NCAA Football News

Texas vs. Oklahoma: Live Score and Highlights

Oklahoma 7 Texas 3 - Late 1st Quarter

The Oklahoma Sooners and the Texas Longhorns battle in the annual Red River Rivalry matchup. It may not be the biggest game on the Big 12 schedule this weekend, but try telling that to the folks in Dallas.

We’ll be following along the action on ABC and be providing in-game analysis and commentary.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Bowl Predictions 2014: Latest Projections Before Saturday's Week 7 Action

Most college football fans will agree that last week’s action was some of the wildest and most unpredictable in years, but the focus for many has turned to the 2014 bowl predictions heading into Week 7.

With top programs like Oregon, Alabama, Oklahoma, Texas A&M, UCLA and others losing in Week 6, how each bounces back and how the current projections have the college football postseason shaking out will be the top storyline on Saturday.

Here are the latest bowl predictions as college football fans prepare for Saturday’s action.

 

 

Predicting the Four Teams That’ll Make the Playoff

As seen from the turnover at the top of the polls, predicting the College Football Playoff is a difficult task. One constant this season has been the Florida State Seminoles holding the top spot in the rankings.

Despite a slow start to the year, defending Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston is starting to regain his form and the trust of his coaching staff. If the Florida State roster begins to find its rhythm, the rest of the sport should take notice. The defending national champions have depth on both sides of the ball and have showcased the tenacity needed to be victorious again.

The biggest key for the Seminoles is the favorable schedule. If FSU can make it past Notre Dame on Oct. 18, there will be no ranked teams on the schedule for the remainder of the season. Florida State has the ability to run the table and would ensure a spot in the postseason if the team was to go undefeated.

Another team with the chance to make it into the playoff is the Auburn Tigers. The program sits at No. 2 in the AP rankings but has a tough test against Mississippi State on Saturday. If Auburn can manage to beat the Bulldogs on the road, the school will be on the right path toward a championship.

Unfortunately for Tigers fans, the schedule for Auburn is much more difficult than Florida State’s. After playing Mississippi State this week, battles against South Carolina, Ole Miss, Texas A&M, Georgia and Alabama could make or break the team’s postseason chances.

For now, though, Auburn is a serious postseason contender. If the program makes it through its brutal schedule, expect the Tigers to be the No. 1 seed heading into the playoff.

One team not getting the respect it deserves nationally is the Baylor Bears. With an offensive unit ranked first in the country, averaging 51 points per game, and a defense that is ranked fifth, allowing just 12.4 points per game, Baylor is on the cusp of entering the national championship conversation.

The Bears take on a tough TCU team this week and have the chance to prove they are legitimate contenders. The schedule gets tougher starting in Week 7, and Baylor will have to make it past Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Kansas State on top of TCU to remain perfect and have a shot at making the postseason.

After watching the Big 12 struggle for the most part this season, the Bears have a legitimate chance to run the table and secure a spot in the College Football Playoff.

The fourth team for the postseason is the most difficult to predict, but Mississippi State is playing so well right now that the program could overcome a loss to Auburn in Week 7 and still be considered a challenger for the national championship.

The Bulldogs have a tough schedule playing in the SEC. Even with a potential loss to the Tigers on Saturday, Mississippi State still has marquee games against Alabama and Ole Miss left to bolster its regular-season resume.

With wins over LSU and Texas A&M earlier this year, the team’s track record would be impressive enough to earn the fourth spot in the postseason.

Regardless of how the playoff shakes out, fans of the sport are excited to see a genuine postseason format instead of the archaic BCS system that held college football hostage for too many years.

 

*Stats via ESPN.com.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

College Football Rankings 2014: Final NCAA Overview of Week 7 Standings

After one of the wildest weekends in recent college football history, the schedule for Week 7 has the potential to be just as wild with five games featuring two ranked teams going head-to-head on Saturday.

With Auburn squaring off against Mississippi State, Ole Miss going to battle with Texas A&M, Big 12 rivals TCU and Baylor in a marquee matchup and more, college football fans will be treated to an enthralling slate of action.

Here are the full rankings heading into Week 7 and the matchups college football fans can’t miss.

 

*Full Amway coaches, Associated Press and Bleacher Report Top 25 polls found here.

 

Week 7’s Top Matchups

There are several intriguing college football battles this weekend, but none have the mainstream appeal that the SEC meeting between Auburn and Mississippi State is garnering.

Auburn is one of the top teams in the nation. With a stellar defensive unit only giving up 14.4 points per game and an offense scoring an average of 42 points per game, it will be tough to stop the Tigers. Mississippi State won’t be afraid of Auburn, though.

After beating LSU and Texas A&M in back-to-back weeks, the Bulldogs have confidence and momentum on top of raw talent. While Auburn has the defensive edge (Mississippi State allows 19.4 points per game), the Bulldogs have an offense just as talented compared to the Tigers, averaging 42.6 points per game.

Auburn defensive tackle Gabe Wright told the Associated Press, via the Washington Post, about the problems his team could face against Bulldogs quarterback Dak Prescott:

He puts a tremendous amount of pressure on you. He is a dual-threat quarterback and just saying that, I think that in itself already speaks volumes. Dual-threat means he can both run and pass. And he’s mentally capable to run their offense now. I think he’s more comfortable now.

The resulting war on Saturday could produce the most interesting game of the week.

Another SEC battle worth watching is the red-hot Ole Miss Rebels taking on the Texas A&M Aggies. After Texas A&M lost to Mississippi State last week, a second loss to a team from Mississippi may be too much for the Aggies to handle. The Rebels are coming off a huge win over Alabama and should be able to put Texas A&M away.

