NCAA Football News

Miami vs. Virginia: Complete Game Preview

The Miami Hurricanes and Virginia Cavaliers will meet during an Atlantic Coast Conference tilt on Saturday, Nov. 22.

Both teams are coming off losses to Florida State, with Virginia (4-6, 2-4 ACC) losing 34-20 two weeks ago and the 'Canes falling 30-26 last weekend.

Miami toppled the Wahoos in 2013, though Mike London's squad took the previous three meetings, including the recent two in Charlottesville. While the Hurricanes lead the all-time series 6-5, Virginia needs a victory to remain in contention for bowl season.

As of this writing, per OddsShark, Miami is favored by six points. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET at Scott Stadium and will be televised on ESPN2.

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Kevin Hart Tells Jameis Winston to 'Stop Doing Dumb S--t,' Makes Crab-Leg Joke

This is not a Kevin Hart set. This is a tiny comedian clowning on Jameis Winston in person.

TMZ reports that Hart met the 2013 Heisman Trophy winner and some of his teammates after finishing up a show in Tallahassee, Florida. The two exchanged pleasantries, and Hart took it upon himself to relay an important message to Winston.

SportingNews.com's Caroline Sikes reports that FSU wide receiver Kermit Whitfield uploaded footage of their encounter but quickly deleted it. Fortunately, TMZ and Instagram user Juan Hustle preserved the video for posterity's sake.

In short, Hart told Winston to "stop doing dumb s---t" and indulged in a crab-legs joke.

"I started to bring a bunch of crab legs to see if you was gonna take 'em," Hart said.

This is not the face of someone enjoying a joke.

Hart's visit to campus also included a team picture. Winston is in there. You'll find him.

Hart also cheesed for a photo with Jimbo Fisher.

And now, once again, everybody is #TalkinBoutTheNoles.

 

Follow Dan on Twitter for more sports and pop culture filigree.

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Making the Case for FSU, Alabama and Oregon as Nation's No.1-Ranked Team

There is no clear-cut No. 1 team in the country, which opens up quite the debate for who should hold the top spot. It should be interesting to see what the playoff committee comes up with in their next set of rankings. 

Bleacher Report College Football Analysts Michael Felder, Adam Kramer and Barrett Sallee debate which team should be No. 1 in the country.

Which team should be No. 1 in the land?

Check out the video and let us know! 

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College Football Odds: Opening Week 13 NCAA Betting Lines and Totals

The North Carolina Tar Heels will be gunning for bowl eligibility when they take on rival Duke as 6.5-point road underdogs on the Week 13 opening betting lines at sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark.

The 5-3 Tar Heels recorded their third straight-up win in their last four games on Saturday with a nail-biting 40-35 win over Pittsburgh, covering as slender 2.5-point favorites.

The against-the-spread win was UNC’s fourth in its last five, including an important 28-27 SU win over Virginia in Week 9 that evened its record at 4-4 after a brutal start, saving its postseason hopes.

Duke hits the gridiron in Thursday night’s Tar Heels vs. Blue Devils matchup at Wallace Wade Stadium following a 17-16 loss to Virginia Tech last week. The loss ended the Blue Devils’ four-game SU and ATS win streak while continuing the team’s low-scoring trend with the point total going UNDER in five of the last six and 7-2 on the season.

While the Blue Devils have held the edge in the standings over the past two seasons, the Tar Heels have dominated in head-to-head action, going 8-1 SU in their last nine visits to Duke.

The Marshall Thundering Herd will look to remain one of just two undefeated teams in the nation, alongside Florida State, when they visit the UAB Blazers on Saturday, opening as heavy 20-point road favorites.

The 10-0 Herd extended its ATS record to 7-1 in its last eight with a 41-14 rout of the Rice Owls last weekend. Marshall has surrendered just 15 points per game in their last four, while averaging 46 points per game.

The Blazers have lost three of four SU and ATS, dropping to 5-5 on the season, 3-3 SU against Conference USA opponents, and are 1-4 SU and ATS in their last five against Marshall.

In other Week 13 college football betting action, the 10-0 Seminoles open as 20.5-point home favorites at Bleacher Report's lines partner, OddsShark.com, in their key ACC matchup with Boston College. Florida State will be looking to strengthen its position atop the AP Top 25 rankings while the 6-4 Eagles look to improve their bowl-game prospects.

No. 7 Ohio State looks to continue its rankings climb, opening as 33.5-point favorites against the Indiana Hoosiers. The Wisconsin Badgers open as 9.5-point favorites over the Iowa Hawkeyes, while the Nebraska Cornhuskers are favored by 11 over the Minnesota Golden Gophers and Ole Miss is pegged as three-point road favorites over rival Arkansas.

Opening lines courtesy of Odds Shark.

