NCAA Football News

Shawn Oakman Has Potential to Be 'One of the Most Dominant' Defensive Linemen

Baylor defensive end Shawn Oakman may be the most impressive specimen to stand on a football field.

At 6'9" and 280 pounds, Oakman is a major presence out on the field. He has shown flashes of greatness, but critics point to his inconsistencies in effort.

Bleacher Report Lead NFL Draft Writer Matt Miller and College Football Analyst Michael Felder discuss the potential of the brusing defensive lineman.

What is Oakman's ceiling?

Watch the video and let us know! 

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Michigan vs. Michigan State: TV Info, Spread, Injury Updates, Game Time and More

This in-state rivalry between the No. 8 Michigan State Spartans and the Michigan Wolverines has taken a dramatic turn over the past several seasons. No longer are the Wolverines the dominant team in this matchup, as Mark Dantonio's squad has emerged as one of the nation's elite.

Regardless of where these teams currently rank or how they've fared so far this season, this contest is a gritty dogfight each and every year.

The Spartans are riding a five-game winning streak since losing in Week 2 to Oregon and have regained the potential to earn a berth in this year's College Football Playoff. The Wolverines snapped a three-game losing skid in Week 7 against Penn State and come into this game refreshed after a bye week. Michigan must win three of its last five to gain bowl eligibility.

Will a well-balanced Spartans team dominate its rival and continue its hopes of earning a spot in the Top Four, or will the Wolverines play spoiler? There's certainly plenty at stake for both teams on Saturday.


Offensive Questions

Both of these teams have been relatively good on the defensive side of the ball throughout the season. Michigan State is allowing an average of 21.6 points per game while Michigan is giving up just 21.4. It will take a productive offense to break through these sound defensive units.

The Wolverines have been wildly inconsistent on the offensive side of the ball this season. The team started with a promising performance against Appalachian State in Week 1, putting up 52 points and 560 yards en route to a blowout win. Unfortunately, that performance hasn't repeated itself.

Since then, Michigan has scored more than 18 points just twice. Quarterback Devin Gardner has been inconsistent, and the team's running game struggled against Penn State in Week 7 without Derrick Green in the fold.

Without a rushing attack to complement the passing game, this Michigan offense could continue to struggle against better defenses—like Michigan State's.

On the flip side, the Spartans offense has taken flight thanks to the efforts of quarterback Connor Cook. This team has been known for its defense, but Cook and Co. have gained nationwide notoriety as the third-ranked offense, averaging 47.0 points per game.

Cook torched Indiana in Week 8, throwing for 332 yards and three scores. He's been able to put up gaudy numbers due to defenses attempting to stack the box to stop the Spartans' vaunted rushing attack. Take a look at what Michigan State's two-headed rushing attack did to Indiana:

Delton Williams added another five carries for 55 yards and a score to those numbers. This will be a very intriguing matchup against a Michigan run defense that has been very good this season, ranking fourth in the nation by allowing just 93.6 yards per game.


Battle in the Trenches

Michigan State's rushing attack will be a great test for Michigan's stout run defense; however, the Wolverines must figure something out to get past the Spartans' eighth-ranked run defense.

We already touched on the fact that Gardner has been inconsistent this season, and if he doesn't have a complementary ground game, his passing woes could be extremely apparent on Saturday. The Wolverines need a far better performance from De'Veon Smith, who carried 12 times for just 24 yards against Penn State.

Michigan's rushing totals against the Nittany Lions were not impressive at all:

Here's why the Wolverines desperately need a balanced attack: They must keep the Spartans pass rush off balance. Michigan State is ranked fourth in the nation in sacks, accumulating an impressive 26 on the season. If the ground game isn't working for the Wolverines, this pass rush will be all over Gardner for the duration of the game.

Meanwhile, Michigan State's offensive line has been absolutely stellar this season. The team boasts the nation's top-ranked unit, allowing just four sacks so far this season. While Michigan's 18 sacks this season are nothing to sneeze at, the team's pass rush will have difficulty getting into the backfield.

Michigan State has a big advantage in the trenches and will benefit from playing in front of its home crowd. Michigan will be attempting to keep up while dealing with excessive crowd noise at the same time. That's not a recipe for success.

If the Wolverines can't figure out how to deal with Michigan State's big men, this one could get out of hand quickly on Saturday.


When: Saturday, October 25

Time: 3:30 p.m. ET

Where: Spartan Stadium in East Lansing, Michigan

Channel: ABC

Live Stream: WatchESPN

Betting Lines (via Odds Shark):

  • Over/Under: 49.5
  • Spread: Michigan State -17


Team Injury Reports

Injury reports per The Sports Network, via USA Today.



It sure does look as though Michigan State has practically all of the advantages heading into this one. The Spartans play at home, are more physical in the trenches and have a better running game, a more efficient passing game and a formidable defense.

As for the Wolverines, they must figure out how to get a ground game established without Green in the fold. We also have to keep our eyes on the availability of wide receiver Devin Funchess, who is questionable for the game.

Michigan's injury report is lengthy, and without several key players in the fold, the Wolverines just won't be able to hang with a very well-rounded Spartans team. This one ends with Sparty on top by a decent margin.

Prediction: Michigan State 38, Michigan 18

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Alabama vs. Tennessee: TV Info, Spread, Injury Updates, Game Time and More

Plenty of postseason implications will be on the line when the No. 4 Alabama Crimson Tide meet the Tennessee Volunteers on Saturday. Both teams have undergone roller-coaster seasons to this point, and each is searching for a late push in an effort to strengthen its position for a potential bowl game.

Although Alabama began the season slowly, a fantastic effort in Week 8 resulted in a 59-0 drubbing of Texas A&M and vaulted the Crimson Tide up the AP Poll to No. 4 and in the mix for the College Football Playoff. While Tennessee doesn't have a shot at the CFP, it can still become bowl eligible with three more victories.

Will Blake Sims continue to make the Crimson Tide look like an SEC powerhouse, or will Tennessee's defense be problematic for the red-hot quarterback? We'll have a much better idea of where these two teams stand in the wake of this impending contest.


Searching for Offensive Balance

Both the Crimson Tide and Volunteers must establish balanced offenses if they are to notch wins later in the year in colder weather. Alabama began to show its capability of doing just that in its huge victory over Texas A&M in Week 8.

Sims was astounding throughout the contest. He was pulled after the third quarter because the game was already well out of hand, but he managed to do plenty of damage to that point. He finished completing 16 of his 27 passing attempts for 268 yards and three touchdowns while adding four carries for 54 yards and another score.

His dual-threat ability created all sorts of problems for the Aggie defense, and we should expect to see more of the same from this versatile playmaker going forward.

One big reason why Sims was so efficient was the effort from running back T.J. Yeldon. He looked better than he had all season against Texas A&M, showing good burst and the ability to gain yards after contact. Yeldon finished the game rushing for 114 yards and two scores on 13 carries.

