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Florida State hangs on against Notre Dame

The game lived up to the hype. Notre Dame gave Florida State everything they could handle last night in Tallahassee, with the winning touchdown being taken off the board on what turned out to be the correct call. Both Jameis Winston and Everett Golson were spectacular, and it seemed like whoever had the ball last would win. As it turned out, Notre Dame thought they had it but the refs called them out for a pick on the last touchdown to Corey Robinson.

Both teams were impressive, and frankly both are in good shape for the upcoming playoff. Florida State has a pretty easy road so all they need to do is take care of business in the ACC. Notre Dame will have to impress over other one-loss teams if they win out, but they have a tougher road which helps if they win them, but . . . . they have to win them! Road games against USC and Arizona State will be tough ones.

Here are some other observations from yesterday's games:

- Oklahoma blew another game, this time against Kansas State. The Big 12 is a complete mess now as all of the teams are knocking each other off. Baylor got smacked on the road against West Virginia. TCU bounced back from their choke job last week against Baylor by destroying Oklahoma State. There are a bunch of one-loss teams now, and then you have Oklahoma with two losses ready to play spoiler. It will be interesting to see if any team in the Big 12 survives with just one loss.

- In the PAC 12, Oregon seems to be back on track after stumbling against Arizona. They look like the team that might come out of that conference as all the other big names have stumbled, though Arizona State and Arizona only have one loss as well. Oregon needs to show they can get past Stanford, but the over-hyped Cardinal stumbled to its third loss against ASU. Like the Big 12, we might not have a one loss team to consider from this conference when all is said and done.

- In the Big Ten, the two clear powers are setting up for a battle. Ohio State suddenly has life now that freshman T.J. Barrett is finding his footing and learning how to use all the incredible weapons the Buckeyes have on offense. Everyone left them for dead after Braxton Miller got hurt and they lost to Virginia Tech, but this team has put up over 50 points four weeks in a row. Michigan State is also rolling, so we should have an epic battle coming up between these two in East Lansing. Meanwhile, Nebraska is taking care of business and Minnesota is surprising people so there should be a solid opponent in the Big Ten Championship Game. Don't count this conference out yet!

- Finally, we have the SEC, where Alabama decided to shut up the critics by humiliating an overrated Texas A&M team 59-0. So much for Kenny Hill and all those Johnny Football comparisons! Meanwhile, Ole Miss survived a slow start to handle Tennessee while Mississippi and Auburn were idle, so not much has changed for this week. Georgia also made a statement by whipping Arkansas, letting everyone know that the SEC West is still relevant - at least for now. As for Florida, how long will it be before Will Muschamp gets the boot? The Gators are an embarrassment.

As usual, the rest of the season should be plenty of fun as we sort out the final four.

Fran Tarkenton scolds AJ McCarron

Fox investigation shows FSU obstructed Jameis Winston investigation

Fox released of its investigation into how Florida State "handled" the Jameis Winston investigation when he faced rape allegations. In some ways this shouldn't be stunning at all - the campus police and athletic department basically did everything possible to undermine the investigation and keep Winston on the field. They stacked the deck in favor of the defense and made it hard for the prosecutor to conduct a real investigation, basically tainting witnesses by letting the defense have first crack.

Its this kind of disgrace that has many people rightfully outraged but is also leading to proposals on how to deal with sexual assault allegations on campus that can create other problems.

The key is to force universities to take this stuff seriously and care as much about the alleged victim as they do about athletes.

On the other hand, knee-jerk suspensions of any player immediately after an allegation is made is also problematic. We just saw that this week in Florida when a player was immediately suspended and then soon after after the accuser recanted. We don't know whether this was a case of false accusation, but this case looks very bad.

The question of whether athletes or other students will receive real due process when accused of sexual assault will be front and center as pointed out by after states like California start to rewrite the rules regarding these issues. The real way to deal with this would be to make sure athletes like Jameis Winston do not get special treatment and allegations are treated seriously, but getting rid of due process goes way too far.

Desmond Howard and Aflac Team Up

Who will contend for College Football Playoff?

The BCS is dead. Finally!

We've been complaining about it for years, and now we finally have a playoff system, so all of the debate around who is the best team in college football can at least be expanded to the four best teams who should play in the playoff. All of the debate on ESPN and other outlets will still be annoying, but at least the end result is somewhat more rational. Hopefully this will be a precursor to at least an eight-team playoff, but we can live with this for now.

With that in mind, now that the NFL Draft is over, people are starting to talk college football again, and you can have some fun looking over the as you contemplate who you like going into the 2014 season. There are plenty of teams that will give Florida State a run for the title, with Alabama, Ohio State, Auburn, Oregon leading the way. Then you have upstarts like Baylor who became a media and fan darling last season until they got smacked silly 52-42 by UCF in a huge Fiesta Bowl upset.

