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Predictions 101 — Week 11

Johnny Manziel AP

Last week, we went 5-2 straight, but only 2-5 versus “the number.” Not good.

So, we felt compelled to rush over to the boss’ office in Redmond, Wash., and say that we’re still 16-11-1 ahead of the bookmakers over the course of the last four weeks.

TOP 5 GAMES OF THE WEEK (Thurs., Nov. 8, thru Sat., Nov. 10)

1) No. 15 Texas A&M at No. 1 Alabama
Sat., Nov. 10 — 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS

After seeing LSU’s previously limp offense move the football to the tune of 475 yards last week against their team (the most allowed by a Nick Saban squad since 2007), Crimson Tide supporters ought to be wary of an Aggie attack that’s averaging 44.7 points and 559.6 total yards per game.

Led by electrifying quarterback Johnny Manziel, the no-huddle Texas A&M offense took 97 snaps and gained 693 yards (361 rushing, 332 passing) in a 38-13 victory over Mississippi State last Saturday.

In a home game against Florida (admittedly way back on Sept. 8 in A&M’s opener), the Aggies scored 17 points in the first quarter and a half, but was shut out thereafter, and dropped a 20-17 decision.

More recently and against a similarly elite defense, Texas A&M scored 19 points against LSU in what ended up a five-point loss in College Station. If not for five turnovers, the tables easily could have been turned.

Such an occurrence would be highly unlikely in Tuscaloosa, where the home crowd will help replenish some of the emotional energy that was spent and remains in Death Valley, following that breathtaking 21-17 comeback victory.

This is certainly Alabama’s biggest hurdle on the way to the BCS title game until facing the SEC East champ in Atlanta on Dec. 1. Following this contest — the Tide clinches the SEC West with a win  – there’s only dates with Western Carolina, a 1-9 FCS team, and 2-7 Auburn remaining.

Alabama’s offensive line will be too much for A&M to overcome. The Aggies defensive front has little chance to slow down the Bama running game and when the back seven try to compensate for that, they’ll get burned by play-action from A.J. McCarron.

Opening point spread: Alabama by 16

The pick: Alabama 35-14

2) No. 13 Oregon State at No. 16 Stanford
Sat., Nov. 10 — 3 p.m. ET, FOX

The Cardinal defense is simply scary versus the run. Not only does Stanford lead the nation in rushing defense, yielding just 55.8 yards per game, it has pushed its last three opponents — California, Washington State and Colorado — backward for a total of minus-34 yards on the ground.

The Beavers aren’t much for that mode of travel anyway. With the emergence of former backup quarterback Cody Vaz and the production of the dynamic duo of wideouts Brandin Cooks and Markus Wheaton, Oregon State prefers to air it out.

Stanford also is currently being led by a former backup quarterback as freshman Kevin Hogan has unseated senior Josh Nunes. The difference is that his only previous experience came in last Saturday’s 48-0 victory at Colorado and that 18-of-23 performance, which produced 184 yards and two touchdowns, doesn’t really tell us much. The Buffaloes are a far cry from the Beavers (and anybody for that matter).

Hogan should be fine though. His first start will be at home on The Farm and he’ll be lining up in the backfield with senior running back Stepfan Taylor, who is capable of pounding out tough yards against an Oregon State defense that allows only 91.8 yards per game on the ground.

Opening point spread: Stanford by 5 1/2

The pick: Stanford 24-20

3) No. 22 Mississippi State at No. 9 LSU
Sat., Nov. 10 — 7 p.m. ET, ESPN

Both tanks figure to be a bit empty.

The Tigers will be thinking about their come-from-ahead loss to Alabama for a long time. Seemingly in control until the Tide rolled on its last drive, LSU gave away a 21-17 decision at home that nixed its SEC and BCS title dreams.

For the Bulldogs, they’ve known this week was coming ever since the schedule was posted. This tail end of a three-game gauntlet that has already seen Mississippi State drop games against Alabama (38-7) and Texas A&M (38-13) was always going to be a doozy.

Last year, the Tigers and Bulldogs engaged in one of those SEC field goal parades as LSU led 9-6 early in the fourth quarter. The Tigers ended up winning, 19-6, but that game was at Davis Wade Stadium.

This one is in Death Valley, where LSU hasn’t lost to Mississippi State since 1991. The nighttime atmosphere will suitably fill up the Tiger tanks.

Opening point spread: LSU by 17

The pick: LSU 26-14

4) No. 3 Kansas State at TCU
Sat., Nov. 10 — 7 p.m. ET, FOX

This prediction comes courtesy of Shane Hedani from the P101 satellite office in Maunawili, Hawai‘i.

Since Bill Snyder isn’t likely to show his cards until game time, we can’t show ours either.

