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California Golden Bears vs. Southern Cal Trojans: Betting Odds and Pick

USC owns the recent rivalry with Cal, winning the last 10 meetings by an average of 20 points per game, going 8-2 against the spread in the process. The Trojans hope to continue that dominance and stay alive in the Pac-12 South race when they host the Golden Bears Thursday night at the Coliseum.


Point spread: Trojans opened as 12-point favorites, according to sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark (line updates and matchup report).


College football pick, via Odds Shark computer: 39.8-28.9 Golden Bears


Why the California Golden Bears can cover the spread

After winning just one game in their first season under head coach Sonny Dykes last year, the Bears are 5-4 this year and one victory away from bowl eligibility following a 45-31 win at Oregon State two weeks ago. Cal started 4-1, then lost three straight but came up with a big effort against the Beavers, racking up 546 yards of offense, including 269 on the ground.

This led to the Bears picking up their second conference road victory of the season and third road victory overall.

In fact, the Bears are 4-0 ATS on the road this year. And of their four losses, one came on a Hail Mary at the buzzer against Arizona, another on a late field goal against UCLA and they gave Oregon a good tussle a few weeks ago. This program appears to be on the verge of turning the corner.


Why the Southern Cal Trojans can cover the spread

The Trojans bounced back after that tough loss at Utah to win at Washington State a couple weeks ago 44-17, covering as seven-point road favorites. USC broke out to a 24-0 lead and cruised from there, eventually piling up 527 yards of offense. Quarterback Cody Kessler only completed 21 passes against the Cougars, but he threw for 400 yards and five touchdowns.

So over his last three games, Kessler has thrown 14 touchdown passes against just one interception. USC is 6-3 straight up, a somewhat surprising 6-3 ATS and 5-2 in Pac-12 play, which puts it just a half-game out of first place in the Pac-12 South. And the only game in which the Trojans were really outplayed this year came in that bad spot at Boston College back in September, just after the win at Stanford.


Smart pick

USC is the better team, but Cal looks like an up-and-comer. The Bears need a little improvement on defense, but they've been able to keep most of their games close. And the home team is always a bit inflated on the spread. So the smart choice here resides with Cal, plus the points.


Betting trends

  • California is 6-3 ATS in its last nine games.
  • Southern Cal is 5-0 SU in its last five games when playing California.


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

California Golden Bears vs. Southern Cal Trojans: Betting Odds and Pick

USC owns the recent rivalry with Cal, winning the last 10 meetings by an average of 20 points per game, going 8-2 against the spread in the process...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

Auburn Tigers vs. Georgia Bulldogs Betting Odds, Analysis, College Football Pick

The Georgia Bulldogs and Auburn Tigers may not have a shot at the national championship anymore with two losses apiece, but both teams still have a lot to play for heading into Saturday night’s SEC matchup against each other. Georgia in particular is battling for the SEC East division title and has gone 6-2 against the spread in the last eight meetings with Auburn.


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


College football pick, via Odds Shark computer: 61.1-27.0 Bulldogs


Why the Auburn Tigers can cover the spread

The Tigers are coming off a stunning 41-38 home loss to the Texas A&M Aggies last week as 23.5-point home favorites, possibly looking ahead to this game against the Bulldogs. Texas A&M had dropped five in a row ATS before pulling off the upset and looked like a dead team.

Before the loss to the Aggies, Auburn handed the Ole Miss Rebels their first loss of the season, 35-31, as a one-point road underdog. In fact, the Tigers are 3-0 ATS in their last three games as a road dog and 5-1 versus the line in their past six road games against SEC opponents. Both of those trends match up nicely here considering Auburn opened as a small dog.


Why the Georgia Bulldogs can cover the spread

First of all, Georgia is playing at home, where the team is 24-1 straight up in its last 25 games as a favorite. The Bulldogs are also 11-1 SU in their past 12 home games against SEC foes, with the lone loss coming against the Missouri Tigers last year in a 41-26 defeat as 6.5-point chalk.

They are coming off a huge 63-31 road victory against the Kentucky Wildcats last Saturday as 10-point favorites behind four touchdowns from senior quarterback Hutson Mason, who tossed all of them while completing 11 of his first 13 passes.

Georgia freshman running back Nick Chubb also rushed for 170 yards and one touchdown filling in for the suspended Todd Gurley.


Smart pick

The Bulldogs will be facing a fragile Tigers team that still does not know what hit them in last week’s loss to Texas A&M. Georgia had its wake-up call the week before in an equally surprising home loss to the Florida Gators as a 12-point favorite but was able to get back on track with a big win at Kentucky. The key here is obviously home field, with the Bulldogs favored by nearly a field goal according to the opening line.

Auburn has lost four of the last five road meetings with Georgia both SU and ATS, including each of the past three. When you combine recent series history with the strong play by the Bulldogs at home lately, they are the best bet to cover the spread in this game.


Betting trends

  • Auburn is 6-2 ATS in its last eight games on the road.
  • Georgia is 3-7-1 ATS in its last 11 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

Michigan Football: How Wolverines Failed to Meet Expectations in 2014

Instead of sitting comfortably at 8-2 or 7-3, Michigan is stuck in a rut at 5-5 (3-3 Big Ten), fighting for bowl eligibility and searching for a little respect before closing an incredibly disappointing, yet familiar, season under coach Brady Hoke.

But it wasn’t supposed to be this way for Team 135—not by a long shot. With another star-studded recruiting class entering the mix, the 2014 Wolverines were thought to be Hoke’s best yet.

Finally, after three years, his offensive line was going to materialize. Finally, after a year-and-a-half of starting, quarterback Devin Gardner was going to live up to his potential and reach new heights with the offense.

Neither happened; instead, the fifth-year senior has struggled more than ever behind an offensive line that has never looked worse.

Back in August, the possibilities were endless. Today, finishing with a victory over Maryland before taking a beating from Ohio State is all the Wolverines have left.

How did this come to be?


Failure to Develop Gardner

It’s been seven years since the Wolverines had a steady pocket passer. That drought was supposed to end this season, as offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier galloped his way from Alabama to Ann Arbor to fix the Wolverines signal-caller.

It was an airtight plan. Nussmeier had the Tide pedigree, not to mention an NFL resume and a list of successful quarterbacks from which to reference and compare. Gardner wasn't going to be AJ McCarron, but he was certainly going to stand tall behind his line and fire darts to all kinds of receivers.


This year has been the opposite.

Frequently running for his life, he continuously completes passes to the other team, all the while putting Michigan further and further behind the competition. It’s harsh criticism, sure, but it’s just: Gardner has cost more than he’s gained. He’s regressed into a one-dimensional, one-read quarterback who is easily rattled and thrown out of rhythm.

He's never had full command of everything and everyone within the offense. 

