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  • Arkansas loses eighth commit since firing Morris
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, November 13, 2019

    Four-star wide receiver Darin Turner decommitted from Arkansas' Class of 2020 on Wednesday, the eighth player to do so since the firing of head coach Chad Morris on Sunday.

    • "After talking to my Parents about the firing of Coach Morris at Arkansas, I've decided to reopen my recruitment," Turner tweeted Wednesday morning. "I will still consider Arkansas but I want to explore other options also."

      His decommitment follows that of four-star quarterback Chandler Morris, the coach's son, who announced his decision on Tuesday in a matter-of-fact tweet.

      "I would like to announce that I will be decommitting from the University of Arkansas and will be reopening my recruitment at this time," the younger Morris said.

      Other players who have backed away from the Razorbacks this week are tight ends Brandon Frazier and Allen Horace, wide receivers Savion Williams and Mason Mangum, running back John Gentry and athlete Kelvontay Dixon.

      Turner, from Memphis Central High School, is the 34th-ranked receiver in the nation, according to the 247Sports composite.

      Chandler Morris, who attends Highland Park High School in Dallas, is the No. 13 dual-threat quarterback in the 2020 class.

      Arkansas still has six players committed in its class, all on the defensive side of the ball. The remaining class ranks 14th in the Southeastern Conference and 116th in the nation, according to 247Sports.

      Arkansas' 2019 class was ranked 23rd in the nation.

      The Razorbacks (2-8, 0-6 SEC) are idle this week and play at No. 1 LSU on Nov. 23.

      --Field Level Media

  • Ohio State's Young to return for Penn State game
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, November 13, 2019

    Ohio State star defensive end Chase Young will be suspended one more game, then be eligible to return Nov. 23 in a crucial Big Ten matchup with Penn State.

    • In a news release on Wednesday, the university confirmed Young will miss Saturday's game at Rutgers. He was suspended for last weekend's win over Maryland pending an investigation into a possible NCAA violation. And while Ohio State sought Young's immediate reinstatement, the NCAA required a two-game suspension.

      "The NCAA has concluded its review of The Ohio State University Department of Athletics' reinstatement request for student-athlete Chase Young, and it has determined that Young should be withheld from playing in one additional game before being eligible to resume competition," the university said in its news release."

      The No. 2 Buckeyes end their regular-season home schedule against the No. 9 Nittany Lions. They will then travel to No. 15 Michigan on Nov. 30.

      "Excited to be back on the field next week! Thank you Buckeye Nation for all the love and support," Young posted on Twitter Wednesday afternoon. "I'm blessed to be a part of this team, this university, and this community. Lots of love to my family. God Bless and Go Bucks!"

      In a statement released through Ohio State, athletic director Gene Smith thanked staff for their work on the investigation and also praised Young.

      "He took responsibility for his actions, cooperated throughout the process and understood and accepted that there would be consequences. He's a team captain and a leader and most importantly, a Buckeye. He wanted nothing more than an opportunity to play again and we're pleased that he'll get that chance," Smith said.

      The 6-foot-6 Young leads the nation with 13.5 sacks. He is likely to be one of the first players selected in the 2020 NFL Draft should he decide to forgo his senior season.

      --Field Level Media

  • Saban: Tua a game-time decision vs. Mississippi State
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, November 13, 2019

    Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa isn't a lock to play when the Crimson Tide meet Mississippi State on Saturday, coach Nick Saban said.

    • "He'll probably be a game-time decision as to whether he can or can't play," Saban told reporters Wednesday on the SEC teleconference. "I don't even know for sure if he'll be able to practice fully today."

      Tagovailoa played last weekend in Alabama's 46-41 loss to No. 1 LSU, just 20 days after undergoing surgery to repair a high-ankle sprain. He played the entire game against the Tigers, completing 21 of his 40 pass attempts for 418 yards and four touchdowns with an interception.

      Saban said Wednesday that Tagovailoa, a junior, has been suffering from soreness in his ankle.

      No. 5 Alabama (8-1, 5-1 SEC) will meet the Bulldogs (4-5, 2-4) at noon ET on Saturday in Starkville, Miss.

      --Field Level Media

  • Report: Schiano, NJ governor discuss Rutgers job
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, November 13, 2019

    Greg Schiano and New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy talked recently to discuss the coach's potential return to the Rutgers sideline, NJ Advance Media reported.

    • The governor's spokesman declined to discuss the call with the outlet.

      Schiano, who was Rutgers' head coach from 2001-11, is believed to be close to returning to the downtrodden football program but wants guarantees that facilities will be upgraded to compete with those at other Big Ten campuses.

      NJ Advance Media said that such upgrades would need support in the state capital since about 22 percent of Rutgers' operating budget comes from the state. Schiano and the university have agreed to contract terms, but the coach wants written assurances that a football-only facility and an indoor practice facility will be built, according to the report.

      The 53-year-old Schiano, a New Jersey native, met with campus officials last week in Columbus, Ohio.

      When Schiano took the Rutgers job in 2001, he inherited a program that finished 15-51 in its previous six seasons. The team finished under .500 in Schiano's first four seasons, but in his final seven, the Scarlet Knights were 56-33 and won five of six bowl games.

      Rutgers was 68-67 in Schiano's tenure, which ended when he became head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He also worked three season as Ohio State's defensive coordinator.

      Since Schiano left, Rutgers is 36-60. Including a 9-36 mark the past four seasons.

      --Field Level Media

  • No. 21 Boise State looking to chirp vs. UNM
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, November 13, 2019

    Boise State has experienced a bumpy three-game run that includes a loss and two closer-than-expected victories.

    • But some of the criticism of the No. 21 Broncos doesn't sit right with coach Bryan Harsin.

      "We're an 8-1 football team making a run toward the end of the season. Let's not forget that," Harsin said during Monday's news conference. "Let's keep everything in perspective a little bit in what opportunities we have."

      Boise State (8-1, 5-0 Mountain West) will attempt to reduce the number of dismayed fans when it hosts New Mexico, losers of six straight games, in Saturday night's conference contest in Boise, Idaho.

      The Broncos opened the three-game stretch by losing 28-25 at BYU and followed up by allowing 42 points to San Jose State while prevailing by 10. Then came last Saturday's contest against a Wyoming squad that controlled most of the game before Boise State squeaked out a 20-17 overtime victory on the blue turf.

      On Monday, Harsin was just getting warmed up and went on a rant against social media, raising eyebrows when he said the opinions of boosters matter but not those of fans who may or may not have attended the game. He referred to fans who make comments on social media as "Twitiots."

      "Any idiot can say anything they want and they usually do and they're negative," Harsin said. "When people want to make comments on other things, it's pretty pathetic at the end of the day ... that's society.

      "That's a group you don't want to be a part of. ... I'm not going to listen to opinions unless they matter."

      The amount of criticism has a strong chance of being reduced as Boise State faces the Lobos (2-7, 0-5), who haven't won since Sept. 21 and are 1-9 all-time against Boise State.

      New Mexico will be playing for the first time since the death of 21-year-old defensive end Nahje Flowers on Nov. 5. The team's Nov. 9 game against Air Force was pushed back two weeks in the wake of the tragedy.

      The cause of Flowers' death hasn't been revealed. His loss has deeply affected the players.

      "Football is so much a part of our lives, you get to a point where you need it," senior defensive end Trent Sellers told New Mexico reporters earlier this week. "When something like that happens, to take time away and reflect is good but to get back into the routine a little bit makes you feel a little normal in a situation that no one could imagine.

      "There's no right way or wrong way. It gives you some type of normal feeling when you come out here and practice."

      Lobos coach Bob Davie said Flowers "was a strong personality (who) resonated with everybody."

      "We all know there should be many, many more chapters to Nahje's story," Davie said. "But with that said, you see young men deal with adversity, deal with tragedy and become men. It's sad, but it's what life is and how you respond to things and how you respond to adversity is part of the growing experience. But there's no question it's an absolute, absolute tragedy."

      On the field, New Mexico's football fortunes haven't been good during the Mountain West portion of the schedule. The Lobos have lost all five conference games by double digits and now face a Boise State club that is averaging 35.4 points.

      It wasn't known early in the week if true freshman quarterback Hank Bachmeier will start for the Broncos. He has missed two of the past three games -- the loss to BYU with a hip injury and the victory over Wyoming, apparently due to a hard hit he took on his throwing shoulder during the win over San Jose State.

