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Everything You Need to Know About College Football Week 13 in 60 Seconds

Rivalry weekend of the college football season is never short of high drama, and with Week 13 coming to a close, we have all the best action covered in just 60 seconds.

Is head coach Les Miles in or out at LSU? Did Alabama running back Derrick Henry impress enough to lock up the Heisman Trophy with his performance this week?

Watch in the video above as Bleacher Report College Football Analyst Michael Felder breaks down all the best action.

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The Unbelievable True Story of How Les Miles Kept His Job

They carried the dead-coach-walking off the field like a king, an action that was as symbolic as it was powerful. As they lifted this living, breathing trophy to the sky—a man who looked defeated and demoralized just hours earlier—the chants rained down. 

Les Miles,” Tiger Stadium yelled following LSU’s sloppy 19-7 win over Texas A&M on Saturday. That victory didn’t matter at the moment. Neither did the losses or the jumbled expectations, for that matter. 

At the moment, as Miles was grabbed by his players, all that mattered was the LSU fight song and each other. Together they sang, and suddenly everything felt different. A strange and turbulent week drifted away.

After the game, something strange happened. LSU announced, in a surprise, that it was keeping its successful head coach around a little while longer.

"I want to make it very clear that Les Miles is our football coach and will continue to be our football coach," LSU athletic director athletic Joe Alleva told reporters following the win.


Consider the week that was. Media outlets, including this one, lined up to discuss Miles’ impending firing or “resignation” at LSU almost hourly. The leaks within the program were loud and clear. 

The response from LSU denying these rumors—something the school could have provided a week ago had it wished to do so—was nonexistent. For all intents and purposes, this was happening.

So things snowballed. Talks of Miles’ removal, as strange as they seemed even at the onset, evolved into something more as additional outlets and “sources” chimed in. By the time Thanksgiving arrived, it seemed like Miles’ departure was a foregone conclusion. 

Still, the coach refused to give in. He took the high road throughout. Finally, once the final game had been decided and the news had been released, Miles uncorked a moment of honesty.

“There's probably a guy or two I'd like to meet in an alley and have a little straight-talk with," Miles told reporters after the game, the furthest he would allow his frustration to go. "But I'm not built that way.”

According to ESPN's Joe Schad, “pressure” and “sentiment” were key factors in LSU's decision to keep Miles.

Perhaps even more perplexing is the fact that LSU, according to Schad once again, made the final decision to retain Miles in the third quarter of a meaningless game.

Decision to retain Les Miles was made in meeting of LSU decision makers during 3rd quarter of tonight’s game, per source

— Joe Schad (@schadjoe) November 29, 2015

As strange as this seems—and goodness, think about this sequence of events for a moment—it makes quite a bit of sense. Watching the game live, you could feel it. There was an energy, some sort of new coach elixir, in the air.

Miles’ introduction to the crowd was an event that captured the full applause of the stadium. It was passed around through social media. As LSU took control of a contest that tumbled along, it built up a bit more. 

By the time the clock had drained and those in the stands poured their hearts and souls into the air, and the players grabbed their head coach like they had just clinched a College Football Playoff berth, it all made sense. 

Earlier in the week, I spoke with former LSU running back Jacob Hester. Although Hester is years removed from the program, he has stayed close with Miles. Through his time in the NFL and now his new life covering the LSU football team, Hester has always held a special place for Miles in his heart. So much so that the former player plans to give his next-born son the middle name “Miles.”

“To me Coach Miles is another father figure in my life,” Hester said. “I’m many years removed from LSU, and he knows my wife’s name, my kids’ names, my brother’s name, my mom and dad, and he asks how those people are doing every time I see him. He was the first person that called me when I got drafted. He was the first person to call me when I was released.” 

Hester, having spoken to more than 10 players over the past week, still couldn’t process the possibility of Miles leaving now. Neither could many others he spoke with, including former LSU quarterback Matt Flynn and former safety Craig Steltz—two fixtures of successful eras. 

This, in some ways, was personal for them. It would be different if Miles had bottomed out in Baton Rouge, although that wasn’t the case. While the program has fallen short of matching incredible expectations—expectations that the coach himself helped create—there were still plenty of reasons to be optimistic.

And above all, there was Les. The personal side to this unexpected revival cannot be overstated.

Former LSU lineman T-Bob Hebert shared a similar sentiment. When asked about the possibility of Miles being removed last week, with rumors swirling, Hebert reflected on his relationship with the head coach.

“I got a DWI during my time in college, and he wasn’t coddling,” Herbert said. “He punished me and rightfully so. He made me realized that the punishment was needed in order to avoid making the same mistakes. It was not a lovey-dovey relationship, but he was very positive in my life. I have no regrets about going to LSU and playing for Les Miles.”

There are hundreds of these stories—former players with wonderful individual anecdotes about a head coach with a big heart and big eccentrics. 

Over time, Miles has accumulated plenty of good faith with his players. And yes, despite the fact that he has been unable to win more than one national championship, fans share a similar relationship with the head coach. In many ways, this extends to the media as well. 

Rarely does an emotional attachment get in the way of business, but this was different. What became clear from the onset of this strange, twisting journey was that the money behind the program—the boosters tired of losing to Nick Saban—wanted something new. Others, many, many others, felt otherwise. 

Perhaps that something (or someone) new was Jimbo Fisher. Maybe over the course of the last 48 hours, it was someone else. No one will ever know exactly what went on behind the curtain at LSU to prompt the apparent change of heart, but we now know the immediate, end result.

The coach who has won 111 of his last 143 games gets to keep his job. The coach with the No. 2 recruiting class in the country, as rated by 247Sports, will have an opportunity to keep this class together, as it was on the verge of falling apart.

Had Fisher said yes to LSU’s alleged interest, perhaps this would be different. Had LSU lost an ugly game in ugly fashion Saturday night—and for the majority of the game it felt like it was coming—perhaps the administration would have found a window to make a change. 

Firing a head coach normally comes somewhat easy. That’s not to say it’s ever easy on a personal level, but more times than not we know when it’s coming. You can sense it. This, however, was different. It came from nowhere and grew from nowhere.

And then, without an ounce of warning, momentum in Miles’ favor bubbled over as the coach graced the sideline. Business, for once, was outdone by something else—a movement that is hard to define.

After Miles was left drifting in the middle of the ocean without a life jacket, LSU was suddenly backed into a corner. Having seemingly lost the battle internally and with PR, it altered course. 

Alive and well, Miles will have the opportunity to right the ship that many assumed was broken beyond repair. Having come so close to a different result—a life on television or a different city entirely—LSU’s head coach, having been carried by his young team that will be expected to win bigger for him next year, will entertain us at least awhile longer. 

Following the game, Miles was asked little about the ugly football contest that might have saved his job. But when asked about the feeling of being carried off the field by his players—players who will carry with them magnificent stories of their head coach for decades—he found his stride once more. 

“When you’re sitting up there, I know now what it’s like to ride an elephant,” Miles said in his press conference. “It scares you to death, and you pray you can hang on to the ears, because there’s not much to hang on to. I was thrilled. I was touched.”

It’s good, again, to be king.


Unless noted otherwise, all quotes obtained firsthand.

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College Football Rankings: Bleacher Report's Week 14 Top 25

Thirteen weeks of college football have come and gone, with the 2015 regular season over for a handful of teams. Yet so much more can still happen thanks to the remaining conference championship games, which will help finalize the lineup for the playoffs as well as all 40 postseason bowl games.

For now, though, we've got another edition of the Bleacher Report Top 25 that features plenty of movement thanks to a weekend of games that saw playoff hopefuls slip and late-charging teams climb up.

Twenty-one members of our college football staff voted in this week's Top 25: writers Ben Axelrod, Greg Couch, Ed Feng, Justin Ferguson, Bryan Fischer, David Kenyon, Ben Kercheval, Adam Kramer, Brian Leigh, Mike Monaco, Brian Pedersen, David Regimbal, Barrett Sallee, Brad Shepard, Greg Wallace and Christopher Walsh; video experts Michael Felder and Sean McManus; and editors Eric Bowman, Hunter Mandel and Eric Yates.

First-place votes were worth 25 points, with each subsequent rank worth one fewer point, all the way down to one for 25th place. The 25 highest vote-getters made our list, with the rest falling into the "others receiving votes" category.

See where everyone falls after the final full week of the regular season, then give us your thoughts in the comments section.

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College Football Playoff Rankings: Biggest Takeaways from Week 13

Week 13 delivered on its annual promise, shining clarity on the College Football Playoff picture while leaving hints of intrigue for next week's conference championship games.

