NCAA Football

USC vs. Utah Complete Game Preview

WHEN: Saturday, Oct. 25; 10 p.m. ET WHERE: Rice-Eccles Stadium; Salt Lake City, Utah TV: Fox Sports 1 Saturday’s Week 9 Pac -12 South tilt pitting USC vs...

Begin Slideshow

Pros and Cons of Firing Will Muschamp Before the End of the Season

After Florida's embarrassing 42-13 loss to Missouri, it's getting to a point where it's not "if," but "when" head coach Will Muschamp will be fired.

Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley told ESPN.com in September that he will evaluate Muschamp's job performance after the season, but after the loss to the Tigers—which dropped the Gators to 3-3 (2-3 SEC) on the season—and with a bye week this week, there's no time like the present to make a move.

What are some of the pros and cons to letting go of Muschamp now as opposed to after the season? We examine both sides in this slideshow.

Begin Slideshow

Which Pac-12 Team Has the Best Shot to Derail Oregon's Playoff Hopes?

Oregon has been the cream of the crop in the Pac-12 in recent history, and this season is proving to fall right in line. Bleacher Report College Football Analysts Michael Felder and Barrett Sallee discuss which Pac-12 team has the best chance at beating the Ducks.

Will the Ducks be in the College Football Playoff?

Watch the video and let us know!

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

College QB Throws TD to Himself on Deflected-Ball Play

We should all be so lucky as to have a quarterback of Nelson Hughes’ caliber on our fantasy football teams.

The North Greenville University signal-caller managed to throw and catch his own pass for a touchdown against Mars Hill University on Saturday.

BroBible.com’s J. Camm spotted footage of the play. Hughes dropped back, attempted to thread one through traffic and had his pass swatted back to him by a Mars Hill lineman.

Instead of crumpling to the ground, the NGU quarterback initiated Benny Hill theme song mode and scrambled for his life. After evading several tacklers, Hughes picked up some blockers and turned upfield for a 47-yard touchdown.

Going by a literal interpretation of the play, this would be around an 18-point fantasy football play in most leagues. The Crusaders have it written up as a Hughes to Hughes in their official box score:

So if you started Hughes in your Division II college football fantasy league (and who didn’t?), you’re sitting pretty right now.

Unfortunately for the Crusaders, Mars Hill would go on to win the game 30-27. Brush it off, Hughes. You’ll catch two next time.

 

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

 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Brian Kelly Comments on Go-Ahead TD Play, Penalty from Notre Dame vs. FSU

Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly was livid after a controversial offensive pass interference call wiped out the Irish's potential game-winning touchdown in their 31-27 loss Saturday to Florida State. With a day to ruminate and further clarification provided by the officiating crew, reporters asked if he better understood the call Sunday.

Nope.    

Per Matt Fortuna of ESPN.com, Kelly said:

Actually I have less clarity. I guess it was actually called on Will Fuller, not C.J. (Prosise). So [it] just adds more uncertainty as to the final play. But again, the play itself, in terms of what we ask our kids to do, it was pretty clear what happened on the play: Florida State blew the coverage and they got rewarded for it. It's unfortunate.

Will Fuller was flagged for offensive pass interference on a two-yard pass from Everett Golson to Corey Robinson, which would have given Notre Dame a 33-31 lead with 13 seconds remaining. In real time, the Notre Dame receivers appeared to be running standard pick routes designed to open up Robinson—plays often run and rarely flagged in short-yardage situations.

However, ACC coordinator of football officials Doug Rhoads defended the crew's call Sunday. Rhoads specifically cites the wide receivers blocking downfield on a forward pass as a violation, noting that neither player attempted to run a route.

“Offensive players on passing plays are restricted from going downfield and blocking anytime from the snap,” Rhoads said, per Zach Barnett of College Football Talk. “If the ball is first touched behind the line of scrimmage then that would be legal and it’s okay, but if it’s touched beyond the line then it’s offensive pass interference.”

The resulting 15-yard penalty pushed the Irish to their own 18-yard line, forcing a desperation heave on 4th-and-goal. Golson's pass was subsequently intercepted by linebacker Jacob Pugh, with the Seminoles wrapping up their NCAA-high 23rd straight victory.

Notre Dame's loss dropped the Irish from No. 5 to No. 7 in The Associated Press Poll, putting their playoff hopes in jeopardy.

 

Follow Tyler Conway (@tylerconway22) on Twitter.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

South Carolina vs. Auburn: Complete Game Preview

AUBURN, Ala. — Two months ago, most people expected this Saturday's matchup at Jordan-Hare Stadium would be a battle between two of the top teams in the SEC.

However, with the state of Mississippi taking a hold of the conference's Western division and an early Eastern favorite suffering two early conference losses, the South Carolina-Auburn game will be a matchup of two teams needing some help in order to get to Atlanta.

But don't let the diminished prestige of a game between two preseason Top-10 teams fool you—Saturday night's game is crucial for an Auburn team looking to rebound from a loss to Mississippi State two weeks ago and a South Carolina team needing to stay alive in the East's free-for-all.

Auburn, who has dominated the all-time series against South Carolina with a 9-1-1, is hoping to reap the benefits of an important bye week and put together a complete performance that puts head coach Gus Malzahn's Tigers back into the national spotlight.

Steve Spurrier and South Carolina, on the other hand, are looking for improvements from a lackluster defense as its under-the-radar offense leads the way in an upset bid on the Plains.

Before we get to the full breakdown of this cross-divisional clash, here is all the basic information you need to know:

Begin Slideshow

Jakeem Grant Injury: Updates on Texas Tech WR's Recovery from Shooting

Texas Tech wide receiver Jakeem Grant suffered a laceration and was one of two people injured in an off-campus shooting in Lubbock early Sunday morning.    

Lt. Bryan Taylor, a spokesperson for the Lubbock County sheriff's office, confirmed Grant was injured when "more than 20 rounds were fired from multiple weapons during an altercation," per Nicholas Talbot and Sarah Rafique of the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal.