      Sophomore Chase Cord may not be fully healthy, either. Trainers examined his throwing hand late in regulation against Wyoming. Cord completed 19 of 30 passes for 190 yards, one touchdown and one interception.

      Junior pass rusher Curtis Weaver had two sacks to raise his season total to 12.5. He moved into second place in Boise State history with 33 career sacks, passing Chris Wing (32 from 1994-96).

      New Mexico is led by senior running back Ahmari Davis, who has rushed for 823 yards and seven touchdowns. Davis rushed for a career-high 200 yards on just 16 carries against Hawaii on Oct. 26.

      --Field Level Media

  • First place on line when UCLA visits No. 7 Utah
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, November 13, 2019

    How will a resurgent UCLA offense fare against Utah's elite defense? The answer to that question will go a long way to deciding the key Pac-12 South clash on Saturday in Salt Lake City.

    • The Bruins (4-5, 4-2 Pac-12) haven't enjoyed much success against the No. 7 Utes in recent seasons. They have lost three straight to Utah, with each of the past two defeats coming by 31-point margins. But a victory on Saturday would move UCLA into a tie for first place in the Pac-12 South.

      Snapping the losing streak against the Utes (8-1, 5-1) on Saturday seems like a long-shot prospect. Utah leads the nation in rushing defense, allowing just 56 yards on the ground per game. The Utes also lead the Pac-12 in scoring defense (12.2 points per game) and total defense (246.3 yard per game).

      Utah is making all of that stinginess count on the other side of the ball. The Utes lead the Pac-12 in rushing offense (207.8 ypg), passing yards per completion (14.0), and time of possession (35:12).

      "We pride ourselves on being physical, and it starts with the run game and defending the run," Utah coach Kyle Whittingham told reporters. "That doesn't change year in and year out. Typically, run yardage is more damaging than throw yardage to an opponent. If you can just cram the ball down their throat, that can be demoralizing."

      The Bruins are better equipped to weather the storm now than they were a month ago. Resurgent production from running back Joshua Kelley has helped UCLA string together a three-game winning streak. Kelley has tallied 466 yards and seven rushing touchdowns during that stretch. The senior is averaging 107.6 yards per game and has tallied four 100-yard games in his past five contests.

      As a result of Kelley's dominance, the Bruins have rushed for at least 200 yards in five straight games for the first time since 1978. Extending that streak against a Utah team that has held eight of nine opponents under 100 rushing yards will be a tall task.

      "They've always had great defenses at Utah, and this is right up there with some of the best defenses I've seen Utah produce," UCLA coach Chip Kelly said.

      Stopping Utah's offense offers an equal challenge with quarterback Tyler Huntley nearing 100 percent again. Huntley has endured limited mobility since sustaining a knee sprain against Arizona State on Oct. 19. The senior did not have his usual burst against California and Washington, but he is said to be almost back to his usual form after a bye week.

      That's good news for the Utes. Huntley completed at least 70 percent of all his passes in his first six games before the injury. He knows where to pick his spots. Huntley leads the Pac-12 in completion percentage (.738), pass efficiency (182.5), and passing yards per attempt (10.8).

      "It's unbelievable the way he dissects coverages and lets me know where I need to be and I get there at the right time," Utah receiver Bryan Thompson said. "Being a smart quarterback helps the receiver so much. I appreciate Tyler more than he actually knows."

      UCLA has made strides in pass defense since the start of October. The Bruins have held two of their past three opponents to fewer than 200 passing yards and a completion rate lower than 60 percent.

      "Nothing has really changed," UCLA linebacker Josh Woods said. "We're just dialed in and practicing hard from Monday to the game. Our preparation has led into better execution."

      UCLA holds an 11-6 lead in the all-time series with Utah. The Utes haven't lost to the Bruins, however, since falling 17-9 at home in 2015.

      --Field Level Media

  • No. 6 Oregon rested, ready for Arizona
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, November 13, 2019

    No. 6 Oregon is rested and ready to make a run at the College Football Playoffs.

    • Coming off a bye week, the Ducks finish the regular season against three unranked teams, starting Saturday night against Arizona at Autzen Stadium in Eugene, Ore.

      Oregon (8-1, 6-0 Pac-12) has a three-game lead in the Pac-12 North and can clinch a berth in the league title game Saturday before closing at Arizona State and vs. Oregon State to end the regular season.

      "They're going to play like crazy because they want to get into the playoffs," Arizona head coach Kevin Sumlin told reporters of Oregon's mentality. "I mean, let's be honest. ... They're going to try to make some statements."

      The Ducks, who have won eight in a row after opening with a last-second loss against Auburn, are coming off a 56-24 win at USC on Nov. 2, roaring back from a 10-0 first-quarter deficit.

      "During the bye week, you can get better, but you can get worse," Oregon coach Mario Cristobal said. "I think you prevent yourself from any type of decline if you really incorporate competitive drills. The amount of good-on-good stuff we did ... I think all of that stuff keeps you sharp and keeps you on edge."

      Arizona (4-5, 2-4) also is coming off a bye but without a scintilla of Oregon's momentum.

      The Wildcats have lost four consecutive games, allowing an average of 47.3 points during the skid. Sumlin fired defensive coordinator Marcel Yates the week of the Nov. 2 home game against Oregon State and promoted defensive analyst Chuck Cecil -- an Arizona alum, College Football Hall of Famer, former NFL safety and ex-NFL defensive coordinator with the Tennessee Titans.

      The result: Oregon State won 56-38.

      Perhaps the off week allowed Cecil to make tweaks to scheme and/or personnel to a defense that is 124th nationally in yards allowed (481.2 yards per game) and 126th in points allowed (37.3).

      "He's got energy. He's got passion," Sumlin said of Cecil. "He's a legend here, and because of that he has tremendous amount of pride in what he's doing. We can definitely feel that."

      Arizona will be facing one of the top quarterbacks in the country in senior Justin Herbert. The potential high first-round draft pick has completed 200 of 288 passes for 2,329 yards, with 24 touchdowns and two interceptions.

      Oregon has averaged 43.3 points in the past four games and is getting a boost from Penn State transfer receiver Juwan Johnson. He missed the first four games, barely played in the next three but caught seven passes for 106 yards and three touchdowns against USC.

      More good news for Oregon: The bye week helped running backs CJ Verdell (team-high 765 rushing yards) and Cyrus Habibi-Likio, as well as offensive guard Dallas Warmack, get healthy. The running backs were limited against USC, and Warmack missed the game.

      Cristobal said Monday all three were "full-go" in Sunday's practice.

      Oregon's defense is one of the best in the Pac-12, leading the conference in sacks (2.89 per game) and topping the country with 17 interceptions. The Ducks are likely to see a two-headed quarterback approach between Arizona's athletic senior starter Khalil Tate and true freshman Grant Gunnell.

      "I told them last week, whoever performs the best is going to be out there first," Sumlin said.

      If needed for motivation, Cristobal can point to last season's meeting, when the Wildcats romped 44-15 in Tucson. Arizona running back J.J. Taylor rushed for 212 yards on 30 carries.

      --Field Level Media

  • No. 10 Oklahoma, No. 13 Baylor in Big 12 showdown
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, November 13, 2019

    The Oklahoma-Baylor game turned into a budding rivalry earlier this decade when coach Art Briles had the Bears soaring in Waco, Texas.

    • The teams met as ranked foes in four consecutive seasons -- and five out of six years -- but Briles was ousted amid scandal, and Matt Rhule took over the helm in 2017 and had to rebuild.

      On Saturday, high stakes return to the game.

      The No. 13 Bears host the No. 10 Sooners with Big 12 and College Football Playoff implications on the line, and with ESPN's "College GameDay" show in town.

      The Bears (9-0, 6-0 Big 12) have earned the spotlight by being one of the five remaining undefeated teams in the country, although they haven't been consistently dominant.

      While Baylor beat Kansas State by 19 and Oklahoma State by 18 in October, the rest of the Bears' games since Big 12 play began have been tight. Baylor won its other four conference games by an average of 3.5 points, with two of those victories (Texas Tech, TCU) coming in multiple overtimes.

      "They've really done a great job finishing games, overcoming some odds at times, and to have really good seasons, you have to do that, so give them a lot of credit," Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley said. "They've played well and beat some really good people, and it will be a great challenge."

      The Sooners are hoping to get back atop the Big 12 and back into the thick of the CFP discussion.

