NCAA Football News

Georgia Bulldogs vs. Kentucky Wildcats: Betting Odds, Analysis and Pick

Georgia owns four straight victories over Kentucky and six wins in the last seven meetings, but the Wildcats are 4-2 against the spread the last six times they've battled the Bulldogs. In their quest to return to the SEC Championship Game, the Bulldogs will try to fend off the upset bid of the Wildcats Saturday afternoon in Lexington.

 

Point spread: Bulldogs opened as 13-point favorites, according to sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark. (Line updates and matchup report)

 

College football pick, via Odds Shark computer: 37.5-21.0 Bulldogs

 

Why the Georgia Bulldogs can cover the spread

The Bulldogs had won five games in a row before running into a fired-up Florida team last week and losing 38-20. Georgia took an early 7-0 lead but allowed the game-turning play on a fake-field-goal touchdown halfway through the second quarter.

However, there's little excuse for giving up 418 yards rushing. Nonetheless, the Bulldogs are only a game behind first-place Missouri in the SEC East, and they own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Tigers thanks to their 34-0 victory in Columbia a few weeks ago.

Georgia's defense ranks 22nd in the country overall, so last week might be regarded as an anomaly. Finally, the Bulldogs outgained the Wildcats last year, 602-211, on their way to a 59-14 victory in Athens, covering as 26-point favorites.

 

Why the Kentucky Wildcats can cover the spread

At 5-4, the Wildcats need just one more victory to become bowl-eligible for the first time in four seasons. Kentucky has struggled in recent weeks, losing to LSU, top-ranked Mississippi State and, last week, Missouri, 20-10. But earlier this season, the Wildcats took Florida to overtime and beat South Carolina.

They also gave MSU a tough game, pulling to within 38-31 with two minutes to go, only to blow the cover as 14-point dogs by allowing a kickoff return for a score. Last week Kentucky held Mizzou to just 320 yards of offense, coming within a field goal of a push as seven-point dogs.

 

Smart Pick

Georgia will be looking to bounce back after last week's debacle against Florida and stay in the race in the SEC East. Kentucky, on the other hand, hasn't yet proven it can stay with the big boys of the SEC on a weekly basis, losing its last three games against the tougher schedule by an average score of 35-15. So the smart choice here is with the Bulldogs, minus the points.

 

Betting Trends

  • Georgia is 2-4 ATS in its last six games when playing Kentucky
  • Kentucky is 4-2 ATS in its last six games when playing Georgia

 

All point spread and lines data courtesy of Odds Shark, all quotes gathered firsthand unless otherwise noted. Check out Twitter for injury and line movement updates and get the free odds tracker app.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Clemson Tigers vs. Wake Forest Demon Deacons Betting Odds, College Football Pick

Clemson owns a five-game winning streak in the series with ACC rival Wake Forest, going 4-1 against the spread in that span and winning those games by an average score of 39-12.

The Tigers also own a five-game winning streak this season. Clemson can push both those runs to six games when they take on 2-6 Wake Forest Thursday night in Winston-Salem.

 

Point spread: The Tigers opened as 20-point favorites, according to sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark. (Line updates and matchup report)

 

College football pick, via Odds Shark computer: 37.9-17.1 Tigers

 

Why the Clemson Tigers can cover the spread

The Tigers just beat Syracuse 16-6, so they're 5-0 straight up and 3-2 ATS since losing that game to Florida State in overtime back in September. Two weeks ago, Clemson outgained Boston College by 135 yards in a 17-13 victory over the Eagles, and last week the Tigers outgained the Orange by 205 yards. In fact, the Tigers have outgained and outrushed six of eight opponents this season.

Clemson isn't its usual explosive self on offense yet this year; after averaging over 40 points per game the last two seasons, the Tigers are averaging more than a touchdown less this season. But Clemson's defense, which was pretty good last year, is even better this year, ranking second in the country overall and 10th vs. the run.

 

Why the Wake Forest Demon Deacons can cover the spread

Let's be honest: The Demon Deacons are not a good team at the moment. They've lost four games in a row, a couple in non-competitive fashion, while getting beat up on the stats sheet. However, they have covered four spreads this season, including as underdogs against Utah State, Louisville and Boston College—all of whom are 6-3 at the moment.

Last week Wake Forest trailed the Eagles 17-0 early, but rallied to within 23-17 with six minutes to go before running out of gas. The Deacons have been forced to go with freshman John Wolford at quarterback, and while he's thrown 13 interceptions, he's kept that to three over the last three weeks. The Wake Forest defense also ranks a respectable 40th in the country overall. With Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson out with a finger injury, perhaps the Deacons can keep this one close.

 

Smart Pick

Clemson is tough against the run, and Wake Forest can't run. And relying on a guy who barely showed up on the preseason depth chart to spark a passing game is asking a lot. The Tigers, despite some injuries, will win this game, and in this spot, the winner is likely to cover the spread. So the smart betting choice here is with Clemson, minus the points.

 

Betting Trends

  • Clemson is 10-5 ATS in its last 15 games on the road
  • Wake Forest is 0-5 SU in its last five games when playing Clemson

 

All point spread and lines data courtesy of Odds Shark, all quotes gathered firsthand unless otherwise noted. Check out Twitter for injury and line movement updates and get the free odds tracker app.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Baylor Bears vs. Oklahoma Sooners: Betting Odds, Analysis, College Football Pick

The Oklahoma Sooners will be out for revenge when they host the Baylor Bears in a key Big 12 matchup on Saturday. The Sooners lost 41-12 at Baylor last year and have alternated wins and losses in their past five games, snapping a three-game skid against the spread with a 59-14 victory at Iowa State last week as 15.5-point favorites.

 

Point spread: Sooners opened as three-point favorites, according to sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark (Line updates and matchup report).

 

College football pick, via Odds Shark computer: 46.3-38.9 Bears

 

Why the Baylor Bears can cover the spread

The Bears covered the spread in last year’s meeting as 16.5-point home chalk and find themselves as underdogs this time around despite the fact they are in similar positions. The only difference is that last season Baylor was unbeaten going into the Oklahoma game and this year the team has one loss.

The Sooners may be a slightly better team than the one the Bears crushed in 2013, but they are still below them in the College Football Playoff rankings. Baylor still controls its own destiny to some degree with a matchup against Kansas State in the regular-season finale, so beating Oklahoma again here could put the Bears in position to make the four-team playoff if they win out.

 

Why the Oklahoma Sooners can cover the spread

The Sooners have won 21 of the last 23 meetings with Baylor but both losses during that stretch have taken place in the past three years. Oklahoma is coming off one of its best games of the season against the Cyclones, with quarterback Trevor Knight throwing for 230 yards and two touchdowns, as well as running for 146 yards and three more scores.

Knight was not the starting signal-caller last year against the Bears, instead it was Blake Bell, who is now a tight end for the Sooners and struggled mightily with just 150 passing yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. Knight has thrown for more than 300 yards in Oklahoma’s last two home games and will be the X-factor here.

