NCAA Football

Michigan Wolverines vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish Betting Odds: Analysis, Pick

With Notre Dame moving to a part-time ACC schedule, a great Midwestern rivalry comes to a close when the Irish host Michigan on Saturday night in South Bend.

Notre Dame has lost six of their last eight meetings with the Wolverines, going 2-6 ATS over that span, and got mocked with the “chicken dance” after losing at the Big House last year. Might the revenge factor be in play for this one?

 

Point spread: The Fighting Irish opened as 6-point favorites; the total was 55.5, according to sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark. (Line updates and matchup report)

 

Odds Shark computer prediction: 35.4-30.0 Wolverines

 

Why the Michigan Wolverines can cover the spread

The Wolverines opened their season with a 52-14 victory over Appalachian State, covering as 28-point chalk. In fact, Michigan had that line covered at halftime, leading 35-0.

They out-gained the Mountaineers 560-280, piling up 350 yards on the ground. Michigan returned 15 starters this year, seven on offense, led by senior quarterback Devin Gardner, who threw just one incompletion last week. There are three returning starters along the offensive line, and eight on defense.

Last year, Gardner had one of his best days as a collegian against Notre Dame, throwing for 294 yards and four scores and running for 82 yards and another touchdown. UM has covered just seven of 23 road games, but this is a number they can handle, and the computer is picking the upset.

 

Why the Notre Dame Fighting Irish can cover the spread

The Irish, with QB Everett Golson back behind center, dispatched of Rice last Saturday 48-17, covering the spread as 20-point favorites.

The Golden Domers scored twice in the last three minutes of the first half to take a 28-10 lead into the locker room and pulled away from there. Notre Dame piled up 576 yards of offense on the Owls, as Golson threw for 295 and two scores and ran for three more.

The Irish are now 11-1 SU and 7-4-1 ATS when Golson starts. Notre Dame, without Golson, lost at Ann Arbor last year 41-30, missing the cover as four-point dogs, but that game was up for grabs midway through the fourth quarter.

 

Smart Pick

Michigan has held the upper hand in this rivalry recently, and with 15 starters back they should not be intimidated by playing in front of a hostile crown at Notre Dame Stadium.

This rivalry has also featured several close games recently; from 2009-11 the Wolverines won three straight games by four points before the Irish won by a touchdown in 2012.

And as mentioned above, last year's game was a four-point affair until Michigan scored with four minutes to go to win by 11. So for what should be another close game, the smart pick is with the Wolverines and the points.

 

Trends:

  • Michigan is 4-1 ATS in its last five games
  • Michigan lost nine of 10 SU as an underdog since start of 2012 season
  • Notre Dame is 26-2 SU in its past 28 games as favorites

 

Note: All point spread and lines data courtesy of Odds Shark, all quotes gathered first-hand unless otherwise noted. Check out Twitter for injury updates and line move updates, and get the free odds tracker app.

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Auburn's Potential Dark-Horse Heisman Trophy Candidate

Move over Nick Marshall, there's a new Heisman Trophy candidate on the Plains.

Wide receiver D'haquille "Duke" Williams.

While most of the focus for the stiff-arm trophy is centered on quarterbacks, Auburn sent a running back—Tre Mason—to New York last December as a Heisman finalist.

Judging from his Week 1 performance against Arkansas, Williams could be the second non-quarterback in as many years to throw his hat into the Heisman ring.

Williams caught nine passes for 154 yards and a touchdown in his debut for head coach Gus Malzahn's crew, showing off the big-play ability that followed him to Auburn as the No. 1 junior college prospect in the class of 2014.

"He’s very talented and we saw that in the spring and saw that in fall camp," Malzahn said in quotes emailed by Auburn. "I was happy for him that he was able to transition success in practice to the field. It’s like anything else—the more comfortable he feels in our offense, the better he will be."

Why might Williams jump into the Heisman fray?

 

Matchup Nightmare

At 6'2", 216 pounds with long arms and catlike agility, Williams presents a matchup problem for opposing defensive coordinators.

Should coaches line up their No. 1 corner on Williams or Sammie Coates—the 6'2", 201-pound junior who finished third in the nation in yards per catch last year at 21.48? Who should be double-teamed?

Even the best corners in the country would struggle with Coates on an island, which leaves a corner and/or a safety alone with Williams. Not an easy task.

In the opener against Arkansas, we saw Williams score on an 18-yard catch-and-run on a slant over the middle and gain 62 yards on a post route. On both plays, he was lined up in the slot, which allows Williams to use that big body and catch radius over the middle against players who simply can't cover him.

Tight end C.J. Uzomah knows how much this helps, via Ryan Black of the Columbus (Ga.) Ledger-Enquirer.

Uzomah said having D'haquille Williams lining up in the slot creates an "awful matchup" for opposing defenses.

— WarEagleExtra (@wareagleextra) September 2, 2014

Malzahn agrees.

"He's one of those guys who's big and can also run. He gives you the best of both worlds," he said. "It takes a lot of versatility to play that inside receiver in our offense. We moved him around a little bit on Saturday, and you'll see us move all of our guys around more as the season goes on."

