NCAA Football News

Michigan Football: 5 Storylines to Watch Down the Stretch

The Michigan football program has entered the final month of its season, and a handful of storylines surround the Wolverines down the stretch.

Following a loss to Utah in the opener, Michigan became a dominant team carried by its defense and demanded a place in the national spotlight. However, the unit's most recent outing was forgettable at best.

Conversely, the offensive line has faltered. But one explosive player could bolster a purely average Wolverines attack throughout the final four games of the regular season.

How Michigan fares in those four outings will determine whether or not it can steal a Big Ten championship, though the Wolverines must challenge a longtime rival first.

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Georgia Football: Game-by-Game Predictions for November

After finishing September with a 4-0 record, the Georgia Bulldogs stumbled in October, wining only one of their four games. The Bulldogs were defeated by Alabama to start October, lost to Tennessee the following week, barely got by Missouri and then ended the month with an embarrassing performance against Florida.

So it’s safe to say Mark Richt’s team is glad to have October out of the way and will be looking to finish the season strong with a better November. Georgia will face two more conference rivals and two in-state opponents to end the season.

The Bulldogs may no longer be in contention for the SEC East title, but if they can somehow finish the year with a four-game winning steak, they'll at least have something to build on in 2016.

So here are the Bulldogs’ game-by-game predictions for November.

 

November 7: vs. Kentucky

The Bulldogs are coming off a blowout loss to Florida, and the Wildcats are coming off a double-digit loss to Tennessee. So both teams are looking to bounce back and start the month right.

Kentucky lost its last three games, and they surrendered at least 30 points in all three losses. The Wildcats have struggled on defense all season, allowing just over 29 points per game.

The offense has been nothing to brag about either, as the Wildcats score 24.3 points per game and total 387 yards per game.

The one player to watch is Mikel Horton, who rushed for over 100 yards against Tennessee. If he can get going, the Wildcats can pull off the upset. But when it’s all said and done, the Bulldogs have more talent than the Wildcats, and they should be able to do enough on offense and defense to hand them their fourth consecutive loss.

Georgia 28, Kentucky 14

 

November 14: at Auburn

Georgia and Auburn were in the same boat before the season began. Georgia was picked as the favorite to win the SEC East, while Auburn was the favorite to win the entire conference.

However, because of quarterback issues, both Auburn and Georgia have had disappointing seasons up to this point.

The Tigers' quarterback issues have hindered their scoring this season, as they rank 10th in the SEC in points per game. And Auburn might have worst defense in the SEC, as it gives up 446.5 yards per game.

Peyton Barber has been one of the few highlights for the Tigers, rushing for 787 yards and 12 touchdowns. Georgia will need to limit his yards in order to make the Tigers one-dimensional. If that happens, the Bulldogs should win their final SEC game of the year.

I liked a @YouTube video http://t.co/vv4vQktEha Auburn - Peyton Barber - TD

— Garrett (@AnimatedGamers1) October 4, 2015

Georgia 30, Auburn 21

 

November 21: vs. Georgia Southern

After Auburn, Georgia will face Georgia Southern, their third non-conference opponent of the year, at Sanford Stadium.

The Eagles are the defending Sun Belt Conference Champions, and they have a chance to win it again this season. They lead the nation in rushing with 385.6 yards per game and running back Matt Breida has been one of the best running backs in the nation, rushing for 1,158 yards and 13 touchdowns.

Because of its option offense, Georgia Southern will give the Bulldogs fits to start the game, and it will be close at the half. But the Bulldogs have more talent and too much depth for the game to remain close in the fourth quarter.

Georgia 42, Georgia Southern 24

 

November 28: at Georgia Tech

This will be the most interesting game of the month for the Bulldogs. Both teams had high expectations before the season, and both teams failed to live up to them.

Georgia Tech did beat Florida State two weeks ago to hand the Seminoles their first loss of the year, but that was the Yellow Jackets’ only conference win, and they have three wins overall.

Georgia Tech has issues on defense, ranking 11th in the ACC in scoring and total defense. And the Yellow Jackets are not a threat in the passing game, as they rank 13th in the conference in passing offense.

Since everyone is about to get angry, let's watch something fun first and remember that it's WHAT A TIME TO BE ALIVE https://t.co/cXte8HLVaj

— Matt Brown (@MattBrownCFB) November 3, 2015

The last two times these teams faced off, the game went to overtime. And based on how both teams have played this season, this game should be another close battle.

One thing to note about this series is that Richt has never lost at Bobby Dodd Stadium. And because this is the final regular-season game and changes to the coaching staff are possible, according to Dan Wolken of USA Today, the Bulldogs will play hard for Richt and finish the season strong.

Georgia 28, Georgia Tech 25

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How Mike Sherman Went from Coaching Favre to Coaching an 0-8 High School Team

For decades, Mike Sherman's world was about Super Bowls and super-sized TV contracts, super-fancy offices and super-expensive stadium renovations, super-rich boosters and super-big egos.

He was head coach and general manager of the Packers and had Hall of Famer Brett Favre as his quarterback. He was head coach at Texas A&M and had top-10 draft pick Ryan Tannehill as his quarterback.

For decades, Sherman was the big time.

And now?

Now, his quarterback (and defensive back) is 155-pound Travis Van Vleck, who will probably go on to greatness someday, but not in football.

Now, Sherman says, "It's a little noisy, holding meetings on a school bus on the way to games."

Yes, that is Sherman's new world. He's now a first-year head coach at Nauset Regional High School in Eastham, Massachusetts.

I'd love to tell you that this is a story ready for Hollywood, that he excited a community just with his presence, took an underdog group and showed it the way to victory from a big-timer's knowledge mixed with inner caring.

Actually, most of that is true. Except for the victory part. Nauset is 0-8.

"We have a lot of young, young kids, and we've lost a fair amount of linemen to injury and one who decided to do something else," Sherman says.

You don't often lose players in the NFL because they "decided to do something else." The natural question is: How is Sherman taking this? Is he crestfallen?

Not at all.

"It's still frustrating when we don't win. I want to win games for the kids. Want to see them have success," Sherman says. "We try to teach lessons about perseverance. Even when you lose, you can grow and develop, even if you don't recognize it now.

"I always tell them everything you do on the field matters in your life: how you pay attention to detail, what kind of effort you give. Everything matters. Everything plays out in season, plays out in life. Hopefully, even if you don't see it now, it will help you to become successful and develop a game plan in life."

Our definition of success needs to include what Sherman is doing. It's not all about how much money or spotlight you get. He is giving back.

Sherman was fired as the Miami Dolphins offensive coordinator after the 2013 season, figured he was in solid financial shape and wanted to finally give his wife, Karen, and kids a set place to live after a coach's life of bouncing to different jobs and cities.

So they settled on Cape Cod, where they have family.

It was never Sherman's plan to coach high school. He didn't need the job. But he accepted an offer to coach for $6,000 a year, partly because he wanted to help kids and partly because all good coaches have a disease when it comes to coaching. They just can't get it out of their blood.

Sherman wanted to hold a football camp and approached Nauset athletic director Keith Kenyon about the possibility of using the school's field. Kenyon was also the head football coach, but he was giving that up to become the assistant principal.

