Articles By Steven Lassan

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

C-USA vs. 
Mountain West

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

C-USA vs.
MAC

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

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

 

** Bold indicates team has accepted bid to bowl.

Teaser:
College Football's Post-Week 13 Bowl Projections 2014
Post date: Tuesday, November 25, 2014 - 10:10
Path: /college-football/virginia-tech-and-virginia-searching-answers-critical-rivalry-matchup
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Virginia and Virginia Tech entered 2014 with different expectations. Thanks to a favorable schedule and a talented defense, the Hokies were pegged by some as the frontrunner in an unpredictable Coastal Division. The Cavaliers had low expectations and were pegged by most preseason prognosticators for the cellar in the Coastal after a 2-10 mark in 2013.

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

Teaser:
Virginia Tech and Virginia Searching for Answers in Critical Rivalry Matchup
Post date: Monday, November 24, 2014 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: ACC, College Football, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac 12, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/oklahomas-samaje-perine-athlon-sports-week-13-player-week
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Melvin Gordon’s single-game FBS rushing record lasted only a week. After the Wisconsin running back gashed Nebraska for 408 yards to pass former TCU running back LaDainian Tomlinson’s record (406) set in 1999, Oklahoma’s Samaje Perine added his name to the top of the record books with a huge performance against Kansas. Perine earned Athlon Sports Week 13 Player of the Week honors by setting a new FBS single-game record with 427 rushing yards in a 44-7 rout over Kansas.

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

Coordinator of the Week: Robb Smith, Arkansas

 

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

 

Freshman of the Week: Nick Wilson, RB, Arizona

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

 

Teaser:
Virginia WR Canaan Severin Makes Nifty One-Handed TD Catch Against Miami
Post date: Saturday, November 22, 2014 - 20:21
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Oregon cruised to an easy win over Colorado in what could be the final home game for quarterback Marcus Mariota.

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

Check out Carrington’s reception:

 

Teaser:
Oregon WR Darren Carrington Makes Catch Against Colorado on Crazy Deflection
Post date: Saturday, November 22, 2014 - 20:09
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A play in Saturday’s Michigan State-Rutgers game was truly a dream for an offensive lineman.

 

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

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

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

Teaser:
Michigan State OL Connor Kruse Records Rushing Attempt Against Rutgers
Post date: Saturday, November 22, 2014 - 16:19
Path: /college-football/usc-trojans-vs-ucla-bruins-game-preview-and-prediction-2014
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The annual battle for bragging rights in Los Angeles resumes on Saturday night when USC visits the Rose Bowl to take on UCLA. In addition to the intra-city rivalry, positioning within the Pac-12 South is up for grabs. Both teams still have South Division title hopes and are part of a four-team group at the top of the division with two losses.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

USC at UCLA

 

Kickoff: 8 p.m. ET (Saturday)

TV Channel: ABC

Spread: UCLA -4

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Final Analysis

 

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

 

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


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

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

 

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

 

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

 

Missouri at Tennessee

 

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

TV Channel: ESPN

Spread: Tennessee -3.5

 

Missouri’s Key to Victory: Balance on Offense


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

 

Tennessee’s Key to Victory: Protect QB Joshua Dobbs

 

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

 

Final Analysis

 

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

 

Prediction: Missouri 27, Tennessee 24  
Teaser:
Missouri Tigers vs. Tennessee Volunteers Game Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, November 21, 2014 - 10:00
Path: /college-football/notre-dame-fighting-irish-vs-louisville-cardinals-game-preview-and-prediction
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Louisville and Notre Dame both enter Week 13 at 7-3, and each program still has plenty left at stake despite sporting a three-loss resume. The Orange Bowl is a possibility for both programs, with the Cardinals having a better shot at a trip to Miami than the Fighting Irish. In order for Louisville to reach the Orange Bowl, coach Bobby Petrino’s team needs to win out and have Georgia Tech lose its finale against Georgia. There are a couple of other dominoes that needs to fall, but a 9-3 Louisville team could be the ACC’s highest-ranked team outside of Florida State.