The next intriguing game will be the Big 12 battle between the Baylor Bears and the TCU Horned Frogs. The fast-paced, high-scoring offense of the Bears is the best in college football with an average of 51 points per game, but the defense is vastly underrated, allowing just 12.4 points per game.

Baylor hasn’t played a team as good as TCU this season, though. The Horned Frogs took down the Oklahoma Sooners in Week 6, and their 12th-ranked offense and seventh-ranked defense will give the Bears the toughest test they have faced so far this season. The winner of this matchup will gain instant credibility among College Football Playoff voters.

One matchup not getting the love it deserves is the Oregon Ducks against the UCLA Bruins. The Ducks have been one of the best teams in the nation, but a tough loss to Arizona last week has many fans souring on Oregon’s national championship hopes. UCLA is also coming off a loss to Utah, and the resulting matchup will be two ranked teams looking to rebuild their postseason resumes.

There are also several other marquee matchups fans can enjoy—including Arizona vs. USC, Georgia vs. Missouri and many others—but the aforementioned games will steal the mainstream spotlight this week.

With a serious chance of fireworks in each game, college football fans can’t miss Week 7’s action.

 

*Stats via ESPN.com.

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Washington State vs. Stanford: Score and Twitter Reaction

Much of the talk entering Friday night's Pac-12 showdown between Washington State at Stanford centered around Cougars quarterback Connor Halliday after his record-setting performance the week prior. Stanford quarterback Kevin Hogan decided to steal the show.

The No. 25 Cardinal outlasted Washington State at home Friday, 34-17 in a game that Stanford controlled from the opening drive. Hogan led the way offensively, going 23-for-35 through the air for 284 yards and three touchdowns to overcome Stanford's early red-zone troubles.

ESPN College Football summed up the result:

Headed by Mike Leach's typical aerial assault, Washington State (2-5, 1-3 Pac-12) refused to go away by trimming the deficit to one possession in both the third and fourth quarters. Halliday went 44-for-71 passing with 303 yards, two touchdowns and one interception while the Cougars ran it just 10 times total.

But when they needed a score to threaten the lead, Stanford's defense simply rose to the task by forcing eight Washington State punts. 

Here's a glance at the final box score:

Stanford (4-2, 2-1) may have been looking forward to coming home after losing at Notre Dame last week, but that feeling changed after seeing Halliday break a NCAA record with 734 passing yards—in a loss—against Cal. After watching film all week, the Cardinal players had a good idea what they were up against.

"It's hard to get reads (on Halliday),"Stanford cornerback Alex Carter told San Francisco Chronicle's Tom FitzGerald. "You just have to focus on your assignment and play your man. Hopefully, he makes a mistake here and there, and we can capitalize on that. I'm going to lock down whoever I’m on."

Stanford's preparation showed off, and one of the nation's traditional defensive powers flexed its muscle early. After its offense drove down the field for an opening field goal, the Cardinal allowed just one Cougar first down before forcing a punt.

Stanford quickly jumped to take advantage. A pair of rushes from Remound Wright and Christian McCaffrey set up Hogan's 39-yard touchdown pass to Eric Cotton.

The game wasn't five minutes old, but Stanford had raced out to a 10-0 advantage.

Halliday quickly mounted an answer, throwing 11 times on an 11-play, 75-yard drive capped off by a nine-yard touchdown to Vince Mayle. But that was all the success Washington State would find early.

The Cougars punted on six of their seven first-half drives, and Stanford's Ty Montgomery had a second-quarter punt return that set up Hogan's second touchdown toss of the game to put the Cardinal up 17-7 at the break.

It wasn't Stanford's lead, but rather its red-zone shortcomings that were the story from the opening half. The Cardinal's last two drives entered the red zone, with only a fumble and a missed field goal to show.

ESPN Stats and Info noted Stanford's horrible red-zone rating:

Jon Solomon of CBS Sports added some context:

Washington State strung together a 14-play drive early in the third quarter, but a brutal intentional grounding penalty on Halliday pushed the Cougars out of the red zone and set up a field goal to make it a 17-10 contest.

Just when Leach and Co. were knocking on the door, Hogan politely shut the door. The Cardinal answered with a nine-play, 56-yard drive. And most importantly, they got it done in the red zone—Hogan threw for his third touchdown on a four-yard toss to Greg Taboada.

David Lombardi of ESPN noticed they let Hogan be Hogan, but most importantly they made it a 24-10 contest:

But as Cal would tell you, Washington State is never out of a game when Halliday is slinging the ball and orchestrating long drives. 

Another lengthy march down the field for the Cougars came, running only twice while throwing 14 times. After a five-minute drive, Halliday escaped the pocket and threw across the field on fourth-and-goal with River Cracraft open for a three-yard touchdown that made it a one-score game yet again.

Rob Rang of NFLDraftScout.com broke down how Halliday looked on the play:

Tom Fornelli of CBS Sports gave a more blunt description:

Washington State didn't have its typical success offensively, something that was expected given the step-up in competition. But that required the defense to step up and force stops in key moments, which it proved unable to do.

Stanford again got the ball back with a one-possession game, and again drove down the field for a 34-yard field goal that made it a double-digit game. Halliday got behind the chains on his next attempt to go down the field, and Stanford took the air out of the ball and pounded the rock late to score a late touchdown that put the game out of reach.

