NCAA Football News

Nebraska Cornhuskers vs. Miami Hurricanes Complete Game Preview

Nebraska and Miami last met each other in the regular season in 1976. That doesn't mean these two programs haven't seen each other plenty of times between then and now.

Instead, the Huskers and Hurricanes became accustomed to meeting in the postseason. The last time the two met was the 2002 Rose Bowl, where Miami won 37-14. Hurricane quarterback Ken Dorsey led a big charge against the Huskers and Heisman winner Eric Crouch.

Twelve years later, the two finally meet again. The all-time series is tied at 5-5, making this matchup more interesting than ever. Adding fuel to the fire, Nebraska is 3-0 against Miami in Lincoln, per

It's hard to believe that these two programs have only met a total of 10 times. Despite so much time in between, it's clear both are anxious to meet once again.

Will the Huskers come away victorious in this final nonconference matchup for the season?


Where: Memorial Stadium; Lincoln, Nebraska

When: Saturday, September 20, at 8 p.m. ET

Watch: ESPN2

Listen: Husker Sports Network or Sirius Channel 113, XM 196

Betting Line via Odds Shark: Nebraska (25-2)

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Nick Chubb Injury: Updates on Georgia RB's Thumb and Return

Georgia Bulldogs running back Nick Chubb underwent a surgical procedure Monday to address a fractured left thumb and could miss extended time, beyond just this week's upcoming game versus Troy.

Chip Towers of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported what Chubb's mother, Lavelle Chubb, said regarding her son's status moving forward after his operation at St. Mary's Hospital in Athens.    

"He's doing good; he's just resting right now," said Lavelle Chubb. "They said they would see how he's doing (Tuesday) before they make that decision. Possibly this week but they’re not really sure (how long he'll be out)."

Chubb had a breakout performance of sorts in Georgia's 45-21, season-opening victory over Clemson, racing 47 yards to the end zone in the fourth quarter of that contest. Chubb finished with four carries and 70 yards.

Although the Bulldogs suffered a letdown and lost to South Carolina this past Saturday, it was another strong outing for Chubb, who ran for 34 yards on just four attempts. Radi Nabulsi of highlighted Chubb's promising start:

Per 247Sports' composite rankings, Chubb was the No. 6-ranked running back in the high school class of 2014.

The Troy game shouldn't be too much of a problem for Georgia to handle, particularly with regard to its rushing attack. Superstar Todd Gurley is already in place, and Sony Michel and Keith Marshall are fully capable of spelling Gurley when he's taking a break on the sidelines.

This setback isn't ideal for Chubb, given how much of an immediate impact he's had in his brief time in Athens. However, his future is bright, and the Bulldogs would be wise not to press him back into action.

A deep backfield affords Chubb plenty of time to fully recover and still make his presence felt later this season, amid what promises to be a difficult SEC schedule.

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Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Florida Gators Complete Game Preview

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The preseason is over, and it’s time for the real football to begin. Or something like that.

With a tip of the cap to West Virginia, which is looking better and better every week, Alabama’s three-game, warm-up stretch of the Mountaineers, Florida Atlantic and Southern Miss is over, and SEC play gets ramped up into full gear this week. The Florida Gators are coming to Tuscaloosa and will test the Crimson Tide with the most talent they’ve seen so far on defense and a much more physical offense.

Plenty of newcomers will be tested on both sides of the ball, as the pressure of SEC play ramps up the level of competition across the board.

Florida is coming off of a triple overtime win over Kentucky. It’s hard to get a good read on the Gators, since their season opener against Idaho was cancelled due to weather and their only other game was against cellar-dweller Eastern Michigan.

We’ll probably know a lot more about both teams after the weekend.

Here’s everything you need to know:

Date: Saturday, Sept. 20

Time: 2:30 p.m. CT

Place: Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Alabama


Radio: Crimson Tide Sports Network, Gator IMG Sports Network

Spread: Alabama by 14.5-15, according to

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Florida State vs. Clemson Complete Game Preview

Florida State hasn't had troubles putting up points on Clemson the past two years.

Since Brent Venables arrived from Oklahoma and was hired as the Tigers' defensive coordinator before the 2012 season, he has helped the team improve gradually. Last season, Clemson allowed just 22.2 points per game (24th best in the Football Bowl Subdivision).

But FSU has been able to put some impressive numbers on the board. In 2012, FSU shook off a sluggish start to win 49-37 behind EJ Manuel's 380 passing yards and two touchdowns. And last year, in a top-5 showdown, visiting FSU routed Clemson 51-14 as Jameis Winston threw for 444 yards and three touchdowns.

That's 1,232 offensive yards by FSU the past two seasons against the Tigers.

Clemson will try again to slow down FSU's offense when the teams face off on Saturday at 8 p.m. ET (ABC).

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Alabama and Florida to Finally Unveil Offensive Secrets in Saturday Showdown?

The jury is still out on just how good Florida and Alabama really are, but it won't stay that way for much longer.

The third-ranked Crimson Tide will host the unranked Gators on Saturday afternoon in Tuscaloosa, with both teams needing to make a statement to prove that they're actually back.

For Alabama, the cornerback issues that haunted head coach Nick Saban's crew appear to have been solved in wins over Florida Atlantic and Southern Miss. Was that a byproduct of Eddie Jackson's return and Cyrus Jones' development, or more due to weak competition?

At quarterback, Blake Sims has settled into the starting quarterback role. The senior has completed 75 percent of his passes (48-of-64) for 646 yards, four touchdowns, one pick and a 177.29 passer rating—third-best in the SEC among qualifying quarterbacks.

Florida's offense has rolled up 593.5 yards per game and 6.59 yards per play against Eastern Michigan and Kentucky, but at 6.2 yards per attempt, quarterback Jeff Driskel has yet to stretch the field.

Could the two traditional powers have been holding things back during the early part of the season, despite both playing close games?

Perhaps, and they could be unveiled this week.


Time for OJ?

The search for Alabama tight end O.J. Howard has entered its fourth week, with the 6'6", 240-pounder nowhere to be found.

Sure, Saban has been asked.

"O.J. Howard is a guy that we need to get more involved in probably what we're doing," he said during last Wednesday's coaches teleconference. "I think he has some capabilities to make plays that we need to take advantage of. He has been open a few times and we just haven't gotten him the ball."

Nothing changed against Southern Miss, as Howard finished the game with a grand total of zero catches on the season.

That's going to change at some point, and there's no time like the present. Alabama has a small village of ultra-talented wide receivers outside, but Florida's secondary is legit—despite the way the stats looked against Kentucky's air raid offense last weekend.

According to The Associated Press' John Zenor, Saban knows that Amari Cooper, his star wide receiver, is going to have his work cut out for him going up against Vernon Hargreaves III:

Instead of Sims getting into a rhythm with Cooper—as has been the case for the first three weeks—hooking up with Howard might be an attractive alternative early. This would keep the Gator defense on its heels throughout the game.


