NCAA Football News

Rapid-Fire Predictions for College Football's Biggest Games in Week 6

Week 6 has the look of yet another exciting slate of games for college football fans. The questions is, which teams stand the best chance at victory?

And which players are most likely to shine?

Find out in the above video as Bleacher Report College Football Analysts Michael Felder, Adam Kramer and Barrett Sallee go in-depth on Week 6 and its possible outcomes. 

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Ranking the Best ACC Matchups of Week 6

The sixth week of ACC play offers us a slate of very competitive games. 

A vast majority of the contests features teams with relatively even squads. With some of the programs below the .500 mark, this week could be vital in terms of striving toward an eventual bowl berth. 

The headliner game of this weekend features two teams hailing from the same state. There will be a lot of talent (and speed) on the field in Tallahassee, Florida, this upcoming Saturday. 

Without any further delay, here's a look at the best Week 6 ACC matchups. 



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Bowl Projections 2015: Complete Playoff Predictions and More Before Week 6

And you thought the end of the BCS was going to make everything clearer in college football.

The first year of the College Football Playoff was filled with controversy after TCU and Baylor were left on the outside looking in, and this season is already shaping up to create more hand-wringing and difficult decisions for the selection committee.

The SEC and Pac-12 are loaded with talented teams, but they are also gradually beating each other up to the point where everyone will likely have at least one loss by season’s end in those two leagues. There are three ranked squads in the Big Ten not named Ohio State and Michigan (and one of them is undefeated Northwestern!), and the Big 12 once again has TCU and Baylor near the top of the polls.

Only four teams can get into the playoffs, although there appear to be many deserving candidates in the early going. Fortunately, there is plenty of football remaining for the best to separate themselves.

With that in mind, here is a look at a playoff projection heading into Week 6 of the 2015 campaign.


Playoff Projections

Ohio State has looked far from dominant this season, and there is plenty of reason for concern outside of the close victories. The Buckeyes already lost two wide receivers for the season to injury (Noah Brown and Corey Smith), and the depth in the secondary is paper-thin with an injury to Cam Burrows and Damon Webb’s suspension.

Still, the defending champs are loaded with talent, Ezekiel Elliott is carrying the team on his back and the Michigan State showdown is at home. It would be far too premature to jump off this team’s bandwagon like so many did last year after it lost to Virginia Tech. The Buckeyes are not playing their best football, but an undefeated defending champion is not getting left out of the playoffs.

Just ask last season’s Florida State squad.

Baylor will get in from the Big 12 because of TCU’s defensive injuries. The Horned Frogs have already lost six players for the season, and that will eventually lead to a loss when the Bears’ high-powered offense comes to town.

Baylor is averaging a ridiculous 63.8 points a game this season and will overwhelm a TCU defense that finally found its footing Saturday against Texas after two straight lackluster performances.

Utah will represent the Pac-12 and get a shot at the defending champions in the semifinals. The early-season win over Michigan continues to look better as the Wolverines climb the rankings under Jim Harbaugh, and games against Arizona State, California and UCLA are all at home. 

A trip to USC will be tricky, and the Utes could even lose, but they will bounce back to win the Pac-12 title and earn a playoff nod for surviving the difficult conference.

Speaking of surviving difficult conferences, Alabama will once again make the playoffs as the eventual SEC champion. The Crimson Tide eviscerated previously undefeated Georgia Saturday and looked much improved from the group that lost to Ole Miss. LSU and dangerous Leonard Fournette come to Alabama, and the trip to Texas A&M will not be a problem because the Aggies cannot stop the run. 

In fact, Texas A&M is 86th in the nation in rushing yards allowed per game and won’t be able to contain bowling ball Derrick Henry in that head-to-head showdown. The Crimson Tide will get into the playoffs with a single loss.


Week 6 Game to Watch with Playoff Implications: No. 23 California at No. 5 Utah

While Utah has drawn most of the headlines from the Pac-12 this season with a victory over Michigan and a stunning 62-20 beatdown of Oregon, California is quietly undefeated behind the unstoppable right arm of quarterback Jared Goff.

The Golden Bears have victories over Texas, Washington and Washington State, but Saturday’s showdown with Utah is their first chance to make a profound national statement. The problem for Goff and company is that means dealing with the Utes’ stout defense that held the uptempo Ducks to a mere 20 points on the road, with seven of them coming in garbage time.

Utah is yet to allow more than 24 points in a single game, and the aggressive group led the nation with 55 sacks in 2014. The defense returned six starters in the front seven coming into the 2015 campaign and will look to make life difficult on Goff in the pocket.

Coach Kyle Whittingham suggested that is the plan, per Connor Letourneau of the San Francisco Chronicle: “If you just let [Goff] sit back there and let him have time to go through his read progression, he’s going to complete the ball almost every time.” 

Dane Brugler of CBS Sports pointed to that defense and Goff as the most intriguing matchup of the contest:

In theory, blitzing Goff seems to be the right answer, but ESPN Stats & Information (via Ivan Maisel of pointed out the quarterback has thrown 16 touchdowns and zero interceptions the past two seasons when blitzed.

Goff exploits defenses with quick-hitting passes, and his accuracy and rapid release allow him to drive the Golden Bears down the field on a consistent basis. However, he also boasts a strong enough arm to beat defenders over the top for big plays when they show press coverage and bite on short routes. 

He has even earned comparisons to another famous California quarterback, as ESPN College Football highlighted:

In all, Goff has 1,630 passing yards and 15 touchdown throws in five games, and his team is yet to score less than 30 points in a single contest.

Rather than flat-out stopping the star quarterback, Utah will attempt to keep him on the sidelines with a strong rushing attack and clock control.

