NCAA Football News

Top Recruits Who Will Be Impacted by Result of Florida-Georgia

Florida and Georgia renew a longstanding rivalry Saturday when the teams meet in Jacksonville for an annual clash affectionately known as the "World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party." If the Gators suffer another SEC beatdown, it could become a going-away party for Will Muschamp.

The embattled head coach's tenuous situation is among the most discussed storylines of this college football season. Florida has failed to make necessary strides in his fourth year, losing eight of its past 10 conference matchups and four of them by double-digit margins.

These struggles have translated into the 2015 recruiting cycle, with Muschamp failing to maintain prospects' confidence amid rumors of his impending dismissal. The Gators lost a pair of 4-star linebacker commits last week, plummeting to 61st nationally in 247Sports' composite class rankings.

Meanwhile, Georgia holds the nation's No. 3 class and remains a potential playoff team. The Bulldogs can take a step toward postseason contention and perhaps punctuate the Muschamp Era in Gainesville by winning a fourth straight game in this celebrated series.

Here's a look at recruits who will be watching closely this weekend, with an eye on how this matchup could impact their signing day decisions.

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Kenny Hill vs. Kyle Allen: Latest Updates, Reaction on Texas A&M's QB Battle

Earlier this season, Kenny Hill was a Heisman hopeful at the head of an SEC contender. Now, the sophomore quarterback isn't even guaranteed a starting job for Texas A&M after his recent performances.    

The quarterback famously known as Kenny Trill is now in danger of losing his spot to true freshman Kyle Allen. Offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Jake Spavital provided the latest on the quarterback rotation, per Sam Khan Jr. or ESPN.com:

We opened it back up. It's still wide open. We're going to split the [first-team] reps [Tuesday] and possibly on Wednesday and by Thursday we'll probably have a declared starter and they'll take all the reps for that Thursday practice.

Kyle came into my office and he asked me if this was for real. I said, 'Yeah, it is.' And he said, 'Good, because I'm going to try to go get it.'

Hill started the season with five straight wins as Texas A&M looked like a national title contender, throwing 17 touchdowns and just two interceptions. Since that point, the Aggies are mired in a three-game losing streak while Hill has six touchdowns and six interceptions.

Connor Tapp of 247Sports offered his take on the recent decline for Hill:

After setting a school record for passing yards with 511 against South Carolina in the season opener, Kenny Hill struggled mightily in three consecutive losses to Mississippi State, Ole Miss, and Alabama. The 59-0 shutout at the hands of the Crimson Tide was among the worst losses in school history.

Losses are piling up, and some of the blame is seemingly being placed on Hill. Luckily, Allen appears to have talent and potential that the Aggies might utilize.

Allen was the No. 1 pro-style quarterback in the 2014 class, via 247Sports' composite rankings, and enrolled in January. It also sounds like Allen is more than ready for the moment, per his conversation with Spavital.

Coming up for the Aggies is a much easier matchup against UL-Monroe prior to traveling to Auburn. If there is a change made, Allen would essentially have a warm-up game before facing the No. 4 team in the nation.

Both quarterbacks also have another potential contender coming next season in Kyler Murray. For now, either signal-caller will be tasked with turning around the program in an SEC West that is arguably filled with the best teams in the country.

 

Follow @RCorySmith on Twitter.

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College Football 2014: Updated National Championship Odds for Week 10

With Week 10 quickly approaching, the inaugural College Football Playoff is inching closer. Many of the top teams today could be on the outside looking in come December. 

Bleacher Report College Football Analyst Adam Kramer lays his national champion odds for all the top teams in the hunt. 

Which team is the odds-on favorite to win the national championship?

Watch the video and let us know! 

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Ohio State Football: Who Is the Real J.T. Barrett?

COLUMBUS, Ohio — To paraphrase Eminem, will the real J.T. Barrett please stand up?

Of course, with a sprained MCL, that may be easier said than done for the Ohio State quarterback.

Nevertheless, that's become the most popular question in Columbus over the past three days following Barrett's struggles in the Buckeyes' 31-24 double-overtime win over Penn State in Happy Valley on Saturday.

After entering the Heisman Trophy discussion following video-game-like performances against Kent State, Cincinnati, Maryland and Rutgers, the redshirt freshman posted just 74 passing yards against the Nittany Lions, also tossing two interceptions and one touchdown.

Those numbers are a far cry from the 292.5 passing yards and 4.25 touchdowns per game that he averaged in his previous four outings, although he did do enough on the ground (75 yards, two overtime touchdowns) to escape State College with a win.

It is also worth noting that he sprained his MCL at some point in the first half, an injury that has previously cost Braxton Miller and Carlos Hyde significant playing time for the Buckeyes.

"It was a tough, gritty performance," Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer said of Barrett's most recent showing.

Regardless of whatever handicap you place on Barrett's uneven outing against Penn State, the fact remains that his two worst games have come against the two best defenses that the Buckeyes have faced this season.

While the Nittany Lions rank seventh in the nation in total defense, Virginia Tech currently measures in at No. 27 in the same category, having held Barrett to a 9-of-29, 219-yard, one-touchdown, three-interception stat line on Sept. 6.

But in between Ohio State's defeat at the hands of the Hokies and the close call in Happy Valley, Barrett managed to make the most of the Buckeyes' inferior opponents.

With the Golden Flashes (No. 81), Bearcats (No. 115), Terrapins (No. 103) and Scarlet Knights (No. 82) currently combining for a 95.25 average national ranking in total defense, Barrett moved the ball at will, never throwing for fewer than 261 yards and three touchdowns in a single game.

