NCAA Football News

Does Oregon Deserve to Be Ahead of FSU After Latest CFP Committee Rankings?

No. 2 Oregon has jumped over No. 3 Florida State in the latest College Football Playoff ranking despite the 9-0 Seminoles' undefeated record. Bleacher Report College Football Analysts Michael Felder and Barrett Sallee discuss whether the committee was right or wrong in putting the 9-1 Ducks so high.

Who is in your Top Four? Should the Ducks have leapfrogged the Seminoles?

Watch the video and let us know!

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UCLA Football Recruiting: 5 2015 Recruits Bruins Must Land

Recruiting for Jim Mora and the UCLA football team is off to a great start for the 2015 class. 

Using Scout.com as a mechanism of reference, the Bruins currently have the No. 15 class in the country. If one looks at the average star rating per recruit, UCLA is No. 3 nationally—ranking behind only Alabama and Michigan. 

This piece will speak about the must-get recruits for this class—strictly based on need from a roster and talent perspective. The list won't be a comprehensive look at every elite recruit UCLA is pursuing. However, the athletes listed here all have a feasible shot at eventually ending up in Westwood. 

 

*Star rankings for the recruits are all from Scout.com, unless noted otherwise. 

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Does Alabama Deserve to Be in the Top 4 After Week 12 CFP Committee Rankings?

The Alabama Crimson Tide lead the "first four out" of teams in the latest version of the College Football Playoff committee rankings. Bleacher Report College Football Analysts Michael Felder and Barrett Sallee discuss whether that is a good position for Alabama.

Will Alabama make the CFP?

Watch the video, and let us know!

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The 3 Biggest X-Factors for Tennessee vs. Kentucky

The Tennessee Volunteers head into Saturday's matchup with the Kentucky Wildcats desperately needing a win that would all but ensure themselves of bowl eligibility.

While the Vols are, on paper at least, a better team than the Wildcats, there are a few X-factors that will play a big role in determining if Tennessee can gain and maintain control of the game or if Kentucky can pull a huge upset on the road. 

One thing is for sure: Neither team is lacking motivation to land a knockout blow this weekend. The Wildcats need just one more win to become eligible themselves, and to achieve it at the expense of Tennessee would be a signature victory for second-year head coach Mark Stoops

Tennessee, on the other hand, needs two wins to make the postseason, but a win over Kentucky would mean the Vols only need a single victory against remaining opponents Missouri and Vanderbilt—and the latter seems to have reverted back to the dark ages of Commodores football under first-year head coach Derek Mason.

The Vols are favored to win this game, but after three 5-7 seasons in a row, they have a track record of folding when they only need one more win to reach the all-elusive bowl game.

With so much on the line this weekend, there's no doubt both teams will get each other's best shot. Here are three X-factors that could trump even the most passionate pregame speeches by Vols head coach Butch Jones and Stoops before their teams take the field. 

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5 Things We Learned from College Football Playoff Committee's Week 11 Rankings

The selection committee's third release of its rankings proved to be its most interesting and revealing. There is strong indication that the members indeed are evaluating the teams freshly each week and not following the poll practice where teams only slide up and down out of fixed positions from the previous week.

That's good. It makes for an intriguing final month of the season for the fewer than a dozen contenders still remaining in the playoff hunt. 

Here are the five things that come immediately to mind based on the committee's new rankings.

 

SEC is looking at one bid

Forget two bids in the four-team field. The SEC will need to hang on to its one bid, as a two-loss conference champion may very well be shut out of the playoff. Despite being the top-ranked team for three weeks in a row, Mississippi State may be finished with just one loss if it does not win the SEC West because of a weak nonconference schedule.

 

Big Ten is in big trouble

Ohio State's big win over Michigan State is good for the Buckeyes but very bad for their conference. OSU will not be able to play its way into the playoff without help as the committee has a very low regard for the Big Ten. The Buckeyes' best remaining opponent could be Nebraska—if they meet in the B1G title game—and the Huskers are ranked only 16th despite having just one loss.

 

TCU shouldn't get too comfortable

While the Horned Frogs made a celebrated jump into the top four this week, this stay is by no means permanent. Baylor still has a chance to get past TCU as it has better opponents coming up, including the regular-season finale against Kansas State.

Since the two teams share the same foes in 10 of their 11 games against FBS opponents, TCU should root hard for Minnesota, as its victory over the now-ranked Gophers is a far better scalp than Baylor's win over Buffalo.

