NCAA Football News

Ohio State's Surge Should Put Them in the College Football Playoff

With a crucial 31-24 win over Minnesota last Saturday, Ohio State is no longer on the outside hoping to be selected to play in the inaugural College Football Playoff. The Buckeyes are now a legitimate contender, if not favorite, among the one-loss teams.

If the committee remains consistent in looking favorably at road wins against Top 25 opponents, the Buckeyes should rise to No. 5 when the Week 3 college football playoff rankings are released later today.

Over the next few weeks, the committee’s task of selecting the four best teams will be increasingly intense as it tries to sort through the myriad of one-loss teams. Oregon and Alabama are locks if they finish with one loss. It feels like Florida State should have about four losses, but like any great champion the Seminoles are refusing to go down. They are in unless they finally collapse.

Preferably the debate gets settled on the field, but rarely has college football been that simple and clean.

All things being relatively equal, the interesting question is whether or not the committee will place more value on how teams are playing now versus September. Mississippi State and TCU have fallen off a bit and Baylor and Ohio State appear to be peaking.

All four teams can make a case to be included in the playoff. How does Ohio State stack up against the other one-loss teams? Pretty favorably when you compare the results.


Team Key Wins Losses Opponents' Record Non-Conference Opponents Remaining Games Baylor TCU, Oklahoma WVU 44-47 SMU, Northwestern State, Buffalo Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, Kansas State Mississippi State Auburn, LSU Alabama 59-46 SMU, South Alabama, UAB, UT-Martin Vanderbilt, Mississippi, *SEC Championship Ohio State Michigan State, Minnesota Virginia Tech 54-45 Navy, Virginia Tech, Kent State, Cincinnati Indiana, Michigan, *Big Ten Football Championship TCU Minnesota, WVU Baylor 53-44 Samford, Minnesota, SMU Texas, Iowa State

*Mississippi State will play in the SEC Championship game if it beats Ole Miss and Alabama loses to Auburn.  Ohio State will play in the Big Ten Football Championship if it beats Indiana this Saturday.  

Beyond winning out, here are other factors that the committee will use to evaluate the Buckeyes against the other teams.


Eye Test

The Buckeyes' win over the Golden Gophers was a little too close for comfort, mainly because of two turnovers. No team is perfect, so punishing the Buckeyes for a few mistakes is hardly warranted. But protecting the ball and playing better against the run is critical if they want to pass the committee’s eye test.

The expectation is Ohio State should not be tested by Indiana or Michigan the next two weeks. Anything less than comfortable wins will damage their chances of winning style points.


Bowl Eligible Non-Conference Opponents

Few would argue that Ohio State’s non-conference schedule was challenging, but it was certainly better than TCU’s, Mississippi State’s and Baylor’s schedule.

Virginia Tech and Navy can both finish 7-5 and Cincinnati can finish 9-3. If this happens, the Buckeyes will have played three bowl-eligible teams. They also avoided playing any FCS teams and that needs to be factored into the comparison.

The Horned Frogs' non-conference schedule will include one bowl-eligible team, Minnesota. The Buckeyes also beat the Golden Gophers on the road in miserable conditions, so at best this is a split. Advantage Ohio State.

Baylor’s non-conference schedule will include one bowl-eligible team if Buffalo wins its final two games. Advantage goes to Ohio State.

Mississippi State’s non-conference schedule might include two bowl eligible teams if UAB wins another game. South Alabama is already eligible. Advantage, again, Ohio State.



The one-loss teams all have a black eye. The Buckeyes' loss to the Hokies, while not good, should no longer be an anchor holding back the perception of this team.

If this loss continues to be an issue for the committee, then it should also diminish Mississippi’s State’s artificially enhanced strength of schedule that was produced by racking up early wins against vastly over-rated teams like Texas A&M and LSU.

Regardless, the perception of the SEC West's dominance has been exposed over the last few weeks. That alone should kill the idea that two teams from the SEC deserve to be in the playoff. At this point, it would be shocking and reprehensible if the committee selected Alabama and Mississippi State.

I would also contend that TCU and Baylor allowing 61 and 58 points in a game against each other hardly reflects the qualities of championship-caliber teams. If Florida State gets penalized for starting slow, Baylor should too. TCU should also be penalized for ending this game badly

The lack of a championship game will hurt the Big 12 champion. Mississippi State's chances will be diminished should it fail to play in the SEC Championship. The Big Ten Football Championship will give the committee one last chance to assess the Buckeyes against a highly ranked opponent. If Ohio State redeems itself and wins the championship this season, it has the strongest case for making the playoff.

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Jaelen Strong Injury: Updates on Arizona State Star's Concussion and Return

As the Arizona State Sun Devils make their push for the Pac-12 Championship Game, they may be without leading wide receiver Jaelen Strong.

According to Doug Haller of AZ Central, Strong suffered a concussion in ASU's heartbreaking loss to Oregon State on Saturday. 

Strong, who came down hard while going up for a pass late during ASU's attempted comeback, was removed from the game and did not return. AZ Central provides a photo of him attempting to get back on the field, though the team rightfully kept him out of play due to his head injury.

The Sun Devils may now need to take on Washington State without their best player. Though they will be heavily favored against the Cougars, the loss last week has taught ASU not to take conference opponents lightly.

Strong had a historically strong season in his first year at ASU. His 75 receptions for 1,122 yards are fifth and sixth, respectively, in the school's record book.

Coming off a campaign like that, much was expected of Strong in 2014. listed him on its preseason All-Pac-12 team, calling him "one of the conference’s best and a future pro."

When Taylor Kelly was out injured, Strong stepped up in a big way, recording two of his best performances with backup quarterback Mike Bercovici. Although it came in a losing effort, his 12 receptions for 146 against UCLA helped keep the Sun Devils until the third quarter. Two weeks later, his 10 receptions for 202 yards and three touchdowns were the difference in a 38-34 upset of USC.

With the way that Bercovici filled in for Kelly, one could argue that Strong is the most irreplaceable player in the ASU offense.

Arizona State has exceeded expectations in 2014, but in order for the team to make it to the conference championship, it will need Strong lined up out wide.

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4-Star Ohio State Commit Matthew Burrell Bringing Versatility, Recruiting Chops

Ohio State’s 2015 recruiting class netted a huge addition on Monday when 4-star offensive lineman Matthew Burrell committed to the Buckeyes.

Urban Meyer and his staff were able to beat out the likes of Florida State, Penn State, LSU and Tennessee for the 6’5”, 302-pounder’s commitment.

Burrell is the 21st pledge in a class that surged into the No. 5 spot in the 247Sports Team Rankings.

But what are the Buckeyes getting in Burrell, and what were the deciding factors that led him to commit to Meyer? 

According to his offensive line coach at C.D. Hylton High School in Woodbridge, Virginia—John Harris—Meyer and Buckeyes offensive line coach Ed Warinner played a pivotal role in Burrell’s choice.