An Added Dimension

Remember when Florida's new offense was expected to put stress on opposing defenses by utilizing Driskel's skills on the ground?

I do.

"I think this offense fits him better as opposed to what we may have been doing before," head coach Will Muschamp said at SEC media days in July. "To utilize his athleticism and space, some of the things he's able to do athletically, is going to benefit him and us."

Driskel feels the same way.

"I think teams know that I'm fast," Driskel told Bleacher Report in June. "I've put on film that I can run by DBs, and that's talked about during the week when defenses are getting ready for us. It's just something else that the defense has to account for and is kind of where the game is moving."

Through two games this season, though, Driskel hasn't seen his production on the ground pick up. He has only posted seven carries for 24 yards on the season—3.5 carries per game.

For reference's sake, Driskel averaged 9.1 carries per game in 2012, when he led the Gators to a Sugar Bowl appearance.

Has he been making the wrong reads?

Just to make sure, Thomas Goldkamp of 247Sports went back to look at the tape from the Kentucky game:

That doesn't necessarily mean he won't run more in the future, though.

Whether he's been told not to run or the plays haven't called for him to take off, he hasn't been as much of a weapon on the ground as anticipated. Don't count on it staying that way forever.

Driskel has legitimate breakaway speed, and Alabama's defenses have struggled with mobile quarterbacks such as Auburn's Nick Marshall and former Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel in the past.

Even Oklahoma's Trevor Knight—who lit the Tide up through the air—made an impact with his legs, getting outside of the pocket and making throws on the run in last season's Sugar Bowl.


Can 'Bama Stretch The Field?

For the most part, Sims has been used as a game manager through three games. Sure, he's averaging 10.1 yards per attempt, but that stat is inflated quite a bit by receivers—namely, Cooper—getting chunks of yards after the catch.

Is this the week when Sims stretches the field?

We talked about the possibility of Howard making more of an impact, and Sims' lone interception of the season was on a seam route downfield into double coverage against West Virginia.

Whether it's Howard down the seam, the likely return of wide receiver DeAndrew White—as reported by's Aaron Suttles—Cooper simply beating Hargreaves or all of the above, a downfield passing attack would keep opposing defenses honest.

Those running lanes for Sims and Alabama's stable of running backs would then be the size of the Grand Canyon.

Can Sims do it?

He hasn't had many chances, and maybe that's by design. At some point, though, the Crimson Tide offense is going to have to take a few risks.

If the defense struggles with Driskel and/or top receiving target Demarcus Robinson on Saturday, it'll be time to see if Sims has what it takes deep downfield.



Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer and video analyst for Bleacher Report and 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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Notre Dame Football: The One Fix Brian Kelly Must Make During the Bye Week

As Notre Dame takes its first week off, the Irish find themselves in an enviable position—an undefeated record, a difficult schedule looking less daunting by the week and an opportunity to get their thin roster healthy after multiple injuries hit during their 31-14 victory over Purdue. 

But if there's one main objective to accomplish over the bye week, head coach Brian Kelly and offensive line coach Harry Hiestand must fix a unit that's underperforming. 

The Irish front five played perhaps its worst game of the season on Saturday night, giving up four sacks to the Boilermakers. That number could've been even uglier if quarterback Everett Golson had not shown his elusiveness on multiple occasions, escaping pressure as he scrambled and ran his way to leading rusher status for the Irish offense Saturday night.

That's an unnecessary—and dangerous—role for the engine of the Irish, especially with a talented trio of backs capable of carrying the load. But it can't do that if the offensive line doesn't open up any holes.

After starting the season strong with 281 yards on the ground against Rice, the Irish have seen that output plummet the past two weeks. 

Why that's happening remains to be seen. After being held to just 54 yards on the ground against Michigan, Kelly explained that the Wolverines' scheme played a large part in that struggle. But after seeing Notre Dame held to just 3.7 yards a carry against Purdue, you start to wonder if these comments have a bit of spin to them.  

"The way [Michigan] decided to play the game, there was six, seven guys [at the line of scrimmage], it was just how they decided that they wanted to take those opportunities away from us," Kelly explained after the 31-0 victory over the Wolverines. "We were glad to oblige them and throw the football. If somebody is going to play the game so one‑sided defensively, we're going to throw the football."

That wasn't Purdue defensive coordinator Greg Hudson's scheme, and the Irish still didn't run the ball well. So after back-to-back weeks of struggling on the ground, Kelly acknowledged a problem up front. And while there doesn't seem to be one glaring issue, the lack of chemistry in the starting five has the head coach understanding that improvements must be made. 

"We're falling off a block here. We miss a fit here," Kelly said on Sunday. "And maybe it's just the continuity took us a little bit longer. It's nothing big, but it's everything. ... They've got to get cleaned up before we get to where we want offensively."  

Kelly acknowledging continuity points back to a training camp restack. After playing all spring with Steve Elmer at left guard and redshirt freshman Mike McGlinchey at right tackle, Notre Dame opened camp with Elmer at tackle and unproven veterans Matt Hegarty and Conor Hanratty sharing time at left guard. 

Teamed with center Nick Martin and fifth-year senior Christian Lombard, that trio was expected to be an asset while Elmer and left tackle Ronnie Stanley got acclimated to new positions. But an ankle injury suffered against Rice for Lombard has forced both Hanratty and Hegarty into the starting lineup surrounding Martin, and it's created question marks. 

"Quite frankly, we've got to find a little bit more push inside, and that's what we're going to try to come up with," Kelly said. "So we're in the process right now of kind of sorting that out ourselves."

One place the Irish won't look is to their talented freshman, Quenton Nelson. After impressing during fall camp, it seems that Kelly and Hiestand want to keep a redshirt on Nelson if at all possible. Beyond that, the focus likely turns to Elmer. 

An elite recruit and a physical specimen, the sophomore held his own last year at guard, thrown into the lineup after Lombard required season-ending back surgery. But after shifting outside to tackle, a position he profiles at nicely at 6'5.5" and 315 pounds, the Irish staff needs to decide if it works its way through growing pains or moves Elmer back inside. 

"I think you could look at it one of two ways. One, let's hang in there and let him continue to work through a new position. Or two, he's much more comfortable at guard," Kelly said.

A third scenario likely plays into the equation even more: Is McGlinchey ready to be an every-down player?

As physically talented as any offensive lineman on the roster, McGlinchey is still growing into his 6'7.5" frame. And at only 310 pounds, he'll be asked to hold up against defenses like Stanford and Florida State thrown into the October fire fairly quickly.

Or Kelly could shift Lombard back outside to right tackle, where he started in 2012 for the 12-1 Irish. Lombard dominated Rice's Christian Covington during the season opener, but he isn't necessarily healthy with an ankle sprain and hasn't played tackle in two seasons.  

