NCAA Football

Stanford Cardinal vs. Arizona State Sun Devils: Betting Odds and Prediction

Stanford owns the rivalry with Arizona State as of late, winning the last four meetings — including last year's Pac -12 Championship Game —and going 3-0-1 against the spread in the process...

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Rutgers Scarlet Knights vs. Ohio State Buckeyes Betting Odds and Prediction

With a pair of road upsets to their credit already this season, the Scarlet Knights of Rutgers are now 7-2 against the spread in their last nine games as road dogs. They'll put that trend on the line when they venture into unknown territory to provide the opposition for homecoming at the Horseshoe against Ohio State Saturday afternoon.

 

Point spread: The Buckeyes opened as 19.5-point favorites at Ohio Stadium, according to sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark. (Line updates and matchup report)

 

College football pick via Odds Shark computer: 40.3-23.1 Buckeyes

 

Why the Rutgers Scarlet Knights can cover the spread

The Knights are 5-1 straight up, 4-2 ATS and 1-1 in Big Ten play this season after beating Michigan 26-24 two weeks ago. They then had last week off. Rutgers outgained the Wolverines 476-336 and converted eight of 16 third downs into first downs with help from a career day from senior quarterback Gary Nova, who threw for 404 yards and three touchdowns with zero interceptions.

The Knights could have been 6-0 on the season; their only loss so far was a 13-10 decision to Penn State in a game they led 10-0 at the half.

 

Why the Ohio State Buckeyes can cover the spread

Despite losing quarterback Braxton Miller before the season even started, the Buckeyes are off to a 4-1 start, and 4-1 ATS, after winning at Maryland two weeks ago 52-24, easily covering the spread as seven-point road favorites. OSU outgained the Terrapins 533-310, outrushed them 269-66, held the ball for almost 37 minutes and picked off Terps quarterbacks four times.

The Buckeyes also got 139 yards rushing from Ezekiel Elliott and four touchdown passes from J.T. Barrett. Ohio State has scored 168 points over its last three games; who needs Braxton Miller when you're putting up numbers like that?

 

Smart pick

Ohio State is probably going to win this game, but Rutgers just might have enough talent and experience to keep this one close. The Knights will have to do a better job of running the ball than they did against Michigan, but even just 120-130 yards might be enough to cover the spread. Rutgers is also 3-1 ATS as a double-digit dog under coach Kyle Flood.

And should the Buckeyes build a lead, coach Urban Meyer might be tempted to empty the bench, being homecoming and all. So the pick here goes with the underdog Knights, plus the points.

 

Betting trends

  • Rutgers is 3-7 SU in its last 10 games on the road
  • Ohio State is 22-3 SU in its last 25 games

 

All point spread and lines data courtesy of Odds Shark; all quotes gathered firsthand unless otherwise noted. Check out Twitter for injury and line-movement updates and get the free odds tracker app.

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Oklahoma State Cowboys vs. TCU Horned Frogs: Betting Odds, Analysis, Prediction

The TCU Horned Frogs will look to end a five-game winning streak for the Oklahoma State Cowboys when they meet Saturday in a key Big 12 matchup. The Horned Frogs are coming off a tough 61-58 loss at Baylor last week and have dropped the last two meetings with Oklahoma State both straight up (SU) and against the spread (ATS).

 

Point spread: The Horned Frogs opened as 10-point favorites at Amon G. Carter Stadium, according to sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark (Line updates and matchup report).

 

College football pick via Odds Shark computer: 39.6-32.1 Horned Frogs

 

Why the Oklahoma State Cowboys can cover the spread

The Cowboys have been on a roll since losing to defending national champion Florida State 37-31 in the season opener. They will be playing just their second true road game of the season after winning 27-20 at Kansas last week. They failed to cover the spread as 20-point favorites.

However, four of the team’s other games during the winning streak have been decided by 10 points or more. Oklahoma State is 3-1 ATS in its last four games as a road underdog and 3-1 vs. the line in its past four road games against Big 12 opponents. The Cowboys will also be facing a TCU team that is just 2-7 ATS in its last nine home games against conference foes.

 

Why the TCU Horned Frogs can cover the spread

The Horned Frogs may find it difficult to get over last Saturday’s loss to the Bears since they blew a 21-point lead in the fourth quarter. They led 58-37 with 11:38 remaining but saw Baylor storm back with 24 unanswered points to close out the game. Still, TCU covered the seven-point spread and has gone 7-0 ATS in its last seven games dating back to last season.

Oklahoma State is not the same caliber of opponent as the Bears, and that close loss for the Horned Frogs may actually help give them some extra confidence in this one. TCU had won its previous four games, including a 37-33 win over Oklahoma two weeks ago as a 3.5-point home underdog.

 

Smart pick

Whoever drops this game will have two losses with the winner staying alive in the hunt for the Big 12 title. The Cowboys are still unbeaten in conference play at 3-0 but have a tough schedule ahead of them with four of their last six games away from home.

This meeting with the Horned Frogs begins that stretch, and all four road opponents are ranked within the Top 15. In fact, the only ranked opponent Oklahoma State has faced this year is the Seminoles in the season opener. A big step up in competition will hurt the Cowboys here in this spot as TCU covers its eighth straight game.

 

Betting trends

  • Oklahoma State is 4-1 SU in its last five games on the road.
  • TCU is 5-0 ATS in its last five games.

 

All point spread and lines data courtesy of Odds Shark; all quotes gathered firsthand unless otherwise noted. Check out Twitter for injury and line-movement updates and get the free odds tracker app.

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Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. Florida State Seminoles Odds and Prediction

The Florida State Seminoles take a 22-game winning streak into arguably their toughest matchup of the season Saturday when they host the unbeaten Notre Dame Fighting Irish. The defending national champion Seminoles have struggled to stay motivated in trying to repeat this year, failing to cover the spread in six of their last seven games.