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

 

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

 

Louisville at Notre Dame

 

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

TV Channel: NBC
Spread: Notre Dame -3

 

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

 

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

 

Notre Dame’s Key to Victory: Limit the Turnovers

 

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

 

Final Analysis

 

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

 

Prediction: Notre Dame 27, Louisville 24
Teaser:
Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. Louisville Cardinals Game Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, November 21, 2014 - 09:30
Path: /college-football/arkansas-razorbacks-vs-ole-miss-rebels-game-preview-and-prediction-2014
Body:

Arkansas and Ole Miss each have two regular season games remaining, and there’s plenty at stake for both programs. The Rebels still have faint SEC West title hopes if they win their last two games and Auburn defeats Alabama in the Iron Bowl. The Razorbacks finally earned a win in SEC play under second-year coach Bret Bielema with a 17-0 victory over LSU last Saturday. Arkansas needs one more victory to get bowl eligible and has two winnable games left on the schedule.

 

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

 

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

 

Ole Miss at Arkansas

 

Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: CBS

Spread: Ole Miss -3.5

 

Arkansas’ Key to Victory: Win the Turnover Battle

 

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

 

Ole Miss’ Key to Victory: Stop the Run


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

 

Final Analysis

 

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

 

Prediction: Ole Miss 27, Arkansas 20
Teaser:
Arkansas Razorbacks vs. Ole Miss Rebels Game Preview and Prediction 2014
Post date: Friday, November 21, 2014 - 09:10
Path: /college-football/nebraska-cornhuskers-vs-minnesota-golden-gophers-game-preview-and-prediction-2014
Body:

Nebraska and Minnesota head into Week 13 needing a victory to keep their Big Ten West Division title hopes alive. The Cornhuskers lost to Wisconsin 59-24 in a record-setting performance by running back Melvin Gordon, while the Golden Gophers fell short in their upset bid over Ohio State (31-24).

 

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

 

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

 

Minnesota at Nebraska

 

Kickoff: Noon ET (Saturday)

TV Channel: ESPN

Spread: Nebraska -10

 

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

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

 

Nebraska’s Key to Victory: Stop the Run

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

 

Final Analysis

 

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

 

Prediction: Nebraska 31, Minnesota 20
Teaser:
Nebraska Cornhuskers vs. Minnesota Golden Gophers Game Preview and Prediction 2014
Post date: Friday, November 21, 2014 - 08:30
Path: /college-football/acc-2014-week-13-preview-and-predictions
Body:

Florida State clinched the Atlantic Division title last Saturday, and there’s a possibility for clarity in the Coastal depending on what happens on Thursday night in Durham. If Duke beats North Carolina, the Blue Devils need to win their regular season finale to claim the division title. But if Duke loses to the Tar Heels, Georgia Tech would clinch a spot in the championship game.

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

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

 

Week 13 Previews and Predictions:

Big 12Big TenPac-12SEC

 

ACC Week 13 Game Power Rankings

 

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

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

 

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


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

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

 

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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

 

Week 13 ACC Predictions

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

Expert Panel

 

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

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


Post-Week 12 Playoff Projection

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

Takeaways From Expert Poll Results

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

Group of 5 Rankings


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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


5. Cincinnati

Record: 6-3

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


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

 

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

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


Games With Playoff/Bowl Implications in Week 13

 

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


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

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


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

Minnesota at Nebraska
Noon ET, ESPN


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

USC at UCLA
8 p.m. ET, ABC


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

Teaser:
College Football's Post-Week 12 Playoff Projection
Post date: Tuesday, November 18, 2014 - 10:00
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-post-week-12-bowl-projections-2014
Body:

