The last few days haven't exactly been the best for college football's image.

On Saturday, arguably the country's best player basically ended his career with a devastating ACL injury in his first game back from a four-game NCAA suspension. Sunday brought us the firing of a coach who did everything right, but win. The work week brought more attention to autograph issues with Florida State's star, and two schools are dealing with horrific allegations away from the field.
There have been some interesting names linked to the Florida opening, but several coaches believe Marshall's Doc Holliday could be a good recruiting fit in Gainesville. Plus, many expected ESPN 300 OT Chuma Edoga to flip from USC to Georgia, but it looks like the Trojans have won the battle in the end.

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SEC bowl projections: Week 12

November, 18, 2014
Nov 18
How important is earning the top overall seed in the College Football Playoff? For Alabama, it's very important. It would allow the Tide to play a virtual home game in the Sugar Bowl as opposed to going out West to possibly face Oregon in the Rose Bowl.

That's why Nick Saban and his team have to be ecstatic with their No. 1 ranking in the latest playoff rankings. As long as they win out and win the SEC title, they're headed to New Orleans for the first semifinal game.

Meanwhile, if everything plays out as it should -- and it never does -- the Tide's opponent in the Sugar Bowl would be none other than Mississippi State. That's right. The Bulldogs only dropped to No. 4 after Saturday's loss to Alabama, and that means they're still in good shape for the playoff if they can take care of business against Vanderbilt and Ole Miss.

The next two weeks should also be interesting for the rest of the conference as a number of teams are fighting for that sixth win and bowl eligibility. Both Florida and South Carolina should get there this Saturday as they play Eastern Kentucky and South Alabama, respectively. It won't be as easy, though, for teams like of Arkansas, Tennessee and Kentucky.

We predict a total of 12 SEC teams becoming bowl eligible by season's end.

College Football Playoff semifinal (Sugar Bowl): Alabama
College Football Playoff semifinal (Sugar Bowl): Mississippi State
Capital One Orange Bowl: Ole Miss
Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl: Georgia
Citrus Bowl: Auburn
TaxSlayer Bowl: Florida
Outback Bowl: Missouri
AdvoCare 100 Texas Bowl: Texas A&M
Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl: Tennessee
AutoZone Liberty Bowl: LSU
Belk Bowl: South Carolina
Birmingham Bowl: Arkansas
Roll Tide -- all the way to No. 1.

Following its win over Mississippi State -- currently the best win in the country -- Alabama ascended to No. 1 in the latest ranking by the College Football Playoff’s 12-member selection committee.

The Crimson Tide jumped No. 2 Oregon, No. 3 Florida State and No. 4 Mississippi State, which remained one of the top four teams in the country in spite of its loss. For the second time this season, the committee has placed more than one team from the SEC West in its top four.

Here’s what the bracket would look like today:


Beyond the top four, there were some perplexing moves made by the committee. Among the more eyebrow-raising decisions:

  • Undefeated Marshall is still unranked after its biggest win of the season, yet No. 25 Minnesota, which just lost at home, is still No. 25.
  • Louisville, USC, Missouri and Oklahoma -- all unranked a week ago -- are ranked again.
  • USC climbed to No. 19 on the back of a home win over 5-5 California.
  • Clemson, in spite of a convincing 28-6 loss to Georgia Tech in which it was held to 190 total yards and had three turnovers, only dropped three spots.
  • Utah jumped from No. 23 to No. 17 after a double-overtime win against five-loss Stanford, and still has a home loss to Washington State on its resume.

One of the biggest movers was LSU, which dropped from No. 17 out of the ranking after it was shut out at Arkansas. Arizona State dropped seven spots after an embarrassing loss to Oregon State. Georgia moved up five spots after thumping Auburn 34-7, and Wisconsin jumped from No. 20 to No. 16 after beating Nebraska. That bodes well for Ohio State’s playoff hopes, should the Buckeyes and Badgers meet in the Big Ten title game.

