NCAA Football News

Mississippi State vs. Alabama: Live Score and Highlights

Alabama 12, Mississippi State 0—Mid 2nd Quarter

The No. 5 Alabama Crimson Tide (8-1, 5-1 SEC) are hosting the top-ranked Mississippi State Bulldogs (9-0, 5-0).

CBS is carrying the conference tilt. Bleacher Report is providing live scoring updates and in-game analysis. Please add your thoughts in the comments section below.

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Western Kentucky Scores on Hail Mary to End 1st Half vs. Army

Western Kentucky was up 17-10 just before halftime on Saturday against the Army Black Knights, but the Hilltoppers weren't ready to head into the locker room clinging to a seven-point lead. 

With only three seconds remaining and the Hilltoppers on Army's 45-yard line, senior quarterback Brandon Doughty threw up a prayer to the end zone. His fellow senior, wide receiver Willie McNeal, somehow emerged from the scrum with the ball.

Thanks to McNeal's heroics, the Hilltoppers held a 14-point advantage heading into halftime.

[Vine]

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Florida Gators Teammates Block Each Other Once Again vs. South Carolina

Not again.

The Florida Gators were frequently the butt of jokes last season after two players accidentally blocked each other in a 26-20 loss to Georgia Southern. On Saturday, Gators fans had to be feeling a sense of deja vu. 

Against the South Carolina Gamecocks, two Florida players ended up blocking each other while trying to protect their quarterback. 

Here's a Vine of the play.

At least they were quicker to realize their mistake this time around.

[SB Nation, Vine]

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Deshaun Watson Injury: Updates on Clemson QB's Knee and Return

Clemson freshman quarterback Deshaun Watson returned to action Saturday after missing three games with a broken finger, but he lasted just three series before going down again.

Clemson reported Watson was ruled out of the game:

Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports indicated the talented signal-caller was forced to leave in the first quarter of a pivotal ACC clash against Georgia Tech:

Per ESPN.com's Travis Haney, he appeared to injure his knee while carrying the ball, although he did leave on his own power:

Watson was eventually taken to the locker room,. SI Now's Zac Ellis provides more details on Watson's demeanor: 

Senior backup Cole Stoudt took over for Watson and will be tasked with leading the Tigers if Watson misses any more time.

 

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Ohio State's J.T. Barrett Runs for 86-Yard Touchdown vs. Minnesota

Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett has filled in admirably for injured signal-caller Braxton Miller this season. Runs like this have made the redshirt freshman stand out in his first year of play.

Early in the first quarter Saturday against the Minnesota Golden Gophers, Barrett faked a toss to his running back, then kept the ball and ran 86 yards for Ohio State's opening touchdown. 

It was the third-longest touchdown run in Buckeyes history, according to ESPN's College GameDay on Twitter:

That score gave the dual-threat Barrett 35 total touchdowns this season, including nine on the ground.

[YouTube, h/t Vice Sports]

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Best Signs from ESPN's 'College GameDay' Week 12

ESPN's College GameDay is in a familiar place, as it hit up Tuscaloosa, Alabama, for the Top Five matchup between No. 1 Mississippi State and No. 5 Alabama. 

As we all know, Crimson Tide fans aren't happy with their team being ranked lower than the visiting Bulldogs, so you know the fans were going to come with their best signs. 

Let's get to it! 

Well, Tom Brady does, too. 

This was a sweet Mullet burn.  

This fan nailed it with this lawyer joke.  

No animals were hurt while making this sign. 

It's like a meme—in real life!  

You all saw this coming, right?  

Well, that was fun.

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College Football Week 12: Live Scores, Highlights and Reaction

Keep it locked right here as we bring you live coverage of all the Week 12 college football action!

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Ohio State vs. Minnesota: Live Score and Highlights

Ohio State 17, Minnesota 14 — Halftime

Game action is now underway between No. 8 Ohio State (8-1) and No. 25 Minnesota (7-2). ABC is televising the matchup nationally from Minneapolis .

