NCAA Football News

College Football Odds: Championship Weekend Betting Lines Open at Sportsbooks

The Ohio State Buckeyes will be without quarterback J.T. Barrett when they face the Wisconsin Badgers in the Big Ten Championship Game Saturday as three-point underdogs at sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark.

The Heisman hopeful was lost to a broken ankle in OSU’s 42-28 win over Michigan on the weekend. With third-stringer Cardale Jones at the helm, the 11-1 Buckeyes recorded their 10th straight win straight up, but failed to cover as 21.5-point favorites over the rival Wolverines, posting their third straight against-the- spread loss.

The 10-2 Badgers will be gunning for their fourth Big Ten title in five years and enter Saturday night’s Wisconsin vs. Ohio State betting matchup at Lucas Oil Stadium riding a seven-game win streak. However, they have failed to cover in their last two games, are just 5-7 against the spread this season, and are a dismal 1-6, SU and ATS, in their last seven meetings with the Buckeyes.

The 11-1 Oregon Ducks will be gunning for their second Pac-12 conference title in four years when they take on the Arizona Wildcats as early 14-point favorites on the college football betting lines.

The Ducks are riding a seven-game SU and ATS win streak, outscoring opponents by an average margin of 24.3 points. However, it was the 10-2 Wildcats who handed the Ducks their only SU loss of the season, a 31-24 victory as 21.5-point road underdogs in Week 6.

The Wildcats are 5-2 SU but only 3-4 ATS since beating Oregon, with the UNDER also going 5-2 in those games.

The 12-0 Florida State Seminoles will be shooting for their 29th consecutive SU win when they meet the 10-2 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in the ACC Championship Game as slim 3.5-point favorites at the sportsbooks.

While the Noles have been a SU juggernaut, they have consistently disappointed bettors this season, going 3-9 ATS. FSU is also 0-5 ATS in its last five against the Jackets according to the Odds Shark College Football Database, while going 3-2 SU.

Georgia Tech is 5-0 SU and ATS in its last five, posting three outright wins as underdogs while holding opponents to just 18.2 points per game.

Elsewhere for this weekend, Alabama opened as a narrow three-point favorite over Missouri in the SEC Championship Game, while Marshall is pegged as a 14.5-point favorite over Louisiana Tech in the C-USA Championship Game, and Northern Illinois is favored by 2.5 points over Bowling Green in the MAC Championship Game.

GameHome Line Central Florida at East Carolina -6.5   Northern Illinois at Bowling Green 2.5   Arizona at Oregon -14   Iowa State at TCU -33   Southern Methodist at Connecticut -10.5   Louisiana Tech at Marshall -14.5   Houston at Cincinnati -7   Oklahoma State at Oklahoma -19.5   Missouri at Alabama -3   Temple at Tulane 3.5   Kansas State at Baylor OFF   Florida State at Georgia Tech 3.5   Wisconsin at Ohio State 3   Fresno State at Boise State -17  

Odds, stats courtesy of Odds Shark.

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Should the Oregon Ducks Fear Missing the College Football Playoff?

Oregon has earned itself a rematch with the only team to hand the Ducks a loss this season, the Arizona Wildcats. The teams square off in the Pac-12 Championship Game, but they also are both fighting for CFP position.

Bleacher Report College Football Analysts Michael Felder and Adam Kramer discuss whether Oregon should be worried about the rematch against Arizona. 

Who will win the Pac-12?

Watch the video and let us know! 

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Hugh Freeze or Jim McElwain: Which Is the Better Coach for the Florida Gators?

With the firing of Will Muschamp, the Florida Gators have an opening at head coach. Florida sports one of the richest recruiting trails, so that means the coaching rumors will be flying.

Bleacher Report College Football Analysts Michael Felder and Adam Kramer debate which candidate is better suited for Gainesville.

Who is the better candidate: Hugh Freeze or Jim McElwain?

Check out the video and let us know!

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USC Football: Best Bowl Game Options for the Trojans

On the heels of a 49-14 blowout of Notre Dame to cap the regular season, USC is rolling into its first bowl game under head coach Steve Sarkisian with serious momentum. And Sarkisian plans to capitalize, no matter where the Trojans are headed. 

"Looking forward to seeing what bowl game we're going to," he said. "And wherever we play, putting our best foot forward." 

The competitive nature of this year's Pac-12 South race muddles the bowl picture. Arizona and Utah bookend the division at two and four losses, respectively, while Arizona State, UCLA and USC all finished with three conference losses. 

That means USC is an option for any number of bowl games. 

As the Trojans await their postseason fate, running back Justin Davis offered a prediction. 

"Wherever we play, we're going to bring all we've got," he said. 

 

Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl

Saturday, Dec. 20, 3:30 p.m. ET 

Sam Boyd Stadium, Las Vegas

Mountain West vs. Pac-12 

Few visitors to Sin City leave as winners, but USC hit the jackpot in the 2013 Las Vegas Bowl. Quarterback Cody Kessler's four touchdowns in a 45-20 rout of Fresno State were, at the time, a personal record.

He's since surpassed that mark repeatedly, using last year's stellar bowl-game performance as a springboard into an outstanding 2014. 

The Mountain West Conference champion is contracted to the Las Vegas Bowl, but should league-leading Boise State earn the Group of Five's automatic bid into one of the New Year's Six bowls, 10-win Colorado State is likely the next team in line.  

 

Foster Farms Bowl

Tuesday, Dec. 30, 10 p.m. ET 

Levi's Stadium, Santa Clara, California

Big Ten vs. Pac-12 

Popular opinion among bowl prognosticators is that USC is headed for the Bay Area. CBSSports.com's Jerry Palm, SB Nation's Jason Kirk, Phil Steele and ESPN.com's Brett McMurphy and Mark Schlabach all project the Trojans for this game. 

There may be a consensus that this is USC's bowl-game destiny, but opinions on its opponent deviate vastly. 

Projections include Rutgers, Maryland, Penn State and Nebraska—a group running the gamut for the Big Ten, but with the commonality of likely being underdogs against USC. 

Though predictors are nearly unanimous in their projection, it's hardly a guarantee USC plays here. Outlooks are contingent on Arizona receiving an invitation to one of the New Year's Six games. Should the Wildcats slip out of that picture, however, the Pac-12's bowl landscape changes dramatically. 

Additionally, nearby Stanford could be an attractive option for the Foster Farms Bowl after its convincing win over UCLA, as Tom FitzGerald of the San Francisco Chronicle notes. 

When the Trojans last played in this game, it was the Emerald Bowl, held in San Francisco's AT&T Park, and USC's 24-13 win there over Boston College marked the official end of the Pete Carroll era. 

This year is the game's first in the new Levi's Stadium, home to the Pac-12 Championship Game. Perhaps playing here could serve as foreshadowing for the Trojans' 2015 campaign? 