      To do that, they'll need to perform better than they did the last time Oklahoma visited a hostile environment.

      Three weeks ago, the then-undefeated Sooners went to Kansas State, had a hot start, fell flat and ultimately mounted a comeback that came up just short in a 48-41 loss.

      "We just have to keep our composure and just play the way we know how to play," Sooners safety Delarrin Turner-Yell said.

      Oklahoma struggled with its composure against the Wildcats, most notably as cornerback Parnell Motley was ejected early in the game for kicking at an opponent.

      Even through their recent struggles -- the loss to Kansas State and last week's 42-41 squeaker over Iowa State -- Oklahoma's offense has continued to put up big numbers. Jalen Hurts leads the nation in passing efficiency with a rating of 219.7, which is better than the mark of Oklahoma's Heisman-winning Kyler Murray and Baker Mayfield in the past two seasons.

      That's only part of Hurts' success story. Much of what makes the Sooners so dangerous offensively comes from Hurts' running ability. He has 869 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns.

      "There's times where it's like defending the single wing. They're running quarterback counter with lead tailbacks blocking for them, so they present a lot of challenges," Rhule said. "A lot of that's credit to him; he's a great runner, has great vision, he's accurate, he can do it in a multitude of different ways."

      The tight games have given the Bears comfort in late-game situations, and Rhule hopes that can be the case against the Sooners. Baylor leads the Big 12 in scoring defense (19.0 points allowed per game) and has yielded only 41 first-half points all season.

      "Part of it is weathering the storm, just our defense. Don't get down 21-0," Rhule said. "Knowing that we are more of a fourth-quarter team, you have to try to push this game to the fourth quarter."

      --Field Level Media

  • No. 25 Appalachian St. preps for hungry Georgia St.
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, November 13, 2019

    It's no surprise No. 25 Appalachian State is making a conference title run in November. But Georgia State?

    • In six seasons in the Sun Belt Conference, the Panthers have posted a winning record in conference play only twice, going 5-3 in 2015 and 2017. Twice they were winless in league play, and they were 1-7 a year ago.

      But the Panthers (6-3, 3-2 Sun Belt) go into Saturday night's home game in Atlanta against Appalachian State (8-1, 5-1) needing a win to have a shot at least a share of the East Division title. That would give them the tiebreaker over the Mountaineers and the berth in the conference championship game if the teams end the season deadlocked.

      "We are playing a significant ball game in the month of November going up against one of the best teams in the country," Georgia State coach Shawn Elliott said. "It's certainly exciting for our football program."

      The Panthers, who started the season with a shocking 38-30 win at Tennessee, come into the game off a disappointing 45-31 loss at Louisiana-Monroe. That ended a four-game winning streak, which included a big 52-33 victory over Troy.

      They also lost their starting quarterback when senior Dan Ellington (201.4 passing yards per game, 67.0 rushing) suffered a knee injury. In his place will be freshman Cornelious Brown, who has played in three games. Brown played the second half against ULM and was 8-of-18 passing for 80 yards, while rushing for 14 yards.

      It adds a bit of mystery for Appalachian State coach Eliah Drinkwitz and his defensive staff.

      "You've got to assume he's the No. 2 quarterback, which means he's been getting No. 2 reps, which means he's been repeating the plays that the first quarterback runs," Drinkwitz said. "I don't think we'll see a scheme change overall or a lot of new plays."

      Brown's other five pass attempts on the season were not completed with one interception.

      The Mountaineers, who this week became the first Sun Belt team to get a spot in the College Football Playoff rankings, are coming off a win over South Carolina that gave them two victories over Power 5 conference teams. They beat North Carolina in September.

      It was cause for much celebration, but Drinkwitz said his players are focused on Georgia State.

      "I don't think we have any issue putting that game behind us," he said. "Yesterday they came in and everybody to a man wanted to talk about Georgia State."

      Appalachian State is the second-highest scoring team in the conference with a 36.4 points-per-game average, a couple of points shy of Louisiana's 38.3. But Elliott wanted to talk about the Mountaineers' defense.

      "They're all over the field," Elliott said. "They play with great intensity and they're fast. That's one of the things about that defense. They're so fast. They shut down South Carolina. I think South Carolina rushed the ball 27 times for 21 yards. If that's not shutting it down, I don't know what to say."

      --Field Level Media

  • No. 17 Cincinnati wary of struggling South Florida
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, November 13, 2019

    No. 17 Cincinnati will be going for an eighth consecutive victory when it plays at South Florida on Saturday.

    • While the Bulls are struggling -- they have lost two of their last three games and need two wins just to get to bowl eligibility -- Bearcats coach Luke Fickell remembers all too well the last time the teams met on the Bulls' home field in Tampa.

      That was in 2017 in Fickell's first season, and the Bulls won handily 33-3.

      That USF team was undefeated at the time of that meeting, however, while the current crew is coming off a 17-7 loss to Temple that dropped the Bulls (4-5, 2-3 American Athletic Conference) under .500 again.

      One of their wins was over an FBS opponent (South Carolina State) and another came against struggling UConn, which was just waxed 48-3 by Fickell's Bearcats last week and is winless in AAC play.

      Nevertheless, Fickell is taking nothing for granted.

      "I really believe this is a talented football team," he said of USF. "I know their record might not indicate it, but they sometimes play to the level of their opponent as well.

      "But at home, at night, we were there two years ago and it wasn't close. I don't think they've dropped off. Obviously, we've gotten better, but they haven't dropped off talent-wise. They're a challenge for us."

      The Bearcats (8-1, 5-0) have much more than the memory of their last visit to Raymond James Stadium as incentive. They can clinch at least a tie for the AAC East title and could sew up a spot in the league championship game if Temple loses to Tulane earlier in the day.

      And they also lead the race for a New Year's Six bowl game as the highest-ranked team among the Group of Five conferences. Cincinnati finishes the season with challenging games vs. Temple and at Memphis.

      USF is pushing for bowl eligibility while having to navigate Cincinnati and Memphis at home before finishing at UCF.

      Coach Charlie Strong sees that as motivation for his players.

      "They see that in front of them and they'll come back to work," Strong said. "You've got enough seniors who have enough leadership about them and will get them going."

      Strong hopes to have reinforcements with the return of a couple of injured players -- tight end Jacob Mathias (virus) and defensive tackle Kevin Kegler (unspecified). But starting left tackle Donovan Jennings' status was undetermined early in the week. He injured an ankle in the loss to Temple.

      "He's one of those guys who is very tough," Strong said. "If he can go, he'll go out there and do what he needs to do."

      Jennings' return could be vital. The Owls sacked USF quarterback Jordan McCloud nine times last week. Backup quarterback Jah'Quez Evans, a freshman who rushed for 99 yards in one half against East Carolina on Oct. 26 but sat out last week's game, also is iffy with an undisclosed injury.

      "We're going to test him this week, just to see where we are with his injury to see if he'll be back," Strong said.

      --Field Level Media

  • No. 1 LSU refocuses on trip to Ole Miss
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, November 13, 2019

    No. 1 Louisiana State took control of the SEC West race when it defeated No. 2 Alabama 46-41 last week.

    • By emphatically ending an eight-game losing streak to the Crimson Tide, the Tigers moved past Ohio State and into the top spot in the College Football Playoff rankings. They are so lofty right now that they might be able to suffer a loss and still make the CFP semifinals.

      But LSU (9-0, 5-0) isn't going to take a victory lap just yet. The next step is a road game against Ole Miss (4-6, 2-4) on Saturday night in Oxford.

      "We're going to treat this week just like any other week," Tigers coach Ed Orgeron said. "I think that we have a mature enough team not to look down the road because if we don't beat Ole Miss it won't happen."

      Orgeron understood the LSU-Ole Miss rivalry from both sides, even before he became the Tigers head coach in 2016. He grew up in Louisiana as an LSU fan and was the Rebels head coach from 2005-07.

      He won just three SEC games in three seasons with the Rebels before being fired.

      "Ole Miss was a great opportunity for me," Orgeron said. "It was my first job. It was in the SEC. I learned a lot of things. I learned how to do things; I learned how not to do things. So I'm very appreciative of that job. I don't like the results, but you know what, it prepared me for down the road."

      Now LSU has games against the Rebels, Arkansas and Texas A&M before a likely SEC Championship Game against Georgia -- and perhaps more.