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 Minnesota vs.
Utah 

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

 TCU vs.
UCLA 

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

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

** Bold indicates team has accepted bid to bowl.

Teaser:
College Football's Post-Week 12 Bowl Projections 2014
Post date: Tuesday, November 18, 2014 - 10:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Georgia Bulldogs, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/georgia-rb-todd-gurley-suffers-season-ending-acl-tear-against-auburn
Body:

In his first game back from a four-game suspension, Georgia running back Todd Gurley suffered a torn ACL against Auburn and will miss the remainder of the 2014 season


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

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


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

 

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

Teaser:
Georgia RB Todd Gurley Suffers Season-Ending ACL Tear Against Auburn
Post date: Sunday, November 16, 2014 - 18:38
Path: /college-football/florida-states-defense-delivers-second-half-lead-comeback-against-miami
Body:

The feeling for Florida State’s defense was familiar on Saturday night in Sun Life Stadium. The Seminoles trailed 23-10, and the defense did not force a punt through the first two quarters. The Hurricanes were rolling on offense in the first half, averaging 7.8 yards per play and entered the intermission with 319 total yards.

 

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

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

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


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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

Teaser:
Florida State's Defense Delivers in Second Half to Lead Comeback Against Miami
Post date: Sunday, November 16, 2014 - 16:55
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Florida Gators, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/13-coaching-candidates-replace-will-muschamp-florida
Body:

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

 

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13 Candidates to Replace Will Muschamp at Florida

 

Justin Fuente, Head Coach, Memphis

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

 

Hugh Freeze, Head Coach, Ole Miss

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

 

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

 

Jim Harbaugh, Head Coach, San Francisco 49ers

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

 

Mark Hudspeth, UL Lafayette

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

 

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

 

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

 

Dan Mullen, Head Coach, Mississippi State

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

 

Pat Narduzzi, Defensive Coordinator, Michigan State

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

Dan Quinn, Defensive Coordinator, Seattle Seahawks

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

 

Rich Rodriguez, Head Coach, Arizona

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

 

Steve Spurrier, Head Coach, South Carolina

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

 

Bob Stoops, Head Coach, Oklahoma

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

 

Other Names to Watch

 

Tom Herman, Offensive Coordinator, Ohio State

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

 

Doc Holliday, Head Coach, Marshall

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

 

Ruffin McNeill, Head Coach, East Carolina

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

 

Greg Schiano, former Rutgers and NFL coach

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

 

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

 

Kirby Smart, Defensive Coordinator, Alabama

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

 

Charlie Strong, Head Coach, Texas

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

 

Matt Wells, Head Coach, Utah State

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

Teaser:
13 Coaching Candidates to Replace Will Muschamp at Florida
Post date: Sunday, November 16, 2014 - 14:13
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Florida Gators, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/florida-dismisses-coach-will-muschamp
Body:

Florida has announced coach Will Muschamp won't return to Gainesville in 2015. The move comes after the Gators lost to South Carolina 23-20 in overtime in Week 12. Muschamp is expected to coach the last two games of the regular season for Florida. 

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

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

Teaser:
Florida Dismisses Coach Will Muschamp
Post date: Sunday, November 16, 2014 - 11:46
Path: /college-football/wisconsins-melvin-gordon-athlon-sports-week-12-player-week
Body:

Saturday’s game between Wisconsin and Nebraska was billed as one of the best head-to-head running back matchups of the season. However, the highly anticipated duel between two Heisman candidates was a one-sided blowout in favor of Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon.

 

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

 

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


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

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

 

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

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

 

Coordinator of the Week: Jeremy Pruitt, Georgia

 

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

 

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

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

Teaser:
Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon is Athlon Sports' Week 12 Player of the Week
Post date: Sunday, November 16, 2014 - 08:30
Path: /college-football/minnesota-sideline-staffer-dan-lehman-enjoys-ice-cream-during-ohio-state-game
Body:

Minnesota’s Dan Lehman went viral during Saturday’s game against Ohio State. Lehman is a sideline staffer for coach Jerry Kill, and Lehman decided to eat an ice cream bar at the start of the second half.

