NCAA Football

SEC Football Q&A: Todd Gurley's Heisman Hopes, Can West Team Run the Table?

Another one bites the dust. 

Well, two, in fact.

Texas A&M and Alabama each took a loss this weekend—to Mississippi State and Ole Miss, respectively—leaving the Rebels, Bulldogs and defending SEC champion Auburn as the only three remaining undefeated teams in the SEC.

Which has the best chance of going undefeated? Will a player from the SEC win the Heisman Trophy? What's going on in Florida? We'll answer all of those burning questions in this week's Q&A.


Despite the caveat of "keeping the schedule in mind," it's still Auburn. Before the season and even as recently as last week, the entire college football world looked at Auburn's schedule with jaws on the floor thanks to the high ranking of all of the remaining teams on the schedule.

It's not as difficult as it appears, and unless there's some catastrophic injury or something bizarre that happens, Auburn will likely be favored over every team remaining on the schedule save for—maybe—Alabama in Tuscaloosa. South Carolina and Georgia can't cover anyone and will certainly struggle with Sammie Coates and Duke Williams. Texas A&M struggles to stop the run between the tackles, which is a staple of head coach Gus Malzahn's offense. Ole Miss struggles along the offensive line, and Auburn's front four has been getting progressively better throughout the season.

The Mississippi schools don't have that luxury.

Despite being co-No. 3 with its intra-state rival, Ole Miss is a three-point underdog at Texas A&M this week, according to Odds Shark, and still has to play Auburn and Mississippi State. Mississippi State is an underdog to Auburn this week and has to travel to Tuscaloosa and Oxford.

Auburn is the most complete football team in the SEC. Its running game hasn't missed a beat, quarterback Nick Marshall has stepped up his game as a passer, the run defense is stifling, and the Tigers are getting hot at the right time. 


The Georgia running back certainly has a better chance now than he did a week ago, that's for sure.

When the favorite—Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota, in this case—goes down for the first time, the door swings wide open for contenders to step up and make their Heisman case. Gurley did that this weekend against Vanderbilt when he rushed for 163 yards and two touchdowns, caught two passes for 24 yards and completed a pass for 50 yards—Georgia's longest completion of the season.

Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott, Notre Dame signal-caller Everett Golson and Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall have stepped up their respective Heisman games to join Gurley in the Heisman discussion, but Gurley has been the one constant.

Either Prescott or Marshall will lose this weekend, and despite Golson's stellar play this year—he's thrown 13 touchdowns and only three interceptions this season—voters will hold the dreaded "character card" against him after he missed the 2013 season after having "poor judgement on a test," according to The Associated Press (via

It's going to be hard for Gurley to top a quarterback and win the Heisman, but as long as he stays healthy, he'll be in New York as a finalist. If the top signal-callers in the country continue to play "musical quarterbacks" in the Heisman polls, Gurley's chances will increase. 

He just needs to keep doing what he's doing and hope the dominoes fall in his favor.


No, even though, if he is let go after the season, it probably would be viewed as the game that forced athletic director Jeremy Foley to make the move.

Foley told Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel (subscription required) last month that Muschamp will get the entire season and then Foley will evaluate the state of the program.

Besides, what purpose does firing Muschamp midseason serve?

The Gators aren't going to hire a replacement right away, so recruiting is going to be affected regardless. Florida certainly wouldn't be swimming the in same coaching poll as Kansas, which fired Charlie Weis earlier this season. Even if Michigan shows Brady Hoke the door, the Gators and Wolverines will probably have a much different pool of candidates.

But what about Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen?

The former Gators offensive coordinator is sitting at 5-0 and has his Bulldogs ranked No. 3, which would surely be attractive to Michigan. 

If Mullen is a legit candidate for Florida and Foley wants to talk to him, it can wait. In fact, given the current state of Mississippi State's program, Mullen would likely prefer that conversation to start after the season to prevent any distractions.

No, losing to LSU doesn't earn Muschamp the boot right away. It might be the game that causes Foley to show him the door after the season, but there's no reason to fire him during it.


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, and all recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports. Follow Barrett on Twitter @BarrettSallee.

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Texas A&M Football: 5 Startling Statistics Through 6 Weeks

The Texas A&M football team is 5-2 on the season and 2-1 in the SEC. The Aggies have generated a number of interesting statistics during the first half of the 2014 season. 

Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin has always put up prolific numbers on offense. The Aggies have led the SEC in offense the first two seasons they have been in the league.

It is not surprising that some of the offensive numbers individual Aggie players put up are impressive. The Aggies have also put up some numbers that are surprising in a bad way during the first half of the 2014 season.

This is a look at some of the surprising statistics the Aggies have put up during the first six games of the season.  


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Tennessee Football: 5 Startling Statistics Through 6 Weeks

Six weeks of the 2014 college football season are in the books, and the Tennessee Volunteers have put up some surprising statistics as the season nears its halfway point.