Eighty of his 139 completions are to two receivers—Devin Funchess (50) and Amara Darboh (30). On top of that, he’s thrown for a meager 1,557 yards, eight touchdowns (none on the road) and a career-high 13 interceptions (eight on the road).

That stat line is a mere fraction of the 3,000-yard, 25-touchdown season many thought was within his reach.

It's not just this season; it’s this past year too. The failure to properly develop Gardner, who’s been injured in one way or another for two years, has been the biggest knock of the Hoke administration. If you have no quarterback, you get no points. 

Gardner’s curtain call wasn’t supposed to be so rough. This was supposed be the year it all came together for him and for Michigan, which has fallen short of expectations with the league's No. 12-ranked scoring offense (20.7 PPG) and No. 14-ranked total offense (322.6 YPG). 


No O-Line

This season has been the worst-case scenario for a line that lost left tackle Taylor Lewan and right tackle Michael Schofield to the NFL. Really, 2013 was bad enough with them in the lineup. Without them, it's been O-line 101. 

Darrell Funk coaches the position group, yet he's seldom mentioned in the discussion. It's always Hoke who's being blamed for a horrible offensive front. Now that Dave Brandon has resigned from his post as athletic director, expect everyone's job to be put under the microscope. 

There are a lot of holes in Funk's body of work. Just look at the game film. 

Had the Wolverines taken the expected developmental leaps up front, this season could have been very different, which is easy to say. But "what-ifs" are part of the routine these days, so ask away. 


Another "Blah" Year of the RB

Frustration from the fanbase mounts each time Michigan runs in circles. Just like in years past, the Wolverines never got into gear on the ground. Derrick Green was almost there, but he was lost for the remainder of the year with a broken clavicle. 

This past Saturday, De'Veon Smith ran for a career-high 122 yards. His three-yard touchdown helped his team slip past Northwestern 10-9—"slip by" or "put down," whichever you prefer. Aesthetically, it was brutal. But it was arguably the sophomore's finest overall showing yet. 

It was against the lowly Wildcats, though. And other than during Week 1's romp over Appalachian State, he hasn't sniffed 100 yards, turning in anywhere from five to 50 in eight games. 

The week prior, Drake Johnson, also a sophomore, rushed for a career-high 121 yards and two touchdowns during Team 135's 34-10 homecoming win over Indiana, another Big Ten bottom-dweller. 

The names have changed, but the story's been the same since 2012. 


No Breaks Lead to Tough Breaks

In 2013, the Wolverines lost four games by a combined 11 points, giving reason to believe they were indeed a shade better than their record suggested. A bounce here, another there, maybe a few fewer injuries, and who knows? If not for bad luck, they could have won 10 games. 

A year ago, the defensive backs finished with 17 picks, the second-most in the Big Ten. This season could be viewed in the same way, but instead of using losses and combined points, use lost opportunities and lack of generated turnovers.

Michigan has five interceptions through 10 games, coming in at No. 13 in the B1G. What if Blake Countess, Jourdan Lewis and Ray Taylor snagged a few more? 

What if the Wolverines weren't last with a minus-13 turnover margin? They had four versus Notre Dame and lost 31-0, four versus Utah and lost 26-10, one versus Rutgers and lost 26-24, and three versus Michigan State, which had two itself, and lost 35-11. 

Hindsight's always 20/20.

An interception or a fumble recovery wasn't going to beat the Irish or the Spartans, but the fact remains that many of the Wolverines' wounds have been self-inflicted. It's fair to look back and think of what 2014 could have been. 

Most teams play one opponent Saturday, but Michigan has had to battle itself and the team across the line of scrimmage for the past three years. 


Follow Bleacher Report’s Michigan Wolverines football writer Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

College Football Playoff Rankings 2014: Week 12 NCAA Championship Predictions

One game looms large following the Week 12 release of the 2014 College Football Playoff rankings.

For the third time in as many inaugural editions, the Mississippi State Bulldogs are at the top of the standings. However, they will encounter their biggest test of the year in Tuscaloosa this Saturday when they take on Alabama.

Coach Nick Saban's Crimson Tide are just outside the Top Four and would undoubtedly break their way back into the picture with a victory over their undefeated SEC adversary.

What follows are predictions as to how the Top Four order will look in the next set of rankings preceded by the latest release from Tuesday evening.


Projected Top Four

1. Florida State

The reigning national champions can capitalize on an idle Oregon and ascend to the top of the college football hierarchy with a rivalry win at Miami on Saturday.

That may be easier said than done because Florida State hasn't exactly been rolling to an undefeated record in dominant fashion. Part of the issue has been quarterback Jameis Winston's sudden penchant for turning the ball over.

Fox Sports' Stewart Mandel noted how oddsmakers aren't giving the Seminoles much respect as they prepare for the Hurricanes:

Winston discussed how he needs to clean up his ball security, as he's thrown five interceptions over his past two starts.

"Make smarter decisions, stop always looking for the big play," said Winston, per The Associated Press, via ESPN.com. "I stressed about checking the ball down and making smart decisions, and I've got to go back to that. I can't be careless with the ball."

Two home games remain for Florida State once it faces Miami, which shouldn't be easy thanks to the Hurricanes' balanced offense. Freshman QB Brad Kaaya continues to improve with weapons at his disposal while the ever-electric Duke Johnson should give the Seminoles problems out of the backfield.

Whenever adversity has struck, particularly in the past two contests, Winston and his teammates have stepped up and found a way to win.

That should be the case on Saturday, and if Mississippi State is knocked off at home, FSU will be in a familiar No. 1 perch.


2. Alabama

The Crimson Tide are starting to roll. Since the loss to Ole Miss in Oxford, Alabama has ripped off four straight SEC wins. That 59-0 thrashing of Texas A&M looks even better after the Aggies upset prior No. 3 Auburn this past weekend.

Dual-threat QBs have given the Tide problems in the recent past (see: Johnny Manziel), but Alabama's run defense is ranked third in the country (h/t NCAA.com).

The formidable front seven should do all it can to mitigate Bulldogs running back Josh Robinson's presence, forcing Dak Prescott to beat the secondary through the air.

A stout secondary headlined by star safety Landon Collins will make life difficult for Prescott, who has room for polish as a passer. Alabama linebacker Reggie Ragland hinted at that in recent comments.

"He's physical, he can run, he'll beat you with his arm a little bit, and he's very smart," said Ragland of Prescott, per ESPN.com's Alex Scarborough. "If you're not doing the right things to disguise and confuse him, he'll beat you."

But as LSU head coach Les Miles stated following his team's 20-13 overtime loss to Alabama at home, disguising is precisely what the Tide excel at (via NOLA.com's Ron Higgins):

Fifth-year senior Blake Sims has finally gotten his shot to take the reins of the Crimson Tide offense this year. After seeing his championship dreams almost slip away against Ole Miss, Sims has responded—with the help of a monster running back tandem in T.J. Yeldon and Derrick Henry.