 

Point spread: The Seminoles opened as 13.5-point favorites at Doak Campbell Stadium, according to sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark. (Line updates and matchup report)

 

College football pick via Odds Shark computer: 42.0-26.8 Seminoles

 

Why the Notre Dame Fighting Irish can cover the spread

Notre Dame is a talented offensive team that can test Florida State’s defense more than most of the team’s previous opponents. The Fighting Irish have scored 30 points or more in five of their six games this season, the exception being a 17-14 home win over a Stanford squad that has not allowed more than 17 points to any foe in 2014.

They were three-point underdogs in that game and are coming off a 50-43 victory against North Carolina last Saturday. Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson threw for 300 yards with three touchdowns and one interception in the latest win and will be the key against the Seminoles.

 

Why the Florida State Seminoles can cover the spread

Florida State certainly seems to play to the level of its competition, and hosting a top team could be exactly the type of motivation the team needs right now. The Seminoles also fell from the top spot in the polls for the first time this season despite taking care of business in a 38-20 road win at Syracuse last week, which could motivate them even more.

They have risen to the occasion whenever needed this year, and reigning Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston had maybe his best game of the season against the Orange with 317 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions.

 

Smart Pick

The Fighting Irish have seen Golson lead them to 18 wins in his last 19 games, with the lone loss during that stretch coming against Alabama in the BCS Championship Game two years ago. Golson missed all of last season due to an academic suspension and will go head-to-head with Winston in a Heisman showcase game. Notre Dame has gone 4-0 against the spread in its last four games as an underdog, winning three of them straight up.

While the Irish may find it tough to end Florida State’s winning streak on the road, double digits is a lot to lay with a Seminoles team that only covered the spread this year in a 43-3 rout of Wake Forest two weeks ago. Oddsmakers continue to give the defending national champs too much respect, and that will show again here.

 

Betting trends

  • Notre Dame is 8-3 SU in its last 11 games on the road.
  • The total has gone under in six of Florida State's last nine games.

 

All point spread and lines data courtesy of Odds Shark, all quotes gathered firsthand unless otherwise noted. Check out Twitter for injury and line movement updates and get the free odds tracker app.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Kansas State Wildcats vs. Oklahoma Sooners Betting Odds: Analysis and Prediction

One of the great victories in Kansas State football history, and the game that validated Bill Snyder as one of the best coaches in the business, came in the 2003 Big 12 Championship Game—a stunning 35-7 rout of Oklahoma. However, since that game, the Wildcats have lost six of seven meetings with the Sooners, going 3-4 against the spread. Kansas State will try to turn around that trend when the teams meet again Saturday afternoon in Norman.

 

Point spread: Sooners opened as 12-point favorites at Memorial Stadium, according to sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark (line updates and matchup report).

 

College football pick via Odds Shark computer: 39.3-24.3 Sooners

 

Why the Kansas State Wildcats can cover the spread

The Wildcats are 3-0 against the spread in their last three games after beating Texas Tech 45-13 two weeks ago, covering as two-touchdown favorites.

Kansas State then had last week off. The Wildcats, 4-1 overall and 2-0 in Big 12 play, grabbed an early 17-0 lead over the Red Raiders and then coasted home from there, eventually outgaining Tech 535-347, holding the ball for 40 minutes and picking off Texas Tech quarterback Davis Webb four times.

Meanwhile, Wildcats quarterback Jake Waters threw for 290 yards and four scores and ran for 105 yards and another touchdown. On the season, Kansas State is averaging 189 yards on the ground while allowing just 81.

 

Why the Oklahoma Sooners can cover the spread

The Sooners recovered from a loss to TCU two weeks ago to beat Texas 31-26 in the Red River Shootout last week. Oklahoma had an off day offensively, garnering only 232 yards, but returned both a kickoff and an interception for touchdowns.

The Sooners haven't lost two games in a row since 2000. For the season, Oklahoma—now 5-1 overall and 2-1 and tied for fourth place in the Big 12—is outrushing foes by a margin of 191-116 yards per game while averaging 41 points per game.

 

Smart pick

Over the last 10 seasons, including the 2003 conference championship game, Oklahoma has been favored over Kansas State by double digits six times. The Wildcats covered that number in four of those games. Kansas State is also 12-1 ATS the last 13 times it's been dogged on the road, so the smart money here is with the underdog Wildcats.

 

Betting trends

  • Kansas State is 2-4 straight up in its last six games when playing on the road against Oklahoma.
  • Oklahoma is 7-3 ATS in its last 10 games.

 

All point spread and lines data courtesy of Odds Shark. All quotes gathered firsthand unless otherwise noted. Check out Twitter for injury and line-movement updates, and get the free odds tracker app.

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Georgia Bulldogs vs. Arkansas Razorbacks Betting Odds: Analysis and Prediction

Even though they just came up with an impressive victory at Missouri, the Georgia Bulldogs are only 2-5 against the spread in their last seven road games, and 1-4 ATS in their last five SEC road bouts. The Arkansas Razorbacks, on the other hand, are 3-0 ATS in their last three home games, including a near-upset of Alabama last week. The 'Dawgs and the Hogs get it on Saturday afternoon in Little Rock.

 

Point spread: Bulldogs opened as three-point favorites at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium, according to sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark. (Line updates and matchup report)

 

College football pick via Odds Shark computer: 31.2-26.9 Bulldogs

 

Why the Georgia Bulldogs can cover the spread

If the Bulldogs can beat Missouri in Columbia 34-0 without running back Todd Gurley, why couldn't they beat the Razorbacks in Little Rock? Georgia outgained Mizzou last week 379-147, racked up 210 yards on the ground, held the Tigers to 50 yards rushing, won the time of possession by a lopsided 42-18 margin and forced five turnovers.

That's how you win games and cover spreads. In place of Gurley freshman Nick Chubb ran 38 times for 143 yards and a touchdown. On the season the Bulldogs, now 5-1 overall, 3-1 and in first place in the SEC East, rank 12th in the nation in both rushing at 276 yards per game and in run defense, allowing just 102 yards per game.

 

Why the Arkansas Razorbacks can cover the spread

The Razorbacks seem to be making progress under Coach Bielema, considering last year they lost to Alabama 52-0 but just lost to the Tide by a 14-13 score last week. Arkansas actually outgained 'Bama 335-227 and won time of possession by a 34-26 margin, but the Razorbacks committed three turnovers and had an extra-point attempt blocked.