Devontae Booker has 443 rushing yards and four touchdowns in four games, while quarterback Travis Wilson tallied 100 rushing yards and a score on the ground against Oregon and also threw four touchdowns for good measure.

California is a middling 72nd in the country in yards allowed per game and gave up 44 points to a Texas offense that looked lost a number of times this season. Goff is a brilliant playmaker and could be the No. 1 pick in the next NFL draft, but even he won’t be enough Saturday as Utah dictates the tempo on the ground against a vulnerable California defense. 

Prediction: Utah 31, California 23

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Texas Football: 5 Ways the Longhorns Must Improve in 2015

Improvement won't be easy for the Texas Longhorns in 2015.

Just five games into the season, Charlie Strong's team has been through the full gamut of anguish. It started off with a blowout at Notre Dame, continued through consecutive home losses and then hit a new low in a 50-7 loss at TCU.

And those are just the on-field issues.

Behind the scenes, there's been a major power struggle between Strong's hand-picked freshmen and the upperclassmen he inherited from Mack Brown. The timing couldn't be worse, as the Longhorns have to bounce back from all of this for the Red River Shootout against No. 9 Oklahoma, which should be treated as a de facto bowl game for the 1-4 Horns.

No matter what happens in that game, the key areas of improvement are painfully obvious. On the field, the Longhorns must at least do a better job both protecting their quarterback and getting after the opposition's. Nothing else matters if these two things can't be accomplished.

As for the bigger picture, Strong needs to focus on finding leaders among the young players who will determine the future of the program.

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Cavin Ridley Reveals New Top 3: Which Team Is Best Fit for 4-Star WR?

A trio of SEC powers will battle it out in the race to land dynamic 4-star wide receiver Cavin Ridley.

According to 247Sports' Luke Stampini, Ridley has a new top three that includes Alabama, Auburn and Tennessee.

“I have a top three and it just will be my top three that get official visits,” Ridley told Stampini. “It will be Tennessee, Alabama and Auburn. It will be after the college season is over, so I can talk to coaches and see how things are at the campus. Just to get a better feel of everything before I go.”

Alabama, where his brother Calvin is currently starring as a freshman wide receiver, has long been considered the favorite for the younger Ridley.

However, Ridley insists that all three schools are even heading into his visits.

Which school represents the best fit for Ridley at the next level? As he told Stampini, early playing time will be one of the biggest factors in his decision.

All three schools certainly have their strong points.

With the Tide, his brother’s early success is proof that the Tide will put their best playmakers on the field early without hesitation.

Alabama has only one receiver—3-star in-state standout T.J. Simmons—committed in its 2016 class. The Tide’s staff has made it clear that he’s one of its top priorities remaining in the 2016 cycle.

The Tigers are newcomers to the race for the nation’s No. 30-ranked wide receiver and No. 172-ranked player overall in the 2016 cycle.

His bond with ace recruiter and current Tigers secondary coach Travaris Robinson—himself a Miami native—and Auburn’s need at the receiver position are factors likely to give the Tigers a chance to win Ridley over in the end.

He’s already scheduled a trip to the Plains for the Iron Bowl clash on Nov. 28.

However, given Auburn’s struggles on offense this year—particularly in the passing game—the Tigers may have to convince him that they will return to being a potent attack in the near future.

Like Auburn, Tennessee has had similar struggles finding success through the air this season.

Still, the Vols and head coach Butch Jones have recruited well enough in recent years to give prospects such as Ridley the belief that the program is close to turning the corner on offense and as a whole.

While all three schools present Ridley with a great opportunity, Alabama appears to be the program that gives Ridley the best chance to make plays in a productive offense early in his career.


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

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College Football 2015 Week 6: Locks of the Week

Week 6 of the college football season is officially upon us.

Which underdogs will cover the spread? Which favorites will prove Las Vegas wrong and blow out their opponents?

Watch as Bleacher Report College Football Analyst Adam Kramer breaks down his Locks of the Week in the video above.

Point spreads courtesy of Odds Shark.

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Clemson's Defense, Not Offense, Holds the Key to Potential Playoff Run

The hype surrounding Clemson during the preseason seemed to be fully concentrated on the arm of sophomore quarterback Deshaun Watson.

But as the Tigers go into Week 6 with a No. 6 ranking and a 4-0 record, the growing playoff buzz is more focused on the headset of coordinator Brent Venables and the massive orange wave of Clemson's stingy defense.

As Brandon Rink of the Independent Mail notes, Clemson is now projected to make the College Football Playoff by media members at, and SB Nation.

Bleacher Report's Ed Feng put Clemson in the final four in his playoff predictions this week. The analyst trio of Barrett Sallee, Adam Kramer and Michael Felder did as well.

This surge in playoff predictions for the Tigers comes after their 24-22 victory over what was then a higher-ranked Notre Dame team in Death Valley.

Watson and the offense weren't the stars of that victory by any stretch. The Notre Dame game was won by the Clemson defense.

Clemson held Notre Dame to its worst offensive performance of 2015 in the rain-soaked contest. Star players such as Irish running back C.J. Prosise and wide receiver Will Fuller were completely neutralized by the Tigers.

Fuller's quiet night against Clemson was a major point of emphasis against Notre Dame, as cornerback Mackensie Alexander dominated his matchup with one of the nation's best wide receivers.

"I felt like my D-coordinator was going to sleep at night worried about [Fuller's] speed," Alexander said, per David M. Hale of "I was like, 'You recruited one of the best.' I said, 'Coach, let me handle my business.' I proved it. And I'm going to keep proving it."

