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Kentucky vs. Georgia: Live Score and Highlights

Georgia Bulldogs vs. Kentucky Wildcats

TV: SEC Network

Time: 12 p.m. ET

In an early SEC matchup, the Georgia Bulldogs (5-3) will try to get off the schneid against the Kentucky Wildcats (4-4) in Athens. 

Both teams are looking to make some late noise in the second tier of the SEC, and this tilt is bound to have bowl implications at the end of the year, so expect a dogfight on both sides. 

Stay plugged in below for continued updates. 

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College Football Week 10: Get Hyped for Saturday

It's shaping up to be one intense week for college football, and we have just the video to hype you up.

Which games are you most excited to see? Who do you think is going to win?

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Georgia Athletic Director Says School Will Honor Mark Richt's Unsigned Contract

Georgia Bulldogs head coach Mark Richt has not officially signed a new contract drafted before the 2015 season, but the school says it still plans to honor the terms, according to Chip Towers and Matt Kempner of DawgNation.com:

“To me a handshake is an agreement and the board approved it. Everybody approved it,” Georgia Athletic Director Greg McGarity said Friday. “Just because somebody hasn’t signed it doesn’t mean we’re not going to honor it, if it ever reached that point.”

That is significant for Richt because it includes an $800,000 raise this season the school will retroactively award him. He also will make $2.5 million more if the school fires him this season, under the new deal.

That may seem crazy for someone who was 136-48 since 2001 with Georgia coming in to the season. However, at 5-3 this year and without a touchdown the past two games, there have been calls for the veteran coach to be let go.

ESPN's Darren Rovell is shocked why coaches like Richt leave it up to the schools to honor the contract without a signature:

The raw numbers don't add up for Richt to be fired, as the head coach currently is one of the winningest active coaches in the SEC, per the SEC Network:

On the surface it seems odd, but sometimes it's time for a school and a coach to part ways. Richt has been in Georgia for 15 seasons, and despite finishing in the Associated Press Top 25 poll 11 times, has not won a national championship.

It's good to see the school honor the handshake agreement, but that doesn't mean Richt won't be fired this season.

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Devin Pugh Files Federal Lawsuit Against NCAA: Latest Details, Reaction

Former Weber State Wildcats football player Devin Pugh has filed a federal lawsuit against the NCAA challenging the organization's transfer and scholarship rules, citing a breach of antitrust laws.

According to the Associated Press' Tom Coyne, Pugh alleged NCAA rules requiring student-athletes to sit out for a year after transferring are unlawful. Additionally, Pugh cited university scholarship caps—85 for FBS schools and 63 for those residing in the FCS—as another component of the antitrust violations. 

"Student-athletes who jockey for these scholarships suffer severe penalties for transferring, while NCAA coaches are allowed to job-hop, reaping enormous financial benefits and rising to earn more than $3 million per year," attorney Steve Berman said in a statement, per Coyne.

Pugh's complaint reportedly stems from his experience at Weber State. According to Coyne, the former cornerback played for the Wildcats on a scholarship that former head coach Ron McBride said "would be renewed annually as long as he did well academically and remained eligible." 

However, when Jody Sears took over for McBride as head coach, Pugh asserts his scholarship was not renewed, which led to a painstaking transfer to Colorado State-Pueblo. Upon transferring, Pugh alleged the monetary value of his scholarship decreased from when he attended Weber State, thus forcing his loan payments to spike.

"The lawsuit seeks class-action status, contending the NCAA's prohibition on multiyear scholarships has injured thousands of athletes by causing them to pay millions more in tuition when their scholarships are reduced or not renewed," Coyne added. 

Should more former NCAA athletes join Pugh as part of a class-action filing in an effort to shift the NCAA's operating procedures, the profile of the case could grow exponentially.

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Temple vs. SMU: Score, Highlights and Twitter Reaction

The No. 22 Temple Owls survived an early scare from the SMU Mustangs Friday night, leaving Gerald J. Ford Stadium in Dallas with a 60-40 victory. The Owls improve to 5-0 in the American Athletic Conference and 8-1 overall.

Temple was anything but sluggish coming off its first loss Oct. 31 to No. 5 Notre Dame, taking an early 14-0 lead against SMU.

The Mustangs fought back to take the lead in the second quarter, but P.J. Walker and the Owls offense eventually outlasted SMU, despite their defense allowing a season high in points.

Temple made a statement on the road early, with a record-setting touchdown less than three minutes into the game, courtesy of running back Jager Gardner. Below is the freshman's 94-yard score, per ESPN College Football:

Temple took the 14-0 lead in to the second quarter, but it didn't last long. In a span of 10 minutes, SMU kicked a field goal and scored two touchdowns to take a 17-14 lead with 4:03 remaining in the half. 

SMU football's official Twitter account showed how Xavier Jones went untouched into the end zone on what was a two-play drive to give SMU its first lead of the game:

Tom Fornelli of CBS Sports humorously explained the craziness of a one-win SMU team scoring 17 straight points on one-loss Temple: 

The lead didn't last long. Walker engineered a 10-play, 75-yard scoring drive that ended with a 16-yard touchdown pass to Romond Deloatch. Temple senior associate athletic director Larry Dougherty celebrated the score on his Twitter account:

The 3rd-and-1 completion with less than 30 seconds before half was the momentum the Owls needed.

However, at least one SMU fan didn't care much for Temple's momentum and had plenty of faith in his team at the break, per SportsCenter:

Temple scored on its first drive of the second half, which helped open a 28-17 lead, on Walker's third touchdown pass. ESPN College Football posted on Twitter that Temple was back in control with the score:

That was only the case for about four minutes when Jones scored his second touchdown of the night and helped cut the Temple lead to 28-24.

The teams would score six more touchdowns the rest of the way. It seemed like Temple put the game away with 12 minutes left on another long scoring play from a freshman, helping the team take a 45-31 lead.

Ventell Bryant hauled in Walker's fourth touchdown pass from 75 yards out, one play after SMU cut the lead to 38-31. Here is the talented freshman's highlight, per ESPN College Football:

As it turned out, the game was far from over. Leading by the same score, Temple allowed a safety after holding in the end zone. The free kick turned out to be worse, as SMU's Braeden West returned it 80 yards, helping cut the lead to 45-40. 