The Hogs, now 3-3 SU, 5-1 ATS on the season, have outrushed opponents by a 279-127 yards-per-game margin. They've also covered the spread in each game in which they've outrushed foes.

 

Smart Pick

Arkansas is still winless in 11 SEC games under Coach Bielema, but it's getting closer to snapping that streak. The Hogs played Auburn to a tie into halftime in this year's SEC opener, took Texas A&M to overtime before losing and lost by a point to Alabama. Georgia owns an edge on defense, but it's about time Arkansas broke through. So the pick here goes with the home-dog Hogs.

 

Betting trends

  • Georgia is 2-5-1 ATS in its last eight games on the road.
  • Arkansas is 3-12 SU in its last 15 games.

 

All point spread and lines data courtesy of Odds Shark, all quotes gathered firsthand unless otherwise noted. Check out Twitter for injury and line movement updates and get the free odds tracker app.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Fresno State Bulldogs vs. Boise State Broncos: Odds, Analysis and Prediction

The Boise State Broncos hope to continue their success against the Fresno State Bulldogs when they meet Friday night in a Mountain West Conference matchup.

The Broncos are a remarkable 12-1 against the spread in the last 13 meetings with the Bulldogs despite going just 3-13 ATS in their past 16 home games against conference opponents.

 

Point Spread: The Broncos opened as 16-point favorites at Bronco Stadium.

Odds Shark Computer Pick: Broncos 42.4, Bulldogs 31.1

 

Why the Fresno State Bulldogs Can Cover the Spread

Fresno State is 6-2 ATS in its last eight road games against Mountain West foes, and one of the losses came at UNLV last Saturday. The Bulldogs lost to the Rebels 30-27 in overtime but nearly rallied back for a victory with a strong second half that saw them outscore the home team 27-10 after the intermission.

Fresno State quarterback Brian Burrell had one of his best games of the season in defeat, throwing for 310 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions.

The Bulldogs had won their previous three games both SU and ATS after starting the season 0-3 straight up and ATS.

 

Why the Boise State Broncos Can Cover the Spread

Boise State has dominated Fresno State at home, but the team has had trouble covering the spread against other Mountain West teams. The Broncos have gone 3-1 ATS in their last four home games overall but have not played there since beating Louisiana-Lafayette 34-9 a month ago as 17.5-point favorites.

Three of their past four games have been on the road, including a 51-46 victory at Nevada last week as three-point favorites.

Boise State quarterback Grant Hedrick threw for 346 yards against the Wolf Pack with two touchdowns and one interception. Meanwhile, running back Jay Ajayi totaled 152 rushing yards and three touchdowns.

 

Smart Pick

With two high-scoring teams, bettors might assume the over is the play. However, the betting trends favor the under with what could be a big number on the total.

The under has cashed in the last three games for the Bulldogs, who have played better defense following a rough start to the season.

Fresno State had given up an average of more than 55 points during an early three-game losing streak but has allowed fewer than 21 per game over the past four. The under is 4-1 in the last five road games against Mountain West opponents for the Bulldogs and 8-3 in Boise State's last 11 home games vs. conference foes.

The Broncos have also seen the under cash in each of the last two home meetings.

 

Betting Trends

  • Fresno State is 1-7 SU in its last eight games when playing Boise State.
  • Boise State is 5-0 ATS in its last five games when playing at home against Fresno State.

 

All point spread and lines data courtesy of Odds Shark, all quotes gathered firsthand unless otherwise noted. Check out Twitter for injury and line movement updates and get the free odds tracker app.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Bowl Projections 2014: Updated Predictions for Top 25 Teams Before Week 8

A wacky opening seven weeks of the 2014 college football season have turned bowl predictions upside down as we enter a Week 8 slate that promises to shake things up even more.

SEC powerhouses Auburn and Alabama have plummeted from the summit of the rankings after slip-ups in recent weeks, but they were quickly replaced. Mississippi State has taken a stranglehold of the No. 1 spot after three straight Top 10 wins, while Ole Miss has inserted itself into the College Football Playoff discussion as well.

There is still plenty of time left for things to change from top to bottom, as the meat of the conference slate awaits and some of the biggest tests for these national title contenders have yet to come.

Alas, here's a look at how the bowl schedule—highlighted by four CFP teams—should currently play out.

The Associated Press Top 25 poll is available here.

 

Projected CFP Teams

Mississippi State

Mississippi State had its chance to prove its early-season success wasn't a fluke, and it came on the biggest stage possible. The Bulldogs toppled the reigning SEC champion Auburn Tigers at home—a victory that propelled them to No. 1 in the land.

Just five weeks ago, Dan Mullen's squad didn't even appear in the rankings. Now, there's no one ahead of them. 

Paul Finebaum of ESPN also noted the Bulldogs were picked fifth in a division they now lead:

Dak Prescott didn't have his best game throwing the ball against Auburn, but still catapulted himself to the forefront of the Heisman Trophy conversation. Along with 14 touchdowns through the air, he has 576 rushing yards and eight scores on the ground.

Some of Mississippi State's toughest tests lie ahead. The Bulldogs will go to Alabama on Nov. 15 and play the Egg Bowl against Ole Miss in Oxford to end the season.

The Bulldogs will be able to prove once again in those games that they belong, and if they happen to enter the SEC championship undefeated, even a loss there might not be enough to bounce them from the CFP.

 

Florida State

Without losing a single game over the last two seasons, the Florida State Seminoles have been knocked from their perch of No. 1 with Mississippi State's meteoric rise to stardom.

And that doesn't sit right with ESPN's Joey Galloway, per ESPN College Football:

It's not about what they did last season, but rather what has transpired in 2014. The Seminoles' national title may have carried weight entering the year, but it's a lot harder to put that into account when Florida State has displayed numerous deficiencies throughout the year.