Massachusetts at Akron OFF   Northern Illinois at Ohio 2.5   Kent State at Buffalo -7   Bowling Green at Toledo OFF   Kansas State at West Virginia PK   North Carolina at Duke -6   Arkansas State at Texas State 5.5   Texas El Paso at Rice -11   Air Force at San Diego State -2   San Jose State at Utah State -9.5   Rutgers at Michigan State -22   UTSA at Western Kentucky -6   South Alabama at South Carolina OFF   Eastern Kentucky at Florida OFF   Marshall at UAB 20   Minnesota at Nebraska -10   Fordham at Army OFF   Wisconsin at Iowa 8.5   Southern Methodist at Central Florida -26.5   Northwestern at Purdue 2   Indiana at Ohio State -30   Charleston Southern at Georgia OFF   Kansas at Oklahoma OFF   Penn State at Illinois 4.5   Virginia Tech at Wake Forest 14   Louisiana Tech at Old Dominion 11.5   Washington State at Arizona State -17   Western Michigan at Central Michigan 1   New Mexico at Colorado State -21   Eastern Michigan at Ball State -17   Tulsa at Houston -21   Savannah St at BYU OFF   Syracuse at Pittsburgh -8   Boston College at Florida State -20.5   Florida International at North Texas -2   Texas Tech at Iowa State -1.5   Mississippi at Arkansas 2   Louisville at Notre Dame -9   Maryland at Michigan -3   Tulane at East Carolina -17.5   Colorado at Oregon OFF   Stanford at California 6.5   South Florida at Memphis -19   Western Carolina at Alabama OFF   Louisiana-Monroe at New Mexico State 8   Arizona at Utah -3.5   Appalachian State at Louisiana-Lafayette -11   Florida Atlantic at Middle Tennessee -7   Miami at Virginia 7   Georgia State at Clemson -40   Samford at Auburn OFF   Oklahoma State at Baylor -25   Vanderbilt at Mississippi State -30.5   Missouri at Tennessee -3   Southern Cal at UCLA -3   Cincinnati at Connecticut 11   Boise State at Wyoming 16   Oregon State at Washington -4   Fresno State at Nevada -6.5   UNLV at Hawaii -8  

Odds and stats courtesy of Odds Shark.

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College Football Picks: Louisville Cardinals at Notre Dame Fighting Irish Odds

The Louisville Cardinals will try to notch their eighth straight-up victory of the season with a trip to South Bend to square off against the Fighting Irish at Notre Dame Stadium this Saturday afternoon. The game is set to kick off at 3:30 p.m. (ET), and it will be available nationally on NBC.

The Cardinals finished their inaugural run through the ACC with a SU 5-3 record in conference play after beating Boston College 38-19 on Nov. 8 as three-point road favorites. They come into this matchup with an overall record of 7-3 SU, and they have a 6-4 mark against the spread. The total went “over” the 45.5-point closing line against the Eagles after it stayed “under” in five of Louisville’s previous seven contests.

Notre Dame’s run to a spot in the four-team national playoffs most likely came to an end with a 55-31 loss to Arizona State as a three-point road underdog on Nov. 8, but it dropped deep in the national polls this past week after suffering a stunning 43-40 overtime loss to pesky Northwestern last Saturday as 17-point home favorites. The Irish are now 7-3 SU on the year, with an even 5-5 record ATS. The total has gone over in four of their last five outings.

 

Louisville at Notre Dame Betting Storylines

Louisville has to be somewhat content with its first season in the ACC. It gave both Clemson and Florida State all it could handle in tough losses, and its only bad loss this season was a two-point setback to Virginia as a four-point road favorite.

The Cardinals did struggle to cover as heavy favorites this season, but they have performed well in the role of underdog, especially on the road. The offense may have taken a step backwards with Teddy Bridgewater moving on to the NFL, but a rock-solid defense has more than filled that void.

The Cardinals are still averaging a respectable 31.6 points a game with first Will Gardner and now Reggie Bonnafon running the show at quarterback. The passing game is averaging 239.3 yards per game while adding another 148.1 yards on the ground. Bonnafon will be making his first start of the season for the injured Gardner, which is always cause for concern.

With the exception of the 42 points it gave up to Florida State, Louisville’s defense has not allowed more than 23 points in any of its other nine games. Overall, this unit is ranked 10th in the nation in points allowed (17.8).

Notre Dame’s season has taken a dramatic turn for the worse, and to add injury to insult, Fighting Irish quarterback Everett Golson injured his throwing shoulder in the loss to Northwestern. It doesn’t appear to be serious given a “probable” playing status for this game, but the situation bears watching as we get closer to game time. Golson has been this team’s offense this season, throwing for 3,044 yards and 27 touchdowns while also being the team’s second-leading rusher with 339 yards and eight touchdown runs.

The bigger concern in this matchup could be Notre Dame’s defense. This unit did not allow more than 17 points in any of the team’s first five games this season, but starting with a wild 50-43 victory over North Carolina in early October, it has now been torched for an average of 42.2 points a game in its last five outings. The Irish jumped out to a 20-9 lead against the Wildcats in the first quarter of last Saturday’s game before things started to go south.

 

Louisville at Notre Dame Betting Odds and Trends by Doc’s Sports

Point Spread: Notre Dame -4.5

Total Line: OFF

The betting trends on Covers have listed the Cardinals as 23-8 ATS in their last 31 games on the road and 17-4 ATS in their last 21 road games against a team with a SU winning record at home. The total has stayed under in 10 of their last 14 nonconference games.

The Fighting Irish are 6-1 ATS in their last seven games against a team with a SU winning record, but they are just 2-5 ATS in their last seven games following a SU loss. The total has gone over in four of their last five games.

This will be the first meeting between the two as part of Notre Dame’s newly expanded schedule against the ACC.

