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Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. Navy Midshipmen Complete Game Preview

College football's longest-running intersectional rivalry continues this weekend, with Notre Dame and Navy meeting for the 88th time.

Just a game after battling the defending national champions in Tallahassee, the Irish will take on one of their oldest rivals in a game that certainly lacks the glamour of Florida State but still demands the respect of Notre Dame. 

The Midshipmen's four early losses are a disappointment for a Navy team that had high expectations entering the season. But injuries to quarterback Keenan Reynolds and a rash of uncharacteristic turnovers have plagued the Midshipmen, a team that usually operates on a razor-thin margin.

But Ken Niumatalolo's squad enters FedExField on a two-game winning streak, with a healthy quarterback and an offense firing on all cylinders. 

For the Irish, the challenge will be simple, yet difficult to achieve: Slow down Keenan Reynolds.

Navy's junior quarterback may not be playing at the level he was in 2013, but he's Navy's all-time touchdown leader. Against a young Irish defense with a coordinator who hasn't seen the option in a decade, playing assignment correct football will be critical. 

With the College Football Playoff Selection Committee releasing their first rankings later this week, 6-1 Notre Dame will find out its starting spot in the race to the postseason. But none of that matters if the Irish can't take care of business against the Midshipmen, something that's gotten a lot harder in recent years. 

Let's get you ready for the annual matchup with Navy:

 

Date: Saturday, November 1

Time: 8:00 p.m. ET

Place: FedExField in Landover, Maryland

TV: CBS

Radio: IMG College Sports, SiriusXM Channel 129

Spread: Notre Dame by 14.5, according to Odds Shark.

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College Football Playoff 2014: Bracket Predictions Ahead of Week 10

The insanity continues across the college football landscape, with yet another top team falling on Saturday. Ole Miss dropped its first game of the season ahead of the first College Football Playoff poll, but another SEC West team re-entered the discussion.

Mississippi State is the only undefeated team in the division remaining but nearly fell to Kentucky in Week 9. The Bulldogs still have a road game against Alabama and the Egg Bowl before being a playoff lock. They also have to worry about a resurgent Auburn team looking to make a statement this weekend.

As the top teams in the SEC continue to knock each other off, Florida State remains undefeated and has just one true test left. This Thursday, the Seminoles face Louisville in a game that might determine their chances at another title shot.

Prior to Week 10, here's a look at the latest projections for the first ever College Football Playoff.

 

Breakdown of Predictions

There are currently three SEC West teams at the top of both the Amway and Associated Press polls. However, one of those teams is destined to lose, while the Rebels still have a chance to enter the picture again.

For now, Mississippi State remains the top dog in the SEC and the country as a whole. The Bulldogs are led by Dak Prescott, who has been historically great this season, per ESPN College Football:

Any worries about a foot injury shouldn't be huge, as the Heisman contender remains upbeat. Asked about the boot on his right foot, Prescott told Michael Bonner of The Clarion-Ledger, "Oh yeah, this is just precautionary. ... It's just, I got a boot on it."

The junior didn't appear to miss a step as he went off for three total touchdowns to lead MSU over Kentucky. Meanwhile, another SEC team routed a second straight opponent when Alabama returned to the spotlight.

Nick Saban's program crushed Tennessee 34-20 and has won its last two games by a total of 73 points. Kyle Tucker of The Courier-Journal offered his take on the Crimson Tide:

Given the No. 2 ranking in the playoff projections, the Tide will remain undefeated the rest of the way. That includes a win over the Bulldogs and an Iron Bowl victory on their way to an SEC title.

Even with a great run into the postseason, the Tide simply won't be able to do enough to move into the No. 1 seed if Florida State remains undefeated. The Seminoles had a bye after a statement win over Notre Dame and have a favorable schedule the rest of the way.

Thursday night presents the most daunting matchup for the Noles, as Brad Edwards of ESPN.com (subscription needed) points out:

The FPI gives Miami the best chance to upset FSU (on Nov. 15), but if you believe that the formula for beating the Seminoles is a stout defense and a difference-making crowd, then this Thursday's game at Louisville could be all that realistically stands between Florida State and a spot in the playoff. Either way, the amount of resistance on FSU's path to an unbeaten regular season is far less than what fellow unbeaten Mississippi State faces.

Along with FSU, another strong offensive team has a chance to finish the season in the College Football Playoff. Oregon may have fallen to Arizona earlier this season but still has strong wins over both Michigan State and UCLA.

While it appears some voters have forgotten about the dominant win over the Spartans, the Ducks can overtake them moving forward. Wins over Stanford and Utah should propel Oregon back into the playoff picture.

Marcus Mariota has been at the top of his game for Oregon, as ESPN Stats & Info notes:

If Mariota can simply lead the charge the rest of the season, the Ducks should eventually get the jump over Michigan State with the win.

By virtue of the lone loss for Mississippi State, Oregon will draw No. 2 Alabama. Given the recent run by the Tide, that's not necessarily the matchup the Ducks might want, but it gives hope for a national title all the same.

 

Follow @RCorySmith on Twitter.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

College Football: Week 9 Recap, Pick Results and Final Thought

The nation wasn’t sure what it would be in for with only two matchups featuring ranked teams, but Week 9 of the 2014 college football season did not disappoint.

There were dramatic endings in both Death Valley and Happy Valley, along with an exciting game-winning final minute drive late Saturday night in Salt Lake City and an 82-point clinic put on by TCU.