While Washington State's defense couldn't rise to the occasion, Stanford's unit did constantly and was able to thwart the nation's hottest passer. College GameDay noted Stanford's 2014 success:

The defensive success is all well and good, but Stanford still has two early-season defeats to make up for—as told by its plummet to No. 25 in the rankings. With ranked opponents in three of the Cardinal's next four games, however, a 17-point win over a dangerous divisional foe could be just the morale boost they need.

Stanford faces No. 20 Arizona State next weekend in a matchup that will decide which of the two squads has a serious chance at contending in their respective division.

As for Washington State, it has already fallen three times in conference play. After nearly toppling Oregon early in the season, Leach and his coaching staff now look for answers heading into a bye week.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Oklahoma State Cowboys vs. Kansas Jayhawks: Complete Game Preview

The Oklahoma State Cowboys came out of the gate a little sluggish last weekend against the Iowa State Cyclones, but right before halftime the kicking game gave them a much-needed boost to give them a 13-6 lead going into the half.

Ultimately, the Pokes managed to turn on the jets in the second half and ride the momentum generated by the special teams to a 37-20 victory.

Kansas hasn't been as fortunate, as the Jayhawks have lost their two Big 12 games by a combined 42 points so far. That's led to Charlie Weis losing his job and has put this team into a bit of turmoil.

On paper, this looks like an easy win for the Cowboys; however, this has the potential for a classic trap game on the road.

Can Oklahoma State take care of business and improve to 5-1 before it hits the meat of its schedule? Read on to find out.

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College Football: Top 5 Games to Watch in Week 7

It will be another exciting week of college football, especially with both Mississippi schools looking to earn another huge victory for the second week in a row. 

As if there wasn’t enough interest in the SEC West already, No. 2 Auburn travels to Starkville to face No. 3 Mississippi State, while No. 3 Ole Miss heads into hostile Kyle Field in hopes of knocking off a No. 14 Texas A&M team that knows how to score points. 

With much of the focus on games in the SEC West, the SEC East could be decided this week with No. 13 Georgia out to prove it can take down No. 23 Missouri without one of the best players in the country, Todd Gurley

No. 12 Oregon and No. 16 UCLA will surprisingly limp into the Rose Bowl, after both suffered crushing defeats at home last week. The winner in this matchup will stay in the hunt for a national title. 

Speaking off joining the national title hunt, the winner of No. 9 TCU and No. 5 Baylor in Waco, Texas, will be the front-runner to win the Big 12 and join the national title race as well. The Horned Frogs could put themselves in position to win their first conference title since 2011, which was when they were still a member of the Mountain West Conference, with back-to-back wins over Oklahoma and Baylor.

On a Saturday that could feature many high-scoring outcomes, here are the top five games to watch in Week 7.   

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Jameis Winston Faces Disciplinary Hearing over 2012 Sexual Assault Allegations

Mark Schlabach of ESPN.com reported that Florida State notified quarterback Jameis Winston on Friday that he will face a disciplinary hearing regarding sexual assault allegations from 2012.

Florida State’s interim president Garnett Stokes and vice president for student affairs Mary B. Coburn sent a letter to Winston and his attorney stating that the quarterback could be charged with as many as four violations of the school’s student conduct code.

Two of those four potential violations involve sexual conduct.

The next step for Winston is to contact the school's Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities and schedule an information hearing. That hearing will address the impending student conduct hearing that could impact Winston's future with the football team and university.

What's more, Florida State is being investigated by the Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights about whether the school did enough to protect the Title IX rights of the woman who accused Winston.

The letter sent Friday differs from what Winston’s attorney, David Cornwell, tweeted out earlier:

On the field, Winston was part of the Florida State team that finished the 2013 season undefeated and won the national title. The defending Heisman Trophy winner was also suspended during the Clemson game earlier this season for yelling an obscene phrase on campus. Florida State, absent its star QB, narrowly escaped that game with a victory.

This latest development comes after Kevin Vaughan of Fox Sports reported the following Friday:

“Florida State University officials and Tallahassee police took steps to both hide, and then hinder, the criminal investigation into a rape allegation against the school's Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Jameis Winston last fall, a FOX Sports investigation has found.”

The entire Vaughan report can be found here.

It remains to be seen what the immediate and future fallout from these latest developments will be for the school and quarterback.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

College Football Week 7: Live Scores, Highlights and Reaction

Can anything top last week?

We’re certainly hoping Week 7 comes close to the wild chaos that took place last Saturday.

There are a number of games capable of going down to the wire, so get ready for another fun weekend.

It all starts off with No. 23 Missouri hosting No. 13 Georgia on CBS at noon ET. The Bulldogs will be out for revenge after last year's loss, but things could get difficult without Todd Gurley playing. 

Immediately following on the same network at 3:30 p.m. ET is the top game of the weekend, with No. 2 Auburn traveling to No. 3 Mississippi State.

Will Dak Prescott and the Bulldogs continue to climb, or can Nick Marshall prove Auburn is still the team to beat in the SEC? 

Out West, No. 18 UCLA hosts No. 12 Oregon at 3:30 p.m. ET on Fox, and No. 10 Arizona hosts the USC Trojans at 10:30 p.m. ET.

Who will reign supreme in the Pac-12 after this weekend? 

The premier night game on Saturday pits No. 3 Ole Miss against No. 14 Texas A&M. The Aggies fell flat a week ago, but look for them to come out strong against the talented Rebels.

Who will be on top in the SEC when Week 7 is all said and done? 

