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All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, injury updates, NFL, Fantasy
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-week-9-injury-updates-ronnie-hillman-ryan-mathews-dion-lewis-orleans-darkwa

With six teams on bye, the thought would be the fantasy injury report for running backs would be shorter for Week 9, right? However, that is not the case, as Week 8 was brutal for injuries, leaving fantasy owners with plenty of names to pay attention to. Consider yourself lucky if your roster made it through last week semi-intact.


Now we deal with the aftermath of those injuries. Be sure to check out the quarterback/tight end injuries and the wide receivers (early games, later games) as well.


Teams on bye: Arizona, Baltimore, Detroit, Houston, Kansas City, Seattle


Note: All games are at 1 p.m. ET unless otherwise noted.


Ronnie Hillman, RB, Denver Broncos at Indianapolis Colts (Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET)

Questionable – Thigh

Hillman has a questionable tag, but the Broncos have said he will be their starting running back for Week 9. He'll start and he'll play, but unfortunately for fantasy owners, so will C.J. Anderson. The two will end up sharing carries, which eats into the fantasy value for both. Hillman is a RB2, but it is possible Anderson ends the day with more fantasy points.


Ryan Mathews, RB, Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys (Sunday, 8:30 p.m. ET)

Questionable – Groin

The Eagles are coming off a bye, so for Mathews to still be on the injury report is a little worrisome. However, he was able to put in a full practice on Friday, which bodes well for him playing on Sunday. In the previous three games before the bye, Mathews averaged almost eight carries for 70 yards. He had two touchdowns in that span as well. The hope for fantasy owners is that the Eagles have recognized his effectiveness and will get him the ball more. Until we see it, though, he's a RB3.


Dion Lewis, RB, New England Patriots vs. Washington Redskins

Probable – Abdomen

While this game has the potential to feature a lot of LeGarrette Blount, Lewis has scored double-digit fantasy points in every game he's finished. He'll be active for this game, and it's hard to sit Lewis even if the Patriots may go into clock-killing mode with Blount. Lewis is still a low-end RB1 because the Patriots find a way to get him the ball. Tom Brady has attempted at least 27 passes in every game he's played this season - and Lewis will be the target on enough of those to make him a fantasy starter (especially in PPR formats).


Orleans Darkwa, RB, New York Giants at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET)

Probable – Back

After making a (small) splash on the fantasy football scene in Week 7, Darkwa had four carries for 23 yards in Week 8. He injured his back during the game, although it was deemed a bruise. He will likely play in Week 9, although he isn't a recommended fantasy option. The Buccaneers’ run defense is better than the numbers on the season show, and Darkwa is still sharing carries with Rashad Jennings, Andre Williams and Shane Vereen.


Chris Thompson, RB, Washington Redskins at New England Patriots

Probable – Back

The fact that Thompson is likely going to play isn't really relevant for him (most fantasy owners are not starting Thompson unless they are truly desperate), but rather for Matt Jones. Jones has done better - although not great - when Thompson has been out. His return demotes Jones to a RB3 in a matchup where the Redskins are going to be throwing the ball a ton.


Matt Forte, RB, Chicago Bears at San Diego Chargers (Monday, 8:30 p.m. ET)

Out – Knee

Forte injured his MCL in Week 8, although the severity is unknown. The Bears have said he is day-to-day, which implies that he may only miss one or two weeks. However, he has been ruled out for Week 9, and Jeremy Langford will be the workhorse back in a good matchup. Langford is a RB2 and should stay on rosters even once Forte returns (as Week 8 taught us the value of handcuffing your stud running back).


Carlos Hyde, RB, San Francisco 49ers at Atlanta Falcons (Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET)

Out – Foot

Hyde revealed he had a stress fracture in his foot, and fantasy owners could see that it did affect how he played in Week 7. He was out Week 8 and will also be out Week 9. The 49ers have a bye in Week 10, but it isn't a guarantee that Hyde returns after the bye. San Francisco signed Pierre Thomas and Shaun Draughn to its running back squad. Thomas, Kendall Gaskins and Draughn are likely all going to see carries this week. Between the offensive struggles of the 49ers and the three-headed mess, avoid all San Francisco running backs.


Mike Davis, RB, San Francisco 49ers at Atlanta Falcons (Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET)

Out – Hand

After getting 10 carries (for four yards) in Week 8 with Carlos Hyde out, Davis is now out indefinitely himself after injuring his hand and having surgery. Don't bother picking him up in any format.


— 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 Week 9 Injury Updates: Ronnie Hillman, Ryan Mathews, Dion Lewis, Orleans Darkwa
Post date: Sunday, November 8, 2015 - 06:30
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Overtime
Path: /college-football/odell-beckham-jr-responds-tasteless-alabama-sign-lsu-hurricane-katrina

LSU vs. Alabama is usually a much-hyped game when it rolls around. 


Sometimes fans take things a little too far. Crimson Tide fans hung a sign around campus regarding Hurricane Katrina. Obviously everyone wants their team to win, but some signs shouldn't be made.



Alabama responded to the sign, mentioning that it has no place on or around the campus.




New York Giant, and former LSU alum, Odell Beckham Jr. used his own platform on social media to give his thoughts on the sign.



Katrina never broke us, it made us savages... @_fournette7 #4ThaCity #Follow

A photo posted by Odell Beckham Jr (@iam_objxiii) on

Post date: Saturday, November 7, 2015 - 15:04
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Overtime
Path: /college-football/local-news-station-picks-steelers-beat-notre-dame-pittsburgh-panthers

Notre Dame has quite the team on its hands this weekend.


The Fighting Irish are playing the Pitt Panthers but according to one local news station, they'll be playing against the Steelers. The station didn't even spell Pittsburgh correctly. It makes sense to go with Mike Tomlin's squad, after all, they are a professional team.


Post date: Saturday, November 7, 2015 - 13:57
All taxonomy terms: Minnesota Vikings, NFC, St. Louis Rams, NFL
Path: /nfl/st-louis-rams-vs-minnesota-vikings-preview-and-prediction-2015

Don't look now but the St. Louis Rams (4-3) are in second place in the NFC West. The Rams have won three of their last four games and are 3-0 against division opponents.


Minnesota (5-2) also is in second place in the NFC North. The Vikings have a three-game winning streak and have won four of their last five matchups.


Both teams look to gain momentum in their respective divisions in a Week 9 matchup in Minneapolis. Here's a preview and prediction for Sunday's game.


St. Louis at Minnesota


Kickoff: 1 p.m. ET (Sunday)
TV Channel: FOX
Spread: Minnesota -2


Three Things to Watch


1. Passing of the torch?
Rams rookie Todd Gurley has played fantastic in his debut season. He leads the NFL with 115.0 yards per game and is fifth in rushing with 575 yards on 94 carries.


Gurley's managed to bounce back from an ACL tear to have one of the most impressive rookie campaigns in recent memory. Does it remind you of anyone?


Not only was Adrian Peterson the NFL's Rookie of the Year in 2007, but he also managed to win the 2012 NFL MVP just months after knee surgery. Peterson rushed for a career-best 2,097 yards — which is the second highest single-season total in NFL history.


But the Vikings' legend isn't ready to pass the torch just yet, as he's made yet another successful comeback in 2015. Peterson ranks third with 633 rushing yards and 90.4 yards per game. Sunday's matchup will feature the best running back of the past decade and the player who could hold that distinction for the next decade.

2. Will Stefon Diggs be sidelined by a hamstring injury?

No seriously, how great is he? If you want to talk about breakout rookies in 2015, you have to mention the Vikings' wide receiver.


Diggs became the first rookie in NFL history to record 85-plus receiving yards in each of his first four career games, according to Randall Liu, NFL Director of NFC Football Communications. But the rookie phenom could miss Sunday's game due to a hamstring injury.


Minnesota would benefit from having Diggs in its lineup given his immediate success and importance to its passing attack.

3. Vikings' O-line vs. Rams' D-line
Minnesota's biggest weakness is its offensive line. The Vikings have allowed 75 QB hurries and rank No. 23 overall in with a 75.7 pass-blocking efficiency rating, according to Pro Football Focus.


St. Louis has seen consistent success from its defensive line, despite ranking 27th in team sacks. The Rams' starters — Aaron Donald (28), Michael Brockers (8), Robert Quinn (20) and William Hayes (17) — have combined for 73 QB hurries in 2015. Nick Fairley has six hurries.

Final Analysis


Minnesota needs to provide protection for quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. The Vikings were seconds away from a fourth-quarter rally against Denver before Bridgewater's pocket collapsed and led to a fumble on their final drive.


Still, Minnesota is 3-0 at home and looks like a complete offense — despite the struggles in the trenches. Peterson is due for another historic performance after recording his third 100-yard game of 2015 last week at Chicago.


The Vikings will win a tough game at home to pressure Green Bay after it suffered its first loss in Week 8.

Prediction: Vikings 17, Rams 13


— Written by Jason Hall, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and works for Fox Sports Florida. Follow him on Twitter @jasonhallFSN.

St. Louis Rams vs. Minnesota Vikings Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, November 6, 2015 - 14:15
All taxonomy terms: AFC, AFC East, Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, NFL
Path: /nfl/miami-dolphins-vs-buffalo-bills-preview-and-prediction-2015

Sunday will be the 100th regular season meeting between the Miami Dolphins and the Buffalo Bills. Both teams enter this AFC East matchup with a 3-4 record and fighting to remain in the wild-card race.


After Dan Campbell won his first two games as the Dolphins’ interim head coach, the team came back down to Earth in their last game against the New England Patriots. Miami lost 36-7 last Thursday, as New England intercepted quarterback Ryan Tannehill twice.


Last week, Buffalo was on bye following its 34-31 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars in London on Oct. 25. The week off allowed players like quarterback Tyrod Taylor (knee) and running back Karlos Williams (concussion) to get healthy and back on the practice field.


In their first meeting this season, Buffalo embarrassed Miami 41-14 at Sun Life Stadium. The Dolphins hold a 58-44-1 all-time series advantage over the Bills.


Miami at Buffalo


Kickoff: 1 p.m. ET (Sunday)


Spread: Buffalo -3


Three Things to Watch


1. Dolphins’ offensive line

Once again this season, the Dolphins are dealing with another change to their offensive line rotation. Right tackle Ja’Wuan James has a toe injury and is reportedly out for 4-6 weeks.


Veteran Jason Fox will likely be the player called to take James’ place at right tackle. Center Mike Pouncey believes Fox will be up to the task.


“Jason (Fox) is going to do a good job filling in for Ja’Wuan,” said Pouncey. “Obviously when you lose a starter, there is always a little bit in your head because he doesn’t get that many reps when the season starts. Jason is fortunate to have those reps with Branden going down and all of our trust is in him.”


Fox and the rest of the Dolphins’ offensive line will have their work cut out for them as they will be lined up against one of the best defensive lines in the NFL.


Even though Buffalo only has 11 sacks this season, they have three Pro Bowlers up front in Mario Williams, Kyle Williams and Marcell Dareus. While Jerry Hughes has yet to get invited to the Pro Bowl, he did have 10 sacks in each of the last two seasons.


2. Tyrod Taylor

After sitting on the sideline for two straight games because of a sprained MCL, Taylor is set to return against the Dolphins on Sunday. Miami knows firsthand how important Taylor is to the Bills’ offense.


In Week 3 against the Dolphins, Taylor threw for 277 yards and three touchdowns, posting a passer rating of 136.7. Not only will Miami have to worry about the passing ability of Taylor, but the defense also will have to worry about his mobility outside of the pocket.


“Well, as we saw in the first game, if you let him get out on the perimeter and he’s a problem because he can run the ball," Dolphins defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo said. "He’s elusive out on the perimeter and not just in our game, but in a number of games and when he’s in the pocket he can still stand in there and deliver it. You’ve got a mobile guy who can hurt you with his arm and his legs. We’ve got our hands full and he’s done a great job this year. We’ll be well aware of what he presents; the problems he presents and be in a position to hopefully do a good on him.”


With the Bills’ offense getting healthy, Taylor will have a full complement of weapons on Sunday. That could be bad news for the Dolphins’ defense.


3. Derrick Shelby

Not only did the Dolphins lose badly on national television last week, they lost their best pass rusher to a serious injury.

