NCAA Football

Texas Longhorns vs. TCU Horned Frogs Betting Odds, Analysis, Football Pick

Texas once dominated the rivalry with Texas Christian, winning 24 straight meetings from the 1960s into the 1990s, but since the Horned Frogs joined the Big 12 they're 2-1 both straight up and against the spread in the series. TCU hosts the Longhorns for homecoming in Fort Worth Saturday afternoon.


Point spread: Horned Frogs opened as 18.5-point favorites, according to sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark. (Line updates and matchup report)

College football pick, via Odds Shark computer: 41.3-21.6 Horned Frogs


Why the Texas Longhorns can cover the spread

UT is off to a 1-3 start to the season, its worst in 60 years, but the last two losses have come by a total of four points, including a 30-27 decision against Oklahoma State last week. The Longhorns trailed 14-3 early, rallied to take a 27-24 lead, but with less than a minute to go in a tie game their punter botched a snap, setting the Cowboys up for the game-deciding field goal.

On the day, Texas ran the ball 42 times for 171 yards while the defense held OSU to 103 yards on 46 carries. That's 2.2 yards per carry.

Two weeks ago the Longhorns rallied from 21 points down against Cal to pull within one point with a minute to go, but missed the extra point. Head coach Charlie Strong is catching flak for his team's lack of progress, but he's only in his second season. If the 'Horns could just put the brakes on the mistakes and penalties, they could begin to turn their ship around.


Why the TCU Horned Frogs can cover the spread

After outlasting Texas Tech last week 55-52, the Frogs are 4-0 so far in their quest to earn a berth in the College Football Playoff. TCU came within a half-minute of a soul-crushing upset, but running back Aaron Green caught a tipped pass in the back of the end zone on a 4th-and-goal to save the day. The Frogs outgained the Red Raiders by 150 yards (although the defense didn't exactly impress) and won the time of possession battle by a 35-25 margin.

Since a somewhat lackluster performance against Minnesota in the season opener TCU has racked up 70, 56 and 55 points, respectively.

The Frogs are filling holes on defense at the moment, but as long as quarterback Trevone Boykin and his offensive line are healthy, they'll always have a chance to simply outscore opponents.


Smart pick

The worm has turned for these two teams, relative to one another; the Frogs are now national championship contenders while the Longhorns are rebuilding. But TCU is coming off an exhausting effort last week, its defense is depleted and playing at home means the spread is probably inflated. If Texas can stop shooting itself in the foot, it could keep this one close enough to cash.


Betting trends

Texas is 1-5 ATS in its last six games.

Texas is 17-1 SU in its last 18 games on the road in October.

TCU is 8-0 SU in its last eight games against the Big 12.


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

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Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. Clemson Tigers Betting Odds, College Football Pick

Notre Dame will play almost anybody anytime anywhere, but the road is a tough task for any team, including the Irish, who are only 10-8 straight up and 7-11 against the spread over their last 18 true road contests. They're headed for a good test this week, as they go to Clemson to take on the Tigers Saturday night down at Death Valley.


Point spread: This game opened as a pick'em, according to sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark. (Line updates and matchup report)


College football pick, via Odds Shark computer: 23.2-21.9 Fighting Irish


Why the Notre Dame Fighting Irish can cover the spread

The Irish are off to a 3-0 start to this season, 2-1 ATS, after mashing Massachusetts last week 62-27. Notre Dame only led by a point late into the second quarter, but it scored 41 unanswered points on its way to the cover as a 28-point favorite. The Irish, with redshirt freshman DeShone Kizer running the show at quarterback, racked up 681 yards of offense, 457 on the ground, as C.J. Prosise came up with his third-straight 100-yard effort.

Two weeks ago, in Kizer's first-ever start, Notre Dame knocked off Georgia Tech 30-22. So through two career starts, the youngster has completed 29 of 43 passes, with just one interception.

To have success on the road in college football, a team needs to do several things, prominent among them being to run the ball effectively and play good defense. This Irish outfit can do both.


Why the Clemson Tigers can cover the spread

Clemson is also 3-0 SU and 2-1 ATS this season, and had last week off. Two weeks ago, the Tigers opened ACC play with a tough 20-17 victory at Louisville, and while they caught some flak for a lackluster performance, and missed on the cover as five-point road favorites, they did outgain the Cardinals by 130 yards and outrushed them 202-19. And one of Louisville's touchdowns came on a kickoff return.

Clemson opened this season with a 49-10 win over Wofford, covering at -34, then beat Appalachian State 41-10, covering at -18.

The Tigers make their hay at Memorial Stadium, where over the last four-plus seasons they're now 28-2 SU and 18-12 ATS. And with the extra week off, they and their raucous home fanbase should be riled up for this one.


Smart pick

Clemson is great at home, while Notre Dame is an iffy proposition on the road. And sending a very young, albeit talented, quarterback into a place like Death Valley is risky. The smart take here is the Tigers, the home team at a short spread.


Betting trends

Notre Dame is 10-1 SU in its last 11 games in October.

Notre Dame is 0-3 ATS in its last three games on the road.

The total has gone under in six of Clemson's last seven games.


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

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Ole Miss Rebels vs. Florida Gators Betting Odds, Analysis, Football Pick

Ole Miss boosters must absolutely love head coach Hugh Freeze—not only are the Rebels a national championship contender, but they're 27-15 against the spread since he took over. This week Ole Miss hits the SEC road for its first meeting with Florida in seven seasons Saturday afternoon at the Swamp.


Point spread: The Rebels opened as 6.5-point favorites, according to sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark (line updates and matchup report).

College football pick, via Odds Shark computer: 25.7-18.3 Rebels


Why the Ole Miss Rebels can cover the spread

The Rebs are off to a 4-0 start to this season (3-1 against the spread) after beating Vanderbilt last week 27-16. Ole Miss dominated most of the game, eventually outgaining the Commodores 472-322, and while Vandy kept it close, the Rebs made the key plays at key times, including a blocked punt and a red-zone stand that resulted in a missed Commodores field goal.

Ole Miss opened this season with blowout wins (and covers) against Tennessee-Martin and Fresno State and then pulled the big upset on the road of Alabama, which propelled it into the national championship conversation. And if the Rebs can win in Tuscaloosa, why can't they win in Gainesville too?


Why the Florida Gators can cover the spread

Florida, playing its first season under new head coach Jim McElwain, is also 4-0 this season (3-1 against the spread) after rallying to top Tennessee last week 28-27 and win outright as a one-point home dog. The Gators trailed 27-14 in the fourth quarter but scored two touchdowns in the last five minutes—the second on a 63-yard Will Grier-to-Antonio Callaway scoring play on 4th-and-14 with a minute-and-a-half to go—to steal the victory.

