NCAA Football News

Duke vs. Virginia Tech: Complete Game Preview

The Virginia Tech Hokies head back to Lane Stadium on Saturday in dire need of a win. It's a situation the Hokies faced two weeks ago when N.C. State came to town after back-to-back losses.

Last week, Tech dropped to 3-4 (1-2) on the season with a disappointing, turnover-filled performance at Miami.

Brenden Motley started the game for the Hokies and turned the ball over three times before a returning Michael Brewer replaced him. Brewer made things interesting, but he also turned the ball over late and Tech's defense couldn't stop Miami when it mattered the most.

Next up for the Hokies: the Duke Blue Devils (5-1, 2-0).

Duke is coming to Blacksburg as a winner of three straight. The Blue Devils defeated Army by a score of 44-3 last weekend.

The Hokies lead the all-time series 14-8 and have dominated Duke since entering the ACC back in 2004. VT is 10-1 since becoming ACC rivals with the Blue Devils. Duke's lone win came two years ago in Blacksburg.

  • When: Saturday, October 24, 2015
  • Where: Lane Stadium, Blacksburg, Virginia
  • Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
  • TV: ESPNU
  • Radio: Virginia Tech IMG Sports Network. Here is a complete list of stations by area.
  • Spread: The Hokies are currently 2.5-point favorites, per Odds Shark.

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NCAA Football Rankings 2015: Examining Playoff Landscape Ahead of Week 8

As the college football season approaches Week 8, some teams are starting to separate themselves from the pack. While there are 14 undefeated teams still in both polls and a few one-loss teams with a chance, there are a few schools that control their own destiny when it comes to the College Football Playoff.

Here is a look at the Associated Press poll that was released Sunday:

While the poll plays a part in the four teams that qualify for the playoff, and matches up as of this week, it isn't the end all, be all. The College Football Playoff Selection Committee will ultimately decide the final four teams to play for the national championship. Here is a look at how the four-team playoff would shake out if the season ended today:

A lot is going to change between now and December, when the final selections are made, and one thing you can count on is the loser of the TCU Horned Frogs vs. Baylor Bears game will find itself on the outside looking in. 

Below is a projection of which teams will be playing for the coveted national title.

 

(1) Ohio State Buckeyes

There is no getting around the fact that Ohio State is one of the best teams in the country. It has won 20 games in a row dating back to early last year, including the first College Football Playoff National Championship last season.

However, it hasn't been all peaches and cream for the Scarlet and Gray this season. The Buckeyes defeated the unranked Northern Illinois Huskies and Indiana Hoosiers by just seven points each and faced an odd "quarterback controversy" between Cardale Jones and J.T. Barrett earlier in the season, according to Chase Goodbread of NFL.com. Now it could be resurfacing again, according to Ryan Ginn of Scout.

Even with that, the Buckeyes have continued to roll and still have not left the field without a "W" this season. With a strength of schedule ranked 48th, according to TeamRankings.com, let's just say their chance of losing before the semifinals is slim. Their biggest possible hiccup is a game against the No. 15 Michigan Wolverines in late November.

 

(2) Baylor Bears

Even though the Bears have been the most dominant offensive team this season, averaging more than 63 points per game, Baylor fans have a right to be cautious about their team qualifying for the CFP. Last season, the Bears finished 11-1 before the playoff, with the only blemish being a road loss to West Virginia. However, they didn't qualify after the Big 12 Conference failed to announce a champion when Baylor tied TCU for the regular season conference crown.

In reality, Baylor fans, you really shouldn't worry. The closest resemblance of a loss was actually a 63-35 victory Oct. 3 against Texas Tech. Sure, they have ranked teams in three of their next five matchups, but none can handle the offense head coach Art Briles has assembled. 

The Bears' game at TCU will be tough, but even the high-flying Horned Frogs offense, ranked second in the country in points per game, scores nearly two touchdowns less per contest than Baylor. To make matters worse for undefeated TCU, its defense allowed 45 points to the Kansas State Wildcats and 52 to Texas Tech. Imagine what Baylor might do.

Baylor fans, book your tickets to the Cotton Bowl now. 

 

(3) LSU Tigers

Leonard Fournette. Ever heard of him?

The sophomore running back for the Tigers may just carry LSU to the CFP himself. Recently, he became just the 10th back to reach the 1,000-yard mark during his team's first five games, according to Jim Kleinpeter of the Times-Picayune

The Tigers defense has been OK and has yet to allow an opponent to score 30 points in a game, but Fournette is the reason the Tigers are still undefeated. His "worst" game of the season was a 158-yard, one-touchdown performance against South Carolina. He's also had games of 228, 233 and 244 yards. His 1,202 yards ranks first in the country, and he is tied for first with 14 rushing touchdowns. 

ESPN College Football on Twitter showed everyone that he takes his role very seriously.

Sure, the Tigers have to travel to Alabama during the regular season, but they have won five of the past seven meetings in Tuscaloosa. Even if the Tigers trip up against the Crimson Tide, they have a shot to win the SEC West, and one loss at Alabama shouldn't be enough to drop them out of the playoff picture once the dusts settles.

 

(4) Clemson Tigers

The term "Clemsoning" may take on a whole different meaning by the time this season ends. The slang term is used when a team loses a game it shouldn't or continues to fail on the big stage, because some perceive that that is what the Tigers do. However, just don't mention it to head coach Dabo Swinney.

Laken Litman of USA Today reported that Swinney was asked a question in a press conference that contained the term, even after Clemson knocked off a ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish team. His response told everyone exactly what he thought about the label:

I’m sick of it. I don’t even know why you bring up the dagum word? How about these other teams who lose to unranked teams all the time? We ain’t lost to anyone unranked since 2011, but I have to come to a press conference in 2015 and get asked that. And that’s all media bull crap.

Clemson has had some close calls, including the two-point win against Notre Dame and a three-point victory at Louisville. However, the fact that the Tigers came out victorious in those games shows what kind of resolve this team has shown.

Its biggest test comes Nov. 7, when undefeated Florida State comes to town. But make no mistake, this is not Jameis Winston's Seminoles team. In the past two seasons, the Seminoles have lost Winston, running back Devonta Freeman, wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin and others to the NFL. Even in a down ACC, the Seminoles can't crack the top four in pass or rush offense. 

The Tigers should benefit from a lack of overall talent in the ACC. Once they get past Florida State, it will be hard for the selection committee to turn down an undefeated conference champion in Clemson. 

 

Just missed the cut: TCU, Utah, Michigan State

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College Football's Special Teams Problems

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — University of Alabama head coach Nick Saban didn’t waste any time in addressing the issue during the opening remarks of his press conference Monday.

Special teams are going to be a priority this week, as Alabama prepares to host Tennessee on Saturday (2:30 p.m. CT CBS).

“The big thing that I think we need to focus on is not having the kind of mistakes and breakdowns in the game that really create momentum in the game for the other team,” he said in the buildup to listing four major special teams mistakes from the 41-23 victory at Texas A&M—before mentioning anything involving the offense or defense.

“To me, the focus needs to be on how do you stay locked in and how do you stay focused regardless of the circumstance or the situation that you’re in and be able to execute. That’s really what we’re trying to get accomplished here this week.”

Although Alabama’s miscues didn’t end up being too costly against the Aggies, as it went from a 28-6 lead to 28-20 before regaining control of the game, it was easy to recognize the potential disaster with which the Crimson Tide have once again flirted.

