NCAA Football

Fan Appears to Be Assaulted by Police During LSU vs. Ole Miss

Police officers working during Ole Miss' 38-17 win over LSU on Saturday appear to have assaulted a fan inside Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.

According to Holly Barnes, her husband suffered a concussion and orbital wall and maxillary sinus fractures as a result. She uploaded a video of the incident to Facebook:    

WLBT in Jackson, Mississippi, shared a photo of Chris Barnes' injuries:      

The Oxford Police Department confirmed Sunday morning the officers in question don't work for the department.

"The officers involved are not officers with the University Police Department, but are certified officers from other jurisdictions hired to work security at home football games," wrote Ole Miss campus police in a statement provided to the media, per Zach Barnett of NBC Sports' College Football Talk.

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College Football Week 13 Odds: Ohio State, Alabama, Notre Dame Betting Favorites

Coming off an upset loss to the Michigan State Spartans, the Ohio State Buckeyes will be looking to regroup Saturday afternoon when they face the Michigan Wolverines as 2.5-point road favorites on the opening odds at sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark.

The Buckeyes were handed a 17-14 home loss by the Spartans over the weekend, dropping them to 10-1 straight up and 4-7 against the spread on the season and putting a huge dent in their chances of making the College Football Playoff. Ezekiel Elliott rushed for just 33 yards and one touchdown for Ohio State in the losing cause.

Michigan is 9-2 straight up and 6-5 ATS on the season. The Wolverines are 0-3 straight up in their last three games against the Buckeyes, according to the Odds Shark college football database, and 1-9 straight up in the last 10 meetings between the schools dating back to 2005. However, the Wolverines have gone 2-0 ATS in the last two games between the teams.

Michigan State, meanwhile, will face the Penn State Nittany Lions this week while looking to wrap up the Big Ten East Division title; like the Buckeyes, the Spartans are 10-1 straight up and 4-7 ATS on the season. No opening line is available yet for the Michigan State-Penn State matchup because of the uncertain status of Spartans quarterback Connor Cook, who missed last week's game after suffering a shoulder injury.

Elsewhere, the Clemson Tigers, sitting atop the Associated Press Top 25, opened as 15.5-point road favorites against the South Carolina Gamecocks, while the Alabama Crimson Tide opened as 13-point road favorites against the Auburn Tigers for their Iron Bowl matchup. Alabama is 3-1 both straight up and ATS in its last four games against Auburn, beating the Tigers 55-44 last year while just managing to cover the 9.5-point spread at home.

Other rivalry matchups for the week saw the Oregon Ducks open as 30-point home favorites against the Oregon State Beavers, the Southern Cal Trojans open as 3.5-point home favorites against the UCLA Bruins, the North Carolina Tar Heels open as six-point road favorites against the North Carolina State Wolfpack, the Georgia Bulldogs open as 4.5-point road favorites against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets and the Florida Gators open as three-point home favorites against the Florida State Seminoles.

The Ole Miss Rebels opened as two-point road favorites against the Mississippi State Bulldogs, while the Notre Dame Fighting Irish opened as two-point road favorites against the Stanford Cardinal. The Fighting Irish edged the Cardinal 17-14 as three-point home underdogs when the schools met last season, and Notre Dame is 7-2 ATS in its last nine road games against Stanford.

In the Big 12, Friday's TCU-Baylor matchup opened as a pick 'em, while the Oklahoma Sooners opened as 3.5-point road favorites against the Oklahoma State Cowboys. The Cowboys knocked off the Sooners 38-35 as big 19.5-point road underdogs last season, with Oklahoma State covering the spread in three of its last four games against Oklahoma.

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Virginia Tech Football: The 5 Most Important Recruits for Hokies' 2016 Season

The Virginia Tech Hokies will finish up the 2015 regular season on Saturday against Virginia. A win and the Hokies will go bowling for a 23rd consecutive season.

But that's not even a concern in Blacksburg at the moment. 

Legendary head coach Frank Beamer announced his retirement earlier this month, leaving the program in search of its first head coach since 1987.

The new head coach should be named sometime in December, leaving him little time to get on the recruiting trail and add to Virginia Tech's 2016 recruiting class.

Currently, per 247Sports, the Hokies rank No. 46 with 15 commitments on board. Recently, VT lost two verbal pledges—wide receiver Phillip Patterson and cornerback Troy Pride—after Beamer's announcement.

While it's late in the recruiting process, the new coach will have some room to work with as attrition will likely hit the program. 

What recruits are most important for Virginia Tech's next head coach? Here are five players the new coach needs a signature from on national signing day. 


All recruiting rankings and information courtesy of 247Sports. 

Bryan Manning covers college football for Bleacher Report and you can follow him on Twitter @bdmanning4

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A Notre Dame Football Diary of the Historical Game at Fenway Park

BOSTON — Waves of blue, gold and green inundated Fenway Park and the surrounding area over the weekend as Notre Dame football traveled to the home of the Boston Red Sox for its annual off-site home game Saturday—the first football game played at the iconic baseball stadium since 1968.

For Irish head coach and Massachusetts native Brian Kelly, who was born in nearby Everett, raised in Chelsea and attended St. John’s Prep School in Danvers before playing collegiately at Assumption College in Worcester, the setting matched his expectations.

“I came out a little bit earlier than I normally do,” Kelly said after the game. “I came out like 15 minutes early and just looked around, and I thought the Fenway Park people and [Red Sox president] Sam Kennedy did a terrific job of transforming the park into a football stadium. It really felt like a football stadium. It didn't feel like you were squeezed in, you were shorted anywhere, other than the [shared] sideline situation, which I said we could manage. It just felt like a great venue.”

Kelly said during the week that two of his favorite Fenway memories were attending the 1975 World Series with his father, Paul, and sitting in the Green Monster seats with his family recently.

Beyond Kelly, Notre Dame players, including linebackers Joe Schmidt and Jaylon Smith, are Red Sox fans.

“It was really cool,” Schmidt said. “I really enjoyed this experience. I’m a Boston Red Sox fan and always wanted to go to Fenway. This was very special, and to come out with a victory made it even better.”

Let’s recount the unique day at the ballpark.

Temperatures rested comfortably in the mid-50s throughout Saturday with clear skies, and fans ambled around the outskirts of the ballpark, taking in the joint tradition of Notre Dame football and Red Sox baseball.

Notre Dame’s traditional drummer's circle took place late Friday night in Copley Square, and with kickoff set for 7:42 p.m. ET, the late morning and early afternoon were quiet around Fenway.

The Shamrock Series Fan Fest got rolling at noon in the Brookline parking lot across the street from the stadium. The free event offered music, food, video highlights and other Notre Dame-produced content.

As kickoff approached, fans filtered into the many bars and restaurants surrounding Fenway Park, including Red Sox staples such as Jerry Remy’s, Cask ’n Flagon, Boston Beer Works, Jillian’s, The Lansdowne Pub, The Baseball Tavern and others. A steady stream of Notre Dame colors and fans filled the area, while a minority of maroon-and-gold-clad Boston College fans dotted the premises.

As the early sunset descended upon the city, the streets encompassing the ballpark filled with fans and bar lines grew longer. Within various bars, chants from Irish and Eagles fans echoed back and forth.

The evening was brisk as fans began to make their way into Fenway Park. While the teams carried out their early pregame warm-ups, Notre Dame video packages sparkled on the video board in center field, including interviews with former Irish players, Notre Dame faculty and Fenway Park Director of Grounds David Mellor.

