Articles By Steven Lassan

All taxonomy terms: ACC, College Football, Virginia Cavaliers, News
Path: /college-football/mike-london-will-return-virginias-coach-2015
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Mike London will return as Virginia’s coach in 2015. The school announced the news on Wednesday, just a few days before the Cavaliers’ rivalry matchup against Virginia Tech.

London was on the hot seat in 2014, but Virginia has a 5-6 record entering its finale against the Hokies.

In five seasons at Virginia, London is 23-37 and has one bowl appearance.

London will be on the hot seat once again in 2015, but it seems the Cavaliers are trending in the right direction. A bowl appearance next year would help secure London’s long-term outlook in Charlottesville. 

Teaser:
Mike London Will Return as Virginia's Coach in 2015
Post date: Wednesday, November 26, 2014 - 16:09
Path: /college-football/arkansas-razorbacks-vs-missouri-tigers-game-preview-and-prediction-2014
Body:

Arkansas and Missouri are set to meet as SEC opponents for the first time on Friday, and there’s plenty at stake between these two border rivals. The Razorbacks are one of the SEC’s hottest teams entering Week 14 after back-to-back wins over Ole Miss and LSU. The Tigers have won five in a row and can clinch the SEC East title with a win over Arkansas.

 

Coach Bret Bielema’s rebuilding project in Fayetteville appears to be ahead of schedule with a 6-5 mark in 2014. The Razorbacks went winless in SEC play last year, but Bielema’s squad has been one of the most-improved teams in the nation this season. Arkansas started 3-1 and lost to Texas A&M, Arkansas and Mississippi State by a combined 15 points. On the other sideline, Missouri has quietly moved up in the rankings since a 34-0 loss to Georgia. The Tigers have claimed five victories in a row and are 4-0 in conference road tests in 2014.

 

Arkansas and Missouri have played only five previous times. The Tigers own a 3-2 series edge. Two of the previous meetings occurred in bowl games. The last matchup between Missouri and Arkansas took place in the 2008 Cotton Bowl.

 

Arkansas at Missouri

 

Kickoff: 2:30 p.m. ET (Friday)

TV Channel: CBS

Spread: Arkansas -2

 

Arkansas’ Key to Victory: Test the Missouri Run Defense

 

Statistically, the Missouri defense is one of the best in the SEC against the run. Through 11 contests, the Tigers rank fifth in the conference, limiting opponents to 123.8 yards per game. But let’s take a look at Missouri’s last five opponents: Tennessee, Texas A&M, Kentucky, Vanderbilt and Florida. None of those teams rank inside of the top six in the SEC in rush offense and four of those rank at the bottom of the conference. The Tigers had trouble stopping Georgia (210 yards) and Indiana (241 yards) earlier this year, so there’s plenty of reasoning to suggest Arkansas needs to challenge this defensive front. Ends Markus Golden and Shane Ray are two of the best in the nation at getting to the quarterback, but the Razorbacks will test how strong this group is against the run. Jonathan Williams (1,013 yards) leads the team, but sophomore Alex Collins (965 yards) isn’t far behind. Williams and Collins are running behind one of the nation’s top offensive lines, which helped Arkansas rush for 163 yards against Mississippi State and 159 against Ole Miss.

 

Missouri’s Key to Victory: Win the Turnover Battle

 

One of the under-the-radar reasons for Missouri’s five-game winning streak has been its success in the turnover department. The Tigers have lost only two turnovers in their last five games and are +9 on the season. Arkansas has forced 14 turnovers in seven SEC contests this year, including eight over its last three games. In addition to their success at taking the ball away, the Razorbacks have shut out back-to-back opponents and limited Mississippi State to just 17 points on Nov. 1. First-year coordinator Robb Smith has Arkansas’ defense performing at a high level, but the balance of Missouri’s offense will test this unit. The Tigers have passed for 2,014 yards and rushed for 1,954 yards this year. Quarterback Maty Mauk needs to improve his efficiency (52.7), but the sophomore has 21 touchdowns to only 10 picks this year. Mauk has a solid group of receivers, and junior running back Russell Hansbrough averages a healthy 5.5 yards per carry. If Missouri takes care of the ball and continues to play with balance, the Tigers will clinch a trip to Atlanta.

 

Final Analysis

 

This matchup is a new rivalry created by conference realignment and provides plenty of intrigue this weekend. Arkansas has momentum and could finish with a 7-5 record and improve its bowl spot with a win. On the other sideline, Missouri needs to beat the Razorbacks to clinch a spot in Atlanta for the second consecutive year. There’s some uncertainty for Arkansas at quarterback, as Brandon Allen suffered a hip injury against Ole Miss and was limited in practice early in the week. Regardless of whether or not Allen plays, the formula for the Razorbacks won’t change. If Arkansas continues its recent performance on defense and has success on the ground, Bielema’s team can play spoiler. However, Missouri has too much to play for and edges the Razorbacks at home to return to Atlanta.  

 

Prediction: Missouri 24, Arkansas 20
Teaser:
Arkansas Razorbacks vs. Missouri Tigers Game Preview and Prediction 2014
Post date: Wednesday, November 26, 2014 - 15:30
Path: /college-football/texas-longhorns-vs-tcu-horned-frogs-game-preview-and-prediction-2014
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The Lone Star State is home to three Thanksgiving Day games, and the Big 12 showdown between TCU and Texas may provide the most intrigue of any game on the Thursday slate. Sure, Dallas-Philadelphia will draw plenty of interest in the afternoon, and Texas A&M-LSU is an interesting SEC contest, but this matchup between the Longhorns and Horned Frogs has national title and playoff implications in the college football world.

 

TCU ranked No. 5 in the latest playoff standings release and the road date in Austin is its toughest remaining game. The Horned Frogs have won five in a row since a 61-58 loss against Baylor and have some ground to makeup for the No. 4 spot. A loss against the Longhorns would end TCU’s playoff hopes. On the other sideline, Texas has won four out of its last five games and is looking to finish the year with momentum in coach Charlie Strong’s first season.

 

Texas has dominated the overall series with TCU. The Longhorns own a 59-21-1 series edge over the Horned Frogs. The two teams have split the series at one victory apiece since TCU joined the Big 12.

 

TCU at Texas

 

Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET (Thursday)

TV Channel: Fox Sports 1

Spread: TCU -6.5

 

TCU’s Key to Victory: Overcome the Recent Struggles Away from Home

 

TCU has experienced close calls in its last two road games. The Horned Frogs defeated West Virginia 31-30 and survived Kansas’ upset bid with a 34-30 win. Can TCU avoid another subpar road performance in Austin? If the Horned Frogs struggle, Texas has all of the necessary pieces to take advantage and pull of the upset. Getting the offense back on track will be crucial to holding off the Longhorns on Thursday night. In TCU’s last two road trips, the Horned Frogs lost five turnovers – and still won. West Virginia and Kansas gave TCU all it could handle in both matchups, and the Longhorns are a tougher all-around matchup. The offense can’t afford to make mistakes, and quarterback Trevone Boykin has to replicate his performance against Kansas State (219 pass yards, 123 rush yards), instead of his 12 of 30 for 166 yards and one score output against West Virginia on the road. In conference-only games, the Horned Frogs lead the Big 12 by scoring 46.4 points per matchup. There’s no doubt Texas will throw a few things at TCU with extra time to prepare. The Longhorns’ defensive front is active (37 sacks) and should challenge Boykin at the line of scrimmage. It’s important for TCU to win the turnover battle and find balance to offense to limit the pressure on Boykin against a stout Longhorns’ defensive line.

 

Texas’ Key to Victory: QB Tyrone Swoopes

 

There’s more to Texas’ victory hopes than Swoopes, but TCU coach Gary Patterson is one of the best defensive minds in the nation. And there’s no doubt Patterson will throw a few different looks at Swoopes to test the young quarterback. The sophomore has tossed three touchdowns to five interceptions in five home games but is coming off a solid performance against Oklahoma State (305 yards, 2 TDs). TCU’s defense has a strong front seven, which is led by linebacker Paul Dawson and a solid collection of talent on the line that has helped the Horned Frogs register 28 sacks in 10 games. Swoopes can counter TCU’s pass rush with his mobility, and the Longhorns may need 40-50 rushing yards from the sophomore on Thursday night. TCU’s pass defense isn’t as stingy as it was last year, but the Horned Frogs rank fourth in the Big 12 in pass efficiency defense and have allowed 15 passing scores in conference games. Swoopes has developed a nice rapport with John Harris (59 catches) and Jaxon Shipley (58 catches) this year, and the receivers will challenge the TCU secondary. As a first-year starter, Swoopes has experienced his share of ups and downs. If he can deliver a complete performance on Thursday night, Texas will have a good shot at the upset.

 

Final Analysis

 

There’s no doubt Texas is getting better, and this is a dangerous matchup for the Horned Frogs. TCU needs quarterback Trevone Boykin to continue his efficiency (only five picks in 386 attempts), while allowing the junior to use his legs against the Longhorns’ defensive line when the pocket collapses. And even though running back B.J. Catalon is not expected to play, the Horned Frogs can lean on Aaron Green (8.3 ypc) to provide balance. Texas needs to lean on its defense to hang around in this one. And if the Longhorns control the pace of the game with their defense, can the offense make enough plays in the fourth quarter to win? That’s the big question on Thursday night. Texas keeps it close, but TCU's offense makes just enough plays in the fourth quarter to pull out the victory.

 

Prediction: TCU 27, Texas 24
Teaser:
Texas Longhorns vs. TCU Horned Frogs Game Preview and Prediction
Post date: Wednesday, November 26, 2014 - 14:20
Path: /college-football/lsu-tigers-vs-texas-am-aggies-game-preview-and-prediction-2014
Body:

Texas A&M and LSU meet for the third time as SEC opponents in a Thanksgiving night matchup at Kyle Field. The Aggies and Tigers enter the regular season finale at 7-4 and 3-4 in conference play. Both teams have spent time in the top 25 and a win on Thursday night would nudge either back into contention for next week’s rankings.

 

With Texas A&M and LSU out of the conference title mix in the SEC West, Thursday night’s game is all about bowl positioning and establishing momentum. Neither team should be considered a disappointment with a 7-4 record, as both programs had to replace a significant amount of talent in the offseason. However, question marks and personnel concerns have continued throughout the year for both teams. Thursday night’s game is a chance to finish with momentum and establish something positive before bowl practices in December.

 

LSU owns a 29-19-3 series edge against Texas A&M. The Tigers have won both meetings between these two teams as SEC members. LSU has played at Kyle Field only once since 1995.

 

LSU at Texas A&M

 

Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET (Thursday)

TV Channel: ESPN

Spread: LSU -3

 

LSU’s Key to Victory: Establish the Run

 

In LSU’s last game against Arkansas, the rushing attack was held to just 36 yards on 32 attempts. That’s the fewest rushing yards by the Tigers since recording 43 on 31 attempts against Alabama in 2013. Establishing the run on Thursday night is critical with the struggles of quarterback Anthony Jennings. The sophomore is completing only 47.9 percent of his throws and passed for 87 yards on 12 completions against the Razorbacks. In LSU’s last two games against Texas A&M, the Tigers have gashed the Aggies for 543 yards and four scores on 100 carries. Averaging 5.4 yards per rush on Thursday night isn’t out of the question with Texas A&M giving up 208.9 rushing yards per game. True freshman Leonard Fournette recorded only five carries against Arkansas, but the true freshman should see 20-25 touches against the Aggies. And if Fournette needs a rest, LSU has Terrence Magee (471 yards) and Darrel Williams (4.6 ypc) to hammer away against the Texas A&M defense. If LSU can establish the run, Jennings will have opportunities to hit plays downfield on play-action passes.

 

Texas A&M’s Key to Victory: Push the Tempo/Style of Play

 

LSU’s identity on offense is clear with a struggling passing game: Establish the run and control the clock. The Tigers average 33:19 in time of possession, which ranks second in the SEC behind Arkansas. On the flipside, Texas A&M ranks last in time of possession with a 26:15 mark. Time of possession doesn’t mean much in terms of success, but it’s critical in a matchup like the one on Thursday night. The Aggies want to speed up the tempo and get the ball in space to their playmakers. Freshman quarterback Kyle Allen has made three starts this year and threw for 237 yards and three scores in Texas A&M’s 34-27 loss to Missouri. He also completed 19 of 29 passes for 277 yards and four touchdowns in a 41-38 win over Auburn. LSU’s pass defense has been stingy this season, limiting opponents to just eight passing scores and a 49.4 completion percentage. The Aggies know they have a struggling rush defense and can’t afford to let the Tigers hammer away for four quarters on the ground. The best counterpunch to LSU’s offense is Texas A&M’s ability to push the tempo and let Allen hit receivers Speedy Noil, Josh Reynolds, Malcome Kennedy and Ricky Seals-Jones. If the Aggies get ahead, they can take the Tigers out of their preferred offense and force coach Les Miles’ team to take to the air.

 

Final Analysis

 

In the two previous meetings between LSU and Texas A&M as SEC members, the Tigers have controlled the pace of the game with a punishing ground attack and a quick, athletic defense. For the Aggies to reverse the trend on Thursday night, they have to get Allen going early and strike first on offense to force LSU out of its ground-and-pound gameplan. Which team establishes the tempo will emerge on Thanksgiving night with the victory. The guess here is LSU’s rushing attack and offensive line controls the pace of game and Texas A&M struggles to stop the run once again.

 

Prediction: LSU 27, Texas A&M 20
Teaser:
LSU Tigers vs. Texas A&M Aggies Game Preview and Prediction 2014
Post date: Wednesday, November 26, 2014 - 13:00
Path: /college-football/acc-2014-week-14-preview-and-predictions
Body:

The stakes are high for the ACC in Week 14. The Florida State-Florida matchup has lost some of its national appeal with the Gators hovering around .500, but the Seminoles need to win to stay alive for a spot in college football’s four-team playoff.

