College Football Odds Week 14: Picks Against the Spread for Updated Top 25 Games | Bleacher Report

Ken Ruinard/Associated Press

Friday, Dec. 4

No. 25 Louisiana-Lafayette at Appalachian State (-2.5), 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

                  

Saturday, Dec. 5

No. 4 Ohio State (-24) at Michigan State, noon ET, ABC

No. 5 Texas A&M (-7) at Auburn, noon ET, ESPN

No. 15 Oklahoma State (-2.5) at TCU, noon ET, ESPN2

Western Carolina at No. 17 North Carolina (-49.5), noon ET, ACC Network

Rice at No. 21 Marshall (-23.5), noon ET, ESPN+

Liberty at No. 18 Coastal Carolina (-10.5), 2 p.m. ET, ESPNU

Syracuse at No. 2 Notre Dame (-33.5), 2:30 p.m. ET, NBC

No. 6 Florida (-17.5) at Tennessee, 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS

West Virginia at No. 9 Iowa State (-6.5), 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

No. 12 Indiana at No. 16 Wisconsin (-14.5), 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC

No. 19 Iowa (-14) at Illinois, 3:30 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1

No. 24 Tulsa (-12.5) at Navy, 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2

Vanderbilt at No. 8 Georgia (-35.5), 4 p.m. ET, SEC Network

Stanford at No. 22 Washington (-11.5), 4 p.m. ET, Fox

No. 23 Oregon (-9.5) at California, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN

No. 3 Clemson (-22.5) at Virginia Tech, 7:30 p.m. ET, ABC

No. 1 Alabama (-29.5) at LSU, 8 p.m. ET, CBS

No. 10 Miami (-14.5) at Duke, 8 p.m. ET, ACC Network

Baylor at No. 11 Oklahoma (-22.5), 8 p.m. ET, Fox

                  

Sunday, Dec. 6

Washington State at No. 20 USC (-14.5), 7:30 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1

Picks in bold against the spread. Odds via DraftKings.

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Adam Kramer’s College Football Locks and Top Bets for Week 14 | Bleacher Report

Alabama quarterback Mac Jones (10) walks off the field after throwing an pick six interception during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Auburn Saturday, Nov. 30, 2019, in Auburn, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

Butch Dill/Associated Press

Picking winners is hard. These days, it’s getting harder. Trying to dissect college football games against the spread was already difficult before COVID-19 put every game in doubt.

That is not an excuse. My troubles of late when it comes to picking winners cannot and should not be blamed on that. That said, it adds a wrinkle to an already challenging process. And like everyone else, I must adjust to the unknown.

Now, about last week. Not great. Bad luck (again) coupled with a couple of ghoulish selections, and I am once again in the doghouse. Two wins, five losses and two games that were not played. (This is the part where I say the games that weren’t played would’ve been winners, and you just politely nod along.) The overall record is now 33-33.

We were scorching hot. Now we’re ice-cold. Our fortune is about to change, and it’s about to change now. Before we dive into this week’s batch of rebound selections, let’s explore the good and the bad from the previous week.

       

The Good: Iowa State

Close game. Clean win. No tomfoolery. After this outcome, I thought I was in for a monster week. Well, I was clearly wrong. The over in Pittsburgh-Clemson was also a nice winner, although I was emotionally distraught from all of the losers at that point. I needed more Iowa State victories in my life.

        

The Bad: Plenty, but Let’s Go with SMU-East Carolina

Gross. Ugh. Yikes. Gadzooks. For regulars of this piece, I have regularly complimented East Carolina this season. But I thought the double-digit point spread for SMU was a sign of things to come against a program that is still figuring it out. I knew this game was over after about eight minutes. Not proud. Punt this pick into the sun.

        

The time is now.

Here are the Week 14 selections, using point spreads provided by DraftKings.

          

Alabama vs. LSU (Under 68.5)

Gerald Herbert/Associated Press

Alabama is going to score plenty. Let’s not shy away from that. If you want to tap into the potential revenge angle after last year’s loss, go for it. No issues there. Whether Nick Saban decides to win by four touchdowns or more (the current spread) won’t impact this logic one iota.

