Feed aggregator

Bowl Games 2014-15: Full Schedule and Predictions for Every Matchup

The 2014-15 college football season has been one of the wildest in recent memory, but the excitement is far from over, as the packed schedule of bowl games is just a few days from kicking off.

Add in the fact that this season will feature the inaugural College Football Playoff bracket, and fans of the sport will be treated to one of the most unique postseasons imaginable. If the bowl games are as exciting as the regular-season action, college football fans will have their expectations met.

Here is all the vital viewing information and predicted winner for every bowl game of 2014-15.

 

*All games can be live streamed via WatchESPN.com.

 

Team to Watch: Oregon Ducks

There are many teams with the ability to steal the show during bowl season, but few have the offensive firepower that the No. 2-ranked Oregon Ducks possess.

Oregon will square off against the Florida State Seminoles in the Rose Bowl on January 1.

Most football fans know the Ducks for their high-powered offensive unit. The third-ranked offense is 11th in the nation in passing yards per game with 308.9 and 22nd in rushing yards with 237.3 per game.

It’s clear that the 30th-ranked defense of Florida State (allowing 23 points per game) will have trouble slowing down Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Marcus Mariota and the fast-paced Ducks’ offensive attack.

Oregon players are not taking the matchup lightly, though, and Ducks cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu heaped praise on the Seminoles, via Andrew Greif of OregonLive.com:

I think in college football they focus too much on what the score was. Win's a win, I always think. With Florida State this year a lot of teams have been able to keep up with them and play them tough but you see at the end of the game when it really comes down to it, they've been able to dominate at the end of the game.

While there is no denying the firepower of the Oregon offense, the defensive unit has flown under the radar all season. The Ducks have only allowed 22.5 points per game and have managed to stifle elite programs such as Michigan State, UCLA, Stanford, Utah and Arizona in the Pac-12 Championship Game.

Florida State has struggled with consistency this season. The Seminoles may have the 14th-ranked pass attack (299.8 yards per game), but the run attack is a lowly 104th in the nation. With Oregon possessing a tough secondary, FSU quarterback Jameis Winston could be in for a long night.

Both teams deserve an immense amount of credit for making it to this portion of the season, but Oregon has the depth and talent on both sides of the ball to be a viable national-championship threat and move past the Seminoles.

The Ducks will earn the victory and advance to likely play the Alabama Crimson Tide for the inaugural College Football Playoff trophy.

Predicted Winner: Oregon 34, Florida State 30

 

*Stats via ESPN.com.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Georgia Football: Ranking the 10 Best Bulldogs from 2014 Regular Season

The 9-3 record is not the record the Georgia Bulldogs envisioned when the 2014 season began. But that is where they are and they will look to go 10-3 when they play Louisville in the Belk Bowl.

A lot of players that have made the Bulldogs a contender in the conference this season. Some are seniors who have come on strong in their final year and some are true freshmen who will only get better as they progress in the system.

Here are the top 10 Bulldogs from the 2014 regular season.

Begin Slideshow

Season-Defining Moment for Every Pac-12 Football Bowl Team

The Pac-12 Conference is sending eight teams into bowl season in 2014, and for every one of them, the season can be split up into a series of defining moments...

Begin Slideshow

Notre Dame Football: Top Recruits on Irish's Wish List

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — With 21 members already pledged to Notre Dame football’s recruiting class of 2015, the Irish have zeroed in on the final crop of prospects to round out the class:

The holiday season is upon, so let's narrow down that group even further and project Notre Dame's wish list. The Irish hosted a slew of current commitments and other top targets on campus this weekend for their year-end awards banquet:

For our purposes , we'll consider the elite prospects the Irish would love to land. Higher-ranked recruits will take precedence, and only those with legitimate reported interest in Notre Dame will be considered.

 

Iman Marshall

USC seems like the odds-on favorite for the services of 5-star cornerback Iman Marshall, the No. 3 overall player in the country. But Notre Dame got the Long Beach, California, native on campus last weekend for an official visit:

Marshall is slotted as the top-ranked cornerback in the country, and although Notre Dame is well-stocked in the secondary in its 2015 class, the 6'1" 190-pounder is the type of talent who has a spot in any recruiting class at any point in the process.