Defensive end Cameron Wake will miss the remainder of the season after tearing his Achilles. Prior to getting hurt, Wake had recorded seven sacks in less than three full games.


The player that will try to take Wake’s place is Derrick Shelby. The fourth-year veteran has 11 tackles and has yet to collect a sack this season. Anarumo said the team isn’t expecting Shelby to be like Wake.


"To say that you’re ever going to replace a Cam Wake, you know that’s not going to happen," Anarumo said. "He’s one of a kind and is a great player in this league for a long time. Edge rushers as we all know just don’t come around every day, the guys that we have stepping in Derrick Shelby and Chris McCain and (Terrence) Fede and obviously (Olivier Vernon) O.V. is going to be doing his thing, we’ve got a good group of guys that are talented people."


Wake was a big factor in the Dolphins’ wins against the Tennessee Titans and Houston Texans. It will be interesting to see how Miami’s defense does without its best pass rusher.


Final Analysis 


In the last 10 seasons, the Dolphins have won in Ralph Wilson Stadium just twice, with the last time being in 2011. While this game should be closer than their Week 3 matchup, the Bills should come out victorious for the second time this season.


Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill has been very inconsistent this season, as he has thrown nine interceptions on the season. Buffalo’s pass rush should be able to put pressure on him and force him to make mistakes.


Offensively, look for Buffalo to run the ball much like they did in the first meeting. In Week 3, the Bills rushed for 151 yards and LeSean McCoy wasn’t operating at 100 percent. Now that McCoy and Karlos Williams are both healthy, the Dolphins’ defense will get a heavy dose of both running backs.


Prediction: Bills 34, Dolphins 20


— 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.

Miami Dolphins vs. Buffalo Bills Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, November 6, 2015 - 14:00
All taxonomy terms: Carolina Panthers, Green Bay Packers, NFC, NFL
Path: /nfl/green-bay-packers-vs-carolina-panthers-preview-and-prediction-2015

As few as three weeks ago, it would have been impossible for fans to imagine Green Bay’s visit to Charlotte as a must-win for the Packers. Aaron Rodgers and his mates looked to be the presumptive NFC Super Bowl representative, and while the Panthers had rolled everyone in their path, some groused about how the Carolina slate had been comprised of tomato cans.


As the teams prepare to square off Sunday, things have changed. Although the caliber of the Carolina victims hasn’t increased all that much, the Panthers have the NFC’s best record, and Green Bay is struggling to find its identity after escaping with a home win over San Diego, in which the Packer defense surrendered 548 total yards, and then losing decisively to a Denver team that stifled the vaunted Packer attack. As the teams prepare to determine conference primacy — at least at the halfway point — the Panthers are looking to prove themselves worthy, while Green Bay hopes to regain the momentum it created earlier in the season.


Green Bay at Carolina


Kickoff: 1 p.m. ET (Sunday)


Point spread: Green Bay -2.5


Three Things to Watch


1. No Offense

Everybody knew the Denver defense was strong, but holding the Packers to 140 total yards in the Broncos’ 29-10 loss was a shock to everyone, including Green Bay. Rodgers managed a measly 77 yards passing and could not get comfortable against the formidable Broncos’ pass rush and secondary.


“We didn’t execute the plan we had in place,” Rodgers said. “They played a lot of base defense. They had a seven-man box most of the time. We had a plan for it. We just didn’t execute it.” Green Bay must get more out of Rodgers; that’s true. But it must also find a way to get running backs James Starks (295 yards) and Eddie Lacy (298) going, the better to keep Carolina from getting too comfortable against the pass.


2. On the Run

The Packers may be struggling to get their offense moving and could use a breakout by either Starks or Lacy, but Carolina has no such ground problems. Carolina ranks first in the league with 144.0 yards/game on the ground and controls the clock with Jonathan Stewart (505 yards, 4.0 yards/carry, 3 TDs) and Cam Newton (286, 4.5, 4). Although we’re not talking about a 1970s-style rushing attack, Carolina is capable of controlling the clock, something that won’t be good news for Green Bay, which had the ball for only 26:33 in the loss to Denver and gave up 101 yards to C.J. Anderson. Green Bay is 26th in the NFL in rushing defense and had better tighten that up before visiting the Panthers.


3. Air Raid

Newton may be dangerous on the run, but he is hardly killing it when he throws the ball. The Carolina QB is completing only 54.2 percent of his throws and already has eight interceptions. Neither of those two figures is too impressive. But Green Bay surrendered 503 passing yards to Phillip Rivers two weeks ago and let a struggling Peyton Manning throw for 340 last Sunday night. The Packers can put pressure on the quarterback, but they haven’t been so tight on the back line.


Final Analysis


This isn’t yet a do-or-die game for the Packers, because it’s unlikely the Panthers are going to go 13-3. Green Bay can survive a loss and still have a shot at home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. More important is whether the team can regain the crackle it had earlier in the season. It was fortunate to escape San Diego and was spanked by Denver.

There are those who wonder just how Carolina does it. The Panthers can’t throw it that well, and while they lead the league in rushing, 144 yards is not exactly a bonanza. They have been fortunate with a light schedule so far and have been getting clutch performances from Newton, along with solid play from their defense, particularly linebackers Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis.


Prediction: Packers 24, Panthers 20


— Written by Michael Bradley, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Bradley is a writer and broadcaster based in suburban Philadelphia. Follow him on Twitter @DailyHombre.

Green Bay Packers vs. Carolina Panthers Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, November 6, 2015 - 13:45
All taxonomy terms: AFC, Oakland Raiders, Pittsburgh Steelers, NFL
Path: /nfl/oakland-raiders-vs-pittsburgh-steelers-preview-and-prediction-2015

It seems the Oakland Raiders have had the Pittsburgh Steelers' number in recent seasons. Since 2006, when the Silver and Black lost a franchise-record 14 games, the Raiders have defeated the Steelers four out of five times.


This streak has occurred during an era when the Raiders have not produced a single winning record and the Steelers have not suffered through a single losing record.


The Immaculate Reception will always be the signature moment of the rivalry, but Oakland quarterback Bruce Gradkowski throwing a winning touchdown pass with nine seconds remaining in 2009 or Terrelle Pryor defeating his hometown team four years later with a 93-yard touchdown run (breaking Kordell Stewart's record for longest run by a quarterback in NFL history) have allowed the Raiders to take a 15-12 lead in the All-Time Series.


If this trend continues Sunday at Heinz Field, it will establish the Raiders (4-3) as a true playoff contender for the first time in more than a decade and give the Steelers (4-3)  a losing record, something they haven't suffered in — you guessed it — more than a decade.


Oakland at Pittsburgh


Kickoff: 1 p.m. ET (CBS)


Spread: Steelers -6


Three Things to Watch


1. Can Ben Roethlisberger outperform David Carr?

Roethlisberger is a potential Hall of Famer. Carr is a player casual fans probably can't name.


But Carr is the NFL's fifth-ranked passer and third in the AFC. Only Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Carson Palmer and Andy Dalton have a higher passer rating than Carr, whose 15:3 touchdown-to-interception ratio and better than 65 percent completion percentage stands out.


Roethlisberger, who struggled to overcome his knee injury in last week's 16-10 Steelers loss to Cincinnati, has a TD:INT ratio of 5:5.


The Raiders don't have a lot of burners, so look for them to utilize the traditional Oakland offensive weapon of throwing to their running backs — fullback Marcel Reece and Latavius Murray. It's helped them keep Carr upright and healthy this year, but the Steelers' evolving secondary may be able to make a big play if they are allowed to freelance.


Or get burned.


Roethlisberger could have the luxury of not having future Hall of Fame safety Charles Woodson in the Raiders' lineup. Woodson, along with defensive end and team sack leader Khalil Mack and linebacker Neiron Ball, did not practice earlier in the week.


2. Can DeAngelo Williams be a regular feature back at 32?

When Steelers' running back Le'Veon Bell was lost for the season after a knee injury last week, Pittsburgh lost the player that, had he not have been suspended at the start of the year for illegal drug use, would have likely been the NFL's leading rusher.


But during that suspension former Carolina running back DeAngelo Williams had two quality performances, rushing for 127 yards against New England and scoring three touchdowns against San Francisco.


Williams' statistics declined in his final years at Carolina for many reasons: age, sharing time with another back, and injury.


But an eight game stint for such a talented veteran sounds promising.


Whether he can match the performance of Murray is another story. Last week Murray rushed for 113 yards against the New York Jets, one of the tougher teams in the league against the run.


But he's also had two subpar games against Chicago and Denver, and the Raiders have lost both games.


3. Mike Tomlin's strategy.

There is a school of thought that if the Steelers' head coach hadn't gotten in the way, Pittsburgh could be 7-1.


Last week Tomlin allowed 38 seconds to tick off the clock rather than call a time out to stop the clock on the Cincinnati Bengals' final drive. On the ensuing drive, the Steelers drove to the Bengals' 14 yard line before time expired.


The play calls of the Steelers' 23-20 loss to Baltimore in overtime in Week Four led to Tomlin coming off the field commenting "My Bad."


The absurdity of asking Antonio Brown to throw a pass in the season opener halted what appeared to be a drive destined for a touchdown in a 28-21 loss to New England.


Still, Tomlin has never had a losing record as Steelers' head coach, has been to two Super Bowls, has hired two great coordinators and has never lost his team since taking the job in 2007.


Losing a game is a different story. In fact, Raiders' coach Jack Del Rio defeated Tomlin in a playoff game following the 2007 season primarily due to Tomlin's decision to go for two 2-point conversions towards the end of the game. The Steelers did not score on either, and lost to the Jacksonville Jaguars 31-29.


Final Analysis


The sad note about this game is it may be the last time the Steelers play the Raiders while they represent Oakland. Steelers-Raiders is the rivalry that originally defined the American Football Conference, and in the 13 years when the Raiders were in Los Angeles games between the two simply weren't the same.


Oakland Raiders means passion, fans wearing costumes, and AC/DC's "TNT" in the background. Los Angeles Raiders means empty seats, rap, and corporate greed.


So if the Raiders are destined to move after the season, be it to Los Angeles or San Antonio or St. Louis or London or wherever, then to many people this will be the last time the rivalry is really played.


It also means the Steelers will have played all three teams in the Los Angeles Derby this season. They've defeated the first two on the road, so it would figure Pittsburgh would do the same at home as well.


Prediction: Steelers 27, Raiders 21


— 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.

Oakland Raiders vs. Pittsburgh Steelers Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, November 6, 2015 - 13:30
Path: /nfl/washington-redskins-vs-new-england-patriots-preview-and-prediction-2015

The undefeated New England Patriots welcome the Washington Redskins (3-4) Sunday hoping to cap off the first half of their season with a perfect 8-0 record. The Patriots had an extended break following last Thursday's win over divisional rival Miami Dolphins and should be well rested and prepared for Kirk Cousins and the Redskins.


The Redskins are coming off a thrilling 31-30 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers that saw them put up 24 second-half points, including a touchdown in the closing seconds to pull out the win. Cousins threw for over 300 yards and should get even more help with the anticipated return of DeSean Jackson. He'll need all the help he can get against a Patriot defense that had their best performance of the season against Ryan Tannehill and the Miami Dolphins.


While the Patriots are rolling once again and are heavily favored in this game, the Redskins have put up a better fight on the road than their winless record away from Washington indicates. If a few early bounces go their way, this one could be a lot closer than many think.


Washington at New England


Kickoff: 1 p.m. ET (Sunday)


Spread: Patriots -14


Three Things to Watch


1. Can Garcon, Reed and Jackson challenge New England's secondary?

The Patriots' turnover at cornerback is well documented and while their starting trio of corners have been up and down this season, they've generally been solid. But the Pats' struggles with the deep ball in recent years is often their fatal flaw and goes against everything Bill Belichick's defensive philosophy stands for. Once again the Patriots are in the bottom 10 when it comes to 20-plus passing plays. What the Redskins need most is a quick strike, long touchdown pass to put the Patriots' offense in an early hole. That could help dictate how the game is played. If Jackson is back and his usual explosive self, there's no reason not to take multiple deep shots to him and hope Cousins can deliver some big plays without turnovers.