So who's the real J.T. Barrett: The player who has committed five turnovers against the two defenses he's faced that rank higher than 75th in the nation or the one who posted Heisman-caliber numbers against lesser competition?

The answer likely lies somewhere in between.

Starting with the positive for Barrett, he remains just past the midway point of his freshman season and showed steady improvement up until last Saturday's game.

It also didn't help that Ohio State's offensive line struggled against the Nittany Lions' front seven and conservative play-calling was evidenced in the Buckeyes' 57 runs compared to 19 pass attempts—12 of which Barrett completed.

Barrett has performed better than anybody could have predicted he would when he unexpectedly took over for an injured Miller two weeks prior to the start of the season, and Meyer has routinely praised the Wichita Falls, Texas, native's leadership in recent weeks.

That even rang true after the Penn State game, where Barrett may not have looked great but still walked away a winner.

“His progression and growth as a leader and a man has been exponential." Meyer said of Barrett. "That was a tough, tough performance."

But regardless of the end result, Meyer admitted that Saturday's effort wasn't Barrett's best. "It wasn't a great performance as far as making the right reads and doing the things a quarterback needs to do," he said.

While his current injury may compound matters, that's something that Barrett will need to clean up—especially with next Saturday's showdown with Michigan State looming.

As he did in his previous four starts before facing the Nittany Lions, Barrett should be able to get by on talent alone this weekend against Illinois but will need to play a more refined game against the Spartans' sixth-ranked defense for the Buckeyes to have any chance of escaping East Lansing with a win.

If there's anything we've learned in Ohio State's first seven games of the season, it's that the Buckeyes seem to go as Barrett does. This is why—while the rest of us try to figure out which Barrett will be on the field on Nov. 8—his shaky, yet successful performance at Penn State told Meyer everything he needed to know about his quarterback.

"To say that I knew you a year-and-a-half ago, I did not," Meyer recalled of his postgame speech to Barrett in front of the rest of his team. "Now I do."

 

Ben Axelrod is Bleacher Report's Ohio State Lead Writer. You can follow him on Twitter @BenAxelrod. Unless noted otherwise, all quotes obtained firsthand. All statistics courtesy of cfbstats.com and recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.

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Texas vs. Texas Tech Complete Game Preview

Texas and Texas Tech are both experiencing down seasons. The teams are sitting at 3-5 and hoping to make it to a bowl game. 

The Longhorns and the Red Raiders are both coming off of embarrassing losses.

The Red Raiders were dominated in an 82-27 loss to TCU and will be looking to bounce back against the Longhorns.

But can Texas bounce back on the road against the struggling Texas Tech Red Raiders? Let's take a look.

 

When: Saturday, Nov. 1, 7:30 p.m. ET

Where: Jones AT&T Stadium, Lubbock, Texas

TV: FS1

Austin radio: KVET 98.1/1300

SiriusXM satellite radio: XM 202; Sirius 117; Internet 969; Spanish 550

Last meeting: Nov. 28, 2013, Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, Austin, Texas

Last meeting outcome: Texas 41, Texas Tech 16

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What Auburn Can Learn from LSU's Victory over Ole Miss

Anomaly or the start of a trend?

That's what Ole Miss is left to ponder after LSU racked up 264 rushing yards in the Tigers' 10-7 win in Death Valley last week. Prior to that matchup, Ole Miss had not allowed an opponent to rush for more than 193 yards on the ground and had given up an average of 82.25 rushing yards per game to SEC opponents.

So what happened?

Ole Miss was outmanned by a tougher, more physical LSU offensive line.

On LSU's only two scoring drives on Saturday night, 25 of the 30 plays were runs, including 12 straight on a 95-yard march in the fourth quarter that culminated with a three-yard pass from Anthony Jennings to Logan Stokes—the only pass of the drive.

The game plan featured guards pulling around the corner, wide receivers getting after it as blockers downfield and a stable of running backs including Leonard Fournette, Kenny Hilliard and Terrence Magee.

"They played with great passion and played a really, really physical brand of football," Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze said during Monday's press conference. "Coach (Les) Miles had his guys ready. They deserve credit. From watching the film, we did not play our best game. That's always disappointing."

What can Auburn learn from LSU's win over Ole Miss?

 

Ground-and-Pound

Athletic offensive linemen, wide receivers blocking their tails off downfield and a large cast of characters available to carry the ball...sound familiar?

While it looks different out of the spread, those are all staples of Gus Malzahn's offense at Auburn.

Not only are they staples, Auburn is rolling into Oxford at the right time to exploit what suddenly looks like an unstable Ole Miss run defense.

The Tigers got back to the basics last week against South Carolina, rushing for 395 yards on 47 attempts—8.4 yards per carry—in the 42-35 win on the Plains.

Running back Cameron Artis-Payne rushed for 167 yards and a touchdown, quarterback Nick Marshall rushed for 89 and three touchdowns and wide receiver Ricardo Louis ran for 102 yards and a touchdown.

That's a lot of variety that doesn't even include Roc Thomas and Corey Grant, both of whom also made an impact as runners and blockers.

Things could get more interesting in Auburn's backfield this week against the Rebels, with Artis-Payne, Thomas and Grant all joining Marshall on the field at the same time.

"You could possibly even see all three of them on the field at the same time in the future," Malzahn said on his radio show Monday night (h/t James Crepea of the Montgomery Advertiser).

All of the talk of becoming more balanced in the offseason has suddenly been replaced by more of a retro approach to the Auburn offense, as Malzahn noted on Tuesday (h/t AuburnSports.com's Jay G. Tate):

Ole Miss' front seven was worn down and beat up by LSU, and it showed in the fourth quarter on what turned out to be LSU's game-winning drive. Now Auburn comes calling—a team with an offense designed to wear defenses down with tempo and beat them up by winning the battle in the trenches.

