On Saturday, the Georgia Bulldogs will do battle with the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets for the 108th time. Georgia has won 64 of the matchups, but this rivalry has heated up the last couple of years as the last two games went into overtime. The Yellow Jackets beat the Bulldogs last year for the first time since 2008.
The Bulldogs are looking to get back to their winning ways in the rivalry on Saturday to not only “run the state” for the rest of the year, but end a rough regular season on a high note.
Here’s a look at the five best Bulldog moments from the rivalry called “Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate.”
Trying to keep their bowl hopes alive, the Texas Longhorns host Texas Tech in the battle for the 2015 Chancellor's Spurs.
Now 4-6, Charlie Strong's team is fighting for its postseason life on Thanksgiving night. Luckily, the Horns get a Red Raider team that they've beaten six times in a row. Texas also gets to play at home, where its outscored its opponents 195-132
But Texas Tech has been tough this season, trailing only Baylor nationally in terms of scoring offense. If Patrick Mahomes comes out dealing, these Red Raiders have a great chance to ruin their rival's postseason chances.
You can catch tonight's Big 12 matchup over on Fox Sports 1 beginning at 7:30 p.m. ET. Follow this page throughout for live updates and analysis, then be sure to check back afterward as we grade both teams' positional units.
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Week 13 of action focuses primarily on the rivalry matchups. In these games, emotions run high—with even more of an impetus on performing well and putting up quality production.
In addition, one has to look at the recent form of the potential selections. This doesn't just include last week's performance—but rather a trend of multiple games in a row.
Lastly, there isn't much in the way of surprises at this point in the season. One essentially knows what one will get when analyzing a team and its opponents.
As such, here's an optimum lineup for Week 13.
Nick Stevens, Colorado State: $5,900
Jake Coker, Alabama: $5,500
Both Coker and Stevens have favorable matchups ahead of their games against Auburn and Fresno State, respectively. Each also has a relatively low money total.
Auburn's defense has been inconsistent at best throughout the year. It ranks No. 83 overall from a national perspective and allowed 34 points at home last week to Idaho.
While he hasn't put up gaudy numbers, Coker should be able to exploit the Tigers defense downfield with the likes of Calvin Ridley and ArDarius Stewart.
Colorado State has won three games in a row, which is in large part due to Stevens' play. He's accrued five touchdown tosses in his last two games and has been efficient with his throws.
Look for Stevens to continue this momentum against a struggling 3-8 Fresno State team.
Royce Freeman, Oregon: $7,500
Jacobi Owens, Air Force: $5,000
Freeman's price tag is a bit high, but Owens' relatively low total helps to balance things out when making running back selections.
On the year, Oregon's stud running back has rushed for 1,539 yards and 12 touchdowns. He's rushed for at least 100 yards in nine of 11 games—including seven games in a row of hitting the century mark. Freeman gets a tasty matchup in the Civil War—getting a beleaguered 2-9 Oregon State team.
Owens is coming off of a game in which he rushed for a season-high 145 yards against Boise State. Rushing to the tune of a 5.2 yards-per-carry average, Owens could have a big day against a 6-5 New Mexico squad this weekend.
Fred Ross, MSU: $5,100
Ryan Switzer, UNC: $5,100
Bryce Treggs, Cal: $4,900
For his paltry money total, Ross is a potential big steal.
The Mississippi State pass-catcher has three straight games of at least 114 yards receiving. Ross has hauled in three touchdowns during this period and has been the favorite target for MSU signal-caller Dak Prescott.
Switzer is an electric player for the Tar Heels and is often lined up in multiple spots all over the field. His quickness and deep speed make him a potential home run threat on every single play. He also has a low money total for his overall talent level.
Treggs is currently in the midst of his most productive four-game stretch of the season. He's averaging 92.5 receiving yards during this period and has hauled in three touchdown catches.
Playing in a pass-happy offense, expect him to get plenty of opportunities in what should be a high-scoring affair against ASU this weekend.
Jordan Payton, UCLA: $6,000
Zack Langer, Tulsa: $5,000
This may come as a surprise to some, but Tulsa running back Zack Langer has 16 touchdowns and 700 rushing yards in only nine games of action.
A big back, his bruising style works exceptionally well in goal-line opportunities. He had two touchdowns last week in the loss to Navy and is primed to collect a few more this week against a 3-8 Tulane squad.
Langer's low money total also necessitates a look. He may not accrue a ton of yardage on the ground, but he's a big threat to collect at least one touchdown.
Payton is unquestionably the top target for UCLA freshman sensation signal-caller Josh Rosen. On the year, Payton leads the team with 71 grabs for 1,009 yards and four touchdowns. In the win over Utah last week, he became UCLA's all-time leader in receptions.
Against crosstown rival Southern Cal, look for Payton to be a focal point of the passing attack.
Money Total: $50,000
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It's rivalry week in the ACC!
While you're feeling stuffed from Thanksgiving, why not enjoy a great slate of games on the new television you bought amid a crazy rush of crazed people on Black Friday?
There are plenty of tasty and tantalizing matchups littered throughout the weekend in ACC land. Due to the fact that the rivalries span across the country, there are multiple intra-conference games with considerable implications on both postseason play and in terms of regional perception (especially when it comes to recruiting).
The University of Washington and head football coach Chris Petersen have agreed to a two-year contract extension that will keep him with the school through the 2020 season, per Pete Thamel of Sports Illustrated, and pay him $4 million a year in 2019 and 2020. The school confirmed the deal on its website Thursday.
Petersen, 51, is in his second season as Washington's head coach after taking over for Steve Sarkisian. He's gone 13-12 with the Huskies, and the team heads into its Apple Cup matchup against Washington State at 5-6 on the year, looking to secure bowl eligibility.
Petersen would assuredly prefer his team finished the year at .500. When asked about the possibility of a 5-7 team making a bowl this year, he expressed some distaste with the current landscape.
“Ugh. … I think there’s too many bowls," Petersen said Monday, per Adam Jude of the Seattle Times. "I’ll say that, if we’re talking about that.”
He added, "I will say this—everybody likes to play football. So to get a chance to play another game and all those things, that’s one issue. But again, a long time ago, when Washington was playing in Rose Bowls, it was like the Rose Bowl or nothing, I think, way back when. So that’s kind of how I grew up, as well."
The hope going forward is that Washington will be doing more than qualifying for lower-tier bowl games. Petersen led Boise State to two BCS bowl wins during his tenure with the Broncos and, with many premier jobs expected to open up this offseason, likely would have been a hot name on the market.
His continued commitment to Washington is an excellent sign for the school, however, as the Huskies look to build a program as consistently excellent as the one Petersen constructed with Boise State.
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According to a report from Gary Fineout of the Associated Press, the former director of the Florida State University’s victim advocate program detailed 20 claims of sexual assault and said “she was concerned that athletes get preferential treatment during investigations of misconduct.”