2. Patriots' pass rush progression

The Patriots' pass rush was on fire against the Dolphins, led by Chandler Jones, who currently is tied for the NFL lead in sacks. But don't let that fool you, their pass rush has been inconsistent in the early stages of the season. Now that they found some life they must continue to build upon it. Nothing makes a defense better than an unrelenting pass rush and it's been years since the Patriots consistently had one. They have the pieces in place now to do it, even with Jabaal Sheard still nursing an ankle injury. Regardless of how well Tom Brady plays, this team will go only as far as their front seven takes them. Stringing a second game of great pass rush would be a nice sign of progress for the defense and kill any Redskin upset attempt.


3. Redskins empty the playbook

There's no need for the Redskins to hold anything back in this one. Trick plays, onside kicks, fake punts, you name it, they should try it. Most of all they must play fearless in Foxborough and not hesitate to take chances on fourth down or send all-out blitzes at just the right time. Nothing gets you beat faster by the Patriots than playing timid and making mistakes due to indecision. They're big underdogs to one of the best teams in the league. No one really expects them to win, but it's always the teams that play with nothing to lose that give the Patriots a tough time when you'd expect it least. The Redskins should throw the kitchen sink at the Pats and hope it does some damage.


Final Analysis


The Redskins are coming off their biggest win of the season and nothing would build momentum better than handing the Patriots their first loss of the season, including their first meaningful home loss since 2012. But the Patriots are clicking in all aspects right now and it takes a special game to knock them off. Do the Redskins have the kind of mistake-free, fearless game in them that they'll need? Probably not.


Prediction: Patriots 35, Redskins 13


— Written by Mike Dussault, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and writer/editor of (@PatsPropaganda), a comprehensive blog covering the New England Patriots.

Washington Redskins vs. New England Patriots Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, November 6, 2015 - 13:15
All taxonomy terms: New Orleans Saints, Tennessee Titans, NFL
Path: /nfl/tennessee-titans-vs-new-orleans-saints-preview-and-prediction-2015

As dreadfully as this season has started for Tennessee, there is a glimmer of hope. Tennessee is only 2.5 games behind the leader of the AFC South, clearly the weakest division in the NFL. If the Titans still harbor any delusions of reaching the playoffs by winning the division, this game is vital.


The Saints have emerged from the trash heap after losing the first three games of 2015. New Orleans has won its last three contests. Although this is not a conference game, the Saints need to win in order to remain in serious contention for one of the NFC wild card berths.  


Tennessee leads the all-time series 7-5-1. In New Orleans, the Titans hold a 5-2 advantage. Nine of the previous meetings occurred when the Tennessee Titans were known as the Houston Oilers.


Tennessee at New Orleans


Kickoff: 1 p.m. ET (Sunday)


Spread: Saints -8


Three Things to Watch


1. Tennessee vs. New Orleans in offensive production

The Titans are averaging only 16.86 points per game. They have scored more than 14 points in a game only twice. When they have been held below their scoring average, they have lost all five games. 


The Saints are averaging 25 points on offense in each game. When the offense scores less than 20, they have lost all four times. In those four games when Drew Brees and company put up at least 20, they won all four.


The Saints have given up an average of 29.25 points per game. The Titans have allowed opponents to score 22.71 points on average. Tennessee's defense and special teams must cooperate to hold the Saints below 20 to have a realistic chance of winning. The Saints' defense cannot repeat its generosity as seen in the games versus the Eagles and Giants. If so, they risk giving the Titans a chance to pull off the upset.


2.  Protection of or pressure on Titans QB

The Titans' quarterbacks have been sacked four times per game on average. In losses by double digits, Tennessee allowed its quarterback to be sacked at least six times in each game. Those statistics do not bode well for the Titans, whether its starter Marcus Mariota or backup Zach Mettenberger out there.


The Saints have sacked opposing quarterbacks 3.75 times on average in their four victories. That pressure has helped New Orleans' struggling secondary. The Saints must put pressure on Mariota, who may not be as mobile after missing the past two games with a knee injury, or Mettenberger, who is a protoptypical pocket passer.


If Mariota returns, he will be making just his sixth career NFL start, will be doing so in a noted hostile environment, and coming back from injury. If Mariota shows rust or simply is ineffective, the Titans could turn back to Mettenberger, who has all of eight career starts under his belt and has thrown more interceptions (10) than touchdowns (9) in his career. Advantage New Orleans?


3. Brees continues to spread around the passes

In the past two weeks, Brees has thrown to nine different teammates in each game. Seven Saints caught at least two passes against the Giants. Six hauled in two or more versus the Colts. No one received more than nine. Six players scored at least one touchdown in those games. That diversity of targets has contributed to the turnaround for the Saints. It must continue against the Titans.


Final Analysis


The Saints are ascending, having won four of their last five games. The Titans are plummeting, having lost their last six contests. Those trends will continue on Sunday.


Prediction: Saints 41, Titans 16


— Written by John La Fleur, a contributor to, who focuses on the New Orleans Saints and Michigan State Spartans. He also frequently comments on other teams in the NFL and in NCAA football. Follow him on Twitter @FBConnoisseur.

Tennessee Titans vs. New Orleans Saints Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, November 6, 2015 - 13:00
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, NFL, Fantasy
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-five-up-five-down-eli-manning-mike-evans-andrew-luck-ladarius-green-week-9

After the bloodbath that was Week 8, we are treated with six teams on bye for Week 9 of the fantasy season. It's a struggle to fill your roster with healthy players, forget about healthy players with good matchups. However, we do look each week at players who are poised to either have a good game or a rough game.


Full disclosure: last week's five up (Matt Ryan, Doug Martin, Chris Johnson, Brandon Marshall, Tyler Eifert) were pretty good. The five down (Ben Roethlisberger, Ameer Abdullah, Martavis Bryant, Travis Benjamin, Jimmy Graham) were also not bad (except for Graham).


Again, this is not a straight start/sit column, but rather guys that our rankings are either up or down based on their previous performance and matchup.


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


Teams on bye: Arizona, Baltimore, Detroit, Houston, Kansas City, Seattle


Five Up


Eli Manning, QB, New York Giants

Six touchdowns. 350 yards. No interceptions. Manning was great in Week 8 against a terrible New Orleans secondary. However, this week, Manning is the sixth-ranked quarterback against an equally terrible Buccaneers secondary. The Tampa Bay run defense is actually pretty solid, however, their secondary is easily beatable. They have allowed two different quarterbacks to throw for four touchdowns against them, and five of the seven opposing quarterbacks to throw for at least two touchdowns. Look for Manning to have a good fantasy day.


Jeremy Langford, RB, Chicago Bears 

The San Diego Chargers allow the third-most fantasy points to opposing running backs, and Langford is going to be the lead back for the Bears. Chicago has already come out and said that he should get 20 carries this week. With 20 carries against a terrible rush defense, Langford has a very real opportunity to finish the week as a top-10 back, if not higher. He is ranked ninth among running backs for Week 9, and although we don't have a large sample size to look at, he's worth the start this week.


Eddie Lacy, RB, Green Bay Packers

While Carolina's defense has been solid, they actually allow the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs. While Lacy and James Starks both had carries in Week 8, the Packers still want Lacy as their primary back. This game may end up being close, and the Packers are going to have to find a way to get through the Panthers defense. The way through is on the ground. Lacy can pound through and put up solid fantasy numbers. Add in a touchdown and he's a borderline RB1.


Mike Evans, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The New York Giants give up the fifth-most points to opposing wide receivers (and, actually, the most points against opposing tight ends for those looking to start Austin Seferian-Jenkins, if he's active). Vincent Jackson is looking like he won't play either, which means plenty of targets for Evans. He had nine targets in Week 8, but he was only able to catch three of those passes. The Giants' pass defense is one of the worst in the league, and absolutely worse than Atlanta's. Look for Evans to take advantage of that leaky pass defense.


Jordan Reed, TE, Washington Redskins 

While the New England Patriots have allowed the sixth-fewest fantasy points to opposing tight ends, they have allowed two tight ends to score touchdowns. They also haven't faced many TE1s. Even though DeSean Jackson may return this week, Reed will still get his share of targets. Kirk Cousins likes Reed in the red zone, and there will likely be plenty of garbage time in this matchup. Cousins will be throwing the ball, and garbage time points count just as much as non-garbage time points for fantasy.


Five Down


Andrew Luck, QB, Indianapolis Colts

If you just look at the box scores at the end of the week, Luck hasn't been terrible, throwing at least one touchdown in each of the games he's played this season and at least 250 yards. He has two games where he threw for three touchdowns and really, the only stat that hurts is the interceptions. Luck has thrown 13 touchdowns and 12 interceptions this season. Against the Denver Broncos, the interceptions are sure to go up. The Broncos held Aaron Rodgers to 77 yards in Week 8, and Rodgers has been playing on a higher level than Luck. Luck is ranked outside the top 10 in the quarterback rankings for Week 9. if possible, find another option.


Related: Why You Should Sit Andrew Luck and Other QB/DST Start/Sit Fantasy Advice for Week 9


Tyrod Taylor, QB, Buffalo Bills

In Week 3, the Bills played the Dolphins for the first time this season. Taylor had his best game of the season, throwing for 277 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions. In Week 9, the Bills play the Dolphins again. However, Taylor is on the "down" list. He missed the past two weeks with a knee injury. Last week, the Bills were on a bye. The Dolphins' defense is better now than it was in Week 3. Sammy Watkins is banged up and questionable; Percy Harvin is out. Without solid weapons, Taylor's value goes down. He's no longer on the QB1 radar, even in a week with six teams on a bye.


DeAngelo Williams, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers

While most fantasy owners spent a lot of FAAB money to acquire D-Will, if possible, keep him on your bench this week. The Oakland Raiders actually have the second-best rush defense in the league. They've allowed the second-fewest rushing yards and the second-fewest rushing touchdowns (three). While Williams did do well when Le'Veon Bell was out at the beginning of the season, this isn't the week where he is going to shine. Look for Big Ben to get back on track and Antonio Brown to have a good game. Williams may get goal-line work, but unless he gets in the end zone, it will likely be a mediocre fantasy day.


T.Y. Hilton, WR, Indianapolis Colts

Between the matchup against Denver (who has allowed the fewest fantasy points to opposing wide receivers) and the fact that he hasn't practiced and may not even play, try to find a way to bench Hilton, if possible. If Hilton is out, Donte Moncrief becomes a wide receiver who is likely to disappoint this week. Hilton is the 21st-ranked WR this week, but that even seems high. He had one reception for 15 yards in Week 8. While he did have a big game in Week 7, it was only on four receptions (he just had 150 yards and two touchdowns). Hilton (or Moncrief) is going to have a tough time in Week 9.


Related: Bold Fantasy Predictions for Week 9 in the NFL


Ladarius Green, TE, San Diego Chargers

Similar to the downside of Hilton, Green is banged up (he didn't practice on Thursday) and he has a tough matchup. While the Bears aren't great on defense, they actually have allowed the fifth-fewest fantasy points to opposing tight ends. Even with Keenan Allen out for the season, Green still will play behind Antonio Gates. While Green's value is in the end zone, he isn't a fantasy option unless you're desperate this week. Ranked 24th with six teams on a bye, Green should be left on fantasy benches.


— 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:: Eli Manning, Mike Evans Up; Andrew Luck, Ladarius Green Down in Week 9
Post date: Friday, November 6, 2015 - 11:00
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, NFL, Fantasy
Path: /fantasy/bold-fantasy-predicitions-week-9-nfl

It’s that wonderful time of the week again to peer into my magical crystal ball and instead of the it giving me winning lottery numbers, it just gives me outrageous and sometimes hilarious fantasy predictions.


This week though it appears the magic crystal ball is in a bit of a sour mood because instead of the usual positive predictions, this week there are more negative ones than ever before!


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


Teams on bye: Arizona, Baltimore, Detroit, Houston, Kansas City, Seattle


Now onto the predictions!


DeAngelo Williams is A Bum (At Least for This Week)

If you were smart enough to stash Williams on your bench and/or get him as Le'Veon Bell’s handcuff, well played. If not, you probably tried to blow your entire FAAB budget this week to get him on your roster, which isn’t a terrible idea. Number one running backs on explosive offenses don’t usually become available this late in the season. The problem for all you new found Williams’ owners is this week the Steelers play the Raiders. The Raiders might have the most underrated defense in all of football. But this could be changing following last week's effort in which they held Chris Ivory to 17 yards on 15 carries. Everyone thinking that Williams will step in and instantly duplicate what he did in Weeks 1 and 2 when Bell was suspended should think again. Williams won’t even get 75 total yards this week against the Raiders.