That doesn't change the fact that they're 6-0, however, but it will be easier said than done advancing to 7-0. The Seminoles face their toughest test of the season over the weekend when No. 5 Notre Dame comes to Tallahassee. 

Florida State has shown flashes of the elite play that paved the way to an undefeated season last year, but also plenty of problems in between. Saturday's test against the Fighting Irish should answer most of the questions folks have about Jimbo Fisher's squad.

 

Ole Miss

Not to be outdone by their in-state rivals, the Ole Miss Rebels still find themselves comfortably in position for a spot in the CFP even with Mississippi State one-upping them in the standings.

When you play in the SEC, nothing is ever comfortable. But the Rebels have been defying that as of late, with a road drubbing of Texas A&M coming on the heels of an upset of Alabama—the program's biggest win in decades.

Smart, cerebral play from Bo Wallace has put Ole Miss in great position to move the ball at ease offensively, but a treacherous defensive line has been wreaking havoc on opposing quarterbacks, as Josh Ward of The Sports Animal noted:

Against Tennessee's youthful offensive line on Saturday, Ole Miss should continue getting after the quarterback and leading the way to wins. The Rebels face LSU and Auburn before the Egg Bowl, so their resolve will be tested once again before going up against their in-state foes.

Until they prove otherwise, though, the Rebels are more than deserving of a CFP spot.

 

Baylor

On the cusp of an embarrassing home defeat to TCU, Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty decided an early Big 12 dud wasn't his team's fate. He threw six touchdowns and over 500 yards, coming back from a 21-point fourth-quarter deficit to beat the ninth-ranked Horned Frogs.

That win kept Baylor in the CFP's final spot in a season where no one had convincingly made a case for No. 4, but there are still question marks as to how they would perform in the playoff, per Pete Roussel of 247Sports:

It wasn't pretty and there are certainly some defensive woes needing correction, but one of the Bears' biggest tests of the season is behind them. They'll have to face Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Kansas State—all currently in the Top 15—before the season is done.

With no championship game in the Big 12, though, the Bears could conceivably lose one of those games and still make the CFP—so long as they can hold off their conference foes in the standings.

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Baylor Bears vs. West Virginia Mountaineers Odds, Analysis and Prediction

Baylor and West Virginia have played two crazy games since the teams became Big 12 rivals a couple of years ago, combining to score an amazing 248 points in two contests. As one might expect, both games flew over their totals. How many points might the Bears and the Mountaineers put up when they meet Saturday afternoon in Morgantown?

 

Point spread: The Bears opened as 9.5-point favorites at Mountaineer Field at Milan Puskar Stadium, according to sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark (line updates and matchup report).

 

College football pick via Odds Shark computer: 53.8-31.6 Bears

 

Why the Baylor Bears can cover the spread

The Bears are 6-0 straight up, 4-1-1 against the spread and 3-0 in Big 12 play after rallying to beat TCU last week 61-58. Baylor allowed the Frogs to score touchdowns on both a kickoff return and an interception return and trailed 58-37 with 12 minutes to go. Then, the Bears scored 24 straight points, the last three on a short field goal on the last play of the game to steal the victory.

The Bears racked up 782 yards of offense on what is supposed to be a pretty good TCU defense. Quarterback Bryce Petty, who struggled in the previous game against Texas, threw for 510 yards and six touchdowns. For the season, Baylor still leads the nation in both total offense and scoring and ranks 10th in total defense.

 

Why the West Virginia Mountaineers can cover the spread

The Mountaineers are 4-2 SU, 3-3 ATS, and 2-1 in the Big 12 after coming from behind to beat Texas Tech last week 37-34. West Virginia trailed the Red Raiders 34-20 with seven minutes to go but tied the score with two minutes left and then won it on Josh Lambert's 55-yard field goal at the buzzer.

Led by senior quarterback Clint Trickett, who has completed 69 percent of his passes this year with 12 touchdown throws against four interceptions, the Mountaineers rank eighth in the country in total offense, averaging 552 yards per game. And the West Virginia defense, which allowed 455 yards and 33 points per game last year, is playing 60 yards and six points per game better so far this season.

 

Smart pick

Baylor is moving up in the rankings with its eyes on the prize of not just a repeat Big 12 championship but also a berth in this season's College Football Playoff. And getting a good team on the road at a discounted spread is often a good bet. So the smart money in this spot resides with the Bears, minus the points.

 

Betting trends

  • Baylor is 7-1 SU in its last eight games on the road.
  • West Virginia is 2-5 ATS in its last seven games at home.

 

All point spread and lines data courtesy of Odds Shark. All quotes gathered firsthand unless otherwise noted. Check out Twitter for injury and line-movement updates, and get the free odds tracker app.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Texas A&M Will Take Advantage of Alabama's Secondary Woes

Two years ago, former Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel stole the show and stated his Heisman Trophy case in a 29-24 win over Alabama in Tuscaloosa. Last year, it was former Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron and current running back T.J. Yeldon punching back, as Alabama topped Texas A&M 49-42 in College Station.

This year, expect more of the same.

Fresh off two straight losses, Texas A&M will roll into Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday looking to get back on track after its offense—while statistically impressive—has been anything but spectacular in losses to Mississippi State and Ole Miss.

It will.

Alabama's pass defense has given up 497 yards through the air over the last two games—a 23-17 loss to Ole Miss and a 14-13 win over Arkansas. 

Eddie Jackson got the majority of the snaps at cornerback alongside Cyrus Jones, but according to B/R Alabama lead writer Marc Torrence, Jackson and Tony Brown will continue to compete for playing time this week.

Saban needs Jackson, Jones and Brown to all be at the top of their games, because Texas A&M will put more pressure on them than any team they've faced since West Virginia did in the season-opener.

Four of the top 13 receivers in the SEC play for the Aggies—Josh Reynolds, Speedy Noil, Edward Pope and Ricky Seals-Jones. All four of those players are talented, have different skill sets and are in a system led by head coach Kevin Sumlin that gets them open.

At 6'5", 235 pounds, Seals-Jones presents a threat over the middle and stretching the field against smaller defensive backs. Reynolds and Pope—both 6'4"—are long and rangy wideouts who know how to get open and present similar matchup problems. Noil—a 5'11" freshman speedster—is a home run threat from anywhere on the field.