 

College Football Picks: Louisville at Notre Dame Betting Predictions

As mentioned earlier, Louisville has been a tough out as an underdog this season, but it is walking into a hornet’s nest this week in South Bend. The Fighting Irish are a much better team than what they have shown on the field the past two weeks, and they will be looking to take out these frustrations on the Cardinals.

 

Take: Notre Dame (-4.5) over Louisville; 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 22

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Why Will Muschamp's Florida Career Was Doomed from the Beginning

This was so obvious from the start, an inevitability from day one. Florida fired Will Muschamp on Sunday, four years after the Big Mistake, when he was hired. People liked Muschamp. They loved his fire. He was quirky.

And that's nice and all, but at some point, people will look back at this as one of the worst, most destructive big hires in modern college football history. Charlie Weis might be off the hook. Twice.

What did Muschamp accomplish at Florida? Put it this way, four years ago, Florida had all the momentum anyone could have had in college football. Tim Tebow. Urban Meyer. National championships. In just four years, a dynasty is gone because of the Big Mistake, hiring Muschamp because he had been called the "head coach in waiting'' at Texas.

Still waiting.

It was an impulse hire, and Florida is now lost in the SEC. Its big budget isn't going to be enough to stop the momentum of Alabama, Auburn and now the Mississippis.

Head coach in waiting. That is just such a damning thing to call a guy. Years ago, I gave Weis the nickname "the Intern'' because Notre Dame had made the unbelievable choice to hire a guy who had never been a head coach to take one of the most prestigious, pressure-filled head coaching jobs in the country. Notre Dame was not the place to learn on the job.

You don't let someone serve an internship as the CEO of Microsoft. That's what a head coaching job is at these football powerhouses. And everyone is watching every move. Muschamp was brought in as the CEO of Florida Gators football.

Muschamp didn't get that. He was a top defensive coordinator, and coordinators are OK flailing around and letting their faces distort while they scream and curse. 

They called Muschamp Coach Boom. It's rare you see that in head coaches anymore.

Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley should have known better than to create Intern II. Somehow Foley, considered one of the top execs in college sports, is being entrusted to hire Muschamp's replacement. Probably, that's because Foley hired Meyer and also basketball coach Billy Donovan.

He will not take a chance this time. (My prediction: Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez, for his modern offensive mind).

It's not that a first-time head coach can't make it in the big time. But it would take a miracle. First-time head coaches are going to make mistakes. There's a learning curve. And the idea is to get those mistakes out of the way at, say, Miami of Ohio, where the nation isn't watching. That's why Miami is called the cradle of college coaches.

Marshall coach Doc Holliday, a former Florida assistant under Meyer, isn't sure about my theory.

"Expectations in this business are extremely high no matter where you go,'' he told Bleacher Report. "I hate it when anybody gets fired in this business.''

It's not just in college football, either. Superstar baseball players don't tend to be the best managers, either. Partly that's because they are hired into the top jobs as a PR move without first going to Des Moines for a few years to learn how to manage.

But it's even easier to get away with them at Oregon, where first-time head coach Mark Helfrich might win the national championship this year. Most of the nation is asleep by the time Oregon games are on TV.

At Florida? Forget it. It's even worse now with the SEC as the dominant conference and the SEC network in place.

But it wasn't only that Muschamp seemed and acted like an intern. Those were strikes one and two, but strike three was the style of football he had his team playing.

A program has a personality, an identity. Florida's is the fun and gun of Steve Spurrier (who it would be a mistake to bring back). If you're going to change a top program's identity, then you have about 10 seconds to make it work. If that.

That means Muschamp had about 10 seconds for his internship to be completed. Honestly, though, even when Florida went 11-2 in 2012, Florida fans weren't enjoying watching Muschamp's smashmouth defense and neglected offense.

Rodriguez did the opposite at Michigan and was run out for not doing, roughly, what Muschamp did. Now Muschamp is out for not doing what RichRod does.

Muschamp went through three offensive coordinators in four years, including Weis, the genius offensive coordinator/failed intern CEO, who needed a place to land after Notre Dame dumped him.

Florida went 4-8 last year, and it was amazing Muschamp came back. This year, it was probably over after the 42-13 home loss to Missouri. Most likely, Foley was just looking for the softest spot to dump Muschamp.

But then Florida beat Georgia, and you couldn't fire him them. The way Florida lost Saturday, to South Carolina and Spurrier—of all people—finally did Muschamp in.

People will point to the late blocked punt, which South Carolina turned into a game-tying touchdown. But really, it was more that Muschamp had the ball and actually played for the punt and defense instead of a first down that would have won the game.

As Orlando Sentinel columnist Mike Bianchi pointed out, Spurrier once was asked about having a bad punter and said, "Doesn't matter because we don't plan on punting much anyway.'' 

Muschamp planned for the punt. It's just a different mentality. So he completed his internship the way you always knew he would, with Florida lowering the boom.

 

Greg Couch covers college football for Bleacher Report. He also writes for The New York Times and was formerly a scribe for FoxSports.com and the Chicago Sun-Times. Follow him on Twitter @gregcouch.

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AJ Johnson Reportedly Named in Sexual Assault Investigation

Tennessee Volunteers linebacker A.J. Johnson was reportedly named in a sexual assault investigation following allegations that two University of Tennessee football players were involved in a rape, according to WBIR 10News in Knoxville.   