 

Smart Pick

Baylor is 3-1 straight-up and ATS in its last four road games and 5-2 SU in its past seven games away from home against Big 12 opponents. Combine that with the Sooners going 3-7 vs. the line in their last 10 home games against conference foes, and the Bears look like an attractive play.

Oklahoma’s defense will obviously face a big test in trying to stop Baylor, which West Virginia somehow managed to do three weeks ago in a 41-27 upset at home as an eight-point underdog. However, the Bears are 7-1 ATS in their last eight trips to Norman and should be able to pull off the upset as a road dog.

 

Betting Trends

  • Baylor is 4-1 ATS in its last five games when playing Oklahoma
  • The total has gone OVER in five of Oklahoma's last five games

 

All point spread and lines data courtesy of Odds Shark, all quotes gathered firsthand unless otherwise noted. Check out Twitter for injury and line movement updates and get the free odds tracker app.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Alabama Crimson Tide vs. LSU Tigers: Odds, Analysis and College Football Pick

The Alabama Crimson Tide and the LSU Tigers will both be looking for their fourth straight wins when they meet Saturday night in Baton Rouge. Alabama has won the last three meetings with LSU, including the last one at Tiger Stadium 21-17 two years ago, but it did not cover the spread as a 7.5-point road favorite. In fact, the Crimson Tide have also failed to cover their last five games overall as road chalk.

 

Point spread: The Crimson Tide opened as six-point favorites, according to sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark (Line updates and matchup report).

 

College football pick, via Odds Shark computer: 32.5-27.4 Crimson Tide

 

Why the Alabama Crimson Tide can cover the spread

This is crunch time for Alabama, especially with the College Football Playoff rankings initially showing the team outside the top four at No. 6. The Crimson Tide have to be disappointed with that ranking but still have plenty of time to do something about it.

This is a must-win game for them though, especially considering Mississippi State has already beaten the Tigers on their home field. Alabama had a week off to get ready for LSU and has proven itself when needed this season.

When critics complained that the Tide did not score enough after a 14-13 win over Arkansas on October 11, they rolled Texas A&M 59-0 the following week. Alabama is very dangerous when motivated.

 

Why the LSU Tigers can cover the spread

The Tigers are 3-0 against the spread (ATS) in their last three games as home underdogs and have won 19 of their past 21 home games overall. However, one of those two losses came against the Crimson Tide. This is a young LSU team that has continued to grow as the season has progressed, covering the spread in each of the games during its winning streak. That includes a 10-7 victory against Ole Miss two weeks ago as a 3.5-point home underdog.

The Tigers are also coming off a bye week and know how important this game is even if they are already out of the running for the four-team playoff. They would love nothing more than to end Alabama’s shot at a national championship.

 

Smart Pick

The point spread is exactly where it should be for this game, with the Crimson Tide favored by nearly a touchdown. Alabama has covered just two of the last five meetings, with three of them decided by four points or less. But the two the Tide did cover were blowouts, including a 38-17 victory last season as a 14-point home favorite.

LSU has outscored its last two opponents by a 51-10 margin at home, with the defense really stepping up. The Tigers will need to play their best game defensively to hang with Alabama, so expect a maximum effort here if they do not end up with the win.

The under is 3-0-1 in the last four meetings and 3-0-1 in LSU’s last four games as a home underdog, and those trends should continue here in a low-scoring game.

 

Betting Trends

  • Alabama is 22-3 SU in its last 25 games.
  • LSU is 3-5-2 ATS in its last 10 games when playing Alabama.

 

All point spread and lines data courtesy of Odds Shark; all quotes gathered firsthand unless otherwise noted. Check out Twitter for injury and line-movement updates, and get the free odds tracker app.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Best Bets to Win the CFB National Championship Headed into Week 11

Everyone knows the favorites to win the College Football Playoff, but what about all of the other teams that can still make some noise?

Bleacher Report College Football Analyst Adam Kramer tells you which underdogs have the best odds to win the national championship.

Who will win the national championship?

Watch the video and let us know!

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

2017 WR Connor Heyward Persevering Through Tragedy to Carry on Father's Legacy

Charlotte Heyward vividly remembers the first word out of her youngest son Connor’s mouth as a toddler.

“Ball.”

Connor's natural affinity for sports wasn't much of a surprise considering his father—Craig “Ironhead” Heyward—played in the NFL for 11 seasons, and his brothers Cam and Corey would grow up to be Division I athletes. However, the youngest Heyward's journey to stardom was not as smooth as you might expect.  

The Heyward family was rocked by Craig’s passing in May of 2006. He had succumbed to a battle with cancer when Connor was just seven years old.

Crafting his own legacy while learning about his late father’s has been a revealing process for the sophomore wide receiver from Peachtree Ridge High School in Suwanee, Georgia—as athleticism is far from the only thing he has in common with his dad. 

“He has a lot of me and his dad in him," Charlotte said of her youngest son. “They (Connor and Craig) are both extremely competitive and hardheaded."

The 6’1”, 190-pounder—who is also a standout on the hardwood—is already beginning to surface on the radar of schools across the country. He’s already taken visits to programs such as Georgia, Ohio State, Vanderbilt and Arizona State. 

 

Dealing with the Tragedy

Because Craig was in the midst of his career when Cameron and Corey were born, he didn’t get to spend as much time with them as he would’ve liked.

With Connor—who was born in 1999 and after Craig had retired—he was able to be around for his youngest son’s toddler years. 

“He was around Connor the most,” Charlotte said. “Connor was just like Dad’s little sidekick. He would have Connor do pushups in the barbershop when he was little. He’d say ‘hit the floor,’ and Connor would do like 10 or 20 pushups, and this is like when he was four or five. He’d do it anywhere. It could be the middle of a restaurant, barbershops or anywhere. I’d be like ‘no, no, no.’”

Given Connor’s age at the time of his father’s death, the impact of that moment was something he wouldn't fully comprehend until he grew older.

“He was so young when it happened,” Cam said. “I don’t really know how he dealt with it. I was fortunate to have him for as long as I did. With Connor, it was tougher because he didn’t have situations where he had his dad around. That’s one reason we try to stay close as a family.”

He’s heard stories from family members and acquaintances of his dad about his playing days. 

While the pain of losing a parent can be traumatic, Connor was able to take a few lessons from a negative moment and turn it into a positive.

Craig suffered a brain tumor when Charlotte was pregnant with Connor. Later on, shortly before he passed, he suffered a stroke and was confined to a wheelchair for the remainder of his life. 

Seeing his father struggle with medical issues resonated with young Connor.

When he was in elementary school, he volunteered to help with a class in his school that worked with children with special needs.

“When he had cupcakes for his birthday, he would always go and share cupcakes with the special needs class,” Charlotte said. “I found it odd that he knew the different degrees of their disabilities. He got used to that, and he wasn’t afraid of people in wheelchairs or people with disabilities because his dad had a disability.”

Charlotte noted that Connor has always been a person who will go out of his way to help a friend in need. That meant everything from inviting friends over to stay the night when they were having problems to volunteering his time and efforts for a worthy cause.