Melissa Ashton held the victim advocate position until August and “made the statement in a deposition given this past June in an ongoing civil lawsuit” filed by a former student against the university. Fineout also reported that Ashton said “most of the 20 victims who alleged sexual assaults by team members during the past nine years declined to press student conduct charges.”
The student who brought the civil lawsuit to the school did so because she said Florida State did not respond to her allegations that she was sexually assaulted by former quarterback Jameis Winston. Winston won the Heisman Trophy and led the Seminoles to a national title during his college career, but he was often under the public microscope because of these allegations.
Winston was cleared of any wrongdoing by Florida State following a hearing, and a Florida prosecutor didn’t press criminal charges and said there wasn’t enough evidence for a conviction.
Fineout added “Ashton estimated that her office had probably dealt with as many as 40 cases involving football players and other incidents of ‘intimate-partner violence.’”
Ashton suggested many who said they were sexually assaulted by football players did not go through with the process because of fear of retaliation based on what happened in prior cases.
A Florida State spokeswoman said the school “could not confirm or deny Ashton’s figures because her ‘communication with victims is confidential,’” per Fineout.
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Final full week of the 2015 college football season, what have you got for us?
Let's see, there are the annual rivalry games, some that transcend their regions and others that only matter to the local fans. There are the clashes that will further shape the playoff picture as well as ones that will clinch division or conference titles for the winners. And there are 14 matchups featuring a team that's a win away from being bowl-eligible.
It starts with some post-Thanksgiving dinner appetizers and continues with a healthy helping of Black Friday action, then we finish with 43 more games on the last full Saturday of competition. Who will win each one? Check out our predictions for every Week 13 game, then give us your thoughts in the comments section.
NOTE: All rankings used are based on the College Football Playoff standings.
Last week: 40-18 (.690)
Season: 564-188 (.750)
Jim Harbaugh and Urban Meyer have observed drastic differences in quarterback performances at Michigan and Ohio State, and the mixed results are a direct result of coaching.
Michigan boasts Harbaugh, who played 14 NFL seasons at the position, and Jedd Fisch, a career assistant who coached the Seattle Seahawks quarterbacks in 2010 and molded Stephen Morris into an above-average college gunslinger at Miami.
Ohio State, on the other hand, has felt the effects of Tom Herman's departure both in the quarterback coaching and play-calling departments.
Earlier in 2015, Christopher Jason of Land-Grant Holy Land warned that co-offensive coordinators Ed Warinner and (QBs coach) Tim Beck were on the verge of crashing Ohio State's Ferrari. According to Jason, they totaled it during the loss to Michigan State.
Although weather didn't help, the Buckeyes strayed from attempting downfield shots against MSU. However, it was a bad season-long trend becoming glaringly obvious in a loss.
"It's shocking—especially with the speed at the skill positions—how little Ohio State has thrown the ball downfield. That's what's most shocking to me," Bleacher Report's Adam Kramer said. "It's clear the offense has needed a jolt, and yet, it's almost like the coaches refuse to test that aspect of the offense."
Cardale Jones and J.T. Barrett have few problems throwing the deep ball, and they have great weapons. Bleacher Report's Matt Miller considers wide receivers Michael Thomas a first-round talent and Braxton Miller a second-rounder.
Instead of utilizing those standouts—as well as Curtis Samuel, Jalin Marshall and a slew of young wideouts—downfield, the Buckeyes have looked for yards after the catch instead of air yards.
At Michigan, it seemed like Jake Rudock couldn't connect on a deep throw if his career depended on the pass. Rudock's inability to find a speedy Jehu Chesson heavily contributed to the Maize and Blue losing the season opener at Utah.
Despite the consistent failure to hit open receivers, though, the Wolverines stuck with the calls and have started to reap the rewards.
Now, that doesn't mean Harbaugh and his staff have avoided adjustments and stubbornly stuck with what wasn't working because "This is how we do things, execution be darned."
Michigan relied on the running game during September, but the team's attack has shifted toward a dependence on Rudock. Put simply, the offensive line is significantly better in pass protection than at run blocking.
Rudock's improvement is largely a product of game-planning.
Against Rutgers in particular, the Wolverines used screens and misdirection calls to create passing lanes. Rudock isn't an elite quarterback, but these throws are simple for him, and he's regularly performing.
Although the Buckeyes have tried to manipulate a few parts of their offense, the biggest change is a larger focus on Barrett's dual-threat prowess and sending him on designed runs. The passing game itself has lacked productive tweaks.
"It's hard to say exactly what adjustments have been made because nothing has really stuck," Kramer said. "While Ohio State has made a conscious effort to run both—something that was evident against Michigan State in the elements—the offense has been unable to find a complete balance."
Fortunately for OSU, the vast amount of talent elsewhere on the roster gives the Buckeyes a wider margin of error.
Whether it was Miller spinning a defender out of his shoes, Ezekiel Elliott ripping off a long run or the defense rising up late, Ohio State has atoned for consistently mediocre quarterback play. That's the sign of a great program, but it doesn't mean a specific team is invincible.
The unimpressive campaigns from Jones, Barrett and the Buckeyes' staff have essentially dropped the defending champions out of title contention, while Michigan is a botched snap on a punt away from a Top Five ranking thanks to its quarterback.
Player performance is a reflection on the coaching staff, and the Wolverines have clearly held the edge behind center in 2015.
All recruiting information via 247Sports. Stats from cfbstats.com or B/R research. Quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Follow Bleacher Report CFB Writer David Kenyon on Twitter @Kenyon19_BR.
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The Virginia Tech Hokies (5-6, 3-4 ACC) head north to Charlottesville on Saturday to face in-state rival Virginia in head coach Frank Beamer's final regular-season game.
It's the 97th installment in the battle for the Commonwealth Cup, with the Hokies leading the series, 54-37-5.
For the Hokies, a win makes them bowl-eligible for the 23rd consecutive season. Officially, that is the nation's longest current streak.
On the other side, Virginia (4-7, 3-4 ACC) looks to finish the season with a two-game winning streak and a little positive momentum heading into 2016. And, of course, spoiling Beamer's final game would give UVA bragging rights for the foreseeable future.
The Hokies have won the past 11 meetings and 15 of 16 in this rivalry. Virginia Tech defeated Virginia last season, 24-20, on a last-second drive to become bowl-eligible.
- When: Saturday, November 28, 2015
- Where: Scott Stadium, Charlottesville, Virginia
- Time: Noon ET
- TV: ESPNU
- Radio: Virginia Tech IMG Sports Network. Here is a complete list of stations by area.
- Spread: The Hokies are 3.5-point favorites, via Odds Shark.
Things have a tendency to get weird on rivalry weekends, and why would we expect anything different from a season that has already had plenty of unpredictability?
This is the time of the season for something—or somethings—out of the ordinary. Championship contenders could watch their dreams go down the drain thanks to their most hated of rivals. Playoff pictures can get turned upside down.