Florida went 5-of-5 on fourth down and had luck on its side, surviving Tennessee's last-second field-goal attempt.

The Gators opened this season with a 61-13 nuking of New Mexico State, covering as five-touchdown favorites, beat East Carolina 31-24 and then opened SEC play with a tough 14-9 victory over an improved Kentucky team, covering as three-point favorites on the road. So this young team seems to be adapting well to the new coach's systems.


Smart pick

Ole Miss is the better team here with big things in mind for this season, and it showed maturity by avoiding a letdown after the upset of Alabama. Florida, meanwhile, is coming off an emotional, come-from-behind rivalry victory and could be ripe for one of those letdowns. The smart money here is with the Rebs.


Betting trends

  • Ole Miss is 5-0 against the spread in its five games against Florida.
  • The total has gone under in six of Ole Miss' last seven games on the road.
  • Florida is 6-1 straight up and against the spread in its last seven games.


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

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College Football Rankings 2015: Week 5 NCAA Standings and Top 25 Team Records

The Top 25 for Week 5 reflects a Week 4 that wasn't nearly as straightforward as fans anticipated. 

Oregon—the top-ranked Pac-12 team heading into the season—was not only defeated by Utah, but thoroughly dominated. The Utes blew out the Ducks 62-20 and moved into the Top 10, according to the latest AP Poll.

UCLA proved that it can still be a top team without Myles Jack at linebacker with a 56-30 win over Arizona, and No. 3 TCU avoided an upset bid from Texas Tech in Lubbock. 

Here's a look at how the rankings shook out heading into a Week 5 slate that should cause an even bigger shake-up among the college football hierarchy. 


Week 5 Storylines to Watch

Game of the Week: No. 13 Alabama at No. 8 Georgia

The Alabama Crimson Tide find themselves in an unfamiliar situation this week. According to Odds Shark, they will be a two-point underdog when they go between the hedges to play the Bulldogs. As Gil Brandt of noted, it's been a while since the Tide have been the underdogs:

It's understandable why the Tide have been forced into the role. Georgia has been nothing short of dominant in its first four games this season, while Alabama recently lost to Ole Miss. 

However, counting Alabama out in this one would be a mistake. The Tide are in a do-or-die situation. If Nick Saban's squad picks up its second loss, a College Football Playoff berth and SEC title are pretty much out of the question. 

Despite the one in the loss column, the Tide are still No. 1 in the country in an important metric. Football Outsiders' F/+ rankings, which take into account various advanced metrics, still have Alabama as the best team in college football. 

Georgia isn't too bad according to the metric, either. The Bulldogs' play has them ranked No. 7 according to Football Outsiders. The highest-ranked opponent they've played, however, comes in at No. 41 (South Carolina). For comparison, Alabama has already played the No. 19 team in the country in F/+ in Wisconsin and lost to the No. 3 team in F/+ in Ole Miss. 

Georgia is a strong team. Nick Chubb has played lights-out, and the Bulldogs certainly passed every test thus far. Saturday's test comes with a whole lot more gravitas. Will it be a crowning moment for the Bulldogs at home, or will the Tide keep their CFP hopes alive?

Either way, this has to be considered the biggest matchup of the week. 


Potential Playoff Team to Watch: No. 15 Oklahoma Sooners vs. No. 23 West Virginia

There's still plenty of time for a team to move from the middle of the pack to a playoff favorite. One such team that has a shot at starting that run this week is the Oklahoma Sooners. 

Remember in 2014 when TCU went from middling Big 12 team to conference co-champions and one of the conference's biggest threats to make the playoff? It was in large part due to a revamping of the offense with a new Air Raid attack to complement an already-stifling defense. 

Fast-forward to 2015, and the Oklahoma Sooners are in position to make a similar leap this season. Oklahoma brought in offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley to give the offense a shot in the arm, and he's done just that. Baker Mayfield has already thrown for over 1,000 yards through three games in Riley's system, while Samaje Perine continues to pace the running attack that is averaging 182.3 yards per game. 

Even though the Sooners already have a win over a Top 25 team in Tennessee on their resume, West Virginia might be their toughest test to date. Dana Holgorsen has his squad playing really well outside of the conference, and it's led to blowout wins over Georgia Southern, Liberty and Maryland. 

Holgorsen shared his thoughts on West Virginia's understanding of its matchup with Matt Keller of

I’m anxious to get into Big 12 play. We know what we’re getting into at Oklahoma. We understand the history and tradition and their winning percentage and the success they have had. We have a lot of these games coming up in the next month. I think we are prepared as well as we can possibly be. I look forward to getting in there and seeing what happens.

Make no mistake, West Virginia is a live dog here. Odds Shark has the Mountaineers pegged as a touchdown underdog. Their dynamic offense makes that an interesting line. 

However, Oklahoma has a real chance to make a statement here. Between TCU's struggles with injuries and the fact that Baylor has yet to play anyone of merit at this point, the waters of the Big 12 have been muddied since the beginning of the season. 

The eventual league champions might be beating the Mountaineers in Norman on Saturday. 


Upset Watch: Texas Tech at No. 5 Baylor

Featuring a lightweight lineup of SMU, Lamar and Rice, the fact that Baylor's nonconference schedule is the most plush in college football is not a well-kept secret. The Bears are consistently listed as a playoff contender this season, but they have yet to be truly tested. 

That's about to change. 

You remember the Texas Tech Red Raiders, the team that came one miracle tipped-pass touchdown away from upsetting then-No. 3 TCU last week. Now they get a chance to bounce back against a Baylor team that will once again be more than happy to trade explosive plays with them all game. 

Josh Norris of NBC Sports noted both teams' general lack of interest in possessing the ball for long periods of time:

The over/under in this contest is 88, per Odds Shark. That means the folks in Vegas expect a shootout. While the Bears might be the 15-point favorite, Texas Tech's offense is no joke. It ranks No. 3 in Football Outsiders' offensive S&P+ numbers. 

In a game where neither defense will be able to stop the opposing offense, crazy things are bound to happen. Last week, the Red Raiders found themselves on the bad side of those crazy things. This week, it wouldn't be shocking to see them catch a few breaks. 

With Baylor relatively untested so far this season, those breaks might be enough to see them get challenged this week. Few teams can keep up with Baylor's ability to put points on the board. The Red Raiders appear to be up to that challenge and could make things interesting when the game gets into the fourth quarter. 

A win for Tech would cause a major reshuffling in the CFP picture, as it would show the Big 12 is once again fairly wide open at the top.

