Feed aggregator

Which Dark-Horse Contender Has the Best Shot at the College Football Playoff?

Bleacher Report's college football analysts Michael Felder, Barrett Sallee and Adam Kramer discuss who they believe could sneak their way into the 2015 College Football Playoff.

Which team do you think has what it takes? Watch the video, and let us know!

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Preseason College Football Rankings 2015: Underrated Teams in 1st Coaches Poll

While the 2015 college football season opens with one overwhelming favorite, last year showed there is always room for surprises.  

Ohio State was a controversial final addition to the four-team playoff before shocking both Alabama and Oregon en route to a national championship. The Buckeyes now rightfully head into the upcoming season as the preseason No. 1 team in the country and clear favorite to bring home another title.

That said, other squads such as TCU and Alabama have received plenty of attention, while a few more have the ability to pull off some surprises during the year. Here is a full look at the USA Today Amway Coaches Poll with a breakdown of programs that the panel might have overlooked.


No. 15 Ole Miss

Things went south in a hurry for Ole Miss last season. The squad flew up the polls after a 7-0 start, but four losses in the final six games were not quite as encouraging. That said, the wins over Alabama and Mississippi State were no fluke.

As NFL.com noted, the Rebels have one of the most talented teams in football next year:

Offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil and defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche are among the best in the nation at their positions, while wide receiver Laquon Treadwell is incredibly exciting to watch when healthy. The defense led the nation last season in points allowed per game, and the offense is full of promise.

Sure, the team will have to replace quarterback Bo Wallace, but his mistakes often held the team back as much as he helped out in recent years. Any of Ryan Buchanan, DeVante Kincade or Chad Kelly could step in and produce almost as well under center.

If everything comes together well, Ole Miss has what it takes to compete in the loaded SEC West.


No. 19 Oklahoma

It's not an uncommon tale for a college team to have quarterback questions before Week 1. Doubters feel the lack of certainty at the position makes Oklahoma a major question mark for the upcoming year.

On the other hand, head coach Bob Stoops has some quality options no matter who ends up starting. Incumbent Trevor Knight has had his problems, but ESPN.com's Jake Trotter noted the similarities between him and last year's Big 12 breakout star, Trevone Boykin. 

Meanwhile, Texas Tech transfer Baker Mayfield has earned plenty of praise since joining the team.

"What he’s done is just worked hard,” Stoops said, per Brady Vardeman of the Oklahoma Daily. “He sat out the whole season and ran the scout team. You know, couldn’t have been more enthusiastic and excited every day. He looked at it as a great opportunity to get better."

With this level of competition between Knight, Mayfield and Cody Thomas, the Sooners should be in good shape.

Of course, Oklahoma is in great shape offensively regardless of who is under center. Samaje Perine rushed for 1,713 yards with 21 touchdowns last season and should be one of the top running backs in the nation next season. Add in receiver Sterling Shepard, and this is an attack that will be tough to stop.

Even with TCU and Baylor returning a lot of talent, the Sooners certainly have a chance to contend for a Big 12 title.


No. 22 Arizona

While Arizona isn't considered a football powerhouse, this ranking is way too low for a team that won the Pac-12 South, reached the Fiesta Bowl and returns most of its key players from last season.

The team has offensive playmakers in quarterback Anu Solomon, running back Nick Wilson and receiver Cayleb Jones, all of whom could put up huge numbers in 2015. Still, the biggest star on the team is linebacker Scooby Wright, a dominant defender who had an FBS-leading 29 tackles for loss last season.

ESPN recently put Wright in a tie for second on a list of the best players in college football.

Athlon Sports also quoted an opposing coach discussing the linebacker's impact on the defense:

The tough thing about playing their defense is you can’t really scheme for Scooby Wright. Your guys know where he’s coming from and what he’s trying to do, but his motor is just off the charts, and he’s going to get five or six opportunities to make a game-changing play just off effort. He’s a special dude.

This group earned 10 wins during the regular season last year and should only be better in 2015.


