9 things we learned about college football this weekend

Heisman race after Week 11: Now it’s getting interesting

Who are the leaders in the race for the 2018 Heisman Trophy?

So who’s really in the lead? How would the race go if the season ended right now? After Week 11, combining big stats and big performances on the big stage, here we go …

5 Players Who Deserve Also Receiving Votes Love …

In alphabetical order …

QB Eric Dungey, Syracuse

QB Sam Ehlinger, Texas

QB Jake Fromm, Georgia

QB McKenzie Milton, UCF

RB Dexter Williams, Notre Dame

5. QB Dwayne Haskins, Ohio State

He’s suffering from the team being so underwhelming.

The Buckeyes might not be doing anything amazing – other than getting to 9-1 and being deep in the hunt for the Big Ten Championship and the College Football Playoff – but Haskins continues to be amazing.

Ho-hum. He just dealt with one of the nation’s top defenses and threw for 227 yards and a score in the win over Michigan State. The key was not screwing up. The Spartans needed Buckeye mistakes to pull off the win, and they didn’t come.

Even after failing to hit 300 yards in either of the last two games, Haskins is still third in the nation in total passing yards, throwing for 3,280 with 33 touchdowns and six touchdowns.

If he’s able to blow through Maryland, Michigan, and Northwestern for a Big Ten title, he’s going to New York.

4. QB Will Grier, West Virginia

This might be the season of Tua and Kyler, but Tagovailoa’s Heisman stock might be falling a wee bit because of his knee injury, and Grier is getting at least one shot at Murray to make his statement.

Third in the nation in passing efficiency, it’s not even close. He’s on an island, currently way ahead of Notre Dame’s Ian Book, and behind Tagovailoa, completing 69% of his throws for 329 yards per game with 31 touchdowns and eight picks.

Not only does he have his signature moment – the finish against Texas – but he’s having his best run of the season when the team needs him the most.

Since the loss to Iowa State, he has cranked out three touchdown passes in each of the last three games, with well over 1,000 yards and just one pick.

And here go with the stat-sheet fillers with Oklahoma State and Oklahoma up next. Win those two, get to the Big 12 Championship, and earn a spot among the Heisman finalists.

3. QB Gardner Minshew, Washington State 

The one big knock is that no one outside of the Pac-12 world is seeing him play. That’s a shame considering he’s the nation’s leading passer by a mile.

Ole Miss QB Jordan Ta’amu is averaging 337.4 yards per game. Alan Bowman of Texas Tech is averaging 329.8, and West Virginia’s Will Grier is averaging 329.

Minshew? 385.2 yards per game.

Since 2010, only four quarterbacks finished a season averaging more yards per game. Houston’s Case Keenum in 2011, Fresno State’s Derek Carr in 2013, Connor Halliday for Wazzu in 2014, and some Patrick Mahomes guy for Texas Tech in 2016.

Brilliant, the 319 yards he threw for in the opener against Wyoming represented the low mark for the season. On the year, he’s hitting 70% of his passes for 3,852 yards and 29 touchdowns with seven picks.

Best of all, Wazzu keeps on winning. On a six-game run since the loss to USC, the Cougars are just two wins away – Arizona and Washington – from playing for the Pac-12 title.

Full List

By: Pete Fiutak

How Ohio State Is Prepping For The Playoff


Written by Mitch Stacy at NCAA.com

Whether Ohio State can beat Clemson in the College Football Playoff next week could depend on which version of the inconsistent Buckeyes offense shows up to play in the desert.

Will it be the score-at-will unit that averaged more than 53 points through the first five games and blew away Nebraska and Maryland 62-3 on back-to-back Saturdays in November?

Or the bunch that bumbled to an upset loss at Penn State, and looked nearly as off-kilter in narrow wins over Northwestern and Michigan State, with spotty pass protection, receivers who can’t get open and J.T. Barrett running for his life?

Much of that will be determined by Barrett and whether he can help shore up the Buckeyes’ uneven aerial attack and complete passes down the field against a Clemson defense with four All-ACC first-teamers. He and his receivers say that’s been a large part of the focus in practices leading up to the Dec. 31 Fiesta Bowl.

