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Carlos Strickland to Texas Tech: Red Raiders Land 4-Star WR Prospect

Carlos Strickland, one of the top pass-catchers in the country, has made Red Raiders fans very happy, but he has also broken a lot of hearts in the process by announcing that he will attend Texas Tech.

247Sports' Ryan Bartow reported the news:

Wide receiver Carlos Strickland (Dallas/Skyline) just verbally committed to Texas Tech according to Skyline assistant coach Eric Mims.

"WreckEm," Strickland said.

Strickland chose the Red Raiders over Cal, TCU and UCLA.

Playing at Dallas' Skyline High School, which also produced another elite 2015 recruit in linebacker Anthony Wheeler, Strickland has developed nicely during his time in high school. He caught just 10 passes in 2012 and jumped up to 33 catches for 719 yards and 10 touchdowns last season. 

Combine the improved performance with a 6'5", 194-pound frame with room to grow, and suddenly Strickland looks like one of the more underrated gems as a 4-star wide receiver. He ranks as the No. 15 wideout and No. 138 overall recruit in the 2015 class, per 247Sports' composite ratings.

It's no wonder, then, that Strickland was getting hounded, in a good way, by LSU to join the Tigers for 2015, according to a report from Shea Dixon of 247Sports, as well as offers from major programs like Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State and Oklahoma State, among others.

The Dallas Morning News provided some analysis on Strickland and highlighted some of his biggest strengths as a prospect:

Carlos Strickland is the all-purpose big play receiver. His 21.8 yards per catch last year had him among the area's best and while he only had 33 catches, 10 were for touchdowns. He has a nose for the end zone and can be an instant game changer when he's on the field.

When you have that kind of raw ability start to actualize on the football field while playing in a talent hotbed like Texas, it's no wonder so many high-profile schools were all over Strickland during the recruiting process. 

Making Strickland even more enticing is the way he will continue to evolve. No one expects a high school star to stop growing and filling out, but we haven't seen what the Texas native is capable of doing between the lines because he has so much physical projection left. 

Football has turned into a sport of quarterbacks and quick scores, so for teams to keep up with the frenetic pace, finding wide receivers who can stretch the field is imperative. Strickland is proving capable of doing that already with more room to get better. 

 

If you want to talk sports, hit me up on Twitter. 


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LSU Football: Tigers' Road to Making the College Football Playoff

LSU has a chance, albeit slight, to make the College Football Playoff. 

Despite the Tigers' losses against Mississippi State and Auburn, they can still go unbeaten the rest of the way and have a shot at making the top four. But that is only if LSU gets plenty of help elsewhere.

The first set of rankings from the College Football Playoff Committee were announced Tuesday night. Three SEC teams were controversially included in the top four, all of which the Tigers have played. 

#CFBPlayoff Rankings Top 4: 1. Mississippi State 2. Florida State 3. Auburn 4. Ole Miss pic.twitter.com/nmBpfaLM6U

— College GameDay (@CollegeGameDay) October 28, 2014

LSU was ranked No. 19 by the committee after its upset over Ole Miss. 

The high number of one-loss teams hurt the Tigers, but that number will change in the coming weeks. Billy Liucci believes the Tigers should be ahead of Oklahoma in the standings. 

Can someone logically explain to me how 2-loss OU rates ahead of 2-loss LSU?

— Billy Liucci (@billyliucci) October 28, 2014

OU lost to #7 TCU, #9 KSU...LSU to #1 MSU, #3 Auburn. OU beat #20 WVU while LSU beat #3 Ole Miss, Wisconsin #SECbias! #kannelling

— Billy Liucci (@billyliucci) October 28, 2014

Liucci's argument is logical and sound. The Tigers are also the top-ranked two-loss team in the AP Top 25 and Amway Coaches Poll.

Nevertheless, any spot outside of the top four is meaningless. The Tigers must win to have a chance of making the College Football Playoff.  

 

Biggest Obstacles to Playoff Berth

LSU must defeat Alabama on November 8 to keep its slim playoff hopes alive. The Crimson Tide are No. 6 in the inaugural playoff rankings, so they also have work to do if they want to crack the top four. 

LSU head coach Les Miles has lost his last three games against Nick Saban's Crimson Tide. The Tigers will have a much-needed bye week to rest up after nine straight weeks of play, so they should be fresh when Alabama arrives in Baton Rouge. 

The Crimson Tide's rush defense is best in the SEC, which means LSU's hot offensive line and stable of running backs will be tested. Quarterback Anthony Jennings' struggles as a passer could be magnified against Saban's schemes.

Alabama's offense is balanced, led by Heisman hopeful receiver Amari Cooper. The Tigers defense, which has only allowed 10 points combined in their last two SEC games, must be prepared for offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin's diverse play-calling. 

LSU will play Arkansas and Texas A&M after Alabama, both of which will be on the road. The Razorbacks and Aggies are at the bottom of the SEC West standings, but beating them at their place will not be easy. 

 

Help Needed 

After LSU's triumph over Ole Miss, there could possibly be a five-way tie in the SEC West at the end of the season between the Tigers, Rebels, Alabama, Mississippi State and Auburn, per The Solid Verbal:

Verballer Benjamin writes in with this scenario, which would be NUTS: pic.twitter.com/AMlIqWJUQy

— The Solid Verbal (@SolidVerbal) October 26, 2014

LSU could also make it if the other four teams atop the SEC West collapse. Even if that were to happen, some of the one-loss teams from other conferences, such as TCU, Oregon, Michigan State and Kansas State, would have to fall as well. 

The Tigers could raise some eyebrows if they remain unbeaten the rest of the way. There is no official set of criteria for the committee, which makes this a subjective selection process.

The SEC West has proven to be the best division in the country in the minds of the committee, which means two teams from the division could make it. If the Tigers remain hot, they could be the second of two teams from the SEC West to play for it all.  

 

Prediction

LSU fans should never give up hope, as anything can happen in the wild SEC West. But the harsh reality is that the Tigers will fall short of the College Football Playoff. 

The Tigers could still finish with a respectable 10 wins, which would mark the fifth straight season Miles has reached a double-digit victory total. That would be a remarkable feat considering the Tigers' slow start. 

Sports Illustrated's Zac Ellis projects LSU returning to the Outback Bowl for a heavyweight matchup against Ohio State on New Years Day. Saturday Down South's Brad Crawford sees the Tigers there as well but playing Nebraska. National Football Post's Dave Miller believes the Tigers will play a day later in the TaxSlayer Bowl against Maryland. 

Bowl projections are an inexact science. Where LSU goes bowling will hinge heavily on the Alabama game. But whichever way that matchup plays out, the Tigers could still defeat Arkansas and Texas A&M and still make a New Year's Day bowl game. 