Clemson has lost five straight to South Carolina, but coach Dabo Swinney’s team has a good opportunity to reverse the trend in this series if quarterback Deshaun Watson is able to play. Georgia Tech and Louisville take on SEC rivals this Saturday and both need wins to have a shot at a berth in the Orange Bowl if Florida State does not make the college football playoff.

In addition to the four ACC-SEC rivalry games, there are five conference matchups slated for Week 14. Virginia-Virginia Tech is the matchup with the most importance in conference play, with the winner earning bowl eligibility. Pittsburgh is battling for postseason hopes in a road trip to Miami.


Week 14 Previews and Predictions:
Big 12Big TenPac-12SEC 


ACC Week 14 Game Power Rankings

 

1. Florida at Florida State (-7.5)
3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN


The annual rivalry matchup between Florida and Florida State has lost some of its national appeal this year, but there’s still plenty at stake for both programs. All of the pressure in this game is on the Florida State sideline, as the Seminoles need to win out to claim a spot in college football’s playoff. For Florida, this will be coach Will Muschamp’s last game. The Gators want to send Muschamp out a winner and spoil Florida State’s unbeaten record and national title hopes. And despite Florida’s struggles this year, the oddsmakers are giving the Gators plenty of respect with a line just over a touchdown. Florida’s upset hopes hinge on its ability to establish the run. The Seminoles have struggled at times to stop the run, allowing 4.7 yards per carry in last week’s win over Boston College. If the Gators establish their ground attack, they can limit Florida State’s possessions and keep quarterback Jameis Winston on the sidelines. In addition to stopping the run, the Seminoles can’t afford turnovers to give the Gators any early confidence and will need receivers outside of Rashad Greene to step up. All-American cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III could spend most of his snaps covering Greene, which opens the door for freshman Travis Rudolph and sophomore Jesus Wilson to pickup the slack in the passing game. Florida State has won three out of the last four in this series, including a 30-point victory in 2013.
 

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2. South Carolina at Clemson (-4.5)
Noon ET, ESPN


South Carolina has dominated the Palmetto State rivalry in recent years by winning five in a row over the Tigers since 2009. The gap between the two teams during that span has been wide, as South Carolina has won each of the last five meetings by at least 10 points. Despite the recent history between these two programs, Clemson is a slight favorite for Saturday’s game. But coach Dabo Swinney’s team has uncertainty at quarterback, as freshman Deshaun Watson is questionable to play due to a knee injury. If Watson doesn’t start, senior Cole Stoudt (1,576 yards, 6 TDs, 9 INTs) would get the nod under center. Regardless of whether Stoudt or Watson is under center, Clemson’s offense will have opportunities to move the ball against a South Carolina defense allowing 6.1 yards per play. The strength of the Gamecocks is an offense averaging 34 points per game in SEC contests. Quarterback Dylan Thompson leads the SEC with an average of 275.5 yards per game, but Clemson’s defense leads the nation by limiting opponents to just 3.9 yards per play. The turnover battle will be one area to watch on Saturday. Over the last four matchups, South Carolina owns a +11 edge over the Tigers.    
 

3. Georgia Tech at Georgia (-13)
Noon ET, SEC Network

 

Georgia Tech will play for the ACC Championship next week, but the Yellow Jackets have some unfinished business in the regular season. Georgia has won 12 out of the last 13 matchups against Georgia Tech in their annual in-state rivalry. Can coach Paul Johnson’s team reverse the trend in the series? The Yellow Jackets rank fourth in the nation in rush offense, and the Bulldogs have been susceptible to the run at times this year. Georgia allowed 418 yards to Florida and gave up 214 against Kentucky. Quarterback Justin Thomas leads the ground attack for Johnson, with Zach Laskey and Synjyn Days each capable of rushing for 100 yards. While Georgia Tech’s option attack will be tough to stop, a bigger problem for Johnson is on defense. The Yellow Jackets allow 6.1 yards per play and rank 10th in the ACC in rush defense. That’s an issue against a Georgia team averaging 260.6 rushing yards per game, largely on the shoulders of freshman running back Nick Chubb. In order to pull off the upset, Georgia Tech needs to force a couple of turnovers against a Bulldog offense that has lost just eight all year.

 
4. Virginia (-1) at Virginia Tech
8 p.m. ET, ESPN (Friday)

 

The in-state rivalry between Virginia and Virginia Tech has been a one-sided affair in recent years. The Hokies have recorded 10 wins in a row in this series and claimed seven consecutive victories in Blacksburg against the Cavaliers. However, there’s very little separating the two programs in 2014, and the winner of Friday night’s matchup will earn a bowl bid. Points could be at a premium between two offenses that average less than 22 points a game in ACC contests. Virginia Tech’s defense has allowed 12 plays of 40 yards or more this year, but coordinator Bud Foster’s group has limited opponents to 20.5 points per game. Virginia’s offense has been inconsistent at times this year but averaged five yards per play in the 30-13 win over Miami. The health of running back Kevin Parks is critical on Friday night, as the senior missed most of last week’s game due to concussion-like symptoms. Injuries have been a major issue for Virginia Tech all year, as running backs Shai McKenzie and Marshawn Williams were lost for the year, and Trey Edmunds has played in only six contests. In a tight game, quarterback play – especially between two struggling signal-callers – and turnovers will be crucial to the outcome. These two teams have lost 45 turnovers this year and an edge in this department could be the difference in the game on Friday.

 

5. Kentucky at Louisville (-12.5)
Noon ET, ESPN2


Bragging rights in the Bluegrass State are on the line when Kentucky and Louisville meet on Saturday. Additionally, there’s plenty at stake in terms of bowls and postseason positioning. The Wildcats need a win to go bowling for the first time since 2010, while the Cardinals are still alive for a spot in the Orange Bowl (provided Florida State makes the college football playoff). For Kentucky to defeat Louisville for the first time in four years, coach Mark Stoops’ team has to find ways to stop the potent Cardinals’ offense. Louisville freshman quarterback Reggie Bonnafon completed only 8 of 21 passes for 180 yards in last week’s win over Notre Dame, but he had plenty of help from a rushing attack that recorded 229 yards on 50 attempts. Stopping the run has been a challenge for Kentucky this year, and the Wildcats (201 ypg) will have trouble containing a Cardinals’ ground attack that features Michael Dyer and Brandon Radcliff. The Wildcats started fast on offense this year but have not averaged more than 4.5 yards per play over the last three weeks. That’s not a good sign against a Louisville defense limiting opponents to 4.6 yards per play and one that has forced 26 turnovers in 11 games.
 

6. NC State at North Carolina (-7.5)
12:30 p.m. ET, ACC Network/ESPN3

 

There’s some added appeal to the annual battle between NC State and North Carolina this year, as both teams are bowl eligible and looking to improve their standing in the ACC’s crowded postseason picture. For the second year in a row, the Tar Heels have played better over the second half of the season. Coach Larry Fedora’s team has scored at least 40 points in three out of its last five games, with quarterback Marquise Williams leading the way by recording at least 300 yards of total offense in five out of his last six starts. NC State’s defense has been prone to giving up big plays (25 of 30 yards or more) and allows ACC opponents to score 34.7 points per game. While those numbers are problematic for the Wolfpack, North Carolina’s defense has been equally porous. The Tar Heels rank last in the conference by allowing league opponents to score 36.6 points per game, and this unit is giving up 6.2 yards per play (ACC-only games). Quarterback Jacoby Brissett (19 TDs, 5 INTs) has energized NC State’s offense, but his numbers have dipped in conference play and in road contests. Considering the play of both defenses, a shootout would not be surprising in Chapel Hill. North Carolina has won the last two meetings in this series.

 

7. Pittsburgh at Miami (-10)
7 p.m. ET, ESPN2

 

The Panthers and Hurricanes began 2014 with expectations of competing for the Coastal Division crown, but these two teams enter the season finale with a combined 11-11 overall record and just a 6-8 mark in conference play. This matchup features the ACC’s top running backs in Pittsburgh’s James Conner and Miami’s Duke Johnson. Conner is questionable to play with a hip injury suffered last week against Syracuse, but even if he plays, running room could be limited against a defense holding opponents to 3.6 yards per carry. With Johnson eligible to declare for the draft, this game is expected to be his final appearance in a Miami uniform at Sun Life Stadium. The junior has six 100-yard efforts over his last seven games and faces a Pittsburgh defense allowing 5.2 yards per carry in ACC contests. Stopping the run is critical for both teams on Saturday, but the turnover battle is also worth monitoring. Miami and Pittsburgh both rank near the bottom of the ACC in lost turnovers, with the Panthers owning a negative margin (-5) in 11 contests. The Hurricanes have won 16 out of the last 17 in this series, but Pittsburgh needs a win to get bowl eligible.  

 

8. Syracuse at Boston College (-11)
12:30 p.m. ET, RSN/ESPN3

 

Boston College fell short in its upset bid against Florida State, but the Eagles are clearly on the right track in coach Steve Addazio’s second year. With a win over Syracuse on Saturday, Boston College would earn back-to-back winning seasons for the first time since 2009-10. While the trajectory of the program in Chestnut Hill is clear, there’s uncertainty on the other sideline. The Orange went 7-6 last season but have slipped to 3-8 in 2014. Injuries and offensive issues have plagued coach Scott Shafer’s team this year, limiting Syracuse to just one ACC win (30-7 Wake Forest). The battle in the trenches is critical for both teams on Saturday, as Syracuse has limited opponents to just seven rushing scores and 3.4 yards per carry in 2014. Boston College ranks second in the ACC by averaging 261.8 rushing yards per contest, with quarterback Tyler Murphy leading the team with 1,054 yards. Even if the Orange limits the Eagles on the ground, Shafer’s team has to find a spark on offense. Syracuse has not scored more than 17 points in each of its last four games and averages just 4.4 yards per play in ACC contests. The Eagles allow 5.3 yards per play on defense and limit opponents to 23.9 points per game in league play. The Orange has won three out of the last four meetings against Boston College.
 

9. Wake Forest at Duke (-18)
7 p.m. ET, ESPNU


Seven out of the last eight meetings between Wake Forest and Duke have been decided by 11 points or less. The Demon Deacons controlled this rivalry from 2000-11, but the Blue Devils have won two in a row. Despite the recent trend in this series, Duke is a heavy favorite for Saturday’s game. Coach David Cutcliffe’s team appeared to have the inside track to the ACC Championship in early November but back-to-back losses ended the hopes of a repeat trip to Charlotte. Turnovers have been a problem for the Blue Devils in their three losses this year. Duke committed nine turnovers in defeats and three in victories. Assuming the Blue Devils can hold onto the ball, they should win their third game in a row over their in-state rivals. Wake Forest is averaging just 2.8 yards per play in ACC games and has scored only 19 points in its last two league contests. The Demon Deacons are rebuilding under first-year coach Dave Clawson but picked up their first conference win by beating Virginia Tech 6-3 in double overtime last Saturday.
 

ACC Week 14 Predictions

 David
Fox
Braden
Gall
Steven 
Lassan
Mitch
Light
UVa (-1) at VTUVa 24-14VT 19-18VT 24-20UVa 17-14
SC (+4.5) at ClemsonSC 28-21CU 27-24SC 30-27CU 34-26
GT (+13) at UGaUGa 31-21UGa 34-23UGa 38-27UGa 41-20
UK (+12.5) at ULUL 35-14UL 31-24UL 34-20UL 23-20
Syracuse (+11) at BCBC 34-14BC 35-17BC 30-13BC 27-13
NC State (+7.5) at UNCUNC 35-21UNC 45-42UNC 38-27UNC 37-23
Florida (+7.5) at FSUFSU 38-28FSU 29-21FSU 30-20FSU 27-20
Wake (+18) at DukeDuke 31-10Duke 35-13Duke 30-10Duke 20-10
Pitt (+10) at MiamiMiami 34-20Miami 34-27Miami 31-20Miami 23-13
Last Week:5-24-33-44-3
Season Record:78-2577-2678-2575-28

 

 

Teaser:
ACC Week 14 Preview and Predictions
Post date: Wednesday, November 26, 2014 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-post-week-13-bowl-projections-2014
Body:

College football’s 2014 season has reached its final stretch run, and the bowl and national title picture is starting to clear. The playoff committee will release its fifth set of rankings on Tuesday this week, which should give fans, coaches and players a better idea of what the committee values heading into the last few weeks of the season.

 

The new playoff format has added a new layer of intrigue, as four teams – instead of two – will have a shot at the national championship once the bowl pairings are announced in early December.

 

With 13 weeks in the books, it’s time to take a look at what the bowl picture might hold for each conference and team this year. The post-Week 13 bowl projections are a mixture between picks for the next few weeks, how things would look if the season ended today, and the results from the first 13 weeks of action.

 

Teams on the projection bubble and missing our projections this week: Oklahoma State, Temple, Fresno State, Ohio, Akron, Illinois, Michigan, Pittsburgh, Virginia, Oregon State and UAB. 