“He has a good heart,” Cam said. “From a young age, he always wanted to help out with kids who had disabilities. He was always trying to be a part of the community. Connor loves little things like that. It doesn’t have to be recognized or get a lot of attention.”

 

Band of Brothers

Before he could find his way on the football field or on the basketball court, Connor was baptized by fire when he would play against his older brothers in their younger days.

Cam was a beastly defensive lineman on the gridiron at Peachtree Ridge. He went on to star at Ohio State before becoming a first-round draft choice of the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2011 NFL draft.

Corey is currently in his sophomore year as the starting point guard for the Yellow Jackets.

Cam admits that he and Corey were hard on Connor growing up. It was mostly just normal older brother-younger brother stuff, but he says they were also trying to teach Connor the fatherly lessons that nothing in sports or in life would come without struggle and hard work.

“Being younger, he’s always been the one who got picked on,” Cam said with a laugh. “But that’s what made him a tougher player.”

Cam recalls his two elder brothers teaming up against him on the basketball court to make sure they hounded their younger brother.

“We bumped him around 24/7,” Cam said. “When he would try to score on a layup, we would always be there to block his shot. He had to work for everything he got. That’s how he plays the game today.”

Still, Charlotte made Connor wait until he was seven to play football because she wanted him to “mature a little bit.”

Despite starting later than most kids, Connor was ready to compete, thanks to the tough love he endured from his brothers.

Connor spent his little league years on the gridiron excelling at several positions such as quarterback, running back, wide receiver, outside linebacker and free safety. His versatility and athleticism have those close to him wondering what he will play at the collegiate level.

“I’ve heard that they are going to try and move him around, whether it be safety, quarterback, wide receiver or somewhere else,” Cam said. “That’s the thing with Connor. He just wants to be on the field. He’s willing to help in any way possible. That’s just the type of player he is. He’s more concerned with winning than he is putting up stats.”

Thus far, the results at receiver are promising. Through nine games, he’s caught 28 passes for 492 yards and eight scores, according to MaxPreps.

Last month, he was recognized as the Player of the Week by the Gwinnett Daily Post after he caught seven passes for 122 yards and two touchdowns in the Lions' 49-6 win over Duluth.

The interest from colleges is starting to flow, which means the recruiting process will begin to crank up for him soon.

 

The Future Is Bright

As he finishes his sophomore season, Connor is somewhat of an enigma in recruiting circles.

He’s flashed playmaking ability as a receiver at Peachtree Ridge this year. As part of a loaded group of pass-catchers, his eight touchdown receptions lead the team. 

However, his long-term future position is somewhat of a mystery. Lions head coach Mark Fleetwood admits that he’s unsure whether he will move his young star or let him stay at receiver. He could end up at quarterback, safety or even outside linebacker next fall. 

One thing that could ultimately play a role in that decision is Connor’s size.

Fleetwood said that he’s noticed the physical changes in Connor since the spring, noting that he’s gotten taller and put on good weight—which makes finding his eventual position a tough, but welcomed quandary.

“I’m anxious to see what his size is really going to be,” Fleetwood said. “Connor’s a kid that has a lot of God-given ability as far as athleticism. You take a kid with that much ability at 15 years old, and his body is still growing. He’s got excellent skills catching the ball, judging the ball and throwing the ball. It all comes really easy to him.” 

The Lions have a loaded roster with talented underclassmen such as 2016 standout corners Chad Clay and Baylen Buchanan, and 2017 athlete Deangelo Gibbs. Fleetwood—who spent time at the college level as an assistant at Jacksonville State and Troy University—notes that college coaches have flocked to this campus just north of Atlanta and on a team loaded with talent, Heyward is a player who has grabbed their attention.

“They (college coaches) are asking me where I would project him,” Fleetwood said. “I just say he’s an athlete. He’s a kid that can make a difference at wherever you line him up. His film is really coming on board right now. I can tell you they are all watching him. With his background, I think it’s just a matter of time before a lot of people start offering.” 

Regardless of which schools end up as his finalists, he will be ready for the recruiting process after watching his older brothers go through it.

Charlotte—who accompanied Cam on all of his visits and whom Cam calls “a pro” when it comes to the process—admits that Connor’s process will be different than those of his brothers because his temperament is much different than that of either Cam or Corey. 

However, her message to him is the same as it was to them.

“I want all of my boys to choose a school that if they got hurt, that they will want to be going through an injury or not playing and still be fine going through school and getting a degree from that school,” Charlotte said.

The experiences he’s lived through on and off the field are part of what makes Connor one of the more intriguing prospects that fans and analysts will be following over the next two years.

While carrying on his family’s athletic legacy may seem like a burden, Fleetwood emphatically rejects that notion. 

“He’s very comfortable in his own skin. He’s got a really good spirit to him. He has a lot of gratitude about him. It’s fun to see Connor coming around the corner or down the hall because he’s got a smile on his face. He’s trying to do the right things in the classroom. That’s what’s so neat. You wouldn’t know that his daddy and his brother were NFL players and his other brother is a college basketball player.”

Even though Cam said that he and Corey still make it their mission to beat Connor in any sport or game when they return home, he admits that his little brother has a chance to surpass him and Corey one day in his athletic endeavors.

“Don’t tell him I ever told you this, but he could be the best athlete out of all of us,” Cam said while chuckling. “He definitely has all the tools, but it’s about putting it out there and doing it.”

 

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

 

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College Football Rankings 2014: Week 11 Standings and Top 25 Team Records

As we inch closer to this year's College Football Playoff, intensity continues to build throughout the nation's Top 25 teams. In the wake of the Week 10 action, the Top Four remain the same; however, things have begun to tighten up atop college football's hierarchy.

Something has to give.

Week 11 brings a slate of games that will have severe postseason implications for these teams, as several highly ranked squads are set to duke it out on the gridiron. Rest assured, the nation's pecking order will shift dramatically once again following these pivotal matchups.

Before we get to what should be an action-packed Saturday full of an exuberant amount of twists and turns, here's a look at the Top 25 teams in the nation—for now.

AP poll can be viewed at CollegeFootball.AP.org.

Amway poll can be viewed at USAToday.com.

B/R poll can be viewed at BleacherReport.com.

 

Projected Upset of the Week

(9) Kansas State at (6) TCU

This should be a fantastic showdown between two one-loss teams that are still well within the College Football Playoff picture. The loser of this contest, however, is likely to lose all hope of a bid for one of the year's most prestigious bowl games.

TCU enters this contest on a three-game winning streak. The team's only loss this season came in a 61-58 shootout against the Baylor Bears. The Horned Frogs are no stranger to lighting up the scoreboard, boasting the nation's second-ranked scoring offense. Although, that's not what they looked like in Week 10.

This team faced a tough West Virginia defense that made quarterback Trevone Boykin look more like a Heisman afterthought. The signal-caller completed just 12 of his 30 passing attempts for 166 yards, one touchdown and one interception.