 

Soso Jamabo

Notre Dame has continued its search for a second running back in the 2015 class, and its plans centered around 5-star Soso Jamabo for a while. The No. 33 overall player in the nation and the No. 2 running back, Jamabo is an impressive talent.

Things have seemingly quieted in Jamabo's recruiting of late, but Notre Dame and UCLA are among the schools reportedly in the mix. According to 247Sports National Recruiting Director Steve Wiltfong, the Bruins "may have the edge over Notre Dame, but the nation's No. 2 running back keeps things close to the vest."

Jamabo is an elite back the Irish would love to pair with current running back commitment Josh Adams.

Jamabo took his official visit to Notre Dame for the Michigan game in early September.

 

Aliz'e Jones

Notre Dame will also battle UCLA for top prospect Aliz'e Jones, the No. 1 tight end in the country and the No. 53 player overall. Jones has been committed to the Bruins since last November, but the Irish hosted the athletic 6'4", 222-pound tight end on campus last weekend:

As it stands right now, Notre Dame does not have a tight end pledge in the current class. With senior tight end Ben Koyack out of eligibility following this season, the Irish are scheduled to return current redshirt freshmen Durham Smythe and Mike Heuerman as well as true freshmen Tyler Luatua and Nic Weishar.

Still, Jones is the type of high-end target Notre Dame would be thrilled to land.

 

Equanimeous St. Brown

With a long name to match his long frame, 4-star wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown is pegged as the No. 10 wideout in the country and the No. 124 player overall.

An Anaheim, California, native, St. Brown is reportedly also considering Stanford and Utah, among other schools, and he took an official visit to South Bend in early October.

Brown’s solid blend of size (6'5", 205 pounds) and athleticism is unparalleled in Notre Dame's current crop of wide receiver commitments—C.J. Sanders, Jalen Guyton and Miles Boykin—none of whom is ranked higher than 22nd at the position.

Adding St. Brown would give the Irish a variety of pass-catchers in its incoming freshman class.

 

Ronald Jones II

Jamabo is regarded as one of the top two or three running backs in the country, but 4-star back Ronald Jones II is no slouch either. The No. 86 overall player in the 2015 class, Jones took his official visit to Notre Dame over the weekend and decommitted from Oklahoma State on Sunday night:

Notre Dame and USC appear to be the leaders to ink Jones at this stage:

Again, Notre Dame has continually widened its reach in the search for a second running back. Jones and Jamabo figure to be atop the wish list.

 

Ykili Ross

An official visitor for Notre Dame’s home finale against Louisville on Nov. 22, 4-star defensive back Ykili Ross remains a target for the Irish. Listed as the No. 131 overall player in the country, Ross offers a lean frame at 6'2", 185 pounds.

Ross, who hails from Riverside, California, took an official visit to USC last weekend:

Like the other names here, Ross is an athlete the Irish would welcome into one of the final spots of their 2015 class.

These six players headline a projected Notre Dame wish list, but other recruits who could be in play down the stretch for the Irish include defensive back Frank Buncom IV, safety Tyree Kinnel, athlete Gary Jennings, safety Ben Edwards and running backs Jordan Cronkite and Nick Brossette.

 

Unless otherwise noted, all recruiting stats and information courtesy of 247Sports, and all quotes obtained firsthand. Star ratings reflect 247Sports' composite rankings.

Mike Monaco is a lead Notre Dame writer for Bleacher Report. Follow @MikeMonaco_ on Twitter.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Quick Lane Bowl Betting: Rutgers vs. North Carolina Odds, Pick

Rutgers is 6-1-1 against the spread over its last eight bowl appearances; North Carolina is 6-3-1 ATS over its last 10 bowls. Two good recent bowl bets meet when the 7-5 Scarlet Knights and the 6-6 Tar Heels play in the first-ever Quick Lane Bowl on Friday, December 26, at Ford Field in Detroit.

 

Quick Lane Bowl point spread: Tar Heels opened as three-point favorites; the total was 66. (Line updates and matchup report)

 

Odds Shark computer prediction: 25.7-25.1 Tar Heels

 

Why the Scarlet Knights can cover the spread

The Knights started 5-1 this season. They scored a cross-country upset at Washington State and a victory at Navy. The only loss in that span came in a tough 13-10 decision at Penn State. Rutgers also picked up its first-ever Big Ten victory, a 26-24 win over Michigan, before losing three straight to some of the bigger boys of the conference.