 

College Football's Post-Week 13 Bowl Projections
BowlDateTie-InProjection
New OrleansDec. 20Sun Belt vs.
Mountain West
 UL Lafayette vs.
Air Force 
New MexicoDec. 20

C-USA vs. 
Mountain West

 UTEP vs.
Utah State 
Las VegasDec. 20Mountain West vs.
Pac-12
 Boise State vs.
Utah 
Famous Idaho PotatoDec. 20MAC vs.
Mountain West
 Bowling Green vs.
Nevada 
CamelliaDec. 20MAC vs.
Sun Belt
 Toledo vs.
Arkansas State 
Miami BeachDec. 22American vs.
BYU
 East Carolina vs.
BYU 
Boca RatonDec. 23

C-USA vs.
MAC

 Western Kentucky vs.
Central Michigan 
PoinsettiaDec. 23Mountain West vs.
Navy
 Colorado State vs.
Navy 
BahamasDec. 24C-USA vs.
MAC
 MTSU vs.
Western Michigan 
HawaiiDec. 24C-USA vs. 
Mountain West
 Rice vs.
San Diego State 
Heart of DallasDec. 26Big Ten vs.
C-USA
 Rutgers vs.
Louisiana Tech 
Quick LaneDec. 26ACC vs.
Big Ten
 Boston College vs.
Northwestern 
St. PetersburgDec. 26ACC vs.
American
 NC State vs.
UCF 
MilitaryDec. 27ACC vs.
American
 Virginia Tech vs.
Cincinnati 
SunDec. 27ACC vs.
Pac-12
 Notre Dame vs.
Washington 
IndependenceDec. 27ACC vs.
SEC
 North Carolina vs.
Arkansas 
PinstripeDec. 27ACC vs.
Big Ten
 Miami vs.
Penn State 
HolidayDec. 27Big Ten vs.
Pac-12
 Nebraska vs.
Arizona 
LibertyDec. 29SEC vs.
Big 12
 Ole Miss vs.
West Virginia 
Russell AthleticDec. 29ACC vs. 
Big 12
 Clemson vs.
Oklahoma 
TexasDec. 29Big 12 vs.
SEC
 Texas vs.
LSU 
Music CityDec. 30ACC/Big Ten vs.
SEC
 Iowa vs.
Tennessee 
BelkDec. 30ACC vs.
SEC
 Duke vs.
South Carolina 
San FranciscoDec. 30Big Ten vs.
Pac-12
 Maryland vs.
USC 
OutbackJan. 1Big Ten vs.
SEC
 Minnesota vs.
Missouri 
CitrusJan. 1Big Ten/ACC vs.
SEC
 Wisconsin vs.
Auburn 
Armed ForcesJan. 2American vs.
Big 12/Army
 Houston vs.
California* 
TaxslayerJan. 2ACC/Big Ten vs.
SEC
 Louisville vs.
Texas A&M 
AlamoJan. 2Big 12 vs.
Pac-12
 Kansas State vs.
Arizona State 
CactusJan. 2Big 12 vs.
Pac-12
 Stanford vs.
Texas State*  
BirminghamJan. 3American vs.
SEC
 Memphis vs.
Florida 
GoDaddyJan. 4MAC vs. 
Sun Belt
 Northern Illinois vs.
South Alabama 
    
New Year's Bowls
PeachDec. 31At-large vs.
At-large
 Georgia vs.
Marshall 
FiestaDec. 31At-large vs.
At-large
 TCU vs.
UCLA 
OrangeDec. 31ACC vs.
Big Ten/SEC/ND
 Georgia Tech vs.
Michigan State 
CottonJan. 1At-large vs.
At-large
 Baylor vs.
Ohio State 
    
Related: Projecting the Playoff Teams After Week 13
RoseJan. 1Playoff 
Semifinal
 Florida State vs.
Oregon 
SugarJan. 1Playoff
Semifinal
 Alabama vs.
Mississippi State 
National TitleJan. 12Semifinal Winner vs.
Semifinal Winner
 Alabama vs.
Florida State 

* Indicates an at-large selection. Conference not projected to have enough bowl-eligible teams to fulfill the conference alignment.

 

** Bold indicates team has accepted bid to bowl.

Teaser:
College Football's Post-Week 13 Bowl Projections 2014
Post date: Tuesday, November 25, 2014 - 10:10
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-post-week-13-playoff-projection
Body:

College football’s playoff committee has released four sets of rankings, and the debate about the top four teams will continue every week until the final matchups are released. While the top 25 rankings are expected to change each week and will look drastically different from the release of the first poll to the last one, the playoff committee's poll provided some insight into the process.

 

Each week, Athlon Sports hopes to replicate the playoff committee’s work by asking some of college football’s top media members to vote on their top eight teams. This poll will attempt to project how the playoff picture stacks up after each week until the end of the year.

 

Expert Panel

 

Bobby Bowden (@TheBobbyBowden), Legends Poll
Gene Stallings, (@LegendsPoll), Legends Poll
Don Nehlen (@LegendsPoll), Legends Poll
Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven), Athlon Sports
Braden Gall (@BradenGall), Athlon Sports
Zac Ellis (@ZacEllis), Sports Illustrated
David Fox (@DavidFox615), Athlon Sports
Mark Ennis (@MarkEnnis), CardChronicle.com
Teddy Mitrosilis (@TMitrosilis), Fox Sports

Steven Godfrey (@38Godfrey), SBNation.com
Matt Brown (@MattBrownCFB), SportsonEarth.com
Rich Cirminiello (@RichCirminiello), Campus Insiders
Brad Crawford (@BCrawfordSDS), SaturdayDownSouth.com
Allen Kenney (@BlatantHomerism), BlatantHomerism.com
Chris Anderson (@CMAnderson247), Eersports.com
Kyle Kensing (@kensing45), CFBHuddle.com
Adam Powell (@ACCSports), ACCSports.com
Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch) Athlon Sports
Josh Ward (@Josh_Ward), MrSEC.com
Kevin McGuire (@KevinonCFB), CollegeFootballTalk.com
Mark Ross (@AthlonMarkR), Athlon Sports


Post-Week 13 Playoff Projection

RankTeam 12345678Total
1Alabama145200000159
2Florida State651000000143
3Oregon111720000137
4Mississippi State00213240097
5Baylor 00031232177
6TCU00035103071
7Ohio State00002414149
8UCLA00000011113
9Georgia000000179
10Missouri000000010

Takeaways From Expert Poll Results

 

* Alabama remains the No. 1 team in the playoff projection after taking the top spot following the Week 12 win over Mississippi State.

* The gap between Florida State and Oregon decreased from 18 points to six this week. The Seminoles received six first-place votes compared to one for the Ducks.

* Mississippi State is ahead of Baylor and TCU for the last spot by a comfortable margin (20 points).

* Barring an upset, the top four teams in this projection – Alabama, Florida State, Oregon and Mississippi State – are in good shape to earn a playoff bid. The Bulldogs could be pushed by Baylor, TCU or Ohio State for that last spot, but assuming coach Dan Mullen’s team beats Ole Miss and finishes 11-1, Mississippi State seems to have the inside track for the No. 4 ranking.

* UCLA jumps two spots to No. 8 in the rankings after beating USC. The Bruins are a longshot to make the playoffs, but coach Jim Mora’s team would have an interesting case for a bid if it wins out – including a matchup against Oregon in the Pac-12 title.

* Missouri makes an appearance in the poll, but the Tigers need a lot of breaks to jump into the discussion for a playoff spot. Coach Gary Pinkel’s team can clinch the SEC East with a win over Arkansas this Friday.

 

Group of 5 Rankings

 

1. Marshall
Record:
11-0
Remaining Schedule: Western Kentucky (Nov. 28)

The Thundering Herd survived an upset bid at UAB and holds a slight edge over Boise State for the No. 1 spot in the Group of 5 rankings.


2. Boise State
Record:
9-2
Remaining Schedule: Utah State (Nov. 29)

With Marshall’s narrow win at UAB, the gap between the Thundering Herd and Boise State is closing. The Broncos crushed Wyoming 63-14 to improve to 9-2 and host a solid Utah State team this Saturday.

3. Colorado State
Record:
10-1
Remaining Schedule: at Air Force (Nov. 28)

A late-season bye week helped quarterback Garrett Grayson and receiver Rashard Higgins return to full strength, and the Rams easily handled New Mexico 58-20 on Saturday. Colorado State needs a win on the road over Air Force and have Utah State beat Boise State on Saturday to play for the Mountain West title. 

4. Memphis

Record: 8-3
Remaining Schedule: UConn (Nov. 29)

The Tigers claimed their fifth victory in a row with a 31-20 win over USF on Saturday. Three teams in the American Athletic Conference have one loss in conference play, and Memphis closes out its league slate with a home date against UConn on Saturday. If the Tigers win and UCF loses at USF or East Carolina, Memphis would own the head-to-head tiebreaker over Cincinnati for the league crown.

5. Cincinnati
Record:
7-3
Remaining Schedule: at Temple (Nov. 29), Houston (Dec. 6)

The Bearcats soundly defeated UConn 41-0 last week to keep pace with Memphis and UCF in the American Athletic Conference. Cincinnati is a longshot to gain the Group of 5 bowl spot, but coach Tommy Tuberville’s team can finish with a 9-3 record and improve its bowl positioning over the last two weeks.

 

Games With Playoff/Bowl Implications in Week 14


TCU at Texas
7:30 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1 (Thursday)

LSU at Texas A&M
7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN (Thursday)

Northern Illinois at Western Michigan
11 a.m. ET, ESPNU (Friday)

Western Kentucky at Marshall
Noon ET, Fox Sports 1 (Friday)

Arkansas at Missouri
2:30 p.m. ET, CBS (Friday)

Stanford at UCLA
3:30 p.m. ET, ABC (Friday)

Arizona State at Arizona
3:30 p.m. ET, FOX (Friday)

Michigan at Ohio State
Noon ET, ABC

Georgia Tech at Georgia
Noon ET, SEC Network

South Carolina at Clemson
Noon ET, ESPN

Florida at Florida State
3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

Mississippi State at Ole Miss
3:30 p.m. ET, CBS

Minnesota at Wisconsin
3:30 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network

Notre Dame at USC
3:30 p.m. ET, FOX

Auburn at Alabama
7:45 p.m. ET, ESPN

Oregon at Oregon State
8 p.m. ET, ABC

Utah State at Boise State
10:15 p.m., ESPN2

Teaser:
College Football's Post-Week 13 Playoff Projection
Post date: Tuesday, November 25, 2014 - 10:10
Path: /college-football/virginia-tech-and-virginia-searching-answers-critical-rivalry-matchup
Body:

Virginia and Virginia Tech entered 2014 with different expectations. Thanks to a favorable schedule and a talented defense, the Hokies were pegged by some as the frontrunner in an unpredictable Coastal Division. The Cavaliers had low expectations and were pegged by most preseason prognosticators for the cellar in the Coastal after a 2-10 mark in 2013.

Despite the different preseason expectations, Virginia Tech and Virginia find their seasons intersecting on Friday night in Blacksburg.

 

After 13 weeks in the 2014 college football season, the two programs have the same record (5-6). The winner of the annual rivalry will go to a bowl. But the loser of Saturday night’s game will have plenty of questions to answer until spring practice starts.

 

Virginia Tech’s Frank Beamer is the longest-tenured coach in the FBS ranks, but the program has sputtered in recent years. The Hokies won at least 10 games in eight consecutive years but is just 20-17 over the last three seasons.

If Virginia Tech loses on Friday, the Hokies will miss out on a bowl for the first time since 1992.

There are plenty of reasons to doubt the direction of Beamer’s team, but this squad has been hit hard by injuries on defense and is dealing with youth on offense. There’s promise in 2015 – but also plenty of reasons to believe this team will struggle to reach the ACC title game. Can the offense find consistency on the offensive line and at quarterback? Is Scot Loeffler the answer as the team’s play-caller? Those are just a few of the questions Beamer will have to sort out at the end of the year.

 

Considering the preseason expectations, Virginia has overachieved (to a degree) with a chance to go to a bowl with a victory over Virginia Tech. But is that enough to save coach Mike London’s job? The Cavaliers started 4-2 but lost four in a row before defeating Miami on Saturday night. London is just 23-37 in five years with one bowl appearance.
 

Recruiting talent hasn’t been a problem for London, but Virginia won less than three ACC games in three out of four seasons from 2010-13.

 

If the Cavaliers get to a bowl, the conventional wisdom suggestions that would be enough for London to get another year. But what happens if Virginia falls short? Regardless of who coaches the Cavaliers in 2015, this team has plenty of talent and will be a factor in another wide-open Coastal race.

The Virginia-Virginia Tech rivalry has been one-sided on the gridiron in recent series. The Hokies have won 10 in a row over the Cavaliers, and Virginia has not won in Blacksburg since 1998.

While the rivalry has been dominated by Virginia Tech, there’s plenty of optimism on the Virginia sideline this year. The Cavaliers opened as just a point or two underdog in Friday’s matchup.

As the good folks in Vegas believe, Friday night’s game is a tossup. And considering what’s at stake for both programs, it’s a tossup on what the future lies for the Hokies and Cavaliers following Friday night’s game.

Even if these two teams have a combined 12 losses, there’s still plenty at stake on Friday night: Bowl bids, coaching and direction of a program.

 

Which team will answer some of the questions we mentioned throughout this article and end the season on a positive note? And which team will be forced to answer questions about its long-term outlook until spring practice starts?

 

Virginia-Virginia Tech won’t move the needle like Auburn-Alabama, but the outcome of this rivalry matchup could have some interesting implications in the ACC and in Virginia.  

Teaser:
Virginia Tech and Virginia Searching for Answers in Critical Rivalry Matchup
Post date: Monday, November 24, 2014 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: ACC, College Football, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac 12, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/oklahomas-samaje-perine-athlon-sports-week-13-player-week
Body:

Melvin Gordon’s single-game FBS rushing record lasted only a week. After the Wisconsin running back gashed Nebraska for 408 yards to pass former TCU running back LaDainian Tomlinson’s record (406) set in 1999, Oklahoma’s Samaje Perine added his name to the top of the record books with a huge performance against Kansas. Perine earned Athlon Sports Week 13 Player of the Week honors by setting a new FBS single-game record with 427 rushing yards in a 44-7 rout over Kansas.

 

With quarterback Trevor Knight sidelined due to injury and awful weather conditions in Norman, Okla., the Sooners turned to their ground attack to defeat the Jayhawks. Perine was the offensive workhorse for coach Bob Stoops, recording 34 carries and catching one pass for 19 yards. Perine touched the ball on 35 of Oklahoma’s 68 plays on Saturday afternoon and averaged 12.6 yards per rush.

