Articles By Steven Lassan

Path: /college-football/mac-championship-preview-and-prediction-bowling-green-vs-northern-illinois-2014
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Bowling Green and Northern Illinois meet for the second consecutive year in Detroit for the MAC Championship Game. The stakes are a little lower in this season’s matchup, as the Huskies entered last year's game undefeated and had a chance at a marquee bowl. However, the Falcons used a huge performance from quarterback Matt Johnson to end Northern Illinois’ unbeaten season. Much has changed about both programs since last season, as the Huskies had to replace standout quarterback Jordan Lynch and Dino Babers was hired from Eastern Illinois to replace Dave Clawson, who left to be the head coach at Wake Forest.

 

Bowling Green owns an 11-7 series edge over Northern Illinois. The Falcons snapped a three-game losing streak to the Huskies in last year’s MAC Championship. These two teams have played only once in the regular season since 2011. This is the second meeting between Northern Illinois and Bowling Green in the MAC Championship.

 

Bowling Green vs. Northern Illinois

 

Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET (Friday)

TV Channel: ESPN2

Spread: Northern Illinois -6.5

 

Bowling Green’s Key to Victory: Get QB James Knapke Back on Track

Bowling Green is just 2-3 over its last five games, and a big problem during that span has been the play of its quarterbacks. Of course, any discussion about the Falcons’ passing attack has to rewind back to the season opener. Starter Matt Johnson suffered a season-ending injury against Western Kentucky, and Knapke – a sophomore from Indiana – has been pressed into the starting role. Knapke has the keys to a potent offense, as first-year coach Dino Babers preaches a “falcon fast” approach, and Bowling Green has ran the most plays in the MAC this season. Knapke has just two touchdown passes in his last four games and passed for just 71 yards against Toledo and 140 against Ball State. The sophomore has a solid group of receivers at his disposal, and running back Travis Greene returned from injury to rush for 159 yards and a score in the season finale. The playmakers are there for Babers. However, the Bowling Green offense won’t get on track without a solid performance from Knapke.

 

Northern Illinois’ Key to Victory: Establish the Run
The Huskies rank second in the MAC with an average of 246.2 rushing yards per game. Quarterback Drew Hare leads the squad with 790 yards, but there’s a cast of running backs available to contribute. The best of the bunch is Cameron Stingily (4.9 ypc), and Joel Bouagnon and Akeem Daniels also help contribute to the ground attack. The effectiveness of the rush attack has fueled the Northern Illinois offense this season, as the passing game ranks 12th in the MAC with an average of 187.2 yards per game. Hare has tossed 15 touchdown passes to just one interception in 2014, but it’s clear this offense isn’t as explosive through the air as it was under Lynch. And leaning on the rushing attack on Friday night is ideal with a Bowling Green defense ranked 10th in the MAC against the run. The Falcons allowed 325 rushing yards to Toledo and 199 to Ball State. The opportunity is there with a veteran offensive line and talented group of rushers for Northern Illinois to control the time of possession and pound away at the Falcons’ defense.

 

Final Analysis

 

Revenge should be on the mind of Northern Illinois. The Huskies had a chance to play in a marquee bowl last season, but the Falcons pulled off an upset in last year’s MAC title game. If Northern Illinois establishes its ground attack and continues to take care of the ball (10 lost turnovers in 2014), coach Rod Carey’s team will claim its third conference championship in four years. The Huskies rank sixth in the MAC against the run, which should allow Bowling Green to use Greene and the rest of the backfield to take some of the pressure off of quarterback James Knapke. The Falcons fall short of winning back-to-back MAC titles, as Northern Illinois gets revenge from last year’s loss.

 

Prediction: Northern Illinois 30, Bowling Green 20

Teaser:
MAC Championship Preview and Prediction: Bowling Green vs. Northern Illinois
Post date: Thursday, December 4, 2014 - 15:15
Path: /college-football/sec-championship-preview-and-prediction-alabama-vs-missouri
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Alabama and Missouri have met only once as SEC members, but there’s no shortage of familiarity between the two programs, as the Tigers and Crimson Tide are set to met in the SEC Championship game on Saturday afternoon. Alabama coach Nick Saban and Missouri coach Gary Pinkel played under Don James at Kent State and both spent time as graduate assistants with the Golden Flashes to begin their coaching career.

