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Mississippi Rebels vs. Texas A&M Aggies Betting Odds: Analysis and Prediction

The Rebels of Ole Miss just picked up their biggest win in decades, an upset of hated Alabama in Oxford. On the other end of the spectrum, the Aggies of Texas A&M just got roasted at Mississippi State. So two teams coming off very different outcomes meet when A&M, now just 3-7 against the spread over its last 10 games, runs with the Rebs Saturday night in College Station.

 

Point spread: Aggies opened as one-point favorites at Kyle Field, according to sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark. (Line updates and matchup report)

 

Odds Shark computer prediction: 28.4-20.6 Aggies

 

Why the Mississippi Rebels can cover the spread

The Rebels are on a 6-0 ATS run after beating the Tide last week, 23-17, as five-point home dogs. Ole Miss trailed at the half, 14-3, but held Alabama to just a field goal in the second half, while getting a Bo Wallace touchdown pass—his third of the game—with three minutes to go for the victory, snapping a 10-game losing streak against the Tide.

So Ole Miss is tied for the lead in the SEC West at 2-0. The Rebels won't scare anybody on offense—although Wallace has thrown 14 touchdown passes already—but their defense ranks sixth in the nation overall and second in scoring, allowing just 10 points per game. Also, while the Rebs have lost the last two seasons to Texas A&M, they've covered the spread both games, as dogs of 13 and seven points.

 

Why the Texas A&M Aggies can cover the spread

The Aggies ran into a buzzsaw last week, losing at Mississippi State, 48-31. The Bulldogs could do little wrong, jumping out to a 28-7 lead and holding off A&M from there. But before that, the Aggies had won five in a row, with victories over South Carolina and Arkansas that gave them a 2-0 SEC start.

A&M still ranks third in the nation in both total offense (583 yards per game) and scoring (48 points per game), as new quarterback Kenny Hill (21 touchdown passes) continues to put his stamp on this team. Since joining the SEC the Aggies have beaten the Rebels twice, last year winning in Oxford, 41-38.

 

Smart Pick

This is the perfect setup for the "reversal of fortune" factor; Ole Miss just upset Alabama, while Texas A&M got blitzed on the road against Mississippi State. But the Aggies are perfectly capable of bouncing back, and the Rebs have yet to prove they're good enough to avoid the predictable letdown. So the pick here is with Texas A&M, given the short spread.

 

Trends

  • The total has gone UNDER in five of Mississippi's last five games on the road
  • Texas A&M is 6-1 SU in its last seven games

 

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

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Georgia Bulldogs vs. Missouri Tigers Betting Odds: Analysis and Prediction

Two SEC teams battling for the conference’s East Division title meet Saturday when the Missouri Tigers host the Georgia Bulldogs. The Tigers won last year’s meeting 41-26 on the road as 6.5-point underdogs and will try to keep Georgia from returning the favor at Memorial Stadium, with the Bulldogs opening as small road favorites.

 

Point spread: Bulldogs opened as 1.5-point favorites at Memorial Stadium, according to sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark. (line updates and matchup report).

 

Odds Shark computer prediction: 30.0-29.8 Bulldogs

 

Why the Georgia Bulldogs can cover the spread

Georgia won the last road meeting with Missouri 41-20 two years ago as a one-point favorite, so the team knows what it takes to get a victory there. While the Bulldogs have underachieved a bit this season—failing to cover three of their past four games—they are still capable of running the table, winning the SEC and making it into the four-team playoff at the end of the year.

A lot of things obviously have to fall into place in order for that to happen, but Georgia has one of the best players in the country in running back Todd Gurley, who rushed 25 times for 163 yards and two touchdowns last week in a 44-17 rout of Vanderbilt and also completed a 50-yard pass.

 

Why the Missouri Tigers can cover the spread

The Tigers are 7-3 against the spread in their last 10 home games and have some confidence knowing they upset the Bulldogs last year. Mizzou is also 4-1 ATS in its past five home games against SEC opponents, showing that the team knows how to get up for conference foes. The Tigers are also coming off a bye week that gave them extra time to prepare for Georgia and senior quarterback Hutson Mason, who has totaled just 268 passing yards with three touchdowns and three interceptions in the last two games combined. Even though containing Gurley will be the top concern for Missouri, making Mason try to win the game should be the goal if the Tigers are going to pull off the win.

 

Smart pick

The Bulldogs have gotten erratic quarterback play from Mason this season, otherwise they may still be unbeaten with a better shot at the national title. Instead, they essentially face a must-win situation here on the road against a very good Mizzou team that knows it too can put itself in good position for the East Division title with a victory. Georgia is just 1-5 ATS in its last six road games and has gone 0-4 versus the line in its past four conference games away from home. Expect those trends to continue as the Tigers win again as dogs and cover the spread for the fourth time in five games overall.

 

Trends

  • The total has gone OVER in five of Georgia's last five games
  • Missouri is 15-4 ATS in its last 19 games

 

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

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Florida State Seminoles vs. Syracuse Orange Betting Odds: Analysis, Prediction

Playing through controversy and suspensions, Florida State is off to a 5-0 start in defense of its national championship. The Seminoles are also 3-1 against the spread in their last four road games, showing that good teams giving shorter spreads than usual are good bets. FSU finds itself in that spot again this week, when it visits Syracuse Saturday afternoon.