"I just figured at that point, what do I have to lose?" Kenyon said. "When you've got an NFL coach and former Division I college coach on the line, you've got to throw the Hail Mary."

That meant mentioning to Sherman that the head-coaching job was open. Sherman said he wasn't interested. Months passed and Kenyon waited patiently, looking for any chance to sell Sherman on the job. Sherman said he wanted to make sure he'd commit 100 percent, as it's only fair to the kids. And then, finally…

Sherman checked the ego—though he doesn't seem to have one—at the door and took the job.

Kenyon said the team won just three games last year and lost 44 seniors over the past two seasons. What was left for Sherman was an overly young roster. Still, Sherman has struggled to accept the losing.

Kenyon, who stayed on at Sherman's request to coach special teams, reminded him that at the high school level, players suddenly develop.

"I told him that next year, he won't even recognize some of the players," Kenyon said.

The point is, Kenyon said, Sherman will have this team winning soon.

He's already learning and making adjustments. Early this season, he had his team do a walk-through on campus before a night game. Then, the team got on the bus and was nearly late because of something Sherman hadn't planned for: rush-hour traffic.

"We were running a little late when I remembered," he said. "I don't think I've been on a bus the last 30 years without a police escort going to a stadium. It was a little bit of a realization that I was at where I'm at. There's no police escort to games and not 80,000 people in the stands. But I was never wrapped up in those things anyway. When my wife and I decided to live here, and we knew we were going back to high school…you have to check your ego at the door.

"I'm going back 30-plus years to before I went off to be a college coach. It's not a major transition, really, but still when you walk out on the football field and the footballs aren't laid out perfectly and the field's not laid out quite right and the goalposts are a little crooked and you're kicking the ball into the woods, well, that is a little different than what you're used to."

Sherman acknowledged that losing is just as tough now as ever—in some ways, even more so because he's dealing with kids. In talking with Sherman, there is the sense that he's searching for something. He still has the same passion for this as always, he said.

Two weeks ago, I talked with Dennis Erickson, former coach of the San Francisco 49ers and two-time NCAA national champion at Miami. He said that at that top level, he felt the job wasn't even about coaching, but instead about public relations and being a CEO. He is now the running backs coach at Utah, where he feels that while he's at a lower level of a job, he has returned to the purity of coaching.

"That's what's rewarding about coaching," Erickson said. "The situations with young people, regardless of their background, just helping them be successful. … In my first head-coaching job, at Billings Central High School, I got just as much enjoyment out of that as when we were winning the national championship.

"The pressure to win is so unbelievable at some places it kind of ruins the fun. Now, I'm back around to why I really got into coaching."

Sherman has a different attitude.

"I always felt that you could impact people even with players making millions of dollars," he said. "Maybe they look at you a little differently because they see you as management. But it never scared me off as far as trying to develop a guy's talent and asking about his character."

But Sherman, who's 60, said he has gotten a quick reminder that you have to go about it differently with kids.

"They're impacted differently in different ways," he said. "It's something new every day. Kids miss practice with a dental appointment or an eye exam; I'm not used to dealing with those types of things.

"You compliment a young man's performance, and it makes his day, makes his week. Conversely, if you don't present it the right way, you can bury somebody as well. They're very impressionable. With the millennium generation, when things don't go well they kind of panic a little bit. They're multitaskers and can handle a lot of things at once. But they don't handle adversity real well. Still, there are a lot of positives when you see a kid do something for the first time."

Sherman said his style has always been to be direct, call good things good and bad things bad. Now, he's trying to soften up when he talks about the bad. Maybe he refers to things as growing or learning experiences.

And he admitted to backing off one promise. In the NFL, players stay till they get the job done. At high school, players need to be home for dinner and homework. Sherman vowed to never interfere with that. Now, he said, he finds himself holding some longer practices than he expected.

Sherman doesn't watch many NFL games anymore because it makes him antsy. And, to be honest, the high level of play reminds him of the things he was able to try as a coach but can't now. But that's OK, he said. He's not yearning to leave Nauset and might stay as long as he thinks he can be helpful.

"There are a lot of issues these kids have to deal with that I never had to deal with," he said. "We have to help them get through that.

"A friend of mine told me this: One time there was a [high school] coach in West Texas and someone asked him 'Coach, how's your team going to be?' He said, 'In about 15, 20 years, I'll tell you how the team was.'"

In Sherman's new world without Favre or police escorts, the goal is to help kids 20 years down the line.

A win Friday wouldn't hurt, though.

 

Greg Couch covers college football for Bleacher Report.

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College Football Picks Week 10: Odds and Spread Predictions for Top 25 Teams

Things are starting to heat up on the college football landscape, especially with the release of the first edition of the College Football Playoff rankings. 

It gives the college football world its first peek at which teams are the one's to beat in the quest for a national championship. Here are the current rankings:

Clemson gets the top spot in the first postseason poll of the season, and the Tigers have quite the test this week. Taking on No. 16 Florida State, the Seminoles appear to be the last real roadblock of Clemson's campaign, as they finish the season with three manageable games. 

A big reason why they are on the cusp of making the College Football Playoff is because of their defense, which has been unbeatable, as ESPN.com's David Hale points out:

They aren't the only team within the top four that has a tough matchup during Week 10. Below is the upcoming schedule for the Top 25 teams of the College Football Playoff rankings:

Game of the Week

No. 2 LSU at No. 4 Alabama

Sure, this could have been a stunt to get even more viewers considering there are plenty of undefeated teams that could take the No. 4 spot, but one-loss Alabama will be hosting No. 2 LSU in a game that is going to rock the CFP rankings in just the first week. 

But what a matchup this is going to be. LSU, now in the meat of their schedule, is about to take on three ranked SEC opponents in their last four games. If they somehow win out, they are a lock for the playoff, and might be considered the favorites. 

They have the right weapon in running back Leonard Fournette, who is having a historic season as SEC Network points out:

He will face his toughest test of a Heisman Trophy-worthy campaign in the Alabama defense, which is allowing just over 78 rushing yards per game this season. 

The problem is Alabama hasn't lost to LSU since 2011 and have quite a running back of their own in Derrick Henry, who Fournette has a lot of respect for, according to WAFB's Jacques Doucet:

If he is able to wear down the LSU defense and put some points on the board, the Alabama defense, which has allowed just over 16 points per game this season, could hold down the Tigers just enough. 

Granted, the pick might be different if this game was being played in Death Valley, but being the home team is sure to help out Alabama. 

Prediction: Alabama 23, LSU 17

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Bowl Predictions 2015: CFP Projections Ahead of Week 10's Biggest Clashes

This week has finally allowed us to fully embrace what makes college football so much fun: arguing in the middle of the season about an arbitrary poll.

The College Football Playoff committee unveiled its rankings Tuesday, and while the poll will ultimately determine who plays in the national semifinals, it has little impact for the time being with the playoff so far away:

For a frame of reference, Mississippi State, Florida State, Auburn and Ole Miss made up the top four of last year's first CFP poll. Only the Seminoles actually made the playoff, and Ohio State, the eventual national champion, climbed all the way up from 16th to fourth by the end of the regular season.

