NCAA Football News

TCU vs. Texas: TV Info, Spread, Injury Updates, Game Time and More

The TCU Horned Frogs fell to No. 6 in the Associated Press Top 25 after they were given a scare by Kansas in Week 13. Things won't be getting any easier for this College Football Playoff contender, as a trip to Austin to take on the surging Texas Longhorns is next on the slate.

Earlier in the season, this contest had the makings of a lopsided affair. TCU's offense was demolishing every foe, and Texas couldn't seem to live up to expectations, dropping five of its first eight games. However, the Longhorns have recently hit their stride, winning their last three games, and they appear to be a formidable Week 14 opponent.

Can quarterback Trevone Boykin lead the Horned Frogs to a vastly important 10th win on the season, or will Texas play spoiler and finish the year strong with a fourth consecutive win? There's plenty at stake here, including Big 12 bragging rights within the state of Texas.

 

Aerial Prowess

While neither defense has been bad this season, we should expect a high-scoring affair at Royal Texas Memorial Stadium on Thursday. Both TCU and Texas have been lighting up scoreboards lately, and each team's quarterback is the primary reason.

We've seen TCU's Boykin go off this year. The junior signal-caller was involved in some early Heisman Trophy discussions, especially following his 433-yard, seven-touchdown performance against Texas Tech in the Horned Frogs' 82-27 victory.

Since that astounding performance, Boykin's production has dropped off, though. Over his last three games, he's notched three touchdowns and two interceptions, eclipsing the 300-yard mark just once. He did have a brilliant rushing performance against Kansas State, carrying 17 times for 123 yards and three touchdowns, but he'll need to do much more through the air against Texas.

Still, according to DFW Sports News, Boykin is extremely happy with the team's offense:

As for the Longhorns, quarterback Tyrone Swoopes has played very well lately. The sophomore signal-caller completed 24 of his 33 passing attempts for 305 yards and two touchdowns in Week 13 against Oklahoma State, giving him plenty of momentum heading into Thursday.

Swoopes commented on the importance of Thursday's game against TCU, via Jori Epstein of The Daily Texan:

If Boykin can regain his previous form, Swoopes may need the game of his brief career to keep the Longhorns in contention.

 

Finish Strong

While many points are expected to be posted by both of these teams, finishing strong on the defensive side of the ball will come into play. The inability to close out games has plagued both Texas and TCU this season, and this game could easily come down to one defensive stand.

The Horned Frogs suffered their only loss this year against Baylor in a high-scoring affair that saw the Bears win 61-58. With just over 10 minutes remaining in the game, TCU held a 58-37 lead. Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty led two quick touchdown drives, knotting up the game at 58, and a field goal as time expired won the game for the Bears in regulation due to 17 unanswered points.

Earlier this season, Texas faced a difficult opponent in UCLA. Quarterback Brett Hundley exited the game, forcing backup Jerry Neuheisel into action. He played well, and the game remained close throughout; however, a Swoopes touchdown pass put the Longhorns up 17-13 with just over five minutes remaining.

Soon after, Neuheisel completed a 30-yard pass to Paul Perkins inside the Longhorns' territory, but a Jordon James fumble was recovered by Texas, ending the threat. Swoopes and Co. were held to a 3-and-out, and following a good punt return, Neuheisel completed a 33-yard touchdown strike to Jordan Payton, winning the game for the Bruins.

Allowing big passing plays late in the game won't fly against Boykin and the Horned Frogs in Week 14.

 

When: Thursday, November 27

Where: Royal Texas Memorial Stadium in Austin, Texas

Time: 7:30 p.m. ET

Channel: Fox Sports 1

Live Stream: Fox Sports Go

Betting Lines (via Odds Shark):

  • Over/Under: 56.5
  • Spread: TCU -6.5

 

Team Injury Reports

Injury reports per The Sports Network, via USA Today.

 

Prediction

One thing that's kept TCU alive when Boykin has struggled is its running game. This team has a very talented running back in Aaron Green, and he's coming off a great showing against Kansas, ripping off 128 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries. He's really come into his own of late, notching three 100-yard performances in his last three games, and he's always a threat to hit a home run.

Texas has a couple of talented backs in Johnathan Gray and Malcolm Brown, but they've been a little erratic lately. Brown managed only 31 yards on 15 carries against Oklahoma State, and he's averaged fewer than four yards per carry in three of his last five games. It's been a similar story for Gray, who had a great three-touchdown showing against West Virginia but also averaged four yards per carry or fewer in five games this season.

Keeping a balanced offense will be crucial for any kind of offensive success in this game, and entering Week 14, the Horned Frogs appear to be more capable of achieving just that.

Prediction: TCU 37, Texas 30

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Bowl Projections 2014: Playoff Predictions, Odds and More Before Rivalry Week

It may seem like nothing is more important in the world of college football than the race for the College Football Playoff, but good luck suggesting that to the various fanbases across the country before Week 14.

After all, it’s rivalry week, and the only thing on the minds of Ohio State, Alabama, Oregon, Florida State and Mississippi State fans is beating Michigan, Auburn, Oregon State, Florida and Ole Miss, respectively. Bragging rights for the next 364 days are on the line, and college football legacies are defined by performances in these showdowns.

The larger picture will be waiting for the players and coaches in the aftermath, but let’s take a peek at it anyway. Here is a look at the latest playoff projections and odds from StatMilk and Odds Shark before mine. 

The national championship odds listed are courtesy of Odds Shark, as of Monday afternoon at 4 p.m. ET.

 

StatMilk and Odds Shark Playoff Projections and Odds

 

Scott Polacek Playoff Projections

Sugar Bowl: No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 4 Baylor

Rose Bowl: No. 2 Florida State vs. No. 3 Oregon 

Championship Bowl (in Arlington, Texas): TBD (semifinal winners)

 

Rivalry Week

Playoff contenders Ohio State, Alabama, Oregon, Florida State and Mississippi State are all favorites heading into their final regular-season games, but the cliche of “throw the records out” really does apply when a rivalry game is on tap.

After all, the heavily favored Buckeyes and Ducks beat overmatched Michigan and Oregon State squads by a combined two points last season. Motivations change and intensity increases in these annual showdowns, and the team with the better record or more talent doesn’t always have an easy go of things. 

What’s more, the pressure of the playoffs is a very real phenomenon, and the contenders will be the ones pressing in the fourth quarter if Saturday’s games come down to the final minutes. How they respond could be the difference between a playoff spot and just another bowl game.

From a historical standpoint, the rivalry between Ohio State and Michigan is typically included in the same category as showdowns between the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox and the Duke and North Carolina basketball teams. That intensity will be there in the Horseshoe again Saturday.

Head coach Urban Meyer certainly seemed to understand that during his weekly press conference

"I want our players to take part ownership of the program. This is not another game. This is The Game," he said.

The clash between Alabama and Auburn will represent a chance for revenge for the Crimson Tide after a 110-yard return of a missed field goal on the final play of last year’s game ended Alabama’s national title hopes and propelled Auburn into the game against Florida State.

