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NCAA Football Rankings 2015: Top Reaction to Week 13 College Polls and Standings

A mere two weeks remain in college football’s regular season before the postseason is set, with rivalry week ahead followed by conference championship games that will (hopefully) sort out the politics in determining the College Football Playoff participants.

The CFP committee’s weekly poll doesn’t release until Tuesday, but the Associated Press Top 25 and Amway Coaches polls surfaced Sunday.

The AP poll is virtually inconsequential now that the 12-person committee selects the final four and often has contrasting selections, but the AP’s poll is still an interesting gauge with a two-day gap before the meaningful poll.

Here is a look at the AP, Coaches and Bleacher Report Week 13 polls:

There weren’t many surprises considering the on-field results from Week 12, but Iowa jumping three spots to No. 3—surpassing two teams that lost and Notre Dame—proves the voters value that the Hawkeyes remain unbeaten.

Iowa hasn’t reached such a status in over a decade, according to Jon Miller of HawkeyeNation.com:

Clemson, the only other unbeaten, received 55 of the 61 first-place votes in the AP poll, with Alabama receiving the remaining six.

Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Michigan State and Baylor all ascended, as expected, while Ohio State fell six spots to No. 8 after its first loss of the season Saturday to Michigan State.

It’ll be interesting to see if Iowa also jumps Notre Dame in this week's CFP poll, as the Fighting Irish—despite ranking No. 4 the past two weeks—have been speculated to not control their own destiny, as Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk noted:

The team to keep an eye on is Oklahoma. The Sooners ranked seventh in all three polls after Week 12 and jumped to No. 5 in the two released Sunday. Should they make a similar advance in the CFP rankings, they’ll be the first team on the outside and in favorable position.

The Sooners narrowly edged TCU in Week 12, allowing 16 fourth-quarter points but holding onto a 30-29 win, and the close call, albeit against the No. 15 CFP team, may warrant worry. But Oklahoma can still win the Big 12 with a victory over AP No. 9 Oklahoma State, coming off a loss to Baylor, in this weekend’s finale.

Some already believed the Sooners should be the final team in before they beat TCU on Saturday:

Don’t expect Michigan State to jump Oklahoma, as was the case in Sunday’s polls.

The Spartans control their own destiny regardless by winning out—they’ll play Iowa in the Big Ten Championship Game in a de facto matchup for the playoff should they defeat Penn State this weekend.

The Top Eight in both the Coaches and AP polls remain the same, but each had a different rendition from the CFP final four in two of the three times since the initial rankings released before Week 10.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

College Football Picks Week 13: Top 25 Predictions for Upcoming Schedule

With a number of highly ranked teams playing each other and rivalry games throughout the schedule, Week 13 is undoubtedly shaping up to be the most important slate of contests in the 2015 college football season thus far.

The College Football Playoff picture remains unsettled, which means the door is open for several teams to make their case. At the same time, a single loss can crush a school's dreams and eliminate it from contention for the national championship.

Ahead of what is shaping up to be the most exciting week in college football in quite some time, here is a full rundown of every Top 25 game, along with predictions for who will come out on top in each.


Breaking Down Top Games

(5) Oklahoma at (9) Oklahoma State

The annual Bedlam between Oklahoma and Oklahoma State is always significant, but this year's is even bigger as both the Sooners and Cowboys have one loss, which means the loser will almost certainly be out of the CFP conversation.

Oklahoma's only loss came in a rivalry game against Texas, while the Pokes fell this past week to Baylor. The Sooners may very well control their own destiny with regard to the College Football Playoff since they beat the Bears already, but they will have their hands full Saturday night.

OU defeated TCU 30-29 in Week 12, but it nearly relinquished a big lead after star quarterback Baker Mayfield exited the game with a head injury.

His status for Bedlam is very much in question as head coach Bob Stoops is unsure of where he stands currently, according to ESPN.com's Jake Trotter.

Per Trotter, defensive coordinator Mike Stoops knows how huge being without a player of Mayfield's caliber would be: "Losing Baker hurt us," Stoops said. "He's our leader. He inspires us all, in a lot of ways."

Mayfield is having a big year with 33 touchdown passes and just five interceptions, and while backup Trevor Knight is experienced, he has been extremely inconsistent over the course of his career.

As pointed out by ESPN.com's Travis Haney, the powers-that-be within the Big 12 are likely rooting for the Sooners since wins over Baylor, TCU and Oklahoma State would make a compelling case to the CFP committee.

Doing so in Stillwater, Oklahoma, either without Mayfield or with Mayfield at less than 100 percent, is an extremely tall order, though.

Cowboys quarterback Mason Rudolph is having a strong year in his own right with 3,591 yards and 21 touchdowns. He is coming off a 430-yard performance against Baylor, and his recent excellent play will lead Oklahoma State to victory.


(8) Ohio State at (12) Michigan

The rivalry between Ohio State and Michigan is arguably the biggest in college football, and it has certainly regained some of its luster this year due to the Wolverines' rapid improvement under head coach Jim Harbaugh.

Michigan is an impressive 9-2, and if not for a miraculous touchdown by Michigan State on the final play of the game several weeks ago, it would be 10-1 and very much in the CFP picture.

Ohio State is the reigning national champion, but after falling to the Spartans 17-14, the Buckeyes may not be back in the final four this time around.

Despite having just one loss, current indications are that OSU will enter the Big House as an underdog, which has been a rare occurrence in recent years, per Drew Hallett of Maize N Blue:

The Buckeyes may very well have more talent than the Wolverines, but they have played with fire all season long and finally got burned in the form of a loss to MSU. Their quarterback situation has been a mess with J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones, and now, perhaps, Ohio State's best player is disgruntled.

According to ESPN.com's Austin Ward, running back Ezekiel Elliott was extremely displeased that he was only given 12 carries against the Spartans:

Honestly, this is my last game in the Shoe. I mean, there's no chance of me coming back next year. ... What happened today, it was kind of like a bad, bad dream. Offense had a rough day, and I'm disappointed. I'm disappointed in the play calling, I'm disappointed in the situations we were put in, and I wish it all played out differently.

With Elliott sounding as though he has mentally checked out of the season, it is fair to wonder if the Buckeyes are equipped to beat their greatest rival on the road.

Focus certainly hasn't been an issue for Harbaugh's squad in 2015, and it'll undoubtedly be motivated to beat Ohio State after so many years of being an also-ran in the Big Ten.

Because of the energy that Harbaugh has brought to Michigan, the Wolverines are in an ideal position to finally get a big win over OSU.


(4) Notre Dame at (13) Stanford

Notre Dame was in the Top Four of the most recent CFP poll, but in order to keep its spot, ND will have to defeat Stanford on the road in Week 13.

The Cardinal have two losses, but they still have an outside shot at the College Football Playoff if they win out and get some help, so they will have every reason to turn in a great performance Saturday.

In addition to that, Stanford may very well have the new Heisman Trophy front-runner on its team in the form of running back Christian McCaffrey. The son of former Denver Broncos wide receiver Ed McCaffrey has nearly 2,000 yards from scrimmage this season, and he racked up a school-record 389 all-purpose yards in Week 12, according to Stewart Mandel of Fox Sports 1.

Stanford head coach David Shaw firmly believes that McCaffrey has proven himself to be the best all-round player in college football this season, per Paul Ladewski of the San Francisco Examiner: "Has anyone seen a better football player in the country than Christian McCaffrey?" Shaw said. "Tell me. Show him to me."

McCaffrey has been great, but Notre Dame is on a six-game winning streak since losing by just two points to No. 1 Clemson.

Quarterback DeShone Kizer has been a revelation for the Irish, and he must be at his best in order to combat what McCaffrey brings to the table.

This may very well turn out to be the best and closest among the huge Week 13 college football games, but home-field advantage will ultimately be the difference, with Stanford keeping its CFP hopes alive.


Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter.

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College Football Rankings 2015: Latest Polls, Predictions for Week 13 Standings

With three weeks left until the end of college football's regular season, you can count on one or two more surprises that will shake up the College Football Playoff standings.