“Tech has confirmed that it was one of their football players, but his involvement, I don’t know,” Taylor said. “I don’t know if he was involved in the altercation or if he just caught part of the assault. It’s my understanding that he had a laceration, so it may have been a knife wound...Anytime you have that many shots fired, people are going to scatter. I don’t know what caused his laceration.”

Grant was taken to the hospital Sunday morning to treat his injuries but was released later that day.

Texas Tech spokesperson Blayne Beal told Talbot and Rafique that Grant was "doing well." Texas Tech and police are still investigating the matter. David Ubben of Fox Sports Southwest provided a statement from head coach Kliff Kingsbury discussing the incident:

A second person was also injured in the altercation and those injuries are not considered serious.

Grant, a junior, leads the Red Raiders with 50 receptions and 629 yards. The 5'6" slot receiver has made touchdown receptions in four of his last five games, though he was held without a score in Texas Tech's win over Kansas on Saturday.

A full police report is expected to be issued later Monday. Texas Tech is scheduled to play No. 10 TCU on Saturday.

 

Follow Tyler Conway (@tylerconway22) on Twitter

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Former NFL QB's Mentorship Has Oregon QB Commit Seth Green on Path to Success

As he trotted onto the field for his first play as a high school quarterback, a combination of nerves and adrenaline took over Seth Green.

Despite being just 14 years old, Green quickly suppressed his emotions and focused on the task at hand.

East Ridge High School (Saint Paul, Minnesota) head coach Mike Pendino believed that his young freshman could provide a spark for the Raptors, who were trailing 7-3 in the second quarter against rival powerhouse Cretin-Derham Hall.

“I just said to myself, ‘He’s the guy,’” Pendino said of his decision to insert Green into that pressure-packed moment. “He’s going to be the future. Let’s let him do it. We’ve seen him do it in practice. Now let’s see how he’s going to do it in front of five (thousand) or 6,000 people against a very good team in Cretin-Derham Hall.”

Like his son, Bryan Green was anxious. He sat in the crowd amongst a group of friends and family. He figured that Coach Pendino would ease young Seth into the game by calling a handoff.

 

However, Pendino had other ideas.

Seth took the snap and sold the fake handoff to his running back. He then calmly dropped back and launched a deep ball that hit his target in stride for an 81-yard touchdown strike.

“Words can’t describe it,” Bryan said. “I felt like a kid in a candy store. I was jumping, yelling, high-fiving everybody. The whole stadium just erupted with cheers. It was definitely that proud father moment.”

While the Raptors would go on to lose that night, Green’s first play as a prep quarterback would set the stage for him to emerge as one of the nation’s premier signal-callers in the class of 2016. 

The 6’4”, 210-pounder has flourished over the last two seasons, throwing for 2,565 yards and 25 touchdowns. He’s off to a fast start this fall, having thrown for 1,319 yards and 13 touchdowns with another three scores coming via the ground, according to Minnesota Football Hub. He's also been selected to The Opening's 2015 watch list, per StudentSports

On Wednesday morning, Seth became the second commitment in Oregon's 2016 class. He selected the Ducks over offers from Michigan State, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Louisville among others. 

 

Seth’s journey to becoming a top-flight quarterback almost never happened. But thanks to a father who realized his son’s gifts at an early age, Seth—who grew up wanting to play receiver—relented on his preferred position and lined up under center at his father’s suggestion.

“He was the only one who could get the snap every time,” Bryan recalled while chuckling. “I told him, like it or not, you are going to be my quarterback because I know we will get the play off and we would get production.”

Seth thrived in the role and was good enough by his middle school years that Bryan decided to invest in his son’s future. He began taking him to quarterback camps and even hiring a local quarterback coach to work with Seth in the summer.

Prior to his eighth grade year, Seth went to a camp at Hill-Murray High School, where former Wisconsin and NFL quarterback Brooks Bollinger had just been named head coach.

It didn’t take long for Bollinger—who spent the last two years serving as the quarterbacks coach at Pitt—to realize he had something special in Seth. 

“He was really young, but the physical attributes alone made you say, ‘Wow, this kid has a chance to be really good,’” Bollinger said. “But I think the two things that stuck out to me about him was how he carried himself and his toughness, mentally and physically.”

The Greens decided to enroll Seth at Hill-Murray for the eighth grade, where he continued to work with the NFL veteran and played on the junior varsity team.

Bollinger noted that the team was at a disadvantage numbers-wise playing against some of the bigger schools in the district. Despite playing squads who started sophomores and juniors, Green proved his mettle amid the chaos going on around him.

“He got hit in the mouth a bunch, but he got up,” Bollinger recalls. “He stood up, brushed it off and didn’t complain or shy away from it. He just showed that mental and physical toughness to keep competing. I think that’s what makes Seth who he is.”

Even with his physical gifts and his toughness, his coaches were struck at how natural Seth was with the intangible qualities that are required to play the most difficult and critical position on the field.

His leadership, poise in the pocket and the ability to command the huddle were immediately evident to Bollinger.

“He’s got exactly what you want from a quarterback from a personality standpoint,” Bollinger said. “He’s really comfortable with who he is, which gives him natural confidence, but he’s not arrogant. To be able to step in a huddle and have command of it as an eighth-grader, that’s rare. That’s a non-negotiable element of being a great quarterback, and he’s had that for awhile now.”

Pendino agrees, citing that one of the main reasons he handed Seth the reins of his offense so early was because he felt his young star had the “it” factor.

“You just know it, and you feel it, and you see it when you are around him,” Pendino said. “The way the other players gravitate toward him. They listen to what he has to say. Even as a freshman, he walked into the huddle, and they all listened.”

Seth soaked up all of the advice he could get from the former Badgers star, and it’s a relationship that Seth admits has helped him mature into an elite prep passer.

“He just showed me a glance of what it’s like on the next level of football,” Seth said. “With that, it helped me out and helped prepare me for what to expect going into high school.”