Auburn learned a lot about itself last week, when it went more old-school, focused more on a diverse running game and stretched the field through the air only at appropriate times.

That works, and it should work again this week against an Ole Miss defense that we also learned is susceptible to bruising, power-rushing attacks.

 

"Bad Bo" Is Real

Quarterback Bo Wallace has been known as a boom-or-bust quarterback during his first two seasons in Oxford, but "Bad Bo" had been noticeably absent during the 2014 season.

Until Saturday night.

Wallace completed just 14 of 33 passes for 176 yards, one touchdown and one pick in the loss to LSU.

That one pick was huge. With nine seconds to go, head coach Hugh Freeze passed up the chance to kick the game-tying 47-yard field goal in favor of taking one more shot to get a few more yards and give his kicker a closer look.

Instead of hitting the receiver in the flat or throwing it away, Wallace threw deep and was picked off by Ronald Martin to end Ole Miss' dream season. This came two plays after another Martin interception on a terrible pass was negated by pass interference on Jalen Mills five yards downfield.

While Ole Miss' pass defense has been getting all of the publicity, Auburn has quietly gone about its business, picking off 13 passes on the season—second-most in the SEC.

Wallace wants to be more aggressive against the Tigers.

"A lot of times when we're throwing right now, it's third down," he said during Monday's press conference. "We're staying in 3rd-and-long so much. People get in their defenses and it's hard in this league to convert third downs as well as people play third-down defense. We have to get back to throwing the ball on first and second down and making plays like we did earlier in the season."

An aggressive game plan could actually benefit Auburn.

The Tigers have struggled to get a pass rush this season, but with offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil day-to-day, expect the Tigers to get very creative with their front seven in an attempt to rattle Wallace.

After all, it's not like Ole Miss presents a challenge on the ground. That brings me to the next point.

 

No Running Threat

Ole Miss is simply not a good running team.

The Rebels rank 12th in the SEC in rushing yards per game (149.5) and yards per rushing attempt (3.87), and were stymied by the Tigers on Saturday night, gaining 137 yards on the ground. This against an LSU rush defense that had given up 212.4 rushing yards per game against FBS opponents coming in.

Ole Miss' offense is one-dimensional by necessity, not by choice.

There's no between-the-tackles threat on that roster. I'Tavius Mathers and Jaylen Walton run toward the edges, with Wallace again taking on too much of those responsibilities and absorbing way too many hits.

"It's a number of factors," Freeze said during Monday's press conference. "We've had several decent games where we've rushed fairly well. It is a challenge and continues to be. There are a lot of factors. We could sit here and talk about losing one-on-one battles or they have the right call at the right time and we have a bad call at the wrong time."

Auburn's run defense is giving up just 3.37 yards per play on the ground, and linebackers Cassanova McKinzy and Kris Frost have progressed in nearly every game since the middle of last season.

Toss in "Star" Robenson Therezie and linebacker Justin Garrett, and Auburn has the speed off the edge at the second level to slow down those rushers and make Ole Miss just as one-dimensional as LSU did.

That's right where Auburn's defense wants to be.

The lessons learned last week will converge on Saturday night in Oxford.

If Auburn stays true to its new self on the ground and gets to Wallace, it should lead to a big statement for the Tigers and end Ole Miss' dream season with a resounding thud.

 

Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer and video analyst for Bleacher Report as well as a co-host of the CFB Hangover on Bleacher Report Radio (Sundays, 9-11 a.m. ET) on Sirius 93, XM 208.

Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. All stats are courtesy of cfbstats.com, and all recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports. Follow Barrett on Twitter @BarrettSallee.

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10 Most Valuable Players in College Football

There are good players, and then there are players a team just can't do without. With the college football season just over the halfway point, it's time to examine the most valuable players in the game. 

Again, this is a list of the most valuable players, not necessarily the best players period or the guy with the most eye-popping stats—though there is some crossover and a few Heisman contenders are featured. 

Take Georgia running back Todd Gurley, for example. Gurley is outstanding and identified as "the nation's best back" by Bleacher Report's Matt Miller.

Is he valuable to the Bulldogs? Absolutely. Is he irreplaceable? No, as evidenced by the fact that Georgia is 2-0 without him and his backup, Nick Chubb, has shown he's more than capable of handling the responsibility of being an every-down back. 

Rather, this is a list of players whose teams would be—or, in some cases, already are—lost without them. These are players who lead their teams (or the nation) in a specific statistical category, sometimes by a long shot. In other words, the offense or the defense basically goes through them. 

Which players are the most valuable? The answers are in the following slides. 

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4-Star WR Equanimeous St. Brown: More Success at Notre Dame or USC?

Equanimeous St. Brown is one of the nation's top wide receiver prospects of the 2015 class. USC and Notre Dame are among the teams courting St. Brown for his services, according to 247Sports.

Bleacher Report College Football Analyst Michael Felder discusses which school would be the best fit for St. Brown.

What school would be the best fit for St. Brown?

Check out the video and let us know! 

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Texas A&M Football: Game-by-Game Prediction for the Month of November

The Texas A&M football team enters the final months of the 2014 regular season with a 5-3 record overall and a 2-3 record in the SEC. The Aggies will go 3-1 in their remaining games and match their 8-4 regular season record from 2013. 

The Texas A&M football team is currently riding a three-game losing streak. It just had its first bye week of the season and first opportunity to assess what worked and did not work during the first eight games.