“Matt’s big thing is relationships,” Harris said. “He’s a kid [who] is going to work very hard and do whatever he’s asked to do. He wanted to make sure that he trusted his head coach, but also that he trusted his position coach. He always had a good relationship with Coach Meyer. The more that [he] and Coach Warinner got to know each other, the more comfortable he felt with his decision.”

The Buckeyes have recruited him persistently since his sophomore season, and the trust factor with Meyer is what helped the Buckeyes stave off late pushes from schools such as Penn State, LSU and Tennessee. 

“He really just believed in what Coach Meyer was saying to him,” Harris said. “Matt is big on that. For him, if he’s going to dedicate the next four or five years of his life to you, he wants to know exactly who you are.”

As far as what they getting on the field with Burrell, Harris said it’s a package of smarts, physical toughness and versatility that made the U.S. Army All-American such a coveted prospect.

According to Barton Simmons of 247Sports, Burrell is a player who has proven to be at his best when competing against elite talents during numerous summer camps and at The Opening.

Harris praised his star pupil for being a punishing blocker with great footwork. But considering that he has a GPA of “a little over 3.5,” what sets Burrell apart is his intelligence and maturity level on and off the field. Those attributes, combined with his ability to play at multiple positions on the line, could help him get on the field early in Columbus.

“I think the thing that will help him the most is that he can play every position on the offensive line. As a young player on the next level, it kind of helps that he won’t be only a tackle or guard or center. That fact that he’s not only physically able to do it, but mentally knows how to play every position, that’s what will help him get on the field faster.

Just because he’s committed doesn’t mean that Burrell is done with the recruiting process. In fact, his next job may be to help the Buckeyes close out the 2015 class with a bang.

According to Harris, that’s a job that he’s more than capable of filling due to his outgoing personality.

“Not only is he a great player, with his personality, he’s going to be a great recruiter for them for years to come,” Harris said. "If I was his coach [at Ohio State], I would tell Matt to get on the bandwagon and start helping them recruit.”


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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The State of the Heisman Trophy: Looking Beyond the Usual Candidates

ATLANTA — It's time to reinvent the Heisman Trophy.   

This is going to read like a putdown of the Heisman. It's not. It is meant as a nudge to restore the credibility that has eroded. A lot of fans watch the ceremony. Many others shrug. They know the winner in advance.

It is a fabulous award, a lifetime achievement for the winner. I know a Heisman winner, personally, and he is a good guy who was rewarded for a great season. If he became governor the first thing someone would say along the inaugural parade route is, "There goes the Heisman Trophy winner"—not, "There goes the guy who is going to fix education in this state."

That said, the voting for the most prestigious individual award in sports is shallow. Shallow as in a shallow pool of candidates and the benchmarks used by voters. Even if the Heisman Trust had its way and could muzzle all voters and polls and stop the vote from being shaped in November, you could pick the winner nine times out of 10 by December 1.

There was a website that predicted the Heisman winner 12 straight years. It doesn't seem to be following the race this year. It must have gotten bored and gone off to predict senate races. That, or the Heisman Trust businessmen got an injunction because the Internet guy killed the suspense.

Here is the winning formula. Don't tell anybody.

A quarterback or running back on a top 5 team with a bundle of yards.

Here is the backup formula.

A quarterback or running back on a team that has two or three losses, and that quarterback or running back has just too many yards to ignore. He's in, too.

There is the stray season, every 50 years or so, when hallowed Notre Dame is undefeated, its offense is merely OK, and somebody has to be in the mix for the Irish. So linebacker Manti Te'o finished second in 2009.

The pool of 11,250 Division I players gets whittled down to six guys pretty quickly with this formula.

You know and I know, Captain Obvious, the best college football player in America is not always a quarterback or running back.

This would be a terrific season to change the picture and find an offensive lineman, defensive lineman or linebacker who should be considered for the award. Front-runners have dropped out and created space. There is room for a wild card.

Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota is a strong candidate, and right now he is running away with it. Who doesn't like this kid? He might deserve it, but Mariota needs some rightful competition. I would guess that Mariota, Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon, TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin and Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper will be invited. Tell me I'm wrong.

It's time the voters put more thought behind their ballots. Up until five years ago, it was almost impossible for them to make a case for a linemen or defensive player because you couldn't see them all. You had to go by the stats, or the game on TV, or a really terrific PR campaign, or the local Heisman pundit.

The stats and TV could not have told you that Utah defensive lineman Star Lotulelei, not Te'o, was a much better football players than Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel in 2012. You had to wait for the NFL scouts to tell you with the draft. Utah wasn't on TV much and D-linemen do not rack up big stats.

These days, there is no excuse not to poke around and watch a defensive lineman who rules in the trenches. Every game, it seems, is being taped by a media outlet and available on TV. Every game among the Power 5 is on a screen somewhere. There are rewinds galore available on the Internet.

So I invite the 929 Heisman voters, which include former winners, to go watch some clips of Southern Cal defensive tackle Leonard Williams, or Alabama's A'Shawn Robinson, or Washington outside linebacker/running back Shaq Thompson. See that guy Thompson for yourself. He averaged 7.2 yards per rush in one three-game stretch, yet he is a better linebacker. Who knew?

What about Alabama's Robinson at LSU? It took double teams to move him out of the hole, and the Tigers' fierce rushing game managed less than 4 yards a pop.

Wisconsin's Gordon had a great game against Nebraska. Got all those yards by himself did he? He was not the only guy on the field worth watching.

Why not just look at the Badgers' No. 7 flying around the defense, a marauder. Michael Caputo is a terrific player. He's a strong safety, I think, but hits people like an outside linebacker and goes where he wants to on the field. What about him? Watch him.

What about Wisconsin middle linebacker Marcus Trotter, a former walk-on? Did you see him against Nebraska? He has a made for TV story.

Here is what I know. The guys I go to in a locker room first are usually offensive linemen. The offensive linemen are asked to learn every position along the line in case of injuries. They are regularly tested—sometimes Friday nights before a game—to see if they know the blocking scheme against every defensive front. They have to dissect things. These guys can be pretty smart in front of cameras. Consider them with your Heisman vote.

If I'm building a team, an O-lineman is the first pick, unless Peyton Manning or Andrew Luck are sitting there.

The recent Heisman formula just isn't very complicated. The best quarterback on the best team by December 1 is the winner, or else it's the quarterback with the most sizzle on a team with two losses. Some years, if an undefeated team is dominating, and it has a 1,000-yard rusher, there is your winner. It leaves as a distant fourth the best player in the country in 2009, Nebraska defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh, who had 12 tackles and 4.5 sacks in the 2009 Big 12 Championship Game.

It is getting harder and harder to sound a trumpet for another position to win the award because the game has become so quarterback-centric. The QBs just spit the ball out here and there, or they keep it. Their statistics pile up.

Defensive backs have the Lott Award. Linemen have the Outland. They are well-served. Quarterbacks and running backs have their awards, too, so you can't argue the linemen and defensive guys are already taken care of.