Keep it locked right here with Bleacher Report for the latest scores, updates and highlights from Saturday’s action.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

FSU, Tallahassee Police Reportedly Hindered Jameis Winston Investigation

Fox Sports' Kevin Vaughan unearthed documents that reportedly detail the ways in which Florida State University and Tallahassee police impeded and obstructed the investigation into the sexual assault charges levied against quarterback Jameis Winston:

University administrators and Winston’s attorney, Tim Jansen, had a head start on the state attorney in Tallahassee responsible for investigating and prosecuting serious crimes. Florida State administrators, for instance, had all the police reports at least four days before State Attorney Willie Meggs was handed the case.

FSU's police chief reportedly obtained a copy of police reports from the night in question and forwarded them to a member of the school's athletic department. Eventually, the reports wound up in Jansen's hands.

Meggs doesn't take offense to the fact that FSU police had the reports, but "he remains mystified" that campus police would then give the report to university administrators.

According to Vaughan, Jansen had the reports before Meggs interviewed two key witnesses. The witnesses were FSU football players who signed affidavits after speaking with Jansen.

"I became pretty much of the belief that somebody had gotten his reports to his defense attorney, because he had already talked to our witnesses," Meggs said. "If he didn’t know about it, how does he know to interview them and get affidavits?"

Vaughan reported that on Jan. 11, 2013, Scott Angulo, a Tallahassee police detective, made his boss aware of the allegations of the incident from Dec. 7, 2012. Angulo's memo highlighted all of the pertinent info about Winston and also included that "Winston is a FSU football player."

Winston spoke with local authorities on Jan. 22, who were then contacted by somebody claiming to be "the athletic directors assistant." Winston had an interview with the police scheduled for the next day, but Jansen arrived in his place for what was labeled "a fact-finding mission" by a detective on the case.

"There was a whole long litany of things that we would have done," Meggs said to Fox Sports. "You don’t call the defendant to make an appointment to talk about putting him in jail."

Walt Bogdanich of The New York Times wrote in April that local police mishandled the investigation in a few very important ways:

After the accuser identified Mr. Winston as her assailant, the police did not even attempt to interview him for nearly two weeks and never obtained his DNA.

The detective handling the case waited two months to write his first report and then prematurely suspended his inquiry without informing the accuser. By the time the prosecutor got the case, important evidence had disappeared, including the video of the sexual act.

According to Bogdanich's timeline of the investigation, Angulo closed the case on Feb. 11, 2013, without interviewing key witnesses. In November 2013, nearly a year after the incident allegedly occurred, investigators began interviewing key witnesses and obtained Winston's DNA.

The investigators only pursued a case against Winston after being pressed by local reporters, per Grantland's Bryan Curtis.

"It deserves an explanation from the cops," Curtis wrote. "Their explanation, in turn, deserves our scrutiny. There are unimportant mysteries and important ones. This is one of the latter."

Vaughan's report also alleges that FSU campus police told local reporters that an investigation of Winston wasn't underway, which it in fact was.

He explained that "those police officials were involved in updating Florida State administrators on the case and helping formulate the school's public relations response in the first days after the explosive story became public."

Florida State has already released a statement about what it felt was "misinformation in the media," per The Associated Press, via ESPN.com:

Florida State said the only people aware of the incident before January 2013 were Tallahassee police, campus police and the victims advocate program. The decision not to seek charges was made after Winston's lawyer said the Tallahassee Police Department was 'no longer pursuing the case,' and Winston and his roommates said the sex was consensual.

In December 2013, Meggs gave a press conference announcing that the state attorney wouldn't pursue sexual assault charges against Winston. With no legal action taken against Winston, the FSU star finished the 2013 season, winning the Heisman Trophy and leading the Seminoles to the national championship.

Winston has since been caught on video stealing crab legs from a local Publix grocery store and was suspended by the school for his team's game against Clemson after yelling an obscene phrase on the Florida State campus.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

5 Mississippi State Players Auburn Missed on in Recruiting

Mississippi State aims to keep momentum moving forward against another heralded SEC opponent Saturday when reigning conference champion Auburn comes to town.The Bulldogs are enjoying a historically successful season, feature a Heisman Trophy-contending quarterback and can take things to another level by sending the Tigers home with a loss.

Head coach Dan Mullen has a reputation for finding under-the-radar recruits who surprise people with their collegiate success. Several of those athletes are from Alabama and had opportunities to attend Auburn while others simply never received offers from the Tigers.

Here's a look at five such Bulldogs who should have some extra incentive in this highly anticipated matchup.

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Georgia Fans Build Shrine for Todd Gurley Outside of Sanford Stadium

Georgia Bulldogs fans are doing whatever it takes to lift Todd Gurley's suspension.

They've already tried signing a White House petition, but now they're hoping this shrine outside of Sanford Stadium will do the trick.

Although it's probably all for naught, the one-time Heisman favorite will probably appreciate the gesture.

Keep praying, Georgia fans.

[Twitter, h/t USA Today's For The Win]


Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Bowl Predictions 2014: Updated Playoff Picks Heading into Week 7

When 11 of the Top 25 teams in the Associated Press Poll lose in a single week, it is bound to turn the College Football Playoff race upside down. 

That is exactly what happened in the aftermath of Week 6, when the Nos. 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18 and 19 teams all lost. Predicting the four playoff spots is anyone’s guess now, as mainstays like Florida State remain among the leaders alongside Cinderella stories from Mississippi State and Ole Miss. 

We recently projected Georgia as the fourth playoff team after the Week 6 upsets, but that now changes after the latest news regarding star running back Todd Gurley, via national college sports writer Bryan Fischer:

Now that Georgia is out of the field, read on for a refresher on the other three squads and to find out which team takes the Bulldogs' spot.