Those Seminoles will take on Florida on Saturday, and one X-factor to watch will be how the Gators respond for Will Muschamp. It is their coach’s final regular-season game at the helm, and there could be even more motivation to send him out a winner than there already would be in a contest with the hated Seminoles.

Oregon State may be 5-6, but it has Sean Mannion directing the charge on offense. He is the Pac-12’s all-time leader in career passing yards and has a chance to shock an Oregon defense that has appeared vulnerable at times this season. 

Gina Mizell of The Oregonian sang Mannion’s praises recently, and that talent could be an issue for the Ducks:

One game fans of Ohio State, Baylor and TCU will watch very closely is the contest between Ole Miss and Mississippi State.

A once-promising season is all but over for the Rebels after three straight SEC losses, and ruining the title hopes for the Bulldogs is all they have left. If that were to happen, the race for the No. 4 seed in the College Football Playoff would be wide open. 

Embrace the chaos.

 

Follow me on Twitter:

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

LSU vs. Texas A&M: TV Info, Spread, Injury Updates, Game Time and More

Thursday marks the 53rd meeting in the LSU-Texas A&M rivalry. This historic series dates back to 1899 and is led 29-20-3 by LSU. This rivalry went on a hiatus following the 1995 season but was rekindled in 2011 when the Aggies were defeated by the Tigers in the Cotton Bowl. LSU has won the two meetings since.

This year, these teams may be the SEC's most enigmatic.

Texas A&M began the season with a 52-point scoring frenzy against South Carolina, but after dropping three straight to ranked conference opponents, the team fell out of the picture. However, a win against Auburn in early November finally earned the Aggies bowl eligibility. They enter Week 14 at 7-4.

LSU has much of the same story. The Tigers got off to a great start, defeating Wisconsin to begin their season. However, dropping games to Mississippi State and Auburn took the team out of College Football Playoff contention. LSU did take down Ole Miss in October but has since lost two consecutive contests to Alabama and Arkansas. The Tigers are 7-4 entering the final game of the regular season.

The history of this series says it all. These teams have been going at it for years, producing a bevy of memorable performances. We're poised to get another this time around.

 

Clash of Styles

There may not be two teams with greater differences in the entire SEC.

LSU is extremely defensive-minded and has been for quite some time. However, this year, the Tigers defense has been more crucial than ever due to the lack of the team's offensive efficiency.

Sophomore quarterback Anthony Jennings needs much more time to develop into a viable option under center. He hasn't thrown for more than 200 yards or more than one touchdown since LSU's first two games of the season.

The team has fared slightly better on the ground, as freshman running back Leonard Fournette leads the charge with 745 yards and seven touchdowns on the season, but he's only eclipsed the 100-yard mark three times this season. Luckily for the Tigers, Texas A&M doesn't feature too strong of a defense and is ranked 104th in the nation against the run.

This tweet from Glenn Guilbeau of USA Today sums up both teams' weaknesses:

On the flip side, the Aggies are all about offense. Although, they've had to put up points with two different quarterbacks at the helm this season. Kenny Hill began the season with a flourish, throwing for 511 yards and three touchdowns against South Carolina. However, he began to struggle later in the season and was benched in favor of Kyle Allen.

Allen's had his moments since he was named starter, the biggest of which came in a victory over Auburn. The quarterback threw for 277 yards, four touchdowns and one pick in that game, as the Aggies ran a very balanced attack.

Speaking of balanced attacks, that may be the only way around a superb LSU defense that's only allowing 16.4 points per game. A trio of ball-carriers featuring Tra Carson, Trey Williams and Brandon Williams will attempt to find a way to reach paydirt against a Tigers defense that's only allowed 12 rushing touchdowns this season.

 

Home Sweet Home

While these teams are very different, one factor could be even more prominent than their diverse styles of play. That would be home-field advantage.

The Aggies are 4-2 at Kyle Field after plenty of mixed results this season. They blew the doors off lesser opponents such as Lamar and Rice, were taken to overtime by Arkansas and were defeated by Ole Miss and Missouri. That last defeat was the most concerning.

Missouri came into College Station without an extremely potent rushing offense but still racked up a total of 335 yards and three touchdowns, averaging 6.8 yards per carry along the way. That's not good news for the Aggies, as the Tigers will be coming into town with a ground-and-pound mindset.

LSU is 1-2 on the road this season, and the results haven't been pretty. The Tigers just edged Florida by a three-point margin, notching their lone road win of the year; however, the other two featured bad losses at the hands of Auburn and Arkansas.

Much of this can be pegged on LSU's inability to establish its running game away from home. In Death Valley, the Tigers have been all over opposing defenses, averaging 235.1 rushing yards per game and scoring a total of 18 rushing touchdowns. It's been completely different on the road, as the team is only averaging 123 yards per game on the ground, scoring just four times.

Making matters worse, 14 of the team's 15 passing touchdowns this year came at home. Needless to say, an already sluggish Tigers offense is completely lethargic when out of its comfort zone.

 

When: Thursday, November 27

Where: Kyle Field in College Station, Texas

Time: 7:30 p.m. ET

Channel: ESPN

Live Stream: WatchESPN

Betting Lines (via Odds Shark):

  • Over/Under: 49.5
  • Spread: LSU -2.5

 

Team Injury Reports

Injury reports per The Sports Network, via USA Today.

 

Prediction

Despite the massive amount of differences between these two teams, they actually match up quite well. We should absolutely expect a low-scoring game, as the Aggies will struggle moving the ball against LSU's defense and the Tigers' road struggles on the offensive side of the ball will continue.

In contests like this, the upper hand generally goes to the team with the better defense. In this case, that would be LSU. Expect the Tigers to cause plenty of issues for Allen and Co., creating turnovers, winning the battle for field position and giving their offense short fields to work with.

The Aggies have some playmakers on the offensive side of the ball, and creating a big play isn't out of the question here. Texas A&M may get on the scoreboard due to its ability to take the top off a defense, but it can't count on that to defeat the Tigers.

Prediction: LSU 23, Texas A&M 17

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Pac-12 Football: Predicting the All-Conference 1st Team

With just one week remaining in the Pac-12 regular season, the all-conference teams are not only taking shape, but the majority of the spots are set in stone.

Arguably the second-best conference in college football, the Pac-12 will not only boast one of the strongest all-league teams, but many of the players will be up for and likely win postseason awards.

One such player, whom you might be able to guess, has a decent chance to bring the Heisman Trophy back out to the West Coast.

The offensive stars in this conference have become household names, but several young players on defense will threaten to reshape the league's identity in the years to come. All will be featured in the following slides, which lay out our projections of the Pac-12 All-Conference First Team.

 

All stats via CFBStats.com. The Pac-12 puts out an all-conference team that features two RBs and two WRs on offense, so we'll do the same with the projections. As for the defense, while there are many deserving candidates in the front seven, we're sticking with three DL and four LBs.

Begin Slideshow

UCLA Football: What the Bruins Should Be Thankful for in 2014

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, the prudent thing would be to speak about the things Jim Mora and the UCLA football team are thankful for. 

Sitting at 9-2, there's a real chance for the Bruins to potentially sneak into the final four of the inaugural College Football Playoff. 

