FinishLine » College Football Finish Line's Blog Sat, 28 Mar 2015 19:05:29 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Stage is Set – College Football Playoff National Championship Wed, 07 Jan 2015 16:51:36 +0000 A playoff format for college football was a long time coming, and it didn’t disappoint. It reenergized the bowl season and brought in more fans to the sport. Both the Sugar and Rose Bowl lived up to the excitement and provided exciting atmospheres for the semifinal showdowns. What now awaits is football immortality at AT&T Stadium in Dallas.

Why Oregon Will Win:

Since their loss in early October to Arizona, the Ducks have been one of college football’s best teams, playing in arguably the best conference in college football (Pac-12 is 6-2 in bowl games so far). What we saw last Thursday evening in Pasadena is what can happen when the Ducks are playing at their best. Their “good” is better than any other team’s “good”. If they play Ohio State the same way they did Florida State, the championship game will be over by the end of the third quarter.

Florida State doesn’t have a great defense, but they are better than the 59 they gave up in Pasadena. Only two teams on Oregon’s schedule this year allowed the Ducks to score over 59 points, South Dakota (62) and Cal (59). But what happened to the ‘Noles is exactly what can take place when you don’t take care of the ball and the Oregon offense establishes its tempo. The quick tempo forces teams to play at an uncomfortable pace and wears the defense down as the game progresses. Combine that tempo with the run/pass balance, their offense can’t really be stopped, only slowed down. The Ducks combined for 639 yards of total offense against the Seminoles – 338 through the air and another 301 on the ground. 

If Oregon can produce anything similar to their Rose Bowl output against the Buckeyes, they will be crowned college football’s best. 


Why Ohio St. Will Win:

The magic has led them to Dallas, so why does it need to stop now? Most sports fans out of the state of Ohio didn’t give the Buckeyes a chance against Alabama, Vegas after all had Ohio State as nearly a 10-point underdog. Ohio State was down to their third QB of the season, Cardale Jones, following injuries to Braxton Miller and JT Barrett. But Jones, a sophomore from Cleveland, isn’t playing like a third-string back-up, and that’s why the Buckeyes have knocked off Wisconsin and Alabama in the last two games. 

The big play fuels this offense, and they have thrived on it with Jones who has a big time arm and solid mobility for a 6’5, 250 pounder. Alabama didn’t have the corners to run with the Buckeye wideouts, Wisconsin didn’t have the ability to run with them either. If the Duck corners cannot keep up as well, the Buckeyes will continue to put points on the board in bunches. Points will have to be plentiful if the Buckeyes want to win this one, and they showed last Thursday night that they are never out of a game when they can rip off big plays. 

Ohio State has playmakers at every position, much like Oregon. If you need evidence, look no further then the dime that WR Evan Spencer tossed in the Sugar Bowl. The creativity in the Ohio State play calling can keep the Ducks on their heels and keep Buckeye drives alive. Urban Meyer and staff will find ways to get their best athletes the ball and let them make plays. The depth of talent on this Buckeye roster is enough to make even the best teams pause. 

On defense, a strong front seven for the Buckeyes will be relied upon to get stops and slow down Mariota. Oregon is great at keeping teams on the field and sustaining drives, and this is exactly the challenge for the Buckeye defense. Force three and outs, and the Buckeyes can keep Mariota where he can’t hurt them, on the sideline. If they do this well, it will be the Buckeyes raising that national championship trophy.

College Football



Some Football Food For Thought:

The College Football Playoff Committee should probalby take a lot of learnings from watching the bowl games. Below were my three big takeaways watching the bowl season unfold.

  1. SEC West was Given Too Much Credit –  Two bowl wins by Arkansas and Texas A&M was all the positivity the SEC West took from the Bowl Season. Losses by Auburn, Missisippi State, Alabama, Ole Miss and LSU didn’t convey any idea of dominance by this division.
  2. FSU was Never that Good – Florida State didn’t have a great body of work, but they had an undefeated record. And that’s why they were taken to the playoff. What ensued was a 39-point beatdown that made them look out of their league. Going forward, the committee needs to rethink the way it looks at undefeated teams.
  3. TCU was the Correct #3 – TCU had put up 42 on the No. 1 ranked scoring defense in Ole Miss by the early third quarter. They completely dominated the Peach Bowl from start to finish. One week before the final playoff rankings, the Horned Frogs were the nation’s No. 3 team. It should have stayed that way.
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Gather ‘Round – It’s Time To Go Bowling Fri, 19 Dec 2014 17:22:08 +0000 Well a long 16 week college football season is now behind us, which means only one thing – time to go bowling. Bowl season is always interesting for a variety of reasons. First, which teams will show up with the same passion and enthusiasm that they brought to the regular season? This could be particularly important for teams like TCU and Baylor who both believe they should be in the first ever college football playoff. Second, we see interesting and intriguing match-ups between traditional college powers that are not frequently offered to us during the regular season.

There are 39 total bowl games so we are here to help make a little sense of it.


Best Bowls Without Playoff Implications

National University Holiday Bowl – Nebraska vs. USC, Dec. 27, 2014 – San Diego, CA

The Huskers and Trojans take the field in San Diego in a match-up of two historic football programs. Steve Sarkisian is in his first season at the helm for USC and is trying to rebuild a Trojans program still suffering from its previous sanctions. Nebraska on the other hand will be without Bo Pelini, who was let go following the season and recently hired as the head coach at FCS, Youngstown State. The Trojans were up and down all year as was quarterback Cody Kessler who destroyed the Notre Dame secondary in their regular season finale. It’s match-ups like this however that make bowl season so much fun. Two storied programs clashing and fighting for the pride of their programs.


Hyundai Sun Bowl – Arizona St vs. Duke, Dec. 27, 2014 – El Paso, TX

A great ACC-Pac 12 match-up with the high scoring offense of Arizona State taking on the strong running game of the Blue Devils. After being only known as a basketball school for many years, Duke has become one of the stronger football programs in the ACC as of late. They are a well coached and disciplined team that schematically is always tough to defend. Arizona State was flying high after their victory against Notre Dame but tailed off a bit at season’s end. The team that is the most hungry will win this game, and Duke is still the team with a chip on their shoulder and something to prove.


