College Football Playoff impact games include Clemson, Texas A&M,

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SportsPulse: Dan Wolken reacts to the second College Football Playoff rankings and believes Ohio State can get into the playoff without qualifying for the Big Ten championship game given the committee’s track record.

USA TODAY

It would take some truly wild happenings to alter the playoff picture at this late stage, but truly crazy happenings have been part and parcel in college football for decades.

Even bearing that in mind, No. 1 Alabama and No. 2 Notre Dame aren’t likely to be knocked from their perches this weekend. The Crimson Tide’s once-anticipated date with LSU is now a mere footnote thanks to the Tigers’ 2020 tumble, and the Fighting Irish host 1-9 Syracuse in what amounts to a tune-up for the ACC title game in two weeks.

We’ll turn our attention to the quest for the remaining coveted spots among the top four around the power leagues.

Here are the five games with the most potential impact on the race:

No. 3 Clemson at Virginia Tech

Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET, ABC

A few weeks ago, this looked like the toughest remaining test on Clemson’s schedule before its expected rematch with Notre Dame for the ACC title. It still might be, but the Hokies were last seen getting rolled by the same Pittsburgh team the Tigers just demolished.

Clemson running back Kobe Pace umps into the end zone for a touchdown during the first half against Georgia Tech at Bobby Dodd Stadium. (Photo: Hyosub Shin, Pool Photo)

Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence showed no signs of rust after over a month without throwing a live pass. That is not good news for the Hokies’ defense that is surrendering nearly 275 yards a game through the air, but periodic protection issues on the Tigers’ line could allow Hokies’ DE Justus Reed to generate some heat. Virginia Tech’s ground attack, led by RB Khalil Herbert and also featuring QB Hendon Hooker, must also help by keeping the Clemson offense off the field. LB Baylon Spector will lead the efforts of the Clemson defense to keep the Hokies bottled up.

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No. 6 Texas A&M at Auburn

Saturday, Noon ET, ESPN

The Aggies, barring an extremely unlikely Alabama collapse, aren’t going to win the SEC. They must get to the finish line with just the one loss to the Tide to present their best case to the playoff committee. The Tigers, also victimized by said Crimson Tide in their most recent outing, are now just trying to salvage a winning season.

Texas A&M was not sharp against LSU after some extended down time. QB Kellen Mond will look to rebound against the Tigers’ reeling defense, though he doesn’t have Alabama’s array of weapons. RB Isaiah Spiller can help if he can find his way around LBs Zakoby McClain and Owen Pappoe. The Tigers

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College football Week 14 questions include Clemson, Texas A&M, Texas

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SportsPulse: Dan Wolken reacts to the second College Football Playoff rankings and believes Ohio State can get into the playoff without qualifying for the Big Ten championship game given the committee’s track record.

USA TODAY

There is drama in college football even when the weekend lacks major showdowns. Teams near the top of the rankings have to guard against overconfidence and handle the pressure of games that could determine if they make the playoff or have an opportunity to play for a conference championship. 

Week 14 offers this scenario. Three teams in the top four are road favorites of more than three touchdowns. Notre Dame, the lone team playing at home, is favored by almost five touchdowns against Syracuse. 

That doesn’t mean there is no mystery to what will happen Saturday. Could one of the favorites get tested?

What about below the top of the poll? Texas A&M and Indiana face challenging trips that could shape the outlook of their seasons. A matchup of unlikely unbeatens will take place at Coastal Carolina. And Texas coach Tom Herman faces possibly the largest game of his tenure.

A look at the five biggest questions for Week 14:

Does Clemson get tested by Virginia Tech?

Ha. How about: Does Clemson play starters in the fourth quarter? That’s a better question than if the Tigers will be tested by an opponent that has lost three in a row, four of five and five of seven since starting 2-0. While the Hokies limp to the end of the regular season, the Tigers will be looking to put an exclamation point on every win from here on out in order to secure a spot in the playoff. Given how Clemson has historically fared late in the season under Dabo Swinney, especially after already having suffered a loss, look for the Tigers to take a big lead at halftime and breeze to the final whistle.

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ANALYSIS: Winners and losers from the College Football Playoff ranking

SAYING SORRY: ESPN’s Herbstreit apologies for saying teams are quitting

Can Texas A&M impress playoff committee?