The biggest shock of the past weekend was Michigan State's 17-14 win over Ohio State. The Buckeyes are now almost assuredly out of the College Football Playoff hunt since they'd need approximately five teams ahead of them to lose in order to crack the top four.

Looking ahead a week, the three developments below could be among the more surprising to come out of Week 13's games.


Week 13 Predictions Notre Dame Will Fall out of Top Four in Post-Week 13 Playoff Rankings

A section of Notre Dame fans might have looked at Michigan State's upset of Ohio State as good news for the Fighting Irish's playoff hopes.

On the contrary, the Spartans essentially supplanted the Buckeyes as the Big Ten's likeliest playoff representative, per Yahoo Sports' Dan Wetzel:

In addition, Iowa is a lock for the playoff if the Hawkeyes go undefeated and win the Big Ten Championship Game.

The last playoff spot could come down to Oklahoma and Notre Dame, and should that be the case, the Sooners will have the stronger resume.

If Oklahoma finishes with one loss, then it will have beaten Baylor, TCU and Oklahoma State in succession. The Sooners also came back to beat Tennessee on the road in September, which is a notable win after the Volunteers righted the ship in the season's second half.

The problem for Notre Dame is that many of the Fighting Irish's signature victories are looking less impressive the longer the season goes.

Georgia Tech was ranked 16th when it met Notre Dame on Sept. 19. The Yellow Jackets have since gone 1-7 following their defeat to the Irish. Similarly, Temple, USC and Pittsburgh have done Notre Dame few favors.

According to Jeff Sagarin, Notre Dame has a slightly higher strength of schedule than Oklahoma, but that could change should the Sooners beat Oklahoma State. Houston beating Navy would also knock the Midshipmen down in the rankings, and potentially out of the Top 25 altogether, thus denting the Fighting Irish's SOS a bit more.

You can make strong arguments for any two of Michigan State, Oklahoma and Notre Dame to be in the playoff, but the Spartans and Sooners are the most deserving of that group.


Michigan Will Upset Ohio State, Strengthen Case for New Year's Six Bowl

Running back Ezekiel Elliott's comments after Ohio State's loss to Michigan State overshadowed the actual game. While having a star player publicly question his coaching staff is never a good look, far more concerning for the Buckeyes was their anemic offensive performance.

The conditions may not have been ideal, but the reigning national champions gained a paltry 132 yards as a team, and quarterback J.T. Barrett went 9-of-16 for 46 yards. Somewhere in Dublin, Ohio, OSU head coach Urban Meyer was quietly signing Robin Thicke's "Lost Without You" and thinking about Houston coach Tom Herman.

Fans kept waiting for the "real" Ohio State to show up sooner or later, but the "real" Ohio State was right there in front of them all along.

Aside from their season-opening win against Virginia Tech, the Buckeyes never had that one game when they looked like serious title contenders.

Now, Ohio State plays Michigan on the road, which could prove to be even more troublesome for the Buckeyes offense. According to Football Outsiders' S&P+ rating, the Wolverines are the third-best team in the country.

You worry about which Jake Rudock will show up against Ohio State, but the Buckeyes just lost to a Michigan State team that was forced to play backups Tyler O'Connor and Damion Terry at quarterback. Rudock has also looked very good in the second half of the year.

Neither Michigan nor Ohio State will make the playoff this year, but whoever wins could emerge as the Big Ten's second representative in the New Year's Six bowl games.

Given how the Buckeyes looked Saturday, that's likely to be their hated rivals from up north.


Through It All, Oregon Will be Highest-Ranked Pac-12 Team This Time Next Week

The future looked bleak for Oregon after the Ducks lost 62-20 to Utah in Week 4 and then fell to Washington State two weeks later. A losing season looked imminent with games against California, Stanford, USC and Arizona State still ahead at that point.

Yet, with a few more weeks left in the season, Oregon could finish as the best team in their conference. The Ducks finish their regular season at home to Oregon State, which should be a straightforward victory.

You wonder how Oregon's year would've unfolded if Vernon Adams was healthy all the way and had an entire offseason to work with the team.

"Marcus [Mariota] is as good a college player as I've ever seen and for Vernon to be doing the things he's doing in Marcus' shadow is amazing," said Ducks offensive coordinator Scott Frost following Adams' six-touchdown night against USC, per Andrew Greif of the Oregonian. "Vernon deserves a lot of credit for the success this team's had."

Given Oregon's porous defense, the Ducks probably would've stumbled at some point even if everything worked out perfectly for Adams under center. Still, they've put themselves in position to make one of the New Year's Six bowls.

Stanford has already earned a ticket to the Pac-12 Championship Game as the North's representative, but the Cardinal could have three losses by the time Week 13 is over. Between that and the fact Oregon owns the head-to-head advantage, the Ducks will almost certainly be ranked higher in next week's polls.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Bowl Predictions 2015: CFP Projections Heading into Week 13

It's the time of year in the college football season where one loss can end a team's chance at a national championship.

Ask the Ohio State Buckeyes, who went into Week 12 undefeated and left with a loss to the No. 6 Michigan State Spartans—their first ranked opponent all season. Barring a monumental collapse from a few other teams, the loss ended Ohio State's shot at a second straight national title.

The loss could pave the way for the Iowa Hawkeyes to creep into the next installment of the College Football Playoff rankings, which will be announced at 7 p.m. ET Tuesday.

Here is a look at the CFP projections and some Week 13 matchups that could shake up the Top Four once again.


Notre Dame Needs Big Win to Stay in CFP Hunt

If these predictions hold true, the Irish did not hurt themselves in Week 12 with a narrow victory over the 3-8 Boston College Eagles, but they will be jumped by the undefeated Hawkeyes.

It wouldn't be the first time that has happened since the rankings were released, as the one-loss Alabama Crimson Tide passed the undefeated Buckeyes two weeks ago after an impressive win over the then-No. 2 LSU Tigers.

The Eagles have one of the best defenses in the nation, allowing just 14.8 points per game, but they also are winless in ACC play, and a 19-16 Irish victory is not going to impress many.

In fact, ESPN college football analyst Danny Kanell thinks it will drop the Irish out of the playoff picture altogether.

A win over the No. 13 Stanford Cardinal will go a long way in solidifying Notre Dame's spot. Of course, a loss will give the Irish two defeats on the season and leave them with no shot at the national championship.

The Irish have looked rather pedestrian the past few weeks, but the fact remains they have a win over the No. 25 Temple Owls, have not played an FCS team and their only loss was by two points on the road to the No. 1 Clemson Tigers.

However, the party will come crashing down against a Cardinal offense that is averaging a Pac-12-high 40.1 points per game during conference play. 

In four road games this year, Notre Dame is allowing 25.3 points per contest, but only 18.9 in home or neutral games. 

This will be the last week in the CFP for the Irish after the Stanford offense rolls and picks up its 10th win of the season.

Stanford wins, 38-24.


Oklahoma Knocking on the CFP Door

If not for a head-scratching loss to the Texas Longhorns, the Oklahoma Sooners would be controlling their own destiny in search of another national championship. 

However, the loss happened, and now the Sooners will need a win over the No. 9 Oklahoma State Cowboys to keep their chances alive.

A victory would give the Sooners the Big 12 regular-season title, but they still will be battling it out with Iowa, Notre Dame, Michigan State and others for a spot in the CFP.

The Cowboys suffered their first loss of the season in Week 12 to the No. 7 Baylor Bears and are certainly a worthy opponent for Oklahoma. 

However, the Sooners are just too hot on offense right now for the Cowboys. When scoring 30 points—as they did in a Week 12 victory against the No. 15 TCU Horned Frogs—is considered a down game, you know the offense is clicking.

If they pull out a victory, the Sooners finish with one loss and a conference title and have as good a shot as any other one-loss team to claim the fourth spot.

The Cowboys have struggled with high-powered offenses this year (allowing 53 points to the Texas Tech Red Raiders and 45 to Baylor), and they even allowed the lowly Iowa State Cyclones to score 31 points in a Week 11 victory.

