NCAA Football News

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets vs. Virginia Tech Hokies Betting Odds Analysis, Pick

The Virginia Tech Hokies will be looking to get back on track Saturday against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets after suffering a disappointing home loss to East Carolina last week.

The Hokies followed up a 35-21 road win at Ohio State two weeks ago as 10-point underdogs with a 28-21 setback against the Pirates as 10-point favorites.

The computer is picking a high-scoring game, which would be atypical of meetings between these teams.

 

Point spread: The Hokies opened as six-point favorites at Lane Stadium, but the line was eight points by Wednesday with a total of 52, according to sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark. (Line updates and matchup report.)

 

Odds Shark computer prediction: 47.5-39.5 Yellow Jackets

 

Why the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets can cover the spread

Georgia Tech is 4-2 against the spread in the last six meetings with Virginia Tech and has just the type of offense that can keep the score within a touchdown like each of the past two games between the teams. In fact, five of the last six meetings have been decided by seven points or less with the under cashing five times.

The Yellow Jackets are also off to a 3-0 start this year and should be extra motivated to start ACC play, hoping to avenge last year’s 17-10 home loss to the Hokies as seven-point favorites. Georgia Tech covered its only road game so far this season, beating Tulane 38-21 as a 7.5-point favorite in Week 2.

 

Why the Virginia Tech Hokies can cover the spread

Virginia Tech looked great in its first two games, especially beating the Buckeyes. The Hokies suffered from the infamous letdown spot against East Carolina and will not have that same problem here against a conference opponent.

Even in defeat against the Pirates, Virginia Tech showed some character in rallying back from a 21-0 deficit to tie the game with 1:20 left. East Carolina was able to attack the Hokies through the air, something the Yellow Jackets will not be able to do due to their run-heavy offensive attack. Virginia Tech has won the last four meetings while Georgia Tech is just 1-3-1 ATS in its past five road games.

 

Smart Pick

These teams have played some close games over the years, and the betting line for this matchup looks to be spot on considering the situation and past history between them. Both will run the ball and take time off the clock, which should keep scoring at a minimum.

Six of the last seven meetings have gone under the total, with five of those finishing with less than 50 points and four below 38. The under is also 4-1 in the last five ACC home games for the Hokies, who always seem to be at their best when their defense plays well.

Look for them to hold Georgia Tech in check in a low-scoring affair.

 

Trends

  • Six of the last seven meetings have gone under the total
  • Virginia Tech is 1-4 ATS in its last five games when playing at home against Georgia Tech

 

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

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7 Missouri Stars SEC Powers Missed in the Recruiting Cycle

Missouri burst onto the scene in its second year in the SEC, posting an 11-1 regular-season record and coming within a quarter of winning the SEC title and perhaps earning a berth into the BCS National Championship Game.

This year, it's more of the same.

Missouri has jumped out to a 3-0 record using the same recipe it was successful with last year, spreading the ball around to a variety of wide receivers, punishing opponents with a diverse running game and generating pressure with a relentless pass rush.

It's been more with the X's and O's than the Jimmy's and the Joe's.

Missouri's average recruiting class rank over the last five years is 38.2, with its best class over that time being ranked 21st in the country (2010). Who are some of the stars of this Missouri team that SEC programs missed on the recruiting trail?

Our picks are in this slideshow.

Begin Slideshow

Florida Gators vs. Alabama Crimson Tide Betting Odds: Analysis and Prediction

The Alabama Crimson Tide overtook the Florida Gators in the SEC hierarchy early during the Coach Saban regime, building a recent dominance in the rivalry between the two teams by going 3-1 both straight up and against the spread in the last four meetings.

The Tide will try to keep that trend rolling when they host the Gators on Saturday in Tuscaloosa.

 

Alabama vs. Florida point spread: The Crimson Tide opened as 16-point favorites at Bryant-Denny Stadium, but it was bet down to 14.5 points by Wednesday, according to sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark. The total was 52, a number that will be easily surpassed if the computer is right in Week 4. (Line updates and matchup report)

 

Odds Shark computer prediction: 45.9-25.1 Crimson Tide

 

Why the Florida Gators can cover the spread

The Gators are off to a 2-0 SU, 1-1 ATS start to this season, after victories over Eastern Michigan and Kentucky. Florida blew out the Eagles 65-0, covering as 40-point chalk, but had to scramble to beat the Wildcats in triple overtime, coming up short of covering as a 17-point favorite.

The Gators outrushed Kentucky 237-81 and held the ball for almost 34 minutes, but they gave up a couple of big plays that kept the 'Cats in the game. QB Jeff Driskel, one of 14 returning starters for Florida this year, overcame a slow start to throw three touchdown passes, and WR Demarcus Robinson had a breakout game, catching 15 balls for 216 yards and two scores.

They have struggled to cover spreads lately (2-6-1 according to the college football database), but they could be due for a big rivalry performance here.

 

Why the Alabama Crimson Tide can cover the spread

The Tide is off to a 3-0 start, and the only reasons they're 0-2 ATS is that they've been favored by so much and some bad weather. Alabama beat West Virginia 33-23, but couldn't cover at -22; they then defeated Florida Atlantic 41-0, as 41-point favorites, but that game was called with eight minutes to go because of lightning, canceling all bets.

Last week 'Bama beat Southern Miss 52-12 but came up short against the spread at -47 points. Tide quarterbacks Blake Sims and Jake Coker have combined to complete 67 of 94 passes, with five touchdowns and just one interception, and RBs TJ Yeldon and Derrick Henry are both averaging about six yards per carry.

 

Smart Pick

Alabama has won the last three games in this series by an average of 24 points. Also, the Tide defense has allowed a total of just 141 yards on the ground through its first three games of this season.