 

Point spread: Seminoles opened as 20-point favorites at Carrier Dome, according to sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark (line updates and matchup report).

 

Odds Shark computer prediction: 42.5-21.1 Seminoles

 

Why the Florida State Seminoles can cover the spread

The Seminoles are 5-0 after brushing off Wake Forest last week 43-3, covering the spread as 37-point favorites. Florida State spotted the Demon Deacons the first three points of the game, then scored the last 43, picking up the cover on a meaningless field goal with five minutes left in the game.

The 'Noles outgained Wake Forest 475-126 and went 10-of-18 on third-down conversions. Two weeks ago, FSU spotted North Carolina State an early 24-7 lead, then rolled back for a 56-41 victory, coming up just short of the cover at -16. So in the four games this season Jameis Winston has started, the Seminoles have averaged 43 points.

 

Why the Syracuse Orange can cover the spread

The Orange started 2-0 this year but have struggled recently, as the schedule has gotten a little tougher. Three weeks ago, Syracuse outgained Maryland by over 200 yards but lost because it gave up a couple of big plays for scores.

Two weeks ago, the Orange gave Notre Dame a decent game at MetLife Stadium, although they couldn't quite cover as 10-point dogs.

Last week, Syracuse only trailed Louisville by six points late into the third quarter but gave up the last 16 points of the game. If the Orange can limit the big plays, perhaps pull off a couple of their own and give a full four-quarter effort, they could stay in this one.

 

Smart Pick

Florida State beat Syracuse last year 59-3, covering at -37, and while the 'Noles won't win this one by 56 points, they will win. And teams that win games usually—repeat, usually—cover the spread. So the pick here goes with FSU, at a line that's two touchdowns less than the one it covered in this spot last year.

 

Trends

  • The total has gone over in six of Florida State's last seven games on the road.
  • Syracuse is 2-4 straight up in its last six games at home.

 

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

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Forget the Red River Rivalry, Why TCU vs. Baylor Is the Game to Watch

The Red River Rivalry has long been established as the Big 12's biggest and most storied game. Perhaps it's time for a new game to usher the conference into the next phase.

The TCU Horned Frogs will travel to Waco, Texas, to square off with the Baylor Bears in a game that has major implications on their College Football Playoff hopes. 

Bleacher Report College Football Analysts Barrett Sallee and Adam Kramer preview one of the weekend's biggest games.

Is Baylor vs. TCU the must-watch game this weekend?

Watch the video and let us know! 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Meet the Heir to Marcus Mariota's Throne, 2015 QB Travis Waller

It's time to meet the 2015 recruit that is looking to fill the void that current Oregon QB Marcus Mariota will leave when he inevitably enters the NFL. Travis Waller took some time to talk with Bleacher Report about his official visit to Oregon. 

Is Waller the next Mariota?

Watch the video and let us know.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Meet the Heir to Marcus Mariota's Throne, 2015 QB Travis Waller

It's time to meet the 2015 recruit that is looking to fill the void that current Oregon QB Marcus Mariota will leave when he inevitably enters the NFL. Travis Waller took some time to talk with Bleacher Report about his official visit to Oregon...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

BYU Cougars vs. Central Florida Knights Betting Odds: Analysis and Prediction

The BYU Cougars saw their unbeaten season come to an end last week and will try to move on without star quarterback Taysom Hill when they visit the Central Florida Knights Thursday. Hill fractured his leg in the first half of a 35-20 home loss to Utah State last Friday, as the Cougars were stunned as 21-point favorites and failed to cover the spread in their third straight game.

 

Point spread: Knights opened as three-point favorites at Bright House Networks Stadium, according to sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark. (Line updates and matchup report)

 

Odds Shark computer prediction: 27.6-26.7 Cougars

 

Why the BYU Cougars can cover the spread

Hill’s loss is likely the difference in making BYU a road dog in this spot rather than a favorite, and maybe his teammates can rally around his absence to pull off the road victory. The Cougars have been double-digit favorites in four of their first five games this season, and the other game resulted in a 41-7 rout of Texas on the road in Week 2 as one-point underdogs.

They have not been on the road since then and covered two in a row away from home to start the season, beginning with a 35-10 win at Connecticut as a 15-point favorite.

 

Why the Central Florida Knights can cover the spread

The Knights have won their last two both straight up and against the spread since losing 38-10 at Missouri in their second game of the season. They are coming off a 17-12 road victory at Houston as 2.5-point underdogs and played very well defensively in holding the Cougars to just four field goals.

Central Florida picked off Houston quarterback John O’Korn twice in the win and also recovered a fumble, and the defense could again be the key against inexperienced BYU quarterback Christian Stewart, who will be making his first career start on the road and had attempted only two passes before replacing Hill in the last game.

 

Smart Pick

Hill was a legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate for the Cougars this season, and he will be sorely missed. Stewart completed just 10 of 29 passes for 172 yards with no touchdowns and three interceptions in relief of Hill last week, and that game was at home where he at least had the support of his own fans.