      "The message last week was, 'It's still all about LSU,' and that's how it is every week," Tigers quarterback Joe Burrow said. "We didn't go into last game thinking, 'This is our Super Bowl.' It was just another game where if we played as well as we could play then we'll win the game. We feel like that's the case every week."

      Ole Miss would need to pull off the biggest upset of the season this Saturday and defeat Mississippi State on Thanksgiving night just to get bowl eligible.

      "That was the goal coming into the season, to try and get this program back to the postseason," Rebels coach Matt Luke said.

      "We have two games left and that's what we want to do, we want to win both of them. If it comes down to it at the end, we'll focus on it then. But right now, we have to focus on LSU and find a way to win this football game."

      The Rebels' primary challenge will be to do something no LSU opponent, including Alabama, has been able to do -- slow down Burrow, the Heisman Trophy favorite.

      The senior is completing an astonishing 78.9 percent of his passes for 3,198 yards, 33 touchdowns and four interceptions.

      "We've got nine games worth of tape to watch to try and find out ways to slow him down," Luke said.

      "We've got to get some pressure on him to get him out of his comfort zone a little bit. When the plays are there, we have to make them. When we have an opportunity for an interception, we'll have to take it."

      LSU's Justin Jefferson leads a standout group of receivers, with 62 catches for 898 yards and nine touchdowns. Ja'Marr Chase has hauled in 10 scoring receptions.

      Ole Miss freshman quarterback John Rhys Plumlee is coming off a 177-yard rushing performance in a 41-3 win over New Mexico State. He has 777 rushing yards in seven games this season in coordinator Rich Rodriguez's zone-read offense.

      "I have been blessed with speed and pretty good vision as well," he said. "So, when you break that initial line you only got two or three guys to make miss."

      --Field Level Media

  • No. 8 Minnesota riding a wave into No. 20 Iowa
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, November 13, 2019

    Minnesota football coach P.J. Fleck surfed the locker room after what non-believers would call an upset over Penn State last week, then asked his players to grab a hand.

    • "Whatever you believe in, whoever you believe in, this is what sport does, bring so many people together," Fleck told the group after his 18-second ride.

      "... to do something uncommon, do something extraordinary."

      Making a bronze pig fly might qualify.

      The No. 8 Golden Gophers, who are 9-0 for the first time since 1904, will visit No. 20 Iowa (6-3, 3-3 Big Ten) on Saturday. The winner is awarded possession of the Floyd of Rosedale trophy, a bronze sculpture in the shape of a pig. Iowa has won the last four meetings.

      The Gophers (6-0 Big Ten) jumped nine spots in this week's College Football Playoffs rankings in their history-making season. They are ranked as high as seventh in the AP poll for the first time since 1962.

      "They've earned that right to be ranked that high," Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. "When it gets down to us, trying to play a little cleaner, a little bit better, knowing we have a top-ranked opponent to be the challenge."

      Minnesota quarterback Tanner Morgan, running back Rodney Smith and wide receivers Tyler Johnson and Rashod Bateman lead an offense that has scored at least four touchdowns in every game and is averaging 37.6 points and 432.9 yards.

      Morgan completed 18 of 20 passes for 339 yards and three touchdowns in the 31-26 victory over Penn State, becoming the second FBS quarterback in the last 20 years to have multiple games in a season with a completion percentage of 90 percent (minimum 20 passes). Florida State's Jameis Winston is the other.

      Morgan was 21 of 22 with career highs of 396 yards and four touchdowns in a 38-31 victory at Purdue on Sept. 28, a victory that got this juggernaut rolling.

      If the Gophers are fazed by their ascension after going 7-6 last season and 5-7 in Fleck's first year, it has not shown.

      "We train in pressure situations," Morgan said, adding that the key is "understanding the difference between pressure and stress. Stress is what you can't control. Pressure is earned. You should want pressure, because that means your life is significant and you are doing significant things."

      Gophers defensive back Antoine Winfield Jr. has set a school season record with seven interceptions after getting two against Penn State for a defense that is limiting opponents to 309.8 yards per game. Bateman had a school home-game record 203 yards receiving against the Nittany Lions.

      Minnesota has a two-game cushion in the Big Ten West over Wisconsin with three games remaining. The teams meet in Minneapolis on Nov. 30 to end the regular season.

      Iowa has been close to contention in the West, having lost its three conference games by seven, five and two points, all to ranked teams. The most recent was a 24-22 loss at Wisconsin last Saturday, when Jonathan Taylor rushed for 250 yards, the first Iowa opponent to break 100.

      Ferentz's defense is ranked in the FBS top 20 in rushing, passing, scoring and total defense. The Hawkeyes have given up only 12 touchdowns, behind only Ohio State (eight) and Georgia (10) in the FBS, and have shut out Rutgers and Northwestern.

      --Field Level Media

  • No. 3 Clemson on a terrifying run ahead of Wake Forest visit
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, November 13, 2019

    Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson said he watched a horror movie the other night -- his team's 2018 game film against Clemson.

    • "At the end of the game we had a skeleton crew," Clawson said of the 63-3 defeat. "And Clemson made us pay."

      Clawson is focused on avoiding a repeat viewing when his team faces No. 3 Clemson in an Atlantic Coast Conference game in Clemson, S.C., on Saturday afternoon.

      That might be easier said than done, particularly after finding out that two of his top three wide receivers -- Sage Surratt and Scotty Washington -- will miss the game with injuries. Surratt, who leads the ACC with 1,001 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns, is out for the remainder of the season.

      "This is a game where we would love to be at full strength," Clawson said. "But it is Week 10 and everybody to some degree goes through this."

      Well, except Clemson.

      "They are playing with a two-deep that looks exactly the way they thought it would out of preseason camp," Clawson said. "That is one of the advantages to always playing with a big lead; their kids haven't had to play as many reps as our kids have being in all these one-score games."

      Clemson (10-0, 7-0 ACC) is riding a 25-game winning streak that ranks as the longest active streak in the nation. Coach Dabo Swinney's team has won 21 consecutive home games, has scored at least 45 points in four straight games and has clinched a fifth consecutive berth in the ACC title game.

      Saturday's game was shaping up to be an Atlantic Division showdown until last week when Wake Forest was knocked off by Virginia Tech 36-17. The Deacons (7-2, 3-2) are still in contention for an attractive bowl bid.

      "We have to bounce back and certainly the opponent this week presents every kind of challenge you could ask for," Clawson said. "It's amazing what Dabo and his staff have done down there. It's the combination of great talent and being an extremely well-coached team. They do everything well."

      Clemson has outscored its past five opponents 263-55 since a 21-20 win at North Carolina on Sept. 28. The Tigers rank in the top four nationally in total offense (545.8 yards per game) and total defense (251.5).

      Quarterback Trevor Lawrence has come on strong of late and has thrown at least three touchdown passes in five consecutive games. He is completing 67.1 percent of his 252 passes, for 2,303 yards with 23 touchdowns and eight interceptions.

      Running back Travis Etienne has rushed for more than 1,214 yards and has logged five consecutive 100-yard games. The junior is averaging 8.9 yards per carry this season and 8.1 for his career.

      Clemson's defense has held each of its 10 opponents this season to less than 300 yards.

      "Defensively, with Clemson every year you look at who they are going graduate and you have a little bit of hope, and then you watch the film," Clawson said.

      Saturday's game will be the final home game for 19 Clemson seniors.

      "It's a fun week but a sad week, too," Swinney said. "It's hard to believe we're nearing the end of our season and this is the last home game. This will be the last time to see some great football players play in the Valley."

      --Field Level Media

  • No. 18 Memphis carries momentum into Houston
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, November 13, 2019

    No. 18 Memphis has had enough time to refocus coming off the high of its last game.

    • The Tigers upset then-No. 14 SMU 54-48 at home on Nov. 2 after ESPN's College GameDay show generated a block party on Beale Street earlier in the day.

      The Tigers (8-1, 4-1 American Athletic Conference) play Saturday at struggling Houston (3-6, 1-4) in an important game to keep the Tigers' hopes alive for the AAC West title. Memphis is a half-game behind SMU and Navy, both 5-1, in the West standings, but the Tigers have the tiebreaker edge because they defeated both teams.

      "When you get an opportunity to be on this stage, this platform, you have to play at a very high level," Memphis coach Mike Norvell said of the victory over SMU. "You want respect, you have to take it, you've got to go earn it."