The Crimson Tide found offensive balance against Texas A&M, throwing 35 times and rushing 45 times for 602 yards of offense. Keeping that trend alive will not only get this team past the Volunteers in Week 9, but will also keep it well in the mix for a CFP berth.

Tennessee didn't exactly find that same kind of balance in Week 8 against the Ole Miss Rebels. The team's offensive line imploded, and quarterback Justin Worley suffered as a direct result. The signal-caller only mustered 191 passing yards and three interceptions on the day.

Making things worse for this offense was the line's inability to block for the run. The Volunteers never gave up on their ground game, but it was not effective whatsoever, accumulating exactly zero yards on 28 carries. This team runs a balanced offense, but it needs to see far more efficiency across the board to create success.


Defensive Prowess

Alabama is known for a stout defense. It has uncharacteristically given up more than 20 points in three of its contests this season, but it still ranks third in the nation, allowing an average of just 13.1 points per game.

Week 8 against Texas A&M may have been the best possible example of how dominant the Crimson Tide defense can be. Aggies' enigmatic quarterback Kenny Hill threw for just 136 yards and tossed one interception, while Texas A&M's ground game could only muster an average of 1.5 yards per carry—and that performance was from the nation's 21st-ranked team.

A look at the Aggies' running game in Week 8 really sums it up:

Considering Tennessee's recent offensive struggles, the Crimson Tide defense should be chomping at the bit to get its hands on the Volunteers offensive line.

Tennessee really isn't much of a slouch on the defensive side of the ball, either. The Volunteers defense is only allowing an average of 21.3 points per game, and despite giving up 34 to Ole Miss in Week 8, there were plenty of positive takeaways.

The Volunteers' pass rush proved to be a nightmare for quarterback Bo Wallace. He was sacked several times and pressured on a consistent basis. That shows in his final stat line, as he was only able to complete 13 of his 28 passing attempts.

Tennessee's run defense should be commended as well. Ole Miss attempted to pound the ball for the duration of the game, totaling 47 carries; however, the Volunteers held strong, allowing 3.8 yards per carry to a talented backfield.


When: Saturday, October 25

Time: 7:30 p.m. ET

Where: Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tennessee

Channel: ESPN2

Live Stream: WatchESPN

Betting Lines (via Odds Shark):

  • Over/Under: 46.5
  • Spread: Alabama -17.5


Team Injury Reports

Injury reports per Sports Network, via USA Today.



The Volunteers are catching the Crimson Tide at the wrong time. Alabama is red-hot after shutting down Texas A&M in Week 8, and we should expect that momentum to carry over into Saturday's contest.

Sims and Yeldon will continue to provide a balanced attack, while wide receiver Amari Cooper could prove too difficult to contain for Tennessee's secondary. The Volunteers defense won't allow the Crimson Tide to put up another 50-plus number on the scoreboard, but Worley and Co. just don't have the firepower to keep up—especially against one of the better defenses in the nation.

Another big win for Alabama is on the horizon, and Tennessee will continue searching for those elusive three wins to find itself in a bowl game.

Prediction: Alabama 38, Tennessee 16

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Ole Miss vs. LSU: TV Info, Spread, Injury Updates, Game Time and More

This SEC showdown featuring No. 3 Ole Miss and No. 24 LSU has plenty of postseason implications. The Rebels are one of the last remaining undefeated teams and are deeply entrenched in a battle for a berth in the College Football Playoff. The Tigers may be out of the playoff picture, but winning out could produce a spot in a prestigious bowl game.

Week 9 will certainly be a tough win for LSU, but the Tigers are getting Ole Miss at the right time. After all, confidence is high after an impressive 41-3 drubbing of Kentucky in Week 8. Although, the Rebels are coming off a nice win of their own, defeating Tennessee 34-3 after a stellar defensive showing.

Neither of these teams is accustomed to giving up many points, so we should expect an all-out battle in the trenches as the Tigers and Rebels fight for field position. We'll soon find out if Ole Miss can remain among the nation's elite or if LSU can ride home-field advantage all the way to an enormous upset.


Defense Wins Championships

This may not be a championship game, but with so much on the line for each team, it may be played like one. Both of these teams feature some of the best defenses in the nation, and we should be expecting to see some aggressive play from each unit.

LSU enters the game ranked eighth in the nation, allowing 17.0 points per game. That number is impressive; however, it's been a roller-coaster ride to get there, as the Tigers defense has been a little inconsistent. Here's a look at points allowed per game this season:

The Tigers have allowed 136 total points this season. Only 10 of those points were allowed in four games; however, the other 126 were allowed in the other four.

LSU hasn't been a sack machine this season, totaling 13 through eight games, but it has been phenomenal against the pass anyway, allowing an average of just 156.3 yards per game, ranking fourth in the nation. That could be a huge benefit against the inconsistent Bo Wallace.

Ole Miss has been great on the defensive side of the ball this season. The team is ranked first in the nation, allowing an average of just 10.6 points per game. In fact, the Rebels didn't allow more than 20 points in any of their previous seven contests.

This is a very balanced defense, ranking 20th against the pass and sixth against the run while accumulating 18 sacks on the year. LSU has displayed its ability to get points on the scoreboard this season, but it hasn't faced a defense quite like this just yet.


Offensive Strengths

LSU doesn't have much of a passing game to speak of. After struggling in that department earlier in the season, this team has created a very run-oriented scheme. Quarterback Anthony Jennings only attempted 14 passes—completing seven of them for 120 yards and a score—against Kentucky. Meanwhile, the team ran the ball a total of 51 times.

While the Tigers' rushing attack was very efficient, racking up 303 yards and three touchdowns, the team simply can't expect that same result against the Ole Miss defense. Yes, LSU should continue to stick with what works, but the team will need some more balance to compete with the Rebels.

We'll see what Jennings, the sophomore signal-caller, is truly made of against Ole Miss, as the offense won't have the privilege of running 51 times.

Wallace continues to be the focal point of the Ole Miss offense, but if this team is truly ready to take down its remaining SEC opponents, the quarterback will need more consistent performances. Here's a look at his 2014 game log:

That's quite a variation in efficiency from week to week.

Ole Miss' running game only averaged 3.8 yards per carry against Tennessee in Week 8. In an effort to see more consistent play from Wallace, this offense must get Jaylen Walton going on the ground. A balanced offensive attack will be the way to get past a stingy LSU pass defense.


When: Saturday, October 25

Time: 7:15 p.m. ET

Where: Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Channel: ESPN

Live Stream: WatchESPN

Betting Lines (Odds Shark):

  • Over/Under: 44.5
  • Spread: Ole Miss -4


Team Injury Reports

Injury reports per Sports Network, via USA Today.



We should be expecting a highly competitive defensive struggle in this one. The offense that can create a balanced attack to keep the opposing defense on its heels will have a huge advantage in the battle for field position and, ultimately, the game's outcome.

Due to an LSU passing game that hasn't been effective this season, the Tigers may have some difficulty establishing that balance against one of the nation's most talented defenses. Although, if Wallace can't get into a groove, the Rebels may not be able to take full advantage and pull away.