Suffice it to say, the top four this week will look a lot different at various points throughout the year.

The four teams listed below look to be the strongest contenders to make the playoff.

 

College Football Playoff Projections

 

Top-Four Favorites Ohio State: Survive and Advance

Ohio State can win every game between now and the end of the regular season on a last-second Hail Mary—after coming back from a 30-point deficit—and the Buckeyes will still have earned a top-four spot.

To a certain extent, a champion's advantage isn't a bad thing, especially when the reigning champion in question returned so many key players from the previous year. As middling as OSU has looked at times, the committee can't keep the Bucks out if they run the table and win the Big Ten.

And the chances Ohio State does win out the rest of the way are extremely high. The Buckeyes' toughest remaining tests are at home to Michigan State, which should've lost to Michigan and beat both Purdue and Rutgers by a combined 10 points, and Michigan, which relies on Jake Rudock and Wilton Speight at quarterback.

The reigning champs looked to have turned a corner with J.T. Barrett at QB. He may be suspended for the Minnesota game, but he'll be free to resume starting duties next week versus Illinois, thus allowing him a week to prepare for the Spartans and Wolverines.

Ohio State wouldn't automatically lay claim to the top seed with a 13-0 record, but a national semifinals berth would be the team's deserved reward.

 

Death, Taxes and Alabama in the National Championship Picture

A number of fans were up in arms about the committee's decision to include Alabama in the top four of the initial CFP rankings.

Smart Football's Chris B. Brown used the occasion to argue the current playoff format may not be as effective as first hoped at sorting out deserving candidates:

Yet the new College Football Playoff lacks the very thing that makes playoffs in other sports so palatable, namely a semblance of objective certainty. While the defective BCS formula should have been interred long ago, it has been replaced by a Council of Platonic Guardians. The College Football Playoff selection committee will meet confidentially, then announce the identities of the playoff participants by edict. That's not exactly what I'd call "settling it on the field."

TCU and Baylor both have great cases to be in the top four, but putting the Crimson Tide at No. 4 wasn't entirely without merit, either, as ESPN Stats & Info illustrated:

Plus, getting too upset about Alabama's ranking is somewhat fruitless right now anyway.

Either the Tide will beat LSU on Saturday, thus truly proving they're deserving of a playoff spot, or they'll lose to the Tigers and fall out of the top four, likely for the remainder season.

In addition, those up in arms about how "Alabama would be in the playoff ahead of the Bears or Horned Frogs if the season ended right now" are arguing a nonexistent hypothetical. They might as well rail against how Auburn was be going to the Sugar Bowl if the season ended with the unveiling of the preseason Associated Press Poll.

Aside from Clemson, no team is more complete on both sides of the ball than Alabama. If they win out, the Crimson Tide will have more than proved themselves worthy of a playoff spot.

 

TCU is the 'One True Champion'

No conference received a harsher deal than the Big 12 with the initial CFP rankings. Both Baylor and TCU could conceivably be in the top four, and instead, the Bears and Horned Frogs are both on the outside looking in.

As ESPN.com's Jake Trotter highlighted, however, everything should work out for the Big 12 by the time the regular season is over:

Plus, the conference will actually have one recognized champion, unlike last year when Baylor and TCU shared the honor. That step should ensure the Big 12 has a representative in the national semifinals.

The question is whether Baylor, TCU, Oklahoma or Oklahoma State will ultimately get the nod.

The Sooners haven't looked all that convincing, not to mention they play the Bears and Cowboys on the road later this month.

Baylor, meanwhile, is bedding in a freshman quarterback with three Top 25 opponents still on the schedule. Jarrett Stidham is a talented passer, but it's asking a lot of him to make a seamless transition into a starting role at this stage of the year.

Oklahoma State has the easiest road, with Baylor, TCU and Oklahoma all making the trip to Stillwater, Oklahoma. But the Cowboys haven't beaten any top-quality opposition, with the victories over West Virginia and Kansas State looking slightly worse in retrospect.

That leaves the Horned Frogs, who are the most complete team in the Big 12. TCU's defense has looked somewhat shaky, but the unit is stronger than that of Baylor, while Oklahoma State and Oklahoma won't keep up with a Trevone Boykin-led offense.

 

No Pressure, Clemson. Just Don't Blow It

Back in October, Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney railed against what he felt was disrespect directed toward his team:

Swinney had a point—to a certain extent. The Tigers have been one of the strongest—if not the strongest—team in college football this season, but that doesn't mean they've above criticism for the program's past record.

Clemson is 10-16 against ranked teams under Swinney and has lost five of its last eight Top 25 matchups. The Tigers are almost the anti-Alabama in that they continually miss out on the national championship, and you can count on them suffering one or two crippling defeats.

Clemson has a chance to turn that narrative around this weekend, and beating Florida State would represent a form of catharsis, especially if the Tigers go on to win a national championship.

The Seminoles are also the toughest team Clemson has left on the schedule. The Tigers finish up the regular season with Syracuse, Wake Forest and South Carolina, none of which should pose a strong test. The ACC's Atlantic Division isn't exactly a murderer's row of potential opponents in the conference title game, either.

Florida State is the biggest hurdle for Clemson en route to a playoff spot, and a win would be enormous for Swinney and his players.

Of course, a loss would mean the Tigers have to deal with even more questions about whether they'll ever get over the hump and become a true championship contender.

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Daily Fantasy College Football Week 10: Top Sleepers and DraftKings Projections

The 2015 college football season soared past the midway point, but there's no time to complain about how fast the season has progressed because Week 10 DraftKings lineups must be set.

When entering contests with guaranteed prize pools (GPPs), it's paramount to connect on a couple of sleepers who complement big-name players who highlight a roster. Projecting the surprise breakouts isn't easy, but that's why they're sleepers.

Matchups, trends and recent performances factored into the compilation of the following five-man list, which focuses on players within the lowest price point of their positions.

 

C.J. Beathard, QB, Iowa ($5,500)

C.J. Beathard is a prime candidate for this spot if he's healthy enough to challenge an Indiana pass defense that is 128th out of 128 Football Bowl Subdivision teams. The Hoosiers have surrendered 21 touchdowns—including five games of three or more—compared to just six interceptions.

Now, the junior quarterback admitted there's a chance he will pull himself out of the game if a nagging groin injury is too much, per Chad Leistikow of the Des Moines Register. But Iowa only needs him to stand in the pocket and distribute.

Beathard won't be highly owned because of his injury, yet the Hawkeyes will move the ball on Indiana through the air. If he adds a touchdown via quarterback sneak, an inexpensive Beathard could achieve a 25-point day.

Projection: 214 pass YDS, 2 TD; 13 rush YDS

 

Alvin Kamara, RB, Tennessee ($3,700)

Jalen Hurd hasn't lost his spot as the starting running back, but Alvin Kamara is making the most of his scattered yet consistent moments in the rotation.

Saturday, however, Kamara should receive more than scattered snaps when Tennessee starts to pull away from South Carolina. Odds Shark lists the Volunteers as 17-point favorites.