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Florida vs. Ole Miss Complete Game Preview

The No. 25 Florida Gators are ranked in the Associated Press poll for the first time since 2013, but unless they upset No. 4 Ole Miss in the Swamp on Saturday, their stay won't last more than a week.

The Rebels own one of the two strongest wins in college football this season (the other being what Utah just did to Oregon) after thoroughly beating Alabama in Tuscaloosa two weeks ago. They didn't look as sharp against Vanderbilt in Week 4, but that can be forgiven considering where the Commodores landed on the schedule.

Florida, meanwhile, beat Tennessee for the 11th consecutive time in dramatic fashion in Week 4, converting five fourth downs and erasing a 13-point fourth-quarter deficit. Receiver Antonio Callaway caught the game-winning 63-yard touchdown from quarterback Will Grier with less than 90 seconds left on the clock.

It was a stunning home debut for head coach Jim McElwain in SEC play. But Ole Miss won't be as gracious to the Gators if they struggle to move the ball for 50-plus minutes. Everything they did well in spurts against Tennessee must be done well from start to finish.

Otherwise, the magic will subside.


Date: Saturday, October 3

Time: 7:00 p.m. ET

Location: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium; Gainesville, Florida


Line: Ole Miss -7, according to Odds Shark

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Texas A&M vs. Mississippi State Complete Game Preview

Texas A&M repeated history with a second straight comeback win over Arkansas in Arlington last weekend.

It hopes to avoid repeating history when it hosts Mississippi State on Saturday.

The Bulldogs roasted the Aggies in Week 6 last season, rebounding from an early 7-0 hole by running up 28 consecutive points and eventually leading by as much as 38 in a 48-24 win.

The loss was A&M's first of the year after a 5-0 start and knocked the Aggies from No. 6 to No. 14 in the Associated Press poll. Worse than that, it started their descent over the second half of the season, which started so promising but ended with five losses and a trip to the Liberty Bowl.

Can Kevin Sumlin's team exact revenge? LSU did in Week 2 after losing to the Bulldogs last season. But Dan Mullen's team rebounded with a solid win at Auburn and now finds itself at No. 21 in the AP rankings, contending for another SEC title.

Here's everything you need to know for gameweek.


Date: Saturday, October 3

Time: 7:30 p.m. ET

Location: Kyle Field; College Station, Texas

TV: SEC Network

Line: Texas A&M -7, according to Odds Shark


Note: All advanced stats via SB Nation's Bill Connelly. All recruiting info refers to 247Sports' composite rankings.

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College Football Rankings 2015: Power Ranking All 128 Teams for Week 5

We've reached the end of the first month of the 2015 college football season, and more than two dozen of the 128 teams at the FBS level have yet to lose a game. On the other end of the spectrum, through four weeks we also have seven schools (from six different conferences) that have yet to claim victory.

And in between are a lot of teams moving in either direction. How do they all rank from top to bottom? That's what the power rankings are for.

Bleacher Report's power rankings are comprised of an average of five sources: B/R's weekly Top 25, the Associated Press Top 25, the Amway Coaches Poll, ratings guru Jeff Sagarin's computer rankings and the author's personal rankings for every FBS school. The top 50 teams are broken down individually, while the rest of the 128 FBS teams are summarized in a few easy-to-digest chunks.

Check out where everyone ranks after the first month, and then give us your thoughts in the comments section. 

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The College Recruitment of Rob Gronkowski

Mike White vividly remembers the first time he realized that Rob Gronkowski would play professional football.

Despite covering him as a senior tight end, the veteran Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reporter didn't experience that light-bulb moment until he witnessed the eventual Super Bowl champion pick up a basketball during the winter of 2006. 

"When I saw Gronkowski on the court, that's when my jaw dropped," White said. "I'm watching the guy in warm-ups, and his athleticism was off the charts."

Already standing approximately 6'6" and 250 pounds, the Woodland Hills High School star delighted onlookers with an arsenal of awe-inspiring slams. White looked on as Gronkowski unleashed a 360-degree pregame dunk, sending an intimidating message to opposing players.

"It's a quarter into the game, and I turned to my wife and said, 'See that kid? He's going to be in the NFL,'" White said. "Did I know he was going to be this good? No. I don't think anybody did."

While Gronkowski's football abilities ultimately attracted attention across America, his athletic prowess transcended the game at an early age. He also anchored the lineup of his high school baseball squad, batting cleanup.

The 26-year-old NFL All-Pro affectionately known as "Gronk" wowed folks long before he landed on top of everyone's fantasy football rankings. 247Sports director of scouting Barton Simmons recalls the buzz that surrounded the Buffalo product who transferred to a Pittsburgh-area powerhouse for his final high school campaign.

"Gronkowski was absolutely one of those guys whom some people looked at and saw an offensive tackle because of his size. He probably could have been a first-round pick at offensive tackle if he wanted to do that, but he was just so uniquely talented," Simmons said.

"You knew he was going to be a force in some capacity," he added. "It was just a matter of whether he was going to be a force as a pass-catcher or more of a line-of-scrimmage presence."

Now known for his reliable hands and record-setting production as a receiver at the position, opportunities through the air were rare for Gronkowski as a senior at Woodland Hills. He caught just eight passes in 2006, though he still managed to score four touchdowns and earn a spot in the Post-Gazette's "Fabulous 22" for his overall impact on games. 

That season nearly never occurred for the three-sport standout. The Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League ruled Gronkowski ineligible shortly after his August transfer from Williamsville North High School in Williamsville, New York. 

The WPIAL initially declared his transfer to be motivated by athletic reasons. That decision was reversed less than a week later, clearing the way for Gronkowski to make an immediate impact at Woodland Hills.

His skills as a receiver were well-understood, despite offensive production that pales in comparison to the 324 receptions Gronkowski has racked up since New England drafted him 42nd overall in 2010.

Woodland Hills invested in a JUGS passing machine before Gronkowski's senior season, and the tight end quickly took ownership of it.

"Their football coach [George Novak] tells this story all the time. They had just bought it and went away to camp for a week. Before practice, Gronkowski would stand close to it and catch every pass," White said. "Then he'd get closer and tell them to turn it up as fast as it could go. He would just sit there and catch everything."

Tim Kish, an assistant college football coach since 1978, spearheaded Arizona's recruitment of Gronkowski. While he admits most players of that stature often end up playing on the offensive or defensive line, a Wildcats staff led by head coach Mike Stoops never doubted Gronkowski would make his biggest impact in the aerial attack.

"We anticipated he'd be successful. We just didn't know how good he could be," said Kish, who now coaches linebackers at Oklahoma. "He's a unique and rare athlete."