Pat Forde of Yahoo Sports tweeted his thoughts during the game:

While the offense pulled out the win with a late-game surge, it was mostly due to errors on the part of the Mountaineers—they turned the ball over five times throughout the contest.

This week, TCU faces another strong defense in Kansas State.

The Wildcats are ranked 12th in the nation in points against, allowing an average of just 18.6 per game. This will surely be an interesting battle to watch, as Kansas State has allowed 30 points to an opponent just once this season, while the Horned Frogs have put that number on the scoreboard in each of their contests.

While Kansas State will feature that strong defense, the performance of quarterback Jake Waters will also come into play. He's a gritty player who isn't afraid of contact to get the extra yards. He's composed as a passer and dangerous when he decides to take off and run.

This season, the signal-caller has become very efficient, completing 65.2 percent of his passes for 1,878 yards, 11 touchdowns and just three interceptions while adding 404 yards and seven rushing scores. His ability to make plays with his arm and his legs could give the TCU defense fits.

D. Scott Fritchen of Rivals.com tweeted the quarterback's efficiency in the Big 12 this season:

Expect an experienced Kansas State team to control the pace of the game, utilizing a strong rushing attack, high-percentage passes and stout defense to win the battle for field position and time of possession. This one will remain close, but in the end, TCU's offense will score less than 30 for the first time this year.

Prediction: Kansas State 27, TCU 24

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Forget Nick Marshall, Cameron Artis-Payne Should Be in the Heisman Race

Different verse, same as the first.

For the second straight season, Auburn is making noise in November with Nick Marshall at the helm as the quarterback of the No. 3-ranked Tigers. 

The senior signal-caller for head coach Gus Malzahn's crew has passed for 1,357 yards and 13 touchdowns, rushed for 631 yards and nine touchdowns, and, as my B/R colleague Brian Leigh pointed out Sunday, moved into dark-horse consideration for the Heisman Trophy due to his clutch factor.

Over the last two seasons, Marshall has led his team to a remarkable record in one-score games, according to Dave Miller of the National Football Post:

Marshall should be in consideration, but there's another Tiger who should join him on the path to New York City.

Running back Cameron Artis-Payne.

The senior rushed 27 times for 143 yards and a touchdown in the road win over then-No. 4 Ole Miss on Saturday night, showing off durability between the tackles, quickness to be dangerous in space and speed to turn short gains into long gains.

Through eight games, he's ahead of the pace of Heisman finalist Tre Mason from a year ago.

That's pretty strong.

Sure, Mason had a 304-yard performance against Missouri in the SEC Championship Game that punched his ticket to New York last year. At this rate, though, that statistical haymaker might only draw Mason even with Artis-Payne.

Artis-Payne, a 5'11" 210-pounder from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, transferred to Auburn prior to the 2013 season from Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria, California. He split carries with Mason early last season before Mason took off, and he worked hard to get in true game shape last offseason.

Head coach Gus Malzahn told Alex Byington of the Opelika-Auburn News in September that Artis-Payne had lost some weight and picked up some speed, which is a big reason why he's blossomed into a true every-down back in the SEC.

"He has a lot of yards after contact, which is very important," Malzahn said in September during the Week 3 coaches teleconference. "He's the type of runner who, I believe, gets stronger as the game goes on."

That's not hyperbole. It's accurate.

Artis-Payne's yards-per-carry average has gone up in every quarter this season, and he gets more explosive as the game goes on.

Is he a system running back? Yes and no.

Malzahn's system is built to produce video game statistics on the ground. In eight previous seasons as a college head coach or an assistant coach, Malzahn's offense has produced 11 1,000-yard rushers—including two last year, Mason (1,816) and Marshall (1,068).

The offensive system shouldn't be used against him, though. Like Mason, Artis-Payne is a great back in a great system, and that system is producing results at the highest level yet again.

The same rules that applied to Georgia running back Todd Gurley earlier this season apply to Artis-Payne.

With only two non-quarterbacks winning the Heisman since 2000 (one of which—Reggie Bush in 2005—was returned)—the Heisman Trophy is a quarterback-driven award, and any running back who becomes a contender will be fighting an uphill battle. That is especially true for Artis-Payne, who has a Heisman Trophy contender at quarterback on his own team.

That shouldn't remove him from consideration, though.

Artis-Payne lit up the Ole Miss defense, has two soft run defenses coming up in Texas A&M and Georgia, and then closes out the season on the road against Alabama. 

Don't discount the possibility of Artis-Payne following in Mason's footsteps all the way to New York City.

 

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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Nebraska Football: 5 Things for the Huskers to Improve During the Bye Week

Nebraska football fans endured (that’s really the correct term for it) a sloppy 35-14 victory over Purdue to see NU head into its second bye week at 8-1 overall and 4-1 in conference play. But with the meat of its conference schedule ahead of it, how Nebraska performs in the final three games of the regular season will determine if NU breaks out of its four-loss rut (since 2008) and makes a run at a conference championship.

So what has to happen in this bye week to get Nebraska ready for its final gauntlet? Here are five things the Cornhuskers should be looking to improve.

Begin Slideshow

Bowl Projections 2014: Predictions for College Football Playoff Semifinals

Each week of the college football season brings plenty of surprises, but none of it really matters until the end of the year.

The new College Football Playoff system has kept more fans interested in the process than ever before, which has led to plenty of complaining over rankings. However, it matters a lot more where the teams sit in the final Dec. 7 standings compared to anything in October or November.

Everything that happens from this point forward is significant, which means predicting outcomes is just as important as analyzing past results. Instead of wondering which teams will be in the playoff if the season ended today, here are projections for the two semifinal matchups (Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl) at the end of the year.

The first thing most people will notice in this list is that it only features a single SEC team. This would be a bit of a surprise considering how dominant the conference has been all year, especially the West division.

When the first set of playoff standings were released, three teams fit into the top four spots, while Alabama was not far behind at No. 6. However, Nick Saban said it best at the time, via Michael Casagrande of Al.com:

To me, none of it matters. What does it matter? I mean, it only matters where you end up at the end. So what matters to us is how we do in each and every game that we have to play. We have four games left to play, and if we can be successful in those games, maybe there's a chance we will play in the SEC Championship Game as well.

Ole Miss already learned this lesson after losses to Auburn and LSU. Despite having the No. 1 defense in the country, the squad will have a tough time playing its way back into the playoff.

Meanwhile, Mississippi State and Auburn still have difficult schedules ahead, including a road battle at Alabama for each team. The Bulldogs also have to travel to Ole Miss in the Egg Bowl, while the Tigers have to face Georgia on the road plus play a home game against Texas A&M.

As good as each of these teams have been to start the year, it will be difficult to win out, and any loss could result in elimination from contention.

On the other hand, the biggest mark against Alabama has been a lack of quality wins, as Dan Wolken of USA Today argues:

However, this will not be a problem with upcoming home games against the No. 1 and No. 3 teams in the nation. The only road game remaining is Saturday against LSU, which Alabama goes into as a 6.5-point favorite, according to Odds Shark.