According to the report, the incident took place early Sunday morning at the Woodlands Apartment Complex in Knoxville. Jimmy Hyams of WNML shared more details of the investigation:

Volunteers head coach Butch Jones spoke about how the program will handle the situation, via the team’s official Twitter account:

This is not Johnson's first run-in with police. According to WBIR 10News' report, “The senior linebacker was arrested in February for buying alcohol for people under 21 and resisting arrest. A judge later dropped those charges as part of plea agreement that Johnson would stay out of trouble for 90 days.”

Johnson has been a key piece to the team’s defensive game plan. He has 101 combined tackles, two sacks and one interception in 10 games.

Tennessee has gone 5-5 this season with Johnson in the lineup and has two games remaining (vs. Missouri and at Vanderbilt).

 

*Stats via ESPN.com.

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Matt Miller's NFL Draft Stock for Gerod Holliman: Compares to Which ACC Legend?

The defense of the Louisville Cardinals has been much better then advertised this season, and it has a lot to do with the play of their outstanding cornerback, Gerod Holliman.

Stephen Nelson sat down with Bleacher Report College Football Analyst Michael Felder and Bleacher Report NFL Draft Lead Analyst Matt Miller to discuss Holliman's possible NFL future. 

Where do you think Holliman will get drafted?

Watch the video and let us know!

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Frank Clark Dismissed from Michigan After Arrest: Latest Details and Reaction

Michigan Wolverines defensive end Frank Clark was dismissed from the program Monday after being arrested Sunday for an alleged case of domestic violence, according to Bryan Fischer of NFL.com:

ESPN's Brett McMurphy originally reported the arrest, which involved an incident between Clark and his girlfriend at a hotel in Sandusky, Ohio.

Michigan head coach Brady Hoke spoke to Angelique Chengelis of The Detroit News about the situation:

Andy Ouriel of The Sandusky Register provided a look at Clark in court Monday and provided further details on his case:

In 10 games this season, Clark amassed 42 combined tackles and five sacks. The Wolverines are 5-5 with Clark on the field and have two games remaining (vs. Maryland and at Ohio State) on the schedule.   

The Wolverines will lean heavily on senior defensive end Brennen Beyer to pick up Clark’s weight on the field. Backup defensive ends Mario Ojemudia and Taco Charlton will get the opportunity to shine as their playing time increases.

 

*Stats via ESPN.com.

 

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Bowl Projections 2014: Playoff Predictions After Important Week 12 Results

Technically, the College Football Playoff doesn’t start until Jan. 1, but every week is a playoff in this sport. 

From the moment Lee Corso puts on the headgear in the morning on College GameDay until the final seconds tick off the clock in the late-night Pac-12 thrillers, few things in all of sports can match the drama of a college football Saturday in November.

We saw more of the same in Week 12 when 10 ranked teams lost and TCU and Florida State survived major scares from unranked foes. What’s more, Arizona State saw its championship hopes go up in flames in a trip to Oregon State.

The playoff picture was once again flipped on its head. With that in mind, here is a look at some updated playoff projections.

 

Bowl Predictions

Sugar Bowl: No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 4 Baylor

Rose Bowl: No. 2 Florida State vs. No. 3 Oregon   

Championship Bowl (in Arlington, Texas): TBD (semifinal winners)

 

Week 13 Playoff Game to Watch: Oklahoma State at Baylor

It is a testament to the lackluster Week 13 slate of games that Oklahoma State against Baylor is the matchup to watch. Sure, games between UCLA and USC, Minnesota and Nebraska and Arizona and Utah may be solid contests on paper, but none of those teams have a realistic chance to reach the playoffs.

Of the postseason contenders, Oregon plays Colorado, Florida State battles Boston College, Alabama takes on Western Carolina and Ohio State welcomes Indiana. That doesn’t exactly scream must-watch television, even if playoff spots will be hanging in the balance.

Oklahoma State turned some heads in the season opener when it nearly upset the defending champion Florida State Seminoles in a 37-31 loss.

After that, the Cowboys won five in a row and appeared to be a Big 12 contender heading into the meat of their schedule. Instead, they were crushed by TCU, West Virginia, Kansas State and Texas and have to win either at Baylor or at Oklahoma just to make a bowl game.

That is probably asking too much.

Baylor notched one of the most impressive and important wins of the entire college football season when it beat TCU 61-58. It followed that emotional win with a loss at West Virginia but bounced back two weeks later with a blowout victory over Oklahoma.

The biggest problem in this upcoming game for Oklahoma State will be Baylor’s powerful offense. 

The Bears boast the No. 1 scoring offense in the country at 50.1 points a game and feature an incredibly balanced attack that forces the opposition to pick its poison. Baylor is No. 3 in passing yards per game and No. 24 in rushing yards per game.

Oklahoma State will counter that with a defense that is allowing an abysmal 30 points a game. The Cowboys haven’t even been close in any game since an Oct. 11 win over Kansas. This is just an uneven matchup any way you look at it.

On the other side, Baylor’s defense should be able to contain Oklahoma State’s offense.

It is a common assumption that the Bears cannot play defense because all they do is score, but they are actually 19th in the country in points allowed per game. That is even more impressive when you consider how quickly and often the offense scores, which forces the defense to be on the field for a large portion of the game.

Rather than wearing out and allowing significant chunks of points, Baylor’s defense has more than held its own every time out except in its 61-58 win over TCU.