Per Bryan Fischer of Bleacher Report, high-powered offenses haven't been an issue for the Sooners:

Oklahoma will win a shootout, and the playoff picture will become even more muddled with a good possibility of nine teams with one or zero losses at season's end.

Let the madness begin.

Oklahoma wins, 52-45.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Brothers and Rivals: The Bond Between Running Backs Keith and Marcus Marshall

ATLANTA — The annual rivalry between Georgia and Georgia Tech is known as "Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate."

This year, though, it has a more wholesome twist.

Brotherly love.

When the Bulldogs and Jackets take the field at Bobby Dodd Stadium on Saturday in Atlanta, Georgia senior running back Keith Marshall will look across the sideline and see a familiar face—his brother, Georgia Tech freshman running back Marcus.

"Our dream growing up in Raleigh, North Carolina, was always to play together," Marcus told Bleacher Report. "But against each other on the big stage is just as cool. It's a dream come true to be playing against my brother."

The elder Marshall, who will not pursue a fifth year of eligibility after missing most of the 2014 season, hopes to close out his Georgia career with a bang in front of a friendly face.

"It'll be interesting," Keith told Bleacher Report. "We've never competed against each other in football. It'll be fun."

The game is something that has been brewing in the Marshall family ever since Marcus signed his national letter of intent to play for his brother's bitter intrastate rival. 

"I'm sure they're going to be cheering for Georgia," Keith joked. "Nah, I'm sure they're not going to care who wins that game."

The bond that runs between the Marshall brothers runs deep.

The two grew up playing with each other, with Keith—who's three years older than Marcus—dominating family events.

"It wasn't really competitive, because I'm older than him," Keith said. "But we competed in NCAA, Madden, and I used to beat him up in that too. He's probably better than me with that now because he plays more."

The rivalry was heated when the age difference didn't get in the way, but Marcus credits Keith for his success by setting a high bar for him to reach after Keith's high school football success.

"He's definitely a role model for me," Marcus said. "He set the blueprint of what I needed to do and take care of throughout high school, and just growing up in general. In high school, I'd try to break his records and stuff like that. He was just somebody who I looked up to."

He did just that. Marcus set the school record with 2,198 rushing yards and 31 touchdowns in 2014 according to Georgia Tech's official site, and he holds the school record for points scored in a season with 186 and rushing yards in a game with 350. The two brothers share the school record with 30 points scored in a single game.

Despite joining Marcus in the record book, Keith isn't ready to give up the title of "fastest Marshall brother" quite yet.

"Oh, I'd win the 40," Keith said. "And he'll tell you that I'll win."

"Yeah, he'd win right now, I'm not going to lie," Marcus admitted.

When Marcus stepped on the field for his first career college game against Alcorn State on Thursday, Sept. 3, his biggest cheerleader was a wreck.

"I remember me and [offensive tackle] John Theus were watching his first game [vs. Alcorn State], and Marcus took his first carry to the house," Keith said. "We were running around the house screaming. Honestly, before his first game, I was more nervous for him than I was for myself.

"I take pride in my little brother, and I want him to be the best he can be."

He was that night. Marshall finished his first career college game with 184 yards on just eight carries, scored twice and established himself as the featured "B Back" in head coach Paul Johnson's triple-option offense.

"It feels great," Marcus said of his success this season. "I didn't really know what to expect when I got here, but I knew there were a lot of opportunities at running back. I knew that this offense is one that's suited for running backs. After the first game, I was pretty excited about what the season had in store. It has definitely exceeded my expectations."

The two Marshall brothers are bigger pieces to the running puzzles for their respective teams, but it almost didn't happen.

Keith was a 5-star prospect in the class of 2012 that came to Georgia in the same class as former Bulldog Todd Gurley, but Marcus, a 3-star prospect who wasn't offered by Georgia according to his 247Sports recruiting profile, wasn't too far off from lining up on the opposite side of the ball.

"He came to us, and in his freshman year, played some running back," Millbrook High School head coach Clarence Inscore told Bleacher Report. "Sophomore year, he was such a great athlete, we actually had him up on varsity playing defensive back. He started at corner. He broke his leg, and when he bounced back the next year, we were going to play him at receiver since we had a senior who had backed up Keith. We struggled early that year and got Marcus a few touches to see what happens. The first game he played running back for us, he rushed for 215 or 220 yards and never got out of the starting lineup."

For Keith, the game vs. Georgia Tech won't just be "clean, old-fashioned hate" with a brotherly-love twist. It will be a goodbye, of sorts.

Marshall announced earlier this month that he will not seek a fifth year of eligibility in 2016, which he would be eligible for after only playing three games in 2014 before a season-ending injury.

"Obviously he's come in and played extremely well for us throughout his career," head coach Mark Richt said according to the school's site. "He's going to be graduating. He just wants to go ahead and move on and take his shot at the NFL when this season is over."

For the brothers, Saturday afternoon on the Flats could be the only shot to capture a special moment for the siblings.

"After the game, we'll get a picture," Keith said. "Hopefully I'll get to rub it in his face that we just beat him. It'll be a lot more fun if we win, of course."

For people who grew to know the brothers, it will be a special moment.

"I'm hoping for the best for both of them," Inscore said. "The big thing for those guys is that they're both playing football at a high level, and it's important for them. At the end of the day, they're still going to be brothers."

Where the family sits, though, could get tricky.

The Marshall brothers are planning on creating half-Georgia, half-Georgia Tech jerseys for family members to wear on Saturday in Atlanta. 

"They have a rule in our section, that you can't have other teams' gear on," Keith said. "I know they have the same rule at Tech, so they're going to have to rotate through the stadium."

Regardless of who wins, it will be a memorable day in the Marshall household as one brother caps off his college career while virtually handing the baton to the other.

"It's going to be a dream come true," Marcus said. "Hopefully the next time we're taking pictures on the same field after a game, it's in the league somewhere."


Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Statistics are courtesy of cfbstats.com.

Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer and national college football video analyst for Bleacher Report, as well as a host on Bleacher Report Radio on SiriusXM 83. Follow Barrett on Twitter @BarrettSallee.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Ohio State vs. Michigan: Complete Game Preview

On Saturday afternoon in Ann Arbor, Michigan, the college football playoff rankings, gripes about play-calling and the stunning loss to Michigan State will fade as one of the greatest rivalries in all of sports is set to renew between No. 8 Ohio State and No. 12 Michigan.

The Buckeyes (10-1) are likely out of the playoff race, as they'll need a Spartans loss to Penn State next Saturday to even have a chance of making the Big Ten title game. But Urban Meyer's squad has bigger concerns as they're traveling to face the Wolverines (9-2) and a defense that is even stingier than the one that Michigan State fielded last Saturday. 

Can Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh disrupt Ohio State's dominance over Michigan, or will Meyer improve to 4-0 over the Buckeyes' top rival?


Viewing Information

Date: Saturday, Nov. 28

Time: Noon ET

Place: Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor, Michigan


Radio: Ohio State Football Radio Network, Michigan Football Broadcast Information

Spread: Michigan (-2.5), via Odds Shark 

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Fan Appears to Be Assaulted by Police During LSU vs. Ole Miss

Police officers working during Ole Miss' 38-17 win over LSU on Saturday appear to have assaulted a fan inside Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.

According to Holly Barnes, her husband suffered a concussion and orbital wall and maxillary sinus fractures as a result. She uploaded a video of the incident to Facebook:    

WLBT in Jackson, Mississippi, shared a photo of Chris Barnes' injuries:      

The Oxford Police Department confirmed Sunday morning the officers in question don't work for the department.

"The officers involved are not officers with the University Police Department, but are certified officers from other jurisdictions hired to work security at home football games," wrote Ole Miss campus police in a statement provided to the media, per Zach Barnett of NBC Sports' College Football Talk.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

College Football Week 13 Odds: Ohio State, Alabama, Notre Dame Betting Favorites

Coming off an upset loss to the Michigan State Spartans, the Ohio State Buckeyes will be looking to regroup Saturday afternoon when they face the Michigan Wolverines as 2.5-point road favorites on the opening odds at sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark.

