Potential Jalen Hurts Transfer Fits Include Maryland, Oklahoma, UCLA

Potential Jalen Hurts Transfer Fits Include Maryland, Oklahoma, UCLA

Quarterback transfers are the new norm in college football. Loyalty certainly isn’t on the same level it was in decades past, but many would argue there are good reasons for some of these players to transfer. Take the Ohio State quarterback situation: Tate Martell was with the Buckeyes for two years, only to have 2018’s top recruit, former Georgia quarterback Justin Fields, transfer to the school. Martell could have stayed and competed (and Fields might not even be granted eligibility in 2019), but he’s transferring to Miami to ensure he’s not buried on the depth chart his entire college career.

 

Then there’s the Jalen Hurts situation. The former SEC Offensive Player of the Year for Alabama stayed with the school last season despite Tua Tagovailoa being pretty much locked in as the starter after his national title game heroics. Hurts was truly an exceptional, exemplary teammate all season, and he came up big when his number was called in the SEC Championship victory over Georgia. He’ll never be forgotten in Crimson Tide lore, and now no one can blame him for going to another school to be a starter for his final college season as a graduate transfer. Many programs would love to add Hurts at quarterback, but these are the five to keep an eye on as he makes his decision.

 

Maryland

There’s been a lot of smoke surrounding Hurts transferring to Maryland, and the Terps are currently the betting favorites to land the former Alabama star. Maryland’s new head coach is Mike Locksley, who was the co-offensive coordinator for Alabama in 2017 before taking over the full OC duties in 2018, makes it easy to connect the dots for a transfer. Locksley is someone Hurts is familiar with, and that familiarity will make a transition into a new program and an offense with new players easier and more comfortable. Hurts probably wants to win, though, and Maryland might not be ready to compete in the Big Ten even in a potential down year for the conference.

 

Oklahoma

He might not be guaranteed the starting job for the Sooners, but if Hurts wants to go somewhere that a national championship is realistically within reach, Norman is probably the place to go. The last two Heisman Trophy winners have come in Lincoln Riley’s offense, and Hurts has the dual-threat ability—along with improvement as a passer as displayed during his final season at Alabama—to run the explosive attack at a high level. Baker Mayfield was the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft when he came out, and Kyler Murray looks like he’ll be a first-rounder, too, so Oklahoma would also be a good spot for his professional future.

 

Miami

Again, Tate Martell isn’t eligible to play until 2020 because he’s transferring as an undergraduate, so this would be great for the Hurricanes if they could get Jalen Hurts for 2019 before potentially turning things over to Martell the next season. Hurts already took a visit to the Hurricanes (and he follows coach Manny Diaz on Twitter), so there looks to be definite interest. Also, Miami offensive coordinator Dan Enos was Hurts’ quarterbacks coach with Alabama in 2018. This would hurt the development of redshirt freshman Jarren Williams, who apparently considered transferring but opted not to, but these quarterback situations can turn into musical chairs.

 

Auburn

As stated earlier, Hurts will never be forgotten in Crimson Tide lore, but that would take a turn if he transferred to their bitter rival. Considering the faithfulness Hurts showed to Alabama, it doesn’t seem likely he chooses Auburn for his last college season. But, if underneath, he was bothered enough by losing his job with the Crimson Tide, a transfer to the Tigers and a crack at his former team in the Iron Bowl would make for an interesting storyline.

 

UCLA

The Bruins are an under-the-radar place for Hurts, and they should receive strong consideration. Chip Kelly is going to get UCLA turned around at some point, and Hurts could accelerate that process as the trigger-man of a potent offense. UCLA has some dynamic players to work with, including running back Joshua Kelley, who is returning for his senior season after rushing for 1,243 yards in 11 games as a junior. Hurts and Kelley would form one of the better combos in the nation, while Kelly’s time in the NFL—in his first year back in college, he slowed down the offense a bit and did some things pro teams still want to see, like playing more under-center—would help Hurts if he continues his football career at the next level.

Early 2019 College Football Power Rankings

Early 2019 College Football Power Rankings

Clemson routed Alabama in the CFB Playoff National Championship to win their second title in three seasons; but as Dabo Swinney said last night after the victory, there’s a team meeting Friday, and the Tigers will be ready to go for 2019. So it’s not too early to take a look at power rankings for next season, which starts with the reigning champions.

 

1. Clemson

Anyone that watched Trevor Lawrence and that extraordinary talent around him (including fellow true freshman Justyn Ross) play last night knows Clemson is going to be tough to beat. The Tigers lose senior leadership in a class that went 55-4 with four conference titles and two national titles, but the team still might be even stronger in 2019.

 

2. Alabama

The talk of last night’s loss being a “knock” or “stain” on Nick Saban’s legacy is an absolute joke and a waste of breath. Saban will have the Crimson Tide ready to go as usual next season, and they have plenty of talent on both sides of the ball to get right back in the Playoff and in the title game with Tua Tagovailoa leading the way. If they meet Clemson again, the script will be flipped, with Alabama looking for a little redemption after last night.

 

3. Georgia

Clearly, it looked like Georgia was not as energized as they could’ve been to play Texas in the Sugar Bowl, and it led to them falling behind in their seven-point loss a week ago. The Dawgs could be a force similar to Clemson and Alabama in 2019, as this season’s team had 68% freshman and sophomores, so next season will be a more experienced roster. Star cornerback Deandre Baker is among those Georgia is losing to the NFL, but they have the significantly-underrated Jake Fromm at quarterback and a strong culture.

 

4. Texas

The Sugar Bowl victory over Georgia showed the promise Texas has entering Tom Herman’s third season at the head of the program. Dual-threat quarterback Sam Ehlinger looks poised to become a star in 2019, and he’ll likely be one of the top Heisman Trophy candidates for the potential Big 12 favorite. Defensive end Malcolm Roach already announced he’s returning for his senior season, and it’d help to get wide receiver Lil’Jordan Humphrey back as the Longhorns gear up for a potential title run.

 

5. LSU

It’ll be interesting to see how UCF is perceived after losing a game, but LSU ending a team’s 25-game winning streak should not be discounted. Former Ohio State transfer Joe Burrow arguably played his best game in the Fiesta Bowl against the Knights, and he should be more comfortable quarterbacking the Tigers for a second season. The Tigers will have a big early test in a potential top-five showdown with Texas on September 7.

 

6. Michigan

He could’ve left for the NFL in a weaker quarterback draft class than the stacked 2019 group, but Shea Patterson returned to Michigan as the Wolverines attempt to finally win the Big Ten and get to the Playoff under Jim Harbaugh. As is the case with Burrow at LSU, Patterson should be in more control his second season leading Michigan.

 

7. Ohio State

The Buckeyes could certainly be higher than No. 7 in these early college football power rankings, but there’s some uncertainty with head coach Urban Meyer and quarterback Dwayne Haskins leaving. New head coach Ryan Day should do a great job with Ohio State, but Meyer is one of the greatest college coaches in history—his loss is big. Meanwhile, the quarterback situation is intriguing. Former five-star recruit Tate Martell has had a couple of years of watching the offense from the sideline, while top recruit and Georgia transfer Justin Fields is pushing to get immediate eligibility in 2019. The quarterback competition could be among the biggest storylines leading up to next season.

 

8. Florida

Dan Mullen had an outstanding first season as the head coach of the Gators, and the future is bright in Gainesville. Linebacker Vosean Joseph is among the players Florida will lose for 2019, but there’s a ton of speed and talent on both sides of the ball to make a push in the SEC. The consistency of quarterback Feleipe Franks will be key for the Gators.

 

9. Oklahoma

If Kyler Murray happens to surprise everyone and return to Norman for one final college season in a commitment to football, the Sooners would probably be in the top five and the Big 12 favorites. However, there’s some uncertainty with the quarterback if Murray leaves for the MLB or NFL—though Lincoln Riley makes things easy for his signal-callers, and there are fantastic weapons on the outside, including receiver CeeDee Lamb, which also helps the next man up. The defense must improve if the Sooners are going to knock off Clemson or Alabama.

 

10. Texas A&M

Jimbo Fisher had his offense cooking toward the end of the season, with point totals of 38, 41, 74 (in the historic overtime win over LSU), and 52 to end the season on a four-game winning streak and a Gator Bowl win against NC State. The Aggies played the eventual champion Tigers to the wire in a near comeback victory back in September, and they’re obvious sneaky title contenders for 2019. Quarterback Kellen Mond has great potential in his second season under Fisher.

2018-2019 CFB Playoff National Championship Game: Preview And Prediction

2018-2019 CFB Playoff National Championship Game: Preview And Prediction

College football season ends tonight, but we should get a great game to end the season as Clemson looks to even things up against Alabama in their fourth consecutive Playoff matchup.

 

CFB Playoff National Championship Game

No. 2 Clemson vs. No. 1 Alabama

Monday, January 7 | 8:00 PM ET | ESPN

 

Lines

Spread: ALA -5.5

O/U: 58.5

 

After months of great college football action every weekend, there’s no question the top two teams will be on the field tonight for the College Football Playoff National Championship Game. Alabama and Clemson are the only two remaining undefeated teams in the nation ahead of their fourth consecutive matchup in the College Football Playoff, and these are arguably the two best teams the programs have had during the span. The Crimson Tide don’t have a Heisman Trophy running back like Mark Ingram or Derrick Henry, and the Tigers don’t have experienced upperclassman quarterback like Deshaun Watson when they won the title a couple seasons ago, but the offenses are as good as they’ve ever been.

 

Alabama

47.7 points per game (second in the nation)

527.6 yards per game (fourth in the nation)

7.89 yards per play (second in the nation)

 

Clemson

44.3 points per game (fourth in the nation)

530.4 yards per game (third in the nation)

7.33 yards per play (third in the nation)

 

Both offenses are simply stacked with talent and strong play at running back, wide receiver, and offensive line, but the two young quarterbacks—true sophomore Tua Tagovailoa for Alabama and true freshman Trevor Lawrence for Clemson—are exceptional players that will likely be top-two picks in the NFL draft whenever they leave school. Both players make smart decisions and give their weapons opportunities to make plays, which happens more often than not with super-accurate passes—on back-shoulders, precise deep balls, and dimes to all areas of the field—to NFL-caliber talent on the outside. The presence of former SEC Offensive Player of the Year Jalen Hurts should not be forgotten, and Alabama might have some tricks up their sleeve they were saving for this game.

 

The running game for both sides will be key to keep the offenses ahead of the chains to avoid long third-down situations against elite defenses on the other side. For the Tide, Damien Harris returned for his senior season to become a better leader and attempt to win another title; he’s a trusted runner and will likely be one of the top running backs selected in the 2019 draft, but Najee Harris, Joshua Jacobs, and Brian Robinson Jr. all get work—particularly Harris and Jacobs—behind the older Harris and can dominate. For the Tigers, Travis Etienne is one of the most underrated players in the country as someone with track-star speed that bulked up a bit from his freshman season last year and put up 1,573 yards and 22 touchdowns on 190 carries through 14 games. Etienne can take it to the house in an instant if he gets a crease; behind him are Tavien Feaster, Adam Choice, and Lyn-J Dixon. Feaster, who could be playing his last game for Clemson if he transfers, is a strong compliment to Etienne, while Choice and Dixon both average over 7.5 yards per carry.

 

Defensively, Clemson (first in scoring defense at 12.9 points per game compared to Alabama being fifth in scoring defense at 16.2 points per game) has been more dominant this season against a weaker schedule—they didn’t have to play Georgia or Oklahoma—but both teams might struggle to make stops tonight if the offenses are clicking. The Tigers not having Dexter Lawrence didn’t hurt them much against Notre Dame, but they’ll need all the help they can get against Alabama, so it’s a loss that should not be discounted The game might come down to a turnover or a non-offensive touchdown, and I usually like Alabama to win there. Also, I think the Crimson Tide corners will do a relatively good job against high-point and back-shoulder passes to the big-play receivers of the Tigers, but it could be a long night for them if not. And senior receiver and former walk-on Hunter Renfrow, who caught the game-winner for the Tigers in the 2016-2017 CFB Playoff National Championship, must be mentioned as a potential difference-maker if Clemson is going to win their second title in three seasons.