We didn't see an upset as big as Texas over Oklahoma, but rivalries across the country gave underdogs a chance to compete, and highly ranked matchups had inevitable playoff implications.

The CFP picture has crept into focus, and although most lines are still blurry, the shape is starting to become recognizable.

Here are the biggest takeaways from rivalry week.


Oklahoma Punches First Ticket

Oklahoma won the Big 12 in dominant fashion, scoring 44 points in the first half of Bedlam and beating Oklahoma State 58-23.

The Sooners have rebounded from an ugly loss to Texas in October and punched the first unofficial ticket to the Final Four.

Clemson, Alabama and whoever wins the Big Ten title can punch tickets next weekend (more on that below), but Oklahoma clinched before them thanks to the lack of a Big 12 Championship Game, which gives the Sooners one fewer hurdle to clear.

Last year's Big 12 co-champions, TCU and Baylor, missed the playoff in part because the conference has no title game. It's more than a little ironic for that feature to prove beneficial the following season.

The Sooners and Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby are two of the weekend's biggest winners.

On to the national semis!


Notre Dame Falls Short

Injuries finally caught up with Notre Dame, which lost its second game of the season—and first against an opponent ranked lower than No. 1 in the current polls—on a last-second field goal at Stanford.

The Irish scored what appeared to be the game-winning touchdown with 30 seconds to play, but Stanford drove 45 yards on five plays to set up the game-winning kick by senior Conrad Ukropina:

The loss of starting cornerback KeiVarae Russell, who broke his tibia last week against Boston College, proved one too many for Notre Dame's depleted pass defense. Stanford quarterback Kevin Hogan completed 17 of 21 passes for 269 yards and four touchdowns in the win.

The loss eliminates Notre Dame from reasonable playoff contention, although it's still likely to land in a New Year's Six bowl game. But that feels like a letdown for a team that head coach Brian Kelly said he would still put up against anyone, per Brian Hamilton of Sports Illustrated:

But bad news for the Irish spells good news for the playoff committee…


There Might Not Be a Controversy

Had Notre Dame beaten Stanford, there would have been another controversy on par with Ohio State over Baylor and TCU.

But Stanford's win over Notre Dame, along with the following results, keeps a fairly straightforward playoff in play:

  1. Iowa 28, Nebraska 20
  2. North Carolina 45, North Carolina State 34
  3. Oklahoma 58, Oklahoma State 23
  4. Michigan State 55, Penn State 16

As long as Alabama beats Florida in the SEC Championship Game—which seems likely based on Florida's 27-2 loss to Florida State—the playoff committee should have no trouble picking four teams.

Those four teams will be:

  • Alabama (one-loss SEC champion)
  • Oklahoma (one-loss Big 12 champion)
  • Clemson/North Carolina (zero-loss/one-loss ACC champion)
  • Iowa/Michigan State (0-loss/1-loss Big Ten champion)

If North Carolina beats Clemson, there's a chance 11-1 Ohio State, whose only loss came against Michigan State, could sneak in over the Tar Heels and ruin that projected foursome. But taking two teams from the Big Ten—even if one is the defending national champion—seems unlikely when there's a one-loss ACC champion who just (in this hypothetical) upset the No. 1 team in the country on a neutral field.

Respecting conference champions is how the committee took Ohio State last year. It's written right into its official selection criteria: "[The committee] will be instructed to place an emphasis on winning conference championships, strength of schedule and head-to-head competition when comparing teams with similar records and pedigree (treat final determination like a tie-breaker; apply specific guidelines)."

As long as Alabama beats Florida, expect the playoff to turn out as stated above. A Crimson Tide win would turn Clemson-North Carolina and Iowa-Michigan State into CFP quarterfinals.

Or at least it would for all intents and purposes. 


Craziest Playoff That's Still Possible

This one's for #TeamChaos.

The craziest playoff that's still realistically possible is:

  1. Iowa
  2. Oklahoma
  3. North Carolina
  4. Stanford

We get there with the above four teams winning their respective conference championship games, plus Florida beating Alabama.

The fourth spot would come down to Stanford and Ohio State, with the Buckeyes lobbying on the platform of having one loss to Stanford's two. But again, as mentioned above, Stanford's winning a Power Five conference would give it a massive leg up on OSU.

Either way, all chaos scenarios revolve around Florida beating Alabama. But don't hold your breath on that happening.

The Gators needed a safety to avoid getting shut out by Florida State.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Matt Campbell to Iowa State: Latest Contract Details, Comments and Reaction

According to the Toledo Blade's Nicholas Piotrowicz, the Iowa State Cyclones hired former Toledo Rockets football head coach Matt Campbell to the same position early Sunday morning.

The team has not disclosed the contract figures.

The hiring comes less than a week after the Cyclones fired former head coach Paul Rhoads, who had been at the position for seven years. Rhoads coached Iowa State to losing seasons in six of those seven years. 

At Toledo, the 36-year-old Campbell led the Rockets to winning seasons in each of his four full years and won a pair of bowl games with the MAC school, compiling a 35-15 record. 

Toledo offered Campbell a contract that would have made him the highest-paid coach in the MAC on Saturday, per the Associated Press (via ESPN.com). 

Piotrowicz described the kind of coach Iowa State is getting:

To his players, he's very, very honest. Every player in his program knows where he stands, good or bad. He does not shortcut. He'll recruit above his weight class and the kids will get better under his program. He inspires a lot of loyalty from the people he's around. He's not always forthcoming with media, but I've always believed him a good man.

Per Piotrowicz, Campbell will be in Iowa on Sunday. 

Iowa State, which has struggled to be relevant in the Big 12 for much of its existence, needed a change. The Cyclones haven't won more than six games in any of the last six seasons, and they haven't been bowl-eligible since 2012.

Bringing Campbell into a power conference, Iowa State looks as though it is confident that he can help turn things around.


Stats courtesy of Sports-Reference.com.

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Texas A&M vs. LSU: Game Grades, Analysis for Aggies and Tigers

Following a gritty battle in a hostile Death Valley, a streaking LSU squad was able to grind out a 19-7 victory over border rival Texas A&M and enter the bowl season off a win. After weeks of speculation swirling around the job security of head coach Les Miles, the Tigers' tenacious style of football shined through under the lights in what may be the Mad Hatter's final game at Baton Rouge. 

Up next, bowl season approaches with both A&M and LSU primed to jump into postseason competition. With the win, the Tigers should see their stock rise relative to fellow SEC West rivals Texas A&M and Mississippi State, while the Aggies will once again see their standing crumble after midseason woes derailed the squad. 

Pass Offense: Brandon Harris and the passing attack failed to gain much traction against the A&M secondary, as he totaled just 83 total yards through the air with one interception. 

Rush Offense: While the passing game struggled, sophomore running back Leonard Fournette and freshman Derrius Guice utilized the ground-and-pound system to eventually break through the Aggies defense. Fournette and Guice combined for 232 yards and two scores, working together on the back-breaking final scoring drive in the fourth quarter. 

Pass Defense: Even though Kyle Allen and Co. were relatively dangerous on occasion, the LSU secondary limited the Aggies signal-caller to just one score and 161 yards passing. The late interception helped seal the victory, and a constant pass rush kept the young quarterback rattled. 

Rush Defense: The combined onslaught of both Tra Carson and James White was nowhere near as deadly as Fournette and Guice, with both Aggies combining for 95 yards and no scores. A&M's dedication to its ground game proved fatal, as the LSU defense swarmed the rushing attack throughout the game. 

Special Teams: While the two Trent Domingue field goals proved crucial down the stretch, the three misses were certainly a downer throughout the game for the special teams. However, a recovered fumble on a kickoff helped LSU get off to a quick start, and Guice had a brilliant kickoff return to start the second half. 

Coaching: With rumors regarding Les Miles' job security choking up the media for the past few weeks, focusing on A&M must have been difficult. However, LSU played its game, pounding the ball and attacking opposing offenses. 

Pass Offense: Pitiful may be one word to describe it, especially considering how explosive this air raid was supposed to evolve into down the road. Kyle Allen and his receivers were only able to compile a despondent 161 yards and a single score, allowing the Tigers secondary to contain most threats throughout the game. 

Rush Offense: A tough night for the passing game led to a dismal night on the ground, as Carson and White worked for every inch of the 95 yards they gained. At some point, the play-action pass became a formality, with the LSU defense expecting air raid on nearly every down. 

Pass Defense: Harris struggled to find any rhythm through the air, as solid secondary play and inaccuracy plagued the Tigers quarterback. Overall, limiting any team to 83 passing yards is a victory, especially considering Harris' success earlier in the year. 

