Articles By Steven Lassan

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California has significantly improved in Sonny Dykes’ second year, and the offense behind quarterback Jared Goff is one of the best in the Pac-12.

Goff and Chris Harper have developed a nice rapport over the last two years, and Harper kept California’s offense on track against UCLA by catching this ridiculous one-handed touchdown pass in the first half.

Check out Harper’s touchdown catch from Week 8:

 

 

Teaser:
California WR Chris Harper Makes One-Handed TD Catch Against UCLA
Post date: Saturday, October 18, 2014 - 18:11
Path: /college-football/west-virginia-wr-kevin-white-makes-awesome-one-handed-td-catch-against-baylor
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West Virginia shook up the Big 12 standings by defeating Baylor 41-27 on Saturday. The Mountaineers knocked off the Bears thanks to the prolific combination of quarterback Clint Trickett and receiver Kevin White.

Trickett threw for 322 yards, while White caught eight passes for 132 yards and two scores.

White has topped 100 receiving yards in every game this year and is clearly one of the nation’s top receivers.

Check out the senior’s awesome one-handed grab to give West Virginia a 34-27 lead in the fourth quarter:

 

Teaser:
West Virginia WR Kevin White Makes Awesome One-Handed TD Catch Against Baylor
Post date: Saturday, October 18, 2014 - 17:39
Path: /college-football/tulane-qb-nick-montana-mistakenly-spikes-ball-fourth-down
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Quarterback Nick Montana and the Tulane coaching staff had a massive fail in the first half of Saturday’s game against UCF.

The Green Wave were attempting to get a field goal before the end of the quarter, and with time winding down, Montana spiked the ball to give his team a chance for points. However, there's just one problem: Montana spiked the ball on fourth down, ending any hope Tulane had of getting points.

Remember FAU doing this last year against Miami?
 

Teaser:
Tulane QB Nick Montana Spikes Ball on Fourth Down
Post date: Saturday, October 18, 2014 - 15:12
Path: /college-football/south-carolina-rb-mike-davis-delivers-punishing-stiff-arm-against-furman
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Running back Mike Davis helped to lead an easy win for South Carolina against Furman on Saturday, and the junior topped 100 yards and reached the endzone twice in the first half.

Davis also delivered a highlight-reel run in the first half, which included a monster stiff arm to a Furman defender. 

Teaser:
South Carolina RB Mike Davis Delivers Punishing Stiff Arm Against Furman
Post date: Saturday, October 18, 2014 - 14:45
Path: /college-football/oregon-ducks-vs-washington-huskies-game-preview-and-prediction-2014
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Washington and Oregon are technically rivals, as less than five hours and 300 miles separate the two Pacific Northwest campuses. But the recent history of this rivalry has been significantly in favor of the Ducks. Oregon has won 10 in a row over the Huskies, with Washington’s last win in this series coming in 2003.

With the recent series in mind, it’s no surprise Oregon is almost a three-touchdown favorite over Washington. However, Saturday’s game represents an opportunity for both teams to make a statement. The Ducks can solidify their place at the top of the Pac-12 with a convincing win, while the Huskies can score a statement victory in coach Chris Petersen’s first year with an upset in Eugene.


And with a win on Saturday, Washington can bring some spark to a rivalry that has been significantly one-sided in favor of the Ducks.
 

Washington at Oregon


Kickoff: 8 p.m. ET (Saturday)
TV Channel: Fox Sports 1
Spread: Washington -20.5


Three Things to Watch


1. Oregon’s Offensive Line vs. Washington Front Seven
Did the Ducks fix their issues on the offensive line last week? In the 42-30 win over UCLA, the offensive line was bolstered by the return of tackle Jake Fisher, as the Bruins did not register a sack, and Oregon’s rushers averaged 6.3 yards per carry. Was that a one-game fix or a sign of things to come? Fisher is a valuable addition to the lineup to protect quarterback Marcus Mariota’s blindside, but UCLA’s pass rush ranks near the bottom of the Pac-12. Washington’s defensive front has recorded 24 sacks through six games and is headlined by linebacker Shaq Thompson (46 tackles, 1 INT, 3 FF), defensive tackle Danny Shelton (49 tackles, 7 sacks) and defensive end/linebacker Hau’oli Kikaha (10 sacks). Stopping UCLA’s defensive front is one challenge, but Washington has one of the best defensive line and linebacking corps in the nation. Is Oregon’s improvement up front a one-week mirage or a sign of things to come? This matchup should provide good insight into the Ducks’ offensive line.

2. Washington QB Cyler Miles
It’s no secret which quarterback will garner most of the nation’s attention on Saturday night. Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota is one of the frontrunners to win the Heisman, and the junior has yet to throw an interception on 155 attempts in 2014. But a quick check of the Pac-12 passing stats shows there is one more starter in the Pac-12 with zero interceptions: Washington’s Cyler Miles. The sophomore missed the opener due to suspension but has passed for 896 yards and nine touchdowns over the last five games. Miles has made steady improvement in his first year as a starter and threw for a season-high of 273 yards against California last week. The Golden Bears aren’t one of the Pac-12’s elite defenses, but Miles seems to be getting more comfortable with each snap. Oregon’s defense will bend (470.3 ypg, 5.8 ypp) and ranks last in the Pac-12 in third-down stops. Don Pellum’s defense has also been opportunistic (12 forced turnovers and 18 sacks), but the Ducks will allow opposing offenses to move the ball. Can Miles play another mistake-free game? In a hostile environment, Washington needs Miles to play his best game to win on Saturday night.

3. Oregon’s Explosive Offense
Even if Washington’s front seven has success against Oregon’s offensive line, can the Huskies cover the Ducks’ big-play threats at receiver? Michigan State is the best defense the Ducks played this year, and the Spartans gave up 7.2 yards per play and 46 points. That's concerning for Washington, as Michigan State’s secondary is better than the Huskies and quarterback Marcus Mariota gashed the Spartans for 318 yards. Washington’s secondary features standout corner Marcus Peters, but two freshmen starters (Sidney Jones and Budda Baker) will be tested on Saturday night. The Huskies did not allow a touchdown pass to California last Saturday and gave up seven against Eastern Washington. The numbers are skewed slightly due to one game, but opposing quarterbacks are completing 64.1 percent of their throws against Washington’s defense. Getting pressure on Mariota is step No. 1 in stopping the Oregon offense. However, when he is able to deliver on time, can the Huskies slow down a group of explosive playmakers, starting with running backs Royce Freeman and Thomas Tyner and at receiver with Devon Allen (19.6 ypc)?


Final Analysis


A 21-point spread seems too much for this game. Oregon is tough to beat at home, and a healthy offensive line should bolster Mariota’s Heisman bid over the next two months. The Ducks’ explosive offense sputters early against the Huskies’ defense, but Mariota and his receiving corps eventually makes enough plays to pull away in the fourth quarter. First-year Washington coach Chris Petersen has his team prepared for the challenge, but Oregon simply has too much on offense.


Prediction: Oregon 38, Washington 27

Teaser:
Oregon Ducks vs. Washington Huskies Game Preview and Prediction 2014
Post date: Friday, October 17, 2014 - 11:00
Path: /college-football/florida-state-seminoles-vs-notre-dame-fighting-irish-game-preview-and-prediction
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College football’s premier matchup for Week 8 takes place in Tallahassee, as Florida State hosts Notre Dame in a meeting of two teams with national title and playoff aspirations. Off-field issues have surrounded both teams since the opener, as quarterback Jameis Winston is under the spotlight once again for the Seminoles, while the Fighting Irish finally learned the fate of the five players suspended due to academic issues earlier this week.

 

While neither team will be able to completely close the door on discussing the off-field issues over the next two days, the 60-minute matchup should at least turn the attention back to the field and the quest to finish unbeaten and earn a spot in the playoff.

 

The Seminoles enter Saturday night’s game on a 17-game winning streak, while the Fighting Irish are off to a 6-0 start and defeated their first four opponents by at least 16 points in each contest.

 

Florida State and Notre Dame have met only seven previous times. The Seminoles own a 5-2 series edge against the Fighting Irish and have won the last two games in this series. Notre Dame’s last win over the Seminoles occurred in 2002.
 

Notre Dame at Florida State


Kickoff: 8 p.m. ET (Saturday)
TV Channel: ABC
Spread: Florida State -11.5


Three Things to Watch


1. Stopping Jameis Winston
In the first five games of the year, the Fighting Irish allowed 60 points. In last Saturday’s win over North Carolina, Notre Dame allowed 43 points and gave up 6.1 yards per play. With that in mind, which is the real Fighting Irish defense? The college football world should have a good idea by Saturday night, as Florida State’s offense is the best this defense has played in 2014. The Seminoles are averaging 39 points per game and 6.6 yards per play, and coach Jimbo Fisher’s team has a talented core of skill players, headlined by receiver Rashad Greene and tight end Nick O’Leary. At running back, Karlos Williams, Mario Pender (out for Saturday due to injury) and Dalvin Cook are all big-time talents with the threat to score each time they touch the ball. Notre Dame defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder likes to be aggressive in his play-calling, which will allow Winston and his receivers to hit on big plays – assuming the offensive line can handle the blitz packages. If Winston has time to throw, that’s a bad sign for a Fighting Irish secondary that was torched for 326 yards against North Carolina last week. But if VanGorder can generate pressure and get Winston out of rhythm, Notre Dame’s defense will have a chance to force three-and-outs, giving the offense good field position early and often.

2. Everett Golson vs. Florida State’s Defense
Everett Golson is 16-0 as Notre Dame’s starting quarterback during the regular season. Golson’s only loss with the Fighting Irish was a loss to Alabama in the 2013 BCS Championship. And after missing all of last season due to academic issues, Golson has showed little rush through the first six games. The junior has passed for 1,683 yards and 16 touchdowns and is completing 62.5 percent of his throws in 2014. While those numbers are impressive, turnovers have been a problem for the junior. Over the last three games, Golson has lost nine turnovers, including an interception in three consecutive contests. Winning in Tallahassee requires a flawless effort from Notre Dame – but there will be plays available against Florida State’s defense. The Seminoles owned one of the top defenses in the nation last year, but injuries and a turnover in personnel in the front seven have contributed to some early-season struggles. But even though Florida State is not as dominant on the defensive side as it was last year, the Seminoles are still holding opponents to 20.7 points a game and rank third in the ACC in red zone defense. Golson has a solid receiving corps at his disposal, including William Fuller (14.4 ypc, 7 TDs) and Corey Robinson (13.7 ypc). Can Golson limit his mistakes and attack a Florida State secondary that has already allowed two teams to throw for 300 yards this year?

