NCAA Football News

B/R CFB Committee: Playoff Predictions Heading into Week 11

The second official playoff rankings of the 2015 college football season are set to be released Tuesday, and our experts are breaking down what you'll see.

How will Ohio State, Baylor, LSU, Clemson, Alabama and other contenders stack up in Tuesday's ranking?

Watch Bleacher Report College Football Analysts Barrett Sallee, Michael Felder and Adam Kramer discuss in the video above.

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Michigan vs. Indiana: Complete Game Preview

The No. 15 Michigan Wolverines will travel to challenge the Indiana Hoosiers on Saturday, Nov. 14, in Bloomington, Indiana.

Jake Rudock threw for a career-high 337 yards last time out, leading Michigan (7-2, 4-1 Big Ten) to a 49-16 dismantling of Rutgers. The Wolverines are still in the chase for the East Division crown, but they can't afford a letdown against the Hoosiers.

Indiana (4-5, 0-5 Big Ten) enters the clash as losers of five consecutive games, most recently falling 35-27 to undefeated Iowa. Jordan Howard racked up 189 total yards and two touchdowns in the loss.

According to Odds Shark, Michigan is an 11.5-point favorite. Depending on your local listing, ABC or ESPN2 will televise the 3:30 p.m. ET matchup.

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NCAA Football Rankings 2015: Week 11 Polls, Top 25 Standings and Analysis

There's a new No. 1 team in at least one Top 25 poll, and it didn't even take a big upset to make the change, as the rankings for Week 11 are producing some late-season shakeups before the final stretch.

It became apparent long before this weekend of action that we would see some considerable movement near the top with some mouthwatering Top 10 matchups between heavyweights on the slate. That's exactly what was produced, but that's not to say things are any easier to work out regarding College Football Playoff spots entering Tuesday's reveal.

With that in mind, let's look at how three of the major polls shook out entering Week 11.

If Saturday was supposed to be Clemson's last real hurdle before unofficially punching its ticket to the CFP, consider them over that hurdle.

The Tigers faced a very tough ask in Week 10, facing the Florida State Seminoles at home in a battle of ACC heavyweights. They won 23-13, getting a crucial fourth-down stop of Seminoles rusher Dalvin Cook when leading by just three points late in the game.

The gutsy victory has the Tigers jumping ahead of Ohio State, also unbeaten but perhaps less impressive throughout the season. Don't be surprised if Clemson cruises to the CFP because of it, as Chase Goodbread of noted:

Clemson is still undefeated and doesn't face a sizable test from here on out, but don't consider everyone sold on the Tigers just yet. With that in mind, Doug Gottlieb of CBS Sports offered a take that would suggest Clemson might be overrated:

The biggest shakeup, however, didn't involve either of the teams in the top two spots of the rankings.

Instead, it came in the Alabama Crimson Tide's convincing home victory over the LSU Tigers, previously ranked No. 2 in the first CFP standings of the season. The Heisman Trophy favorite running back wasn't the one who dominated, as Leonard Fournette's season-low 31 rushing yards made way for a monster game from Alabama's Derrick Henry.

Perhaps it's time to consider a rusher other than Fournette for the Heisman, as Matt Zenitz of noted Henry's success on the ground:

While the Tigers' first loss of the season may not have stunted their CFP hopes, that can't be said of another previously unbeaten to fall. The TCU Horned Frogs' unbeaten season ended at the hands of Oklahoma State, and the 49-29 defeat saw their ranking plummet.

November is a time in the college football season for the contenders to separate from the pretenders, and Saturday's action gave us a strong glimpse of which top teams were in either of those categories. But as we enter Week 11 and beyond, we're just getting started figuring out the answers.

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College Football Picks Week 11: Top 25 Rankings, Schedule, Odds and Predictions

After Week 10 of the college football season saw five undefeated teams in the Associated Press Top 25 poll go down, Week 11 should bring some stability to the rankings.

Per, 11 ranked teams opened as double-digit favorites, and another five are favored by at least a touchdown.

All Top 25 teams in action play Saturday, while the No. 23 Wisconsin Badgers are the only one off this week. Let's take a look at the rankings, odds, predicted winners and a few teams that might be able to buck the expected trend in Week 11 and pull off an upset:


Memphis Will Bounce Back

The previously undefeated Tigers were embarrassed Nov. 7 at home in a 45-20 loss to Navy. Yes, the Midshipmen are 7-1 and have a shot at playing in a "New Year's Six" bowl, but it was supposed to be Memphis in that position.

It was the Tigers offense, which had put up 40-plus points in six of its first eight games, that was supposed to lead the Tigers to an American Athletic Conference title. Instead, Navy ran for 374 yards and five touchdowns, using a triple-option Memphis could not stop.

Don't look for that to happen Week 11 when the No. 16 Houston Cougars come to town. At 9-0, they are now the favorite to win the AAC West division, although Navy may have something to say about that.

Houston's high-powered offense is averaging 44.4 points per game, but Memphis can one-up the Cougars with an average of 44.7. Houston's defense is only allowing about 19 points per game but has shown some signs of weakness.

Cincinnati scored 30 in a Week 10 loss to Houston, while 1-8 SMU put up 28 against the Cougars. Numbers never lie, but it will be something else that leads to a Memphis victory: Houston's catching the Tigers at the wrong time.

Memphis is too good to be embarrassed twice in a row at home. If Navy caught Memphis sleeping, Houston certainty won't. 

Cougars head coach Tom Herman already has addressed that point with his team, per Joseph Duarte of the Houston Chronicle:

Hearing it from a coach and actually making it happen are two different things. The difference will be the play of Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch.

He has shown he should at least be mentioned in the Heisman Trophy talk. The junior has thrown for 3,014 yards, 19 touchdowns and just two interceptions.

Houston struggled with Cincinnati's Gunner Kiel, allowing the quarterback to throw for 523 yards and four touchdowns. Herman said his team has to do better in the future, per

Hats off to them, that's an NFL quarterback throwing to probably a couple of NFL wide receivers. Obviously we've probably got to play better when faced with that. We were bringing a ton of stuff at them and couldn't get a ton of pressure and when we did we made it count.

Lynch certainly has taken note of Kiel's performance. Look for him to bounce back from a subpar performance against Navy and lead the Tigers to victory.

Memphis wins 31-28.


Time for an Arizona Upset

Utah was the darling of non-Power Five conference football midway through the season. After a 6-0 start, the Utes were ranked as high as third, and talk of a possible national championship season was circulating.

USC pretty much ended the discussion in Week 8 with a 42-24 victory over Utah. Still, at 5-1 in the Pac-12, the Utes control their own destiny in terms of winning the South division.

