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College Football Week 8: Get Hyped for Saturday

College Football Saturday Week 8 is about to kick off, and there are tons of intense matchups and storylines to follow and get excited for. Continuing to watch the greatness of Heisman front-runner Leonard Fournette is just one of the many things to get hyped about for Week 8.

Will the Michigan State Spartans stay perfect after their miracle win last week? Will Utah survive a trip to Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum to face USC?

Watch the video above as we preview all the action for this week of college football. 

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Khalid Kareem Commits to Notre Dame: Irish Get Another Reliable DE Pledge

Pieces of the puzzle seemed to fit more and more with Notre Dame and Farmington, Michigan, 4-star defensive end Khalid Kareem with every passing second.

When Kareem decommitted from Alabama on Oct. 14, he opened the door for other schools to recruit him. When his father, Ken, announced that he set his official visit to Notre Dame shortly after the decommitment, it made some scratch their heads. After all, Notre Dame was one of the finalists when he originally chose Alabama, the others being in-state schools Michigan and Michigan State.

When Kareem and his family made it to Notre Dame and took in the game atmosphere against USC, as well as the academic environment and overall student atmosphere, the mood was set for the Irish to close. Everything was in the Irish's favor—good football, good academics, steady tradition.

Consider it done Friday afternoon. Kareem announced via Twitter that he verbally committed to Notre Dame, becoming the Irish's 17th overall pledge and the top-ranked defensive pledge.

Kareem's verbal is a huge win for Brian Kelly and the Notre Dame staff. Recruited by Kelly, defensive line coach Keith Gilmore and defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder, Kareem chose Notre Dame over 36 other reported offers coast to coast.

At 6'4" and 260 pounds, Kareem is the nation's No. 9 strong-side defensive end and a catalyst for Harrison High School. He is looking to either duplicate or trump a junior season that included 85 tackles and 18 sacks last year. He has good size and speed off the snap. Physically, he looks the part, and he will be called upon to be a defensive leader early in his career.

Ken Kareem told 247Sports' Tom Loy that a positive visit to Notre Dame included getting a chance to know VanGorder. Notre Dame showed that Kareem was a primary target by showing up to Harrison four days after the USC game.

"He seems really straightforward," Ken Kareem told Loy about VanGorder. "He's going to push his guys and get them to the right place and get the most out of his players.

"Oddly enough, he's from our area. VanGorder went to West Bloomfield. He knows the area and knows where we are from and relates well with us."

Kareem originally committed to Alabama in June, but his pledge to Notre Dame means the Irish have reliable bookends on both sides of the defensive line. Charlotte 4-star weak-side defensive end Julian Okwara committed to Notre Dame in April. The Irish also have a defensive end pledge in Walled Lake, Michigan, 3-star Adetokunbo Ogundeji.

The good news for Notre Dame is that Kareem may be finished with official visits. Ken Kareem told Loy that the family after last week's trip had been discussing whether or not to take additional visits.

"There are a couple of schools we wanted to go to before, but we are starting to lean toward Notre Dame," Ken Kareem said on Thursday. "We didn't want to rush anything, and that's why there was no commitment or anything this weekend.

"We just want to properly evaluate everything and not rush it at all. At the same time, though, he's going to enroll early, so regarding a timetable, that would be by the end of the month."

That recruiting timetable came Friday, and Notre Dame scored another big-time defensive get. Look for Kareem to be an immediate impact player and a menace for offensive units in both rushing and passing situations.

 

Damon Sayles is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. All player ratings are courtesy of 247Sports' composite ratings. Follow Damon via Twitter: @DamonSayles

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Khalid Kareem to Notre Dame: Fighting Irish Land 4-Star DE Prospect

Notre Dame has scored a big-time recruit for 2016, as defensive end Khalid Kareem will be the newest member of the Fighting Irish next season. 

Irish Sports Daily reported Kareem's commitment to Notre Dame. Kareem then followed that up with a tweet explaining his decision:

He has had a whirlwind recruiting road.

The Michigan native announced in June that he was going to the University of Alabama. But less than two weeks ago, per Perry A. Farrell and James Jahnke of the Detroit Free Press, he decommitted from Alabama to stay closer to home:

After careful consideration and a lot of heart felt talks with my mother. In my families best interest we've informed the Coaches that I am decommitted from the University of Alabama at this time. Thank you to Coach Saban and Coach Williams and Coach Tosh for everything you've taught me a long the way. Thank you to the entire Crimson Tide family and community.

Now, the Fighting Irish get to reap the rewards. Kareem is rated as a 4-star prospect and No. 9 strong-side defensive end by 247Sports after racking up 85 tackles and 18 sacks in 2014.