3. Which defense steps up?
As we mentioned in the previous sections of the preview, both teams have experienced their share of problems – and success – on defense this season. Florida State’s biggest concern is the defensive tackle spot, as replacing Timmy Jernigan is no easy assignment, and starter Nile Lawrence-Stample was lost for the year due to injury. The Seminoles are eighth in the ACC against the run and are allowing 5.0 yards per play – almost a full yard increase from last season. But Florida State has made stops when it matters, ranking third in the ACC in red zone defense. Notre Dame has options at running back, but Tarean Folston is the team’s leading rusher at just 263 yards. If the Fighting Irish is going to win, quarterback Everett Golson has to have a huge game. Of course, that means Golson also has to limit his mistakes, and Florida State has forced 11 turnovers in six games. Can the Seminoles force a couple of turnovers? When Florida State has the ball, will Notre Dame’s defense hold its own at the point of attack and limit the Seminoles’ ground game? If the Fighting Irish can limit Florida State on early downs on rushing attempts, Winston will have third-and-long situations to navigate on offense, allowing VanGorder to send extra pressure or drop more into coverage to limit the big-play ability of Greene or Jesus Wilson.


Final Analysis

 

Florida State has yet to play a complete game this year. That’s a scary thought for the rest of the teams on the Seminoles’ schedule, starting with Notre Dame on Saturday night. Injuries and suspensions slowed Florida State’s development early in the year, but this team should get better over the second half of 2014. As long as Jameis Winston is in the lineup, the Seminoles should win this matchup. The Fighting Irish need a perfect effort to win on Saturday, including zero turnovers from Golson and better play from a secondary that was torched by North Carolina last week. Notre Dame tacks on a late touchdown to cover the spread, but Florida State controls this one from the opening kick.


Prediction: Florida State 34, Notre Dame 27

Teaser:
Florida State Seminoles vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish Game Preview and Prediction 2014
Post date: Friday, October 17, 2014 - 10:00
Path: /college-football/alabama-crimson-tide-vs-texas-am-aggies-game-preview-and-prediction-2014
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It’s another critical week of action on Saturday for the SEC West, as Alabama looks to get back on track against a Texas A&M team that comes to Tuscaloosa on a two-game losing streak. The Crimson Tide had an uninspired 14-13 win over Arkansas last week, while the Aggies were defeated 35-20 against Ole Miss.

The SEC West is the best division in college football, leaving little margin for error for the teams in the mix for a spot in the playoff. That pressure also extends to teams like Texas A&M, as the road won’t get any easier with games against Auburn, LSU and Missouri still remaining. If Kevin Sumlin’s team wants to have any shot at contending for the division title or playing in one of college football’s top bowl games in December, it has to win this game.

Meanwhile, Alabama needs this game to get back on track. Coach Nick Saban has a lot of work to do in order to transform the 2014 version of the Crimson Tide into a national title contender. The talent is still there for Alabama, but this team has holes in the secondary, offensive line and in the passing attack. Penalties, a lack of a pass rush and turnovers are other concerns for Saban and the coaching staff to address over the next few weeks.

 

Alabama and Texas A&M have played six previous times, with the Crimson Tide owning a 4-2 edge. These two teams have played only twice as SEC members, and two of the six meetings occurred in bowl games.

 

Texas A&M at Alabama

 

Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. ET (Saturday)
TV Channel: CBS
Spread: Alabama -13.5


Three Things to Watch


1. Texas A&M’s Rush Defense
Stopping Alabama starts in the trenches. With center Ryan Kelly sidelined due to a knee injury, the Crimson Tide’s rushing attack was stuck in neutral last week. On 32 attempts against Arkansas, Alabama managed only 66 yards. And against Ole Miss on Oct. 4, the Crimson Tide recorded only 3.8 yards per carry. Texas A&M’s rush defense is allowing 174.9 yards per game (4.2 ypc) through all seven games, with the numbers a bit higher in SEC play (198.0). Even though Kelly won’t play this Saturday, Alabama should have an edge in this matchup. Will Texas A&M find an answer to stop T.J. Yeldon and Derrick Henry? In last year’s meeting, the Aggies allowed 6.3 yards per carry. If Alabama repeats that number on Saturday, it’s tough to see this matchup being close in the fourth quarter.


2. Alabama’s Secondary
Even though this may not be one of Nick Saban’s best Alabama teams, it’s hard to find many weaknesses. But if there’s one area the Crimson Tide seem to struggle more than any in recent years, it’s a secondary that gave up 365 yards to West Virginia in the opener and 251 to Ole Miss on Oct. 4. Texas A&M has the talent on offense to take advantage of Alabama’s secondary, starting at quarterback with Kenny Hill and a receiving corps that features youth and a world of talent. Hill has 23 touchdown passes this year but has tossed five interceptions – both losses by the Aggies – in the last two games. Hill has to be more careful with the ball this week, and he needs more help from an inconsistent receiving corps. The sophomore will have some additional help in the receiving department, as veteran Malcome Kennedy is back in the mix after missing the last two games due to injury. Alabama’s secondary will improve over the course of the season, especially as Eddie Jackson returns to full strength from an offseason ACL tear. If Texas A&M has success through the air, it can turn this game into a high-scoring affair and get Alabama out of its comfort zone on offense.

3. Alabama QB Blake Sims
Through the first four games, Sims completed 73.1 percent of his passes and threw eight touchdowns to just two interceptions. But over the last two contests, Sims has tossed one interception and his completion percentage has slipped to 58.8. Playing a stout Ole Miss defense has something to do with Sims’ numbers, but Alabama needs more from its passing game this week. Texas A&M’s secondary should allow the Crimson Tide opportunities to stretch the field through the air. The Aggies have allowed nine passing scores this year, and opposing quarterbacks in SEC play are completing 61.1 percent of their throws. Texas A&M has also allowed 22 passing plays of 20 yards or more.


Final Analysis


The outcome of this game largely depends on two areas: Alabama’s secondary and Texas A&M’s rush defense. If the Aggies stuff the Crimson Tide ground attack and force Sims and receiver Amari Cooper to win this one through the air, Sumlin’s team will have an opportunity to steal a win in Tuscaloosa. And when Texas A&M has the ball, can Alabama defend the pass? Expect plenty of up-tempo and quick passes to the receiving corps from the Aggies to take advantage of their speed and athleticism on the edge. Since winning in Tuscaloosa in 2012, Texas A&M is just 7-6 in its last 13 games. Make it 7-7 as Alabama’s offense gets back on track, and the defense makes just enough stops to keep the Aggies from pulling off the upset.


Prediction: Alabama 34, Texas A&M 24

Teaser:
Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Texas A&M Aggies Game Preview and Prediction 2014
Post date: Friday, October 17, 2014 - 09:30
Path: /college-football/acc-2014-week-8-preview-and-predictions
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Florida State and Notre Dame are two of college football’s marquee programs, and the Fighting Irish and Seminoles meet on Saturday night in one of the top games for Week 8. The matchup between Florida State and Notre Dame headlines the action in the ACC this Saturday, but there are a few intriguing games outside of Tallahassee.

Pittsburgh hosts Virginia Tech in a critical game for positioning in the Coastal Division, while Clemson travels to Boston College on Saturday afternoon. The Tigers won’t have quarterback Deshaun Watson, but their defensive line is a good match for the Eagles’ ground game.


Georgia Tech-North Carolina has potential for plenty of fireworks on offense, while Virginia-Duke is another key game for the Coastal Division title picture.

Week 8 Previews and Predictions:
Big 12Big Ten | Pac-12 | SEC

 

ACC Week 8 Game Power Rankings
 

1. Notre Dame at Florida State (-11.5)
8 p.m. ET, ABC
 

Tallahassee is the epicenter of the college football world in Week 8. Notre Dame and Florida State enter Saturday night ranked among the top five teams in the nation, and both programs expect to contend for college football’s new four-team playoff in 2014. Despite the history among the programs, this is only the eighth meeting between Notre Dame and Florida State. The Seminoles own a 5-2 series edge, with the last regular season meeting taking place in 2003. An interesting note to this series: Five of the seven games were decided by a touchdown or less. With that in mind, this could be another close matchup on Saturday night. Florida State leads the ACC by averaging 462.5 yards per game, but Notre Dame will counter with a defense that’s allowing only 17.2 points per contest. However, the Fighting Irish gave up 43 points to North Carolina, and the Seminoles’ offense will be the best this defense has played in 2014. Quarterback Jameis Winston is growing more comfortable with his new receivers, and the sophomore – provided the line provides protection – should have a huge performance against the Notre Dame secondary. But the same holds true for the Fighting Irish offense, as the Seminoles are allowing opponents to average 5.0 yards per play – almost a full yard increase from 2013. Quarterback Everett Golson has to be more careful with the football, as he’s committed nine turnovers in the last three games. Golson should have opportunities to move the ball on the ground or through the air. But in Tallahassee, Notre Dame’s margin for error is small and turnovers will be costly on Saturday night. 
 

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2. Virginia Tech at Pittsburgh (-1)
7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN (Thursday)


It seems like a broken record, but this is a key game for positioning in the Coastal Division. With little separating the top six teams, this is a prime opportunity for both Virginia Tech and Pittsburgh to take a step forward in the division race. The Panthers opened conference play with a win over Boston College but lost 24-19 to Virginia on Oct. 4. The Hokies are also 1-1 in ACC action, defeating North Carolina 34-17 after opening with a loss to Georgia Tech. Running back play is under the spotlight on Thursday night, as Virginia Tech will be without leading rusher Marshawn Williams due to an ankle injury, leaving J.C. Coleman (61 yards) and Joel Caleb (84 yards) as the team’s top backs. Pittsburgh’s James Conner is one of the nation’s leading rushers, but he may see time on defense as a pass-rush specialist. A key matchup to watch will be Virginia Tech cornerback Kendall Fuller against Pittsburgh receiver Tyler Boyd. Both are among the nation’s best at their position, and if Fuller contains Boyd, the Panthers need some of their secondary weapons to step up. A tight game is expected, which means both quarterbacks (Chad Voytik, Pittsburgh and Michael Brewer, Virginia Tech) have to limit their mistakes, as both teams rank near the bottom of the ACC in turnover margin.
 