It's prime time for chaos.
I've already made my against-the-spread picks this week for each of the Top 25 games, and the flavor of my predictions was quite vanilla. But, faced with the task of marking out some bold predictions for rivalry week, I decided to walk more on the wild side.
Have any bold predictions for rivalry weekend that you could see coming to fruition? Shout them out in the comments below.
When Frisco, Texas, cornerback Raleigh Texada saw his older brother, TCU cornerback Ranthony Texada II , commit on July 16, 2012, he knew that experience was something he wanted for himself when the time was right.
March 5 was Raleigh's big day, and when the announcement officially dropped, it did two things.
It made Baylor fans extremely happy, and it made fans of college football rivalries scratch their heads.
Raleigh Texada, the athlete with the big brother making his name for himself as a shutdown corner for TCU, committed to the Horned Frogs' biggest budding rival, Baylor.
Wait, what? Why? How?
"I get that a lot," Raleigh said. "but it's probably more from the fans of the schools than anything. It's not from my brother. He was the first one happy for me."
While the TCU-Baylor rivalry is a big deal to fans of the Horned Frogs and Bears (it'll be relived on Friday in Fort Worth, Texas), the Texada brothers see things differently in their household. Both schools were big in recruiting Ranthony, and TCU ultimately won the recruiting efforts. Raleigh was recruited by TCU but was never offered.
Baylor, on the other hand, put an offer on the table. Consider Raleigh's commitment an opportunity to show what he's made of at the next level.
And consider everybody in the family happy for Raleigh. Even those who have become TCU fans because of his older brother.
"The thing about Raleigh is, he was a kid who was always compared to his big brother," said Ranthony Texada I, the father of the brothers. "A lot of people said he was just trying to follow in his big brother's path, but he had big shoes to fill with his brother being [high school] all-state and [a second-team freshman] All-American.
"I told Raleigh to just be who you are to where you can achieve some of the same goals, but not come across it the same way. He went out and put in the work. He got his speed up, lived in the weight room and became something no one thought he could be."
The younger Texada shined as a defensive back and special teams returner and made it routine to play on an island for Centennial High School. He finished the season with 40 tackles, two interceptions and six pass deflections, according to MaxPreps.com. He also scored five touchdowns during the season—three as a punt returner, one off an interception and one on offense as a rusher.
"I'm a playmaker," Raleigh said. "I go out and take care of my assignment. All year, I've locked down my side of the field [at cornerback] and played special teams as a punt returner. On kick returns, nobody kicked to me. On the field, I feel like I can make big-time plays at the next level."
His ability to be an electric athlete reminds a lot of people of Ranthony II, who had nearly 20 offers out of high school. Ranthony II currently is recovering from a season-ending knee injury in September against SMU. Before that, he was a reliable member of the secondary who started all 13 games as a redshirt freshman for the Horned Frogs' Peach Bowl-winning squad last season.
Raleigh played well enough in high school to earn offers from Baylor, Washington, Purdue, Duke and Cal. TCU liked Raleigh but not enough to offer him. He never took it personally; if anything, he used it as motivation.
"I went to a camp there going into my junior year," Raleigh said of TCU. "They really never showed any interest. They never really recruited me, but Baylor did. My brother likes Baylor for how they recruited me."
Ranthony I added: "Baylor jumped on Raleigh early. TCU saw Ranthony at a camp and spent a lot of time on him. I told Baylor if they really like Raleigh, spend a lot of time with him. They didn't leave any stones unturned. Now, Raleigh's grown into someone they're very excited about."
Recruited by both linebackers coach Jim Gush and cornerbacks coach Carlton Buckels, Raleigh finished his high school as a three-year varsity football player. The 5'11", 165-pound athlete also is a standout sprinter for the Centennial track and field team. He's advanced to regional competition as a sprinter and has a personal-best time in the 100-meter dash of 10.54 seconds.
Raleigh said having the opportunity to run track also played in his decision to choose. But when asked about the primary reason for his choice, he pointed to the coaching staff, led by head coach Art Briles.
"I feel like he's a real player's coach," he said. "He's really cool; I like him a lot. My family loves him and the whole coaching staff. I've built good relationships with all the coaches."
Raleigh is excited about the future and putting on a Baylor uniform. But just because he looks up to his big brother doesn't mean he's ready to give the rival team as many losses as possible.
"It is a rivalry, and they do take shots at each other," Ranthony I said. "They love each other, but they've criticized each other based on the Baylor-TCU thing. I hate it as a dad, but it's in their blood. Plus, with a lot of my family, TCU is their first love because of Ranthony. They're slowly transitioning into liking Baylor, too, because of Raleigh."
As the Horned Frogs prepare to host the Bears on Friday, expect the brothers to root for their respective teams. But for 364 out of 365 days a year, look for them to be each other's biggest fans.
Look, also, for Raleigh to become the best he can be. To him, it's all about making a name for himself, rather than being known as the little brother of the TCU standout.
"I'll be rooting for Baylor, and he'll be rooting for TCU," Raleigh said of his brother. "I know he wants TCU to win bad, too. But at the end of the day, I know that he's excited for me and has nothing but love for me."
Ranthony I added: "The love they've shown for each other, I can't ask for anything more. My dream as their father is to have TCU and Baylor line up with both of my boys on the field at the same time."
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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A handful of schools are battling it out for the right to land 5-star defensive end Oluwole Betiku.
Among the schools that Betiku has visited recently include Florida State, Notre Dame, Texas A&M and USC.
With the 6’3.5”, 240-pounder—who is rated as the nation’s top weak-side defensive end and the No. 10 prospect overall in the 2016 class—scheduled to enroll at the school of his choice in January, he knows that a decision will have to be made soon on where he continues his career.
For Betiku—who is originally from Lagos, Nigeria, and is only in his second full season playing the sport of football—it’s a big step in a journey that has taken him from being a newcomer to one of the nation’s most coveted recruits in a short period of time.
He admits that his decision will be tough to make.
“Feelings change every day. Sometimes, you wake up one morning and you feel a certain way about a school,” Betiku said. “That’s why I’m so careful about committing to a school.”
One thing that has been paramount in his mind has been the type of scheme he wants to play in at the college level. However, that’s something he’s changed his stance on recently, instead preferring to keep an open mind on potentially playing an outside linebacker position in a 3-4 defense.
“For a player like me who just began playing the game, I was so focused on playing and how I fit in a scheme and being a 4-3 defensive end and things like that,” Betiku explained. “But after this year and developing as a player and understanding the game more, I feel like I’m athletic enough to play outside linebacker or change positions in college.”
His last visit came on Nov. 14 when he made his way to check out the Fighting Irish program.
“What’s cool about Notre Dame to me is the tradition and the education,” he said. “I’ve known about Notre Dame since I was in Nigeria. Just getting a chance to see what the college and the program and game situation and talking with the coaches and the academic staff.”