The award that counts the most in our college football culture is the Heisman. Make it mean something.


Ray Glier covers college football for Bleacher Report. He has covered college football and various other sports for 20 years. His work has appeared in USA TodayThe New York Times, CNN, The Washington Post and Al Jazeera America. He is the author of How the SEC Became Goliath (Howard/Simon & Schuster, 2013).

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Alabama Football: JK Scott Is the Surprising X-Factor for Fearsome Tide Defense

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — When Alabama punter JK Scott jogs off the field after booming another one of his high, arcing punts that pins an opponent deep in their own end, safety Nick Perry gives him a thumbs up. Scott returns the gesture with a salute.

“He thinks he has swag,” Perry says, laughing.

Whatever swag Scott does have is much deserved.

The freshman punter from Denver, who was listed by most recruiting services as a kicker, has come in and immediately become one of Alabama’s most dominant players at his position.

He’s second in the country in punting average (46.84 yards) and tied for first in net punting (43.3 yards). As a true freshman, Scott is a semifinalist for the Ray Guy Award.

From his first career punt in the Georgia Dome that traveled 62 yards to his 46-yarder the flipped the field in the fourth quarter against Mississippi State, Scott has almost become the Alabama defense’s secret weapon this season.

“He’s great. He’s great,” defensive lineman A’Shawn Robinson said. “He’s a great punter. He does his job well and he counts on us to do our job well.”

Alabama coach Nick Saban can only gush when talking about his punter.

Where he preaches the process and constant improvement with most players, he says that with specialists like Scott, that isn’t the case.

“You know one of the biggest challenges I think for specialists, and we’ve gone through this with several of our guys, sometimes good enough is good enough. You don’t have to keep trying to get better. When you’re kicking every one of them 50 and 55 yards with a 5.0 [second] hangtime, that’s good enough. You don’t really have to try to keep going. And he’s one of those guys who always really wants to try to do a little better and keep going. He’s done a great job for us and certainly changed field position in critical times in several games this year.” 

Stop and think about that for a second. Saban, the ultimate perfectionist, telling a freshman they’re good enough.

The Legend of JK Scott continues to grow each week. It took a major step in Alabama’s win over No. 1 Mississippi State.

There’s an argument to be made that Scott was responsible for the biggest play of the game.

Alabama decided to go for it on 4th-and-4 at the MSU 33-yard line in the first quarter. Freshman left tackle Cam Robinson jumped offside, though, and Saban decided to punt.

Scott sent one 34 yards to the Bulldogs’ 4-yard line. After an incomplete pass, the defense tackled running back Josh Robinson in the end zone for a safety, setting the tone for a dominant defensive performance.

“The MVP of the game is probably Alabama’s punter,” Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen said after the game in quotes emailed by Alabama. “When you’re playing quality teams, it’s hard to just think you’re just going to drive the ball at will on an excellent defense like Alabama. That ended up being a major factor.”

Scott’s defensive teammates agreed.

"He really deserves all the credit for that (safety) and we're glad to have him," defensive end Jonathan Allen told Brad Zimanek of the Montgomery Advertiser. "JK is a great punter. We really feed off him. After he punts, we really go out there excited. You cannot give him enough credit for the success of the defense in this game.

"He's really a part of the defense … a 12th man on the defense."

Scott flipping the field for the Alabama defense has been a major part of that unit's success this season, and it's given a lanky kid from Denver a little big of "swag" on a national title-contending team.


Marc Torrence is the Alabama lead writer for Bleacher Report. All quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. All stats come from cfbstats and ESPN. All recruiting information from 247Sports.

Follow on Twitter @marctorrence.

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SEC Football Q&A: What's More Likely, 2 SEC Playoff Teams or Zero?

The biggest game in Mississippi State history didn't go the way head coach Dan Mullen expected, as the previously No. 1 Bulldogs fell to Alabama in Tuscaloosa on Saturday 25-20 and lost control of their own SEC West destiny.

What about their playoff destiny, though?

Whether they're in or out of the Top Four this week in the College Football Playoff rankings, the 9-1 Bulldogs have a pretty strong case to make for the inaugural event. 

If both Alabama and Mississippi State win out, will both make it? Will chaos continue and zero teams make it? That question, plus a look at a Georgia freshman sensation and an SEC Championship Game prediction are in this week's SEC Q&A.


Without question, it's more likely that zero SEC teams are in the College Football Playoff than it is that two get in.

It doesn't really matter where they're ranked midseason. One of the stated points of emphasis of the selection committee is conference championships, and those simply won't exist until championship Saturday. How important will they be?

"All I heard about before this thing got started was the commissioners—the only reason they agreed to this—is if the conference champion...'the only way we agree to this is if the conference champions were going to be recognized and honored by having a chance to get in there,'" ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit told B/R during his tour promoting the Allstate VIP "It's Good" sweepstakes . "I didn't just hear that one or two times, I heard that repeatedly."

That should terrify Mississippi State fans because there will be one-loss teams with conference titles to boast on "Selection Sunday," and if Mississippi State isn't one of them, it runs the risk of getting jumped despite a resume that might be stronger than some conference champions.

Zero SEC teams in the College Football Playoff? That could happen. If Missouri or Georgia beats the SEC West contender in the SEC Championship Game, neither would be a lock for a playoff spot. Missouri has an ugly home loss to Indiana on its resume, and Georgia's losses to South Carolina and Florida won't sit well with the selection committee, either.

If chalk holds around the country and Florida State, Oregon, TCU/Baylor and Ohio State all don't lose, I don't see either of those SEC East teams getting in.


Oh, without a doubt.

What Nick Chubb has done this season has been nothing short of remarkable. During incredibly trying and unexpected times, he stepped in for superstar Todd Gurley during his suspension, and the offense didn't miss a beat.

For a true freshman to step in and rush for 1,039 yards on 152 carries and score nine touchdowns is impressive regardless of the situation. But to do it in the middle of a division title race in place of a superstar who is unexpectedly absent makes him one of the—if not the—most valuable players on Georgia's roster.

With that said, though, it's going to be very difficult for Chubb—or any running back—to win the Heisman Trophy. Only two non-quarterbacks have won it since 2000, and one of those was former USC star Reggie Bush, who returned it after the NCAA came calling.

Chubb will be in the mix and a big part of Georgia's offense next year, especially considering it'll be breaking in a new starting quarterback. But he might have to have a Melvin Gordon-like season to have a legitimate chance at winning.


After the way Auburn looked against Georgia—with literally nothing going right—it's hard to imagine the Tigers rolling into Tuscaloosa and upsetting the Alabama Crimson Tide in two weeks. So I'll switch my pick and say Alabama now.

In the East, I'll go with Georgia.

The Bulldogs are in the clubhouse with a 6-2 conference record and need Missouri to lose one of its final two games—at Tennessee and vs. Arkansas—to go to Atlanta. Not only will Missouri lose this weekend to the Vols, it'll lose both.