The Oklahoma State offense it will face has been a train wreck in the last four games, which were all blowout losses. The Cowboys have not scored more than 14 points since that Oct. 11 game against Kansas and are 83rd in the nation in scoring offense.

Oklahoma State may garner more respect based on name recognition than some of the other opponents that playoff contenders are facing in Week 13, but this one will be over rather quickly. 

The most important thing from this game will be the resultant playoff fallout, especially in the race between TCU and Baylor for positioning. Jonathan Smith of 97.1 The Fan and Jake Trotter of ESPN both had interesting perspectives on that, while Stewart Mandel of Fox Sports passed along a quote from selection committee member Jeff Long:

Get ready for more arguing because Baylor is not going to lose to Oklahoma State. 

Prediction: Baylor 41, Oklahoma State 14

 

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Everyone Knows the Top 3, but Who Should Be No. 4 in the CFP Rankings?

With the top three teams all but locked up as Florida State, Alabama and Oregon, the final spot is up for grabs in the latest College Football Playoff rankings.  

Bleacher Report College Football Analysts Michael Felder, Barrett Sallee and Adam Kramer discuss who they believe should round out the final four. 

Which team deserves to be fourth in the CFP rankings?

Check out the video, and let us know!

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Watch Incredible HS TD with a 1-Handed Spin Move, Truck Stick and Stiff Arm

Tristian Price of King High School (Corpus Christi, Texas) cannot be tackled in one of the most incredible runs you will see all season. Tristian uses nearly every move in the running back arsenal to score the touchdown.

Is this the best rushing touchdown you've ever seen?

Watch the video and let us know!

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Samford vs. Auburn: Complete Game Preview

AUBURN, Ala. — In the span of two weeks, Auburn has gone from No. 3 in the nation with SEC Championship hopes to a team eliminated from title contention and looking to avoid a complete disappointment of a season.

Next week, the Tigers will travel to face a rival Alabama squad that is focused on reclaiming the divisional crown and getting revenge from last year's memorable loss in Jordan-Hare Stadium.

Good thing Auburn has this weekend's matchup, a home game against FCS opponent Samford.

Auburn is coming off its worst offensive performance of the Gus Malzahn era and another disappointing day for defense and special teams against Georgia, who won 34-7 in Athens.

The Tigers have plenty of issues to correct before they face a hot Alabama team, making Saturday night's home finale less about the result and more about how they improve on the field.

Before we break down the game, which is a return to the Plains for former Auburn Heisman-winning quarterback and current Samford head coach Pat Sullivan, here are the quick basics you need to know:

  • Date: Saturday, Nov. 22
  • Time: 7 p.m. ET (6 p.m. local)
  • Place: Jordan-Hare Stadium; Auburn, Ala.
  • TV: ESPNU
  • Radio: Auburn IMG Sports Network
  • Spread: N/A

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Why Alabama Is Built Best for the College Football Playoff

There is nothing novel or endearing about saying Alabama is the best-built team for the College Football Playoff, but that doesn't make it any less correct.

It has the best players, after all. It does. That's what four straight No. 1 recruiting classes will do for you.

"Arguably, they’ve got the greatest collection of football players ever assembled for a college team if the recruiting services are correct," South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier said at SEC media days this summer. "And they're pretty much correct."

It has the most experienced coaching staff, too. Or at least it does among the contenders.

TCU head coach Gary Patterson and defensive coordinator Dick Bumpas have been together longer than Nick Saban and Kirby Smart, and they have enjoyed great success in their own right. But they haven't done it on a CFP-sized stage the way Saban and Smart have.

They haven't won three national titles in a four-year stretch.

More than that, though, Alabama is the most complete team in the country. There is nothing that it struggles to do.

It doesn't throw as well it did in 2013, but it can still throw. It doesn't run as well as it did in 2012, but it can still run. It doesn't defend as well as it did in 201—actually, maybe it does.

Just go ask Mississippi State.

According to the F/+ ratings at Football Outsiders, Alabama has the No. 4 offense and the No. 2 defense in the country. No other team has two top-five units. Heck, no other team has two in the top 10. 

Oregon's pass defense (and the health of its offensive line) is still an issue. Florida State cannot stop the run. TCU has looked careless away from Fort Worth. Ditto Baylor away from Waco.

We can't know for sure what kind of team is best-equipped to handle the playoff, because it's never happened before. But it stands to reason that the team with the fewest weak areas would rank toward the top.

The addition of a semifinal means one more chance for a team to exploit you, one more opponent that might be your kryptonite. The teams that can beat you in multiple ways have the best chance of surviving two playoff games.

Alabama can beat you in any way it must.

In the words of Matt Brown of Sports on Earth:

Like any other team, Alabama has its flaws, and any team of college players is going to inject a degree of uncertainty into the proceedings. Still, like no other team, every aspect of a game in Tuscaloosa is a relentless physical test for opponents. Like the rest of the Saban era, Alabama is beatable—only once has it finished undefeated, after all—but it takes a lot for multiple teams to get the job done in the regular season. ...

There are ways to beat Alabama. There just aren't as many ways as the rest of college football, meaning Alabama is back to being the team anyone should least want to face in November and beyond.

The Crimson Tide are peaking at the end of the season for the umpteenth time under Saban, and they're doing it with a redshirt senior quarterback in Blake Sims. They're doing it with a Heisman candidate skill player in Amari Cooper. They're doing it with a one-time national champion offensive coordinator in Lane Kiffin.