Beyond the physical tools, Kish admired Gronkowski's attitude. 

"He's got tremendous passion to play the game. He's fiery-competitive. Rob doesn't like to lose at anything, but at the same time, he's a happy-go-lucky guy after the game," he said.

This demeanor makes Gronkowski an endearing professional athlete, one who comes off at times as a big kid. Football fans have become accustomed to watching him dominate the red zone and the dance floor

He carried similar exuberance into the recruiting process.

"He was a guy who would enjoy the campus visits," Simmons said. "Pictures would emerge of him with coeds. He'd refer to himself as 'The Big, Bad Gronk' sometimes. The personality was always there, and that was clear from the beginning. In a lot of cases today, his persona would maybe raise some red flags, but he's managed it so well that if anything, it's a positive with him."

The younger brother of two FBS football players, Gronkowski followed their footsteps as another collegiate prospect in the family. 

His profile grew rapidly, due in large part to a dominant junior season at Williamsville North. Gronkowski earned second-team All-State honors in New York that year, wreaking havoc at tight end and defensive end. 

Considered a 4-star prospect by 247Sports, he was rated fourth nationally among tight ends and 84th overall in the 2007 class' composite rankings. Arizona was hardly alone in its pursuit of the premier talent. 

"He had 45 to 50 scholarship offers," Kish said. "We got our foot in the door with him, and he came out to campus. I think Rob looked around the university and saw it was a beautiful situation with great weather. He knew we were throwing the ball all over the place at the time and that he'd have an opportunity to compete to play right away."

Gronkowski verbally pledged to Arizona in January 2007, midway through a basketball season that saw him average a double-double per game. His decision didn't come with much fanfare or a memorable announcement ceremony but managed to send Kish into a personal celebration.

The Wildcats finished the season a few weeks prior, and the coach was enjoying an offseason trip with his family. He was chopping wood behind a cabin in the White Mountains of northern Arizona when the call came.

It was Gordon Gronkowski and his fourth-born son. Rob was ready to commit.

"Probably everybody in the White Mountains could hear me screaming after that conversation," Kish said. "It was a scream of excitement. We were so thrilled to get him on board. It was huge."

Gronkowski chose Arizona over dozens of options, including top contenders Clemson, Syracuse and Ohio State. He would play just two seasons for the Wildcats, catching 75 passes for 1,197 yards and 16 touchdowns.

Back surgery cost Gronkowski his entire junior campaign, though it didn't prevent him from declaring early for the NFL draft. He ultimately landed with the Patriots and quickly developed into a primary target for future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady. 

Gronkowski now seems well on his way to Canton. He holds the NFL tight end record for most consecutive seasons with at least 10 touchdown grabs and became the all-time single-season positional leader with 1,327 receiving yards in 2011.

"He's had a major impact on the position," top-ranked 2016 tight end recruit Isaac Nauta said. "A lot of college coaches bring him up during conversations because they know plenty of prospects nowadays want to be the next Gronk."

But is there a "next Gronk" in college football recruiting?

Kish isn't so sure.

"I don't know if we'll ever see another one just quite like him," he said. "An athlete who looks like that and moves like that in high school is incredibly rare. Those kinds of players often end up moving to a different position. A decade ago, and obviously still today, Rob proves how unique he really is at tight end."


Editor's note: Throughout the 2015 football season, Bleacher Report will continue a series on the college recruitment of today's biggest sports stars. For previous installments, see below:


Quotes obtained firsthand by Bleacher Report National Recruiting Analyst Tyler Donohue. Recruit ratings are courtesy of 247Sports' composite ratings. Follow Tyler via Twitter: @TDsTake. 

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Texas Longhorns vs. TCU Horned Frogs Complete Game Preview

Trying to avoid a third straight loss, the Texas Longhorns travel to No. 4 TCU on Saturday in hopes of pulling off a big-time upset.

Both the Longhorns and Horned Frogs found themselves in similar situations in their Big 12 debuts. Each highly competitive game came down to the wire, with the entire narrative of the season hanging in the balance.

The difference is Gary Patterson's squad got it done. With under 30 seconds to go, Aaron Green bailed out Trevone Boykin with a diving touchdown catch off a deflection, keeping the Horned Frogs' early College Football Playoff hopes alive.

Texas, on the other hand, botched its second straight shot at overtime against a talented team. One week after a missed extra point cost the Longhorns against Cal, punter Michael Dickson fumbled a snap that allowed Oklahoma State to chip in the game-winning field goal.

It's been a brutal sequence for Charlie Strong and his team, who have yet to play a team that's lost. The Horns have found their quarterback in Jerrod Heard, but the team's inexperience has been a tragic flaw thus far.

Can the Horns finally get it right in one of the nation's most unforgiving environments? Or will TCU stomp out yet another upset attempt?


When Texas Has the Ball

Now three games into the Heard era, it's pretty clear what Texas wants to do on offense. The question is whether the Horns can get it done if one of their top linemen sits.

With Heard at the helm, the Longhorns have gone to a full-fledged spread attack. As evidenced by Heard's 10.9 yards per attempt (No. 2 in the nation, per, they want to push the ball down the field and gets their athletes, namely Heard himself, into space.

That approach has worked well for the Horns, who had two touchdowns called back against Oklahoma State. Well, at least until Kent Perkins came out of the game.

With the right tackle out of the game, the Cowboys absolutely teed off on Heard for five sacks, including two on the final drive. The combination of Marcus Hutchins and Tristan Nickelson was simply no match for OSU's talented defensive ends.

Texas experienced similar results last season when Perkins went down against Kansas State. He left early in the first quarter, and the Horns were shut out 23-0 and finished with 90 rushing yards on the day.

Per Strong, Perkins is now considered day-to-day. If he misses this one, it might be enough for the TCU defense to get back on track.

As SB Nation's Kevin Trahan notes, Patterson's unit has been ravaged by injuries, attrition and a suspension. In its thrilling win over Texas Tech, safety Derrick Kindred was the only starter remaining from last season's Peach Bowl.

The Horned Frogs are still getting into the backfield with 10 sacks, but missed tackles and lapses in coverage have been a real problem. As Heard and the Horns showed us against Cal, it doesn't take much for them to make a big play. 

How Patterson addresses that will define the direction of this game.


When TCU Has the Ball

Patterson may be known for his defense, but it's his offense that will carry this team through the early part of the season.

Since moving to a spread attack last season, the Horned Frogs have averaged an incredible 47.5 points and 557.4 yards per game. Boykin has been the engineer of the offensive renaissance, accounting for 6,268 yards of offense and 57 touchdowns since the start of the 2014 season.