College football can be very unpredictable, and lately with all the new spread and hurry-up offenses things change very quickly. But we still see many of the regular names at the top.

One name that will get plenty of attention as usual is Ohio State, the team that many around the country love to hate. Urban Meyer has brought the program back after the brief hiccup during the Luke Fickell season, but the team has a ways to go before actually winning a national championship. You should keep your eyes on two critical factors: Braxton Miller and the defense.

You'll see Miller in the futures as well, as he is again a legitimate threat to contend for the Heisman Trophy. Yet he is still an enigma, as he's very injury prone and also very inconsistent. He's an incredible runner out of the pocket. Frankly, at the next level, he should probably be a tailback. The reason has to do with his passing, which is still very mediocre. This year he'll have some great receiving weapons, and he'll also have some young backs who should do a nice job replacing Carlos Hyde. But the offensive line is very young, so this team likely will not be able to maul defenses with their running game like last year. Miller needs to step up and mature as a quarterback for the Buckeyes to have a chance at the playoff.

Then there's the defense, which has been an embarrassment since Jim Tressel left Ohio State. Sure, they've had injuries, but the pass defense was a joke last season. Urban Meyer has pledged to fix it, and this year he promises to showcase press coverage from his young secondary. The key will be a dominating defensive line led by super-sophomore Joey Bosa. If the line lives up to the billing, then maybe the Buckeyes can finally get back to playing real defense again.

But the Buckeyes show how hard it can be to predict college football, so do your homework!

Switzer on Manziel

UCF stuns Baylor

This should not have been a shock. Baylor has had an incredible season, but the hype surrounding this team's offense and Art Briles has become ridiculous. There were even people suggesting Briles should be considered as an NFL coach, which is just absurd. Presumably even Texas is taking a hard look, which is more appropriate, but Texas doesn't need a gimmick offense to be a power. I susect they're much better off with a different coach.

Plenty of people watched the game last night more interested in watching UFC's Blake Bortles as an NFL quarterback prospect for the NFL draft. His performance was up and down, but he seems to have all the tools that will make NFL scouts drool.

But back to the game, Baylor certainly had its moments on offense as they have very dynamic players, but good defense can really disrupt this offense, whcih makes all of their gaudy stats meaningless. I would have loved to see Baylor play a team like Michigan State as I think they would be overpowered based on this performance.

UFC was a huge underdog but they outplayed Baylor for most of the evening. It was a fun game if you don't care about defense. Both teams have no idea how to tackle, particulary in the secondary. But at least UCF managed a pass rush, and that really affected Baylor.

In the end, both programs are on the rise, so we'll be seeing plenty more of them in the years to come.

Michigan State overpowers Stanford

Who will be the new Texas Longhorns coach?

Now that Mack Brown has faced reality and resigned, there's plenty of speculation as to who will be targeted by the Texas Longhorns. Here are the currrent odds:

Who will be the next Head Coach of the Texas Longhorns? Charlie Strong 2/1 Art Briles 9/2 James Franklin 5/1 Mike Gundy 7/1 Bill O'Brien 15/2 Chip Kelly 10/1 David Shaw 10/1 Jim Mora 10/1 Jimbo Fisher 15/1 Jim Harbaugh 20/1 Mike Tomlin 20/1

if you think you know who is going to win and want to cash in on your knowledge.

College Football Week 15, NFL Week 14 Free Picks

The best and worst of college football

Yesterday was an epic day in college football. On rivalry Saturday, Auburn won the Iron Bowl in stunning fashion as a last-second field goal try by Alabama was returned for a touchdown. It was one of those jaw-dropping plays that will be replayed and remembered forever.

Meanwhile, earlier in the day, another legendary rivalry game also produced an instant classic, as Michigan's Brady Hoke decided to go for two at the end of the game, leaving Michigan with an unforgettable 42-41 loss against their bitter rivals in The Game.

Unfortunately, one of the greatest days in college football history immediately led to the inevitable and idiotic debate of who is more deserving of a spot in the National Championship game. What should be happening is both Ohio State and Auburn celebrating a spot in a playoff with these wins (assuming they win next week). The same is true of Missouri.

Instead we have to argue whether an undefeated Big Ten team should be jumped by a one-loss Auburn team. I have strong opinions about this, mostly because I'm biased. Auburn had a great miracle win against Alabama, but they also had a fluke Hail Mary win on their resume as well, while Ohio State has won 24 straight games!

But everyone is biased when it comes to this debate. Surely SEC fans have an argument that a one-loss SEC team deserves a chance to play for the national title. Still, if the SEC is so dominant, why is Missouri in the SEC title game?