 

National University Holiday Bowl

Saturday, Dec. 27, 8 p.m. ET  

Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego

Big Ten vs. Pac-12 

Despite USC's proximity to San Diego, the Trojans have never played in the Holiday Bowl. Kirk Kenney of U-T San Diego writes that that could change this year.  

Another first in store for this year's installment of the Holiday Bowl is the Big Ten replacing the Big 12 after two decades. The Big Ten last participated in this game in 1994. 

For Pac-12 teams, the Holiday Bowl is ahead of the Foster Farms Bowl in pecking order. That could land either UCLA or Arizona State—whichever does not go to the Valero Alamo Bowl—by virtue of its head-to-head wins over USC. 

However, both UCLA and Arizona State played in the Holiday Bowl in the previous two years and both were blown out. 

 

Quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise cited.  

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5 College Football Recruits Who Had an Explosive Week

This exhilarating high school football season continues to supply us with highlights during the final stretch of championship chases across America. Thanksgiving weekend annually reignites by pitting crosstown rivals against each other, capping off the careers of many players no longer in playoff contention.

However, a small percentage of standouts is set to spend the next phase of life competing in college. Each week, we keep a close eye on prospects who performed at a high level.

We continue our cross-country tour in the wake of a busy holiday weekend, focusing on recruits who could someday come to a campus near you.

 

4-star 2016 wide receiver Tren'Davian Dickson, Navasota High School (Navasota, Texas)

Despite his status as just a high school junior, Dickson already demands consideration as an all-time Texas great. The 6'1", 178-pound playmaker captured the state's single-season touchdown record Friday with a four-score performance against El Campo High School, per Kevin Askeland of MaxPreps.

Dickson moved beyond the 27-year-old Texas mark of 33 touchdown receptions and tied the national record with score No. 34 in a 56-34 victory. He finished the contest with seven catches for 204 yards, according to Tim Schnettler of The Eagle.

His junior season could still last multiple games, but Dickson's production is already astounding. Through 13 unbeaten contests, he has 69 receptions for 1,819 yards and 34 touchdowns.

Dickson committed to Baylor this summer but understandably continues to draw interest from other programs.

 

3-star 2015 athlete Deshawn Capers-Smith, Warren Easton High School (New Orleans, Louisiana)

The versatile playmaker is expected to land in the defensive backfield when he arrives on campus. For now, he's making an immense offensive impact for an attack that also features 5-star wide receiver Tyron Johnson.

Capers-Smith completed 19 pass attempts for 311 yards and three scores in a 55-7 victory over Benton High School, per Brian Perroni of 247Sports. The resounding win sends Warren Easton into state semifinal action.

The 5'11.5", 173-pound prospect picked apart the opposing defense, launching touchdown strikes of 22, 30 and 43 yards. Capers-Smith also showed off his wheels, tallying 78 rushing yards and another two scores on the ground.

He committed to Texas A&M in February after weighing scholarship offers from Missouri, Boise State, UCLA and Texas Tech.

 

3-star 2015 quarterback Nathan Elliott, Celina High School (Celina, Texas)

The 6'1.5", 195-pound passer put up huge numbers in an impressive playoff victory over Iowa Park High School. Elliott, a North Carolina commit, connected on 17 of 27 attempts for 226 yards and six touchdowns, according to Chris O'Dell of the Celina Record.

He pushed the team to its 11th win of the season and helped establish a 35-0 lead that eventually resulted in a 56-27 drubbing of Iowa Park. Elliott also established a new career milestone, surpassing 100 career touchdown passes in the process.

The four-year starter has a chance to pile on that total as state playoffs continue.

"That's a great thing," Celina coach Bill Elliott told O'Dell. "That's something that's special for him, but I know he's more about the team winning than anything else."

He pledged to UNC in April, spurning offers from Arizona State and Army, among others.

 

Unrated 2016 linebacker Taylor Sweatt, Argyle High School (Argyle, Texas)

Expect to hear plenty more about this rangy Texas defender if he continues to put out efforts like the one he produced in a narrow playoff victory Kennedale High School. Sweatt secured 26 total tackles, including a huge stop behind the line of scrimmage to halt a fake punt attempt, per Michael Florek of The Dallas Morning News.

Among his production, 17 tackles were of the solo variety. He now has 155 tackles and six sacks as a junior.

“He’s a fast, explosive player," Argyle coach Todd Rodgers told Florek. "He wears a lot of hats on our football team. ... He’s a good, disciplined player and he was able to come up with some critical plays in the right positions of the game.”

A lack of ideal collegiate size—Sweatt stands 5'9", 180 pounds—has inhibited his ability to draw expansive high-level FCS interest to this point. But another year of physical maturation and on-field production could alter the situation.

 

3-star running back Ryquell Armstead, Millville High School (Millville, New Jersey)

The 6'0", 200-pound workhorse rusher led the Thunderbolts to a Thanksgiving victory over rival Vineland High School. Armstead lifted his team to a late rally, scoring a pair of second-half touchdowns in the 44-40 win, per Jason Mazda of the Press of Atlantic City.

He finished with four total touchdown runs—including two from more than 30 yards out—to punctuate a successful high school career. He collected 318 yards on 28 carries, adding a huge tackle for loss on defense during Vineland's final drive of the contest.

Armstead set the tone early, rushing for 218 yards before intermission.

"Just following my linemen," he told Mazda. "Reading the cuts and just making it happen."

Armstead committed to Temple in June over Old Dominion and Virginia.

 

Recruit ratings courtesy of 247Sports.

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Daron Payne Sets Decision Date: Which Program Is Best Fit for 5-Star DT?

After an electric Iron Bowl last weekend, the next important battle between Alabama and Auburn will be the race to land 5-star defensive tackle Daron Payne.

According to Andrew Bone of Rivals, the state of Alabama’s top prospect in the 2015 cycle announced he will make his decision on Jan. 2 at the Under Armour All-America Game.

While schools such as Florida State and Mississippi State have tried to enter the picture with Payne, the Birmingham native has consistently gone on record stating that the Tide and the Tigers are his top two schools.

Complicating the matter for Payne is that he is choosing between a team he grew up rooting for versus the team that is undoubtedly college football’s biggest juggernaut on the recruiting trail. 

“I grew up an Auburn fan, so I’ve been wanting to play for them all of my life,” Payne told Bleacher Report earlier this year. “Then I got the Alabama offer, and then (it’s like) everybody wants to play for ‘Bama.” 

But which in-state power is the best fit for the 6’2”, 325-pounder?

 

Alabama

Payne was one of the many top recruits in Tuscaloosa for Alabama’s 55-44 win over Auburn last weekend.

With both schools battling it out for his signature, the latest installment of the Iron Bowl gave Payne a chance to view his favorites in action.

According to BamaOnLine’s Trevor Hewett (subscription required), he was impressed with what he saw from the Tide’s defensive line. Before the game, he also spent some time with Nick Saban—who reiterated his desire to land him is still strong.