 

Stats, rankings and additional information provided by CFBStats.com, ESPN.com and LSU Sports Information. Recruiting information provided by 247Sports.

Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Follow me on Twitter @CarterthePower.

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College Football Playoff Notebook: Don't Panic, That's Just What They Want

Have you thrown your computer through the nearest window yet? If so, that’s tremendous passion and dedication you’ve got there. If not, congratulations: you’ve made it through the very first week of the College Football Playoff era without obliterating one of your dearest electronic friends.

The 12-person College Football Playoff selection committee has spoken, revealing its first-ever Top 25 before Week 10 officially kicked off. 

Yes, if the College Football Playoff started today—and thank goodness it does not—Mississippi State would play Ole Miss in the No. 1 vs. No 4 matchup, causing the state of Mississippi to combust. The other semifinal would feature No. 2 Florida State and No. 3 Auburn, which might sound familiar if you’ve been paying attention over the past year.

This is the part, however, where we are reminded that Week 9 of this season just took place. This also seems like the time to remind you that last year at this time, when it was the computer-charged BCS tormenting our emotions, Michigan State was outside of the Top 25 and Auburn was outside of the Top 10. 

Translation? Relax.

Take a big deep breath as you mutter obscenities over your displeasure. Unless, of course, you’re one of the few puffy chested fan bases enjoying the 30-minute ego massage. If that’s the case, puff that chest out and enjoy it while you can. 

Revealing a Top 25 before we officially hit November is a decision based off financial gain. Really, it’s that simple. It’s a spectacle, an enormous network cash grab and a ingenious way to generate interest in a fresh new postseason. It will be remarkably effective in doing so, generating chaos, controversy and enormous ratings well before any of this truly matters. 

After all, we just can’t help ourselves.

The reality, however, is that we’re just getting to know one another. Jeff Long, the selection committee chairman, admitted just that following the live television announcement.

Jeff Long: “The bottom line is it's early, it's close and it's going to change.”

— Bryan Fischer (@BryanDFischer) October 28, 2014

So sit back, embrace the anarchy, and keep your eyes on the journey ahead rather the decisions being made. If you do that, your computer should stay safe, at least for one more week.

As for other observations on the initial release, here are a few items that stuck out.

 

Your Early Winners: TCU, Oregon and Ole Miss

Being deemed a “winner” at this point in the process means little, although the first ranking provides perspective on the selection committee’s thought process, at least in the infant stage of this concoction.

When it comes to TCU, even with the meltdown loss at Baylor, it’s clear the room of 12 football minds value the overall season for the Horned Frogs up until this point. And the No. 7 ranking, behind five SEC teams that will clash is significant because they’re ahead of the game, and more importantly, other teams in the Big 12.

The same could be said about Oregon, especially after losing to Arizona at home. The Ducks debuted at No. 5—the first team out of the mix—and they’re not far from moving up according to Long.

Jeff Long says gap between Ole Miss, Oregon and Alabama is “paper thin."

— George Schroeder (@GeorgeSchroeder) October 28, 2014

And finally, Ole Miss should also be encouraged. Coming directly off a loss to LSU, the Rebels managed to stay in the playoff mix. It speaks volumes to the difficulty of their schedule and path up to this point, but it also puts them in the driver’s seat with difficult games on the horizon.

 

Enjoy the SEC Dominance While it Lasts 

The transition into this next point is obvious. Although SEC fans will undoubtedly enjoy having three teams in the top four, it’s a position that won’t last long. In fact, with Auburn headed to Ole Miss this weekend, this playoff dominance might be very short lived.

That’s not to say that relative dominance is out of the equation. With Alabama directly below Oregon at No. 6 and Georgia creeping in the distance at No. 11, the scenario where two SEC teams get into the playoff is very real.

But with Alabama and Ole Miss still on Mississippi State’s schedule, Alabama-Auburn still to play, and many meaningful—and challenging—conference games still to be played over the next six weeks, this pace won’t hold up for long.

Mark your calendars: Nov. 1: AU at Ole Miss Nov. 8: Bama at LSU Nov. 15: MSU at Bama; AU at UGA Nov. 29: AU at Bama; MSU at Ole Miss.

— Tony Barnhart (@MrCFB) October 29, 2014

The SEC isn’t going away, but the landscape will shift greatly. (Still, let's hear those "S-E-C" chants anyway.)

 

There is No Such Thing as a Good Loss, Notre Dame

Perhaps the most interesting development of the Top 25 came when Notre Dame appeared on our televisions earlier than anticipated. The Irish, coming off a close, controversial loss at Florida State, checked at No. 10, which was further down the list than many thought they’d be.

What became clear, even in this limited sample size, is that the committee values quality wins over quality losses. That might seem like an obvious point to establish, although we learned more about Notre Dame in Tallahassee than we did in any prior game this year. 

When it comes down to it, Brian Kelly’s best win, as it stands, came against a three-loss Stanford team. Outside of this South Bend victory, the resume isn't exactly jaw-dropping. As a result, Notre Dame was punished out of the gate. 

With games at Arizona State, at USC and against Louisville still looming, however, there is still ample time to make an impression. This initial release was a setback, but there’s still so much resume left to create.

 

No Love for Marshall

On the topic of schedules, no absence from the Top 25 was more noticeable than Marshall’s. The Thundering Herd enter Week 10 undefeated and No. 23 in the AP Poll. The weak path up until this point, however, was clearly penalized by the committee.

While an undefeated Marshall team won’t sniff the College Football Playoff, this early reveal is significant. One non-Power Five team will be chosen to play in one of the “major” bowl games.

East Carolina would appear to have the upper hand right now, debuting at No. 23 despite losing early at South Carolina. The Pirates still have losable games, which could change this picture entirely.

Marshall’s schedule doesn’t exactly beef up, although the evaluation on this team will remain a work in progress. If Doc Holliday’s team continues to blowout inferior opponents, the committee will eventually take note. As a result, expect these scores and quarterback Rakeem Cato’s stats to reflect such efforts moving forward.

Basically, if you're playing Marshall, take cover.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Post-Week 9 College Football Playoff Projections from Analytics Guru, Ed Feng

After ESPN aired the release of the inaugural College Football Playoff poll on Tuesday, the question on everybody's minds was: What will the rankings look like when they matter on Dec. 7?

My algorithm projects just that.  Allow me to explain my rankings...


Why is Oregon No. 1?

While Oregon finds itself in the dreaded No. 5 position in the first committee rankings, our calculations give the Ducks the best odds to finish in the top four. 

