Feed aggregator

Kyle Flood, Julie Hermann Fired by Rutgers: Latest Comments, Reaction

Rutgers fired head football coach Kyle Flood and athletic director Julie Hermann on Sunday. 

The school announced the decision on Sunday after ESPN's Brett McMurphy initially reported the news. Rutgers also announced Patrick Hobbs has been named the new athletic director.

Keith Sargeant of NJ.com had reported Friday both Flood and Hermann were in jeopardy of losing their jobs. Sargeant indicated Hermann was to meet with Rutgers President Robert Barchi to discuss her future and that she'd been kept "in the dark" during an internal investigation into the football program conducted by Rutgers' compliance office.

Rutgers posted a meager 4-8 record in the 2015 season, which ended with a 46-41 loss to Maryland on Saturday.

In addition to the on-field woes, Rutgers' players have incurred multiple suspensions and arrests and been involved in overall misconduct that has reflected poorly on Flood as the leader of the program. He was also suspended three games for contacting a faculty member regarding a player's grade.

Before taking over the Scarlet Knights in 2012, Flood had been an assistant coach since 2005. He had an overall record of 27-24 and a 12-19 conference mark, including a 4-12 record in the Big Ten. His contract ran through the 2018 campaign.

The coaching market is rather expansive this offseason, but Flood may be hard-pressed to find another shot at a head coaching position. He may need to prove his merit as an assistant again, given his turbulent Rutgers tenure.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

John Donovan Fired by Penn State: Latest Comments and Reaction

The Penn State Nittany Lions fired offensive coordinator and tight ends coach John Donovan Sunday, per Brent Yarina of BTN.com.

"I have tremendous respect for John and the work he has put in over the last five years," said Penn State head coach James Franklin, according to the report. "I wish him and his family nothing but the best in the future."

The news comes as little surprise, given the issues that have plagued the Nittany Lions offense this year. According to ESPN.com, the team ranks 108th in yards per game (344.3) and 100th in points per game (23.7).

Penn State has completely wasted what is likely to be Christian Hackenberg's final college season. The offensive line has allowed the ninth-most sacks (39) in the country.

Matt Lombardo of NJ Advance Media was happy to see Franklin take decisive action after a generally disappointing season:

CBS Sports' Tom Fornelli isn't so sure Donovan's departure will spur an offensive improvement, however.

Donovan was Franklin's offensive coordinator at Vanderbilt, and Chris Dokish of Panther's Prey noted how the Commodores were far from an offensive juggernaut as well:

Whoever replaces Donovan will have a difficult job next year, especially if Hackenberg leaves for the NFL.

The cupboard isn't completely bare. Leading rusher Saquon Barkley is a freshman, while the team's top two wideouts, Chris Godwin and DaeSean Hamilton, are both sophomores.

Still, breaking in a new quarterback is rarely an easy process, and the absence of a consistent passer would put the new coordinator at a major disadvantage.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Top Candidates to Replace Mark Richt at Georgia

"Black Sunday" is upon us, and it hit the red and black hard.

Georgia announced Sunday afternoon that Richt is out as Georgia's head coach following a 9-3 season and the absence of an SEC East title for the third straight season.

"Coach Richt and I met Sunday morning to discuss the status of our football program," athletic director Greg McGarity said in a statement, "and we mutually agreed that he would step down as head coach and would have the opportunity to accept other duties and responsibilities at UGA following the bowl game." 

Richt compiled a 145-51 record in 15 years in Athens, claimed two SEC titles and won the SEC East five times.

"I appreciate the opportunity of serving the University as well as considering any other options that may present themselves in the future," Richt said in the press release. 

Who will likely replace Richt in Athens? Our top candidates, based on fit, experience and style, are in this slideshow.


Begin Slideshow

Amway College Football Poll 2015: Week 14 Top 25 Rankings Announced

One team likely punched its ticket to the College Football Playoff this weekend, several teams assuredly saw their shot at the playoff go down the drain and four different teams control their own destiny with one game remaining for each. 

It's all happening.

But how do the coaches see the rankings heading into the conference title games? Below, we'll take a look at the coaches and Bleacher Report polls for Week 14, along with breaking down the week that was and taking a look ahead to the potential playoff participants.




On a day when college football could have been turned upside down with many of the top teams in the nation squaring off, something strange happened. The teams atop the rankings prevailed, and for once, there shouldn't be too much debate among the playoff committee this week. 

At the moment, the College Football Playoff picture looks pretty clear. Oklahoma, for starters, won the Big 12 crown and almost assuredly locked a place in the playoff with a convincing 58-23 win.

"You just figure if you're third and you go to a championship game away from home to the No. 9 team in the country and win by 30-some points, whatever it was, you would only move up, possibly, but you sure wouldn't move back," Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops said after the game, per ESPN.

It's hard to argue with him. Oklahoma finished its season with impressive wins over Baylor, TCU and Oklahoma State and looks like the best team in the nation at the moment. Stewart Mandel of Fox Sports doesn't think anybody will be excited to face the Sooners:

Oklahoma's playoff chances were also bolstered when Notre Dame lost to Stanford on Saturday, ruining its playoff chances and taking away one of the biggest threats to Oklahoma's postseason berth. Florida's loss to Florida State eliminated another potential playoff participant, though the Gators would've only had a shot if they beat Alabama in the SEC championship.

The Big Ten is easy to figure out, as Michigan State and Iowa will face off in a conference title game that will assuredly see the winner reach the playoff. 

The fate of Clemson and Alabama is fairly straightforward as well. After both schools won this week, each simply needs to win its conference title game to reach the playoff. 

But if one or both of those teams lose, things could get interesting. Even with a loss, Clemson could still make a case that it belongs in the playoff. Impressive wins over Notre Dame and Florida State highlight a solid resume. But the committee would have to decide if that was enough to keep the Tigers ranked ahead of a one-loss Ohio State team that stomped Michigan this past week. 