“They were just telling me how happy they were to have me down there and how much they wanted me to come there,” Payne told Hewett. “Coach Saban told me how they can make me a better person and how they would use me and stuff like that.”

While the Tide’s depth chart is loaded, Payne has a skill set that resembles former Tide standout defensive linemen such as Josh Chapman, Marcell Dareus and Jesse Williams.

Additionally, Saban has proved that he wouldn’t hesitate to play freshmen if they are ready—with current nose tackle A’Shawn Robinson, who played extensively as a true freshman last season, being the best example of this.

Given that Tuscaloosa is less than an hour away from his home in Birmingham, Alabama, proximity is another plus in the Tide’s favor.

 

Auburn

While the Tide have a lot of positives with Payne, so too do Gus Malzahn and the Tigers.

As noted by Bryan Matthews of AuburnUndercover (subscription required), Payne called Auburn his “dream school” early in the process.

Perhaps more importantly than that, the biggest selling point for the Tigers is the fact that they can offer Payne early playing time—something that Malzahn was sure to remind him of on his visit last month, according to Keith Niebuhr of 247Sports (subscription required). 

“They’re still pitching to me that I can come in and play big, make a big impact,” Payne told Niebuhr.

According to Ourlads, three of Auburn’s top four defensive tackles are seniors—which sheds light on how big the need is for the Tigers at defensive tackle in the 2015 cycle.

The biggest negative for the Tigers is the fact that Malzahn fired defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson shortly after the Iron Bowl loss to the Tide, per Phillip Marshall of AuburnUndercover.

With the future of the defensive staff up in the air, Auburn’s new defensive coordinator will have little time to develop a relationship with one of the top remaining prospects on the board for the Tigers.

 

The Pick

Both schools offer Payne unique opportunities to find success over the next four years.

Alabama has a tradition of sending defensive linemen to the NFL and a scheme that fits Payne’s strengths, while the Tigers have a need for defensive linemen to step in and play right away.

However, with Auburn’s uncertainty among the defensive coaching staff clouding the picture, Payne’s best option appears to be heading to Tuscaloosa to play for the Tide.

 

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

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College Football Rankings 2014: Playoff Predictions and Bracket Projections

As far as the inaugural College Football Playoff goes, rivalry week was as chaotic as advertised.

Granted, the first three slots remain pretty much the same. But for those who experienced the journey firsthand, it sure did not feel like it would turn out that way.

The Alabama Crimson Tide got a near-perfect second half to take down Auburn in the Iron Bowl. Jameis Winston and Florida State yet again were almost upset, this time by in-state rival Florida.

What is so fun about this process at this juncture is the No. 4 slot. A number of teams have a legitimate claim, but one is without a quarterback, one has a loss to another hopeful and that hopeful does not have a stronger track record, while countless others nip at their heels.

Who says this time of year is not fun?

 

Chris Roling Playoff Projections

Sugar Bowl: No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 4 TCU

Rose Bowl: No. 2 Oregon vs. No. 3 Florida State

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

 

Breakdown

Feel free to just jump right into the meat of the matter—that No. 4 spot.

If the playoff starts this weekend, TCU has to be the final team that fends off the field and sneaks into the fray.

One problem—the season still has life.

The Horned Frogs took care of business on Thanksgiving Day with a 48-10 thumping of Texas. Quarterback Trevone Boykin accounted for 233 yards and a pair of scores through the air and 50 more and a score on the ground.

As far as ranked wins go, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, West Virginia and Kansas State is a great resume. Feel free to sprinkle in a nonconference win over pesky Minnesota. Most, including Stewart Mandel of Fox Sports, concur that this is enough to get the Horned Frogs to the postseason:

TCU has plenty of help, though. Mississippi State took a dive last weekend. Ohio State would surely occupy the No. 4 spot, but quarterback J.T. Barrett suffering a season-ending injury has a way of ruining the Buckeyes in the eyes of the committee—unless they pull off an absolutely jaw-dropping performance against Wisconsin with a backup under center.

Baylor is another team out of the Big 12 with some help as of late, though. The Bears got an ugly 48-46 win over Texas Tech last weekend, but keep in mind that means the team still has just one loss and owns a win over TCU.

A win against Kansas State to close the season throws this all for a loop. Yahoo Sports' Pat Forde puts it best:

It is hard to see how TCU does not take care of business against two-win Iowa State, though. Ohio State seems out of the equation, so as long as Baylor looks sloppy once more, TCU figures to hold on to that final spot by way of a superb resume and consistent domination since the lone loss back in mid-October.

The top three slots are not as dramatic.

Like it or not, Alabama is a lock for No. 1. The Iron Bowl was a scare for three quarters and change, but five second-half touchdowns has a way of putting away the opposition. Heisman-contending wideout Amari Cooper placed the team on his back with 13 grabs for 224 yards and three scores in the process.

For as much as folks want to see the SEC cannibalize itself out of the postseason, the Crimson Tide now have wins over Florida, West Virginia, Arkansas, Texas A&M, LSU, Mississippi State and Auburn.

Keep in mind that each of the last five Iron Bowl winners went on to the national championship, where four of them won it all. That trend seems like it will stay alive thanks to an impending matchup with Missouri, a 10-2 team with little offense (ranked 70th nationally) and losses to Georgia and Indiana on the year.

Oregon-Florida State is not the most appealing playoff matchup, either, although anything can happen once both teams are there. 

Winston and the Seminoles are the reason for the negative talk there. The team has now needed late finishes to overcome NC State, Notre Dame, Louisville, Miami (Florida), Boston College and Florida. The national vibe about the team seems to align with a note from ESPN.com's James Walker:

Then again, it is pretty impressive that the Seminoles are talented enough to overcome just 125 passing yards and a career-high four interceptions from Winston.

It may take another late-game miracle to overcome a game Georgia Tech team, though. The Yellow Jackets tout a top-five rushing attack and top-20 offense with recent wins over ranked Clemson and Georgia teams.

The road is much easier for Oregon, a team most figure would have lost by now in past years. This edition is more mature, though, and Marcus Mariota put on a clinic in the Civil War with 367 total yards and six touchdowns to get the Ducks to 11-1.

All that remains now is a chance for the Ducks to exorcise some demons with a win against Arizona to close the season. The Wildcats are the only team to best the Ducks this season, so the heavyweight bout might just be enough for Oregon to jump even higher in the CFP standings—or fall out entirely.

As it stands right now, a game TCU squad would encounter Alabama. With nothing to lose after sneaking in, the Horned Frogs may be a tougher test than most would figure. Given the late-game heroics on a weekly basis by Winston and Co., an encounter with the high-flying Ducks figures to be one of the best games of the year. 

As is always the case, though, all of this is subject to change with just one contest concluding in a certain manner.

 

 

Stats and information via ESPN.com unless otherwise specified.

 

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How Long Will Lane Kiffin Stay at Alabama?

From lightning rod to leader.

That's the journey Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin has embarked on this year.