3. Clemson (-5) at Boston College
3:30 p.m. ET, ESPNU
 

If you like trench warfare, then Saturday’s matchup in Chestnut Hill is a must-see matchup. Clemson’s defensive line is one of the best in the nation, headlined by likely All-America selection in defensive end Vic Beasley and fellow senior Grady Jarrett at defensive tackle. The Eagles counter with an offensive line featuring five senior starters and a strong rushing attack led by quarterback Tyler Murphy. Clemson is holding opponents to just 100.5 yards per game on the ground, while the Eagles lead the ACC with an average of 315.7 rushing yards a contest. Murphy leads the team by averaging 118.5 rushing yards per game, but Jon Hilliman (4.4 ypc) and Myles Willis (5.0 ypc) factor into the gameplan. The Eagles hope to get their ground game on track and limit the opportunities for an explosive Clemson offense. The Tigers will turn to senior Cole Stoudt at quarterback after freshman Deshaun Watson was injured in last week’s game against NC State. Stoudt has yet to pass for a touchdown against a Power 5 opponent this year and will be tested by a Boston College defense that likes to create havoc around the line of scrimmage (17 sacks and 38 tackles for a loss).


4. Virginia at Duke (-3)
12:30 p.m. ET, ACC Network


At the beginning of the season, it’s unlikely anyone would have pegged this matchup as a critical showdown in the ACC. But seven weeks into the season, this matchup is suddenly an important game. Virginia is the lone unbeaten team (2-0) in conference play from the Coastal Division. Duke picked up a win over Georgia Tech last Saturday, which was a key rebound victory after losing 22-10 to Miami on Sept. 27. The Blue Devils are the defending Coastal champs, and a win over the Cavaliers would allow this team to take an early lead for the division title once again. Quarterback play is critical every week, but it’s an even bigger storyline this Saturday. Virginia’s Greyson Lambert has missed the last two games due to injury, and Matt Johns is 2-0 during that stretch. Lambert could return this Saturday, but both quarterbacks are expected to play. For Duke, Anthony Boone has to play mistake-free. In the Blue Devils’ 22-10 loss to Miami, Boone tossed two picks and completed only 43.1 percent of his throws. A low-scoring game should be anticipated, as Duke ranks second in the ACC in total defense (15.5 ppg), and Virginia is among the best in the conference in sacks and tackles for a loss. This is the Cavaliers’ first road ACC game of the year, while the Blue Devils have won five out of the last six in this series.


5. Georgia Tech (-2.5) at North Carolina
7 p.m. ET, ESPNU

 

Three of the last four meetings in this series were decided by eight points or less, and another close game should be anticipated in Chapel Hill on Saturday. The Tar Heels enter Week 8 on a four-game losing streak, but coach Larry Fedora’s team nearly upset Notre Dame last Saturday. North Carolina needs another second-half surge to make a bowl this year, and that run has to start Saturday against the Yellow Jackets. The Tar Heels have to find a way to slow down Georgia Tech’s option attack, which is averaging 294.7 rushing yards per game. That’s bad news for a North Carolina defense allowing 191.7 yards per contest on the ground. Quarterback Justin Thomas is the headliner (6.3 ypc), but Zach Laskey (4.9 ypc) has recorded at least 70 rushing yards in every game this year. Stopping the Yellow Jackets is going to be a challenge, as their style of play is not easy to replicate in a week of practice. While the Tar Heels will struggle on defense, their offense should be able to move the ball on a Georgia Tech unit allowing 6.3 yards per play this year. Quarterback Marquise Williams is coming off his best effort of the season (510 yards) and should have another huge day against the Yellow Jackets. Turnover margin is critical in this game. Georgia Tech was +5 entering last week’s game against Duke. But the Yellow Jackets lost three turnovers in a 31-25 loss. Forcing turnovers and getting stops on third down will be crucial to North Carolina’s hopes of snapping a four-game losing streak.


6. NC State at Louisville (-17)
3:30 p.m. ET, RSN/ESPN3


This matchup features the biggest spread from the seven games in the ACC in Week 8. Most thought NC State turned a corner after a 56-41 loss to NC State, but the Wolfpack has stumbled in its last two games. Dave Doeren’s team was soundly defeated 41-0 to Clemson in Week 6 and lost 30-14 to Boston College last Saturday. Stopping the run has been a problem for NC State, as it has allowed 536 yards and six touchdowns in its last two games. In addition to the defensive struggles, quarterback Jacoby Brissett has to get back on track after completing just 18 of his last 48 passes. Jumpstarting the offense is going to be a challenge for NC State this Saturday. Louisville’s defense is holding opponents to 3.7 yards per play and has allowed only nine touchdowns in seven games. While the Cardinals own one of the ACC’s top defenses, the offense is surprisingly averaging only 23.4 points a game in conference action. Will Gardner is set to start at quarterback after completing 10 of 16 passes for 150 yards and one touchdown against Clemson, but freshman Reggie Bonnafon will play in a limited role. Even though Louisville’s offense is off to a slow start, it could get on track against a NC State defense allowing 6.3 yards per play in conference games. The Wolfpack defense will be without starting linebacker Jerod Fernandez and safety Josh Jones due to an off-field incident.

 

7. Syracuse (-5) at Wake Forest
12 p.m. ET, RSN/ESPN3


With both teams at 0-2 in conference play and 2-4 overall, Saturday’s game is a must-win situation if either program wants to make a bowl this year. Syracuse is dealing with a handful of injuries on offense, and freshman A.J. Long will make his first start under center. Long showed promise in last week’s game against Florida State by recording 187 total yards and two passing touchdowns, and Wake Forest’s defense will be a good challenge in his first start. The Demon Deacons are holding opponents to 4.9 yards per play and are allowing 24 points per game. The numbers for Wake Forest’s defense are impressive considering the offense is managing just 3.3 yards per play and has not scored more than 24 points in a game this year. Points should be at a premium with two young quarterbacks – Long and Wake Forest freshman John Wolford – starting under center on Saturday. 

 

Week 8 ACC Predictions

 David
Fox
Braden
Gall
Steven
Lassan
Mitch
Light
Notre Dame at FSU (-11.5)ND 28-24FSU 34-28FSU 34-27FSU 30-20
Va. Tech at Pitt (-1)VT 34-31Pitt 31-30VT 27-24VT 28-24
Clemson (-5) at BC BC 28-21Clemson 34-24Clemson 31-27Clemson 33-21
Virginia at Duke (-3)Duke 21-17Duke 24-21Duke 24-20UVa 23-19
Ga. Tech (-2.5) at UNCGT 35-21GT 35-30GT 38-34GT 37-30
NC State at Louisville (-17)UL 31-14UL 30-23UL 34-13 UL 34-17
Syracuse (-5) at Wake ForestSU 27-14SU 30-27SU 24-20SU 24-17
Last Week4-24-24-24-2
Season Record53-1553-1556-1254-14

 

Teaser:
ACC 2014 Week 8 Preview and Predictions
Post date: Thursday, October 16, 2014 - 09:00
Path: /college-football/illinois-unveils-gray-ghost-uniforms-oct-25-game-against-minnesota
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Illinois has a new uniform design for 2014, but the Fighting Illini have unveiled a special look for the Oct. 25 game against Minnesota.

The “gray ghost” uniforms are a tribute to Red Grange and the 1924 game against Michigan.

Check out Illinois’ “gray ghost” uniforms for Oct. 25:

Teaser:
Illinois Unveils "Gray Ghost" Uniforms for Oct. 25 Game Against Minnesota
Post date: Thursday, October 16, 2014 - 08:30
Path: /college-football/20-predictions-second-half-college-footballs-2014-season
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The first half of the 2014 college football season is in the books, and it’s time to revisit the preseason predictions and make a few changes for the next eight weeks.

No conference, team or player performs exactly how most expect from the preseason, so it’s only natural to have changes of opinion in several different areas by the midpoint of the season.

That’s the case in 2014, as it’s been an unpredictable season, and more chaos should be anticipated over the next two months.

Before Week 8 officially starts the second half of the season, let’s take a look at 20 predictions that are sure to be right by December.

First-Half Awards and Second-Half Predictions
National | ACC | Big 12 | Big Ten | Pac-12 | SEC

 

20 Predictions for the Second Half of the 2014 Season

 

1. Florida State Finishes the Regular Season Unbeaten
See a loss on Florida State’s schedule? We don’t either. The Seminoles will head into college football’s playoff with a No. 1 or No. 2 seed and a 29-game winning streak. Games against Louisville, Florida and Notre Dame are tough, but the Seminoles will be unbeaten going into the first playoff matchup.

2. Every Pac-12 Team Has At Least Two Losses
On paper, that seems like a far-fetched idea. But take a look at the standings after Week 7: Every team already has at least one loss in conference play. Oregon, Stanford, USC and Arizona are the frontrunners for the Pac-12 title, but there’s no dominant team in the league this year. The Ducks were the favorite by Athlon’s editors to win the Pac-12 title in midseason predictions. However, will Oregon navigate its remaining schedule – Washington, California, Stanford at Utah, Colorado and at Oregon State – unbeaten? The guess here is no. A two-loss team wins the Pac-12 title in early December.

3. Oklahoma Rebounds to Win the Big 12
Oklahoma needs a little help to win the outright conference title, as TCU holds the tiebreaker over the Sooners. But Bob Stoops' team will have an opportunity to work their way back to the top of the Big 12 over the next few weeks, starting with Saturday’s matchup against Kansas State. After playing the Wildcats in Week 8, Oklahoma hits the road to take on Iowa State before Baylor – which has never won in Norman – visits on Nov. 8. With the Bears coming to Norman, Oklahoma wins that game and finishes 11-1. That’s enough to win the Big 12 title.

4. Florida Barely Makes a Bowl
With the opener against Idaho canceled due to weather, Florida doesn’t have much margin for error to make a bowl game. At 3-2, the Gators need three wins to play in a bowl after missing out on the postseason last year. Vanderbilt and Eastern Kentucky should be wins, which leaves Florida with matchups against Missouri, Georgia, South Carolina and Florida State to get win No. 6. It won’t be easy, but the Gators win one of those games and finish with a 6-5 regular season mark.

5. Justin Fuente is a Hot Commodity for Open Coaching Jobs
Memphis has made significant progress under Justin Fuente over the last three years. The Tigers went 3-21 under Larry Porter, but Fuente has guided the program to 10 wins since 2012 and is on track to make a bowl this season. Memphis is 3-3 after six contests this year and has a good opportunity to finish in the top four of the final American Athletic Conference standings. Fuente is one of the rising stars in the coaching ranks, and his rebuilding efforts should draw the attention of open jobs (Kansas) in the Power 5 conferences this offseason.

6. Arkansas Wins a Game in SEC Play This Year
That prediction may seem like no big deal, but Arkansas has a 15-game losing streak in SEC play. The Razorbacks have been close to breaking through in 2014, losing by seven to Texas A&M and by one to Alabama. A tough schedule may prevent a bowl appearance, but coach Bret Bielema gets a win in SEC play this year, setting up Arkansas to take another step forward in 2015.