Per 247Sports' team recruiting rankings, his commitment gives Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly 17 total commitments for 2016 and the 13th-ranked class. 

Kareem is built like a college football defensive lineman already at 6'4" and 260 pounds, so that pass-rushing prowess should have no problem carrying over.

The Fighting Irish have recruited and developed strong defenders recently, notably Jaylon Smith this year. Kareem is the latest addition to the deep Kelly recruiting pool and will be a staple of the defense very soon. 

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Cold Hard Fact for Friday, October 23, 2015

Fact: Temple football is 7-0 for the first time in school history. 

Bleacher Report will be bringing sports fans the most interesting and engaging Cold Hard Fact of the day, presented by Coors Light.

Source: ESPN Stats & Info

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Can a Wide Receiver Realistically Win the Heisman Trophy This Year?

West Virginia Mountaineers head coach Dana Holgorsen knows wide receivers. Among the wideouts he's connected to are Wes Welker, Michael Crabtree, Justin Blackmon and Kevin White. 

So when Holgorsen said Baylor wide receiver Corey Coleman was "the best player in college football" last Saturday, well, maybe we all need to listen.

But could Coleman actually be named college football's best player by winning the Heisman Trophy? For that matter, why not include TCU's Josh Doctson, who leads college football with 152.4 receiving yards per game, in the Heisman loop? 

For as impressive as those two have been, it's an uphill battle. Some wideouts have gotten close in recent years. For instance, Alabama's Amari Cooper finished third in the voting last year, but the last wide receiver to win the Heisman was Michigan's Desmond Howard in 1991.  

But it's important to first know why Holgorsen said what he said. In other words, why is Coleman, who had 10 catches for 199 yards and three touchdowns in a 62-38 win over the Mountaineers, being mentioned in the Heisman race?

The numbers say it all. Coleman is third nationally in receiving yards (877), but he leads the country with 16 touchdowns, a Baylor single-season record, through six games. He's on pace to shatter the NCAA FBS record of 27 single-season touchdown grabs previously held by Louisiana Tech's Troy Edwards in 1998. 

Coleman scores a touchdown at an astounding rate of once every 2.6 catches. He's been rarely utilized in the second half of games this year, with just seven receptions, presumably because Baylor has had things under control by halftime. However, he has four touchdowns on those seven catches, and all four are of at least 25 yards. 

We could dissect the numbers further, but you get the point. Coleman is a touchdown machine, and he does it all without contributing much on special teams.

It's a similar story for Doctson, who averages 8.6 catches per game and a more "modest" 5-to-1 touchdown-to-catch ratio. Their styles are different, however. Whereas Coleman is best in the open field—Holgorsen compared Coleman's skill set to Tavon Austin's, per ESPN.com's Jake Trotter—Doctson shines when he's making a play on a jump ball and being physical. 

Differences aside, Coleman and Doctson are two of the most outstanding wideouts in college football and likely the 1A and 1B selections, in either order, for the Biletnikoff Award, given annually to the top receiver.

The Heisman consideration both players are receiving starts there, but does it also end there? 

Versatility is virtually a necessity for non-quarterbacks and some running backs in the Heisman race because it boosts value. Since they don't touch the ball on every play, or even most plays, skill players have to show dominance elsewhere. LSU running back Leonard Fournette, the current odds-on favorite to win the Heisman, per OddsShark.com, is the exception. 

But so, too, are Coleman and Doctson. It's for that reason they're in the immediate Heisman conversation at all. 

However, therein lies the pertinent issue: Pointing solely to a wide receiver's stats becomes tricky relative to the quarterback. A running back, like Fournette, may put up big numbers in part because he's given running lanes by his offensive line—the other part is Fournette is as physical a runner as you'll find in college football—but the two don't share stats in the same way a quarterback and receiver do.

Is a wideout putting up big numbers because he's that good, or does he have a great quarterback getting him the ball? After all, a quarterback's numbers will inherently be better than his wide receiver's. In the cases of Coleman and Doctson, it's somewhere right in the middle. 

Splitting credit is no way to win the Heisman, though. How, then, do players like Coleman and Doctson prove they're more valuable than their quarterbacks, Seth Russell and Trevone Boykin, respectively? Russell and Boykin are legitimate Heisman contenders, too. 

There's no easy answer, but the simplest way is to look at how much a quarterback shares the wealth among his receivers. Plenty of quarterbacks put up video game-type numbers, but not every wide receiver does, both nationally and relative to the rest of the team.

