NCAA Football News

Syracuse vs. Florida State: Game Grades, Analysis for the Seminoles

Despite a slow start in the first half, the Florida State Seminoles were able to, without Everett Golson and Dalvin Cook nonetheless, rout the Syracuse Orange 45-21, with the third Syracuse score coming on a late, meaningless punt return. 

Sean Maguire put himself into a serious conversation as to who should actually be the starting quarterback for the Seminoles in his 2015 debut start, while freshman running back Jacques Patrick impressively filled in for Cook. 

With that, let's check out the game grades for the Seminoles, who bounced back nicely from the heartbreaking Georgia Tech loss.

 

Rush Offense: A- 

Jacques Patrick racked up 162 yards and three touchdowns, while Johnathan Vickers added 64 on eight late carries. The Seminoles relied primarily on their aerial assault, but Patrick made a statement in his coming out party in Cook's absence. Once Cook, as well as Mario Pender, return from injury, expect those two plus Patrick to form a formidable three-headed monster in Tallahassee. 

 

Pass Offense: A 

Sean Maguire may very well have stolen the starting job from Everett Golson, as the Notre Dame transfer sat out with concussion issues. Maguire was 23-of-25 passing for 348 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions. He was great and probably better than Golson has been this season. Maguire became the first FSU quarterback to throw for 300 yards in a half since Chris Weinke and is the only ACC quarterback to do so all season. 

 

Rush Defense: B 

The Orange did rack up 173 rushing yards, but that's essentially because they had no luck at all in the pass game. Still, the Seminoles allowed 4.1 yards per carry and allowed both of Syracuse's offensive touchdowns on the ground. 

 

Pass Defense: A 

Eric Dungey never quite got going, as the FSU secondary forced him into 11-of-24 passing for just 120 yards with no scores or picks. Florida State's ability to limit the big play over the top has been a staple of Jimbo Fisher's program. 

 

Special Teams: C 

After having one of the biggest special teams blunders in program history last week, there were still some kinks this week. The Seminoles gave up a punt return touchdown and Roberto Aguayo missed a field goal. Perhaps the brightest star this week was punter Cason Beatty, who somewhat surprisingly was required to boot the ball six times. He averaged 46.5 yards per punt, had one go 64 yards and didn't have any catastrophes. 

 

Coaching: A 

Syracuse is by no means a juggernaut in the ACC. But FSU was shaken to its core last week, and rather than wilting, they responded with fury. That takes good leadership, which Fisher showed on Saturday. Should FSU be able to upset Clemson down the road, the Seminoles could still have a shot at making some noise for a College Football Playoff berth, and that will largely be thanks to Fisher's efforts. 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

South Carolina vs. Texas A&M: Game Grades, Analysis for Gamecocks and Aggies

Texas A&M ended its two-game losing streak in a gutsy fashion, overcoming a first-half deficit to take down the South Carolina Gamecocks at home 35-28. 

The two teams combined for nearly 1,000 yards of total offense, so don't expect very favorable grades defensively for either unit. Take a look below for grades and analysis of both teams.

 

Texas A&M Game Grades

Pass Offense: The starting debut of Kyler Murray provided more than Aggies fans could have asked for. He went 20-for-28 through the air for 223 yards and a score, showcasing his big arm to complement his running abilities. Most importantly, he didn't turn the ball over.

TexAgs.com noted what the team thought of Murray's play:

Run Offense: We saw firsthand just how dangerous the Aggies can be on the ground with Murray at the helm. He ran for more than 150 yards, adding to Texas A&M's 321 ground yards. Tra Carson also surpassed the century mark with 122 yards, one of three Aggies to score on the ground.

Pass Defense: The Aggies couldn't help but give up timely third-down conversions to South Carolina quarterback Perry Orth early on but stiffened up when it mattered most. They held the Gamecocks to under 200 yards passing and forced two interceptions that helped seal the deal.