The Aggies have some issues on defense caused by inept play at the linebacker position. That cannot be addressed during the season. The coaches should be able to address some play-calling issues that have popped up during the losing streak.

You cannot win football games when everyone knows what play you are going to call on offense. Aggie offensive coordinator Jake Spavital has become predictable—hopefully this has been addressed during the bye week.

This is a look at how the Aggies will do during the month of November.  

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Utah Utes vs. Arizona State Sun Devils: Betting Odds, Analysis and Pick

Arizona State is 3-0 straight up and 2-1 against the spread versus Utah since the Utes joined the Pac-12 three seasons ago. That bodes well for the Sun Devils, as they seek a berth in the conference championship game for the second straight season.

South Division-leading ASU hosts second-place Utah for Homecoming in Tempe Saturday night.

 

Point Spread: The Sun Devils opened as 2.5-point favorites.

Odds Shark Computer Pick: Sun Devils 29.9, Utes 26.7

 

Why the Utah Utes Can Cover the Spread

The Utes just came up with a big home win over USC, scoring on a one-yard Travis Wilson touchdown pass with eight seconds to go for a 24-21 victory. Utah only managed 137 yards rushing on 42 carries but held the Trojans to 100 yards on 37 rushing attempts.

The Utes might have avoided the need for last-minute heroics had they not lost two fumbles inside the USC 5-yard line.

Since being upset at home by Washington State last month, Utah has won and covered three games in a row to get to 6-1 both SU and ATS on the season, and 3-1 both SU and ATS in Pac-12 play.

 

Why the Arizona State Sun Devils Can Cover the Spread

The Sun Devils have also won and covered three games in a row after winning at Washington last week 24-10.

ASU was out-gained and out-rushed by the Huskies, but senior quarterback Taylor Kelly—in his first game back after missing a month due to injury—tossed a pair of touchdown passes and the defense forced three turnovers, the last of which was returned for the game-clinching score.

So the only blemish on the Devils' slate remains that loss to UCLA. Arizona State is averaging 186 yards on the ground, 303 through the air and the defense has allowed just 20 points over the last two games.

 

Smart Pick

Statistically speaking, the Utes don't stand out, but they have out-rushed their four Pac-12 foes by an average of almost 100 yards per game and already own three road victories this season.

The Sun Devils, on the other hand, have been out-rushed in four of their five conference contests. Last year, as Utah struggled through a 5-7 season, it almost upset Arizona State, which went on to win the South.

The pick here goes with the Utes, plus the points.

 

Betting Trends

  • Utah is 4-1 ATS in its last five games on the road.
  • Arizona State is 1-4 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.

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TCU Horned Frogs vs. West Virginia Mountaineers Betting Odds and Pick

So far this college football season, TCU is the best team in the country on which to wager, going a perfect 7-0 against the spread. But if the Horned Frogs want a piece of the big prize, something along the lines of a Big 12 conference title, they'll have to leap over at least a couple of teams, including this week's opponent, surprising West Virginia.

 

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

 

College football pick, via Odds Shark computer: 46.8-42.3 Horned Frogs

 

Why the TCU Horned Frogs can cover the spread

The Horned Frogs just laid 82 points on Texas Tech last week, cruising to a cover as 24-point favorites. TCU racked up a ridiculous 785 yards of offense, 305 on the ground, and quarterback Trevone Boykin threw seven touchdown passes. So over their last three games, including that heartbreaking loss at Baylor, the Frogs have scored 182 points.

In fact, while under head coach Gary Patterson TCU has mainly been known for its defense, this year's edition of the Frogs ranks second in the country in total offense and leads the nation in scoring at 50 points per game.

 

Why the West Virginia Mountaineers can cover the spread

The Mountaineers were supposedly headed for another lower-division finish in the Big 12 this season, but instead they've won four conference games in a row and sit just a half-game out of first place. Last week, West Virginia won at Oklahoma State, 34-10, pulling away in the fourth quarter to secure the victory and the cover.

That performance was especially impressive considering the Mountaineers avoided the letdown after the upset victory over Baylor the week before. West Virginia ranks 10th in the country in total offense, and while the defense only ranks 58th overall, it did hold the Bears, who own the top-ranked offense in the country, to just 318 total yards.

 

Smart Pick

These teams have gone to overtime each of their two meetings since joining the Big 12, which is why the underdog is 2-0 against the spread in those two games. And this game looks like it might be another close one. So the smart choice here is with the home dog, plus the points.

 

Betting Trends

  • The total has gone OVER in four of TCU's last five games
  • West Virginia is 6-1 SU in its last seven games

 

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

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College Football Rankings 2014: Full List of Week 10 NCAA Standings and Polls

The long-awaited release of the first College Football Playoff rankings are finally mere hours away. But for now, fans will have to rely on the good, old-fashioned polls to get an idea of where teams stand in the current college football landscape. 

Taking a look at the latest Amway coachesAssociated Press and Bleacher Report polls, one thing is certain—the controversy that marked the BCS era isn't leaving anytime soon. 

With Ole Miss going down in Baton Rouge, Mississippi State and Florida State remain the only two power-five conference teams to remain unbeaten. That means that at least two of the College Football Playoff participants are likely to have at least one loss. 

Figuring out who deserves to earn those two spots is sure to be the topic of debate from now until the end of the season. Here's a look at who the most recent polls like, followed by a preview of some of the week's biggest action:

 

Marquee Matchups

TCU at West Virginia

TCU and West Virginia's brief history against each other in the Big 12 is a dramatic one. In their two games against each other as conference foes, the visiting team has won in overtime. 