The former USC and Tennessee head coach took over the Alabama offense under a cloud of doubt.

"Is he really a good offensive mind?"

"Can his personalty mesh with that of head coach Nick Saban?"

"Will his system work with Alabama's personnel?"

The answer to all of those questions is an emphatic "yes," as the Crimson Tide finished the season 11-1 with the second-best offense in the conference (489.3 yards per game), the SEC West crown in hand and a No. 1 seed in the inaugural College Football Playoff within reach.

Nobody expected Blake Sims to be Kiffin's quarterback this year. It was supposed to be Jake Coker. But all the redshirt senior Sims has done is complete 63.1 percent of his passes (207 of 328) for 2,988 yards, 24 touchdowns and seven picks. He finished the season as the most efficient passer in the nation (159.91) and seventh in the nation.

Essentially, he turned into a game manager who would impress even former Tide quarterback AJ McCarron.

Not bad for a dual-threat quarterback who, at one time, played running back for the Crimson Tide.

Kiffin came to Alabama to revitalize his career, and boy did he. The question now becomes, how long will he be there?

According to Michael Casagrande of AL.com, Kiffin is currently working on a three-year deal as Alabama's offensive coordinator, which surely includes some provisions that would allow him to become a head coach if offered the chance.

So where would he go?

Kiffin would seem like a fish out of water at Nebraska and Kansas, and while he'd kill it at Florida, burned bridges from his time at Tennessee likely can't be rebuilt quickly enough for Kiffin to get the job in Gainesville.

If Michigan opens up, he could have a tremendous amount of success there. Like Nebraska and Kansas, though, the personalities may not mesh well between Kiffin and the higher-ups in Ann Arbor.

The openings that are out there now and could pop up this week don't scream Kiffin, so Alabama might luck out and get to keep its suddenly hot offensive coordinator for another year.

The wild card, though, is Miami.

The Hurricanes sputtered down the stretch, losing their final three games to close the season 6-6 and fifth in the ACC Coastal division—one of the worst divisions in FBS. Head coach Al Golden has been in Coral Gables for four seasons, posting a 28-21 overall record and a 16-16 record within the division.

As Luke Stampini of 247Sports.com notes, his resume is comparable to another former coach in the Sunshine State:

Golden is likely safe this offseason but will enter 2015 on one of the hottest seats in America.

The Miami job is one that screams "Kiffin." 

He's an offensive coach who can boost a Hurricanes' offense that finished the regular season ranked 48th (431.0 yards per game), proved that he can adjust his system to the players on the roster and would set the recruiting trail ablaze in talent-rich South Florida.

One more year of success at Alabama would work wonders for Kiffin's job prospects. He'll have to rebuild with a new quarterback and likely without junior wide receiver Amari Cooper and T.J. Yeldon, both of whom are eligible for the NFL draft. 

If he can do it, he'd make himself very attractive to potential suitors, one of which could be Miami.

 

Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer and video analyst for Bleacher Report as well as a co-host of the CFB Hangover on Bleacher Report Radio (Sundays, 9-11 a.m. ET) on Sirius 93, XM 208.

Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. All stats are courtesy of cfbstats.com, and all recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports. Follow Barrett on Twitter @BarrettSallee.

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SEC Championship 2014: Alabama vs. Missouri Odds, Schedule and Prediction

The top-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide and the No. 14 Missouri Tigers both braved the conference slate with just one loss, and various other results have made it quite a worrisome 2014 SEC Championship Game for general fans of the conference.

After Mississippi State's loss to Ole Miss in the Egg Bowl, the SEC's national championship hopes rest solely on the Crimson Tide's shoulders. Missouri will look to play spoiler as the new kids on the block, attempting to thwart Alabama's efforts en route to its first-ever SEC crown in its second season.

The SEC's Chuck Dunlap noted Missouri will be the home team in its dark uniforms, but don't expect a crowd advantage with Alabama's campus more than 400 miles closer to the Georgia Dome:

Gary Pinkel's squad gave Auburn all it could handle and more last year on its way to the national title game, and the Tide won't be expecting anything less Saturday afternoon.

 

When: Saturday, December 6, at 4 p.m. ET

Where: Georgia Dome, Atlanta

TV: CBS

Live Stream: CBSSports.com

 

SEC Championship Odds

Note: Odds courtesy of Odds Shark, last updated Nov. 30 at 11 p.m. ET

 

Preview and Prediction

Alabama knew before taking the field in the Iron Bowl that it would represent the SEC West in Atlanta, but with a national title still to play for, the Tide overcame Auburn's upset hopes and exploded on offense to outscore the Tigers 55-44 and get revenge from last year's debacle—or miracle, depending on what side you're on.

That kept them as the nation's top team, with their only blemish a road loss to Ole Miss, and it sends them to a familiar venue—the Georgia Dome—for the conference title.

Unsurprisingly, their odds of victory improved dramatically after their furious rally against Auburn, per Bleacher Report's Barrett Sallee (via Odds Shark):

Meeting them there is a repeat visitor, with Missouri claiming its second SEC East title in as many seasons. Despite hailing from the far inferior division, the Tigers have posted a strong 7-1 SEC record with an out-of-conference loss to Indiana as the only thing separating them from a (very outside) CFP shot.

The Tigers' most impressive win was a 21-20 road victory over then-13th-ranked South Carolina, which doesn't look so hot in retrospect. But their skill isn't lost on Saban and his staff as they prepare for the game, per the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Dave Matter:

There's no doubt that Missouri has turned heads around the conference, winning both of its must-win contests down the stretch against Tennessee and Arkansas to hold off Georgia for the SEC East crown. 

A somewhat soft schedule for an SEC program had Missouri only facing one team still in the Top 25, and that was a 34-0 beatdown administered by Georgia. But they obviously weren't scared off by the competition a year ago, when the Tigers trailed Auburn by three points entering the fourth.

Missouri's crowd-storming win over Arkansas to clinch the division title had a sprinkle of despair as star rusher Russell Hansbrough was carted off, but Pinkel was optimistic on his chances, per AL.com's Drew Champlin: "Russell had a right ankle sprain. We expect him to practice Tuesday. Like everybody right now, you have bumps and bruises. There's no question about it, it's been a long season. We expect everybody who played this past Friday (to be) ready to play Saturday."

Perhaps even more important against Alabama's stiff defense is the performance of Missouri quarterback Maty Mauk. His midseason struggles went hand-in-hand with his team's, but he's since rebounded with 230 yards or more in three straight contests.

The long ball with Bud Sasser and Jimmie Hunt should be a focal point of Missouri's game plan, after Alabama struggled mightily with Auburn's aerial threats for most of the Iron Bowl.

The offense will need to do as much as it can in its own end to negate the imminent big plays from Amari Cooper and Co., as Pinkel struggled to put words to Cooper's greatness, per Bleacher Report's Marc Torrence:

The first 15 minutes will be beyond crucial for Missouri, who has only been able to play from behind this season if it's by a slim margin. Alabama's offense won't be shut down completely for long, so staying within a score or two of the Tide is a must early on.