For instance, Coleman is responsible for one out of every three receptions Baylor has made this season and has twice as many catches as the next-leading receiver, Jay Lee. Similarly, Doctson also is responsible for one out of every three catches for TCU. However, the numbers thin dramatically beyond him. The Frogs' next-leading receiver, KaVontae Turpin, has 18 catches, meaning Doctson has more than three times the number of grabs. 

While wideouts like Texas A&M's Christian Kirk, USC's JuJu Smith-Schuster, Bowling Green's Roger Lewis and Notre Dame's Will Fuller have been outstanding this year, none boast the same level of percentages or overall numbers as Coleman and Doctson. Furthermore, Coleman and Doctson are on playoff-caliber teams. That matters, like it or not. Only Kirk and Fuller can say the same.  

But the best news for Coleman and Doctson as it pertains to the Heisman conversation going forward is that neither has played against his best competition. The Big 12 in the month of November is an absolute cage fight for supremacy. Below is the schedule in which the top four teams in the Big 12—Baylor, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and TCU—all play one another:

For Coleman and Doctson, that means they'll have opportunities to either keep pace with their numbers or have their best games against the best teams. 

Stewart Mandel accurately called the Heisman race a "a horse race," in which timing is a key component. For every Geno Smith, the former West Virginia quarterback who "won" the Heisman in September of 2012, there's a Johnny Manziel who cements himself as the real Heisman winner later in the year. 

Along those lines, for Coleman or Doctson to have a real shot, Fournette needs to fall back a bit, if not entirely off the face of the earth. Good luck there. 

Still, Coleman and Doctson are more than just dark horses now. When Baylor and TCU face off in Fort Worth on Nov. 27, the main storyline could involve playoff implications. But there could also be Heisman votes on the line, and not necessarily for the players you'd think. 

 

Ben Kercheval is a lead writer for college football. All quotes cited unless obtained firsthand. All stats courtesy of cfbstats.com

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Teams to Watch After 5-Star DE Oluwole Betiku Decommits from UCLA

Less than 12 hours after picking up a pivotal Pac-12 victory over the California Golden Bears, the UCLA Bruins suffered a substantial in-state recruiting loss. 

Oluwole Betiku, a 5-star Los Angeles County defensive end rated No. 1 overall among California high school seniors in composite rankings, announced his decommitment Friday morning. 

"I have decided to open up my recruiting," he tweeted. "It is in my best interest to take my time with the recruiting process and weigh my options carefully, it's a lifetime decision and I pray God guides me to make the best decision."

The 6'3 ½", 240-pound Junipero Serra High School standout initially pledged to UCLA in August. Despite immigrating to America just two years ago, Betiku quickly rose to prominence as a premier playmaker with the Southern California powerhouse. 

He's secured 103 tackles—42 for loss—and 21 sacks through 19 career varsity games since arriving from Nigeria in 2013, per MaxPreps. Those totals include 18 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks through eight contests this season.

“I feel like nothing is stopping me from being the No. 1 player,” Betiku told Bleacher Report's Sanjay Kirpalani earlier this year. “I’m strong, I’m fast. I’m just not versatile. Even though last year was my first year playing, I’m still hard on myself. Those guys shouldn’t be better than me out there.”

He may not sit atop national rankings just yet—though he's within striking distance at 11th overall—but Betiku is considered the top weak-side defensive end prospect in the 2016 cycle. His decision deals the Bruins' latest recruiting efforts quite a blow.

Head coach Jim Mora must move forward without a prospect who presents immediate-impact promise at a key position. Betiku, still very much in the early stages of his physical and fundamental development as a pass rusher, leaves UCLA with 18 commitments in a 2016 recruiting class that dropped from 12th to 16th in national composite rankings following his departure.

Several alternative suitors already emerged during the first half of this season, presenting an array of possible landing spots. The coveted defender visited a pair of programs earlier this month and plans to explore more campuses in coming weeks. 

The Florida State Seminoles and Texas A&M Aggies welcomed him to town for recent matchups, providing impressive sales pitches. 

Betiku watched the Seminoles remain unbeaten Oct. 10 against the Miami Hurricanes and left Tallahassee feeling charged up about the experience.

"I had a great trip, it was even better than I expected," he told Greg Biggins of Scout.com. "The highlight of the visit for me had to be the game day atmosphere. The fan support is incredible and I loved all the chants and watching them do the tomahawk chop."

Betiku plans to watch Florida State again in November when the team travels to Gainesville for its annual matchup with the Florida Gators. Florida is set to host Betiku for an official visit that weekend, creating the possibility for two legitimate long-distance contenders in the Sunshine State.