Florida State fans would argue (and would not be entirely wrong to argue) that the 'Noles are best-equipped to handle the playoff because they are the only power-conference team with an undefeated record. Plus, you know, they won the national championship with the same head coach and quarterback last year.

But the way Florida State has dug itself into holes—even if it's just to pull a Houdini at the last possible second—does not make it a comfortable horse to back.

Louisville and Miami are good teams, but they aren't very good teams. Whichever team the Seminoles play in the playoff will by definition be very good. And very good teams are by definition able to hold a lead.

That's ostensibly how they'll have made the CFP in the first place.

But Jameis Winston is the best clutch quarterback in football. Yes. Yes he is. There's a reason he has never lost a game.

Sims, however, is starting to close the gap.

He led a nine-play, 50-second, 55-yard field-goal drive to force overtime against LSU in Tiger Stadium. He led a 15-play, six-plus-minute, 76-yard touchdown drive to ice the game against Mississippi State. The latter prompted Saban to tell reporters, "That was probably one of the greatest drives in Alabama history."

Saban. Who literally never uses hyperbole.

He knows a special something when he sees it.

That is slowly what this team has become.

 

Follow Brian Leigh on Twitter: @BLeighDAT

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Florida Head Coach Search: Latest News and Rumors on Position

Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp announced Sunday that he will be stepping down at the conclusion of the season, according to ESPN's Brett McMurphy.    

The process of finding Muschamp’s replacement has already reportedly started, and McMurphy has revealed that two of the biggest names in the sport are not on Florida’s radar:

Athletics Director Jeremy Foley also spoke about the open position, via Robbie Andreu of The Gainesville Sun:

ESPN's Jake Trotter provided comments from Bob Stoops regarding the Florida position:

In Muschamp’s four seasons with the Gators, he has amassed a 27-20 overall record (17-15 against the SEC). Florida is coming off a heartbreaking loss to South Carolina on Saturday and is now 5-4 this season.

While a win over the Georgia Bulldogs was impressive earlier this month, losses to Alabama, LSU, Missouri and the Gamecocks have exposed the team’s weaknesses. Florida is currently ranked 66th in points per game (29.3) and 34th in points allowed (22.9).

Muschamp will coach the team’s final two games of the season before being bought out of his contract. The Gators face Eastern Kentucky on Saturday before finishing the season against Florida State on Nov. 29.

 

*Stats via ESPN.com.

 

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5 Most Likely Landing Spots for Ousted Florida Coach Will Muschamp

The inevitable became reality on Sunday, when Florida announced via a press release that head coach Will Muschamp will step down at the end of the season.

"I was given every opportunity to get it done here and I simply didn’t win enough games—that is the bottom line," Muschamp said in the release. "I’m disappointed that I didn’t get it done and it is my responsibility to get it done."

We've already tossed out five options for the next Gators' head coach, but what does the future hold for Muschamp? The Gators have finished in the top 10 nationally in total defense in each of Muschamp's first three seasons in Gainesville, and are ranked 20th this season (330.3 YPG). He can still coach defense, and he will be sought after during the coaching silly season.

Where will Muschamp land? Our top five options are in this slideshow.

Begin Slideshow

Did Ohio State Blow Opportunity to Improve Playoff Standing Against Minnesota?

Ohio State battled the frigid conditions and a tough Minnesota team last Saturday, overcoming three uncharacteristic turnovers in a 31-24 victory. And while Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes were happy to come out with a win, they may have missed a golden opportunity to improve their standing with the College Football Playoff selection committee.

Ranked No. 8 after a 49-37 victory on the road against Michigan State two weeks ago, the Buckeyes suddenly found themselves on the national stage once again when they took the field in Minneapolis. Their challenge came in the form of No. 25 Minnesota, who had thrashed a surging Iowa team 51-14 the previous week.

It was another chance for Ohio State to show its strength, but a sloppy performance turned what could have been an impressive showing into a close (but respectable) win. 

The Buckeyes looked to be rolling in the first quarter—up 14 with possession after forcing Minnesota's offense into its third consecutive three-and-out. That's when J.T. Barrett went for the kill with an ill-advised deep pass that was intercepted. Five plays later, Gophers running back David Cobb was racing into the end zone to make it a one-score game. 

Later in the second quarter, H-back Jalin Marshall was diving for a seven-yard touchdown when he fumbled the ball into the end zone. The Gophers recovered and then marched 80 yards in 11 plays, turning what should have been a 14-point Buckeyes lead into a tie game.

Ohio State seized control, though, scoring the game's next 17 points to gain a 31-14 lead midway through the fourth quarter. But another gaffe from Marshall—who muffed a punt inside the Buckeyes' 15-yard line—helped Minnesota tack on another score. A garbage-time Gophers field goal provided a seven-point difference that is now serving as a mirage that the game was closer than it really was. 

On Saturday, Ohio State offensive coordinator Tom Herman defended his team, saying that it performed well given the conditions and opponent, according to Doug Lesmerises of The Plain DealerBut he also admitted that the turnovers were costly.

"Obviously, we're not gonna be able to go where we want to go turning the ball over like that," Herman said, via Lesmerises.

The Buckeyes are in line to move up at least one spot thanks to Oregon State's 35-27 upset win over No. 6 Arizona State. But poor performances from other higher-ranked teams opened the door even further for the Buckeyes.