 

Playoff Projections

Sugar Bowl: Florida State vs. Oklahoma

Rose Bowl: Michigan State vs. Alabama 

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

 

Teams

Florida State

As long as Florida State continues to win, regardless of how impressive the final deficit is, it is going to crack the field of four.

It’s not only because the Seminoles are the defending champions, either. An undefeated regular season would include wins over Notre Dame, Oklahoma State and Clemson, as well as victories in a number of trap games against the likes of Florida, Miami, Virginia and Louisville. What’s more, it is hard to argue with Florida State’s overall talent level if we are discussing best teams.

The Notre Dame game stands out as the one remaining significant challenge. It will help Florida State that it is at home, but it is more important that it is Notre Dame’s first true road game. That’s right, the Fighting Irish only play four true road games this season, and the first one just so happens to come against the defending champs.

The thinking here is that Notre Dame is unprepared to challenge Florida State into the fourth quarter.

 

Oklahoma

The key here for Oklahoma—or anyone with plans on winning the Big 12—is the Pac-12 beating itself up.

We are working under the assumption that the SEC champ and Florida State are already taking two spots, so the Pac-12 champion having multiple losses would be critical for the eventual Big 12 and Big Ten champions.

The Sooners will bounce back from their loss to TCU quickly because contests against Kansas State, Baylor and Oklahoma State are all at home. Oklahoma will take care of business in Norman while squads such as Oregon, UCLA, Arizona State, Utah, Stanford and Arizona are all handing each other multiple losses.

Head coach Bob Stoops also had an answer to anyone who thinks the Sooners have a relatively easy schedule, via Jason Kersey of The Oklahoman:

To me, strength of schedule is the biggest issue. Some conferences play nine conference games; some play eight. That’s a big deal, who you’re playing in those other four or other three games. 

We’re playing nine [conference games] and Tennessee. We just had Notre Dame and Florida State, outside of our nine conference games. Hopefully that should make a difference, if you’re all winning.

 

Michigan State

The Pac-12 decimating itself will have the same impact for Michigan State’s playoff chances as Oklahoma’s.

The Spartans will move up the polls as the SEC and Pac-12 teams accumulate losses, and that loss to Oregon will fade into the memory of early September. Michigan State should handle Purdue, Indiana, Michigan, Maryland, Rutgers and Penn State as well, which means the team will have to beat Ohio State to reach the playoffs.

The Buckeyes and quarterback J.T. Barrett look much better now than they did at the start of the year, but that game is in East Lansing under the lights. The prediction here is that Michigan State prevails with a strong defense against the young Ohio State offense, which will give it an excellent opportunity to reach the playoffs.

Assuming the Spartans will easily win out is perhaps showing a lack of respect for the Big Ten as a whole, but we are clearly not the only ones who think Michigan State will crack the playoff field, as Joe Rexrode of the Detroit Free Press pointed out:

 

Alabama

Georgia was projected here largely because we were working under the assumption that the SEC West teams would beat each other up.

However, now Todd Gurley is suspended, the thought is that Alabama will emerge from the SEC West and beat the SEC East champion. The SEC has built up so much capital the past few years—with seven straight national titles before Florida State won last season—that the champion will reach the playoffs, even if that team has two losses.

Alabama gets Auburn, Mississippi State and Texas A&M at home, while Auburn has to go to Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Georgia and Alabama. That is an absolutely brutal road schedule for the Tigers.

What’s more, Ole Miss still has to go to Texas A&M and play Auburn and Mississippi State, while Mississippi State has to go to Alabama and Ole Miss on top of a home game with Auburn.

None of these schedules are easy by any stretch (such is life in the SEC West), but Alabama faces all its challenges at home. Not to mention the fact that we are talking about the program that has dominated college football recently and will likely be playing with a chip on its shoulder for the rest of season after a heartbreaking loss to Ole Miss. 

The result will be a playoff spot for Nick Saban’s bunch.

 

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Treon Harris Reinstated After Accuser Withdraws Sexual Battery Allegations

Freshman quarterback Treon Harris was reinstated to the Florida Gators football team Friday after the sexual battery allegation against him was withdrawn by the accuser.

Barrett Sallee of Bleacher Report passed along the entire statement from head coach Will Muschamp as his team prepares to take on the LSU Tigers Saturday night:

Harris was originally suspended by both Florida and the University Athletic Association on Monday in light of the university police launching an investigation into an accusation that Harris sexually assaulted a female student early Sunday.

Jeff Barlis of ESPN.com reports the incident apparently took place at an on-campus residence hall.

School spokeswoman Janine Sikes also released a statement Friday, via Barlis: “This means she is not pursuing criminal charges against him at this time but maintains the right to do so in the future.”

As Muschamp mentioned, Harris will not play in Saturday’s home game against the Tigers.

Harris has completed four of six passing attempts this season, with two of the completions going for touchdowns. He helped the Gators overcome a nine-point deficit on the road against archrival Tennessee on Oct. 4 by making plays with his legs and avoiding turnovers.

Jeff Driskel will likely be the starting quarterback for Florida on Saturday, despite the fact that he threw three interceptions against the Volunteers and nearly cost his team the opportunity to win.

Harris certainly had some momentum on the field after digging Florida out of that early hole in his most recent performance, but there are far more important things at matter here than the game of football.

It remains to be seen when Harris will return to the field.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Alabama vs. Arkansas: Should Tide Fans Be Worried About Facing Razorbacks?