Specifically, Christian Kirk’s 68-yard punt return for a touchdown, Shaun Dion Hamilton’s targeting penalty, the lost fumble by Cyrus Jones on a punt return and a blocked punt led to 14 points (and two missed field-goal attempts) and more than got the Kyle Field crowd of 105,733 back into the game.

But the issues weren’t just unique to Alabama, as special teams ended up being the most talked-about aspect of football after some of the weird mishaps that occurred this past weekend.

Michigan’s botched punt on the final play resulted in Michigan State scoring the game-winning touchdown as time expired.

Utah, which embarrassed Oregon earlier this season with the misdirection on a 69-yard punt return for a touchdown, had a returner start to run out of the end zone, stop and then attempt a lateral, only to be penalized for an illegal forward pass that resulted in a safety.

The Indianapolis Colts ran possibly the worst fake punt in NFL history Sunday night against New England en route to a 34-27 loss.

More often than not, though, special teams are sort of a mixed bag.

LSU, for example, scored the game-wining points against Florida on a fake field goal, when its special teams have struggled even more than Alabama’s this season.

Tre’Davious White’s fumbled punt return in the first quarter gave Florida the ball at the LSU 13-yard line. The Gators subsequently scored.

After Florida’s Antonio Callaway’s 72-yard return for a touchdown, LSU is giving up a whopping 32.8 yards per punt return, which ranks dead last in the nation. Previously, the last time the Tigers gave up both a kick and punt return for a touchdown during the same season was 1999.

Les Miles said during his Monday press conference that punter Jamie Keehn, who is averaging just 39.6 yards per punt, is working through some technical issues, and that he was seeing some improvement in the coverage units.

“The good news is the guys covering the kicks want to get it right,” he said. “The effort and energy is there.”

Perhaps it’s not a coincidence that the two teams with probably the most roster turnover each year, especially when one factors those who left early for the NFL, are having problems on the units that have the least continuity.

Regardless, a theme has emerged in Alabama’s last five losses: Costly mistakes and special teams errors have clearly played major roles.

In the Sugar Bowl loss at the end of the 2013 season, Oklahoma turned five turnovers by the Crimson Tide into 28 points in the 45-31 victory. Similarly, Alabama had five turnovers during the Ole Miss loss this season, which the Rebels turned into 24 points and a 43-47 win.

Two of those turnovers were on special teams. Overall, Alabama has had six fumbles this season, with five lost. All but two (a botched snap in the rain and a Derrick Henry fumble) were on special teams.

What’ll surprise Alabama fans, though, is that the Crimson Tide is doing statistically better of late on special teams:

Kickoff coverage: Alabama’s net average on kickoffs is 42.0 yards, which ranks fifth in the SEC. The 12 touchbacks trail only South Carolina’s 14.

Kickoff returns: Alabama’s averaging 19.1 yards per return, which is an improvement, as it has gone from 11th in the SEC to seventh.

Punting: J.K. Scott’s average is on the rise, up to 42.6 yards, as he’s seen nine punts travel 50-plus yards, including a 58-yard kick. However, his booming punts also make Alabama more susceptible to big returns. Overall, the Crimson Tide’s net yards per punt are 35.1, down from 42.4 in 2014.

Punt-return average: Alabama’s 9.9 average is up from 7.1, which ranked last in the league a couple of weeks ago. It’s now ninth.

Field goals: After missing his first four field-goal attempts, Adam Griffith has made eight of his last 10, the two misses (25 and 48 yards) coming at home against Arkansas. Also of note, long snapper Cole Mazza returned against Georgia after missing two games.

Alabama also has blocked two punts, resulting in a touchdown and a safety.

Hence the emphasis on attention to detail, which Alabama has been pushing ever since a players-only meeting following the Ole Miss loss.

“We haven't been worrying about the outside [talk], we're just worried about the inside stuff and getting better every week,” linebacker Reggie Ragland said.

"Everybody's just doing their job, and if everybody does their job, we're a tough team to beat."

  

Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.

Christopher Walsh is a lead SEC college football writer. Follow Christopher on Twitter @WritingWalsh.

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Auburn Football: Can Tigers Keep Offensive Momentum Going vs. Arkansas?

At a time when Auburn needed it the most, Gus Malzahn's offense turned back the clock last Thursday night in Lexington, Kentucky.

The Tigers scored on their first two possessions as quarterback Sean White moved the ball with efficiency and explosiveness downfield. The rushing attack came through near the end zone with a pair of touchdowns from the ever-reliable Peyton Barber and another one from the young Kerryon Johnson.

And, perhaps most importantly in a tight road win, Auburn didn't turn the ball over while converting more than 60 percent of its third-down attempts for the first time all season.

For most of its 30-27 victory against Kentucky, Auburn's offense looked more like a true Malzahn attack than the error-prone and completely flat one that took the field in back-to-back SEC losses.

"We wanted to be more aggressive," Malzahn said, per James Crepea of AL.com. "We're starting to settle in. We're starting to get some rhythm in practice."

Now comes the hard part for the Tigers: keeping that rhythm going as they continue their season-salvaging efforts against Arkansas.

Was the more-explosive performance by the Auburn offense a fluke, or was it a true signal of better things to come?

Wide receiver Ricardo Louis says he believes it's the latter.

"[The win] is going to give us a lot of confidence moving forward," Louis said, per Wesley Sinor of AL.com. "I can feel the team really coming to play. We're finding our rhythm on offense and defense...and that's what it takes to win."

Louis definitely found his rhythm in the offense Thursday night against Kentucky. The senior set a new season-high for receiving yards before the first quarter even ended, grabbing five catches for 114 yards.

He later had a 34-yard reception from White, the redshirt freshman who was widely rumored to be replaced in the starting lineup by Jeremy Johnson, to set up a crucial fourth-quarter touchdown.

In Auburn's first game without the talented but troubled Duke Williams, Louis became the go-to target for the offense by making some leaping catches that were reminiscent of what Williams did last season.

"He made some big-time plays with the ball in the air," Malzahn said, per Tom Green of the Opelika-Auburn News. "He high-pointed the ball, and he helped us win tonight."

Louis proved that he could be the new No. 1 for an Auburn wide receiving corps that will get plenty of action from the hard-throwing White for the rest of the season. 

That chemistry between White and Louis will be vital this weekend. While Arkansas is ranked ahead of Kentucky in total yards allowed per game, most of that is due to how much the Razorbacks hold onto the ball on offense.

Arkansas has allowed 5.92 yards per play this season, which ranks 100th in the FBS. The much-maligned Auburn defense, on the other hand, is slightly ahead at 83rd.

Auburn needs more of the chunk plays downfield that it generated against Kentucky because Arkansas will shrink the window of opportunities for the Tigers to score with its clock-melting offense.

And those plays will most likely need to come in the passing game where Arkansas has struggled in its losses this season.

While there will be more pressure on the young White on Saturday in Fayetteville, Auburn can also build off some of the successes it had on the ground against Kentucky.

Kentucky held Auburn to less than four yards per carry for the first time all season, but it added a successful wrinkle to the grind-it-out style of Barber.

Kerryon Johnson, a true freshman running back, took five snaps out of the shotgun in the Wildcat formation and scored his first career touchdown out of the package. 