The Buckeyes were handed a 17-14 home loss by the Spartans over the weekend, dropping them to 10-1 straight up and 4-7 against the spread on the season and putting a huge dent in their chances of making the College Football Playoff. Ezekiel Elliott rushed for just 33 yards and one touchdown for Ohio State in the losing cause.

Michigan is 9-2 straight up and 6-5 ATS on the season. The Wolverines are 0-3 straight up in their last three games against the Buckeyes, according to the Odds Shark college football database, and 1-9 straight up in the last 10 meetings between the schools dating back to 2005. However, the Wolverines have gone 2-0 ATS in the last two games between the teams.

Michigan State, meanwhile, will face the Penn State Nittany Lions this week while looking to wrap up the Big Ten East Division title; like the Buckeyes, the Spartans are 10-1 straight up and 4-7 ATS on the season. No opening line is available yet for the Michigan State-Penn State matchup because of the uncertain status of Spartans quarterback Connor Cook, who missed last week's game after suffering a shoulder injury.

Elsewhere, the Clemson Tigers, sitting atop the Associated Press Top 25, opened as 15.5-point road favorites against the South Carolina Gamecocks, while the Alabama Crimson Tide opened as 13-point road favorites against the Auburn Tigers for their Iron Bowl matchup. Alabama is 3-1 both straight up and ATS in its last four games against Auburn, beating the Tigers 55-44 last year while just managing to cover the 9.5-point spread at home.

Other rivalry matchups for the week saw the Oregon Ducks open as 30-point home favorites against the Oregon State Beavers, the Southern Cal Trojans open as 3.5-point home favorites against the UCLA Bruins, the North Carolina Tar Heels open as six-point road favorites against the North Carolina State Wolfpack, the Georgia Bulldogs open as 4.5-point road favorites against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets and the Florida Gators open as three-point home favorites against the Florida State Seminoles.

The Ole Miss Rebels opened as two-point road favorites against the Mississippi State Bulldogs, while the Notre Dame Fighting Irish opened as two-point road favorites against the Stanford Cardinal. The Fighting Irish edged the Cardinal 17-14 as three-point home underdogs when the schools met last season, and Notre Dame is 7-2 ATS in its last nine road games against Stanford.

In the Big 12, Friday's TCU-Baylor matchup opened as a pick 'em, while the Oklahoma Sooners opened as 3.5-point road favorites against the Oklahoma State Cowboys. The Cowboys knocked off the Sooners 38-35 as big 19.5-point road underdogs last season, with Oklahoma State covering the spread in three of its last four games against Oklahoma.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Virginia Tech Football: The 5 Most Important Recruits for Hokies' 2016 Season

The Virginia Tech Hokies will finish up the 2015 regular season on Saturday against Virginia. A win and the Hokies will go bowling for a 23rd consecutive season.

But that's not even a concern in Blacksburg at the moment. 

Legendary head coach Frank Beamer announced his retirement earlier this month, leaving the program in search of its first head coach since 1987.

The new head coach should be named sometime in December, leaving him little time to get on the recruiting trail and add to Virginia Tech's 2016 recruiting class.

Currently, per 247Sports, the Hokies rank No. 46 with 15 commitments on board. Recently, VT lost two verbal pledges—wide receiver Phillip Patterson and cornerback Troy Pride—after Beamer's announcement.

While it's late in the recruiting process, the new coach will have some room to work with as attrition will likely hit the program. 

What recruits are most important for Virginia Tech's next head coach? Here are five players the new coach needs a signature from on national signing day. 


All recruiting rankings and information courtesy of 247Sports. 

Bryan Manning covers college football for Bleacher Report and you can follow him on Twitter @bdmanning4

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A Notre Dame Football Diary of the Historical Game at Fenway Park

BOSTON — Waves of blue, gold and green inundated Fenway Park and the surrounding area over the weekend as Notre Dame football traveled to the home of the Boston Red Sox for its annual off-site home game Saturday—the first football game played at the iconic baseball stadium since 1968.

For Irish head coach and Massachusetts native Brian Kelly, who was born in nearby Everett, raised in Chelsea and attended St. John’s Prep School in Danvers before playing collegiately at Assumption College in Worcester, the setting matched his expectations.

“I came out a little bit earlier than I normally do,” Kelly said after the game. “I came out like 15 minutes early and just looked around, and I thought the Fenway Park people and [Red Sox president] Sam Kennedy did a terrific job of transforming the park into a football stadium. It really felt like a football stadium. It didn't feel like you were squeezed in, you were shorted anywhere, other than the [shared] sideline situation, which I said we could manage. It just felt like a great venue.”

Kelly said during the week that two of his favorite Fenway memories were attending the 1975 World Series with his father, Paul, and sitting in the Green Monster seats with his family recently.

Beyond Kelly, Notre Dame players, including linebackers Joe Schmidt and Jaylon Smith, are Red Sox fans.

“It was really cool,” Schmidt said. “I really enjoyed this experience. I’m a Boston Red Sox fan and always wanted to go to Fenway. This was very special, and to come out with a victory made it even better.”

Let’s recount the unique day at the ballpark.

Temperatures rested comfortably in the mid-50s throughout Saturday with clear skies, and fans ambled around the outskirts of the ballpark, taking in the joint tradition of Notre Dame football and Red Sox baseball.

Notre Dame’s traditional drummer's circle took place late Friday night in Copley Square, and with kickoff set for 7:42 p.m. ET, the late morning and early afternoon were quiet around Fenway.

The Shamrock Series Fan Fest got rolling at noon in the Brookline parking lot across the street from the stadium. The free event offered music, food, video highlights and other Notre Dame-produced content.

As kickoff approached, fans filtered into the many bars and restaurants surrounding Fenway Park, including Red Sox staples such as Jerry Remy’s, Cask ’n Flagon, Boston Beer Works, Jillian’s, The Lansdowne Pub, The Baseball Tavern and others. A steady stream of Notre Dame colors and fans filled the area, while a minority of maroon-and-gold-clad Boston College fans dotted the premises.

As the early sunset descended upon the city, the streets encompassing the ballpark filled with fans and bar lines grew longer. Within various bars, chants from Irish and Eagles fans echoed back and forth.

The evening was brisk as fans began to make their way into Fenway Park. While the teams carried out their early pregame warm-ups, Notre Dame video packages sparkled on the video board in center field, including interviews with former Irish players, Notre Dame faculty and Fenway Park Director of Grounds David Mellor.

The Notre Dame band eventually emerged from the center field gate and settled in left-center field behind the shared sideline hosting both teams. The Irish took the field near home plate to an explosion of fireworks from beyond the right field bleachers.

A sellout crowd of 38,686 attended the first football game at Fenway in 47 years. And with Notre Dame committing five turnovers in a sluggish and sloppy outing, the bulk of fans hung around for the duration of the game and watched as the Eagles trimmed the deficit to 10 points with 10 minutes and 17 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. Boston College then cut within three with an 86-yard touchdown drive with 54 seconds remaining, but the Irish clamped down on the onside kick to secure the 19-16 victory.

Soon thereafter, before Notre Dame players even finished their postgame interviews in the Red Sox weight room, stadium staff members went to work breaking down the Notre Dame components of the park and restoring the historic field to its standard, shamrock-less state.


All quotes were obtained firsthand.

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

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Bowl Projections 2015: Top Four CFP Predictions After Week 12

Survive and advance. That's the name of the game at this point in the College Football Playoff race. 

Three of the Top Four teams heading into Week 12 were able to do it. Clemson, Alabama and Notre Dame still have some autonomy over whether they'll get a chance to play for the national championship. 

Ohio State, however, fell the first time it played a ranked opponent this season. This late in the season with the schedule it's played, a 17-14 loss to Michigan State is likely to put it out of the playoff hunt. 