Tennessee has found a spark in quarterback Joshua Dobbs, and its defense should be able to rattle Tigers quarterback Maty Mauk, who has thrown 10 picks and is ninth in the SEC in passer rating (118.56). Arkansas' defense found some life last week in the shutout over LSU and, now that it knows what it takes to win in the SEC, will be difficult for anyone to stop moving forward.

If it's Alabama vs. Georgia in Atlanta, it would be a rematch of the 2012 classic that saw Georgia fall five yards short of winning the SEC and advancing to the BCS National Championship Game. That would make for quite a matchup.


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, and all recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports. Follow Barrett on Twitter @BarrettSallee.

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Todd Gurley's Legacy Will Go Down as the Best Big-Play RB in Georgia History

Barring an unlikely decision to return for his senior season, Georgia running back Todd Gurley’s collegiate career has ended.

Gurley’s time as a Bulldog ends without a Heisman Trophy and (as of this moment) without an SEC Championship.  He’ll go down as second in Georgia history in a host of statistical categories—rushing yards, rushing touchdowns, all-purpose yards, total touchdowns, etc.  But his legacy as the greatest big-play running back in Georgia history is what cements him as one of college football’s all-time greats.

On paper, Gurley shouldn’t be in such high-profile conversations.  Coming out of high school, Gurley was not even the most celebrated running back recruit of Georgia’s 2012 class.  According to ESPN, Scout and 247Sports, that distinction belonged to fellow North Carolina native Keith Marshall.  Of the major recruiting services, only Rivals listed Gurley ahead of Marshall.  To be sure, his commitment was celebrated, but Marshall was the running back of the future.

Once he arrived on campus and former SEC Freshman of the Year Isaiah Crowell departed, that story changed.  But even with Gurley’s rapid and unexpected (if not downright shocking) rise to stardom, his overall output still exceeds what seems feasible given his input.  Put more bluntly: Todd Gurley didn’t play all that much football at the University of Georgia.

As a freshman, Gurley played in all 14 of Georgia’s contests, but his playing time diminished in 2013 and 2014. His sophomore year was plagued by leg injuries and as a result he missed large chunks of the Clemson and LSU games and the entirety of three midseason conference games.  This year, Gurley played just one offensive series as Georgia dismantled Troy, and he famously missed four games due to suspension.  Now, he’ll miss the remainder of the season with a knee injury.

Though the Bulldogs currently trail Missouri in SEC East standings, there’s still a hope for Georgia to sneak into the SEC Championship Game.  If that scenario comes to fruition the Dawgs will play 14 games this season, which means Gurley will have appeared in just 30 of 41 possible games over the course of his three-year career.  But despite that low appearance rate, he’s fully worthy of comparison to the greatest running backs in college football history if for no other reason than his ability to make big plays in big games.

Saying that Gurley burst onto the scene in 2012 would be giving bursts too much credit. 

In his first career game against Buffalo, Gurley came off the bench (Ken Malcome, now with Southern Illinois, started) and turned eight carries into 100 yards and two touchdowns while adding a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.  By comparison and in hindsight, Buffalo was hardly a big game for the Bulldogs.  But that type of performance in a significant game for a true freshman set the tone for Gurley’s career.

Later that season he gashed Tennessee for 130 yards and three scores in a 51-44 shootout.  He topped the 100-yard marker against Florida and in doing so helped Georgia win consecutive games against the Gators for the first time since the 1980s. 

In his inaugural appearance in the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry, he ran for 116 yards on just 11 carries against Auburn.  Later, in the SEC Championship Game he ran for 122 yards, the highest total surrendered by the Alabama Crimson Tide all season.  True to big-game form, Gurley ran for 125 yards in a bowl game victory over Nebraska.

His sophomore campaign, injury-riddled as it may have been, was still defined by big plays against big competition.

Against two powers from the Palmetto State, Clemson and South Carolina, Gurley combined for 295 yards of offense and four touchdowns.  Against highly ranked LSU he racked up 86 yards of offense on just nine touches before going down with injury. 

His huge first-half performance against Florida propelled Georgia to victory and his 156-yard offensive output against Auburn kept the Dawgs in the game.  In a 41-34 victory over Georgia Tech, Gurley accounted for both scores and all 50 yards of offense in the two overtime periods.

Even in his ill-fated junior campaign, Gurley provided enough highlights to hide the darkness of his suspension and injury.

He set a school record for all-purpose yardage and notched four touchdowns in the season opener against Clemson.  He ran resiliently in defeat against South Carolina.  He took over the Tennessee game late with 129 yards, five first downs and a touchdown in the fourth quarter alone as Georgia held on for a 35-32 victory. 

Even in a blowout win over Vanderbilt, Gurley stood out thanks in no small part to a 50-yard completed pass to tight end Jeb Blazevich (to date, the longest pass of the season for Georgia).

As fans, particularly college football fans, we know all too well that all good things come to an end.  But Todd Gurley wasn’t a good thing; he was a great thing.  In some regards, that greatness is magnified by the unaligned way with which his fantastic career came to such a heart-wrenchingly ugly end.

As news of Gurley’s ACL tear spread this week, Georgia head coach Mark Richt told Chip Towers of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that Gurley was a pleasure to coach.  “Todd has been fantastic,” he said.  “Without a doubt one of the best running backs I’ve ever seen or ever coached.  Practiced hard, played hard, loved the big games and played his heart out for Georgia.”

Richt poignantly encapsulated this intricately brilliant career in just a few short words.  Gurley practiced hard.  He played hard.  He was one of the best.  But no one so consistently provided big plays in the biggest moments. That’s what Todd Gurley will be remembered for at the collegiate level, and that’s what he’ll do as a professional.


Unless otherwise noted, all quotes obtained firsthand and all stats courtesy of

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Which Elite 2015 Recruits Have the Attributes to Make the Ultimate CB?

A college cornerback must possess many attributes, including ball skills, physicality, speed and vision. Each cornerback recruit excels in different areas, but we have combined them to make the ultimate cornerback recruit for the 2015 class.

Bleacher Report College Football Analyst Michael Felder breaks down the attributes to make the ultimate 2015 cornerback recruit. 

What do you think makes a good cornerback?

Watch the video and let us know!

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Sheldon Day Injury: Updates on Notre Dame Star's Knee and Return

Notre Dame Fighting Irish defensive lineman Sheldon Day has an MCL sprain and will miss Saturday’s game against the Louisville Cardinals at home, according to Douglas Farmer of 247Sports:

Day, a junior, has seen extensive action for the Irish since his freshman season and is a valuable presence up front.   

He has amassed 38 combined tackles in his 10 games this season. He earned his first sack of the year against Northwestern last week. The Fighting Irish are 7-3 with Day in the lineup.