Advocare V100 Texas Bowl – Arkansas vs. Texas, Dec. 29, 2014 – Houston, TX

Two teams with .500 records in general wouldn’t spark a great deal of attention, but these two teams are better than their records indicate. Texas is still in rebuilding mode under first year head coach, Charlie Strong. Bret Bielema, Arkansas’s third year coach, seems to have finally righted the ship. The Razorbacks shut out both LSU and Ole Miss, and nearly beat Alabama, losing 14-13. Texas on the other hand suffered five of their six losses to teams that were all ranked inside the top 12 when they played.


Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl – Notre Dame vs. LSU, Dec. 30, 2014 – Nashville, TN

In all honesty, neither of these teams set out to be playing in Nashville on Dec. 30. Notre Dame was at one point ranked No. 5 in the country and LSU was moments away from knocking off the Crimson Tide in Baton Rouge. This season for the Irish and Tigers was one of unfulfilled promise, but both could use this game to head into the off-season on a positive note. The big thing to watch in this game is how snaps will be split by Everett Golson and Malik Ziare for Notre Dame. At season’s beginning, Golson was the entrenched starter looking to mix it up in the Heisman race. He finished the season pulled out of the USC game by head coach, Brian Kelly.

Playoff Preview

Rose Bowl Game Presented by Northwestern Mutual –  Oregon vs. Florida State, Jan. 1, 2015 – Pasadena, CA

The storyline could not be better for this New Year’s Day showdown in Pasadena. The last two Heisman Winners, Marcus Mariota from Oregon and Jameis Winston of Florida State face each other in the first of the two playoff games. Throughout the season, the Ducks have dominated opponents save their single home-loss to Arizona in early October. Florida State, riding a 29-game win streak, has spent the season sneaking by opponents, finding a way to win late in games. The ‘Noles’ defense has been porous all year long, and it will be a long night for them if they allow Mariota and company to run free in the secondary. Winston, though not playing at the level he was last year, is still capable of shredding defenses. There is no way the winner of this game scores less than 30, and he will likely need to score over 40 to get the W and advance.


AllState Sugar Bowl – Alabama vs. Ohio State, Jan. 1, 2015 – New Orleans, LA

Urban Meyer and Nick Saban renew their rivalry from Meyer’s days at Florida in New Orleans at the Sugar Bowl. On paper, the Tide appears dominant on both sides of the ball. And they are. There isn’t a team that Ohio State has faced that has near the talent of Alabama. After all, if the Buckeyes are to pull this one out, they will be doing it with their third string quarterback. Cordale Jones, the Buckeyes signal caller, was lights out in the Big 10 title game against Wisconsin. He will have to bring a lot of the same game to keep the Buckeyes in this one.

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College Football Week 16 – Go America Wed, 10 Dec 2014 19:52:28 +0000 Week 15 finally settled the argument of who will be represented in the first ever college football playoff…sort of. There were six teams, all with great resumes, and only four heard their names called Sunday morning on the selection show. But now we are past that and have one incredible game on the slate for this Saturday, Army-Navy. It’s an event that every sports fan should attend at least once as it is one of the premier rivalries in all of sports. There might not be a more hard fought game all year.

What We Learned Last Week

Stop the “One True Champion” Statement

The top four teams headed to the college football playoff were released Sunday morning and disagreement could be found throughout social media as Big 12 fan bases cried foul. The selection committee seemed to get caught up in the brand name factor which lead to TCU and Baylor, and the Big 12 as a whole, being left out of college football’s first playoff. The creation of this playoff was intended to limit criticism and produce the “one true champion” ESPN commericals have been promising. Ohio State certainly produced an amazing win when they shut out Wisconsin 59-0, but their resume certainly wasn’t without flaws. The Big 10 as a conference was weak this year, and everyone on the committee seems to put that home loss to Virginia Tech out of their mind. Last, if TCU was ranked third in the second to last poll that was released, how does a 55-3 win make them drop back to No. 6? It just doesn’t make any sense. Both Baylor and TCU would produce a more competitive match-up for Oregon than Florida State. 

Big Games Meant Big Blowouts

Arizona, Wisconsin and Mizzou all had one thing in common last weekend as the conference championship games finished-up: None were up to the task. Oregon put a slow start behind them and throttled the Wildcats, finishing with a 51-13 victory. The Tigers from Missouri tried to hang in with the Crimson Tide for the first half, but found itself overmatched on the ground as Alabama ran the ball at will. Mizzou fans found themselves on the wrong side of a 42-13 final, which allowed Alabama to lock up the playoffs No. 1 seed. Wisconsin came into their game against Ohio State with one of the nation’s most formidable rushing attacks and left with their tales between their legs. The Badgers will now try and put the 59-0 blowout behind them as they begin bowl preparations for Auburn. 

The Big 12 Needs a Title Game

The reason the Big 12 doesn’t have a representative in the first ever college football playoff is simple: They didn’t have a title game. Had they crowned a title game champion, either Baylor or TCU would likely be on their way to the playoff. The lack of an extra quality opponent for the Bears and Horned Frogs didn’t allow them to stay ahead of Ohio State, despite superior resumes and much more quality opponents throughout the Big 12. 

What We are Looking Forward To

Army Takes on Navy

ESPN’s College GameDay heads to Baltimore for the 115th annual Army-Navy Game this Saturday. There are very few games that happen in college football each year that have a deeper meaning than the one that takes place between the Black Knights and Midshipmen. This isn’t a game that will have any effect on the college football playoff or see any of its seniors depart to playing on Sundays in the NFL. The departing seniors will join sides and begin fulfilling their military obligations to defend this great country immediately following graduation. This is one of the best rivalries in all of sports, if not thee best. It will be the only college game slated for Saturday and will have the dedicated attention of college football fans everywhere when it kicks off at 3 p.m. eastern time. 