We are watching the game, providing live analysis as the action unfolds:

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Clemson vs. Georgia Tech: Live Score and Highlights

Georgia Tech 19, Clemson 3—Early 3rd Quarter

The Tigers and Yellow Jackets are underway in Bobby Dodd Stadium. These two-loss teams are both looking to keep their hopes alive for an ACC title, but both need help from the teams in front of them.

You can watch the game on ESPN, but stay right here for live updates and analysis.

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College Football Rankings 2014: Final NCAA Overview of Week 12 Standings

We're on the heels of possibly the most turbulent week of college football that's taken place so far this year. Week 11 caused dynamic shifts throughout the nation's rankings, sending some teams rocketing up the standings and others plummeting out of contention.

If you thought Week 12 would be any different, think again.

One impending game has the ability to completely change the College Football Playoff picture as we know it. This contest has more postseason implications than possibly any other we've seen this year. Get ready for Mississippi State versus Alabama.

Before we discuss the immense changes that could come to fruition in the wake of this monumental game, let's take a quick glance at the final overview of the nation's standings heading into Week 12.

 

College Football Playoff committee rankings can be viewed at CollegeFootballPlayoff.com.

Complete CFB standings can be viewed at ESPN.com.

 

Week 12 Storylines to Watch

Fallout from Mississippi State vs. Alabama

The ripple effect this game has a chance to leave on college football is simply astronomical. Not only does this contest affect both the Bulldogs and the Crimson Tide, but it affects any other team in contention of reaching the College Football Playoff.

Sure, plenty of other factors will end up determining the nation's hierarchy following Week 12, but there are two intriguing scenarios that could emerge from the final result of this game.

In the first scenario, Mississippi State defeats Alabama. The size of the margin of victory doesn't matter much because the sheer difficulty of the road win will keep the Bulldogs securely in the No. 1 position. Oregon has a bye week, and should Florida State and TCU defeat their unranked opponents handily, there shouldn't be any changes in the Top Four.

In the second scenario, Alabama defeats Mississippi State. This is the conclusion that would send the college football rankings into a state of shock. With the undefeated No. 1 team going down, the new Top Four would be significantly altered. According to College GameDay, it's a likely probability:

Despite having the week off, Oregon could easily wind up as the new top team. However, Florida State would improve to 10-0, and Alabama could be considered the best one-loss team due to strength of schedule. Both squads would surely be under consideration for the nation's top spot.

What about TCU? The Horned Frogs have been playing extremely solid football this season. Would Alabama's win be enough to leapfrog this team even if TCU defeats Kansas by a handful of touchdowns?

One thing is for certain: If Alabama wins, it won't be a fun week to be a member of the College Football Playoff selection committee.

 

The Playoff Dark Horse

We have a good idea of what teams will comprise the Top Four as a result of the game between Alabama and Mississippi State. But which team is a dark-horse candidate to squeeze into the College Football Playoff in the near future?

Keep an eye on Arizona State in Week 12. The Sun Devils face off against Oregon State.

A huge victory over Notre Dame in Week 11 quickly saw Arizona State leap up the standings to No. 6 overall. SportsCenter tweeted the contest's final score:

This team is clearly in the favor of the selection committee right now, and a few more big wins could propel the Sun Devils into the playoffs.

It hasn't been an easy road for Arizona State this year. It has already faced five ranked opponents, earning a record of 4-1 in those games. Oregon State is riding a four-game losing skid; however, it has been rather unpredictable against better teams this season, taking Utah to two overtimes in October.

Should Arizona State earn a decisive road victory in Week 12, it will be on the cusp of the playoffs. After all, the loser of Alabama and Mississippi State is likely to fall below the Sun Devils in the standings, moving Arizona State up to No. 5 overall—just one spot away.