Over the past three seasons, Notre Dame has collected some elite talent along the offensive line. Credit Hiestand's ability to recruit and teach, something on display last season as the Irish offensive line didn't miss a beat even after losing three starters to injury. 

But without first-rounder Zack Martin and third-round pick Chris Watt, the Irish front five needs to find its identity if Notre Dame wants to turn 2014 into a season to remember. 

"We're going to evaluate where we are after three weeks because we have to get better," Kelly said. "We know we've got some good players. We have to figure out whether we have them all in the right place."

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Oklahoma State Cowboys vs. UTSA Roadrunners: Winners and Losers from Week 4 Game

The Oklahoma State Cowboys welcomed the UTSA Roadrunners to town this past Saturday and turned what looked like an intriguing matchup into a bona fide rout.

UTSA had the Stillwater faithful on upset alert. Luckily for Oklahoma State fans, the Pokes were having none of it.

Oklahoma State came out strong and never really looked back. It didn't look completely dominant, but it played well enough to erase any doubt about its ability take care of the teams it's expected to beat.

The Cowboys were the big winners in this one, but who are the individual winners and losers from this game? Read on to find out. 

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USC Football Recruiting: Latest Updates on 2015 Commits, Visits and Targets

National signing day 2015 has the look of a potentially historic date in USC football recruiting history.

It marks the first time in more than three years that the program has a full allotment of scholarships with which to work, the result of a 10-scholarship reduction each year since 2012 as part of USC's sanctions from the Reggie Bush affair. 

Head coach Steve Sarkisian and his staff are using the Trojans' replenished allotment to the fullest. USC already has 16 verbal commitments for the 2015 class.

The most recent additions are Tristan Payton—a 4-star wide receiver from First Coast High School in Jacksonville, Florida—and Cole Smith, a 3-star center from nearby Mission Viejo High School. Both pledged to USC in August. 

The Trojans are ranked atop the Pac-12 currently and check in at No. 10 in 247Sports' national rankings. The rest of the conference may once again have to get used to looking up at USC when it comes to recruiting. 

"Consider yourself an up-and-coming recruiting power in...the Pac-12? If so, you'd better buckle up, because the ride is about to get a lot bumpier, especially on the recruiting trail. ...[T]he big boys are back," is's Gary Laney's advice to the rest of the conference with USC returning to full scholarship strength. 

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Super 16 Poll Week 4: Complete Rankings Released for 2014 Season

It's hard to find anyone who isn't both excited and relieved that college football will finally have a playoff to determine a national champion this season. But there are some folks who believe that a four-team playoff doesn't go far enough.   

Consider the members of the Football Writers Association of America and the National Football Foundation among them. The two groups decided last February that they would conduct a weekly poll of the top 16 teams in the nation, essentially giving fans an idea of which teams would qualify for a 16-team playoff.

Fascinated? Then read on below, as we reveal those rankings, Bleacher Report's Top 25 and take a look back at the week that was.  





It was perhaps the perfect week for the Super 16 poll to debut. A pretty quiet week in terms of top matchups meant the poll wasn't going to have to deal with a number of ranking controversies in its debut week.

The major questions for any pollsters this week were pretty simple: How far would USC drop after being upset by Boston College, and where do South Carolina and Georgia belong in the rankings after the Gamecocks beat the Bulldogs, 38-35, in the weekend's premier matchup?

Thankfully, we don't have to debate whether or not USC would belong in a 16-team playoff—and we'd certainly never have to debate that argument this early in the season—because the polarizing viewpoints on that topic would rage for days on end. Had they lost at home, it would be easier to argue they deserved no consideration for a top-16 spot, but a road loss is a road loss, even to a team you're expected to defeat. 

All is not lost for USC, of course. Far from it.

"The goal, obviously, of being Pac-12 champs is very alive for us," coach Steve Sarkisian told reporters after the game. "I thought we came out playing well, and for whatever reason I thought we lost it. I've got to figure that out."

Meanwhile, South Carolina saved its season, defeating Todd Gurley and Georgia. In fact, perhaps it was how Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo utilized Gurley—or perhaps more accurately, didn't utilize him—that was the difference in this game. Martin Rickman of took a closer look at that:

Still, star tailback Todd Gurley had just eight carries for 44 yards in the first half. The Bulldogs had just 14 for 71. Mason went 9-of-12 for 132 passing yards, but that left the Bulldogs in a 24-13 hole at the break.

Gurley finished with 131 yards and a touchdown, a two-yard scamper with 9:23 to play in the third quarter that cut South Carolina’s lead to 24-20. Yet on the next possession, after the Gamecocks had extended their advantage to 11, Bobo went away from the ground game. He called for an empty-backfield set on a key third-and-two. Mason’s pass fell incomplete and the Dawgs were forced to punt.

As Rickman would go on to note, "When a team has the best running back in college football, it should use him." Perhaps it will be a lesson that Georgia takes with them going forward. 

There were other upsets on the day, of course, as Virginia Tech fell to East Carolina, while Louisville was knocked off by Virginia. Suffice to say, neither team will be cracking the top 16 anytime soon. 

A few teams that should be entrenched in these rankings for much of the season find themselves atop the rankings, however. It should come as little surprise that some combination of Florida State, Oregon, Alabama and Oklahoma should be in the top four. Auburn, Texas A&M, Baylor and LSU have all impressed early as well.

If nothing else, the SEC teams should continue picking one another off and providing us all with very intriguing football as they do. One would imagine plenty of SEC squads will make their way into the top-16 throughout the season. 

And one would imagine that, while we won't actually get a 16-team playoff at the end of the season, it will be quite fun debating who would belong in such a system throughout the year.


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Drake Now Wearing Marcus Mariota Jerseys at Concerts

Oh, Drizzy. Where would we be without your revolving-door fanship of all things shiny and winning?

Adding another front-runner to his stable of sporting allegiances, Drake walked out in two different Marcus Mariota jerseys at a concert on Saturday. 

Complex’s Chris Yuscavage reports that the singer/rapper/feeler of feelings was performing in Washington state when he decided to update his college football allegiances for this season’s Heisman Trophy race. 

Forgoing his former promotion of Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M, Drake alternated black and white Oregon jerseys in support of the Ducks quarterback—a Heisman hopeful entering the 2014-15 season.

Twitter user @WordonRd tweeted out a picture of Drake's Oregon gear. This is what a real Ducks fan looks like.

Drake—a member of the Nike family after signing with the sneaker giant in December of 2013—completed the circle of personal and corporate promotion by throwing on Air Jordan "Oregon Duck" 4s and 5s. 

So there you have it—Drake is an Oregon fan, and will be so until Mariota totes a clipboard in the NFL or Kenny Hill wins the Heisman. In any case, the state of Drake’s allegiances, as always, remains fluid and subject to change based on geography and success. 