Reaching the SEC championship game is likely off the table, but there’s still much for the Aggies to play for in the final two weeks. An at-large berth in the College Football Playoff isn’t out of the question if Clemson loses to Notre Dame given A&M holds a win against Florida. But part of that calculation is that the Aggies have to earn some style points. They looked listless against LSU and now head to Auburn. It’s a dangerous trip as the Tigers can show moments of brilliance among their frustrating inconsistency. This is a crossroads game for Texas A&M that will define if this season was the breakthrough it has sought under coach Jimbo Fisher or another frustrating one.

Auburn defensive back Christian Tutt tackles Texas A&M quarterback Kellen Mond during the second quarter at Kyle Field. (Photo: John Glaser, USA TODAY Sports)

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DJ Stewart has career night in win over Texas State

Mississippi State Bulldogs

2-6 OVERALL | 2-6 SEC (7th WEST)

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Career night for D.J. Stewart lifts Mississippi State over Texas State in Bulldogs’ home opener

STARKVILLE, Miss. – Three games into this basketball season, there is question as to whether or not Mississippi State can muster enough offense to find great success in the 2020-21 campaign. There is no question though that D.J. Stewart is a big piece of the Bulldogs’ puzzle and on Monday night in MSU’s home opener, the sophomore guard showed why. 

Stewart set a new career high as he scored 23 points to lead MSU to a 68-51 win over Texas State.

“D.J. Stewart was fantastic all night,” Mississippi State head coach Ben Howland said.

Outside of Stewart, only forward Tolu Smith reached double figures in scoring for the Bulldogs. Smith tallied 12. 

No matter though for MSU. Stewart was more than up for the challenge of putting the Bulldogs on his back. He shot 9-of-14 from the field overall, including a red-hot 5-of-6 showing from 3-point range.

Coming into the season – given the loss of State’s four leading scorers from a year ago (Reggie Perry, Robert Woodard II, Tyson Carter and Nick Weatherspoon) – it was apparent Stewart would be counted on to take a big step. After scoring 12 points against Clemson and 20 against Liberty in State’s first two games, Stewart continued his upward trend on Monday.

“I feel like I waited my turn to get to the point I am now,” Stewart said. “I put in a lot of hard work, and I feel like it’s just God blessing me and the hard work is paying off.”

Stewart scored 13 of his points in the second half as Mississippi State pulled away. Early on, the Bulldogs were in a tight fight with the Bobcats, despite Stewart’s production.

MSU led just 26-24 at the half. State shot just 37 percent in the period and was hampered by 10 turnovers. After the intermission though, the tide turned quickly. Less than five minutes into the second half, the Bulldogs had built a double-digit lead, thanks in large part to eight quick points from Stewart including a couple of treys. Like that, State was on the way to the win – the 500th of Howland’s head coaching career.

“I thought (Texas State’s) pressure bothered us early and we did a much better job taking care of the basketball in the second half,” Howland said. “D.J. got it going and we got good production from our bench.”

Indeed, the Bulldogs did get a bench boost. Center Abdul Ado was in foul trouble for much of the night. It provided a great opportunity for backup big men Javian Davis and Quinten Post to shine. The two didn’t disappoint. Post scored nine points and brought down five rebounds in the most significant appearance of his MSU career. Davis wasn’t far from a double-double with seven points and eight boards. 

However the star of this night was undoubtedly Stewart. And the exciting thing for the Bulldogs is that it looks like Stewart is soon to receive a boost.

Point guard Iverson Molinar has missed

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College basketball rankings: North Carolina, Texas set to square off for Maui Invitational title

top25and1-michst.jpg
CBS Sports Graphic

North Carolina and Texas were the two highest ranked teams in the Maui Invitational field this season, according to the CBS Sports Top 25 And 1. So the bracket has unfolded as I assumed it would. And now we’ll get a championship game on Wednesday featuring three five-star freshman bigs — UT’s Greg Brown and UNC’s Day’Ron Sharpe and Walker Kessler.

That’s a nice midweek afternoon treat.

Tip is scheduled for 4 p.m. ET.

