No Todd Gurley for two more weeks and no spot in the top 10 of the College Football Playoff rankings for Georgia? Have no fear, Bulldogs, our Edward Aschoff is here with a pep talk.

Hey Georgia Bulldogs, lift those chins up and poke those chests out. You've got a playoff run to make.

[+] EnlargeTodd Gurley
Joe Robbins/Getty ImagesHey Georgia, it's on you to win the next two games. If you are able to do that, you'll get this guy back for the big one against Auburn.
 The past few days haven't been very kind to you guys at all. It started with hope, as rumors swirled that star running back Todd Gurley would be back in time to help trample the Gators in Jacksonville. He was even reportedly taking first-team reps.

Then, the first tattered domino fell Tuesday night. The College Football Playoff committee wasn't very impressed with you. Couple that bad, early-season loss to a less-than-impressive South Carolina team with what the committee must have thought was a soft first-half slate, and you debuted in the College Football Playoff Rankings at No. 11. I even agree that the best win Georgia has is against Clemson, which just happens to be ranked No. 21, but come on. Eleventh? This team is better than that.

However, that wasn't the most disheartening news. On Wednesday, you found out that Gurley will have to sit out two more games for accepting more than $3,000 in cash from multiple individuals for autographed memorabilia. The NCAA then arrogantly boasted that it could have made things even worse for Gurley, adding a little gasoline to the already effervescent flame dancing on the program.

But fear not, Dawgs. Grab those hoses, because there's plenty of time to prove the committee wrong.

Don't like the committee or Twitter tell you that you aren't a beautiful butterfly. Don't let esteemed ESPN colleague Andrea Adelson try and steal your shine! (I heard what she said about you guys on our Spreecast, too.) You guys are the real deal, right now, and you have a chance to really impress the committee with what you have ahead in November.

Plus, you'll start the month without Gurley. Yes, he's out against a struggling Florida team and a Kentucky team still looking to grow, but Nick Chubb will once again have to carry the rushing load with Keith Marshall and Sony Michel sidelined. Hey, if he keeps trucking along without help, the committee will have to take that into account. This kid is a true freshman, yet he's dazzling fans and punishing defenders barely removed from his senior prom. Not to add anymore pressure to his already piled plate, but he does look like a young Gurley.

People want to trash your schedule? You know, the one you were dealt and had no control over this season? Well, you still have No. 3 Auburn (at home), and chances are you're headed to Atlanta for the SEC championship game, unless you get really sloppy. I understand that the East is, well, like an old horror movie, but that's not your fault. Don't beat yourself up because there is no real East challenger at the moment. Just take care of business, and the committee will start to come around. A win over Auburn will have you skyrocketing up the rankings.

 Even though people aren't impressed with your early state, you're a better team now than you were after the South Carolina game.

I was wrong about this defense not having what it took to sustain success through the entire season. The secondary still doesn't exactly wow me, but the front seven is playing better than I thought it would, thanks to new defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt deciding to go with a more aggressive plan by getting those linebackers more involved in the backfield. The defensive line has been disruptive at the right times this season.

This is a defense that is getting better each week. Do not dwell on what happened during the second half of the Arkansas game. I get it, you built a commanding 38-6 halftime lead and coasted in the second half. Hey, it happens. Look at Alabama against Tennessee for crying out loud.

Before that game, you shut out Missouri 34-0 on the road in the first of two games without Gurley.

I've learned that this team doesn't need to stretch the ball with the deep pass because it runs so well. Hutson Mason would like to chuck it around, but he hasn't had to, yet, even though he's getting more comfortable with his receivers. And once Gurley gets back for the Auburn game, Mason might be able to do even more with Gurley and Chubb helping out.

The SEC and the Playoff are both there for the taking, Georgia. So ignore the Twitter tough guys. Shake off the hatin' committee. Just continue to do what you're doing, and people will come around.

I know I did.
In the 100 days leading up to signing day 2015, RecruitingNation will be looking back at our ESPN recruiting rankings from 2006 to the present and counting down the best player of the past 10 years at each ranking position, No. 100 to No. 1.

Jon Major, No. 98 in 2008 class

Major was the top-ranked prospect in Colorado in the 2008 class and was considered a huge recruiting win for then-head coach Dan Hawkins and staff over Oklahoma and Wisconsin after officially visiting the Buffaloes, Sooners and Badgers. Former Colorado star linebacker, nine-year NFL linebacker and then Buffaloes linebackers coach Brian Cabral was the key for Colorado in Major’s recruitment. It was the second straight year that Colorado had inked the marquee name prospect in the state following offensive tackle Ryan Miller in the 2007 class. Major was the second-highest rated prospect in the Buffaloes' 2008 class behind nationally coveted running back Darrell Scott (No. 9 in ESPN 150) out of Saint Bonaventure High in California.

Major battled major knee injuries throughout his time in Boulder. Despite missing half his redshirt sophomore year, he still amassed 225 career tackles. He led the team in tackles as a redshirt junior with 85, including 11 tackles for loss in 13 games, and followed up as a senior with 70 tackles in 11 games. Major was on his way to making a splash as a true freshman quickly moving into the two-deep in the first handful of practices in 2008, but tore his ACL and missed the entire season.

Honorable mention: Craig Drummond. The 6-foot-6, now 272-pound Drummond was No. 98 in the 2009 class. He signed with Ole Miss out of the Chicago area, but left Oxford his freshman year. He was out of football three years before heading to Lane College in Jackson, Tennessee. Listed as a sophomore, Drummond is now excelling on the field to the tune of 24 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks and an interception through five games. His ceiling remains high.
SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Corey Robinson surrendered himself into his father's arms, his career night gone for naught.

[+] EnlargeCorey Robinson
Streeter Lecka/Getty ImagesCorey Robinson knows how to handle success -- and failures -- thanks to his dad, former NBA great David Robinson.
His fourth-and-long catch would not go down in program lore. His fourth-and-short touchdown had been wiped away. Notre Dame had fallen at Florida State.

So the sophomore sauntered over to his dad, a guy who knows a few things about big games, and shared an embrace that served as necessary for father as it was for son.

"Don't miss the moment," David Robinson recalled telling his son. "You guys did what you were supposed to do: You took the ball, drove it right down their throats, you put it in the end zone. You can't be mad at yourself when you did what you were supposed to do.

"… I was just telling him: This is sports. In sports you win and you lose. That's the nature of sports. You can't get away from that part of it. And if you get too hung up on the losing part, then you miss the boat. The competition part, a game like that is why you play sports. That is as good as it gets."