The Notre Dame band eventually emerged from the center field gate and settled in left-center field behind the shared sideline hosting both teams. The Irish took the field near home plate to an explosion of fireworks from beyond the right field bleachers.

A sellout crowd of 38,686 attended the first football game at Fenway in 47 years. And with Notre Dame committing five turnovers in a sluggish and sloppy outing, the bulk of fans hung around for the duration of the game and watched as the Eagles trimmed the deficit to 10 points with 10 minutes and 17 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. Boston College then cut within three with an 86-yard touchdown drive with 54 seconds remaining, but the Irish clamped down on the onside kick to secure the 19-16 victory.

Soon thereafter, before Notre Dame players even finished their postgame interviews in the Red Sox weight room, stadium staff members went to work breaking down the Notre Dame components of the park and restoring the historic field to its standard, shamrock-less state.


All quotes were obtained firsthand.

Mike Monaco is the lead Notre Dame writer for Bleacher Report. Follow @MikeMonaco_ on Twitter.

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Bowl Projections 2015: Top Four CFP Predictions After Week 12

Survive and advance. That's the name of the game at this point in the College Football Playoff race. 

Three of the Top Four teams heading into Week 12 were able to do it. Clemson, Alabama and Notre Dame still have some autonomy over whether they'll get a chance to play for the national championship. 

Ohio State, however, fell the first time it played a ranked opponent this season. This late in the season with the schedule it's played, a 17-14 loss to Michigan State is likely to put it out of the playoff hunt. 

Teams like Notre Dame, however, showed the importance of surviving. The Irish faced a unique challenge in a 3-7 Boston College team that boasts one of the nation's best defenses and worst offenses. It wasn't pretty, but the Irish walked away with a three-point win over the Eagles that keeps their hopes alive. 

It might not be enough to get them in, but they are still squarely in the conversation. Here's the projected field after the dust settled on Week 12:


Bubble Teams

Michigan State Spartans

No one was a bigger winner on Saturday than the Michigan State Spartans. When Mark Dantonio's squad lost to Nebraska two weeks ago, it felt like its playoff hopes were dead on arrival in Columbus. 

Leaving Columbus with a 17-14 win, the mood's all changed. 

Sparty took to the road and looked like an entirely different football team. B/R's Brian Leigh noted the difference for Michigan State defensively:

The men from East Lansing took advantage of their only opportunity to get back in the playoff hunt. Now they control their own destiny in the Big Ten. A win over Penn State puts them in the conference championship game against Iowa. 

If the Spartans end the season as conference champions with a win over last year's tournament winner, they're practically a lock to make it in. 


Oklahoma Sooners

Oklahoma is the perfect example of a team that kept its playoff hopes alive simply by surviving a scare. 

The Sooners appeared to have plenty of "game control" when they led the TCU Horned Frogs 30-13 in the third quarter. Then quarterback Baker Mayfield went out of the game. Then the TCU offense found some rhythm behind backup quarterback Bram Kohlhausen. 

The next thing Bob Stoops' team knew, it had to defend a two-point conversion attempt by TCU to hang on for the 30-29 win with 51 seconds left. 

It's the kind of win that might not impress the committee in and of itself, but it sets the team up to make a statement next week. The Sooners will be involved in one of the biggest games of the week when College GameDay comes to cover their 8 p.m. ET matchup with Oklahoma State:

The matchup isn't quite as prolific now that Oklahoma State lost to Baylor, but the Sooners' win over Baylor looks that much better now. Add a win over the Cowboys, and it's awfully difficult to leave Oklahoma out. 


Iowa Hawkeyes

A conspicuous exclusion from this playoff field is Iowa. The Hawkeyes are undefeated at this point in the season, but they've played a schedule that demands they go undefeated to get in. 

As Lost Lettermen notes, Iowa is one of three teams that truly control their own destiny:

With a matchup against Michigan State on the horizon, that's far from guaranteed. Realistically, Nebraska could even be the team that upsets the Iowa apple cart. The Cornhuskers kicked off November with the win over Michigan State and followed that up with a 31-14 win over Rutgers. 

It's safe to say they're playing their best football of the year. 

As great a story as Iowa has been this season, one has to wonder if and when the other shoe is going to drop. The Hawkeyes came into the week ranked just No. 23 in Football Outsiders' F/+ metric. For comparison, Sparty was No. 15 before beating Ohio State. Eventually, that has to catch up with the Hawkeyes. 

If it doesn't in the next two games, they'll get the opportunity to prove everyone wrong in the playoff. 


Notre Dame Fighting Irish

The Irish are the closest facsimile to TCU last season. 

Their only loss was by the narrowest of margins against the nation's elite. They dropped a two-point game to No. 1 Clemson. Yet, they're likely to get passed over for a team that participated in a conference championship game. 

The Irish don't play in a conference; their best wins are against Temple and Navy, who happen to be in the Group of Five rather than the Power Five. Unfortunately, they don't have much margin for error. 

That means when you play a team that's 3-7, you have to impress. Notre Dame didn't exactly do that against the Eagles. It committed five turnovers against an admittedly excellent defense and won 19-16. 

Given the committee's precedent of dropping teams that don't win impressively (TCU dropped three spots after a six-point win over Kansas last week), Notre Dame survived Week 12 but hurt its chances along the way. 

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College Football Rankings 2015: Hits and Misses from the Week 13 Polls

Thirteen combined points. That's all that separated the outcomes of four games involving five top-10 teams. From Michigan State's game-winning field goal over Ohio State to Florida and Notre Dame outlasting Florida Atlantic and Boston College, respectively, Week 12 of the college football season had some close calls and season-changing moments. 

Now, it's time to take stock all that happened with the latest USA Today Amway Coaches Poll and the Associated Press Top 25. The playoff committee's top 25 won't be released until Tuesday, but Sunday's polls may provide a glimpse of what to expect. 

Where did pollsters get it right? Where did they swing and miss? We give our two cents in the following slides based not only on the past week's action, but also on what has transpired so far this season.

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College Football Rankings 2015: Reviewing AP, Amway Polls and Week 13 Standings

Michigan State's 17-14 win over Ohio State on Saturday did the most to shake up the latest AP and Amway Coaches polls, which now essentially serve as teasers for the College Football Playoff rankings released on Tuesday.

The Buckeyes sank six spots in the Amway poll and dropped from second to 10th in the Associated Press standings. This opened the door for undefeated but underappreciated Iowa—which started the season unranked—to jump up a few spots into the top four in both polls. Notre Dame also claims top-four status on both lists.

Deshaun Watson and the Clemson Tigers held steady at No. 1 in the Amway and AP rankings. They've got a Carolina two-step coming up, with South Carolina on Nov. 28 and then North Carolina in the ACC championship.

UNC stumbled a bit in a 30-27 overtime win over Virginia Tech on Saturday but is still very much a dangerous team.

Without further ado, here are the AP, Amway and Bleacher Report polls heading into Week 13. 

Ohio State's chances of making a return to the national championship are exceedingly slim. Daniel Uthman of USA Today explains what needs to happens for the Buckeyes to climb back into the Top Four: 

Beat Michigan Nov. 28 and have Penn State knock off Michigan State the same day. Ohio State can’t make the Big Ten championship game vs. Iowa without those two things happening.

If those two things did happen and the Buckeyes beat Iowa in the league title game, they would be in good position to return to the Playoff as the event’s No. 4 seed for the second consecutive year. But Ohio State can’t make that game without a win against Michigan and a Michigan State loss.