With both teams appearing in the Top 25 polls and Morgantown playing host to ESPN College GameDay, the 2014 edition should be yet another chapter in the developing rivalry. 

Of course, no one would have expected these two teams to be playing in such a high-profile game last season. Both teams went 4-8 last season behind starting quarterbacks who threw just seven touchdowns to seven interceptions. 

This year, both teams have experienced much more success. Most likely because both TCU's Trevone Boykin and West Virginia's Clint Trickett have stepped up in big ways:

As TCU's assistant AD Mark Cohen points out, Boykin has been putting up numbers similar to recent Heisman winners Robert Griffin III and Johnny Manziel:

The only downfall to TCU's offensive breakthrough this season has been a downgraded defense. Where the Frogs have traditionally been known for their stout defense, the new fast-paced offense has left the defense out on the field more than it is used to. 

This game should be a shootout. TCU is currently first in the country in points per game at 50.8, but West Virginia is 25th at 34.4. In a shootout, it's the team with the better quarterback that has the advantage. 

That's Boykin by a nose.

Prediction: TCU 45, West Virginia 42

 

Auburn at Ole Miss

Ole Miss won't get much time to lick its wounds after its upset loss to LSU last week. The 6-1 Auburn Tigers will roll into Oxford looking to bolster their claim to a College Football Playoff berth. 

Fortunately for the Rebels, a trip back to Oxford might be just what the doctor ordered. A look at these two teams may reveal a fairly equal matchup, but looking at what Auburn has done on the road this season tells the story. 

Thus far, the Tigers have only left the friendly confines of Jordan-Hare Stadium twice this season. The first was a narrow 20-14 victory over Kansas State. The second was the team's lone loss on the season to Mississippi State, 38-23.

One player in particular whose numbers have declined on the road is Nick Marshall:

This trend gives the Rebels' tough defense a rather simple game plan to follow—force Marshall to throw the ball. 

Given Ole Miss' No. 16 ranking in rushing yards allowed per attempt (3.2, per TeamRankings.com) the Rebels have the tools to stack the box and do just that. The question is whether Marshall can make plays when that happens. 

The answer to that question has been no to this point in the season. With the Rebels looking to rebound this week, it's likely to be the same story. 

Prediction: Ole Miss 20, Auburn 14

 

Upset Alert

Stanford at Oregon

It might be easy to dismiss Stanford as a legitimate threat to hand the Ducks their second loss of the season. The Cardinal have lost all three of their games against ranked opponents this season and have one of the worst offenses in the Pac-12. 

However, doing so would be a mistake. There's a reason that David Shaw's team has given the Ducks fits the last two seasons, and it isn't the offense. Stanford's physical defense has been able to slow Oregon down in wins over the Ducks in each of the last two seasons. 

As David Lombardi of ESPN points out, the defense from Palo Alto is still one of the best in the nation:

Stanford's offense isn't likely to have enough scores in its system to spring the upset. Kevin Hogan hasn't been able to make up for a punchless run game this season. However, the defense and recent history of playing Oregon tough should make this much more challenging for the Ducks than the 10-point spread (via Odds Shark) would indicate.

Prediction: Oregon 24, Stanford 20

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The Power-5 Conference Most Likely to Be Left out of the CFB Playoff

There are five power conferences in college football but only four spots in the College Football Playoff. Four is one fewer than five. It doesn't take Archimedes to deduce that (at least) one of those conferences will be omitted from the field.

The debate over which conference that will be has dominated the season, the answer seeming to change each passing week. Right now? My answer is probably the Big 12. But I say that knowing all too well that it could make me look like an idiot come Monday.

Why the Big 12? It's a process of elimination, more than anything.

The SEC has four teams ranked in the Associated Press Top 10 including No. 1 Mississippi State—one of two unbeaten teams left from power conferences. The other unbeaten, Florida State, has the ACC in good shape to make the field despite (and in many ways because of) the fact that it's the weakest of the power-five leagues.

The Big Ten, the Big 12 and the Pac-12 are the most likely candidates for exclusion, but the Big 12 sticks out, counterproductively, because it has been the best of that triad this season.

It has been, in a way, too good for its own good.

Eighteen power-conference teams have either zero or one loss after nine weeks. If any of those teams runs the table, there is a good (but not definite) chance they make the playoff. Unless there is another chaotic week such as Week 6 where zero- and one-loss teams start dropping like flies, it is safe to assume, for the time being, that every two-loss team has already been eliminated.

Thus, on raw numbers, the Pac-12 has more playoff contenders (4) than the Big Ten (3) and Big 12 (3). Three of those contenders are non-traditional—Utah, Arizona and Arizona State—and one of them is Oregon, whom many have termed the favorite to win the league.

The Big Ten has Ohio State, Michigan State and Nebraska, the former two of which will play each other Nov. 8 in East Lansing. The loser of that game will be eliminated, but the winner will have an easy path to an 11-1 record and the Big Ten Championship Game. If Nebraska, which doesn't have a ranked team left on its schedule, also finishes 11-1, that game will be a de facto playoff quarterfinal.

The Big 12 has TCU, Kansas State and Baylor, three teams good enough to represent the league with pride in the CFP. The problem with the conference isn't that it lacks quality form; au contraire, it's that the conference has too much quality form. Especially with a nine-game conference schedule, the Big 12 is susceptible to cannibalism.

Kansas State has yet to play TCU or Baylor, setting up a potential nightmare scenario for the conference. If the Wildcats split those games, it could throw the Big 12's playoff hopes out of orbit.

But even if it sweeps or gets swept in those games, there are other pitfalls facing all of these teams.