Another player who took over his one-on-one battle with a Notre Dame star was defensive end Shaq Lawson, who was lined up against potential NFL first-round offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley.

Lawson recorded 3.5 tackles for loss against the Irish, and Stanley was forced to use some blatant holding just to slow the rush end down.

So when Notre Dame tried a two-point conversion late in the fourth quarter, the Irish ran away from Lawson.

He noticed.

"Oh yeah," Lawson said, per Hale. "In the first half, I was dominating, so I feel like they did that."

Lawson's performance was just a part of what Clemson's front seven did for the majority of the game against a Notre Dame offense that was one of the best in the country. 

The Tigers had nine tackles for loss against Notre Dame, giving them 37 through four games and the third-best average in all of college football.

It's quite a remarkable stat for a front seven that lost almost all of its starters from last year, including All-ACC talents Vic Beasley and Grady Jarrett.

"Everyone swore we were going to have a huge drop-off (on defense) and that we were going to suck," linebacker Ben Boulware said, per Gene Sapakoff of the Post and Courier

The Tigers defense is faring much better than that right now—and staying that way is going to keep Clemson in the thick of the playoff race.

In the last two games, Clemson allowed a paltry 19 yards on 28 carries against Louisville and 111 yards on 32 carries against Notre Dame. Each program has rushed for more than 200 yards in three separate games this season.

That dominance against the run will be key this weekend against Georgia Tech, a potential trap game for Clemson.

The Yellow Jackets have lost three straight games and haven't been able to find their usual efficiency in Paul Johnson's tricky triple-option offense.

Georgia Tech will want to make a statement and hand Clemson a letdown loss, especially after it ran for 251 yards in a 28-6 victory last season over the Tigers in Atlanta.

Safety Jayron Kearse spoke about the challenge ahead, per Brad Senkiw of the Independent Mail:

Anybody running that offense it’s always difficult because everybody has got to play assignment football ... you can think somebody has the ball and the quarterback can be turning up the field, running for 40 yards. It’s always difficult playing against those guys because we have to be disciplined on the front end and the back end.

The Yellow Jackets will be the first in a string of opponents that will test the strength of this Clemson defense on the ground.

After Georgia Tech, the Tigers face another run-heavy test at home against Boston College. The week after that, Clemson travels to a Miami team that has one of the nation's best big-play backs in Joseph Yearby.

Then it's off to NC State, which has the second-most rushing touchdowns in the FBS this season. Florida State, Clemson's biggest competition in the Atlantic Division, is most efficient on the ground with star running back Dalvin Cook.

Clemson may have passed its toughest test of the season by holding on to a win against Notre Dame, but the Tigers know improvement is needed heading into a stretch of ACC challenges.

They know they can't always survive fourth quarters like they had against Notre Dame, when the offense fizzled and the defense surrendered 225 yards and 19 points. If it hadn't been for the stop on the two-point conversion, the matchup was destined for overtime.

"Just some disappointing things that allowed them to creep back into the game," Venables said, per the Greenville News. "But [it's] an awesome opportunity to teach our guys and coach them up after a win ... There's plenty to correct in the first three quarters as well.

"[The Irish] are a good football team and showed us some things we have to get better at."

If Venables can do just that with his impressive group of new starters as the offense continues to find its rhythm, then the Tigers will continue to surprise the country all the way to the College Football Playoff.


Unless otherwise noted, statistics courtesy of

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

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Top Contenders for College Football Coach of the Year

Florida and Michigan are ranked. 

This statement, by itself without any further explanation, seems hardly newsworthy. Why shouldn't Florida and Michigan be ranked? They're two of college football's best blue-blood programs. When you add in the context of what each has been through the last few years, though, that statement gets more impressive. Florida and Michigan were massive underachievers under Will Muschamp and Brady Hoke, respectively—so much so that both were let go last year. 

How things have changed for the better. First-year coaches Jim McElwain and Jim Harbaugh have led some miraculous early-season turnarounds. Combined, Florida and Michigan are 9-1—the Wolverines lost in Week 1 to Utah, which is now a top-10 team in both major polls—and much further ahead than many pundits would have predicted. 

But McElwain and Harbaugh are just two of the coaches who have been outstanding through the first five weeks of the 2015 season. Nearly a dozen coaches could lay claim to being the best in college football. Seeing as there are multiple Coach of the Year awards, it's likely more than one of them will be recognized in December. 

We've broken down these candidates into categories. Some stand on their own, while others are grouped into similar situations. Records are obviously a primary criteria, but so are other circumstances, like injuries, depth issues and major wins. 


Dabo Swinney, Clemson: Give The Man Some Respect

Clemsoning? It's dead, provided the Tigers don't lay an egg against Georgia Tech, and head coach Dabo Swinney is the man who Dexter'd it. 

It's beyond time for Swinney to get the credit he rightfully deserves for being one of the top coaches in college football. He's more than earned it after beating some of the biggest names the sport has to offer. As Dan Wolken of USA Today wrote after Clemson's victory over Notre Dame in Week 5, "Sure enough, among Clemson’s victims the last four years are Auburn, LSU, Georgia, Ohio State, Oklahoma and now Notre Dame. There is no longer any doubt that Clemson can win games on the biggest stages against the best opponents."

Swinney now has the Tigers in clear position to make a playoff run, the one true thing missing from his resume. But it's not just that Swinney has put Clemson in this position, it's how he's done it. He's recruited extremely well, hired fantastic assistants—former offensive coordinator Chad Morris and defensive coordinator Brent Venables are the two biggest—and shown the ability to win in a variety of different ways. Yes, Clemson still has a high-powered offense, but the Tigers' completely rebuilt defensive line just dominated Notre Dame in the trenches. 