“What I see from J.T. is he’s got his head down and he’s going to work,” wide receiver Noah Brown said. “He knows what he needs to work on, and he knows what we need to work on.”

Barrett’s supporting cast included a 1,000-yard rusher in freshman Mike Weber, All-American hybrid back Curtis Samuel and one of the best defenses in college football.Make no mistake, Ohio State (11-1, No. 3 CFP) is in the national playoff because of Barrett, the unflappable Texan who’s never the fastest guy on the field and doesn’t have the best arm but time after time put the team on his back and found a way to win. The fourth-year junior has lost only three times as Ohio State’s starting quarterback.

But the glaring weakness is the passing game: Receivers struggled to get open, Barrett could be tentative pulling the trigger and pass protection was leaky. Barrett was sacked a half dozen times in the Penn State loss. In the double-overtime win against Michigan, he was flattened eight times and didn’t complete a pass over 16 yards. A reliable deep threat never did emerge this season from a promising pool of wide receivers.

Ohio State contends it can be fixed by bowl time.

“We’re putting a lot more emphasis on the passing game to continue to develop that, both in protection and routes and quarterback play,” said co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Tim Beck. “I like what I see.”

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Reaction From New College Football Rankings.


Written by George Schroeder at USAToday.com

We begin with the requisite public service announcement. We’re inching closer to the final set of College Football Playoff rankings — or the only poll that matters. By the selection committee’s own admission, they’re all meaningless until then. Unless, of course, the goal is to rile up everybody (or as they would put it, helping to drive the conversation about college football).

But even these preliminary rankings provide a window into the collective thinking of the committee.

We get a chance each week to see some of the factors that will matter on Dec. 4, when they produce that final Top 25, looking at complete bodies of work, applying the various tie-breakers if and when warranted, and setting the four-team field for the Playoff.

Each week’s ranking inevitably raises some questions. We’ll answer a few of them.

What should the rankings have been?

1. Alabama

2. A Win is a Win

3. OK With That

4. This is fine

5. In Good Shape

6. Just Win

7. Angry About No. 2

8. Nightmares About No. 2

9. We’re No. 9? We’re No. 9!

10. A Loss is a Win, Too

Why is Ohio State ranked so far ahead of Penn State, and would it stay that way if Penn State won the Big Ten?

It’s clear the selection committee thinks Ohio State is a no-doubt No. 2. Although Penn State beat the Buckeyes, the teams’ résumés remain dissimilar (starting with records: Ohio State is 10-1, Penn State is 9-2).

“Does the selection committee see a small margin of separation this week between No. 2 Ohio State and No. 7 Penn State? We do not,” committee chairman Kirby Hocuttsaid.

Fair enough. But what happens if Penn State wins the Big Ten East (which happens if the Nittany Lions beat Michigan State and Ohio State beats Michigan this weekend) and then the Big Ten championship?

The committee would presumably be no less impressed with Ohio State, which would have beaten the team ranked No. 3 this week. But Penn State would be 11-2, with two supposedly important factors: a head-to-head win against Ohio State and a conference championship. Maybe the committee would decide both Big Ten teams deserved to be in the Playoff. But if there was room only for one? Hmmm.

All of which means some committee members might be very, very tempted to pull very hard for Michigan this week. A win against Ohio State would scuttle a potential controversy.

What about USC?

The trendy thing, at least on Tuesday, was to pose this question: Which team would you least like to play? The answer from many: Southern California. The Trojans have rebounded from a very rough start to win seven in a row. They’re clearly very talented, and after a change at quarterback, they’ve seemingly grown more formidable each week.

Put them in the Pac-12 championship (they’d need Utah to beat Colorado), watch them win the league and — well, what if?

Sorry, you can’t wash away those three losses (including a 52-6 loss to Alabama in the opener). These teams only play 12 or 13 games. The eye test is very important. But so is the actual body of work, the games you played and won or lost.

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Week 10 CFB Picks


Written by Bud Elliot at SBNation.com

Season record: 105-117.

Welp, 12 games under .500 on the year won’t get it done. 10-27 on the year in wagers decided by a field goal or less is pure bad luck, and if I could just get neutral luck in those situations, I’d be above even. My wins have been by an average of 14.6 points, and my losses have come by an average of 10.4. I’ll keep firing.