In their remaining regular-season games, their lowest win probability is 68.2 percent against Stanford in Eugene this Saturday. The numbers would also heavily favor Oregon against any Pac-12 South opponent in the conference championship game. Oregon also features the top-ranked offense in the nation by yards per play adjusted for strength of schedule.


Mississippi State is No. 8? You must be kidding.

Quarterback Dak Prescott and Mississippi State have had a dream season. They have earned the committee's top spot with their unblemished record in the SEC West.  

However, according to my projections, the Bulldogs won't stay there for long; Mississippi State will likely finish the year with two losses and watch the playoff from home.

The losses will come Nov. 15 when it travels to Alabama (27 percent win probability) and Nov. 29 when it visits Mississippi (40 percent win probability). Overall, Mississippi State has a 22 percent chance to make the playoff, eighth best in our calculation.


No love for Florida State

Florida State has slipped significantly from last year's juggernaut. The Seminoles had to rally from a 17-point deficit to beat North Carolina State, went to overtime with Clemson and needed a late goal-line stand to defeat Notre Dame. Florida State is 20th in The Power Rank, a computer ranking that adjusts margin of victory for strength of schedule.

This hurts FSU in my algorithm. 

The main culprit in Florida State's decline is the defense. After two years as a top-five unit, Florida State has dropped to 60th in yards per play adjusted for strength of schedule. The gambling markets know this, as the Seminoles went from an 8.5- to a four-point favorite at Louisville on Thursday, per Odds Shark.

If it survives that game, Florida State should expect an even tougher test at Miami (37 percent win probability).


The curious case of the Big 12

The committee seems down on the Big 12, with TCU the conference's highest-ranked team at No. 7. However, the numbers suggest these teams will rise before Dec. 7.

TCU faces its toughest remaining competition at West Virginia (45 percent) and against Kansas State (61 percent) in its next two games.

If they win these games, the Horned Frogs should have a very good chance to finish in the top four, with Kansas, Texas and Iowa State ahead on the schedule and no championship game. 

Oklahoma resides in committee purgatory at No. 18  in the first rankings. However, the numbers give the Sooners a 65 percent win probability in their toughest remaining game, a home tilt against Baylor. Oklahoma, like TCU, also has the luxury of playing Kansas and Iowa State late in the season.  

Oklahoma may not make the playoff, but it will rise as other contenders fall. 


What to make of the Irish

The committee probably bickered the most over Notre Dame. On one hand, its only loss came in a close affair against Florida State. On the other, analytics despises the Fighting Irish. They have an average margin of victory of 14.3, only 23rd-best in the nation. After adjustments for schedule, computer rankings such as The Power Rank (27th) and Sagarin (14th) don't consider them a top 10 team.

The committee settled on No. 10 for Notre Dame, which seems like a fair balance between wins and analytics.

The simulation only gives the Fighting Irish the 14th-best odds to make the playoff (5.5 percent), as they face tough games at Arizona State (36.4 percent win probability) and against Louisville (54.5 percent win probability).


Ed Feng founded The Power Rank and has also written for Grantland and Sports Illustrated. Follow him on Twitter @thepowerrank.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Alabama Football: How Can Tide Overcome Former 5-Star Cam Robinson's Injury?

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Alabama will likely be without its top offensive lineman when it travels to Baton Rouge to face LSU and possibly even longer.

Nick Saban on Tuesday announced that freshman left tackle Cam Robinson, who has started every game there this season, "is probably going to be out for at least two weeks" with "a high ankle sprain."

The former 5-star from West Monroe, Louisiana, likely won’t get a chance to go home to face the team that almost got his signature.

It’s a huge blow to an Alabama offensive line that was really starting to hit its stride, especially in a big road game that will have massive College Football Playoff implications.

Robinson had been a starter from day one, even in fall camp. After enrolling early in the spring, Saban noted several times how game-ready he was and how much improvement he had made.

Once the season started, people saw just what he meant.

On an offensive line that had often lacked that grit and tenacity that previous lines before it had so much of, Robinson was a mauler in run blocking and rock solid in pass protection.

In the Florida game, when Alabama needed to run the ball, it buckled down and did so almost exclusively to the left side. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that Robinson has been Alabama’s best offensive lineman so far this season.

So where does Alabama go from here? What can the Crimson Tide do to make sure their playoff hopes aren’t ruined by a key piece of its offensive line?

Saban and offensive line coach Mario Cristobal have a couple of choices personnel-wise.

In an on-the-fly move when Robinson went down during Alabama’s game against Tennessee on Saturday, the Crimson Tide pulled a double switch. Right guard Leon Brown moved to left tackle, while Bradley Bozeman, who had started two games at center in Ryan Kelly’s absence, came in at right guard.

Brown was actually recruited as a tackle and had played there before. This year, he filled a need at guard, which is where he’s played up until that Tennessee game.

The other option would be to move right tackle Austin Shepherd to the left side and bring in Grant Hill, a former 4-star, on the right side. Hill has gotten a lot of playing time in mop-up duty on that right side and is one of the Crimson Tide’s promising youngsters up front.

That's how Alabama lined up during the media viewing period of Tuesday's practice. And it sounds like that’s the plan Saban hopes comes to fruition.

“If it works out, those two guys could be the tackles,” he said. “Whichever one plays right and whichever one plays left would be one option, and leave Leon where he is, or move Leon and play somebody else at guard.

“But I really do think that Grant Hill played pretty well when he's had to play this year so far, is a guy that we'll give an opportunity to at least in practice and see how he does. If it works out, those two guys will be the tackles.”

Shepherd said this kind of situation was expected.

“I just think it’s time for someone to step up,” he said. “It happens every year, people get hurt, someone has to step up.”

Alabama certainly has options of what it could do here. It has a stockpile of offensive line talent from which to choose replacements or do additional shuffling among the starters.

Whatever happens, the Crimson Tide will begin a critical stretch of the season without one of their best players.

 

Marc Torrence is the Alabama lead writer for Bleacher Report. All stats come from cfbstats.

Follow on Twitter @marctorrence.

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Did CFP Committee Screw the Alabama Crimson Tide by Leaving Them out of Top 4?

The College Football Playoff selection committee came out with their first ever Top 25 ranking. The Alabama Crimson Tide were left out of the playoff picture, leaving many to question if they should be in one of the top four spots.

Bleacher Report's College Football Analysts Michael Felder and Barrett Sallee break down if Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide deserve to be in the playoffs.

Do you think Alabama deserves to be in the CFB Playoffs?

Watch the video and let us know!

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

BCS vs. College Football Committee Rankings Comparison

The College Football Playoff selection committee unveiled its first rankings Tuesday night, and they are, in fact, spot-on.

