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All taxonomy terms: College Football, Florida Gators, SEC
Path: /college-football/4-keys-florida-gators-defeat-tennessee-volunteers

Jim McElwain will attempt to get his second SEC win as his Florida Gators will host the Tennessee Volunteers Saturday. Last weekend, McElwain earned his first conference victory (14-9) on the road against the Kentucky Wildcats.


Florida has won 10 straight games over Tennessee in their rivalry. Can the Gators extend their series-best streak to 11 games? Here are four things they’ll likely have to do in order to come out victorious at home in The Swamp.


1. Shut down the run 

Most of Tennessee’s offensive success this season has come on the ground. Through the first three games of the season, the Volunteers have averaged 246 rushing yards per game, which ranks 17th in the FBS.


Florida has had a lot of success stopping the run in their first three games as they have given up an average of 55.3 yards per game. The Gators have a very stout front line and some of the fastest linebackers in the nation. 


If the Gators can contain the two-headed rushing attack of Jalen Hurd and Alvin Kamara and force quarterback Joshua Dobbs to beat them, it could be a very long day for the Volunteers offense.


2. Run the ball

The best friend of a young and inexperienced quarterback is a good running game. This is why Kelvin Taylor and the Gators' stable of running backs need to have their best performance of the season.


Taylor, who is most known for being on the receiving end of the McElwain tirade against East Carolina, will need to rush for more than his average of 51 yards per game. While Taylor has been inconsistent throughout his career, he has shown that he can take over a game (197 yards and two touchdowns against Georgia last season).


Florida also has Jordan Scarlett and Jordan Cronkite, who can also help the team in the rushing department. The Volunteers defense has given up an average of 158 yards per game this season, so that’s why it is important for the Gators to establish the run.


3. Get pressure on Dobbs

Defensive back Vernon Hargraves III and the Gators' secondary receive a lot of credit for how great Florida's defense is. But Jonathan Bullard and the defensive line equally deserve some credit as well.


Last week against Kentucky, Bullard register two of the Gators’ six sacks. For his effort, he was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Week. The Shelby, N.C., native also contributed five tackles, with four of them unassisted.


If Florida’s defensive line can get Dobbs uncomfortable in the pocket, that should create more opportunities for Hargraves and the rest of the Gators' secondary. 


4. Be more disciplined

In Florida's last two games, the team has committed a combined total of 19 penalties for 126 yards. McElwain has been trying to instill some discipline in the Gators, but it hasn’t happened so far.


“The type of penalties I'm getting at are very correctable,” said McElwain in his weekly Monday morning press conference. “I don't think that running into the punter — I'm still scratching my head how he did that — but it ended up not killing us.”


While those penalties haven’t killed the Gators so far, they will eventually. With a tough SEC schedule coming up, it is imperative that Florida limits the mistakes because they aren't good enough to keep overcoming multiple mental mistakes each week.


— Written by Antwan Staley, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and has extensive experience covering Florida sports teams. Staley has written for Bleacher Report, Pro Player Insiders and is a reporter for Sports Talk Florida. Follow him on Twitter @antwanstaley.

4 Keys for the Florida Gators to defeat the Tennessee Volunteers
Post date: Friday, September 25, 2015 - 10:20
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, NFL, Fantasy
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-five-up-five-down-marshawn-lynch-up-donte-moncrief-down-week-3

After Week 2, we can begin to make some assumptions about certain players and certain teams. We also have a lot more injuries to contend with, which makes ranking players more difficult.


As a result, the weekly fantasy rankings can drastically change from week to week. In this case, we will take a look at five players who are moving up the ranks from Week 2 and five players who are moving down the rankings from Week 2.


Positional Rankings: QB I RB I WR I TE I DST I K I Flex


Please note this is not a start/sit column. These are simply guys that are either trending up or down based on their performance last week and their matchup this week.


Five Up


Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots

Full disclosure: Brady appeared in the Five Down section of this column last week. Bad call. He went ahead and threw for 466 yards and three touchdowns. On the season he has 754 yards, seven touchdowns and no interceptions. He's looked nothing short of great so far this season, and he gets to play Jacksonville in Week 3. Ryan Tannehill just threw for 359 yards and two touchdowns against the Jags; imagine what Brady can do. He's the No. 1 quarterback in the rankings this week, and we can't be wrong two weeks in a row, right?


Marshawn Lynch, RB, Seattle Seahawks

Here's a stat for you: Lynch scored 13 rushing touchdowns in 2014. Not impressed? How about the sidebar to that stat which says that 11 of those touchdowns were scored when the Seahawks were at home? The Seahawks are at home for the first time in 2015 and they are facing a terrible Bears team that allowed Eddie Lacy to rush for a touchdown in Week 1 and David Johnson to rush for one in Week 2. Odds are on Lynch scoring. Plus, the Seahawks may end up gaining a lead early, which means running the clock out. Garbage time still counts for points in fantasy. Lynch is the No. 3 running back for Week 3.


Update: Lynch is officially questionable with a calf injury. If he plays, start him in regular leagues, but be careful, as the Seahawks play in the later afternoon games on Sunday. Be sure to monitor his status up through Sunday morning.


Jarvis Landry, WR, Miami Dolphins

In PPR leagues, Landry is a WR1. He sees a bump this week because of the consistency he's shown. With eight receptions in each of the past two games, he is getting targets (12 and 10 over the past two games) and converting them into receptions and yards. He hasn't scored a receiving touchdown yet this year (he did score a punt return touchdown). The Dolphins play the Bills this week. While Andrew Luck struggled against the Bills, Tom Brady showed they are beatable through the air.


Amari Cooper, WR, Oakland Raiders

Cooper had nine targets in Week 1 and 11 in Week 2. He converted those targets into 12 receptions for 156 yards and a touchdown. Derek Carr looks for him and trusts him in the passing game. He can gain yards after the catch and he's fast. The Raiders play the Browns in Week 3, but fantasy owners no longer have to fear Joe Haden. He will likely be matched up with Cooper, but he has shown that he is not one of the elite cornerbacks in the NFL anymore. Look for Cooper to have another good game.


Jimmy Graham, TE, Seattle Seahawks

Squeaky wheel gets the grease. That saying applies to Graham this week. He's complained that he's not happy with his role in Seattle. He's had 10 targets over two games, putting up a 1/11/0 stat line in Week 2. He did find the end zone in Week 1, saving his fantasy day, but he still has not put up the numbers of Graham of the Saints. However, typically when a player complains, they get fed the ball. Graham has a great matchup against Chicago, whose defense can't cover anybody, let alone a 6-foot-7 tight end in the red zone. Expect Graham to get the ball often - and in the end zone - in Week 3.


Five Down


Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans Saints

Full disclosure, part 2: Brees appeared in the Five Up section of this column last week. Bad call. Brees reportedly has a rotator cuff injury, but claims he will play on Sunday. If that is the case, stay away. His numbers from Week 2 aren't terrible on paper: 24-for-38, 255 yards, one touchdown, one interception. However, knowing that he was at home, against a Tampa Bay defense that just made Marcus Mariota look better than Drew Brees… don't trust him in Week 3. The Saints (like a few other teams in the league) need to figure out how to get their offense back on track. Until they do, only start Brees if you have to (same goes for his pass catchers). Is Jimmy Graham available? Drew Brees misses him.


Update: Brees has been ruled out for Sunday's game. In this case, Brandin Cooks belongs in the Five Down section as he's struggled with Brees. Don't expect him to succeed with a backup quarterback.


Lamar Miller, RB, Miami Dolphins

Likely drafted as a RB1, Miller certainly hasn't performed like one so far in 2015. This season, he has 23 carries for 67 yards. He has six receptions for 50 yards as well. In Week 2, he hurt his ankle and even if he does play in Week 3, he faces the Bills. Miller put in a limited practice on Thursday and will likely try to suit up on Sunday, but the Bills' run defense is tough. In Week 1, they held Frank Gore to 31 rushing yards (and the whole team to 61 rushing yards, 20 of which were from Andrew Luck). In Week 2, they held Dion Lewis to 40 yards (and the Patriots as a team to 56), although he did score a touchdown. A banged-up Miller is not elite enough to break through that defense. He's a low-end RB2.


C.J. Anderson, RB, Denver Broncos

Anderson, like Miller, was likely drafted as a RB1. He's barely a RB3 for Week 3, coming off two brutal performances. He's had 24 carries for 56 yards, good for 2.3 yards per carry. He's been out-touched by Ronnie Hillman, and his starting gig may be in jeopardy if he puts up another bad game. Anderson claims he is over the toe injury which may have limited him in Week 2, but until he puts up a decent performance, we're not convinced. He's the No. 30 running back for Week 3 against the Lions.


Donte Moncrief, WR, Indianapolis Colts

In Week 1, Moncrief had 11 targets, which he converted in to a 6/46/1 stat line. He had eight targets for seven receptions, 122 yards and a touchdown in Week 2. T.Y. Hilton was injured during Week 1 and somewhat limited in Week 2. The Colts face the Titans in Week 3, and Moncrief has to come down from his high. Many fantasy owners spent a lot of FAAB money on him last week and reaped the benefits in Week 2. However, the Colts' offense needs to figure out a way to get back on track, and Hilton is the key to that offense. Moncrief is the No. 34 wide receiver in the rankings for Week 3 as this appears to be the Hilton show.


Travis Kelce, TE, Kansas City Chiefs

Kelce is a must-start tight end, but he should face a tough matchup in Week 3 against Green Bay. The Packers may be able to contain tight ends. They limited Jimmy Graham to one reception for 11 yards and no touchdowns. In Week 1, Martellus Bennett had five receptions for 55 yards and a touchdown. For some reason, Kelce was only targeted five times in Week 2, and he caught four of those passes for 58 yards. Because of the tough matchup and the strange usage in Week 2, Kelce is the No. 10 tight end for Week 3.


— Written by Sarah Lewis, who is part of the Athlon Contributor network and lives, eats, and breathes fantasy football. She also writes for among other sites. Have a fantasy football question? Send it to her on Twitter @Sarah_Lewis32.

Fantasy Football Five Up, Five Down: Marshawn Lynch Up, Donte Moncrief Down For Week 3
Post date: Friday, September 25, 2015 - 10:15
Path: /college-football/auburn-tigers-vs-mississippi-state-bulldogs-preview-and-prediction-2015

The rugged SEC West doesn’t provide any breaks on the schedule for any of the division’s seven teams, and Saturday night’s matchup between Auburn and Mississippi State is already shaping up to be a critical game for both teams.


Preseason expectations were high for the Tigers, but coach Gus Malzahn’s team is 2-1 and reeling from a blowout defeat at LSU last Saturday. Even though Auburn is 2-1, this team was a play or two away from losing to Jacksonville State and didn’t play particularly well in the opener against Louisville. Malzahn’s high-powered offense hasn’t performed up to its normal level, so the Tigers will make a quarterback change this Saturday. Jeremy Johnson was benched in favor of redshirt freshman Sean White.


Related: SEC Week 4 Predictions


For Mississippi State, the Bulldogs are quietly 2-1 but lost its SEC opener to LSU 21-19 on Sept. 12. Even though coach Dan Mullen’s team won 10 games last season, Mississippi State was picked by most to finish last in the SEC West. A win over Auburn would help the Bulldogs in their quest to contend in this division once again.


Auburn holds a 61-25-2 overall edge in the all-time series against Mississippi State. However, the Bulldogs won last year’s meeting 38-23 in Starkville.


Mississippi State at Auburn


Kickoff: 8:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ESPN2

Spread: Auburn -3


Three Things to Watch


1. Auburn QB Sean White

After Jeremy Johnson’s struggles against LSU, coach Gus Malzahn and coordinator Rhett Lashlee decided to make a change at quarterback. Johnson was hyped as a preseason Heisman contender, but the junior seems to be dealing with a lack of confidence and struggled with turnovers (six interceptions on 72 pass attempts). Will White provide a spark for this offense? The redshirt freshman has yet to take a snap in his college career but was regarded as a four-star prospect in the 2014 signing class. The priorities for White seem simple for his first start: Take care of the ball and produce a few big plays that have been missing from the offense so far. Mississippi State’s defense is limiting opponents to 4.9 yards per play through the first three games, and coordinator Manny Diaz could throw a lot at the redshirt freshman in his first start.


Related: Predictions for Every College Football Game in Week 4


2. Mississippi State QB Dak Prescott

While Auburn is breaking in a new quarterback, Mississippi State has one of the nation’s top passers on its side. Dak Prescott has started 23 games for the Bulldogs and earned first-team All-SEC honors last season. Even though some of the pieces around Prescott were a concern this preseason, having a senior quarterback can alleviate some of those issues. Auburn’s secondary has allowed only one play of 30 yards or more in 2015, but this defense has had its share of issues stopping mobile quarterbacks. Prescott is averaging eight carries a game, and the senior could push that total closer to 10 on Saturday night.


3. Turnovers and the Supporting Cast

Turnovers are always an important part of any game, but this area is of particular concern on Saturday night with Mississippi State and Auburn both ranked near the bottom of the SEC in turnover margin. Can the Tigers avoid the errors that have plagued this offense in 2015? And considering this is White’s first start for Auburn, Mississippi State cannot afford to give the redshirt freshman any easy opportunities for points. In addition to the turnover battle, the supporting cast for both quarterbacks should be a deciding factor in this game. Mississippi State has produced more big plays on offense so far this season and has a deeper group of skill players. Can Auburn get 100 yards from running back Peyton Barber? Is this the week receiver Duke Williams breaks out?


Final Analysis


This one could go either way. Is Auburn capable of getting its offense back on track with a quarterback change? If White struggles, is Jeremy Johnson ready to ignite the offense off the bench? On defense, the Tigers are going to miss standout end Carl Lawson for the third consecutive game. Mississippi State has a clear advantage at quarterback, and its defense has allowed only three plays of 30 yards or more so far this season. Not much separates these two teams, but the guess here is Auburn rallies behind White at home for a close win.


Prediction: Auburn 31, Mississippi State 27
Auburn Tigers vs. Mississippi State Bulldogs Preview and Prediction 2015
Post date: Friday, September 25, 2015 - 10:10
Path: /college-football/florida-gators-vs-tennessee-volunteers-preview-and-prediction-2015

Florida looks to continue its domination over Tennessee on Saturday, as the Gators and Volunteers meet in Gainesville for a critical September showdown in the SEC. The annual matchup between Tennessee and Florida has slipped in national and SEC importance in recent years, as both teams entered this game ranked just once in the last seven years. By comparison, every matchup from 1990-07 between these two teams featured both programs ranked in the Associated Press top 25.