Adrian Peterson and Todd Gurley Struggle, Barely Get 100 Yards COMBINED

Over the past three weeks guess who’s the No. 1 and No. 2 rush defenses in the NFL? If you guessed the St. Louis Rams and Minnesota Vikings, you win a prize (to be determined — never). Throw in the fact that Adrian Peterson is starting to show his age and is a little banged up, and you have a game that might end up 13-10. The only saving grace here is that even if Gurley is averaging 2.2 yards per carry, you know that Jeff Fisher is going to keep giving him the ball. This is going to be an ugly, ugly game.


Stevie Johnson Produces More Than 20 Fantasy Points On Monday Night

Johnson couldn’t find himself with a better opportunity. He’s finally healthy. Keenan Allen, The Chargers’ No. 1 receiver, is out for the year due to a lacerated kidney. Antonio Gates will still be Philip Rivers' go-to target, but Gates will be playing limited snaps like he did last week due to his MCL sprain. Throw in the fact that there really is no other competition for the No. 1 receiver spot (Malcolm Floyd is 34 years old and not capable of being the No. 1 receiver) and the only guy you have left standing is Johnson. It also helps that the Chargers are hosting the Chicago Bears and their defense that has given up the third-most fantasy points to wide receivers, and you’ve got a game where Johnson will be fantasy gold.


T.Y. Hilton, Randall Cobb and Allen Robinson Don’t Score 20 Fantasy Points COMBINED

It’s another tough week for Hilton and Cobb owners, but that shouldn’t be surprising since the two of them have been fantasy irrelevant all season. At least Robinson has played like a true WR1, even though he was drafted as a WR3 or WR4. This week none of these studs are going to do much fantasy-wise. Hilton and the Colts play the Broncos — enough said. Cobb can’t get open to save his life and will be covered by Josh Norman of the Carolina Panthers this week. Robinson is playing in New York against the Jets and he will be lined up against Darrelle Revis. If you’re smart you’ll bench these guys this week, but you probably won’t.


Jacob Tamme Plays Like Rob Gronkowski and Goes For 100-Plus Yards and 2 TDs

Some of you may be reading this and laughing to yourself because you didn’t even know that Tamme was still in the league. Didn’t Tamme disappear once Peyton Manning left Indianapolis? Apparently not. Now Tamme is the go-to tight end on a Falcons offense that is pretty darn good. All you really need to know is that whenever No. 2 wide receiver Leonard Hankerson doesn’t play, Tamme has a huge game. In the first game that Hankerson missed this season, Tamme caught eight passes for 94 yards. Then last week with Hankerson on the sidelines, Tamme went off for 10 catches, 103 yards and a touchdown. As Mat Ryan’s number No. 2 target this week against the 49ers you can bet that Tamme will get another 10-plus targets, another 100 receiving yards and this time he’ll score two touchdowns.


Drew Brees Does It Again! Well, Almost

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, by now I’m sure you’ve heard about this little game that was held in New Orleans last week between the Giants and the Saints. A game that ended 52-49 in which Brees threw for more than 500 yards and seven, yes seven, touchdowns. This week the lowly Tennessee Titans come marching into town and what will Brees do for an encore? Well, unfortunately 500 passing yards and another seven touchdowns is out of the equation because the Titans' offense isn’t good enough to keep up. But Brees will easily put up another 400 yards passing and four TDs this week, by the end of the third quarter.


The only other predictions that I have left are way too easy.


Like Andrew Luck will throw four interceptions this week against Denver. That’s not a bold prediction. Neither is Tom Brady will throw for five touchdown passes against the Redskins. Both those things are likely to happen.


So that’s it for this week’s predictions.


— 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.

Bold Fantasy Predictions for Week 9 in the NFL
Post date: Friday, November 6, 2015 - 10:30
Path: /college-football/iowa-hawkeyes-improve-8-0-center-college-football-playoff-controversy

With the win over Maryland this past Saturday, this Iowa team has entered a territory that only one other team in program history has ever reached before.


After a 31-15 victory over the Maryland Terrapins, the Hawkeyes remained at No. 10 in the weekly AP poll, but the victory gave the Hawkeyes something much more important — it added yet another win to their current unblemished record of 8-0.


This is only the second time in school history that the Hawkeyes have won eight games to start a season and if they’re able to pull out a victory against the Indiana Hoosiers on Saturday, it’ll tie for the best start in school history set by the magical 2009 team that ended up finishing 11-2 with a win in the Orange Bowl.


Related: Iowa Hawkeyes vs. Indiana Hoosiers Preview and Prediction


In the state of Iowa, you can just feel the optimism conjuring up, as local media, fans, and even the players are starting to see this team as serious contenders for the second annual College Football Playoff, and to be quite honest, they might not be wrong. For one, the Hawkeyes were ninth in the initial College Football Playoff rankings. There's still plenty of games left to play and work to be done, but that's not a bad place to be the first week of November either.


When you start breaking down what has the made the Hawkeyes so successful this season, it really isn’t all that hard to pinpoint. It’s fairly obvious when you break down the tape that the Hawkeyes excel at three things, the most notable being the ground game.


As usual with a Kirk Ferentz-coached team, you can expect sound offensive line play and a strong running game. However, in recent years although the offensive line play has been above average, the run game has lacked a necessary explosiveness to really elevate the offense to another level of success. This season that has changed entirely, whether it’s LeShun Daniels, Jordan Canzeri, or Akrum Wadley, each back has been able to step into the starting lineup and make explosive, game-changing plays, allowing the Hawkeyes to not only control the time of possession, but also put points up on the board.


The second aspect of this Hawkeye team that really stands out is its ability to force turnovers. In fact, the Hawkeyes are currently tied for fourth in the country for turnovers gained. In this regard, the Hawkeyes are led by star defensive back Desmond King, who leads the country in interceptions with seven in eight games. In addition, the Hawkeyes as a unit have forced 19 turnovers so far this season (7 fumble recoveries, 12 interceptions) and I don’t see that slowing down anytime soon.


Staying on the defensive side of the ball, the Hawkeyes, despite a season-ending injury to Drew Ott, have only allowed one rushing touchdown all season and having been stingy against the run overalll. Seems like common sense, but when a defense is able to make an opposing offense one-dimensional, it can make up significantly for areas of weakness. The Hawkeyes' ability to stop the run has been spectacular thus far, but this Saturday they face what I see to be their toughest test of the season, with Indiana’s running back duo of Devine Redding and a full-strength Jordan Howard. It’ll be very interesting to see how the Hawkeyes are able to perform against two very talented running backs.


To sum it all up, the Hawkeyes have an excellent running game, solid offensive line play (yes, I know the Wisconsin game was a thing), a great run defense, and a very opportunistic, turnover hungry defense. Ten years ago or maybe even more recently, that kind of team build would be viewed as a formula to win a championship. However, outlets such as ESPN, FOX Sports, etc. seem convinced that the Hawkeyes need to start picking up “style points.” How somebody defines the concept of style points is beyond the head of any intelligent evaluator. I would say that forcing 19 turnovers and running the ball very effectively has some really nice style to it, but that might just be me.


To be fair, it isn’t just sports media outlets that are docking the Hawkeyes some points in the style department. In fact, College Football Playoff committee chairman Jeff Long, said as much after the first rankings came out on Tuesday.



Although the committee has shown the willingness to adjust their rankings from to week to week, this is a statement that basically says, “We don’t care as much about quality wins, as we do about how explosive a team’s offense is.” That is very concerning for Hawkeye coaches, players, and fans, because when you look at the makeup of Iowa's roster, they’re simply just not built to explode on offense. Instead, they’re built to control time of possession, pick up yards on the ground, force turnovers, and win the battle at the line of scrimmage. Nothing about that is “flashy,” but nevertheless it wins football games and that’s where the committee needs to adjust their line of thinking.

On Saturday, the Hawkeyes will take on an underrated Indiana Hoosiers team that has in recent weeks been hampered by injuries to a couple of key players. With Howard and quarterback Nate Sudfeld both back and fully healthy it’ll be one of the Hawkeyes' toughest tests of the season, and it will be very interesting to see how they perform.


— Written by Rob Donaldson, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. An NFL Draft analyst and writer for, Donaldson also recently founded his own site,, and also pays careful attention to his beloved Iowa Hawkeyes and Pittsburgh Steelers. Follow him on Twitter @RobDonaldsonOTC.

Iowa Hawkeyes Improve to 8-0; Center of College Football Playoff Controversy
Post date: Friday, November 6, 2015 - 10:05
Path: /college-football/california-golden-bears-vs-oregon-ducks-preview-and-prediction-2015

Since falling to .500 with back-to-back home, Pac-12 losses, defending conference champion Oregon has gone through a mini-surge. 


The Ducks outlasted Arizona State in a 61-55, triple-overtime thriller last week for their first winning streak of the season. Oregon can make it three in a row, and stay alive in the chase for the Pac-12 North, against suddenly sputtering Cal


Since breaking into the Top 25, Cal dropped three straight against Utah, UCLA and USC. 


To get the bad taste of losing out of his teammates' mouths, Cal defensive lineman Jalil Mustafa brought roasted duck to a press conference. 



Oregon offensive tackle Tyler Johnstone fired back. 


"We've always trashed Cal, pretty much embarrassed them every time we've played them," Johnstone said, via Comcast Sportsnet Northwest's Briana Amaranthus.


The food fight plays out on the field Saturday at Autzen Stadium. 


Cal at Oregon 


Kickoff: 10:30 p.m. ET (Saturday)


Spread: Oregon -4.5 


Three Things to Watch 


1. Vernon Adams Taking Flight

A fully healthy Vernon Adams quarterbacking the Oregon offense proved worth the wait. Adams was electric in the Ducks' 61-55 win at Arizona State, passing for 315 yards and four touchdowns — both highs since joining the program. 


Adams showed off the big arm and uncanny ability to escape that made him a star at Eastern Washington. With the ill effects of a broken finger seemingly gone, Adams has the ability to take the Oregon offense back into a direction more reflective of recent Duck teams. 


The Ducks had struggled to balance a consistent passing game with the Pac-12-leading rushing pace of running back Royce Freeman. Now, expect a more balanced — and thus, more dangerous — look from Oregon. 


2. Getting to Goff

Cal's star quarterback, junior Jared Goff, has just two multiple-interception games this season. No coincidence that both were in losses. 


Goff threw five against Utah and two last week against USC. 


The Utes and Trojans both successfully bottled up Cal's run game, while also applying pressure to Goff. While Oregon hasn't been the turnover-generating machine this season like past Duck defenses, it does have a pass-rush threat in DeForest Buckner. 


Buckner has at least one sack in each of Oregon's last three games, and two tackles for loss each contest in that same stretch. Buckner's ability to wreak havoc in the backfield will set the tone for the Oregon defense. 


3. Big Pass Plays

Despite the mini-resurgence Oregon's enjoying, its most glaring issue remained problematic at Arizona State. The Ducks' secondary, bearing some of the responsibility for a No. 126 national ranking against the pass, gave up 398 yards and five touchdowns to Sun Devil quarterback Mike Bercovici. 


Oregon was just one game removed from yielding 505 yards to Washington State's Luke Falk. 


At 2,537 yards, Goff is the Pac-12's second-most prolific passer behind Falk. Cal's recent struggles to establish the run might not matter if Goff starts cooking against an oftentimes porous Ducks secondary. 


Final Analysis 


Cal and Oregon are both case-studies in how quickly a season can turn. The Golden Bears looked like viable Pac-12 championship candidates midway through October, but are now struggling just to gain bowl eligibility. 


Oregon faced down a possible sub-.500 record and the end of its reign atop the conference a few weeks ago. The Ducks now harbor slim, albeit still realistic North division title aspirations after winning two straight. 


The theme Saturday in Autzen Stadium is growing confidence vs. growing desperation. Look for both to swell by night's end. 


Prediction: Oregon 45, Cal 38


— Written by Kyle Kensing, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a sportswriter in Southern California. Kensing is publisher of Follow him on Twitter @kensing45.