This will be a tough environment for Stewart to make his first start, and BYU will find it very hard to get past the loss of Hill here. The Knights have gone 7-2 ATS in their past nine home games, while the Cougars are 2-6 vs. the line in their last eight overall. Central Florida will make it eight of 10 covers at home with a double-digit win over BYU.

 

Trends

  • BYU is 2-4 ATS in its last six games on the road
  • Central Florida is 11-2 SU in its last 13 games at home

 

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

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Arkansas Razorbacks Betting Odds: Analysis, Prediction

Alabama owns a seven-game winning streak in its rivalry with Arkansas, going 5-2 ATS, winning the last two games by identical scores of 52-0. But the Crimson Tide are only 1-5 ATS in their last six SEC road contests. Alabama is on the SEC road again this week, visiting the Razorbacks Saturday night in Fayetteville.

 

Point spread: Crimson Tide opened as nine-point favorites for the Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium encounter, according to sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark (line updates and matchup report).

 

Odds Shark computer prediction: 40.5-22.2 Crimson Tide

 

Why the Alabama Crimson Tide can cover the spread

The Tide are coming off a 23-17 loss at Ole Miss last week, so they'll probably be angry coming into this one. Alabama led the Rebs 14-3 at the half but gave up a Dak Prescott touchdown pass with three minutes to go to lose. The Tide lost last week despite out-gaining Ole Miss 399-323 and out-rushing the Rebs 168-72.

Alabama has out-gained every opponent this season by at least 73 yards and out-rushed each foe by at least 89 yards. On the season the Tide ranks third in the nation in both total defense and run defense, and, somewhat surprisingly, 10th in total offense.

 

Why the Arkansas Razorbacks can cover the spread

The Hogs are 3-2 SU, 4-1 ATS after losing at Texas A&M two weeks ago 35-28 in overtime but covering as nine-point underdogs. Arkansas led that game 28-14 into the fourth quarter but couldn't quite hang on. In the end the Razorbacks had out-rushed the Aggies 285-137 and won the time-of-possession battle by a 37-23 margin. For the season Arkansas has out-rushed opponents by a 317-139 yards-per-game margin, while quarterback Brandon Allen has compiled a 9/1 touchdown-to-interception ratio. The only game the Hogs didn't cover this year came in the opener against Auburn, when, after a 21-21 first half, they lost the second half 24-0.

 

Smart Pick

This will be an important test for Arkansas, and whether Bielema Ball can work in the SEC. The Hogs are also working off their bye week. But after losing last week Alabama might be seeing red heading into this one. So the pick here is with the Tide, on the road, giving 20 points less than it was in this spot last year.

 

Trends

  • The total has gone OVER in five of Alabama's last seven games
  • Arkansas is 2-4 ATS in its last six games when playing at home against Alabama

 

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

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Auburn Tigers vs. Mississippi State Bulldogs Betting Odds Analysis, Prediction

Auburn is 11-2 straight up and 8-5 against the spread in its last 13 games with Mississippi State, but the Bulldogs are coming off an impressive SEC victory over Texas A&M. Can the Tigers continue their recent domination of this series when the teams meet Saturday afternoon in Starkville? Or can Mississippi State knock off another SEC West foe?

 

Point spread: The Tigers opened as three-point favorites at Davis Wade Stadium at Scott Field, according to sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark. (Line updates and matchup report)

 

Odds Shark computer prediction: 38.8-27.4 Tigers

 

Why the Auburn Tigers can cover the spread

The defending SEC champion Tigers showed they're game for another run at another conference title with a 41-7 drubbing of LSU last week, easily covering the spread as seven-point favorites. Auburn outgained the other Tigers 566-280, racked up 298 yards on the ground and held LSU to an 0-for-13 effort on third downs.

The Auburn Tigers are averaging 268 yards rushing per game while holding foes to just 100 yards per game. Auburn also has no qualms about playing in hostile territory, going 4-0 ATS in its last four SEC conference road games.

 

Why the Mississippi State Bulldogs can cover the spread

The Bulldogs are 5-0 SU, 4-1 ATS and 2-0 in SEC play after bombing Texas A&M last week 48-31. MSU spotted the Aggies the first touchdown of the game, then scored the next 28 points to take an insurmountable lead.

The Bulldogs racked up 559 yards of offense, 289 yards on the ground and got five total touchdowns from quarterback Dak Prescott, a new leader in the Heisman Trophy race. Mississippi State ranks 12th in the country in total offense and has outrushed foes so far by a 274-98 yards-per-game margin. Last year the Bulldogs lost to the Tigers on a late score 24-20 but covered the spread as six-point road dogs.

 

Smart Pick

Both teams are coming off big wins, so emotionally this matchup is about a wash. But Auburn owns an edge on defense, and Nick Marshall still runs the show. So the pick here goes with the visiting Tigers, giving the short spread.

 

Trends

  • Auburn is 4-1 SU in its last five games on the road.
  • Mississippi State is 5-0 SU in its last five games.

 

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

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

College Football Rankings 2014: Week 7 Standings and Top 25 Team Records

A number of upsets shook up the college football landscape, but entering Week 7, no team suffered a bigger blow than the Oregon Ducks.

Losing at home to Arizona knocked them out of the playoff picture at the moment, dropping the Marcus Mariota-led Ducks from second to 12th in the AP Top 25 poll. A previously No. 8 UCLA team quarterbacked by another premier prospect in Brett Hundley lost 30-28 to Utah, falling out of the top 10 in the process.