 

The true freshman scored on a 49-yard run to open Oklahoma’s scoring and continued his assault on the record books with two more touchdowns (33 and 34 yards in the first half). Perine added a 66-yard score in the third, which was the Sooners' fourth play of 60 yards or more in 2014.

In addition to his single-game total record, Perine is the first player in FBS history to record at least 200 yards in both halves of a game. The true freshman’s five rushing scores pushed his season total to 19, which surpassed Adrian Peterson for the school record for most touchdowns by a true freshman.

With his 427 yards against Kansas, Perine’s season total stands at 1,428 with two games left in 2014. 

 

Defensive Player of the Week: Eric Kendricks, LB, UCLA

 

Kendricks and the UCLA defense helped the Bruins continue their recent dominance over rival USC with a 38-20 victory on Saturday night. Kendricks led the defense with 14 tackles (one for a loss) and recorded a critical interception in the first half. The Trojans were driving in UCLA territory hoping to retake the lead before halftime, but Kendricks made a one-handed interception near the sideline. The Bruins would score on the next possession, giving coach Jim Mora’s team a 24-14 lead at halftime and the momentum going into the second half. UCLA’s defense held USC’s offense to just 276 total yards (4.1 yards per play) and did not allow a score in the second half until the outcome was no longer in doubt.

 

Coordinator of the Week: Robb Smith, Arkansas

 

The Razorbacks continued their turnaround under second-year coach Bret Bielema by pitching a 30-0 shutout over Ole Miss. The win over the Rebels clinched a bowl bid for Arkansas, and Bielema’s offseason hire of Smith has paid major dividends for the defense. The Razorbacks have recorded back-to-back shutouts for the first time since 2002 and have not allowed an opponent to score more than 17 points in four consecutive games. Smith’s defense held Ole Miss to 316 total yards (4.5 yards per play), forced six turnovers, generated two sacks and five tackles for a loss. The shutout against the Rebels took place one week after Arkansas snapped a 17-game SEC losing streak with a 17-0 victory over LSU. The Razorbacks have earned back-to-back shutouts in SEC play for the first time in school history.

 

Freshman of the Week: Nick Wilson, RB, Arizona

 

Since Oklahoma freshman Samaje Perine earned national player of the week honors from Saturday’s action, let’s spread the wealth and highlight Wilson’s performance against Utah. The Utes entered Week 13 as one of the stingiest defenses in the Pac-12 by holding opponents to 3.9 yards per rush. And prior to Week 13, Utah allowed just four scores on the ground in conference play. But the Utes were unable to find an answer for Wilson on Saturday, as the true freshman gashed the defense for 218 yards and three scores. Wilson averaged 10.9 yards per rush and scored on a 75-yard run early in the fourth quarter. The freshman’s performance was noteworthy considering quarterback Anu Solomon missed time due to an injury, and the Wildcats needed a win to stay alive in the Pac-12 South title picture. Wilson’s 218 rushing yards were the most in Arizona history by a freshman.

Teaser:
Oklahoma's Samaje Perine is Athlon Sports' Week 13 Player of the Week
Post date: Sunday, November 23, 2014 - 08:30
All taxonomy terms: ACC, College Football, Virginia Cavaliers, News
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Virginia receiver Canaan Severin may have grabbed the catch of the year in the ACC during Saturday’s game against Miami.

 

Severin made a one-handed catch for a score in the second quarter, which gave the Cavaliers a 10-7 lead.

Check out Severin’s catch, which came just as a Miami defender was poised to make a play on the ball for an interception:

 

 

Teaser:
Virginia WR Canaan Severin Makes Nifty One-Handed TD Catch Against Miami
Post date: Saturday, November 22, 2014 - 20:21
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Oregon Ducks, Pac 12, News
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Body:

Oregon cruised to an easy win over Colorado in what could be the final home game for quarterback Marcus Mariota.

The Ducks didn’t need much help to beat the overmatched Buffaloes, but receiver Darren Carrington made one of the catches of the year in the Pac-12 with this reception off a deflection.

Check out Carrington’s reception:

 

Teaser:
Oregon WR Darren Carrington Makes Catch Against Colorado on Crazy Deflection
Post date: Saturday, November 22, 2014 - 20:09
Path: /college-football/michigan-state-ol-connor-kruse-records-rushing-attempt-against-rutgers
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A play in Saturday’s Michigan State-Rutgers game was truly a dream for an offensive lineman.

 

Connor Kruse is a former walk-on and a senior contributor for the Spartans. And in Saturday’s easy win over the Scarlet Knights, Kruse had the chance to record a rushing attempt on an end-around in the fourth quarter.

Yes, that’s correct: An offensive lineman had a chance to run the ball.

It’s the year of offensive linemen and offensive plays. Remember Arkansas’ Sebastian Tretola touchdown pass against UAB? Kruse’s rush wasn’t a huge success, but it’s an opportunity for the big lineman to get a chance to shine on Senior Day.

Teaser:
Michigan State OL Connor Kruse Records Rushing Attempt Against Rutgers
Post date: Saturday, November 22, 2014 - 16:19
Path: /college-football/usc-trojans-vs-ucla-bruins-game-preview-and-prediction-2014
Body:

The annual battle for bragging rights in Los Angeles resumes on Saturday night when USC visits the Rose Bowl to take on UCLA. In addition to the intra-city rivalry, positioning within the Pac-12 South is up for grabs. Both teams still have South Division title hopes and are part of a four-team group at the top of the division with two losses.

 

Since a two-game losing streak in early October, UCLA has rebounded with four consecutive victories. The Bruins won two of those games by three points or less (California and Colorado) but dominated Arizona (17-7) and won at Washington (44-30). UCLA was pegged by some as a potential playoff team at the start of the year, and while it’s a longshot the Bruins reach that level, coach Jim Mora’s team has played better in recent weeks and has a realistic shot to finish 10-2 with an appearance in the Pac-12 title game.

 

USC has experienced its share of inconsistencies this year, losing by six points to Boston College, by four to Arizona State on a last-second Hail Mary and a 24-21 defeat at Utah. However, coach Steve Sarkisian’s team defeated Arizona 28-26 in mid-October and has scored at least 38 points in three out of its last four games. Depth is still an issue for the Trojans. However, this roster has a talented starting 22 and would be a tough out for Oregon in the Pac-12 Championship (if these two teams meet in early December).

 

USC owns a 46-30-7 series edge over UCLA. The Bruins have won two in a row over the Trojans, including a 35-14 blowout victory at USC last season. However, the Trojans won five straight in this series from 2007-11.

 

USC at UCLA

 

Kickoff: 8 p.m. ET (Saturday)

TV Channel: ABC

Spread: UCLA -4

 

UCLA’s Key to Victory: Limit Big Plays in USC’s Passing Game

 

Considering the offensive firepower in the Pac-12, it’s easy to overlook what USC has done this year. Sarkisian has continued to push the right buttons in quarterback Cody Kessler’s development, as the junior has passed for 2,919 yards and 29 scores this season. Additionally, Kessler has tossed only three picks and is completing 70.2 percent of his passes. The Trojans have connected on 16 passing plays of 30 yards or more, with receiver Nelson Agholor catching five of those throws. Agholor has back-to-back games of at least 200 receiving yards and has at least 100 yards in four consecutive matchups. The junior isn’t the only option for Kessler, as freshman JuJu Smith and junior George Farmer are also viable targets. Running back Buck Allen was held under 100 yards against California, but he recorded six 100-yard efforts in a row prior to last Thursday. UCLA’s secondary will have its hands full trying to stop Agholor on Saturday night, especially with a pass rush that has generated just 13 sacks in Pac-12 contests. The Bruins have allowed only 12 passing scores in seven Pac-12 games this year. If UCLA can’t get to Kessler, its secondary is going to have trouble containing Agholor and the passing attack for all four quarters. But even if Kessler throws for 300 yards, the Bruins have to limit the overall damage and prevent any big plays.

 

USC’s Key to Victory: Keep QB Brett Hundley in the Pocket

 

It’s no coincidence UCLA’s recent uptick on offense has been paired with quarterback Brett Hundley’s surge in rushing yardage. Hundley recorded only 122 yards on the ground through the first five games but has 442 yards over the last five contests. Hundley rushed for 131 in a huge win over Arizona, while the junior added 110 on 12 attempts in an overtime victory at Colorado. Hundley’s ability to make plays with his legs is critical with a young offensive line still developing in 2014. The Bruins have allowed 30 sacks this year, but this unit has played better in recent weeks, allowing only six sacks on Hundley since Oct. 18. USC will challenge the UCLA offensive line, as the Trojans have recorded at least two sacks in seven consecutive games. End Leonard Williams is among the nation’s best defenders and has forced three fumbles in 10 contests. USC's defensive line should have an edge over UCLA's offensive line, which is where Hundley's mobility could come into play. However, the Trojans need to keep him in the pocket to limit his rushing yards and chances at making plays when things break down around the line of scrimmage. If USC wins the battle at the point of attack, UCLA's offense is going to have a hard time scoring points on Saturday night. 

 

Final Analysis

 

This is a tough game to get a read on in terms of a prediction. UCLA seems to have turned a corner in recent weeks, while USC has had trouble finishing games. Statistically, both defenses are fairly even. UCLA limits opponents to 5.19 yards per play, while USC holds offenses to a 5.15 per-play average. The Trojans are better in terms of points allowed, limiting opponents to 22.9 each contest, while the Bruins allow 29.6 per game. USC has had more success at forcing turnovers and getting to the quarterback, which are two areas of focus for Sarkisian’s team on Saturday night. UCLA has won two in a row in this series and can make it three if it protects quarterback Brett Hundley and allows him to make plays on the ground, while the defense has to find a way to slow down quarterback Cody Kessler and receiver Nelson Agholor. As we mentioned above, this one is a coin flip. And perhaps home-field advantage is worth a point or two in UCLA’s favor.  

 

Prediction: UCLA 31, USC 30
Teaser:
USC Trojans vs. UCLA Bruins Game Preview and Prediction 2014
Post date: Friday, November 21, 2014 - 10:30
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The SEC is light on must-see games for Week 13, but the Missouri-Tennessee matchup in Knoxville has plenty of intrigue and importance in the overall league picture. The Tigers need two victories to claim the East Division once again, while the Volunteers need one more win to get bowl eligible in coach Butch Jones’ second year.


Both teams have been playing at their best over the last few weeks. Missouri has a four-game winning streak, which started after a 34-0 loss to Georgia on Oct. 11. The Tigers won at Texas A&M last Saturday and have allowed more than 14 points only once during this four-game streak. Tennessee has a two-game winning streak, but Jones’ team has been playing better since the insertion of sophomore Joshua Dobbs into the lineup. The Volunteers knocked off South Carolina in overtime (45-42) on Nov. 1 and then defeated Kentucky in commanding fashion (50-16) in Knoxville last Saturday.

Standout Tennessee linebacker A.J. Johnson and defensive back Michael Williams are not expected to play due to an suspension resulting from an off-field incident. Johnson is one of the top defenders in the SEC and is the team’s top tackler (101).

 

These two teams have only played twice in previous years. Missouri owns a 2-0 edge over Tennessee, winning 31-3 last year and 51-48 in 2012.

 

Missouri-Tennessee is the Talk Back game of the week. Visit att.com/TalkBack to watch the game with former Missouri receiver Justin Gage and former Tennessee receiver Joey Kent. Hop in and ask a question.

 

Missouri at Tennessee

 

Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET (Saturday)

TV Channel: ESPN

Spread: Tennessee -3.5

 

Missouri’s Key to Victory: Balance on Offense


Missouri quarterback Maty Mauk was pegged by some as a potential All-SEC candidate in 2014. The sophomore has experienced his share of ups and downs this year but has 19 touchdowns to 10 interceptions and is coming off his best performance (252 yards, 57.5%) in a SEC game this year. Five of Mauk’s 10 interceptions have come in losses, so it’s critical the sophomore limits his mistakes against a Tennessee defense that’s forced 19 turnovers through 10 games. In last week’s victory against Texas A&M, Missouri posted a season high of 587 total yards on offense and averaged 6.6 yards per play. The Tigers were balanced in their offensive approach, with running back Russell Hansbrough nearly eclipsing the 200-yard plateau (199). Mauk is still developing in his first year under center and should have an infusion of confidence after a good showing against the Aggies last Saturday. Tennessee’s secondary has allowed only eight passing scores in six conference games this year and opposing quarterbacks are completing just 53.5 percent of their throws (SEC-only games). The Volunteers have struggled to stop the run in conference action (191.7 ypg), and that’s a matchup Missouri should look to exploit after Hansbrough’s game against Texas A&M. In a tough road environment, it’s not easy to ask Mauk to shoulder all of the offensive load. That’s why the Tigers need to establish balance and let Hansbrough have his share of touches against a struggling run defense.

 

Tennessee’s Key to Victory: Protect QB Joshua Dobbs

 

Sophomore Joshua Dobbs has been on fire since ditching his redshirt against Alabama. He finished 19 of 32 for 192 yards and two scores against the Crimson Tide and threw for 301 yards and two touchdowns, while rushing for 166 yards and three scores against South Carolina. In last week’s 50-16 win over Kentucky, Dobbs added 48 yards on the ground and completed 19 of 27 passes for 297 yards and three scores. The sophomore has clearly progressed as a quarterback since the end of 2013, but Missouri’s defense should provide a stiff test on Saturday night. The Tigers are tied with Alabama in SEC games by holding opponents to just 4.2 yards per play – the best mark in the SEC. Led by defensive ends Shane Ray and Markus Golden, the Tigers rank second with 32 sacks in 10 games. With an active pass rush, the secondary doesn’t have to cover for long, but this unit will have talented sophomore Aarion Penton back in the lineup after a one-game suspension due to an off-field incident. Tennessee’s offensive line is the biggest weakness on an offense that is filled with talent at running back and receiver, along with an emerging star at quarterback. Missouri’s pass rush will look to keep Dobbs in the pocket and not allow the sophomore to make plays with his legs on the outside. Will the Tigers get to Dobbs? Or can the sophomore escape the rush and continue his hot play of recent weeks?

