NCAA Football News

Daily Fantasy College Football Week 4: DraftKings Last-Minute Picks and Advice

Time is running out to set your DraftKings lineup in Week 4 of the college football season, but look no further for last-minute picks.

Although the early slate of games is riddled with potential daily fantasy standouts, the key is selecting the right breakout candidates to fill a roster and propel your team up the leaderboard.

Early-season production, trends, matchups and a little bit of Vegas were the primary influences in the compilation of this list.


Quarterback: Kendall Hinton, Wake Forest ($6,000)

John Wolford opened the season as the starter, but an ankle injury thrust Kendall Hinton into action last week.

Despite throwing two interceptions, the true freshman responded well. He tallied 159 passing yards, adding 101 yards and two touchdowns on the ground throughout three quarters of action. ACC Football News noted the significance of his performance:

According to Dan Collins of the Winston-Salem Journal, Wolford is doubtful for Saturday. So, Hinton will step in for the Demon Deacons once again.

Plus, Indiana's defense doesn't pose a major threat. The Hoosiers already surrendered a 100-yard outing to the only dual-threat quarterback they've faced—Mark Iannotti of Southern Illinois.

In a week where having a top-tier quarterback complemented by a thrifty option is ideal, Hinton represents the latter with a healthy ceiling.


Running Back: Wendell Smallwood, West Virginia ($4,900)

West Virginia boasts a collection of weapons, but Wendell Smallwood should be the go-to option in a young offense.

Though Smallwood shares time with Rushel Shell ($4,500), the former holds an important difference over the latter: catches. DraftKings offers a full point per reception, and Smallwood snagged four passes in each of the Mountaineers' first two outings.

In addition to the junior running back's 7.1 yards-per-carry average, Maryland is the nation's No. 77 rush defense. Also, West Virginia is favored by more than two touchdowns, per Odds Shark, so Smallwood should receive a handful of late carries, too.

It's safe to project Smallwood will have more touches than necessary to reach value, and his upside is undoubtedly appealing.


Running Back: Markell Jones, Purdue ($4,400)

Markell Jones is perhaps the furthest thing from a contrarian option, but his $4,400 price is difficult to ignore considering the matchup.

Similar to Smallwood, Jones also splits touches in the backfield. However, Purdue lacks playmakers outside of the backfield. Top receiver Danny Anthrop ($3,800) is dealing with a nagging knee injury, and DeAngelo Yancey ($4,400) can't handle the entire offensive load.

Consequently, the Boilermakers will turn to Jones and D.J. Knox ($5,100) in what figures to be a high-scoring affair. Odds Shark lists the over/under at 75—the second-highest of the weekend.

Jones has scored a rushing touchdown in three consecutive games and added a receiving score two weeks ago. Considering the amount of points expected, Jones should easily reach and likely surpass value.


Wide Receiver: Reginald Davis, Texas Tech ($4,900)

If you want points, you've come to the right place. The over/under has gradually risen throughout the week and, as of this writing, sits at 83.5.

Texas Tech is fresh off a 35-24 upset victory of Arkansas, and TCU is fresh out of defenders. The No. 4 team in the nation has lost a stunning amount of starters on that side of the ball, according to Carlos A. Mendez of the Forth Worth Star-Telegram:

Additionally, Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes ($8,900) seems to be overflowing with confidence, and an outing against a depleted defense must have him and the Red Raiders ready to attack. Jakeem Grant ($7,400) is the star of the receivers, but Reginald Davis is looking to build on a 115-yard, two-touchdown day.

The afternoon matchup will be a fast-paced, high-scoring thriller, and Davis should be a beneficiary of Mahomes' pass-happy day.


Wide Receiver: Dennis Parks, Rice ($4,800)

After missing the first game of 2015, wide receiver Dennis Parks has exploded as a focal point in a promising Rice offense.

The senior reeled in eight catches for 77 yards against Texas and racked up eight receptions, 163 yards and two touchdowns opposite North Texas. Conversely, the Owls' No. 2 pass-catcher during the last two games has grabbed a combined four passes for 63 yards.

Most importantly for Parks, though, Baylor doesn't play much defense—further evidenced by the 74.5 over/under line. The Bears ceded 82 yards and a pair of scores to SMU's Courtland Sutton, followed by nine catches and 93 yards to Lamar's Reggie Begelton.

Parks isn't a flashy play, but he's poised to be a productive one.

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

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

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College Football Rankings 2015: Updated NCAA Week 4 Standings, Final Poll Review

After Alabama's loss to Ole Miss last week, well, no team is safe as we head into Week 4 of the college football season. With a slew of big matchups on tap—especially out West—and some of the top teams in the rankings playing poorly to this point of the season, anything could happen this week.

Let's take a final look at the rankings and break down some of the biggest matchups to come.





It's all about the Pac-12 this week, as No. 9 UCLA faces No. 16 Arizona and No. 13 Oregon takes on No. 19 Utah in the premier matchups on tap. With both games set for Saturday evening, get ready for a night in by the television and some serious flipping between the games. 

The implications for the competitive Pac-12 South, in particular, are huge. The winner of the UCLA-Arizona contest will have a huge leg up on the division if Utah also happens to lose. Another loss for Oregon, meanwhile, would almost assuredly drop the Ducks out of the playoff picture. 

The Ducks are deserving favorites at home given the talent they have throughout the roster, but Utah star running back Devontae Booker (345 rushing yards, four touchdowns) is going to give the Ducks headaches. 

The stout Utah defense might give the Ducks problems, too, as Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich noted, via Pete Martini of the Statesman Journal

Their front four is really good. They're dynamic guys. They come off the ball extremely hard and run to the ball. It's a system that they have in place that they believe in a lot. And they're not afraid to press anybody. They're not afraid to get in people's faces and challenge you that way.

Betting against an Oregon team with so much to lose—at home—probably isn't wise, however. Utah is a very good football team, but Oregon's offense remains incredibly dynamic, and it'll find a way to pull out a close victory. 

For Arizona, dominating on the ground will be key. Nick Wilson (443 rushing yards, five touchdowns) paces the fourth-ranked Wildcats run offense, and this week, they'll be facing a Bruins team without star linebacker Myles Jack. 

He's one of three starters missing in action for UCLA on defense this week—defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes and cornerback Fabian Moreau are also done for the year—a major blow for the Bruins against Arizona's explosive offense. 

UCLA's front seven is still very talented, but it hasn't faced a balanced, dangerous offense like Arizona's to this point. And Arizona will be particularly motivated considering Rich Rodriguez and the Wildcats are 0-3 against Jim Mora's Bruins in their last three meetings, as Rodriguez told Ted Miller of

I don't think you have to tell them how big a game it is. They know. They feel the buzz. They read. They watch TV. They can feel it. There won't be any problem getting their focus this week.

Arizona is at home, it's hungry to get over the hump against UCLA, and it'll be facing a Bruins defense ravaged by injuries. It's hard to pick against the Wildcats in this one. 

Speaking of injuries, TCU's defense has been ravaged as well, which puts it on upset alert against a dangerous Texas Tech offense. TCU has a talented enough offense to win in a shootout against Texas Tech, and it'll need to do just that; the depleted defense is unlikely to slow down Kliff Kingsbury's explosive offense. 

Expect a shootout, and don't be shocked if TCU suffers its first loss of the season.


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Southern vs. Georgia: Live Score and Highlights

The Georgia Bulldogs will play in their fourth regular-season of the year as they face the Southern Jaguars for the first time in the program’s history. The game will air on the SEC Network at noon ET.

The Bulldogs are coming off a big win over South Carolina where they scored 52 points, the most they have ever scored against head coach Steve Spurrier. Greyson Lambert went 24-of-25 for 330 yards and three touchdowns last week. His completion percentage (96) is a new NCAA record, and he also completed 20 consecutive passes, which is a program record.

Southern comes into the game with a 2-1 record and is coming off a 50-31 win over Jackson State. The Jaguars were led by quarterback Austin Howard, who threw for 395 yards and one touchdown in the win last Saturday.

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

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Sam Ukwuachu, Former Baylor DE, Seeking New Trial in Sexual Assault Case

Just over one month after being convicted of sexual assault, former Baylor defensive lineman Sam Ukwuachu is seeking a new trial in the case. 

According to Tommy Witherspoon of the Waco Tribune, Ukwuachu's attorney, William Bratton III, filed a motion on behalf of his client, citing "several points of error" from the original trial: 

Bratton alleges in the motion that state prosecutors "repeatedly intimidated" Ukwuachu’s roommate, Ratu Peni Tagive, in an attempt to preclude his testimony.

"The state abused the grand jury process in its attempt to intimidate the witness, Ratu Peni Tagive, by using a grand jury subpoena to compel the attendance and testimony of Mr. Tagive approximately a month before trial and a year after the return of the indictment against the defendant," the motion claims.

In addition to those allegations, the motion claims prosecutors admonished Baylor Associate Dean Bethany McCraw after her testimony in which she said the evidence in the case against Ukwuachu was "insufficient to 'move forward.'"

On August 22, per, Ukwuachu was sentenced to 180 days in jail, 10 years of felony probation and 400 hours of community service after he was found guilty on one count of sexual assault stemming from a 2013 incident. 

Baylor has hired outside attorneys to conduct an independent review of the school's internal investigation into the allegations against Ukwuachu, who transferred to the school after being dismissed from Boise State's football team in 2013, made by a female soccer player at the school.