No. 3 Ole Miss was looking to win its first game in Baton Rouge since 2008 with a 7-3 lead in the fourth quarter, but No. 24 LSU wasn’t going down without a fight. On a long, 95-yard drive that lasted six minutes, the Tigers managed to score on a three-yard touchdown pass from Anthony Jennings to Logan Stokes to take a 10-7 lead with 5:07 remaining.

On the ensuing possession, Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace failed to convert on a quarterback sneak on 4th-and-1, giving the ball back to LSU. The Tigers failed to convert a first down themselves, however, and were unable to close out the game before affording Ole Miss one last chance to pull off a win.

Wallace drove the offense down the field and appeared to have his team in field-goal position, but there was a monumental collapse for Hugh Freeze and company with nine seconds remaining. The field goal unit failed to get the ball off in time and it resulted in a delay-of-game penalty. Instead of putting freshman kicker Gary Wunderlich back in for a 47-yard game-tying field goal, Freeze put the offense back out. Wallace then made a critical error by trying to throw for a touchdown, which ended up being intercepted by LSU safety Ronald Martin on the 1-yard line.

The Rebels' hopes and dreams of going undefeated this season ended in Death Valley with a disappointing 10-7 loss.

No. 13 Ohio State was in for a surprise when it traveled to Penn State. Not only did the Buckeyes get an unexpected 4 a.m. wake-up call from Nittany Lion fans Saturday morning, but they also had to settle things in overtime after giving up 17 unanswered points in the second half.

Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett didn’t have his strongest outing of the season with two interceptions, but he helped lead his team to a much needed 31-24 double overtime victory with two rushing touchdowns.

As if there hadn't already been enough excitement Saturday night, the late night Pac-12 showdown between No. 20 USC and No. 19 Utah did not disappoint. Steve Sarkisian’s Trojans once again had trouble closing out a game when they failed to get a first down deep in Utah territory on 4th-and-2 with about two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. Utah quarterback Travis Wilson then took advantage of USC’s missed opportunity and led the Utes down the field for a game-winning touchdown with eight seconds remaining.

With Utah’s come-from-behind victory, it is now in a position to contend for the Pac-12 South Division title. The Utes have yet to win the division since joining the conference in 2011.

The No. 10 TCU Horned Frogs seemed to be the big story of the day though, as they did more than just dismantle in-state Texas Tech.

Gary Patterson’s squad is currently one of the hottest teams in the country and it's fair to say that TCU’s 82 points—the most scored in a Big 12 Conference game—would give any opposing team’s defense nightmares. Quarterback Trevone Boykin threw a school-record seven touchdowns, while also leading the offense to a school best of 785 yards on offense.

No. 1 Mississippi State managed to get by an improving Kentucky team on the road. The 45-31 came with help from running back Josh Robinson’s 198 yards and two touchdowns.

Meanwhile, No. 11 Kansas State shutout Texas 23-0. It was the first time the Longhorns had been shut out since 2004.

Heisman contending quarterback Marcus Mariota helped No. 6 Oregon blow past Cal 59-41 with 326 yards and five touchdowns.

Finally, No. 5 Auburn got all it could handle from Steve Spurrier’s South Carolina Gamecocks, but the Tigers came away with a close 42-35 victory. 

Pick Results

Overall Record: 28-17

Week 9 Record: 4-1

Note: Team in bold indicates author’s pick

Prediction: Michigan State 35, Michigan 13
Result: Michigan State 35, Michigan 11

Prediction: Ole Miss 35, LSU 27
Result: LSU 10, Ole Miss 7

Prediction: Auburn 38, South Carolina 24
Result: Auburn 42, South Carolina 35

Prediction: Ohio State 34, Penn State 17
Result: Ohio State 31, Penn State 24 (2OT)

Prediction: Utah 37, USC 34
Result: Utah 24, USC 21

Final Thought

The College Football Playoff selection committee will meet for the first time this season in Dallas on Monday. It now gets interesting, as the current 12 members are getting their first opportunity to put their top four teams together.

With so much anticipation for this new era, there is already controversy over which teams should be in the third and fourth spots. The first and second spots should be set in stone, as Mississippi State and Florida State are both still undefeated.

Though there is a group of one-loss teams vying for two of the spots in the top four, there are two specific teams that the nation should see in the three and four spots when the first rankings are released Tuesday night. 

 

3. Alabama Crimson Tide

Record: 7-1 (4-1 SEC)

Quality Wins: West Virginia, Texas A&M

The Alabama Crimson Tide have taken care of business since their 23-17 loss at Ole Miss and narrow 14-13 win at Arkansas. Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide blew out then-No. 21 Texas A&M 59-0 at home on Oct. 18 and handled Tennessee on the road 34-20 this last week. With the offense clicking and things appearing to be smoother in Tuscaloosa these past two weeks, expect Alabama to be in the top four when the rankings are released.

 

4. Ole Miss Rebels

Record: 7-1 (4-1 SEC)

Quality Wins: Alabama, Texas A&M

Yes, the Rebels did defeat the Crimson Tide earlier in October, but the chances of being ranked higher than Alabama after a heartbreaking loss at No. 24 LSU on Saturday night are low. If not for a questionable decision by Hugh Freeze to not give his kicker a chance to tie the game right away—or quarterback Bo Wallace trying to be heroic with a pass to the end zone that was intercepted—this team very well could still be undefeated. The offense had an off night, but the landshark defense was in full force while holding LSU to only 10 points. Ole Miss is deserving of the No. 4 spot this week.