Devontae Booker has carried the team all season with 1,116 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground. In victories over Washington and Oregon State since the USC loss, Booker totaled 271 rushing yards and two touchdowns.

He's a star on a very good team. The Arizona Wildcats don't care.

They play host Nov. 14 to the Utes on senior night. 

At 5-5 with no marquee victory on the schedule, Arizona doesn't look on paper like a team ready to pull off an upset. Even so, opened the Wildcats as just 4.5-point underdogs despite playing host to the No. 10-ranked team in the country.

It may have something to do with the fact Arizona, under head coach Rich Rodriguez, has a knack for pulling off upsets.

In 2014, the Wildcats lost four games but won at No. 17 Utah and against No. 13 Arizona State.

In 2013, they were just 8-5 but upset No. 5 Oregon, 42-17, at home.

The year before, Rodriguez's first in Tuscon, they lost three straight games to ranked teams in the middle of the season. Despite limping to a 4-3 start, they beat No. 9 USC, 39-36, eventually winning a bowl game later in the season.

Jason Scheer of thinks it's time for Arizona to pick up that signature, upset victory:

Playing in front of a home crowd with bowl eligibility on the line, look for the Wildcats to come out on top and salvage their season. It's just what they do.

Arizona wins 41-35.


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College Football Rankings 2015: Week 11 Standings, Schedule and Predictions

The College Football Playoff race is heating up quickly, with multiple Week 11 games having a direct impact on significant conference races. 

The most high-profile games of the week feature ranked teams from the American Athletic Conference and the Big 12 going head-to-head on Saturday night. 

The updated polls and entire Week 11 schedule are below, followed by a breakdown of the most intriguing matchups of the weekend.

Due to an injury to Northwestern quarterback Clayton Thorson, no spread has been given for the Purdue/Northwestern game as of Monday morning, according to No against the spread pick has been made for this matchup.


Notable Games

No. 25 Memphis at No. 16 Houston (-6)

This would have been the game of the week and potentially a fun new environment for ESPN's College GameDay had Memphis taken care of Navy on Saturday. But after Memphis got thumped by the Midshipmen, this matchup lost much of its luster. 

While the national attention may be shifted elsewhere, this game still has significant implications in the American Athletic Conference, and potentially on the New Year's Six bowl selections. 

Despite Memphis' loss to Navy, the Tigers are still alive in the AAC race if they can knock off undefeated Houston. 

Since Houston and Navy still meet up in late November, it's possible for the three teams to finish in a tie, with all three suffering a loss to one of the others. 

If Houston wins, Memphis is effectively eliminated from the ACC race, narrowing the pool of potential teams to earn the automatic Group of Five bid to one of the New Year's Six bowl games. 

The highest-ranked team from the Group of Five conferences earns an invitation to one of the New Year's Six bowls (likely the Fiesta Bowl or Peach Bowl, due to their lack of conference affiliations). With AAC members Memphis, Houston, Temple and Navy all ranked in this week's AP poll, the AAC winner is likely to earn that spot.

Prediction: Houston 48, Memphis 41


No. 12 Oklahoma at No. 4 Baylor (-3.5)

Due to Memphis' slip-up, College GameDay will be headed to Baylor for what should be a raucous environment in Waco, Texas.

The Bears are 3-21 all-time against Oklahoma, but all three wins have come since 2011. 

In fact, over the past two seasons, Baylor has owned the Sooners, outscoring Bob Stoops' squad by a combined score of 89-26. 

Baylor enters this game with uncertainty at the quarterback position, however, as freshman Jarrett Stidham enters the biggest game of the Bears season with just one career start under his belt.

I can't speak for anyone else, but I thought Jarrett Stidham played great last run game, dropped balls...didn't bother him

— Joel Klatt (@joelklatt) November 6, 2015

Stidham threw for over 400 yards in Baylor's victory over Kansas State on Thursday but led the Bears to a season-low 31 points. 

Oklahoma's offense has been rolling, putting up 50 points in four straight games since its loss to Texas, creating the potential for a high-powered shootout in Waco on Saturday night. 

Prediction: Baylor 52, Oklahoma 45


Oregon at No. 7 Stanford (-7)

In recent years, it's been Stanford playing the role of spoiler in this matchup, but Oregon has a chance to return the favor on Saturday night. 

In 2012 and 2013, Stanford ended the Ducks' perfect season with a November upset. But now Stanford finds itself in the position of having to defend its home turf with a potential trip to the College Football Playoff on the line. 

A loss to Oregon would be devastating to the playoff hopes of Stanford, and the entire Pac-12 conference. 

With a two-game lead in the Pac-12 North division, Stanford would remain the heavy favorite to advance to the conference title game and likely the favorite to win the game over Utah, USC or UCLA representing the Pac-12 South. 

Should Stanford, or any other Pac-12 team, win the conference with two losses, the Pac-12 would almost certainly be shut out of the playoffs. 

With Vernon Adams, Oregon is a fringe top 25 team. Without him, they are probably not in the top 50.

— Bryan Fischer (@BryanDFischer) November 8, 2015

With a healthy Vernon Adams, Oregon appears to be back on track and capable of the upset. 

The Ducks have racked up over 100 points in their past two games against Arizona State and California, and could pose a threat to a Stanford defense that hasn't been as dominant as in seasons past. 

Prediction: Oregon 41, Stanford 38

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Tennessee Volunteers vs. North Texas Mean Green: Complete Game Preview

Well, it isn't a bye week per se, but the Tennessee Volunteers will get a breather this weekend when North Texas comes to Neyland Stadium for homecoming.

Without question, the Mean Green are one of the worst teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision, at 1-8 and having scored just 158 total points all year. Their average margin of defeat is 46-18.


Now, they've got to come to Knoxville to play an SEC team that had been rolling as of late prior to an uninspired 27-24 relief of a win over South Carolina on Saturday. The Vols have way too much talent for this to even be remotely close.

With the standard bumps and bruises prevalent across UT's roster, this may be a week where you see starters such as Joshua Dobbs and Jalen Hurd get a few series and then head to the sideline.

It's a good opportunity to get others like linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin, Cameron Sutton and Derek Barnett (among others) a week to rest with minimal snaps before the season's final two games against Missouri and Vanderbilt.

Extended breaks likely won't affect the outcome, and the Vols could use getting their youngsters some long looks to see who can help down the stretch. Tennessee could probably play a bunch of second-stringers for the entire game and win this one. 

Let's take a look at everything you need to know for homecoming.


Date: Saturday, Nov. 14

Time: Noon ET

Place: Neyland Stadium, Knoxville, Tennessee

TV: SEC Network

Radio: Vol Network, Mean Green Sports Radio

Spread: Vols by 40.5, according to Oddsshark.