Related: The Five Most Important Florida vs. Tennessee Games in History


This season’s matchup might not have the appeal of Georgia-Alabama or Alabama-LSU this year, but there’s no shortage of intrigue. Both programs are on the right track and could push the Bulldogs in the SEC East with a few breaks in 2015. Third-year Tennessee coach Butch Jones has recruited well, but the talent needs to start translating into wins in the SEC. The Volunteers are just 5-11 under Jones in conference matchups. Florida is a program in transition under new coach Jim McElwain, but the Gators are 3-0 and won their SEC opener against Kentucky last Saturday. 


Related: Predictions for Every College Football Game in Week 4


Florida owns a 25-19 series edge over Tennessee. The Gators also own a 12-5 record against the Volunteers in Gainesville.


Tennessee at Florida


Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: CBS

Spread: Tennessee -1.5


Three Things to Watch


1. Florida QB Will Grier

With Treon Harris suspended for Saturday’s game, Grier will take the full allotment of snaps against the Volunteers. The redshirt freshman has completed 39 of 57 passes for 442 yards and four scores this season but struggled against Kentucky (13 of 22 for 125 yards). Grier’s uneven performance against the Wildcats came on the road, but the young quarterback should play better in familiar surroundings this week. Grier could put some distance between himself and Harris on the depth chart with a big performance against Tennessee. And his case for an impact performance is certainly helped by the stat sheet on the Volunteers’ secondary. Through three games, Tennessee has allowed five touchdown passes and gave up 433 yards in the opener against Bowling Green. Protecting Grier will be a challenge for Florida’s offensive line, but the redshirt freshman quarterback has a huge opportunity ahead on Saturday.


Related: SEC Week 4 Predictions


2. Offensive Line Play

Both teams entered 2015 with question marks on the offensive line. So far, it’s fair to say those concerns and question marks still remain for both coaching staffs. Florida’s offensive line has surrendered five sacks, while the Volunteers have allowed six. Tennessee has fared better on the ground, as its rushers have averaged 4.7 yards per carry. The Gators have seven rushing scores so far, and its rushers are averaging 4.4 yards per carry. The edge in the defensive trenches is close, as both teams have arguably two of the top defensive lines in the SEC. Tennessee’s defensive front is led by sophomore end Derek Barnett, while Florida counters with Jonathan Bullard (three sacks in 2015) and Alex McCalister (4 TFL, 2 sacks). Which offensive line can protect its quarterback and generate a push on the ground will go a long ways in deciding the outcome of this matchup.


Related: 4 Keys for the Florida Gators to defeat the Tennessee Volunteers


3. Tennessee’s Passing Attack

Joshua Dobbs provided a spark for Tennessee’s offense in the second half of 2014, and the junior entered 2015 as one of the SEC’s top quarterbacks. But through three weeks, the Volunteers rank near the bottom of the conference in passing offense. It’s way too early to panic on Rocky Top, as Tennessee won by 29 against Bowling Green and didn’t need huge numbers against Western Carolina. However, this offense sputtered against Oklahoma, and Dobbs was only 13 of 31 for 125 yards. Florida’s secondary could be the best Tennessee faces in 2015, so this will be a huge barometer test for Dobbs and his receivers. The Gators’ secondary won’t have cornerback Jalen Tabor due to suspension, but this unit is anchored by All-American Vernon Hargreaves III. Big plays could be tough to come by for Dobbs and his receivers on Saturday afternoon.


Final Analysis


While this matchup may not have the national luster some of the previous meetings had in the 1990s and early 2000s, there’s plenty at stake for both teams. For Tennessee, this is an opportunity to prove the young talent is ready to go on the road and win in a tough environment. On the Florida sideline, this is a chance for McElwain to continue the Gators’ dominance (10 consecutive wins) over the Volunteers, as well as helping this program take a step forward after slipping under previous coach Will Muschamp. This one is tough to call, but give a slight edge to the Gators due to their defense.


Prediction: Florida 27, Tennessee 24
Florida Gators vs. Tennessee Volunteers Preview and Prediction 2015
Post date: Friday, September 25, 2015 - 10:05
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Path: /college-football/college-footballs-all-injured-team-2015

Injuries are an unfortunate part of every college football season. Whether it’s a small ailment affecting a key player for a couple of weeks or an injury keeping a player sidelined for the entire year, all injuries have an impact on the final win-loss record for all 128 teams.


2015 has especially been cruel for key players suffering major injuries. Likely All-Americans in Pittsburgh running back James Conner and UCLA linebacker Myles Jack suffered season-ending knee injuries, while two talented quarterbacks in Notre Dame’s Malik Zaire and BYU’s Taysom Hill were lost for the year after in-game injuries this season.


Considering all of the major injuries in 2015, Athlon Sports compiled the biggest and formed a team to highlight some of the top players on the sidelines. Only players that are lost for the year were considered for this list. 


College Football's 2015 All-Injury Team




QB Malik Zaire, Notre Dame/Taysom Hill, BYU

Notre Dame and BYU were the teams hit the hardest by injuries to the quarterback position so far in 2015. Zaire averaged 265.5 yards per game through the first two contests and shredded Texas for 313 yards through the air in the opener. Hill missed half of 2014 due to a leg injury and suffered a season-ending foot injury against Nebraska. Tanner Mangum has stepped up at quarterback for BYU in Hill’s absence.


Related: Predictions for Every College Football Game in Week 4


RB James Conner, Pittsburgh

Conner was the ACC’s player of the year last season after rushing for 1,765 yards and 26 scores. The Pennsylvania native was lost for the year due to a knee injury in the opener against Youngstown State.


RB Jonathan Williams, Arkansas

Arkansas’ rushing attack hasn’t been the same without Williams teaming with Alex Collins to lead the ground game. Williams rushed for 900 yards in 2013 and followed that up with 1,190 yards and 12 scores last season.


RB Leon Allen, WKU

Allen was one of the top running backs in the Group of 5 ranks after recording 1,542 yards and 13 scores last season. The senior suffered a significant knee injury in Week 2 this year and was ruled out for the remainder of 2015. Prior to the injury, Allen was averaging 5.1 yards per carry. Other top running backs out for the year: Thomas Tyner, Oregon, Tarean Folston, Notre Dame and Aaron Jones, UTEP.


WR Mike Dudek, Illinois

Dudek had a promising freshman season – 76 catches for 1,038 yards and six scores – but a torn ACL in spring practice is expected to sideline the sophomore for all of 2015. Dudek led all Big Ten pass catchers by averaging 89.5 receiving yards in Big Ten games last season.


WR Cameron Smith, Arizona State

Smith was Arizona State’s third-leading receiver last season (41 catches for 596 yards) and was slated for a bigger role with the departure of Jaelen Strong to the NFL. However, Smith suffered a season-ending knee injury in the spring.


Related: Pac-12 Week 4 Preview and Predictions


AP John Ross, Washington

Ross has played on both sides of the ball during his two years with the Huskies and is a valuable weapon on special teams. He’s out for 2015 due to a knee injury.


OL Jaryd Jones-Smith, Pittsburgh

Jones-Smith was penciled in as Pittsburgh’s starting right tackle but suffered a season-ending knee injury in July.


OL Jordan Budwig, FIU

Entered 2015 with 24 consecutive starts and was picked as a first-team All-Conference USA selection in July but is sidelined due to a shoulder injury.


OL Andrew Jelks, Vanderbilt

Jelks was expected to anchor Vanderbilt’s line in 2015 at left tackle. However, a leg injury will sideline the 2013 SEC All-Freshman team selection.

OL Jeromy Irwin, Colorado

Irwin was a key cog in Colorado’s offensive line, starting all 11 games for the Buffaloes in 2014 and playing in 10 games in 2012. He suffered a torn ACL in the win over UMass.


OL Marcus Jackson, Tennessee

Jackson suffered a biceps injury in August and is expected to be sidelined for all of 2015. After a redshirt year in 2013, Jackson started 12 games in 2014 and previously started five contests in 2011. 




DL Eddie Vanderdoes, UCLA

Vanderdoes is one of the Pac-12’s top defensive linemen, but a knee injury suffered in the opener against Virginia will keep the junior on the sidelines for the rest of 2015. Vanderdoes accumulated eight tackles against the Cavaliers and recorded 50 tackles and two sacks for UCLA’s defense in 2014.


DL Harold Brantley, Missouri

Brantley was poised for a huge season after recording 54 tackles (seven for a loss) in 14 games last season. The Pennsylvania native is out for 2015 due to injuries suffered in a car crash in late June.


Related: Grading the Panic Level for Every SEC Team at Quarterback After Week 3


DL Jarron Jones, Notre Dame

Jones was expected to hold a starting spot on the interior of Notre Dame’s line, but this unit has held up relatively well in his absence, limiting opponents to 3.8 yards per carry through three games. Jones started 11 games for the Fighting Irish last season and recorded 40 tackles (7.5 for a loss).


DL James McFarland, TCU

McFarland hasn’t been officially ruled out for the year, but all signs point to the senior sitting out 2015 due to a foot injury. The Louisiana native finished 2014 with 12 tackles for a loss, seven sacks and three forced fumbles. Other top defensive linemen out for the year: Issac Gross, Ole Miss, Harrison Phillips, Stanford, and Bryan Mone, Michigan.


LB Myles Jack, UCLA

UCLA’s defense suffered a huge setback after Jack was lost for the year in practice prior to Week 4. Jack ranked second on the team with 88 stops last season and was widely considered a first-team All-American for 2015.


LB Ed Davis, Michigan State

Michigan State’s linebacking corps suffered a huge blow in August when Davis was ruled out for the year due to a knee injury. The Detroit native was an underrated cog in the front seven for the Spartans after starting 12 games and recording 58 tackles (12 for a loss) and seven sacks in 2014.


LB Nyeem Wartman-White, Penn State

Wartman-White was slated to become the leader for Penn State’s linebacking corps, as the Philadelphia native was expected to take over for Mike Hull in the middle. Wartman-White started 12 games last season and recorded 75 tackles but was lost for the season with a leg injury in the opener against Temple.


DB Fabian Moreau, UCLA

There’s no question the Bruins will miss Moreau on a secondary that has limited opponents to just two passing scores through the first three games. The Florida native had 25 career starts prior to 2015 and recorded eight stops this season. Getting Ishmael Adams back from suspension helps to soften the blow from Moreau’s season-ending foot injury.


DB Vayante Copeland, Michigan State

Copeland was considered a rising star in Michigan State’s “No Fly Zone” and recorded seven tackles and one interception through the first two games. However, the redshirt freshman suffered a neck injury in the win over Oregon and is sidelined for the rest of the year.


DB Ranthony Texada, TCU

Gary Patterson’s acumen as a defensive mastermind will be put to the test this year, as TCU’s defense has been hit hard by injuries. Texada is just one of two key defensive backs – Kenny Iloka is the other – out for the year due to injuries for the Horned Frogs. Texada was considered a rising star prior to 2015 and recorded seven tackles and two pass breakups in three games.


DB Bryon Fields, Duke

Duke’s secondary might be one of the ACC’s most underrated position groups, but this unit suffered a setback in the preseason with Fields suffering a season-ending knee injury in August. The North Carolina native has played in 27 career games with the Blue Devils and recorded 112 tackles and one pick in that span.

College Football's All-Injured Team for 2015
Post date: Friday, September 25, 2015 - 10:00
All taxonomy terms: A.J. Green, Aaron Rodgers, Adrian Peterson, AFC East, AFC NFC, AFC North, AFC South, AFC West, Allen Robinson, Amari Cooper, Ameer Abdullah, Antonio Brown, Arian Foster, Arizona Cardinals, Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens, Ben Roethlisberger, Buffalo Bills, Calvin Johnson, Cam Newton, Carlos Hyde, Carolina Panthers, Carson Palmer, Chicago Bears, Chris Ivory, Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, Colin Kaepernick, Dallas Cowboys, DeMarco Murray, Demaryius Thomas, Denver Broncos, Detroit Lions, Devonta Freeman, Dez Bryant, Dion Lewis, Eddie Lacy, Emmanuel Sanders, Frank Gore, Giovani Bernard, Golden Tate, Green Bay Packers, Heath Miller, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, Jamal Charles, James Starks, Jarvis Landry, Jay Cutler, Jeremy Hill, Jonathan Stewart, Julien Edelman, Julio Jones, Justin Forsett, Kansas City Chiefs, Lamar Miller, Latavius Murray, Le'Veon Bell, Louis Rams, Mark Ingram, Marshawn Lynch, Matt Forte, Matthew Stafford, Miami Dolphins, Minnesota Vikings, New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints, New York Giants, New York Jets, NFC East, NFC North, NFC South, NFC West, Oakland Raiders, Odell Beckham Jr, Peyton Manning, Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Steelers, Rob Gronkowski, Russell Wilson, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Ryan Tannehill, Sammy Watkins, San Diego Chargers, San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks, St, T.J. Yeldon, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Teddy Bridgewater, Tennessee Titans, Tevin Coleman, Tom Brady, Travis Benjamin, Tyler Eifert, Tyrod Taylor, Washington Redskins, Fantasy
Path: /fantasy/10-bold-fantasy-predictions-week-3-nfl

Week 3 of this young NFL season is coming up, but first let’s take a look to see how my Week 2 bold predictions fared.


I just took a look. You don’t want to see my bold Week 2 predictions. Seriously, don’t look them up. No good can come from that.


Instead let’s focus on Week 3’s bold predictions and hope that I get better at making such brazen, off-the-wall predictions.


Positional Rankings: QB I RB I WR I TE I DST I K I Flex


1. Le’Veon Bell Reminds Everyone Why He’s the Best Running Back in the Business

After last week’s predictions debacle, I am going to start off with something that will make me look good next week. Bell finally hits the field this week for the Steelers. Not as if the Steelers really missed him, as his temporary replacement DeAngelo Williams was fantastic. Williams has amassed 40.4 fantasy points from 204 rushing yards and four touchdowns. This is the same Williams who was hurt last year in Carolina and when he did play, he looked like father time had caught up with him. Now Bell returns as the lead back in a high-octane Steelers attack. Luckily for Bell he opens his season against a struggling Rams defense that just allowed Redskins rookie Matt Jones to run for over 120 yards. Chalk Bell up for over 100 rushing yards, 50 receiving yards and at least one touchdown. You’ll be happy you drafted him so early in your draft.