 

Just Missed:

Auburn Tigers

Record: 6-1 (3-1 SEC)

Key Wins: Kansas State, LSU

It’s difficult to leave Auburn out of the top four with a quality win at Kansas State in September and a blowout win at home against LSU, but it struggled at Mississippi State on Oct. 11 in a 38-23 loss. Quarterback Nick Marshall had a rough game against the Bulldogs when he threw two interceptions. The Tigers also had to hold on for dear life against a South Carolina team last week that has not been as good as advertised. 

Oregon Ducks

Record: 7-1 (4-1 Pac-12)

Key Wins: Michigan State, UCLA

A loss to then-unranked Arizona at home on Oct. 2 was a tough one to swallow for the Ducks—and it's basically the reason they don't make the top four, despite not having key left tackle Jake Fisher at the time and the Wildcats continuing to win. Since the return of Fisher, the Ducks have averaged 48.7 points per game, but the defense continues to be the big question.

Notre Dame Fighting Irish  

Record: 6-1

Key Win: Stanford

If not for an offensive pass interference call at Florida State, Notre Dame would find itself in at least the No. 2 spot. Stanford is now unranked and, other than that, the Fighting Irish haven’t defeated a quality opponent. The teams they’ve beaten are a combined 17-22.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Will Anyone Ruin the Mississippi State Bulldogs' Undefeated Season?

The Mississippi State Bulldogs stand atop the college football world as seemingly the best team in the country. Dak Prescott has led one of the most dominant offenses in the country to an undefeated season thus far.

Bleacher Report College Football Analysts Adam Kramer and Barrett Sallee debate whether these Bulldogs can be stopped.

Will the Mississippi State Bulldogs win the national championship?

Watch the video and let us know!


 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Doomsday Scenario: Could the SEC Be Shut out of the College Football Playoffs?

No. 24 LSU beat No. 3 Ole Miss, and now the SEC fan who covets national championships is thinking Doomsday Scenarios as far as the College Football Playoff. This conference is tyrannical. You knew that, right?     

Here is one scenario: Auburn loses to Ole Miss this Saturday, and the Tigers have two losses. Alabama gets to two losses with a loss at LSU. Georgia with a loss to Auburn will have two losses. Mississippi State loses at Alabama and at Ole Miss and has two losses. Ole Miss takes its second loss in the SEC title game against Georgia.

Every SEC contender has two losses.

Is the SEC champion, with two losses, assured of an automatic bid to the College Football Playoff? I think so. I don't know. FSU looks like a given (we'll see this Thursday at Louisville). Could one-loss Michigan State, or one-loss Oregon, or one-loss Baylor/TCU be in the CFP ahead of a two-loss SEC team?

Notre Dame looked pretty sharp in Tallahassee. Twelve people saw that last-second loss. The problem for the Irish is playing 12 games. Notre Dame still needs to rock a few teams left on its schedule to have any chance. (Arizona State is a good team, and so is USC).

That crooked number "2" will weigh on people picking four teams. For all the data the committee will be handed, they still have been conditioned by decades of conventional thinking: Wins and Losses. Suddenly, 12 people could be thinking: "The SEC is a terrific conference, but it doesn't have a terrific team." "They look good on the home field. What about a neutral field?"

Then there is the Bob Stoops background noise. The SEC's superiority is a myth. You see that sloppy Ole Miss offense? You see the threadbare look of the Auburn defense vs. South Carolina?

So come to the edge of your seats for this last month of the season. Could Goliath, the SEC, be left at home for the playoffs? SEC teams can make SEC teams look bad. A columnist smarter than me sent a message about Doom for the SEC.

I have no idea what is going to happen with the SEC West. Neither does anyone else. It's like spinning a Roulette Wheel. The kids who play this game are well-trained, intense, talented and have football IQs out the roof, but they are not robots. They have good days and bad days. Bo Wallace, who was having a good season, had a bad night in Death Valley. Geez, that's never happened before to a quarterback in that place.

This is going to be fun. We're about to add drama, burn brain cells and make a sponsor giddy because so many people are paying attention to the CFP brand. The first CFP rankings come out Tuesday. The NFL doesn't have anything like this.

The first four on Tuesday could be Mississippi State, Florida State, Alabama and Auburn. So far, so good for the SEC. The Pac-12, Big 12 and Big Ten will howl and then hope the SEC really is a beast and eats its own.

There is plenty of time for Ole Miss and Georgia to get into the top four. Or not. There is plenty of time for Mississippi State, Alabama and Auburn to get knocked out of the top four. Or not.

Johnny Majors, the former Tennessee coach, told me almost 30 years ago that he didn't know when the SEC would win another national title because the conference was too deep with good teams. The SEC was in a 12-year drought (Georgia, 1980 to Bama, 1992). "We beat each other up too much now," he said.

The dilemma for the SEC is still the same three decades after it grew into the best conference in college football. These very good teams have to play each other week after week after week. Dents are coming. Alabama has to play at LSU on November 8, and you just witnessed what happened in front of the frothing fans in the improved 100,000-seat Tiger Stadium. Ole Miss, a good team, scored seven points. LSU has grown in a month. Alabama has already lost on the road to a ferocious Ole Miss defense.

Mississippi State has to play at Alabama on November 15 and will be well-rested. It was a nice bit of scheduling by the Bulldogs to have UT-Martin in Starkville on November 8 while Alabama is in a battle with LSU. Dan Mullen and Scott Stricklin saw this team coming. Auburn has to play at Ole Miss, at Georgia and at Alabama. 

This is going to be one amazing stretch run in the SEC, which may be too good for its own good. We're about to see why I wrote that column in September that the College Football Playoff Committee should have front-row seats on the sidelines for a closer look, or be made up entirely of scouts. The 12-person committee has to determine if the offense-first teams in the Pac-12 and Big 12 could score on Alabama, Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Auburn. How do you do determine that watching TV? How do you compare?

