NCAA Football News

What Went Wrong for Will Muschamp at Florida?

Will Muschamp is likely, probably—OK, almost definitely—going to get fired. When they lower the boom on the coach nicknamed Boom, the legacy of the Head Bawl Coach will not be his sideline rants. It will be the offense he neglected, the offense he didn't know how to fix, the offense where he didn't develop a quarterback.

This has been some shipwreck.     

Consider one thing as athletic director Jeremy Foley pulls UF off the rocks the next few months.

Nick Saban has had four offensive coordinators at Alabama. Muschamp has had three. That's a lot of turnover in the play-calling, but Saban managed the changeover. Yeah, sure, I get that Saban is a veteran coach and a better head coach than his protege.

But Saban was the head coach for the entire team, not just one third of it, the defense. He coaches the DBs, just like Muschamp, but whenever you see a picture of offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin calling plays, who has that get-off-my-lawn stare standing in the same picture frame as Kiffin? It's Saban.

"Nick Saban is a head coach with a defensive background, but he also has had a philosophy for what he wants his offense to look like regardless of who is calling plays," said Phil Savage, the color analyst for Alabama radio and CEO of the Senior Bowl. "In eight years, he's had four coordinators, but he has never allowed one to come in like a vacuum cleaner salesman and wire up the entire house with outlets and hoses in every room, so that when they left, the whole thing has to be torn out and a new system installed."

 

Revolving door

Muschamp's first season was with Charlie Weis as play-caller and the Gators were going to win with a pro-style offense. Weis left to coach Kansas. That was Muschamp's fault for hiring a guy with too much ambition and not getting an OC he could team-build with. UF was going to pay Weis $2.6 million over three years. He was gone after one.

Then came Brent Pease, the maestro of the Boise State offense. I remember Boise's offense and it was a collection of plays, it seemed like, not a rigid scheme of offense. It was very multiple and it worked in Idaho, but not in Florida. The Broncos also had a poised veteran quarterback, Kellen Moore, who completed 74 percent of his passes in 2011. The Gators had nothing like Moore.

Pease stuck for two years. In 2012, the Florida defense (fifth nationally in yards alowed) was the lynchpin to an 11-2 season, while the offense was satisfactory. The best thing about it was it did not turn the ball over. The whole operation looked like Alabama. More on that in a moment.

Injuries wrecked the Gators in 2013 and they finished 4-8. Pease was gone.

In came Duke's Kurt Roper. I look at the UF offense and it has a little Gus Malzahn in it. Motion, spread the defense out, and then double-teams at the point of attack. But the Gators still have problems at quarterback. Jeff Driskel cannot break the habit of short, safe passes. He does not see down field.

With all the quarterback transfers, it is startling that Florida could not recruit one of those veteran QBs moving around the country. Instead, they had one of their former quarterbacks, Jacoby Brissett, almost taking down Florida State in a North Carolina State uniform.

In this day and age of offensive football, Florida has been left behind. The Gators had no set philosophy. They went from pro to multiple to spread.

We all know Saban has a Process. Well, he stuck with it, even as he was changing parts in the coaches meeting room from Major Applewhite to Jim McElwain to Doug Nussmeier to Kiffin.

"Nick says, 'This is how we win around here, and we want your ideas and for you to put your flavor on things, but these are the parameters philosophy-wise,' " Savage said.

Here is a small example. Every single practice, Alabama does ball-security drills. Saban is a maniac about it. He makes sure it gets done, according to his players.

Florida committed six turnovers against Missouri in a 42-13 loss. I'm sure the Gators practice ball security, but to how much detail?

The Gators are 3-3 and turn the ball over. Florida is 110th in yards per play in FBS, which doesn't always take into account the quality of opponent, but you get the point. The unit is in disarray. 

 

Starts at the top

Offensive coordinators move around more than defensive coordinators. Athletic directors hire OCs more as head coaches. Head coaches in trouble steal OCs away to fix what's broken.

Look at the SEC. Arkansas, Auburn, Georgia, LSU, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Missouri, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas A&M have head coaches who tilt to offense. That's 10 of 14.

That Mike Bobo is still the offensive coordinator at Georgia after 14 years says as much about the decency of head coach Mark Richt as Bobo's skill at running the offense. Richt was an offensive coach at Florida State, by the way. Mostly, OCs leave, but the good head coach stays and keeps a hand on the offensive rudder, like Saban.

That Florida hired a rookie head coach in the SEC was a mistake. That is the 20-20 hindsight view, of course. Everyone said Muschamp was a great hire. He wasn't, and Foley won't make the mistake again. He will get a veteran coach, who will be an offensive coach, and give them Muschamp's $3 million, probably more.

Dan Mullen's name keeps popping up, but there is an under-current at Florida. People didn't like him. What's more, Scott Stricklin, the athletic director at Mississippi State, is a hustler. I bet he is gathering cash from around his state to keep Mullen where he is in Starkville.

The other thing to consider is that Mississippi State has the look of a unique team. Veteran quarterback, a lot of fifth-year seniors. This kind of team comes along rarely. Can Mullen use his system of red-shirting at a school like Florida, where 5-star recruits have one eye on the NFL and want to leave after just three years? I don't think so.

I would say Colorado State's McElwain would be a slam dunk for the Gators, but the Denver Post's Terry Frei reports the buyout of McElwain's freshly-signed contract is $7.5 million. That's a rich separation, even for Florida.

The Wheel of Fortune spins quickly in college football and it is spinning and about to spit out a decent fellow, Muschamp. He was a walk-on at Georgia, a guy who was told he would never play football again after a horrific leg injury. Muschamp became a star for the Bulldogs. He screams on the sideline and it's a little much, but he is going to be somebody's ace defensive coordinator. This is a good guy getting dumped on by media like me and by fans, but this is the culture of the game he bought into.

Muschamp came within one yard of coaching in the national championship game less than two years ago. Southern Cal couldn't score from the Notre Dame 1-yard line in 2012, and the Irish played Alabama for the title. Florida was right there as No. 2 ready to get in the big game. One yard away.

That about sums up the Gators. One yard has been hard to come by.

 

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).

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Florida State's Character on Full Display with Winston, Fisher's Actions

On 4th-and-goal from the 2-yard line and less than 20 seconds left in Saturday night's game, Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson threw a short pass to wide receiver Corey Robinson for what initially looked like a go-ahead touchdown.  However, pass interference was called on the offense, negating the touchdown and pushing the Irish back 15 yards.