"It was huge," Johnson said, per Green. "It was kind of surreal just thinking months ago I was in high school and now I’m scoring my first college touchdown. I enjoyed it a lot."

The unbalanced set kept Kentucky's defense off-balance, especially when backup quarterback Jeremy Johnson lined up at wide receiver and ran fake handoffs.

Malzahn's creativity in the formation could turn into several big plays against Arkansas. Auburn used sophomore running back Roc Thomas on a sweep there, and the fakes to Jeremy Johnson seem like they're setting up a potential pass play for the former starter.

The long-term successes of both Auburn's passing and running games are linked to its offensive line, which has been steadily progressing in the last two weeks.

Auburn showed great improvement in pass protection against Kentucky, allowing only one sack on a day when White attempted 27 passes.

The front five must continue to be tough in the running game during the second half of the season. In addition to the large and physical front of Arkansas, Auburn has contests against Ole Miss, Texas A&M and Alabama—three teams with elite defensive linemen.

If the linemen stay strong in front of a developing White and a multi-headed rushing attack, the explosiveness Auburn found in Kentucky will make its way to Arkansas.

Get off to a good start there, and the Tigers will make Bret Bielema and the methodical Hogs play catch-up in their own backyard. That's the ideal plan for a second straight SEC road win and a 5-2 record.

 

Unless otherwise noted, other statistics courtesy of cfbstats.com.

Justin Ferguson is a college football writer at Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @JFergusonBR.

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High Schooler Throws the Weirdest TD Pass You'll Ever See

Jayden Webb must really trust his Yorktown (Texas) High School offensive linemen because in order to make this pass, you have to be all in. Watch as Webb makes the wackiest touchdown pass you'll see this year. Let us know what you think.

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College Football Playoff Standings 2015: Week 8 Rankings, Bowl Game Projections

Week 7 of the season was billed as Separation Saturday by some, and that didn’t turn out to be hyperbole when Sunday morning rolled around across the country.

The script in many conference races was flipped, several surprising upsets happened, and a number of closer-than-expected games turned out to be laughers. And let us not forget that one team only needed 10 seconds left in order to capture a victory.

Keep all that in mind as we enter a Week 8 slate that doesn’t have all that many enticing matchups but still presents the opportunity for some teams to get back in the College Football Playoff race or fall out for good.

Buckle up, folks: The season is on the downslope and it’s rolling along quite quickly.

Now on to the bowl projections. A hearty disclaimer that these are projecting out the rest of the season and as such are not completely reflective of the state of college football at the moment.

  • Here are the full Top 25 rankings. The College Football Playoff selection committee will release its first rankings in just over two weeks, on Nov. 3 at 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN.
  • After that "Separation Saturday," we saw a pretty big shake-up among the College Football Playoff and New Year’s Six teams. The biggest change involves a conference being shut out of the final four that would have one part of the country up in arms and likely delight the rest. Yes, the SEC is out of the playoff. It is entirely possible the league’s champion has two losses by the end of the year, and while that may not completely eliminate the SEC from the playoff, it does present an uphill battle. Alabama looks again to be the top dog but it remains in the realm of possibilities that the Tide would have just a single Top 10 win (at Texas A&M) and only one other Top 20 victory (LSU) by the end of the year depending on how things shake out. A loss to Ole Miss isn’t looking too hot either. While the team has flashed at times, there are still quite a few holes on both sides of the ball (and special teams) to not be quite sold on Alabama.
  • Baylor continues to look unstoppable and will remain in the top spot until its two-game season (against Oklahoma and at TCU) concludes. Ohio State is starting to hit its stride and Clemson also remains on track to go undefeated. That’s three spots pretty much locked in unless something crazy happens between now and late November.
  • The fourth spot is where things get interesting. Based on its strong play in recent weeks, a case can be made that Stanford is playing as well as anybody in the country. The Cardinal have just two remaining road games left and have opportunities to capture quality victories down the stretch against Cal, Notre Dame (which may turn into a play-in game) and possibly undefeated Utah. Alabama may still win the SEC, but if Stanford closes things out like they could, it will be hard to keep them out of the final four.
  • Yes, Memphis captured the best win any Group of Five team will likely have when it topped Ole Miss on Saturday afternoon, but conference rival Houston remains the pick to grab the league title and a spot in the Fiesta Bowl. The biggest reason is the schedule: the Tigers will face Navy’s triple-option, then go on the road to Houston and Temple in a three-week stretch in November. The Cougars, on the other hand, miss Temple completely (outside of the AAC title game) and have two home games before hosting Memphis. Quarterback Greg Ward Jr. has proven to be a fringe Heisman candidate and has to like that setup for Houston.
  • In the year of the running back, Leonard Fournette and Dalvin Cook seem to have created some separation from the rest of the pack. How about seeing them face off in the Peach Bowl? Yes, please.
  • Utah could win the Pac-12 to get in the playoff or it could lose in the conference title game to Stanford. The latter scenario may not be what Utes fans want to hear but they have to like the potential backup option of the Rose Bowl. Michigan State was at the Rose Bowl two seasons ago, so we’re guessing the Rose Bowl committee would opt for Big Ten runner-up Iowa (last trip to Pasadena: 1991) over a one-loss Sparty.
  • Thanks to some upsets, injuries and good play, we’re finally on track to have enough bowl-eligible teams this season. The line is razor thin however, so some teams like Washington State, Indiana, Auburn and UL-Monroe will have to still get the job done late in the year.
  • Rematches in bowl games are not typically something teams, fans or the bowls themselves want, but we might have a few exceptions in 2015. Case in point is the Poinsettia Bowl’s open spot offering Arizona a chance at payback against Boise State and the Hawaii Bowl allowing BYU and Memphis to make up for last year’s fight at the end of the Miami Beach Bowl.
  • The Juiciest Group of Five postseason game remains the GoDaddy Bowl between MAC champion Toledo and Sun Belt titleholder Georgia Southern. The question is, will either head coach be around by game time, or will they have been hired away by a bigger program by then?
  • If you’re looking for a contrast in styles, no need to go anywhere but the Armed Forces Bowl between Air Force’s option attack and Washington State’s Air Raid.

 

Bryan Fischer is a national college football columnist at Bleacher Report, you can follow him on Twitter at @BryanDFischer.

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Notre Dame Targets Ex-USC, Alabama Commits to Add to Strong Recruiting Class

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish claimed a victory over longtime nemesis USC on Saturday afternoon in front of a raucous home crowd that included several premier college football recruits.

For visiting linebacker Daelin Hayes, the matchup created a unique dynamic. 

The 4-star Michigan product spent Saturday in South Bend less than a week after announcing his decommitment from USC. He was one of two top-tier linebackers—along with California standout Mique Juarez—to end lengthy Trojans pledges in the wake of highly publicized issues that led to head coach Steve Sarkisian's dismissal. 

Hayes, a 6'4", 235-pound senior at Skyline High School in Ann Arbor, Michigan, announced official visit plans last Wednesday. Notre Dame led off a schedule that includes trips to Oklahoma, Ohio State, Michigan State and LSU.

"If I had to give a No. 1 school right now, Notre Dame would probably be it," he told David Goricki of the Detroit News before heading to campus. 

The Irish seemingly strengthened that sentiment during his stay in South Bend.

“Notre Dame definitely set the bar,” Hayes told Tom Loy of 247Sports. “They shattered any expectations I had for the visit. It was just a great experience. And the game itself, that was amazing. It was unreal."