2. LeGarrette Blount Scores More Fantasy Points Than Dion Lewis (in standard leagues)

Blount returned last week from his one-game suspension and did a whole lot of nothing, scoring 0.4 fantasy points. But it’s not as if fantasy owners needed him, or even the Patriots for that matter. This week against the Jaguars it will be a different story. It’s true that right now the Patriots' backfield is all about Dion Lewis, but in a game where the Patriots should jump out to a big lead, they are going to need a workhorse to keep moving the chains and the clock. Look for Blount to get 15-plus carries and a touchdown this week.


3. Devonta Freeman Scores 15-plus Fantasy Points This Week

Sometimes real football and fantasy football all come down to the same thing – opportunity. For Freeman, opportunity is knocking this weekend. His teammate, rookie running back Tevin Coleman, is out at least this week with a broken rib, which means Freeman now has a chance to show what he's capable of. Freeman does lack the size and speed to be a dominating back, and it doesn’t help that he seems to get overwhelmed between the tackles at times, but remember that he did get tons of red zone looks last week when Coleman went down. This week against the Cowboys it is possible that their stout defense might bottle him up as a runner, but Freeman is excellent as a receiver and is likely to catch five balls or so. Freeman should be able to get over 100 total yards and a touchdown this week.


4. Ryan Tannehill Finishes Week 3 as a Top-3 Fantasy QB

You might think this is crazy seeing that Tannehill is going up against one of the best defenses in all of football in the Bills, but believe it or not this pass D is ranked 31st in the NFL after two games, allowing 345.5 net passing yards per game, five TD passes, two interceptions and four sacks. You probably remember that Tom Brady bombed the Bills for 466 yards and three scores last week. Tannehill won’t throw for 400 yards, but a 300-yard passing game and three passing TDs isn’t out of the question, especially with running back Lamar Miller hobbling around. Don’t hesitate to start Tannehill this week.

Related: Why You Should Start Ryan Tannehill And Other QB Start/Sit Fantasy Advice for Week 3


5. C.J. Anderson Owners Take a Sigh Of Relief as He Finishes This Week With 100 Yards and a Touchdown

The Broncos' running game has been absolutely terrible thus far in 2015. Anderson and company are averaging a meager 1.48 yards before contact per run this season, that’s good for second worst in the NFL. It appears that the offensive line is focused more on keeping Peyton Manning upright and alive then creating running room. Luckily for the Broncos and Anderson owners they are matched up against a Lions rush D that is currently ranked 28th, giving up 147 yards per game, along with two rushing scores coughed up per contest. Last week, Adrian Peterson and the other Vikings running backs punished Detroit with 199 rushing yards and two scores. If there is ever going to be a week for Anderson to bounce back, this is it.


Related: Fantasy Football 2015 Patience or Panic — C.J. Anderson, Brandin Cooks, Justin Forsett, Andre Johnson


6. Crockett Gillmore Does it Again

Was that Gillmore or Todd Heap catching Joe Flacco touchdown passes and breaking tackles last weekend? It’s true that much like Tyler Eifert in Week 1, Gillmore’s huge day came against the Raiders, who seem unable to cover tight ends, but the most important thing is that Gillmore appears to be getting more and more looks from Flacco. This is huge on a team that has no real receiving threats (no, Steve Smith doesn’t count). Gillmore looks like a great candidate for 60-plus yards and a touchdown against the Bengals.


7. Blake Bortles Finishes Week 3 as a Top-10 Fantasy Quarterback

A lot of this prediction has to do with the fact that the Jaguars in all likelihood are going to be playing most of their game against the Patriots from behind. This will be an excellent opportunity for Bortles to air it our against a Patriots defense that doesn’t care about giving up garbage-time fantasy points. Last week Bortles and wide receiver Allen Robinson really got on the same page and you can expect their chemistry to continue this week.


8. Jordan Matthews Still Finishes as a Top-10 Fantasy WR Despite Darrelle Revis' Presence

The Eagles' offense (and the whole team) is a mess and this week it’s best to stay away from all the players that you would normally consider starting. All of them except Matthews. He is the only reason that the Eagles have been in the first two games. He is basically carrying the offense all by himself. The Jets did just stymie Andrew Luck and the Colts, but Donte Moncrief had a huge game (122 yards, TD), and Matthews can at least match that. Plus, news of Revis dealing with a groin injury that could put his playing status in doubt certainly doesn't hurt either.


9. Jimmy Graham Goes For Over 100 Yards and 2 Touchdowns

What’s that saying about the squeaky wheel? That’s right, and right now whether or not the report is true about Graham “hating his role in the Seahawks offense,” he definitely has the attention of head coach Pete Carrol and Russell Wilson. It also helps that Graham and the rest of the Seahawks are at home this week against a pathetic Bears defense. Look for Wilson to target for Graham early and often and almost all the time in the red zone.


10. The “Legion of Boom” Returns and Gets 5 Turnovers Against the Chicago Bears

Of course the Seahawks' defense that could have safety Kam Chancellor back is going to have a great game against a Bears team that is starting Jimmy Clausen at quarterback. But what really makes this prediction bold is that the Seahawks' D is going to force four interceptions and recover one fumble. Still not bold enough because they’re facing a backup QB? How about a pick-six to boot? That sounds just about right.


— Written by Michael Horvath, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Horvath is a Canadian who also happens to be a fantasy football (not to be confused with CFL) and fitness nut. Follow him on Twitter @realmikehorvath.

10 Bold Fantasy Predictions For Week 3 in the NFL
Post date: Friday, September 25, 2015 - 09:55
Path: /college-football/week-4-college-football-picks-against-spread

Things got ugly last weekend. But so did most of college football and that is what makes the sport so great. 


The SEC West and Pac-12 South both got flipped on their heads, Ohio State and the ACC struggled and the state of Texas was a spectacle.


After going 2-3, I am in big need a bounce back this weekend so I've included some stats below to help you all with your... entertainment this weekend. I'm going hard into the Big 12.


Last Week: 8-8

Year-to-date: 2-3


Maryland (+16.5) at West Virginia

This game has been really close the last two seasons and appears like a decent matchup at first glance. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Terps gave up 692 yards and 48 points to Bowling Green’s spread offense in a 21-point loss at home. West Virginia is better on offense and really good on D and is at home. Prediction: West Virginia -17


College Football Podcast: Week 4 Preview with Jill Savage

Subscribe: iTunes | Stitcher


TCU (-6.5) at Texas Tech

I really wanted to pick the upset after Texas Tech rolled over Arkansas last week and TCU is down to one leg and two arms on defense. But this line opened at 9.5 and has plummeted. Now that it’s under a touchdown, I’m all over Trevone Boykin and company. Tech still doesn’t play defense. Prediction: TCU -6.5


Oklahoma State (-3.5) at Texas

The Longhorns are rejuvenated with the emergence of Jerrod Heard at quarterback. They also smoked the Pokes last fall 28-7 in Stillwater. Oklahoma State is much better now than they were then but Texas will play them hard. And the hook helps too. Prediction: Texas +3.5


BYU (+4.5) at Michigan

Big Blue has some serious defense this year and BYU is coming off three brutally tough games — win or lose. Michigan is at home and has allowed 138 yards (Oregon State) and 235 yards (UNLV) in consecutive home drubbings. The Cougars are the ranked team but the Wolverines have Jim Harbaugh. Prediction: Michigan -4.5


Mississippi State (+2) at Auburn

Auburn is switching quarterbacks (to a snowboarder) but has to have some pride on the line this weekend at home. Gus Malzahn and Will Muschamp are too good not to be competitive and LSU is THAT much better than Mississippi State (despite the score two weeks ago). Prediction: Auburn -2


Northern Illinois (+4.5) at Boston College

The Huskies played Ohio State really well and Boston College was shutout last weekend so this line feels skewed. The Eagles play great defense and the Huskies probably took a lot of body blows last weekend. Prediction: Boston College -4.5


Georgia Southern (-16) at Idaho

The Vandals are 121st in total defense at 541.3 yards allowed per game in three contests, including a massive 8.68 yards per play allowed. The Eagles got star quarterback Kevin Ellison back from suspension and  last week and posted 484 yards and 7.1 per play on offense in a win over The Citadel. The Kibbie Dome isn’t ready. Prediction: Georgia Southern -16


RecordTeams ATS
3-0Air Force, BYU, Buffalo, MTSU, Ole Miss, NC State, Northwestern, Ohio, Rice, SMU, Southern Miss, Washington
2-0 UL Lafayette, Navy, Colorado St*, Texas Tech*
0-2Baylor, Boise St, Fresno St**, Kansas, New Mexico St** North Texas, UTEP**
0-3Akron, Arizona St, Auburn, UCF, Cincinnati, Michigan St, Mizzou, Old Dominion,  San Diego St,

* — 2-0-1
**  — 0-2-1 

Week 4 College Football Picks Against the Spread
Post date: Friday, September 25, 2015 - 09:53
All taxonomy terms: NFL, Fantasy
Path: /fantasy/why-you-should-start-miami-dolphins-dst-and-other-dst-k-startsit-fantasy-advice-week-3

No one likes agonizing over what defense or what kicker to start in their fantasy football lineup. The truth is that most of the time all we do is check to make sure that the defense or kicker we have on our roster isn’t on a bye that week and then forget about it.


So here are some DSTs and kickers to start and sit if you happen to be one of the brave who like to stream their defenses and kickers week-to-week.


Defense/Special Teams




Miami Dolphins (vs. BUF)

The Dolphins have an awesome pass rush led by Cameron Wake and Vernon Oliver, oh and they added some guy named Ndamukong Suh in the offseason. This week the Dolphins get to play against a quarterback in Tyrod Taylor who is only starting his third career game (even though he’s looked pretty good so far), but most importantly they get to go up against a Bills offensive line that allowed eight sacks last week to the Patriots. Wake and Oliver have to be licking their chops.


New York Jets (vs. PHI)

Believe in head coach Todd Bowles' system. The former Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator has the Jets' defense firing on all cylinders to start the 2015 season. They are a turnover machine that just made Andrew Luck and the supposedly high-powered Colts look like the Jaguars. This week the J-E-T-S matchup against an Eagles offense that is struggling and can’t get out of its own way. Start the Jets DST and enjoy the 10-plus fantasy points.




Dallas Cowboys (at ATL)

The Cowboys' defense was awesome last week against the Eagles, scoring an outstanding 17 fantasy points. That said this week Dallas goes up against the Falcons, who despite losing rookie running back Tevin Coleman, are firing on all cylinders and so far it seems impossible to stop the Matt Ryan to Julio Jones connection. So far defenses going up against the Falcons have averaged only three fantasy points, making the Cowboys' D a must sit.


St. Louis Rams (vs. PIT)

So far the Rams' defense has failed to live up to lofty expectations, both on the field and in fantasy circles. They were taken to school last week by Redskins rookie running back Matt Jones. This week St. Louis has a date with the Steelers, who just so happen to be welcoming Le’Veon Bell back into their lineup. The Rams will figure it out and be a solid D soon, but this is a tough matchup.






Steven Hauschka, SEA (vs. CHI)

So far this season Hauschka is the No. 9 kicker in terms of fantasy points. This week the Seahawks play the lowly Bears in their home opener. It's an appealing matchup that should provide all the Seahawks offensive studs, including Hauschka, plenty of opportunities to score points.


Matt Bryant, ATL (vs. DAL)

The Cowboys may take the bend-but-don't-break approach this week to try and slow down Matt Ryan and Julio Jones. If this is the case, that means a lot of scoring opportunities for Bryant, who is currently among the top 10 fantasy kickers.




Robbie Gould, CHI (at SEA)

Gould has been on fire to start the season, already scoring 26 fantasy points in his first two games, which has him tied for most fantasy points at his position. Unfortunately for Gould, things are trending downward this week as the Bears now have Jimmy Clausen lining up under center and are playing in Seattle this week.


Cody Parkey, PHI (vs. NYJ)

Last season Parkey was one of the best fantasy kickers, but he’s been less than impressive to start 2015. In fact, he’s currently the 26th-best fantasy kicker. Things don’t look like they are going to get any better for Parkey this week as the Jets have allowed only 2.5 fantasy points per game to opposing kickers.


— Written by Michael Horvath, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Horvath is a Canadian who also happens to be a fantasy football (not to be confused with CFL) and fitness nut. Follow him on Twitter @realmikehorvath.

Why You Should Start the Miami Dolphins DST and Other DST and K Start/Sit Fantasy Advice for Week 3
Post date: Friday, September 25, 2015 - 09:50
Path: /college-football/rice-owls-vs-baylor-bears-game-preview-and-prediction

There is no doubt that Baylor is ready to put all of the off-the-field stories behind it and get back to football. The Rice Owls will come into Waco with a 2-1 record and an offense that has shown a knack for being able to move the ball. A 14-point loss to Texas in Austin opened some eyes around the country.


Baylor will be looking to finish off its non-conference schedule undefeated before entering Big 12 play next week.


Rice at Baylor

Kickoff: 3 p.m. ET (Saturday)
TV Channel: Fox Sports Net
Spread: Baylor -34.5


Three Things to Watch


1. Rice Offense

This just in, Rice can move the ball. The Owls are averaging 522.3 total yards per game this season. That includes an offensive performance against Texas in which the Owls outgained the Longhorns 462-277. Rice’s balanced offensive attack has been a pleasant surprise for Owls fans this season. With 749 yards through the air and 818 on the ground Rice has been able to keep defenses off balance.


Baylor's defense will be the toughest Rice has faced yet this season and it will be interesting to see how well the Owls can maintain their offensive momentum against a Bears defense that is currently ranked 56th in the nation.


2. Baylor's Rushing Attack
The early-season statistics for the Bears' rushing attack are impressive. Coming into Saturday, Baylor leads the nation at 7.66 yards per attempt. What makes this even more impressive is this feat is being accomplished using multiple backs. Four different Baylor running backs have at least 14 carries this season. When talking about Baylor, the passing game usually dominates the conversation. And while that aspect of this offense is stellar, the running game should get some credit for what it has accomplished thus far too.


3. Can Baylor's Defense Improve?

While Baylor's defense is ranked among the upper half of FBS team (56th), don't lose sight of the fact that the opposition has been SMU and Lamar. Just like SMU, Rice has the ability to move the ball. If Baylor is going to avoid any slip ups in conference play this is the last game the Bears have to iron out any kinks before jumping into Big 12 action next week.