This one will remain close for the bulk of the game, but the Rebels are the more well rounded of these two teams, and that will be good enough to squeeze out a close win.

Prediction: Ole Miss 23, LSU 17

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South Carolina vs. Auburn: TV Info, Spread, Injury Updates, Game Time and More

Before the season began, this Week 9 showdown appeared likely to be a clash of SEC heavyweights. As it turns out, that won't exactly be the case when No. 5 Auburn takes on South Carolina.

The Tigers continue their roller-coaster season with an outside chance of earning a berth in the College Football Playoff despite suffering a loss to Mississippi State in Week 8. The Gamecocks quickly fell down the ranks after a Week 1 loss to Texas A&M, and two more losses to Missouri and Kentucky saw the team fall out of the Top 25 altogether.

South Carolina is still searching for wins to become bowl eligible, and Auburn can't be caught looking ahead at a brutal remaining schedule that includes games at Ole Miss, Georgia and Alabama. Will the Tigers roll, or will they be caught in a trap game?

SEC contests can be overwhelmingly unpredictable, and these teams' seasons hang in the balance.


Limiting Turnovers

Turnovers always play a crucial part in the success or failure of any team in any given week. Expect that statement to ring true on Saturday, as both of these teams were handed recent losses due to a lack of ball security.

South Carolina was upset by Kentucky in Week 6 due in part to quarterback Dylan Thompson's three interceptions. His third pick of the day was nabbed by Alvin Dupree deep in Gamecocks territory and returned for an easy touchdown. That score wound up being the difference-maker in a seven-point loss.

While the Gamecocks bounced back in Week 8 against Furman, losing two fumbles in that contest doesn't exactly provide plenty of confidence moving forward.

Auburn suffered its first loss to Mississippi State in Week 8 during a sloppy game in Starkville. The Tigers turned the ball over a total of four times, as quarterback Nick Marshall threw two interceptions and fumbles were lost by D'haquille Wilson and Jamoral Graham.

The Tigers lost by 15 points; however, that margin could have been significantly worse had the Bulldogs not accumulated four turnovers of their own.

Here's a look at turnovers by game for both teams:

The key to avoiding turnovers for both of these teams is to establish the running game early. South Carolina has a great two-headed attack with Mike Davis and David Williams, while Auburn has a mix of the versatile Marshall and Cameron Artis-Payne.


Stopping the Run

While both teams will look to establish the run in an effort to limit turnovers, they will also be attempting to stifle their opponent's ground game. However, that may be easier in theory for these defenses.

Take a glance at a side-by-side comparison of both teams' rushing offenses:

Auburn continues to be a run-first team. Marshall isn't the most developed passer, and he's of better use as a complement to the running game than the other way around. The Tigers have a handful of viable ball-carriers, and they could have a field day against the South Carolina run defense.

South Carolina is ranked 89th in the nation against the run, allowing an average of 181.7 yards per game. The team's struggles in that department were wildly apparent against Furman. Despite the lack of a passing game altogether, Furman was still able to generate 211 yards and a score on 39 carries—an average of 5.4 yards per rush—against the Gamecocks.

Furman's Hank McCloud is a good ball-carrier; however, the team isn't near as explosive or versatile as Auburn.

The Tigers have fared nicely against the run this season, ranking 25th in the nation, allowing an average of 120.7 yards per game. The team is coming off an uncharacteristic performance after giving up 223 yards on the ground to Mississippi State; however, 121 of those yards were racked up by quarterback Dak Prescott.

Without a running threat at the quarterback position, the Gamecocks may find it a little more difficult to get their ground game going against the Auburn run defense.


When: Saturday, October 25

Time: 7:30 p.m. ET

Where: Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Alabama

Channel: SEC Network

Live Stream: WatchESPN

Betting Lines (via Odds Shark):

  • Over/Under: 65
  • Point Spread: Auburn -17.5


Team Injury Reports

Injury reports per Sports Network, via USA Today.



If establishing the run leads to eliminating turnovers and a victory in this SEC clash, the advantage most certainly goes to Auburn. The team's ability to use the option and get around a porous South Carolina run defense will allow the Tigers to control the ball and the clock for a vast majority of the game.

Meanwhile, South Carolina could be forced into throwing situations more often than it would like, and that could lead to some issues for Thompson against a solid defense.

Expect Auburn to get out to an early lead, forcing turnovers and defeating the Gamecocks by a substantial margin on Saturday evening.

Prediction: Auburn 45, South Carolina 20

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Ohio State vs. Penn State: TV Info, Live Stream and Preview for Big Ten Showdown

The Ohio State football team has a golden opportunity to make a loud statement on Saturday night. The only question is whether the College Football Playoff selection committee will be listening. 

The Buckeyes hit the road to take on Big Ten foe Penn State in front of as raucous of a crowd as you can find in college football and a prime-time audience on national television. As for the Nittany Lions, they have a chance to turn their season around with an upset after losing two straight to Northwestern and a struggling Michigan team.

Penn State probably also wants some revenge from last year’s embarrassing 63-14 loss in Ohio Stadium.

Here is a look at all the essential information for the Big Ten showdown as well as a preview.


Date: Saturday, Oct. 25

Time: 8 p.m. ET

Place: Beaver Stadium in University Park, Pennsylvania


Live Stream: Watch ESPN



Ohio State looks like a completely different team since its stunning loss to Virginia Tech back in early September, but it will be challenged by a stout Penn State defense. 

The Nittany Lions have the nation’s top run defense, which is allowing a measly 60.8 yards per game, and the sixth-best scoring defense at 15.2 points a game. However, Penn State has done its defensive damage against less-than-stellar competition and is now facing an Ohio State team that is rolling, as Adam Rittenberg of ESPN and Paul Myerberg of USA Today pointed out:

Ohio State is fresh off a game that saw it rack up an astonishing 324 rushing yards against Rutgers behind J.T. Barrett, Ezekiel Elliott and an array of other playmakers. It also tallied 269 yards on the ground against Maryland, 380 against Cincinnati and 284 against Kent State.

It’s safe to say something has to give between the Buckeyes’ rushing attack and Penn State’s stout run defense.

It’s not just the Ohio State rushing attack, though, that is steering an offense that just set a program record with four straight games of 50 or more points. The Buckeyes are fourth in the nation in scoring offense at 46.5 points a game, and Barrett is picking up some Heisman momentum with his arm and legs. 

In the last four games, Barrett has 1,170 passing yards, 17 passing touchdowns, one interception, a 68.3 completion percentage, 263 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns. Eleven Warriors noted that his raw statistics look awfully similar to Jameis Winston’s from his Heisman season in 2013:

Many people wrote Ohio State off when Braxton Miller went down with an injury before the season started, and this is a chance for Barrett to prove in front of a national audience that there is a new star quarterback leading the way for the scarlet and gray. The defending Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week could also butt his way into the Heisman discussion with an impressive performance.

Barrett’s counterpart in this matchup is the key to Penn State’s entire offense.