But, we are willing to say this: If Collin Klein doesn’t start and finish this road game, the Wildcats won’t be able to trade blows with a Horned Frog offense that is finding a rhythm at the right time. He is that important. Think Auburn without Cam Newton in 2010.

This could be one of the shakeups in the BCS that people are waiting for.

Opening point spread: none

The pick: none

5) Penn State at No. 18 Nebraska
Sat., Nov. 10 — 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC/ESPN2

The leaders in the Leaders aren’t eligible for Indy. But the leaders in the Legends are poised to earn that trip to the Big Ten Championship Game.

Assuming they don’t flub up versus Minnesota and Iowa, the Cornhuskers just need to get past the visiting Nittany Lions to make that happen.

That seems to be in the cards, but let’s not jump to conclusions too quickly. Penn State has been a winning ticket in Vegas for most of the last two months.

Nebraska’s offense generates 487.3 yards per game (tops in the Big Ten), but it’s a bit scary for Cornhusker fans that quarterback Taylor Martinez has thrown seven interceptions in the last four games.

Penn State quarterback Matt McGloin hasn’t been intercepted four times yet this season and has thrown for 282 or more yards in each of his past four games, but the Huskers rank fifth nationally in pass defense and eighth in pass efficiency defense.

Opening point spread: Nebraska by 9

The pick: Nebraska 24-23

UPSET SPECIAL OF THE WEEK

Northwestern at Michigan
Sat., Nov. 10 — noon ET, ESPN

Once again, the USOTW prediction comes courtesy of Marc Doche (@MDoche) from the P101 satellite office in Burbank, Calif.

We’ll remind ourselves never again to roll with a squad relying on a converted freshman linebacker under center as we did last week with Maryland. Instead, this week in a critical Big Ten match-up, we’ll go with the Wildcats coming off a bye, and against a Wolverine team with a cloudy quarterback situation.

Denard Robinson missed last week’s 35-13 victory over Minnesota, due to a lingering ulnar nerve issue that affects his throwing hand. While some Wolverine fans are jumping on the Devin Gardner bandwagon after an efficient start against the lowly Gophers, the sometimes wideout is not in the same league as Robinson, who accounted for 450 total yards in Michigan’s win in Evanston last year.

No matter who takes the snaps for the Wolverines, the Wildcat offense led by running back Venric Mark, who leads the Big Ten in all-purpose yards (183.6 per game), will be more dependable. Michigan’s forte is stopping the pass.

The Wolverines are 16-0 under head coach Brady Hoke when scoring 20 or more points, but they’ll find it tough to reach that barrier, especially if they continue the charity that has led to a minus-6 turnover margin. In contrast, the Wildcats have four more takeaways than giveaways.

The double-digit price tag that comes with the Wolverines is more than curious.

Opening point spread: Michigan by 13

The pick: Northwestern 20-19

RIVALRY GAME OF THE WEEK

No. 4 Notre Dame at Boston College
Sat., Nov. 10 — 8 p.m. ET, ABC

With only two notches in the win column, Boston College’s bowl prospects are limited to the Frank Leahy Memorial Bowl, which is given by the Notre Dame Club of Boston to the winner of football games between the Fighting Irish and Eagles.

While the likelihood of BC capturing that bowl and the Ireland Trophy, which will be presented to the winners by the Notre Dame student government, is extremely remote, please recall that the Eagles have blown up Irish national title attempts twice before.

In 1993, Boston College toppled the top-ranked Domers, 41-39. And in 2002, another 8-0 Notre Dame squad fell victim to the Eagles.

This season, however, due in part to the fact that the Fighting Irish got a triple-overtime wake-up call from Pittsburgh last week, Notre Dame should have as little trouble with Boston College as Barack Obama had with Electoral College.

Opening point spread: Notre Dame by 20

The pick: Notre Dame 32-16

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UNC players trashed visiting locker room following win at Duke

North Carolina at Duke

North Carolina topped their nearby rivals from Duke in Durham last Thursday night. Not satisfied with trashing Duke’s hopes of returning to the ACC Championship Game, the Tar Heels proceeded to shred through the visitor’s locker room in celebration. The University of North Carolina and head coach Larry Fedora have apologized to Duke for the damage done to the visitor’s locker room and UNC has offered to pay for the bill for repairs, according to The Herald Sun.

“We would like to apologize to the Duke Football program and Duke University for some inappropriate actions after last Thursday night’s game in Durham,” a statement from Fedora and UNC athletics director Bubba Cunningham stated. “Our players took the celebrations too far when they were painting the bell, resulting in damage to some of the facilities at Duke.  We take full responsibility for our players’ actions and will be paying for all costs associated with the cleanup.  We view this as a rivalry built on mutual respect and we expect our players to behave better in a way that is more befitting of the rivalry.”