The Vols are right where most analysts predicted in the preseason with a 2-3 record and zero SEC wins. Saturday's loss to the Florida Gators was particularly frustrating for the team and head coach Butch Jones, as the Vols had numerous opportunities to put the game away and end 10 straight years of futility to its biggest SEC East rival.

While Jones's mantra is that football is a game of inches, it's also a game of statistics, and diving into a few key areas of the Vols' performance this season helps illustrate exactly why the team lost on Saturday and may have trouble reaching a bowl game.

Although teams can and certainly do turn things around, it appears Tennessee has a few critical weaknesses—along with a surprising strength—that could either cause the season to spiral out of control or get the Vols right back into SEC East contention. 

Here are the five most startling statistics through Week 6 for the Tennessee Vols. 

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Power Ranking the Top 25 Quarterbacks Through 6 Weeks

The college football season is almost at its midpoint, which means we've seen enough to reassess our player rankings at every position. And what position is more fun to talk about—if not more excessively talked about—than quarterback?!

The QB hierarchy hasn't undergone major changes since the preseason, but enough has happened to warrant a new batch of rankings. We haven't seen a freshman come out gangbusters a la Johnny Manziel in 2012 and Jameis Winston in 2013, but a couple of underclassmen (and even some upperclassmen) have come close.

These rankings are a reaction but not an overreaction to what has happened in the first six weeks of the year. In other words, we haven't forgotten how a quarterback played in 2013 (or 2012 and 2011), but his 2014 performance was weighted as a pretty big data point.

Also keep in mind that these rankings are a pure construction of the 2014 college football season. They do not project how a quarterback will translate to the NFL or even how he projects to next year. They are a subjective answer to the question, "Which QB would you pick to lead your team into a must-win game next weekend?"

Sound off below, and let us know what you think.


Note: Total QBR refers to the quarterbacking metric compiled by All other numbers come via

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Will the UGA vs. Missouri Matchup Determine SEC East?

Georgia finds itself right back in the thick of things in the SEC with many of the top teams going down. The Missouri Tigers have upset on the mind when the two SEC East teams go head-to-head. 

Bleacher Report College Football Analysts Michael Felder and Barrett Sallee discuss who they think will win this matchup with huge SEC implications.

Will the Tigers or the Bulldogs win the SEC?

Watch the video, and let us know!

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Why the Texas A&M Aggies Will Ruin the Ole Miss Rebels' Perfect Season

The Ole Miss Rebels are riding high after one of the biggest wins in their football program's history. They have another tough test in the Texas A&M Aggies, who look to rebound after a loss to Mississippi State.

Bleacher Report College Football Analysts Michael Felder and Barrett Sallee discuss why Ole Miss might be in trouble against the Aggies.

Do you think Ole Miss will get upset in Week 7?

Watch the video and let us know!

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Meet Georgia Tech, the Best Team No One Is Talking About

Of the 10 undefeated teams remaining in college football, Georgia Tech may be the one most under the radar. 

Following a wacky Week 6 in which five of the AP poll's Top Eight teams lost in the same weekend, Georgia Tech quietly put away Miami 28-17 to advance to 5-0, Tech's first win against the Hurricanes since 2008. It was, give or take, the 947th most exciting thing to happen that weekend. 

Put another way, it was somewhere between Katy Perry using corndogs as props on College GameDay but just above Purdue beating Illinois 38-27. 

Thus, the Yellow Jackets' win barely moved the meter. Georgia Tech finally cracked the Associated Press and coaches' Top 25, but it came in at No. 22 and No. 23, respectively. 

There's some legitimate rationale for that: Georgia Tech's non-conference schedule was especially soft and included a narrow escape over Georgia Southern. 

But Georgia Tech is 2-0 in the ACC all the same and the only other undefeated team in the conference besides Florida State. The Jackets are a 4.5-point favorite in an important divisional game against Duke this Saturday, per Odds Shark. Barring a collapse, Georgia Tech could be favored in every remaining game leading into the last two weeks of the season against Clemson and Georgia. 

How did Georgia Tech get to this point? 


The Leader

If there's a compelling hook to this whole undefeated story, it's head coach Paul Johnson. Recall that in January, Bruce Feldman, then of, tweeted that Johnson was unhappy with the school and was hoping for a buyout. 

Feldman is one of the most reliable reporters out there, but Johnson quickly denied the report and the original tweet was deleted

"I've been here going on seven years. My family lives here," said Johnson in an April interview with Jeremy Fowler of "I've had several opportunities to leave here in the last seven years."

So while it was much ado about nothing, it nevertheless came at an interesting time. Earlier that week, starting quarterback Vad Lee announced he was transferring. Lee told ESPN's Joe Schad that "The triple-option was never really my thing." 

Georgia Tech was also coming off a 7-6 record, losing three of its last four games. Johnson hadn't led the Yellow Jackets to more than eight wins in a season since 2009 when his team won the ACC and appeared in the Orange Bowl. 

Johnson has turned the ship around, however. Whatever chatter about the hot seat there was regarding Johnson before the season has been thoroughly extinguished. 


