The DiRT Canon Blog

What No One Tells You About #Winning Tuesday


All Aboard the S.S.TD:

The Gronk.  Lovable meathead, really good tight-end for the Patriots just disembarked from his “Party-Cruise”.  The debaucherous, drunken revellry seemed to be on par with another party that comes to mind in the Big Easy, and according to social media, it was.  However, while everyone was re-living the halcyon days of Sodom & Gamora and being tailed by “intrepid” journalists to “document” the event – we need to ask this question – How is Manziel any different?

Is it because Gronk is a Pro-Bowler, a Superbowl Champion and has never been accused of striking a woman?  Why do we treat Gronk as lovable meathead and Manziel a loser for being the same Teddy Bro-sevelt?  At some point we should stop demonizing notorious behavior while applauding another as we maintain our upright moral status with the rest of the swine.  Then again, how much could you have had on this hedonistic cruise?

+ Read: Let’s all have as much fun as Gronk’s Party Ship.

Then there’s the King of Berzerkers, the thorn in the SEC paw, the man in the khakis, hanging out at WWE Raw last night.  The most visible and entertaining coach in college football lately, is a self-avowed rasslin’ fan and was front and center at Joe Louis Arena.  How can you not love this guy’s headline making ways?

Welcome to @UMichFootball head coach @CoachJim4UM, ringside at @WWE#RAW in Detroit!! #Wolverinespic.twitter.com/II49BL7Cml

— WWE (@WWE) February 23, 2016


NBA

ATLANTA, GA - FEBRUARY 22: Andrew Bogut #12 of the Golden State Warriors dunks against Al Horford #15 of the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena on February 22, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia. NOTE TO USER User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

If you follow along with us, then you know Mondays are prettay prettaaay prettaaaay special when you read our 5pt plays and build your lineups with our LineupAnalyzer.  Or maybe you were too caught up in listening to another hit from the dark-side of the moon and the Apollo 10 astronauts…Either way, you can read The United Stats of #Murica #NBA edition for a review or read these 5 takeaways:

  • Warriors become the fastest team to 50 wins in NBA history by beating Hawks. It got interesting. Atlanta became the latest team to make a big run on Golden State and force a response. Portland did it most of the game, but the 13-turnover third quarter for the Warriors put that game out of reach. The Clippers game seemed to be in garbage time until a 13-0 run late gave Los Angeles a chance to tie (the shot fell short). Then Monday night the Warriors were in complete control up 23 in the third quarter, when the Hawks went on a 33-6 run and took the lead. These lapses are a combination of factors. The Warriors have some mental vacations, they get bored it seems, but also teams are not just rolling over for them. Good teams that have pride. The result is the Warriors having to work hard for games where it felt like they were in control.
  • Channing Frye makes his debut for Cavaliers but Pistons spoil the day. Cavaliers fans got to see the guy they gave up Anderson Varejao for Monday night (not that much was expected of Channing Frye in his debut, he’s had basically no practice time with the team). Frye played nine minutes for the Cavaliers, missed both his threes, and looked like the new kid trying to fit in. He’ll find a more comfortable groove.
  • Giannis Antetokounmpo finishes the off-the-backboard alley-oop. Yes, it still counts if you do it against the Lakers’ defense. The Bucks picked up a win and the Greek Freak had maybe the highlight of the night.
  • Pistons void Donatas Motiejunas trade with Rockets over concerns about his back.Stan Van Gundy has coveted Motiejunas for years — a true 7-footer who can bang inside and is shooting 41.2 percent from three this season. He’s a perfect fit on paper for the inside-out offense Van Guyndy is trying to set up in Detroit.
  • Kyle Lowry puts up triple-double. Does it still count if Jose Calderon is guarding him? Kyle Lowry and the Raptors went into Madison Square Garden on Monday night and looked every bit the second best team in the East, with an unstoppable backcourt led by Kyle Lowry. Going up against the porus defense of Jose Calderon, Lowry did what he wanted on the way to 22 points, 11 assists, and 11 rebounds, and the Raptors picked up a comfortable win 122-95.

Source: Five Takeaways from NBA Monday: Warriors become fastest team ever to 50 wins – ProBasketballTalk

Big man Hassan Whiteside continues to confound the Miami Heat by mixing in dominant performances with head-scratching mistakes that cloud his future with the team.

+ Read: Whiteside remains an enigma for Miami – Yahoo News

+ Read: NBA’s ‘haunted hotel’ strikes again — this time with bed bugs | New York Post


NFL

The NFL withheld a big chunk of money from the NFLPA. (USATSI)

The NFL Player’s Association (NFLPA) was on the winning side of an arbitration that’s expected to cost the NFL more than $100 million.

Arbitrator Stephen Burbank sided with the NFLPA over an issue that had to do with the pool of revenue (or shared revenue pool) that the NFL splits with its players. According to the Wall Street Journal, the league is going to have to return about $120 million in revenues that it wrongly collected over the past three years.

+ Read: Report: NFL withheld more than $120 million from players over 3 years – CBSSports.com

Let’s face it: All 32 NFL teams have plenty to do before the start of the new fiscal year, as well as the beginning of free agency on March 9.There are just some that have more to do than others.

+ Read: NFL Teams That Have the Most Work to Do Before Free Agency | Bleacher Report


MLB

Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Zack Greinke talks to the media during a press conference, Friday, Dec. 11, 2015, in Phoenix. Greinke could have stayed with the Los Angeles Dodgers or gone up the coast to the San Francisco Giants. Instead, he signed a massive contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks, dramatically shifting the landscape in the NL West.   (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

The phrase “play the game the right way” is vague, so it’s usually tough to know exactly what someone means when they use the phrase. Hitting batters as revenge, for example, could be “right” if you’re an old-school baseball type, or it may be wrong to someone else. NL West managers say the Diamondbacks “play the game the right way,” Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post reports.

+ Read: NL West managers say the Diamondbacks “play the game the right way” – HardballTalk


Overtime

+ Read: Nation’s fastest football player? LSU’s Donte’ Jackson can make that claim – CollegeFootballTalk

On Sunday, a relieved Bubba Watson interrupted his post-tournament press conference at the Northern Trust Open in Pacific Palisades, Calif., as the gleaming prize was placed beside him on the table. Though he had to pass a kidney stone earlier in the week, he still managed to rally back on the final day of action to win the tournament for the second time in three years.

In a thrilling final round packed with twists and turns, Watson closed out a one-shot victory over leader Jason Kokrak and 2013 Masters winner Adam Scott at Riviera Country Club. Bubba finished with a 15-under 269 total.

+ Read: Bubba Watson won the Northern Trust Open.

What You Need To Know For Wednesday, Dec. 30 2015

name of site - hunter thompson style

nationwide_college map

1.

Degenerate Me

Last weekend was a monster for us junkies, despite what looked like insane violence on many football fields – or is it because of it? (shrugs shoulders)  Only the wetheads worry about blood on the grass during times like these, when the football gets better each week and the money you pillage from suckers, lines your pockets like fine silk.  The best being yet to come, except for maybe place like Cleveland and San Francisco who are more like bloated dead bodies floating along the ethereal abyss.

Playing with House-Money has always been risky – however, last week was swimming with sharks.  Many high-altitude rollers got eaten alive on Sunday – those that survived were clubbed like baby seals, causing an eruption of fear and grief in homesteads from coast to coast.  Strong men wept, and women hurled themselves savagely down dirty stairwells in filthy towns like Boston and Cleveland – Cripes, even in the frozen snow out here in the Rockies.

But me?  My own luck was splendid, as the Marquis used to say, as I repeatedly fleeced and humiliated two of the cruelest and most depraved degenerates in America, the infamous McCutcheon brothers from Pittsburgh.  T’was wonderful.  The arrogant swine got exactly what they deserved – a massive public beating they will never forget.  They came out here with huge wads of ca$h and revenge in their hearts for the losses they suffered last year in the very same bunker – where their doom is a constant companion.  It’s even worse during bowl-season.

2.

C’Ya Chipster

Good luck Chipster – your 1st lesson as a professional was a hard one.  You found out that going 10-6, 10-6 and 6-9 don’t mean much in Philly.  Never you mind that the Eagles have no idea how to win, because they haven’t since…….ummm, hold on, it’s right here in my notes….oh yeah, 1960.  It was 20 years later since they returned to play for a title, and another 24 until the next one – losing both – so it’s likely not until 2024 that they contend anyway.

Besides looking for another job in the #NFL – Tennessee, maybe? – you have to deal with Screamin’A dustin’ off an old narrative; as he did appearing on Mike and Mike this morning telling a classic Screamin’A story about a time he was “stopped on the street” by some Eagles players who came up to him and started talking about Chip Kelly.  Sensationalism!

The point is – you had all the control Chip and made some shaky decisions and never quite won enough to earn the cache you need.  Just remember, Bill was run out of Cleveland and it also took awhile in Foxboro before he became the man he is today – You just keep it 100 Chipster and if it doesn’t work out here, you’ll have your pick of places in college – like Baton Rouge if Les doesn’t change.

+ GOODBYE, MR. CHIP: PHILLY FIRES KELLY – Read More

LF=212yds 5TD’s

3.

(Can’t) Hold That Tiger

The Tigers wrapped up a very memorable, drama-filled football season with a record-setting 56-27 win over Texas Tech in the Advocare Texas Bowl, and it sure does feel good. One could argue that last night’s game doesn’t mean a whole heck of a lot, but after losing three of the previous four bowl games, and enduring a three-game losing streak in the month of November, it’s nice to head into the offseason on a high note. With last night’s win, the Tigers ended the season 9-3, and let’s not forget that this would have almost certainly been a 10-win season had the season-opener against McNeese State been played.

Source: Dandy Don’s LSU Recruiting and Sports News – LSU Football and More!

4.

Today in History

On December 30, 1978, Ohio State University (OSU) makes the decision to fire its 65-year-old football coach, Woody Hayes, one day after Hayes punched a player on the opposing team near the end of the Gator Bowl.

Source: OSU fires coach Woody Hayes for attacking an opposing player – Dec 30, 1978

5.

Out of Chaos Comes Order

Social issues are a minefield for athletes.  Michael Jordan was never going to be confused for Kareem when it came to social justice and attitudes.  No one is, and athletes that came after never wanted to jeopardize their image to their corporate masters – just as players today are more conscious of their “brand” then they are at times with their play.

Yet, Lebron speaks out after advocates ask him to strike games to honor Tamir Rice – is this what we want our athletes to do when every social crisis occurs?  Read more here.

Source: LeBron Speaks Out After Advocates Ask Him To Strike Games To Honor Tamir Rice

1466534404493707303

6.

The More You Know

Week 17 – Situational Trends

By Week 17 Vegas knows which teams are truly bad. In the last five years, home underdogs of a touchdown or greater in the last week of the regular season have gone 1-33 SU and 14-20 (41%) ATS.

  • Games Matching this Criteria: Browns (+10) vs. Steelers and Dolphins (+9) vs. Patriots.

The Cardinals and Chiefs are on fire each having won nine straight games. The last 30 teams to win that many games in a row went 22-8 straight-up in their next matchup but 12-17-1 (41%) against-the-spread.

  • Games Matching this Criteria: Chiefs (-6.5) vs. Raiders and Cardinals (-4.5) vs. Seahawks.

Tom Brady and the Patriots don’t lose often but when they do, New England typically wins (40-10 straight-up) and covers (34-16 against-the-spread – 68%) the next week.

  • Games Matching this Criteria: Patriots (-9) at Dolphins.

  • ATL -4 vs. NO The Falcons are 7-3 against-the-spread in their last ten games as home favorites against the Saints.
  • AZ -4.5 vs. SEA Carson Palmer is 7-1-1 against-the-spread at home with Arizona against non-divisional opponents but 3-3 ATS vs. the NFC West.
  • BAL +7 @ CIN In the last five years, AFC North teams that have been underdogs of a touchdown or greater to the Bengals are 0-5 straight-up and 1-3-1 ATS.
  • BUF +3 vs. NYJ The Bills are 8-2 against-the-spread in their last ten home games against the AFC East.
  • CAR -10.5 vs. TB Cam Newton has never lost as a touchdown or greater favorite, he is 11-0 straight-up and 6-5 ATS.
  • CHI -1 vs. DET The Bears are 2-7-1 against-the-spread in their last ten games against the Lions.
  • CIN -7 vs. BAL The Bengals are playing for a bye in the AFC. All-time, teams that have been favored by a touchdown over the Ravens are 5-1 straight-up.
  • CLE +10 vs. PIT Cleveland has lost eight straight as double-digit underdogs against AFC North rivals but the Browns went 5-3 ATS in those games.
  • DAL -3 vs. WAS The Cowboys are 1-5 against-the-spread at home this year and are now 3-11 ATS the last three years when Tony Romo doesn’t start.
  • DEN -7.5 vs. SD Denver is 3-6-1 against-the-spread in its last ten home games as touchdown or greater favorites.
  • DET +1 @ CHI Detroit is 2-18 straight-up in its last 20 games as road dogs against the NFC North, the Lions went 9-10-1 ATS in those games.
  • GB -3 vs. MIN The Packers can clinch the NFC North with a win, Aaron Rodgers is 18-4 straight-up (14-7-1 ATS) vs. the division as a home favorite.
  • HOU -6.5 vs. JAX The Texans clinch the AFC South with a win, Houston is 15-7 straight-up all-time as a home favorite against the division.
  • IND -6 vs. TEN Indy needs a win (plus a lot of help) to make the playoffs. The Colts are just 3-4 straight-up (3-4 ATS) in home games this year.
  • JAX +6.5 @ HOU The Jags have been road dogs in 13 straight games vs. division opponents. Jacksonville went 8-4 ATS in its previous 12 games.
  • KC -6.5 vs. OAK KC has won nine straight (including four in a row vs. the AFC West) and is 7-2 against-the-spread during the winning streak.
  • MIA +9 vs. NE The Dolphins have been underdogs to the Patriots in 25 straight games, Miami went 11-13 ATS in the previous 24 contests.
  • MIN +3 @ GB The Vikings can clinch the NFC North with a win but Minnesota hasn’t won in Green Bay since 2010 and is 1-4-1 ATS in its last six games in Lambeau.
  • NE -9 @ MIA New England clinches home-field advantage with a win, the Pats have won 18 straight as touchdown favorites vs. the AFC East ( but are only 6-10-2 ATS)
  • NO +7 @ ATL This is the fifth straight division game in which the Saints have been underdogs, New Orleans covered the previous four.
  • NYG -3 vs. PHI The Giants are 2-8 ATS in the team’s last ten home games against the Eagles.
  • NYJ -3 @ BUF The Jets can clinch a playoff berth with a win against the Bills but New York has lost and failed to cover in four straight vs. Buffalo.
  • OAK +6.5 @ KC The Raiders are 14-6 against-the-spread in the team’s last 20 road games against division rivals.
  • PHI +3 @ NYG Philly is 8-2 against-the-spread in its last ten road games as underdogs against division opponents.
  • PIT -10 @ CLE Big Ben has been a double-digit road favorite seven times in his career and failed to cover in each game (including losing outright last week).
  • SD +7.5 @ DEN Philip Rivers has won six of his last ten trips to Denver and the Chargers went 7-1-2 against-the-spread in those games.
  • SEA +4.5 @ AZ In Russell Wilson’s career, the Seahawks following a loss in the regular season are 11-6 against-the-spread the next week.
  • SF +3.5 vs. STL The 49ers have been home dogs to the Rams 11 times. San Francisco is 3-8 straight-up and 5-5-1 ATS.
  • STL -3.5 @ SF The Rams aren’t favored on the road often (just 10 times in the last ten years), but when they are St. Louis covers (7-3 ATS).
  • TB +10.5 @ CAR The Bucs have lost six straight as double-digit dogs to divisional rivals but Tampa Bay went 3-3 against-the-spread in those games.
  • TEN +6 @ IND The Titans have failed to cover in seven straight road games against division rivals (1-6 straight-up as well).
  • WAS +3 @ DAL The Washington professional football team is 8-2 ATS in its last ten trips to Dallas.