Although the Bears are only giving up an average of 26 points per game Rice is potentially the most potent offense Baylor will have faced yet. As weird as it sounds Rice may be the perfect test for the Bears.  

Final Analysis


While Rice will be able to move the ball, just like the Texas game, the score will probably not reflect the Owls' offensive success. Baylor has the ability to run away with games although these Bears have yet to live up to their full potential yet this season.


Much like Rice, the Bears' offense has been very balanced so far. The biggest difference in this game is that Baylor has the ability to finish drives whereas Rice has only managed to score on 85 percent (62nd nationally) of their trips into the red zone this season.


The score could be lower than many expect simply due to the fact that Rice may be able to run some clock by sustaining drives. But Baylor is just way too good for this game to be close.


Prediction: Baylor 60, Rice 24


— Written by Jeremy Simon, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and editor-in-chief of, a must visit for any and all West Virginia Mountaineer fans. Follow on Twitter @Blue_GoldSports.

Rice Owls vs. Baylor Bears Game Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, September 25, 2015 - 09:40
Path: /college-football/maryland-terrapins-vs-west-virginia-mountaineers-preview-and-prediction-2015

West Virginia will enter Saturday looking for a clean sweep of its non-conference schedule before entering Big 12 play the following week. Maryland is coming off a good win against South Florida but still trying to fully recover from a devastating loss to Bowling Green at home two weeks ago as the Terrapins prepares for their second season in the Big Ten.


There are never any guarantees when these two get together. There is a history between these two ranging from recruiting to blowouts to heartbreaking defeats. Many will argue this isn’t a rivalry — I beg to differ.


College Football Podcast: Week 4 Preview with Jill Savage

Subscribe: iTunes | Stitcher


Maryland at West Virginia


Kickoff: 3 p.m. ET (Saturday)
TV Channel: Fox Sports 1
Spread: West Virginia -17


Three Things to Watch


1. Special Teams Play

Maryland leads the nation in starting field position at 38.7 (meaning the Terrapins start their drives on average on their own 38-yard line). Much of that ranking can be attributed to Maryland kick returner William Likely. Likely is currently averaging 29 yards per kick return and just over 28 yards per punt return.


On the other side of the field the Mountaineers boast one of the best field goal kickers in the nation, Josh Lambert. Lambert is averaging 2.5 field goals per game which is ranked second in the nation. His range and accuracy has garnered him national attention. Anything within 55 yards is within his range, making him a dangerous threat which Maryland knows all too well.


Not to be outdone, Maryland kicker Brad Craddock has quickly made a name for himself at Maryland. Coming off a season where he made 18-of-19 field goals, including a game-winner against Penn State, Craddock is quickly becoming the face of Terrapins football.


Expect special teams to play a large role in this game. Whether or not it will be a determining factor in the outcome is yet to be determined but it would not be surprising.


2. Maryland's Secondary

While the Terps' secondary showed improvement against South Florida it revealed drastic weaknesses against Bowling Green two weeks ago. Despite having the most experienced unit on the team, Maryland’s secondary gave up 491 passing yards and six touchdowns against the Falcons.


The Mountaineers have always based their offensive schemes off the spread. Although Mountaineers head coach Dana Holgorsen has stated they have become a run first offense they are not scared to throw the ball. With threats like true freshman Jovon Durante and Shelton Gibson on the outlines the Terrapins may be in for a long day. The Mountaineers also boast the No. 1 team pass efficiency ranking in the nation.


3. It’s Still A Rivalry

Maryland and West Virginia have never been in the same conference. However, that has not stopped this annual game from becoming a rivalry. WVU head coach Dana Holgorsen still remembers what happened to the Mountaineers two years ago in Baltimore when the Terrapins embarrassed them to the tune of 37-0. He calls it one of the worst losses he has experienced as a coach.


Likewise Maryland definitely remembers losing to the Mountaineers at home last season 40-37 on a 47-yard field goal as time expired.


This will be the last meeting between the two schools until 2020. West Virginia leads the all-time record against the Terrapins 27-22-2.

Final Analysis


Special teams may very well play an important role in Morgantown this Saturday. The Terrapins have not played in Morgantown since 2012 and Mountaineer fans can’t wait for their return. The Mountaineers should be able to take advantage of the Maryland secondary just like the Terrapins should be able to take advantage of the Mountaineers' kickoff coverage. West Virginia will be able to score through the air and if they are able to finish strong in the red zone the Terrapins may be in for a long day.


Maryland will have to scratch to get into scoring position against a Mountaineer defense that doesn’t bend. Maryland’s best chance at sustaining drives will be on the ground as keeping the ball away from the Mountaineers' secondary will be a must.


Prediction: West Virginia 34, Maryland 17


— Written by Jeremy Simon, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and editor-in-chief of, a must visit for any and all West Virginia Mountaineer fans. Follow on Twitter @Blue_GoldSports.

Maryland Terrapins vs. West Virginia Mountaineers Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, September 25, 2015 - 09:35
Path: /college-football/northern-illinois-huskies-vs-boston-college-eagles-preview-and-prediction-2015

Being in the national spotlight is nothing new for Northern Illinois. The Huskies have been to seven straight bowl games including an Orange Bowl appearance following the 2012 season. They have won at least ten games five years in a row. From Jerry Kill to Dave Doeren to Rod Carey, the program has thrived.


Even with all of their success, last Saturday was very nearly the crowning moment. The Huskies were leading No. 1 Ohio State midway through the second quarter and were tied at halftime. Down 20-13, NIU had two opportunities late in the game to tie the score. But the Buckeyes held on and Northern Illinois had to be content with a noble effort.


The Huskies get another opportunity at a Power 5 team this week when they head to Boston College to face the Eagles. BC is coming off its own tough battle, losing to Florida State 14-0 and seeing quarterback Darius Wade break his ankle. 


Northern Illinois at Boston College


Kickoff: 1 p.m. ET (Saturday)

TV Channel: ESPN3

Spread: Boston College  -4


Three Things to Watch


1. Boston College Quarterback Situation

Both Jeff Smith and Troy Flutie saw action against Florida State after Wade went down. Head coach Steve Addazio said that the two would compete in practice this week for the starting position and that both may play on Saturday. The freshman Smith is more equipped to operate the read option game while the redshirt freshman Flutie is a better passer and has mobility. Neither was very effective against FSU but BC didn’t move the ball well with Wade in the game either.  


2. Protecting Drew Hare

The NIU quarterback put up big numbers the first two weeks with much of his production coming to wide receiver Kenny Golladay. But the Huskies have had some issues protecting Hare through the first three games. It’s understandable that Ohio State would pressure the Huskies quarterback, but UNLV sacked him three times in the season opener. Boston College is sixth in the nation with 11 sacks and they will be a formidable challenge for the Huskies offensive line.


3. Mental State of Both Teams

Northern Illinois and Boston College both have some mental hurdles that they have to clear this week. Northern Illinois is coming off that emotional loss and now they have to hit the road once again to play a major conference foe. Boston College also had a hard-fought loss to a highly ranked conference rival and they have to adjust to a new quarterback. The team that is able to regain their focus will have a decided advantage.


Final Analysis


Boston College has no choice but to try and run the ball a lot this week. Their quarterbacks are very young and their receivers are not great. Whether it is by using Smith in the zone read or giving the ball to Jon Hilliman, BC will try to move the ball on the ground. Northern Illinois would love a balanced attack, but they will find it tough to run on an Eagles defense that was effective in limiting Dalvin Cook last Friday night. Hare will throw and hope that he gets protection. BC has a very good defense and an inept offense which means this should be a low scoring game. Northern Illinois played Ohio State tough, but they also struggled with UNLV in week one. Boston College will get by at home.


Prediction: Boston College 13, Northern Illinois 10


— Written by Jon Kinne, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a college football fanatic. Kinne has been writing about recruiting for the Irish Sports Daily for 10 years. Follow him on Twitter @JonRKinne.

Northern Illinois Huskies vs. Boston College Eagles Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, September 25, 2015 - 09:30
All taxonomy terms: Arkansas Razorbacks, College Football, SEC
Path: /college-football/arkansas-defense-braces-high-octane-texas-am-offense

The start of the 2015 season for Arkansas and Texas A&M could not have started out any differently with both teams hurdling in opposite directions. The Hogs were preseason No. 18 in the AP poll while Texas A&M was unranked. After a 3-0 start that included a 38-17 opening win over then-No. 15 Arizona State, the Aggies are the No. 14 team in the nation. Arkansas has lost back-to-back, close non-conference games to Toledo (16-12) and Texas Tech (35-24) falling from SEC West contender to a bowl invite hopeful.


When the two teams meet on Saturday at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, some familiar threads from a year ago will be at play.


Related: Texas A&M Aggies vs. Arkansas Razorbacks Preview and Prediction


In 2014 A&M rolled into Arlington as the No. 6 team in the nation with a 4-0 record. Arkansas was 3-1 but a heavy underdog. The Razorbacks defied the odds, building a 28-14 lead before their secondary gave up an 86-yard Kenny Hill-to-Edward Pope touchdown pass and Josh Reynolds hit pay dirt on a 59-yard Hill connection. In overtime Hill found Malcome Kennedy on a 25-yard pass play on the opening series, as the Aggies won 35-28.


Hill lit up the Razorbacks defense, completing 21-of-41 passes for 386 yards and four touchdowns with just one interception. The Razorbacks stayed in the game by controlling the clock, rushing for 285 yards. Alex Collins splintered A&M defense for 131 yards on 21 carries with one touchdown, while the now-injured Jonathan Williams had 18 carries for 95 yards with another score.


A&M would finish the season with the No. 26 scoring offense in the nation, averaging 35 points per contest and the No. 12 passing offense, netting an average of 306 per outing.


College Football Podcast: Week 4 Preview with Jill Savage

Subscribe: iTunes | Stitcher


As time goes by some things change and some do not. Hill is no longer under center for Texas A&M but Kyle Allen has picked up the torch continuing to burn opposing college football defenses. Allen is completing 61 percent of his passes, tallying 594 yards in the air with nine touchdowns against two picks. Backup true freshman quarterback Kyler Murray has completed 15-of-27 passes in limited action coming up with another 146 yards a score and a pick.


What Arkansas, and every other team on A&M’s schedule in 2015, must brace for is arguably the best receiving unit in the nation on the outside and in the slot. Junior receiver Josh Reynolds is continuing his assault on A&M’s record book picking up three scores in three games after setting the school single-season receiving touchdown record a year ago with 13. Ricky Seals-Jones has nine receptions in three games for 83 yards and Speedy Noil has six receptions for 68 yards and a score.


Two 2015 recruits have contributed right from the start for A&M, Damion Ratley and Christian Kirk. Ratley, a rangy (6-2) target, has seven receptions for 93 yards, proving to be a valuable addition to the team. Perhaps the most impressive freshman out of the 2015 recruiting class in the entire nation thus far in the season has been Kirk. Kirk has 16 grabs for 269 yards with two scores. He also has been explosive in the return game, highlighted by a 79-yard punt return for a touchdown and an impressive 37 yards per return average on his four attempts.


Can the Hogs stop this elite unit?

In Week 3 against Texas Tech, the Hogs were picked apart by Patrick Mahomes. Mahomes completed 26-of-30 passes for 243 yards with one score, and the silver lining of hope for Razorback Nation, two picks.


The Air Raid offense is known for dinking and dunking all the way up the field but the Red Raiders had an explosive 72-yard touchdown pass on a trick play in the second quarter when Jakeem Grant hit Reginald Davis on a run-pass option. Tech did have four other receivers bring down passes of 16 yards or longer.


Arkansas' pass defense did succeed in one respect, as the 315 passing yards allowed to Tech was well below the Red Raiders’ per game average, which is now at 399 per contest. A&M averages 261 yards passing per game while Arkansas is giving up 233 per contest. Can the Hogs hold another high-octane offense well below its typical aerial production?


Arkansas’ secondary is young with only one senior in the two-deep, starting safety Rohan Gaines. The secondary is a good unit but gets very little help up front from the defensive line. While A&M leads the nation with 15 sacks in three games, Arkansas is tied with Tulane, Western Michigan, Illinois and San Jose State for dead last in FBS with just one sack in three games.


If the Razorbacks seek to put pressure on Allen in the pocket a change in coordinator Robb Smith’s defense is forth coming. A mix of blitzing a linebacker, a safety, or a cornerback should be coming, which means big-play potential for the Aggies if Allen can read the defense quickly picking up the hot route.


Arkansas still has enough talent on the roster to give A&M troubles. The opening betting line went out A&M -3 but bettors quickly bumped up the line to -7. With all of the Razorbacks’ woes, to only be an opening -3 point underdog is interesting. Someone in Vegas must know something the rest of us are missing!


The old Southwest Conference rivals kick off Saturday at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN. 


— Written by Ryan Wright, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and an established media professional with more than two decades' worth of experience. Over the years, Wright has written for numerous sites and publications and he recently started his own recruiting site, Follow him on Twitter @HogManInLA.

Arkansas Defense Braces for High-Octane Texas A&M Offense
Post date: Friday, September 25, 2015 - 09:25
Path: /college-football/texas-am-aggies-vs-arkansas-razorbacks-preview-and-prediction-2015

Arkansas and Texas A&M enter Saturday night’s neutral site matchup in Arlington, Texas as two programs seemingly headed in opposite directions this season. While both were projected as top 25 teams by most outlets this preseason, the Razorbacks are 1-2 and the Aggies are 3-0 after three weeks.


Texas A&M started its season with a marquee win over Arizona State in non-conference play in Houston and followed the opening weekend victory with one-sided affairs against Ball State and Nevada. Arkansas opened its season with a dominant performance against UTEP, but the Razorbacks lost by four to Toledo and by 11 to Texas Tech. Luck has not been on Arkansas’ side in the injury department this season, as running back Jonathan Williams was lost for the year with a foot injury, and receivers Keon Hatcher and Jared Cornelius are sidelined indefinitely due to ailments.


Arkansas owns a 41-27-3 all-time edge over Texas A&M, but the Aggies have claimed the last three (and only meetings as SEC foes) in this series. The Aggies won by 48 in their first meeting against the Razorbacks as SEC opponents (2012), but Arkansas has cut that margin to 12 in 2013 and by seven in 2014.