Run Defense: Texas A&M's run defense problems cropped up again. Brandon Wilds rushed 17 times for 128 yards and a score to help the Gamecocks surpass 250 rushing yards, but Orth was held to negative yardage in the second half after more than 80 rushing yards in the first.

Special Teams: Punter Drew Kaser didn't have his best day, but the stats don't show it after a booming 71-yard punt. Kicker Taylor Bertolet shanked a 25-yard field goal on the game's opening drive, which forced the Aggies to be more aggressive on fourth-down situations from there on.

Coaching: The offensive coaches put Murray in a great spot to succeed and deserve a lot of credit for his great debut. The same can't be said on defense, but that had more to do with personnel issues than John Chavis' play-calling.

 

South Carolina Game Grades

Pass Offense: Perry Orth gave the Gamecocks a much-needed dimension through the air early on but couldn't make the plays when it mattered most. He had two late interceptions, one of which resulted in an Aggies touchdown and the other sealing the loss.

Run Offense: Wilds ran wild (I couldn't resist) on the ground with 128 yards to help the Gamecocks surpass 250 yards on the ground. His success established their offense in a big way early on. It eventually dried up as the Aggies put more bodies in the box.

Even amid the loss, head coach Shawn Elliott couldn't deny his team made some strides, per David Cloninger of The State:

Pass Defense: South Carolina's secondary improved throughout the game but started behind the eight-ball by allowing Murray to settle in through the air. They couldn't make big plays in the second half when it was needed.

Run Defense: The Gamecocks defense was gashed on the ground, giving up 321 rushing yards. A&M's quarterback surpassed the 150-yard plateau. Need I say more?

Special Teams: Punter Sean Kelly pinned the Aggies inside their 20 three times, but six punts was way too much against a team like Texas A&M. Otherwise, South Carolina's special teams unit had no impact on the game.

Coaching: Brilliant play-calling on offense allowed the Gamecocks to find their mojo early on, but the defense couldn't find an answer for Murray. That has to go down to the coaches, who failed to dial up any real pressure for Murray all game long.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Faton Bauta Announced as Georgia's Starting QB vs. Florida

Georgia rolls into Week 9 with a new look. Before the Bulldogs' game against No. 11 Florida on Saturday afternoon, junior quarterback Faton Bauta was announced as the starter on the scoreboard at EverBank Field, according to the Athens Banner-Herald's Marc Weiszer:

In a game that will decide the top spot in the SEC East, Georgia looks like it is through with the inconsistencies of normal starter Greyson Lambert for now. Lambert has had five games in which he's thrown for under 200 yards and three games without a touchdown. 

Bauta last attempted a pass in a Georgia uniform last season, going 4-of-5 for 48 yards in three games. This season, he has seen action only as the holder for extra points, according to ESPN.com

If he can manage to orchestrate a win and nab first place in the SEC East, then Georgia fans should expect to see plenty more of him throughout the remainder of the season. 

 

Stats courtesy of ESPN.com

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Keenan Reynolds Ties Montee Ball's NCAA Record for Most Rushing Touchdowns

Navy senior quarterback Keenan Reynolds has moved into the history books after scoring his 77th career rushing touchdown Saturday against South Florida. 

According to ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg, Reynolds tied the FBS mark set by former Wisconsin running back Montee Ball in 2012. 

Per the American Athletic Conference's official Twitter, this is what Reynolds' record-tying score looked like:

As impressive as Reynolds' mark is, the touchdown came at a critical moment on a 4th-and-goal with Navy up by five points and less than two minutes to play. It sealed the victory for Navy, moving the Midshipmen's record to 6-1 and making them bowl eligible for the fourth consecutive season. 

Under head coach Ken Niumatalolo, Navy has become one of the nation's premier rushing programs. Reynolds is a vital part of that success, running for over 1,100 yards and 54 rushing touchdowns the past two seasons. He finished Saturday's game with 116 rushing yards and two touchdowns. 

Reynolds isn't asked to do much in the passing game, finishing with 16 yards in the air against South Florida, so being able to create plays with his legs is essential to the team's success.