In short, Swinney has done everything expected of an elite coach. 2015 could be the year he's recognized for that. 


Justin Fuente, Memphis: The Up-and-Comer

Here's a quick poll: What are the odds Justin Fuente is still the coach of Memphis in three months? If the Tigers can repeat last year's success (10-3), Fuente will have officially turned one of the lowliest programs in college football from the past several years into a consistent winner. 

The pinnacle of Fuente's time in Memphis, however long or short it is, will be in two weeks. That's when the Tigers host Ole Miss. If Memphis can somehow knock off the Rebels, it doesn't just become the leading Group of 5 team to make a New Year's Six bowl. It becomes a legitimate playoff crasher. 

Win or lose against Ole Miss, though, Fuente is on his way to having his name on every short list for a major job opening at season's end. 


The First-Years

Jim Harbaugh, Michigan

Harbaugh is known for quick turnarounds. He's done all his best work as a head coach, including taking Stanford to the Orange Bowl and the San Francisco 49ers to the Super Bowl, in a four-year period or less. Imagine what he'll do with Michigan. 

The Wolverines are 4-1. Granted, their best win is against BYU, but they've taken care of business in a way that never happened under Hoke. In their four wins, Michigan has outscored opponents 122-14. And Michigan's only loss was by one touchdown to perhaps the best team in the Pac-12. The offense has found a ground game and the defensive is playing lights out. 

Things get more difficult in the next two weeks against Northwestern—more on the guy coaching the Wildcats below—and Michigan State. The odds of the Wolverines winning the Big Ten East division, or anything more, in Year 1 of the Harbaugh era still feels like a longshot, but Harbaugh is finally tapping into the potential that's been sitting there in Ann Arbor. 


Tom Herman, Houston

Herman, one of the primary engineers behind Ohio State's national championship run in 2014, is already doing great as the head coach at Houston. (Meanwhile, the Buckeyes' offense looks lost, which probably isn't a coincidence.) 

The Cougars are one of four undefeated teams in the American Athletic Conference. As far as Group of 5 conferences go, the AAC is tops and could very well represent the "lower" grouping of FBS conferences in one of the six major bowls this year. 

Former head coach Tony Levine might not have been the man to get things done at Houston, but he didn't leave the program dry, either. Houston has one of the top offenses in the AAC and quarterback Greg Ward Jr. leads the conference in total offense (382.5 yards per game). He's a perfect fit for Herman's offense. Additionally, Herman is putting his own stamp on the recruiting trail, securing the verbal commitment of 5-star defensive tackle Ed Oliver

The month of November will be crucial for the AAC, as Houston, Memphis and Navy all play one another. If the Cougars come out as AAC champs from that late-season slate, Herman will have a legit case to be the coach of the year in college football. 


Jim McElwain, Florida

What's Florida now? The SEC East favorite? The SEC favorite? There's a lot of season left, but how many people honestly expected the Gators to be 5-0 and capable of beating Ole Miss 38-10? For that matter, did McElwain expect it?

Who knows, but McElwain is focused on the present and only the present. 

Depth along the offensive line is still a major concern. It didn't always show up on the stat sheet, but the Gators did get beat up by Ole Miss defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche. That'll continue to be an issue moving forward. There are only so many bodies Florida has up front. But if McElwain can coach up the offense like this, one would think Florida is capable of winning at least nine games. That would be a huge step forward until McElwain can get his true recruiting classes on campus. 


Big Ten West Surprises

Kirk Ferentz, Iowa

Who would have thought before the season that Ferentz would have a claim as the Big Ten's best coach? After all, Ferentz has mostly been on the receiving end of numerous jokes about his astronomically high buyout

Yet, here are the Hawkeyes at 5-0 with very, very few tests between now and the end of November. In fact, the biggest game on Iowa's schedule may be in two weeks against Northwestern.


But that's not Ferentz's fault. His job is to win games, regardless of whether his schedule is the toughest in the Big Ten, or the weakest. With the offense actually working this year—Iowa ranks third in the Big Ten with 32.2 points per game—Ferentz could win a lot of games. There simply aren't many offenses in the West division that can compete. 


Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern

Speaking of the Wildcats, could it be that Fitzgerald is finally leading this program to new heights never before imagined? You see, to understand what Northwestern could potentially accomplish this year, you have to consider two things. First, there's the historical significance. The last truly great year for the Wildcats was the 1995 Rose Bowl season, which Fitzgerald was a part of as a player. 

But, secondly, there's 2013. That was the year Northwestern was supposed to be the Big Ten dark horse. That was the year of the Oct. 5 home showdown with Ohio State.

And that was the year of the brutal letdown, when the wheels came suddenly flying off the Wildcats hype machine. A 40-20 loss to the Buckeyes was the first of seven straight losses. 2014 wasn't any better, as Northwestern again went 5-7. 

There were so many unfortunate injuries during that stretch, so many close calls and so much "m00n": 

If Fitzgerald really does have Northwestern on the up-and-up, it'll be because of the defense. The season-opening 16-6 win over Stanford looks far better now, and beating Duke in Week 3 is impressive in its own right. Even though, like Iowa, Northwestern doesn't have to face Michigan State or Ohio State in the regular season, its resume could be one of the best in the country. In the next two weeks, Northwestern goes to Michigan and then faces the Hawkeyes at home.

Going 2-0 or even 1-1 could put Northwestern in the West division driver's seat.  


Pac-12 Anarchists

Sonny Dykes, Cal

Remember when Cal went 1-11 in 2013? That seems so long ago now. Now in Year 3 with head coach Sonny Dykes, the Golden Bears are irrefutably on the right track at 5-0. The key now is finishing. Cal was 4-1 this time last year, but ended up losing six of its final seven games to miss out on bowl season. One more win this year would get Cal back into the postseason.