*Stats via

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Watch High School Onside Kick Go Terribly Wrong

Trickery can be a useful tool in sports, unless you're playing Hugh Cade of Buchtel High School (Akron, Ohio), who will have none of it. Watch as a team tries a surprise onside kick, and then watch what Cade does. 

Have you ever seen a worse onside kick attempt?

Watch the video and let us know!

Highlights courtesy of Hudl.

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Michigan Wolverines vs. Maryland Terrapins Complete Game Preview

Michigan (5-5, 3-3 Big Ten) has bounced back with two consecutive victories after being thrashed by instate rival Michigan State, 35-11, at the end of last month. The victories have kept bowl hopes alive, but Brady Hoke needs another win to extend Michigan’s season.

Michigan returns home to face Maryland (6-4, 3-3 Big Ten) for senior day, where 12 players will have their last game at Michigan Stadium. But defensive end Frank Clark will not be among them after being dismissed from the program following an arrest for domestic violence.

Clark’s dismissal was only part of the drama for Hoke during Michigan’s bye week. University president Mark Schlissel was forced to backtrack after launching a verbal assault on the academic integrity of the Michigan football program. Hoke accepted Schlissel’s apology while citing statistics that every football player who stayed through their senior season (69) had graduated during his tenure.

Turmoil continues to swirl around the football program as Michigan looks to seal a bowl bid with a victory in its home finale. The early onset of wintery weather in Michigan coupled with a 3:30 p.m. start time promises sparse attendance (at least by Michigan’s standards) for what may be Brady Hoke’s swan song as head coach.

Date: Saturday, November 22, 2014

Time: 3:30 p.m. EDT

Place: Michigan Stadium (109,901), Ann Arbor, Mich.

Series vs. Maryland: Michigan leads series 3-0

Television: BTN

Radio: Michigan Sports Network, Sirius (113), XM (195)

Spread: Michigan by 3 via Odds Shark

Live Stats: University of Michigan Statbroadcast

Last Meeting vs. Maryland:

Maryland suffered a 45-17 loss at Michigan Stadium in 1990. Michigan (9-3, 6-2 Big Ten) went on to finish the season No. 7 in the AP poll after defeating Ole Miss 35-3 in the Gator Bowl. Maryland finished 6-5-1 (4-3 ACC) and tied Louisiana Tech 34-34 in the Independence Bowl.

*Information according to University of Michigan Wolverine Football game notes.

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Why Texas Is the Team No College Football Team Wants to Face in a Bowl Game

Charlie Strong's Texas Longhorns are bowl-eligible. That could be bad news for whichever team gets matched up against them in the postseason. 

A convincing 28-7 rout at Oklahoma State in Week 12 marked the third straight win for Texas—and the fourth in the past five games—after it began the season 2-4. David Ubben of Fox Sports Southwest calls Texas the most improved team in the Big 12 from the start of conference play to now. 

It started with changing the mentality and honoring Strong's core values: honesty, treating women with respect, and no drugs, stealing or guns. 

By the time Texas took the field against Oklahoma State, Strong was convincing his players that the outside temperature was just a number. 

To be clear, the Longhorns aren't college football's most dangerous team. They're not going to be playing in a College Football Playoff semifinal, and there's only a thin chance they'll actually win the Big 12.

Still, the turnaround in Austin appears to have started. Here's how it happened. 


Growing Pains and Buying In

It helps that the Horns have been able to improve against the softer part of their schedule. Even before the season began, the first six games—which included BYU, UCLA, Baylor and Oklahoma—looked daunting. Then came the attrition through injuries, suspensions and dismissals.

Texas lost its two most valuable offensive players, center Dominic Espinosa and quarterback David Ash, to season- and career-ending injuries, respectively, in early September. The O-line was one of the least experienced groups in major college football, and backup quarterback Tyrone Swoopes was thrust into the starting job. 

On top of that, starting cornerback Quandre Diggs, an outspoken leader of the team, told Max Olson of in July that there were players on the roster who weren't going to last: 

I told Coach Strong that I just feel like we had guys on the team that just didn't love football the way they should. That's something that I've always sensed since I've been here: We had guys that just didn't love football. If you don't love football, you don't need to be a part of this university or a part of this team. That's just something I feel greatly and strong about.

Combine the attrition and inexperience, and there were going to be growing pains. 

Texas' talented defense, which includes players such as Diggs and defensive tackle Malcolm Brown, has usually played well enough to win. On the season, the Horns have given up just 21 points per game, 19th in the country, and 4.59 yards per play. In short, the defense did what it could, but it didn't get help from the offense until recently. 

Sure enough, close games resulted in losses. In three of Texas' five losses, the Longhorns trailed by only one possession at halftime. Only Kansas State led by two, and the Horns actually led UCLA at the half. 

Texas has been an awful second-half team, specifically in the third quarter, when the offense usually came out flat. In third quarters, Texas averages just under 3.6 yards per carry on the ground—nearly a full yard less than in the first half. On the season, Texas has scored just two touchdowns in the third quarter. 

That's not helping the defense, and the results showed. In the second half of games this season, the Longhorns have given up nearly double the rush yards (2.89 in the first half versus 4.79 in the second), though they remain consistent against the pass (about 5.5 yards per attempt given up per game). 

Once the offense got going, things changed for the better. 


An Offensive Revival 

Now that the offense has picked up and scored 31.7 points per game in the month of November, Texas is looking like a team that can cause headaches for opponents. 

Texas is not a high-powered offense. The Horns run about 71 plays per game and aren't very explosive, but the offense is becoming more effective. In the last five games, Swoopes has thrown for at least 200 yards three times and has five touchdowns to just two interceptions. 

Swoopes has been and continues to be a work in progress. He takes three steps forward, two steps back and so on, but he easily had his best game of the season against the Cowboys. With the one-two punch of Johnathan Gray and Brown at running back, it's a pick-your-poison type of backfield. In two of the past three games, Gray or Brown has eclipsed the 100-yard rushing mark.

That also says a lot about how the offensive line has come together. 

It's not an offense to be compared to the likes of Baylor or TCU, but it works for a defensive-minded coach like Strong. Over the past three games, Texas has exerted dominance over middle-of-the-road Big 12 teams. 

It's not a narrative-driven Big 12 offense that runs 100 plays and scores 50 points a game, but that was never going to be Strong's modus operandi. Rather, it's a slow, gradual tightening of the noose that's never truly a blowout but never in doubt either. 

Whether that formula works in Texas' season-ending game against TCU (Nov. 27) remains to be seen. The Frogs are on a path to at least a share of the Big 12 title and could be a playoff team. The difference in offensive production from a year ago to now for TCU might be the most dramatic in the country. 

Certainly, it could be Texas' toughest challenge to date. Win or lose, making TCU work for everything, like the Longhorns have made other teams do all year, would be a sign that the Longhorns are still improving. 

One benefit of going to a bowl is the extra practice, which Texas badly needs. Every chance for Swoopes to improve, for the offensive line to play together, for the team to continue to grow is valuable.  