Sure, the Sun Devils will need a bit of help to move into the Top Four, but aside from Florida State, each team ranked above them still has yet to face another ranked opponent before the regular season comes to a close.

Don't look now, but Arizona State could be playoff bound.

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Bowl Projections 2014: Last-Minute Playoff Predictions Before Week 12

If Week 11 was separation Saturday with six games featuring clashes between ranked teams, Week 12 is a tale of survive and advance.

A number of the nation’s top teams hit the road on Saturday for tricky contests in front of hostile crowds. If any of the home underdogs can pull the upset, it could drastically alter the College Football Playoff picture as the conference championship games quickly approach.

Florida State is at Miami, TCU is at Kansas, Arizona State is at Oregon State, Ohio State is at Minnesota, Auburn is at Georgia, Michigan State is at Maryland, Nebraska is at Wisconsin and LSU is at Arkansas. Every one of those road teams is ranked in the top 17 of the College Football Playoff rankings.

Of course, there is also the marquee showdown between No. 1 Mississippi State and No. 5 Alabama that takes place in Tuscaloosa.

There is plenty at stake in a critical Week 12, and the new batch of rankings will likely look completely different on Tuesday as a result. 

With that in mind, here is a look at the updated bowl predictions before the Week 12 slate kicks off.

 

Bowl Predictions

Sugar Bowl: No. 1 Florida State vs. No. 4 Baylor

Rose Bowl: No. 3 Oregon vs. No. 2 Alabama 

Championship Bowl (in Arlington, Texas): TBD (Semifinal Winners) 

 

Breakdown

Even though undefeated Florida State fell from No. 2 to No. 3 in the latest rankings, the defending champions are making the playoff field if and when it wins out.

The Seminoles have a stiff test against underrated running back Duke Johnson and the Miami Hurricanes on Saturday night, but if they get past that, they will easily handle Boston College and Florida at home before the ACC championship game against (possibly) Duke.

The Blue Devils are an impressive 8-1, but they lost to Miami by two scores, and four of those wins came against the likes of Elon, Troy, Kansas, Tulane. That’s not exactly murderer’s row. 

Remember, the Seminoles crushed Duke in last year’s ACC title game and would do it again this time around.

Alabama is also going to win out with its remaining three games all at home before the SEC title contest. College GameDay didn’t exactly paint a pretty picture for those hoping Mississippi State knocks off the Crimson Tide in Week 12:

A loss to Alabama would cripple the Bulldogs’ playoff chances because they still have to travel to Ole Miss and would miss out on the SEC title game. The selection committee is going to put extra emphasis on conference championships at the end of the year, and the Bulldogs wouldn’t even have a division title on their resume.

The nonconference schedule won’t do them any favors either if they are on the bubble, via Jake Trotter of ESPN:

Elsewhere, Oregon moved ahead of undefeated Florida State in the most recent rankings, even with a loss, and controls its own destiny for the playoffs.

Yes, the win over Michigan State lost a bit of luster when Ohio State walked into East Lansing and made the Spartans defense look like a junior-varsity squad, but the Ducks still have conference wins over UCLA, Utah and Stanford and will likely get a crack at Arizona State in the Pac-12 title game.

Whoever wins that is certainly going to be in the field of four, as Arizona State coach Todd Graham insinuated, via Antonio Gonzalez of The Associated Press:

I do think there's a lot of anticipation about the playoff. I think there's a lot of excitement. I can sense that from the players. I can't imagine winning the conference championship, the Pac-12 champion not being in the four-team playoff. But you got to win. Our focus and anyone who plays in the Pac-12 is to win the Pac-12 championship. We got a shot to do that.

Oregon and potential Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota will exploit a Sun Devils defense that allowed 62 to UCLA earlier in the year and clinch a postseason spot.

In early bowl projections, I pegged TCU as the fourth playoff team, but these revised predictions believe that Baylor’s head-to-head victory from earlier in the season over the Horned Frogs will carry more weight later in the year.