SEC fans berated other conferences for insisting that only conference champions get in the College Football Playoff. That was when SEC fans thought it would have at least two one-loss teams and they didn't want to be limited to one team in the CFP.

What if the SEC champ has two losses? "Hey, conference champions get in!" will come the cry from the south.

Here are some things to consider:

• Ole Miss had serious injuries against LSU on Saturday night. Its best offensive player, left tackle Laremy Tunsil, was injured in the second half. Its best defensive player, tackle Robert Nkemdiche, was on the sidelines part of the second half. If Ole Miss regroups and gets healthy, does it get cut some slack if it has two losses?

• The Big 12 plays just 12 games, but it plays everybody in its conference. Notre Dame plays just 12 games.

• Strength of schedule also looms. Analyst Jeff Sagarin says the toughest schedules are all in the SEC: Tennessee, Auburn, Alabama and Florida. But we also have to consider your opponents' record and your opponents' opponents' record.

• There is, of course, head-to-head. Think about TCU bashing West Virginia on the road this Saturday and then being compared to two-loss Alabama, if it is the SEC champion. Bama beat WVU, 33-23.

Before this is all over, somebody is going to go out to the slag heap and fetch one of those BCS computers and declare unbiased computers are the way to go. The SEC fan, with its two-loss champion, will not be one of those people. It might need all the help it can get from the humans sanctifying southern football.

 

 

Ray Glier covers college football for Bleacher Report. He has covered college football and various other sports for 20 years. His work has appeared in USA Today, The New York Times, CNN, The Washington Post and Al Jazeera America. He is the author of How the SEC Became Goliath (Howard/Simon & Schuster, 2013). All quotations were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Georgia vs. Florida: Complete Game Preview

For the better part of two decades, the Florida Gators dominated the Georgia Bulldogs in one of the SEC's most bitter rivalries.  Regardless of talent or season record, the Dawgs struggled mightily against the Gators between 1990 and 2010, winning just three contests during that period.

Things have changed as of late, however.  Though the games have all been close in score, the Bulldogs have prevailed in each of the last three contests.

Will Georgia's winning streak continue and strengthen the Bulldogs' grip on the SEC East's standings?  Or will Florida upset the heavy favorite?

Here's what you need to know about Saturday's game:

  • Date: Saturday, November 1
  • Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
  • Place: EverBank Field, Jacksonville, Florida
  • TV: CBS
  • Radio: Georgia Bulldog Radio Network, Gator IMG Sports Network
  • Spread: Georgia (-10), per Odds Shark

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Ole Miss Athletic Director Offers to Meet Disgruntled Fan in Person

Ole Miss athletic director Ross Bjork has no time for "anonymous" haters. If you have something to say to him, he wants you to say it to his face.

No. 3 Ole Miss lost to No. 24 LSU, 10-7, this past Saturday. The loss dropped the Rebels to 7-1 on the season and dealt a huge blow to the team's playoff hopes. That disappointing loss left one fan disgruntled.

For whatever reason, the fan decided to call out Bjork. That led to a response from the Ole Miss athletic director.

Social media has given people the ability to throw shade at others practically anonymously. Now, this fan has the opportunity to clear the air with Bjork in person if he so chooses. Chances are, nothing will come of this. 

[Twitter, h/t College Spun]

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College Football Picks: North Carolina Tar Heels at Miami Hurricanes Odds

Two contenders for this season’s ACC Coastal Division title square off this Saturday when the North Carolina Tar Heels and the Miami Hurricanes butt heads at Sun Life Stadium. Game time is set for 12:30 p.m., and this conference clash will be available on ESPN3.

North Carolina is coming off a big 28-27 upset of Virginia this past Saturday as a seven-point road underdog. The Tar Heels have now covered against the spread in their last three games. The total stayed “under” the 60-point closing line against the Cavaliers after going “over” in four of the Tar Heels' last five games.

The Hurricanes have won three of their last four games both straight up and ATS, including a 30-6 romp over Virginia Tech last Thursday as 2.5-point road favorites. The total stayed under the closing 47.5-point line in that game, and it has now stayed under in three of their last four contests.

 

North Carolina at Miami Betting Storylines

The Tar Heels’ back-to-back victories over Georgia Tech and Virginia have them in the thick of the division title race at 2-2 in conference play. They scored a total of 76 points in those two games, and on the season, this offense is averaging 37.4 points a game, which is ranked 20th in the nation. The problem has been a very inconsistent defense that is allowing an average of 41.3 points, which is ranked near the bottom of Division IA.

Marquise Williams has been the driving force behind the Tar Heels’ potent offensive attack. The versatile quarterback has thrown for 2,025 yards and 17 touchdowns while completing 63.3 percent of his 270 attempts. He also leads the team in rushing with 497 yards on 108 attempts while tallying five scores with his legs. Against the Yellow Jackets two weeks ago, he threw for 390 yards and four touchdowns in a wild 48-43 last-second win.

Miami has relied on a balanced attack to average 31.3 points per game. The offense is averaging 242.4 yards through the air, and the ground game is adding another 187.4 yards per game. Brad Kaaya has also done a good job under center with 1,898 passing yards and 17 touchdown throws with a completion rate of 61.6 percent. Duke Johnson has already rushed for 1,036 yards and seven scores on 139 carries.

