Articles By Steven Lassan

Path: /college-football/college-footballs-post-week-14-playoff-projection

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),
Teddy Mitrosilis (@TMitrosilis), Fox Sports

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

Post-Week 14 Playoff Projection

RankTeam 12345678Total
3Florida State361110000137
4TCU 00111810096
6Ohio State00006150069
8Mississippi State0000007620
9Michigan State0000004614
12Kansas State000000011
Takeaways From Expert Poll Results

* Alabama holds a sizeable lead for the No. 1 spot in the playoff projection. The Crimson Tide received 16 of the 21 first-place votes and ranked below second on just one ballot.

* Oregon passed Florida State by a small margin (four points) for the No. 2 spot. The Seminoles have more first-place votes (three) than the Ducks (two), but Oregon claimed 11 second-place rankings to edge Florida State.

* TCU dominated Texas on Thanksgiving, and that result swayed some of the voters to flip the Horned Frogs and Baylor. The Bears own a head-to-head win over TCU, but trail in Athlon’s playoff projection by eight points. Style points in Week 15 could be important.

* With a win over Arizona State, combined with UCLA’s loss to Stanford, Arizona jumped to No. 7 in this week’s poll. The Wildcats are still alive for a playoff spot if they beat Oregon in the Pac-12 Championship on Friday night.

* The battle to claim a playoff spot seems to be down to seven teams: Florida State, Oregon, TCU, Baylor, Ohio State and Arizona. Perhaps there’s a crazy scenario where another team could jump into the conversation with losses by all four of the top teams in this week’s poll, but the formula for the first playoff poll seems simple. If Alabama, Florida State and Oregon win this weekend, all three teams will be in. The fourth spot will be up for grabs between Baylor, Ohio State and TCU if the top three win in Week 15.


Group of 5 Rankings


1. Boise State

Record: 10-2

The Broncos are in the driver’s seat for the Group of 5 bowl spot in one of college football’s premier games. Boise State ranked No. 23 in last week’s playoff rankings and should move up after defeating Utah State last week. The Broncos host Fresno State in the Mountain West Championship on Saturday night.

2. Memphis
Record: 9-3

The Tigers clinched a share of the American Athletic Conference title with a victory over UConn last week. Memphis pounded UConn 41-10 in Week 14 and finished the regular season at 9-3 overall. Coach Justin Fuente’s team could claim the outright league title if UCF loses to East Carolina, leaving Memphis and Cincinnati (if it beats Houston) tied at 7-1 overall in conference games. The Tigers beat the Bearcats earlier this year.

Next in Line: Cincinnati, UCF, Northern Illinois, Marshall

Games With Playoff/Bowl Implications in Week 15


UCF at East Carolina
7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN (Thursday)

Northern Illinois vs. Bowling Green (Detroit)
7 p.m. ET, ESPN2 (Friday)

Arizona vs. Oregon (Santa Clara)
9 p.m. ET, FOX (Friday)

Iowa State at TCU
Noon ET, ABC

Louisiana Tech at Marshall
Noon ET, ESPN2

Houston at Cincinnati

Alabama vs. Missouri (Atlanta)
4 p.m. ET, CBS

Kansas State at Baylor
7:45 p.m. ET, ESPN

Florida State vs. Georgia Tech (Charlotte)
8 p.m. ET, ABC

Wisconsin vs. Ohio State (Indianapolis)
8:17 p.m. ET, FOX

Fresno State at Boise State
10 p.m. ET, CBS

College Football's Post-Week 14 Playoff Projection
Post date: Tuesday, December 2, 2014 - 10:20
Path: /college-football/13-coaching-candidates-replace-bo-pelini-nebraska

Nebraska fired coach Bo Pelini after the Cornhuskers closed the 2014 regular season with a 9-3 record. Pelini’s record in Lincoln was an impressive 67-27, but the program never took the next step under his watch. Nebraska won at least nine games in each of Pelini’s seven seasons and had four finishes in the final Associated Press poll. However, the Cornhuskers never played in one of college football’s premier bowl games or won a conference title.

Nebraska is one of the top 25 jobs in college football, but there are also drawbacks to coaching in Lincoln. The state does not produce enough in-state talent to win a national championship, which means the coaching staff has to recruit Texas and surrounding areas for talent.

Even though this job may not be as elite as some would suggest, Nebraska has all of the necessary resources to win a Big Ten title – and it’s the best program in the Big Ten West Division.

13 Candidates to Replace Bo Pelini at Nebraska


Steve Addazio, Head Coach, Boston College
Addazio has quickly emerged as one of the top coaches in the ACC over the last two years. Boston College is 14-11 under Addazio’s watch and has finished .500 in league play in both seasons. Prior to Addazio’s arrival, the Eagles went 6-18 from 2011-12 and missed out on bowl appearances in both years. Making Addazio’s two years in Chestnut Hill even more impressive is his ability to win with the available talent and mesh with graduate transfers (quarterback Tyler Murphy), while the program reloads and builds an identity through recruiting. Addazio’s style of play (run-first mentality and toughness) would translate well in Lincoln. Prior to taking over at Boston College, Addazio went 13-11 in two years at Temple and served as an assistant at Florida, Indiana, Notre Dame and Syracuse.


Podcast: Who should be Nebraska's next head coach?

Subscribe: iTunes | Stitcher


Craig Bohl, Head Coach, Wyoming

To borrow a term from another Big Ten program, Bohl seems to be a “Nebraska man.” He’s a Lincoln native, played under Tom Osborne from 1977-79 and worked on the Cornhuskers’ coaching staff from 1995-02. Bohl was hired as North Dakota State’s head coach in 2003, and he led the Bison until 2013 when he was hired at Wyoming. Bohl’s record with the Bison was a stellar 104-32 and included three consecutive FCS Championships from 2011-13. Bohl led Wyoming to a 4-8 mark in 2014. 