"There is a lot going on with him and I think he is coming along as good as anyone we have," Sumlin said on Saturday in quotes emailed by Texas A&M. "He is a tough guy and he loves to play and loves to compete and is only getting better every week."

Quarterback Kenny "Trill" has reverted back to Kenny Hill over the last few weeks thanks to the stifling Ole Miss defense and several drops from his wide receivers. When he's on, though, he's proven that he can light up opposing defenses—especially those with questions in the secondary.

Alabama's offense has been a far cry from its September self, averaging just 311.5 yards per game over the last two games after gaining more than 530 in each of the first four. 

Texas A&M's scheme, quarterback and deep stable of versatile wide receivers will put pressure on Alabama's secondary and force the Crimson Tide offense to go back to the future and light up the scoreboard.

Against Texas A&M's secondary, it will.

Get your popcorn ready.

 

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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Seminoles Open as Heavy Favorites over Irish in Week 8 Marquee Matchup

After being knocked from their familiar perch atop the Associated Press Top 25 by the Mississippi State Bulldogs, the No. 2 Florida State Seminoles opened as 13.5-point home favorites over the No. 5 Notre Dame Fighting Irish for their matchup on Saturday night this week.

The 6-0 Seminoles head into Week 8 riding a 22-game unbeaten streak straight up, but they have been a major disappointment to bettors, posting a 1-6 record against the spread dating back to their national championship victory in early January.

The 6-0 Fighting Irish have been a more reliable bet, going 4-2 ATS, and they have thrived as underdogs, going 4-0 ATS in their last four games as dogs and 3-1 SU, including a 17-14 outright win over Stanford as three-point underdogs in Week 6.

Saturday night’s Florida State vs. Notre Dame matchup is the first between the two squads since 2011, when the Seminoles posted an 18-14 home win over the Irish, covering a three-point spread.

The No. 3 Ole Miss Rebels, who will be looking to build on a pair of stunning wins over Alabama and Texas A&M, open as 17-point favorites over the 3-3 Tennessee Volunteers at sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark.

Mississippi was pegged as the underdog in its recent victories, extending its winning streak to seven, both straight up and against the spread, ahead of the Volunteers vs. Bulldogs matchup at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium on Saturday night.

Tennessee has struggled with consistency since dominating the Utah State Aggies 38-7 in its season opener. The Volunteers are just 2-3 ATS in their last five games but are 4-1 ATS in their last five games against the Rebels.

The No. 4 Baylor Bears will face a tough test Saturday afternoon when they take on the 4-2 West Virginia Mountaineers. The 6-0 Bears opened as 9.5-point road favorites, according to sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark, against a Mountaineers club that scored 17 points in the last six minutes of its matchup against the Texas Tech Red Raiders to eke out a 37-34 victory.

Led by quarterback Clint Trickett, the Mountaineers own the seventh-ranked passing game in the nation but are 0-3 ATS in their last three games.

Baylor needed a little comeback magic of its own last weekend, scoring an incredible 24 unanswered points in the final 11 minutes to capture a 61-58 victory over the TCU Horned Frogs, ending the Bears' five-game ATS winning streak.

In other college football betting action, the No. 8 Michigan State Spartans opened as 14-point favorites over the Indiana Hoosiers. The No. 9 Oregon Ducks are favored by 19 over the Washington Huskies, and the No. 10 Georgia Bulldogs are pegged as early three-point road favorites over the Arkansas Razorbacks.

TeamsLineTotal Louisiana-Lafayette at Texas State -1 63 Virginia Tech at Pittsburgh 2.5 47 Utah at Oregon State -1.5 57 Fresno State at Boise State -16 61 Temple at Houston -9 50 Baylor at West Virginia 9.5   Furman at South Carolina OFF   South Florida at Tulsa PK   Syracuse at Wake Forest 4   Western Kentucky at Florida Atlantic 3   UTSA at Louisiana Tech -6.5   Tulane at Central Florida -19   Iowa at Maryland -2.5   Kansas State at Oklahoma -12   Purdue at Minnesota -15   Virginia at Duke -5   Western Michigan at Bowling Green -2.5   Akron at Ohio 4   Eastern Michigan at Massachusetts -12   Appalachian State at Troy -6   North Carolina State at Louisville -15   Cincinnati at Southern Methodist 14.5   UAB at Middle Tennessee -2   Rutgers at Ohio State -20   Army at Kent State 5.5   UCLA at California 8   Clemson at Boston College 7.5   Texas A&M at Alabama -12   Michigan State at Indiana 14   New Mexico at Air Force -12   Kansas at Texas Tech -14   Ball State at Central Michigan -6.5   San Jose State at Wyoming -1.5   Georgia at Arkansas 3   Oklahoma State at TCU -10   New Mexico State at Idaho -4   Miami (Ohio) at Northern Illinois -15   Marshall at Florida International 21   Colorado at Southern Cal -21   Georgia Tech at North Carolina PK   Utah State at Colorado State -5.5   Tennessee at Mississippi -17   Southern Miss at North Texas -11   Missouri at Florida -3   Kentucky at LSU -11   Nebraska at Northwestern 6.5   Georgia State at South Alabama -17   Notre Dame at Florida State -14   Iowa State at Texas -11   Washington at Oregon -19   Nevada at BYU -12   Hawaii at San Diego State -11   Stanford at Arizona State 4.5  

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College Football Rankings 2014: Week 8 Standings and Top 25 Team Records

Despite the undefeated record, Florida State is no longer on top of the polls thanks to the impressive effort of Mississippi State the past few weeks. The Bulldogs have jumped the defending national champions and are now the No. 1 team in the country.

Mississippi State was unranked just a few weeks ago, but consecutive wins over LSU, Texas A&M and Auburn have changed the way the nation looks at this talented squad. The Seminoles dropped just one spot but are still in good position to reach the College Football Playoff—as long as they avoid any mistakes for the rest of the year.