Texas A&M vs. Arkansas (at Arlington, Texas)


Kickoff: Saturday, 7 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ESPN

Spread: Texas A&M -7


Three Things to Watch


1. The Battle in the Trenches

This game features one of the nation’s top offensive lines (Arkansas) versus one of the nation’s most talented defensive lines (Texas A&M). Through three games, the Razorbacks have yet to allow a sack on 94 pass attempts and are paving the way for rushers to average 4.8 yards per carry. The Aggies’ defensive line has thrived under new coordinator John Chavis, leading the nation with 15 sacks and limiting opponents to 3.9 yards per carry. Something has to give here. Arkansas’ line is anchored by standout left tackle Denver Kirkland, and it’s a safe bet the junior will spend some time blocking sophomore Myles Garrett (6.5 TFL, 5.5 sacks). The Razorbacks have been throwing more under new coordinator Dan Enos and senior quarterback Brandon Allen, but the receiving corps was hit by injuries recently to Keon Hatcher and Jared Cornelius. If the Razorbacks protect Allen, there should be plays available against the Texas A&M secondary. And it’s critical for the Aggies to slow running back Alex Collins to force Arkansas into third-and-long situations.


On the other side of the battle, keep an eye on the Arkansas’ defensive front against the Texas A&M offensive line. The Razorbacks have generated only one sack but are going against an Aggie front that has allowed 10 sacks through three games.


2. Tempo/Style of Play

Through three games, Texas A&M has a 234 to 202 edge in offensive plays. That’s not a huge difference, but these teams have a different approach on offense. Arkansas is methodical behind a powerful offensive line and rushing attack, while Texas A&M prefers to push the tempo and utilize its deep receiving corps and quarterback Kyle Allen to stretch the defense. Which style will win out on Saturday night? Can the Razorbacks establish the run and control the clock? The Aggies would prefer to jump out to an early lead and force Arkansas to take to the air to win. Considering the Razorbacks injuries in the receiving corps, Bielema’s team does not want to get into a shootout.


Related: Arkansas Defense Braces for High-Octane Texas A&M Offense


3. Red Zone Performance

One of the main factors in Arkansas’ 1-2 start is its performance in the red zone. The Razorbacks converted just 64.3 percent of their opportunities inside of the red zone for scores, which ranks 13th in the SEC. Against a high-scoring team like Texas A&M, Arkansas has to take advantage of all of its opportunities. Simply, when the Razorbacks get into the red zone, they need touchdowns – not field goals. The Aggies’ red zone defense has struggled, giving up scores on 11 of 13 drives inside of the 20. However, those stats could be skewed, as Nevada scored 17 points in the second half with the outcome no longer in doubt, while Ball State scored 20 in the final two quarters (in a 56-23 win). If Texas A&M limits Arkansas to three points on red zone trips, that’s a win for Chavis and this defense.


Final Analysis


After back-to-back losses, a victory in this game would help Arkansas right the ship and turn the momentum around for SEC play. However, the path to a victory for the Razorbacks in this neutral site affair is challenging. The rushing attack isn’t as potent as it was last season, and the offense is without two key receivers. Quarterback Brandon Allen should target tight end Hunter Henry frequently on Saturday night. But even if Arkansas performs better on offense, the Texas A&M defense has improved, and the offense is just as explosive (if not better) as it was in 2014. Expect quarterback Kyle Allen and a deep receiving corps to challenge an Arkansas secondary that has allowed only three passing scores so far. The Razorbacks will fight, but the Aggies have too much on both sides of the ball.


Prediction: Texas A&M 34, Arkansas 24
Texas A&M Aggies vs. Arkansas Razorbacks Preview and Prediction 2015
Post date: Friday, September 25, 2015 - 09:20
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Ole Miss Rebels, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/vanderbilt-commodores-vs-ole-miss-rebels-preview-and-prediction-2015

The Ole Miss Rebels are riding high following a 43-37 victory over Alabama in Tuscaloosa last week. Following that victory, Ole Miss made a huge jump in the polls – all the way from No. 15 to No. 3 in the AP Top 25 – and now has the inside track in the SEC West. However, the Rebels must face an improved Vanderbilt team Saturday in Oxford.


Vanderbilt at Ole Miss

Kickoff: 7:00 p.m. ET (Saturday)
TV Channel: ESPNU
Spread: Ole Miss -25


Three Things to Watch


1. Will There Be a Hangover Effect for Ole Miss?

Ole Miss has been arguably the most dominant team in the nation through the first three weeks of the 2015 season. The Rebels lead the nation in scoring offense (64.0 points per game), and have scored 43 points or more in three consecutive contests for the first time in school history. They also beat Alabama on the road for the first time since 1988, giving Ole Miss two straight wins over the Crimson Tide for the first time ever.


With so many people slapping the Rebels on the back following the strong start to the season – and especially following last week’s big win in Tuscaloosa – is Ole Miss susceptible to the hangover effect this week against Vanderbilt? The Commodores may only be 1-2 this season, but have been playing much better under second-year head coach Derek Mason, and are coming off an impressive 47-7 victory over Austin Peay.


2. Can Vanderbilt Slow Down the Ole Miss Offense?
After suffering through an embarrassing 3-9 season in his head coaching debut, which included a 0-8 record against SEC opponents, Mason decided to take over defensive play-calling duties for the Commodores in 2015. The change has had an immediate impact.


Vandy ranked dead last in the SEC and No. 104 in the nation in scoring defense in 2014 (33.3 points per game), and allowed more than 400 total yards per contest last year. Through three games this season, the Commodores have cut those numbers to 17.3 points per game (No. 5 in the SEC) and 270.7 yards on average (No. 3 in the SEC). And it’s not simply the product of a soft schedule – Vanderbilt held an explosive Western Kentucky offense to 14 points and 246 yards in a 14-12 season opening loss, and of the 31 points Georgia scored in Week 2, 14 came as the result of defensive and special teams touchdowns.


Ole Miss has been incredible on offense this season, but the Vanderbilt defense has made huge strides in 2015, and could be pose a tougher challenge than most expect.


3. How Will the Rebels Respond to Tony Conner’s Injury?
Despite the explosiveness of the Ole Miss offense this season, the Rebels are still led in large part by a talented, fast, and opportunistic Land Shark defense. Last week against Alabama, the Rebels forced three turnovers on defense (and two more on special teams), and now have created 10 turnovers this season, which ranks first in the SEC and is tied for the most nationally. Safety Trae Elston has intercepted one pass in each game this season, and returned two of them for touchdowns.


Unfortunately, Ole Miss will be without preseason All-American and All-SEC performer Tony Conner, who suffered a torn meniscus in his right knee against the Crimson Tide and is expected to miss at least four weeks. Conner recorded six tackles, including one for a loss, last week and had 10 tackles through the first three weeks of the season.

With Conner out, the Rebels are likely to rely on backup A.J. Moore at the Huskie (hybrid linebacker/safety) position, though others could factor in as well. Rover Mike Hilton has started five games at Huskie in his career.


Final Analysis


We’ve gotten this far, and have yet to even mention the two stars of the show for Ole Miss. That should tell you how much of an edge the Rebels have coming into this matchup.


Quarterback Chad Kelly has been brilliant through the first three games this year, having completed 47 of 73 passes (64.4 percent) for 898 yards and nine touchdowns with just one interception, and he has spread the ball around to playmakers Cody Core (12 receptions, 299 yards, three touchdowns), Quincy Adeboyejo (10 catches, 224 yards, 5 TDs) and Laquon Treadwell (14 receptions, 197 yards, 1 TD). On the other side of the ball, Robert Nkemdiche was named SEC Defensive Player of the Week for his performance against the Crimson Tide, which included six tackles, 2.5 tackles for a loss and half a sack.


With Kelly and Nkemdiche leading the way, the Rebels should roll to an easy victory Saturday.


Prediction: Ole Miss 35, Vanderbilt 10


— Written by Nicholas Ian Allen, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Allen's work on college football can also be found on and Follow him on Twitter @NicholasIAllen.

Vanderbilt Commodores vs. Ole Miss Rebels Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, September 25, 2015 - 09:15
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy
Path: /fantasy/college-fantasy-football-week-4-value-plays

The college fantasy football season is in full swing and Athlon has teamed up with college fantasy veterans to help you dominate in 2015!


Whether you play daily or season-long college fantasy football, (@CFFGeek) prepares you to win with the best advice, tools and customer service in the industry — they've been doing it since 2008. Click here to learn how you can subscribe to CFG for FREE.


DraftKings has released their Daily Fantasy college football salaries for the week, and the experts at have hunkered down and scoured all of the data to find the best Value Plays on the docket. These are the guys poised to out-produce their DraftKings salaries this week.


Below, you will find contributor and CFG writer Todd DeVries' top picks for the early Saturday games. To see the full in-depth article, be sure to check out






Driphus Jackson, Rice QB ($5600) vs. Baylor:
Jackson threw for 373 yards and three scores last week against North Texas and could approach similar numbers against Baylor. The Owls will likely find themselves playing from behind and Jackson could be forced to throw the ball early and often. The Baylor defense has shown a propensity for giving up plenty of big plays and could yield plenty of them to Jackson this week. Rice could easily exceed value and be a good choice for the No. 2 QB on DK.  


Wendell Smallwood, West Virginia RB ($4900) vs. Maryland:

Smallwood has 184 yards and three rushing touchdowns in two games and appears to have seized control of the Mountaineers' backfield. He could go bananas against a Maryland defense that is anything but stout. The price tag for Smallwood is very enticing and he could easily put up numbers of an $8,000 RB this week. Look for this Mountaineer to go over 100 yards rushing and add a score or two against the Terrapins.


Vic Enwere, Cal RB ($4500) vs. Washington:

Enwere had 73 yards and two rushing touchdowns last week as he filled in for injured starter Daniel Lasco. The status of Lasco is in question this week and Enwere could be worth a look if Lasco is unable to play. Monitor this situation and if Lasco is a no go, plug Enwere into a few lineups at minimum price.




Jovon Durante & Shelton Gibson, WR West Virginia ($3900 & $4400) vs. Maryland:

Durante and Gibson have both scored twice in the first two game for West Virginia and appear to be the top receiving options. They could both have big games this week against a marshmallow soft Maryland pass defense that ranks 97th in the nation. Look for both playmakers to find the end zone once again and both appear to be outstanding punt options this week. Don’t be afraid to take a shot with one or both of these Mountaineer wideouts.


Dennis Parks, Rice WR ($4800) vs. Baylor:

Parks had eight receptions for 163 yards and two scores last week against North Texas and appears to be the top option in the Rice passing attack. He could see a ton of targets in this game as Rice may be playing from behind and throwing often against Baylor. Look for Parks to crush his value this week and provide great salary relief at minimum price. He could easily top the 100-yard mark for the second week in a row and be a truly sneaky play this week.


Isaiah Jones, ECU WR ($5000) vs. Virginia Tech:

Jones is a PPR machine and could have plenty of grabs against Virginia Tech in a potentially high-scoring game. He has 24 receptions for 265 yards over the past two games against Florida and Navy. Expect Jones to see a ton of targets against the Hokies and he could be the best dollar per point player in this slate of games. This Pirate appears to be criminally underpriced this week and DFS players should look to take advantage of the pricing snafu. 





Fredi Knighten, Arkansas State QB ($6900) vs. Toledo:

Knighten is a dual-threat guy that exploded on the scene in 2014 with over 4,000 total yards and 35 total touchdowns. He has struggled in the early part of 2015 and is returning from a groin injury. This could be the game that kick starts his season and produces a ton of fantasy points. There could be plenty of points scored in this game and look for Knighten to be heavily involved in all the fantasy fun. Look for Knighten to rack up at least 300 total yards and add a few total touchdowns against the Rockets.



Justin Jackson, Northwestern RB ($6700) vs. Ball State:

Jackson has gone over 100 yards rushing in two of three games this season, but has only crossed the goal line once. Expect that touchdown number to go up by a couple this week against Ball State. Jackson is a DFS stud and his price is simply too low considering his volume of carries and weak opponent. This Wildcat should be a staple in both cash and GPP lineups this week on DraftKings. Don’t miss out on the gift that DK is giving players this week in Jackson.


Dare Ogunbowale, Wisconsin RB ($4700) vs. Hawaii

With Corey Clement already ruled out for this game and then some due (4-6 weeks) to sports hernia surgery, Ogunbowale could be in line for a strong fantasy outing. He has scored in each of the last two games with Clement out of action and is averaging 17.7 FD points over that span. This game with Hawaii could be just what the doctor ordered to fix the Badgers' running game, so look for Ogunbowale to see plenty of opportunities for success. A third straight game with a rushing touchdown seems likely for this Badger against an overmatched Hawaii rush defense. Look for Ogunbowale to easily exceed his price tag this week.




Drew Morgan, Arkansas WR ($4400) vs. Texas A&M

The wide receiver position at Arkansas is a mash unit with multiple starters out with injuries. Morgan scored last week against Toledo and could see a bunch of targets this week against Texas A&M. There could be a lot of points scored in this game and Morgan could post a solid stat line against the Aggies. It would not be a big surprise to see Morgan find the end zone this week and easily reach value. 


Quincy Adeboyejo, Ole Miss WR ($5300) vs. Vanderbilt

Adeboyejo is on a scoring tear to start the season, with five receiving touchdowns in the first three games. He is a big play waiting to happen as evidenced by his 22.4 yards per reception in 2015. He could have a big night against a Vanderbilt defense that could have a tough time containing the Ole Miss passing game. Look for this Rebel to find the end zone at least once against the Commodores this week and easily reach value.


— Written by Todd DeVries, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. A pioneer of online college fantasy football strategy and advice, DeVries is the founder of and founder and Director of Writer Development for Football Nation. Follow him on Twitter @CFFGeek.

College Fantasy Football Week 4 Value Plays
Post date: Friday, September 25, 2015 - 09:10
Path: /college-football/delaware-blue-hens-vs-north-carolina-tar-heels-preview-and-prediction-2015

North Carolina put all three phases of the game together on Saturday and blew out Illinois 48-14. It was exactly what the Tar Heels needed in order to put the season-opening loss to South Carolina in the rear-view mirror.


The Heels now face their second FCS opponent of the year when Delaware heads to Chapel Hill. The Blue Hens have a rich football history but the last few years have not been up to their usual standards. Delaware has not finished better than fifth in the Colonial since winning the league in 2010. They are off to a 1-2 start following a 28-21 loss this past weekend to Villanova.


This will be the first meeting between UNC and Delaware.