But the Knights won two of their last three games, beating Indiana and Maryland to become bowl-eligible for the fourth straight season. Rutgers trailed the Terrapins 35-10 late in the second quarter but rallied back behind quarterback Gary Nova, who threw four touchdown passes to up his season total to 20.

 

Why the Tar Heels can cover the spread

The Tar Heels started just 2-4 this season, with losses at East Carolina, at Clemson and at Notre Dame. But Carolina then won four of its next five, knocking off eventual Coastal Division champion Georgia Tech 48-43 and bowl-bound Pitt and Duke.

The Heels then got upset by North Carolina State in their season finale, but they're still playing in a bowl for the sixth time in the last seven seasons. North Carolina is powered by quarterback Marquise Williams, who completed 63 percent of his passes this season for almost 2,900 yards and 20 scores and led the team in rushing with 700 yards and 12 more scores.

The Heels hit the 40-point mark six times this season, so they can move the ball.

 

Smart Pick

North Carolina holds an edge on offense, and while its defense leaves a lot to be desired, the Heels still probably have the Knights outclassed. The smart choice in this spot is with North Carolina, the favorite at the short spread.

 

Trends

  • Rutgers is 2-4 straight up in its last six games
  • The total has gone under in four of North Carolina's last five games

 

Note: All spread and odds data powered by Odds Shark. Follow us on Twitter for injury updates and line move updates.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Pinstripe Bowl Betting: Penn State Nittany Lions vs. Boston College Eagles Pick

The Boston College Eagles will look to beat the Penn State Nittany Lions for the fourth straight time when they meet in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl. The Eagles will face the Nittany Lions for the first time since 2004 and have won the last three meetings as underdogs but find themselves as favorites this time around.

 

Pinstripe Bowl point spread: Eagles opened as 2.5-point favorites; the total was 40. (Line updates and matchup report)

 

Odds Shark computer prediction: 23.7-18.1 Eagles

 

Why the Nittany Lions can cover the spread

It's safe to say Penn State underachieved this year, especially after getting off to a strong 4-0 start and covering the spread in three of those games. But that does not mean that the Nittany Lions are not capable of pulling off the victory here.

They may have dropped six of eight games down the stretch, but four of the losses were decided by seven points or less. Penn State was 4-0 straight-up and against the spread in nonconference games, which is certainly a positive for bettors to consider when handicapping this game.

The Nittany Lions simply struggled in Big Ten play but thrived against everyone else.

 

Why the Eagles can cover the spread

Boston College exceeded expectations this season with an 8-4 record against the spread to go along with a 7-5 mark straight-up. The Eagles may have played the defending national champion Florida State Seminoles tougher than any team so far this year, sitting in a 17-17 stalemate for more than a full quarter before losing by a field goal with three seconds remaining.

They still easily covered the 16.5-point spread against Florida State and earlier in the season upset the USC Trojans 37-31 as 17-point underdogs. Boston College may have overachieved a bit this season, but winning three games outright as a dog has helped this team build plenty of confidence along the way.

 

Smart Pick

Truth be told, the Big Ten did not have a good season overall outside of the Ohio State Buckeyes going unbeaten against conference opponents and sneaking into the College Football Playoff. Penn State should have performed better than a 2-6 record in the Big Ten while BC's 4-4 mark in ACC play is at least respectable.

The Eagles lost only one game this year by more than 10 points compared to two for the Nittany Lions, who were routed 29-6 by the Northwestern Wildcats as 10-point road favorites. That loss at Northwestern ended Penn State's four-game winning streak to start the season and seemed to change the team's fortunes the rest of the way.

The Nittany Lions are 0-3-1 ATS in their past four bowl games and will see that trend continue in another loss.

 

Trends

  • Penn State is 1-4 ATS in its last five games
  • The total has gone under in six of Boston College's last eight games

 

Note: All spread and odds data powered by Odds Shark. Follow us on Twitter for injury updates and line move updates.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Holiday Bowl Betting: Nebraska Cornhuskers vs. USC Trojans Odds, Pick

The Nebraska Cornhuskers will have to deal with the loss of head coach Bo Pelini and a potential home-field advantage for the USC Trojans as they try to pull off an upset in the Holiday Bowl. Pelini was fired and replaced by Mike Riley, but interim coach Barney Cotton will lead Nebraska. USC’s Steve Sarkisian will try to win his first bowl game there as the head man and help his Trojans beat the Cornhuskers and cover the spread for the third time in as many meetings.