There are multiple aspects that have helped get UCLA to this current spot. A gargantuan effort by a reserve quarterback was a potential turning point early in the season. Another big play by an embattled cornerback helped to seal a victory. 

Three players have immensely helped the Bruins in becoming a Top 10 team. Lastly, the head coach deserves a great deal of thanks. 

This piece will speak about what the UCLA Bruins should be thankful for in 2014.  

Begin Slideshow

College Football: Week 13 Recap, Game Attended and Pick Results

The College Football Playoff rankings should look similar to last week's after the top four teams came away with wins. Teams were also eliminated from winning what has been wild races in the Big Ten West and Pac-12 South Divisions.

It doesn’t seem to be as surprising anymore, as No. 3 Florida State escaped yet again with a 26-yard game-winning field goal by placekicker Roberto Aguayo to give the Seminoles a 20-17 victory. It was their fifth game this season that was decided by six points or less.

While there was drama in Tallahassee, nothing was bigger than UCLA’s statement 38-20 win over crosstown rival USC to keep itself in contention for the division title. Quarterback Brett Hundley threw for 326 yards, three touchdowns and one interception to lead the Bruins to their third straight win over the Trojans.

No. 15 Arizona also kept itself in the Pac-12 South Division discussion with a convincing 42-10 win at No. 17 Utah. A win at home in one of the biggest Territorial Cup games ever in the in-state rivalry against Arizona State on Friday, along with a UCLA loss, would give the Wildcats a berth in the Pac-12 Championship Game.

The Big Ten West Division will now come down to the Battle for Paul Bunyan’s Axe on Saturday with No. 25 Minnesota upsetting No. 23 Nebraska on the road by scoring 14 unanswered points to win 28-24. No. 16  Wisconsin also edged out Iowa on the road, 26-24, with help from Melvin Gordon’s 200 rushing yards and two touchdowns. The winner will face Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship Game at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis on Dec. 6.

Eighth-ranked Ole Miss became the second ranked team in a row to be shut out by now-bowl-eligible Arkansas 30-0 and was eliminated from winning the SEC West Division title.



Game Attended

Colorado 10 at No. 2 Oregon 44

The second-ranked Oregon Ducks continued their quest for the national championship on Saturday with a blowout 44-10 win at home against Colorado. Heisman front-runner quarterback Marcus Mariota had an impressive outing in what was likely his final game at Autzen Stadium.

Mariota was 24-of-32 for 323 yards and scored four total touchdowns, which gave him 42 total touchdowns on the year and helped break former USC quarterback Matt Barkley’s Pac-12 single-season record of 41 touchdowns. He also became the fifth quarterback in FBS history to throw for 9,000 yards and rush for 2,000 yards.

Another threat in the backfield against the Buffaloes was freshman running back Royce Freeman, who ran for 105 yards and two touchdowns. Freeman rushed for 20-yard and seven-yard touchdowns in the first half to help give the Ducks a convincing 20-0 lead early in the second quarter.

Freshman wide receiver Charles Nelson was a threat in the receiving corps as well, as he recorded three receptions for 62 yards and two touchdowns against a Colorado defense that heading into Saturday’s contest was surrendering an awful 38.6 points per game.

With a 34-point loss to Oregon, Colorado suffered its seventh straight loss of the season and fell to 0-8 in Pac-12 play. Running back Christian Powell led the offense with five carries for 51 yards against a Duck defense that held the Buffalo offense to only 226 total yards.

Oregon will face in-state rival Oregon State on the road in the Civil War on Saturday, prior to playing in the Pac-12 Championship Game on Dec. 5 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California.

Pick Results

Overall Record: 42-23

Week 13 Record: 3-2

Note: Team in bold indicates author’s pick



Prediction: Nebraska 35, Minnesota 24

Result: Minnesota 28, Nebraska 24


Prediction: Ole Miss 31, Arkansas 17

Result: Arkansas 30, Ole Miss 0


Prediction: Arizona 27, Utah 24

Result: Arizona 42, Utah 10


Prediction: Wisconsin 31, Iowa 13

Result: Wisconsin 26, Iowa 24


Prediction: UCLA 35, USC 31

Result: UCLA 38, USC 20

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Georgia Football: What the Bulldogs Should Be Thankful for in 2014

It’s Thanksgiving week, and it’s a time for families to get together and reflect on the things they are thankful for. It’s also a time where families can get together and watch college and professional football all day long.

The Georgia Bulldogs won’t be playing on Thanksgiving Day, but they will be preparing for a big Saturday game against in-state rival Georgia Tech. Both schools are 9-2, and there’s a chance both teams will be playing in their respective conference championships depending on the outcome of the Missouri-Arkansas game on Friday.

So the Bulldogs are fortunate to once again be in a position where they can win 10 games, beat Georgia Tech and go to the Georgia Dome next week.

But what are some of the other things the Bulldogs should be thankful for this season?

Begin Slideshow

South Carolina Gamecocks vs. Clemson Tigers Complete Game Preview

The Clemson Tigers and South Carolina Gamecocks will square off Saturday in another chapter of the storied rivalry. The Gamecocks—winners of five straight against Clemson—have been through a rough season, but a win Saturday would make the season a success.

The big question mark for Clemson will be whether quarterback Deshaun Watson will be able to play. He is still listed as day-to-day, and we probably won’t know much until late in the week.

This should be another great matchup, and I don’t see any scenario where this game doesn’t come down to a few plays in the fourth quarter.

Begin Slideshow

Virginia vs. Virginia Tech: Complete Game Preview

For the Virginia Tech Hokies and the Virginia Cavaliers, the 2014 college football season comes down to one game. The Hokies and Cavaliers have more on the line in this year's contest than they've had in years.

No, a spot in the ACC Championship Game is not up for grabs. Instead, both schools, currently at 5-6 on the season, need one more victory to become bowl-eligible. For embattled Virginia head coach Mike London, it could mean saving his job. 

The Hokies are looking to extend their bowl streak to 22 years with a win over the Hoos.

In past years, the winner of this game was almost a foregone conclusion, with Tech winning the past 10 meetings and 14 of the last 15 overall. However, Tech's punchless offense combined with UVA's strong defense make this year's meeting different.

The Cavaliers are coming off one of the most impressive wins of the London era with last week's dismantling of Miami in Charlottesville. Meanwhile, Tech will try to bounce back from one of the more embarrassing performances of Frank Beamer's 28 years in charge. The Hokies lost to Wake Forest in double overtime in a game that was scoreless at the end of regulation.

  • When: Friday, November 28, 2014
  • Where: Lane Stadium, Blacksburg, Virginia
  • Time: 8 p.m. ET
  • TV: ESPN
  • Radio: Virginia Tech IMG Sports Network. Here is a complete list of stations by area.
  • Spread: The Cavaliers are currently one-point favorites, via Odds Shark.

Begin Slideshow

Nebraska Football: Fans Should Be Thankful for Clarity from Minnesota Loss

With the Thanksgiving holiday approaching, Nebraska fans will be looking hard for something about which to be thankful.