What You Need To Know For #TNF & 4 More Things

name of site - hunter thompson style

1.

1991 Your Table Is Ready…

The last time the Lions won at Lambeau, the year was 1991 – The First Gulf War was over before the baseball season started, I’ve been to parties that lasted longer – Bill Clinton said he wanted to be President – Twins win the World Series – Magic has HIV – There was a shooting at Iowa University that 5 people lost their life – The Cold War officially ended when the Soviet Union dissolved after Gorbachev’s resignation – basically a lot of things.  The last time the Lions swept the Packers, was also in ’91.  So you begin to wonder about parrelels and destiny for a team that looked to go 0’fer in 2015 and are looking at an outside shot at the playoffs – if……..too many things fall their way.

Finally, the Football Gods have given us a reason to watch the #NFL on #TNF that doesn’t require a lineup.  Not that we won’t have one with guys playing tonight – but you do not need a lineup to enjoy this one.

Look, it’s hard enough to believe the Lions can sweep the Packers, but there is something about this new offense from Jim-Bob Cooter, or the emergence of Ziggy Ansah, or something seems weird about Aaron Rodgers lately, that the Lions DO have a chance at home tonight – either way here is DC*3PO’s top 5 for tonight, and make mine nostalgia for a Detroit victory +3:

Guys to watch on #DraftKings for Tonight’s game, according to DC*3PO

  • Aaron Rodgers $7,200 – 20.3 – 63%
  • Matt Stafford $6,100 – 18.8 – 68.1%
  • Calvin Johnson $7,600 – 17.4 – 68.1%
  • Randall Cobb $6,600 – 14 – 52.1%
  • Golden Tate $4,800 – 12.4 – 70.4%

2.

F.U.E.S.P.N

That is Keenan Reynolds.  The best Navy quarterback since some dodger named Roger won the Heisman, back in ’63.  Why should you care? Well for 1) he is the all time rushing-TD leader in the history of college football and 2) He WAS the leading vote-getter in the ESPN/Nissan Fan Poll – but ESPN removed him from the ballot.  Why?  Because, ESPN doesn’t show the Army/Navy game – CBS does – and the WorldWide Leader does not want to promote someone they do not feature…see last Heisman rant re: Baker Mayfield.  ESPN has tried to explain it to Deadspin – but let’s face it, it’s sh*tty politics and smells as bad.  Maybe if he wore a dress he could get some recognition from ESPN – until then you can at least go here: and vote for Keenan to at least be on the FAN poll – just search for “American” under conference, “Navy” under team and then Reynolds.


3.

Pistol – ShaQ – Ben

That is Ben Simmons and hopefully he never has to play for the 76ers and will just trade in his amateur Purple+Gold for professional Purple+Gold.  He leads the nation in rebounds per game and just had a 43 pt game – without making a 3.  That’s Pistol-Pete territory, who never averaged below 43pts/game in all 3 years he played for the Tigers (no 3pt arc nor shot clock – Insanity).

Oh, and Steph Curry had 28pts last night……in the third quarter.  Even Kobe scored 31 on 10-24 shooting…….just sharing the rock of love.


4.

Kirby & Richt 

Both men prove you can go home again – Kirby back to Georgia and Richt back to the U.  Can Kirby bring with him the PROCESS and make Georgia more relevant than they have been?  It’s a tall order because, like Les Miles, championships will be what matters at UGA – If in 5yrs there is still no SEC title, then what?  The real issue will be who Kirby takes with him from Alabama and to me it will be enough for Saban to leave ‘Bama and get back into the NFL – Colts?

For Richt, it’s more about culture building at the U.  He was Jim Kelly’s backup when the U was beginning to create its legacy.  For awhile now, Miami has been irrelevant and has no foundation.  Richt is a great coach and the media and people who know him say he’s an even better guy.  If he does for Miami, what he did for Athens and can re-fashion that secret sauce, Miami will become important again.


5.

The Unionization of Baseball

Marvin Miller advised Curt Flood not to sue. It would end his career, he told him. Even if he won, the court would never award damages. Flood had nothing to gain by taking baseball to court.

“But if we win,” Flood replied, “it would help my teammates, wouldn’t it? And it would help all the players in both leagues? It would help all of the players coming up in the future?” That, as Miller would later say, was Curt Flood.

Flood was one of a long line of players who worked to bring down the reserve clause. He eventually would lose his case before the Supreme Court, but his actions helped spur changes that would topple the clause within a few years. On April 10, 1976, Andy Messersmith signed as a free agent with Atlanta, and the reserve clause that had bound players indefinitely to their owners for nearly a century finally was defeated……(continue reading)

Source: The Unionization of Baseball – The Hardball Times

Les Miles, Mark Richt and the science of making decisions about coaches

name of site - hunter thompson style

As he stood on the field Saturday night at Tiger Stadium with his famous cap doffed and soaked in the adulation of his subjects, Les Miles looked every bit a king. At the time, those subjects may have thought this king was getting led to the gallows in the coming days or hours, but only because they didn’t know the ongoing coup had run out of steam and had run into forces marshaled by Miles and his supporters.

When LSU athletic director Joe Alleva stood at a podium after the Tigers’ 19–7 win over Texas A&M, he acted as if the previous 11 days hadn’t happened. “The season is complete and I want to make it very clear and positive that Les Miles is our football coach and will continue to be our football coach. Okay? I’m looking forward to working with coach Miles as he leads this team to a bowl game and another great recruiting class,” Alleva said. “Les and I have talked, we’ve talked about this program, and we are committed together to working to win and compete at the highest level. And I really, frankly, don’t have much more to say than that. I’m very pleased about tonight’s outcome and I’m very pleased that coach Miles is our coach. We’re going to go forward together and win championships here at LSU.”

Had Alleva really wanted to make it clear that Miles was LSU’s coach, he would have done so long before Saturday night. He would not have allowed Miles to twist while stories planted by those trying to oust Miles carried news cycle after news cycle. A one-paragraph statement would have squashed everything. The fact that Alleva waited almost two weeks to say anything speaks volumes.

Meanwhile, in another part of the SEC, Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity acted as if everything was business as usual. There was speculation about coach Mark Richt’s future following a 27–3 loss to Florida on Oct. 31, but there were no planted stories. There would be no focus grouping of a difficult decision. There might have been public debate on radio shows and in newspaper columns, but no Georgia official or heavy-hitting booster participated. No one tried to shape the message, because no one let on that there was a message to shape. Then, on the morning after the Bulldogs squeaked by Georgia Tech 13–7 in their 2015 regular-season finale, McGarity met with Richt and it was over. The press release made their parting sound like a mutual decision, but when a person wants to continue to be the head coach and he isn’t given that option, he has been fired as the head coach. The king in Athens had been deposed in a bloodless coup.

Had McGarity, his lieutenants or Georgia’s boosters leaked any of the deliberations, the conversation probably would have played out much like it did at LSU. Like Miles, Richt has a stellar résumé. Like Miles, Richt has not won as many games in recent years as his program should expect to win. In both cases, a conflicted fan base has argued the merits of keeping a successful coach even though the on-field results seem to suggest the program has stagnated. In both cases, some people are happy with the outcome and some can’t believe the decision made by the leadership. Only one thing is clear: The people in Athens handled their deliberation in a far more professional manner than the people in Baton Rouge.

Though Alleva wouldn’t come out and say it, Miles’s job was on the line. We know this because for 11 days after a story in The Advocate was published that screamed “plant,” Alleva wouldn’t address the one question everyone wanted answered. This is just common sense. Why risk losing recruits if there is no debate about whether Miles will return? Whether Alleva was complicit in the attempted ouster or merely sticking his finger in the wind and waiting to see which side prevailed is another question. But Alleva certainly didn’t support his coach. And, given the events of Saturday night, that puts Alleva on the wrong side of history in this case. McGarity, meanwhile, didn’t have to answer the burning question because no one had seeded the clouds to produce a storm of speculation.

The people who tried to fire Miles didn’t heed the advice Ralph Waldo Emerson once gave an essayist who had criticized Plato. “When you strike at a king,” Emerson wrote, “you must kill him.” Nor did they follow the advice of Niccolo Machiavelli, whose The Prince remains the ultimate guide to acquiring and keeping power. “… men ought either to be well treated or crushed, because they can avenge themselves of lighter injuries, of more serious ones they cannot; therefore the injury that is to be done to a man ought to be of such a kind that one does not stand in fear of revenge,” Machiavelli wrote.

Those involved in the plot to fire Miles should stand in fear of revenge. While the LSU organizational chart lists Miles below Alleva, Miles rules by virtue of his financial clout—it’s a lot cheaper to fire Alleva than Miles—and by the personal capital he has accumulated in 11 seasons as the coach. Going 14–12 in the SEC over the past three years weakened that power and made Miles vulnerable, but apparently it did not make him vulnerable enough.

Alleva now must watch his back because whether he was a leader, an accomplice or a bystander, he botched the handling of this situation. Clearly, someone powerful wanted Miles out. Scott Rabalais, The Advocate columnist whose story on Nov. 17 suggested Miles would be coaching for his job down the stretch, would not have written that story had someone with clout not confirmed it. Rabalais doesn’t have a history of writing to titillate. Either the plan was inadvertently leaked or someone wanted it out there to conduct some focus group testing. The scheme was further confirmed on Nov. 20 when LSU board of supervisors member Ronald Anderson told Glenn Guilbeau of Gannett Louisiana that Miles might not even be able to save his job by beating Ole Miss and Texas A&M. A 38–17 loss to the Rebels on Nov. 21 only turned up the heat.

At any point, Alleva could have stepped forward and crushed the rumors. Either through a press conference, a statement or a strategic leak, all speculation about the job status of Miles could have been eliminated. But Alleva never did that. He hung Miles out to dry, forcing him to answer questions about his job status that he couldn’t answer because his boss wouldn’t say if he was keeping or firing the coach.

The leaders of the coup blew it because they didn’t understand that some things must be buttoned up before the operation begins. You don’t fire a coach with Miles’s pedigree if you don’t already have some kind of assurance that you can replace him with a coach who will excite the fan base and make it forget its anger over Miles being tossed aside. The obvious choice to replace Miles was Florida State coach and former LSU offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher. But Tom D’Angelo of the Palm Beach Post, who has long had great connections in Tallahassee, reported Saturday that Fisher told Florida State’s president he didn’t plan on leaving. Had Fisher given anyone in Baton Rouge an indication he would come, he probably would have put off answering any questions from the Seminoles brass. That sort of assurance should have been secured before the first story was leaked. Without it, the entire plan should have been scrapped.

The leaders of the coup aren’t entirely crazy, by the way. It isn’t absurd to suggest LSU’s program has stagnated in recent years. It also is a fact that LSU has lost its last five meetings against Alabama, and teams that expect to compete for SEC West, SEC and national championships—as LSU does—must be able to beat Alabama on occasion to win such titles. If Miles continues to struggle in this department, the boosters won’t need a coup. The subjects will supply their own torches and pitchforks. But as Saturday proved, the base for Miles hasn’t eroded yet.

http://www.campusrush.com/res/community/twitter_embed/?iframe_id=twitter-embed-670699345033850880&created_ts=1448742159.0&screen_name=BobbyJindal&text=.%40LSUCoachMiles+is+a+great+coach+and+a+better+man.+He+is+a+fantastic+ambassador+for+our+state.+I+hope+he+remains+our+coach.&id=670699345033850880&name=Gov.+Bobby+Jindal

There were no tweets from Georgia governor Nathan Deal imploring McGarity to keep Richt, because the Bulldogs brass had kept things quiet. They had not thrown the decision-making process so open that it could be co-opted by political forces. Just like at LSU, Georgia’s football team is supposed to win its division and compete for conference and national titles. Richt hasn’t won the league since 2005. He hasn’t won the SEC East since ’12 despite having the best team on paper in each of those years. The final straw may have come on Halloween with the puzzling decision to start third-string quarterback Faton Bauta against Florida in the only game the Bulldogs truly had to win. Had they beaten the Gators, they likely would have won the SEC East. Instead, they played one of their worst games this fall in a 24-point loss.

Georgia and LSU have unique advantages that make the high expectations understandable. The state of Georgia has produced more Power Five recruits in the past five years than any other besides Florida and Texas. Yes, Georgia has to worry about Alabama, Auburn, Florida State, Tennessee and South Carolina raiding the state, but it has a far more fertile recruiting ground than most schools. LSU, meanwhile, is the king in a state that doesn’t produce the same volume as Georgia but does produce its share of freaky talent. Each program should routinely compete for the SEC title, but both have one huge problem. His name is Nick Saban. Alabama’s coach is the best of his generation. As long as he stays in Tuscaloosa, the Crimson Tide will be the favorite to win the league.