Even if those contests all break the Buckeyes' way, there's no guarantee it will get them back in the committee's good graces. The offense has stagnated in recent weeks, while at the same time Oklahoma has picked up wins over quality opponents like Baylor and TCU.

A win over Oklahoma State next week would be most impressive, but the Sooners could be in trouble if Baker Mayfield's injury proves to be serious and keeps him out of that pivotal contest. 

The Heisman candidate left in the second quarter of Saturday's game with a head injury, per's Jake Trotter. Head coach Bob Stoops wasn't able to provide a definitive answer on Mayfield's status going forward.

"I sure don't know anything right now," Stoops said, via Trotter. "That'll all be up to our doctors and trainers. But they'll be thorough in checking him."

The lack of a Big 12 championship game of course hurts the Sooners' playoff chances, so don't be surprised if they don't bully their way into the Top Four even if they notch a big win over Oklahoma State.

Notre Dame is clinging to a Top Four spot, but without a championship game of its own to play, it would be pretty difficult to give them a spot over Ohio State if the latter won the Big Ten championship. The Sooners or even Michigan State could pip them as well. 

Alabama's playoff path is pretty straightforward and perhaps the clearest of anyone's, save for Clemson. The Crimson Tide should beat Auburn in the Iron Bowl—although just about anything is liable to happen in that crazy contest—and then lock up the SEC championship by beating Florida, which needed overtime to defeat Florida Atlantic 20-14 in Week 12.

Playing irrelevant Charleston Southern this late in the season does well to set them up for the final playoff push. Heisman candidate Derrick Henry carried the ball just nine times and got plenty of rest, as did several other key players in the 56-6 beatdown. 

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AP College Football Poll 2015: Week 13 Rankings Unveiled for Top 25 Teams

Clemson maintained its No. 1 spot in the Associated Press Top 25 poll with another impressive performance Saturday, but there were significant shakeups elsewhere in the rankings after a wild Week 12. 

Alabama moved up to the No. 2 spot, while Ohio State and Oklahoma State—who were previously ranked second and fourth, respectively—tumbled.

Here is a look at the AP's latest Top 25 poll with just a couple of weeks remaining in the 2015 regular season:

Also, the following is a rundown of Bleacher Report's view of the college football hierarchy:

Both Clemson and Alabama had easy Saturdays, as they enjoyed blowout victories over inferior opponents. The Tigers sunk Wake Forest, 33-13, behind 343 yards and three touchdowns from quarterback Deshaun Watson, while the Crimson Tide rolled past Charleston Southern, 56-6.

The Buckeyes weren't so fortunate, as they managed a mere 132 yards of total offense in a 17-14 loss to rival Michigan State. The defeat dropped OSU to No. 8 in the polls, while the Spartans moved up to No. 6 and now control their own destiny in the Big Ten East.

Ohio State has struggled offensively all season long, with head coach Urban Meyer waffling between J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones at quarterback. As ESPN's Mike Greenberg pointed out, Saturday's loss was a manifestation of something that had been building for weeks:

Frustration boiled over following the game when superstar running back Ezekiel Elliott—who had just 12 carries for 33 yards—announced his intent to go pro and blasted the play-calling, per's Austin Ward:

Honestly, this is my last game in the Shoe. I mean, there's no chance of me coming back next year. What happened today, it was kind of like a bad, bad dream. Offense had a rough day, and I'm disappointed. I'm disappointed in the play calling, I'm disappointed in the situations we were put in, and I wish it all played out differently.

OSU wasn't the only top team to go down, as Oklahoma State also fell and had its undefeated season ruined by Baylor.

The Bears toppled the Cowboys by a score of 45-35 in Stillwater, Oklahoma, which is something they hadn't done in more than 75 years, according to ESPN Stats & Info:

Paul Myerberg of USA Today believes Baylor made a great case for itself against Oklahoma State despite last week's loss to Oklahoma:

While Baylor's win means it still has life with regard to the College Football Playoff, it certainly bolstered Oklahoma as well, who held off TCU, 30-29.

Along with the Sooners and Bears, undefeated Iowa and one-loss Notre Dame received a bump in the polls as well by virtue of wins over Purdue and Boston College, respectively.

Although the AP and College Football Playoff rankings haven't necessarily been in sync thus far, the new AP poll paints an interesting picture and perhaps provides a preview of what the CFP committee will come up with.

Oklahoma, Michigan State and Iowa were all on the outside looking in when it came to last week's poll, but all three of them impressed the Associated Press voters enough to move up.

The 2015 college football season has been a crazy and unpredictable one, and that is highlighted by the fact there are still so many quality teams in the running for a CFP spot.

While the new AP poll favors the likes of Clemson, Alabama, Iowa and Notre Dame to be the four left standing, the chaos 2015 has generated suggests that may change significantly in the coming weeks.


Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter.

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Paul Rhoads Fired by Iowa State: Latest Details, Comments and Reaction

After seven years with the school, Paul Rhoads reportedly is out as head coach of the Iowa State Cyclones. 

Fox Sports' Bruce Feldman and ESPN's Brett McMurphy both reported the news Sunday afternoon, though McMurphy added that he will still coach the Cyclones' final game against West Virginia on Saturday.

Iowa State went on to confirm the decision, via Brandon Chatmon of ESPN.

The news doesn't come as a major surprise after the Cyclones missed out on a bowl game for the third straight season. And more so than simply failing to qualify for a bowl game, ISU simply wasn't competitive toward the end of Rhoads' reign.

Iowa State won five games between 2013 and 2014 and showed little progress in 2015, picking up just three overall wins. The standards for the Cyclones aren't as high as for other Big 12 schools, but it became apparent the program wasn't headed in the right direction.

The school gambled when it signed Rhoads to a 10-year extension in December 2011, roughly a month after the Cyclones upset the then-No. 2 Oklahoma State Cowboys. Even if contracts are often ripped up and rarely fulfilled in college football, seeing a team commit to a head coach for 10 years is almost unheard of.

Given Iowa State's history—or lack thereof—on the football field, you can understand why it felt such a pressing need to secure what it thought was a promising head coach. Plus, a $1.6 million base salary wasn't altogether unreasonable for a Big 12 head coach.

What the extension did instead was tie Iowa State to a good but not great head coach and saddled the program with a hefty buyout in order to send Rhoads packing.

Whereas that win over Oklahoma State looked to be the start of something special in Ames, it was instead Rhoads' one moment in the spotlight.

The problem for Iowa State is that finding a replacement won't exactly be easy. As Sports Illustrated's Pete Thamel noted in October, it feels as though an unusual number of schools have openings at the moment:

The Cyclones will have a lot of competition for many of the top candidates, which will make the hiring process even harder.

Also problematic for Iowa State is its place in the college football hierarchy. The renovations to the Bergstrom Football Complex in 2012 provide the program with great facilities, but that only goes so far toward luring top recruits.

The Cyclones haven't had a winning season since 2009, and they haven't cracked the Associated Press' Top 25 poll in a decade. Not to mention, the program hasn't won 10 games ever in its history.

Becoming a consistent contender in the Big 12 isn't impossible for Iowa State, but it's a years-long process. And when the school shows a modicum of success, holding on to the coaches who made it happen would prove difficult.

Even Baylor's rise under Art Briles started slowly, as the Bears went 4-8 in each of his first two seasons. He also had a talent like Robert Griffin III to help transform the team.

Meanwhile, Kansas' improbable 12-1 2007 campaign came six years into Mark Mangino's tenure.

