kevin Olsen continued a tumultuous start to his tenure with the Miami Hurricanes.

WSVN-TV announced Olsen was arrested, while also providing his mugshot: 

Andy Slater of 940-AM WINZ and Manny Navarro of the Miami Herald passed along more information:

WPLG 10 News shared an image of Olsen leaving jail:

Miami was quick to discipline Olsen following the arrest, according to ESPN's Joe Schad:

Olsen started the offseason with hopes of playing a crucial role on the team, but was suspended for the season opener. Brad Kaaya earned the starting nod and has led the Hurricanes to a 2-1 record thus far.

Prior to the recent arrest, Olsen was improving in the eyes of coach Al Golden. Susan Miller Degnan of the Miami Herald provided a statement from Golden discussing Olsen last month:

Kevin has made a lot of progress this summer, he really has. He grew a lot as a person, so I’m anxious to see that [Tuesday]. That’s what I want to see, just how much he’s grown.

Just being in meetings, I can hear him. He’s more vocal, he’s more confident, understands the system a lot better and has had a lot of opportunities to grow since the spring.

With Kaaya still the starter and improving over the last two games, this shouldn't impact Miami on the field. While Olsen may have provided more depth, the position is set with others behind Kaaya looking for snaps.

As for Olsen, the former 4-star quarterback's career is now up in the air. Even if he can recover from the recent arrest, overtaking Kaaya and others for a role on the team seems like a tall task for the redshirt freshman.

 

Follow @RCorySmith on Twitter.

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LSU Fans Topple over While Necking at Death Valley

Love is patient. Love is kind. Love does not envy or boast, but it will force its whisky breath upon you before taking you on a 50-50 rail slide down the stadium bleachers.

Two LSU fans are likely icing their bruises and loins after a sloppy public makeout session ended in a tumble down the stands at Death Valley on Saturday.

Ostensibly bored with the Tigers’ 31-0 trouncing of Louisiana-Monroe, the couple decided to while away the time with an aggressive game of tonsil hockey.

Busted Coverage’s Joe Kinsey spotted footage of the saliva-swapping, which ended in an unceremonious tumble onto fans in the seats below.

As video evidence suggests, Bromeo might have overestimated his balance and strength in this endeavor. Despite his undoubtedly noble intentions, the young man’s attempt to sweep his partner off her feet ended shortly after hair-wrestling her face into his.

Fortunately, our knight in shining Polo managed to soften the young damsel’s landing, effectively cushioning their fall with his body and those of the fans below.

One day, decades from now, they’ll look back at this moment and laugh as their grandchildren tinker by the hearth.

“You know, kids, your grandfather used to be quite the tongue-jouster,” this woman might say. “I’ll never forget our first public makeout. We fell for each other so hard.”

 

Follow Dan on Twitter for more sports and pop culture news.

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College Football Betting: Odds Open for Week 4 Action

The No. 5 Auburn Tigers are a perfect 13-0 against the spread over their last 13 games.

They'll look to add another win and cover to their streak on Thursday night when they visit the No. 20 Kansas State Wildcats as nine-point road favorites.

Auburn is 3-0 and has covered in its last three regular-season road games. Kansas State has failed to cover the spread in each of its last three home games but is 15-3 straight up in its last 18 games at home.

In the only other game featuring two ranked teams this week, the No. 22 Clemson Tigers are 19.5-point underdogs, according to sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark, on the road against the No. 1 Florida State Seminoles.

Florida State is a perfect 18-0 SU over its last 18 games but is 0-3 ATS over its last three games after going 6-0 ATS in its previous six. The total has gone UNDER in four of Florida State's last five games.

The No. 2 Oregon Ducks are 24-point road favorites visiting the Washington State Cougars. Washington State is 5-2 SU and ATS over its last seven home games and 4-0 ATS in its last four games against the Oregon Ducks despite an 0-4 SU record over that stretch.

The Cougars have played to four straight OVER results in their last four games at home.

Something has to give when the No. 3 Alabama Crimson Tide host the Florida Gators as 14.5-point home favorites. The Crimson Tide are 0-5 ATS in their last five games as a betting favorite but are also 5-0 ATS in their last five home games against SEC opponents.

One of those streaks will come to an end this Saturday at home against Florida.

The No. 4 Oklahoma Sooners have one of the toughest tests among the nation's top teams this week visiting the West Virginia Mountaineers as an 11.5-point road favorites, according to sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark.

West Virginia pushed Alabama hard in a 33-23 loss as a 22-point underdog in Week 1 and is off to a 2-1 SU and 3-0 ATS start to the season. Oklahoma is 9-1 SU and 7-3 ATS over its last 10 road games.

 

Week 4 Opening college football lines, gathered by Odds Shark.