 

But on Saturday, the focus isn’t on the coaching background of Pinkel and Saban, as both teams have plenty to play for in Atlanta. With a win over Missouri, Alabama would solidify its spot in the playoffs and should be the No. 1 overall seed heading into the four-team tournament. The Tigers are No. 16 in the latest committee rankings, which makes a spot in college football’s playoff unlikely. However, Missouri can improve its bowl positioning with a victory over the Crimson Tide. And of course, the chance to win the SEC title is more than enough for the Tigers to be ready for the matchup in Atlanta.
 

The overall series between Alabama and Missouri is tied at two games apiece. The Crimson Tide has won the last two meetings, while the Tigers claimed the first two matchups. Missouri’s wins against Alabama occurred in 1968 and 1975, while the Crimson Tide has won the only matchup between these two programs as SEC members (42-10 in 2012).

Championship Week Previews and Predictions:
ACCBig 12Big TenPac-12

 

Missouri vs. Alabama

 

Kickoff: 4 p.m. ET (Saturday)

TV Channel: CBS

Spread: Alabama -14.5

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. Missouri’s Defensive Line

Despite the departure of two of last year’s standout defensive linemen (Michael Sam and Kony Ealy), Missouri hasn’t missed a beat up front. This group is arguably one of the best in the nation and is headlined by the defensive end pairing of Markus Golden and Shane Ray. The duo has combined for 22 sacks and four forced fumbles this season and rank among the top five tacklers on the team. Alabama’s offensive line may not be as dominant as it was in previous years, but this group is still one of the best in the SEC. The Crimson Tide has allowed only 11 sacks this season and led the way for rushers for average 5.1 yards per carry. Running backs T.J. Yeldon and Derrick Henry have combined for 1,639 yards and 16 touchdowns this year, and despite the emergence of quarterback Blake Sims, Alabama’s offense still revolves around its ground attack. Missouri needs Golden and Ray to create havoc on passing downs, while being tough at the point of attack against the run. In SEC-only matchups, the Tigers led the conference by limiting opponents to just 115 yards on the ground. Of course, it’s easy to poke holes in Missouri’s defensive statistics, as the East Division was the weaker side of the SEC. Indiana, Georgia and Arkansas each rushed for more than 150 yards against this defense. While Golden and Ray are a force off the edge, the Tigers need a big game from tackles Matt Hoch, Lucas Vincent, Harold Brantley and Josh Augusta on the interior. Alabama left tackle Cam Robinson suffered a shoulder injury in the win over Auburn. If Robinson is less than full strength, that’s an opportunity for Golden and Ray to generate pressure on quarterback Blake Sims.

 

Listen to the Championship Week predictions podcast:



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2. Stopping Amari Cooper

In order to pull off the upset, Missouri’s defensive front has to control the pace of the game. If the Tigers get to quarterback Blake Sims, that’s less time the senior has to scan the field and find standout receiver Amari Cooper. The junior has 103 receptions for 1,573 yards and 14 scores through 12 games and is the best receiver Missouri has played in 2014. The Tigers may not have an elite, shutdown cornerback, but coordinator Dave Steckel has a solid overall group. Missouri ranks 25th nationally in pass efficiency defense and limited opposing offenses to just 13 passing scores in SEC games this season. Junior Kenya Dennis or sophomore Aarion Penton will attempt to cover Cooper, but the Tigers could also rely on safety help from Braylon Webb or Ian Simon. Regardless of which defenders line up against Cooper, this is not an easy matchup for Missouri.