 

Final Analysis

 

Just how light is the slate in the SEC this Saturday? Only three games feature matchups between two conference opponents. The rest are one-sided non-conference affairs. That’s why the spotlight in the SEC should be on this game. Tennessee and Missouri seem to be playing their best ball of the season at the right time, and there’s plenty at stake. The Tigers seem to be finding the right mix on offense, and their pass rush should find a way to get to Tennessee quarterback Joshua Dobbs. It’s tough to pick a winner considering how well the Volunteers have played over the last few weeks, but Missouri has the edge on defense and seems to be finding the right answers on offense. Expect a close game, with the Tigers winning late in the fourth quarter.

 

Prediction: Missouri 27, Tennessee 24  
Teaser:
Missouri Tigers vs. Tennessee Volunteers Game Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, November 21, 2014 - 10:00
Path: /college-football/notre-dame-fighting-irish-vs-louisville-cardinals-game-preview-and-prediction
Body:

Louisville and Notre Dame both enter Week 13 at 7-3, and each program still has plenty left at stake despite sporting a three-loss resume. The Orange Bowl is a possibility for both programs, with the Cardinals having a better shot at a trip to Miami than the Fighting Irish. In order for Louisville to reach the Orange Bowl, coach Bobby Petrino’s team needs to win out and have Georgia Tech lose its finale against Georgia. There are a couple of other dominoes that needs to fall, but a 9-3 Louisville team could be the ACC’s highest-ranked team outside of Florida State.

Notre Dame has lost two in a row and three out of its last four matchups. Offense certainly hasn’t been a problem for the Fighting Irish during that span, as coach Brian Kelly’s team has scored at least 31 points in four out of the last five games. However, turnovers and a struggling defense have been problematic for the Fighting Irish. Louisville lost to Florida State 42-31 on Oct. 30, but the Cardinals rebounded by defeating Boston College 38-19 on Nov. 8.

 

This will be the first meeting between Louisville and Notre Dame.

 

Louisville at Notre Dame

 

Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. ET (Saturday)

TV Channel: NBC
Spread: Notre Dame -3

 

Louisville’s Key to Victory: Get the Ball to DeVante Parker and Michael Dyer

 

Both teams enter this matchup with some uncertainty under center. Louisville lost quarterback Will Gardner to a season-ending knee injury against Boston College, which elevates true freshman Reggie Bonnafon into the starting lineup. Bonnafon already has three starts under his belt this year and has completed 51 of 92 passes for 662 yards and four scores. The true freshman also has 138 yards and three touchdowns on the ground. Bonnafon should see plenty of opportunities to exploit a Notre Dame defense that has struggled in recent weeks. The Fighting Irish did not allow an opponent to score more than 17 points in each of their first five games. However, Notre Dame’s defense has allowed its last five opponents to average at least 5.6 yards per play, and this unit allowed 40 in a loss to Northwestern, 55 in a loss to Arizona State and 39 in a victory over Navy. While Bonnafon’s performance in a road tough environment will be under the spotlight, his supporting cast should chip in plenty of help. Running back Michael Dyer faces a rush defense allowing 150.6 yards per game. Receiver DeVante Parker has recorded 490 receiving yards since returning from a foot injury against NC State. Petrino and coordinator Garrick McGee can ease Bonnafon into this game with a heavy dose of Dyer and play-action passes downfield to Parker. And keep an eye on Bonnafon’s mobility. The true freshman’s mobility could be an underrated part of Louisville’s offense on Saturday.

 

Notre Dame’s Key to Victory: Limit the Turnovers

 

The Fighting Irish’s outlook on Saturday could be as simple as winning the turnover battle. Coach Brian Kelly’s team has recorded a negative turnover margin in four out of the last seven games, including a -4 mark against Arizona State. Notre Dame also had a costly fumble in the final minutes against Northwestern last Saturday. Quarterback Everett Golson is dealing with a sprained shoulder but is expected to play. Golson is to blame for some of the Fighting Irish’s problems with turnovers, as the junior has tossed 12 picks in 2014. The rash of turnovers this season has to be a major concern for Kelly against Louisville’s defense, which leads the ACC with 25 takeaways this year. Safety Gerod Holliman has intercepted 13 passes in 10 games and has been one of the nation’s top defenders through the first 12 weeks of the year. Golson has an array of options at receiver to choose from, including William Fuller (61 receptions, 13 TDs), Corey Robinson (13.7 ypc, 34 rec.) and running back Tarean Folston (5.1 ypc, 668 yards) is also capable of churning out 100 yards on the ground. Louisville should have linebacker/defensive end Lorenzo Mauldin back on the field after the standout senior missed the victory over Boston College due to a hamstring injury, which is a boost to the defense’s pass rush and overall depth in the front seven. Notre Dame’s offense is one of the best Louisville has played this year, and if Golson can limit his mistakes, the Fighting Irish should be able to move the ball on a unit that limits opponents to just 4.4 yards per play.

 

Final Analysis

 

Week 13 is full of matchups that are difficult to evaluate. With rivalry games coming in Week 14, teams may be looking ahead to next week, and there are a lot of even matchups on the schedule. The Louisville-Notre Dame meeting in South Bend fits that mold. These two teams are fairly even, and there’s uncertainty for both offenses with the quarterback position. If the Cardinals continue to force turnovers and Bonnafon doesn’t many any big mistakes, Louisville has a good shot to leave South Bend with a victory. Golson's health is a major concern for coach Brian Kelly, but Notre Dame's biggest issue remains turnovers. Will the Fighting Irish avoid a loss due to its own mistakes? The guess here is Notre Dame bounces back after disappointing loss to Northwestern and edges the Cardinals for a 27-24 victory.

 

Prediction: Notre Dame 27, Louisville 24
Teaser:
Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. Louisville Cardinals Game Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, November 21, 2014 - 09:30
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Arkansas and Ole Miss each have two regular season games remaining, and there’s plenty at stake for both programs. The Rebels still have faint SEC West title hopes if they win their last two games and Auburn defeats Alabama in the Iron Bowl. The Razorbacks finally earned a win in SEC play under second-year coach Bret Bielema with a 17-0 victory over LSU last Saturday. Arkansas needs one more victory to get bowl eligible and has two winnable games left on the schedule.

 

Ole Miss is coming off a bye week after an easy 48-0 win over Presbyterian. Prior to the victory over the Blue Hose, the Rebels played six consecutive games against tough competition, including matchups against LSU (in Baton Rouge), Auburn, Alabama and Texas A&M. Arkansas’ win over LSU last week came after a timely bye on Nov. 8.

 

Ole Miss owns a 31-28-1 series edge against Arkansas. The Rebels have won the last two meetings against the Razorbacks. The previous four matchups between these two teams have been relatively close, including a three-point victory by Ole Miss in 2012 and a five-point win by Arkansas in 2011.

 

Ole Miss at Arkansas

 

Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: CBS

Spread: Ole Miss -3.5

 

Arkansas’ Key to Victory: Win the Turnover Battle

 

Ole Miss ranks second in the SEC with a +13 turnover margin. The Rebels are +10 in SEC-only games, but coach Hugh Freeze’s team was -1 against Auburn. There are few glaring holes in the Ole Miss roster, and with Arkansas still developing its passing offense, coach Bret Bielema’s team will need a few breaks. The Razorbacks are even in turnover margin this year but has forced only 14 in 10 games. The defense needs to force at least two turnovers to win on Saturday, especially if they can put the offense in position to take advantage of short fields for scores. There’s a small margin for error for Arkansas on Saturday. The Razorbacks will be able to hit a few big plays on the ground, but can their passing attack deliver? And when Ole Miss has the ball, can the defense force quarterback Bo Wallace into a few mistakes?

 

Ole Miss’ Key to Victory: Stop the Run


Arkansas has been better with its passing attack in 2014 than it was last year. However, make no mistake: This offense is still a run-first group behind a massive offensive line and running backs Jonathan Williams and Alex Collins. The Razorbacks rank fourth in the SEC with 232.9 rushing yards per game, but that number dips to 151.8 per contest in SEC-only matchups. Collins and Williams could find running room limited against an Ole Miss defense that has limited SEC opponents to 140.2 yards per game in 2014. The Rebels have also limited conference opponents to five rushing scores in six games. The late bye week should help the Ole Miss defense, which was banged up through the brutal midseason SEC schedule. Arkansas quarterback Brandon Allen may need to throw early (and have success) to prevent the Rebels from stacking too many defenders in the box. Allen has tossed only five interceptions this year and has raised his completion percentage from 49.6 (2013) to 58 percent. The junior has made strides as a passer, but Arkansas still needs to develop more options at receiver. Expect Ole Miss to gameplan to put Allen in several third-and-long situations.

 

Final Analysis

 

There’s no doubt Arkansas is trending in the right direction. And the Razorbacks are hungry to get to a bowl, which makes Saturday’s matchup a dangerous one for an Ole Miss team that’s still alive in the West Division. The Rebels also have to be cautious about a lookahead factor. With a huge game against Mississippi State next week, Ole Miss can’t afford to look past an improving Arkansas team. Despite the Razorbacks picking up a win in SEC play last week, the Rebels are the better team and will find a way to win and keep their title hopes alive.

 

Prediction: Ole Miss 27, Arkansas 20
Teaser:
Arkansas Razorbacks vs. Ole Miss Rebels Game Preview and Prediction 2014
Post date: Friday, November 21, 2014 - 09:10
Path: /college-football/nebraska-cornhuskers-vs-minnesota-golden-gophers-game-preview-and-prediction-2014
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Nebraska and Minnesota head into Week 13 needing a victory to keep their Big Ten West Division title hopes alive. The Cornhuskers lost to Wisconsin 59-24 in a record-setting performance by running back Melvin Gordon, while the Golden Gophers fell short in their upset bid over Ohio State (31-24).

 

At 5-1 in conference play, Wisconsin is the clear favorite in the West Division. However, the Cornhuskers and Golden Gophers aren’t out of the title mix, but a win is a necessity on Saturday to keep alive in the West.

 

Minnesota owns a 30-22-2 series edge over Nebraska. The Golden Gophers won last year’s meeting in Minneapolis by 11 (34-23). Although Minnesota owns an edge in the overall series, Nebraska is 2-1 against the Golden Gophers since joining the Big Ten.

 

Minnesota at Nebraska

 

Kickoff: Noon ET (Saturday)

TV Channel: ESPN

Spread: Nebraska -10

 

Minnesota’s Key to Victory: The Passing Game – Offense and Defense
 

In Minnesota’s three losses this year, quarterback Mitch Leidner is 31 of 75 for 476 yards. He’s also tossed six interceptions in defeats and only one score. For the Golden Gophers to win in Lincoln, Leidner needs to be more efficient and do a better job of limiting his mistakes. Nebraska will stack the box to prevent running back David Cobb from having a huge day, which leaves Leidner with some one-on-one matchups on the outside that he can exploit. In addition to Leidner, Minnesota’s pass defense will be critical on Saturday. The Golden Gophers’ secondary has intercepted 13 passes this year (tied for third in the Big Ten) and is playing against a quarterback (Tommy Armstrong) that has tossed seven picks in Big Ten games. Limiting running back Ameer Abdullah on the ground, forcing Armstrong to throw and then making a play or two for turnovers would significantly help the Minnesota upset odds.

 

Nebraska’s Key to Victory: Stop the Run

Nebraska’s No. 1 priority on Saturday is to fix the issues that allowed Wisconsin to rush for 581 yards on 53 attempts last week. Was the performance against the Badgers a one-week speed bump or a sign of things to come? Prior to last week’s game, the Cornhuskers allowed two Big Ten opponents to rush for at least 143 yards but limited rushers to 3.7 yards per carry for the season. But after playing Wisconsin, Nebraska’s season total ranks 11th (conference-only games) against the run. Minnesota’s David Cobb isn’t on the Heisman radar like Melvin Gordon, but the senior is capable of recording 150-175 yards. In 10 games this year, Cobb has 1,350 yards on 254 attempts. The senior has rushed for at least 118 yards in each of his last three games, including 194 yards against Purdue and 145 against Ohio State.

 

Final Analysis

 

These two teams are very similar in terms of style and on the stat sheet this year. Both teams prefer to establish their ground attacks, with All-Big Ten running backs leading the way. Nebraska’s Ameer Abdullah has only 70 yards in his last two games, but he should eclipse the 100-yard mark against a Minnesota defense allowing 4.9 yards per carry in conference play. After Melvin Gordon gashed Nebraska last Saturday, the Cornhuskers should be motivated to stop Minnesota’s David Cobb – or Cobb could have a huge effort against a defense struggling with confidence right now. Even though these two teams are similar, the edge in talent goes to Nebraska. And it certainly doesn’t hurt the Cornhuskers have more of a threat in the passing attack and will be at home on Saturday.

 

Prediction: Nebraska 31, Minnesota 20
Teaser:
Nebraska Cornhuskers vs. Minnesota Golden Gophers Game Preview and Prediction 2014
Post date: Friday, November 21, 2014 - 08:30
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Florida State clinched the Atlantic Division title last Saturday, and there’s a possibility for clarity in the Coastal depending on what happens on Thursday night in Durham. If Duke beats North Carolina, the Blue Devils need to win their regular season finale to claim the division title. But if Duke loses to the Tar Heels, Georgia Tech would clinch a spot in the championship game.

North Carolina-Duke is the game with the most impact on the conference standings this week in the ACC, but Notre Dame-Louisville should be most intriguing matchup to watch. The Fighting Irish has struggled in recent weeks, while the Cardinals are hoping to win out and have a shot at the Orange Bowl.

Outside of those two games, it’s a light slate of action in the ACC. Florida State hopes to earn a few style points against Boston College, Miami travels to Virginia, Pittsburgh needs a win over Syracuse to keep its bowl hopes alive, while Clemson should have an easy win over Georgia State.