One factor he paid close attention to on his recent visits was the campus setting at each school.
“You go to some schools on a visit, and you walk around the school and no one wants to talk to you or relate with you,” Betiku said. "If you are a people person, you can’t fit in a program like that. I want to enjoy my college stay and college career.”
Given that his journey has taken him from his home country to Maryland and to his current home of Los Angeles, distance will not play a factor in his decision. Instead, Betiku wants to find the best fit for his talents on the field and a place where he can also get it done in the classroom.
“It’s going to come down to where I feel most comfortable and where I feel like I will have the best opportunities whether I play football or I don’t play football,” Betiku said. “I know I will play because I’m a hard worker. But I want to put myself in position to be the best person I can be and get the best degree. That’s what it comes down to.”
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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Wisconsin Badgers running back Corey Clement has received a citation for two counts of disorderly conduct stemming from an incident earlier this month.
According to WKOW 27 in Madison, Wisconsin, Clement was cited as a result of a fight that took place at the HUB student apartments on Nov. 8.
Wisconsin released a statement on Clement, per Adam Rittenberg of ESPN:
On Nov. 12, per USA Today, the University of Wisconsin issued a statement saying the junior running back suffered a cut on his hand "after he witnessed a verbal altercation between a security guard and a group of people at his apartment building" and he later became involved when he was "assaulted by the individuals in the dispute."
However, per the WKOW 27 report, Madison Police said the university’s story about Clement "defending himself was not reflected in the video footage they obtained in the investigation."
Clement has played sparingly in 2015, appearing in three games after undergoing sports hernia surgery at the end of September. He was slated to play an integral role in the Badgers' offense, taking over for Melvin Gordon as the No. 1 running back.
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In the last several years, the action at the Iron Bowl has either been unrelenting or unexpected.
The former has taken place a few times in the Nick Saban era for Alabama. The Crimson Tide won the 2008, 2011 and 2012 matchups by a combined score of 127-14. Alabama was one of the top two teams in the country on all three occasions—just like it is this weekend.
The latter, however, has taken place four times since the 2008 drubbing that ended Auburn's long winning streak in the series under Tommy Tuberville.
Two of those games, the 2010 and 2013 matchups, ended with two of the most iconic wins in Auburn history—Cam Newton's 24-point comeback and Chris Davis' 100-plus-yard field-goal return.
The 2009 and 2014 Iron Bowls featured a narrow loss for a seven-win Auburn team and a surprising 55-44 shootout defeat for an eight-win one.
On Saturday, a 6-5 Auburn team will look for another unexpected result against another Alabama team that seems destined to play in the national championship game. And it's safe to say the majority of analysts expect another unrelenting win this weekend for the dominant Crimson Tide.
As Kevin Scarbinsky of AL.com noted this week, an upset for Auburn would be the biggest one in school history. A ranked Alabama team is 23-1 all-time against an unranked Auburn team, with the 2002 Tigers knocking off the No. 9 Tide by a score of 17-7 coming as the lone loss.
What will it take for Auburn to make that record 23-2? Here are three keys to success, with some lessons from the Tigers' most recent Iron Bowl victories and near-misses.
Contain Alabama's Rushing Attack
Alabama will bring its Heisman Trophy-contending running back, Derrick Henry, into Jordan-Hare Stadium this weekend. The junior leads the nation in rushing touchdowns and has recorded at least 100 yards on the ground against all but one SEC opponent this season.
Six years ago, the Tide brought a running back with a similar resume to the Plains in Mark Ingram. The eventual Heisman winner didn't have as many touchdowns that season, but he was consistently great in conference games and averaged 6.49 yards per carry heading into the Iron Bowl.
But Auburn's much-maligned 2009 defense didn't let Ingram run all over the field in that Iron Bowl matchup. He finished the game with 30 yards on 16 carries, and teammate Trent Richardson only put up 51 of his own.
The next season, when Auburn defeated Alabama in comeback fashion, Ingram only had 36 yards on 10 carries, and Richardson chipped in 24.
Priority No. 1 this year for Auburn is preventing Henry from rampaging through the heart of its defense like the Alabama back has done to plenty of teams—similarly to what LSU's Leonard Fournette did to the Tigers earlier this season.
"You look on film and it’s hard for one guy to tackle him," Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn said in quotes emailed by the school. "He’s a big, strong guy and fast. He doesn’t need too much of an opening. He has a lot of explosive plays. He can finish... He’s not going down real easy when he gets to the second level."
Auburn's run defense has had much more success against the run since the ill-fated trip to Baton Rouge—thanks in part to the return of top defender Carl Lawson—but it hasn't faced a test quite like Henry since meeting Fournette.
"We're definitely a better defense now than we were at the beginning of the season," Auburn linebacker Kris Frost said, per Duane Rankin of the Montgomery Advertiser. "That doesn't take anything away from the fact that this is going to be a big challenge for us. We're going to have to throw a lot of things at (Henry)."
Auburn must prevent Henry from doing too much damage in the second level and force tougher third-down situations for the Alabama offense.
In 2013, the Tigers stopped Alabama running back T.J. Yeldon on several short-yardage plays that led to missed field goals and a crucial turnover on downs.
Stopping Henry will be a nearly impossible task, but slowing him down from his incredible pace will give Auburn a lot more chances to succeed on both sides of the ball.
Force Mistakes and Take Full Advantage of Them
A fumble forced from behind sparked the 2010 comeback. Those missed field goals and the turnover on downs gave Auburn a chance to pull off a legendary finish in 2013.
Last season, Auburn had several opportunities to put more points on the board against an Alabama team that threw three interceptions, gave away a couple of costly penalties and blew several coverages. But the Tigers settled for field goals too often, including a 20-yarder at the end of the first half.
As Bleacher Report's Christopher Walsh noted in his preview of the Iron Bowl, mistakes hurt Alabama in its loss to Ole Miss, and Auburn has to capitalize on any of those on Saturday:
Everyone knows that Alabama’s only loss this season came in a game it had five turnovers, but it’s had no more than two in any game since then, and just one opponent had an edge in turnover ratio, Arkansas (two to one).
Two years ago, the Tigers got the Kick-Six to win, 34-28. Four years ago, it got a fumble recovery in the end zone and Onterio McCalebb’s 83-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, but it still lost, 42-14.
Alabama has scored eight non-offensive touchdowns this season. Auburn has scored two but has a history of getting them in this game.
If Auburn's defense can get Alabama into those tougher situations on offense, the Tigers may have some shots at momentum-changing interceptions.
Alabama quarterback Jake Coker has thrown a pick in six of 11 games this season, and Auburn's shaky secondary has had 11 interceptions in the past seven games—including seven in the last four.
And when Auburn gets those opportunities, it must turn them into touchdowns on the other end of the field.
Let's just ask Twitter if kicking a lot of field goals will beat Alabama:
Auburn has a newly announced Lou Groza finalist in Daniel Carlson at kicker, but the Tigers need to use him more on extra points than field goals if they want to beat the Tide this season.
