Articles By Steven Lassan

Path: /college-football/20-predictions-second-half-college-footballs-2014-season

The first half of the 2014 college football season is in the books, and it’s time to revisit the preseason predictions and make a few changes for the next eight weeks.

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

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

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

First-Half Awards and Second-Half Predictions
|  |  |  |  | 


20 Predictions for the Second Half of the 2014 Season


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Midseason Reviews and Second-Half Predictions:

2014 College Football First-Half Awards


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

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

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

2. Jeremy Pruitt, Defensive Coordinator, Georgia

3. Todd Grantham, Defensive Coordinator, Louisville

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


2. Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama

3. KD Cannon, WR, Baylor

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

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

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

Biggest Surprise (Team): Mississippi State

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

2. Kentucky

3. Arizona

4. TCU

5. California


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


2. Michigan

3. South Carolina

4. Florida


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


2. Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon

3. Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin

4. Bryce Petty, QB, Baylor

5. Shaq Thompson, LB, Washington


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


2. Brady Hoke, Michigan

3. Tim Beckman, Illinois

4. Bill Blankenship, Tulsa

5. Norm Chow, Hawaii

Best Conference: SEC

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

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

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

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

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

Head Coach on the Rise: Jim McElwain, Colorado State

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

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

5. Bill Clark, UAB

10 Must-See Games for the Second Half

Auburn at Ole Miss (Nov. 1)

Stanford at Oregon (Nov. 1)

Baylor at Oklahoma (Nov. 8)

Ohio State at Michigan State (Nov. 8)

Auburn at Georgia (Nov. 15)

Mississippi State at Alabama (Nov. 15)

USC at UCLA (Nov. 22)

Mississippi State at Ole Miss (Nov. 29)

Auburn at Alabama (Nov. 29)

Notre Dame at USC (Nov. 29)

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


Each week, Athlon Sports hopes to replicate the playoff committee’s work by asking some of college football’s top media members to vote on their top eight teams. The official playoff committee will release its rankings starting on Oct. 28, but this poll will attempt to project how the playoff picture stacks up after each week until the end of the year.


Expert Panel


Bobby Bowden (),
Gene Stallings, (),
Don Nehlen (),
Steven Lassan (), 
Braden Gall (), 
Zac Ellis (),
David Fox (),
Mark Ennis (),
Teddy Mitrosilis (),

Steven Godfrey (),
Matt Brown (),
Rich Cirminiello (),
Brad Crawford (),
Allen Kenney (),
Chris Anderson (),
Kyle Kensing (),
Adam Powell (),
Mitch Light ()
Josh Ward (),
Kevin McGuire (),
Mark Ross (),

Post-Week 7 Playoff Projection

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

Takeaways from Expert Poll Results

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Group of 5 Rankings

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

1. East Carolina

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

2. Marshall

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

3. Boise State

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

4. Colorado State

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

5. Utah State

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

Key Games With Playoff Implications in Week 8

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

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

Baylor at West Virginia
Noon ET, Fox Sports 1

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

Kansas State at Oklahoma

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Missouri at Florida
7 p.m. ET, ESPN2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

College Football's Post-Week 7 Playoff Projection 2014
Post date: Tuesday, October 14, 2014 - 10:00
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-post-week-7-bowl-projections-2014

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


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


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


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


College Football's Post-Week 7 Bowl Projections

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

 Virginia vs.

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

 Minnesota vs.

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


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

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

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

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


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

Midseason Reviews and Second-Half Predictions
|  |  | 


2014 ACC Midseason Review and Second-Half Predictions

Coach of the Year: Mike London, Virginia

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

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

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

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

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

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


Listen to the Week 7 recap podcast:

Subscribe: |

Three Things to Watch in Second Half 

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

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

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

Top Five Games in Second Half


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

2. Florida State at Miami (Nov. 15)

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

3. Georgia Tech at Clemson (Nov. 15)

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

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

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

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

Projecting the Final 2014 ACC Standings



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Listen to the Week 7 recap podcast:

Subscribe: |

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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


Listen to the Week 7 recap podcast:

Subscribe: |

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

Listen to the Week 7 recap podcast:

Subscribe: |


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

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

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

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

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


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

College Football's Most Viral Moments from Week 7








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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Clemson QB Deshaun Watson Suffers Hand Injury Against Louisville
Post date: Saturday, October 11, 2014 - 16:42
Path: /college-football/ole-miss-rebels-vs-texas-am-aggies-game-preview-and-prediction-2014

Texas A&M and Ole Miss enter their Week 7 showdown in College Station with a different mindset following last Saturday’s action. For the Aggies, the matchup against the Rebels represents an opportunity to get back on track after both sides of the ball were dominated in a loss to Mississippi State. On the Ole Miss sideline, this game is another opportunity to prove this team is a SEC West title contender, and the Rebels have a chance to land a potential knockout blow to Texas A&M’s hopes of contending in the SEC West.