The physicality of Alabama's offensive line combined with Sims' superior decision-making will lift the Tide to a monumental triumph at Bryant-Denny Stadium and into the Top Four—where they arguably belong right now.


3. Oregon

Presuming the Tide pull off a win at home over Mississippi State, Oregon's bye week will cause the Ducks to slip to third in the rankings.

A loss at home to Arizona, compared to Alabama's lone defeat at Ole Miss, ought to loom large when the selection committee reexamines Oregon's resume. Skip Bayless of ESPN feels that should already be the case:

Although the Ducks defense is improving, QB Marcus Mariota will be the driving force behind the success Oregon has. Fox Sports' Joel Klatt weighed in after the dynamic signal-caller led the Ducks to a 51-27 victory over Utah:

Mariota accounted for 353 total yards and five touchdowns, fortifying his Heisman Trophy campaign. It's not as though falling from second to third in the rankings has much of a devastating impact because in the College Football Playoff, the second and third seeds play each other anyway.

Bleacher Report's Michael Felder pointed this out in the aftermath of Tuesday's rankings:

With only two regular-season games remaining against unranked opponents, Oregon should be able to run the table and make it into the Pac-12 title game. Arizona State and UCLA loom as possible opponents for that championship showdown, so that's when the Ducks will show their true colors.

But if Alabama should fall to Mississippi State, there's at least an outside chance Oregon could rise to No. 1 should the Seminoles scratch out another ugly win.


4. TCU

Controversy will continue to swirl about TCU, the newest addition to the Top Four as of Tuesday.

ESPN's Robert Flores noted how the Horned Frogs' loss at Baylor is impacting their nationwide perception:

All that matters is what the committee thinks, and if the Bears are able to run the table and win the Big 12, there shouldn't be much of a debate. Then again, that's the beauty of the College Football Playoff and the previous BCS—the polarizing, weekly arguments about the top teams.

TCU came to play in its marquee matchup with previously seventh-ranked Kansas State, putting forth a complete effort in a 41-20 victory. Trevone Boykin is the catalyst for a Horned Frogs offense that averages 47.2 points per contest—and put up 58 in the lone loss of the season.

It will be on Boykin to orchestrate another sensational performance on the road against Kansas this weekend to keep his team's standing intact. The good news is that the Jayhawks are 90th in scoring defense and average just 18.2 points themselves.

One of the pitfalls of having weekly rankings, where strength of schedule is a paramount pillar in the committee's decisions, is that teams like TCU can win out and lose ground. This scenario could unfold and have the Horned Frogs on the outside of the final playoff picture barring an upset in front of them.

The statement win over the Wildcats may not be enough in the end. All TCU can do is focus on its final three games and hope that its style points merit a Top Four bid. But with all the upsets that tend to happen in college football, anything is possible amid the higher-stakes football still to come.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Bowl Predictions 2014: Predictions for College Football Playoff After Week 11

An action-filled Week 11 in the college football world has created some major shifts in who we expect to play in the College Football Playoff. 

Auburn had been considered the best one-loss team in the nation going into the week thanks to its difficult schedule and ability to dominate quality opponents. However, a home loss to Texas A&M likely ruins any chance for the Tigers to compete for a national championship.

As a result, a wide array of teams have the ability to play their way into the conversation as the four best teams in the nation.

While you can see who would be involved in the playoff if the season ended today based on the latest rankings, here are predictions for who will still be standing at the end of the year:

The first thing most people will likely notice is the absence of current No. 1 Mississippi State. There is no question the Bulldogs deserve this spot at the moment, but the status quo will only remain as long as they are undefeated.

This will be a difficult task with a road matchup at Alabama in Week 12 as well as another road game against Ole Miss. A loss in just one of these games could be enough to knock the team out of the top four due to poor out-of-conference scheduling, as noted by Jake Trotter of ESPN.com:

Alabama will have to win home games against Mississippi State and Auburn, which will be no easy task, but the Tide have been much better at Bryant-Denny Stadium this season. Nick Saban's squad has a strong chance to win out and get a much-deserved place in the playoffs.

Florida State appeared to be almost a lock at this point with no more matchups really standing out as too difficult. However, Miami (FL) could end up causing a few problems Saturday.

Still, the Seminoles have a spot earned as defending national champions with a current undefeated record. As long as there is a zero in the loss column, this group will have a spot in the CFB Playoff.

This is despite oddsmakers not having too much respect for Jameis Winston and Co., per RJ Bell of Pregame.com (via Barrett Sallee of Bleacher Report):

The last two spots are more of a debate, although it seems like it will come down to one representative from the Pac-12 and one from the Big 12.

Oregon currently remains in good shape due to a bunch of good wins behind Marcus Mariota; however, Arizona State controls its own destiny with the ability to win out and then defeat the Ducks in the Pac-12 championship. 

After the Sun Devils added an impressive win over Notre Dame to their resume, there is no reason to count them out now.

This leaves two teams that have already played each other in TCU and Baylor. Tony Barnhart of SEC Network argues on behalf of the Bears:

While Baylor did earn a wild 61-58 win against TCU, it was a home game and still could only manage a three-point, come-from-behind victory. Meanwhile, the Horned Frogs also won at West Virginia, a place where the Bears suffered their only loss.

Head-to-head results become a tricky situation, especially when TCU has a much better resume with tougher wins and a more respectable loss. Based on how the committee has made its decisions this year, it seems like the Horned Frogs will get the bid if these teams are tied.

Another team that put itself back in the conversation this week was Ohio State, which defeated Michigan State with a 49-37 road win. The Buckeyes looked bad earlier in the year during a home loss to Virginia Tech, but they have turned things around and now look as good as anyone in the country.

When asked about whether his squad is good enough for a spot in the playoffs, head coach Urban Meyer argued on its behalf, per Mark Schlabach of ESPN.com: "I think it is, because I love my team and I don't know enough. I haven't studied the other teams really. If I have to go fight for this team, what they've done—very impressive. That darn loss the second game, if that hurts us, I'll take the hit for that."

The squad still might not have good enough wins to get a spot without a little help, but the Buckeyes will be right there waiting for someone to slip.


Follow Rob Goldberg on Twitter for the latest breaking news and analysis.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

College Football Week 12 Schedule: TV and Live Stream Info for Every Game

Gulp down the air while it's still available because viewers around the globe are set to once again be engulfed by the tide that is a number of heavyweight matchups that line the college football Week 12 schedule.

Last week it was Ohio State-Michigan State, TCU-Kansas State and a host of others that produced serious ramifications on the outlook of the inaugural College Football Playoff.

This week is just as important as a fixture of the dying embers of the season. Mississippi State-Alabama is sure to thrill. So is Nebraska-Wisconsin. Ditto for Auburn-Georgia. Others such as Florida State must avoid upsets against chippy underdogs.

