NCAA Football News

AP College Football Poll 2015: Latest Rankings, Projections for Key Week 3 Games

Don't get used to where the best in college football stand in the newly released Week 3 Top 25 polls, because another whirlwind week of big games is on tap to shake things up again.

With many of the early-season tuneup contests out of the way, things are getting really good in the top conferences with epic showdowns planned for Saturday. Many elite schools are facing their first true conference tests of the season, and getting through with the "W" won't be an easy task.

Without beating around the bush any longer, let's glance at the Top 25 as well as this weekend's schedule.


Week 3 College Football Top 25

Rankings courtesy of Amway coaches'Associated Press and Bleacher Report


Week 3 Schedule and Predictions


No. 18 Auburn at No. 13 LSU

Sure, they escaped what would have undoubtedly been one of the biggest upsets in college football history. But the Auburn Tigers are still licking their wounds following an overtime test from Jacksonville State.

Simply put, Auburn had to pull together a few huge defensive stops while marching for a game-tying touchdown with seconds left just to get the FCS opponent into overtime. It took care of business once there, but immediately the worry shifted to who's next.

Saturday's environment couldn't possibly be more opposite from Auburn's home opener, as they'll travel to Death Valley to face the LSU Tigers. Fresh off their season-opening performance, a 21-19 win at Mississippi State, LSU has climbed to No. 13.

Meanwhile, Auburn was lucky to remain in the Top 25 as ESPN's Paul Finebaum noted:

The silver lining for Auburn is that, somehow, the team is still unbeaten at 2-0 and the memories of that near-loss will fly away should it upset LSU on the road. But being taken to the woodshed like that against an FCS opponent isn't something that just happens—it's a byproduct of a team not ready for the SEC's elite.

Expect Auburn's secondary to pose a much bigger fight than it did last week, but a shoddy run defense should get punished by Leonard Fournette and the LSU rushing attack. On the other end, Jeremy Johnson is struggling way too much to keep the Tigers in a brutal road contest late into the fourth quarter.

Prediction: LSU 27, Auburn 20


No. 11 Clemson at Louisville

The Thursday night spectacle—or spectacles, some weeks—doesn't always bring one of the best matchups of the weekend, but it's just more fun when it does. This time, it's Clemson facing an immense test on the road at ACC counterparts Louisville.

Two teams that were expected to be somewhat close in ACC contention have separated through two games. While Clemson has climbed to No. 11 after two emphatic wins in tuneup contests, the Cardinals are a lowly 0-2 after defeats to Auburn and Houston.

To avoid dropping to 0-3 for the first time in 31 years, Louisville welcomes a top-15 team into its house. They won't allow them out without a fight, as quarterback Kyle Bolin shared with Louisville Courier Journal's Steve Jones:

"Thursday night is going to be a big game,” Burgess said. “We’re looking for our first victory. We’re going to go very hard in practice. Coach is going to make sure of that. The leaders are going to make sure of that. We’re going to prepare ourselves the best we can and take the field with confidence.”

Already battle-tested and with the chance to turn the season around on the national stage, don't expect Bobby Petrino's squad to keel over as they make this one competitive. But it's just hard to envision their suddenly susceptible defense being able to stop Deshaun Watson.

Louisville doesn't have the defense it did a year ago, after losing a whopping seven of 11 starters from that unit. Six of those players are currently in the NFL, which speaks volumes to what the Cardinals are trying to replace there.

Pride will kick in to keep Louisville somewhat close on this one, but Clemson has too much firepower to keep from covering the spread.

Prediction: Clemson 30, Louisville 21

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Michigan QB Commit Brandon Peters Throws for 340 Yards, 6 TDs in Week 4

Through just four games of his senior season, Michigan Wolverines quarterback commit Brandon Peters is quickly approaching the statistical production of an entire 2014 campaign.

The 6'5", 205-pound passer, who plays for Avon High School in Indiana, tallied six touchdowns Friday night in a 56-21 win over Brownsburg High School, per MaxPreps. He now has 17 scores—16 through the air—this season.

Peters sliced and diced defenders during a nationally televised ESPN broadcast. He shined in the spotlight, completing 19 throws for 340 yards as Avon buried Brownsburg well before the final horn.

"ESPN being here and all was pretty cool, but once the game started I didn't even feel like I was playing for ESPN," Peters told Zach Wagner of the Indianapolis Star. "It was just like any other game and we played super well tonight. We clicked and it was just a really great experience."

The matchup pitted Peters against Brownsburg junior quarterback Hunter Johnson, who is rated No. 1 overall among 2017 quarterback prospects in composite rankings and committed to Tennessee in August.

Peters easily outplayed his talented counterpart in the convincing victory. Johnson managed to throw for 198 yards and two touchdowns but finished with four costly turnovers. 

The 4-star Michigan pledge fired five scoring strikes from within 15 yards of the end zone and added a long-distance touchdown toss:

Peters accounted for at least five total touchdowns in three of Avon's first four games, which the team split to sit at 2-2. 

He bounced back from a tough defeat last week, delivering his best performance to date. Peters is completing 62 percent of pass attempts this season, resulting in 1,154 yards.

Rated eighth nationally among pro-style passers in composite rankings, he became a pivotal piece of Michigan's 2016 recruiting class in April. Peters pledged to head coach Jim Harbaugh and the Wolverines during a campus visit in Ann Arbor.

"It's really special. And getting to do it personally with Harbaugh was great," he told Bleacher Report afterward. "We were just sitting at dinner, talking about Michigan football, and he brought up my recruitment. He asked, 'How'd you like to come play for us?' I told him I'd love to."

Peters picked Michigan over a list of collegiate options that includes LSU, Nebraska, Virginia Tech and Wisconsin. He intends to enroll early at the university, arriving for classes and team workouts this winter.

The Elite 11 finalist is well on his way toward establishing career-best numbers in 2015. Peters threw for 1,876 yards and 21 scores last season, statistical totals he's likely to eclipse before October.