Texas A&M is 6-0 in the overall series against Ole Miss. These two teams have met only twice as SEC opponents, with the Aggies winning both games by just three points.


Ole Miss at Texas A&M


Kickoff: 9 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ESPN

Spread: Texas A&M -2


Three Things to Watch


1. Ole Miss’ Secondary

It’s hard to find a weakness on Ole Miss’ defense. The Rebels have allowed only one passing touchdown in five games and limit opposing quarterbacks to just a 53.6 percent completion percentage. And throwing on the secondary means you have time to pass, which is no easy task trying to block a defensive line that’s among the nation’s best. Texas A&M quarterback Kenny Hill started the season by throwing for 511 yards and three scores against South Carolina, and the sophomore tossed just two picks through his first five games. But Hill has struggled (relatively speaking) in his last two outings. The sophomore is completing 56 percent of his throws over his last two contests – a drop from a 69.8 mark through the first four games. And Hill has tossed four picks over his last two matchups and averaged only 5.9 yards per attempt against Mississippi State. Hill’s supporting cast needs to give its young quarterback help, as the receiving corps has struggled with dropped passes. With a talented defensive line and secondary, Ole Miss has the necessary pieces to contain Texas A&M’s offense. Can Hill get back on track against the SEC’s top pass defense? Or will the passing game struggle to take off once again?


2. Texas A&M’s Defense

There has been some improvement from Mark Snyder’s defense in 2014, but Texas A&M is still allowing 6.9 yards per play and 34.7 points per game through three SEC contests. On the bright side, the Aggies lead the conference in sacks (19) and have generated 39 tackles for a loss. With the young talent and depth concerns, it’s going to take time for Texas A&M to build an elite defense. But once again this Saturday, the Aggies are going to have their hands full with another explosive offense. Ole Miss averages 35.8 points per game and is third in the conference in third-down conversions. The Rebels can be careless with the ball (10 turnovers), but coach Hugh Freeze has an offense that’s capable of scoring 35-40 points each week. Texas A&M’s defense has allowed at least 28 points in each of its three SEC games. Will that trend continue on Saturday? And if the Aggies give up a lot of yardage to Ole Miss, can Snyder’s defense force enough turnovers or get stops on third down to limit the damage on the scoreboard?


3. Ole Miss QB Bo Wallace

In order for Ole Miss to knock off Alabama, quarterback Bo Wallace needed a perfect performance. Mission accomplished. The senior completed 58.1 percent of his throws and did not throw an interception on 31 attempts. Will the good Bo Wallace make another appearance this Saturday? Texas A&M’s secondary has been prone to allow big plays this year, giving up eight plays of 30 yards or more through six games. The Aggies have forced only six turnovers this year, and in order to win on Saturday, this unit has to create a few short fields for their offense. If Texas A&M doesn’t get pressure on Wallace and fails to force a turnover, the Rebels’ receiving corps will have plenty of opportunities for big plays.


Final Analysis


Can Ole Miss avoid a major letdown in College Station? That’s the key question on Saturday night. Texas A&M desperately needs a win to stay alive in the West Division title picture, but it’s hard to pick the Aggies to win this game if the defense struggles once again. The Rebels may not open this game particularly sharp on either side of the ball, but Wallace and his receivers hit on a few big plays in the second half to allow Ole Miss to remain unbeaten.


Prediction: Ole Miss 34, Texas A&M 27

Ole Miss Rebels vs. Texas A&M Aggies Game Preview and Prediction 2014
Post date: Friday, October 10, 2014 - 10:30
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Georgia Bulldogs, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/nick-chubb-pushed-spotlight-todd-gurleys-replacement-georgia

The suspension of running back Todd Gurley has significantly altered the outlook of Georgia’s backfield for Saturday’s game against Missouri. Freshman Nick Chubb is expected to be Gurley’s replacement this week, and the true freshman is an intriguing player to watch in a critical matchup.

Chubb was a five-star recruit for coach Mark Richt, ranking as the No. 34 overall prospect in the 247Sports Composite in the 2014 signing class. The Georgia native was regarded as a top-five recruit at running back and wasn’t expected to have a significant role in the backfield this year.

But at least for Saturday, the future is now in Athens, as Chubb is the Bulldogs’ best option at running back.

Junior Keith Marshall is dealing with a sprained knee and ankle and won’t be available, and fellow freshman Sony Michel is out due to a shoulder injury.

Chubb has rushed for 224 yards and two touchdowns on 31 attempts in 2014 but has not attempted more than 11 rushes in a game this year.