North Carolina got to this title game courtesy of Tuesday’s 67-63 victory over Stanford in which Caleb Love, a five-star freshman guard, scored a team-high 16 points. He’s averaging 13.0 points, 3.3 assists and 2.3 rebounds through three games for a Tar Heels team that ranks 10th nationally in defensive efficiency. Meantime, Texas got to this title game courtesy of Tuesday’s 66-44 blowout of Indiana in which Matt Coleman, a senior guard, scored a team-high 16 points. He’s averaging 14.3 points, 5.7 assists and 2.3 rebounds through three games for a Texas team that ranks second nationally in defensive efficiency. So these are, quite literally, two of the best defensive teams in the country.

Don’t be surprised if the winner doesn’t touch 70 points.

North Carolina is No. 16 in Wednesday morning’s updated CBS Sports Top 25 And 1 daily college basketball rankings. Texas is No. 19. Indiana was removed from the Top 25 And 1 following its loss to Texas. The Hoosiers were replaced by Louisville, which is 4-0 after Tuesday’s 75-54 victory over Western Kentucky. Chris Mack’s Cardinals also own a win over Seton Hall.

Wednesday’s Top 25 And 1 rankings

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Texas A&M’s road to the College Football Playoff is all about Notre Dame and white flags

DALLAS — There are two potential paths for Texas A&M to climb into the College Football Playoff, and ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit presented both of them Tuesday, even if he never stated it that way and was forced to apologize for one possibility after the show.



Jimbo Fisher wearing a uniform: Texas A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher disputes a call during a game against Alabama on October 12, 2019, at Kyle Field in College Station, Texas.


© Ashley Landis/Dallas Morning News/TNS
Texas A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher disputes a call during a game against Alabama on October 12, 2019, at Kyle Field in College Station, Texas.

This, of course, is assuming the Aggies’ offense gets back up to speed after a 2-for-16 third-down conversion performance in an uninspired 20-7 win over one-time nemesis LSU on Saturday. Playing better against Auburn, Tennessee and Ole Miss is presumably coach Jimbo Fisher’s first order of business.

But the Aggies were ranked fifth by the committee a week ago, and they were fifth again Tuesday, and it seems entirely possible they will still be sitting in the No. 5 spot on Dec. 20 when it all counts. There’s no real shame in being fifth and the last one out unless you’re Pete Best.

Do I have to explain that? No.

An appearance in the Orange Bowl would certainly feel like an upgrade for Fisher’s Aggies, but when you’re this close thanks to a 6-1 record with a win over No. 6 Florida, you want to slide right into the big show.

Before Herbstreit made comments that lit a fire under host Rece Davis and led to an apology, he made a simpler statement regarding Notre Dame. “To me, I think maybe they’ve already secured a spot in the playoffs,” he said.

And he’s right.

The Fighting Irish sport a 9-0 record with a win over Clemson. If they lose the ACC Championship rematch with Clemson (Trevor Lawrence missed the game in South Bend due to COVID-19), they would still have one of the four best resumes in the country. That’s as long as they don’t lose the rematch by 30 points and force everyone to think that the game of the year — a 47-40 double overtime win at Notre Dame — was solely a product of Lawrence not being available.

So that’s the first challenge for Aggies fans. Learn the Irish fight song. Be ready to cheer, cheer for old Notre Dame on Dec. 19, and if Clemson falls again, then there’s a definite opening in the top four.

That’s not an entirely likely development, but it’s not out of the question. After watching Notre Dame dismantle 19th-ranked North Carolina on the road Saturday, this team at least looks more equipped to handle big games than recent Irish disappointments.

The second way in for the Aggies relates to the suggestion that led to the fireworks and the apology. Out of the blue, Herbstreit said, “I still think Michigan waves the white flag and potentially avoids playing Ohio State next week.” He then went on to state that it’s just not fair that teams can cancel games and leave their opponent hanging. In this case,

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Texas A&M’s road to the College Football Playoff is all about Notre Dame and white flags

There are two potential paths for Texas A&M to climb into the College Football Playoff, and ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit presented both of them Tuesday, even if he never stated it that way and was forced to apologize for one possibility after the show.

This, of course, is assuming the Aggies’ offense gets back up to speed after a 2-for-16 third down conversion performance in an uninspired 20-7 win over one-time nemesis LSU on Saturday. Playing better against Auburn, Tennessee and Ole Miss is presumably coach Jimbo Fisher’s first order of business.