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

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5-Star Mecole Hardman Jr. Scores 5 TDs, Including Game-Winner in Week 3

With his team’s unblemished record on the line and down 18 points at halftime, 5-star athlete Mecole Hardman Jr. took matters into his own hands in leading Elbert County (Georgia) to a thrilling 44-38 win over Westminster.

According to Jeff Sentell of DawgNation, Hardman rushed for 267 yards and five touchdowns, including the game-winner as time expired.

As Thomas Scott of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution detailed, Hardman, who plays quarterback for the Blue Devils, simply took the game over in the second half. Three of his scores came after the intermission, and his determination was on full display in the waning moments when the game’s outcome hung in the balance.

On the final drive, after completing a 30-yard pass that set Elbert County just two yards away from the end zone, Hardman scored on a quarterback keeper at the buzzer to lift his team to victory.

His performance showcased why he’s rated as the nation’s top athlete and the No. 25 player overall.

Hardman lined up at corner at The Opening in July, and he exited the event having proven himself as one of the few players in this class who could play more than one position at the next level. 

After a strong showing in the offseason camp circuit, in which he dominated different events playing wide receiver and others at corner, Hardman is showing why he’s a special prospect with the ball in his hands.

"It doesn’t matter," Hardman told Bleacher Report on his position preference at The Opening. "I can do whatever you want me to do. If it’s defense, I’m going to lock you down. If it’s receiver, I will produce and make big plays. Different schools like me at different positions."

The 5’10”, 175-pounder released a list of his top 10 schools earlier in the summer. Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Miami, Michigan, Oklahoma, Ole Miss, Stanford and Tennessee made his early cut. 

Hardman has already scheduled a few visits that will take place in the coming months.

He attended Tennessee’s loss against Oklahoma on Saturday. Miami and Michigan are also slated to receive official visits from him this season.

He’s also been a frequent visitor on the campuses of Auburn and Georgia in recent months.

As noted by Ryan Callahan of GoVols247, the Bulldogs and the Volunteers are believed to be the front-runners in Hardman’s recruitment.

With a strong start to his senior season, Hardman is showing why he’s one of the nation’s most explosive playmakers in the 2016 class.


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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NCAA Football Rankings 2015: Analyzing Week 3 Polls and Top 25 College Standings

The college football season's first Top 10 matchup highlighted the Week 2 drama and led to some movement in the latest Top 25 polls.

Michigan State defeated Oregon in a close battle at home, while both Oklahoma and LSU earned road wins against fellow ranked opponents. The rest of the weekend featured a few upsets and more than a couple of scares to keep fans entertained throughout. We are starting to learn more about teams, and the polls continue to adjust accordingly.

Here is a look at the latest rankings from the Associated Press, Amway and Bleacher Report

Ohio State, Alabama and TCU all had easier matchups this week after tough challenges in Week 1. The result was a trio of blowouts, ensuring the Top Three in the two major polls remained the same.

The first change came from Michigan State, which passed Baylor and even TCU in Bleacher Report's poll after an impressive victory over Oregon. The Spartans built up a double-digit lead at home and this time did not let it get away from them. 

Quarterback Connor Cook expressed his need to avenge the team's loss to the Ducks from a year ago, per Mike Griffith of

The loss last year sucked. Being able to have the half that we had last year, we went on an 18-0 run I think, and just laying an egg in the second half and that stuck with me during the whole year.

It stuck with me during the season. It stuck with me watching them playing in the national championship, and it was with me all through spring ball, through camp. It's one of the main reasons why we wanted to come back is to play Oregon again and beat them.

Thanks to two Cook touchdown passes and two more scores from LJ Scott, Michigan State was able to accomplish this feat.

Oregon dropped a bit in the polls, although probably unfairly. The team fought hard under new quarterback Vernon Adams, losing by only three on the road against a good opponent. This hopefully doesn't become a hindrance later in the year as the Ducks attempt to play for a spot in the College Football Playoff.

This loss certainly is more meaningful than a 50-point win over an extremely overmatched opponent.

Another squad that dropped significantly in every poll is Auburn, which didn't even lose its game. The Tigers barely survived a scare against FCS program Jacksonville State, winning 27-20 in overtime. Quarterback Jeremy Johnson struggled for the second week in a row, throwing two interceptions to bring his season total to five.

Pete Thamel of Sports Illustrated believes the rough showing reflects poorly on the entire conference, even with a win:

The overtime victory caused Auburn to drop significantly in all three polls from its spot in the Top 10, although Paul Finebaum of SEC Network was surprised the fall wasn't worse:

They say all that matters is winning, but it's clear you need to do more than that when facing a weak opponent like this one.

Of course, there were some teams that had enjoyable weeks. BYU is certainly celebrating a nice rise in the polls after a surprising win over Boise State, which featured a dramatic late passing touchdown for the second week in a row:

That throw from Tanner Mangum to Mitchell Juergens didn't end the game like the play to beat Nebraska the week before, but this one did come on a fourth down with 45 seconds left and the Cougars trailing by four. This gave BYU the lead, which was then extended on an interception returned for a touchdown on the next drive.

We don't know how long this stretch of fortunate plays will continue for BYU, but as long as the team wins, it will keep moving up in the polls.

One program to keep an eye on despite not moving much from last week is Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish also had somewhat of a miracle victory thanks to a 39-yard touchdown with 12 seconds left, but the question is how well the team will respond to injuries going forward.

Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports broke down the losses the team has already suffered this season:

It's hard for any team to survive these types of injuries so early in the year, which could make it difficult for Notre Dame to keep up its undefeated season for too long. Still, anything can happen, as we continue to see throughout the country.

With next week featuring games like Notre Dame-Georgia Tech, Alabama-Ole Miss and BYU-UCLA, the major changes across the polls are just beginning.