According to the report, the locker room was damaged with light blue spray paint in Duke’s practice facility next to Wallace Wade Stadium. the letters “UNC” were painted on a door. The paint was found on walls and carpets and the costs to repair the facility is estimated to be in the thousands.

Why would North Carolina players have spray paint at a game? The tradition of the Victory Bell typically has the winning team coat the bell in the school colors of the winning team. In the event of a win in Durham, UNC players were ready to uphold that tradition by packing some light blue spray paint for the short road trip. The celebration started on the field and continued as the Victory Bell moved inside the facility.

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Division races come down to the wire in Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC

UCLA v Arizona State Getty Images

This is the final week of the regular season for many conferences, and division, conference and playoff spots are on the line. This is something to truly be thankful for this week if you are a college football fan. Great rivalry games will be played, and a handful will have higher stakes than usual. The Big 12 still has another week of regular season games to be played, but here is a look at the division pictures in each of the other power conferences a week before conference championship games are played.

ACC

Nothing to see here as the ACC and SEC do battle this week. We are locked into a Florida State-Georgia Tech ACC Championship Game after Duke lost to North Carolina last week. The Seminoles and Yellow Jackets met in the ACC title game two seasons ago, and Florida State has won two straight ACC crowns. Florida State could very well also be playing for a 13-0 record and a reserved spot in the College Football Playoff.

Big Ten

Ohio State has clinched the Big Ten East Division and is heading to Indianapolis for a second straight Big Ten Championship Game. The Buckeyes will face the winner of this week’s Minnesota-Wisconsin game. The Gophers and Badgers will play for Paul Bunyan’s Ax, but the winner also wins the Big Ten West Division. Wisconsin has won 10 straight meetings with the Gophers, and Wisconsin has played in and won two Big Ten Championship Games since it was introduced three seasons ago.

Pac-12

Oregon had the Pac-12 North wrapped up weeks ago and is waiting to see how the Pac-12 South plays out. This week the focus on the Pac-12 South focuses on two games playing at the same time on Friday afternoon. First, if UCLA beats Stanford, the Bruins return to a third Pac-12 Championship Game since the conference started it up. A loss to the Cardinal will offer the winner of the Arizona-Arizona State game a spot in the Pac-12 Championship Game. Stanford has beaten UCLA six straight times, with the Bruins last winning against the Cardinal in 2008. Arizona State has won three of the last four meetings with Arizona.

SEC

Both divisions in the SEC will be determined this week. The SEC East is pretty simple. If Missouri beats Arkansas, the Tigers are making a second straight trip to Atlanta as the SEC East Division champions. If the Tigers lose to the red-hot Razorbacks, then Georgia will represent the SEC East in the conference championship game thanks to a head-to-head tiebreaker earlier this season.

The SEC West has a couple of other factors at play, and it starts in the Egg Bowl. If Ole Miss defeats Mississippi State, then Alabama will clinch the SEC West championship before hitting halftime in the Iron Bowl against Auburn. If Mississippi State wins, that puts the pressure on Alabama to win the Iron Bowl. A Mississippi State loss and an Alabama loss to Auburn will give the Bulldogs the SEC West. If both Alabama and Mississippi State lose, the division will still go to Alabama but each team might be in severe jeopardy of playing in the College Football Playoff.

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Butkus Award announces five finalists

Washington State v Washington Getty Images

The Butkus Award, which will be given out Dec. 9, announced five finalists Monday morning:

Eric Kendricks, UCLA
Hau’oli Kikaha, Washington
Denzel Perryman, Miami (Fla.)
Jake Ryan, Michigan
Jaylon Smith, Notre Dame

Among the finalists, Kikaha leads with 17 1/2 sacks (most in FBS) and 23 1/2 tackles for a loss (also most in FBS), Kendricks leads with 124 tackles (sixth in FBS) and three interceptions (48th in FBS).

Each player’s stats:

Kendricks: 124 tackles, 7 TFLs, 2 sacks, 3 INT, 2 PBUs, 1 forced fumble
Kikaha: 63 tackles, 23 1/2 TFLs, 17 1/2 sacks, 0 INTs, 2 PBUs, 2 forced fumbles
Perryman: 96 tackles, 7 TFLs, 2 sacks, 1 INT, 4 PBUs, 3 forced fumbles
Ryan: 104 tackles, 13 TFLs, 2 sacks, 1 INT, 3 PBUs, 2 forced fumbles
Smith: 89 tackles, 7 1/2 TFLs, 2 sacks, 0 INTs, 1 PBU, 1 forced fumble

The Butkus Award also announced five high school finalists, headlined by a pair of Ohio State commits:

Jerome Baker, Benedictine – Cleveland, OH (Committed to Ohio State)
Justin Hilliard, St. Xavier – Cincinnati, OH (Committed to Ohio State)
John Houston, Junipero Serra – Gardena, CA (Uncommitted)
Malik Jefferson, Ralph H. Poteet – Mesquite, TX (Uncommitted)
Leo Lewis, Brookhaven – Brookhaven, MS (Committed to Ole Miss)

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Which teams need wins to be bowl eligible this weekend?