And while it would be perfectly honest for Miles or Richt to say, “I’m not as good at winning football games as Saban is,” it is an unacceptable excuse when Miles is paid $4.3 million per year and Richt was paid $4 million per year to do the same job. That might be the biggest problem with the SEC’s soaring coaching salaries. It’s reasonable to expect a guy making $4 million annually to win almost every game. Unfortunately, while rising TV revenue has allowed ADs to create more $4 million-per-year coaches, no one has created more potential wins on the conference schedule.

So, the Bulldogs will seek a coach who can bring home championships. It might be Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart or Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen or Houston coach Tom Herman, but the expectations will be the same ones that ultimately kneecapped Richt. Whoever Georgia hires will get his wallet stuffed, but if he doesn’t fill the trophy case, he’ll be gone, too. Miles, meanwhile, will get more time to right the ship. Though he did it more artfully, Miles mimicked Alleva’s behavior over the previous week on Saturday when he dodged a question about whether offensive coordinator Cam Cameron would return. Cameron’s contract is expiring, and the offense in general and quarterback development specifically are considered the Tigers’ primary problems. It won’t shock anyone if LSU’s offense is under new management in 2016. The bigger question is whether Miles, after this scare, will go outside his comfort zone and make a major schematic change that may or may not work.

Richt can either stay at Georgia in a non-football capacity or try to prove McGarity wrong by accepting a coaching job at another school. Miles, meanwhile, must begin repairing the relationships with recruits that were damaged by Alleva’s prolonged silence. What happens to Alleva now? That may depend on Miles.

A group struck at the king, but it missed. Perhaps it didn’t appreciate the chest required to perform such a task when the Mad Hatter is wearing the crown.

Projected College Football Playoff

1. Oklahoma (11–1)

When quarterback Baker Mayfield is playing, the Sooners look like the toughest offense in America to stop. (Which is a great reason for Mayfield to see the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center in less than two weeks.) That was a good Oklahoma State team that Oklahoma crushed 58–23 on the road Saturday. The Sooners made it look so easy. As I wrote two weeks ago, Oklahoma is the 2015 team that looks the most like Ohio State did at this point last year. But the truth of the matter is that there doesn’t seem to be much separation between No. 1 and No. 4. This list represents a shuffling of last week’s projection, but just like in last year’s playoff, No. 4 could beat No. 1. And I don’t know where Oklahoma will land in the selection committee’s final rankings, but it sure looks like the Big 12 will avoid getting shut out this year.

2. Michigan State (11–1)

A week after winning at Ohio State, the Spartans put the hammer down on Penn State. Michigan State’s 55–16 win gives it some serious momentum heading into a Big Ten championship showdown with undefeated Iowa (12–0). The Hawkeyes will not make life easy on the Spartans, though. That game could take a while to get going as two teams that love to feast on opponents’ mistakes feel out one another. But they may as well call it a playoff quarterfinal. The winner is in.

3. Alabama (11–1)

The Crimson Tide looked mortal for the first time in November during a 29–13 Iron Bowl win over Auburn, but Alabama is fine as long as it beats Florida in the SEC title game. As for that, if you watched Florida’s offense—and we use that term loosely here—in a 27–2 loss to Florida State, you know the only way the Gators could win would be with a final score of 4–3. The more likely scenario? Alabama wears down the Florida defense behind tailback Derrick Henry, who the following week joins Mayfield in the Big Apple. (Who wins the Heisman Trophy? It seems like Henry has the edge at the moment.)

4. Clemson (12–0)

Yes, South Carolina finally brought back the awesome garnet helmets that Steve Taneyhill used to wear. Perhaps the Tigers were blinded by the beauty of those lids. That’s the only possible reason for them to muck around against the 3–9 team that is also the only one to beat North Carolina. This was a three-point game in the fourth quarter, for goodness sakes. After Saturday, the idea of a Tar Heels’ win in the ACC title game seems far more plausible. What would that mean in the grand scheme? The Tigers hope you never find out. (But if you’d like to consider the possibility, read on to the “First-and-10” section.)

A random ranking

As usual, crowdsourcing the topic for this ranking remains the superior method of subject selection. So, thanks to Ben Whitehead for the following request.

http://www.campusrush.com/res/community/twitter_embed/?iframe_id=twitter-embed-670806616976027648&created_ts=1448767735.0&screen_name=BenOnSports&text=%40Andy_Staples+The+James+Bonds.+Actors%2C+not+movies.&id=670806616976027648&name=Ben+Whitehead

Here you go, Ben.

1. Sean Connery
2. Daniel Craig
3. George Lazenby
4. Pierce Brosnan
5. Timothy Dalton
6. Roger Moore

Big Ugly of the Week

I know I made Michigan State center Jack Allen one of the honorees in this section last week for his blocking performance in the Spartans’ 17–14 win at Ohio State. But I never said we couldn’t have a repeat winner. Click and behold the most beautiful play ever run in a football game. Go ahead and hand him the Piesman.

https://vine.co/v/iaph5bjTLeE/embed/simple

First-and-10

1. The most interesting game this week is the ACC championship, which will either serve as a play-in game or an agent of chaos. It’s obvious that Clemson would make the College Football Playoff by winning in Charlotte. More difficult to predict is what would happen if North Carolina wins.

Assuming the selection committee leaves the Tigers at No. 1, a Tar Heels’ victory would give them the best win of any of the contenders. But that win would likely be North Carolina’s only one against a team ranked in the committee’s Top 25. The Tar Heels would also have the worst loss of any contender (to 3–9 South Carolina in the season opener on Sept. 3) and wins over two FCS opponents (North Carolina A&T and Delaware). So, would North Carolina, the winner of 12 in a row and the ACC champion, make the field? Or would it be Stanford, which would improve to 11–2 if it beats USC in the Pac-12 title game and would have played a schedule that included 12 games against Power Five foes? Or would it be 11–1 Ohio State, which didn’t win its division and has only one quality win (this past Saturday at Michigan) but would probably be favored over everyone except Alabama by Las Vegas handicappers?

Committee members will have it easy if Clemson wins. If North Carolina wins, prepare for fierce debate.

2. Elsewhere in the ACC, Virginia Tech announced the hiring of Justin Fuente from Memphis. In news that might be just as big, the school announced longtime Hokies defensive coordinator Bud Foster will stay with the program in the same role.

“I’ve been privileged to work for a legendary coach who always did it the right way,” Foster said in a statement. “I enjoyed that chapter and the success we’ve had, however, I am equally excited for the next chapter and working for Justin. Justin and I share a vision for the future of our program. After spending time together, I’m convinced he’s the right person to continue building on the standard we’ve established at Virginia Tech. I’m truly looking forward to working with him and supporting him.”

With Fuente running the offense and Foster running the defense, expect Virginia Tech to be competitive in the ACC again very quickly.

3. In another part of the commonwealth, Virginia fired Mike London. London, who went 27–46 in six seasons in Charlottesville, will get a $2.7 million buyout. The only real surprise is this didn’t happen last year.

The Cavaliers will need an inspired hire, because they’ll compete against several more desirable openings. Virginia Tech’s vacancy has already been filled, but with Maryland also seeking a coach, the D.C.-Maryland-Virginia region should be very interesting next year.

4. Rutgers didn’t just fire coach Kyle Flood on Sunday. The school also jettisoned athletic director Julie Hermann, who had generated nothing but negative headlines since replacing Tim Pernetti.

In a letter sent Sunday to the Rutgers community, president Robert Barchi wrote that Pat Hobbs, the dean emeritus of Seton Hall’s law school, would replace Hermann. Hobbs was supposed to be the interim AD, but Barchi and Rutgers officials liked him so much during the interview process that they gave him the job on a permanent basis. Next up for Hobbs? Finding a football coach.

5. Anyone who has read or heard me over the years knows I don’t care if 5–7 teams make bowl games. I like football, and therefore I have no problem with more teams playing in bowls. Let them all play.

But since there is still a rule about who gets to play in a bowl, it seems worth noting that there are currently only 75 teams with six wins or more and 80 bowl spots to fill. Because Kansas State, Georgia State and South Alabama are the only five-win teams with games left, at least two five-win teams are guaranteed to make a bowl. Since all three of those teams will be underdogs this weekend, it’s possible that five five-win teams will make bowl games.

It has been reported that if five-win teams are to play in bowl games, they will be selected on the basis of Academic Progress Rate scores. Unfortunately, no one seems to know how that would work. Would the five-win teams with the highest APR scores go to bowls? Or would a five-win team with the highest APR score in a conference that has a contract with a particular bowl game get the nod?

In case you’re wondering, the five-win teams with the highest APR scores are Nebraska (985), Missouri (976), San Jose State (975), Minnesota (975), Illinois (973) and Rice (973).

6. Clay Helton will get at least one more game as USC’s coach after the Trojans clinched the Pac-12 South title with a 40–21 win over UCLA. Whether Helton can get the permanent job by winning the Pac-12 entirely remains to be seen, but he certainly has done his best to put the program in a great place for 2016.

“This was a great opportunity for our seniors to leave their legacy. It has been since 2008 that a USC football player was able to call themselves a champion,” Helton told reporters Saturday. “For this team to leave their mark and lead their stable back into the light. I can’t tell you how proud I am of them. They are leaving their mark not only now, but for years to come. What they have done for the second half of this season will continue to next season.”

7. Iowa State announced the hiring of Toledo’s Matt Campbell on Sunday. He is in Ames already, and he’ll talk more about the new gig Monday.

http://www.campusrush.com/res/community/twitter_embed/?iframe_id=twitter-embed-671106515877556224&created_ts=1448839236.0&screen_name=CycloneFB&text=Matt+Campbell+greets+the+media+after+arriving+in+Ames.+%23CyclONEnation+https%3A%2F%2Ft.co%2FClGdXA8qv9&id=671106515877556224&name=Cyclone+Football

8. Southern Miss continued its incredible turnaround Saturday by beating Louisiana Tech 58–24 to win Conference USA’s West Division. When you have players like Mike Thomas making plays like this, you tend to win more games.

https://vine.co/v/iaHUpiKhBOi/embed/simple

9. There was a Dab epidemic this weekend. Even Lane’s Kiffin’s son got into the act.

http://www.campusrush.com/res/community/twitter_embed/?iframe_id=twitter-embed-670797275099209728&created_ts=1448765507.0&screen_name=Lane_Kiffin&text=Was+awesome+having+Knox+in+Cam%27s+house.+%23Dab+https%3A%2F%2Ft.co%2FufBi0qv744&id=670797275099209728&name=Lane+Kiffin

10. Want to shed a tear? Watch this from Rice senior running back Luke Turner. Owls coach David Bailiff is beloved in the coaching community, and here’s a glimpse into why.

What’s eating Andy?

Is the Dab really even a dance? It kind of seems more like a stance. Of course, I shouldn’t complain. It might be the only dance craze I can pull off. My Stanky Leg is terrible.

Andy Staples

What’s Andy eating?

Friday began in my bed in Florida. Then came three hours in the Atlanta airport. Then a mad dash west on Interstate 80 from Omaha to Lincoln ending at Memorial Stadium a few minutes before Iowa and Nebraska kicked off. Later, jubilant Iowa players were interviewed and a story was written. When it was filed, I looked at the clock. It read 8:53 p.m. Central time. One thought thundered through my brain and down to my stomach. (Or maybe it traveled in the opposite direction.)

I might just make it.

I was 47 miles from The Drover, which closed at 10 p.m. If there wasn’t any postgame traffic on the interstate, I’d get there just in time. Hopefully, it would still have a Whiskey Ribeye for me.

The first time I ate at The Drover was in 2001. I had come to Omaha to cover Tennessee in the College World Series for the Chattanooga Times Free Press. I was 22 and hadn’t yet discovered the true joy of eating on the road. I was the young hack content to wolf down Little King sandwiches and cover the games.

But one night, when the Volunteers didn’t have a game, some of the old hacks asked if I wanted to join them at The Drover. It’s one of those places that gets whispered in press boxes across America. Every hack who passes through Omaha eats a steak there, probably because it seems made for us. Most of our physiques tip off our love of meat. But lots of places serve steak. We love The Drover so much because, like most of us, it isn’t cool. It might have never been cool. If it ever was, those days are long past. Now the place is aggressively, unapologetically uncool. No pretentious foodie would be caught dead there, and that’s what makes it perfect.

The giant wooden door looks like it was repurposed from a ranch-style castle. At the salad bar—yes, it still has one—iceberg lettuce is the only available base. The theme that best describes the decor is bordello-that-serves-cowboys, and the lights stay dimmed throughout. It’s especially dark in the bar, where the flicker of televisions and the twinkle of Christmas lights provide the illumination.

There are many items on the menu, but you are only ordering one of two entrees. If you prefer your steak lean, you’re ordering the Whiskey Filet. This is a 12-ounce filet marinated in whiskey, grilled exactly as you order it and served by an employee who is genuinely thrilled to host you and allow you to taste this delicious steak. If you prefer a more marbled cut, you’re ordering the bone-in Whiskey Ribeye. (You’re only ordering them rare or medium rare, but hopefully you already knew that.) When whiskey-soaked beef hits a flame, that whiskey caramelizes. So, you get a steak with a slightly sweet crust that compliments the salty seasoning and the savory beef. You’re also ordering the sautéed mushrooms—if you have room.

But the steak is all that really matters. It’s all that ever mattered at The Drover. That’s why I couldn’t believe my luck Friday when I saw that the lights were still on and the grill remained lit.

Source: Les Miles, Mark Richt and the science of making decisions about coaches

What No One Tells You About #Winning: #CollegeFootball Week 12

name of site - hunter thompson style

CLEMSON, SC - NOVEMBER 7: Head Coach Dabo Swinney of the Clemson Tigers walks on the field during warmups prior to the game against the Florida State Seminoles at Memorial Stadium on November 7, 2015 in Clemson, South Carolina. (Photo by Tyler Smith/Getty Images)
1. Dabo-Dabo Do?