And what a game it will be: at Utah in the Pac-12 showdown of the year no one saw coming, complete with College GameDay coverage and everything. 

Dykes has also put his stamp on the program with quarterback Jared Goff. The prize recruit in Dykes' first recruiting class, Goff is now one of the top quarterbacks in college football and could be a first-round selection in the 2016 draft if he were to declare: 

For all the chatter about Stanford in the Pac-12 North, Cal could take advantage of a down year for Oregon and cement itself in the divisional title race. 


Kyle Whittingham Utah

Beat Oregon in Eugene 62-20 and you'll get coach of the year consideration. That's what Kyle Whittingham has earned. 

Whittingham has been with the Utes a long time. This is his 11th year. He's taken them to an undefeated season in 2008 and transitioned to life in the Pac-12 well. Despite some initial struggles in the new conference, 2015 could finally be the breakout year. Certainly, the win over the Ducks was among the single-most impressive, overwhelming victories of the season thus far. 

The Pac-12 South was figured to be dominated by Los Angeles, but if Utah can get to the Pac-12 championship game, Whittingham will have won the tougher division in the conference.  


Ben Kercheval is a lead writer for college football. All quotes cited unless obtained firsthand. All stats courtesy of All recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports

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Notre Dame Football: Odds Fighting Irish Run the Table Rest of the Season

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — In the aftermath of Notre Dame football’s gut-wrenching two-point loss to Clemson on Saturday, Irish head coach Brian Kelly met with his five captains and laid out the team’s new reality.

“You can’t lose another game,” Kelly said. “You’re on the clock now. Every single weekend you’re playing elimination football.”

The ultimate goal—the mission, as Kelly and players have called it—involves a playoff push and a championship chase. And while the week-to-week focus and one-day-at-a-time mentality still permeates from the Irish locker room, Notre Dame now deals with a razor-thin margin for error.

“We have to pay attention to every detail,” Kelly later said of the meeting with his captains. “It was really about the focus of this group is one week at a time. Each game is the biggest and most important game we play and really focusing on that.”

At 4-1 and with seven regular-season games remaining, just how likely is it for Notre Dame to run the table and finish 11-1?

When asked about the response Kelly needs to see from his team following the 24-22 loss to the Tigers, the head coach pointed to four key components in any game: a fast start, attention to detail, high effort and a strong finish. The Irish staggered out of the gates against Clemson and have struggled with their attention to detail at times this season, whether being beaten defensively by gadget plays or committing penalties, dropping passes and coughing up the football offensively.

Kelly said Tuesday that Notre Dame was down 14-0 before it could even get up “off the canvas.”

“Believe me, we look at everything when it comes to those things,” Kelly said. “We can't have slow starts. Our guys know what the mantra is. They know how important it is to get off to a fast start. If we get off to slow starts, we're going to be in trouble in every game that we play.”

Looking ahead at Notre Dame’s remaining schedule, the Irish host Navy and USC these next two weekends. Following a late October bye week, Notre Dame hits the road for matchups at Temple and Pittsburgh. The Irish return home in mid-November for Senior Day against Wake Forest before squaring off with Boston College at Fenway Park and concluding the regular season at Stanford.

On paper, Notre Dame could be favored in each of those seven games. No. 17 USC most recently thumped Arizona State, 42-14, but previously lost at home to Stanford, 41-31. The Cardinal, meanwhile, have rattled off four consecutive victories following its season-opening 16-6 loss at Northwestern. Stanford topped the Trojans, took down Oregon State on the road and blasted Arizona, 55-17.

Aside from those two remaining matchups, Navy’s triple-option always presents a difficult challenge, and Temple, under third-year head coach Matt Rhule, and Pitt, with standout wide receiver Tyler Boyd and rookie head coach Pat Narduzzi, aren’t to be discounted.

So it comes down to Notre Dame handling its business, admittedly easier said than done, and not succumbing to the sophomoric struggles supposedly beyond a veteran team.

“I'm not disappointed in our guys. I'm disappointed that they didn't take advantage of the opportunity that they had this weekend, and that was to beat a team on the road in a tough place to play and overcome the elements,” Kelly said a day after the loss to Clemson. “You don't want to repeat that, and I hope that they never forget that.”


All quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.

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

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Karl Joseph Injury: Updates on West Virginia Safety's Knee and Recovery

West Virginia's hot start this season has had some cold water thrown on it, as saftey Karl Joseph will miss the rest of 2015 with a knee injury. 

Continue for updates. 

Holgorsen and Joseph Comment on Injury Wednesday, Oct. 7

Kyle Fredrick of the Oklahoman provided statements from West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen and Joseph:

Joseph Injured During Practice Wednesday, Oct. 7

According to Allan Taylor of the West Virginia Metro News, citing West Virginia Sports, Joseph suffered the injury during a "noncontact practice drill."

Also per Taylor, Joseph released an official statement about the season-ending injury:

Joseph, a senior, has been one of West Virginia's best players since arriving on campus in 2012. He has recorded 16 tackles for loss and nine interceptions, including five to lead the nation in 2015, and was named to the first-team All-Big 12 last season. 

The Mountaineers are built on playing an uptempo offensive style and scoring a lot of points. Defense is often a weak point for the team, but Joseph has been a huge bright spot for years. 

There is never a good time to lose a player of Joseph's caliber, but this hits West Virginia particularly hard, as it is in the midst of a brutal stretch of games against Oklahoma State, Baylor and TCU in the next three weeks.