 

3. Missouri’s Offense

The 2014 version of Missouri’s offense isn’t as explosive or potent as the 2013 version. Last season, the Tigers averaged 39.1 points per game but that number has dipped to 28.6 in 2014. In addition to the drop in scoring, Missouri’s per-play average has dropped from 6.6 (2013) to 5.3 (2014). Pinpointing the reason for the drop in production is due to a couple of factors, but the Tigers have a balanced attack (2,112 rushing yards, 2,279 passing yards) and are one of the best in the SEC in turnover margin. Quarterback Maty Mauk has experienced his share of ups and downs in his first year as the starter but is coming off his highest passing performance in SEC play (265) yards and has tossed only two picks in Missouri’s last five games. Running back Russell Hansbrough suffered an ankle injury in last week’s win over Arkansas but is expected to play. Hansbrough’s health is critical to the offense, as the Tigers need balance in order to knock off Alabama. The Crimson Tide has been tough to run against all year and has allowed only three scores on the ground all season. Mauk should have opportunities to hit receiver Bud Sasser on big passing plays if Alabama continues to have its share of inconsistent play at cornerback. This is a tough matchup for Missouri’s offense, and considering the Crimson Tide’s elite run defense, the Tigers may need to throw more on Saturday to win. Is Mauk up to the task?

 

Final Analysis

 

Missouri has exceeded preseason expectations once again. The Tigers were picked by most to finish third or fourth in the East this year, but coach Gary Pinkel’s team reached Atlanta for the second consecutive season. While Missouri has reeled off six consecutive wins since a 34-0 loss to Georgia, this is the toughest opponent Pinkel’s squad will play in 2014. Alabama has its weaknesses, but the offense is coming off a huge performance against Auburn, and the defense has been stingy all season. The Crimson Tide enter Saturday’s game nearly a two-touchdown favorite. Can Missouri surprise once again? Or will Alabama win and clinch a playoff spot in the process?

 

SEC Championship Game Predictions
 David
Fox
Braden
Gall
Steven
Lassan
Mitch
Light
Missouri (+14.5) vs. AlabamaAlabama
38-14
Alabama
38-27
Alabama
34-17
Alabama
34-17
Last Week:5-47-26-36-3
Season Record:83-2888-2387-2489-22

 

Teaser:
SEC Championship Preview and Prediction: Alabama vs. Missouri
Post date: Thursday, December 4, 2014 - 09:00
Path: /college-football/acc-championship-preview-and-prediction-florida-state-vs-georgia-tech-2014
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Florida State and Georgia Tech meet for the second time in three seasons in the ACC Championship, and both programs head into this matchup with plenty at stake. The Seminoles have won 28 games in a row and need a victory to stay in the mix for a spot in college football’s new four-team playoff format. The Yellow Jackets are in the driver’s seat to make an appearance in the Orange Bowl if Florida State makes the four-team playoff, and coach Paul Johnson’s team may still land there even with a loss on Saturday night.

 

It’s been a rebound year for Georgia Tech after going 14-13 in the two previous seasons. The Yellow Jackets won 10 games, including key rivalry matchups against Clemson and Georgia. Johnson was named ACC Coach of the Year for Georgia Tech’s success in 2014, and the seventh-year coach has the program poised to finish in the final Associated Press poll for the first time since 2009.


On the other sideline, Florida State isn’t as dominant as it was in 2013, but the Seminoles are still one of the best teams in the nation. Coach Jimbo Fisher’s team enters the ACC Championship with three consecutive wins by five points or less, and the Seminoles have solid road wins over Miami and Louisville, along with a neutral site affair against Oklahoma State.

 

Florida State owns a 13-9-1 series edge over Georgia Tech. The Seminoles won 12 consecutive games against the Yellow Jackets from 1992-03. Georgia Tech won back-to-back matchups in 2008-09, but Florida State won the last meeting between these two teams in 2012 in a 21-15 victory in the ACC Championship. 