Let’s Go Bowling

#2 Oregon vs. #2 Florida State – Rose Bowl Game 

The Semifinal match-up between the Ducks and the Seminoles will likely be a battle of the last two Heisman Trophy winners if Ducks’ QB, Marcus Mariota, takes home this year’s honor as everyone is expecting him to. Since Oregon lost in early October to Arizona, they have dominated every opponent they have faced. The Seminoles on the other hand have repeatedly found themselves in deep holes and found a way to prevail late. Oregon will be right at home on the west coast in a venue they know well. Florida State will be far from the friendly confines of Tallahassee and are facing a far superior opponent to anyone they have seen all year. Mariota is a better version of Justin Thomas, the Georgia Tech quarterback that the Seminoles had little answers for in the ACC title game. 

#1 Alabama vs. #4 Ohio State – All State Sugar Bowl

Urban Meyer and Nick Saban revive their old rivalry in New Orleans on January 1st. The Buckeyes snuck their way in to the playoff with a 59-0 pounding of Wisconsin in the Big 10 title game behind third-string quarterback, Cardale Jones. If there is one thing the Buckeyes have the ability to do very well, it’s stretch the field. And if there is one thing Alabama has struggled with over the past few games, it’s defend balls thrown deep down field. Auburn put up a good chunk of their 600 yards of offense against the Tide on deep balls and it’s how Ole Miss was able to beat Alabama. If the Buckeyes find success with the deep ball, this game may be closer than the ten-point spread would suggest. 

Michigan State vs Baylor – Cotton Bowl Classic

This is one heck of a match-up as both the Bears and the Spartans have incredible quarterbacks, both capable of heading to the NFL. Connor Cook for the Spartans and Bryce Petty from Baylor will look to put on a show through the air when the teams face off January 1st. Both teams were ranked in the Top 8 of the final playoff rankings, so this match-up is sure to be very competitive. 

Ole Miss vs TCU think – Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl

At the beginning of November, this could have very easily been forecasted to be a first round match-up in the college football playoff. The Rebels fell on some hard times behind some key injuries and heartbreaking close losses. What will define this game is how the Horned Frogs come out and play. Will they be a team that has mailed it in for the season after being left out of the playoff or will they come out as a team trying to make a statement to everyone who doubted them? Ole Miss is a deeply talented team, and TCU must prepare thoroughly for them or Trevone Boykin. The rest of the offense will find it to be tough sledding against a very good Rebel defense. 

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Saturday is Judgement Day – College Football Week 15 Wed, 03 Dec 2014 19:46:16 +0000 It has taken 14 incredible weeks of college football to get to conference championship week, and we still aren’t exactly sure who the four teams that will be invited to the college football playoff will be. There are major implications Saturday that could shake things up even further. TCU pulled ahead of the Florida State in the latest playoff rankings released Tuesday night, pushing the Seminoles down to fourth. The undefeated Seminoles now find themselves behind three teams with one-loss, and it’s very clear that the playoff committee doesn’t respect their body of work.

What We Learned Last Week

Don’t Hate on the ACC

It went 4-0 last week over the SEC, football’s best conference. Georgia Tech, Florida State, Louisville and Clemson were all victorious over their counterparts from the Southeastern Conference last week. Alongside Saturday’s strong performances is the fact the ACC will now have 11 bowl eligible teams. Usually an overlooked conference when it comes to football, the conference made a strong statement on Saturday

‘Bama and Auburn Put on a Thriller

For the second year in a row, the Iron Bowl was nothing short of entertaining television. The two teams combined for 1,169 yards and 99 total points. At one point Auburn led 33-21 behind the strong play from QB Nick Marshall but would see the lead slowly dwindle as Alabama pulled away in the fourth quarter. This was a huge game for the SEC, a loss by Alabama might have taken the SEC out of the College Football Playoff all together. 

Notre Dame is in a Bad Spot

… And now has a QB controversy for their projected bowl game. Notre Dame found itself down 35-0 at one point last Saturday against USC, which caused Irish head coach, Brian Kelly, to pull entrenched starter Everett Golson in favor of sophmore, Malik Ziare. Notre Dame, which at one point found itself in the playoff hunt, lost five of its last six games to finish the season at 7-5. This won’t sit well in South Bend, and with the teams regression since its national title appearance in 2012, that seat might be getting a little bit hot for Brian Kelly. They don’t pay you four million dollars a year to finish 7-5 in South Bend. 

Stat of the Week:

Jameis Winston threw four interceptions Saturday against the Gators, bringing his total for the season to 17. That is the most from a QB in a Power 5 conference, and he now ranks fourth in the entire FBS. 

What We Are Looking Forward To

Can Arizona Do It Again?

Arizona dominated Oregon when they met in Eugene back in early October, but can they do it again? Arizona is the one team that seems to give the Ducks fits as they are one of the few teams that match-up well against their speed. Oregon will rely heavily on Heisman Trophy candidate, Marcus Mariota, to make the big play. The junior signal caller for the Ducks has tossed 99 touchdowns in his career against only 12 interceptions. That’s efficiency and a big reason why the Ducks have been so good over the past few years. The difference in this game will be the Oregon defense, however. They will need to find a way to slow down Wildcat freshman QB, Anu Solomon, and their very balanced attack. This is the only conference championship game that will feature two teams ranked in the playoff committee’s Top 10, No. 7 vs. No 2, Friday night at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara. 

No JT Barrett Could Spell Disaster

With J.T. Barrett going down last weekend against Michigan, it will mean the Buckeyes will technically be starting its third string quarterback against Wisconsin. Cardale Jones is not a name known by many, but he will start in place of the injured Barrett Saturday night at Lucas Oil Stadium. Jones will need to keep the Buckeye offense efficient and on the field to keep his defense from being warn down by the strong running game of Wisconsin. Badger RB, Melvin Gordon, has already amassed 2,260 yards on the ground with two games still remaining in his season. If Ohio State fails to slow the Badger run attack, it will be a very long night for the Buckeyes. 