Alabama almost looked like it was biding its time before the SEC season began. Well, now it's here, so look out. The pick here is with the Tide, giving the points.

 

Trends

  • Florida is 2-6-1 ATS in its last nine games.
  • Alabama is 11-1 SU in its last 12 games at home but 0-5 ATS in its last five games overall.

 

Note: All point spread and lines data courtesy of Odds Shark, all quotes gathered first-hand unless otherwise noted—check out Twitter for injury updates and line move updates and get the free odds tracker app.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Why Jameis Winston Isn't the Key to Victory vs. Clemson

The Florida State Seminoles take on the Clemson Tigers in Tallahassee, Florida.

Bleacher Report College Football Analyst Michael Felder breaks down the Tigers offense facing the high-powered Seminoles defense. 

Can Florida State solidify its position as the top team in college football?

Watch the video and let us know!

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Clemson Tigers vs. Florida State Seminoles Betting Odds: Analysis and Prediction

The defending national champion Florida State Seminoles had trouble with the Clemson Tigers before last year and will try to win their 19th straight game overall when they meet again in this key ACC matchup Saturday.

The Seminoles are coming off a bye week and failed to cover in each of their first two games this season, while Clemson was also off after splitting its first two both straight up and against the spread.

 

Point spread: The Seminoles opened as 20.5-point favorites at Doak Campbell Stadium, according to sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark. The total was 63.5 midweek (line updates and matchup report).

 

Odds Shark computer prediction: 49.9-29 Seminoles

 

Why the Clemson Tigers can cover the spread

The Tigers had covered the previous four meetings with Florida State before last season’s 51-14 blowout loss, winning two of them straight up. After suffering a 45-21 loss to Georgia in the season opener as a 9.5-point underdog, Clemson turned in a dominant offensive effort in a 73-7 rout of South Carolina State before the bye, outgaining the Bulldogs by a 735-44 margin.

Quarterbacks Cole Stoudt and Deshaun Watson combined for 456 passing yards and four touchdowns for the Tigers in that game, while freshman wide receiver Artavis Scott scored twice on six receptions for 164 yards. That tuneup could give Clemson enough confidence to hang with the Seminoles despite their 1-8 straight-up run at FSU.

 

Why the Florida State Seminoles can cover the spread

While Florida State has failed to cover in both games so far this year, this is a conference game with a lot more on the line. The Seminoles went 6-2 against the spread in ACC play last season and really turned it on after their first off week a year ago, outscoring their next two opponents 116-13.

There’s no question this is one of the most talented teams in the country yet again; it’s just a matter of motivation, especially as the defending national and conference champs. Last season’s Heisman Trophy winner, quarterback Jameis Winston, is coming off a sharp performance in a 37-12 win over The Citadel in Week 2, throwing for 256 yards and two touchdowns in less than a full game.

Winston erupted for 444 yards and four total touchdowns in last year’s meeting with the Tigers to outshine Clemson QB Tajh Boyd in a showcase game for both players that definitely helped fuel his Heisman campaign.

 

Smart Pick

With the point spread opening at nearly three touchdowns, it will be interesting to see if the line grows in the Seminoles’ favor. The Tigers are clearly not the same team they were last year, with a lot of younger players replacing upperclassmen who are no longer there.

Stoudt played in the last meeting for Clemson, while Watson—a former 5-star recruit, per Rivals.com—is viewed as the top QB prospect in the nation. Florida State is not the same either, and that showed in the team’s season opener against Oklahoma State. The Seminoles won 37-31 but failed to cover a similar spread at minus-18.

The Tigers are a better team than the Cowboys and should be able to stay within a couple of scores.

 

Trends

  • Clemson is 1-8 SU in its last nine games when playing on the road against Florida State.
  • Florida State is 1-4 ATS in its last five games when playing Clemson.

 

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

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Bowling Green Falcons vs. Wisconsin Badgers Odds: Analysis and Prediction

The Wisconsin Badgers return from their bye week hoping to break a five-game skid against the spread when they host the Bowling Green Falcons on Saturday.

The Badgers rebounded from a 28-24 loss to LSU in their season opener by routing Western Illinois 37-3 before their bye, but it still was not enough to beat the 41.5-point line, as they fell to 0-2 against the spread this year and 0-5 versus the number dating back to last year.

The line has skyrocketed 10 points since opening at 17 points on Sunday.

 

Point spread

The Badgers opened as 17-point favorites at Camp Randall Stadium, according to sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark, but the spread has soared to 27 points. The total was 64 midweek (line updates and matchup report).

 

Odds Shark computer prediction: 46.7-29.5 Badgers

 

Why the Bowling Green Falcons can cover the spread

The Falcons have also bounced back from a loss in their season opener, knocking off VMI and Indiana at home in their last two games and covering the spread both times. The victory against the Hoosiers was especially big considering the road team closed as an 8.5-point favorite yet lost 45-42 on a game-winning touchdown pass from quarterback James Knapke to wide receiver Roger Lewis with nine seconds remaining.

Lewis finished with 16 catches for 149 yards, while Knapke completed 46 of 73 passes for 395 yards with three touchdowns and one interception in his second career start to help Bowling Green beat a Big Ten team for the first time since 2007.

 

Why the Wisconsin Badgers can cover the spread

Wisconsin is 3-0 straight up and against the spread in the last three meetings with the Falcons and showed marked improvement on both sides of the ball from the loss to the Tigers in Week 1 to the team’s first win seven days later.

The Badgers even got a little lucky against the Leathernecks in Week 2 when they scored a safety to open the game on a botched kickoff.