Quarterback Christian Hackenberg is third in the Big Ten with 1,637 passing yards, but he only has five touchdown passes to go with his seven interceptions. From a talent standpoint, Hackenberg is likely a future NFL quarterback, and he can put some points on the board quickly, especially at home, if the Buckeyes take this matchup lightly.

One of the men in charge of stopping that Penn State offense is Ohio State defensive line coach Larry Johnson. His presence on the sidelines is an interesting twist because he coached at Penn State for 18 years before joining Urban Meyer’s staff.

Johnson discussed the upcoming game, via Tim May of The Columbus Dispatch: "It will be different…You spend 18 years at one place, a long time, then you walk back in there, different sideline. But I’m looking forward to going back. I’m looking forward to going back with Ohio State University. I’m looking forward to going back and being excited to play in the stadium."

That Ohio State defense has 12 sacks, 23 tackles for loss and eight interceptions during a four-game winning streak. The Buckeyes are also in the top 25 nationally in scoring defense, passing yards allowed and first downs allowed.

To make matters worse from Penn State’s perspective, the Nittany Lions have a whopping 19 combined points the last two games. Scoring 19 points would be a productive quarter for the Buckeyes the way their offense has been rolling lately.

On paper, this really should not be that close. The one challenge for Ohio State will be the overall atmosphere, which should be electric under the lights. However, the Buckeyes can put a quick end to the noise level if they jump out to an early lead, and that is likely exactly what Meyer wants to do.

The Penn State offense is an abysmal 111th in the country in points per game (21.2) and doesn’t have the firepower to keep up with Ohio State. The red-hot Buckeyes offense and potentially underrated defense will simply overwhelm the Nittany Lions from a talent perspective.

This one will not be competitive into the final quarter. 

Prediction: Ohio State 41, Penn State 14


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Pac-12 Football: The Midseason All-Conference Team for the Pac-12

We're almost to the halfway point of the conference schedule in the Pac-12, which fortunately means a lot of exciting football is coming over the next six weeks.

But we've seen enough to know which players have already made an unforgettable mark on the 2014 campaign. When the season concludes, the best players at each position will find themselves on the exclusive all-conference team, and that group may look a little different in December than it does today.

Some of the notable players in the preseason have performed as expected, while several fresh faces have inserted themselves into the conversation at their position.

Talent is definitely being factored in here, but it's far outweighed by what a player has done in 2014. Wide receiver Austin Hill is talented and had a spectacular 2012 campaign, but that won't play into the all-conference selection for the current season.

Neither will NFL prospects, so while Oregon defensive end Arik Armstead may be a first- or second-day pick in the NFL draft when he chooses to declare, he probably isn't among the top players at his position in the conference to date.

Take a look at our midseason all-conference team and as always, feel free to point out who's missing and who could make a late-season push to merit inclusion at the end of the year.

All stats via

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Clemson Football: Position-by-Position Midseason Grades for the Tigers

The Clemson Tigers have won four straight games after a 1-2 start early on. The chances of winning the conference are getting slimmer with every Florida State victory, but the opportunity for an 11-win season is still out there.

This team still has a lot to play for, and this group is playing about as well as anyone in the country right now defensively.

The offense has been shaky since the injury to quarterback Deshaun Watson, but things could get back on track this weekend versus Syracuse.

I have broken down each position and graded them accordingly. Most of the positional units have performed well this season, but a couple of them have a ton of room for improvement.


*Defensive statistics used in this article came from

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College Football Picks: Week 9 Predictions for Every Game

It's a relatively light week in college football, with only 48 games on the schedule between Thursday night and early Sunday morning. And at first glance it doesn't look like a particularly awe-inspiring slate, with only two games pitting ranked teams.

But we've been down this road before. No matter what things looked like going into a weekend, every one so far this season has been wonderful once it's gone down. That's what we're expecting this time around, too.

Four unbeatens, but two of them are on the road this week against five-win teams. And several other games will have major impacts on conference and division standings, not to mention all of the contests featuring teams a win away from bowl eligibility.

Check out our predictions for Week 9 of the 2014 season, then give us your guesses in the comments section.

Last week: 37-16 (.698)

Season: 371-121 (.754)

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Louisville Restaurant Takes Crab Legs off Menu Prior to Florida State Game

The Louisville Cardinals will try to take down the undefeated Florida State Seminoles on Thursday, October 30, and local establishments are taking the opportunity to make more jokes about Jameis Winston.

Steakhouse owner Jeff Ruby tweeted that his Louisville location would not be selling crab legs at their raw bar because Winston is in town. 

People continue to take shots at Winston over the crab leg incident in late April. It's unclear if Ruby is serious about taking the item off of the menu, but I'm sure Winston wouldn't be a fan if he saw the tweet.

[Twitter, h/t College Spun]

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Oregon Football: Ranking Ducks' Biggest Remaining Threats on 2014 Schedule

The Oregon Ducks (6-1, 3-1) are firmly in control of the Pac-12 North and are ranked No. 6 in the country; however, there are still five tough Pac-12 opponents waiting to take them out of contention for a spot in the College Football Playoff.

While an early loss to Arizona may have bruised Oregon’s playoff hopes, it turned out not to be the knockout blow we originally thought it might be. In fact, Bleacher Report’s Samuel Chi projects that the Ducks will play in the College Football Playoff.

With only five games left this season—not including a Pac-12 Championship Game—the Ducks have limited opportunities to impress the playoff selection committee and leave their mark on the college football season.

With a healthy offensive line, the emergence of true freshman running back Royce Freeman, an improving defense and Heisman candidate Marcus Mariota under center, the Ducks are poised to do some late damage and prove themselves to be a worthy playoff candidate.

As we mentioned, five tough Pac-12 opponents stand between them and a shot at the Pac-12 title game. One slip-up and the Ducks' postseason aspirations will go up in smoke.

With that in mind, let’s rank the biggest remaining threats on Oregon’s schedule.

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The Alabama Effect on the SEC

Paul Finebaum noticed something peculiar when he was in Fayetteville, Arkansas, two weeks ago to see Arkansas take on Alabama.

There was no fear or anxiety in the air from anyone the SEC prognosticator talked to—from Razorbacks coach Bret Bielema down to the fans grilling hot dogs before the game. The usual intimidation that comes with playing Alabama was largely gone.

Alabama ended up winning an ugly 14-13 game. But Arkansas—the team and fans—believed it could win all the way until the final whistle.

The Crimson Tide have become the standard to which teams are measured, and nowhere is that more apparent than their own division, which top to bottom is unquestionably the best in college football.

When Ole Miss took down Alabama two weeks ago, fans immediately poured onto the field, tore down the goalposts and launched a celebration that will be remembered in Oxford for a long time. In fact, two of Alabama’s last three losses have elicited field stormings from the victorious in attendance.

“Just to see them and see how big it is for them to just beat Alabama—they make it a big deal,” Alabama senior fullback Jalston Fowler said. “When we win, we just keep it simple and keep going.”