Golson could not find an open receiver on the last play of the game, Florida State escaped with a narrow victory—its 23rd in a row—and Seminoles quarterback Jameis Winston is now being praised like he's some kind of superhero.  Nearly every single sports analyst around the country is commending the team on its supposed stellar, come-from-behind performance.

This is just another example of the college football world jumping on the bandwagon of a player and team, but this time, it doesn't make any sense.

First, it was an inconsistent pass interference call.  Was there some contact at the line of scrimmage?  Definitely.  Were the receivers more intent on getting in the way of the defenders than continuing on their routes?  Absolutely.  In the official rulebook, what Notre Dame did may technically be a penalty, but that type of play never gets flagged. 

Every team in America runs crossing patterns—"rub routes"—against man coverage in hopes that it will clear space for a receiver.  Notre Dame did it several times throughout the game, as did Florida State, and it wasn't called.  The play in general is not illegal; it's simply a strategic way for the offense to create space for its playmakers, and it never gets called.

The fact that it was called in this situation is unfair.  If it's not going to be deemed illegal in the middle of the game with the ball around midfield, it definitely should not be called with the game on the line in the waning seconds of the game.

Next, the outpouring of praise for Florida State is surprising, especially since it was a nine-point favorite coming into the game, according to CBSSports.com.  The Seminoles got outplayed the entire first half and then needed a controversial pass interference call to bail them out.  Their performance on Saturday night did not warrant all of the praise.  

However, what was even more shocking was head coach Jimbo Fisher's postgame interview.  While talking to ESPN's Tom Rinaldi, the way Fisher described his team was slightly ironic. 

"The heart and discipline in that room," Fisher said.  "There's character, there's heart, there's a team full of great kids.  It's a high-character program that's run the right way on class, on dignity, in the classroom, on the field and off the field, and this team shows it."

Using "character" and "class" in the same sentence in regard to Florida State's program is a complete joke, and it makes the school—and Fisher—look slightly foolish.  The leader of the off-field shenanigans is Winston, ostensibly the leader of the squad, which makes these remarks somewhat hypocritical.

His list of off-field transgressions is nearly limitless and include shoplifting from a supermarket, yelling obscene profanities on top of a table on school grounds and allegedly raping a woman.  To be fair, the Feds are still investigating, and he is still in the process of attempting to rid himself of that bad publicity.

And then there are the questionable autographs. ESPN.com's Darren Rovell reported on Thursday that over 2,000 authenticated Winston signatures were found online.  In the wake of Georgia running back Todd Gurley's suspension for allegedly accepting compensation for signing autographs, this is a big deal. 

It seems like this would be a tough infraction to prove because it's very hard to accurately determine whether Winston signed these items for money or signed something for a fan who is attempting to resell it.  But Matt Powers, owner of Powers Collectibles and a specialist in the business, feels sure that Winston is guilty.

"No one who is not a dealer is going to submit that many autographs at one time," Powers said.  "But besides the number, the giveaway of the JSA authenticated items that you can see on eBay, that suggests it was a sit-down signing, as the consistency of autograph, the cleanliness of the autograph and the fact that the autograph is signed in the same place over and over."

Powers goes on to say that after examining the memorabilia signed by Winston, he could tell that he was completely focused when he was signing because of the consistency of the autographs.  He says that when athletes are signing in public for fans, they tend to scribble their signature.  Whether or not the NCAA will make Winston pay for his infractions is yet to be determined, but I think it's safe to take the word of a professional.

There is a chance that Winston did indeed receive compensation for his autographs, but even if he didn't, the wave of uncertainty that follows Winston is palpable.  There was no proof that Gurley was guilty, either, but he was suspended anyway.

Which is why I cannot fathom why the college football world is so dramatically in love with last year's Heisman Trophy winner.  It seems like ESPN would want a well-rounded person to be its cover boy—someone who truly has character, not someone with questionable judgment like Winston.

Florida State should have lost the game against Notre Dame, but it was bailed out by an inconsistent call.  Winston has not been good enough this year to warrant all of the accolades he is getting, and it is hard to see him—as well as his school—getting such publicity. 

If the Seminoles manage to get a few more calls and make their way into the inaugural College Football Playoff, it will be very unfortunate.  They basically have to go undefeated to be a part of the Playoff due to their cupcake conference schedule, and the Notre Dame game would have been the loss that exiled them from contention.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

SEC Football Q&A: Who's the Better QB, Blake Sims or Nick Marshall?

It seems like only yesterday when votes were cast in Hoover, Alabama, for the predicted order of finish in the SEC, but here we are with just over a month left in the season.

Time flies when you're having fun, and the SEC West has been having a lot of fun so far in 2014. Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Alabama and Auburn all find themselves among the top of the Associated Press Top 25, with College Football Playoff berths in their sights.

In College Station, however, things have gone south. The Texas A&M Aggies have lost three straight and were just shut out 59-0 by Alabama, marking the first time in head coach Kevin Sumlin's head coaching career that he has been shut out.

How do the quarterbacks in the state of Alabama match up? What's wrong with the Aggies? Can Georgia make some noise?

Those questions are answered in this week's SEC Q&A.

 

Both are incredibly underrated, but give me Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall over Alabama's Blake Sims simply because Marshall has done it longer.

Since the two systems are vastly different, there's really no way to compare the two statistically. Of course Marshall will have more success on the ground and of course Sims will have a higher passer rating. Who will have the longer career in the NFL is a non-factor for me as well, because that's not what we're discussing here.

I've seen Marshall succeed as a college quarterback on every single stage he's been on. He's led his team to an SEC title, accounted for three touchdowns in the national title game and made clutch throw after clutch throw in tight spots throughout his career, including a 39-yarder to Duke Williams on 3rd-and-9 vs. Kansas State to win a big game on the road.

Sims doesn't have anything close to that on his resume.

Sure, he has some big games against lesser competition like Florida and Texas A&M, but didn't make the big throws in a 14-13 win over Arkansas and was picked off in the end zone late by Ole Miss on what would likely have been the game-winning touchdown. That pick wasn't his fault. He dropped it in the bucket for O.J. Howard, who had it bounce off his hands. It didn't happen though, and that's the one trump card Marshall has over him.

I'd still take them both on my team, though. Each runs his respective offense very well, and have each school in the state of Alabama in the thick of the College Football Playoff hunt.