Throw Them Everything You've Got on Offense
His strategy and play-calling have received their fair share of criticism this season, but one can't argue that Malzahn doesn't know how to dial up a few big plays against a team like Alabama.
In 2009, his first year as an Auburn coordinator, he got a 67-yard touchdown off a reverse to receiver Terrell Zachary. The 2010 showdown featured a perfectly designed rollout toss to the late Phillip Lutzenkirchen that served as the game-winning touchdown. Nick Marshall's pop pass to Sammie Coates tied the game in 2013.
So does Malzahn have any more surprise plays up his sleeve for the Tide this season? A reporter asked him that at his weekly press conference, and he went on a surprising little rant.
"You guys are trying to give all my secrets away, you know?" Malzahn said. "What else we want to tell them? Reverses? Any reverses? Y’all want some reverses? OK, we’ll run some reverses, all right. You want some trick plays? We’ll run some trick plays. Want to know what they’re called? Just ask me."
Malzahn, who also said, "I'm not telling you" when asked if Auburn's game plan included long passes, is being extra-guarded this week as his inconsistent offense faces one of the nation's toughest defenses.
It's going to take some surprises and a total team effort to succeed. Alabama's defensive front is one of the best college football has seen in quite some time, and it shut down Fournette earlier this month.
But the run game still needs to be a key of Auburn's offense. The Tigers are run-first at their core, even when Malzahn tries to force the issue too much through the air with quarterbacks Jeremy Johnson and Sean White.
Auburn will look to spring big plays on the ground through its counters and misdirection, trying to get those tough Tide defenders out of position.
It can attack the defense in a variety of ways, from the hard running of Peyton Barber to the all-around playmaking of Jovon Robinson to the speed on the edges from Roc Thomas, Kerryon Johnson and Ricardo Louis. If Johnson gets the nod as starting quarterback, he might be used to hit Alabama on read-options.
"We're going to need them all," Auburn offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee said, per Ryan Black of Auburn Undercover.
That will open things up for Auburn to hit an Alabama secondary that, while vastly improved in coverage from last season, has allowed some big yardage numbers in 2015.
Sustained success against this Alabama defense for one of Malzahn's least efficient offenses is far from expected, but this is the Iron Bowl—a legendary rivalry that doesn't always stick to the script.
Unless otherwise noted, statistics courtesy of cfbstats.com.
Justin Ferguson is a college football writer at Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @JFergusonBR.
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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — It was a play that no one watching will ever forget, now simply known as the “Kick Six.”
After a replay review of Alabama’s final offensive play determined that there was still one second remaining on the clock when running back T.J. Yeldon stepped out of bounds, head coach Nick Saban decided to go for a potential game-winning 57-yard field-goal attempt.
All eyes were on the ball as it came off Adam Griffith’s foot and sailed into the night air, but that was the problem for the Crimson Tide—hardly anyone on the field was thinking about what could come next.
At the last moment, Auburn coach Gus Malzahn inserted Chris Davis in the end zone in case the kick landed short, and that’s what happened. He caught it and returned it 100-plus yards to score the most unbelievable, if not improbable, touchdown in college football history.
“I just kind of walked off the field,” Alabama senior center Ryan Kelly recalled this week. “That’s all I want to talk about it. It wasn’t a great feeling. A lot of guys on this team were there then. You definitely don’t forget something like that.”
Saturday, Alabama returns to the scene of the crime, if you will, Jordan-Hare Stadium, where the 2013 game between the No. 1 and No. 4 teams determined which between them would have a chance to win the Southeastern Conference and national championships.
Although Auburn didn’t draw chalk outlines of the Crimson Tide afterward, it did retrace Davis’ steps along the home team’s sideline and into the end zone, and fans stormed the field and did the equivalent of dancing on Alabama’s grave long into the night.
Meanwhile, below the stands, the visiting team was in shock.
“I just can’t believe it happened,” linebacker C.J. Mosley said while echoing what everyone in the locker room felt after the stunning 34-28 loss. “Nobody ever expected that.”
That went double for Mosley, who had come back for his senior year to try and lead Alabama to a possible three-peat after capturing the 2011 and 2012 national titles.
Now imagine what it was like for the guy sitting in the adjoining locker.
“Any chance you get a chance to finish them, finish them off,” said linebacker Reggie Ragland, now a senior. “It's in the back of my mind. I know I remember being on the sideline, me and Landon [Collins] beside each other, and just watching the guy run down the field. You just drop your helmet and just walk off the field in disbelief and you're sad.
“You look in the eyes of some of the seniors and you see them crying in the locker room and stuff like that. That hurts your feelings, knowing that you didn't do your job enough to get the win for them. So we gotta come out, and we gotta do our job and gotta try to get this win."
Similar to 2013, and nearly every other year since Saban arrived in 2007, a lot’s at stake for No. 2 Alabama: another division title, another trip to Atlanta for the SEC Championship Game and potentially more.
It’s also Auburn, and while the Tigers would like nothing more than to derail another Crimson Tide season and hurt running back Derrick Henry’s chances of winning the Heisman Trophy, the rivalry alone makes this a different game.
Unlike a lot of other high-profile games this weekend, like Michigan-Ohio State, there’s no state border involved. This divides communities, neighbors and families in the state that cares about nothing more than college football.
“My cousin, Wallace [Gilberry], played at Bama, so I was always a Bama fan,” junior linebacker Ryan Anderson said. “When I was younger, going to school, kids were holding up their thumb. What was it, six in a row, seven in a row [that Auburn won]? I really hated that. I hated it more than anything. So it means a lot to me.
“I don’t talk to my family that are Auburn fans.”
Saban was correct when he said, “I don't think what happened two years ago there has any impact on what's going to happen in this game,” but at some point, every Alabama player who was there in 2013 will remember what that day was like.
He’ll think of the play and the fans rushing the field, and he'll remember what the subsequent months were like.
And then the Alabama players will buckle down their chin straps and try to ignore that, the crowd and every single pain-in-the-rear thing Malzahn’s coaching staff dreamed up for them.
“I think that’s the biggest part of it—just playing your responsibilities,” senor cornerback Cyrus Jones said. “Nobody trying to do nothing spectacular or out of character or trying to make a big play—just doing your job, being in the right spot at the right time and being where you’re supposed to be. That’s what it’s going to come down to—just fundamental football.”
Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.
Christopher Walsh is a lead SEC college football writer. Follow Christopher on Twitter @WritingWalsh.
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Rivalry week and Thanksgiving weekend: Never a bad combination.
For college football fans, the opportunity to eat and watch a lot of football literally is days away. And with the schedule on deck, fans can't go wrong with their options.