Based on these rankings, we can easily deduce that strength of schedule is of paramount importance to the committee, and head-to-head results are fastidiously considered. Their rankings are more logical and consistent than the two polls, particularly the Amway Coaches Poll, which should now be thoroughly discredited.

The CFP rankings also vary slightly from what the BCS standings would've looked like. The reason for that is rather obvious: the influence of the polls. In the BCS standings used from 2004-2013, the polls accounted for two-thirds of rankings. That element has been completely suppressed as the committee's list bears much more of a resemblance to computer rankings.

Here are the committee's Top 25 teams, as compared to a facsimile of the old BCS standings, our CFP mock standings and the two major polls:

 

Explanations of Rankings

BCS rankings are a simulation of the BCS formula used from 2004-2013 with two exceptions: 1. The AP poll is used in place of the Harris Poll; 2) Sagarin and Massey rankings are their native systems instead of the non-MOV version used for the BCS.

CFP mock rankings are published weekly at Bleacher Report, with components including polls, computers, strength of schedule and conference championships. The full rankings are here.

 

A few highlights, thoughts from committee's first rankings

Committee's rankings don't behave like polls 

That is a good thing—a very good thing. The biggest problem with the BCS in its latter years was that the polls were weighted disproportionately. One of the major beneficiaries of this has been Alabama, which always seems to get more support in the polls than it deserves. The Tide, ranked No. 3 in both polls as well as the would-be BCS standings, are much more accurately placed by the committee at No. 6.

 

Strength of schedule matters, a lot

The Big Ten is being punished as a weak conference, as Michigan State might not be able to play its way into the playoff even if it wins out. Ohio State, at No. 16, virtually has no chance. The committee also is making an example out of Baylor, which is several spots behind its Big 12 rivals with identical records, because of its pathetic nonconference slate.

 

Where's Marshall?

The only team that's in the Top 25 in both polls and would-be BCS standings but omitted by the committee is Marshall, the only other undefeated team besides Mississippi State and Florida State in its rankings. The Thundering Herd have won their eight games by an average of nearly 30 points, but their weak schedule clearly has been a huge detriment.

As of now, East Carolina is the only team from the group-of-five conferences in the rankings.

 

The tournament starts now

Don't be fooled by the bracket that's being put out on TV (and everywhere else). Though there are four SEC West teams in the Top Six, there are four guaranteed losses among those teams as they still have to face each other multiple times. Essentially, eight of the top nine teams—except Michigan State—have a chance to play their way into the playoff, which leaves us with the one real surprise...

 

No luck of the Irish

Despite three members with ties to the school (and are not covered under the recusal policy)—Condoleezza Rice, Ty Willingham and Pat Haden—Notre Dame did not get much love from the committee.

At No. 10, the Irish need some help to get into the playoff field even if they finish 11-1. It's a clear indication that the committee isn't fond of horseshoes or hand grenades: Notre Dame's close loss at Florida State doesn't count for much.

 

Follow on Twitter @ThePlayoffGuru

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Florida State Football: Game-by-Game Predictions for the Month of November

No. 2 Florida State caps off the month of October Thursday night at Louisville, and a victory on the road over the Cardinals would be the ideal way for the Seminoles to kick off the final month of the regular season.

November is more than favorable for an FSU team with hopes of hanging on to its undefeated record. Three of the Seminoles’ four games are at home, and the lone road contest is against a Miami team they have defeated in seven of the last nine meetings.

Needless to say, Thursday’s game at Louisville very well could be FSU’s final test before postseason action begins. 

Here are the game-by-game predictions for the month of November.

Begin Slideshow

Do the Notre Dame Fighting Irish Deserve to Be in the Top 4?

The College Football Playoff Committee came out with its first Top 25 ranking Tuesday, and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish were left out of the playoff picture by a wide margin.

Bleacher Report's College Football Analysts Michael Felder and Barrett Sallee break down whether head coach Brian Kelly and the Fighting Irish deserve to be in one of the top four spots.

Do you think Notre Dame deserves to be in the CFP?

Watch the video and let us know!

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Hits and Misses of the College Football Playoff Committee's 1st Top 25 Poll

The College Football Playoff selection committee came out with its first Top 25 ranking Tuesday, and much like with the previous system, there's bound to be debate.

Bleacher Report's College Football Analysts Michael Felder and Barrett Sallee break down the hits and misses from the debut committee poll.

Which schools do you think deserved to be in the CFP?

Watch the video and let us know!

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

College Football Playoff Rankings 2014: Twitter Reacts to Week 10 Reveal

The first rankings for the 2014 College Football Playoff were released Tuesday night. With how much controversy the BCS standings have generated in the past, it was going to be fascinating to see what the new system's 12-person selection committee produced.      

Here is a look at the hierarchy in the eyes of those who will judge the four postseason participants worthy of battling for the national championship:

To the surprise of very few, Mississippi State reigns supreme as the No. 1 team, a status the Bulldogs hold in both the Associated Press and USA Today polls. The reigning national champion Florida State Seminoles, the only marquee program with an undefeated record, rightly sits No. 2.

Dan Wetzel of Yahoo Sports weighed in on the grueling process the committee underwent to determine its top 25 teams:

Now, let's get on to some of the reaction from Tuesday's rankings.

The Big Lead's Jason McIntyre was right in line with the selection committee's top four:

Critics may say that SEC bias played a factor, in light of this observation from ESPN Stats & Info:

ESPN's Max Bretos hinted at that phenomenon:

NOLA.com's Jeff Duncan captured a unique illustration of college football's current powerhouses:

Former Alabama quarterback and current SEC Network analyst Greg McElroy presented his perspective:

Steve Palazzolo of Pro Football Focus offered his take:

Bleacher Report's Barrett Sallee was a bit surprised by Notre Dame's modest ranking of 10th:

Fox Sports' Joel Klatt felt the Fighting Irish and Alabama were in their proper slots:

With the amount of SEC flavor that occupied the top of the rankings, the Pac-12 Conference noticed its representatives were held in high esteem:

Before the unveiling, Alabama head coach Nick Saban didn't feel the unveiling bore much significance, via The Tuscaloosa News' Aaron Suttles:

And Saban may have a point in that there is so much more football to be played before anything definitive is decided in terms of the playoff picture.

That holds true for the Crimson Tide, as SportsNation suggested:

Alabama might be disappointed to be in sixth in light of its third-place standing in the two other major polls, whether Saban and his team acknowledges it or not.

Mississippi State still has to face the likes of both Alabama and Ole Miss on the road in two of its final three games, so the Bulldogs are far from a lock to remain at the top. A foundation of confidence has been groomed with wins over LSU and Auburn already, though.