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

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Texas Football: Week 1 Fall Camp Stock Report for the Longhorns

The Texas Longhorns commenced fall camp on Friday, providing an early look at who's rising and falling in the push toward the regular season.

Thus far, everything's going pretty much as expected. Tyrone Swoopes has been dominating first-team reps at quarterback, distancing himself from the competition as a passer.

The real competition here won't begin until Jerrod Heard's running comes into play.

Elsewhere, the freshmen are really making their move, especially at receiver and in the defensive backfield. But the biggest surprise has been an old, frustrating name who is once again teasing us with his dynamic ability.


Stock Up: CB Kris Boyd

The freshman defensive backs are sure to make a lot of noise this fall, and Kris Boyd is leading the way so far.

At 6'0", Boyd isn't quite the ideal specimen that Holton Hill (6'2") is. But with HornsDigest.com's Chip Brown reporting that Texas' top DB recruit hasn't been on the field, Boyd has been taking full advantage of the opportunity, using his physicality to win some tough matchups early in camp.

Per the San Antonio Express-News' Mike Finger, Boyd has yet to take first-team reps away from Bryson Echols and Antwuan Davis, but it's coming. Boyd was one of the best athletes in the 2015 recruiting class, and it'll be fun to watch him fight Hill for early playing time.


Stock Down: WR Dorian Leonard and WR Lorenzo Joe

For much of the offseason, it looked like Dorian Leonard and Lorenzo Joe were in a two-man race for the starting "X" job. Now they've both let a freshman take their reps.

Per 247Sports' Jeff Howe, drops have been a major problem for the receivers early in camp, and these two have committed their fair share of offenses. Leonard had an especially tough day on Sunday, and 247Sports' Chris Hummer has Joe running with the third team.

After the springs these two had, their early struggles are extremely disappointing.

Emerging from this fray has been John Burt. The true freshman has really settled in since Friday, displaying reliable hands and an ability to stretch the field. Unless one of the veterans responds, he's going to grab John Harris' old role on the outside.


Stock Up: WR Daje Johnson

Don't get your hopes up just yet, but we may have a Daje Johnson sighting in fall camp.

Just when you thought you were out on Johnson, he pulls you back in. 247Sports' Howe called the enigmatic senior "the most consistent" receiver he's seen, while Hummer has been impressed by his hands and route running.

This is a pleasant surprise from one of Texas' most maddening players. There's no doubt he's a special talent with blazing speed—ESPN.com indicates he ran a 4.34-second 40-yard dash—but his numbers have dipped in each of the past two years due to some off-field issues.

On the field, he's struggled with everything he's been praised for thus far in camp.

If Johnson can figure it out, he'll be one of the best weapons the Longhorns have. We'll have to see what he looks like once we get closer to the season, but he looks like a stud through three great days of practice.


Stock Down: OL Terrell Cuney

Terrell Cuney put his status with the team in serious jeopardy, with 247Sports' Hummer reporting on Wednesday that he was arrested for shoplifting. For now, his mistake has simply opened the door for a younger talent.

More than anything else, Cuney's arrest is significant because of depth problems. Camrhon Hughes has officially left the program, making it five offensive linemen who have left the program in the past year. 

Because the Horns simply need bodies, Cuney will more than likely remain with the team. But he'll be guaranteed nothing, especially with true freshman Patrick Vahe making an impression early on in camp.

Vahe's a better prospect with a possible NFL future, but the Longhorns can't afford to lose any more linemen.


Stock Up: TE DeAndre McNeal

The hype continues to build for freshman DeAndre McNeal, who's working toward becoming a multipurpose tight end for the Longhorns.

Initially a receiver, McNeal has officially made the move to tight end. It's hardly a surprise given the freshman's thick, 236-pound frame and ability to make moves in space. As Strong told reporters on Friday, the transition made a lot of sense:

The thing you like about DeAndre is that he came in as a receiver, gained some weight, and came to us and said he doesn't mind moving to another position. He's one of those guys we can move around and put in the tight end position, but he has enough speed where he can go vertical and get open.