Meanwhile, the number of undefeated squads throughout the country is slowly declining, which is certain to make things interesting from here on out.

Here is a look at the complete AP poll as well as Bleacher Report's Top 25 with a complete breakdown of the top teams on the list.

 

Top Teams

No. 1 Mississippi State

Very few people outside the Mississippi State locker room would have predicted this scenario earlier in the season, but the 6-0 squad is now the No. 1 team in the nation. ESPN's Paul Finebaum noted how well the team has exceeded expectations:

The Bulldogs had a matchup against Auburn, a squad playing as well as any in the nation to that point, and went up 21-0 before holding on for an impressive win.

The amazing thing is the team did not even play that well, giving up four turnovers and allowing the Tigers to total 441 yards of offense. Despite this, they made big plays when needed, including quarterback Dak Prescott, who now is leading many Heisman Trophy lists, according to CBS Sports:

Prescott has made impressive plays throughout the season and now has 14 passing touchdowns to go with eight rushing touchdowns. He also ranks fifth in the nation in Total QBR with a mark of 84.9. Even when he makes mistakes, he plays through them and remains a leader for this team.

While there is a lot of season left to be played and tough road games against Alabama and Ole Miss still ahead, Mississippi State deserves the top spot in the polls after earning the most impressive wins of the year.

 

No. 2 Florida State

Jameis Winston remains one of the most talented players in the country, but this year has seemed to be one problem after another.

The reigning Heisman Trophy winner was suspended for the team's game against Clemson for inappropriate conduct, and he now faces a disciplinary hearing for alleged sexual assault last year. 

Despite the off-field problems, Winston does not believe the distractions are an issue, via Josh Moyer of ESPN.com:

It's not about distractions—it's about playing Florida State football. It's about going out there every day in practice, doing our school work, making sure we're being a great student-athlete. And like I said, being on the field, it's a sanctuary. You get between those lines, all the cameras are on you, and we're out there playing football.

The good news is that when he plays, things go well. Winston completed 30 of his 36 attempts against Syracuse for 317 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions. The passing game is as good as ever with a healthy Rashad Greene, who is now in the school's record books, per ESPN's College GameDay:

In reality, the Seminoles only have one more difficult game on the schedule, and that comes on Saturday with a matchup against No. 5 Notre Dame. Winston needs to be able to outplay Everett Golson and avoid mistakes against a very good defense.

If Florida State can come out with a win, the squad becomes a borderline lock for the College Football Playoff.

 

No. 3 Ole Miss

While Mississippi State is getting all the publicity this week, it is important not to overlook what Ole Miss has done lately, earning wins over Alabama and Texas A&M to move to 6-0 on the year.

ESPN's Peter Burns joked about how well the two schools have played so far:

Although fans will complain about the Rebels being two spots behind their rivals, they might be better set up for a run to the playoffs.

First, this team has a defense that can win it a championship, currently ranking second in the country with just 11.8 points allowed per game. Before Saturday, the Aggies had scored at least 30 points in every game and were averaging over 40 per game, but they were held to just 20 points against Ole Miss.

Jon Solomon of CBS Sports gave his opinion on this unit:

Most importantly, the schedule breaks favorably for the Rebels with home games against Auburn and Mississippi State. The only road games remaining are against LSU and Arkansas, which are a combined 1-5 in the SEC.

Rankings in the middle of the season are fun to discuss, but they do not matter too much. Ole Miss does not have to worry about the number next to its name and instead focus on continually winning.

 

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

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Michigan Football: Adjustments Wolverines Must Make on Bye Week

Brady Hoke has survived a month of national criticism that reached a blistering crescendo after the mishandling of Shane Morris’ head injury.

Michigan miraculously rebounded under the lights vs. Penn State and now heads into a much-needed bye week to prepare for a key rivalry game on the road against Michigan State.

For years, the Spartans had been on the losing end of this rivalry, but things have dramatically changed. As Michigan has fallen on hard times, Michigan State has risen to be a national power, winning five of the last six meetings.

Hoke should be lauded for holding his team together under the intense scrutiny, but it will be a monumental challenge to beat Michigan State.

Here are the adjustments Hoke will need to make to get his team ready for Oct. 25.


Take a Break

Wave upon wave threatened to crush Michigan while it was stuck on the shoals of an 0-3 run that included losses to Utah, Minnesota and Rutgers. The pressure was intense as Michigan struggled to save its season. The first thing Hoke needs to do is give his team a much-needed break.

He acknowledged the pressure during the Penn State postgame press conference: "…I don’t [know] if many football teams could…persevere like they have and stay together like they have, and so I give those kids a lot of credit in that locker room."

Hoke said that the team will return to practice on Tuesday and Wednesday, but "most of it will be getting back to fundamentals and techniques."

A few light practices would give his team an important mental and physical break to prepare for Michigan State.


Heal

Michigan has been hammered by the injuries this season. Hoke won’t talk about it directly, dodging injury questions unless someone is out for the entire season, like in the case of running back Derrick Green.

Players out for an indeterminate amount of time include defensive back Jabrill Peppers, defensive tackle Willie Henry, offensive lineman Erik Magnuson, linebacker Desmond Morgan, defensive tackle Ondre Pipkins, receiver Jehu Chesson and probably Morris.

It wouldn’t be surprising to see one or more of these players back for Michigan State. Hoke needs all the healthy players on deck for his team’s biggest challenge of the season.

And then there’s the leg injury that quarterback Devin Gardner suffered vs. Penn State. He returned to the game and said afterward that he’d be ready for Michigan State but left the stadium in a walking boot.

Gardner clearly is the only hope at quarterback this season—his backups have played poorly. Although at least this week Russell Bellomy was able to find his helmet when summoned to go in the game for Gardner. 


Position Changes

Michigan is in desperate need of help at running back and receiver.

Green's injury has left De’Veon Smith as the primary back on offense, and the results against Penn State were underwhelming: 12 carries for 24 yards.

Justice Hayes has been plugging away as the third-down back, but the team needs some help for Smith on the earlier downs. The best option is to switch Dennis Norfleet to running back.