Rhoads' replacement will likely be given plenty of time to try to work his magic, but he'll have an uphill road to climb to make the Cyclones nationally prominent again.

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College GameDay Bound for Bedlam Between Oklahoma and Oklahoma State in Week 13

For all the talk in the preseason on how Baylor vs. TCU would be the biggest game of rivalry weekend in the Big 12, next Saturday's showdown between Oklahoma (10-1) and Oklahoma State (10-1) will take that honor—and the coveted visit from ESPN's College GameDay

The popular pregame show announced Sunday morning that it will visit Stillwater, Oklahoma, for the annual matchup in the Bedlam Series between the visiting Sooners and the host Cowboys.

As always on rivalry weekend, GameDay didn't have a shortage of appealing games from which to pick.

But the show went with the somewhat rare decision to visit a school that is coming off a loss. Oklahoma State's undefeated start to the season ended Saturday night in a home 45-35 defeat to one-loss Baylor.

That loss, coupled with previously unbeaten Ohio State's 17-14 loss to Michigan State, swung the door wide open for Oklahoma to stake a strong claim for the College Football Playoff, as Bleacher Report's Bryan Fischer noted Saturday night:

The Sooners are not just in the running to make the final four, however; they should be a lock with a win next week in the annual Bedlam game against their in-state rivals. While folks may make arguments (and have good ones) in South Carolina and Tuscaloosa as to who really is the best team in the country, it’s tough to overlook that Oklahoma is playing the best of anyone over the past two months.

Combined with the result up the road—Baylor throttled Oklahoma State 45-35 in Stillwater—and ensuing chaos elsewhere around the country, it looks increasingly like we’re on a path that includes Stoops’ squad in the playoff.

While Oklahoma State most likely needed to win out in order to make the final four, the Cowboys still have plenty to play for next week than just the usual bragging rights.

If TCU knocks off Baylor next Friday night and Oklahoma State beats Oklahoma, Mike Gundy's team would be the outright Big 12 champion with an 11-1 record.

"It's been a great year; it's a chance to have a phenomenal year," Oklahoma State defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer said, per Jenni Carlson of the Oklahoman. "There's a lot that they know they can play for. Yes, it hurts having that ultimate goal out, but there's a lot of people in the nation that face that every week."

This year's Bedlam game is shaping up to be the sixth time in eight seasons that both rivals will be ranked heading into the matchup.

As for the prospect of more late-game drama and championship-level chaos, each of the last three meetings have been decided by single digits—with two of those going into overtime.

Last year, unranked Oklahoma State knocked off Oklahoma in unbelievable fashion, forcing overtime with less than a minute remaining on a 92-yard punt return for a touchdown. After Oklahoma missed a field goal, Ben Grogan knocked his down to give the Cowboys a 38-35 victory.

In a series long dominated by the Sooners, the Cowboys will be looking to grab back-to-back wins for the first time since 2001 and 2002—a pair of upsets over Top-Five teams from Oklahoma. 


Justin Ferguson is a college football writer at Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @JFergusonBR.

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Amway College Football Poll 2015: Week 13 Rankings Unveiled for Top 25 Teams

Another week, another pair of national title contenders seeing those chances dealt a major blow. Don't you just love this time of year? 

Those schools don't. But that's the nature of the beast as we grow closer to deciding the four College Football Playoff selections. In the meantime, let's take a look at the latest coaches and Bleacher Report polls while breaking down the weekend that was.



The defending national champions, Ohio State, lost Saturday. And then the real fireworks began.

Michael Geiger's field goal as time expired gave Michigan State a 17-14 win over the Buckeyes, likely ending the team's shot at a national title barring a Michigan State loss to Penn State next week. With a win, it would be the Spartans and not the Buckeyes that faced Iowa in the Big Ten title game, meaning Ohio State's best-case scenario is a win over Michigan and a spot in the Rose Bowl. 

And that reality seemed to frustrate a few players for Ohio State, namely running back Ezekiel Elliott. 

"How we lost, I just feel like we weren't put in the right opportunity to win this game, we weren't put in the right situations to win this game," Elliott said, per Austin Ward of ESPN. "I don't think Michigan State was better than us. They weren't. We didn't execute."

He then put to bed any notion that he would be returning to the team after this season.

Honestly, this is my last game in the Shoe. I mean, there's no chance of me coming back next year. What happened today, it was kind of like a bad, bad dream. Offense had a rough day, and I'm disappointed. I'm disappointed in the play calling, I'm disappointed in the situations we were put in, and I wish it all played out differently.

And frankly, more than a few folks agreed with Elliott, like Barrett Sallee of Bleacher Report:

Will Brinson of CBS Sports concurred:

Fran Fraschilla of ESPN felt that Elliott undercut head coach Urban Meyer far too much, however:

Elliott's streak of 15 games with over 100 yards was also snapped Saturday—and with it more than likely his Heisman chances. So it was hardly surprising that he was frustrated, though the fact that he was so openly vocal about it seems indicative of a season in which the Buckeyes have been loaded with talent but consistently seemed off-kilter and prone to underachievement. 

Ohio State wasn't the only team that saw its national title hopes delivered a potential knockout blow, though, as Oklahoma State lost to Baylor, 45-35. With Clemson, Alabama, Notre Dame, Iowa, Oklahoma and Florida all winning—and Baylor and Michigan State posting the most impressive wins on the weekend—the Cowboys were always likely to take something of a tumble down the rankings. 

That result left the Big 12 wide open, however, especially with Oklahoma getting past TCU on Saturday. Oklahoma and Oklahoma State still have a matchup on the schedule, while Baylor has TCU and Texas down the stretch, so quite a lot is left to be decided. For the moment, though, Heisman hopeful Baker Mayfield and the Sooners appear to be the front-runners in the conference and the team most likely of the bunch to reach the College Football Playoff. 

While Clemson, Alabama and Notre Dame seem to control their own playoff destinies at this point, the fourth spot is now wide open, with the Big 12 schools, Iowa and even Michigan State remaining in the running. And, of course, an upset or two down the stretch could really mix things up. 

Hey, it's college football. Unpredictability is about the only thing we can accurately predict at this point.


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Breaking Down the Long-Shot Teams in Hunt for College Football Playoff

So, you're telling me there's a chance?

Week 12 of the college football season gave us the single biggest dose of chaos all year. In one day, three undefeated teams—Houston, Ohio State and Oklahoma State, the latter two of which were in the College Football Playoff hunt—lost. 

Now, we're left with undefeated Clemson and Iowa, just like we all thought would happen at the beginning of the year. 

All this guarantees the four-team playoff will be at least half-full with one-loss teams, and the potential still exists that a two-loss team could sneak in there. That falls in line with the overall theme this season: There are zero dominant teams. 

There's still a lot that can unfold with two weeks left before the playoff selection committee names its final four. Current playoff long shots aren't out of the running yet. Below is a list of one- and two-loss teams that could still crash the playoff under the right circumstances. The following teams are either still in the running for their conference championship or have been guaranteed a spot in their conference championship game. 



Rebounding from a loss to Oklahoma by beating an undefeated top-six team (Oklahoma State) double digits...on the road...with your third-string quarterback...and backup running back is one way to go about getting respect, Baylor. 

The Bedlam game between Oklahoma and Oklahoma State on Nov. 28 still reigns as the Big 12's most important game. With a win, the Sooners are the Big 12's best hope for a playoff spot, especially if Notre Dame loses to Stanford. But it will be fascinating to see where the playoff committee places Baylor, who has two games left against TCU and Texas. By dropping the Bears only four spots to No. 10 last week, the committee left the door open for Baylor to make a comeback. 

