NCAA Football News

College Football Playoff Preview: Good Luck with This Mess, Selection Committee

Dear College Football Playoff Selection Committee member, 

I hope this message finds you well. The last time we spoke, I was writing you from Indianapolis hours after Ohio State’s magnificent demolition of Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship Game last December. My message at the time, with an impossible task directly in front of you, was simple: Drop everything and run from it all as fast as you can.

As it turns out, including Ohio State in the College Football Playoff was brilliant. Well done. I hope you took a much-deserved victory lap and enjoyed a nice vacation. You earned it.

"Generally, we think last year went very well, and we were very pleased with the reaction from fans across the country," selection committee chairman Jeff Long told earlier this offseason. "Our goal, really, is to build upon that success."

Things did go shockingly smooth even with some last-minute chaos. Now that college football is back in our lives, I have only one other piece of advice to offer before you unveil your first College Football Playoff standings Tuesday, Nov. 3: Drop everything if you haven’t already and run from it all as fast as you can. 

The season at hand is madness. It’s unpredictable. It’s strange. It’s wildly entertaining from a distance, although soon there will be no boundary between you two. The bedlam is coming, and it will be up to you to separate four teams in a sea of mediocrity and volatility.

Forget about separating a top four at this point. How about just one team? 

Sure, there’s a lot of time for things to sort themselves out. Perhaps it will all be sorted nice and neat by Dec. 6, the day the final College Football Playoff standings are released. Perhaps there will be four defined teams and zero controversy to speak of. Perhaps this is all pre-emptive panic with the first standings still weeks away. 

But given everything we’ve seen, all the bizarre turns that only seem to be gaining momentum, perhaps it’s best you just run regardless.

As for a look at the teams on the rise, squads losing ground, the team we penciled right into the playoff and other developments, let’s have a look.


Arrow Pointing Up

Utah: By not playing in Week 5, Utah drastically improved its playoff standing. With four Associated Press Top 10 teams suffering losses, the Utes inched closer to the top by sitting on the couch. It was a good week for a bye. Now, with a week light on major matchups and a prime-time game with Cal on deck Saturday, No. 5 Utah can further assure the masses it belongs in the College Football Playoff conversation.

Clemson: Sure, Notre Dame was dealing with a slew of injuries and the Tigers' monstrous lead nearly came undone. But in beating the Irish 24-22—or better yet, not losing—Clemson kept its clean resume intact. The schedule is by no means easy, although the toughest regular-season road game might be against Miami or NC State. As long as the Tigers keep winning, regardless of what happens with the rest of the conference, Clemson will stay in the conversation.

Oklahoma: The team that was drastically overhyped heading into last season suddenly looks exceptionally dangerous one year later. Oklahoma’s 44-24 victory over a quality West Virginia opponent showcased just how balanced this team has become. There’s a legitimate chance that the Sooners will be unbeaten as they head to Baylor on Nov. 14. If that’s the case, look out.

Status: Quietly Making Up Ground


Arrow Pointing Down

Ole Miss: Losing to Florida in spectacular fashion, 38-10, is by no means a deathblow. It’s not ideal, but now is the time to lose. There is still time to repair resumes, and the Rebels will have ample opportunities to showcase their worth. Ole Miss draws undefeated Texas A&M and LSU at home in the next six weeks, which will be more than enough to climb back up. The Rebels still have to win those games, though. The room for error is gone.

Georgia: On the topic of SEC teams looking completely overwhelmed in Week 5, here’s Georgia. The Bulldogs’ soggy 38-10 loss to Alabama was incredibly disappointing, and it certainly puts a halt to their College Football Playoff run for the time being. Now, there’s no shame in losing to Nick Saban, even at home. It’s how Georgia lost—looking inept in pretty much every phase—that was deeply concerning. Like Ole Miss, there’s still time to pick up the pieces. But Georgia best start now.

UCLA: Week 5 didn’t feel like the time for UCLA’s season to take a turn—not when the Bruins manhandled Arizona seven days earlier. Arizona State, however, placed C4 in Jim Mora’s mailbox and blew the thing up in the middle of the night. Now, with a defense that has endured a slew of meaningful injuries, the Bruins will have to bounce back. Even with the losses, there’s still talent to do just that. But the schedule doesn’t get any easier from this point on, which makes things rather tricky.


How Will the Committee View Ohio State? How Should We?

The parallels to 2014 Florida State are already being drawn, and in many ways, they feel somewhat appropriate in the early going.

National championship, check. Loads of NFL talent still on the roster, check. Incredible expectations coming in, check. Unimpressive (but still undefeated) against inferior competition, check.

Yes, the invincible Ohio State has looked quite vulnerable. The Buckeyes got 274 yards rushing from running back Ezekiel Elliott against Indiana—a Herculean effort—to stay unbeaten. And they needed every single yard.

Outside of Elliott, the offense really has never looked comfortable. While Cardale Jones will get the brunt of the blame, the offensive line, wide receivers and play-calling have also been spotty. Turnovers have plagued this group, too, as the Buckeyes' 13 giveaways have them tied at No. 117 in the nation. 

"We're turning the ball over at an alarming rate," Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer told reporters following the 34-27 win. "That's obviously a difference in the game. And at some point, that's going to bite you. We have to fix that."  

There’s still time for Ohio State to repair the broken machine. The committee won’t have to put its thoughts on paper for another few weeks, and by then the Buckeyes could look like their bulldozing selves. The talent is there. The defense is still dominant. The dormant giant might finally wake up. Or, maybe it won’t.

Ohio State will play Maryland, Penn State and Rutgers before the first standings are released. While no game should be considered a sure thing at this point, the timing of these three winnable contests doesn’t hurt.

If the picture remains hazy and Ohio State’s sloppy play continues—even in victories—the committee will have a difficult time assessing the Buckeyes. But while Ohio State’s struggles are noteworthy, there’s not exactly a long list of teams passing by it.


Is the Playoff Ready to Embrace Non-Power Brands? 

Year one of the College Football Playoff was a brilliant reality, and the unprecedented television ratings told a tremendous tale.

Ohio State, Florida State, Oregon and Alabama—four of the nation’s most watched and followed programs—made up the first postseason tournament. Oh, the money was falling from the sky.

What happens, however, when the playoff includes a Utah? Or a Northwestern? Or an Iowa? Or what about a Toledo? The Rockets, with wins over Arkansas and Iowa State, have an opportunity to go undefeated with a schedule that is serviceable enough.

If that is the case—and the madness plays out accordingly for the teams near the top—will they be given a shot? 

"There's obviously the big brand names out there that carry the weight just by name recognition alone," Utah coach Kyle Whittingham told Heather Dinich of "For good reason. Those programs have been successful and on the radar for a lot of years, that's why they have a name brand. We just have to keep doing our thing. It all boils down to getting the job done on the field. That is the bottom line."

He’s right. But that can’t eliminate the natural bias that has been building up for decades. With a room full of human beings now picking the playoff—a room that has celebrated college football’s defined hierarchy for longer than most of us have been alive—will the “little guys” truly ever get a fair shake?

Maybe it won’t come to that. Maybe the power brands will rally and converge Dec. 6, just like they did last year. Or maybe, in such a strange, unpredictable season, the College Football Playoff will welcome a batch of unfamiliar faces to the fold.

Read more College Football news on

Which 1-Loss Team Has Best Shot of Making College Football Playoff?

Oh, how easily we forget. 

This time last year, Ohio State was officially out of the College Football Playoff conversation after losing to Virginia Tech (so, too, was the Big Ten following an abysmal Week 2). Except, the Buckeyes weren't out of the playoff race. They never were. And, well, you know how the rest of the season worked out. 

But when Stanford lost to Northwestern 16-6 in Week 1, did fans and media alike collectively shut the Cardinal out of the playoff discussion prematurely as well? Recall that Stanford was ESPN college football analyst Desmond Howard's pick to win the national championship: 

Not long after Stanford's loss to the Wildcats, Howard made light of his own pick on Twitter. He also took a considerable amount of heat for it: 

However, maybe Stanford deserves more credit. 

Entering Week 6, Stanford has life again and its path to the playoff as a one-loss team is still clear. For that matter, the parallels between Stanford and Ohio State are undeniable. That's not to say Stanford will win the national title or is as stocked with NFL-caliber talent as Ohio State, but there are similarities. Losing wasn't the end for the Buckeyes, and it's not the end for Stanford or any one of the one-loss teams ranked in the Associated Press Top 25

Both were surprisingly outmatched in an early-season game they were expected to win. Both, when counted out, began improving. The Ohio State everyone saw in the playoff wasn't the same team everyone saw lose to the Hokies. 

Similarly, the Cardinal looked lifeless against Northwestern. Maybe it was a matter of traveling east combined with an early kickoff time, but head coach David Shaw's team was a mess. The single most surprising part was that Stanford was getting blown up in the trenches.