The only real chance the Tigers have to stick with the Tide is to find some big plays early on and rely on their menacing defensive line—which features two first-round picks in Shane Ray and Markus Golden. An early lead will put the pressure on Blake Sims to make plays, and that will allow the Tigers pass-rushers to tee off. 

It's just hard to see that happening against this formidable of a unit, however. Missouri's weakness has been deep down the field, and Lane Kiffin has been magnificently drawing up ways for Cooper to get open as of late.

Missouri's stiff defensive line will keep the Tigers in it at halftime, but the Tide will blow it open.

Prediction: Alabama wins, 41-24

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Bowl Predictions 2014: Projections for Selection Committee Bowl Games

With the college football season winding down, most teams know whether they're making a bowl or not. A very small amount still have aspirations of attending one of the high-profile bowls or even the College Football Playoff.

During the regular-season finale for many programs, Mississippi State lost a second game to all but seal its fate. The Bulldogs will likely miss out on a playoff spot, but they still have a lock on a selection committee bowl game thanks to a strong season.

Hoping to grab the reins from Mississippi State are TCU, Baylor and potentially Ohio State in the next week. All three have one more game to play, but the Buckeyes have the most to prove after losing J.T. Barrett for the rest of the season.

Even this late in the season, nothing is locked up for any team heading into conference championships. Prior to the weekend getting underway, here's a look at the latest projections for the selection committee bowl games.

 

Breakdown of Projections

A lot will be settled this weekend, but for now, TCU looks like the best team in the Big 12.

That's a difficult statement for some to swallow given the fact that Baylor defeated TCU earlier this season. But even with that comeback victory, the Bears have hardly been as impressive since that point.

Looking at both teams compared to each other, TCU has a more impressive strength of schedule and didn't lose to West Virginia by 14 points. Cork Gaines of Business Insider notes the crushing loss for the Bears:

However, they might trade places next week depending on how both play in their final games. The Horned Frogs face a weak Iowa State team, while the Bears have one last chance to make a statement against Kansas State.

Speaking of this weekend, the potential top three seeds will all be tested to earn a spot in the playoff. Alabama faces Missouri for the SEC title, but the two biggest games will be taking place in the ACC and Pac-12 championships.

Leading up to the ACC Championship showdown with Florida State, Georgia Tech took down SEC-rival Georgia in a massive day for the conference. Yellow Jackets coach Paul Johnson referenced the 4-0 weekend for the ACC over the SEC:

The ACC Digital Network also noted the statement day for the conference:

Sure, each of those wins were over SEC East teams, but it solidifies the ACC as a strong conference and the Jackets as the No. 2 program. If Florida State is able to take down GT, it would all but guarantee it a shot at a second straight national championship.

On the West Coast, Oregon and Arizona will be a standoff between teams with plenty of recent history. While the Ducks have been a powerhouse in the Pac-12, the Wildcats have had their number with wins in the last two games, as ESPN College Football notes:

Given their seasons, both Georgia Tech and Arizona have a great shot at making it into a selection committee bowl game. Even with a loss to FSU or Oregon, both should have a chance to represent their respective conferences on the national stage.

Baylor can still jump TCU and blowouts for Georgia Tech or Arizona would hurt their chances at a notable bowl game. Perhaps the conference championships will finally go to plan—but chaos still seems likely.

 

Follow @RCorySmith on Twitter.

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Would Alabama Still Make the Playoff Even If Tide Lose to Missouri?

Breaking Bad won the 2014 Emmy Award for "Best Drama Series," even though the best drama series in America is known as "the college football regular season."

If more drama breaks out over championship weekend, Alabama would prefer not to be nominated.

The Crimson Tide enter the SEC Championship Game with the No. 1 ranking attached to their name, an SEC title in their sights and the top seed in the inaugural College Football Playoff within their reach.

What if it slips through their fingertips, though?

SEC East champion Missouri again came out of nowhere in 2014 to claim its second straight division title and will enter the Georgia Dome riding a wave of momentum generated from last weekend's 21-14 win over Arkansas in Columbia.

"Coach [Gary] Pinkel, my old teammate, has done a fantastic job," Alabama head coach Nick Saban said on Sunday. "They have a very good team. It's going to be a real challenge for our team."

If it's too much of a challenge and Missouri—a two-touchdown underdog as of Monday, according to OddsShark.com—springs the upset, what happens to Alabama?

The primary problem for the Crimson Tide would be No. 14 Missouri.

Sure, the Tigers have a loss to woeful Indiana on their resume, but a conference championship and a head-to-head victory over the Crimson Tide on championship weekend would relegate Saban's crew behind Pinkel's in the College Football Playoff pecking order.

Both programs would need a ton of help, and several dominoes around the country would need to fall for the Tide to get in position to make the bracket.

Forget the Pac-12 Championship Game, because regardless of what happens at Levi's Stadium, if Missouri wins the SEC title, the Pac-12 winner will be above both SEC contenders. Oregon would be a no-brainer, and if the Ducks win on Friday night and Alabama loses, they'll likely be the top seed. If Arizona springs the upset, it will have two wins over Oregon on its resume, and that'll be too much for the committee to ignore.

At that point, the Crimson Tide would need three upsets to happen out of the four biggest games of the final weekend of the season.

  • No. 9 Kansas State at No. 5 Baylor
  • No. 3 Florida State vs. No. 12 Georgia Tech
  • Iowa State at No. 5 TCU
  • No. 11 Wisconsin vs. No. 6 Ohio State

If three of those four games are upsets, Missouri would probably jump the winners and Alabama will likely stay ahead of those winners as well. Would Kansas State, Georgia Tech and Wisconsin have championships to boast to the committee? Yep, and that matters.

That might not be enough to get in over a high-profile program like Alabama, though.

At that point, you'd be looking at a playoff that includes the Pac-12 champion, the one team of the four listed that doesn't fall on the final weekend of the year, Missouri and Alabama.

That'd be the only path, and even that path would be littered with multiple-loss teams with conference championships in their back pockets, something that Alabama wouldn't have if it loses to Missouri. 

So Crimson Tide fans, for insurance purposes, you might want to root for more chaos this weekend in places other than the Georgia Dome. If contenders fall, it'd make the Crimson Tide's path to a national title a beat easier and keep the door open if Missouri's magical run continues.

 

Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer and video analyst for Bleacher Report as well as a co-host of the CFB Hangover on Bleacher Report Radio (Sundays, 9-11 a.m. ET) on Sirius 93, XM 208.

Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. All stats are courtesy of cfbstats.com, and all recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports. Follow Barrett on Twitter @BarrettSallee.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Bowl Games Schedule 2014-15: TV Info, Live Stream and More

A handful of teams enter Week 15 with either championships or season-ending showdowns on the horizon, but the remaining bowl-eligible programs wait patiently to find out where their holiday business trips will take them.