Stanford will host Notre Dame for the Legends Trophy, and in-state rivals Ole Miss and Mississippi State will play the Egg Bowl in Starkville. The Los Angeles crowd will have the classic UCLA-USC affair at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
The state of South Carolina will be divided, as the South Carolina Gamecocks host Clemson. Oklahoma and Oklahoma State will battle in Stillwater for the annual Bedlam series. And then there's college football's budding rivalry of TCU and Baylor, which will take place Friday in Fort Worth.
All of the rivalry games will be entertaining, but there are select programs hoping to also impress key recruits who plan on being in attendance for the games. Here are three rivalry games to keep an eye on that will host some of the nation's best athletes in the 2016 class.
Ohio State at Michigan
Never a dull moment, this game will be one that Michigan fans hope will turn things around in a series Ohio State has dominated since the start of the 21st century. Since 2001, Michigan is 2-11 in the matchup.
A big win over the reigning national champions could parlay into a nice recruiting haul regarding the uncommitted athletes expected to be in attendance. And Michigan has a shot to handle business in front of an esteemed group of athletes.
The nation's top-ranked athlete, 5-star Mecole Hardman Jr., headlines the list of athletes who will be on an official visit. The nation's top-ranked guard, 4-star Terrance Davis, also will take an official visit.
Michigan also is expected to host a group of 4-star Texas linebackers in Dontavious Jackson and Jeffrey McCulloch. Consider the weekend a chance for the Wolverines to potentially flip a few players, as well. USC receiver pledge Velus Jones Jr. is expected to be in attendance.
Alabama at Auburn
The Iron Bowl never disappoints, and recruits know this. A big list of players is expected to be at Auburn this weekend on an official visit—including the nation's top-ranked overall player, Rashan Gary.
The 5-star defensive tackle headlines a list of potential Auburn commits that also features the nation's top-ranked running back in Kareem Walker as well as 4-star offensive tackle Landon Dickerson. With Kyle Davis, the nation's top-ranked receiver, committing Wednesday morning, the Tigers are hoping the weekend will be one for the books, recruiting wise.
Alabama, of course, has plans of its own. Many athletes considering playing for Gus Malzahn also are considering playing for Nick Saban. A solid performance by the Crimson Tide could be just enough to sway athletes toward them. Even worse, a bad performance by Auburn could take the Tigers out of the mix for good.
You can bet that the Auburn commits expected to be in attendance, such as 4-star receiver Eli Stove and 4-star cornerback John Broussard, will be around hyping up their future homes to the uncommitted, win or lose.
Florida State at Florida
The battle of the state of Florida's two oldest public universities will be a much-anticipated one. The teams don't like each other, and the atmosphere at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium will be electric.
The official visitors list isn't long, but it does include Michigan linebacker commit David Reese. An atmosphere like the one in Gainesville could be enough to flip Reese, who reportedly has been wavering from his commitment to the Wolverines, per InsideTheVille.
The list of unofficial visitors is the list to keep an eye on this weekend, particularly with 4-star quarterback Feleipe Franks expected to be in attendance. Franks decommitted from LSU on Monday, and per Bleacher Report's Tyler Donohue, there's a good chance he signs with Florida.
A few 4-star athletes who could make the trip to Gainesville include Miami receiver commit Sam Bruce, uncommitted receiver Nate Craig-Myers, Florida State defensive end commit Janarius Robinson and the committed 4-star Gators duo of cornerback Chauncey Gardner and receiver Freddie Swain, who recently signed written offers of admissions.
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Every year, often the week of the national title game, the American Football Coaches Association hosts its annual convention at a major city around the country.
It’s an opportunity to hear coaches from all levels detail their philosophies, discuss organizational details, diagram plays and break down film. Mostly, though, it’s a chance to network their way into jobs or catch up at the bar with an old friend.
Although he is by no means a regular at the convention nowadays, two years ago Nick Saban was a featured speaker and regaled an overflow crowd with tales of his past. This came a week after one of his own proteges, Jimbo Fisher, had won the national title at Florida State. A day after Saban took the stage in Indianapolis back in 2014, another former assistant did the same in Michigan State’s Mark Dantonio.
While he can at times appear gruff, the 64-year-old soon-to-be dean of FBS coaching still maintains plenty of friendly relationships with his peers in both college and the NFL. That’s especially true for many who once worked for him over the years and occupy a branch on Saban’s sometimes complicated coaching tree.
As he aims to bring yet another national title to Tuscaloosa this season, Saban may have to take a unique path to hoisting another trophy by handing losses to coaches he once called colleagues. In fact, the Crimson Tide’s path to Glendale is littered with people who could best be termed "frenemies" of the team’s head coach.
Starting this Saturday against Alabama’s bitter rival Auburn, Saban will face off against three coaches who were once on his staff in some capacity in defensive coordinator Will Muschamp, linebackers coach Lance Thompson and co-offensive coordinator Dameyune Craig.
Few give the Tigers much of a chance to pull off an upset for the ages, but coaches’ intimate knowledge of Saban’s much-discussed “process” that he uses to run his program will surely pay some dividends on the field even if it does not ultimately change the result on the scoreboard at Jordan-Hare Stadium this week.
“Any time you play against somebody you worked with, it gives you an idea of what they like to do and what their thoughts are on how they like to play,” Saban said. “Obviously them being with you, they know some of the things that you like to do. I think you do take that into consideration but I’m not sure you can change what you do that dramatically.”
The following Saturday in the SEC title game, Alabama could face a Florida team with plenty of connections to Saban. Jim McElwain and Doug Nussmeier each helped win a national title for the Tide as offensive coordinators. Gators defensive coordinator Geoff Collins was the Director of Player Personnel in Saban’s first season in Tuscaloosa. Defensive line coach Chris Rumph has two rings thanks to his tenure at Alabama.
Speaking of McElwain, his rivalry-week game will pit him against another former Saban offensive coordinator in Gainesville on Saturday. That’s nothing new for many Gators fans and Seminoles lovers given how they are already familiar with Fisher’s relation to the previous Florida coach (if you haven’t heard, he shares a beach house with Muschamp).
“I have a lot of respect for Jim McElwain. We're not personal close friends, but I know him, and I think he's an outstanding guy. I've communicated with him in the past, and we have a lot of common friends and everything,” said Fisher. “I hate to say it, I know you've got friends on the other side, but if I was playing my brother, I would still compete. I still have a lot of respect for him, but it's a rivalry game. It's important.”
Perhaps even stranger than those two meeting this week may be the path that lies ahead for their former boss if Alabama advances from Atlanta: a date with Dantonio and Michigan State in a potential College Football Playoff semifinal pairing. While Dantonio also has connections to Earle Bruce and Jim Tressel among others, it was Saban who first brought him on board in East Lansing in the mid-1990s.
While not every coach, including several of the ones listed above, would get much more than a handshake on game day from Saban or a quick exchange of pleasantries outside of football, the sometimes incestuous nature of coaching relationships means one doesn’t have to travel far to bump into somebody you either worked with or worked for. That’s especially true for somebody who has been in the game as long as Saban.