In the course of seven days, Nebraska fans saw their Cornhuskers go from an 8-1 team on the periphery of the College Football Playoff to (at best) the third-best team in the Big Ten West. In the process, they saw Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon set the FBS all-time record for rushing yards in one game—needing only three quarters to do so—and saw less-than-fleet Minnesota quarterback Mitch Leidner gash the Blackshirts for 133 yards on the ground.

So what can Nebraska fans be thankful for as they sit down to their turkey and trimmings?

Think about what would have happened if Jordan Westerkamp had hauled in Tommy Armstrong's across-the-field throw for a touchdown to salvage an ugly win against the Gophers. Nebraska would have gone to Iowa City at 9-2 with a chance to win the B1G West with help. The struggles of 2014 would have been seen as a blip rather than evidence of the program's level.

Yes, the struggles of 2014, not just the past week. Remember, this is the same Nebraska squad that needed a miracle play from Ameer Abdullah to avoid defeat at home against McNeese State of the FCS. It's the same Nebraska squad that was down 27-3 against Michigan State going into the fourth quarter before staging a furious comeback—fueled by a punt return and a short drive led by backup quarterback Ryker Fyfe.

A win over Minnesota on Saturday—driven by a broken play, a blocked field goal and a last-minute touchdown drive—would have allowed Nebraska to paper over the cracks for another year and allowed fans to tell themselves their team was something it was not: a contender.

In seven years, Bo Pelini's Nebraska teams have been to three conference title games. In 2009, a Ndamukong Suh-led Nebraska squad was one second away from beating Texas. In 2010, a freshman Taylor Martinez threw an interception that likely turned the tide in Oklahoma's 20-13 victory.

And in 2012—well, Nebraska fans all remember what a 7-5 Wisconsin squad that finished third in the Leaders Division and went to Indianapolis only due to sanctions levied against Ohio State and Penn State did to that crew of Cornhuskers.

Two years removed from that title game, and Nebraska is on track (if oddsmakers are to be believed) for Pelini's seventh four-loss campaign in seven seasons.

As a smart and particularly handsome analyst noted after Wisconsin's 59-24 mauling of Nebraska in Madison, a Nebraska program ending the season at 10-2 or 9-3 would be hard-pressed to dismiss Pelini even though that record really would not be indicative of whether Nebraska was a contender to win a division title. The record would mask the true state of the program under Pelini at the end of the 2014 season.

But with a loss to Minnesota, the second loss on the bounce against the Gophers? With the oddsmakers favoring Nebraska to drop a second straight to Iowa, producing this year's version of a four-loss season with a three-game losing streak?

Clarity. The loss to Minnesota provides clarity to anyone observing the Nebraska program as to what it is.

The question about what to do, of course, is open. Pelini thinks his program is on the right track and on the verge of a breakthrough season. Pelini takes care of his players, runs a clean program and gets his teams to bowl games each year. His quote after the Wisconsin game, via Mitch Sherman of ESPN.com, that "a lot of programs across the country would die to have won the amount of football games we've won" is accurate.

Of course, most programs around the country don't have the investment in football, the tradition, resources or fanbase support Nebraska provides, but that's another story.

The bottom line is that there are a lot of good reasons to retain Pelini's services as Nebraska's head coach, either positive (his winning record, his recruiting, the program he runs) or negative (the cost of a firing, the trauma to the fanbase and the fear of the unknown with a new coach).

But at least after the Minnesota loss, those pros and cons can be debated by the Nebraska fanbase—and ultimately by athletic director Shawn Eichorst—with a clear perspective as to where Nebraska's football program currently lies without a deceptive and unrepresentative win-loss record concealing the blemishes.

Clarity. If you're looking for something to be thankful for about Nebraska football this holiday season, be thankful for clarity.

For a different look at Nebraska football, check out The Double Extra Point.

Or you can use the Twitter machine to follow @DblExtraPoint.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

College Football Rankings 2014: Power Ranking All 128 Teams for Week 14

This past weekend of college football won't go down as the greatest in the sport's history, but it was still one that gave us plenty of rankings-altering results. Wins, losses, good performances and bad led to shake-ups all over the Bleacher Report power rankings.

These rankings are comprised of an average of five ratings: The Associated Press media and Amway Coaches polls, Bleacher Report's Top 25, ratings guru Jeff Sagarin's computer ratings and my personal ranking.

Take a look at how the 128 FBS teams are ranked heading into Week 14 and then give us your take in the comments section.

Begin Slideshow

5-Star UCLA Commit Trying to Lure These Other Blue-Chip Recruits to Westwood

On Sunday, Keisean Lucier-South became the latest high-profile prospect to pledge to UCLA and believes there's plenty of opportunities for further Bruins success as national signing day nears.

The Southern California defensive end has a few particular targets in mind who could further elevate a group that already includes fellow 5-star Josh Rosen and top-ranked tight end Aliz'e Jones. Lucier-South, rated second nationally among weak-side defensive ends, mentioned several players he'd like to see land in Westwood with him during a post-commitment conversation.

"This UCLA class has a lot of really good players in it already, but there are some guys out there who make it even more special," Lucier-South told Bleacher Report.

The Bruins currently hold 16 commitments in a class that rates 13th nationally in 247Sports' composite rankings. Here's a look at undecided recruits who've caught the attention of Lucier-South.

 

Wide receivers Ryan Newsome and Christian Kirk

These Southwest standouts spent official visits at UCLA in October and present game-changing skill sets along the offensive perimeter. With a quarterback of Rosen's caliber already in place, expect the Bruins to land at least one more premier pass-catcher.

"Newsome and Kirk are playmakers who can challenge the defense." Lucier-South said. "They are both big-time receivers."

Kirk, a 5'10", 191-pound Arizona product, has eclipsed 1,000 receiving yards during each of the past three seasons. He's also over 1,000 rushing yards this year for the first time in his high school career and has 39 total offensive touchdowns, per MaxPreps.

Rosen lauded Kirk's abilities this summer at The Opening, an elite, invite-only showcase held at Nike's world headquarters.

"Christian has the ability to break any play at any time as long as the ball touches his hands," he said. "The idea behind the spread offense is to get athletes in space and create matchups that you like with one player against another. He is definitely a guy who can beat just about anyone. You like his chances in those situations."

Newsome, viewed among the nation's top weapons in the slot, is a serious threat on special teams. The Texas star set a national record with seven punt returns for touchdowns in 2013.

 

Defensive tackle Rasheem Green

Green, another Southern California defender, has a similar group of Pac-12 suitors to Lucier-South. Oregon, UCLA and USC are top options, and he also paid a visit to Miami earlier this month.

The 6'5", 275-pound player is incredibly explosive for an interior lineman. He recorded 23 tackles for loss through the first 10 games of his senior season and has 15.5 sacks since 2013, per MaxPreps.

"Green is a great talent who I think would fit in really well with UCLA's defensive line," Lucier-South said. "He's a big guy who can rush the passer from inside."

A tandem of Green and Lucier-South could give Pac-12 quarterbacks nightmares for years to come.

 

Linebacker Osa Masina

The 6'4", 230-pound hybrid defender is the top-rated prospect in Utah and could fill a variety of roles in college. Much like Lucier-South, he is capable of wreaking havoc as a pass-rusher with his hand in the dirt or from an upright position.