They piled on five more touchdowns after that and outgained Western Illinois 456-162 in total yardage but still fell shy of covering the 41.5-point line. The spread this week against Bowling Green is far more manageable, and Wisconsin has averaged more than 43 points in the past three games between the teams.

Wisconsin usually wins at home and has covered six of eight spreads going back to last season here, according to the Odds Shark NCAA football database.

 

Smart Pick

The odds are slim that Bowling Green will beat a Big Ten team for the second consecutive week, especially playing on the road against a much better opponent this time.

The Falcons had the luxury of playing at home last week against Indiana, and that furious finish to beat the Hoosiers took a lot out of them down the stretch.

There were eight lead changes in the second half of that game alone, and Bowling Green will be hard-pressed to come up with another strong effort when it visits Camp Randall Stadium for the first time since 2005.

The Badgers had the week off to study their opponent and prepare for a two-game stretch at home against nonconference foes before they start Big Ten play.

Watch for them to win this one big against the Falcons and cover the spread for the first time this year.

 

Trends

  • Bowling Green is 7-2 straight up in its last nine games.
  • Wisconsin is 7-1 straight up and 6-2 against the spread in its last eight games at home.

 

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

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Ohio State Football: Breaking Down J.T. Barrett's Breakout Game vs. Kent State

J.T. Barrett was just seven days removed from an embarrassing and inefficient performance against Virginia Tech when he bounced back and etched his name in Ohio State's history book.

It was a quick turnaround for the redshirt freshman, who was harassed and overwhelmed by a stingy Hokies defense. Barrett connected on just nine of his 29 passes against Virginia Tech, throwing three interceptions while being sacked seven times.

But the young signal-caller showcased a short memory in his brilliant performance against Kent State. Much of that is a result of the Golden Flashes defense, which was overmatched greatly by the Buckeyes at every level. But Barrett, making his third collegiate start, did something that Terrelle Pryor, Braxton Miller or even Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Troy Smith never accomplished.

Here's a breakdown of Barrett's record-tying day against Kent State.

 

Productive, Accurate and Efficient 

Barrett dissected the Golden Flashes defense, completing 23-of-30 passes for 312 yards and six touchdowns. His lone blemish of the day, a first-quarter interception near Kent State's goal line, happened when a perfectly placed pass bounced off Michael Thomas' chest and directly into the hands of a defender.

Barrett's six touchdown passes tied Ohio State's single-game record, which was set last year by Kenny Guiton against Florida A&M. He accomplished this in about 35 minutes of game action, as Meyer pulled most of the starters midway through the third quarter.

Of course, padding stats against an undersized and inferior opponent should be expected, not newsworthy. 

The growth Barrett showcased last Saturday, however, is a big development. 

 

Schematics, Reads and Execution

Virginia Tech was able to shut down Ohio State's offense with a unique defensive look that featured a Bear front and a Cover 0 scheme in the back end. The Buckeyes offensive line struggled to block the pass-rushers, and the receivers failed to make plays

With Virginia Tech's success, it was safe to surmise that future Ohio State opponents would adopt the same strategy.

It only took a week for that to come true as Kent State started the game in Virginia Tech's defensive formation. But the Buckeyes had seen it, and over the course of the week, the coaching staff had figured out ways to beat it.

Unprepared against the Hokies, Ohio State launched dozens of deep balls in the hopes that its receivers would make a play. A week later, they drew up plays like this one to take advantage of the aggressive defense.

Here's the front that Ohio State had so much trouble with against the Hokies. With a defensive tackle lined up directly over the center and four other pass-rushers, each offensive linemen had a body to block. 

This presents one-on-one matchups for the receivers. But instead of looking deep, the Buckeyes created action at the line of scrimmage.

The two receivers at the top of the screen are running routes to get one man open. The corner playing press coverage should be covering Michael Thomas, but a rub route from Jalin Marshall—who bumps the defender—gives Thomas the space he needs.

Barrett found Thomas over the middle, who waltzed easily into the end zone for a 14-yard score.

That was the first of Barrett's six touchdown passes. Throughout the afternoon, Ohio State's offense line had no trouble blocking Kent State's defensive front. With that time, Barrett showed that he could read the field and be a devastatingly effective quarterback.

And that will be the key for Ohio State moving forward. If Ohio State's revamped offensive line can come together and protect the quarterback—and the coaching staff continues to enhance the playbook—Barrett could lead the Buckeyes to a special season. 

 

All stats via OhioStateBuckeyes.com. 

David Regimbal covers Ohio State football for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @davidreg412.

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Auburn Tigers vs. Kansas State Wildcats Betting Odds: Analysis and Prediction

The Auburn Tigers are 4-0 against the spread in their last four road games and have rewarded their financial backers in 13 straight games, while the Kansas State Wildcats are 0-3 ATS in their last three home games.

So the Tigers will try to extend an epic winning trend to 14 games, while the Wildcats will try to buck a losing one in this SEC-Big 12 cat fight in Manhattan on Thursday night.

 

Point spread: The Tigers opened as 6.5-point favorites at Snyder Family Stadium, according to sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark (line updates and matchup report).

 

Odds Shark computer prediction: 46.0-33.5 Tigers

 

Why the Auburn Tigers can cover the spread

The Tigers are 2-0 both straight up and ATS, after beating Arkansas 45-21 and San Jose State 59-13. Auburn has picked up where it left off last year, racking up 595 yards against the Razorbacks and exploding for the cover as 17-point favorites, then putting up 38 points by halftime on its way to the cover as 33-point chalk over the Spartans.

The Tigers, who began the season with eight starters back on offense, including senior quarterback Nick Marshall and four along the offensive line, have averaged 330 yards on the ground through their first two games. Auburn has also showed it can play a little defense when it held Arkansas scoreless in the second half.

