NCAA Football News

Clemson vs. Wake Forest: Live Score and Analysis

The No. 21 Clemson Tigers (6-2) are looking to avoid the upset tonight, as they take a trip to sleepy Winston-Salem to take on the Wake Forest Demon Deacons (2-6). 

Dabo Swinney's team will be looking to win its sixth straight contest. Clemson has to win out if there's any chance of playing in the ACC Championship Game. Of course, Florida State would have to lose multiple games for this scenario to unfold. 

Wake Forest is looking to win its first game since late in September. Simply put, it's been a tough year for Dave Clawson's team. If Wake has any shot at winning the game tonight, it will have to play well against Clemson's vaunted defensive front. 

The game will begin at 7:30 p.m. ET. It can be seen on ESPN. 

Odds Shark has Clemson as a 21-point favorite. A full box score can be found here, courtesy of NCAA.com. 

 

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Notre Dame Football: How Would Irish Fare in SEC in 2014?

"Yeah, but they'd finish no better than fifth in the SEC."

Versions of the above statement frequently pop up on Twitter and in online message boards, usually by critics who scoff at the success and attention that schools outside the SEC get instead of a team from college football's top conference. It's mostly hyperbole, since actually being able to quantify such claims would prove almost impossible.

Challenge accepted.

Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly's jab at teams ranked above the Fighting Irish in the College Football Playoff Top 25 play schedules that include what he called "glorified byes"—a thinly veiled jab at SEC schools that frequently line up FCS or low-level FBS teams in November—provides the perfect opportunity to discuss how Notre Dame would fare playing a similar slate.

In other words, how would the Irish do if they were in the SEC?

Ask those down south and you'll get a very firm answer, and it won't be pretty. The opposite goes for Notre Dame's many supporters, who no doubt feel no less than a conference title is the likely outcome. This, despite the fact that Notre Dame's limited recent history against the SEC is...well, let's just say it's not a subject that gets discussed much at Irish fan club gatherings.

That infamous 42-14 loss to Alabama in the 2013 BCS National Championship Game is the last time Notre Dame played an SEC opponent. Before that was in 2007, when the Irish were clubbed 41-14 by LSU in the Sugar Bowl.

The lack of commonality between Notre Dame and the SEC makes direct comparison difficult, as the only common opponent this year was Rice. Both the Irish and Texas A&M handily beat the Owls, but that was early in the season before the defending Conference USA champions righted the ship and are now on a five-game winning streak.

Because of this, most comparisons are hypothetical and based on assumptions, which depending on the source can be biased. Chris Alderson of FootballNation.com took a stab at figuring out how Notre Dame would do if they were in the SEC West, the best division in the country:

"I feel Notre Dame would go 4-4 or 5-3 at best if they played in the SEC West this season. I feel this is a combination of an over ranked team in Notre Dame, but more importantly how dominant the SEC West is this season."

That's an ambitious prediction, though it doesn't factor in which crossover teams the Irish would face from the East. Being on that side of the conference might prove to be far easier, based on how this season has gone for the East's teams and the fact that division is currently led by a school (Missouri) that lost at home to Indiana.

Indiana is 0-4 in the Big Ten, a conference that Notre Dame has gone 2-0 against this season, including a shutout of a Michigan team that just blew out Indiana. A perfect example of the transitive property in action.

Looking at how Notre Dame has performed this season against a schedule that computer ratings guru Jeff Sagarin ranks 49th (NOTE: Sagarin rates every SEC team's schedule as 46th or better), the results don't look like the kind that would translate into success down south. A pair of 16-point neutral-site wins over Purdue and Syracuse, both of whom are 3-6, aren't anything to write home about. Nor is a victory at home against 4-5 North Carolina, a game in which Notre Dame gave up 43 points.

There's been one true road game for the Irish, one pure hostile environment, which also happened to be their only loss. Yet the 31-27 defeat at Florida State stands as their best result because of the atmosphere, the overall effort and the style points they gained for hanging in there with the defending national champs.

"Notre Dame now joins the ever-growing ranks of elite but once-beaten teams, but it may have seen its stature grow by taking FSU down to the wire, on the road," wrote Bleacher Report's Tom Weir.

In that respect, Notre Dame compares favorably to Ole Miss, who despite losing for the first time at LSU found itself in the initial CFP's final four, then after losing in heartbreaking fashion the following week at home to Auburn is still ranked higher than several one-loss teams (and just behind the Irish).

Maybe that means the Irish would do better against tougher competition, that to this point it has played up or down to the opponent's level. Presumably, this would translate to better efforts against SEC foes, but that's as much of an assumption as anything else.

Unless Notre Dame gets paired up with an SEC team in the postseason this year, the next chance to accurately compare it to that conference will be in 2017 when it hosts Georgia. It might be easier to gauge how the Irish would finish in the ACC, thanks to its long-term scheduling agreement with that conference.