The Alabama Crimson Tide should have their hands full with the Arkansas Razorbacks on Saturday.

Last season, such a remark would have been met with laughter and amusement from the Tide faithful. This time around, nobody’s laughing.

It’s funny how much a year can change.

 

2-Headed Rushing Attack

If there’s one thing the Razorbacks do exceptionally well, it’s run the ball.

Through five games, the team boasts the No. 7-ranked rushing attack in the nation, racking up an average of 316.6 yards per game. Furthermore, only Georgia Southern has more rushing touchdowns than Arkansas’ 20.

Stellar sophomore Alex Collins leads the way, rushing for 621 yards and six scores on 86 carries. The Fort Lauderdale, Florida, native has topped 130 yards three times this season and rushed for no fewer than 68 yards in a game this year.

After Collins, Jonathan Williams picks up the slack, rushing for 486 yards and eight touchdowns on 66 carries.

Combined, the duo makes for quite the formidable 1-2 punch. Just ask Texas Tech—Collins and Williams paced an attack that combined for 438 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground.

AL.com's Andrew Gribble hints at a war between two strengths:

Something's got to give when Alabama’s No. 3-ranked run defense meets the toughest rushing attack it's faced this season.

 

Injuries Racking Up

The loss to Ole Miss didn’t just affect the Tide in the standings, it also resulted in some additions to their injury list.

Running back Kenyan Drake suffered a broken leg and is expected to miss the rest of the season, per AL.com's Michael Casagrande. Although he was considered Alabama’s third-string back, Drake still managed to find the end zone four times on the ground and twice in the passing game.

Other casualties from Saturday’s game include starting linebacker Denzel Devall and starting center Ryan Kelly. Kelly is expected to miss a couple weeks and Devall is set to miss roughly three to four weeks.

Playing against the Razorbacks at full strength would be hard enough.

 

Road Woes

The Tide have played in two games away from home—Week 1 vs. West Virginia and last week against Ole Miss—and struggled in both.

Quarterback Blake Sims also seems to be affected by the road. Those two games are the only two occasions during which he has failed to throw a touchdown, tossing two interceptions instead.

Given that Arkansas is better at stopping the run than the pass, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Saban turn to Sims to win the game with his arm.

Against the Rebels last weekend, Sims did an okay job managing the game. But when he was tasked with winning the game—on Alabama’s final drive—he showed his inexperience, tossing a game-ending interception.

If the Tide want to avoid a second straight upset, Sims will need to get over his road woes.

 

All stats, recruiting information and rankings used in this article are courtesy of cfbstats.com and 247Sports.

For complete coverage and everything college football, you can reach Sebastian on Twitter and via email at Sebastian.LenaBR@gmail.com.

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Notre Dame CB KeiVarae Russell Will Miss Entire Season Due to Academic Scandal

If Notre Dame is going to make a run to the College Football Playoff, it will have to do so without cornerback KeiVarae Russell. He was one of the players suspended before the season after an investigation into academic scandal and has been told he's out all year. 

According to Keith Arnold of NBC Sports, Notre Dame's Honor Committee informed Russell of his season-long suspension:

The preseason All-American candidate has received news from Notre Dame’s Honor Committee and addressed his teammates with the news on Thursday, two different sources confirmed.

Russell plans on returning to South Bend and the Irish football team. There has been speculation that the third-year cornerback was considering a jump to the NFL after the season, though that move isn’t happening now according to sources.

Douglas Farmer of 247Sports had Russell's full statement:

Per Adam Shear of Fox 28 in South Bend, Russell and the other four players who were suspended are still enrolled at Notre Dame:

Russell did generate some controversy on October 2 when Matt Fortuna of ESPN.com reported the star cornerback was venting his frustration with the school and the process of getting reinstated in an Instagram post that has since been deleted:

I killed my meeting; I was so prepared and ready and was able to refute damn near every suspicion they had. Described details of assignments thoroughly so they couldn't say I didn't do it AND THEY STILL SAID MY DECISION WONT COME UNTIL ALL 5 OF US (and some other minor hearings) ARE DONE. Decision MIGHT come next week, not even 100% it's tough to understand these people.

While Russell's absence does hurt Notre Dame on the field this year, it has to provide head coach Brian Kelly some relief knowing he will likely have arguably his best defensive player back for the 2015 season. Russell tallied 51 tackles and one interception last year. 

The Fighting Irish have been able to withstand the loss of Russell and the other four suspended players thus far, going 5-0 and moving up to No. 6 in The Associated Press rankings. They will play North Carolina this week before a trip to Tallahassee against Florida State on October 18. 

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2-Year-Old Can Name All the Pac-12 Conference Teams

Who wants to memorize a multiplication table when you can memorize college football helmets?

This adorable two-year-old can name all 12 teams in the Pac-12 conference.

It's safe to say he's starting his college football fandom at an early age.

[Pac-12]

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Tennessee Football: Ranking the Volunteers' Team MVP Candidates Through 5 Games

Although the season isn't quite halfway over, there are already a few clear MVP candidates emerging for the University of Tennessee Volunteers.

With the No. 3 third-down defense in the country and the No. 2 overall defense in the SEC East, per NCAA.com statistics, defensive coordinator John Jancek's unit is significantly outperforming the team's offense. 

That's why the majority of the team's MVPs at this point come from the defense. It doesn't take a stat sheet for even the most casual fans to know that the Tennessee defense has improved significantly since its disastrous outing in 2012 and ho-hum performance in 2013.

Every unit is clicking and making tackles, from the front four to the linebackers to the secondary.