Georgia Tech Ready for Florida State

For most of the year, Georgia Tech has remained somewhat under the radar. Now they are 10-2 and ranked No. 11 in the latest playoff rankings by the College Football Playoff Committee. They bring a different dynamic on offense which runs the ball with authority through many different schemes. The Yellow Jacket rush attack ranks fourth nationally, and teams are rarely prepared for the wrinkles this offense brings. Florida State hasn’t found itself to be dominant in many games this season, and the defense, which has been the driving force behind the Seminoles’ success this season, will need to be the difference maker in this one. If not, it could be bye-bye playoffs for the ‘Noles. 

Upset of the Week:

The time has finally arrived for Florida State. They have let other teams find ways to beat themselves and pulled it out late in the fourth quarter to get to 12-0. Florida should have beaten the ‘Noles. BC should have beaten the ‘Noles. Clemson should have beaten the ‘Noles. The Yellow Jackets will be the team that beats the ‘Noles. 

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College Football Week 14 – Playing with Fire and Surviving Wed, 26 Nov 2014 14:25:41 +0000 Last week was pretty calm across the landscape of college football, but this upcoming will be the football equivalent of golf’s “moving day.” There are many quality match-ups that will have a significant impact on the college football playoff race. Teams can play their way in or out with a good or bad four quarters of football. The teams with the most on the line: Alabama, Mississippi State, and Florida State. All three have formidable match-ups, and all three are in must win situations. 

What We Learned Last Week

FSU is Notre Dame Circa 2012

Florida State keeps playing with fire and surviving, much like Notre Dame did during their unbeaten regular season in 2012. It didn’t go so well for the Irish when they finally played an elite team and found themselves out of the game by halftime. They eventually lost to Alabama by a final score of 42-14. Florida State seems to be destined for the same fate should they squeak by Florida in the regular season finale and a likely meeting with Georgia Tech in the ACC title game. There is an enormous gap between the AP’s No.1 ranked team in Florida State and the best teams in college football. The Seminoles have had to squeak out games in the fourth quarter far too frequently this season, and they are on borrowed time. It’s just a matter of time before Florida State gets blown out this season. 

Arkansas is Really Good

The 2014 Arkansas Razorbacks are better than their 6-5 record would indicate. They have not allowed a single point in their last two games – an impressive stat regardless of who they played. But when you talk about these shutout wins coming against LSU and Ole Miss, it certainly makes you take notice. Although it’s hard to count quality losses in this era, keep this in mind as well; they lost by 1 point to Alabama, by 7 to Mississippi State, and 7 again in OT to Texas A&M. That’s the mark of a team that is still learning to finish, and with their last two wins, this team has certainly learned to play a complete four quarters. 

UCLA is Hitting Its Stride

Might be a little late for the Bruins, but they are hitting their stride and playing some great football. Hosting Southern Cal last Saturday night under the Rose Bowl lights, Brett Hundley and the Bruins showed they are one of the Pac-12’s elite teams with a 38-20 win over the Trojans. The Bruins control their own destiny for the Pac-12 South crown, and with a win over the Cardinal of Stanford Friday, they would be set for a redemption game with Oregon. 

Stat of The Week:

Oklahoma Freshman RB, Samaje Perine, broke Melvin Gordon’s one-week-old NCAA single game rushing record with 427 yards on 34 carries. Incredible. 

What We Are Looking Forward To:

Can The Maize and Blue Get Brutus? 

On Saturday, the Wolverines travel to Columbus to try and salvage what has been a disastrous season. A win against the Buckeyes would make the Wolverines bowl eligible and give them bragging rights over “that team from Ohio” for the next year. It’s a long shot at best for Michigan who enters the game as a three touchdown underdog. The teams that are the most dangerous though are desperate teams, and Michigan is certainly a desperate team. This is one of the best rivalries in all of sports and for football fans everywhere, let’s hope they add another classic to this already storied rivalry. 

Alabama Needs to Win the Iron Bowl

Alabama is the selection committee’s No.1 team, but that wouldn’t last long if they can’t defeat Auburn in Tuscaloosa Saturday night. A loss to Auburn would likely put the Tide out of the SEC Title game and likely eliminate them from a shot at the playoff. Auburn has had an up and down year with moments of brilliance and complete letdowns. This is the most meaningful game of the year in a state that sees football as a way of life. Auburn will need QB Nick Marshall to be absolutely brilliant if they are to take down Alabama in Tuscaloosa. 

Who Will Win the West?

The western division of the Big Ten is on the line as the Golden Gophers of Minnesota head to Madison to take on one of the nation’s most formidable running attacks in Melvin Gordon and Wisconsin. Minnesota is coming off a big win at Nebraska while the Badgers have been piling up rushing yards on opponents as of late. Gordon is now over 2,100 yards for the season and has put Barry Sanders single season FBS rushing record in serious jeopardy. He needs just 520 yards to eclipse the mark set by Sanders back in 1988. A win by the Badgers on Saturday would send them to the Big Ten Title game against Ohio State and give Gordon an additional game to chase down the record. 

Upset Pick:

Florida saves their season and knocks off the ‘Noles in Tallahassee. The Gators will play like they have nothing to lose and send Muschamp out on a high note in his final regular season game as head coach. 

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College Football Week 13 – More Football Please Wed, 19 Nov 2014 21:33:18 +0000 Another week down and more Top 4 team tumbles. Mississippi State headed to Tuscaloosa looking to show it was the elite team that no one said existed in college football this year. It was not to be though. Alabama has been great at home all year and they fended off a late Bulldog rally to remain with only one loss. The biggest games are still to come for those still in the playoff race, and Week 13 will no doubt provide us with another set of great games.