What’s more, TCU’s nonconference win over Minnesota will lose virtually all of its value when the Golden Gophers drop games against Ohio State, Nebraska and Wisconsin to finish the season. 

Baylor and the nation’s No. 1 scoring offense gets three home games against Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and Kansas State to finish the season. The Bears will win out and leapfrog the Horned Frogs by season’s end as the fourth and final playoff squad.

 

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South Carolina vs. Florida: Live Score and Highlights

Steve Spurrier will return to Gainesville for the fifth time as an opposing head coach when South Carolina travels to Florida to take on the Gators. The game will kickoff at noon EST and it will be televised on the SEC Network.

The Gamecocks come into this game looking to snap a two-game losing skid. They fell short against Auburn and lost to Tennessee in overtime. One of the reasons for the struggles of Spurrier’s group is they are last in the conference in scoring and rushing defense.

And they are facing a Florida team that has found its offense. After a 38-20 win against Georgia and a 34-10 performance against Vanderbilt, the Gators have an outside shot of winning the SEC East, but they would need Georgia to lose against Auburn and Missouri to lose its last three games.

Be sure to come back to this blog when the game kicks off for the latest scoring updates and highlights.

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It's on Jimbo Fisher to Shake Up Florida State Get-Away-with-It Football Culture

Jimbo Fisher was on the sidelines in Gainesville last Nov. 30 when his hot-headed quarterback came bouncing over following an unplanned timeout. Jameis Winston started jawing at Fisher about whose fault it was. The Florida State coach grabbed Winston by the facemask and reminded him quickly who was in charge.

Fisher needs to grab the collective facemask of his football team and remind the players who is in charge so they quit with this stuff.

It's just a culture down there in Tallahassee, right? Crash a car; leave it in the middle of the street. Steal a scooter. Steal crab legs. Destroy private property. Do what you want.

The latest issue, as reported Friday by the New York Times, is that star defensive back P.J. Williams made an illegal turn, ran into another car and then left the scene of the accident. He was driving with a suspended license and had unpaid fines to boot.

This was after receiver Bobo Wilson stole a scooter. This was after Jameis Winston shouted vulgarities in the middle of campus and after Winston seemingly shoplifted crab legs. This was after FSU players were questioned over destruction of private property.

I read the Yahoo! account of Winston's father trying like heck to get on the field after the Louisville game when he didn't have a proper pass. I wasn't surprised. The thinking for an FSU connection seems to be: The rules apply to you and you, but not to me, surely not to me who is affiliated with FSU football.

I know, these players all have family, and the parents should be stomping into town to deal with their kids' mischief and pay their fines, etc. Kids make mistakes, but maybe Fisher, the parent proxy, needs to attend a seminar led by Georgia coach Mark Richt or Texas coach Charlie Strong on how to deal discipline when mistakes pile up. Maybe Fisher really doesn't think it is his job to police these guys off the field. Maybe he doesn't even think there is a problem.

There is a problem. Maybe it's Fisher's leniency. Wilson committed a felony and was suspended one game. Williams fled the scene of a car crash Oct. 5 and played the next week against Syracuse. He was written two tickets and maybe that was good enough for Fisher.

I bet you Fisher talks to his team—maybe begs them—to behave and represent the school in a positive manner. I bet he does.

The message isn't being heard.

Here is the deal. If football players make trouble the head coach should have something to say about it until he is heard.

Richt, the Georgia coach, would have had something to say to P.J. Williams about making an illegal turn, driving with a suspended license, walking away from a wreck.

Here is what Richt would say: "You're not playing in the next game." Williams played the next game after the car crash, so we assume Fisher said nothing.

Richt and Strong would also be finding out why one of their players was piling up fines for speeding. They would have something to say about that. They would have something to say about an accident where two vehicles were totaled.

Richt would have found out who was popping windows with BB guns and ordered some punishment. I guarantee it. He wouldn't have sent his fixer to the apartment complex.