The explosive runner has registered double-digit points in five of the last six outings, and Kamara managed 8.8 the only time he fell short.

Kamara's floor is around 10 points, but his upside extends into the 20s.

Projection: 45 rush YDS, 1 TD; 3 REC, 52 YDS

 

Jela Duncan, RB, Duke ($3,200)

Once Duke stops complaining about a loss that absolutely will not get overturned, it might realize Jela Duncan is the best available running back.

Shaquille Powell has managed a laughable 2.5 yards per attempt during the last four contests. Conversely, Duncan picked up 51 yards on just seven carries against Miami, scoring a 24-yard touchdown.

Plus, he's set for an expanded role anyway, since head coach David Cutcliffe announced Shaun Wilson will be sidelined on Saturday.

Duncan isn't a glamorous choice, but the junior running back is a nearly minimum-priced option who has an increased role and should reach the end zone once.

Projection: 54 rush YDS, 1 TD; 2 REC, 18 YDS

 

Mack Hollins, WR, North Carolina ($3,900)

Although Mack Hollins consistently receives an unimpressive four targets, few receivers in the FBS are more explosive than him. The junior wideout's per-catch average of 24.3 yards is fourth-best in the country.

Hollins has tallied five touchdowns of 30 yards or more, while Duke surrendered three 30-plus passing gains to Miami and backup quarterback Malik Rosier last week.

The Blue Devils rank eighth nationally against the pass, but that standing is misleading. In addition to tilts against Tulane and North Carolina Central, they've faced the run-focused attacks of Northwestern, Georgia Tech, Boston College and Army.

Projection: 3 REC, 102 YDS, 1 TD

 

David Sills, WR, West Virginia ($3,100)

On the Texas Tech side of this shootout, Ian Sadler ($4,100) is an outstanding target. He'll probably be a hot commodity after a 29.2-fantasy-point performance, though, and West Virginia's David Sills will be exactly the opposite.

While the name might ring a bell, it's not because Sills was a highly rated receiver. Back in 2010, the seventh-grade quarterback prodigy committed to Lane Kiffin and USC.

Skyler Howard has locked up the starting job, but the freshman Sills has found his way onto the field as a receiver. His 16 targets over the last two games lead the team.

Odds Shark projects 80 total points—which is the highest over/under of the weekend—in this contest and 48.5 for the Mountaineers. Additionally, Texas Tech has allowed the third-most passing yards and fourth-most touchdowns in the nation.

The matchup could hardly be more favorable. Sills is set for a breakout game at receiver.

Projection: 4 REC, 102 YDS, 1 TD

Head over to DraftKings and sign up for daily fantasy college football today. Assemble your lineup to participate in contests with big cash prizes.

Follow Bleacher Report CFB and DFS writer David Kenyon on Twitter @Kenyon19_BR.

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ESPN College GameDay 2015: Week 10 Schedule, Location, Predictions and More

There is always some level of intrigue surrounding the game ESPN College GameDay chooses to highlight, but it simply doesn't get much bigger than an SEC clash between LSU and Alabama, especially considering how much success each team has enjoyed so far this season.

On the heels of the initial College Football Playoff rankings release, the Tigers are No. 2, while the Crimson Tide are No. 4. The winner of Saturday's contest figures to receive a boost in the rankings, while the loser will almost certainly drop out of the Top Four.

Saturday's game may very well be a must-win scenario for both LSU and Alabama, making it perhaps the most important tilt of the season to this point.

With that in mind, here is everything you need to know about LSU vs. Alabama, as well as the ESPN College GameDay show that will precede it.

 

Where: Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Alabama

When: Saturday, Nov. 7

 

ESPN College GameDay Week 10 Schedule

 

LSU Player to Watch: Leonard Fournette

With an average of 193 rushing yards per game and 15 total touchdowns, LSU sophomore running back Leonard Fournette is not only the front-runner for the Heisman Trophy, but also the biggest key to the Tigers' success against Alabama.

No team has proven capable of slowing down Fournette this season, although the Crimson Tide managed to hold him in check in 2014 to the tune of 21 carries for 79 yards.

The Fournette of last year and the Fournette of 2015 are like night and day, however, which means Alabama's defense will have to perform at an entirely different level.

The Tide have been up to the task against the run this season, but as pointed out by Cole Cubelic of Alabama Media Group, something has to give when they go up against Fournette:

Essentially every college football observer is well aware of what Alabama is up against, and head coach Nick Saban is no exception.

Saban and the Crimson Tide recruited Fournette heavily out of high school, so the legendary coach isn't at all surprised that he has become so good in such a short amount of time, per Jim Kleinpeter of NOLA.com:

We thought he was absolutely one of the best running backs we'd ever seen. He certainly hasn't done anything to disappoint us in terms of what he's been able to accomplish as a college player. We think he's a phenomenal player, maybe one of the most dominant guys in the country relative to what he does.

It is no secret that the Tigers lean heavily on Fournette since there are still questions about quarterback Brandon Harris, as well as a defense that has been good, but not dominant.

LSU doesn't stand much of a chance in Saturday's game on the road unless Fournette has another big night, so look for the Tigers to feed him early and often.

 

Alabama Player to Watch: Derrick Henry

It is easy for running backs to get overshadowed by Fournette due to the year he is having, but there is nothing second-rate about what Alabama running back Derrick Henry has accomplished in 2015.

His numbers aren't quite at the same level as Fournette's, but he has rushed for 1,044 yards and 14 touchdowns in just eight games and is averaging 5.8 yards per carry.

Henry is a monster physically at 6'3" and 242 pounds, and he is the safest bet in the nation to score a touchdown on a week-to-week basis, as evidenced by this note, courtesy of ESPN Stats & Info:

Like LSU, Alabama hasn't gotten consistent quarterback play out of Jacob Coker. That has forced Henry and the defense to carry the load, and with the exception of one loss to Ole Miss, they have undoubtedly held up their end of the bargain.

Henry is seemingly the personification of what Alabama football has become under Saban. He is fast, powerful, tough and gritty, which are all qualities that happen to describe Fournette as well.

Fournette may run harder than any back in the country, but even he admits that he might think twice about tackling Henry if put in such a situation, according to NCAA.com's Brett Martel.

"If I played defense, I wouldn't want to tackle him," Fournette said. "But that's your job to tackle him, so you have to make a business decision every time you go against him."

While Henry is recognized as one of the top running backs in the nation, he may very well enter Saturday night's game with a chip on his shoulder since his Heisman candidacy isn't getting talked about much due to the exploits of Fournette.

The ultimate goal for Henry and Alabama is winning the game and preserving a spot in the CFP, but if Henry can outshine Fournette in the process, then the Heisman Trophy race may take on an entirely different look.

 

Prediction

It has been four years since LSU last beat Alabama, and the Crimson Tide will be favored at home, but the Tigers have what it takes to finally end their drought against Bama.

Two of the past three meetings between the teams were decided by one score, including last year's 20-13 overtime encounter. The Tigers have been close and unable to break through, but now they have the great equalizer in the form of Fournette.