Follow Rob Goldberg on Twitter for more year-round sports analysis.

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College Football Picks Week 3: Odds, Predictions, Schedule, Rankings for Top 25

On the heels of a thrilling weekend of college football that is still being digested, there's no stopping the 2015 regular-season train as it chugs toward Week 3.

Before those matchups can truly be dissected, however, it's worth seeing how Saturday's action impacted the Top 25 rankings across the board. Along with the count of SEC teams dropping from an all-time high 10 to "just" seven, Michigan State also climbed into a top-five spot and Auburn plummeted 12 spots despite holding on in overtime against Jacksonville State.

But in reality, the rankings are perused over during the early days of the week just to get us by until the next Saturday. With that in mind, let's go ahead and check out what there is to look forward to.


College Football Top 25 for Week 3

Rankings courtesy of Amway coaches'Associated Press and Bleacher Report


Week 3 Schedule and Predictions


No. 18 Auburn at No. 13 LSU

Things don't get any easier for the Auburn Tigers. One week after surviving a scare against pesky FCS opponent Jacksonville State, Auburn steps right into Death Valley with another group of Tigers smelling blood.

Gus Malzahn's crew saw their aspirations of being an early Top 10 team fly away in the wind with their test against the Gamecocks, dropping them from No. 6 all the way to 18th. Still intact is their undefeated record, somehow, but that could very well change this weekend.

As noted by Russ Mitchell of, Auburn's opponent in Week 2 simply threw away their chance to knock off the Tigers, and you can't expect the same from one of the SEC's elite:

Questions were asked of how LSU would respond in its de facto season opener after its opening-weekend match was cancelled due to weather, but Les Miles' squad responded strongly. They jumped out to an early lead on the road at Mississippi State, holding on late to a 21-19 win.

Perhaps most encouraging was a breakout performance from quarterback Brandon Harris, who struggled much of last season. His playmaking ability could take the Tigers over the top, although there are still issues to be worked out as Fox Sports' Tim Brando noted:

It's tough to imagine Auburn playing anything similar to how it did against Jacksonville State, after a week of looking itself in the mirror and assessing what went wrong. But despite some late struggles against the Bulldogs, that LSU offensive attack is real.

Meanwhile, we saw firsthand Saturday just how far Auburn has to come on the offensive side—its usual bread and butter. Still working out the kinks, Auburn will fall to a hungry and now battle-tested LSU.

Prediction: LSU 27, Auburn 20


No. 19 BYU at No. 10 UCLA

After a pair of impressive victories to start the season, the UCLA Bruins get their first of many tests to their championship aspirations Saturday at home against BYU.

The Cougars come in ranked 19th in the nation and peaking after their incredible comeback over Boise State that included a go-ahead touchdown pass from 35 yards out with 45 seconds left. But they're still reeling after losing quarterback Taysom Hill to his third season-ending injury in the season opener.

Like he was scripted for it, however, unseasoned backup Tanner Mangum came in to save the day and take hold of BYU's offense from here on out. He rallied BYU from a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit, connecting on three touchdowns—one with his legs.

Many around the nation are impressed with the player who is finally getting his shot, as Fox Sports' Bruce Feldman shared:

The hype is warranted for Mangum, but he'll duel against a fellow hotshot young quarterback Saturday. UCLA has its own version of one in freshman Josh Rosen.

Rosen began his Bruins career on a tear with 351 yards and a completion percentage of 80—along with three touchdown passes—against Virginia, and barely cooled off at UNLV. He's already impressing NFL scouts including NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah:

That being said, the two quarterbacks can only do so much to help their teams win. The rest will likely come from two stiff defenses, one of which is a bit more seasoned and ready for the challenge than the other.

UCLA's defense has been nasty so far in 2015, only allowing an average of just over two points per quarter. Expect that trend to continue Saturday as they give Mangum his first loss of his career.

Prediction: UCLA 25, BYU 18

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College Football Rankings 2015: Week 3 Poll Standings, Schedule and Predictions

This Saturday was more like it in college football. After a typical opening weekend filled with powerhouses hosting overmatched competition, the schedule heated up to produce some memorable affairs in Week 2.

The SEC, college football's mighty conference that logged an all-time high of 10 Top 25 teams last week, faced some uncharacteristic issues Saturday as a whole. Not a conference used to early upsets, previously ranked Arkansas suffered a shocking home defeat to Toledo while Auburn had to work some magic to avoid the same against FCS foe Jacksonville State.

The Tigers' near defeat resonated with the voters, who dropped Auburn from sixth all the way to No. 18 in the Associated Press poll for the Week 3 poll. Including Oklahoma's come-from-behind win over Tennessee, the SEC lost three teams from the Top 25.

Of course, no outcome loomed larger than Michigan State's holding off of Oregon in a so-called early-season national quarterfinal. The Spartans got a big win at home, propelling them to fourth and dropping the Ducks to 12th.

Let's take a look at the entire Top 25 for the coming week in three polls, including the Amway coachesAssociated Press and Bleacher Report rankings before glancing at the weekend's top games.


Week 3 College Football Top 25



Week 3 Top 25 Schedule


No. 15 Ole Miss at No. 2 Alabama

Don't get me wrong, both of these teams have been focusing on the business at hand and taking care of their first two opponents of the season. But the date of September 19 has been circled on the calendars of both the Ole Miss Rebels and Alabama Crimson Tide for many months.

Come Saturday, an entire year of unrest and insanity in a brewing SEC West rivalry will come to fruition as the Rebels attempt to pull off a massive upset for the second-straight year. The program may still be riding a high from its upset of the Crimson Tide in 2014.

With that said, to say Nick Saban's crew will come into Saturday's contest with something to prove would be a striking understatement. Alabama's defeat in Oxford last season is still fresh in the minds of many of these players, who will be intent on returning the favor.