But the Aggies were ranked fifth by the committee a week ago, and they were fifth again Tuesday, and it seems entirely possible they will still be sitting in the No. 5 spot on Dec. 20 when it all counts. There’s no real shame in being fifth and the last one out unless you’re Pete Best.

Do I have to explain that? No.

An appearance in the Orange Bowl would certainly feel like an upgrade for Fisher’s Aggies, but when you’re this close thanks to a 6-1 record with a win over No. 6 Florida, you want to slide right into the big show.

Before Herbstreit made comments that lit a fire under host Rece Davis and led to an apology, he made a simpler statement regarding Notre Dame. “To me, I think maybe they’ve already secured a spot in the playoffs,” he said.

And he’s right.

The Fighting Irish sport a 9-0 record with a win over Clemson. If they lose the ACC Championship rematch with Clemson (Trevor Lawrence missed the game in South Bend due to COVID-19), they would still have one of the four best resumes in the country. That’s as long as they don’t lose the rematch by 30 points and force everyone to think that the game of the year — a 47-40 double overtime win at Notre Dame — was solely a product of Lawrence not being available.

Texas A&M quarterback Kellen Mond (11) is chased out of the pocket by LSU defensive lineman Ali Gaye (11) during the first quarter of a game on Saturday, Nov. 28, 2020. in College Station. (AP Photo/Sam Craft)
Texas A&M quarterback Kellen Mond (11) is chased out of the pocket by LSU defensive lineman Ali Gaye (11) during the first quarter of a game on Saturday, Nov. 28, 2020. in College Station. (AP Photo/Sam Craft)(Sam Craft)

So that’s the first challenge for Aggies fans. Learn the Irish fight song. Be ready to cheer, cheer for old Notre Dame on Dec. 19, and if Clemson falls again, then there’s a definite opening in the top four.

That’s not an entirely likely development, but it’s not out of the question. After watching Notre Dame dismantle 19th-ranked North Carolina on the road Saturday, this team at least looks more equipped to handle big games than recent Irish disappointments.

The second way in for the Aggies relates to the suggestion that led to the fireworks and the apology. Out of the blue, Herbstreit said, “I still think Michigan waves the white flag and potentially avoids playing Ohio State next week.” He then went on to state that it’s just not fair that teams can

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Texas University Freed From $42M Dorm Construction Suit

Law360 (December 2, 2020, 7:21 PM EST) — A Texas appellate panel has dismissed a contractor’s lawsuit seeking more than $6 million from Texas Southern University for delays and extra costs it says it incurred because of the university’s actions while building a $41.5 million student housing project in 2015.

In an opinion on Tuesday, a three-justice First Court of Appeals panel in Houston sided with TSU, finding the school was protected by sovereign immunity from Pepper Lawson Horizon International Group LLC’s allegations of breach of contract and violations of the Texas Prompt Payment Act. The decision overrules a trial court’s May 2019 denial of TSU’s plea to jurisdiction….

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College football games on CBS Sports Network — Watch Louisiana Tech vs. North Texas live stream, TV channel

Buffalo jumped into the driver’s seat in the MAC’s East division with a 70-41 win over Kent State last week and will look to stay there on Saturday when the Bulls play at Ohio in one of six games on CBS Sports Network this weekend. But the 2-1 Bobcats should have a pretty good idea of how to slow Buffalo down, because it’s a recipe that has worked for them the past two seasons. It’s all about stopping Jaret Patterson.

A junior running back coming off a 1,799-yard season, Patterson made his name known around the country last week when he tied an FBS record with eight rushing touchdowns against Kent State. In all, he finished with 409 yards on the ground, falling just short of another FBS record. But in two career games against Ohio, Patterson has run for just 75 yards on 21 carries.

The Bobcats will be looking to replicate that success against Patterson and get back into contention for the league title. With a 2-1 record, Ohio is just a three-point loss to Central Michigan away from being 3-0, and beating a Buffalo team that is enjoying the national spotlight would make quite a statement. That matchup is just one of the storylines that will be at play on CBS Sports Network during week 14 of the college football season.