Is this already a foregone conclusion that Nick Saban is leaving to either Texas or the Colts?  We already are thinking about possible replacements at Alabama, with 11 other openings around the country and possibly more as the season winds down?  Sure Dabo is a former walk-on and played for the Bear, but is he the answer?  Doesn’t ‘Bama fan want the flavor-o’month and former O-coordinator Jim McElwein?  I find it hard to believe that at 64 Saban wants anything to do with rebuilding anywhere, and yet the man’s ego is a large one and he failed miserably at Miami and going to the Colts would give him the the thing he lacked with the Dolphins – a prettay, prettaaay, prettaaaay good QB.  Then again, Dabo says “You don’t ever say ‘never’ when it comes to ‘Bama job” – so something must be percolating…


2. Is Michigan State a Test For Ohio St, or Pop-Quiz?

Ever since it knocked off Oregon to claim the first championship in the College Football Playoff era, Ohio State has been the subject of national fascination. Who is the better fit at quarterback: J.T. Barrett or Cardale Jones? Why do the Buckeyes keep playing tight games against clearly inferior opponents?

Saturday brings the program’s first real test since it hoisted the trophy, as No. 3 Ohio State (10–0) will host ninth-ranked Michigan State (9–1) in Columbus. It will provide an indication of whether these Buckeyes have what it takes to defend their title.

So, who emerges from a critical Big Ten clash? Get hyped for the game with the video below.

https://link.brightcove.com/services/player/bcpid2546892348001?bckey=AQ%7E%7E%2CAAAB9mw57HE%7E%2CxU4DCdZtHhuasNZF5WPK5LWKKRK4p1HG&bctid=4622458642001&height=100%25&width=100%25&autoStart=false&secureConnections=true&secureHTMLConnections=true


nationwide_college map

3. Remote Patrol

The College Football Playoff and conference title races are winding down, with just two more full weekends of football until the league title games. There is still a lot to be decided with many big games left — including six between ranked teams Saturday.  While the SEC mostly has a forgettable weekend, it’s a huge week for the Big Ten and Big 12, both of which had backloaded schedules. Attention will be on the Big Ten for much of the afternoon, then shift to the two big prime-time games in the Big 12. Below, we break down all of Saturday’s notable matchups.

(h/t matt brown)


Early Afternoon

No. 12 Michigan at Penn State
Noon, ABC

Two things need to happen for next week’s Michigan-Ohio State game to be the Big Ten East championship game in Jim Harbaugh’s first season: Ohio State has to beat Michigan State on Saturday, and Michigan needs to win in Happy Valley. Michigan has been the better team than Penn State this season, but this is still a dangerous game for the Wolverines, who have not won in Beaver Stadium since 2006. Penn State is 7-3 overall but 6-0 at home, beating three Big Ten opponents by a total score of 96-10. Of course, those three opponents were Rutgers, Indiana and Illinois. Michigan represents quite a step up, with a defense that has mostly been outstanding — except for defending the run last week in the tight win at Indiana — and an offense that has gotten improvement out of QB Jake Rudock. After Jordan Howard’s success running against Michigan last week, it will be interesting to see what star Penn State freshman Saquon Barkley can do (he ran for 194 yards in the loss to Ohio State) against the Wolverines. Michigan’s defense should rebound enough to get it done, but the Wolverines have a huge game against the Buckeyes next week and have come one play from losing in each of their last two road games against Minnesota and Indiana.


No. 17 North Carolina at Virginia Tech
Noon, ESPN

North Carolina has rattled off nine straight wins but is still fighting for respect. The Tar Heels moved up to 17th in the playoff rankings, with a lot of ground still to make up because they 1) lost to South Carolina, 2) played two FCS teams in September and 3) have not played a team that is currently ranked. This is a very good team, though, ranking second nationally yards per play and making big strides on defensive under coordinator Gene Chizik. Saturday presents a challenge. This is the last home game at Lane Stadium in the legendary career of Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer, and the Hokies, at 5-5, are having a rough season but still just need one win to get to the postseason and continue Beamer’s streak of 22 straight bowl games. It’ll be a tough road atmosphere for the Tar Heels, but they are still a tough team to match up with. Their offensive line is good enough to neutralize Virginia Tech’s talented defensive line, and the Hokies just might not be explosive enough to keep up with UNC’s penchant for big plays.


No. 21 Memphis at Temple
Noon, ESPNU

With Memphis’ back-to-back losses to Navy and Houston and Temple losing to South Florida lastAltX.Logo.white week, this game has lost some luster. Still, it remains one of the best Group of Five games of the year. Temple is trying to maintain hold on the AAC East, and Memphis is trying to stay in the top 25. It’s also an enticing matchup between Tigers quarterback Paxton Lynch and the Temple defense, led by star linebacker Tyler Matakevich. This is Memphis’ second season in a row going to Philadelphia, and last season the Tigers edged the Owls 16-13. Expect another close one, but Temple probably doesn’t have quite enough offense to out-duel Lynch.


Purdue at No. 5 Iowa
Noon, ESPN2

While the Big Ten East begins its biggest stretch of the season this weekend … Iowa plays Purdue. The Hawkeyes are quietly rolling along, beating Indiana by eight and Minnesota by five. Before a tricky road trip to Nebraska to end the regular season, the Hawkeyes have to fend off Purdue, who in the last three weeks upset Nebraska, got blown out by Illinois and gave Northwestern trouble in a 21-14 loss. Purdue might put up a fight, but Iowa is running the ball too well, with LeShun Daniels racking up 195 yards last week.


Georgia Tech at Miami
12:30 p.m., ESPN3/ACC Networks

In the preseason, this looked like it could be a pivotal game in the ACC Coastal. Instead, Georgia Tech is one of the nation’s biggest disappointments at 3-7, while Miami fired coach Al Golden and has given up 117 points in its last two losses, to Clemson and North Carolina. The Hurricanes are fortunately already bowl eligible — thanks in part to the gift/miracle against Duke — but their struggling run defense could have a lot of trouble with Georgia Tech’s option attack.


Illinois at Minnesota
Noon, ESPN News

Two teams trying to scratch and claw their way to bowl eligibility. Illinois is 5-5 and has Northwestern left after this. Minnesota is 4-6 and has Wisconsin next. The Golden Gophers have put up a fight against Michigan, Ohio State and Iowa under new coach Tracy Claeys, but they still haven’t won since Jerry Kill stepped down. This is a chance to come through at home and make the postseason possible if the Gophers can upset the Badgers next week.


Late Afternoon

No. 9 Michigan State at No. 3 Ohio State
3:30 p.m., ABC

Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett played the best game of his college career in the Buckeyes’ season-changing win at Michigan State last November, throwing for 300 yards and three touchdowns and rushing for 86 yards and two touchdowns. The Buckeyes offense has been up-and-down all season and has been more effective running than throwing, but this is actually a golden opportunity to get Barrett rolling as a passer again. The Michigan State back seven is a shell of its former self and is especially vulnerable to big plays. If Ohio State can get going in the passing game like last year, that’ll open things up for Barrett and Ezekiel Elliott on the ground against what is an excellent Michigan State defensive line.

The Spartans’ problems are more than just the secondary, though. The offensive line has had injuries, and now star quarterback Connor Cook is dealing with a shoulder injury. While he’s going to play, it’s unclear how close he’ll be to 100 percent. That is bad news against an Ohio State defense that has played at a high level most of the season, ranking fifth in yards per play allowed. The Buckeyes are loaded with talent,starting with Joey Bosa up front. Cook has the shoulder issue, the MSU offensive line has had more problems than expected, the running game is inconsistent and the pass defense has holes. Throw in the fact that Michigan State has played a ton of close games, and it’s hard to see the Spartans taking down the undefeated Buckeyes on the road. This is still a very good Michigan State team, but it’s not the same team we saw the last couple years.


No. 15 LSU at No. 22 Ole Miss
3:30 p.m., CBS

LSU was ranked No. 2 only a couple weeks ago. Now it’s going on the road to Oxford to try to avoid three straight losses, something it hasn’t done since 1999. Just like that, after a crushing defeat at the hands of Alabama and a more unexpected one at the hands of Arkansas, the Les Miles hot seat talAltX.Logo.whitek has bizarrely sprung up. Miles is 110-31 at LSU, has won a national title and appeared in another championship game, has won 10 games in seven of 10 seasons and could do so again and he continues to recruit at a high level. Next year, he’ll get Leonard Fournette, Jamal Adams, Malachi Dupre, Kevin Toliver and several other talented young players back.

LSU’s November has been frustrating and could get a lot worse, but let’s tap the brakes on bailing just yet. Maybe the end of the season will go poorly … or maybe Leonard Fournette will get rolling again. The Ole Miss defense is solid against the run, but LSU did have success grinding out yards in a 10-7 win last year against the Rebels. (Fournette will surely rack up plenty of yards against Texas A&M next week). The Rebels struggle to run the ball, and while Chad Kelly has been solid at quarterback, he’ll be throwing against one of the nation’s best defensive backfields. It’s quite clear that LSU was overrated at No. 2, but let’s not overreact too far the other way just yet.


No. 24 USC at No. 23 Oregon
3:30 p.m., ESPN2

For a while, this game looked like it would be sort of depressing. Both teams had disappointing first halves of the season, going from the top 10 in the preseason to quickly out of the polls altogether. Now they’ve crawled their way back in, with Pac-12 title hopes still alive. In fact, USC controls its destiny in the Pac-12 South thanks to its head-to-head win over Utah. The Trojans have won four in a row, although the last three have been by eight points or less, and injuries are really taking a toll. Oregon has also won four in a row, including the upset at Stanford, and again three of its four wins have been by six points or less. These are flawed teams, but they’ve taken big steps in the right direction. While Cody Kessler could have a big day against this Oregon secondary, look for the Ducks offense to do a lot of damage with a healthy Vernon Adams at QB.


UCLA at No. 13 Utah
3:30 p.m., Fox

Injuries have hit UCLA hard this season, with linebacker Myles Jack, defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes and cornerback Fabian Moreau all out for the season. Now they’re hitting Utah too. Star tailback Devontae Booker is out for the rest of the regular season after tearing his meniscus. Both UCLA and Utah suffered upset losses last week, with the Bruins losing to Washington State and Utah losing to Arizona, and now the Utes have to move on without their most important player. Booker leads the nation with 268 carries, and he also has 37 catches. No other Utah running back has more than 19 rushes (QB Travis Wilson has 94), and Booker is also second on the team in receptions. Just about everything Utah does revolves around Booker. This isn’t the easiest spot for UCLA, coming off a loss with a freshman quarterback — the very talented Josh Rosen — playing on the road against a solid defense, but even with the Bruins’ injuries, it’s hard to see where Utah’s offense is going to come from.


No. 20 Northwestern at No. 25 Wisconsin
3:30 p.m., Big Ten Network

In an ideal world for Iowa, the Wildcats and Badgers will play an exciting, down to the wire game that results in both teams staying in the top 25 and boosting the Hawkeyes’ resume. After all, Iowa beat both teams on the road. With Iowa rolling toward the Big Ten West title, this is likely a second-place game in the division, between two 8-2 teams that lean heavily on their defenses. Wisconsin, typically one of the nation’s best running teams, is 89th in rushing this season with a rebuilding offensive line and the absence of running back Corey Clement for much of the year. Northwestern is 116th in yards per play. The defenses are excellent: Wisconsin leads the nation in points allowed and Northwestern is 12th. The over/under of 40 points may be tough to hit.


Arizona at Arizona State
3:30 p.m., Fox Sports 1

In a battle of top-15 teams last year, Arizona won the Territorial Cup and the Pac-12 South title in AltX.Logo.whitetaking down the rival Sun Devils 42-35. It was one of the most meaningful games ever in this rivalry. Now? Both are trying to finish strong after disappointing seasons. Last week was a good start, as Arizona upset Utah at home and Arizona State scored 27 unanswered points to beat Washington 27-17. Arizona is bowl-eligible at 6-5, while Arizona State needs to beat either the Wildcats or California to get to six wins, in a season in which it began ranked 15th in the AP poll. This isn’t quite what anyone thought it would be in the preseason, but it could still be a fun game between evenly matched teams. Arizona does have health concerns, as quarterback Anu Solomon is questionable after suffering a concussion last week.


Wake Forest at No. 1 Clemson
3:30 p.m., ESPN2

Syracuse put up a fight against Clemson last week, but Wake Forest just doesn’t have the offense to really threaten the Tigers in Death Valley, although the Tigers are dealing with some injury questions. Even if Clemson is not at full strength, Deshaun Watson and Clemson’s defensive line can dominate this game. The Demon Deacons don’t have the weapons to keep up, and Clemson will take care of business in its final home game before going to rival South Carolina next week.


Charleston Southern at No. 2 Alabama
4 p.m., SEC Network

Sorry, Nick Saban told us that we cannot take the Buccaneers — who are 9-1 and ranked No. 8 in the FCS! — too lightly, so we must acknowledge the existence of this game.

Charleston Southern’s only loss this season was to an FBS opponent. That opponent was Troy, who beat the Buccaneers 44-16. Sorry, Nick?


Prime Time

No. 10 Baylor at No. 6 Oklahoma State
7:30 p.m., Fox

The stat has been repeated a million times, and it will continue until Baylor changes the conversation: Baylor has not won in Stillwater since 1939. It’s worth noting that the teams didn’t play often until the Big 12 was formed, but the Bears’ last trip there was particularly notable: Oklahoma State ended Baylor’s undefeated 2013 season with a 49-17 win. This time, it’s Baylor who is trying to spoil Oklahoma State’s perfect season and keep its championship hopes — which are slim right now — alive. The Bears have to do it without quarterback Seth Russell, who’s out for the year, and now they may have to do it without new starter Jarrett Stidham. In just his second game, Stidham hurt his back in the loss to Oklahoma last week, and he’s considered questionable Saturday night. If he doesn’t play, the Bears will move on to sophomore Chris Johnson, who spent part of this season at receiver.

Given that uncertainty, and given Oklahoma State’s run of close games — except the TCU win, in which the Cowboys capitalized on turnovers — it’s hard to know just what to expect on Saturday night. Oklahoma State has played well, even successfully using a two-quarterback system with sophomore Mason Rudolph and senior J.W. Walsh. James Washington has broken out as a big-play receiver, and the defense has taken step forward this season behind star pass rusher Emmanuel Ogbah. But like with Michigan State earlier this year, the question is whether the wheels will come off: Oklahoma State has won four close Big 12 games and has often had to come from behind, including in last week’s frightening 35-31 win at Iowa State. With Baylor’s quarterback situation a wild card, Oklahoma State stands a solid chance of winning another big game and setting up a Bedlam for the ages.