What should opposing defensive coordinators do? Double Williams and leave Sammie Coates one-on-one? Coates will win those matchups more often than not, and something like this might happen:

Having Coates outside coupled with Williams' versatility is a big problem for the opposition and a tremendous luxury for Malzahn and offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee.

 

Touchdown Machine

Williams' lone touchdown reception against the Hogs came on a quick slant and run over the middle, where he powered through a defender and reached the ball into the end zone. 

He's just scratching the surface.

Williams' ability to put his body in position to make a catch and then hit top speed in a hurry makes him a weapon to score from just about anywhere on the field. 

In the red zone, Williams' leaping ability and body control make him a prime option for Malzahn and Lashlee on corner routes and fade routes. He showed off these traits in the spring game, nabbing a perfectly placed fade from Marshall in the corner of the end zone for a touchdown.

Are 15 touchdowns out of reach? Not in the least. If that happens, those touchdowns could help Williams punch his ticket to New York City.

 

His Part of Nick Marshall's Progression

Fair or not, Marshall is viewed as a system quarterback by a large portion of the country. He's a runner first, and he takes advantage of secondaries that creep up to defend the multidimensional Auburn running game. The goal this year for Auburn's passing game was to be more balanced with Marshall.

"We led the country in rushing last year. When you do that, defenses have to take some chances," head coach Gus Malzahn said at Media Days in July. "We've got to do a better job this year of making them pay when they do take chances."

The staff worked with Marshall this offseason to be more consistent through the air. If he progresses, it's likely that Williams' presence as a versatile weapon will be a big reason for that in the minds of Heisman voters.

Will Marshall still be viewed as a system quarterback?

By some, yes, and for those who still hold that card against him, the obvious beneficiary will be Williams, who will get credited for Marshall's development.

It's going to take a lot for a wide receiver to become a legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate. Being a dark-horse Heisman Trophy candidate, however, isn't as difficult.

Williams has the skills, system and exposure to make a pretty strong case if Week 1 is any indication of what's in store for him and the Tigers in 2014.

 

Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer and video analyst for Bleacher Report, and co-host of the CFB Hangover on Bleacher Report Radio (Sundays 9-11 a.m. ET) on Sirius 93, XM 208. Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. All stats are courtesy of CFBStats.com, and all recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports.

 


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Florida State Shirt Burns SEC for Losing 2014 BCS National Championship Game

The Southeastern Conference won seven straight BCS National Championships from 2006 to 2012, but as SEC haters like to point out, the conference also lost two of the final three championship games.

Florida State's 34-31 victory in the 2014 title game not only marked the end of the BCS, but it also put an end to the SEC's reign atop the college football world. The Seminoles' victory also gave one Florida State fan the perfect opportunity to troll the SEC.

[Twitter, h/t Sporting News

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Memphis Tigers vs. UCLA Bruins Betting Odds: Analysis and Prediction

UCLA survived a cross-country trip and upset bid from Virginia last week but couldn't cover a big number on the point spread.

The Bruins now head home to entertain Memphis this Saturday at the Rose Bowl, where they will be favored by a big number once again.

UCLA has had good luck covering large spreads recently, but the Tigers haven't been too bad at covering big numbers themselves. Of course, these teams have been on opposite sides of those numbers, but it still makes for a tough pick.

 

Point spread: The Bruins opened as 24-point favorites; the total was 55 midweek, according to sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark. (Line updates and matchup report)

 

Odds Shark computer prediction: 33.9-13.1 Bruins

 

Why the Memphis Tigers can cover the spread

The Tigers began their season with a 63-0 romp over Austin Peay, covering the spread as 38-point favorites. Memphis had the line covered at halftime with a 42-0 lead and clamped down from there, out-gaining the Governors 545-146, racking up 303 yards on the ground and holding the ball for 34 minutes.

The Tigers also return 17 starters this year, including their starting quarterback, last year's leading rusher, the entire receiving corps, three along the offensive line and eight on defense.

Memphis has been dogged by 20 points or more six times over the last two seasons, going 4-2 ATS and nearly pulling off a couple of upsets.

 

Why the UCLA Bruins can cover the spread

The Bruins won at Virginia on Saturday, 28-20, and actually had the spread pushed late in the second quarter when they led 21-3.

Statistically, the game was about even, but the UCLA defense scored three touchdowns. This year, the Bruins return 17 starters, five more than last year when they went 10-3. Nine starters are back on offense, led by Heisman candidate QB Brett Hundley, as well as last year's top three rushers and four along the offensive line, and eight are back on defense.

UCLA is 10-3 SU, 8-5 ATS at home under head coach Jim Mora and 4-1 ATS when favored by three touchdowns or more. Their foes have lost 22 of 25 road games dating back several seasons.

 

Smart pick

If UCLA plays like it did last week, it will not cover this spread. However, after last week's lackluster performance offensively, the Bruins will be looking to break loose this week.

And Memphis is not Virginia, and the Rose Bowl is not in Charlottesville. Also, Hundley needs some good numbers to enhance his Heisman status.