California Golden Bears vs. Oregon Ducks Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, November 6, 2015 - 10:00
Path: /college-football/arizona-wildcats-vs-usc-trojans-preview-and-prediction-2015

The Arizona Wildcats and USC Trojans were expected to enter Saturday's game with the Pac-12 South on the line and a chance at a New Year's Day bowl. With the College Football Playoff well out of reach for both teams, Saturday's game becomes more about survival and bowl eligibility than anything else. With five wins apiece and some tough games remaining for both teams, Saturday is a golden opportunity for either team to start their final push on the front foot.


USC head coach Clay Helton has been an inspiring force behind USC's success this season after starting his interim campaign with a hard-to-swallow loss to an Irish team that looked down and out early in the game. In keeping with their recent theme of blowing late leads, the Trojans squandered away a fourth quarter lead, ended up losing in South Bend and all signs pointed to more of the same. Then the Trojans welcomed the No. 3 Utah Utes into the Coliseum the next week. Instead of folding, USC sent them back to Utah with a humiliating defeat and a loud statement that this team was down, not out.


While the score line at Cal read much differently than the one at the Coliseum, many pundits came away feeling like that was one of USC's most complete games of the season. More important than winning the game, the Trojans showed they could put an opponent away late in the game, create mayhem on defense, move the ball almost at will, and create long, sustained drives capable of milking the clock and resulting in points. In all, USC played a fantastic game and nobody looking at the box sheets would have noticed.


Quarterback Cody Kessler stuck to the same script he used against Utah and the results were the same. Never doing more than he needed, Kessler finished the night 18-of-22 for 186 yards and zero touchdowns. USC didn't even have a running back with more than 100 yards — Ronald Jones II grabbed 80, Tre Madden had 64, and Justin Davis supplemented with an additional 42. Deontay Burnett, a true freshman and a blueshirt, led the entire receiving corps with 82 yards.


If anyone had predicted the Trojans would pass for less than 200 yards, would not produce a 100-yard rusher, wouldn't have a single receiver over 100 yards and would beat Cal on the road in a dominant performance, they would have crucified and yet that's exactly what happened on Saturday. The Trojans shut down Cal's offense and held them to a season low in total yards. Magical things happen when teams are efficient on offense, run ball, stop the run, and take care of the football. Helton has instilled that mantra into this USC team and they're running with it.


There can be no denying that Arizona isn't having their finest year and the spread for this game (-17.5) is probably fair. Like Cal the week before, Arizona are coming off two back-to-back losses and struggling to stay afloat in the conference race. Fortunately for the Wildcats, three of their four losses are to Pac-12 North teams, which means that they still have it all to play for in the coming weeks. Finishing strong with USC, Utah, and Arizona State is a tough ask for anyone, but the Wildcats have been a resilient and surprising program under head coach Rich Rodriguez. Don't be surprised if they win a game or two that the stats say they should lose.


Arizona at USC


Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET (Saturday)


Spread: USC -17.5


Three Things to Watch


1. USC's Ability to Stop the Wildcat Offense

The Wildcats rank No. 2 in the Pac-12 in scoring, total offense, and rushing, and they are No. 1 in the conference in first downs gained. Much of this offense is set up by their ability to run the football and run it with relative ease. Senior RB Jared Baker needs only 130 yards to go over 1,000 for the season and he had three touchdowns against USC last year.


The Wildcats made it a point to emphasize their three-headed rushing attack this week, noting that the 'Cats have a trio of 500-yard rushers for the first time since 1991. While leading rusher Nick Wilson has been sidelined with an injury for a spell, QB Jerrard Randall has filled in the gaps with 685 rushing yards as the Wildcats try to funnel their offense through Baker instead of Wilson. They've done this successfully, most of 559 yards have come in the last three games. He will surely be someone to watch.


As if the running backs weren't enough to worry about, the Wildcats have four receivers more than capable of torching a defensive game plan. As it currently stands, Samajie Grant, Cayleb Jones, Nate Phillips, and Dave Richards have amassed 5,246 receiving yards and 39 touchdowns in their careers. Five 'Zona receivers have 20+ receptions in 2015, that puts them at No. 3 in the nation in that category.


The Wildcats are also No. 4 in the nation with 6.05 yards per carry, tied for No. 7 with 25 rushing touchdowns, tied for No. 6 in the nation with 66 rushing plays of ten or more yards, and are tied for No. 1 in the nation with 15 rushing plays of more than 30 yards. As a team, the Wildcats average 265 rushing yards per game, good enough to put them at No. 11 in the nation. They can move the ball in a hurry and score easily.


2. Staying True to What Works

The Trojans have managed to revitalize their season by keeping it simple. For far too long, a criticism surrounding the USC program was almost Arsenal-like; the Trojans simply had to walk the ball in instead of getting it there by any means necessary. The Trojans always had the bodies to be the most physically dominant team in the conference, but coaches were trying to finesse the ball into tight spaces instead of running over them. There is probably no way to quantify the number of times "getting cute" cost the Trojans in tight ball games, but ask around and people could tell you all about it. Now that has changed.


The Trojans have gone back to a more physical rushing attack and used their stable of backs to keep defenses guessing. This has given USC myriad options when sending in the play-calls. By mixing in the run game, the Trojans have opened up things for their speedier receivers and playmakers like Adoree' Jackson. When USC make teams honor the run, there simply aren't enough college corners capable of covering their receivers in space, let alone tracking them down once they are running free. The Trojans have balanced the run and the pass, and moved away from forcing the offense through one or two players. Former head coach Steve Sarkisian had the distribution down, but Helton has transformed this offense into a far more efficient beast by simplifying the offense.


Related: USC Running Backs Prove the Value of Sharing


3. USC Must Eliminate Penalties

November is that month of the season where the little things come back to hurt you just a little bit more. Everybody wants the game a little bit more. Some teams need games a little bit more. The high stakes nature of the final season push magnify team performances like no other. Now more than ever, USC must eliminate penalties if they want to keep pace in the Pac-12 South crown.   


The Trojans currently ranked eleventh in the conference for penalties with 551 total yards, an average of 68.9 yards per game. Only UCLA are worse in the Pac-12 with 78.1 yards per game in penalties. On a national level, the Trojans are ranked No. 102 in penalties. Worse than that, the Trojans are ranked No. 117 in the nation when it comes to drawing penalties on their opponents. USC's opponents average fewer than five (4.4) flags per game and just 42 yards of penalties.


It's one thing to give opponents free yards, it's an entirely different thing to beat yourself with mistakes when your opponent is playing a clean game. USC is often most impacted by these mistakes following chunk plays on offense. Though the Trojans have cleaned up some of their mistakes under Helton, penalties have been business as usual under this staff. USC spotted Cal 65 yards of penalties on just six flags. The Golden Bears had only 26 yards of penalties. In a game decided by less than a touchdown, these are the types of mistakes that can cost teams a victory.


Final Analysis


USC is riding a wave of momentum right and this is too big of an ask for an Arizona team without several of their leaders. Even though USC is limited by injuries, the Trojans are bringing more guns to this fight than the Wildcats and the results ought to match. What should be on paper hasn't always been the reality, however, as these two have put on some thrilling contests in recent years.


USC know that it can expect a fight from the Wildcats, but should be able stall the Wildcats' ability to rush the ball and force them into a passing game. USC has done a tremendous job of limiting guys like Devontae Booker and Daniel Lesco, so they should be up to the challenge this weekend. USC and Arizona almost always entertain, but this game doesn't quite have that feel.


The Trojans know they need this one and Helton will have the team prepared accordingly.


Prediction: USC 41, Arizona 22


— Written by Josh Webb, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a sportswriter in Southern California. Webb is a recruiting analyst for BarkBoard, Scout’s Fresno State affiliate. A contributor to, Scout’s USC affiliate. He is also a regular guest and contributor for Reign Of Troy, USC’s FanSided affiliate. Follow him on Twitter @FightOnTwist.

Arizona Wildcats vs. USC Trojans Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, November 6, 2015 - 09:55
Path: /college-football/minnesota-golden-gophers-vs-ohio-state-buckeyes-preview-and-prediction-2015

Ohio State fans, coaches, and players alike all looked forward to the bye week. With opportunities to recuperate from the aches and bruises of the 2015 college football season, recruit talented players from around the country, or even promote a newly-released book that discusses leadership, everyone closely associated with the Ohio State football program all looked forward to what seemed like a quiet Halloween weekend.


As former Texas Governor Rick Perry might say, "Oops".


Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett, recently promoted to the starting position, was cited by Columbus police for OVI in the early morning hours of Oct. 31. Urban Meyer promptly suspended Barrett for the game against Minnesota, and announced that Barrett's scholarship would be revoked for the summer of 2016. Meyer also stated that Barrett would have the opportunity to earn his scholarship back, based on Barrett's behavior going forward.



While the national media has been focusing on Barrett's suspension, and Meyer's handling of it, Minnesota has had more issues to confront and deal with over the past two weeks. On Oct. 28, Jerry Kill announced his immediate resignation, due to health issues related to epilepsy. Kill had battled seizures since his tenure began as Minnesota's head coach, but the concerns became more pronounced to effectively force Kill's retirement. Interim head coach Tracy Claeys led Minnesota admirably against the Michigan Wolverines, yet Minnesota was unable to defeat Michigan in the closing seconds. The painful loss, at home, only seemed to conclude what was already a difficult week.


Minnesota at Ohio State


Kickoff: 8 p.m. ET (Saturday)


Spread: Ohio State -23.5


Three Things To Watch


1. The Return of Cardale Jones as Ohio State's Starting Quarterback

Jones has been named the starting quarterback by Urban Meyer for the Minnesota game, with former quarterback-turned wide receiver Braxton Miller listed as Jones' backup. With Barrett suspended, the opportunity is there for Jones to reclaim the starting quarterback position with a strong performance against a solid Minnesota defense. Ohio State fans easily recall how Jones played last season during the 2014 national championship run. Will Jones duplicate his 2014 carefree style of play, with Barrett suspended?


2. Braxton Miller And the Ohio State Red Zone Offense

The move of Miller to the backup quarterback position behind Cardale Jones sparked speculation that Miller would be the designated red zone threat, in the fashion that Barrett was before he was suspended. If Miller lines up behind the center, will Miller merely run the ball, or has Miller's shoulder improved enough to allow him to throw it?


3. Minnesota's Recovery

Difficult to gauge until the game begins, but what is the collective confidence level of this Golden Gophers squad? Minnesota enters the game at Ohio State with a 4-4 record. Unexpectedly losing their respected head coach, coupled with a painful home loss, leads to the questions wondering how much intensity this team has left in the tank.


Final Analysis


Minnesota has not visited Ohio Stadium since the 2009 season. Any night game in Ohio Stadium usually brings out the best in Buckeye fans, who relish the opportunity to tailgate all day prior to kickoff. Cardale Jones has a chance to reclaim the starting quarterback position, knowing the coaching staff does not have the luxury of J.T. Barrett on the sidelines for this game. Look for Jones to play with a more relaxed and confident demeanor, similar to his performances against Wisconsin, Alabama, and Oregon from the 2014 national championship run.


Prediction:  Ohio State 35, Minnesota 14


— Written by Chip Minnich, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a diehard Ohio State fan. Minnich also writes and podcasts for, a site dedicated to Ohio sports with a special emphasis on the Buckeyes. Follow him on Twitter @ChipMinnich.

Minnesota Golden Gophers vs. Ohio State Buckeyes Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, November 6, 2015 - 09:50
Path: /college-football/utah-utes-vs-washington-huskies-preview-and-prediction-2015

Points could be in short supply when Utah travels to Seattle to face Washington. The Utes and the Huskies have emerged as two of the Pac-12's strongest defensive teams this season.


Washington leads the Pac-12 in scoring defense and red-zone defense. The Huskies have allowed opponents to score just ten touchdowns in 28 trips inside the 20-yard line (35.7 percent). They have allowed just 16.9 points per game in eight games this season. Washington has outscored its opponents in every quarter this season, including a 104-28 third-quarter advantage.


Utah is no slouch either in containing opposing offenses. The Utes lead the Pac-12 in rushing defense, allowing just 113.1 yards per game on the ground. They are second in scoring defense, allowing just 21.4 points per game. Utah leads the league with 13 interceptions and ranks second in turnover margin (+8) behind USC.


Washington ranks second in the Pac-12 in total defense, allowing 360 yards per game. Utah is third with 363.6 yards per contest.


The Utes are still seeking their first win against the Huskies. Washington leads the all-time series 8-0 and it won both previous Pac-12 meetings in 2011 and '12 by an average margin of 18 points.