 

Both teams are among the most well-coached in the country under Nick Saban and Dabo Swinney, and I think this is a total toss-up unlike the Semifinal matchups, but Alabama is my pick—Trevor Lawrence is awesome, but Alabama has a quarterback that’s been in this situation before.

 

Winner: Alabama

2018-2019 CFB Playoff And New Year’s Six Bowl Previews And Predictions

2018-2019 CFB Playoff And New Year’s Six Bowl Previews And Predictions

Tomorrow is December 29, but the New Year’s Six Bowl games begin with the Peach Bowl, Cotton Bowl, and Orange Bowl, with the latter two working as College Football Playoff Semifinals this year. There’s a lot of other action aside from the New Year’s Six—including the Citrus Bowl between No. 14 Kentucky and No. 12 Penn State on Tuesday—but hopefully these games meet expectations.

 

Peach Bowl

No. 10 Florida vs. No. 7 Michigan

Saturday, December 29 | 12:00 PM ET | ESPN

 

Despite playing in different conference, Florida-Michigan has become a bit of a rivalry the last few years. The Peach Bowl marks the third matchup between the two schools since 2016, when the two programs met in the Citrus Bowl after the 2015 season. They then met in the season opener of the 2017 season. The Wolverines took both games rather handily, as the Gators couldn’t get much going offensively against an elite unit. But Dan Mullen is now the head coach at Florida, and his offense has shown it can put big point totals on the board when it’s clicking. Mullen was 5-2 in bowl games at Mississippi State, while Jim Harbaugh is 2-3 in bowl games in his career including 1-2 at Michigan. There’s some concern for Michigan after they were blown out in their last game against Ohio State, killing their Playoff chances, along with a few key players not playing (including potential top-five NFL draft pick defensive lineman Rashan Gary); but they have quarterback Shea Patterson set to return, which could set some good vibes as they look to get a bowl win heading into 2019.

Winner: Michigan

 

Cotton Bowl (CFB Playoff)

No. 3 Notre Dame vs. No. 2 Clemson

Saturday, December 29 | 4:00 PM ET | ESPN

 

A big storyline heading into tomorrow afternoon’s Cotton Bowl between Notre Dame is Clemson is the suspensions of three Tigers players—defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence, offensive lineman Zach Giella, and tight end Braden Galloway. As a key starter and potential high pick in the NFL draft, Lawrence is a massive loss for Clemson, but thankfully the team might have the best and deepest defensive line in college football for a unit that leads the nation in yards allowed per play (4.08), is second in scoring defense (13.7), and leads in sacks among Power Five schools (46). Led by true freshman sensation Trevor Lawrence at quarterback, Clemson is also fifth in scoring offense (45.4), and on paper the team is clearly more talented than Notre Dame. Honestly, I didn’t think the Fighting Irish should have been in the Playoff (especially over Georgia), so the offensive line and running back Dexter Williams must be able to run the football and keep the game close with quarterback Ian Book coming through with clutch plays and timely throws to keep drives going—which he’s done this season. Anything can happen, but I don’t think the Cotton Bowl will be very close, which could lead to people questioning the Playoff Committee’s decisions.

Winner: Clemson

 

Orange Bowl (CFB Playoff)

No. 4 Oklahoma vs. No. 1 Alabama

Saturday, December 29 | 8:00 PM ET | ESPN

 

At first, I was thinking Alabama might just blowout Oklahoma, and Vegas seems to think the same with the Crimson Tide coming in as heavier favorites than Clemson in the Cotton Bowl, but I’m starting to believe the Sooners have a decent chance of pulling off the upset—at least a better chance than the Fighting Irish in the first Semifinal. The quarterback matchup between Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray and runner-up Tua Tagovailoa is being billed as one of the best head-to-heads of all-time, but Jalen Hurts shouldn’t be counted out of making a huge impact, especially after he was the hero in the SEC Championship Game; and also, Tagovailoa might not be 100% for tomorrow night. Star defensive lineman Quinnen Williams was seemingly set to say he doesn’t think Murray is that good in an unintentionally-hilarious press conference, which was interesting, as it could indicate Alabama (or at least just Williams) is confident they’ll be able to contain the dual-threat playmaker. Murray having top receiver Marquise “Hollywood” Brown will certainly help, and he’s expected to play after injuring his foot in the Big 12 title game. Everyone talks about the Sooners offense being amazing, but the Crimson Tide might be just as good if not better—and there’s no debate the SEC champions boast a far superior defense. I think a special-teams play or non-offensive touchdown in favor of Alabama could be a difference if the Orange Bowl is close.

Winner: Alabama

 

Fiesta Bowl

No. 11 LSU vs. No. 8 UCF

Tuesday, January 1 | 1:00 PM ET | ESPN

 

This year’s Fiesta Bowl is a highly-anticipated matchup as UCF looks to extend its nation-best 25-game-win streak with a win over an SEC school in a New Year’s Six Bowl for the second consecutive year. LSU is favored in the game, but they might not be happy with a lower ranking (No. 11) than UCF (No. 8) and could use that as motivation. The Tigers will be without big defensive lineman Ed Alexander and top cornerback Greedy Williams, both of whom are skipping the bowl game ahead of the 2019 NFL Draft, but the defense will have star linebacker Devin White, a potential top-ten pick who opted to play. LSU will look to stop a fast-paced UCF offense led by backup quarterback Darriel Mack Jr., who had six total touchdowns in his first career start in the AAC Championship Game, but the more important matchup might be LSU’s offense against UCF’s underrated defense. Joe Burrows, who has played better than his numbers indicate, should lead a balanced attack that helps pull off a tough win and finally end the Knight’s streak.

Winner: LSU

 

Rose Bowl

No. 9 Washington vs. No. 6 Ohio State

Tuesday, January 1 | 5:00 PM ET | ESPN

 

The Rose Bowl might be my favorite bowl to watch each year, and this is a solid, classic matchup between the Pac-12 champion (Washington) and the Big Ten champion (Ohio State) after the Buckeyes were left out of the College Football Playoff. Urban Meyer has had one of the best coaching careers of all-time, and he’s looking to cap it with a win in his first Rose Bowl, which would be a fitting end that could probably only be topped by another national title. Meanwhile, the Huskies are in their first Rose Bowl since 2000, led by a senior quarterback (Jake Browning) and a senior running back (Myles Gaskin) that have accomplished a lot as four-year starters for the program. Both Browning and Gaskin will be done their playing careers for Washington after the game, and the same could be the case for Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year Dwayne Haskins if he makes the jump to the NFL as the potential No. 1 quarterback available. Washington has a defense (No. 5 in points allowed) that might be able to at least contain Ohio State’s offensive attack, but it won’t be easy—that’ll likely be the key for the Pac-12 champs getting a win. With two of the best coaches in college football, the Rose Bowl should be a well-played game, but I like Meyer to get a win in his last game on the sideline.

Winner: Ohio State

 

Sugar Bowl

No. 15 Texas vs. No. 5 Georgia

Tuesday, January 1 | 8:45 PM ET | ESPN

 

I don’t think there’s any question Georgia is one of the top-three teams in the nation along with Alabama and Clemson, so I believe they should’ve been in the College Football Playoff. Look for Kirby Smart’s Bulldogs come out fired up and ready to prove they belonged—especially if one or two of the Semifinals turn into blowouts—with a convincing effort in the Sugar Bowl against Texas. Tom Herman, who is 2-0 in bowl games, and the Longhorns could have some tricks up their sleeve as they look to pull off the upset, though; but it’ll be hard for them to keep up with Georgia if Jake Fromm and the offense plays the way they have in big games the last couple of seasons. Georgia cornerback Deandre Baker, a potential top-ten pick in this year’s draft, skipping the game should be a boost for Texas receiver Lil’Jordan Humphrey and an offense that must make plays on the outside against one of the nation’s best defenses. In the first matchup between the two prestigious schools since their 1984 Cotton Bowl, which Georgia won by one point, I like the Bulldogs to win more handily in the Sugar Bowl.

Winner: Georgia

 

NOTE: This article was updated to reflect an inaccurate game time for the Fiesta Bowl.

Potential 2019 NFL Draft Quarterback Prospects To Watch During Bowl Season

Potential 2019 NFL Draft Quarterback Prospects To Watch During Bowl Season

With Christmas passed, bowl season is really going to heat up leading up to New Years. For NFL fans watching the games, quarterback is always a position of interest, so here’s background for some of the top guys playing in bowl games the next several days.

 

Jake Browning, Washington

The winningest quarterback in Pac-12 history doesn’t get a ton of praise from casual fans, but he’s a tough player that has plenty of experience as a four-year starter at Washington. Browning has 110 total touchdowns in his career (94 passing, 16 rushing), with his best season coming in 2016 when he was surrounded by future NFL receivers John Ross (first-round pick in 2017) and Dante Pettis (second-round pick in 2018). The lack of a big arm will likely lead to Browning falling outside the first few rounds of the draft, but at the very least he should be able to become one of the best backup quarterbacks in the league. He could work his way into the early rounds with a big performance against Ohio State in the Rose Bowl.

 

When: Rose Bowl, Tue. 1/1, 5:00 PM ET (ESPN)

 

Ryan Finley, NC State

Ryan Finley started his college career at Boise State for two years, but he’s become a three-year starter at NC State. Finley has gotten better every season, boosting his numbers across the board each year—including completion percentage from 60.4% to 65.1% to 67.9%. The fifth-year player helped take the team from 7-6 in his first year as starter to 9-4 last season, and he’s looking to help the Wolfpack get its first double-digit-win season since 2002. At six-foot-four, Finley has the height many teams are looking for in their quarterback.

 

When: Gator Bowl, Mon. 12/31, 7:30 PM ET (ESPN)

 

Dwayne Haskins, Ohio State

As a Heisman Trophy finalist, Dwayne Haskins doesn’t need much of an introduction. The Ohio State quarterback threw 47 touchdowns with four rushing scores this season, leading the Buckeyes to a Rose Bowl appearance against Jake Browning and the Huskies, so The Granddaddy of Them All is a game that could have two future NFL signal-callers on the field. Keep in mind that Haskins is just a redshirt sophomore and could opt to return to school for not just one, but two more seasons. Most assume he’ll enter the NFL after the Rose Bowl, though.

 

When: Rose Bowl, Tue. 1/1, 5:00 PM ET (ESPN)

 

Daniel Jones, Duke

Duke quarterback Daniel Jones is one of the most intriguing players in the 2019 draft. He’s been under the tutelage of head coach David Cutcliffe, who coached both Peyton and Eli Manning during his coaching career, so it’s easy to connect things and believe Jones has obvious potential as a pro. Jones has more ability as a runner than the Mannings, but clearly, he’s not quite where the two former No. 1 overall picks were as passers coming out of college. With another year of eligibility as a redshirt junior, Jones could garner big-time hype if he returns to school in 2019. However, this year’s draft class doesn’t look close to as good as 2020.

 

When: Independence Bowl, Thu. 12/27, 1:30 PM ET (ESPN)

 

Brian Lewerke, Michigan State

This has been an injury-riddled season for Brian Lewerke, who might not even be starting in the Redbox Bowl against Oregon, so the best option for him might be to return to school for one more season to get healthy and rebuild his draft stock. Lewerke was a potential first-rounder as a tough, pro-style quarterback leading one of the nation’s best programs coming into the year, but he could end up being a steal in a relatively weak quarterback class if he declares after the bowl game. If Lewerke doesn’t play, you can at least look ahead to 2020 with Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert on the other side against the Spartans.