Either way, folks, , including Fox Sports' Tim Brando, began talking about the contest as soon as Week 2 play concluded:

Ole Miss should threaten to test Alabama once again in Saturday's game, with an offense that is peaking to start the season. In the first two games, the Rebels have put up an astounding 149 points—more than 70 in both contests.

But this isn't the same Crimson Tide defense with gaping holes in the secondary and issues all over the back end of the defense. So far in 2015, Alabama has shown in shutting down Wisconsin and Middle Tennessee State that it is much improved on that side of the ball.

If that's the case and Ole Miss doesn't have Bo Wallace to will the Rebels offense to 30-plus points, Alabama should win comfortably at home.

Prediction: Alabama 31, Ole Miss 17


No. 14 Georgia Tech at No. 8 Notre Dame

There's no rest for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and their crazy schedule. One week after escaping an incredible road test from Virginia and losing their star quarterback for the season, Notre Dame turns around to host Top 15 foe Georgia Tech.

Somehow, the Fighting Irish found a way to win in Virginia Saturday, but they lost something—someone, rather—that could seriously derail their season. Malik Zaire, at 20 years old, was turning into a star before our very eyes, making some incredible plays in the game that Notre Dame will miss for the rest of the year.

With that said, many like the Irish's chances of still running the table, including Bleacher Report's Matt Miller:

Of course, coming from behind against Virginia is one thing, but winning without Zaire for 60 minutes against this Georgia Tech team will be a tough sell. The Yellow Jackets are stout across the board defensively, enough to contain Notre Dame's many playmakers.

Despite still struggling to reach the Top 15, Georgia Tech is impressing many folks, including Dan Wolken of USA Today:

It's Georgia Tech's offense that should truly scare Brian Kelly and the Notre Dame coaching staff. While the Yellow Jackets won't rack up the passing yards like Virginia did Saturday, the Cavaliers still rushed for four yards per carry—which Georgia Tech should easily surpass.

The ACC's leading rushing team by nearly 400 yards already this season, Georgia Tech's triple-option attack will be too much for Notre Dame to handle. Expect the Yellow Jackets to pull off the upset in South Bend.

Prediction: Georgia Tech 31, Notre Dame 28

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Notre Dame vs. Georgia Tech Complete Game Preview

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — The outlook for Notre Dame football’s season changed when quarterback Malik Zaire’s ankle crumpled in the third quarter of Saturday’s come-from-behind win over Virginia.

But the Irish must find answers—both with the defense and new starting quarterback DeShone Kizer—quickly, as No. 14 Georgia Tech strolls into Notre Dame Stadium on Saturday for a top-15 clash in South Bend.

Since fall camp began in August, Notre Dame has lost starting nose tackle Jarron Jones, freshman nickelback Shaun Crawford, starting running back Tarean Folston and now Zaire to season-ending injuries. Still, the Irish are 2-0 and have a chance to grab a marquee win at home against the Yellow Jackets.

“Teams have to overcome injuries,” Irish head coach Brian Kelly said to reporters after Saturday’s 34-27 win over the Cavaliers. “It’s unfortunate, but it is what it is. We’ll find a way to put it together so we can win football games with DeShone Kizer as our starting quarterback.”

Suddenly, the questions entering Saturday’s tilt with the Yellow Jackets concern more than just how Notre Dame defends the triple option. Virginia exploited the Irish defense for more than 400 yards, and the Irish have struggled in recent years against option attacks.

“We'll have to be more disciplined in what we do in pass coverage, even against Georgia Tech, or we're not going to be in very good position,” Kelly said in reference to the secondary’s issues against the Cavaliers.


Date: Saturday, September 19

Time: 3:30 p.m. ET

Place: Notre Dame Stadium in Notre Dame, Indiana


Radio: IMG College Sports, SiriusXM Channel 129

Spread: Notre Dame by 2, according to Odds Shark

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Northern Illinois vs. Ohio State: Complete Game Preview

After opening the season with a physical and emotional win over Virginia Tech on the road, No. 1 Ohio State (2-0) looked sluggish in a 38-0 victory over Hawaii last week. Urban Meyer will look to get his Buckeyes back on track as they host Northern Illinois this Saturday.

The Huskies aren't just a typical walkover MAC team, though, as they've won the conference in two of the last four years, and they're one of the favorites to win it again in 2015. Rod Carey's squad is off to a good start, posting back-to-back wins over UNLV and Murray State to open the season.

Can Northern Illinois give Ohio State a fight? 


Date: Saturday, Sept. 19

Time: 3:30 p.m. ET

Place: Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio


Radio: Ohio State Football Radio Network, Northern Illinois Radio Network

Spread: Ohio State (-31.5), via Odds Shark 

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College Football Week 3 Odds: Irish, Buckeyes, Tide Are Week 3 Betting Favorites

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish won't have starting quarterback Malik Zaire on the field for their Week 3 contest at home against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, but they still opened as small betting favorites for the game at sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark.

Zaire suffered a broken ankle in the Fighting Irish's 34-27 win over the Virginia Cavaliers in Week 2, with redshirt freshman DeShone Kizer now the team's starting quarterback. Kizer tossed a 39-yard touchdown strike to Will Fuller late against the Cavaliers to give his team the victory, though it failed to cover the 13.5-point spread.

For this week, Notre Dame opened as a two-point home favorite against Georgia Tech, with the Yellow Jackets 2-0 both straight up and against the spread so far this season. The betting trends for the week also point out that Georgia Tech is 4-0 ATS in its last four games against Notre Dame and 9-0 ATS in its last nine games overall.

Meanwhile, the top-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes opened as huge 31.5-point home favorites for their Week 3 game against the visiting Northern Illinois Huskies. Ohio State was a 42.5-point home favorite against the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors in Week 2 and fell short of covering the spread in a 38-0 shutout win. The Buckeyes have an all-time record of 22-0 straight up against MAC teams.