7. Clemson Offensive Coordinator Chad Morris is Hired as a Head Coach
Morris is one of the nation’s top assistant coaches, and he’s ready for his chance to run a program. The Texas native has worked as an assistant on the FBS level since 2010, with the last four years coming at Clemson under Dabo Swinney. Considering his ties in the state of Texas, SMU or Tulsa (if Bill Blankenship doesn’t return) would be a good landing spot for Morris.

 

8. East Carolina Represents the Group of 5 in New Year’s Bowls
With wins over North Carolina and Virginia Tech, East Carolina has the best resume from a Group of 5 school for a spot in college football’s top bowl games. The bigger question: Could East Carolina lose a game in conference play and still get the bid? An undefeated Marshall is in the mix, but strength of schedule is not on the Thundering Herd’s side.

9. One SEC Job Will Open This Offseason
Florida is the job most likely vacancy, but would Dan Mullen leave Mississippi State for Michigan or to replace Will Muschamp in Gainesville? How about Les Miles if Michigan is open? The guess here is the SEC will have at least one new coach in 2014.

 

10. SMU Finishes 0-12
The Mustangs are 0-5 entering Week 8 and still have to play Cincinnati, Memphis, UCF and Houston. Games against UConn, Tulsa and USF are more manageable, but SMU has just four offensive touchdowns all year and has been outscored 247-36 this year. Interim coach Tom Mason has a tough assignment to guide this team to a win in the second half of 2014.

 

11. Three Big Ten Running Backs Earn All-America Honors
Three of the nation’s top four leading rushers (yards per game) hail from the Big Ten. Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon has 1,046 yards and 13 scores through six games, while Nebraska’s Ameer Abdullah has 878 yards and 10 touchdowns this year. But the player no one is talking about – Indiana’s Tevin Coleman – leads the nation by averaging 176.7 yards per game. All three running backs will earn All-America honors in December.

12. Georgia Wins the SEC East…With or Without Todd Gurley
Georgia took a step forward in the SEC East title race with a 34-0 win over Missouri last Saturday. The convincing win over the Tigers came without running back Todd Gurley, and the junior’s status for the rest of the year is uncertain due to an investigation into violation of NCAA rules. Regardless of whether or not Gurley returns won’t matter: Georgia will win the East Division. The Bulldogs still have to play Auburn, Florida, Kentucky and Arkansas, but Georgia is the best team in the division and will find a way to get to Atlanta.

13. Miami Finishes 7-5
Miami is still looking for its first appearance in the ACC Championship game. And barring a sweep of the remaining schedule, the Hurricanes will have to wait another year to play in the conference title game. Miami is 4-3 overall and 1-2 in conference play after Week 7, and Al Golden’s team still has to play Florida State, Virginia Tech and Virginia. Road trips to Tallahassee and Blacksburg result in losses, leaving Miami a disappointing 7-5 before the bowl season.

14. The SEC West Champ Has One Loss
The SEC’s West Division is the best in college football. Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Auburn and Alabama all rank as top 10 teams following Week 7, and the depth extends to talented teams like Texas A&M and LSU, along with an improving Arkansas’ squad in Bret Bielema’s second year. Even though Mississippi State and Ole Miss are unbeaten in conference play after three games, it’s tough to envision both making it through the regular season without a loss. The West Division is simply too tough for the champion of the division to make it through without a loss.

15. Virginia Tech Emerges to Win Coastal Division
Good luck sorting out the Coastal Division at the midpoint of the 2014 season. Virginia and Georgia Tech – two teams picked near the bottom of the Coastal – are at the top, and North Carolina and Miami are a combined 1-4 in conference play. No team is going to go through the Coastal with an unbeaten record, and it’s unlikely one loss wins the division. But after sorting out the schedules for the rest of the way, it’s apparent Virginia Tech has a good shot to rebound and win the division. The Hokies play two of their toughest games – Miami and Virginia – at home and catch Wake Forest (the ACC’s worst team) in crossover play.

16. Washington State QB Connor Halliday Falls Short of Single-Season Yardage Record
After seven games, Halliday has 3,344 passing yards. To break the NCAA single-season record held by Texas Tech’s B.J. Symons (5,833 yards), Halliday needs to average at 498 yards per game over his final five contests. With Washington State at 2-5, it’s unlikely Halliday will get an opportunity to play in a bowl this year. Averaging 498 yards per game isn’t out of the question, especially since Halliday has three 500-yard games in 2014. The guess here is Halliday surpasses 5,000 yards but falls short of Symons’ record.

17. Michigan Finishes With a Losing Record
At 3-4 through seven weeks, Michigan needs three wins over its final five games to make a bowl. With trips (and likely losses) to Ohio State and Michigan State ahead, that leaves the Wolverines with no margin for error in their other three games. Assuming Michigan loses to the Wolverines and Buckeyes, it has to sweep these matchups: Indiana, at Northwestern and Maryland. It’s not out of the question, but Michigan needs major improvement from its offense to sweep that stretch.

18. One Mississippi School Makes the Playoff
Take your pick: Mississippi State or Ole Miss will make the college football playoff. Expect Alabama to improve over the second half of the season, and if that happens, the Crimson Tide will be the biggest obstacle to the Rebels and Bulldogs in the division. And of course, it’s also too early to discount Auburn and its explosive offense from making a run at a playoff spot. But the guess here is at least one team from the SEC makes the playoff – with one coming from the Magnolia State. 

19. Marshall Doesn’t Lose a Game in 2014
Unless Marshall gets the spot from the Group of 5 in one of the New Year’s Day bowls, the Thundering Herd should go 14-0. Check out the remaining schedule for Doc Holliday’s team: at FIU, FAU, at Southern Miss, Rice, at UAB and Western Kentucky. Assuming Marshall wins the East Division, it will play in the C-USA Championship and should be a heavy favorite over the West Division champ. Unless there’s a switch in bowl tie-ins to get Marshall in a higher-profile spot, the Thundering Herd won’t have a major obstacle in C-USA’s designated bowls to an unbeaten record.

20. The Heisman Winner is…
Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott. But Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota is a close second. This year’s race is close, and with both teams likely to lose a game before the year ends, this battle will go down to the final week. Oregon still has to play Stanford’s rugged defense, while Mississippi State has a favorable stretch of games before playing Alabama and Ole Miss on the road. The late-November matchups against the Crimson Tide and Rebels are a good opportunity for Prescott to build his Heisman resume. If Mariota or Prescott doesn't win the award, keep an eye on Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty and Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon.

Teaser:
20 Predictions for the Second Half of College Football's 2014 Season
Post date: Wednesday, October 15, 2014 - 10:00
Path: /college-football/college-football-2014-midseason-awards-and-recap
Body:

The first half of the 2014 college football season is officially in the books. And at the midpoint of 2014, it’s time to look back at the first seven weeks, examine preseason predictions and take a glimpse at what the second half of the season has to offer.

With half of a season still to go, plenty of changes, surprises and disappointments should be expected this year.

Mississippi State ranks as the No. 1 team in Athlon’s projected playoff poll after seven weeks, but will the Bulldogs remain at the top in December? Quarterback Dak Prescott and coach Dan Mullen are big winners in our midseason awards, and both should have a strong case at the end of the year for some of the year’s end-of-season awards in December.

As the second half of the season gets underway, let’s take a look back at some of the top players, coaches and freshmen from Weeks 1-7. 


Midseason Reviews and Second-Half Predictions:
ACCBig 12Big TenPac-12SEC


2014 College Football First-Half Awards

 

Coach of the Year: Dan Mullen, Mississippi State
Mississippi State is a tough SEC job, and Mullen has guided the Bulldogs to four consecutive bowl appearances and winning seasons. But the 2014 edition of Mississippi State is poised to be Mullen’s best team. The Bulldogs are ranked No. 1 after beating Auburn and are one of the top contenders for a spot in college football’s four-team playoff.

2. Hugh Freeze, Ole Miss
3. Rich Rodriguez, Arizona
4. Gary Patterson, TCU
5. Mark Stoops, Kentucky
 

Best Assistant Coach Hire of Offseason: Doug Meacham/Sonny Cumbie, OC, TCU
TCU’s offense was in need of a spark after averaging just 20.9 points per game in Big 12 play last year. Meacham was hired from Houston to call the plays, while Cumbie joined the staff under the shared co-offensive coordinator tag. The duo has helped the Horned Frogs average 47.5 points per game in two Big 12 contests. Also, quarterback Trevone Boykin is one of the nation’s most-improved players.


2. Jeremy Pruitt, Defensive Coordinator, Georgia

3. Todd Grantham, Defensive Coordinator, Louisville

4. Lance Anderson, Defensive Coordinator, Stanford
5. Ralph Friedgen, Offensive Coordinator, Rutgers

Best First-Year Coach: Willie Fritz, Georgia Southern
Georgia Southern is transitioning to the FBS level, but the Eagles are 4-0 in Sun Belt play and 5-2 overall. The only two losses suffered by Georgia Southern this season came against NC State (one point) and Georgia Tech (four points). Fritz has a strong track record of success, and he’s already making an impact in his first season in Statesboro.   

2. Bill Clark, UAB
3. Chris Petersen, Washington
4. Dino Babers, Bowling Green
5. Charlie Strong, Texas

Offensive Player of the Year: Dak Prescott, QB, Mississippi State
Prescott’s emergence is a big reason why Mississippi State is ranked as the No. 1 team in the nation. The junior finished 2013 by recording at least 300 total yards in four out of his last five games. And so far, Prescott has picked up where he left off and then some. He’s averaging 342.3 yards per game and has accounted for 22 total scores. The junior also recorded at least three touchdowns in each of his last three SEC games.

2. Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
3. Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin
4. Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia
5. Tevin Coleman, RB, Indiana
6. Ameer Abdullah, RB, Nebraska
7. Amari Cooper, WR, Baylor

Defensive Player of the Year: Shaq Thompson, LB, Washington
Washington’s defense has a handful of standouts, but Thompson has made the biggest impact in 2014. The junior ranks second on the team with 46 tackles (two for a loss), has recorded one sack and one interception this year and forced three fumbles. Those stats are more than enough to get Thompson in consideration for a spot among the top five defensive players at the midway point, but the junior has scored four touchdowns on defense this year and took one of his nine carries on offense for a score. Thompson’s five touchdowns are more than SMU’s offense has scored all season (four) in five games.


2. Vic Beasley, DE, Clemson
3. Leonard Williams, DE, USC
4. Eric Striker, LB, Oklahoma
5. Benardrick McKinney, LB, Mississippi State

 

Best True Freshman: Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M
Garrett has been one of the bright spots on a struggling Texas A&M defense. The freshman has recorded 33 tackles (nine for a loss) and 7.5 sacks through seven games. Garrett is just one sack away from breaking South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney’s record for most sacks as a freshman in the SEC. Garrett was one of the top prospects in the 2014 signing class and has lived up to the hype. Expect to hear more from the Texas native over the next couple of seasons.