Troy Calhoun, Head Coach, Air Force

Calhoun currently coaches at his alma mater (Air Force), so it’s not a guarantee that he wants to leave for another job. Calhoun is 58-44 in eight seasons with the Falcons and guided the program to six consecutive bowl appearances from 2007-12. Air Force missed out on a bowl and went 2-10 in 2013, which was Calhoun’s worst season with the program. However, the Falcons rebounded to 9-3 and could reach 10 victories if they win a bowl game. And considering Nebraska’s history with the option offense, Calhoun’s ties to that style of play would be attractive to the fanbase. Calhoun also has stops on his resume from stints in the NFL (Houston and Denver) and in college with Ohio and Wake Forest.

Willie Fritz, Head Coach, Georgia Southern
Fritz is coming off a successful debut at Georgia Southern, as the Eagles finished 9-3 in their first season on the FBS level. Barring an appeal that’s approved by the NCAA, Georgia Southern won’t be eligible for a bowl game, but a 9-3 record with a Sun Belt title is an impressive debut from Fritz. Prior to Georgia Southern, Fritz went 40-14 at Sam Houston State and 97-47 at Central Missouri. The Kansas native could be in the mix for the opening with the Jayhawks after the program fired coach Charlie Weis earlier this year.

Scott Frost, Offensive Coordinator, Oregon

As a former Nebraska quarterback, Frost is already a popular name in the search to replace Bo Pelini. Frost is only 39 years old, and a younger coach could spark energy into a program that is looking to move back into the national title mix on a yearly basis. The Lincoln native doesn’t have a ton of coaching experience, but he spent one season as a graduate assistant at Nebraska (2002), a year in the same capacity with Kansas State (2006) and two seasons at Northern Iowa from 2007-08. Frost was hired by former Oregon coach Chip Kelly to tutor the wide receivers in 2009, and he served in that capacity until the start of the 2013 season. Frost was promoted to offensive coordinator after Kelly left for the NFL, and the Ducks’ offense continues to be one of the best in the nation under his watch. Oregon averaged 45.5 points per game in 2013 and has a 45.9 mark entering the Pac-12 Championship.


Justin Fuente, Head Coach, Memphis

Fuente inherited a mess after the failed Larry Porter era at Memphis. But in just three years, the Tigers went from 4-8 to winning a share of the American Athletic Conference title in 2014. Fuente’s record at Memphis is just 16-20, but the program has clearly made progress under his watch and finished 9-3 in its second season playing in the American Athletic Conference. The Oklahoma native is no stranger to coaching in the Midwest, as he spent five years under Gary Patterson at TCU and worked from 2001-06 at Illinois State.

Mike Gundy, Head Coach, Oklahoma State
Gundy is 82-44 since taking over as Oklahoma State’s head coach in 2005. Considering he works at his alma mater, Gundy isn’t necessarily looking to leave Stillwater, but reports have indicated there could be friction between the head coach and athletic director Mike Holder. Under Gundy’s direction, the Cowboys have played in eight consecutive bowl games and finished No. 3 nationally in 2011. Gundy’s name also popped up in connection with the opening at Florida.

Mark Hudspeth, Head Coach, UL Lafayette
Hudspeth has been successful at two different head coaching stops, including a 35-16 mark with UL Lafayette over the last four years. The Ragin’ Cajuns are also poised to earn their fourth consecutive bowl appearance after an 8-4 mark in 2014. Prior to taking over at ULL, Hudspeth worked as an assistant at Mississippi State for two seasons (2009-10) and worked for seven years as the head coach at North Alabama (66-21). Hudspeth also has stops in his career at Navy, Delta State and Central Arkansas. Hudspeth is due for a promotion to run a Power 5 job, but his background suggests he would be more interested in SEC openings.


Jerry Kill, Head Coach, Minnesota

Nebraska fans are certainly familiar with Kill after Minnesota claimed back-to-back victories against the Cornhuskers in 2013-14. The Kansas native has a good job at Minnesota, but it’s much easier to win at a higher level at Nebraska. Kill wouldn’t necessarily be the most exciting hire for a program that wants to return to national prominence. However, there’s no doubt Kill knows how to win games. He went 38-14 in five years at Saginaw Valley State, 55-32 in seven seasons at Southern Illinois, 23-16 at Northern Illinois and is 25-25 in four years with the Golden Gophers. Kill’s career record is 152-98, and he has elevated the Minnesota program over the last two seasons.


Jim McElwain, Head Coach, Colorado State
McElwain is one of the rising stars in college football’s coaching ranks. In three years with Colorado State, McElwain is 22-16 and has the Rams poised to earn back-to-back bowl appearances. Colorado State is also 15-3 in McElwain’s last 18 games, which includes wins over Power 5 opponents in Boston College, Washington State and Colorado. Prior to taking the top spot in Fort Collins, McElwain served as an assistant under Nick Saban at Alabama from 2008-11, coordinated Fresno State’s offense in 2007 and worked with the Raiders in 2006. He also has stops as an assistant at Michigan State, Louisville, Eastern Washington and Montana State. McElwain is primed to eventually move up the coaching ranks, but there’s a potential issue with his buyout. All signs point to McElwain’s buyout at Colorado State checking in at a hefty $7.5 million this year.


Joe Moglia, Head Coach, Coastal Carolina

Moglia might be a better fit in the longshot category, but he’s an intriguing name to remember in coaching searches this offseason. The former Ameritrade CEO spent two years as a volunteer assistant at Nebraska (2009-10) and was hired as Coastal Carolina’s coach after a four-game stint with the Omaha Nighthawks. In three years with the Chanticleers, Moglia’s record is 31-9 and has guided the program to three consecutive FCS playoff appearances.