 

Week 13 Previews and Predictions:

Big 12Big TenPac-12SEC

 

ACC Week 13 Game Power Rankings

 

1. Louisville at Notre Dame (-3.5)
3:30 p.m. ET, NBC
 

The ACC’s top game in Week 13 is a non-conference tilt in South Bend between Louisville and Notre Dame. The Cardinals have completed their conference schedule and need wins in their final two games to have a shot at a berth in the Orange Bowl. Notre Dame is reeling after losses in three out of its last four games. The Fighting Irish has struggled with turnovers by losing nine over their last two contests. In addition to the turnover problems, Notre Dame’s defense has struggled since a 6-0 start. The Fighting Irish has allowed at least 31 points in four consecutive games. Both teams are dealing with some uncertainty at quarterback in this matchup. Notre Dame’s Everett Golson is dealing with a sprained shoulder, while Louisville lost starter Will Gardner to a season-ending knee injury against Boston College. Reggie Bonnafon will replace Gardner in the starting lineup, and the true freshman has completed 51 of 92 passes for 662 yards and four scores this year. Bonnafon’s previous experience this season, along with a bye week should help him prepare for this road test in South Bend. And Bonnafon’s job has been made easier with the return of standout receiver DeVante Parker, and Louisville’s defense is holding opponents to just 17.8 points per game. This will be the first meeting between these two programs.

 

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2. North Carolina at Duke (-6)
7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN (Thursday)


Duke’s Coastal Division title hopes took a hit by losing to Virginia Tech last Saturday. However, coach David Cutcliffe’s team still controls its destiny within the division and can clinch a repeat trip to the ACC Championship to Charlotte by winning its last two games. This in-state rivalry has been controlled by the Tar Heels, but the Blue Devils have won the last two in this series. Turnovers will be critical to both teams on Thursday night, as Duke lost only six prior to Week 12 and surrendered three against Virginia Tech. The Blue Devils struggle to stop the run (197.6 ypg allowed), but North Carolina ranks near the bottom of the ACC in rush offense. Quarterback Marquise Williams has recorded at least 300 total yards in four out of the last five games and posted in 327 in last year’s matchup between these two teams. Williams needs to have a big day against Duke’s defense, as the Tar Heels rank at the bottom of the ACC in yards per game allowed (6.5 ypp) and will have trouble containing the Blue Devils’ balanced attack. There’s plenty on the line for both teams on Thursday night. Duke needs to win to take the Coastal, while a victory over the Blue Devils would get North Carolina bowl eligible with a game remaining. And if that's not enough, in-state bragging rights and the Victory Bell are up for grabs between these two rivals.
 

3. Boston College at Florida State (-19)
3:30 p.m. ET, ABC/ESPN2

 

Florida State remained No. 3 in this week’s playoff rankings, and with no ranked opponents remaining (pending what happens in the ACC Championship), style points could matter for coach Jimbo Fisher’s team over the next three weeks. The Seminoles used another second-half rally to defeat Miami 30-26 last Saturday, extending its winning streak to 26 games. Coach Jimbo Fisher’s team certainly has its flaws, but one area this team could improve upon over the next few weeks is turnovers lost. Florida State leads the ACC with 22 lost turnovers in 10 games. On the flipside of that stat is Boston College. The Eagles have lost only 12 turnovers this year and played the Seminoles tough in Chestnut Hill last season. Coach Steve Addazio’s team features a rushing attack that ranks second in the ACC with 264 yards per game, with quarterback Tyler Murphy (1,006 rushing yards) leading the way as the catalyst for the offense. The Eagles’ rushing attack will challenge a Florida State defense that has been vulnerable to run (139.7 ypg), but if Addazio’s team falls behind, can Murphy throw well enough to keep Boston College in the game? The Eagles create a lot of havoc around the line of scrimmage (76 tackles for a loss), and the Seminoles shuffled their offensive line prior to the matchup against Miami to solidify the front five. Freshman Rod Johnson is now the starter at left tackle, while Cameron Erving has shifted from tackle to center. If the Eagles can’t get to quarterback Jameis Winston with pressure, Florida State should be able to take advantage of a secondary that ranks near the bottom of the ACC in pass efficiency defense.
 

4. Miami (-6) at Virginia
7 p.m. ET, ESPN2


Both teams enter Week 13 coming off losses to Florida State. Miami lost 30-26 to the Seminoles last Saturday, while Virginia was defeated 34-20 in Tallahassee on Nov. 8. The Hurricanes were eliminated from Coastal Division title contention last week, but coach Al Golden’s team has a chance to improve its bowl positioning with wins in their last two games. The Cavaliers need to win their last two games to get bowl eligible, which is no easy task with remaining matchups against Miami and Virginia Tech. Miami has lost three of its last four trips to Charlottesville and hopes to reverse that recent trend by relying heavily on running back Duke Johnson (1,343 yards, 10 TDs in 2014) and quarterback Brad Kaaya (2,403 yards, 22 TDs). The Hurricanes average 32.3 points per game, but this offense will be tested by a Virginia defense limiting opponents to five yards per play. The Cavaliers also rank fourth in the ACC against the run and have recorded 27 sacks through 10 contests. Defense is clearly the strength of Virginia, as its offense has not averaged more than 5.3 yards per play in its last three matchups. Miami coach Al Golden worked at Virginia from 1994-96 and 2001-05.
 

5. Syracuse at Pittsburgh (-7.5)
3:30 p.m. ET, ESPNU


If the last two matchups between these two schools are any indication, this year’s game could be another low-scoring affair with a small margin of victory. Syracuse won 14-13 in 2012, but Pittsburgh claimed a close 17-16 win last season. The Panthers have lost six out of their last seven games this year, including a 40-35 thriller at North Carolina last week. While the losses are piling up for coach Paul Chryst, four of Pittsburgh’s defeats have been by five points or less. Running back James Conner (156.2 ypg) continues to have a standout year for the Panthers, and the sophomore will test a Syracuse defense holding opponents to 127.3 rushing yards per game. And the Orange has not allowed a rushing touchdown in four contests. In addition to the strength in the front seven, Syracuse has forced 18 takeaways, which is a concern for a Pittsburgh team that ranks last in the ACC with a -7 turnover margin. Syracuse’s offense is averaging only 14.8 points per game in conference matchups, with injuries significantly hampering the offensive line. Quarterback has been a revolving door this season, and true freshman AJ Long (727 yards, 4 TDs, 6 INTs) is expected to start on Saturday. Pittsburgh needs to win both of its remaining games to reach bowl eligibility, while Syracuse is looking to build momentum after its first losing record since 2011.
 

6. Virginia Tech (-15) at Wake Forest
12:30 p.m. ET, ACC Network/ESPN 3


Offense is expected to be at a premium when Wake Forest and Virginia Tech meet on Saturday for the first time since 2011. The Hokies are averaging 21.3 points per game in ACC contests, while the Demon Deacons rank last in the league at 11.7 per game. Virginia Tech’s win over Duke last week left coach Frank Beamer’s team just one win short of bowl eligibility. The Hokies need to beat Wake Forest or Virginia to extend its bowl streak to 22 consecutive years. Virginia Tech’s offense has been hit hard by injuries this year, and the bad luck continued last Saturday with running back Marshawn Williams suffering a torn ACL against the Blue Devils. With Williams out, J.C. Coleman, Jerome Wright and Joel Caleb will shoulder the workload at running back. The strength of Wake Forest is its defense, and this unit could create a few headaches for quarterback Michael Brewer and the Hokies offense. However, the Demon Deacons have scored more than 17 points only once since Sept. 20. Wake Forest has not defeated Virginia Tech since 1983.
 

7. Georgia State at Clemson (-41)
3:30 p.m. ET, RSN/ESPN3


Coming off last week’s loss to Georgia Tech and a matchup against South Carolina upcoming on Nov. 29, this game against Georgia State comes at a perfect time for coach Dabo Swinney’s team. Quarterback Deshaun Watson suffered a sprained LCL against the Yellow Jackets and will miss this matchup, allowing Cole Stoudt and Nick Schuessler to build confidence against a defense allowing 6.6 yards per play and 43.8 points per game. The Panthers lead the Sun Belt in passing offense behind first-year starter Nick Arbuckle, but coach Trent Miles’ team has lost 24 turnovers and averages just 2.9 yards per rush. Even though Stoudt has struggled in relief of Watson, Clemson shouldn’t have much trouble with Georgia State on Saturday. 

 

Week 13 ACC Predictions

 David
Fox
Braden
Gall
Steven 
Lassan
Mitch
Light
UL (+3.5) at NDUL 31-21UL 30-24ND 27-24ND 27-20
UNC (+6) at DukeDuke 35-21Duke 38-34Duke 34-31UNC 28-24
BC (+19) at FSUFSU 38-28FSU 41-21FSU 38-20FSU 34-20
Miami (-6) at UVaUVa 21-17Miami 30-20Miami 31-20Miami 40-17
Syracuse (+7.5) at PittPitt 28-21Pitt 29-21Pitt 30-20Pitt 28-21
Va. Tech (-15) at WakeVT 35-7VT 40-13VT 31-10VT 17-3
Georgia State (+41) at ClemsonCU 49-10CU 41-3CU 52-7CU 55-10
Last Week:4-13-22-33-2
Season Record:73-2373-2375-2071-25

 

Teaser:
ACC 2014 Week 13 Preview and Predictions
Post date: Thursday, November 20, 2014 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-post-week-12-playoff-projection
Body:

College football’s playoff committee has released three sets of rankings, and the debate about the top four teams will continue every week until the final matchups are released. While the top 25 rankings are expected to change each week and will look drastically different from the release of the first poll to the last one, the playoff committee's poll provided some insight into the process.

 

Each week, Athlon Sports hopes to replicate the playoff committee’s work by asking some of college football’s top media members to vote on their top eight teams. This poll will attempt to project how the playoff picture stacks up after each week until the end of the year.

 

Expert Panel

 

Bobby Bowden (@TheBobbyBowden), Legends Poll
Gene Stallings, (@LegendsPoll), Legends Poll
Don Nehlen (@LegendsPoll), Legends Poll
Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven), Athlon Sports
Braden Gall (@BradenGall), Athlon Sports
Zac Ellis (@ZacEllis), Sports Illustrated
David Fox (@DavidFox615), Athlon Sports
Mark Ennis (@MarkEnnis), CardChronicle.com
Teddy Mitrosilis (@TMitrosilis), Fox Sports

Steven Godfrey (@38Godfrey), SBNation.com
Matt Brown (@MattBrownCFB), SportsonEarth.com
Rich Cirminiello (@RichCirminiello), Campus Insiders
Brad Crawford (@BCrawfordSDS), SaturdayDownSouth.com
Allen Kenney (@BlatantHomerism), BlatantHomerism.com
Chris Anderson (@CMAnderson247), Eersports.com
Kyle Kensing (@kensing45), CFBHuddle.com
Adam Powell (@ACCSports), ACCSports.com
Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch) Athlon Sports
Josh Ward (@Josh_Ward), MrSEC.com
Kevin McGuire (@KevinonCFB), CollegeFootballTalk.com
Mark Ross (@AthlonMarkR), Athlon Sports


Post-Week 12 Playoff Projection

RankTeam 12345678Total
1Alabama137100000159
2Florida State79500000149
3Oregon151320000131
4Mississippi State00211421192
5TBaylor0003945073
5TTCU0004674073
7Ohio State00012710054
8Ole Miss00000011113
9Georgia0000010710
10TUCLA000000001
10TMichigan State000000001

Takeaways From Expert Poll Results

 

* After a seven-week departure from No. 1 in the playoff committee projection, Alabama is back at the top of this week’s ranking. The Crimson Tide received 13 of the 21 first-place votes.

* Florida State trails Alabama by just 10 points in this week’s poll. The Seminoles received seven first-place votes.

* Oregon was a clear No. 3 in this week’s voting, but No. 4 is where the intrigue starts. Despite a loss to Alabama last Saturday, Mississippi State remained in the playoff picture at No. 4. But Baylor and TCU tied for No. 5 at 73 points, and Ohio State is a distant seventh at 54 points. Needless to say, the Buckeyes are going to need a lot of help to reach the top four (if this vote mirrors the committee's rankings).

* Ole Miss is the highest two-loss team in the rankings, but Georgia ranks one spot behind the Rebels in this week’s poll. If the Bulldogs defeat Georgia Tech and win the SEC East, would a win in the conference championship vault this team into consideration among the top four?

* Arizona State and Auburn dropped out of this week’s committee vote after losses in Week 12.

 

Group of 5 Rankings


1. Marshall
Record:
10-0
Remaining Games: at UAB (Nov. 22), Western Kentucky (Nov. 28)

The Thundering Herd got revenge for last year’s 41-24 loss to Rice in the Conference USA Championship by defeating the Owls 41-14 on Saturday. Marshall has defeated all 10 of its opponents by at least 15 points this year. Coach Doc Holliday’s team may not have a marquee win, but the Thundering Herd is dominating their competition.


2. Boise State
Record:
8-2
Remaining Games: at Wyoming (Nov. 22), Utah State (Nov. 29)


Boise State rallied from a 20-0 deficit to win 38-29 and end a two-game losing streak over San Diego State. Unless Colorado State loses one of its last two games, the Broncos still need two wins to clinch the Mountain Division title. Boise State has an edge over Marshall in strength of schedule, but coach Bryan Harsin’s team has two losses. How will the committee weigh competition versus an unbeaten with a weak strength of schedule?


3. Colorado State
Record: 9-1
Remaining Games: New Mexico (Nov. 22), at Air Force (Nov. 28)


The Rams had a timely bye on Saturday, which should help quarterback Garrett Grayson and receiver Rashard Higgins return to full strength after injuries limited both players in previous weeks. Colorado State has a better record and ranks ahead of Boise State in the Associated Press Top 25 poll. However, the Rams need a loss by the Broncos in their next two games to have a shot at the Group of 5 bowl spot.