 

2. Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama

3. KD Cannon, WR, Baylor

4. Quin Blanding, S, Virginia
5. Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson
6. Brad Kaaya, QB, Miami

Best Redshirt Freshman: Anu Solomon, QB, Arizona
Solomon’s emergence is a big reason why Arizona is squarely in the mix to win the Pac-12 South this year. The redshirt freshman has passed for 2,136 yards and 15 touchdowns through six games, guiding Rich Rodriguez’s high-powered offense to an average of 37.5 points per game.

2. J.T. Barrett, QB, Ohio State
3. Devon Allen, WR, Oregon
4. Kemoko Turay, DE, Rutgers
5. DaeSean Hamilton, WR, Penn State
 

Biggest Surprise (Team): Mississippi State

It’s no surprise Mississippi State is ranked and in the top 25. But it’s a surprise the Bulldogs have improved from finishing 7-6 last year to a potential spot in college football’s playoff. Mississippi State still has to navigate a schedule that features road games at Alabama and Ole Miss, but this team ranks No. 1 after seven weeks, has a Heisman contender in quarterback Dak Prescott, along with a defense that leads the SEC in red zone defense. If there were any doubts regarding the coaching ability of Dan Mullen, they should be answered after this season.
 

2. Kentucky

3. Arizona

4. TCU

5. California

 

Biggest Disappointment (Team): North Carolina
Miami is a possibility for this spot, but North Carolina gets the nod after a 2-4 overall and 0-2 start in ACC play. The Tar Heels were not impressive in season-opening wins over Liberty and San Diego State and have dropped four in a row since. North Carolina lost three of its four games by 15 points or more but played well in a 50-43 defeat to Notre Dame on Saturday. Problems on both sides of the ball have contributed to the 2-4 start, as the Tar Heels are allowing 6.2 yards per play on defense, and the offense has lost 12 turnovers and is averaging just 3.5 yards per carry in ACC games. Youth has attributed to a chunk of North Carolina’s problems, especially on the defensive side and on the offensive line. The young talent is promising for 2015 and beyond, but the thoughts of North Carolina contending for a division title in 2014 were probably premature. 

 

2. Michigan

3. South Carolina

4. Florida

5. UCLA
 

Heisman Frontrunner: Dak Prescott, QB, Mississippi State
Prescott has emerged in a wide-open race as the clear frontrunner exiting Week 7. Georgia running back Todd Gurley was the favorite prior to his suspension, and Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota dipped in the rankings after the loss to Arizona. Prescott is a big reason why Mississippi State has climbed to No. 1 in the nation, as he engineers an offense averaging 6.9 yards per play this season.

 

2. Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon

3. Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin

4. Bryce Petty, QB, Baylor

5. Shaq Thompson, LB, Washington

 

Coach on the Hot Seat: Will Muschamp, Florida
Time is running out for Muschamp in Gainesville. Florida’s offense ranks near the bottom of the SEC once again (4.5 yards per play), and the Gators are 3-2 after five games, with matchups remaining against Missouri, Georgia, South Carolina and Florida State. Getting back to a bowl is a priority for Muschamp, and that’s no guarantee with the Gators’ remaining schedule.

 

2. Brady Hoke, Michigan

3. Tim Beckman, Illinois

4. Bill Blankenship, Tulsa

5. Norm Chow, Hawaii


Best Conference: SEC

2. Pac-12
3. Big 12
4. Big Ten
5. ACC
6. American Athletic
7. Mountain West
8. C-USA
9. MAC
10. Sun Belt

Breakout Player: Kevin White, WR, West Virginia
A healthy Clint Trickett at quarterback has been a huge boost to West Virginia’s offense, and as a result, White has benefited with a monster start to 2014. Through six games, White has 61 receptions for 888 yards and five touchdowns. White has reached 100 yards in every game this year, including 173 yards on 10 receptions against Oklahoma. Just how good are White’s numbers? Last year, he had 35 catches for 507 yards and five scores in 11 games.

2. Shane Ray, DE, Missouri
3. Nelson Spruce, WR, Colorado
4. Jared Goff, QB, California
5. Josh Robinson, RB, Mississippi State

Most-Improved Player: Trevone Boykin, QB, TCU
Boykin has thrived in TCU’s new up-tempo, spread attack this season. The junior has also benefited from the addition of new co-offensive coordinators Doug Meacham and Sonny Cumbie, and Boykin has thrown for 1,463 yards and 11 touchdowns through five games. Boykin also has 305 rushing yards and three scores this year. The emergence of Boykin is a big reason why TCU has a chance to win the Big 12 and push for a spot in one of college football’s top bowl games this year.

2. Dak Prescott, QB, Mississippi State
3. Clint Trickett, QB, West Virginia
4. Jared Goff, QB, California
5. Nate Orchard, DE, Utah

Head Coach on the Rise: Jim McElwain, Colorado State

After a 4-8 record in his first year at Colorado State, McElwain is 13-7 in his last 20 games. The Rams had their first winning record since 2008 by finishing 8-6 with a victory over Washington State in the New Mexico Bowl. Despite losing four starters on the offensive line and standout running back Kapri Bibbs, Colorado State is off to a 5-1 start and recorded wins over Power 5 opponents Colorado and Boston College in non-conference play.

2. Justin Fuente, Memphis
3. Matt Wells, Utah State
4. Matt Rhule, Temple

5. Bill Clark, UAB
 

10 Must-See Games for the Second Half
 

Auburn at Ole Miss (Nov. 1)

Stanford at Oregon (Nov. 1)

Baylor at Oklahoma (Nov. 8)

Ohio State at Michigan State (Nov. 8)

Auburn at Georgia (Nov. 15)

Mississippi State at Alabama (Nov. 15)

USC at UCLA (Nov. 22)

Mississippi State at Ole Miss (Nov. 29)

Auburn at Alabama (Nov. 29)

Notre Dame at USC (Nov. 29)

Teaser:
College Football 2014 Midseason Awards and Recap
Post date: Tuesday, October 14, 2014 - 15:55
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Oregon Ducks, Pac 12, News
Path: /college-football/oregon-unveils-throwback-uniforms-saturdays-game-against-washington
Body:

The Oregon-Washington matchup on Saturday is one of the top games for Week 8. The Northwest rivalry has plenty of intrigue, and the Ducks plan to go retro with their uniforms on Saturday.

Oregon is wearing throwback uniforms from 1994, which mark a critical moment in the program’s history. In 1994, cornerback Kenny Wheaton intercepted a pass from Washington quarterback Damon Huard and returned it for a touchdown, helping the Ducks reach the Rose Bowl.

Here’s a look at Oregon’s retro uniforms for Saturday’s game:

Teaser:
Oregon Unveils Throwback Uniforms Saturday's Game Against Washington
Post date: Tuesday, October 14, 2014 - 14:07
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-post-week-7-bowl-projections-2014
Body:

With seven weeks in the books, college football’s bowl and national title picture is surrounded in uncertainty.

 

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.

 

While only seven weeks are in the books, it’s never too early to start looking at what the bowl picture might hold for each conference and team this year. The post-Week 7 bowl projections are a mixture between picks for the next few weeks, how things would look if the season ended today, and the results from the first five weeks of action. Expect several changes over the next few weeks, especially as the heart of conference play arrives in October.

 

Teams just missing the projections: USF, Northwestern, Western Kentucky, North Texas, San Diego State, Texas State, Ohio and ULM. Remember: It’s only Week 7. Several changes are coming, and it’s impossible to project all of the wins and losses the rest of the way considering how much changes week-to-week in college football.

 

College Football's Post-Week 7 Bowl Projections

BowlDateTie-InProjection
New OrleansDec. 20Sun Belt vs. 
Mountain West
 UL Lafayette vs.
Air Force 
New MexicoDec. 20C-USA vs. 
Mountain West
 Louisiana Tech vs.
Utah State 
Las VegasDec. 20Mountain West vs.
Pac-12
 Boise State vs.
Arizona State 
Famous Idaho PotatoDec. 20MAC vs.
Mountain West
 Northern Illinois vs.
Nevada 
CamelliaDec. 20MAC vs.
Sun Belt
 Akron vs.
Arkansas State 
Miami BeachDec. 22American vs.
BYU
 Cincinnati vs.
BYU 
Boca RatonDec. 23C-USA vs.
MAC
UAB vs.
Central Michigan 
PoinsettiaDec. 23Mountain West vs.
Navy
 Colorado State vs.
Navy 
BahamasDec. 24C-USA vs.
MAC
 Marshall vs.
Toledo 
HawaiiDec. 24C-USA vs.
Mountain West
 MTSU vs.
Fresno State 
Heart of DallasDec. 26Big Ten vs.
C-USA
Maryland vs.
Rice 
Quick LaneDec. 26ACC vs. 
Big Ten
 Boston College vs.
Rutgers 
Bitcoin St. PetersburgDec. 26ACC vs. 
American
 Pittsburgh vs.
UCF 
MilitaryDec. 27ACC vs.
American

 Virginia vs.
Temple 

SunDec. 27ACC vs. 
Pac-12
 Miami vs.
Arizona 
IndependenceDec. 27ACC vs.
SEC
 NC State vs.
Arkansas 
PinstripeDec. 27ACC vs.
Big Ten
 Duke vs.
Penn State 
HolidayDec. 27Big Ten vs.
Pac-12
 Nebraska vs.
USC 
LibertyDec. 29SEC vs. 
Big 12
 Tennessee vs.
Oklahoma State 
Russell AthleticDec. 29ACC vs.
Big 12
 Virginia Tech vs.
Kansas State 
TexasDec. 29Big 12 vs.
SEC
 West Virginia vs.
LSU 
Music CityDec. 30ACC/Big Ten vs.
SEC
 Iowa vs.
Kentucky 
BelkDec. 30ACC vs.
SEC
 Louisville vs.
South Carolina 
San FranciscoDec. 30Big Ten vs.
Pac-12

 Minnesota vs.
UCLA 

OutbackJan. 1Big Ten vs.
SEC
 Wisconsin vs.
Missouri 
CitrusJan. 1Big Ten/ACC vs.
SEC
 Ohio State vs.
Georgia 
Armed ForcesJan. 2American/Army vs.
Big 12
 Houston vs.
Utah 
TaxslayerJan. 2ACC/Big Ten vs.
SEC
 Georgia Tech vs.
Texas A&M 
AlamoJan. 2Big 12 vs. 
Pac-12
 TCU vs.
Stanford 
CactusJan. 2Big 12 vs. 
Pac-12
 Texas vs.
Washington 
BirminghamJan. 3American vs. 
SEC
 Memphis vs.
Florida 
GoDaddyJan. 4MAC vs.
Sun Belt
 Bowling Green vs.
South Alabama 
    
New Year's Bowls
PeachDec. 31At-large vs.
At-large
 East Carolina vs.
Auburn 
FiestaDec. 31At-large vs.
At-large
 Oregon vs.
Alabama 
Capital One
Orange
Dec. 31ACC vs.
Big Ten/SEC/ND
 Clemson vs.
Notre Dame 
CottonJan. 1At-large vs.
At-large
 Michigan State vs.
Oklahoma 
    
Related: Projecting the Playoff Teams After Week 7
RoseJan. 1Playoff
Semifinal
 Florida State vs.
Ole Miss 
SugarJan. 1Playoff
Semifinal
 Mississippi State vs.
Baylor 
National TitleJan. 12Semifinal Winner vs.
Semifinal Winner
 Mississippi State vs.
Florida State 

 

Teaser:
College Football's Post-Week 7 Bowl Projections 2014
Post date: Tuesday, October 14, 2014 - 10:00
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-post-week-7-playoff-projection-2014
Body:

The new college football playoff format has added even more intrigue to the 2014 season. Instead of figuring out the top two teams in early December, the focus has shifted to finding four teams to play in the first FBS postseason playoff format.