Eating an ice cream bar is totally fine, but Lehman was enjoying the dessert in a game played in the snow and with temperatures around 20 degrees.

This is definitely a peak moment in Big Ten history.

 

Teaser:
Minnesota Sideline Staffer Dan Lehman Enjoys Ice Cream During Ohio State Game
Post date: Saturday, November 15, 2014 - 18:37
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Kansas Jayhawks, Big 12, News
Path: /college-football/kansas-wr-nigel-king-catches-tipped-pass-crazy-td-reception-against-tcu
Body:

Kansas receiver Nigel King provided one of the top catches of the year in Saturday’s game against TCU.

With Kansas leading 20-17 in the third quarter, King caught a pass off a deflection and tipped it back to himself for a touchdown.

Check out King’s crazy tipped pass and reception for a score against TCU:

 

 

Teaser:
Kansas WR Nigel King Catches Tipped Pass for Crazy TD Catch Against TCU
Post date: Saturday, November 15, 2014 - 18:11
Path: /college-football/florida-state-seminoles-vs-miami-hurricanes-2014-game-preview-and-prediction
Body:

Florida State puts its 25-game winning streak and No. 3 spot in college football’s playoff standings on the line Saturday night with a trip to Miami. The Seminoles have controlled this rivalry over the last few years, but the Hurricanes have improved in coach Al Golden’s fourth year and have a three-game winning streak entering Saturday night’s matchup

 

Replicating the effort and performance from one season to the next is an impossible task. Florida State isn’t as dominant as it was last year, but coach Jimbo Fisher’s team is still among the best in the nation and should have a good shot to repeat if it wins out and makes the four-team playoff. The Seminoles have question marks on the offensive and defensive lines, yet have won four out of their last five games by at least 11 points.

 

Miami’s three losses in 2014 came against quality teams (Nebraska, Georgia Tech and Louisville), but this team has benefited from playing in the Coastal Division – the weaker of the ACC divisions. However, the Hurricanes are just one of three teams that rank inside of the top 10 nationally in total offense and total defense in terms of yards per play. Defense was a huge point of criticism in Miami early in the year, but this unit has played better in recent weeks, and freshman quarterback Brad Kaaya leads the ACC in quarterback rating.

 

Miami owns a slight 29-27 edge in the overall series against Florida State. However, the Seminoles have claimed four in a row over the Hurricanes and seven out of the last nine in the series.

 

Florida State at Miami


Kickoff: 8 p.m. ET (Saturday)
TV Channel: ABC
Spread: Florida State -2.5

Florida State’s Key to Victory: Stop Miami RB Duke Johnson
Johnson suffered a season-ending leg injury in last year’s matchup against Florida State and started the year with four games of less than 100 yards. However, the junior has been nearly unstoppable over the last five games. Johnson has 843 rushing yards in his last five contests, averaging 8.7 yards per carry. The Seminoles rank seventh in the ACC against the run, giving up 135.7 yards per game. In conference-only matchups, Florida State’s numbers are better, allowing just 108.8 yards per game through six ACC games. The Seminoles aren’t strong on the interior as they were last season, especially with the loss of tackle Nile Lawrence-Stample to a season-ending injury earlier in the year. Miami’s offensive line has also experienced its share of injuries, and starting left tackle Ereck Flowers is questionable due to a knee injury. The formula for a Hurricanes victory is simple. Johnson needs to have a huge performance and keep Florida State’s offense on the sideline. If Johnson has success, it should open up play-action passes for quarterback Brad Kaaya.