The Offense

The triple-option is what made Johnson famous at Georgia Southern and Navy. Though he brought in a completely new style to Georgia Tech, he had immediate success with the athletes on his roster.

The combination of quarterback Joshua Nesbitt, running back Jonathan Dwyer and receiver Demaryius Thomas helped the Yellow Jackets finish in the top 15 nationally in points scored per game, according to

However, Johnson has showed that he can score points with a consistency matched by few others. 

Since 2011, Johnson's offense has been almost identical on a yearly basis. In '11, Georgia Tech's offense scored 34.3 points per game. That number went down to 33.6 points per game in '12 but rose to 35.1 points per game in 2013. Through five games this season, Tech is averaging 34.6 points per game.

That's a difference, through about three-and-a-half years, of 1.5 points per game. To achieve that level of consistency with the constant turnover in college football is impressive. 

The triple-option can be tough to stop, especially when an opponent has one week to prepare. It requires incredible discipline from everyone on defense. It's not so much about someone being a hero as it is about everyone knowing their assignments.

Still, Tech is going to get its points. The magic number to beat Georgia Tech is 30. Johnson has only won about 33 percent of his games since taking over Tech in 2008 when opponents score at least 30 points. 

Basically, if you want to beat Georgia Tech, you're probably going to have to do it in a shootout. 


The Stars 

The quarterback is a focal point of the triple-option, so the attention is naturally going to be on sophomore Justin Thomas. 

Through six weeks, Thomas has been an ideal playmaker in Johnson's offense, leading the team with 470 yards on the ground and three touchdowns while averaging six yards a carry. But Thomas is more than another effective runner at quarterback. He's also passing the ball well enough to have a semblance of balance. 

Two quarterbacks have thrown for 11 touchdowns in a season at Tech under Johnson: Tevin Washington in 2011 and Lee in '13. Thomas is already up to seven passing touchdowns to just one interception.

Passing is obviously not a huge part of Georgia Tech's offense, but run-based teams still need to be able to pass effectively in the few instances they do air it out, as Andrea Adelson of points out: 

As for the offense, Thomas has been an upgrade over Vad Lee. Thomas ranks No. 3 in the ACC in rushing, and Georgia Tech has gone from No. 9 in the ACC in pass efficiency to No. 2 because Thomas is better throwing the football. 

For not focusing on the pass, Tech has been known for a recent list of big-bodied wideouts, from Thomas to Stephen Hill. DeAndre Smelter has filled in that role with 35 receptions for 684 yards and eight touchdowns over the past year-and-a-half. 

Then there's senior B-back Zach Laskey, who's been as reliable a ball-carrier as the Yellow Jackets have had in recent years. A bruising back, Laskey has 1,631 yards and 10 rushing touchdowns in his career. 

It's a one-two-three punch that resembles the '09 team and the star power it had on offense. 

If the '09 team is to be used as any comparison, Georgia Tech could be on its way to great things again this season. Eventually, the country will take notice. 


Ben Kercheval is a lead writer for college football. 

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Wisconsin Badgers: Make a Bold Move, Gary, Just Like Barry Did in 1999

In 1999, the Wisconsin Badgers were in a similar situation like they are now in 2014. Then, the Badgers were coming off a Rose Bowl win just the year before. But the 1999 season started badly, as the team was just 2-2 and had lost two straight games.

One of the primary reasons was the uneven and inconsistent play at the quarterback position, which was manned by senior Scott Kavanagh.

The Badgers had a very powerful run game then, as the attack was led Ron Dayne, who would end up winning the Heisman Trophy in 1999.

Sound familiar in 2014, Badger nation?     

In 1999, head coach (and current athletic director) Barry Alvarez made a bold move and inserted freshman Brooks Bollinger as his starter at quarterback for the fifth game of the season against Ohio State at Columbus.

The result? The Badgers won that day 42-17 and never lost another game that season. The icing on the cake was another Big Ten title and another win in the Rose Bowl over Stanford.

Current head coach Gary Andersen is in a situation this season that resembles what occurred in 1999. The Badgers are 3-2 so far in 2014, and both of their losses could be directly laid at the feet of the quarterback play, which has been very inconsistent, especially in the losses to LSU and Northwestern.

And this is with Heisman Trophy candidate Melvin Gordon in the lineup, as No. 25 has rushed for 871 yards (8.3 average) and nine touchdowns.

On Monday, Coach Andersen said that he would play both Tanner McEvoy and Joel Stave against Illinois this upcoming Saturday, as Jeff Potrykus writes about in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

"We're going to play them both, and they could possibly both be on the field at the same time," Andersen said during his weekly talk with the media. "I'm hoping that happens, because I think that opens up a little can of worms for (opponents) that wonder what's going to happen. So we'll see if that can take place for a couple plays.

"And then we'll also play them in different situations. I'm a firm believer that where we are with our offense as a whole — not the quarterback position — we're best served to be able to play both quarterbacks to help our offense move down the field."

Will that help the situation that is ongoing? That remains to be seen.