 

Holiday Bowl point spread: The Trojans opened as four-point favorites; the total was 62 (line updates and matchup report).

 

Odds Shark computer prediction: 39.6-38.5 Cornhuskers

 

Why the Cornhuskers can cover the spread

Even though Nebraska did not finish the season well, dropping two of its last three games and going 1-3-1 against the spread in its past five, knowing Riley is on board for next year can only help. The Cornhuskers got off to an 8-1 start in 2014, going 6-2-1 versus the line before losing consecutive games to the Wisconsin Badgers and the Minnesota Golden Gophers.

They probably should have won the Big Ten West, which is one of the main reasons Pelini was let go. With Cotton on the sideline, the Nebraska players will not need to worry about the future like they would have if Pelini were still there.

 

Why the Trojans can cover the spread

San Diego is just two hours away from Los Angeles, making this an easy commute for USC. In fact, the only game closer for the Trojans would be the Rose Bowl in Pasadena.

The shorter trip should give them more time to prepare for the Cornhuskers. Sarkisian was USC’s quarterback coach and offensive coordinator for the wins against Nebraska in 2006 and 2007, so he is somewhat familiar with his opponent, although Pelini became the head coach there in 2008.

Starting with the 1996 Rose Bowl, the Trojans are 9-3 ATS against Big Ten opponents.

 

Smart pick

The Cornhuskers may feel some sort of relief with Pelini out of the picture, but it is also difficult to find leadership from an interim coach. The first year as head coach at USC did not go perfectly for Sarkisian, but he has a lot more experience in big games than Cotton, including his playing days as quarterback for the BYU Cougars.

The Trojans have won eight of their past 10 bowl games straight up and ATS, including last year's 45-20 rout of the Fresno State Bulldogs as five-point favorites in the Las Vegas Bowl. If Wisconsin and Minnesota can both beat Nebraska and cover the spread, USC should have no problem doing the same thing in the Holiday Bowl.

 

Trends

  • The total has gone over in five of Nebraska's last six games.
  • Southern Cal is 14-5 SU in its last 19 games.

 

Note: All spread and odds data powered by Odds Shark. Follow us on Twitter for injury updates and line-move updates.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Clemson Football: The 5 Best Moments of the 2014 Season for the Tigers

While there have been some painful memories from this year, the Clemson Tigers have plenty to celebrate this holiday season from a 9-3 regular season campaign.

Countdown lists that look back on the best moments of the year are inevitable in December, and they are a great way to remember the good times. They can also bring back sour tastes, but we will focus on the good moments for this list.

Begin Slideshow

Independence Bowl Betting: Miami Hurricanes vs. South Carolina Gamecocks Odds

The Miami Hurricanes and South Carolina Gamecocks will each be fighting for a winning record when they meet in the Independence Bowl. Miami will look to break a three-game losing streak straight up and against the spread after starting the season 6-3, while South Carolina has won two of three after dropping four of five.

 

Independence Bowl point spread: This game opened as a pick'em; the total was 60.5. (Line updates and matchup report)

 

Odds Shark computer prediction: 32.6-29.5 Hurricanes

 

Why the Hurricanes can cover the spread

The Hurricanes seemed to lose their edge in the final month of the season, especially after falling to the defending national champion Florida State Seminoles 30-26 in a game they could have won. They were favored against the Virginia Cavaliers and Pittsburgh Panthers but lost to both of them following the home loss to Florida State.

However, Miami was one of the hottest teams in the country up until that point and may have ended up running the table had the team found a way to upset the Seminoles as a two-point underdog. Regardless, the Hurricanes have had plenty of time to recover from that disappointing stretch and still deserve to be favored here against the Gamecocks.

 

Why the Gamecocks can cover the spread

South Carolina played in a much tougher conference than Miami and finished with the same record despite facing better competition for the most part. This was not one of head coach Steve Spurrier’s better teams, but the Gamecocks found a way to become bowl eligible.