If Alabama loses to Florida, on the other hand, Ohio State would almost assuredly reach the playoff. Yes, if Iowa loses the Big Ten title game and finishes the season with one loss, it will also deserve consideration. But Ohio State was consistently ranked ahead of the Hawkeyes when both teams were undefeated, and you'd be hard-pressed to find many folks outside of Iowa who wouldn't pick the Buckeyes to win a head-to-head matchup between the teams.

In other words, we may yet have chaos in college football, namely if Clemson loses to North Carolina. But it's looking increasingly likely in a season full of madness that the four playoff teams could be decided with little to no drama at all. 

That would be a bit of an anticlimactic end to a wild regular season. But the bowl games and the playoff matchups themselves are always good for a few zany results, so fans of chaos still have plenty to look forward to. 


Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

SEC Championship 2015: Florida vs. Alabama Preview, Score Prediction

The Alabama Crimson Tide appear to be rolling to a second consecutive berth in the College Football Playoff. All that can deny coach Nick Saban's powerhouse from securing a spot in the Top Four is a stumble in the SEC Championship Game against the Florida Gators.

Florida did lose 27-2 to archrival Florida State on Saturday at The Swamp, but the Gators had already locked up the SEC East title. It's a matter of the Gators bouncing back and embracing their spoiler role against Alabama, who defeated Auburn in the Iron Bowl 29-13 to close out the regular season.

Check out the basic game information below, followed by a preview and final-score prediction for next Saturday's contest.



Florida vs. Alabama Preview

Tide running back Derrick Henry may well have locked up the Heisman Trophy with a 46-carry, 271-yard rushing performance versus Auburn.

Saban's remark after the game, per Rick Karle of FOX6, showed how determined the bruising ball-carrier was to deliver the goods:

But the question will be whether Henry can turn around and put forth a similar extraordinary effort to boost Alabama into the College Football Playoff. That's a lot of wear and tear even for a massive player like Henry to absorb.

The Gators will do all they can to key in on Henry and force Jake Coker to beat a magnificent Florida secondary with his arm. Based on the personnel the underdogs have in the secondary, Alabama isn't the worst matchup for coach Jim McElwain's bunch on paper.

Entering Saturday's action, Alabama and Florida ranked third and sixth respectively in total defense (h/t NCAA.com). Linebacker Reggie Ragland leads a stout Tide front seven the Gators may be hard-pressed to run on, while the Florida defensive backfield features a surefire first-round NFL draft pick in cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III.

Michael DiRocco of ESPN alluded to Florida's ineptitude on offense in its loss to the Seminoles and how starting quarterback Will Grier's suspension ultimately doomed the team:

As was announced by the Gators' official team Twitter account, star receiver Demarcus Robinson was suspended for the Florida State game. That largely limited what Florida could do in the passing game. Having Robinson back against the Tide may be the spark they need to mount an upset bid.

Much of the Gators' hopes rest on signal-caller Treon Harris, who had an awful outing versus FSU and figures to have an even stiffer test against the Tide.

Although Alabama's defense has struggled with dual-threat QBs in the past, Harris doesn't have the type of consistent accuracy to keep the Tide honest as a passer.

Even if Henry is a bit gassed from his heavy workload in the Iron Bowl, the Tide can turn to Kenyan Drake or Damien Harris to give their Heisman hopeful a break. Coker has proven fully capable of running the show as he's settled in under center throughout the year.

Provided Alabama can limit Robinson's impact and force Harris into obvious passing situations, it should have little trouble disposing of the outmatched Gators at the Georgia Dome. Saturday figures to be yet another demonstration of the giant Saban has constructed in Tuscaloosa as the Tide ensures a spot in the CFP picture with a convincing win.

Prediction: Alabama 34, Florida 10

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Power Ranking Top Freshmen from November

Remember when all those little freshmen college football players were running around out on the field, not fully knowing what they were doing? They grow up so fast, y'all. 

With November nearly in the rearview mirror, the first-year players we saw in September have grown into some great college football players. It's been fun to watch these players develop, knowing their best days are still ahead of them. 

With that in mind, it's time to power rank the top freshmen in college football from the month of November. More weight was given to specific stats/performances over the last four weeks, but overall season numbers were considered as well.

Since the Football Bowl Subdivision is nearly 130 teams strong, we realize we've probably missed some under-the-radar guys. Feel free to share your standout frosh in the comments section below.

Begin Slideshow

Mark Richt Fired by Georgia: Latest Details, Comments and Reaction

After 15 seasons, Mark Richt, who received a contract extension through 2019 in January, is out as Georgia's head football coach.

The program confirmed that Richt and the school "mutually agreed" to part ways, via Dan Wolken of USA Today. ESPN.com's Mark Schlabach and Fox Sports' Bruce Feldman first reported the decision on Sunday.

He was let go following a 2015 campaign that saw the Bulldogs disappoint on both sides of the ball despite winning five of the final six games to finish with a 9-3 record.

They went through a midseason stretch during which they scored 10 or fewer points in three of four contests and saw near-constant rumors about the status of defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt.

“This staff that is over there today—and I am going to be very kind about it—it is not functioning properly,” former Georgia quarterback and NFL legend Fran Tarkenton said in November on WCNN 680 The Fan’s Chuck and Chernoff show (h/t Marc Weiszer of the Athens Banner-Herald). “I think the culture there of the staff is not functioning properly. As we all know Mark Richt is a good, fine, wonderful person. I think there are things going on inside of his staff that are unsavory."

Richt's decision to hire Brian Schottenheimer as his offensive coordinator is what drew the most criticism. Schottenheimer had previously served as the offensive coordinator for the New York Jets and St. Louis Rams but had never produced an elite attack.

The Bulldogs under Schottenheimer saw their offense get off to a red-hot start before regressing once the SEC schedule began.

Richt, 55, took over at Georgia in 2001 after a decade as an offensive assistant at Florida State. The Bulldogs went 145-51 in his tenure, finishing inside the season-ending Top 10 on seven occasions, including just a year ago. They won two Sugar Bowls during his time as head coach and wound up second in the final Associated Press Top 25 poll in 2007.