TCU plays West Virginia in Morgantown this weekend. Kansas State makes the same trip to Morgantown in three weeks. Baylor—which plays Oklahoma in Norman in two weeks—saw its own undefeated season slip away in Morgantown two weeks ago.

All of which leads to a counterintuitive hypothesis: The improvement of West Virginia, which by extension means the improvement of the conference, might actually be a terrible thing for the conference.

The Mountaineers played Alabama close in Week 1 and Oklahoma close in Week 4 before finally getting over the hump against Baylor. They did so by holding Baylor to 318 yards of total offense, its lowest output since September 2010.

Their defense has taken an important leap forward, now ranking higher than their offense in Football Outsiders' S&P+ ratings, something Chris Brown of Grantland calls "amazing":

"Holding Baylor to 318 yards and 80 plays is something," head coach Dana Holgorsen said after the win. "We had two starting corners go out in the first half and it didn't change the game plan. We didn't blink. We've been talking about depth for some time…If you've got depth you've got a chance to win these games."

If West Virginia's improved depth—a microcosm of the Big 12's improved depth—is enough for the 'Neers to pull similar upsets over TCU and Kansas State, it could cost the league a spot in the playoff.

And that seems a lot more likely than, say, Oregon State beating Oregon or Penn State beating Michigan State.

Again…the Big 12 is too good for its own good.

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Stanford Cardinal vs. Oregon Ducks Betting Odds, Analysis, College Football Pick

Oregon is once again favored for its big Pac-12 North battle with Stanford, but that doesn't mean anything to the Cardinal, who have upset the Ducks each of the past two seasons on their way to back-to-back conference championships. Stanford will shoot for a third straight upset of Oregon Saturday night in Eugene.

 

Point spread: Ducks opened as 12.5-point favorites, according to sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark. (line updates and matchup report).

 

College football pick, via Odds Shark computer: 53.5-43.2 Ducks

 

Why the Stanford Cardinal can cover the spread

The Cardinal just bounced back from that bad loss at Arizona State two weeks ago to pound Oregon State last week 38-14, easily covering the spread as 12-point favorites. Stanford doubled up the Beavers in total offense, 438-221, and with help from six sacks, it held OSU to just 12 yards rushing.

The Cardinal are struggling on offense, ranking 84th in the country overall, 93rd in rushing, but the defense ranks second overall, fifth against the run, allowing just 91 yards per game, and second in points allowed at 13 per game. Last year, as a 10-point home dog, Stanford built a 26-0 lead over the Ducks, then held on for the 26-20 victory.

 

Why the Oregon Ducks can cover the spread

The Ducks are not quite the well-oiled machine they've been in recent seasons, but they're still in the running for the conference title and a spot in this year's College Football Playoff. Oregon just put up 59 in a victory at Cal, covering the spread as a 17-point road favorite. The Ducks gave up 28 points in the first half against the Bears, then held them to 13 while pulling away in the second half.

So since getting upset at home by Arizona a month ago, Oregon is 3-0 both straight up and against the spread, including that blowout victory at UCLA.

 

Smart pick

The Ducks probably have the better team in this matchup, but the Cardinal have had their number as of late, holding Oregon to a total of 34 points over the last two meetings in this series—and the Ducks often score that many points in less than a half.

Also, Oregon is just 2-5 ATS in its last seven home games, in part because the spreads have been so high. And that might be the case for this game, too, so the smart money should go on underdog Stanford.

 

Betting Trends

  • Stanford is 2-4 ATS in its last six games when playing on the road against Oregon.
  • Oregon is 9-3 SU in its last 12 games when playing Stanford.

 

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

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Oklahoma State Cowboys vs. Kansas State Wildcats Betting Odds and Pick

Oklahoma State is 4-1 straight up in its last five meetings with Kansas State, but the Wildcats are 4-1 against the spread over that span. K-State also leads the Big 12 at the moment at 4-0 SU and 3-1 ATS in conference play, while the Cowboys cling to life at 3-2 SU, 1-4 ATS. Border rivals clash when Kansas State and Oklahoma State meet Saturday night in Manhattan.

 

Point spread: Wildcats opened as 12.5-point favorites, according to sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark. (line updates and matchup report).

 

College football pick, via Odds Shark computer: 28.7-23.4 Wildcats

 

Why the Oklahoma State Cowboys can cover the spread

The Cowboys had won five in a row following their season-opening loss to Florida State, but they have found the going tougher the last two weeks, losing at TCU 42-9 and at home to West Virginia 34-10. Oklahoma State only trailed the Mountaineers by a touchdown heading into the fourth quarter but came up empty from there. For the game the Cowboys only got outgained by 12 yards.

Oklahoma State knew it might go through a rebuilding process this season, with just eight starters back from last year, and lost its starting quarterback for the season to injury back in Week 2. But if they could just get a little better play at quarterback, the Cowboys could stay in this one.

 

Why the Kansas State Wildcats can cover the spread

The Wildcats have won four games in a row SU and five in a row ATS after shutting out Texas last week 23-0. Kansas State nearly doubled up the Longhorns in total yardage, ran the ball 43 times for 143 yards and won time of possession by a lopsided 39-21 margin, covering the spread as a nine-point favorite to improve its ATS mark to 5-2. Senior quarterback Jake Waters has now gone four games without throwing a pick.

The Wildcats have outgained five of seven opponents this season and outrushed five of seven foes by an average of 79 yards per game. And that's a figure usually conducive to covering spreads.

 

Smart pick

Bill Snyder's teams are almost always good bets because of his style and generalship. His teams are always ready to play. Meanwhile, Oklahoma State might be going through a down season. So while the spread on this game is rather large for this series, the smart money should go with the better team in this spot, giving the points.

