NCAA Football News

LSU Football: Best Bowl Game Options for the Tigers

LSU head coach Les Miles will not win 10 games this season. 

Arkansas' 17-0 drubbing of the Tigers marked an end of unprecedented success for Miles, who has accumulated double-digit win totals every year since 2010. It will be only the third time in 10 seasons he will have fallen short of 10 victories. 

LSU was dismantled by the Razorbacks in every aspect of the game. The offense raked in a miserable 123 yards of total offense, and the defense could not get off the field on third down. Reliable kicker Colby Delahoussaye missed two makable kicks that cost the Tigers dearly.  

LSU will get a much-needed bye this week before heading to College Station to play Texas A&M on Thanksgiving. How the Tigers fare against the Aggies will determine which bowl they will attend. 

Bowl committees will judge LSU from many different angles. The Tigers are a household name that has a signature win in prime time over Ole Miss. Miles is one of the biggest coaching celebrities, and LSU fans travel well.

On the other hand, LSU's offense is unbearable to watch. Quarterback Anthony Jennings has thrown for fewer than 100 yards in each of the last two games. The Tigers' 23 points in the past three games is awful.

LSU will not make the College Football Playoff. The question now remains if it will make a New Year's Day bowl game. 

The Tampa Bay Times' Jim Tomlin believes LSU will play on New Year's Day. Tomlin sees the Tigers facing Nebraska in the Citrus Bowl in Orlando. 

The Citrus Bowl seems optimistic, but it is possible. The key will be if two SEC teams make the College Football Playoff. Alabama and Mississippi State are the two most likely candidates to make it. 

Jason Kirk of SB Nation sees LSU playing their final game in 2014 against West Virginia in the Liberty Bowl. The Tigers played a home-and-home with the Mountaineers in 2010 and 2011, both of which resulted in victories for Miles.

The Liberty Bowl looks more likely to happen than the Citrus, especially if the Tigers drop their season finale against Texas A&M. 

A possible, high-profile matchup would be LSU facing Texas in the Texas Bowl on December 29. The Tigers have a major alumni base in Houston, and the drive from most South Louisiana cities is relatively easy. It would be the second time the Tigers would play in NRG Stadium in 2014 and the first time they would play a bowl game before December 30 under Miles. 

An even-higher-profile matchup though would be Texas A&M facing the Longhorns in the Texas Bowl. The in-state rivals used to play each other every season on Thanksgiving. Kirk projects these two will meet in this game. 

There is also the possibility of the Tigers traveling to Shreveport, Louisiana for The Independence Bowl. This game usually matches up an elite Conference USA team with a lower-level team from the SEC or ACC. Though the game takes place in the Pelican State, it would be a massive downgrade from what Bayou Bengal fans are accustomed to seeing.

Alabama, Mississippi State, Auburn and Georgia are locks in bowl pecking order ahead of the Tigers. Ole Miss and Missouri look as if they will finish with better records than the Tigers. How all of that will factor in bowl-committee evaluations is tough to predict. 

LSU's chances of reaching New Year's Day bowl game looks slim. The Tigers will likely be in the Liberty Bowl, Texas Bowl or Music City Bowl in Nashville, Tennessee. 

Bowl projections are an inexact science. There is no telling where the Tigers will go. The picture will certainly be cleared after LSU's turkey day matchup against Texas A&M.

 

Stats, rankings and additional information provided by cfbstats.comESPN.com and LSU Sports Information. Recruiting information provided by 247Sports.

Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Follow me on Twitter @CarterthePower.

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Will Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon Be 1st Running Back Taken in 2015 NFL Draft?

Melvin Gordon is having an electric season in college football this year. He broke the FBS single-game rushing record, and he seems to be in prime position to win the Heisman Trophy. 

Stephen Nelson sits down with Bleacher Report College Football Analyst Michael Felder and Bleacher Report NFL Draft Lead Analyst Matt Miller to discuss Melvin Gordon's NFL future. 

Would you want your NFL team to draft Melvin Gordon?

Watch the video and let us know!

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USC vs. UCLA: Which Team Has Best Shot to Knock Oregon out of Playoff Race?

The battle for Los Angeles takes place in Week 13 when USC squares off with UCLA, with the winner emerging as the clear-cut threat to the Oregon Ducks' playoff hopes. 

Bleacher Report College Football Analysts Michael Felder and Barrett Sallee debate which L.A. team presents the best chance to knock off the Ducks.

Which Southern California team has the best shot to upstage Oregon?

Check out the video and let us know!  

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6 College Football Recruits Who Had an Explosive Week

The final stretch of a thrilling 2014 high school football campaign continues to provide a platform for top-tier college prospects to showcase their skills. Despite mounting pressure and postseason tests, the nation's premier recruits have shown the ability to rise and deliver crucial victories.

Here's our latest look at those who took over the action on fields across the country. Many of them will be counted on to make a collegiate impact as early as next fall.

 

5-star 2015 linebacker Malik Jefferson, Poteet High School (Mesquite, Texas)

The coveted defender celebrated his 18th birthday in style, wreaking havoc throughout a first-round playoff win over Woodrow Wilson High School. Jefferson scored twice, racked up five tackles and forced a safety in his team's 36-0 victory, per Megan Ryan of The Dallas Morning News.

He recovered a fumble and returned it 41 yards for a score. Jefferson also added a 15-yard touchdown return following a blocked punt. 