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Bowl Predictions 2015: Complete CFP Projections After Week 10

Just when it seemed safe to assume how bowl season would look in college football this season, think again.

It's as topsy-turvy as ever. 

A national championship contender got demolished in Stillwater, Oklahoma. A team with the nation's best running back was kept in check. No one has any idea what's going to happen with the College Football Playoff field.

Let's try to figure that out. Here are your weekly bowl projections after Week 10's action.


Why Are We Not Talking About Clemson?

This is a thought that occurred to me on Saturday, after watching LSU/Alabama highlights: Is the world sleeping on the Clemson Tigers?

For a team ranked No. 1 in the country, there's more talk on the other three teams in the College Football Playoff picture than there are on the team that's actually ranked, well, No. 1.

But when you look at the grand scheme of things involving the Tigers, their resume consists of taking care of business and racking up signature wins. Clemson has allowed more than 24 points only once this year, and that was on Oct. 31 at North Carolina State.

Just when it seemed like the code for Clemson's defense had finally been cracked, they go back to Death Valley and hold the Florida State Seminoles to 13 points despite Dalvin Cook rushing for 194 yards.

And on the same weekend when Trevone Boykin and Leonard Fournette essentially lost all chances at the Heisman Trophy, no one is talking about the prospects of Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson being in the Heisman conversation.

Watson has completed an outstanding 69.7 percent of his passes to go with 21 touchdowns and only seven interceptions. He's also run for 493 yards on only 94 carries and four touchdowns. The star sophomore has become one of the most clutch and efficient quarterbacks in the country, per Clemson Football Sports Information Director Tim Bourret:

It's about time Clemson got some more consideration heading into January. The Tigers have three very winnable games left in Syracuse, Wake Forest and South Carolina. They should go into the ACC Championship Game undefeated, and the only tough challenge left would be in said title game against the North Carolina Tar Heels.

This Clemson team is for real and will be a problem for any team going into bowl season.


Oklahoma State a Playoff Threat

Think back to Sept. 27.

The Oklahoma State Cowboys should not have beaten the Texas Longhorns on that day. Texas punter Michael Dickson mishandled the snap, got off a 10-yard punt and gave Oklahoma State a chance to win. Kicker Ben Grogan hit the 41-yard field goal with six seconds left, and Oklahoma State survived and improved to 4-0.

Here we are, five weeks later, and Oklahoma State hasn't lost since. More importantly, they pulled off the most impressive win in college football this year, a 49-29 beatdown of the TCU Horned Frogs. The Cowboys picked off Trevone Boykin four times. Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Murphy threw for 352 yards on 24 passes and threw five touchdowns.

Oklahoma State has three games left against the Iowa State Cyclones, a Baylor Bears team in the midst of a drastic quarterback change and an Oklahoma Sooners team that has more questions than answers.

Three winnable games, a Big 12 title in their sights. The Cowboys are a true playoff team.

"There's a long ways to make up ground to get up there," Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said, per Cliff Brunt of the Associated Press. "Now, I'm not going to disregard that we're playing teams that are ranked high enough that we could make up some ground. But I just continue to stress for us, we have to practice well tomorrow."

Five weeks ago, TCU and Baylor were in the running for a spot in the College Football Playoff. The season finale between those two was supposed to be for the conference title. If Oklahoma State beats Iowa State and Baylor, that sets up a winner-take-all matchup with Oklahoma, if the Sooners beat TCU and Baylor in back-to-back weeks.

That win over TCU even got ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit thinking the Cowboys deserve to be in the College Football Playoff:

Five weeks ago, Oklahoma State was a fluke ranked team set to lose at any moment. Now, they're three very capable wins away from a Big 12 title and a spot in the Final Four.

The Cowboys are in the driver's seat.

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Tre Bryant to Nebraska: Huskers Land 3-Star RB Prospect

The Nebraska Cornhuskers shocked the nation with their 39-38 upset win over the Michigan State Spartans on Saturday, and they kept the momentum rolling on the recruiting trail Sunday.

Running back prospect Tre Bryant announced his decision to join Nebraska’s 2016 class on his Twitter page:

Bryant is a 3-star prospect, per 247Sports’ composite rankings, and the No. 41 running back in the 2016 class. The 5’10”, 195-pound back is also the No. 5 player in the state of Missouri and chose the Cornhuskers over the Kansas State Wildcats, Northwestern Wildcats, Minnesota Golden Gophers, Indiana Hoosiers, Syracuse Orange and Vanderbilt Commodores.

Bryant had committed to Kansas State earlier in the year, but he announced his decision to decommit Wednesday:

The running back took an official visit to Nebraska for Saturday’s win over Michigan State. The atmosphere during the victory over a Top 10 team must have impressed him, because he wasted little time in pledging to the Cornhuskers.

According to 247Sports, Bryant’s 40-yard-dash time is a solid but unspectacular 4.52 seconds. He is a bruising running back who breaks plenty of tackles and picks up difficult yardage through the middle instead of blazing past defenders on the outside.

Bryant is not the only running back in Nebraska’s 2016 class. Aphonso Thomas is another 3-star prospect who has committed to Nebraska, although he may be considering an offer from SMU. The Crystal Ball predictions on his 247Sports profile both predict he will end up with the Mustangs despite his verbal pledge to the Cornhuskers.

Bryant adds plenty of talent to the future Nebraska backfield, but he also serves as insurance in case the Cornhuskers miss out on Thomas.

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College Football Week 11 Odds: Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State Betting Favorites

Having jumped from No. 7 to No. 3 in the latest Associated Press Top 25 rankings, the Alabama Crimson Tide will be looking to keep their momentum this week as one of the notable road favorites on the opening college football Week 11 betting lines at sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark.

The Crimson Tide proved the oddsmakers right over the weekend, thumping the LSU Tigers 30-16 and covering the 7.5-point spread at the sportsbooks against a school that was above them in the rankings. The Tigers dropped from No. 4 to No. 9 in the AP Top 25 with the loss.

Alabama is now 8-1 straight up and 4-5 against the spread on the season, with its blemish coming back on September 19 when it fell 43-37 to Ole Miss as a nine-point favorite. Since that defeat, the Crimson Tide have gone 6-0 SU while covering the spread three times.

For this week, Alabama opened as a seven-point road favorite against Mississippi State, a school it's beaten seven times in a row straight up dating back to 2008. The Crimson Tide, however, are just 1-3 ATS in their last four games against the Bulldogs, according to the Odds Shark College Football Database, and 1-6-1 ATS in their last eight games on the road in the month of November.