The exciting thing about McNeal is his versatility. He can box out for a catch underneath, get upfield for a deep ball and even run the ball between the tackles if called upon. He's a total matchup nightmare, and he can line up virtually anywhere.

Per 247Sports' Hummer, the newly minted tight end is now working overtime to become a better blocker.

If Texas thinks he can hold his own in that department, he's going to see a ton of work as a unique weapon for Shawn Watson's offense.


Stock Down: LB Tim Cole and LB Dalton Santos

It looks like senior linebackers Tim Cole and Dalton Santos are the odd men out in Texas' linebacking corps.

Through three days of camp, the starters in the middle of Texas' defense have been Malik Jefferson, Peter Jinkens and Edwin Freeman, with the first two holding it down in 3-3-5 sets. Jefferson's manning the middle, and 247Sports' Howe reports that Jinkens looks as good as he's ever seen.

Meanwhile, both Cole and Santos are working back from injuries.

Santos already can't match Jefferson's athleticism and is far too slow for an outside job, so his time off the field will really set him back. On the other hand, Cole always seems to get chances that never amount to anything.

Both players will be part of the rotation, but the coaches seem to trust Jefferson and Freeman after strong springs. This is only our first example of freshmen beating out the upperclassmen.


Stock Up: DE Derick Roberson

Derick Roberson's healthy, and he's showing exactly why he was the Longhorns' highest-rated recruit of the 2014 class, per 247Sports.

247Sports' Howe reports that Roberson is now in "outstanding" shape at almost 240 pounds. That's translated to some splashy plays from the redshirt freshman, namely a ridiculous interception of Heard and a one-on-one drill in which he simply tossed 296-pound Alex Anderson out of his way (per Horns Digest's William Wilkerson).

The team is probably a year away from having Roberson as a regular contributor, but the potential is obvious. He can really explode into the backfield, and he's working on the physical strength to play both end positions:

Anyone who was worried that Roberson wouldn't live up to his potential can now sleep easy.


Unless otherwise noted, all stats and information courtesy of TexasSports.com.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Ohio State Football: 5 Questions That Need to Be Answered During Fall Camp

Even with all the talent and expectations in Columbus, there are still a number of pressing questions that Urban Meyer needs to answer as Ohio State opens fall camp on Monday.

The top-ranked Buckeyes reported to the team hotel for the official start of camp on Sunday afternoon, and over the next four weeks, the coaching staff will fine-tune the depth chart and finalize the game plan in preparation for the season-opening clash with Virginia Tech. 

Here are five things Meyer will need to sort out before the start of the season.


Who's Going to Start at Quarterback?

One of college football's most intriguing offseason storylines will finally reach a resolution when Cardale Jones and J.T. Barrett battle for the starting quarterback spot.

Jones got a head start during spring practice as Barrett worked through his recovery from the broken ankle that ended his 2014 season. Jones got the chance to build a chemistry with Ohio State's new-look receiver unit that lost key members such as Devin Smith and Evan Spencer. 

But Barrett was able to run seven-on-seven drills during spring camp to stay fresh and engaged while Jones got the lion's share of first-team reps. Meyer said Barrett was "close to 95 percent" in early July, according to Ari Wasserman of the Plain Dealer, so he should be up to full speed for camp.

Meyer doesn't plan to announce his starting quarterback before the Virginia Tech game, so he has four weeks to make his decision. 


Can Braxton Miller Catch?

One of the other big storylines during the offseason was Braxton Miller's move from quarterback to wide receiver.

The two-time Big Ten MVP is coming off a pair of surgeries to his throwing shoulder, and he told Pete Thamel of Sports Illustrated that he isn't quite ready for a full load of throwing activity. Because of that, he made the move to the perimeter in order to see the field in his final season with the Buckeyes.

“For the most part, it’s going to be H-Back and punt return,” Miller said, via Thamel. “This is the smarter thing for right now, God blessed me with a lot of talent and different opportunities. I’m going to have fun with that and still score a lot of touchdowns and help the team out and be dominant at that.”