Championship Week Previews and Predictions:
Big 12 | Big Ten | Pac-12 | SEC

 

Georgia Tech vs. Florida State

 

Kickoff: 8 p.m. ET (Saturday)

TV Channel: ABC

Spread: Florida State -4

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. Florida State’s Run Defense
Stopping Georgia Tech’s option offense is going to be a handful for Florida State’s defense, especially on just one week to prepare. The Seminoles do have some experience against the option this year, as they played FCS opponent Citadel and allowed 250 rushing yards on 56 attempts. In eight ACC contests, Florida State allowed 133.6 rushing yards per game and limited opponents to 3.5 yards per carry. Anytime a defense matches up against an option attack, it’s important to play assignment football. Of course, that’s easier said than done, especially after Florida State’s defensive line was banged up in the win over Citadel. Facing a team that uses cut blocks is not something defensive linemen particularly enjoy, but the Seminoles have the talent to win the battle at the line of scrimmage. Defensive tackle Eddie Goldman and end Mario Edwards Jr. earned All-ACC honors this season and are two of the best players against the run in the ACC. Georgia Tech’s leading rusher is quarterback Justin Thomas (861 yards), but B-backs Zach Laskey and Synjyn Days will do the heavy lifting on the ground. Laskey averages five yards per carry, while Days has a 5.9 mark in 12 games. Thomas doesn’t throw it often, but he averages 17.8 yards per completion. Even though receiver DeAndre Smelter is out due to a knee injury, if Thomas, Days and Laskey produce on the ground, it should open up downfield passing opportunities for the passing game. If Florida State limits Georgia Tech’s big plays on the ground, it will extend its winning streak to 29 games.

 

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2. Turnover Battle
Florida State knows every possession against Georgia Tech is going to be valuable. The Yellow Jackets dominate the time of possession (averaging 34:02 per game), which limits the overall opportunities by the other offense. In the Seminoles’ win over Florida, they recorded 13 possessions (including end of half kneel downs). Against Citadel, Florida State had only nine offensive possessions. In addition to its ability to control the clock and limit offensive possessions, Georgia Tech has the best turnover margin in the ACC (+11) and has generated 27 takeaways this year. On the flipside, Florida State has been generous with giving the ball away, as it has lost 27 turnovers in 12 games. In last week’s win over Florida, the Seminoles lost four turnovers and still managed to win. However, against the Yellow Jackets, Florida State cannot afford to have a similar performance in the turnover department. It’s pretty simple to see Georgia Tech’s formula for a win on Saturday night: Control the clock and keep quarterback Jameis Winston on the sideline and win the turnover battle. If the Yellow Jackets are +2 or +3 in turnover margin on Saturday night, there’s a good chance Johnson’s team hoists the ACC trophy.

 

3. Georgia Tech’s Defense

Even if Georgia Tech’s offense has success against Florida State’s defense, will the Yellow Jackets get stops against the Seminoles? Statistically, Georgia Tech’s defense has struggled in 2014. The Yellow Jackets rank 13th in the ACC in yards per play allowed (6.1) and seventh in points allowed (24.1 ppg). This unit also ranks low in the conference in sacks (18 – 12th in the ACC) and struggled to get off the field on third downs. However, this unit played better in the second half of the season, limiting Clemson to just six points on Nov. 15, held Georgia to 24 points after the Bulldogs entered the season finale by scoring at least 34 points in their last three games and has forced 17 turnovers over the last five games. Despite their recent performance, the Yellow Jackets are going to have their hands full on Saturday night. Florida State’s offense averages 34.6 points per game and is third in the ACC by recording 6.3 yards per play. Quarterback Jameis Winston has tossed 17 picks this year, but the sophomore is still one of the best passers in the nation and is capable of carrying this offense to another national title. Winston has plenty of help from his supporting cast, which includes standout receiver Rashad Greene (86 catches) and a rising star in freshman running back Dalvin Cook (5.9 ypc). If Winston limits his mistakes, and Florida State doesn’t turn the ball over against an opportunistic defense, all signs point to the Seminoles being able to move the ball – and rather successfully.

 

Final Analysis

 

The star power in this matchup is clearly with Florida State. Winston, Cook and Greene are capable of scoring 30-40 points if the Seminoles don’t make careless mistakes with the ball. On the defensive side, Georgia Tech’s option offense on a week to prepare is going to be tough for the Seminoles. Keep an eye on third downs – can Florida State put the Yellow Jackets in long-yardage situations? The worst scenario for the Seminoles would be for Georgia Tech’s offense to dominate time of possession and win the turnover battle. Will Florida State clinch a playoff spot and win its third ACC title in three years? Or will the Yellow Jackets spoil the Seminoles’ unbeaten season and win its first ACC title since 2009.