Add in a pair of conference championships, and Richt has a claim as the best coach in program history.

However, in addition to the on-field struggles in 2015, there has also been an increase in off-field trouble. Richt's handle over his players has been a source of hand-wringing for years, perhaps cresting amid a sea of arrests before the 2014 season.

Few have ever questioned how Richt handled himself—he's been a model university representative since his arrival—but the combination of problems led to some wanting him nudged out the door.

It appears university officials agreed. Now it'll be up to the athletic department to find someone who can bring a national championship to Athens. Looking back on Richt's tenure, that's the only thing that would separate him from his replacement.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

CFP Bowl Projections: Predicting Playoff, New Year's Six Games

With just two more rankings to be released by the College Football Playoff committee, the sport is inching ever closer to finding out who will be playing in some of its biggest bowl games, including the national semifinals. 

Before the bowl games are set, there are still some conference championship games that need to play out, which include some teams slated in the Top Four. 

Here are my predictions as to who will be playing in the playoff as well as the New Year's Six bowl games. 

Oklahoma has all but clinched its spot in the Top Four, having won the Big 12 after defeating Oklahoma State. But they are the only ones who don't have a conference championship game that could derail their playoff hopes. 

No. 1 Clemson will face No. 14 North Carolina, who has won 11 straight games, in the ACC Championship Game, while No. 2 Alabama has No. 10 Florida. The Gators mustered only two points against Florida State and will have a difficult time against the Crimson Tide. 

Finally, the Big Ten Championship Game pits No. 4 Iowa against No. 5 Michigan State, and the winner of that game will round out the Top Four. Since Michigan State has played the tougher schedule and has more big-game experience, I'm taking the Spartans. 

In the other four bowl games, Iowa's loss to Michigan State should put them in the Rose Bowl. They would meet the winner of USC and Stanford. Somehow after a tumultuous season, the Trojans are on the cusp of winning the Pac-12, but Stanford is dynamic with Christian McCaffery. 

After Florida's loss to Florida State and a possible loss to Alabama in the SEC Championship Game, the Gators might not be viewed as the SEC's second-best team for the Sugar Bowl. 

This would leave the door open for Ole Miss, who took down No. 21 Mississippi State in convincing fashion to slot in place to take on Oklahoma State. 

With the Fiesta and Peach Bowl for at-large teams, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Florida State and Houston seem like the top choices. 

The next few weeks will help paint a better picture of which school will be playing where, but one thing is for certain: College football is not done gripping and thrilling the nation. 

Stats courtesy of ESPN.com

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

College Football Playoff 2015: Fresh Predictions Following Week 13 Results

College football's regular season is all but over after a gripping Week 13 that saw the College Football Playoff picture become a bit clearer. 

With two more rankings set to be released by the CFP committee, some teams have seen their playoff hopes go up in smoke while others are on a collision course with New Year's Eve games. 

Now with conference championship games left to play, here is a prediction of who the Top Four teams will be when the committee releases its final rankings. 


No. 1: Clemson

Clemson has been the No. 1 team since the first CFP rankings were released and have done little to deserve a drop from that status. 

As one of just two undefeated teams left in the nation (No. 4 Iowa is the other), Clemson has just one more hurdle before solidifying its spot in the playoff and that's the ACC championship game against North Carolina. 

The No. 14 Tar Heels have been one of the hottest teams in the nation, winning 11-straight games after losing their opener to South Carolina. 

A win against the Tar Heels should be all the committee needs to put the Tigers at No. 1. 


No. 2: Alabama

If Alabama had not lost to Ole Miss, it would be No. 1. But a one-loss team shouldn't be No. 1 if there's an undefeated team in the mix. 

However, ESPN's Paul Finebaum thinks otherwise:

The Crimson Tide have a stellar mixture of a top-five defense along with an offense spearheaded by one of the top running backs in the nation with Derrick Henry. 

With Alabama facing the Florida Gators, who have been struggling offensively as of late, it should have an easy go at the SEC championship game. 


No. 3: Oklahoma

A win over Oklahoma State won the Sooners the Big 12 Conference and all but punched their ticket into the playoff. 

With no conference championship game, they have a clear path. 

Three-straight wins over ranked opponents in TCU, Baylor and Oklahoma State is going to boost its resume enough in that it would be near impossible to keep the team out of the playoff. It's been quite a turnaround compared to 2014 as ESPN Stats & Info pointed out:

A top-10 offense and a top-25 defense will certainly make noise come January. 


No. 4: Michigan State

The fourth spot in the playoff is going to come down to whichever team wins the Big 10. A spot that was reserved for Ohio State for most of the season went to the Spartans after their win over the Buckeyes. 

Having already defeated one undefeated team, Michigan State has another in No. 4 Iowa in the Big 10 championship game. 

Head coach Mark Dantonio told USA Today Sports' Nicole Auerbach that he believes the team is getting hot at the right time:

We're playing our best football down the stretch, and if you look and compare us to last year's Big Ten champion, that's what they were able to do. Even though we lost to Nebraska, we knew we were still in control. We had to win it — if we were going to win it, it wasn't going to be given to us. We had to play this football game and take it as opposed to playing cautious and standing back and saying, 'I hope we don't lose.' We had to play this game to win. That's the mentality our guys went out with.

This will be Iowa's first true test of the season. After weeks of hearing it has had a cupcake schedule for most of the season, the pressure of playing for the conference against a team that has had big-game experience might prove too much. 


Stats courtesy of ESPN.com

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Mike London Resigns as Virginia HC: Latest Details, Comments and Reaction

Mike London's disappointing six-year run at Virginia is over, as University of Virginia director of athletics Craig Littlepage announced London's resignation Sunday after the Cavaliers finished the 2015 campaign 4-8:

Mike London has been an outstanding representative of the University of Virginia. During his tenure, Mike created a positive culture for our student-athletes to develop as young men, who improved each year in the classroom and represented us very well in the community. Mike was a tremendous mentor for his players and many of our coaches. His ability to inspire others helped our program establish great relationships among the high school football coaches in the state and he has been a tremendous ambassador for the University. We are thankful for Mike’s numerous contributions representing the University and Virginia athletics.