Pat Narduzzi, Defensive Coordinator, Michigan State

Would Nebraska venture into the defensive assistant ranks once again for a coach? If so, Narduzzi would be a home-run hire for athletic director Shawn Eichorst. The Connecticut native reportedly turned down the UConn job last year, but it’s only a matter of time before he runs his own program. Narduzzi has coordinated some of the nation’s top defenses at Michigan State, including the 2013 season when the Spartans led the nation by holding opponents to four yards per play. Prior to coordinating Michigan State’s defense, Narduzzi called the defensive signals at Cincinnati and Miami (Ohio) and has stops as an assistant at Northern Illinois and Rhode Island.


Greg Schiano, former Rutgers/Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach
Schiano sat out the 2014 season after he was fired after two years as Tampa Bay’s head coach. Despite the failed stint in the NFL, Schiano is expected to get back in the mix for college jobs, as he recorded a 68-67 record at Rutgers, which included six bowl appearances over his final seven years. Schiano’s record with the Scarlet Knights was just one win over .500, but he inherited a program that won only nine games in the four years prior to his arrival. 

Other Names to Watch/Longshots


Dave Aranda, Defensive Coordinator, Wisconsin
Nebraska athletic director Shawn Eichorst has ties to Wisconsin from a stint under Barry Alvarez in the program’s athletic department from 2006-11. Eichorst and Aranda didn’t work together at Wisconsin, but it’s probably a safe bet Eichorst has kept a close watch on the Badgers over the last few years. Aranda helped to coordinate a defense that led the Big Ten in fewest points allowed per game (16.8) in 2014. A rising star in the coaching ranks but likely a year or two away from taking a head coaching job.  

Al Golden, Head Coach, Miami
Golden has ties to athletic director Shawn Eichorst, as they worked together in Miami from 2011-12. However, Golden could be a tough sell in Lincoln after a 28-21 start to his tenure in Coral Gables. Additionally, the Hurricanes are coming off a 6-6 record and went 3-5 in a mediocre Coastal Division.


Jim Harbaugh, Head Coach, San Francisco 49ers
All signs point to Harbaugh coaching somewhere other than San Francisco in 2015. Will it be Michigan, the Raiders or the Jets? Hard to see Harbaugh going to Nebraska, but he’s a name to watch in all coaching searches this offseason.


Tom Herman, Offensive Coordinator, Ohio State

Despite losing quarterback Braxton Miller to a shoulder injury in fall practice, Ohio State’s offense ranked as the best in the Big Ten by averaging 44.1 points per game. Herman and coach Urban Meyer were instrumental in the development of redshirt freshman quarterback J.T. Barrett and will have to do the same for Cardale Jones after Barrett’s injury against Michigan. Herman 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. Expect Herman to get a look for openings outside of the Power 5 leagues.


Jim Tressel, Former Ohio State Head Coach

Tressel has been out of coaching since he resigned at Ohio State after the 2010 season. While the end of his tenure with the Buckeyes was rocky with NCAA problems, Tressel is a proven winner with a 241-79 career record. Is he ready to get back into coaching? Or is Tressel comfortable serving in an administration role at Youngstown State?


Brent Venables, Defensive Coordinator, Clemson
Venables is familiar with Nebraska from his time as a player and coach at Kansas State. And Venables has emerged as one of the nation’s highest-paid defensive coordinators and has guided Clemson’s defense to finishes inside of the top three in the ACC in scoring defense over the last three seasons. 

13 Coaching Candidates to Replace Bo Pelini at Nebraska
Post date: Sunday, November 30, 2014 - 13:54
Path: /college-football/nebraska-fires-coach-bo-pelini

Nebraska has fired coach Bo Pelini. Athletic director Shawn Eichorst will hold a press conference on Sunday to discuss Pelini's firing and what's next for the program. Pelini will not coach Nebraska in a bowl game.

Pelini went 67-27 in seven full years with the Cornhuskers and won at least nine games in each season.

However, the expectations are high at Nebraska. Pelini never won a conference championship and never led the program to one of college football’s top bowl games.


Nebraska Fires Coach Bo Pelini
Post date: Sunday, November 30, 2014 - 11:26
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/alabamas-amari-cooper-athlon-sports-week-14-player-week

Alabama is known for its elite defenses under coach Nick Saban, but in order to win the Iron Bowl matchup against Auburn and keep its national title hopes alive, the Crimson Tide leaned on the offense and receiver Amari Cooper.

Cooper earned Athlon Sports Week 14 Player of the Week honors by catching 13 passes for 224 yards and three scores in a 55-44 shootout victory over Auburn. The junior caught 13 of quarterback Blake Sims’ 20 completions, as the Tigers’ secondary simply had no answer for the receiver that should win the Biletnikoff Award in December.


Cooper and quarterback Blake Sims guided Alabama back from a 26-20 halftime deficit in the highest-scoring game in Iron Bowl history. The Sims-Cooper connection helped to power an offense that averaged 8.8 yards per play and scored on each of its final five drives of the second half.

Cooper caught two of his touchdowns after halftime, including a 75-yard bomb from Sims to cut Auburn’s lead to 36-34 heading into the fourth quarter.

The Iron Bowl totals – 13 catches for 224 yards and three scores – each tied a season-high for Cooper.


Cooper heads into the SEC Championship with 103 catches for 1,573 yards and 14 touchdown catches.