Ole Miss also catapulted into the thick of the postseason race thanks to a rousing victory over the mighty Alabama Crimson Tide.

But with some of the letdowns for several premier programs, there were a number of sensational performances that saw drastic changes take place in the rankings.

Here is a closer look at the three teams atop the AP poll, along with a listing of records for all the ranked teams and Bleacher Report's own Top 25.

 

 

Analyzing Best Top 25 Teams

No. 1 Florida State Seminoles

Falling behind 3-0 to Wake Forest in the first quarter was a bit of a scare for the reigning national champions, who'd had close calls in three previous games this season.

Then Seminoles quarterback Jameis Winston led the team on myriad scoring drives, as FSU scored 43 unanswered points for a statement win. ESPN's College GameDay noted how steady coach Jimbo Fisher's team has been:

Winston has kept the passing attack operating at a high level, as it's averaged 325.4 yards per game. The concerning thing is that big-bodied ball-carrier Karlos Williams has had a hard time getting it going on the ground.

But Williams has been banged up, and Jared Shanker of ESPN reports that the running back likely won't be in action at Syracuse:

That might be fine for now. When Florida State plays host to Notre Dame in the game thereafter, it will be a different story. The Seminoles need balance to complement Winston, especially with a defense ranked 54th in the nation versus the run, per NCAA.com.

If top receiver Rashad Greene can't recover from a concussion in time for the Fighting Irish game, it will be all the more up to Winston to carry the weight.

As long as Winston is under center operating Fisher's complex, pro-style offense, though, FSU has a great chance to remain atop the rankings.

 

No. 2 Auburn Tigers

Apparently there isn't much of a hangover from Auburn's national title game loss to Florida State last year. Tigers coach Gus Malzahn continues to make magic with his run-heavy offense.

Against vaunted LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis in Week 6, Malzahn drew up a game plan that saw Auburn crush its SEC adversary 41-7. Greg Ostendorf of ESPN.com highlighted how Auburn came flying out of the gates in that one:

Something similar will be necessary to seize the momentum on the road this next Saturday, when the Tigers take on the Mississippi State Bulldogs. That will mark the biggest game on the 2014 college football slate thus far.

ESPN Stats & Info's numbers suggest the Bulldogs are the first of several potential pitfalls that could hamper Auburn's bid to return to the championship game:

But what does help is that the defense is vastly improved from a season ago, conceding just 14.4 points per contest, which ranks ninth in the nation. As long as QB Nick Marshall can avoid critical throwing mistakes and the well-oiled ground game stays intact, Auburn will be a tough out.

With the ability to defend so well and chew up a ton of clock on offense, opponents will be hard-pressed to get into any rhythm against the Tigers for the rest of the season.

 

No. 3 Mississippi State Bulldogs

Given the massive implications of their tilt with Auburn on Saturday, the Bulldogs are the team worth delving a bit deeper into among the two tied at No. 3 in the AP—not to take anything away from Ole Miss.

Mississippi State QB Dak Prescott has been playing like a legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate. Former Florida signal-caller Tim Tebow took home that hardware wearing No. 15, and NFL Network's Ian Rapoport offered some insight in that context:

Prescott had five total TDs in the Bulldogs' rout of Texas A&M last week, but the defense was most impressive in slowing down Kenny Hill and the Aggies' air-raid offense until the outcome was well decided.

Most of Texas A&M's scores came in garbage time after the Bulldogs had taken a 41-17 lead into the fourth. The numbers reflect MSU's dominance:

ESPN's Mike Greenberg believes Mississippi State is the best overall team in the country:

The Bulldogs will certainly get a chance to prove that versus Auburn. If the strong front seven, led by linebacker Benardrick McKinney, can stuff the Tigers' prolific run game, that will open up Prescott to take the game over. MSU is yielding just 2.91 yards per carry through five games.

As deep and competitive as the SEC is, Mississippi State has the chance to protect its home Davis Wade Stadium and secure a landmark triumph for the program. It will justify the retention of coach Dan Mullen following three seasons of hovering around .500.

Most important, the turnaround from a 7-6 campaign in 2013 to national-championship contention this year would be among the most amazing achievements in recent college football history.

We will find out what the Bulldogs are truly made of come Sunday against an Auburn team whose nucleus rose from even greater obscurity to be an elite team a year ago.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Michigan Wolverines vs. Penn State Nittany Lions Complete Game Preview

Michigan (2-4) football is in total collapse following three straight losses on the gridiron and embroiled in the swirling controversy of quarterback Shane Morris’ delayed concussion diagnosis. Two games into its conference slate, Michigan is dead last in the Big Ten East Division and is desperate for a win.

The team’s struggles on and off the field have both coach Brady Hoke and athletic director David Brandon fighting for their jobs. But the team is not giving up, vowing to “win the week” for their embattled coach. The Wolverines rallied against Rutgers, falling short after a potential game-winning field goal was blocked in the closing minutes.

Next up is a game under the lights at venerable Michigan Stadium. The Wolverines have been able to muster some magical moments during previous home night games and will need some to beat Penn State.