Pendino said that Green’s work ethic has only increased since he’s been at East Ridge. Admittedly a film-room junkie, Green’s mental understanding of the game has allowed him to master a trait that takes most quarterbacks on the collegiate level time to develop.

“Right now, he’ll check out of plays 10-12 times a game based on film study and what he sees on the field,” Pendino said. “That’s a tough thing to do, even for quarterbacks at the collegiate level. He’s really become very good at seeing defenses, having a pre-snap read and knowing when it’s time to check out of a play and when it’s not.”

As the attention with the recruiting process grew, Bryan and his son approached it in a business-like manner. Bryan raised Seth and his younger 12-year-old twin brothers, Blaine and Bryson, to remain rooted in their faith and to keep their focus on academics first and foremost.

Seth—who mentioned plans to major in sports marketing or a related field in the sports world—refused to place more importance on his recruiting process over his current duties as a student-athlete at East Ridge.

“I didn’t try to let it (recruiting) consume me,” Seth said. “I tried to look at it as a hobby. I enjoyed it during my free time, but I tried not to let it interfere with the things I’m doing at school with my team and with my goals as a student.”

With his commitment to the Ducks out of the way, Seth’s primary goal is to lead his team to a state title. However, he’s also driven to be a mentor to his brothers, who appear to be following in his footsteps as young gridiron stars in the making. Both are two-way standouts who are excelling at safety on defense and receiver on offense. 

For what it’s worth, the twins already have a ringing endorsement from Seth’s mentor.

“His two little brothers are better than he is,” Bollinger said with a laugh. "He might be the best quarterback in the country in his class, but he’s not be the best player in his own house."

 

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

 

 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Former NFL QB's Mentorship Has Oregon QB Commit Seth Green on Path to Success

As he trotted onto the field for his first play as a high school quarterback, a combination of nerves and adrenaline took over Seth Green . Despite being just 14 years old, Green quickly suppressed his emotions and focused on the task at hand...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

Does High Schooler Have Best Punt Return of the Year?

Markell Vaugh, a senior athlete at Omaha North High School, makes one of the best punt returns you will see this year, refusing to go down and taking the ball to the house.

Was this the best punt return of the year?

Watch the video and let us know!

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

AP College Football Poll 2014: Official Top 25 Rankings and Week 9 Projections

Another week of college football, another shakeup in the Top 10 of The Associated Press Poll. 

That's been the story of the 2014 season thus far, and it didn't change with an interesting slate of results in Week 8. Baylor was sent tumbling out of the top echelon by a stunning upset loss to West Virginia, while the Alabama Crimson Tide reintroduced themselves to the Top Four with an emphatic win over Texas A&M. 

However, those weren't the only changes in the most recent poll. Here's a look at how the AP voters currently see the Top 25 teams followed by projections for the biggest games set to sway the rankings in Week 9. 

 

Week 9 Projections

No. 1 Mississippi State at Kentucky

You can spin this game as a trap for the No. 1-ranked Mississippi State Bulldogs pretty easily. Kentucky comes into this game a perfect 5-0 at home. The Wildcats just suffered a miserable 41-3 loss at the hands of LSU, but that game was in Baton Rouge. This one will be in Lexington.

Then there's the fact that Mississippi State isn't exactly a program that is used to sitting atop the polls. The Bulldogs have been impressive to this point, but this is the first time since their ascension up the rankings that they will play an unranked team on the road.

But once you pull back the layers of narrative and spin, a simple truth remains: This game shouldn't be close. The Bulldogs should have no problem covering the 13-point spread, per Odds Shark.

Kentucky's 5-0 record at home may look nice on paper, but those five wins have come against UT-Martin, Ohio, Vanderbilt, South Carolina and UL-Monroe. Not exactly a murderer's row.

To see the true disparity between these two teams, one has to look at a metric that actually takes their play into consideration. For instance, Football Outsiders' F/+ rankings currently have Mississippi State at No. 2 while Kentucky comes in at No. 59. And those have yet to account for the Wildcats' loss to LSU.

Mississippi State has proven its one of the top teams in the country. There's nothing to see here. This will be a routine blowout.

Prediction: Mississippi State 42, Kentucky 10

 

No. 3 Ole Miss at No. 24 LSU

There's a reason that College GameDay will be headed to LSU this week. There's no more intriguing game on the docket than Ole Miss heading down to Tiger Stadium looking to preserve their undefeated record.

The Rebels have done everything in their power to prove they deserve their lofty No. 3 ranking. However, after Texas A&M's recent collapse, it's difficult to make the argument they have a quality win on the road.

This is their opportunity to change that.

The Tigers aren't your typical Les Miles squad. The defense is ranked just 54th in the nation in yards allowed per play, according to TeamRankings.com. But that didn't stop them from giving the No. 1-ranked Bulldogs their most difficult test to date when they visited the Bayou Bengals. 

But much like Ole Miss' in-state rival, a closer look at the numbers reveal another mismatch:

It may be strange to see Ole Miss near the top of the college football world, but it's a spot the team has earned. A strong win in a hostile environment should be just what Bo Wallace and the Rebels need to silence any remaining doubters. 

Prediction: Ole Miss 24, LSU 10

 

No. 20 USC at No. 19 Utah 

A pivotal Pac-12 South battle between the USC Trojans and Utah Utes is just one of two games between ranked foes this week. And if the conference's late-night battles have been any indication, it should be a perfect matchup to end the evening. 

While both teams have one loss in the crowded division, there's a lot at stake in this game. The loser will be at a serious disadvantage in the race to likely play Oregon in the conference championship game. 

The difference-maker in this game is likely to be Utah running back Devontae Booker. As Bruce Feldman points out, the junior has been sensational lately:

With the USC defense ranking a pedestrian 69th in country in rushing yards allowed per attempt at 4.4, via TeamRankings.com, the Trojans will find it difficult to get off the field consistently. 

That will be the difference in a game that won't be decided until the fourth quarter. 