The SEC West is a combined 38-11 to start the season. Ten of those 11 losses were to teams within the division. The only loss? Last place Arkansas fell this past weekend 45-32 to Georgia—the top team in the East.

It speaks volumes when the division’s worst team by a wide margin is Arkansas, which chewed up Texas Tech’s front seven and spat it back out then handled a good MAC team in Northern Illinois.

This year’s dominance is a culmination of the profound effect that Nick Saban and Alabama have had on the rest of the league since joining forces in 2007, especially within their own division. Three BCS championships over a four-year span created an astronomical convention for teams to play to.

In 2008, SEC West teams won an average of 7.2 games. Last year that number was up to 8.6.

“Alabama is the measuring stick,” Finebaum said. “Ole Miss—it wasn’t about, 'Well are we going to beat State or LSU?' It’s, 'How are we going to beat Alabama?' At LSU it’s the same thing. At Mississippi State, they’re not successful until they beat Alabama. Auburn obsesses over Alabama.”

Just about every team in the division (save for LSU) has seemingly overhauled its football department to get to that level where it can compete at that level or to be prepared to compete at that level from the get-go (Texas A&M).

These changes have come on and off the field in the form of style of play, recruiting and increased resources.

It’s gotten to the point where all six other teams feel they can play at that level. Even Arkansas, way down at the bottom.

“Everybody in our division has a really good team, and we all have to play each other,” Saban said. “I don’t ever remember it ever being like that.”


Style of Play

Alabama was winning with defense.

It led the country in yards per game in two of its three of its championship seasons, the outlier being 2009, when it finished second to TCU, which then played in the Mountain West.

But surely there had to be an effective counter. Teams found that success with the hurry-up offense.

By getting back to the line faster, running more plays and creating confusion for defenses, teams were able to level the playing field of sorts.

Outside of LSU, which has been the only school able to match Alabama pound-for-pound talent-wise (more on that in a moment), teams that have beaten the Crimson Tide lately have used some version of that style of play.

Alabama defenses under Saban rely on being disciplined. Players could read keys pre-snap, make calls depending on formations and personnel and adjust accordingly. Fastball teams take precious time away from that process and cause confusion as the ball is being snapped.

It started in 2010, when Gus Malzahn was Auburn’s offensive coordinator. Led by quarterback Cam Newton, the Tigers hit several big plays, mounting one of the most memorable comebacks in college football history to take down the Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa.

After head coach Gene Chizik’s firing after the 2012 season, Malzahn was hired as his replacement. He beat Alabama in his first game as head coach in 2013 using a similar style of play.

"That hurry-up, no-huddle is what high school kids really enjoy these days," Auburn athletics director Jay Jacobs told B/R’s Barrett Sallee in the spring. "Even though we're both recruiting the best athletes and go head-to-head on a lot of recruits, our style is totally different. It's what Gus has always run since he was a high school coach, and has made the games really fun. It's a totally different style than the pro style, and it gives the prospects a choice."

Now, every other SEC West school except for LSU and Arkansas run some form of that hurry-up, no-huddle.

Texas A&M laid the best blueprint for beating Alabama in 2012. It came into Bryant-Denny Stadium and shocked the world, beating the Crimson Tide 29-24 and putting up 418 yards of total offense in the process. A year later it ran up 628 yards against Alabama in a loss.

It’s still unclear whether that style of play is specifically responsible for Alabama’s defensive struggles. Whether it plays out over the course of the game could be argued either way. But teams have been able to hit timely big plays, like Ole Miss just two weeks ago. And it helps to have the right quarterback.

“Johnny Manziel is a blueprint,” Finebaum said. “There was no way to defend him.”

Still, hurry-up offenses are here to stay. They’ve caused a lot of headaches for Saban, who is used to winning with defense.

“I never thought that I would be here as a coach, in my lifetime as a coach," Saban said. "That running regular, I-formation plays and running the ball out of regular two wide receivers, two backs out of the backfield, would be the anomaly of football.”



Of course, these styles of play don’t mean much without talented players to run the system.

“None of us are great coaches without players who can make plays,” Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze said.

Alabama has signed Rivals’ No. 1 class every year since 2008, Saban’s first full year to pull in a recruiting class. That’s given the Crimson Tide the players necessary to play that physically dominating style on offense and defense that defined their dynasty.

And as their talent level has gone up, just like with style of play, schools have adapted. While there have been ups and downs for the league as a whole, over time, the recruiting has trended in a positive direction in terms of class ranking since Saban has been at Alabama.

Malzahn, Freeze and Sumlin were hired not just for their schematic acumen, but their persuasive ability with high school recruits. Notably, Ole Miss signed a top-10 class—unheard of in Oxford before Freeze’s arrival—with players like Antonio Conner, Evan Engram, Robert Nkemdiche, Laquon Treadwell and Laremy Tunsil, among others from that class, playing key roles in the Rebels’ upset over Alabama.

“Alabama has as many 5-star recruits as they ever have, it’s just a matter of if they all pan out,” Finebaum said. “Meanwhile, Ole Miss just happened to come up with the stars of that class a year ago. If Alabama had taken one or two of those players—it’s so hard to figure that out.”

And it’s worked both ways.

As teams recruit to match that talent level of Alabama, the Crimson Tide too have had to adjust their style to match the offenses teams have brought in.

Those included players like outside linebacker Rashaan Evans and defensive end Da’Shawn Hand, both smaller players than Saban would normally recruit at their position but faster and more apt to counter spread teams.

“One of the goals we have was to get a little more fast-twitch, quicker-body-type guys to play on the edges for us,” Saban said this past signing day. “We're playing against a lot more spread. I feel between the outside backer types we got as well as some of the more athletic kind of defensive ends we got that maybe we satisfied that need as well. “



Players not only need somewhere to practice but also to have meetings, watch film and just hang out. Alabama has similarly been at the forefront of facilities and stadium upgrades—key factors in recruiting and player development—and so too have schools followed suit to keep up.

Since Saban came to Alabama, every SEC West school has made significant upgrades to either its stadium, practice facility or both.

The Crimson Tide notably upgraded their stadium to hold over 100,000 fans opening in 2010 and last year unveiled a $9 million weight room/player lounge/team facility that could pass for a 5-star hotel if need be.

“All that does is create an atmosphere where you look over there, depending on which direction, and you go to your AD and say, ‘Hey, Alabama has a brand new workout room with 25 plasma TVs in there, how come we only have three?’” Finebaum said.

For other schools whose resources are competitive nationally but put them in the bottom half of the West, the challenge becomes allocating those resources efficiently.

“We’ve invested $100 million in facilities in the last couple of years,” Mississippi State athletics director Scott Strickland said in an interview with Bleacher Report. “The Leo Seal, Jr. Football Complex is as nice a football complex as you’ll find. It doesn’t have gold-plated toilets, you don’t walk into the lobby and see a waterfall. But it’s very nice. Again, we try to put our money where we think it’s going to make the biggest impact and not things that may be as showy or flashy as what other people spend their money on.

"That’s not a criticism of other people, that’s just what works for us, the kind of kids we attract. That’s the way we do it.”