The Hurricanes defense has helped the cause by holding opponents to an average of 22.1 points a game. However, this unit did give up 28 points to Georgia Tech in an early October loss and 34 points the following week in a win over Cincinnati. This could be some cause for concern against the Tar Heels this Saturday afternoon.

 

North Carolina at Miami Betting Odds and Trends by Doc’s Sports

Point Spread: Miami -12

Total Line: OFF

Covers betting trends have the Tar Heels going 7-1 ATS in their last eight games following an ATS win, and they are 7-3 ATS in their last 10 conference games. The total has gone “over” in four of their last five road games.

The Hurricanes are 11-5 ATS in their last 16 home games but just 3-8 ATS in their last 11 games against a conference foe. The total has stayed under in their last four ACC games.

Head-to-head in this Coastal Division clash, the road team has won four of the last six meetings SU, but the home team is 4-1 ATS in the last five contests. The total has stayed under in three of the last four games.

 

College Football Pick: North Carolina at Miami Betting Prediction

I like Miami’s chances to get the SU win in this matchup, but covering a higher-than-expected 12-point spread will be a major challenge. The Hurricanes defense has already proved it can be scored upon, and the Tar Heels have had little problem lighting up the scoreboard this year. Take North Carolina and the points in what should be a very entertaining, high-scoring affair.

Take: North Carolina (+12) over Miami; Saturday, Nov. 1, 12:30 p.m. 

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Teams the College Football Playoff Committee Will Have the Hardest Time Ranking

The College Football Playoff selection committee will convene for the first time (ever!) this week and release its first batch of rankings Tuesday, Oct. 28 at 7:30 p.m. ET.

Mississippi State and Florida State are the only unbeaten teams remaining from power conferences, which in that case makes the committee's job easy. If you've won every game you've played, you will probably find yourself at the top of the poll.

But behind Mississippi State and Florida State lies a group of 16 one-loss teams from power conferences, a gaudy number for this point of the season. The amount of teams in that cluster (and the divergent paths they have taken to get here) will make the committee's job far from easy once it gets past the likely top two.

But who will give the committee the hardest time during its first conclave on Monday? Factors such as injuries, suspensions, strength of schedule and timing could all complicate a team's resume.

Here are five teams that stick out.

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Auburn vs. Ole Miss Complete Game Preview

AUBURN, Ala. — Look how quickly perceptions can change in a loaded SEC West.

Heading into the 2014 season, this Saturday's matchup between Auburn and Ole Miss in Oxford looked like a tough road test for a higher-ranked Auburn team. Then, after the Rebels upset Alabama and the Tigers fell to Mississippi State the next weekend, Ole Miss looked like it would have the upper hand heading into the first Saturday of November.

Now, days after Auburn survived a scary shootout with South Carolina at home as Ole Miss fell to LSU in Death Valley—well, who can really call a surefire favorite in this one?

Both teams have their major strengths. Auburn's offense got back to its high-powered ways against the Gamecocks after a much-needed bye week, and Ole Miss's defense continues to be one of the fiercest in the country at stopping, creating and even scoring points.

But both teams are also coming off of shaky performances on the other side of the ball. The Tigers were torched through the air against South Carolina after what had been a solid start to the season, while the Rebels hit a brick wall offensively against LSU.

Before we get into the full breakdown of this matchup between two powerhouses that still have a good chance at a College Football Playoff spot, here is all the basics you need to know:

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Notre Dame Football: Game-by-Game Predictions for the Month of November

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — With talk about the controversial ending against Florida State and the chances of a one-loss Notre Dame team in the College Football Playoff swirling, the rest of Notre Dame football’s schedule has almost become an afterthought.

The Irish still have five games remaining, and they face their opponents in a five-week stretch following the recent bye week. It goes without saying, if Notre Dame wants to stake a legitimate claim to the one of the four playoff spots, it will have to win each of its remaining games.

Will the Irish do so?

Here are our game-by-game predictions.

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Watch 5-Star WR DaMarkus Lodge Toy with Defenders During 3-TD Performance

DaMarkus Lodge, a 2015 5-star wide receiver out of Cedar Hill, Texas, had a monster performance versus DeSoto High School, hauling in three touchdowns and totaling more than 200 yards receiving in the Longhorns' monster 62-45 win. 

Is this the best high school performance you've seen this year?

Watch the video, and let us know! 

 

Recruit star rankings via 247Sports unless otherwise noted. 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Rivalry Decision: Does 5-Star DT Daron Payne Fit Better at Alabama or Auburn?

Daron Payne is a 2015 5-star defensive tackle recruit from the state of Alabama, per 247Sports. The two schools he is favoring are the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Auburn Tigers.

Bleacher Report College Football Analyst Michael Felder breaks down where Daron would fit best. 

Which school do you think would be the better fit for Payne?

Watch the video and let us know!

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Samuel Chi's Mock College Football Playoff Standings: Week 10

The selection committee will unveil its first-ever College Football Playoff rankings Tuesday night. With that, all other polls and rankings will be rendered meaningless. 

Unlike the BCS standings, where a combination of polls and computer rankings are used, the committee's rankings are not mathematically projectable. Unless you can get inside the cranium (or the trash cans) of the 12 committee members, you will not know how they arrive at their respective rankings. In fact, since it's done by secret ballot, even their fellow committee members won't know how they voted.

But we'll press on with our own rankings, and come Tuesday night, we'll see how close they resemble what's put out by the committee. While the committee won't be projecting the New Year's Six bowl bids, we'll do that anyway as a public service.