That the Basketball Hall of Famer saw his son come so close to stealing the spotlight from the defending national champions was rewarding. That the Naval Academy graduate will follow that up by rooting against his alma mater on Saturday is somewhat surreal. But he finds himself in this position for a second straight year, this time near his old backyard, as the Midshipmen host the Fighting Irish in Landover, Maryland.

"It’s nice because all my family is going to come up -- my aunts, my uncles, my grandparents," Corey said. "For them it’s going to be really special. But for me it’s just another game we have to go and perform and win."

His father will visit the Annapolis campus for the first time since 2011, when he was back for a 25-year reunion of Navy's 1986 Elite Eight team.

Notre Dame's last outing -- and specifically his son's role in it -- reminded the San Antonio Spurs great of his own coming-of-age moment, one year before that NCAA run, also as a sophomore.

The second round of the 1985 tournament pitted 13th-seeded Navy against fifth-seeded Maryland, led by the late Len Bias. David scored 22, Bias tallied 20 and the Terrapins won by five, but David took away plenty.

"My confidence just went through the roof at that point, and I just realized, ‘You know what, there's nobody that I cannot play with,’" David said. "And I think for Corey, coming from a small school and getting on that big stage and realizing that, ‘Hey, there's nobody that you can't play with’ -- I could see that coming out of him."

It is not that the 6-foot-4.5, 215-pound Corey ever lacked for athleticism. But he never played much football until high school. And at San Antonio Christian -- with a prep enrollment under 400 -- validation was hard to find.

His coaches convinced him that the gridiron could take him places, but football was mostly foreign to the Robinsons.

Two-time NBA champion David confessed he knows little about the game other than the competitive mindset it takes to succeed at the highest level. Such potential is what drove Corey away from his old man's alma mater, as he drew heavy Division I interest.

David said Notre Dame and Corey are in some ways built for each other. Coach Brian Kelly used a signature mantra -- gentlemen off the field, tough guy on it -- in describing Corey.

"That's fun as a coach and teacher when you get somebody that is in so many ways learning every day that he steps on the practice field," Kelly said.

The tough guy in Corey was evident as he played through September with a broken right thumb. He said the pain forced him to focus on other nuances of his game. He is second on the team in catches (27), yards (359) and touchdowns receptions (four).


The gentleman in Corey comes through in mission trips, like this past summer's to Brazil. Or through jam sessions with teammates. Corey plays the piano, bass and guitar, among other instruments. His father takes credit for his son's love of music, but he cannot pinpoint the source of talent.

The Admiral can, however, trace his son's eccentricity to his forebears, including his own father, Ambrose, also a Navy man.

"My grandfather grew up in Little Rock, Arkansas, and there was all the racism at that time, and Central High there had the segregation issues," David said. "I grew up around the tail end of a lot of that stuff, where my parents and my grandparents had to deal with that. So I always admired how they stood strong and how my father overcame a lot of that stuff and joined the Navy and gave me opportunities that he didn't have, and I wanted to do that for my next generation and the generations after that."

Such opportunities have meant spending Veterans Day with President Obama and visiting troops in Afghanistan. David won the 2013 Heisman Humanitarian Award for charitable endeavors. Corey sees this, David said, and he knows how to handle success.

"All this stuff doesn't happen to you for your own sake," David said. "It doesn't happen to you so you can fill your shelves with trophies or line your pockets with cash; it happens so you can have a positive influence and encourage other people. It's what you leave behind that's far more important, because everything else is just going to be snatched up by somebody else. Your bank account's going to somebody else. All your records are going to go to somebody else.

"But what you really leave behind is that love that you put into other people's lives, and I think that's what he sees in my life over the years."
Things aren’t pretty at Oklahoma State.

The Cowboys' hopes for bowl eligibility rest on the shoulders of a inexperienced quarterback, a young and inexperienced offensive line and a secondary full of youngsters.

After a 5-1 start, the Cowboys have lost back-to-back games, falling to TCU and West Virginia by a combined 76-19 in consecutive weeks, scoring just one offensive touchdown. Quarterback Daxx Garman has struggled to find a rhythm as the offensive front has let him down time and time again.

It’s a stark contrast from the Cowboys of 12 months ago, who entered November 2013 on the heels of a blowout road win over Iowa State, then went on to put themselves one win away from a Big 12 title.

As disappointment reigns in Stillwater, the question naturally arises: How did the Cowboys end up here?

[+] EnlargeMike Gundy
Kevin Jairaj/USA TODAY SportsThe success Oklahoma State has had under Mike Gundy had an undesired effect: Other programs promoted and hired his assistant coaches.
The answer can be found not only between the white lines of the Boone Pickens Stadium turf, but also in the halls of the West End Zone and on the recruiting trail.

From 2010 to 2013, Oklahoma State went 41-11 with three seasons of double-digit wins. During the same span, a combination of coaching departures, injuries and player attrition has quietly debilitated the depth on the roster, resulting in a 2014 team counting on players who lack the experience to carry the team.

“Two classes ago, we missed on some players from a character standpoint,” coach Mike Gundy said. “We had some players not make it, we had a couple injuries and it kind of snowballed on us at a couple positions.”

Oklahoma State has five current starters from its 2011 class (six if injured quarterback J.W. Walsh is included). That class should be carrying the load as upperclassmen, but injuries took players such as running back Herschel Sims and offensive tackle Devin Davis out of the equation. By contrast, nine current starters were part of the next recruiting class, in 2012.

“When you talk about young players competing for us more than they need to, that’s more the definition of rebuilding,” Gundy said.

The Cowboys' success indirectly played a role, as Gundy's staff was raided by programs looking to promote them. Only defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer remains from the 2010 coaching staff, which included West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen, Texas A&M offensive coordinator Jake Spavital, TCU co-offensive coordinator Doug Meacham, Texas co-offensive coordinator Joe Wickline, North Carolina co-offensive coordinator/receivers coach Gunter Brewer, Ole Miss co-defensive coordinator/cornerbacks coach Jason Jones, West Virginia special-teams coordinator Joe DeForest, Tennessee running backs coach Robert Gillespie and former defensive coordinator Bill Young.

Since 2010, Gundy has been forced to replace a coach on his staff every offseason. The impact of the fluidity among his staff has disrupted continuity.

“Trying to replace them, their personality and the schemes we want and the players wanting to trust them,” Gundy said. “You don’t just all of a sudden trust somebody. You have to pay the price.

“That’s been one of the most difficult aspects for me at Oklahoma State.”

Gundy has averaged more than 10 wins per season in the last four years. But trying to ensure his coaching staff has chemistry while finding guys who fit his philosophy has made the last few years more difficult than he imagined.

“It’s a huge process,” he said. “That’s the one area people don’t understand. It’s like, ‘you lost a coach, just go find a better one.’ Well, you have to find one that understands, teaches and believes like I do, my philosophy and development of kids.