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Leonte Carroo Reinstated by Rutgers: Latest Details, Comments and Reaction

The simple assault charge against Rutgers wide receiver Leonte Carroo was dropped Tuesday, and the school reinstated him Wednesday, per Austin Ward of ESPN.

Judge Dennis Fackelman dismissed the charge when the alleged victim decided against pursuing the case, per Brian Amaral of Carroo had been accused of slamming the woman—with whom he had been previously romantically involved—to the ground outside of the Hale Center on Sept. 12, though prosecutors noted that without her cooperation, a conviction was unlikely, per Amaral.

Carroo still has to attend six hours of anger management, however, and he and the alleged victim signed an agreement that they would not contact one another.

Carroo, a senior, had seven receptions for 181 yards and three touchdowns this season before being suspended indefinitely in the wake of this incident. He caught 55 passes for 1,086 yards and 10 touchdowns last season and is a dynamic talent who will instantly upgrade the Rutgers offense upon his return to the starting lineup.


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Welcome to the Swamp: The Florida Gators Are Back

With the Florida Gators' recent games going their way, and their skills having shone bright in their last game against Ole Miss, it's no surprise the fans are hoping the Gators are back in top shape.

Are the Gators back? They're recent success would suggest so.

Check out the above compilation video of the Gators' recent highlights.

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Alabama Will Go as Far as Its Lines Will Take It

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — As far as locker room celebrations go, the one the University of Alabama enjoyed at Sanford Stadium last Saturday was pretty much what you would expect: lots of smiles, lots of whooping and hollering and a lot of drying off after destroying Georgia in the rain, 38-10.

“A lot of energy,” sophomore left tackle Cam Robinson said. “Anytime you can get a win like this, the locker room is a lot of fun.”

While the win was obviously a big one—and something the No. 8 Crimson Tide can use to springboard back into contention for the division, league and maybe even national titles—how Alabama pulled off the win was just as important as to what the scoreboard said.

It was physical. It dominated the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. It kept attacking.

With that, the Crimson Tide had its identity for the 2015 season.

“With all the rain, we knew going into it that it was going to be a smashmouth game,” senior center Ryan Kelly said. “That's how we like it too. That was fun for us. Not saying pass-blocking isn't fun, but it was good to keep going after them on every play.

“We felt in the Wisconsin game we played really physical and got away from that the last couple of weeks. We kind of re-established that and it’s one of those things you have to keep building on.”

On offense, Alabama mostly went with a maximum-protection package against Georgia to give senior quarterback Jake Coker as much help as possible during his first Southeastern Conference road game. He had time in the pocket, made consistent and accurate throws, and led scoring drives of, in order, 69 76, 56 and 38 yards against a highly regarded defense.

Moreover, he wasn’t sacked and had no interceptions.

The other part of that, though, was to unleash Derrick Henry and the power running game. He had a career-high 26 carries for 148 yards, including a 30-yard touchdown to give Alabama the lead for good in the second quarter.

“When you turn around and you see (No.) 2 running down the field and there are a storm of guys chasing him, that's a good feeling,” Kelly said. “Those happen when you do your job. Those build momentum for the offense.”

But Alabama also dominated up front on the defensive side as well, with the line at the forefront of arguably the game’s most critical point. After Alabama’s first possession ended on Henry’s fumble on 3rd-and-1, with Jordan Jenkins recovering, Georgia had first down at the Crimson Tide 42.

Unlike against Ole Miss, when five turnovers led to at least 17 points, the Bulldogs went three-and-out and punted.

"I think it was huge,” Nick Saban said.

Most of the game was like that stand, with a variety of players shutting down the running lanes, knocking down passes and harassing the quarterbacks. This time the tally was two sacks, four tackles for a loss, three interceptions including Eddie Jackson’s 50-yard return for a touchdown, a fumble recovery and seven passes broken up. Four of those were knockdowns.

"Those guys are big and physical,” Georgia’s Nick Chubb said. “I know they were coming downhill strong and tackling us pretty well."

Chubb had only 63 rushing yards until he broke the 83-yard touchdown run long after the game was out of reach. One play that especially stood out was when senior defensive lineman Jarran Reed made a one-handed tackle of the running back while his other arm was still occupied with an offensive lineman.

"It helps us with our confidence to get better each and every week, just seeing what we can do,” Reed said. “We came out here, and Chubb is a great back, but you have to come to win every week and dominate the line of scrimmage."

If Alabama continues to do so and can maintain that kind of intensity over the rest of the season, it’ll be extremely tough to beat. Opposing touchdowns are becoming more rare with each passing week, and when a lot of college football seems to be shying away from physical matchups, this team is embracing them.

“These kind of games mean a lot to me,” linebacker Ryan Anderson said about Saturday’s matchup with Arkansas (6 p.m. CT, ESPN). “That's why I came here, to play against teams that's gonna line up, two tight ends, two backs and run the ball, no fastball, none of that stuff. Just physical teams.

"They're a pain to deal with. Last year, playing against those guys, it was tough.”

Even with Alabama’s three major defensive gaffes that resulted in long touchdowns—Chubb’s score through an open gap, the freakish deflection to Ole Miss wide receiver Quincy Adeboyejo and the busted coverage on the pop pass—it's first in the Southeastern Conference in passing efficiency and rushing defense and second in scoring and total defense.

While Alabama has already notched 13 sacks, its offense has only given up five. It's tied for third in the league and tied for second in the league in those categories, respectively, but it is the only team in the top five in both.

Overall, eight different Crimson Tide players have recorded sacks, 15 have been involved in a tackle for a loss, 17 have broken up at least one pass and 11 have been credited with a quarterback hurry.