Prediction: Utah 20, USC 17

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Bowl Predictions 2014: Heavy Favorites in Danger of Postseason Upset

Just when it seems the college football landscape appears set, another massive upset takes place. That shocker in Week 8 came when Baylor was knocked off by West Virginia in a convincing 14-point victory.

Outside of Morgantown, several other programs made a statement Saturday. Of those, the biggest wins came from Alabama and Florida State, who both took down teams in the Top 25.

That brings up an interesting dynamic when the postseason rolls around with so many up-and-down teams. It's already difficult enough to figure out who will make the College Football Playoff, so predicting who will lose at this point is a true test.

With the midway point of the season in the rearview mirror for most teams, here's a look at the programs in danger of a bowl upset.

 

Florida State

I'm sure this is going to upset the Seminoles fans who have seen their team go 23-0 in their last 23 games, but they are far from perfect. Sure, every team has flaws, but Florida State has been pushed against the ropes multiple times this season.

Against a Notre Dame team that was ranked inside the Top Five, FSU narrowly escaped with a win thanks to a late penalty. Running back Karlos Williams referenced the way the game went Saturday night for the Noles, per Paul Myerberg of USA Today: "We felt like they gave us their best shot. They left us in the game when they only scored 17 points. They could've put us away very, very early. They made mistakes and didn't execute well, that only allowed them to score 17 points."

Much of that success was thanks to Jameis Winston, who was 15-of-16 for 181 yards and a touchdown in the second half. But with Florida State continuously getting tested, it's bound to run into a team that won't make those miscues like the Irish.

The Seminoles have been resilient this season but are far from the team that won the national championship last year. A little luck helped Florida State get to the point it's at now, but that will eventually run out in the College Football Playoff.

 

UCLA

Despite having two losses already this season, the UCLA Bruins still have a good chance of making it to a notable bowl game. Oregon should get first choice, but UCLA can run the table and secure a berth.

However, UCLA will need some help if it faces an offensive team. For example, ECU has a plethora of weapons in Shane Carden, Justin Hardy and Isaiah Jones that can take the top off any defense.

Prior to this weekend's narrow win for UCLA over California, ESPN College Football noted the woeful numbers for the Bruins:

While UCLA still has a chance to turn things around, it won't be a simple task to win in its bowl game. Overall, the Bruins defense ranks 84th in the country with 425.6 yards allowed and 88th with 29.3 points per game.

In a tough Pac-12, the Bruins might still make it to a huge bowl game by the end of the season. But with a defense that has been ravaged all season, UCLA is a team that can be picked apart by a top offense on the big stage. 

 

Clemson

The Clemson Tigers might be on the low end of what we'd consider a "heavy favorite" to make a notable bowl, but they are still on track. However, in the two big games it's played so far, Clemson has come away 0-2.

In the first game of the year, Clemson was routed by Georgia by 24 points on a national stage. Against a Florida State team that was without Jameis Winston, the Tigers still came up short, 23-17, and they lost any public perception as a College Football Playoff contender.

Meanwhile, the team still remains just behind the Seminoles in the ACC. If Florida State does make the College Football Playoff, it will likely be the Tigers that make it to the Orange Bowl.

Clemson is still a heavy favorite to make it to one of the top postseason bowls, but it simply doesn't have the makeup to knock off the best teams. Even if Deshaun Watson is back from a hand injury, he won't be enough to propel the Tigers to a win.

 

Follow @RCorySmith on Twitter.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Samuel Chi's Mock College Football Playoff Standings: Week 9

We're one week from the selection committee's first-ever rankings. The 12 members (after the news of Archie Manning dropping out for health reasons Monday) will not have an easy time of it in this inaugural season of the College Football Playoff. In fact, they might be looking at a scenario as messy as it was in 2007.

Remember that year, when a two-loss LSU team made it to the BCS title game? Well, the chaos this year actually started much earlier, as we'll have no more than two major-conference unbeaten teams at the end of the regular season—and we're not even out of October yet! It's already guaranteed that half of the four-team playoff field will be filled with teams with losses, maybe even two losses. 

That will make the committee's job all the more difficult. Furthermore, with all five power conferences—plus Notre Dame—still very much in play to vie for the four playoff spots, somebody is going to be bitterly left out.

Here's how things stand at the halfway point of the season:

 

The Rankings

(See methodology of standings)

 

The Playoff Teams

1-2. Ole Miss/Mississippi State

These two teams are in a statistical dead heat in our standings, and that's about right. It appears this year's Egg Bowl will be the biggest in history, with the winner in all likelihood getting a berth in the playoff. Of course, both teams still have challenging contests remaining before all that, so neither should be counting its chickens.

Projected bowl: Playoff at Sugar Bowl

 

5. Florida State

Thanks to a late (but legit) offensive pass interference call, the defending national champs lived to fight another day as a loss to Notre Dame would've almost assuredly knocked them out of the playoffs. The Seminoles' remaining schedule will be much more manageable than any of their potential playoff foes, but they must stay vigilant because they have no margin for error.

Projected bowl: Playoff at Rose Bowl

 

6. Oregon

Thanks to the flurry of upsets over the last two weeks, the Ducks are back in the playoff picture. Oregon has righted its own ship since its upset loss to Arizona, and now it is the Pac-12's best hope of landing a playoff spot. But since the Pac-12 is probably the best conference from top to bottom this season, the Ducks can't afford to look past anybody.

Projected bowl: Playoff at Rose Bowl

 

8. TCU

One week after a dispiriting loss at Baylor, the Horned Frogs suddenly found themselves back on top of the Big 12 once again. Ironically, TCU isn't one of the teams that controls its own destiny in terms of winning the conference title. It also still faces many more major tests, including Kansas State's visit on Nov. 8.