Welcome him as one of your own, Oregon fans. Or shun him entirely. It doesn't really matter. He'll be on the wagon for the next two to three months regardless.


Follow Dan on Twitter for more sports and pop culture news.

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8 College Football Recruits Who Had an Explosive Week

Each week of the high school football season features explosive performances from America's premier college prospects. The second slate of September action didn't disappoint, as several standouts commanded an expansive spotlight and carried their respective squads to victory.

We go beyond the headlines every Monday, giving you the inside look at players who shined on game day. From a ferocious Florida rusher to gunslingers in the Lone Star State, here's our examination of who shined.


5-star RB Damien Harris, Madison Southern High School (Barea, Kentucky)

It's been quite a senior season already for the country's top-ranked running back. Last week, we witnessed Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops take a helicopter to watch Harris as he gained 318 yards and scored four touchdowns on 17 carries.

His most recent effort also warranted attention. The 5'11", 205-pound playmaker scored seven touchdowns, including a 91-yard kick return, in a 49-35 victory over Paul Dunbar High School, per Ben Roberts of He ran for 321 yards on 19 attempts and finished the game with more than 400 all-purpose yards.

Harris surpassed 6,000 career rushing yards and 100 touchdowns, continuing to work his way up the state's all-time records list. He needs just three more rushing scores to supplant former NFL MVP Shaun Alexander for fourth in that category.

Through his first four games, Harris has 1,019 yards on the ground, averaging 18 per carry, and 15 touchdowns (eight from 50 yards or more). His top five features Kentucky, Texas A&M, Florida, Ohio State and Alabama.


4-star Brandon Wimbush, St. Peter's Prep (Jersey City, New Jersey)

The Penn State commit should be making James Franklin very optimistic for life after star quarterback Christian Hackenberg's departure. Wimbush, who showed tremendous progression as a pocket passer this summer in Elite 11 action, has carried that momentum into his senior season.

The 6'2", 205-pound prospect posted incredible statistics Thursday night in a nationally televised matchup with fellow New Jersey powerhouse Bergen Catholic High School and coveted 2016 quarterback recruit Jarrett Guarantano.

Wimbush torched his opponents on ESPNU, utilizing elite arm strength and mobility throughout.

Wimbush completed 19 of 24 pass attempts for 330 yards and five touchdowns, per Braulio Perez of He added 72 yards and another score on the ground.

“It felt great and this was probably the biggest game of my career,” Wimbush told Perez. “It was exciting that it happened on ESPN too because I was able to show the world what I can do.”

Rated fourth nationally among dual-threat quarterbacks in 247Sports' composite rankings, Wimbush continues to validate the hype that warranted offers from Ohio State, Alabama and Miami, among others.

Though he's played less than six full quarters in two lopsided victories, Wimbush has managed to complete 76 percent of his passes, compile 500 total yards and account for nine total touchdowns.


4-star TE Alize Jones, Bishop Gorman High School (Las Vegas, Nevada)

Alize Jones' latest effort was a combination of elite athleticism and clutch timing. The nation's No. 1 tight end prospect helped national title contender Bishop Gorman rally from a late deficit against Southern California power Centennial High School.

The 6'4", 222-pound UCLA commit is used as a hybrid receiver in high school and simply couldn't be contained during crucial late stages of the contest. He caught the game-winning two-point conversion with just over two minutes remaining to give Bishop Gorman a 43-42 victory.

Aside from the successful conversion, Jones hauled in eight passes for 160 yards and two touchdowns, per the Las Vegas Review-Journal. He now has 369 yards and four touchdowns on 14 receptions through four games, putting him on pace to obliterate his 2013 totals (35 catches, 571 yards and 10 scores).


5-star QB Kyler Murray, Allen High School (Allen, Texas)

The staggering statistics this Texas A&M pledge has assembled during his brilliant high school career make big performances appear routine. But keeping things in perspective, each and every one is pretty special stuff.

Murray opened district competition with yet another virtuoso effort, throwing for 228 yards and five touchdowns on 13 pass completions, per John Machota of The Dallas Morning News. 

In typical fashion, the 5'10, 180-pound playmaker created opportunities as a rusher, surging downfield for another 137 yards.

"Individual accomplishments are cool, but at the end of the day it's all about getting wins," Murray told Bleacher Report this summer.

That's the only thing he's done in three seasons as a starter. Murray is now 29-0 at Allen and appears primed to track down a third straight state title.

After scoring 107 total touchdowns as a sophomore and junior, he's up to his old tricks again this season. Through three games, Murray has thrown for 1,002 yards, rushed for 427 yards and tallied 19 scores.


4-star RB Jacques Patrick, Timber Creek High School (Orlando, Florida)

Patrick ranks among the most coveted uncommitted prospects for a reason. He simply gets it done against top Florida talent on a weekly basis.

After rushing for 448 yards and six touchdowns in his first two games as a senior, Patrick picked things up in a 55-42 victory Friday evening. The 6'1.5", 230-pound running back raced for 327 yards and five touchdowns, further inflating lofty statistics.

Patrick, who reached 6,000 career rushing yards earlier this month, spent Saturday at Texas A&M. The Aggies are among several squads still jockeying for position in his recruitment, along with Alabama, Ohio State and Florida State.


3-star RB Rob Ennis, Millville High School (Millville, New Jersey)

The 5'10", 170-pound speedster shattered his own single-game school rushing record Friday night in a memorable season-opening victory. Ennis erupted for 315 yards and four scores on just 17 carries, resulting in a 39-24 win over Mainland.

He hit another gear in the second half, racing for touchdowns of 30, 52 and 68 yards, per Mike McGarry of The Press of Atlantic City.

"Breaking that record was a goal of mine coming into the season," Ennis told McGarry. "And it wasn't just me gaining those yards. I had all those guys blocking up front for me. They helped me break the record."

Ennis, a Purdue pledge, has rushed for nearly 3,000 yards since the start of his sophomore season and also received interest from the likes of Rutgers and Oregon.


3-star QB Tucker Israel, Lake Nona High School (Orlando, Florida)

Israel has quickly turned his senior season into an onslaught of high school record books in the Sunshine State.

The 6'0.5", 200-pound passer established two all-time Florida records Friday night while leading Lake Nona to a 35-14 victory over Colonial High School, per Bill Gronvold of the Orlando Sentinel.

He connected on 26 pass attempts, giving him the new state completions record (720). The previous mark (706) was held by Wake Forest freshman starter John Wolford.

Wolford also held the old career passing yardage record, which was vanquished by Israel during the game. He tallied 437 yards through the air, giving him 10,726 total passing yards.

Israel, a Clemson commit, through five touchdowns Friday. He will break the state record for scoring passes (126) with five more.