Alabama too has set the precedent in the salary game.

When Nick Saban was originally hired in 2007, he made a then-unheard-of $4 million.

In 2013, the average SEC coach made an average of $3.3 million, per USA Today’s database of coaches salaries. That’s a number sure to go up once full 2014 numbers are out, as both Saban and Malzahn received lucrative extensions.

Saban’s most recent raise and extension over the summer has him making $6.9 million per year, while Malzahn will make $3.85 million. Saban’s staff as a whole will make $5.2 million.

“(Saban) elevated the salary game to such a high number,” Finebaum said. “He was at one level—if you paid him $4 million when he started out, they paid the Auburn coach $1.3 (million). Everyone started paying more. Doesn’t always mean you always get better coaches, but what it does mean is you can probably get better assistant coaches, because there’s so much money allocated across the board.”


End in Sight?

The question now becomes, with a league so utterly dominant, when will it end?

For Alabama, the hot debate after a loss so early in the 2014 season has been whether its college football dynasty is over. The jury is still very much out there—the Crimson Tide still have a very real chance to win the SEC, make the College Football Playoff and add to their trophy case.

But if Alabama is undone, it will be as a byproduct of its own success. Whether it loses another game to Texas A&M, Mississippi State, Auburn or someone else, it will be a team that has studied the Crimson Tide blueprint and worked tirelessly to defeat it.

And the division could become a victim of its own success, with so many good teams beating up on each other and thus taking each other out of the national picture.

These things come and go, ebb and flow. The SEC West’s supremacy won’t last forever.

“Everybody in the East wants to win just as badly as everybody in the West,” Strickland said.

For now, though, the division can enjoy having five of its seven teams ranked in the AP Top 25, including four in the Top 5.

And no matter where it ends, there will be no question where it started. At a school in Tuscaloosa with a coach who changed the game.

“There’s no question,” Finebaum said. “Nick Saban has influenced everything.”


Marc Torrence is the Alabama lead writer for Bleacher Report. All quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.

Follow on Twitter @marctorrence.

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2016 DE Jamal Holloway​'s Journey from the Hardwood to the Gridiron

Jamal Holloway admits he wasn't giving football full attention at the start of his junior season. He wore the Panthers' purple and gold uniform, working through drill after drill, but thoughts drifted to the 10-point lead that painfully vanished nearly half a year earlier.

The coveted 6'3", 215-pound prospect from Camden High School in Southern New Jersey couldn't put Newark Tech out of his mind. That's the opponent who stormed back during the final stretch of a tightly contested 2014 Group II state title game to thwart the Panthers' aspirations for a championship.

"That one hurt a lot," he said.

Holloway, who doubles as a defender on the football field and forward on the basketball court, sought to solidify a lasting spot in the legacy of Camden's storied hoops program. He averaged a double-double during his sophomore season and led all starters in field-goal percentage. 

A breakout season ended in the showdown with Newark Tech, a frustrating 48-44 defeat in which Holloway struggled to find his rhythm. Emotions from the game's aftermath lingered into summer and eventually football training camp, creating a slight hangover effect. 

"I let that loss bother me for a while, probably too long," Holloway said. "I went through some trouble focusing on football early because my mind was thinking about how close we were to bringing home a state title. I was just upset about it."

It took a few live-action reps, but eventually he put things in perspective.

Postseason glory is also up for grabs on the gridiron, and Camden, unbeaten through six games, requires his best to make a deep run.

"I'm all about football right now," he said. "My coaches and teammates helped keep me on track. There's another championship to chase."

Holloway, who averaged 14 points per game last basketball season, conversely aims to limit scoring during the fall. He's an impressive edge defender with 80 tackles and 10 sacks since the start of last season.

Not bad for a player who briefly walked away from the sport during a span of his adolescence to focus on basketball.

These days, Holloway is chasing down quarterbacks with the same tenacity he displays during a drive toward the rim.

"Jamal is what we call a 'freak athlete,' and there's a lot of room for him to grow," Camden football coach Dwayne Savage said. "He's a natural pass-rusher who is really just starting to understand the game. He's the kind of player who can continue to improve when he gets to college. It's all about finding the right fit for him."

His options are mounting.

Holloway holds scholarship offers from Michigan State, Pitt, Temple, Old Dominion, Virginia and Rutgers. Plenty of others have hosted him on campus or expressed interest, including Ohio State and West Virginia.

"I like having offers from this region, but I'm open to go anywhere in the country," he said. "It's a chance to see the world. Education is the most important thing because a career in football is never guaranteed."

Holloway, who hopes to focus collegiate studies in the science field, has enjoyed a rapid rise in the recruiting spectrum. Teams across the country continue to identify him as a "high ceiling" guy who is just starting to scratch the surface of his potential.

"College coaches always tell me I bring a lot of natural athleticism to the field, which they definitely like," he said. "They say I'm fast off the ball and like what I can do along the outside. There are definitely things I need to work on, like using my hands better, but they can see how I'm developing."

There's a bit of rawness to his game at this stage, but the promise is apparent.

"Jamal picked things up really quickly," said teammate Ron Johnson, a 4-star defensive end prospect. "Right now he's still figuring some things out, but he can take over sometimes."

His success is starting to come more consistently, evidenced by five straight games with at least four tackles. 

College programs vary on where they envision Holloway within a defensive scheme. Rutgers, the in-state Big Ten Conference newcomer, hosted him for a victory over Michigan earlier this month and believes he's best suited to bulk up a bit and play defensive end.

"I really like the way Rutgers plays, especially now that they're in a bigger conference," Holloway said. "It's a tenacious defense that's always in attack mode. I could see myself there."

Michigan State has also emerged as a top contender and defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi maintains contact. Unlike Rutgers, the Spartans would prefer him to line up at outside linebacker.

Life in East Lansing, Michigan, would also provide an intriguing possibility for Holloway. Michigan State is one of three schools that have opened the door for him to enroll as a dual-threat athlete.

Along with Virginia and Temple, the Spartans coaching staff has talked with him about potentially walking on to the basketball team. It's a difficult task, notably done by eventual NFL stars Donovan McNabb (Syracuse) and Julius Peppers (North Carolina), but Holloway won't shy away from the workload.

"Playing both sports in college is something I would like to pursue," he said. "If the option is there, why not? It won't be easy, but that's a big goal of mine. I'm grateful that some of these teams are willing to let me do that."

With those plans at the forefront, Holloway concentrates on staying sharp in both sports throughout the year. His mindset will revolve around football for at least another five or six weeks, but preparation for hoops season becomes paramount as Thanksgiving nears.

"It can be tough to handle sometimes because I try to focus on one sport while it's in that season," he said. "But I still need to be ready for basketball, so it's important for me to work myself into shape and make sure my shot is solid, especially when it gets closer to December."

Holloway doesn't take days off of the grind and typically spends a portion of his Sunday working out with Camden basketball legend Dajuan Wagner, who famously scored 100 points in a game and remains New Jersey's all-time leading scorer.