Though this season, Boykin's sharing the spotlight. Receiver Josh Doctson went bonkers against the Red Raiders, reeling in 18 passes for 267 yards and three touchdowns, while the tailback Green is enjoying a breakout of his own.

A week ago, you might have thought this group could put up 100 on the Longhorns. Strong's team had given up 4.8 yards per carry heading into last week's matchup with Oklahoma State and was offering very little resistance on the back end to boot.

But the Longhorns buckled down against the Pokes, harassing Mason Rudolph into three turnovers, including two that were returned for touchdowns.

The turnaround was sparked by the resurgence of Hassan Ridgeway (more on him later) and the insertion of freshmen corners Holton Hill, Kris Boyd and Davante Davis. Speaking to the media on Monday, Strong said (h/t ASAP Sposts) he really liked the energy they brought to the field:

You bring in the two freshmen with Boyd and Hill and even Davante, so we played all freshman corners . . . We're just going to continue to play a lot of guys and just let them play, because what happens when they play and you play enough of them, then they play with a lot of energy, and they enjoy being out there, and they'll compete, and then you don't have to worry about just sitting there worrying, hey, can I really depend on that person. Just let them play. They'll get it done.

Hill, who returned the interception for the touchdown, has a chance to be an X-factor in this one against Doctson. TCU's beastly 6'3" receiver abused Quandre Diggs last season and has since made his case as the best receiver in the country.

At 6'2", Hill's a much better matchup than Diggs because he can press and then run with Doctson. He can't be expected to handle TCU's top threat by himself, but the young corner has the ability to force Boykin into looking elsewhere. From there, it's up to Texas' pass rush to get after the Horned Frogs' star quarterback.


Key Player for Texas: DT Hassan Ridgeway

Hassan Ridgeway has been mentioned in this spot before, and he showed why last week. Now healthy, he's a game-changer for the Longhorns.

Ridgeway finally broke through against the Pokes, recording his first sack of the season and returning a fumble 34 yards for a touchdown. Most of all, the push he created up the middle finally closed the wide-open running lanes the Horns were giving up. As a result, the defense held OSU to 2.2 yards per carry, by far Texas' best showing of the season.

It took a while, but this the Ridgeway we expected all offseason. Now that he's worked his way back into shape, Strong is really impressed with what he's seeing:

What happened the first two [games] is just during the preseason camp he was just working back getting into shape and had a couple of nagging injuries. But then you watch him go out there and play this past week against Oklahoma State and had just a great game.

As Texas' best defensive lineman, Ridgeway will have to keep it up if the Horns have any chance of slowing down the Horned Frogs.


Key Player for TCU: DE Josh Carraway

In a game where we should see a ton of points, the team that gets the most from its defense will have the edge. For TCU, that means Josh Carraway has to come up big.

Oklahoma State had success spying, blitzing and mixing up coverages against Heard. But this TCU defense is much less experienced than what Mike Gundy has at his disposal. If Patterson asks too much of his guys, it could just as easily expose this team to the big play.

Given Texas' issues at tackle, the best course of action would be to try to turn Carraway loose. Even if Perkins plays, he'll be on a bad knee ,and lateral movement has never been his strong suit at 325 pounds.

And should Carraway get to match up with Hutchins or Nickelson, he's going to have a field day getting hits on Heard.


Prediction: TCU 35, Texas 31

The Horned Frogs aren't 18.5 points (per better than Texas right now, but there's no reason to believe Boykin will drop this one at home.

Assuming at this stage that Perkins can play, the Longhorns are more than capable of moving the ball on this TCU defense. The back seven is young and inexperienced, while Heard's just two weeks removed from a 527-yard performance. He'll bounce back, as will the rest of an offense that had two touchdowns called back last week.

Still, this is TCU's offense at home. The Horned Frogs have won their last nine games at Amon G. Carter Stadium, averaging over 51 points per game in those victories.

Texas' young offense will continue to fight and show improvement, but it'll be another tough loss for Strong's team.


Unless otherwise noted, all stats and information courtesy of and

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Pittsburgh vs. Virginia Tech: Complete Game Preview

The Pittsburgh Panthers (2-1, 0-0) are the last team Virginia Tech (2-2, 0-0) wants to see this week after the Hokies lost to the East Carolina Pirates for a second consecutive season. The Panthers beat the Hokies last fall behind 210 yards rushing.

Fortunately for the Hokies, Panthers running back James Conner and quarterback Chad Voytik—who combined for 203 yards on the ground—won't be in the starting lineup this time around. 

Conner, the reigning ACC Player of the Year, is out the for season with a knee injury. Voytik has ostensibly been replaced as Pitt's top quarterback by junior Nathan Peterman. Voytik is still receiving playing time, but Peterman is now the Panthers' top option under center. 

Pitt and VT are former Big East rivals, and this is the Panthers' second season in the ACC. Overall, the Hokies lead the all-time series, 8-6, but Pitt has won five of the past six meetings.

  • When: Saturday, October 3
  • Where: Lane Stadium, Blacksburg, Virginia
  • Time: 12:00 p.m. ET
  • TV: ACC Network, ESPN3
  • Radio: Virginia Tech IMG Sports Network. Here is a complete list of stations by area.
  • Spread: The Hokies are presently 4.5-point favorites, via Odds Shark

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Ohio State's Ezekiel Elliott Has Dog Stolen from His Home, Asks for Help

A family dog belonging to Ohio State star running back Ezekiel Elliott was stolen, according to his Twitter account.

WSYX ABC 6 reported that Elliott's father found someone had "cut a giant hole in the fence at his house last night to steal the dog." The dog is named Chase after OSU's mantra last season (The Chase), per ABC:

It's sad that a person would pull something this low. Hopefully Zeke and his family are reunited with their dog soon.

Update: Sept. 29

Chase was returned to the Elliot family Tuesday, per WTTE Fox 28, after he was found chained to a fence. 

Suspects were reportedly apprehended, but Elliot did not press charges.


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NCAA Football Rankings 2015: Latest Polls, Underrated Teams Poised to Climb

Week 4 of the college football season didn’t look like much on paper. There were obvious mismatches, a dearth of games between ranked teams outside of the Pac-12 and plenty of last-minute cupcakes before conference season was in full swing.

Naturally, college football shattered expectations.

TCU needed a tipped-pass miracle to escape Texas Tech with a 55-52 victory, Ole Miss was challenged by hapless Vanderbilt, Kentucky stunned defending SEC East champion Missouri and the Pac-12 delivered three landscape-altering blowouts in the conference race.