Defensive Player of the Week: Scooby Wright, LB, Arizona

Wright continued to state his case as the best defensive player in college football this season with a huge performance in the win over Arizona State. The sophomore helped the Wildcats clinch the Pac-12 South title by leading the team with 13 tackles (five for a loss), one forced fumble and two sacks. Wright’s forced fumble came on Arizona State’s third offensive play from scrimmage, which was returned by Anthony Lopez to give Arizona an early 7-0 lead. Wright heads into the Pac-12 Championship with 139 total tackles, 14 sacks and six forced fumbles.


Coordinator of the Week: Dave Wommack, Ole Miss

The Rebels reclaimed in-state bragging rights and the Egg Bowl trophy after a 31-17 victory over Mississippi State in Oxford. The offense generated 532 yards, but the defense – and coordinator Dave Wommack – deserves accolades for holding Mississippi State to just 17 points and 5.3 yards per play. The 17 points scored by the Bulldogs tied a season-low, and the 5.3 yards per play mark was the second-lowest total recorded by coach Dan Mullen’s team in 2014. Mississippi State’s offense accumulated 445 total yards, but Wommack’s defense stepped up when it mattered. The Rebels stopped two drives on downs and limited the Bulldogs to just one red zone conversion score on three opportunities. Ole Miss also recorded three sacks and nine tackles for a loss. Wommack’s defense also refused to allow Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott any room on the ground, limiting the junior to 48 yards on 24 attempts. Injuries took a toll on the Ole Miss defense in 2014, but the Rebels stood tall against their in-state rival.


Freshman of the Week: Kyle Bolin, QB, Louisville

Bolin became an unlikely hero in Louisville’s 44-40 victory over Kentucky. After a knee injury sidelined starting quarterback Reggie Bonnafon, Bolin entered the game in the second quarter and jumpstarted the offense. The redshirt freshman from Lexington attempted just seven passes prior to Saturday’s game but showed poise against Kentucky’s pass rush and helped to guide coach Bobby Petrino’s team back from a 13-0 deficit to a huge victory in the rivalry matchup. Bolin completed 21 of 31 passes for 381 yards and three scores, with all three of his touchdown tosses traveling at least 33 yards.

Alabama's Amari Cooper is Athlon Sports' Week 14 Player of the Week
Post date: Sunday, November 30, 2014 - 08:30
Path: /college-football/ohio-state-qb-jt-barrett-out-remainder-2014-season-ankle-injury

Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett suffered a fractured ankle in Saturday’s 42-28 win over Michigan and will miss the remainder of the 2014 season. Barrett was injured during the fourth quarter of the Buckeyes’ victory and was carted to the locker room with an air cast on his leg.

Barrett will be replaced in the starting lineup by sophomore Cardale Jones in the Big Ten Championship and in Ohio State’s bowl game. Jones completed 2 of 3 passes for seven yards and rushed for 19 yards on two attempts in limited snaps against Michigan.

Jones has attempted just 16 passes during his career in Columbus. The sophomore has rushed for 316 yards and one score during that span.


Jones will have a huge opportunity in his first start next Saturday in the Big Ten Championship. If Ohio State emerges with a victory next week, it will stay in the mix for a playoff spot.


However, Barrett’s injury is a huge blow to Ohio State’s playoff hopes. The committee will take into account injuries, and a team with a third-string will be an interesting evaluation for the rankings after the final weekend – assuming the Buckeyes win the Big Ten title.

Prior to Week 14, Barrett was considered a top-five candidate for the Heisman Trophy. Sure, the redshirt freshman was a longshot, but his candidacy was remarkable considering what transpired for Ohio State in the preseason. Starter Braxton Miller was lost for the year, and Barrett – with zero career attempts – was pushed into the lineup.

Barrett’s final 2014 numbers were impressive by a first-year starter, as he threw for 2,658 yards and 33 scores and added 849 yards and nine touchdowns on the ground.


Ohio State QB J.T. Barrett Out for Remainder of 2014 Season With Leg Injury
Post date: Saturday, November 29, 2014 - 17:43
Path: /college-football/ohio-state-qb-jt-barrett-leaves-game-against-michigan-leg-injury

Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett suffered a leg injury and was carted off the field during the fourth quarter of Saturday’s game against Michigan. Barrett was tackled by a Michigan defender, and his leg bent awkwardly in a pile of defenders. The redshirt freshman was replaced by Cardale Jones.

Barrett’s injury is a huge blow to Ohio State’s national and Big Ten title hopes. The Buckeyes were on the outside of the college football playoff’s top four teams and needed a lot of help over the final two weeks. However, with a win over Michigan and the Big Ten West champ, there was plenty for Ohio State to play for over the final few weeks of the season.

With Barrett out indefinitely, Jones – the third quarterback to play major snaps for Ohio State – will have to lead the Buckeyes in the Big Ten Championship next Saturday. And in the first year of the college football playoff, who knows how the committee would view the Buckeyes if Barrett can't play in a bowl. 

Barrett entered fall practice as the No. 2 quarterback but moved to the top spot on the depth chart after Braxton Miller suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in August.

The redshirt freshman was one of the big question marks for Ohio State in 2014, but he quickly emerged as one of the Big Ten’s top quarterbacks.

Prior to his injury against Michigan, Barrett completed 12 of 20 throws for 170 yards and one touchdown and added 85 yards and two scores on the ground.

Entering the Michigan contest, Barrett was considered one of the favorites to get to New York for the Heisman Trophy presentation. The redshirt freshman threw for 2,658 yards and 33 scores and rushed for 849 yards and nine touchdowns through the first 11 games of the year.