The Irish prevailed 41-31, improving to 6-1 this season. Lauded Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith, a close friend of Hayes, provided further incentive for a future in South Bend during a Sunday morning discussion.

"He said if I do end up coming to Notre Dame, he’s going to give me No. 9. He’s passing it down," Hayes told Loy. "He said Manti Te'o passed the right of being the next big linebacker at Notre Dame to him and he wants to pass that down to me.”

There could be competition to become the Irish's next great linebacker in this recruiting cycle. 

Texas standout Jeff McCulloch was also on campus during the weekend. Rated sixth nationally among outside linebackers, the 6'2 1/2", 230-pound playmaker is considering several universities and caught an up-close look at Notre Dame. 

Ohio offensive tackle Tommy Kraemer, the top-ranked member of a 2016 Irish class rated 15th nationally in composite rankings, also attended the USC game. He aimed to make strides with the prized pair of linebackers.

"I think we have a shot with both of them. I know they have a couple more official visits but hopefully we get them," Kraemer told Andrew Ivins of Rivals.com.

Aside from Hayes, Irish head coach Brian Kelly has his eyes on another top-tier Michigan prospect who was pledged elsewhere until recently.

Defensive end Khalid Kareem, a 6'4", 260-pound prospect from Harrison High School, used an official visit at Notre Dame days after decommitting from Alabama. Coming off an 18-sack junior campaign, the pass-rusher is an important piece of Irish recruiting efforts less than four months shy of national signing day.

Kareem, who initially joined the Crimson Tide class in June, is considered the ninth-best strong-side defensive end in composite rankings. Notre Dame was a legitimate contender prior to that decision and now seems to be right back in the thick of things.

“It gave me a better feel for what Notre Dame is as a whole, the part that you don’t see on Saturdays. They are a good fit right now," he told Steve Wiltfong of 247Sports. “They were saying they need guys like me to be leaders in the classroom and help them on the field."

The Irish currently lead in Kareem's 247Sports Crystal Ball, carrying 52 percent of experts' predictions. Perhaps most telling, the past 11 projections have gone toward Notre Dame.

With a game-day visitors' list featuring talents like Kareem, Hayes, McCulloch, coveted California wide receiver Javon McKinley and gifted Pennsylvania cornerback Damar Hamlin, it's clear the Irish are trending well with many of this cycle's marquee names.

Once decisions are finalized Feb. 3, Notre Dame could claim signatures from scintillating athletes once expected to shine on SEC and Pac-12 platforms. 

 

Tyler Donohue is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. All player ratings are courtesy of 247Sports' composite ratings. Follow Tyler via Twitter: @TDsTake.

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Florida Gators to Hold Open Tryouts for Students in Hopes of Finding Kicker

After losing both of their kickers to injuries, the Florida Gators are hoping someone in the student body can help the team.

Florida had already been playing without redshirt junior Austin Hardin (leg injury) before redshirt freshman Jorge Powell was injured against LSU on Saturday. Hardin was able to handle the extra-point duties against the Tigers once Powell went down. Now that both kickers on the roster are hurt, though, the team is looking for a healthy leg.

On Monday, the Gators announced they would be holding open tryouts for anyone interested in walking on as a kicker:

In case somebody random was thinking about trying out, there are some requirements:

Imagine waking up as a student and then going to bed as a member of a Top 25 team. That'd be a wild turn of events.

The Gators don't play again until Oct. 31, so they have some time to get their kicking situation together.

[Twitter]

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Deon Newsome Charged with DUI: Latest Details, Comments and Reaction

Virginia Tech wide receiver Deon Newsome was charged with driving while intoxicated and public intoxication Sunday, according to Cameron Austin of the Roanoke Times.  

Newsome, 20, was jailed and released on bond, per the report.

Virginia Tech has suspended the wideout indefinitely, per Mike Barber of the Richmond Times-Dispatch, though the wideout is still permitted to practice. Head coach Frank Beamer declined to comment on the situation, per Barber.

Newsome is due in court in November and could be facing jail time if convicted of DUI.

Newsome appeared in 12 games last season, finishing with 19 carries for 93 yards and seven catches for 19 yards. He hasn't played an offensive snap this season, however. 

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Is It Time for Ohio State to Make QB Change?

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ever since he named his team's starter for its season opener against Virginia Tech, Urban Meyer has stayed consistent in explaining his line of thinking when it's come to college football's most-talked-about quarterback competition.

In order for J.T. Barrett to regain his role in the Buckeyes' lineup, he'd have to beat out Cardale Jones.

That moment may have finally come.

After seven weeks of largely inconsistent play from his starting signal-caller and two days after turning to his backup down the stretch of No. 1 Ohio State's 38-10 win over Penn State, Meyer declined to name a starter for the Buckeyes' upcoming matchup with Rutgers. That's not to say, however, that Meyer doesn't know who his No. 1 quarterback this weekend will be—he just isn't willing to reveal it yet.

"I think so," Meyer said when asked if he's decided which quarterback would be starting against the Scarlet Knights. "I have an idea, but I want to make sure I visit with everybody [involved]."

At this point, the naming of Barrett as Ohio State's new starter appears to be more of a formality than anything else.

Tallying 132 yards (30 passing, 102 rushing) and four touchdowns (two passing, two rushing), Barrett's performance against the Nittany Lions on Saturday earned him Ohio State's Offensive Player of the Game honors for the second time in as many weeks. Cries for Barrett have come from frustrated Buckeyes fans for the better part of the past month, but it wasn't until last week that making a lineup change seemed viable if Meyer were to stick to his rationale.

"I thought [the offense] ran better against Penn State," Meyer conceded. "Everything plays into it."

Should it come to fruition, Jones' benching will have come slowly but surely, with Meyer giving Barrett no shortage of opportunities to unseat Ohio State's incumbent.

It started as early as the second week of the season, with Meyer turning to the reigning Big Ten Quarterback of the Year after Jones and the Buckeyes offense looked sluggish in the first half of what would be a 38-0 victory over Hawaii. But while Meyer ultimately turned back to Jones in the second half against the Rainbow Warriors, the same couldn't be said a week later, when it was Barrett who finished out a closer-than-expected 20-13 win over Northern Illinois.

In relief, the redshirt sophomore quarterback finished the game and completed 11 of his 19 passes for 97 yards, one touchdown and one interception. That was hardly enough for Meyer to justify benching Jones, who came back to start and play every significant snap in wins over Western Michigan and Indiana.

But with Ohio State's offense struggling to find a rhythm—particularly in the red zone, where the Buckeyes ranked 108th in the nation through the first five weeks of the season—Meyer could no longer stand to stick with the status quo. So a week ago against Maryland, he turned to Barrett as his red zone quarterback in hopes of giving Ohio State more of a dual threat look.

The results spoke for themselves, with the Buckeyes scoring five touchdowns in Barrett's five trips inside the Maryland 20-yard line.

And while Jones turned in his best performance of the season with 291 yards and two touchdowns against the Terrapins, the writing appeared to be on the wall.

That's why it was hardly a surprise when Meyer turned to Barrett for more than just red-zone opportunities on Saturday after Jones was ineffective in the first half against the Nittany Lions. For the second consecutive week, Barrett made the most of his time on the field, in what was Ohio State's most complete win of the season against the nation's 16th-ranked defense.