All Auburn does is cover the spread, and their 13-0 ATS run combined with a manageable point spread makes them an intriguing pick.

 

Why the Kansas State Wildcats can cover the spread

The Wildcats are 2-0 SU but 0-2 ATS after wins over Stephen F. Austin and Iowa State. Kansas State dominated its opener with the Lumberjacks, outrushing them 240-69, holding the ball for almost 38 minutes. The only reason the Cats didn't cover that spread is because they were favored by so much, at -41.

Kansas State then won in Ames 32-28, outgaining the Cyclones 471-319 and outrushing them 232-105. But the Wildcats gave up a score on a punt return and went 0-for-2 on two-point conversions. Take away the punt return and make one of those conversions, and Kansas State covers.

The Wildcats are not listed as a home dog too often, but when they are they're dangerous, covering four of their last five games in that spot.

 

Smart Pick

Auburn is 14-2 both SU and ATS under head coach Gus Malzahn, but this is a tough matchup, going on the non-conference road to play a team that will be well-coached and capable of almost anything.

So while the Tigers might have the edge in talent, circumstances dictate to pick the home dog for Thursday night.

 

Trends

  • Auburn is a perfect 13-0 ATS over its last 13 games.
  • Kansas State is 15-8 ATS in its last 23 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 updates and line move updates and get the free odds-tracker app.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Is Auburn's Secondary Ready for the Major Challenges Ahead?

AUBURN, Ala. — Just two weeks ago, San Jose State’s Tyler Winston entered Jordan-Hare Stadium as one of the top receivers in the country.

It took just one half for the Tigers to clamp down on him.

"I thought [the defensive backs] responded well, that group had a big quarterback with a strong arm and a couple of receivers that could flat-out play," Malzahn said after the 59-13 victory. "We were a little worried about some of the screens, but I thought we did a solid job with that."

Auburn's secondary aced the test with Winston by holding him to just three receiving yards in the second half as the entire defense kept a second straight opponent out of the end zone after halftime.

However, that's just one of many tests for the defensive backs, who will face several of college football's best receivers in 2014.

Are Auburn's defensive backs, who have been one of the team's weaker units over the last few years, ready for the challenges ahead?

Just ask senior cornerback Trovon Reed. In just two competitive games since moving from wide receiver in the offseason, Reed is showing major confidence in his and his teammates' abilities.

"We can go out there and show everybody that we can compete with the best," senior cornerback Trovon Reed said. "Put anybody out there. We're going to have to go against the best receivers in the country. We're ready."

They'll have to be ready in a hurry.

After a bye week, Auburn will face Kansas State and senior wide receiver Tyler Lockett, who finished 11th in the nation last season with 105.2 yards per game.

Quick and agile with several dangerous moves in the open field, Lockett causes matchup problems all over the field for the Wildcats' opponents.

Lockett doesn't line up in a certain spot each play, so any one of the defensive backs could end up covering him Thursday night in Manhattan, Kan.

"You can't always matchup onto him with who you want, and you can't necessarily put a designed defense on him," defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson said. "You start double-covering him, that leaves all those quarterback lead runs open. That's what is such a big challenge with him. They're going to run the quarterback with the lead blocker, and when they do that, base defenses don't have enough people on that chalkboard to make the plays."

The 5'11", 190-pound Lockett presents a unique challenge for the Auburn secondary, who had a lot of experience in covering bigger receivers such as former Texas A&M star Mike Evans and former Missouri wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham.

While Winston, Alabama's Amari Cooper and Ole Miss' Cody Core—an Auburn native—are taller targets similar Evans and Green-Beckham, Lockett will challenge the Tigers defensive backs as a smaller, speedier threat.

As the team's top receiver and veteran quarterback Jake Waters' favorite target, Lockett runs a lot of quick routes where his physical gifts can be put on full display.

"If you're going to line up and play him one-on-one with nobody over the top, well, he's a really good athlete," Johnson said. "Their routes are designed to take advantage of that—a lot of stop-and-gos, lot of hitches, lot of fades—things you normally run against corners who don't have any help."

The Auburn secondary has definitely shown signs of improvement through the first two games of the season thanks to strong second-half performances. The unit has already recorded four interceptions, with senior leader Jermaine Whitehead grabbing one in each contest.

"He’s improved a whole lot," said sophomore safety Johnathan Ford, who had an interception against San Jose State. "I’ve learned a lot from him and his game. He’s improved a lot, so it’s great to play next to Jermaine."

Johnson said he has been impressed with his cornerbacks, the ones who will get the tough task of covering Lockett and several of the star receivers down the road for Auburn.

Senior Jonathon Mincy has locked down a starting spot after missing the first drive of the season opener against Arkansas because of his summer drug arrest.

Junior Josh Holsey and Reed have shown some weaknesses in giving up a few big plays through the air, but they also have done well in the rotation by providing run support and stopping short screen passes.

"Mincy has probably played the best of all of them, and should as the most experienced," Johnson said. "Trovon had a couple of mistakes. For a player that hasn't played there much, that'd be expected...but I thought he made two really nice plays. He seems to get a little more comfortable each week."

The secondary's performance against a pass-heavier team in San Jose State and top target Winston was impressive, but the first major challenge will come against Kansas State and Lockett.

A great game against another great receiver could set the tone for the rest of the season and change the perception of the secondary, which has been the subject of criticism for several seasons running.

Reed says the defensive backs are ready to answer that challenge.

"We know they want to beat us as bad as we want to beat them," Reed said. "We can’t go out there and lay an egg. We’re coming in with a chip on our shoulder, and we’re just going to play Auburn football."