Rush Defense: The combination of Fournette and Guice proved too much for what was initially a stifling A&M defense, as the two halfbacks blew up late for two scores and a powerful 232 total yards. Fournette was particularly deadly, slicing up the Aggies in the final quarter as the Tigers wound down the clock for the victory. 

Special Teams: The missed Taylor Bertolet field goal was the beginning of the end for A&M, as LSU took off after the miss. Further, the fumble on a kickoff return killed early momentum. 

Coaching: After A&M's season-long struggle with an offense that was considered one of the most explosive in the country, some questions must be raised regarding the play-calling decisions of coordinator Jake Spavital. The change on defense to John Chavis has been critical in improvement on that side of the ball, but lackluster offensive production has hurt any chance A&M had to break into the playoff discussion. 

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Ohio State Still Has a Lifeline in Race to Repeat as CFP National Champion

Ohio State fans, welcome to #TeamChaos.

Your Buckeyes' offensive explosion against hated rival Michigan on Saturday afternoon was impressive.

And although Michigan State smacked around Penn State later in the day to clinch the Big Ten East division, the rout of the Wolverines in Jim Harbaugh's first Big Game at the Big House ensured Ohio State still has a chance to repeat as the national champion.

Ohio State entered the weekend at No. 8 in the College Football Playoff committee's rankings. The team directly ahead of it, No. 7 Baylor, lost 28-21 in overtime to TCU in a monsoon Friday night.

The No. 6 team, Notre Dame, lost 38-36 on a last-second field goal by No. 9 Stanford.

Even through some closer-than-expected calls, the rest of the committee's Top Five took care of business Saturday. Barring a surprise shakeup in the rankings, Ohio State will enter Week 14—conference championship week—as the No. 6 team in the country.

No. 3 Iowa and (presumably) No. 4 Michigan State will sort themselves out in Indianapolis next Saturday with a Big Ten Championship Game that should be a playoff play-in game.

That means Ohio State could be in the final top four from the committee with some more chaos, as Bleacher Report's Ben Axelrod noted on Twitter:

No. 1 Clemson, which survived a scary road trip against three-win rival South Carolina on Saturday, faces one of the hottest teams in the country next weekend in the ACC Championship Game.

North Carolina entered the weekend No. 14 in the CFP rankings and knocked off NC State by a score of 45-34.

The Tar Heels were ranked second nationally in yards per play heading into Week 13 and have a defense that has mostly excelled throughout the season. If it weren't for a narrow, turnover-filled loss in Week 1 against that same pesky South Carolina team, UNC would be a big-time playoff contender.

If North Carolina defeated Clemson in Charlotte next weekend, that would swing the door open for one of the playoff spots. One-loss North Carolina could climb in there itself with the ACC title, but it would have to make up a lot of ground with the committee.

Another scenario that would free up a spot for Ohio State to slide back into the top four is an upset for Florida, which lost 20-2 on Saturday against Florida State, over No. 2 Alabama.

This chaotic chance seems less likely than a UNC victory over undefeated Clemson. Alabama is playing like one of the best teams in the country at the moment, while Florida looked rough in its three previous wins before falling to Florida State.

But stranger things have happened, and a two-loss Florida team would be a tougher argument to make over Ohio State in the playoff discussion, even with the SEC Championship in its hands.

One of the teams that could join Ohio State in the playoff push with a win for UNC or Florida is none other than two-loss Stanford.

The Cardinal will face USC next weekend in the Pac-12 Championship Game, and they'll have a chance to secure one of those conference championships the committee apparently likes to see from a top-four team.

A Stanford loss, on the other hand, would clear things up for Ohio State. USC would be the Pac-12 champion in that case—with four losses.

If the comparisons came down to one-loss non-champion Ohio State, one-loss ACC champion UNC, a one-loss non-champion Clemson, two-loss SEC champion Florida and two-loss Pac-12 champion Stanford, let's just say that the committee would have a massive headache coming its way.

Ohio State's advantages would be point differential—or average margin of victory—and a huge blowout road victory over a Top 25 team, but the Buckeyes wouldn't have a conference championship. They would need the committee to look favorably upon the close loss to Michigan State and accept a pair of Big Ten teams into the playoff.

That playoff hope might still be a long shot, but it's a lot more than what Ohio State had just one short week ago.

After all, this is the season of last-minute miracles.


Justin Ferguson is a college football writer at Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @JFergusonBR.

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Oklahoma vs. Oklahoma State: Game Grades and Analysis for Sooners and Cowboys

Riding a balanced attack, the No. 3 Oklahoma Sooners took it the Oklahoma State Cowboys for a Bedlam win.

It was a dominant performance by the Sooners, who left Stillwater with a 58-23 victory. Baker Mayfield accounted for three touchdowns, Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon combined for four more, and the defense forced two turnovers to end this one early.

After giving up a 30-point second quarter, this one will leave a mark for the Cowboys. That 15-minute stretch saw the Sooners stretch their lead out from four points to 27, knocking the Pokes out of Big 12 contention in the blink of an eye.

The win gives Oklahoma its ninth conference title in the Bob Stoops era and likely punches the program's ticket to the College Football Playoff. 

Grade Analysis for the Sooners

Passing Offense: It was an average day for this passing offense, which put up only 180 yards. It should have been more, but drops were an issue for the receivers throughout the game. Mayfield probably needed a bigger day through the air to overtake Alabama's Derrick Henry in the Heisman race. 

Rushing Offense: The Sooners turned 42 carries into 344 yards and five touchdowns, including one from Mayfield. Mixon and Perine each put up at least 131 yards and two touchdowns. The tandem's emergence doesn't get enough credit for what Oklahoma has done over its last seven games.

Passing Defense: Jordan Thomas changed this game with two interceptions, including a pick-six, in the second quarter. From there, it was complete and utter dominance by the Sooners. Eric Striker also had a field day off the edge, making a living in the Cowboys backfield throughout the night. Zack Sanchez had one of his worst days in crimson and cream. James Washington got away with a couple of pushoffs, but he beat the Sooners' best cover man multiple times on jump balls. 

Rushing Defense: J.W. Walsh was the Pokes' only real threat out of the backfield, and the Sooners bottled him up easily. When you go up by almost 30 in the second quarter, the run game pretty much comes off the menu.

Special Teams: Alex Ross finally broke loose for a 90-yard return to set up the Sooners' first touchdown. Austin Seibert missed a field goal. Kick coverage was solid all night.

Coaching: Playing a good team on the road, Bob Stoops and his staff left no doubt. The Sooners mercilessly poured it on in that second quarter and then never let the Pokes feel like they were back in it. This team had to make a lasting impression on the College Football Playoff committee, and it did that with this dominant victory.

Grade Analysis for the Cowboys

Passing Offense: Walsh was solid, going 25-of-42 for 325 yards and two touchdowns. The Sooners were just playing a different game in the first half. Mason Rudolph's pick-six was a back-breaker that put the score out of reach at 34-10.

James Washington had another huge game with seven catches for 169 yards and a touchdown. He's the first Cowboys receiver to go over 1,000 yards since Josh Stewart in 2012, and he'll find himself on some watch lists next season.

Rushing Offense: What rushing offense? Walsh led the team in carries (12) and yardage (50), but he was obviously the only threat. The Pokes must address their deficiency in this phase of the game in the offseason.

Passing Defense: The Pokes weren't bad, but a bevy of Sooners drops also bailed them out. Emmanuel Ogbah was barely heard from in what was probably his final game at Boone Pickens Stadium.

Rushing Defense: Oklahoma literally ran away with this one. The Sooners had two touchdown runs of 66 yards or more, along with another that went for 25 yards. Nobody really seemed interested in tackling, which made it easy for these talented backs to go nuts.

Special Teams: Ben Grogan made all three of his field-goal attempts. Miketavius Jones made a nice effort to keep Ross out of the end zone on his big return, but that's the only nice thing we can say about that play. The Sooners are too balanced on offense to give them field position like that.

Coaching: Tackling was horrible, and you never got the sense that Mike Gundy and his staff had any answers for what was happening. The Sooners are obviously the more talented team, but Oklahoma State has to be better in a rivalry game with such high stakes. 

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Despite Playoff Long Shot, Stanford Shows Championship Quality vs. Notre Dame

Week 13 proved bittersweet for the Stanford Cardinal.

Results from other time zones effectively bounced them from the College Football Playoff, but the Cardinal won a rivalry game against No. 6 Notre Dame, 38-36.