Week 10 is sneaky good. With only two games featuring ranked teams playing other ranked teams, you might be tempted to do something with your time during the day until the night games start. But there are six more games featuring ranked teams favored by less than a touchdown, and another three featuring ranked teams favored by less than two touchdowns. There is a strong chance that a third or fourth of ranked teams go down this weekend. That’s drama.

In the ACC, I am excited to see if North Carolina and Virginia Tech can hold serve against Georgia Tech and Duke, respectively, as the Tar Heels and Hokies try to hold serve in the ACC Coastal race.

And if Florida defeats Arkansas, it will lock up the SEC East barring a home loss to South Carolina. I am also weirdly interested in Georgia at Kentucky. With games left against Kentucky, Auburn, and Georgia Tech, UGA is not a lock to make a bowl game.

Wednesday

1. Toledo -9 at Akron: Both teams are off disappointing upset losses, but Toledo has the better track record.

Thursday

2. Arkansas State at Georgia State +3.5: I backed Arkansas State last week, but did not expect the Red Wolves to be a road favorite here. I’ll take the points in a game I handicapped as a pick ’em.

3. Oklahoma at Iowa State +21.5: Oklahoma has a big game on deck with Baylor coming to Norman. Will it fall into the look-ahead trap?

4. UCLA at Colorado -11: Both teams are off a bye. Colorado has a large coaching advantage.

Friday

5. Central Michigan at Miami (OH) +4: I thought the Redhawks should be a short home favorite, so I’ll gladly take the points.

6. Temple -10 at UConn: I made this number 14, even on the road, as UConn is in a free fall. The Huskies have not scored 30 points in a game this year.

7. San Jose State at Boise State -28.5: A loss to Wyoming creates some value on Boise State. Had the Broncos not lost on a safety, this line would likely be north of 30.

Saturday

8. Alabama -7.5 at LSU: Alabama is very public, which is scary. But the Tide’s defensive front should be able to control LSU’s run game enough to pull away. The two defenses against which LSU’s offense has been rejuvenated under Ed Orgeron (Missouri and Ole Miss) have been awful of late.

9. Nebraska at Ohio State -16.5: Back-to-back tough road games for Nebraska is not a good route when the second leg is the Buckeyes.

10. Oregon +17 at USC: I have been on the USC bandwagon of late, but this is a lot of points in what figures to be a shootout.

11. Florida State at NC State +6: Jimbo Fisher’s teams on the road without Jameis Winston have not been reliable. NC State lost in an obvious letdown (Louisville loss) and look-ahead (FSU on deck) situation last week. This week, it is FSU that is in an obvious letdown spot.

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Ohio State Is Shocked by Penn State


Written by Bill Landis at Cleveland.com

Even when Ohio State has struggled under Urban Meyer, you more often than not felt comfortable that the Buckeyes would end up making the play they would need to win.

It didn’t happen on Saturday night at Penn State.

J.T. Barrett was sacked on fourth-and-23 in the final minute, and the Nittany Lions handed the No. 2 Buckeyes a 24-21 loss in front of 107,280 fans in Beaver Stadium.

Put in a position to drive 89 yards for at least a game-tying field goal, Barrett did all he could with poor pass protection, connecting on a pair of third-down throws to Curtis Samuel and Dontre Wilson to keep the drive alive. But on 3rd-and-10, Penn State linebacker Jason Cabinda came off the right edge to bring Barrett down for the fifth time on the night.

That set up the nearly impossible fourth-down conversion that handed Ohio State just its second regular season Big Ten loss under Urban Meyer.

Barrett finished 28-of-43 for 245 yards and a touchdown. Ohio State (6-1, 3-1 Big Ten) outgained Penn State 413-276 in total offense, but Penn State made the decisive plays to win the game.

Special teams blunders finally caught up to Ohio State in the fourth quarter. Marcus Allen blocked a 45-yard Tyler Durbin field goal attempt that was returned 60 yards by Grant Haley for a touchdown that gave Penn State a 24-21 lead with 4:27 left.