They now have some new life and can start building for next year against a Miami squad that really struggled at the end of the season. Unlike the Hurricanes, South Carolina has covered two of its last three games and showed some heart down the stretch even in defeat. Four of the team’s past five losses have been decided by seven points or less, proving the Gamecocks have continued to play hard for Spurrier.

 

Smart Pick

It’s hard to believe Miami has grown to a favorite in this game considering how poorly this team ended the season. The Hurricanes seemed to wave the white flag in their last two games, so how can bettors be expected to back them against South Carolina?

To make matters worse, they have also lost five of their last six bowl games both SU and ATS. The Gamecocks are certainly not the same calibre as they were the past three seasons with the likes of Alshon Jeffery, Marcus Lattimore and Jadeveon Clowney leading them to bowl wins.

But those star players left positive marks on the program that should resonate with this year’s team, while Miami was crushed by the Louisville Cardinals 36-9 in the 2013 Florida Citrus Bowl. Bet on the winning ways continuing for South Carolina.

 

Trends

  • Miami is 6-14 ATS in its last 20 games
  • The total has gone under in four of South Carolina's last six games

 

Note: All spread and odds data powered by Odds Shark. Follow us on Twitter for injury updates and line move updates.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Heart of Dallas Bowl Betting: Illinois Fighting Illini vs. Louisiana Tech Odds

Louisiana Tech, in its second season under head coach Skip Holtz, nearly won the Conference USA Championship Game, and it's been one of the best teams in college football on which to wager this season, going 10-3 against the spread. The 8-5 Bulldogs get a shot at the Big Ten when they battle 6-6 Illinois in the fifth edition of the Heart of Dallas Bowl on Friday, December 26, at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas.

 

Heart of Dallas Bowl point spread: The Bulldogs opened as four-point favorites; the total was 61 (line updates and matchup report).

 

Odds Shark computer prediction: 39.9-21.7 Bulldogs

 

Why the Fighting Illini can cover the spread

The Illini won their last two games, upsetting Penn State and Northwestern, to become bowl-eligible for the first time in three seasons under head coach Tim Beckman. Illinois is also 4-2 over its last six games, easily covering as a 27-point underdog at Wisconsin and upsetting Minnesota.

The Illini racked up 438 yards of offense against the Wildcats, 291 yards on the ground, while hitting their high-water mark for points this season. Illinois has had to play musical chairs at quarterback, but three guys have combined to post a 24-11 touchdown-to-interception ratio.

 

Why the Bulldogs can cover the spread

The Bulldogs started 2-3 this season but covered getting 34 points from Oklahoma (48-16) and 32 points from Auburn (45-17). Louisiana Tech then won five games in a row, hitting the 50-point mark a couple of times. And in the game that clinched the CUSA West title, the 'Dogs put up 76 on Rice.

Louisiana Tech then led favored Marshall late into the fourth quarter as an eight-point underdog before allowing a score with two minutes to go to lose 26-23. Quarterback Cody Sokol threw for 3,200 yards with 29 touchdown passes this season, running back Kenneth Dixon ran for 1,200 yards and 21 scores, and the Tech defense ranks 32nd in the country overall, 16th versus the run.

 

Smart pick

Louisiana Tech suspended a half-dozen players before the Marshall game, and it's unlikely they'll play in this bowl—and still the Bulldogs are favored by a touchdown. That might say more about Illinois than it does about Louisiana Tech.

So, the smart play in this spot might be with the Bulldogs despite the suspensions.

 

Trends

  • The total has gone over in six of Illinois' last nine games.
  • Louisiana Tech is 5-1 ATS in its last six games.

 

Note: All spread and odds data powered by Odds Shark. Follow us on Twitter for injury updates and line-move updates.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Sun Bowl Betting: Duke Blue Devils vs. Arizona State Sun Devils Odds, Analysis

Two schools that had hoped to finish the season stronger will square off in the Sun Bowl, as the Arizona State Sun Devils will take on the Duke Blue Devils. The Sun Devils and the Blue Devils have each dropped two of their last three games both straight up and against the spread and will try to finish 2014 on a positive note.

 

Sun Bowl point spread: The Sun Devils opened as nine-point favorites; the total was 67 (line updates and matchup report).