London, 55, was 27-46 during his tenure. He was under contract through the 2016 season. Virginia will immediately begin a search for a new head coach who will be tasked with resuscitating a moribund program.

London released a statement following the decision:

I appreciate the opportunity to have been the head football coach at the University of Virginia and for the relationships that have been formed during my time in Charlottesville that will last for years to come. I took this job to make a profound difference in the lives of young men and to re-establish Virginia football as one of the best programs in the ACC. While we were successful in the development of our players in many areas, I would have liked to have won more games for the student-athletes, coaches, fans and everyone that’s a part of the University of Virginia.

Hired after winning one FCS championship and nearly another at Richmond, London failed to make the FBS transition. He improved the team each of his first two seasons, peaking with a surprise 8-5 campaign in 2011, but failed to develop his own talent. The Cavaliers regressed in his next two seasons, reaching a nadir during an ugly 2-10 campaign in 2013.

Despite near-constant calls from alumni and fans to make a change, London remained, with the program showing no real sign of life. The Cavaliers reached a bowl game only once in his tenure and closed out with a particularly ugly 2015. 

“The goal is to win football games. We all get it. I get it. That’s what it’s all about," London said in October, per Tim Pearrell of the Times-Dispatch. "But there’s no quit in this team. There’s a tremendous amount of fight. Again, I would ask you guys to ask (the players). Coaches can sit up here and talk about how things are going, and it’s important that you get the message from the players because the message is no one’s quit on them.”

Virginia will now open up a coaching search for a job without much appeal to big names. The team hasn't won a bowl game since the 2005 Music City Bowl and has appeared in only two bowls over the last decade. While the school's basketball program has become one of the pre-eminent programs in the nation, it's going to take one heck of a rebuilding job from London's replacement for the same to happen on the gridiron. 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Big Ten Championship Game 2015: Preview, Prediction for Michigan State vs. Iowa

The Big Ten title is on the line when once-beaten Michigan State (11-1) faces undefeated Iowa (12-0) Saturday in the conference's championship game, but that's not the only prize that is up for grabs.

When the two teams meet at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, they will also be competing for a likely spot in the second edition of the College Football Playoff.


Date: Saturday, Dec. 5

Kickoff Time (ET):  8:17 p.m.

Location: Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis

TV: Fox

Live Stream: Fox Sports Go


Nothing is guaranteed to the winner, but Iowa is the fourth-ranked team in the current rankings and Michigan State is fifth. Since Big Ten representative Ohio State won the first national championship during the playoff era, it seems almost certain that a qualified Big Ten representative will get a chance to enter the fray once again. 

Both Michigan State and Iowa are qualified.

The Spartans and head coach Mark Dantonio were highly thought of prior to the start of the season, and they validated the faith their supporters had in them when they defeated Oregon in September. They also had season-defining wins at Michigan and Ohio State before clinching the Big Ten East division with a 55-16 win against Penn State.

Their only loss was a head-slapping defeat at Nebraska.

Iowa was just another team at the start of the season, and few expected the Hawkeyes to win the Big Ten West, let alone do it in undefeated fashion. Iowa did not face the same kind of challenging schedule as the Spartans, but it did beat Pittsburgh, Wisconsin and Northwestern.

Iowa beats Nebraska 28-20, stands a win away from a playoff spot https://t.co/vnOeU8LtbEpic.twitter.com/04ZsNjzWP7

— CBS Sports CFB (@CBSSportsCFB) November 28, 2015

Michigan State has an explosive offense led by senior quarterback Connor Cook, who injured his shoulder late in the season and could not play in the upset win at Ohio State. However, he returned to play against Penn State in the final regular-season game, and he was on target as he completed 19 of 26 passes for 248 yards with three TDs and no interceptions

Cook has completed 194 of 337 passes for 2,730 yards with 24 TD passes and just four interceptions for the season. Cook is one of the most highly ranked quarterbacks in college football and appears to have an excellent chance to be selected in one of the first two rounds of next year's draft.

Connor Cook is now MSU's all-time leader in total offense. Just passed Kirk Cousins.

— Joe Rexrode (@joerexrode) November 28, 2015

He has an excellent crew of receivers in Aaron Burbridge, Macgarrett Kings and R.J. Shelton. Burbridge is the home run hitter of the group after catching 75 passes for 1,158 yards and seven touchdowns. Burbridge's best characteristic is his ability to make the clutch catch in traffic. He also excels at picking up yards after the catch.

L.J. Scott and Gerald Holmes give the Spartans a competent ground game. The two have combined for 1,139 yards and 18 touchdowns.

The Hawkeyes don't have the big-name stars as some of the more highly ranked teams, but quarterback C.J. Beathard is an impressive leader who completed more than 60 percent of his passes this year.

Beathard has completed 184 of 303 passes for 2,354 yards with 14 TDs and three interceptions. He has shown excellent leadership ability and has remained focused for 12 games.

The Hawks feature a productive running game, featuring the explosive Jordan Canzeri. He has carried the ball 176 times for 964 yards and 12 touchdowns, and he has shown he can hit the home run on occasion. Fellow running backs LeShun Daniels Jr. and Akrum Wadley have also been productive.

Matt VandeBerg is Iowa's best receiver with 59 catches for 625 yards and three touchdowns.


Prediction: Michigan State 38, Iowa 27

The Spartans simply have too many offensive weapons and have been there before. Their signature wins over Oregon, Michigan and Ohio State should provide the confidence needed to win the Big Ten title game and earn a spot in the College Football Playoffs.



Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

NCAA Football Rankings 2015: Predicting Week 14 AP Poll Post-Week 13 Results

We're just one week away from college football's bowl selection weekend, and much has yet to be decided. 