It was one of the most exciting plays of the night, as shown by ESPN College Football:

It also wasn't enough as Temple forced SMU to turn the ball over on downs on its own 32-yard line with 2:42 remaining in the game. It looked like the Owls may run the clock out, but they did more than that, scoring two more touchdowns. Walker scored on a 36-yard run for his fifth total touchdown of the game, and Sean Chandler's pick-six with 55 seconds left provided the final score.

ESPN's Chris Fowler gave his thoughts on the back-and-forth game as soon as it ended:

Walker was about as efficient as a quarterback can be, completing 18 of 25 passes for 268 yards and four touchdowns. 

Gardner was one of the game's key players. He had just four carriers for minus-1 yard on the season coming in, but he finished with 110 yards and the long touchdown.

SMU's Matt Davis finished 17-of-29 for 167 yards and a touchdown.

The Owls now have opened up a two-and-a-half game lead over the Cincinnati Bearcats and South Florida Bulls in the AAC East division and remain in great shape to play in the Dec. 5 AAC Championship Game.

If they knock off No. 13 Memphis Nov. 21 and win the championship game, the Owls will be 12-1 when they await to hear their bowl destination. The College Football Playoff Selection Committee could choose Temple for the Fiesta or Peach Bowl.

As John Smallwood of Philly.com suggests, the College Football Playoff committee wasn't going to put Temple in the final four to battle for a national championship, even if it did beat Notre Dame:

Due to politics, finances and influence, no team from the Group of Five (AAC, Conference USA, Mid-American, Mountain West or Sun Belt) will make the four-team tournament unless the most extreme convergence of circumstances occur. No, the bone thrown to the Group of Five was the automatic bid into a prestigious and lucrative "New Year's Six Bowl" for its highest-ranked champion.

That "New Year's Six Bowl" would be the Fiesta or Peach, which is something no one could have dreamed of for Temple before the season started. Now, if the Owls keep winning, it's a real possibility. 

 

Postgame Reaction

Temple head coach Matt Rhule was not happy with the way his team played despite the win, per ESPN: "It's not our best football game, and our goal is to always play really great football," Rhule said. "We didn't play great football tonight, and that's starts with me."

Conversely, first-year SMU head coach Chad Morris seemed to like the fight his 1-8 team put up against Temple, and all season, per ESPN: "I think as you look at the story of the season, I know the record says what you are," Morris said. "When you consider our strength of schedule and who we've played...I think it says a whole lot about our guys. They've got a lot fight in them. We're close."

The Mustangs official Twitter account released some cool photos from the game:

Temple's account celebrated the victory, and pointed out the most important outcome of the game for the Owls:

It might not have been pretty for Temple, but a win is a win, and the Owls are one step closer to a conference title, and perhaps more.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Keith Joseph Jr., Mississippi State DE, Dies in Car Accident at Age 18

Mississippi State Bulldogs freshman defensive end Keith Joseph Jr. and his father, former Mississippi State linebacker Keith Joseph Sr., died Friday evening in a single-car accident, the school announced.

According to the university, the two were driving to a Pascagoula High School football game to watch the younger Joseph's alma mater when the accident occurred. 

Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen released a statement expressing his deepest sympathies: 

We are deeply saddened and heartbroken by the tragic loss of Keith Jr. and his father. Keith had such a promising future as a Bulldog following in the legacy started by Keith Sr., who played for our program 25 years ago. Keith was a great student, a hard worker and a great teammate to all of us. With heavy hearts, our thoughts and prayers go out to the Joseph family, our entire Mississippi State community and all of the lives these Bulldogs touched.

Athletic director Scott Stricklin also offered his condolences: 

Words can’t express the sorrow we feel by having lost not one, but two members of the Bulldog family, father and son. I was a classmate of Keith Sr., and took pride in having Keith Jr. follow in his dad’s footsteps at MSU. They will both be missed greatly. It’s such a tragic reminder that life is a precious [sic] and every day is a gift from God.

Starting quarterback Dak Prescott tweeted a message of support to the Joseph family following the tragic announcement: 

Joseph Jr., 18, served as a standout defensive lineman at Pascagoula before committing to the Bulldogs in 2014 and signing his letter of intent in February. He was redshirting this season.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Mike Ellis, Minnesota Associate Athletic Director, Resigns Amid Investigation

Minnesota associate athletic director Mike Ellis resigned from his position Friday amid an ongoing investigation into complaints made against him.

Brandon Stahl and Dan Browning of the Star Tribune provided confirmation of Ellis' decision from his attorney, Christopher Madel. Jon Krawczynski of the Associated Press noted Golden Gophers spokesman Chris Werle also confirmed Ellis' exit.

The Star Tribune report passed along part of the resignation letter. He stated the school had made "no disciplinary findings against me" and added that he has "done nothing wrong."

His attorney told the outlet that Ellis had recently returned to work for a couple of days after taking voluntary leave in early September for the investigation. Ellis ultimately decided it would be better for him to accept one of the other positions made available to him during his time away, however.

"One of the offers that he got was with a very big name apparel company—but it's not Nike," Madel said. "He got another offer from a sports agent. And he had another offer from a university. He's less inclined to work for any universities—he's just sick of them."

In August, former Minnesota athletic director Norwood Teague resigned after revelations of sexual harassment. Ellis and Teague previously worked together at Virginia Commonwealth University, but Madel stated the allegations that led to Teague's exit didn't involve Ellis.

Josh Verges of the Pioneer Press reported an anonymous email was sent to University of Minnesota president Eric Kaler in August that alleged Ellis and Teague viewed "pornographic images of college-aged women" on Ellis' phone during a 2012 bowl trip.

The school stated the complaints were still "pending" as of Friday but didn't provide any further information about the investigation, according to the Pioneer Press.

 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

DaRon Davis to Missouri: Tigers Land 4-Star Athlete Prospect

Class of 2017 4-star athlete DaRon Davis has verbally committed to the Missouri Tigers, according to Tod Palmer of the Kansas City Star.

Davis had offers from only two teams, according to 247Sports. Along with Missouri, the Kansas Jayhawks also offered the No. 2-ranked prospect in the state of Missouri. Florida State and Minnesota were among other teams who visited him.