Projected bowl: Playoff at Sugar Bowl

 

 

The First Four Out

3-4, 7. Auburn/Alabama, Georgia

The SEC is still very much hoping for multiple berths in the inaugural year of the playoff, but the odds are not in its favor simply because these conference teams must still beat each other up for another month. The Iron Bowl is shaping up to be a consolation game to determine not a spot in the playoff, but maybe a New Year's Six bowl slot. Georgia will pin all of its hopes on running through the East unblemished and then pulling off a major upset in the SEC Championship Game.

Projected bowl: Multiple New Year's Six bowls

 

9. Notre Dame

As we noted in the immediate aftermath of their heartbreaking loss to FSU, the Irish are far from dead in terms of landing in the playoff. They'll need some help, but their resume stacks up favorably against most other one-loss teams. The lack of a conference championship game, or even a game on the final weekend of the season, might prove to be a major detriment to Notre Dame, though.

Projected bowl: Cotton Bowl

 

10/13. Michigan State/Ohio State

The winner of the MSU/OSU game in two weeks in East Lansing is looking increasingly like the Big Ten's best hope for landing a playoff spot. But without question, the conference needs help, as it is at the moment the odd man out among the power-five conferences. It's imperative for the winner of that game to finish 12-1, and then it must hope that the Big 12 or Pac-12 champ, and probably Notre Dame, incur at least a second loss.

Projected bowl: Fiesta Bowl

 

11-12. Kansas State/Baylor

While TCU looks to have the inside track for the moment, these two teams actually control their own destiny in terms of winning the Big 12. And they'll meet on the last day of the regular season in Waco to perhaps decide exactly that, assuming they both go through the rest of the schedule unbeaten.

Projected bowl: Peach Bowl

 

Other Fun Facts

* Marshall, by being one of only four FBS unbeaten teams, is moving up with the hopes of seizing the automatic entry to a New Year's Six bowl granted to the top group-of-five champion. While East Carolina still has the best resume, its lone loss to South Carolina is losing its luster fast. Colorado State is another main contender, but it does not control its own fate in winning its division. Other teams now also finding themselves in the mix include two-loss Central Florida (American) and Boise State (Mountain West).

* It's probable that the SEC may land as many as four teams in the 12 New Year's Six bowl slots (including the playoff bowls), while two power-five conferences will be left with just single entries. It's nearly a given that the Big Ten will claim just one spot, but the Pac-12 might also be looking at just a playoff berth and no more. The Pac-12 South is ranked by Jeff Sagarin as the second-toughest division this year, yet it's not getting nearly as much respect in the polls.

* The selection committee will be releasing its first-ever rankings on Oct. 28, but that won't be nearly as interesting as its second ranking the following Tuesday. That's where we actually pick up clues as to whether the 12 members treat each week individually without being swayed by their own confirmation bias or they've been infected by the same disease that's afflicted AP and coaches poll voters for years. 

 

Follow on Twitter @ThePlayoffGuru 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Archie Manning Takes Leave from College Football Playoff Committee Due to Health

The College Football Playoff committee lost one of its most visible members for the remainder of the season Monday, as Archie Manning, 65, has been forced to remove himself from the 2014 selection process due to health concerns.  

Manning released a statement discussing his decision, courtesy of CollegeFootballPlayoff.com:

Manning said he would undergo surgery next month to help relieve discomfort he is experiencing while walking and moving around. He will be unable to travel to the meetings. ...

... Manning said, 'It is an honor to serve on this committee, and I enjoy the group and was looking forward to the opportunity ahead. My health had to be my primary concern, and I intend to be up and about as soon as possible.'

Bill Hancock, executive director of the College Football Playoff, also provided a statement discussing the news:

We will miss Archie. He has such a great knowledge of college football and history with the game, but we all understand his reason for taking a leave. I wish him all the best and look forward to his return in 2015.

The committee will stay with 12 members this season, per the press release. ESPN's Joe Schad reports what that would mean in the event of a standstill:

Chris Mortensen of ESPN first reported Manning was opting to resign from the committee:

Per Mortensen, Manning had knee replacement surgery earlier in the year and will require another surgery next month. Following a back surgery in 2013, Manning simply needs some time to mend.

An Ole Miss legend—he was the starting QB from 1968-70—Manning was selected second overall in the 1971 NFL draft by the New Orleans Saints, where he played for 11 seasons. His last season came with the Minnesota Vikings in 1984, when he was 35.

 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

College Football's Most Important Offers of the Week

The rise of Texas head coach Charlie Strong began on the recruiting trail, dating back to his days as a hotshot assistant at Florida and South Carolina. 

Even when he was at Louisville, Strong recruited the state of Florida—and specifically the talent-laden portions of Dade and Broward counties in South Florida—with tremendous success.

Last week, the new Longhorns boss and his staff hit the South Florida area with a specific purpose.

Texas offered eight 2015 defensive backs from the area: 4-star safety and FSU commit Calvin Brewton, 4-star safety and Alabama pledge Shawn Burgess-Becker, 3-star corner and Ohio State commit Carlton Davis, 4-star corner Davante Davis, 3-star corner Ronnie Hoggins, 3-star corner Sheldrick Redwine, 4-star athlete Tim Irvin and 4-star safety and Miami commit Jaquan Johnson.

Hoggins—who leads the nation with 13 interceptions through five games—told Ryan Bartow of 247Sports (subscription required) that Texas has emerged as the new leader for his services.

“I was shocked,” Hoggins told Bartow. “That’s big-time football. Me growing up watching them on TV. I love the way they produce defensive backs. They’ve been bringing out DBs out of their school.”

Per Ourlads, the Longhorns have two seniors and a junior starting in their secondary this year.

Given their aggressiveness at finding defensive playmakers on the back end, the shift in their approach is a telling indicator of one of the Longhorns’ most pressing needs heading down the stretch of the 2015 cycle.

 

2016 Florida WR in Demand

While senior defensive backs in the Sunshine State were among the week’s most coveted prospects, one standout junior pass-catcher from Florida earned five new offers.

Three-star receiver Tre Nixon was offered by GeorgiaIllinoisMichigan StateMissouri and Ohio State.