 

Odds Shark computer prediction: 38.3-35.9 Blue Devils

 

Why the Blue Devils can cover the spread

Duke had an excellent shot at winning the ACC Coastal but lost two straight home games to the Virginia Tech Hokies and the North Carolina Tar Heels before defeating the Wake Forest Demon Deacons in their finale. Surprisingly, offense was an issue for the Blue Devils in the last month, as they combined for 36 points against the Hokies and the Tar Heels before routing the Demon Deacons 41-21 on November 29.

Like Arizona State, Duke went on a winning streak midseason, going 4-0 SU and ATS, with three of those victories coming on the road. Two of the wins for the Blue Devils came as underdogs, including a 31-25 victory at the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, who won the division but lost the ACC Championship Game to the Florida State Seminoles.

 

Why the Sun Devils can cover the spread

Arizona State finished tied for second in the Pac-12 South at 6-3, with two of those losses coming on the road over a period of 13 days. The Sun Devils were competitive in both of those setbacks but faltered in the second half each time; otherwise, they might have gotten the opportunity to play the Oregon Ducks for the Pac-12 title.

They enjoyed a five-game winning streak in the middle of the season, which gave them a shot at the conference championship, beating the USC Trojans, the Stanford Cardinal, the Washington Huskies, the Utah Utes and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, all teams that will be playing in bowl games this year. They also went 4-1 ATS during the winning streak.

 

Smart pick

The quality of competition is worth noting here, which is why Arizona State is favored by a little more than a touchdown in this spot. Only two of the four teams Duke beat during its four-game winning streak are in bowl games, and the Pac-12 was a stronger conference than the ACC overall.

Another key factor for bettors to consider when handicapping the Sun Bowl is how each team lost two of three to get to this point. The Blue Devils were blown out by intrastate rival North Carolina 45-20 at home and also fell to a bad Virginia Tech team 17-16, while the Sun Devils could have easily won one or both of the games they lost down the stretch.

Arizona State is clearly the better team and should win this game against Duke by double digits to cover the spread.

 

Trends

  • Duke is 17-5 SU in its last 22 games.
  • Arizona State is 16-5 SU in its last 21 games.

 

Note: All spread and odds data powered by Odds Shark. Follow us on Twitter for injury updates and line-move updates.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Oregon Football: Final 2014 Positional Grades for the Ducks

The second-ranked Oregon Ducks (12-1, 9-1) have completed one of the most successful regular seasons in school history, capped by Marcus Mariota ’s Heisman Trophy victory on Saturday night...

Begin Slideshow

Virginia Tech Football: The 5 Best Moments of the 2014 Season for the Hokies

The Virginia Tech Hokies finished the 2014 season with a record of 6-6. In the past three years, the Hokies have a combined 21-17 record and have competed in bowl games each season.

Most schools would love that, right? Not in Blacksburg.

Before a seven-win season in 2012, Virginia Tech went eight consecutive years winning at least 10 games. 

It spoiled fans and alumni, who expect and deserve more. 

As for the 2014 season, it began with minimal expectations. Most fans figured Tech would win eight or nine games with a schedule that wasn't too imposing. It didn't quite work out that way. 

The Hokies won just six games and needed a season-ending win over in-state rival Virginia just to become bowl eligible. 

Can you guess the top moment of Virginia Tech's recently completed 2014 season?

Here are the top five moments of 2014 for the Hokies on the gridiron.

Begin Slideshow

Marcus Mariota vs. Jameis Winston: Who Will Lead Their Team to Rose Bowl Win?

The 2015 Rose Bowl. Oregon vs. Florida State. Marcus Mariota vs. Jameis Winston. The last two Heisman Trophy winners squaring off for a shot at the national championship. But who has the edge?

Stephen Nelson was joined by Bleacher Report College Football Analyst Michael Felder to scroll down the tale of the tape for the two talented signal-callers.

Who will win: Marcus Mariota and the Ducks or Jameis Winston and Florida State?

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

25 Best College Football Games from 2014 Season

We just wrapped up one of the wildest and most thrilling regular seasons in college football history, 16 weeks of competition that seemed to never have a dull moment. Massive comebacks, (multiple) Hail Marys and memorable finishes made 2014 among the best seasons ever.

The addition of the four-team playoff contributed to the increased excitement this season, but that was only part of it. With only one team making it through unbeaten—yet seemingly being in jeopardy of losing nearly every week—there were no outright dominant teams or schools that avoided drama, which made for plenty of great games.