Expect that to change on Saturday, as Chubb is now Georgia’s featured rusher and needs to be ready to handle 25-30 carries.

Missouri’s rush defense ranks No. 8 in the SEC and allowed 241 carries to Indiana on Sept. 20. Needless to say, the opportunities are there for Chubb to find running lanes. 

It’s a lot to ask Chubb to completely replicate Gurley’s production, as the junior was arguably the leader for the Heisman and was a first-team All-America selection at the midpoint of the season.

But Chubb has the skill-set to be an every-down back for coordinator Mike Bobo. The 5-foot-11 rusher has good speed and size and is capable of handling a full workload in the SEC.

So far, the limited sample size suggests Chubb is capable of living up to his recruiting hype. Now, it’s time for the true freshman to deliver. Georgia doesn’t have any other options on Saturday, and the Bulldogs somehow need Chubb to fill Gurley’s shoes.

Gurley’s overall production and value to the team won’t be replaced, but Chubb is a future star in Athens and is capable of performing at a high level in this situation. With the spotlight on the true freshman on Saturday, he will be one of the most intriguing players to watch in Week 7.

Not having Gurley for a critical game in the East Division standings isn’t ideal, but as long as Chubb stays healthy on Saturday, he’s got the talent to keep Missouri’s defense off balance for quarterback Hutson Mason.

Chubb wasn’t expected to start in 2014. However, it’s his time to shine on Saturday. Even though Gurley leaves big shoes to fill, everything suggests the true freshman is up to the task. Can Chubb help keep Georgia's SEC East title hopes alive? 

Nick Chubb Pushed Into Spotlight as Todd Gurley's Replacement at Georgia
Post date: Friday, October 10, 2014 - 10:00
Path: /college-football/auburn-tigers-vs-mississippi-state-bulldogs-game-preview-and-prediction-2014

For the second week in a row, Mississippi is the epicenter of Saturday’s slate. But after Oxford grabbed the spotlight last week, the focus shifts south to Starkville, as Mississippi State hosts Auburn in a meeting of two top-five teams. The Bulldogs easily handled Texas A&M last week, while Auburn cruised to a 41-7 victory over LSU. Considering the brutal SEC West provides few breaks, a loss on Saturday doesn’t necessarily end the hopes of either team to win the conference. However, it certainly doesn’t help, as Mississippi State and Auburn both have to play Alabama and Ole Miss, while the Tigers catch Georgia in one of their crossover games with the East Division.


The message is pretty simple: Win on Saturday and take control of the SEC West – at least for now. And brace for a brutal second-half schedule.


Auburn has dominated the overall series against Mississippi State. The Tigers own a 58-26-3 edge over the Bulldogs and won last year’s game 24-20. However, three of the last four meetings between these two teams have been decided by a touchdown or less. Mississippi State’s last win over Auburn was in 2012 (28-10).


Auburn at Mississippi State


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

Three Things to Watch

1. Auburn’s Defense

As expected in the second year under coordinator Ellis Johnson, Auburn’s defense has taken a step forward on the stat sheet. The Tigers are allowing just 4.6 yards per play – No. 13 nationally after ranking No. 95 in 2013. Auburn’s defense also ranks second in the SEC by limiting opponents to just 14.4 points per game, second in the SEC in red zone defense and has generated 35 tackles for a loss. That’s the positive side of the numbers. On the downside, the Tigers have yet to play an offense with the explosive ability of Mississippi State. The Bulldogs are incredibly balanced, averaging 267.4 passing yards per game and 274.4 rushing yards a contest. Auburn’s defense will bend, but Johnson has put the clamps on opposing offenses on third downs and in the red zone. No defense has found the right answer to stopping quarterback Dak Prescott and running back Josh Robinson. Will the Tigers find the right formula on Saturday?

2. The Quarterbacks

Saturday’s huge showdown is a chance for both quarterbacks to stake their claim in the Heisman conversation. Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott averages 335.6 yards per game (8.2 yards per touch) and has accounted for 20 touchdowns through five contests. In last year’s game, Prescott passed for 213 yards and rushed for 133 yards and two scores in the Tigers’ 24-20 victory. Considering Prescott’s success last season and his offseason improvement, the junior presents a unique challenge to an Auburn defense that has played better so far in 2014. With all of the hype surrounding Prescott, it’s easy to forget how successful Nick Marshall has been for Auburn. The senior has passed for 755 yards and eight touchdowns and rushed for 392 yards and four scores so far in 2014. Marshall has tossed only one pick on 95 attempts and has three 100-yard rushing games over his last four contests. If you had to rank SEC quarterbacks, most would agree Prescott ranks ahead of Marshall in 2014 performance. And Prescott ranks ahead of Marshall in Heisman expert polls. Can the senior (Marshall) who is flying under the radar upstage the rising star in Prescott?