Now, the fourth-year star is able to take a moment in the spotlight and can celebrate breaking Ball's record as soon as next week in a huge AAC showdown against 16th-ranked Memphis.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Florida State Marching Band Takes the Field on Halloween as Zombies

With the Florida State Seminoles hosting the Syracuse Orange on Halloween, it only made sense for the Florida State marching band to get in the spirit...and dress up as zombies.

It's just what you do on Halloween, right?

The band's halftime show featured Michael Jackson's "Thriller":

[Twitter, YouTube; h/t SB Nation]

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Ole Miss DT Robert Nkemdiche Shows off Strength, Overpowers Auburn OL into QB

Ole Miss defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche didn't record a sack on this play, but he certainly deserves credit for one.

On a 3rd-and-12 in the third quarter of Saturday's game against Auburn, Nkemdiche went up against left guard Alex Kozan. It was no contest.

The 6'4", 296-pound Nkemdiche powered his way through the line of scrimmage, pushing the 6'4", 300-pound Kozan all the way back to the quarterback. It was Joey Bosa-esque.

Auburn's pass fell incomplete, leading to a punt. Hopefully, the Tigers learn from this and double-team Nkemdiche the rest of the game.

[Vine]

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Stanford vs. Washington State: Live Score and Highlights

The Stanford Cardinal and the Washington State Cougars are getting ready to square off at Martin Stadium on Saturday night. The game will kick off at 10:30 p.m. ET and will air on ESPN.

The Cardinal come into the game on a six-game winning streak and are led by running back Christian McCaffrey, who has 953 rushing yards, 284 receiving yards and eight total touchdowns. Quarterback Kevin Hogan is also having a strong season, with a passing efficiency rating of 200, the highest in the Pac-12.

Washington State has won its last three games, including a 45-42 victory over Arizona last week. The Cougars are led by quarterback Luke Falk, who has thrown for 2,885 yards, 24 touchdowns and four interceptions this season.

Be sure to come back to this blog when the game kicks off for the latest scoring updates and highlights.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

BYU Cougars Players Win Halloween by Recreating 'Remember the Titans' Crew

These BYU Cougars football players won Halloween 2015, and it's not even up for debate.

For their Halloween costumes, the Cougars players dressed up as the Remember The Titans crew. Among the players involved: offensive lineman Jaterrius Gulley (who dressed up as Blue Stanton), wideout Devon Blackmon (Julius Campbell), receiver Nick Kurtz (Alan Bosley), defensive back Micah Simon (Jerry "Rev" Harris), offensive lineman Ryker Mathews (Louie Lastik) and wideout Mitch Mathews (Ronnie "Sunshine" Bass).

One word to describe the look: perfect.

This isn't the first time BYU players have gone as characters from a beloved movie for Halloween. Last year, Cougars players channeled their inner Sandlot:

Can't wait to see what the Cougars have in store for next year.

[Mitch Mathews, Twitter]

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Clemson vs. NC State: Live Score and Highlights

North Carolina State 20, Clemson 19, Late 2nd Quarter 

The third-ranked Clemson Tigers will attempt to quiet any upset hopes the North Carolina State Wolfpack have, as the two teams square off at 3:30 p.m. ET on ABC/ESPN. The Tigers will look to improve to 8-0 and set up a showdown with Florida State next Saturday, but NC State is not to be overlooked.

The Wolfpack upset the then-seventh-ranked Tigers 37-13 in 2011 by forcing four turnovers, and this game was fairly close (26-14) the last time these two teams met in Carter-Finley Stadium.

The Clemson offense, led by quarterback Deshaun Watson, was clicking early and often a week ago in a 58-0 rout of Miami, but it faces a NC State defense that is tied for 11th in the nation in scoring defense.

Keep it locked right here for live updates and analysis before and throughout today's game.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

USC vs. Cal: Live Score and Highlights

USC 17, Cal 7. Currently in the Third Quarter.

The USC Trojans are in Berkeley to take on the California Golden Bears, with both teams looking for a big win. 