 

ACC Championship Predictions
 David
Fox
Braden
Gall
Steven
Lassan
Mitch 
Light
FSU (-4) vs. GTFSU 35-28FSU 34-31FSU 31-27GT 31-30
Last Week:4-56-35-45-4
Season Record:82-3083-2983-2980-32

 

Teaser:
ACC Championship Preview and Prediction: Florida State vs. Georgia Tech
Post date: Thursday, December 4, 2014 - 09:00
Path: /college-football/8-coaching-candidates-replace-brady-hoke-michigan
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Michigan is the second Big Ten coaching position to open this offseason, as coach Brady Hoke was fired on Tuesday. Hoke went 31-20 in four seasons with the Wolverines, including an 11-2 record in 2011. However, since leading Michigan to a Sugar Bowl appearance and winning 11 games, the Wolverines are just 20-18 and missed out on a bowl in 2014.

 

Hoke was hailed as a “Michigan Man” when he was hired in 2011. Will the Wolverines look for a “Michigan Man” and hire Les Miles or Jim Harbaugh? Or will outside names appeal to interim athletic director Jim Hackett?

 

8 Candidates to Replace Brady Hoke at Michigan

 

Steve Addazio, head coach, Boston College

Addazio wouldn’t be a splashy, name hire like Jim Harbaugh or Les Miles, but he’s a good coach that would win a lot of games at Michigan. In two years at Boston College, Addazio is 14-11 and has recorded a .500 record in conference play in both seasons. Prior to taking over in Chestnut Hill, Addazio spent two years at Temple and went 13-11 during that span. Before taking over the top spot at Temple, Addazio coached at Florida from 2005-10 under Urban Meyer, spent three years at Indiana (2002-04) and also had stops at Notre Dame and Syracuse. Addazio’s style of play and emphasis on toughness would fit in well in the Big Ten.

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 and Nebraska. Is he really interested in leaving his alma mater? That’s the big question with Gundy.
 

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



Subscribe: iTunes | Stitcher

 

Jim Harbaugh, head coach, San Francisco 49ers

Harbaugh would be a home run hire for Michigan. But does he want to leave the NFL? Harbaugh played at Michigan from 1983-87 and has been a successful coach at three different jobs. Harbaugh went 29-6 in three years at San Diego, 29-21 in four seasons with Stanford and is 43-16-1 with the 49ers. While Harbaugh is certainly in play at his alma mater, staying in the NFL is also a possibility. If Harbaugh wants to come back to Michigan, he should be Michigan’s No. 1 target.

 

Jerry Kill, head coach, Minnesota

Kill wouldn’t be the flashiest of hires, but he’s a proven coach at five college jobs. The Kansas native is 25-25 in four seasons with the Golden Gophers, which includes a 9-7 mark in Big Ten play over the last two years. Prior to taking over at Minnesota, Kill spent two years at Northern Illinois (23-16), seven seasons at Southern Illinois (55-32), went 11-11 at Emporia State and 38-14 at Saginaw Valley State (1994-98). While Kill has a good job at Minnesota, Michigan is one of the elite coaching jobs in college football. Wouldn’t necessarily move the needle nationally, but Kill would win a lot of games in Ann Arbor.

 

Les Miles, head coach, LSU
If Jim Harbaugh is the No. 1 candidate at Michigan, then Miles should be a close No. 2 or 1b. The Ohio native played under Bo Schembechler in Ann Arbor and coached at Michigan as an assistant from 1980-81 and 1987-94. Miles left Ann Arbor for Oklahoma State in 1995 and was elevated to head coach after a three-year stint with the Dallas Cowboys in 2000. From 2001-04, Miles guided Oklahoma State to a 28-21 record with three bowl appearances. Miles took over at LSU in 2005 and is 103-28 during his tenure in Baton Rouge.