 

When: Redbox Bowl, Mon. 12/31, 3:00 PM ET, (FOX)

 

Drew Lock, Missouri

Of all the draft prospects at any position, Drew Lock might be the most polarizing as any. The Mizzou starter has a cannon for an arm, and he put up an SEC-record 44 passing touchdowns last season before coming back down to 25 passing touchdowns his senior year. Lock has upped his completion percentage to 63.2% (from 57.8% last season) though, which some people want to see (even if it’s an unsound judgement of a quarterback as an NFL prospect). Given his natural ability as a thrower, an MVP performance in the Liberty Bowl could get the hype train rolling into the draft process.

 

When: Liberty Bowl, Mon. 12/31, 3:45 PM ET (ESPN)

 

Trace McSorley, Penn State

Because he isn’t “prototypical” size with all the qualities some look for in an NFL quarterback Trace McSorley could be going under the radar as a potential franchise quarterback in this year’s draft. Despite being undersized, McSorley has a very good arm and excels on deep balls down the field—especially back when he had current NFLers Chris Godwin and DaeSean Hamilton running elite routes for college players and getting open deep. All college football fans should be tuned in for the last game for one of the best players in the nation the last few years and one of the most prolific players in the history of a prestigious Penn State program, but NFL fans should keep an eye on McSorley, too.

 

When: Citrus Bowl, Tue. 1/1, 1:00 PM ET (ABC)

 

Jarrett Stidham, Auburn

Despite another year of eligibility, Auburn quarterback Jarrett Stidham already announced his intentions to enter the NFL draft after the Music City Bowl against Purdue. Stidham entered this season with expectations that he’d take another step forward and potentially become a strong Heisman candidate in his second season leading Gus Malzahn’s offense, but the Tigers struggled to find a consistent running game with 2017 SEC Offensive Player of the Year Kerryon Johnson now in the NFL, making things tougher on Stidham. His size and athleticism make him an intriguing prospect that could be selected in the first couple of rounds in the draft if the process leading up to April goes well.

 

When: Music City Bowl, Fri. 12/28, 1:30 PM ET (ESPN)

 

Kyle Shurmur

If the name is familiar, that’s because it should be. Kyle Shurmur is the son of Giants head coach Pat Shurmur. Like a few of these guys, he has the size many teams are looking for in a franchise quarterback, and he has the toughness and smarts as the son of a former Michigan State center who is now one of the best offensive coaches in the NFL. Shurmur is a three-year starter that also had experience as a freshman (103 pass attempts), and he’s gotten better every year as one of the best signal-callers in a tough SEC conference.

 

When: Texas Bowl, Thu. 12/27, 9:00 PM (ESPN)

 

Clayton Thorson, Northwestern

After starting with a four-year starter in Jake Browning, we’re ending with a four-year starter in Clayton Thorson. The Northwestern captain also has the size some require from a quarterback, and in a crowded and unclear quarterback draft class, he might make a push as one of the first players selected at his position. Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly said he believes Thorson is an NFL talent. While Thorson certainly isn’t an outstanding runner, he has a knack for the end zone with 27 rushing scores in four seasons. If you’re looking for something to do in the early part of the evening on New Year’s Eve, Thorson and the Wildcats play at 7:00 PM ET.

 

When: Holiday Bowl, Mon. 12/31, 7:00 PM ET (FS1)

Early 2019 Heisman Trophy Favorites

Early 2019 Heisman Trophy Favorites

Kyler Murray made it two straight Oklahoma Sooners quarterbacks to win the Heisman Trophy. He’s headed to either the Athletics or the NFL after the season, so there’ll be another new Heisman winner crowned next season. A lot can change, but these are the early 2019 Heisman favorites. [NOTE: 2018 season stats are before bowl games.]

 

1. Tua Tagovailoa | Alabama QB

If not for getting injured during the SEC Championship Game in which Jalen Hurts came in and led the Crimson Tide to victory over Georgia, Tua Tagovailoa might already have Heisman Trophy. The sophomore quarterback had the second-most voting points for a Heisman runner-up in history, and he’ll be the heavy favorite in his second full season as the starter for Alabama next year.

 

2018 season stats:

67.7% | 3,353 YDS | 37 TD | 4 INT

48 ATT | 290 YDS | 5 TD | 4.0 AVG

 

2. Dwayne Haskins | Ohio State QB

As a redshirt sophomore, Dwayne Haskins might make the jump to the NFL after the Rose Bowl, in which case he obviously won’t be in the running for the Heisman in 2019. But if he returns to Ohio State for another season, he’ll obviously be among the Heisman favorites coming off a year where he set Ohio State and Big Ten records and put up over 50 total touchdowns. Also, soon-to-be new Buckeyes head coach Ryan Day might want to set the tone and put up monster numbers in his first year running the program.

 

2018 season stats:

70.2% | 4,580 YDS | 47 TD | 8 INT

73 ATT | 122 YDS | 4 TD | 1.7 AVG

 

3. Jonathan Taylor | Wisconsin RB

Assuming the bowl game against Miami doesn’t go very poorly for himself and Wisconsin, Jonathan Taylor should eclipse 2,000 rushing yards rushing on the season, and he could get up over the 2,100- or 2,200-yard mark if he has one of his huge games. The Badgers must bounce back as a team in 2019, but Taylor will make a strong push for well over 2,000 yards no matter how good the team is next season.

 

2018 season stats:

280 ATT | 1,989 YDS | 15 TD | 7.1 AVG

8 REC | 60 YDS | 7.5 AVG

 

4. Jake Fromm | Georgia QB

Next season, Jake Fromm will be entering his third year as the starter and an experienced and accomplished player with two SEC title game appearances and one conference title. If the offense is opened up and allows Fromm to sling it around like he did against Alabama in the tough conference championship loss, he could push for 35-40+ passing touchdowns for one of the better teams in the nation. Teammate D’Andre Swift should also be in the mix as a potential candidate.

 

2018 season stats:

68.4% | 2,537 YDS | 27 TD | 5 INT

 

5. Trevor Lawrence | Clemson QB

Trevor Lawrence will enter 2019 as the unquestioned starter not needing to split time or practice reps like he did with Kelly Bryant entering this season. The six-foot-six phenom has plenty of talent, and he has plenty of weapons around him to make gamebreaking plays. As is the case with Fromm, his top running back (Travis Etienne) will also be strongly in the mix for the prestigious honor. It helps that Lawrence plays for a Clemson team that’ll probably be near the top of the rankings all next year.

 

2018 season stats:

64.8% | 2,606 YDS | 24 TD | 4 INT

47 ATT | 151 YDS | 1 TD | 3.2 AVG

Top Ten Tuesday: 2018-2019 College Football Bowl Games

Top Ten Tuesday: 2018-2019 College Football Bowl Games

The full 2018-2019 college football bowl schedule is out, so this week’s Top Ten Tuesday goes over the best games of the slate. There will be a lot of good football throughout this month, but these are our picks for the top ten games.

 

10. Outback Bowl: No. 18 Mississippi State vs. Iowa (Jan. 1, 12:00 PM ET, ESPN 2)

The Gator Bowl between NC State and No. 19 Texas A&M—which has two potential future NFL quarterbacks in Ryan Finley and Kellen Mond—just misses the cut, but the Outback Bowl makes the top ten for 2018-2019 bowl games. Mississippi State (No. 3) and Iowa (No. 7) both have top-ten defenses in terms of yards allowed, while the Bulldogs are first in scoring defense and the Hawkeyes are eleventh in the category. In a day and age with offensive fireworks every week, a hard-fought defensive battle should be refreshing.

 

9. Redbox Bowl: Michigan State vs. Oregon (Dec. 31, 3:00 PM ET, FOX)

The Redbox Bowl features an unranked matchup between Michigan State and Oregon, but it should be a well-played game. Mark Dantonio’s squad hasn’t had the season they expected after starting the year at No. 11 in the AP poll, but they’re looking for a strong finish to build momentum into 2019. The Spartans are 5-1 in their last six bowl games, so they’re as successful as almost any team this time of year. On the other side, Oregon’s star quarterback Justin Herbert will either look to either build momentum heading into the draft or heading into another season with the Ducks next year depending on what he decides. These two programs met in 2015, with Michigan State winning a thriller in East Lansing.

 

8. Camping World Bowl: No. 16 West Virginia vs. No. 20 Syracuse (Dec. 28, 5:15 PM ET, ESPN)

If you aren’t excited about potential defensive battles in the first two bowl games on the list, the Camping World Bowl between West Virginia and Syracuse should get you excited. The game features two of the best quick-strike offenses led by senior quarterbacks Will Grier and Eric Dungey. Also, another cool part about the game is that it’s a throwback matchup, as the Mountaineers and Orange used to play each other in the Big East.

 

7. Citrus Bowl: No. 14 Kentucky vs. No. 12 Penn State (Jan. 1, 1:00 PM ET, ABC)

The Citrus Bowl annually features one of the best non-New Year’s Six games, and this year is no different. Kentucky boasts Nagurski award winner Josh Allen, while Penn State features senior quarterback Trace McSorley in what should be one of the best offense-versus-defense matchups this bowl season. McSorley is playing in his final college game after setting a bunch of school records for the Nittany Lions, so all college fans should tune in.

 

6. Peach Bowl: No. 10 Florida vs. No. 7 Michigan (Dec. 29, 12:00 PM ET, ESPN)

The Peach Bowl might be higher if not for Florida and Michigan already playing in the 2016 Citrus Bowl and the 2017 season opener, as it’s a matchup we’ve surprisingly seen often. It is interesting that the Gators are looking for their first win over the Wolverines, as the Big Ten school is 4-0 against the SEC foe, including wins of 41-7 and 33-17 in their last two matchups. Assuming Michigan bounces back from their bad loss to Ohio State, we’ll see great defense from both sides in this one.

 

5. Sugar Bowl: No. 15 Texas vs. No. 5 Georgia (Jan. 1, 8:45 PM ET, ESPN)

The Sugar Bowl is always great, but this year is an intriguing matchup with two schools looking to prove different things. Georgia is obviously looking to make a statement and show they belonged in the College Football Playoff, and they’ll have an opportunity to shut down a Texas team that beat Playoff participant Oklahoma earlier this season before falling to the Sooners in the Big 12 title game. Meanwhile, Texas is looking to continue its resurgance as they attempt to notch their first ten-win season since 2009. It’s good to have the Longhorns back in a big bowl game, but hopefully they can keep it close against a Bulldogs team stacked with talent including Jake Fromm and DeAndre Swift.

 

4. Rose Bowl: No. 9 Washington vs. No. 6 Ohio State (Jan. 1, 5:00 PM ET, ESPN)

It’s hard to top the Rose Bowl, so Washington and Ohio State don’t have a bad consolation despite having big-time Playoff aspirations entering the season. For Washington, it’ll be the end of accomplished careers by a senior class led by quarterback Jake Browning and running back Myles Gaskin. And one of the most notable storylines of bowl season is the end of Urban Meyer’s coaching career. The two-time national champion has had a remarkable run, and the Buckeyes would probably love to send him out with a Rose Bowl win in his first appearance in “The Granddaddy of Them All”.

 

3. Fiesta Bowl: No. 11 LSU vs. No. 8 UCF (Jan. 1, 1:00 PM ET, ESPN)

If star quarterback McKenzie Milton, who unfortunately suffered a heartbreaking season-ending knee injury, was playing in this game, it might be No. 1 in the rankings of 2018-2019 bowl games. However, it remains at No. 3 because redshirt freshman Darriel Mack Jr. (six touchdowns in the AAC title game) has shown he can flat-out play. And UCF is looking to extend its nation-best winning streak to 26 games while making it two straight undefeated seasons that are capped by bowl wins against SEC squads. LSU isn’t going to make it easy, though, and they’re coming off one of the craziest games in the history of sports after falling in overtime, 74-72, to Texas A&M to end the regular season. The Fiesta Bowl just feels like it’s set up for an awesome 60 minutes (or more).