The defense is attacking in swarms and the offense is beginning to establish its version of trench warfare. No one knows how far the lines can take Alabama this season, but few if any now doubt this team’s obvious potential.

“I think they have a defensive front that’s only comparable to the NFL. I think at one point someone told me they’ve played 12 interior defensive linemen. They all look the same," Arkansas coach Bret Bielema said during his Monday press conference. "I swear there's a machine that just creates them and then they walk outside. They all look the same, and play the same unfortunately. They have DBs who can run and linebackers who can smack you.

“You have to play your best game to beat them.”


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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Power Ranking College Football Conferences Heading into Week 6

The college football season is in full swing, and some analysts are already in full "playoff projection" mode, giving out their four-team brackets each week.

For the second straight season, the topic of which power conference will be left out of the national semifinals has already become a hot debate. Likewise, the Group of Five leagues are under the microscope as they race to see which one gets the coveted bid to the big New Year's Six bowls.

As we head into Week 6 of the college football season, let's take a look at how each conference has performed so far in 2015 and hand out some power rankings.

Everyone has their own individual ways of ranking conferences, but the way I'm going about it here is by overall strength of the league from top to bottom. To do this, I put each conference's programs into three tiers and compared the balances of power among the leagues.

  • Contenders: These are the undefeated or one-loss teams that are still realistically in the race for the College Football Playoff—or a New Year's Six bid for the Group of Five conferences. For Power Five conferences, these are the teams currently ranked in the AP Top 25.
  • Winning Records: These teams currently have winning overall records but aren't in the Top 25 or seriously in the race for a major bowl bid.
  • Non-Winning Records: These teams are currently at .500 or worse on the season. Some still have a chance to rally and make a bowl, but these rankings are determined by what a conference has done heading into Week 6.

In order to separate the top leagues with similar breakdowns, losses against other Power Five conferences, Group of Five teams and even FCS teams weigh into some tough tiebreaker scenarios. Group of Five conferences are also compared by their performances against each other, with wins over Power Five schools and losses to FCS programs affecting their rankings.

Of course, there's no perfect system to rank conferences in college football, and discussions over which one is the best can get quite heated. Give us your take in the comments below.

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Pig Howard Dismissed by Tennessee: Latest Details, Comments and Reaction

Tennessee senior wide receiver Alton "Pig" Howard has been dismissed from the team for a violation of team rules. 

Per Wes Rucker of 247Sports, Tennessee head football coach Butch Jones announced that Howard was no longer with the program. The report notes that Jones did not provide a specific reason for the move.

Howard has been in trouble with the team already this season. Per Chip Patterson of CBS Sports, the 22-year-old was suspended for the season opener against Bowling Green for what Jones called a violation of team rules. 

"This is something that dates back many months," Jones said in August. "To Alton's credit, I like the way he's approached training camp. He's had the best training camp that he's had since we've been here. I'm appreciative of his efforts, but he will miss the Bowling Green game."

Howard, who has not played since Sept. 19, has missed Tennessee's last two games due to a concussion. He has just two receptions this season after leading the Vols with 54 receptions and 618 receiving yards last season. 

Tennessee has had a difficult start to the 2015 season. The Volunteers were ranked 25th in the AP and coaches preseason polls, but they have gone 2-3 through five games, including 0-2 in the SEC. 

Howard's dismissal, for whatever the reason may be, adds another layer of drama and disappointment to what has been a rough year for Jones in Knoxville. He hasn't been present most of this season, but a team losing its leading returning receiver will force other playmakers to step up in an effort to get this program back on track. 

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College Football Recruits Who Can Be the Next 2-Way Star Players

The news of UCLA junior Myles Jack withdrawing from school and preparing to enter the 2016 NFL draft came as something of a surprise to those who have followed his career. Jack—no pun intended—has been a jack of all trades on the field, shining as an outside linebacker and moonlighting as a reliable running back.

Jack had 15 tackles (nine solo), two pass deflections and an interception in three games before a season-ending knee injury sidelined him last month. He also rushed for a touchdown and returned a kickoff 29 yards during the season.

A player with Jack's versatility at the college level is rare, and as he recuperates from the knee injury to prepare for the draft, college football will now look for it's next super-versatile athlete. While nothing is guaranteed, there are a few from the 2016 and 2017 classes who could be two-way standouts at the next level.

Here are some players, in alphabetical order, to keep an eye on for the future.

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Duke Williams Allegedly Punched 4 People at a Bar After Win vs. San Jose State

A witness claimed Auburn wide receiver D'haquille "Duke" Williams "punched two security guards, a bartender assistant and another unidentified patron of a bar in Auburn" after a win over San Jose State, according to Wesley Sinor of

According to the witness, the incident stemmed from one of the members in Williams' party being kicked out of Skybar for breaking the bar's dress code by wearing sunglasses inside. Williams allegedly attempted to get his friend back into the bar but was rebuffed, and police were called to the scene. 

The witness also claimed that Williams appeared to be intoxicated. Charges have not yet been filed in the case, though Williams was dismissed by the team Monday, per Brandon Marcello of

"I'm not going to give any details," head coach Gus Malzahn said at a press conference Tuesday when asked about the situation, per Sinor, though he did note Monday that "I gave D'haquille the chance to prove himself. I am disappointed that it did not work out," per Marcello.

Williams, a senior, came into the 2015 season as one of the top wideout prospects in the country after catching 45 passes for 730 yards and five touchdowns last season, even after missing three games. He had a slower start to this campaign, catching 12 passes for 147 yards and one touchdown. 