The game has no impact on the national rankings—neither team is ranked—but Michigan will be under the microscope for its performance on the field and at the gate. Hoke is trying to spark his team back to life in an attempt to salvage the season while hoping for a boost from the home crowd. The crowd’s size will also be a factor—Michigan’s streak of consecutive 100,000 crowds is on the line, with rumors of protest against Michigan’s increasingly unpopular athletic director.

Date: Saturday, October 11, 2014

Time: 7:00 p.m. EDT

Place: Michigan Stadium (109,901), Ann Arbor, Mich.

Series vs. Penn State: Michigan leads 10-7

Television: ESPN2

Radio: Michigan Sports Network, Sirius (113), XM (195)

Spread: Penn State by 2 via Odds Shark

Live Stats: MGoBlue.com GameTracker

Last Meeting vs. Penn State

Last year’s 4OT 43-40 loss marked the beginning of a downward spiral for the Wolverines that has carried over to this season. Michigan is 4-9 since that loss at Happy Valley. The Wolverines lead the all-time series (10-7) but have lost the last four games versus the Nittany Lions.


*Information according to University of Michigan Wolverine Football game notes.

Begin Slideshow

Super 16 Poll Week 7: Complete Rankings Released for 2014 Season

The Super 16 poll is one of the truly great theoretical situations going. It's as fun as wondering who would win in a fight between Batman and Wolverine, or one bear versus 300 organized Yorkies (the organization is a very key caveat in such a fight).

It's just fun to imagine which 16 teams would deserve to be in a College Football Playoff if the sport ever undertook such a format. Thankfully, a group of voters does just that each week in the Super 16 poll.

Let's take a look at how they voted this week.

 

Rankings

 

Analysis

Well, anything you might have thought you knew about a theoretical 16-team playoff and how it might have shaped up by the end of the year changed this week. 

Just consider this, from SportsCenter on Twitter: 

Or this, from Ralph D. Russo of The Associated Press:

Wow. 

That's the AP poll, though, and of course, we're more concerned here with the Super 16 Poll and what a 16-team playoff might look like. The above tweets provided a nice context for the historical number of upsets we saw this weekend, sure, but in truth, the weekend that was wouldn't have completely altered the state of a larger playoff format.

Yes, there has been some moving and shaking around on the rankings. After this weekend, there was always bound to be. Oregon was always going to drop down the rankings after losing to Arizona. Alabama was going to take a hit losing to Ole Miss. Ditto for Texas A&M and UCLA.

Of course, the beauty of a 16-team playoff is that one loss wouldn't really hurt the top teams in the nation and would instead give them the chance to prove themselves on the field against the other top 15 teams at the end of the year. This might negate the impact of certain victories on the national level, but it would add a whole new level of drama to the final tournament.

Obviously, the story of the week is Ole Miss after its stunning victory over Alabama on a Saturday that saw the SEC West truly shaken and stirred and turned on its head.

“It’s one of the greatest victories in the history of our school," Hugh Freeze said on his postgame radio show, per Rusty Hampton of The New York Times.

It sure was. And it sure opened up things in the SEC West, where Auburn, Ole Miss and Mississippi State are all looking to earn the top billing, while Alabama and Texas A&M are left wondering if they can fight their way back into a place in the SEC Championship.

It's basically a given that at least one team from the SEC West is going to be represented in this year's College Football Playoff. And that's a shame, because in a 16-team playoff, it currently looks as though five teams from the toughest conference and division in college football would have the chance to prove on the field against other conferences that they were the best team in the country.

It's fun to dream. 

More than a few schools in the Big Ten and Pac-12 would be left dreaming in this format, as it appears each conference lacks a truly elite team, and quite a few squads would be left fighting it out for one of the last spots. That, of course, is where the Super 16 Poll would become truly intriguing—for the teams around 12-21 on the polls and rankings looking to prove they deserved a shot in the big dance. 

Alas, for now it's only a top four, and one that looks as though it will include Florida State, two SEC teams and either Notre Dame, the top Big 12 team or perhaps Michigan State.

It's a better format than we had before. It's just not as compelling as it could be.

 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Pac-12 Football: Top 10 Single-Game Performances Through 6 Weeks

The Pac-12 took a lovely stroll through the park in the month of September before quickly strapping on a parachute and jumping out the nearest airplane on Saturday. All five home teams lost thanks to some memorable performances, several of which will be featured here.

But outstanding individual efforts have highlighted every week of the season thus far, and we're here to rank the Top 10. Keep in mind that two factors are considered in the creation of this list: quality of opponent and statistics put up. In other words, having a good game against a great team could mean more than having a great game against a bad opponent.

Then again, some players like, er, the one shown above, are putting up numbers so mind-boggling that it doesn't matter who they've come against.

Take a look at the Top 10 single-game performances in the Pac-12 thus far, and as always, be sure to point out the glaring omissions in the comments!

 

All stats via cfbstats.com

 

Begin Slideshow

Pac-12 Football: Top 10 Single-Game Performances Through 6 Weeks

The Pac-12 took a lovely stroll through the park in the month of September before quickly strapping on a parachute and jumping out the nearest airplane on Saturday...

Begin Slideshow

Georgia Football: 4 Startling Statistics Through 5 Weeks

The halfway point of season is here, and the Georgia Bulldogs are closer to achieving the goals that they set at the beginning of the year, including winning the SEC East.