How many? Well, far more than we could fit into a Top 25 list, but we found a way to pare down the candidate pool and rank the 25 best games this season. The rankings are based on a series of factors, including impact on the national landscape, the way the games ended and the performances within those contests.

Think we missed one or two, or had the rankings all wrong? Be sure to let us know in the comments section.

Begin Slideshow

Christian Kirk Sets Decision Date: Which Program Is Best Fit for 5-Star WR?

One of the nation’s most explosive playmakers will come off the market on Wednesday when 5-star receiver Christian Kirk makes his commitment, per Rob Cassidy of Rivals.

According to Keith Niebuhr of 247Sports, Arizona State, Auburn and Texas A&M are believed to be the finalists for the 5’10”, 191-pound Arizona speedster.

Regardless of where he ends up, Kirk is a threat to change the numbers on the scoreboard anytime he touches the ball.

But which program among his final group is the best fit for the nation’s No. 4 wideout in the 2015 class?

 

Arizona State

All three of Kirk’s potential landing spots offer their share of positives.

In the case of the home-standing Sun Devils, adding the dynamic Kirk would help mitigate the potential blow of losing All-American (h/t ESPN) wideout Jaelen Strong—who is a candidate to forgo his final season in favor of entering the 2015 NFL draft.

In fact, Kirk told Taylor Hamm of GigEm247 (subscription required) that replacing Strong is part of the Sun Devils’ pitch to him.

“ASU, with the season they are having, they are really pushing the fact they can compete at the top level,” Kirk told Hamm. “They are not the ASU they once used to be. They feel I can step in and take over for Jaelen Strong.”

Todd Graham and the Sun Devils have also put together a class that ranks among one of the best in the Pac-12.

The Sun Devils have a stud quarterback committed in 4-star passer Brady White, and Graham and his staff are in good position with White’s prep teammate and 4-star receiver Trent Irwin.

Adding the state’s top prospect would ensure that the Sun Devils arsenal is well-equipped to be one of the nation’s most potent offenses in the country for years to come.

 

Auburn

In recent years, Gus Malzahn’s offenses have been more prolific on the ground than through the air.

However, in 2014, the Tigers enjoyed their best season through the air since Cam Newton led them to the national title in 2010.

With Sammie Coates already announcing his intention to turn pro, and Duke Williams a candidate to follow suit, the Tigers depth chart is appealing for a player such as Kirk to step in right away.

Additionally, Malzahn has proven his acumen as one of the brightest minds in all of college football with his body of work as a coach and coordinator on the Plains.

There’s no doubt that he could put Kirk’s expansive skill set to use in the nation’s toughest division.

 

Texas A&M

Similar to Malzahn, Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin has found success with his high-powered offense since he arrived in College Station.

In the two seasons prior to the 2014 season, the Aggies offense finished in the top five nationally in total offense.

While they took a step back this year, Sumlin’s offense is still friendly to receivers. This season, four different receivers caught at least 40 passes, according to CFBstats.com.

Additionally, Sumlin has stockpiled some of the nation’s top offensive talent in recent classes—including landing 5-star passers in each of his last two classes.

However, per Ourlads, the Aggies have only one senior receiver on their depth chart. Plus, they also landed a number of talented receivers in the 2014 class—including former 5-star standout Speedy Noil, who is a similar prospect to Kirk.

 

Final Choice

Kirk’s final choice will boil down to what criteria he places importance on.

He shed some insight on the factors he will heavily weigh when he spoke with Hamm (subscription required) in late October.

I think the big thing is where I can go in and play early and make an impact as a true freshman. Just the scheme, and me being developed as a receiver, I think those are the two big factors right now. Up to this point, my comfort level is high with all these schools. I’m familiar with all the coaches, I’m familiar with all the players, so now it’s about where I can go in and play and get developed as a receiver.

Considering Arizona State offers him a chance to play early in a powerful offense, Kirk’s best opportunity may lie within his home state.

 

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

Christian Kirk Sets Decision Date: Which Program Is Best Fit for 5-Star WR?

One of the nation’s most explosive playmakers will come off the market on Wednesday when 5-star receiver Christian Kirk makes his commitment, per Rob Cassidy of Rivals ...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

Does Alabama Have a Lock on the Nation's No. 1 Recruiting Class Once Again?