 

To help select the four playoff teams, a 13-person committee was picked, which includes names like Barry Alvarez, Oliver Luck, Pat Haden and Jeff Long, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and former coach Tyrone Willingham.

 

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. The official playoff committee will release its rankings starting on Oct. 28, but 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 7 Playoff Projection

RankTeam12345678Total
1Mississippi State 165000000163
2Ole Miss 281010000137
3Florida State 37830000136
4Baylor 013115001101
5Notre Dame 0005931173
6Auburn 00013122158
7Oregon 0000063630
8Alabama 0000207426
9Michigan State 0000203317
10TCU 000000237
11Ohio State 000000204
12Oklahoma 000000113
13Georgia 000000011

Takeaways from Expert Poll Results


* Mississippi State recorded 16 of the 21 first-place votes.

* Florida State ranked second with three-first place votes, but Ole Miss edged the Seminoles for the No. 2 spot in the rankings due to eight second-place votes and 10 third-place votes.

* For the third consecutive week, the voting panel has identified a clear top four: Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Florida State and Baylor.

* Notre Dame is a distant No. 5 to Baylor, and the Fighting Irish are just 15 points ahead of a one-loss team (Auburn).

* Oregon is the only Pac-12 team receiving consideration in the post-Week 7 poll. The Ducks rank No. 7 after defeating UCLA 42-30.

* The SEC has five teams receiving consideration in this week’s expert poll. The Big 12 ranks second with three teams receiving votes.

* Through three committee votes, Florida State is the only team to rank among the top four teams in each poll.


Group of 5 Rankings


(One team from the Group of 5 conferences - American Athletic, C-USA, MAC, Mountain West, Sun Belt - will play in one of college football's premier (New Year's Bowls) each season.

1. East Carolina
Record:
5-1

The Pirates started slow but pulled away from USF for a 28-17 win. East Carolina is the clear favorite for the top spot from the Group of Five teams, but this team will be tested in early November with road trips to Temple and Cincinnati.

2. Marshall
Record:
6-0

Another week, another blowout victory for Marshall. The Thundering Herd defeated MTSU 49-24 to improve to 6-0. Strength of schedule is the biggest obstacle for Doc Holliday’s team, and barring a loss by East Carolina, Marshall is probably on the outside for the Group of 5 spot. November games against Rice and at UAB are the Thundering Herd’s biggest remaining challenges.

3. Boise State
Record:
4-2

Boise State had a bye in Week 7 and returns to action on Friday night against Fresno State. The Broncos will have a chance to improve their standing in this ranking in the second half of the season, as games against BYU and Utah State are opportunities for good wins.

4. Colorado State
Record:
5-1

The Rams survived a late rally by Nevada to win 31-24. Jim McElwain’s team has won four in a row since losing to Boise State and hosts Utah State in a key Mountain West showdown this Saturday.

5. Utah State
Record:
4-2

The Aggies make their first appearance of the year in the Group of 5 rankings thanks to a 34-16 win over Air Force in Week 7. Utah State could move up these rankings with a win over Colorado State on Saturday.


Key Games With Playoff Implications in Week 8


Virginia Tech at Pittsburgh (Thursday)
7:30 p.m. ET


Each Virginia Tech win helps to bolster East Carolina’s resume for the top spot in the Group of 5 rankings. This is also a key game for the Coastal Division.

Baylor at West Virginia
Noon ET, Fox Sports 1


Two years ago, these teams accounted for 133 points in Morgantown. Expect more fireworks once again this Saturday, as Baylor hopes to avoid a letdown in a tough road environment. 

Kansas State at Oklahoma
Noon ET, ESPN


Oklahoma needs a win to keep within distance of TCU and Baylor in the Big 12. With a win over the Sooners, Kansas State has a chance to move into consideration for the top spot in the league.

Texas A&M at Alabama
3:30 p.m. ET, CBS


Back-to-back losses have knocked Texas A&M out of the SEC West title picture, and the schedule won’t get easier with a trip to Tuscaloosa. Alabama struggled in last week’s 14-13 win over Arkansas. Can the Crimson Tide offense get back on track?

Georgia at Arkansas
4 p.m. ET, SEC Network


The Razorbacks are close to a breakthrough win in SEC play under second-year coach Bret Bielema. Can Arkansas play spoiler this Saturday? Or will Georgia continue to survive without running back Todd Gurley?

Oklahoma State at TCU
4 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1


The Cowboys are quietly 5-1, but this team hasn’t faced a quality opponent since the opener against Florida State. TCU is looking to rebound after blowing a 58-37 lead against Baylor in Week 7.

Missouri at Florida
7 p.m. ET, ESPN2


Neither team is in contention for a spot in college football’s playoff, but this is a critical game for positioning in the SEC East.

Notre Dame at Florida State
8 p.m. ET, ABC


Were the Fighting Irish looking ahead in last week’s sluggish performance against North Carolina? Florida State has yet to play its best game in 2014, and with the young talent on both sides of the ball, this team can get better as the season progresses.

Washington at Oregon
8 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1


Will Oregon’s offensive line contain an aggressive Washington front seven? The Huskies have a chance to get a marquee win under first-year coach Chris Petersen.

Stanford at Arizona State
10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN


Arizona State won’t have Taylor Kelly, but Mike Bercovici is a capable quarterback. Stanford’s offense is still a work in progress, but the defense is one of the best in the nation.

Teaser:
College Football's Post-Week 7 Playoff Projection 2014
Post date: Tuesday, October 14, 2014 - 10:00
Path: /college-football/acc-2014-second-half-predictions-and-midseason-review
Body:

At the midpoint of the 2014 season, familiarity reigns in the ACC. Florida State is clearly the No. 1 team in the league, and uncertainty overshadows the Coastal Division.

The Seminoles are likely to be favored by at least 10 points in every game the rest of the way and should be a heavy favorite over the Coastal Division champion in Charlotte. Barring an upset loss, Florida State will be one of the four teams in college football’s inaugural playoff.

Clemson is the ACC’s No. 2 team, but the Tigers suffered a setback with a hand injury to quarterback Deshaun Watson in Saturday’s win over Louisville. The talented true freshman will miss a couple of games but could return by early November. Assuming Florida State makes the playoff, Clemson – assuming it wins out or finishes 9-3 – would be the favorite to take the Seminoles’ spot in the Orange Bowl.

 

While there’s clarity on the Atlantic side, the Coastal is anyone’s guess. Virginia was projected by most to finish last in the Coastal this year. But the Cavaliers are 2-0 and sit atop the Coastal with six conference games remaining. Georgia Tech, Duke, Virginia Tech and Pittsburgh all have one loss in ACC play after Week 7. Miami and North Carolina – two preseason favorites – are in the basement with two conference losses.

Midseason Reviews and Second-Half Predictions
Big 12 | Big Ten | Pac-12 | SEC

 

2014 ACC Midseason Review and Second-Half Predictions


Coach of the Year: Mike London, Virginia

London was squarely on the hot seat entering this season, but the fifth-year coach has the Cavaliers in the mix for the Coastal Division title at the midpoint of 2014. Virginia is 4-2 overall, and at 2-0 in conference play, is the only unbeaten team left in the Coastal. The Cavaliers still have to play Duke, Florida State, Miami and Virginia Tech, but London has the program on the right track and poised to return to the postseason for the first time since 2011.

Newcomer of the Year: Tyler Murphy, QB, Boston College
Tough call for this award at the midway point. Miami quarterback Brad Kaaya, NC State quarterback Jacoby Brissett, Virginia safety Quin Blanding and Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson all deserve a mention, but Murphy gets the award after six games. The Florida transfer has thrived in Boston College’s run-first offense, averaging 118.5 rushing yards per game and 8.3 yards per carry. Murphy ranks third in the ACC in rushing yards (711). The senior is a work in progress as a passer (3 TDs, 6 INTs), but his emergence is a big reason why Boston College is on track to earn another bowl appearance in coach Steve Addazio’s second year.

Offensive Player of the Year: Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State
Yes, Winston missed a game due to suspension, but he’s clearly the best player in the conference. With a struggling offensive line and rushing attack, the sophomore has even more of the offensive load on his shoulders, and Winston has responded with a strong first half. The sophomore is completing 70 percent of his passes (three points higher than 2013), has passed for 1,605 yards and 11 scores. Winston has completed at least 62 percent of his passes in four out of the five games he’s played in, and threw for 370 yards in the opener against Oklahoma State. And Winston’s passing numbers are even more impressive when you consider Florida State had to replace two of its top four receivers from last year.    

Defensive Player of the Year: Vic Beasley, DE, Clemson
Beasley entered 2014 as one of the top defensive players in the nation, and the senior has picked up where he left off. In six games, Beasley has 15 tackles – nine for a loss – recorded eight sacks, two pass breakups, three quarterback hurries and one forced fumble. Beasley’s eight sacks rank third nationally, and the senior has recorded at least one in every game this year. One of Beasley’s best games of 2014 took place in Tallahassee, as he recorded two sacks and two tackles for a loss against Florida State’s veteran offensive line.