Week 13 provided some dramatic shakeup, with four of the AP Top 10 teams suffering losses. 

While the top of the poll will remain relatively unchanged, positions five through 10 will look dramatically different in Week 14. 

The following is a prediction of what the AP poll will look like when released on Sunday afternoon. 


Notable Teams


The Hawkeyes wrapped up a perfect regular season with a 28-20 victory over Nebraska on Friday and are now one win away from their first outright Big Ten title since 1985

Despite ongoing criticism of Iowa's schedule, the Hawkeyes have steadily risen in the rankings and now appear to be in position to either advance to the playoffs or earn an invitation to one of the New Year's Six bowl games. 

While Iowa fans would undoubtedly be disappointed by a loss in the Big Ten title game against Michigan State, the possibility of a Rose Bowl berth would still be an exciting finish to one of the most memorable seasons in school history. 

Iowa hasn't represented the Big Ten in the Rose Bowl since 1990 and hasn't won the game since 1958. 

Assuming the Big Ten champion is selected to the playoffs, the committee will select the next-highest-ranked Big Ten team to replace them in the Rose Bowl. That team will either be Ohio State or the loser of the Big Ten title game.


Ohio State

Buckeyes fans hoped for more from this season, but another dominant victory over Michigan—their 13th in the last 15 seasons—eases their pain. 

While Ohio State is likely headed to one of the New Year's Six bowl games, it's worth noting that the final nail hasn't quite been hammered into the Buckeyes' playoff coffin just yet. 

There are multiple chaos scenarios, but the most simplistic would be for USC to upset Stanford in the Pac-12 Championship Game and Florida to knock off Alabama in the SEC title game. 

Those two upsets would likely eliminate the SEC and Pac-12 from playoff conversation, opening up a spot for another one-loss team from the Big Ten or Big 12. 

If the final weekend passes without any major upsets, Ohio State would likely represent the Big Ten in the Rose Bowl.


North Carolina

The Tar Heels have been the forgotten team in the playoff discussion this year, seemingly disrespected by the committee as the lowest-ranked one-loss team from a Power Five school. 

But Larry Fedora's squad finally has its chance to earn the respect it's been craving. 

With its first ACC Coastal Division championship in school history, the Tar Heels will face Clemson in the conference title game on Saturday. 

The Tar Heels will be seeking their first ACC title since 1980, when head coach Dick Crum led them to an 11-1 season. 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

ACC Championship Game 2015: Early Preview, Predictions for UNC vs. Clemson

For the Clemson Tigers, it's about a spot in the Final Four.

The North Carolina Tar Heels are trying to play spoiler.

The last hurdle standing in Clemson's way from a spot in the College Football Playoff and a chance to play for a national championship is a talented North Carolina squad that has ran the table since its opening week stumble against the South Carolina Gamecocks.

Clemson hasn't won an ACC Championship since 2011. It's been 35 years since the Tar Heels were crowned kings of the ACC. Let's preview the 2015 ACC Championship Game.


Clemson vs. North Carolina: How To Watch

Where: Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, North Carolina

When: Saturday, Dec. 5

Time: 7:45 p.m. ET or 8 p.m. ET



What's on the line for Clemson?

The obvious answer is the No. 1 seed in the College Football Playoff, but there's much more at stake for Clemson.

The Tigers are looking to continue their push to their first undefeated season since 1981, when they went 12-0 and won the national championship. Deshaun Watson could use one more stellar performance to sway Heisman voters his way, and a great game against a North Carolina defense that allows only 19.5 points per game would be a good start.

There's also a possible $500,000 bonus in Dabo Swinney's future if he gets the Tigers to the College Football Playoff. 


What's on the line for North Carolina?

The Tar Heels have not won an ACC Championship since Jimmy Carter was in office. A win would mean their first 11-win season since 1997 when Mack Brown was the head coach.

An upset win over the No. 1-ranked Tigers would also mean bowl season gets flipped upside down. Clemson more than likely gets knocked out of the Final Four, and quite possibly, out of a Selection Committee Bowl. That would be a long shot, but an even longer shot would be two ACC teams playing in a Committee game.

If North Carolina wins, the Peach Bowl may be the likeliest destination. However, thanks to Notre Dame losing to Stanford, a win for the Tar Heels could open the door for a huge jump in the CFP rankings, as Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports noted:

As for Clemson, who knows where they would end up?


Key Matchup

This game is going to come down to Deshaun Watson cracking the code that is North Carolina's defense. 

If Watson can have one more efficient, impressive match against a very game Tar Heels team, his Heisman consideration has to go up. But, by all accounts, Watson is already getting some Heisman love, like from NBC Sports' Ross Tucker, for example:

The one way that Watson can attack this North Carolina defense is with the big play. Pro Football Focus' Gordon McGuinness noted that Watson is 13-of-31 on passes further than 20 yards with seven touchdowns. He's completed 79.5 percent of his passes over the last month, in which he's continued to evolve into one of the best quarterbacks in the country, per McGuinness:

Now, with a bit more experience under his belt, we’ve seen Watson transform from a player who was a solid young quarterback with a lot of potential, into one of the best quarterbacks in the country. His big arm is powering the Clemson offense towards a potential national championship this season, and with the Heisman race still wide open there’s every chance that there’s an individual award in Watson’s future too.

Watson also showed that he's capable of making the big play when it counts, even though the South Carolina Gamecocks have been anything but great this season. A rivalry game needed someone to take over and make the game-deciding plays, and that's what Watson did, per freelance journalist David Ubben:

North Carolina's offense may be able to match Clemson point-for-point, but there's more pressure on Clemson to perform because of what's at stake.



This is going to be the most entertaining game on the conference championship schedule. It seems like this would be the time for a Top 4 upset, and North Carolina pulling out the win.

But Clemson is at this point for a reason. The Tigers are good. Watson should be the leader in the Heisman race, but that's not the case. One big performance against North Carolina would make that a reality.