Utah at Washington


Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET (Saturday)


Spread: Washington -1.5


Three Things to Watch


1. Huskies' Youth Movement

Youth is being served in Seattle. Fifty-two true and redshirt freshmen are on the Washington football roster this season. Many of these newcomers have had a tremendous impact in their first year with the Huskies. True freshman RB Myles Gaskin has rushed for more than 100 yards in three consecutive games. Gaskin leads the team with 655 yards and six touchdowns on 108 carries. True freshman QB Jake Browning has also progressed nicely. Browning has thrown for 1,595 yards and 10 touchdowns on 127-of-203 passing through seven games.


2. Reaching for a Thousand

Senior RB Devontae Booker means everything to Utah's offense. He's the sort of player that does a little bit of everything offensively for the Utes. Booker is closing in on a second straight 1,000-yard rushing season. He has 966 yards and nine touchdowns on 200 carries. Booker is averaging 124.2 yards per game in Pac-12 play. So far this season, he has accounted for 68 percent of Utah's total rushing yards and 40 percent of the team's combined rushing and receiving yards.


3. Switching Sides

Chase Hansen began the season pegged as Utah's quarterback of the future. The redshirt freshman could end up taking a different path after this season. Hansen has seen time at safety in recent games and is quickly showing potential to become an elite defensive playmaker. He made his first appearance at safety against Arizona State and is now No. 2 in the depth chart at strong safety behind Tevin Carter. Hansen recorded his first career sack against Oregon State. Utah coach Kyle Whittingham indicated this week that Hansen will see even more playing time on defense against Washington. Whittingham sees a bright future for Hansen if he remains on defense and said this week that Hansen, with a little extra weight, could fill a spot at linebacker in 2016 and beyond.


Final Analysis


Fans of defensive battles will love seeing this game. With both teams so evenly matched on that side of the ball, the difference will come down to which offense can be more consistent over four quarters. Utah has been more productive offensively, even while struggling with consistency at times. Washington, on the other hand, has had a difficult time putting points on the board against most defenses. This one should go down to the wire, but the Huskies will not take a bite out of Utah's Pac-12 South title hopes.


Prediction: Utah 20, Washington 17


— Written by John Coon, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Coon has more than a decade of experience covering sports for different publications and outlets, including The Associated Press, Salt Lake Tribune, ESPN, Deseret News, MaxPreps, Yahoo! Sports and many others. Follow him on Twitter @johncoonsports.

Utah Utes vs. Washington Huskies Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, November 6, 2015 - 09:45
Path: /college-football/auburn-tigers-vs-texas-am-aggies-preview-and-prediction-2015

When SEC West foes Auburn (4-4, 1-4) and Texas A&M (6-2, 3-2) take the field in College Station on Saturday, the game will feature offensive geniuses and defensive masterminds squaring off against one another on alternate sidelines, but the play on the field will highlight two programs seeking positive results going forward.


Of the two programs, the Aggies still have a quality season to play for with a 10-3 record in 2015 within reach. The Aggies’ coaching staff, for now, is set with offensive-minded Kevin Sumlin at the helm, coordinator Jake Spavital calling the plays, and John Chavis directing a much-improved defense from a year ago.


In Week 9, A&M put together an offensive show, coming up with 544 yards of offense en route to a 35-28 home win over South Carolina. The Aggies defense was gouged for 445 yards but only allowed the Gamecocks to convert 5-of-13 third down attempts, stuffed one lone fourth-down try, and came up with two Perry Orth interceptions showing enough signs of life to get the win.


Auburn on the other hand is two games shy of being bowl eligible but are running out of opponents to hit the needed six win mark. After traveling to A&M, Auburn faces Georgia, Idaho, and Alabama all at home putting a greater emphasis on sneaking out of College Station with a “W.”


The Tigers have dropped their last two games, against Arkansas (54-46 in OT) and then- No. 19 Ole Miss (27-19). Auburn has made the switch from junior Jeremy Johnson under center to freshman Sean White. White has proven to be slightly more accurate than Johnson but the freshman has had trouble finding the end zone with his arm. In 125 pass attempts White has just one touchdown pass coming against Ole Miss last week.


Auburn at Texas A&M


Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET (Saturday)

Coverage: SEC Network

Line: Texas A&M -7


Three Things to Watch


1. Auburn Rushing Offense vs. Texas A&M Rush Defense

The Tigers have been a ground rushing juggernaut under head coach Gus Malzahn finishing 2014 as the No. 13 unit in the country averaging 256 yards a game. This season, without running back Cameron Artis-Payne and quarterback Nick Marshall, a collective 2,406 yards of ground production from last season, Auburn has slipped to picking up an average of 174 yards a game.


The Aggies have not had success stopping the run, allowing 207 yards a game. If Auburn can exploit A&M’s weaknesses up the middle, taking pressure off Sean White to win the game with his arm, a road win could be in play. Trouble is Auburn’s top rusher, junior running back Peyton Barber (787 yards), was held to 17 yards on eight carries against Ole Miss before leaving the game with an undisclosed injury. Barber has been at practice this week but Malzahn has not offered details on the injury nor the extent of Barber’s participation in drills.


Junior college transfer Jovon Robinson stepped in against Ole Miss living up to some preseason expectations rushing 18 times for 91 yards.


2. Freshman QB Kyler Murray vs. Auburn’s Defense

If one complete game is a big enough sample size for projecting the next Johnny Manziel or Robert Griffin III, then Kyler Murray is the man. Murray picked South Carolina apart hitting 20-of-28 pass attempts for 223 yards with one touchdown tossed. The true freshman also ran 20 times for 156 yards with another score but more importantly did not turn the ball over. South Carolina is not a defensive powerhouse this season, and neither is Auburn, so Murray should have another highlight reel kind of game to add to his resume come Saturday.


Auburn is allowing 194 yards a game on the ground per contest. Aggies running back Tra Carson had his second highest output of the season with Murray under center rushing for 122 yards on 21 totes against USC. If defenses are crossed between stopping the Aggies’ passing attack and Murray running the ball, Carson could finally get some easier running lanes going forward.


A&M Game Notes: True freshman Christian Kirk needs just nine receiving yards to set new Aggies’ true freshman record held by Uzoma Nwachukwu in 2009 with 670 yards.


3. Auburn’s Offensive Line vs. Texas A&M’s Pass Rushers

White got off 28 pass attempts against Ole Miss but three times could not complete the play taking a sack. One thing Texas A&M does as well as any other team in the nation is get after the passer. Defensive end Myles Garrett has not had a sophomore slump coming up with 10.5 sacks this season, one complete sack shy of his 2014 total of 11.5. On the other side of Garrett, Daeshon Hall has had a standout junior season coming up with six sacks.


Auburn’s front of LT Shon Coleman, LG Alex Kozan, OC, Austin Golson, RG Braden Smith, and RT Avery Young will have their hands full with Garrett and Hall. Auburn has given up 14 sacks this season, tied for 49th in the nation. White has taken nine of those sacks in five games played.


Final Analysis


The Aggies are looking for their first win over the Tigers at Kyle Field and are hoping to keep a struggling Auburn team from gaining positive traction. A year ago Kyle Allen shocked college football, leading A&M to a 41-38 upset win over then-No. 3 Auburn. The Aggies (453 yards) were outplayed by Auburn (582 yards) in Jordan-Hare but the Tigers turned the ball over three times.


White and Barber come into the game with various nagging injuries while A&M looks fresh and refocused. Auburn needs this win if they want to take an easier path to securing a bowl berth while A&M has an easy stretch with Western Carolina and Vanderbilt coming up before traveling to Baton Rouge to face LSU to end the regular season.


All the momentum and energy are backing the Aggies, plus the 12th Man.


Prediction: Texas A&M 38, Auburn 28


— 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.

Auburn Tigers vs. Texas A&M Aggies Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, November 6, 2015 - 09:40
Path: /college-football/michigan-state-spartans-vs-nebraska-cornhuskers-preview-and-prediction-2015

After what can easily be considered the most disappointing loss in a long time for Nebraska football, the Cornhuskers have a chance to instantly redeem themselves as they take on the No. 7 Michigan State at home.


If the Huskers topple the Spartans, it likely knocks Michigan State out of any talk for a College Football Playoff appearance and could give Big Red fans at least one bright spot to point to for 2015.


Michigan State at Nebraska


Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET (Saturday)
Network: ESPN
Spread: Michigan State -6


Three Things to Watch For


1. Tommy Armstrong

Ryker Fyfe took Armstrong’s place versus the Boilermakers and we saw the result. Even though he managed four touchdowns, he equaled that number in interceptions. Simply put: Nebraska cannot win with No. 17.


For the Huskers to have any chance at pulling the monumental upset, Armstrong’s going to have to lead the charge, banged up or not. The good news is that No. 4 has athleticism that Fyfe does not and if he has to run, he can make it count.


2. Connor Cook

I picked this game as a loss during the preseason and this guy is the primary reason why. Easily the best quarterback Nebraska will be facing the season, Cook has all of the potential to shred a Cornhusker secondary that’s been all over the place.


If Nebraska wants to keep him in check, they have to affect him. That doesn’t necessarily mean sacking him, but forcing him to make poor throws or giving him no other option than to throw the ball away. If the Blackshirts can’t stop (or at least slow) Cook, it could be a long day for Husker fans.


3. The Turnover Margin

Ah yes, where all good upsets (or butt-kickings) are made. If Nebraska’s going to shock the world, it needs to strip the ball, pick Cook off and most importantly make sure they keep the pigskin when it’s their turn to hold onto it.


Purdue took advantage of Nebraska’s gifts. The same thing could happen in the Huskers’ favor, but it needs to start early. If Nate Gerry ever wanted to pull a pick-six out of his hat, the first quarter of this game would be the time.


Final Analysis


Alright, let’s be real. I don’t think Nebraska wins this game. If they can’t tackle Purdue, they’re not taking down the Spartans, but that’s logic talking.


The reason that we all love this sport should give the Huskers hope. Logic doesn’t always matter.


This is a night game in a one-of-a-kind atmosphere with great fans and a ton of talented recruits on the sidelines. Anyone can upset the best in that environment. It’s going to take some serious luck, because even I can’t predict a victory.


Three words for the Big Red (and I think I echo much of the college football world): Prove me wrong.


Prediction: Michigan State 38, Nebraska 23


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

Michigan State Spartans vs. Nebraska Cornhuskers Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, November 6, 2015 - 09:35
Path: /college-football/iowa-state-cyclones-vs-oklahoma-sooners-preview-and-prediction-2015

Iowa State heads to Norman fresh off a win that not only gave the Cyclones their biggest victory of the year, but also may have saved head coach Paul Rhoads’ job. Seeing as ISU just pounded a Texas team that beat Oklahoma earlier this year, it would make sense that the ‘Clones could do the same to the Sooners, right?


Vegas doesn’t think so, installing OU as a 25.5-point favorite. However, with the Big 12’s November gauntlet still ahead of them, the Sooners can’t get caught looking past the scrappy Cyclones.


Iowa State at Oklahoma

Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET (Saturday)
TV Channel: ESPNU
Spread: Oklahoma -25.5


Three Things to Watch


1. Can Joel Lanning get loose?

Rhoads made the switch behind center last week from Sam Richardson to Lanning, and the move paid immediate dividends. The sophomore quarterback sparked the Iowa State offense, which converted a staggering 16 of 26 attempts on third and fourth down against Texas. Lanning’s timely running and efficient passing helped keep the ball in his team’s hands for more than 37 minutes against the Longhorns.


2. Protecting Baker Mayfield

Rhoads and Iowa State defensive coordinator Wally Burnham have undoubtedly seen the success that teams have had this year coming after OU’s green offensive line. Even Kansas got to Sooners' QB Baker Mayfield last week, exposing him to hits and forcing him to bail on the pocket. Bob Stoops needs to have a talk with Mayfield about keeping himself out of harm’s way. More importantly, though, the line needs to keep him clean.


3. OU’s running game

Since the Texas game, offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley has shown a commitment to getting the Sooners’ ground attack going. That’s not so hard when you’re facing Kansas and Texas Tech, the two worst run defenses in the Big 12. Iowa State isn’t much better at stopping the run, but the ‘Clones do have a solid defensive brain trust who will come up with a plan to slow Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon.