Pat Fitzgerald, Tim Beckman AP

Unless you’re an AAC or Big 12 fan, Saturday is the last day of college football’s regular season before Conference Championship week — which means it’s the last chance for a handful of teams to reach six wins and become bowl eligible.

For some teams on here (see: Michigan) making a bowl wouldn’t change a whole lot. But for rebuilding programs like California, getting to six wins and playing an extra game is big — not only does it show progress, but it affords coaches a few extra weeks of practice for young rosters.

Meanwhile, if Kentucky and Tennessee win, 13 of 14 SEC teams would be bowl eligible (sorry, Vanderbilt).

So which five-win teams can become bowl eligible over Thanksgiving weekend?

AAC

Temple (vs. Cincinnati, 12 p.m. ET Saturday on ESPNews)
Note: Temple, at 5-5, also could become bowl eligible with a win at Tulane Dec. 6.

Already bowl eligible: Memphis, UCF, Cincinnati, East Carolina, Houston

ACC

Virginia (at Virginia Tech, 8 p.m. ET Friday on ESPN)
Virginia Tech (vs. Virginia, 8 p.m. ET Friday on ESPN)
Pitt (at Miami, 7 p.m. ET Saturday on ESPN2)

Already bowl eligible: Florida State, Georgia Tech, Clemson, Louisville, Duke, North Carolina, Boston College, North Carolina State, Miami

Big 12

Oklahoma State (OFF this week, @ Oklahoma Dec. 6)

Already bowl eligible: Baylor, TCU, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Texas, West Virginia

Big Ten

Michigan (at Ohio State, 12 p.m. ET Saturday on ABC)
Illinois (at Northwestern, 12 p.m. ET Saturday on ESPNU)
Northwestern (vs. Illinois, 12 p.m. ET Saturday on ESPNU)

Already bowl eligible: Ohio State, Wisconsin, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Maryland, Iowa, Penn State, Rutgers

Conference USA

Old Dominion (at Florida Atlantic, 12 p.m. ET Saturday)
UAB (at Southern Miss, 3:30 p.m. ET Saturday)

Already bowl eligible: Marshall, Louisiana Tech, Rice, UTEP, Middle Tennessee, Western Kentucky

Independents

Navy (at South Alabama, 3 p.m. Friday on ESPN3)
Note: Navy, at 5-5, also plays Army Dec. 13.

Already bowl eligible: BYU, Notre Dame

MAC

Akron (at Kent State, 1 p.m. ET Friday on ESPN3)
Ohio (at Miami Ohio, 7 p.m. ET Tuesday on ESPN2)

Already bowl eligible: Northern Illinois, Bowling Green, Toledo, Western Michigan, Central Michigan

Mountain West

Fresno State (vs. Hawaii, 7 p.m. ET Saturday)

Already bowl eligible: Colorado State, Boise State, Air Force, Nevada, San Diego State

Pac-12

California (BYU, 4:30 p.m. ET Saturday on Pac-12 Network)
Oregon State (vs. Oregon, 8 p.m. ET Saturday on ABC)

Already bowl eligible: Oregon, UCLA, Arizona State, Arizona, USC, Utah, Stanford, Washington

SEC

Kentucky (at Louisville, 12 p.m. ET Saturday on ESPN2)
Tennessee (at Vanderbilt, 4 p.m. ET Saturday on SEC Network)

Already bowl eligible: Alabama, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Auburn, LSU, Texas A&M, Arkansas (the entire West division!), Mizzou, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina

Sun Belt

No teams playing for bowl eligibility

Already bowl eligible: Georgia Southern (well, maybe not), UL-Lafayette, Appalachian State (same as Georgia Southern), South Alabama, Texas State, Arkansas State.

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The FBS single-season rushing record is within sight for Melvin Gordon, if Wisconsin beats Minnesota

Melvin Gordon

Melvin Gordon became the fastest player to 2,000 yards in Wisconsin’s 26-24 win over Iowa on Saturday, hitting the 2k mark on just his 241st carry of the season. Gordon rushed 31 times for 200 yards on the day, brining his season totals to 2,109 yards on 254 attempts.

And that brings a much bigger record into play.

The fleet-footed junior is currently in 10th place on the FBS all-time single-season rushing list, sitting 519 yards away from tying Barry Sanders‘ record of 2,628 yards.

The last two weeks have brought Gordon’s average up to 191.7 yards per game on the season. Three more games at that average would put Gordon at 2,684 yards on the year – breaking the record by 56 yards. Of course, the catch is that Wisconsin doesn’t have three games guaranteed left to play.