Davis becomes the Tigers' first commitment for 2017, and it's a solid get for head coach Gary Pinkel. The 6'2", 190-pound athlete from Kansas City has had a solid junior year for Hogan Preparatory Academy.

Davis has the height to be a quality receiver in Missouri's passing game, but he also could be a bruising running back out of the spread formation. Palmer noted that he would more likely be a receiver based on Pinkel's history with recruiting.

"Davis’ build—6'2" and 185 pounds—suggest more of a wide receiver based historically on the Tigers’ recruiting profile," Palmer wrote. "He boasts a 42-inch vertical and also had a scholarship offer from Kansas."

With one more year of high school football under his belt, Davis could still put on 10-20 more pounds before starting his college career.

Also, that No. 2 state ranking may not stay that way for long. If he's putting up numbers like that in his junior year, Davis could have a number-shattering senior year.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Captain Morgan: The World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party

The World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party takes place annually in Jacksonville, Florida, for the Florida-Georgia college football rivalry game. Bleacher Report went behind the scenes at Captain Morgan's tailgate party aboard a pirate ship for one of college football fans' most storied traditions.

Watch the crew and its mates "go full captain" in the video above, and be sure to comment below.

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Happy Birthday to the Sport We Love: College Football Turns 146 Today

Oh, hey there, college football. A little birdie—which may or may not be Facebook...or the NCAA—told us it's your birthday and you're 146 years old. But, if we're being honest, you don't look a day over 125.

According to NCAA.com's Sam Richmond, it was this day in 1869 that Princeton and Rutgers faced off in what would be known as the first college football game. Granted, it didn't look anything like the game today, and there were no alternate uniforms, but it laid the groundwork for the sport we've all come to love:

The game’s rules were far different than they are today. The teams were made up of 25 players and the goal of the game was to kick the ball in the opponent’s goal. Aside from kicking, players were allowed to bat the ball with their hands, feet, heads and sides. Carrying or throwing the ball was not permitted.

Also, there were 10 games played within the whole game, hence the 6-4 final score. Each time a team scored a goal, they were awarded a point and a new game began.

Richmond wrote that a crowd of roughly 100 people were in attendance. Combine that with an odd, low score, and it sounds an awful lot like a Big Ten noon game.

I guess Rutgers does fit in after all.

Low-hanging fruit aside, it's crazy to think about what college football used to be. But then you think about what college football is today and, well, it's still pretty loony. That part hasn't changed.

The last three weeks have provided the most heart-pounding, miraculous endings the sport has seen in some time.

It started in Week 7 with Michigan State doing the unthinkable, blocking a mishandled Michigan punt and returning it all the way for the game-winning score in front of a floored Big House crowd:

No one said it better than Spartans quarterback Connor Cook. “What the hell just happened?” he asked, per Forbes.com's Roger Groves.

The following week, however, Georgia Tech one-upped the Spartans.

Facing a would-be game-winning field goal from college football's best place-kicker, Roberto Aguayo, the Yellow Jackets blocked the 56-yard attempt. Despite pleas from head coach Paul Johnson, they scooped up the ball and ran it back for the victory over Florida State.

Yet somehow, those two endings were upstaged by the unlikeliest—and most egregiously illegal—ending of them all.

After giving up a go-ahead touchdown to Duke with six seconds remaining, Miami's only hope was to lateral its way to a kickoff return for a touchdown. Eight passes later, that's exactly what the Hurricanes did as Corn Elder took the return 91 yards—or so it said on the stat sheet—for the score:

Of course, we came to find out the touchdown should never have counted. The ACC released a statement (h/t CoachingSearch.com) on Sunday documenting the errors that occurred, which included failing to rule that a Miami player's knee was down before pitching the ball and failing to penalize the Hurricanes for a block in the back.

The officiating crew was suspended for two conference games, but the result of the game was (rightfully) not overturned:

Amazingly, and despite all those dramatic moments, college football is only now entering its critical month. As Paul Myerberg of USA Today tweeted this week, the best games between the top opponents have really yet to be played.

It starts on Saturday with TCU at Oklahoma State, LSU at Alabama and Florida State at Clemson. The sorting-out process—or the chaos—begins in earnest:

So despite it being college football's birthday, it's been the one bestowing gifts to the rest of us. Let's hope the generosity doesn't stop any time soon. Here's betting it won't.

 

Ben Kercheval is a lead writer for college football.

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South Carolina Head Coach Search: Latest News, Rumors on Vacant Position

It hasn't been a good year for the South Carolina Gamecocks. After starting the season 2-4, head coach Steve Spurrierretired following the team's loss to LSU, with co-offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Shawn Elliott taking over. 

Now at 3-5, the Gamecocks look like they may be honing in on a new head coach to lead the program. According to 247Sports' JC Shurburtt, University of Houston head coach Tom Herman "is the clear leading candidate."

Herman is the man in charge of a Houston program that is 8-0 this season and is currently ranked 25th in the College Football Playoff rankings. In his first season with the Cougars, Herman has helped Houston turn the program around. In six of the previous eight seasons, Houston won eight games or fewer. 

Not bad for his first head coaching gig.

Herman spoke with Bill Rabinowitz of the Columbus Dispatch about being a first-year head coach:

Every decision as a head coach is the first time I’m making that decision. You can prepare all you want, but as old saying goes, assistant coaches make suggestions and head coaches make decisions.

According to Shurburtt, Herman has been a target for South Carolina athletic director Ray Tanner since 2012, when he was an offensive coordinator at Ohio State.

While he is dominating in the American Athletic Conference, South Carolina and the SEC are a whole different animal, as the talent and pressure are on another level.

If Herman does not head to South Carolina, Shurburtt reports that Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart, Texas head coach Charlie Strong and Memphis head coach Justin Fuente "could enter the mix."

 

Stats courtesy of Sports-Reference.com

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Terry Petry to Houston: Cougars Land 4-Star CB Prospect

University of Houston football landed 4-star cornerback prospect Terry Petry on Friday, according to the Houston Chronicle's Joseph Duarte.   

Here is Petry's tweet announcing his decision:

The class of 2017 prospect out of Ridge Point High School in Missouri City, Texas, is the 24th-ranked cornerback in the nation and the 40th-rated player overall in the state, according to 247Sports' composite rankings.