4-star QB Chason Virgil, West Mesquite High School (Mesquite, Texas)

The Mississippi State commit continues to play the best football of his career, operating with more polish than in previous seasons. Virgil decimated the Red Oak High School defense Friday night, keeping an unbeaten campaign intact.

He spread the ball in impressive fashion, finding four different receivers for scoring strikes, per Devin Hasson of the Mesquite News. His four touchdowns tosses led West Mesquite to a 51-7 win.

The Bulldogs appear set to bring in a passer making serious strides at the right time. Virgil has thrown for 635 yards and nine scores in the past two games. 

Recruit information and ratings courtesy of 247Sports.

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NCAA Football Picks: North Carolina Tar Heels vs. East Carolina Pirates Odds

State bragging rights will be on the line this Saturday afternoon at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium when the ACC’s North Carolina Tar Heels tangle with the AAC’s East Carolina Pirates. Game time is set for 3:30 p.m. (EDT), and the contest will be broadcast nationally on ESPNU.

North Carolina comes into this matchup 2-0 straight up after posting wins over Liberty and San Diego State, but it failed to cover against the spread, according to Cover’s betting trends, in either game as a double-digit favorite at home. The Tar Heels now have to go on the road. They are 3-7 ATS in their past 10 games away from home.

The Pirates followed up a tough 33-23 loss to South Carolina as 14-point road underdogs in Week 2 with a stellar performance: Last Saturday, East Carolina was a 9.5-point underdog playing on the road yet came away with a 28-21 win over then-No. 17 Virginia Tech, capturing the betting public’s full attention. East Carolina is now 7-1 against the spread in its past eight games.


North Carolina at East Carolina Betting Storylines

North Carolina came into the new season ranked No. 23 in the AP Top 25 preseason poll. While it has won both of its games by a combined 31 points, its stay in the rankings did not last long. Part of the reason is a defense that allowed 29 points to Division IAA Liberty and 27 points in a tight four-point victory against San Diego State.

The offense has done its part with a total of 87 points so far behind a balanced attack between the pass and the run. Tar Heels quarterback Marquise Williams has thrown for 424 yards and four touchdowns in his first two games while completing 67.2 percent of his 58 passes. However, his biggest contribution has been on the ground, with 115 yards and two scores on 18 rushing attempts. North Carolina has the offensive firepower to stand toe-to-toe with the Pirates as long as its defense can get off the field.

East Carolina joined the AAC this season after an extended stint in Conference USA, and it has immediately positioned itself as one of the top teams in the conference following its close call against the Gamecocks and its upset of Virginia Tech. A victory this Saturday could put the Pirates in position to possibly crack the Top 25 if enough higher-ranked teams lose.

East Carolina has done a great job getting out of the gate quickly, and the key to last Saturday’s upset was a 21-point first quarter that paced the win. Quarterback Shane Carden continues to impress with 1,031 yards passing in his first three games. He has thrown seven scoring strikes while completing 63.3 percent of throws. Justin Hardy has been on the receiving end of 23 balls for 267 yards, but Cam Worthy is the deep threat with an average of 27.5 yards per catch.


North Carolina at East Carolina Betting Odds and Trends by Doc’s Sports

Pointspread: East Carolina -3

Total Line: OFF

According to Covers’ betting trends, the Tar Heels are 7-3 ATS in their last 10 games but just 6-13 ATS in their last 19 games following a SU win. The total has stayed “under” in 10 of their last 14 games overall.

The Pirates are a perfect 5-0 ATS in their last five home games and 4-0 ATS in their past four games against a team from the ACC. The total has stayed under in five of their last seven games against the ACC.

Head-to-head in this in-state rivalry, the favorite is 4-1 ATS in the past five meetings, and the total has stayed under in three of the last four games.


College Football Picks: North Carolina at East Carolina Betting Predictions

I went against the Pirates last week, but I am not going to make that mistake again. This team is solid on both sides of the ball and highly motivated to keep knocking off teams from the ACC. They hammered North Carolina 55-21 last season as 12.5-point road underdogs. While the Tar Heels may have revenge on their minds, they are walking into a very difficult situation to actually get a win. Lay the three points and stick with East Carolina to make in two in a row over its rivals.

Take: # 332 East Carolina (-3) over North Carolina - 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 20

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UCLA Football: Breakout Bruins of Nonconference Play

No. 12-ranked UCLA featured plenty of touted individual names when it kicked off the 2014 season, but some breakout Bruins through three games are playing key roles in the team's 3-0 start through nonconference play. 

UCLA's stars are indeed well-recognized. 

The nation got to see quarterback Brett Hundley, a preseason Heisman Trophy contender. Linebacker Myles Jack became a sensation for his two-way play at running back. Defensive lineman Eddie Vanderdoes was one of the most heavily recruited prospects in 2013, and captain linebacker Eric Kendricks has an NFL future.

The Bruins' stars have been vital to the unbeaten start, as have their breakout performers. New stars are emerging both on offense and defense and should be central to the Bruins' push for a Pac-12 Conference championship. 

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Ohio State Regaining Confidence, but Big Questions Still Loom for Buckeyes

COLUMBUS, Ohio—Standing at the postgame podium on Saturday, Urban Meyer looked noticeably more relaxed, noticeably more confident and noticeably more satisfied than he did a week prior.

But the Ohio State head coach also wasn't about to be disillusioned, either.

Meyer was in a mood to celebrate following the Buckeyes' 66-0 victory over Kent State on, and rightfully so. Ohio State came out and dismantled an opponent from start to finish for the first time during the 2014 season, in an effort that Meyer described as "just what the doctor ordered."

And although he was happy that his team did what it needed to do with the opponent placed in front of it, Meyer also knows that the Golden Flashes aren't on the same level as the Virginia Tech squad that handed the Buckeyes their first loss of the season a week earlier.

Yes, Ohio State had just played up to its potential on both sides of the ball, but Meyer was aware that a significant variable was in play, leaving how much he would truly take away from the Buckeyes' most recent win to be determined.

"I thought our guys played well. Obviously a little talent advantage, but we had to have a game like this," Meyer said. "Normally that's a first game, especially when you have a young quarterback and a young offensive line. But I'm glad we played like we did."

That was the overarching theme of Ohio State's postgame media session, where the Buckeyes were pleased with their play but admitted that they still had questions about themselves due to the lower level of competition that they had just beat.

Heading into a bye week, Ohio State players and coaches alike will have plenty of time to continue to search for those answers as they prepare for a Sept. 27 date against their next quality opponent on the schedule, Cincinnati.


What Will Be the Buckeyes' Offensive Identity?

While the quality of opponents varied, the Buckeyes' offensive game plan appeared to change drastically in the week between OSU's loss to the Hokies and win over Kent State.

Gone were designed quarterback runs for J.T. Barrett, replaced with a more even attack that saw the freshman signal-caller attempt 30 passes and throw for 312 yards and six touchdowns in little more than a half of action. When the Golden Flashes came out in the 46 Bear defense that Virginia Tech stifled Ohio State with, the Buckeyes were unfazed, dinking and dunking their way to a five-play, 58-yard touchdown drive to start the game.