      The Tigers used another strong offensive performance -- 514 total yards and a record-setting performance by receiver Antonio Gibson -- in the win over SMU.

      Gibson set the Memphis record for all-purpose yards (386). He had 159 kickoff-return yards (including a 97-yard return for a touchdown), 130 receiving yards (including a 50-yard touchdown catch) and 97 rushing yards (including a 78-yard touchdown run).

      "I'm a wideout guy at heart. I kind of like running back, but I'm my best at receiver," Gibson said.

      Houston also had two weeks to prepare for this game after losing at UCF 44-29 on Nov. 2. The Cougars have lost three of their last four games, including home contests against Cincinnati and SMU -- both ranked teams. But they were competitive in those games.

      Cincinnati outscored Houston 17-6 in the fourth quarter to win 38-23 on Oct. 12, and SMU withstood a fourth-quarter rally by the Cougars to pull out a 34-31 win on Oct. 24.

      "The schedule did not set up very well for us this year," said Houston coach Dana Holgorsen, whose team may face six ranked opponents this year having also faced Oklahoma and then-No. 20 Washington State, with Memphis and Navy ahead.

      "Hopefully that changes next year. I can assure you I'm going to do a lot of complaining in our meeting. (Athletic director Chris Pezman) has heard it from me a good bit. This schedule sucked.

      "We need to make sure we put our guys in a favorable position moving forward. I'm going to be complaining a lot and doing whatever I can to make sure our schedule sets up better. There's going to be certain years where there's nothing you can do about it."

      In the loss at UCF, Houston's defense could not hold up after the Cougars took a 17-7 lead -- an ominous sign facing Gibson and prolific quarterback Brady White (2,511 passing yards, 26 touchdowns) on Saturday.

      Houston senior running back Mulbah Car rushed for a game-high 132 yards and a pair of touchdowns against the Knights. He ran for 136 yards against SMU.

      If Houston loses one more game, it will be out of the bowl picture for the first time since 2012.

      "We're underdogs again," Holgorsen said. "I guess I'm not doing a very good job of playing that up and explaining to the guys how much fun it would be to knock off a Top 20 team."

      --Field Level Media

  • No. 24 Kansas State faces struggling West Virginia
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, November 13, 2019

    With new head coaches, neither No. 24 Kansas State nor West Virginia knew exactly what they had at the beginning of the season.

    • The Wildcats' Chris Klieman came from the FCS level, where he won four championships in five years at North Dakota State. The Mountaineers' Neal Brown came off a successful stint at Troy from the Sun Belt Conference.

      They meet Saturday in Manhattan, Kan., on different paths.

      Brown took over a program seemingly in better shape than Klieman's when he stepped in after Dana Holgorsen's unexpected departure for Houston. The Mountaineers finished last season tied for third in the Big 12 at 6-3 and were 8-4 overall.

      But West Virginia (3-6, 1-5 Big 12) has lost five consecutive games and must win all three remaining games to be bowl eligible.

      Kansas State (6-3, 3-3) has exceeded nearly everyone's predictions. Picked to finish ninth in the Big 12, K-State has defeated an SEC team (Mississippi State) on the road and then-No. 5 Oklahoma at home. A last-second loss to current No. 19 Texas last Saturday kept the Wildcats from being in prime position to play in the conference championship game.

      "It stinks to lose," Klieman said after the Texas game. "There's no moral victories. Guys are hurting. But (I'm) proud of the way the guys fought and battled. We need to bounce back and have a great week of prep and get ready for the next one."

      The key for Kansas State has been balance. The Wildcats are averaging 198.8 rushing yards per game and 180.7 through the air. Their point production favors the ground game, with 25 touchdowns on the ground through nine games, compared to just nine via the pass.

      Quarterback Skylar Thompson had his career-best in passing yards against Texas (253), but after running for seven touchdowns in the previous two games against Oklahoma and Kansas, he was held out of the end zone.

      Ironically, Brown was the choice of a large chunk of Kansas State fans when Hall of Fame coach Bill Snyder retired following the 2018 season. Brown was 35-16 in his four seasons at Troy, including 31-7 in his final three seasons, when he won three bowl games. Instead, he took the job in Morgantown.

      The Mountaineers have struggled on both sides of the ball in Brown's first season.

      They average 253.9 passing yards per game but rank 111th out of 130 teams in total offense because the ground game is managing only 75.8 yards per game. The defense is allowing 421.0 yards per game, and Kansas State will be sure to test a run defense yielding 172.1 yards on average.

      "It was a frustrating day all around," Brown said after West Virginia's 38-17 home loss to Texas Tech in which the Red Raiders led 35-10 at halftime. "I don't have any words of wisdom. We got off to an extremely poor start defensively. We settled down and did some things better, but we've got to be ready to go defensively."

      One bright spot last week was freshman receiver Sam James, who had 14 receptions for 223 yards.

      Oklahoma transfer quarterback Austin Kendall has struggled at times this season -- 12 touchdowns, 10 interceptions -- and might have to hold off Bowling Green transfer Jarret Doege, who appeared in his first game last week, completing 11 of 17 passes for 119 yards and a touchdown.

      --Field Level Media

  • No. 2 Ohio State huge favorite against Rutgers
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, November 13, 2019

    Ohio State might not have star defensive end Chase Young back as the NCAA investigates a possible violation for accepting a loan, but it likely won't make a difference when the No. 2 Buckeyes play at Rutgers on Saturday in Piscataway, N.J.

    • The Scarlet Knights (2-7, 0-6 Big Ten) are about 53-point underdogs after the Buckeyes (9-0, 6-0) ripped Maryland 73-14 last Saturday.

      By comparison, visiting Maryland defeated Rutgers 48-7 on Oct. 5 in the Scarlet Knights' first game under interim coach Nunzio Campanile after Chris Ash -- a former Ohio State defensive coach -- was fired.

      The Buckeyes didn't miss Young, who leads the nation with 13 1/2 sacks despite being suspended for the Maryland game. OSU recorded seven sacks and limited the Terrapins to 139 yards.

      Ohio State coach Ryan Day said Tuesday that Chase is practicing with the intent of playing Saturday, but he has no knowledge of when a ruling may come.

      Rutgers did not play last weekend, but even with added practice time they will be hard pressed to stop the Buckeyes, considering no team has done so this season.

      Ohio State is fifth nationally in total offense (535.9 yards per game game) after compiling 705 vs. Maryland and is No. 1 in total defense (214.8) and scoring defense (8.6 points per game).

      The Buckeyes have scored the most touchdowns (62) and given up the fewest (eight).

      Quarterback Justin Fields remains in the Heisman Trophy discussion behind LSU quarterback Joe Burrow. Fields is completing 68.2 percent of his passes, with 27 touchdowns and just one interception. He has rushed for 10 scores. Junior running back J.K. Dobbins (1,200 yards) has 11 rushing touchdowns in his third 1,000-yards season.

      Rutgers' best chance is to hope the Buckeyes are looking ahead to playing Penn State at home on Oct. 23 and ending the regular season the following Saturday at Michigan.

      Day said the Buckeyes will take Rutgers seriously.

      "We certainly have respect for everybody we play," Day said. "I've known Nunzio a long time. He's going to do a great job.

      "(Rutgers) has had a week off, and those guys are going to come out play really, really hard. If we're going to take anything for granted, if they (think) we're just going to show up in Piscataway and win a game, that's not going to happen."

      The Scarlet Knights are on their third quarterback. McLane Carter retired after sustaining a concussion in the second game. Artur Sitkowski decided to redshirt after playing in three games.

      Redshirt freshman Johnny Langan has the unenviable task of facing a defense that limited Maryland to 77 yards passing. Langan in his most recent game, a 38-10 loss to Illinois, was 5 for 10 for 86 yards and was sacked three times.

      Campanile and his players have more than just the Buckeyes on their mind. Rumors swirl that former Scarlet Knights head coach and ex-OSU assistant Greg Schiano will return to Rutgers.

      "Really the biggest thing is making sure that it doesn't affect the players," Campanile said. "I think they've done a really good job of it. I'm sure they read all the stuff and hear all the stuff, but we're just trying to talk about going out and getting better every day and kind of staying on the path for growth."

      --Field Level Media

  • No. 19 Texas figures to have hands full at Iowa State
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, November 13, 2019

    Expect a little bit of anything and everything on Saturday afternoon when enigmatic No. 19 Texas squares off against talented and hungry Iowa State in a key Big 12 Conference contest in Ames, Iowa.