"He certainly had his opportunity early in the year and did not do it," Meyer said of Barrett. "I feel a little bit like you do and anybody who's watched the past two weeks. He gets in and—I think we're doing a good job of calling things that he's good at. I see the same thing that you see."

Speaking to the media for the first time since the preseason after the game, Barrett attributed his recent success to a shift in his attitude.

"The first few weeks I was trying to make plays, trying to make plays and I was trying to force it. With that, [you're] just asking for bad things to happen," Barrett said. "Now I just come to games and execute the play that I have and big plays come out of that."

Still, in the moments after the game, as well as on Monday, Meyer wasn't willing to name Barrett his new starter, deferring to media availabilities later in the week. But when he does finally announce who his starter will be, it will be hard to imagine the fourth-year Buckeyes head coach sticking with Jones, who completed nine of his 15 attempts for 84 yards against Penn State.

Jones' lackluster stat lines have been the biggest indictment of his play, as he's connected on just three passes of 40-or-more yards in Ohio State's first seven games. In three postseason games at the end of last year, the strong-armed QB converted seven of such plays, seemingly opening up lanes in the running game for Ezekiel Elliott in the process. 

Without Jones providing the Buckeyes with a downfield threat, a two-quarterback system hardly makes sense, as Barrett is clearly the better runner of the two and has already proven his ability as a passer as well.

"I kind of felt that way after the Maryland game. We had a 300-yard passer and [J.T. was] very productive," Meyer said when asked if a two-quarterback system could be ideal for OSU. "It didn't quite go that way [against Penn State]."

While Ohio State's quarterback situation remains in flux at the moment, it finally appears to be sorting itself out. After a slow start to the season, Barrett seems to have regained the form that helped him rewrite the Ohio State record book a year ago, while Jones hasn't done enough to keep a strong hold on his status as a starter.

If Meyer's logic stays the same at it has for the past two months, barring injury, Jones may now have to outplay Barrett to get back on the field.

With the way Barrett has played in the past two weeks, that opportunity is far from a given.

Then again, in this unprecedented quarterback conundrum, nothing has been.

 

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. Recruiting rankings courtesy of 247Sports.

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College Football's Most Important Offers of the Week

Since joining the SEC in 2012, Texas A&M has been able to expand its recruiting efforts into other states in the SEC footprint.

Aggies head coach Kevin Sumlin and his staff already have gone into Tennessee’s backyard and landed a commitment from 3-star linebacker Tyrel Dodson

Last week, the Aggies returned their focus to the Volunteer State to offer 3-star athlete Ikenna Okeke

The 6’2”, 200-pounder can play either safety or wide receiver at the next level, but most schools are recruiting him to play defense. 

Despite jumping in at the tail end of his recruitment, Okeke said the offer from the Aggies was an exciting moment, according to Taylor Hamm of GigEm247.

“Coach Sumlin told me he saw my film and told me with what they’re trying to build and develop up there that I would be a great fit,” Okeke told Hamm. “I was so excited man. You know I kind of anticipated it coming but I’m really excited to start this recruiting process with Coach Sumlin and Coach Chavis.”

Missouri, Notre Dame, Penn State, Stanford and Tennessee are among the schools in the picture with Okeke.

However, with the Aggies now in the race, they could become a bigger factor in his recruitment if he’s able to visit their campus in the coming months.

 

Texas Offers 2016 USC DL Commit

With USC firing head coach Steve Sarkisian last week, the status of the Trojans’ current commitments figures to be in limbo until a new coach is named.

Last week, Texas offered 4-star defensive tackle and current USC pledge Keyshon Camp.

The 6’3”, 269-pound Florida native committed to the Trojans in June, but he has left the door open to taking visits.

As EJ Holland of Horns247 notes, defensive tackle is one of the top priorities for the Longhorns heading into the stretch run before signing day.

With Horns head coach Charlie Strong’s prowess in recruiting the Sunshine State, this recruitment could heat up if Texas turns up the heat on Camp.

 

Michigan Offers Nation’s Top 2017 CB 

While Michigan has gotten off to a fast start this season, head coach Jim Harbaugh and his staff haven’t let up on the recruiting trail.

Last week, the Wolverines offered 5-star corner Deangelo Gibbs.

The 6’2”, 204-pound Georgia product is the nation’s top-rated corner and the No. 4 player overall in the 2017 class. 

With more than 30 offers to his credit, Gibbs figures to have plenty of suitors battling it out for his signature—especially when he can do things like this.

 

USC Offers 2018 QB

While the Trojans have moved on from Sarkisian, the remainder of his staff hasn't thrown in the towel when it comes to recruiting.

In fact, USC offered rising sophomore quarterback Matt Corral.

Additionally, the Trojans are the first school to jump in the race for the 6’2”, 185-pound in-state passer. 

However, the interest in Corral’s services figures to ramp up as more teams are able to view his film in the coming months.

 

Best of the Rest

2016

 

2017

 

2018

 

Sanjay Kirpalani is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes obtained firsthand and all recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.

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Ole Miss vs. Texas A&M Is SEC West Elimination Game

Last week's slate of SEC games is going to be tough to top, but the lone meeting between ranked teams in all of college football this weekend will have huge ramifications in the SEC West title race.

While Texas A&M (5-1, 2-1 SEC) vs. Ole Miss (5-2, 2-1 SEC) doesn't have the same cachet as Alabama at Texas A&M or Florida at LSU, it carries enormous weight in the race for the SEC Championship Game.

It's an elimination game, plain and simple.

For the visiting Aggies, it will be the first game they've played outside of the state of Texas this season, and will present another tough test for a defense that—when you look beyond Derrick Henry's 236 rushing yards—actually played pretty well last week vs. Alabama.

Defensive coordinator John Chavis' crew had 15 tackles for losses last week vs. the Crimson Tide, successfully made and executed adjustments and gave the offense a chance to claw back into a game that began to look very similar to last season's 59-0 shellacking in Tuscaloosa early on.

As Gabe Bock of TexAgs.com noted on Twitter, the "bend but don't break" philosophy was prevalent on Saturday afternoon at Kyle Field.

That's great news for Texas A&M.

Sure, quarterback Kyle Allen and his three pick-sixes are concerning, and the inability to establish the ground game against Alabama wasn't ideal.

But A&M is built to win shootouts, and that's exactly what they'll see against the Rebels this weekend and perhaps the rest of the season save for the regular-season finale at LSU.

For Ole Miss, this game is not only a chance to hang on in the race to make their first SEC Championship Game ever, but a chance at redemption.

The Rebels were shocked last week 37-24 at Memphis in what was one of the biggest wins in Memphis' history.

"There's something missing for sure and that's my responsibility," head coach Hugh Freeze said, according to Ole Miss' official site. "I thought we had a really good week of preparation and again, not to take anything away from Memphis. They're a good football team and I don't want anything to sound like I'm not saying that, but we're obviously not locked in totally."

They better lock it up quickly, because while the Memphis loss hurts in a big way, the Rebels still have plenty to play for. With one loss and a tiebreaker over Alabama in hand, Freeze's crew is still in a pretty solid spot in the West race. 

The problem, though, is that Ole Miss is a mess in a variety of ways right now. 

In what's been an ongoing problem under Freeze in Oxford, the running game is a mess. In conference games, they're averaging just 2.92 yards per carry for 104 yards per game, and the corps that consists of Jaylen Walton, Jordan Wilkins, Akeem Judd and Eugene Brazley simply can't pose enough of a threat to take pressure off of quarterback Chad Kelly in the passing game.