Stay here for live reactions and updates on this Golden State showdown. Feel free to join the discussion in the comments section.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Seminoles WR Travis Rudolph Catches Deep Ball, Makes Defense Miss for 75-Yard TD

Just moments after the Syracuse Orange took a 7-0 lead on Saturday, Florida State Seminoles receiver Travis Rudolph got his team even with a great catch-and-run.

On the first play from scrimmage after the Orange score, Florida State quarterback Sean Maguire took a shot downfield to Rudolph, who had managed to get behind the defense. Not only did the sophomore wideout make the catch, but he also terrorized the Syracuse defense all the way to the end zone.

The 75-yard touchdown tied the game at 7-7 midway through the first quarter.

[Twitter]

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

JT Barrett Arrest Gives Cardale Jones Last Shot as Ohio State's Starting QB

COLUMBUS — Following Ohio State's 49-7 win over Rutgers last weekend, Urban Meyer admitted he was finally feeling at ease when it came to his quarterback situation, thanks to J.T. Barrett's 324-yard, five-touchdown shredding of the Scarlet Knights.

"It really does," Meyer answered in his postgame press conference when asked if the performance gave him a better sense of comfort with what had been a season-long quarterback competition between Barrett and Cardale Jones. "I don't want to admit that, but it does."

As it turns out, Meyer's peace of mind would last less than a week.

Because while Barrett seemed to have established himself as the Buckeyes' undisputed starting quarterback for the stretch run of their national championship defense, it will be Jones in the starting lineup when Ohio State returns to action Nov. 7 following this weekend's bye. Barrett, meanwhile, will be suspended for the Buckeyes' matchup with Minnesota, after a Friday night citation for operating a vehicle while impaired resulted in a one-game suspension for the redshirt sophomore signal-caller, per an Ohio State release.

With that, another chapter in the book of the Buckeyes' nearly year-long quarterback conundrum begins, as Jones prepares for the 11th—and perhaps most unlikely—start of his college career.

It may be an uphill climb, but at the very least, Barrett's suspension has cracked the door open for Jones to regain his status as Ohio State's full-time starting quarterback. In seven starts this season, the redshirt junior failed to solidify himself as just that, initially yielding red-zone opportunities to Barrett before finding himself on the bench for last weekend's trip to Piscataway, New Jersey.

After winning three postseason games at the end of last year before bypassing on entering the NFL draft, Jones' benching appeared to leave his future—both immediate and long-term—in doubt.

But with at least one more start ahead, Jones could very well rectify what's otherwise been a forgettable encore to last winter's national championship run. Because while Barrett may have established himself as the best fit in Meyer's spread offense, it would be tough to justify turning back to the currently suspended signal-caller should Jones put together a big performance against the Golden Gophers, given the circumstances that resulted in his return to the starting lineup.

This is especially true considering that while on a media tour earlier this week to promote his new leadership book, Above The Line, Meyer appeared to take a strong stance on discipline in an appearance on Fox News. Asked on The O'Reilly Factor about former Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston's theft of crab legs, the fourth-year Buckeyes head coach indicated he wouldn't have been willing to put up with Winston's behavior.

"It would have been hard to let that go," Meyer said.

Meyer's comment drew criticism from some in the media, given his well-documented history with player discipline at Florida. But it also could have been written off as a meaningless answer with little thought behind it in the midst of a long day of press for the three-time national champion coach.

After Barrett's citation, however, all eyes now turn toward Meyer and his handling of his once-again star player's subsequent punishment. Questions have already arose as to whether Barrett missing just one game for the Buckeyes is the result of a technicality with this weekend's bye or Ohio State doling out a more lenient than usual suspension.

But regardless of when Barrett finds himself eligible to return to the field—Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith insisted to ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg that the school's policy will allow him to do so having missed just one game—Jones now finds himself in a position to make it a moot point. While he may not be as spectacular as he was last winter, Jones has been steady through the first eight weeks of the 2015 season, throwing for 1,266 yards, seven touchdowns and five interceptions while completing 63.2 percent of his passes.