"He's just a really good all-around linebacker and a versatile player," Lucier-South said. "He can cover tight ends and receivers in the slot or rush the passer. Not many linebackers can do all those things so well."

Masina is a rare athlete who thrives on both sides of the ball for Brighton High School. Through 12 games as a senior, he has nearly 800 offensive yards, 10 touchdowns, 97 tackles and 10 sacks, per MaxPreps.

He visited UCLA in early October and watched the Bruins face Utah alongside Lucier-South, who detailed some aspects of their interaction.

“I spent a lot of time talking with Osa at the UCLA game," he said. "We have a lot in common because we can both play linebacker or defensive end. The two of us could do a lot of damage together if it works out that way.”

Aside from the Bruins, Masina is also considering Arizona State, Utah and USC.

 

Defensive back Iman Marshall

Marshall, rated the nation's top cornerback in 247Sports' composite rankings, could anchor the Bruins' defensive backfield while Lucier-Smith does damage up front. The 6'1", 190-pound playmaker is coveted by fellow California programs USC and Stanford, while LSU, Notre Dame, Michigan, Florida State and Oklahoma are expected to receive official visits.

"Biggie is a shutdown corner," Lucier-Smith said. "I have a lot of respect for the way he plays."

Rosen is another Bruins commit who identified Marshall as a must-have prospect at The Opening.

"He definitely challenges you," the heralded quarterback said. "It forces you to bring your best on each and every play. You can't afford to make a mistake."

Rosen and Lucier-Smith both hope he ends up causing trouble for Bruins opponents.

 

Quotes obtained firsthand by Bleacher Report national recruiting columnist Tyler Donohue unless otherwise noted.

Recruit ratings courtesy of 247Sports.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

UCLA Is Your New Playoff Darkhorse

UCLA football players are using eye black as war paint, coach Jim Mora is using language at pep rallies that has to be censored and the team just outmuscled its usual bully, USC. What on earth is happening with laid-back, soft, second-fiddle-in-the-sun UCLA football?    

The Bruins are clearly one of the four best college football teams in the country right now. Better than Florida State. Better than Mississippi State. Maybe better than anyone. They're making a late run like we usually see and love with March Madness. When the College Football Playoff rankings come out Tuesday, UCLA figures to be ranked no higher than 7 or 8.

It might be the new darkhorse for getting one of the four spots in the playoff, but because it took a while for the team to develop this far, it is a darkhorse at best.

The question for the playoff selection committee is whether it's supposed to pick the four teams with best body of work for the whole season, or just the four best teams on Dec. 7, the day the regular season ends.

There is a difference.

For all the chatter this year about the playoff and who belongs, how have we gotten this far without anyone mentioning UCLA? Actually, there was a little talk earlier, until they lost to Utah and Oregon at home.

Now, Mora's team has rounded perfectly into his vision, but is there room for a team like that in the playoff? There should be. But there has always been the feeling that a deserving team or two is going to be left out of this playoff.

(That's why it should be an eight-team field, with the winners of the top five conferences guaranteed a spot. That way teams can get better as the year goes on and not be punished for finding their footing early on.)

Mora has gotten UCLA here by focusing on toughness, the opposite of UCLA's image. USC was always the one beating up on UCLA. Yes, this past week, we saw the war paint and the fired-up language from Mora.

But I got to see another toughness-building ritual first hand at a team practice in the summer of 2013. When practice ended, the players walked off, except for the kicking team, which lined up a 52-yard field goal attempt for kicker Ka'imi Fairbairn. It was a sunny day, but one of the assistant coaches stood near the line of scrimmage with two spray bottles, bobbing and weaving while squirting water in Fairbairn's face during the kick.

The kick was good, and Fairbairn explained a few minutes later that that's how practice ended every day, with him making a 52-yarder, the distance he had missed in the rain in the final minutes of the 2012 Pac-12 title game. Sometimes, people sprayed stuff at him, sometimes threw stuff at him, sometimes bumped him.

It was all part of Mora's toughening-up of soft UCLA. Even the kicker wasn't exempt.

"We're a physical football team," Mora said in his postgame press conference. "UCLA is a physical team. We take pride in the way we play."

It is trendy in L.A. to say that UCLA now owns the town. Mora said it last year. And after the game Saturday, quarterback Brett Hundley told reporters: 

The key word there was "stomp." I'm not sure UCLA really owns the town yet; it takes a long time to make a change that big stick. Kids grow up in L.A. wanting to play for USC. But Mora, in his third year at UCLA, has beaten USC three times in a row.

And this win over USC carried extra meaning for UCLA, not only because it showed that the offensive line has developed from early in the year, and Hundley has calmed down and the defensive front was finally all over a quarterback, sacking USC's Cody Kessler six times.

It was because UCLA was so physically dominating. And doing that to USC was the breakthrough UCLA needed nationally.

But is it too late to get into the playoff? We can't just forget two losses. None of the other contenders has more than one, unless you count Georgia as a contender.

The truth about this season, though, is that there is no dominant team. Some team was going to have to emerge and grow into a national champion. Maybe that's Alabama, but it doesn't seem right that it had to be someone who was already a top team in the first few weeks of the season.

UCLA has played the nation's ninth-toughest schedule, according to the Sagarin ratings. It has wins over Arizona, Arizona State, USC and Texas. If it beats Stanford on Friday and Oregon in the Pac-12 title game, then it will deserve a spot.

The committee has been ranking UCLA higher than most people would have. Give them credit: They have seen something others have missed. But the math is going to be hard for UCLA to get past. It might need Ohio State to lose the Big Ten title game, Florida State to lose to Florida, maybe even Baylor to lose to Kansas State.

Mora said the win over USC "sets us up to keep chasing our dreams."

He was talking about the Pac-12 title. But with a four-team playoff, one of the best teams in the nation shouldn't have to stop dreaming there.

 

Greg Couch covers college football for Bleacher Report. He also writes for The New York Times and was formerly a scribe for FoxSports.com and the Chicago Sun-Times. Follow him on Twitter @gregcouch.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

5-Star Keisean Lucier-South Reveals Why He Chose UCLA over USC, Michigan, Others

Keisean Lucier-South provided a pregame lift before one of the Bruins' biggest matchups of the year Saturday when he committed to UCLA. The 5-star Southern California defender decided to end a nationwide recruitment during his latest trip to campus:

The 6'5", 225-pound Orange Lutheran High School senior unveiled his intentions shortly before UCLA hosted USC. An impassioned pursuit finally paid off for the Bruins.

"I felt like the time was right to make a decision and commit to the program," Lucier-South told Bleacher Report. "They've been recruiting me for two years now, and we've built a relationship that I'm comfortable with. I'm excited to be a Bruin."

He revealed the decision privately Wednesday during a family gathering. UCLA and the media didn't find out until three days later.

However, Bruins coaches were still able to relive the excitement of his initial announcement.

"My stepmom actually filmed me explaining the decision to my family on Wednesday," Lucier-South said.

He first played the video for defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich. Head coach Jim Mora then got a peek and reacted accordingly.

"Coach Mora gave me a big hug right away and said he was really happy that I decided to join the team," Lucier-South said. "They were all pumped up about me becoming part of the family."