McEvoy has running skills at quarterback, as he has rushed for 284 yards and two touchdowns. But he is wildly inconsistent throwing the ball, as he has only a 57.3 percent completion percentage and has thrown five touchdown passes versus five interceptions for 629 yards.

Stave is more of a pocket passer with limited running skills, but he has also been very uneven with his play at quarterback, as he was just 8-of-19 in passing last week against Northwestern in his first appearance of the season and threw one touchdown pass and three interceptions, including one very costly one.

In his career at Wisconsin, Stave has thrown 29 touchdown passes versus 19 picks for 3,712 yards.

Who knows? Maybe using both McEvoy and Stave during games will help. But throughout their careers at Wisconsin, it's pretty obvious about what they can do and what they can't do.

Bart Houston remains the third quarterback, but the coaching staff doesn't seem like it will give Houston an opportunity to earn the starting spot at quarterback.

So, what is the other option if the McEvoy-Stave experiment doesn't click and the team won't give Houston a shot? That would be freshman quarterback D.J. Gillins.

The team is doing everything it can not to play the talented freshman so it can use this season as a redshirt year for the Florida native.

But Gillins has a very good skill set. Like McEvoy, he can run. Like Stave has shown in the past, he can pass.

In high school, Gillins passed for 7,271 yards and 76 touchdowns over his career and ran for 602 yards and eight touchdowns as a senior.

It might be the case that Gillins is too raw to get significant playing time, and that is why he has not been able to get into the conversation about getting on the field so far this season.

But if things continue to go south with the quarterback play of the Badgers with McEvoy and Stave, and the coaching staff won't give Houston a meaningful opportunity, why not give Gillins a chance to get his feet wet in various packages at times during games?

See how the kid does. Yes, the redshirt season might be lost for Gillins. But the high hopes for a very successful 2014 season are slipping away quickly for the team in general right now.

There are still goals in 2014 that the Badgers can achieve. One of which is winning the West division of the Big Ten conference. That would put the Badgers in the Big Ten Championship Game.

But to win the West, the Badgers are going to need more consistent play from their quarterbacks. And right now, that is not happening.

Maybe it will happen with McEvoy and Stave playing in games together. Or maybe it will take a bold move by Coach Andersen. I'm sure his athletic director would understand.

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Purdue Will 'Hammer Down Cancer' by Wearing Neon Yellow Helmets

The Purdue Boilermakers will be doing their part to raise awareness for a good cause when they take the field against Michigan State on Saturday.

As part of their Hammer Down Cancer Game to honor cancer survivors and raise awareness for cancer research, the Boilermakers will be wearing black helmets with neon yellow logos.

Although the team will be wearing white uniforms, the helmets will not be the only "Hammer Down Cancer" gear worn by the team. Purdue will wear neon yellow shoes laces, socks and gloves. 

[Purdue Athletics, Purdue Sports]

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Florida State Football: 5 Startling Statistics Through 5 Games

To no one's surprise, Florida State is 5-0 and ranked No. 1 in the country. But how the Seminoles have remained atop the college football world has been anything but expected.

A significant drop in third-down success rate from last season, strong play by an unexpected freshman, a less-than-stellar running game, Jameis Winston's passer rating and a defensive secondary that isn't intercepting the football are just a few of the startling statistics through a handful of FSU's games in 2014.

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Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. North Carolina Tar Heels Complete Game Preview

With Stanford in the rearview mirror and Florida State on the horizon, Notre Dame welcomes North Carolina to South Bend, a matchup short on glamour but worth the same as the rest of them.

A week after double-digit underdogs toppled Top 10 teams like Oregon and UCLA, you can bet Brian Kelly will spend the week getting his team prepared for the Tar Heels. That means prepping for Larry Fedora's offense, a unit that's set over 40 school records since the third-year coach took over. 

Of course, as good as the North Carolina offense has been, the defense has been terrible. The Tar Heels are giving up 42 points a game, the worst defense of any power-five-conference participant. After Notre Dame struggled to put up points against the nation's top unit last weekend, a date with North Carolina might be just what the doctor ordered. 

At 2-3, the Tar Heels have underperformed, especially for a team some saw breaking into the Top 25. But last year's squad started glacially slow before closing the season winning six of seven, making Saturday's upset bid a perfect springboard to turn around the season. 

Let's get you ready for Notre Dame and North Carolina this weekend.  


Date: Saturday, October 11

Time: 3:30 p.m. ET

Place: Notre Dame Stadium in Notre Dame, Indiana


Radio: IMG College Sports, SiriusXM Channel 129

Spread: Notre Dame by 16, according to Odds Shark.

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B/R CFB Committee: Playoff Predictions Heading into Week 7

There is much debate between who should be the four teams that will compete in the College Football Playoff. Last weekend left a lot of unanswered questions about the validity of some top teams.

Bleacher Report College Football Analysts Adam Kramer, Barrett Sallee and Michael Felder debate the four teams that belong in the CFB Playoff.

Which teams would you leave out of the playoff?

Watch the video and let us know!