The SEC appears to be both top-heavy and deep as the nation's best football conference yet again. It wouldn't be a surprise to see the national champion emerge from that formidable group.

However, the fact that all these big-time programs beat each other up amid heated competition could lead to a different school seizing ultimate glory. The following quote from ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit is fitting:

Non-SEC squads still in the mix, other than the obvious Seminoles, are Oregon and Notre Dame. They have playmaking, dual-threat QBs in Marcus Mariota and Everett Golson respectively to give them a puncher's chance at the playoffs.

So many one-loss teams are jockeying for position, though, so it's nearly impossible to determine what will happen from here. Whether the College Football Playoff is considered an improvement over the BCS is also yet to be seen.

With the inaugural release of these rankings, at least the road to crowning a champion is becoming clearer.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

4-Star WR Brandon Burton ​Compares Star​ QBs Ricky Town and Josh Rosen

Brandon Burton is still in the midst of his junior high school season, but the Southern California wide receiver already has experience competing alongside and against some of the country's premier players. Those opportunities helped him become a valued member of the 2016 recruiting class.

"I'm grateful to be in this position," Burton said. "I've been putting in the work, while others have been there to challenge me and force me to become better."

The 6'0", 180-pound playmaker previously encountered a pair of pressure-packed situations any pass-hungry receiver would cherish while competing in the competitive seven-on-seven scene. Burton served as a receiver for 5-star quarterbacks Josh Rosen and Ricky Town.

The celebrated prospects are considered top-tier talents in an impressive 2015 quarterback class and could drastically impact the future Pac-12 football landscape.

Rosen, a defending state champion at St. John Bosco High School, is committed to UCLA. Town, a former Alabama pledge who plays for St. Bonaventure High School, flipped to USC in January. 

Burton, rated ninth nationally among 2016 receivers in 247Sports' composite rankings, holds offers from each Los Angeles program and could potentially reunite with either player at the next level. He spent time with Rosen and Town during different phases of his seven-on-seven ventures and speaks highly of both blue-chippers.

“They’re great leaders and bring an extreme amount of talent to the field," Burton said. "You can't question their arm strength or ability to put the ball where it needs to be. They can both throw receivers open, which is pretty rare at this level."

Though he offered up praise for their physical tools, Burton believes sharp mentalities set the Elite 11 finalists apart.

"They step into a huddle and know exactly what they’re doing. That definitely makes an impact on everyone else," he said. "Once they get up to the line, both can identify whatever the defense is showing and make pre-snap adjustments."

Burton expects Town and Rosen to battle for conference titles in college.

“Right now the USC and UCLA rivalry is already really good, but it’s going to continue to grow because of the coaching staffs at both schools and the kind of players they're bringing in," he said. "I think the quarterbacks could take it to another level in the next few years with Josh Rosen and Ricky Town.”

Burton, who doubles as a defensive back, could become a part of the crosstown clash in coming years if he chooses to sign with either squad. His high school, Junipero Serra, is located in Los Angeles County and has served as a valuable Trojans recruiting pipeline.

Rising NFL receivers Robert Woods and Marqise Lee starred there before beginning sensational USC careers. Trojans freshman Adoree' Jackson, a 5-star 2014 signee, also hails from Junipero Serra. 

The three-way player has made an immediate impact. He has a touchdown reception and 21 tackles this season, adding a 100-yard kickoff return score last weekend against Utah. 

Jackson, who was the top-ranked cornerback in 247Sports' 2014 composite rankings, made sure Burton brought his best to every practice as an underclassman.

“Adoree’ always had us ready to go," he said. "Who wouldn’t want to compete against the best? That’s exactly what he was—a top-five player in the nation who forced you to get better. I definitely give him some credit for helping me get to where I am now."

So does Burton see himself following the footsteps of past Junipero Serra greats to the Coliseum? 

”It’s a great pipeline and I’m proud to have the option of continuing it," he said. "But right now I’m open to going anywhere in the country. I’m excited about some of the offers I recently received.”

Stanford is one that really stands out. The Cardinal extended a scholarship offer in early October and Burton immediately reciprocated interest.

“It’s a great football program and a great education up there," Burton said. "Stanford offers the best of both worlds and that’s a big deal to me.”

He plans to visit Palo Alto for a game in the coming weeks to get a better feel for what Stanford brings to the table. Burton's other Pac-12 offers include Arizona State, Cal, Colorado and Utah.

Given his willingness to explore options beyond the West Coast, offers from Miami, Florida and Florida State also warrant attention. Burton would like to establish relationships with more SEC programs as things progress, specifically identifying Ole Miss, LSU, Texas A&M, Mississippi State and Tennessee as potential fits.

Expect more doors to swing open before long. The next star Junipero Serra recruit has arrived.

“It’s great to be a part of that history," Burton said. "It was a big reason why I decided to attend this high school. It's produced top college prospects for a while and now you’re starting to see them make an impact in the NFL. I'm just trying to live up to what they've done."

 

Recruit quotes obtained firsthand by Bleacher Report national recruiting analyst Tyler Donohue unless otherwise note.

Recruit ratings courtesy of 247Sports.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

4-Star WR Brandon Burton ​Compares Star​ QBs Ricky Town and Josh Rosen

Brandon Burton is still in the midst of his junior high school season, but the Southern California wide receiver already has experience competing alongside and against some of the country's premier players...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

College Football Playoff 2014: Official Selection Committee Rankings for Week 10

As the release of the inaugural College Football Playoff poll was drawing near, speculation about the sport's hierarchy reached a fever pitch. How closely would the 12-person committee's Top 25 resemble the standard-bearing Associated Press and Coaches polls? Would there be a state of inertia that seemingly renders the whole thing moot or would the new voters radicalize the tried and true beyond our comfort?

Tuesday night, the committee unveiled a happy medium.   

As expected, Mississippi State retains across-the-board control of its own destiny by earning the top spot in the poll released during an ESPN special. Dan Mullen's Bulldogs are followed by Florida State, the only other remaining Power Five unbeaten. Immediately following the locks at the top are Auburn and Ole Miss, an interesting deviation from the other polls:

The 12-person selection committee is comprised of an eclectic group of college football experts and surprises. Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is the most notable among a group of current athletic directors, former media members and former coaches. Famous football father Oliver Luck, who also serves at the West Virginia athletic director, is also on the committee. 

The group gathered to put their inaugural rankings together Monday at the Gaylord Texan Resort in Grapevine, Texas. The lengthy meeting was said to involve multiple votes as the members established their criteria and made their case.

"This is a truly historic day in college football," executive director Bill Hancock said, per Heather Dinich of ESPN.com. "Twenty years from now we will all look back and say we were here on the first meeting of the selection committee. When we took the first vote today, we looked at each other and said we have just taken the first vote in the history of the college football playoff. It was really, really a cool thing."