A few factors point toward the under. For starters, LSU’s best offensive player just opted out. Terrace Marshall Jr., the Tigers’ star wideout this year, announced he was leaving the team to prepare for the NFL draft after last week’s loss. This is suboptimal.

It’s even more suboptimal when you consider that Alabama has allowed a total of 16 points in the last three games. (Suboptimal for the Tigers, potentially optimal for the under.)

Finally, LSU cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. can at least contain Alabama wideout DeVonta Smith assuming he covers him much of the game. What a matchup, by the way. Regardless of how you feel about this pick or this game, you should watch just for that.

The

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LeBron James’ Career Earnings After Signing $85M Lakers Contract Extension | Bleacher Report

Los Angeles Lakers' LeBron James walks back after making a 3-point shot during the first half of an NBA conference semifinal playoff basketball game against the Houston Rockets Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

LeBron James continues to stockpile cash in his NBA career after agreeing a contract extension with the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday. 

Rich Paul, James’ agent, told Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium that the four-time NBA MVP has agreed to an $85 million extension that will keep him with the Lakers through 2022-23. 

Darren Rovell of The Action Network noted when the extension is done that James will have earned $428 million just on his NBA contracts alone:

Even before agreeing to his extension, James has already made more money through NBA contracts than any player in league history. 

Per Spotrac, James moved $9.5 million ahead of Kevin Garnett ($334,304,240) after signing his deal with the Lakers in July 2018. Kobe Bryant ($323,312,307), Chris Paul ($299,909,419) and Shaquille O’Neal ($286,344,668) round out the top five. 

Of course, James’ on-court earnings don’t make up his entire portfolio. Forbes estimated the four-time NBA Finals MVP earned $60 million in 2020 through endorsement deals, his SpringHill Entertainment production company and the UNINTERRUPTED media company. 

James has dabbled in acting in the offseason during his career. He was a co-star in the 2015 movie Trainwreck and voiced a character in the 2018 animated film Smallfoot. The 35-year-old will have his first starring role in Space Jam: A New Legacy, which is scheduled to premiere on July 16, 2021. 

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Boston University Weekly COVID-19 Report: November 25 to December 1 | The Brink

Extra COVID-19 tests urged for everyone as cases surge from Thanksgiving

Now that Boston University is publishing its COVID-19 testing data on a public-facing dashboard, Gloria Waters, BU vice president and associate provost for research, and Judy Platt, director of BU Student Health Services, are providing a weekly update on the overall health of the BU community.

“We knew this was going to happen—we expected this,” Judy Platt says. 

Boston University’s Clinical Testing Lab is detecting a fresh uptick in coronavirus cases linked to Thanksgiving travel. Between November 25 and December 1, 46 students tested positive for coronavirus, as well as 28 faculty and staff. On December 1 alone, 26 members of the BU community received positive test results.

“It’s so critical now, during this surge, for people to be as forthcoming as possible,” Platt says. “When the call comes in from contact tracing, we need people to answer quickly and disclose all their contacts. We still have the ability to control this.”

Platt says BU’s contact tracing is seeing many cases associated with Thanksgiving travel. “Most of the close contacts being reported are people from outside of BU residential households,” she says. People who traveled for Thanksgiving likely spent time with people outside their typical household, and may have not been wearing masks—especially during a holiday full of eating and drinking.

“We want to stress the importance of wearing a mask,” Gloria Waters says. “If you’re taking off your mask around other people, that’s most likely how you’re going to end up getting infected or infecting others.”

Waters says students should make sure their Learn from Anywhere status is current so BU can properly calculate the campus community’s compliance with its coronavirus surveillance program. 