So the smart money on this one should go with the favorite, minus the points.

 

Trends:

  • Memphis is 3-22 SU in its last 25 games on the road
  • UCLA is 6-1 SU in its last 7 games

 

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

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Memphis Tigers vs. UCLA Bruins Betting Odds: Analysis and Prediction

UCLA survived a cross-country trip and upset bid from Virginia last week but couldn't cover a big number on the point spread...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

Michigan Football: Wolverines QB Devin Gardner Leads by Doing Less

Devin Gardner has learned that being a leader doesn't mean that he needs to do everything himself. 

The last time Michigan played Notre Dame, Gardner had one of the best games of his career, leading the Wolverines in both passing and rushing yards. On last year’s squad Gardner had to be Superman for Michigan to win.

But under Doug Nussmeier’s new offensive scheme Gardner needs to be more Clark Kent—a mild-mannered part of the team, showing leadership by allowing his teammates to shine.

After a restless offseason, Michigan unveiled its new offense during a cathartic 52-14 bludgeoning of Appalachian State last week. Lost in the statistics was Gardner’s rushing totals, as he had five carries for nine yards.

Last season that stat line would have translated into a crushing defeat. But now, leading an offense built to feature his talented teammates, Gardner has been freed up to manage the game and has immersed himself in learning the team’s new streamlined offense.

His knowledge of the playbook allowed him to make a key adjustment that resulted in a huge play against Appalachian State.

"I think the one, biggest offensive play of the game was when Devin checked us out of a play," said Hoke. “On a 3rd-and-1, in the third quarter and then he checked us into a great play that goes for 60, and it was communicated all the way down the front, out to the Mike point and to the wide receivers and how that was going to block out. ... When you look at that communication, his awareness, that was big.”

Last season Gardner repeatedly put the team on his back, relying on his talent and playmaking ability to win games. For a while, it worked. But as Michigan’s offensive line deteriorated, the season took a toll on Gardner physically and emotionally. His season ended after being injured during a gutsy performance against Ohio State.

Gardner returned motivated to lead his teammates and humbled by the talent surrounding him.

Last week he grudgingly acknowledged that he was no longer the best athlete on the team when questioned about freshman defensive back Jabrill Peppers.

"Him and [Devin] Funchess are probably the top two athletes on the team,” said Gardner. “I kind of get pissed a little bit, because I used to always like to think I was the top athlete on the team. But these two guys…they’re pretty elite."

Last year Hoke admonished Gardner for trying to do too much and taking unnecessary risks in attempting to make big plays, “but Superman has to be smart too. He doesn't eat kryptonite.”

The new offense allows Gardner share the load with receiver Funchess, running backs Derrick Green and De’Veon Smith and tight end Jake Butt, who will soon return from an ACL injury.

Surrounded by an arsenal of talented offensive weapons, Gardner’s key contribution is now leadership.

On Saturday against Notre Dame, we'll get an indication of how far that leadership can take the Wolverines this season.

 

Phil Callihan is a featured writer for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotations in this article were obtained via Press Conferences or in person.

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@PSCallihan

All season statistics from MGoBlue.com, official University of Michigan athletic department website.

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Nebraska Football: Players Who Must Step Up in Randy Gregory's Absence

It wasn't what Nebraska fans wanted to see. In the Huskers' first matchup of the season, defensive end Randy Gregory sat himself on the bench with an apparent knee injury.

Pelini later confirmed that an old injury resurfaced for the junior, per Sam McKewon of the Omaha World-Herald. While Pelini believes Gregory could have finished playing against Florida Atlantic, further injury wasn't worth the risk. He's expected to return by the Fresno State game.

Until then, a couple of players will have to step up to fill the void left by Gregory. Who will those players be?

 

Jack Gangwish (DE, Junior)

In Gregory's absence against Florida Atlantic, walk-on junior Jack Gangwish was tasked with stepping up. The defensive end did a fine job, too.

Defensive coordinator John Papuchis was pleased with his performance against the Owls. As the Omaha World-Herald reported, he thought the junior handled the opportunity well:

Obviously I want Randy to play. He’s certainly one of our best players, but also there’s something to be said for having an opportunity to find out about some of your other guys, especially early in the year. And I think we found out a little bit about Jack. I thought Jack did a really nice job today.

Beyond just his performance, Gangwish's attitude was spectacular following the game. As Hail Varsity's Brandon Vogel noted, he was exceptionally excited to talk with the media.

“They did a lot of work with me and put in a lot of extra time and molded me into a new football player,” Gangwish said, per Vogel. “I’m pretty happy about it.”

Gangwish only had one tackle against Florida Atlantic, but the experience is truly what matters. The mix of a positive attitude and some experience under his belt should allow another good game for Gangwish against McNeese State.

 

Greg McMullen (DE, Sophomore)

With Gregory out, Greg McMullen is going to have to step up as a leader. Gregory will still be able to lead from the sidelines, but when it comes to those moments on the field, it's going to fall on McMullen's shoulders.

The good news is that McMullen appears to have found some attitude in the offseason, as the Omaha World-Herald's McKewon noted. McKewon also when on to say that McMullen "was more physical and demonstrative Saturday than he was at any time last year."