    • A win for the Longhorns (6-3, 4-2 Big 12) would keep them in line for a spot in the Big 12 championship game. Texas trails undefeated Baylor and once-beaten Oklahoma in the league standings, with the Bears and Sooners set to play Saturday.

      If the Cyclones (5-4, 3-3) can beat Texas, they will become bowl eligible for the third season in a row for just the second time in school history and help exorcise some of the demons they have endured during a crazy first three-fourths of the regular season.

      Texas's defense has been its Achilles' heel, but was better -- like night and day better -- when it allowed Kansas State just 304 yards in the Longhorns' 27-24 win last Saturday.

      Several Texas players were quick to point out that the effort was what the Longhorns are capable of when they are healthy and have nearly all their most important defensive players on the field, including safeties Caden Sterns and B.J. Foster.

      "This is what happens when we're fully healthy," Texas nose tackle Keondre Coburn said. "This is a great team, unbelievable team. We never pointed at each other; we never gave up. We just kept doing the game plan that we were given, and we just executed better."

      The Longhorns got more good news on the defensive injury front Monday, when coach Tom Herman announced that safety Chris Brown, who broke his right arm against Oklahoma on Oct. 9, has been cleared to play this week.

      "(Brown's broken arm) healed faster than he anticipated and the doctor cleared him on Friday to play with a cast on," Herman said Monday. "To know that we're going to have him here this week is a big boost to our defense and to special teams."

      Herman also said that linebacker Jeffrey McCulloch, who separated his shoulder against OU, is progressing better and should be able to play against the Cyclones.

      Iowa State heads home after a gut-wrenching 42-41 loss Saturday at Oklahoma. The Cyclones battled back from a 42-28 deficit in the fourth quarter but failed on a two-point conversion pass late in the game that could have flipped the script.

      The attempt failed when Brock Purdy's well-placed pass into La'Michael Pettway's belly was intercepted. by Oklahoma's Parnell Motley.

      "It looked like we had a chance to catch the ball but it got intercepted at the end of it," Iowa State coach Matt Campbell said. "Credit to them. They made the great play at the end of the game to win the game."

      Iowa State has lost four games by a combined 11 points this year -- all to teams in the CFP rankings: Iowa (18-17), Baylor (23-21), Oklahoma State (34-27) and Oklahoma.

      Given Texas's struggles on defense, this game sets up well for the Cyclones. Iowa State ranks 16th nationally in total offense (479.2 yards per game), which is on pace to break the school record of 439.6 set in 1976.

      The Cyclones have recorded more than 400 yards of offense in eight of nine games. Their lowest offensive game of the season was a 372-yard effort vs. West Virginia.

      "We try not to look ahead," Campbell said about Texas after the OU loss. "We've always had the ability to look at ourselves, figure out what we did well, what we didn't do well and get back to work. That's what it's going to take for this team to continue to move forward."

      Texas leads the series at 14-2. Iowa State's lone win over the Longhorns in Ames was in 2015 (24-0).

      --Field Level Media

  • Much on line when No. 4 Georgia meets No. 12 Auburn
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, November 13, 2019

    Saturday's game between No. 4 Georgia and No. 12 Auburn will be like most of the previous 123 meetings between the Southeastern Conference rivals. There's a ton on the line.

    • For Georgia (8-1, 5-1 SEC), a win sends the Bulldogs back to Atlanta as the SEC East champion for the third year in a row, while the Tigers (7-2, 4-2) would love to keep that from happening and remain in line for a possible major bowl.

      People wanting to see an offensive shootout better check their expectations at the door.

      Although both programs rank in the top five when it comes to total offense in the SEC (Georgia third, Auburn fifth), it's defense that has both programs where they are.

      The Tigers rank third in the SEC in scoring defense (17.4 points per game), while the Bulldogs are second nationally in scoring defense (10.1) and fifth nationally in total defense (260.3 yards per game). Georgia, which also leads the league in rushing defense at 74.6 yards per game, has yet to allow a rushing touchdown.

      Auburn coach Gus Malzahn -- whose Tigers are second in the SEC in rushing (219.3 yards per game) -- is impressed with Georgia.

      "They've got a lot of defensive linemen they play, and when they put other guys in there, there really isn't a drop off," Malzahn said. "Real impressed, obviously, with the run defense. I don't think they've given up a rushing touchdown all season -- which, that hadn't happened in, what, the last 20 years in college football. So that tells you a lot.

      "I think they're solid on the back end, too. They've got some guys that can really run. And like I said, we're playing one of the more talented teams in the entire country -- maybe the most talented. But they're impressive to watch on film."

      Georgia's offense will have a challenge of its own.

      The Tigers boast what is arguably the nation's top defensive front, led by seniors Derrick Brown and Marlon Davidson, two very big reasons Auburn is allowing just 112.7 rushing yards per game.

      "Their defense speaks for itself. They've got a ton of guys that are going to be drafted on it," Georgia coach Kirby Smart said.

      "They got guys that seem like they have played in our conference for 10 years, and it seems like we've played against that defensive group a lot, because all those guys, seemed like they started as freshmen from the secondary to the front.

      "So, they've done a great job. Coach (Kevin) Steele does a great job with their defense. They play really hard, and they've got a really good football team. So, we've got a huge challenge this week, especially coming off the physical game we just had."

      Quarterbacks will play a huge role. For Georgia, that's junior Jake Fromm, who comes in with excellent experience in big-time games, against Auburn talented freshman Bo Nix, who has played better at home than he has on the road.

      Nix was 30 of 44 for a career-high 340 yards last week in a 20-14 home win over Ole Miss.

      "I know he's excited," Malzahn said. "It's his first game against Georgia. So, we'll see what happens."

      --Field Level Media

  • No. 16 Notre Dame wary of No. 23 Navy
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, November 12, 2019

    Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly has spent much of this week studying film of No. 23 Navy and he is impressed.

    • "Really good football team," Kelly said. "Deserving of being nationally ranked."

      The same could be said for No. 16 Notre Dame.

      The Fighting Irish (7-2) will host Navy (7-1) on Saturday afternoon in the 93rd meeting between the programs -- and the first time since 1978 that both teams have been ranked. In that meeting 41 years ago, No. 15 Notre Dame and a promising quarterback named Joe Montana pulled away for a 27-7 win over No. 11 Navy.

      No one is comparing Fighting Irish quarterback Ian Book with Montana, now in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but the senior from California has showed plenty of poise this season. Book has passed for 2,009 yards, 21 touchdowns and six interceptions, and he has rushed for 390 yards and four touchdowns.

      In his most recent performance, Book passed for 181 yards and four touchdowns, and he had 139 rushing yards on 12 carries. Chris Finke caught two touchdowns and Chase Claypool and George Takacs hauled in one apiece as Notre Dame cruised to a 38-7 win over Duke for its second straight victory.

      Navy also enters the weekend feeling confident. The Midshipmen have won five games in a row, including a 56-10 victory over Connecticut last Friday.

      The lopsided score allowed Navy to rack up 51 rushes compared with six pass attempts in the game. The Midshipmen typically lean on their triple-option rushing attack, which can perplex opposing defenses.

      A reporter informed Kelly this week that two high schools near South Bend also featured the triple option.

      "I would rather play them," Kelly deadpanned.

      What made the offense so effective?

      "Well, I mean, they've seen everything," Kelly said. "First of all, their in-game adjustments, the ability, and certainly the coaching. They can make adjustments to what you're trying to do in a split second.

      "You've got the best and brightest that are playing at the academy that can make some quick adjustments in game, at halftime, so they're not going to be fooled by what they see."

      The Midshipmen are led by quarterback Malcolm Perry, who has 1,042 rushing yards on 157 carries for a 6.6-yard average. He also has scored 16 rushing touchdowns. Perry has completed 29 of 53 passes for 722 yards, five touchdowns and three interceptions.

      Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo said he and his players are pleased but not fully satisfied with their season.

      "From where we were last year (finishing 3-10), to be 7-1 at this point, I'm encouraged," Niumatalolo said in comments published by the Baltimore Sun. "It's a testament to our senior leadership. They did a great job during the offseason of building the culture of our program.

      "Our mantra has been 1-0. Just think about winning the next game. It's great to be 7-1, but we don't want to stop here. We want to keep pressing forward."