With the No. 2 scoring defense in the country and a quarterback in Blake Sims who has seven touchdowns and no interceptions in the last three weeks, the Crimson Tide have what it takes to win the SEC title.

As the rest of the SEC teams suffer losses, it will be difficult to put them over the rest of the field.

Florida State should earn its spot as long as it remains undefeated. This should not be hard with a relatively easy schedule going forward. Andrew Siciliano of NFL Network summed up the last win perfectly as the Seminoles came back from down 21-0 to win:

Although Florida State might not be as good as it was last year, all it needs to do is avoid losses and it will be in the playoff.

Oregon should be able to join these teams after getting over its biggest mental hump in Stanford. The Ducks lost the last two years to the Cardinal, but Marcus Mariota was fantastic yet again to get his team to 8-1.

Games at Utah and Oregon State, along with a potential Pac-12 Championship Game, could represent a challenge, but Oregon is the most talented team in the conference and should be able to come through with a win.

TCU might be the most surprising one on the list, but the Big 12 squad has been outstanding this year with the No. 2 scoring offense in the country at 48 points per game.

The Horned Frogs already have wins over three ranked teams this year and almost earned a fourth in Baylor until it blew a 21-point lead in the fourth quarter. Despite a tough schedule, they still have a good chance to keep winning, according to ESPN:

It will not be easy beating Kansas State, but the team could be home free if it earns a win. The resume at the end of the year should be enough to earn a spot in the playoffs.

 

Follow Rob Goldberg on Twitter for the latest breaking news and analysis.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

The 5 Most Telling Stats for the Georgia Bulldogs This Season

It only takes one game for a team to go from national title favorite to not winning the division. That is the case for the Georgia Bulldogs. The loss to Florida puts them in a spot where they need to win the final two SEC games and need Missouri to lose one of its last three SEC games.

The loss to Florida was a disappointing one to say the least. But in a weird way, it’s also not surprising given way the season has panned out for the Bulldogs.

Don’t know what I’m talking about? Well, the five most telling stats for the Bulldogs this season will explain why the Bulldogs lost to Florida and why they are 6-2 on the year.

Begin Slideshow

Pac-12 Football: Ranking the Top 10 Performances of the Last Month

It's hard to believe that the Pac-12 football season is two-thirds complete, but what a thrilling journey it has been with spectacular individual performances each and every weekend.

In the last month, we've seen Arizona score one of the most impressive wins in the country, UCLA fall and then begin to rise again, Oregon start to look like the team Chip Kelly coached from 2009-12 and schools like Utah, Arizona and Arizona State stake their claim to become king of the South Division.

Included among the drama was a number of noteworthy efforts by prominent players, as well as several by those unaccustomed to the limelight.

Those who compiled the most impressive stats and who managed to bring it all during key games or critical stretches of contests will make the list.

Here are the top 10 performances from the Pac-12 in the last month.

 

All stats via CFBStats.com. The last month is from Oct. 2-Nov. 1.

Just missed the cut: QB Brett Hundley vs. Arizona, KR Trevor Davis vs. WSU

Begin Slideshow

College Football: Week 10 Recap, Game Attended and Pick Results

Week 10 of the college football season saw two dramatic endings for teams contending for a national championship, as well as intense Pac-12 contests and a huge upset coming out of the SEC.

No. 3 Auburn and No. 4 Ole Miss went back and forth the entire game, and the outcome wasn’t decided until late. The Rebels took a 31-28 lead early in the fourth quarter on a Bo Wallace three-yard touchdown run, but the Tigers answered about four minutes later on a Cameron Artis-Payne six-yard rushing touchdown to get back on top 35-31.  

The game-changing play of the week occurred with 1:30 remaining in the game, when Wallace completed a pass to potent wide receiver Laquon Treadwell for what appeared to be a go-ahead 19-yard touchdown, but Treadwell was tackled from behind and fumbled at the goal line.

The play resulted in Treadwell breaking his leg, as well as dislocating his ankle, and Auburn linebacker Cassanova McKinzy recovering the ball in the end zone to help the Tigers seal a critical SEC West division contest.

While there was a lot of hype for the game in Oxford, there was a Big 12 showdown in Morgantown that went down to the final play. No. 7 TCU got all it could handle against a No. 20 West Virginia squad looking to keep itself in the Big 12 title picture.

The Horned Frogs trailed most of the game, despite converting five turnovers. Trailing 30-28 with 2:07 remaining in regulation, quarterback Trevone Boykin took the offense down the field and was able to get in field-goal position for a game-winning kick. Placekicker Jaden Oberkrom nailed a 37-yard field goal as time expired and helped the Horned Frogs escape with a 31-30 victory.

The Pac-12 South division had important matchups that took place Saturday night. Twelfth-ranked Arizona went into the Rose Bowl in hopes of ending a two-game losing streak to 22nd-ranked UCLA and knocking it out of the division race. The Bruins had other plans, though, as they shut down an Arizona offense averaging 40.6 points per game and won in a defensive struggle, 17-7.

It took overtime for a winner to be decided between No. 17 Utah and No. 14 Arizona State. Sun Devil placekicker Zane Gonzalez converted 4-of-5 field goals and kicked a game-winning 36-yard field goal to defeat the Utes 19-16. It was Arizona State’s 11th consecutive win over Utah.

The biggest upset of the week was easily a struggling Florida team defeating hated rival No. 11 Georgia 38-20 in Jacksonville. The Gator offense ran all over the Bulldog defense by racking up an impressive 418 rushing yards. Will Muschamp’s Gators are now in good shape to be bowl eligible for the first time since 2012.

 

Game Attended

Stanford 16 at No. 5 Oregon 45

Marcus Mariota and the fifth-ranked Ducks appeared to be in no mood to drop a third straight meeting to a Stanford team that had ruined their national title and conference title hopes the past two years.

Oregon scored on its first four offensive possessions and helped give itself a solid 24-13 lead at the half. Mariota threw a six-yard touchdown pass to freshman speedster Charles Nelson and ran in a 22-yard score, while running back Thomas Tyner fought his way into the end zone on a one-yard run.

Stanford was able to stay in striking distance with a Jordan Williamson 25-yard field goal to make it 24-16 late in the third quarter, but a potent Duck offense appeared to be too much for a Stanford defense that ranked among the best in the country heading in.

Oregon scored 21 unanswered points and was hitting on all cylinders. Mariota, who continues to prove he is worthy of a Heisman Trophy, was 19-of-30 for 258 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed for 85 yards and two touchdowns as well. Tyner had an impressive outing by recording 63 yards and two touchdowns, while freshman Royce Freeman accounted for 98 yards and 52 receiving yards.

The Cardinal surrendered more than 40 points for the first time since 2012 and will have its first four-loss season under fourth-year head coach David Shaw.

Oregon is in the driver’s seat to win its first Pac-12 North division title in three years and will continue its quest of advancing to the College Football Playoff with a tough road contest at Utah this Saturday.