Win or lose, the Cardinal have prided themselves on being a physical football team. No matter what, teams playing Stanford were going to feel it the next day. That wasn't the Stanford on display in Evanston, though. If anything, it was the other way around. 

But, like Ohio State in 2014, Stanford is getting better. If the playoff selection from last year has taught us anything, it's that the committee takes season-long improvement into consideration. We're nowhere near the end of the '15 season, but according to F/+ rankings from, the Cardinal are one of the top four teams in college football, along with Alabama, Clemson and LSU: 

Since losing to Northwestern—who are proving to be anything but a fluke, by the way; the Wildcats might win the Big Ten West Division with its defense alone—the Cardinal are averaging more than 42 points per game and have beaten USC. Quarterback Kevin Hogan has turned things around after a poor opening-week performance. The senior currently has the third-best passer rating (169.77) and the second-most yards per attempt (9.6) in the Pac-12 despite attempting only 24 passes per game.'s David Lombardi, who ranked Hogan atop his Pac-12 quarterback power rankings list, wrote the following: 

He delivered a virtually flawless performance on a bad ankle in the Cardinal's 55-17 romp over Arizona. Hogan's 89.4 completion percentage (17-of-19) was the best of his career, and several of his throws popped on film. One dart down the seam to Devon Cajuste really stood out: Hogan evaded pressure by moving forward in the pocket and rifled a precise laser downfield while shuffling.

It helps tremendously that the running game is working, and Stanford's offense is nothing without the running game or an every-down back. Running back Christian McCaffrey leads the Pac-12 in all-purpose yards per game (229.8) and the Cardinal ground attack ranks in the top third of the conference. 

The defense is second in the Pac-12 behind only Washington in yards per play allowed (4.78). In short,  Stanford is playing like one would expect it to play. It's playing like a team with an identity.

That's good news for Shaw's team moving forward because its next big test comes right away in Week 6 against UCLA. The Bruins might be coming off a loss, but they're still considered one of the top teams in the Pac-12. However, Stanford has UCLA's number, having won their last seven games against Bruins dating back to 2009.  

The rest of the schedule sets up well. In a statement no one thought they'd ever make, the Cardinal won't face Utah out of the Pac-12 South in the regular season. The Utes, following their 62-20 win over Oregon, are the toast of the conference: 

So long as Stanford can navigate through the next month unscathed, it gets its toughest stretch on paper in the month of November: versus Oregon, Cal and Notre Dame. All three games are at home, however. Oregon has numerous problems in pass defense and at quarterback. Notre Dame has lost several key starters to injury. Part of making a run is getting the right breaks. Potentially catching Oregon in a down year and a snake-bitten Notre Dame could be huge for Stanford. 

And, in theory, if Stanford really is turning itself around, it should be playing its best football against its toughest opponents in November (and presumably the first week of December). There's no better time to catch the eye of the selection committee than at season's end. 

But what happens if Stanford loses another game? For all we know, it could happen this Saturday. Playoff access would then depend on the entire college football landscape. 2015 might be the year a two-loss conference champion gets into the field. 

There's a lot of football left to be played. Which teams emerge in the playoff conversation could, and likely will change multiple times in the coming weeks and months. It looks like it's shaping up to be that sort of season

If we've learned our lesson from 2014, though, it's that teams change. Some for the better, some not. Over the last month, Stanford has changed for the better. If it keeps winning, the right people will begin to notice. 


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

Read more College Football news on

Steve Spurrier's Final Act Is Getting Ugly

Every legend deserves the right last act. Going out with a bang, or at least a soft landing. Just not a crash.

Is it too late for Steve Spurrier to avoid that crash?      

Spurrier's controls his own job security, as South Carolina owes him for pretty much every positive thing about its football image. He will never be fired. Never. And people talk about job security as the goal. But for guys like Spurrier, it isn't one. In fact, sometimes that only makes it harder to figure out how or when to walk away.

You want to put it off as long as possible, but often, you're looking for the end, waiting for it, trying to outflank it, and then it pops up and hits you right in the nose somehow.

Spurrier's coaching career is getting smacked in the face right now. It's too bad. I'd say this is the beginning of the end for his career, glorious as it was, but it's already mid-crash-landing now. And there's no way out safely.

He used to say that he'd never want to stay forever, the way Joe Paterno and his great rival, Bobby Bowden, did. But it's too late now: At 70 with a collapsing team, Spurrier is the oldest head coach in SEC history.

"He is a Hall of Fame coach," Tommy Bowden, longtime Clemson coach and son of Bobby Bowden, told me Monday. "My father was a Hall of Fame coach who stayed a little too long. Joe Paterno was a Hall of Fame coach who stayed a little too long. Mack Brown stayed a little too long at Texas.

"I would think [Spurrier] would look at those examples and make a wise decision."

Yes, but what decision is that? To leave now with a team that's undoing what you built or wait to see if you can turn it around again by your 75th birthday?

The message sent by Paterno and Bowden was that you can be trapped while making that decision. They stayed into their 80s and wanted more. Bobby Bowden told me last year he wanted just one more season because he thought the team would be good. It was going to be his soft landing.


"It's just respect that the Bowdens have for Spurrier," Tommy Bowden said. "He was winning so much at South Carolina and then he had a bad year, eight wins [actually seven]. They'd be doing cartwheels in Tennessee for eight wins. Coach Spurrier set the standard at South Carolina at 11 wins, and unfortunately they're going to hold him to that standard."

The best thing for Spurrier to do now is to name his replacement and bring him in for a few years as Head Ball Coach in Waiting. That tells potential recruits there will be continuity no matter what. And maybe it buys Spurrier time to piece together one more decent year for his soft landing.

The problem is, you can never get the last drop out of something. And even if you could, you'd always wonder if there's another drop in there somewhere. Spurrier had three 11-win seasons in a row at South Carolina and surely figured he'd go on to win an SEC title at some point and then walk off.

Instead, they went 7-6 last year when some media—wishfully thinking—had picked them to contend for a spot in the College Football Playoff. And this year, after being crushed by Georgia and then losing to usually lowly Kentucky, they'll be lucky to win five games. So now when should he leave? He needs an exit strategy.

Spurrier has lost the state's recruiting battle to Clemson's Dabo Swinney. Bowden said the state of South Carolina isn't in the best spot to easily get to top recruits (tell that to Utah). Spurrier, of all people, doesn't have a quarterback.

He's searching for answers, changing lineups, moving in and out younger players. The answers aren't there. The program needs to be rebuilt, and Spurrier, as young as any 70 year old, is still, in fact, 70 years old.

Can't someone rebuild in his 70s?

"It can be done in your early 70s," Bowden said. "But not too many people are doing it. Bill Snyder [at Kansas State]. He's the only one."

It's not that he can't coach anymore. It's just that his old school, Florida, has passed him by again after last week's blowout win over Ole Miss. Ole Miss has passed him, Auburn. Georgia is ahead of him, even though Mark Richt can't win the big game. Alabama.

The SEC has reshaped itself without Spurrier.

"I breezed right through age 60, I breezed through 65 and I'm going to try my best to breeze right on through 70," Spurrier said at the SEC media days this summer. He pointed out that the Democratic and Republican front-runners for president are in their late 60s—Hillary Clinton (67) and Donald Trump (69). You can lead a country in your 70s but not an SEC football program?

Spurrier has always fought off age. He wears 70 well, and should be an example to modern day coaches that you can love football but don't have to spend every second thinking about it, obsessing over it and raising it to some level of social importance.

In the old days, Spurrier was all fun in the USFL. He was the cocky big mouth, calling Bobby Bowden's Florida State "Free Shoes University." Florida was a national power. He failed with the Washington Redskins. This is his 11th year at South Carolina, one less than he spent at Florida.

Somehow, Spurrier has managed to stay colorful while transforming from cocky to statesman. He has pushed for athletes to be paid. Any player who assaults a woman is kicked off his team. He pushed to have the Confederate flag taken down.

But it got ugly last year. There was an embarrassing loss to Tennessee, and then Spurrier cut out on his press conference in under 60 seconds. He was entitled to one of those every few decades, but the media, who have grown used to having Spurrier quips to fill their stories, tore into him angrily.

Mostly, though, he just looked worn out. He later said he just wanted two or three more years, and that was a huge mistake: How do you sell high school recruits, looking for a five-year college career, on the idea of playing for a guy who is leaving?

Everyone used it against Spurrier in recruiting. He tried to backtrack. This summer he held a press conference to throw a temper tantrum about some criticism he'd taken. It has gotten ugly. And even this weekend, he complained about officiating and, according to The State's Josh Kendall, took it to the SEC office:

"Nothing ever really happens too much to make referees accountable except maybe at the end of the year some of them are not rehired," Spurrier told the newspaper. "They are kind of told to retire if they have too many bad calls."