This week, everyone at BU is being asked to take an extra coronavirus test in an effort to identify positive cases early and isolate the infected. Undergraduates, who typically test twice per week, should seek out three tests per week. Graduate students, faculty, and staff should increase their weekly test by adding one more, for a total of two. Even Category 4 students, who do all of their schoolwork remotely and are not typically tested regularly, are asked to come to campus to take a coronavirus test to help quell the spread of the virus among off-campus student households.

“We’re offering testing to Category 4 students and already more than 750 of them have come in to get tested since Thanksgiving,” Waters says. “That option is still available for fully remote students.”

Waters is also encouraging BU faculty and staff who work in research laboratories to be extra vigilant about following COVID-19 protocols. She says anyone who sees safety issues in the lab—people not wearing masks, not maintaining social distance, or other issues—should report those concerns to a PI, lab head, or department chair.

Although 56 students are currently in isolation housing with active cases of coronavirus, Platt says BU is in a good position to accommodate more cases if they should

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Johnny Manziel Discusses Offers for Impermissible Benefits During College Career | Bleacher Report

Former Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel between drills at his alma mater during Texas A&M's football Pro Day in College Station, Texas, Tuesday, March 27, 2018. (AP Photo/Michael Wyke)

Michael Wyke/Associated Press

Former Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel opened up about receiving impermissible benefits during his college career.

During an appearance on the YNK: You Know What I Mean? podcast, Manziel discussed people offering him money to do favors for them while he was playing at Texas A&M (warning: contains profanity):

Rumors and speculation about Manziel making money off of his name while playing for the Aggies is nothing new. 

Darren Rovell and Justine Gubar of ESPN’s Outside the Lines reported in 2013 that the NCAA was investigating Manziel for potentially receiving money “for signing hundreds of autographs on photos and sports memorabilia in January.”

Rovell and Gubar reported Manziel agreed to the signings for a “five-figure flat fee” when he was in Miami to do press during the week leading up to the 2013 BCS National Championship Game between Notre Dame and Alabama. 

Manziel did receive a modest suspension in which he had to sit out the first half of Texas A&M’s 2013 season opener against Rice, but the NCAA ultimately ruled that he didn’t accept money. 

Texas A&M went 9-4 in 2013 and defeated Duke 52-48 in the Peach Bowl in what turned out to be Manziel’s final college game. The 27-year-old played two seasons in the NFL with the Cleveland Browns before being released in March 2016. 

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Indiana University researchers report a specific type of childhood cancer

Researchers at Indiana University School of Medicine have published their work about a specific type of childhood cancer in the peer-reviewed, international oncology journal, Cancers.

This research involves a combination therapy that significantly slows tumor growth in models, which includes a model established from cells taken from tumors donated by Tyler Trent. This is the first published manuscript that includes Trent’s tumor model.

Trent was a Purdue University student and sports superfan who died on January 1, 2019, after waging a long and valiant fight against an aggressive form of bone cancer known as osteosarcoma.

In the publication’s acknowledgments, the researchers dedicated the study to Trent’s memory, saying they will always remember him for his courageous battle, his passion for cancer advocacy, and the generous donation of his tumor tissue for research.

We are so proud to honor Tyler’s legacy with this first publication, laying the foundation for future research to build upon. We still have more work to do, but are hopeful that new therapies for osteosarcoma will be possible as we learn more about how to block different tumors from growing.”


Karen E. Pollok, PhD, Study Lead and Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Indiana University School of Medicine

The Precision Genomics team at Riley Children’s Health found a genetic variation in Trent’s tumors (named after him as TT1 and TT2) known as the MYC-RAD21 signature, which has been found in tumors that tend to recur.

Pollok said there are two drugs that can block its effects, a Chk1 inhibitor and a bromodomain inhibitor. Her team tested each drug individually, as well as in combination.

They found that in models with the TT2 tumor, they could stop the tumors from growing by using one of the drugs individually, but using both drugs together blocked tumor growth substantially during a four-week treatment. The research team also determined that the combination treatment was well-tolerated.

“This research is allowing us to forge a path to improving outcomes for children, adolescents and young adults with a very aggressive bone cancer,” said Jamie Renbarger, MD, another one of the lead researchers.