As for the other major bowls, here’s a projection based on the current rankings:

The Orange Bowl lost the ACC champion (FSU) so it gets the next highest-ranked ACC team, No. 18 Georgia Tech. Then the Orange selects the next highest-ranked non-conference champion team from the Big Ten, SEC or Notre Dame. By contract, displaced conference champs from the SEC and Big Ten don't go to the Orange Bowl. That would pit the Yellow Jackets against No. 8 Ole Miss.

Here’s what New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day could look like, based on today’s ranking:

Dec. 31

12:30 p.m. ET, Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl: No. 10 Georgia vs. Marshall

4 p.m. ET, VIZIO Fiesta Bowl: No. 7 Baylor vs. No. 9 UCLA

8 p.m. ET, Capital One Orange Bowl: No. 18 Georgia Tech vs. No. 8 Ole Miss

Jan. 1

12:30 p.m. ET, Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic: No. 5 TCU vs. No. 6 Ohio State

5 p.m. ET, Rose Bowl Game Presented by Northwestern Mutual: No. 2 Oregon vs. No. 3 Florida State

8:30 p.m. ET, Allstate Sugar Bowl: No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 4 Mississippi State

Marshall is still projected in a New Year’s Six bowl even though it didn’t crack the selection committee’s top 25. If a Group of 5 conference champion does not play its way into the ranking by Dec. 7, the committee will evaluate all five conference champions before selecting one for a New Year’s Six bowl.

Weekend recruiting wrap: SEC 

November, 18, 2014
Nov 18
As always there was a ton of recruiting news from around the Southeastern Conference. Florida head coach Will Muschamp announced he will step down from his position at the end of the season, there were key visits and new offers over the weekend. Here's a closer look at the top recruiting news from around the conference.

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This week, USA Today, in the latest of its fan index lists, catalogued the top 10 traditions in college football.

Among them, dotting the "i" at Ohio State, lighting the Tower at Texas and rolling Toomer's Corner at Auburn. All fine events, but no list of such customs in the sport is complete without the latest craze: the wait for Tuesday night.

I say that somewhat jokingly, so refrain from the angry tweets. No, I don't really think it's more fun to dream about the details of a five-minute interview with Jeff Long than to decorate an intersection with toilet paper.

But it's close.

So welcome to the fourth of seven Tuesday College Football Playoff poll unveils, where it finally gets real in the selection-committee room.

Why is this Tuesday different? Because after last Saturday, none of the remaining unbeaten or one-loss Power 5 contenders will meet in the regular season or in conference-title games.

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SEC morning links

November, 18, 2014
Nov 18
1. Has Florida hired a coach yet? OK, I guess I'm being impatient. Nothing is going to happen until after the season, but athletic director Jeremy Foley did say he hopes to have a coach by December, which means it might only be a month before we know who is going to replace Will Muschamp. Foley also said he plans to look for a coach who can bring that offensive spark back to The Swamp. Gus Malzahn, anyone? Malzahn's buddy Hugh Freeze would also fit the description, but it sounds like the Ole Miss coach is in line for a raise after the season. Freeze added that he and his family are extremely happy in Oxford, which is no surprise considering he grew up there. It hasn't been that long, though, since Rich Rodriguez left his alma mater West Virginia to take the Michigan job. I'm just saying.

2. Rushing the field after a win over the No. 17 team in the country? That's what happens when you haven't won a conference game in over two years. Arkansas paid the price, though. On Monday, the school was fined $25,000 by the SEC for the post-game celebration, a fine I'm guessing coach Bret Bielema would be happy to pay back after Saturday's win against LSU. The atmosphere hasn't been as jubilant in Baton Rouge this week. It was a historically bad performance by the offense, and Glenn Guilbeau of the Shreveport Times writes that it's time for change and more specifically, time for a new quarterback and new offensive coordinator at LSU. The Tigers should fare better next Thursday against a bad Texas A&M defense.