Witherspoon noted that review of the investigation is still ongoing, and no date to hear Bratton's motion for a new trial has been set. 

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Isaiah Chambers Chooses TCU: 4-Star DE Honors Late Mother with Commitment

Friday's announcement by Houston 4-star defensive end Isaiah Chambers was more than just a decision for the future. It was all about fulfilling a promise.

Chambers announced at Aldine MacArthur High School Friday afternoon that he has verbally committed to play college football for TCU. His pledge gives the Horned Frogs their 16th overall commit for the 2016 class, and he is now the highest-ranked commit in the class.

And while that is flattering, Friday's commitment meant a little more than just another big-time player headed to Fort Worth, Texas.

Chambers lost his mother, Yvennette "Vet" Roberson, when he was in the eighth grade. She died of a heart condition and was only 43.

"She passed watching me in practice," Chambers said. "That was the last thing I saw her doing when she was alive—watching me work hard.

"I knew I had to keep going. For her."

Roberson's passing has been more than enough motivation for Chambers, a 6'4", 260-pound bookend who blends speed, strength and athleticism. He chose TCU over offers from Baylor, Texas, Texas A&M and Washington.

With the combination of head coach Gary Patterson, defensive line coach Dan Sharp, co-defensive coordinators DeMontie Cross and Chad Glasgow and director of high school relations Zarnell Fitch, TCU managed to land the nation's No. 6 strong-side defensive end. Chambers is a national top-100 player who is expected to be a major part of the Horned Frogs' defensive scheme sooner than later.

"Getting the chance to play there early, that was a big plus for me," Chambers said. "Of course, you don't want to sit on the bench. But I know I've got to work it. Nothing is going to be handed to me."

Chambers said he is a fan of how TCU's defense swarms to the football. Last year's Peach Bowl showing against Ole Miss gave the Horned Frogs national credibility and silenced a lot of critics. He quickly became a fan of linebacker Paul Dawson, calling him "a natural football player"—someone who didn't have the noted speed to play the position but always had big statistics at the end of a game.

Chambers believes he can add to what the defense has to offer.

"They don't allow a lot of points," he said of the defense. "It's one of the top defenses in the country. I think what they do fits right in with me."

Chambers added that while the decision was tough, the idea of playing for a coach like Patterson was tough to pass up. Patterson, in addition to being a defensive-minded coach, is someone who has been able to sympathize with Chambers' situation. The Horned Frogs in February signed defensive tackle Joe Broadnax, who lost his mother, grandmother and uncle in a 13-month span.

"Coach P is a cool coach. He puts a lot of players in the league," Chambers said. "He knows my goal is to get to the NFL and provide for my family. With my mom passing, I live with my aunt and [her family]. He wants me to one day take care of them."

Chambers will join a handful of 4-star players in TCU's 2016 class—the majority of whom reside in the greater Houston area. TCU will call on him to be a leader of the class on the defensive side of the ball.

It's what his mother would want.

"I'm trying to be successful," he said. "I want to be successful for her."


Damon Sayles is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. All quotes were obtained firsthand. All player ratings are courtesy of 247Sports' composite ratings. Follow Damon via Twitter: @DamonSayles

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College Football Picks Week 4: Sneaky Good Games to Watch

Just a few short weeks ago, college football fans were desperate for a fix of their favorite sport. Now, their TVs, phones and tablets are buzzing with all-day Saturday gridiron action. Week 4, however, lacks the typical offerings of traditionally marquee matchups, which makes way for some of the game's more overlooked contests.

Not sure where to turn you attention? We have done the work for you!

Before you get caught missing out on the weekend's most surprising stunner, check out the following four games and prepare to be entertained.


BYU (2-1) at Michigan (2-1)

This contest is a lock for podium placement in the dramatics department.

The Cougars, master thespians so far in 2015, have brought fans along a roller-coaster ride that began with a Hail Mary win against Nebraska. They followed with a late victory against Boise State, only to arrive at a one-point loss at the hands of UCLA.

The Wolverines, inspired by the arrival of head coach Jim Harbaugh, have improved from their demoralizing season debut, winning their last two.

In order for Michigan to secure this victory at home, it will have to rely on its rushing attack, which is averaging 185 yards per game. 

BYU quarterback Tanner Mangum will want to keep things moving through the air, where he's successfully led the team to 310 yards per game on average, but the Wolverines, who have so far limited opponents to only 144 yards per game in that category, should be stout.

They'll limit BYU's offensive damage and come away with a W.

Final Score: Michigan 24, BYU 20


Tennessee (2-1) at Florida (3-0)

While neither the Vols nor the Gators are playing their best ball, their rivalry always makes for some quality football.

Florida has been a team ripe with juxtapositions—a floundering offense paired with a top-shelf defense.

A week removed from narrowly escaping Kentucky in a low-scoring affair, the Gators' woes will only continue now that quarterback Treon Harris and cornerback Jalen Tabor have been suspended due to drug tests—one which Harris failed, the other which Tabor refused to take, according to Brett McMurphy of ESPN (h/t

Fortunately for the Gators, their defense, particularly against the rush (in which they are a top-10 team), has been exceptionally robust.

The Vols, by contrast, have been fairly solid across the board. Their only loss so far came against No. 19 Oklahoma in a 31-24 contest. 

When it comes to rivalries, the most unlikely outcome usually manifests itself in reality. Despite missing important pieces, the home team will rally to victory off the back of a defensive score. 

Final Score: Florida 20, Tennessee 17


LSU (2-0) at Syracuse (3-0)

The Orange are off to one of their best starts in years, and while their critics may be quick to point out that their undefeated record is the product of playing some fairly average teams, a win adds more than just a number in the left-hand column—it brings confidence.

The No. 8-ranked LSU's man of the hour Leonard Fournette knows a thing about that as well. Just a week removed from an Internet-shattering performance (a 228-yard, three-touchdown epic), the running back will enter into this contest riding a tremendous wave of momentum

While he'll likely be the difference-maker on Saturday afternoon, Syracuse's rushing defense, third-best in the NCAA thus far, has only allowed 46.7 rushing yards per game. His biggest impact may be providing Tigers quarterback Brandon Harris plenty of passing opportunities.

Try as it might, Syracuse will be unable to slow down the Fournette freight train, and LSU will snap the Orange's undefeated record.

Final Score: LSU 38, Syracuse 15


TCU (3-0) at Texas Tech (3-0)

Fans may be hesitant to call this one an under-the-radar game, and for good reason.

At a cursory glance, the No. 3 Horned Frogs facing the unranked Red Raiders looks to be a mismatch, but this matchup has high-octane shootout written all over it.

TCU dropped a whopping 82 points on Tech a season ago, and while that's unlikely to happen, the two will likely combine for a total well within that neighborhood.

Quarterbacks Trevone Boykin (65-of-99, 985 yards, 10 TD, 3 INT) and Patrick Mahomes (77-of-116, 1,029 yards, 9 TD, 3 INT) are already off to blazing starts. Those impressive yardage totals will only inflate after Saturday when these two signal-callers face little defensive opposition.

Texas Tech falls in the bottom 20 in yards per game allowed, surrendering an average of 492. Meanwhile, the Horned Frogs' already decimated starting defense will be without yet another player—defensive end Mike Tuaua, who was arrested Monday, according to's Jake Trotter.

The dynamic aerial assaults sure to be taking place make this one a must-watch, but ultimately, TCU will emerge victorious on the road in overtime.

Final Score: TCU 41, Tech 38 (OT)

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Odds Alabama Loses 2 or More Games in 2015

Alabama never loses more than one regular-season game.

That's just not in its DNA.

It has finished 11-1 or 12-0 in six of the past seven seasons, during which time it has played in three BCS National Championship Games and three Sugar Bowls.

However, this year already feels different. The Crimson Tide lost to Ole Miss in Tuscaloosa last weekend, dropping to 2-1 for the first time under Nick Saban, and now must sweep the rest of their schedule to avoid losing multiple games.

Let's handicap their likelihood of getting there.


The Case for Alabama Winning Out

Despite last week's home loss, Alabama ranks No. 1 in the country on Football Outsiders' F/+ ratings. Those numbers still favor the Crimson Tide, on a neutral field, over any team in college football.

There's your case right there.

It's not as if Alabama is scared of anybody. It's not as if there's any team it can't beat. All it takes is better execution and fewer crippling mistakes.

According to Bill Connelly of SB Nation, who recently published advanced statistical profiles for every FBS team, the Crimson Tide have been plagued by horrendously poor turnover luck. They've lost an average of 5.4 points per game based on fluky turnovers, which last year would have ranked No. 127 in the country and in 2013 would have ranked dead last.

"Obviously, when you have five turnovers in a game, it’s kind of hard to win, especially when you didn’t get any," Saban told reporters after the Ole Miss game. "We’re minus-five with turnovers this game, and that makes it a bit difficult in the second half when they have a couple of big plays that made huge differences in the game."

The good news is that turnover luck corrects itself. Connelly accounts for factors such as fumble-recovery rate and interceptions per pass breakup, both of which regress toward the mean. Statistically, Alabama should find better luck with turnovers moving forward.