 

2. Cotton Bowl: No. 3 Notre Dame vs. No. 2 Clemson (Dec. 29, 4:00 PM ET, ESPN)

The intrigue of College Football Semifinals gets the Cotton Bowl and the Orange Bowl into the top two spots for best bowl games this year. We believe Clemson is in the top-three trio of Alabama, them, and Georgia as best and most-talented teams in the country, and there might be a decent a chance they blow out Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish play solid all-around football, so they’ll look to hang around and win it in the end for a trip to the College Football Playoff National Championship Game. Freshman phenom Trevor Lawrence and the offense, along with the talented and experienced defense, will look to put them away early to advance to another title game. If Notre Dame doesn’t make it close, there’ll be a lot of talk about whether they should’ve been in the Playoff as an independent without a conference championship, and it could affect them in future years when the Committee makes decisions on the final four teams.

 

1. Orange Bowl: No. 4 Oklahoma vs. No. 1 Alabama (Dec. 29, 8:00 PM ET, ESPN)

There’s a reason the Orange Bowl is given the primetime slot on December 29. As is the case with the other Semifinal, there’s a chance this game is a blowout—if Alabama can contain Oklahoma’s offense, that’s probably what’ll happen given the likelihood of Alabama’s offense being able to move the ball with ease on OU. But the Sooners have piled up an absurd 577.9 yards and 49.5 points per game, and they can probably score on any defense. The Crimson Tide is just worried about winning the game, but they’ll also be able to rep their conference with a convincing win after their battle against Georgia in the SEC Championship Game that narrowly knocked the Bulldogs out of the top four. The Orange Bowl features the potential top-two finishers in the Heisman Trophy race, and it’s still very much up in the air as to who will win the prestigious honor; whoever wins it, the voting will be a huge storyline heading into the game—Tua Tagovailoa and Kyler Murray might not need any extra chip on their shoulders, though. And remember, A+ teammate and improved thrower Jalen Hurts is ready to go if needed.

2018 College Football Power Rankings Pre-Bowl Games

2018 College Football Power Rankings Pre-Bowl Games

Georgia put up a heck of an effort against Alabama in the SEC title game, but the Committee didn’t believe it was enough to get them into the College Football Playoff. We believe the Bulldogs are clearly a top-three team, but the top four teams in the power rankings ahead of bowl season is made up of the Playoff participants.

 

1. Alabama (13-0) | Last week: 1

It’s hard to imagine someone handling this entire quarterback situation as well as Jalen Hurts has for the past 11 months, and he admirably stepped up and helped deliver another SEC championship for Alabama. And potential Heisman winner Tua Tagovailoa should be ready to go for the Orange Bowl against Oklahoma after leaving the conference championship game with an ankle injury. The Crimson Tide probably don’t mind not having to face the Bulldogs again.

 

2. Clemson (13-0) | Last week: 2

Clearly, the team with the best chance to knock off Alabama in the CFB Playoff is Clemson. In fact, the Tigers belong in the same class as the team they’ve faced in the Playoff the last three seasons (and the national title game twice). Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne lead a balanced offensive attack, and this senior class with four straight conference titles (the first time in ACC history) is unbelievable. Alabama and Clemson facing off for a fourth straight year seem likely.

 

3. Oklahoma (12-1) | Last week: 6 (+3)

Oklahoma didn’t have a perfect regular season like Alabama and Clemson, but they were able to avenge their only loss to Texas and captured a fourth straight Big 12 title in the process. Kyler Murray and the offense should be able to put points up on any team, which is probably part of why the Committee ignored a defense that’s really struggled this season. The Sooners need the defense to step up to have a good chance of advancing to the title game.

 

4. Notre Dame (12-0) | Last week: 5 (+1)

Notre Dame is the Playoff team we think could have easily been left out of the field, but the Committee but them at No. 3. They deserve a boost for scheduling tough out-of-conference games (including an opening-game victory at Michigan), but they don’t have a conference title and they would be clear underdogs against the trio of Alabama, Clemson, and Georgia. However, the Fighting Irish will get a chance to prove they belong in the Playoff when they face Clemson in the Cotton Bowl.

 

5. Georgia (11-2) | Last week: 3 (-2)

The Committee has been extremely inconsistent with how they’ve determined whether a team should get into the Playoff or not. Clearly, we believe Georgia is a top three team that should have been included in the top four. They had two losses, but one was in Death Valley and the other was in a nail-biting conference championship against Alabama—they just happened to be in the same conference as the No. 1 team in the nation. Jake Fromm is playing as well as anyone at quarterback, and the Bulldogs will look to end a great season with a Sugar Bowl win over Texas.

 

6. Ohio State (12-1) | Last week: 4 (-2)

Considering they won a championship in arguably the second-best conference, Ohio State probably has a stronger case than the Committee seemed to believe given their No. 6 ranking. The Buckeyes would be favored over the Fighting Irish, but a perfect record ultimately trumped a Big Ten championship. This is the second consecutive season without a Big Ten team in the College Football Playoff.

 

7. UCF (12-0) | Last week: 7

It was looking shaky early in the game for UCF, but they shut down Memphis’ offense in the second half (three points allowed), and freshman quarterback Darriel Mack Jr. accounted for six touchdowns—four on the ground—in the Knights’ 56-41 American Conference Championship Game win. The program with the nation’s longest winning streak now has a chance to pick up another New Year’s Six Bowl win against an SEC team when they face LSU in the Fiesta Bowl.

 

8. Michigan (10-2) | Last week: 8

This season hasn’t gone quite the way Michigan expected, but a New Year’s Six Bowl gives them a big opportunity to cap it off nicely. They play Florida in the Peach Bowl; the Wolverines destroyed the Gators in the Citrus Bowl in 2016, and they followed it up with a big victory to open the 2017 season, so the team is likely to be confident against a talented SEC squad.

 

9. Washington (10-3) | Last week: NR

Like Michigan, Washington hasn’t had the season they expected, with Playoff aspirations coming into the year. However, the Huskies have ended the season with an Apple Cup win, a Pac-12 Championship Game win, and now they’ll go to the Rose Bowl for the first time since 2000. The senior class led by Jake Browning and Myles Gaskin will look to end their careers with a win in one of the most prestigious bowls.

 

10. Florida (9-3) | Last week: 9 (-1)

Both LSU and Florida get New Year’s Six Bowls, and they both could have easily been in this No. 10 spot. While the Tigers will look to knock off LSU, the Gators will look to get some redemption against Jim Harbaugh’s squad after two losses to them the last few seasons. They’ll kickoff the NY6 games on December 29 at noon.

2018 Heisman Watch (Final Edition)

2018 Heisman Watch (Final Edition)

With one final opportunity for the top three Heisman Trophy candidates to state their case, the Heisman race is about as close as it can get heading into this Saturday’s trophy presentation. Who should take home college football’s most prestigious individual honor in one of the closest races in recent memory?

 

1. Tua Tagovailoa | Alabama QB | Sophomore | Last week: 1

Tua Tagovailoa had his worst game of the season when he had an opportunity to basically lock up the Heisman Trophy, and the subpar performance makes it a very interesting situation. Heisman voters must consider that Tagovailoa put up these numbers with not close to as much playing time as Kyler Murray and Dwayne Haskins, as the Crimson Tide blew almost everyone out during the season. Any of the top three is very deserving of the award.

 

Season stats:

67.7% | 3,353 YDS | 37 TD | 4 INT

48 ATT | 290 YDS | 5 TD | 4.0 AVG

 

2. Kyler Murray | Oklahoma QB | Senior | Last week: 2

As stated last week, 40+ passing touchdowns and 10+ rushing touchdowns would be quite the feat, and Kyler Murray accomplished it with a big performance in the Big 12 Championship Game against Texas. Murray already broke Oklahoma’s single-season total offense record in one less game than Baker Mayfield (last year’s Heisman winner) played last season. The future Oakland A might hoist the Heisman on Saturday night.

 

Season stats:

70.9% | 4,053 YDS | 40 TD | 7 INT

123 ATT | 892 YDS | 11 TD | 7.3 AVG

 

3. Dwayne Haskins | Ohio State QB | RS Sophomore | Last week: 3

Dwayne Haskins also has 51 total touchdowns this season, but he’s done it a little differently than Kyler Murray, throwing for 47 scores while rushing for four more while leading the Buckeyes to a Big Ten title. A red-hot late-season stretch helps give Haskins a legitimate shot to win the award, and he should be sweating it out on Saturday night, as his name could be the one that’s called after the amazing season he’s had.

 

Season stats:

70.2% | 4,580 YDS | 47 TD | 8 INT

73 ATT | 122 YDS | 4 TD | 1.7 AVG

 

4. Jonathan Taylor | Wisconsin RB | Sophomore | Last week: 4

Jonathan Taylor isn’t going to win the Heisman, but we now know he’ll be playing the Hurricanes in the Pinstripe Bowl as he looks to hit 2,000 yards rushing. He shouldn’t have much of an issue hitting the mark with just 11 yards to go. Taylor should probably get an invite to New York, but it might not happen.

 

Season stats:

280 ATT | 1,989 YDS | 15 TD | 7.1 AVG

8 REC | 60 YDS | 7.5 AVG

 

5. Gardner Minshew | Washington State QB | Senior | Last week: 5

It’s not the Rose Bowl, but Gardner Minshew will look to cap his outstanding graduate transfer season with an Alamo Bowl victory over Iowa State. Minshew also might get invited to New York, but he’s unlikely to win the Heisman despite the exceptional year.

 

Season stats:

70.6% | 4,477 YDS | 36 TD | 9 INT

52 ATT | 103 YDS | 3 TD | 2.0 AVG

2018 College Football Power Five Conference Championship Games: Previews And Predictions

2018 College Football Power Five Conference Championship Games: Previews And Predictions

While a lot of focus has already shifted toward the College Football Playoff Rankings set to be released on Sunday, there are big-time conference championship games to be played this weekend. Hopefully all the conference title games will be good, but these previews and predictions are for the Power Five titles.

 

Pac-12 Championship

No. 17 Utah vs. No. 11 Washington | Friday, Nov. 30, 8:00 PM ET | FOX

 

Coming into the season, Washington expected to compete for a national championship with seniors Jake Browning and Myles Gaskin leading the way. Three close losses—including two in the Pac-12—made that not to be, but the Huskies still have a chance at a conference title and a Rose Bowl appearance, which would be an outstanding season and a great way for the seniors to go out.

 

Meanwhile, Utah is in the Pac-12 title game for the first time in school history. The Utes are 1-11 all-time against the Huskies, and they lost the head-to-head matchup back in September, 21-7. Utah doesn’t have the talent or experience of Washington, but they’ve shown major flashes and have a solid rushing attack (nearly 200 yards per game) to help keep things close.

 

I think it might be tight, but I like Browning and Washington’s defense (16.5 points per game, eighth in the country) to get to the Rose Bowl after they won the snowy Apple Cup last Friday.

 

Prediction: Washington

 

 

Big 12 Championship

No. 14 Texas vs. No. 5 Oklahoma | Saturday, Dec. 1, 12:00 PM ET | ABC

 

In the Red River Showdown earlier this season, Texas was in control for most of the game, but Oklahoma stormed back with 21 fourth-quarter points to make it close. The Red River Showdown II is likely to give people all the scoring they can handle, and the game should have somewhere between 80 and 100 points scored between the two teams.