Baylor needs help, of course. That starts with Oklahoma losing to Oklahoma State. All the Bears can do is keep winning. 

"We tried bellyaching last year and it didn’t seem to work,” said Baylor head coach Art Briles, per Matt Hayes of Sporting News. “We’ll just keep playing.”



The concept of a playoff without a one-loss SEC team would have been laughed at just a few months ago. But Florida is doing its best to make it happen. 

The Gators needed overtime to beat Florida Atlantic 20-14. This offense, marred by depth problems, is a wreck. Ranked No. 8 in the latest playoff standings, it wouldn't be surprising to see Florida drop a couple of spots when the new Top 25 is revealed on Tuesday. And if Florida plays again like it played Saturday, it has two more losses coming against Florida State and, presumably, Alabama in the SEC Championship Game. 

But what if, somehow, Florida wins out? Those would be two huge wins, and the committee would have a dilemma. Does it include a one-loss SEC champion because it's a one-loss SEC champion? Or, as B/R colleague Barrett Sallee notes, would the so-called "eye test" hurt them? That's assuming, of course, Florida doesn't magically turn into the team of the century. 

It'd be an interesting exercise, but chances are the Gators would be able to sneak in. Now they just have to win two tough games. Good luck. 



The Wolverines are quietly hovering outside the top 10 with two losses. In order for Michigan to so much as think about the playoff, it has to get to the Big Ten Championship Game. That requires beating Ohio State and getting help from Penn State, who would need to beat Michigan State. 

Then, Michigan would have to beat Iowa. The Wolverines don't have many quality wins outside of Northwestern and BYU, but they did lose to Utah and Michigan State—teams that are a combined 18-4—by a total of 11 points. And the loss to the Spartans, as you know, came on a crazy mishandled punt at the end of the game. 

Michigan needs help just to get into a position to seriously be in the playoff hunt. This team has the opposite path of controlling its own destiny. Its best friend is chaos, but if Week 12 taught us anything, it's that chaos does reign supreme. 


North Carolina

With North Carolina's 30-27 win over Virginia Tech, the Tar Heels have locked their place in the ACC Championship Game against Clemson. Looking across the Power Five conferences, this actually should get people more excited than any other conference title game. Here, you have the No. 1 team in the country versus the one-loss team playing as well as anyone. 

But it feels as though North Carolina is playing the role of spoiler more than playoff hopeful. Last Tuesday, committee chair Jeff Long said UNC was "weighted down" by its resume: 

Would a potential win over the No. 1 team change that? With two weeks left, the Tar Heels have to climb 13 spots, one more than Navy, who isn't even in a power conference. 


Ohio State 

Ohio State's 17-14 loss to Michigan State in and of itself was surprising, if for no other reason than the Buckeyes were a 13-point favorite, according to OddsShark, with uncertainty surrounding injured Spartans quarterback Connor Cook. 

At the same time, Ohio State losing felt like a long time coming. The Buckeyes are talented, but the offense never clicked this season, and many players were likely looking on to bigger and better things

Ohio State can still get to the playoff, though. First, it needs to beat Michigan next Saturday, and Michigan State has to lose to Penn State. Then, it would have to beat Iowa in the Big Ten Championship Game. Only then could the Buckeyes even think about a playoff appearance, and that depends largely on what happens elsewhere. 

The committee showed leniency toward Ohio State this year, despite the fact it didn't beat anyone of note and sometimes didn't look great doing it. (Hey, it helps to be the reigning champs.) Perhaps, then, the committee would be more forgiving to Ohio State if it rattled off two big wins and got some help along the way. However, Kyle Rowland of the Toledo Blade believes the Bucks are more likely bound for a New Year's Six spot:


Oklahoma State

The Pokes are in a tough spot. Two weeks after getting a huge win over TCU, Oklahoma State lost at home to Baylor, a team that lacked full strength in key spots. That's going to be difficult, if not impossible, to overcome. 

Next Saturday, Oklahoma State plays an Oklahoma team that's won six in a row and is as confident as anyone. The Cowboys' playoff prayer could be answered, however, if it knocks off the Sooners while the Bears lose to TCU. That scenario is certainly possible. 

But Oklahoma State was ranked sixth before the loss. It never felt like the committee was all-in on the Cowboys. Last week, Long went so far as to say undefeated Iowa was better: 

Whether the Hawkeyes are or aren't better than Oklahoma State doesn't matter anymore. The Cowboys weren't getting the benefit of the doubt before, and they're certainly not going to get it now.  



If there's a two-loss team with a legitimate shot at this playoff thing, it's Stanford. The Cardinal are the highest-ranked two-loss team, one spot ahead of Michigan. Unlike the Wolverines, Stanford is also guaranteed to get two more games: one against Notre Dame and the Pac-12 Championship Game versus either UCLA or USC. 

The Pac-12 title is critical for Stanford's playoff hopes as a conference champion, but the Notre Dame game has the overall bigger implications. The Irish are playing for a spot as well and have only one loss (24-22 to Clemson). 

If Stanford does beat Notre Dame, it'll be interesting to see how the committee perceives the win. It'll be a quality victory, of course, but the Irish are banged up; seriously, they're as snakebit as any team in college football. Will the committee qualify that win like it would with, say, Oklahoma over an injury-plagued TCU?

It's something to keep an eye on. 


Ben Kercheval is a lead writer for college football. All quotes cited unless obtained firsthand. 

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College Football Playoff 2015: Top Four Predictions After Week 12 NCAA Results

After two consecutive weeks of the same four teams making up the College Football Playoff, Ohio State's loss to Michigan State will shake up the Week 13 rankings. 

Since the teams directly trailing Ohio State were victorious Saturday, there shouldn't be much drama in the unveiling of the new Top Four. 

However, there are plenty of tough games remaining on the schedule for the projected playoff teams.

Each of these teams appears to control its own destiny, but it would be a surprise if another upset or two didn't shake things up in the final weeks.


Projected Week 13 College Football Playoff Rankings

1. Clemson

For the second straight week, a banged-up Clemson team limped to victory in less-than-dominant fashion. 

The Tigers' 33-13 win over Wake Forest certainly wasn't a statement win, but head coach Dabo Swinney's squad has put itself in a position where winning is the only thing that matters. 

Clemson played without starting running back Wayne Gallman in this one, so the sloppy offensive performance, which included two interceptions by quarterback Deshaun Watson, can be somewhat forgiven. 

At this point, Clemson simply needs to get healthy and keep winning. An undefeated Tigers squad will represent the ACC in the playoff regardless of how it looks down the stretch. 


2. Alabama

The only thing head coach Nick Saban was concerned with Saturday was escaping a quasi-bye week against Charleston Southern without any injuries. 

Alabama controls its own destiny and deserves to be considered a heavy favorite in the SEC, but its spot in the playoff is certainly not guaranteed. 

Saban: You're only as good as your last play. We obviously have a road game in one of the best rivalry games in the country.

— Aaron Suttles (@AaronSuttles) November 22, 2015

The Tide travel to Auburn for a tough road rivalry game Saturday. Alabama will certainly be favored, but late-November rivalry games are rarely easy. 

Expect Auburn to sell out to stop Heisman candidate Derrick Henry, forcing quarterback Jake Coker to win the game with his arm. 


3. Notre Dame

We can be fairly confident in predicting Notre Dame and Iowa to round out the Top Four, but the order will be up for debate. The Irish have held steady ahead of Iowa throughout the CFP committee's initial rankings, but a narrow victory over Boston College could potentially open the Irish's placement back up for debate. 