 

Betting trends

  • Oklahoma State is 4-1 SU in its last five games when playing Kansas State
  • Kansas State is 5-0 ATS in its last five games

 

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

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Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. Navy Midshipmen Betting Odds and Pick

Notre Dame once beat Navy 43 times in a row, but the Midshipmen have won three of the last seven meetings in this rivalry outright, going 4-3 against the spread in the process. The 6-1 Irish and 4-4 Mids square off for the 87th consecutive season, this time at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland Saturday night.

 

Point spread: The Fighting Irish 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: 33.2-19.0 Fighting Irish

 

Why the Notre Dame Fighting Irish can cover the spread

The Irish started 6-0 straight up and 4-2 against the spread this season, but two weeks ago suffered their first outright loss in a 31-27 decision at defending national champion Florida State. Notre Dame outgained the Seminoles 470-323 and outrushed them 157-50, but had a game-winning Everett Golson touchdown pass in the waning seconds nullified by an offensive pass interference call.

The Irish have outgained five of seven opponents this year, and outrushed six of seven foes, by an average of 60 yards per game. Meanwhile, Golson, after sitting out all last season, has improved his completion percentage from 59 two years ago to 62 this season.

 

Why the Navy Midshipmen can cover the spread

The Mids had lost three games in a row, but have won their last two after beating San Jose State last week 41-31, covering as eight-point favorites. Navy ran the ball 68 times for 423 yards against the Spartans, 251 of those yards by junior quarterback Keenan Reynolds. So the Mids have outgained and outrushed their last three opponents.

In fact, they rank second in the country in rushing at 352 yards per game, outrushing foes by an average of 181 yards. As mentioned above, Navy has beaten Notre Dame in three of the last seven meetings, and almost did it again last year, giving up an Irish score with three minutes to go to lose 38-34.

 

Smart Pick

Notre Dame is the better team, but Navy is a pain in the butt to play. The Irish may put up 40 points on the smallish Mids defense, but Navy's option might be good for 30 points itself. So the smart money for this rivalry resides with the underdog Middies.

 

Betting Trends

  • Notre Dame is 4-1 ATS in its last five games on the road.
  • The total has gone OVER in four of Navy's last five games when playing Notre Dame.

 

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

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Florida State Seminoles vs. Louisville Cardinals Betting Odds and Pick

Florida State might be undefeated and headed for the College Football Playoff, but as heavy betting favorites almost every time out, the Seminoles are also only 1-8 against the spread in their last nine games. Florida State will be a solid favorite again when it takes on Louisville in the teams' first meeting as ACC foes Thursday night at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium.

 

Point spread: Seminoles opened as 8.5-point favorites, according to sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark (line updates and matchup report).

 

College football pick, via Odds Shark computer: 37.3-25.2 Seminoles

 

Why the Florida State Seminoles can cover the spread

Following the victory over Notre Dame two weeks ago, the Seminoles have now won 23 games in a row, going 13-9-1 ATS. Florida State didn't have its top game against the Irish, but it made the plays when it needed to, getting two Jameis Winston touchdown passes and two Karlos Williams touchdown runs.

The phantom offensive pass interference call against Notre Dame at the end of the game didn't hurt, either. Florida State only ranks 47th in the country in total offense and 53rd in total defense but 19th in scoring at 38 points per game and 29th in points allowed at 22 per game.

 

Why the Louisville Cardinals can cover the spread

The Cardinals have won three of their last four games, and covered three of their last five, after beating North Carolina State two weeks ago 30-18. Louisville got 173 yards on the ground from running back Michael Dyer and two touchdown passes from quarterback Will Gardner, who now owns an 11-2 touchdown-to-interception ratio this season.

And the Cardinals defense held the Wolf Pack to just 128 yards rushing. Louisville ranks 94th in total offense but leads the nation in both total defense, allowing 245 yards per game, and against the run, giving up 69 yards per game. The most points the Cardinals have allowed this season was the 23 both Virginia and Clemson scored.

 

Smart pick

Florida State has not looked like the team it was last year, but the 'Noles are still a dangerous bunch. If this game were being played in Tallahassee, the Seminoles might be favored by as much as two touchdowns. Meanwhile, Louisville is only 1-7 ATS the last eight times it's been lined as a home dog. So the smart choice here is with the visiting Seminoles, minus the points.

 

Betting Trends

  • Florida State is 4-10 ATS in its last 14 games on the road.
  • The total has gone under in five of Louisville's last seven 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.

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Florida Gators vs. Georgia Bulldogs: Betting Odds, Analysis and Pick

Not too long ago, Florida owned the rivalry with Georgia, winning five of six meetings. But the Bulldogs have turned the tables on the Gators, winning the last three meetings, going 2-0-1 against the spread. The 6-1 'Dawgs will try to beat 3-3 Florida for a fourth straight time when the teams meet for the big cocktail party in Jacksonville Saturday afternoon.

 

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

 

College football pick, via Odds Shark computer: 38.5-30.7 Bulldogs

 

Why the Florida Gators can cover the spread

The Gators are coming off a disheartening 42-13 loss at home to Missouri in which they held the Tigers to just 119 yards of total offense but gave up four Mizzou touchdowns on returns. Florida allowed the Tigers to return the opening kickoff for a score and never recovered.

The Gators committed six turnovers, but the defense did its part, stuffing the Missouri offense to the tune of just over two yards per play. Two weeks ago, Florida put on a decent performance at LSU, losing 30-27 on a 50-yard field goal at the buzzer. The Gators rank just 99th in the country in total offense but 12th in total defense, holding foes to 313 yards per game.