 

As you see in the video above, benching quarterback Kenny Hill in favor of Kyle Allen isn't it.

A good start would be on defense, where the Aggies have been the punch line to a really bad joke for going on two years now. Defensive coordinator Mark Snyder's crew is poorly-coached, lacks fundamentals and, at this point, the preparation of the defense has to be questioned as well.

This tweet last season after A&M's loss to Auburn has stuck in my mind for the last year:

The quick huddle was absolutely not something new for Auburn for that game, and has been a staple of Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn's offense since he became a college assistant in 2006.

The preparation hasn't looked better since and, fundamentally, they're still all over the place. Either simplify the defense or move on, but it's clear that something needs to be done.

Offensively, it seems like head coach Kevin Sumlin and offensive coordinator Jake Spavital maybe fell in love with Hill's press-clippings early in the season, and tried to turn him into somebody he isn't. When you have a stable of running backs like the Aggies have, you use them. So far this season, they've run only 249 running plays and 359 passing plays. 

Even if you're striving for balance, that number is way too skewed. Sixty passes in a win over South Carolina is great but probably unnecessary. Forty-two in the blowout of Lamar seems a bit extreme and 37 against SMU is probably 36 too many.

Get back to the ground game, wear down opposing defenses and get Hill more involved as a true dual-threat quarterback. That's how he can live up to his "Kenny Trill" billing.

 

Yes, because that definition changes based on the specific team.

Is Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall? Oregon quarterback Darron Thomas? LSU quarterback—gasp—Jordan Jefferson?

All of those players started in the BCS National Championships Game, so why can't Georgia quarterback Hutson Mason be a playoff-caliber quarterback? He's been a solid game manger in trying times without running back Todd Gurley over the last two weeks, tossing three touchdowns and no picks in two straight road wins. 

He has a running back in freshman Nick Chubb who he trusts, the possibility of getting Gurley—the best player in college football—back at some point and the probability of fellow running backs Sony Michel and Keith Marshall returning soon.

He has a veteran wide receiving corps and, suddenly, a defense that can put his offense in good field position. The Bulldogs have forced six interceptions over the last two games and 10 on the season—three more than it had all of last season.

If Mason continues to do what he has done the last two weeks, that's all Georgia needs to make a playoff run.

Don't sleep on that being a possibility, either. At 6-1 and with the No. 9 ranking, Georgia still controls its playoff destiny. Win out—which would include a win over Auburn and a top-tier SEC West foe in Atlanta—and not only would Georgia be in the playoff, it'd likely be a No. 1 or No. 2 seed depending on what happens elsewhere.

 

Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer and video analyst for Bleacher Report, as well as a 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 cfbstats.com, and all recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports. Follow Barrett on Twitter @BarrettSallee.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Power Ranking College Football Conferences by QB Play

Which college football conference has been getting the best quarterback play? It's a difficult question to answer.

Raw passing numbers do not tell the whole story because they do not account for strength of opponent faced. The Total QBR stat at ESPN.com attempts to fix this—and for the most part does a very good job—but it still doesn't feel right to measure a position as nuanced as quarterback with one comprehensive metric.

The most prudent way to measure quarterback play—both on an individual and a collective basis—would seem to be a balance of those metrics along with…you know…actually watching the games.

Raw stats are important because they imply usage rate and reliance. QBR is important because it implies efficiency and adjusts for opponent. And the eye test is important because sometimes what happens on a football field cannot be quantified in numbers.

The list that follows was based on all three of those factors. It rated conferences from top to bottom, which is to say that the quarterback of each team in the league was considered.

Depth was preferred but not mandatory if the players at the top of the conference are playing well enough to compensate. Injured players were only considered if they are projected to return in 2014.

Sound off below and let me know where you disagree.

Begin Slideshow

Jameis Winston's Best Career Path Is to Declare for 2015 NFL Draft

Jameis Winston’s college football career has been incredibly successful on the field, but controversy and turmoil behind the scenes have made it clear that his best option after this season is to enter the 2015 NFL draft.

Winston is a former Heisman Trophy winner and, as ESPN’s College GameDay pointed out on Twitter, is still undefeated as quarterback of the Florida State Seminoles:

During last year’s freshman season, Winston racked up 4,057 yards and 40 touchdowns through the air and another 219 yards and four touchdowns on the ground. His numbers in 2014 have been way down this season (just 15 touchdowns in six games), and Winston’s play has likely been affected by the off-field distractions that have followed him.

On top of a previous sexual assault investigation and a one-game suspension for a “profane and sexually explicit outburst,” according to ESPN.com's Jared Shanker, Winston is currently being investigated by the school’s compliance department regarding possible payments for autographs, via ESPN.com.

The original report from Darren Rovell of ESPN.com claims one company alone has authenticated over 2,000 Winston signatures. Florida State is looking into claims that Winston received payment in return for signing memorabilia.

With everything going wrong off the field, Winston and the Seminoles must ride out the storm for the remainder of the season. It will be imperative that the quarterback keeps a low profile for the remainder of his time on campus, but that is something that has proved difficult in the past.

Not only will Winston have to keep playing at an elite level and win games on the field, but he will also have to contend with school work and the distractions from the university’s investigation. While he can likely pull it off for the remainder of the season, the jump to the NFL in 2015 would give him a clean slate moving forward.

As a young man growing up in the mainstream spotlight, the culture shock moving from college to the pros may be exactly what he needs.

Despite the adversity, Winston spoke with William C. Rhoden of The New York Times about his confidence and the tenacity of the entire Florida State program:

One thing we are consistently proving is that we are winners. And no matter what type of adversity we may face, we are family here at Florida State, and we play hard. The one thing people need to realize about the Seminoles team is when we’ve got our backs against the wall, we always rise.

Instead of being the king of the campus, Winston would likely be drafted by a team looking for a franchise quarterback. With an entire organization depending on his play, the immaturity issues would be addressed immediately by the veterans on the roster.

Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller talked about a possible landing spot for Winston:

While Winston has struggled with accepting advice in the past (just ask Bo Jackson), he would have no choice but to adapt to the NFL mentality and adopt the work ethic demanded of a quarterback in the league. The pressure on players at the top level is incredible, and any organization that drafts Winston would expect elite play fairly quickly.