It should also find better luck regarding those big plays Saban mentioned. The 73-yard touchdown pass to Cody Core featured an illegal blocker downfield (Saban has since submitted the play for review), and the 66-yard touchdown pass to Quincy Adeboyejo featured a helmet bounce so lucky even former Ole Miss quarterback Eli Manning, who is no stranger to lucky helmet catches, couldn't have claimed it deserved to go for six:

It's unbecoming to scream "fluke!" or complain about bad luck after a loss—especially in a case such as this, where that first part is patently false. The Rebels didn't beat the Crimson Tide in some fluky result; they beat them because for one night, they were the better team.

They just also happened to be the luckier one.

What happens when that luck starts to turn?


The Case Against Alabama Winning Out

The case against Alabama winning out has less to do with the Crimson Tide—again, they rank No. 1 on the F/+ ratings—than their schedule.

Here is who remains, along with their own advanced rankings:

Alabama's seven remaining conference games include two top-five teams (Georgia and LSU), three more top-25 teams (Texas A&M, Tennessee and Mississippi State), the No. 26 team (Arkansas) and a road trip to play Auburn in the last game of the season when it should presumably look better than it does right now.

It's easy to find at least one loss on that schedule.

It's even easier considering the lack of clarity Alabama has at quarterback. Jake Coker started the first two games and looked average, Cooper Bateman replaced him against Ole Miss and looked worse than average, and then Coker came back and looked better than ever.

What is Alabama to make of all that? Did Coker just need the jolt of being benched to step up? Can he be counted on to be "the guy"? Last time Alabama ran a quarterback battle into the season, AJ McCarron seized the reins from Phillip Sims and made Saban's choice easy.

Coker may have won the job, but nothing about this battle has been easy. The running game and defense need some help.


Odds Alabama Wins Out

Let's try to make this quantitative.

Instead of throwing a number against the board willy nilly, I'll attempt to use stats and calculate realistic odds.

I say "attempt" because the numbers don't belong to me. The two components of the F/+ ratings—the FEI ratings and the S&P+ ratings—belong to Brian Fremeau and Connelly, respectively. I do not know the formulas they use to compute their ratings, and I lack their ability to generate win probabilities for 'Bama's next nine games.

But because Fremeau and Connelly make their ratings public, I do have the ability to reverse-engineer past game projections and estimate those of Alabama. These may not be precise, but they should be close.

Here are the FEI margins between Alabama and its remaining opponents:

And here are the FEI win probabilities for games with similar margins in Week 4:

There are no suitable matches for the Georgia, Arkansas and Tennessee games (I immediately regret not taking weekly inventory of the FEI ratings), but those probabilities can be estimated using the numbers of the most similar games they fall between.

For example, the Arkansas and Tennessee games must fall somewhere between the Texas State at Houston game (89.6 percent win probability) on the low end and the Miami (Ohio) at Western Kentucky game (96.4 percent win probability) on the high end.

After adjustments, my estimated win probabilities look something like this:

Separately, those odds look pretty good. Alabama should be favored—statistically—in each of its remaining games.

But by losing to Ole Miss, Alabama surrendered its wiggle room. It no longer has any margin for error. The odds of it winning all nine of those games come out to 21.7 percent.

Those win probabilities are rough and fluid, but they're at least in the ballpark of what the numbers suggest. If you played this season five more times from here, four of those seasons would feature Alabama losing multiple games. One of them would have Alabama going 11-1.

Sounds fair to me.

Chances Alabama Loses Two or More Games: 78 percent

Odds Alabama Loses Two or More Games: 1-5


Brian Leigh covers college football for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @BLeigh35

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12-Year-Old Leonard Fournette Was so Good Parents Tried to Ban Him from Playing

If you can’t beat ‘em…ban ‘em?

That’s what happened to LSU star running back Leonard Fournette when he was 12 years old.

In a feature for USA Today, George Schroeder wrote that some local New Orleans parents actually started a petition to keep Fournette off the field because he was too darn good.

At 12, his talent was too much. Parents from opposing teams signed a petition to have him banned.

“He was bigger than everyone,” says Corey Scott, Fournette’s uncle. “He basically just destroyed ‘park ball.’ He was running over all the kids.”

The legend continued to grow a few years later:

As a seventh-grader, Fournette played for St. Augustine High School’s freshman team. The next season, coaches put him into a drill opposite Tyrann Mathieu, who was then a senior who would go on to become a consensus All-America at LSU.

Fournette ran over the Honey Badger.

Things really haven’t changed for the sophomore. Last week against Auburn, Fournette rumbled for 228 yards and three touchdowns in jaw-dropping fashion:

[h/t For the Win, Instagram]

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Can Ole Miss Climb to Top of 2016 SEC Recruiting Rankings?

Ole Miss has commanded the spotlight so far this college football season with another strong start. 

Explosive performances and an impressive victory at Alabama sent the Rebels surging in national rankings. Meanwhile, Ole Miss' off-field success also warrants attention. 

Head coach Hugh Freeze holds a top-10 recruiting haul with room for improvement. Led by Class of 2016 catalyst Shea Patterson, Ole Miss has an opportunity to assemble as strong an incoming crop of talent as any SEC program on national signing day.

"We're doing everything we can to put together a group that can win a lot of games together," Patterson told Bleacher Report. "I'm doing my part, and so are other recruits. The team is playing great too, which obviously helps."

The 5-star quarterback and Elite 11 MVP committed to Ole Miss in February. He is one of eight prospects pledged to the Rebels who carry a 4-star composite rating or higher.

Among the team's 19 commits, six are considered top-10 prospects at their respective positions. It's a collection that includes Rebels legacy wide receiver DeKaylin Metcalf, in-state running back Justin Connor and former Alabama defensive tackle pledge Benito Jones

These premier players were already on board before Ole Miss entered the season with a surge. Freeze knows that early, emphatic wins create a ripple effect on recruiting efforts. 

"I think it's a bump, and I think that bump might last for a couple of weeks," he said, via Courtney Cronin of The Clarion-Ledger. "I think it comes back to the relationship. It allows you to get in the game with maybe five-to-10 guys that you may have not been in it with. I think that is a realistic bump from it."

Ole Miss is firmly in the mix for several uncommitted 2016 standouts, including a few with personal ties to Patterson. 

Top-ranked tight end Isaac Nauta, freakishly athletic 4-star wide receiver Drake Davis and Ohio State offensive line commit Tyler Gerald each play alongside Patterson at IMG Academy in Florida. 

Nauta, rated ninth overall in composite rankings, will spend an official visit in Oxford on Oct. 24, when the team welcomes Texas A&M to town. He'll be in the bleachers next to Patterson, providing Ole Miss with a perfect opportunity to pitch him on the program.

"We have excellent chemistry on the field, so obviously if I do go to Ole Miss, that would benefit me," he told Bleacher Report. "Shea is a great quarterback, and we've definitely developed a good relationship playing together. He's in my ear every day with something about Ole Miss."

Patterson is attempting to coordinate an official visit to Oxford for Gerald, while he will accompany Davis to the Sept. 26 game against Vanderbilt. The 6'4", 215-pound playmaker could potentially further enhance a Rebels receiving corps loaded with talent.

Elite Texas pass target Tyrie Cleveland is another legitimate possibility for Freeze and his staff. The 6'3" speedster starred this summer at The Opening, the invite-only showcase held at Nike's world headquarters.

He emerged as Patterson's primary target on a title-winning seven-on-seven tournament team that also featured Metcalf. Though Cleveland's close friend and high school quarterback Dillon Sterling-Cole is committed to Arizona State, the Rebels are viable contenders.

"Ole Miss is in my top two," he told Taylor Hamm of 247Sports. "I've never been there before, so I just want to feel the vibe. I want to feel the vibe and make sure I'm comfortable there."

Cleveland will have that chance soon, as he is in the process of planning an official visit.

Count him as someone who had confidence in the Rebels last Saturday against Alabama.

"I had Ole Miss the whole way. I already knew they were going to win," he told Hamm. "That offense is incredible in getting the ball around and staying consistent. I like it."

Compliments came from coveted recruits on both sides of the ball.

"I honestly had Ole Miss to beat 'Bama," 4-star defensive end Jeffery Simmons told Cronin. 

Freeze has landed lauded recruiting classes in the past. Those players have matured to help his program take another step up the SEC ladder, allowing Ole Miss to sell itself as an established "contender" rather than a hopeful "builder."

Louisiana running back Devin White, Texas defensive back Deontay Anderson and in-state wide receiver A.J. Brown have all expressed serious interest in the team. Ole Miss is likely to host the country's top two prospects—Texas offensive tackle Greg Little and New Jersey defensive lineman Rashan Gary—for official visits. 

The Rebels are either in control or within striking distance of so many marquee recruitments that the odds are undeniably in favor of Ole Miss' landing a top-flight class in February.

Sustained on-field success may ultimately enable Freeze's team to finish ahead of all SEC opponents and perhaps the entire college football universe on signing day.  


Quotes obtained firsthand by Bleacher Report National Recruiting Analyst Tyler Donohue unless otherwise noted. All player ratings are courtesy of 247Sports' composite ratings. Follow Tyler via Twitter: @TDsTake. 

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Are College Football's Preseason Favorites Still the Teams to Beat?

What fun would preseason projections be if no one ever played the game to find out if they were completely wrong or not?