Miami’s Key to Victory: Limit the Big Plays from Florida State’s Offense
The Seminoles averaged 51.6 points per game last season but have dipped to 37.9 in 2014. Why the drop in production? It starts up front with the offensive line. Center Austin Barron has missed the last four games due to an arm injury but could return for action on Saturday. That’s good news for a group averaging just four yards per carry in 2014. In addition to Barron’s return, the Seminoles will be at full strength in the backfield on Saturday night. Running back Dalvin Cook suffered a hip injury against Virginia but is expected to play. Backfield mate Mario Pender has missed three games in a row due to injury and is also expected to be at full strength. Starter Karlos Williams is averaging 4.4 yards per carry but expect to see plenty of Cook and Pender on Saturday night. Quarterback Jameis Winston has carried more of the offensive workload with a struggling offensive line and rushing attack, and the sophomore has 11 interceptions through 294 attempts. Winston threw for 325 yards and two picks in last year’s game against Miami. The Hurricanes have allowed only nine passing plays of 30 yards or more this year and that trend needs to continue on Saturday. Limit the big plays by Florida State and force Winston and his receivers to work the ball down the field in small chunks.

 

Final Analysis

 

As evidenced on the stat sheet and on film, Miami has improved this year. This is a huge game for recruiting purposes in Florida, and it’s also a chance for Golden to show how far the Hurricanes have come over the last four years. Florida State isn’t as dominant as it was in 2013. But that’s not a huge issue. This Seminoles’ team still has a lot of talent and has an edge in that department on Saturday night. Miami keeps it close with Johnson’s running and limits Florida State’s overall possessions by controlling the clock. However, the Seminoles have the better quarterback and a recent edge in this rivalry. Florida State wins by a touchdown and extends its winning streak to 26 games.

 

Prediction: Florida State 34, Miami 27

Teaser:
Florida State Seminoles vs. Miami Hurricanes 2014 Game Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, November 14, 2014 - 10:30
Path: /college-football/arkansas-razorbacks-vs-lsu-tigers-2014-game-preview-and-prediction
Body:

Due to conference realignment, Arkansas and LSU won’t meet on Black Friday anymore, but the rivalry between these two schools still exists with the annual Battle for the Boot. And this year’s meeting still has plenty of intrigue, as the Razorbacks are searching for their first SEC win under coach Bret Bielema, while LSU is looking to bounce back after a tough loss against Alabama in overtime last Saturday.

The series between Arkansas and LSU has produced several close games in recent memory. The Razorbacks have lost four out of the last five meetings to the Tigers, but last year’s matchup was only a four-point win for LSU. And very little has separated these two programs in their annual matchup, as eight out of the last nine games were decided by a touchdown or less. Most of Arkansas’ home matchups against LSU in recent years have been played in Little Rock, but this season’s game takes place in Fayetteville. The Razorbacks have not defeated the Tigers in Fayetteville since 1992 and trail in the overall series 36-20-2.

 

LSU at Arkansas

 

Kickoff: 8 p.m. ET (Saturday)
TV Channel: ESPN2
Spread: Arkansas -2

Arkansas’ Key to Victory: Stop the Run

The key to beating LSU is to win the battle at the line of scrimmage. Arkansas is allowing 168 rushing yards per game but has held opponents to just three rushing scores in five home contests. The Razorbacks have allowed three consecutive opponents to rush for at least 128 yards, with Georgia torching Arkansas for 207 yards on 39 attempts. LSU leads the SEC in rushing attempts (494) and averages 4.5 yards per attempt. The Tigers feature four players with at least 260 rushing yards, but true freshman Leonard Fournette is the team’s best option (736 yards). Fournette will challenge a good Arkansas defensive front, and stopping the true freshman will play a huge role in how this game is decided. Quarterback Anthony Jennings has yet to complete more than 50 percent of his throws in a game against Power 5 opponents and has completed only eight passes in back-to-back games. Arkansas needs to load the box and stop Fournette, which will force Jennings to take to the air to win this matchup.