The NFL is about what a player does on the field first and foremost, but the off-field expectations are just as high. The franchise that adds Winston to the roster will understand his issues and have a plan in place to correct them. If a team is willing to spend a high draft pick on him, the organization will absolutely have a plan to minimize his ability to make mistakes off the field.

Another year at Florida State would allow him to pad his stats and enjoy campus life again, but he needs a change of scenery that will force him out of his comfort zone. With Winston vulnerable, he will lean on his NFL teammates, and the hope is that he matures with their guidance.

It’s also worth noting that staying in school may hurt his stock even more. High-profile college stars like Tim Tebow and Matt Leinart exposed themselves to criticism and injuries by staying in college too long, and Winston and his camp should understand the risk associated with sticking around for his junior season.

Winston has an incredible amount of raw talent but needs to show the maturity necessary to carry a franchise at the next level. A team will take the educated risk on Winston, but it will ultimately be up to him to take full advantage of the opportunity.

 

*Stats via ESPN.com.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Will Muschamp on the Hot Seat: Who Should Be Florida's Next Head Coach?

After their 41-3 loss to the Missouri Tigers, the Florida Gators are reeling, which means head coach Will Muschamp is on the hot seat. 

Bleacher Report College Football Analyst Michael Felder and Barrett Sallee discuss who could be the next Florida head coach.

Can Will Muschamp survive the season? If not, who will be the next head coach?

Watch the video and let us know!


Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Devin Gardner, Michigan QB, Comments on Racial Abuse, Leadership and More

The University of Michigan's college football team is in the midst of a tumultuous season, and nobody has been caught in the crosshairs more so than senior quarterback Devin Gardner.

The Wolverines are a disappointing 3-4, and Gardner has received much of the blame due to the nature of the position he plays. While the talented signal-caller has done his best to brush off the criticism, he acknowledged that some of his critics have made things personal, according to Angelique S. Chengelis of The Detroit News.

"I've been called the N-word so many times this year," Gardner said. "One guy told me I was the N-word, and said I know N-words can't play quarterback. And I was like, are we not past this? Say what you want about my skill, but come on."

That revelation rightfully disturbed many, including MLive.com's Nick Baumgardner:

Perhaps the most trying point of his season came when head coach Brady Hoke decided to start sophomore Shane Morris under center against Minnesota on Sept. 27.

While Gardner was hurt by the decision, he decided to make the best of it and lead by example during practice.

I just try to help my teammates, and I knew they'd be watching me. I knew coming in on Sunday, they're going to say, 'What's Devin going to do? How's Devin going to respond?' I felt I responded the best anybody could ever respond. I was helpful in practice, upbeat, just trying to keep the energy in practice. It felt like I was going to start. And then when it came to the game against Minnesota, it's like, I'm not going to start. I took a step back and was like, 'Wow, I'm not playing this game.' But I treated it as if I was.

Gardner regained his starting job the following week, and while things certainly haven't gone perfectly since then, he showed his toughness and resolve by leading the Wolverines past Penn State on Oct. 11 despite dealing with an apparent ankle injury.

Even with his ankle ailing, Gardner fully intends to play against rival Michigan State on Saturday afternoon.

"You can't not feel the pain," Gardner said. "The thing is, it's mind over matter. You have to ignore it. Try to ignore it. You can't compare a sprain to a broken bone, but high-ankle sprains are pretty bad. They hurt pretty bad."

Even though Michigan likely isn't in position to challenge for a Big Ten title, its season is far from over. Bowl eligibility is hanging in the balance, and Gardner has to be at his best in order to reach that threshold.

He has somehow managed to block out the negativity that many have spewed in his direction. Even though he isn't having an ideal campaign by any means, leading Michigan to a bowl would be a sweet conclusion to his collegiate career.

 

Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Suspended Georgia Star Todd Gurley Appears to Wear 'Free Gurley' T-Shirt

If this is indeed Georgia running back Todd Gurley, his "Free Gurley" shirt echoes what Bulldogs fans—and many college football fans around the country—are saying.

Georgia suspended Gurley earlier this month while the school investigates a situation regarding the Heisman Trophy candidate allegedly getting paid for signing autographs. His indefinite suspension isn't sitting well with those who believe student-athletes should be able to make money off their names.

It appears the Bulldogs star is itching to get back on the field.

Of course, most people would fight for their own cause, so something like this isn't totally surprising. However, it is incredibly awesome—if it is in fact Gurley.

[Doug Gottlieb Show]

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Oklahoma State Notified of NCAA Violations: Latest Details, Reaction, Analysis

Oklahoma State was notified the NCAA is looking into three possible Level II violations, which are considered a "significant breach of conduct" under the current violation structure.

Brett McMurphy of ESPN broke the news:

John Helsley of The Oklahoman notes the issues were found during a joint investigation between the school and the NCAA:

The NCAA lays out what a Level II violation entails:

Violations that provide or are intended to provide more than a minimal but less than a substantial or extensive recruiting, competitive or other advantage; includes more than a minimal but less than a substantial or extensive impermissible benefit; or involves conduct that may compromise the integrity of the NCAA collegiate model as set forth in the Constitution and bylaws.

Helsley and Berry Tramel of The Oklahoman report the deep dive into the athletics program was done following a five-part series by Sports Illustrated that looked at alleged misconduct at Oklahoma State. It found those claims were "fundamentally unfounded."

The report states that during the process of reviewing those allegations, other potential violations were discovered. They involve a failure to apply the drug policy, improperly organizing a support program and failing to monitor both of those issues.

Also included in the report were comments from athletic director Mike Holder:

I am pleased that the independent inquiry did not substantiate the primary contentions contained in the Sports Illustrated article. Nevertheless, we take the remaining matters very seriously and will undertake the appropriate actions. As I said last year after I learned about the Sports Illustrated series, we strive to comply with the rules and operate with integrity. We want our loyal fans to be proud of our teams and our athletic program. I appreciate coach (Mike) Gundy and every one of our coaches for their desire to do things the right way.

As mentioned, the newly announced possible violations are likely to carry minor penalties compared to the potential punishment if the Sports Illustrated reporting was corroborated by the investigation.

No word on when a final decision about penalties for the three Level II violations will be made. The Cowboys are ranked just outside the top 25 in the current polls, and while it's unclear when sanctions will come down, it could likely make recruiting more difficult for Mike Gundy in the future. 

 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Oregon Students Play Beer Pong in the Stands During Washington Blowout

Oregon beat the Washington Huskies for the 11th straight time on Saturday, notching a 45-20 blowout that left students bored and itching for activities.