Teams like Notre Dame, however, showed the importance of surviving. The Irish faced a unique challenge in a 3-7 Boston College team that boasts one of the nation's best defenses and worst offenses. It wasn't pretty, but the Irish walked away with a three-point win over the Eagles that keeps their hopes alive. 

It might not be enough to get them in, but they are still squarely in the conversation. Here's the projected field after the dust settled on Week 12:


Bubble Teams

Michigan State Spartans

No one was a bigger winner on Saturday than the Michigan State Spartans. When Mark Dantonio's squad lost to Nebraska two weeks ago, it felt like its playoff hopes were dead on arrival in Columbus. 

Leaving Columbus with a 17-14 win, the mood's all changed. 

Sparty took to the road and looked like an entirely different football team. B/R's Brian Leigh noted the difference for Michigan State defensively:

The men from East Lansing took advantage of their only opportunity to get back in the playoff hunt. Now they control their own destiny in the Big Ten. A win over Penn State puts them in the conference championship game against Iowa. 

If the Spartans end the season as conference champions with a win over last year's tournament winner, they're practically a lock to make it in. 


Oklahoma Sooners

Oklahoma is the perfect example of a team that kept its playoff hopes alive simply by surviving a scare. 

The Sooners appeared to have plenty of "game control" when they led the TCU Horned Frogs 30-13 in the third quarter. Then quarterback Baker Mayfield went out of the game. Then the TCU offense found some rhythm behind backup quarterback Bram Kohlhausen. 

The next thing Bob Stoops' team knew, it had to defend a two-point conversion attempt by TCU to hang on for the 30-29 win with 51 seconds left. 

It's the kind of win that might not impress the committee in and of itself, but it sets the team up to make a statement next week. The Sooners will be involved in one of the biggest games of the week when College GameDay comes to cover their 8 p.m. ET matchup with Oklahoma State:

The matchup isn't quite as prolific now that Oklahoma State lost to Baylor, but the Sooners' win over Baylor looks that much better now. Add a win over the Cowboys, and it's awfully difficult to leave Oklahoma out. 


Iowa Hawkeyes

A conspicuous exclusion from this playoff field is Iowa. The Hawkeyes are undefeated at this point in the season, but they've played a schedule that demands they go undefeated to get in. 

As Lost Lettermen notes, Iowa is one of three teams that truly control their own destiny:

With a matchup against Michigan State on the horizon, that's far from guaranteed. Realistically, Nebraska could even be the team that upsets the Iowa apple cart. The Cornhuskers kicked off November with the win over Michigan State and followed that up with a 31-14 win over Rutgers. 

It's safe to say they're playing their best football of the year. 

As great a story as Iowa has been this season, one has to wonder if and when the other shoe is going to drop. The Hawkeyes came into the week ranked just No. 23 in Football Outsiders' F/+ metric. For comparison, Sparty was No. 15 before beating Ohio State. Eventually, that has to catch up with the Hawkeyes. 

If it doesn't in the next two games, they'll get the opportunity to prove everyone wrong in the playoff. 


Notre Dame Fighting Irish

The Irish are the closest facsimile to TCU last season. 

Their only loss was by the narrowest of margins against the nation's elite. They dropped a two-point game to No. 1 Clemson. Yet, they're likely to get passed over for a team that participated in a conference championship game. 

The Irish don't play in a conference; their best wins are against Temple and Navy, who happen to be in the Group of Five rather than the Power Five. Unfortunately, they don't have much margin for error. 

That means when you play a team that's 3-7, you have to impress. Notre Dame didn't exactly do that against the Eagles. It committed five turnovers against an admittedly excellent defense and won 19-16. 

Given the committee's precedent of dropping teams that don't win impressively (TCU dropped three spots after a six-point win over Kansas last week), Notre Dame survived Week 12 but hurt its chances along the way. 

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College Football Rankings 2015: Hits and Misses from the Week 13 Polls

Thirteen combined points. That's all that separated the outcomes of four games involving five top-10 teams. From Michigan State's game-winning field goal over Ohio State to Florida and Notre Dame outlasting Florida Atlantic and Boston College, respectively, Week 12 of the college football season had some close calls and season-changing moments. 

Now, it's time to take stock all that happened with the latest USA Today Amway Coaches Poll and the Associated Press Top 25. The playoff committee's top 25 won't be released until Tuesday, but Sunday's polls may provide a glimpse of what to expect. 

Where did pollsters get it right? Where did they swing and miss? We give our two cents in the following slides based not only on the past week's action, but also on what has transpired so far this season.

Begin Slideshow

College Football Rankings 2015: Reviewing AP, Amway Polls and Week 13 Standings

Michigan State's 17-14 win over Ohio State on Saturday did the most to shake up the latest AP and Amway Coaches polls, which now essentially serve as teasers for the College Football Playoff rankings released on Tuesday.

The Buckeyes sank six spots in the Amway poll and dropped from second to 10th in the Associated Press standings. This opened the door for undefeated but underappreciated Iowa—which started the season unranked—to jump up a few spots into the top four in both polls. Notre Dame also claims top-four status on both lists.

Deshaun Watson and the Clemson Tigers held steady at No. 1 in the Amway and AP rankings. They've got a Carolina two-step coming up, with South Carolina on Nov. 28 and then North Carolina in the ACC championship.

UNC stumbled a bit in a 30-27 overtime win over Virginia Tech on Saturday but is still very much a dangerous team.

Without further ado, here are the AP, Amway and Bleacher Report polls heading into Week 13. 

Ohio State's chances of making a return to the national championship are exceedingly slim. Daniel Uthman of USA Today explains what needs to happens for the Buckeyes to climb back into the Top Four: 

Beat Michigan Nov. 28 and have Penn State knock off Michigan State the same day. Ohio State can’t make the Big Ten championship game vs. Iowa without those two things happening.

If those two things did happen and the Buckeyes beat Iowa in the league title game, they would be in good position to return to the Playoff as the event’s No. 4 seed for the second consecutive year. But Ohio State can’t make that game without a win against Michigan and a Michigan State loss.

Even if those contests all break the Buckeyes' way, there's no guarantee it will get them back in the committee's good graces. The offense has stagnated in recent weeks, while at the same time Oklahoma has picked up wins over quality opponents like Baylor and TCU.

A win over Oklahoma State next week would be most impressive, but the Sooners could be in trouble if Baker Mayfield's injury proves to be serious and keeps him out of that pivotal contest. 

The Heisman candidate left in the second quarter of Saturday's game with a head injury, per ESPN.com's Jake Trotter. Head coach Bob Stoops wasn't able to provide a definitive answer on Mayfield's status going forward.

"I sure don't know anything right now," Stoops said, via Trotter. "That'll all be up to our doctors and trainers. But they'll be thorough in checking him."

The lack of a Big 12 championship game of course hurts the Sooners' playoff chances, so don't be surprised if they don't bully their way into the Top Four even if they notch a big win over Oklahoma State.

Notre Dame is clinging to a Top Four spot, but without a championship game of its own to play, it would be pretty difficult to give them a spot over Ohio State if the latter won the Big Ten championship. The Sooners or even Michigan State could pip them as well. 

Alabama's playoff path is pretty straightforward and perhaps the clearest of anyone's, save for Clemson. The Crimson Tide should beat Auburn in the Iron Bowl—although just about anything is liable to happen in that crazy contest—and then lock up the SEC championship by beating Florida, which needed overtime to defeat Florida Atlantic 20-14 in Week 12.

Playing irrelevant Charleston Southern this late in the season does well to set them up for the final playoff push. Heisman candidate Derrick Henry carried the ball just nine times and got plenty of rest, as did several other key players in the 56-6 beatdown. 

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AP College Football Poll 2015: Week 13 Rankings Unveiled for Top 25 Teams

Clemson maintained its No. 1 spot in the Associated Press Top 25 poll with another impressive performance Saturday, but there were significant shakeups elsewhere in the rankings after a wild Week 12. 