“I want to teach, coach and learn; we’re not screamers and cussers. I’m not saying that’s wrong, just saying that’s not what I believe in. If there are 10 guys that fit that job, five of them might not because that’s how they coach. That doesn’t make them bad, make them wrong, it just means they’re not qualified for this position because he and I won’t get along.”

[+] EnlargeJ.W. Walsh
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY SportsJ.W. Walsh was one of the top recruits in Oklahoma State's 2011 recrutiing class. He's out after foot surgery.
Not only has the uncertainty resulted in some stumbles on the field this season, it hurt recruiting and evaluation at the time. Every second Oklahoma State didn’t have a coach in position, the Cowboys were falling behind on the recruiting trail and in the evaluation process.

“It caught me off guard from the standpoint of you have a lot of success, then you’re going to lose a lot of people,” Gundy said. “The second thing that caught me off guard was the effect it can have on your recruiting and evaluation.”

After the 2010 season, Gundy was forced to replace a significant portion of his staff, including Holgorsen, Gillespie and Brewer.

“All during recruiting?” Gundy said. “Those are things that I think really causes us some issues.”

Twelve months later, the Cowboys signed the underperforming 2011 class.

“Over the last three or four years, with all the position and coaching changes we’ve had, I was really surprised we were able to compete at such a high level,” Gundy said. “We missed on some kids that should be juniors right now and that’s when we went through a lot of coaching changes. I remember at one time I was losing three guys a year. I think that affected us in recruiting, evaluation -- there just wasn’t consistency there.”

But, even with Oklahoma State's recent struggles, Gundy feels good about the direction of his team heading into one of the toughest stretches during his tenure, with games against Kansas State, Baylor, Texas and Oklahoma to finish the season.

“I’m OK with where we’re at right now. I understand the issues,” Gundy said. “We could played better and won the West Virginia game had we made a couple of plays, maybe a couple different coaching decisions. Those things happen and you’re exposed, they snowball more when we’re in the situation we are.”
video
Springdale (Arkansas) Shiloh Christian coach Jeff Conaway has a long list of words he uses to describe Auburn's Gus Malzahn. Memphis Briarcrest Christian coach Brian Stewart uses some of the same terms to define Ole Miss' Hugh Freeze.

Adjectives like dedicated, faithful, inspiring and organized flow quickly from Conaway's and Stewart's mouths. Eventually they find more fitting ways to describe the head coaches at Auburn and Ole Miss.

"They're one of us," said Conaway, who is in his first season at Shiloh Christian, the same school where Malzahn won two state championships in 1998 and 1999.

"Gus and Hugh are both still high school coaches at heart. They're coaching at the pinnacle of college football, but deep down they are just like the rest of us high school coaches that know what Friday night is like and how tough it is to get ready Monday through Thursday for that game."

Stewart, who was an assistant under Freeze at Briarcrest and was a part of two Tennessee state championship and six regional championship teams, agrees.

"They both understand what it's like to teach five or six classes," Stewart said. "They understand what it's like to have to do so many different things and wear so many hats. That's something they immediately have in common with high school coaches throughout the nation."

Read the full story here.
Each week, Adam Rittenberg takes you inside coaches' conversations in Inside Access Insider -- but we can't fit everything everyone said in one place. So here are some nuggets that didn't fit in the column, but are too good to be ignored. In today's notebook: What's the secret to Georgia's improved defense? How does Bill Snyder get Kansas State to play penalty-free football? Why are Michigan State's QBs so successful? And what are ECU's odds of making a New Year's Six bowl game?

[+] EnlargeJeremy Pruitt
AP Photo/Jason GetzJeremy Pruitt has had an immediate impact on Georgia's defense.
I didn’t include first-year Georgia defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt in last week’s list of top coaching hires, but he certainly belongs. After a season in which defensive deficiencies, particularly in the secondary, cost the Bulldogs games, Pruitt has the Dawgs' D back on track.

Pruitt’s experience working with defensive backs has propelled the upgrade. Georgia is allowing fewer completions of 10 yards or more (41.6 percent) than it did last fall (49.8 percent). It has 10 interceptions and 17 total takeaways, and leads the nation in turnover margin (plus-13).

“We have worked very hard,” Bulldogs coach Mark Richt told Inside Access, “on creating turnovers.”

The Bulldogs are the only FBS team not to have allowed a pass play of more than 40 yards this season. They also rank 14th nationally in third-down conversions (30.6 percent).

Pruitt not only has improved the technique of the defensive backs, but he calls plays with them in mind.
COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Texas A&M seemed to have an embarrassment of riches at the most important position in football earlier this season.

The Aggies had a starting quarterback, Kenny Hill, who seemed to be a perfect fit for their offense. The sophomore ably filled the shoes of the school’s greatest player ever at the position, Johnny Manziel, who turned in two of the most productive and memorable seasons in college football history.

[+] EnlargeKyle Allen
Troy Taormina/USA TODAY SportsFreshman Kyle Allen could get into the starting quarterback mix sooner than expected.
They have a backup who is young but credentialed in Kyle Allen. He was the country’s No. 1-ranked pocket passer in the 2014 recruiting class and someone the coaching staff said battled Hill neck-and-neck for the starting job in preseason training camp.

Waiting in the wings is the No. 1 ranked dual-threat quarterback in the 2015 recruiting class, five-star prospect Kyler Murray, son of Kevin Murray, who was a successful Texas A&M quarterback himself in the 1980s.

Leading it all were two highly regarded offensive minds, head coach Kevin Sumlin and offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Jake Spavital.

Now, the Aggies are searching for answers everywhere, including quarterback.

After having a three-game losing streak capped by a 59-0 disaster in Alabama, Sumlin indicated the Aggies needed to go back to the drawing board at every position, but naturally, all eyes are on the quarterback situation.

Hill, once 5-0 and getting mention as a Heisman Trophy candidate, saw his numbers regress in the last three outings while the supporting cast around him also struggled. Spavital noted that Hill is fighting to keep his starting job as Allen is being given a chance to compete for the starting job Saturday when the Aggies host Louisiana-Monroe.

Allen is still a largely unknown commodity. He has seen limited action in four games, though he was given some first-half action in the Aggies’ 73-3 win over Lamar. He showed bright spots (12-of-16 passing, two touchdowns) and some not so bright (throwing an interception on his first series).

Who starts Saturday will be revealing. Is Allen ready to take the reins? Is Hill poised enough to pull himself out of the recent slump and return to the form he showed in his first month? What’s in the aftermath either way?

In college football’s current climate, it isn’t uncommon to see the “winner starts, loser transfers” mentality set in when it comes to quarterbacks. Only one can play at a time and waiting your turn can be challenging. Should Allen remain the backup the rest of this season, is he willing to wait around or will he consider heading elsewhere?