As for his responsibility going forward, McMullen plans to remain calm, despite temporarily losing Gregory. He also plans to keep improving.

“When first-team, All-American Randy Gregory goes down, it is a big concern because that is a critical part of our defensive line and also one of our leaders,” McMullen said, per The Daily Nebraskan. “But when you’re a competitor in this sport, stuff is going to happen.”

Against Florida Atlantic, McMullen had four total tackles with one sack, per ESPN.com. The sophomore believes he and his teammates can get better.

“We beat Florida Atlantic, but let’s take it with a grain of salt,” McMullen said, per The Daily Nebraskan. “There’s a lot of things that need to be fixed. We start preparation for next week. The reality is on the film, so we will watch it and get better.”

 

Marcus Newby (LB, Redshirt Freshman)

The Florida Atlantic game was a big game for Marcus Newby. It was the redshirt freshman's big debut for Nebraska. It became even bigger when Gregory was injured.

As the Lincoln Journal Star's Steven M. Sipple noted, Newby's role as a pass-rushing specialist could be even more important now that Gregory is out. As for his first performance, Newby is already looking to improve.

"I feel it went alright. I think I could do a lot better," he said, per Sipple.

In Gregory's absence, Newby will play a crucial role as he will occasionally be used to give Gangwish a breather in potential pass-rush situations. Newby ultimately showed against Florida Atlantic that he can step in and help after losing a key defensive player in Gregory.

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Awful Fan Murders Innocent Beach Ball at Arizona vs. UNLV Game

We can’t have anything nice anymore.

For reasons we’ll never fully understand, a cross section of human beings are born on this planet without the capacity to enjoy anything.

They frown at birthday candles, despise dancing and smack pay phones off their receivers whenever the opportunity presents itself. They are Fun Suckers, and one from their ranks ruined a good time in progress at Friday’s college football season opener between the University of Arizona and UNLV.

The incident occurred when one Arizona fan intercepted a beach ball making its way around the stadium and crushed it underfoot.

Redditor @DannyMB87 (h/t NextImpulseSports.com’s Pete Blackburn) spotted footage of the man and his callous act. He is a no-good, cargo-short-wearing schlub, and he must be brought to justice.

The worst part of this entire exchange might be the perpetrator’s self-congratulation after popping the ball. He gives himself a hand and encourages others to do so, as if he did something novel or benefitting the community.

Let’s be clear: This man did nothing more than ruin a good time for the sake of being a contrarian. He’s the football equivalent of the jackwagon who deliberately ended a pay-it-forward line at a Starbucks and acted like he saved the public from a rising menace.

You did not save anyone from anything, Wildcats bro. You popped a child’s balloon. Just check out the kid giving you a thumbs down.

For shame. For shame.

 

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

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Awful Fan Murders Innocent Beach Ball at Arizona vs. UNLV Game

We can’t have anything nice anymore. For reasons we’ll never fully understand, a cross section of human beings are born on this planet without the capacity to enjoy anything...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

Kansas State Wildcats vs. Iowa State Cyclones Betting Odds: Analysis, Prediction

The Kansas State Wildcats will open Big 12 conference play on the road against an Iowa State Cyclones team they have beaten six straight times and hope to extend their series winning streak.

However, only one of those six consecutive wins for Kansas State was decided by more than eight points, last year’s 41-7 home victory.

 

Point spread: The KSU Wildcats opened as 15.5-point favorites, but betting forced the number down to -12 by Wednesday; the total was 57 at Jack Trice Stadium, according to sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark (line updates and matchup report).

 

Odds Shark computer prediction: 44-19 KSU Wildcats

 

Why the Kansas State Wildcats can cover the spread

The Wildcats have obviously enjoyed a lot of recent success against the Cyclones, but they have also been playing very well overall. Kansas State has won seven of its last eight games overall dating back to last season to go along with a 7-3 mark against the spread in the team’s past 10, including a failed cover last week in a 55-16 rout of Stephen F. Austin as a 42-point favorite.

The Wildcats barely missed the cover in their season opener and could not have played much better outside of an interception thrown by quarterback Jake Waters, who also completed 19 of 28 passes for 223 yards and two touchdowns before giving way to backup Joe Hubener.

They are riding a profitable 14-4 ATS run in Big 12 play.

 

Why the Iowa State Cyclones can cover the spread

All the trends seem to go against Iowa State here, so it’s hard to fathom how this team can pull off the upset against Kansas State. However, the Cyclones are coming off a 34-14 home loss to the same North Dakota State team that upset their opponent 24-21 on the road last year.

There’s no shame in losing to the Bison, who have won 25 straight games and three consecutive national championships at the FCS level. In fact, the Wildcats rebounded for a big win and cover the following week last season, proving that a loss like that can serve as motivation instead.

Iowa State will need plenty of that and will try to use the home field to its advantage. Kansas State dropped its first two road games a year ago and could have trouble covering double digits.