Renbarger was one of Tyler’s doctors and also leads the IU Precision Health Initiative pediatric sarcoma disease research team. She is also the Caroline Symmes Professor of Pediatric Cancer Research at IU School of Medicine. “We are hopeful that this program will lead the way in finding cures for more children.”

The tumor started growing in the models again after stopping the therapy, leading researchers to consider next steps in their scientific process.

Future research topics will include learning to understand how the tumors adapt to treatments and finding ways to optimize the combination therapy.

“The findings and research going on with Tyler’s tumor models is incredibly encouraging and comforting to Tony and I,” said Kelly Trent, who is Tyler Trent’s mother. “It was at the core of who Tyler was to want to be used for good and to help at this capacity. We are so grateful

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College Football Playoff 2020: Predicting Final 4 Teams Post-Week 14 Rankings | Bleacher Report

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    Rogelio V. Solis/Associated Press

    The College Football Playoff contenders are building up to December 19, when three conference championship games should determine the four-team field. 

    The second playoff rankings, which were released Tuesday night, had no change at the top after the Alabama Crimson Tide, Notre Dame Fighting Irish and Clemson Tigers won in Week 13. 

    Each of those three teams are scheduled to play their final regular-season games on Saturday after the ACC made an adjustment to its league play. 

    To have some type of competitive balance, Clemson, Notre Dame and the Miami Hurricanes, who are third in the conference, will play nine ACC games each to be on a level playing field when it comes to ACC Championship Game eligibility. 

    The Ohio State Buckeyes remained at No. 4, but they sit in a more precarious situation than their title rivals from the SEC and ACC. 

    Ryan Day’s team needs to play both of its remaining Big Ten regular-season contests to be eligible for the Big Ten Championship Game. 

    With the new scheduling news out of the ACC, Ohio State would be the only Top Four team to enter its conference title game without a bye week. The Buckeyes are line in to play the Michigan State Spartans on Saturday and the Michigan Wolverines on December 12. 

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    Rogelio V. Solis/Associated Press

    Alabama appears to have an easy path to the playoff. 

    The Crimson Tide need to beat the LSU Tigers on Saturday and then defeat the Florida Gators in the SEC Championship Game to secure the No. 1 seed. 

    Nick Saban’s team rolled through a majority of its SEC opponents and has held its last three foes to a combined 16 points. 

    Where things get interesting with Alabama is if it loses by a close margin on December 19. The first two losers of Top Five clashes in 2020 only dropped two positions in the rankings, and Alabama may be hard to keep out in that scenario. 

    However, we may not reach that conversation since Alabama won its last six SEC Championship Game appearances and only one SEC East team has won the conference title game since 2008. 

    The small drops of Clemson after its loss to Notre Dame and the Georgia Bulldogs following their defeat to Alabama set a precedent for Notre Dame if it falls in the ACC Championship Game. 

    As the lone undefeated team in the ACC, Notre Dame clinched a spot in the December 19 game through the league’s rescheduling on Tuesday. 

    Notre Dame carries a win over third-ranked Clemson on its resume, but it will face a bit of different Tigers squad in Charlotte, North Carolina, in two weeks. 

    Trevor Lawrence is back under center following his absence caused by a positive COVID-19 test, and defensive stars Tyler Davis and James Skalski returned to the lineup. 

    If the two defenders are at full strength for the second meeting with Notre Dame, the Irish may have trouble moving the

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Auditor-General releases ‘scathing’ report into Auckland University’s $5m house purchase



a house with trees in the background: The house was the most expensive on the shortlist of three.


© RNZ/Checkpoint
The house was the most expensive on the shortlist of three.

The University of Auckland has been slammed by the Auditor-General for the controversial purchase of a $5 million house for its Vice-Chancellor.

The university bought the house in the inner-city suburb of Parnell as a home for incoming vice-chancellor Dawn Freshwater in November 2019, and would also be used for “business-related operations, and functions”.