The 6’0”, 160-pound receiver caught 30 passes for 636 yards and six touchdowns as a sophomore.

Given the rash of recent interest in Nixon, expect more offers to keep coming in for one of the top juniors in the Sunshine State.

 

Clemson, South Carolina Battle for Fast-Rising 2016 OL

At the beginning of last week, Javon Kinlaw was an unranked offensive lineman with one offer from home-state power South Carolina.

Now, as Barton Simmons of 247Sports notes, he’s been rated as a 4-star and the No. 18 player overall in the 2016 class.

According to ESPN’s Gerry Hamilton, Clemson has jumped into the race to land the 6’7”, 285-pound prospect with immense upside.

While the two Palmetto State powers represent Kinlaw’s only official offers, it’s only a matter of time before he blows up on the national scene.

 

No. 1 Doing Work on Recruiting Trail 

With the Magnolia State being the current epicenter of the college football universe, it’s no surprise that Dan Mullen and the No. 1 Mississippi State Bulldogs would hit the recruiting trail aggressively during their bye week.

The Bulldogs offered a pair of underclassmen classified as athletes.

Texas 4-star junior standout Christian Wallace earned a Bulldogs offer, per Brian Perroni of 247Sports.

Meanwhile, the Bulldogs also dipped into Tennessee to offer 2017 4-star two-way star Maleik Gray, according to Woody Wommack of Rivals. Gray also picked up an offer from LSU, per Simmons.

Additionally, the Bulldogs offered 2016 4-star corner Donte Vaughn, according to Chris Smith of Vandy247.

With the momentum riding high from the Bulldogs' fast start to the 2014 season, the surge of interest from top-flight recruits is sure to increase.

 

Best of the Rest

Notre Dame is the newest offer for 2015 4-star safety Rashad Roundtree. The Irish also offered 2015 3-star receiver Lawrence Cager.

According to Rusty Mansell of Dawgs247 (subscription required), Georgia offered 3-star safety DreGreenlaw—who recently decommitted from Arkansas State.

Texas also offered 2015 4-star tight end Devonaire Clarington.

Ohio State offered 2015 3-star corner and current Clemson pledge Juwaun Briscoe. Urban Meyer and his staff also tendered 3-star running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn, according to Bill Kurelic of Bucknuts. Per Luke Stampini of GatorBait, Florida also offered Briscoe.

According to Scout’s Corey Bender, Michigan State offered 2015 5-star corner Tarvarus McFadden. The Spartans also offered 2015 3-star receiver Isaiah Renfro, per Adam Gorney of Rivals.

LSU has offered 4-star JUCO defensive end and South Carolina commit Marquavius Lewis, per Sonny Shipp of 247Sports.

Alabama offered 2016 4-star defensive end Justin Madubuike.

South Carolina is the newest offer for 2016 3-star offensive lineman Parker Boudreaux. The Gamecocks also offered 2016 running back Tyrek Tisdale, per Bender.

Baylor is the latest offer for the newest 5-star recruit in the 2016 class in corner Saivion Smith.

2016 4-star linebacker and USC pledge Daelin Hayes picked up offers from LSU, Arizona State and Boston College.

USC offered 2016 4-star safety C.J. Pollard, per Blair Angulo of Rivals.

Per ESPN’s Tom VanHaaren, Maryland is the latest school to offer 2016 4-star defensive end Terrell Hall. The Terps joined Virginia Tech as the newest schools to offer 2016 4-star receiver Brad Hawkins, according to Bartow.

2016 defensive back Nigel Knott received an offer from Tennessee, per Paul Jones of 247Sports.

2016 4-star corner Nygel Edmonds picked up an offer from Penn State, per Chris Smith of 247Sports.

Per King High School (Detroit) assistant coach Terel Patrick, Michigan and Wisconsin are the latest offers for

2016 4-star receiver Donnie Corley.

TCU offered 2016 3-star receiver Theo Howard, per Scout’s Brandon Huffman.

LSU offered 2014 4-star offensive lineman Devery Hamilton, per Adam Friedman of Rivals.

2017 4-star athlete Jamyest Williams picked up offers from Wisconsin and Illinois.

Per ESPN’s Derek Tyson, 2017 4-star corner Shaun Wade earned offers from Ole Miss and Wisconsin.

 

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

Follow @SanjayKirpalani

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Updated College Football All-American Team Projections for Post Week 8

For all of the anticipation and talk surrounding college football, the season certainly passes quickly.

Saturday’s thrilling action officially marked the midway point of the 2014 season. There are only seven regular-season weeks left in the season, meaning we’ve had plenty of opportunities to see which players have lived up to their hype, which players have exceeded it and which players are disappointments. Many outlets, like SI.com, have released their midseason All-America teams. 

It’s the perfect time to project which players will be All-Americans when the season ends. These projections are based on performances to date, their statistical efforts and overall importance to their teams.

*Stats from ESPN.com, Sports-Reference.com and individual team sites were used in comprising this article.

Begin Slideshow

NCAA Football Rankings 2014: Week 9 Standings and Analysis for Latest Polls

It may seem like the national picture changes every single week in college football, but we enter Week 9 with four SEC teams and the defending champions in the Top Five.

Sure, there may be some new SEC faces from years past, but the conference is still dominating the national discussion for the time being. Florida State was an offensive pass interference call away from losing its first game since 2012 against Notre Dame, but the Seminoles remain smack in the middle of the College Football Playoff discussion after another win.

Elsewhere, Oregon and Michigan State are still part of the national picture after dominant wins, while Baylor took a tumble after an upset loss to West Virginia. Here is a look at the polls heading into Week 9 (the Bleacher Report poll can be found here) before we delve into some expert analysis on the new rankings.

As we mentioned, the SEC is dominating the polls. In fact, it is only the SEC West that has really made its presence felt on the top of the polls, as the SEC East is not exactly anything to write home about outside of Georgia.