Midseason Disappointment: North Carolina
Miami is a possibility for this spot, but North Carolina gets the nod after a 2-4 overall and 0-2 start in ACC play. The Tar Heels were not impressive in season-opening wins over Liberty and San Diego State and have dropped four in a row since. North Carolina lost three of its four games by 15 points or more but played well in a 50-43 defeat to Notre Dame on Saturday. Problems on both sides of the ball have contributed to the 2-4 start, as the Tar Heels are allowing 6.2 yards per play on defense, and the offense has lost 12 turnovers and is averaging just 3.5 yards per carry in ACC games. Youth has attributed to a chunk of North Carolina’s problems, especially on the defensive side and on the offensive line. The young talent is promising for 2015 and beyond, but the thoughts of North Carolina contending for a division title in 2014 were probably premature.  

Midseason Surprise: Georgia Tech/Virginia 
As we mentioned earlier, the Coastal Division favorite is anyone’s guess. Virginia is the only undefeated team in conference play, but the Cavaliers’ schedule will increase in difficulty over the next two months with a trip to Tallahassee to play Florida State, along with a road date at Virginia Tech in the finale. Virginia was considered the easy pick for No. 7 in the Coastal this preseason, but the Cavaliers are in the mix to win the division behind a stellar defense. Georgia Tech also entered 2014 with uncertainty, and coach Paul Johnson was on the hot seat after a 7-6 mark in 2013. The Yellow Jackets have jumped out to a 5-1 start this year and have already played Miami, Virginia Tech and Duke. The Coastal Division is unpredictable, and even though Georgia Tech and Virginia are flawed teams, both have emerged as frontrunners after being picked near the bottom in the preseason.

 

Listen to the Week 7 recap podcast:



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Three Things to Watch in Second Half 

1. Florida State’s Repeat Bid
The Seminoles have dropped in the polls due to the emergence of Ole Miss and Mississippi State, but Florida State is still a heavy favorite to make college football’s playoff. The path to another unbeaten season is favorable, especially if the Seminoles can navigate their next two games: Notre Dame and at Louisville. Finishing with an unbeaten record in back-to-back years is not easy, but Florida State has the talent and personnel to win it all once again. Quarterback Jameis Winston is getting more comfortable with his revamped receiving corps, and the offensive line – tagged as one of the best in the nation this preseason – can play better. On defense, the Seminoles are young and still adapting to new coordinator Charles Kelly. This unit should improve over the course of the season, especially if young players like defensive tackle Derrick Nnadi and end Lorenzo Featherston continue to emerge as options on the defensive line. Additionally, the return of linebacker Matthew Thomas should help bolster Florida State’s front seven.

2. The Coastal Division
Good luck picking a frontrunner. Is it Virginia? Georgia Tech? Miami? Virginia Tech? Pittsburgh? Duke? You get the picture. North Carolina is 0-2 and probably the biggest longshot of winning the Coastal, but any of the six teams ahead of the Tar Heels in the standings have a chance to win. This should be an entertaining race over the next half of the season, and a 5-3 record might be enough to win the division.

3. Development of Young QBs
While Florida State’s quest for a repeat and the Coastal Division are intriguing national storylines, the development of young quarterbacks in the conference is something to watch over the second half. Clemson’s Deshaun Watson is out a couple of weeks due to a hand injury, but the freshman was off to an impressive debut. Will Louisville find an answer between Will Gardner or Reggie Bonnafon under center? NC State’s Jacoby Brissett played well against Florida State but struggled against Clemson and Boston College. Can Brissett work his way back into the mix for All-ACC honors? And with Terrel Hunt sidelined, keep an eye on true freshman A.J. Long at Syracuse. On the Coastal side, Miami’s Brad Kaaya, Virginia Tech’s Michael Brewer and Pittsburgh’s Chad Voytik are all quarterbacks with an opportunity to develop over the second half of the season. There’s a lot of quarterback uncertainty in the conference after Florida State’s Jameis Winston. Which passers will emerge in the final half of the season?

Top Five Games in Second Half
 

 

1. Notre Dame at Florida State (Oct. 18)
Two of college football’s top programs meet in Tallahassee for the first time since 2002. And it’s a battle of two of the nation’s top quarterbacks in Florida State’s Jameis Winston and Notre Dame’s Everett Golson. No shortage of intrigue in Doak Campbell Stadium on Oct. 18.

2. Florida State at Miami (Nov. 15)

What was once a great rivalry has been a one-sided affair in recent years. Florida State has won four in a row over Miami, including a 41-14 blowout against the Hurricanes last year. This could be a critical spot for Miami coach Al Golden, as he needs to have a good showing against the No. 1 team in the ACC.

3. Georgia Tech at Clemson (Nov. 15)

This rivalry has produced a few entertaining matchups and high-scoring affairs. Last year’s game alone produced 86 points and Clemson has won three out of the last four in this series. This game could be a critical one for Georgia Tech’s Coastal Division title hopes.

4. Virginia Tech at Duke (Nov. 15)
Could this game decide the Coastal Division? The Hokies lost 13-10 to Duke last year, but Virginia Tech won the previous 12 games in this series.


5. Virginia at Virginia Tech (Nov. 28)
The Commonwealth Cup is on the line, but this game also could have ACC title implications. Virginia Tech has won 10 in a row over its in-state rival.
 

Next up: Florida State at Louisville (Oct. 30), Florida at Florida State (Nov. 29), Miami at Virginia Tech (Oct. 23), Clemson at South Carolina (Nov. 29)


Projecting the Final 2014 ACC Standings
 David
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Atlantic    
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5.
6.
7.
 David 
Fox
Braden
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Lassan
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Coastal    
1.
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6.
7.
ACC
Champ:

 

 

Teaser:
ACC 2014 Second-Half Predictions and Midseason Review
Post date: Monday, October 13, 2014 - 15:00
Path: /college-football/washingtons-offense-shows-progress-critical-showdown-against-oregon-next
Body:

Washington’s Pac-12 North title hopes took a hit after the 20-13 loss to Stanford on Sept. 27, but there’s renewed optimism about Chris Petersen’s team after a 31-7 win over California.

The 31-7 victory over the Golden Bears could be Washington’s best all-around performance from 2014. Sure, California is still progressing under second-year coach Sonny Dykes and finished 1-11 last year, but the Huskies were an underdog entering Saturday’s matchup.

Washington’s offense struggled mightily against Stanford, averaging just 2.6 yards per play and finishing with just 98 passing yards. California’s defense isn’t one of the best in the Pac-12, but the Huskies showed signs of life on Saturday. The 5.7 yards per play (just 67 plays) mark against the Golden Bears is the third-highest total of the season. That may seem like a small feat, but the highest totals came against Eastern Washington and Illinois.

Quarterback Cyler Miles benefited from the bye week and responded with his best effort of the season. Again, California’s defense isn’t one of the best in the Pac-12 and was dealing with injuries to a couple of key players, but Miles threw for a season-high 273 yards and added three scores. The sophomore also recorded a solid 12.4 yards per completion mark and did not throw an interception for the fifth consecutive game.

The offensive line gave up four sacks in the loss to Stanford but allowed Miles to be sacked just twice on 29 pass attempts. And the line’s solid play translated to the rushing attack as running backs Lavon Coleman and Dwayne Washington each averaged 4.4 yards per carry.

Washington’s offense is far from a finished product, but the performance against California is a good sign before a key stretch on the 2014 schedule. And a timely one.

The Huskies are still in the mix for the North Division title but need a win over Oregon this Saturday to stake their claim in the race.

After Saturday’s game against the Ducks, Washington hosts Arizona State, followed by a road date against Colorado, a home matchup against UCLA and then game at Arizona.

There are simply no breaks in the Pac-12 schedule, and a two-loss team likely wins the conference title.

Washington’s defense is already one of the best in the conference. Did its offense turn a corner in Saturday’s win over California? Perhaps. But a better gauge of where the Huskies stand in Petersen’s first year is coming next Saturday with a trip to Eugene. California was a positive step. Now, let's see if Washington's offense takes a big step forward against the Ducks. 

Teaser:
Washington's Offense Shows Progress With Critical Showdown Against Oregon Up Next
Post date: Monday, October 13, 2014 - 10:00
Path: /college-football/indianas-bowl-hopes-clouded-shoulder-injury-qb-nate-sudfeld
Body:

Indiana quarterback Nate Sudfeld suffered a separated shoulder in Saturday’s loss to Iowa, clouding the bowl hopes of a program that hoped to breakthrough in coach Kevin Wilson’s fourth season.

 

It’s uncertain how long Sudfeld will be sidelined, but his absence will be felt if he cannot play on Saturday against Michigan State.

Following the Hoosiers’ matchup against the Spartans, there’s a bye before finishing the year on a challenging five-game stretch.

Sudfeld was expected to be one of the Big Ten’s top quarterbacks in 2014, but the junior has only one game of more than 252 passing yards. A transition at receiver has slowed the development of Indiana’s offense, which averaged 38.4 points per game. After six games, the Hoosiers are down to a 32.3 mark in 2014.

 

Perhaps Sudfeld will only miss a game or two, but any absence by the junior quarterback is a setback to Indiana’s bowl hopes.

Backup Chris Covington switched from linebacker to quarterback in the fall and completed only 3 of 12 passes for 31 yards and two interceptions in the 45-29 loss to the Hawkeyes.

Running back Tevin Coleman is one of the nation’s best, but the junior doesn’t have much help in the passing department if Sudfeld is sidelined.

At 3-3 and still searching for their first Big Ten win of 2014, the Hoosiers need Sudfeld back in the lineup as soon as possible. Covington has good athleticism, but he’s developing as a passer. Having a quarterback make his first career start against Michigan State’s defense is a nightmare scenario for Wilson.

The schedule simply isn’t going to get any easier for Indiana. If Sudfeld returns by November, games against Penn State, Rutgers and Purdue are winnable, giving hope that Wilson can provide a breakthrough season in 2014. But in addition to Sudfeld's health, Indiana needs more from its defense, which has allowed 30 or more points in three games this year.

If Sudfeld is sidelined for an extended period of time, Indiana will be outside of the bowl picture once again. Wilson shouldn't be on the hot seat, but he could be facing a make-or-break year in 2015 if the Hoosiers finish 4-8 or 5-7 this year.

Teaser:
Indiana's Bowl Hopes Clouded by Injury to QB Nate Sudfeld
Post date: Monday, October 13, 2014 - 09:15
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Texas Longhorns, Big 12, News
Path: /college-football/tyrone-swoopes-development-positive-sign-texas-and-charlie-strong-2014
Body:

Texas coach Charlie Strong won’t celebrate a moral victory, but the first-year coach has to be encouraged with the play of quarterback Tyrone Swoopes. In the 31-26 defeat to Oklahoma, Swoopes delivered arguably his best performance of 2014.

Swoopes completed 27 of 44 throws for 334 yards and two scores. The sophomore’s 61.4 completion percentage is his best mark in Big 12 play from 2014, and he added a season-high of 50 yards on the ground.