Ohio State QB J.T. Barrett Leaves Game Against Michigan With Leg Injury
Post date: Saturday, November 29, 2014 - 15:07
Path: /college-football/louisville-and-kentucky-scuffle-midfield-prior-kickoff

It’s rivalry week, so it’s no surprise when teams exchange words or punches at midfield prior to kickoff. And the overall play in a rivalry game is usually pretty chippy.

Prior to kickoff, Louisville and Kentucky met at midfield and had a small scuffle – including Cardinals coach Bobby Petrino.

Here’s video of the scuffle, along with a picture of Petrino and Kentucky assistant Dan Berezowitz exchanging words prior to kickoff. 

Louisville and Kentucky Scuffle at Midfield Prior to Kickoff
Post date: Saturday, November 29, 2014 - 12:54
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Texas A&M Aggies, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/kevin-sumlin-begins-process-fixing-texas-ams-defense-firing-coordinator-mark-snyder

Texas A&M finished its regular season slate with a 23-17 loss to LSU, and one day after the finale, coach Kevin Sumlin announced defensive coordinator Mark Snyder won’t return in 2015.

Snyder’s firing was no surprise, as Texas A&M’s defense has lagged behind its offense since this program joined the SEC prior to the start of the 2012 season.

The Aggies allowed 5.2 yards per play in Snyder’s debut (2012), and the numbers only got worse from there. In 2013, Texas A&M gave up 6.4 yards per play and then 5.9 in 2014.

The points allowed totals weren’t much better for Snyder. Texas A&M gave up 21.8 points per game in 2012, 32.2 in 2013 and 27.3 in 2014.


Additionally, the Aggies ranked near the bottom of the SEC in third down and red zone defense over the last two seasons.

In a brutal SEC West, Texas A&M simply can’t fall far behind its opponents, and the timing was right for Sumlin after a 7-5 record.

Former Florida coach Will Muschamp has been mentioned as a possible candidate in College Station and several other big names are expected to be in the mix to replace Snyder.

Texas A&M has plenty of talent on the roster, but it has to fix its defense in order to move up the pecking order in the SEC West.

The next defensive coordinator won’t be short on talent, as defensive end Myles Garrett is one of the nation’s rising stars, and there’s a good chunk of talent on the roster in the underclassmen ranks.

The SEC West isn’t getting any easier. Sumlin isn’t facing a make-or-break year in 2015, but progress is certainly needed in College Station. Hiring a new defensive coordinator is a chance to hit the reset button on defense and find the right solution before it’s too late for Sumlin and this coaching staff. 

Kevin Sumlin Begins Process of Fixing Texas A&M's Defense by Firing Coordinator Mark Snyder
Post date: Friday, November 28, 2014 - 17:54
Path: /college-football/arizona-state-wr-jaelen-strong-makes-one-handed-td-catch-against-arizona

Arizona State receiver Jaelen Strong is one of the best in the nation, and the junior has provided plenty of highlight-worthy catches during his two seasons in Tempe.

Strong grabbed an awesome one-handed touchdown grab against Arizona during Friday’s Territorial Cup that might be one of the best catches of the year in the Pac-12.

Check out Strong’s one-handed touchdown grab:

Arizona State WR Jaelen Strong Makes One-Handed TD Catch Against Arizona
Post date: Friday, November 28, 2014 - 17:10
All taxonomy terms: College Football, LSU Tigers, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/lsu-rb-leonard-fournette-runs-over-texas-ams-howard-matthews

LSU freshman running back Leonard Fournette helped to power the Tigers past Texas A&M on Thanksgiving night with 146 yards and one score on 19 carries.

Fournette’s production wasn’t the only highlight of the night, as the freshman destroyed Texas A&M safety Howard Matthews on a touchdown run in the second quarter.

Check out Fournette’s touchdown run and destruction of a Texas A&M defender in the process: 



LSU RB Leonard Fournette Runs Over Texas A&M's Howard Matthews
Post date: Friday, November 28, 2014 - 14:24
Path: /college-football/mississippi-state-bulldogs-vs-ole-miss-rebels-game-preview-and-prediction-2014

The Egg Bowl is always one of the top rivalry games in the SEC, but there’s more at stake in 2014 for Mississippi State and Ole Miss than in recent memory. For the Rebels, the opportunity to play spoiler against their biggest rival is huge. However, coach Hugh Freeze’s team still has an outside shot at one of college football’s top bowl games if it knocks off Mississippi State, combined with losses by a few teams ahead in the rankings. For the Bulldogs, this is a must-win situation with a No. 4 ranking in the college football playoff headed into Week 14. And style points certainly wouldn’t hurt with Ohio State, TCU and Baylor all close behind Mississippi State.


Ole Miss has a 61-43-6 edge over Mississippi State in the all-time series rivalry. However, the recent trend in this series favors the Bulldogs. Mississippi State has won four out of the last five meetings against the Rebels, including a 17-10 thriller in Starkville last season.


Mississippi State at Ole Miss


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

TV Channel: CBS

Spread: Mississippi State -2.5


Ole Miss’ Key to Victory: Contain Dak Prescott


Containing Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott sounds easy, but only one team – Alabama – has been able to accomplish that in 2014. The junior was held to 82 yards on 22 rushing attempts against the Crimson Tide and completed 27 of 48 passes for 290 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions. Those numbers certainly aren’t awful for Prescott, but it’s important to remember 14 of Mississippi State’s points scored in that game were in the fourth quarter – after Alabama was ahead 19-3 at halftime. Stopping the run is the best way to slow down the Bulldogs’ offense. And it doesn’t just revolve around Prescott, as junior Josh Robinson leads the team with 1,084 yards and 11 scores. Ole Miss ranks sixth in the SEC against the run, but the Rebels have limited opponents to just 3.4 yards per carry and seven scores on the ground. This unit is giving up 4.4 yards per carry in its last three SEC games. Injuries and a brutal schedule have taken a toll on the Rebels’ defense in the second half of the year, but this unit limited a potent Arkansas’ ground attack to 3.2 yards per rush last week. Ole Miss has to find a way to limit Prescott and Robinson’s effectiveness on early downs, which will place the offense in third-and-long situations.