 

Why the Georgia Bulldogs can cover the spread

Since losing at South Carolina back in September, the Bulldogs have won their last five games in a row, four in blowout fashion, going 3-2 ATS. Three weeks ago, Georgia, suddenly playing without Heisman candidate running back Todd Gurley, won at Missouri 34-0, and two weeks ago the 'Dawgs bolted out to a 38-6 halftime lead on their way to a 45-32 victory at Arkansas.

Toting the load in place of Gurley, freshman Nick Chubb chugged for 202 yards and two scores against the Razorbacks after going for 143 against Mizzou. And the Georgia defense, which ranks 13th in the nation against the run, held the ground-oriented Hogs to 126 yards on 37 carries.

 

Smart Pick

Georgia is rolling with or without Gurley, while Florida looks like a lost cause and is probably heading for a coaching change. So while this spread might seem a bit inflated, the smart choice is with the Bulldogs, minus the points.

 

Betting Trends

  • Florida is 5-2 ATS in its last seven games when playing on the road against Georgia
  • The total has gone OVER in 11 of Georgia's last 13 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.

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Auburn Tigers vs. Mississippi Rebels Betting Odds, Analysis and Pick

Ole Miss just suffered its first loss of this season but still ranks as one of the best teams in college football on which to wager with its 6-1-1 against the spread record. The Rebels will try to jump back on the winning track when they host defending SEC champion and West division rival Auburn Saturday night down in Oxford.

 

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

 

College football pick, via Odds Shark computer: 33.7-30.3 Rebels

 

Why the Auburn Tigers can cover the spread

The Tigers bounced back from their first loss of the season two weeks ago at Mississippi State to beat South Carolina 42-35, avoiding what might have been a season-killing second SEC loss. Auburn racked up 551 yards of offense against the Gamecocks, 395 on the ground, as three different Tigers–Cameron Artis-Payne, Ricardo Louis and Nick Marshall–ran for at least 89 yards.

Auburn ranks 20th in the nation in total offense, 46th in total defense and has out-rushed opponents this season by an average of 161 yards per game. The Tigers will be going up against a stout Ole Miss defense, but last year, in a 30-22 victory, Auburn ran for 282 yards against the Rebels.

 

Why the Mississippi Rebels can cover the spread

The Rebs just lost a tough game at LSU 10-7, allowing the game-winning score with five minutes to go, but there's no real shame in losing by a field goal in a place like Death Valley. Ole Miss hung onto a lead for as long as it could, but quarterback Bo Wallace had his toughest outing of the season, completing just 14 of 33 passes. Going into that game, the senior quarterback had hit on 64 percent of his throws, with 17 touchdowns and just six interceptions.

Offensively the Rebs only rank 64th overall, but the Ole Miss defense ranks ninth overall and first in points allowed, at just 11 per game.

 

Smart pick

Auburn has won four of the last five meetings in this series, going 4-1 ATS in the process. The Tigers have also outgained every opponent this year but one and out-rushed them all. Meanwhile, Ole Miss has been outgained in three of its last four games. So the smart money here goes with Auburn, plus the points.

 

Betting trends

  • Auburn is 4-1 ATS in its last five games when playing Mississippi
  • Mississippi is 3-6 ATS in its last nine games when playing at home against Auburn

 

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

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Arkansas Razorbacks vs. Mississippi State Bulldogs: Odds, College Football Pick

Arkansas is still winless in SEC play under head coach Bret Bielema and has lost 16 straight conference games overall, going 6-10 against the spread. However, the Razorbacks have shown some money-making ability this season, going 6-2 ATS.

The Hogs will try again to break that SEC losing streak this weekend, but it won't be easy, taking on the top-ranked Bulldogs of Mississippi State in Starkville Saturday night.

 

Point Spread: The Bulldogs opened as 14-point favorites.

Odds Shark Computer Pick: Bulldogs 40.5, Razorbacks 25.8

 

Why the Arkansas Razorbacks Can Cover the Spread

The Razorbacks just bombed Alabama-Birmingham 45-17, covering the spread as 24-point favorites. Arkansas gained 484 yards to the Blazers' 195, racked up 273 rushing yards and held the ball for almost 35 minutes.

Two weeks ago, the Hogs thought they had a chance to snap that SEC losing streak but got slapped down by Georgia. Just before that, Arkansas gave Alabama all it could handle, losing 14-13 but out-gaining the Tide by over 100 yards.

In a tough game earlier this year, the Razorbacks played Auburn to a 21-21 halftime tie before fading down the stretch.

So they can play with quality opponents.

 

Why the Mississippi State Bulldogs Can Cover the Spread

The Bulldogs are 7-0 for the second time in the last two seasons after winning at Kentucky last week 45-31. Mississippi State piled up 542 yards on offense, 326 on the ground, held the ball for almost 35 minutes and limited the Wildcats to 103 yards on 32 carries.

Near the end, the Bulldogs returned a kickoff for a score that garnered them a push as 14.5-point favorites.

For the season, Mississippi State is out-rushing opponents by 155 yards per game, which is a big reason why the Bulldogs are 5-2 ATS.

 

Smart Pick

One of these days, Arkansas is going to put it all together and break that SEC losing streak. Can the Hogs do it in this spot, playing at the top-ranked team in the land? Unlikely.

But to keep a game like this close, the underdog has to run the ball, work the clock and limit the turnovers, and Arkansas might be able to pull that off.

The smart choice here is with the Hogs, plus the points.

 

Betting Trends

  • Arkansas is 4-13 straight up in its last 17 games.
  • Mississippi State is 5-0 SU in its last five 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 BleacherReport.com

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