Clemson wins, in a nail biter, and it will enter the playoffs with the No. 1 seed.

Score: Clemson 27, North Carolina 24

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Pac 12 Championship Game 2015: Early Preview, Predictions for Stanford vs. USC

The Pac-12 may be eliminated from the College Football Playoff party, but there's still plenty on the line when USC (8-4) and Stanford (10-2) meet on Dec. 5 to determine the conference champion. 

For Stanford, it's the opportunity to claim dominance over the conference. A win in this game would give the Cardinal three of the last four conference championships with a Pac-12 title game appearance in all but one of David Shaw's five seasons as head coach. 

For USC, this is an opportunity to officially announce the return of the Trojans as the top team in the conference. The Men of Troy haven't won a conference title since 2008—a long stretch for a program with the most conference championships with 21 (UCLA is second with 17). 

Then, of course, there's the matter of the Rose Bowl—you know, one of college football's most historic bowl games and the top destination for any Pac-12 team that isn't playing for national title. 

The winner gets to represent the conference in the Rose Bowl, while the other team most likely goes to the Foster Farms Bowl. So there's that. 

Here's a look at how these two teams match up for this championship rematch. 


This Will Be a Shootout...Again

The first time these two schools met this season, they gave the scoreboard operator arthritis. They combined for 72 points, 46 first downs and 901 total yards. This time, it could be even more electric. 

The defensive woes for both teams portended struggles for the rest of the season. Those struggles have come to fruition. Stanford is 60th in the country in yards allowed per play (5.48), while USC is even worse at No. 79 (5.69). 

The offenses—on the other hand—are still dynamic. 

USC is 20th in offensive yards per play (6.55), while Stanford is 22nd in that metric (6.48). 

What that spells is a game that's going to see plenty of points as neither defense is adept at lining it up and getting stops. Both defenses will need some turnovers to put in a good performance. 


USC Will Run for More than 155 Yards This Time

When the Trojans lost 41-31 to the Cardinal the first time around, they ran the ball 28 times for 155 yards. That's not bad, but it wasn't enough to control the game. 

In their most recent game against UCLA, they ran the ball 59 times for 235 yards. Now that's inflicting some game control on the opposition. 

Conversely, the Stanford run defense appears to be showing some cracks as the season progresses. In Stanford's loss to Oregon two weeks ago, it allowed 231 rushing yards on 36 carries. 

As Notre Dame Football noted, the Irish only needed three quarters to best that number. They finished with 299 on 35 carries. 

It would be shocking if the Trojans didn't come out and try to utilize Ronald Jones and Justin Davis to establish the run game early and often. 


Stanford Will Win a Close One

Even though it shows up as a 10-point win on the schedule, it isn't as though Stanford dominated the first game between these two from start to finish. The Cardinal only took a three-point lead into the fourth quarter, before a 46-yard field goal with a little under seven minutes left gave us the 41-31 final score. 

After that game, Shaw attributed his team's big-game experience for the win. 

"Our guys are used to playing in big games," Shaw said, according to ESPN.com. "We need to act like it."

Fast-forward through eight more wins and a heart-breaking loss to Oregon, and Shaw is still preaching a message of belief to his team. 

“Our big thing that we talked about earlier today was belief,’’ Shaw said, according to Jon Wilner of the Bay Area News Group. “Belief in the work we put in, belief in our preparation, belief in our struggles—belief that our struggles helped us to be a better team."

In this big game, Stanford has two things going for it. First, it has the best player in the game. Christian McCaffrey reached rarefied company against Notre Dame, per ESPN Stats & Info:

Second, the Cardinal have been in this spot more recently than USC as a program. Shaw has done a tremendous job of carrying the momentum that Jim Harbaugh created to the next level. 

With the game on the line in a shootout, Stanford is the more trustworthy team. The belief that Shaw has instilled in his team was on full display against Notre Dame and will carry through right into the championship game. 

Prediction: Stanford 45, USC 38


Statistics are courtesy of cfbstats.com.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Pac 12 Championship Game 2015: Early Preview, Predictions for Stanford vs. USC

The Pac-12 may be eliminated from the College Football Playoff party, but there's still plenty on the line when USC (8-4) and Stanford (10-2) meet on Dec. 5 to determine the conference champion...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

SEC Championship Game 2015: Early Preview, Predictions for Alabama vs. Florida

The SEC carries with it a reputation for great defense. 

That's why it's no surprise that it will be the Florida Gators and the Alabama Crimson Tide playing in the conference's 2015 championship game.

Regardless of what metric you like to use to judge defenses, these two squads are at or near the top of the list. Regardless of what both teams have done on the offensive side of the ball, both teams have defenses that have carried them to double-digit win seasons. 

Now, they'll see which team can declare Southeastern supremacy and a possible spot in the College Football Playoff. Here are some predictions for how this game will play out in Atlanta. 


Points Will Be Hard to Come By

If you're a fan of offensive football, this might be a good time to take a walk, do the crossword or watch some basketball. This has all the makings of a slugfest. 

As previously mentioned, these defenses have both played at extremely high levels all season. Here's how they match up in metrics like Football Outsiders' FEI and S&P+ along with more traditional stats:

The proficiency of Alabama's defense is especially troubling news for the Gators. Treon Harris and Co. aren't exactly dynamic on offense. They're ranked 12th in the conference in yards per play at just 5.09 in SEC play. 

With the Tide's defense being the best among the units they've played thus far, a Gator touchdown will be a rare sight. If it even occurs at all. 


Derrick Henry Will Still Go over 150 Yards

The Gators defense will be the most talented defense the Tide have seen. But if there's one offensive player to bet on in this game despite the difficult matchup, it's Derrick Henry. 