Auburn at Kansas State 6.5   Connecticut at South Florida -2.5   Troy at Georgia -35.5   Georgia Tech at Virginia Tech -6   Idaho at Ohio -13   Eastern Michigan at Michigan State -45   Southern Illinois at Purdue OFF   Old Dominion at Rice -10   Bowling Green at Wisconsin -17   Iowa at Pittsburgh -4   Western Illinois at Northwestern OFF   Tulane at Duke -17.5   Maryland at Syracuse -1.5   Delaware St at Temple OFF   Maine at Boston College OFF   Marshall at Akron 12.5   Hawaii at Colorado -7   Army at Wake Forest -3   Central Michigan at Kansas OFF   Virginia at BYU -13.5   Florida at Alabama -16   North Carolina at East Carolina 2   Norfolk St at Buffalo OFF   Nicholls State at North Texas OFF   Louisville at Florida International 27   Texas A&M at Southern Methodist 28   Rutgers at Navy OFF   Utah at Michigan -6.5   San Jose State at Minnesota -6.5   Texas State at Illinois -14   Massachusetts at Penn State -30   Indiana at Missouri -16   Florida Atlantic at Wyoming -3.5   Bethune-Cookman at Central Florida OFF   Presbyterian at North Carolina State OFF   Georgia State at Washington -36.5   Northern Illinois at Arkansas -8   Middle Tennessee at Memphis -7.5   Ball State at Toledo -9   Murray State at Western Michigan OFF   Northwestern State at Louisiana Tech OFF   Miami (Ohio) at Cincinnati -32   Utah State at Arkansas State OFF   Appalachian State at Southern Miss -4   Mississippi State at LSU -7   Ga Southern at South Alabama -2.5   South Carolina at Vanderbilt 20.5   Oklahoma at West Virginia 11   Miami at Nebraska -8   Clemson at Florida State -20.5   New Mexico at New Mexico State OFF   UNLV at Houston OFF   California at Arizona -16   S. Utah at Fresno State OFF   Louisiana-Lafayette at Boise State -17   Oregon at Washington State 19.5   San Diego State at Oregon State -8.5  

Stats and odds courtesy of Odds Shark.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Auburn vs. Kansas State Complete Game Preview

AUBURN, Ala. — After a pair of big home wins, here comes the first major test of many for the Auburn Tigers.

Auburn's first road trip of the 2014 season is destined for unfamiliar territory: a non-conference opponent—and a ranked one at that—on a Thursday night.

No. 20 Kansas State, the first of what is currently seven ranked opponents in Auburn's next 10 games, presents an interesting matchup for the defending SEC champions.

Longtime head coach Bill Snyder consistently puts out a veteran team filled with experienced JUCO players and returning starters who rarely make big mistakes and excel in run defense. Offensively, quarterback Jake Waters is a dangerous dual threat with designed runs and big-time passes, usually to star wide receiver Tyler Lockett.

Auburn's high-powered offense will matchup with a disciplined defense that consistently faces up-tempo attacks in the Big 12. With this nationally televised showdown marking just the second time Kansas State has faced a ranked non-conference opponent under Snyder, former Kansas JUCO star Nick Marshall and Co. will have to face a loud and hostile Manhattan, Kansas, crowd amped for one of its biggest home games in recent years.

Before we get into the details of this highly anticipated matchup between SEC and Big 12 powers, here are all the basics:

Begin Slideshow

Georgia vs. Troy Complete Game Preview

After a brutal two-game opening stretch that began with a big win over Clemson and concluded with a disappointing loss to South Carolina, the Georgia Bulldogs will get a chance to iron out a few wrinkles against the Troy Trojans on Saturday.

While this game is rightfully expected to be a win for head coach Mark Richt's Dawgs, plenty can be learned and accomplished against less formidable opposition.

Here's what you need to know about this game:

Date: Saturday, Sept. 20

Time:  12 p.m. ET

Place: Sanford Stadium, Athens, Georgia

TV: SEC Network

Radio:  Georgia Bulldog Radio Network, Troy Sports Radio Network

Spread: Georgia by 35.5 per Odds Shark

  

Unless otherwise noted, all quotes obtained firsthand and all stats from Sports-Reference.com.

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Notre Dame Football Recruiting: Latest Updates on 2015 Commits, Visits, Targets

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — After a strong summer stretch of landing commitments, it has been a bit more than two months since Notre Dame football landed its last pledge.

But the Irish have been active on the recruiting circuit. Their class of 2015 stands at 17 members, and they’ll be looking to continue to fill out the group as the season progresses.

Notre Dame hosted arguably its biggest recruiting weekend of the season when it faced Michigan two weeks ago under the lights at Notre Dame Stadium.

You know its a big @NDFootball recruiting weekend when the candy store is in full effect... pic.twitter.com/epLS4fXQTE

— Dave Peloquin (@dpeloqu1) September 4, 2014

The Irish followed that up with a trip to Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis to square off with Purdue in the Shamrock Series—a matchup replete with new Under Armour uniforms specially made for the occasion for Notre Dame.

Getting packed up for the #ShamrockSeries, who's coming to Indy? https://t.co/cyVOXGT7w1

Notre Dame Football (@NDFootball) September 11, 2014

Stopped by @NDFBEquipment office to see the #ShamrockSeries helmets up close with some contact marks set in place. pic.twitter.com/SKX4T0DVZl

— Dave Peloquin (@dpeloqu1) September 10, 2014

Three weeks into the regular season and with the Irish heading into their first bye week, let’s check in on some of the happenings in Notre Dame’s class of 2015.

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Meet 2016 Monster Running Back Elijah Holyfield, Evander Holyfield's Son

Elijah Holyfield is a 4-star running back in the 2016 class. Son of heavyweight boxing legend Evander Holyfield, Elijah has the size and strength to dominate on the field.

The Atlanta-based ball-carrier recently took some time to talk with Bleacher Report about everything from his father's influence to his future plans. 

How well do you think he will do at the collegiate level?

Watch the video and let us know!


Star rankings via 247Sports.

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