3. The Battle in the Trenches

Prescott and Marshall, along with skill talent in running backs Josh Robinson (Mississippi State) and Cameron Artis-Payne (Auburn) and receivers Jameon Lewis (Mississippi State) and Sammie Coates and Duke Williams (Auburn) should steal the show on Saturday. But don’t forget about the battle in the trenches, where it’s strength versus strength for both teams. Mississippi State’s front seven on defense has been tough to penetrate in 2014, limiting opponents to just 2.9 yards per carry and only two rushing scores. Marshall, Artis-Payne and speedster Corey Grant will test the effectiveness of the rush defense for the Bulldogs, and if they have success, Auburn’s playmakers on the outside will have opportunities to make plays against Mississippi State’s secondary. When the Bulldogs have the ball, they could struggle to find running room on the ground against the No. 3 rush defense in the SEC. Prescott and Robinson combined for 184 rushing yards against Texas A&M. Can Auburn’s rush defense – which has not allowed an opponent to record more than 138 yards in each of its last four games – hold strong at the point of attack?

Final Analysis


Mississippi State has arrived as a SEC title contender under coach Dan Mullen. Winning in Starkville is not easy, but Mullen has stayed the course, recruited and developed the right talent, and the Bulldogs are on the doorstep of owning the No. 1 ranking in most national polls. Just as Mississippi State is Auburn’s biggest challenge this year, the Bulldogs are facing their best opponent of 2014. The home-field advantage is huge a plus for Mullen, along with the return of receiver Jameon Lewis from injury and center Dillon Day from suspension. Offensive fireworks are expected with two offenses averaging over 40 points per game. However, don’t be surprised if this game is a lower-scoring matchup than most expect. Picking a winner isn’t easy. These two teams are relatively even.

Prediction: Auburn 34, Mississippi State 31

Auburn Tigers vs. Mississippi State Bulldogs Game Preview and Prediction 2014
Post date: Friday, October 10, 2014 - 09:30
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Georgia Bulldogs, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/todd-gurleys-suspension-significantly-impacts-heisman-playoff-and-sec-title-picture

Georgia running back Todd Gurley has been suspended indefinitely as a result of a NCAA investigation. The junior is under investigation for exchanging his autograph and use of likeness in exchange for compensation.

Gurley’s suspension is indefinite, so it’s hard to gauge how long the junior running back will be sidelined. However, make no mistake: Gurley is one of the nation’s best players and was considered the frontrunner for the Heisman Trophy. This is a huge loss for the Bulldogs.

In five games this year, Gurley has recorded 773 yards and eight rushing scores on 94 attempts. Gurley averaged 8.2 yards per carry in 2014 and added a kickoff return for a touchdown against Clemson.

There’s no doubt Georgia is going to miss Gurley. But how big of a loss is the junior? Let’s dive into the implications and what it means for the Bulldogs.


Impact of Gurley's Suspension on SEC East 


The favorite for the SEC East is really anyone’s guess. Missouri is the only unbeaten team within the division (1-0), and Georgia, Florida and Kentucky all sit at 2-1 after three conference games.

While it’s possible Gurley could return after just a couple of games, his absence this Saturday will be felt. Georgia travels to Missouri to take on the Tigers, in what should be one of the SEC’s marquee games. The winner of Saturday’s matchup should take an early lead in the East Division.

The schedule for Georgia doesn’t get any easier next week, as the Bulldogs travel to Little Rock to take on Arkansas, and play Florida on Nov. 1.

Again, it’s possible Gurley is back in a couple of games, but if Georgia has two or three SEC losses, it’s tough to see this team getting back in the mix for the conference title.

Even though Gurley is out, the Bulldogs aren’t in major trouble against Missouri. This roster still has plenty of talent, starting with a stout front seven on defense, and the passing attack should improve with receiver Malcolm Mitchell returning.

Outside of Vanderbilt, it’s too early to eliminate any team in the East Division conversation. But Georgia’s division title hopes look grim without Gurley in the lineup.

Who Replaces Gurley?

Georgia’s backfield was touted as one of the best in the nation in most preseason unit rankings. But injuries have altered the outlook for this unit. Junior Keith Marshall is dealing with a sprained ankle and knee and will miss his third consecutive game. Freshman Sony Michel ranks third on the team with 223 yards and averaged 9.7 yards per carry, but he’s dealing with a shoulder injury and is likely to be out until November.

With the injuries to Marshall and Michel, a backfield that was overflowing with depth is down to freshman Nick Chubb. The Georgia native ranked as the No. 5 running back in the 2014 signing class by 247Sports and has 224 yards and two scores on 31 attempts.