The former Cleveland Cavaliers lottery pick is practically royalty within the community and continues to support local athletes, including one of the town's top basketball players who happens to be pretty darn good at football.

"He tells me to work on my fundamentals in everything I do and that will eventually pay off," Holloway said. "We don't really talk about the recruiting stuff, but I know he's here to help me when I need advice. That's pretty big."

Holloway is more likely to log 100 tackles in 10 games than 100 points in four quarters, but you better believe he has his sights set on matching at least one of Wagner's high school accomplishments—a state championship victory.

Whether Holloway is throwing down dunks or running backs, that quest remains constant. 


Quotes obtained firsthand by Bleacher Report national recruiting columnist Tyler Donohue.

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B/R Exclusive: Watch Top DE in 2015 Class Kengera Daniel Commit

Kengera Daniel, a top defensive end in the 2015 class, sat down with Bleacher Report to announce his official commitment. He has narrowed his choices to Louisville, Alabama, Kentucky, Virginia and NC State. Tune in to find out which school he chooses.

How well do you think he will fit in with his new team?

Watch the video and let us know!

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Tennessee Trip Perfect Solution to Alabama's Road Woes

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — It’s been a tale of two Alabamas during the 2014 season.

There’s home Alabama and road Alabama. Home Alabama looks unbeatable, breaking records and grinding offenses into a fine dust. Road Alabama looks like it would finish toward the bottom of the SEC West.

The Crimson Tide is in the middle of a stretch of four in five games away from Bryant-Denny Stadium. They seemed to let out a lot of their frustration in their one home game during that run on Saturday, obliterating Texas A&M, 59-0.

But this week, Alabama will get back on an airplane and head to Knoxville before a bye week and subsequent trip to Baton Rouge to finish out the 2014 away schedule.

That game at LSU is massive for Alabama’s SEC West chances. It almost certainly can’t lose another game, especially before ending the season with Mississippi State and Auburn at home. And Tiger Stadium is always a difficult place to play.

But Alabama first gets to play a very down Tennessee team. It will be a great opportunity to fix its road woes before that huge trip to LSU.

*Note: Table data only include statistics from true road games, so Alabama's season opener against West Virginia in the Georgia Dome was not included.

It’s difficult to pinpoint one overarching reason Alabama has played subpar on the road.

The main one players point to is emotion, or lack thereof, and how that translates onto the field. Senior fullback Jalston Fowler thought the team was playing “like we were scared to lose.”

There was a spark in emotion, though, at the end of the Arkansas game. After Landon Collins’ late interception, players streamed onto the field in celebration. Nick Saban said that’s the most emotion he’s seen from his team in a long time and that it was good to see players celebrate simply getting a win.

So Saban came up with an analogy (along with some help from back-to-back national champion men’s golf coach Jay Seawell): “Let the horse run.” It comes from the movie, Seabiscuit, referring to a horse whose owners were too scared to lose instead of just letting it, well, run.

And run did they ever. The Alabama-Texas A&M box score reads like a video game. There was no shortage of that coveted emotion.

Now, the challenge becomes carrying that over into another week—and the rest of the season.

“That's everybody's choice. Everybody chooses their energy,” Saban said this week. “That's everybody's choice. Hopefully, our team will choose that kind of positive energy, that kind of positive attitude in terms of what they want to build on, what they want to accomplish. And understand the importance of good energy early in the week to have great preparation so they are confident going into the game and feel you can execute and do the things you need to do.”

The other factor that could be looked at is simply inexperience and the lack of execution that follows.

According to Phil Steele’s combined experience chart (h/t ESPN’s Alex Scarborough), which calculates how young a team his, Alabama checks in at No. 107 out of 128 FBS teams. 

The Crimson Tide is also breaking in a new quarterback and new offensive coordinator. Having all of that working together, especially in a hostile environment, is certainly a challenge. 

“The quarterback is the starting point of all that to manage the game,” Saban said. “His in and out of the right plays and make the right checks. I think that all starts with the preparation. I think it's really, really important to have great preparation this week because it is a challenge we have to overcome, especially offensively.

"I think it's going to be really important we play really, really good on defense as well because they have a really good defensive team. It's going to be a challenge for us offensively, being able to execute the way we need to, to have success.”

All of that will certainly be in play again this week in front of a hostile Tennessee crowd fired up by a major rivalry game and the return of a certain maligned coach in those parts.

But the Volunteers aren't expected to pose much of a threat in terms of competition. Tennessee is still looking for its first SEC West win.

Alabama can put criticisms of its past road performances behind it with a strong showing on Saturday. And in the process prepare for an even bigger test two weeks later.

“After what we did this past week, I'm ready to see what we can do on the road,” quarterback Blake Sims said. “Show everybody we can bring it from home and take it on the road and keep the same intensity.”


Marc Torrence is the Alabama lead writer for Bleacher Report. All quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.

Follow on Twitter @marctorrence.

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UCLA Defense Seeks More Sacks Despite Colorado's 'Dirty' Line Play

Seeking to improve its sputtering sack production, the UCLA defense responded with three sacks of Cal quarterback Jared Goff.

The No. 25-ranked Bruins will try to continue the positive development of its pass rush this week at Colorado, but defensive end Takkarist McKinley explained Wednesday why that's a unique challenge.

"They're dirty," McKinley said after UCLA's practice Wednesday at Spaulding Field.

The second-year junior college transfer, who joined UCLA's roster four games into the season, left no ambiguity about his assessment of the Buffaloes' offensive line.

"They try to chop-block you," McKinley said. "They try to tear your ACL. To me, that's dirty. But to them, they're just trying to do their job."

Whatever the means, the Buffaloes have been effective in their job of keeping quarterback Sefo Liufau upright for much of the season. Colorado has allowed just 12 sacks through seven games.

Offensive line play is one facet in which Colorado has undergone a wholesale transformation under second-year head coach Mike MacIntyre. The Buffs gave up 20 sacks a season ago, 30 fewer than in the 2012 campaign.

"They've given up the least amount of sacks as a unit in the Pac-12, which is saying a lot considering they've had a lot of reps and they throw it a lot," UCLA defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich said.

While Colorado has cut down the number of sacks it allows, UCLA has seen the number of sacks it generates dwindle.

The absence of All-American linebacker and first-round NFL draft pick Anthony Barr is glaring at times. Barr registered as many sacks individually in 2013 as the Bruins have as a team thus far into 2014.

UCLA's lack of sacks is partially attributable to easily rectified miscues. One of Barr's replacements at outside linebacker, Deon Hollins, has regularly been in opposing backfields and has a team-high three sacks.

Hollins has been fractions of a second away from getting several more sacks, however, and it seems like only a matter of time before the floodgates open for him.

The same is true for defensive end Owamagbe Odighizuwa, who gained his second sack on the year last week at Cal.

McKinley played a more prominent role, lining up on the outside in the position Odighizuwa previously manned—fitting, considering McKinley referred to himself as "a little Owa."