 

Smart Pick

The Wildcats have gone 12-4 against the spread in their last 16 road games, and head coach Bill Snyder will remind them that the Cyclones should not be overlooked in this spot.

Iowa State’s first four losses last year were all decided by eight points or less, but they collapsed in their next three games after that, falling by a combined 129 points.

The Cyclones have seen games get out of control early on them, and they trailed Kansas State 41-0 last year before finally scoring with 3:24 remaining. They hung in there last week against North Dakota State, down just 17-14 at halftime, but were blanked 17-0 after the intermission.

That inability to adjust gives Kansas State a major edge to not only win but also cover, especially with Snyder on the sidelines.

 

Trends

  • The total has gone UNDER in five of six recent meetings at Iowa State.
  • Kansas State is 14-4 ATS in its past 18 conference games.

 

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

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Florida Atlantic vs. Alabama Crimson Tide Betting Odds: Analysis and Prediction

The Alabama Crimson Tide got a bit of a scare last week in their season opener and will look for a better performance when they host the Florida Atlantic Owls in their first home game.

Alabama failed to cover the spread as a 22-point favorite in a 33-23 win over West Virginia at the Georgia Dome last week, while Florida Atlantic saw its four-game winning streak end in a 55-7 loss to Nebraska.

 

Point spread: The Crimson Tide opened as 39-point favorites; the total was 50.5 at Bryant-Denny Stadium, according to sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark (line updates and matchup report). 

 

Odds Shark computer prediction: 36.5-3.0 Crimson Tide

 

Why the Florida Atlantic Owls can cover the spread

The Owls finished last season strong, going 4-0 straight up and 3-1 against the spread. They have also been an outstanding road team over the last few seasons, with a 12-2 mark in their past 14 games away from home.

One of those losses against the number obviously came last week, and Florida Atlantic made it through the entire 2013 season without failing to cover consecutive games, with a 9-3 ATS mark overall in 2013.

The Crimson Tide are also breaking in a new quarterback, senior Blake Sims, who was solid but did not do anything special in the victory against the Mountaineers, throwing for 250 yards with one interception and no touchdowns.

Alabama has covered just three times in 10 recent games when favored by four TDs or more, according to the database at Odds Shark.

 

Why the Alabama Crimson Tide can cover the spread

Alabama does not need to count on the arm of Sims to win games. Instead, the Tide just need to run the ball like they did against the Mountaineers, totalling 288 rushing yards on 49 carries.

Junior running back T.J Yeldon is a legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate who is looking for his third straight 1,000-yard season, and he got off to a good start with 126 yards and two touchdowns versus West Virginia.

Sophomore running back Derrick Henry also had 113 yards and one TD on the ground, giving Alabama a solid one-two punch yet again that can steamroll opponents late in games.

The Owls surrendered 498 rushing yards to the Cornhuskers last week and will likely face a similar struggle in trying to contain Yeldon and Henry.

 

Smart Pick

Do not sleep on the Tide. Just because they failed to roll over the Mountaineers does not mean they are not capable of returning to form at any time.

Alabama is 4-1 ATS in its last five home games and remains a very dangerous team, probably best compared to a sleeping giant fully capable of destroying the opposition and making everybody forget what happened last week.

Sims will only become more comfortable running the offense, and running is exactly what his team needs to do in order to be successful.

It will also help him greatly to have the support of the home crowd backing him, giving him more confidence as he looks for a breakout performance.

 

Trends:

  • Florida Atlantic is 17-6 ATS in its last 23 games overall.
  • Alabama is only 3-7 ATS the last 10 times when favored by four touchdowns or more.

 

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

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College Football Playoff Standings 2014: Week 2 Rankings & Bowl Game Projections

Week 1 of the 2014 college football season is in the books, but at Bleacher Report we're always looking ahead. That's why bowl projections are already up. 

Projections are based on an equal split between Week 1 results, what problems or questions those results answer and strength of schedule for the remaining season. 

Here's how the two major Top 25 polls looked after Week 1.

 

Associated Press Top 25

1. Florida State
2. Alabama
3. Oregon
4. Oklahoma
5. Auburn
6. Georgia
7. Michigan State
8. Ohio State
9. Texas A&M
10. Baylor
11. UCLA
12. LSU
13. Stanford
14. USC
15. Ole Miss
16. Notre Dame
17. Arizona State
18. Wisconsin
19. Nebraska
20. Kansas State
21. South Carolina
21. North Carolina
23. Clemson
24. Missouri
25. Louisville

 

USA Today Amway Coaches Poll 

1. Florida State
2. Alabama
3. Oklahoma
4. Oregon
5. Auburn
6. Michigan State
7. Ohio State
8. Georgia
9. Baylor
10. Stanford
11. UCLA
12. LSU
13. Texas A&M
14. USC
15. Notre Dame
16. Arizona State
17. Ole Miss
18. Nebraska
19. Wisconsin
20. Kansas State
21. South Carolina
22. Missouri
23. North Carolina
24. Clemson
25. Texas

Begin Slideshow

Which LSU RB Will Emerge as Tigers' Top Rusher in Week 2

The LSU Tigers are coming off of a huge win against the Wisconsin Badgers in Week 1 of the 2014 season. Bleacher Report College Football Analysts Barrett Sallee and Adam Kramer discuss what to expect from the Tigers in their Week 2 matchup. What are your predictions for Les Miles and his program this week in Baton Rouge?