Perhaps most importantly, despite his in-season benching in favor of Barrett a week ago, Jones remains undefeated as the Buckeyes' starting quarterback.

"His mentality is great. He's very positive, he's working. He's still a rookie too," Meyer said of Jones following last weekend's win over the Scarlet Knights. "He's 10-0 as a starter. I just want to see those guys continue to get better and better and better, and they are."

Jones would likely have to outperform expectations and return to his postseason form in order for Meyer to once again make him Ohio State's full-time starter upon Barrett's return. With season-defining games against Michigan State and Michigan still ahead in the coming weeks, Jones will need to prove that he gives the Buckeyes a better chance to beat the Big Ten's best teams, which may seem unlikely given how well Barrett had been playing heading into the bye week.

But with Barrett out of the lineup for at least one week, that opening is now there. And with the public pressure mounting against Meyer when it comes to player discipline, it's now up to Jones to seize the unexpected opportunity.

 

Ben Axelrod is Bleacher Report's Big Ten lead writer. You can follow him on Twitter @BenAxelrod.

Unless noted otherwise, all quotes were obtained firsthand. All statistics courtesy of CFBStats.com. Odds provided by Odds Shark. Recruiting rankings courtesy of 247Sports.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Best Signs from ESPN's 'College GameDay' from Week 9 in Philadelphia

ESPN's College GameDay is in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, this week for a Top 25 showdown between No. 9 Notre Dame and No. 21 Temple.

Owls fans were ready for their moment in the spotlight. 

Oh, so was one Fighting Irish fan:

Here's the best of the rest:

[Twitter]

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

South Carolina vs. Texas A&M: Live Score and Highlights

South Carolina 21, Texas A&M 14 — Late 2nd Quarter

The South Carolina Gamecocks travel to Kyle Field for the first time ever to play a Texas A&M squad intent on turning around what's suddenly become a letdown season.

Follow along for live updates.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Syracuse vs. Florida State: Live Score and Highlights

Florida State - 21

Syracuse - 7 

11:00 2nd Quarter

TV: ABC

Reeling from perhaps the most shocking ending in program history last week against Georgia Tech, the Florida State Seminoles will try to pick up the pieces of what is now their first regular-season game in three seasons coming off a loss. 

To add injury to Georgia Tech's insult, the team announced that Everett Golson is out with concussion symptoms, so the torch will be passed to Sean Maguire. 

Can Syracuse add to FSU's misery, or will the Seminoles rebound? Stay plugged in to find out. 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Ole Miss vs. Auburn: Live Score and Highlights

Ole Miss 10, Auburn 10—Late 2nd Quarter

The 19th-ranked Ole Miss Rebels need a win over the Auburn Tigers to stay alive in the SEC West.

ESPN is broadcasting the conference clash. Bleacher Report is providing scoring updates, highlights and analysis. Feel free to join the conversation in the comments section.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Everett Golson Injury: Updates on FSU Star's Concussion and Return

Florida State quarterback Everett Golson is unexpectedly on the shelf, as the senior signal-caller is dealing with a concussion.

Continue for updates.

Golson Out Saturday vs. Syracuse Due to Concussion Saturday, Oct. 31

According to Florida State football's official Twitter account, Sean Maguire will start over Golson on Saturday against Syracuse, because Golson is suffering from a concussion.

It is unclear when Golson picked up the injury, but he was not listed on FSU's injury report, per Bud Elliott of Tomahawk Nation.

Seminoles head coach Jimbo Fisher did, however, say that Golson got "banged up" in last week's loss to Georgia Tech, according to ESPN.com's Jared Shanker.

Golson is in his first and only year at Florida State after transferring from Notre Dame. Mired in academic problems for a good deal of his career in South Bend, he left the Irish after losing his starting job to Malik Zaire toward the end of 2014. Golson threw for 3,445 yards 29 touchdowns against 14 interceptions but struggled in high-profile games and did not bring quite the same level of dynamism.