The Alabama Crimson Tide are 29-0 straight up in their last 29 games in the month of September, according to the Odds Shark college football database, and they opened as 8.5-point home favorites against the Mississippi Rebels for Week 3. The Auburn Tigers, 4-1 ATS in their last five games against the LSU Tigers, opened as 6.5-point road underdogs for the matchup between those two schools this week.

Out on the West Coast, the USC Trojans opened as eight-point home favorites against the Stanford Cardinal for Saturday, with the Trojans holding a 4-1 record both straight up and ATS in their last five games in September. The UCLA Bruins, 6-1 ATS in their last seven games overall, opened as 14.5-point home favorites for their Week 3 matchup against the BYU Cougars.

And in a pair of marquee weekday clashes, the Florida State Seminoles opened as 10.5-point road favorites against the Boston College Eagles for Friday night, and the Clemson Tigers vs. Louisville Cardinals matchup for Thursday opened as a pick 'em on the betting lines.

Florida State is 29-1 straight up in its last 30 games, while the under wager has paid out in nine of its last 11 games on the road for totals bettors. Clemson is a perfect 4-0 both straight up and ATS in its past four games, while Louisville is 0-5 ATS in its five most recent games at home.

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Meet the AP Poll Voters Who Ranked Michigan State No. 1 over Ohio State

Ohio State's unprecedented dominance of the No. 1 votes in the Associated Press Top 25 Poll didn't last long.

Two AP voters decided to put the Buckeyes' top competition in the Big Ten—the Michigan State Spartans—on top of their respective ballots in the Week 3 poll, which was released Sunday.

One of those voters may come as a surprise to some college football fans. 

Doug Lesmerises of the Northeast Ohio Media Group, who covers the Buckeyes, put Michigan State at No. 1 and Ohio State at No. 2 in his ballot.

But for those who have read Lesmerises in the past and know his basis for ranking teams, the Spartans aren't too much of a shock after their 31-28 home victory over defending Pac-12 champion Oregon on Saturday night.

"As always, I vote on results," Lesmerises wrote Sunday. "And the Spartans' win over Oregon, though at home and against a team without a quarterback quite like last year's Heisman winner, Marcus Mariota, was the best win in the country so far."

And as someone who has watched Ohio State closely in the first two weeks of the season, Lesmerises isn't overly impressed with how the Buckeyes looked in their road win over Virginia Tech and their shutout over Hawaii in Week 2.

"Ohio State's schedule didn't allow the Buckeyes a win like that in the first two weeks, and the Buckeyes didn't play eight dominant quarters in their two wins," Lesmerises wrote. "They did pull away in a tough environment at Virginia Tech in week one after trailing at halftime and the outcome was never in doubt against Hawaii in week two."

Lesmerises results-over-everything style led to a few more shakeups in his AP ballot for Week 3, including:

  • UCLA at No. 5
  • LSU at No. 7
  • Baylor at No. 10 
  • Northwestern at No. 14
  • Temple at No. 21
  • Toledo at No. 24
  • Houston at No. 25

The second AP voter to put the Spartans above the Buckeyes this weekend was Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News—another voter who has raised some eyebrows in the past with his methods.

Like Lesmerises, Wilner weighted his ballot toward results, and he had Michigan State recording the best win of the young season against Oregon.

After all, he made a similar move this time last year, as he noted in a post Sunday.

"This very week last year, I moved Oregon to No. 1—ahead of the undefeated, top-ranked, defending champions (Florida State)—after the Ducks beat … you know where this is going … Michigan State," Wilner wrote. "Oregon over MSU was the best win to that point. MSU over Oregon is the best win thus far."

But Wilner's biggest surprise might have been what he did with the team Michigan State beat Saturday night.

In his ballot, Wilner moved Oregon several spots up to No. 4—and he even thought about moving the Ducks higher.

"Thought about slotting them right behind Michigan State, given how close the game was," Wilner said. "But I ultimately decided Ohio State’s win over VaTech [sic] (road) and Alabama’s win over Wisconsin (neutral) deserved an ever-so-slight slight edge over Oregon’s loss in East Lansing."

While Lesmerises and Wilner will receive some criticism from fans for not putting Ohio State at No. 1, it's refreshing to see two pollsters who approach the task from a different angle. Instead of just sticking with the baseline Top 25 and adjusting from there, they're bringing their own reasoning to the table.

Hopefully some of their AP colleagues will follow suit.


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

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College Football's All-Week 2 First Team: Top Performers at Every Position

While a handful of major teams left Week 2 of the college football season reeling thanks to slow, underwhelming performances, plenty of players across the country were able to hold their heads high after some pure statistical dominance.

Some stars completely took over games as their teammates struggled to get things going against lesser competition. Others recorded bounce-back performances by stuffing stat sheets and moving up the national leaderboards in several categories.

Week 2 might have been a letdown for some, but it definitely wasn't for the players chosen in this week's All-American team.

As a reminder, players who had big games against better competition will get some extra love on the first and second teams. But the quickest way to make the cut here is to rack up the numbers that fans everywhere just can't ignore.

Here is the college football All-Week 2 team and some highly deserving second-team honors. Cast your vote on who you think had the best performances this weekend in the comment section below.

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College Football Rankings 2015: Hits and Misses from the Week 3 Polls

Remember when Week 2 of the college football season was supposed to be boring? Good times. 

That's the beautiful nature of this sport. When things are supposed to be mundane and go according to plan, they rarely do. Despite a slow start early in the day, the night games Saturday were superb. Oregon-Michigan State went down to the wire, as did LSU-Mississippi State, and BYU pulled off another thrilling victory. 

Now, it's time to digest all that happened and evaluate the USA Today Amway Coaches Poll and the Associated Press Top 25. 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 Saturday's action but what has transpired so far this season.

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AP College Football Poll 2015: Complete Week 3 Rankings Revealed

Michigan State ascended and Auburn came close to a catastrophe, but after two weeks, the top of the Associated Press college football poll remains unchanged.