Ralph D. Russo of The Associated Press put the SEC’s accomplishment into perspective, while Stewart Mandel of Fox Sports praised some earlier victories from the SEC representatives in light of the Week 8 results:

One person who did not have a completely SEC-dominant top four was ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit, who gave the Oregon Ducks some love after their blowout win over archrival Washington:

Speaking of Oregon, the Week 9 coaches poll brought a bit of controversy because Michigan State was ranked higher than the Ducks yet again. Remember, Oregon beat Michigan State by multiple scores earlier in the season, but that apparently doesn’t matter much in the eyes of the coaches. 

Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports, Tom Fornelli of CBS Sports and Adam Rittenberg of ESPN certainly didn’t seem to agree with the decision to put Oregon behind the Spartans:

While much of the focus was on the placement of Michigan State in relation to Oregon, Mandel took the time to note that the Spartans may not deserve to be higher than TCU either:

While the SEC has a stranglehold on the top of the polls and the difference between Michigan State and Oregon was the cause of some angst, the headline of Week 8’s slate of games was the showdown between Notre Dame and Florida State.

SportsCenter gave fans a chance to relive the excitement and also noted that losing to highly ranked teams has become an old habit for the Fighting Irish:

While Notre Dame proved that it belonged among the national discussion by almost pulling off the upset on the road at Florida State, much of the focus in the aftermath was on the offensive pass interference call that took what would have been Notre Dame’s game-winning touchdown off the board. However, Mike Lupica had a rather insightful quote regarding that whistle, via ESPN Radio:

Elsewhere in the polls, Baylor took a tumble after losing at West Virginia. ESPN Stats & Info shared what that meant in terms of the College Football Playoff picture, while John McClain of the Houston Chronicle seemed appreciative of how far the Bears have come:

Another team that came a long way over the past few years but lost on Saturday was Stanford. While the Cardinal may be headed in the wrong direction, Feldman shared an impressive tidbit:

Stanford and Baylor will need some more formidable years to be considered national powerhouses, but two traditional bluebloods did impress on Saturday. College GameDay, Cecil Hurt of the Tuscaloosa News and Eleven Warriors shared the fallout from Alabama’s and Ohio State’s perspective:

We aren’t even to November yet, and there are a large number of teams that have legitimate cases for the postseason.

Chaos has been the name of the game in college football for years with the BCS, and that is not likely to change just because four teams get into a playoff instead of two. In fact, we are guaranteed to have a playoff that features at least one team with a loss, and that is likely to be more because an undefeated Marshall probably will not have the resume to make the field.

That means the season isn’t over for teams with a loss like Michigan State, Alabama, Oregon, Ohio State, Baylor, Auburn, TCU, Georgia and Notre Dame. If nothing else, we are well on our way to some interesting arguments down the stretch of the season. 

Best of luck to the committee.

 

Follow me on Twitter:

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

College Football Odds: Opening Week 9 Betting Lines and Totals

No. 1 Mississippi State will be gunning for its 10th straight win straight up when it takes on the Kentucky Wildcats this weekend as early 13-point favorites on the college football betting lines.

Following a bye in Week 8, the undefeated Bulldogs face their first challenge since ascending to the top of the AP Top 25 poll with a convincing 38-23 win over Auburn as 2.5-point underdogs.

The win was the Bulldogs' third straight against Top 10 schools, as they posted a 34-29 upset win over LSU before dominating Texas A&M by a 48-31 score as three-point favorites.

The Wildcats are coming off a 41-3 loss to LSU as 11.5-point underdogs and will be desperate for a win to stay in contention in the SEC East. Kentucky is 5-0 SU and 4-1 against the spread in its last five games at home, but the Wildcats have had little success against the Bulldogs, going 1-4 SU and ATS in their last five home meetings.

No. 3 Ole Miss will also be looking to continue its winning ways when it travels to the bayou to face No. 24 LSU as three-point road favorites at sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark.

The Rebels are riding an eight-game winning streak, SU and ATS, but have had mixed results against the Tigers, posting a 1-5 record SU in their last six trips to LSU but covering in their last five. LSU is 12-1 SU in its last 13 home dates, but a mediocre 7-6 ATS.

Riding high after handing No. 21 Texas A&M a crushing 59-0 loss last week, No. 4 Alabama opened as strong 15.5-point road favorites over Tennessee.

While the Crimson Tide looked like College Football Playoff contenders in their win over the Aggies, they have been a weak bet, going just 3-8 ATS in their last 11, with the UNDER going 0-3 in their last three games.

Tennessee has lost four of its last five games heading into Saturday night’s Tide vs. Volunteers betting matchup at Neyland Stadium and is winless SU and ATS in its last five against Alabama.

In other college football betting action, No. 5 Auburn returns to action, opening as 14-point favorites against South Carolina at sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark. No. 8 Michigan State opened as 15.5-point favorites over the rival Michigan Wolverines, while No. 23 Marshall, looking to move to 8-0 SU on the season, opened as a 26.5-point favorite over Florida Atlantic.

Lines courtesy of Odds Shark.

College Football OddsHome Line Arkansas State at Louisiana-Lafayette 3   Connecticut at East Carolina -24   Miami at Virginia Tech -2   South Florida at Cincinnati -10   Troy at South Alabama -12   BYU at Boise State -6.5   Oregon at California 16   Memphis at Southern Methodist 24   Rutgers at Nebraska -15   Texas at Kansas State -13   UAB at Arkansas -21   Maryland at Wisconsin -10   North Texas at Rice -13   Minnesota at Illinois 6.5   North Carolina at Virginia -7.5   San Jose State at Navy -10   Northern Illinois at Eastern Michigan 20.5   Ohio at Western Michigan -8   Ga Southern at Georgia State 15   Massachusetts at Toledo -17.5   Akron at Ball State 1   UCLA at Colorado 12.5   Kent State at Miami (Ohio) -4.5   Michigan at Michigan State -15.5   Mississippi State at Kentucky 13   Texas Tech at TCU -20   Georgia Tech at Pittsburgh -4   Oregon State at Stanford -13.5   Central Michigan at Buffalo 1.5   Louisiana Tech at Southern Miss 13   West Virginia at Oklahoma State -4   Boston College at Wake Forest 12   Florida Atlantic at Marshall -26.5   Vanderbilt at Missouri -24   Old Dominion at Western Kentucky -11.5   UNLV at Utah State OFF   Temple at Central Florida -11   Arizona at Washington State 4   Texas State at Louisiana-Monroe -2   Syracuse at Clemson -16.5   Wyoming at Colorado State -21.5   Texas El Paso at UTSA -9.5   Mississippi at LSU 3   Alabama at Tennessee 15.5   South Carolina at Auburn -14   Ohio State at Penn State 11.5   Southern Cal at Utah PK   Arizona State at Washington OFF   Nevada at Hawaii 4  