The defense is beat up with injuries to linebacker C.J. Johnson and safety Tony Conner, the absence of corner Tee Shepard (who left the team) and the uncertainty of defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche, who left the Memphis game in the second quarter after suffering a head injury while playing running back.

Ole Miss will get star offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil back from his seven-game suspension this week, but also lost versatile center Robert Conyers for the year to a torn ACL, according to Hugh Kellenberger of the Jackson Clarion-Ledger. If Ole Miss can't run the ball and star A&M defensive ends Myles Garrett and Daeshon Hall can pin their ears back all afternoon, will the return of Tunsil matter all that much?

There's a massive logjam near the top of the SEC West standings, with LSU being the only undefeated team and four having one conference loss or fewer.

You don't want to drop to the two-loss party, especially considering LSU looks much more balanced offensively now and Alabama is hitting its stride after beating Texas A&M last week in College Station.

It'll be a big one in Oxford on Saturday night.

The winner will still be in the mix, but it's hard to imagine a scenario in which the loser makes the SEC Championship Game.

 

Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports. Statistics are courtesy of cfbstats.com

Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer and national college football video analyst for Bleacher Report as well as a host on Bleacher Report Radio on SiriusXM 83. Follow Barrett on Twitter @BarrettSallee.

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5-Star Ben Davis Dishes on Georgia Official Visit: 'I Felt Like Suiting Up'

Lauded Alabama linebacker Ben Davis thoroughly enjoyed his first game-day experience in Athens, Georgia.

The 5-star Gordo High School senior spent this past weekend on campus for his first of five official visits and admits he was fired up throughout the Bulldogs' victory over Missouri.

"The atmosphere was so turnt! I felt like suiting up and playing," Davis told Bleacher Report.

Rated No. 1 overall among inside linebackers in national composite rankings, he is regarded as one of America's most prized uncommitted 2016 prospects. Davis, the son of all-time Alabama Crimson Tide tackles leader Wayne Davis, carries dozens of scholarship offers.

He placed the focus on five universities earlier this month, identifying Georgia, Auburn, Alabama, LSU and Florida State as his favorites.

The Bulldogs, who previously welcomed Davis to campus during the offseason, led off an eventful official visit itinerary.

"I had a great time. I got to talk to the whole coaching staff. I got to hang out with a lot of players," Davis said.

He mentioned linebackers Leonard Floyd and Jordan Jenkins, wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell and defensive back John Abram as members of the team who helped make him feel welcome.

However, it was his experience with Bulldogs coaches that especially stood out.

"I really spent a lot of time with the defensive coaching staff. [Defensive coordinator Jeremy] Pruitt and [linebackers coach Kevin] Sherrer sat me down and showed me how I would be playing at Georgia," Davis said.

They detailed the role that would await him in Athens.

"Inside linebacker and I would be an every-down 'backer with my ability. Rushing the passer up the middle on third down also," he said.

Pruitt, who previously served as an Alabama defensive assistant from 2007-2012, evoked the memory of a former Crimson Tide standout while sizing up Davis' skill set.

"Coach Pruitt said I remind him of like a Rolando McClain type player with my ability and also playing on the offensive side of the ball like Rolando did. He said I'm that type of player to him," Davis said.

McClain, an All-American and Butkus Award winner in college, was a top-10 pick in the 2010 NFL draft and currently plays for the Dallas Cowboys.

Davis arrived at Georgia last week ready to soak in the experience and evaluate everything. The result appears to be a positive one for the Bulldogs.

"I love the campus. It was huge. Georgia after this visit stands as one of my tops," he said.

Davis confirmed his second official visit will take place next month at LSU, where he'll watch the Tigers compete against Arkansas on Nov. 14. 

Official visits to Florida State, Auburn and Alabama are expected to occur after his senior season. Davis plans to announce a final decision on national signing day.

 

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

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Tommy Schutt Injury: Updates on Ohio State DL's Wrist and Return

Ohio State defensive tackle Tommy Schutt suffered a wrist injury in the team's 38-10 win over Penn State on Saturday.

Continue for updates.

Schutt Has Broken Bone in Wrist Monday, Oct. 19

Head coach Urban Meyer announced Schutt's injury on Monday, adding that the defensive tackle will miss at least one game as he recovers, per Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports. He also noted that Schutt had surgery already, per Bill Rabinowitz of the Columbus Dispatch.

Schutt, a senior, has been a key cog in the middle of Ohio State's line, notching 20 tackles and 1.5 sacks this season. He was particularly disruptive against Penn State on Saturday and earned champion honors for that performance, per Rabinowitz.

Schutt's injury will put even more pressure on NFL prospect Adolphus Washington, who is likely to be a first-round pick after this season, per CBS Sports. He will now need to step up his play even more in Schutt's absence. The Buckeyes certainly have the talent all across the line to cover up for the loss of Schutt, with the defense led by one of the best players in the country, defensive end Joey Bosa. 

 

 

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#ManCrushedMonday: College Football's Biggest Hits of Week 7

Week 7 of the college football season featured some absolutely bone-shattering hits.

Who delivered the biggest blows this weekend? Watch the video above to see some of the week's biggest collisions.

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Updated National Championship Odds for Top 10 Teams After Week 7

With Week 7 of the college football season now in the books—and Week 8 officially kicking off Tuesday—it's time to take inventory of the top national championship contenders.

The regular season is already at the halfway point, and plenty of teams still feel like they have a great chance at breaking into the second College Football Playoff and taking home the title. Some preseason contenders have fallen off the map, but most are still in the thick of things heading into the second half.

While the Top 25 polls are decent indicators of where teams stand heading into Week 8, the title shots of these programs look different to the oddsmakers in Las Vegas. Just because a team may have a higher ranking right now doesn't mean it has a better shot at winning it all than someone lower in the poll.

So, with that in mind, here's a fresh update of the national championship odds for the current Top 10 teams in the Associated Press poll. The baseline for these odds come from Odds Shark, with a few slight tweaks based on Week 7 results. (For example, some of the odds listed haven't been updated, as they still have two-loss Michigan as a top contender.)

A lot can change between now and the end of this already-wild college football season. Tell us in the comments below who you see taking home the four playoff bids and then the national championship.

Begin Slideshow

7-Step Drop: Line Between Good and Great Is Playoff Committee's Biggest Problem

Much has been written and many quotes have been given over the years about the fickle and often cruel nature of college football. It should not be all that surprising, given the sport’s reliance on a group of mostly 18- to 24-year-olds executing a task play after play for more than three hours every Saturday.

The presence of so many highly unpredictable variables means that the sport often will be decided at the margins. A backside block here, a backup taking snaps there and so on and so on. To expect anything less would be unwise, especially since those groups of 18- to 24-year-olds that form a pool of 100 or so at every school get only 20 (official) hours to practice their trades.

The end result, as we saw in Week 7, is often chaos and unpredictable outcomes. That was very much apparent at The Big House, where the difference between agony and ecstasy in college football was as small as 40 yards and 10 seconds.

It's why we we play the game. To channel the late, great Yogi Berra, 2015 has proven to be a year where it truly isn't over until it's over. No team is safe, no matter how big of a favorite one might be over the other or how big of a lead it might have (see Indiana-Rutgers).