3. What's the one thing we can almost always count on when Alabama plays an FCS team? Nick Saban going off during his weekly news conference about the quality of the opponent and how it doesn't matter. He didn't let us down this week. Saban got a little heated Monday when a reporter asked about the possibility of looking ahead to the rest of the season, aka the Iron Bowl. I think the Crimson Tide should be pretty safe this weekend against Western Carolina. On a different note, Saban was also asked about the music selection in Bryant-Denny Stadium and the updated playlist from Saturday's win against No. 1 Mississippi State. Unfortunately, he's not the DJ. He has nothing to do with what songs play or don't play during games.

Around the SEC
  • Auburn defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson unfazed by criticism during brutal stretch.
  • Running back Todd Gurley goes out the same way he came in at Georgia: A superstar.
  • Steve Spurrier laments firing of Muschamp, shoots down rumors of his return to Florida.
Tweet of the day
ATHENS, Ga. -- With Auburn's high-powered, electrifying run-first offense approaching, Georgia defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt spent just about every night during the week leading up to Saturday's game working on his game plan until 4 a.m.

[+] EnlargeCameron Artis-Payne
Dale Zanine/USA TODAY SportsGeorgia's defense held Cameron Artis-Payne to just 86 yards rushing, and the entire Auburn rushing attack to 150 yards total. The Bulldogs won, 34-7.
After watching his team give up 632 rushing yards and eight rushing touchdowns combined in the last two games, including a mind-blowing 418 yards in a blowout loss to Florida, Pruitt couldn't risk being another victim to the Tigers' vaunted rushing attack. So he cut back sleep to add on hours of preparation.

His plan worked like a charm, as the Bulldogs stuffed Auburn's rushing offense in their 34-7 win on Saturday, allowing the Tigers to leave with just 150 rushing yards. That was the second-lowest output of the season by Auburn, and its lowest in conference play.

"Most of our defenses were designed to try to stop the run, and that was it," coach Mark Richt said after the game.

When facing a Gus Malzahn offensive attack, there's never really a clear answer on what to do. Honestly, you hope for Auburn to make a mistake. But under the bright lights of Sanford Stadium, the Dawgs imposed their will on an Auburn offense that registered Malzahn lows in points (seven) and total yards (292).

Georgia forced seven third downs with 5 or more yards to go, and held Auburn to just 17 total first downs.

Richt said there were some formations implemented to defend the pass, but for the most part, Georgia's defense was set up to take the run away, which in turn took Auburn's offense away. Instead of letting quarterback Nick Marshall, the offensive catalyst, hurt the Dawgs with his legs on the zone-read, they made sure to force the give on the read as much as possible. That meant the Bulldogs could stack the box consistently with someone setting the edge and taking Marshall out of the play.

"We emphasized keying in on them and running up field to set the edge," linebacker Lorenzo Carter said. "That's what Coach Pruitt really put a big emphasis on this week in practice, and we hunkered down and made plays."

Marshall walked away with only 153 total yards and zero touchdowns, while the Bulldogs strutted away with arguably their best defensive showing of the season. Richt described the play of his defense as "up and down" this season, but the constant has been that it's improved in some way just about every week.

For as young as this defense is in spots, it has continued to evolve under Pruitt, who is in his first year as Georgia's defensive coordinator. Of course, this defense would like to have the South Carolina and Florida games back, but the reality is that it takes time with a new coordinator to gel with players in his schemes. When you look at the overall statistics, Georgia's defense has been impressive for most of the season. Putting everything together? Well, the Dawgs finally did that against a top-notch offense Saturday.

"Matchups don't mean anything," cornerback Damian Swann said. "If we go out and do what we do every play, week in and week out, we can be very good, we can be one of the best in the country."

This week's conference clinching scenarios

November, 17, 2014
Nov 17
With the college football season entering the homestretch, here is a look at the potential conference clinching scenarios that can take place this week.