His high school also took to Twitter to offer congratulations:

Also used as a wide receiver and a kick returner, Petry possesses solid breakaway speed with plenty of agility to make defenders miss. Those skills translate well to the cornerback position, where he is able to keep up with even the best of receivers. 

Hudl.com took a look at what he's been capable of this season:

According to 247Sports, Petry is Houston's second commit out of the class of 2017. Toward the end of July, the Cougars picked up 3-star inside linebacker Derek Parish out of Pearland, Texas. 

For a Houston team that has a top-30 defensive unit in the nation this season, per NCAA.com, it's apparent that it is focusing on further improving its defense. Bringing on a versatile recruit like Petry will surely help. 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

LSU-Alabama Showdown Features a Who's Who of Visiting Blue-Chip Recruits

The latest installment of a thrilling rivalry between the Alabama Crimson Tide and LSU Tigers is set to feature an abundance of talent on and off the field. 

This Saturday night showdown in Tuscaloosa carries significant College Football Playoff implications, as both the Crimson Tide and LSU claim a coveted top-four spot in initial postseason rankings. Recruits will be watching closely, with many blue-chip prospects expected to attend.

Aside from The Opening and annual All-American games, you'll be hard-pressed to find this volume of high school talent in one spot at any stage of this recruiting cycle. The amount of 5-star athletes is anticipated to reach double digits, according to Hank South of 247Sports, featuring several of the most prized prospects from various classes. 

Lineman Greg Little, the No. 1 overall 2016 offensive prospect, will spend this weekend on campus for an official visit. It's likely to be his final trip before a commitment, according to Bleacher Report's Damon Sayles.

The 6'5 ½", 305-pound Allen High School (Texas) senior was supposed to announce college plans earlier this week, but he ultimately extended that time line.

"[The visit] originally was set up for the 31st [of October], but they have a bye that week. I wanted to be there for a game," Little told Sayles.

Little, who could give the Crimson Tide a pair of 5-star offensive tackles if he joins Alabama pledge Jonah Williams, may potentially become the heir apparent to star sophomore left tackle Cam Robinson.

Isaac Nauta is another official visitor who is considered the top overall 2016 player at his position. The 5-star IMG Academy (Florida) tight end intended to visit USC this weekend but altered his itinerary when the Trojans underwent a coaching change.

With visits to Michigan, Georgia and Ole Miss during the past five weeks, Nauta continues to inch closer toward a Jan. 9 commitment at the Army All-American Bowl. His fifth and final official visit will take him to the TCU Horned Frogs on Thanksgiving weekend.

“With Alabama, I’ve never been there for a game,” Nauta told Bleacher Report's Sanjay Kirpalani last week. “I just want to see the game-day atmosphere there. I want to see if it’s a place I could live for four years."

Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban could host as many as five 5-star linebackers, according to South, headlined by top overall 2017 recruit Dylan Moses. The 6'2", 220-pound Baton Rouge, Louisiana, standout committed to LSU as a freshman but backed off that verbal commitment in August.

Moses, who totaled more than 300 tackles as an underclassman, is among the most highly publicized college football prospects ever. Alabama, Texas, Georgia and Florida State are notable programs attempting to ensure he doesn't end up back in the Tigers class. 

Despite being just a junior, USA Today identified Moses as a national Defensive Player of the Year candidate last month. That list of candidates also included linebackers Ben Davis and Mique Juarez, who are both potential Saturday visitors.

Juarez, a California product rated second nationally among outside linebackers, decommitted from USC in October. Davis, the nation's No. 1 inside linebacker and son of all-time Alabama tackles leader Wayne Davis, is widely considered a Crimson Tide lock despite a Top 5 that also features Florida State, Georgia, Auburn and LSU.

He will visit Baton Rouge next weekend for an official visit and continues to stress he isn't simply going to follow his father's footsteps without exploring alternative options.

"My dad will support whatever decision I make 110 percent," Davis told Bleacher Report. "He hasn't really pushed me toward one school or another. He just wants to make sure I'm comfortable with the situation wherever I go."

Other premier defensive prospects to look for in Tuscaloosa this weekend include Louisiana tackle Rashard Lawrence, Georgia safety Nigel Warrior, Mississippi cornerback Nigel Knott and top-rated 2017 in-state linebacker Markail Benton.

Expect plenty of top offensive playmakers, too, as that list is led by Nauta, Little and former Crimson Tide commit Demetris Robertson. Top-ranked 2016 "athlete" Mecole Hardman, who could excel at wide receiver or cornerback, will also reportedly attend.

Louisiana wide receiver Mykel Jones, a 4-star talent who played high school football with Alabama freshman receiver Daylon Charlot, may ultimately decide between the Crimson Tide and LSU. He'll be on campus Saturday along with 4-star Florida pass-catcher Cavin Ridley, the younger brother of promising Crimson Tide receiver Calvin Ridley.

Louisiana running back Devin White, a 258-pound battering ram with sub-4.5 speed in the 40-yard dash, has reportedly planned a trip to Tuscaloosa. The same can be said about Ahmmon Richards, a 4-star wide receiver who decommitted from the Miami Hurricanes in October and has 37 touchdown receptions since last season, per MaxPreps.

It's important to note that these visitors lists aren't always complete or guaranteed, as recruits and their families routinely change travel plans for a variety of reasons. However, if even just a large percentage of projected visitors do show up for the action, this will truly be one of the mega-recruiting events of 2015.

 

Tyler Donohue is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports. Follow Tyler via Twitter @TDsTake.

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Is a High-Powered Offense or Stingy Defense a Better Path to 2015 CFB Playoff?

In this day and age of high-powered offenses—and penalties, like targeting, that naturally favor the offense—it's fair to challenge whether the old adage of "defense wins championships" is actually true. 

This transcends college and pro football. Last January, Hall of Famer Mike Singletary told Jeffri Chadiha of ESPN.com, "You never want to say never, but I will say this: It's more difficult than ever to play defense today, and I think it's probably easier than ever to play quarterback."

With November underway, almost all of college football's playoff contenders will face their toughest competition, including each other. Is there a specific trend that will predict winners over the next five weeks? When it comes to high-powered offenses versus stingy defenses, which one is more likely to win out?