Crafting a way to catch all of the action can be tricky, so what follows is a comprehensive listing of the Week 12 slate.


2014 College Football Week 12 Schedule

Schedule and viewing info courtesy of ESPN.com. For games without national or regional coverage on a major network, check local listings.


Live Stream Resource

Below is a database for the biggest streaming services out there for fans on the go or who do not get a game on the old-fashioned television. Note that some may require a subscription or cable.


SEC: CBSSports.com

Fox: Fox Sports Go

BTN: BTN2Go.com

Pac-12: Pac-12.com


CBS: CBSSports.com


Game of the Week

No. 1 Mississippi State at No. 5 Alabama

No game overshadows one that may produce a staggering feat when it comes to the CFP.

Should this and subsequent dominoes fall the right way, the SEC may miss out on the CFP entirely. The Crimson Tide already have one loss on the season and may miss out with another come Saturday.

Should Mississippi State lose this one, the team still needs to overcome Ole Miss, too. Again, the dominoes need to fall the right way, but the SEC is on high alert. Hence College GameDay making its way to Tuscaloosa:

As John Talty of AL.com breaks down, there is much at stake in terms of program-building philosophies, too: 

The product on the field seems to echo the ethos of each school's financial spending. Alabama can afford to recruit nationally and is loaded with highly-regarded five-star and four-star prospects. Mississippi State largely focuses on in-state recruiting and has made its name developing overlooked three-star prospects. Not surprisingly, Alabama far outspent Mississippi State ($983,721 to $340,000) in recruiting expenses in 2013.

"They probably have more 5-star players sitting on the bench who can't get a rep than we have on our entire roster," Bulldogs coach Dan Mullen said, per The Associated Press, via ESPN.com.

The Bulldogs are led by emerging Heisman favorite Dak Prescott, who has 2,231 yards and 18 touchdowns to seven interceptions through the air, with another 779 yards and 11 scores on the ground.

Prescott helps his team to rank 12th in the nation at 39.8 points scored per game on average, but he gets loads of help from a defense that ranks 16th at 19.7.

Alabama does not score quite as much per game (34.7), but the Crimson Tide once again tout one of the nation's scariest defenses. Nick Saban's defense surrenders just 13.9 points per game to rank second in the nation. 

Should this one unexpectedly dissolve into a shootout, though, Alabama has its own Heisman favorite to lean on with wideout Amari Cooper. Of the team's 2,531 receiving yards and 20 scores this year, he owns 1,215 and 10, respectively, on 79 catches.

The wild card in all of this is Alabama senior quarterback Blake Sims, who has turned things up a notch since his team's loss to Ole Miss. Over the course of the four games since, he has thrown for nine touchdowns to no interceptions.

No matter what happens Saturday, it is right to expect a classic. Prescott could get his Heisman moment in Tuscaloosa just like those before him, such as Cam Newton and Johnny Manziel. Or, Alabama could stand tall and send a warning shot to the CFP that the dynasty is alive and well.

With so much at stake, this is the contest to see in Week 12, if not the entirety of the season.


Stats and information via ESPN.com unless otherwise specified.


Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Kynon's Korner: 5-Star DL Previews Miami OV, Austin Mack Recaps Sparty Trip

The University of Miami will host No. 3 Florida State this Saturday at Sun Life Stadium with plenty of big-name recruits expected to attend the in-state rivalry. Perhaps the biggest prospect to visit Coral Gables, Florida, will be 5-star defensive tackle Rasheem Green out of Gardena (California) Junipero Serra. Miami has yet to land a franchise interior lineman under head coach Al Golden and his staff. Green would fill an immediate need for the Hurricanes if they can pull the Golden State star from the West Coast. 

"I'm excited for this game," Green told Bleacher Report. "I'm going to be looking at everything. I want to see how the defense plays. I really want to see how Coach (Jethro) Franklin is during the game with the defensive line. I've always liked Miami in general, and I like Coach Franklin a lot. I'm also looking forward to seeing Brad Kaaya play."

Green will be accompanied by his parents. He told me they are comfortable with him leaving California if it's the right place. He's even talked to Kaaya about his transition to Miami and the college game. "I've talked to him on Twitter about it," Green explained. "He said he loves it down there."

Franklin has been recruiting Green for the 'Canes over the last two years, but he said offensive coordinator James Coley is starting to build a connection. Coley was responsible for landing Kaaya in last year's class, so there's a chance he can do it again. Miami already has 4-star Cali offensive lineman Bar Milo committed for the 2015 class. 

The 6'5", 275-pound defender said Miami and USC are recruiting him the hardest at this stage. Miami's pitch has been "a little bit of everything," according to Green, citing the NFL tradition and possible early playing time. 

Green calls J.J. Watt his favorite NFL player because of his work ethic and technique. He is planning to make his college decision on national signing day.


Austin Mack Calls Michigan State Visit an "8"

Wide receiver Austin Mack visited East Lansing over the weekend for the Spartans-Buckeyes tilt in a rematch of the 2013 Big Ten Championship Game. It was the first time he attended a game at the newly renovated stadium.

"I'd say the visit was an eight of 10," Mack responded. "The game was intense. The atmosphere was great, and the fans were going crazy. It was a fun game to be a part of. The new stadium was great, and the addition to the tunnel was awesome."

The Spartans staff have built strong relationships with Mack, and that stands out to the flanker from Indiana. 

"Coach (Dave) Warner is my recruiter, but I talk to Coach (Terrance) Samuel the most," Mack said. "Coach Sam is real awesome, he's a cool guy. I have to say the guy that's impressed me the most from Michigan State is Coach (Ken) Mannie. When I took a visit over the summer, he kept it super real with me. He told me if you come here it's all about working. They aren't going to sugarcoat anything. It's a humble program. I like that about them."

The receivers aren't too bad either for Sparty. "Tony Lippett has been dominant this season. He didn't have a big game, but Ohio State's corners were good. (Doran) Grant is one of the best in the country," Mack noted. "(Macgarrett) Kings is solid. No. 25 had a big play. The thing with them is they run a pro-style offense, so that's a good thing."

Ohio State and Notre Dame are in the picture as well as Stanford. The 6'2", 205-pound split end said the Buckeyes have recruited Mack harder than any other program. He stays in constant contact with coach Urban Meyer, coach Kerry Coombs and coach Zach Smith. Mack plans to visit Ohio State on Nov. 29 for the Michigan game if his team isn't in the state championship that weekend.


5-star Defensive Lineman Daron Payne To Miss Bama-Hail State Game, Cowart Unsure 

ESPN's College GameDay will be in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, this Saturday for the Crimson Tide's showdown against No. 1 Mississippi State. Several top recruits are expected in T-Town for the SEC West battle. However, one of the nation's premier defensive linemen, Daron Payne, will not be roaming the sidelines. 