  

The Rankings

(See methodology of standings)

 

The Playoff Teams

1. Mississippi State

The Bulldogs should be the undisputed top-ranked team. They are one of only three undefeated teams with by far the best resume of the trio. But Mississippi State is in no position to relax, as its toughest two remaining games—against Alabama and Ole Miss—are both on the road.

Projected bowl: Playoff at Sugar Bowl

 

4. Florida State

While FSU might be behind three SEC West teams in the standings, it's best positioned to run the table and snag a playoff berth. There's no question the defending national champs will have a chance to continue their repeat quest as long as they run through the soft underbelly of the ACC unscathed.

Projected bowl: Playoff at Rose Bowl

 

6. Oregon

The Ducks have had their mulligan but probably won't get a second one. Plenty of work still lies ahead, including next week's game against Stanford, which denied Oregon the Pac-12 North title the past two seasons. But the strength of the Pac-12 will work in the Ducks' favor and put them in the playoff if they manage to win the conference.

Projected bowl: Playoff at Rose Bowl

 

8. Notre Dame

For the time being, the Irish are just a hair ahead of the other contenders for the final playoff spot. They still have high-profile games against Arizona State and USC remaining, but they're susceptible to be bumped by another one-loss conference champion no matter how they finish.

Projected bowl: Playoff at Sugar Bowl

 

The First Four Out

2,3,5,7. Other SEC Teams

The SEC is angling to get a second team into the four-team playoff field. The path is open, but it's far from a foregone conclusion simply because all these teams still must face each other multiple times. The most likely scenario to produce a second SEC berth is for Georgia to win out and then upset an unbeaten or one-loss SEC West champion in the conference title game. 

Projected bowls: Cotton, Fiesta and Orange

 

9. TCU

For now, TCU is mere percentage points behind Notre Dame in our standings for the final playoff spot. The Horned Frogs actually should be able to leapfrog the Irish should they remain unbeaten the rest of the way. If they can get through the next two weeks without a loss—at West Virginia and home to Kansas State—they will be heavily favored to claim at least a piece of the Big 12 title.

Projected bowl: Cotton Bowl

 

10. Michigan State

The Spartans' beatdown of their cross-state rivals might've generated a lot of headlines, but that did little to improve their playoff prospects. MSU remains on the outside of the four-team field primarily because of its early season loss at Oregon and the weakness of the Big Ten.

Projected bowl: Fiesta Bowl

 

11/13. Kansas State/Baylor

The Big 12's lack of a signature win over a nonconference opponent will leave its champion scratching for a playoff spot. These two teams have an outside chance to steal a berth if the winner in their season finale ends up claiming the conference title in the event of a TCU stumble.

Projected bowl: Peach Bowl

 

Other Fun Facts

* Marshall, by virtue of being the only unbeaten non-power-five team, has seized the inside track to the group-of-five berth. East Carolina's strength-of-schedule advantage has been largely nullified at this point because of its power-five opponents' recent struggles. The only other teams in the mix are one-loss Colorado State and two-loss Boise State and Central Florida.

* The ACC might end up with more berths in the New Year's Six bowls than the Pac-12, Big Ten and/or Big 12 thanks to its tie-in with the Orange Bowl. Should Florida State earn a playoff berth as projected, a second ACC team will be taken despite the fact that no other conference team is ranked in the Top 15. Clemson is still favored for this bid, just ahead of Coastal Division leader Duke.

* With Ole Miss' loss at LSU, the dreaded circular three-way tie in the SEC West might've been avoided. Now, should there be a tie of three one-loss teams, head-to-head results likely will be enough to resolve the matter instead of having to dive deep into these procedures.

 

Follow on Twitter @ThePlayoffGuru

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Loss to Georgia Would Be the Final Nail in Will Muschamp's Coffin

It seems like every week is the biggest game of Florida head coach Will Muschamp's career, but this week's matchup with rival Georgia is undoubtedly the biggest game of his Florida head coaching career.

At least for this week.

The Gators sit at 3-3 (2-3 SEC) and have had two weeks to prepare for the Bulldogs. During the time off, Muschamp announced that true freshman Treon Harris will be the Gators' starting quarterback vs. the Bulldogs.

It's a panic move.

A prayer.

One last shot for Muschamp to save his season and Florida career before packing up the office.

Muschamp has already moved to the wrong side of the hot seat. Instead of fighting to stay employed, the stagnant offense and embarrassing loss to Missouri have relegated Muschamp to fighting to win his job back.

The dreaded vote of confidence came and went long ago, and athletic director Jeremy Foley has been relegated to simply supporting the program—you know, the one he's in charge of.

"At the beginning of the season we said we would evaluate the season as it plays out," Foley told reporters last week. "We will continue to do so. Our sole focus right now is supporting our coaching staff and players as they prepare for Georgia."

That's a relatively short-term statement concerning a long-term problem, which suggests that the Georgia game is the defining game of Muschamp's career.

I covered the pros and cons of firing a coach midseason last week. While firing a coach in the middle of the season generally is more of a PR move than one that actually carries some weight, a fourth straight loss to Georgia seems like it would do the trick and earn Muschamp the pink slip.

Muschamp is no dummy.

He knows that, while he has done quite a bit to change the image of the program off the field, the image of the team on the field has taken a drastic hit. Cleaning up the program off the field only goes so far if you're not winning on it.

"I appreciate it," Muschamp said on the SEC coaches teleconference last week. "I think Jeremy sees a lot of the things that are going on in the program, and certainly a huge part of that is winning games. That's not what we've done. Academically, socially, all of the things we've done within the program to change the culture have been outstanding."