And while it may make for entertaining games and thrilling finishes, it does nothing to help sort out the task at hand for the College Football Playoff Selection Committee. There does not appear to be a truly elite team that has emerged so far in the regular season, and outside of perhaps Baylor, nobody has truly run through its schedule without breaking a sweat.

The end result is that there are a lot of potential candidates for those final four spots, and the committee will have to determine which bad results were due to those 18- to 24-year-olds simply playing bad on a Saturday evening and which good results were due to that same group punching above its weight. The line between great and good has seemingly never been thinner than it is this year.

Look no further than two teams that turned in some of the most surprising results of Week 7: Stanford and Michigan State.

The Cardinal blew the brakes off a solid UCLA team (ranked in the Top 10 just a few weeks ago) on Thursday night to complete their transformation from puzzling national dark horses to full-on playoff contenders. The offense that looked flummoxed against Northwestern in the opener is suddenly fun and wide-open. Running back Christian McCaffrey isn’t the typical bell cow many associate with the program, but he’s turned into a home run threat every play and a legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate.

How should the committee sort out where the Cardinal fall in the rankings they will release next month? It’s hard to get that image of the team playing Northwestern out of your head, but it’s also not hard to argue that they have played the best football in the country after that game.

“People panic all the time. Whenever something doesn't happen, people panic. Coaches and players can't panic,” David Shaw said Thursday. “We have won a lot of football games here playing the right way, playing smart football, playing good football, and it's hard for the outside world to understand it. Sometimes you don't play well.”

Stanford didn’t play well at all against Northwestern. Since then, it has been a different story. The committee's task is identifying when teams play their best and also figuring out when to overlook the times they don't play well at all. Throw out the high result and the low one, and you might just get a sense of how good a team actually is.

The Cardinal appear to be pretty good by that measure and have a nice path to the playoff if they win the deep Pac-12 and beat the similarly constructed Notre Dame to end the year. Add in a potential win over Utah in the conference title game, and the team will certainly have a resume that stacks up against any.

Michigan State won’t have quite the same quality of wins, but it has proved to be pretty good and, crucially in this day and age, pretty lucky, too. The preseason hype around the Spartans has no doubt skewed everybody’s opinion, leading us to think it is a legitimate threat to Ohio State in the Big Ten, but it simply hasn’t played up to that level.

The only really comfortable win of the year came against Air Force, and the Spartans have sneaked by both Rutgers and Purdue with late-game defensive stands. They were not the better team for 59:50 against rival Michigan but still made maybe the play of the season in order to snatch a victory away from their in-state rivals.

They say it’s better to be lucky than good; that just might be the case with the Spartans.

When it comes to the committee, though, it’s hard to slot Michigan State anywhere near the playoff by simply being lucky. 

We have just over two weeks until the committee meets for real and we get our first sense of its thinking when it comes to who’s good and who’s just OK. That line is thinner than ever in 2015, though, which makes for a difficult job in sorting it all out.

Good luck, committee members, and no pressure.

 

Stats of the Week

— Houston QB Greg Ward Jr. has tied the AAC’s single-season record for rushing touchdowns (14) in just six games. He’s also second in the league in passing efficiency.

— Rutgers trailed 52-27 with five minutes left in the third quarter against Indiana and scored 28 unanswered points. The comeback from 25 points down matches the largest in school history.

— In just seven games, TCU receiver Josh Doctson has broken the school record for receiving yards in a season (1,067). In just six games, Baylor receiver Corey Coleman has broken the school record for receiving touchdowns (16). The Biletnikoff Award will likely go to one of those two Big 12 wideouts.

— Mike Leach and Mark Dantonio both picked up their 100th career victories. The Michigan State coach never led until the final play of the game in his win, while Leach notched back-to-back Pac-12 wins for the first time in two years.

— Kansas State’s shutout at the hands of Oklahoma was the first time they’ve been blanked at home since 1991. The Sooners allowed just 110 yards to the Wildcats.

— Wisconsin’s past three opponents (Iowa, Nebraska and Purdue) have run just 20 plays on the Badgers’ side of the field.

— Iowa has two roads wins over ranked opponents for the first time since 2002.

— Alabama’s defensive backs had more yards against Texas A&M than the Tide’s receivers. The secondary also outscored the Aggies offense on Saturday thanks to their school-record three pick-sixes.

 

Quote of the Week

 

Tweet of the Week

 

Play of the Week

 

Sound from Saturday

 

Pre-Snap Reads

Georgia Southern at Appalachian State

It says plenty about the Week 8 slate that this Sun Belt tilt is one of the best games of the weekend, but make no mistake about it: The stakes are high for this contest, which will likely determine the conference. Georgia Southern still hasn’t lost a Sun Belt game this season, so don’t be surprised if they keep that streak going another year by getting a big road win behind running back Matt Breida.

 

Texas Tech at Oklahoma

If you like offense, be sure to tune in for this one, as neither team will be able to turn this into a defensive struggle. The Sooners appear to have regained momentum after that disastrous loss to Texas, and Baker Mayfield will no doubt have a little extra juice going as he faces his former team. It’s in Norman, so Oklahoma will be the pick, but the Red Raiders won’t go quietly.

 

Texas A&M at Ole Miss

This is the only matchup between Top 25 teams? One would think the Rebels are ready to bounce back after that loss to Memphis, but there shouldn’t be much confidence in that, especially with Robert Nkemdiche looking questionable after suffering a concussion last week. If Kyle Allen and Kyler Murray don’t throw more than two interceptions, the Aggies should respond to the disaster at Kyle Field last week and remain in the hunt in the SEC West.

 

Bryan Fischer is a national college football columnist for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter at @BryanDFischer.

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B/R Recruiting Notebook: 5-Star Taking His Time, 4-Stars Plan Visits

The good news for North Torrance High School fans in Torrance, California: Mique Juarez is 100 percent focused on getting his football team as far as possible. And as a dual-threat quarterback and recognized, 5-star linebacker, that's news that will make many Californians smile.

The bad news for the recruiting world: It's going to have to wait for Juarez to choose his future college destination. At least for now.

Juarez, a statistics-driving quarterback at North Torrance who also is ranked the nation's No. 2 outside linebacker and No. 17 overall player, said on Sunday that recruiting is taking something of a back seat for the time being. The one-time USC pledge, who decommitted on Oct. 13, said his process is wide open and that he doesn't have a timetable on anything except helping North Torrance win a state championship.

"I stand [equal] with everyone," Juarez said of the schools recruiting him. "Right now, all of the colleges, I'm interested in. I'm focused on school and my ACT so I can graduate early."

Juarez, who has nearly 20 reported offers, has plans on taking the ACT Saturday. Perhaps after that, recruiting can become something of a priority. Juarez has multiple schools after him heavily, including UCLA, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Ole Miss and others.

The winning school ultimately will get a do-it-all player who can be beneficial on both sides of the ball. In addition to being one of the nation's best outside linebackers, Juarez is showing his skills at quarterback, accounting for 20 rushing and 17 passing touchdowns this season. Two weeks ago, Juarez put on a show by scoring seven touchdowns—four via the pass, two via the run and another on a 90-yard kickoff return—against Centennial High School out of Compton, California.

His playmaking ability is no joke, which is why he's such a wanted athlete. Unfortunately for college coaches, Juarez is adamant about taking his time with recruiting.