USC eviscerated Arizona State, UCLA ran all over Arizona and Utah essentially ended Oregon’s College Football Playoff hopes with a 62-20 beatdown that left many wondering if the Ducks’ magic from the past few years had officially run out.

As a result, there were a number of changes in the Associated Press and Amway Coaches Poll. Here is a look at the complete rankings, as well as a couple of underrated teams that will climb in the coming weeks.


Teams Poised to Climb in Polls

Utah Utes (No. 10 in Associated Press, No. 12 in Coaches)

Most of the attention focused on the Ducks after their 62-20 loss at the hands of Utah. That made sense considering Oregon played in the national title game last season and looked thoroughly outclassed on its home field Saturday, but don’t overlook Utah’s role in that blowout.

The contest was never in doubt, and the Utes never let Oregon’s dynamic offense score more than seven points in an individual quarter. Utah’s defense avoided the onslaught of game-breaking plays that the Ducks so often use to demoralize opponents and forced three turnovers in the process.

Quarterback Travis Wilson threw four touchdowns and added 100 rushing yards and another score on the ground. Devontae Booker tallied 98 rushing yards, and Utah simply imposed its will on both sides of the ball. It mixed in trick plays, timely turnovers and game-breaking special teams swings and had the Oregon fans heading for the exits well before the final whistle.

Utah has already beaten Michigan as well, which looks much better now after the Wolverines destroyed Oregon State and BYU.

The combination of a strong defense and a star running back in Booker, who ran for 1,512 yards last year, will carry the Utes all season. There were some quarterback questions heading into Saturday’s game, but Wilson dictated the tempo and was the star, even with a shoulder injury.

Clay Travis of Fox Sports believes Utah should be ranked higher than the No. 2 Michigan State Spartans in the Associated Press Poll following Saturday’s action:

I'm not going to focus on the coaches poll, because it's always a joke, but let's just use the AP Poll. Here's the most glaring flaw: Michigan State is presently ranked second in the country, and Utah is tenth. Michigan State owes its high ranking to the fact that it beat Oregon at home by three points. Utah just beat Oregon by 42 on the road. Oh, and Utah also beat Michigan, a team that is now ranked 22nd in the country. Michigan State has beaten Western Michigan, Air Force and Central Michigan, none of those teams in a dominant fashion.

Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports had Utah as the No. 1 squad in his four playoff picks and said “no team has a more impressive resume than the Utes.”

If the Utes perform like they did against Oregon in the coming games, they will shoot up the rankings. They get an undefeated California team at home next week and then an Arizona State squad that was exposed as overrated for the second time this year during its loss on Saturday. 

Then comes the Oct. 24 date at USC. The Trojans looked like world-beaters Saturday against Arizona State, but they were also already physically beat up by Stanford this season and will be coming off a showdown with Notre Dame the week before the Utah contest. 

The Utes’ physicality could be enough to clinch the critical victory and climb into the playoff discussion for good.


Michigan Wolverines (No. 22 in Associated Press, Unranked in Coaches)

Perhaps the Big Ten isn’t just Ohio State and Michigan State after all.

The return of Jim Harbaugh brought plenty of buzz to Ann Arbor and for good reason. Michigan was a dormant college football super power in need of energy and a boost, and the former quarterback and NFC champion coach was just the man to provide it. Now, Derek Jeter is on the sidelines, the Jordan Brand is sponsoring the Wolverines, and there is a legitimate future in place.

The Wolverines beat BYU Saturday to the tune of 31-0, which pairs nicely with their earlier 35-7 victory over Oregon State.

A stifling defense held BYU to 105 total yards and dominated the point of attack, and the running game racked up 254 yards, 125 of which came from De’Veon Smith, who now has 331 on the season.

Michigan's lone loss to Utah certainly looks a lot better after the Utes destroyed Oregon. In fact, Michigan only lost by seven points on the road against a Utes team that could be the best in the Pac-12 by season’s end (if they aren’t already).

There is clear excitement in Ann Arbor, although senior defensive lineman Ryan Glasgow put things in perspective, per Brian Bennett of “I think we’re close. But you can’t think you've made it, because we haven’t. This is just one performance. We can’t think that just because we beat a ranked team that we’re one of the best teams in the Big Ten yet. We still have to work at it.”

That work will come against Maryland in the next contest that figures to be an easy win considering the Terrapins just lost 45-6 to West Virginia and dropped an earlier game to Bowling Green.

The Wolverines then get a home contest against nationally ranked Northwestern before their home showdown with bitter rivals Michigan State. Harbaugh’s team may be a year away from truly challenging the Spartans, but two wins in the games leading up to that will put the Wolverines in top-15 range.

That would put Michigan firmly back in the national spotlight for its clash with Michigan State.

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College Football Playoff Standings 2015: Week 5 Rankings, Bowl Game Projections

As hard as it is to believe, some teams across the country are already a third of the way home with their regular seasons.

There's still plenty—and we mean plenty—of college football to soak in over the rest of the year, but entering Week 5, the early part of the season has provided us with an opportunity to understand just how good some teams are and how bad others have become.

Thanks in part to several Week 4 games that helped separate some contenders from pretenders in several conferences, Bleacher Report's College Football Playoff and postseason bowl projections have returned and are ready to look ahead.

As with any prognostication on the postseason picture this early in the year, these projections are heavy on predicting a ton of coin-flip games, so keep that in mind before screaming to the high heavens.

Also note that the bowl picture is fluid because conferences can send teams that finish higher in the standings to bowls that might be considered lower in the pecking order.

With that in mind, here are a few takeaways heading into Week 5 of the season:

  • Here are the full AP Top 25 rankings. The College Football Playoff selection committee will release its first rankings November 3 at 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN.
  • The College Football Playoff anticipates plenty of changes over the coming weeks, but it should come as no surprise that Ohio State is slated to be the top-ranked team when it reaches the postseason. The closer proximity to Dallas puts the Buckeyes in the Cotton Bowl semifinal against predicted Pac-12 champion UCLA.
  • Already holding a road win over Alabama plus a favorable schedule (Texas A&M and LSU in Oxford), Ole Miss is in prime position to win the SEC. This slots the Rebels in as the second-ranked team in the playoff standings—a spot they can capture even with a loss. Given how weak Baylor's schedule could be at the end of the year, the Bears would be slated in the fourth and final spot regardless of whether they run the table over the rest of the year. Things would shift if Baylor were to lose a game, but for now, that's not looking as likely as it was earlier in the year.
  • Memphis may be the leader in the clubhouse to capture the "Group of Five" bowl bid right now, but there's plenty of competition in its own conference. Because of the Tigers' iffy defense (see Cincinnati last Thursday with a backup quarterback), Houston gets the nod with a win over an ACC opponent (Louisville) already in the bag, a potential win over an SEC team (Vanderbilt) on the horizon and what could be two victories over Memphis. Thanks in part to the weakness of the Mountain West Conference, Boise State is on the outside looking in unless there's a lot of drama among the other Group of Five leagues.
  • Thanks in part to a high number of teams being selected for the "New Year's Six" bowls (in this scenario, Texas A&M as West Division runner-up and Georgia as East champion but SEC title game loser), there's some shuffling when it comes to the SEC bowl picture. Combined with the fact that some teams like Auburn and Arkansas will struggle to qualify for a bowl at all, a few bowls may be looking to select replacement teams from elsewhere.
  • Some juicy matchups could be in the cards, including powerhouses Alabama and Michigan in the Citrus Bowl, Tennessee and Florida State in the TaxSlayer Bowl and USC against Oklahoma in the Alamo Bowl.