Wisconsin hosts Minnesota Saturday with a spot in the Big Ten title game on the line. A victory extends the Badgers’ season by a game, and puts Sanders’ record within reach.

Gordon would have to have outstanding games against not only Minnesota, but Ohio State in the Big Ten title game and a quality bowl opponent as well. That said, Gordon has been up to the task against top competition this season.

Here’s how Gordon stacks up among the best single-season rushing performances thus far:

1. Barry Sanders, Oklahoma State (1988) – 2,628
2. Kevin Smith, Central Florida (2007) – 2,567
3. Marcus Allen, USC (1981) – 2,342
4. Troy Davis, Iowa State (1996) – 2,185
5. Andre Williams, Boston College (2013) – 2,177
6. LaDanian Tomlinson, TCU (2000) – 2,158
7. Mike Rozier, Nebraska (1983) – 2,148
8. Matt Forte, Tulane (2007) – 2,127
9. Ricky Williams, Texas (1998) – 2,124
10. Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin (2014) – 2,109

Barring injury (knock on every piece of wood within a 10-mile radius) or an NCAA waiver allowing 14 defenders on the field, Gordon should be in fourth place by the end of the day Saturday and figures to finish no worse than third regardless of whether or not the Badgers beat the Gophers.

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ACC calls Jameis Winston’s contact with official “insignificant”

Karlos Williams,Matt Milano,Steven Daniels

Mike Peireira won the #HOTSPORTSTAKE of the college football weekend by writing that Jameis Winston should have been flagged and ejected for shoving an official attempting to delay a Florida State snap until Boston College had a fair opportunity to match a Seminoles substitution.

“I’ve looked at this play several times, and in my opinion, Winston should have been penalized for shoving Webster not once, but twice,” he wrote. “In fact, I feel he should have been ejected.” For what it’s worth, ESPN’s own officiating expert agreed with Peireria.

Here’s the play in question:

On Sunday, the ACC issued a statement downplaying the incident.

“The center judge’s positioning, which was due to the experimental year of having an eighth official, combined with the late substitution and by rule the need to allow the defense to matchup, led to contact between himself and the player,” said ACC coordinator of officials Doug Rhoads. “The official believed the contact was incidental and insignificant and did not rise to the level of unsportsmanlike conduct and automatic disqualification.”

We must consider the source and circumstance here, however. Conference offices rarely – if ever – issue a statement to announce they botched it, and the ACC is going to be especially leery of casting a cloud of controversy to join the six or seven already hanging above its lone undefeated team and reigning Heisman Trophy winner.

The ACC needs Florida State’s win over Boston College to be viewed as legitimate, and this statement supports that.

Still, watching the video and reading Florida State’s corresponding quotes makes the situation appear like a highly-publicized misunderstanding. And it’s not like Winston shoved the zebra in question as hard as he could. In fact, it sounds like he wasn’t aware Florida State had substituted.

“He was just holding me because he said we had a substitution,” Winston said. “It was actually a fast-tempo play, so I was trying to get up under there and let it ride.”

Regardless, Florida State has beaten Boston College 20-17, and with this controversy behind them the 11-0 Seminoles will move on to Florida and whatever next week’s controversy brings.

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New Hampshire, North Dakota State earn top two seeds in FCS playoff bracket

We’re still two weeks away from Selection Sunday for the College Football Playoff, but the Football Championship Subdivision held its own Selection Sunday with a late morning announcement of the 2014 FCS playoff bracket.

The 24-team tournament will begin this weekend and conclude with the national championship in Frisco, Texas on Jan. 10, two days before the FBS title will be awarded 40 miles south on the George Bush Turnpike in Arlington. This is the fifth straight year the title game will be held in North Texas after more than a decade in Chattanooga, Tenn., and the fourth consecutive year the championship will take place after New Year’s Day.

New Hampshire earned the No. 1 overall seed after posting a 10-1 regular season and winning the always-tough Colonial Athletic Association. Three-time defending national champion North Dakota State grabbed the No. 2 seed, while Jacksonville State checks in at No. 3 and Eastern Washington earns the No. 4 ranking.

The 24-team bracket allows for the top eight seeds to earn first-round byes, meaning Illinois State (fifth), Villanova (sixth), Coastal Carolina (seventh) and Chattanooga (eighth) will take next weekend off.

First-round games break out as follows:

Sacred Heart at Fordham – winner plays New Hampshire
Indiana State at Eastern Kentucky – winner plays Chattanooga

San Diego at Montana – winner plays Eastern Washington
Stephen F. Austin at Northern Iowa – winner plays Illinois State

And on the opposite side of the bracket:

South Dakota State at Montana State – winner plays North Dakota State
Morgan State at Richmond – winner plays Coastal Carolina

Southeastern Louisiana at Sam Houston State – winner plays Jacksonville State
Liberty at James Madison – winner plays Villanova

First and second-round games will be webcast on ESPN3, and the championship is slated for 1 p.m. ET on ESPN2.