No. 18 TCU at No. 7 Oklahoma
8 p.m., ABC

Just as Baylor has a quarterback issue as the Big 12 hits the middle of its big games amid a backloaded schedule, TCU faces one as well with Trevone Boykin questionable after he injured his ankle in last Saturday’s close call against Kansas. Making things worse, TCU will play the rest of the regular season without star wide receiver Josh Doctson, who played last week after a wrist injury but was clearly not 100 percent. If Boykin doesn’t play, TCU’s starter will be freshman Foster Sawyer, whose only completion on seven attempts last week was at least a touchdown.

Given TCU’s injury problems on offense, and given the problem it has had on defense all season, it’s increasingly difficult to see the Horned Frogs winning in Norman. Oklahoma is playing at extremely high level, with a balanced offense that features quarterback Baker Mayfield making a move in the Heisman race, as well as a defense that ranks sixth in yards per play. Mayfield has weapons around him, led by Sterling Shepard and Samaje Perine, and the offense has hit its stride under new coordinator Lincoln Riley. While the loss to Texas keeps its playoff hopes in question, Oklahoma has looked like one of the four best teams in the country.


Mississippi State at Arkansas
7 p.m., ESPN

A week after LSU got blown out by Alabama, Arkansas was there to pile on against a broken-downAltX.Logo.white team. Now the same situation presents itself: Mississippi State was demolished by Alabama, and it has to turn around and travel to Fayetteville to meet an Arkansas team that’s poised to go from one of the season’s biggest first-half disappointments to a possible second-place finish in the SEC West. Two of Arkansas’ wins have been in multiple overtimes — one a miracle against Ole Miss — but the Razorbacks are playing well, particularly quarterback Brandon Allen and tailback Alex Collins. Dak Prescott can have some success against this Arkansas defense, but the timing for the Hogs couldn’t be much better.


Boston College at No.4 Notre Dame (at Fenway Park)
7:30 p.m., NBCSN

Notre Dame is a playoff contender, but the most interesting part about this game will likely be the aesthetics of playing in Fenway Park. Otherwise, while the Boston College defense is excellent (first in yards per play), its offense has been a disaster (126th in yards per play). The Eagles defense might keep them somewhat close to the Fighting Irish, but it’s unlikely to ever feel close. They’re going to need to force turnovers and capitalize on short fields. Otherwise, there’s no reason to be confident in a team that hasn’t scored more than 17 points against an FBS opponent and has a 3-7 record.


Georgia Southern at Georgia
7 p.m., ESPNU

This is such a dangerous game for Georgia, who is 7-3 but has had coaching issues and major issues on offense. The Bulldogs escaped with an ugly win over Auburn last week, and next week they draw Georgia Tech’s option offense. In between, they take on Georgia Southern’s explosive option offense. Remember, the Eagles — who were at the FCS level at the time — beat Florida two years ago in a game in which they didn’t complete a pass. It’s worth pointing out that Georgia Southern, who is 7-2, lost its season-opener 44-0 to West Virginia. (To be fair, quarterback Kevin Ellison missed that game.) This is a dangerous Eagles team, but it lacks depth and can’t come anywhere close to Georgia’s overall talent. Still… Just don’t sleep on this team, Georgia. Georgia Southern leads the nation in rushing, averaging a ridiculous 6.7 yards per carry.


No. 16 Navy at Tulsa
7 p.m., CBS Sports Network

Before next week’s showdown against Houston, with the AAC West on the line, Navy has to go on theAltX.Logo.white road and out-score a dangerous Tulsa team. The Golden Hurricane are just 5-5, trying to get to the postseason, and under former Baylor offensive coordinator Philip Montgomery, they are capable of putting up a bunch of points behind their passing game. However, Tulsa also isn’t particularly capable of stopping anyone, with the nation’s No. 116 run defense. That doesn’t bode well for a matchup against Keenan Reynolds and Navy’s option attack.


Tennessee at Missouri
7:15 p.m., ESPN2

Missouri got a nice win last week over BYU after a tumultuous week on campus followed by the unexpected announcement of coach Gary Pinkel’s impending resignation for health reasons. The Tigers, who have struggled on offense all season, are now 5-5, meaning they need to beat either the Volunteers or Arkansas to get to six wins and a bowl to try to send Pinkel out on a high note. Their defense has kept them in games all season, and their defensive front can certainly frustrate Joshua Dobbs and the Vols. It’s still just so hard to trust the Mizzou offense, as the Tigers have scored only three touchdowns in the last five games — although all three came in the last two. Tennessee has just been the better all-around team.


Late Night

California at No. 11 Stanford
10:30 p.m., ESPN

The most ridiculous college football ending of all time happened in the Nov. 20, 1982 matchup of rivals Stanford and Cal. There has never been a Cal-Stanford game since then in which The Play has not been mentioned, and that’s not going to change now:

It’s more relevant than ever this year, in a season that has featured repeated miracle finishes: Michigan State against Michigan, Georgia Tech against Florida State, Miami against Duke, Arkansas against Ole Miss. There have been numerous stunning plays late in games this season, and now Cal and Stanford meet in a late-night time slot, where the Pac-12 frequently features wild endings.

But maybe we shouldn’t get our hopes up, because the odds of Cal’s defense slowing down Christian McCaffrey are not favorable.


Colorado at Washington State
10:45 p.m., ESPN2

Wazzu’s fantastic season continues, with coach Mike Leach and quarterback Luke Falk leading the team back from a devastating loss to Portland State, to a 7-3 record overall (5-2 in the Pac-12). The Cougars are headed to their second bowl game since 2003 and already have their most wins in a season since they posted three straight 10-win seasons in 2001-03. Last week, they upset UCLA on the road on a late touchdown. This week, Falk — the nation’s leading passer — should have no problem helping Wazzu pull away against a Colorado defense that ranks 86th in yards per play allowed.

pablo

What No One Tells You About #Winning: #CollegeFootball Week 11

name of site - hunter thompson style

ATLANTA, GA - NOVEMBER 12: Head coach Frank Beamer of the Virginia Tech Hokies looks on during pregame warmups prior to facing the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Bobby Dodd Stadium on November 12, 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
1. BeamerBall Bowl Hopes Still Alive

With Frank Beamer announcing earlier this month that 2015 would be his last as Virginia Tech’s head coach, much was made of this being the long-time Hokie boss’ final Thursday night game.  In the end, the Hokies turned it into a night to remember for the departing coach.

Trailing by two touchdowns early on, VT was able to come back late in the first half, then again late in the second to secure a 23-21 win over Georgia Tech.  The win improved the Hokies to 5-5 on the season, meaning Tech needs to win one of its last two (North Carolina, at Virginia) to ensure Beamer will be going bowling one last time in his storied career and the Hokies won’t be home for the postseason for the first time in more than two decades……(continue reading)


Charlie Strong

2. Not Interested

Earlier this week, a report out of Miami stated that current Texas head coach Charlie Strong, according to those connected to The U, has an interest in the same job with the Hurricanes.  That report came nearly two weeks after initial speculation connected Strong to The U, with the coach publicly denying any interest.

Just as the script calls for in this type of coaching search, reports are now filtering out of Texas refuting the Miami reports.  From the Dallas Morning News:

A source close to the Texas program indicated Thursday that Charlie Strong is not interested in the head coaching job at Miami

But the source indicated that Strong, who strongly denied interest initially, has not changed his mind. Strong is “very happy” at Texas, the source said.

Offer more than $3m/yr and we might have a different story – it’s negotiation thru the media. (h/t John Taylor)


nationwide_college map

3. Remote Patrol

It’s Friday the 13th and there’s only 3 more weeks left of college football before all giddy-up breaks loose.  Last week was trava-sham-ockery of football in Tuscaloosa and tonight the Buffaloes get custom fitted Trojans – so let’s all grab some coca by-tha-fire and enjoy the show.

(h/t matt brown)


Early Afternoon

Georgia at Auburn
Noon, CBS

It’s the matchup of preseason top-10 teams that turned out to be disappointments, although the positive here is that both are coming off solid wins. After a tumultuous week, Georgia crushed Kentucky 27-3, while Auburn sent Texas A&M into disarray with a 26-10 win featuring Jeremy Johnson back at quarterback because of an injury to Sean White. Both teams have had messy quarterback situations. It appears that both Greyson Lambert and Bryce Ramsey — who is also punting — will play quarterback for the Bulldogs, while it’s unclear whether White or Johnson will start for the Tigers. It’s tough to tell how either of these teams is going to play in any given week, but Georgia has a chance to run the ball well with Sony Michel against Will Muschamp’s Auburn defense.


No. 3 Ohio State at Illinois
Noon, ABC

Ohio State has won the Illibuck seven times in a row, and It’s an overwhelming favorite for an eighth, unless Illinois can somehow play spoiler before the Buckeyes move on to their tough end-of-season schedule against Michigan State and Michigan. Bill Cubit has done a solid job as Illinois’ interim coach and could get the full-time gig, with the Fighting Illini needing to beat either the Buckeyes, Minnesota or Northwestern to get bowl eligible. But while beating Purdue is nice, they’ve struggled against the better teams on their schedule — including a 39-0 loss to Penn State two weeks ago and a 48-14 loss at North Carolina. With J.T. Barrett back at quarterback, Ohio State’s offense should run smoothly and keep the Buckeyes among the playoff frontrunners.


No. 11 Florida at South CarolinaAltX.Logo.white
Noon, ESPN

Florida survived an ugly 9-7 game against Vanderbilt last week to clinch the SEC East, so this game is only about staying alive in the race for a playoff bid and a New Year’s Six bowl. Fortunately for the Gators, the Gamecocks defense is much more vulnerable than Vandy’s. So while this is a road game, Florida shouldn’t have much trouble moving the ball, just as its defense should shut down a mediocre Gamecocks offense. Florida has Vernon Hargreaves to contain Pharoh Cooper, and the Gamecocks don’t have much else to put a scare into this Florida defense.


N.C. State at No. 16 Florida State
12:30 p.m., ACC Network/ESPN3

The Seminoles dropped from the playoff discussion with their loss at Clemson, and now their focus turns to at least finishing strong and perhaps staying in the New Year’s Six conversation with the Wolfpack and Chattanooga left before the tough season finale at Florida. Everett Golson will return to the starting quarterback position for the Noles over Sean Maguire, and they actually face a decent challenge this week, as the Wolfpack have been solid defensively thus far. However, N.C. State has played a lot of bad offenses — and did get torched by Clemson — and it has seen nobody like FSU running back Dalvin Cook. Throw in the season-ending injury to N.C. State tailback Matthew Dayes, and it will be tough for the Wolfpack to come away with a road win in Tallahassee.


Pittsburgh at Duke
Noon, ESPN News

North Carolina beat each team the last two weeks, meaning the Tar Heels are running away with the ACC Coastal. Both the Panthers and Blue Devils had just one loss entering the last week of October, but they’ve each lost back-to-back games and are trying to stop the bleeding. Duke’s defense, which had previously been ranked among the nation’s best, is hoping for a turnaround game after allowing 400 passing yards to UNC in one half, while despite a solid season overall under defensive ace new coach Pat Narduzzi, the Panthers rank just 73rd in yards per play allowed. Duke is the better bet at home.


Texas at West Virginia
Noon, ESPNU

Road games have not gone well for Texas: So far, the Longhorns have lost 38-3 at Notre Dame, 50-7 at TCU and 24-0 at Iowa State, for a total road score of 112-10. West Virginia actually held Texas Tech to 26 points in a win last week in Morgantown, and if it can do that, it can likely limit the Longhorns enough to secure another win at home after a rough October against a tough midseason schedule. Mediocrity in the passing game remains a concern for the Mountaineers, but that is still an even bigger concern for the Longhorns.


Maryland at No. 13 Michigan State
Noon, ESPN2

Over the past three seasons, Michigan State has fallen from third to 61st to 90th in pass defense, losing several key players in the secondary, plus defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi. Fortunately, the Spartans’ greatest weakness might not mean much at home against the Terrapins, whose main threat on offense comes from quarterback Perry Hills running — although he got nothing going against Wisconsin last week. The Spartans have to try to respond well after a devastating, controversial last-minute defeat at Nebraska ruined their undefeated season, but they can control this game by leaning on their stellar line play and Connor Cook.


Late Afternoon

No. 2 Alabama at No. 17 Mississippi State
3:30 p.m., ESPN

By no means is Alabama perfect, but last week it looked exactly like an Alabama national championship contender, with the defense completely shutting down Leonard Fournette and Derrick Henry wearing down LSU for over 200 yards rushing. The Crimson Tide’s defensive front is absurdly deep and talented, with lots of big but athletic bodies — see A’Shawn Robinson’s blocked extra point — and thus they have the capability of slowing down Dak Prescott too.

While Prescott hasn’t gotten the same attention that he had for much of last season, he’s having another terrific season as the best quarterback in the SEC. He’s completing 66.7 percent of his passes for 2,351 yards with 18 touchdowns and just one interception, and he has rushed for 418 yards and seven touchdowns. Last year, Mississippi State hung with Alabama in a 25-20 loss in Tuscaloosa, despite Prescott throwing an uncharacteristic three interceptions. This Alabama defense is better than last year’s unit, and that front will surely frustrate Prescott, as it is the toughest matchup he’s faced all season.

Mississippi State’s best hope is the Bama comes out a bit sluggish after the emotional high of last week’s win. The best team the Bulldogs have beaten is Auburn, though, and this just seems like Mississippi State will struggle to move the ball consistently against the Tide defense, and then Henry will wear the Bulldogs down to deliver Alabama another victory.



No. 1 Clemson at Syracuse
3:30 p.m., ABC/ESPN2AltX.Logo.white

Clemson has shown few signs of stumbling this season, and while it has to go on the road to the Carrier Dome a week after the emotional win over Florida State, it’s nearly impossible to see the top-ranked Tigers suffering enough of a letdown to actually lose to the Orange. Syracuse has lost six games in a row after a 3-0 start, including blowouts at the hands of Florida State and Louisville the last two weeks. It’s not even clear if Syracuse quarterback Eric Dungey will be cleared to play. Regardless, Syracuse doesn’t have the personnel to move the ball consistently against this Clemson defense, and it’s also unlikely to slow down Deshaun Watson.