 

All quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. All recruiting rankings and information courtesy of 247Sports. All stats courtesy of CFBStats.com.

Justin Ferguson is Bleacher Report's lead Auburn writer. Follow him on Twitter @JFergusonAU.

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College Football 2014 Week 4: Locks of the Week

Week 4 is upon us, which means it's time to get your picks in. Bleacher Report College Football Analyst Adam Kramer dishes out his "Locks of the Week."  

Do you think one of the Top 10 teams will fall in Week 4?

Watch the video and let us know! 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Predicting College Football's Biggest Headlines for Week 4

The 2014 College Football season is heading into Week 4. Bleacher Report's College Football Analysts Michael Felder, Adam Kramer and Barrett Sallee throw out their predictions for the biggest headlines after the big-time matchups this week.

Which team do you think will make a statement in Week 4?

Watch the video and let us know!

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

B/R CFB Committee: Playoff Predictions Heading into Week 4

Week 4 of the 2014 College Football season is upon us, and our Bleacher Report Committee is ready to make their decision. College Football Analysts Barrett SalleeAdam Kramer and Michael Felder come together to create their College Football Playoff if it were this weekend. 

Who do you think deserves to be in the CFB playoffs?

Check out the video and let us know

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

College Football Week 4 Schedule: TV and Live Stream Info for Every Game

Week 3 of the college football schedule may have lacked serious punch (although upsets from South Carolina and Boston College made it more interesting than originally thought), but there is plenty of important action on tap in Week 4.

What’s more, fans won’t have to wait long for an exciting matchup, as nationally ranked foes Auburn and Kansas State clash in an interconference showdown Thursday.

Here is a look at the entire Week 4 schedule, as well as the television and live stream options.

Schedule courtesy of CBSSports.com. Viewing info courtesy of ESPN.com. For games without national or regional coverage on a major network, check local listings.

 

Live Stream Resources

For some reason there are actually people out there who schedule fall weddings or activities on a college football Saturday. This list of the most prominent live streams for college football should come in handy for those of you stuck at said weddings eating too many hors d'oeuvres.

 

ESPN: WatchESPN

 

SEC: CBSSports.com

 

Fox: Fox Sports Go

 

BTN: BTN2Go.com

 

Pac-12: Pac-12.com

 

ABC: ABC Live

 

CBS: CBSSports.com

 

Game of the Week

Auburn at Kansas State

Auburn sports a 3-0 all-time record against Kansas State and actually beat the Wildcats in 2007 but will likely be tested by a raucous crowd Thursday evening.

Even without Tre Mason, the Auburn rushing attack has hit on all cylinders in the early going. It racked up 358 yards on the ground against San Jose State and 302 rushing yards against Arkansas. Both were blowout victories thanks to the efforts of quarterback Nick Marshall, Cameron Artis-Payne and Corey Grant.

Auburn’s offense should be even more explosive Thursday against Kansas State because Sammie Coates is expected to return from a knee injury. He led the team with 902 receiving yards a year ago on 42 catches and gives the Tigers an extra dimension through the air.

Perhaps the most important thing about this contest for Auburn is simply not overlooking it.

While the difference between the SEC and the rest of college football may be a bit overstated, Auburn deserves credit for scheduling this contest in the midst of a brutal league slate. It still has to play LSU, South Carolina, Mississippi, Texas A&M, Georgia and archrival Alabama and cannot afford a slip-up out of conference play if it wants to reach the College Football Playoff.

Head coach Gus Malzahn seemed dialed in, according to The Associated Press (via ESPN.com): “We are going to work on improving ourselves and try to get a head start. We are playing a very good team on the road with one of the better coaches that has ever walked the planet. We will have to have a good plan and have to be prepared.”

From Kansas State’s perspective, the key will be the defense (and the crowd) against that high-power, up-tempo Auburn attack.

The Wildcats struggled in the early going against Iowa State and allowed 28 points, but they did shut the Cyclones out in the second half. Perhaps it marked a turning point for the defense before the teeth of the schedule, especially since Kansas State won that game 32-28.

If the defense can hold its own, it will give dual-threat quarterback Jake Waters a chance to win this game. He has 655 combined passing and rushing yards and six touchdowns in two contests and should challenge the Tigers defensive front with his legs and arm.

If nothing else, it will be up to Waters to give his defense an occasional breather by staying on the field for extended drives.

Look for Kansas State to get out to a fast start. The crowd will be rocking with a Top Five SEC opponent in the house, and the Wildcats offense will respond in kind behind Waters. 

Brandon Marcello of the Alabama Media Group noted that the atmosphere will be daunting for the visiting Tigers:

However, Auburn’s multipronged rushing attack will eventually settle in and wear the Kansas State defense down (like it does to so many opponents). The Tigers will gradually pull away in the second half in what should be a close contest. 

Prediction: Auburn 35, Kansas State 24

 

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Biggest Surprises of the 2014 College Football Season so Far

Here’s the thing about college football: With a 13-game regular season followed by a bowl game, there’s plenty of room for talk. Speculation. Chatter.

Whatever you want to call it.

The openness and relative shortness of the college football schedule leaves fans with plenty of time to discuss their favorite team, their rival and everyone in between. So predictions are made. Proclamations occur. Opinions are formed.

And then the games begin.

Three weeks into the 2014 college football season, we’re rethinking some opinions. Some teams and players have exceeded expectations, while others have fallen far short of them.

Here’s a look at the biggest surprises as the college football season approaches the quarter mark.

Begin Slideshow

NCAA Football Rankings 2014: Top 25 Teams on Upset Alert for Week 4

It's hard to find many college football games across the Week 4 slate that scream upset, but then again, that was the case last weekend and look how things turned out.