No. 4 TCU was coming off a big win over seventh-ranked Kansas State when it traveled to play a dreadful 3-6 Kansas team. The Horned Frogs looked a step slow, however, trailing by 10 midway through the third quarter before rallying for an uninspired 34-30 victory.

Top-ranked Mississippi State looked completely overmatched on the road against Alabama, falling behind 19-0 before settling in. The Bulldogs surged in the second half before eventually losing 25-20.

The Buckeyes will have to wait until Tuesday night to see how far they move up, but it's safe to assume they'd be much more confident if they had taken care of the ball against the Gophers. Because the selection committee now has a measuring stick between Ohio State and TCU—both have beaten a strong Minnesota team this season.

The difference, though, is that the Horned Frogs dominated in a 30-7 rout. 

Will the selection committee keep TCU ahead of Ohio State because it beat Minnesota in a more convincing fashion? Does a 23-point victory prove that the Horned Frogs are superior to the Buckeyes, who could only manage a seven-point win over the same team?

Minnesota linebacker De’Vondre Campbell offered his opinion on Saturday.

“Ohio State was probably the second-best team we’ve played this year, behind TCU,” Campbell said, according to Ryan Gerbosi of The Dallas Morning News. “I think TCU was a lot better."

Asked of his opinion about Minnesota and the Buckeyes performance in the driving snow and 20 degree weather, Meyer kept it simple.

“I’d like to see anybody in the country come up here and do this, come up here in November on Nov. 15," Meyer said, according to Patrick Maks of Eleven Warriors. "I challenge any team in the country that wants to go ahead and schedule this one in November against a very good team. Have at it. That’s our message.”

He's hoping the selection committee gets that message before it releases its rankings this Tuesday.

 

David Regimbal covers Ohio State football for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @davidreg412.

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Samuel Chi's Mock College Football Playoff Standings: Week 13

With three weeks left on the season, there are just seven FBS teams with no more than one loss. It's possible for all seven to win out, but only six will be able to claim (or share) their respective conference championships.

The selection committee's most difficult task now is to determine which three teams to leave out of the four-team playoff field if each wins its remaining games. Keep in mind that because the members pledged to look at the teams based on their entire body of work, the rankings may shift each week even without any of the teams losing.

So chances are the Top Four teams you see this week won't be exactly the same next week or the week after that. But the bottom line is that the current Top Three teams are in the playoff if they avoid losing, and the rest will have to fight it out for the final spot.

 

The Rankings

 

The Playoff Teams

1. Oregon

The top spot is a toss-up between Oregon and Alabama, but we think the Ducks will get the edge because of their superior record against current Top 25 teams. They have beaten three ranked teams—UCLA, Michigan State and Utah—whereas the Tide have defeated just one (over Mississippi State on Saturday).

Projected bowl: Playoff at Rose Bowl

 

2. Alabama

Their win over the Bulldogs put the Tide back in the driver's seat in the SEC West race, but their work is far from done. A loss to Auburn in the Iron Bowl will keep them out of the SEC title game and almost certainly the inaugural playoff. As things stand now, Alabama can't afford a second loss.

Projected bowl: Playoff at Sugar Bowl

 

3. Florida State

The Seminoles will make the playoff if they win out, but they have no margin for error. FSU does not own a single victory over a ranked team, so a first loss will prove fatal for its quest to repeat as the national champion. But with two home games plus the ACC title game—where it will be double-digit favorites in all—the 'Noles have the easiest path to a playoff spot.

Projected bowl: Playoff at Sugar Bowl

 

4. TCU

The Horned Frogs probably will still hold on to this spot despite a lackluster win over Kansas. Keep in mind that since the committee isn't supposed to act like pollsters, weekly results shouldn't change the narrative too much as TCU has a better overall resume than Baylor and Ohio State. But by no means that the Frogs should feel comfortable—they've got nothing locked up even if they win out.

Projected bowl: Playoff at Rose Bowl

 

The First Four Out

5. Mississippi State

The Bulldogs need help (i.e. an Auburn upset in the Iron Bowl) to win the SEC West. They need a lot more help to get into the playoff as an at-large team. Because of Miss State's weak nonconference schedule, there is little chance for it to be selected for the four-team field if there are enough one-loss conference champions available.

Projected bowl: Cotton Bowl

 

6. Baylor

The Bears were idle this week but got some good news with TCU's struggles with Kansas and also Arizona State's loss. At the end of the season, the committee will compare TCU and Baylor's resume side-by-side with close scrutiny because the two schools share 10 common opponents. The margin of victories will matter if both teams finish 11-1 and share the Big 12 title.

Projected bowl: Cotton Bowl

 

7. Ohio State

The Buckeyes remain on the outside looking in (don't let Kirk Herbstreit's bracket fool you). Their close win over Minnesota won't help their cause as TCU blew out the Gophers early in the season. And that the fact a two-loss Wisconsin (at best) will be the best game left on their schedule won't provide them much of a boost. Ohio State needs lots of things to break its way.

Projected bowl: Fiesta Bowl

 

9. UCLA

A handful of two-loss teams are still clinging to hopes of crashing the playoff field, and out of this group, UCLA might have the best shot. The Bruins control the tough Pac-12 South race, and if they beat Oregon in a rematch in the conference title game, they might have a chance to steal a berth—but they'll need a ton of help.