 

Jim McElwain, head coach, Colorado State

McElwain is believed to be one of the frontrunners to replace Will Muschamp at Florida. But if he doesn’t land the job in Gainesville, the Montana native should be in the mix at Michigan. McElwain coached at Alabama under Nick Saban from 2008-11 and has previous experience as an assistant at Fresno State, Michigan State, Louisville and in the NFL with the Raiders. McElwain has thrived at Colorado State after a 4-8 mark in his first season, guiding the Rams to an 8-6 record and a bowl appearance in 2013 and a 10-2 mark in 2014.

 

Dan Mullen, head coach, Mississippi State

Mullen has spent the past six seasons at Mississippi State, recording a 46-30 record during that span. The Bulldogs also recorded four consecutive bowl appearances and will extend that streak to five in 2014. While coaching in the SEC is an attractive destination for all coaches, Mississippi State is one of the toughest jobs in the SEC. Mullen elevated the Bulldogs into playoff contention this season and led the program to a 10-2 record, which was its first season of double-digit wins since 1999. Prior to Mississippi State, Mullen worked as Urban Meyer’s offensive coordinator at Florida from 2005-08 and worked under Meyer at Bowling Green (2001-02) and Utah (2003-04) as an assistant. Mullen is clearly capable of winning at a high level. And it’s much easier to win at Michigan than in the brutal SEC West.  

 

Greg Schiano, former Rutgers/Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach
Schiano has been out of coaching since he was fired at the end of the 2013 season in Tampa Bay. In two years with the Buccaneers, Schiano was just 11-21. However, Schiano was a successful college coach, recording a 68-67 mark at Rutgers from 2001-11. While his record was barely over .500, Schiano inherited a struggling program and transformed the Scarlet Knights into a consistent winner. Prior to his stint with Rutgers, Schiano worked as an assistant at Miami.

 

Longshots

 

Pat Fitzgerald, head coach, Northwestern
Fitzgerald turned down Michigan in 2011. Would he be interested in leaving after a 5-7 record at Northwestern in 2014?

 

Pep Hamilton, offensive coordinator, Indianapolis Colts

A name to remember in future seasons, as Hamilton has helped mentor Andrew Luck over the last few years in Indianapolis (and at Stanford).

 

John Harbaugh, head coach, Baltimore Ravens

If Jim won’t leave the NFL, would John Harbaugh be an option?
 

Tom Herman, offensive coordinator, Ohio State

A rising star in the coaching ranks but needs a chance to run another program before jumping to a Power 5 job.

 

Butch Jones, head coach, Tennessee

Jones is a Michigan native but is reportedly not a candidate at Michigan.

 

Pat Narduzzi, defensive coordinator, Michigan State

Would be an excellent choice, but Narduzzi would be unlikely to leave Michigan State for Michigan.

Teaser:
8 Coaching Candidates to Replace Brady Hoke at Michigan
Post date: Tuesday, December 2, 2014 - 16:34
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-post-week-14-playoff-projection
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College football’s playoff committee has released four sets of rankings, and the debate about the top four teams will continue every week until the final matchups are released. While the top 25 rankings are expected to change each week and will look drastically different from the release of the first poll to the last one, the playoff committee's poll provided some insight into the process.

 

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

 

Expert Panel

 

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

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


Post-Week 14 Playoff Projection

RankTeam 12345678Total
1Alabama164100000162
2Oregon211800000141
3Florida State361110000137
4TCU 00111810096
5Baylor0009750088
6Ohio State00006150069
7Arizona0000008824
8Mississippi State0000007620
9Michigan State0000004614
10TWisconsin000000102
10TMissouri000000102
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
Noon ET, ESPN

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

Teaser:
College Football's Post-Week 14 Playoff Projection
Post date: Tuesday, December 2, 2014 - 10:20
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-post-week-14-bowl-projections-2014
Body:

The final week of the 2014 college football season has arrived, and the bowl and national title picture is starting to clear. The playoff committee will release its sixth set of rankings on Tuesday this week, and there’s one more poll coming from the committee next Sunday after the Week 15 action.