They opted to pass the time the only way they know how: throwing pingpong balls into cups of liquid.

Twitter user @JeffWhiteee (h/t ESPN’s Darren Rovell) tweeted a picture of the impromptu pong party. As decreed in the university’s 1876 charter, students played the game atop an inflated American flag raft.

Oregon doesn’t sell alcohol at Autzen Stadium, which would imply that the pong wasn’t being played with beer. To assume such would be brazen and foolhardy, however, as no one smuggles thigh-warmed alcohol into sporting events with the efficacy of a college undergrad.

The fluid in these cups could be anything from Keystone Light to groin-incubated Franzia. The possibilities are nothing if not sweaty and endless. 

In any case, Oregon looks to keep its playoffs hopes alive Friday when it plays the California Golden Bears at Levi's Stadium. Don’t forget to bring the bend-y flasks and raft, guys.

 

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

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

NCAA Football Rankings 2014: Full List of Week 9 College Standings and Polls

Are you ready for another week of chaos in the college football world?

We could be in store for that in Week 9 with only two games featuring a clash between ranked teams in The Associated Press poll. The underdogs have a chance to play spoiler to College Football Playoff hopes, just like West Virginia did against Baylor and Kansas State did to Oklahoma in Week 8.

Here is a look at the latest polls heading into Week 9 (the Bleacher Report poll can be found here) before we look at an under-the-radar game that college football fans should keep an eye on before they take in showdowns between Ole Miss and LSU, Utah and USC and Ohio State and Penn State.

 

Under-the-Radar Game to Watch: Oregon Ducks at California Golden Bears

Oregon is back in the national championship picture, but the 2014 season has not exactly been smooth sailing for the Ducks.

After an impressive win against Michigan State in the nonconference slate, Oregon nearly lost to Washington State (and got a little help from a missed pass interference call in the final minutes) and then did lose to Arizona. The offensive line allowed a combined 12 sacks in those two games, which is particularly concerning when you consider how important the health of Marcus Mariota is for the season.

Oregon center Hroniss Grasu discussed the need for the team and line to get tougher, via Kevin Gemmell of ESPN.com: “We have to be nastier. We have to come off the ball and finish the plays. Our playmakers, our running backs, our skill guys are going to make the defenders miss and extend the plays, so we have to keep on working on finishing.”

While it is worth watching the Oregon offensive line problems, this game is on here as a matchup to watch because California’s offense could give Oregon’s defense some fits. Plus, it is in California on a Friday night, and we have seen plenty of strange things happen in college football during weeknight games.

The Golden Bears are third in the nation with 372.1 passing yards a game, and sophomore quarterback Jared Goff has developed into something of a star even though his team is only 4-3. He has 2,482 passing yards, 24 touchdowns and only four interceptions for a quarterback rating of 167.3.

As for Oregon’s defense, it couldn’t make the critical stop when it needed to against Arizona, struggled against Washington State and had issues in the first three quarters against Michigan State. It is beatable if Goff comes out firing.

Still, Goff’s counterpart is arguably the best player in college football.

Mariota is on his way to a potential Heisman Trophy and NFL contract and has 1,957 passing yards, 289 rushing yards, 24 total touchdowns and, most amazingly, zero interceptions. That’s right, he hasn’t thrown a single pick yet even though his offensive line has failed to provide adequate protection for much of the year. 

John Canzano of The Oregonian noted that it’s just business as usual for No. 8:

All of those incredible statistics mean he is the front-runner for the Heisman in a lot of people’s eyes, including Stewart Mandel of Fox Sports, Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports and CBS Sports in general:

Ultimately, the Golden Bears may put up some points and keep this one interesting, but we are talking about Mariota and an explosive Oregon offense going up against an abysmal defense. The Ducks are sixth nationally in points per game with 43.6, 15th in passing yards per game with 309.7 and 32nd in rushing yards per game with 217.3.

As for California’s defense, you ask?

It ranks a lowly 120th in opposing scoring this year and is giving up 38.4 points a game. It allowed 60 points to Washington State, 56 to Colorado, 49 to Arizona and 36 to UCLA and has struggled all season.

It is perfectly all right to shudder at the thought of Mariota shredding the California secondary deep into the night on Friday. 

Prediction: Oregon 51, California 28

 

Follow me on Twitter:

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

WVU Mountaineers vs. Oklahoma State Cowboys Odds: Analysis and Prediction

The West Virginia Mountaineers will go for their fourth straight win and try to beat the Oklahoma State Cowboys for the second year in a row when they square off in Stillwater. The Mountaineers are coming off a huge 41-27 home win over previously unbeaten Baylor last week as eight-point underdogs and will be dogs yet again this week when they visit Oklahoma State.

 

Point spread: Cowboys opened as four-point favorites at Boone Pickens Stadium, according to sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark. (Line updates and matchup report)

 

College football pick via Odds Shark computer: 37.7-35.2 Cowboys

 

Why the West Virginia Mountaineers Can Cover the Spread

Even though West Virginia has won its past three games, last week’s upset of the Bears was a breakthrough performance for the team after failing to cover the spread in three straight. The Mountaineers barely beat Texas Tech 37-34 on the road in their previous game as 5.5-point favorites and have struggled against some of the better teams in the Big 12.

West Virginia quarterback Clint Trickett outplayed Heisman Trophy candidate Bryce Petty of Baylor with 322 passing yards and three touchdowns, and he has topped the 300-yard mark in every game this season. Trickett keeps the Mountaineers in every game, and he could be the difference in helping them pull off the upset here.

 

Why the Oklahoma State Cowboys Can Cover the Spread

The Cowboys were in a similar spot as West Virginia is now before losing 42-9 at TCU last week as 10.5-point underdogs. They had won their previous five games, going 2-3 against the spread, and appeared to be ready to make a run for the conference title. But Oklahoma State is just not the same team away from home, also failing to cover the 20-point spread in a 27-20 road win at Kansas before the loss to the Horned Frogs.

The Cowboys are 8-3 ATS in their past 11 home games against Big 12 opponents, including a 37-20 victory as 16.5-point favorites in their last game at Boone Pickens Stadium on October 4.

 

Smart Pick

The Mountaineers are playing really well right now, but they are just 1-4 ATS in their past five road games against conference foes. Keeping that in mind, the over is appealing, considering betting trends are favoring it for both sides. The total has gone over in five of West Virginia’s last seven games as a road underdog and 3-1 in Oklahoma State’s past four as a home favorite.