 

Because of the lack of strong defense, neither team should be out of it even if it becomes a three-possession game—as the Sooners displayed in the first matchup. Personally, I am not a big fan of the style of the Big 12, as there doesn’t seem to be a huge emphasis on defense and special teams. Situational football should be important and could be enjoyable for everyone to watch, though, particularly in the red zone as the teams look to get seven points instead of three points. This season, Oklahoma has scored a touchdown on 39 of their 57 red zone chances (68.4%) while Texas has scored on 27 of their 42 red zone chances (64.3%)—not elite numbers, so one team could separate by capitalizing on their chances deep in opponent’s territory.

 

Tom Herman’s teams play well in big games, but it’ll be tough to beat Lincoln Riley’s Sooners twice in one season.

 

Prediction: Oklahoma

 

 

SEC Championship

No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 4 Georgia | Saturday, Dec. 1, 4:00 PM ET | CBS

 

By far the matchup I am most excited about is the SEC Championship Game between Alabama and Georgia. The rematch from last year’s CFB Playoff National Championship Game could feature two playoff teams from this year’s field depending on how things go, as it’ll be difficult to leave Alabama out without getting blown out, and Georgia would still have a case to get in with a narrow loss. Nick Saban and Kirby Smart get their guys locked in, so all these two talented squads care about right now is winning their conference—and it help should deliver an excellent, well-played game.

 

There’s no question the Bulldogs lost key players from last season—including NFLers Roquan Smith, Lorenzo Carter, Sony Michel, Nick Chubb, and Isaiah Wynn. However, they might still be best-equipped to give the remarkable Crimson Tide team a loss this season. Some have speculated top recruit and freshman quarterback Justin Fields could have a big role as a dual-threat quarterback that could give Saban’s defense trouble, but I think Georgia will roll with Jake Fromm—who has been great since taking over the quarterback job as a true freshman himself last year—nearly every snap.

 

Between Fromm and likely Heisman winner Tua Tagovailoa, we’re going to see excellent quarterback play on both sides. I don’t think Fromm is getting the recognition he deserves yet, but this could be a matchup between two players that I think should be debated as the top pick in the 2019 NFL Draft if they both leave school after their junior seasons. If the game is on the line, both guys have shown they can remain cool and deliver strikes when the team is counting on them.

 

I was leaning toward Georgia at first, but their defense isn’t quite as dominant as it was last season, so I give the edge to Alabama. The game should be very close.

 

Prediction: Alabama

 

 

Big Ten Championship

No. 21 Northwestern vs. No. 6 Ohio State | Saturday, Dec. 1, 8:00 PM ET | FOX

 

Early this season, Northwestern lost two straight to Duke and Akron, so there weren’t many people that thought they’d be close to the Big Ten Championship Game at that point. However, their only losses since then have come against top-ten teams Michigan and Notre Dame. Pat Fitzgerald admirably got his team to stay together, and he has an experienced four-year starter in Clayton Thorson at quarterback, so they shouldn’t be counted out. The Wildcats should make it a close game like they did against the Wolverines and the Fighting Irish.

 

However, Ohio State is rolling after their stunning 62-39 victory over Michigan last Saturday. The offense has been one of the best in the nation all season, but that performance against an elite defense was on another level. With all of Ohio State’s playmakers, no one is going to be thrilled to see them in the Playoff. I know their defense has looked downright terrible at times this season, but they’re giving up a touchdown less per game than Oklahoma, yet the Sooners get their defensive concerns overlooked to some extent compared to the Buckeyes.

 

So while Northwestern will battle, Ohio State has too much confidence and talent to pick against them.

 

Prediction: Ohio State

 

 

ACC Championship

No. 2 Clemson vs. Pitt | Saturday, Dec. 1, 8:00 PM ET | ABC

 

They won the game by 21 points and it was never really in doubt, but Clemson gave up 510 passing yards and five passing touchdowns to South Carolina last Saturday. Obviously, that’s a concern, but the Tigers have a top-five scoring defense (14.0 points allowed per game) and a top-five scoring offense (45.7 points per game); Alabama is the only other team top-five in both categories. The performance was probably an anomaly.

 

Meanwhile, Pitt dropped out of the top 25 this week after the offense couldn’t get anything going in Miami against the Hurricanes. The Panthers nearly upset Notre Dame and they beat Syracuse, but they were also blown out by Penn State and UCF earlier in the year. Overall, they are going to need to put up their best effort of the season and have the ball to bounce their way if they’re going to win the ACC.

 

Expect the Tigers to win their fourth straight ACC Championship Game.

 

Prediction: Clemson

2018 College Football Playoff Scenarios Entering Conference Championship Games

2018 College Football Playoff Scenarios Entering Conference Championship Games

Last night, the second-to-last College Football Playoff rankings were released.

 

 

There was a lot of intrigue about where Oklahoma and Ohio State would be ranked, and the Sooners edged out the Buckeyes for the No. 5 spot despite OSU’s rout of Michigan last weekend. With Alabama and Georgia playing in the SEC title game, this sets up Oklahoma to potentially take the No. 4 spot in the decisive CFB Playoff rankings, which will be released this Sunday at noon ET. However, there are plenty of scenarios that can play out this weekend. Here’s a breakdown of how each team gets into the Playoff—or doesn’t.

 

Alabama Crimson Tide

If the Crimson Tide wins the SEC, they’ll obviously be the No. 1 team when the rankings are revealed on Sunday. However, there’s still a chance they get into the Playoff with a loss—in fact, the assumption is that, barring a blowout loss, Alabama is already in.

 

Ways to get in

-Beat Georgia in the SEC Championship.

-Lose a relatively close game to Georgia in the SEC Championship.

-Get blown out in the SEC Championship, but Oklahoma and/or Ohio State lose. Considering Ohio State lost in a blowout against Purdue, Alabama might still get in. The Crimson Tide getting in after a blowout loss is probably a longshot if OU or OSU claims a conference title, though.

 

Clemson Tigers

As an undefeated Power Five team, Clemson is in a similar situation to Alabama. If they win, they’re certainly in. A loss in the ACC title game is where things would get very interesting. If it’s close, the eye test might still be enough to still get the Tigers in over Oklahoma or Ohio State, but probably not.

 

Ways to get in

-Beat Pitt in the ACC Championship.

-Lose a close game to Pitt in the ACC Championship, with Alabama beating Georgia, and Oklahoma OR Ohio State losing their conference title game.

 

Notre Dame Fighting Irish

As an independent, Notre Dame is fortunate enough to sit at home while the other top-six teams play in conference championships. Given the prestige of the program and an undefeated record this season, the Fighting Irish are near locks to make the Playoff field.

 

Ways to get in

-Sit at home; they are likely to get in.

-Oklahoma and Ohio State both lose, making Notre Dame a 100% lock.

 

Where things could potentially get interesting

-Georgia barely beats Alabama.

-Clemson wins against Pitt.

-Oklahoma or Ohio State destroys in their conference title game

 

Three conference champions (Clemson, Georgia, Oklahoma/Ohio State) including OU or OSU in convincing fashion, along with an Alabama team that’s been No. 1 all year and would have a case for being the No. 2 team with a close loss to Georgia, could lead to the Fighting Irish getting leapfrogged two spots on Sunday.

 

Georgia Bulldogs

At No. 4 in the penultimate rankings, beating Alabama in the SEC Championship Game would guarantee a spot in the College Football Playoff. But there are other ways Georgia can get into the field.

 

Ways to get in

-Beat Alabama in the SEC Championship.

-Lose a razor-close game to Alabama in the SEC Championship and hope the Committee thinks they’ve proven they are a top-four team.

-Lose relatively-close game to Alabama in the SEC Championship, while two of Clemson, Oklahoma, and Ohio State lose.

 

Oklahoma Sooners

By holding off Ohio State for the No. 5 ranking last night, Oklahoma should be in position for a Playoff spot if someone slips out of the top-four. The Sooners face No. 14 Texas in their conference title game while Ohio State faces No. 21 Northwestern in their conference title game, so it’s hard to see them being jumped over on Sunday.

 

Ways to get in

-Beat Texas in the Big 12 Championship, with help (Alabama/Georgia losing—probably by a decent margin—and falling out of the top four; Clemson losing and falling out of the top four)

-Destroy Texas in the Big 12 Championship to avenge their loss earlier this season, with the Committee thinking that’s enough to put them over an at-home Notre Dame or the SEC title game loser.

 

Ohio State Buckeyes

Considering the circumstances and the fact that they were an underdog (despite the game being in Columbus), Ohio State might have the most-impressive win of the season after their blowout versus rivalry Michigan. Northwestern isn’t as strong as Michigan, but another blowout win where the offense looks unstoppable and the defense makes plays would give the Committee a lot to think of Saturday night into Sunday morning.

 

Ways to get in

-Beat Northwestern in the Big Ten Championship, while Clemson, Georgia, and Oklahoma all lose.

-Destroy Northwestern in the Big Ten Championship, leading to the Committee declaring the eye test determines they are playing as well as anyone right now and must be in the top-four as a conference champion in the first or second toughest conference (with wins over No. 7 Michigan, No. 12 Penn State, and No. 21 Northwestern).

 

Basically, the Ohio State situation has a lot of scenarios where a combination of losses or close losses by teams in front of them make it something that’ll be strongly debated.

 

Other scenarios

What if Clemson, Georgia, Oklahoma, and Ohio State all lose by like 20+ points this weekend? Considering Michigan themselves just got routed, Clemson would still get in over them as a one-loss team. But the Wolverines might have a case to get in over others as a one-loss team that still has the No. 1 defense in terms of yards per game. A three-loss Big 12 champion Texas might also get consideration, but them getting in would be anarchy. In the unlikely scenario of Clemson, Georgia, Oklahoma, and Ohio State (or even just three of them) all losing big, it could open up an opportunity for UCF—unfortunately without quarterback McKenzie Milton—to get their shot in the College Football Playoff.

2018 College Football Power Rankings Week 14

2018 College Football Power Rankings Week 14

This week’s college football power rankings have a huge shakeup heading into conference championship week. Does Notre Dame belong in the Playoff no matter what happens ahead of College Football Playoff Selection Day on Sunday?

 

1. Alabama (12-0) | Last week: 1

Auburn made the Iron Bowl competitive for a bit, but Alabama is simply just too good. Tua Tagovailoa was as good as usual and appears fully healthy, while Jalen Hurts stepped in late and put his lone pass attempt right on the money for a 53-yard score. Georgia is going to be Alabama’s toughest matchup of the season, and it’ll be interesting to see what the Committee does if the Crimson Tide fall, as they’ve clearly shown to be a top-four team this season regardless of Saturday’s result.

 

2. Clemson (12-0) | Last week: 2

Giving up 510 yards and five touchdowns to Jake Bentley is a bit of a concern, but Clemson had a convincing 56-35 victory despite some defensive lapses. It isn’t really being talked about because most are assuming Clemson will beat Pitt and win another ACC title, but what would happen if the Tigers lose on Saturday night? Dabo Swinney’s squad is just worried about taking care of business and getting to 13-0, though.

 

3. Georgia (11-1) | Last week: 3

Everyone is talking as if Alabama winning the SEC title game over Georgia is a foregone conclusion, which is likely to motivate a Bulldogs team that is playing exceptionally well. Georgia obviously went toe-to-toe with the Crimson Tide in last year’s national championship, and they’re not going to be overwhelmed. Fellow sophomore quarterback Jake Fromm is arguably just as good as Tua Tagovailoa—if not better—and football fans (including NFL fans, when the two signal-callers could be top picks when they leave college) should be tuned in.