Though the 2015 college football season is only three weeks old—but turning four, thank you very much—there are already major examples of preseason predictions not going according to plan. If the media's preseason guesses came to fruition, this year's Power Five conference champions list would look like this: 

(The SEC, of course, had an odd preseason voting result, with Alabama projected to win the West while Auburn was projected to win the SEC.) 

And if the College Football Playoff selection committee still valued conference champions the most, chances are the final four would feature some combination of those teams (and perhaps Notre Dame). 

With the first month of the season nearly in the rearview mirror, how does the top of college football look now? There are already examples of pundits abandoning ship on preseason favorites and going with the teams of the week: 

CBS' analysts aren't the only ones shaking up their preseason favorites, either. Here are B/R colleagues Michael Felder, Adam Kramer and Barrett Sallee making their playoff picks with some new teams joining the mix: 

But are we overreacting to what we've seen too much? It's a long season and, eventually, the best teams rise to the top. Are the Power Five preseason favorites still the teams to beat in their respective conferences? Let's take a look.



The last time we saw Clemson, the Tigers were holding on to a 20-17 win against Louisville. The Cardinals, though winless, were a desperate and dangerous team. It should have been no surprise, then, that Clemson barely escaped. There were concerns with the Tigers, however. 

Namely, quarterback Deshaun Watson was He had plenty of inaccurate moments and was clearly rattled by Louisville's pressure. Compounding the problem was the absence of receiver Mike Williams. Gone by association, then, was the downfield passing game. It was not Clemson's best game offensively. 

Is Clemson still the team to beat in the ACC, though?

There are reasons to believe so and reasons to be incredulous. The silver lining is in the defense, which had to replace a number of key starters from a year ago. Though the best offense Clemson has played to date, at least statistically, is Appalachian State, it doesn't change the fact the defense has surpassed expectations. Clemson has a bye in Week 4, but its toughest tests are in the coming weeks against Notre Dame and Georgia Tech. 

We'll find out just how good Clemson's defense is in those two games. 

The worrisome issue is Williams' health. As of this week, head coach Dabo Swinney still doesn't have a timeline for Williams' return. Williams sustained a neck injury in Week 1. 

"In his mind, he's playing, but that is all up to the doctors and the good Lord. I have no idea, but we certainly don't want him anywhere near a football field unless he is 100 percent healed." (h/t Nikki Hood,  

Assuming the offense can get back on track without Williams—no easy task, mind you—Clemson tentatively still looks like the ACC's best team. Others still agree: 


Big Ten

One month ago, even entertaining the notion that Ohio State wouldn't be the best team in the country, let along the Big Ten's best team, would have been football heresy. Yet, here we are. The Buckeyes have a quarterback controversy for all the wrong reasons and an offense that has been sluggish over the past two games. 

Are the Buckeyes still the team to beat in the Big Ten (and nationally)?

Michigan State probably has a thing or two to say about that.

Other than Ole Miss' win over Alabama in Week 3, no other team has a signature victory quite like the Spartans. Their 31-28 win over Oregon in East Lansing in Week 2 is as impressive as you're going to find through the early season. Thus, Michigan State shouldn't be viewed as "spoiler" to Ohio State's playoff chances; Sparty should be viewed, rather, as a legitimate Big Ten and playoff contender (if it wasn't already). 

The Nov. 21 contest in Columbus still seems destined to be the game of the year in college football, especially now since the Iron Bowl between Alabama and Auburn has lost its luster. The question between now and then is whether Ohio State's offense can get back on track. 

It hasn't garnered as much attention, but it should be noted that the Buckeyes defense has played lights-out. Ohio State ranks near the top of the Big Ten in every major statistical category and has the top defense in college football, as determined by  

If the offense gets on board, then Ohio State quickly becomes the team to beat again. The Bucks are simply too talented to contain man-to-man. But right now, Ohio State hasn't played like the best team in the Big Ten, let alone nationally. Can it orchestrate a turnaround, or will it become the 2015 version of last year's Florida State team?


Big 12

The glaring problem for Big 12 favorite TCU is the defensive attrition. Holy moly, are the Frogs pining for bodies on that side of the ball. Dan Wolken of USA Today examines what TCU has lost on that side of the ball—which, mind you, was already replacing a number of starters from last year:

This development follows Saturday's win against SMU in which the Horned Frogs gave up 37 points and lost cornerback Ranthony Texada for the season. It was yet another blow to a defense which already lost defensive end James McFarland, linebacker Sammy Douglas and safety Kenny Iloka to season-ending injuries and linebacker Mike Freeze to a leave of absence. Meanwhile, TCU's most experienced defensive player, Davion Pierson, has yet to play this season at tackle due to a head injury, though he may be back soon.

That's not even counting the off-field issue for defensive end Mike Tuaua.  

TCU has all the offense in the world but just gave up 37 points to SMU and goes on the road to face a Texas Tech offense that's averaging 54.3 points per game—just under five points per game more than the Frogs. 

Head coach Gary Patterson is a defensive genius, so if the Frogs are to win the Big 12 and make a playoff run, it'll have to be Patterson's best coaching job yet. At some point, though, it feels like all the defensive attrition is going to catch up. If the offense has a bad day like it did against Minnesota, what happens if the defense can't make the necessary stops? 

With Oklahoma's win over Tennessee, the Sooners announced themselves as another contender to the Big 12 crown. Can TCU fend off Baylor and Oklahoma? The Frogs get those teams back-to-back to end the season. That's a tough task for a short-handed group. 



Here we have our first preseason favorite with an early-season blemish. USC's 41-31 loss to Stanford in Week 3 confirmed some of the problems the Trojans had coming into the year. Specifically, the pass rush from the defensive line was a problem. Stanford averaged 10.3 yards per pass attempt against the Trojans, and USC has one of the top passing offenses in college football. 

USC, for the record, averaged 8.2 yards per pass attempt, meaning it was outplayed in the passing game by an offense known more for its smashmouth running style. 


The Trojans defense couldn't get off the field. USC was outgained in total yards (474 to 427), gave up 8-of-12 third-down attempts and lost the possession battle nearly 2-to-1. As B/R colleague Bryan Fischer put it simply, USC was out-coached. And this doesn't look like it's anywhere close to being Stanford's best team in recent memory: 

Additionally, USC had eight penalties for 87 yards. The tendency for this team to shoot itself in the foot is a continuation of last year's problem. That's on head coach Steve Sarkisian as well. 

These are potentially bad omens for the Trojans moving forward. There are better teams than Stanford remaining on the schedule. Without a pass rush and better mental discipline, USC's offense is only going to take this team so far. 

There's time to turn things around, but right now, Oregon looks like it's still the top dog in the Pac-12. UCLA and Arizona are going to make their case this weekend in Tucson as well. 



The SEC is among the more wide-open conferences. What we know is that Auburn looks nothing like the preseason media favorite to finish atop the SEC, nor does quarterback Jeremy Johnson look like a legitimate Heisman contender. Heading into the Tigers game against Mississippi State, Johnson has been benched in favor of backup Sean White. 

Will the move pay dividends and get Auburn's offense back on track? Something has to work because the defense, under first-year coordinator Will Muschamp, isn't proving to be a lockdown unit. Without offensive improvement, Auburn could be looking at a long season. 

With the Tigers out of the picture, where do the rest of the SEC favorites stack up? Ole Miss is the clear front-runner after beating Alabama 43-37 in Tuscaloosa. However, the Tide committed five turnovers...and still only lost by six points. Alabama doesn't control its SEC West destiny, but it's hardly out of the race. 

The idea of the Tide's dynasty under head coach Nick Saban has been a point of discussion over the last couple of years. There was no better program from 2008-12 than Alabama. But as Stewart Mandel of Fox Sports writes, "Perhaps the most relevant takeaway for Alabama is that it's no longer the clear-cut top big-game performer in the SEC, but nor is anyone else." 

That bodes well for the Tide's SEC and playoff chances this year. One loss, especially to a good Ole Miss team, doesn't end anything. The Rebels and the Tide still have to face LSU and current Heisman front-runner (per Leonard Fournette, as well as Texas A&M. The Tigers are getting the attention, but Sallee writes that A&M shouldn't be overlooked, either. 

And then there's Georgia out of the SEC East division. Point being, there are still as many as three to five teams in the SEC that lay claim to being the best. Auburn might be out of the discussion, but Alabama isn't yet. 


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

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Can a Dynasty Still Exist in Today's College Football?

At this point, we should all be used to some unexpected upsets every Saturday, but it still seems like one or two truly head-turning surprises occur in college football each week.

That was perhaps never more than evident than at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, where a Stanford team that failed to score a touchdown in an anemic offensive performance at Northwestern somehow managed to put up 474 yards and 41 points against trendy College Football Playoff pick USC—the preseason favorite to win the Pac-12.

It wasn’t the first time the Cardinal had played spoiler to their adversaries in the South, and the contest was just the latest in one of the most competitive rivalries in the country over the past nine seasons.

A common thread between the start of the back-and-forth games of the past decade and last week was on the sidelines for Stanford in former quarterback and current QB coach Tavita Pritchard.

Pritchard may not be well-known to most, but USC and Stanford fans know all too well why he could be the answer to a question on Jeopardy. In his first career start as a 41-point underdog, Pritchard engineered the Cardinal’s remarkable upset of the second-ranked Trojans back in 2007 that easily ranks among the greatest upsets in recent memory.