And now it’s worth wondering about the strength of Murray’s commitment after he recently took an official visit to Oklahoma. If more visits to other schools follow, it certainly is cause for concern. It’s a long way until signing day and if the Aggies don’t turn the ship in the right direction quickly, recruiting momentum could be affected.

Even if the Aggies are able to hang on to Murray’s commitment and get him to sign a national letter of intent in February, they still must keep their fingers crossed until the summer. Murray is a highly regarded baseball prospect who is projected to be chosen high in the 2015 MLB draft. The Aggies have been down that road before when Sumlin signed two quarterbacks in 2013: Hill and Kohl Stewart, who elected to sign a multimillion dollar deal to pursue pro baseball after being drafted fourth overall by the Minnesota Twins.

How all this plays out will be telling. For Sumlin, this is relatively uncharted territory for him as a head coach. Never has his team been shut out like it was in Tuscaloosa and never has his team gone through a three-game offensive slump like the Aggies have recently.

Turnover at quarterback has been rare under Sumlin. He chose Case Keenum to start in his first year as the coach in Houston and Keenum never relinquished the job, except for an eight-game stretch when he was injured in 2010. Keenum broke eight career FBS passing records.

Manziel won the starting job in Sumlin’s first season in Aggieland and that history is well-documented. A Heisman Trophy, two record-setting seasons and a first-round NFL draft selection later, Manziel never had to be replaced because of his play.

Sumlin is naturally reluctant to yank a quarterback. Having been in the presence of or coached many great college quarterbacks, Sumlin is a believer in confidence. He doesn’t want his starting signal-caller concerned with whether he’ll get yanked from a game for making a mistake.

“It's been our history to be a one [quarterback] team, not a 'one guy in, one guy out' kind of deal” Sumlin said in a July interview. “It's like pitching. You don't like to play looking over your shoulder at that position. Quarterback is a lot different. You have to have confidence.”

Spavital, too, has been fortunate to work with some accomplished college quarterbacks: Keenum, Brandon Weeden and Geno Smith.

He has been through a rough stretch before in this offense: in 2012, Smith's senior year at West Virginia.

“At West Virginia we were 5-0, ranked third in the country and then we lost five straight,” Spavital said. “I've been through this before. The main thing is, it's really nothing to do with scheme or anything like that, it's just the mentality we play with, getting out there and competing and having some pride in what you do."

The search for answers continues. A position where the Aggies seemingly had plenty of answers seems to have some of its biggest questions. How they’re answered will mean a lot toward the direction of Aggies football in the coming weeks and beyond.
It will be strength against strength when Florida State and Louisville meet at Papa Johns Stadium Thursday night, with Jameis Winston and the Seminoles' potent offense going against Lorenzo Mauldin and Louisville's stout defense. Since the start of 2013, Florida State has averaged the second-most yards-per-play on offense. Louisville has allowed the fewest yards-per-play on defense. So who has the advantage? ACC reporters David Hale and Jared Shanker debate.

[+] EnlargeLorenzo Mauldin
Jamie Rhodes/USA TODAY SportsLorenzo Mauldin and the Louisville defense has done a good job this season at pressuring the quarterback.
Hale says Louisville's defense has the advantage: Let's get the obvious out of the way… Winston is a great player, and with him at quarterback, there's not a scenario in which I see Florida State's offense being completely shut down. But this Louisville defense is capable of slowing the Seminoles down a bit, and that might be enough to pull the upset.

First, Winston's competition during his year-and-a-half as FSU's quarterback hasn't exactly been stout. He's yet to play a defense that ranks better than 22nd nationally in yards-per-play allowed (Wake Forest in 2013, which, coincidentally, was statistically his worst game) and the average ranking for Winston's opposition is 65th. Louisville, on the other hand, is currently second in the nation.

The Cards' defense is a lot like Florida State's was last season -- aggressive, stout in the secondary, and capable of affecting the passer with a strong rush up front. That's translated into 28 sacks (fifth nationally) and 15 interceptions (second). Opposing quarterbacks have an adjusted Total QBR of just 14.7 against Louisville -- the best mark in the country.

Will Winston be an exception? Surely he's the toughest test Louisville's defense has faced, too, but the other problem FSU faces is that Winston can't be a one-man show. Louisville has a strong enough pass rush to avoid blitzing regularly and still pressure the quarterback -- particularly against an FSU line that's looked shaky so far this season. That means the Cardinals can double Rashad Greene, forcing FSU's younger receivers to step up. More importantly, however, Louisville has allowed the fewest rushing yards in the country this season, while FSU is already struggling to run the ball and now has the additional concerns of Karlos Williams' off-field drama to deal with.

Add it all up, and it's clearly the biggest defensive challenge FSU's offense will have faced during Winston's tenure -- and it may be enough for Louisville to be the first team to hand the Seminoles' star QB a loss.

[+] EnlargeJameis Winston
MCT via Getty ImagesJameis Winston has yet to face a defense as good as the one Louisville has.
Shanker says Florida State's offense holds the edge: More than ever, football is becoming a quarterback-driven sport, and the Seminoles have the best in the country. Regardless of how you feel about him off the field, Winston reminded us all of his brilliance on it in the second half against Notre Dame. Rushed and knocked down countless times, Winston continually hit his mark on throws that ate up big chunks of yards.

Big plays will be hard to come by Thursday as statistics argue this is one of the best defenses Winston has faced, and that can't be disagreed with. However, just how good this defense is worthy of debate. The Cardinals' defense took advantage of a true freshman playing his first game ever in the season opener against Miami, and Clemson star Deshaun Watson was injured in the first half against Louisville. Watson was the nation's leader in QBR. This Louisville defense has not faced a quarterback of Winston's caliber, so how it performs against one is still a question mark.

What this Cardinals defense should be able to do is make Florida State one dimensional on offense, but that's something a lot of teams have been able to do. The Seminoles rank 104th in rushing yards per game, and there is little reason to believe they'll improve upon that ranking after this game. Oklahoma State and Notre Dame both shut down the Seminoles' rushing attack, but Winston provided all the offense the Noles needed in the second halves.

With all of that said, it wouldn't be a shock if Louisville holds Florida State to below 30 points, something that hasn't happened once with Winston at the helm. The issue that remains for the Cards even in that scenario is some way, somehow this Florida State team always finds a way to win. If this is a game in the fourth quarter, the Seminoles are going to know how to react. The crowd is not going to intimidate the FSU offense. No matter how many plays go for negative yards, the offense is capable of three chunk plays and a touchdown drive spanning less than two minutes. The receiving corps is no longer Greene and a bunch of also-rans. Travis Rudolph and Jesus Wilson are taking the pressure off of Greene and tight end Nick O'Leary.