McKinley's presence allowed Odighizuwa to play on the interior of the defensive line, which Ulbrich said produced results.

"They affected the quarterback," he said. "They were getting in the backfield and in the run game, too. Started playing on [the offense's] side of the line of scrimmage a little bit more, a little bit more knock-back. They were a little bit more aggressive."

Both increasing its sack total and pressuring Liufau are contingent upon UCLA continuing to improve against the run. The Bruins are allowing 4.07 yards per rush—not a bad average by any means, but a slight jump from 2013's output of 3.95 yards per carry.

Stymieing Colorado on first and second down to create 3rd-and-long situations is key, McKinley said.

However, UCLA's best bet for shaking off Colorado's cut-blocking style and getting to Liufau is to avoid a down-and-dirty game in the trenches—no pun intended.

"If we get off [the line of scrimmage] with speed, we can beat them," McKinley said. "Use your hands, use your speed, club, rip and dip, beat them with speed."


Quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise cited. Statistics via

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Felder's Rant: Notre Dame Didn't Get Screwed; About Time Offensive PI Was Called

Referees have a lot of influence on college football games. With new rules being enforced and defenses playing more aggressively, one infraction has weighed more heavily than the rest.

Bleacher Report college football analyst Michael Felder tells you his problems with pass interference calls in college football.

Do you think this is a big problem in college football?

Watch the video and let us know!

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Lane Kiffin's Mother Worries About Son's Safety in 1st Game Back at Tennessee

Tennessee fans will never forget the way former Volunteers coach Lane Kiffinbolted for USC in January 2010 after just one season in Knoxville. This Saturday marks the first time Kiffin, now the offensive coordinator for the Alabama Crimson Tide, will return to Neyland Stadium since he resigned.

The return to Knoxville has Kiffin's mother, Robin, very concerned for her son's safety. She spoke to CBS Sports' Jon Solomon about her son's relationship with Tennessee fans.

Lane sent it [a Tosh.0 sketch] to me on a family group text. It was awful. That language is horrible. ... They never leave him alone. I don't see them picking on anybody else like that. That guy at Texas Tech (Mike Leach), he locked a quarterback in a shed and he gets another job. Are they still talking about that? No. The Arkansas guy (Bobby Petrino) gets caught on a motorcycle wreck with another woman and he gets another job. Are they talking about him? No.

The Kiffins know that Neyland Stadium is going to be a hostile environment for Lane. The family isn't taking any chances, which is why the kids will not be in attendance.

However, he doesn't have a choice. He has a job to do. Robin just wishes that her son would coach from the press box this weekend.

"I'm scared to death for his safety," Robin Kiffin said. "Some people were visiting us last weekend from Tennessee, and they said they better not let him on the sideline (where Kiffin coaches at Alabama), they should put him in the press box. I want him to be in the press box."

Although it doesn't happen frequently, fans have been known to run onto the field during games. That has to make Kiffin's family a bit uneasy.

Kiffin led Tennessee to a 7-6 record back in 2009. When the Trojans came calling in 2010, he took the job. He lasted less than four years at USC before getting fired. It didn't take him long to catch on with another program—this time as an offensive coordinator for Nick Saban's team.

The coach's exit didn't sit well with Volunteers fans. On Saturday, Tennessee fans can let Kiffin know they haven't forgotten about him. For the sake of her son, Robin is hoping that booing is the only thing that happens.

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Nebraska Football: Huskers Must Continue Reshuffling Offensive Line

It seems a little wrong to call them backups now. After a strong showing against Northwestern, right tackle Givens Price, right guard Chongo Kondolo and center Ryne Reeves made a case for a starting position on Nebraska's offensive line.

The three were able to make that case thanks to rotation.

It was that lack of rotation against Michigan State that had many confused. Even offensive coordinator Tim Beck broke his silence when speaking with reporters about failing to rotate the offensive line:

You got a guy that you trust and you know has done a good job — when do you pinch hit for him? You feel like he's due. We felt like we were due and our guys were going to go out there and eventually just make a play, get a little momentum and get a little spark. We just didn't do it.

In Evanston, Illinois, that all changed.

In the second quarter, Price, Kondolo and Reeves helped with Nebraska's seven-play, 80-yard touchdown drive, as The Grand Island Independent's Bob Hamar pointed out. The trio was also a part of another Husker touchdown later in the second half.

The argument has now become whether or not the three have earned a starting position on the offensive line. If nothing else, their performances proved that Beck needs to continue rotating the offensive line.

It's not just fans who noticed the benefit of rotating. Fellow offensive linemen saw it, too.

“We had a lot of guys step up and play really good football — Chongo, Givens and Reeves,” left guard Jake Cotton told reporters. “Guys who hadn’t got in against Michigan State came in and played their butts off. I think film is going to be really kind to them tomorrow.”

What the film will show is that Price, Kondolo and Reeves deserve to be a part of the game plan going forward. In the second half against Northwestern, the three showed just how beneficial they are to the team.

"On the second possession of the third quarter, Moudy moved to the left side,"'s Mitch Sherman noted. "Reeves entered. Kondolo and Price took the right side. The next three drives produced 185 yards and three touchdowns."

Price, Kondolo and Reeves are proving that they have more to offer the offensive line than just their talents. They're also becoming leaders, as Price told reporters:

I don’t know what he told the other guys for sure, but what he told me was I need to be more consistent in what I do. He came to us after the game and said he probably should have played some of us. So we kind of took that as, ‘You know what? We need to give him a reason to put us in early.’ And that’s what we did during the bye week.

That attitude is exactly why Beck needs to continue rotating the offensive line going forward. As long as the players are proving they're capable of stepping up in practice, they should be on the field every Saturday.

Now that Price, Kondolo and Reeves have shown what they're capable of, there really is no reason to not let them keep going. As the three get more comfortable, the small mistakes they made on pass protection will be corrected.

However, improvement does take experience. All three proved against Northwestern that they deserve the chance to earn the playing time.

Beck admitted after the Michigan State game that he should have rotated more. If nothing else, that's the primary reason Nebraska should make sure it continues during the final five games of the regular season.

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Wisconsin Football: Position-by-Position Midseason Grades for the Badgers

This season has not started off as planned for the Wisconsin football team.  After a near-miss against then-No. 13 LSU in Houston, the Badgers reeled off a trio of unimpressive victories before their slow starts got the best of them in their first true road game at Northwestern.

The Wisconsin Badgers (4-2, 1-1 Big Ten) have mostly underachieved, particularly in the passing game and defending the vertical passing game, but many of their faults have been made up for with well above-average run defense and one of the best rushing attacks in the country.

Looking at all nine position groups, I assigned grades based on performance at the midway point of the season.  While I think the arrow is pointing up at some positions, grades have been assigned based on how that group has performed to date, not accounting for how they played just last week or whether there are signs of improvement.

With a couple of A's thrown in amidst some grades that might require a signature on the test, let's go through position-by-position to see where the Badgers stand through the first six games of the season, starting with the oft-maligned quarterbacks.

Begin Slideshow