In addition to Fournette's remarkable running ability, LSU's offensive line has opened up huge holes all season long, which is something the Alabama defensive front hasn't encountered much to this point.

The quarterback battle will also play a role with Harris going up against Coker. Neither player has been asked to go out and win a game on his own, but Harris possesses a skill set that is more likely to lead to success Saturday due to his mobility.

Executing long drives and keeping the opposition's defense on the field for extended periods of time will be key. Both teams have the ability to do that, but look for Fournette and LSU to come out on top in that battle and the game as a whole with a 27-24 upset.

 

Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter.

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Miami AD Says ACC Acknowledged 'Multiple Incorrect Calls' in Win vs. Duke

College football fans will likely always remember the eight-lateral kickoff return by the Miami Hurricanes to win Saturday’s game against the Duke Blue Devils, 30-27.

While the return was incredible, even if it should not have counted, the fact that the ACC suspended the officiating crew for two games because of four errors it found during the play will also be a part of history. Miami should never have scored that touchdown, and Duke had a rightful grievance.

However, according to the Associated Press (via ESPN.com), the Blue Devils weren’t the only team that had a right to complain about the officiating.

Miami told season-ticket holders and donors Thursday in a letter from athletic director Blake James that the ACC acknowledged “multiple incorrect calls” against the Hurricanes during the back-and-forth affair. Among the mistakes was “an erroneous pass-interference call on the drive on which the Blue Devils scored a go-ahead touchdown,” per the Associated Press.

The AP noted Miami had a number of issues with the officiating, including the notion that Duke’s touchdown with six seconds remaining should have been reviewed to determine if the ball-carrier reached the end zone. What’s more, the Hurricanes were called for three pass-interference penalties on Duke's final drive, including one that wiped out an interception.

James summed up his overall mindset about the game in the letter: “The eight-lateral, touchdown play which won the game will forever be cemented in college football lore and in our storied history. The fact that the ACC publicly acknowledged officiating errors on the play does not, in any way, take away our victory or our incredible spirit.” 

He is right about one thing: The play will go down in college football lore. However, the missed calls will always be a part of what people remember about it, even if Duke benefited from other whistles earlier in the game. Here it is, one more time, per SportsCenter:

Teams regularly send plays to conference offices for review after games. However, this instance is more public because of how the contest ended and the number of mistakes the officials made throughout the game.

If nothing else, the Hurricanes can point to these apparent missed calls as a counter to those who say they should not have won because of the kick return.

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Mississippi State vs. Missouri: Game Grades, Analysis for Bulldogs and Tigers

The No. 20 Mississippi State Bulldogs (7-2, 3-2 SEC) defeated the Missouri Tigers (4-5, 1-5 SEC), 31-13, on a sloppy, rainy Thursday night in Columbia, Missouri.

MSU quarterback Dak Prescott was fantastic, completing 27 of 40 passes for 303 yards and four touchdowns. On his final touchdown pass, Prescott became the sixth player in SEC history with 100 touchdowns. 

The Bulldogs remain firmly in the race for the SEC West title. 

 

Pass Offense: Prescott was unstoppable. Even in bad conditions, he hit De'Runnya Wilson for a big touchdown. He was efficient all night, and his receivers didn't let him down. Fred Ross caught 11 balls for 115 yards and a score, while Wilson caught two touchdowns.

Run Offense: The Bulldogs had no running game to speak of. Prescott had one impressive run to get a first down, but other than that, the Bulldogs used the short passing game against a stout Missouri defense. Prescott led MSU with 47 yards on the ground. 

Pass Defense: Mississippi State put pressure on Missouri quarterback Drew Lock all night. One pressure created an interception. The Bulldogs were terrific at limiting Missouri's yards after the catch. 

Run Defense: Outside of one drive, MSU did a solid job against the run. That particular drive was the only one of note all game long for the Tigers. However, late in the fourth quarter with the game out of hand, the Bulldogs allowed a 72-yard run, missing several tackles. 

Special Teams: The Bulldogs allowed a blocked punt when the game was close. Fortunately for Mississippi State, it only resulted in three points for Missouri. Kicker Westin Graves hit a field goal into the driving rain late in the second quarter. 

Coaching: Head coach Dan Mullen did a good job of sticking with his game plan against a good defense, even when the rain was making it difficult to pass the football. Defensive coordinator Manny Diaz adjusted nicely after the Bulldogs gave up an easy touchdown drive. 

 

Pass Offense: Lock was 11-of-26 for just 107 yards and two interceptions. He was hurried all night, but when he had time to make throws, he made bad decisions. His play is a major reason for Mizzou's struggles on offense. 

Run Offense: Overall, the Tigers ran for 215 yards. However, about 80 of those yards came on the final drive when the game was decided. The Tigers ran extremely well on their lone touchdown drive. The running game, except for one run, was not consistent after that. 

Pass Defense: The Tigers got pressure on Prescott, sacking him multiple times. Unfortunately, though, Missouri's secondary wasn't up to task. Prescott had his way with Mizzou's defensive backs. 

Run Defense: The Bulldogs didn't have much of a running game. They didn't need one. However, Missouri did a good job of limiting MSU's running backs to just 80 yards on 22 carries. The Tigers are getting terrific play, as usual, from their defensive front four. 

Special Teams: The Tigers blocked a punt, which set up a score. It was Kentrell Brothers' third block of the season. Kicker Andrew Baggett hit two field goals in difficult conditions. 

Coaching: Gary Pinkel needs to do a better job of getting his running game going early in games. If Missouri had tried to run the ball more on its first two possessions, perhaps the Tigers could've come away with more points. 

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Mississippi State vs. Missouri: Score, Highlights and Twitter Reaction

The No. 20 Mississippi State Bulldogs added to the Missouri Tigers' season of misery Thursday with a 31-13 victory at Memorial Stadium in Columbia, Missouri. The win moved Mississippi State to 3-2 in the SEC and 7-2 overall.

Winning the SEC West Division is unlikely, as the LSU Tigers are sitting on top at 4-0 with a victory over the Bulldogs in their back pocket, but finishing in second place is not out of the question for Mississippi State. 

All it can do is focus on the task at hand, and for Dak Prescott, that meant dominating one of the best defenses in the conference Thursday night. The quarterback led the way for the Bulldogs, tying a career high with four passing touchdowns and reaching a milestone in the process, per ESPN College Football:

However, that was not the only milestone he surpassed on the night, according to the SEC Network's Twitter account:

Prescott's play and the final score made it look like an easy win for the Bulldogs, but that wasn't the story in the first half, when they led 14-13. Some nasty weather helped keep the game close, and the Missour fans who toughed out the downpour were treated to an entertaining first half, per ESPN College Football:

Before the weather took a turn, Prescott exposed the normally stellar Missouri defense on a play-action pass and found Fred Ross for a 36-yard score on the first drive of the game. Here's the receiver's wide-open catch, per ESPN:

Leading 7-6 in the second quarter, Prescott connected with De'Runnya Wilson for his second touchdown pass in what looked like a monsoon, and it appeared as though the rout was on. Here is the incredible catch by Wilson, per ESPN College Football:

The big story coming into the game was the fact that Missouri had not scored a touchdown since a 24-10 victory Oct. 3 against the South Carolina Gamecocks. ESPN College Football put the touchdown drought into perspective:

The silver lining for the Tigers is the fact that they did finally score a touchdown with one minute, 50 seconds left in the second quarter on a 14-yard run by Russell Hansbrough. The SEC Network captured the special moment:

Gabe DeArmond of PowerMizzou.com overlooked the ineptitude and pointed out that, at the time, Missouri had a shot at winning the game:

Then the third quarter came, and Prescott put the game out of reach. He found Wilson from five yards out at the 12:20 mark. Then he found a wide-open Fred Brown nine minutes later for the 100th touchdown of his career, helping the team take a 31-13 lead.