Losses like that tend to stay with a team or a program.

Then-head coach Pete Carroll seemed to rally the troops, though. The Trojans finished second in the country in both 2007 and 2008 as they stretched their unprecedented streak of BCS bowl appearances and 11-win seasons to seven consecutive years.

Still, it’s hard not to look back to that 2007 loss—at home, while allowing two fourth-down conversions on the game-winning drive—and see the beginning of significant cracks in the aura around the USC program.

The program finally fell hard two years later when Andrew Luck and Jim Harbaugh put the nail in the coffin with a 55-21 beatdown best known for Carroll uttering, "What’s your deal?" in the postgame handshake. 

The deal, as was clear at the time, was that Carroll’s dynasty was over well before the NCAA even stepped in to ensure it. That much was set in motion when the audacious Cardinal had declared that the gap between the conference bottom-feeders and the establishment wasn’t quite as large as everybody thought.

It’s been that way ever since.

After Troy fell, the label of the dynasty du jour was passed to Urban Meyer’s program at Florida following a pair of national titles in a three-year span.

That was a short-lived era, however, as Alabama’s upset of the Gators in the 2009 SEC Championship Game served as a de facto torch-passing ceremony. Meyer was gone from Gainesville less than two years later, and in his place atop the mountain came Nick Saban, who turned the Crimson Tide into the envy of all of college football with three national titles in four years to go with a handful of near misses.

It is difficult to maintain a level of excellence so far above one’s peers forever. Other sports have seen similar stretches of dominance by one team come and go, and the same is true in nearly every decade of college football. 

It’s almost Newtonian the way some programs rise to the top...before they’re eventually knocked off course.

That brings us to the other big upset of a playoff contender last week in Alabama. Although there have been some notable losses over the past few seasons, something seems different about the Crimson Tide’s loss to Ole Miss—and that’s beyond the fanbase's normal "sky is falling" reaction to every loss.

USA Today’s Dan Wolken suggested as much in his column from Tuscaloosa, noting that Saban is just 4-5 against Top 15 opponents over the past two seasons.

Fox Sports columnist Stewart Mandel went even further in pointing out that’s not even the most concerning thing about Alabama’s recent performances, citing how much the defense has slipped in terms of giving up big plays, points and yards in key games.

"We certainly think we're at a point now where it's not a shock," Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze said after the game on Saturday. "I don't think it surprises the people in our locker room. Our pregame was as short as it's ever been. I said, 'You're good enough to win.'"

That’s telling.

There’s no longer a myth about Alabama being the top dog in its own division, the SEC as a whole or even nationally.

We’ve seen the cracks develop. Whether it be the “Kick Six” Iron Bowl of 2013, the Sugar Bowl losses or Ole Miss in the past two years, it’s become readily apparent at Alabama and other places that the talent and coaching gap between the elite teams and the middle and lower tiers simply isn’t as great as it once was.

The rise of spread and/or uptempo offenses that have become fashionable across the sport has only accelerated this narrowing of the gap. No amount of 5-star recruits can make up for that it seems.

Toss in a few plays that simply don’t go your way—and the Crimson Tide have seen more than their share recently—and there are plenty of reasons why folks are saying the dynasty is done in Tuscaloosa. 

Things still can get turned around for Alabama—it’s a long season, after all—but the fact that we’re at this point prompts an even greater and far-reaching question. Are college football dynasties themselves done as Alabama appears to be exiting stage left?

Those in Columbus would have reason to argue, but close calls like what Ohio State had with Northern Illinois only underscore how razor-thin the margin for error is with any top team nowadays.

College football itself has also fundamentally changed its entire structure to the point where the question needs to be asked. It’s simply harder than ever before to dominate on and off the field, and Alabama is a perfect example of the field rising to the top much more than the big wigs falling downward.

The talent gap has closed. The coaching gap between good and great has more or less closed. There’s increased coaching and player turnover to deal with. More players are enrolling early in college as freshmen than ever before and just as many are leaving school before their senior years come around.

By far the greatest obstacle, however, is a completely new postseason format that has altered the landscape and makes sustaining success even harder.

Now it’s no longer about winning one’s league and then putting it all on the line for a single game.

To win national titles (plural), one likely needs three postseason wins in multiple years to earn that label of being a dynasty. That’s asking a lot.

Meyer discussed the new format with reporters prior to last year's Sugar Bowl:

[It] used to be 11 games and a bowl game. Now, what is it, 12 plus [a conference title game]. You're talking about 14, 15 games, and that is getting very NFL‑ish. We're very leery of it. I think it's great for college football. But I think it's something that we all need to consistently monitor. And I know we have very closely, because the wear and tear on a student‑athlete is real. It's never been like this. This is the first time in college football history that you're asking a student at a university to spend this much time—you're talking about August until [January] and your 15 games.

The elite college football programs will always enjoy a leg up on their have-not brethren due simply to the amount of resources they can invest, but even that is no guarantee when hoping a bunch of 18- to 24-year-olds can perform at a consistently high level time after time.

Throwing another game into the mix isn’t an opportunity to pick up a 15th win but rather a coin flip to add an additional loss to the yearly record. 

Teams can have a good run during a season and win a title. It will take even more to do it again...and again and again.

And, like it or not, a loss in the College Football Playoff Semifinals will likely be seen as a failure for the schools involved on the wrong side of things and not looked at as the ending to a remarkable campaign. Success for elite programs in college football is therefore changing to boot.

It all adds up to a steep hill to climb. We’ll see if it’s impossible, but at this moment in time at least, it’s looking rather improbable.

The Alabama dynasty may be done, but at least Crimson Tide fans can take comfort in the fact that they may be the last one for quite some time. Though it may not offer much solace, it certainly is a reflection of this day and age in college football.


All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise noted. You can follow Bryan Fischer on Twitter at @BryanDFischer.

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College Football Playoff Matchups We Want to See the Most

The first College Football Playoff featured a pair of dream matchups: Nick Saban vs. Urban Meyer in one game and Jameis Winston vs. Marcus Mariota in the other.

Can any 2015 matchup top those?

Maybe. The last matchup on this list probably would, but the others would struggle to beat Saban and Meyer's first meeting since Meyer left the SEC and two Heisman Trophy winners sharing one field.

Regardless, some matchups are dripping with intrigue that we're rooting for more than others. That intrigue can be football-related (how two teams match up) or narrative-related (how off-field stories color the game) so long as it makes us desperate to watch.

Losses last week made my personal favorite—USC vs. Alabama: The Lane Kiffin Bowl—significantly less likely, but there are still plenty of options to watch for. Using teams from the Associated Press Top 15 as a guideline, here are the best realistic matchups.

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Michigan Football: Most Impressive Wolverines Heading into BYU Game

The Michigan Wolverines are heading into a showdown against the No. 23 BYU Cougars, and a handful of players will look to continue their impressive starts to the 2015 season.

Running back De'Veon Smith and tight end Jake Butt each had terrific single-game performances, but the Wolverines who made the list have consistently impacted the team.

Although Michigan has jumped out to a respectable 2-1 record, Jim Harbaugh's squad needs a certain receiver, two linemen, a linebacker and defensive back to sustain—and even elevate—their respective contributions.

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Which Conference Will Be Left out of the 2015-16 College Football Playoff?

The selection process for the College Football Playoff is a lot like the children’s game of musical chairs. You have five or six realistic contestants (the ACC, the Big Ten, the Big 12, the Pac-12, the SEC and Notre Dame, depending on the year), circling around four highly prized chairs.

When the music stops, the College Football Playoff selection committee puts butts in seats, using a selection process rooted in teams’ resumes and overall success throughout the regular season.

The result, however, is the same: Four satisfied competitors and multiple anguished entrants left standing, left outside of the circle of success.

Until the playoff expands to eight teams, that’s the reality surrounding the process: Five major conferences, four sports. Someone’s guaranteed to get their feelings hurt, much as Baylor, TCU and the Big 12 did last December. Who will that be this December? Let’s take a look.

First, let’s explain something. While fans live, die and overreact with every September defeat (remember when the Big Ten was out of the playoff picture following Virginia Tech’s win over Ohio State last December? How’d that turn out?) the reality is that most teams have a thin margin for error when it comes to playoff qualification.

Since 2010, when the final regular-season poll featured three undefeated teams (Auburn, Oregon and TCU, then of the Mountain West Conference), the final poll has featured exactly one undefeated team entering the postseason.

In 2011, it was LSU. 2012, it was Notre Dame. And the past two years, it was Florida State. There were also no two-loss teams in the top four. A one-loss team has no guarantees, but a two-loss team might as well not even bother harboring playoff hopes.

The first 11 teams in this week’s AP Top 25, from No. 1 Ohio State to No. 11 Clemson, are all undefeated. The first one-loss team is Alabama at No. 12, followed by Oregon at No. 13. They both have “quality” losses: Alabama to No. 3 Ole Miss and Oregon to No. 2 Michigan State.

The Sagarin ratings, which measure a team and conference’s relative strength, are also interesting. This week’s top 10 features four SEC teams (Ole Miss, Alabama, Georgia and LSU, in that order), two ACC teams (Florida State and Georgia Tech), one Big Ten team (Ohio State), one Big 12 team (Baylor), one Pac-12 team (Southern California) and Notre Dame.