Payne will be in Indiana visiting family following his Friday night playoff game against Florence (Alabama). He had this to say about the game though: "It's hard because I like both teams. I like the coaches and atmosphere at both, but I think Bama is going to take this one."

When it comes to recruiting, Payne said Alabama is the school that makes him feel like the biggest priority. "I talk to Coach (Mario) Cristobal almost every day. Coach (Kirby) Smart too," Payne said. "With Coach Cristobal, we don't just talk about football. We talk about everyday things and life. That's why I like him."

Kentucky, Mississippi State and USC are working to get him on campus for official visits after the season. The Bulldogs are a serious contender as Payne said Mississippi State is up there with Alabama, followed by Auburn. 

Fellow 5-star defensive lineman Byron Cowart told me he is sick with the flu, and he isn't sure if he will make it to the game. Cowart's team opens the playoff on Friday against Largo (Florida). The Seffner (Florida) Armwood standout visited Alabama on Oct. 18 for the Texas A&M game. Yet, he wanted to see the marquee matchup up close. 

"I was looking forward to this trip because it's a big game," Cowart told me. "I want to go, but I want to see if I feel better."

Cowart said Alabama is still in the mix along with Florida and Florida State. Oregon was scheduled to get an official visit next weekend, but those plans are on hold.

"Everything has changed," Cowart said. "Right now I'm taking it day by day. I was supposed to go to Oregon, but I need to talk to my coach about it. With Florida State, I'm not sure. I know I can take an official visit in January." 

He has plans to announce his college choice at the Under Armour All-American Game on Friday, January 2. 


Mom Approves of New Leader for California Athlete

Bellflower (California) St. John Bosco athlete D.J. Morgan was in Tempe, Arizona, last weekend for Arizona State's 55-31 rout of Notre Dame. Prior to the visit, USC was thought to be the leader, according to the 247Sports Crystal Ball predictions. Shortly after coming home, Morgan didn't hesitate to name his leader. 

"Yes, they are my leader," Morgan directly told Bleacher Report. "They are also my mom's leader. It was a great trip. I had a great time there." 

What was the best part for Morgan? He answered, "My favorite part was getting to tour the facilities and hear about what Arizona State has to offer education-wise. My parents were very impressed with the education as well. My parents said ASU set a very high standard."

The 4-star playmaker said he got a chance to talk to the coaches about his future position and life as a Sun Devil. 

"I got to talk to Coach (Chris) Ball about playing defensive back," Morgan stated. "He told me he feels I can be a four-year starter there, but it's all up to how hard I work to get a starting spot as a freshman."

Morgan has been to USC already for a game this fall. He is hearing from Notre Dame, and he has plans to check out campus at a later date. 

Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand. Recruiting information and ratings courtesy of 247Sports unless otherwise noted. 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Texas Football: The 3 Biggest X-Factors for the Longhorns vs. Oklahoma State

The Texas Longhorns sit just one win away from a bowl appearance, and they have a good chance of getting it this week at Oklahoma State.

To complete the unexpected second-half surge, Charlie Strong's team will need more of what we saw in the upset win over West Virginia.

Though the Longhorns will get one more shot at win No. 6, this week's contest in Stillwater is about as must-win as it gets. The Cowboys have lost three in a row, averaging just 11 points per game in blowout defeats at the hands of TCU, West Virginia and Kansas State.

Should Texas lose, that means it will have to handle the No. 4 Horned Frogs on Thanksgiving.

To avoid that scenario, the Longhorns must get big performances from their X-factors in the ground game and along the defensive line. It also couldn't hurt to figure out how to bottle up Tyreek Hill on kick returns.

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Kramer's College Football Playoff Notebook: Committee Turning on Florida State?

A team that has not lost a football game since November of 2012—almost two full calendar years—was leapfrogged by a program with one loss on Tuesday night.

Florida State, still without a blemish to speak of in 2014, is no longer the nation’s No. 2 team according to the updated College Football Playoff Top 25. That honor belongs to Oregon, which has done enough since its home loss to Arizona to warrant movement upward, at least according to the committee.

Looking at the bigger picture, the rise is significant. This situation never would have occurred if the BCS computers were still running the show. The percentage gap between Florida State and Oregon might have closed some, although that would have been the extent of it. We would have gone about our business to the next weekend, waiting for an actual loss to truly shakeup the pecking order.

The fact that the committee is willing to make these decisions is a story. But for Florida State—and Oregon, for that matter—the headline-generating shakeup carries very little significance. The colors of the jerseys in their semifinal matchup would have changed because the home team playing at a neutral site; that’s about it. 

The No. 2 and No. 3 teams will still play one another in the postseason. If this switch came during the last week of the season, no one would have batted an eye. The fact that the selection committee decided to make the change now—a few days after the Seminoles won in relatively unimpressive fashion against Virginia—simply means they’re seeing exactly what you’ve seen. Florida State doesn't look impressive.  Still, with that considered, nothing has changed logistically for the Noles.

Regardless of the committee’s public demotion, this is far more sizzle than steak. If the Seminoles win out, they’re in the playoff. That’s the reality and it was always a reality. Everything else at this point is for entertainment purposes only.

And Florida State fans, are you not entertained?

Enraged, maybe? OK, let's call it enraged.

Here are some other observations from the selection committee's latest rankings.


The Selection Committee Sends Alabama a Message

This is a convenient week to leave Alabama on the cusp of cracking the playoff, and trying to draw anything from the Tide’s current No. 5 ranking is a wasted exercise.

If Alabama beats No. 1 Mississippi State next week, it will be in the playoff. Although the committee says it is not in the business of sending messages to teams or fan bases outside the rankings themselves—something committee chairman Jeff Long reiterated on Tuesday night—the message is clear as day.

"We don't think it is our job to send messages. We believe our rankings will send messages." - @jefflongUA#CFP25pic.twitter.com/TpyoqqD0dh

— ESPN CollegeFootball (@ESPNCFB) November 12, 2014

Win and you're in.

Let’s take this one step further. Given the way the committee reacted this week with an unbeaten Florida State team, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that Alabama could be the No. 1 seed by the time next Tuesday hits. Much of this depends on how the teams in front of Alabama play in Week 12, although the scenario is very much a possibility.

Placement in the playoff is far less important than the obstacle ahead. Mississippi State, the current No. 1 and one of the few teams with minimal debate attached, will be up for the challenge.


Go Out And Play Somebody

“I beat you” is a pretty convincing statement and a simple way decide an argument. In college football, however, this recess logic now comes with a fair amount of fine print depending on the entirety of the picture. 

By putting Baylor at No. 7—three spots below TCU, a team it beat in spectacular comeback fashion—the selection committee has made it clear that weak out-of-conference schedules will be penalized, and as a result, the "rules" will begin to bend.