The Irish scored what appeared to be the game-winning touchdown with 30 seconds to play, but Stanford kept its cool, drove 45 yards on five plays and won as time expired on a field goal by senior Conrad Ukropina:

Notre Dame outgained the Cardinal by more than 100 yards. It also returned a kickoff for a touchdown. The Irish outplayed Stanford in most situations but lost because of two major factors:

  1. Stanford Third-Down Offense: 8-for-12 (66%).
  2. Stanford Red-Zone Defense: Four Trips, 16 Points Allowed.

Great teams win even when they struggle. Stanford's defense struggled and then some. But the Cardinal still found a way to win.

The difference between this and Stanford's loss to Oregon—a game with a nearly identical box score and outcome—shows how far the Cardinal have come this season, and even over the past month.

Per ESPN's David Lombardi:

Stanford's red-zone offense was as good as its red-zone defense. It scored touchdowns on all five trips inside the Notre Dame 20-yard line, fixing a problem that has plagued it for years.

Fifth-year-senior quarterback Kevin Hogan, whose time in Palo Alto has been divisive, submitted one of his best performances, completing 17 of 21 passes for 269 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions. His last throw was likely his biggest, hitting Devon Cajuste up the seam for 27 yards and putting the Cardinal into field-goal range.

"I challenge anybody to find a better two-minute quarterback in the nation than Kevin Hogan," Stanford head coach David Shaw said after the game, per Lombardi.

After Saturday, it's hard to disagree.

The Cardinal have only a faint hope of making the playoff.

They could lobby for inclusion over Ohio State if the following happens:

  1. Stanford blows out USC in the Pac-12 Championship Game
  2. Florida beats Alabama in the SEC Championship Game
  3. Clemson blows out North Carolina in the ACC Championship Game
  4. Iowa beats Michigan State in the Big Ten Championship Game

The Buckeyes have one loss to Stanford's two. But because Stanford won a power conference while the Buckeyes lost their division, that would place them at No. 4 in a playoff that also includes Clemson, Iowa and Oklahoma.

Realistically, though, they should turn their focus away from the playoff. Even if those four things all occur, OSU might still (and probably would) rank ahead of them. The chance of all four things happening is slim enough. Why hold out hope for a long shot?

The Cardinal play USC next week with a chance to win the conference and make the Rose Bowl. They started this year outside the Associated Press Top 20—far from "Championship or Bust"—and scored six points in a Week 1 loss at Northwestern.

Look how far they've come in the 11 games since then. Look at the foundation they've laid for next year. No matter how you swing it, this season was a massive success.

Saturday was the cherry atop the sundae. 


Brian Leigh covers college football for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter at @BLeigh35

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Despite Playoff Long Shot, Stanford Shows Championship Quality vs. Notre Dame

Week 13 proved bittersweet for the Stanford Cardinal. Results from other time zones effectively bounced them from the College Football Playoff, but the Cardinal won a rivalry game against No...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

Notre Dame vs. Stanford: Game Grades, Analysis for Irish and Cardinal

The annual meeting between Notre Dame and Stanford is starting to get a reputation. Don't worry, it's a good one.

The Cardinal and Fighting Irish have developed their annual rivalry into a series filled with classic, last-minute victories that often come down to the final play. Saturday night's meeting was no different.

Just when it appeared Notre Dame was going to seal the victory with 30 seconds remaining by scoring what would have been the game-winning touchdown, Kevin Hogan led his team down the field to set up the game-winning field goal as time expired. Stanford won 38-36. 

A great game like this unfortunately has to have a loser, and this time it was Notre Dame. As a result, the Irish's College Football Playoff hopes have been dashed, while Stanford's slim chances are still alive.

Here is the box score via NCAA.com.

Fighting Irish Pass Offense

DeShone Kizer finished the game with 234 passing yards and a touchdown on a night when he was solid in the pocket. There weren't really any glaring errors, and the receiving corps did a fine job—certainly a better effort than what we saw against Boston College last week.

Will Fuller, who had just three catches each against Boston College and Wake Forest, had six receptions for 136 yards and a touchdown.

Kizer was accurate all night, and Notre Dame did a nice job of exploiting the yardage underneath when Stanford backed off to cover the deep threats posed by Chris Brown and Fuller.


Fighting Irish Run Offense

Kizer was also dynamic in the running game, racking up 128 yards and scoring the go-ahead touchdown with about 30 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter.

Josh Adams showed more of Notre Dame's depth at running back, putting up 168 yards on 18 carries and a touchdown.

The Irish totaled 299 yards on the ground. The Irish O-line imposed its will on the Stanford D-line for much of the night, and the Irish only had to punt twice all evening.


Fighting Irish Pass Defense

As great as the offense was for the Irish, the defense wasn't able to stop, or even slow, the Cardinal for long stretches of the game. Before halftime, Stanford's Kevin Hogan had already found the end zone three times through the air, and Notre Dame struggled to get off of the field on third down.

After halftime, both defenses did a bit better, but when it mattered most—in the final minute of the game—the Irish were just porous enough to allow Stanford to set up for the game-winning field goal.


Fighting Irish Run Defense

The run defense for the Irish gave up 3.6 yards per carry and a lone touchdown. Most nights, that's going to be enough to win the game. But when you're playing a Stanford team that goes 8-of-12 on third downs, little plays that seem harmless at the time can wear a defense down over time.

Stanford only punted four times, thanks in large part to Notre Dame being unable to stop Christian McCaffrey in short-yardage situations.


Fighting Irish Special Teams

One of the biggest plays of the night for the Irish came on Stanford's first kickoff after taking its opening possession for a touchdown. C.J. Sanders took the ensuing kickoff 93 yards for the score, tying the game at seven.

That also led to Notre Dame's defense staying on the field for all but two minutes of the first quarter.

Tyler Newsome was also back to his usual tricks, averaging better than 50 yards on his two punts.

Justin Yoon was a perfect 6-of-6 on the night (three field goals, three extra points).


Fighting Irish Coaching

Brian Kelly schemed his offense perfectly to exploit Stanford's defensive weakness on the perimeter.

Unfortunately, the Irish weren't able to make enough adjustments to their own depleted defense to stop the Cardinal in the second half.

This game had the feel of a back-and-forth battle, which gave us the sense that the team that got the ball last would have an excellent shot at winning the game. That turned out to be true, and it turned out to be Stanford.

In the end, Notre Dame's two losses came by a combined four points against two potential conference champions. A 10-2 record is nothing to hang one's head over, but it's also not the kind of record that earns an independent team a trip to the College Football Playoff.

Injuries certainly took their toll, and that's just a part of the game. But the fact that Notre Dame suffered through the number of injuries it did and still managed to win 10 regular-season games is amazing.

Cardinal Pass Offense

What can you say about Kevin Hogan's performance against Notre Dame?

First, the numbers: He was 17-of-21 for 269 yards and four touchdowns.

Hogan distributed the football to eight different receivers, but it was Devon Cajuste who was the true star of the game.

He made several spectacular catches on the night, but the most important one was a deep ball over the middle with less than 20 seconds left that put the Cardinal in field-goal range.

Cajuste ended with 125 yards on eight receptions, as the Fighting Irish had no answer for him.

To be fair, the coverage by Notre Dame wasn't all that terrible. Cajuste is just that much of a beast when going up for the football. He always seemed to be in the right spot, and Hogan always seemed to find him in the right spaces for critical yards.

The Hogan-to-Cajuste connection ran about as perfectly as one could expect in a game like this, and that was the difference between winning and losing for Stanford this time around.


Cardinal Run Offense

Stanford wasn't able to establish the run with any consistency for much of the night, but McCaffrey made his presence known in critical situations.

He totaled 94 yards on 27 carries, but his long on the night was for just 11 yards. Nevertheless, his reliability to pick up positive yardage on 3rd-and-short situations made him an invaluable part of Stanford's eventual victory.


Cardinal Pass Defense

Stanford shouldn't feel bad for getting torched by a guy like Fuller. There probably isn't a defensive back in the nation who can keep up with him.

Stanford should feel particularly proud of the way it schemed its defense around Fuller, though.

Minus Fuller's 73-yard touchdown reception, Stanford limited him to five catches for 63 yards. The Cardinal also threw enough wrinkles into the mix to force the Irish into running the football for much of the second half.

Notre Dame still did a nice job of moving the football on the ground, but the attack through the air was limited in large part to solid man coverage and double-teaming Fuller after halftime.


Cardinal Run Defense

The big defensive play for Stanford kept the Irish from scoring just prior to halftime, as the Cardinal recovered a Kizer fumble in the final minute of the second quarter.

Why was that recovery so crucial? Notre Dame could have built a solid lead after halftime as the Irish received the second half's opening kickoff.

Giving up nearly 300 yards on the ground (299), however, won't win too many accolades.