Surprisingly, three teams in the AP Top 10 (Michigan State, TCU and UCLA) are not in the Sagarin top 10, while three one-loss teams (Alabama, Georgia Tech and Southern California are).

In other words, there’s plenty of parity amid some disconnect between actual rankings and power rankings, and that’s not even taking into consideration the shock to the system that the playoff selection committee will apply when it releases its own Top 25 rankings that actually hold sway in the selection process.

Let’s assume, for the sake of sanity, that the SEC champion will be included in the playoff. The league is college football’s deepest, with Georgia, LSU, Ole Miss and Alabama establishing themselves as viable contenders. Patrick Stevens of the Washington Post says the SEC West's rise around Alabama can't be ignored. The Tide will likely be eliminated with one more defeat (and has Georgia and LSU left on its schedule).

With a win over Alabama, Georgia could enter the SEC title game unbeaten (its toughest remaining game after that will be the regular-season finale at Georgia Tech). LSU and Ole Miss face off in Oxford Nov. 21, and the Tigers travel to face the Tide Nov. 7). Upsets notwithstanding, a playoff-worthy team should emerge from this group.

In the Big Ten, there are two legit contenders: Michigan State and Ohio State. The Buckeyes and Spartans face off in Columbus Nov. 21, and the winner should be the overwhelming favorite to win the Big Ten title. There are only two Big Ten West teams in the current AP Top 25 (surprising No. 17 Northwestern and No. 22 Wisconsin), but neither is a real threat to take down the East champ in the Big Ten title game. The Buckeyes or Spartans will be in the playoff.

In the Big 12, much like 2014, Baylor and TCU are the clear class of the league, although No. 16 Oklahoma and No. 24 Oklahoma State are also in the Top 25. Baylor’s visit to TCU on Black Friday appears to be for the league title and a potential playoff spot, although the Horned Frogs (who have suffered serious defensive losses) must get there unbeaten, first.

"Our key is to control our own destiny, and the best way to do that is to try to win them all," TCU coach Gary Patterson told the Associated Press. "That's what we're going to try to get done. Then we'll see how everything else falls."

A year ago, the only thing that ultimately kept the Big 12 out of the first playoff field was a 41-27 loss at West Virginia, which left both TCU (a 61-58 loser to Baylor) and the Bears with one loss.

If Baylor can survive the Big 12 round-robin gauntlet unbeaten, the Bears will make the playoff without question.

That leaves the ACC and the Pac-12, as well as Notre Dame. A year ago, Florida State was the only FBS unbeaten but was only the No. 3 playoff seed, a knock at its schedule and the ACC’s reputation. The Seminoles’ biggest wins were over a 10-win Clemson team and then an 11-win Georgia Tech team. It was enough to make the playoff, but a loss would almost certainly have eliminated them from contention.

This fall, Clemson and Florida State are the league’s best hopes. An undefeated Clemson team would have wins over FSU, Georgia Tech and Notre Dame, a trio of impressive victories. FSU’s best wins would be over Clemson and Georgia Tech, assuming the Seminoles finished the season unbeaten.

The Sagarin ratings break up leagues by divisions, and the ACC Atlantic (where Clemson and FSU reside) ranks only ninth. But is that a trustworthy system? Consider this: The Big Ten East ranks one spot behind, at No. 10.

Regardless, if Clemson or Florida State runs the table, they’ll likely earn a playoff bid.

That leaves the Pac-12, which boasts as many as three serious contenders in Oregon, Southern California and UCLA, with Arizona and Utah lurking in the weeds as Top 20 unbeatens.

Oregon has already lost a game (at Michigan State), and the Ducks can’t afford any more slip-ups with a schedule that includes trips to Arizona State and Stanford, and a Nov. 21 visit from the Trojans. Same goes from USC, which dropped a surprising defeat to Stanford. The Trojans still must travel to Arizona State, Notre Dame and Oregon, and finish the season with UCLA. It’s entirely possible they’ll absorb a loss or perhaps two along the way.

UCLA is the Pac-12’s current standard-bearer but must travel to Arizona, Stanford and Utah, and finishes the season with USC. With a true freshman quarterback in Josh Rosen, it’s hard to imagine the Bruins finishing 2015 unscathed.

The Pac-12 is a deep league, but that might not necessarily work in its favor when it comes to producing a team worthy of national acclaim.

And don’t forget about Notre Dame, which has been impressive in wins over Texas, Virginia and Georgia Tech thus far. However, the Fighting Irish are also led by a freshman quarterback in DeShone Kizer following Malik Zaire’s season-ending broken ankle. A trip to Clemson Oct. 3 and a visit from USC two weeks later leave little room for a slip-up.

Expect the Irish to make a mistake somewhere along the way, removing themselves from contention.
When the smoke clears in early December, ultimately, the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12 and SEC will be represented. And Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott will lead the charge for an eight-team playoff field.

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Notre Dame DT Jay Hayes Benched for Negative Tweets Toward Coaching Staff

Think before you tweet.

Notre Dame defensive tackle Jay Hayes could have used this advice before he fired off negative tweets criticizing his coaching staff Wednesday.

It seems Hayes was displeased with the amount of playing time he was receiving, so he took to Twitter to let out a little frustration. The tweets have since been deleted, but, of course, nothing ever leaves the Internet.

Head coach Brian Kelly announced Thursday the sophomore won't be playing this weekend because of his tweets.

"You have to think before you hit send, and what you have to do is knock on my door instead of hitting the send button," Kelly told reporters, per "If he has a job at Google and talks about his boss that way, he probably is not going to have a job the next day."

Social media is fun, but you have to watch what you say because someone is always watching.

[Twitter,, h/t College Spun]

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Is Nick Saban's Dynasty at Alabama Over?

The Alabama Crimson Tide were considered the best college football team in the country with back-to-back BCS National Championships in 2012 and 2013. However, they haven't been considered champions for a while now. 

Has the Alabama dynasty ended? If so, when did the dynasty end?

Find out in the above video as Stephen Nelson and Bleacher Report College Football Analysts Adam Kramer and Barrett Sallee go in-depth on the dynasty situation. 

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Georgia Football Recruiting: Latest Updates on 2016 Commits, Visits and Targets

Things are looking good for the Georgia Bulldogs. They just dominated South Carolina, Greyson Lambert is set as their starting quarterback after a record-breaking performance against the Gamecocks, the defense is statistically one of the five best in the conference and Nick Chubb is on his way to a record-breaking season.

Things are also going well on the recruiting trail, as the Bulldogs have the third-best recruiting class in the SEC and the seventh-best in the country. Their most recent commit was running back Elijah Holyfield, the son of boxing legend Evander Holyfield, who made his commitment to the Dawgs three weeks ago.

With 17 commits, the Bulldogs are looking to finish the recruiting season strong. And if the Bulldogs continue their good on-field play, there’s a chance they could have one of the five best classes in the country.

Here are the latest recruiting updates for the Bulldogs.


Bulldogs Look to Get Top Prospect in Mississippi

The Bulldogs already have elite prospects in Jacob Eason and Holyfield. But they want more for the 2016 class, which is why they offered Jeffery Simmons, the No. 1 prospect in Mississippi.

Top100 DE has #Bama commit in ear (VIP) via

— BamaOnline (@BamaOnline247) August 26, 2015

According to Kipp Adams of 247Sports, Simmons, who plays defensive end, is the No. 38 overall prospect in the country. Simmons told 247Sports that he would have made the Bulldogs a final candidate even if he didn’t get the offer.

"I do not know much about Georgia, but after watching them on TV and hearing a little bit about them, I know they are a very successful program that has produced a lot of All-American defensive linemen that are playing in the league," Simmons said.

Simmons is working with his coaches and the Georgia coaching staff to set up an official visit date.


Derrick Brown Had a Good Visit with the Bulldogs

When Georgia played South Carolina last week, they had a host of recruits including the state of Georgia’s No. 1 prospect, Derrick Brown.

The Army All-American defensive tackle got to spend time with some of the Bulldogs staff, according to Rusty Mansell of 247Sports, and Brown said the visit went well.

QB pressure, rushed throw, interception for Lanier - thanks to Rivals100 DT Derrick Brown

— Radi Nabulsi (@RadiNabulsi) September 19, 2015

“It was good visit,” Brown said. “I got to sit down with Coach (Tracy) Rocker, Coach (Jeremy) Pruitt for a little while.”

Brown may have been happy with the visit, but he’s not going to make a decision anytime soon.

“I still plan on going all the way until signing day,” he said.

Brown also mentioned that Tennessee and Auburn are recruiting him just as hard as the Bulldogs.


Nation’s No. 2 Athlete Plans to Visit UGA This Week

Demetris Robertson, the No. 2 athlete in the country, is planning to unofficially visit Athens this week.

According to Jeff Sentell of, Georgia's plan is to show Robertson the academic side of the program along with what goes on with the football team.

Robertson said Stanford leads Georgia right now, but the Bulldogs could pass the Cardinal if the visit goes well.

Demetris Robertson makes a nice grab yesterday in 1 on 1s at #RivalsChallenge in #bal... (Vine by @RivalsDave)

— Woody Wommack (@RivalsWoody) June 7, 2015

“For Georgia to get past Stanford it would take just me being comfortable at the school and them setting me up for the future,” Robertson said.

Robertson added that Notre Dame has been recruiting him hard this week, and Alabama head coach Nick Saban gave him a call as well. He plans on taking an official visit to Cal next weekend.