The Cowboys were averaging more than 38 points in their previous five games before losing to TCU, and the Mountaineers have scored nearly 40 per game since losing to Alabama 33-23 in the season opener. Ironically, the under has cashed in the last three games for each team, so look for that trend to come to an end in what should be a high-scoring conference matchup.

 

Betting Trends

  • The total has gone OVER in four of West Virginia's last six games on the road
  • Oklahoma State is 2-4 ATS in its last six games

 

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

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Would You Rather: Week 9 Edition

The college football season is past the halfway mark, and the competition is heating up. The College Football Playoff has dominated much of the conversation this season, but many more questions still remain unanswered.

Bleacher Report College Football Analysts Michael Felder and Barrett Sallee debate some of the hottest topics.

Would you rather have UCLA's Brett Hundley or USC's Cody Kessler as your starting quarterback?

Watch the video and let us know!

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Southern Cal Trojans vs. Utah Utes Betting Odds: Analysis and Prediction

USC leads the Pac-12 South at 4-1 and is 5-2 against the spread on the season. Utah sits just a game out of first in the South and is 5-1 ATS. Two of the best bets in college football so far this season meet in a big divisional battle when the Trojans take on the Utes Saturday afternoon in Salt Lake City.

 

Point spread: Trojans opened as a pick'em at Rice-Eccles Stadium, according to sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark. (Line updates and matchup report)

 

College football pick via Odds Shark computer: 36.7-34.7 Trojans

 

Why the Southern Cal Trojans can cover the spread

The Trojans just took care of business against Colorado, beating the Buffs 56-28 and covering as 20-point favorites. USC quarterback Cody Kessler threw four of his school-record seven touchdown passes in the first quarter, as the Trojans jumped out to a 28-0 lead and cruised from there.

So Southern Cal is 4-1 both straight up and ATS in Pac-12 play, and the only loss came on that blown coverage on the last play of the game against Arizona State a few weeks ago. The Trojans are also 3-0 SU, 2-1 ATS against Utah since the Utes joined the conference three years ago, including a 19-3 victory last year.

 

Why the Utah Utes can cover the spread

The Utes are one of the more pleasant surprises in college football so far, with road wins at Michigan, at UCLA and at Oregon State. Last week, Utah outrushed the Beavers 253-119 on their way to a 29-23 overtime victory in Corvallis.

In fact, the Utes have outrushed their last three opponents by an average of 118 yards. So a team that was expected to finish in the bottom half of the Pac-12 South has a chance to grab a tie for the lead with a victory this week, going against a defense that gave up 450 yards on the ground against Boston College earlier this season.

 

Smart Pick

USC is only 1-9 ATS in its last 10 games as a road favorite, while Utah is 10-3 in its last 13 games as a home dog. But sometimes trends should be disregarded, and this is one of those situations. The Trojans are the more talented team, and their defense has improved since that debacle against BC. So the smart pick goes with Southern Cal, at the short spread.

 

Betting trends

  • Southern Cal is 5-11 ATS in its last 16 games on the road
  • The total has gone UNDER in five of Utah's last seven games at home

 

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

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

South Carolina Gamecocks vs. Auburn Tigers Betting Odds: Analysis and Prediction

The Auburn Tigers will look to rebound from their first loss of the season when they host the South Carolina Gamecocks in an SEC matchup on Saturday. The Tigers are coming off a bye week after losing at Mississippi State 38-23 as two-point road favorites, and they are 5-0 straight up and against the spread in their last five home games against conference opponents.

 

Point spread: Tigers opened as 14-point favorites at Jordan-Hare Stadium, according to sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark (line updates and matchup report).

 

College football pick via Odds Shark computer: 38.6-27.8 Tigers

 

Why the South Carolina Gamecocks can cover the spread

The Gamecocks may have failed to cover the spread in six of their past seven games, but they remain an intriguing team that is capable of hanging around against just about any team in the SEC this year. Before beating Furman 41-10 last week as a 37-point favorite, South Carolina lost its previous two games by a combined eight points.

And outside of a surprising 52-28 home loss to Texas A&M in their season opener, you have to go back two years to find the previous time the Gamecocks lost by more than 11 points. South Carolina may not be able to pull off the upset, but staying close against Auburn and covering the double-digit spread is certainly not out of the question.

 

Why the Auburn Tigers can cover the spread

Despite losing to the top-ranked team in the country two weeks ago, the Tigers still have to believe they can make another run at the national championship like they did last year. Winning out may prove to be too tough of a task considering their remaining schedule, but a 20-14 road win at Kansas State is definitely looking a lot better now that the Wildcats beat Oklahoma 31-30 on the road last week.

Auburn is 6-1 ATS in its last seven games as a home favorite and has also covered five of the past six meetings with the Gamecocks, although the teams have not played each other since 2011.

 

Smart pick

While South Carolina has the potential to cover the spread, Auburn is the much safer pick here. The Gamecocks just can’t be trusted based on how inconsistent they have played so far this season, while there’s definitely no shame for the Tigers in losing to the nation’s No. 1 team on the road.

Auburn still controls its own destiny in the national title picture and has other big games to play down the stretch. Convincing wins are important for the Tigers to build their case for getting into the four-team playoff field at the end of the year, so their focus will be on blowing out South Carolina here.

 

Betting trends

  • South Carolina is 14-6 SU in its last 20 games on the road.
  • Auburn is 5-1 ATS in its last six games when playing South Carolina.

 

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

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Tim Tebow Comments on Florida's Struggles, Leadership

Former Florida quarterback Tim Tebow thinks he knows what's missing from the current group of Gators, who are 2-3 in conference play (3-3 overall) through Week 8 of the 2014 college football season.

In a radio interview Tuesday with 1010 XL in Jacksonville, the SEC Network analyst commented that he doesn't see the same type of fight and determination that existed when he was helping lead the program to a pair of BCS national championships.

He said the Gators' blowout loss to Missouri in Week 8 was "tough to watch," but also noted they aren't completely out of the SEC East race quite yet.

When the conversation shifted to what needed to change, Tebow focused on two areas where he excelled during his storied collegiate career: heart and leadership.