Both of Swoopes’ touchdowns came after Oklahoma went up 31-13, but the sophomore had an all-around solid effort against a good Oklahoma defense.

The Sooners’ defense allowed 33 points to West Virginia and 37 to TCU, but that’s life in the Big 12. High-scoring games are the norm, and life as a defensive coordinator or player isn't easy. Oklahoma’s defensive front was projected to be one of the best in the nation this year, and its secondary is headlined by potential All-American Zack Sanchez.

 

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Swoopes’ performance and growth under center is a huge positive for Strong’s rebuilding effort. Coordinator Shawn Watson was a key player in the development of Teddy Bridgewater at Louisville, and the veteran assistant is working to mold the offense into Swoopes' strengths. And the mobility of Swoopes will help with a struggling offensive line, while the young quarterback seems to be developing a rapport with receivers John Harris and Jaxon Shipley.

Texas is 2-4 at the midway point of 2014 and needs four wins to get bowl eligible. That’s not going to be easy, as the Longhorns could be underdogs West Virginia, Oklahoma State, TCU and Kansas State.

But with a defense holding opponents to 21.2 points a game and just 4.3 yards per play, any development on offense will give Texas a shot at reaching 6-6 or 7-5 in Strong’s debut.

Just recording six or seven victories certainly isn’t the standard or acceptable at Texas, but Strong needs to build momentum in the win column and off-the-field for recruiting.

Swoopes is far from a finished product, but provided Texas can surround its young quarterback with more help in the trenches and at receiver, the sophomore can help Strong get the program back in the mix for Big 12 titles. And if nothing else, Swoopes' development over the next six (or seven with a bowl) will give Texas momentum heading into 2015.

 

Teaser:
Tyrone Swoopes' Development a Positive Sign for Texas and Charlie Strong in 2014
Post date: Sunday, October 12, 2014 - 17:07
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Oregon Ducks, Pac 12, News
Path: /college-football/oregon-left-tackle-jake-fisher-pac-12s-most-valuable-player
Body:

Oregon has a Heisman frontrunner in quarterback Marcus Mariota, but left tackle Jake Fisher might be the team’s most valuable player. That’s right, an offensive lineman might be the key to the Ducks’ playoff hopes and position in the national title picture over the next two months.

 

As an offensive lineman, Fisher doesn’t get much recognition playing a less-than-glamorous position.

However, just take a look at the stat sheet for the last three games and it’s apparent just how valuable Fisher is to Oregon.

After the offensive line allowed five sacks to Arizona last Thursday and gave up seven sacks to Washington State on Sept. 20, the Ducks did not give up a sack to UCLA on Saturday.

The result: Oregon won 42-30 and Mariota threw for 210 yards and two scores in a key rebound game for the Ducks. Oregon also averaged 6.9 yards per play - almost a full yard improvement from the 6.0 mark posted against Arizona.

 

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After last week’s loss to Arizona, Oregon had little margin for error. A loss to UCLA likely would have ended the Ducks’ playoff chances. And it’s not outlandish to think a poor performance from Oregon on Saturday would have ended Mariota’s Heisman hopes.

But Fisher’s return brought stability and a much-needed anchor to the offensive line.

Fisher earned honorable mention All-Pac-12 honors in back-to-back seasons (2012-13) and was picked by Athlon Sports to be one of the top linemen in the conference for 2014.

With Fisher back in the lineup, Oregon has more stability and a chance to develop chemistry at a critical time.

Next week, the Ducks host Washington and play Stanford on Nov. 1. The Huskies and Cardinal own two of the best front sevens in the nation, so it’s critical for Oregon to have Fisher back and operating at full strength to protect the blindside of Mariota.

Despite a setback to Arizona, the Ducks are still in the mix for a playoff spot. After an injured line limited the offense against Washington State and Arizona, the return of Fisher is a good sign for Oregon as it hopes to climb back in the playoff discussion.

There’s no doubt Mariota is one of the nation’s best players. But don’t forget about how valuable offensive linemen – especially a standout tackle like Fisher – are to a high-powered offense.  

 

Teaser:
Oregon Left Tackle Jake Fisher is the Pac-12's Most Valuable Player
Post date: Sunday, October 12, 2014 - 15:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/baylors-bryce-petty-athlon-sports-week-7-player-week
Body:

Baylor’s unbeaten record and place atop the Big 12 appeared to be over early in the fourth quarter. Quarterback Bryce Petty threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown, and TCU led 58-37 with less than 12 minutes to play. Against the Horned Frogs' defense, a comeback wasn’t going to be easy.

 

However, behind Petty's right arm, Baylor rallied from a 58-37 deficit in the fourth quarter to claim a 61-58 victory over TCU to remain unbeaten and the team to beat in the Big 12.
 

After the interception return by TCU linebacker Marcus Mallet, the senior was sharp the rest of the way and finished with 510 yards and six scores. The 510 yards and six passing scores were both career highs for Petty, and the senior is Athlon Sports National Player of the Week.


Petty guided the Bears to scores on five of the team’s final six drives, including the game-winning field goal as time expired. None of Baylor’s last six drives lasted more than 2:51 and three spanned at least 70 yards.

Baylor finished with 782 total yards, which was the most allowed by TCU under coach Gary Patterson.

After suffering a back injury against SMU, Petty’s was thought to be on the outside of the Heisman picture. But Saturday’s performance could vault the senior back into Heisman discussion, especially if Baylor remains among the nation's best and in discussion for a spot in college football's playoff.

 

National Defensive Player of the Week: Shaq Thompson, LB, Washington
Thompson led a strong defensive effort for Washington in a 31-7 victory over California. The junior led the Huskies with 11 tackles, broke up one pass and returned a fumble 100 yards for a score in the first quarter. Thompson’s score against California was his fourth defensive touchdown of 2014. 
 

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National Coordinator of the Week: Jeremy Pruitt, Georgia
With the absence of running back Todd Gurley, there was extra pressure on Georgia’s defense on Saturday. The Bulldogs delivered with their best effort of the season in a 34-0 shutout against Missouri. The Tigers managed only 10 first downs, averaged just 3.4 yards per play, forced five turnovers and generated three sacks. Missouri’s offense had only two drives end in Georgia territory. Pruitt was brought in to elevate Georgia’s defense among the nation’s elite, and he’s clearly on the right path halfway through his first season in Athens.
 

National Freshman of the Week: Nick Chubb, RB, Georgia

Chubb averaged only 3.8 yards per rush, but he stepped into a difficult spot and delivered on a big stage for Georgia. The true freshman was pushed into a starting role with Todd Gurley suspended and recorded 143 yards and one touchdown on 38 attempts in Saturday’s 34-0 win over Missouri.

Teaser:
Baylor's Bryce Petty is Athlon Sports' Week 7 Player of the Week
Post date: Sunday, October 12, 2014 - 09:00
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-most-viral-moments-week-7
Body:

Week 7 of college football’s 2014 season is officially in the books. And as expected with every Saturday, there was plenty of excitement, big plays and last-minute wins among the FBS action.

 

In case you missed any action, we tried to capture the big moments of Saturday in one article. The viral wrap-up features key plays, interesting quotes/comments in tweets, uniform unveilings and any major injuries.


College Football's Most Viral Moments from Week 7

 

 

 

 

 



 

 
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Memphis will be wearing these bad boys tonight vs Houston. #GoTigersGo #HOUvsMEM #BeatUH #WaitTilThisYear

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Teaser:
College Football's Most Viral Moments from Week 7
Post date: Sunday, October 12, 2014 - 08:30
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Texas Longhorns, Big 12, News
Path: /college-football/texas-lb-steve-edmond-hits-teammate-face-during-celebration-against-oklahoma
Body:

 Texas linebacker Steve Edmond had a massive fail on his celebration attempt in Saturday’s game against Oklahoma.

Instead of exchanging a high-five with defensive end Caleb Bluiett, Edmond slapped one his fellow defender in the face.

Yes, that’s correct. Massive fail on Edmond’s part.



 

Teaser:
Texas LB Steve Edmond Hits Teammate in Face During Celebration Against Oklahoma
Post date: Saturday, October 11, 2014 - 18:33
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Kentucky Wildcats, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/kentucky-wr-javess-blue-makes-impressive-one-handed-td-catch-against-ulm
Body:

Kentucky receiver Javess Blue led a huge effort from the Wildcats’ offense in Saturday’s 48-14 victory over ULM.

Blue led the team with 108 receiving yards and two scores on just three catches.

One of Blue’s catches was an awesome one-handed grab that is one of the top plays of Week 7:

Teaser:
Kentucky WR Javess Blue Makes Impressive One-Handed TD Catch Against ULM
Post date: Saturday, October 11, 2014 - 18:05
All taxonomy terms: College Football, UCLA Bruins, Pac 12, News
Path: /college-football/ucla-coach-jim-mora-and-defensive-coordinator-jeff-ulbrich-argue-sidelines-against
Body:

UCLA coach Jim Mora and defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich had a bit of a disagreement during the first half of Saturday’s game against Oregon, and the two coaches got into a heated discussion after a touchdown by the Ducks.

Mora appeared to be upset with the defensive playcalling after an Oregon touchdown. And Ulbrich was not happy with the criticism, handing Mora the playsheet and taking off his headset.

Ulbrich returned to his role on the next defensive series for UCLA, but you can bet this sideline disagreement will be a topic of conversation after the game.

Teaser:
UCLA Coach Jim Mora and Defensive Coordinator Jeff Ulbrich Argue on Sidelines Against Oregon
Post date: Saturday, October 11, 2014 - 17:43
All taxonomy terms: ACC, Clemson Tigers, College Football, News
Path: /college-football/clemson-qb-deshaun-watson-leaves-game-against-louisville-hand-injury
Body:

Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson suffered a hand injury in Saturday’s game against Louisville and will not return to the game. Watson’s injury is to his throwing hand and the freshman will be replaced by senior Cole Stoudt.

Coming into Saturday’s game against NC State, Watson completed 73 of 106 passes for 1,181 yards and 12 scores. Watson had tossed only on pick in 106 attempts and rushed for 137 yards and three touchdowns.

Prior to his injury against the Cardinals, Watson had two completions and tossed a pick.

Stoudt began the year as the starter but was replaced by Watson after the loss to Florida State.

In five games, Stoudt completed 42 of 69 passes for 487 yards and one touchdown.

It’s uncertain if this is a long-term injury for Watson or if he will be able to return in Week 8 at Boston College.

Stoudt is a capable option for coach Dabo Swinney and coordinator Chad Morris, but Watson is clearly the better quarterback.

 

Teaser:
Clemson QB Deshaun Watson Suffers Hand Injury Against Louisville
Post date: Saturday, October 11, 2014 - 16:42

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