(Note: There could still be co-champs in the various divisions. These scenarios simply specify who will play in conference championship games unless otherwise noted)

American Athletic
Memphis clinches co-championship with a win AND losses by both Cincinnati & UCF

ACC Atlantic
Florida State has clinched

ACC Coastal
Georgia Tech clinches with a Duke loss

Big Ten East
Ohio State clinches with a win OR a Michigan State loss

Big Ten West
Wisconsin clinches with a win AND a Minnesota loss

Conference USA East
Marshall has clinched

Conference USA West
Louisiana Tech clinches with a win OR a Rice loss

MAC East
Bowling Green has clinched

Mountain West (West)
Nevada clinches with a win AND a San Diego State loss

Pac-12 North
Oregon has clinched

Pac-12 South
USC clinches with a win AND an Arizona State loss

SEC East
Georgia clinches with a Missouri loss

SEC West
Alabama clinches with losses by Mississippi State AND Ole Miss

Sun Belt
Georgia Southern clinches co-championship with a Louisiana-Lafayette loss
(Georgia Southern is idle)
When looking at the prospects colleges must keep close to home, it's easy to throw out No. 1 Terry Beckner Jr., No. 3 Martez Ivey, No. 5 Josh Sweat and several others in the top 20 in the ESPN 300. Outside the names know to most are a number of other prospects that the in-state team absolutely must keep at home because of talent, need and winning the perception game, which seemingly dominates recruiting now a days.

Here are five recruits who are "must have" prospects for the home state schools.

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Gurley injury shows NCAA's flaws

November, 17, 2014
Nov 17

Maybe someday soon they'll call it the Todd Gurley Rule.

Soon after Georgia and the Southeastern Conference have raked in millions of dollars from the new College Football Playoff, and after plaintiff's attorneys have collected even more money in fees from the NCAA in the myriad lawsuits over amateurism currently being debated in federal courts, maybe we'll remember Gurley when student-athletes are finally paid fair compensation for their names, images and likenesses.

If there was ever an example of why NCAA student-athletes need to be provided with more compensation than free tuition, housing and meals, we saw it near the end of No. 15 Georgia's 34-7 victory over No. 9 Auburn at Sanford Stadium on Saturday night.

After returning from a four-game suspension for breaking the NCAA's cardinal rule of amateurism by receiving money for his own signatures, Gurley tore the ACL in his left knee on his final run of the game. Georgia officials announced Sunday night that Gurley will need surgery and will miss the rest of the season, which will probably end his college career.

Maybe Gurley's legacy will now be that he'll become the poster child for what's wrong with the NCAA's archaic rules that prohibit student-athletes from profiting from their own names and stardom.

After Gurley played in only six games of his junior season because of his suspension and his devastating injury, his legacy on the field sure seems only half-full.

"It's sad," Georgia coach Mark Richt told reporters Sunday night. "Sad news."

What's even sadder is that Gurley, who was a leading Heisman Trophy contender before Georgia suspended him in early October, could fall out of the first round of next spring's NFL draft because of his injury. ESPN draft analysts Mel Kiper and Todd McShay considered Gurley a potential first-round pick before he was hurt.

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National links: What next for Florida? 

November, 17, 2014
Nov 17
When an elite football program like Florida -- certainly one of the top destinations in the sport -- has a coaching vacancy, it’s always interesting to see which names surface as possible candidates.

The writing was on the wall that Will Muschamp was on his way out in Gainesvile, and the school made it official on Sunday, the day after the Gators’ late implosion in an overtime loss to South Carolina.

Immediately the rumor mill began to churn out names, like in an Associated Press story that mentioned Arizona’s Rich Rodriguez, Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen, Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops, Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy and Ole Miss’ Hugh Freeze as possibilities. Insider’s Travis Haney weighed in on why it’s a top-tier job and some candidates that Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley might contact.