At least someone is telling them. No one will even do that much for Spurrier.


Greg Couch covers college football for Bleacher Report.

Read more College Football news on

Why Texas Is Still Relevant to Top College Recruits

The Texas Longhorns have a 1-4 record, the worst record for the program since 1956, and a 50-7 dismantling by TCU is still fresh in the team's mind. Additionally, bowl hopes are in jeopardy, a very uncommon situation for the Longhorns.

As if Texas needed any other distractions, a report of a potential locker room divide surfaced Monday. Are there issues between the upperclassmen and the freshmen?

Whatever the case, the combination of lackluster, on-the-field performances and off-the-field dissension is the last thing Charlie Strong and his coaching staff needs right now. Fortunately for the Longhorns staff, as bad as everything is now, the light at the end of the tunnel is what many recruits and targets are focused on.

In fact, 4-star wide receiver commit Reggie Hemphill-Mapps described Texas' current state of affairs with three words.

"It's a process," Hemphill-Mapps said.

There are a few reasons why Texas is still a contender to many targets and still the future home to nine athletes in the 2016 class.


Strong still has respect of recruits

For starters, recruits are still big fans of Strong and his character. Strong's record is a dismal 7-11 in his first two seasons as head coach, but recruits like the idea that he brings a level of discipline to the program.

"We're looking for more leadership, do a better job of coaching ... we've got to get this turned around," Strong said during his postgame press conference. "We have no choice."

Strong is building from the ground up, and that's not a microwave process—even at Texas. Having that light turn on is what the recruits are waiting on. Texas was a couple of plays here and there from being 3-2 instead of 1-4. The Longhorns let potential victories get away from them against Cal and Oklahoma State.

"They're just young, and with youth comes first-time experiences," 4-star defensive tackle Jordan Elliott said. "I feel that over the course of this season, things will change tenfold. Next year will be a different story for Texas."


The youth movement is blossoming

Watching the Longhorns may be painful in some situations now, but the Longhorns of the immediate future could be quite intriguing. As many as 10 freshmen—true or redshirt— are currently seeing starter's minutes, including starting quarterback Jerrod Heard. The depth chart also features four sophomores starting for Strong.

Names like linebackers Malik Jefferson and Anthony Wheeler, receiver John Burt and offensive linemen Patrick Vahe and Connor Williams are freshmen who have done a good job in being thrown to the fire.

Early playing time is possible for 2016 and 2017 recruits. As for this year's talent, there's still time for everyone to turn things around. It wouldn't be a surprise if the freshmen and sophomores led the charge.

"If everything clicks," Hemphill-Mapps said, "it's going to be a scary sight then."


Being a part of the turnaround

There's a silver lining for all recruits who watch the team they're either committed to or interested in. Most recruits are competitive and want immediate game time, and the idea of playing early in an effort to turn a program around can play a huge role.

"They have a great coaching staff," 4-star cornerback Eric Cuffee said. "[It's] just taking some time for them to get rolling."

Cuffee and targets such as 5-star safety Brandon Jones, 4-star offensive tackle Jean Delance and 4-star linebackers Jeffrey McCulloch and Dontavious Jackson are among the many keeping an eye on Texas for reasons outside of a current winning record.

Strong spoke of playing with pride after the TCU game. How a team bounces back from adversity is key to a lot of recruits, and one in particular is 4-star commit Shane Buechele, who is expected to run the offense in a couple of years.

"Texas will be fine," said Buechele, the nation's No. 2 dual-threat quarterback in the 2016 class. "They are in the middle of a process, and people need to understand that."

"I told [the team] we're not going to give up, and we're not going to give in," Strong said during the postgame interview. "We have to learn how to compete."

Strong said before he first coached a game for the Longhorns that he wanted to "put the 'T' back in Texas." And while the process isn't happening overnight, Strong has to be pleased that recruits are recognizing the steps taken.

Which recruits Strong signs in February will determine exactly how much they believe in him.


Damon Sayles is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. All quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. All player ratings are courtesy of 247Sports' composite ratings. Follow Damon via Twitter: @DamonSayles

Read more College Football news on

Miami Hurricanes vs. Florida State Seminoles Betting Odds, College Football Pick

Florida State owns five straight victories in the Sunshine State rivalry with Miami, including three covers. The Seminoles shoot to extend that winning streak to six when they host the Hurricanes Saturday night in Tallahassee.


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

College football pick, via Odds Shark computer: 21.6-19.1 Hurricanes


Why the Miami Hurricanes can cover the spread

After three straight wins to begin this season, averaging 42 points per game, the 'Canes just suffered their first defeat, a 34-23 decision at Cincinnati last Thursday. Miami pulled to within four points at 27-23 with over eight minutes to go but gave up a score on the ensuing Bearcats drive and couldn't recover.

Miami totaled 427 yards of offense, ran for 146, held the ball for almost 35 minutes and committed zero turnovers but managed just a field goal in the second half.

Three weeks ago, the Hurricanes built a big lead on Nebraska, coughed it up but beat the 'Huskers in overtime 36-33.

Miami is running the ball for 175 yards per game while getting some good play from sophomore quarterback Brad Kaaya, who now owns a career 31-to-13 touchdown-to-interception ratio. If they can avoid the lapses on defense, the 'Canes could keep this one close.


Why the Florida State Seminoles can cover the spread

FSU is off to a 4-0 start to this season, after last week's 24-16 win at Wake Forest. The Seminoles, despite losing leading rusher Dalvin Cook to a hamstring injury in the first quarter, got within one score of covering the spread as 18-point favorites when they took a 24-10 lead midway through the third quarter, went cold from there but survived a late Deacons rally to avoid the upset.

Florida State opened this season with a 59-16 romp over Texas State, then beat South Florida 34-14, then blanked Boston College 14-0. So the Seminoles have allowed a total of 46 points through their first four games.

FSU is 5-0 in the last five meetings with Miami, with three of those victories coming by at least 13 points. If they win by 13 Saturday, the 'Noles will cover.


Smart pick

Florida State is playing at home, which means the spread is probably inflated a bit, and so far this college football betting season, ranked teams are just 38-50 ATS versus unranked teams. Also, Cook is still questionable with that hamstring. The smart money here rides with Miami.


Betting trends

Miami is 2-6 ATS in its last eight games.

Florida State is 29-1 SU in its last 30 games.

Florida State is 10-0 SU in its last 10 games at home in October.


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

Read more College Football news on

Why Ohio State's QB Competition Won't Die

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The final question of Urban Meyer's Monday press conference seemed innocuous enough, a suggestion more likely to gain traction on an Ohio State message board than inside the mind of a three-time national champion head coach.

But when Meyer didn't immediately shut down the idea of using backup quarterback J.T. Barrett as a situational signal-caller in relief of starter Cardale Jones, it raised more than just a few eyebrows in the room.

"That's a good point," Meyer said of the suggestion that Barrett's dual-threat ability could cure the Buckeyes' recent red-zone woes. "We've thought about it. We've had that conversation. At this time we haven't made any decisions on that right now."

And with that, another day of quarterback controversy in Columbus was born.

Not that it wasn't already going to exist anyway, with Jones' performance in the 2015 season thus far having been inconsistent at best. In five games, the redshirt junior has completed 63 of his 106 pass attempts for 867 yards, five touchdowns and five interceptions, and has twice been benched mid-game for Barrett as No. 1 Ohio State has accumulated a 5-0 record.

But while Jones' encore to his national championship run from a season ago has been far from perfect, the 6'5", 250-pounder has shown improvement in the past two weeks, having completed a combined 62.2 percent of his passes for 535 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions in wins of Western Michigan and Indiana.

That's what made Meyer admitting that he's considered increasing Barrett's playing time all the more strange, as it came moments after he defended Jones' 18-for-27, 245-yard, one-touchdown, one-interception showing in the Buckeyes' 34-27 win over the Hoosiers.

"He's getting better," Meyer said of Jones. "He had one of his better days."

But apparently it may not have been good enough to put an end to the quarterback conundrum that's been brewing in Columbus ever since Barrett and Jones each helped co-op Ohio State's run to last season's College Football Playoff championship. While Meyer has stood steadfast in sticking with Jones as his starter to this point, cries for Barrett can be found from no shortage of Buckeye fans, with tweets from the lunatic fringe of those displeased with Jones' play having gone viral over the weekend.

"It's frustrating on our end, especially when I see tweets being thrown at Cardale. It's not pretty," Ohio State guard Billy Price said of the attacks from fans on Monday. "Fans, you have no idea what's going on, unfortunately."