With as many as 15 more practices under Texas' belt, the Longhorns could be the team no opponent wants to play in bowl season. 


Ben Kercheval is a lead writer for college football. All stats courtesy of 

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Florida Shouldn't Be Scared of Hiring a Coordinator as Its New Head Coach

The coaching silly season got off to a quick start in mid-November, when Florida announced that head coach Will Muschamp will be stepping down at the end of the season after four years in Gainesville.

So where does Florida go from here?

Athletic director Jeremy Foley shed some light into what specifically he's looking for on Monday.

"We would obviously like an individual that's been successful on the offensive side of the ball, I think obviously that's what the Gator Nation wants and we see that and that's what we're certainly going to try to provide for them," he said in quotes emailed by Florida.

So does that eliminate coordinators from consideration?

Muschamp got the role with no previous experience as a head coach, and the idea of going the coordinator route again might not sit well with the fanbase. When asked specifically if the new coach has to have head coaching experience, Foley dodged the question like Peter La Fleur in Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story.

"I commented I'm not going to get into the specifics of what we're looking for," he said.

If recent trends matter, though, it's likely that Florida's new direction will include a move to a more potent offense with a leader who knows what he's doing.

"Lee Corso taught me this long ago," ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit told Bleacher Report as part of his tour promoting the AllState VIP "It's Good" sweepstakes. "He said 'Watch when it comes to coaching. Whoever they fire, they'll bring in the complete opposite.' So, Will Muschamp—a coordinator and he's never been a head coach. They're going to go out and get an established head coach. Will Muschamp, defensive-oriented coach. They're going to go out and hire an offensive-minded head coach."

Florida shouldn't be scared to go the coordinator route again.

Sure, if candidates like Colorado State head coach Jim McElwain or Marshall's Doc Holliday are interested, they'd certainly be fantastic hires.

Would they be better than Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris, a coach who has proven that—with a quarterback who fits his offense—he can produce at an elite level?

That's in the eye of the beholder.

First and foremost, Florida needs an offensive innovator. Whether he's an offensive innovator who has head coaching experience or has gotten the job done as an assistant, it doesn't matter.

Florida ranks 12th in total offense this season (373.3 YPG), has finished 10th or worse in the SEC in total offense in every season under Muschamp and five straight counting back to Urban Meyer's last season in Gainesville.

Finding a coach who can fix that is job No. 1.

Does Holliday's success at Marshall prove that he can run a program that can win in the SEC? How about McElwain?

The risk by going the coordinator route is there, but it isn't much different than if Florida goes with a coach with head coaching experience at smaller programs. They still have to adjust to the talent level, hire a staff that knows the recruiting territory and learn what it takes to win at the highest level of college football.

Besides, as Andrew Spivey of points out, sometimes coordinators—like Morris—haven't taken big jobs for a very specific reason:

That's a good thing. That should tell Foley that, while Morris may not have the experience on his resume that Gator Nation wants, he knows that it takes to build a successful staff within the SEC.

If Florida can pony up that money—and there's nothing to suggest that it can't—the mere fact that Morris is currently a coordinator should have no bearing on Foley's decision-making.

Just because a coach is similar in experience to Muschamp doesn't mean he will suffer the same fate.

A hire is a risk, and sometimes the bigger the risk, the bigger the reward in the end.


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, and all recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports. Follow Barrett on Twitter @BarrettSallee.

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NCAA Football Rankings 2014: Full List of Week 13 College Standings and Polls

It is becoming increasingly more difficult to recognize the college football polls on a week-to-week basis.

Jameis Winston and the Florida State Seminoles have reclaimed the throne in the minds of most, but not that they really earned it in Week 12 by way of a near upset at the hands of Miami.

Instead, the Seminoles have to thank Alabama for topping Mississippi State, Oregon being on a bye and TCU and others looking shaky in high-profile contests.

That was just one week of action at the top of the polls. It was not as if it was an isolated incident, either, as the shenanigans when it comes to morph-happy polls has shown no signs of slowing.

For a brief few days, the college football hierarchy stacks up like so.


Week 13 College Football Polls


Breaking Down Notable Risers and Fallers

Riser: Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

Say hello to the team that occupies first place in the ACC Coastal division.

The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets are a team that could ruin everything this season at this pace, which is nothing but a good thing to the naked eye. Seminoles supporters are just one group of fans that continues to pray for a Georgia Tech downfall, as illustrated by's David Hale:

Paul Johnson's team most recently bowled over a ranked Clemson team 28-6 that had not lost since mid-September. Were it not for a six-point loss to Duke and a five-point loss to North Carolina, the surging Yellow Jackets would be undefeated at the moment.

Few teams look forward to an encounter with Johnson's triple-option attack. Led by quarterback Justin Thomas, the Yellow Jackets rank fourth nationally in rushing and tout a list of strong runners that is quite exhaustive:

The Yellow Jackets subsequently rank 14th nationally with an average of 37.8 points scored per game, while a stingy defense surrenders just 24.1. 

All Georgia Tech has to do in the coming weeks is upend Georgia in Athens. Obviously this is no easy feat, but a contest that features two rush-heavy attacks and underrated defenses could go either way. After that, the Yellow Jackets just have to hope Duke drops another game thanks to their head-to-head result earlier this season.

Right now, though, Georgia Tech is on a meteoric rise up the ranks. For good reason, too.


Faller: Nebraska Cornhuskers

Many will point out that Mississippi State is deserving of a nod as a notable faller, but the reality is that the Bulldogs are still right on track for the College Football Playoff, so long as Dak Prescott and Co. overcome Ole Miss to close the season. 

The same certainly cannot be said for the Nebraska Cornhuskers, though.

A 59-24 loss sort of does that to a team. So does surrendering 581 rushing yards and seven touchdowns on the ground. A whopping 408 and four went to Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon all by his lonesome.

Bo Pelini was fully in defense mode after the debacle last weekend.

"What we came to do is win a conference championship and win a national championship. We're going to fight tooth and nail to keep trying to get that done," Pelini said, per Jon Nyatawa of "The time I start apologizing is when I stop working. I believe the program's on a good track, is on the right track."

To be fair, Pelini's team is not that bad. The Cornhuskers have just a five-point loss to Michigan State on the road and tout wins over Miami (Florida) and Northwestern, among others. The team still ranks 10th nationally in rushing and 12th in scoring on the legs of Ameer Abdullah (1,319 yards, 17 touchdowns, 6.5 per-carry average).

What needs to be observed now is how the Cornhuskers respond to the blowout. They are now sandwiched between Wisconsin and Minnesota in the Big Ten West, the latter of which is the team's opponent next weekend and ranked after playing Ohio State tough in a loss.

With their backs against the wall, how the Cornhuskers respond will define this year's campaign.


Stats and information via unless otherwise specified.