Simple answer on that: Notre Dame would essentially be the Duke of the ACC, maybe the Clemson. In other words, good enough to lose to Florida State.

 

Follow Brian J. Pedersen on Twitter at @realBJP.

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Does Convincing Win over Arizona State Put Notre Dame in Position to Crack CFP?

Notre Dame fans have been feeling slighted by the College Football Playoff committee because of their low ranking despite narrowly losing to the defending national champion Florida State Seminoles. 

Bleacher Report College Football Analysts Adam Kramer and Michael Felder discuss whether a win against Arizona State is enough to propel the Irish into the CFP top four.

Do you think Notre Dame will make the College Football Playoff?

Watch the video and let us know!

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Auburn Football: Tigers Must Get Their Defensive Edge Back vs. Texas A&M

AUBURN, Ala. — Calling Auburn's 38-23 loss to Mississippi State last month a turning point for the 2014 season is definitely an understatement.

The Tigers were plagued by offensive inconsistency and another slow start away from home while their defense had few answers for the Bulldogs' star-studded attack.

Since that loss and an important bye week, the Auburn offense has responded with back-to-back victories featuring more than 500 total yards apiece.

However, the Auburn defense has gone through the wrong kind of turnaround, as it allowed more yards in the South Carolina and Ole Miss games than in any other previous matchup:

The issues have mostly been in the passing game, where opposing quarterbacks have been able to rely on short- to intermediate-range passes to move the ball effectively.

"We’ve got to do a better job with our zones and passing things off and everything that goes with that," Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn said Wednesday night. "It all works together on defense, but that’s an area we need to improve on. Our coaches understand that and our players understand that. I’m confident we will."

With Georgia and Alabama coming up, Auburn's defense will have a chance to get its edge back against a Texas A&M offense that, despite its struggles, is exactly the challenge the Tigers need.

"We are playing a team that was ranked in the Top 10 about a month ago," Malzahn said. "They are unbelievable on both sides of the football. Offensively, they have experience up front, they have big, fast receivers, very good running backs and a talented young quarterback."

Although the Aggies went with a more vanilla offense with first-time starter Kyle Allen at quarterback last Saturday, they still lead the SEC in pass attempts, completions, yards and touchdowns with head coach Kevin Sumlin's offensive scheme.

As the last two weeks have shown, the Tigers have a lot of work to do in tightening up the secondary.

Auburn faced 53 pass attempts from South Carolina's Dylan Thompson two weeks ago, which was the most an opponent has thrown against the Tigers since Washington State's Connor Halliday threw the ball 63 times in the 2013 season opener.

South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier's no-punt strategy also put extra pressure on an Auburn pass defense that had improved significantly from its 2013 numbers but started to show cracks again.

"We had a lot of miscommunication," defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson said after the South Carolina game. "We’ve had some of that this year but not nearly to that degree. It was more like they reverted back to where they weren’t sure about some of their adjustments."

Johnson said the Tigers cut down their mistakes in his four key areas of defensive play—penalties, missed assignments, missed tackles and finishing plays—from the South Carolina game to the Ole Miss game, but the mistakes were magnified.

"When we missed a tackle, it was a big, glaring missed tackle," Johnson said.

Ole Miss took advantage of that poor tackling in space with its playmakers on the outside.

A team like Texas A&M is built to capitalize on those same mistakes, and the Tigers could be in for a frustrating afternoon at Jordan-Hare Stadium if they don't improve in that area.

"We know we need to do better moving on this season," junior linebacker Kris Frost said. "[Ole Miss] had some big-time playmakers, as do all the teams we play each and every week, but they definitely did a great job of getting out in space and making moves on us. We missed a few tackles that were unacceptable, but it's basically all about getting back to the basics and really focusing on what we have to do to improve."

Auburn's play against the run has continued to be its defensive strong suit, and the defensive line showed improvement in the pass rush in the road win over Ole Miss with a season-high four sacks.

But sure tackling and good communication in the secondary were the keys to Auburn's early-season success on defense.

If the Tigers don't reclaim those advantages and take care of business this Saturday, the Aggies could give them a scare—no matter how much the offense is struggling without Kenny Hill.

"We never go into a game with the mindset that we can relax," Frost said. "If anything, it puts us on higher guard against the team we're playing, like a team like South Carolina that has nothing to lose. ... We're going to go into this game with the same attitude we go into every game, which is try to get better and try to do everything we can to dominate from the start."

 

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

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

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The 5 Most Telling Stats for BYU This Season

On the heels of a season-saving win at Middle Tennessee, BYU has a bye week before its final three games. But with most of the season already finished, now is a good time to look back on the first nine games.

Numbers never tell the whole story, but a lot can be learned from this season's statistics. There's no way to describe a convincing four-game winning streak and subsequent losing skid with numbers, but there are several stats that tell a lot about the season.

So, what are the Cougars' five most telling stats? Here they are.

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