The Buckeyes remain the nation's top-ranked team after a 38-0 thrashing of Hawaii, again looking a little shaky in the early quarters before putting the game away late. They're followed again by Alabama, which had no problem with Middle Tennessee, and TCU, which put up a 70 spot on Stephen F. Austin. Michigan State and Baylor round out the Top Five.

Here is a look at how the entire Top 25 played out:

No team did more for itself this weekend than Michigan State, even though it only nabbed a one-spot leap. The Spartans atoned for last year's collapse in Eugene with a 31-28 victory over Oregon in East Lansing. Madre London rushed for 103 yards, Connor Cook threw for two touchdowns and the Michigan State defense held on late for one of the biggest regular-season wins of the Mark Dantonio era.

"How you perform after this is just as important as how you perform this game," Dantonio said on his radio show on Spartan Sports Network, per Justin Dacey of "We'll either have to handle success or we'll have to handle adversity. Either one, we're going to have to handle things emotionally and we can't get too far ahead of ourselves." 

Oregon, which was in Spartans territory before its final drive stalled out, drops to No. 12. The Ducks got 309 passing yards from quarterback Vernon Adams Jr., but the senior transfer threw two picks and missed on what would have been a touchdown pass to Byron Marshall late in the fourth. 

"I have to be better than that," Adams said, per George Schroeder of USA Today. "I need to make those throws to give us a chance to win the game."

ESPN's Mike Greenberg believes Saturday was a sign of things to come for Oregon:

For the most part, the top of the rankings were filled with strong victories. Florida State, USC and Georgia continued to look strong against elite opponents, while Notre Dame overcame the loss of quarterback Malik Zaire to earn a last-minute win over Virginia. Zaire suffered a broken ankle during the third quarter, leaving sophomore DeShone Kizer to take over down the stretch.

"Our kids are happy and they're celebrating the win, but they lost a kid they feel really strongly about," Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said, per "The coaches are probably feeling it more. I am in particular because I'm so close to him. I feel bad for him."

Of course, there was one major exception among the nation's elite. Auburn struggled for the second straight week, this time needing overtime to take down FCS school Jacksonville State at home. Quarterback Jeremy Johnson threw two interceptions and the Tigers defense allowed Jacksonville State to hold possession for nearly 36 minutes.

"We've got some growing up to do; there's no doubt about that," coach Gus Malzahn said, per

The Tigers drop 12 spots to No. 18 and are among the biggest losers this week. Luckily, their "loss" was actually a win, meaning they'll be just fine for College Football Playoff contention if they course-correct in SEC play. The time to adjust is right now, though, as they travel to LSU next week in their conference opener.

Also moving back this week are Mississippi State, Tennessee, Boise State and Arkansas, which each dropped out of the Top 25. Replacing them are No. 19 BYU, No. 23 Northwestern, No. 24 Wisconsin and No. 25 Oklahoma State.


Follow Tyler Conway (@tylerconway22) on Twitter

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College Football Playoff Hopefuls That Have Not Been Tested Yet

The 2015 college football season is still in its relative infancy. By and large, teams haven't been challenged too much just yet since they haven't gotten into the meat of their schedules. As a result, we're still trying to learn what to make of many teams, including a number of playoff hopefuls. 

We'll figure out more about teams like Baylor, Ole Miss and USC in time. But for now, it's been smooth sailing for those three, plus a handful of others. These are the playoff hopefuls who haven't yet been challenged through two games. 

Taken into consideration first and foremost is margin of victory. It matters less if opponents are of the Power 5 variety or FCS teams. Additionally, we're sticking with preseason Associated Press/USA Today Amway Coaches Poll Top-25 teams on the list of contenders. 

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College Football Rankings 2015: AP, Amway Standings Revealed for Week 3 Polls

Outside of one high-profile showdown, the aftermath of a rather tame Week 2 doesn't shuffle much when it comes to Week 3 college football rankings.

At home, the Michigan State Spartans used the national scale to announce their contention for the College Football Playoff with a 31-28 triumph against the Oregon Ducks.

Outside of what many will consider a classic, there wasn't much in the way of upsets or surprises as most teams worked through final tuneups before things get serious in the coming weeks.

Here's a full look at the Amway Coaches, Associated Press and Bleacher Report Top 25 polls:

Start right at the top, where little changes thanks to a strong performance by Urban Meyer's Ohio State Buckeyes. 

It was business as usual in Columbus with Cardale Jones throwing for 111 yards and Ezekiel Elliott running wild with 101 yards and three scores against Hawaii. Don't expect much to change in the coming weeks, either, not with Northern Illinois and Western Michigan on the slate.

Really, the previous Top Four went as expected, with Alabama cruising 37-10 against Middle Tennessee, TCU going 70-7 against Stephen F. Austin and Baylor at 66-31 against Lamar.

Michigan State-Oregon had the chance to chop things up, but the Spartans found revenge for a loss one season ago while managing to force new Ducks starter Vernon Adams Jr. into two interceptions and holding the explosive Royce Freeman to 92 yards and a score on a 3.8 per-carry average.

As ESPN Stats & Info shared, the result wasn't as big of a surprise as some might expect:

"It feels like back in 2013, when we won the Rose Bowl. We won the Big Ten Championship Game," Spartans quarterback Connor Cook said, per "So I'd rank it right up there with those games, for sure."

The result helped keep the Spartans right in the thick of the Top Five in all polls, which makes sense considering Baylor's defense looked so sloppy and TCU has yet to play serious competition.

As for other big winners? Unranked BYU took down No. 21 Boise State 35-24 on a late touchdown pass from Tanner Mangum, while the Cougars defense held the Broncos to a 2-of-12 mark on third down and just 361 total yards.

