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Who will contend for College Football Playoff?

The BCS is dead. Finally!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Switzer on Manziel

UCF stuns Baylor

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

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

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

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

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

Michigan State overpowers Stanford

Who will be the new Texas Longhorns coach?

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

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

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

College Football Week 15, NFL Week 14 Free Picks

The best and worst of college football

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Baylor, Oregon and Florida suffer embarrassing losses

College Football Week 13, NFL Week 12 Free Picks

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

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

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

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

Texas loses running back Jonathan Gray for rest of season

Can Brady Hoke bring Michigan back to elite status?

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

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

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

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

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

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

College Football Week 11, NFL Week 10 Free Picks

College Football Week 10, NFL Week 9 Free Picks

These are two very different 7-0 teams. On one side you have the Hurricanes, who trailed in the fourth quarter in each of their last two games. On the other you had Seminoles, who have scored 40 or more points in seven consecutive games and the closet thing they came to losing was beating Boston College by double-digit points. Miami's offense has been inconsistent of late and while its defense has held strong since the start of the season, no opponent has been a hurdle for Heisman candidate Jameis Winston. The Seminoles are 4-1 against the spread in their last five home games and 4-1 ATS versus a team with a winning record. Lay the points.

Outside of the Miami-FSU tilt on Saturday night, there aren't many sexy matchups on the Week 10 schedule. But that doesn't mean there isn't value to be had. Kansas State is 0-4 against the spread in its last four games following a straight up win while Iowa State is 7-3 ATS in its last 10 road games versus a team with a losing home record. The road team is also 3-1-1 against the spread in the last five meetings between these two teams while the underdog is 4-1-1 against the number in the last six meetings. The Cyclones are 1-6 on the year but take a closer look at their losses prior to their beat down at Baylor and last week versus Oklahoma State. They covered rather easily against Texas Tech and should have beaten Texas if it weren't for a last-second collapse. The Wildcats, meanwhile, couldn't be further from the team that opened the 2012 season winning its first 10 games. Take the points on this inflated spread.

One would think that with this being the "Ryan Bowl" that we'll see plenty of defense. But who knows the tendencies of the Ryan-led defenses better than the offenses for the Saints and Jets? Despite Jimmy Graham playing on an injured foot, Drew Brees threw for five touchdowns last week in a win over Buffalo, including two TD passes to his banged up tight end. Meanwhile, the over is 5-1 in the Jets' last six games overall, 4-1 in their last five games versus a team with a winning record and 13-5-2 in their last 20 games in November. With New York's front seven taking away the Saints' running game, look for Brees to pick on the Jets' secondary. This game won't lack for big plays.

Washington's defense has been putrid this season while allowing 32.7 points per game (31st in the NFL). In fact, the over is 7-2-1 in Washington's last 10 games after allowing more than 30 points in its previous game (its allowed over 80 points the past two weeks ago), and 7-3 in its last 10 games after allowing more than 350 total yards in its previous game. On the other side, the over is 7-1 in the Chargers' last eight games in Week 9 and 39-18-4 in their lat 61 road games. Points shouldn't be a problem on Sunday in Washington.

Upset Saturday

College Football Week 7, NFL Week 6 Free Picks

The Tigers are back in the AP top 25 for the first time in two years and are coming off a 51-28 drubbing of Vanderbilt on the road last Saturday. Quarterback James Franklin has looked sharp in the early going and has weapons at his disposal in Henry Josey and dynamic playmaker Dorial Green-Beckham. On the other side, No. 7 Georgia barely escaped Knoxville with a victory last weekend and is severely banged up offensively. The Bulldogs will be without running backs Keith Marshall and Todd Gurely, as well as recievers Michael Bennett and Justin Scott-Wesley. And while quarterback Aaron Murray has put on a show in back-to-back weeks, the defense still has plenty of holes after losing a handful of starters to the NFL draft back in April. Georgia is tough to beat in between the hedges, but look for Mizzou to keep things tight. FREE PICK: MISSOURI +7.5

Two weeks ago there was plenty of chatter surrounding the 3-0 Rebels as they headed into Tuscaloosa. But following a 25-0 blanking at the hands of Alabama and a 30-22 upset last week versus Auburn, Ole Miss has once again fallen off the map. On the other side, A&M has completely regrouped following its loss to Alabama. The Aggies thumped a hapless SMU squad 42-13 before out-pacing Arkansas 45-33 two weeks ago in Fayetteville. Kevin Sumlin's team is well rested coming off the bye and more importantly his defense has started to show signs of life. The spread is too low for this game, as "Johnny Football" and Co. should roll.

It was impressive to watch Geno Smith lead the Jets to a huge road victory over the Falcons on Monday Night Football, but suddenly the national media has made him into Randall Cunningham. Thanks to a rash of injuries the Falcons were without their starting running back, left tackle, middle linebacker, one of their outside linebackers, one of their starting defensive ends and were forced to play a hobbled Roddy White and Julio Jones because their reciveving corps is so thin. In other words, what the Jets did was impressive but they didn't exactly beat the same Atlanta team that came within 10 yards of going to the Super Bowl last year. The Steelers are coming off their bye and thus, should have had plenty of time to regroup and iron out their issues on both sides of the ball. While it's shocking to see the Giants at 0-6 on the year, it would be even more surprising to watch the Steelers fall to 0-5.

The Texans are in the middle of a freefall because quarterback Matt Schaub can't protect the football. He's had an interception returned for a touchdown in four straight games and has seemingly lost his confidence. That said, Houston's running game has remained effective and its defense still boasts the likes of Brian Cushing and J.J. Watt, who is the best interior defensive lineman in the league. The Rams are coming off a win over the winless Jaguars but they still struggle with penalties, third down conversions on both sides of the ball, and run defense. Sam Bradford has also reverted back into a check-down machine and should be under constant duress in Houston. Look for the Texans to get back on track on Sunday.

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