      --Field Level Media

  • Mississippi St. expects to see 'Bama's best
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, November 12, 2019

    Alabama coach Nick Saban clearly was in no mood to rehash his team's 46-41 loss to Louisiana State when he met with media to discuss the Crimson Tide's upcoming outing against Mississippi State on Saturday in Starkville, saying the focus is on "how we complete the season."

    • Despite the loss, the Tide (8-1, 5-1 Southeastern Conference) clearly remain in contention for their sixth consecutive berth in the College Football Playoff.

      "We have kind of a legacy around here that we've had only one team in the last 12 years that's lost more than one game in a regular season," Saban said, referring to the 2010 Tide team that finished the regular season 9-3. "I'd like for this team to continue that."

      The Tide haven't lost back-to-back games in the regular season since dropping four in a row in 2007, Saban's first year in Tuscaloosa. That also marks their last loss to Mississippi State. They lost their regular-season finale to Auburn in 2008 and then the Sugar Bowl to Utah, but haven't lost consecutive outings since.

      The Bulldogs (4-5, 2-4 SEC) are coming off an open date after ending a four-game losing streak with a 54-24 rout of Arkansas in their last outing. Coach Joe Moorhead expects to get the Tide's best shot.

      "In my mind we are not anticipating any lingering effect or hangover or anything where they have their chins on their chest," Moorhead said. "I would imagine that I know what Coach Saban is going to stress to the team and the type of players they have. We are expecting their best and they are going to get our best as well."

      The Bulldogs are one of the top rushing teams in the conference (No. 3 at 217.0 ypg) and have the league's top rusher in running back Kylin Hill (1,027). They have been playing two quarterbacks, and freshman Garrett Shrader and senior Tommy Stevens are separated by an "or" at No. 1 on the depth chart for this game.

      "The good news is that Garrett is back to being completely healthy," Moorhead said. "We went through practice yesterday and both the guys got reps. Tommy got most of the reps with the 1s and Garrett with the 2s. We are going to continue to progress it through and see how Garrett is coming along."

      Shrader is considered more of a runner (504 rushing yards) and Stevens a passer (687 passing yards in six games), though Saban doesn't see it that way.

      "I don't really think that I see a lot of difference in what they do whichever quarterback plays," Saban said. "They kind of run their offense. They run a lot of quarterback runs with both guys, and they run the same kind of passing game with both guys."

      Saban said his quarterback, junior Tua Tagovailoa, came out of the loss to LSU a little sore after going the distance with his sprained ankle, but no further issues developed. Tagovailoa had ankle surgery the day after the Tide's win over Tennessee.

      "We'll have to manage it day to day," Saban said.

      --Field Level Media

  • Miles returns to Oklahoma State with Kansas
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, November 12, 2019

    Les Miles coached his last home game for Oklahoma State 15 years ago, and sometimes it seems hard to remember his presence with the Cowboys.

    • Miles left for Louisiana State and went on to bigger things, coaching the Tigers to a national championship. Now, he's back in the Big 12, attempting to turn around Kansas (3-6, 1-5 Big 12), which visits No. 22 Oklahoma State (6-3, 3-3) on Saturday at Stillwater, Okla.

      "It was a wonderful time for the Miles family and for us to be there. Very significant victories. It was great," said Miles, who coached the Cowboys from 2001-04.

      The reunion could feel somewhat odd for Miles, beginning with the ornate makeover of a stadium renamed for T. Boone Pickens, the oil tycoon whose $165 million donation helped catapult Oklahoma State to national prominence in football.

      Mike Gundy was promoted to take over for Miles and became the Cowboys' all-time winningest coach. When Miles showed up at the Big 12 meetings in May, Gundy (127-62 in his 15th season) called it "a bit unusual," but welcomed his former boss.

      "He and I butted heads a lot, but in the end we agreed and ended up on the same page,'" Gundy said. "We supported each other, and we were good at moving the football together. We had a good relationship."

      Miles can be credited for providing a significant push forward during his four seasons at Oklahoma State, leading the Cowboys to three straight bowls. This season, Oklahoma State already is eligible to participate in a 14th consecutive bowl under Gundy.

      Each team is coming off bye weeks.

      Oklahoma State sophomore Chuba Hubbard leads the nation with 1,604 rushing yards and a 178.2-yard average. He is coming off a 223-yard performance against TCU, the first time an opposing rusher gouged one of Gary Patterson's defensive units for 200 yards.

      "With Chuba, all you have to do is get in the way of people and he'll just run right around them,'" said guard Ry Schneider, aware that his teammate has seven carries for 50-plus yards.

      Kansas counters with shifty Pooka Williams. The sophomore has 765 rushing yards in eight games and needs 110 yards to reach the 2,000-yard mark as a sophomore, a feat also accomplished at Kansas by Gale Sayers.

      The Jayhawks are coming off a 38-10 home defeat to Kansas State in which they scored their only touchdown inside the final minute. On the road, Kansas is averaging 431 yards in offense but faces an Oklahoma State program that has won nine straight in the series.

      A slim chance exists for bowl eligibility, though the Jayhawks must win out over their final three games.

      The Cowboys used the off week to adjust even more to the loss of standout receiver Tylan Wallace (knee).

      "I am incredibly grateful that I was able to step up and make plays for my team,'" said junior receiver Dillon Stoner, who had two touchdown receptions against TCU. "I wish (Wallace) was out there doing it, but I know he's going to recover.'"

      --Field Level Media

  • No. 15 Michigan rolls into rivalry vs. Michigan State
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, November 12, 2019

    For a change, Jim Harbaugh isn't the coach feeling the most heat heading into one of Michigan's rivalry games.

    • Harbaugh hasn't recorded a win over Ohio State since taking over the Wolverines program in 2015. He's 2-2 against in-state rival Michigan State, but the Wolverines lost both meetings in Ann Arbor. Michigan hasn't defeated the Spartans at the Big House since 2012, but it will try again Saturday.

      No. 15 Michigan (7-2, 4-2 Big Ten) defeated its past two opponents, Notre Dame and Maryland, by a combined score of 83-21 before getting a bye week.

      Michigan State (4-5, 2-4) carries a four-game losing streak into the annual matchup.

      Coach Mark Dantonio has been criticized for being too loyal to his assistants and not adapting his offensive scheme to keep up with his peers. Several players also transferred during the season, cutting into the team's depth.

      The Spartans' offensive woes were apparent in the first three games of the slide, as they managed just 17 total points. This past Saturday, their offense racked up 526 yards but they blew a 25-point lead at home and fell 37-34 to Illinois.

      "It's one that I'll carry with me for probably the rest of my life, but that's coaching," Dantonio said of the collapse.

      With Dantonio under fire, Harbaugh expects the Spartans to throw the proverbial kitchen sink at his team.

      "On high alert for everything," Harbaugh said. "Specifically, we understand that Coach Dantonio is a master motivator. There could be trick plays. Special teams, the punt fakes, field goal fakes. Everything needs to be alerted and prepared and readied for."

      Defenses have ruled the past two meetings.

      Michigan State pulled out a 14-10 win on a rainy night in Ann Arbor two years ago. Last season, the Wolverines left East Lansing with a 21-7 victory. Michigan hasn't recorded back-to-back victories over the Spartans since winning six straight from 2002-07.

      "It's one of my favorite games to play in every year," Wolverines offensive lineman Ben Bredeson said.

      "I love the rivalry games, the big games. That's what you play college football for. We've had some good games here in the last three years, some memorable ones for sure, and I'm looking forward to another one this Saturday. Owning the state of Michigan is always a big thing for the two programs."

      Dantonio expects emotions to run high on both sides.

      "If you don't like confrontation, this probably isn't a good game to go to, because it's just the way it is," he said.

      "It's just natural. You've got guys that have played against each other in high school. You've got guys that have played already in this football game. So it's a competitive environment, and the biggest thing that we need to do is have total focus on what we need to do at the right time and not make mistakes and just play hard. Play harder than hard."

      Both teams have dynamic freshman running backs.

      The Spartans will try to grind out a win behind running back Elijah Collins, who rushed for 170 yards and two touchdowns against the Illini. He has 715 rushing yards this season. Michigan's Zach Charbonnet has scored 11 touchdowns, including two in each of the team's past three games.

      Spartans quarterback Brian Lewerke has thrown 12 touchdown passes this season but only two during the losing streak while getting picked off six times. Michigan's Shea Patterson has tossed 12 touchdown passes this season, compared to four interceptions.