Mississippi State’s Key to Victory: Protect the Ball, Win the Turnover Battle


Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace is dealing with an ankle injury and was clearly less than 100 percent in last week’s game against Arkansas. Wallace has been inconsistent at times, as he completed 70 percent of his passes in a 35-31 loss to Auburn but tossed an interception and completed only 14 of 33 throws in a 10-7 loss against LSU. It’s no secret Wallace is the key to the Ole Miss offense, especially since Freeze’s team is trying to find a rushing attack. In last week’s defeat to the Razorbacks, the Rebels lost six turnovers. And for the first time all year, Ole Miss has recorded a negative turnover margin in back-to-back games. That’s a concern for Freeze as Mississippi State has recorded 21 takeaways this year and has five games of at least three takeaways in 2014. In addition to forcing turnovers, the Bulldogs have to do a better job of protecting the ball. In three out of Mississippi State’s seven SEC games, Mullen’s team has a negative turnover margin. Despite that mark, the Bulldogs are 2-1 in those games. In a rivalry game, Mississippi State cannot afford to let the underdog hang around due to a turnovers and sloppy play.


Final Analysis


Rivalry games always bring out the best in the underdog, which is why Mississippi State should get a test from Ole Miss on Saturday. Sure, the Rebels have lost three out of their last four games, but this team still has talent and is capable of pulling off the upset at home. Freeze will have Ole Miss ready to play – there’s no doubt about that. However, Mississippi State has more to play for and is the better team in 2014. Prescott won’t have huge numbers against the Rebels, but he will find just enough running room and should connect on a few big plays in the passing game to give the Bulldogs a tight victory in Oxford.


Prediction: Mississippi State 27, Ole Miss 24
Mississippi State Bulldogs vs. Ole Miss Rebels Game Preview and Prediction 2014
Post date: Friday, November 28, 2014 - 10:30
Path: /college-football/wisconsin-badgers-vs-minnesota-golden-gophers-game-preview-and-prediction-2014

Minnesota and Wisconsin have met 123 previous times on the gridiron, but Saturday’s matchup in Madison could be one of the biggest in the history of this annual Big Ten rivalry. The Golden Gophers and Badgers are not only playing for the coveted Paul Bunyan’s Axe, but a trip to the Big Ten title game is also up for grabs. The winner of Saturday’s game will claim the West Division title.


Minnesota has made steady progress in four years under coach Jerry Kill. With a victory over Wisconsin or in the bowl game, the Golden Gophers will increase their win total for three consecutive seasons after going 3-9 in Kill’s debut. Minnesota lost to TCU in non-conference play earlier this year, but the Golden Gophers were defeated by Illinois and Ohio State by a combined 11 points. On the other sideline, Wisconsin enters this matchup with six consecutive victories. The Badgers lost 20-14 to Northwestern in early October but rebounded by claiming five of those wins by at least 10 points.


Minnesota owns a 59-56-8 series edge over Wisconsin. However, this rivalry has been a one-sided affair in recent years. The Badgers have claimed 10 in a row over the Golden Gophers, including four consecutive games by at least 13 points.


Minnesota at Wisconsin


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

TV Channel: Big Ten Network

Spread: Wisconsin -14


Minnesota’s Key to Victory: Stop Melvin Gordon


Those three words – stop Melvin Gordon – sound really simple. But one look at the stat sheet shows how difficult that has been for opposing teams in 2014. The junior is making a run at the record books with 2,109 yards and 25 touchdowns on 254 attempts. Gordon averages 213.9 rushing yards in conference-only matchups and has not been held below 200 over his last three games. Minnesota’s rush defense is allowing 167.9 yards per game on the ground in conference action. The Golden Gophers held Nebraska to 174 last week but allowed 289 to Ohio State on Nov. 15. In last year’s meeting, Minnesota gave up 197 yards and one score to Wisconsin’s rushing attack. Make no mistake: The Badgers and Gordon are going to get their yards on the ground. However, Minnesota needs to limit the damage and prevent Gordon from breaking big plays.


Wisconsin’s Key to Victory: Limit Turnovers


Minnesota running back David Cobb is questionable due to a hamstring injury. Cobb is the team’s leading rusher this season with 1,430 yards and 12 scores, and if he can’t go, it’s a huge loss for the offense. Quarterback Mitch Leidner is second on the team with 408 yards, with Berkley Edwards, Rodrick Williams and Donnell Kirkwood the next in line as options at running back. Considering Minnesota could be shorthanded at running back, combined with Leidner’s inconsistent play under center, it’s important for Wisconsin to not give the Golden Gophers any advantage in the turnover department. Minnesota ranks second in the Big Ten with 27 forced turnovers and a +11 margin. The Badgers cannot afford to give a shorthanded offense any short fields on Saturday afternoon.


Final Analysis

The breakdown of this game seems pretty simple: Wisconsin has a better defense and rushing attack. If the Badgers establish the run and manages to limit the success of Minnesota’s rushing attack, Wisconsin will pull away in the second half. Leidner’s ability to make plays on the ground could be a huge boost to the Golden Gophers’ upset hopes. On the Badgers’ sideline, Joel Stave and Tanner McEvoy will each see time, and both need to limit their mistakes against an opportunistic defense. Minnesota finds a way to keep this game close into the third quarter. However, Wisconsin is simply a better team, and Gordon clinches the game in the fourth quarter with another huge second-half effort.