Many of the College Football Playoff's Top 16* teams typically excel on at least one side of the ball. That's why they're in this position to start. But which side is a better indicator of what it takes to be "championship material" in 2015? We chart several national rankings in key offensive and defensive statistical categories** below, from raw data (points per game, yards per play) to advanced data (efficiencies, points per drive). 

 

Offenses

It's straightforward: Offenses are ruling college football. Every team charted has scored at least 31 points per game, and exactly half ranked in the top 25 nationally in six of the seven categories used. Two more teams, Clemson and Florida State, came close. 

The most common theme was offensive efficiency, in which 12 of the 16 teams were ranked in the top 25. Efficient offenses come in all forms. Baylor, on one hand, is efficient in generating explosive plays. But an offense can still be efficient by chewing up clock and wearing down defenses on extended drives. The style may differ, but the outcome doesn't. 

It's not surprising, then, that those same 12 teams met the criteria for being elite in points per drive. For context, Oklahoma State defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer told Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports that points per possession is one of the most important stats out there. 

Another interesting trend was explosiveness in offensive possessions. Ten teams ranked 25th or higher there. Fewer plays mean fewer opportunities for mistakes. The more an offense can pick up yards and/or points in chunks, the better. 

Some of the numbers make sense. Baylor's offense is so good a true freshman No. 2 quarterback, Jarrett Stidham, can play right away with immediate success. Other numbers are more curious. Florida State's offense has been visually tough to watch. Quarterback, wide receiver and offensive line play have been iffy. Yet, the Seminoles statistically have one of the better offenses in college football. 

 

Defenses

The one thing that generally held true about teams without an elite offense (Alabama, Florida, Iowa, Michigan State and Utah) is they have a top-flight defense. The Tide, Gators and Hawkeyes didn't score particularly well in offensive categories, but they were leaders in the same categories on defense. Their top-10 rankings are entirely justified, then. 

Overall, the defensive numbers weren't as stout for our playoff contenders. However, three areas keep arising as the most common indicator for success: defensive efficiency, defending explosive drives and defensive points per drive. Eight playoff-caliber teams ranked 25th or higher in those categories. 

Raw stats like defensive points per game ranged from 15.1 (Ohio State) to 26.6 (Memphis). Only nine teams allow fewer than five yards per play. 

Those stats are telling, but they can be overcome. It's not necessary anymore to hold opposing offenses to 14 points per game and under 300 yards. Are defenses limiting big plays and giving up fewer points per possession? Those areas, more than anything, define a great defense in a sport where offenses are more prolific than ever. 

 

Conclusion

There are more elite offenses in college football than elite defenses—at least when it comes to teams legitimately vying for a playoff spot through 10 weeks. What does that mean for the remainder of the season?

Expect a ton of yards, points and a whole lot of fun. Here's the schedule for key games involving current playoff contenders: 

It's possible a more defensive-minded team like Alabama, Florida or Iowa makes the playoff. The Tide don't control their own destiny in the SEC West, but Florida can lock up the SEC East against Vanderbilt on Saturday. Iowa doesn't face a team with a winning record for the rest of the regular season. Assuming the Gators and Hawkeyes win out, it really does boil down to a one-game season in their respective conference title games. That's a good spot to be in. 

However, the odds of an offensive-minded team making the playoff are greater simply because more of them exist in the playoff conversation. The Big 12, for example, is full of offense-heavy teams ready to square off against one another in consecutive weeks. Interestingly, Oklahoma, the only one-loss team from the Big 12 in the playoff discussion, is the lone team with an elite offense and elite defense. Still, get ready for points on points on more points. 

In conclusion, if you enjoy offense, the next five weeks, and then the final three games of the postseason, are going to be good to you. 

 

*We measured only the CFP Top 16 because last year's national champion, Ohio State, began the rankings at No. 16. Thus, it is the "floor" that's been set.

**OFEI/OE=offensive efficiency; OAY=offensive available yards; OEx=offensive explosive drives; OMe=offensive methodical drives; PPD=points per drive; DFEI/DE=defensive efficiency; DAY=Defensive available yards; DEx=explosive drives allowed; DMe=methodical drives allowed; DPD=points per drive allowed. For a more detailed explanation on what these mean, visit Football Outsiders and BCF Toys.

 

Ben Kercheval is a lead writer for college football. All stats courtesy of cfbstats, Football Outsiders and BCF Toys

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5 Bold Predictions for College Football Week 10

College football coaches love to talk about having a “November to remember,” and this November should certainly be unforgettable in the college gridiron ranks.

Following Toledo’s loss to Northern Illinois, we begin the finishing stretch of the 2015 season with 10 undefeated teams, all of which reside inside the top 14 of the new College Football Playoff Top 25.

Through attrition and scheduled matchups, we’ll certainly finish the month with far fewer than 10 unbeatens.

The fun begins Saturday. Multiple unbeaten teams including Clemson, LSU and TCU face serious challenges to their perfect seasons and claims on College Football Playoff berths.

Here are five bold predictions about how the week will unfold, affecting the playoff picture along with it.

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Michigan Football: 5 Storylines to Watch Down the Stretch

The Michigan football program has entered the final month of its season, and a handful of storylines surround the Wolverines down the stretch.

Following a loss to Utah in the opener, Michigan became a dominant team carried by its defense and demanded a place in the national spotlight. However, the unit's most recent outing was forgettable at best.

Conversely, the offensive line has faltered. But one explosive player could bolster a purely average Wolverines attack throughout the final four games of the regular season.

How Michigan fares in those four outings will determine whether or not it can steal a Big Ten championship, though the Wolverines must challenge a longtime rival first.

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Georgia Football: Game-by-Game Predictions for November

After finishing September with a 4-0 record, the Georgia Bulldogs stumbled in October, wining only one of their four games. The Bulldogs were defeated by Alabama to start October, lost to Tennessee the following week, barely got by Missouri and then ended the month with an embarrassing performance against Florida.

So it’s safe to say Mark Richt’s team is glad to have October out of the way and will be looking to finish the season strong with a better November. Georgia will face two more conference rivals and two in-state opponents to end the season.