Final Analysis


Given that OU has a revenge game with Baylor on deck next week, the natural question is where the Sooners’ heads will be on Saturday night. Yet, don’t overlook the letdown factor for Iowa State after last week’s big win.


By now, Stoops knows that he needs serious style points against teams like the Cyclones if his Sooners want to have a shot at the College Football Playoff. He probably won’t take his foot off the gas on Saturday, assuming his team puts him in that position.


Prediction: Oklahoma 45, Iowa State 13


— Written by Allen Kenney, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Kenney is founder and editor of and host of the Blatant Homerism Podcast. Follow him on Twitter @BlatantHomerism.

Iowa State Cyclones vs. Oklahoma Sooners Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, November 6, 2015 - 09:30
Path: /college-football/week-10-college-football-picks-against-spread

Boy was I wrong about Texas A&M and Utah. Thought Vegas was off on those lines last weekend and, once again, the Wise Guys prove to be the best analysts in the game. (Amazing how that works.)


However, I've gone to the Houston, Bowling Green and Washington State wells of late and it's paid off multiple times now.


Last Week: 3-4

Year-to-date: 32-26


LSU (+6.5) at Alabama

These two are always very evenly matched and very conservative against one another. This should be a low-scoring, hard-hitting defensive affair and some even believe LSU to be the better team. While I think Bama wins the game, it feels like an awfully large number to give when the underdog has as good a chance to win as the favorite. Six of the last nine have been one-score games. Prediction: LSU +6.5


Cal (+4.5) at Oregon

Cal was an early-season darling that started hot with some nice wins. Oregon struggled in the first half of the season. But both team's courses have reversed and it's the Ducks who enter this one playing well. Both offenses will score but Oregon will handle business at home. Overtime would work in the favorite's favor. Prediction: Oregon -4.5


TCU (-4.5) at Oklahoma St

The Pokes have been living a dream thus far, winning on extra downs and special teams blunders. And last week Oklahoma State's once sort-of-impressive defense gave up 642 yards and 50 points against Texas Tech. TCU isn't great on defense (yet) but also isn't as bad at it was to start the year. The Cowboys are out of their element here. Prediction: TCU -4.5


FAU (+24) at W. Kentucky

The Owls' defense has had some nice performances... against Charlotte and FIU. But they've also given up 29.4 points per game, which is good for a tie for 85th in the nation. Western Kentucky is rolling and can score on anyone. If you play them every time against inferior talent, you'll win more times than not this season. Prediction: Western Kentucky -24


Stanford (-16) at Colorado

I went to the Cardinal well last weekend and lost. Which strangely makes me believe in a team that could have some extra motivation against the worst team in the Pac-12 South Division. David Shaw also knows that style points matter for the most underrated team in the initial College Football Playoff rankings. Prediction: Stanford -16


Temple (-12.5) at SMU

The Owls are a really good team and with Toledo's loss on Tuesday, they still control their own destiny when it comes to a New Year's Bowl. SMU will eventually be fine under Chad Morris but the Mustangs still can't stop anyone — like 122nd in the nation in yards per play allowed (7.15) and yards per game (524.4). Prediction: Temple -12.5


Navy (+8) at Memphis

Memphis is ranked 101st in the nation in total defense against the 84th-rated schedule (Sagarin). So that's terrible play against below-average competition (minus Ole Miss). Keenan Reynolds' bunch won't stop Paxton Lynch but don't be surprised by a team that's only loss came against Notre Dame on the road. Prediction: Navy +8


Best/Worst Records Against the Spread


Best TeamsRecordWorst TeamsRecord
C. Michigan7-1-1Old Dominion0-7-1
Southern Miss7-2UCF1-8
Bowling Green6-2Fresno St1-6-1
BYU6-2Arizona St2-6
Notre Dame6-2Kansas2-6
Temple6-2Michigan St2-6
Washington St6-2Oregon St2-6
Week 10 College Football Picks Against the Spread
Post date: Friday, November 6, 2015 - 09:27
Path: /college-football/ucla-bruins-vs-oregon-state-beavers-preview-and-prediction-2015

UCLA controls its own destiny in the Pac-12 South. The Bruins are just one game behind Utah in the division standings, but with games still left against the Utes and archrival USC, they have a clear path to the Pac-12 title game. If UCLA beats both teams, and avoids stumbling to other teams along the way, the Bruins will clinch another Pac-12 South title.


Avoiding an upset loss to Oregon State is the first step. The Beavers are the only Pac-12 team without a victory, but they have a history of taking down ranked foes in their home stadium. Then again, UCLA's recent track record on the road suggests the Bruins will be well prepared. The Bruins have won seven of their last eight Pac-12 road games and 12 of their last 13 contests played away from the Rose Bowl.


UCLA holds a 41-16-4 lead in the all-time series with Oregon State. The Beavers won the last meeting in 2012, defeating the Bruins, then ranked No. 19, 27-20 at the Rose Bowl.

UCLA at Oregon State


Kickoff: 4:30 p.m. ET

TV: Pac-12 Networks

Spread: UCLA -18


Three Things to Watch


1. Airing it Out

There's a good reason why freshman QB Josh Rosen has lived up to the hype in his debut season. A talented group of receivers are making life easier for Rosen. Over the last five games, senior receiver Jordan Payton and junior receiver Thomas Duarte have combined for 61 receptions for 939 yards and seven touchdowns. Payton has caught a pass in a team-best 24 straight games. He has totaled 681 yards on 45 catches this season, while Duarte has 550 yards on 36 catches. They both rank in the top 10 among Pac-12 receivers in receptions and receiving yards per game.


2. Filling in Again

Sophomore quarterback Nick Mitchell will make his second consecutive start for Oregon State this weekend. Seth Collins, who won the starting job to begin the season, has been out since injuring his knee in practice before the game at Utah. Collins did not travel with the team to Salt Lake City and there is no timetable for his return. Mitchell threw for 204 yards and a touchdown on 19-of-35 passing in the loss to the Utes last weekend. He also ran for 40 yards on 12 carries.


3. Anchoring the Line

Senior center Jake Brendel has a chance to put his name in the UCLA record books. Brendel will make his 48th career start for the Bruins against Oregon State. This matches Spencer Havner for most career starts by a Bruin player. Havner started 48 games at linebacker for UCLA from 2002 to 2005. Brendel has done a good job of anchoring the Bruin offensive line this season. He is a Campbell Trophy Finalist and has been on the Rimington and Outland Trophy watch lists this season.


Final Analysis


Oregon State has shown improvement on defense the past two weeks after a rough start on that side of the ball in Pac-12 play. It likely won't be enough to offset a Beavers' offense that ranks dead last in the Pac-12 in several key offensive categories. UCLA has too many skilled playmakers on both sides of the ball for Oregon State to handle.


Prediction: UCLA 34, Oregon State 17


— Written by John Coon, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Coon has more than a decade of experience covering sports for different publications and outlets, including The Associated Press, Salt Lake Tribune, ESPN, Deseret News, MaxPreps, Yahoo! Sports and many others. Follow him on Twitter @johncoonsports.

UCLA Bruins vs. Oregon State Beavers Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, November 6, 2015 - 09:25
Path: /college-football/navy-midshipmen-vs-memphis-tigers-preview-and-prediction-2015

As the AAC season hits its final month, the clutter at the top of the West Division will begin to clear out Saturday evening when Memphis hosts Navy. The teams join Houston with 4-0 records in league play, so this game could be something of an elimination affair, since both still have to play the Cougars.


It’s no secret that this is a contrast of styles. Navy (6-1 overall) is fourth in the nation in rushing, while Memphis (8-0) is seventh in passing. This is the first of a string of important AAC games that continues next week with Memphis-Houston, the following week with Temple-Memphis and Nov. 27 with Navy-Houston. The winner of this one gets a big leg up.


Navy at Memphis


Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET (Saturday)

Spread: Memphis -7.5


Three Things to Watch


1. Passing Fancy

Thanks to the sturdy arm and strong decision making of QB Paxton Lynch, the Tigers are almost unstoppable through the air. They face a Navy defense that hasn’t exactly been that tough against the pass, allowing enemy passers to complete a fat, 64.6 percent of their throws. Navy has sacked the QB only 11 times this year and has just four interceptions. It’s possible to imagine Memphis striking often and quickly against the Mids’ soft aerial D.


2. Ground Control

One of the problems with playing against Navy is that no team spends very much time practicing against the triple option, so devoting only a week to stopping an attack as successful and efficient as the Mids’ is often not enough. Making things even tougher is the presence of Navy QB Keenan Reynolds, who has rushed for 753 yards (5.0 average) and 13 TDs already. His next touchdown run will break the NCAA record for career rushing scores (77), which Reynolds now holds with former Wisconsin running back Montee Ball. If Reynolds doesn’t get you, Chris Swain (582 yards, 5 TDs) will. They comprise a formidable tandem Navy hopes will key a big time-of-possession advantage that keeps the potent Memphis attack on the sideline.


3. Getting Their Kicks

Both teams boast strong placement specialists, one reason they have combined for a 14-1 record. Navy’s Austin Grebe has made 9-of-10 field goal attempts this year, while Memphis’ Jake Elliott is 14-of-16, with a long of 52 yards. Elliott has been the AAC’s first-team kicker the past two seasons and is certainly in the discussion for a third-straight honor.


Final Analysis


When the AAC put Navy in the West Division, some scoffed at the relative geographical nonsense of such a move. But while the map may disagree, sticking the Mids in the West has created quite a compelling scenario, especially since the schedule maker decided to backload the games between Memphis, Navy and Houston. This is a biggie, with the winner taking a strong step forward.


There isn’t too much mystery with Navy. The Mids want to run it and confuse the Tigers with their motion, counters and pitches. Usually, option teams struggle with turnovers, but Navy is plus-nine in that category this year. Memphis is third in scoring offense nationally and has the potential to pile up the points quickly. Lynch has thrown just one interception all year and could well erupt for big numbers against a generous Navy passing defense.


— Written by Michael Bradley, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Bradley is a writer and broadcaster based in suburban Philadelphia. Follow him on Twitter @DailyHombre.

Navy Midshipmen vs. Memphis Tigers Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, November 6, 2015 - 09:20
Path: /college-football/south-carolina-gamecocks-vs-tennessee-volunteers-preview-and-prediction-2015

The Tennessee Volunteers (4-4, 2-3 SEC) will play host to the South Carolina Gamecocks (3-5, 1-5 SEC) on Saturday to rekindle what has been one of the SEC’s most competitive matchups in recent years. Five of the last ten, and each of the last three meetings between the two schools has been decided by three points or less. An underdog Volunteer team has played the role of spoiler in the previous two meetings, including last year’s thrilling 45-42 come from behind overtime victory in Columbia. The roles are reversed this year with the Gamecocks coming in as a fairly heavy underdog. Will the Gamecocks be able return the favor in Knoxville?


This will be the 34th meeting all time between South Carolina and Tennessee. The Vols hold a healthy advantage in the series with an overall record of 24-7-2 against the Gamecocks. Tennessee has dominated the series at home, winning 15 of the 17 games played in Knoxville. The Volunteers have won the last two meetings by a total of just five points combined.


South Carolina at Tennessee


Kickoff: 4 p.m. ET (Saturday)

TV Channel: SEC Network

Spread: Tennessee -17


Three Things to Watch


1. Tennessee’s Rushing Attack vs. South Carolina’s Run Defense

A porous Gamecock run defense could be in for a long Saturday trying to contain a potent Vols rushing attack led by Jalen Hurd, Joshua Dobbs, and Alvin Kamara. Tennessee is fresh off of a monster performance on the ground last week against Kentucky, and the Vols' 214 rushing yards per game is currently good enough to rank second in the SEC and 21st nationally.


Meanwhile, the South Carolina run defense can best be described as the exact antithesis of the Vols' rushing attack. The Gamecocks currently rank dead last in the SEC in run defense allowing 215 rushing yards per game on average. South Carolina is also coming off one of their worst performances of the season against the run, giving up a whopping 321 rushing yards and three touchdowns on the ground last week to Texas A&M.


With the exception of linebacker Skai Moore, the Gamecock defense is completely void of playmakers who can consistently stop the run. The Vols should find plenty of success on Saturday exploiting a weak Gamecock run defense that has been especially bad against teams with a mobile quarterback.