But does he have the actual skill set to contribute in such a capacity?

That's something Meyer wants to find out. But the coaching staff is eager to get him on the field to find out how they can use him.

"We won't know enough until practice starts how we can use him and what he can do," Meyer said, according to Doug Lesmerises of the Plain Dealer. "I just don't know. He's a great athlete, but he's never caught a pass for us. So we'll know more and we have plenty of time when practice starts."


Who's Going to Be the Other Cornerback?

Ohio State's secondary surged down the stretch of the 2014 season as the starting four defensive backs found their groove in Chris Ash's simplified defensive scheme.

Safeties Vonn Bell and Tyvis Powell are back along with cornerback Eli Apple, but the Buckeyes have to identify their second corner to replace Doran Grant, who was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers last May.

Gareon Conley emerged as the front-runner after a solid spring practice, and by all accounts, he had a great summer and is ready to step into his role as a starter.

"The one name that people are a little bit iffy on is Gareon Conley, because he didn't play a ton last year and people got the impression about him," linebacker Joshua Perry said at Big Ten media days, according to Eric Seger of Eleven Warriors. "But that kid, the way he's worked this summer and some of the things he's been through in his development right now is huge."

But Conley will have to work hard to keep talented underclassmen Damon Webb and Marshon Lattimore at bay. 

"There's a different level of expectation on the part of the player who feels really good that he's gonna be the starter," cornerbacks coach Kerry Coombs said of Conley, via Bill Landis of the Plain Dealer. "Damon Webb is nipping at his heels and he wants that job, but Gareon is walking out of the building every morning saying, 'I'm gonna be that guy.' It's a different level than, 'I hope I might be that guy.' There's no safety net." 


Which Freshmen Are Ready to Make an Instant Impact?

Over the last two seasons, Ohio State has had a number of true freshmen step up and make an immediate impact.

In 2013, the Buckeyes got huge contributions from Joey Bosa, who had earned a starting spot by the Week 6 matchup with Northwestern, and Dontre Wilson, who made an impact on the ground, in the air and on special teams. Last season, middle linebacker Raekwon McMillan was a big part of the defense as he split time with Curtis Grant, and offensively, Curtis Samuel emerged as Ezekiel Elliott's primary backup.

Which freshmen will be ready to play this fall? 

Former 4-star prospect Michael Weber has a huge opportunity to crack the running back rotation this fall. 

The depth chart behind Elliott is wide open after Samuel transitioned to H-Back this spring. Bri'onte Dunn had a great spring and is slotted as the No. 2 back, but Weber showed up for camp looking the part of a freshman ready to play.

Other first-year guys to watch include receivers K.J. Hill and Alex Stump, defensive linemen Jashon Cornell and Robert Landers and linebackers Justin Hilliard and Nick Conner.


Can This Team Handle the Expectations?

The last 10 teams that entered the season ranked No. 1 have failed to win the national championship, with USC being the last to do so in 2004.

The Buckeyes are hoping to end that decade-long curse, and Meyer is already trying to set the tone and prepare his team for the grind that comes with repeating. Meyer won't use the word "defend," because the players they lost and the incoming freshmen have created an entirely new team. And he knows there's a difference between proving yourself as a team and staying on top of the mountain once you do so.

"I can tell you which is more enjoyable and that's the run up the hill," Meyer said at Big Ten media days, via Jon Solomon of CBS Sports. "I'm sure every player would say that, too."

Meyer's biggest priority over the next four weeks will be identifying the right leaders to help his team handle the mounting expectations. Perry has emerged as the voice of the defense, and guys such as Taylor Decker, Miller and Barrett have been singled out for their leadership as well. 

But if the right leadership doesn't emerge, the Buckeyes will have a very hard time living up to the hype. 


All recruiting information via 247Sports.