Alabama moved up to the No. 2 spot, while Ohio State and Oklahoma State—who were previously ranked second and fourth, respectively—tumbled.

Here is a look at the AP's latest Top 25 poll with just a couple of weeks remaining in the 2015 regular season:

Also, the following is a rundown of Bleacher Report's view of the college football hierarchy:

Both Clemson and Alabama had easy Saturdays, as they enjoyed blowout victories over inferior opponents. The Tigers sunk Wake Forest, 33-13, behind 343 yards and three touchdowns from quarterback Deshaun Watson, while the Crimson Tide rolled past Charleston Southern, 56-6.

The Buckeyes weren't so fortunate, as they managed a mere 132 yards of total offense in a 17-14 loss to rival Michigan State. The defeat dropped OSU to No. 8 in the polls, while the Spartans moved up to No. 6 and now control their own destiny in the Big Ten East.

Ohio State has struggled offensively all season long, with head coach Urban Meyer waffling between J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones at quarterback. As ESPN's Mike Greenberg pointed out, Saturday's loss was a manifestation of something that had been building for weeks:

Frustration boiled over following the game when superstar running back Ezekiel Elliott—who had just 12 carries for 33 yards—announced his intent to go pro and blasted the play-calling, per ESPN.com's Austin Ward:

Honestly, this is my last game in the Shoe. I mean, there's no chance of me coming back next year. What happened today, it was kind of like a bad, bad dream. Offense had a rough day, and I'm disappointed. I'm disappointed in the play calling, I'm disappointed in the situations we were put in, and I wish it all played out differently.

OSU wasn't the only top team to go down, as Oklahoma State also fell and had its undefeated season ruined by Baylor.

The Bears toppled the Cowboys by a score of 45-35 in Stillwater, Oklahoma, which is something they hadn't done in more than 75 years, according to ESPN Stats & Info:

Paul Myerberg of USA Today believes Baylor made a great case for itself against Oklahoma State despite last week's loss to Oklahoma:

While Baylor's win means it still has life with regard to the College Football Playoff, it certainly bolstered Oklahoma as well, who held off TCU, 30-29.

Along with the Sooners and Bears, undefeated Iowa and one-loss Notre Dame received a bump in the polls as well by virtue of wins over Purdue and Boston College, respectively.

Although the AP and College Football Playoff rankings haven't necessarily been in sync thus far, the new AP poll paints an interesting picture and perhaps provides a preview of what the CFP committee will come up with.

Oklahoma, Michigan State and Iowa were all on the outside looking in when it came to last week's poll, but all three of them impressed the Associated Press voters enough to move up.

The 2015 college football season has been a crazy and unpredictable one, and that is highlighted by the fact there are still so many quality teams in the running for a CFP spot.

While the new AP poll favors the likes of Clemson, Alabama, Iowa and Notre Dame to be the four left standing, the chaos 2015 has generated suggests that may change significantly in the coming weeks.


Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter.

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Paul Rhoads Fired by Iowa State: Latest Details, Comments and Reaction

After seven years with the school, Paul Rhoads reportedly is out as head coach of the Iowa State Cyclones. 

Fox Sports' Bruce Feldman and ESPN's Brett McMurphy both reported the news Sunday afternoon, though McMurphy added that he will still coach the Cyclones' final game against West Virginia on Saturday.

Iowa State went on to confirm the decision, via Brandon Chatmon of ESPN.

The news doesn't come as a major surprise after the Cyclones missed out on a bowl game for the third straight season. And more so than simply failing to qualify for a bowl game, ISU simply wasn't competitive toward the end of Rhoads' reign.

Iowa State won five games between 2013 and 2014 and showed little progress in 2015, picking up just three overall wins. The standards for the Cyclones aren't as high as for other Big 12 schools, but it became apparent the program wasn't headed in the right direction.

The school gambled when it signed Rhoads to a 10-year extension in December 2011, roughly a month after the Cyclones upset the then-No. 2 Oklahoma State Cowboys. Even if contracts are often ripped up and rarely fulfilled in college football, seeing a team commit to a head coach for 10 years is almost unheard of.

Given Iowa State's history—or lack thereof—on the football field, you can understand why it felt such a pressing need to secure what it thought was a promising head coach. Plus, a $1.6 million base salary wasn't altogether unreasonable for a Big 12 head coach.

What the extension did instead was tie Iowa State to a good but not great head coach and saddled the program with a hefty buyout in order to send Rhoads packing.

Whereas that win over Oklahoma State looked to be the start of something special in Ames, it was instead Rhoads' one moment in the spotlight.

The problem for Iowa State is that finding a replacement won't exactly be easy. As Sports Illustrated's Pete Thamel noted in October, it feels as though an unusual number of schools have openings at the moment:

The Cyclones will have a lot of competition for many of the top candidates, which will make the hiring process even harder.

Also problematic for Iowa State is its place in the college football hierarchy. The renovations to the Bergstrom Football Complex in 2012 provide the program with great facilities, but that only goes so far toward luring top recruits.

The Cyclones haven't had a winning season since 2009, and they haven't cracked the Associated Press' Top 25 poll in a decade. Not to mention, the program hasn't won 10 games ever in its history.

Becoming a consistent contender in the Big 12 isn't impossible for Iowa State, but it's a years-long process. And when the school shows a modicum of success, holding on to the coaches who made it happen would prove difficult.

Even Baylor's rise under Art Briles started slowly, as the Bears went 4-8 in each of his first two seasons. He also had a talent like Robert Griffin III to help transform the team.

Meanwhile, Kansas' improbable 12-1 2007 campaign came six years into Mark Mangino's tenure.

Rhoads' replacement will likely be given plenty of time to try to work his magic, but he'll have an uphill road to climb to make the Cyclones nationally prominent again.

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College GameDay Bound for Bedlam Between Oklahoma and Oklahoma State in Week 13

For all the talk in the preseason on how Baylor vs. TCU would be the biggest game of rivalry weekend in the Big 12, next Saturday's showdown between Oklahoma (10-1) and Oklahoma State (10-1) will take that honor—and the coveted visit from ESPN's College GameDay

The popular pregame show announced Sunday morning that it will visit Stillwater, Oklahoma, for the annual matchup in the Bedlam Series between the visiting Sooners and the host Cowboys.

As always on rivalry weekend, GameDay didn't have a shortage of appealing games from which to pick.

But the show went with the somewhat rare decision to visit a school that is coming off a loss. Oklahoma State's undefeated start to the season ended Saturday night in a home 45-35 defeat to one-loss Baylor.

That loss, coupled with previously unbeaten Ohio State's 17-14 loss to Michigan State, swung the door wide open for Oklahoma to stake a strong claim for the College Football Playoff, as Bleacher Report's Bryan Fischer noted Saturday night:

The Sooners are not just in the running to make the final four, however; they should be a lock with a win next week in the annual Bedlam game against their in-state rivals. While folks may make arguments (and have good ones) in South Carolina and Tuscaloosa as to who really is the best team in the country, it’s tough to overlook that Oklahoma is playing the best of anyone over the past two months.

Combined with the result up the road—Baylor throttled Oklahoma State 45-35 in Stillwater—and ensuing chaos elsewhere around the country, it looks increasingly like we’re on a path that includes Stoops’ squad in the playoff.

While Oklahoma State most likely needed to win out in order to make the final four, the Cowboys still have plenty to play for next week than just the usual bragging rights.

If TCU knocks off Baylor next Friday night and Oklahoma State beats Oklahoma, Mike Gundy's team would be the outright Big 12 champion with an 11-1 record.

"It's been a great year; it's a chance to have a phenomenal year," Oklahoma State defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer said, per Jenni Carlson of the Oklahoman. "There's a lot that they know they can play for. Yes, it hurts having that ultimate goal out, but there's a lot of people in the nation that face that every week."

This year's Bedlam game is shaping up to be the sixth time in eight seasons that both rivals will be ranked heading into the matchup.

As for the prospect of more late-game drama and championship-level chaos, each of the last three meetings have been decided by single digits—with two of those going into overtime.