While only the top four teams matter in the end—all other remaining bowl games are determined by conference affiliation—the committee decided on a Top 25 for the sake of consistency. Conference championships, schedule strength, head-to-head record and common opponents are chief among the criteria used.

It's no surprise, then, that Mississippi State was a no-brainer lock for the No. 1 spot. Led by Heisman contender Dak Prescott, the Bulldogs have reeled off seven straight wins to start the season, three of which came against Top 10 opponents. LSU and (especially) Texas A&M have been outed as being a bit overrated in hindsight, but Mullen's offense is anything but.

Prescott, garnering numerous Tim Tebow comparisons along the way, has compiled 25 total touchdowns (15 passing, 10 rushing) while emerging as perhaps the best player in college football. The junior signal-caller at times struggles with accuracy in the pocket but has come through with massive performances in the season's biggest games.

The second-ranked Seminoles have their own star quarterback in reigning Heisman winner Jameis Winston, whose 2014 ebbs and flows have been followed by his team. Florida State is nowhere near as dominant as 2013. After not allowing a team to come closer than two touchdowns last regular season, the Noles have battled through three one-possession games.

Two weeks ago against Notre Dame, Florida State came within a controversial offensive pass interference call of its first loss of the Winston era. If they manage to get past a trip to Louisville Thursday night, Jimbo Fisher and Co. look like a near-lock for the CFP. The defending champs don't have a ranked team remaining on their schedule and have only one road game after their tilt with the Cardinals.

"We don't have anything to prove to anybody," Winston told reporters. "We've just got to keep playing and hopefully things will go our way. But one thing we are consistently proving is that we are winners."

When the College Football Playoff was announced, it looked like a potential Nick Saban playground. Saban's Alabama teams have gone undefeated or had one loss in the regular season four of the last five years, and the Crimson Tide come into each campaign with enough preseason hype to make their one-loss outfit a playoff lock. 

Alabama's loss to Ole Miss coupled with a weak schedule so far seemingly closed the expectations gap. Despite losing last week to LSU, the Rebels snuck in with the final playoff spot—likely boosted in a large way by their win over the Tide. In fact, Saban's team will also have to leapfrog one-loss Oregon to get into the championship game.

Luckily, schedule strength should play in the Tide's favor going forward. Idle this Saturday, Alabama closes out its regular-season slate with games against LSU, Mississippi State, Western Carolina and Auburn. Oregon's only comparable game comes when it visits Utah on Nov. 8. 

Perhaps the most interesting ranking outside the Power Five purview was the best team not ranked at all: undefeated Marshall. The Thundering Herd, helmed by stealth Heisman candidate Rakeem Cato, have reeled off eight double-digit wins. Cato and punishing running back Devon Johnson are one of the better one-two punches never mentioned on national programs, which is largely a product of Marshall's residence in the dreadful Conference USA.

No other Conference USA outfit is even within arm's reach of the Top 25. The two best teams other than Marshall (Louisiana Tech and Middle Tennessee) have matching 5-3 records. Eight of the conference's 13 teams are .500 or below.

Needless to say the Herd aren't getting any points in the strength of schedule criteria. They've failed to make much of an impact in the other major polls, and the selection committee is keeping them at arm's length from the playoff conversation.

“I’m kind of anxious to see how it turns out,” Marshall coach Doc Holliday told reporters. “At this point, you need to worry about where you are five weeks down the road. That’s when it counts. Somebody Auburn, about this time a year ago was 24th in America and ended up playing for the national championship. They say remember what you do in November. That’s kind of when it counts, and at the end of the day you look up and see where you are.”

Of course, Auburn had the benefit of playing top-ranked Alabama. Marshall gets the likes of Southern Miss, Rice and UAB. Not exactly a Sabanesque challenge.

If more Power Fives start falling by the wayside as the Herd stay undefeated, it'll be awfully interesting to see how the selection committee susses out its priorities. Tuesday night made it quite clear they have their work cut out. 

 

Follow Tyler Conway (@tylerconway22) on Twitter

 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

College Football Playoff 2014: Final Four Predictions After 1st Rankings

The first College Football Playoff committee poll has been released, and the controversy officially begins.

Sure, everyone expected the likes of Mississippi State and Florida State in the top two. But how the rest of the top programs fell after that was anyone's guess.   

Ultimately, the committee decided that the top four teams currently are Mississippi State, Florida State, Auburn and Ole Miss. The shocker was clearly the final team as Ole Miss lost over the weekend to LSU.

Needless to say, head-to-head matters for the committee with Ole Miss defeating Alabama and remaining in the playoff picture. Of course, this is all fluid and quite a bit will change between now and the final rankings.

That may be the way they stand now, but the poll will be constantly changing just like any other rankings system. Following the first official poll release by the committee, here's a full look at the latest College Football Playoff predictions.   

 

 

No. 1: Florida State

When it comes to teams that have a shot at remaining undefeated, Florida State has a much better outlook than Mississippi State. Sorry Marshall, but even remaining unscathed likely won't lead to a bid in the playoff this season.  

The Seminoles are nowhere near the same team they were a year ago, but they have already survived the toughest part of the schedule. An early victory over Oklahoma State and recent win against Notre Dame means the Noles are nearly a lock for the playoff.

In fact, Brad Edwards of ESPN.com (subscription required) notes Florida State only has two relatively difficult games on the schedule:

The FPI gives Miami the best chance to upset FSU (on Nov. 15), but if you believe that the formula for beating the Seminoles is a stout defense and a difference-making crowd, then this Thursday's game at Louisville could be all that realistically stands between Florida State and a spot in the playoff. Either way, the amount of resistance on FSU's path to an unbeaten regular season is far less than what fellow unbeaten Mississippi State faces

Louisville this Thursday night might present a difficult test, but FSU's defense should have no problem shutting down the Cardinals. Then there's the Miami rivalry, which now looks slightly more intriguing with the Hurricanes suddenly surging.

The Canes haven't lost all season at home, but then again, they haven't had any stiff competition. Wins against Cincinnati and Duke look good, but they are nowhere near the caliber of Florida State.

If Jimbo Fisher can keep the team on track and Jameis Winston remains under center, this program is the most likely to make the field. Likely the only undefeated team at the top remaining, FSU will go in as the No. 1 seed as well.

 

No. 2: Alabama

Just when some were doubting Nick Saban and Alabama's dominance, the Crimson Tide are rolling again.