Another miscue allowed Penn State back in the game earlier in the quarter. A blocked punt put Ohio State’s defense on a short field, but the Buckeyes limited Penn State to a field goal that cut their lead to 21-17 with 9:33 left. That came after Penn State went 90 yards on five plays, including a 37-yard run by Saquon Barkley, to cut the Buckeyes’ lead to 21-14 on a two-yard Trace McSorley run with 13:32 left.

Penn State outscored Ohio State 17-0 in the fourth quarter.

What it means

A rare loss for Ohio State under Meyer, who is now 56-5 as the head coach of the Buckeyes. Ohio State can still win the Big Ten East Division if it wins out, including a win over Michigan on Nov. 26.

Why no Samuel?

Urban Meyer has routinely labeled Curtis Samuel Ohio State’s best offensive playmaker. And for the second time in three games he was largely absent from the gameplan.

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Week 7 CFB Picks


Written by Bud Elliott at SB Nation.com

I would say my luck is beginning to turn a bit, but it hasn’t. I’ve just made better picks. I am still 6-17 in spreads decided by a field goal or less. On average, my wins have been by 35 percent more than my losses ( 14 to 10.4).

After a horrible 33-51 start, I am 35-21 in my last two weeks. If you quit following me or started to fade me after that start, I can’t say that I blame you.

While this week might not be the most fun to watch, remember that bets pay the same, regardless of whether the game is on ESPN or ESPN3.

Wednesday

1. Appalachian State at Louisiana Lafayette +10.5: Lafayette’s rush defense is much better than its pass defense, which matches up well with the strengths of ASU.

Friday

2. Duke at Louisville -34: Duke’s offense is really awful, which should give Louisville many chances to score.

3. Mississippi State at BYU -7: Mississippi State’s offense is really bad, and this is an awkwardly timed road trip.

4. San Diego State -16.5 at Fresno State: I successfully backed Fresno State last week, but this line should be 5-7 points higher, as Fresno State’s rushing defense is poor.

Saturday

5. Ohio State -10 at Wisconsin: Wisconsin has a salty defense, but has faced nothing but pro-style offenses so far in LSU, Michigan State, and Michigan. Ohio State is a different animal. Also, the Badgers’ offense is awful.

6. Alabama -12 at Tennessee: I have successfully bet on or against Tennessee four times this season. Here’s one for the thumb. Alabama will make Josh Dobbs throw the football less efficiently than Georgia or Texas A&M did.

7. North Carolina +7 at Miami: Miami was beaten up last week, and North Carolina should bounce back on offense in better conditions.

8. Ole Miss -7 at Arkansas: Arkansas has allowed a combined 1,680 yards on 200 plays to TCU, Alabama, and Texas A&M. That is an astounding 8.4 yards/play. Ole Miss is off a bye week.

9. Eastern Michigan +7.5 at Ohio: Eastern Michigan is merely bad, not awful, which is a change from the norm.

10. Ball State -10 at Buffalo: One of the important things in wagering is knowing good from great. But it’s also important to know bad from awful. Sometimes the latter is tougher. Ball State is bad; Buffalo is awful.

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Reranking 2013 NCAAF Recruiting Class

Written by Andy Staples at CampusRush.com

While most coaches lie when they say they don’t care about recruiting rankings, they are absolutely correct when they say recruits need a chance to play at the college level before a cycle’s classes can be accurately ranked. So, since 2009, we’ve re-ranked the recruiting classes from three years earlier. Why three years and not four? This exercise is a lot more fun when most of the players have another year or two left in college. In this edition of Punt, Pass & Pork, we’ll revisit the class of ’13.

Unfortunately, this method gives short shrift to certain teams. You won’t find Michigan State on this list even though the Spartans have had one of the nation’s best programs since 2010. Michigan State has been so good at developing players that most don’t shine until their fourth or fifth years on campus. Sorry, Spartans. You’ll have to comfort yourself with all those wins and those two Big Ten titles in the last three seasons. TCU finds itself in a similar situation. So does Baylor, but given the uptick in those programs’ recruiting since they began to find success in the Big 12, don’t be shocked if they begin making this list with regularity as more talented youngsters make bigger early impacts.