Chubb is clearly set to become the No. 1 back for coach Mark Richt, with Brendan Douglas also expected to work into the backfield.

It’s a longshot, but freshman all-purpose threat Isaiah McKenzie could see more snaps in the backfield. Depth is limited, so McKenzie and Douglas will be the top options to spell Chubb.

Considering the Bulldogs are down on depth at running back, this is where the offense needs a big effort from quarterback Hutson Mason to compensate for a rushing game that won’t be as potent.


Heisman Hopes Over?

In following the games from Week 6, Gurley ranked as the favorite for the Heisman. The junior recorded 59 points to Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott’s 55, while Gurley had an eight to five edge on first-place votes.

Barring a last-minute turnaround, Gurley won’t play against Missouri and his Heisman hopes are likely finished.

If Gurley’s Heisman hopes are indeed over, it’s a wide-open race for the No. 1 spot. Prescott would slide into the favorite spot by default, but this opens the door for Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota, Notre Dame signal-caller Everett Golson and Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon.

The halfway point of the college season officially arrives after Week 7. And if Prescott and Mississippi State loses to Auburn, it’s fair to say there is no clear frontrunner and the Heisman is really up for grabs in the final eight weeks.

Playoff Impact

Georgia did not receive a vote in following the games from Week 6.

However, the Bulldogs were squarely on the radar as a team that could play their way into contention with just one loss.

But as we mentioned above, it’s going to be significantly tougher to go into Missouri and win without the best player in the SEC.

If Georgia loses this Saturday, it seems likely Mark Richt’s team won’t be able to make the playoffs.  

Todd Gurley's Suspension Significantly Impacts Heisman, Playoff and SEC Title Picture
Post date: Thursday, October 9, 2014 - 22:34
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Georgia Bulldogs, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/georgia-rb-todd-gurley-suspended-indefinitely

Georgia running back Todd Gurley has been suspended indefinitely as a result of an investigation into a violation of NCAA rules.

According to ESPN, Gurley is under investigation for the use of his likeness and money for memorabilia.

Gurley is the leading candidate for the Heisman Trophy and has rushed for 773 yards and eight touchdowns in five games.

With Gurley sidelined, Georgia is expected to lean on true freshman Nick Chubb at running back.

Gurley’s suspension is a huge loss for a team entering a critical stretch of the season. The Bulldogs play at Missouri this Saturday and travel to Arkansas next Saturday.

Georgia RB Todd Gurley Suspended Indefinitely
Post date: Thursday, October 9, 2014 - 20:19
Path: /college-football/louisvilles-bobby-petrino-winning-defense-not-offense-so-far-2014

Louisville and coach Bobby Petrino is winning with defense. Yes, that’s right. One of college football’s top offensive minds has turned to the dark (defensive) side to win games in 2014.

Petrino’s arrival was expected to keep Louisville’s offense among the best in the ACC this year, but the Cardinals rank seventh in its new conference in scoring (33.3 ppg) and average 5.2 yards per play.

But if you remove the non-conference slate, Louisville’s offense ranks in the middle of the ACC.

The Cardinals are averaging just 4.8 yards per play through four conference contests and have scored above 25 points only twice in the ACC.

A struggling offensive line is largely to blame for Louisville’s problems on offense this season. Despite having four starters, the Cardinals have allowed 19 sacks – including 14 in four ACC games. That’s on pace to easily shatter last year’s mark (26), while rushers are averaging only 3.8 yards per play.

In addition to the offensive line, the increased competition, coaching change and quarterback carousel have all factored into Louisville’s offense not taking off in 2014.

While the offense is struggling, Louisville’s defense has carried this team through the first six games.

The Cardinals lead the ACC by holding opponents to 12.7 points per game and have allowed just four touchdowns in four conference games. New coordinator Todd Grantham’s defense is also allowing just 3.8 yards per play after giving up 4.2 in 2013. Total yardage can be a misleading statistic, but Louisville has not allowed an opponent to reach 300 yards in a game this year.

The Cardinals have been aggressive around the line of scrimmage, ranking fourth in the ACC with 44 tackles for a loss, third in the conference in sacks (21), and the defense has forced 15 turnovers (second-most in ACC).

Adding to the impressive start for Louisville’s defense is the unit had to transition to a 3-4 scheme after operating out of a 4-3 under Charlie Strong.


Despite four returning starters, this unit has managed to build off a strong finish to 2013. Rush end linebacker Lorenzo Mauldin is off to a fast start (26 tackles, 9 TFL, 4 sacks), but the senior has help from sophomore Keith Kelsey (37 stops), junior lineman Sheldon Rankins (three sacks), while James Sample, Gerod Holliman and Terell Floyd have solidified the safety position, which was arguably the biggest concern for the defense entering 2014.