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Wisconsin Badgers vs. Iowa Hawkeyes: Odds, Analysis and College Football Pick

Wisconsin just blew out Nebraska to take over sole possession of first place in the Big Ten's West Division. The Badgers have now won five games in a row and four in a row against the spread. Wisconsin controls its own destiny; two more wins earns it a trip back to the Big Ten Championship Game. The Badgers will try to take care of the first of those victories when they battle rival Iowa Saturday afternoon in Iowa City.


Point spread: Badgers opened as 8.5-point favorites, according to sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark (line updates and matchup report).


College football pick, via Odds Shark computer: 34.2-17.3 Badgers


Why the Wisconsin Badgers can cover the spread

The Badgers spotted the 'Huskers an early 17-3 lead last week, then roared back behind a record-setting performance from running back Melvin Gordon to win 59-24, picking up an easy cover as six-point favorites. Wisconsin outgained Nebraska 627-180 and ran the ball for 581 yards, 408 on just 25 carries by Gordon.

So the Badgers now lead the Big Ten West by a game over Iowa, Nebraska and Minnesota. Wisconsin started a little slow this season, losing two of its first five games, but it has won its last five in a row by an average score of 44-15.


Why the Iowa Hawkeyes can cover the spread

The Hawkeyes stayed within a game of the lead in the West with a 30-14 victory over Illinois last week, covering as six-point road favorites. Iowa outgained the Illini 551-235, outrushed them 268-88 and held the ball for almost 36 minutes. That's how you win games and cover spreads in the Big Ten.

Running back Mark Weisman had his best game of the season, rushing for 134 yards, and quarterback Jake Rudock improved his touchdown-to-interception ratio to 12-4 with a pair of scoring tosses. Offensively, the Hawkeyes don't scare anybody, but their defense ranks 18th in the country, allowing just 325 yards per game.


Smart pick

Wisconsin won in Iowa City last year 28-9, and with the way the Badgers are playing, that final margin looks about right for Saturday. Iowa has been outrushed in three of its last five games and gave up 291 yards on the ground against Minnesota a couple weeks ago. As long as Wisconsin hangs on to the ball, it should win this game, with room enough for the cover.


Betting trends

  • Wisconsin is 3-7 ATS in its last 10 games when playing Iowa.
  • Iowa is 5-2 straight up in its last seven 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.

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Vanderbilt Commodores vs. Mississippi State Bulldogs: Analysis and Pick

Mississippi State started the season 5-1 against the spread, seemingly underrated on the betting lines, but the Bulldogs have now gone 1-3 ATS over their past four games. MSU will try to bounce back after suffering its first loss of the season when it hosts 3-7 Vanderbilt on Saturday night in Starkville.


Point spread: The Bulldogs opened as 30.5-point favorites, according to sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark (line updates and matchup report).


College football pick, via Odds Shark computer: 39.6-15.9 Bulldogs


Why the Vanderbilt Commodores can cover the spread

The Commodores started slowly this season, losing five of their first six games and starting 0-3 ATS. But then Vandy's lines got a little out of whack, and it has gone 5-2 ATS over its last seven games. Last time out, the Commodores lost to Florida 34-10, missing the cover as 14-point home dogs, but they had that spread covered heading into the fourth quarter before running out of gas.

Vandy also covered earlier this season as a 16-point dog at Kentucky, a 33-point dog at Georgia and a 22-point dog at Missouri. Finally, the Commodores are 8-1 ATS in their last nine games as road dogs and 9-1 ATS in their last 10 SEC road games. Perhaps they can catch the Bulldogs on an emotional downswing.


Why the Mississippi State Bulldogs can cover the spread

The Bulldogs had their hopes of a perfect season spoiled by a 25-20 loss at Alabama, but they're not out the running for a spot in the College Football Playoff, so this is no time for a letdown. Mississippi State outgained the Tide 428-335, but three turnovers, all in Alabama territory, spelled doom.

MSU garnered a back-door cover as a 10-point road dog. For the season, the Bulldogs rank 20th in the country in rushing at 243 yards per game and 21st against the run, allowing just 126 yards per game. Numbers like those are usually conducive to winning games and covering spreads in college football.


Smart pick

Mississippi State is probably going to win this game; it's just a matter of the final tally. But while the Bulldogs are 2-4 ATS this season as double-digit favorites, the Commodores are 4-2 ATS as double-digit dogs. So the smart choice here is with Vandy and the points.


Betting trends

  • Vanderbilt is 1-5 SU in its last six games when playing Mississippi State.
  • Mississippi State is 12-1 SU in its last 13 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.

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USC Trojans vs. UCLA Bruins Betting Odds, Analysis, College Football Pick

Not too long ago, USC dominated its rivalry with UCLA, winning 12 of 13 meetings through 2011, covering the spread three times in a row. But the Bruins are working on turning the tables on the Trojans, winning and covering the last two meetings. In a big game out in the Pac-12 South, USC and UCLA bang heads Saturday night at the Rose Bowl.


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


College football pick, via Odds Shark computer: 30.0-27.8 Trojans


Why the USC Trojans can cover the spread

The Trojans have won five of their last seven games after beating Cal last Thursday 38-30, and both losses in that span came in the final seconds of both contests. USC led Arizona State back in October 34-32 but gave up a Hail Mary on the last play to lose 38-34. And three weeks ago, the Trojans led Utah 21-17 but gave up a score with eight seconds to go to lose 24-21.

Thursday night, USC jumped out to a 31-2 lead over the Bears before taking its foot off the gas and settling for the eight-point victory. And thanks to the Sun Devils' loss at Oregon State Saturday night, the Trojans now lead the Pac-12 South by a half-game over, among others, ASU and the Bruins.


Why the UCLA Bruins can cover the spread

The Bruins have won four in a row straight up and two in a row against the spread after a 44-30 victory at Washington two weeks ago, covering as six-point road favorites. UCLA led the Huskies 14-0 early, and 31-10 at the half, and in the end had outgained them 476-366. So at 5-2 in Pac-12 play, the Bruins trail the first-place Trojans by just a half-game in the South Division.

A victory Saturday would give them the inside track on the division race heading into a season finale against Stanford.


Smart pick

All signs point to a close contest; UCLA owns a short edge on offense, but USC owns an edge on defense. The Bruins are 4-1 SU and 2-3 ATS against common opponents this season, while the Trojans are 3-2 SU and 2-3 ATS. But USC is little more banged up at the moment than UCLA. So in a tough call, the smart choice here appears to be the Bruins, at the short spread.


Betting trends

  • Southern Cal is 5-2 SU in its last seven games when playing on the road against UCLA.
  • UCLA is 2-4 ATS in its last six games at home.


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.

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North Carolina Tar Heels vs. Duke Blue Devils: Odds and College Football Pick

The Duke Blue Devils will try to rebound from a disappointing home loss when they host the North Carolina Tar Heels Thursday night in an ACC matchup between intrastate rivals. The Blue Devils are coming off a 17-16 setback to Virginia Tech last week as 3.5-point home favorites and need to beat North Carolina in order to keep their hopes of a second straight ACC Coastal Division title alive.