No. 8 Oklahoma State at Iowa State
3:30 p.m., ESPN

Well, undefeated Oklahoma State playing in Ames in November has never gone poorly … right?

Here’s what Iowa State has going for it this time: It shut out Texas 24-0 in its last home game, and Oklahoma State might not be totally up for this one, after last week’s huge win over TCU and with home dates with Baylor and Oklahoma next. This is the one forgettable game on the Oklahoma State schedule in November. Still … Iowa State just got blown out 52-16 by Oklahoma, and the Cowboys are playing too well on both sides of the ball. Iowa State can’t stop receiver James Washington, and it can’t contain defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah. Don’t expect any repeats of 2011.


Miami at No. 23 North Carolina
3:30 p.m., ESPNU

The Tar Heels finally broke into the top 25 after their dismantling of Duke, behind over 400 passing yards from Marquise Williams in the first half alone. They’ve been playing at a high level on both sides of the ball and now rank second in offensive yards per play and 40th on defense — which is a huge improvement over last year, under new coordinator Gene Chizik. Miami has won both of its games since firing Al Golden, but one was the controversial miracle against Duke and the other was a 27-21 win over Virginia. North Carolina is the better team in nearly every facet of the game.


No. 14 Michigan at Indiana
3:30 p.m., ABC/ESPN2

Michigan’s path to the Big Ten championship isn’t actually far-fetched: The Wolverines need to win out against Indiana, Penn State and Ohio State, and they need the Buckeyes to beat Michigan State, all thanks to the Spartans’ loss to Nebraska. Indiana is known for posing upset threats, but it’s typically incapable of putting together a full 60 minutes. That will probably be the case again on Saturday. The Hoosiers defense continues to struggle, ranking 115th in yards per play allowed, while the Wolverines boast one of the best defenses in the country. Michigan should do what it does best and overpower Indiana on both sides of the ball to continue to make an unlikely conference title a possibility.


Wake Forest at No. 4 Notre DameAltX.Logo.white
3:30 p.m., NBC

Notre Dame continues to be in decent playoff shape. While its best wins, according to the committee, are Navy and Temple — the USC win is looking better too — it is fourth in the rankings after LSU’s loss. The path to the playoff seems fairly clear: Win out, including at Stanford in their Nov. 28 showdown, and hope that both Oklahoma State and Baylor lose a game. A one-loss Notre Dame — with its loss coming to Clemson — will probably get a bid over a one-loss Big 12 champion. Before the Stanford game, Notre Dame just has to take care of business against anemic Wake Forest and Boston College offenses. That shouldn’t be a problem, even with the availability of starting running back C.J. Prosise uncertain.


Washington at Arizona State
3 p.m., Pac-12 Network

Washington’s season has had a couple of surprises — the win at USC, the 49-3 win over Arizona — but it is close to where it was expected to be, fighting for bowl eligibility in a rebuilding season for Chris Petersen. The Huskies are 4-5, needing to win two of three against Arizona State, Oregon State and Washington to get to the postseason. Arizona State’s fight for six wins has not been expected. The Sun Devils opened the season ranked 15th, but at 4-5 as well, they’ll need to win two of three against Washington, Arizona and Cal. The Huskies own the much better defense, but the Sun Devils’ aggressive defensive approach may cause too many problems for Washington freshman QB Jake Browning on the road.


Kansas State at Texas Tech
3:30 p.m., Fox Sports 1

Texas Tech lost to TCU by three and scored 53 in a loss to Oklahoma State. And while Kansas State got embarrassed by Oklahoma, it has lost to Baylor, Oklahoma State and TCU by a total of 16 points during its five-game losing streak. Talk of the backloaded Big 12 schedule means that the league’s top teams have left a path of destruction over the last month, resulting in Kansas State holding a 3-5 record while Texas Tech is 5-5. Kansas State fortunately still has Iowa State and Kansas left on its schedule in its question for bowl eligibility, while six of Texas Tech’s eight Big 12 wins under Kliff Kingsbury have come against the Cyclones and Jayhawks. The season has been frustrating for both, but Texas Tech simply has more playmakers.


Prime Time

No. 12 Oklahoma at No. 6 Baylor
8 p.m., ABC

Oklahoma has mostly played great defense this season, but this will be the true test of just how far the Sooners — who rank fifth in yards per play on both sides of the ball — have come. Last year, Oklahoma was hopeless to stop the Baylor passing game at home, giving up 15 catches to Corey Coleman in a 48-14 embarrassment in Norman. This year, the improved defense goes on the road to Waco, where Baylor has not lost since Oct. 13, 2012. Baylor has dominated Oklahoma each of the last two seasons, and it has a chance to finally notch its first meaningful win of the 2015 season, before the back-to-back road trips to Oklahoma State and TCU.

It’s a huge test for freshman quarterback Jarrett Stidham, who threw for 419 yards in the narrow 31-24 win at Kansas State in his first career start. He’ll have to deal with Eric Striker and a talented Oklahoma defense, although he still has a sturdy line and receivers like Coleman — who’s in the middle of a Heisman campaign — at his disposal. What should definitely be expected is a tighter game than we’ve seen the last two seasons when these teams have met. Baker Mayfield has sparked the Sooners offense, ranking second nationally in passer rating behind injured Baylor QB Seth Russell, and Oklahoma’s defense has run into few problems.

However, the one team Oklahoma did have trouble with defensively? Tulsa, who averaged 6.6 yards per play behind former Baylor offensive coordinator Philip Montgomery. We don’t yet know where this offense is headed behind Stidham, but Baylor still has too many weapons for to falter, at least not at home, against a defense that has yet to prove that it can stop this type of offense.


Oregon at No. 7 Stanford
7:30 p.m., Fox

For a few years, Oregon-Stanford rivaled Alabama-LSU for national importance in an intra-division rivalry, but last year saw Stanford fall off, and this year has seen Oregon take a step back. But this matchup is starting to look a lot more interesting again. Stanford’s rise after its Week 1 stumble at Northwestern has been well-documented, and Oregon is starting to hit its stride again now that quarterback Vernon Adams is healthy. Last week against Cal, Oregon set a program record with 777 total yards in one game, and despite the occasional struggles, the Ducks rank 12th nationally in yards per play.

The question is still whether Oregon can stop anybody. Stanford tailback Christian McCaffrey has another opportunity to increase his Heisman profile, and there is little evidence to suggest that Oregon can slow down this offense. The Ducks may have held California to just 28 points, but the Stanford offensive line is miles ahead of Cal’s. It’s a tough game to call. Oregon is still unpredictable and unreliable in the back end on defense, but Adams’ health changes things. It’s not as if this Stanford defense is impenetrable either. Oregon can absolutely put up a fight and threaten to ruin Stanford’s playoff hopes. Still, this looks like a game in which McCaffrey can steal the show.


No. 21 Memphis at No. 24 HoustonAltX.Logo.white
7 p.m., ESPN2

Memphis’ loss to Navy prevents this from being an even bigger matchup of undefeated teams, but it’s still a great game between top-25 teams in the AAC West division who have New Year’s Six bowl hopes and two coaches, Justin Fuente and Tom Herman, destined for Power Five jobs soon. Despite the Tigers’ subpar outing last week, in which they made too many mistakes against the Midshipmen, this should be one of the weekend’s most entertaining games, featuring talented, productive quarterbacks in Memphis’ Paxton Lynch and Houston’s Greg Ward. Memphis still has a better win (Ole Miss) than Houston has had all season, although the Cougars did win at Louisville, shut out Vanderbilt 34-0 and hold off Cincinnati. Expect a back-and-forth, somewhat high-scoring game, with the edge going to Herman’s Cougars at home as they try to stay undefeated.


Minnesota at No. 5 Iowa
8 p.m., Big Ten Network

Minnesota hasn’t won under interim-turned-permanent head coach Tracy Claeys, but it came a yard short of upsetting Michigan and at least kept things close on the road at Ohio State. Now comes yet another upset opportunity amid a brutal three-game stretch for the Golden Gophers, who need to win two of their last three against undefeated Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin to go bowling. They trounced Iowa 51-14 last year, but these are much different teams: Minnesota has not found a consistent rhythm on offense and has had injury issues on defense, while Iowa has overcome some injuries to put together surprising 9-0 run. The Hawkeyes don’t do anything in particular that makes them look like one of the nation’s best teams, but they’ve done just about everything well and have avoided crippling mistakes. It’s been a tough couple weeks for Minnesota, and winning in Kinnick Stadium at night is a tall task.


Arkansas at No. 9 LSU
7:15 p.m., ESPN

The battle for the Golden Boot has moved up from Black Friday to mid-November, a change that began last year with the Razorbacks unexpected destroying the Tigers 17-0 to kick off their impressive finish to the season. They draw LSU at a good time again: LSU must respond after its frustrating loss to Alabama in which Leonard Fournette rushed for 31 yards, while the Hogs have looked better and have won three straight games — although two of them came in exhausting fashion. First, Arkansas beat Auburn in four overtimes, and then it somehow pulled off a fourth-and-25 miracle and a two-point conversion to win at Ole Miss in one overtime. This matchup will not go like last year’s shutout. Arkansas’ defense has taken a big step back, and while the Razorbacks can move the ball well, this is an opportunity for Fournette to rebound against a mediocre run defense.


BYU vs. Missouri (at Kansas City)AltX.Logo.white
7:30 p.m., SEC Network

Amid a whirlwind week on the Missouri campus, football is a mere footnote after the team returned to practice following the resignation of president Tim Wolfe on Monday. With football resumed, the team will head down the road to Arrowhead Stadium for a nonconference matchup with BYU, who has flown under the radar at 7-2. The Cougars made national headlines in September but lost back-to-back games to UCLA and Michigan and have since seen their schedule lighten considerably. Here, they face a Missouri team that is excellent on defense but has scored just one touchdown in its last four games, putting the postseason in doubt with a 4-5 record.


No. 22 Temple at South Florida
7 p.m., CBS Sports Network

Watch out for the upset. The Bulls have quietly improved this year. Willie Taggart was on the hot seat, but they are one win away from bowl eligibility — they haven’t been to the postseason since 2010 — and are coming off an impressive road win at East Carolina. Bowl eligibility will likely come because the Bulls end the season with UCF, but this is an interesting opportunity to grab some attention, with the defense playing well and the combination of tailback Marlon Mack and quarterback Quinton Flowers making plays on the ground.


Late Night

Washington State at No. 19 UCLA
10:45 p.m., ESPN

Mike Leach’s surging Cougars go on the road to face the enigmatic Bruins with a late kickoff, which means this game could easily enter some quality #Pac12AfterDark territory. The Bruins are hanging around the top 20, but they’ve also been ravaged by injuries all season — and the hits aren’t stopping. It makes for an interesting matchup, and a big opportunity for Leach and quarterback Luke Falk to make another statement. Washington State is 6-3 overall and 4-2 in the Pac-12, set for its second bowl bid since 2003. They beat Arizona and Arizona State two of the last three games and nearly upset Stanford, and Falk is averaging 415 passing yards per game with 33 touchdown passes. UCLA remains the better all-around team and is at home, but don’t be shocked if the Cougars push the Bruins to the limit, given the challenges UCLA faces on defense. It could, however, also be a good showcase for Bruins running back Paul Perkins to get going again.


No. 10 Utah at Arizona
10 p.m., Fox Sports 1

The Utes are quietly hanging around the playoff race. They still have only one loss on the road at USC, plus their 42-point win at Oregon and their win over Michigan. They’re the favorites in the Pac-12 South, and they could certainly beat Stanford in the Pac-12 title game. If they win out, they’ll have a strong playoff case. They end the season with Colorado, so the challenges are the next two weeks: in Tucson, then at home against UCLA. The Arizona challenge isn’t looking nearly as daunting, as the Wildcats have fallen apart at 5-5. Their only two conference wins are against Colorado and Oregon State, and they were humiliated by Stanford and Washington. They’ve played most of the season without linebacker Scooby Wright, and running back Nick Wilson has missed three of the last four games. The Pac-12 South title defense has not gone well, and this version of the Wildcats seems unlikely to derail Utah’s championship quest.

pablo (1)

What No One Tells You About #Winning: #CollegeFootball Week 10

name of site - hunter thompson style

Prescott throws 4 TD passes, Mississippi State tops Missouri
1. Next Up, Alabama

The streak is over.  Dak threw 4 TD’s and you think that would be enough to make the palindrome score of a game more interesting – it wasn’t – the rain was the most entertaining part of this snooze-fest.  Does anyone feel sorry for Mizzou – NO.  This is what was expected when they joined the SEC and they had a good run and might make another one, but for this year – it’s ugly.  Now after this cakewalk is done, STATE can focus on Alabama coming to town next week at their house.  That could be the Tide’s 3rd loss and we haven’t gotten to Thanksgiving yet.


baylor-kstate

2. It’ll be Ok Baylor

Going to Manhattan is never easy, it used to be, but not since Bill Snyder.  So you gotta give it to the Wildcats for upsetting expectations and actually being competitive.  Do we take more from KState showing up or more from Baylor finally playing someone who got beat by another Big12 team, 55-0?  We’ll see, but know this – Jarrett Stidham is better than Seth Russell and for Baylor fan, that oculd be exciting.   The challenge will be his composure during the stretch run, because he is only freshman.

  • Baylor’s mission on Thursday night at Kansas State wasn’t necessarily style points; it was survival. The Bears did just that in escaping with a 31-24 win.  With the toughest part of the schedule coming up — Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and TCU in a row — the Bears went on the road with their true freshman quarterback, Jarrett Stidham, making his first career start replacing the injured Seth Russell. While the No. 6 Bears were pushed to the end, they survived thanks in part to the phenomenal play by Stidham, who appears quite capable of keeping the nation’s top offense rolling, even if not all went smoothly.  Baylor’s potent offense scored just 10 points in the second half, opening the door for a Kansas State comeback effort. The Wildcats scored……(continue reading)

nationwide_college map

3. Remote Patrol

Finally.  The committee came out with their rankings and all over ESPN we had the car-wash of faux-outrage…R-E-L-A-X.  It will all workout and it starts this Saturday.  We have huge games that will shake up the top and send someone tumbling down, and the bigger outrage will be how far these teams fall.  Before we get to it, indulge me a little dig at Clemson – also known as Tigers and also call their stadium Death Valley – Listen Clemson, their is only one Death Valley and it resides in Baton Rouge, it was first and LSU has greater traditions and more titles – furthermore Clemson fan,  your tradition is, getting on a bus, touching a rock, and running down a hill – that was everyday in kindergarten for the rest of us.