That's not to say that Meyer would be one to cave to pressure from outside forces—far from it—but the new expectation for Barrett to potentially see increased playing time could make for an interesting atmosphere inside of Ohio Stadium on Saturday. Especially if the struggles of the Ohio State offense in the red zone—which have been one of the primary critiques of Jones' play—persist against a 2-3 Maryland team that ranks 60th in the country in red-zone defense.

Because as opposed to a year ago, when the Buckeyes converted on 85 percent of their opportunities inside of their opponent's 20-yard line, including a 71 percent touchdown rate, red-zone offense has suddenly become a surprising weakness for this year's Ohio State squad. The Buckeyes offense currently ranks 108th in the nation inside of the red zone, with OSU having scored on 75 percent of its opportunities, with just half of its 12 scores inside the opponent's 20 having been touchdowns.

Perhaps more alarming is the fact that the Buckeyes quarterbacks are yet to have thrown a touchdown inside the red zone through the first five games of the 2015 season, with Jones missing on three first-half attempts in the Buckeyes' win over Indiana on Saturday.

"We misfired on three in a row, which is awful," Meyer said. "But if you hit three of those passes you're over 70 percent completion."

That's where the idea of increased playing time for Barrett comes in, with the idea being that his ability as a more mobile quarterback could help increase Ohio State's options when it comes to playing on a shorter field. With the reigning Big Ten Quarterback of the Year taking the bulk of the Buckeyes' snaps, Ohio State scored on 83.3 percent of its 60 red-zone opportunities in the first 12 games of the 2014 season, 43 (71.7 percent) of which came by way of touchdown.

"J.T. [ran] a lot. And then Cardale, not much at all," Meyer said. "You'd like to have that. The threat of that cleans up defenses for you. That's the extra component that you have in an offense."

Only the numbers don't necessarily back up the idea that more Barrett would mean more red-zone success, as in an admittedly smaller sample size, Jones helped lead the Buckeyes to a 92.8 percent red-zone conversion rate in his three postseason starts last season, including 10 touchdowns on 14 tries (71.4 percent). It also wouldn't be fair to pin all of the OSU offense's shortcomings in the red zone on Jones, who hasn't received much help from a relatively young crop of wide receivers.

"It's not just him, it's just the timing of the wideouts and the quarterbacks," Meyer said. "And I've addressed that."

If that's the case, one would imagine the Buckeyes would benefit from continuity, not the implementation of a situation-based two-quarterback system.

Which makes one wonder why Meyer would even admit to toying with the idea, which would seem to be counterintuitive when it comes to achieving consistency for his starting quarterback.

It used to seem that there were only two men in Columbus capable of bringing Ohio State's quarterback controversy to an end. But five weeks into the season, neither Meyer with his words or Jones with his play have yet to do just that.


Ben Axelrod is Bleacher Report's Big Ten lead writer. You can follow him on Twitter @BenAxelrod. Unless noted otherwise, all quotes were obtained firsthand. All statistics courtesy of Recruiting rankings courtesy of 247Sports.

Read more College Football news on

B/R Exclusive: 5-Star Ben Davis Reveals Top 5, Official Visit Plans

The nation's top-ranked inside linebacker prospect is ready to focus on five favorite universities.

Ben Davis, a 5-star recruit who carries dozens of scholarship offers, told Bleacher Report he places Alabama, Auburn, Florida State, Georgia and LSU atop his list. Davis will spend official visits at each school, setting the stage for a highly publicized announcement on national signing day in February.

"I've got a great relationship with the coaching staff at all five schools. They're all recruiting me very hard," Davis said. "I've visited each of those schools, and now I'm eager to get back to them this fall."

The 6'3", 240-pound playmaker previously placed four of these programs—Alabama, Auburn, Georgia and LSU—in an initial top-seven list he unveiled last winter. Florida, Ole Miss and USC also appeared in that collection.

Now midway through his senior season at Gordo High School in Pickens County, Alabama, Davis is prepared to work through a frenzied recruiting path en route to an ultimate landing spot. He expects to pay close attention to several elements during multiday official visits with family, focusing particularly on personnel dynamics within programs.

"The most important thing for me is to see coaches' relationships with the players, how they treat players and how those players react to the coaches," Davis said. "I'll put myself in those players' positions. Could I see myself living and playing there for the next three or four years? That's how I'll break it down."

His first opportunity to explore this facet is scheduled for the weekend of Oct. 17 at Georgia. Davis will attend the Bulldogs' game against Missouri. 

Though he's traveled to Athens in the past, it's set to be his first game-day experience at the school.

Davis began to establish a solid rapport with Georgia defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt last year when the assistant coach attended a seven-on-seven tournament in Birmingham, Alabama. He also credits linebackers coach Kevin Sherrer for playing a pivotal role in his recruitment.

Davis' second official visit—likely his last in-season trip—will take him to LSU on Nov. 14 when the Tigers host Arkansas. He made it a priority to attend his first game at Death Valley and hopes he'll have a chance to see LSU square off against the Razorbacks in a nighttime setting.

"I really like Baton Rouge. I went down there one time and fell in love with it," Davis said. "LSU would probably be one of my top three choices if I had to decide today."

Tigers defensive coordinator Kevin Steele originally targeted Davis in Tuscaloosa, where he served as a Crimson Tide assistant last season. Head coach Les Miles has made it a point to sell early playing time during conversations with the top target.

"Coach Miles tells me all the time there's a need for linebackers there," Davis said.

In fact, that's another commonality shared by each of his five favorites. They all envision him as a potential immediate-impact defender, which is exactly the expectation he's set. 

"That's how I see myself. I think I can start and contribute as a freshman. That's a big factor why these teams are in my top five," Davis said.

Official visits to in-state Alabama and Auburn will occur after the season, along with another trip to Florida State. He traveled to Tallahassee earlier this year for the Seminoles' spring game.

"As soon as I got down to Tallahassee, I felt comfortable," Davis told Bleacher Report afterward. "I loved every minute of it. I could really see myself playing down there."

Like his other top contenders, team track record plays a pivotal role with the Florida State intrigue. 

"They're always winning down there. They're always a contender for a national championship with [head coach] Jimbo Fisher," he said. "I want to go to a winning program, and they told me I'll have a really good chance of playing early."

Auburn and Alabama are undoubtedly the least-surprising members of Davis' top-five list. His father, Wayne Davis, is the Crimson Tide's all-time tackles leader, and the Tigers have played a key factor in his recruitment since its conception.

Neither SEC powerhouse started the season in dominant fashion, though he already senses improvement at each school. 

"Both teams are getting better each week," Davis said. "I think they've found their quarterbacks. [Auburn defensive coordinator Will] Muschamp is working hard to get his defense where he wants it to be, and [Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby] Smart is doing the same thing for the Tide. I can't wait to see them compete in the Iron Bowl."

He will attend the Iron Bowl at Auburn in an unofficial capacity, allowing him to return to campus later for the benefits of a full official visit experience. Though Davis isn't yet sure who he'll sit alongside in the bleachers at Auburn, there's certainly someone he has in mind.

"That's probably one my dad doesn't want to miss," he said.

Despite strong family ties to the Tide, Davis has made it clear he's going to reach a decision that makes long-term sense for him.

"My dad will support whatever decision I make 110 percent," Davis told Bleacher Report in February. "He hasn't really pushed me toward one school or another. He just wants to make sure I'm comfortable with the situation wherever I go."

Meanwhile, close friend and fellow 5-star recruit Marlon Davidson continues to push Davis toward Auburn. The dominant defensive end committed to the Tigers last month.

"As soon as he committed, Marlon told me, 'You're next.' He wants me to come down there with him. We talk all the time," Davis said.

Another component to monitor moving forward is his relationship with Lyndell "Mack" Wilson, the country's top-ranked outside linebacker. Several teams are attempting to secure a package deal with this promising duo, and three of Davis' favorites match teams on Wilson's recently released top-eight list.

Florida State, LSU and Alabama each made the cut as mutual possibilities.

"We might end up linking up together for a visit. He's been talking with me about playing together all the time, but we'll see how it goes," Davis said.

There are still four months and five official visits separating the sensational linebacker from a final choice. For now, his focus is fixated on helping Gordo remain unbeaten in his last high school campaign. 

"I'm trying to close things out strong for my team," Davis said. "I'm definitely excited to get to some of these games on different campuses and find the right fit for me. I really like all these schools, so there's a lot to consider."


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

Read more College Football news on

TCU Horned Frogs vs. Kansas State Wildcats Betting Odds, Analysis, Football Pick

Texas Christian is a solid road outfit, winning six of its last seven and 31 of its last 39 away from home. But the Frogs are also only 5-7 against the spread over their last dozen road games and 3-10 ATS the last 13 times they've been favored on the road. TCU is favored on the road for Saturday night's clash with Kansas State in Manhattan.