2. Can Tennessee Stop Pharoh Cooper?

Pharoh Cooper had a performance for the ages last year against Tennessee. In total, Cooper torched the Vols' defense for a record setting 286 yards and four touchdowns, finding pay dirt as a receiver, runner, and as a passer. As one of the top receivers in the SEC yet again this season, Cooper will be looking to duplicate last year’s performance against the Vols again on Saturday.


The Tennessee coaches and players are well aware of Cooper’s potential to do just that and claim to have a plan to limit the versatile playmaker this time around. A big part of that plan will include Vols' shut down cornerback Cameron Sutton, who will likely be shadowing Cooper throughout the evening. Look for the Gamecocks to counter by moving Cooper around in order to take advantage of mismatches. While he is unlikely to match last year’s lofty performance, Cooper will certainly have an impact one way or another.


3. South Carolina Trickery and a Secret Weapon?

The Gamecock offense is far from elite, but they do have playmakers on that side of the football. Pharoh Cooper is an obvious threat anytime he touches the ball, and Brandon Wilds’ 5.6 yards per carry average suggests top flight potential at running back. Even former walk-on Perry Orth has shown some semblance of ability at quarterback. That being said, South Carolina will likely have to resort to some trickery if they hope to keep pace with the Vols. Look for some "out of the ordinary" play calling by South Carolina's offense and special teams on Saturday.


Another aspect of trickery could include lining up backup quarterback Lorenzo Nunez at multiple positions. Nunez scored a touchdown against Texas A&M on a reverse just last week, and the Gamecock coaching staff has been exploring creative ways to utilize his talents in various roles. South Carolina could benefit from Nunez’s presence against a Vols defense that will be primarily focused on stopping Pharoh Cooper and Brandon Wilds. If Tennessee fails to account for the athletic freshman, Nunez could prove to be the Gamecocks' ace in the hole against the Volunteers.


Final Analysis


Interim Head Coach Shawn Elliott has already scored an SEC win for the Gamecocks, and in spite of last week’s close loss at Texas A&M, he seems to have South Carolina heading in a positive direction. Unfortunately, the positive vibe could be short lived as his Gamecocks will have to travel to Knoxville to face a hungry Tennessee team that appears poised to finish strong in spite of facing some adversity of their own this season.


The Tennessee offense is starting to fire on all cylinders with the long awaited arrival of a down field passing attack. The Vols' defense is still inconsistent at times, but it has shown improvement in recent weeks thanks in large part to the emergence of a potent pass rush. To top it off, the Volunteers may just have the best special teams in the country with return specialists Evan Berry, Cameron Sutton, and Alvin Kamara to go along with the phenomenal punting of Trevor Daniel.


The South Carolina offense seems to have found a little mojo of its own of late, and they certainly have some weapons capable of inflicting damage against Tennessee in this matchup. Sadly, the Gamecock offense still doesn't have enough to compensate for a terrible defense. The South Carolina defense continues to be the equivalent of a dumpster fire, and they have virtually no chance at stopping Tennessee’s offense on Saturday. Unlike previous years, this one is unlikely to end in spectacular fashion.


Prediction: Tennessee 41, South Carolina 27


— Written by Rob McVey, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. McVey is a diehard Tennessee Volunteers' fan who loves singing "Rocky Top" every opportunity he gets. Follow him on Twitter @Rob_UTVOLS.

South Carolina Gamecocks vs. Tennessee Volunteers Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, November 6, 2015 - 09:15
Path: /college-football/arizona-state-sun-devils-vs-washington-state-cougars-preview-and-prediction-2015

Saturday's cross-divisional, Pac-12 Conference matchup between Arizona State and Washington State already had plenty at stake. 


The surprise Cougars are one week removed from a heartbreaking loss to Stanford. Had Washington State won, it would have held first-place in the Pac-12 North. The Cougars must now bounce back to stay in the divisional hunt and secure bowl eligibility. 


After losing its own heartbreaker, a triple-overtime decision to Oregon, Arizona State needs two wins in November to go bowling. 


Yes, there's plenty on the line Saturday at Martin Stadium. But Washington State head coach Mike Leach upped the ante on Tuesday's Pac-12 coaches call when asked about recent accusations of the Sun Devils stealing signs. 


"You’ve got two-straight schools with a concern for it back-to-back," Leach said, in reference to Colorado and Oregon. The Ducks used curtains on the sideline to try hiding signals. "The conference probably ought to investigate it.”


Arizona State at Washington State


Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. ET (Saturday)


Spread: Washington State -2.5


Three Things to Watch 


1. Arizona State's Commitment to the Run 

The Sun Devils rolled with the run last week against Oregon, ripping off 344 yards on 55 carries. Running backs Demario Richard and Kalen Ballage both surpassed 100 yards, and quarterback Mike Bercovici went for a career-high 58. 


Yet, as often and as effectively as Arizona State ran, offensive coordinator Mike Norvell called two passes in the red zone on the Sun Devils' triple-overtime possession. The second was intercepted to seal an Oregon win. 


Bercovici had a monster night passing, completing 32-of-53 for 398 yards and five touchdowns. However, Arizona State's record slipped to 1-4 when Bercovici threw 40 times or more. 


Arizona State is opposite a Washington State run defense that ranks No. 106 nationally, which has given up 5.5 yards per carry or more in three of its last four games. The Cougars' struggles against the run give the Sun Devils a window on the ground, but Norvell's temptation to pass will be a storyline to follow. 


2. Luke Falk Bouncing Back 

Washington State quarterback Luke Falk's three lowest pass-completion outings went for 27, 35 and 35. Not coincidentally, those games were against Portland State, Cal and Stanford — the three teams to defeat Washington State. 


Falk bounced back after the first two losses, throwing for four touchdowns and no interceptions against Rutgers, and five scores with no picks at Oregon. He also ran for a touchdown in the upset of the Ducks. 


Washington State's most recent loss may be the most devastating of the three. The Cougars had Stanford on the ropes late in what would have been a landmark win for Leach. Falk had an opportunity to lead a game-winning drive, but was intercepted on a tough pass under duress. 


The quarterback's response this week could shape the final month of Washington State's season — not to mention the makeup of Saturday's contest. 


3. Special Teams Play 

Arizona State and Washington State have suffered through some of the least consistent special teams play in the Pac-12 dating back to last season. The Sun Devils are coming off a loss in which placekicker Zane Gonzalez missed three field goals, and the kickoff coverage unit surrendered a 100-yard touchdown to Oregon's Charles Nelson. 


Washington State has already given up two kickoff returns for scores this season, and this week is opposite one of the nation's most electrifying returners, Tim White. 


Look for a big special teams play to have a monumental impact on Saturday's outcome. 


Final Analysis 


Washington State's Cinderella story reached a turning point with the loss to Stanford. Reaching a bowl game is a nice comeback for the Cougars after last year's disappointing, 3-9 finish, but flirtation with a Pac-12 Championship Game berth late in the season has them seeking more. 


Arizona State's in desperation mode after falling to .500 with the Oregon loss. The Sun Devils can either finish strong or fold. Past Arizona State teams were guilty of falling apart late in the season once adversity hit, but the program's had a much different M.O. under current head coach Todd Graham. 


The Sun Devils should rally from the Oregon heartbreak to move one win closer to bowl eligibility on Saturday. Never mind signals; the only thing Arizona State is stealing is an upset win. 


Prediction: Arizona State 42, Washington State 38 


— Written by Kyle Kensing, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a sportswriter in Southern California. Kensing is publisher of Follow him on Twitter @kensing45.

Arizona State Sun Devils vs. Washington State Cougars Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, November 6, 2015 - 09:10
Path: /college-football/arkansas-razorbacks-vs-ole-miss-rebels-preview-and-prediction-2015

Slotted No. 18 in the initial College Football Playoff rankings with a 7-2 overall record, the Ole Miss Rebels enter this week’s contest against Arkansas with an SEC Western Division championship — and revenge — on their minds. Ole Miss is 4-1 in SEC play this season, with the lone blemish coming against SEC East foe Florida on the road, which means the Rebels still control their own destiny in the SEC West. A win over the 4-4 Razorbacks (who are 2-2 in SEC play) would put Ole Miss one step closer to the first SEC Championship Game in school history, and it would help to avenge the humiliating 30-0 blowout in Fayetteville last season.


Arkansas at Ole Miss


Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. ET (Saturday)
TV Channel: CBS
Spread: Ole Miss -11


Three Things to Watch


1. Ole Miss Wide Receiver Laquon Treadwell is Better Than Ever

Through the first nine weeks of the season, the Ole Miss Rebels have been the SEC’s most explosive offense. Ole Miss leads the SEC in scoring offense (39.4 points per game), total offense (519.6 yards per game) and passing offense (346.7 yards per game). A big part of that success is talented quarterback Chad Kelly, who has thrown for a league-leading 2,856 yards and 20 touchdowns (which ranks in the top ten nationally), and a talented and deep group of receivers including Cody Core (25 receptions, 452 yards, 3 TD) and Quincy Adeboyejo (30 receptions, 446 yards, 6 TD), plus the Rebels’ best weapon Laquon Treadwell.


Treadwell is widely expected to be a first round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, and has played like it this season by grabbing an SEC-best 61 catches for a league-leading 870 yards and six touchdowns. The 6-foot-2, 210-pound junior, who missed the Arkansas game last season with a severe leg injury, has posted four consecutive games with more than 100 receiving yards and a touchdown in four straight games — a school record.


2. Arkansas Running Back Alex Collins is in for a Tough Test

The Arkansas Razorbacks also have an explosive offense, and have averaged 32.5 points and 456.0 total yards of offense through the first eight games of the season, with average 196.0 rushing yards per game that ranks fourth in the SEC and No. 36 nationally.


Junior running back Alex Collins, with help from a talented offensive line that is the biggest in all of football (NFL included), as well as a now rare combination of tight ends and fullbacks, has 960 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns on 166 carries (5.8 yards per attempt) this year. Collins has gained 127 yards or more in six of eight games this season and has scored a touchdown in all but one game (a disappointing 26-yard effort against Alabama). Last week in Arkansas’ 63-28 victory over UT Martin, Collins gained 173 yards on 16 rushing attempts and scored five TDs.


However, Collins will have his work cut out for him against an Ole Miss front-seven that is getting healthier by the week and is playing its best football of the season. Two weeks ago, without injured All-American candidate defensive lineman Robert Nkemdiche, the Rebels held Texas A&M to 58 rushing yards on 27 carries (2.1 yards per attempt) in a 23-3 victory. Last week against Auburn, and with Nkemdiche back, Ole Miss held the Tigers to a modest 125 yards on 41 carries (3.0 yards per attempt). This season, the Rebels have allowed 121.5 rushing yards per contest, which ranks No. 25 nationally.


Related: Three Keys to the Arkansas Razorbacks Upsetting No. 19 Ole Miss


3. The Return of Tony Conner

Nkemdiche is healthy again, as is linebacker C.J. Johnson, who also missed time earlier this season due to injury. Finally, Ole Miss will have hybrid safety/linebacker Tony Conner back in the lineup after he missed six games following knee surgery for an injury he suffered in the Rebels’ victory over Alabama in September. Conner, a pre-season All-American candidate with first round potential, should help Ole Miss contain Arkansas’ running game in addition to helping cover talented tight ends Hunter Henry and Jeremy Sprinkle in the passing game. He had ten tackles, including 1.5 tackles for a loss, in three games this season.


Final Analysis


For a team with SEC West title hopes in the preseason, Arkansas is a disappointing 4-4 overall and 2-2 in conference play. However, the Razorbacks still have a lot to play for — specifically a second-consecutive bowl game. And, because Arkansas dominated Ole Miss 30-0 last season, the Hogs are confident they can ruin the Rebels’ conference championship hopes again this year.


However, Ole Miss is more explosive this time around with Chad Kelly behind center and a healthy (and better than ever) Laquon Treadwell. Also, the Landshark defense is healthier than it has been in over a month, so the team is trending in the right direction. And, because there’s a spot in Atlanta waiting for the Rebels if they win out, Ole Miss will be ready to play Saturday. Expect a hard-fought, close game, but a victory for the Rebels.


Prediction: Ole Miss 28, Arkansas 21


— 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.

Arkansas Razorbacks vs. Ole Miss Rebels Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, November 6, 2015 - 09:05