The lead held, and the 31 points were the most scored against the Tigers this season. It wasn't just a season high in points allowed for Missouri, either, per Brandon Kiley of KTGR's The Sports Wire:

Prescott would finished with 303 yards, but more worrisome for Missouri was the fact it was a fourth-straight loss. Despite a 3-0 start to the season, the Tigers are now 4-5 and in jeopardy of missing out on a bowl for just the second time since 2004.

Mississippi State has won four in a row and could grab a statement win next week on the road against the No. 4 Alabama Crimson Tide. It will be easier said than done, but a win against the SEC powerhouse would erase the memory of a 1-2 conference start.

Prescott has now played himself back into the Heisman Trophy race, according to ESPN analyst Jesse Palmer (via Michael Carvell of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution):

LSU running back Leonard Fournette and his 1,352 yards and 15 touchdowns may have something to say about that, but Prescott was undoubtedly the reason the Bulldogs won Thursday. He also remains the key to Mississippi State turning what once looked like a mediocre season into a memorable one.

 

Postgame Reaction

Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen didn't mince words after the game, per ESPN: "I'm juiced, man," Mullen said. "We work hard to try and get some wins and when you get them, I love it."

Mullen's counterpart at Missouri, Gary Pinkel, didn't make excuses after a fourth-straight loss, per the school's Twitter account:

For all the love Prescott received after the game, he was quick to praise his wide receiver Wilson, who finished with four receptions for 102 yards and the two touchdowns, per ESPN: "I've said it year-round. "I'll take him vs. any cornerback one-on-one, at any time."

 

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Baylor vs. Kansas State: Game Grades, Analysis for Bears and Wildcats

The Baylor Bears survived a scarier trip to Manhattan, Kansas, than they imagined, surviving a late rally by the Kansas State Wildcats by a score of 31-24. 

The Bears, who are among the first two teams out of the College Football Playoff in the season's first poll, were led by receiver Corey Coleman, who helped ease the transition for new starter Jarrett Stidham. 

With that, let's check out the game grades for both teams' positional units. 

 

Kansas State Wildcats

Rush Offense: A-

Joe Hubener set a career high with 153 yards on 29 carries, while the Wildcats as a whole racked up 258 yards on 48 touches. The Wildcats front line got great push against a highly touted Baylor defensive line, all but solidifying K-State fans' belief that the Wildcats should have relied on the run game more often earlier this season. 

 

Pass Offense: C

The Wildcats didn't go to the air often, with Hubener finishing 12-of-21 for 151 yards with one touchdown and one pick. Kody Cook added the game-sealing interception on one of his two pass attempts. The Wildcats simply don't have the quality downfield threat they had last year with Tyler Lockett nor the quality arm like they did in both Collin Klein and Jake Waters. 

 

Rush Defense: B

The Bears had 103 yards total on the ground, with Shock Linwood racking up 72 on 13 carries. K-State's defensive front bent but didn't break throughout the game, at least forcing a freshman starter to have a stellar night. 

 

Pass Defense: F

The K-State secondary was toasted for 419 yards on the night, as the soft coverage the Wildcats played with a depleted secondary proved too vulnerable. The Wildcats' ability to defend the pass has been a liability all season, and it showed against America's most prolific offense on Thursday night. 

 

Special Teams: A

No mistakes here. The Wildcats converted all their kicks and didn't allow any big returns. 

 

Coaching: B

Beating Baylor is a tough task, but Bill Snyder showed on Thursday night why he's still got the capability to be one of the best head coaches in the country. He utilized time of possession and good old-fashioned hardball to grind away at Baylor, nearly doing so enough to tie the game late. Snyder has been highly maligned this season for his team's play-calling, although that issue appeared to be solved. 

 

Baylor Bears

Rush Offense: C-

Shock Linwood was limited to 72 yards, while the Bears as a whole gained just 103 yards on the ground. Baylor isn't known as a stellar running team—it loves to air it out—but K-State's front line still required that a freshman signal-caller rise to the occasion.

 

Pass Offense: A+

It was the coming-out party for freshman starter Jarrett Stidham, filling in for the injured Seth Russell. The gunslinger finished 23-of-33 passing for 419 yards and three scores with no interceptions. His favorite target—and everybody else's, essentially—was Corey Coleman, who hauled in 11 balls for 216 yards and two touchdowns. 

 

Rush Defense: D-

There wasn't anything gimmicky about K-State's rushing attack—it was mostly just quarterback runs with Hubener. Regardless, the Baylor defensive front gave up 258 yards on the ground to the Wildcats, who constantly wore down the likes of Shawn Oakman and Co. 

 

Pass Defense: B

The Bears faltered at times in their secondary but ultimately weren't tested much. Hubener dropped back to pass just 21 times and completed 12 attempts. Meanwhile, Baylor had two crucial interceptions, including the game-clincher in the final minute to squash K-State's rebellion in the fourth quarter. 

 

Special Teams: B-

A missed field goal by Chris Callahan in the game's waning moments nearly allowed K-State a chance to tie the game. He was bailed out by his defense, but that special teams blunder was nearly catastrophic. Other than that missed kick, however, the Bears had no cracks. 

 

Coaching: B

Beating Bill Snyder on the road isn't easy. But head coach Art Briles, who had a chip on his shoulder with the Bears currently out of the playoff picture, did just that despite K-State playing its best game since the TCU outing. 

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Baylor vs. Kansas State: Score, Highlights and Twitter Reaction

In his first collegiate start, Jarrett Stidham didn't need to do too much.

He did more than enough and then some. 

The true freshman quarterback threw for 419 yards and three touchdowns as the No. 6-ranked Baylor Bears (8-0, 5-0 Big 12) narrowly edged the Kansas State Wildcats (3-5, 0-5), 31-24, on Thursday in Manhattan, Kansas, to keep their College Football Playoff hopes alive.

Although Kansas State came into Thursday night losers of four in a row, head coach Bill Snyder's group clawed back from an 18-point third-quarter deficit to make it a seven-point game with four minutes to go. Wildcats quarterback Joe Hubener found Deante Burton for a 10-yard touchdown to make it 31-24.

Baylor drove down the field on the ensuing possession and got inside the 10-yard line. After a holding call and a sack on Stidham, Bears kicker Chris Callahan missed a 41-yard field goal that would have iced the game.   