4. Memphis
Record:
7-3
Remaining Games: USF (Nov. 22), UConn (Nov. 29)


There’s a three-way tie atop the American Athletic Conference, and Memphis has the easiest path to the league title. The Tigers, Cincinnati and UCF each have one defeat in conference play, and Memphis has remaining matchups against USF and UConn. UCF has to play at USF and East Carolina, while Cincinnati has trips to UConn and Temple and a home date against Houston upcoming. The Tigers have won four in a row, and coach Justin Fuente’s team owns the head-to-head tiebreaker over Cincinnati.


5. Cincinnati

Record: 6-3

Remaining Games: at UConn (Nov. 22), at Temple (Nov. 29), Houston (Dec. 6)


The Bearcats remained in the mix for the Group of 5 bowl spot with a huge 54-46 win over East Carolina on Thursday night. Cincinnati has four wins in a row and is one of three teams (Memphis and UCF are the other two) tied at the top of the American Athletic Conference with one loss in league play.

 

6. Northern Illinois
Record:
8-2
Remaining Games: at Ohio (Nov. 18), at Western Michigan (Nov. 28)

No Jordan Lynch? No problem for Northern Illinois. The Huskies are the favorite to win the MAC West behind a rushing attack that’s averaging 261.7 yards per game. Northern Illinois may not be as strong as it was last year, but coach Rod Carey’s team can work its way in the mix to earn the Group of 5 spot as a conference champ.


Games With Playoff/Bowl Implications in Week 13

 

Kansas State at West Virginia
7 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1 (Thursday)


The Wildcats are still alive for the Big 12 title with a trip to Baylor ahead on Dec. 6. However, a Thursday night matchup in Morgantown won’t be easy. West Virginia quarterback Clint Trickett and receiver Kevin White will test a K-State pass defense that has allowed just eight passing scores in Big 12 play.

North Carolina at Duke
7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN (Thursday)


Despite last week’s loss to Virginia Tech, Duke still controls its destiny in the Coastal Division. The Tar Heels need one more win to get bowl eligible.

Minnesota at Nebraska
Noon ET, ESPN


After getting torched by Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon, Nebraska’s rush defense has to regroup with a matchup against Minnesota’s David Cobb. The winner of this game keeps pace with the Badgers in the Big Ten’s West Division.

Boston College at Florida State
3:30 p.m. ET, ABC/ESPN2


The Eagles should be rested after a bye, while the Seminoles have to avoid a letdown after a comeback victory at Miami and a lookahead game to rival Florida. Boston College’s 14-point defeat to Florida State last year was the closest game against the Seminoles prior to the BCS title matchup against Auburn. 

Ole Miss at Arkansas
3:30 p.m. ET, CBS


Ole Miss still has a chance to win the SEC West, but it needs a little help from Auburn against Alabama in two weeks. Arkansas is coming off its first SEC win under coach Bret Bielema and needs a victory to reach bowl eligibility. Is this a lookahead spot for Ole Miss with the Egg Bowl next week?

Arizona at Utah
3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN


This matchup in Salt Lake City features one of the Pac-12’s top offenses (Arizona) against one of the league’s top defenses (Utah). The Utes’ aggressive defense (47 sacks) should be a handful for quarterback Anu Solomon, who has tossed just two interceptions in four road games this year.

Louisville at Notre Dame
3:30 p.m. ET, NBC


The Fighting Irish has lost three out of its last four games and is no longer in position to earn a spot in one of the top bowl games. Louisville quarterback Will Gardner is out for the rest of the year, but true freshman Reggie Bonnafon has played well in limited action (51 of 92 for 662 yards and four scores). Bonnafon’s job is made easier with the return of receiver DeVante Parker, who has recorded three consecutive 100-yard efforts since returning from a foot injury.

Wisconsin at Iowa
3:30 p.m. ET, ABC/ESPN2


Can the Hawkeyes find an answer for Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon? Iowa still has West Division title aspirations but needs to win its final two games and have Minnesota lose to Wisconsin or Nebraska.

Missouri at Tennessee
7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN


Missouri still controls its destiny in the SEC East, and the Tigers will clinch a spot in Atlanta if they win their last two games. However, that’s not an easy task, as coach Gary Pinkel’s team heads to Knoxville to play an improving Tennessee squad this week, followed by a matchup against Arkansas next Friday.

USC at UCLA
8 p.m. ET, ABC


Will UCLA continue its recent edge in this series? The Bruins have won two in a row over the Trojans, including a 35-14 blowout in the Los Angeles Coliseum last year. UCLA controls its destiny in the Pac-12 South title race and can take another step closer to San Francisco with a win over USC.

Teaser:
College Football's Post-Week 12 Playoff Projection
Post date: Tuesday, November 18, 2014 - 10:00
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-post-week-12-bowl-projections-2014
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College football’s 2014 season has reached its final stretch run, and the bowl and national title picture is starting to clear. The playoff committee will release its fourth set of rankings on Tuesday this week, which should give fans, coaches and players a better idea of what the committee values heading into the last few weeks of the season.

 

The new playoff format has added a new layer of intrigue, as four teams – instead of two – will have a shot at the national championship once the bowl pairings are announced in early December.

 

With 12 weeks in the books, it’s time to take a look at what the bowl picture might hold for each conference and team this year. The post-Week 12 bowl projections are a mixture between picks for the next few weeks, how things would look if the season ended today, and the results from the first 12 weeks of action. Expect several changes over the next few weeks.

 

Teams on the projection bubble and missing our projections this week: Oklahoma State, Akron, Buffalo, Ohio, Wyoming, Fresno State, Kentucky, Oregon State, Michigan, Temple, USF, Texas State, Virginia, and Pittsburgh. Remember: It’s only Week 12. Several changes are coming, and it’s impossible to project all of the wins and losses the rest of the way considering how much changes week-to-week in college football.
 

College Football's Post-Week 12 Bowl Projections
BowlDateTie-InProjection
New OrleansDec. 20Sun Belt vs.
Mountain West
 UL Lafayette vs.
Air Force 
New MexicoDec. 20C-USA vs.
Mountain West
 UTEP vs.
Utah State 
Las VegasDec. 20Mountain West vs.
Pac-12
Boise State vs.
Stanford 
Famous Idaho PotatoDec. 20MAC vs. 
Mountain West
 Bowling Green vs.
Nevada 
CamelliaDec. 20MAC vs.
Sun Belt
 Central Michigan vs.
Arkansas State 
Miami BeachDec. 22American vs. 
BYU
 East Carolina vs.
BYU 
Boca RatonDec. 23C-USA vs.
MAC
 UAB vs.
Western Michigan 
PoinsettiaDec. 23Mountain West vs.
Navy
Colorado State vs.
Navy 
BahamasDec. 24C-USA vs.
MAC
 MTSU vs.
Northern Illinois 
HawaiiDec. 24C-USA vs.
Mountain West
 Western Kentucky vs.
San Diego State 
Heart of DallasDec. 26Big Ten vs.
C-USA
 Maryland vs.
Rice 
Quick LaneDec. 26ACC vs.
Big Ten
 Boston College vs.
Rutgers 
St. PetersburgDec. 26ACC vs. 
American
 North Carolina vs.
UCF 
MilitaryDec. 27ACC vs.
American
 Virginia Tech vs.
Cincinnati 
SunDec. 27ACC vs.
Pac-12
 Miami vs.
Arizona 
IndependenceDec. 27ACC vs.
SEC
 NC State vs.
Louisiana Tech* 
PinstripeDec. 27ACC vs.
Big Ten
 Louisville vs.
Penn State 
HolidayDec. 27Big Ten vs.
Pac-12
 Nebraska vs.
USC 
LibertyDec. 29SEC vs.
Big 12
 LSU vs.
West Virginia 
Russell AthleticDec. 29ACC vs. 
Big 12
 Duke vs.
Oklahoma 
TexasDec. 29Big 12 vs.
SEC
 Texas vs.
Arkansas 
Music CityDec. 30ACC/Big Ten vs.
SEC
 Iowa vs.
Tennessee 
BelkDec. 30ACC vs. 
SEC
 Notre Dame vs.
South Carolina 
San FranciscoDec. 30Big Ten vs.
Pac-12

 Minnesota vs.
Utah 

OutbackJan. 1Big Ten vs.
SEC
 Wisconsin vs.
Missouri 
CitrusJan. 1Big Ten/ACC vs.
SEC
 Michigan State vs.
Auburn 
Armed ForcesJan. 2American vs.
Big 12/Army
 Houston vs.
California* 
TaxslayerJan. 2ACC/Big Ten vs.
SEC
 Clemson vs.
Texas A&M 
AlamoJan. 2Big 12 vs.
Pac-12
 Kansas State vs.
Arizona State 
CactusJan. 2Big 12 vs.
Pac-12
 Northwestern* vs.
Washington 
BirminghamJan. 3American vs.
SEC
 Memphis vs.
Florida 
GoDaddyJan. 4MAC vs.
Sun Belt
 Toledo vs.
South Alabama 
    
New Year's Bowls
PeachDec. 31At-large vs.
At-large
 Marshall vs.
Georgia 
FiestaDec. 31At-large vs.
At-large

 TCU vs.
UCLA 

OrangeDec. 31ACC vs.
Big Ten/SEC/ND
 Georgia Tech vs.
Ole Miss 
CottonJan. 1At-large vs.
At-large
 Baylor vs.
Ohio State 
    
Related: Projecting the Playoff Teams After Week 12
RoseJan. 1Playoff
Semifinal
 Florida State vs.
Oregon 
SugarJan. 1Playoff
Semifinal
 Alabama vs.
Mississippi State 
National TitleJan. 12Semifinal Winner vs.
Semifinal Winner
 Alabama vs.
Florida State 

* Indicates an at-large selection. Conference not projected to have enough bowl-eligible teams to fulfill the conference alignment. 

** Bold indicates team has accepted bid to bowl.

Teaser:
College Football's Post-Week 12 Bowl Projections 2014
Post date: Tuesday, November 18, 2014 - 10:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Georgia Bulldogs, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/georgia-rb-todd-gurley-suffers-season-ending-acl-tear-against-auburn
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In his first game back from a four-game suspension, Georgia running back Todd Gurley suffered a torn ACL against Auburn and will miss the remainder of the 2014 season


Gurley rushed for 138 yards against the Tigers and helped to keep the Bulldogs’ East Division title hopes alive in a 34-7 win over the Tigers.
 

Prior to his suspension, Gurley was one of the leading candidates for the Heisman.


With Gurley sidelined for the rest of the year, true freshman Nick Chubb will carry the workload for Georgia’s offense. Chubb will also have help from Sony Michel and Keith Marshall at running back.

 

Gurley is expected to enter the NFL Draft this offseason. Despite the injury, the junior should be one of the first running backs off the board in the 2015 draft. 

Teaser:
Georgia RB Todd Gurley Suffers Season-Ending ACL Tear Against Auburn
Post date: Sunday, November 16, 2014 - 18:38
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The feeling for Florida State’s defense was familiar on Saturday night in Sun Life Stadium. The Seminoles trailed 23-10, and the defense did not force a punt through the first two quarters. The Hurricanes were rolling on offense in the first half, averaging 7.8 yards per play and entered the intermission with 319 total yards.

 

But once again, Florida State and coordinator Charles Kelly found the right answers at halftime.

The Seminoles held Miami to just 4.5 yards per play in the second half and limited the Hurricanes to just three points.
 

The strong defensive effort in the second half was enough for Florida State to extend its overall winning streak to 26 games and five in a row in the series against its in-state rival.


Safety Jalen Ramsey was the best player on the field Saturday night, as he recorded three tackles (one for a loss), one forced fumble, four pass breakups and the game-clinching interception.

 

The strong play of the defense in the second half against Miami wasn’t a surprise to anyone who has watched Florida State play this year.

The Seminoles allowed 24 points in the first half against NC State and trailed 24-21 at halftime. However, the defense limited the Wolfpack to just 17 second-half points, which allowed quarterback Jameis Winston and the offense to score 35 points over the final two quarters in a 56-41 victory.

Against Notre Dame, Florida State allowed the Irish to score on a seven-play, 83-yard drive in the third quarter. But after that drive, the Seminoles held the Fighting Irish to just three points over their final four drives, including a late goal-line stand to clinch the victory.

And on a Thursday night in Louisville, Florida State’s defense allowed only one drive of more than 27 yards in the second half and forced four second-half punts by the Cardinals. That was more than enough to lift the Seminoles to a 42-31 victory.

Sure, Florida State’s defense isn’t as dominant as it was last year. The Seminoles are holding ACC opponents to 5.4 yards per play (an increase from 4.0 last year) and are giving up 22.8 points per game (a 10-point increase from a 12.1 mark in 2013).

Injuries, inexperience and the coordinator change have all factored into the drop-off on defense for coach Jimbo Fisher. And let’s also not overlook the fact the Seminoles’ offense has surrendered 22 turnovers this year, which has placed the defense in a few difficult situations.

 

However, this group has stepped up with the game on the line. College football is all about surviving and advancing each week. Wins aren’t necessarily a beauty contest, and the Seminoles continue to find ways to stay unbeaten.

 

Florida State’s defense won’t become dominant overnight, but Kelly and Fisher have to be encouraged this unit has stepped up when called upon in the second half.

And as long as the Seminoles keep winning, the team’s youth will have more time to develop, especially with a month to prepare before the first playoff game.
 

It’s pretty clear Florida State won’t be as dominant this year on defense as they were in 2013. But this unit is still capable of getting stops when it matters in 2014, which is more than enough for the Seminoles to have a shot at a repeat title appearance in January. 