Swing passes to the running backs and a revitalization of the H-back position both appeared to take Kent State out of its copycat approach after the second series of the game—a nine-play, 65-yard Ohio State touchdown drive that ended with a touchdown catch by running back Rod Smith.

By the end of the first quarter alone, eight Buckeyes had tallied receptions, as Barrett looked more like the "distributor" that the OSU coaching staff touted him to be when he took over for an injured Braxton Miller two weeks before the start of the 2014 season.

"On purpose, and early in the first half I wanted to throw a lot. I wanted to force [Barrett] to make plays—and the receivers," Meyer said. "You can tell we're trying to get guys in open space to see what they can do because you've got Jalin Marshall, who's a very talented guy, Dontre Wilson—I could go down the list. But we're still trying to get our hands on exactly who's going to touch that ball."

Meyer also admitted that with a fourth of the season in the books, the Buckeyes are still trying to identify an overall offensive identity. While Miller put Ohio State on his back two years ago and Carlos Hyde emerged as one of the nation's best running backs last season, the Buckeyes currently find themselves without a bread and butter that they can go to with the ball on a consistent basis.

The game against Kent State was perhaps an indication of what the Ohio State offense would like to hang its hat on, as the Buckeyes emptied their backfield in favor of a pass-happy approach.

"I think he'll be a good empty quarterback, five-receiver set," Meyer said. "We're still, once again, figuring out exactly how we're going to be moving the ball as an offense once we start getting to the Big Ten season."


What Can the Ohio State Defense Do?

With Miller's return to full strength an assumption at the time, all eyes were on the Ohio State defense during the offseason, as new defensive coordinator Chris Ash took over following the Buckeyes' disastrous end to the 2013 campaign.

But while Ash spent the spring and fall camp implementing a new press-coverage scheme, Ohio State had to wait until the second week of the season to put it on display, thanks to Navy's triple-option attack in Week 1.

In its debut against the Hokies, Ash's attack drew mixed reviews, with the Buckeyes surrendering just 199 passing yards (and 324 total yards), but also allowing Virginia Tech to convert nine of its 17 third-down conversions. Against Kent State, the Ohio State defense was flat-out dominant, giving up just 126 total yards, recording three interceptions and holding the Golden Flashes to just two successful third-down conversions.

Of course, those aren't realistic numbers to expect from the Buckeyes defense on a consistent basis, as Kent State will likely be the worst team that Ohio State faces this season. Still, that didn't stop Ash from being encouraged by his unit's most recent performance, regardless of who it came against.

"Kent State, I know a lot of people say is an inferior opponent, but you still have to come out and play the game," Ash said. "I think we improved from last week. A lot of positives. We've got a lot of things we still need to improve upon, but that's what the bye week's for. I think the kids are seeing improvement and that's what's important."

Continuing to improve will be all the more important for Ohio State heading into its next game, as it prepares for a Cincinnati team that threw for 436 yards and scored 58 points in its season debut last weekend. With the Bearcats' 58-34 win over Toledo being played on Friday night, the Buckeyes got an early look at their next opponent from the team hotel, and they know that they'll have their work cut out for them on the defensive side of the ball.

"I watched Cincinnati last night and they're a very talented team," Meyer said on Saturday. "So we're going to put everything we can into it the next two weeks to win that game."


Just How Good Are the Buckeyes?

While nothing but positive vibes emanated from the Ohio State interview room on Saturday—and why would anything else after a 66-0 win?—one overarching question remained: Just how good are the 2014 Buckeyes?

The dominant victory over Kent State was impressive, but the Flashes' inherent inability almost made an asterisk necessary for Ohio State's most recent win. That was apparent in the answer of offensive coordinator Tom Herman, when asked what questions he still had about the Buckeyes heading into their bye week.

"If we can do it consistently, if we can play well against a team with the athletes that Cincinnati will have," Herman responded. "We're a work in progress in a lot of places. The biggest question mark other than guys continuing to get better and establish their role on offense is can we establish this type of success against teams that are going to have better athletes?"

With the Bearcats coming to town in two weeks, it shouldn't be long until Ohio State finds out the answer to that question. That's why Meyer is approaching the bye week with only a cautious optimism, well aware that the Buckeyes have yet to prove much of anything in the 2014 season.

"We're going to practice hard this week. A lot of what you do in a bye week is dependent on what kind of team you have. But our guys need repetitions," Meyer said. "Where are we and do I like where we're at? I think so. We're 2-1. You still have a sick feeling in your stomach about last week, but we're moving forward."


Ben Axelrod is Bleacher Report's Ohio State Lead Writer. You can follow him on Twitter @BenAxelrod. Unless noted otherwise, all quotes were obtained firsthand. All recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.

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Tennessee Football: Checking in on Progress of Vols' Top Freshmen

The Tennessee football team has been forced to play 22 true freshmen already in the first three games of the 2014 season. When that happens, some pretty harsh realities are inevitable.

A 34-10 setback at the hands of the fourth-ranked Oklahoma Sooners was the first tough lesson learned Saturday night in Norman, but it was also a game in which UT learned a lot about itself.

The Vols are green but growing. They battled. At times against OU, they played extremely well on both sides of the ball.

They found some wrinkles—finally—in the running game. They made a couple of big plays downfield. They hit hard and showed up on third down throughout the entire contest on defense.

A group of talented, coveted freshmen are playing all over the place, and they're improving with every rep they get.

With a bye week looming before SEC play starts on the road at Georgia, it's a good time to take an early-season assessment of how UT's most depended-upon first-year players are faring.

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College Football Rankings 2014: Updated Outlook on Top Week 4 Polls

What had the look of a boring week with little college football rankings implications on paper provided the wildest week of movement yet.

Go figure.

Last week, just one game featured a matchup between ranked teams. Of course, it wound up being the biggest upset of the week in a slate that featured several en route to a new-look set of rankings that may or may not stand the test of time.

Here is a look at the Amyway Coaches Poll and The Associated Press Top 25 after the dust settled on the unexpectedly entertaining week:

It was Boston College taking down USC that wound up as the biggest upset of the weekend, technically at least. ESPN Stats & Info provides the justification for the label: 

Regardless of the magnitude, the upset was a tad easy to see coming. Fresh off an upset of their own at The Farm over Stanford by just three points, Steve Sarkisian's team had to travel across the nation and somehow avoid an upset at the hands of a criminally underrated team.

The Eagles quietly flew under the radar into the matchup as one of the nation's most dangerous teams thanks to dual-threat quarterback Tyler Murphy. After two outstanding games before the Trojans came to town, the senior used the spotlight to throw for 54 yards and lead the team in rushing with 191 yards and a score on just 13 carries.