Jeff Long on ranking TCU over Baylor: “Head to head comes into play when all else is equal"

— Brett McMurphy (@McMurphyESPN) November 12, 2014

The Horned Frogs are being rewarded for beating No. 25 Minnesota with the No. 4 position. With the Gophers set to take on Ohio State, Nebraska and Wisconsin to come—three teams ranked in the Top 25 this week—the possibility to drop a game (or three) is there. As a result, late Minnesota struggles could change this discussion and perceptions of teams in another conference entirely. 

Although Baylor’s pre-Big 12 games won’t suddenly become more inviting, the overall resume might begin to look a bit better compared to the team it beat as it closes out the season and distances itself from the start. Still, even with the Bears having ample time to close the gap, the committee has made it clear that cupcake schedules early on could result in an uphill climb late.


One Bad Loss Won’t Kill You, Just Ask Ohio State

Although Ohio State still feels like an unlikely playoff pick, the Buckeyes have to be thrilled about being No. 8 in the latest rankings. Could it be better? Of course it could, and you could make the argument that Ohio State is playing better than teams above it right now.

But when you lose to a team like Virginia Tech at home—regardless of timing—you lose ground in this discussion. The fact the selection committee is still willing to look beyond this loss and consider the development of certain players along the way, however, is encouraging for Ohio State and any other rapidly-developing program moving forward.

Teams change, players develop and seasons flip without warning. 

Taking this development into consideration while also handicapping the entire picture will be one of the more difficult tasks the committee has to deal with. And although Ohio State is still alive, it’ll be fascinating to see just where the ceiling is as crunch time approaches.



Group of 5 Shut Out… Again

I might as well just copy and paste this section until further notice.

Marshall and Colorado State shut off their televisions once teams ranked No. 25 through No. 21 were revealed. They might as well have caught up on Homeland rather than wait around for good news that never came, because they weren’t going to hear their names called after that.

What exactly is it going to take for a team outside of the Power 5 to get a little love?

Marshall will continue to beat teams by an absurd margin—as it did to Southern Miss last week. Will beating Rice by three touchdowns in Week 12 suddenly do the trick? You would think it would have to at some point, although given the way these non-power programs have been graded, it’s not going to be easy for one of these Group of 5 programs to make a splash.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Miami Has the Tailback and the Incentive to Hold off a Florida State Comeback

All Florida State home football games begin with the revered ceremony of a burning spear being planted at midfield by the Seminole mascot riding a horse named Renegade.

But this season, in honor of the four-legged beast who was famous for furious finishes, FSU should have changed the horse’s name to Seabiscuit.

FSU has become best known for letting good enough be good enough and waiting until after halftime to get a winning plan together. Then it makes a mad dash to victory, relying largely on the arm of Jameis Winston.

Five times this season FSU has had to rally to win. Twice the Seminoles have been down by three scores, including 21-0 to Louisville on Oct. 30.

It makes for thrilling watching, but it isn’t playing well with the College Football Playoff Committee, which this week dumped the undefeated Seminoles down to the No. 3 spot, behind once-beaten Oregon.

If FSU is feeling dissed and disrespected, Saturday would be a good time to show it.

The prime-time matchup with Miami is tailor-made for yet another game that could see Florida State dawdle its way to victory. Or, if it isn’t careful, FSU could see its aspirations for a repeat national championship go poof, because it assumed there’s always one more rabbit waiting to be pulled from the hat.

At 6-3, Miami is having a decent season, but the Hurricanes don’t show up in anyone’s poll. Still, they have the ingredients to ambush an opponent that many were calling overrated back in September.

This game will be in Miami, so Renegade won’t be in the house. FSU fans no doubt are taking great comfort in knowing the Seminoles have won four straight on the road against their in-state rival and haven’t lost in Miami since 2004. How long ago was that? Well, Facebook had just launched and Winston was sitting in a fifth-grade classroom.

But before another round of FSU complacency settles, it should be noted that Miami has defended its Sun Life Stadium turf flawlessly this season, with a 5-0 record.

More importantly, the Hurricanes have a Duke who could single-handedly dethrone the reigning kings of college football.

That’s Duke Johnson, a 5’9” tailback who has been under the radar of many fans. But he packs 206 pounds of ball-control power and is on the verge of becoming the U’s all-time rushing leader.

Johnson is working on a streak of five consecutive 100-yard rushing games, and the last three have been downright explosive: 162 yards against Cincinnati, 249 in a trampling of Virginia Tech and 177 more against North Carolina.

If Johnson gets on a roll and pushes Miami to an early lead, he has the kind of clock-killing game that could keep the ball out of Winston’s hands when comeback time arrives.

The Hurricanes also are the anti-FSU, in terms of scoring habits. As the Sun-Sentinel (Fla.) notes, Miami has scored first in all but one of its games and has put up points on its first possession in six games.

And with Miami coming off a bye week, he will have fresh wheels as he goes up against a Seminole defense that’s 35th in the nation against the rush, allowing 135.7 yards a game.

Johnson also owes FSU one.

He suffered a season-ending ankle fracture in last year’s game against the Seminoles and had 97 yards on 23 carries when the injury hit in the second half.

Florida State defenders have no trouble remembering him.

"Duke is just one of those backs that you really don't see," FSU defensive end Mario Edwards Jr. told the Tallahassee Democrat. "He can make a cut or stop and get back going full speed within two strides. Once he makes a cut and gets through a gap you can pretty much kiss the baby. He's going to be gone.”

FSU may have trouble answering on the ground. Top Seminoles running back Dalvin Cook suffered a hip injury on Saturday against Virginia and is a maybe for Miami.

But Johnson has shown no signs of his injury nagging at him this season. He has run for 1,213 yards and nine touchdowns and is averaging 7.7 yards a carry. He needs only 252 more yards to break the school record of 3,331 career rushing yards that Ottis Anderson set from 1975-78.

Already this season, Johnson has passed a pack of former Miami ball-carriers who went on to NFL stardom: Frank Gore, Willis McGahee, Clinton Portis and Edgerrin James.

Johnson has downplayed any notion of a revenge factor, telling the Miami Herald that, “I approach every game the same way, same mind-set, regardless of what happened last year.”

But given that he already ranks seventh in the nation for rushing yards, he could move into the Heisman picture with a big game that knocks FSU out of the playoffs during prime time.

That’s the other factor that makes Miami so dangerous on Saturday—the chance to ruin Florida State’s year.

Clemson and Notre Dame were playing for themselves when they nearly pulled off upsets against the Seminoles. But Miami will be playing for multiple generations of its fans who consider FSU the must-win game of the season.

Winston acknowledged that after the Virginia game, telling reporters that against Miami, "The mentality probably will be different because we've got players from the state of Florida that know about this rivalry and just live and breathe this rivalry.”

That’s an attitude FSU better have on Saturday, preferably before halftime, if it wants to keep its national championship hopes living and breathing.