Alabama has a knack for bringing in the best players in the country, and the 2015 recruits are no different. Nick Saban continues his recruiting success with another sensational class.

Bleacher Report College Football Analysts Michael Felder and Barrett Sallee review the 2015 Alabama recruiting class.

How will the Crimson Tide fare next year?

Watch the video and let us know! 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Where Ole Miss, Oklahoma and Texas Turn After Missing on 4-Star Darrin Kirkland

Darrin Kirkland revealed his collegiate decision Monday afternoon during an announcement ceremony, verbally committing to play at Tennessee. The 4-star Indianapolis linebacker chose the Volunteers from a group of finalists that featured Texas, Ole Miss and Oklahoma:

Tennessee lands one of its top defensive targets in Kirkland, who decommitted from Michigan last month. The 6'2", 232-pound prospect picked up dozens of scholarship offers at Lawrence Central High School, where he tallied more than 200 tackles as an upperclassman.

Kirkland is considered the nation's fourth-best inside linebacker recruit in 247Sports' composite rankings. He's the latest addition to another top-10 recruiting class assembled by Tennessee coach Butch Jones and his staff.

While there's reason to celebrate in Knoxville, the commitment reveal will incite much different reactions on the campuses of his three other finalists. Let's take a look at what Kirkland's choice means for each program moving toward national signing day.

 

Oklahoma

The Sooners could use an infusion of defensive talent, and though Bob Stoops has done a solid job addressing his secondary during this cycle, there's a lot of work to do in that department. Oklahoma has struggled to land top-tier linebackers, and that remains the case after whiffing on Kirkland.

The team is set to welcome several quality additions at cornerback and should improve depth along the defensive line, but it must secure young, versatile talent in the middle. Oklahoma remains a contender for top-ranked outside linebacker Malik Jefferson, but the Sooners are a long shot, with Texas and Texas A&M leading the chase.

Fellow Texan Anthony Wheeler is a more realistic target. The Dallas Skyline High School standout has been a frequent guest in Norman since securing a Sooners offer in January.

 

Ole Miss

The Rebels are in much better shape at linebacker than Oklahoma in this class. Hugh Freeze is faced with the task of replacing the position coach, as ESPN's Derek Tyson (h/t CBS Sports' Jerry Hinnen) first reported Monday that Tom Allen had accepted a defensive coordinator opportunity at South Florida, but player commitments in place appear solid.

Top-rated inside linebacker Leo Lewis pledged to Ole Miss this season. The in-state star initially committed to Alabama and has the makings of an SEC stalwart.

Florida prospect Zedrick Woods and junior college pickup Terry Caldwell are best-suited for outside roles and should immediately challenge for special teams reps. Expect the Rebels to explore other options after seeing Kirkland head to a conference opponent, but edge-rushers CeCe Jefferson and Kyle Phillips are more crucial priorities than any inside linebacker at this stage.

 

Texas

Charlie Strong made a late push for the prized Indiana prospect, hosting Kirkland for an official visit earlier this month. Despite the trip to Austin, he elected to commit elsewhere, leaving the Longhorns with a need.

The new coaching regime is attempting to rebuild Texas' defensive approach and made some strides during its first season. However, the most impactful efforts will come from the recruiting trail.

No Texas target is currently more important than Malik Jefferson, who is also considering LSU, Texas A&M, Baylor, TCU, Oklahoma and UCLA. The 5-star Poteet High School linebacker can provide pass coverage, rush the quarterback and stuff the run when called upon.

Strong secured a commitment from 4-star outside linebacker Cameron Townsend in October. If he's able to pair him up with Jefferson, a culture change at Texas could accelerate on defense.

 

Recruit ratings courtesy of 247Sports.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Which Big-Time Recruits Must Notre Dame Land to Rebound in 2015?

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish suffered through an up-and-down 2014 season, with their final record falling to 7-5. With every intention of rebuilding, head coach Brian Kelly is putting his final touches on an explosive recruiting class.

Bleacher Report College Football Analysts Michael Felder and Adam Kramer discuss the Irish's 2015 recruiting class and who else they need to bring in. 

Is this the best 2015 recruiting class?

Check out the video and let us know!  

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Pages