From then-No. 9 USC falling on the road to Boston College to then-17th-ranked Virginia Tech falling at home to East Carolina, unpredictable upsets were of the norm throughout Week 3 despite only one matchup—Georgia vs. South Carolina—between fellow Top 25 teams. 

In Week 4, there are only two games in which both teams are ranked, but some of the nation's best teams are set to face their toughest tests of the year. This isn't to say those schools are definitely going down over the weekend, but there's no doubt that an upset could be brewing if they aren't careful.

Let's take a look at the full Week 4 rankings from The Associated Press, the Amway poll courtesy of USA Today and the Bleacher Report Top 25. Then we'll highlight which teams are on upset alert.

 

Teams on Upset Alert

No. 5 Auburn Tigers

It's only fitting for the Auburn Tigers that they enter their treacherous upcoming slate of SEC knockdown drag-outs with a big-time test of another kind.

Gus Malzahn's fifth-ranked Tigers will travel west in a tough nonconference battle between ranked foes, facing the No. 20 Kansas State Wildcats in a Thursday night spectacle. It will be the first of many chances the defending SEC champs will have to prove that they belong back in the national title game. 

It will also be the toughest test the Wildcats have faced at home in quite some time, as ESPN Stats & Information noted:

But there's no denying that Bill Snyder's team will be up to the task. The Wildcats defense has consistently been one of the best units in the Big 12, and being used to high-octane offenses will certainly help while going against Nick Marshall and the stud rushing attack Auburn boasts.

On top of that, their offensive line isn't shying away from the Tigers' daunting pass rush, per The Montgomery Advertiser's James Crepea:

Kansas State quarterback Jake Waters has been better than advertised so far in 2014, using his dual-threat abilities to gash defenses. Star wideout Tyler Lockett should also be able to make his impact against an Auburn secondary that has struggled against top receivers (see: Kelvin Benjamin). 

Most importantly, Bill Snyder Family Stadium will be a rowdy and raucous environment knowing that they have the national runners-up coming to town and one of the best teams in the country.

Auburn might get out of Kansas with its undefeated record still intact, but it won't be easy.

 

No. 21 BYU Cougars

BYU shot into the Top 25 after its resounding upset victory over Texas and stayed there after improving to 3-0, but their stay in the rankings might be short-lived.

The Cougars face an underrated Virginia Cavaliers team at home on Saturday, and all it takes is a look at the previous weekend's game for both teams to see that an upset is on the horizon.

The Cavaliers posted one of the surprise outcomes in this young college football season by topping then-No. 21 Louisville at home 23-21 to improve to 2-1. That lone loss was an eight-point defeat to UCLA, No. 7 at the time.

Meanwhile, BYU struggled to get past Houston in a 33-25 victory that saw the Cougars defense give up 315 yards through the air.

BYU is a huge favorite entering the game, but as Mark Ennis notes, the line is awfully exaggerated:

The Cavaliers turned heads by knocking off a 21st-ranked opponent a week ago, and they'll be looking to make it 2-for-2 on the road Saturday. 

 

No. 1 Florida State Seminoles

It's not very often given Florida State's cupcake-friendly ACC schedule that it is put on upset alert, but Jameis Winston's top-ranked Seminoles will be put to the test Saturday.

The 22nd-ranked Clemson Tigers come to town for a Saturday night affair, and Dabo Swinney's squad hopes to make it a much more competitive contest this time around.

When the two sides faced off in the middle of 2013, it promised to be one of the best games of the year. Instead, Winston and company strolled into Clemson and pulled out a 51-14 win.

With that in consideration, it's not surprising to see Florida State as a 20.5-point favorite according to Odds Shark. But don't be surprised if it's much closer than that.

The Tigers were neck-and-neck with Georgia before Todd Gurley took over, and Florida State has no true rushing dynamo who can compare. Cole Stoudt has been impressive in the passing game at times, and the inclusion of Deshaun Watson in certain packages could pose problems.

It's hard to see Florida State falling to a team that it certainly outmatches, but the Seminoles' opening-weekend affair against Oklahoma State showed just how vulnerable the Seminoles could be against top-flight ACC competition. 

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College Football Playoff Standings 2013: Week 4 Rankings & Bowl-Game Projections

Bowl projections may technically still be in their infancy, but we're already close to being one-third of the way through the college football season.

Ever so slowly, the postseason is taking form. 

Projections are based on an equal split between Week 3 results, what problems or questions those results answer and strength of schedule for the remaining season. Keep in mind, too, that bowl slots don't always reflect conference standings; rather, they're the order in which bowls make their picks. 

Here's how the two major Top 25 polls looked after Week 3. The following slides contain bowl projections heading into Week 4. Below are links to the latest Associated Press and USA Today top 25 polls. 

 

Associated Press Top 25

USA Today Amway Coaches Poll

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Tennessee Volunteers Freshman Derek Barnett Working His Way Toward Greatness

Perhaps it's surprising how quickly Tennessee freshman defensive end Derek Barnett has made an impact on the Volunteers' young, revamped defense.

But it's not a shock to high school coach Cody White.

White, Barnett's coach at Brentwood Academy, knew his player was special when he battled through a back injury last season rather than just coasting toward his SEC scholarship.

"Some kids, when they [commit], they kind of Cadillac through their senior year," White told Bleacher Report on Tuesday. "Derek didn't do that. He worked extremely hard. I didn't know if he'd go over there and start, but I certainly thought he'd go over and put himself in a position."

After three games, the 6'3", 267-pound freshman defensive end is not only settling into a starting role, but a starring role for the Vols.