 

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 14 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.
 

Teams on the projection bubble and missing our projections this week: Oklahoma State, MTSU, Temple, UAB and Ohio. 
 

College Football's Post-Week 14 Bowl Projections
BowlDateTie-InProjection
New OrleansDec. 20Sun Belt vs.
Mountain West
 UL Lafayette vs.
Air Force 
New MexicoDec. 20C-USA vs.
Mountain West
 UTEP vs.
Utah State 
Las VegasDec. 20Mountain West vs.
Pac-12
 Colorado State vs.
Stanford 
Famous Idaho PotatoDec. 20MAC vs.
Mountain West
 Bowling Green vs.
Nevada 
CamelliaDec. 20MAC vs.
Sun Belt
 Central Michigan vs.
South Alabama 
Miami BeachDec. 22American vs.
BYU
Cincinnati vs.
BYU 
Boca RatonDec. 23C-USA vs.
MAC
 Marshall vs.
Toledo 
PoinsettiaDec. 23Mountain West vs.
Navy
 San Diego State vs.
Navy 
BahamasDec. 24C-USA vs.
MAC
 Western Kentucky vs.
Western Michigan 
HawaiiDec. 24C-USA vs. 
Mountain West
 Rice vs.
Fresno State 
Heart of DallasDec. 26Big Ten vs.
C-USA
 Rutgers vs.
Louisiana Tech 
Quick LaneDec. 26ACC vs. 
Big Ten
 Virginia Tech vs.
Illinois 
St. PetersburgDec. 26ACC vs.
American
 Miami vs.
UCF 
MilitaryDec. 27ACC vs.
American
 NC State vs.
East Carolina 
SunDec. 27ACC vs.
Pac-12
 Duke vs.
Utah 
IndependenceDec. 27ACC vs.
SEC
 North Carolina vs.
Texas A&M 
PinstripeDec. 27ACC vs.
Big Ten
 Boston College vs.
Penn State 
HolidayDec. 27Big Ten vs.
Pac-12
 Nebraska vs.
USC 
LibertyDec. 29SEC vs.
Big 12
 Tennessee vs.
West Virginia 
Russell AthleticDec. 29ACC vs.
Big 12
 Clemson vs.
Kansas State 
TexasDec. 29Big 12 vs.
SEC
 Texas vs.
Arkansas 
Music CityDec. 30ACC/Big Ten vs.
SEC
 Maryland vs.
Auburn 
BelkDec. 30ACC vs.
SEC
 Notre Dame vs.
South Carolina 
San FranciscoDec. 30Big Ten vs.
Pac-12
 Iowa vs.
Arizona State 
OutbackJan. 1Big Ten vs.
SEC
 Minnesota vs.
Georgia 
CitrusJan. 1Big Ten/ACC vs.
SEC
 Wisconsin vs.
Missouri 
Armed ForcesJan. 2American vs.
Big 12/Army
 Houston vs.
Pittsburgh* 
TaxslayerJan. 2ACC/Big Ten vs.
SEC
 Louisville vs.
LSU 
AlamoJan. 2Big 12 vs.
Pac-12
 Oklahoma vs.
UCLA 
TicketCity CactusJan. 2Big 12 vs.
Pac-12
 Washington vs.
Texas State* 
BirminghamJan. 3American vs.
SEC
 Memphis vs.
Florida 
GoDaddyJan. 4MAC vs.
Sun Belt
 Northern Illinois vs.
Arkansas State 
    
New Year's Bowls
PeachDec. 31At-large vs.
At-large
 Ohio State vs.
Ole Miss 
FiestaDec. 31At-large vs.
At-large
 Boise State vs.
Arizona 
OrangeDec. 31ACC vs.
Big Ten/SEC/ND
 Georgia Tech vs.
Mississippi State 
CottonJan. 1At-large vs.
At-large
 TCU vs.
Michigan State 
    
Related: Projecting the Playoff Teams After Week 14
RoseJan. 1Playoff 
Semifinal
 Oregon vs.
Florida State 
SugarJan. 1Playoff 
Semifinal
 Alabama vs.
Baylor 
National TitleJan. 12Semifinal Winner vs.
Semifinal Winner
 Alabama vs.
Florida State 

Bold indicates team has accepted bowl bid.