Last year, unranked Oklahoma State knocked off Oklahoma in unbelievable fashion, forcing overtime with less than a minute remaining on a 92-yard punt return for a touchdown. After Oklahoma missed a field goal, Ben Grogan knocked his down to give the Cowboys a 38-35 victory.

In a series long dominated by the Sooners, the Cowboys will be looking to grab back-to-back wins for the first time since 2001 and 2002—a pair of upsets over Top-Five teams from Oklahoma. 


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

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Amway College Football Poll 2015: Week 13 Rankings Unveiled for Top 25 Teams

Another week, another pair of national title contenders seeing those chances dealt a major blow. Don't you just love this time of year? 

Those schools don't. But that's the nature of the beast as we grow closer to deciding the four College Football Playoff selections. In the meantime, let's take a look at the latest coaches and Bleacher Report polls while breaking down the weekend that was.



The defending national champions, Ohio State, lost Saturday. And then the real fireworks began.

Michael Geiger's field goal as time expired gave Michigan State a 17-14 win over the Buckeyes, likely ending the team's shot at a national title barring a Michigan State loss to Penn State next week. With a win, it would be the Spartans and not the Buckeyes that faced Iowa in the Big Ten title game, meaning Ohio State's best-case scenario is a win over Michigan and a spot in the Rose Bowl. 

And that reality seemed to frustrate a few players for Ohio State, namely running back Ezekiel Elliott. 

"How we lost, I just feel like we weren't put in the right opportunity to win this game, we weren't put in the right situations to win this game," Elliott said, per Austin Ward of ESPN. "I don't think Michigan State was better than us. They weren't. We didn't execute."

He then put to bed any notion that he would be returning to the team after this season.

Honestly, this is my last game in the Shoe. I mean, there's no chance of me coming back next year. What happened today, it was kind of like a bad, bad dream. Offense had a rough day, and I'm disappointed. I'm disappointed in the play calling, I'm disappointed in the situations we were put in, and I wish it all played out differently.

And frankly, more than a few folks agreed with Elliott, like Barrett Sallee of Bleacher Report:

Will Brinson of CBS Sports concurred:

Fran Fraschilla of ESPN felt that Elliott undercut head coach Urban Meyer far too much, however:

Elliott's streak of 15 games with over 100 yards was also snapped Saturday—and with it more than likely his Heisman chances. So it was hardly surprising that he was frustrated, though the fact that he was so openly vocal about it seems indicative of a season in which the Buckeyes have been loaded with talent but consistently seemed off-kilter and prone to underachievement. 

Ohio State wasn't the only team that saw its national title hopes delivered a potential knockout blow, though, as Oklahoma State lost to Baylor, 45-35. With Clemson, Alabama, Notre Dame, Iowa, Oklahoma and Florida all winning—and Baylor and Michigan State posting the most impressive wins on the weekend—the Cowboys were always likely to take something of a tumble down the rankings. 

That result left the Big 12 wide open, however, especially with Oklahoma getting past TCU on Saturday. Oklahoma and Oklahoma State still have a matchup on the schedule, while Baylor has TCU and Texas down the stretch, so quite a lot is left to be decided. For the moment, though, Heisman hopeful Baker Mayfield and the Sooners appear to be the front-runners in the conference and the team most likely of the bunch to reach the College Football Playoff. 

While Clemson, Alabama and Notre Dame seem to control their own playoff destinies at this point, the fourth spot is now wide open, with the Big 12 schools, Iowa and even Michigan State remaining in the running. And, of course, an upset or two down the stretch could really mix things up. 

Hey, it's college football. Unpredictability is about the only thing we can accurately predict at this point.


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Breaking Down the Long-Shot Teams in Hunt for College Football Playoff

So, you're telling me there's a chance?

Week 12 of the college football season gave us the single biggest dose of chaos all year. In one day, three undefeated teams—Houston, Ohio State and Oklahoma State, the latter two of which were in the College Football Playoff hunt—lost. 

Now, we're left with undefeated Clemson and Iowa, just like we all thought would happen at the beginning of the year. 

All this guarantees the four-team playoff will be at least half-full with one-loss teams, and the potential still exists that a two-loss team could sneak in there. That falls in line with the overall theme this season: There are zero dominant teams. 

There's still a lot that can unfold with two weeks left before the playoff selection committee names its final four. Current playoff long shots aren't out of the running yet. Below is a list of one- and two-loss teams that could still crash the playoff under the right circumstances. The following teams are either still in the running for their conference championship or have been guaranteed a spot in their conference championship game. 



Rebounding from a loss to Oklahoma by beating an undefeated top-six team (Oklahoma State)...by double digits...on the road...with your third-string quarterback...and backup running back is one way to go about getting respect, Baylor. 

The Bedlam game between Oklahoma and Oklahoma State on Nov. 28 still reigns as the Big 12's most important game. With a win, the Sooners are the Big 12's best hope for a playoff spot, especially if Notre Dame loses to Stanford. But it will be fascinating to see where the playoff committee places Baylor, who has two games left against TCU and Texas. By dropping the Bears only four spots to No. 10 last week, the committee left the door open for Baylor to make a comeback. 

Baylor needs help, of course. That starts with Oklahoma losing to Oklahoma State. All the Bears can do is keep winning. 

"We tried bellyaching last year and it didn’t seem to work,” said Baylor head coach Art Briles, per Matt Hayes of Sporting News. “We’ll just keep playing.”



The concept of a playoff without a one-loss SEC team would have been laughed at just a few months ago. But Florida is doing its best to make it happen. 

The Gators needed overtime to beat Florida Atlantic 20-14. This offense, marred by depth problems, is a wreck. Ranked No. 8 in the latest playoff standings, it wouldn't be surprising to see Florida drop a couple of spots when the new Top 25 is revealed on Tuesday. And if Florida plays again like it played Saturday, it has two more losses coming against Florida State and, presumably, Alabama in the SEC Championship Game. 

But what if, somehow, Florida wins out? Those would be two huge wins, and the committee would have a dilemma. Does it include a one-loss SEC champion because it's a one-loss SEC champion? Or, as B/R colleague Barrett Sallee notes, would the so-called "eye test" hurt them? That's assuming, of course, Florida doesn't magically turn into the team of the century. 

It'd be an interesting exercise, but chances are the Gators would be able to sneak in. Now they just have to win two tough games. Good luck. 



The Wolverines are quietly hovering outside the top 10 with two losses. In order for Michigan to so much as think about the playoff, it has to get to the Big Ten Championship Game. That requires beating Ohio State and getting help from Penn State, who would need to beat Michigan State. 

Then, Michigan would have to beat Iowa. The Wolverines don't have many quality wins outside of Northwestern and BYU, but they did lose to Utah and Michigan State—teams that are a combined 18-4—by a total of 11 points. And the loss to the Spartans, as you know, came on a crazy mishandled punt at the end of the game. 

Michigan needs help just to get into a position to seriously be in the playoff hunt. This team has the opposite path of controlling its own destiny. Its best friend is chaos, but if Week 12 taught us anything, it's that chaos does reign supreme. 


North Carolina

With North Carolina's 30-27 win over Virginia Tech, the Tar Heels have locked their place in the ACC Championship Game against Clemson. Looking across the Power Five conferences, this actually should get people more excited than any other conference title game. Here, you have the No. 1 team in the country versus the one-loss team playing as well as anyone. 

But it feels as though North Carolina is playing the role of spoiler more than playoff hopeful. Last Tuesday, committee chair Jeff Long said UNC was "weighted down" by its resume: 

Would a potential win over the No. 1 team change that? With two weeks left, the Tar Heels have to climb 13 spots, one more than Navy, who isn't even in a power conference. 


Ohio State 

Ohio State's 17-14 loss to Michigan State in and of itself was surprising, if for no other reason than the Buckeyes were a 13-point favorite, according to OddsShark, with uncertainty surrounding injured Spartans quarterback Connor Cook. 