Watch the video and let us know.

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Notre Dame Fan's Yard Gets Transformed into Fighting Irish Football Field

One Notre Dame fan is extremely prepared for college football season.

Fighting Irish fan Bruce Straughan took to Facebook to show off pictures of a mini Notre Dame football field—complete with mini goal posts—in his yard. 

When you have that much space in your yard, you might as well put it to good use.

[Facebook, h/t College Spun]

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BYU Cougars vs. Texas Longhorns Betting Odds: Analysis and Prediction

The Texas Longhorns will be out for revenge when they host the BYU Cougars after suffering an embarrassing 40-21 road loss against them last year during Mack Brown’s last year as head coach.

The Longhorns are hoping to prove they are a new team this year under Brown’s replacement Charlie Strong. They got off to a good start with a 38-7 win over North Texas in their season opener.

 

Point spread: The Longhorns opened as 4.5-point favorites; the total was at sitting around 47 at Memorial Stadium, according to sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark (line updates and matchup report).

 

Odds Shark computer prediction: 28.5-17.9 Longhorns

 

Why the BYU Cougars can cover the spread

If the Cougars run the ball like they did last year against Texas, they will not only cover the spread again but also pull off another upset. BYU had a school-record 550 rushing yards against the Longhorns, the most the proud school has ever allowed on the ground.

Quarterback Taysom Hill and running back Jamaal Williams did most of the damage with 441 yards between them to lead the Cougars, and the junior Hill is an even better passer now than he was when he faced Texas last year. Hill completed just nine of 26 passes for 129 yards with one interception and no touchdowns in the last meeting, but he is coming off a 308-yard, three-TD performance in a 35-10 rout of UConn last week.

He also ran for 97 yards and scored two TDs on the ground against the Huskies, proving he is one of the best dual-threat signal-callers in the country.

 

Why the Texas Longhorns can cover the spread

The Longhorns can’t play any worse than they did last year against BYU, and even then they were able to stay close during the first half before the Cougars literally ran away with the game. Texas trailed the Cougars 17-14 at halftime and already looked a lot better defensively last week under Strong in the win over the Mean Green.

The Longhorns picked off four passes, limited North Texas to only three completions on 17 pass attempts and held the opposition to 94 yards of total offense in the 38-7 rout. The Cougars will be a much tougher test, but they are 1-4 against the spread in their last five road games, while Texas is 5-1 straight up in its last six at home with a 4-2 mark ATS.

 

Smart Pick

The loss to BYU last year was the beginning of the end for Brown in Austin even though his team did rebound with a six-game winning streak later in the season.

Surrendering 40 points or more in two of the Longhorns' first three games with the OVER cashing four times in the first five, including the loss to the Cougars, was enough to show the Texas faithful they needed a change.

The Longhorns have simply too much talent to play that poorly again defensively, and Strong looks to be the right man for the job so far.

Both teams like to run the ball, making for a low-scoring game, and the trends match that style perfectly. The UNDER is not only 5-0 in the last five games overall and at home for Texas but also 7-1 in the past eight road games for BYU.

 

Trends

  • The total has gone UNDER in six of BYU's last seven games.
  • Texas is 8-3 SU in its last 11 games.

 

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

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How Auburn Can Use Nick Marshall, Jeremy Johnson at Same Time

AUBURN, Ala. — After his fantastic first-half performance against Arkansas last Saturday, it's going to be hard for Auburn to keep Jeremy Johnson off the field this season.

The sophomore handled the pressure of his first career start against an SEC opponent and threw for 246 yards against Arkansas. He showed poise and precision in the pocket by completing his first eight passes, including a 62-yard strike to new wide receiver D'haquille Williams.

Johnson then gave way to returning starter Nick Marshall, who did not start the season opener as part of his punishment for a marijuana citation earlier in the summer. Marshall will start this Saturday in Auburn's home game against Mountain West foe San Jose State.

And, despite his impressive half-hour of work against the Razorbacks, Johnson said he is completely fine with that.

"Nick is our starting quarterback, and that's it," Johnson said after Saturday's game. "He's the starter, and he's going to start the rest of this season. Whenever I'm called upon to come in, to do what I have to do, I'm going to make it happen."

So how can Auburn implement Johnson in its high-powered offense now that Marshall has served his suspension? Malzahn and offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee have repeatedly said the Montgomery, Ala. native will have more responsibility this season.

"Nick is still the quarterback, but Jeremy will have a role," Malzahn said after the Arkansas win. "We talked in the offseason about giving him more of different situations and packages."

But what will that role look like?

More preset package plays? Entire drives for Johnson while Marshall waits on the sideline?

When Auburn ran Johnson in special package plays, the results were far from outstanding. Outside of the extended playing time against Western Carolina and Florida Atlantic, Johnson was only 2-of-4 passing for 29 yards.