A change in the culture was needed after, 31 Gators were arrested under former coach Urban Meyer from 2005-2010, according to the New York Times. Florida is, however, still in the business of winning championships, and that business is on the verge of filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

This game against Georgia is the one that could finish it off.

Florida dominated the series with Georgia, winning 18 of 21 meetings from 1990 to 2010. When Muschamp got the job in 2011, the script was flipped. The former Bulldog linebacker has never beaten his alma mater, and another loss would leave him with nothing to hang his hat on.

The offense is a disaster, the program is not competing for division titles in what's a remarkably weak division, isn't beating its rivals and is on a seemingly endless downward spiral.

Georgia is Muschamp's last chance.

Even with a win, Muschamp may be let go after the season. A loss would be the final nail in the coffin. Whether he gets fired after the game or after the season, there'd be nothing left for Muschamp to sell to Foley.

No pressure.

 

Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer and video analyst for Bleacher Report as well as a co-host of the CFB Hangover on Bleacher Report Radio (Sundays, 9-11 a.m. ET) on Sirius 93, XM 208.

Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. All stats are courtesy of cfbstats.com, and all recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports. Follow Barrett on Twitter @BarrettSallee.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

AP College Football Poll 2014: Official Top 25 Rankings and Week 10 Projections

A few more big changes were made near the top of the Associated Press Top 25, but there's really no need to memorize them at this point—they're bound to shake up again in Week 10.

Alas, an elite group of teams are starting to emerge as the biggest contenders for those four coveted College Football Playoff spots. With many of them either playing each other or having tough tests right in front of them, there is much more separation left to be made.

We'll begin to find out which schools have what it takes in Week 10, with Auburn's trip to Ole Miss the highlight of a weekend slate that will give the CFP committee plenty more to work on.

Here's a look at the latest AP Top 25 and predictions for this weekend's games.

Latest AP poll can be found here.

Note: Odds courtesy of Odds Shark, last updated Oct. 27 at 12 a.m. ET

 

Week 10 Top Games

No. 2 Florida State at Louisville

Week 10 just might present Florida State's toughest test until January when it is likely to be one of the final four teams left standing, as the Seminoles face Louisville on the road for a Thursday night affair.

A year ago, Florida State was brutally dominating every opponent it faced. In 2014, it's been anything but with three victories coming by six points or less and a now 23-game win streak being put on the brink against Notre Dame and Clemson.

Alas, the 'Noles are still unbeaten and an end-of-season slate featuring downtrodden rivals Miami and Florida appears like a cakewalk. That gives the Cardinals—dead set on proving themselves as an ACC newcomer—perhaps the best chances of ending their mighty reign.

That's showing in some early movement in Vegas, as WDRB's Rick Bozich noticed:

Louisville's pass defense could be one of the toughest Jameis Winston has faced in 2014. The Cardinals rank 10th in the nation in passing yards conceded per game. No matter what Louisville running back gets the ball, they find gaping holes and that should continue against a susceptible FSU run defense.

However, Winston has shown the innate ability to pick apart even the best of defenses over the course of 60 minutes. The hostile road environment will affect things early, but will matter little in the fourth quarter when Winston is rolling late once again.

Prediction: Florida State 38, Louisville 31

 

No. 4 Auburn at No. 7 Ole Miss

In the cutthroat SEC West, it's looking more and more like a one-loss resume will be enough to punch a ticket to both the conference title and the CFP while two defeats just won't cut it. 

That means Saturday's showdown between one-loss SEC West giants Ole Miss and Auburn is virtually a national title elimination game. Who said the playoff started on New Years Day?

The Rebels are still licking their wounds after their national title hopes were stunted considerably with a road loss against LSU in Week 9. But while most title contenders spend several weeks catching ground following a defeat, Ole Miss would be in the top five to stay with a win Saturday.

With the Egg Bowl against top-ranked Mississippi State looming, Ole Miss—unlike Auburn—controls its destiny in the division race as well. But the Rebels will face Auburn banged up, as Scout.com's Ben Garrett noted the injury toll against LSU:

Auburn is the last team you want to come into your house when things aren't going well for you, particularly on offense.

Bo Wallace struggled mightily against LSU, going 14-for-133 for 176 yards including a game-ending interception when a quick sideline throw—or even an incompletion—would've given Ole Miss a chance to tie it. Either way, scoring seven against a LSU defense Auburn hung 41 on isn't a good look with Gus Malzahn's offense coming to town.

Ole Miss will show its grit early and jump on the Tigers, but Auburn will take advantage of opportunities to get back in the game like it didn't against Mississippi State. In the end, Nick Marshall will deliver with a convincing late drive to keep Auburn in the thick of the CFP hunt.

Prediction: Auburn 27, Ole Miss 24

 

Stats courtesy of CFBStats.com unless otherwise noted.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Tennessee Volunteers vs. South Carolina Gamecocks Complete Game Preview

A year ago, Tennessee completed an improbable 23-21 come-from-behind win over South Carolina to give Butch Jones' first UT team its signature win.

The Volunteers are in desperate need of a repeat.

This time, it'll have to come in Columbia. But after running through a gauntlet of stingy defenses and after finding a quarterback in Joshua Dobbs that appears to be have resurrected a left-for-dead offense, the porous Gamecocks defense will be a welcome sight for UT.

However, that Carolina offense, led by senior quarterback Dylan Thompson, just put up 35 points in a loss on the road to Auburn, so the Vols have another challenge.

Tennessee currently sits at 3-5 on the season and winless in the league. The scenario sets up the Vols needing to win three of their final four games to become bowl-eligible.

In other words, the real season starts this week for UT.