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

College Football Picks Week 9: Predictions and Odds for Top 25 Schedule

As top college football teams continue to lose, the race for spots in the College Football Playoff remains wide open.

Notre Dame and Baylor suffered their first losses of the season in Week 8, which leaves just four undefeated teams in all of FBS. Marshall remains an outside contender for a playoff spot, but Mississippi State, Florida State and Ole Miss are still on top of the rankings.

Every week becomes more important as squads jockey for position and want to continue to prove themselves. Even without too many high-profile matchups in Week 9, anything can happen during the weekend.

Here is a look at predictions for each game and a breakdown of the top battles to watch. 

 

Top Games

No. 3 Ole Miss vs. No. 23 LSU

Few expected Ole Miss to still be undefeated at this point of the season, but the Rebels moved to 7-0 on the season thanks to a defense that has been one of the best in the country.

The defense currently ranks first in the nation with just 10.6 points per game allowed, never giving up more than 20 points in any game. ESPN's Damien Woody is a big fan of the unit:

This could cause some serious problems for an LSU offense that has struggled against weaker opponents throughout the year. The rushing attack helped the Tigers put up 41 against Kentucky, but quarterback Anthony Jennings has not completed more than 50 percent of his passes in any of the last five games.

Ole Miss is capable of shutting down the run with a great front seven, which could force Jennings to make plays, and he simply has not shown the ability to pull that off.

Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace has his faults as well, but he has limited his interceptions lately and should be able to do enough to earn an easy win, even on the road.

 

No. 19 Utah vs. No. 22 USC

Utah has now played in three straight close games but came out victorious in the last two, both on the road. The Utes defeated UCLA by two points earlier in the month and then knocked off Oregon State in double overtime last week.

The squad now returns home against USC. Running back Devontae Booker and the rest of the Utah offense will try to keep up the strong play.

Unfortunately, things will only get tougher, as the Trojans are coming off an impressive game against Colorado. Quarterback Cody Kessler threw seven touchdown passes in a 56-28 win, showing what the offense can do when it is at its best.

Head coach Steve Sarkisian noted his thoughts on the performance of his quarterback in the press conference after the game:

We challenged him. We want more explosive plays in our offense. We want to throw the ball down the field more and to trust our guys that they'll go make plays. We did that from the very beginning. They weren't all completions, but it became an aspect of our team and our game that created bigger plays.

This vertical passing game to Nelson Agholor, JuJu Smith and others will be extremely difficult to stop for anyone when Kessler is hitting his targets like he was Saturday. Utah could have its hands full in the secondary and could be in danger of allowing a number of explosive plays.

With the way both teams can move the ball, this is likely to be a high-scoring battle. However, USC should find a way to win this one.

 

No. 25 West Virginia vs. Oklahoma State

These two teams had opposite fortunes Saturday.

Oklahoma State came into the day considered a top contender in the Big 12, but the squad was embarrassed by TCU in a 42-9 loss.

West Virginia's day went much better, as the Mountaineers upset Baylor 41-27 thanks to 322 passing yards and three touchdowns from Clint Trickett. The squad has two losses on the year, but they came in hard-fought games against Alabama and Oklahoma. It now appears this is a good team capable of beating anyone in the country.

While these squads seem to be headed in opposite directions, Oklahoma State has a chance to prove the latest loss was just a fluke with a better effort against West Virginia. The Cowboys will be at home and will now be the squad trying to pull off the upset, and the talent is there to get the win.

However, TCU exposed this defense, which means it could be another big day for Trickett and wide receiver Kevin White. These two will link up a bunch of times, and it will led to another big win for the Mountaineers.

 

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

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Tennessee Volunteers vs. Alabama Crimson Tide Complete Game Preview

When fourth-ranked Alabama travels to Neyland Stadium to take on the Tennessee Volunteers next Saturday night, it's shaping up to be a battle of two teams heading in drastically different directions.

Following a 59-0 dismantling of Texas A&M, the Crimson Tide are living up to their preseason billing as one of the nation's most dominant teams after taking a few weeks (and a loss) to get their sea legs.

The Vols played admirably against tough opponents such as Oklahoma and Georgia earlier this season. But in their past two SEC games, they lost 10-9 at home against Florida and were blown out at No. 3 Ole Miss.

Their offense is in shambles, and their defensive prowess is wasted.

Now, UT will play its biggest rival in a series that recently hasn't been much of a rivalry. A game that appeared to have promise for an upset not so long ago looks far-fetched now.

In a series of streaks, the Tide have won seven consecutive. The past four margins have been by 31, 31, 31 and 35 points. It may not be much different Saturday.

Let's take a look at everything you need to know about the famed "Third Saturday in October," which again will be played on the fourth Saturday of the month this year.

 

Date: Saturday, Oct. 25

Time: 7:30 ET

Place: Neyland Stadium, Knoxville, Tennessee

TV: ESPN2

Radio: Vol Network, Alabama Crimson Tide Sports Network, Sirius/XM 84

Spread: Alabama by 15.5 points, according to Oddsshark.com.

Begin Slideshow

Pages