The Bulldogs may no longer be in contention for the SEC East title, but if they can somehow finish the year with a four-game winning steak, they'll at least have something to build on in 2016.

So here are the Bulldogs’ game-by-game predictions for November.

 

November 7: vs. Kentucky

The Bulldogs are coming off a blowout loss to Florida, and the Wildcats are coming off a double-digit loss to Tennessee. So both teams are looking to bounce back and start the month right.

Kentucky lost its last three games, and they surrendered at least 30 points in all three losses. The Wildcats have struggled on defense all season, allowing just over 29 points per game.

The offense has been nothing to brag about either, as the Wildcats score 24.3 points per game and total 387 yards per game.

The one player to watch is Mikel Horton, who rushed for over 100 yards against Tennessee. If he can get going, the Wildcats can pull off the upset. But when it’s all said and done, the Bulldogs have more talent than the Wildcats, and they should be able to do enough on offense and defense to hand them their fourth consecutive loss.

Georgia 28, Kentucky 14

 

November 14: at Auburn

Georgia and Auburn were in the same boat before the season began. Georgia was picked as the favorite to win the SEC East, while Auburn was the favorite to win the entire conference.

However, because of quarterback issues, both Auburn and Georgia have had disappointing seasons up to this point.

The Tigers' quarterback issues have hindered their scoring this season, as they rank 10th in the SEC in points per game. And Auburn might have worst defense in the SEC, as it gives up 446.5 yards per game.

Peyton Barber has been one of the few highlights for the Tigers, rushing for 787 yards and 12 touchdowns. Georgia will need to limit his yards in order to make the Tigers one-dimensional. If that happens, the Bulldogs should win their final SEC game of the year.

I liked a @YouTube video http://t.co/vv4vQktEha Auburn - Peyton Barber - TD

— Garrett (@AnimatedGamers1) October 4, 2015

Georgia 30, Auburn 21

 

November 21: vs. Georgia Southern

After Auburn, Georgia will face Georgia Southern, their third non-conference opponent of the year, at Sanford Stadium.

The Eagles are the defending Sun Belt Conference Champions, and they have a chance to win it again this season. They lead the nation in rushing with 385.6 yards per game and running back Matt Breida has been one of the best running backs in the nation, rushing for 1,158 yards and 13 touchdowns.

Because of its option offense, Georgia Southern will give the Bulldogs fits to start the game, and it will be close at the half. But the Bulldogs have more talent and too much depth for the game to remain close in the fourth quarter.

Georgia 42, Georgia Southern 24

 

November 28: at Georgia Tech

This will be the most interesting game of the month for the Bulldogs. Both teams had high expectations before the season, and both teams failed to live up to them.

Georgia Tech did beat Florida State two weeks ago to hand the Seminoles their first loss of the year, but that was the Yellow Jackets’ only conference win, and they have three wins overall.

Georgia Tech has issues on defense, ranking 11th in the ACC in scoring and total defense. And the Yellow Jackets are not a threat in the passing game, as they rank 13th in the conference in passing offense.

Since everyone is about to get angry, let's watch something fun first and remember that it's WHAT A TIME TO BE ALIVE https://t.co/cXte8HLVaj

— Matt Brown (@MattBrownCFB) November 3, 2015

The last two times these teams faced off, the game went to overtime. And based on how both teams have played this season, this game should be another close battle.

One thing to note about this series is that Richt has never lost at Bobby Dodd Stadium. And because this is the final regular-season game and changes to the coaching staff are possible, according to Dan Wolken of USA Today, the Bulldogs will play hard for Richt and finish the season strong.

Georgia 28, Georgia Tech 25

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How Mike Sherman Went from Coaching Favre to Coaching an 0-8 High School Team

For decades, Mike Sherman's world was about Super Bowls and super-sized TV contracts, super-fancy offices and super-expensive stadium renovations, super-rich boosters and super-big egos.

He was head coach and general manager of the Packers and had Hall of Famer Brett Favre as his quarterback. He was head coach at Texas A&M and had top-10 draft pick Ryan Tannehill as his quarterback.

For decades, Sherman was the big time.

And now?

Now, his quarterback (and defensive back) is 155-pound Travis Van Vleck, who will probably go on to greatness someday, but not in football.

Now, Sherman says, "It's a little noisy, holding meetings on a school bus on the way to games."

Yes, that is Sherman's new world. He's now a first-year head coach at Nauset Regional High School in Eastham, Massachusetts.

I'd love to tell you that this is a story ready for Hollywood, that he excited a community just with his presence, took an underdog group and showed it the way to victory from a big-timer's knowledge mixed with inner caring.

Actually, most of that is true. Except for the victory part. Nauset is 0-8.

"We have a lot of young, young kids, and we've lost a fair amount of linemen to injury and one who decided to do something else," Sherman says.

You don't often lose players in the NFL because they "decided to do something else." The natural question is: How is Sherman taking this? Is he crestfallen?

Not at all.

"It's still frustrating when we don't win. I want to win games for the kids. Want to see them have success," Sherman says. "We try to teach lessons about perseverance. Even when you lose, you can grow and develop, even if you don't recognize it now.

"I always tell them everything you do on the field matters in your life: how you pay attention to detail, what kind of effort you give. Everything matters. Everything plays out in season, plays out in life. Hopefully, even if you don't see it now, it will help you to become successful and develop a game plan in life."

Our definition of success needs to include what Sherman is doing. It's not all about how much money or spotlight you get. He is giving back.

Sherman was fired as the Miami Dolphins offensive coordinator after the 2013 season, figured he was in solid financial shape and wanted to finally give his wife, Karen, and kids a set place to live after a coach's life of bouncing to different jobs and cities.

So they settled on Cape Cod, where they have family.

It was never Sherman's plan to coach high school. He didn't need the job. But he accepted an offer to coach for $6,000 a year, partly because he wanted to help kids and partly because all good coaches have a disease when it comes to coaching. They just can't get it out of their blood.

Sherman wanted to hold a football camp and approached Nauset athletic director Keith Kenyon about the possibility of using the school's field. Kenyon was also the head football coach, but he was giving that up to become the assistant principal.