What We Learned Last Week

Florida State Escapes Again

Every week it seems Florida State finds another way to cheat death. The AP Rankings that came out Sunday have Florida State as the nation’s new No. 1 following Mississippi State’s tumble in Tuscaloosa. But No. 1 doesn’t earn Florida State the nation’s respect as the best team after failing repeatedly to be dominant against much weaker opponents. The Seminoles found themselves down 23-7 at one point to a mediocre Hurricane team last Saturday night in Miami. Florida State only seems to find its grove in the 2nd half, and at some point may find themselves in a hole they can’t dig themselves out of. One loss and the ‘Noles could be out of the playoff hunt all together. They haven’t played to an elite level and until they do, the scrutiny will continue to flow for Jameis Winston and company. 

Muschamp Not the Right Fit

He just didn’t win enough games during his time in Gainesville, and he admits it. Will Muschamp is a brilliant defensive mind, but it was the inability to get the offense going at Florida that ultimately did him in. The SEC is a brutal, talent-rich conference that provides tough match-ups week-in and week-out. Florida played some inspired games this season, particularly against Georgia, but couldn’t produce a consistent result. Don’t be surprised if Muschamp leaves his stamp on the Florida program by leading the Gators to a win over the Seminoles the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Florida will turn things around fast, they have had a Top 12 recruiting class every year under Muschamp who will be a defensive coordinator next year at a major program. Time will tell however, who gets this talented mind. 

Tide Keep Rolling

The Crimison Tide held on Saturday in Tuscaloosa for a much needed win. Taking down the nation’s No. 1 team can do a lot for a team’s resume, especially in a year such as this. What remains to be seen is if Alabama can make sure this win continues to matter and not stumble in upcoming games against Auburn and potentially the SEC title game. Alabama started fast against the Bulldogs and hung on for a 5-point victory. The difference between the teams wasn’t so significant that Alabama can afford mistakes down the stretch. For now, the Tide are rolling once again, and a spot in the playoff is theirs if they can win out. 

Stat of the Week

Wisconsin RB, Melvin Gordon, carried the ball 25 times for a NCAA single-game rushing record of 408 yards. Ridiculous.

What We Are Looking Forward To

Can Notre Dame Hold It Together?

What will become of this Notre Dame season that was once so promising for their fan base. After getting manhandled in Tempe by Arizona State, the Irish returned home as big favorites against a struggling Northwestern team. The result – a 43-40 OT loss to the visiting Wildcats. A tough contest comes this Saturday against Louisville followed by a trip to the Coliseum against USC on Nov. 29. If Notre Dame wants to play in a possible New Year’s Day bowl, they must win out. A 7-5 final record and a trip to a random bowl will not sit well with the Irish faithful. 

Melvin Gordon vs. Hawkeye Defense

Wisconsin RB, Melvin Gordon raced to the record books on Saturday in Madison and put himself as the frontrunner for the Heisman Trophy. The Badger junior now leads the country with 1,909 yards on the ground while possessing 25 total touchdowns. There are still 719 yards to go for Gordon to reach Barry Sanders single-season record of 2,628 yards, but another big day like Saturday, and he just might get within reach. 

TCU Needs Their Swagger Back

Whatever swagger that TCU built up through the first 9 games of the season went out the window last Saturday when they traveled to Lawrence to face a troubled Jayhawks’ squad. A 34-30 win over a 3-7 football team isn’t the recipe for success for a team that needs to be dominant every week. Contests against Texas and Iowa State remain for the Horned Frogs, and they will need to be great with both of them. No conference championship game means 2 strong wins, and TCU will almost certainly take its seat at the table for the College Football Playoff. 

Upset Pick of the Week:

USC still seems to be struggling to figure out who they are. Saturday they will head to the Rose Bowl to make a statement against the Bruins who are playing their best football of the year. A big day from Kessler and the Trojans can get it done. 

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College Football Week 12 – Hail State or Roll Tide Roll? Wed, 12 Nov 2014 14:02:11 +0000 As the weeks have pressed on, it seems as though the College Football Playoff has already begun. Match-ups like the one we saw last weekend with TCU and Kansas State could very well have been a playoff match-up. Even the lopsided loss by the Irish to Arizona Sate helped make the picture a little more clear. Every weekend there seems to be another one of these “elimination” type games, and this week will be no different. Mississippi State travels to Tuscaloosa in match-up that has the potential to create much chaos for the selection committee.

What We Learned Last Week

Upsets Happen

Auburn was nearly a 24-point favorite at home heading into their match-up last Saturday with the feeble Aggies of Texas A&M. They lost by 3. Michigan State was a 3.5 point favorite against the Buckeyes and got 49 hung on them in a 12-point defeat. Those two games are examples of what is likely to become an even more entrenched theme as November presses forward. Parity is rampant in college football, and anyone is beatable.  

 Texas A&M Aggies defensive lineman Alonzo Williams (83, not visible) holds up the ball after regaining possession on an Auburn Tigers fumble during the fourth quarter at Jordan Hare Stadium

Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

Will the Real Notre Dame Please Stand Up?

Despite posting a career high for passing yards against the Sun Devils, Irish QB Everett Golson was for the most part horrendous on Saturday, making mistakes at all the wrong times. Even at one loss, Notre Dame (as I mentioned last week) was a bit over ranked. They were trying to build a quality resume from a quality loss. They have not beaten a single team ranked in the College Football Playoff committee’s Top 25, nor will they for the remainder of the season as the rankings stand now. If this committee is doing what they promised and picking the four best teams, there was no reasonable explanation for having the Irish in the conversation to begin with.

Notre Dame Fighting Irish quarterback Everett Golson (5) walks off the field after the Arizona State Sun Devils defeated Notre Dame 55-31 at Sun Devil Stadium

Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Know When to Drop the Football.

Utah WR, Kaelin Clay, blew up social media Saturday night when he began celebrating a bit prematurely and dropped the ball before crossing the goal line leading to the common reaction, What was that dude thinking? It was a game changing moment, which could have led to the Ute’s going up 14-0, and instead tied up the game at 7-7. Players do this far too frequently and clearly have not learned from others’ mistakes. Clay of all people should know the name DeSean Jackson, they went to the same high school, Long Beach Poly. Jackson made this same mistake years back when playing the Cowboys with Philadelphia. 