 

Committee is sending a message about schedule

That Baylor is in its current predicament owes a great deal to its awful nonconference schedule. Conversely, that UCLA is ranked 11th can be traced to its decision to play two power-five opponents in its three OOC games. A third example is Notre Dame, where we learned that while it's good to schedule tough opponents, you'll need to beat them to get credit.

 

Where's group-of-five?

For a second consecutive week, the committee did not bother to put a group-of-five team in the rankings, leaving the access bowl picture very murky. But with the introduction of Minnesota at No. 25, one must wonder if leaving Marshall out at this point makes sense. As a direct comparison, the Herd performed better than the Gophers as they both beat Middle Tennessee at home. Marshall won by 25 (49-24) whereas Minnesota won by 11 (35-24).

 

Explanation of rankings

BCS rankings are a simulation of the BCS formula used from 2004-2013 with two exceptions: The AP poll is used in place of the Harris Poll, and Sagarin and Massey rankings are their native systems instead of the non-MOV version used for the BCS.

CFP mock rankings are published weekly at Bleacher Report, with components including polls, computers, strength of schedule and conference championships. The full rankings are here.

 

Follow on Twitter @ThePlayoffGuru

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Is Ohio State Poised to Make Playoff Spot After Latest CFP Committee Rankings?

The Ohio State Buckeyes are ranked eighth in the latest College Football Playoff rankings. The rest of the season looks promising for the Buckeyes, but will it be enough to get them into the CFP?

Bleacher Report College Football Analysts Barrett Sallee and Michael Felder discuss what would need to happen to get OSU into the playoff. 

Do you think Ohio State will make it?

Watch the video and let us know! 

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College Football Playoff Rankings 2014: Twitter Reacts to Week 12 Top 25 Reveal

Between a number of ranked matchups and a stunning Texas A&M upset victory over Auburn, Week 12's edition of the College Football Playoff rankings was due for a serious shakeup.    

Here is an overview of the latest Top 25 from the 12-person selection committee, as the college football hierarchy was revealed in an ESPN telecast Tuesday night:

In preserving its undefeated record, it comes as no surprise that Mississippi State is still the top team in the country.

For the second game in a row, Florida State Seminoles quarterback Jameis Winston overcame multiple interceptions to lead the team to a 34-20 win over Virginia. That shaky, turnover-prone play had to contribute to FSU's fall to No. 3, as Oregon slid into the second spot on the strength of a win over Utah.

Stewart Mandel of Fox Sports praised the committee for placing the Ducks No. 2:

Fox Sports' Bruce Feldman was rather shocked by the move at the top:

The Tigers are now out of the coveted Top Four following a 41-38 loss to the Aggies at home. Previously sixth-ranked TCU dominated then-No. 7 Kansas State 41-20 to bolster its resume in a big way—enough to get into the Top Four, at that.

Joey Galloway of ESPN offered his take:

TCU's triumph creates considerable convolution in the Big 12, thanks to its prior loss to Baylor, who blew out Oklahoma, 48-14, this weekend.

Much has been made of the Bears' weak non-conference schedule, which Sporting News' Matt Hayes doesn't buy into:

CBS4's Vic Lombardi deployed similar logic with regard to the Baylor-TCU dilemma:

Dan Wetzel of Yahoo Sports raises an interesting point about the Horned Frogs' potential fate:

A reputable Michigan State Spartans defense was shredded by the Ohio State Buckeyes in East Lansing, as QB J.T. Barrett accounted for five total touchdowns in a 49-37 landmark win. That battle for Big Ten superiority gave the Bucks a big boost in their postseason push.

In all likelihood, though, Ohio State will face a conference championship tangle with Nebraska, provided the Cornhuskers win at Wisconsin next week and run the table in the final two games thereafter.

Bleacher Report Buckeyes expert Ben Axelrod alluded to how the Big 12 could impact OSU's playoff chances:

UCLA made a big jump from 18th to 11th in the latest rankings, catalyzed by star signal-caller Brett Hundley's four total TDs in a 44-30 win over Washington. Chris Dufresne of the Los Angeles Times had the last laugh regarding his assertion that the team could still contend:

It will be interesting to see whether the Bruins can defeat USC and Stanford at home to stay in the Pac-12 South hunt, where they trail Arizona State.

The Sun Devils are dangerous, riding a wave of momentum off a 55-31 win over Notre Dame, while the Alabama Crimson Tide are still lurking thanks to a gritty, 20-13 overtime victory against LSU.