SEC quarterbacks should hope he doesn't ultimately sign with Texas A&M, where superstar sophomore defensive end Myles Garrett already wreaks havoc. The top-ranked defensive end recruit in 2014 has totaled 19.5 sacks in his young career and projects as a potential top-tier NFL draft pick two years from now, though he would share the line with Betiku in College Station for at least one season.

Aggies defensive assistant Terry Price has played a important role in this recruitment process.

"He's a great DL coach but more than that, he's a great guy," Betiku told Biggins. "Everyone I talked with said Coach Price is the man there and he'll take care of you and I definitely feel like he could get the most out of me and help get me to the NFL."

LSU defensive line coach Ed Orgeron, who previously scouted the Los Angeles area for the USC Trojans, is another recruiter who could make inroads. LSU is lining up quite a 2016 defensive haul and may emerge as a dark-horse contender for Betiku's signature.

Notre Dame is another program to monitor as things progress. The Fighting Irish expect to host him Nov. 14 when the Wake Forest Demon Deacons visit, per Biggins, putting head coach Brian Kelly's squad in the mix for yet another elite defensive prospect. 

Expect Betiku to finalize his remaining travel schedule in the near future, though UCLA isn't likely to walk away from the situation without a fight.

There's also the possibility of nearby USC making a late push, depending on how things shake out with the Trojans' coaching situation. It's important to note Junipero Serra has been an extremely beneficial recruiting pipeline for the program in past cycles.

With one of the nation's most compelling prospects back on the open market, anticipate plenty of intrigue en route to signing day.

 

Tyler Donohue is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. All player ratings are courtesy of 247Sports' composite rankings. Follow Tyler via Twitter: @TDsTake.

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5 in 24 Hours: 2017 WR Mannie Netherly Picks Up SEC, Pac-12, B1G Offers

Having double-digit offers isn't something every college football recruit gets to experience. 2017 wide receiver Mannie Netherly is one of those fortunate athletes.

Netherly also is an athlete who can say a third of his offers came in less than a 24-hour span.

The Crosby, Texas, wide receiver watched his offer list jump from 10 to 15 from Wednesday evening to late Thursday afternoon—the five new offers came from the SEC, Pac-12 and Big Ten. He earned an Arizona State offer early Wednesday evening, then landed a Texas A&M offer shortly afterward.

Thursday morning, Michigan State offered Netherly. He finished Thursday with afternoon offers from Missouri and Colorado.

Just like that, the 6'2", 180-pound prospect was an athlete preparing to knock on the door of 20 offers.

"It's a blessing," Netherly said. "As a kid, I only dreamed of having all these offers. Now that's finally happened, I can say all my hard work is paying off. I'm just staying humble, and I'm going to keep working hard."

Crosby is becoming more of a recruiting hotbed in Texas. Wide receiver Raelon Singleton is a redshirt freshman for a Utah team fighting for a College Football Playoff spot, and twins Aston and Austin Walter are redshirt freshmen at Rice. Keenan Murphy, a 3-star offensive guard and teammate of Netherly, committed to Houston in July.

Netherly thinks of Singleton as a big brother and has been watching him perform for quite some time. In fact, Netherly considers him a role model and wants to have a similar process.

If it means anything, Netherly already has caught Singleton in offers. Singleton had 13 reported offers before heading to Utah.

"Raelon and I grew up together. We've been cool for forever," Netherly said. "When I see a close friend like that make it, it really motivates you to do the same."

Netherly has been impressive on the football field this season. After recording 16 receptions for 228 yards and three touchdowns as a sophomore, Netherly is putting up huge numbers as a junior. Per the Houston Chronicle, Netherly has 29 catches for 603 yards and 13 touchdowns. He's almost averaging a touchdown every two catches and is averaging roughly 21 yards per reception.

Netherly said he's far from making any decisions regarding his recruitment, but he did admit to one offer in particular catching his attention.

"That Texas A&M offer surprised me," said Netherly, who has made a couple of unofficial visits to College Station this year. "When they called and offered, I got to speak to [head] Coach [Kevin] Sumlin. That was electric. I didn't get to sleep until about 1 in the morning."

Netherly added that he's a fan of all of his offers—and he's hoping to receive a few more in the upcoming weeks. Along with the quintet of offers Wednesday and Thursday, Netherly has offers from Texas Tech, Nebraska, BYU, SMU and others.

 

Damon Sayles is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. All quotes were obtained firsthand. All player ratings are courtesy of 247Sports' composite ratings. Follow Damon via Twitter: @DamonSayles.

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