(h/t matt brown)


Early Afternoon

No. 5 Notre Dame at Pittsburgh
Noon, ABC

Pitt was never as good as the record that got it into the top 25 last week, and North Carolina quickly dealt a blow to the Panthers’ ACC Coastal hopes last Thursday. Now, Pitt will try to regroup by playing playoff spoiler for the Irish, who, with a loss to No. 1 Clemson, are ranked higher than all but three of the 11 undefeated teams still remaining. The Irish survived a hard-hitting game with Temple last week, and now they go back on the road to Pennsylvania to face Pat Narduzzi’s Panthers defense, which has had a bunch of ups and downs, giving up 7.66 yards per play to the Tar Heels last week. Notre Dame should be able to get tailback C.J. Prosise back on track after he was contained by the Temple brick wall, and while another road game — this time at noon — could lead to a slow start, Notre Dame has too many weapons for Pitt to slow down.


Duke at North Carolina
Noon, ESPN2

Duke is a poorly officiated miracle play by Miami away from being undefeated in the ACC, and the result could certainly hurt in the long run. But Duke still can be in control of the ACC Coastal if its beats rival North Carolina, who has only lost to South Carolina in a sloppy opener this season. It’s a matchup of what’s been a terrific UNC offense (third in yards per play) against a terrific Duke defense (fifth in yards per play allowed), as Duke attempts to respond after the heartbreak and noise of the last week. The Blue Devils certainly poses a challenge for the Tar Heels, but Marquise Williams, Elijah Hood and this offensive line are on a roll. Duke probably can’t keep up, especially with how much the Tar Heels defense has improved under Gene Chizik.


Texas Tech at West Virginia
Noon, Fox Sports 1

All the talk in the Big 12 has been about the conference’s backloaded schedules. That doesn’t apply toAltX.Logo.white West Virginia and Texas Tech, who just spent the last several weeks giving up endless points to top teams. West Virginia has allowed 44.8 points per conference game with a 0-4 record in the Big 12. Texas Tech has allowed 50.3 points per conference game with a 2-4 record, because it has played Kansas and Iowa State. West Virginia in particular needs a rebound game, and it gets the Red Raiders at home, after Texas Tech gave up 70 points to Oklahoma State last week. The big question is whether West Virginia’s secondary can stay healthy. Once a strength of the team, the unit lost Karl Joseph for the season and has dealt with injuries to others. Texas Tech, as usual, is the type of team that can take full advantage.


Penn State at No. 21 Northwestern
Noon, ESPNU

Ohio State, Michigan State and Michigan own the Big Ten East, and Iowa owns the West, but the Nittany Lions and Wildcats are still a combined 14-4. Penn State’s offense has gotten better and better, with the combination of QB Christian Hackenberg, RB Saquon Barkley and WR Chris Godwin giving this unit a ton of big-play potential. The offensive line remains a problem, particularly against a top defense like the Wildcats have, but there’s no doubt that the Nittany Lions have made strides over the last several weeks — culminating in a dominant 39-0 win over Illinois last Saturday. Penn State has had some trouble with running quarterbacks, so Northwestern’s Clayton Thorson could pose a problem, but the Wildcats haven’t done enough to prove they can move the ball on a team with such an imposing defensive front.


Vanderbilt at No. 10 Florida
Noon, ESPN

The race is all but over, but the Gators can clinch the SEC East title by taking care of the 3-5 Commodores. By no means is it an automatic blowout win, as Vandy plays tough defense, but it also just got shut out 34-0 by Houston. Vandy could catch Florida asleep after last week’s beatdown of Georgia in a rivalry game, but while things might look a bit ugly, there’s little evidence that the Commodores can score on this Florida defense.


Kentucky at Georgia
Noon, SEC Network

At the end of September, Georgia was ranked eighth. At the beginning of November, it appears to be imploding. The Bulldogs lost 27-3 to rival Florida and haven’t scored a touchdown in either of their last two games. Last week, No. 2 QB Brice Ramsey punted, while No. 3 QB Faton Bauta started. Now Bauta took scout team safety reps this week, and either Ramsey or former starter Greyson Lambert might start on Saturday. It’s all in the hands of maligned offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, and there have also been reports of clashes between defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt and the rest of the staff. Nearly everything has been going wrong for Georgia, and while the rest of the schedule presents opportunities for wins — Kentucky, Auburn, Georgia Southern, Georgia Tech — this is a difficult team to trust right now. Kentucky has lost three straight and is going to have a tough time winning in Athens, but the Wildcats can at least make things interesting.


No. 11 Stanford at Colorado
1 p.m., Pac-12 Network

A week after escaping Washington State in the middle of the night Eastern Time, Stanford moves into the early afternoon slot — really, the morning in both Boulder and Palo Alto. We’ve seen Stanford struggle once with an early kickoff, losing 16-6 at Northwestern, and now it gets another one, although a bit closer to home. Colorado gave UCLA all it could handle last week, but it’s unlikely that the Buffaloes’ beatable run defense will be able to do much to slow down Christian McCaffrey, even if it takes a bit of time for the Cardinal to wake up.


Late Afternoon

No. 16 Florida State at No. 1 Clemson
3:30 p.m., ABC

Two years ago, undefeated Florida State and undefeated Clemson met in Death Valley, both ranked in the top 10. Florida State left with 51-14 win, vaulting Jameis Winston to the forefront of the Heisman Trophy race. Saturday will end differently.

While both the Seminoles and Tigers lost a lot from last year’s teams, Clemson has more effectively reloaded, with a defense that remains one of the best in the country, an offensive line that’s playing better than expected and the continued development of quarterback Deshaun Watson, who torched N.C. State on the road last week. This is a talented, athletic and well-coached Clemson team, and it is deserving of its No. 1 ranking in the selection committee’s first top 25.

Injuries have been an issue for Florida State, but at least star running back Dalvin Cook — who carried the offense until last week — is set to return from an ankle injury. Cook has also dealt with a hamstring injury this season, so his health is worth keeping a close eye on whenever he is on the field. His explosiveness is capable of being a game-changer, and the Seminoles likely don’t have much of a chance against Clemson without him. Florida State also has quarterback uncertainty. Everett Golson — who’s had mixed results since transferring in — missed last week’s win over Syracuse with a concussion, and while he has been cleared, Jimbo Fisher has not named a starter. In Golson’s place, Sean Maguire threw for 348 yards against the Orange, with the help of a big game by receiver Travis Rudolph.

Florida State is talented and capable of being explosive, but Clemson has easily been the better all-around team thus far. The Tigers can shut down Florida State’s passing game, and they can frustrate Cook — especially if he’s not 100 percent. Throw in the upward trajectory of Watson at quarterback, and Clemson can get payback here and continue on its path to the playoff.


No. 8 TCU at No. 14 Oklahoma State
3:30 p.m., Fox

The selection committee ranked Oklahoma State last among the eight Power Five undefeated teams, and also behind undefeated Memphis. It’s probably deserved, for now. The Cowboys have had an impressive 8-0 start. They just scored 70 points against Texas Tech, and their defense — led by Emmanuel Ogbah — is much improved from last year. Still, the Cowboys beat Texas, Kansas State and West Virginia by one score each, and they gave up 53 to Texas tech. They also beat nobody in nonconference play. They’re still in prove-it mode, and fortunately the last month of the season presents plenty of opportunities: TCU, Baylor and Oklahoma all visit Stillwater, starting with the Horned Frogs on Saturday.AltX.Logo.white

TCU has been a different team on the road, beating Minnesota by six, Texas Tech by three and Kansas State by three, and there are still questions about a thin defense — although the Frogs did beat West Virginia 40-10 last week. It’s hard to know just what to make of the Oklahoma State offense yet, but QB Mason Rudolph has been solid, with backup J.W. Walsh capable of playing a changeup role as a runner.

This is also, of course, a big test for that improved Cowboys defense. They couldn’t stop Texas Tech last week, and it’s reasonable to believe they will have a tough time slowing down TCU’s machine, led by Trevone Boykin and Josh Doctson. There is a good chance that Oklahoma State will beat at least one of the other Big 12 power in these three November home games, and TCU’s road struggles and issues on defense are a red flag, for sure. But the Horned Frogs just have too much going for them on offense right now.


Arkansas at No. 18 Ole Miss
3:30 p.m., CBS

Arkansas’ hype for this season began last November, when it surprisingly shut out LSU 17-0 and Ole Miss 30-0 in consecutive weeks. It’s been a disappointing 2015 season for the Razorbacks, but a four-overtime win over Auburn a couple weeks ago at least has them back at 4-4, within striking distance of a postseason bid. It’s hardly a given, though, as they’re going to have to pull off an upset. While Arkansas overwhelmed Ole Miss last year, don’t expect it again. This isn’t the same Razorbacks defense, Ole Miss has a healthy Laquon Treadwell playing at a high level and the Ole Miss defense is capable of containing the Hogs. Alabama-LSU is the big SEC game of the week, but Ole Miss still controls its own destiny, with a head-to-head win over Alabama and LSU coming to Oxford in a couple weeks.


No. 9 Iowa at Indiana
3:30 p.m., ESPN

Can Indiana finally close out a win? The Hoosiers started 4-0 but are now 4-4, going winless in Big Ten play. They got blown out by Penn State, but otherwise they played Michigan State close for three quarters, blew a huge lead to Rutgers in the third quarter and took Ohio State down to the wire. Indiana can score, but it just doesn’t have the depth or defense to finish off wins. So, now it gets another shot to play the role of spoiler — and bolster its own increasingly fragile bowl hopes — against undefeated Iowa, who has a clear path to the Big Ten West title with what appears to be a light November schedule. It’s certainly a dangerous spot going on the road to Bloomington after an Indiana bye, especially if Hoosiers tailback Jordan Howard is healthy again after missing time with an ankle injury. It’s still just too hard to trust Indiana to close out an upset.


Arizona State at Washington State
3:30 p.m., Fox Sports 1

After an impressive run of three straight Pac-12 wins, Washington State has to bounce back after a tough late home loss to Stanford, which was almost the biggest win of the Mike Leach era. Arizona State has to bounce back from heartbreak too, as the Sun Devils lost in three overtimes to Oregon last Thursday. Both are trying to at least seek bowl eligibility, with erratic Arizona State sitting at a disappointing 4-4, while Washington State is 5-3, one win away from just its second postseason bid since 2003. Given the state of the Sun Devils’ pass defense against Oregon last week, Wazzu might be able to notch another impressive win behind rising star quarterback Luke Falk.


Cincinnati at No. 25 Houston
3:30 p.m., ESPN2

While Cincinnati owns a win over Miami, its season hasn’t gone as hoped, as it has fallen into the AltX.Logo.whiteAAC’s second tier while Houston, Memphis and Temple are in the top 25. This is still a dangerous Bearcats team, though. Last week, as Houston shut out Vanderbilt, Cincinnati QB Gunner Kiel went 15 of 15 for 319 yards and five touchdowns to dominate hapless UCF. It’s an interesting upset opportunity for the Bearcats (who are -9 in turnover margin) on the road against the Cougars (who are +15), especially because Houston’s huge AAC West showdown with Memphis looms next week. Expect at least a scare from the Bearcats, who nearly took down Memphis too.


Rutgers at No. 17 Michigan
3:30 p.m., Big Ten Network

Michigan survived to win the Little Brown Jug with its goal-line stand at Minnesota last week, and now it returns to the friendly confines of Big House to meet Rutgers — another team Brady Hoke lost to last season. With the trip to Penn State and the home showdown with Ohio State still to come in the last two weeks, Michigan first has to keep taking care of inferior opponents to stay in the Big Ten East race. It’s Rutgers this week, then Indiana next week. In this case, there’s not much evidence that Rutgers is capable of scoring on the road against a defense like this. Michigan quarterback Jake Rudock is expected to play after missing the end of the Minnesota game, and the Wolverines should roll at home.


South Carolina at Tennessee
4 p.m., SEC Network

Big-game failures — beyond the Georgia win — have prevented Tennessee from taking the step forward it wanted, but even at 4-4, it’s well-positioned for a solid closing run with as many as nine wins still possible, including the bowl game. The Vols had a tough early schedule, but they finish with the Gamecocks, North Texas, Missouri and Vanderbilt. They’ll be clear favorites in all four games. They responded to the Alabama loss by blowing out Kentucky on the road last week, and this week may look similar, given South Carolina’s inability to slow down anyone. Kyler Murray ran all over the Gamecocks last week, and Joshua Dobbs will try to do the same.


Prime Time

No. 2 LSU at No. 4 Alabama
8 p.m., CBS

LSU-Alabama has been one of the best rivalries in football for years now, and it’s still not slowing down. Alabama is the best recruiting team in the country, and LSU is not far behind. The two teams share plenty of history — including the fact that Nick Saban has led both to national titles — and love to play with similar physical styles, even if Alabama has occasionally embraced tempo and spread concepts. It probably won’t on Saturday.

There will be two deep, hard-hitting defenses on the field in Tuscaloosa on Saturday night, and there will be two massive and talented running backs in LSU’s Leonard Fournette, the Heisman frontrunner, and Alabama’s Derrick Henry. College football does not get much better.

Make no mistake, this isn’t going to be a Baylor-TCU type of shootout. It will likely be played at a methodical pace, with a heavy emphasis on defense. This rivalry is always one of the most physical and exhausting games of the season, with two teams desperate to beat each other and secure their position in the SEC title and College Football Playoff races.

The matchup of Fournette vs. the loaded Alabama defensive front in particular is the best of the season. Nobody can lock up a Heisman on Nov. 7, but it’s certainly a big enough stage, and a tough enough matchup, for Fournette to make a big statement. While it is still hard to ever bet against Alabama, LSU has looked like a slightly more complete team this year. Alabama may be better in the defensive front seven, but LSU has a better offensive line, Fournette gets a slight edge over Henry and Brandon Harris has been more efficient at quarterback than Jacob Coker. Really, the game is a toss-up that should go down to the wire, so we’ll go with the best player in college football.