Unless otherwise noted, all recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports. Brian Jones is the Georgia featured columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @brian_L_jones.

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College Football Picks Week 4: Latest Top 25 Odds and Final-Score Predictions

There's no rest for the weary in college football. Even if the sport is coming off of a Week 3 that saw two teams in the top six go down with other ranked sides receiving plenty of scares. 

A new team makes its way into the top four after Ole Miss, ranked 15th last week, went into Tuscaloosa and defeated No. 2 Alabama. The Rebels are now tied with TCU at No. 3, with Michigan State one spot behind Ohio State.

Here's a look at the current AP poll entering Week 4:

Stanford makes its way back into the Top 25 after defeating No. 6 USC, which might have just seen its playoff hopes fly away after the loss. The Trojans dropped 13 spots to 19th.

The largest mover in the rankings other than Ole Miss, which hopped up 12 spots, is Northwestern—the team that originally knocked Stanford out of the rankings during Week 1.

Starting the season unranked, Northwestern moved into the Top 25 with the win over the Cardinal, and it has continued to ascend. The Wildcats moved up six spots this week to No. 17 after a 19-10 win over Duke.  

While the Wildcats seem to have an easier matchup waiting for them this week against Ball State, other teams in the Top 25 are not so lucky. Let's take a look at the Top 25 schedule, latest odds and what I think the final score will be. Odds are courtesy of

Game of the Week

No. 18 Utah at No. 13 Oregon

When one thinks of the Pac-12, the usual suspects tend to come up first whether it be Oregon, USC, UCLA or Arizona. But in Week 4, another team, Utah, has an opportunity to make its claim as one of the elite teams in the conference. 

While a Week 1 win over Michigan could prove helpful if the Wolverines pick up a win against No. 22 BYU, a win over Oregon could further solidify the notion that the Utes are the real deal. 

They'll be tested against the high-powered offense of the Ducks, whose only loss of the season came against now-No. 2 Michigan State. Even then, they managed to score 31 points against them. In their two wins this season, the Ducks scored 61 points. 

It remains unclear if Oregon will have its starting quarterback, Vernon Adams, ready for the game, as he is dealing with a finger injury, per Kevin Gemmell of Oregon had to go with Jeff Lockie last week against a weaker Georgia State squad. He managed to put up 61 points, but Utah's defense proves a bit more of a challenge. 

However, Oregon has had an easy time with Utah in the past as the Pac-12 Networks show:

Utah so far has proven to be a bit more difficult to break down this year, ranking second in the Pac-12 in rushing defense, only allowing 3.5 yards per carry. But it'll be facing a running back in Royce Freeman who has averaged 6.8 yards per carry. 

I think Oregon's offense, even if Adams doesn't go, will be too much for the Utes to stop in what will surely be an entertaining game that will have an air of desperation about it. Utah wants to prove that it belongs, while Oregon will fight for its playoff hopes. 

Prediction: Oregon wins 38-27 

Stats courtesy of

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ESPN College GameDay 2015: Week 4 Location Hosts, TV Schedule and Predictions

ESPN's College GameDay travels to Tucson, Arizona, for Week 4 of the NCAA football season as the Arizona Wildcats prepare to host the UCLA Bruins in a marquee Top 25 matchup.

The AP No. 16 Wildcats have put up incredible offensive numbers over their first three games, albeit against facile competition. Arizona is coming off a 77-13 romp over Northern Arizona, ballooning the Wildcats' average point total to 54, which is tied for third in the country.

UCLA is ninth in the AP poll but narrowly escaped an upset against BYU 24-23 last week. Now the Bruins have to travel to a hostile environment for what's going to be a huge Pac-12 South division showdown.

Check out the basic information for College GameDay coverage below, followed by a preview and prediction for the featured game, which is slated for 8 p.m. ET and will be aired on ABC.


ESPN CollegeGameDay Week 4 Info

Date: Saturday, Sept. 26

Time: 9 a.m.-12 p.m. ET

Location: Tucson, Arizona


Live Stream: WatchESPN


UCLA vs. Arizona Preview, Prediction

Despite the fact that Bruins true freshman quarterback Josh Rosen threw three interceptions versus BYU, UCLA is favored by 3.5 points, according to Odds Shark listings as of Wednesday at 7 p.m. ET.

The line ought to move in light of news that broke Wednesday of star linebacker Myles Jack's season-ending injury. ESPN Stats & Info highlighted how short-handed the Bruins now are on the defensive side of the ball:

This couldn't have come at a much worse time for UCLA. Rosen is going to have to grow up quickly and overcome his turnover-plagued performance to produce points in order for the Bruins to hang tough in this contest.

At least UCLA offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone cut his precocious signal-caller some slack.

"That was the first defense that showed him, multiple, multiple looks," said Mazzone, per's Ivan Maisel. "I didn't even know what it was half the time."

A big positive from UCLA's close call was how strong its rushing attack was. That is Arizona's primary strength, but Bruins running back Paul Perkins racked up 219 yards on the ground and the winning touchdown against BYU.'s Chris Low has high praise for Perkins, which is merited considering the junior's steady production:

Especially on the road, though, ball security will be paramount for UCLA—and Rosen has to remain composed.

Rosen's counterpart, Anu Solomon, has thrown 10 touchdowns and zero interceptions thus far in 2015. Solomon isn't the most lethal dual-threat QB, but his backup Jerrard Randall has six carries for 209 yards and three touchdowns. RB Nick Wilson has also run for 434 yards and five scores already.

The following number from's Ted Miller shows how the sophomore Solomon is improving, whereas Rosen threw two red-zone interceptions in his last outing:

Solomon's ability to execute in the scoring area will force UCLA to respect the pass even without much field to work with.

But Saturday's clash is the Wildcats' first true test. Given how short-handed UCLA's defense is and how fired up the home fans ought to be, one has to fancy coach Rich Rodriguez's side to light up the scoreboard and vault into the College Football Playoff picture.

There is also a vengeance factor of sorts in play for Arizona after losing to the Bruins 17-7 on the road last season.

Although Rosen is bound to play better and show why he's starting at just 18 years old, the Wildcats' running game will prove to be too much for UCLA to overcome at Arizona Stadium. The Bruins just yielded 149 yards rushing to BYU's Adam Hine and will be hard-pressed to stop Arizona's multitude of capable ball-carriers sans Jack.

Prediction: Arizona 35, UCLA 21

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The Teens Who Know College Football Recruiting's Biggest Secrets

With one uploaded video, tweet, meme or whatever else social media has to offer, a regular athlete can become a spectacle on any computer screen, smartphone or tablet.

Photo edits have become a pedestal of sorts in showing whether or not a rising star has made it. Not every athlete gets one, and although some wouldn't admit it, most athletes want to see someone take time out of their schedule to creative a commemorative opportunity.

For Hayes Fawcett, Clay Williams and Justin Wieber—three high school student-athletes who have a gift for creating magic via graphic design—photo edits have been a way to not only pay homage to the world of college football and football recruiting but also build relationships of some of the country's college athletes of the future.

It's also been a way for typical teenagers to become the recruiting insiders that even the best in the business can't touch. In order for edits to be made—particularly the ones featuring top school lists or a commitment choice—the graphic artists must earn the trust of the recruits.

For Fawcett, Williams and Wieber, consider it done. They have the scoop.

"We know a lot," Fawcett said, "but we won't say a word."

Often, the edits will tell the story. Whether they're done using computer software or with smartphone applications, the end result for all three artists tends to draw a crowd within the social media community.

And what's notable with the three artists: All of them work voluntarily. They don't charge for their services.

"We do it because it's fun," Wieber said.

It just so happens that they have also become instant recruiting gurus, as well. Gurus who know how to keep a poker face and a quiet tongue.


Meet Clay Williams

(Preferred editing tool: Smartphone apps)

As a 15-year-old sophomore, Clay Williams plays basketball and soccer and also runs track for Liberty Christian Academy in Pataskala, Ohio. The campus is less than a half-hour drive from the Ohio State University campus in Columbus.

Which explains why he's a big Michigan fan, right?


"I'm a Michigan fan," Williams said, "but I'll do edits for whoever."

Check his Twitter account and notice some of the best edits made for players either committed to, considering or attending Michigan. He has more than 1,200 followers, among them Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh, LSU coach Les Miles and Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly.

The first edit he did was for 4-star wide receiver Desmond Fitzpatrick, a Michigan target who committed to Louisville on Halloween last year. From there, Williams' popularity skyrocketed. There was a time where edits kept him super busy in the summer.

"[Fitzpatrick] originally set it up as one of his wallpapers," Williams said. "He said thanks, and he really appreciated it.

"After that, it you do it for one player, teammates will see it. Then, they'll follow you and ask for one. Now that school's back in, I probably do four or five a day. This past summer, I was doing anywhere from 10 to 15 a day."

Michigan's Ty Isaac, Jabrill Peppers and Jourdan Lewis are three college players who were the subjects of Williams' latest edits. A number of 2016 players also have edits courtesy of Williams, including Fitzpatrick, 4-star wide receiver Donnie Corley, 4-star linebacker Dontavious Jackson and 3-star safety Jaylen Kelly-Powell

Williams' father, Greg, said the graphic design talent goes far beyond what he does for athletes. Greg said he has two sons, and while Clay showcases his skills using graphic design, his brother is a very good drawer.