How about playing the two dynamic quarterbacks together?

While Auburn will most likely give Johnson more first-team snaps after his season-opening outing, there is enough room on the field and more than enough creativity in Gus Malzahn's mind for the Tigers to run some plays with both Johnson and Marshall.

Malzahn has tried plays featuring two quarterbacks—one starter and one former starter—on a few occasions during his time as the Tigers offensive coordinator.

In 2009, against Louisiana Tech, quarterback Chris Todd faked a handoff to running back Ben Tate on a zone read, then flipped the ball to former starting quarterback (and later Malzahn assistant coach) Kodi Burns, who overthrew a pass to tight end Tommy Trott.

A formation like this one, with Marshall lined up as a slot receiver, could give the Auburn offense a deadly new "quadruple option."

Johnson would run a normal zone read with any one of the Tigers running backs: Cameron Artis-Payne, Corey Grant, Peyton Barber or Roc Thomas.

He would then have the option to flip it to the sprinting Marshall, who could take off for a long run or throw the ball late, like he did in this now-famous game-tying touchdown against Alabama last season.

That type of play off a read option, known as a "pop pass" (play-option pass), could also be tweaked with a two-quarterback backfield.

Of the examples in this column, this one might be the furthest stretch to see in a Malzahn offense. However, this type of look has had success at other schools, most notably Louisiana-Monroe.

Todd Berry's Warhawks came close to defeating Baylor in a ridiculously fun 45-41 shootout two seasons ago. In the clip below, starter Kolton Browning and backup Cody Wells throw off the Baylor defense by sharing the backfield for a couple of plays.

Wells first handed off to the left-handed Browning, who rolled to the left side to hit a wide-open receiver. On the next play, the roles were reversed, and Wells threw off a zone-read handoff for a bigger gain downfield.

Before the Warhawks could get their next play off with the two quarterbacks, Baylor called a timeout to straighten itself out, to the delight of the ULM sideline and fans.

With two players established at running and throwing off the read option—although Johnson didn't register a single run against Arkansas, he said his opening touchdown pass to Melvin Ray was off a designed run—defenses facing Auburn would have to face a ULM-like option that could either be:

  1. A fake to Marshall and a keeper for Johnson.
  2. A fake to Marshall and a pop pass from Johnson.
  3. A give to Marshall for a run.
  4. A give to Marshall and a pop pass from Marshall.

The third and final example would also be taken from a formation familiar to Malzahn's playbook: the Wildcat.

The Tigers rolled out the familiar, unbalanced set last Saturday against Arkansas with former high school quarterback and now-senior wide receiver Quan Bray taking the shotgun snaps. Auburn went with the "WildCAP" formation, ran by Artis-Payne, early in the 2013 season before Marshall's zone-read game took over.

Auburn has several weapons it can use in the Wildcat formation, as detailed by AL.com's Brandon Marcello in his Tuesday story on Bray:

Malzahn has shown a penchant for recruiting receivers and running backs who also handled some quarterback duties in high school. Five receivers and one tight end—C.J. Uzomah, Marcus Davis, Stanton Truitt, Quan Bray, Ricardo Louis and Bray—played some quarterback in high school.

If Malzahn lines up one of the quarterbacks on the outside, he could have another Wildcat candidate with the other, who would have more experience throwing the ball against collegiate defenses than the receivers.

Two quarterbacks in the Wildcat would open up the door for more standard passes to the other wideouts, double passes and maybe a throwback to Burns-to-Newton from the 2010 Ole Miss game.

Of course, none of these suggested sets would become the focus of Auburn's offense. When you have one of the most effective attacks in college football, the old adage "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" rings true. 

But with Malzahn's tendency to sometimes run out-of-the-box plays in order to keep the defense off-balance and dial up a quick touchdown, there is always a chance fans could see some two-quarterback formations this fall.

Last Saturday proved the Tigers have not one, but two signal-callers who will shine when given the chance.

Instead of keeping one dynamic quarterback on the field while the other goes to work, why not double the trouble for opposing defenses?

Call a few plays for both and keep everybody guessing. It's the Malzahn way.

 

Justin Ferguson is Bleacher Report's lead Auburn writer. Follow him on Twitter @JFergusonAU. All quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. All recruiting rankings and information courtesy of 247Sports. All stats courtesy of CFBStats.com.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

CFB Insider Buzz: Will Baylor Continue Success After Bryce Petty Spine Injury?

After an eventful first week of the 2014 college football season, Bleacher Report college football analyst Barrett Sallee dives into the hottest topics heading into Week 2.

What are you looking forward to the most in the second week of college football?

Watch the video and let us know. 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

College Football Rankings 2014: Official Week 2 Polls and Playoff Projections

What a difference one week can make in the college football season. Before Week 1 began, the biggest debate surrounding the FBS was the validity of the rankings. While some teams seemed to be in legitimate positions, others appeared either over or undervalued.

With one game in the books for each team, we've seen the Top 25 shaken up in a big way. Here's a look at the updated AP Poll followed by some very early playoff projections.

The Amway Coaches Poll can be found at USAToday.com. Here's a look at Bleacher Report's Top 25.