Suffice it to say that the Cardinal's rushing defense didn't win the game for Stanford.


Cardinal Special Teams

We could talk about punting or kickoff coverage, but really, who cares?

This game belonged to Conrad Ukropina, who kicked his only field goal of the night from 45 yards as time expired to give Stanford the two-point victory.

Despite everything else he's done, that was the one kick of his career he—and everyone else at Stanford—will always remember.


Cardinal Coaching

When David Shaw took over at Stanford, many expected the Cardinal to sink back down into the depths of the Pac-12 standings. Jim Harbaugh was gone. Andrew Luck was gone. What could Stanford possibly hope to accomplish after the glory days?

Shaw never bought into any of that. Not for a second.

Stanford has not only maintained its edge, but it's improved upon the solid, new foundation laid by guys such as Harbaugh. The Cardinal are again the class of the North Division, and Shaw could have his team competing for a national title this year in the College Football Playoff should the stars align.

Not only that, but he can match wits with the nation's best, like Brian Kelly, for 60 solid minutes and still emerge with a steely demeanor and ready for more.

The rest of the nation needs to take note: Stanford isn't going anywhere.


Unless otherwise noted, quotes or references to quotes were obtained firsthand by the writer.

Follow Bleacher Report's National College Football Featured Columnist David Luther on Twitter.

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Ole Miss' Resounding Egg Bowl Win the Epitome of Its Roller Coaster Season

Even the most turbulent of relationships don't match the affair that the Ole Miss Rebels have had with the college football landscape this fall. Their 38-27 Egg Bowl victory over the Mississippi State Bulldogs just encapsulated it. 

There was the 4-0 start that included a Sept. 19 victory over Alabama. The unquestioned highlight of the season will likely prove to be the shiniest bauble in the Christmas tree logjam that is the SEC, and every team's bid for a top-tier postseason bowl game. 

A 1-2 stretch followed with losses to both Florida and Memphis. 

Two straight victories, including a statement win on the road against Auburn, seemed to right the ship. Then there was the Arkansas fiasco. 

Now the Rebels are on the cusp of the Sugar Bowl, particularly with Florida's loss to Florida State on Saturday night. Should Alabama defeat the Gators in the SEC Championship Game—they'll undoubtedly be favored—the Sugar Bowl will take the second-rated SEC squad. 

This scenario was highlighted by ESPN's Edward Aschoff: 

It's looking like that's going to be the Rebels. Even though the Gators have the head-to-head advantage over the Rebels, the Ole Miss style of football is far more palatable to the College Football Playoff committee. That, the 2-0 versus 0-2 finish will likely tip the scales in favor of Ole Miss. 

It seems like forever ago that the Gators actually hung 38 points on the Rebels, as pointed out by Rick Cleveland, the director of the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame: 

But perhaps no play better encompasses this squad's up-and-down campaign that the 4th-and-25 backwards Hail Mary against Arkansas. 

Even Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze said after tonight's Egg Bowl title that, had that play not happened, his team could be Atlanta bound, per Parrish Alford of the Daily Journal: 

Arguably the only beacon on consistency has been quarterback and Clemson transfer Chad Kelly. With 236 yards through the air against the Bulldogs, he set the school record for most passing yards in a single season. 

One thing is clear, though. Love or hate the Rebels—fans in Oxford have probably felt both this season—the Rebels are likely Sugar Bowl bound, a destination Freeze and Co. believe they are worthy of attending.

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Oklahoma vs. Oklahoma State: Score, Highlights, Reaction for 2015 Bedlam Series

The Oklahoma Sooners are atop the Big 12 once again.

Thanks to 344 rushing yards between Samaje Perine, Joe Mixon and quarterback Baker Mayfield, the Sooners won the Big 12 championship by defeating the Oklahoma State Cowboys 58-23 on Saturday night in Stillwater, Oklahoma. The Sooners' official Twitter account celebrated the victory:

Oklahoma took the Stillwater crowd out of the game early thanks to a couple of big plays. After the Cowboys got on the board with a field goal, Alex Ross returned the ensuing kickoff 90 yards to the 4-yard line.

Mayfield found Sterling Shepard on the next play for a four-yard touchdown to help put the Sooners up 7-3. ESPN.com’s Jake Trotter provided the clip of Ross’ kick return that ignited the OU spark:

Despite J.W. Walsh responding on the next drive with a 26-yard touchdown to Jhajuan Seales and Oklahoma State taking a 10-7 lead, it was all Oklahoma the rest of the way.

Two possessions later, Oklahoma took the lead and never relinquished it again. Perine, on the first play of the drive, took a handoff to the right side and went untouched 68 yards for a touchdown to help give Oklahoma a 14-10 lead. That began a run of 27 unanswered points for Oklahoma.

Perine came into Saturday's game dealing with ankle issues, which put his status in question. ESPN.com's Max Olson saw the run and thought Perine's ankle looked fine:

You can watch the replay here, courtesy of Sooner Sports TV:

The Sooners again scored quickly on their next possession, as Mixon took a carry up the right sideline, thanks to a huge block at midfield, and went 66 yards for a touchdown to help give OU a 21-10 lead.

ESPN's College GameDay caught the end of the run as Mixon crossed the goal line:

Oklahoma scored 30 points in the second quarter and took a 44-20 halftime lead.

Perine and Mixon finished with 131 and 136 yards, respectively, and two touchdowns apiece, which helped take the pressure off Mayfield, who had to throw only 25 times for 180 yards and two touchdowns.

Walsh played well in relief of Mason Rudolph, who suffered an ankle injury and did not return. Known mostly for his running ability, Walsh threw for 325 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. James Washington caught seven passes for 169 yards and one of Walsh’s touchdowns, but it was Oklahoma State’s rushing attack that needed help.

Oklahoma outgained the Cowboys 344-132 on the ground Saturday.

The Bedlam game is one of the most intense rivalries in college football, but it's been one-sided. Oklahoma's official Twitter celebrated as the Sooners reclaimed bragging rights once again:

Two weeks ago, Oklahoma State was in the driver’s seat, having beaten the TCU Horned Frogs, and two wins away from a conference championship and a spot in the College Football Playoff. Now, the Cowboys have gone from being a playoff threat to possibly falling out of contention for a spot in a New Year's Six bowl.

With the Big 12 lacking a conference championship game, the Sooners' win over the Cowboys may have guaranteed them a spot in the CFP. They came into Saturday ranked No. 3 in the CFP rankings, and with no other game left on the schedule, it would take a meltdown from the committee for anything to change.

Postgame Reaction

Oklahoma was in trouble back on Oct. 10. That seems like a distant memory now.

Oct. 10 refers to the day the Sooners lost to the Texas Longhorns. It was supposed to be the end of the Sooners' Big 12 title hopes and potential College Football Playoff hopes.

Since then, the Sooners have won seven in a row and have scored over 40 points six times. Not only did they assert themselves back in the race over the last two months, but dominated en route to get to this point and have played well at the right time, and Dan Wolken of USA Today agrees:

The most remarkable aspect of the story, however, is the transformation Oklahoma made after its inexplicable loss to Texas back on Oct. 10. Since then, the Sooners have been an absolute handful and aside from the second half against TCU (without quarterback Baker Mayfield) have arguably been as impressive as any team in the country. They won't be the No. 1 seed, but they look like a team peaking at the right time.

Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops has now won nine Big 12 championships in the last 12 years. His job security was called into question after his Sooners lost to Clemsokn in the Russell Athletic Bowl last year by John E. Hoover of Tulsa World.

Now, he has his team two wins away from winning a national championship, and Stoops is clear of the task at hand, per B/R's Bryan Fischer:

It says a lot about where Oklahoma finished, especially with where they were supposed to finish. The Sooners were picked to finish third in the Big 12's preseason poll, behind TCU and Baylor.

Oklahoma proved everyone wrong, and Stoops wasn't afraid to admit it, per freelance journalist David Ubben:

Oklahoma State, on the other hand, was in the driver's seat. All it had to do was run the table and the Cowboys would be where Oklahoma is at, but the Cowboys couldn't have performed any more bad than they did the last two weeks.

First losing to Baylor's backup's backup quarterback, now to giving up a number of big plays to Oklahoma, the Cowboys' bowl status is up in the air. Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy thought his team didn't have enough left in the tank to make a substantial comeback, per Kyle Fredrickson of The Oklahoman:

Once the Sooners established their dynamic running attack, the Cowboys couldn't recover. It's been the strong point of Oklahoma's offense since that loss to Texas. Now that it's more evident than ever, like Wolken said, Oklahoma may have peaked at the right time.