Regardless of whether Notre Dame is ranked third or fourth, it likely controls its own destiny to advance to the playoff. 

While the Irish are hurt by their lack of a conference affiliation and therefore no title game to wrap up the season, a season finale at Stanford gives the team a chance to close the season with a statement victory on the road.


4. Iowa

Iowa may have some supporters for a rise to No. 3 due to Notre Dame's close call against Boston College, but ultimately, its victory over lowly Purdue is unlikely to be enough to boost the team up. 

The Hawkeyes close out the regular season against Nebraska before facing either Michigan State, Michigan or Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship Game. 

Is America ready for Iowa in the Top 4???!!! #hawkeyes#ANF

— Danny Kanell (@dannykanell) November 22, 2015

Even if Iowa is ranked fourth this week, fans shouldn't worry. By running the table, it will likely have the resume to jump one-loss Notre Dame and settle into No. 3.

That said, Iowa shouldn't look past Nebraska. The Cornhuskers need a victory to become bowl-eligible, are playing their best football of the season and have had their bye week to prepare.

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Ohio State Football: How Buckeyes' Top Commits Performed This Weekend

While Ohio State’s national title hopes took a huge hit with Saturday’s loss to Michigan State, Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer and his staff also have eyes on battling for the nation’s top-rated recruiting class.

Currently, Ohio State has the nation’s No. 2 group—which is loaded with talent across all positions.

A majority of the class has already completed their senior seasons, but a handful of future Buckeyes are still starring in the postseason.

As detailed by Bill Kurelic of Bucknuts, 4-star corner Wayne Davis enjoyed a monster performance on both sides of the ball in leading Lake Taylor [Virginia] High School to a 52-39 win over Kings Fork.

The 5’11”, 187-pound Davis hauled in eight passes for 297 yards and four touchdowns. According to the Virginian-Pilot, Davis scored two touchdowns—one on a 96-yard reception and another on a 30-yard interception return for a score—in less than a minute late in the game to help the Titans improve to 12-0 on the season.

Davis is scheduled to begin his college career on defense, but his performance serves as a showcase of his athleticism and ability to create explosive plays on both sides of the ball.

Another out-of-state Buckeyes pledge put up a valiant effort in a heartbreaking loss.

According to Brian Perroni of 247Sports, 4-star quarterback commit Tristen Wallace accounted for 329 yards of total offense and four touchdowns as DeSoto [Texas] High School lost 41-40 against powerhouse Allen.

Wallace completed 8-of-25 passes for 168 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed 26 times for 161 yards and another two scores.

His ability to create big plays with both his arms and his legs make him an ideal fit in Meyer’s spread offense.

Additionally, a pair of in-state commits from the Buckeyes' top-ranked 2017 class helped Archbishop Hoban High School defeat rival St. Vincent-St. Mary 24-21.

According to Tim Bielik of, 4-star quarterback Danny Clark passed for 100 yards and 4-star running back Todd Sibley rushed 23 times for 60 yards and a touchdown in the Knights' hard-fought playoff victory.

Meyer is known as a tenacious recruiter, and his work on the trail helped him quickly restore the Buckeyes program to prominence. 

Judging by the amount of talent he and his staff have amassed in the 2016 and 2017 classes, the Buckeyes aren’t showing any signs of slowing down anytime soon.


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

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Chaos Around the Country Makes Style Points Critical for Florida's Playoff Push

Florida survived a scare on Saturday afternoon in "The Swamp," and not the ironic and humorous kind like in the Scary Movie films.

The Gators survived a 20-14 overtime scare from two-win Florida Atlantic and looked lost in the process. They managed just 253 total yards against the seventh-best defense in Conference USA, quarterback Treon Harris completed just eight of his 17 passes and allowed five sacks to a defense that hadn't managed a single one over its previous two games.

The team's lack of energy was concerning to first-year head coach Jim McElwain.

"When something bad happens they mope around,'' he said, according to Scott Carter of "Here's the visual: when you guys go to the seafood market, or go to the grocery store, and you see all those dead fish on ice, that's the energy they are playing with right now.

"How excited are you to hang out with that dead fish?"

That's concerning because, at least on paper, Florida still has a shot at the College Football Playoff. That might put the Gators in the back of a one-loss field of contenders that added Ohio State, Oklahoma State and Houston to the mix on Saturday.

The lack of style points in the last "cupcake game" of the season for the Gators, though, couldn't have come at a worse time.

The offensive line is still a mess, Harris still isn't a threat in the passing game and the running game isn't getting any help from the offense—one that had to hit the reset button midway through the season when redshirt freshman starting quarterback Will Grier was suspended for a year for violating the NCAA's policy on performance enhancing drugs.

Now they're going into the intrastate showdown with Florida State and the SEC Championship Game (likely against Alabama) with an offensive identity crisis.

"We don't need dead fish,'' running back Kelvin Taylor said, per Carter. "We need energy. We've just got some guys on this team that just refuse to take off the governor."

Let's just assume for a second that Florida does win out. It not only needs to win out, but it needs to look really good in the process if it's going to sneak into the playoff picture.

If Clemson wins out, it's safe to assume the Tigers are in. It's also a near-certainty that a one-loss Big Ten champion would likely get the nod, save for Iowa if it loses at Nebraska on Black Friday and then wins the Big Ten Championship Game.

A one-loss Big 12 champion will be nearly impossible for the committee to leave out, especially if that one-loss champion is an Oklahoma team that will have topped Baylor, TCU and Oklahoma State over the final three weeks.

One-loss Notre Dame or one-loss Florida?

That could become the debate, and what the Fighting Irish have done through a litany of injuries might be too difficult to overlook. Plus, Notre Dame's loss—a two-point loss at Clemson in a quagmire—looks much better than Florida's lone setback on the road to an average LSU team.

Florida not only needs to win out, but it needs to look really impressive on offense.

Is this team capable of that?

"Florida 1.0" was when Grier was at the helm, but "Florida 2.0" looks like this year's version of the 2012 Gators. A team that needed a blocked field goal returned for a touchdown late against Louisiana-Lafayette in November to win 27-20. A team that was exposed in the Sugar Bowl by a Louisville squad led by star quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.

In years past, when the SEC received the benefit of the doubt, it might not be a debate. After two straight seasons without a major bowl win and an SEC East that looks like a joke, I'm not sure Florida will get that benefit of the doubt. 

The dominoes have relegated Florida to at or near the back of the one-loss pecking order, and it needs a miracle to win out.


Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Statistics are courtesy of

Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer and national college football video analyst for Bleacher Report, as well as a host on Bleacher Report Radio on SiriusXM 83. Follow Barrett on Twitter @BarrettSallee.

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NCAA Football Rankings 2015: Week 13 College Top 25 Standings Predictions

After a typical crazy late November weekend, voters have some tough decisions to make. 

Only two teams from the Associated Press Top 10 went down on Saturday (Ohio State and Oklahoma State), but a number of other interesting outcomes, such as Florida's close call against Florida Atlantic, are sure to shake things up. 

The following is a projection of how the AP poll will look when it's released on Sunday afternoon, followed by a breakdown of a few notable teams moving up or down in this week's rankings.

Notable Teams

No. 6. Michigan State

Mark Dantonio has put together a strong run at Michigan State, but Saturday's upset of Ohio State may have been the most impressive victory of his career. 

Since Urban Meyer joined the Big Ten, his only two conference losses have come at the hands of Dantonio's Spartans.