Pick Results

Overall Record: 33-17

Week 10 Record: 5-0

Note: Team in bold indicates author’s pick


Prediction: TCU 48, West Virginia 38

Result: TCU 31, West Virginia 30

 

Prediction: Auburn 31, Ole Miss 24

Result: Auburn 35, Ole Miss 31

 

Prediction: Oregon 41, Stanford 28

Result: Oregon 45, Stanford 16

 

Prediction: UCLA 35, Arizona 30

Result: UCLA 17, Arizona 7

 

Prediction: Arizona State 38, Utah 30

Result: Arizona State 19, Utah 16 (OT)

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Bowl Projections 2014: Predicting Biggest Postseason Matchups Going into Week 11

Is the bowl discussion starting already? Where did the college football season go?

Every year, college football fans have debated which schools most deserve a shot at the national championship. And rather than stifling the discussion, the implementation of the four-team College Football Playoff has only opened the door for more teams, thus bringing more fans into the fold.

With the new playoff, bowl bids are a bit different. For those unaware of the how the system works, ESPN.com's Brett McMurphy penned a handy breakdown back in May.

Obviously, the Big Ten and Pac-12 champions won't be playing in the Rose Bowl, just as the SEC and Big 12 champions won't battle in the Sugar Bowl.

This year, the Orange Bowl is the only one of the six New Year's Day bowls to have any sort of conference tie-in. The selection committee is responsible for figuring out the remaining bowl games, which creates a ton of possibilities. As McMurphy wrote, "Bowls can no longer skip teams in the rankings to pick a lower-ranked team that travels better."

 

Sugar Bowl (No. 1 Seed vs. No. 4 Seed)

Mississippi State Bulldogs vs. Oregon Ducks

Having stumped for TCU over the last few weeks, I'm coming around on the Oregon Ducks. The totality of their 45-16 win over Stanford has them jumping ahead of the Horned Frogs. The Cardinal offense might be a complete disaster, but dropping 45 points on their defense can't be ignored.

As long as Oregon runs the table—which it should do, based on Saturday's victory—it will have the fourth seed in the playoff at the very least.

The Ducks have a nearly 41 percent chance of winning out, per ESPN College Football:

One could argue that Florida State deserves the top spot right now, but if Mississippi State goes unbeaten, it will firmly jump ahead of the Seminoles. The Bulldogs still have to play Alabama, Ole Miss and potentially the SEC East champion.

If they can do all of that, they'll be the unquestioned No. 1 team in the country.

 

Rose Bowl (No. 2 Seed vs. No. 3 Seed)

Florida State Seminoles vs. Auburn Tigers

The closest thing to a lock in the playoff is Florida State.

Head coach Jimbo Fisher discussed how winning a national title last year has only enlarged the bull's-eye on FSU's back, per ESPN.com's Andrea Adelson:

Last year, the championship game, that was a big turning point. We’re a different team because people look at us differently. Last year, we were the team that was trying to climb, so sometimes they know you’re a good team, but when you’ve won a championship and you’re winning the way we’re winning now, people are going to give you their A-game. They’re going to come prepared, and our kids are learning to do that and learning to persevere in those situations.

The 'Noles could trip up against Florida at the end of the regular season or against Duke in the ACC championship, but all signs point to them finishing in the top four.

While Florida State is a veritable guarantee, the fourth and final spot remains a massive unknown. Some would argue that one conference shouldn't send two teams to the playoff, because it defeats the idea of deciding things on the field.

However, should Auburn wind up with one loss and lose the SEC West, the Tigers would warrant inclusion. While they wouldn't have won their conference, they would have run a tougher gauntlet than either TCU/Kansas State or Ohio State/Michigan State.

Auburn's biggest remaining hurdles are Ole Miss and Alabama. The Rebels will be weaker after Laquon Treadwell's injury, so the Tigers' fate will likely hinge on the Iron Bowl, and after last year's incredible finish, nothing is sacred in that rivalry.

 

Cotton Bowl

TCU Horned Frogs vs. Michigan State Spartans

This would be a nice matchup of two one-loss teams spurned by the selection committee and thus motivated to make a statement following their respective slights. TCU and Michigan State are also two aesthetically different teams, which would lead to a nice clash of styles on the field.

The Horned Frogs and the Spartans are right on the fringe and stand to benefit the most in the event the SEC sends only one team to the playoff.

As alluded to earlier, a one-loss Auburn team would have a stronger resume than either Big Ten champion Michigan State or Big 12 champion TCU.

It may not send a good message to send two teams from the same division into the playoff, but if the playoff is truly for the four best teams in the country, the Tigers would deserve to be there.

 

Orange Bowl

Clemson Tigers vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Barring an unforeseen catastrophe, the Orange Bowl will be selecting the second-best team in the ACC. Right now, that would be the Duke Blue Devils, but by the time all is said and done, it will likely be the Clemson Tigers.

Clemson's toughest remaining game is against South Carolina, which looks easier and easier with each passing week and won't affect the Tigers' standing in the ACC. One-half of the Orange Bowl looks set.

The other spot is reserved for the Big Ten/Notre Dame/SEC. If the SEC sends two teams to the playoff, then Notre Dame will be the strongest bet for the Orange Bowl.

The Fighting Irish's schedule looked daunting before the season but has gotten weaker as the season has unfolded. They're unlikely to make a strong enough case for the playoff even if they go 11-1 during the regular season.

 

Fiesta Bowl

Ohio State Buckeyes vs. Arizona State Sun Devils

Holy Joe Germaine and Jake Plummer!

Ohio State and Arizona State have met exactly twice, with the last meeting coming in the 1997 Rose Bowl. Plummer put the Sun Devils ahead 17-14 with an 11-yard touchdown run with one minute, 40 seconds left in the game. Then, Germaine led the Buckeyes down the field and found David Boston in the end zone for the winning touchdown 20 seconds from the final whistle.

It's not like these two schools have any sort of heated rivalry, but that '97 Rose Bowl would add a nice backdrop for a potential New Year's Day meeting between the two teams.

It would also be an opportunity for Ohio State and Arizona State to test themselves outside of the conference. The Buckeyes' biggest nonconference game of the season was an upset at the hands of Virginia Tech, while the same fate could befall the Sun Devils when they take on Notre Dame.

The winner could use the Fiesta Bowl as a springboard going into 2015.

 

Peach Bowl

Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Marshall Thundering Herd

It will be interesting to see who gets paired with the highest mid-major champion. The selection committee can't stick two lesser-regarded schools together; that could be a ratings disaster. However, the committee also doesn't want to make the matchup too one-sided, or fans will turn the channel after one or two quarters.

On paper, Alabama and Marshall aren't really close.

The Crimson Tide are one of the most talented teams in the country, while the Thundering Herd haven't proved themselves against any opponent of note. Their strength of schedule is a major albatross around their neck:

But it would be nice to see Rakeem Cato tested against the Tide defense. He's one of the best quarterbacks in the country, and he'd have a chance to display his talent to a national audience.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

College Football Rankings 2014: Power Ranking All 128 Teams for Week 11

The first week of November served as the perfect start to college football's stretch run, with major games affecting the rankings from top to bottom. Teams were knocked out of playoff consideration, while others found their way into the discussion for division and conference titles and plenty more kept their hopes of a bowl bid alive.