Trouble has seemed to follow the wide receiver, as Williams was suspended for last year's Outback Bowl and was again suspended nearly a week this summer for disciplinary issues. Once considered one of the top prospects in the 2016 draft class, his series of off-field issues may now put his draft status in serious doubt. 

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College Football Picks for Week 6: B/R Experts' Predictions for the Top 5 Games

Five weeks into the college football season, some things are starting to take shape—namely that every single team is vulnerable in some way, shape or form. That was evident last week, as previously unbeaten teams Ole Miss, Georgia, Notre Dame and UCLA all lost.

There will no doubt be even more craziness, as every league, save the Big Ten, looks up for grabs.

This week, we'll take a look at five games that could have even more impact on the national landscape. And for the first time this season, we'll feature one game from each of the Power Five conferences. 

The first game sees undefeated Northwestern visit Michigan. The Wildcats have a stout defense and are coming off their second shutout of the season. Meanwhile, Michigan's defense has stepped up recently as well, with consecutive shutouts of its own. In its past four games, Michigan has allowed only 14 points. Definitely take the under in Ann Arbor.

In the SEC, Florida looks to keep momentum going over its surprise dismantling of Ole Miss last week. Will Grier was masterful in spreading the ball around and not making any costly mistakes. Missouri will be led by true freshman quarterback Drew Lock, who stepped in for suspended Maty Mauk last week and delivered a solid game with two touchdown passes. But with no offense to South Carolina, Lock will face a hyped-up Gators defense that shut down the high-powered Ole Miss Rebels last week. It could be a long day for the freshman. 

Clemson now sits as the ACC favorite, after it was able to withstand a last-minute comeback from Notre Dame. The rest of the league looks to be in tatters, aside from Florida State, which has its own issues. One of the teams many thought would compete for the ACC crown this year, Georgia Tech, looks to rebound after consecutive losses to Notre Dame, Duke and North Carolina. The Jackets will definitely need to get their ground game going to keep up with Clemson.

Kansas State, after playing its leading wide receiver, Kody Cook, as an emergency quarterback last week, will look to slow down TCU's big bad offense, led by Trevone Boykin. The Horned Frogs rebounded from their miracle escape against Texas Tech two weeks ago by trouncing Texas 50-7. While Cook played well against unbeaten Oklahoma State last week, the Wildcats definitely need starter Joe Hubener healthy to have a shot at matching scores with TCU. 

Finally, the week's marquee matchup takes us to...Salt Lake City? Yes, the Utah Utes are looking like one of the most complete teams in the country and sit undefeated. They'll host the Cal Bears, who are also without a loss and feature a high-powered offense with All-American candidate Jared Goff at quarterback. It will be a matchup of contrasting styles, but Cal will have to find a way to get some stops, as its defense has ceded an average of 32 points per game in its last three.

Who will emerge as the week's best performer, and whose picks do you disagree with? Be sure to sound off in the comments section below about who you think will win in Week 6. 

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South Carolina vs. LSU: Game Moved to Baton Rouge Due to Flooding

South Carolina is moving its scheduled home game against LSU to the opponent's Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, as the Gamecocks' home state begins to recover from devastating floods.

Brett McMurphy of ESPN first reported the news. Bleacher Report's Barrett Sallee provided comments from South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier about the change of venue.

"It appears the best thing is to travel to LSU," Spurrier said. "We look forward to the challenge and competing against the Tigers in Baton Rouge."

Athletic director Ray Tanner stated Tuesday that Williams-Brice Stadium actually came through the weather in good shape, according to ESPN. Road conditions and the availability of first responders were among the concerns school officials were dealing with, however.

Holly Yan and Ray Sanchez of CNN reported Tuesday that South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley remained concerned about the situation, though the rain has moved out for the time being.

"We still have to be cautious," Haley said. "The next 36 to 48 hours are going to be a time that we need to continue to be careful."

Clearly there are more important things to worry about in South Carolina this week than playing a football game. While the stadium is ready for action, the resources necessary to put on an event for more than 80,000 fans will be better utilized elsewhere.

It's a move that helps LSU as it looks to remain undefeated against a Gamecocks squad looking to get back on track after a sluggish 2-3 start. That said, this is more about providing support in a time of need than trying to gain any type of tactical advantage.

South Carolina is scheduled for a second straight home game against Vanderbilt on Oct. 17. Another decision will have to be made next week to determine whether enough progress has been made throughout the state to host that contest.


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College Football Teams Who Wish They Could Have a Restart to 2015 Season

If you ever played the NCAA Football video game, you probably hit the reset button the moment you found yourself down 21-0 in the first quarter. 

Real life, of course, doesn't have that reset button. The constant challenge football teams face is to overcome adversity when things don't immediately go their way. Oftentimes, that doesn't happen right away. It can take weeks, months, even years for a program to get going in the right direction. In the interim, there's a lot of frustration. 

The following teams know what that's like. Whether it's a complete housecleaning rebuild or simply a matter of not living up to expectations, these are the programs wishing some way, some how, they could restart the 2015 season. 

Record alone isn't the only indicator, though. For example, Arizona State and Louisville got off to terrible starts, but recorded huge wins in Week 5 against UCLA and North Carolina State, respectively. Had we posted this a week earlier, the Sun Devils and Cardinals would have made the list, but now there's reason for optimism with both teams. 

Rather, we'll look at trends as well. Did a team get off to an unexpectedly slow start? How have the losses piled up? Is a team consistently coming up just short, knowing things could have been different if a few plays had gone their way? Is it blowing leads? Or is it just getting blown out? Even winners can make this list, as you'll see with one program. 

Variety is the spice of this list. Sadly, the spice is bitter and no one likes the way it tastes. 

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