This isn't the offense of a season ago, but it's still the best in the ACC. And that'll be good enough to beat the Cards.

Kickoff Show: Week 10 (1 ET)

October, 30, 2014
Oct 30
10:24
AM ET
ESPN.com reporters Edward Aschoff, Heather Dinich and Jared Shanker join host Chantel Jennings to discuss the Week 10 slate that includes top 25 games in the ACC, SEC and Pac-12. They'll also answer your questions live.

Norfolk State's Lynden Trail getting NFL attention

October, 30, 2014
Oct 30
10:00
AM ET
There are a number of great players in HBCU football. There’s no question about that. However, Norfolk State senior linebacker Lynden Trail has put himself in a very special category with his brilliant play the last two seasons.

Trail, a 6-foot-7, 250-pounder, can do it all. He has the size, speed and experience to play the pass as well as the run, and he knows how to pick his spots in terms of rushing the passer. These qualities have made him a candidate for the Buck Buchanan Award, which is presented annually to the top defensive player at the FCS level.

[+] EnlargeLynden Trail
Courtesy of Norfolk State UniversityAt 6-foot-7, former Florida Gator Lynden Trail is now receiving attention from NFL scouts as a linebacker at Norfolk State.
In addition, NFL scouts have been coming out in droves to see the Spartans' talented defensive player. Trail has attracted nearly every NFL team to Norfolk to watch him play the game at an extremely high level. Some scouts have even come several times to see him..

Trail started his college career at the University of Florida before transferring to Norfolk State; this is his third season with the Spartans. He really opened a lot of eyes last season when he was named a first-team All-American by The Sports Network and was a Black College All-American by the Sheridan Broadcast Network. He had 95 total tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks in 2013.

Trail has put together another impressive season in 2014 for the Spartans. He has 21 solo and 37 total tackles, with 8.5 tackles for loss. These numbers, along with his overall play, have kept a steady stream of NFL scouts at his games.

“This is the second or third time, probably the fourth time, in my years as a coach here we’ve had a player who will probably be selected in the top three rounds,” Norfolk State head coach Pete Adrian said. “That’s what happens at this level. We’ve had over 100 scouts here at the start of the season.

“We get three, four, five a day. Now, we’re getting people back for the third and fourth time. We’ve had heads of scouting, assistant GMs and all that stuff. They want make sure a player who plays at this level of competition can go on and play at the next level. I give Lynden a lot of credit. He’s staying focused and thinking about the football season and letting cards fall where they may.”

Trail has apparently been playing his cards right. Adrian has seen him develop on and off the field.

“He’s a really focused young man,” Adrian said. “He’s done a great job. He started out at the University of Florida and for whatever reason decided to leave and he’s been here for three years. He works hard in the offseason. He works hard on the practice field. He’s going to graduate in December with his degree, which everyone is excited about, and it certainly looks like he’ll have the opportunity to play at the next level.”

Norfolk State (3-5 overall, 3-1 MEAC) will visit Florida A&M (2-6 overall, 2-2 MEAC) Saturday in Tallahassee for an important conference matchup. The Spartans are one of six teams in the MEAC with one loss. They want to stay in the hunt for the league championship, so it’s a big game for NSU. You can expect a good crowd at the game as well as plenty of NFL scouts on hand to take another peek at Lynden Trail.

NOTES

Alcorn State quarterback John Gibbs Jr. was named the SWAC Offensive Student-Athlete of the Week. Gibbs completed 18-of-27 passes for a career-high 362 yards and four touchdowns in the Braves' high-scoring 77-48 win over Prairie View A&M. He also rushed for 32 yards on 10 carries. His longest pass was for 83 yards.

Arkansas-Pine Bluff linebacker Willie Duncan was named the SWAC Defensive Student-Athlete of the Week. Duncan had 11 total tackles, 10 solo, to help Arkansas-Pine Bluff edge Texas Southern 38-37. He had one sack and two tackles for a loss, too.

North Carolina Central quarterback Malcolm Bell was selected as the MEAC Offensive Player of the Week. Bell accounted for five touchdowns and 359 total offensive yards as he carried the Eagles to a 42-14 win over Savannah State. Bell completed 23-of-32 passes for 287 yards and three TDs. He also rushed for 72 yards on 18 carries with two touchdowns on the ground.

South Carolina State defensive tackle Javon Hargrave was named the MEAC Defensive Player of the Week. Hargrave picked up 11 solo tackles in the Bulldogs’ 20-14 win over No. 14-ranked Bethune-Cookman. He had six sacks in the game, tying an FCS and MEAC record, and forced two fumbles to stop the Wildcats.

SBN Sports Network Black College Football Poll

1. North Carolina A&T
2. Alcorn State
3. Bethune-Cookman
4. Winston-Salem State
5. Grambling State
6. South Carolina State
7. Southern University
8. Tuskegee
9. Virginia State
10. Albany State

Boxtorow FCS HBCU Football Coaches Poll

1. North Carolina A&T
2. Alcorn State
3. Grambling State
4. South Carolina State
5. Bethune-Cookman
6. Southern University
7. Morgan State
8. Texas Southern
9. North Carolina Central
10. Alabama State

Pac-12 Week 10 predictions

October, 30, 2014
Oct 30
9:00
AM ET
Why Stanford will win: Over the past two seasons, I've picked Oregon to win this game with a strong degree of confidence. And I've been wrong. So, with not much confidence -- the Cardinal already have lost three games and NT David Parry is hurt -- I am picking Stanford. Mostly because if I'm going to be wrong, I want to be wrong in a new way. And I want Ducks fans to troll me for it. -- Ted Miller

Why Oregon will win: The Ducks' offense has looked confident, explosive and efficient since it started to get healthy across the offensive line. The new-look Stanford offense, while maybe better suited for the current personnel, might not be able to sustain those long drives that have worn down Oregon in the past. Stanford's defensive injuries are a concern as well. -- Kevin Gemmell

Why Arizona will win: Scooby Wright III and his gang of Wildcats are going to be too much for the UCLA offensive line. Anu Solomon, Nick Wilson and Austin Hill will all have big games for Arizona. Time to start making some sense out of the South. -- Chantel Jennings

Why UCLA will win: This feels a lot like 2012 -- a surging Arizona team coming to the Rose Bowl vs. a UCLA team that had had a couple of bad games. And we all remember what happened there (UCLA won 66-10). Different year, different players. I get all that. But last week was a wake-up call for the Bruins. This game is put-up or shut-up for them. -- Kevin Gemmell