As a result, the Bleacher Report power rankings again are completely different from a week ago.

The rankings are comprised of an average of five ratings: The Associated Press media and Amway Coaches polls, Bleacher Report's Top 25, ratings guru Jeff Sagarin's computer ratings and my personal ranking.

Take a look at how the 128 FBS teams are ranked heading into Week 11 and then give us your take in the comments section.

Begin Slideshow

Oregon Ducks vs. Utah Utes Complete Game Preview

After finally taking care of their “Stanford Problem,” the No. 5-ranked Oregon Ducks (8-1, 5-1) have cleared a lane to the inaugural College Football Playoff.

However, the No. 20-ranked Utah Utes (6-2, 3-2) will attempt to play spoiler and are the Ducks’ last true regular-season roadblock.

While the Ducks still have regular-season games against Colorado and Oregon State, the Utes will really challenge the Ducks and have one of the best home-field advantages in the entire Pac-12, if not the country.

Coming off of a huge win over Stanford, Oregon may be looking past a team that definitely has a chance to pull off the upset.

Utah features a stout defense, amazing special teams and one of the best running backs in the country in junior Devontae Booker.

Throw in the elevation of Utah’s home field—Rice-Eccles Stadium sits 4,657 feet above sea level—and you understand why the Ducks should be on high alert.

This isn’t the Utah of a couple years ago that couldn’t compete in the Pac-12. These Utes came to play this season and will be looking to right the ship after an overtime loss at Arizona State last weekend.

Meanwhile, the Ducks know they only have three more regular-season opportunities to make their case for a playoff spot.

A solid win over Utah in Salt Lake City would be of value to their resume. They also know a loss on Nov. 8 would spoil their postseason aspirations. 

Here's what you need to know:

Date: Saturday, Nov. 8

Time: 7 p.m. PT/10 p.m. ET

Place: Rice-Eccles Stadium (Salt Lake City, Utah)

TV: ESPN

Spread: Oregon -9.5, according to Odds Shark

Begin Slideshow

Virginia Tech Football: 5 Things the Hokies Must Improve During the Bye Week

At 4-5 on the year, the Virginia Tech Hokies' season is all but over. Sure, the Hokies could still win two of their next three games and go to a bowl for the 22nd consecutive season—second only to Florida State's current 35 in a row—but it's difficult to see Tech beating anyone right now. 

After the bye, the Hokies head to Duke, the defending Coastal Division champion that's currently atop the division again. Winning at Duke will be difficult, but Virginia Tech has shown an ability to win on the road this season.

After Duke, Tech heads to Wake Forest in one of the more winnable games on the schedule. Isn't that what everyone thought about East Carolina and/or Boston College?

It's the season finale that Hokie fans should be concerned about. The Hokies wrap up the season at home against archrival Virginia. Tech, of course, has dominated this rivalry for the last 20 years. UVA isn't great this season, but it does have a solid defense, and VT has struggled tremendously on offense.

The late bye week couldn't have come at a better time for the struggling Hokies. Here are five things Virginia Tech must improve in its bye week in order to go bowling for a 22nd consecutive season. 

Begin Slideshow

Nebraska Football: Huskers Must Find Right Balance for De'Mornay Pierson-El

De'Mornay Pierson-El seems like he can do just about anything. Return punts? You got it. Make big plays at wide receiver? Absolutely. Step in at quarterback? Not a problem.

The true freshman has shined in all the roles he's been given by the Nebraska coaching staff in 2014. So much so that senior wide receiver Kenny Bell couldn't help but praise Pierson-El.

“He’s going to be a great player here. There’s no question in my mind,” Bell said, per the Omaha World-Herald. “He’s got the work ethic. He’s more than intelligent enough. He works his tail off. He blocks, he catches, he does all the right stuff.”

Coordinating all the hats he wears is now crucial for Pierson-El going forward. In order to stay healthy, he must find the right balance at Nebraska.

Early in the season, returning punts was Pierson-El's bread and butter. It still arguably is, simply looking at the numbers. According to CFBStats.com, Pierson-El leads the Big Ten in total punt return yards, return attempts, touchdowns and yards per game.

 

And to be fair, punt returns still are his break and butter. After all, he has 441 yards and two touchdowns on 29 punt returns alone so far this season. Those two touchdowns were big ones, too. He had an 86-yard punt return for a touchdown against Fresno State. The other was a 62-yard touchdown run against Michigan State.

"With De'Mornay, when you get him started he's pretty hard to tackle," Pelini said about his punt returning after Purdue.

As a wide receiver, Pierson-El has 124 yards and two touchdowns on nine receptions. As he's grown in that role, he's gotten the ball more and more. Against Northwestern and Purdue, for instance, Pierson-El had six receptions combined, as he's being utilized as a wide receiver more in the second half of the season than he was in the first.

Pierson-El has even had the opportunity to play the role of quarterback this season. Against Northwestern, he came around on a reverse and took a pitch from I-back Ameer Abdullah. He then threw a 16-yard pass to quarterback Tommy Armstrong for a touchdown. 

Standing on the sidelines after the win over Purdue, there was a general consensus from those left in Memorial Stadium that there has to be a balance for Pierson-El. And there has to be if, as Pelini strongly hinted at following the win over the Boilermakers, Pierson-El is utilized more going forward.

He was in the game a lot. It just depends on where reads take the quarterback. There are other ways we can get him the football. We used the speed sweep to get him the ball, get him the ball on special teams and he caught a touchdown pass. So there's not many more ways we can get him on the field. He's still a young player and there's only so much he can handle, too.

That's the key. Pierson-El can handle only so much, so while it's possible he feels he can take on so much more, it's Pelini's job to protect him by not putting too much on the player's plate. 

Nebraska has found a playmaker in Pierson-El. Ensuring he isn't overextended will have to be the focus of Pelini and offensive coordinator Tim Beck. As a true freshman, Pierson-El has a bright future at Nebraska.

After all, he's a player that seems capable of handling everything. As long as he finds the right balance, that is.

 

All quotes were obtained firsthand, unless otherwise noted.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Is This the End for Steve Spurrier?

Nobody wants to see Steve Spurrier look like this. Well, maybe some people do, actually, people who have wanted to wipe that smirk off his face for years.    

But really, college football is better off with that smirk. Most people have seen what Spurrier has meant to the college game, if not to the NFL. He has been fun, shown passion and vitality. That's him, and it's also his football teams. Permanent youth.

On Saturday, Spurrier looked old. Tired. Resigned.

Finished?

South Carolina lost in overtime at home to Tennessee, and Spurrier's postgame press conference was a monologue that lasted 54 seconds. Not one quirk or quip. And then? He walked off. It ended this way:

"So, I don't really—I don't need to take any questions. You guys watched it and I need to just get out of here. Thank you."

Spurrier needs to just get out of here.

It might be time for Steve Spurrier to go. And if you're fluent in reading body language, you could see that he's thinking the same thing.