That could be a scary thought for the other three teams in the Final Four.

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Notre Dame's Walkoff Loss to Stanford a Sad End to Impressive Regular Season

As Conrad Ukropina’s kick hurtled upward, crossed the bar and dropped to the ground, DeShone Kizer crumpled to the grass in unison with Notre Dame football’s College Football Playoff hopes.

Another two-point loss. On the road. Against a highly-ranked opponent.

Notre Dame bulldozed down the field on a remarkable—and potentially season-defining—15-play, 88-yard drive that chewed up six minutes and 18 seconds, not including the extra minute or so spent reviewing Kizer’s two-yard touchdown run on a gutsy bootleg call.

But 30 seconds later, Ukropina calmly drilled the 45-yard field goal, vaulted No. 9 Stanford to the 38-36 win and sent No. 6 Notre Dame to a 10-2 regular season.

Heartbreaking, for the Irish and their fans? Sure. Another last-second loss when victory seemed so tantalizingly close.

Disappointing? Absolutely. The Irish made their share of mistakes, Saturday and throughout the season.

Impressive? Inarguably.

Notre Dame won 10 games, including victories over Navy, USC, Temple and Pitt, and lost its other two by a combined four points to teams with a combined 22 regular-season wins. The Irish did it with 37 different starters. Nick Ironside of 247Sports shared head coach Brian Kelly's comments regarding his team's record:

They lost starting quarterback Malik Zaire and turned to DeShone Kizer, who’d been third on the spring depth chart. The late-season turnovers undoubtedly sting, but it’s worth remembering the plays Kizer did make.

How he stood in the pocket on 3rd-and-10 on the go-ahead drive Saturday, felt the free blitzer from his right and still delivered a strike to Corey Robinson on a crossing pattern for a first down. How, later on the same drive, he lowered his shoulder into Stanford star linebacker Blake Martinez on third down, as he did earlier this season against Temple’s Tyler Matakevich and Clemson’s Ben Boulware. How he raced to the left side for the go-ahead touchdown against the Cardinal.

They lost starting running back Tarean Folston in the first quarter of the season opener, turned C.J. Prosise into a 1,000-yard rusher and, when Prosise was hampered down the stretch, received 168 rushing yards from true freshman Josh Adams against Stanford—74 more than Cardinal Heisman hopeful Christian McCaffrey.

They lost starting nose tackle Jarron Jones in August and developed a sturdy sophomore in Daniel Cage, only to lose him to a concussion for some time in November. Yet there was Jerry Tillery, weeks removed from hitting the freshman wall, blowing up McCaffrey on 3rd-and-1 in the fourth quarter and forcing a Stanford punt.

In all, injuries to Zaire, Folston, Prosise, tight end Durham Smythe, top reserve lineman Alex Bars, Jones, safety Drue Tranquill and cornerback KeiVarae Russell kept Notre Dame, in part, from accomplishing its mission of a playoff berth.

That the Irish kept the mission intact, though, until the wee hours of Thanksgiving weekend is remarkable.

Notre Dame gained 533 yards of total offense against Stanford on Saturday. The Irish posted 36 points. Yet outside of Will Fuller and his 73-yard touchdown grab in the second quarter, who was expected to be a main contributor at the beginning of the season?

Not Adams and his 62-yard, third-quarter sprint.

Not Kizer and his 234 passing and 128 rushing yards.

Irish head coach Brian Kelly has preached a next-man-in mentality since he arrived in South Bend six years ago. And boy was it tested in 2015.

The realities of unexpected contributions, inexperienced starters and close losses don’t wash away the bitter taste of missed opportunities, of course.

The Irish committed four second-half turnovers in the October loss to No. 1 Clemson. They gave it away just once Saturday—when Kizer fumbled as Notre Dame was driving for points and a lead before halftime—but committed a slew of other miscues.

An offside call on Tillery gave the Cardinal a first down at the tail end of an early touchdown drive. A snap infraction turned a 4th-and-1 into 4th-and-6 and brought out the Irish field-goal unit. Devin Butler's missed tackle spurred a Cardinal touchdown with 48 seconds until halftime. Drops by Amir Carlisle and Will Fuller stalled drives and produced a field goal and punt, respectively. Poor coverage set Notre Dame killer WR Devon Cajuste free for a bevy of big catches.

It all added up to a loss Saturday.

But the season, which very well could’ve been, was not lost.


All quotes were obtained firsthand and all stats courtesy of CFBStats.com unless otherwise noted.

Mike Monaco is the lead Notre Dame writer for Bleacher Report. Follow @MikeMonaco_ on Twitter.

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Les Miles Will Remain as LSU Head Coach: Latest Details, Comments, Reaction

LSU Tigers head coach Les Miles' job is apparently safer than advertised. After a 19-7 LSU victory over the Texas A&M Aggies on Saturday, Tigers athletic director Joe Alleva emphasized that Miles would remain in his current position.

"Les Miles is our football coach, and he will continue to be our football coach," Alleva said, per ESPN.com's Brett McMurphy. Lyons Yellin of WWL-TV posted video footage of Alleva's announcement:

Per the Advocate's Ross Dellenger, Miles said he found out after the game that he'd continue coaching the Tigers.

Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports likened the bizarre situation surrounding Miles to the rogue coaching tactics that brought him the "Mad Hatter" nickname:

ESPN.com's Joe Schad added further context to LSU's decision:

Once his future was legitimately at stake, those who were deciding Miles' fate saw a change in him that inspired them to have a change of heart:

Schad had recently reported there was a "very good possibility" that LSU would buy out Miles' contract and that his tenure in Baton Rouge would be over. Jim Kleinpeter of NOLA.com had reported before Saturday's contest that Miles told the Tiger Gridiron Club he'd be coaching his final game.

Danny Kanell of ESPN was critical of LSU's apparent flip-flop on Miles' future: 

Miles took the helm in 2005, has never had a losing season with the Tigers and has had the team ranked inside the Top 10 of the Associated Press poll at some point every year.

LSU was in College Football Playoff contention for much of 2015 and finished the regular season with an 8-3 record. Miles guided the Tigers to a national championship after the 2007 campaign, so he has quite a resume of success.

The SEC is perceived as the toughest conference in the country, which explains why a coach carrying Miles' clout could conceivably be on the hot seat.

With star running back Leonard Fournette in the fold for 2016 and an incoming recruiting class that 247Sports ranks No. 2 in the nation, though, it's logical for the Tigers to keep the beloved Miles around.


Note: Coaching record courtesy of Sports-Reference.com.

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Florida State vs. Florida: Game Grades, Analysis for 'Noles and Gators

Jim McElwain resurrected the Florida football program and won the SEC East, but he couldn't get his team past Florida State, which invaded The Swamp and came away with a convincing 27-2 victory Saturday night.

The No. 13 Seminoles (10-2) used a strong defense and a relentless running game to wear down the No. 12 Gators (10-2), who totaled just 262 yards of offense. And while Florida State is done until the bowl game and Florida is headed for its conference title game, Jimbo Fisher made it clear he has the state's top team in 2015. 

Here's how both teams graded out from Saturday's action. 


Pass Offense

Sean Maguire had a hard time finding a rhythm against Florida's ferocious pass rush and elite secondary, but he made the plays he needed for the Seminoles. That was on display in the second quarter when he rolled right on 4th-and-goal from the 1-yard line and threw a dart across his body to Jeremy Kerr for a touchdown. Maguire completed 14 of 28 passes for 160 yards and one touchdown against no interceptions. 


Run Offense

Florida boasts one of the country's stingiest rush defenses, ranking seventh nationally and giving up 108.3 yards per game. The Seminoles had a hard time getting going against the Gators, as Dalvin Cook rushed for minus-one yard in the first quarter and 25 yards before the break. That changed in a big way in the second half, though, as Cook exploded in the fourth quarter, finishing with 183 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries. 


Pass Defense

Florida State wasn't facing much of a treat in Florida's Treon Harris, who has struggled since being thrust behind center. The Gators only gained a meager 64 yards on 22 pass attempts in the first half, and Harris finished the night completing 50 percent of his passes for 134 yards. 


Run Defense

Florida found a rhythm early as Kelvin Taylor ripped off an early 20-yard run, but Florida State's front seven settled in, allowing just 58 yards on the ground to close out the first half. The Gators were able to open some lanes for Taylor in the second half, who finished with 135 rushing yards, but the rest of the team combined to lose seven yards.