"I just figured at that point, what do I have to lose?" Kenyon said. "When you've got an NFL coach and former Division I college coach on the line, you've got to throw the Hail Mary."

That meant mentioning to Sherman that the head-coaching job was open. Sherman said he wasn't interested. Months passed and Kenyon waited patiently, looking for any chance to sell Sherman on the job. Sherman said he wanted to make sure he'd commit 100 percent, as it's only fair to the kids. And then, finally…

Sherman checked the ego—though he doesn't seem to have one—at the door and took the job.

Kenyon said the team won just three games last year and lost 44 seniors over the past two seasons. What was left for Sherman was an overly young roster. Still, Sherman has struggled to accept the losing.

Kenyon, who stayed on at Sherman's request to coach special teams, reminded him that at the high school level, players suddenly develop.

"I told him that next year, he won't even recognize some of the players," Kenyon said.

The point is, Kenyon said, Sherman will have this team winning soon.

He's already learning and making adjustments. Early this season, he had his team do a walk-through on campus before a night game. Then, the team got on the bus and was nearly late because of something Sherman hadn't planned for: rush-hour traffic.

"We were running a little late when I remembered," he said. "I don't think I've been on a bus the last 30 years without a police escort going to a stadium. It was a little bit of a realization that I was at where I'm at. There's no police escort to games and not 80,000 people in the stands. But I was never wrapped up in those things anyway. When my wife and I decided to live here, and we knew we were going back to high school…you have to check your ego at the door.

"I'm going back 30-plus years to before I went off to be a college coach. It's not a major transition, really, but still when you walk out on the football field and the footballs aren't laid out perfectly and the field's not laid out quite right and the goalposts are a little crooked and you're kicking the ball into the woods, well, that is a little different than what you're used to."

Sherman acknowledged that losing is just as tough now as ever—in some ways, even more so because he's dealing with kids. In talking with Sherman, there is the sense that he's searching for something. He still has the same passion for this as always, he said.

Two weeks ago, I talked with Dennis Erickson, former coach of the San Francisco 49ers and two-time NCAA national champion at Miami. He said that at that top level, he felt the job wasn't even about coaching, but instead about public relations and being a CEO. He is now the running backs coach at Utah, where he feels that while he's at a lower level of a job, he has returned to the purity of coaching.

"That's what's rewarding about coaching," Erickson said. "The situations with young people, regardless of their background, just helping them be successful. … In my first head-coaching job, at Billings Central High School, I got just as much enjoyment out of that as when we were winning the national championship.

"The pressure to win is so unbelievable at some places it kind of ruins the fun. Now, I'm back around to why I really got into coaching."

Sherman has a different attitude.

"I always felt that you could impact people even with players making millions of dollars," he said. "Maybe they look at you a little differently because they see you as management. But it never scared me off as far as trying to develop a guy's talent and asking about his character."

But Sherman, who's 60, said he has gotten a quick reminder that you have to go about it differently with kids.

"They're impacted differently in different ways," he said. "It's something new every day. Kids miss practice with a dental appointment or an eye exam; I'm not used to dealing with those types of things.

"You compliment a young man's performance, and it makes his day, makes his week. Conversely, if you don't present it the right way, you can bury somebody as well. They're very impressionable. With the millennium generation, when things don't go well they kind of panic a little bit. They're multitaskers and can handle a lot of things at once. But they don't handle adversity real well. Still, there are a lot of positives when you see a kid do something for the first time."

Sherman said his style has always been to be direct, call good things good and bad things bad. Now, he's trying to soften up when he talks about the bad. Maybe he refers to things as growing or learning experiences.

And he admitted to backing off one promise. In the NFL, players stay till they get the job done. At high school, players need to be home for dinner and homework. Sherman vowed to never interfere with that. Now, he said, he finds himself holding some longer practices than he expected.

Sherman doesn't watch many NFL games anymore because it makes him antsy. And, to be honest, the high level of play reminds him of the things he was able to try as a coach but can't now. But that's OK, he said. He's not yearning to leave Nauset and might stay as long as he thinks he can be helpful.

"There are a lot of issues these kids have to deal with that I never had to deal with," he said. "We have to help them get through that.

"A friend of mine told me this: One time there was a [high school] coach in West Texas and someone asked him 'Coach, how's your team going to be?' He said, 'In about 15, 20 years, I'll tell you how the team was.'"

In Sherman's new world without Favre or police escorts, the goal is to help kids 20 years down the line.

A win Friday wouldn't hurt, though.

 

Greg Couch covers college football for Bleacher Report.

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College Football Picks Week 10: Odds and Spread Predictions for Top 25 Teams

Things are starting to heat up on the college football landscape, especially with the release of the first edition of the College Football Playoff rankings. 

It gives the college football world its first peek at which teams are the one's to beat in the quest for a national championship. Here are the current rankings:

Clemson gets the top spot in the first postseason poll of the season, and the Tigers have quite the test this week. Taking on No. 16 Florida State, the Seminoles appear to be the last real roadblock of Clemson's campaign, as they finish the season with three manageable games. 

A big reason why they are on the cusp of making the College Football Playoff is because of their defense, which has been unbeatable, as ESPN.com's David Hale points out:

They aren't the only team within the top four that has a tough matchup during Week 10. Below is the upcoming schedule for the Top 25 teams of the College Football Playoff rankings:

Game of the Week

No. 2 LSU at No. 4 Alabama

Sure, this could have been a stunt to get even more viewers considering there are plenty of undefeated teams that could take the No. 4 spot, but one-loss Alabama will be hosting No. 2 LSU in a game that is going to rock the CFP rankings in just the first week. 

But what a matchup this is going to be. LSU, now in the meat of their schedule, is about to take on three ranked SEC opponents in their last four games. If they somehow win out, they are a lock for the playoff, and might be considered the favorites. 

They have the right weapon in running back Leonard Fournette, who is having a historic season as SEC Network points out:

He will face his toughest test of a Heisman Trophy-worthy campaign in the Alabama defense, which is allowing just over 78 rushing yards per game this season. 

The problem is Alabama hasn't lost to LSU since 2011 and have quite a running back of their own in Derrick Henry, who Fournette has a lot of respect for, according to WAFB's Jacques Doucet:

If he is able to wear down the LSU defense and put some points on the board, the Alabama defense, which has allowed just over 16 points per game this season, could hold down the Tigers just enough. 