LSU’s Key to Victory: Get Arkansas into Third-and-Long Situations


It may sound like a broken record in the keys to victory for both teams, but Arkansas and LSU are very similar in terms of style of play on offense. The Razorbacks boast a massive offensive line and average 248.2 yards per game on the ground. Junior Jonathan Williams leads the team with 877 yards, but sophomore Alex Collins isn’t far behind with 840 yards. Both players have 10 rushing touchdowns. Considering Arkansas has made strides on defense this year and owns one of the SEC’s best rushing attacks, why hasn’t this team won a game in conference play? The answer isn’t as simple as the passing attack, but the Razorbacks need more through the air. Quarterback Brandon Allen has been a better player at home (61% completion percentage to 54% on road) and has struggled on third downs with more than seven yards to go (17 of 38 for 270 yards and three picks). Arkansas wants to establish its rushing attack, but it also needs Allen to hit a few throws to keep the defense off balance. LSU’s defense has played better in recent weeks, and stopping the Razorbacks’ rushing attack and forcing Allen into obvious passing situations would give Les Miles’ team an edge on the scoreboard.

 

Final Analysis

 

Arkansas has been on the doorstep of a couple of conference wins this year. The Razorbacks lost in overtime to Texas A&M, lost by a point to Alabama and was defeated by a touchdown at Mississippi State – the No. 1 team in the playoff rankings. LSU has rebounded from a slow start in SEC play, but the Tigers are coming off an emotional, hard-hitting game against Alabama. Everything points to an Arkansas victory. Will the Tigers win another crazy, last-minute affair under Les Miles? Nothing in this game would be a surprise, but the guess here is the Razorbacks break through and win their first SEC game under Bielema.

 

Prediction: Arkansas 24, LSU 20

Teaser:
Arkansas Razorbacks vs. LSU Tigers 2014 Game Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, November 14, 2014 - 10:00
Path: /college-football/georgia-bulldogs-vs-auburn-tigers-2014-game-preview-and-prediction
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There’s usually plenty on the line when Auburn and Georgia meet in The Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry, but there’s a little extra incentive for both teams on Saturday. The Bulldogs hope to enact a little revenge against the Tigers for last year’s last-minute Hail Mary connection and keep their SEC East title hopes alive. And of course, there’s no shortage of storylines for coach Mark Richt’s team with the return of running back Todd Gurley from a suspension. Auburn needs a win to keep its slim playoff hopes alive, but coach Gus Malzahn’s team is also fighting for bowl positioning. If the Tigers finish 9-3 or 10-2, this squad should have an opportunity to play in one of the New Year’s bowl matchups.   


Both teams enter Saturday’s matchup at 7-2, but this is the final SEC game for Georgia in 2014, while Auburn still has a showdown against Alabama on Nov. 29. The Bulldogs lost in Jacksonville against Florida (38-20) on Nov. 1 and lost control of the East Division. However, with a win over Auburn and a Missouri loss, Georgia will play in the SEC Championship. Auburn needs some help in order to play for the West Division title, but even at two losses, the Tigers aren’t out of the mix for a trip to Atlanta.

 

Georgia and Auburn have met 117 times on the gridiron. The Tigers own a 55-54-8 series edge over the Bulldogs. Auburn won last year’s meeting 43-38, but Georgia has won two out of the last three games in this series.

 

Auburn at Georgia

 

Kickoff: 7:15 p.m. ET (Saturday)

TV Channel: ESPN

Spread: Georgia -2.5

 

Auburn’s Key to Victory: Test the Georgia Front Seven

Georgia’s rush defense struggled in its last two games (Florida and Kentucky), but the front seven is still the strength of coordinator Jeremy Pruitt’s defense. The secondary was a concern heading into 2014 but has allowed 10 passing scores in seven conference games. Without receiver Duke Williams, Georgia can devote more attention on Sammie Coates. Assuming the Bulldogs find the right solution to contain Coates and quarterback Nick Marshall, will this defense win the battle at the point of attack? In last year’s game, Auburn rushed for 323 yards (5.7 ypc) and four scores. If the Tigers repeat that total on Saturday, it’s going to be difficult for Georgia to win. Marshall is always dangerous with the ball in his hands, but he’s not the only threat on the ground. Senior Cameron Artis-Payne has 1,190 yards (5.7 ypc), and speedster Corey Grant is also an option. Are Georgia’s recent struggles against rushing games an aberration? Or have teams found something to attack the front seven? Auburn’s rushing attack should provide a good litmus test for the Bulldogs after struggling to stop Florida just a few weeks ago.
 