Also, quirky roster situations affect these rankings. Stanford’s 2013 recruiting class produced only five major contributors to the team’s Pac-12 title last season, but that total is quite impressive considering the fact that the Cardinal signed only 12 players in ’13 because that’s how many scholarships the program had available. (Insert your own SEC West oversigning joke here.) Florida State also didn’t make the list because apart from a few standouts such as defensive back Jalen Ramsey, the prospects who signed with the Seminoles in ’13 slammed into a wall of firmly entrenched talent that didn’t leave until after the ’14 campaign. So, while those players went 27–1 over their first two seasons, they didn’t have a chance to truly make their mark.

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Notre Dame and the ACC Have Relationship Problems in the Current Environment

Written by Bart Doan at The Comeback

Often when you’re doing either some intentional or non-intentional people watchin’, you come across two people and just turn to the person with you and say, “you know, that couple just looks like they go together.” Other times, you say, “that guy and gal just don’t seem to fit.”

There’s no real nuance to it past that. It’s neither an insult or a compliment for the most part. It’s just an affirmation of what looks like it fits versus what doesn’t. The truth is, it usually ends there and you go onto something else, because there’s no way of peeling back the curtain and finding out if you’re right or wrong.

Really, you probably don’t want to.

Which brings us to Notre Dame and their current college-dating level fling with the ACC. Neither one jumped into it thinking it’s going to work until the end of time, love prevailing over all. It’s mostly superficial … read: financially motivated. From across the mall, snarky people look over and say, “they don’t seem like they’d go out.”

ND exists in a world that wants them to do something that would be monetary suicide for the time being, which is to join a conference.

The bowl payout according to what the Internet will tell you for the Fiesta Bowl is $18 million per team, not counting over $2 million to cover travel costs. The base share for each Power 5 conference is just a shade under $28 million. Each conference receives $300,000 for each school that meets the APR score to compete in a postseason bowl game.

Ohio State, Notre Dame’s Fiesta Bowl opponent, will be splitting that $18 million across the conference. They’ll get their $300,000. ND will share their loot with no one. The Irish will also get a smooth $2.3 million for meeting the APR standard, which is automatic at Notre Dame. Every other independent gets just over $600,000 for doing the same thing.

It makes no sense to join a conference, and a whole lot of cents to not. The kicker is getting a schedule full of teams of any consequence to play you. Seeing what ND drives in television ratings, eyeballs, and ad revenue, that’s never going to be a problem. So what the heck is up with this, then, one would ask?

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Did the Rose Bowl Get It Right Choosing Iowa Over Ohio State?

Written by Sean Keeley at The Comeback

First things first. The Iowa Hawkeyes (12-1) had a fantastic season and, had they scored four more points, they’d be playing in the College Football Playoff right now. Their undefeated run through the regular season and Big Ten play is well-rewarded with a spot in the 2016 Rose Bowl where they’ll take on the Pac-12 champion Stanford Cardinal (10-2). It was a storybook run that deserves to end in The Granddaddy Of Them All.

Narratively-speaking, it makes total sense why the Rose Bowl would choose Iowa over the Ohio State Buckeyes (11-1). Iowa was the darling of the Big Ten season and a feel-good story for anyone who didn’t root for an SEC school. Ohio State was the big, bad bully who lost along the way and was “old news” by comparison. Plus, even though the Rose Bowl isn’t required to go by College Football Playoff rankings, Iowa (No. 5) finished ahead of Ohio State (No. 7).

All of that narrative aside, you also could make the case that Ohio State deserved the Rose Bowl bid. Let’s.

There’s the eye test. Sure, you could compare Ohio State and Iowa’s lone losses, both to Michigan State, and say that Iowa’s was a more “impressive” loss. But there’s that other kind of eye test, the kind that compares the team’s statistically against one another. The blunt truth is that OSU’s S&P+ ranking was miles ahead of Iowa (4th to 34th), had a better Offensive S&P+ ranking (27th to 52nd) and a better Defensive S&P+ ranking (8th to 31st). By all statistical measures, Ohio State was the better team and would likely be favored on a neutral field (because Vegas knows…).

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