At the same time, Ohio State losing felt like a long time coming. The Buckeyes are talented, but the offense never clicked this season, and many players were likely looking on to bigger and better things

Ohio State can still get to the playoff, though. First, it needs to beat Michigan next Saturday, and Michigan State has to lose to Penn State. Then, it would have to beat Iowa in the Big Ten Championship Game. Only then could the Buckeyes even think about a playoff appearance, and that depends largely on what happens elsewhere. 

The committee showed leniency toward Ohio State this year, despite the fact it didn't beat anyone of note and sometimes didn't look great doing it. (Hey, it helps to be the reigning champs.) Perhaps, then, the committee would be more forgiving to Ohio State if it rattled off two big wins and got some help along the way. However, Kyle Rowland of the Toledo Blade believes the Bucks are more likely bound for a New Year's Six spot:


Oklahoma State

The Pokes are in a tough spot. Two weeks after getting a huge win over TCU, Oklahoma State lost at home to Baylor, a team that lacked full strength in key spots. That's going to be difficult, if not impossible, to overcome. 

Next Saturday, Oklahoma State plays an Oklahoma team that's won six in a row and is as confident as anyone. The Cowboys' playoff prayer could be answered, however, if it knocks off the Sooners while the Bears lose to TCU. That scenario is certainly possible. 

But Oklahoma State was ranked sixth before the loss. It never felt like the committee was all-in on the Cowboys. Last week, Long went so far as to say undefeated Iowa was better: 

Whether the Hawkeyes are or aren't better than Oklahoma State doesn't matter anymore. The Cowboys weren't getting the benefit of the doubt before, and they're certainly not going to get it now.  



If there's a two-loss team with a legitimate shot at this playoff thing, it's Stanford. The Cardinal are the highest-ranked two-loss team, one spot ahead of Michigan. Unlike the Wolverines, Stanford is also guaranteed to get two more games: one against Notre Dame and the Pac-12 Championship Game versus either UCLA or USC. 

The Pac-12 title is critical for Stanford's playoff hopes as a conference champion, but the Notre Dame game has the overall bigger implications. The Irish are playing for a spot as well and have only one loss (24-22 to Clemson). 

If Stanford does beat Notre Dame, it'll be interesting to see how the committee perceives the win. It'll be a quality victory, of course, but the Irish are banged up; seriously, they're as snakebit as any team in college football. Will the committee qualify that win like it would with, say, Oklahoma over an injury-plagued TCU?

It's something to keep an eye on. 


Ben Kercheval is a lead writer for college football. All quotes cited unless obtained firsthand. 

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College Football Playoff 2015: Top Four Predictions After Week 12 NCAA Results

After two consecutive weeks of the same four teams making up the College Football Playoff, Ohio State's loss to Michigan State will shake up the Week 13 rankings. 

Since the teams directly trailing Ohio State were victorious Saturday, there shouldn't be much drama in the unveiling of the new Top Four. 

However, there are plenty of tough games remaining on the schedule for the projected playoff teams.

Each of these teams appears to control its own destiny, but it would be a surprise if another upset or two didn't shake things up in the final weeks.


Projected Week 13 College Football Playoff Rankings

1. Clemson

For the second straight week, a banged-up Clemson team limped to victory in less-than-dominant fashion. 

The Tigers' 33-13 win over Wake Forest certainly wasn't a statement win, but head coach Dabo Swinney's squad has put itself in a position where winning is the only thing that matters. 

Clemson played without starting running back Wayne Gallman in this one, so the sloppy offensive performance, which included two interceptions by quarterback Deshaun Watson, can be somewhat forgiven. 

At this point, Clemson simply needs to get healthy and keep winning. An undefeated Tigers squad will represent the ACC in the playoff regardless of how it looks down the stretch. 


2. Alabama

The only thing head coach Nick Saban was concerned with Saturday was escaping a quasi-bye week against Charleston Southern without any injuries. 

Alabama controls its own destiny and deserves to be considered a heavy favorite in the SEC, but its spot in the playoff is certainly not guaranteed. 

Saban: You're only as good as your last play. We obviously have a road game in one of the best rivalry games in the country.

— Aaron Suttles (@AaronSuttles) November 22, 2015

The Tide travel to Auburn for a tough road rivalry game Saturday. Alabama will certainly be favored, but late-November rivalry games are rarely easy. 

Expect Auburn to sell out to stop Heisman candidate Derrick Henry, forcing quarterback Jake Coker to win the game with his arm. 


3. Notre Dame

We can be fairly confident in predicting Notre Dame and Iowa to round out the Top Four, but the order will be up for debate. The Irish have held steady ahead of Iowa throughout the CFP committee's initial rankings, but a narrow victory over Boston College could potentially open the Irish's placement back up for debate. 

Regardless of whether Notre Dame is ranked third or fourth, it likely controls its own destiny to advance to the playoff. 

While the Irish are hurt by their lack of a conference affiliation and therefore no title game to wrap up the season, a season finale at Stanford gives the team a chance to close the season with a statement victory on the road.


4. Iowa

Iowa may have some supporters for a rise to No. 3 due to Notre Dame's close call against Boston College, but ultimately, its victory over lowly Purdue is unlikely to be enough to boost the team up. 

The Hawkeyes close out the regular season against Nebraska before facing either Michigan State, Michigan or Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship Game. 

Is America ready for Iowa in the Top 4???!!! #hawkeyes#ANF

— Danny Kanell (@dannykanell) November 22, 2015

Even if Iowa is ranked fourth this week, fans shouldn't worry. By running the table, it will likely have the resume to jump one-loss Notre Dame and settle into No. 3.

That said, Iowa shouldn't look past Nebraska. The Cornhuskers need a victory to become bowl-eligible, are playing their best football of the season and have had their bye week to prepare.

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Ohio State Football: How Buckeyes' Top Commits Performed This Weekend

While Ohio State’s national title hopes took a huge hit with Saturday’s loss to Michigan State, Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer and his staff also have eyes on battling for the nation’s top-rated recruiting class.

Currently, Ohio State has the nation’s No. 2 group—which is loaded with talent across all positions.

A majority of the class has already completed their senior seasons, but a handful of future Buckeyes are still starring in the postseason.

As detailed by Bill Kurelic of Bucknuts, 4-star corner Wayne Davis enjoyed a monster performance on both sides of the ball in leading Lake Taylor [Virginia] High School to a 52-39 win over Kings Fork.

The 5’11”, 187-pound Davis hauled in eight passes for 297 yards and four touchdowns. According to the Virginian-Pilot, Davis scored two touchdowns—one on a 96-yard reception and another on a 30-yard interception return for a score—in less than a minute late in the game to help the Titans improve to 12-0 on the season.

Davis is scheduled to begin his college career on defense, but his performance serves as a showcase of his athleticism and ability to create explosive plays on both sides of the ball.

Another out-of-state Buckeyes pledge put up a valiant effort in a heartbreaking loss.

According to Brian Perroni of 247Sports, 4-star quarterback commit Tristen Wallace accounted for 329 yards of total offense and four touchdowns as DeSoto [Texas] High School lost 41-40 against powerhouse Allen.

Wallace completed 8-of-25 passes for 168 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed 26 times for 161 yards and another two scores.

His ability to create big plays with both his arms and his legs make him an ideal fit in Meyer’s spread offense.

Additionally, a pair of in-state commits from the Buckeyes' top-ranked 2017 class helped Archbishop Hoban High School defeat rival St. Vincent-St. Mary 24-21.

According to Tim Bielik of Cleveland.com, 4-star quarterback Danny Clark passed for 100 yards and 4-star running back Todd Sibley rushed 23 times for 60 yards and a touchdown in the Knights' hard-fought playoff victory.

Meyer is known as a tenacious recruiter, and his work on the trail helped him quickly restore the Buckeyes program to prominence. 

Judging by the amount of talent he and his staff have amassed in the 2016 and 2017 classes, the Buckeyes aren’t showing any signs of slowing down anytime soon.


Sanjay Kirpalani is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes obtained firsthand and all recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.

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