"No visits are set yet," he said. "I'm still looking into who to consider."

One thing Juarez does know is that he has an idea of what to look for in a program. In addition to playing for a team that competes each game, Juarez said he wants to be around like-minded players—guys who have the same goals as him on the football field.

"I'm looking for brotherhood," Juarez said. "I'm looking for people who want to get better [as a team]. No individuals.

 

Baylor? Out of state? Where will WR Duvernay go?

Sachse, Texas, wide receiver Devin Duvernay hears it all the time: He's a Baylor commit waiting to happen.

When Donovan Duvernay, Devin's twin brother, committed to Baylor on Sept. 21, fans already had Devin penciled to wear Baylor green and gold next season. After all, the two are extremely close and have been athletic teammates since they were 4.

Devin, however, isn't one to completely tip his hat on his future. He's also one who is making it a priority to weigh all of his options—particularly the out-of-state schools. Duvernay has taken official visits to Ohio State and Alabama, and this weekend could be Oklahoma's turn for an official visit.

"Right now, I'm just slimming everything down. I've got about six or seven schools I'm looking at," Duvernay said. "I'm taking my officials and trying to make my decision by either the beginning of next month or the end of this month."

Duvernay said he's a fan of Oklahoma's new offense and its offensive coordinator, Lincoln Riley. He's taken an unofficial visit to Norman, Oklahoma, and this weekend's game atmosphere is expected to be electric, as the Sooners host Texas Tech's high-powered offense.

Last week, Duvernay visited Alabama and defined it as "life-changing." He was a fan of the area atmosphere and the overall campus.

"It was a great experience; I loved it," he said. "I had a good talk with [head] Coach [Nick] Saban. I know that [wide receivers] Coach [Billy] Napier is recruiting me really hard."

As for Baylor, Duvernay said he's "always liked Baylor," and that hasn't changed. Baylor is expected to receive an official, and LSU, Ole Miss, Arizona State and TCU are candidates for that fifth and final official. LSU actually was supposed to be Duvernay's first official, but he had to postpone it.

If Baylor is his final choice, he will team up alongside his brother. The idea of being teammates in football and track is intriguing to both brothers, as they are track stars at Sachse. Devin won the 100-meter dash at the Texas Class 6A state meet with a blazing time of 10.27 seconds.

"I've felt strong about them for a while," he said of Baylor, "but at the end of the day, it's still my decision and wherever I feel I should be. Going there is a possibility, but I'm exploring the options that I have. I want to make sure I make the right decision."

 

ATH White taking his time, 'getting the pros and cons'

Consider Springhill, Louisiana, athlete Devin White as another athlete not in a rush to make any major decisions regarding his recruiting.

The 4-star athlete, praised for his ability to line up at multiple spots at 6'1" and 255 pounds, said he is still taking his time with his process and doesn't plan on making any major decisions any time soon. White is looking more and more like someone who will make his decision on national signing day.

"I'm just visiting schools and getting the pros and cons right now," he said.

LSU, Alabama and Florida State have been places White's visited since the beginning of fall. His trip to Florida State the weekend of Oct. 10 was an official visit, one in which he gave high marks.

"A 10," White said, grading the visit.

White doesn't have any set plans for his next official, but LSU, Alabama and Arkansas are schools that he is strongly considering. He is an athlete who can play running back, wide receiver or even an H-back on offense, and linebacker, safety or even a rush defensive end on the other side of the ball. Few players his size have 4.49-second speed in the 40-yard dash.

The school that gets the talented athlete is still to be determined, but White has an idea of what he wants in a winning program.

"It's all about personal relationship," he said. "It's all about whatever school feels like a family to me and who I can trust."

 

Where will Wisconsin look to replace RB Williams?

Ohio State retook the top spot in the latest 247Sports team rankings after 4-star, New London, North Carolina, running back Antonio Williams committed on Sunday. The one-time Wisconsin commit told 247Sports' Bill Kurelic that Ohio State was a "better situation" for him and his family.

That's great news for Ohio State, but what does that mean for Wisconsin? The Badgers still have 4-star, all-purpose back A.J. Taylor committed, as Taylor is the top-ranked player from Missouri. But going forward, look for Wisconsin to try to land a second running back.

One player to keep an eye on is Theo Anderson, a 3-star back from Largo, Florida. Anderson has nine reported offers, including Wisconsin, and he's been in contact with a few members of the Badgers coaching staff. Anderson also has offers from Pitt, West Virginia and Central Florida.

And then there's 4-star back Robert Washington out of Mount Holly, North Carolina. Washington committed to Syracuse in April but decommitted in August and has a lot of reported offers on the table, including one from the Badgers. Playing in the Big Ten could be a good look for the 5'10", 215-pound back.

 

Sleeper alert: Texas RB goes for almost 400

The Colony, Texas, produced NBA star Deron Williams. It also has 3-star running back Khalil Banks, who only has five offers and none of them being Power Five. After last week, look for Banks to be a blip on the radar of a few more colleges.

Banks rushed 26 times for 398 yards and six touchdowns in a win against Liberty High School in Frisco, Texas. Through eight games this season, Banks has rushed for 1,610 yards and 23 touchdowns. He is averaging better than seven yards per carry.

Per Rivals.com, Banks has offers from Colorado State, Arkansas State, Fresno State, Army and Lamar. Banks told Michael Florek of the Dallas Morning News that Colorado State is his favorite thus far.

A 6'1", 205-pound running back, Banks also is receiving interest from Texas A&M, Arizona State, Arkansas, Kansas State, Purdue and Tennessee.

 

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

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Trey Marshall Injury: Updates on FSU CB's Biceps and Return

Florida State cornerback Trey Marshall will miss the remainder of the 2015 season due to a torn biceps suffered in Saturday's 41-21 win over Louisville.

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FSU Loses Starting Nickelback For SeasonMonday, Oct. 19

Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher confirmed Marshall's status Sunday in an interview with Warchant Radio, per Gene Williams of Rivals. Marshall, a sophomore, ranked sixth on the team with 21 tackles and also had a sack and pass defensed.

A starter on nickel packages, Marshall left in the first quarter Saturday and did not return. Fisher indicated that freshmen Tarvarus McFadden and Marcus Lewis may have an opportunity to replace him and will be getting more playing time going forward. McFadden was the nation's 15th-ranked player and third-best cornerback in the Class of 2015, per 247Sports. The recruiting service ranked Lewis the No. 139 player and No. 8 overall athlete.

The Seminoles, who moved to 6-0 and are currently ranked ninth nationally, will be able to withstand Marshall's injury if McFadden or Lewis makes good on his hype. Both Tyler Hunter and Javien Elliott attempted to sub into his spot against Louisville to varying degrees of success. Hunter, a senior, struggled before being replaced by Elliott, who may get the first crack at the starting job after recording an interception.

Either way, losing Marshall is not going to help Florida State contend for a national championship, regardless of how his replacement performs. 

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B/R CFB Committee: Playoff Predictions Heading into Week 8

Week 7 of the college football season is now in the books, and as upsets loom larger, the playoff picture is becoming clearer by the week.

Who is the top team in the country? Which teams will fill the other three spots in the College Football Playoff?

Watch as Bleacher Report College Football Analysts Barrett Sallee, Adam Kramer and Michael Felder examine the potential playoff scenarios heading into Week 8 in the video above.

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