"They wanted to put new a logo in the basketball gym at his school. It was a contest, and Clay entered his picture of a Liberty Eagle," Greg Williams said. "He designed the logo, and he won. He's been doing this for a while, but he's just one of those types who don't like getting a lot of credit. We almost had to force him to enter into that contest."

Along with producing edits, Williams builds relationships with athletes to where he'll know inside information on them before anyone else. When an athlete announces a top five or top 10 using a graphic, there's a good chance Williams knew about it days before the public.

"I'll never tell, though," he said. "People will find out when the players put it on Instagram or Twitter."

And even though Williams is a diehard Michigan fan, it doesn't mean other programs are left out—school rivals included. He's made an edit for 5-star defensive end Nick Bosa, who is committed to Ohio State.

For Williams, making edits isn't about competition. It's all about honing a craft and showing his passion for a pastime he loves.

"He's pretty modest about everything," Greg Williams said, "and I like that about him."


Meet Hayes Fawcett

(Preferred editing tool: Smartphone apps)

Many 14-year-olds are focused on playing sports or video games.

Hayes Fawcett loves the game of football, as he's a quarterback for Kinder Middle School in Kinder, Louisiana, but the eighth-grader has a noticeable passion for graphic design.

Fawcett said a picture of one of basketball's greatest players helped to pique his interest.

"One day, I was scrolling down Instagram and saw this cool picture of LeBron James edited," Fawcett said. "I started asking some guys about some different apps, and I started playing around with them. It took a few weeks, but I finally got it."

Fawcett speculates he's done roughly 300 edits. One of those was an edit of New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., whom Fawcett said posted it on his own Instagram and then sent a personal shout-out.

"That's when I knew this could be something special," Fawcett said.

Fawcett's father, Brett, has watched his son turn a simple hobby into something he could ultimately turn into a career. It helps, Brett said, that Hayes is a "big sports guy" who plays the game with the objective of following the footsteps of the athletes he produces edits for.

"He's been doing this for a couple years now, and as soon as he got his smartphone, he hasn't stopped," Brett said. "He found some apps and started toying around with it them in his extra time. Now he's getting all kinds of positive feedback. This pretty much fits his interest."

Fawcett has found his niche with producing edits for college football players and recruits. His first was LSU's Derrius Guice. Since then, he's done edits for multiple 2016 athletes, including 4-star athlete Devin White, Oregon receiver commit Dillon Mitchell and Florida State 5-star cornerback Levonta Taylor.

As a quarterback, of course Fawcett has done edits for the some of the top signal-callers in the class including Ole Miss pledge Shea Patterson, Maryland-bound Dwayne Haskins and Michigan State commit Messiah deWeaver.

With edits comes knowledge. In addition to doing edits for players, Fawcett said he's been able to get advice from quarterbacks on how to improve his game at Kinder.

"Shea Patterson and Dwayne Haskins are two of my favorites," Fawcett said. "I talk to them a lot. They really have helped me."

Fawcett, who prefers using smartphone apps over computer software to build edits, was responsible for helping to break the news about 3-star athlete Donovan Duvernay, who committed to Baylor on Monday. Although Fawcett didn't deliver the scoop, he was the one who made Duvernay's graphic that went along with the player's tweet to the masses.

Fawcett, like Williams, said he gets a lot of inside recruiting information from athletes looking for edits. He added that he gets tons of questions from members of the media asking for recruiting news.

"I had one guy who begged me to, but I wouldn't spill the beans," Fawcett said. "I think it's pretty awesome. I'm only a 14-year-old kid. Knowing that grown-ups with jobs are coming to me to find things out, it's pretty cool."

Fawcett said he's made roughly 20 commitment edits and roughly top 20 edits for athletes that feature a top five or top 10. This summer, when athletes participated at The Opening, he was key in producing edits for several of the athletes who made the trip to Oregon.

One of those to receive multiple Fawcett edits is Jackson, who is aware of Fawcett teaming up with Clay Williams on a few projects. One of Jackson's favorite edits is his top-12 announcement.

"The way they formulated it really made the picture pop," Jackson said. "First off, I respect them for keeping up with us. They don't have to do that—and they do it for free. What they do is good, not only for themselves but for everyone. It's humbling, especially when you don't ask them to do it. It's really flattering."

"He's gotten a ton of referrals all the way from the high school level to the pro level," Brett Fawcett added. "It's really been amazing to see what he can do on a smartphone."


Meet Justin Wieber

(Preferred editing tool: Computer software)

When he's not playing offensive lineman and linebacker at Bellarmine College Prep in San Jose, California, Justin Wieber is one of the biggest Michigan State fans west of the Great Lakes.

Never mind the fact he was born and raised in California.

"I'm a long-distance fan," Wieber joked. "My parents are both grads from there, and my dad's raised me to watch them for as long as I can remember. We try to make it out to as many sports events as we can."

Wieber, a 15-year-old sophomore, shows his appreciation for Spartan nation with his edits, created with various computer software. Using everything from Topaz Labs to Adobe Photoshop and, on occasion, Adobe Illustrator, he has created masterpieces under his Spartan Designs Twitter and Instagram accounts for both football and basketball players.

Branching out has helped his popularity. Wieber, who has more than 2,000 Twitter followers with the Spartan Designs account, has followers including current Michigan State starting quarterback Connor Cook and former Spartans point guard Mateen Cleaves.

"Since I hopped on Twitter and reached out to a few guys, I've probably done about 600 or 700 edits," Wieber said. "During the summer, I'd be able to put out about four or five a day. Some days, I could even get up to 10. Now that I'm back in school, I may do one or two a day."

David Wieber, Justin's father, said the family has been in California for roughly 20 years, but with the family including Spartans alumni, it's easy to root for the green and white on Saturdays. Justin had the opportunity to make the trek to East Lansing, Michigan, for the Spartans' big game against Oregon.

It was there when he realized how important his edit contributions were. Justin recognized a lot of recruits in attendance—and vice versa.

"When we got there, Justin was well-known among the recruits," his father said. "It's been cool to see how some of the recruits have reacted to him. Some of the kids actually have asked to have their pictures taken with him."

"It was pretty crazy," Wieber added. "I mean, I'll be watching a lot of these guys playing [college ball] in a couple of years. A couple of them may even end up in the [NFL]. I'm lucky to say that they're a fan of my work. It was very impressive being there; I'm still speechless."

Among the many 2016 recruits Wieber has made edits for are 5-star receiver Nate Craig-Myers and current Michigan State receiver commit Cam Chambers. In fact, Chambers was one of the athletes Wieber met at the Oregon game. One of his latest basketball recruiting edits includes 5-star forward Miles Bridges, who has Michigan State, Kentucky and Indiana as his top three schools.

Wieber said he first took interest in edits on Instagram during the sixth or seventh grade. Since then, he's worked with software to hone his skills and said he'd like to one day "be as good as designers working for universities." He said working with software is a little more difficult than creating edits using a smartphone app, but he's up for the challenge.

And the hard work has paid off. David said his son's work was recognized by Adobe, as he was interviewed for Adobe's blog not long ago.

"They wanted to see how I've impacted the world of recruiting and what I do to help promote the brand at Michigan State," Wieber said. "They said [the blog] put up groundbreaking numbers the first couple of days."

To which his father responded: "It was about 40,000 hits the first couple of days."

Justin said he's uncertain if graphic design is something he wants to pursue when he gets to college. If he doesn't, he'll have one notch in his belt that he'll hold for a long time. It involved an edit of Cook that he considers his all-time favorite.

"It was in black and white, but it showed him in a Spartan Pro Combat uniform in color," he said. "His parents reached out to me to see if they could buy it. I gave it to them for free."


Creating memories

Jackson said he still remembers his first edit. It came during his sophomore year, and it involved him with an Oklahoma State theme.

Edit artists such as Williams and Fawcett aren't just creating pictures for these recruits. They're building memories.

"I'll never forget any of them," Jackson said. "I still have some of them in my old phone. It makes you feel good knowing they're taking time out of their day to do it."

Fawcett said he has people telling him all the time that his future is in graphic design. Williams and Wieber concurred but said they're unsure what they want to do when they become adults.

For now, edits are a passion. And that passion is putting smiles on the faces of college football's future.

And it's all being done for free. For now, that's good enough for them.

"It's a hobby for me," Fawcett said. "I do it because I love it."

"Some schools have an actual person who do it for them," Williams added. "I just wanted to do it because it's fun. I've been able to meet some good people through it, too."

It's still impressive that three of the nation's most well-known edit artists aren't old enough to drive, vote or technically enter an R-rated movie by themselves. Don't be surprised, however, if these young artists get paid to one day do what they love in a full-time capacity.

"I've taken a graphic design course at my school and learned some basics there," Wieber said. "There's definitely a larger margin of things you can do with this. There are millions of possibilities."

For now, they'll settle with how things currently are. They're Internet sensations for the college football world. They're humanitarians for doing everything for no charge. And in a sense, they're just as important to the recruits as the recruits are to them.

It also doesn't hurt being the keepers of important information with recruiting targets who trust them.


Damon Sayles is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. All quotes were obtained firsthand. All player ratings are courtesy of 247Sports' composite ratings. Follow Damon via Twitter: @DamonSayles

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