Delaware at North Carolina


Kickoff: 12:30 p.m. ET (Saturday)

TV Channel: RSN/ESPN3

Spread: N/A


Three Things to Watch


1. Improving the UNC Run Defense

Gene Chizik has done wonders so far with the North Carolina defense. A unit that was No. 117 in total defense last season is No. 57 through three weeks and they have played two Power Five opponents. But the run defense still lags behind, ranking No. 105. Illinois ran for 227 yards and South Carolina had 254 on the ground. Delaware doesn't throw well, but they have a strong rushing game and that is how they will attack the Heels. Carolina has a good opportunity to shore things up before conference play begins with Georgia Tech and their triple option next Saturday.


2. Keep Marquise Williams Rolling

After the early interception, Williams torched Illinois with both his arm and his legs. Head coach Larry Fedora would like to see his senior quarterback continue the rhythm that he developed as the Illinois game progressed. It is unlikely that Williams carries the ball as often as he did last Saturday and ideally the Heels get up enough that back up Mitch Trubisky receives a lot of snaps. But Marquise needs to leave the Delaware game feeling as confident as he does entering the game.


3. A Dominant North Carolina Offensive Line

Just like Williams, the offensive line had a great performance on Saturday. Many questioned this group coming into the season and not many fears were alleviated after week one. But Illinois has a solid front seven and North Carolina owned the line of scrimmage. The Heels ran for 254 yards and both Elijah Hood and Williams topped the century mark. UNC should push the undermanned Hens all over the field.


Final Analysis


The Tar Heels may have found themselves last Saturday. No one considers Illinois a playoff contender, but they are a team that went to a bowl game last year out of the Big Ten. With Georgia Tech on the horizon, UNC could be looking past Delaware. However, North Carolina got a wakeup call against the Gamecocks and Delaware simply can’t match up physically with the Heels. Chizik will have his group ready for the Hens and the offense will score at will. Heels roll.


Prediction: North Carolina 52, Delaware 7


— Written by Jon Kinne, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a college football fanatic. Kinne has been writing about recruiting for the Irish Sports Daily for 10 years. Follow him on Twitter @JonRKinne.

Delaware Blue Hens vs. North Carolina Tar Heels Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, September 25, 2015 - 09:10
Path: /college-football/lsu-tigers-vs-syracuse-orange-preview-and-prediction-2015

A matchup of Power 5 Conference will be on display on Saturday when LSU (2-0) travels to upstate New York to face Syracuse (3-0) grabbing SEC vs. ACC headlines.


The reality of the matchup is a blue blood in LSU with national title hopes taking on a Syracuse team trying to rebound from a 3-9 season a year ago. To make matters worse for the Orange, looks like they will be without another starting quarterback against the Tigers.


LSU has rolled to a 2-0 record with wins over Mississippi State and Auburn missing out on a third potential victory when the opening week McNeese State game was called due to inclement weather. Syracuse has a 3-0 record looking to go 4-0 on the season for the first time since 1991. The Orange’s undefeated path thus far has been slightly different with wins over Rhode Island (47-0), Wake Forest (30-17), and Central Michigan (30-27).


College Football Podcast: Week 4 Preview with Jill Savage

Subscribe: iTunes | Stitcher


The Tigers have the nation’s No. 5-ranked rushing attack averaging 339 yards per game behind potential Heisman Trophy candidate Leonard Fournette. Fournette is a game behind his peers in the race for total rushing yards, but leads the nation with an average of 193.5 yards per game with six touchdowns on the ground.


Syracuse also relies heavily on their ground game, coming in with the nation’s No. 45 rushing attack averaging 209 yards per game.


Both teams have stout defenses to this point in the season and both have large questions marks under center going forward.


LSU at Syracuse


Kickoff: 12 p.m. ET

Coverage: ESPN

Line: LSU -24.5


Three Things to Watch For


1. Syracuse’s rush defense against Leonard Fournette

Leonard Fournette has ripped apart two SEC defenses getting 159 yards against Mississippi State and set a career high in Week 3 with 228 yards against Auburn. In both contests Fournette has found the end zone three times.


Syracuse has been one of the nation’s best run defenses with coordinator Chuck Bullough molding his unit into the No. 3 squad. The Orange are only allowing 46.7 yards per game, but that stat line will be put to a serious test against LSU.


Orange sophomore linebacker Zaire Franklin has set the tone stopping the run coming up with 21 tackles to lead the team. Fellow sophomores, linebacker Parris Bennett, 18 tackles, and safety Rodney Williams, 12 tackles, have been extremely active. Sophomore cornerback Antwan Cordy has been tested in the run game and has responded with 12 tackles and 4.5 tackles for a loss.


The group will have to be on high alert stopping Fournette, a running quarterback in Brandon Harris, and backup running backs Darrel Williams and Derrius Guice.


2. Syracuse must keep a quarterback healthy for an entire game

The “next man up” motto is being put to good use under center for Syracuse. Season opening starting quarterback Terrel Hunt is out for the season after an Achilles tendon tear and now last week’s starter Eric Dungey is likely out with concussion-like symptoms. Enter sophomore quarterback Austin Wilson, a former walk-on.


Wilson has completed 4-of-8 passes for 49 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Tough time to make his first start against the nation’s No. 36 defense only allowing 319 yards a game.


In Syracuse’s overtime win against Central Michigan, Zack Mahoney made the play that kept the Orange in the game, a 13-yard third down pass to tight end Kendall Moore. Offensive coordinator Tim Lester may have no choice but to rotate both quarterbacks in and out of the lineup against LSU.


3. How will the Orange create offense against LSU’s defense?

As mentioned, LSU has the nation’s No. 35 defense. One of the things Syracuse does well — run the ball — LSU does well at stopping. The Tigers are No. 22 in the nation at stopping the run allowing 102 yards per contest. Syracuse has averaged 209 yards per game on the ground spreading out carries to Jordan Fredericks, George Morris, and Jacob Hill. Fredericks, a true freshman, is leading the team with 197 yards on the ground with two scores. Morris, a junior, is close behind with 116 yards on 19 carries.


With the loss of Dungey in the pocket, that takes away not only Syracuse’s best passing option but also takes away one of their better running options. Dungey is third on the team with 106 yards on the ground.


Austin Wilson has not shown the ability to move the chains with his feet. He has one rushing attempt, a sack, for a loss of two yards. Most quarterbacks new to starting hit the panic button quickly opting to run for their lives over making a second or third progression read. If LSU can get to Wilson early getting him out of rhythm and fearing for his life, this could be a really long day for Syracuse fans.


Final Analysis


Right now LSU looks like world beaters, and very well could be when all is said and done, but the Tigers are still far from perfect. If they ever come across a team that can stop the run with a decent pass defense they could be in trouble… Syracuse is not that team.


The Orange are ahead of a lot of preseason predictions with a shot at making a bowl game, if they can stay healthy. All coaches want their team to play hard until the end but if the game is out of hand early, will Scott Shafer pull his starters in favor of resting guys for next week’s bye to prepare for South Florida and then a pretty tough conference slate that includes Virginia, Florida State, Pitt, Louisville, and Clemson? Or will he look for the offense to gel under his new quarterbacks pushing the issue against a tough Tigers team?


Chippewas quarterback Cooper Rush threw for 430 yards last week against Syracuse. Can Harris find his elite receiving core for some much needed stat padding in Week 4?


Prediction: LSU 52, Syracuse 20


— Written by Ryan Wright, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and an established media professional with more than two decades' worth of experience. Over the years, Wright has written for numerous sites and publications and he recently started his own recruiting site, Follow him on Twitter @HogManInLA.

LSU Tigers vs. Syracuse Orange Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, September 25, 2015 - 09:05
Path: /college-football/southern-mississippi-golden-eagles-vs-nebraska-cornhuskers-preview-and-prediction-2015

The locals are restless in the heart of Husker Nation as the Big Red starts the season 1-2 for the first time since 1981. A tonic in the form of a win over the Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles would be more than welcomed.


Unfortunately, Nebraska finds itself without linebacker Michael Rose-Ivey again, this time due to groin injury while Josh Banderas is gutting things out with one of his own. Big Vincent Valentine is week-to-week with a high ankle sprain as well.


What this spells out is another game with the potential for a lack of a pass rush and a shattered secondary as a result. The Golden Avian Attack is no group of Miami Hurricanes in disguise, but don’t confuse them for the South Alabama Jaguars of two weeks ago in terms of talent.


College Football Podcast: Week 4 Preview with Jill Savage

Subscribe: iTunes | Stitcher


Southern Miss at Nebraska


Kickoff: 12 p.m. ET (Saturday)

Network: ESPNews/WatchESPN

Spread: Nebraska -21.5


Three Things to Watch For


1. The Reemergence of the Nebraska Running Game

After the Huskers were down 17-0 to the Hurricanes in fast order, the Big Red couldn’t afford to try to set up a rushing attack that doesn’t have the “Kickstart My Heart” speed of Ameer Abdullah to rely on anymore.


While Nebraska’s attempt wasn’t completely stymied (Terrell Newby had 11 carries for 82 yards), every Big Red score was initiated by quarterback Tommy Armstrong’s arm.


The good news for Big Red coaches is that Southern Miss surrenders 194 yards on the ground to the opposition per game (No. 96 in the country). Don’t be surprised to see Newby, Mikale Wilbon and Imani Cross return to the Memorial Stadium FieldTurf.


2. A Successful Pass Rush

While Freedom Akinmoladun will still be filling in for Jack Gangwish for a game or two, he’s done rather impressively for a converted tight end.


Defensive coordinator Mark Banker has got to find someone to be used as a legitimate threat opposite Maliek Collins with Valentine on the sideline or dial up some funky sets to confuse junior Southern Miss quarterback Nick Mullens.


The Golden Eagles have only given up four sacks on the year, but three were to their most impressive opponent, Mississippi State.


3. A Solidified Secondary

At this point, most Big Red backers would probably trade some yardage on the ground for the barrage that has their team claiming the title of the nation’s No. 127 pass defense (out of 128).


Perhaps the most interesting storyline going into this game is whether or not cornerback Daniel Davie will be starting, have a short leash if he does or if he plays at all.


Joshua Kalu and Jonathan Rose seem to be a far stingier combo at cornerback while Nathan Gerry and Byerson Cockrell can hold their own at safety.


If the defensive backfield can come together due to the subtraction of Davie and coverage sacks are a result, don’t expect to see No. 23 except in garbage time and maybe the current walking wounded situation won’t be such a problem.


Final Analysis


Even Mississippi State took some shots from Mullens as he threw for 311 yards and one touchdown, but the Bulldogs did snag two interceptions. It’s vital that Nebraska comes out and rattles his cage early or stonewall any rushing attempts from backs Jalen Richard or Ito Smith.


There’s no reason to expect Tommy Armstrong to regress. In fact, if a running game can be established, Nebraska may look as good as they did versus South Alabama. That wouldn’t be a bad thing heading into conference play.


As a side note, safety Deshadrick Truly is expected to sit the first half out following his ejection for targeting last week against Texas State.


All that said, I expect Southern Miss to put some points on the board and since he’s due, a Gerry interception (maybe a pick-six?).


Prediction: Nebraska 48, Southern Miss 27


— Written by Brandon Cavanaugh, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Be sure to follow Brandon on Twitter @eightlaces and Periscope (eightlaces), and like his Facebook page.

Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles vs. Nebraska Cornhuskers Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, September 25, 2015 - 09:00
Path: /college-football/byu-cougars-vs-michigan-wolverines-preview-and-prediction

For just the second time in both schools' history, the BYU Cougars (2-1) and Michigan Wolverines (2-1) will meet at the Big House in what should be one of the more entertaining games in the early slate of games on Saturday.


BYU is coming off of their first defeat of the season at the hands of UCLA, but the Cougars have been awfully impressive to begin the year, already beating the likes of Nebraska and Boise State. A one-point loss on the road against a potential playoff contender in the Bruins is nothing to scoff at.


Michigan has rebounded nicely since the opening loss at Utah, allowing a combined 14 points the past two games. The goal for the Wolverines against BYU will be getting a passing game that has lacked consistency on track before Big Ten play begins next week.


College Football Podcast: Week 4 Preview with Jill Savage

Subscribe: iTunes | Stitcher


BYU at Michigan


Kickoff: 12 p.m. ET (Saturday)
TV Channel: ABC
Spread: Michigan -6


Three Things to Watch


1. Continued Struggles for Rudock
It has been well-documented why Jim Harbaugh brought Rudock in from Iowa to be the starting quarterback for the Wolverines in 2015. The Michigan head coach puts a premium on taking care of the football, and that was considered to be one of the strengths that the fifth-year senior brought to the table. After throwing just five interceptions all of last year for the Hawkeyes, Rudock now has five interceptions through three games this season. Despite the lack of production, Rudock continues to have the support of his new head coach. “To be clear, Jake Rudock’s still the best quarterback,” Harbaugh said to local reporters. “Not by a small margin. He’s our best quarterback.” Taking care of the football will be paramount this week against a BYU defense that is tied for first in the country in interceptions with seven.


2. Chucking it
In the two games since Tanner Mangum took over as the starting quarterback, the Cougars have not been shy about throwing the football. Mangum is averaging 37 passes per game since taking over for the injured Taysom Hill, including 47 attempts against UCLA. Much of this is due to a lack of a rushing attack, but the offense has been tailored to fit Mangum’s strengths. Against the 14th-best rush defense in the country in Michigan that game plan is unlikely to change.


3. Major Recruiting Note

Rashan Gary, the No. 2 high school prospect in the country for 2016, confirmed earlier this week that he will be on an official visit to the Big House on Saturday. The list of schools after Gary is a mile long including the likes of LSU, Auburn, Georgia and a host of others. Gary has stated he will wait until February before making a commitment, but Michigan has a chance to make a very strong impression, and a win certainly helps the cause.   

Final Analysis


Combining Michigan’s seventh-ranked defense with a BYU defense that has the propensity to take the football away means a low-scoring affair is likely upon us. Look for Michigan to continue to feed De’Veon Smith and Ty Isaac with carries and force BYU to stop the run. Against this ball-hawking defense, Harbaugh will want to keep Rudock out of many third-and-long situations where he is forced to put it in the air.


The big question for BYU is do they have enough "Mangum Magic" left in the tank as they conclude this rugged non-conference stretch? The early start time and home-field advantage for the Wolverines may wind up being the difference in this evenly-matched contest.