Granted, the pick might be different if this game was being played in Death Valley, but being the home team is sure to help out Alabama. 

Prediction: Alabama 23, LSU 17

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Bowl Predictions 2015: CFP Projections Ahead of Week 10's Biggest Clashes

This week has finally allowed us to fully embrace what makes college football so much fun: arguing in the middle of the season about an arbitrary poll.

The College Football Playoff committee unveiled its rankings Tuesday, and while the poll will ultimately determine who plays in the national semifinals, it has little impact for the time being with the playoff so far away:

For a frame of reference, Mississippi State, Florida State, Auburn and Ole Miss made up the top four of last year's first CFP poll. Only the Seminoles actually made the playoff, and Ohio State, the eventual national champion, climbed all the way up from 16th to fourth by the end of the regular season.

Suffice it to say, the top four this week will look a lot different at various points throughout the year.

The four teams listed below look to be the strongest contenders to make the playoff.

 

College Football Playoff Projections

 

Top-Four Favorites Ohio State: Survive and Advance

Ohio State can win every game between now and the end of the regular season on a last-second Hail Mary—after coming back from a 30-point deficit—and the Buckeyes will still have earned a top-four spot.

To a certain extent, a champion's advantage isn't a bad thing, especially when the reigning champion in question returned so many key players from the previous year. As middling as OSU has looked at times, the committee can't keep the Bucks out if they run the table and win the Big Ten.

And the chances Ohio State does win out the rest of the way are extremely high. The Buckeyes' toughest remaining tests are at home to Michigan State, which should've lost to Michigan and beat both Purdue and Rutgers by a combined 10 points, and Michigan, which relies on Jake Rudock and Wilton Speight at quarterback.

The reigning champs looked to have turned a corner with J.T. Barrett at QB. He may be suspended for the Minnesota game, but he'll be free to resume starting duties next week versus Illinois, thus allowing him a week to prepare for the Spartans and Wolverines.

Ohio State wouldn't automatically lay claim to the top seed with a 13-0 record, but a national semifinals berth would be the team's deserved reward.

 

Death, Taxes and Alabama in the National Championship Picture

A number of fans were up in arms about the committee's decision to include Alabama in the top four of the initial CFP rankings.

Smart Football's Chris B. Brown used the occasion to argue the current playoff format may not be as effective as first hoped at sorting out deserving candidates:

Yet the new College Football Playoff lacks the very thing that makes playoffs in other sports so palatable, namely a semblance of objective certainty. While the defective BCS formula should have been interred long ago, it has been replaced by a Council of Platonic Guardians. The College Football Playoff selection committee will meet confidentially, then announce the identities of the playoff participants by edict. That's not exactly what I'd call "settling it on the field."

TCU and Baylor both have great cases to be in the top four, but putting the Crimson Tide at No. 4 wasn't entirely without merit, either, as ESPN Stats & Info illustrated:

Plus, getting too upset about Alabama's ranking is somewhat fruitless right now anyway.

Either the Tide will beat LSU on Saturday, thus truly proving they're deserving of a playoff spot, or they'll lose to the Tigers and fall out of the top four, likely for the remainder season.

In addition, those up in arms about how "Alabama would be in the playoff ahead of the Bears or Horned Frogs if the season ended right now" are arguing a nonexistent hypothetical. They might as well rail against how Auburn was be going to the Sugar Bowl if the season ended with the unveiling of the preseason Associated Press Poll.

Aside from Clemson, no team is more complete on both sides of the ball than Alabama. If they win out, the Crimson Tide will have more than proved themselves worthy of a playoff spot.

 

TCU is the 'One True Champion'

No conference received a harsher deal than the Big 12 with the initial CFP rankings. Both Baylor and TCU could conceivably be in the top four, and instead, the Bears and Horned Frogs are both on the outside looking in.

As ESPN.com's Jake Trotter highlighted, however, everything should work out for the Big 12 by the time the regular season is over:

Plus, the conference will actually have one recognized champion, unlike last year when Baylor and TCU shared the honor. That step should ensure the Big 12 has a representative in the national semifinals.

The question is whether Baylor, TCU, Oklahoma or Oklahoma State will ultimately get the nod.

The Sooners haven't looked all that convincing, not to mention they play the Bears and Cowboys on the road later this month.

Baylor, meanwhile, is bedding in a freshman quarterback with three Top 25 opponents still on the schedule. Jarrett Stidham is a talented passer, but it's asking a lot of him to make a seamless transition into a starting role at this stage of the year.

Oklahoma State has the easiest road, with Baylor, TCU and Oklahoma all making the trip to Stillwater, Oklahoma. But the Cowboys haven't beaten any top-quality opposition, with the victories over West Virginia and Kansas State looking slightly worse in retrospect.

That leaves the Horned Frogs, who are the most complete team in the Big 12. TCU's defense has looked somewhat shaky, but the unit is stronger than that of Baylor, while Oklahoma State and Oklahoma won't keep up with a Trevone Boykin-led offense.

 

No Pressure, Clemson. Just Don't Blow It

Back in October, Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney railed against what he felt was disrespect directed toward his team:

Swinney had a point—to a certain extent. The Tigers have been one of the strongest—if not the strongest—team in college football this season, but that doesn't mean they've above criticism for the program's past record.

Clemson is 10-16 against ranked teams under Swinney and has lost five of its last eight Top 25 matchups. The Tigers are almost the anti-Alabama in that they continually miss out on the national championship, and you can count on them suffering one or two crippling defeats.

Clemson has a chance to turn that narrative around this weekend, and beating Florida State would represent a form of catharsis, especially if the Tigers go on to win a national championship.

The Seminoles are also the toughest team Clemson has left on the schedule. The Tigers finish up the regular season with Syracuse, Wake Forest and South Carolina, none of which should pose a strong test. The ACC's Atlantic Division isn't exactly a murderer's row of potential opponents in the conference title game, either.

Florida State is the biggest hurdle for Clemson en route to a playoff spot, and a win would be enormous for Swinney and his players.

Of course, a loss would mean the Tigers have to deal with even more questions about whether they'll ever get over the hump and become a true championship contender.

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