Fisher stepped up when receiver Wilson was arrested and charged with stealing a scooter. It is a felony. Wilson was suspended for one game. The coach acted. He has to act more forcefully it seems. Winston was suspended for a game shouting a vulgarity on campus and then pranced out in his uniform for the Clemson game. Fisher had to tell him to get back in the locker room.

Fisher knows what's right and what's wrong, but his players just do whatever.

You just wonder about the sports world sometimes. Jets coach Rex Ryan gets fined $100,000 for an F-bomb he threw after the Jets-Steelers game. A college football player is destructive while driving on a suspended license and plays the next game.

Jimbo needs to be a better sheriff, not just a great football coach and great recruiter. Florida State is cruising toward another national championship and the Seminoles will be belittled everywhere outside Tallahassee because of this trouble.

Florida State's fans, of course, will bash the messenger. Happens everywhere they say. Kids will be kids. What's a hit-and-run with no serious injuries? By itself, maybe not a lot. But when the mischief keeps happening, you wonder what kind of culture there is at FSU.

You wonder if Jimbo Fisher needs to yank on some more facemasks.

 

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

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College Football Rankings 2014: Updated Playoff Predictions for Week 12

This is the week that everyone associated with college football has been waiting for. The College Football Playoff rankings have provided a platform to discuss everything, but Week 12 is when the grainy picture comes into focus. 

Of course, just because it appears things will be in order, this is college football. This selection committee already changed the way things go. It doesn't appear to have one set of criteria for ranking teams, which is good and bad. 

It's good because no team can rest on its laurels after a win. It's bad because making up rules on the fly can result in ignoring the evidence that has been presented each week and what the results say about a team's performance. 

Whatever rationale the committee has for doing what it does, here are predictions for the CFP rankings and a look at the current standings. 

 

College Football Playoff Predictions

Note: Predictions are for what the final four will be at season's end. 

As evidenced by the top four, there will be a lot of turnover in the standings by the time we get to the official announcement on December 7. The biggest change is Florida State falling out of the top four, though, admittedly, it's not likely to happen this week. 

The Seminoles are playing a Miami team that hasn't looked good virtually all year, save for one performance against Duke. Don't be so quick to dismiss the Hurricanes in this spot. They are playing at home in prime time with an underrated defense that can give Jameis Winston fits. 

According to Football Outsiders' metrics, Miami's defense ranks 15th nationally in defensive efficiency and fourth in big play prevention (IsoPPP). 

Winston has had problems with his accuracy this season, especially early in games. In Florida State's comeback win against Louisville, the defending Heisman winner threw two of his three interceptions in consecutive drives during the second quarter.

Matt Fortuna of ESPN.com cited Miami's improved running game with Duke Johnson against a decent Florida State run defense as a key factor if an upset is going to happen:

The junior has been on absolute tear lately, eclipsing the 100-yard mark in each of his last five games. Johnson's rushing average during this stretch? That would be 168.6 yards per game. Taken one step further, his rushing average over the last three games is 196 yards per game. Florida State has been OK stopping the run, ranking 35th nationally. 

The Seminoles have been flirting with disaster all season, so an upset seems likely to come before season's end. Whether it's this week against Miami, at the end of the year against Florida or in the ACC Championship Game is another story. 

As for the four teams featured in these predictions, it's not a complex path for each of them to get in. Alabama is going to get a huge boost into the top four, presumably all the way up to No. 1, with a win against Mississippi State on Saturday. 

A win for the Bulldogs in this spot would end a 57-year streak in which an SEC West school has failed to win at LSU and Alabama in the same year, per Andy Johnston of The Atlanta Journal Constitution.

Doing so will require the Bulldogs to overcome the country's No. 2 scoring defense. Dak Prescott has done great things this season, but the star quarterback has thrown five of his seven interceptions in his last three SEC games. 