He is tied for sixth on the team with 11 tackles, including two for a loss. He also is tied for the team lead with a pair of quarterback hurries and has led a resurgent group of faster linemen who are on their way to reversing UT's pass-rushing woes of the past half-decade.

 

Leading a Defensive Revival in Knoxville

Making his second career start against the fourth-ranked Oklahoma Sooners, Barnett was dominant, blowing up plays in the backfield and containing OU quarterback Trevor Knight on the edge.

He finished with five tackles and a hurry despite being impeded much of the night.

Holding may be the only way to slow down Barnett.

UT head coach Butch Jones sang his freshman's praises all through fall practice, telling the Chattanooga Times Free Press' Patrick Brown that Barnett had a "tremendous camp" where he "upped everyone's level of play."

Even in a stout defensive end rotation that includes Curt Maggitt and Corey Vereen, among others, Barnett shines as the unit's best player. At times, coaches will put Maggitt back on the second level at linebacker to get their three-best speed-rushers on the field at the same time.

Barnett continually forces his coaches' hands when it comes to playing time and has ever since he arrived on campus this summer.

It didn't take long for Jones to know he had a future star on his hands. He told GoVols247's Wes Rucker (subscription required) Barnett's talent was complemented by the fact that he's "the epitome" of effort.

That doesn't surprise White, the blue-collar coach at Brentwood Academy who came from Texas where football is king.

Before taking over the Eagles, White coached in Denison, Texas—birthplace of President Dwight D. Eisenhower—and also coached for a time at the legendary Odessa Permian High School, made famous by the book Friday Night Lights.

He recognizes throwback toughness when he sees it, and Barnett embodies it.

As a senior at BA, Barnett battled injuries all season. Rather than take it easy, he rehabbed in order to keep playing, despite a future solidified by his commitment to Tennessee.

"We always appreciated the way he played the game," White said. "When you coach Derek and look him in the eye, you can see he wants to be the best. When you couple that with the athletic ability and competitiveness, you've got something special. That's what Tennessee's got in Derek."

 

Learning the Hard Way

That competitiveness spilled over into a major lesson learned for Barnett at the tail end of his high school career.

In a state playoff semifinal loss to rival Ensworth, Barnett delivered a late hit out of bounds in the game's waning seconds.

The hit coupled with the Ensworth announcer's reaction made the incident go viral, and it was picked up by Deadspin.com's Sean Newell. White said the personal foul was one of only a couple from his entire team all season and was out-of-character for Barnett, who quickly apologized.

The star player received a tough dose of embarrassment from the fallout, even though it was not dissimilar to the thousands of late hits that happen in football every year.

"I told Derek, 'Sometimes our greatest strength—in his case, competitiveness—can be our greatest detriment,'" White said.

"That play wasn't nearly as big a deal to me as it was some people, but we don't ever want stuff like that to happen, and Derek handled himself extremely well afterward. He was mad at himself after the game."

The Vols know all about competitive youngsters making critical blunders.

Last year, then-freshman defensive end Vereen had a pair of personal fouls against Georgia, including one that prolonged the Bulldogs' drive that sent a game UGA ultimately won into overtime.

Relentlessness sometimes needs restraint, and Barnett has shown the ability to do that so far in his college career. His most impressive attribute may be his discipline and understanding of the game.

"For a freshman he is level-headed," senior defensive tackle Jordan Williams told The Daily Beacon's Patrick Maccoon. "He doesn't panic or get too riled up when everything is flying fast around him. He's fast himself, and physical."

 

Bringing Wins With Him

Players like Barnett are therapeutic for the sickness of losing that has infected Rocky Top over the past few years.

He came from a highly successful high school football program and, according to White, elected to stay in state to be close to his mother and because he believed in what Jones was building at UT. Now, Barnett is a centerpiece for a program's hopeful resurgence.

He bristled at losing 34-10 against Oklahoma, a mentality that has been missing in Knoxville in recent years.

Barnett continued: "It hurts, but you've just got to learn from it and after we learn from it, just keep on pushing."

The confidence displayed by UT's freshmen indicates they'll eventually break through and turn around the program.

When they do, Jones can point back to winning key in-state battles for players such as Barnett as what aided the turnaround.

The Vols raided Middle Tennessee in the 2014 recruiting class for Jalen Hurd, Josh Malone, Jashon Robertson, Rashaan Gaulden, Vic Wharton, Aaron Medley and Michael Sawyers.

This year, the Vols have four commits from the Interstate 65 corridor between Murfreesboro and Nashville, and they are targeting more. It's becoming a major hotbed of talent for UT.

"I'm not trying to cast a stone here, but you could tell a major difference [when Jones took over for Derek Dooley]," White said. "As soon as Butch got there, he reached out heavily in the state. I don't ever tell the kids where to go or even have any allegiance, but at the same time, I feel like the flagship school needs to get kids from the state. He has done a phenomenal job.

"Coming from Texas, I've been around good football, and you could throw this [area] out there and be fine."

Barnett may wind up the best player from the area in a long time. While some in recruiting circles thought he'd project on the next level as a defensive tackle, Barnett worked to stay in shape and has been a force at defensive end—the position where he wanted to stay.

The start he's had is reminiscent of great UT linemen, and he is on pace to have the best freshman season of any Vols freshman defensive lineman since John Henderson.

Barnett hasn't done enough to be mentioned yet with the Tennessee legends. But with his work ethic and talent, he is only going to keep improving on a young career that already has solidified his status as a defensive centerpiece.

 

Unless otherwise noted all statistics gathered from UTSports.com and quotations obtained firsthand. All recruiting information from 247Sports.