 

4. Ohio State (11-1) | Last week: 10 (+6)

After Ohio State’s blowout win over Michigan, the debate has seemingly turned to the Buckeyes versus the Sooners for a potential final fourth Playoff spot if Georgia loses to Alabama. However, there’s a legit argument for Ohio State immediately taking the No. 4 spot with a win-and-in scenario in the Big Ten Championship against Northwestern. Notre Dame is unbeaten, but the Buckeyes would have a conference title and a bigger statement win than the Fighting Irish did against the same Michigan team earlier this season. Ohio State would be favored over Notre Dame on a neutral field.

 

5. Notre Dame (12-0) | Last week: 4 (-1)

Notre Dame will argue they haven’t been beaten and took out the Wolverines in a tougher environment in The Big House than Ohio State winning at home. They did everything they have to do for serious College Football Playoff consideration, and now they just need to sit home and wait for this Sunday’s selection show. Most people are already putting them in the Playoff field, but it should not be a lock.

 

6. Oklahoma (11-1) | Last week: 6

Lincoln Riley and Oklahoma are going to feel they can put up points on any team in the nation, but the defense remains a concern. A shot at some redemption against a Texas team that handed them their only loss of the season is big, and a blowout win will give the Committee a lot to think about when determining the final top four.

 

7. UCF (11-0) | Last week: 7

McKenzie Milton’s serious knee injury is a real heartbreaker, and everyone should hope and pray that we see him back to his usual exceptional form in 2019. For this season, the Knights will look to continue extending their winning streak, but unlikely Playoff chances look basically impossible without their experienced quarterback leading the way.

 

8. Michigan (10-2) | Last week: 5 (-3)

This has been an excellent season for Michigan, but their loss to Ohio State is about as low as it’ll get in their epic rivalry. The Buckeyes had too much speed for the No. 1 defense and its normally-lockdown man coverage in one of the most shocking performances of the season. A New Year’s Six Bowl and a spectacular end to a double-digit win season is still a possibility, and it’s something Jim Harbaugh’s program needs to avoid a really bad taste in the offseason.

 

9. Florida (9-3) | Last week: NR

Florida ended their losing streak to Florida State and knocked their big in-state rival out of the bowl mix (for the first time in 36 years) in the process, so they had a great weekend. The Gators could be headed to a New Year’s Six Bowl, which would be an outstanding start to Dan Mullen’s first season as the program’s head coach.

 

10. LSU (9-3) | Last week: 9 (-1)

Saturday night/Sunday morning’s seven-overtime game was simply insane, and the loss in a historic game does not drop LSU out of the top ten. The Tigers might be on the outside looking in for a New Year’s Six, but they won’t be a fun opponent for whoever they face in a December or January bowl game.

2018 Heisman Watch (Week 14)

2018 Heisman Watch (Week 14)

The order for the Heisman race remains the same, but things have tightened up heading into the final weekend for top guys to make their case.

 

1. Tua Tagovailoa | Alabama QB | Sophomore | Last week: 1

Tua Tagovailoa became the first Crimson Tide player with six touchdowns responsible for in a game, and he did it in his first Iron Bowl start. Other strong candidates behind him make it not a stone-cold lock yet, but Tagovailoa is poised to take home the Heisman unless he has a dreadful performance in the SEC title game while Kyler Murray or Dwayne Haskins puts up spectacular numbers in a big win.

 

Season stats:

70.3% | 3,189 YDS | 36 TD | 2 INT

45 ATT | 211 YDS | 5 TD | 4.7 AVG

 

2. Kyler Murray | Oklahoma QB | Senior | Last week: 2

In terms of mass overall statistics, Kyler Murray is the best in the nation this season. He has 47 touchdowns and should hit the 50-plus mark in the Big 12 Championship Game against Texas, the only team that’s beaten Oklahoma this season. 40+ passing touchdowns and 10+ rushing touchdowns would be quite the feat.

 

Season stats:

70.6% | 3,674 YDS | 37 TD | 7 INT

113 ATT | 853 YDS | 10 TD | 7.5 AVG

 

3. Dwayne Haskins | Ohio State QB | RS Sophomore | Last week: 3

It helps having so many electric playmakers on the outside, but some people expected Michigan to limit Ohio state’s offense—that didn’t happen, and Dwayne Haskins was a big reason why with his six passing touchdowns. Haskins also has a legit chance at 50 touchdowns before the Heisman voting, as he now gets to play in the Big Ten title game versus Northwestern.

 

Season stats:

68.9% | 4,003 YDS | 41 TD | 7 INT

63 ATT | 127 YDS | 4 TD | 2.0 AVG

 

4. Jonathan Taylor | Wisconsin RB | Sophomore | Last week: 4

Wisconsin lost again in what has been a very disappointing season for the program, but Jonathan Taylor had another strong showing (19 carries for 120 yards) to get him within 11 yards of 2,000 rushing yards for the year. The talented sophomore running back isn’t going to win the Heisman, but he’s had another great season to start what looks like will be one of the best careers in college football history.

 

Season stats:

280 ATT | 1,989 YDS | 15 TD | 7.1 AVG

8 REC | 60 YDS | 7.5 AVG

 

5. Gardner Minshew | Washington State QB | Senior | Last week: 5

The snowy conditions in the Apple Cup were fun to watch on television, but it led to Gardner Minshew and Washington State’s offense being grounded against a tough defense. Minshew needed a huge individual performance and a win to have a shot at winning the Heisman, but he still could get an invite to New York.

 

Season stats:

70.6% | 4,477 YDS | 36 TD | 9 INT

52 ATT | 103 YDS | 3 TD | 2.0 AVG

2018 College Football Power Rankings Week 13

2018 College Football Power Rankings Week 13

Everyone in the top ten won this week, but one team still takes a major dip in the rankings ahead of some huge rivalry games the weekend after Thanksgiving.

 

1. Alabama (11-0) | Last week: 1

That was a shocking first half for Alabama against The Citadel, but they did what most expected in the second half with a 40-7 scoring margin. Now the Crimson Tide play in the Iron Bowl as they look to remain undefeated heading into the SEC title game against Georgia. If anything, the slow start over the weekend might motivate Alabama, and we’ve seen what’s happened when Nick Saban’s squad is mad about something.

 

2. Clemson (11-0) | Last week: 2

Clemson continues to roll through the ACC, as they quickly put a slow start of their own behind them before putting up 35 unanswered points from the second quarter on. The Tigers also look to remain undefeated ahead of their conference championship game. Hopefully senior receiver Hunter Renfrow is OK after his injury suffered against Duke.

 

3. Georgia (10-1) | Last week: 3

Georgia was completely dominant versus UMass, which Justin Fields (121 passing yards, 100 rushing yards, three total touchdowns) a good amount of playing time while Jake Fromm went a perfect 5-for-5 for 104 yards and a touchdown. The Bulldogs can’t look ahead to the Crimson Tide with a matchup against Georgia Tech up this Saturday at noon ET.

 

4. Notre Dame (11-0) | Last week: 5 (+1)

It probably would’ve been more interesting if Syracuse quarterback Eric Dungey didn’t leave early with a back injury, but Notre Dame won convincingly in Yankee Stadium to get within one game of an undefeated regular season. If they can take care of business this Saturday against USC, they’ll almost certainly be included in the College Football Playoff.

 

5. Michigan (10-1) | Last week: 6 (+1)

Indiana put up a great fight in a game that was closer than the 11-point difference indicates, but Michigan defended homefield to make it ten straight wins. The Wolverines obviously must get over the hump against the Buckeyes to have a potential win-and-in scenario in the Big Ten Championship Game.

 

6. Oklahoma (10-1) | Last week: 7 (+1)

That loss by West Virginia probably hurt Oklahoma, as a win this Saturday won’t be considered as impressive for their resume, which is important to the CFB Playoff Committee. Still, the Sooners are looking to get in the Big 12 title game with a potential chance to face a Texas team that handed them their only loss of the season.

 

7. UCF (10-0) | Last week: 8 (+1)

McKenzie Milton put up four touchdowns in UCF’s big primetime victory over Cincinnati. The tough defense of the Bearcats could not contain the Knights, who have extended their nation-best winning streak to 23 games. A Black Friday matchup against a South Florida team that’s lost four straight games could be tricky, so they obviously cannot look ahead.

 

8. Washington State (10-1) | Last week: 9 (+1)

Washington State dropped 55 points in the first half against Arizona, as Mike Leach’s high-flying attack is clicking ahead of this Friday night’s big matchup against Washington. The Cougars are on the outside looking in for the Playoff, but they’ll find themselves in a New Year’s Six bowl at the very least if they keep winning games.

 

9. LSU (9-2) | Last week: 10 (+1)

LSU jumps one spot in the power rankings simply because they are playing much better football than Ohio State right now. They own a win over Georgia, with their two losses coming on the road against Florida and at home against an Alabama team that’s destroying everyone this year.

 

10. Ohio State (10-1) | Last week: 4 (-6)

We’ve been giving Ohio State the benefit of the doubt too long, but the defense clearly has major issues; they’re fortunate to have just one loss this season. But despite not looking good, the Buckeyes sit at 10-1 with a crack at their archrival with a Big Ten Championship spot on the line, which could get them right back up the rankings and into the Playoff discussion.

2018 Heisman Watch (Week 13)

2018 Heisman Watch (Week 13)

The Heisman race is heating up after some huge performances for every candidate behind favorite Tua Tagovailoa. West Virginia’s loss to Oklahoma State probably drops Will Grier out of the race.

 

1. Tua Tagovailoa | Alabama QB | Sophomore | Last week: 1

A non-blowout in the first half helped allow Tua Tagovailoa a good amount of playing time against The Citadel, though Alabama wanted their offense to get more work anyway. Tagovailoa can probably seal the Heisman with a couple of solid performances and two wins in the Iron Bowl and SEC title game the next two weekends.

 

Season stats:

69.2% | 2,865 YDS | 31 TD | 2 INT

41 ATT | 185 YDS | 4 TD | 4.5 AVG

 

2. Kyler Murray | Oklahoma QB | Senior | Last week: 2

He threw the ball well in a blowout win versus Kansas, but it was Kyler Murray’s ground game that did most of the damage to help Oklahoma get to 10-1. Murray put up 99 yards with three rushing scores on just eight carries (12.4 average), and he added a couple of passing scores to make it 44 total touchdowns on the season. Playing in the Big 12, Murray is an excellent bet to get into the 50s before the Heisman ceremony.

 

Season stats:

70.3% | 3,310 YDS | 34 TD | 6 INT

104 ATT | 739 YDS | 10 TD | 7.1 AVG

 

3. Dwayne Haskins | Ohio State QB | RS Sophomore | Last week: 3

Ohio State’s win was not pretty, but Dwayne Haskins and the offense did their part to remain alive in the College Football Playoff race. Haskins complimented the running game with his usual strong passing performance along with his best work as a runner yet (three rushing scores). If Haskins can help get the job done with an upset win over Michigan this Saturday, he’ll be right in the mix heading into conference championships.

 

Season stats:

69.3% | 3,685 YDS | 36 TD | 7 INT

56 ATT | 93 YDS | 4 TD | 1.7 AVG

 

4. Jonathan Taylor | Wisconsin RB | Sophomore | Last week: 4

The nation’s leading rusher went for 321 yards and three touchdowns in Wisconsin’s thrilling triple-overtime win against Purdue, as he basically carried the offense. Jonathan Taylor is simply a beast, and it looks like he’ll get to 2,000 yards before the Badgers’ bowl game, giving him a strong case for the Heisman.

 

Season stats:

261 ATT | 1,869 YDS | 15 TD | 7.2 AVG

7 REC | 52 YDS | 7.4 AVG

 

5. Gardner Minshew | Washington State QB | Senior | Last week: 5

Gardner Minshew led Washington State to 55 first-half points against Arizona, and they didn’t score again until 14 points in the fourth quarter; so it could’ve probably have been a bigger day for the graduate transfer quarterback if the game was close. Minshew has 39 total touchdowns this season and should get at least an invite to New York if he plays well and leads his team to a win over Washington this Friday.