Currently, the Tide should be placed behind undefeated Mississippi State, but they have a chance to take them down at home on Nov. 15. Saban spoke about what it takes to remain one of the top teams in the country, per Edward Aschoff of ESPN.com:

Consistency in performance is what’s going to be key to being successful down the road. That’s something that all of our players need to understand, and I do think they understand that. We have to be able to play Alabama football on a more consistent basis. That’s something that everybody’s got to be committed to.

Recent blowout wins for the Tide have seen them defeat SEC opponents by a combined total of 73 points. Heading into Baton Rouge against LSU, Bama simply needs a win before heading home for the rest of the season.

The Tigers may have knocked off Ole Miss, but Saban's program appears ready and rolling to take them down after the bye. Not only can Bama eventually win the SEC, but it should also get a chance at a top-two seed heading into the first College Football Playoff with wins against Mississippi State and Auburn

 

No. 3: Oregon

Much like Florida State, Oregon heads into Week 10 of the college football season with confidence. The Ducks aren't undefeated due to a loss to Arizona, but they have just one ranked team remaining on the schedule and a chance to secure a bid to the playoff.

That ranked team is Utah, who lost a home game earlier this season to Washington State. The Cougars are currently 2-6 with one win in the Pac-12, and Connor Halliday certainly isn't Marcus Mariota.

The Ducks' junior quarterback has been phenomenal this season, passing for 24 touchdowns and just one interception in the last game against California. His potent offense has mowed over nearly every team this season thanks his consistency, as ESPN Stats & Info points out:

Oregon's train might have hit a small speed bump against the Wildcats, but it doesn't appear to be slowing anytime soon. Equipped with a Heisman contender and playmakers all over the field, look for the Ducks to be one of the final teams in the final four.

 

No. 4: Mississippi State

The second SEC team is none other than Mississippi State—a surprising program that has already made a huge statement with a 7-0 record but still has a long road to make the playoff.

Wins over former Top 10 teams like LSU and Texas A&M put the Bulldogs on the map, but the 15-point dismantling of Auburn was the eye opener. Much of that success is thanks in large part to Heisman hopeful Dak Prescott.

Getting the job done with his arm and legs, Prescott has already amassed 25 total touchdowns compared to just five turnovers during the streak. He's also keeping up with former prolific SEC quarterbacks, as ESPN College Football points out:

The next true test for the Bulldogs awaits them on Nov. 15 in Tuscaloosa. Facing a motivated and surging Alabama team, MSU will need to pull out everything to remain undefeated against the Tide.

Even if Prescott can't lead them over Bama, the Bulldogs still have the Egg Bowl against Ole Miss to redeem themselves. Do that and come away with only one loss in the SEC West, and this team will give FSU a true test for a chance at a national title.

 

Follow @RCorySmith on Twitter.

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BYU vs. Middle Tennessee Complete Game Preview

Buried in a four-game losing streak, BYU travels to Middle Tennessee on Saturday. The two teams played last season in Provo, and the Cougars won, 37-10.

Wins have been hard to come by lately for BYU. Despite winning their first four games, the Cougs evened their record at 4-4 after a blowout loss at Boise State. Middle Tennessee, on the other hand, beat UAB last weekend to improve its record to 5-3.

With BYU struggling and MTSU on the rise, it will surely be a good game. Here is a complete preview.

Date: Saturday, November 1

Time: 3:30 p.m. ET

Place: Floyd Stadium, Murfreesboro, TN

TV: CBS Sports Network

Radio: KSL NewsRadio (102.7 FM, 1160 AM)

Spread: BYU, -3.5 (via OddsShark.com)

Begin Slideshow

USC Football: Game-by-Game Predictions for the Month of November

Traditionally, USC football has flourished in the month of November. 

The Trojans went a remarkable 27-0 in Novembers from 2001 through 2008, ran the table to close out 2011 and rebounded from a dismal 2012 November to go 4-1 in the month a year ago. 

This season, USC's hope of winning the Pac-12 South and earning the program's first berth into the conference championship game is contingent on duplicating past November success. 

USC plays twice in the Coliseum and twice on the road to cap off the season but leaves Los Angeles just once in November. The sole excursion from the Southland is USC's next date and the program's first trip to Washington State since 2010. 

A Thursday night date with Cal follows, then the every-other-year tradition of USC playing back-to-back rivalry tilts finishes head coach Steve Sarkisian's first season at the helm.

Begin Slideshow

USC Football: Game-by-Game Predictions for the Month of November

Traditionally, USC football has flourished in the month of November. The Trojans went a remarkable 27-0 in Novembers from 2001 through 2008, ran the table to close out 2011 and rebounded from a dismal 2012 November to go 4-1 in the month a year ago...

Begin Slideshow

Bowl Projections 2014: Predicting Best Scenarios for Top Contenders in Week 10

This is the week college football fans circled on their calendars the moment it was announced there would be a four-team playoff to determine the national champion. The first rankings for the College Football Playoff are released on Tuesday night, opening a Pandora's box of possibilities for the weeks to come. 

After the dust settles from the madness on Tuesday night, teams have to go out and play to justify their rankings or improve their spots. That's what is interesting about this whole process: As still-very-early bowl projections trickle out, so much is going to change. 

In addition to offering up some of the most-anticipated bowl predictions, this is a look at what the top national title contenders must do to improve their stock after Week 10. 

 

Top Title Contenders

Mississippi State (Week 10 vs. Arkansas)

The nation's top-ranked team showed some cracks against Kentucky in Week 9 but was able to escape with a 45-31 victory; Mississippi State's spot in the College Football Playoff is secure for now. It also helps that the Bulldogs will be playing an Arkansas team that has lost all four of its conference games by an average of 11 points. 

ESPN Stats & Info's metrics have Mississippi State ranked as the No. 1 team in strength of record and game control. Those two stats measure a team's win probability per game on a play-by-play basis and the schedule it has played. 

With those numbers in mind, the Bulldogs still have to prove more after the Wildcats gave them a good fight. That was a road game in the SEC, even if it was a mid-level team in the conference. 

Dak Prescott has been more turnover-prone lately with three interceptions in the last two games, so it will be nice for him to go against a defense that ranks 60th in points allowed. Style points are everything in a game that you're supposed to win. 

The Bulldogs had their potential letdown game last week against Kentucky but came through it unscathed. A win like the one they had against Texas A&M, with 48 points and 559 yards of offense, would do well to ease any doubts about their schedule heading into a November slate that includes Arkansas and Mississippi. 

 

Florida State (Week 10 at Louisville)

Most pundits seem to agree that if Florida State is going to lose in the regular season for the first time since 2012, it will happen on Thursday night at Louisville. The Cardinals don't have a great team, but the defense has great raw stats that include the fourth-fewest points allowed per game. 