Prediction: Michigan 24, BYU 23


— Written by Mike Bainbridge, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Bainbridge is a graduate of Northern Illinois University and current writer for Make sure to follow him on Twitter @MikeBainbridge2.

BYU Cougars vs. Michigan Wolverines Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, September 25, 2015 - 08:55
Path: /ucf-knights-vs-south-carolina-gamecocks-preview-and-prediction-2015

The UCF Knights come to Columbia this Saturday, and it couldn't come at a better time for the South Carolina Gamecocks.


South Carolina is humiliated after losing their last two games to Kentucky and Georgia, the latter by a 52-20 score. But UCF is broken, with eight key injuries on offense including their starting quarterback, Justin Holman, and receiver Jordan Akins. George O'Leary's Knights, 21-5 the last two seasons, are now 0-3 following a 16-15 loss to Furman last Saturday.


Suddenly the woes of the Gamecocks (1-2) don't seem so bad. At least USC has a victory, even if not their own starting quarterback, Connor Mitch.


UCF at South Carolina


Kickoff: 12 p.m. ET (Saturday)

TV Channel: ESPNU

Spread: USC -14


Three Things To Watch


1. Who will be playing quarterback, and when?

Lorenzo Nunez will get his first start at South Carolina against UCF after Perry Orth proved ineffective against Georgia, completing just 6-of-17 passes.


While Nunez was accurate with his passing in the second half, completing four of five passes, he gained only 18 yards with them. Instead, he accumulated 76 yards rushing.


The Knights aren't much better off. Holman was to get the stitches taken out of his broken finger on Tuesday and O'Leary is holding out hope he can return on Saturday, but that's not considered a likelihood.


Instead, UCF's head coach will likely choose between Bo Schneider or Tyler Harris, and he's indicated the starter will play the entire game. Schneider has started both games since Holman was injured in Week 1 and Harris has relieved him in both games. Both have produced just one touchdown drive this season.


So far this season Schneider has completed 14-of-30 passes for 109 yards and two interceptions, while Harris is 14-for-32 for 131 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions.


2. Which is worse, the Knights' offense or the South Carolina defense?

South Carolina is giving up 7.3 yards a play on defense, which is worst in the Southeastern Conference and 124th (out of 128) in the nation. UCF is gaining 3.7 yards per play, last not only in the American Athletic Conference, but dead last (yes, 128th) in the country among FBS teams.


The dismissal of All-Conference running back Will Stanback from the Knights for illegal drug use will not help the UCF offense, either.


Against Furman, UCF allowed a 61-yard touchdown pass, so the thought here is that Pharoh Cooper could finally break a long gain... if Nunez can get the ball to him.


3. Strategy

Steve Spurrier was once famous for using a two quarterback system, or rather changing quarterbacks at the first sign of trouble. It would be a surprise if that trend doesn't continue this season, and not just in circumstances when South Carolina is trailing by three touchdowns.


O'Leary, meanwhile, has hinted he would like to shed the interim athletic director title he has and move into the role full time, while leaving the coaching duties to someone else.


So both Spurrier and O'Leary are now on the hot seat. Questions remain about Spurrier's ability to recruit due to his age, which is used against him as rivals tell prospects he won't be around for their entire college career.


And at 69 years of age, O'Leary is only one year younger than Spurrier.


Point is, if a strategic gaffe costs either team the game, it may help grease the skids to their departure. Even though both programs have regressed in recent times it is difficult to see either one being fired — bad strategy could be what gets the boosters, administration and fans to pressure a coach into leaving.


Final Analysis


The Knights are likely just the opponent South Carolina needed. An interesting note is UCF has only sacked opposing quarterbacks twice this season, so perhaps Nunez won't be chased from the pocket and can concentrate on throwing from the pocket in this game. 


Prediction: South Carolina 28, UCF 14


— Written by Marky Billson, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. An experienced beat reporter and sports writer, Billson began contributing to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in 2000. He has covered the Steelers, Pitt Panthers, MLB and more during his career. Follow him on Twitter @MarkyBillson.

UCF Knights vs. South Carolina Gamecocks Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, September 25, 2015 - 08:50
Path: /georgia-tech-yellow-jackets-vs-duke-blue-devils-preview-and-prediction-2015

Georgia Tech will visit Duke on Saturday in what will be its second road game in a tough four-game stretch where the Yellow Jackets also will visit Clemson in a couple of weeks. Tech's offense was halted last week by a very good Notre Dame defense, which only gave up one rushing touchdown and 337 total yards compared to the 67 points and 467 yards per game the Yellow Jackets were averaging. Tech will look to improve as this game now becomes a must-win for the Jackets to stay alive in the ACC.


Duke is coming off a defensive battle which it lost to Northwestern last week. The Blue Devils just couldn’t really get anything going on offense as they turned the ball over three times to the Wildcats. Last year, David Cutcliffe and Duke ended a 10-year skid by defeating the Jackets. The Blue Devils will try and make it two in a row this Saturday.


College Football Podcast: Week 4 Preview with Jill Savage

Subscribe: iTunes | Stitcher


Georgia Tech at Duke


Kickoff: 12 p.m. ET (Saturday)

TV Channel: ESPN2

Spread: Georgia Tech -9


Three Things to Watch


1. Georgia Tech Needs to Get its Offense Going Again

Everyone thought Notre Dame’s defense was a fluke. Not so fast my friend. The Yellow Jackets were held to 219 yards rushing and only one rushing touchdown last week, very un-Yellow Jacket numbers. Justin Thomas was a measly 8-24 which is something he will have to get better at if the Jackets are to contend in the ACC. Yes, I know this is a running offense but Thomas has to be more accurate. They usually don’t throw a lot of passes so his room for error is smaller than most quarterbacks.


2. Revenge

The Blue Devils snapped a 10-year losing streak to Georgia Tech with their win last year. It was an even bigger bragging chip when you look at how the Yellow Jackets finished their year. Duke will be the underdog in this game but Georgia Tech will play like one. The Yellow Jackets know they can’t afford another slip up this early in the season so I look for them to pile on the points early and often.


3. Georgia Tech’s Defense Has to Get Better

One of the biggest concerns for the Yellow Jackets coming into this year was their defense and it was heavily exposed last week. Georgia Tech was gashed on the ground and may have shown a weakness for Duke to exploit even more. The Yellow Jackets will need to go back to the drawing board and figure out how to get teams off the field before a more high powered offense like, say Clemson, comes knocking on the door.


Final Analysis


I really don’t think this game is going to be close. Duke doesn’t strike me as the gritty Cutcliffe teams of the past couple of years and Georgia Tech has a lot of weapons to score at will. Georgia Tech will need to show they can actually stop someone but I think they do enough to shut down Duke. Georgia Tech will also need to show that there is no hangover affect after last week’s game.


Prediction: Georgia Tech 38, Duke 13


— Written by Justin Nails, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Follow him on Twitter @justinnails.

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets vs. Duke Blue Devils Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, September 25, 2015 - 08:45
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Georgia Bulldogs, SEC
Path: /southern-university-jaguars-vs-georgia-bulldogs-preview-and-prediction-2015

So I guess Greyson Lambert and the rest of the Georgia Bulldogs took what I wrote last week to heart as the Bulldogs manhandled the visiting South Carolina Gamecocks 52-20, and covered. So what do I know about the spread? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. And on top of that, Lambert went out and set both Georgia and national records as a quarterback. Now, I’m not completely sold on the fact that this is the Lambert we will see all year, but playing Southern University should be a nice tune up before Alabama comes to Athens next week.


The Bulldogs looked to be in mid-season form last week against the Gamecocks and should roll past Southern pretty easily this week. Getting some extra playing time for younger guys and keeping the starters fresh and healthy will be the name of the game this week.


Southern University at Georgia


Kickoff: 12 p.m. ET (Saturday)

TV Channel: SEC TV

Spread: N/A


Three Things to Watch


1. Greyson Lambert Can Be Better. Really.

It’s hard to imagine Greyson Lambert being any better than he was last week. Lambert was 24-25, 96 percent completion rating and 330 yards while throwing three touchdowns. So how can you get better than that? By sustaining. One of the knocks on Lambert coming over from Virginia was that he had the tools to be successful, he just couldn’t put it all together on a weekly basis. So even though it is a lesser opponent, Lambert can do a lot for this offense by continuing to get better. The worst thing that could happen is if he comes out and makes bad decisions with the ball. This Bulldog offense showed last week just how dangerous it can be when running on all cylinders. Now let’s see if Lambert can keep the ship going in the right direction. So far, so good.


2. The Reemergence of Sony Michel

Everyone in college football knows just how important Nick Chubb is to the Georgia Bulldog offense. But Sony Michel made a huge statement on Saturday as the X-factor in this Bulldog offense. Michel finished his night with eight carries for 51 yards, including a 21-yard run for a touchdown and adding three catches for 32 yards and two more touchdowns. Michel showed that Georgia can use him in multiple positions and he is dangerous in each and every one. Look for Michel to get a bigger workload and further cement his place as a huge contributor to this Bulldog offense going forward.


3. Georgia’s Defensive Depth

To compete in the SEC, you need depth on the defensive side of the ball. Georgia’s defense is getting better each week. Look for some of the younger guys to get a chance to come in and show defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt if they can be dependable going forward this season. The schedule gets tougher from here on out. Georgia will need all the help they can get.


Final Analysis


It doesn’t take a genius to see that this is a payday for Southern. Coach Richt will have an opportunity to put some less experienced guys in a game situation and see just how deep his roster is. Georgia rolls and could add depth in the midst of it.


Prediction: Georgia 55, Southern 7

— Written by Justin Nails, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Follow him on Twitter @justinnails

Southern University Jaguars vs. Georgia Bulldogs Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, September 25, 2015 - 08:40
Path: /college-football/central-michigan-chippewas-vs-michigan-state-spartans-prediction-and-preview-2015

The Chippewas and Spartans will conclude the non-conference portions of their respective schedules this Saturday. This game is Michigan State's next step in its quest to claim the mythical "state championship." Their neighbors in Mount Pleasant will visit Spartan Stadium.


The Chippewas are not as weak as their 1-2 record might indicate. The first loss occurred at home against Oklahoma State by only 11 points, a team currently ranked in both major polls. Last week, CMU forced Syracuse into overtime inside the Carrier Dome before the Orange escaped with a win. 


Michigan State holds a 6-3 advantage in the series history. The first eight of those meetings occurred in East Lansing. The Spartans won the most recent meeting, 41-7. That was the only game ever played in Mount Pleasant between these two programs. 


Central Michigan at Michigan State


Kickoff: 12 p.m. ET (Saturday)
TV Channel: Big Ten Network
Spread: Michigan State -28.5


Three Things to Watch


1. Generous Spartan defense vs. well-tested Chippewa offense

After three games, Michigan State has allowed an average of 388.3 yards per game and 5.7 yards per play. Additionally, the Spartans have been outscored in the second halves of games, 49-34. Permitting that many yards and points may let an overmatched underdog hang around through the fourth quarter. The Chippewas have averaged 334.5 yards in two games against FBS opponents. CMU could snatch a victory away from a lackadaisical defense and unproductive offense with a few well-timed big plays late in the game after coming up agonizingly short last week.


2. Injuries and suspensions among defense level the playing field

The Spartans have lost a starting linebacker, Ed Davis, and a starting cornerback, Vayante Copeland, for the rest of the season due to injuries. Darian Hicks, a starting cornerback in the majority of last season's games, is still recovering from mononucleosis. Another linebacker, Riley Bullough, will miss the first half after being ejected in the second half versus Air Force. Two reserves, safety Mark Meyers and defensive end Montez Sweat, are also suspended. Will the absence of these players make a difference between Central Michigan being manhandled and having a legitimate chance to upset the Spartans?


3. Motivation versus complacency

Central Michigan has 75 players from the Great Lake State. Surely, they would love to knock off their upscale neighbor from the Big Ten. Very few of them were likely recruited by Michigan State. The fact that the Spartans are ranked second by the media and third by the coaches would make an upset even sweeter for the guys wearing maroon and gold.


Michigan State faces its second of eight straight unranked opponents. Preferably, the Spartans have to provide enough style points in winning to stay in the high regard of the College Football Playoff selection committee. The men in green need to stay focused on the current opponent and not on what might lie ahead. Any references to a possible "Game of the Century" in late November must be squashed. Is it possible for a team to be caught looking ahead to a game two months in the future?


Final Analysis


This shapes up as a typical match between one team with nothing to lose and another team with everything to lose. A victory for CMU would give the Chippewas a huge burst of momentum heading into its Mid-American Conference slate. However, the gap in talent and depth will eventually make the difference despite the Chippewas' skill and motivation and Spartans' missing players and suspect pass defense.


Prediction: Michigan State 34, Central Michigan 23


— Written by John La Fleur, who is part of the Athlon Contributor network. A graduate of Michigan State and LSU, La Fleur also has been a Saints fan since he was old enough to understand football. Follow him on Twitter @FBConnoisseur.

Post date: Friday, September 25, 2015 - 08:35
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/betting-against-spread-college-football-week-4-picks

Week four of the college football season is upon us and I put together another week although I was disappointed with the two losses in the FCS vs. FBS realm. I'm pretty sure it's a sign of true degeneracy when you are yelling at your TV or computer for an FCS team that is clearly outmatched to hold on or perform better in their matchup. Last week I pointed out that I'd like to learn a little more about Charlotte and Temple, and boy did we. The 49ers are not ready for primetime while the Owls just might be. These two teams play next Friday in a game that I will be attending. 