Receiver is a harder position to fill. The answer may not be to change players but more of a switch where the current players are lining up.

Devin Funchess and Jake Butt could both be moved inside to try and create matchup problems. Either Michigan State double-teams one or the other, leaving Michigan with a good matchup on the outside for Amara Darboh or Freddy Canteen.


Trickeration

Struggling teams need trick plays to overcome superior opponents. It’s time for offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier to embrace Michigan’s underdog status (3-4) and go for broke.

The Spartans have been known for trick plays under coach Mark Dantonio, but now Michigan needs to turn the tables on its in-state rival.

Maybe there’s a reason that Hoke banishes the media from practice. Perhaps he has something cooking for when his team visits East Lansing. It’s been a while (2007) since the Wolverines brought back the Paul Bunyan Trophy from a trip to East Lansing.

The Spartans are in the hunt for a national championship—they have no time to trifle with a 3-4 Michigan team. Michigan State wants to deliver a beatdown that knocks the Wolverines out by halftime and makes a national statement for the polls.

Hoke will need to dig deep into the playbook to keep the Spartans from running away with this one.


Phil Callihan is a featured writer for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotations obtained firsthand.

Follow @PSCallihan

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11 Most Interesting Stats at the Halfway Point of the 2014 CFB Season

Did you know that there is one power-five team that hasn’t given up a single point in the third quarter this season?

And have you heard about the running back who leads the nation in scoring, as a true freshman?

Both are statistical gems in a mine overflowing with numbers, rare jewels nestled among a stockpile of useless, repetitive digits.

Of the literally thousands of stats pumped out through seven weeks of college football, here are 11 worth knowing more about.

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College Football: Week 7 Recap and Top 5 Games Pick Results

We now have a new No. 1 ranked team in the country, and highly ranked teams continued to beat up on each other in Week 7 of the 2014 college football season. 

The state of Mississippi had another impressive week, with both schools knocking off ranked opponents and staying undefeated. 

Dak Prescott and No. 3 Mississippi State jumped out early on then-No. 2 Auburn 21-0 in the first quarter, after the Tigers turned the ball over on the first play of their first two possessions. The Bulldogs never looked back in a convincing 38-23 win, where Prescott threw for 246 yards, rushed for 121 yards and scored three total touchdowns. With their second win over Auburn in three years, the Bulldogs jumped Florida State to overtake the No. 1 spot in the AP poll for the first time in school history. 

No. 3 Ole Miss picked up where it had left off just a week before, with a dominating performance in front of an SEC-record crowd of 110,633 at Texas A&M. The Rebels, like their in-state rival Mississippi State, quickly jumped on the Aggies with a 21-0 lead heading into halftime. Quarterback Bo Wallace had another solid effort Saturday night with 178 passing yards, three total touchdowns and no interceptions. 

With the Ole Miss defense holding the Aggies to just 54 rushing yards and intercepting two Kenny Hill passes, the Rebels won 35-20 and are currently 6-0 for the first time since 1962. 

While there was success for the Magnolia State on Saturday, the SEC had two more unexpected outcomes.

After Alabama suffered a heartbreaking loss at Ole Miss just a week prior, it almost happened again. If not for an Arkansas fumble that went through the end zone for a touchback early in the first quarter, along with a blocked extra point by the Crimson Tide late in the second quarter, Alabama wouldn’t have survived its 14-13 victory.

In Columbia, Missouri, a Georgia squad, which was was without running back Todd Gurley, proved itself with an impressive 34-0 shutout win over Missouri. 

The wildest game of the day, which turned into an expected shootout, was between highly ranked Big 12 foes TCU and Baylor. The No. 9 Horned Frogs built a 58-37 lead early in the fourth quarter on a Marcus Mallet 49-yard interception touchdown return, but the No. 5 Bears battled back. Twenty-one unanswered points with the help from quarterback Bryce Petty, who finished with a career-high 510 passing yards and six touchdowns, knotted things up at 58. 

With TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin unable to complete a pass on 4th-and-3 on Baylor’s 45-yard line with 1:11 remaining in regulation, the Bears took advantage of good field position, and Chris Callahan kicked a game-winning 28-yard field goal as time expired to earn a 61-58 victory. 

In the wild, wild West of the Pac-12, No. 12 Oregon bounced back at No. 18 UCLA with a 42-30 win, despite being outgained on offense 553-468. Quarterback Marcus Mariota received more protection with the return of left tackle Jake Fisher and had a stellar performance with 210 passing yards and four total touchdowns. 

No. 10 Arizona and then-unranked USC battled until the very end in Tucson late Saturday night. The Wildcats clawed their way back into the game with a late fourth-quarter touchdown but failed on a two-point conversion, leaving the Trojans with a two-point lead with 1:07 remaining.

Arizona went on to recover an onside kick, though, giving it a chance to pull off the improbable win with a game-winning field goal. Unfortunately, placekicker Casey Skowron wasn’t able to convert on a 36-yard field goal. It was his third missed field goal of the game and helped give the Trojans a much-needed 26-24 road win. 

 

Pick Results

Overall Record: 22-13

Week 7 Record: 2-3

Note: Team in bold indicates author’s pick

 

Prediction: Missouri 35, Georgia 30

Result: Georgia 34, Missouri 0

 

Prediction: Auburn 42, Mississippi State 31

Result: Mississippi State 38, Auburn 23

 

Prediction: Oregon 38, UCLA 33

Result: Oregon 42, UCLA 30

 

Prediction: Baylor 45, TCU 38

Result: Baylor 61, TCU 58

 

Prediction: Texas A&M 34, Ole Miss 28

Result: Ole Miss 35, Texas A&M 20

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Pac-12 Football: Possible Trap Games for Each Ranked Team

Is there such thing as a trap game anymore in the Pac -12? Outside of Colorado, every team can win on any given Saturday against any opponent...

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Boston College Eagles vs. Clemson Tigers Complete Game Preview

Although it wasn’t the prettiest win of the season, the Clemson Tigers were able to come away victorious against the Louisville Cardinals. After three straight home games, the Tigers will pack their bags and head up north to take on Boston College.