Of course, you have to put things in context. Louisville's schedule so far has included Miami, Murray State, Virginia, FIU, Wake Forest, Syracuse, Clemson and North Carolina State. We are going to find out how good Bobby Petrino's team is this week. 

Oddsmakers don't love the Seminoles in this spot, with Odds Shark noting they are a 3.5-point favorite.

If you follow trends closely, you know that the Cardinals will have to score at least 32 points to win this game. According to Corey Clark of The Tallahassee Democrat, Florida State has put up at least 31 points in every game started by Jameis Winston.

"In the 20 games started by quarterback Jameis Winston," Clark wrote, "the Florida State Seminoles have never scored less than 31 points. The reigning Heisman Trophy winner has accounted for a staggering 59 touchdowns during that span and FSU has scored 123 TDs overall."

That does play into Louisville's strength on defense, per Clark:

The Cardinals are second in pass-efficiency defense and third-down defense and fourth in the nation in scoring defense (14.6 points allowed).

They have allowed just three touchdown drives this season of longer than 40 yards. And in total, the Louisville defense has given up just five offensive TDs to FBS teams in 2014.

Again, keep in mind the opposition. Considering how the odds have lined up for this game, all the Seminoles must do is come out of the game with a victory. Style points would be nice, but since they are the defending champions who have yet to lose a game this year, a tough road win in the conference is all that matters. 

A statement would be nice because this is the last true test Florida State has at least until the ACC Championship Game, but winning on the road against a quality opponent is hard enough. 

 

Auburn (Week 10 at Mississippi)

Everything below the top two teams is a muddled mess. That's what happens when everyone loses a game, but it does create great drama each Saturday. Since Alabama, currently ranked third in The Associated Press Top 25, is off this week, the spotlight goes to Auburn. 

It's an excellent spotlight game to have, as the Tigers are traveling to The Grove for a showdown with a Mississippi team out to keep its title hopes alive coming off a devastating loss at LSU.

This game is a perfect example of why its pointless to get too hung up on the initial College Football Playoff standings, even though they are fun to look at. All of these jumbled SEC teams will play each other, so it will all work itself out by the end of the season. 

The dynamic between these two teams will be fascinating to watch. Auburn is an offensive team that relies on the run. Gus Malzahn's team is 10th in rushing yards and 15th in points per game. They've run into trouble on defense at times, allowing 73 points in their last two games. 

If Auburn's defense needs a break, it may find one against an Ole Miss team that is 50th in points per game and 83rd in rushing. The Rebels make their money on defense, allowing an FBS-leading 10.5 points per game. 

One area to keep an eye on for the Tigers is special teams. Joel A. Erickson of The Birmingham News noted they have been dismal at returning kicks so far this season:

A program that has returned a kickoff for a touchdown in each of the past six seasons ranks just 12th in the SEC, averaging just 20 yards per return overall.

The problem is starting to cost the Tigers field position. After a Ricardo Louis fumble on a kickoff return helped Mississippi State seal a win two weeks ago, Auburn failed to crack the 20 on either of its returns against South Carolina.

In a game that doesn't figure to feature a lot of scoring on either side, field position becomes everything. The Tigers can afford a sloppy victory because of what we know about Mississippi's defensive capabilities. It would be nice to see their defense step up in a key spot, especially with games against Texas A&M and Georgia looming in the next two weeks. 

Sometimes, though, it's just enough to survive and advance. That really is all that Malzahn can ask of his team as it prepares to enter the brutal final stretch that also includes the regular-season finale against Alabama. 

 

If you want to talk sports, hit me up on Twitter. 

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Texas A&M Football: QB Position Is Not the Aggies' Problem on Offense

Kenny "Trill" might become Kenny "Chill" soon.

As in, chilling on the bench.

Texas A&M offensive coordinator Jake Spavital announced on Tuesday that the quarterback job that once belonged to sophomore Kenny Hill is now open, and true freshman Kyle Allen will compete to win the job this week as the Aggies prepare for Louisiana-Monroe (via: TexAgs.com):

Hill leads the SEC with 331.1 passing yards per game and 23 touchdown passes but has thrown seven interceptions against SEC competition—six of which have come in the last three games, all of which were losses.

Allen, the top pro-style passer in the class of 2014, is 23-of-38 for 264 yards, three touchdowns and two picks this year, primarily playing in mop-up duty for the Aggies. Spavital told TexAgs.com that Allen was in disbelief when he was told that the battle was open again.

It's the right time for Texas A&M to make a change. After all, ULM shouldn't present much of a challenge, and whoever wins the job this time around needs full first-team reps this week before the Aggies go on the road to Auburn on Nov. 8.

Is that really the problem, though?

Spavital and head coach Kevin Sumlin's play-calling has been wildly unbalanced this year. The Aggies have thrown 359 passes this season while running only 249 rushing plays. This despite having Tra Carson, Trey Williams and Brandon Williams lining up behind (or alongside) Hill in the Aggies backfield.

Are those numbers skewed due to Texas A&M being behind in games and forced to throw itself out of a hole? Not really. Sure, 102 of his passes have come when the Aggies are down by 15 or more points. That's not surprising.

Is there a good reason, though, for his second-most attempts to come when the Aggies are up by 15 or more?

Maybe it was the breakout performance in the season opener, maybe it was the small village of physically talented wide receivers, and maybe it was a desire by Sumlin and Spavital to go back to the air raid system that made Sumlin successful at Houston. But Hill clearly isn't ready to be Case Keenum.

He can be Kenny Hill, though, and a change in the way Texas A&M calls plays would certainly help. That would mean more structured zone read, more running responsibilities to the running backs and a more conservative approach.

Who knows? Maybe that would even help out an Aggies defense that's become more of a punchline than a power under Sumlin.

Whether it's Hill or Allen taking the snaps, Texas A&M needs a philosophical tweak to what it does offensively. It needs to be more conservative and run the football instead of trying to force an identity on its offense. If that coincides with a quarterback change to Allen, that's fine. If Hill wins the job again, that's fine, too.

The Aggies rank 11th in the SEC in rushing with 151.63 yards per game on the ground, and those 249 attempts are the third-fewest in the conference. 

Change that, and the fortunes of the Aggies will also change. 

Until that happens, either Hill or Allen will have to become Joe Montana down the stretch. Otherwise, this will be a lost season in College Station.

 

Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer and video analyst for Bleacher Report as well as a co-host of the CFB Hangover on Bleacher Report Radio (Sundays, 9-11 a.m. ET) on Sirius 93, XM 208.

Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. All stats are courtesy of cfbstats.com, and all recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports. Follow Barrett on Twitter @BarrettSallee.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

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