The purchase of the four-bedroom, 338 square metres property was criticised as “absolutely disgusting” by NZ Union of Student Associations president Isabella Lenihan-Ikin, who compared it to the houses students are known to rent.

“I think there’s a difference between buying a house for Vice-Chancellor and buying $5 million mansions,” she told Checkpoint.

The Auditor General’s office launched an investigation into the “unusual purchase”, the results of which were released in a report on Wednesday.

It found that the purchase clearly involved “sensitive expenditure”, meaning they ran the risk of being seen to give “disproportionate” benefit to Freshwater above the business needs of the university.

“The University has not been able to show that this sensitive expenditure was appropriate in all respects,” the report said.

“This is because the University has not been able to demonstrate that it has met key principles of managing sensitive expenditure well.”

The report also revealed the house was not the first purchased for a Vice-Chancellor, with a property in Remuera previously being used as a residence including “facilities for University entertainment purposes”.

The house had weathertightness issues, the university told the Auditor General, and was no longer fit for purchase so it was sold for $2,965,000 in July 2020.

The Parnell house was instead purchased for Freshwater last year and took into account her preferences including it be within walking distance of the university, and have easy access to the bays, cafes, and restaurants. 

The property was narrowed down from 20 and was bought for $5.062 million with Freshwater’s rent set at 52 percent of the market rental value.

The report found that the university could not prove the purchase was “moderate and conservative” and did not consider if it could have effectively achieved the purposes it says it bought the house for – accommodation and hosting – for less cost. 

“It is hard to accept that purchasing a house to provide accommodation for the incoming Vice-Chancellor, and to host an anticipated 14 events in two years, justifies the $5 million expenditure. Nor does that level of hosting, in my view, justify an almost 50 percent reduction in the property’s rent.”

The Auditor General’s office said the University of Auckland had been provided a copy of the draft report and was taking steps to review the situation.

“The Vice-Chancellor also told us that she has recommended to the University Council that the Parnell house be sold to assist with the University’s overall financial position.”

In a statement, the university said they accepted the report’s findings and acknowledged there were shortcomings

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College Football Playoff Notebook: The Ohio State Conundrum Has an Easy Fix | Bleacher Report

Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields throws a pass against Indiana during the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020, in Columbus, Ohio. Ohio State beat Indiana 42-35. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)

Jay LaPrete/Associated Press

Alabama, Notre Dame and Clemson remain atop the College Football Playoff rankings, but Ohio State is the biggest story of the week.

Because of a COVID-19 outbreak in the program, the No. 4 Buckeyes didn’t travel to Illinois last Saturday. As a result, they’re now in jeopardy of falling below the Big Ten’s arbitrary six-game minimum to compete in the Big Ten Championship Game.

That scenario has stirred concern about Ohio State not winning a Big Ten title and impacting its CFP hopes. If either upcoming game (at Michigan State on Saturday or vs. Michigan next week) is canceled, the Buckeyes would fall short of six pre-championship games.

However, it shouldn’t be this complicated.

The best (and easiest!) decision is entirely in the Big Ten’s control. It’s this simple: Eliminate the six-game minimum and put Ohio State against Northwestern on the championship stage.

Results have almost officially shown this is what should happen. Indiana lost to the Buckeyes, and no other East Division program is better than 2-2 (Maryland). Ohio State and Northwestern can both clinch a division title with one more win.

Ohio State beat Northwestern in the 2018 Big Ten title game.

Ohio State beat Northwestern in the 2018 Big Ten title game.Michael Conroy/Associated Press

Might some critics believe the Big Ten is catering to Ohio State? Who cares? Since the Buckeyes are the best option to represent the league in the playoff, make it happen!

This six-game minimum is exclusive to 2020a year in which we’re making it up along the wayso why should this suddenly be an immovable obstacle?

Just look at the ACC.

Hours before Tuesday’s CFP release, the ACC announced it will evaluate Notre Dame, Clemson and Miami on a nine-game league schedule instead of 10. The league literally removed a game for No. 2 Notre Dame and is not rescheduling a 10th for No. 3 Clemson. Yet the only people even mildly upset at the decision are those who believe the ACC is protecting both teams’ playoff hopes.