Grantham’s hire was met with some skepticism after Georgia allowed 29 points per game in 2013. However, Grantham has been able to blend the returning personnel to his 3-4 fit and has Louisville’s defense ranked near the top of the ACC in key defensive categories.

But there’s a key challenge coming for Louisville and Grantham: The schedule. After playing just one offense ranked inside of the , the Cardinals will play six the rest of the year. Louisville will play three potential All-ACC quarterbacks in Jameis Winston, Deshaun Watson and Jacoby Brissett in October.

There’s no doubt the competition and quarterback play will increase over the second half of the season. But so far, Grantham and Louisville appears to be up for the challenge, especially if the defense can continue to create havoc at the line of scrimmage and force turnovers.

Also, Louisville’s offense should improve through the final six games. The Cardinals’ offensive line remains a concern, but freshman Reggie Bonnafon or sophomore Will Gardner are capable quarterbacks for Petrino’s offense. Bonnafon and Gardner also have additional help in the form of receiver DeVante Parker potentially returning to the lineup this week against Clemson.

The Cardinals are off to a 5-1 start in their first year of ACC play and are set to finish the year with a challenging six-game slate, including a road trip to Clemson this Saturday, followed by games against Florida State, Notre Dame and rival Kentucky in the finale.

In an odd twist, Louisville’s defense is carrying this team through the first six games. The Cardinals need their defense to keep performing at the current pace, while getting more from the offense if they want to knock off Florida State or Clemson in ACC play in 2014.

Petrino will eventually get the offense on track. But until that happens, Louisville is poised to use its defense to navigate a difficult schedule in the second half of the season. 

Louisville's Bobby Petrino Surprisingly Winning With Defense - Not Offense - in 2014
Post date: Thursday, October 9, 2014 - 15:23
All taxonomy terms: ACC, College Football, NC State Wolfpack, News
Path: /college-football/nc-state-unveils-new-helmet-saturdays-game-against-boston-college

NC State hopes to earn its first ACC win under second-year coach Dave Doeren this Saturday, as the Wolfpack host Boston College.

And to help NC State’s victory hopes, the program unveiled a new helmet for Saturday’s game.

The helmet features a logo of Tuffy (the name of the school’s mascot) instead of the normal power “S” on the side.

Check out NC State’s new helmet for Week 7:


NC State Unveils New Helmet for Saturday's Game Against Boston College
Post date: Thursday, October 9, 2014 - 12:24
Path: /college-football/sec-2014-week-7-preview-and-predictions

Another week, another huge slate of action in the SEC. Seven ranked teams play this Saturday, with Mississippi State’s showdown against Auburn taking the spotlight in Week 7. The huge matchup in Starkville is a contest with national title implications, and quarterbacks Dak Prescott and Nick Marshall hope to make a Heisman push with a big performance.

Outside of Starkville, the SEC East title race could come into focus with Missouri hosting Georgia. If the Tigers can knock off the Bulldogs, Gary Pinkel’s team would have wins over the preseason favorites in the East (Georgia and South Carolina).

Florida hosts LSU in a critical game for two struggling teams, while Ole Miss travels to Texas A&M in another key SEC West showdown. Following up last week’s win against Alabama won’t be easy. Can the Rebels avoid a letdown in College Station?

Week 7 Previews and Predictions:


SEC Week 7 Game Power Rankings


1. Auburn (-3) at Mississippi State
3:30 p.m. ET, CBS

For the second week in a row, Mississippi is the epicenter of Saturday’s SEC slate. But after the focus was in Oxford last week, the scene shifts to Starkville. Mississippi State has arrived as a SEC title contender, while Auburn can stake its claim for the No. 1 overall ranking nationally with a win on Saturday. On the stat sheet, there are a lot of similarities between the two teams. Mississippi State and Auburn average over 500 yards per game in SEC play, average 5.6 yards per carry on offense, both have dynamic Heisman contenders at quarterback, and defenses that hold opponents to less than 20 points per game. With two similar teams, what could be the deciding factor on Saturday? Keep an eye on Mississippi State’s secondary. The Bulldogs held their own against Texas A&M, but this unit leads the SEC by allowing 23 passing plays of at least 20 yards. Can Nick Marshall hit on big plays to Sammie Coates and Duke Williams? Auburn’s defense has improved since 2013, but how much has this unit progressed? The Tigers allow just 4.6 yards per play, but the Bulldogs – with quarterback Dak Prescott leading the way – are the toughest opponent they will play so far this year. This series has been one-sided recently, as the Tigers have won 11 out of the last 13 games against the Bulldogs. Mississippi State’s last victory against Auburn came in 2012, defeating the Tigers 28-10 in Starkville.