Georgia’s Key to Victory: Control the Tempo and Pace of Play
Auburn wants to play at a quicker pace than Georgia, hoping its up-tempo, spread attack will force the Bulldogs out of their comfort zone on offense. Georgia quarterback Hutson Mason has been efficient this year, completing 69 percent of his passes and throwing only three picks. However, the Bulldogs would like to win this game by establishing their ground attack, which ranks second in the SEC with an average of 256.3 yards per game. Freshman Nick Chubb has filled in admirably during Gurley’s suspension, recording at least 143 yards in each of the last four games. Gurley is expected to start on Saturday, but Chubb will see his share of carries. Auburn’s defense is allowing 159.2 rushing yards per game in SEC action. If the Bulldogs establish their style of play, control the clock and let Gurley and Chubb dictate the pace of the tempo, Auburn will have a tough time winning in Athens.

 

Final Analysis

 

This is a huge revenge game for Georgia. Combine a hungry Bulldogs team with Todd Gurley’s return, and it’s easy to see why Auburn is a slight underdog. It’s tough to envision the Tigers losing two consecutive games under coach Gus Malzahn, but this is a tough matchup for Auburn. The style of play and overall tempo will be critical. If Georgia controls the pace with its rushing attack, the Tigers are going to have their hands full. But if Auburn jumps out to an early lead and its up-tempo attack forces the Bulldogs to throw more, the upper hand will go to Malzahn’s team. This should be one of the best matchups of the weekend. Georgia gets revenge for last year’s game and stays alive in the East Division.

 

Prediction: Georgia 34, Auburn 31

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The SEC West is once again the epicenter of a college football weekend. Alabama is usually the team at the top of the SEC West, but Mississippi State has worked its way through the nation’s best division and enters Week 12 as the No. 1 team in college football’s playoff committee rankings. Of course, the Bulldogs stay at No. 1 is tenuous, but a loss to the Crimson Tide wouldn’t eliminate coach Dan Mullen’s team from the playoff mix.

 

Alabama opened the 2014 season with a 5-0 start but suffered a 23-17 loss to Ole Miss in Oxford. The Crimson Tide has rebounded since that defeat by winning four in a row, including a 20-13 game at LSU last Saturday. Alabama ranked No. 5 in this week’s committee rankings, but coach Nick Saban’s team controls its destiny into the playoff.

 

Despite Mississippi State’s No. 1 ranking, the good folks in Vegas aren’t putting much stock in this matchup. The Bulldogs are more than a touchdown underdog (8.5 points) but had an easy win over Tennessee-Martin last Saturday and are catching Alabama at the right time. After a physical 60-minute battle with LSU, can the Crimson Tide respond with the same type of effort and performance a week later?

 

Alabama has dominated the overall series against Mississippi State 76-17-3. The Crimson Tide has won six in a row against the Bulldogs and none of those matchups were decided by single digits. Mississippi State’s last win over Alabama in Tuscaloosa transpired in 2006.