Here's a look at the full postseason picture:


You can follow Bryan Fischer on Twitter at @BryanDFischer.

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Predicting Every Remaining Undefeated College Football Team's 1st Loss

Of the 128 teams in the FBS, only 29 boast undefeated records heading into Week 5 of the college football season. 

Some of these teams are bona fide national championship contenders that have already recorded big-time wins in the early season. Others are Power Five programs that haven't been tested yet. And there are some that have defied the odds multiple times to stay unbeaten through four weeks.

But let's bring everyone to a somewhat level playing field and predict when they all will join the 99 other squads that have already tasted defeat.

The following slides contain each undefeated team's highest chance at taking its first loss of the season. I came up with these losses based on location, potential matchup problems, where they land on the schedule and recent history between the two sides.

Of course, these are just one college football writer's opinions and predictions—they have been determined by how these teams look right now. There's still plenty of time for things to change for these undefeated teams between now and their problem matchups, especially in the crazy world of college football.

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Randy Moss' Son Thaddeus Moss Tweets Plan to Officially Visit Georgia

Charlotte, North Carolina, 3-star tight end Thaddeus Moss is one of those prospects who holds the recruiting world in the palm of his hand with every tweet because of minimal interaction with the media.

Last month, the flex TE and son of NFL great Randy Moss tweeted his top six of Arizona State, Georgia, Nebraska, North Carolina State, UCLA and USC. On Monday, the 6'3", 240-pound prospect tweeted his plans for his first official visit:

For Moss, the nation's No. 19-ranked tight end, the trip will mean an opportunity to meet with head coach Mark Richt, offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, tight ends coach John Lilly and the rest of the Georgia staff.

It will give Moss a chance to see how the tight ends are used in a run-oriented offensive scheme.

The trip will also give Moss a chance to see the overall game atmosphere in Athens and how well the Bulldogs perform against Alabama, a team that will enter the game as an underdog for the first time since the 2009 SEC Championship Game, according to LVSuperBook (h/t ESPN's Brett McMurphy):

What would landing a player like Moss mean for Georgia's recruiting? For starters, having a player with his versatility in the lineup would be a plus.

Moss, who picked up his 30th offer on Sunday from Oklahoma, can line up as a receiving tight end, a blocking tight end, a wide receiver or an H-back.

He uses his body well in passing situations against smaller defenders, and when he catches the ball, he showcases soft hands and a long stride after the catch—similar traits to what made his father an exciting NFL receiver.

Moss also is a strong receiver option, a bruiser with finesse of sorts with the right mentality for picking up yards after the catch.

Georgia currently has 17 commitments in its 2016 class, including fellow 3-star North Carolina tight end Garrett Walston, who is ranked ahead of Moss nationally. In case Moss commits as a receiver and not a tight end, it should be noted that the Bulldogs also have four wide receivers committed.

This weekend, Georgia can set the bar high for official visits to come for Moss. He has a UCLA visit scheduled for Oct. 31 and a USC visit scheduled for Nov. 27. adds a scheduled visit to Arizona State on Nov. 21.

Georgia fans are hoping that this weekend will be all Moss needs.


Damon Sayles is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports. Follow Damon via Twitter @DamonSayles.

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Scooby Wright Injury: Updates on Arizona Star's Foot Injury and Return

University of Arizona linebacker Scooby Wright faced adversity soon after the 2015 college football season began, and now the reigning Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year is dealing with yet another injury.

Continue for updates.

Wright Out Several Weeks with Right Foot Sprain Monday, Sept. 28

Wright was one of the most dominant players in college football on either side of the ball last season, but the 21-year-old star has struggled to stay on the field in 2015 thus far.

According to head coach Rich Rodriguez, via Zack Rosenblatt of the Tucson Star, the 2014 Chuck Bednarik Award winner suffered a sprained foot against UCLA on Saturday and is expected to miss several weeks.

Expectations for Wright were huge entering the campaign after he registered 164 tackles and 15 sacks for the Wildcats. Those numbers established him as one of the most productive defensive players in college football in more than a decade, per ESPN Stats & Info:

Unfortunately, he hit a major speed bump in Arizona's first game of the season when he suffered a knee injury. It seemed to be quite significant, as the Bronko Nagurski Trophy winner couldn't even walk under his own power, according to Bleacher Report's Bryan Fischer:

Despite that, Wright's father wasn't overly concerned with the severity of the injury, per Anthony Gimino of Tucson News Now:

Wright was eventually able to work his way back into the lineup, but there is undoubtedly concern among the Wildcats coaches and supporters now that he is on the mend for the second time this season.

Arizona entered the season as a Top 25 team with Pac-12 title hopes due largely to Wright and the defense as a whole. Without him on the field, though, the Wildcats will lose a great deal of dynamism and reliability defensively.

That is a bad combination in a conference with as much offensive talent as the Pac-12 has, and it could lead to the Wildcats' season entering a state of disarray if Wright isn't back soon.

The likes of Haden Gregory, Derrick Turituri and DeAndre' Miller will be looked upon to step up during his potential absence, but none of them brings the same all-around skill set and ability to take over games as Wright.


Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter.

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Scooby Wright Injury: Updates on Arizona Star's Foot Injury and Return

University of Arizona linebacker Scooby Wright faced adversity soon after the 2015 college football season began, and now the reigning Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year is dealing with yet another injury...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

Can Alabama QB Jake Coker Win Between the Hedges at Georgia?

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — There were a lot of messages being sent throughout the University of Alabama football team last week.

There was head coach Nick Saban having senior quarterback Jake Coker take all of the first-team reps in practices, which he had never done before. There was a player’s-only meeting during which the talk centered on everyone ignoring what was being said outside of the locker room and what senior center Ryan Kelly called “negative noise.”