Meanwhile, Clemson is now the No. 1 team in the AP Top 25 on the strength of its 23-13 win over Florida State over the weekend, and the Tigers are another ranked road favorite on the Week 11 college football schedule, as they're favored by 26.5 points at Syracuse. The Tigers are a perfect 9-0 SU and 5-4 ATS on the season.

Former No. 1 Ohio State, now at No. 2 in the AP Top 25, opened as a 16-point road favorite against Illinois for the week ahead. The Buckeyes are 9-0 SU but just 3-6 ATS on the season, and they're coming off a 28-14 win over Minnesota in which they failed to cover a 23.5-point spread at home. Ohio State is just 2-6 ATS over its last eight games.

Elsewhere, Notre Dame opened as a 27-point home favorite against Wake Forest for Week 11, while LSU opened as a nine-point home favorite against Arkansas, Baylor opened as a six-point home favorite against Oklahoma and Iowa opened as an 11-point home favorite against Minnesota.

And Michigan State opened as a 16-point home favorite against Maryland for the week ahead, with the Spartans falling to 8-1 SU and 2-7 ATS on the season with a 39-38 loss at Nebraska over the weekend as a four-point favorite. The Spartans are 5-2 SU in their last seven games after losing as a favorite on the betting lines.

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Alabama Football: How Crimson Tide's Top Commits Performed This Weekend

The Alabama Crimson Tide served up a statement Saturday evening with a commanding victory over SEC rival LSU.

Head coach Nick Saban's squad is looking strong as the College Football Playoff picture develops. It's a roster fueled by five consecutive top-ranked recruiting classes, as promising blue-chip prospects have become reliable college stars. 

Alabama is well on its way toward solidifying future talent hauls, holding top-five classes in both the 2016 and 2017 cycles. While current Crimson Tide players excelled in the national spotlight Saturday, eventual Alabama playmakers provided impressive glimpses of their potential during recent high school competition. 

A pair of passers particularly shined.

Jalen Hurts, one of three 4-star Texas prospects in Saban's 2016 class, suffered a defeat Friday night but the Channelview High School quarterback was sensational. He tallied seven total touchdowns in a 55-49 loss to La Porte High School, according to Brian Perroni of 247Sports.

The 6'2", 208-pound senior completed 19 passes for 358 yards and three scores. Hurts also did damage as a rusher, gaining 132 yards and four touchdowns on the ground. 

Rated No. 5 nationally among dual-threat quarterbacks in composite rankings, Hurts is one of two top-tier players pledged to Alabama at the position. Jake Fromm, a 4-star Georgia product, committed to the Crimson Tide in October. 

Fromm, who stands 6'3", 220 pounds as a junior at Houston County High School, helped his team secure a No. 1 seed in the state playoffs with three touchdown tosses, according to Michael Lough of The Telegraph. He racked up 387 yards on 26 pass completions, propelling Houston County to a 34-13 win over Northside High School.

Rated No. 9 among 2017 pro-style quarterbacks, Fromm is highly accomplished at the high school level. He's collected 7,618 passing yards and 64 touchdowns since 2013, per MaxPreps

Alabama already has the makings of a dynamic offensive backfield in its 2017 class. Along with Fromm, California running back Najee Harris consistently commands attention.

The 6'2", 220-pound rusher is a 5-star recruit rated No. 1 overall among 2017 running backs. Harris erupted for 268 rushing yards and four scores Saturday, according to The Chronicleleading Antioch High School to a league title. 

His performance featured three touchdowns and 126 yards in the fourth quarter alone. It's the fifth time this season Harris has gained at least 200 rushing yards, per MaxPreps, and he's surpassed 2,000 yards for a second-straight year.

B.J. Emmons, another Crimson Tide running back, also enjoyed a big game this weekend. The Freedom High School (North Carolina) senior, rated No. 3 nationally among 2016 prospects at the position, further padded his impressive prep stats. 

He rushed for 185 yards and two touchdowns in a Friday night victory over Patton High School, according to The News HeraldEmmons added two special teams scores, returning a punt and kickoff to the end zone.

Current Crimson Tide running back Derrick Henry continues to emerge as the latest Heisman Trophy candidate in Alabama's offensive backfield. Emmons and Harris appear well-equipped to maintain a successful rushing attack in Tuscaloosa for years to come.


Tyler Donohue is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. All player ratings are courtesy of 247Sports' composite ratings. Follow Tyler via Twitter: @TDsTake.


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College Football's All-Week 10 First Team: Top Performers at Every Position

If Week 10 was any indication, the month of November is going to be filled with even more amazing college football performances in a season that has already been quite incredible.

This past weekend's stacked card of heavyweight conference bouts featured record-breaking games, downright-absurd offensive stat lines and ferocious defensive performances.

For example, Alabama took control of the SEC West race with several standout performers from all three phases of play. Oklahoma State produced big play after big play on both sides of the ball, and one of the nation's most prolific offenses found a way to exceed its highest standards in a massive win.

As is the case every Sunday afternoon, here is this week's All-American team in college football. These players are picked by their dominance of the weekly statistical leaderboards, with extra attention given to those who stood out in high-profile games—and there were quite a few of those in Week 10.

Plenty of notable names just missed the cut, so feel free to shout out your favorite performances from this past week in the comments below.

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Michigan Football: How Wolverines' Top Commits Performed This Weekend

Future Michigan Wolverines players continue to post impressive efforts in high school action across America. 

Members of the program's 2016 and 2017 recruiting classes came up big for their respective squads in key situations. State title pursuits have entered a pivotal stage and several Wolverines commits proved they're up to the task. 

Indiana quarterback Brandon Peters picked apart opponents throughout a thrilling overtime victory in postseason action. The 6'5", 205-pound Elite 11 finalist, pledged to Michigan since April, spearheaded Avon High School's 37-34 win over defending state champion Cathedral High School.

He completed 18 pass attempts for 236 yards and three touchdowns, according to Paul Shepherd of the Indianapolis Star. Peters, who also considered scholarship offers from LSU, Nebraska and Wisconsin, added a two-yard scoring run. 

Avon claimed its first regional title in a decade when he fired a game-winning 10-yard touchdown strike.

“I was thinking I need to go score for my team. Let's get this win and move on to the next one," Peters told Shepherd.

The 4-star prospect, rated No. 7 nationally among pro-style quarterbacks in 2016 composite rankings, has reached new heights as a senior. He has thrown 35 touchdowns and just five interceptions through 12 games this fall, per MaxPreps, leading Avon to 10 victories.

Peters has completed 60 percent of passes for a career-best 2,803 yards. The performance against Cathedral was his seventh this season that featured at least 230 passing yards. 