While there's still time for the Vols' offensive players to begin making a case for MVP status, the list at the moment belongs almost entirely to the defense.

Here are the team's top MVP candidates through five games of the 2014 season. 

Begin Slideshow

Notre Dame Football: Game Against Tar Heels More Than an FSU Dress Rehearsal

You can't blame Notre Dame fans for looking past North Carolina.

With a trip to Tallahassee, Florida, just eight days away, the college football world will focus on the showdown between the Irish and Florida State as soon as Saturday night is over in a renewal of a rivalry that literally started the traveling madness known as ESPN's College GameDay.

So while Irish fans might be checking hotel prices and looking at flights—it's ugly, Domers—Brian Kelly's squad welcomes Larry Fedora and his Tar Heels to town.

It's a game that counts just as much as the rest of them, Kelly reminds us. A week after being taken to the limit against Stanford, the Irish could leave Notre Dame Stadium 5-1 if they think they're in for a dress rehearsal before the Seminoles.

During Kelly's Tuesday press conference, the Irish head coach paid North Carolina's team the ultimate compliment, comparing the Tar Heel roster to his.

"In a lot of ways, [they're a] very similar team," Kelly said. "Young, athletic, a lot of very good athletes."

Some may take that as lip service. Since the Tar Heels gave up 70 points to East Carolina and enter Saturday as the worst power-five defense in college football, you couldn't blame them.

But the Tar Heels are the perfect foil for a Notre Dame team that's played down to its level of competition these past few seasons.

While Brian Kelly has won 26 of his last 31 games, the Irish have spent a great deal of that time living on the edge. As BlueandGold's Lou Somogyi points out, Notre Dame has one of the unlikelier seven-game winning streaks you could ever imagine after eking out a three-point victory over Stanford:

The 17-14 victory versus Stanford this past weekend marked the seventh consecutive time Notre Dame won a game that was decided by four or fewer points, with the game on the line right through the final possession. Just how hard is that to do? Well, consider that it tied a Notre Dame record for such victories.

In 2012, Notre Dame won all three contests decided by four points or less: Purdue (20-17), BYU (17-14) and Pitt (29-26 in triple overtime).

The Irish also won all three in 2013: Michigan State (17-13), Arizona State (37-34) and USC (14-10). The three-point conquest of Stanford this year continues the trend where Notre Dame has found a knack to win such games. It also should be noted that all but the Arizona State game were at home, and even ASU was at a neutral site for the Shamrock Series.

The first time a seven-game winning streak in these outcomes occurred was from 1937-39 under head coach Elmer Layden. That was snapped with a 7-6 loss at Iowa.

Those wins against Purdue, BYU and Pitt all should serve as notice that any underdog can come into Notre Dame Stadium and challenge the Irish. So if Notre Dame fans want to see the type of big game they're hoping for next Saturday, the football team will need to take care of business this weekend.

That means ignoring the distractions that continue with five suspended teammates still awaiting their fate, according to ESPN.com's Matt Fortuna.

It also means getting an offense back on track after struggling to run the ball and battling turnovers in the past two weeks.

As Notre Dame continues to ascend the polls and earn its place in the water-cooler discussion surrounding the College Football Playoff, it's natural that distractions will continue to occur. However, Kelly feels confident that his team will continue to stay focused, as it's a young group that's found a way to eliminate distractions that started before preseason camp even opened.

"There are too many guys in here that just want to play," Kelly said this week. "Look, they know that they are ranked. But they are more interested in playing the game than anything else. The veterans that we have here have been down this road before.  They have been undefeated, and they know what it takes and what you have to put in, to beat an opponent when you're at Notre Dame."

Surrounded by Saturdays featuring ranked opponents, the North Carolina game has been circled as a potential trap since we started talking about this schedule months ago.

If the Tar Heels matchup is a trap game, it's one we've been staring at for an awful long time.

But with a trip to Tallahassee and a potential Game of the Year candidate on the horizon, Irish fans are already hitting the fast-forward button.

Let's just hope Brian Kelly's team isn't doing the same thing.

 

Unless otherwise noted, all quotes obtained firsthand. 

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Miami Football: Beating Cincinnati Necessary Step Toward Salvaging Season

The 3-3 Miami Hurricanes limp into a bout with the Cincinnati Bearcats not necessarily in a must-win situation but more adequately termed a better-not-lose outing.

Fortunately, the 'Canes get a minor break from an important clash, since a meeting with Cincinnati is the final nonconference matchup of the regular season. Knocking off the Bearcats is, however, a necessary step toward salvaging the year.

A devastating 10-point loss to Georgia Tech last weekend has Miami clinging to an ever-so-small chance at the Coastal Division title, one that won't come without serious help from elsewhere.

Here we go again.

It's the middle of October, and the perennially underachieving 'Canes have already dropped two ACC contests with a road trip to Virginia Tech on deck and Florida State looming.

At the absolute best, Miami is looking at nine wins—including a bowl victory—but seven or eight are the most likely finishes. Regardless, the Hurricanes must open the second half of their season with a victory, because falling to Cincy could completely derail the team.

Entering a deafening Lane Stadium as losers of two straight would be mentally challenging enough already but dropping a pair of winnable games prior to battling Virginia Tech might prove disastrous.

Simply put, the Hurricanes must return to the form they displayed in a solid win over Duke, and Cincinnati offers a perfect opportunity to take the recovery a step further.

The Miami offense has yet to play a complete game, stumbling on third down, in the red zone, dropping open passes or committing costly turnovers.