Known for his offense, Sarkisian notes that his defense has some work to do in the coming weeks, as captured by Scott Wolf of the Los Angeles Daily News:

Arguably the biggest upset in layman's terms was South Carolina taking care of business at home when Georgia, now formerly of the Top 10, came to town.

After a rocky start to the season in a blowout loss to Texas A&M, the Gamecocks got a titanic effort from quarterback Dylan Thompson (271 yards, three touchdowns) to get the 38-35 upset.

Yet the polls are the subject of much controversy on this very matter, as the Bulldogs remain ahead of the Gamecocks despite the loss. Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports describes this with emphasis:

Both teams get a shot at a ranked Missouri squad in the coming weeks, so both are teams to watch, as the current ranks could change in dramatic fashion.

Two teams fans should immediately note as absent after digesting the biggest upsets are Louisville and Virginia Tech.

Louisville was on the fringe at No. 21 last week and a rather large favorite on the road against Virginia, but Mike London's team once again proved defensively stout and got the two-point upset.

Virginia Tech, of upsetting Ohio State fame to ruin the polls, suffered a letdown and lost by a touchdown to an offensive-minded East Carolina team.

As far as a broad outlook goes, the grand meaning behind polls continues to be a topic of much debate now that the four-team playoff is set to change the landscape of the sport. As Stewart Mandel of Fox Sports points out, the impact a single loss can have on a team's playoff chances is difficult to discern, but we are surely going to find out:

The best part? Things will only get more complicated as the season continues.

Look at next week. Big dogs such as Florida State are back in action, with a matchup against Clemson in the cards. Auburn and Kansas State collide in a battle of ranked foes, and Oklahoma will have somewhat of an interesting test on its hands at West Virginia.

In other words, perhaps this week's unexpected shakeup on an unheralded slate was just a way to whet the appetite of fans when it comes to the rankings—things are just getting started.

To what end, nobody knows.


Stats via ESPN. Amyway poll via USA Today. AP poll via The Associated Press.


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Keith Ford Injury: Updates on Oklahoma RB's Foot and Return

Oklahoma running back Keith Ford has a foot injury that could cost him to miss time for the Sooners in the coming weeks.

Jake Trotter of ESPN reported the difficult news for Oklahoma:

David Ubben of Fox Sports Southwest offered his thoughts on the situation:

Through three games, the sophomore back has exploded for the Sooners. Along with his 194 rushing and 100 receiving yards, Ford has registered multiple touchdowns in each game this season with five on the ground and one through the air in total.

The loss of Ford for multiple weeks will hurt the ground game, but Samaje Perine proved he's a reliable backup. Perine has already compiled 177 rushing yards and a touchdown with Ford carrying much of the load.

Sooners coach Bob Stoops noted Perine's ability following the Tennessee game, per Ryan Aber of The Oklahoman.

"Samaje gets in there in the second half, and again he’s fresh,” Stoops said. “He gets in there and he is pounding it. He is a strong, physical player. He has a great base to him. He does everything you want. He catches the ball. He was a big boost there in the second half."

Heading into a huge matchup with West Virginia, a lot more of the load will be on Perine's shoulders if Ford does miss time. Luckily, it appears he's comfortable in the backfield and reliable for the Sooners.   

Trevor Knight and the passing game will also be asked to do more with Ford missing time. He has six total touchdowns this year (four passing, two rushing) and will have to repeat that success against the Mountaineers and potentially TCU on the road Oct. 4.         


Follow @RCorySmith on Twitter.

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The SEC's Secondary Crisis

Birmingham, we have a problem.

The SEC, headquartered in Birmingham, has been known for decades as a conference that is driven by defense. Since 2012, however, things have changed.

An injection of creative offensive coaches combined with big, physical receivers and secondaries that struggle to keep up have transformed the league into the "Pac-12 East," where "just enough" defense is all a team needs to win at an elite level.

The secondary crisis has become even more apparent this season, as 12 of the 14 teams are giving up more than 200 yards per game through the air and six or more yards per attempt.

Never was that more prevalent than during Week 3 in Columbia, South Carolina, when Georgia's secondary—which is coordinated by Jeremy Pruitt, a secondary coach (and teacher) by trade—was lit up by South Carolina quarterback Dylan Thompson.

His stat line wasn't a video game line that jumps off the page, although it was solid. He completed 21 of 30 passes for 271 yards and three touchdowns. What was very concerning for Pruitt was the room South Carolina's wide receivers had to work with.

Nick Jones, Shaq Roland, Rory Anderson and the rest of the Gamecocks got so open that, at times, there wasn't a Bulldog within 15 yards of them.

"There were a myriad of issues for the Dawgs against South Carolina," said Michael Felder, Bleacher Report's lead college football video analyst and former defensive back at North Carolina.

"The general thing I noticed with the secondary was players a step or two away from where they needed to be to impact the play. As Jeremy Pruitt institutes his pattern-matching heavy schemes, that's to be expected at times. Players are pushing to get to landmarks in coverages and not relating to the players in front of them."

South Carolina's pass defense hasn't been much better, although it certainly looked improved in Game 3. The Gamecocks have still been lit up this year through the air, first by Texas A&M (511 yards) and then by East Carolina (321 yards).

Alabama's problem at cornerback was one of the hot-button topics of the offseason, and it popped back up again in the opener when West Virginia quarterback Clint Trickett threw for 365 yards. Eddie Jackson replacing Bradley Sylve in the starting lineup and Cyrus Jones' improvement between Weeks 1 and 2 has helped the Tide look better lately, but that could be as much—if not more—a product of weak competition than a sign of actual improvement.

"Eddie Jackson looks to be in midseason form which is amazing coming off a major knee surgery," said Felder. "Cyrus Jones has been night and day from not only the West Virginia game, but the entire 2013 campaign. This team is addressing its major issue, and that will help the rest of the defense click as they play tougher teams. Of course, FAU and Southern Miss make it easy for Jones to be more aggressive; it has to translate against the Ole Miss' and Texas A&M's of the world."

Auburn's pass defense has been on the express to struggle-town since Ellis Johnson took over as defensive coordinator prior to the 2013 season, Texas A&M's might as well run for mayor and the rest of the SEC's "elite" have been hit-or-miss over the last few years.

What's the issue?

The game has changed.

New, creative coaches have revolutionized the game in the SEC. It's no longer a "three yards and a cloud of dust" conference—it's a conference loaded with diverse offensive schemes with coaches who know the weaknesses of the defenses and choose proper times exploit those holes.

The dirty little secret is that it's not that much of an issue at all.

Back in the day, a common phrase was that "the best defense is a ball-control offense." That's changed a bit nowadays, because the best defense is a dynamic offense.