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Mississippi State's Gang of Misfit Recruits on Revenge Tour of SEC

STARKVILLE, Miss. — This is a Vengeance Tour, that's what this is. It sounds a little sinister, but some Mississippi State players are looking for a little retribution around the SEC.

Coach Dan Mullen talks in public about the cuddly emotions of chemistry and togetherness and other nice things, but his players have emotions that are more tactless, more raw. They were unwelcome at the big-market SEC schools. They had egos squashed by SEC recruiters.

"There's a lot of guys on our team with chips on their shoulders," said center Ben Beckwith, who started his career at Mississippi State as a walk-on.     

Some of them were rated 1-stars and 2-stars in high school by recruiting services and brushed off by Alabama, Auburn, LSU, Georgia, Florida, and Texas A&M who chased the 4-stars and 5-stars.

"I was zero stars," Beckwith said.

Some of these Mississippi State misfits came from high schools so small no one at their school had ever played in the mighty SEC.

They were too short, too slow, too fat, too skinny. They didn't have a position to project into. They were not much of nothing.

Until now.

They red-shirted, built up their bodies, learned discipline, learned technique and developed deep pride in the name on the front of the jersey. Of his recruiting class, Beckwith said all but one player red-shirted and stayed at State for the five-year haul.

They not only stayed, they stayed pissed off.

The agitated guys beat up LSU in Baton Rouge, 34-29. Then they waxed No. 6 Texas A&M, the supposed new powerhouse of the SEC. The Aggies were being drubbed 48-17 before they got some window dressing late to make it a respectable beating, 48-31. A&M got a ringing in its head from the hits of the Bulldogs and a ringing in the ears from 60,000 cowbells clanging on the Mississippi plain.

Mississippi State (5-0) should be America's Team heading into another game it will be picked to lose, which is Saturday against No. 2 Auburn. We love blessed bums in football, guys who are discarded, passed over, and then emerge to make themselves something.

These are nuts-and-bolts players, guys who were recruited by Louisiana Tech, Arkansas State and Southern Miss, or not recruited at all. All they wanted was a chance. Many of them agreed to Mullen's red-shirting while the 5-stars would have laughed in his face. They went on to the royal programs and immediate TV time.

The 5-stars stay three years and then bolt for the NFL putting down little in the way of roots at their schools. The Mississippi State red-shirts covet their maroon shirts and stay five years.

Jamerson Love, a Mississippi State defensive back, was limping off the field with an injury he wouldn't talk about following Saturday's win against Texas A&M. He is from this speck in Mississippi, a place called Aberdeen. The population, according to the 2010 census, was 5,630 people. The median income about $27,000.

Who offered you? "Southern Miss, Louisiana Tech, Arkansas State," said Love, who was All-State in high school and rated the No. 22 high school player in Mississippi.

That's it, no SEC schools?

"That's it," said Love, who is generously listed at 5'10". "There's a lot of guys just like me on this team."

Love was asked about his team playing with a grudge because of the background of the players, you know, being overlooked guys. He nodded and smiled in the affirmative. He understood the question, but held his fire. He didn't want to be brash and start blasting SEC schools for ignoring him and his teammates. Love is kind of glad the behemoths left him for Mississippi State anyway. He loves it here.

Here's what Auburn, Alabama, and Ole Miss have to fear. Beckwith got on scholarship, but he said he never lost the edge from his put-down. He's still playing like a guy paying his own way without a scholarship and trying to earn one.

"I went to (high school) camps all summer, and I could play with those guys that were getting offers," Beckwith said. "It kind of drove me my first two years here. I knew I could play.

"I never lost who I was."

Here is the other thing about the bulldog Bulldogs. Jamerson said Mississippi State has grown together as a cohesive unit. Guys don't have one eye on Sunday and the NFL. Everything they put into it is for Saturday and Mississippi State. They have as much pride for HailState as they do scorn for the other team.

Why? Because they were afterthoughts and got a chance to play in the baddest conference in college football. Prescott is from Haughton, La., and he was not recruited by powerhouse LSU until after his senior season in high school. He was a red-shirt, not an instant star. He scored three touchdowns against A&M.

Auburn not only has to deal with Prescott, they have to deal with the McKinney missile. That would be linebacker Benardrick McKinney, who should be a first-round pick in the 2015 NFL draft. McKinney was a high school quarterback and linebacker. He was also red-shirted. Who red-shirts first-round draft picks? He wasn't recruited by the SEC said Tony Hughes, the Mississippi State recruiting coordinator and defensive secondary coach. 

If Saban has a Process, Mullen has a Formula. Find nuts-and-bolts guys, high school quarterbacks who are athletic and big that can be turned into linebackers. Find basketball kids that like to mix it up and can run. Red-shirt them, build their bodies, but also build their pride in all things Mississippi State. Most of all, restore the pride in themselves and, as sinister as it sounds, hope they have a strain of vengeance running through their core to bind it all together.

A coach doesn't have to worry about a team built like Mississippi State looking ahead and not playing one game at a time. They want to play one game at a time because it means one payback at a time, too.