Projected bowl: Fiesta Bowl

 

Other Fun Facts

* The group-of-five race likely is coming down to three teams, and you have to like Marshall's chances at this point despite its less-than-rigorous schedule. Colorado State's path to the Mountain West championship is blocked by Boise State, which is also a contender but has two losses. Since seven of the committee's bottom 10 teams (Nos. 16-25) from last week lost, we expect to see at least one, if not two, non-power-five teams in the next rankings.

* There are 27 power-five teams with three or fewer losses, and all but three or four of these teams will make the next rankings. The teams about certain to be excluded are Iowa, Minnesota and Louisville, with Oklahoma and Clemson expected to fight for the last one or two spots.

* The Orange Bowl picture—a berth is guaranteed to an ACC team even if Florida State makes the playoff—got a lot murkier after both Clemson and Duke lost on Saturday. The Blue Devils will repeat as the Coastal winner if they win their remaining two games. But there's a good chance that Georgia Tech might snag this bid even if it doesn't win its division but finishes the regular season with a victory in the Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate.

 

Follow on Twitter @ThePlayoffGuru

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Which Monster TE Does 4-Star Michigan Commit Chris Clark Play Like?

Michigan fans will be glad to hear that help is right around the corner in the form of Chris Clark—a 2015 4-star tight end, per 247Sports. Clark will bring a much-needed edge to the struggling Wolverines.

Bleacher Report College Football Analyst Michael Felder explains how Clark can impact the Wolverines and compares him to a current Michigan playmaker. 

How do you think Clark can impact Michigan next season?

Watch the video and let us know!

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AP College Football Poll 2014: Official Top 25 Rankings and Week 13 Projections

There is no debate—college football pollsters have the toughest job in sports.

Little in the way of rest has been presented to those in charge of the weekly polls. The whole theory about the inaugural College Football Playoff dampening the importance of the regular season went up in flames months ago, but was violently reinforced last week.

There, Mississippi State went down and two more of the Top Five teams in the nation heavily flirted with joining the Bulldogs.

The Week 13 Associated Press poll is notable for the simple fact it made it out on time. Enjoy it, as it might not last long.

 

Week 13 AP Poll

 

Week 13 Top 25 Point Spreads and Predictions

Note: All odds, updated as of 8 p.m. ET on Nov. 16, are courtesy of Odds Shark.

 

Early Upset to Bet: North Carolina Over No. 25 Duke

They can play football at a high level, too. 

North Carolina would love nothing more than to play spoiler at this point of the season as the Duke Blue Devils look to stay in the hunt in the ACC.

The Tar Heels are just 5-5, true, but Larry Fedora's team has won three of the last four, a positive trend that started back in mid-October with a near-upset of then-No. 6 Notre Dame. There, the Tar Heels played stingy defense that forced three turnovers and got an inspiring performance from quarterback Marquise Williams.

Speaking of Williams, he is the man who makes the Tar Heels click this season. He has completed 63.2 percent of his passes for 2,502 yards and 18 touchdowns to eight interceptions. As one of the nation's premier players, he also leads the team in rushing with 623 yards and 10 scores.

Duke has a borderline top-10 defense, but asking David Cutcliffe's team to contain one of the best quarterbacks in the conference on a short turnaround after an upset is a lot.

The Blue Devils went out last week and suffered a letdown against Virginia Tech. Quarterback Anthony Boone posted an 18-of-40 line with a pair of turnovers and the offense was unable to counter an attack led by dual-threat quarterback Michael Brewer.

It has been a brutal month for the Blue Devils, which started off on the wrong foot by needing two overtimes to take down 4-6 Pittsburgh. Really, ACC play has been unkind overall to Cutcliffe and Co., a team that appears to be heading in the opposition direction when compared to North Carolina's current upswing.

Look for Williams to have a huge game on short notice.

 

Early Lock: No. 14 Wisconsin Over Iowa

There are plenty of locks on the Week 13 schedule, especially for those games that Las Vegas refuses to touch.

To keep things interesting, though, look at the impending Big Ten showdown between Wisconsin and Iowa. It is easy to shrug the game off as another episode of Melvin Gordon's dominance and be done with it, but try not to take that approach.

The Hawkeyes are very quietly 7-3 this season. The team has some very strange losses, especially those defeats against Iowa State and Maryland, but the team plays great defense by allowing just 22.5 points per game.

"It's a huge challenge," safety John Lowdermilk said, per Rick Brown of The Des Moines Register. "They're a very physical team. We didn't play the way we wanted to against Minnesota, another physical team. This is an opportunity to showcase our ability."

Of course, Gordon is a different test entirely.

Gordon just shattered the record books, as illustrated by ESPN CollegeFootball:

Wisconsin ranks third in the nation in rushing and 11th in scoring, mostly thanks to Gordon's 1,909 yards and 23 scores. It also very quietly ranks No. 3 overall in terms of points allowed, allowing just 15.3 points per game on average.

The only eyebrow-raising blemish comes by way of a loss at Northwestern, a team Iowa beat 48-7. Still, Wisconsin is a much different team now. They can quite literally run away from the Hawkeyes thanks to Gordon and a defense that can exploit a sluggish offense that hardly ranks among the top 75 in the nation.

 

Stats and information via ESPN.com unless otherwise specified.

 

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