Tom Weir covered college football as a columnist for USA Today.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Post-Week 11 College Football Playoff Projections from Analytics Guru Ed Feng

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

My algorithm projects just that in the sortable table above. Now, allow me to explain my rankings...

Alabama Is Still Your SEC Favorite

For the second straight week, Alabama holds the dreaded fifth spot in the committee rankings. No. 4 TCU likely jumped ahead of the the Tide because the committee was more impressed with the Horned Frogs' decisive 41-20 victory over Kansas State than with Bama's 20-13 squeaker over a down LSU squad. 

However, in the long run, the numbers still like Alabama's chances in the SEC. It has a 69 percent chance to beat top-ranked Mississippi State at home this weekend. And despite an upcoming game with Auburn, Alabama has a 54.9 percent chance to win the SEC West.

With the strength of the conference in the west, Alabama's road to the playoff gets easier in the SEC title game. It would have a 76 percent win probability against Georgia or 89.5 percent chance against Missouri.

Alabama most likely won't remain on the outside of the playoff for long.

Ohio State Shows the Power of the Upset

Last weekend, Ohio State traveled to Michigan State as the underdog. A defeat would have put the Buckeyes at two losses and officially ended their playoff hopes.

However, Urban Meyer's squad surprised the nation and pulled off the upset. The win elevated the Buckeyes' playoff probability from 4.5 percent last week to 22.0 percent this week. This shows the massive impact of turning a low-win-probability game into an actual victory.

But the Buckeyes still have some work to do. While Ohio State will almost certainly win the Big Ten East, the Buckeyes still would have to play Nebraska or Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game. The computers think it will be Wisconsin and give Ohio State a 54.8 percent chance to win this neutral-site contest.

Pool of Contenders Shrinking 

As the number of games remaining continues to shrink, the number of opportunities for upsets dwindle, and we can be a more and more confident in our numbers.

Last week, only Oregon had a greater than 50 percent chance to make the playoff. This week, four teams have better than even odds to end the season in the Top Four.

This shift in probability toward the top teams means that the pool of contenders is getting smaller.

For example, consider Ole Miss. Despite a win, the Rebels' playoff chances dropped from 35.1 percent last week to 18.0 percent this week due to circumstances largely out of their control. Specifically, Alabama's critical win over LSU drastically boosted the Tide's SEC West title hopes and, in turn, dropped Ole Miss' chances. 

Lack of Big 12 Championship Game a Huge Advantage

Big 12 titans TCU (62.3 percent) and Baylor (51.8 percent) have two of the top four playoff probabilities. It helps that both teams have already played their toughest opponents. Between the two, TCU has the toughest remaining game (at Texas, 56.7 percent win probability).

This is made possible by the fact that the 10-team Big 12 does not currently have a championship game. 

Last week, TCU and Baylor won decisive games over ranked Kansas State and Oklahoma teams respectively. The committee recognized the strength in these wins, as both squads jumped SEC teams. TCU jumped ahead of Alabama while Baylor jumped Ole Miss.

If TCU was forced to play Baylor again in a conference title game, the Bears would have a 55.8 percent win probability. However, both teams would have much lower probabilities to make the playoff.

Pac-12 Bias

Last week, the committee played favorites with Arizona State. This week, another Pac-12 team, UCLA, got the special treatment. The Bruins jumped from 18th to 11th after their win over Washington, a team that hasn't impressed anyone this season.

Granted, most of UCLA's upward movement came at the expense of teams that lost. However, the Bruins jumped ahead of Nebraska, which had a bye.

Don't get too excited about UCLA (8-2, 5-2 Pac-12). It trails Arizona State (8-1, 5-1) in the Pac-12 South standings. UCLA has a 27.8 percent chance to win the Pac-12 South, while Arizona State has a 57.6 percent chance.

Even if the Bruins managed to emerge from the South they would only have a 27.2 percent chance to beat Oregon in the Pac-12 Championship Game. All of these factors combine to give UCLA a 3.7 percent chance to make the playoff.

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

Does Oregon Deserve to Be Ahead of FSU After Latest CFP Committee Rankings?

No. 2 Oregon has jumped over No. 3 Florida State in the latest College Football Playoff ranking despite the 9-0 Seminoles' undefeated record. Bleacher Report College Football Analysts Michael Felder and Barrett Sallee discuss whether the committee was right or wrong in putting the 9-1 Ducks so high.

Who is in your Top Four? Should the Ducks have leapfrogged the Seminoles?

Watch the video and let us know!

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

UCLA Football Recruiting: 5 2015 Recruits Bruins Must Land

Recruiting for Jim Mora and the UCLA football team is off to a great start for the 2015 class. 

Using Scout.com as a mechanism of reference, the Bruins currently have the No. 15 class in the country. If one looks at the average star rating per recruit, UCLA is No. 3 nationally—ranking behind only Alabama and Michigan. 

This piece will speak about the must-get recruits for this class—strictly based on need from a roster and talent perspective. The list won't be a comprehensive look at every elite recruit UCLA is pursuing. However, the athletes listed here all have a feasible shot at eventually ending up in Westwood. 


*Star rankings for the recruits are all from Scout.com, unless noted otherwise. 

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UCLA Football Recruiting: 5 2015 Recruits Bruins Must Land

Recruiting for Jim Mora and the UCLA football team is off to a great start for the 2015 class. Using Scout.com as a mechanism of reference, the Bruins currently have the No...

Begin Slideshow

Does Alabama Deserve to Be in the Top 4 After Week 12 CFP Committee Rankings?

The Alabama Crimson Tide lead the "first four out" of teams in the latest version of the College Football Playoff committee rankings. Bleacher Report College Football Analysts Michael Felder and Barrett Sallee discuss whether that is a good position for Alabama.

Will Alabama make the CFP?

Watch the video, and let us know!

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

The 3 Biggest X-Factors for Tennessee vs. Kentucky

The Tennessee Volunteers head into Saturday's matchup with the Kentucky Wildcats desperately needing a win that would all but ensure themselves of bowl eligibility.

While the Vols are, on paper at least, a better team than the Wildcats, there are a few X-factors that will play a big role in determining if Tennessee can gain and maintain control of the game or if Kentucky can pull a huge upset on the road. 

One thing is for sure: Neither team is lacking motivation to land a knockout blow this weekend. The Wildcats need just one more win to become eligible themselves, and to achieve it at the expense of Tennessee would be a signature victory for second-year head coach Mark Stoops

Tennessee, on the other hand, needs two wins to make the postseason, but a win over Kentucky would mean the Vols only need a single victory against remaining opponents Missouri and Vanderbilt—and the latter seems to have reverted back to the dark ages of Commodores football under first-year head coach Derek Mason.

The Vols are favored to win this game, but after three 5-7 seasons in a row, they have a track record of folding when they only need one more win to reach the all-elusive bowl game.