Ray Glier covers college football for Bleacher Report. He has covered college football and various other sports for 20 years. His work has appeared in USA Today, The New York Times, CNN, The Washington Post and Al Jazeera America. He is the author of How the SEC Became Goliath (Howard/Simon & Schuster, 2013).

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NCAA Football Rankings 2014: Full List of Week 7 College Standings and Polls

Let's just get this out of the way: Week 6 of the 2014 college football season was ridiculous.

Perhaps the writing was on the wall early. After all, Arizona kicked the week off by upsetting Oregon on Thursday. What followed after was sheer madness, as four more Top 10 teams—Alabama, Oklahoma, Texas A&M and UCLA—fell to unranked—and seemingly underrated—opponents.

Those losses shook up the standings far more than any previous week, and looking forward to Week 7, a bevy of pivotal matchups are on the slate once again. Before another week commences, let's take a look at the updated polls and analyze a few recent big movers.

Full FBS standings can be viewed at


Biggest Movers


Not many people realized TCU was one of the most talented teams in the nation until the Horned Frogs upset Oklahoma by a score of 37-33 in Week 6. Beforehand, the team won all three of its contests in decisive fashion, but it took a win over a ranked team to earn recognition.

Trevone Boykin has emerged as one of college football's most dangerous dual-threat quarterbacks. Against Oklahoma, he completed 20 of his 38 passing attempts for 318 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. He also rushed 22 times for 77 yards. To put things into perspective, Boykin amassed 395 of the team's 469 total yards.

The Horned Frogs don't simply rely on offense to accumulate victories, either. After allowing just 21 points over their first three contests, they gave up 33 to the Sooners; however, the team's playmakers showed up in a big way.

Solid in the trenches, TCU limited the dangerous Samaje Perine to just 3.5 yards per carry. Quarterback Trevor Knight only completed 14 of his 35 attempts, and he was picked off by Chris Hackett and Paul Dawson—who returned it for a touchdown.

Boykin and Dawson's performances earned them Big 12 Offensive and Defensive Player of the Week honors, respectively, via TCU Football's Twitter account:

This team is rolling right now; however, it will face another difficult contest in Week 7 against a prolific Baylor offense.



Why not give some kudos to the team that began the onslaught against Top 10 squads in Week 6?

The Wildcats entered their game against Oregon after surviving several close contests against unranked opponents. Although, things really clicked against the Ducks, as Arizona upset their Pac-12 foes for the second consecutive season.

On the offensive side of the ball, freshman quarterback Anu Solomon managed the game well enough, completing 20 of his 31 passes for 287 yards, one touchdown and one interception. His play allowed the run-heavy offense to control the clock and keep the dangerous Marcus Mariota off the field. A dangerous backfield combination of Terris Jones-Grigsby and Nick Wilson produced 207 yards and three touchdowns.

Head coach Rich Rodriguez praised his quarterback after the game, via Matt Moreno of

Arizona was strong in the trenches on the defensive side of the ball as well. A speedy, versatile Oregon running game was limited to just 3.5 yards per carry and zero touchdowns. In the end, the Wildcats offense gained 49 more yards than the high-octane Ducks unit.

While Arizona is currently undefeated, it must continue to display the same kind of moxie we saw against the Ducks. Difficult contests against USC, Washington State and UCLA are next on the slate, and it's time for the Wildcats to prove they are worthy of a Top 10 ranking.


Mississippi State

If there were any questions regarding if Mississippi State was for real, they were answered in Week 6. The Bulldogs put on arguably the most impressive display of the week, taking down Texas A&M in decisive fashion by a score of 48-31. The victory marked the team's second against a ranked team in as many weeks.

The final score of the Bulldogs' contest against the Aggies wasn't even as close as it looked. In fact, early in the fourth quarter, Mississippi State owned an impressive 31-point lead over the former No. 6 team in the nation.

Quarterback Dak Prescott was outstanding against Texas A&M. In one of the week's most efficient performances, he completed 20 of his 26 attempts for 268 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions. Prescott also showed off his ability to make plays with his legs, rushing 23 times for 77 yards and three scores.

Could Prescott be on the Heisman path? ESPN The Magazine tweeted some interesting comparisons:

Running back Josh Robinson is a perfect complement to the quarterback, as the bruising ball-carrier has been a menace to every defense he's faced of late. He torched the Aggies for 107 yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries, averaging 6.3 yards per rush.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Bulldogs tormented breakout quarterback Kenny Hill. While the signal-caller did throw for 365 yards and four touchdowns, he was only able to complete 37 of his 62 passing attempts and was intercepted three times—all by Richie Brown.

This team has all of the necessary playmakers on both sides of the ball to make a big run at the College Football Playoff. Although, a formidable opponent in No. 2 Auburn looms large in Week 7, creating a must-see matchup of SEC juggernauts.