 Utah Utes wide receiver Kaelin Clay (8) reacts thinking he scored a touchdown but the ball is live as he dropped it prior to entering the end zone.

Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Stat of the Week: 

LSU QB, Anthony Jennings was 8 of 26 for 76 YDS and a TD for the Tigers in an overtime loss to the Crimson Tide. Doesn’t get much worse for a QB than that. 

What We are Looking Forward To

Bulldogs Try and Stem the Tide

There is a lot on the table Saturday afternoon in Tuscaloosa when Mississippi State comes calling Alabama’s name. The Bulldogs are the nation’s No. 1 and look to prove yet again that they are the best team in the land. Not only does this game possess major implications for the SEC West Title, it also means trying to secure a spot in the college football playoff. A loss by the Bulldogs would raise some eyebrows, but certainly not eliminate them from contention. The Crimson Tide on the other hand cannot afford to lose. A loss at home would mean no SEC West title, no SEC title game, and certainly no playoff.

A general view of Bryant-Denny Stadium during the game between Alabama and Texas A&M. The Crimson Tide defeated the Aggies 59-0

Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Bucky Badger Takes on the Huskers

There is a lot riding on this game with a potential birth in the Big 10 title game at stake. Wisconsin will try and do what they do to just about everyone, impose their will running the football. Badger running back, junior Melvin Gordon, has already surpassed 1,500 yards and has 21 total touchdowns. The Badgers are 7-2 with their two losses coming by a combined 10 points. Camp Randall is a tough place to play, and the Cornhuskers will have their hands full Saturday afternoon in Madison. 

Wisconsin Badgers running back Melvin Gordon (25) breaks through the line over Purdue Boilermakers linebacker Ja'Whan Bentley (35) and through the traps in the 2nd half at Ross Ade Stadium

Sandra Dukes-USA TODAY Sports

What Will the New Top 4 Look Like?

I have a hard time continuing to look at Florida State as the second best team in country. They have been awful against some bad teams, yet find a way to drag out a “W” in the end. Is the committee leaving them at No. 2 simply because they are undefeated? If so, that is exactly what they said they wouldn’t do. The committee was formed in order to send the four best teams in college football to a playoff. Florida State’s best win is a narrow victory over a Notre Dame team that got led to a slaughter in Tempe. Our Finish Line Top 4 is as follows:

  1. Missisippi State – Work left to do but clearly one of the nation’s elite.
  2. TCU – Only blemish is a 3-point loss to a very good Baylor team in Waco.
  3. Oregon – Seems to have recovered from that devastating loss to Arizona. Only tough game left will be the Pac 12 title game.
  4. Alabama – They got lucky Saturday night in Baton Rouge. Will need to be better down the stretch to stay in this position.

Upset Pick of the Week:

The Hurricanes will keep the upset party alive in college football and defeat the Seminoles. Florida State has yet to prove it is half as good as the team that won the crystal football a year ago, and this old rivalry will add another classic Saturday night. 

Miami Hurricanes running back Duke Johnson (center) celebrates his touchdown with tight end Clive Walford (left) and offensive lineman Jon Feliciano (right) during the first half against the North Carolina Tar Heels at Sun Life Stadium

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

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College Football Week 11 – Let’s Have a Sparty Party Wed, 05 Nov 2014 19:06:40 +0000 Week 10 had some nail biters and some surprises. Georgia was expected to head to Jacksonville and take care of a reeling Florida team and was kicked out the front door. Auburn took on a stingy Ole Miss defense and escaped Oxford with an incredible defensive stand of their own at the end of the game.

The second week of playoff rankings were released Tuesday evening and there was no surprise at the top, but No.3 and No.4  saw some expected shifts with Ole Miss losing. The Tigers of Auburn are the new No. 3 team, and Oregon ranks No. 4 after soundly defeating Stanford. There is still plenty of work for both as Georgia and Alabama remain on the docket for Auburn, and Oregon will head to Salt Lake this weekend to take on a rapidly improving Utah team.  

What We Learned Last Week

Ole Miss’ Heartbreak

Even with two losses, Ole Miss has been far from convincingly beat all season. They just haven’t been able to finish. Last Saturday’s loss to Auburn has to be particularly painful though, as the events that transpired under 2 minutes in Oxford seemed like something out of a nightmare for the Rebels. Rebel Sophmore Wideout sensation, Laquon Tredwell, looked like he had a touchdown after a brutal tackle with about 1:30 left in regulation. Upon review, the call was overturned and ruled a fumble and like that, the Rebels lost a likely shot at an SEC West title, an invite to the College Football Playoff, and their stud WR who is now out 4 months due to the injury suffered on the play. 

Ole Miss Rebels wide receiver Laquon Treadwell (1) runs the ball prior to his season-ending injury during the fourth quarter while defended by Auburn Tigers linebacker Kris Frost (17) and linebacker Cassanova McKinzy (8) at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium

Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

Florida is Back?

Not even the most optimistic assumptions by Gator head coach, Will Muschamp, saw the Florida rushing attack going for 418 yards against Georgia. That’s the most rushing yards since 1989 when former Gator star and Dallas Cowboys’ Hall of Famer, Emmitt Smith, was toting the rock. Florida physically dominated the game on the ground against the SEC’s second ranked run defense. A team in Florida, who earlier in the season was looking like one that had mailed it in, looked as if it had reinvented itself following its bye week and by starting with Freshman QB, Treon Harris. If the Gators can keep playing the Florida brand of football we all saw Saturday in Jacksonville, the match-up the Saturday after Thanksgiving in Tallahassee just got a lot more interesting. 

West Virginia…Your Best 3-Loss Team 

Seems strange to even be talking about a 3-loss team at this point in the season, but the Mountaineers are a fun team to watch. Most people bypass this team, but they have been in every game this year, and their 3 losses have been to Alabama, Oklahoma and TCU. At the time of the match-ups, no team was ranked lower than No. 7. Senior QB Clint Trickett has been efficient in leading West Virginia to the nation’s 11th-ranked passing offense. They will have a primetime stage again in 2 weeks when the Wildcats of Kansas State come calling and will look to finally get that elusive big-time win. 