There won't be any real answers until Selection Sunday, although bowl representatives have been following teams around all season and preferences are starting to emerge. When it comes down to it, the College Football Playoff results and subsequent New Year's Six selections will have a trickle-down effect on everything else.

Until then, take a look below to figure out the date and time of your team's potential bowl destination.

 

Live Stream: Visit WatchESPN.com for live streaming of games on ESPN/ABC networks, and check out CBSSports.com for streaming of the Sun Bowl.

Bowl schedule information courtesy of ESPN.com.

With just one week to go until the final top four is decided and the CFP field is set, those who called for the four-team playoff are being shown exactly why the new format was created.

Alabama and Oregon have both leapfrogged Florida State in the CFP rankings, despite the fact that the Seminoles have yet to lose a game since their national title run in 2013. 

While Florida State has looked far from unstoppable, as told by its slipping down the rankings, could you imagine the chaos if an undefeated defending champion was left out?

Alas, Jimbo Fisher and Co. will have their chance to defend their title—as long as they can get past No. 12 Georgia Tech in the ACC championship. That will be a tall task for a team that has struggled practically every week, as the Yellow Jackets just knocked off Georgia.

The 'Noles won't be the only playoff hopeful with work to do Saturday in title games. Alabama will go up against No. 14 Missouri, No. 2 Oregon faces Arizona (the only team it has lost to in 2014) and No. 6 Ohio State will face No. 11 Wisconsin.

But if we see some more unpredictable finishes there, the Big 12 could be the big winner as Baylor and TCU both wrap up their nine-game conference slates Saturday, per USA Today's George Schroeder:

After Mississippi State's loss to Ole Miss in the Egg Bowl, the final spot in the top four is likely to open up, and either TCU or Baylor will likely fill that spot. While TCU has been ahead of Baylor in the rankings, the Bears would wrap up the Big 12 title with a win over Kansas State, and that could sway the committee.

Big-time implications can also be found in the Week 15 slate outside of CFP hopefuls. No. 22 Boise State is in position to make a New Year's Six bowl with one more win in the Mountain West title game against Fresno State.

After the Broncos dispatched the Bulldogs 37-27 in their previous meeting, you have to like two-loss Boise State's chances.

When it comes down to it, this weekend's results will have far-reaching implications beyond just the CFP and New Year's Six games. The outcomes will decide whether teams like Ole Miss, Kansas State and Georgia Tech will sneak into one of those games and bump up their conference foes to better bowl games or not. 

Simply put, a fan of any bowl-eligible team can find a reason to root a certain way as championship weekend nears.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

AP College Football Poll 2014: Official Top 25 Rankings and Week 15 Projections

Whether teams are putting the finishing touches on a College Football Playoff resume or simply building momentum for a better bowl invite, there are rarely higher stakes than in Week 15 of the season.

It's conference championship weekend, which means Alabama, Oregon and Florida State will all be put to the test one last time against a dangerous conference foe. Elsewhere, a pair of Big 12 teams in TCU and Baylor will wrap up their nine-game conference slates in the hopes of sneaking into the CFP. 

Needless to say, we may be one week away from the Top 4 being decided, but there is still plenty of work to do for teams in the running. With the stakes higher than ever, let's break down the Week 15 tilts between Top 25 foes.

Full CFB standings can be found at ESPN.com.

 

Note: All odds courtesy of Odds Shark, last updated Nov. 30 at 11 p.m. ET (Kansas State-Baylor spread not yet released).

 

Upset Pick: No. 6 Ohio State over No. 11 Wisconsin

It might not be an upset in terms of seeding, but as far as the odds go, the Ohio State Buckeyes will be pulling off the upset when they slip past Wisconsin to win the Big Ten title.

Of course, a primary reason for the Badgers' favorite status has nothing to do with anyone playing, but someone who won't play. Ohio State's quarterback J.T. Barrett fractured his ankle Saturday against Michigan, per ESPN.com's Austin Ward, and is out the rest of the year.

The Buckeyes have now lost two star quarterbacks in one season, which means they'll now strut out an inexperienced Cardale Jones against Wisconsin, per SportsCenter:

Barrett's fingerprints are all over this offense, having been the one who single-handedly led them back to prominence after early-season struggles. But now that this offense is rolling, who is calling the shots won't matter as much as you think.

Case in point—on his first drive, Jones led the Buckeyes into the end zone against Michigan late to make it a two-score game. Ohio State offensive coordinator Tom Herman agrees, per Cleveland.com's Ari Wasserman:

The quarterback doesn't have to win games for us, the quarterback has to manage games and distribute the football and lead. We've seen that throughout this season. As long as he's mentally prepared and he's got a ton of physical tools ... I have nothing but the utmost confidence in him because of what we've got around him.

The Badgers' dominant rushing game is another reason why they are favorites, with Melvin Gordon breaking records left and right. But Ohio State's strength on defense is up front, and some early stops will put the pressure on Joel Stave to make plays against defensive backs who will be ready to pounce.

Wisconsin's downhill running will keep it close, but the Buckeyes just have too many weapons on offense for Jones to utilize. 

Prediction: Ohio State 28, Wisconsin 24

 

 

Lock of the Week: No. 22 Boise State over Fresno State

No. 22 Boise State has a chance to lock up another Mountain West title Saturday, but even larger aspirations will spur the Broncos to a resounding beating of Fresno State.

Since now-unranked Marshall's perfect season has come to an end, Boise State is well in control of that coveted spot for any team outside the Power Five. As the only one ranked and no other true contenders, the Broncos could wrap up a spot in the Fiesta Bowl—or another marquee bowl—with the win.

Needing style points down the stretch, the Broncos have laid it to their last two opponents, outscoring Wyoming 63-14 and Utah State 50-19. Boise State running back Jay Ajayi has been simply unstoppable, with eight touchdowns in his last two games.

A five-touchdown performance against Utah State put Ajayi near the NCAA lead in a number of categories, per KTVB's Jay Tust:

While the Broncos have looked unstoppable ever since their early-season loss to Air Force, the Bulldogs have hardly looked dangerous of late. With only two teams above .500 in conference play in its division, Fresno State practically made the title game by default.

Boise State only held off the Bulldogs 37-27 when these two squads faced off in Boise in October, but the Broncos offense has transformed since then around Ajayi. Meanwhile, the Bulldogs have won three straight—all against unimpressive opponents, however.

Expect the Broncos to blow open the spread as they look to woo voters.

Prediction: Boise State 49, Fresno State 20

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Samuel Chi's Mock College Football Playoff Standings: Week 15

TCU, Baylor or Ohio State?

That will be the selection committee's toughest task, picking one of those three teams to place in the College Football Playoff field. Each of the top six teams in the committee's next rankings will be playing this weekend in games in which they are favored.