North Texas vs. Louisiana Tech

Date: Thursday, Dec. 3 | Time: 6 p.m. ET
Location: Apogee Stadium — Denton, Texas
TV: CBS Sports Network [Channel finder] 
Live stream: CBSSports.com | Mobile: CBS Sports App

Storylines: After playing seven straight weeks to open the season, Louisiana Tech (4-3) has been off since Oct. 31. The hiatus has cost them two key playmakers, as leading receiver Adrian Hardy and veteran Justen Henderson have opted out of the season’s final stretch. The Mean Green (3-4) dealt with a three-week break of their own and are 1-1 since.

Air Force vs. Utah State

Date: Thursday, Dec. 3 | Time: 9:30 p.m. ET
Location: Maverik Stadium — Logan, Utah
TV: CBS Sports Network [Channel finder] 
Live stream: CBSSports.com | Mobile: CBS Sports App

Storylines: Both teams beat New Mexico in their most recent game, so they should be able to use film from those games to get a reasonable gauge of what to expect. For Utah State, it was the first win in a season that’s already featured a coaching change. Co-defensive coordinator Frank Maile is two games into his stint as interim coach following Gary Andersen’s departure. Things have been a bit more stable at Air Force, where the Falcons are 2-2, including a huge 40-7 win over rival Navy in the opener.

UNLV vs. Boise State

Date: Friday, Dec. 4 | Time: 9:30 p.m. ET
Location: Allegiant Stadium — Las Vegas, Nevada
TV: CBS Sports Network [Channel finder] 
Live stream: CBSSports.com | Mobile: CBS Sports App

Storylines: The Broncos are 4-1 with their only loss coming to BYU when they were without their top two quarterbacks. So, in essence,

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No. 5 Texas A&M still outside top four in latest rankings, but creating real buzz for potential jump

While Texas A&M remained No. 5 in the second College Football Playoff rankings Tuesday, the Aggies are creating plenty of discussion in Grapevine.

Selection committee chairman Gary Barta, the athletic director at Iowa, said on ESPN’s playoff reveal and later in a conference call with reporters that the committee debated No. 4 Ohio State (4-0) and the Aggies (6-1) at length.

“It was talked about a lot and specifically talked about in the room whether or not Ohio State goes to four or if Texas A&M flips and goes to four and Ohio State goes five,” Barta said. “A lot of discussion about that. At the end of the day, the offensive firepower of Ohio State, all the weapons they have, the win over Indiana.”

Making the comparison more difficult is the fact than Ohio State has only played four games because of COVID-19 restrictions to seven for A&M. Ohio State’s game at Illinois was canceled last week because of a positive COVID-19 tests with the Buckeyes. Another cancellation would make Ohio State ineligible for the Big Ten championship game with a maximum of six regular-season games.

A&M has three games remaining on its schedule, at Auburn and Tennessee and home to Mississippi.

The final CFP rankings are scheduled to be released Dec. 20 with the top four teams comprising the playoff semifinals.

There is not a minimum number of games that teams have to meet to be eligible for the playoff.

Barta admitted the difference in games represents a major challenge for the 13-member committee.

“Frankly, it’s a problem,” Barta said. “It’s a problem that is nobody’s fault. It was created by the pandemic. But the bottom line is the greater body of work that a team brings to the committee, the more the committee has to evaluate.”

Barta singled out the A&M defense on the conference call.

A&M has only allowed 10 points in its last two games, including a 20-7 win over LSU. The Aggies lead the SEC, allowing only 328 yards a game.

“Defense is what the committee sees and is most impressed with when it watches Texas A&M,” Barta said. “They have a heck of a defense. They beat No. 6 Florida. They only lost to Alabama.”

But Barta acknowledged concerns with the Aggies’ offense, which just produced one offensive touchdown against LSU after a 21-day layoff on a rainy evening.

“The committee does continue to keep an eye on Texas A&M’s offense … that game against LSU, 20-7,” Barta said. “When those two teams are put side-by-side this [Tuesday] morning and last [Monday] night, there just wasn’t enough there to put Texas A&M ahead of Ohio State. Great discussion, but Ohio State came in at No. 4 and Texas A&M at No. 5.”

Here are other takeaways from the second week of rankings:

— The Big 12 got a boost, although a CFP berth is a long shot. Iowa State jumped four spots to No. 9 after rallying from 10 points down to beat

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