"We as an offense just haven't executed the way we should. There's no way to explain it," Duke Johnson said, per Christy Cabrera Chirinos of the South Florida Sun Sentinel. "We're just not doing what we're supposed to do and what we know we're capable of doing."

Positives certainly exist: Brad Kaaya has clearly improved, and Johnson is still turning nothing into something. Phillip Dorsett and Clive Walford have combined for 32 receptions, 30 of which have resulted in first downs or touchdowns. True freshman Braxton Berrios has earned a starting role.

But the negatives have affected the 'Canes more: A terrible conversion rate on third down. Settling for field goals. Few explosive runs for Johnson. Stacy Coley's unforeseen slump. A negative-four turnover margin.

Granted, Miami has struggled in every facet of the game, so there's no single unit shouldering the majority of blame. A portion absolutely falls on the coaches but even the Hurricanes stars have had underwhelming seasons.

Ereck Flowers hasn't been the dominant force he was striding toward becoming, Tracy Howard lost his starting job and Denzel Perryman has put together a few stinkers.

Nevertheless, Miami is a more talented team than Cincinnati, and the Bearcats are likely to be without starting quarterback Gunner Kiel.

"He's been struggling to get his passing arm over his head," head coach Tommy Tuberville said, according to Tom Groeschen of the Cincinnati Enquirer. "Last time I looked, it's hard to throw a deep ball underhanded."

Should Kiel be officially unavailable, the 'Canes would ultimately be gifted an opportunity to dominate on both sides of the football, something they really need before conference play resumes.

Each team remaining on the schedule is more than capable of defeating a squad hampered by issues on offense, defense and special teams, especially when Miami doesn't know which problems will make an appearance during a given week.

Realistically, the Hurricanes might lose to Virginia Tech, Florida State and another team, so being upset by the Bearcats could send 2014 to the trash. They don't have time to be dejected about what's gone wrong, they just have to fix it—starting this weekend.

"There's no heads down in the locker room," Berrios said, per Matt Porter of the Palm Beach Post. "There's no pity. There's no feeling sorry for us. We're a team. We're bonded together...let's go get it."

Miami has no choice other than to "go get it," lest it enter the season's final five ACC games teetering on the brink of potentially failing to even qualify for a bowl. It shouldn't happen given all the circumstances, but the 'Canes still cannot afford a loss to Cincinnati.

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Oklahoma vs. Texas: Trevor Knight's Legs, Not Arm, Key to Sooners Victory

When the Oklahoma Sooners and Texas Longhorns meet Saturday, expect quarterback Trevor Knight to be released from his harness.

Thus far, the Sooners coaching staff has veered on the safe side when it comes to the sophomore, limiting the amount of running he does. However, following last weekend’s loss to TCU—a game in which Knight struggled heavily in the pocket—Oklahoma will have to undergo drastic changes in its playcalling if it wants to keep its College Football Playoff hopes alive.

With that in mind, expect Knight to run wild this weekend.

If the Sooners coaching staff needs a push in that direction, it just needs to take a look at the Longhorns defense. Through five games, the unit ranks No. 29 in total defense (333.6 YPG) and No. 5 against the pass (134.6 YPG), allowing just four passing touchdowns and intercepting nine passes.

As for Texas’ weakness? Yep, you guessed it: Stopping the run.

Opponents have taken advantage of the Longhorns’ front seven, rushing for an average of 199.0 yards per game—Texas ranks No. 99 against the run—while finding the end zone six times. In fact, all but one opponent has racked up 170 yards rushing or more against the Longhorns.

It’s not like Knight, a San Antonio native, doesn’t have the talent to pull off a big running day.

Over six appearances during his freshman campaign last season, Knight rushed for 445 yards and two touchdowns on 67 carries. On three occasions he rushed for 80 yards or more, including topping the century mark twice.

In comparison, through five games, Knight has only rushed for 130 yards and two touchdowns on 27 carries. In all but one of those games, Knight didn’t attempt more than five rushes, including failing to record a single one against West Virginia on Sept. 20.

If it isn’t broke, why fix it?

“We don’t want him hit as much as we can avoid it,” head coach Bob Stoops said earlier this season, per The Oklahoman’sJason Kersey. “You see the quarterbacks that are out in NFL and college. The more he can avoid it, the better.”

The alternative hasn’t worked so well for Oklahoma this season.

Knight has thrown for 1,374 yards, five touchdowns and five interceptions on 54.5 percent passing. He has thrown for multiple touchdowns in a game only once this year, and his completion percentage is a career worst and ranks ninth in the 10-team Big 12.

And this poor play is supposed to change against a secondary that held Baylor’s explosive quarterback Bryce Petty to just 111 yards on 7-of-22 passing last Saturday?

During the first half of Saturday’s loss to TCU, Knight actually ran the ball quite frequently. Whether it was by design or not, he made plays after plays, picking up big first downs. His mobility played a large role in the Sooners holding a 31-24 lead early in the third quarter.

However, the team surprisingly turned away from the run after taking the lead. That resulted in a disastrous stat line for Knight over his final eight possessions, as he threw for just 48 yards and two interceptions—one returned for a touchdown—on 6-of-19 passing while being sacked twice.

If Oklahoma wants to get back on the winning track, the coaching staff is going to need to fully trust in Knight.

Whether they like it or not, their season depends on it.

 

All stats, recruiting information and rankings used in this article are courtesy of CFBStats.com and 247Sports.

For complete coverage and everything Oklahoma football, you can reach Sebastian on Twitter and via email at Sebastian.LenaBR@gmail.com.

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