Why Utah will win: With matching three-game win streaks, there's plenty to like about both teams, but Utah's Devontae Booker could be the difference. In his first year in the Pac-12, the juco transfer has averaged a conference-best 166.3 rushing yards per conference game. -- Kyle Bonagura

Why Arizona State will win: The Sun Devils have a chance to solve what's been a major weakness at home, and I think their upward trajectory indicates that they'll do just that. ASU's defense had given up over 200 rushing yards in four straight entering the Stanford game Oct. 18, and even Washington ran the ball with success against the Sun Devils last week. So on paper, it's a bad matchup since Devontae Booker has made Utah a successful rushing team, but I have a feeling ASU will capitalize on this big (late) stage to make a statement. Plus, Taylor Kelly will have shaken off last week's rust. -- David Lombardi

Unanimous picks

Why USC will win: Washington State's defense just doesn't have it. That's particularly bad news this week, since Cody Kessler delivered a notable performance in the face of Utah's ferocious pass rush during USC's loss last week. Kessler has a bevy of weapons in the passing game, and the Trojans also own balance thanks to running back Buck Allen. They will score plenty of points in Pullman, Washington, and there'll again be too much pressure on Connor Halliday's shoulders. -- David Lombardi

Why Cal will win: Both teams are limping into this game, but I think the Bears' limp is more figurative -- they've lost their past three games after a 4-1 start -- while the Beavers are limping because of injuries physical and mental. Cal also just strikes me as hungrier, though the Bears must contend with a strong Oregon State pass defense. The loser here seems unlikely to become bowl eligible, while the winner will need just one more victory over the homestretch. -- Ted Miller

Why Washington will win: The Huskies snap their two-game losing streak with a 17-point win over Colorado on the road. Hau'oli Kikaha, Danny Shelton and Shaq Thompson are going to have a huge game for the UW front seven defensively and the offense will take a step forward with more consistent play through four quarters (plus, it'll help that there won't be 95 mph winds, as there were in Seattle last week). -- Chantel Jennings

SEC Week 10 predictions

October, 30, 2014
Oct 30
9:00
AM ET
After everyone agreed on all of the picks last week (probably the last time we all doubt Les Miles in Death Valley at night), we're back with some differences of opinion. The headliner is obviously Ole Miss-Auburn, but there are several other games worth watching closely, including Florida-Georgia, with Will Muschamp trying to save his job. Let's get on with the picks.

Why Georgia wins big: Even without Todd Gurley lining up for Georgia, the Bulldogs still have an absolute stud in freshman Nick Chubb. In two games as a starter, Chubb has rushed for 345 yards and three touchdowns. The kid just tosses people around out there and certainly has a little Gurley in him. Florida is starting the Treon Harris era at quarterback, but the offense has been lousy for the better part of the season, while Georgia's defense is on a roll. It'll be tight early, but Georgia pounds away in the second half. Georgia 28, Florida 14 -- Edward Aschoff

How Florida keeps it close: This is Harris' game at quarterback, and he certainly provides more of a spark than Jeff Driskel. If Matt Jones and Kelvin Taylor can run the football and negate some of the pressure from Georgia's talented pass-rushers, Florida could have some success moving the football. If they can even out the time of possession battle, you'll see a much more effective defense from the Gators. Georgia 21, Florida 13 -- Alex Scarborough

Why Kentucky wins: Missouri just can't seem to get it together. Just look at last weekend's game against Vanderbilt. Sure, the Tigers won, but not convincingly. And Kentucky is no Vanderbilt. The Wildcats gave Mississippi State a run for its money and beat South Carolina a few weeks ago. With a true playmaker at quarterback and a better-than-expected defense, Kentucky will give Missouri fits on both sides of the ball and win on the road. Kentucky 30, Missouri 20 -- Alex Scarborough

Why Missouri wins: Ever since a 34-0 beatdown at the hands of Georgia, the Tigers have looked shaky, especially on offense. But things are gradually getting better as quarterback Maty Mauk re-learns how to take care of the ball. This game offers the improving Wildcats a plum opportunity to show they can win conference games. But look for the home team to squeeze out a hard-fought victory. Missouri 26, Kentucky 23 -- Jeff Barlis

Why Ole Miss wins: The Rebels were injected with some playoff hope after the first batch of College Football Playoff rankings were announced. That should energize a team that lost an ugly one at LSU. Bo Wallace has to regroup, and he has to follow what his coaches tell him. The Rebels haven't had a consistent running game all season, but Auburn's pass defense ranks 75th nationally, and that should help Wallace regroup after a bad showing in Baton Rouge. Watching Ole Miss' defense try to tackle Auburn's running game might be the highlight of the day. A late turnover will seal it for the Rebels. Ole Miss 31, Auburn 28 -- Edward Aschoff

Why Auburn wins: Ole Miss' sideline was like a M*A*S*H unit last week against LSU, with multiple key players leaving with injuries. Even if most of those guys play Saturday -- and it looks like they will -- the Rebels aren't going to be at 100 percent against arguably the best offense they'll face all season. If Wallace doesn't play better than he did a week ago, Auburn might win easily. Ole Miss' quarterback is the X factor here, and I suspect he'll fare well against Auburn's mediocre defense at home, but the Tigers have way more firepower at their disposal right now. Auburn 31, Ole Miss 24 -- David Ching

Why Mississippi State wins big: Playing its first game with the No. 1 ranking, Mississippi State came out tight against Kentucky. Dan Mullen even admitted that. Look for the Bulldogs to play more relaxed at home Saturday in front of the familiar sound of cowbells clanging. They’re the No. 1 team in the country, and Dak Prescott, Josh Robinson and the defense will prove it against the Razorbacks. Mississippi State 35, Arkansas 14 -- Greg Ostendorf

How Arkansas keeps it close: It should be a triumphant return to Davis Wade Stadium for the nation's No. 1 team, but things aren't perfect for the Bulldogs. Kentucky's offense exposed some issues with the MSU secondary. While Arkansas doesn't have the same caliber of passing attack, the Hogs do have a stable of talented runners, a veteran quarterback and two good tight ends. Mississippi State 37, Arkansas 26 -- Jeff Barlis

More unanimous picks:

Texas A&M over UL Monroe: The big storyline will be who starts at quarterback for Texas A&M, Kenny Hill or Kyle Allen? Either way, the Aggies should roll against a lesser opponent. Texas A&M 52, UL Monroe 14

South Carolina over Tennessee: Steve Spurrier won’t have to go for it on every fourth down against the Vols, but don’t be surprised if he still has a few tricks left up his sleeve. The Gamecocks have won three of the past four games in this series. South Carolina 35, Tennessee 24