That close-knit relationship between him and the Bruins staff set the stage for his pledge. Lucier-South cited comfort and potential as motivating factors.

"Coach Ulbrich has been in communication with me constantly since I was a sophomore," he said. "It means a lot to have that trust and understanding when you're coming into a program for the next four years. I think this team is definitely moving in the right direction."

Lucier-South, rated second nationally among weak-side defensive ends and 23rd overall in 247Sports' composite rankings, enjoyed a productive career as an upperclassman. He tallied 85 tackles and 17 sacks during the past two seasons, per MaxPreps.

"I have a better understanding of the game and how to handle blocking schemes than ever before," Lucier-South said. "I was double-teamed and triple-teamed all season, which made me a better player. My pass-rushing moves are coming along, and there's a lot of things I'm working on to prepare for competition in college."

He adds to a class that's now listed 13th nationally in 247Sports' composite rankings and includes No. 1 quarterback prospect Josh Rosen, who Lucier-South competed against for three seasons in high school.

"I hated playing Josh these past few years," he said. "He's the best quarterback I've ever faced, and I've gone up against some good ones. I'm glad he's on my side now."

Lucier-South celebrated his decision by taking in a seat in the Rose Bowl for one of America's most storied college football rivalries. The Bruins defeated visiting USC for a third straight season.

"It was my first time attending a UCLA-USC game live, so that meant a lot," he said. "I felt so excited to be a Bruin that I just wanted to get on that field Saturday to help the team. Obviously I couldn't, but I'm ready to be a part of the rivalry starting next year."

USC made a late push for Lucier-South after not showing substantial interest during the majority of his recruitment. The Trojans' efforts elevated in recent months, including an in-person appearance from head coach Steve Sarkisian at one of his games.

“I thought USC wasn’t really interested in me because they just didn't recruit me much," Lucier-South said last month. "Honestly, that was pretty disappointing because I grew up watching the team and have a lot of good memories and respect for the program. It blew me away when Coach Sark showed up to my game, and it showed me how much they actually care about me."

Still, late momentum wasn't enough to carry USC past UCLA in this pursuit.

The coveted defender admits the toughest part was telling other programs he wasn't going to join them. His past official visits included Michigan, Oregon and Oklahoma.

"That definitely wasn't easy," Lucier-South said. "I've been able to become close with a lot of great coaches, and I understand how much they hoped I'd be a part of their teams in the future. At the end of the day, I had to do what felt right for me, and it was clear that was UCLA."

 

Quotes obtained firsthand by Bleacher Report national recruiting columnist Tyler Donohue.

Recruit ratings courtesy of 247Sports.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

How Arkansas Will Beat Missouri and Keep Georgia's Playoff Dream Alive

Missouri is in the driver's seat for the SEC East title, but the Georgia Bulldogs are lying in the weeds waiting for a Tigers loss. This puts a much greater emphasis on the Arkansas vs. Missouri matchup this coming week, as it may decide the SEC East representative. 

Bleacher Report College Football Analysts Michael Felder and Barrett Sallee explain why they think the Georgia Bulldogs will represent the East in the SEC Championship.

Who will represent the SEC East in the championship game?

Watch the video and let us know!

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Eric LeGrand Discusses HBO's State of Play in Bleacher Report Exclusive

On Oct. 16, 2010, Eric LeGrand's life changed forever. A promising defensive lineman at Rutgers, LeGrand was serving on the kick coverage team when he attempted to make a seemingly innocuous tackle on Army return man Malcolm Brown.  

Lowering his head as he had so many times, LeGrand connected with Brown's shoulder and sent him spinning to the ground. It would be his last collegiate tackle.

The torque of the hit caused LeGrand to suffer fractures to his C3-C4 vertebrae, paralyzing him from the neck down. Doctors gave him almost no chance he'd walk again, and for most of his early hospital stay he was forced to breathe from a ventilator. 

More than four years removed from his life-changing injury, LeGrand now serves as inspiration for millions. Through arduous rehabilitation and the support of family, friends and former teammates, LeGrand regained movement in his shoulders and sensation through his entire body. In his recovery he's become a renowned sports figure, a spokesperson for multinational brands and one of the leaders working on a cure for paralysis. 

In 2012, he was awarded the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance, signed an honorary contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and was named the most influential person in New Jersey sports by The Star-Ledger. In 2013, his No. 52 was retired by Rutgers University—the first number ever retired by the program. He's started a charity, written a book and began a broadcasting career all by the age of 24. 

Now LeGrand can add documentary subject to his ever-growing list of accomplishments. 

LeGrand is one of two focuses in State of Play: Broken, which debuts Tuesday night (10 p.m. ET) on HBO. The second part of a four-documentary series, Broken tells the stories of LeGrand and mountain biker Steve Shope, a childhood friend of director Peter Berg who was paralyzed while riding.

The film seeks to get a better understanding of their respective lives, how they deal with their paralysis on a day-to-day basis and the effect their injuries have had on the people closest to them. LeGrand discussed State of Play, his charity work and more in a one-on-one interview with Bleacher Report on Monday. 

 

B/R:  I wanted to start off talking a little bit about the film. Can you give a brief synopsis on how the story unfolds from your perspective, and what made you want to get involved with the project?

Eric LeGrand: It started when I met Peter Berg on the Lower East Side about two years ago. He told me he wanted to do a documentary with one of his buddies [Steve Shope] and I about how people are living with paralysis. And it’s not just the positive stories, he wants to see the insides of it—the things people don’t see behind the scenes. 

When you see the film, you’re going to see the struggles of this injury and what people go through. You can see how someone’s life can change on the drop of the dime. Like Steve, he’s older than me, married with kids. Then there’s me, a younger kid with my dreams of going to the NFL. It doesn’t discriminate—it can happen to anybody at any time.

I wanted to get that out there and have people see and have a feel for [the realities of paralysis]. And to not look at people in a wheelchair and see them as sickly or diseased from an injury.

 

B/R: So, you wanted to give them a look at the downsides, instead of what they see on television? At a behind-the-scenes look at the realities?

EL: Yeah, when you see my story on TV it’s all the positive, inspirational stuff. It’s great, but I want people to see the behind-the-scenes stuff. How do I live with this injury on a day-to-day basis? How do I go about my life? Who are the people that are helping me that you don’t see? What kind of struggles do I go through on the night? Like waking up my mom to come scratch for me. Or when my mom needs a break, who is bringing me around?

Seeing how a community comes together—this injury really shows the behind-the-scenes stuff that people never get to see. They’re usually the pieces that get left out.

 

B/R: Peter Berg, who collaborated with HBO on this project, has done extensive work in sports—most notably with Friday Night Lights and ESPN’s 30 for 30. Did his resume play any factor in you getting involved?

EL: I’m not gonna lie to you, I didn’t know who Peter Berg was when I first met him. He came up to me at a pizzeria on the Lower East Side and was like, "Hey, are you Eric LeGrand?" And I’m thinking maybe he’s one of my supporters or fans who just wanted to say hello. Then my friend goes, "You’re the director of Friday Night Lights?" And I was like "Wait, what?" [laughs]

After that, we stayed in touch and became close friends. Then he came up with this idea and I was all for it.