David Regimbal is the Ohio State football Lead Writer for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @davidreg412.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Cam Robinson Injury Reaffirms Star OL Is Alabama's Most Indispensable Player

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — University of Alabama sophomore left tackle Cam Robinson had experienced it before, but not quite to this extent.

On Saturday afternoon, he went down with an injury during the Crimson Tide’s third practice of training camp, when players were donning shells for the first time this fall. After getting rolled from behind in a pile, he was carted off the practice field, mostly as a precaution.

It put the Alabama fanbase on high alert. With no media access other than a short viewing period earlier during individual drills, the rumors started flying through social media and on message boards. Speculation zeroed in on a possible broken foot that could sideline him for months, if not the season.

Only it wasn’t true.

Robinson had a mild knee sprain and wouldn’t even miss the next practice. Nick Saban was quick to announce that he was “fine” during Alabama’s media session Sunday morning, and the left tackle shook his head while downplaying the whole thing.

“I try not to let that bother me too much,” he said. “Fans are…we have the greatest fans in America, so I’m pretty sure if they hear of anybody getting hurt it’s going to be a hold-your-breath-type moment.”

Although it turned out to be another Chicken Little incident led by people assuming the worst, the injury scare did reinforce the notion that Robinson may be the player Alabama can least afford to lose to an injury this season.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t depth concerns, especially at wide receiver, and cornerback has been an ongoing problem for years. Yet when Saban announced other injuries—wide receiver Chris Black and tight end Ty Flournoy-Smith with sprained ankles and cornerback Marlon Humphrey with a pulled muscle—they barely registered as a blip on the fanbase's radar.

But left tackle is different, especially when you have a really good one.

Last year, Robinson was the first true freshman to start at left tackle for Alabama since Andre Smith (who was just the seventh true freshman in school history to start in his first career game) in 2006. Smith went on to win the Outland Trophy and be the sixth selection in the 2009 NFL draft.

Robinson has that kind of potential. Against the pass-rushers the Southeastern Conference had to offer, he was credited with 32 knockdown blocks while surrendering just three sacks in 861 snaps.

With a good fall, he could be in the running for All-American honors along with some hardware, and he was named to the preseason All-SEC team during media days.

“I have high expectations for myself. I knew that if I came in and worked that I would be able to do a lot,” said Robinson, who then demonstrated that he’s mastered the diplomatic side of media interviews as well. “Whatever comes from Nick comes from Nick. Whatever accolades and whatever comes, I just try and play to the best of my ability, and hopefully I’ll earn [them].”

With Robinson, Alabama could have another monster offensive line, possibly its best since All-Americans Barrett Jones, Chance Warmack and D.J. Fluker were all manhandling opponents together during the 2012 title run.

Moreover, at 6’6”, 326 pounds, he’s the Crimson Tide’s most intimidating player outside of his defensive counterpart with the same last name, A’Shawn.

So the thought of not having Robinson is something Crimson Tide fans want to avoid at all costs, just like it was in 2014.

“I’ve never questioned his mental toughness, even last year when he got hurt in the Tennessee game and we thought he’d be out for two to four weeks,” Saban said. “We had a bye week, and he played at LSU two weeks later.

“He’s a guy—some guys can deal with those types of things and it doesn’t bother them. He seems to be one of those guys that doesn’t complain much and really can manage the bumps and bruises that you get playing football. Everybody gets them, and some people can manage them and some people don’t.”

That injury against the Volunteers was one that looked a lot worse than what it was. After taking 33 snaps in the game, Robinson tried to help running back T.J. Yeldon when he got stood up at the end of a nine-yard run, only to have Tennessee players land on the back of his leg.

The injury turned out to be a high-ankle sprain. As was the case with this incident, Robinson’s knee brace saved him from potentially severe damage.

“I’m fine. It’ll be all right,” Robinson said.

The sound that came after that was from thousands of fans exhaling together in relief.


Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.

Christopher Walsh is a lead SEC college football writer.

Follow Christopher on Twitter @WritingWalsh.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Thomas Tyner Injury: Updates on Oregon RB's Recovery from Shoulder Surgery

Oregon running back Thomas Tyner underwent successful shoulder surgery Friday, but he will miss the 2015 regular season as a result, his father John revealed.