Brad Shepard covers SEC football and is the Tennessee Lead Writer for Bleacher Report. Follow Brad on Twitter here:

@Brad_Shepard

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USC Offense Searching for Identity After Rushing Woes at Boston College

Struggles in the run game during No. 17 USC’s 37-31 loss at Boston College on Saturday have head coach Steve Sarkisian using the Trojans’ bye week to evaluate their offensive identity.

“What we have to assess this week as an offensive staff is understanding who we are personality-wise as a team and what gives us the best chance to be successful,” Sarkisian said on his weekly conference call Sunday. “Is it to run to set up the pass, or is it to pass to set up the run? We have to figure that out.”

Sarkisian added that “every game is going to be different,” a reality with which the Trojans have quickly become acquainted.

The run game buoyed them against a Stanford defense that allowed just 135 passing yards. Conversely, the pass was all USC could muster while rushing for a combined 20 yards at Boston College.

Striking a more consistent balance between the run and pass is vital to USC’s no-huddle offense operating effectively.

Indeed, USC was at its best in Week 1 against Fresno State with a mix of both the run and pass. Quarterback Cody Kessler passed for a career-high 394 yards, but the ball-carriers combined for 277 yards.

With that said, the Trojans were also physically superior to Fresno State up front and exploited that advantage rather freely.

Stanford and Boston College were at times able to overwhelm a young USC offensive line that is still finding its identity. True freshmen Toa Lobendahn and Damien Mama, as well as first-year starter Zach Banner, have had to learn on the job through this initial stretch of the season.

The Trojans’ youth in the trenches underlined what Sarkisian described as a three-pronged issue plaguing USC in its effort to establish the run.

“Credit Boston College. They had some good schemes...we would have liked to have attacked differently,” he said Tuesday on the Pac-12 coaches teleconference. “We left people unblocked in the hole, which is uncharacteristic of us. Thirdly, there were times we got beat one-on-one.”

As the line struggled to contain Boston College at the point of attack, the ground game wasn’t all that suffered. Kessler threw for 317 yards and four touchdowns, but his options were limited on passing downs.

The inability to run on first or second down resulted in numerous 3rd-and-longs. The Eagles’ ability to bring pressure with just three and four rushers in obvious passing situations resulted in a paltry 5-of-16 for USC on third-down conversions.

“We’re a lot better when we get first downs, and there was a period in the game [Saturday]—and it occurred last week against Stanford—where we were going three-and-out,” Sarkisian said. “When we’re going three-and-out, that makes it hard on us from a rhythm standpoint.”

Offensive line coach Tim Drevno’s unit has plenty to iron out in the bye-week preparation for Oregon State.

“It’s a combination of all those things. We all need to be accountable to that, and I believe everybody in our building is. We’re working on fixing those things,” he said.

The one-week layoff comes at a most opportune time for the Trojans. Sarkisian hesitated to say that two physical games in as many weeks took a toll on USC’s depleted roster, but the Trojans’ loss could be a case study for Fox Sports reporter Bruce Feldman’s "Body Blow Theory":

Upon regrouping over the next two weeks, USC will return to Pac-12 play against an Oregon State team it dominated with the run a season ago. In particular, running back Javorius “Buck” Allen broke out against the Beavers defense for 133 yards and three touchdowns.

Allen surpassed 100 yards in each of USC’s first two games of 2014 and was again a cornerstone of the offense in Week 3. He overcame Boston College’s stifling run defense with a career-high nine receptions for 118 yards and a touchdown.

Sarkisian said part of the Trojans’ path to finding their offensive identity is continuing to use Allen as a receiver—with a caveat.

“We anticipated coming into the season that we’d be able to utilize him out of the backfield,” Sarkisian said. He’s got tremendous hands, he’s a really good route-runner and he can be...a difficult matchup on linebackers.

“I don’t know that nine catches for almost 120 yards is ideal,” he added.

Allen's role is just one more piece of the entire puzzle Sarkisian and his staff are working to have in place for the conference season. Another is reintegrating running back Tre Madden into the rotation.

Sarkisian told the Orange County Register last week that Madden could be ready in time for the Oregon State game.

That additional support for the run game should help USC establish its offensive identity for the remainder of the season.

 

Quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Statistics compiled courtesy of cfbstats.com.

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Texas A&M Punter Drew Kaser Continues to Push for Heisman Trophy with Video

No punter has ever won the Heisman Trophy, but Texas A&M punter Drew Kaser isn't going to let that stop him from trying to take home college football's top honor this season.

Earlier this year, the junior punter created a shirt to promote his "#Kaser4Heisman" campaign:

Now, he has created a video that will take his campaign to the next level.

Kaser pointed out some good facts in the video. He was among the best dressed at the 2014 SEC media days. He led the nation in punting average (47.4 yards per punt) last season, which was good enough to make him a second-team Associated Press All-American.

It's easy to overlook punters. That's why Kaser is doing his best to put himself on the map and encourage voters to think of punters as "Heisman people."

[Texas A&M Athletics, ESPN; h/t College Spun]

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Most Underrated Defensive College Football Recruits in the Class of 2015

For perspective on how fickle recruiting rankings can prove to be, take the example of the current defensive end duo of the Houston Texans: Jadeveon Clowney and J.J. Watt.

Four years ago, Clowney—the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft by the Texans—was a household name as the nation’s top recruit in the 2011 class.

By contrast, Watt was a little known 2-star recruit from Wisconsin who signed with Central Michigan in 2007 before eventually transferring to play for the Badgers a year later.

The 2015 class is sure to produce a few hidden gems who emerge as stars on the college level.

Which defensive standouts in the current cycle are being vastly underrated by recruiting services, analysts and fans?

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