So what?

This isn’t difficult.

Is the Big Tenthe conference that canceled the season first because it expected the rest of the sport to follow, said it would not reconsider, in fact reconsidered and started in late Octoberactually scared of some bad press? Maybe.

But just imagine the backlash if Ohio State is left out of the CFP because it didn’t win a conference championship. That would be markedly more intense than a quick-to-fade perception that the Big Ten wants to protect Ohio State’s playoff hopes.

Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren

Big Ten commissioner Kevin WarrenMichael Conroy/Associated Press

Sure, this hypothetical might be irrelevant in two weeks. If the Buckeyes play both Michigan State and Michigan, they’ll either be 6-0 and heading to the Big Ten Championship Game or, after a loss, removed from CFP consideration.

These are not mutually exclusive points, though.

Unlike the Big Ten, the College Football Playoff selection committee has no minimum requirement for the number of games to be considered. In theory,

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College Football Playoff Rankings 2020: Week 14 Poll Announced by Committee | Bleacher Report

Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields throws a pass against Indiana during the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020, in Columbus, Ohio. Ohio State beat Indiana 42-35. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)

Jay LaPrete/Associated Press

The second release of the College Football Playoff rankings featured little movement at the top.

Each of the first seven spots remained the same as last week after most of the top-ranked teams took care of business over the weekend. Ohio State and Cincinnati were inactive after their games were affected by COVID-19 outbreaks.

Here is the latest Top 25 ahead of Week 14:

     

CFP Rankings

1. Alabama

2. Notre Dame

3. Clemson

4. Ohio State

5. Texas A&M

6. Florida

7. Cincinnati

8. Georgia

9. Iowa State

10. Miami (FL)

11. Oklahoma

12. Indiana

13. BYU

14. Northwestern

15. Oklahoma State

16. Wisconsin

17. North Carolina

18. Coastal Carolina

19. Iowa

20. USC

21. Marshall

22. Washington

23. Oregon

24. Tulsa

25. Louisiana

     

There were no questions about the top two teams in the rankings as Alabama and Notre Dame each impressed with wins over opponents that were ranked entering the week.

Alabama cruised to a 42-13 victory over rival Auburn that featured five touchdowns from Mac Jones.

Notre Dame had a little bit more trouble on the road against North Carolina but pulled out a 31-17 win, holding an exciting Tar Heels offense under 20 points for the first time all season.

Clemson had a few more question marks but showed how good it can be at full strength with a 52-17 blowout over Pittsburgh, going up 31-0 in the first quarter of Trevor Lawrence’s first appearance in over a month. Although the quarterback missed the last meeting against Notre Dame, he could help the Tigers avenge that loss in the ACC Championship Game.

There has been more debate about the No. 4 spot with Ohio State’s season once again disrupted by COVID-19. The team had a second game canceled Saturday and has only played four games.

With Michigan also pausing activities because of the coronavirus, the team’s remaining schedule is also in doubt.

Though this could affect their eligibility for the Big Ten championship, the Buckeyes can still play for a national title. Based on on-field play, the committee sees Ohio State as the No. 4 team in college football.

Texas A&M and Florida remain just outside the playoff spots after each earned wins Saturday.

Previously undefeated teams Northwestern and Oregon each fell in the rankings after suffering losses over the weekend.

Northwestern’s 29-20 loss to Michigan State caused a fall from No. 8 to No. 14. Oregon is now No. 23 after entering last week at No. 15, with the 41-38 loss to Oregon State likely removing any hope at a playoff spot.

It helps narrow the field with only a few weeks remaining in the regular season.

BYU also remained outside the top 10 despite a 9-0 start to the year, making a late climb a difficult challenge for the squad.

Iowa State was the big winner of the latest ranking, moving up from No. 13 to No. 9 after beating Texas.

Ohio State should be back in action in Week 14

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