Vanderbilt over Old Dominion: Vandy is looking for its third win of the season, but it won’t come easy against Old Dominion quarterback Taylor Heinicke and his 54 career touchdown passes. Vanderbilt 31, Old Dominion 28

Standings
Edward Aschoff: 64-11
Greg Ostendorf: 64-11
Jeff Barlis: 63-12
Chris Low: 63-12
David Ching: 62-13
Alex Scarborough: 61-14
Sam Khan Jr.: 57-18

Big 12 Week 10 predictions

October, 30, 2014
Oct 30
9:00
AM ET
Why TCU will win: The Horned Frogs, playing like one of the nation's best teams, can get better. Trevone Boykin has been lethal, this offense has too much explosive diversity and TCU's defense will get the crucial second-half stops. This will be a fun chess match, a really physical game and another statement win for the Frogs. TCU 48, West Virginia 38. -- Max Olson

Why West Virginia will take it down to the wire: Clint Trickett and Kevin White are a great place to start. Add the Big 12's most improved defense, and WVU is in business. WVU has the playmakers to keep up with Boykin and the Horned Frogs' offense, while an electric atmosphere in Morgantown will make things even more difficult on TCU. Expect a close, high-scoring affair. TCU 49, West Virginia 46 -- Brandon Chatmon

Why Kansas State will win: Oklahoma State's offense is a dumpster fire right now, while K-State is coming off a shutout victory over Texas. The Cowboys again won't be able to move the ball against K-State's defense, which is stout at every level. And Jake Waters & Co. will be able to generate enough offensively to put this game away in the second half. Kansas State 31, Oklahoma State 13 -- Jake Trotter

Why Oklahoma will win: Don't sleep on these Cyclones. They proved against K-State and Texas that they're no easy out. But the Sooners are coming off a bye week, get top back Keith Ford back and know this Big 12 race isn't over for them just yet. OU steps up and gets a much-needed, bounce-back win. Oklahoma 45, Iowa State 20. -- Olson

Why Iowa State will keep it close: The Cyclones have historically played Oklahoma tough in Ames. The Iowa State offense is beginning to find its stride under coordinator Mark Mangino, while the Sooners have been suspect defensively the past month. The Cyclones probably won't be able to make enough stops to win. But they have the offense to make this one interesting. Oklahoma 35, Iowa State 31 -- Trotter

Why Baylor will win: Big plays, big plays and big plays. Injuries have dealt the Bears a blow along the offensive line, but Bryce Petty & Co. should come up with enough big plays to win comfortably against the Jayhawks. Baylor 45, Kansas 14 -- Chatmon

Why Texas will win: Anytime a game seems like a toss-up, I lean toward the team with the best defense. The Longhorns' defense ranks in the top third of the Big 12 in several categories including yards per play and sacks, which should help UT slow the Red Raiders' offense. Texas 24, Texas Tech 13 -- Chatmon

Season records:
  • Trotter: 48-4
  • Chatmon: 46-6
  • Olson: 46-6

ACC Week 10 predictions

October, 30, 2014
Oct 30
9:00
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Shanker: It's not as if this team has not dealt with media circuses before, and this week was no different with the news that police are investigating running back Karlos Williams for domestic assault. Whether Williams plays, the constant for FSU the past two years is Jameis Winston, and he will be on the field Thursday. While the Cardinals' defense ranks as No. 1 nationally, no defense has been able to stop Winston yet. History suggests the Cards will need to score in the 30s, and their offense has struggled to score at times this season. Florida State 30, Louisville 24

Fortuna: This is not a very favorable matchup for FSU, and it cannot come at a worse time: Thursday, the night before Halloween, the site of a major upset 12 years ago. Louisville's defense is relentless, especially against the run, and the Seminoles' already struggling ground game probably won't be turning a corner in this one, as Mario Pender (ankle) is out again and Williams has been engulfed in controversy all week. Who knows if Williams is as adept at blocking out off-the-field issues as Winston is, but it might not matter. The Cardinals finally have their weapons -- namely, DeVante Parker — back at full strength, and the offense might just look like what we all expected it to when Bobby Petrino took over. Can the underwhelming FSU defense step up? Getting pressure on Will Gardner will be key. Playing from behind is no way to live, though, and the Noles can overcome only so many slow starts (Clemson, NC State, Notre Dame) before paying a price. Louisville 23, FSU 17

Shanker: The Eagles run the ball very well and don't ask quarterback Tyler Murphy to do too much through the air. So that sounds like the same formula Miami used to beat Virginia Tech last week. Duke Johnson ran all over the Hokies, and Murphy and BC's stable of backs are capable of running for close to 300 yards combined. Defensively, the BC defense is stout, and it is hard to imagine the Virginia Tech offense finding much success. Boston College 17, Virginia Tech 14

Adelson: The Hokies played their worst game of the season last week against Miami and now have to face the best running quarterback in the country in Murphy, who is on his way to a 1,000-yard season. The matchup advantages seem to skew toward BC, but expect Virginia Tech to really place an emphasis on its run game. The Eagles have had trouble closing out games this season, so the Hokies will have a chance to survive in a slog. Virginia Tech 21, Boston College 20.

Hale: The simplest answer here is the Wolfpack have to win an ACC game eventually, right? Sure, we've been fooled into thinking the streak would come to an end before, but this seems like a must-win for the program. Dave Doeren has had a week off to prepare. Jacoby Brissett has had the bye week to get healthy. The defense gets back a handful of suspended players. Syracuse is coming off a tough, physical loss to Clemson and is playing with a true freshman at QB. Meanwhile, the fans in Raleigh are getting restless, and the goodwill engendered by NC State’s close loss to Florida State has all but evaporated. It’s time for a Wolfpack victory in conference play, and, really, it feels like now or never. NC State 21, Syracuse 14

Fortuna: A.J. Long finally looked like a freshman last week for Syracuse, getting sacked four times, but he was facing a nasty Clemson defense. He'll be better off for that test in the long run, including this week against an NC State team that averages less than two sacks per game. The Wolfpack have struggled against the run in ACC play, surrendering 217 rushing yards per outing, which give the Orange some opportunities to open up the offense and let Long breathe a bit. Brissett, meanwhile, has not looked like the same player in his three outings since the FSU game. A Syracuse defense that gave its offense a chance despite four turnovers should be strong enough to keep Brissett and the Pack offense from regaining its touch. Syracuse 24, NC State 13

Hale: Georgia Tech runs the football. Virginia is 10th in the nation in rushing defense (based on yards-per-carry). And if that strength-on-strength battle ends in something resembling a draw, the Hoos have a clear advantage nearly everywhere else. The Hoos can get after the quarterback, which should negate Georgia Tech’s big-play threat. Georgia Tech has struggled to affect the passing game, which should help Virginia’s inconsistent passing attack. The Yellow Jackets are allowing 5.4 yards per carry, meaning the Cavaliers should be able to run early and often. But perhaps most important, it’s an issue of motivation. Virginia needs this game desperately -- both for its bowl chances and for coach Mike London to keep his job. Virginia 30, Georgia Tech 27

Adelson: Though Virginia has been excellent against the run this season, the defense has been gashed for some big plays. It happened last week against North Carolina, and now the Hoos have to play a Georgia Tech offense that not only pounds the ball but has a nose for big gains. Georgia Tech has 48 offensive plays that have gone for 25 or more yards this season -- including 15 in the past two games. If Virginia cannot stop the big play or score off takeaways, the Jackets will win. Georgia Tech 30, Virginia 27.