Pat Forde of Yahoo Sports noticed how the committee gravitated to Arizona State, while CBSSports.com's Dennis Dodd feels Alabama could jump into the Top Four soon enough:

As can be discerned from the breakdown of all these conferences and the most current standings, there is still so much at stake with mere games remaining. The biggest showdown on tap for Saturday is Mississippi State's trip to Tuscaloosa, where it hopes to knock off Alabama.

ESPN's Mack Brown weighed in on what should be a classic SEC clash:

Few could have forecast Auburn losing, so even the top-tier teams playing perceptibly winnable games aren't safe.

In just the third edition of the College Football Playoff rankings, the committee has rewarded a less-heralded team in TCU by placing the Horned Frogs fourth. With the program in such a great position and so many formidable contenders chasing, this race for the postseason will surely be fascinating down the stretch.

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Hits and Misses of the CFP Committee's Top 25 Poll After Week 11

The College Football Playoff selection committee came out with its third Top 25 ranking Tuesday, and much like with the previous system, there's bound to be debate.

Bleacher Report college football analysts Barrett Sallee and Michael Felder break down the hits and misses from the committee poll.

Which schools do you think deserve to be in the CFP?

Check out the video and let us know!

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College Football Playoff 2014: Final Four Predictions After 3rd Top 25 Rankings

Another week, another shakeup in the College Football Playoff rankings with yet another loss for a top team. Auburn fumbled away a golden chance to make the playoff—twice—and subsequently dropped out of the top four.

In the Tigers' place, TCU moved into the playoff picture for the first time this season. Meanwhile, Mississippi State, Florida State and Oregon all remain in the top four with the Ducks moving up two spots and knocking the Seminoles down a peg.  

Several weeks still lie ahead, so there's no telling how the final rankings will look. The Bulldogs and Crimson Tide battle this weekend in a highly critical showdown, and the outcome will have a major impact on the rankings.

Prior to another huge weekend of games, here's a look at the latest College Football Playoff rankings and projections for the final bracket.

 

Analysis

It may not have been billed as a huge matchup prior to the season, but Mississippi State at Alabama already looks like the biggest game of the year.     

Coming into the contest, the Bulldogs are the unanimous No. 1 across all polls and the only undefeated team in the SEC. The Tide roll in after their final road test with a 20-13 win over LSU in overtime, solidifying their place as one of the best in the country.  

Both programs have endured the toughest schedules to this point, as ESPN Stats & Info notes:

Throughout the last several weeks, I've projected that Mississippi State will go in as the No. 4 seed and Bama as No. 2 overall. That's been contingent on this game. Suffice it to say, there's a lot on the line in Tuscaloosa this weekend.

Outside of the SEC, potentially the biggest game is taking place in Coral Gables, Florida. Miami might not come in as a ranked team, but the Hurricanes come in with three straight wins by an average of 24 points.

Florida State enters with an unblemished record but has narrowly escaped games against Notre Dame and Louisville. Miami coach Al Golden still knows taking down the Seminoles will require near perfection, per Christina De Nicola of Fox Sports:

This is obviously a team that's executing at a high level that we're going against that's 25 straight now. That's elite. You've got to execute at a high level, and (it) really doesn't matter whom you grew up with or whom you played high school with. You've got to get the job done, and that's what our guys have to stay focused on this week.

On the West Coast, Oregon has emerged as the class of the Pac-12 after a convincing win over Utah.

The Ducks have taken down some of the top teams this season with one of the best offenses in the country. Scoring the fourth-most points (46 per game) and ranking inside the top 25 in both rushing (22nd) and passing (18th), Oregon has rolled since losing to Arizona.

Kevin McGuire of NBC Sports points out how dominant the Ducks have been against notable defenses:

Marcus Mariota continues to shine under center, combining for 38 total touchdowns and just two interceptions. Even with Pharaoh Brown now out for the season, per Kevin Gemmell of ESPN.com, Mariota's legs along with Byron Marshall and Devon Allen can carry the team.

Unlike some quarterbacks who struggle under pressure, Mariota has been one of the best on the road. Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports notes how well Mariota has played away from Autzen Stadium:

Meanwhile, other teams like TCU and Arizona State loom with hopes of taking one of the final spots. If the Tide, Ducks or Seminoles drop a game, it would leave an opportunity for either of those two programs to step up.

College GameDay passes along a look at the chances for several one-loss teams to win the rest of the way:

The weeks left of the regular season in college football can be counted on one hand, so a lot can change before the playoff.

Even with one loss, it appears Mississippi State might have built a strong enough resume to make the final cut. Having one of the best measuring sticks this weekend in Tuscaloosa, the Bulldogs might also solidify their spot.

 

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