You can click here for the interactive bracket.

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He’s a man! He’s brief! Don’t bother quoting Mike Gundy after loss to Bayor

Mike Gundy

Oklahoma State lost to No. 7 Baylor 49-28 on Saturday night. The loss was the Cowboys’ fifth straight, dropping them to 5-6 and into a do-or-die Bedlam game at Oklahoma next week, but an argument can be made this was actually Oklahoma State’s best overall performance since playing Florida State to a 37-31 final in the opener.

After falling behind 14-0 early, Oklahoma State played Baylor to a 35-28 score over the final 55 minutes of the night. True freshman Mason Rudolph threw for 281 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions in his collegiate debut. It’s not great, but it counts for something in a tough season.

Still, head coach Mike Gundy was in no mood for conversation following the game. In fact, the man of “I’m a man! I’m 40!” had his very own Rasheed Wallace moment in Waco.

Via The Oklahoman:

Screen Shot 2014-11-23 at 3.49.45 PM

The fastest way to draw the ire of the college football media is to duck the college football media, and Gundy did just that in the eyes of a few high-profile writers.

Gundy is 1-8 in his nine seasons at Oklahoma State against the Sooners, so the odds of Oklahoma State walking into Norman and extending its season appear low. Either way, 2014 will go down as Gundy’s worst season in Stillwater since a 3-8 debut in 2005.

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Auburn “hopeful” to get WR Duke Williams back for the Iron Bowl

D'haquille Williams

Consecutive losses to Texas A&M and Georgia cost AP No. 15 Auburn any shot at competing for an SEC or national championship. Fortunately, the Tigers can still do the next best thing – keep AP No. 2 Alabama from doing the same.

To do so, it will need to be at full strength (or as close to full strength as a college football team can possibly be in late November) and that means having wide receiver D’haquille (Duke) Williams in the lineup.

Williams did not play in the Tigers’ 31-7 win over Samford on Saturday, but AL.com reports sources close to the wide receiver say he should be ready for Alabama.

“We are hoping he will be back this week,” head coach Gus Malzahn said. “I am not ready to make that call yet, but we are hopeful.”

Williams suffered a sprained MCL and a bruised knee in a second-quarter collision with Texas A&M defensive back De’Vante Harris in Auburn’s 41-38 loss to the Aggies on Nov. 8 and has not played since.

Auburn posted its worst offensive output of the Malzahn era in a 34-7 loss to Georgia on Nov. 15, as the Tigers compiled only 292 yards of total offense, averaging just 5.1 yards per pass and 4.3 yards per rush while accumulating a pedestrian 17 first downs (they average more than 24).

Williams leads the team with 38 grabs for 699 yards and five touchdowns. The junior is in his first year on the club after transferring from Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College.

Auburn will visit Alabama at 7:45 p.m. ET on ESPN on Saturday.

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OU RB Samaje Perine, Mizzou DE Markus Golden win Walter Camp Player of the Week honors

Samaje Perine

Another week, another round of what had to be the easiest vote in Walter Camp Player of the Week history – at least on the offensive side.

Oklahoma freshman running back Samaje Perine, holding his mythical FBS single-game rushing championship belt, has been named the Walter Camp Football Foundation’s Offensive Player of the Week. Perine bested Melvin Gordon‘s week-old FBS single-game rushing record by toting the rock 34 times for 427 yards and five touchdowns in No. 21 Oklahoma’s 44-7 bludgeoning of Kansas at a rainy Memorial Stadium in Norman on Saturday afternoon. Perine is the fifth Sooner to win the honor, and first since Sam Bradford took it home on Sept. 9, 2007.

On the defensive side, Missouri defensive end Markus Golden won Player of the Week honors for his part in No. 20 Missouri’s 29-21 win at Tennessee. Golden collected six tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, two sacks, a fumble recovery and two quarterback hurries. The win kept Missouri ahead of Georgia for the top spot in the SEC East. A win over Arkansas on Friday gives Mizzou its second consecutive division crown.

Golden is the first Tiger to win Walter Camp Defensive Player of the Week accolades since fellow defensive end Aldon Smith took it home on Sept. 5, 2010.

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Florida State edges Alabama for top spot in AP Top 25

Boston College v Florida State

Florida State edged Boston College on Saturday, and did the same to Alabama on Sunday, keeping the Crimson Tide at bay by 13 votes for the top spot in Sunday’s Associated Press Top 25. Oregon and Mississippi State remained third and fourth, but a 49-28 win over Oklahoma State was enough for Baylor to pass TCU for the fifth spot – and the Bears did so by one point.

Georgia remains the highest-ranked two-loss team at No. 8, four votes ahead of No. 9 UCLA. Arizona used a 42-10 whipping of Utah to leapfrog Arizona State for the No. 12 spot.