Prediction: Wisconsin 31, Minnesota 20
Wisconsin Badgers vs. Minnesota Golden Gophers Game Preview and Prediction 2014
Post date: Friday, November 28, 2014 - 10:00
Path: /college-football/florida-state-seminoles-vs-florida-gators-game-preview-and-prediction-2014

Florida State and Florida enter their annual Sunshine State showdown with different goals in mind. Despite the differences in record and what’s next for both programs, this rivalry matchup will have plenty of intrigue on Saturday afternoon in Doak Campbell Stadium.

Florida State enters this matchup with a 27-game winning streak. The last loss by the Seminoles? Try a 37-26 defeat at the hands of Florida in 2012. But since that game, much has changed for both programs. The Gators are looking for a new coach after Will Muschamp was not retained for 2015, while Florida State is trying to win back-to-back national championships.

The Gators have already clinched bowl eligibility, and with this being Muschamp’s finale game at Florida, expect this team to play hard for their soon-to-be former coach. Florida State has struggled in the first half of games (at times) this year but continues to find ways to win. The Seminoles used a last-second field goal to beat Boston College last week and defeated Miami by four points one week prior.


Florida owns a 34-23-2 series edge over Florida State. However, the recent history in this series favors the Seminoles. Coach Jimbo Fisher’s team has won three out of the last four against the Gators. Florida State won last year’s meeting by a convincing 37-7 margin.


Florida at Florida State


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

TV Channel: ESPN

Spread: Florida State -7.5


Florida’s Key to Victory: Win the Battle Up Front


If Florida wants to spoil Florida State’s unbeaten season, it has to win the battle up front on offense. The Seminoles are not as strong as they were last year in the trenches, as the rush defense allows 148.8 yards per game. In last week’s win over Boston College, Florida State gave up 240 yards and allowed the Eagles to rush for 4.7 yards per carry. The Seminoles will be challenged once again up front, as the strength of Florida’s offense is its rushing attack. The Gators average 201 yards per game in SEC play on the ground and plan to test the Florida State defensive front with two running backs: Matt Jones and Kelvin Taylor. Jones leads the team with 788 yards, but Taylor isn’t far behind with 528 yards. Freshman quarterback Treon Harris is a former Florida State commit that switched to Florida on signing day. Harris hasn’t been asked to do much in the passing game (37 of 68 for 727 yards), but his ability to run (250 yards on 56 attempts) will be a valuable asset for the Gators’ offense. If Florida has success on first and second downs to limit putting Harris in long-yardage situations, then the Gators can control the clock and limit Florida State’s possessions on offense. That’s the best formula for a Florida upset.


Florida State’s Key to Victory: Attack the Florida Secondary


Florida cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III is one of the best in college football. And it’s expected the sophomore will see some snaps against Florida State senior Rashad Greene (83 catches for 1,148 yards and five scores) on Saturday afternoon. However, even with Hargreaves III on their side, the Gators’ pass defense struggled at times in SEC play. Florida was torched by Alabama for 449 yards, Kentucky for 369 yards and Georgia for 319. Total yardage isn’t the best indicator of success or failure by a pass defense, and it’s notable the Gators are fifth in the SEC in pass efficiency defense. The secondary also has help in the form of pressure generated by its front seven, as Florida ranks sixth in the SEC with 25 sacks this year. Even though the Gators are strong up front, if Florida State’s revamped offensive line can provide adequate protection for quarterback Jameis Winston, the sophomore should have opportunities to make big plays against this secondary. Winston threw for 327 yards and three scores against Florida last year and seems to be developing a nice rapport with younger receivers like Jesus Wilson and Travis Rudolph during the second half of the season. And the offense has an emerging star in running back Dalvin Cook to test a Gators’ defense that ranks second in the SEC against the run. Florida State’s keys to victory are pretty clear: Stop the run on defense and let Winston attack downfield against an improving, but potentially vulnerable secondary.


Final Analysis


It isn’t always pretty, but Florida State continues to win games. While style points are important to some, the Seminoles just need to survive and advance. Coach Jimbo Fisher has a relatively young team in spots, including on defense where Florida State is not as dominant as it was last year. Even though Florida is struggling, this is a dangerous spot for the Seminoles. The Gators have the front seven to give Winston and the offensive line trouble, while the rushing attack will test the Florida State defensive front. Expect Florida to play tough for Muschamp and find a way to hang around until the fourth quarter. However, the Seminoles are the better team and the best player on the field is still Winston. Florida State gets it done in the fourth quarter once again and extends its winning streak to 28 games in a row.


Prediction: Florida State 30, Florida 20
Florida State Seminoles vs. Florida Gators Game Preview and Prediction 2014
Post date: Friday, November 28, 2014 - 09:30
Path: /college-football/alabama-crimson-tide-vs-auburn-tigers-game-preview-and-prediction-2014

Alabama and Auburn is one of college football’s top rivalries, and the winner of the last five Iron Bowl matchups has played in the national championship that season. The Crimson Tide could extend that streak to six, as coach Nick Saban’s team was No. 1 in the latest release of the playoff committee rankings. Auburn is out of the playoff picture, but the Tigers can play spoiler against their in-state rival and improve their bowl position in the process.

Alabama enters the Iron Bowl with six wins in a row after losing 23-17 to Ole Miss on Oct. 4. The Crimson Tide defeated Mississippi State on Nov. 15 to take the No. 1 spot in college football’s playoff committee rankings. In addition to the win over the Bulldogs, Saban’s team has quality wins over Arkansas, LSU and a 59-0 shutout victory over Texas A&M. Auburn has lost two out of its last three games, including a 34-7 defeat at the hands of Georgia. The Tigers played for the national championship last year, but a tough road schedule and a struggling defense has been too much for coach Gus Malzahn’s team to overcome.