Fellow 2016 Wolverines commit Ahmir Mitchell also made an impact as his team achieved a season-long goal. Cedar Creek High School (New Jersey) captured a conference championship Friday night with a 41-6 win over Pleasantville High School, according to the Press of Atlantic City.

Mitchell recorded a 12-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter, helping Cedar Creek set the tone for a commanding performance. Rated No. 9 nationally among "athletes", he's projected to play wide receiver in Ann Arbor but a future at safety remains possible.

A pair of Michigan running back commits also showed off their skills in recent matchups.

Kingston Davis, a 6'1", 225-pound battering ram from Prattville High School in Alabama, set a program record for single-season rushing yards in his final game. He rushed for 180 yards and two touchdowns in a 34-7 victory over Valley High School, according to Ethan Bernal of the Montgomery Advertiser.

Davis gained 1,650 yards on the ground as a senior, establishing a new high mark for Prattville. He rushed for more than 3,000 yards as an upperclassman. 

Kurt Taylor, the top-rated member of Michigan's 2017 class, scored a rushing touchdown for Newton High School (Georgia) during a 42-0 win over Rockdale High School, according to Manny Fils of the Newton Citizen. The junior now has 10 scores on the ground since October started, per MaxPreps.

Taylor, a 5'9", 200-pound playmaker, surpassed 1,000 rushing yards this season entering November.


Tyler Donohue is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. All player ratings are courtesy of 247Sports' composite ratings. Follow Tyler via Twitter: @TDsTake.

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College Football Rankings 2015: Hits and Misses from the Week 11 Polls

And then there were six. 

The first week in November was especially unkind to undefeated teams across college football, as five unbeatens—LSU, Memphis, Michigan State, TCU and Toledo—lost. In one way, that makes the playoff picture clearer. It also makes you wonder what will happen if more unbeaten teams fall. Mathematically, that's bound to happen at least once, as Oklahoma State and Baylor play in a couple of weeks. 

In the meantime, it's time to take stock of where teams are ranked in the USA Today Amway Coaches Poll and the Associated Press Top 25 ahead of the playoff committee's rankings on Tuesday. 

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

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College Football Rankings 2015: Week 11 AP and Amway Standings Revealed

Now that the college football world can expect an update to the all-important College Football Playoff rankings each week, the Amway Coaches and AP polls lose a bit of their luster. To be sure, they'll still provide plenty of debate fodder, but the Sunday releases will now be viewed with the CFP list in mind.

Essentially, they become a teaser of what fans might expect when the committee finishes its weekly deliberating. 

With that in mind, don't expect too much upheaval at the top. Clemson, Ohio State, Baylor and Alabama all rolled to wins in Week 10 and are in the top four in both the AP and Amway Coaches polls. The Buckeyes maintain their hold on the top spot in the Amway Coaches poll while Clemson pips them in the AP. The Tigers came into the week No. 1 in the CFP rankings and defeated a ranked ACC rival in Florida State, 23-13, on Saturday.

Here's a look at the AP, Amway Coaches and Bleacher Report Week 11 rankings.

Alabama ruined LSU's playoff chances (for now) with a resounding 30-16 victory on Saturday. It would take a militaristic, highly disciplined Nick Saban defense to finally stop Leonard Fournette, who picked up just 31 rushing yards and one touchdown, snapping a string of nine-straight 100-yard rushing games for the Heisman candidate dating back to last season. Saban praised the overall team effort, via The Times Picayune's Jeff Duncan

I'm really proud of our team. We asked our guys to go out and dominate their box and win their one-on-one battles. They did everything we asked them to do. I thought it was really important that we could control the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. That was really a well-played game by our team. It was really a great team win.

LSU was No. 4 in the AP and Amway polls last week and is now likely going to be on the outside looking in for the playoffs unless chaos comes to the end of the season. Don't be surprised if the unrelenting Crimson Tide get another SEC Championship and find themselves in the CFP.

Michigan State's controversial 39-38 loss to Nebraska is a true heartbreaker and a result that gives the undefeated teams at the top some breathing room in the polls.

Cornhuskers wideout Brandon Reilly hauled in the game-winning touchdown with 17 seconds left, a score that stood even though the replay showed his route briefly took him out of bounds, seemingly under his own power. This would've made him an ineligible receiver, but the officials ruled that MSU cornerback Jermaine Edmonson pushed him out.

It's a gut-punch loss for the Spartans, who likely needed to stay undefeated to have a chance at the playoff.

Power further consolidated at the top with TCU losing to Oklahoma State, 49-29. USA Today's Erick Smith considers them one of the big losers of Week 10:

Injuries and inexperience finally caught up to the Horned Frogs. A depleted defense that struggled on the road most of the season was picked apart by Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph. Unlike previous games, Trevone Boykin wasn’t able to overcome the deficit, especially with star wide receiver Josh Doctson sidelined. Boykin instead had his worst game with fourth interceptions. All hope is not lost for TCU with Big 12 games remaining against Oklahoma and Baylor, but it will need help even if it runs the table.

This makes the end-of-season matchup between the Horned Frogs and Baylor especially intriguing. Baylor is playing with backup quarterback Jarrett Stidham in the wake of Seth Russell's season-ending neck injury, and TCU is talented enough to defeat its rivals if Stidham isn't up to the task. 

The Bears did get a heartening performance from Stidham in a 31-24 win over Kansas State on Thursday, although it should be noted that point total was a season low, a significant decline for a team that had scored at least 56 points in its first six games of the year.

Stidham threw for 419 yards and three touchdowns. Much of that went to Corey Coleman, as good a crutch as any to lean on for a QB thrown into the fire. Coleman tallied 11 catches for 216 yards and two scores. His importance to the offense cannot be understated.'s Max Olson noted he's a more prolific scorer on his own than several college programs: 

Coleman deserves some of the Heisman chatter that surrounded Amari Cooper last season.

The current top four will very likely end up as the top dogs in the upcoming CFP poll in some order. Alabama's toughest remaining regular-season game is the Iron Bowl with Auburn. Ohio State's road is much dicier, as the Buckeyes finish the season against the hard-luck Spartans and a resurgent Michigan team. Clemson should cruise to finish the line, while Baylor's hopes depend on continued strong play from Stidham.

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AP College Football Poll 2015: Complete Week 11 Rankings Released

Last week, the College Football Playoff committee spurned multiple unbeaten teams to throw Alabama in its initial Top Four. After Alabama's emphatic victory over LSU on Saturday, the Associated Press now agrees.