Let's take a look at everything you need to know about the matchup with the Gamecocks.

 

Date: Saturday, Nov. 1

Time: 7:30 ET

Place: Williams-Brice Stadium, Columbia, South Carolina

TV: SEC Network

Radio: Vol Network, Gamecock IMG Sports Network

Spread: South Carolina by 8 points, according to Oddsshark.com.

Begin Slideshow

Chad Johnson's Advice to Cousin, Top 2016 WR: 'Don't Change Your Game'

Brandon Johnson is a top 2016 wide receiver from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Johnson, who has not committed yet, is the son of former MLB All-Star Charles Johnson and the cousin of former NFL star Chad Johnson. 

Bleacher Report caught up with the young wideout and discussed his recruitment, advice from Chad Johnson and some of his memorable plays.

Where will Johnson land?

Watch the video, and let us know! 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Ohio State Football: Game-by-Game Predictions for the Month of November

On the heels of a closer-than-expected victory against Penn State in double overtime, Ohio State's Big Ten title hopes—and by extension, its College Football Playoff aspirations—remain intact as the calendar turns to November.

With the Buckeyes already having two bye weeks this season, the month is jam-packed with five games for Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes.

Can Ohio State bounce back from a disappointing performance against the Nittany Lions and surge through a tough November slate? 

Begin Slideshow

NCAA Football Rankings 2014: Week 10 Standings and Analysis for Latest Polls

Everyone wants to know which teams are the best in college football, but the rankings are more of a mess than ever before.

At the end of the season, a committee will choose the four best teams in the country to compete in a playoff for the national championship. While many believed this would sort itself out, only three undefeated teams remain: Mississippi State, Florida State and Marshall.

As a result, we now have to examine the rest of the teams to see which are better among the one-loss programs. Each poll has its view, but here is a look at those squads ranked too high or too low in the latest set of rankings.

 

Too High: Alabama (No. 3 in coaches poll; No. 3 in AP poll)

Ole Miss lost a close game and dropped from No. 3 to No. 9, which is not completely out of line. However, it moved significantly behind Alabama, which continues to climb up the rankings.

Pete Prisco of CBSSports.com noted why this does not make sense:

The Crimson Tide completely destroyed Texas A&M, but the Aggies are not as good as we originally thought. The fact remains that Alabama has not beaten a single team ranked in the current Top 25 except for West Virginia, and that win came in August on a neutral field. 

Bleacher Report's Playoff Guru Samuel Chi provided a look at how the teams in the SEC West should rank:

While this sport is understandably all about what you have done for me lately, we should not forget about past wins and losses. Alabama has not beaten any of the top teams in the SEC and is only at this spot due to preseason expectations.

Alabama has upcoming games at LSU and home against Mississippi State and Auburn, so we will know a lot more about this team by the end of the year.

 

Too Low: Oregon (No. 6 in coaches poll; No. 5 in AP poll)

Oregon once again showed how explosive it can be offensively with a 59-41 win over Cal. Obviously, teams do not want to give up that many points, but the game was never in doubt. Marcus Mariota threw five touchdowns for the Ducks in the win.

In fact, the most notable part of his performance was the fact that he threw an interception for the first time all year. He now has 24 passing touchdowns and one interception.

In his weekly press conference, head coach Mark Helfrich discussed the way the team turned things around after the loss to Arizona:

(Players) came in disappointed, frustrated and looked each other directly in the eye and said, let's fix this together. There was no pout element to it at all. We can't sit here and say what if we had these receivers back or these offensive linemen back. We are who we are right now and our guys are competing their tails off.

The loss to Arizona hurt, but the Wildcats are a good team. Meanwhile, the Ducks have also earned dominant wins over UCLA and Michigan State, which is ranked above them in one poll.

Oregon has one of the more impressive resumes of all the one-loss teams and should be a top option for the College Football Playoff if it wins out.

 

Too Low: Nebraska (No. 16 in coaches poll; No. 17 in AP poll)

As long as Ameer Abdullah is playing well, it is difficult for anyone to beat Nebraska. 

Against Rutgers, the senior rushed for 225 yards with three touchdowns in a dominant win. Lisa Horne of Pigskin Grind was impressed by his effort:

The running back now ranks first in the country with 1,249 rushing yards, averaging 6.9 yards per carry. He was shut down by Michigan State in Nebraska's only loss (24 carries for 47 rushing yards), but few other teams in the nation have that ability.

Even with the loss, the Cornhuskers rank 12th in the nation in scoring and 22nd in scoring defense, beating opponents by 20.7 points per game. They lost to a talented Spartans squad but have been getting better every week and now look like one of the best teams in the Big Ten.

There probably will not be too many chances for Nebraska to prove itself against a top opponent, but this is a quality squad with the talent to beat almost anyone in the nation. The rankings should start reflecting that.

 

Too High: Clemson (No. 21 in coaches poll; No. 22 in AP poll)

The rankings do not include too many two-loss teams, but, for some reason, Clemson is one of them. This is a mistake based on what we have seen from the Tigers this season.

Clemson's losses came to two very good teams, but they came in the form of a 45-21 blowout to Georgia and an overtime loss to Florida State without starting quarterback and reigning Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston. 

And the wins have not really made up for it, as the squad has struggled in each of its last three games and barely pulled out victories. The most recent win over Syracuse was low-scoring throughout:

Tom Fornelli of CBSSports.com did not even want to watch:

Starting quarterback Cole Stoudt has two touchdowns and four interceptions in five full games this season. Nothing has indicated this is one of the best teams in the nation, and the squad should not be ranked in either poll. 

 

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

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