There was also what senior running back Derrick Henry said to Coker after the interception in the second quarter of Saturday’s 34-0 victory against Louisiana-Monroe: Don’t press.

“[I told him to] keep his head in the game,” Henry described on Monday. “There was was a lot of game left to play, just got out and make plays and don't let it affect him."

It was good advice, which will likely be repeated before this week’s showdown at No. 8 Georgia, where No. 13 Alabama might be an underdog for the first time since the 2009 SEC Championship Game against Tim Tebow and Florida. It has fans wondering if Coker can win such a big game “Between the Hedges” at Sanford Stadium.

All they have to go on are his first four games, especially his ULM performance that was viewed as sort of a mixed bag. While the defense played lights out, the offense didn’t quite click as some hoped, and Alabama didn’t pound the ball as expected.

That was partly because of the primary running backs being limited. Henry was coming off having a 100-degree temperature from tonsillitis, senior Kenyan Drake got a little beaten up the previous week against Ole Miss, and Bo Scarbrough was serving the final game of his eligibility suspension.

So Alabama focused on working through some things in the passing game during Coker’s debut as the full-time starting quarterback.

“Eventually, I got things going and finished the way I wanted to finish,” he said.

“I thought I got better, but at the same time, I had some mistakes. There were guys in the wrong position, and it was my fault. I have a long way to go.”

There’s no doubt, though, that Coker played better and looked more comfortable as the game progressed. Specifically, after completing 10 of 21 passes for 80 yards in the first half, Coker was 7-of-10 for 78 yards in the second before being pulled.

One of the second-half incompletions was the dropped pass that should have been a touchdown by freshman wide receiver Calvin Ridley, and Coker also didn’t get credit for the 13-yard completion to Stewart when left tackle Cam Robinson was flagged for being illegally downfield (although replay clearly showed that he wasn’t past the three-yard limit).

Alabama did a lot of crossing and slant routes and numerous times essentially ran the same plays over and over again with different personnel or with what Saban likes to call “window dressing.”

“We played it pretty tight to the vest today, and I think we probably need to do a little more,” Saban said after the game. “I thought Jake did a good job, and however you look at the stops, you’ve got to look at the drops. That wasn’t really his fault; he made some good throws. There was probably a couple times that he wishes he would have done it a little different, in terms of going to somebody else, and those are the things we need to work out and get better at.”

After reviewing the game film, Saban said there were six dropped passes. Sophomore ArDarius Stewart, junior Chris Black, sophomore Cam Sims and Ridley all had an obvious one, but part of the game plan was to get more players involved.

“We do take it to heart,” Stewart said about the drops.

Still, when Coker talks about improving, he’s mostly referring to things like not going through his progression and locking in on one receiver. A perfect example was the pass intended for O.J. Howard against Ole Miss that was picked off. Coker never took his eyes off the tight end.

On the ULM interception, Henry had just slipped out into open field, and had Coker noticed him, it could have resulted in a big gain. On 3rd-and-3, he tried to force a pass to Ridley for an incompletion. Senior wide receiver Richard Mullaney was open on a crossing route.


  • Alabama converted just two of 13 third-down opportunities against the Warhawks. Coker was 3-of-8 on the down, but only one pass resulted in a first down.
  • Yards after the catch were almost nonexistent. Senior tight end Michael Nysewander, a former walk-on, had 17 on his 19-yard touchdown, and Black had 12 on his 19-yard slant early in the fourth quarter. Those two plays accounted for 29 of Alabama’s 49 unofficial yards after the catch.
  • Coker’s longest completed pass downfield was caught 17 yards from the line of scrimmage on his final touchdown pass, a bootleg to the right during which Coker showed good patience despite a block being missed. Anything longer, and he was 0-of-3 with one interception.

Alabama’s offense, with nine new starters, also had trouble with the blitz, which Georgia has surely noticed, but one thing Coker didn’t attempt in the second half was another deep pass, which can only be taken as a sign of improvement. Despite his arm strength, he has yet to connect on a home run ball, while the receivers haven’t gotten separation or gone up to try to make a play.

“Obviously, we’ve got some young receivers out there playing who have not played much that need to develop more confidence,” Saban said. “I think Calvin Ridley is playing well, and I think ArDarius Stewart can be a really good player for us. We’ve just got to get a little more consistent with what we’re doing, and we’ve got to bring some of the young guys along. Richard has done a good job all year long.”

The key word there is confidence, which only comes through repetition and experience, yet there are two important things to keep in mind regarding the looming showdown in Athens: 

  1. Coker was the one to lead Alabama in its comeback back against Ole Miss, which, like Georgia, has a very good defense.
  2. If everything goes the way Alabama hopes, he won’t have to try to lead the team to a win. Although Saban wants the offense to be as balanced as possible, the Crimson Tide’s trademarks remain a powerful running back and imposing defense.

The coach never wants to have to put the game in the quarterback’s hands.

“The more games that he starts, the more reps that he gets, the confidence level is only going to go up, and I think people are starting to notice that,” Kelly summarized.

“If I know Jake, I know he’s going to be the most well-prepared that he can. The guy studies his [rear] off, and I just know that’s what he’s going to do. He’s going to give us the best chance to win.”


Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.

Christopher Walsh is a lead SEC college football writer. Follow Christopher on Twitter @WritingWalsh.

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B/R CFB Committee: Playoff Predictions Heading into Week 5

Week 4 of the college football season is in the books, and as upsets loom larger, the playoff picture is becoming clearer by the week.

Who is the top team in the country? Which teams will fill the other three spots in the College Football Playoff?

Watch as Bleacher Report College Football Analysts Barrett Sallee, Adam Kramer and Michael Felder examine the potential playoff scenarios heading into Week 5 in the video above.

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10 Names to Know from the 2016 Elite 11 QB Watch List

Annual Elite 11 action helps college football coaches and recruiting analysts evaluate the country's top quarterback prospects in a competitive environment. These premier high school passers may eventually evolve into stars at the university of their choice and, in some cases, beyond.

The folks at Student Sports released a "watch list" featuring quarterbacks in the 2017 class who've landed on Elite 11's national radar. The collection includes multiple committed athletes, while the vast majority remain undecided about their collegiate destination.

These talented juniors ultimately aim to join a prestigious group of Elite 11 alumni headlined by Andrew Luck, Jameis Winston and Matthew Stafford. From an early list of more than 90 names, here's a closer look at 10 compelling quarterbacks who could claim the spotlight next summer at Nike's world headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon.

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