The station passed along his thoughts about Florida's overall issues:

He also touched on the Gators' offensive struggles:

Tebow was never the most natural quarterback. His inability to refine his throwing motion is a major reason why he's currently an analyst rather than still playing in the NFL somewhere.

But Tebow is essentially the king of intangibles, which helped him win a lot of college games, so his words hold weight when he talks about a lack of heart or leadership. He was able to play a key role in generating a winning atmosphere during his time at Florida—a dynamic that's begun to fade over the past few seasons.

Will Muschamp took over from Urban Meyer ahead of the 2011 season. He led the team to a bowl game in each of his first two seasons and posted a Top 10 finish in 2012. Florida went just 4-8 last season, however, and is off to a 3-3 start this year.

Any time a program like Florida stops winning on a consistent basis, criticism comes from all angles. The focus must be on finishing the season strong. There's a chance to make a major impact with games against Georgia and Florida State on the horizon.

The Gators could use another player like Tebow. Those types of talents don't walk through the locker room door very often, though. It's up to somebody in the room already to step into a leadership role during the bye week to provide a spark before a key clash with the Bulldogs on Nov. 1.

 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Ohio State Buckeyes vs. Penn State Nittany Lions Odds: Analysis and Prediction

The Ohio State Buckeyes bring a four-game winning streak into Beaver Stadium Saturday for a key Big Ten matchup with the Penn State Nittany Lions. The Buckeyes have also gone 4-0 against the spread during this stretch and hope a strong finish in the conference can catapult them into consideration for the four-team College Football Playoff at the end of the year.

 

Point spread: The Buckeyes opened as 11.5-point favorites at Beaver Stadium, according to sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark. (Line updates and matchup report.)

 

College football pick via Odds Shark computer: 37.6-18.0 Buckeyes

 

Why the Ohio State Buckeyes can cover the spread

Ohio State is not messing around anymore and knows what’s at stake the rest of the way. Win out, and the Buckeyes will make their case for a spot in the four-team playoff. Lose another game, and they will need to start thinking about next year.

That’s the way they have been playing in the past four games, as none of their last four covers have been in question with an average margin of victory of nearly 39 points.

Ohio State is coming off a 56-17 home win over Rutgers as a 21-point favorite and won its last road game 52-24 at Maryland two weeks earlier as 6.5-point chalk.

 

Why the Penn State Nittany Lions can cover the spread

The Nittany Lions may not be competing for a national championship this year, but they are still looking to improve from last season and can play spoilers against the Buckeyes. Penn State has dropped two in a row both straight up and ATS but was off last week to try to figure out how to turn things around. The key for the Nittany Lions is getting quarterback Christian Hackenberg to play better.

The sophomore captain threw for a season-low 160 yards in an 18-13 loss at Michigan in the team’s last game and had higher expectations for this season, especially after putting together three consecutive games of more than 300 yards passing to start the year. If Hackenberg can get back on track here, Penn State will have a good shot to cover the spread.

 

Smart Pick

Ohio State routed Penn State 63-14 last year at home, covering as a 16-point favorite to improve to 6-2 ATS in the past eight meetings. The Buckeyes are also 10-4-1 versus the line in their last 15 road games while the Nittany Lions are just 1-3 ATS in their past four home games against Big Ten opponents. All those trends back Ohio State, and rightfully so.

The Buckeyes are the far superior team with much more on the line right now. Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer knows how to close out seasons and will have his players ready to go in this spot to not only win, but also cover as double-digit road favorites.

 

Betting trends

  • The total has gone OVER in five of Ohio State's last five games
  • Penn State is 1-4 SU in its last five games when playing Ohio State

 

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

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Mississippi State Bulldogs vs. Kentucky Wildcats Odds: Analysis and Prediction

The Mississippi State Bulldogs return from their bye week and will put their unbeaten record on the line when they visit the Kentucky Wildcats in an SEC matchup on Saturday.

The Bulldogs will try to win their 10th straight game dating back to last season and beat the Wildcats for the sixth time in a row, while Kentucky looks to bounce back from a 41-3 road loss at LSU as a double-digit home underdog.

 

Point Spread: Bulldogs opened as 13-point favorites at Commonwealth Stadium.

Odds Shark Computer Pick: Bulldogs 46.2, Wildcats 26.5

 

Why the Mississippi State Bulldogs Can Cover the Spread

Mississippi State has too much to lose right now as the No. 1 team in the country, especially with a tough road ahead the rest of the way.

The Bulldogs simply can’t afford a loss here and have covered the spread in six of the last seven meetings with the Wildcats.

Top Heisman Trophy candidate Dak Prescott saw two of his competitors for the award (Notre Dame's Everett Golson and Baylor's Bryce Petty) lose last week, giving him the perfect opportunity to shine in his first game back from the bye.

Prescott completed 23 of 34 passes for 268 yards and two touchdowns and also ran for 33 yards on 16 carries in last year’s 28-22 home win over Kentucky. That was the only meeting over the past seven where Mississippi State did not cover as a 12.5-point favorite.

 

Why the Kentucky Wildcats Can Cover the Spread

The Wildcats have not fared well on the road this season, but they are 5-0 straight up and 4-1 against the spread at home. They had turned in impressive back-to-back performances at Commonwealth Stadium before being routed by the Tigers last week.

Kentucky quarterback Patrick Towles never got on track at LSU with just 146 yards, but he threw for 424 yards and four touchdowns in his previous two games combined.

Towles did not play in last year’s meeting, so the Bulldogs will not be familiar with him. However, the Wildcats did play against Prescott last season and were able to cover the spread against him. This familiarity plus the home field could lead to another ATS win.

 

Smart Pick

Kentucky may be 4-1 ATS at home this season, but only one of those covers was against an SEC team. That came in a 45-38 upset of South Carolina as a 4.5-point underdog on October 4.

The Wildcats are only 1-10 ATS in their last 11 home games as double-digit dogs and will be facing a highly motivated Mississippi State team that has enjoyed a lot of past success against them.

The Bulldogs are also 8-3 ATS in their last 11 games as road favorites and 3-0 vs. the line in their past three games away from home against SEC opponents. On the other hand, Kentucky is 2-8 ATS in its past 10 home games vs. conference foes.

This all adds up to another big win for Mississippi State.

 

Betting Trends

  • Mississippi State is 4-1 SU in its last five games on the road.
  • Kentucky is 8-17 SU in its last 25 games.

 

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

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Welcome Back to the Playoff Picture, Oregon

Though the reality is Oregon never really left. Perhaps it was more of a brief hibernation. 