That press conference was hard to take. It's like when you see a champion athlete who has stayed around too long. Jack Nicklaus used to be openly scared that that would happen to him and would say he'd never want to be a ceremonial golfer.

Some of the media who have covered Spurrier are ripping him for that press conference. Bleacher Report colleague Barrett Sallee called Spurrier a coward. CBS Sports' Jon Solomon said he wasn't standing up for his team, allowing "everyone else in South Carolina's program to face the heat." The State reporter Josh Kendall made the same point via tweets.

It's all way overboard. Moreso, that's just about reporters who are used to a party when Spurrier is around. This time, like in the movie Vacation, they got to Wallyworld and found that "Sorry folks," park's closed.

Spurrier is entitled to one blow-off press conference every few decades. This isn't about manners or backbone. It's about Spurrier's psyche and will. Effectiveness, too. It's about whether he's going to want to start going through another rebuilding next year, when he turns 70.

Spurrier has fought for years not to be old. He works out and hasn't been one of those obsessive coaches who spends every second on the job, thinking of every detail of the game as a matter of national importance. Unlike so many college coaches, he relaxes. He pokes at other coaches to get into their heads, and also just to have fun.

Earlier this year, he talked to the State about Nick Saban:

"How may SECs has he won there (at Alabama) in eight years? He's won two. He's won three nationals, but he's only won two SECs in eight years. Now, if you had the No. 1 recruiting class every year and so forth, I don't know if he has maxed out potentially as well as he could."

That's not exactly calling Florida State "Free Shoes University" or saying that when a fire at Auburn accidentally burned books, the shame was that some of them hadn't been colored yet. But by now, after years of this show, the media laugh a little too hard at every Spurrier comment. They see him now and think of him a long time ago. He does not look anywhere near his age.

So maybe that's why people didn't expect this season to be such a flop. The expectations were high because people aren't seeing today's Spurrier. The narrative at the beginning of the year was that Spurrier had one last mountain to climb, and that he was up for it. He was still his same old self, only don't say "old."

This is his 10th year at South Carolina, and he has never won an SEC title there or even gotten the team to a BCS bowl game. He has been wanting that SEC title forever, to go with the six he won at Florida. South Carolina was considered a contender, even with an outside shot at getting into the College Football Playoff.

And that was never reasonable, not after losing the first pick in the NFL draft, Jadeveon Clowney, and quarterback Connor Shaw.

I think Spurrier charmed the media and fans into those expectations. Even earlier this season he openly said, roughly, that he didn't think the team was all that great, but its ranking was nice anyway.

Age is tricky. If Spurrier is burning out, it isn't likely so much about age as about just how long he has done this. Bill Snyder looked old when Kansas State hired him 25 years ago. Now, after a historically amazing building job, followed by a short retirement, he is 75 and in the national championship picture.

Spurrier looked close to being done five years ago, when South Carolina finished the season on a losing streak and then lost to Connecticut in the Papa John's Bowl. He apologized afterward, and talk about his inevitable retirement was started.

In the past three years, though, South Carolina has finished ranked in the top 10. It still needed to reach that one last mountaintop, the SEC title, and this looked to possibly be the year.

"Hopefully I've got several more years here, but you never know," Spurrier told USA Today during the offseason. "You never know. Got four more years on my contract, so that's good I guess. But if we go bad, they don't need me around here. We're planning on staying pretty good."

South Carolina is one of the worst teams in the SEC, at 2-5 in the league, 4-5 overall. His offense isn't his trademark fun 'n' gun anymore. His defense is a mess.

And he does not look like someone willing to start all over again.

"Just not good enough," he said in his postgame talk. "Not good enough to hold the lead. Not coached well enough overall as a team. I've done a lousy job of maximizing what we think we've got here. We can score a few points, but we find a way to lose.

"Yes, this is a tough one. It'll take a while to get this one out of your system. But we've had about three or four like this, this year, so I guess I should be getting used to it by now."

He has won too big, and had too much fun to ever get used to this. It would just be nice to see someone wipe that smirk back onto his face.

 

Greg Couch covers college football for Bleacher Report. He also writes for The New York Times and was formerly a scribe for FoxSports.com and the Chicago Sun-Times. Follow him on Twitter @gregcouch.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Super 16 Poll Week 11: Complete Rankings Released for 2014 Season

Every week in college football, dreams are broken. When only four teams can reach the College Football Playoff, well, a single play can end a season. 

But what if that wasn't the case? What if 16 teams had the chance to get in?

Those are the questions the voters for the Super 16 Poll ask each week, as they base their rankings on a theoretical 16-team playoff system. It's a bit of fun and, more importantly, it offers a new slant on every college football fan's favorite pastime: debate. 

Let's take a look at how their poll shaped up this week along with Bleacher Report's official Top 25.

 

Rankings

  

Analysis

In a 16-team playoff system, teams like Ole Miss, Georgia and Arizona would have a great chance of either keeping themselves in the postseason or fighting their way back into the top 16. In the current four-team postseason, however, each team is likely done and dusted. 

In a sense, that's both the greatest strength and weakness of the current format. With so few teams having a shot at a national championship, every week is essentially a playoff game. That was the prevailing strength of the BCS system, and it has carried over to the four-team playoff system. In fact, it might be even more pronounced. 

The weakness, of course, is that Ole Miss can see its hopes for the season dashed in two weeks, an away loss to a tough LSU team and a home loss to Auburn on a brutal play where the Rebels thought they had scored a touchdown but instead saw it ruled a fumble and a touchback for Auburn.

Add in a season-ending broken leg to receiver Laquon Treadwell on the day, per The Associated Press, via NCAA.com, and you have one of the most devastating moments in the history of Ole Miss football. Maybe the most devastating moment.

And the end of their postseason hopes it would seem, too.

After the incident, Treadwell posted the following picture on Instagram:

The caption reads:

Not everything in life is set out to be easy, & not every plan we have for ourselves work out in our favor. Even the greatest & most powerful people we praise or look up to have huge downfalls, but it takes a strong person & an even stronger mindset to prepare for that major come back. It didn't kill me, so watch as I become stronger. Thanks for the prayers everyone, God bless.

One imagines Ole Miss will try to embrace that perspective as well.

Of course, the other flaw of the four-team system is that, well, we only get to see four teams go at it in the postseason, leaving us with trivial—and admittedly compelling and addictive—debates over whether Alabama or Oregon should be No. 4. Or TCU. Or Michigan State. Or Notre Dame. Or...

Sure, it's fun to point out that Alabama lacks a signature win, or to question Oregon's defense, or to wonder whether Notre Dame can finish with a strong enough strength of schedule to crack the top four if it wins out (the Irish will be hanging their hats on wins over Stanford, Arizona State, Louisville and USC if they win out, a resume that appears as though it won't stack up to any SEC West school, for example).

But what if they just all played one another? Wouldn't that be even more fun?

Well, we can dream, right? Until then, we debate. That's the beauty of college football—either way, we're all having a blast. 

 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

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