He competed with Maguire during offseason practices to replace Jameis Winston, who went No. 1 overall in the 2015 draft after a highly successful (and controversial) career under center. Golson was eventually named starter after winning the position battle in camp and has largely been solid in that role. Golson enters Saturday having thrown for 1,659 yards and 11 touchdowns with just one interception in 2015.

“Himself,” Fisher said of who deserves credit for Golson's improvement, per Bob Ferrante of the Palm Beach Post. “At the end of the day, it’s about the players knowing it. Who cares who gets the credit? It’s about the kid. It’s not about us. It’s about the player and him becoming what he can become. I don’t think that’s very important.”

With Golson now out, Maguire will get his time to shine, and he'll certainly have to, as Florida State will also be without star running back Dalvin Cook on Saturday, according to Shanker. The junior quarterback has some starting experience, as he won his only start last year against Clemson.

The Seminoles have enough talent to defeat a Syracuse team that has dealt with injury issues in its own right at the quarterback position, but with a huge ACC clash against Clemson looming next week, the Seminoles need to be close to full health in order to have a chance.

 

Follow Tyler Conway (@tylerconway22) on Twitter

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

JT Barrett Arrested for OVI: Latest Details and Comments on Ohio State QB

Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett was reportedly arrested early Saturday morning near the school's Columbus campus for operating a motor vehicle while impaired.

Eric Seger of Eleven Warriors first reported the news. Brett McMurphy of ESPN confirmed the arrest. The school released a statement regarding the arrest and announced Barrett would be suspended for the team's next game, against Minnesota on Nov. 7, via Mark Schlabach of ESPN:

The incident comes one week after Barrett made his first start of the season, against Rutgers. He shined in the contest, completing 14 of 18 passes for 223 yards and three touchdowns in a 49-7 victory. He also gained 101 yards and scored twice on the ground after taking over for Cardale Jones, who had started the first seven games for the Buckeyes.

Barrett's strong showing last weekend made it likely he'd keep his name atop the depth chart for the Minnesota game, but the incident pushes the team's quarterback situation back into turmoil.

No further information about the arrest was immediately available.

If the reports are accurate, this incident marks an example of poor decision-making by a player who was finally getting another chance to prove himself as a starter for the reigning national champions.

 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Florida vs. Georgia: Live Score and Highlights

The Georgia Bulldogs and the Florida Gators are getting ready to do battle this afternoon at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Fla. The game will kick off at 3:30 p.m. ET and it will be televised on CBS.

The Gators are looking to bounce back after a 35-28 loss to LSU two weeks ago. Without quarterback Will Grier, who is suspended for the rest of the season, Treon Harris will lead the Gators who had a strong outing last week, throwing for 217 yards and two touchdowns. Harris will look to have the same performance against the Bulldogs, a team that he beat last year.

And by the looks of things, the Bulldogs have made a change at quarterback as well. According to ESPN.com, Faton Bauta will get his first career start this afternoon. Bauta has played in a total of six games the last two seasons and has yet to see any action this year.

Be sure to come back to this blog when the game kicks off for the latest scoring updates and highlights.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Bowl Predictions 2015: Playoff Projections Heading into Week 9

After nearly two months of games and teams making their cases to be included among the nation's elite, answers will be provided after Week 9 when the College Football Playoff selection committee releases its first ranking of the season on Nov. 3. 

This has been an unusual season already, as there were seven undefeated teams in the Associated Press Top 10 entering play this week, and that doesn't even include Oklahoma State at No. 12. The three one-loss teams that round out the list are titans in Alabama, Stanford and Notre Dame.

Basically, this is the best possible scenario for drama in college football with at least 12 teams still in the playoff mix. Usually these things end up working themselves out in the final month, so let's look at the projected playoff bracket as of this Saturday. 