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

College football pick, via Odds Shark computer: 40.7-23.4 Horned Frogs


Why the TCU Horned Frogs can cover the spread

The Frogs are 5-0 this season and hitting on all cylinders, following last week's 50-7 trouncing of Texas. TCU led 30-0 after the first quarter and probably could have put up 70 on the beleaguered Longhorns. The Frogs outgained Texas 604-313, ran for 228 yards, and quarterback Trevone Boykin continued his Heisman run by throwing five touchdown passes.

Two weeks ago, TCU scored 55 points in topping Texas Tech; just before that, it put up 56 in a win over SMU; and just before that, it piled 70 points on Stephen F. Austin.

Texas Christian is chasing a berth in the College Football Playoff and not only needs wins, but they have to be convincing. A close victory is almost considered a loss, and as the Frogs learned last year, there's very little room for error.


Why the Kansas State Wildcats can cover the spread

After three straight victories to begin this season, the Wildcats just suffered their first loss, a 36-34 decision at ranked Oklahoma State. Kansas State led almost the entire game, fell behind late, regained the lead, then lost on a field goal with 30 seconds to go. But on the day, the 'Cats out-rushed the Cowboys 144-49, held the ball for almost 35 minutes and covered as seven-point road dogs.

Kansas State won its first three games this season by a combined score of 103-36 and has out-rushed every opponent by an average of 95 yards per game. Usually winning the ground battle by margins like that leads to wins and covers.

The Wildcats under head coach Bill Snyder are always a dangerous outfit because they're usually so fundamentally sound and well-coached. Kansas State is also 5-1 ATS its last six times out as a home dog.


Smart pick

TCU is the better team in this matchup, playing on the road, where the spread is more amenable. So despite the recent trends, the smart money here is giving the points with the Frogs.


Betting trends

TCU is 13-0 SU in its last 13 games.

TCU is 5-0 ATS in its last five games in October.

Kansas State is 6-0 ATS in its last six games at home in October.


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

Read more College Football news on

Auburn Football: Will Tigers Really Miss WR D'haquille "Duke" Williams?

The roller-coaster career of Auburn wide receiver D'haquille "Duke" Williams has come to an end.

The 6'2", 224-pounder was dismissed from the Auburn program late Monday night, according to a release emailed by Auburn.

"When individuals fail to meet the expectations of our program, there has to be consequences," head coach Gus Malzahn said in a statement emailed by Auburn. "I gave D'haquille the chance to prove himself. I am disappointed that it did not work out."

Williams was suspended for Auburn's Outback Bowl matchup against Wisconsin following last season, and again for a week during fall camp for an unspecified violation of team rules. According to Jay G. Tate of, Williams' third strike came over the weekend when he was allegedly involved in an incident at a night club.

Will Auburn miss its senior star receiver?

Because of his his physical ability and potential, the easy answer would be "yes." 

After all, he caught a team-high 45 passes for 730 yards and five touchdowns last year and was one of the most consistent third-down machines as a junior. 

But during his senior season, things have changed, which makes the answer a resounding "no."

While Auburn has undergone an offensive shakeup with Sean White taking over at quarterback for an ineffective Jeremy Johnson, Williams has been missing in action. He has just 12 catches for 147 yards and one score on the season. Williams hasn't served as the all-purpose weapon for an offense that desperately needed him to be and has underwhelmed to a point where ESPN NFL draft analyst Todd McShay is down on his future at the next level:

It's not a leap to suggest that McShay is right about Williams' "inflated sense of self" after he's been suspended three times without an arrest or any suggestion of a failed drug test.

If he's a problem in the locker room and with the coaches and isn't producing much on the field, what's the point of even having him on the roster?

Malzahn's quick hook from Johnson to the redshirt freshman White is a clear sign that Auburn is trying to salvage the present while building toward the future in 2015.

Williams was evidently not part of either equation based on his lack of production this year, so Auburn is better off without him.

There are plenty of talented receivers on the roster who have produced on the Plains. 

Ricardo Louis (6'2", 215 pounds) leads the Tigers with 19 catches for 193 yards and a touchdown, Melvin Ray (6'3", 215 pounds) is a senior who has nine catches for 84 yards and two scores and junior Tony Stevens (6'4", 205 pounds) was behind Williams on the depth chart, although Ray could be a better option to slide over to Williams' old role in the slot. All of those players are big enough to be the possession force Williams was supposed to be but didn't become in 2015.

Add in smaller targets like veteran junior Marcus Davis, redshirt freshman Jason Smith and versatile running backs Roc Thomas and Kerryon Johnson out of the backfield, and there are plenty of weapons for White to grow with.

Auburn has experienced wide receivers to fill the void left by Williams now, and younger ones that will help the offense evolve moving forward.

The Williams experiment has come to an end. For Auburn, it was probably two months too late. 

Auburn's motto this year is "count on me."

It was clear that Malzahn couldn't count on Williams on the field or off of it.


Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports. Statistics are courtesy of

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

Read more College Football news on

Maryland Terrapins vs. Ohio State Buckeyes Betting Odds, College Football Pick

Defending national champion Ohio State owns an 18-game winning streak, but its reputation is making it a bad bet as the Buckeyes have lost their last four games against the spread. OSU is big chalk, again, for Saturday's Big Ten bash with Maryland at the Horseshoe.


Point spread: The Buckeyes opened as 28.5-point favorites, according to sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark. (Line updates and matchup report)

College football pick, via Odds Shark computer: 51.9-19.7 Buckeyes


Why the Maryland Terrapins can cover the spread

Maryland started this season 2-1 both straight up and ATS but has lost its last two, including a 28-0 decision at Michigan last week. The Terps, as two-touchdown dogs, only trailed the Wolverines by six points well into the third quarter, as the defense did what it could to keep things close, but it got no help from the offense and faded.

UM is having a real problem at quarterback, and it's affecting the whole team. The Terps can't convert on third down, and it's putting too much pressure on the defense. If Maryland could just get better play from the quarterback position and move the chains a few times, its defense could help it stay in games.

Finally, the Terps are catching an Ohio State team that isn't quite clicking at the moment. And so far this college football betting season, unranked teams are 50-38 ATS against ranked teams. If they could just put up 14 to 17 points the Terrapins could take the cash Saturday.


Why the Ohio State Buckeyes can cover the spread

OSU is 5-0 on the season after holding off Indiana last week 34-27. The Buckeyes spotted the Hoosiers the first 10 points of the game, but slowly took control, as running back Ezekiel Elliott went off for 274 yards on the ground and three touchdowns. Ohio State got within one score of pushing the spread as 21-point road chalk with 10 minutes to go but couldn't quite finish the deal.

The Buckeyes outgained Indiana 517-402, while overcoming three turnovers.

Ohio State opened this season with a victory/cover at Virginia Tech, and while it's still undefeated, something seems to be missing. But the Buckeyes are still probably the best team in the country and could explode at any moment.


Smart pick

With Ohio State playing at home, this spread is probably about a touchdown too much, but Maryland has scored a total of six points over its last two games and might not top that figure Saturday. And even with mediocre play at quarterback the Buckeyes are capable of putting up 40. The smart money here resides with OSU.


Betting trends

Maryland is 2-5 SU and ATS in its last seven games.

Ohio State is 18-0 SU in its last 18 games.

Ohio State is 0-5 ATS in its last five games at home.


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

Read more College Football news on

Northwestern Wildcats vs. Michigan Wolverines Betting Odds, Football Pick

Even as it's struggled over recent seasons, Michigan has retained the upper hand in the series with Northwestern, winning nine of the last 10 meetings straight up. But the Wildcats have been grabbing the cash, going 5-2 against the spread over the last seven meetings.

In an interesting game in the Big Ten, Michigan and Northwestern hook up for Homecoming at the Big House Saturday afternoon.


Point spread: The Wolverines opened as 10-point favorites, according to sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark. (Line updates and matchup report)

College football pick, via Odds Shark computer: 30.3-16.6 Wolverines


Why the Northwestern Wildcats can cover the spread

Northwestern is 5-0 this season, 4-1 ATS, after blanking Minnesota last week 27-0, easily covering as a four-point home favorite. The Wildcats led 10-0 at the half and 20-0 after three quarters, then put the cherry on top with a fumble return for a score early in the fourth. On the day Northwestern outrushed the Gophers 184-74 and won time of possession by a 34-26 margin, and those are usually good ways to cover spreads in college football.

The Wildcats opened this season with an upset of Stanford, and in their only road game so far, won at Duke. So they already own two victories over quality foes.

After losing three close contests to Michigan the last three seasons, Northwestern is probably itching for a shot at revenge.


Why the Michigan Wolverines can cover the spread

The Maize and Blue are 4-1 SU and 3-2 ATS through their first five games under new head coach Jim Harbaugh, including a 28-0 blanking of Maryland last week. The Wolverines only led 6-0 at the half but pulled away from there, eventually outgaining the Terrapins 378-105, racking up 198 yards on the ground and holding the ball for over 34 minutes. And as mentioned above those are excellent prerequisites for covering spreads, which Michigan did as a two-touchdown road favorite.