Some will claim they aren't biased and can make a logical argument for their position. But it's just a ! College football will be forever tainted as long as opinion trumps the notion of deciding a champion on the field. The winners of the five power conferences should automatically go to a playoff. We can have some spot for at-large teams based on a committee, but winning a conference championship should put you in a playoff so you have a chance to measure yourself against another conference winner. This notion of winners playing other winners for the chance to call yourself a champion rules every other sport, other than Division I college football.

Today, we should be looking forward to possible playoff matches, and any argument between Ohio State and Auburn/Missouri fans could ultimately be settled the way it should be - by . But we're left with an absolute mess.

Baylor, Oregon and Florida suffer embarrassing losses

College Football Week 13, NFL Week 12 Free Picks

Some pundits didn't expect Mizzou to win six games this season and now the Tigers are knocking on the door of playing in the SEC championship game. They have two more hurdles to overcome, however, as they need to beat Ole Miss on Saturday night and then Texas A&M in their final game of the regular season. Fortunately their starting quarterback James Franklin is set to return from injury to take the place of redshirt freshman Maty Mauk, who filled in admirably while Franklin was out with a shoulder injury. Before he was knocked out of a win against Georgia earlier this season, Franklin was completing 67.7 percent of his passes and was one of the top quarterbacks in the nation from a statistical standpoint. One mismatch that Franklin can take advantage of is the one-on-one issues that the Tigers' receivers will give the Rebels' cornerbacks. L'Damian Washington stands 6'4" while future NFL prospect Dorial Green-Beckham is 6'6" and Marcus Lucas is 6'5". Conversely, Ole Miss' starting corners are 5'9" (Senquez Golson) and 5'8" (Mike Hilton). As long as Mizzou's stout defense can limit Bo Wallace's ability to freelance and connect for big plays, they should win.

Oregon is back on track to being the top seed from the Pac-12 and it knows style points will count tomorrow in Arizona. The Wildcats, meanwhile, have failed to cover in three straight games and are coming off a lifeless performance versus Washington State last week. The Ducks are 12-2 against the spread in their last 14 road games and 10-4 ATS in their last 14 conference games. Arizona doesn't have the hosses up front to dominant Oregon in the trenches. These are the types of matchups where the Ducks thrive.

The Giants have won four straight but take a look at the quarterbacks they beat during that stretch: Josh Freeman, who didn't know the playbook, Nick Foles before he became Nick Foles, a hobbled Terrelle Pryor and then Scott Tolzien last Sunday. Not exactly a Murderer's Row of signal-callers. Granted, the Cowboys' defense has been brutal under Monte Kiffin this season but Eli Manning hasn't been sharp himself. The Cowboys are 4-1 against the spread in their last five games following a straight up loss and 7-3 ATS in their last 10 games overall. Take the dog.

There isn't a team hotter right now in the NFL than the Carolina Panthers, which is why they're probably due for a letdown. They're coming off back-to-back wins versus the 49ers on the road, and the Patriots at home on Monday night. Seeing as how they're coming off a short week and now have to make the trip down to Miami, this is a perfect time to fade the Panthers. The Dolphins have been a mess both on and off the field over the past three weeks but they picked up a nice home win last week against the Chargers and are 4-0 against the spread in their last four games versus the Panthers.

Texas loses running back Jonathan Gray for rest of season

Can Brady Hoke bring Michigan back to elite status?

Should Brady Hoke still get a pass as he tries to undo the damage Rich Rodriguez did to the Michigan program? Or should he be help accountable for the mess we're still seeing in Ann Arbor?

Michigan fans are losing patience, though Big Ten fans are also getting frustrated. Sure, as an Ohio State fan, it's always fun to watch the Buckeyes stomp Michigan, and that has become a regular occurrence in the past 15 years. But the strength of the conference is seriously compromised when Michigan consistently plays like Purdue. Beating Michigan becomes an afterthought as opposed to a quality win that impresses around the country.

Jason Whitlock is a friend of Hoke's, and he believes that Hoke will ultimately be successful at Michigan, but he has some for what's going on now with the programs.

He goes on to rip other Michigan recruits from the Hoke era along with stars on the team like Taylor Lewan who he accuses of "coasting." I have no idea whether Whitlock is right here. He may be going too easy on his friend and taking out his frustrations on the players. Would Urban Meyer be having these problems?

Bob Wojnowski is when evaluating Hoke, blaming the problems at Michigan on "poor coaching."

Hoke came to town with some bluster and bravado, refusing to call "Ohio State" by its proper name bu instead just saying "Ohio." Perhaps he should focus more on fundamentals as opposed to making waves at press conferences. In the end, the losses with drown out everything else.

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