 

B/R: A lot of people know your story, but I don’t think nearly as many are aware of Steve Shope’s. Did you know of Steve before filming began? And how well did you get to know him throughout the process?

EL: I had no idea who Steve was. He was one of Berg’s high school friends. He had this paralyzing injury too—it just shows you how it goes with this injury. It can happen to anybody, and it changes people’s lives.

I had no idea who Steve Shope was before I got to meet him working with Peter Berg. We consider ourselves a family you don’t want to be a part of. Once you’re in it, you’re in it. You have each other’s backs and reach out whenever you need support. 

 

B/R: So filming was a bonding experience?

EL: It was. You get to see different sides of how people go through paralysis. He had a career, he had a daughter and son in college, a wife—and then he has to handle that now. Then you look at myself, a college kid in my junior year working hard to get to the NFL and my life instantly changes.

Two totally different sides, and you get to see the similarities and differences of the injury from people’s lives. 

 

Q: In the aftermath of your injury, you went through countless hours of rehabilitation. Stuff that most people couldn’t even imagine. How did you make your way through and keep battling? Was there anyone or anything in particular who helped push you?

EL: My support system has been tremendous. They’ve guided me and pushed me through this whole thing. All the people I’ve been able to touch by just being the person I am keeps me motivated. It makes me take this as a responsibility. I gotta get better, I can’t let all these people down, I can’t give up on them. 

 

B/R: I know you and Coach (Greg) Schiano have a special relationship. You (symbolically) signed a contract with the Buccaneers when he was with the team in 2012. What was the best moment of that whirlwind?

EL: That day I got to sign the contract was incredible, but it was the first time I actually got to do down there and address the team in the locker room. I got people like Dallas Clark, who I watched catch passes from Peyton Manning my whole life who’s now on my favorite team, and he’s sitting in the front row smiling listening to my story. Then talking to Gerald McCoy down there.

They brought me in like I was part of the family. I felt like one of the players like I was at Rutgers. I felt that about the team in Tampa Bay too. All these guys I’ve seen play before and been looking up to, and I get to share my story with them? And they want to hear every part of it. You could hear a pin drop in there.

That was probably the most amazing part. 

 

B/R: It was probably a relief to be treated like part of the team again. 

EL: Exactly. Exchanging numbers with them, joking around with locker room talk, sharing stories from when I was in college, from when they were in college. It was incredible. 

 

B/R: One of the things I like about the State of Play series is that it takes micro stories and applies them to macro issues. Yours and Steve’s stories can be applicable to anyone fighting through a rough time in their life. How do you approach being a role model to so many—does it ever get rough?

EL: It comes with the territory. That’s the best thing about it. I’m just living the life the only way I know how to, and if people look up to me that’s even better because it helps them. Sometimes people think I need to put on a show for everyone, but no. I’m not going to put on a show for anyone. This is who I am. I’m happy, and if you look up to me that’s great. 

 

B/R: I’m sure people come up to you all the time with stories of their travails. Are there any of them that stick out in your mind at all?

EL: There are a bunch of stories that I’ve gotten over the years. But I was actually just talking about [this story].

I do radio shows here on Monday nights. It was early in the season, and I was talking about Alabama—talking down about them, like they’re not the old Alabama team. Right after that, we get a call from Alabama. I’m just thinking, "Oh, someone’s about to really rip me. Someone’s about to go in on me." [Laughs]

It was actually someone who comes on the line and goes, "Mr. Eric, I have two kids who are six and seven now—I want to tell you a story about my wife who had a cancerous tumor on her head." He said [his family] was praying for me through this whole injury process and they read my book. Then his wife found a cancerous tumor on her brain, and from there she started having seizures before she eventually had a stroke.

Throughout this whole year period, her kids were telling her, "You gotta work hard like Mr. Eric, does. Eric wouldn’t give up, Mom. You can’t give up."

Now she’s living cancer free. She’s learned how to walk again, not having seizures anymore. I’m like, “Wow.” It shows I’m really making a difference in this world. Some people from a small town in Alabama calling me up and telling me that story. I have no idea who these people are, but they’re following my story.

I had no idea. It made me think I must be doing something right. It’s an amazing story. 

 

B/R: I also wanted to touch on another macro issue: safety in football. One of the later State of Play episodes will examine whether football leagues are doing enough to keep their players safe. Berg wrote a piece in Time in September saying he will no longer allow his son to play football. Do you have any thoughts on that, and do you think enough safety precautions are being taken in football?

EL: I think they’re doing a great job with the safety precautions. Football is a dangerous game. Every person who straps up his helmet knows the risk he takes. It’s unfortunate when an injury happens, but we all know the risks.

I believe they’re doing a great job. Changing the game up, making different rules and penalties. I can’t commend them any more about it—and this is coming from someone who’s been paralyzed from the game. I knew the risks I was taking going out there.

You can’t change the game of football too much. It’s a violent game. You have big bodies flying around at full speed making full contact with each other. They’re doing a great job already, and I think they’re going to continue to. 

 

B/R: What will State of Play show about Eric LeGrand that people wouldn’t necessarily know before watching?

EL: Mainly working with Team LeGrand and the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation. How we’re trying to raise money to find a cure for paralysis and how we help people with their quality of life. 

You’ll see me in the movie walking on the NeuroRecovery Network treadmill, which we want to get into more rehab centers across the country so that people can get the same benefits that I have. [Editor’s note: The NeuroRecovery Network treadmill is a system that “re-teaches the body how to walk using manual assistance by specially-trained physical therapists,” according to Team LeGrand’s website.]

You’ll get to see a whole aspect on how I work with my foundation, but also how I live my life outside when I’m working for the foundation or in therapy or in broadcasting. How I enjoy myself and go out to the club with my friends. Or I go to a football game. 

You’re going to see the fun side of Eric, too. I’m excited to get it out there. 

 

Follow Tyler Conway (@tylerconway22) on Twitter

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

5-Star LB Malik Jefferson Reveals Top 7: Where Does He Fit Best?

Given his standing as the nation's top outside linebacker prospect in the 2015 class, it's no surprise that Malik Jefferson has a bevy of colleges who are pursuing him in hopes of landing his commitment.

However, the 5-star Texas standout trimmed his list of suitors to a group of seven lucky schools on Monday. 

Four in-state Big 12 powers—Baylor, TCU, Texas and Texas A&M—are still in the mix as well as out-of-state titans LSU, Oklahoma and UCLA.

But which school amongst his final group will provide the 6’3”, 215-pounder with the best fit at the next level?

 

7. Baylor

Baylor isn’t exactly known for playing dominating defense, but most fans would probably be shocked to learn that the Bears rank 18th nationally in total defense, per CFBstats.com.

That’s the second-highest rating among the group of Jefferson’s final seven schools.

Bears defensive coordinator Phil Bennett operates out of a base 4-2-5 scheme, and Jefferson could be in line to replace senior middle linebacker and leading tackler Bryce Hager, should he elect to head to Waco.

While Jefferson is versatile enough to play in the middle, he seems ideally suited to play as an outside linebacker that wreaks havoc off the edge or operate in space against speedy backs and receivers.