So since that season-opening loss at Utah, which doesn't look too bad right now considering what the Utes have done, the Wolverines have allowed just 14 points over their last four games, pitching back-to-back shutouts.

Michigan seems to have the voodoo on the Wildcats; three seasons ago the Wolverines connected on a late Hail Mary and kicked a field goal to force overtime, where they won 38-31; two seasons ago they kicked a field goal at the buzzer to again force overtime, where they won 27-19; and last season they stopped a Northwestern two-point conversion with three seconds left to preserve a 10-9 victory. And things like that play on teams' minds.


Smart pick

The last three meetings in this series have been very close, and there's little reason to believe Saturday's game won't play out along similar lines. The smart money in this spot resides with the underdog Wildcats.


Betting trends

Michigan is 9-1 SU in its last 10 games against Northwestern.

Northwestern is 7-2 SU and ATS in its last nine games.

The total has gone under in Michigan's last six games at home.


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

Read more College Football news on

Navy Midshipmen vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish Betting Odds, Football Pick

Notre Dame once beat Navy 43 times in a row and owns a four-game winning streak in the series, but the Midshipmen have had their moments recently against the Irish, winning three of the last eight meetings straight up and going 5-3 against the spread in the process. Navy shoots for another upset of Notre Dame Saturday afternoon in South Bend.


Point spread: The Fighting Irish opened as 16-point favorites, according to sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark (line updates and matchup report).

College football pick, via Odds Shark computer: 42.5-22.0 Fighting Irish


Why the Navy Midshipmen can cover the spread

Navy is 4-0 both straight up and against the spread this season, after knocking off Air Force last week 33-11 and covering as a five-point home favorite. The Mids led 27-0 before allowing the Falcons to hit the board late in the third quarter, and on the day they outgained Air Force 387-277, held the ball for almost 33 minutes and won the turnover battle 4-0.

So on the season Navy has covered 27 points over Colgate, five points over East Carolina and seven points at Connecticut, outgaining and outrushing each of them.

Last year the Mids trailed Notre Dame 28-7, rallied to take a 31-28 lead and eventually lost 49-39, but they covered as two-touchdown underdogs. And two seasons ago Navy led the Irish 34-31 with eight minutes left, before falling 38-34 but covering as a 16-point underdog. With senior Keenan Reynolds running that flex-bone option, the Midshipmen are a dangerous outfit.


Why the Notre Dame Fighting Irish can cover the spread

After starting 4-0 this season with three covers, the Irish just suffered their first defeat, a 24-22 decision at Clemson. Notre Dame trailed 21-3 into the fourth quarter and rallied to within a two-point conversion on a touchdown with seven seconds left, but the Irish came up short. However, they did smile upon their financial backers, picking up the backdoor cover as three-point road dogs.

Notre Dame outgained the Tigers 437-296 but committed four turnovers on a wet night at Death Valley.

Prior to that the Irish had won their first four games, averaging 41 points per game, even after having to go with a redshirt freshman, DeShone Kizer, at quarterback. Notre Dame is after big game this season and knows another loss would likely kill its chances of making the College Football Playoff.


Smart pick

The Irish may very well win this game, but Navy has run for more than 300 yards in each of the last two meetings, keeping both games close. The smart money here sides with the Midshipmen.


Betting trends

The total has gone over in Navy's last five games against Notre Dame.

Navy is 6-2 against the spread in its last eight games on the road.

Notre Dame is 5-1 straight up and against the spread in its last six games.


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

Read more College Football news on

Oklahoma Sooners vs. Texas Longhorns Betting Odds, Analysis, Football Pick

Oklahoma is 4-1 over the last five Red River Rivalry bouts with Texas, but the Longhorns have covered the last two, pulling off a shocking upset two seasons ago as two-touchdown dogs, then scaring the Sooners last season while getting 16 points. Texas is dogged again for Saturday's shootout at the Cotton Bowl.


Point spread: Sooners opened as 13.5-point favorites, according to sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark. (Line updates and matchup report)

College football pick, via Odds Shark computer: 38.5-19.5 Sooners


Why the Oklahoma Sooners can cover the spread

OU is off to a 4-0 start this season—and is 3-1 against the spread—after dispatching West Virginia last week 44-24. The Sooners grabbed an early 24-7 lead, let the Mountaineers get within a field goal at 27-24, but then pulled away with help from a beautiful 71-yard Baker Mayfield-to-Durron Neal scoring connection and a fumble return for a score.

On the day, Oklahoma outgained West Virginia 427-369, and most of the Mountaineers' yardage came while playing catch-up. The Sooners also forced five West Virginia turnovers, helping OU cover as a seven-point home favorite.

On the season Oklahoma is averaging 522 yards of offense and 42 points per game. Now the Sooners go up against a very troubled Texas team that's allowing over 500 yards per game this season. This one could get ugly.


Why the Texas Longhorns can cover the spread

Texas lost a couple of close games earlier this month, but laid a big egg last week, losing at TCU 50-7. And no amount of polish can put a shine on that pile of manure. The Longhorns trailed 30-0 after the first quarter, and 50-0 late, before avoiding the shutout with a meaningless score with five minutes to go.

Two weeks ago Texas lost to Oklahoma State 30-27, blowing that game on special teams. And just before that the 'Horns lost to Cal 45-44 on a missed extra point. So perhaps the situation with this team isn't as bad as we're led to believe.

Potential Texas backers might take some solace in the fact that unranked teams are 50-38 (57 percent) ATS against ranked teams so far this college football season.


Smart pick

There's a chance this spread is inflated a bit, and there's also a chance the rivalry will inspire the Longhorns. However, until Texas shows some kind of improvement it should probably be faded. The smart choice here is the Sooners.


Betting trends

The total has gone over in eight of Oklahoma's last 10 games against the Big 12.

The total has gone over in Oklahoma's last six games in October.

Texas is 1-6 SU and ATS in its last seven games.


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

Read more College Football news on

California Golden Bears vs. Utah Utes Betting Odds, Analysis, Football Pick

The Cal Bears aren't known for their success on the road, but they are 3-2 straight up and 5-0 against the spread over their last five Pac-12 road contests. Cal is in for a good test this week when it visits Utah for homecoming in Salt Lake City on Saturday night.


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


College football pick, via Odds Shark computer: 24.5-23.5 Golden Bears


Why the California Golden Bears can cover the spread

At 5-0, Cal is off to its best start since 2007 following last week's 34-28 come-from-behind victory over Washington State. The Bears trailed 21-7 late in the first half but outscored the Cougars from there 27-7 to avoid the upset.

Cal got a gift early in the third quarter when Wazzu's punter fumbled on a fake, which Bears senior Stefan McClure picked up and returned 45 yards for a score. And quarterback Jared Goff continued his rise up NFL draft charts by hitting on 33 of 45 throws for 390 yards and four scores against one interception.

Two weeks ago, the Bears opened conference play with a 30-24 victory at Washington, and just before that, they beat Texas in Austin 45-44. So Cal is already 2-0 on the road this year.

If the Bears can tighten up on defense, they've got a chance to pull off an upset Saturday.


Why the Utah Utes can cover the spread

Utah is 4-0 SU and 3-1 ATS after rocking Oregon two weeks ago 62-20 in Eugene, winning that game in runaway fashion as a 10-point underdog. The Utes then had last week off.

Utah never trailed against the Ducks, snapping a 6-6 tie with three second-quarter touchdowns and then pulling away in the second half, at one point scoring 42 unanswered points. On the day, the Utes racked up 530 yards of offense, 273 on the ground, held the ball for almost 37 minutes and won the turnover battle 3-0. Utah quarterback Travis Wilson threw for 227 yards and four scores and ran for 100 yards and another touchdown, while the defense limited the supposedly explosive Ducks offense to just two touchdowns.

The Utes opened this season with a 24-17 victory over Michigan, a win that looks even better after what the Wolverines have done since. If Utah can come up with another performance like the one against Oregon, it should win and cover this week too.


Smart pick

Utah owns a couple of impressive victories, but Cal looks like an up-and-coming program led by a future NFL player at quarterback. The Bears are also in their third season under new head coach Sonny Dykes, and college football programs often make big strides in their third seasons under new coaching regimes. The smart money here backs the Bears.


Betting trends

  • California is 5-0 ATS in its last five games on the road against the Pac-12.
  • The total has gone under in six of California's last eight games in October.
  • Utah is 5-1 ATS in its last six games at home in October.