No one is playing better than Henry right now. His 200-yard performance against Auburn marked his fourth on the season and set multiple SEC records, as noted by the conference's Twitter account:

Helping Henry's case is that if there's a way to beat Florida's defense, it's to run right at it. Here's a look at how Florida has fared against teams who were committed to running right at them this season:

It won't be easy sledding for Henry, but a big game is still in his reach. Tennessee nearly upset Florida earlier in the season with a strong rushing attack. LSU's Leonard Fournette had a nice outing against the Gators. He led the Tigers to a 35-28 win on the strength of his 31 carries, 180 yards and two rushing touchdowns.  

Given Henry's 46 carries against Auburn, Nick Saban isn't afraid to let his workhorse carry the load. Saban explained his philosophy on giving him the ball that many times in one game, per RollTide.com:

We'd really like for someone else to run the ball, but it got tough to take him out and he seemed to get stronger as the game goes on. It's hard to take him out at the end of the game. He's the go-to guy and he didn't want to come out. He wanted to go and said that he could, and certainly finished the game like we needed to today. My hat is off to him as a competitor, and he really inspires everybody on our team in the way he competes, plays and the toughness that he runs with. What a spirit.

Expect one more Heisman-worthy performance from the big fella against the Gators. 


Neither Quarterback Will Go over 150 Yards Passing

The Crimson Tide will need Henry to carry the offense. This won't be a game for quarterbacks to enjoy much success. 

Jacob Coker has been the prototypical Alabama quarterback to this point this season. His numbers aren't gaudy. He's thrown for 2,106 yards with 14 touchdowns. However, he takes care of the ball and makes plays when Alabama needs them. 

Against Florida, that will be a little more difficult. 

Coker is completing 65 percent of his passes this season. The only teams who hit that mark against Florida this season were Mississippi State with Dak Prescott and East Carolina way back in September. 

Harris isn't likely to find much success in the air as Coker's counterpart. The Tide's pass defense is on par with the Gators', and Harris isn't nearly as prolific as Coker to begin with. In four November games, Harris is 58-of-112 (51.7 percent) with three touchdowns and four interceptions. 

That isn't going to breed much confidence for an anemic Gator passing game going forward. 


Alabama Will Punch Its Ticket to the College Football Playoff

Breaking down these two teams, this game comes down to a simple truth: Alabama is more complete than Florida at this point. 

The Tide might not be the most dynamic team on offense, but by virtue of having an offense, they are more qualified to win a football game. Jim McElwain should be praised for winning the SEC East in his first season as coach of the Gators, but there's still work to be done before they can win the conference. 

This should be a positive experience for his program to be involved in this game, but it would take some true chaos for Florida to pull off the upset. 

A win for Alabama—which came in at No. 2 in the College Football Playoff Committee's last rankings—will set them up to once again play in college football's Final Four. 

Prediction: Alabama 27, Florida 3


Statistics are courtesy of cfbstats.com.


Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

SEC Football: Best Performances from Week 13

It seems like only yesterday that the assembled members of the media gathered in Hoover, Alabama, for media days, and here we are in late November with rivalry week in the books.

During the final weekend of the regular season, one star running back made his Heisman Trophy case, another wrapped up his regular season in style and bragging rights were earned throughout the region.

Who had the best performances of Week 13?

Our picks based on statistical output, importance to the outcome of games and individual effort are in this slideshow.

Begin Slideshow

Alabama vs. Florida: Predictions for SEC Championship Game 2015

The Florida Gators will limp into the SEC Championship Game on Saturday, December 5 against the Alabama Crimson Tide, and they'll be battered again in what will prove to be a lopsided contest.

On Saturday, the Gators were completely stifled by the Florida State Seminoles in a 27-2 defeat. The Gators offense is averaging just 13.75 points per game in its last four contests. There's plenty of reasons the offense is struggling, but like any football team that struggles to score points, the quarterback will shoulder much of the blame.

Florida signal-caller Treon Harris is getting his share of criticism. Thomas Goldkamp of 247Sports talked about the sophomore's inability to read and react to during the team's loss to the Seminoles on Saturday night:

This is not a good look heading into a battle with Alabama.

The Crimson Tide pounded the Auburn Tigers 29-13 on Saturday behind a relentless rushing attack. Running back Derrick Henry ran the ball a school-record 46 times for 271 yards. Meanwhile, Alabama's defense continued its stellar play of late.

Over the last three games, Bama has allowed a combined 25 points to its opponents.

When you match that level of play on the defensive side of the ball against Florida's struggles to score, it's not hard to see which team will have the huge advantage. 

In order for Florida to pull off the improbable win, they will first have to find a way to slow down Alabama's run game. That may not be the toughest task the Gators face. The strength of their team is the defense.

That said, even a defense as good as Florida's will break down if the offense is constantly going three-and-out with their possessions. Therein lies Florida's problem. 

It's difficult to see Harris making enough plays to keep drives going. If he can have the game of his short collegiate career, he'll give the defense the blow it needs to keep the game close. 

Without this improbable scenario, this game could get ugly at halftime. Look for Alabama to win by three touchdowns as it marches into the College Football Playoff as the first or second seed.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Bowl Predictions 2015: Projections for College Football Playoff

The college football regular season has wrapped up for the elite teams in playoff contention, but much has yet to be decided. 

The top teams in the rankings all held serve on Saturday, setting up multiple win-and-you're-in scenarios for the conference championship games. 

Even though the scenarios appear to be fairly basic for the teams below, the wild world of college football likely has an upset or two in store for us in the final weekend. 

Based on the current standings and the championship game matchups, here's a look at the projected College Football Playoff seeds.


1. Clemson 

Rival South Carolina gave the Tigers a scare on Saturday, but Clemson was able to hold on 37-32.

While it wasn't the Tigers' most impressive victory of the season, as the only potential undefeated conference champ, Clemson remains the heavy favorite to earn the No. 1 seed in the College Football Playoff. 

The Tigers' final test will come on Saturday in the ACC Championship Game against North Carolina. 

While Clemson is certainly the favorite, the Tar Heels might provide the Clemson defense with its toughest challenge of the season. 