Kansas State, with no timeouts and starting on its own 36, called a double-pass play on the first play of the drive. Wide receiver Kody Cook threw a deep ball with pressure coming toward him, but Terrell Burt picked off the pass to end the game.

Hubener single-handedly kept Kansas State in the game, amassing 304 total yards and totaling all three of the Wildcats' touchdowns, with two coming on the ground.

But it was the true freshman Stidham who put on a show in relief of Seth Russell, whose season ended on Oct. 26 because of a neck injury that required surgery. Stidham got a huge boost from receiver Corey Coleman, who had 11 catches for 216 yards and two touchdowns, including an 81-yard touchdown grab with 7:06 left in the second quarter. ESPN CollegeFootball provided a clip of the game-changing play:

KD Cannon also had 108 receiving yards and a touchdown for Baylor, who now improve to 37-8 under head coach Art Briles when ranked. The Baylor Football account also had video of Cannon's 55-yard touchdown. The receiver went on a post route over the middle and used his speed to get to the end zone:

The first step in life after Russell couldn't have gone any better for Baylor. Although Kansas State has seen its share of struggles, Stidham looked anything but a freshman quarterback against the Wildcats.

Tougher tests lie ahead for Baylor, but the Bears have to feel comfortable knowing Stidham not only played well on the road in a usually raucous environment, but he didn't turn the ball over. Baylor still has some work to do in order to jump the other unbeaten teams in the polls, but this was a good start against a game Kansas State team that almost pulled off the upset.

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Jarrett Stidham Ready to Lead Baylor's Playoff March as He Shines vs. K-State

All eyes were going to be on Baylor's true freshman quarterback, Jarrett Stidham, as he made his first collegiate start Thursday night on the road against Kansas State. 

And did Stidham ever open those eyes.

By going 23-of-33 for 419 yards and three touchdowns in a 31-24 win over the Wildcats, Stidham proved he's more than capable of leading the No. 6 Bears in a playoff run.

It was the Bears defense—not the freshman quarterback—that was the liability. Baylor had what appeared to be a comfortable 31-10 cushion in the fourth quarter but gave up two quick touchdowns and nearly coughed up the lead. Style points can be hard to come by in Manhattan, Kansas, and that held true once again.

As for Stidham, he wasn't perfect by any stretch. There were some misreads and forced throws. But this was as solid a starting debut as head coach Art Briles could have asked for.

Stidham got the ball to his playmakers, but he didn't simply "do enough" to win, either. His 40-yard completion to receiver KD Cannon late in the fourth quarter was bigger than any other play in the game. It showed how much confidence Baylor has in its young quarterback, who was replacing the injured Seth Russell, who's out for the year with a neck injury.

The win gives Stidham a good starting point and room to grow. A bad performance would have sounded much louder, scarier-sounding alarms.

Baylor didn't hurt its reputation as a plug-and-play offense, either. That's not a bad thing. Stidham's 19 years old, has been in the program for less than a year and just played his first meaningful game from start to finish two-thirds of the way through the season.

Of course Baylor wants to plug-and-play with success. If it can maintain a base offense that breeds big numbers regardless of the quarterback, it becomes a much smaller rebuilding project for the coaching staff.

And Baylor's staff did an excellent job building Stidham's confidence early with short throws on the opening drive. Almost everything right away was horizontal, including Stidham's first pass to Corey Coleman for 36 yards. In fact, the only pass downfield Stidham attempted on his first drive was an incompletion intended for Jay Lee.

The opening drive, which resulted in a one-yard touchdown run by Stidham, went seven plays for 81 yards and took less than two minutes to complete.

That's how you get a quarterback into rhythm.

Briles wasn't surprised by Stidham's performance, per Craig Smoak of 1660 ESPN:

Every new signal-caller's best friend is a solid running game. The difference in Baylor's offense from a traditional power unit is that short throws behind, at or near the line of scrimmage are essentially running plays.

Guys like Coleman are out there doing the work, but Stidham just happens to get—or share in—the stats.

Once it was clear Stidham was comfortable with the short throws, Baylor was more willing to let him push the ball downfield. If the pass wasn't there, Stidham would often run and pick up what he could.

Understandably, he was more successful with the intermediate passes than he was with the deep ball. However, this 55-yard touchdown strike to Cannon was as accurate as anything he threw all night:

USA Today's George Schroeder liked what he saw from Stidham: 

Things were simple, though. Stidham was hitting his first reads on practically every play. That was due to a combination of Baylor's wide receivers getting open and K-State's poor pass defense. The Wildcats already had the 82nd-rated pass defense in yards per attempt allowed (7.5) entering Thursday.

As freelance journalist David Ubben tweeted before the game, though, injuries in the secondary have been an issue for the Wildcats as well:

In that sense, K-State was the right opponent for Stidham to face first. Baylor's schedule goes from one of the easiest in the Football Bowl Subdivision to one of the hardest, and quickly. But Stidham has been brought along as well as possible, given the circumstances. He's gained experience in mop-up duty, had a bye week to prepare for his first start and didn't face his toughest opponent right away.

Coming off the bench cold against a top-tier Big 12 opponent would have been the worst thing for Stidham's development.

How Stidham plays going forward will be one of college football's most compelling storylines. Oklahoma and Oklahoma State allow fewer than five yards per play, and TCU isn't that far behind at 5.13. Those teams are Baylor's next three opponents.

For the second straight game, too, Baylor got sleepy in the second half. The Bears have been able to get away with moments of complacency so far, but that won't be the case against teams that are a combined 14-1.

How will Stidham respond during tough moments?

There weren't many against Kansas State, but he showed great poise and maturity when things were tight. Clearly, Baylor trusts Stidham to make big throws down the field. Here's guessing Thursday won't be the last time he's asked to do that.

Stidham grew up a lot, and quickly, against the Wildcats. If Baylor's defense is going to struggle like it did Thursday, this team will need more of that from one of its youngest players.

  

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

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Notre Dame Football: Game-by-Game Predictions for the Month of November

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — A somewhat surprising No. 5 ranking in Tuesday’s initial College Football Playoff poll elicited similar responses from the Notre Dame football team this week.

“We could be ranked five or 55,” Irish middle linebacker Joe Schmidt said. “It doesn’t really matter until the last week of the year. We have a game this week.”

“The rankings can do whatever they want,” Irish defensive tackle Sheldon Day said. “It’s all about what happens in this building. We have to focus on each and every day here.”

“As long as we go 1-0 each week, we’ll see where we end up at the end,” Irish quarterback DeShone Kizer said.

So let’s do just that: go week by week and evaluate Notre Dame’s chances in each of the four remaining regular-season games.

Begin Slideshow

Ohio State Football: Game-by-Game Predictions for the Month of November

The Ohio State Buckeyes debuted at No. 3 in the initial College Football Playoff rankings that were released on Tuesday, but if Urban Meyer's squad takes care of business in November, it'll have a great shot at landing the No. 1 overall seed in this year's playoff.

The schedule is absolutely back-loaded this season as the Buckeyes have their two toughest games—home against No. 7 Michigan State and on the road versus No. 17 Michigan—to close out the regular season. When games against a feisty Minnesota team and the improved Illinois Fighting Illini are thrown in, Ohio State's path to the Big Ten title game and a potential berth in the playoff looks daunting.