Special Teams

Roberto Aguayo was his usual remarkable self and registered the first points of the game when he drilled a 45-yard field goal early in the second quarter. He later knocked in a 51-yard field goal to put the Seminoles up by 13. Cason Beatty had an exceptional night punting the ball, averaging 47.6 yards on seven attempts, and Florida State made a huge play when it blocked an Austin Hardin field goal to open the fourth quarter.



Fisher knew that the Florida offense was going to have a hard time moving the ball against his defense, and he stayed aggressive on that side of the ball while doing just enough offensively to keep this one out of reach. The Gators just didn't have enough in the tank to keep pace with the Seminoles, and the staff didn't complicate things as FSU cruised to the easy victory.


Pass Offense

Demarcus Robinson's suspension was a huge blow to a passing attack that has struggled with Harris behind center, and it struggled against one of the best secondaries in college football. Harris threw for just 64 yards in the first half and finished the game with 134, completing only 50 percent of his passes with no touchdowns.


Run Offense

Taylor was the lone bright spot offensively as he rushed for 55 yards on nine carries in the first half. The Seminoles defense completely shut down the rest of the team, though, and it didn't get much better in the second half. Florida finished the night with 128 rushing yards on 40 carries, averaging 3.2 yards per attempt.  


Pass Defense

Maguire didn't torch the Florida secondary by any means, but he did enough to keep the chains moving in key situations and threw an incredible touchdown in the second quarter to put the Seminoles up by 10. The Gators only surrendered 160 yards through the air, and CeCe Jefferson came up with a huge sack and forced fumble late in the fourth quarter that resulted in a safety. 


Run Defense

Cook came into the game as one of the most productive running backs in the country, averaging 143.7 yards per game through 11 games. In the first half, though, Florida's defensive front limited him to 25 yards on eight carries, with 21 of those coming on one carry. But the Gators defense wore down in the second half, and Cook took advantage, running for 158 yards and two touchdowns in the second half.


Special Teams

Punter Johnny Townsend was arguably the team's best player against the Seminoles, averaging 46.4 yards on nine punts. He was a bright spot, but the Gators' place-kicking continued to be a huge liability as Hardin badly missed a 51-yard attempt at the end of the first half and had another kick blocked at the beginning of the fourth. 



It's hard to blame McElwain too much for the loss because the Gators were just too depleted and outgunned to have a legitimate chance of taking down the Seminoles. Florida found a rhythm offensively when it went uptempo in the second half, but it wasn't enough to get it out of the modest hole it was buried in. 

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2015 Egg Bowl: Game Grades, Analysis for Ole Miss vs. Mississippi State

The No. 18 Ole Miss Rebels (9-3, 6-2) won the 112th edition of the Egg Bowl with a 38-27 victory over the No. 21 Mississippi State Bulldogs (8-4, 4-4) Saturday night in Starkville, Mississippi.

Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelly was terrific, passing for 236 yards and two touchdowns while also rushing for 74 yards and another score. Overall, the Rebels finished with 479 yards of total offense.   

Pass Offense: Kelly was outstanding all night, but especially in the first half when he completed 80 percent of his passes and rushed for more than 50 yards. He was good in the second half and most importantly took care of the football and did not turn it over. 

Run Offense: Kelly, Jaylen Walton and Jordan Wilkins combined to help the Rebels rush for 243 yards and two touchdowns. Most of Ole Miss' rushing yards came in the second half when Walton and Wilkins took over. 

Pass Defense: Ole Miss had a pick-six in the first half and made Dak Prescott throw underneath the entire evening. The Rebels, led by Robert Nkemdiche, sacked Prescott seven times. 

Run Defense: The defense allowed 148 yards on 34 carries, but much of it was Prescott scrambling when his receivers were covered. Mississippi State did not have a strong running game, especially in the first 30 minutes. 

Special Teams: The Rebels averaged just 22.7 yards per punt; fortunately, they only had to punt three times. Kicker Gary Wunderlich missed two chip shots before hitting a 48-yarder in the second half. Ole Miss had nine total return yards. 

Coaching: The Rebels had an excellent offensive game plan. They came out throwing the football, which allowed Kelly to make some plays with his legs. Defensively, Ole Miss made Prescott try to beat the defense with short throws. He couldn't.  

Pass Offense: Prescott finished with 254 yards passing, but much of that was in the second half. MSU's receivers struggled to gain separation, which forced Prescott to run more often than he would have liked. Mississippi State's offensive line allowed seven sacks. 

Run Offense: Prescott led the Bulldogs with 63 yards rushing and a touchdown. That's normal. While Brandon Holloway finished with 55 yards—most of it in the second half—the game was already out of reach. 

Pass Defense: The Bulldogs' pass defense was overmatched in the first half. However, they did a much better job in the second half. There wasn't enough pressure on Kelly, though. Ole Miss' stud receiver, Laquon Treadwell, had just four catches for 22 yards. MSU did a nice job of containing him. 

Run Defense: Mississippi State struggled to stop the run all night. Kelly beat the Bulldogs in the first half, while the running backs took over in the second half. Too often when Ole Miss needed a few yards, it easily attained them. 

Special Teams: Westin Graves hit both of his field goals, and Logan Cooke averaged 49 yards per punt. The Bulldogs were outstanding in coverage. Fred Ross had a nice punt return to set up Mississippi State's first touchdown in the third quarter. 

Coaching: The Bulldogs were behind from the start and never showed a sense of urgency. That's on Dan Mullen. Defensive coordinator Manny Diaz didn't make any adjustments until the third quarter. When he decided to send additional pressure on Kelly, it worked. Where was this earlier in the game? 

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FSU vs. Florida: Score, Highlights and Twitter Reaction from 2015 Florida Cup

The No. 13 Florida State Seminoles aren’t headed to the ACC Championship Game or College Football Playoff, but they pushed forth a convincing finish with a 27-2 road win in the season finale over the No. 12 Florida Gators.

Dashing their archrival’s national title hopes was merely a consolation prize, as ESPN showed:

The Gators were on the brink of their first shutout since 1988, but they saved face when defensive end Cece Jefferson forced a fumble and safety halfway through the fourth quarter.

Florida never turned the ball over, but quarterback Treon Harris was limited to just 134 yards on 19-of-38 passing. Running back Kelvin Taylor churned out 136 yards, but he found himself in the shadow of Seminoles star Dalvin Cook, who turned in 183 yards and two touchdowns.

Cook strengthened his case for belonging among the nation’s elite at his position, as noted by Wes Durham of the ACC Network:

Had he avoided injury earlier this season and were his team in the national title race, Cook likely would be in the thick of the Heisman Trophy discussion. ESPN's Danny Kanell pondered the same thing:

The game shaped up as a defensive duel early, going scoreless until Roberto Aguayo notched a 45-yard field goal early in the second quarter to give the Seminoles a 3-0 lead.

Quarterback Sean Maguire connected for a one-yard touchdown pass to Jeremy Kerr on Florida State’s next drive to push the lead to 10-0. Aguayo added another 51-yard boot in the third, building on what was already a comfortable cushion.

Maguire wasn’t much better than Harris—finishing 14-of-28 for 160 yards and a touchdown—but he never turned the ball over and leaned on a stout defense for support. His lone score was a prayer, as Dr. Saturday of Yahoo Sports tweeted, but he connected nonetheless:

The Seminoles were eliminated from playoff contention with their second loss to No. 1 Clemson in Week 10 to compound a gut-wrenching defeat of miraculous proportion to Georgia Tech two weeks prior.

Had a few plays gone the other way, it could be the Seminoles playing No. 14 North Carolina in next week’s ACC Championship Game, perhaps as an unbeaten and for a playoff spot. However, they’ll have to settle for a respectable bowl game, possibly even pushing into the new year.

The Gators will stumble into next week’s SEC Championship Game vs. No. 2 Alabama as the representative of a beleaguered East Division. But the Gators weren’t expected to return to college football’s elite so quickly.

Under first-year head coach Jim McElwain, Florida reached heights many thought were far out of reach. Though a tough finish—just a week removed from a narrow 20-14 win over 3-9 Florida Atlantic—the Gators still have a shot at the nation's toughest conference's crown. The future appears bright in Gainesville.


Postgame Reaction

FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher led the Seminoles to the 2013 national title and an undefeated regular season a year later. Yet the resolve in this year’s crew ranks among the highest he’s been around, per David Visser of Tomahawk Nation:

McElwain insisted that despite Harris' performance, there were never any discussions to replace him, per Zach Abolverdi of the Gainesville Sun:

The first-year head coach also believes his defensive unit is among the nation’s best, according to Kevin Brockway of the Gainesville Sun, which should shape an interesting matchup next week against Alabama’s Heisman favorite—Derrick Henry:

Speaking of the sport’s most prestigious award, Fisher questioned why Cook’s name doesn’t rank with Henry and LSU’s Leonard Fournette among top candidates, per Bud Elliott of Tomahawk Nation:

Fisher advanced to 5-1 against Florida, though given McElwain’s promising start, this rivalry seems on course to reach exciting heights in the coming years.