The Crimson Tide moved up to No. 3 in the latest poll, coming in behind new No. 1 Clemson and No. 2 Ohio State. Baylor slides from No. 2 to No. 4 while Oklahoma State moves into the fifth spot to round out the Top Five. Iowa brings up the rear of the unbeatens at No. 8. Here is how the Top 25 played out:

Clemson, which ranked No. 1 in the initial playoff rankings, ascends to the top spot in the AP poll after a 23-13 win over Florida State. The Tigers end the season with three winnable games against Syracuse, Wake Forest and South Carolina, so it'd be a surprise if they didn't at least enter the ACC title game unbeaten.

Alabama now sits in the driver's seat for a playoff berth after a 30-16 win over LSU that wasn't even as close as the score indicates. Derrick Henry rushed for 210 yards and three touchdowns, helping the Tide control the clock for nearly 40 minutes as their defense showed up in a big way.

LSU running back Leonard Fournette, who came into the week as the runaway Heisman favorite, left in danger of losing the trophy after a 31-yard day. Tigers quarterback Brandon Harris completed as many passes (six) as Alabama quarterback Jake Coker missed.

Alabama middle linebacker Reggie Ragland discussed how the Tide stymied Fournette, per Michael Casagrande of

The guys in the locker room were like "Man, I'm tired of hearing about this guy." We have to go out there and do something. He's a heck of a player. He tried to make a play at the end. He scored, but before that, guys were getting up to him. He's a heck of a player like I said and it's hard to stop a guy like that. I'm glad I have the guys that I have in the locker room and they held it to theirselves. We're not going to let him do this.

Adam Jacobi noted Alabama's dominance even before this week:

The loss drops LSU to No. 9. While Les Miles' team will have an uphill climb to get back in the committee's good graces, they finish with three winnable games, including contests with Ole Miss and Texas A&M. Depending on what happens around the country, it would be hard to ignore a one-loss LSU squad.

Of course, getting into the playoff with one loss got a lot easier Saturday with losses by TCU and Michigan State. The Horned Frogs, ranked fifth in last week's AP poll, take a nosedive to No. 13 after their 49-29 loss to Oklahoma State. Mason Rudolph threw five touchdowns and James Washington came down with three of them as the Cowboys led 42-16 heading into the fourth quarter.

"I have some good friends that hang out at the house all the time. And that's all they want to talk about, how we get disrespected," Oklahoma State quarterback J.W. Walsh said of the playoff rankings, per Brandon Chatmon of "We just tell them 'Look, we have TCU this week, Iowa State next week.' We go week by week and don't worry about it. But they just want to keep bringing it up."

While TCU went down in a battle of the unbeatens, Michigan State's-no show against Nebraska was the week's most inexplicable loss. The Cornhuskers entered the week 3-6 and losers of four of their five Big Ten games. They responded by putting up 39 points on the Spartans defense, with quarterback Tommy Armstrong accounting for four touchdowns.

It's worth noting that the last of those scores, a 30-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Reilly, is mired in controversy. Replay clearly showed Reilly stepping out of bounds without assistance from the defensive back before catching the ball, making him ineligible to be the first pass-catcher to touch the ball. However, officials claimed he was forced out and upheld the touchdown ruling.

Mike Greenberg of ESPN wasn't happy with the ruling:

The result was an eight-spot drop to No. 14 for the Spartans, tied with TCU for the second-biggest descent; Memphis dropped 10 places to No. 25 after losing at home to Navy. Oklahoma State's seven-spot leap was by far the largest among teams ranked inside the Top 25 last week.

Overall, three teams moved out of the rankings. Ole Miss was sent packing after a 53-52 loss to Arkansas, Texas A&M is gone after a 26-10 loss to Auburn and Toledo fell out of the rankings after Northern Illinois ended its unbeaten run. Navy, Wisconsin and Northwestern replaced them in the Top 25.


Follow Tyler Conway (@tylerconway22) on Twitter

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Amway College Football Poll 2015: Complete Week 11 Rankings Released

We're coming down the stretch of the college football season, and the stakes continue to rise as teams look to prove their worth with the postseason beckoning. This weekend was certainly a memorable one in that regard, as a few teams polished their resumes, while a few more suffered what could prove to be crippling losses. 

Let's take a look at how both the coaches and Bleacher Report polls were altered due to the Week 10 results, along with a look back at the weekend that was.




Three more teams dropped from the ranks of the unbeaten Saturday, as the playoff picture came into clearer view after a wild weekend. 

In the premier matchup, Alabama took another step toward eradicating an early-season loss to Ole Miss, beating LSU 30-16. Running back Derrick Henry stole the show, rushing 38 times for 210 yards and three touchdowns while overshadowing Heisman front-runner Leonard Fournette, who was held to just 31 yards on 19 carries by the Crimson Tide defense.

"We didn't play perfectly but I thought it was really important that we could control the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, and we did a really good job of that," Alabama head coach Nick Saban said after the game, per ESPN.

Henry wasn't interested in comparing himself to Fournette, meanwhile.

"Too much talk about Fournette and me," he said after his huge performance. "I'm just trying to win with the Crimson Tide."

His teammates were more apt to make that comparison, however, as Stewart Mandel of Fox Sports noted:

More importantly for Alabama, though, the win put the Crimson Tide atop the SEC West and in the driver's seat to reach the conference title game. Games against Mississippi State and Auburn are far from gimmes—and a likely matchup against Florida in the title game should be excellent—but the Crimson Tide appear to be in the driver's seat for another berth in the College Football Playoff.

Clemson is in the same boat after beating Florida State on Saturday, 23-13, behind a suffocating defense and another strong game from quarterback Deshaun Watson. It will be a heavy favorite in upcoming games against Syracuse, Wake Forest and South Carolina, while the ACC Coastal winner will provide more of a challenge but shouldn't knock off the talented Tigers.

Two prominent teams took a step in the wrong direction over the weekend, meanwhile, as Michigan State lost to Nebraska in the waning moments, 39-38, while TCU was overmatched against Oklahoma State, 49-29, in a game that left Baylor and the Cowboys fighting for the Big 12 crown. 

It also left Clemson, Ohio State, Baylor, Iowa, Oklahoma State and Houston as the nation's last remaining undefeated teams, with Alabama looking like the strongest of the one-loss teams. Saturday, then, seemed to clear up the college playoff picture in a neat and tidy fashion, as Ralph D. Russo of the Associated Press tweeted:

This season hasn't exactly gone as predicted, of course, and much could change in the final weeks. Certainly, much will be decided next week, as Alabama will look to hold off Mississippi State, Houston will face its biggest test of the season against a very good Memphis team and Baylor will host Oklahoma in what should prove to be one of the season's more exciting shootouts and certainly will be the weekend's showcase matchup. 