Point spread: Blue Devils opened as six-point favorites, according to sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark (line updates and matchup report).


College football pick, via Odds Shark computer: 39.5-32.6 Blue Devils


Why the North Carolina Tar Heels can cover the spread

The Tar Heels have endured a rough season, as they started out 2-0 but lost four straight before winning three of their past four. They have not lost a game they were supposed to, though, since falling at East Carolina 70-41 as a 1.5-point road favorite back on September 20.

North Carolina has gone 4-1 against the spread in its last five games, with the only straight-up losses during that stretch coming at Notre Dame and Miami. The Tar Heels have lost the last two meetings with Duke but had won 15 of the previous 16, and it would make their season if they could pull off the upset in Durham.


Why the Duke Blue Devils can cover the spread

The Blue Devils may have just suffered a tough home loss, but maybe they were caught looking ahead to this game against their rivals from Chapel Hill. They are still 11-2-1 ATS in their last 14 games as home favorites, including that loss to the Hokies, and can win the division with a victory here and another at home against Wake Forest in their regular-season finale.

Duke is also 4-1 versus the line in its past five home games against conference opponents, with the lone loss coming last week against Virginia Tech. The Blue Devils cannot hang their heads over that and should have plenty of motivation left.


Smart Pick

Duke has too much to play for here to let last week’s loss hang over Wallace Wade Stadium. The Blue Devils went through the most difficult part of their schedule by playing four times on the road in five games before hosting the Hokies, and they managed to earn wins in four of them. This three-game stretch at home to close out the season was set up for Duke to succeed, and the loss to Virginia Tech was just a bump in the road.

While North Carolina has played better lately, the team has lost 10 of 11 games as a road underdog with a 3-8 mark ATS. The Tar Heels have also failed to cover the spread in three of the past four meetings, so back the Blue Devils here.


Betting Trends

  • North Carolina is 16-3 SU in its last 19 games when playing Duke.
  • Duke is 3-16 SU in its last 19 games when playing North Carolina.


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.

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Mississippi Rebels vs. Arkansas Razorbacks Betting Odds, College Football Pick

The Arkansas Razorbacks hope last week’s big home win carries over to this Saturday, when they host the Ole Miss Rebels in an SEC matchup. The Razorbacks snapped their 17-game losing streak against conference opponents with a 17-0 victory over LSU as 1.5-point home favorites last Saturday, and they will try to make it two SEC wins in a row against an Ole Miss team that has dropped four of five road games in league play.


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


College football pick, via Odds Shark computer: 29.2-26.7 Rebels


Why the Mississippi Rebels can cover the spread

The Rebels got a week off to prepare for Arkansas, and you could argue it was more like two weeks, as their previous game was a 48-0 rout of Presbyterian. They had lost two in a row to a pair of Tigers teams in Auburn and LSU before beating the Blue Hose, but those games were decided by a total of seven points.

Even though Arkansas was able to end its SEC drought, the team has dropped seven of eight at home against conference foes. The Razorbacks could still be celebrating the end of that skid to the point that they are not prepared enough to play a talented Ole Miss squad.


Why the Arkansas Razorbacks can cover the spread

Arkansas will be riding high following the team’s last victory, which extended its home winning streak against the spread to five games overall at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. The Razorbacks are 4-1 straight up in those games, with the lone loss there coming against Alabama by one point, 14-13.

They did lose another home game to Georgia 45-32, but that one took place at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock. Arkansas still has a shot to become bowl-eligible despite its 1-5 mark in SEC games this season, so expect head coach Bret Bielema to use that as a rallying cry.


Smart pick

The Rebels have enjoyed a fine season, but this is a tough spot for them coming off a bye and facing a pumped-up team that has newfound confidence. They are just 3-7 ATS in their past 10 meetings with the Razorbacks, who not only won but also shut out the Tigers last week in a dominant defensive effort that limited them to 123 yards.

Arkansas is already building for the future, and Bielema’s coaching finally got his team over the hump in that win against LSU. There should not be any more pressure on the Razorbacks to end their SEC losing streak, so they will be able to play looser and have nothing to lose. For that reason, watch for Arkansas to spring the upset in another low-scoring game.


Betting trends

  • Mississippi is 3-7 ATS in its last 10 games when playing Arkansas.
  • Arkansas is 4-2 SU in its last six games when playing at home against Mississippi.


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.

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Minnesota Golden Gophers vs. Nebraska Cornhuskers Betting Odds, Analysis, Pick

Minnesota just lost a tough game to Ohio State but covered again; the Golden Gophers are now 5-2 against the spread over their last seven contests. They're also 4-1 ATS in their last five Big Ten road games. Nebraska, meanwhile, just got its butt kicked at Wisconsin, and is just 1-4-1 ATS in its last six Big Ten home games. The Cornhuskers host the Gophers Saturday in Lincoln.


Point spread: Cornhuskers opened as 10-point favorites, according to sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark. (Line updates and matchup report)


College football pick, via Odds Shark computer: 41.7-33.4 Cornhuskers


Why the Minnesota Golden Gophers can cover the spread

The Gophers just lost at home to the Buckeyes, 31-24, but covered as 13-point home dogs. Minnesota trailed early, 14-0, but rallied to tie the score at 14-14. The Gophers then gave up the next 17 points to trail 31-14, but they scored twice to pull within 31-24 and had time on the clock before coming up empty on an onside kick.

Minnesota basically answered every Ohio State score, except one. Two weeks ago, the Gophers ran all over Iowa in a 51-14 blowout victory. Minnesota is averaging 224 yards per game on the ground, and its defense ranks 33rd in the country. Finally, the Gophers had lost back-to-back games to Nebraska in 2011 and 2012 by scores of 41-14 and 38-14 but upset the 'Huskers last year, 34-23.


Why the Nebraska Cornhuskers can cover the spread

The 'Huskers will be looking for redemption, after last week's debacle against the Badgers, and for revenge, after last year's loss to the Gophers in Minneapolis. Nebraska had won three games in row, over Northwestern, Rutgers and Purdue, by an average score of 38-18 before losing to Wisconsin. The 'Huskers took advantage of some early Badgers mistakes last week to build a 17-3 lead, but lost control after that.

Still, Nebraska is 8-2 SU, 6-3-1 ATS and not quite dead yet in the Big Ten's West Division race. The 'Huskers are averaging 264 yards per game on the ground, and the Gophers defense just got gouged for 289 by the Buckeyes.


Smart Pick

Both these teams are in the same boat, at 4-2 in Big Ten play, and they're built the same way, running a ground-based attack. The spread on this game is more indicative perhaps of reputation, rather than on-field talent. So the smart money here probably lies with Minnesota, plus the points.


Betting Trends

  • Minnesota is 7-16 SU in its last 23 games on the road
  • Nebraska is 3-5-1 ATS in its last nine games at home


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.

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