 

The top four teams remained the same for another week; however, things changed in drastic fashion thereafter.

Auburn moved closer following its big win over Arkansas. Georgia made a huge jump after Todd Gurley and Co. dismantled Clemson. Texas A&M moved all the way up to No. 9 after pummeling South Carolina, which incidentally fell to No. 21. Louisville became the only newcomer to the list, jumping up from 31st to 25th after an impressive win over Miami.

While all of these teams appear deserving of their current ranks following one week of action, only four can move on to the College Football Playoff. Projections are in order.

 

Playoff Projections

Florida State

The Seminoles are poised to make a nice run through the regular season once again. Don't let the team's stumble against Oklahoma State in Week 1 fool you.

Sure, Florida State's running game wasn't exactly stellar, and Jameis Winston did make a couple of mental mistakes along the way, but this is still a very talented team. This run from Winston shows what he's capable of, via SportsCenter:

The Seminoles held J.W. Walsh to 203 passing yards, one touchdown and one interception for a rating of 52.9, and the Cowboys averaged just 3.8 yards per carry.

If the game showed anything, it's that the Seminoles defense is capable of winning games even when the offense falters. Going forward, we can expect Winston to make amends for his mistakes, and considering Rashad Greene proved he's the real deal, that shouldn't be too difficult.

 

Alabama

All right, so the Crimson Tide didn't look very impressive in their debut against West Virginia. Blake Sims had an up-and-down performance, completing 24 of his 33 pass attempts for 250 yards and an interception, but Alabama flourished on the ground, averaging 5.9 yards per carry.

The backfield duo of T.J. Yeldon and Derrick Henry should be more than enough to keep the Crimson Tide afloat while they figure out the quarterback position. Yeldon and Henry combined for 239 rushing yards and three touchdowns on Saturday—that kind of production will give Sims time to develop.

Here's a telling statistic from ESPN Stats & Info:

Alabama's defense looked on point as well, allowing just one touchdown and holding the Mountaineers to average just 1.2 yards per carry—they rushed 24 times for 28 yards. This unit, combined with a great running game, is sure to produce wins.

 

Oregon

Much of Oregon's projected berth in this year's College Football Playoff will hinge on how the team fares against Michigan State on Saturday. The Spartans have a fierce defense, and Connor Cook has looked phenomenal under center. Although, they'll have some matchup issues against such a prolific Ducks offense.

Marcus Mariota continues to look like a great Heisman candidate. In Week 1, he completed 14 of his 20 attempts for 267 yards and three touchdowns before Jeff Lockie took over the team's rout of South Dakota.

SportsCenter summed up Mariota's efforts in Week 1:

Helping Mariota put up some points was the dangerous Byron Marshall. A shifty runner with good hands, the Ducks experimented with him in the slot, and it paid dividends. Marshall racked up 228 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns on just 16 total touches. Factor in Mariota's ability to run and a deep backfield, and you get an offense that can stack up against anyone.

 

Georgia

Here's the surprise. The Georgia Bulldogs sneak into the top four by the end of the season thanks to a very well-rounded team. During its Week 1 contest against Clemson, the Bulldogs showed they can take control of games with the old-fashioned approach of solid running and stout defense.

How impressive is Todd Gurley? Possibly the Heisman front-runner, Gurley racked up 198 yards on 15 carries—that's an average of 13.2 yards per rush—and three touchdowns against the Tigers. His efforts even overshadowed the four-carry, 70-yard performance from fellow running back Nick Chubb.

This tweet from Bleacher Report's Ryan Riddle says it all:

Quarterback Hutson Mason didn't have to do much. He managed the game nicely and didn't force any bad throws that lead to turnovers. If the Bulldogs continue to gain 328 yards on the ground, he'll have an easy season ahead.

On defense, Georgia limited Clemson to just one big play—a 30-yard touchdown pass to Charone Peake—while allowing a total of just 291 yards to the Tigers on the game.

Cole Stoudt's highly anticipated debut quickly turned sour after he couldn't get anything going, and the team's running game averaged just 2.0 yards per carry—that includes an 18-yard scramble by Stoudt.

Georgia is skilled on both sides of the ball, and we shouldn't be surprised when it finds itself in the top four.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Biggest Recruiting Positional Needs for Every SEC Team

With the abundance of top-flight recruiters in the SEC, the recruiting battles between the league’s heavyweights are often as fierce as the encounters on the gridiron. 

Even though the league pulls in its share of top prep talent on an annual basis, the physicality and brutal nature of the league make acquiring quality depth a must. 

Every team in the league enters the 2015 cycle with pressing issues.

What positions are each of the SEC’s 14 teams looking to shore up in the final months before national signing day?

*teams listed in alphabetical order

 

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B/R CFB Committee: Playoff Predictions Heading into Week 2

Heading into Week 2 of the 2014 college football season, Bleacher Report College Football Analysts Michael Felder, Barrett Sallee and Adam Kramer discuss the four teams that will be fighting for the new CFB trophy.

Who do you think will make it to the playoff?

Watch the video, and let us know.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

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