Listen to the Week 7 preview podcast:

Subscribe: |


2. Georgia (-3) at Missouri
Noon ET, CBS

The favorite in the SEC East is anyone’s guess. However, Saturday’s game between Missouri and Georgia could provide some clarity. The Bulldogs are still in the mix for the East despite a loss to South Carolina, while Missouri’s win over the Gamecocks has Gary Pinkel’s team atop the East – for now. The Tigers won in Athens last season but are a slight underdog on Saturday. The outlook for this game has changed significantly since Wednesday, as running back Todd Gurley has been suspended indefinitely due to a NCAA investigation. With Gurley out, backup Nick Chubb is expected to see the bulk of the Bulldogs' carries on Saturday. Missouri quarterback Maty Mauk struggled against South Carolina, but he should have more weapons at his disposal with the return of Jimmie Hunt and Darius White from injury. If the Tigers can protect Mauk, he will have opportunities to make plays against a Georgia secondary that has allowed 23 plays of at least 20 yards in 2014. Missouri needs to stop the run, but Georgia’s passing offense is set to improve with the return of receivers Malcolm Mitchell and Justin Scott-Wesley. Quarterback Hutson Mason is averaging only 153 passing yards in SEC play, and his performance will be critical to the outcome of Saturday’s game.


3. Ole Miss at Texas A&M (–3.5)
9 p.m. ET, ESPN

Life in the SEC West isn’t easy. Just ask Ole Miss. A week after beating Alabama, the Rebels have to travel to Texas A&M. The Aggies are coming off a loss to Mississippi State and need a win to stay alive in the West Division title picture. Can Ole Miss avoid a letdown? Or was Texas A&M’s 5-0 start a mirage? The Rebels need another flawless effort from quarterback Bo Wallace on Saturday, as the senior delivered against Alabama with no interceptions on 31 attempts. Wallace should have opportunities for plays against a Texas A&M secondary allowing 278.3 yards per game. The Aggies lead the SEC with 19 sacks, but this unit is allowing 6.9 yards per play in conference games. If Texas A&M doesn’t get pressure on Wallace, the receiving corps of Ole Miss will be tough to contain. The Aggies averaged only 5.7 yards per play against Mississippi State last Saturday, which was its lowest mark of the season. Getting back on track will be a challenge for quarterback Kenny Hill, as Ole Miss is holding opponents to just 4.1 yards per play and has not allowed a passing touchdown since the opener. The last two games in this series were decided by three points. Expect another close one in College Station on Saturday night.

4. LSU (-1.5) at Florida
7:30 p.m. ET, SEC Network

For the first time since 1989, both Florida and LSU enter their annual matchup unranked. The Tigers are 0-2 in SEC play, while the Gators survived an ugly 10-9 win over Tennessee last Saturday to move to 2-1 in the conference. Both teams enter this game with major question marks under center. Florida will turn to Jeff Driskel after Treon Harris’ suspension, while LSU’s quarterback situation is unsettled with Anthony Jennings and Brandon Harris vying to start. Quarterback play isn’t the only problem for LSU, as its defense is allowing 37.5 points through two SEC contests. Florida’s defense has struggled stopping the pass, but the Gators rank fourth in the SEC against the run. With two teams struggling to generate anything on offense, turnover margin and special teams will be critical. LSU has won three out of the last four meetings in this series.    


5. Alabama (-9.5) at Arkansas
6 p.m. ET, ESPN

Last week, Ole Miss and Mississippi State scored breakthrough wins in the SEC. Is it Arkansas’ turn on Saturday? The last two meetings in this series have been a one-sided affair. Alabama has crushed Arkansas 104-0 over the last two years, and the Razorbacks have not defeated the Crimson Tide since 2006. Arkansas has significantly improved since 2013, so a 52-0 blowout would be a surprise. But for the Razorbacks to knock off Alabama, a perfect effort is needed. The Crimson Tide lead the SEC in rush defense (2.6 ypc) and only one opponent has managed more than 100 yards this year. The strength of Arkansas’ offense is on the ground, but running room could be limited on Saturday. With Alabama focused on stopping the ground attack, the Razorbacks need an efficient effort from quarterback Brandon Allen. The junior has passed for 751 yards this year and needs to have success on early downs to keep Alabama’s defense on its heels. As if that task wasn’t difficult enough, Arkansas needs its defense to slow down the Crimson Tide ground attack (5.3 ypc) and dynamic receiver Amari Cooper. Catching Alabama after a loss is never an enticing proposition, but Bret Bielma’s team has showed marked improvement since 2013. This is a good barometer game for Arkansas, and an opportunity for the Crimson Tide to exercise some of the frustration from last week’s loss.