West Virginia Mountaineers running back Dreamius Smith (2) celebrates with his teammates after scoring a touchdown during the third quarter against the TCU Horned Frogs at Milan Puskar Stadium. TCU Horned Frogs defeated West Virginia Mountaineers 31-30

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Stat of the Week:

Navy amassed 336 yards on the ground in a narrow 10-point loss to Notre Dame at FedEx Field. 

What We Are Looking Forward To

Brutus Buckeye Goes to East Lansing

The Big 10 has been underwhelming for the majority of the year, but they will take center stage Saturday night under the lights in East Lansing. ESPN’s College GameDay will be present as Ohio State takes on Michigan State in a game that will likely determine the most likely candidate from the Big 10 to earn a place in the playoff. Sparty, based on their resume, is the most likely team from the conference to go should they finish the season without another loss. Michigan State QB Connor Cook leads a balanced attack that puts up 45.5 ppg, ranking 5th nationally. The Buckeyes on the other hand are putting up 45.6 ppg, ranking 4th nationally. It almost goes without saying that it will be a shootout Saturday night.

Wildcats and Horned Frogs in Fort Worth

How good is this Kansas State defense? We find out Saturday evening as the Wildcats defense, currently giving up only 18.6 ppg faces the high powered TCU offense that produces 48 ppg, ranking 2nd nationally. Both teams come into the game with only one-loss. Kansas State lost an early season contest to Auburn at home while TCU let a 21-point 4th quarter lead slip away in Waco. Kansas State has shown that it can put up points in bunches, and that is what they will have to do Saturday afternoon. It doesn’t seem as though the winner of the game gets out of the stadium putting up any less than 30 points. 

Michigan State Spartans safety Mark Meyers (29) and Michigan State Spartans safety RJ Williamson (26) celebrate interception during the 2nd half of a game at Spartan Stadium

Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Notre Dame’s 2nd Road Test

Hard to believe that the Irish are playing their 2nd true road game the second weekend in November, but that is what some clever scheduling can do for you. This trip to Tempe will be a difficult one for the Irish, as the Sun Devils are playing some of their best football and are battle-tested from a tough slate of games having played 4 ranked opponents in the last 5. Notre Dame is a bit over ranked, and it might just show Saturday. Their defense has been porous of late after giving up 39 points to Navy and 43 to North Carolina.

Upset Pick of the Week:

The Bayou Bengals, behind the strength of their crowd, win a close one over Alabama. There are few atmospheres like a night game in Baton Rouge, and it will show Saturday. 

 LSU Tigers run onto the field prior to kickoff against the Mississippi Rebels at Tiger Stadium. LSU defeated Mississippi 10-7

Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY

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Never Lost a Party – College Football Week 10 Wed, 29 Oct 2014 18:15:32 +0000 Ole Miss says they’ve never lost a party, but they certainly lost momentum last week after an upset loss to LSU. With this Saturday’s kickoffs, the season will finally be into November, which means a loss now could end that dream of a trip to the College Football Playoff. Tuesday saw the release of the first set of College Football Playoff rankings, which means every team knows how they are viewed by the committee. What’s left is to see what those teams in the Top 10 do with that information.

What We Learned Last Week

Bad Bo Returns

Bo Wallace didn’t have even a remotely decent outing last Saturday night when the Rebels went strolling into Baton Rouge. It was the senior signal caller’s worst game of the season so far finishing 14 of 33 for 176 yards. He threw 1 TD pass against 1 INT. Wallace will certainly have to be better against a strong Auburn defense Saturday night. He had played so well all season he was almost due for an off-night. For the hopes of the Ole Miss faithful, let’s hope the trend doesn’t continue.

Mississippi Rebels quarterback Bo Wallace (14) looks to pass the ball against the LSU Tigers in the second half at Tiger Stadium

Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports

TCU And K-State Dominate The Big 12

If the Big 12 had a title game, these would be the teams in it based on performances so far. The Wildcats however will pay a visit to Fort Worth on November 8th, and we might just see the battle we’ve been waiting for. The nasty TCU offense versus the stout K-State defense will be a match-up any college football fan can enjoy.

Kansas State Wildcats mascot Willie Wildcat celebrates with fans during a 23-0 win against the Texas Longhorns at Bill Snyder Family Stadium

Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports

2014 Lacks an “Elite” Team

The slew of 1-loss teams this year shows that college football lacks a truly elite team. Although Mississippi State and Florida State both retain undefeated records, both are far from complete teams. The Seminoles are 104th in the nation running the ball, while the Bulldogs have been vulnerable through the air. Mississippi State needed every weapon they could find last Saturday while on the road in Lexington against an improved Kentucky team. November will be an interesting month as teams try to separate themselves from the rest of the pack. The problem is no dominant team exists, which makes picking four teams for a playoff an even more difficult of a task.

Stat of the Week:

TCU put up 82 points behind 785 yards of total offense in the Horned Frogs’ beat-down of the Red Raiders last Saturday in Fort Worth.

TCU Horned Frogs running back Kyle Hicks (21) during the game against the Texas Tech Red Raiders at Amon G. Carter Stadium

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

What We Are Looking Forward To

From The Plains to The Grove

Saturday night in Oxford, we will learn a lot about Ole Miss and Auburn. Has Bo Wallace and company recovered from their worst game of the season at LSU? On top of that, how will they cope with some of the injuries suffered in Baton Rouge? Auburn hasn’t looked quite the same since they were dismantled by Mississippi State on October 11th. Both teams do share the weight of being ranked in the Top 4 of the initial College Football Playoff rankings. A loss here by Auburn would take them out of the race for the SEC west crown, while a loss by the Bulldogs would leave things wide open in the division.

 Auburn Tigers quarterback Nick Marshall (14) runs onto the field for the game against the South Carolina Gamecocks at Jordan Hare Stadium

Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

How the Top 4 Handle the Pressure:

On Tuesday, the initial College Football Playoff rankings were released. The SEC West is well represented at the top, but there is still a lot of football to be played.