Record: 17-12 (6-4 last week)


Boise State (2-1) at Virginia (1-2) (Friday)

Virginia welcomes Boise State to Charlottesville for a Friday night tilt. The Broncos enter this one without starting quarterback Ryan Finley, who broke his ankle vs. Idaho State. The Cavaliers nearly knocked off Notre Dame in week 2 and also nearly let one slip away against FCS opponent William and Mary in a 35-29 win. Virginia's received good quarterbacking from Matt Johns, who is taking over for Greyson Lambert (transferred to Georgia). The offense will get T.J. Thorpe at full strength and the UNC transfer is going to add another dimension to things. Boise's defense has shut down three rushing attacks although two teams don't commit to the run as much as UVA does. Boise's offense hasn't overwhelmed anyone of the FBS variety. The Cavaliers have covered seven of their last 11 non-conference games and 10 of their last 17 at home. The Broncs are an okay ATS team having split their last 12 road games against the spread. SELECTION: Virginia +3


Missouri (3-0) at Kentucky (2-1)

Kentucky is coming off a rough outing where the Wildcats lost to Florida 14-9 at home. Missouri, meanwhile, had its own troubles at home with UConn in a 9-6 victory. For the second straight week, the Tigers managed under 300 yards of offense.  They got the victory by virtue of a good defense that has held every opponent under 300 yards. UK's offense has put up better numbers, although the level of opponent hasn't been the best. South Carolina didn't put up much resistance in week 2. Last year these two played a 20-10 game in Missouri. September's been a good month for unders for both teams as Missouri is 2-8 O-U in its last 10 while Kentucky is 2-7 O-U. SELECTION: Under 44


Arkansas State (1-2) at Toledo (2-0)

Toledo is 2-0 after a second straight Power 5 win over Iowa State. The Rockets are getting a lot of publicity for their start as they host Arkansas State on Saturday. The Red Wolves are 1-2, but have the talent to make things interesting in this one. Toledo's defense has allowed around 500 yards per game in both of its contests and could struggle with Fredi Knighten and Michael Gordon. These two teams played in a bowl game back on Jan. 4 with Toledo winning 63-44. We could see that many points in this one. The Rockets are 41-21 O-U since 1992. SELECTION: Over 60


Vanderbilt (1-2) at Ole Miss (3-0)

Ole Miss is flying high after a huge 43-37 win at Alabama. Now the Rebels welcome woeful Vanderbilt to town for the Commodores' first road game of the season. The Commodores have been pretty awful offensively this season scoring just 26 points in two home games against FBS opponents. They'll find it hard to score on the Rebels, who have forced 10 turnovers. Ole Miss has been rolling offensively, putting up 192 points in three games. Chad Kelly is putting up solid stats for a potential Heisman campaign. Money is streaming in on Vanderbilt, because of course people think that Ole Miss will start slow. That's probably true so I don't recommend any first half wagers, but in the end Ole Miss is the better team and the Rebels will pull this out. The Rebs have covered in 11 of their last 16 home games. Last year at home Vandy lost this game 41-3. We expect a similar score, but wait and maybe more line movement will help you out. SELECTION: Ole Miss -24.5


FIU (2-1) at Louisiana Tech (1-2)

Last year, I was on FAU whenever I could and it worked out well. This year, we're transferring over to FIU, which already has a road win over UCF. The Panthers have a very good defense that has held down two of their last three opponents. Louisiana Tech is coming off a pair of tough road losses and will be hungry to get back on the winning side. Jeff Driskel and Kenneth Dixon have been a solid pair on offense. FIU's offense is inconsistent, but the Panthers might be able to find some things that work against the Bulldogs. Louisiana Tech has played just 11 home games the last three seasons and have covered five. Playing a hunch here and going with the road team. SELECTION: FIU +14.5


Rice (2-1) at Baylor (2-0)

Baylor had the week off entering this contest with Rice on Saturday. The Bears have put up 122 points in two games while allowing 52 to SMU and Lamar. The numbers look great offensively, but the competition hasn't been great. Rice possesses some offensive firepower, but the Owls will struggle defensively. The Owls gave up 42 points to Texas and 24 to North Texas. Driphus Jackson leads a Rice team that has scored 28 points or more in each of its three games. Baylor has played 18 overs in its last 28 games including nine of 14 at home. The Bears' opponent has gone over in 11 of the last 15 road games including both this season. SELECTION: Over 75


Ohio (3-0) at Minnesota (2-1)

Last week I hit the under in the Minnesota game and it paid off handsomely, as the Golden Gophers won 10-7 at home over Kent State. Now it's the second straight MAC opponent for them as Ohio comes to town. The Bobcats have played impressively on defense especially in week two when they held Marshall to 10 points and 241 yards of offense. Minny has managed just 50 points this season and has struggled with turnovers. Ohio's offense won't be able to get much going on this Big Ten defense that held TCU to just 23 points. Minnesota has three unders in three games this season and 10 of its last 16 home contests. Ohio has played 11 unders in its last 13 games as an underdog. SELECTION: Under 47


Marshall (1-2) at Kent State (2-1)

The other side of that Minnesota contest last week was Kent State, whose anemic offense comes home to host Marshall. Kent State has scored just 10 points against FBS opponents managing under 250 yards in each tilt. The good thing for the Golden Flashes is how well they are playing on defense. While they did give up 52 points to Illinois in week one, it didn't help that they had four turnovers and frequent short fields to defend. Marshall's offense is still working on some things. The Thundering Herd will play two quarterbacks in this one and that's going to make things difficult. Devon Johnson is steady at RB, but the passing attack needs work. Kent State has gone under in six of its last eight games against teams with a winning record. SELECTION: Under 50.5


Northern Illinois (2-1) at Boston College (2-1)

The Eagles play their second straight FBS opponent as they host Northern Illinois. It's hard to get a read on Boston College with wins over Maine and Howard on the docket already. BC did hold Florida State to just 217 yards of offense last Friday night. We also don't know about NIU's defense. The Huskies struggled with UNLV and Murray State before holding the Buckeyes to 298 yards of total offense. Northern Illinois is capable of scoring, but a trip to Chestnut Hill will make things tough. The Eagles don't have Darius Wade for this one so the offense will have a new signal-caller. NIU has been an underdog nine times the last three seasons with six of those games going under the total. SELECTION: Under 47


Nicholls State (0-2) at Colorado (2-1)

This is a mismatch of sorts on Saturday as Nicholls State has lost 20 straight games. This year the Colonels fell 47-0 to ULM and 20-10 to Incarnate Word. They have played 17 freshmen in their first two games including several in the secondary. That's a bad set up to face the Buffaloes, who love to sling it around and figure to find wide receiver Nelson Spruce early and often. Nicholls has lost five straight FBS games getting outscored 311-33. The only concern here is that Colorado hosts Oregon next Saturday, but even its second and third teams should be able to score here. SELECTION: Colorado -45



- It's a classic matchup of a good defense against a good offense as Wake Forest hosts Indiana. The Demon Deacons are 2-1 with wins over Elon and Army. Wake Forest has been very good on the defensive side, but has not played anyone as good as Indiana. The Hoosiers have three wins over mediocre teams for the most part excluding Western Kentucky. It's their first road game of the season as well. IU has made each of those teams look good offensively. I really thought about the under in this one as well as Wake Forest, but couldn't make either official. Ohio State comes to Bloomington next Saturday so focus could be an issue as well. 


- It is a matchup of two of the worst Power 5 schools as Rutgers takes on Kansas. It is week two of Rutgers head coach Kyle Flood's suspension as well as wide receiver Leonte Carroo, who is the Scarlet Knights' best offensive player. The Jayhawks are horrendous, but had two weeks to prepare for this one. This game will go one of two ways... Rutgers blows out the awful Jayhawks or the Scarlet Knights' misery continues and Kansas comes away with a rare victory. I almost lean to KU in this one, but really who can bet on either team.


- Vegas has thwarted one of my favorite spot plays for Saturday. Old Dominion is coming off the biggest home game in school history and now Appalachian State is coming to town. The Monarchs' offense couldn't get anything going in the 38-14 loss to NC State and now have to play a Mountaineers team that is coming off a bye after a loss at Clemson. Appy State has a potent offense to go with a decent defense. I was hoping to get a number where I could fade Old Dominion, which won't be focused in this spot, but unfortunately it's at a number I don't feel comfortable playing on the road.


— Written by Matt Josephs, who is a part of the Athlon Sports Contributor Network. Josephs prefers non-Power 5 college football and may be the only one wagering on the Sun Belt. Follow him on Twitter @MidMajorMatt.

Betting Against the Spread: College Football Week 4 Picks
Post date: Friday, September 25, 2015 - 08:30
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball, News
Path: /college-basketball/ranking-pac-12-basketball-coaches-2015-16

Compared to the lineups in other power conferences, the Pac-12 coaching lineup has a few key items missing on its collective résumés.


Namely, a coach who has been to the Final Four.


The Pac-12 is the only one of the top nine conferences — the Power 5 plus the American, Big East, Mountain West and Missouri Valley — without a coach who has been to the Final Four. Of the top nine conferences, six have multiple Final Four coaches.


That’s not to say the Pac-12 is bereft of quality coaches. Miller is widely considered the peer of the nation’s elite coaches, and his first Final Four appearance seems to be a matter of when rather than if.


The Pac-12 has two coaches who could claim to be the top guys on the bench in the modern era for their respective programs (Washington’s Lorenzo Romar, Colorado’s Tad Boyle). One Pac-12 school (Washington State) has the all-time wins leader from another conference school (Ernie Kent, at Oregon).


Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak led one of the best rebuilding jobs of the last four seasons, and Oregon’s Dana Altman has done something in the last three years that’s never been done in program history.


While the Pac-12 lineup isn’t perfect, several schools — even not named Arizona — have reason to feel confident.


The Athlon Sports College Basketball Preview magazine is available now.


Podcast: Who should be No. 1 in College Basketball in 2015-16?

Subscribe: iTunes | Stitcher


Ranking the Pac-12 Basketball Coaches for 2015-16



1. Sean Miller, Arizona

Record at Arizona: 163-52, 79-29 Pac-12

NCAA record: 17-8

Number to note: Not only has Miller been to either the Elite Eight or Sweet 16 in each of his last six trips to the NCAA Tournament, Miller has never been knocked out of the Tourney by a team seeded lower than third.

Why he’s ranked here: Miller is only 46 and on the short list of best coaches in the game. He’s seeking his first Final Four, but he’s already on a Hall of Fame trajectory.


2. Larry Krystkowiak, Utah

Record at Utah: 68-64, 30-42 Pac-12

NCAA record: 3-3

Number to note: In Krystkowiak’s four seasons, Utah has improved in KenPom’s ratings from No. 297 to No. 108 to No. 42 to No. 8.

Why he’s ranked here: By taking Utah to its second Sweet 16 since Rick Majerus left, Krystkowiak has resurrected the Utah program in an improving Pac-12. With Delon Wright gone, this is could be a critical season for Utah’s staying power.


3. Dana Altman, Oregon

Record at Oregon: 123-57, 55-35 Pac-12

NCAA record: 6-11

Number to note: Altman has won at least 10 conference games in 18 of his last 19 seasons, the exception being his first season at Oregon in 2010-11.

Why he’s ranked here: Altman is the first coach to lead Oregon to three consecutive NCAA Tournaments, but scandal and faltering attendance have marred his program.


4. Steve Alford, UCLA

Record at UCLA: 50-23, 23-13 Pac-12

NCAA record: 9-9

Number to note: All of Alford’s teams since 2006-07 at Iowa have been ranked in the top 100 of both offensive and defensive efficiency on KenPom.

Why he’s ranked here: UCLA has reached the Sweet 16 in each Alford’s first two seasons (with the assist of facing double-digit seeds UAB and Stephen F. Austin in the round of 32). With his deepest roster in Westwood, Alford will be expected to challenge for bigger prizes.


5. Cuonzo Martin, Cal

Record at Cal: 18-15, 7-11 Pac-12

NCAA record: 3-1

Number to note: In 2015, Martin signed Cal’s first McDonald’s All-Americans since 2003.

Why he’s ranked here: Cal is expecting big things with Martin adding freshmen Jaylen Brown and Ivan Rabb to a veteran team. Martin likely will coach a ranked team for the first time in his career.


6. Tad Boyle, Colorado

Record at Colorado: 108-68, 46-42 Big 12/Pac-12

NCAA record: 1-3

Number to note: The Buffaloes went 7-11 in the Pac-12 last season, the first losing conference season for Boyle since 2007-08 at Northern Colorado.

Why he’s ranked here: An injury-plagued year for Colorado was a major disappointment after three consecutive trips to the NCAA Tournament. Can Boyle get back on track?


7. Wayne Tinkle, Oregon State

Record at Oregon State: 17-14, 8-10 Pac-12

NCAA record: 0-3

Number to note: The Beavers ranked 16th in adjusted defensive efficiency on KenPom last season.

Why he’s ranked here: Tinkle’s first team at Oregon State overachieved to beat Arizona and UCLA and stay competitive in conference. His second team will have the sons of the best player in school history (Gary Payton II), the head coach (Tres Tinkle) and an assistant (Stephen Thompson Jr.).


8. Lorenzo Romar, Washington

Record at Washington: 270-159, 132-102 Pac-12

NCAA record: 8-7

Number to note: Washington’s 5-13 Pac-12 record was Romar’s first losing conference season since 2007-08 and worst league mark since his first season with the Huskies.

Why he’s ranked here: Washington has had its ups and downs under Romar, but the Huskies are currently in their most sustained funk of the last 12 years, missing the NCAA Tournament in each of the last four seasons. Romar is either on the hot seat or headed for another turnaround.


9. Johnny Dawkins, Stanford

Record at Stanford: 141-100, 58-68 Pac-12

NCAA record: 2-1

Number to note: Dawkins is a combined 4-23 against Arizona and UCLA since arriving at Stanford.

Why he’s ranked here: The Sweet 16 run in 2014 may have saved Dawkins job, allowing him to win his second NIT championship at Stanford last season.


10. Bobby Hurley, Arizona State

Record at Arizona State: First season

NCAA record: 0-1

Number to note: In two seasons at Buffalo, Hurley was responsible for two of the top seven win totals in program history.

Why he’s ranked here: Arizona State believes it has a rising star in Hurley, who has only two seasons of head coaching experience. The family name — and the turnaround at Buffalo — carries significant weight.


11. Ernie Kent, Washington State

Record at Washington State: 13-18, 7-11 Pac-12

NCAA record: 6-6

Number to note: Washington State’s seven Pac-12 wins (including two in OT) came by an average of 4 points per game. The Cougars’ 11 Pac-12 losses were by an average of 15.2 points per game.

Why he’s ranked here: Kent, who last coached at Oregon in 2010, coaxed seven league wins out of last year’s group. That was a rather impressive feat for what we thought was a ho-hum hire.


12. Andy Enfield, USC

Record at USC: 23-41, 5-31 Pac-12

NCAA record: 2-1

Number to note: The Trojans have ranked 25th and 26th in tempo in his two seasons at USC.

Why he’s ranked here: Enfield started building from the ground up at USC, building his program around local high school prospects. Those players are now sophomores and juniors. Progress must be made this season.

Ranking the Pac-12 Basketball Coaches for 2015-16
Post date: Friday, September 25, 2015 - 08:00