Tar Heels' quarterback Marquise Williams has been red hot over the last month, accounting for 14 touchdowns while throwing just one interception in North Carolina's last five games

In 2014, Williams threw for 345 yards and four touchdowns against the Tigers in 50-35 Clemson victory

Given the way both offenses have been clicking this season, another shootout on Saturday is a strong possibility.


2. Alabama

Nick Saban continues to ride the Derrick Henry train, and he appears to have the Tide rolling into the playoff. 

Auburn managed to keep it close in the Iron Bowl, but with a whopping 46 carries and 271 yards, Henry eventually wore down the Tigers defense. 

With a victory over Florida in the SEC Championship Game, Alabama will wrap up no worse than the No. 2 seed in the playoff. If Clemson were to lose, the Tide would likely rise to No. 1. 

While anything can happen in college football, it's difficult to envision a scenario in which Henry doesn't continue his torrid streak and carry Alabama past Florida. 

The Gators have narrowly escaped with victories against lowly Vanderbilt and Florida Atlantic in recent weeks and appear to be limping into the SEC title game after a blowout loss at the hands of Florida State. 


3. Michigan State

After knocking off Ohio State without starting quarterback Connor Cook and dominating Penn State to wrap up the season, the Spartans should be considered the Big Ten favorites heading into the conference title game against Iowa. 

While Iowa will likely occupy a Top Four spot in this week's rankings, the Spartans will jump into playoff position with a victory over the Hawkeyes. 

Michigan State's loss to Nebraska in early November may end up being a worse loss than some of the one-loss teams behind the Spartans. However, last year the committee emphasized the way in which teams close out the season by selecting Ohio State as the No. 4 seed. 

Like Michigan State, the Buckeyes had a confusing loss (to Virginia Tech), but after blowing out Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship Game, the Buckeyes had built enough momentum to sneak in. 

The Spartans will be in a similar position with a win over Iowa and are a safe bet to advance to the playoff with a victory.


4. Oklahoma

The selection committee left the Big 12 out of the inaugural playoff in 2014, but the lack of an undisputed conference champion appeared to play a role in that decision. 

This season, the committee can't use that as an excuse to snub the Big 12. 

By defeating Oklahoma State in the Bedlam Series, the Sooners are the undisputed Big 12 champs as the lone one-loss team in the conference. 

Based on this fact, we'll now learn just how much the committee values conference championship games. 

If Oklahoma were unexpectedly left out of the playoff, the committee would be sending a strong message to the Big 12 that it must expand in order to earn serious consideration for playoff bid. 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Ed Feng's Week 14 College Football Playoff Standings Predictions

How will the College Football Playoff selection committee rank teams Tuesday?

We use analytics to make an educated guess. My algorithm starts with the previous week's committee rankings and adjusts teams based on their most recent opponent and margin of victory.

Teams that win keep their place unless they barely squeak by a three-win South Carolina team. Teams that lose drop—but not much if they lose to a Top 10 team. You get the idea.

Let's look at the most important movers from Week 13.


Oklahoma locks down playoff spot with dominant Bedlam win

At the beginning of the second quarter, Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield knocked over an Oklahoma State defender to help spring Joe Mixon on a 66-yard touchdown run. It was that kind of day for the Cowboys, as the Sooners stormed to a 44-20 halftime lead en route to a 58-23 win.

Oklahoma dominated the game on the ground, rushing for 344 yards on 8.2 yards per carry. That's an insane rate, considering that the Sooners ran on 62.7 percent of their plays.

Oklahoma stays at third in my projection of the committee rankings. Unlike years past, the lack of a Big 12 championship game helps the conference this season. In 2014, neither TCU nor Baylor had a final chance to impress the committee during championship week. In the Sooners' case, they have no chance to lose ground because of an unexpected loss, which will make it difficult, if not impossible, for the committee to drop the Big 12 champion out of the top four this season.


Stanford beats Notre Dame to stay on playoff life support

Notre Dame looked poised for a big win over Stanford after quarterback DeShone Kizer's touchdown run with 30 seconds left in the fourth quarter gave the Irish a one-point lead. Unfortunately, they left too much time on the clock.

Quarterback Kevin Hogan led the Cardinal on a five-play, 45-yard drive, which culminated in Conrad Ukropina's 45-yard field for a signature 38-36 win.

With the victory, Stanford moves to seventh in the committee rankings, one spot behind Ohio State. The Cardinal play USC in the Pac-12 Championship Game next week, and a win could push them past the idle Buckeyes. Stanford, however, still needs other teams—namely Clemson and Alabama—to lose next weekend to make the playoff.

Notre Dame is no longer in contention for the playoff, but the Fighting Irish had a terrific 10-2 campaign despite a rash of season-ending injuries. They will most likely get a New Year's Six bowl as a consolation prize.


Baylor, Florida eliminated from playoff contention

In addition to Notre Dame, two other teams had their playoff dreams go up in smoke this weekend.

Up until Friday night, Baylor had survived season-ending injuries to two quarterbacks. Art Briles looked like a genius, as third-string quarterback Chris Johnson threw two long touchdown passes in a victory over Oklahoma State last week. However, the moment—and the weather—proved to be too much for Johnson against TCU on a cold, rainy night in Fort Worth, Texas. In the second half and two overtime periods, Johnson completed only one of his 11 passes, and the Bears lost to the Horned Frogs 28-21.

Florida's playoff hopes also ended this weekend with a 27-2 loss to rival Florida State. The Gators defense allowed Dalvin Cook to run for 183 yards and two touchdowns on seven yards per carry. However, the defense wasn't Florida's problem this season. The offense is what held this team back. It rushed for 3.6 yards per carry, an awful 117th in the nation. While the Gators still have the SEC Championship Game and a bowl game to compete in, first-year coach Jim McElwain has a clear route to improvement for next season.

With their losses, Baylor and Florida drop to 11th and 22nd, respectively, in my projected committee rankings.


Ed Feng has a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from Stanford and runs the sports analytics site The Power Rank. You can find him on Twitter @thepowerrank.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com