6. ULM at Kentucky (-21.5)
Noon ET, SEC Network

The Wildcats are one of the SEC’s biggest surprises through the first six weeks. Kentucky defeated South Carolina last Saturday, and a win over ULM would place Mark Stoops’ team just one victory away from bowl eligibility. The Warhawks are 1-1 this year against Power 5 conference teams, losing to LSU 31-0 on Sept. 13 and defeating Wake Forest 17-10 in the opener. ULM’s offense is averaging only 18.2 points per game, but the strength of Todd Berry’s team is on defense. The Warhawks limit opponents to 24 points per game and 5.1 yards per play. Those numbers will be tested on Saturday, as Kentucky has scored at least 30 points in two of its three SEC games and rank second in the conference with 16 plays of 30 yards or more.


7. Chattanooga at Tennessee
4 p.m. ET, SEC Network

Tennessee steps out of conference play for the final time this year, hosting Chattanooga (No. 13 in the FCS poll) for the first time since 1969. As evidenced by close losses to Florida and Georgia, the Volunteers are improving under second-year coach Butch Jones, but a tough schedule leaves little margin for error to get to a bowl. Chattanooga’s strength is on defense (16.6 ppg), but quarterback Jacob Huesman headlines an offense that has scored at least 38 points in its last three games. The Mocs played Central Michigan tough in the opener and possess a solid defensive line that could create a few headaches for Tennessee quarterback Justin Worley. And after playing in Tuscaloosa last November, Chattanooga is no stranger to big-time SEC environments. However, it’s a lot to ask the Mocs to keep this one close. The Volunteers should have plenty of motivation after back-to-back SEC losses, and this matchup is a good way for Tennessee to fix some of its mistakes and work on a few things before playing Ole Miss and Alabama in the next two weeks.


8. Charleston Southern at Vanderbilt
7:30 p.m. ET, Fox Sports Net

Vanderbilt’s still has faint bowl hopes, but the Commodores need a win on Saturday to stay alive in their postseason quest. Charleston Southern is 5-0 and ranked No. 24 in the FCS Top 25 poll, but this is easily the Buccaneers’ toughest game of 2014. Charleston Southern’s defense is holding opponents to just 17.6 points per game, and a triple-option attack on offense is not easy to prepare for during the heart of SEC play. First-year Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason is looking for a spark on offense, as the Commodores are averaging only 17 points per game and 4.6 yards per play. With Patton Robinette recovering from a concussion, freshman Wade Freebeck will start at quarterback for the Commodores. Freebeck – a true freshman – is completing only 44.6 percent of his throws. Charleston Southern’s numbers on defense are solid, but this matchup should help Freebeck and Vanderbilt’s offense build confidence before resuming SEC play on Oct. 25 against Missouri.

SEC Week 7 Predictions

Auburn (-3) at Miss. StateAuburn 38-35MSU 31-27Auburn 34-31Auburn 34-24
Georgia (-3) at MissouriMizzou 24-21Mizzou 34-31Mizzou 27-24UGA 27-21
Ole Miss (+3.5) at TAMUOle Miss 35-27TAMU 34-33Ole Miss 34-27Ole Miss 34-30
LSU (-1.5) at FloridaLSU 14-10Florida 24-17Florida 20-17Florida 17-14
Alabama (-9.5) at ArkansasAlabama 35-14Alabama 30-21Alabama 30-13Alabama 30-21
ULM (+21.5) at UKUK 38-14UK 45-14UK 38-10UK 37-10
Chattanooga at TennesseeUT 31-13UT 38-13UT 45-13UT 41-10
C. Southern at VanderbiltVandy 24-10Vandy 34-17Vandy 34-10Vandy 28-10
Last Week3-33-33-34-2
Season Record45-1046-946-948-7


SEC 2014 Week 7 Preview and Predictions
Post date: Thursday, October 9, 2014 - 09:00
Path: /college-football/west-virginia-reinstates-top-cb-daryl-worley

West Virginia cornerback Daryl Worley has been reinstated to the team after reaching a plea agreement from an incident that occurred in September. Worley pleaded no contest to misdemeanor assault and will serve no jail time.

Worley was originally charged with misdemeanor battery from a nightclub incident.

However, after reaching the plea agreement, Worley was placed on probation and was reinstated to the team on Tuesday.

The sophomore is West Virginia’s top defender and is one of the Big 12’s top shutdown cornerbacks. Worley has missed West Virginia's last two games, and his return is critical for the entire defense.

Worley’s return also comes at a key time for the Mountaineers, as they travel to Texas Tech this Saturday, followed by a matchup against Baylor in Week 8.

West Virginia Reinstates Top CB Daryl Worley
Post date: Thursday, October 9, 2014 - 08:30