Ole Miss was this week’s biggest loser – just like the Coaches’ Poll – dropping ten spots from No. 8 to No. 18. And for those wearing scarlet, green and purple among us, this is significant because Mississippi State’s resume now includes a solitary Top 25 victory over No. 15 Auburn, and No. 18 Ole Miss this week.

Minnesota was the AP’s biggest gainer, leaping from 31st all the way to 22nd thanks to its 28-24 win at Nebraska.

The full poll:

1. Florida State – 1,458 total votes (37 first-place votes)
2. Alabama – 1,445 (21)
3. Oregon – 1,393 (2)
4. Mississippi State – 1,301
5. Baylor – 1,234
6. TCU – 1,233
7. Ohio State – 1,163
8. Georgia – 1,002
9. UCLA – 998
10. Michigan State – 971
11. Kansas State – 898
12. Arizona – 807
13. Arizona State – 790
14. Wisconsin – 764
15. Auburn – 597
16. Georgia Tech – 581
17. Missouri – 525
18. Ole Miss – 398
19. Marshall – 384
20. Oklahoma – 363
21. Colorado State – 346
22. Minnesota – 232
23. Clemson – 198
24. Louisville – 191
25. Boise State – 96

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Alabama passes Florida State for top spot in latest Coaches’ Poll

Blake Sims

Yet another nail-biting win cost Florida State the top spot in the latest Amway Coaches’ Poll, which was released early Sunday afternoon.

Florida State’s 20-17 squeaker over Boston College coupled with Alabama’s 48-14 blowout of Western Carolina was enough for the ‘Noles and Tide to swap spots, pushing Alabama back to the top spot for the first time since its Oct. 4 loss at Ole Miss.

Speaking of Ole Miss, the Rebels were this week’s biggest losers, as a 30-0 loss to Arkansas saw them fall eight spots from eighth all the way to 19th. Marshall dropped two spots for a 23-18 win at UAB.

Close road victories by Minnesota and Louisville allowed each to move up eight spots, as a 28-24 win at Nebraska bumped the Gophers from unranked to 22nd, and Louisville moved from 31st to 23rd with a 31-28 win at Notre Dame. Clemson and Boise State are also new to the poll.

Here’s how the full poll shakes out:

Screen Shot 2014-11-23 at 12.36.35 PM

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Week 13, Statistically Speaking

Joey Iosefa, Tau Lotulelei

A statistical snapshot of the week that was in college football…

.592 – Winning percentage of visiting teams in Pac-12 road games (29-20) this season. The six teams ranked in last week’s Associated Press Top 25 (Oregon, UCLA, Arizona State, Arizona, Utah and USC) have a combined overall road record of 23-6 (.793).

.815 – Ohio State’s winning percentage (97-22) in Big Ten play since 2000, the highest league winning percentage among all Power Five schools.  Oklahoma 99-24 is next at .805.

.933 – Career field-goal percentage for Florida State’s Robert Aguayo (42-45).  The all-time career mark, for at least 45 attempts per the 2014 FBS record book, was .900 (45-50) by Louisiana-Lafayette’s Brett Baer (2009-12). The career mark, for at least 55 attempts, is .895 (68-76) by Nebraska’s Alex Henery (2007-10).

0 — Touchbacks this season for Wake Forest punter Alex Kinal, the only player in the Top 25 in punting average who can make that claim.

1 — 400-yard passing games for Jake Waters in his career, the lone one coming in Kansas State’s win over West Virginia Thursday night (400 even).  Waters had only one previous 300-yard game, that coming in November of last year against Oklahoma (348).

Ohio State v Maryland

Brad Craddock

1 – Kickers at the FBS level who have yet to miss a field goal attempt (minimum eight attempts) this season: Maryland’s Brad Craddock (17-17).  Craddock has made 23 straight attempts dating back to 2013, the longest current streak at the FBS level and third-longest in Big Ten history.

1.2 — Yards per play Savannah State averaged in its 64-0 loss to BYU.  The Cougars limited the Tigers to 40 yards passing on 28 attempts and 23 yards rushing on the same number of attempts.

4 – FBS teams currently undefeated in conference play:

Florida State (ACC, 8-0)
Georgia Southern (Sun Belt, 7-0)
Marshall (Conference USA, 7-0)
Ohio State (Big Ten, 7-0)

5 — Consecutive games Auburn allowed 30 or more points prior to playing Samford, the first time that’s ever happened in the history of the football program.

5 – Number of undefeated home seasons in the history of Utah State football: 1968 (4-0), 1972 (5-0), 1982 (4-0), 2012 (6-0) and 2014 (6-0).

6 — Total touchdowns (five rushing, one receiving) for Colorado State’s Dee Hart in a win over New Mexico, the second-highest single-game total in Mountain West History.