The Eagles—who upset Southern California earlier this season—are fresh off a 30-14 rout of North Carolina State this past Saturday.

This series has featured some great games over the last decade, so expect another great finish Saturday.

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Solutions Needed for Notre Dame's Defensive Struggles

On Saturday afternoon, North Carolina's up-tempo offense took the air out of the high-flying Notre Dame defense. Literally. After being on the field for 91 plays, the Irish defense could've used a respirator. 

Seizing on a hot start, Larry Fedora's offense laid the blueprint for beating the Irish defense. Utilizing a hurry-up, no-huddle system, Fedora had the Irish on their heels all afternoon, mixing a herculean effort by quarterback Marquise Williams with a rock-solid game plan, nearly pulling off the upset in a 50-43 loss.

"I just left a team whose guts are ripped out of 'em right now," Fedora said after the game.

The pain the Tar Heels felt on Saturday evening likely works to the benefit of future Notre Dame opponents. And after watching Williams play like Superman on Saturday—passing for two touchdowns, while running and catching two more—Brian VanGorder and his defensive coaches have to be grinding hard as they prepare for Jameis Winston, the defending Heisman Trophy winner. 

After five games of confusing and shutting down opposing offensive coordinators, VanGorder and the Irish defensive staff seemed to get one-upped by Fedora and the Tar Heels offense. Expect Jimbo Fisher and co-offensive coordinators Lawrence Dawsey and Randy Sanders to take notice. 

Saying last Saturday exposed a few weaknesses in the Irish defense isn't exactly fair. They've been there all along, but Fedora and the Tar Heels reminded us that the young Irish defense is still a work in progress.

That progress was halted when VanGorder wasn't able to substitute in his third-down packages, something he's done effectively this year. And with the Tar Heels able to convert nine of 17 third downs, it kept the Irish on the field and allowed North Carolina to pile up the points, something Kelly alluded to earlier in the week. 

Look, we're inexperienced in a number of areas, and if the circumstances played out, we could be put into that kind of situation," Kelly said, when asked about his shootout prediction. "Here are the ingredients for that. A team that runs an up‑tempo offense that can run up to 100 plays. I think they had 91 [84 official and seven penalties].

We're very thin on the back end, as evidenced late in the game. We were tired and tackled poorly. That's something that concerns us. Playing very fast with some young kids, not being able to get off the field on third down with our base personnel. We weren't able to situational substitute, so we weren't as good on third down, another key ingredient with playing a team like North Carolina. And then turning the football over on offense, which happens.

The Irish offense should take its share of the blame as well. This football game isn't all that close if Everett Golson doesn't essentially spot North Carolina 14 early points. The quarterback's three turnovers are a huge concern heading into Florida State and will need to be addressed immediately. 

"We gave them three touchdowns on offense," Kelly said. "If you take the three touchdowns that we gave them off the board, it's 50‑20 whatever, and everyone is going, 'Wow, that's a pretty nice game, wow, nice job.' North Carolina has got a pretty good offense."

Situations aside, the checklist for Notre Dame's defense this week is fairly simple. And it starts on the back end of the defense, where Elijah Shumate and Max Redfield are again without senior captain Austin Collinsworth. That duo has played solid football, but it's also struggled with communication, something that'll be critical in Doak Campbell Stadium against an offense with quite a bit of firepower. 

Depth in the secondary is also teetering on the edge. Senior cornerback Cody Riggs missed some time with an ankle sprain, and the Tar Heels hit backup Devin Butler on a trick-play touchdown pass that got behind him. After opening the season with better depth than probably any other spot on the roster, the numbers at cornerback are thin, and the depth at safety is even worse. Without Collinsworth, Nicky Baratti and the suspended Eilar Hardy, it's freshman Drue Tranquill or bust as the third man in. 

Heading into the North Carolina game, the Irish hadn't faced more than 68 plays on a Saturday, a number matched by Syracuse and Stanford. While the Seminoles have the ability to move with pace, they're averaging 70 plays a game, a number only marginally quicker than the Irish's other opponents. 

That should help with the relative lack of depth. But it won't help make tackles, something the Irish defense didn't do very well last Saturday. 

Against Winston, the Irish will face another electric athlete who can beat you with his feet. He's also an incredibly accurate thrower, completing 68 percent of his throws over two seasons. Armed with personnel better than any Notre Dame has faced thus far, it's a rather obvious statement to say that the Irish will need to play their best to win. 

Rattling Winston will be key. A week after the Irish let Williams escape any time they came close to getting a sack, capitalizing on those opportunities will be critical. Close won't cut it for Sheldon Day, especially with Seminoles center Austin Barron out with a broken arm. 

The Irish head to Tallahassee nearly two-touchdown underdogs, a number that's inching down as the game gets closer. After not looking their best in their last three victories, the Irish's first true road test of the season makes their margin for error even thinner. 

But Kelly believes his defense will be ready. But they'll need to learn from their mistakes against North Carolina first. 

 

*Unless otherwise noted, all quotes obtained firsthand.   

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Blocked Extra Point Turns into Crazy Play That Falls Just Short in FCS Matchup

The Northern Colorado Bears get an A for effort on this play from Saturday's game against the Sacramento State Hornets, but it still didn't count for any points.

After blocking an extra point, the Bears tossed the ball around trying to score on the other side, but fell just short when UNC linebacker Dominick Sierra was pushed out right in front of the end zone.

The Hornets still ended up winning, taking the 43-38 victory.

[YouTube, h/t NFL.com and Twitter]

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Dayton Kicker William Will Ends Up Scoring on Own Kickoff vs. Marist

The Dayton Flyers got a 31-21 win over Marist on Saturday, and the play of the game came from kicker William Will.

In the second quarter, Will kicked the ball off to the Red Foxes, then somehow came up with the football on a fumble, running it all the way in for a touchdown.

Sure, kickers score points, but rarely do they get to enjoy the satisfaction of running into the end zone for a touchdown, so Will can go ahead and celebrate.

[YouTube, h/t Deadspin]

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