 

Projection Analysis

Ohio State started the season looking like a shaky No. 1, especially relative to preseason expectations when the Buckeyes were a unanimous choice for the top team by the Associated Press

Head coach Urban Meyer finally made a quarterback change, going to last year's starter J.T. Barrett against Rutgers last week. The Buckeyes won 49-7, and Barrett had five total touchdowns and 324 total yards. 

In 90 fewer pass attempts than Cardale Jones, Barrett has the same number of touchdown passes (seven) to just two interceptions. 

Meyer understands that his team is not perfect, telling Fox Sports (via Stewart Mandel of FoxSports.com) that he's been part of groups that were supposed to dominate all of their opponents before. 

“I’ve been down this road before where the expectation level is over the top,” Meyer said. “All I care about is getting better each week. We haven’t played perfectly, but not a lot of people out there have.”

With Barrett under center, running back Ezekiel Elliott still one of the most dynamic playmakers in the nation and a defense that's allowed just 17 points in its last two games, the Buckeyes look like the team they were expected to be when 2015 started. 

Ohio State's two biggest tests of the season are still on the horizon, as the Buckeyes host Michigan State on Nov. 21 and travel to Michigan on Nov. 28. A late-season loss would throw everything for a loop, but with just one conference loss since 2012, it will require a perfect game from the Spartans or Wolverines to pull off the upset. 

Looking at the No. 2 spot, it's a battle between Clemson and LSU. The SEC squad gets the advantage—not because of the conference, but due to the possibility of having wins over two top-10 teams by season's end in Florida and Alabama—but it's very close. 

Clemson's win over Notre Dame is the best win for either team at this point in the season. That game also looks like the Tigers' biggest test of the season, as Florida State is the only ranked team still on the schedule. 

According to ESPN.com's Sharon Katz, ESPN's Football Power Index actually has Clemson tied with Ohio State among teams most likely to end this season undefeated:

...Ohio State has the slightest edge, less than half a percentage point, over Clemson when it comes to their respective chances to win out. With games against Michigan State and Michigan, the Buckeyes have a tougher remaining schedule than Clemson, but they also have one fewer game, and one fewer chance to lose, than the Tigers. Even when a team has a 90 percent chance to win, it is still expected to lose one out of every 10 times, so the extra game makes a difference.

It's really splitting hairs between Clemson and LSU if both teams end up undefeated. LSU has to face Alabama in Tuscaloosa on Nov. 7, will go to Mississippi on Nov. 21 and possibly the SEC Championship Game, which would currently be a rematch with Florida. 

Given that schedule for LSU, along with the lack of high-end competition for Clemson even in a potential ACC Championship Game, Les Miles' team gets the No. 2 seed. 

The race for the final spot is going to be insane, but Stanford takes the crown at this moment by virtue of having a schedule that's more favorable than most of the other teams ahead of it. 

*Indicates team could play a conference championship game

With those schedules, having already established that I believe Michigan State and Alabama will lose their single games against top-five opponents, Stanford's slate sets up very well to make a run at the final playoff spot. 

Granted, the Cardinal's opening loss at Northwestern looks worse now after the Wildcats lost back-to-back games against Michigan and Iowa by a combined score of 78-10 and survived against Nebraska, but don't forget the selection committee rewarded Ohio State for a strong finish last year despite an early loss against Virginia Tech. 

Plus, with Notre Dame currently in the top 10 and making a playoff push, Stanford ending the regular season with a win over the Fighting Irish will go a long way toward making its national championship argument. 

Baylor and TCU are certainly in the mix, but those two teams have yet to play a ranked opponent. TCU has won three road games against Minnesota, Texas Tech and Kansas State by a combined 16 points, and the Horned Frogs still have to play at Oklahoma State and Oklahoma. 

Baylor is playing three elimination games in a 13-day span, including two on the road, against Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and TCU. 

The Big 12 looks much better this season than it did in 2014, but that depth is likely to cost the conference a spot in the College Football Playoff once again because it will be difficult for Baylor and/or TCU to enter their Nov. 27 matchup undefeated. 

As a result, Stanford will continue to slide up the rankings before putting itself in a position to make the playoff. 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Pages