1. Mississippi State

Big games against Alabama and Ole Miss await the Bulldogs, and both will be on the road. Dan Mullen has this team rolling with an offense that can score with almost anyone. They have been a bit suspect on pass defense, which will be tested even more down the stretch.

2. Florida State

The Seminoles possess the easiest remaining schedule of the current Top 4. A dangerous game this Thursday night at No. 25 Louisville awaits Winston and the ‘Noles’ 104th-ranked run offense.

3. Auburn

Ole Miss, Alabama and Georgia all await the Tigers during the month of November. Even worse, all three are on the road. Nick Marshall and company will have their hands full if they want to stay in the CFP race.

4. Ole Miss

The Rebels will have to shake off the LSU loss quickly to get ready for Auburn this Saturday. Should they get past the Tigers, an Egg Bowl showdown with Mississippi State could be all that stands between them, an SEC West title, and likely a trip to the first annual College Football Playoff.

Outside looking in: Oregon, Alabama, TCU, Michigan State, Kansas State, Notre Dame

TCU Heads to Morgantown

At this point, there is no argument that TCU is an outstanding football team. They have absolutely demolished teams scoring an average 50.4 ppg. It’s a struggle to call a team elite that blows a 21-point lead with less than 10 minutes remaining like they did against Baylor. ESPN’s College GameDay heads to West Virgina for this week’s match-up that will put outstanding Mountaineer quarterback Clint Trickett against junior Horned Frog signal-caller, Trevone Boykin.

NCAA Football: West Virginia at Oklahoma State

Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

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Great Lakes Madness: College Football Week 9 Wed, 22 Oct 2014 17:17:28 +0000

College Football had a huge week last week with No.4 an No 5 both losing and continuing the idea that no one is safe in this unpredictable college football environment. While this week lacks the firepower of Top 10 match-ups, there are still plenty of intriguing games including Michigan and Michigan State as well as Ole Miss traveling to the Baton Rouge to face LSU.

What We Learned from Last Week

The Big 12 is Wide Open

Losses by both Baylor and Oklahoma last week have left the Big 12 wide-open. Officially, Kansas State stands atop the standings. But with big games coming against Texas, TCU, West Virginiaand Baylor, nothing has been decided. The interesting thing about the Big 12 is that unlike other conferences, it does not have a championship game. At this rate, it looks like a complicated tie-breaker system may have to be put in play to give you this year’s champion. This conference belongs to the team who can finish the season on a hot streak, and right now it looks like it is anyone’s for the taking.

West Virginia Mountaineers cornerback Ricky Rumph (14) celebrates after breaking up a pass during the fourth quarter against the Baylor Bears at Milan Puskar Stadium

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Florida is a Hot Mess

What has Will Muschamp gotten himself into down in Gainesville? After a close loss to LSU the previous week, the Tigers from Mizzou rolled into The Swamp and absolutely demolished the Gators on both sides of the ball. Florida now has a bye week to try and get everything corrected and back on track for the rest of the year. They have big games with Georgia and Florida State still on the calendar, and it’s hard to picture a scenario where Muschamp will keep his job unless they are able to beat both opponents.

Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp looks up during the first half against the Missouri Tigers at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

FSU’s Win Didn’t Prove Much

Take from it what you will, but Florida State didn’t bury Notre Dame last Saturday night at home in Tallahassee. On the final play that was very much decided by one official’s judgement, neither team showed a dominance over the other throughout most of the game. Notre Dame coach, Brian Kelley, disputed the final penalty saying that Florida State was bailed out after blowing the coverage on the 4th down play. That may be the case, however, it definitely appeared to be the correct call, and the ACC backed up its official’s decision. The most damaging part for Notre Dame is that it is now dropped into the massive bucket of one-loss teams, and its resume certainly doesn’t support it being part of the one-team playoff, at least at this point. FSU didn’t prove a lot in the win, but they kept the nation’s longest unbeaten streak in FBS alive and well-positioned to make it into the playoff.

Stat of the Week

USC quarterback, Cody Kessler, tossed a school record 7 TDs in the Trojans’ 56-28 stomping of the Buffaloes at the Coliseum Saturday afternoon.

Southern California Trojans quarterback Cody Kessler (6) celebrates with center Max Tuerk (75) after a touchdown in the first quarter against the Colorado Buffaloes at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

What We Are Looking Forward To:

Battle for Paul Bunyan Trophy:

The Wolverines have longed for better days, but this is a rivalry game, which means anything can happen. The Spartans are a solid two-touchdown favorite, and with the game being held in East Lansing, the Maize and Blue are overmatched in almost every way possible. College football has proved all year that no-one is unbeatable, and the Wolverines will certainly play inspired football. Will it be enough against Connor Cook and a hot Spartan offense? Tune in to ABC at 3:30 EDT Saturday to find out.

Michigan State Spartans running back Jeremy Langford (33) is congratulated by teammates after scoring a touchdown against the Indiana Hoosiers at Memorial Stadium

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Will JT and the Bucks Continue to Roll?

Buckeye quarterback JT Barret took a lot of heat following Ohio State’s home loss against Virginia Tech in the second game of the season, but he has been sensational ever since. After their loss in early September, the Buckeyes have scored 50+ points in each of their last four contests, with a lot of the credit due to Barrett. The Freshman QB has tossed 17 TDs against 1 INT and added 3 more TDs on the ground. The loss of Braxton Miller before the season had a lot of Buckeye fans on edge, and although there are still big games looming, Barrett has the Buckeyes back playing like a title contender.

Can K-State Keep it Going?

The Wildcats have become one of this year’s more surprising teams. Now they find themselves at the top of the Big 12 standings following last week’s win on the road in Norman against the Sooners. The boys from Manhattan still have some of their toughest games to come. Should they come out of it unscathed, they will certainly make it to the four-team playoff.

Kansas State Wildcats players celebrate the victory against the Oklahoma Sooners at Gaylord Family - Oklahoma Memorial Stadium

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

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