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

Read more College Football news on

Oklahoma State Cowboys vs. West Virginia Mountaineers Betting Odds, Pick

West Virginia lost its first meeting with new conference rival Oklahoma State after joining the Big 12 three seasons ago, but it has beaten the Cowboys twice in a row since then, winning as a home dog and as road chalk. The Mountaineers will go off as home chalk when they host OSU Saturday afternoon for Homecoming in Morgantown.


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

College football pick, via Odds Shark computer: 26.5-22.2 Cowboys


Why the Oklahoma State Cowboys can cover the spread

Oklahoma State is 5-0, and 2-0 in Big 12 play, after nipping Kansas State last week 36-34 on a field goal with 30 seconds left. The Cowboys trailed almost all day long, finally took a lead with six minutes left, gave it up, but then drove 45 yards in the last two minutes, picking up a key 4th-and-8 conversion along the way, for the game-winning kick.

OSU outgained the Wildcats 490-351, as quarterback Mason Rudolph threw for 437 and three scores, while the Cowboys defense held the K-State running attack to 144 yards on 42 carries.

Two weeks ago, Oklahoma State opened conference play with a 30-27 victory at Texas, outgaining the Longhorns by more than 100 yards.

The Cowboys are 4-2 against the spread the last six times they've been dogged by a touchdown or more, and that run includes upsets of Oklahoma and Baylor and a near miss against Florida State. So bettors shouldn't underestimate OSU's ability to surprise.


Why the West Virginia Mountaineers can cover the spread

After a 3-0 start to this season, West Virginia just suffered its first defeat, a 44-24 decision at Oklahoma. But that score might be a bit misleading. The Mountaineers rallied from a 17-point deficit to trail by only a field goal late in the third quarter, before the Sooners scored on a 71-yard pass play and a 41-yard fumble return to pull away.

West Virginia outrushed Oklahoma 196-107 and held the ball for over 33 minutes but couldn't overcome five turnovers. Few teams can.

The Mountaineers won their first three games this season by a combined score of 130-23, covering spreads as favorites of 16 and 17 points. If West Virginia can eliminate the turnovers and avoid giving up the big plays on defense, it stands a good chance of earning a third straight victory over Oklahoma State Saturday.


Smart pick

The Mountaineers might be ripe for a bounce-back effort this week, but they're also just 7-13 ATS as home favorites in four-plus seasons under head coach Dana Holgorsen. And these two teams are very even, talent-wise. The smart choice here is with the Cowboys, plus the points.


Betting trends

Oklahoma State is 10-1 straight up and 7-3-1 ATS in its last 11 games on the road in October.

The total has gone under in eight of West Virginia's last nine conference games.

West Virginia is 2-8 ATS in its last 10 games in October.


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

Read more College Football news on

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets vs. Clemson Tigers Betting Odds, Analysis, Pick

The recent series between Georgia Tech and Clemson hasn't been too difficult to pick; the home team is 9-1 straight up, 8-2 against the spread over the last 10 meetings. That fact would seem to bode well for the Tigers and their backers heading into Saturday's bout with the Yellow Jackets at Death Valley.


Point spread: Tigers opened as 7.5-point favorites, according to sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark. (Line updates and matchup report)

College football pick, via Odds Shark computer: 29.9-21.9 Tigers


Why the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets can cover the spread

The Ramblin' Wreck started 2-0 this season, racking up 134 points in victories over Alcorn State and Tulane, but have since lost three games in a row, albeit to some decent outfits. Last week, the Yellow Jackets led North Carolina 21-0, scoring touchdowns on their first three possessions. Then they had their All-ACC defensive tackle ejected in the first half, coughed up that early advantage and eventually fell 38-31.

Georgia Tech, as it does, ran the ball 58 times for 256 yards last week and won time of possession by a lopsided 39-21 margin. But a fourth-quarter fumble turned into a key Tar Heels touchdown, which proved to be the difference in the game.

The Yellow Jackets are struggling at the moment, but they've still out-gained four of five opponents this season, and out-rushed them all. They're 0-2 in ACC play, but they won the Coastal Division last year with two losses, so they're not dead yet.


Why the Clemson Tigers can cover the spread

Clemson is off to a 4-0 start to this season, following a 24-22 victory last week at home over Notre Dame. The Tigers built a 21-3 lead through three quarters, then held on from there, preserving the win with a stop on an Irish two-point-conversion attempt with seven seconds to go. Clemson out-rushed Notre Dame 199-116 and won the turnover battle 4-1, although it couldn't quite hang on for the cover as a three-point home favorite.

The Tigers are already 1-0 in conference play, having won at Louisville three weeks ago 20-17.

Clemson has out-gained and out-rushed three of four opponents this season; it's also about two plays away from being 4-0 ATS. The Tigers think they can contend in the ACC Atlantic Division, but they know they'll have to sweep their home games to do so.


Smart pick

Georgia Tech is coming off a depressing defeat, while Clemson is coming off an emotional victory over a big-time opponent. But college football can be a roller coaster of a game from week to week; might the Wreck be ripe for a rebound, the Tigers prime for a letdown? And this spread is probably inflated toward the home team. The smart pick here is with the Yellow Jackets, bucking the recent trend in this series.


Betting trends

Georgia Tech is 5-2 ATS in its last seven conference games.

Clemson is 7-0 SU in its last seven games.

Clemson is 0-6 ATS in its last six conference games.


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

Read more College Football news on

Arkansas Razorbacks vs. Alabama Crimson Tide Betting Odds, Analysis, Pick

Alabama owns the recent rivalry with Arkansas, winning the last eight meetings straight up, covering five of the last seven. Coming off a huge SEC road victory, the Crimson Tide continue their quest for a return trip to the College Football Playoff when they host Arkansas for Homecoming in Tuscaloosa Saturday night.


Point spread: The Crimson Tide opened as 16-point favorites, according to sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark. (Line updates and matchup report)

College football pick, via Odds Shark computer: 30.3-20.3 Crimson Tide


Why the Arkansas Razorbacks can cover the spread

The Hogs, who began this season with high hopes, just snapped a three-game losing streak with a 24-20 victory at Tennessee, winning outright as six-point road dogs. Arkansas spotted the Vols an early 14-0 lead and looked headed for a fourth straight defeat, but steadied itself, rallied to take the lead in the third quarter and held on from there.

The Razorbacks outgained Tennessee 507-365, outrushed the Vols 288-133 and won time of possession by a 35-25 margin. Also, the Arkansas defense allowed just one Tennessee offensive touchdown. Two weeks ago the Hogs opened SEC play by losing to Texas A&M in overtime despite outrushing the Aggies 232-65. In fact, Arkansas has outgained and outrushed every opponent this season.

The Razorbacks have experienced some turmoil early this season, but perhaps last week's victory will smooth things out.


Why the Alabama Crimson Tide can cover the spread

The Tide showed they weren't about to give up on their SEC and national championship hopes by going into hostile territory in Athens last week and walloping Georgia 38-10. Playing as underdogs for the first time in seven seasons, Alabama snapped a 3-3 tie by scoring the next 35 points of the game, sparked by a blocked punt returned for a score.

On the day the Tide were outgained by the Bulldogs 379-299, and 83 of UGA's yards came on one play with the outcome already decided.

So each of Alabama's four victories this season have come by at least 18 points. If the Tide win by 18 this week, they'll cover.


Smart pick

Alabama looked like a national title contender last week, while Arkansas has struggled. But the Tide only beat the Hogs last season by a point, 14-13, and basically got outplayed. Bama isn't above the normal ups and downs college teams go through, and playing at home means the spread is probably inflated by several points. The smart money here takes Arkansas.


Betting trends

Alabama is 8-0 SU in its last eight games against Arkansas.

The total has gone under in nine of Arkansas' last 10 games.

Arkansas is 2-10 SU in its last 12 games on the road.


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

Read more College Football news on

College Football Rankings 2015: Records for Top 25 Teams and Week 6 Standings

The weekend of chaos that struck college football on October's first Saturday sent the Top 25 rankings into a tailspin, but it could be a sign of things to come entering Week 6 and the rest of the 2015 season.

It wasn't a good week to be a Top 10 team, as the Ole Miss Rebels, Georgia Bulldogs and Notre Dame Fighting Irish all fell and saw their rankings plummet in the process. But there was no shortage of teams waiting to climb up into their spots, and certain ones took it upon themselves to prove their worth with big upsets.

All of the madness jostled up the new Top 25 rankings, so take a look below at the Associated Press Top 25, Amway Coaches Poll and Bleacher Report Top 25 before they get another face-lift next Saturday:

Last season, the opening weekend of October took what we thought we knew about the nation's top teams and turned it on its head. The same thing couldn't possibly happen again in 2015—could it?

In fact, that is what happened. While the top two teams in last week's AP and coaches polls—the Ohio State Buckeyes and Michigan State Spartans—were able to see off late tests from undermatched Big Ten opposition, the same couldn't be said for a number of Top 10 squads.