With backup quarterback Tyler O'Connor filling in for starter Connor Cook, the Spartans were heavy underdogs but controlled the clock and played stifling defense to knock off the Buckeyes. 

Now Michigan State controls its own destiny to win the Big Ten and likely advance to the College Football Playoff. 

But first, the Spartans need Cook to get healthy. Without him, the regular-season finale against Penn State is not a guaranteed victory, and even more shake-up could be coming if the Spartans go down.


No. 10. Florida

The Gators' overtime victory over Florida Atlantic creates an interesting dilemma for voters. 

Teams are rarely dropped in the rankings for an ugly victory unless others jump them with more meaningful wins. But Florida's performance against the 2-9 Owls was so abysmal that it will be tough for many voters to justify leaving the Gators in the Top 10. 

The Gators were ranked No. 8 in the AP poll a week ago but are likely to slide a few spots.

Jim McElwain will say "A win is a win," but it's not. This was bad. Hard to justify this today. #Gators

— Dari Nowkhah (@ESPNDari) November 21, 2015

The College Football Playoff committee will be left with an even more difficult decision in a few weeks should Florida win the SEC Championship Game over Alabama or Ole Miss.

Could a team that nearly lost to Florida Atlantic in late November really be among the four best in the country?


No. 15. TCU

Clearly, TCU will fall after suffering its second loss of the season. However, the Horned Frogs might not drop too far. 

The loss of quarterback Trevone Boykin was a devastating blow to TCU, and voters may be inclined to forgive the loss to Oklahoma due to the Horned Frogs' ability to keep the game close with their backup quarterback. 

After struggling to put away lowly Kansas without Boykin, the mere fact that TCU had a chance to win in the final moments against the Sooners was an accomplishment. 


No. 17. Oregon

Oregon was ranked No. 23 a week ago as the second-highest three-loss team, behind USC. But after dismantling the Trojans, it's clear that Mark Helfrich's squad is the best of the three-loss crew. 

The question is: How high can a three-loss team climb?

Voters will likely be all over the board with their placement of Oregon. 

On one hand, the Ducks have three losses, which should dictate a spot near the bottom of the Top 25. 

On the other hand, two losses were without Vernon Adams, and all three were to teams ranked in last week's AP poll (Michigan State, Utah, Washington State). And now that Adams is healthy, the Ducks are steamrolling through the Pac-12 and might be the most dangerous team in the conference. 

Vernon Adams today: 6 TD 4 Incompletions He's the 1st QB EVER to throw for 6 TD against USC.

— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) November 21, 2015

One could argue Oregon is among the 10 best teams in the country right now, justifying a much higher placement on some voters' ballots. 

The AP's ranking of Oregon could be a potential preview of how the committee views the team later this week, which will be crucial to the Ducks' potential inclusion in one of the New Year's Six bowl games. 

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Heisman Watch 2015: Latest Race Odds and Predictions

Heisman hopefuls can't win the trophy in Week 12, but they sure can lose it. 

Just ask Ezekiel Elliot. The Ohio State running back entered the week with an opportunity to challenge odds-on favorite Derrick Henry for the title. Instead, whether he'll be invited to the ceremony might wind up being an interesting storyline. 

That's the nature of this season's Heisman race. Between injuries, upsets and flat out baffling drops in production (looking at you, Leonard Fournette), there's really no telling week-to-week who will stay in this battle of attrition. 

Week 12 brought a little clarity to the race as a few candidates failed to make the statement they needed to catch the runaway train that is Henry. Here's a look at the candidates along with the latest odds from Odds Shark


Deshaun Watson Will Be Derrick Henry's Biggest Threat

It's no secret that the Heisman has become a quarterback trophy. Signal-callers have won five consecutive Heismans and eight of the last 10, including the one that Reggie Bush later vacated. 

It only makes sense that a quarterback would eventually emerge in a race that has been dominated by the likes of Fournette, Henry and Elliott. With TCU's Trevone Boykin going down to injury, that quarterback is Deshaun Watson. 

Watson might not be part of a high-flying offense like the ones found in the Big 12, but he is the best player on the best team in the country right now. That's enough to be considered. Especially when considering how the best player on the No. 1-ranked team in the country has finished in recent seasons:

As long as Clemson remains undefeated and hangs onto that No. 1 ranking Watson will remain a serious threat. It isn't like he doesn't have impressive numbers, either. 

He's had nearly 400 total yards in each of his last four games while completing 70 percent of his passes this season. That's deadly efficiency that's leading an unbeaten team right now. 


Ezekiel Elliott Will Finish Outside Top 3

Heading into Week 12 it would have been preposterous to say that Elliott would not be a top three finisher in the Heisman race. He was easily the best offensive player on the No. 3 team in the country. He put up numbers consistently (at least 100 yards in every game.) 

With an opportunity to put up big numbers against a ranked opponent in Michigan State, the stage was set for him to make up some ground against Alabama's Henry. 

Instead, the game turned out to be a nightmare for Elliott. At least, that's how he described it. 

“What happened today was just kind of a bad, bad dream,” Elliott said according to Tim May of the Columbus Dispatch. “The offense had a bad day. I’m disappointed—I’m disappointed in the play-calling. I’m disappointed in the situations we were put in. I wish it all played out differently.”

Elliot's frustrations with the coaching staff stemmed from the fact that he only got 12 touches. However, the 33 yards he got on those 12 carries is at least partially on him. 

The loss not only essentially kills Ohio State's playoff aspirations, but also put an end to Elliott as a Heisman contender. 


Christian McCaffrey Will Be a Finalist

Stanford's do-it-all running back might be a late-bloomer in the Heisman race, but he's doing everything he can to get to New York. In a week where no one really put up huge numbers he carved California up for his best performance on the season. 

The only problem is that it didn't actually happen until Sunday on the East Coast. As Steve Palazzolo of Pro Football Focus wondered, did anyone in that time zone actually see it?

The truth is most East Coast voters were likely sound asleep with visions of Watson and Henry dancing in their heads. 

However, Heisman voting can be a regional affair. McCaffrey has established himself as the top candidate out west which means he's going to have a seat waiting for him at the ceremony. 


Derrick Henry Will Be Your 2015 Heisman

Week 12 wasn't necessarily the week where Henry did something to win the Heisman trophy. It might just be the week that he won by process of elimination. 

The big Alabama back had 68 yards and two touchdowns on just nine carries against Charleston Southern (don't you dare question how dangerous the Buccaneers are). But the best news for him is that he wasn't really in the spotlight. 

Essentially, Henry did what he had to do to make sure he remains the front-runner. As Cecil Hurt of the Tuscaloosa News noted, he showed on the first drive he could essentially choose how many yards he wanted to rush for on Saturday in the first quarter:

Then he went on to casually tie an Alabama record for touchdowns in a season—with two more games to go. 

For all of Alabama's dominance, the school isn't known for producing Heisman winners. Mark Ingram became the first Crimson Tide player to win the award in 2009. 

Looks like they need to start clearing space in the trophy case in Tuscaloosa for Henry. 


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SEC Football: Best Performances from Week 12

Week 12 in the SEC was supposed to be "cupcake Saturday."

Instead, The Citadel stole all the cupcakes from South Carolina, Florida Atlantic had several off the plate in its overtime loss to Florida, and Georgia Southern nearly stole the whole bakery in an overtime loss at Georgia.

On top of that, LSU stumbled to its third straight loss—a 38-17 debacle at the hands of Ole Miss.