Unanimous picks

Duke at Pitt: Both defenses are light years ahead of where they were since last season's meeting in Durham (a 58-55 Panthers win), but Pitt's offense needs to regroup in a hurry after its turnover-plagued performance against Georgia Tech. Facing a Blue Devils' offense that is coming off a bye is no easy task the week after defending the Yellow Jackets' attack, either. Duke 31, Pitt 27

North Carolina at Miami: There is something to be said for UNC's recent resurgence. Its defense has made several big plays lately, too. But Brad Kaaya has only grown as a passer, and Duke Johnson might be running as well as he ever has. The Hurricanes have just too much offensively for the Tar Heels to handle. Miami 40, UNC 35

Current Standings
Shanker: 51-12
Adelson: 50-13
Fortuna: 49-14
Hale: 48-15

Big Ten Week 10 predictions

October, 30, 2014
Oct 30
9:00
AM ET
After a weird week in which everyone agreed on their selections, things are back to normal and our experts are fighting among themselves.
Why Indiana will win: This season Michigan's offense is averaging 1.16 touchdowns per game against Power 5 conference competition. Hoosiers RB Tevin Coleman is averaging 1.25 touchdowns per game against Power 5 competition. Big plays from Coleman and IU receiver Shane Wynn will be the difference. The Wolverines' run defense has been strong this year, but not against marquee running backs. David Cobb ran for 183 yards in Minnesota's win at the Big House, and Jeremy Langford finished with 177 last week. Coleman will do the same, and Michigan's offense doesn't have enough horsepower to keep up. ... Indiana 27, Michigan 23 -- Dan Murphy

Why Michigan will win: Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse for the Wolverines, this week happened, with the controversies surrounding Joe Bolden’s spearing of the Spartan Stadium turf and Dave Brandon’s alleged angry email exchanges with fans. Yes, it got worse. Michigan has been dodging disasters for nearly two months now. At some point, it’s got to get better in Ann Arbor, right? This is the week, as Indiana brings its downtrodden defense to the Big House, for Devin Gardner and the U-M offense to get healthy, even if temporarily. What about Tevin Coleman and the Hoosiers’ offense? Yeah, that’s a concern, but the Wolverines have been strong against the rush, allowing 3.1 yards per carry to rank second in the Big Ten. ... Michigan 34, Indiana 24 -- Mitch Sherman

Why Maryland will win: Penn State is primed for a letdown game after an emotionally exhausting overtime loss at home. The Terps didn't inspire much confidence last week in their loss to Wisconsin, but they've been hot and cold all season. Maryland's run defense has been miserable (110th nationally), which should make for a good matchup with Penn State's woeful offensive line. The Nittany Lions' defense should keep this a low-scoring game. Expect a lot of action for the field goal kickers, and Maryland's Brad Craddock is the best in the Big Ten in that department. ... Maryland 19, Penn State 17 -- Dan Murphy

Why Penn State will win: Penn State will have to bounce back from an emotional overtime loss to Ohio State, but the Nittany Lions' defense proved it was one of the league's very best vs. the Buckeyes. Meanwhile, schizophrenic Maryland nearly got shut out at Wisconsin. The Terps won't have any easier time moving the ball in Beaver Stadium, and Christian Hackenberg will do just enough for Penn State to improve to 36-1-1 all-time in this "rivalry." ... Penn State 17, Maryland 14 -- Brian Bennett

Why Iowa will win: Let's take a three-point look at Northwestern's offense: QB Trevor Siemian has been so inconsistent this season that he's ranked behind both Devin Gardner and Tanner McEvoy in passing efficiency. Northwestern RB Justin Jackson is good, but the Wildcats have managed to average more than four yards a carry in only one game. And only 19 offenses in the nation are averaging fewer points per game (20.9). Add that all together, and you get a struggling offense that Iowa should take advantage of. The Hawkeyes aren't a one-dimensional offense, so this shouldn't be a repeat of the Wisconsin game. It should be close, but the Hawkeyes win in the end. ... Iowa 24, Northwestern 20 -- Josh Moyer

Why Northwestern will win: Iowa and Northwestern both have had disappointing seasons to date. Both come off of bye weeks and both look to finish strong. The vibe around Iowa is more concerning. Other than the Indiana game, when has Iowa actually looked good? Northwestern at least has solid wins against Penn State and Wisconsin. The Wildcats have a better defense and should be able to run against Iowa with Justin Jackson. Iowa has more offensive firepower, but can the Hawkeyes deliver in a critical game? These are typically close contests, and Northwestern comes out on top this time. ... Northwestern 23, Iowa 21 -- Adam Rittenberg


Unanimous selections

Ohio State 49, Illinois 21: If the Buckeyes can grab a comfortable edge, look for Urban Meyer to rest J.T. Barrett, nursing a knee sprain, in advance of the season-defining trip next week to Michigan State. Though the Illini are riding high after an upset victory over Minnesota, Ohio State and its defensive front pose a new kind of challenge.

Wisconsin 45, Rutgers 14: With or without Gary Nova, the Scarlet Knights are feeling the effects of trips over the past two weeks to Ohio State and Nebraska. And Rutgers is getting the Badgers at a bad time, right as Wisconsin finds itself offensively behind rejuvenated QB Joel Stave and the relentless Melvin Gordon.

Nebraska 52, Purdue 28: Lots of points in Lincoln, but look for the Huskers to control this from the start. Purdue has made huge strides offensively behind Austin Appleby, but its defense still lacks the playmakers to slow Ameer Abdullah. Another big day, too, for Kenny Bell, set to break Johnny Rodgers’ career receiving-yardage record at Nebraska.

Our records:
1. Mitch Sherman: 66-14 (.825)
2. Brian Bennett: 64-16 (.800)
3. Austin Ward: 63-17 (.786)
4. Adam Rittenberg: 62-18 (.775)
5. Josh Moyer: 60-20 (.750)
6. Dan Murphy: 32-11 (.744)

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