* Indicates conference is not expected to fill all of its allotted tie-ins.

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

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?



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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. 

Teaser:
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
Body:

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.

 

Teaser:
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
Body:

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.

Teaser:
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
Body:

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.

 

Teaser:
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
Body:

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.

 

Teaser:
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
Body:

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. 

Teaser:
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
Body:

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. 

Teaser:
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
Body:

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:

Teaser:
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
Body:

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: 

 

 

Teaser:
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
Body:

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
Teaser:
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
Body:

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
Teaser:
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
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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
Teaser:
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
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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
Teaser:
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
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Mike London will return as Virginia’s coach in 2015. The school announced the news on Wednesday, just a few days before the Cavaliers’ rivalry matchup against Virginia Tech.

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

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

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

Teaser:
Mike London Will Return as Virginia's Coach in 2015
Post date: Wednesday, November 26, 2014 - 16:09
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Arkansas and Missouri are set to meet as SEC opponents for the first time on Friday, and there’s plenty at stake between these two border rivals. The Razorbacks are one of the SEC’s hottest teams entering Week 14 after back-to-back wins over Ole Miss and LSU. The Tigers have won five in a row and can clinch the SEC East title with a win over Arkansas.

 

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

 

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

 

Arkansas at Missouri

 

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

TV Channel: CBS

Spread: Arkansas -2

 

Arkansas’ Key to Victory: Test the Missouri Run Defense

 

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

 

Missouri’s Key to Victory: Win the Turnover Battle

 

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

 

Final Analysis

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

TCU at Texas

 

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

TV Channel: Fox Sports 1

Spread: TCU -6.5

 

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

 

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

 

Texas’ Key to Victory: QB Tyrone Swoopes

 

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

 

Final Analysis

 

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

 

Prediction: TCU 27, Texas 24
Teaser:
Texas Longhorns vs. TCU Horned Frogs Game Preview and Prediction
Post date: Wednesday, November 26, 2014 - 14:20
Path: /college-football/lsu-tigers-vs-texas-am-aggies-game-preview-and-prediction-2014
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Texas A&M and LSU meet for the third time as SEC opponents in a Thanksgiving night matchup at Kyle Field. The Aggies and Tigers enter the regular season finale at 7-4 and 3-4 in conference play. Both teams have spent time in the top 25 and a win on Thursday night would nudge either back into contention for next week’s rankings.

 

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

 

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

 

LSU at Texas A&M

 

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

TV Channel: ESPN

Spread: LSU -3

 

LSU’s Key to Victory: Establish the Run

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Final Analysis

 

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

 

Prediction: LSU 27, Texas A&M 20
Teaser:
LSU Tigers vs. Texas A&M Aggies Game Preview and Prediction 2014
Post date: Wednesday, November 26, 2014 - 13:00
Path: /college-football/acc-2014-week-14-preview-and-predictions
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The stakes are high for the ACC in Week 14. The Florida State-Florida matchup has lost some of its national appeal with the Gators hovering around .500, but the Seminoles need to win to stay alive for a spot in college football’s four-team playoff.

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

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


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


ACC Week 14 Game Power Rankings

 

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


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

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


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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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


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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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


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

ACC Week 14 Predictions

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

 

 

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

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

 

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

 

Expert Panel

 

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

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


Post-Week 13 Playoff Projection

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

Takeaways From Expert Poll Results

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Group of 5 Rankings

 

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

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


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

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

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

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

4. Memphis

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

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

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

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

 

Games With Playoff/Bowl Implications in Week 14


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Michigan at Ohio State
Noon ET, ABC

Georgia Tech at Georgia
Noon ET, SEC Network

South Carolina at Clemson
Noon ET, ESPN

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Teaser:
College Football's Post-Week 13 Playoff Projection
Post date: Tuesday, November 25, 2014 - 10:10

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