Teaser:
Florida State's Defense Delivers in Second Half to Lead Comeback Against Miami
Post date: Sunday, November 16, 2014 - 16:55
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Florida announced coach Will Muschamp would not return in 2015 after Saturday’s loss to South Carolina, which dropped the Gators to 5-4 with two games remaining in 2014. Muschamp will stay on the sidelines for the remainder of the regular season. Athletic director Jeremy Foley hired Muschamp after a stint as an assistant at Texas in 2011. Muschamp went 7-6 in his first year at Florida and finished 11-2 in 2012. However, the Gators stumbled to a 4-8 mark last season and needs a win over Eastern Kentucky or Florida State to play in a bowl this year.

 

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13 Candidates to Replace Will Muschamp at Florida

 

Justin Fuente, Head Coach, Memphis

Fuente inherited a roster and program in need of significant repair. Three years later, Memphis is one of the front-runners to win the American Athletic Conference. The Tigers went 3-21 in the two seasons prior to Fuente’s arrival but improved to 4-8 in his first year and 3-9 in 2013. In his third year, Fuente already has Memphis bowl-eligible for the first time since 2008, and the Tigers could claim a share of the conference title if they win their final two regular season games. Considering how far the program has progressed in three seasons, Fuente should be a hot commodity for Power 5 openings this offseason. And Fuente’s background on offense certainly has to intrigue Foley after Florida’s struggles on that side of the ball under Muschamp.

 

Hugh Freeze, Head Coach, Ole Miss

Before we dive into Freeze’s background, it’s important to note Freeze has a good job and is an Oxford native. Considering his ties to Oxford and background in Mississippi, Freeze won’t be too eager to leave Ole Miss. However, Florida is a bigger job and certainly has more resources. Freeze has been a winner at each of his stops, including one year at Arkansas State (10-2), two seasons at Lambuth (20-5) and now three years with Ole Miss (23-13). Freeze’s background on offense certainly has to be intriguing to Florida. Again, a longshot Freeze takes the job, but he’s quickly emerging as one of the top coaches in the SEC.

 

Mike Gundy, Head Coach, Oklahoma State
Gundy is in a good spot at his alma mater and is 82-43 since taking over as Oklahoma State’s head coach in 2005. The Cowboys have played in eight consecutive bowl games and finished No. 3 nationally in 2011. However, Gundy has showed interest in other jobs in previous years, and reports have indicated there could be some friction with athletic director Mike Holder. Combine Gundy’s background on offense, consistent winning in Stillwater and perhaps some uncertainty in the athletic department, and it’s easy to see why the former Oklahoma State quarterback could be interested in other high-profile jobs. 

 

Jim Harbaugh, Head Coach, San Francisco 49ers

Whether it’s a college or NFL job, Harbaugh’s name is expected to be a popular one in coaching searches this offseason. Harbaugh is probably more of an option at Michigan than Florida, but the former NFL quarterback should draw plenty of interest after he transformed Stanford into a top-five team in just four years (2007-10). And prior to his stint at Stanford, Harbaugh went 29-6 at San Diego (2004-06). Harbaugh is 41-15 in four seasons with the 49ers, but there is plenty of uncertainty regarding his future after this season in San Francisco.

 

Mark Hudspeth, UL Lafayette

Hudspeth is ready for a promotion after a successful four-year stint at UL Lafayette. The former Mississippi State assistant is 34-15 in four years with the Ragin’ Cajuns and has the program on track to earn their fourth consecutive bowl appearance. Prior to his current stint at UL Lafayette and two years at Mississippi State, Hudspeth went 66-21 from 2002-08 at North Alabama. Hudspeth signed a six-year contract extension in June, but his track record of success, energetic personality and ability to recruit will no doubt be attractive to any Power 5 program with an opening.

 

Jim McElwain, Head Coach, Colorado State
McElwain is a former Nick Saban assistant, but even if that works against him in this coaching search, he’s still a proven head coach with a background on offense. Under McElwain’s watch, Colorado State is 21-15 overall and is 9-1 with a chance to win the Mountain West in 2014. Prior to the last three years with the Rams, McElwain worked as the offensive coordinator at Alabama from 2008-11, had a one-year stint at Fresno State (2007) and a short stop with the Raiders in 2006. McElwain is a rising star in the coaching ranks but has a hefty $7.5 million buyout.

 

Chad Morris, Offensive Coordinator, Clemson
Foley went the coordinator route with Muschamp and it backfired. Will that factor into Morris being considered a candidate? Morris is one of the nation’s highest-paid assistants and is regarded as one of the top offensive minds in college football. The Texas native has never been a head coach on the FBS level, but his offenses at Clemson were among the best in the ACC and averaged 40.2 points per game in 2013. Morris would be a splashy hire for a program looking to upgrade its offense. However, the lack of head coaching experience may steer Florida in a different direction.

 

Dan Mullen, Head Coach, Mississippi State

Many reports have indicated Mullen won’t be a candidate due to a questionable relationship with athletic director Jeremy Foley. However, Mullen has elevated Mississippi State during his six seasons in Starkville, which culminated in Mississippi State owning the No. 1 spot in college football’s playoff rankings for the first three weeks. Mullen is 45-29 since taking over the Bulldogs’ head coaching position in 2009 and has guided the program to four consecutive bowl games. Mullen worked under former Florida coach Urban Meyer from 2005-08 and has previous stops as an assistant at Utah, Bowling Green and Notre Dame.

 

Pat Narduzzi, Defensive Coordinator, Michigan State

As evidenced by passing on the UConn job last offseason, Narduzzi’s is in no hurry to leave East Lansing. But if Florida calls, Narduzzi’s interest level would figure to be significantly higher. The Ohio native is regarded as one of - if not No. 1 - top assistant coaches in college football. Narduzzi joined coach Mark Dantonio’s staff in 2007 and has developed an elite defense during his tenure in East Lansing. Michigan State led the nation by limiting opponents to just 4.0 yards per play last season, and the Spartans ranked first in the Big Ten in scoring defense from 2012-13. Prior to taking over the controls for Michigan State’s defense, Narduzzi worked on Dantonio’s staff at Cincinnati (2004-06) and had stints as an assistant at Miami (Ohio), Northern Illinois and Rhode Island.
 

Dan Quinn, Defensive Coordinator, Seattle Seahawks

Quinn is regarded as a rising star in the assistant ranks and has a previous stop at Florida on his resume from 2011-12. The New Jersey native has worked with Pete Carroll in Seattle in 2010 and from 2013-14. Quinn does not have head coaching experience and has only spent two years coaching at a FBS program. 

 

Rich Rodriguez, Head Coach, Arizona

Rodriguez was a bad fit at Michigan, but he’s been a proven winner at every previous coaching stop. And Rodriguez is a name garnering plenty of interest in the rumor mill already, as he has Arizona at 8-2 and alive in the Pac-12 South title mix this year. Prior to the last three seasons with the Wildcats, Rodriguez went 15-22 at Michigan but was 60-26 at West Virginia. In addition to his proven track record, here’s something else that should make Foley very interested: Rodriguez is considered one of the nation’s top offensive minds.

 

Steve Spurrier, Head Coach, South Carolina

Spurrier has already said he plans to return to South Carolina in 2015, but if his alma mater called, he would have to at least listen. Spurrier is 82-44 with the Gamecocks and went 122-27-1 at Florida from 1990-2001. Spurrier would be a short-term solution as he will be 70 by the start of the 2015 season.

 

Bob Stoops, Head Coach, Oklahoma

Stoops already has a great job and would have to face his brother (Mark) once a year if he bolted Oklahoma for Florida. Most believe Stoops won't bolt Oklahoma for Gainesville, but he’s a former Florida assistant and has spent 16 years with the Sooners – is it time for change? Stoops has been a model of consistency with Oklahoma, but the program has slipped some in recent years. Again, Stoops is a longshot, but he’s a name to watch during this coaching search. Even if Stoops is going to say no, Foley would be wise to at least place a call to Norman.

 

Other Names to Watch

 

Tom Herman, Offensive Coordinator, Ohio State

Despite losing quarterback Braxton Miller to a shoulder injury in fall practice, Ohio State’s offense hasn’t missed a beat this year. Redshirt freshman J.T. Barrett has emerged as the Big Ten’s top quarterback under Herman’s direction, and the Buckeyes are averaging 6.9 yards per play in conference games. The Ohio native has worked under coach Urban Meyer since 2012 and called the plays at Texas State (2005-06), Rice (2007-08) and Iowa State (2009-11). Herman also is a member of Mensa International. A rising star, but Herman is probably more likely to land a Group of 5 school as a head coach than Florida.

 

Doc Holliday, Head Coach, Marshall

Regarded as an excellent recruiter and has ties to the state of Florida. Holliday is 37-24 at Marshall but was only 27-24 prior to the start of 2014.

 

Ruffin McNeill, Head Coach, East Carolina

McNeill is 35-25 in five seasons at East Carolina – his alma mater. Even though McNeill has done a good job in Greenville, he’s an unlikely fit in Gainesville.

 

Greg Schiano, former Rutgers and NFL coach

Schiano was fired in Tampa Bay after two seasons but had a successful tenure at Rutgers. The defensive-minded coach is a longshot for Florida. However, he could land at another FBS program for the 2015 season.

 

Mike Shanahan, former NFL coach
Shanahan is probably a realistic candidate for open NFL jobs this offseason, but his name has popped up in some reports for college vacancies. Shanahan worked at Florida from 1980-83. However, he hasn’t worked on the collegiate level since that four-year stint. A longshot to take the job in Gainesville.

 

Kirby Smart, Defensive Coordinator, Alabama

After striking out with a former Nick Saban assistant (Muschamp), it’s unlikely Foley goes in that direction again.

 

Charlie Strong, Head Coach, Texas

Strong already has a great job – maybe the best in college football. He’s not leaving Austin after one season.

 

Matt Wells, Head Coach, Utah State

Wells has continued to build off former coach Gary Andersen’s success at Utah State. Despite dealing with significant injuries at the quarterback position the last two years, the Aggies are 17-8 under Wells’ direction.

Teaser:
13 Coaching Candidates to Replace Will Muschamp at Florida
Post date: Sunday, November 16, 2014 - 14:13
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Florida Gators, SEC, News
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Florida has announced coach Will Muschamp won't return to Gainesville in 2015. The move comes after the Gators lost to South Carolina 23-20 in overtime in Week 12. Muschamp is expected to coach the last two games of the regular season for Florida. 

Muschamp went 27-20 in four years at Florida but missed out on a bowl appearance last season with a 4-8 mark.

The Gators were just 17-15 in SEC play under Muschamp and struggled to find answers on offense over the last four years.

Teaser:
Florida Dismisses Coach Will Muschamp
Post date: Sunday, November 16, 2014 - 11:46
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Saturday’s game between Wisconsin and Nebraska was billed as one of the best head-to-head running back matchups of the season. However, the highly anticipated duel between two Heisman candidates was a one-sided blowout in favor of Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon.

 

Gordon earned Athlon Sports Week 12 Player of the Week honors by gashing the Cornhuskers for an FBS single-game rushing record of 408 yards. The junior’s performance led Wisconsin to a critical 59-24 victory over Nebraska and placed the Badgers in command of the Big Ten West Division.

 

Gordon needed only 25 carries to rush for 408 yards and did not record a touch in the fourth quarter. He also averaged a healthy 16.3 yards per carry and recorded four plays of 40 rushing yards or more.


In 10 games this year, Gordon has 1,909 rushing yards and 23 touchdowns. He also has 11 receptions for 83 yards and two scores.

Gordon was on the radar in the Heisman race throughout the season, but the junior should firmly rank among the nation’s top three candidates after a monster performance in a key win over Nebraska.

 

Defensive Player of the Week: Jalen Ramsey, S, Florida State

With an unbeaten season and 25-game winning streak hanging in the balance, Ramsey and the Florida State defense stepped up with another strong second-half performance. The sophomore safety was dominant in the 30-26 victory over Miami, finishing with three tackles (one for a loss), one forced fumble, one interception, four pass breakups and a blocked extra point. Ramsey’s interception sealed the victory against the Hurricanes, elevating Florida State to its 26th consecutive victory and its fifth win in a row over Miami. The sophomore also had an impact beyond the box score, as he pressured Miami quarterback Brad Kaaya throughout the fourth quarter and disrupted a handful of plays. Ramsey was already regarded as one of the top safeties in college football heading into this season, but the sophomore is elevating his performance to an even higher level as Florida State looks to earn a spot in college football’s four-team playoff.

 

Coordinator of the Week: Jeremy Pruitt, Georgia

 

The performance of Georgia’s defense in Saturday night’s 34-7 is exactly why coach Mark Richt brought Pruitt to Athens after one year at Florida State. In last year’s loss to the Tigers, the Bulldogs allowed 43 points and 566 yards. But under Pruitt’s direction, Georgia’s defense put the clamps on one of the nation’s top offenses. Auburn entered Week 12 averaging 37.3 points in SEC games and averaged seven yards per play this year. The Bulldogs allowed a score on the Tigers’ first drive of the game, but Pruitt’s group pitched a shutout the rest of the way and held one of the nation’s most explosive offenses to just 292 total yards. Auburn had 93 yards on its first two drives but managed just 68 on its next seven. The win over the Tigers was critical to keeping Georgia’s SEC East title hopes alive, and Pruitt’s defense delivered against one of the nation’s top offenses.

 

Freshman of the Week: J.T. Barrett, QB, Ohio State

Barrett ensured Ohio State avoided a letdown one week after a huge road win at Michigan State. The redshirt freshman guided the Buckeyes to a 31-24 victory over Minnesota in frigid conditions at TCF Bank Stadium. Barrett completed 15 of 25 passes for 200 yards and three scores and added 189 rushing yards and one touchdown. He opened Ohio State’s scoring by reaching the endzone on a 86-yard run, which was the longest rush by a quarterback in school history. Barrett has accounted for 38 total touchdowns this year, breaking a record set by Braxton Miller (36) last season.

Teaser:
Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon is Athlon Sports' Week 12 Player of the Week
Post date: Sunday, November 16, 2014 - 08:30

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