And while the Bulldogs have the talent to win the SEC East, they will go only as far as Todd Gurley will take them. Gurley is statistically the best running back in the SEC.

Gurley leads in rushing yards, rushing touchdowns, yards per carry and yards per game, which is not a surprise to anyone. But he also leads in one category that is almost unreal.

Here are four startling statistics though the first five weeks of the season.

Begin Slideshow

Ted's Takes on the Pac-12: Parity Wreaks Havoc as Power Programs Fall

Could anyone have predicted a Pac-12 football weekend in which Oregon, Stanford, UCLA and USC all lost?

Was there a crazy dream in which the highest-ranked Pac-12 football program in October's first week would be Arizona?

Words like chaos and havoc float freely after this unlikely scenario unfolded.   

I would add one more word: parity.

That was the word uttered in a discussion with some Colorado coaches Friday in Boulder, in the aftermath of Oregon's loss. The point was made, and echoed, that the chasm between Pac-12 top and bottom has narrowed.

The size of the divide could be argued, but Utah and Arizona State supported the contention Saturday.

To try to make sense of the chaos, havoc and parity, let's analyze a few snapshots from the upsets:

 

Terris Jones-Grigsby runs over Oregon's best defensive back for a second-half touchdown.

Is Oregon soft? It's a word no football team wants to hear, but the Ducks must confront this.

In August, it was the top question we posed about this team's championship hopes. In September, a win over Michigan State calmed fears. But on October 2, Arizona exposed Oregon for the second consecutive season.

Jones-Grigsby played the role of Ka'deem Carey for this year's Wildcats. After catching a pass on a wheel route down the left sideline, one obstacle blocked the goal line, Oregon's top-rated DB Ife Ekpre-Olumu. Jones-Grigsby ran right through and over Ekpre-Olumu to score. Blunt force overcame a defender. Win for Arizona.

The play's symbolism may last throughout the rest of this season.

In Oregon, they like to refer to "Chip Kelly's offense." The truth is that Rich Rodriguez was a pioneer of the up-tempo spread offenses that have mushroomed through the game. He knows how to attack those with his 3-3-5 "stack" defense, and his own offense is thriving with its third quarterback in the last three years. First-year starter Anu Solomon held his own against Marcus Mariota. Arizona had 13 third-quarter first downs and won the second half.

 

Utah runs for 242 yards and sacks Brett Hundley 10 times.

Utah's offense was subpar against Washington State. Coach Kyle Whittingham was emphatic in pinpointing that shortcoming. So when Utah stalled on its first three drives at the Rose Bowl, Travis Wilson was out and Kendal Thompson became the Utes quarterback.

Thompson is not a strong passer, but Wilson was unable to generate a consistent pass attack. So Utah turned to the ground and won the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball.

Highlights focused on UCLA's missed field goal on the final play, overlooking the drive engineered by Utah to win the game. The Utes ran the ball on nine consecutive plays. UCLA knew the run was coming but could not stop it.

The Bruins also knew Utah was going to rush strong at Hundley but could not prevent 10 sacks. UCLA's offensive line has been unsettled early in the season. Between different pass-protection schemes and Hundley adopting a determination to save sacks by throwing incompletions, UCLA has to correct that problem by Saturday's visit from Oregon.

 

Stanford fails to cover Notre Dame's Ben Koyack on the game's biggest play.

When Stanford doesn't run, it loses its offensive identity.

Blessed with blocking tight ends and fullbacks, the Cardinal have been the welcome antidote to today's 100-plus-play spread offenses, with an abundance of sideways passing. But no running back has emerged in a lead role, thus Kevin Hogan has been asked to create more offense. With more experience and a strong receiver combo in Ty Montgomery and Devon Cajuste, the Cardinal should have a stronger pass attack. Yet, in key moments, Hogan still does more damage with his legs than his arms.

Ben Gardner, closest to Koyack in the slot at the fourth-down snap, ran toward the wide receiver on that side in a double-cover. As Koyack ran by Gardner, there was no Stanford defender deep. Such a glaring defensive mistake, coupled with the miniscule 47 rushing yards, spoiled an otherwise brilliant day by the Cardinal.

 

USC stands and watches Jaelen Strong catch the game-winning pass.

Who were the impostors wearing Trojan uniforms Saturday? Late in the game, needing one first down to clinch a win, USC lined up in the pistol formation.

The pistol? This is USC! Student-body left, student-body right with five vending machines dressed as offensive linemen leading the way. It was a jaw-dropping series of plays. Three Buck Allen runs gaining a handful of yards. USC couldn't move the ASU defensive front.

Now a punt and Cody Kessler attempts a pooch punt. It was not good. Not his fault. USC doesn't have a long snapper and punter that can execute in the fourth quarter?

Finally, the Hail Mary. What was Hayes Pullard doing standing on the goal line, looking as if he was going to fair catch a high-hanging punt? Again, not his fault.

USC looked as if they had never seen a Hail Mary attempt before (they did throw one themselves against Oregon State last week.) A nightmare ending that must make this week interminable for the Trojans coaches.

 

Washington State passes for 734 yards and asks a kicker to win the game.