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Texas Longhorns vs. Oklahoma Sooners: Betting Odds, Analysis and Prediction

The Texas Longhorns pulled off a big upset in last year’s Red River Rivalry game and will look to do the same thing Saturday when they meet the Oklahoma Sooners at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas. The Longhorns beat the Sooners 36-20 as 13.5-point underdogs in 2013 and will face a similar spread this time around.


Point spread: The Sooners opened as 14.5-point favorites at the Cotton Bowl, according to sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark (Line updates and matchup report).


Odds Shark computer prediction: 40.2-25.9 Sooners


Why the Texas Longhorns can cover the spread

Texas did it last season and will face a similar challenge this year as a double-digit dog. The Longhorns will get an Oklahoma team in a potential letdown spot after the Sooners lost at TCU last week.

With the Sooners no longer unbeaten, they may not be as motivated to win big and impress the pollsters to stay in consideration for one of the four playoff berths at the end of the season.

Last year, Texas ran the ball all over Oklahoma with 255 rushing yards on 60 carries. The Longhorns also got interception and punt return touchdowns, so it will likely take that kind of effort on both defense and special teams to knock off the Sooners for the second season in a row.


Why the Oklahoma Sooners can cover the spread

While Oklahoma could possibly be suffering from a letdown following last week’s loss, that setback could also work to the team’s advantage here as the Sooners simply cannot afford to overlook Texas right now. Another upset loss would most likely end any chance Oklahoma has of making it into the four-team playoff field, and an impressive win can only help the team’s case.

The Sooners will have a different quarterback under center in Trevor Knight, as last year’s starter Blake Bell is now lining up at tight end. Bell was terrible in last year’s game, completing 12 of 26 passes for 133 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown.


Smart Pick

The Longhorns have been awful this season, much worse than last year’s edition. They could only muster one touchdown in a 28-7 home loss to Baylor last week and will be hard-pressed to score much more than that against an angry Oklahoma team.

The Sooners are 3-1 against the spread (ATS) in the last four meetings with Texas and 7-2 versus the line in their past nine overall, so they are in much better form regardless of last week’s loss.

The Longhorns are 1-4 ATS in their last five games as an underdog and have struggled to move the ball with sophomore quarterback Tyrone Swoopes. Look for those struggles to continue against Oklahoma here in a big win for the Sooners.



  • The total has gone under in four of Texas' last five games on the road.
  • Oklahoma is 5-0 straight up in its last five 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.

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TCU Horned Frogs vs. Baylor Bears Betting Odds: Analysis and Prediction

The only two unbeaten teams left in the Big 12 will clash on Saturday when the TCU Horned Frogs visit the Baylor Bears. The Horned Frogs are an impressive 6-1 against the spread in their last seven meetings with the Bears, who have won and covered their past 13 home games, including the last eight against Big 12 opponents.


Point spread: Bears opened as 11-point favorites at McLane Stadium, according to sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark (line updates and matchup report).


Odds Shark computer prediction: 50.6-35.7 Bears


Why the TCU Horned Frogs can cover the spread

TCU continues to get a lack respect from oddsmakers, who have made the Horned Frogs double-digit road underdogs at Baylor despite their recent success in the series. The Bears won last season’s meeting 41-38 but failed to cover the 13.5-point spread and lost the previous home matchup with TCU, 49-21, two years ago as a six-point favorite.

In fact, Baylor has not beaten the Horned Frogs by more than three points since earning a 42-18 victory back in 1994. TCU has covered its past six dating back to last season, including three as an underdog in games decided by four points or less.


Why the Baylor Bears can cover the spread

There’s a good reason the Bears continue to be favored by double digits in games this year, and that’s because they have not won a game by less than 21 points. Baylor’s two closest losses were each decided by 21 points, and both still covered the spread.

The Bears beat Texas 28-7 on the road last week as 14-point favorites, which is the only time this season they have been favored by less than 20 points. Baylor’s offense is just so explosive and capable of scoring in bunches, making it difficult to set numbers on the team’s games, especially at home where they have a 13-game winning streak.


Smart Pick

The last loss for the Horned Frogs came at home against Baylor to close out last year. While they suffered through a disappointing 4-8 campaign in 2013, they still finished the season strong by covering their last two, which has carried over to this year.

TCU’s Gary Patterson remains one of the best coaches in the country and seems to know how to keep up with the Bears on the scoreboard. Patterson may not always beat his Baylor counterpart Art Briles, but he has done a great job hanging tough throughout their history of coaching against each other. For that reason, watch for the Horned Frogs to stay within striking distance yet again and at least remain undefeated against the spread this season.



  • TCU is 2-5 straight up in its last seven games on the road.
  • The total has gone over in eight of Baylor's last 11 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.

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Watch High Schooler Make Freakish J.J. Watt Pick-6

Charles Wade makes an incredibly athletic play in this high school football game that will make you have flashbacks of J.J. Watt in Week 4 of the NFL.

Charles Wade is listed as an athlete and is committed to Wake Forest, according to 247Sports. 

Is this better than the J.J. Watt interception?

Watch the video and let us know!