Who had the best performances of the week in the SEC? Our picks based on output and importance to the team are in this slideshow.

Begin Slideshow

Bowl Projections 2015: College Football Playoff Predictions for Top Teams

Late November Saturdays never fail to disappoint. 

Just when it looked like the final four teams were lined up with relatively easy paths to the playoffs, Michigan State shakes things up with a thrilling last-second victory at Ohio State. 

With at least one new team entering the Top Four, there will be plenty of debate over the next few days in the college football world. 

Here is the latest projection of how the College Football Playoff and the rest of the New Year's Six bowl games will shake out by season's end.


Notable Teams

Michigan State

Despite a loss to Nebraska in early November, Michigan State is now in excellent position to run the table and advance to the playoffs. 

Today's big winners were Oklahoma, Michigan State, & Baylor. At least 1 of them will be in the CFB Playoffs. Maybe 2.

— Rob Stone (@RobStoneONFOX) November 22, 2015

With a win over Penn State in their regular-season finale, the Spartans advance to the Big Ten Championship Game to face Iowa.

The loss to Nebraska is one of the worst defeats of any top-10 team, but Michigan State's victory at Ohio State is arguably the best win on any resume. 

Last season the committee rewarded Ohio State for closing the season on a high note, and Michigan State appears to headed down that same path.


Ohio State

With a win over Michigan, the Buckeyes will safely be in one of the New Year's Six bowl games, potentially even representing the Big Ten in the Rose Bowl if the conference champion is selected to the playoffs. 

It's also worth noting that Ohio State is not out of the playoff hunt.

If Michigan State loses to Penn State (a possibility, especially given Connor Cook's uncertain status) and the Buckeyes take care of Michigan, Ohio State wins the Big Ten East Division. The Buckeyes would then face Iowa for the conference title. 

While a one-loss Buckeyes squad might not be a lock for the playoffs, the CFP committee has shown respect for the Big Ten, as demonstrated by its selection of one-loss Ohio State to last year's playoff and its ranking of Iowa this season. 


Florida State

The Seminoles have been eliminated in the ACC race and therefore are out of the playoff hunt, but a New Year's Six bowl selection remains a possibility. 

Florida State travels to Gainesville to face Florida on Saturday, giving the Seminoles an opportunity to close the regular season with a major boost to their resume. As an added bonus, the victory would deliver a death blow to the rival Gators' playoff hopes.

The ACC doesn't have a New Year's Six bowl affiliation this year, since the Orange Bowl is one of the semifinal games, but due to location, the Peach Bowl in Atlanta would be a likely placement for the Seminoles. 



The Ducks looked like they were finished in early October, with bowl eligibility a serious question mark following their loss to Washington State.

But quarterback Vernon Adams returned from injury and has led Oregon on a torrid stretch to put the Ducks back into consideration for a New Year's Six bowl. 

The game has slowed down so much for Vernon Adams to the point that I don’t know if a Pac-12 QB is playing at higher level right now.

— Dan Rubenstein (@DanRubenstein) November 21, 2015

In fact, Oregon could even be in play for a Rose Bowl selection if Stanford is able to wrap up the Pac-12 title and sneak into the playoffs with two losses. 

For those who may doubt the inclusion of a three-loss team in this projection, keep in mind that in 2014 the committee selected three-loss Arizona, fresh off a 51-13 loss to Oregon in the Pac-12 title game, to play in the Fiesta Bowl. 



The highest ranked team from the Group of Five conferences earns an invitation to a New Year's Six bowl, and Navy currently holds that position. 

If the Midshipmen win out, they will likely earn the nod from the committee. 

Credit Navy. While so many teams are screwing around today, Mids are just crushing Tulsa. Would love to see Navy in a New Year's Six game.

— Adam Rittenberg (@ESPNRittenberg) November 22, 2015

The possible selection of Navy throws a wrinkle into the bowl selection process, which is worth mentioning. 

If Navy is the highest ranked Group of Five team on Dec. 6, the date of the bowl selections, the committee will delay the announcement of the Group of Five team until after the Army-Navy game on Dec. 12, according to ESPN's Heather Dinich

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Ed Feng's Week 13 College Football Playoff Standings Predictions

How will the College Football Playoff committee rank teams this Tuesday at 7 p.m. ET?

We use analytics to make an educated guess. Based on last week's committee rankings, my algorithm adjusts teams based on the most recent opponent and margin of victory.

Teams that win keep their place unless they need overtime to beat Florida Atlantic. Teams that lose drop, but not as much if they lose to a Top 10 team. You get the idea.

Let's look at the top movers from Week 12.


Ohio State's title defense is likely over

The stage was set for Ohio State to surge toward 11-0 and a berth in the College Football Playoff. It had Michigan State coming to The Horseshoe without the services of star QB Connor Cook.

However, Michigan State rained on the Buckeyes' party and won a slow, ugly game 17-14. The Spartans defense, which had looked awful against Air Force and Rutgers, showed up in a big way and allowed only 132 yards on 2.9 yards per play to a potent Ohio State offense.

Of course, any defense will look better against questionable play-calling. Urban Meyer's staff called numerous QB runs for J.T. Barrett, and Barrett ended the game with more carries than RB Ezekiel Elliott. Barrett is a fine runner, but he's not the explosive threat of Heisman candidate Elliott.

After the game, Elliott criticized the Buckeyes' play-calling. However, news also came out that Elliott spent three days this week in the hospital, so the coaching staff may have been trying to protect him.

In any event, Ohio State's drop in the rankings will be interesting. Will the committee consider the absence of Cook in judging the Buckeyes? I predict that Ohio State drops to 8th, but the actual drop could be greater if the committee penalizes the Buckeyes for losing to a depleted Michigan State.


Baylor stays alive in upsetting undefeated Oklahoma State

Art Briles makes you question whether it matters which quarterback he plays. Jarrett Stidham, the backup at the beginning of the season, started for Baylor against Oklahoma State and led the Bears to a 24-14 halftime lead.

However, Stidham sustained a leg injury and couldn't play the second half. Third-string QB Chris Johnson came in and threw two perfect strikes for touchdowns of 39 and 71 yards. He added another rushing touchdown to lead Baylor to a 45-35 win.

With the win, Baylor moves up to sixth in the committee rankings. It could still make the playoff but is behind an Oklahoma team it lost to last week.

Oklahoma State lost its first game of the season, which drops the Cowboys to 11th in the committee rankings. To make the playoff, they need a big win over Oklahoma next week and many teams to lose.


Florida survives near-death experience against Florida Atlantic

Florida entered the game against Florida Atlantic as a 31-point favorite but needed overtime to win 20-14. The result drops Florida to 10th in the committee rankings.

It's time to question whether the Gators deserve consideration for one of four playoff spots.

Florida didn't make the Top 25 of the preseason coaches poll. This might seem irrelevant this late in the season, but preseason polls are remarkable predictors. The preseason coaches poll has predicted 59.9 percent of bowl-game winners since 2005, not far behind the 61.5 percent for teams favored by the gambling markets.

In addition, Florida has survived close games against weak Kentucky and Vanderbilt teams. The Gators' loss to LSU looks worse every week as the Tigers have lost three straight games and are spiraling.

Florida still has a shot at the college football playoff, especially since it has already secured a spot in the SEC Championship Game. However, with the close call against Florida Atlantic, its game against rival Florida State next week suddenly seems like a giant road block. 


Ed Feng has a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from Stanford and runs sports analytics site The Power Rank. You can find him on Twitter @thepowerrank.


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