Baylor fans might want to buckle in over the next three weeks, as the Bears still have matchups against Oklahoma State and TCU to follow a tough contest against the Sooners. The Big 12 will be decided in those contests and, with it, one of the playoff spots, barring a surprise in the rankings. 

But hey, surprises are what we love about college football in the first place, right? 

They certainly are what we've been given an abundance of this year.


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Oklahoma State QB Commit Nick Starkel Throws for over 500 Yards, 5 TDs

Oklahoma State has enjoyed a strong run on the field and is creeping into the College Football Playoff conversation, especially after Saturday’s win over Big 12 juggernaut TCU. 

Cowboys head coach Mike Gundy and his staff are also getting it done on the recruiting trail.

The best example of that is the performance of 3-star quarterback and current Cowboys pledge Nick Starkel on Friday night.

According to Jordan Ottaway of the Denton Record-Chronicle, Starkel lit it up in leading Argyle Liberty Christian School to a 50-8 win over Plano John Paul II.

The 6’3”, 186-pounder completed 26 of 36 passes for 503 yards with five touchdowns and only one interception.

As Ottaway noted, Starkel’s scoring strikes covered 74, 62, 12, 87 and 38 yards.

The potential quarterback of the future for the Cowboys program threw for 297 yards in the first half to help the Warriors jump out to a 17-0 halftime lead.

Starkel and the Warriors put the foot on the gas in the second half, scoring 33 points in the third quarter to run away with the team’s sixth win.

“Nick is going to complete passes if we protect him,” Liberty head coach Barton Hundley told Ottaway. “Our offensive line did an excellent job of protecting him.”

Overall, it was the type of performance that illustrated how Starkel could fit into Gundy’s high-powered attack in Stillwater. 

As Bleacher Report’s Michael Felder noted, the strong points of Starkel’s game appear to merge perfectly with what Gundy looks for in his quarterbacks.

The nation’s No. 20 pro-style passer in the 2016 class has consistently displayed a quick release, the ability to get passes off with varying release points and his elusiveness in the pocket.

For Starkel, his stellar play in his senior season is a continuation of what was a strong offseason that saw him earn a trip to the finals of the Elite 11 competition.

As Bleacher Report’s Damon Sayles detailed, Starkel has a big fan in Elite 11 head coach Trent Dilfer—who said Starkel reminds him of current Texas Tech quarterback Davis Webb.

"He's my Davis Webb. He's a guy who maybe people were wondering if he'd be good,” Dilfer told Sayles. “He's going to not just be good, but he's going to be great. He has the frame, he has the mind and he has the release. The sky's the limit for this kid."

With the package of attributes Starkel will bring to Stillwater, Cowboys fans have plenty of reasons to be excited about his future in the program.


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 Playoff 2015: Latest NCAA Predictions After Week 10 Standings

Just one week into the College Football Playoff rankings, the Top Four will be shaken up thanks to No. 4 Alabama's convincing victory over No. 2 LSU. 

Losses by Michigan State and TCU will also shake up the Top 10, giving the playoff committee plenty to discuss in this week's meeting.

The New Year's Six bowl projections have been slightly altered this week, but plenty more changes are sure to come as teams such as Baylor and Ohio State face their toughest tests of the season in the coming weeks.


Notable Teams


After dominating Leonard Fournette and LSU, Alabama is in sole possession of first place in the SEC West and has a clear path to the playoffs. 

Alabama will move up at least one spot in the playoff rankings, surpassing LSU and potentially overtaking Ohio State.

If the results hold, my predicted College Football Playoff standings: 1. Alabama 2. Alabama 3. Alabama 4. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

— Brian Hamilton (@BrianHamiltonSI) November 8, 2015

While the path appears to be clear for Alabama to reach the playoffs, it's worth noting that the remainder of the Crimson Tide's SEC games will be away from home. 

Alabama travels to Mississippi State and Auburn to wrap up the SEC regular season, followed by the SEC title game. An upset loss in any of those games would dramatically shake up the playoff picture. 

Nick Saban is just 2-2 at Auburn as Alabama's head coach, and the Tide have lost at least one SEC road game in each of the past two seasons.



Florida State gave Clemson a scare, but once again the Tigers came out on top and are in position to cruise into the playoffs. 

Clemson's remaining regular-season opponents have a combined 9-18 record this season, which should allow the Tigers to remain undefeated heading into the ACC title game. 

With victories against Florida State and Notre Dame, Clemson is comfortably in position to cruise into the playoffs should it remain undefeated. 

Potentially an undefeated Ohio State team could jump Clemson in the rankings by season's end, after knocking off Michigan State and Michigan. But it's difficult to imagine the Tigers falling further than No. 2 should they keep winning, especially since every team in the SEC now has at least one loss.


Notre Dame

Due to the loss of No. 2 LSU, we're about to find out just how much the playoff committee respects one-loss Notre Dame. 

The Irish were ranked fifth in the initial poll, directly in front of four undefeated teams, due to their impressive strength of schedule. But Baylor, which plays a back-loaded schedule in the Big 12, is expected to continue to rise.

Notre Dame appears to be positioned to rise into the Top Four this week, but the committee may be setting Irish fans up for disappointment. If Baylor runs the table with wins against TCU, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, the undefeated Bears would likely climb ahead of Notre Dame. 

The good news for the Irish, however, is they still have one more opportunity to make a statement with a trip to Stanford in their season finale. 


Oklahoma State

For much of the season, it was assumed the loser of the Baylor/TCU game would slide into the Sugar Bowl. Oklahoma State's upset of TCU, however, now puts the Cowboys in position to battle Baylor for the Big 12 title. 

The Cowboys will certainly be underdogs against Baylor, but they have the advantage of playing at home against the Bears and in their season finale against Oklahoma. 

One thing nobody had ever really considered — what if Oklahoma State is actually the best team in the Big 12?

— Jake Trotter (@Jake_Trotter) November 7, 2015

Even with a loss to Baylor, if Oklahoma State can hold off the rival Sooners, the Cowboys would likely become the Big 12 representative in New Orleans at the Sugar Bowl. 

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After Shakeup Saturday, Can Anyone in College Football Go Undefeated?

Let's make one thing abundantly clear: It doesn't matter who you are, how talented your team is, who your coach is, what conference you play in or what your strength of schedule is. The most difficult thing to do in college football is go undefeated, and there aren't enough italicized fonts in the world capable of stressing that point enough. 

So much has to go right for a team to go unbeaten. At the core, a team made up of 18-to-22-year-old players has to be perfect (or nearly perfect) every week. And so we ask: Can anyone in college football make it through the regular season unscathed?