Fellow West Virginia native Rich Rodriguez knows all too well what it’s like to know his counterpart on the other sideline. He first came across Todd Graham when each reached the 1993 NAIA championship (Graham won and is 3-1 against Rodriguez in his current role) and then later hired him at West Virginia. Now the two are among the highest paid public employees in the state of Arizona and go head-to-head each season.
“We’ve known each other for a long, long time but when you’re coaching in a rivalry, you don’t communicate as much as you normally would. We’ll see each other at Pac-12 meetings or a couple of other functions but, because he’s a rival, you just don’t converse,” Rodriguez remarked. “Todd’s done a great job wherever he’s been but we don’t root for him because he’s our rival.”
While both would rather talk out of range of microphones and far from a camera, after last Saturday’s 52-37 victory in favor of the Sun Devils, both head coaches shared a warm embrace that went well beyond the usual postgame pleasantries. Many of the two teams’ staff members did the same seeing as most worked for one or the other head coach during stops at West Virginia, Pitt, Michigan, Tulsa or another place on the college football map.
The Territorial Cup rivalry is just as fierce on the field as other more famous college football games, and the bitterness between fan bases is right there among the nastiest in the country. Such intertwining relationships between Sun Devils coaches and their peers in Wildcats gear may be hard for some fans to fathom, even if they are held at arm's length most of the time, but it’s simply the reality in both Tucson and Tempe at the moment.
Neither Rodriguez nor Graham would openly root for the other, but beneath the surface, there’s respect for the other side. Add in the interesting dynamic of Rodriguez’s offensive pedigree against Graham’s penchant for aggressive defense, and you have one of the more polar-opposite pairs of coaching frenemies in the country.
The Grand Canyon State is not the only section of the Pac-12 to feature friendly head coaches despite being at two schools that are bitter rivals on the field.
Salt Lake City native Gary Andersen has been tasked with rebuilding Oregon State but talks or texts often with close friend and former boss Kyle Whittingham, Utah’s head coach. The two coached together for a number of years and then later faced off against each other when Andersen was at Utah State earlier in his career. They met again on Halloween this year in a 27-12 victory for the Utes.
Andersen was no doubt back to being friendly this week as his Beavers prepare to face Oregon in the annual Civil War game. The Utes throttled the Ducks earlier this season 62-20 in Eugene, and while a similar result may be unfathomable for 2-9 OSU to replicate, every little bit helps for a frenemy in need.
“Kyle and I haven’t really discussed that yet but we did watch that game as a staff,” Andersen said Tuesday, before noting he faces a much tougher task than Whittingham with a healthy Vernon Adams in the lineup for Oregon. “There were a lot of things that went the way of the Utes that day.”
Speaking of the Ducks, fans probably conveniently forget that one of head coach Mark Helfrich’s best friends is none other than the head coach at bitter rival Washington, Chris Petersen. The pair first met when both were on Mike Bellotti’s staff in Eugene and also overlapped for a season at Boise State.
Now they’re on opposite sides of one of the Pacific Northwest’s most hostile rivalries.
“I have not talked to Pete this week. It just varies. Some guys you’ll talk to once or twice and rarely is it schematically related,” Helfrich said. “Sometimes it’s a global football issue or other times it’s just checking in on them, whether it’s a tough time or an injury situation. Not too often during the season do we get a chance to do more than that.”
Farther south, there will be no warm pregame embrace for Jim Mora, but for very different reasons. As his UCLA team battles crosstown rival USC with a trip to the Pac-12 title game on the line, missing from the opposite sideline will be Steve Sarkisian after he was dismissed earlier this season
Mora grew close to Sarkisian when the latter was coaching at Washington. An NFL lifer and son of a longtime NFL head coach, Mora was a welcome visitor around the Huskies facilities and credits Sarkisian immensely in getting him interested in the college game. The Bruins head man will take to the field at the Coliseum on Saturday thinking about the former coach at his crosstown rival as he sorts out his personal issues.
“I have not spoken with him but we have exchanged some text messages,” Mora confirmed this week. “It’s really hard, he’s a friend. I think he’s a good man. You just don’t like to see people struggle. He’s in my thoughts a lot and I just hope for the best for him as he moves forward in life.”
With rivalry week in full effect for most of the country and bowl berths, conference titles and College Football Playoff spots all on the line, it’s easy to look at the upcoming slate of games as simply School A against School B.
It’s not quite that simple when looking under the surface, however. For many who will don a headset on Friday or Saturday and spend countless hours throughout the week dissecting game film, the opponent on the other sideline is only a true enemy for 60 minutes.
Bryan Fischer is a national football columnist at Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter at @BryanDFischer.
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The coaching silly season has cranked up to high gear over the last few weeks, despite the fact that there's still a rather important rivalry weekend looming in college football.
The most surprising development of the coaching carousel so far has been the news, according to Scott Rabalais of the Advocate, that LSU appears to be on the verge of letting go of head coach Les Miles—who's about to wrap up his 11th season in Baton Rouge.
Who's going to replace him?
Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher has been a hot name around the water cooler. Scott Roussel of FootballScoop.com joined me and Brad Hopkins on the B/R Afternoon Drive on SiriusXM Bleacher Report Radio channel 83 on Tuesday, and he commented on the validity of those rumors.
"I think 100 percent, " said Roussel. "There's no way that LSU would be moving forward with this discussion unless they were exceptionally confident that they had their next guy. There's been no discussion of anybody other than Jimbo Fisher as I understand it. It's my full belief, if they pull the trigger and move Les out, that Jimbo will be the next coach at LSU."
Color me shocked.
Jimbo has an easier path to the College Football Playoff at Florida State, is in a better recruiting state than LSU (although Louisiana is still loaded with talent) and has an incredibly young team that's still likely to hit double-digit wins in what's clearly a "rebuilding year."
Why go to LSU, where he would be charged with a similar rebuilding effort in a tougher neighborhood?
Apparently it's in the works or, at the very least, being discussed.
Fisher at LSU would be a home run hire as a replacement for the "Mad Hatter."
A Balancing Act
Alabama is looking to polish off the SEC West this Saturday against Auburn, keep its College Football Playoff hopes alive and claim its first national title since the 2012 season.
At the same time, several assistants could be looking elsewhere for future employment.
Defensive coordinator Kirby Smart has emerged as a front-runner for the South Carolina job, according to Bruce Feldman of FOXSports.com, offensive line coach Mario Cristobal has been linked to Miami and Roussel told B/R Radio that offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin has been getting some buzz at Maryland.
That creates a delicate balancing act for Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban.
"One of the reasons [Kiffin and Smart] are being considered is because they do a job where they are right now," he said. "They're bright enough to certainly realize that, and they want to focus on where they are right now because that's a reflection on what they do, and that's why people would be interested in them."