The top three teams—Alabama, Oregon and Florida State—will all be playing in their respective conference title games, and they're in with a victory. If any of them should lose, it opens the door for another one of the aforementioned "next three."

Ohio State has a major issue. On one hand, the Buckeyes hope the committee won't hold the season-ending injury to Heisman candidate QB J.T. Barrett against them. On the other, they must defeat Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game with Barrett's backup Cardale Jones.

So in all likelihood, the final spot will be contested by the two Big 12 teams, with each having a chance to win a share of the conference title. As there is no Big 12 championship game, both TCU and Baylor can claim at least to be a co-champion with a win next week.

This is where things get tricky. Baylor defeated TCU 61-58 at home earlier this season, rallying from 21 points down with 11 minutes remaining to hand the Horned Frogs their only loss of the season. But the problem for the Bears is that the committee thinks there's enough of a resume gap between the two teams for the head-to-head result not to matter.

TCU and Baylor each played an FCS team, and the Horned Frogs routed Big Ten title contender Minnesota while the Bears blew out MAC also-ran Buffalo. Besides getting a lift from the Gophers' surprising season, TCU also owns a significant advantage over Baylor in the games so far against nine common opponents.

As TCU is unlikely to lose to 2-9 Iowa State, Baylor must defeat Kansas State impressively to have any shot of catching the Horned Frogs in the eyes of the committee. Making the task more difficult is that the Wildcats are playing for much more than spoiler, as they also will claim at least a share of the Big 12 title with a victory.

 

Other Fun Facts

* Boise State is a victory over 6-6 Fresno State in the Mountain West Championship Game away from the inaugural CFP "Group of Five" automatic bid. It will be the Broncos' third major bowl appearance in the last nine seasons, and it's likely it'll be a third Fiesta Bowl berth. Northern Illinois and Memphis figure to be next in line if Boise State somehow stumbles.

* The rest of the 11 bowl slots, of course, will all go to the Power Five conferences. The SEC will get three berths, while the other conferences will receive two each. Mississippi State probably has a bid wrapped up regardless of how the conference championship games go.

* There are a total of 80 bowl-eligible teams, and Oklahoma State and Temple can still earn eligibility. Georgia Southern, Appalachian State and Old Dominion will not go bowling as they're all in the second year of FBS transition and thus ineligible. Looks like Middle Tennessee, South Alabama, UAB and Ohio—all 6-6— will be left out despite being eligible.

Follow on Twitter @ThePlayoffGuru

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10 Most Disappointing Teams of 2014 College Football Season

We’re nearing the end of college football’s 2014 regular season. Conference championships are set, teams are getting bowl-eligible and accepting postseason bids and Saturday will be the last thing resembling a full slate of football until September of 2015. Sunday afternoon, the College Football Playoff’s first four-team field will be revealed, as well as the rest of the bowl destinations.

Many fans will be happy with their teams, but a number of followers across the nation will spend the winter stewing about what might have been. While this season featured positive surprises like Mississippi State and TCU, it also included many teams who failed to live up to preseason expectations.

Here’s a look at the most disappointing teams of the 2014 season.

Begin Slideshow

Georgia Football: Best Bowl Options for the Bulldogs

The Georgia Bulldogs' regular season ended in multifaceted disappointment over the weekend.  

On Friday, the Missouri Tigers held off the Arkansas Razorbacks and in doing so clinched the SEC East's berth in the conference championship, thus eliminating the Dawgs.  And then on Saturday, a mistake-heavy Georgia effort resulted in a heartbreaking overtime defeat against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.

Despite these setbacks, there will still be a lot to play for—most notably a 10-win season—when the Bulldogs participate in a bowl game.  Here are the four most likely bowl destinations for Georgia.

Begin Slideshow

College Football Playoff 2014: Bracket Dates, Schedule and Rankings Predictions

The 2014 season will feature the inaugural College Football Playoff bracket, and fans of the sport are already trying to decipher which programs will earn the honor of fighting for the national championship.

While teams like Alabama, Oregon and Florida State have made a claim on a spot in the postseason, the playoff voting committee could promote several programs into the No. 4 position after Mississippi State’s heartbreaking loss.

Here is the full schedule of the semifinals and championship for the College Football Playoff, the complete Week 15 projected Top 25 rankings and a preview of the most underrated team in the Top Four.

 

 

 

The Most Underrated Playoff Contender

There are many programs that deserve the honor of playing in the first-ever College Football Playoff, but few fans are talking about the legitimate possibility that the Oregon Ducks could stun the sport and make a run at the national title.

Oregon went 11-1 this season with the team’s only loss coming to Arizona earlier in the season, but the team gets a chance at redemption. On Friday, the Ducks square off against the Wildcats in the Pac-12 Championship in what should be a thrilling battle.

Arizona beat Oregon on October 2, 31-24, but the Ducks have managed to win seven straight games since, including big victories over UCLA and Utah. On the other hand, the Wildcats lost two games after the win over Oregon but ended the year with four straight victories.

When asked about playing Arizona, Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich spoke to The Associated Press, via ESPN.com, saying, “We talked a little bit about preparing to give somebody our best shot. I would have said it about whoever was next. But certainly our guys know the 'coulda, woulda, shoulda' of some of that night. And a lot of that night is Arizona is really good.”

The key for the Ducks will be the play of quarterback Marcus Mariota. The junior is running away with the Heisman Trophy race and has been lights-out for Oregon, racking up 3,470 yards and 36 touchdowns through the air and another 636 yards and 11 touchdowns on the ground.

ESPN’s SportsCenter shared just how dominant Mariota was in Week 14:

While Oregon should be able to beat Arizona in the conference championship, the team will also be a legitimate threat in the College Football Playoff. With one of the most dangerous offensive units in the country and a defense that has played better than expected, the Ducks have the talent and depth to defeat teams like Florida State and Alabama.

The Seminoles may have the national championship experience and the Crimson Tide may have a roster full of potential NFL stars, but Oregon has the fourth-ranked offense in college football and a defense that only allows 23.3 points per game.

The result is a Ducks program that has the potential to win the inaugural College Football Playoff.

 

*Stats via ESPN.com.

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NCAA Football Rankings 2014: Week 15 Standings and Analysis for Latest Polls

Over the span of a few hours a handful of the top teams in the nation flirted with College Football Playoff disaster.

Pollsters who were drenched in sweat as the Week 14 slate played itself out were rewarded handsomely—the top three teams in the nation took care of business.

But Alabama made it tough in the Iron Bowl. Florida State pulled a disappearing act for three quarters yet again. TCU and Ohio State suffered various hiccups in the wake of Mississippi State and Dak Prescott taking a dive.

The pollsters have come through, though. All that remains is to break down who is what, where and why—before it all goes up in flames again. 

 

Week 14 Winners

The king of the castle in this regard is undoubtedly TCU.

Trevone Boykin and the Horned Frogs were in need of some serious help as they took care of business against Texas. They did their part with a 48-10 triumph, then watched as the Bulldogs took a dive and Ohio State lost its starting quarterback for the season (more on that in a bit).