The list of teams with the capability and the remaining schedule to remain unbeaten starts, and perhaps ends, with Clemson. If J.T. Barrett returns as Ohio State's starting quarterback, the Buckeyes could be added to that short list as well.

As for the Tigers, they are the No. 1 team in the land, with legitimate reason. In a season with no elite teams, Clemson is arguably the most complete. That's the most anyone can realistically expect out of a college football team this year.

Week 10 of the 2015 college football season was a sobering reminder of that fact. LSU, Memphis, Michigan State and TCU all lost on Saturday, and all had College Football Playoff aspirations. That list of fallen unbeatens doesn't even include previously undefeated Toledo, which lost to Northern Illinois 32-27 on Tuesday—the same night the playoff selection committee released its first Top 25.

If seeing is believing, then J.B. Long of the Pac-12 Networks provides a solid visual of what happened this week: 

Furthermore, of the six unbeaten teams remaining—Clemson, Ohio State, Baylor, Iowa, Oklahoma State and Houston—as many as four (Iowa vs. Ohio State, Baylor vs. Oklahoma State) still have to face one another. The Buckeyes also have back-to-back games against Michigan State and Michigan, who are a combined 15-3. 

Houston has a difficult November, too, with games against Memphis and Navy, though the Cougars do get both teams at home. As Andy Staples of Sports Illustrated tweeted, the odds of four teams finishing the regular season unscathed and providing clarity to the committee are, in a word, low: 

Clemson has by far the easiest path to the playoff, but the Tigers have shown signs of vulnerability all the same. The stiff defense, which has ranked No. 1 nationally in several key categories, was burned on multiple occasions in a 56-41 win over North Carolina State two weeks ago. Still, the Tigers found a way to respond offensively to the Wolfpack's surges every time.

The game against Florida State on Saturday was won in nearly polar opposite fashion. In a low-scoring, hard-hitting struggle, Clemson needed 10 fourth-quarter points while shutting out FSU to pull away. 

It's not always going to be easy for college football's best teams. In fact, the lack of a dominant team almost ensures there will be a number of close calls. The truly important factor for remaining undefeated teams is asking a simple question with a difficult answer: Can you find a way to win when it matters?

That's something Clemson coach Dabo Swinney commented on after beating the Seminoles: 

There's no room for fans to be incredulous about Swinney's comments. College football is so unpredictable that it's only natural we see a different team fall every week. Oklahoma's awful loss to Texas becomes even more inexplicable when you notice that the Sooners have been among the more impressive-looking teams since. The possibility of the Sooners winning the Big 12 remains real. 

Florida housed Ole Miss at home in early October and then barely survived Vanderbilt a month later. Stanford lost to Northwestern in Week 1 yet could be the best one-loss team in college football. 

Who knows with these teams?

And who knows with Clemson? The remaining schedule of Syracuse, Wake Forest and South Carolina looks more than passable, but what if the Gamecocks play rivalry spoiler for the ages? What if, heaven forbid, Tigers quarterback Deshaun Watson gets hurt?

Baylor, for example, must navigate its remaining schedule, easily the hardest in college football, without quarterback Seth Russell. True freshman Jarrett Stidham looked more than capable of leading the offense against Kansas State Thursday evening, but the Bears defense was so bad against the run that the Bears seem just as beatable as any other undefeated team. 

Remember when Bleacher Report's Adam Kramer told everyone to relax and that the playoff rankings would sort themselves out? Well, it didn't even take a week for some of that cannibalization to begin. 

Who are we to say Week 10 will be the only time that happens? That's a ton of meaningful football left to be played, and someone has to lose. 


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

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Jeremy Johnson Saving Auburn's Season Creates Big QB Battle This Offseason

Had I told you two months ago that quarterback Jeremy Johnson would play a big part in saving Auburn's season in mid-November, you probably would have told me that I was crazy.

And maybe some other, more colorful thing.

Yet here we are, with Johnson—who had been benched since Week 3 save for a few snaps as a changeup quarterback—serving as Auburn's (5-4, 2-4 SEC) savior during Saturday night's 26-10 win at No. 19 Texas A&M.

His stat line (13-for-17 for 132 yards and a touchdown) doesn't exactly jump off the page. Make no mistake, though: By starting the game 9-for-9 with a touchdown and leading his team on two straight touchdown drives to open the game, he allowed Auburn to control the game early.

It never let up.

"That's how it was supposed to have been," Johnson said, according to Charles Goldberg of Auburn's official site. "My teammates believed in me whether I was sitting or starting. They've been telling me all week, and in the locker room before the game, 'I believe in you.' I just took that to heart."

That creates quite an interesting scenario on the Plains not only during the month of November but in bowl practices Auburn likely earned due to Johnson leading his team to win No. 5 in College Station—and a sure-fire win with Idaho left on the schedule.

Despite a 2-3 record as a starter, redshirt freshman Sean White has been pretty solid in a pinch and has progressed nicely as Auburn established an offensive identity when it needed it most.

Before being forced out of action on Saturday with various lingering injuries, White had completed 74 of his 125 passes for 1,063 yards, one score and had been plagued by his receivers having stone hands.

While Johnson's game vs. Texas A&M was solid, White has done enough to avoid being "Wally Pipp'ed" and losing his job due to injury down the stretch this year.

The battle at quarterback during bowl practices and this offseason in Auburn, though, got cranked up a notch this week. A loose Johnson looked good on the road in a tough environment in a pinch, and that could be the first step toward realizing potential that was discussed prominently last offseason.

"That's the biggest thing I was missing at the beginning of the season," he said, according to Goldberg. "I was just too uptight. Keeping a smile on my face made things better."

So what will Auburn do?

Head coach Gus Malzahn and offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee likely have to get both reps during the final three games vs. Georgia, Idaho and Alabama so they can hit the ground running in bowl practices.

There's another curveball coming to the Plains, too.

The Tigers got a commitment from junior college dual-threat stud John Franklin III this week. The former Florida State and current East Mississippi Community College standout threw seven touchdowns, tossed two picks, rushed for 451 yards and nine touchdowns in nine games, according to

As Kevin Scarbinsky of noted last week, Franklin—who acted as former Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall on Florida State's scout team in December 2013 leading up to the 2014 BCS National Championship Game—provides the run threat Auburn lacks from its current quarterbacks.

Franklin—who will be a junior next year—won't enroll until January, which leaves Johnson and White two months to sort out the current depth chart and provide the best counterpunch to Franklin's ability as a dual-threat weapon.

Thanks to Johnson's performance on Saturday, Auburn will likely get those critical 15 bowl practices this December to help the offense grow.

Get ready, because you're going to hear a lot about Auburn's quarterback depth chart over the next nine months.


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

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

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