 

Mississippi State at Alabama

 

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

TV Channel: CBS

Spread: Alabama -8.5

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. Dak Prescott Against Alabama’s Defense
This is one of the most intriguing matchups of the 2014 season. Alabama is simply an immovable object against the run. The Crimson Tide has allowed only 808 rushing yards this year, limiting opponents to just 2.8 yards per carry. Additionally, coach Nick Saban’s defense has allowed only two rushing scores all year and none over the last three games. While Alabama aims to stop the run and has been tough to run on all year, Mississippi State has to try to establish its ground game. Through five SEC contests, the Bulldogs rank second in the league by averaging 251.8 rushing yards per game and have scored 16 touchdowns. Running back Josh Robinson leads the team with 984 yards, while quarterback Dak Prescott is a close second with 779 yards. Both players have 11 rushing scores and average over five yards per attempt. Mobile quarterbacks have provided plenty of headaches for Alabama in recent years: Auburn and Oklahoma in 2014 and Texas A&M in 2013 and 2012. Can Prescott continue that trend? The Alabama defense is the best Prescott and Robinson have played this year and getting 250 or so rushing yards will be a challenge. However, it’s the small gains that could eventually lead to big plays. Keeping Prescott out of third-and-long situations and using his mobility when the pocket breaks down are two areas for Mullen and his staff to monitor on Saturday.

 

2. Alabama’s Rushing Attack

Alabama still has a few games to help its offensive numbers, but the Crimson Tide rank seventh in the SEC in rushing heading into Saturday’s game against Mississippi State. The No. 7 rank for the rushing attack is the lowest for Alabama in the last seven seasons. And there’s some uncertainty surrounding the running backs for Saturday, as T.J. Yeldon suffered an ankle injury against LSU and may not be at full strength against the Bulldogs. Yeldon has 686 yards this year, while Derrick Henry has 554 on 111 attempts. Alabama’s offensive line isn’t as strong as it has been in recent years, but this rushing attack will challenge the Mississippi State defensive front. The Bulldogs aim to stop the run and have held their SEC opponents to 149.6 rushing yards per game. The defensive line for Mississippi State is loaded with talent, depth and experience, starting with end Preston Smith and continuing to tackles P.J. Jones, Kaleb Eulls and Chris Jones. Can Alabama’s offensive line jell at the right time and create rushing lanes for Yeldon and Henry? Or will Mississippi State win the battle at the point of attack and put the Crimson Tide into long yardage situations?

 

3. Alabama WR Amari Cooper

Timely is the best way to describe Alabama’s passing offense in last week’s win against LSU. Receiver Amari Cooper had a few dropped passes against the Tigers but finished with eight catches for 83 yards and one score. Blake Sims has been a better quarterback in Tuscaloosa than on the road this year. Sims is completing 69.2 percent of his passes at home and has 11 touchdowns to just one interception. The senior has not tossed a pick in four games, and with a tight game expected on Saturday, he needs another zero in the interception column. Cooper (79 catches for 1,215 yards) is by far the top target for Sims, and the junior should have opportunities for big plays against a Mississippi State secondary that has allowed 16 plays of 30 or more yards this season (worst in the SEC). And if the Bulldogs find a way to slow down Cooper, Alabama still has tight end O.J. Howard and fellow receivers DeAndrew White and Christion Jones to target. Even if Mississippi State stops the run, can its secondary find an answer for Cooper?

 

Final Analysis

 

Mississippi State hasn’t played particularly well since its 38-23 win to Auburn. However, that shouldn’t be of concern, as the Bulldogs continue to rise to the challenge each week, especially in a road win against LSU and a home victory over Auburn. The Bulldogs have the pieces to match Alabama but winning in Tuscaloosa requires a perfect effort. Prescott and Robinson may not find a ton of success early, but it’s important to stick with the rushing attack. And when Prescott throws, there are plays to be made against the Crimson Tide secondary. Alabama is coming off a physical game against LSU, so a sluggish start isn’t out of the question. With the Bulldogs’ penchant for giving up big plays in the secondary this year, the Crimson Tide may come out throwing to open up their rushing attack. Mississippi State is catching Alabama at the right time. However, the Crimson Tide finds a way to win this one in the second half, and coach Nick Saban’s team sets up an interesting finale against Auburn on Nov. 29.

 

Prediction: Alabama 27, Mississippi State 20

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