 

Season stats:

70.4% | 4,325 YDS | 36 TD | 7 INT

45 ATT | 92 YDS | 3 TD | 2.0 AVG

2018 College Football Power Rankings Week 12

2018 College Football Power Rankings Week 12

With the entire top ten of the College Football Playoff rankings winning over the weekend, there’s no change in this week’s power rankings.

 

1. Alabama (10-0) | Last week: 1

Tua Tagovailoa’s knee injury remains a concern, but he’s expected to be fine moving forward, and the Crimson Tide should have an easier time protecting their quarterback this weekend against Citadel. It would obviously be one of the biggest upsets in sports history if Alabama loses this weekend, so expect them to improve to 11-0 ahead of the Iron Bowl.

 

2. Clemson (10-0) | Last week: 2

Aside from a surprising lapse in coverage on a great punt return touchdown by Michael Walker, Clemson allowed no points against Boston College in an absolutely dominant defensive performance. The offense led by Trevor Lawrence is also extremely potent with a bunch of talent surrounding the freshman phenom quarterback. Clemson now returns south for a couple of home games to finish their regular season.

 

3. Georgia (9-1) | Last week: 3

After combining for 271 rushing yards two weeks ago, D’Andre Swift and Elijah Holyfield followed it up with 279 rushing yards (including a career-high 186 yards by Swift) in a tough matchup with Auburn. Jake Fromm isn’t putting up monster numbers, but he continues to play very well with No. 1 recruit Justin Field behind him and getting some playing time for the Bulldogs.

 

4. Ohio State (9-1) | Last week: 4

Special teams and defense keyed Ohio State’s 26-6 victory against Michigan State in East Lansing, and they separated with 17 fourth-quarter points to improve to 9-1. The Buckeyes are surprisingly flying under the radar because they haven’t been dominant this season, but they’ll look to take care of business this Saturday against Maryland before facing Michigan.

 

5. Notre Dame (10-0) | Last week: 5

Florida State is getting destroyed by everyone this season, so it was a good sign that Notre Dame did the same at home. The Fighting Irish stay home to face a hot Syracuse team, so hopefully they have starting quarterback Ian Book (ribs) back in the lineup. Either way, look for Brian Kelly’s squad to rely on Dexter Williams, who had 202 yards and two touchdowns to help the team get to 10-0.

 

6. Michigan (9-1) | Last week: 6

It wasn’t quite as dominant as expected, but Michigan took care of Rutgers by 35 points on the road, and now they just need to avoid falling to Indiana in a potential trap game with Ohio State coming up the Saturday after Thanksgiving. The defense has given up just seven points in each of the past three games.

 

7. Oklahoma (9-1) | Last week: 7

Oklahoma’s defense doesn’t inspire much confidence, but the offense is putting up nearly 50 points per game, which should keep them in most contests. The Sooners also need to avoid looking past Kansas with a huge Big 12 matchup up next when they face West Virginia in a couple weeks. A dominant defensive showing this weekend would be a positive sign.

 

8. UCF (9-0) | Last week: 8

A quick start by McKenzie Milton and the Knights helped spring a 35-24 victory over Navy, extending UCF’s winning streak to an astonishing 22 games. UCF just needs to keep winning games and ignore the CFP rankings.

 

9. Washington State (9-1) | Last week: 9

After falling behind 7-0, Washington State outscored Colorado 31-0 in the final three quarters of the game. Graduate transfer Gardner Minshew continues to play great quarterback to lead the Cougars offense, while the defense has allowed just 20 points in the last two weeks.

 

10. LSU (8-2) | Last week: 10

Arizona made it close with 14 fourth-quarter points, but LSU bounced back from their disappointing loss to Alabama to improve to 8-2. The Tigers aren’t so good that they can just look past an opponent, but they should be able to handle Rice on Saturday before closing out the regular season against Texas A&M. It’s interesting the committee thinks so highly of LSU despite two losses this season.

2018 Heisman Watch (Week 12)

2018 Heisman Watch (Week 12)

The 2018 Heisman Trophy presentation is less than a month away. With Tua Tagovailoa continuing to be limited by his knee injury, the Heisman race appears to be more wide-open than it has been.

 

1. Tua Tagovailoa | Alabama QB | Sophomore | Last week: 1

However, despite being limited with the knee issue, Alabama’s quarterback still leads the Heisman race with a few weeks to go before the race comes to a close. Mississippi State gave Tagovailoa more trouble than anyone else to this point, but it was still a solid showing for the sophomore—and his interception was probably caused by the knee giving him trouble

 

Season stats:

67.9% | 2,525 YDS | 28 TD | 2 INT

37 ATT | 148 YDS | 3 TD | 4.0 AVG

 

2. Kyler Murray | Oklahoma QB | Senior | Last week: 2

The running game did most of the damage finishing off drives for the Sooners in their Bedlam win over Oklahoma State, but Kyler Murray played well both as a passer (21/29, 349 yards, touchdown) and a runner (14 carries, 66 yards). Oklahoma scored 48 points in the game, which actually brought down the scoring average for the Murray-led No. 3 scoring offense in the nation.

 

Season stats:

70.9% | 3,038 YDS | 32 TD | 5 INT

96 ATT | 640 YDS | 7 TD | 6.7 AVG

 

3. Dwayne Haskins | Ohio State QB | RS Sophomore | Last week: 3

It was a defensive battle against Michigan State, but Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins played well and put up solid numbers in the Buckeyes’ win. He had -11 rushing yards, but he continues to put up passing numbers and has already thrown the most pass attempts in a season in Ohio State history.

 

Season stats:

68.9% | 3,280 YDS | 33 TD | 6 INT

41 ATT | 38 YDS | 1 TD | 0.8 AVG

 

4. Jonathan Taylor | Wisconsin RB | Sophomore | Last week: 4

Wisconsin’s passing game couldn’t get anything going without starter Alex Hornibrook, so Jonathan Taylor basically carried the offense against Penn State. The nation’s leading rusher broke a 71-yard touchdown run and put up 185 yards despite the Nittany Lions clearly trying to shut him down. Despite a disappointing season for Wisconsin, Taylor remains one of the top Heisman candidates.

 

Season stats:

228 ATT | 1,548 YDS | 12 TD | 6.8 AVG

7 REC | 52 YDS | 7.4 AVG

 

5. Gardner Minshew | Washington State QB | Senior | Last week: NR

Gardner Minshew probably loves his decision to go to Washington State, as Mike Leach allows him to continue slinging the ball around. Minshew threw the ball 58 times in Washington State’s rout of Colorado, and he’s now up over 30 total touchdowns this season.

 

Season stats:

69.6% | 3,852 YDS | 29 TD | 7 INT

41 ATT | 86 YDS | 3 TD | 2.1 AVG

2018 College Football Power Rankings Week 11

2018 College Football Power Rankings Week 11

Notre Dame remains undefeated, but they are still just outside the top four of our college football power rankings entering the second weekend of November.

 

1. Alabama (9-0) | Last week: 1

It was obvious from the way Alabama played and from Nick Saban’s comments after the game that the Crimson Tide did not feel they were getting the respect they deserve—mostly because the talk of them not playing any tough competition on the schedule. The win in Baton Rouge clinched another SEC West title for Alabama, and they are firmly in the driver’s seat to make the College Football Playoff.

 

2. Clemson (9-0) | Last week: 2

Clemson has two 60-point wins this season, which shows how dominant they’ve been in the ACC. Trevor Lawrence, Travis Etienne, and the offense is on-fire, and they might be able to go toe-to-toe with Alabama’s offense. Boston College could be tricky this weekend, but Clemson is a heavy favorite and is likely to remain unbeaten.

 

3. Georgia (8-1) | Last week: 4 (+1)

Jake Fromm played well again, but the running back duo of D’Andre Swift and Elijah Holyfield (combined 271 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns) carried the load in Georgia’s big road win against Kentucky. The Bulldogs will see Alabama in the SEC title game as SEC East champions, but they can’t look past their next three opponents starting this Sunday against Auburn.

 

4. Ohio State (8-1) | Last week: 5 (+1)

Obviously, the defense of Ohio State is a concern after the team struggled to contain two-win Nebraska despite a bye week to prepare for Scott Frost’s offense. And their own offense didn’t look very sharp despite putting up 36 points. However, the Buckeyes should be in a position to get into the Playoff if they can win out.

 

5. Notre Dame (9-0) | Last week: 6 (+1)

Northwestern made it interesting for most of the game against Notre Dame, but the Fighting Irish separated with a big touchdown drive late in the fourth to make it a two-possession game as they remain undefeated. Notre Dame’s win against Michigan—paired with a potential flawless regular season—has them in a great position for the Playoff.

 

6. Michigan (8-1) | Last week: 7 (+1)

Michigan’s revenge tour ended with a convincing rout of Penn State, eliminating the Nittany Lions from the Playoff discussion completely. Quarterback Shea Patterson continues to look comfortable in Jim Harbaugh’s offense, and the Wolverine’s defense continues to play exceptionally well. In terms of just how teams are playing right now, Michigan might be right behind Alabama and Clemson.

 

7. Oklahoma (8-1) | Last week: 8 (+1)

The defense clearly remains a concern, but the offense puts up crooked numbers every week, keeping them in most games. Kyler Murray played great after a couple of early turnovers, but Trey Sermon (206 yards, three touchdowns) was the key to Oklahoma’s offense against Texas Tech. The Sooners must survive the Bedlam game this weekend.

 

8. UCF (8-0) | Last week: 9 (+1)

Giving up over 700 yards to Temple isn’t a good sign for a team that wants to be in the top four, but UCF still got the win last week to improve to 8-0 and extend the program’s winning streak to 21 games. The Knights just need to keep winning and hope they’re given a shot by the committee at the end of the season.

 

9. Washington State (8-1) | Last week: 10 (+1)

Mike Leach’s offense can put up a ton of points, but Washington State picking up a tough win against California shows they’re a complete team. If they continue winning and claim a Pac-12 regular and post-season title at the end of the season, they’ll be squarely in the mix for a Playoff spot.

 

10. LSU (7-2) | Last week: 3 (-7)

That was a disappointing loss for the Tigers in Baton Rouge, but they ran into a supremely-talented team. Still, LSU has had a very good season and belongs in the top ten. West Virginia is right behind them and has a chance to vault up the rankings with a big end-of-season schedule.

2018 Heisman Watch (Week 11)

2018 Heisman Watch (Week 11)

A hobbled Trace McSorley falls out of the Heisman Watch top five after Penn State’s blowout loss to Michigan. Tua Tagovailoa still leads the way after Alabama rolled against LSU.

 

1. Tua Tagovailoa | Alabama QB | Sophomore | Last week: 1

Tua Tagovailoa threw his first interception of the season against LSU, but it didn’t seem to affect him one bit. The sophomore quarterback could probably have at least 40 touchdowns if Alabama wasn’t so dominant as a team. But the leader—playing at an extremely high level—of the No. 1 team is always going to be a top Heisman candidate.

 

Season stats:

68.0% | 2,361 | 27 TD | 1 INT

29 ATT | 172 YDS | 3 TD | 5.9 AVG

 

2. Kyler Murray | Oklahoma QB | Senior | Last week: 2

Two first-quarter interceptions wasn’t a great start for Kyler Murray, but he bounced back with four total touchdowns to lead Oklahoma to 51 points in a shootout win over Texas Tech. With three regular season Big 12 matchups remaining, Murray should put up more crazy numbers versus subpar defenses.