"The offenses put more pressure on everybody playing defense. The secondaries' issues just are more glaring because they are what a casual fan notices most," said Felder. "Georgia's linebackers jumping routes in a 'no cover' zone instead of hitting the top of their drops makes safeties appear clueless. Giving teams 'five Mississippi' to throw the ball makes safeties seem incapable of covering."

The SEC has also evolved into an "offense first" conference, for the most part.

Take Auburn, for example. 

The Tigers are nothing to write home about on defense. In fact, if you did write home about Auburn's offense, the letter would probably get lost in the mail. The offense, though, is so efficient, so dangerous and so consistent that it forces opposing teams to come off their game plan offensively. At that point, all it takes is one or two big plays at the right time to turn a close game into a blowout.

Times have changed. Half of the conference finished in the top 20 nationally in pass defense in 2008. Right now LSU and Ole Miss are the only two teams that appear in the top 20, and really are the only SEC teams in that neighborhood.

That's OK, though, because the definition of what makes a team elite has changed over the last few seasons, which means some of the secondary "issues" that have popped up lately are easily overcome.


Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer and video analyst for Bleacher Report and 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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Samuel Chi's Mock College Football Playoff Standings

With the advent of the College Football Playoff, the BCS and its standings have been consigned to the ash heap of history. The 13-member selection committee will make all the decisions. Polls and computer rankings (supposedly) will no longer matter. There will be no more standings and no more projections.

But that just can't be. College football has always been about rankings, from the preseason to the postseason. There's no way we should have to wait until the last week of October to find out where everyone stands. And there is a lot at stake here. 

Besides the four teams that will advance to the Playoff, there are eight other slots up for grabs for the New Year's Six bowl games. The highest-ranked champion of the non-power Group of Five conferences is guaranteed one of the spots.

Back in the spring, we experimented and tinkered to come up with a methodology that will generate a rankings system similar to what the committee might produce. Beginning this week, we will unveil our rankings every Monday morning to show you where everybody stands.


The Rankings 

(See methodology of standings


The Playoff Teams

1. Florida State—The Seminoles barely edged Oregon for the top spot, and they have an inviting path to repeat as national champions. All of their toughest remaining opponents—Clemson, Notre Dame, Boston College and Florida—are at home. And even with the addition of Louisville, the ACC doesn't look like it will provide much of a challenge. 

2. Oregon—The Ducks really have looked the most impressive so far among the top teams, especially with the second-half destruction of a good Michigan State team two weeks ago. The Pac-12 will not be a cakewalk, but with USC and Arizona State absent on the schedule, it enhances Oregon's chances to run the table.

3. Oklahoma—The Sooners defeated a pedestrian Tennessee team to wrap up their non-conference schedule without a blemish. Because there isn't a Big 12 title game, Oklahoma will have less margin for error than other power-five conference contenders. For OU, it could be one (loss) and done.

4. Auburn—The top four teams have separated themselves from the rest, which means there's a significant gap between No. 4 Auburn and No. 5 Alabama. But the Tigers have a brutal schedule ahead, with seven teams currently in the top 25 of our rankings on tap, beginning with this Thursday's non-conference game at Kansas State.


First Four Out 

5. Alabama—Don't fret, Tide fans, your team can easily play its way into the Playoff, but first and foremost it must win the Iron Bowl. Alabama's schedule isn't nearly as challenging as Auburn's, as it will play neither South Carolina nor Georgia, likely the two best teams in the SEC East.

6. Texas A&M—The Aggies shot up the rankings with their season- and SEC Network-opening rout at South Carolina and have been flying under the radar for a bit with a cupcake-y tour through Texas' lesser teams (Lamar, Rice and SMU). If A&M can somehow win the SEC West by getting by Auburn, Alabama and LSU, it'll be in the Playoff. 

7. LSU—Four teams in the SEC West are among the top seven teams in our rankings, which is what makes this the most competitive division in college football. The Tigers opened the season with a resounding win over Big Ten power Wisconsin, but most of their work is still ahead.

8. Baylor—Nobody really knows how good the Bears are after they rolled through their first three opponents by a cumulative score of 178-27. But this joke of a non-conference schedule might come back to haunt Baylor unless it can run through the Big 12 unscathed.


Other Fun Facts

* The SEC is dominating the standings, with five teams in the top nine and eight in the top 15. But that does not necessarily mean that it will land multiple teams in the Playoff, as the intra-conference fratricide will soon kick into full gear.

* After the second Saturday debacle, the Big Ten's chances of making the Playoff field looks pretty bleak. Michigan State, the highest-ranked B1G team at No. 13, might be the only one with a slim shot if it can win the conference. No other Big Ten team is higher than No. 20.

* Notre Dame is currently 10th, and with a remaining schedule that includes Stanford, Florida State, Arizona State and USC, it has a chance to crash the Playoff field if it can go undefeated. 

* BYU, at No. 18, might earn one of the New Year's Six bowl slots, though nothing is guaranteed for the independent team. Though they have a benign schedule that gives the Cougars a great shot at going undefeated, it remains unlikely that they can earn a spot in the Playoff.

* As has been the case since the latter years of the BCS, conference realignment has sucked almost all the oxygen out of the lesser conferences. Of the 44 teams ranked in our standings, only three come from the Group of Five conferences and just one in the top 25: No. 24 East Carolina (American), No. 34 Cincinnati (American) and No. 44 Marshall (C-USA).

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Kevin Olsen Arrested: Latest Details, Mugshot and More on Miami Hurricanes QB

Miami quarterback Kevin Olsen continued a tumultuous start to his tenure with the Miami Hurricanes.

WSVN-TV announced Olsen was arrested, while also providing his mugshot: 

Andy Slater of 940-AM WINZ and Manny Navarro of the Miami Herald passed along more information:

WPLG 10 News shared an image of Olsen leaving jail:

Miami was quick to discipline Olsen following the arrest, according to ESPN's Joe Schad:

Olsen started the offseason with hopes of playing a crucial role on the team, but was suspended for the season opener. Brad Kaaya earned the starting nod and has led the Hurricanes to a 2-1 record thus far.

Prior to the recent arrest, Olsen was improving in the eyes of coach Al Golden. Susan Miller Degnan of the Miami Herald provided a statement from Golden discussing Olsen last month:

Kevin has made a lot of progress this summer, he really has. He grew a lot as a person, so I’m anxious to see that [Tuesday]. That’s what I want to see, just how much he’s grown.

Just being in meetings, I can hear him. He’s more vocal, he’s more confident, understands the system a lot better and has had a lot of opportunities to grow since the spring.

With Kaaya still the starter and improving over the last two games, this shouldn't impact Miami on the field. While Olsen may have provided more depth, the position is set with others behind Kaaya looking for snaps.

As for Olsen, the former 4-star quarterback's career is now up in the air. Even if he can recover from the recent arrest, overtaking Kaaya and others for a role on the team seems like a tall task for the redshirt freshman.


Follow @RCorySmith on Twitter.

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