In a ranked clash, Oklahoma proved the SEC isn't always top dog by taking down Tennessee, 31-24. USA Today's Dan Wolken described the situation best for both programs:

In an early ranked SEC encounter, LSU took care of business against Mississippi State, 21-19, with Les Miles' team announcing it's a serious threat by not only holding Dak Prescott to one touchdown, but with Leonard Fournette rushing for three scores. 

LSU wasn't shy after about breaking down just how dominant the defense looked against a Heisman Trophy hopeful:

Which teams join Boise State in the biggest losers column? How about Auburn, which needed overtime to escape with a 27-20 win against Jacksonville State. The Tigers needed a touchdown in the final minute of regulation just to get to extra frames to avoid one of the biggest upsets in the sport's history.

Also avoiding an upset was Notre Dame, 34-27 winners against Virginia. In what should be an encouraging late win, though, the Fighting Irish lost quarterback Malik Zaire for the season to a broken ankle, per

"Our kids are happy and they're celebrating the win, but they lost a kid they feel really strongly about," coach Brian Kelly said. "The coaches are probably feeling it more. I am in particular because I'm so close to him. I feel bad for him."

Perhaps most shocking and the topper on a miserable weekend for the SEC was Arkansas' upset at the hands of Toledo. The up-and-coming program led by coach Bret Bielema managed just 103 rushing yards in an ugly 16-12 affair.

Expect more rankings shuffles next weekend. Auburn and LSU clash, as do Notre Dame and Georgia Tech. UCLA and BYU will determine which program deserves the hype, and Alabama-Ole Miss could go either way, as SEC contests tend to do.

In other words, the world of rankings is just heating up.


Stats and information via ESPN unless otherwise specified.

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Florida HC Jim McElwain Not out of Line in Sideline Tirade

We are in a day and age where cameras are everywhere, and moments that used to be private get broadcast to the public instantaneously thanks to the miracle of modern technology.

First-year Florida head coach Jim McElwain found that out the hard way during Saturday night's 31-24 win over East Carolina at "The Swamp."

Following a seven-yard touchdown run by junior Kelvin Taylor in the fourth quarter that gave the Gators a 31-17 lead on the Pirates, Taylor was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct for giving the "throat slash" gesture on a score that essentially put the game on ice.

McElwain was not pleased, gathered his team around and went off on Taylor—the son of former Gators running back and NFL veteran Fred Taylor.

OK, that looks bad, but what did he actually say? Thanks to cellphone video from fans near the sideline, we can also hear it (Warning: Video below contains profanity).

The first-year head coach of the Gators didn't back down when he addressed the situation in the postgame press conference, according to Scott Carter of

Our lack of playing with discipline and understanding how you play the game crept up. It was embarrassing. We've got a long ways to go. It starts with understanding selfish acts hurt the team, and it will be dealt with. And it's not how it's going to be around here anymore.

Good for McElwain.

This was the first chance he has truly had to instill his brand of discipline on the Gators within the structure of the game, and not only did he knock that opportunity out of the park, he did so in a fashion that will resonate through the program and on the recruiting trail.

Cole Cubelic, host on 730 AM WUMP in Huntsville, Alabama, and analyst on the SEC Network, played center for Auburn in the late '90s and early 2000s and knows what this is like.

"When it comes to coaches yelling at their players, I was coached by one of the best to ever do it," he said of former Auburn and current Florida State offensive line coach Rick Trickett. "This incident doesn't bother me because it didn't turn physical, which would be crossing the line. This is nothing new and is not out of line."

As Cam Underwood of noted on Twitter, you can bet opposing coaches took note and will try to use that against McElwain.

McElwain doesn't care, though.

If a player or a player's family doesn't want to be taught discipline in the way McElwain teaches it, he's not meant for the Florida program anyway. At least, that's the way McElwain and his staff likely feel about it.

If this seems familiar, it is.

McElwain coached under Alabama head coach Nick Saban as his offensive coordinator from 2008-2011. During that time, he witnessed firsthand Saban's tirade on former quarterback AJ McCarron late in a blowout win over Mississippi State in 2010.

All Saban has done since then is reel in top-ranked recruiting classes year after year and won two national titles.

Sure, it's a moment that will be blasted all over the Internet, be discussed heavily on talk shows and live on forever in today's age of social media.

That doesn't mean McElwain was in the wrong, though.

He was doing his job, plain and simple. The Florida football program will be better off in the long run because of it.


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

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

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Amway College Football Poll 2015: Complete Week 3 Rankings Revealed

Two weeks into the 2015 college football season, the Amway coaches poll already looks vastly different than the preseason Top 25. 

Michigan State's win over Oregon in the season's first matchup of two Top 10 teams provided the biggest changes at the top of the standings, but Auburn's escape against Jacksonville State was one of the few times a victory came at a steep price. 

Here's how the coaches voted in this week's poll:

The Spartans got their moment of revenge in a 31-28 win over Oregon, payback for last year's loss in Eugene, and were rewarded by the coaches with a two-spot jump in the poll to No. 4.

Oregon's inability to defeat elite teams on the road continues to be a problem, as ESPN Stats & Info pointed out after the loss:

Winning away from home is never easy, especially against top-ranked opposition, but it seems odd that the Ducks have been so great for so long without having more victories in those big moments.

The silver lining for Oregon is that its only remaining game against an opponent currently in the Top 25 is USC at home on November 25. 

On the other side, per's Brian Bennett, Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio is really happy about what the victory means for his team. 

"In my mind, this is a stepping-stone game," Dantonio said. "It will pay dividends at the end of the season."

Since Michigan State moved into the upper tier of college programs two years ago, it's lost two games in September—against Notre Dame in 2013 and against Oregon in 2014—that wound up hurting the team's national title hopes late in the season.

Looking at the current rankings and projecting forward, Notre Dame's spot in the Top 10 looks tenuous simply because of Malik Zaire's injury. The Fighting Irish starting quarterback suffered a fractured ankle against Virginia, ending his season, per Pete Sampson of Irish Illustrated.