To this observer, the most bizarre finish in recent memory occurred after four hours in Pullman.

In an arena football-style game played with 11 to a side on a full field, Washington State had the last possession, drove the field, failed to run for a score from second down inside the 2-yard line, and then sent out a kicker.

Seven-hundred and thirty-four passing yards. Cal hasn't stopped anyone from doing anything they want in the last three seasons.

And you send out a kicker!

With a down and a timeout to use. You could run a pass play, trusting the QB (Connor Halliday) who has positioned you to win. You could run to center the ball and use the timeout to give the kicker a straight-on attempt. You had those things under your control.

The Cougars did none of those. And the kicker missed. It was a kick he should make. But the Cougars inaction in the final seconds will haunt them.

How do you pass for 734 yards and lose?

 

Ted Robinson has been around the Pac-10 and Pac-12 for 30 years as the voice of Stanford football and now the Pac-12 Networks. He also is the San Francisco 49ers' radio play-by-play man, as part of his wide-ranging broadcast work on national and international sports.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Virginia Tech Football: Adjustments Hokies Must Make During Bye Week

The bye week has arrived for the Virginia Tech Hokies, and it couldn't have come at a better time. With injuries to players like Luther Maddy and Marshawn Williams, the extra rest could prove beneficial for the second-half stretch run.

The Hokies finished the first half of their schedule with a 4-2 record, including a 1-1 mark in conference play. 

Virginia Tech is right in the middle of things in the Coastal Division race. Tech is just one game behind the division leaders with six games remaining. 

But for the Hokies to finish the season on a strong note, they need to make some adjustments during the upcoming bye week.

Here are three adjustments Tech must make during its week off. 

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Louisville Cardinals vs. Clemson Tigers Complete Game Preview

The Clemson Tigers have plenty of momentum heading into this game, thanks to a 41-0 rout of North Carolina State on Saturday. Now they must turn their attention to the Louisville Cardinals, who are 5-1 on the season.

Bobby Petrino is known for his offense, but the Cardinals defense is what is catching national attention. Louisville will bring the No. 6 defense in the country—that ranking is based on points allowed per game—into Death Valley on Saturday, but it will have its hands full stopping Clemson’s offense.

In the last two games, Clemson has scored 91 points, and quarterback Deshaun Watson has thrown eight touchdowns over that span.

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Michigan Recruits React to ​Turmoil at Michigan​​, Brady Hoke's Job Status

The honeymoon ended for Michigan and head football coach Brady Hoke a while ago, and prolonged on-field struggles have increased speculation he may be headed toward his final stretch in Ann Arbor. Since starting the 2013 season with a 5-0 record, the Wolverines are 4-10 and recently suffered a public relations disaster surrounding the handling of quarterback Shane Morris' head injury.

The effects of program uncertainty in Ann Arbor are being felt far beyond the win-loss column, creating a significant toll on the team's recruiting efforts. A 2015 class that once challenged for the top overall spot in national ratings has slipped to 25th in 247Sports' national class rankings.

Hoke and his staff, facing mounting questions about their tenuous situation, have failed to pick up a commitment during the past two months and recently lost Darian Roseboro, a 4-star defensive end from North Carolina who opted to reopen his recruitment in late September:

From several standpoints, the floodgates actually opened long before a 2014 campaign that currently features Michigan mired in a three-game losing streak. The Wolverines recruiting bandwagon began to veer off the tracks months prior to an embarrassing home loss to Minnesota and before giving Rutgers its first Big Ten victory.

Damien Harris, the nation's top-ranked running back, and dynamic wide receiver George Campbell, considered one of the class' most extraordinary athletes, each ended verbal pacts with the program last winter. Coveted Ohio defensive back Shaun Crawford flipped from Michigan to Notre Dame this spring.

In all, Hoke has lost grips on four 2015 prospects regarded as 4- or 5-star talents without adequately replacing them in a class that could continue to disintegrate.

“We were building a great class, but I know we've had some guys leave, and others are starting to check out other schools," Alex Malzone, a 4-star quarterback commit said. "Obviously, it's not really something we want to see happen, but I understand it, and I respect it. This is a big decision for all of us players, and you sort of need to be selfish about it."

High school athletes have been reluctant to attach themselves to a Wolverines coaching regime that may not be in place on national signing day. Some, like Florida athlete Javarius Davis, have decided to look elsewhere altogether.

"I'm not visiting Michigan anymore," he said when asked about an upcoming scheduled trip to Ann Arbor. 

Keisean Lucier-South, a 5-star pass-rusher from California, has concerns about the Wolverines' current situation but plans to go through with his official visit to campus this weekend.

"It's going to be very interesting when I get there because there are some unknowns," he said. "I don't know if Coach Hoke is going to be there at the end of this season or the start of next year. They're still recruiting me hard as ever, but it's definitely a little weird and a situation I'm not dealing with at other schools."

Lucier-South, who is also considering Oklahoma, UCLA, USC and Oregon, believes he won't be the only guest feeling some awkward tension in the air this weekend.

"There's no doubt I'm going to have some questions about what's going on with the coaching staff and program's future when I arrive on campus," he said. "I'm sure other recruits will, too. Honestly, my parents will probably be the ones who address it because they're concerned." 