As Coy Wire of FoxSports.com wrote, Prescott has to play his best game of the season to secure a victory for Mississippi State because of a much-improved 'Bama defense:

In 2013, Alabama's defense had only 22 sacks in 13 games and allowed 3.3 yards per rush. In 2014, through nine games, the defense already has racked up more sacks (23) than last season and is ranked fifth in the nation allowing only 2.8 yards per rush.

...

Prescott has been at his best this season when he’s hit back-shoulder fades and back-shoulder stop routes against press coverage, so look for him to attempt those types of passes often. But remember, Prescott has struggled lately to connect on those throws with the accuracy he showed earlier in the season.

So assuming a loss here for the Bulldogs, they will fall in the rankings but still have time to make up for it with a game against Mississippi to end the season. 

Oregon has the easiest remaining path to get in the College Football Playoff. The Ducks have already moved up to the No. 2 spot, a position they will occupy the rest of this season with two easy wins against Colorado and Oregon State to end the regular season. 

The Pac-12 title game is fascinating right now because Arizona State would be Oregon's opponent. The two teams aren't playing in the regular season. The Sun Devils jumped up to No. 6 by virtue of their win over Notre Dame, though that also highlighted flaws with the team. 

Arizona State and Oregon aren't good defensive teams, ranking 50th and 51st overall in scoring defense, respectively, but the Ducks average nearly 10 more points per game and wouldn't have let a 34-3 lead against the Fighting Irish shrink to three points. 

TCU will likely draw the biggest complaints from fans because of its loss against Baylor and what some could call a lucky win over West Virginia. It's clear the committee likes the Horned Frogs, who end the season against Kansas, Texas and Iowa State. 

Gary Patterson's team doesn't have to worry about a conference title game, so three wins against three teams with a combined 10-18 record will push TCU to 11-1 with quality wins over West Virginia and Kansas State in consecutive weeks. 

One hiccup throws the whole system out of whack, but Alabama, Oregon, TCU and Mississippi State are the four best bets to be in the College Football Playoff based on the current standings and the remaining schedules for each. 

 

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Jonathon Cooper Commits to Ohio State: What 4-Star DE Brings to Buckeyes

Ohio State acquired a foundational member for its 2016 recruiting class Friday when in-state standout Jonathon Cooper publicly shared his pledge to the Buckeyes. He initially committed to the team in October but waited to share his decision, per Steve Wiltfong of 247Sports.

The 6'3", 215-pound Columbus area product is considered a 4-star defender and could ultimately fill multiple roles in college. He is projected to play weak-side defense end and rates 13th nationally among prospects at the position in 247Sports' composite 2016 rankings.

Cooper received a scholarship offer from head coach Urban Meyer this summer while attending camp. The longtime Buckeyes fan fulfilled a lifetime dream by accepting it.  

"What made Ohio State right for me that it's right here at home, I grew up an Ohio State fan, the coaches are great, I found a connection and I feel I have a good relationship with the people," he told Wiltfong. 

Cooper holds offers from an array of college programs, including Notre Dame, Kentucky and Michigan State. He visited the Fighting Irish earlier this season but ultimately decided to stay home. 

The Lincoln High School junior is a scheme-diverse playmaker who already possesses impressive physical tools and carries quite a reputation as a pass-rusher. Cooper has collected 11.5 sacks through 10 games this season, per MaxPreps.

He's hardly a one-dimensional defender, contributing mightily against the run along the perimeter and inside. Among his 80 total tackles, 46 are solo and 11 have occurred behind the line of scrimmage.

Cooper exhibits an explosive blend of lateral quickness and downfield power that should continue to develop through physical maturation. He already does an admirable job of maintaining technique and doesn't allow himself to lose track of what's happening in the offensive backfield.

Ohio State now holds four commitments, including three 4-star recruits, in its 2016 class. Each pledge is an in-state prospect.

 

Recruit ratings courtesy of 247Sports.

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