Alabama owns a 41-30-1 series edge over Auburn. The Crimson Tide has won four out of the last six meetings against the Tigers. However, no team has won more than two in a row in this series since Auburn claimed six consecutive victories from 2002-07.

And of course, we can’t preview Alabama-Auburn without mentioning last year’s crazy “Kick Six” ending to lift the Tigers to the SEC West Championship.


Auburn at Alabama


Kickoff: 7:45 p.m. ET (Saturday)
TV Channel: ESPN
Spread: Alabama -9.5

Auburn’s Key to Victory: Push the Tempo


In last year’s meeting, Auburn averaged 5.8 yards per play and gashed the Crimson Tide for 296 yards on the ground. The Tigers aren’t as stout on the offensive line as they were last year, yet still lead the SEC in rushing offense by averaging 266.2 yards per game. Tre Mason has moved onto the NFL, but Cameron Artis-Payne (1,405 yards, 11 TDs) has proven to be a capable replacement, and quarterback Nick Marshall has 731 rushing yards on 133 attempts. The ability to run between the tackles is a strength of Artis-Payne, but the senior has seven runs of 30 yards or more this season – second in the SEC. In addition to Artis-Payne’s ability to hammer away on the interior, Marshall can make plays on the outside, which is difficult to defend when Auburn establishes its tempo. Alabama’s rush defense has been an immovable object all year. The Crimson Tide limit opponents to just 2.8 yards per carry and have not allowed a rushing touchdown since Oct. 11. Running room could be limited for Auburn, but Malzahn’s offense is going to give the Crimson Tide defense a lot of reads and different looks to find room on the ground. And when Auburn gets first downs, Malzahn will speed up the tempo, allowing the offense to keep Alabama’s defense on the field and out of position. The Tigers need to have success on the ground to setup their offense, but Marshall has to be able to take advantage of opportunities in the passing game. The senior has tossed three of his picks in Auburn’s three losses in 2014. But Marshall will have some additional help on Saturday, as receiver Duke Williams is expected to return from a leg injury suffered against Texas A&M.


Alabama’s Key to Victory: T.J. Yeldon and Derrick Henry


We could list a number of keys to the game for Alabama, but let’s focus on the Crimson Tide running backs. Yeldon has been dealing with injuries to his foot and ankle recently, and the junior did not play against Western Carolina. The extra rest should pay dividends for Yeldon, as Auburn’s rush defense has struggled to stop the run in SEC play. The Tigers rank ninth against the run in conference-only matchups, allowing 177.7 yards per game. Two opponents – Georgia and Mississippi State – also rushed for over 200 yards against Auburn, while Texas A&M averaged five yards per touch in a 41-38 win by the Aggies in Jordan-Hare Stadium. As long as he’s healthy, Yeldon will be the feature back for coordinator Lane Kiffin. But the Tigers will see plenty of Derrick Henry, who averages 5.1 yards per carry on 134 attempts this year. Establishing Henry and Yeldon is critical for Kiffin, as it will help open up passing opportunities downfield for receiver Amari Cooper. Quarterback Blake Sims has tossed only two picks at home, and the Sims-Cooper connection will be a handful for an Auburn secondary ranked 10th in the SEC in pass efficiency defense. 


Final Analysis


Never count out the underdog in a rivalry matchup. Alabama will get Auburn’s best shot, but the Crimson Tide defend home turf and reclaim bragging rights within the state for the next year. The Tigers should have some success moving the ball with their up-tempo attack. However, Alabama’s defense stops Auburn in the redzone and on third downs to prevent the Tigers from pulling off the upset. The Crimson Tide’s offense has been better at home than in road contests. Sims connects with Cooper a few times, and Yeldon and Henry pound away on the ground to push Alabama to victory.


Prediction: Alabama 34, Auburn 24
Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Auburn Tigers Game Preview and Prediction 2014
Post date: Friday, November 28, 2014 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: ACC, College Football, Virginia Cavaliers, News
Path: /college-football/mike-london-will-return-virginias-coach-2015

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. 

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

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
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

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
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

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
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

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.

Listen to the Rivalry Week predictions podcast:

Subscribe: iTunes | Stitcher

2. South Carolina at Clemson (-4.5)

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

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



ACC Week 14 Preview and Predictions
Post date: Wednesday, November 26, 2014 - 09:00
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-post-week-13-playoff-projection

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),
Teddy Mitrosilis (@TMitrosilis), Fox Sports

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

Post-Week 13 Playoff Projection

RankTeam 12345678Total
2Florida State651000000143
4Mississippi State00213240097
5Baylor 00031232177
7Ohio State00002414149

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
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
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
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
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

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

College Football's Post-Week 13 Playoff Projection
Post date: Tuesday, November 25, 2014 - 10:10
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-post-week-13-bowl-projections-2014

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
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.
 Boise State vs.
Famous Idaho PotatoDec. 20MAC vs.
Mountain West
 Bowling Green vs.
CamelliaDec. 20MAC vs.
Sun Belt
 Toledo vs.
Arkansas State 
Miami BeachDec. 22American vs.
 East Carolina vs.
Boca RatonDec. 23

C-USA vs.

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

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

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.  

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

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.

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
Path: /college-football/virginia-wr-canaan-severin-makes-nifty-one-handed-td-catch-against-miami

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:



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
Path: /college-football/oregon-wr-darren-carrington-makes-tricky-catch-against-colorado-deflection

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:


Oregon WR Darren Carrington Makes Catch Against Colorado on Crazy Deflection
Post date: Saturday, November 22, 2014 - 20:09