As ESPN Stats & Info points out, the Horned Frogs certainly helped themselves with the schedule, too:

Wins over Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, West Virginia and Kansas State will do that for a resume. In the eyes of the CFP committee, it helps that Boykin is one of the best dual-threat players in the nation with his 3,254 passing yards and 26 scores with 598 yards and eight scores on the ground.

Baylor is still feeling pretty good right about now, though. After all, Bryce Petty and Co. have a win over TCU this season, and although things were ugly in a 48-46 win over Texas Tech, there is an outside chance the team jumps the Horned Frogs if it takes down Kansas State next weekend.

Do not forget about Arizona's stunning rise to the top, either. The Wildcats used the chaos around the landscape and a 43-35 win over ranked Arizona State to make another leap in the polls and now gets another shot at Oregon—a team it has already got the best of once this season.

In a similar fashion, Missouri comes out on top of the SEC East thanks to a Georgia loss and a strong performance in the face of an elite Arkansas ground game. Accomplishments aside, the Tigers still have work to do if they want to move past Alabama.

 

Week 14 Losers

Ohio State gets the nod as the biggest loser of all. 

In an unfortunate turn of events, the Buckeyes took down the Michigan Wolverines in "The Game", 42-28, but lost Heisman contender J.T. Barrett in the process.

Make that two occurrences of that particular bad luck this season for the Buckeyes. Mark Schlabach of ESPN.com captured coach Urban Meyer's thoughts on the matter:

[Barrett] is for sure out. We've had two quarterbacks go down, and we're going to find out if we earn our coaching stripes and do a good job getting [Cardale] Jones ready to go. … We've got to go on, and we've got a lot of confidence in the guy that's going to be doing it.

[But] obviously, we lost a Heisman candidate today.

Now the question becomes whether or not the Buckeyes can take down a Wisconsin team that just made a statement with a win over Minnesota.

Mississippi State is right behind Ohio State. Despite 282 passing yards and two total touchdowns from Prescott, the Bulldogs could not trump Ole Miss at home in the Egg Bowl. Two losses in three games means the Bulldogs stay behind Alabama in the SEC West and have a fairy-tale season end with a resounding dud.

Say goodbye to UCLA, too. Brett Hundley and the Bruins can now only watch as Arizona moves on thanks to a 31-10 shellacking at the hands of Stanford. The Cardinal have had a down year, but Hundley's 17-of-32 line for 146 yards and a score, paired with miserable defense at home, have ruined the Bruins' shot at the CFP.

Ditto for Georgia. Those Bulldogs got 129 yards and a score out of Nick Chubb, but the defense allowed 399 rushing yards and three scores to Georgia Tech, a team that escaped with a 30-24 road win.

Ohio State takes the cake, but those teams such as Mississippi State taking the dive into the realm of two-loss hopefuls at this time of the season are in serious trouble. The landscape was sure to eventually sort itself out, and if Week 14 was any indication, the process is almost complete.

 

Stats and information via ESPN.com unless otherwise specified.

 

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College Football Fact or Fiction Heading into Championship Weekend

Heading into championship weekend, the focus intensifies on the College Football Playoff as teams get their last chance to prove to the committee that they are worthy of one of the four available spots. 

Bleacher Report College Football Analysts Adam Kramer and Barrett Sallee discuss some of the hottest topics heading into this highly anticipated week of the season. 

Who do you think will play in the national championship game?

Watch the video and let us know!

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

College Football's Most Important Offers of the Week

The uncertainty surrounding Brady Hoke’s future as the head coach at Michigan continues to hurt the Wolverines' 2015 class.

Last week, 4-star running back Michael Weber announced that he is reopening his recruiting process.

It didn’t take long for the interest to pick up in the 5’10”, 205-pounder. 

The U.S. Army All-American picked up offers from Georgia, Notre Dame and Alabama.

Those three powerhouses join the likes of Michigan State, Ohio State, USC and Wisconsin in addition to the Wolverines as schools that Weber is still considering.

According to Steve Wiltfong of 247Sports, Weber—who has plans to announce his commitment on Jan. 3 at the U.S. Army All-American game—was excited to receive his latest offer from Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide.

“They are the No. 1 team in the country that always wins and they put running backs in the league every year,” Weber told Wiltfong.

The Irish will lose starting running back Cam McDaniel to graduation, while Alabama’s T.J. Yeldon and Georgia’s Todd Gurley are juniors with potential to test the NFL draft waters.

With a little more than a month left until he plans to make a commitment, Weber figures to receive more interest and take some trips between now and when he leaves for San Antonio.

Can the Irish deal a further blow to the rival Wolverines by swiping Weber away, or will he be tempted to head to the SEC to play his college football?

Stay tuned.

 

Alabama Hits Sunshine State

In addition to offering Weber, Saban and his staff were active in Florida last week.

The Tide tendered 2015 3-star wide receiver Ryan Davis and 2017 4-star corner Stanford Samuels III.

Davis has offers from the likes of Florida, Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Tennessee, among others. However, according to ESPN’s Derek Tyson, Davis plans to visit Tuscaloosa after his season concludes.

Meanwhile, Samuels is rated as the No. 3 corner in the 2017 class, and he possesses early offers from schools such as Georgia, Miami, LSU, Oklahoma and Tennessee, among others. Per Barton Simmons of 247Sports, UCLA also offered Samuels last week.

His father, Stanford Samuels Jr., played corner at Florida State from 2000-03.

 

Tennessee Offers Multiple Underclassmen

Butch Jones and the rest of his staff at Tennessee have been one of the surprises of the 2015 cycle, as the Vols currently have the nation’s No. 5 class

Last week, the Vols turned their attention to some of the top underclassmen in their backyard.

Jones and his staff offered 2016 3-star athlete Ikenna Okeke, 2017 running back Chase Hayden and 2018 receiver Camron Johnson—all of whom are Tennessee natives.

The Vols also offered 2017 4-star rusher Cam Akers, per Demetric Warren of Varsity Preps.

Hayden’s father, Aaron, was a standout running back for the Vols in the early 1990s.

 

Miami after California, Texas Talent

Another program who was busy last week in scouting the future classes was Miami.

Al Golden and his staff hit the fertile grounds of California and Texas to offer some of the top underclassmen in those states. 

The ‘Canes offered 2016 4-star offensive lineman Frank Martin, per Adam Gorney of Rivals. They also offered 2016 3-star defensive end Marcus Moore from the Golden State, according to David Lake of InsideTheU (subscription required).

Meanwhile, they also tendered 2016 4-star offensive lineman Jean Delance, who committed to Oklahoma earlier in the week.

Given this level of aggressiveness early, it’s clear that Golden and his staff are extending their reach by identifying top talent across the nation.

 

Best of the Rest

  • Miami offered 2018 linebacker Merlin Robertson, per Gorney.

 

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

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