Continue for updates.

Tyner's Father Announces Status, Comments on 2016 Season Sunday, Aug. 9

"Lingering pain and discomfort led to Tyner undergoing surgery," relayed Aaron Fentress of CSNNW.com. "His father said the procedure went well and Tyner is expected to make a full recovery and return to action in 2016. John Tyner said that naturally his son is down about missing the season but is looking forward to next year." 

The shifty runner had established himself as a reliable complementary piece of the rushing attack, as his 573 yards and five touchdowns last season in a backup role proved. He's not built to take on a heavy workload, which is expected to be handled by Royce Freeman, but he's a spark plug capable of making big plays.

He's managed to stay pretty healthy during his time with the Ducks despite his lack of ideal size. The only notable injuries over the past couple of years were shoulder and ankle issues he dealt with at the same time late last season.

The loss of Tyner "could force senior Byron Marshall to return to running back after he spent most of last season at wide receiver," noted Fentress. "Marshall, who led the team last season with 74 receptions and 1,003 receiving yards, in 2013 led the team with 1,038 yards rushing and 14 touchdowns."

Looking ahead to 2016, Tyner should immediately step back into his usual role once healthy.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Thomas Tyner Injury: Updates on Oregon RB's Recovery from Shoulder Surgery

Oregon running back Thomas Tyner underwent successful shoulder surgery Friday, but he will miss the 2015 regular season as a result, his father John revealed. Continue for updates...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

Cam Robinson Injury: Updates on Alabama OT's Knee and Recovery

Alabama left tackle Cam Robinson sprained his knee in practice Saturday, as coach Nick Saban told Michael Casagrande of AL.com.

Continue for updates.

Robinson's Injury Isn't Considered SeriousSunday, August 9

Saban told Cecil Hurt of the Tuscaloosa News that Robinson "is fine" and may be able to participate in practice Sunday. He also praised his star offensive tackle, noting that "when he sets his mind to something he has a strong personality and is a strong, effective competitor," per Alex Scarborough of ESPN.

In other words, Saban doesn't expect a knee sprain will hold Robinson back.

Despite being just a sophomore, Robinson is one of the more talented offensive linemen in the country. A preseason All-SEC selection, he started all 14 games for Alabama as a true freshman and thrived, and he is expected to be a pillar on the line for the Crimson Tide this season. 

His loss would have been a crippling one for Alabama, so Sunday's news was certainly a relief for the program. The Crimson Tide simply can't afford to lose a player as valuable as Robinson as they compete in the brutal SEC West.


Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Adam Lane Granted Release from Florida: Latest Details, Comments and Reaction

The Florida Gators have granted running back Adam Lane his release so that he can address family concerns, according to the program's official Twitter account:

Lane, a sophomore, was expected to compete for playing time this season. After being given just eight carries during the 2014 season, he was named the MVP of the Birmingham Bowl after rushing 16 times for 109 yards and a score with Matt Jones out of the game due to injury. 

His low center of gravity and strength not only made him a tough player to tackle, as he hit the hole and bounced off would-be tacklers like a pinball, but also a fan favorite at Florida.

The move thins out the running back position pretty significantly for the Gators. While Kelvin Taylor is the starter, freshmen Jordan Scarlett and Jordan Cronkrite will now be asked to step up and contribute with Lane off the team. It will be trial by fire for Florida's young backs. 


Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Florida State Coach Jimbo Fisher Buys Frozen Yogurt for Waiting Fans

It's not fun sitting outside in the Florida heat on an August day. But diehard Florida State Seminoles fans do it just to catch a glimpse of their favorite college football team. Dedication at it's finest.

FSU coach Jimbo Fisher passed these fans on his way to work today and decided to reward them for their support and dedication to the team. And what better way to reward fans sitting out in the heat than with frozen yogurt? 

It was definitely the right move by coach Fisher. 

[ FSU Football ]

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com