 

Season stats:

70.6% | 2,689 YDS | 31 TD | 5 INT

82 ATT | 574 YDS | 7 TD | 7.0 AVG

 

3. Dwayne Haskins | Ohio State QB | RS Sophomore | Last week: 3

Dwayne Haskins threw a bad red-zone interception that appeared to draw the ire of offensive coordinator Ryan Day, and his accuracy wasn’t quite as sharp as usual, but overall it was another strong day for the Buckeye quarterback against Nebraska. Haskins remains in the mix for college football’s most prestigious individual honor.

 

Season stats:

69.7% | 3,053 YDS | 32 TD | 6 INT

38 ATT | 45 YDS | 1 TD | 1.2 AVG

 

4. Jonathan Taylor | Wisconsin RB | Sophomore | Last week: 4

After getting contained by Northwestern a couple weeks ago, Jonathan Taylor bounced back with 208 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Badgers to a win at Rutgers. The great sophomore running back leads the Big Ten in rushing by 400 yards.

 

Season stats:

208 ATT | 1,363 YDS | 11 TD | 6.6 AVG

7 REC | 52 YDS | 7.4 AVG

 

5. Gardner Minshew | Washington State QB | Senior | Last week: NR

Will Grier is right behind Gardner Minshew for the final spot in the Heisman Watch, but Minshew gets the slight edge for putting up similar numbers while not playing in the Big 12. The former East Carolina quarterback has been really good after just joining Mike Leach’s offense. He’s making a strong case to be invited to New York as a Heisman finalist.

 

Season stats:

70.8% | 3,517 YDS | 27 TD | 7 INT

35 ATT | 60 YDS | 2 TD | 1.7 AVG

2018 College Football Playoff: “Trick” Or “Treat”?

2018 College Football Playoff: “Trick” Or “Treat”?

In honor of Halloween and the release of last night’s initial 2018 College Football Playoff rankings, it’s time to play “trick” or “treat” for the teams ranked in the top ten. A “trick” or a “treat” is determined by whether the team is a legitimate threat to win the national title. Of course, any of these teams could go on a run and win it all, so feel free to share your thoughts below. Please note that just because a team is classified as a “trick” doesn’t mean they’re a bad team or bad program. The cutoff to make it as a “treat” is tough—there are six of them.

 

No. 1 Alabama: Treat

I’m not sure how much candy the Crimson Tide players are eating, but the squad is obviously a Treat. They’ve only played eight games and haven’t even played (or gotten to) the SEC Championship yet, but this might end up being Nick Saban’s best team. Alabama is the favorite to hoist another national championship trophy.

 

No. 2 Clemson: Treat

Even those that had been hard on Dabo Swinney’s team over the years for whatever reason cannot deny that Clemson has become a powerhouse that’s a good bet to be in the Playoff every year. The Tigers are most definitely a Treat, and they probably have the best chance of any team to make the Playoff this season, given their upcoming schedule compared to Alabama’s.

 

No. 3 LSU: Treat

It’ll probably take a win this Saturday night to remain a Treat, but LSU has shown are no Trick with wins over Georgia, Mississippi State, and Auburn when Auburn was still highly-ranked. There’s a reason the committee put them at No. 3 in the rankings. Joe Burrow is probably the key for the Tigers this weekend and beyond.

 

No. 4 Notre Dame: Trick

Again, this is based off legitimacy as a title contender. If it was based off chances of making the College Football Playoff, Notre Dame would be a Treat. They should finish the regular season undefeated and might then end up getting the nod as one of the four teams in the playoff field, but do they really have a good chance of knocking off teams like Alabama, Clemson, LSU, and Georgia in consecutive games? Notre Dame is a Trick.

 

No. 5 Michigan: Treat

While Michigan suffered a home loss to Notre Dame to open the season, they are still considered a Treat over the Fighting Irish. Defense is the main reason why the Wolverines are a Treat, as the unit is allowing just 220.0 total yards per game and 3.71 yards per play, leading the nation in both categories. And transfer quarterback Shea Patterson has settled in since that opening game; Michigan would probably be favored in a second matchup with Notre Dame.

 

No. 6 Georgia: Treat

They lost to LSU on the road, but if you were to line up every team in the nation, there’s a legit argument for Georgia being right up there with Alabama and Clemson at the top. Quarterback Jake Fromm played free in a great win in the Florida-Georgia game, and the Bulldogs will be tough to beat if their leader is on his game. Georgia is without question a Treat.

 

No. 7 Oklahoma: Trick

The Sooners are right up in the Playoff discussion despite their loss to Texas a few weeks ago, but they are a Trick because of the defense. It’s gotten better since the Texas loss, but it’ll probably struggle matched up against teams like Alabama and Clemson. Like Notre Dame, they might make the Playoff, but they are a Trick as a legit title contender—despite Kyler Murray and the electric offense.

 

No. 8 Washington State: Trick

This was a tough one, as Washington State has been better than many people think on defense, and Mike Leach’s offense can put up points with graduate transfer Gardner Minshew leading the way. However, the Cougars might not even make the Playoff because of the conference they play in; and even if they make it, topping the likes of Alabama will be difficult.

 

No. 9 Kentucky: Trick

Kentucky immediately has a chance to prove their Trick designation wrong this Saturday when they take on Georgia. You have to admire the fight the Wildcats showed in their comeback victory last week against Missouri, and they should not be counted out. But they probably don’t have quite enough firepower to take out top-tier teams in consecutive games this winter.

 

No. 10 Ohio State: Treat

Urban Meyer’s team needs to get some things figured out and had the bye week to do so, but they do have the firepower to make a run if everything is clicking. The Buckeyes are not a team that would be taken lightly in a Playoff, as they have plenty of talent on both sides of the ball with one of the nation’s best coaches leading them. Ohio State is a Treat as they look to climb up from the No. 10 ranking and into the top four.

2018 College Football Power Rankings Week 10

2018 College Football Power Rankings Week 10

The initial College Football Playoff rankings release Tuesday night, and we believe it’s clear who the top four teams should be.

 

1. Alabama (8-0) | Last week: 1

After their bye week, Alabama faces what is likely their toughest test of the regular as they go to Death Valley to face LSU at night. It’s going to be a must-watch game for college football fans, and it’ll be interesting to see how Tua Tagovailoa does against a Tiger defense giving up less than 200 passing yards per game.

 

2. Clemson (8-0) | Last week: 2

A rivalry game did not stop Clemson, who rolled to a 59-10 win over Florida State in Tallahassee. Trevor Lawrence’s great ability was on display, and they’re tough to beat when the freshman phenom plays that well. The Tigers have three of their last four games at home to end the regular season.

 

3. LSU (7-1) | Last week: 3

Like Alabama, LSU is coming off a bye week for their biggest remaining matchup of the regular season. A home win for the Tigers would mean they have an excellent chance of being in the SEC title game, which will certainly be a play-in College Football Playoff game. Quarterback Joe Burrows is probably the key to an LSU victory on Saturday night.

 

4. Georgia (7-1) | Last week: 4

Jake Fromm showed why he’s going to eventually be a very high pick in the NFL Draft whenever he’s done leading the Bulldogs, as he had a major bounce-back effort to lead Georgia over a huge win in the Florida-Georgia game after the team’s loss to LSU a couple weeks ago. Georgia must keep it going in a potential top-ten matchup with Kentucky this Saturday afternoon.

 

5. Ohio State (7-1) | Last week: 5

The bye week should have given this talented Ohio State team time to get it together and stop allowing the big plays defensively. Scott Frost’s Cornhuskers could potentially create some problems with their offense, but the Buckeyes shouldn’t have much trouble with a team still getting their footing under a new head coach. Ohio State can certainly climb back near the top of the Playoff discussion.

 

6. Notre Dame (8-0) | Last week: 6

Notre Dame took care of business against Navy in what could have been a tough game in San Diego—it’s a good sign for the Fighting Irish moving forward. They have a great chance to be 12-0 at the end of the regular season, and they’ll likely be in the top four for the first rankings released by the Committee on Tuesday night. But we don’t think they belong in there over Alabama, Clemson, LSU, and Georgia.

 

7. Michigan (7-1) | Last week: 7

The bye week came at a good time for Michigan as they’re preparing to face one of the best players in the country in Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley. This is the toughest remaining road test of the season for the Wolverines, who lost last season to the Nittany Lions but won in a blowout in Happy Valley two seasons ago.

 

8. Oklahoma (7-1) | Last week: 10 (+2)

The loss by Texas was huge for Oklahoma, as the Sooners are likely to be the highest-ranked Big 12 team in the initial Playoff rankings. The defense has given up point totals of 27 and 14 the last two weeks, so they appear to be getting better there, but this weekend against Texas Tech could be a big test.

 

9. UCF (7-0) | Last week: NR

UCF certainly could have been here a lot sooner than this, and it’ll be interesting to see where they are ranked tomorrow night. They’ll need some help, but the Knights have a legitimate shot to work their way into the top four if they remain undefeated through the end of the season.

 

10. Washington State (7-1) | Last week: NR

Washington State could be leapfrogged by teams like Kentucky, Penn State, and West Virginia moving forward, but Mike Leach’s squad keeps racking up wins in the Pac-12. There are only a few weeks left in the season, but there could be a lot of craziness with the Cougars right in the middle of it down the stretch.

2018 Heisman Watch (Week 10)

2018 Heisman Watch (Week 10)

Despite a bye week, Tua Tagovailoa moves up one spot in the Heisman rankings as the calendar turns from October to November.

 

1. Tua Tagovailoa | Alabama QB | Sophomore | Last week: 2

Tua Tagovailoa had a week to get his knee closer to 100% ahead of Saturday night’s huge matchup at LSU under the lights. A big performance by the sophomore quarterback could lead to him being the clear Heisman favorite with a few weeks to go in the season.

 

Season stats:

70.4% | 2,066 YDS | 25 TD

26 ATT | 123 YDS | 2 TD | 4.7 AVG

 

2. Kyler Murray | Oklahoma QB | Senior | Last week: 4

The loss to Texas earlier this season obviously hurt, but Kyler Murray has climbed back up to the No. 2 spot in the Heisman rankings with the Sooners looking good. Murray continues to put up massive numbers while leading Lincoln Riley’s offense, and his chances for the prestigious award will likely come down to the success of his team.

 

Season stats:

73.2% | 2,329 | 28 TD | 3 INT

71 ATT | 474 YDS | 6 TD | 6.7 AVG

 

3. Dwayne Haskins | Ohio State QB | RS Sophomore | Last week: 2

Dwayne Haskins has a lot of football in front of him as he looks to become another Heisman Trophy winner for the Buckeyes. Haskins will look to put up big numbers against Nebraska this weekend, and it could be the best stat line of the season as Ohio State looks to make a statement after getting blown out by Purdue a couple weeks ago.

 

Season stats:

71.1% | 2,801 YDS | 30 TD | 5 INT

35 ATT | 56 YDS | 1 TD | 1.6 AVG

 

4. Jonathan Taylor | Wisconsin RB | Sophomore | Last week: 1

Jonathan Taylor surprisingly received just 11 carries against Northwestern, as he gained 46 yards in his first game of the season without 100 yards. It’s obviously a huge blow to Taylor’s Heisman candidacy with the Badgers losing their third game of the season.

 

Season stats:

181 ATT | 1,155 YDS | 8 TD | 6.4 AVG

6 REC | 22 YDS | 3.2 AVG

 

5. Trace McSorley | Penn State QB | RS Senior | Last week: 5

It was a scary situation for Trace McSorley and Penn State when the senior quarterback suffered a leg injury against Iowa, but he thankfully returned and again came up clutch for the Nittany Lions. McSorley. This Saturday versus Michigan might be McSorley’s last chance to make a major Heisman statement this season.

 

Season stats:

53.0% | 1,629 YDS | 12 TD | 4 INT

110 ATT | 617 YDS | 9 TD | 5.6 AVG