Can the Buckeyes keep the nation's longest winning streak alive long enough to make it through the regular season? 

Begin Slideshow

Pac-12 Releases Statement Regarding ASU Sign-Stealing Allegations

The Arizona State Sun Devils football team has agitated its opponents over the past couple of weeks by allegedly stealing play-calling signals, but the Pac-12 does not seem to be particularly concerned about any illegal actions.

Doug Haller of AZCentral Sports passed along the conference’s comments regarding the Arizona State controversy:

While many frown upon stealing signals and consider it to be cheating, the statement highlights the fact that it is not technically against any NCAA rules. That is the most important thing, although it is fair to question the sportsmanship involved.

Arizona State head coach Todd Graham pointed to the legality of it in recent comments, per Haller: "Do we steal signals? Yeah, we do. Do people steal our signals? Yeah, (they) do. ... We are definitely going by the rules. There’s not anything illegal about looking at somebody’s signals or...somebody’s groupings."

According to Graham Watson of Yahoo Sports, Utah was concerned that Arizona State stole its signals when a Sun Devils coach made a passing motion right before the Utes attempted a pass. Oregon used sheets to cover its assistant coaches who were sending in signals out of fear that the Arizona State sideline would attempt to steal their signals.

Next up for the Sun Devils is a game against Washington State, and Cougars head coach Mike Leach thinks the league should investigate his next opponent, per Watson. “I mean, you've got two straight schools with concerns over it, back to back, and they have a reputation for it that extends beyond that," Leach said. "The conference probably ought to investigate them and see what they’re doing, make sure nothing is illegal.”

Arizona State may be stealing signals, but it’s not doing a good job of converting that to effective play on the field. It gave up 61 points to Oregon in a triple-overtime loss and dropped the Utah game, 34-18.

The Sun Devils had conference title aspirations heading into the season, and some even saw them as darkhorse contenders for the College Football Playoff. They now sit at 4-4 with work to do just to be bowl-eligible, and this serves as something of a distraction in a disappointing season.

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Leonard Fournette's Family Reportedly May Have Violated NCAA Rules

LSU Tigers running back Leonard Fournette is the front-runner for the Heisman Trophy, and frankly, bigger and better things are on the horizon for the transcendent future NFL prospect. Unfortunately, potential NCAA violations may mar Fournette's tremendous sophomore season.

Josh Peter of USA Today reported Thursday that a family associate named Paul Price and Fournette's parents had set up a website to sell merchandise and build the prodigy's brand before he even set foot on the college gridiron.

The website shut down approximately 24 hours after it launched ahead of LSU's 2014 season opener once the NCAA learned of its existence. As Fournette's mother, Lory, explained, "There's certain rules that just can't be broken."

But the damage may have already been done, since the website was selling T-shirts and hats that stood to capitalize on Fournette's name, image or likeness—which is a direct NCAA violation.

Lory Fournette described Price as a family manager who reportedly paid $10,000 for the website to be built. Three companies that were supplying the Fournette team with merchandise offered a total discount of $20,000 in anticipation of a huge profit that never materialized.

Furthermore, IWD Agency owner Joe McFerrin indicated Price never paid back an owed amount of $14,682. McFerrin developed the website, and both he and merchandise creator Chris Hanley stated Price had cleared the project with the NCAA.

The merchandise featured the text "BUGA Nation," with the acronym standing for "Being United Generates Attitude."

Unfortunately, the actions of those close to Fournette may have him in hot water with the NCAA.

Whether LSU faces sanctions from major college sports' governing body or only Fournette does as an individual, it is a scary situation for the Tigers. They are currently 7-0 and have ridden Fournette to immense success, as the 20-year-old wunderkind has amassed 1,352 yards rushing and 15 touchdowns.

The timing of Thursday's report is especially difficult, with LSU traveling to Tuscaloosa to take on Alabama on Saturday in its biggest challenge of the season to date.

To have any hope of preserving their undefeated record, the Tigers must have Fournette fully focused on the task at hand. The reported website incident threatens to loom as a distraction as Fournette prepares to face a Crimson Tide defense that is yielding only 2.6 yards per carry this year.

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Mississippi State vs. Missouri: Live Score and Highlights

The No. 20 Mississippi State Bulldogs travel to Columbia, Missouri, Thursday night to play the struggling Missouri Tigers.

The Bulldogs (6-2, 2-2) enter Thursday right in the thick of things in the competitive SEC West. The Tigers (4-4, 1-4), meanwhile, are on a three-game losing streak and have scored just 12 points total in their last three games. 

Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott is enjoying another successful season. He is completing 67 percent of his passes with 14 touchdowns and only one interception. He's also run for 371 yards and seven more scores. 

Both teams play terrific defense, specifically the Tigers. MSU ranks No. 18 in scoring defense, while Missouri is No. 6 in total defense. 

This is only the third meeting between the two schools, with the last meeting coming in 1984. The Tigers won both previous meetings. Obviously, this is the first meeting since Missouri entered the SEC in 2012. 

You can watch live on ESPN at 9 p.m. ET, but make sure to stay right here for the latest news, notes, analysis and the best postgame coverage around.

The official box score is available at NCAA.com

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Matthew Dayes Injury: Updates on NC State Star's Recovery from Foot Surgery

North Carolina State Wolfpack running back Matthew Dayes suffered a foot injury during Week 9 against Clemson.

Continue for updates.

Dayes Out for Season Thursday, Nov. 5

Wolfpack head coach Dave Doeren announced Dayes will undergo surgery Friday and miss the final four games of the season.

"I'm disappointed for Matt because he was having a really good year," Doeren said. "But in football you've got to have a 'next man up' mentality, and I'm confident that his teammates will be ready to take on bigger roles and be successful."

Dayes trails only FSU’s Dalvin Cook and Clemson’s Wayne Gallman among ACC running backs with 865 yards, and leads the conference with 12 rushing scores. The junior’s 108.1 rush yards per game this year are the most in school history since Joe McIntosh's 119 average in 1981, according to NC State.

The Wolfpack will lean on sophomore Dakwa Nichols and freshman Reggie Gallaspy, who’ve combined for a respectable 411 yards and nine touchdowns on 59 carries. But Dayes’ absence will assuredly handcuff a team already low in the ACC Atlantic totem pole.    

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Baylor vs. Kansas State: Live Score and Highlights

Baylor - 7

K-State - 0 

TV: FS1

12:00 1st Quarter

The Baylor Bears, who recently were pegged as one of the first two teams out of the playoffs in the inaugural 2015 College Football Playoff poll, look to continue their undefeated season on the road against Bill Snyder and the Kansas State Wildcats, a team they secured a share of the Big 12 title against last season. 

The Bears will be led by new starter Jarrett Stidham, who is replacing Seth Russell after Russell was lost for the year with a neck injury. He'll look to keep the momentum going in The Little Apple, a place notorious for giving visitors a tour of Hell. 

Stay plugged in below for continued updates of this Thursday night Big 12 showdown. 

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