Notre Dame was able to steal a victory from the Cavaliers thanks to this DeShone Kizer 39-yard touchdown pass to Will Fuller, via ESPN College Football:

Kizer was terrific in relief of Zaire, going 8-of-12 for 92 yards and two touchdowns, but Notre Dame's schedule really picks up, with three of the next five games against Georgia Tech, Clemson and USC.

Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly does have experience in situations like this from his time at Cincinnati. In 2008, the Bearcats lost starting quarterback Dustin Grutza to a fractured fibula in early September. Tony Pike took over and led the team to an 11-3 record and an appearance in the Orange Bowl. 

Yet no team lost more in a victory than Auburn, which fell eight spots to 15th. Optimism was high around the Tigers coming into the year, as the coaches voted them seventh in the preseason poll, but the bloom has fallen off the rose despite a 2-0 record. 

It was only because of a bad punt by Jacksonville State in the final minutes of regulation that Auburn took the game into overtime. 

Joel Klatt of Fox Sports 1, who votes in the Associated Press poll, took a hard-line stance against the Tigers:

The problem for Auburn is there was no reason to raise expectations so high before the season. The roster lost too many significant contributors, especially on offense, to anticipate a massive improvement from last year's 8-5 record. 

Unless Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn is recruiting at the same level as Urban Meyer or Nick Saban, there's going to be a period of adjustment. That has shown so far this season, making the team's descent in the rankings wholly justified. 

Yet that is also part of what makes college football so great. There can be expectations around a team before the season, but no one really knows anything until games start. Dynamics change due to erratic performances or injuries. 

Ohio State and Alabama may end the season as the top two teams in the country, or Auburn could figure out what's been wrong thus far and emerge as a playoff contender. 

Things will continue to change until the end of the year, so the latest rankings are merely a snapshot in time that is going to shift all over again next week. 

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Utah Football Players Shot at Party, Expected to Be OK

Utah head football coach Kyle Whittingham confirmed Sunday that two players, freshman running back Marcel Brooks-Brown and sophomore tight end Lo Falemaka, suffered gunshot wounds to the torso late Saturday evening at a party in Salt Lake City.

ESPN's Ted Miller posted statements from the school and police, including Whittingham's remarks about how both players are expected to make a full recovery:

This is the second time Falemaka has been involved in a dangerous altercation. While attending Cottonwood High School in the Salt Lake City area in 2010, he was the victim of an attack by four men that left him with facial injuries and a possibly torn ACL.

Brooks-Brown was the 55th-ranked running back in the Class of 2015 and a 3-star recruit, according to 247Sports. Initial reports suggest he and Falemaka will be OK.

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College Football Playoff 2015: Predicting NCAA Final Four After Week 2 Results

The college football season is in full swing as teams have finished up their second week of games. The 2015-16 season will mark the second year of the four-team playoff, and although the playoff rankings don't start coming out for a few weeks (the first rankings drop on November 3, according to,it's never too early to start making predictions on which teams will make the playoffs.

The top-ranked and defending champion Ohio State Buckeyes have to be considered the favorites again this season, but a few other teams have looked strong to start the season as well. Here's a look at the AP Top 25 as well as the coaches poll, courtesy of ESPN.

Both polls have the same Top Four with Ohio State, Alabama, TCU and Baylor topping the polls. Here's a look at a prediction for the four teams that will compete for this year's national title.

1. Ohio State

2. Alabama

3. TCU

4. USC

The top two teams here are fairly easy picks. The Buckeyes are the defending champs, and since they don't play another team that is currently ranked until their matchup with Michigan State on November 21, their path to a second consecutive playoff is favorable to say the least. The only foreseeable way Ohio State could miss the playoffs at this point is if it gets tripped up somewhere in the regular season and in the Big Ten Championship Game.

Alabama has a much tougher road to the playoffs, but it has looked the part early on. Running back Derrick Henry has looked like a Heisman contender through the first two weeks, and if the Crimson Tide continue to feed him he could carry them through the season. As Joel Klatt of Fox Sports points out, good things happen when Henry gets the ball.

Alabama's schedule is admittedly tough, with road matchups against Georgia, Texas A&M, Mississippi and Auburn on the slate. But if the Crimson Tide emerge as champions of the SEC, look for them to return to the playoffs.

The third and fourth spots are where it starts to get tricky. You could put any number of teams in there right now including Michigan State, TCU, Baylor, Oregon and USC. But for now TCU and USC are getting the edge.

Some might say TCU shouldn't get a spot because it doesn't play a conference title game. That's a reasonable argument considering both TCU and Baylor got left out last year. But TCU has a Heisman candidate of its own in quarterback Trevone Boykin.

If Boykin and the Horned Frogs run the table, which would include taking care of business at home against Baylor in the regular-season finale, TCU should get in.

The team you may not have expected to see here is USC. But it has the talent to make some noise in the Pac-12, especially after Oregon's loss to Michigan State. The Trojans are led by senior quarterback Cody Kessler. Kessler tossed 39 touchdowns against only five interceptions a year ago, and if he continues to make strides he can turn USC into a dangerous squad.

Of course, it will not be easy to make the playoffs out of the Pac-12. The Trojans have tough road games at Arizona State, Notre Dame and Oregon, but if USC knocks off Oregon and finishes the season with one loss as Pac-12 champs, it could find its way into college football's postseason tournament.

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SEC Football: Best Performances of Week 2

Week 2 of the college football season didn't go according to plan for several SEC teams.

Arkansas lost in Little Rock to Toledo. Auburn got taken to overtime by Jacksonville State. Florida struggled with East Carolina, and Tennessee blew a two-touchdown lead in the final frame to fall to Oklahoma. 

With that said, though, some stars shined bright within the conference.

Which players shined brightest? Our picks based on production and importance to their teams are in this slideshow.

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