Will Foley look for an offensive-minded coach after defensive specialist Muschamp fell flat? Will he be willing to hire a coveted coordinator, as Muschamp was, with no head coaching experience? Might he look to the NFL ranks, or to someone like Mike Shanahan, who once served as an assistant at Florida?

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SEC morning links

November, 17, 2014
Nov 17
Mississippi State, the No. 1 team in the nation, lost this weekend and yet nobody was talking about the Bulldogs on Sunday. That's what happens when another SEC team lets go of their head coach and one of the top players in the conference is lost for the season to injury.

1. Let's begin with the Todd Gurley news. Gurley, who returned for Georgia on Saturday after missing four games due to suspension, injured his left knee late in the game. On Sunday, it was announced that the star running back suffered a torn ACL and will miss the remainder of the season. Terrible news considering that he didn't have to come back. He could've foregone the rest of his junior season and turned his focus to the NFL, an idea suggested by Marc Edelman of Forbes Magazine -- which is sad now given the timing of the piece. Instead, Gurley took the risk for the benefit of his team. It's a big blow for Georgia, too, but not season-ending. The Bulldogs still have Nick Chubb in their backfield, and the freshman has shown he's more than capable of carrying the load. He'll be counted on the rest of the way.

2. The other big news of the day came out of Florida where the school announced head coach Will Muschamp will not return next season. Muschamp, who went 27-20 in his four seasons with the Gators will stay on and coach the team's last two games. Go ahead and strike up the coaching rumors. Who will be the next coach in Gainesville? ESPN's Travis Haney put out a list of eight possible candidates Insider that includes names such as Bob Stoops and Rich Rodriguez. At CBS Sports, Dennis Dodd has three current SEC coaches, including Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze, on his list of replacements. It's safe to say that nobody really knows what Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley is going to do. It's also safe to assume that Muschamp won't have trouble finding a job as a defensive coordinator if he so chooses.

3. And then there's Mississippi State. Do they still have a legitimate case at making the four-team playoff even after Saturday's loss to Alabama? Count quarterback Dak Prescott among those who believe they are still one of the best four teams in college football. Both Prescott and head coach Dan Mullen stated their case after Saturday's game. We'll find out just how far back the Bulldogs will fall Tuesday when the new rankings come out. Saturday was a much better day for cross-state rival Ole Miss. The Rebels didn't play, but losses by Mississippi State and Auburn opened the door for them to possibly win the West. The Rebels still need to win out and hope Auburn takes down Alabama in the regular-season finale, but there's a chance.

Around the SEC
Tweet of the day

Georgia upped Gurley's insurance

November, 16, 2014
Nov 16

As Georgia running back Todd Gurley was serving a four-game suspension for accepting money for autographs, the University of Georgia spent more money on him to support him when he did get back on the field.

Sources told that, within the last two weeks, Georgia upped Gurley's insurance policy to $10 million in coverage -- $5 million for total disability if Gurley got injured and never played again and $5 million in loss of value insurance, which would kick in if Gurley injured himself and slipped in the draft.

Gurley, who tore his ACL against Auburn in his first game back, previously had $5 million in total disability and $2.5 million in loss of value insurance. The policy was written by International Specialty Insurance.

In his latest draft big board, published Nov. 12, ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. listed Gurley as his No. 8 overall pick.

Sources say that Gurley would start to collect on his loss of value insurance if he slipped out of the first round. He would collect the full $5 million if he somehow went undrafted. He also could collect $5 million if the injury prevented him from ever playing again.

Sources say Georgia paid in between $50,000 and $60,000 for the policy. Over the last two years, the NCAA has allowed schools to pay such policies, most of which have been paid for through the Student Assistance Fund. The fund allows schools to pay for certain items for athletes in need, including insurance.

The date for Gurley's surgery to repair his ACL has not yet been determined.

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The ESPN college football power rankings have been updated, and ESPN college football reporter Heather Dinich joins Antonietta Collins to break down notable movers and explain her gripe against Georgia.