One of them was Ole Miss, who strolled into The Swamp and left licking its wounds. Two weeks after a convincing road win against the Alabama Crimson Tide, Ole Miss suffered a 38-10 defeat at the hands of the surprising Florida Gators.

Don't look now, but first-year head coach Jim McElwain has his Gators at 5-0 and peaking at the right time as they continue a brutal stretch of SEC play. Up next are the Missouri Tigers, one of Florida's prime foes in the SEC East, who will be without quarterback Maty Mauk, as Fox College Football noted:

On a less surprising note, the Clemson Tigers have risen into the Top 10 after their exciting home victory over Notre Dame. The Tigers held off a late rally from the Fighting Irish, keeping their undefeated season intact entering a tough stretch of the ACC schedule.

Up next for Clemson is one of its biggest remaining tests: a matchup against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. However, the Tigers may still be dancing after last Saturday's win, as their Twitter account showed:

Toss in Alabama's 38-10 walloping of Georgia on the road and the Iowa Hawkeyes' 10-6 slugfest victory over the Wisconsin Badgers (No. 19 in the AP poll at the time), and you have a Week 5 slate littered with upsets that shook up the Top 25 in a big way.

The unexpected has become expected in college football over the last couple of years, and the opening month-plus of the 2015 season has proved that to be true. As we gear up for a Week 6 slate that features only two bouts between Top 25 teams but plenty of chances for upsets, we could be in for more of the same.

One thing is certain: College football fans should be happy that the College Football Playoff exists. As hard as it would be to narrow this thing down to four teams, imagine how tough it'd be to find only two.

Read more College Football news on

Florida vs. Missouri Complete Game Preview

After blowing out No. 3 Ole Miss, Florida heads to Missouri in a spot both familiar and foreign—ranked No. 11 in the country and expected to win on the road.

Those descriptions were happenstance under former head coach Urban Meyer, but the Will Muschamp era saw the Gators decline into afterthoughts. Last year, for example, they lost 42-13 on their home field against the Tigers, the two-time reigning SEC East champs.

New head coach Jim McElwain has revitalized the program, developing freshman quarterback Will Grier, apparently, into a top-tier SEC passer while maintaining one of the nation's top defenses. The Gators needed luck to beat Tennessee two weeks ago, but 5-0 is 5-0.

This team is a legit SEC title contender, and if it beats Missouri on Saturday, exacting revenge for last year's homecoming nightmare, it will continue its sneaky run toward the College Football Playoff.

It's only been two years since a first-year head coach who previously served as an SEC offensive coordinator returned to the conference, survived early scares against average teams, won games with miracle fourth-down plays and steered his team within 13 seconds of winning the national title.

There's no ceiling on how far UF can go.


Date: Saturday, October 10

Time: 7:30 p.m. ET

Location: Memorial Stadium; Columbia, Missouri

TV: SEC Network

Line: Florida -4.5, according to Odds Shark

Begin Slideshow

Meet Coy Caldwell, the Perpetual Tailgater Living Every Fan's Dream

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The boats come and go, but Coy Caldwell's "Hawk's Nest" houseboat remains docked just outside the shadow of Neyland Stadium throughout the entire season. 

It's an annual rite of river passage in East Tennessee when dozens of boats travel the Tennessee River, which runs right by where the Volunteers play. They dock, party all weekend, watch UT play on Saturday, then head home the next day.

The phenomenon is known as the "Vol Navy," a college game-day experience unique to Knoxville. For Caldwell, a 64-year-old retired National Guard member, it never ends because he never leaves.

The South Knoxville native lives most of the year on his Lakeview houseboat docked 25 miles down the river in Louisville, Tennessee. But for nearly four months from August through November, he lives a Hail Mary from Neyland, anchored behind Calhoun's restaurant.

It's the ultimate Tennessee fan's dream.

"You can't beat it," Caldwell said. "I look forward to coming up here every year. To get to sit up here and watch the boats come and go every weekend, I've met a lot of friends. They all say, 'I want to be just like you.' So, that's the best thing.

"When I retired, I retired."

As the excitement of a Tennessee football Saturday stirs mere feet away, Caldwell sits on the deck of his houseboat, working a crossword with a beer koozie not far from his hand, just as calm as the river water surrounding him.

"Sometimes," Caldwell said, "I just watch the water go by. I just like to sit out here relaxing, thinking about the game, hoping we win."


Part of the pageantry

Caldwell's love affair with Tennessee football started years ago, regularly attending games before becoming a season ticket holder in 1982. 

When the annual Boomsday fireworks show began in Knoxville on Labor Day around 28 years ago, Caldwell would sit on the banks to watch the festivities, stealing gazes at the boats on the river and the endless party that seemed to go on.

"One of these days," he told himself, "I'm going to have me a boat and be right down there in the middle of it."

It didn't take him long after that to make his dream a reality.

"This is my 24th year doing this," he said recently. "I quite like it. There's no better way to spend a game day than this."

Caldwell has been going to Vols games this way for three decades. He got so hooked coming up from Chattanooga with buddies when he worked there that he decided in 1992 to buy a houseboat of his own.

He settled on a 1973 Stardust houseboat, and his pilgrimage to Knoxville was an annual event before and after 2004, when he missed the entire season while deployed in Iraq.

As a retirement present to himself in 2008, he had a custom-built Lakeview made, converting one of the four bedrooms into an extra closet and creating the ultimate Tennessee fan's rig. He flies a Vol Navy flag, and the interior walls are adorned with UT memorabilia.

So, while all the other boats come and go, Caldwell anchors down for the long haul. He's become a little piece of the pageantry and tradition that surrounds Tennessee football Saturdays.

"It's perfect for him," said Caldwell's girlfriend, Nancy Campbell. "It's the perfect living situation for a single guy. He built it just the way he wanted it.

"I love it. You can't beat the location, and the whole nine yards. It's a short walk to the stadium and a short walk back, and you don't have to battle traffic. It's a unique way to spend a football season."

You may think it gets boring sitting there on his boat all the time, but Caldwell is very active…when he wants to be.

While he admittedly likes to relax with his Publishers Clearing House TV-themed crossword puzzles, he says he plays golf two or three times a week.

He also rides his Harley-Davidson and spends nights tossing a few frothy beverages back mere steps away at Calhoun's, overlooking the river that doubles as his front yard.

Then, there's his 86-year-old mother, Helen, who lives in South Knoxville. She suffered a heart attack on July 3, and though it made for a rough summer, she has recovered and is doing well.

"It was touch and go there for about eight or 10 days, and we almost lost her that second night," Caldwell said. 

She's back to doing yard work around the house, though, and while Caldwell admittedly isn't much on partaking in manual labor after moving 200 tons of mulch the first summer after he retired, he said he'll help her out some or just pull up a lawn chair and watch. 

Caldwell's days are full, but there's one hobby in which he won't participate.

"Don't like fishing," he said. "For the simple reason of when you catch a fish, you have to set your beer down, and then you've got a fishy smell on your hand, and your beer smells like fish."


Tennessee through and through

Listen closely, and Caldwell will share his opinions on Tennessee football, but he isn't one of these fans who—pardon the pun—jumps off the deep end.

Still, he's not happy with the current 2-3 record.

"I'm still on board with [head coach] Butch [Jones], but I'm letting him know I'm pissed," he said, alluding to the "Power T" flag he's flying upside down on the back of his boat.

After plenty of years of boat parties, Caldwell takes it easier now. Normally, Nancy will join him for the game, and he may have another couple of friends come by depending on the matchup.

He enjoys the friends he sees every weekend, helping out as a bit of a security guard for the other boat owners. 

One boat he looks after is that of his "neighbor" on the water, Gary Moffatt, who normally comes up with crewmates Len and Edna Johnson.

"He always takes care of things," Moffatt said. "He lives down here, and we know we can count on him to watch the boat, and if something happens, he lets us know. He's the man who knows everything that's going on."

Moffatt's boat stays docked through the season, but he heads home every weekend. Not Caldwell. He remains through thick or thin, win or loss, rain or shine.

The Hawk's Nest can always be found in the same spot on a fall Saturday, as much of a constant as "Rocky Top," running through the "T" or the Vol Walk. He may not be a household name to most Vols fans, but Caldwell is the true personification of the Vol Navy.

The shadows lengthen. Caldwell folds his crossword puzzle and finishes his beer. As many others have already filed into Neyland to watch the Vols, Caldwell leaves about an hour before the game for his seats in Section JJ.

They aren't going anywhere. Neither is he.

"We don't get in no hurry," he said.

With a life like Caldwell leads, he wouldn't have it any other way.


All quotes gathered firsthand.

Brad Shepard covers SEC football and is the Tennessee lead writer for Bleacher Report. Follow Brad on Twitter @Brad_Shepard.

Read more College Football news on