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Oregon Ducks vs. UCLA Bruins Betting Odds: Analysis and Prediction

Two Pac-12 teams that are both coming off tough home losses last week as double-digit favorites will try to rebound at the Rose Bowl when the Oregon Ducks visit the UCLA Bruins. The Ducks have won the last five meetings with the Bruins, but the teams have split the past six head-to-head matchups against the spread.


Point Spread: The Ducks opened as three-point favorites at Rose Bowl, but the spread has increased to 3.5 points as of Tuesday morning.

Odds Shark Computer Prediction: Ducks 42.2, Bruins 31.4


Why the Oregon Ducks Can Cover the Spread

Oregon has dominated the series recently, winning the last five meetings by an average of nearly 23 points. The Ducks ran into a very good Arizona team last week that seems to have their number, beating them for the second year in a row as 21.5-point underdogs, 31-24.

UCLA does not have that same mental edge here, and Oregon should be able to take advantage of a Bruins squad that has underachieved most of this season outside of a rout of Arizona State two weeks ago.

This is also a Heisman Trophy showcase game between two players who could be picked early in next year’s NFL draft. Ducks quarterback Marcus Mariota performed well in last year’s 42-14 victory against the Bruins while UCLA’s Brett Hundley did not.

Mariota should be extra motivated to outplay Hundley again.


Why the UCLA Bruins Can Cover the Spread

The Bruins had higher expectations going into this year and are a better team regardless of last week’s 30-28 home loss to Utah as 13-point favorites.

Maybe they were caught looking ahead to this game against Oregon, but UCLA still has an opportunity to bounce back in this spot as a home dog and can learn a lot from the Wildcats, who upset the Ducks last week.

Oregon is not invincible and also struggled on the road prior to its bye, needing a late touchdown to fend off Washington State in a 38-31 victory as a 21.5-point favorite.

Now that the Bruins have seen the Ducks have weaknesses like almost every other team, they should not be intimidated anymore.


Smart Pick

Oregon has failed to cover its last three road games and started showing signs of concern in the Pac-12 opener at Washington State. The Ducks are not the dominant team many thought they were heading into the season, and they have been exposed in their last two games.

Even though UCLA has covered the spread in just one game this season, the Bruins were playing on national TV when they routed Arizona State 62-27 and may have just fallen flat knowing Oregon was coming to town next after Utah.

Whatever the case may be, the Bruins have no excuses not to play their best game of the season against the Ducks and get revenge for losing the last five meetings.



  • Oregon is 13-2 straight up in its last 15 games on the road.
  • UCLA is 2-4 ATS in its last six 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.

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Oregon Ducks vs. UCLA Bruins Betting Odds: Analysis and Prediction

Two Pac -12 teams that are both coming off tough home losses last week as double-digit favorites will try to rebound at the Rose Bowl when the Oregon Ducks visit the UCLA Bruins...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

North Carolina Tar Heels vs. Notre Dame Betting Odds: Analysis and Prediction

The North Carolina Tar Heels were supposed to contend for a division title in the ACC this season. Instead, they've been one of the bigger disappointments in college football so far and one of the worst bets, going 0-5 against the spread. Carolina now packs its bags for an ACC road trip to South Bend to take on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish on Saturday afternoon.


Point spread: The Fighting Irish opened as 16-point favorites at Notre Dame Stadium, according to sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark (line updates and matchup report).


Odds Shark computer prediction: 30.9-20.3 Fighting Irish


Why the North Carolina Tar Heels can cover the spread

The Heels started 2-0 this year, so it's not like they don't know how to win games. But after three straight losses, in which they gave up 154 points, it's become a tough task to come up with reasons to back them financially.

Carolina is averaging 36 points per game, led by dual-threat quarterback Marquise Williams, who has thrown for 1,000 yards and nine scores and has run for 240 yards and two more touchdowns. After falling behind big in their last two games, they've rallied and had chances to cover. They're also fairly healthy, which is good. Perhaps the Heels can live up to preseason expectations and give the Irish a battle Saturday.


Why the Notre Dame Fighting Irish can cover the spread

The Irish are 5-0 straight up and 4-1 ATS this season

They beat Stanford 17-14 last week, winning outright as two-point home dogs. Notre Dame outgained the Cardinal 370-205 and outrushed them 129-47. The Irish harassed Stanford quarterback Kevin Hogan into an 18-for-36 passing performance with two interceptions, and they got a game-winning touchdown pass from Everett Golson on a 4th-and-11 with a minute to go.

The Irish are now 15-1 SU and 10-5-1 ATS in games Golson has started at quarterback.


Smart Pick

Until North Carolina demonstrates it can stop somebody on defense, it cannot be considered a viable betting option. The Heels gave up 29 points to Liberty in the season opener, 70 to East Carolina and 50 to Clemson. And you can't cover spreads if you can't get your defense off the field. So the pick here goes with the Golden Domers, minus the points.



  • North Carolina is 3-10 ATS in its last 13 games on the road.
  • Notre Dame is 5-0 SU in its last five 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.

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