The 6'2.5", 215-pound prospect displayed the ball-hawk skills and elite quickness (clocked at 4.38 seconds in the 40-yard dash at The Opening, per Paul Myerberg of USA Today Sports) that make him special during the rout. He is rated No. 1 nationally among outside linebackers in 247Sports' composite rankings.

“He has always, constantly, pressure on him because he gets all this recognition," Poteet head coach Kody Groves told Ryan. "And it’s just so encouraging when he makes plays like that. The kid was all smiles.”

Jefferson has spent official visits at LSU and Texas A&M. He plans to line up trips to Texas and UCLA before his December decision date, per Jeff Howe of 247Sports.

 

4-star 2016 wide receiver Javon McKinley, Centennial High School (Corona, California)

Standout Southern California program Centennial seems to produce prolific offensive talents on an annual basis. It appears McKinley, a junior, is the next man up.

The 6'2", 185-pound recruit scored five touchdowns in a Pac-5 playoff opener against prospect-packed Junipero Serra High School, per Eric Sondheimer of the Los Angeles Times. His action-packed evening propelled the squad to a scintillating 68-64 win that featured 15 lead changes.

McKinley caught 13 passes for 213 yards and four touchdowns. He added an 84-yard kickoff return, proving he's among the most electric West Coast players to watch throughout the 2016 recruiting cycle. 

College programs have already taken notice of his skill set. McKinley holds scholarship offers from Arizona State, Northwestern, Washington, Cal and UCLA.

 

3-star 2015 linebacker Neal Nelson, Timber Creek High School (Erial, New Jersey)

The 6'2", 225-pound hybrid defender decimated Winslow Township's offensive scheme during first-round playoff action. Nelson led Timber Creek with 14 total tackles in a convincing 32-12 victory, per James Kratch of NJ.com.

He showed off exceptional pass-rushing skills in the process, compiling 3.5 sacks. Nelson is capable of contributing at defensive end or outside linebacker, best defined as an edge disruptor.

His effort helped Timber Creek remain unbeaten as it attempts to reach a fourth straight sectional state title game. He transferred into the program prior to his senior season after starring at Buena High School.

Nelson now has 52 tackles and 6.5 sacks this season, per MaxPreps. All of his sacks have occurred since the start of October, suggesting he's hit his stride at the perfect time.

UCF landed his commitment in June. Nelson chose the Knights over offers from Boston College, Louisville, Syracuse and Pitt.

 

5-star 2015 wide receiver Deon Cain, Tampa Bay Tech High School (Tampa, Florida)

The explosive Clemson commit is a jack-of-all trades at Tampa Bay Tech, carrying the offensive load in a variety of roles. Cain, who lines up at quarterback in high school, erupted for the most impressive performance of his career on Friday night.

He gained 352 rushing yards on 26 attempts, throttling the Durant High School defense throughout a 42-25 win. Cain scored five touchdowns as a runner and added 67 passing yards, per Scott Purks of The Tampa Tribune.

“I had a feeling he was going to have a big night,” Tech coach Jayson Roberts told Purks. “I didn’t think they were going to be prepared for what we were going to do with him.”

The 6'1", 190-pound playmaker projects as a receiver in college but has done most of his damage as a runner this season. He now has more than 1,500 rushing yards to go with nearly 900 passing yards, per MaxPreps.

Cain, who also considered LSU, Auburn and Miami, is rated third nationally among receivers in 247Sports' composite rankings. He pledged to the Tigers in May.

 

5-star 2015 quarterback Kyler Murray, Allen High School (Allen, Texas)

The 5'10", 180-pound passer has probably appeared on this list more than any player this season. Murray, a two-time defending state champion, continues to collect more achievements on a brilliant high school track record. 

He kicked off the Eagles' latest postseason journey with a another dominant effort. Murray connected on 16 of 25 attempts for 404 yards and six scores in a 59-21 win over Keller Central High School, per Michael Florek of The Dallas Morning News.

The Texas A&M pledge improved to 37-0 as a starting varsity quarterback, setting the stage for a showdown with fellow Lone Star State powerhouse DeSoto High School. Murray, a dual-threat talent who creates matchup nightmares with his rushing abilities, looks to leave behind a legacy that includes three consecutive unbeaten title runs.

He surpassed 100 career touchdown tosses in the playoff opener, per Matt Welch of the Allen American.

Murray committed to the Aggies this spring, following in the footsteps of his father, former star Texas A&M quarterback Kevin Murray. He spent an official visit at Oklahoma in October, leaving the door open for a possible change of heart.

 

4-star 2015 quarterback Jake Browning, Folsom High School (Folsom, California)

The Washington commit won't be easily erased from high school football record books for years to come. Browning, the all-time career passing leader in California, is now etching his name on national leaderboards.

He tied a record with eight touchdown passes in the first half of a 70-14 victory over Stagg High School, per Kevin Askeland of MaxPreps. The mark is held by three other athletes. It had previously belonged to Chris Redman (1994) and Thomas Thrash (2001), but Browning and Kaylor Sullivan joined them in the record books after each throwing eight scores in one half this season.

Browning's aerial assault sent Folsom into the second round of state playoff action and gave him 60 touchdowns passes for a third straight season (an all-time first). He sits just 17 touchdowns shy of the national career record held by current Missouri quarterback Maty Mauk (219).

Browning pledged to the Huskies in March, spurning offers from Cal, Utah and Oklahoma State, among others.

 

Recruit ratings courtesy of 247Sports.

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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!

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

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

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

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.

 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

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.

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