It's not unusual for Saban to deal with assistants moving on. He will likely go up against two former assistants—Auburn defensive coordinator Will Muschamp and Florida head coach Jim McElwain—over the next two weeks.
"I'm always trying to help guys if they are looking for a better opportunity, but I also certainly appreciate the fact that they stay very focused on what we're trying to do because they certainly care about our team, and both put that first," Saban said.
Temporary Solution to a Permanent Problem
The Texas A&M quarterback position has been a permanent problem ever since Johnny Manziel moved on to the NFL, and head coach Kevin Sumlin was charged with finding a guy to live up to the hype.
Kenny Hill couldn't do it. Neither could Kyle Allen nor Kyler Murray. Now, it's Allen's turn again to try to lock the door that's been revolving for going on two seasons.
The sophomore from Scottsdale is healthy again after suffering a midseason shoulder injury. He threw for 336 yards and a touchdown in last week's 25-0 shutout at Vanderbilt, and he certainly appears to be in line to start for the Aggies in the regular-season finale at LSU this weekend.
It's a critical game for Allen.
For two teams that are out of contention for the SEC West, this is about as big of a spot as you can create for an opposing quarterback—on the road, in a hostile environment against a team that's gone through a lot over the last month in what might be head coach Les Miles' last game in Baton Rouge.
A big performance from Allen will go a long way toward defining the identity of the 2016 Texas A&M offense, give him an advantage over Murray heading into bowl practices and finally bring a semblance of stability to the consistently unstable quarterback position in College Station.
Lost in the Noise
Remember when the game between Texas A&M and LSU was supposed to be the "Chavis Bowl," rather than "Les Miles' Swansong"?
You know, when a wholesome issue like the lawsuits that have tied up the two schools and Chavis surrounding his exit from Baton Rouge to College Station last offseason dominated headlines?
Ah, the good ol' days.
While the Miles saga has dominated headlines over the last few weeks, LSU's players are excited to see Chavis, who bailed on the Tigers shortly after the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl.
"It's going to be exciting to get to see my boy Chief again," LSU senior linebacker Deion Jones said, according to Jim Kleinpeter of NOLA.com. "I'll see him before and after the game most likely. It's going to be fun."
While LSU's players are excited to see their former coach, the way things ended will certainly provide extra motivation, as linebacker Kendell Beckwith noted (via: Ross Dellenger of the Advocate):
While it's not the primary storyline leading into the LSU-Texas A&M game, it's an interesting subplot to keep an eye on when the Tigers host the Aggies on Saturday night.
"We're going to look forward to this competition," Miles said on the SEC teleconference of his team's mindset going up against Chavis. "I promise you."
A Little Trash Talk?
The Iron Bowl between Auburn and Alabama doesn't have the same buzz at it has over the last couple of seasons—at least on the national level.
So how do we fix that? With a little trash talk, of course.
Alabama cornerback Cyrus Jones did his best to create some buzz with this nugget, courtesy of Ben Jones of TideSports.com:
Not exactly the highest compliment in the world, but not exactly a shot, either.
Auburn wide receiver Ricardo Louis, however, clearly took it as the latter.
Not to be outdone, Alabama center Ryan Kelly isn't very familiar with Tiger "Buck" Carl Lawson, who has helped Auburn's defense become a force over the last month since returning from a hip injury.
Naturally, Auburn's official account took the chance to capitalize on some lukewarm, albeit accurate trash talk.
Fun in the media aside, Lawson is the key to Auburn keeping the Iron Bowl interesting.
He returned against Ole Miss on Halloween, and Auburn's defense has given up just 395.75 yards per game over that time. He had success against Rebels offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil, and if he can replicate that against Alabama's Cam Robinson, help the Tigers force turnovers and help Auburn's offense go 40 yards for touchdowns instead of 80 against Alabama's defense, the Tigers should be able to make it interesting.
Stick to the Basics
Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate between Georgia and Georgia Tech carries revenge for the boys in Athens, after the Yellow Jackets stunned the Bulldogs between the hedges after racking up 399 rushing yards in the process.
Georgia's defense has been pretty solid this year, giving up just 3.9 yards per carry.
Stopping the Jacket triple-option, even in a down year, is going to be a challenge for the Bulldogs.
Georgia Southern, which took Georgia to overtime, has a history of running the same triple-option scheme run by former Eagle and current Yellow Jacket head coach Paul Johnson. Now that it's in FBS, Georgia Southern has evolved more into more of a spread-option team which will help Georgia against Tech, but not as much as in years past.
"They both run option, but they are very different in how they go about it," Richt said, according to the school's official site. "But again, like I've said, the fundamentals of defeat blocks the fundamentals of being responsible for gaps, the fundamentals of assignment football when it comes to option, those things do carry over. But they do it just different enough where it's not like, let's do it exactly like we did last week. It's not like that."
Defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt had better be on his game, because while Georgia Tech has sputtered to a 3-8 record and is a far cry from the dark-horse contender for the ACC title that many suspected in August, it's still a tricky offense that, if not handled properly, can put Georgia into a pretty big hole.
If Georgia's triple-option struggles continue, it's going to be a lot to ask for this Bulldogs offense to dig out of a hole.
No pressure, coach Pruitt.
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.
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Since its two-point road loss to Clemson, Notre Dame football’s season has been a week-to-week journey with a marquee matchup waiting Thanksgiving weekend.
Well, with six wins in six tries since the loss in Death Valley, the Irish do have their pivotal opportunity Saturday against Stanford, as College Football Playoff possibilities hang in the balance.
“They’re in a position to accomplish the mission that they went on and that was to have an opportunity to be part of one of the four teams selected for the playoffs,” Irish head coach Brian Kelly told reporters Tuesday. “They know they don’t control that. But they know that they control the way they prepare and the way they play on Saturday.”
The No. 6 Irish face the No. 9 Cardinal, an imposing foe despite the two-point home loss to Oregon two weeks ago. After a season-opening road loss to No. 20 Northwestern, the Cardinal rattled off eight consecutive victories, including wins over USC and UCLA.
“I know our players are excited about the challenge of playing Stanford on the road and a very good football team,” Kelly said.
Date: Saturday, November 28
Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
Place: Stanford Stadium in Stanford, California
Radio: IMG College Sports, SiriusXM Channel 129
Spread: Stanford by 4, according to Odds Shark
College football's rivalry week arrives Thanksgiving weekend, as longstanding foes face off yet again with major postseason implications involved. Attention shifts to showdowns at Auburn, Florida, Michigan, USC and campuses across America, providing plenty of action to enjoy as folks emerge from holiday feasts.
Several recruits will gather at games, considering the possibility of someday becoming a competitor in these rivalries. Prospects expected to attend matchups include top-ranked talent Rashan Gary, lauded Alabama linebacker legacy Ben Davis and Elite 11 quarterback finalist Feleipe Franks.
Here's a rundown of recruits on the move this weekend, as we reach the 10-week mark until national signing day.