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Notre Dame vs. Stanford: Score, Highlights and Twitter Reaction

The Stanford Cardinal dashed the Notre Dame Fighting Irish's College Football Playoff hopes en route to a 38-36 victory at Stanford Stadium on Saturday.

A high-scoring, back-and-forth affair in the 2015 battle for the Legends Trophy featured more methodical marches from the Cardinal and a number of explosive scoring plays from the Irish. Both teams staged final drives for the ages, but Stanford had the ball last and emerged with the glory.

Senior Cardinal kicker Conrad Ukropina drilled a 45-yard field goal right down the middle as time expired to send fans into a frenzy.

Sophomore Irish quarterback DeShone Kizer showed exceptional poise as a passer to position the Irish for a late score. Kizer took it upon himself to finish the drive, barely getting in the end zone on a bootleg, two-yard touchdown run with 30 seconds left.

The Kizer touchdown wasn't without controversy, though. CBSSports.com's Pete Prisco tossed out a conspiracy theory as to why Kizer wasn't marked short of the goal line:

Peter King of the MMQB lamented the lack of technology to determine the authenticity of Kizer's score:

That set the stage for senior Stanford signal-caller Kevin Hogan to air it out and devastate Notre Dame's secondary.

Hogan wound up going 17-of-21 through the air for 269 yards and four scores. He had a key 27-yard strike to Devon Cajuste on the last possession, as shown by Stanford Football:

Also aided by a 15-yard facemask penalty, the Cardinal put forth a magnificent charge to position Ukropina for the winner.

Stanford Heisman Trophy hopeful Christian McCaffrey (27 carries, 94 yards, 3.48 YPC) was held in relative check for much of the evening—a credit to an Irish front seven, headlined by star linebacker Jaylon Smith.

Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports applauded Smith's efforts in slowing McCaffrey, who set the Pac-12 record for all-purpose yards in a season, per Stanford Football:

Hogan waged a thrilling quarterback duel with Kizer, who had 234 yards passing and ran for 128. Both field generals fearlessly attacked with downfield throws, but no matter what Kizer and the visitors did, Stanford always seemed to have the upper hand.

But that doesn't mean Notre Dame didn't put up a valiant fight. After Hogan marched the Cardinal on a touchdown drive to start the contest, C.J. Sanders took the ensuing kickoff 93 yards to the house.

After settling for two second-quarter field goals inside 30 yards, Kizer found lethal deep threat Will Fuller on a 73-yard bomb for a touchdown with two minutes and 15 seconds left in the opening half, as shown by Fox Sports:

The Cardinal responded by going 75 yards in only four plays, aided by a 38-yard Hogan completion to Cajuste and capped by Michael Rector's 14-yard catch-and-run, as illustrated by Pac-12 Networks:

Although a long Kizer run had the Irish in position to tack more points on the board before the break, he fumbled the ball away while stepping up in the pocket at the Stanford 22, which was ultimately an expensive mistake.

As Pat Forde of Yahoo Sports humorously hinted, though, Kizer has been exceptional overall after beginning the season as his team's No. 2 quarterback:

Momentum continued to swing side to side between a third Justin Yoon field goal in the third quarter, followed by Stanford running back Remound Wright's one-yard touchdown leap and Irish freshman Josh Adams' electric 62-yard run.

As Stanford Football showed, the savvy, pro-style schematics allowed the Cardinal to execute in the red zone, highlighted by Hogan's fourth touchdown throw, this time to Austin Hooper for 10 yards:

Kizer finally punched it in when it mattered most but could only watch from the sidelines as Hogan's heroics stunned the Irish defense.

Comcast SportsNet's John Middlekauff did a fitting tribute to both teams before the captivating conclusion fully unfolded:

With the way the current CFP system stands, the Irish would have been alive and well-suited for a Top Four berth if they'd won. Absent a conference championship game and any remaining contests to bolster its resume, though, Notre Dame's season is over but for a consolatory bowl game.

Coach Brian Kelly can take solace in how his Irish fought through numerous injuries and still had an outside chance at contending for a national championship. There are plenty of positives to build on going forward.

With two losses on its record, Stanford doesn't have a realistic chance to join the CFP either. Nevertheless, the Cardinal have a bright future to look forward to and a high standard of play to live up to under center for whomever succeeds Hogan.

Following a legend like Andrew Luck was no easy task, but Hogan acquitted himself quite well, picking up the slack when McCaffrey wasn't as much of a factor as he usually is. Up-and-down as Hogan's tenure was at Stanford, he definitely went out with a bang in front of the home fans and will be fondly remembered overall, as he helped his cause a ton in Saturday's epic game.


Postgame Reaction

Hogan had won a Rose Bowl and two conference titles in his career. However, Hogan said no individual game carried greater weight than Saturday's, per Pac-12 Networks' Michael Yam:

When asked about Stanford being the Pac-12's best hope at the playoffs, Cardinal head coach David Shaw had an interesting reply, saying, per SI.com's Brian Hamilton, "We represent Stanford. We're not carrying anybody."

On the other side, Kelly was left to wonder what could have been.

"We are two plays away from being undefeated and the [No. 1] team in the country," said Kelly, per WNDU-TV's Angelo Di Carlo.

The Notre Dame boss did find a silver lining in the form of his 2016 quarterback depth chart, which will feature Malik Zaire and Kizer, adding, "I'm sitting on a pretty good quarterback situation next year if I don't screw it up."

A quarterback controversy and perception of having a loaded team wasn't necessarily a good thing for Ohio State this year, as the reigning national champion struggled to decide between Cardale Jones and J.T. Barrett. 

The Buckeyes also lost a special vertical threat to the NFL in Devin Smith, which may well be the case with Notre Dame's Fuller, a junior who's therefore eligible for the 2016 draft.

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Pac 12 Championship Game 2015: Date, Start Time for Stanford vs. USC

Stanford (10-2, 8-1) played one of its best games in sending Notre Dame to a 38-36 defeat Saturday night, and now it's time for the North Division-winning Cardinal to play for the the Pac-12 championship.

They will get their opportunity to bring home the conference championship against a resurgent USC (8-4, 6-3) squad, winners of the South Division.


Date: Saturday, Dec. 5

Kickoff Time (ET):  7:45 p.m.

Levi's Stadium, Santa Clara, California


Live Stream: ESPN.go.com


After beating UCLA in the regular-season finale, the Trojans have the kind of momentum that eluded them most of the season. 

The win was especially satisfying for the Trojans because it snapped a three-game losing streak against the Bruins. 

Quarterback Cody Kessler led the way to the victory with two TD passes and another TD run. The Trojans will be playing the Pac-12 title game for the first time.

"I lost it a little bit up there at the end," Kessler told reporters after the victory (h/t ESPN.com). "It's the way you want to go out. It was tough walking off that field for the last time, but that was the way I wanted to do it."

Cody Kessler says going to the Pac-12 title game is exciting but they don't want to overlook Stanford. He also credited Kevin Hogan's play.

— Reign of Troy (@ReignofTroy) November 29, 2015

If the Trojans are going to beat the Cardinal, Kessler will have to be at his best. He has thrown for 3,128 yards and 27 touchdowns this season with just six interceptions.

Kessler will also rely on running back Justin Davis, who has rushed for 776 yards and two touchdowns this season. He has been especially hot lately, running for 271 yards in his last two games.

Sophomore JuJu Smith-Schuster is the best of USC's receivers. He has caught 74-1,302-10 this season, and the Cardinal will be hard-pressed to slow him down.

The USC defense will be forced to contend with Stanford quarterback Kevin Hogan, who has enjoyed an excellent season in throwing for 2,500 yards with 23 touchdowns and just seven interceptions.

Hogan was at his best against the Irish, completing 17 of 21 passes for 269 yards with four touchdowns. He led the last-second drive that allowed PK Conrad Ukropina to connect on the game-winning 45-yard field goal at the gun.

"It's the No. 1 moment of my career," Hogan told Fox Sports' Molly McGrath. "We have a big game next week against an excellent team and we just have to keep on stacking wins together."

Kick is good. Stanford wins. What a game. Playoff picture rather clear now, unless crazy stuff happens next week.

— Pat Forde (@YahooForde) November 29, 2015

Stanford also relies heavily on running back Christian McCaffrey, who has had a remarkable season with 1,640 yards and seven touchdowns.

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