With so much on the line this weekend, there's no doubt both teams will get each other's best shot. Here are three X-factors that could trump even the most passionate pregame speeches by Vols head coach Butch Jones and Stoops before their teams take the field. 

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5 Things We Learned from College Football Playoff Committee's Week 11 Rankings

The selection committee's third release of its rankings proved to be its most interesting and revealing. There is strong indication that the members indeed are evaluating the teams freshly each week and not following the poll practice where teams only slide up and down out of fixed positions from the previous week.

That's good. It makes for an intriguing final month of the season for the fewer than a dozen contenders still remaining in the playoff hunt. 

Here are the five things that come immediately to mind based on the committee's new rankings.


SEC is looking at one bid

Forget two bids in the four-team field. The SEC will need to hang on to its one bid, as a two-loss conference champion may very well be shut out of the playoff. Despite being the top-ranked team for three weeks in a row, Mississippi State may be finished with just one loss if it does not win the SEC West because of a weak nonconference schedule.


Big Ten is in big trouble

Ohio State's big win over Michigan State is good for the Buckeyes but very bad for their conference. OSU will not be able to play its way into the playoff without help as the committee has a very low regard for the Big Ten. The Buckeyes' best remaining opponent could be Nebraska—if they meet in the B1G title game—and the Huskers are ranked only 16th despite having just one loss.


TCU shouldn't get too comfortable

While the Horned Frogs made a celebrated jump into the top four this week, this stay is by no means permanent. Baylor still has a chance to get past TCU as it has better opponents coming up, including the regular-season finale against Kansas State.

Since the two teams share the same foes in 10 of their 11 games against FBS opponents, TCU should root hard for Minnesota, as its victory over the now-ranked Gophers is a far better scalp than Baylor's win over Buffalo.


Committee is sending a message about schedule

That Baylor is in its current predicament owes a great deal to its awful nonconference schedule. Conversely, that UCLA is ranked 11th can be traced to its decision to play two power-five opponents in its three OOC games. A third example is Notre Dame, where we learned that while it's good to schedule tough opponents, you'll need to beat them to get credit.


Where's group-of-five?

For a second consecutive week, the committee did not bother to put a group-of-five team in the rankings, leaving the access bowl picture very murky. But with the introduction of Minnesota at No. 25, one must wonder if leaving Marshall out at this point makes sense. As a direct comparison, the Herd performed better than the Gophers as they both beat Middle Tennessee at home. Marshall won by 25 (49-24) whereas Minnesota won by 11 (35-24).


Explanation of rankings

BCS rankings are a simulation of the BCS formula used from 2004-2013 with two exceptions: The AP poll is used in place of the Harris Poll, and 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.


Follow on Twitter @ThePlayoffGuru

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Is Ohio State Poised to Make Playoff Spot After Latest CFP Committee Rankings?

The Ohio State Buckeyes are ranked eighth in the latest College Football Playoff rankings. The rest of the season looks promising for the Buckeyes, but will it be enough to get them into the CFP?

Bleacher Report College Football Analysts Barrett Sallee and Michael Felder discuss what would need to happen to get OSU into the playoff. 

Do you think Ohio State will make it?

Watch the video and let us know! 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

College Football Playoff Rankings 2014: Twitter Reacts to Week 12 Top 25 Reveal

Between a number of ranked matchups and a stunning Texas A&M upset victory over Auburn, Week 12's edition of the College Football Playoff rankings was due for a serious shakeup.    

Here is an overview of the latest Top 25 from the 12-person selection committee, as the college football hierarchy was revealed in an ESPN telecast Tuesday night:

In preserving its undefeated record, it comes as no surprise that Mississippi State is still the top team in the country.

For the second game in a row, Florida State Seminoles quarterback Jameis Winston overcame multiple interceptions to lead the team to a 34-20 win over Virginia. That shaky, turnover-prone play had to contribute to FSU's fall to No. 3, as Oregon slid into the second spot on the strength of a win over Utah.

Stewart Mandel of Fox Sports praised the committee for placing the Ducks No. 2:

Fox Sports' Bruce Feldman was rather shocked by the move at the top:

The Tigers are now out of the coveted Top Four following a 41-38 loss to the Aggies at home. Previously sixth-ranked TCU dominated then-No. 7 Kansas State 41-20 to bolster its resume in a big way—enough to get into the Top Four, at that.

Joey Galloway of ESPN offered his take:

TCU's triumph creates considerable convolution in the Big 12, thanks to its prior loss to Baylor, who blew out Oklahoma, 48-14, this weekend.

Much has been made of the Bears' weak non-conference schedule, which Sporting News' Matt Hayes doesn't buy into:

CBS4's Vic Lombardi deployed similar logic with regard to the Baylor-TCU dilemma:

Dan Wetzel of Yahoo Sports raises an interesting point about the Horned Frogs' potential fate:

A reputable Michigan State Spartans defense was shredded by the Ohio State Buckeyes in East Lansing, as QB J.T. Barrett accounted for five total touchdowns in a 49-37 landmark win. That battle for Big Ten superiority gave the Bucks a big boost in their postseason push.

In all likelihood, though, Ohio State will face a conference championship tangle with Nebraska, provided the Cornhuskers win at Wisconsin next week and run the table in the final two games thereafter.

Bleacher Report Buckeyes expert Ben Axelrod alluded to how the Big 12 could impact OSU's playoff chances:

UCLA made a big jump from 18th to 11th in the latest rankings, catalyzed by star signal-caller Brett Hundley's four total TDs in a 44-30 win over Washington. Chris Dufresne of the Los Angeles Times had the last laugh regarding his assertion that the team could still contend:

It will be interesting to see whether the Bruins can defeat USC and Stanford at home to stay in the Pac-12 South hunt, where they trail Arizona State.

The Sun Devils are dangerous, riding a wave of momentum off a 55-31 win over Notre Dame, while the Alabama Crimson Tide are still lurking thanks to a gritty, 20-13 overtime victory against LSU.

Pat Forde of Yahoo Sports noticed how the committee gravitated to Arizona State, while CBSSports.com's Dennis Dodd feels Alabama could jump into the Top Four soon enough:

As can be discerned from the breakdown of all these conferences and the most current standings, there is still so much at stake with mere games remaining. The biggest showdown on tap for Saturday is Mississippi State's trip to Tuscaloosa, where it hopes to knock off Alabama.

ESPN's Mack Brown weighed in on what should be a classic SEC clash:

Few could have forecast Auburn losing, so even the top-tier teams playing perceptibly winnable games aren't safe.

In just the third edition of the College Football Playoff rankings, the committee has rewarded a less-heralded team in TCU by placing the Horned Frogs fourth. With the program in such a great position and so many formidable contenders chasing, this race for the postseason will surely be fascinating down the stretch.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com