Although the Bears have some positives, the question about his fit in the scheme and the fact that he hasn’t visited the Bears campus since March leaves Art Briles and his staff with little traction in the race to land Jefferson.

 

6. TCU

Like Baylor, Gary Patterson and the Horned Frogs use a base 4-2-5 scheme on defense.

With seniors currently manning both of those linebacker positions, adding a potential game-changer such as Jefferson could give the defense a huge boost next fall.

Per Taylor Hamm of GigEm247, Jefferson visited TCU last month for its win over Texas Tech. He was also in attendance for the Horned Frogs' huge win over Oklahoma in early October.

The Horned Frogs have positioned themselves to earn a seat at the table, but it remains to be seen whether they have done enough to be a serious threat to pull the state’s top-rated defensive recruit.

 

5. LSU

Les Miles and the LSU Tigers are another out-of-state program that has enjoyed success in pulling studs out of the state of Texas on an annual basis.

Jefferson was one of many blue chips in attendance for LSU’s game against Alabama earlier this month. 

Per Shea Dixon of Geaux247 (subscription required), the Tigers are putting a great deal of importance on landing Jefferson, as he could possibly be the only linebacker brought in for the 2015 cycle.

“They don’t have a linebacker committed in my class, so they thought it was a good idea to actually recruit me," Jefferson said. "I really enjoyed it and I liked what they had to sell to me. It’s a great program, great coaches, great players as well.”

Additionally, both of the Tigers starters at outside linebackers are juniors, which presents Jefferson with an intriguing opportunity to see the field early.

 

4. UCLA

One of the surprises in Jefferson’s top list of schools is UCLA. 

With standout linebackers such as Myles Jack and Eric Kendricks starring as key cogs in the middle of the Bruins' 3-4 defense, Jefferson has all of the necessary tools to become the next freakish linebacker to star for that unit.

The Bruins offered him in February, and he’s yet to take a trip to visit Westwood.

Jefferson currently plans to announce his commitment on Dec. 19, a date that is rapidly approaching, with teammate and 4-star athlete DeAndre McNeal.

As Horns247 notes (subscription required), Jefferson could potentially take a visit to Los Angeles in either the first or second week of December.

But those plans have still yet to be finalized, which makes it hard to count the Bruins as a serious contender to land the talented playmaker. 

 

3. Oklahoma

Jefferson has a skill set that resembles current Oklahoma star linebacker Eric Striker.

Should Striker elect to test the NFL draft waters, Jefferson—who, per Student Sports, ran a blistering time of 4.49 seconds during SPARQ testing at The Opening this summer—is an ideal candidate to replace him.

One thing that could bode well for the Sooners is the fact that they were the first school of his final group to offer him a scholarship back in January 2013.

Jefferson took a visit to Norman in October, which strengthens the chances Bob Stoops and his staff have at pulling another stud out of the Lone Star State.

 

2. Texas A&M

From the beginning of his recruitment, one of the perceived front-runners in the Jefferson sweepstakes has been Texas A&M.

Given the Aggies' significant need to add impact talents on that side of the ball, Jefferson would give Kevin Sumlin’s squad another potential game-breaking talent to pair with freshman sensation Myles Garrett.

The Aggies have a scheme suitable for Jefferson, and while the depth chart isn’t as favorable as it is with some of his other favorites, there’s nothing to indicate that he couldn’t come in and earn significant playing time next fall.

Another factor to keep in mind with the Aggies is the future of defensive coordinator Mark Snyder—which appears to be tenuous at best.

Regardless, given Sumlin’s penchant for luring top talent to College Station in recent years, Jefferson’s pledge would be another signal that the Aggies program is built for long-term success.

 

1. Texas

It’s clear that Jefferson has identified a strong group of schools that merge great opportunities to see the field early with a decent track record of producing elite defenders.

However, Charlie Strong and the Texas Longhorns may provide the best of both worlds for Jefferson.

Strong has strengthened his reputation as one of college football's top defensive minds since he arrived in Austin. Last year, Texas ranked No. 69 nationally in total defense. Through 11 games, Strong's defense has improved that number to No. 28 nationally, per CFBstats.com.

As Ourlads illustrates, the Longhorns are scheduled to return only three of their top seven linebackers next season—with two of those being seniors. 

With a clear need at his position, and the chance to play for a noted defensive mind such as Strong, Texas gives Jefferson the best opportunity to make an early impact and reach his full potential at the college level.

 

Sanjay Kirpalani is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports. 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Ohio State Buckeyes vs. Michigan Wolverines Complete Game Preview

Despite having already clinched its spot in the Big Ten Championship Game, the Ohio State football team shouldn't have any trouble focusing on its final game of the regular season. "The Game," as it's called in Columbus and Ann Arbor, is arguably the greatest rivalry in all of college sports, one which Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer respects deeply.

"We don't worry above and beyond this week," Meyer said following Ohio State's 42-27 Big Ten East-clinching win over Indiana last Saturday. "We know the history of this game. Regardless of records or anything, the most motivated, most prepared team will win this next game that's this rivalry. I know this rivalry. And the most prepared team, most focused team will win this game."

The records seemed to go out the window a year ago, when the 7-4 Wolverines came within a two-point conversion of ending their rivals' national championship hopes. The stakes are similar this year with the Buckeyes fighting for a playoff spot and 5-6 Michigan attempting to play the role of spoiler.

In what could very well be the final game of Brady Hoke's tenure as the Wolverines' head coach, his team will have the opportunity to send him off on a high note, while Ohio State is hoping to maintain the momentum that it's found during its now nine-game winning streak.

Will the Buckeyes do just that, or will Michigan hand Meyer his first loss as a head coach in The Game? We'll find out on Saturday. But until then, here's everything you need to know about the 110th meeting between Ohio State and Michigan:

Date: Saturday, Nov. 29

Time: 12 p.m. ET

Place: Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio

TV: ABC

Radio:Ohio State Football Radio Network, Michigan Sports Network

Spread: Ohio State (-20), via Odds Shark

Begin Slideshow

Notre Dame's 2015 Class Makes Irish Playoff Contender for Years to Come

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish may be in the midst of a late-season meltdown, but there is help on the way. Brian Kelly and the Irish are planning to bring in some top talent. 

Bleacher Report College Football Analyst Michael Felder breaks down some of the key recruits who will be calling South Bend home. 

Will these recruits be difference-makers for the Irish?

Watch the video and let us know! 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

FAMU Band Forms 'But That's None of My Business' Meme During Halftime Routine

Florida A&M has a killer marching band, but that's mostly none of our business.

The acclaimed band took the field Saturday for the Florida Classic game against Bethune-Cookman. It stuck to a mix of classic and new hits, and at one point, it formed the Kermit "But That's None of My Business" meme (NSFW language) for reasons we cannot know and don't matter in the first place.

Deadspin's Timothy Burke spotted video of the routine. The band goes into full sip mode around the 3:08 mark.

I don't know if this is a sideways shot at Bethune-Cookman. I do know that it is awesome.

FAMU went on to lose to BCU on a ridiculous two-point conversion in overtime. Its band, however, remains undefeated.

 

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

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Pages