In fact, very few teams who were in the playoff discussion to start the season are all but officially out now as of mid-October. Oklahoma, now that it has suffered its second loss of the season to Kansas State, has a long ways to go to even think about getting back in the race. So, too, does UCLA. 

And, yes, as unlikely as it seems, SMU has been eliminated from playoff contention. 

Overall, though, don't be quick to pull the trigger on anyone. Eliminating anyone from the Big Ten after Week 2 was a mistake, just as eliminating the Pac-12 after Week 6 was wrong.

Don't like preseason rankings? That's fine, but then conversely we collectively have to acknowledge that teams and conferences still have a chance despite early losses. 

As far as the whole body of work is concerned, the regular season still matters in the playoff era. 

At 6-1—the lone loss coming to Arizona—the Ducks are very much alive. The latest playoff projection from USA Today has Oregon in the field as a No. 4 seed if the season were to end today. Mississippi State received the top seed with Florida State as a No. 2 seed, and Ole Miss is a No. 3 seed.

Coupled with that, B/R's playoff guru, Sam Chi, checks Oregon in at No. 6 in his latest playoff rankings. That's already up four spots from the week before

2014 has shown shades of the chaos of 2007, and more upsets could be on the way. As Pat Forde of Yahoo Sports writes, the likely playoff field will, mathematically speaking, continue to thin as the season trudges on: 

The max pool of teams from power-five conferences that could end the season with one or fewer losses now looks like this: two from the ACC (Florida State and Duke); two from the Big 12 (either Baylor and TCU, or just one of Kansas State, Baylor and TCU); one from the Big Ten (Michigan State, Ohio State, Nebraska, Minnesota); one from the Pac-12 (Oregon, Arizona, Arizona State, Utah); three from the SEC (from a group of Mississippi State, Mississippi, Alabama, Auburn and Georgia); and Notre Dame.

That's a best-case scenario too. If this season has taught us anything, it's that you, the fan, should pray for the best but expect the worst. 

The good news for Oregon is that it leads the North Division with a 3-1 conference record and controls its Pac-12 destiny. That's all it can control—that, and its attitude, as head coach Mark Helfrich explained to reporters

After Arizona, "(players) came in disappointed, frustrated and looked each other directly in the eye and said, let's fix this together. There was no pout element to it at all. We can't sit here and say what if we had these receivers back or these offensive linemen back. We are who we are right now and our guys are competing their tails off.

"... I think the last couple weeks we've practiced with a little bit more of a grittier edge physically, competitively. That's shown up."

The Ducks have arguably the best player in college football in quarterback Marcus Mariota but also had two glaring weaknesses: a patchwork offensive line and subpar pass defense. But as Andrew Greif of The Oregonian notes, Oregon played better on both fronts in a 45-20 win over Washington in Week 8. 

Oregon's offensive line has allowed just two sacks in the last two games. That's a big accomplishment considering 1) it had allowed 12 sacks in the previous two games before that; and 2) Washington's ability to get pressure in the backfield. 

That's a positive sign for Oregon going forward. The Nov. 1 game against Stanford will provide another stiff test as the Cardinal claim one of the best defenses in the country, giving up just 12 points a game. For that matter, Stanford has had Oregon's number lately with two straight wins over the Ducks. 

However, as Arizona State showed in a 26-10 win over Stanford in Week 8, if an offense can get something going against Stanford, the Cardinal don't have the offensive firepower to respond. 

There are few, if any, "gimmes" on anyone's schedule—not with the upsets this season has already produced. Interestingly, the games before and after Stanford—at Cal and at Utah—could be the tricky spots for the Ducks. 

Oregon isn't safe, but it is in a good spot provided it keeps winning. It has a signature win in nonconference play against Michigan State and is on pace to win its conference.

If those two things are combined at season's end, the Ducks will be in the serious playoff picture. 

 

Ben Kercheval is a lead writer for college football. Stats and info courtesy of cfbstats.com

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Mississippi Rebels vs. LSU Tigers Betting Odds: Analysis and Prediction

The LSU Tigers will try to build off a dominant home win and hand the Ole Miss Rebels their first loss of the season when they square off in Baton Rouge Saturday. The Tigers crushed Kentucky 41-3 last week as 11.5-point favorites to improve to 4-1 against the spread in their past five home games.

 

Point Spread: The Rebels opened as three-point favorites at Tiger Stadium.

Odds Shark Computer Pick: Tigers 33.3, Rebels 27.3

 

Why the Mississippi Rebels Can Cover the Spread

The Rebels already own big SEC road wins at Vanderbilt and Texas A&M earlier this season by a combined score of 76-23, covering the spread in both of those games easily.

They closed as 2.5-point underdogs against the Aggies and followed that win up with a 34-3 home victory over Tennessee last week as 15.5-point favorites.

Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace continued his solid play with 199 yards and two touchdowns against the Volunteers, and he threw for 346 yards in last year’s 27-24 upset of LSU at home as a 9.5-point underdog. That victory made the Rebels 13-4 ATS in the last 17 meetings with the Tigers.

 

Why the LSU Tigers Can Cover the Spread

LSU finds itself in the rare position of home underdog and has covered the spread the last two times under this scenario, both times against Alabama.

Ole Miss is enjoying a fine year but does not have the same kind of recent history as the Crimson Tide, who have won three national championships in the past five years.

The Tigers have been double-digit favorites in three of the last four meetings with the Rebels and won the past two games between the teams at home by a combined 13 points.

The good news is that the underdog is 12-2 ATS in the past 14 meetings, so maybe LSU can turn the tables and pull off the upset this time around.

 

Smart Pick

Ole Miss has won just once in its last six trips to Baton Rouge but has gone 9-0 ATS in the past nine meetings there. While the Rebels were underdogs in eight of those games, the lone time they were favored came in 1999 as 3.5-point favorites and resulted in a 42-23 victory.

The Tigers have been able to reel off wins in three of their last four games, but neither of their past two losses has been close. A 34-29 home loss to Mississippi State last month was not nearly as close as the final score suggests because LSU was trailing 34-10 in the fourth quarter.

Ole Miss is quite simply the better team in this conference matchup and will win by at least a touchdown.

 

Betting Trends

  • Mississippi is 5-0 straight up in its last five games.
  • LSU is 6-2 ATS in its last eight games.

 

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

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Pages