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The Fifth Quarter: Week 13 Rewind

Samaje Perine AP

As is the case each and every season, each and every week, any omission below is not on purpose, it’s merely intentional.

HISTORIC REPEAT
As it turns out, while Samaje Perine made history, the timeframe in which he did it wasn’t historically unprecedented.

In Oklahoma’s win over Kansas, Perine set the FBS single-game rushing record with 427 yards.  That performance broke the record of 408 set a week ago by Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon.  Most assumed Perine’s breaking of a rushing record that was a week old had never happened before; Anthony Thompson would point out what the word “assume” makes out of all involved.

Back on Nov. 11, 1989, the Indiana running back’s 377 yards broke the previous mark of 357 yards.  That record was first set by Washington State’s Rueben Mayes in 1984 and tied by Cal State Fullerton’s Mike Pringle on Nov. 4, 1989, exactly one week before Thompson broke it.

Below is how the FBS rushing record has progressed over the past four-plus decades:

347 — Ron Johnson, Michigan, 1968
350 — Eric Allen, Michigan State, 1971
356 — Eddie Lee Ivery, Georgia Tech, 1978
357 — Rueben Mayes, Washington State, 1984
357 — Mike Pringle, Cal State Fullerton, 1989
377 — Anthony Thompson, Indiana, 1989
386 — Marshall Faulk, San Diego State, 1991
396 — Tony Sands, Kansas, 1991
406 — LaDainian Tomlinson, TCU, 1999
408 — Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin, 2014
427 — Samaje Perine, Oklahoma, 2014

Perine was also second to Thompson in something else — percentage increase of the previous record.  Thompson bested the old mark by 5.6 percent;  Perine, meanwhile, topped Gordon’s week-old record by 4.7 percent.

Some would say, though, the most impressive record belongs to Gordon.  The Badger back did his record-setting damage in three quarters of work and on just 25 carries; the only other players on that list with less than 30 carries were Ivery (26) and Allen (29).  Gordon’s 16.2 yards per carry is easily the best mark among the group, with only Ivery (13.7) within three yards.   Perine did average 12.6 ypc, the third-best among that group of 11 players.

At the opposite end of the yards-per-carry spectrum were Thompson and Sands, who averaged 7.25 yards on 52 carries and 6.8 yards on 58 carries, respectively.

Of course, Perine is the only true freshman to break the record… and he did it in three quarters plus two fourth-quarter plays after not starting a game played in the rain… and he is the only player to rush for 200-plus yards in both halves of a game, all of which makes his performance arguably the greatest of all-time regardless of how you attempt to parse out the numbers.

PROJECTING CFP TOP FOUR
Unlike previous weeks, there was no upheaval around the top of the College Football Playoff Top 25 in Week 14.  The highest-ranked team to lose was No. 8 Ole Miss, and, with two losses, it’s unlikely the Rebels were a realistic playoff option to begin with.

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No. 9 UCLA flattens No. 19 USC, moves one step closer to Pac-12 South title

USC v UCLA Getty Images

Brett Hundley‘s first possession ended in complete disaster, a 17-yard pick six by Anthony Sarao to give USC a 7-0 lead. From then on, though, Saturday night could not have been more perfect. Hundley completed 22-of-31 passes for 326 yards and three touchdowns while adding another on the ground to lead No. 9 UCLA to a 38-20 win over No. 19 USC at the Rose Bowl.

While Hundley was playing his best football of the season, his counterpart was running for his life. Cody Kessler completed 22-0f-34 passes for 214 yards and a touchdown, but was sacked six times and harassed countless more. USC was also credited with 33 rushes for 62 yards.

Paul Perkins led the charge for UCLA with 24 rushes for 93 yards and a touchdown.

The game was actually tied 14-14 early in the second quarter, but UCLA went on a 24-0 run over the next 17 minutes to put the game away. A Ka’imi Fairbairn field goal gave UCLA the lead, and Hundley’s touchdown pass to Eldridge Massington pushed the lead to 24-14 just before the half.

Perkins opened the second half with a 10-yard scoring burst, and a 15-yard Hundley run all but sewed things up with 9:22 remaining in the third quarter.

The win moves UCLA to 9-2 on the season and gives the Bruins their third straight victory over USC, their first three-game winning streak over their cross-town rivals since winning seven straight from 1991-98. The win also moves Jim Mora‘s team to within one victory of a Pac-12 South title and two wins away from a Pac-12 championship. The Bruins will have to beat Stanford next week to win the division and Oregon to win the conference. It was Oregon who beat UCLA for the Pac-12 championship in 2011, and Stanford who did it in 2012.

USC, meanwhile, drops to 7-4 on the season and will close the regular season with a similarly disappointing 7-4 Notre Dame team at the L.A. Coliseum on Saturday night.

 

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