      --Field Level Media

  • LSU new No. 1 in CFP rankings; Tide down to No. 5
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, November 12, 2019

    LSU's victory at Alabama vaulted the Tigers to No. 1 in the second week of the College Football Playoffs rankings, released Tuesday night.

    • The selection committee elevated 9-0 LSU from the second spot after the Tigers' 46-41 win Saturday over the Crimson Tide, who fell to No. 5. Ohio State (9-0) dropped to No. 2 after a 73-14 victory over Maryland.

      "We spent some time discussing it," selection committee chairman Rob Mullens, the athletic director at Oregon, said of the top two spots.

      "We have two great teams at the top in LSU and Ohio State. Just like I said last week -- the committee is really impressed with Ohio State and the consistent level of high play. But when you look at LSU's resume with a win over Alabama on the road, that makes it their fourth top-20 win, and they're the only team in the nation with that.

      "They're deserving of that No. 1 ranking."

      The Tigers also have wins over Texas (No. 19 in this week's rankings), Florida (No. 11) and Auburn (No. 12).

      Clemson (10-0) is third, with Georgia (8-1) fourth ahead of Alabama (8-1), which was third last week.

      The Bulldogs got the nod on the strength of wins over No. 16 Notre Dame and Florida, Mullens said.

      "Alabama just has the tough loss against LSU, but you compare that against Georgia's resume and the two big wins that Georgia has," Mullens said.

      The top four teams in the final CFP rankings will head to the national semifinals, to be played Dec. 29 at the Peach Bowl in Atlanta and the Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, Ariz.

      The national final is scheduled for Jan. 13 at the Superdome in New Orleans.

      The rest of the top 10 is No. 6 Oregon (8-1), No. 7 Utah (8-1), No. 8 Minnesota (9-0), No. 9 Penn State (8-1) and No. 10 Oklahoma (8-1). The Gophers jumped from 17th after knocking off the Nittany Lions on Saturday night for their first significant victory of the season.

      "When you watched the game last week, they beat a Penn State team that was ranked No. 4 ... we were really impressed with what Minnesota did," Mullens said.

      The only unbeaten team not in the top 10 is No. 13 Baylor (9-0).

      The top-rated team from the Group of Five conferences (American Athletic, Conference USA, Mid-American, Mountain West, Sun Belt) is 8-1 Cincinnati at No. 17.

      --Field Level Media

  • No. 11 Florida awaits chilly reception at Missouri
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, November 12, 2019

    No. 11 Florida visits Missouri on Saturday to battle more than the Tigers in a Southeastern Conference game in Columbia, Mo.

    • The 11 a.m. local kickoff time likely will include temperatures in the 40s. That's fine for some people, though not necessarily those nicknamed Gators. The average kickoff temperature for Florida games this season has been 76.3 degrees, with the coldest being 56 degrees at South Carolina on Oct. 19.

      "That's why we live in Florida," Gators coach Dan Mullen said Monday after being asked about the Missouri weather. "I was looking at their temperature right now and it's 22 and snowing.

      "If you're a competitor, I don't care if you put the ball down at 2 o'clock in the morning in the middle of the parking lot -- let's go play. If that's not your mindset, you're not really a competitor."

      The Gators (8-2, 5-2 SEC), who trounced visiting Vanderbilt 56-0 last weekend, will be trying to avenge losses to Missouri in each of the past two years. The Tigers won 45-16 at home in 2017 before prevailing 38-17 in The Swamp last season.

      Missouri (5-4, 2-3) has lost three straight games -- 21-14 at Vanderbilt, 29-7 at Kentucky, 27-0 at Georgia -- to fall to 0-4 on the road. However, the Tigers are 5-0 at Memorial Stadium.

      Missouri hasn't played at home since an Oct. 12 victory against Mississippi.

      "Our kids are excited about (being back home)," coach Barry Odom said Tuesday. "We obviously need to play better, we need to play well."

      That hasn't been a problem at home, where the Tigers have averaged 40.4 points, allowed 11.6 points and have earned three Power 5 wins, including against South Carolina and Ole Miss.

      Missouri expects quarterback Kelly Bryant to return against the Gators. The graduate transfer from Clemson missed last week's loss at Georgia after suffering a hamstring injury two weeks earlier at Kentucky.

      "Unless there's a setback, I fully anticipate him playing and playing well," Odom said.

      Bryant has completed 140 of 225 passes (62.2 percent) for 1,845 yards, 14 touchdowns and five interceptions in eight games this season.

      Gators quarterback Kyle Trask is coming off a stellar performance against Vanderbilt. He passed for a career-high 363 yards and three touchdowns and ran for another.

      Trask said he was not overly concerned about Saturday's weather in Columbia, adding he played in "30s and raining" while in high school in Manvel, Texas.

      "As a quarterback, you want to throw it the same way whether it's raining or the sun's out," Trask said Monday. "You can't give (the ball) the death grip, because it's not going to go anywhere."

      Mullen said he expected defensive lineman Jabari Zuniga (ankle) and right guard Brett Heggie (concussion) to return after missing the Vanderbilt game. Odom said receiver Johnathon Johnson (shoulder strain) was day-to-day but "other than that, we've got everybody healthy."

      Both teams rely on strong defenses. The Tigers give up 287.8 yards per game (10th nationally); the Gators allow 308.2 (14th).

      Offensively, Florida averages 419.5 yards (ranked 56th nationally), while Missouri is at 402.9 yards per game (72nd nationally).

      --Field Level Media

  • No. 14 Wisconsin renews 'rivalry' at Nebraska
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, November 12, 2019

    Nebraska and No. 14 Wisconsin play on Saturday in Lincoln, Neb., with some Badgers wondering if the annual matchup is really a rivalry these days.

    • "I think it was a big rivalry back before they had the trophy, so they created the trophy, and now it hasn't left here. I don't know if it's much of a rivalry anymore," said Wisconsin senior outside linebacker Zack Baun.

      The winner of the game gets the Freedom Trophy, which was unveiled in 2014. The Badgers (7-2, 4-2) have won six straight in series against the Huskers (4-5, 2-4), so the trophy has had permanent residence in Madison.

      Senior outside linebacker Chris Orr considers the game a rivalry because it pits Big Ten West opponents, and he said the trophy adds a "physical presence."

      Nebraska coach Scott Frost said he'd like the Huskers to become consistent and compete on the same level with Wisconsin. Nebraska, coming off a bye week, has lost three consecutive games.

      "We need to get our program to where we can give them a run and compete with them because they've consistently probably the best team in our half for quite a few years," Frost said.

      "Hats off to them and credit to where they are as a program. They're probably going to have a target on their back from every Big Ten West team for a while because they've been at the top."

      Wisconsin brings a bit of momentum to Lincoln following a 24-22 victory over then-No. 18 Iowa last weekend.

      A key point will be how well the Badgers contain Huskers sophomore quarterback Adrian Martinez. Wisconsin ranks second nationally in yards allowed (231.4 yards per game) and third in passing efficiency defense (94.90 rating).

      The dual-threat Martinez has completed 110 of 185 passes for 1,492 yards, seven touchdowns and six interceptions. He also has 97 rushes for 399 yards and five scores.

      "It's a really explosive, good offense," Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst said. "It stresses you and everybody has to do their part in it. True assignment football. They've got a lot of playmakers and it certainly starts with him."

      Wisconsin's victory over the Hawkeyes showcased the Badgers' success in the passing and running games.

      Junior running back Jonathan Taylor, who has scored 19 touchdowns this season, had 31 rushes for 250 yards, both season highs. Taylor was a fringe Heisman candidate until the Badgers were upset 24-23 at Illinois on Oct. 19 and then lost by 31 at Ohio State a week later. Taylor has 5,430 rushing yards and 44 rushing touchdowns in his career.

      In two games against the Huskers, Taylor has rushed 49 times for 470 yards.

      Junior wide receiver Quintez Cephus caught five passes for 94 yards and one touchdown against Iowa, while junior wide receiver Danny Davis scored via a run and reception.

      Junior quarterback Jack Coan continues to be a steady presence under center. He ranks fourth nationally in completion percentage (73.2) and has thrown 12 touchdowns with three interceptions.

      Coan was 16 of 25 for 173 yards, two touchdowns and one pick against Iowa.

      --Field Level Media