Mook Reynolds, a 4-star Virginia Tech cornerback commit, also plans to attend Michigan's upcoming game against Penn State. While he isn't exactly sure how to approach the subject of possible changes with the coaching staff, Reynolds recognizes the subject as an elephant in the room.

"It's a difficult question to answer because we're all still trying to figure out what's going to happen," he said. "Really, the only thing I can do is to get to know these Michigan coaches who are there now as best I can and form relationships. If something happens and new coaches are brought in, I'll have to deal with it then."

Uncertainty swirling around Michigan's present will continue to impact its future until the university's long-term intentions are revealed.

"Personally, I don't think they'll get rid of (Hoke), but people are definitely wondering what's up," elite 2016 athlete Ahmir Mitchell said. "He has an outstanding track record, and I think a lot of guys want to play for him. Michigan is definitely a team I'm interested in, but if he was to leave, that would definitely change things in my eyes. The new coaches wouldn't have recruited me, and that bond wouldn't be there."

Standout high school juniors like Mitchell are a secondary issue for Michigan's staff these days. The primary goal is to salvage a 2015 class that still offers serious promise.

Roseboro's departure was quickly followed with a new development in Chris Clark's recruitment. The nation's No. 2 tight end and Michigan pledge remains committed, but he's decided to explore other options, including official visits to Texas and USC:

If "everything going on at Michigan" continues to move in a downward direction, it will be difficult for Hoke to maintain his grips on key commitments, much less the job he's held since 2011.

Malzone, who'd love to become the leader of a potentially program-altering class, summed up the situation in succinct fashion. 

"I think Coach Hoke has this team playing its heart out right now, but it's important to win games," he said. "The recruits know that. I know that. The coaches know that. If Michigan doesn't start picking up some wins, they could be in trouble. That's just the way it is."

 

All quotes obtained firsthand by B/R national recruiting columnist Tyler Donohue.

Recruit rankings courtesy of 247Sports.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Nebraska Football: 3 Startling Statistics Through 6 Weeks

Nebraska football fans had a lot to digest after NU’s near-miss comeback against Michigan State, coming up on the wrong end of a 27-22 score. So they can be forgiven for not diving into the numbers as Nebraska reaches the midpoint of the 2014 season.

That’s what we’re here for, of course. So here are three numbers that you wouldn’t have expected to see and how those numbers either explain where Nebraska is or help gauge where it is going in 2014.

All stats courtesy of cfbstats.com.

 

No. 8 Nationally in Rushing Offense

Many Nebraska fans turned Saturday's game against Michigan State off as things got into the third quarter. While not laudable (and boy, did they miss a show!), that decision was understandable given how anemic Nebraska’s offense looked. Coming into the game, Nebraska was No. 3 nationally in rushing offense, and NU was expected to pound Heisman candidate Ameer Abdullah and make its hay on the ground.

Nebraska ended the game—and that includes NU’s fierce comeback, remember—with 37 carries for 47 yards.

But it does give you an idea of how good Nebraska had been running the ball in the five weeks prior to Michigan State that even after such a dismal performance, Nebraska only dropped from No. 3 to No. 8 nationally. It suggests that Nebraska’s rushing attack is still formidable, even with the disastrous disappearing act it did against the Spartans on Saturday night.

 

No. 20 Nationally in Punt Returns

Hey, remember last year when Nebraska’s punt return game was a huge hindrance? Last year, Nebraska was No. 123 (out of 125) in punt returns, averaging 3.04 yards per return. Which, basically, represented the Nebraska punt returner catching the ball and immediately falling forward.

With the discovery of true freshman De'Mornay Pierson-El, though, everything has changed. Nebraska is now No. 20 nationally in punt returns, averaging 14.95 yards per return. In addition to the obvious benefits of the additional 11-plus yards of field position with every punt, Nebraska has scored two touchdowns. The second, against Michigan State, was truly the turning point keying Nebraska’s near comeback.

In other words, Nebraska’s punt return game has gone from a liability to hide to a strength that can put NU in position to win a game it had no business making even close.

 

No. 21 in Both Polls

This might be the most remarkable statistic of all, particularly if you were one of those people who turned the Michigan State game off shortly after halftime. Nebraska came into the game ranked No. 17 in the AP poll and No. 19 in the coaches poll. When Nebraska was down 27-3 going into the fourth quarter, NU fans were primarily worried about the game becoming a complete blowout.

The fourth-quarter comeback made many Nebraska fans feel better but certainly didn’t make up for how humbled NU’s offense was in the first three quarters. But apparently, the comeback also registered with poll voters, who only dropped Nebraska two and four spots, respectively.

Is that relevant? Well, to an extent. Yes, the College Football Playoff committee is independent from the polls. But it’s hard to imagine that the perception of Nebraska as not falling too far—even with being held to only 47 yards rushing—won’t have some effect on the committee.

And before you write a comment reminding me that Nebraska looks miles away from a playoff team (which is a fair observation), remember that the committee also picks the rest of the “big six” bowls based on their rankings. Should Nebraska end the season at 10-2 or 11-1—not at all an unreasonable objective given NU’s remaining schedule—that cushion from the Michigan State loss could be crucial for Nebraska to make a big-time bowl game.

 

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

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

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