Minnesota at No. 3 Ohio State
8 p.m., ABC

Last Saturday, Minnesota on a Michigan goal-line stand in which the Golden Gophers poorly managed the clock in their first game under interim coach Tracy Claeys. Ohio State was off, but it got bad news as well, when quarterback J.T. Barrett — after finally making his first start of the season — was suspended for one game after an OVI charge. That means the offense cycles back to Cardale Jones for now, and while there have certainly been struggles for the Buckeyes, getting to turn to Jones when necessary is obviously a nice backup plan. After all, he’s never lost as a starter. He’s not going to lose here, either, with Minnesota going on the road for a prime-time game in a tough environment a week after a physical heartbreaker.


No. 7 Michigan State at Nebraska
7 p.m., ESPN

Nebraska finally got some good news, as quarterback Tommy Armstrong will return to the lineup after missing the dreadful loss to Purdue. Without Armstrong, Nebraska lost five turnovers to the Boilermakers and lost 55-AltX.Logo.white45, dropping to 3-6 to make bowl hopes all but impossible in Mike Riley’s first season. Less than a year after firing Bo Pelini, who went 9-4 every year, athletic director Shawn Eichorst already had to release a vote of confidence in Pelini’s successor. Maybe Nebraska can turn things around on Saturday. Five of its six losses have been by five points or less, and Michigan State has a reputation for being on the other side of close games, with a 4-0 record in games decided by a touchdown or less. But while Michigan State’s back seven is beatable, Nebraska’s even more beatable, giving up 315 passing yards per game. While the game is in Lincoln, Connor Cook is more likely to take advantage of defensive problems than Armstrong.


Navy at No. 13 Memphis
7 p.m., ESPN2

Navy is the overlooked team in an exciting AAC race. While Memphis, Houston and Temple have gotten the attention, the Midshipmen are quietly 6-1, their only loss coming to Notre Dame. Last week, senior QB Keenan Reynolds tied Montee Ball for the career FBS rushing touchdown record, and while Memphis is undefeated, its defense is hardly a shut-down unit. Reynolds will get his chances. Still, this is a tough matchup on the road for Navy, as Memphis QB Paxton Lynch continues to play lights-out football. In the first of several big November games in the AAC race, expect Lynch and Memphis to maintain that unbeaten record.


Auburn at No. 19 Texas A&M
7:30 p.m., SEC Network

Last year taught us to never get too excited about a young Texas A&M quarterback’s performance against a bad South Carolina defense. Texas A&M is cycling through QBs since losing Johnny Manziel, first with Kenny Hill’s quick rise and fall, then with touted recruit Kyle Allen looking like the future and now with touted true freshman Kyler Murray taking over. After Allen struggled against Alabama and Ole Miss, Murray completed 20 of 28 passes for 223 yards and a touchdown and ran 20 times for 156 yards and a touchdown against the Gamecocks. By no means are all of Texas A&M’s problems solved, but Auburn provides another beatable defense for Murray to get comfortable and make some plays.


No. 12 Utah at Washington
7:30 p.m., FoxAltX.Logo.white

Washington has quietly built the Pac-12’s best defense, despite losing Hau’oli Kikaha, Shaq Thompson, Danny Shelton and Marcus Peters. While the Huskies are still building their offense, the defense has become a force. Last week, they shut down Arizona in a 49-3 blowout win, and they lead the Pac-12 in points allowed and yards per play allowed. Utah’s defense has gotten more attention, but Washington has actually been better on that side of the ball. This marks the second time that Utah has been a road underdog to an unranked, .500 team, joining the USC game. Vegas might be on to something.


Iowa State at No. 15 Oklahoma
7 p.m., ESPNU

This should be a laugher, but transitive property mandates that we point out that Iowa State just won 24-0 against Texas, who inexplicably beat Oklahoma. The Sooners are the only team ranked in the top 10 nationally in yards per play on both offense and defense, but they still found a way to lose to the Longhorns. Iowa State’s only actual hope here is that Oklahoma gets caught looking ahead to its final three games: Baylor, TCU and Oklahoma State. Don’t let the Texas game fool you, though, because this Oklahoma team is capable of playing at a really high level.


Late Night

California at Oregon
10:30 p.m., ESPN2

Oregon is still flawed, but it is a different team with a healthy Vernon Adams at quarterback, as shown by last Thursday’s wild three-overtime win at Arizona State. These are, of course, two very beatable defenses, meaning there should be plenty of chances for Cal to score behind quarterback Jared Goff, and for Oregon to score behind Adams and tailback Royce Freeman. The Ducks are all over the map right now, but they do have more weapons and a better offensive line than the Golden Bears, which can make the difference at home.


Arizona at USC
10:30 p.m., ESPN

USC is showing signs of life under interim coach Clay Helton, beating Utah and California the last two weeks to stay alive in the Pac-12 South. The Trojans host the defending division champion Wildcats, who have fallen apart in recent weeks, losing at home to Washington State and 49-3 at Washington. Arizona is 5-3, but its wins have come against UTSA, Nevada, Northern Arizona and the two worst teams in the Pac-12, Colorado and Oregon State. USC has some injury issues up front — along with star receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster — but it is getting enough out of its defense and running game to win a third straight game.

pablo (1)

What You Need To Know For Wednesday 11-4-15

name of site - hunter thompson style
playoff_nov3

1. Save The Outrage Francis:

Important disclaimer: The rankings we are about to talk about do not matter much, in terms of the actual College Football Playoff. Analyzing the selection committee’s first rankings, released on Tuesday, requires putting them into the proper Nov. 3 perspective.

Clemson, LSU, Ohio State and Alabama would be in the playoff if it started now, but, as always, we have to emphasize the obvious amid the outrage: The playoff does not start now, nor does it start next week or the week after. A lot is still left to be decided. In fact, the first rankings were outdated after four hours, as undefeated No. 24 Toledo lost to Northern Illinois 32-27 on Tuesday night.

The College Football Playoff could collectively reduce the stress levels of college football fans across America if it chose to not publicly release a top 25 until……(continue reading)

SOURCE: FIRST CFB PLAYOFF RANKINGS RELEASED – Matt Brown


GettyImages-495262302

2. This Is Sparta Xerxes, Not Intramurals:

In 2013, Colin Kaepernick dropped back to pass on fourth and goal from the 5-yard line in the Super Bowl, immediately felt pressure up the middle and lofted a poor pass to Michael Crabtree, who couldn’t haul it in. The San Francisco 49ers lost to the Baltimore Ravens, 34-31, but with Kaepernick and head coach Jim Harbaugh in place, the future looked bright.

On Monday — the day before Kaepernick’s 28th birthday — the 49ers informed Kaepernick he would be replaced by Blaine Gabbert for the team’s Week 9 game against the Atlanta Falcons.

How did it get to this? How did a quarterback……(continue reading)

SOURCE: THE FALL OF COLIN KAEPERNICK – Andrew Garda


Whisenhunt

3. Mariota the Coach-Killa?

The Titans have fired head coach Ken Whisenhunt after the team was destroyed by the Texans on Sunday, 20-6, falling to 1-6 on the season. It’s not a completely shocking move, considering Whisenhunt’s overall record of 3-20 over two years.

The surprising part of this is that Tennessee decided to pull the trigger in the middle of Marcus Mariota’s rookie season. While Mike Mularky was promoted to interim head coach, what does the change mean for the second pick in the 2015 NFL draft?

The track record for young quarterbacks who have offensive coordinator and head coach changes is fraught with failure. Alex Smith went through……(continue reading)

SOURCE: WHISENHUNT’S GONE, SO WHAT NOW? – Andrew Garda


gronkonomics

4. Lesson 1 – Always Buy Rubbers in Bulk:

His wild and party-loving persona may not give you the impression that Rob Gronkowski is disciplined with his money, but Gronk would argue otherwise. The Patriots tight end claimed in a recent published memoir — which he totally wrote all by himself — that he has yet to touch one dime of his signing bonus or NFL contract money and that everything he has been spending has come from endorsements. That’s remarkably smart money management. Just let the annual party ships pay for everything.

So perhaps it shouldn’t come as a huge surprise that Gronk has paired with Capital One to dispense “common-sense advice for money management” in a promotion called GRONKonomics……(continue reading)

SOURCE: PRESENTING GRONKONOMICS – Michael Tunison


GettyImages-495362184

5. Same As It Ever Was:

The baseball postseason is less than one-sixth the length of the regular season, but sometimes it feels twice as long. One month passes in the regular season and you barely notice; one month in the playoffs is a lifetime. Remember when the National League Central was all anyone could talk about? Or when the Blue Jays were an unstoppable juggernaut? Or when all that mattered was the Cubs?

The postseason tells us so much — about the game, the players, the teams and how we react to all of them. Here’s a look at 10 major takeaways from the 2015 baseball postseason: What do we know now that we didn’t one month ago? We were so young then. We had so much to learn……(continue reading)

SOURCE: 10 LESSONS FROM THE MLB POSTSEASON – Will Leitch

Weekend Update: #CollegeFootball Edition

name of site - hunter thompson style

JACKSONVILLE, Fla.—The rooms, built for various Jacksonville Jaguars to meet on NFL game days, stand about 50 feet apart. In each room, a man stood Saturday in front of a backdrop that matched his clothing. In each, cameras focused their unblinking eyes on the man in front of the backdrop. In one room, the man in front of the backdrop had a good answer to every question. In the other, the man in front of the backdrop seemed to have no answers at all.

“I don’t expect to lose, and I think we should never come into an event thinking we are going to come in second,” Florida coach Jim McElwain said after his team’s 27–3 win over Georgia all but wrapped up the SEC East title. McElwain had been asked if, entering this season, he’d expected the Gators to have a shot at reaching the SEC title game. He swore he had, but more as a matter of principle than a concrete belief that Florida would achieve any particular record in league play. “One thing you learn real quick in this business,” McElwain said, “is that there are no participation ribbons.”……(continue reading)

Source: The Mark Richt question: Is it time for Georgia to find a new coach?

Projected College Football Playoff

1. LSU (8–0)

The Tigers were on bye this week, but we’ll find out a lot more about them when they face Alabama in Tuscaloosa on Saturday. Before that, we’ll find out what the College Football Playoff selection committee thinks about the Tigers and everyone else. The first rankings come out Tuesday, and I haven’t the slightest clue if the committee’s top four will resemble this one.

2. Clemson (8–0)

NC State kept things close until the middle of the third quarter in what felt like a trap game for Clemson—decent opponent, tough road atmosphere, a week before Florida State comes to Death Valley—but Tigers sophomore quarterback Deshaun Watson poured it on in the second half of a 56–41 win. Watson finished with 383 passing yards with five passing touchdowns and 54 rushing yards with one rushing score. Next up for the Tigers is the unofficial ACC Atlantic Division championship against the Seminoles.

3. Baylor (7–0)

The Bears didn’t play this week, but we’ll get a look at how the offense works with freshman quarterback Jarrett Stidham at the helm when Baylor visits Kansas State on Thursday night.

4. Ohio State (7–0)

Just when it seemed the Buckeyes had their quarterback rotation figured out, the situation gets muddled again. Starter J.T. Barrett’s OVI (operating a vehicle while intoxicated) charge will keep him out of the game against a Minnesota team that pushed Michigan to the brink in Week 9. Once again, the Buckeyes are down to Cardale Jones. That worked out quite well the last time it happened, but the bigger question is what happens when Barrett comes off suspension.

A random ranking

I’m crowdsourcing topics once again, and this week’s is a twist on the one suggested by @JoshuaJGrubbs.

@Andy_Staples tv theme songs

— Swerve (@joshuajgrubbs) 1446351529.0

He wants TV theme songs, but I’ve already done an overall list. So, let’s narrow it to 1980s sitcom theme songs. These are judged on musical composition, scene selection, the actors’ excellence in turning to the camera as their names are displayed on screen and my inability to forget the words no matter how hard I try to replace them with more useful knowledge. As always, all decisions are final. (We’re not including The Wonder Years because I already included the Joe Cocker version of “With a Little Help From My Friends” in my ranking of greatest cover songs.)

……(continue reading)

pablo (10)

Getting Smart With: The Best DiRT – 10-28-15

name of site - hunter thompson style

I asked for weird baseball, and Game 1 of the World Series delivered. On Tuesday night, the Kansas City Royals and New York Mets played an epic marathon that ended in a Royals victory after 14 inni…

Source: Game 1 Of The World Series Was 14 Innings Of Weird | FiveThirtyEi


 

Right as Joe Buck was in the middle of reading a promo for a new show on Fox, the network’s World Series broadcast cut out Tuesday night, depriving audiences at home of a complete description of The Grinder.

Source: Relive Fox’s World Series Broadcast As Everything Went To Hell


It is still fun to watch the Warriors play basketball, plus three other things we learned on the NBA’s opening night.

Source: NBA scores 2015: Stephen Curry rips off 40 points on opening night and 3 other things we learned – SBNation.com


The 76ers are paying $26 million in dead salary just to hit the NBA’s salary floor. By doing so, they don’t have to pay the difference to players on the team.

Source: Philadelphia 76ers are paying $26 million in dead salary to hit salary floor – Business Insider


DeAngelo Williams and William Gay received fines for not raising cancer and domestic violence awareness in the league-mandated ways.

Source: The NFL is fining players for raising awareness about breast cancer and domestic violence – SBNation.com


About $4 million per year is donated to help former NFL players with medical expenses and financial hardship.

Source: Where does the money from NFL fines go? – SBNation.com


Minnesota coach Jerry Kill, who has dealt with the effects of epilepsy since 2005, has retired, effective immediately. Defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys will take over as interim coach.

Source: Jerry Kill retires as Minnesota Golden Gophers football coach


The East and West might appear to each have a veritable division championship, but remember when the Rebels beat Alabama? That still comes into play.

Source: Florida-UGA should decide the SEC East. The West has LSU-Bama, but don’t forget Ole Miss – SBNation.com


Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin were the perfect pair to bring the NHL to new levels of popularity, but the rivalry between the two greatest players of their generation dissolved over time.

Source: 10 years of Crosby and Ovechkin: Bad bounces derailed the rivalry | NHL | Sporting News


The prospects for the more than 300 employees laid off are bleak in a sports media industry riven by cutbacks, ageism and shrinking cable TV audiences.

Source: Soulful to soulless: Former ESPN employees blame overspending, Disney for layoffs


 

Source: Fantasy sports group aims to stem regulation by fixing self

pablo (10)

 

%d bloggers like this: