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The 2012 college fantasy season is winding down but most importantly, Week 12 is all about the playoffs.
Keenan Reynolds, QB-Navy vs Texas St
Reynolds has been red-hot over the past three weeks and faces a Texas State defense allowing 211.7 rushing yards per game.
Jordan Parker, RB-MTSUat South Alabama
After carrying the ball 32 times for 149 yards two weeks ago against Western Kentucky, Parker has proven that he can be a workhorse back. This week, the freshman running back faces a South Alabama defense giving up over 150 rushing yards per game.
Storm Woods, RB-Oregon St vs Cal
After rushing for 94 yards on 15 carries last week against the nation’s No. 1 run defense, Woods is primed to reach the century mark for the first time since Week 5.
Tre Mason, RB-Auburn vs Alabama A&M
Mason is nothing more than a one-week value play, but a matchup against Alabama A&M makes him worth a Week 12 start.
Justin Brown, WR-Oklahoma at West Virginia
We’re expecting Brown to have his biggest game of the season against the nation’s worst pass defense. West Virginia is allowing over 340 yards per game in the air and has allowed 27 touchdown passes.
JD McKissic, WR-Arkansas St at Troy
McKissic will attempt to find the end zone for the first time since week seven against a defense that has given up 22 touchdown passes and is allowing 255.6 passing yards per game.
Jamison Crowder, WR-Duke at Georgia Tech
Expect Crowder to get a lot of looks this Saturday against a defense giving up 256.3 passing yards per game.
David Fales, QB-San Jose St vs BYU
Fales has had a nice five-game stretch, but the competition gets much tougher this week when he takes on the Cougars’ 10th-ranked pass defense.
Jawan Jamison, RB-Rutgers at Cincinnati
On Monday, Jamison was 50-50 to play with an ankle injury. Even if the junior running back can give it a go on Saturday, he’ll be facing a Cincinnati defense that has only allowed 130 rushing yards per game and seven rushing touchdowns through nine games.
Marcus Sales, WR-Syracuse at Missouri
Sales has only caught six passes over the past two games, so we are not going to risk our playoff lives with a cold receiver on the road against a solid SEC defense.
Zac Stacy, RB-Vanderbiltvs Tennessee
Stacy is probable to play this week against Tennessee, but he has only totaled 18 carries over the past three games. Without the guarantee of a 20-plus carry game, fantasy owners would be wise to sit him in the semi-finals.
Tyler Bray, QB-Tennessee at Vanderbilt
Bray has thrown 13 touchdown passes in the past three games, but this week he faces a Vanderbilt defense that has only given up five touchdown passes all season.
by Joe DiSalvo
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Has any major league baseball player ever come back to the team he started with three times?
The Miami Marlins didn’t have a good first year. Even with a new stadium, a new name, new unis, it was still the same old Marlins as it related to on-field results. This week, the Marlins traded away every highly paid contributing member of their organization not named Giancarlo Stanton.
Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, Emilio Bonifacio and Josh Johnson were traded this week to Toronto (assuming MLB approval) for a disgruntled mediocre shortstop, two other Blue Jays and a host of talented prospects from their minor-league system.
This isn’t the first time, however, that the Marlins' front office has completely decimated its roster. At least, this time it happened for a reason — a 69-93 record in 2012. The two previous fire sales happened directly after winning World Series in 1997 and 2003.
The collection of bizarre and sometimes insane maneuvers has created a who’s who of traded Marlins. Here is Athlon Sports' Marlins' All-Fire Sale Team. And this list below doesn’t include two huge trades that also appeared to be give-ups: Miguel Cabrera, Dontrelle Willis to Detroit in 2007 and Mike Lowell, Josh Beckett and Guillermo Mota in 2006 to Boston. Or the give-up on Hanley Ramirez this mid-season that was really the only quality chip the Marlins got in return for Beckett, Lowell and Mota.
Note: To be included on this list the player must have been traded immediately after either the 1997 or 2003 World Series Championships or included in the ridiculous salary dump that took place this week.
The Marlins' All-Fire Sale Team:
C: Pudge Rodriguez
This Hall of Famer might be one of the greatest catchers to ever play the game and he was clearly the most important and most valuable player on the 2003 championship squad. He hit .297 with 16 homers, 85 RBIs, 90 runs scored and played in 144 games behind the plate. Other options at backstop include Charles Johnson, who started on the 1997 title team and was traded in May of 1998. This is also the team that traded away Mike Piazza after only five games in a Marlins uniform.
1B: Derrek Lee
After six years, 129 homers, 417 RBIs and an .822 OPS in South Florida, the Marlins got rid off one of the most underrated first basemen of his era. A tremendous athlete who also stole 51 bases in his Marlins career, Lee had an excellent glove at first and was one of the key cogs to the 2003 World Series run.
2B: Emilio Bonifacio
This speedster has dealt with injuries, but he has played all over the outfield and infield in South Florida. He hit .271 and stole 103 bases in four seasons with the Marlins and had his best season in the majors in 2011.
3B: Jeff Conine
In his first stint with the Marlins, Conine hit .291 with 98 homers and 422 RBIs in five seasons yet was discharged following the 1997 championship. He eventually returned to South Beach and has become a strange staple of the franchise (he actually played 25 games in 2003 as well). Bobby Bonilla was also traded shortly after the 1997 title in the Charles Johnson, Gary Sheffield trade. Miguel Cabrera was also sent packing but it came four years after the 2003 World Series in which he played as a 20-year old.
SS: Jose Reyes
The $106-million man had a solid first season in Miami. He hit .287 with 40 stolen bases, 86 runs scored, 60 extra-base hits and led the league in plate appearances (716). I guess they learned enough in year one of a six-year deal to send him packing.
OF: Moises Alou
The batting glove-less Alou is a career .303 hitter in over 7,000 at-bats. He played for one year for the Marlins during their World Series run in 1997, hitting .292 with 23 homers and 115 RBIs. He played in Houston the next four seasons.
OF: Gary Sheffield
Okay, this one was shoe-horned a bit since he didn’t technically get traded until May. This guy has 509 career dingers and a career .292 batting average and he went on to play a decade more of baseball in Los Angeles, New York (both teams) and Detroit.
OF: Devon White
He certainly wasn’t the superstar centerfielder he was when Toronto won its back-to-back World Series titles, but he was still a very productive member of the Marlins for two seasons. He had a great glove in center and produced 23 bombs, 35 stolen bases and 110 runs scored in less than 800 at-bats in two seasons for the Marlins. He played four more years for three more teams after departing South Beach.
SP: Josh Johnson
Certainly, injuries have plagued the young phenom’s upside all his career. But when healthy, there have been few pitchers as dominant as Jo-Jo. He led the NL in ERA (2.30) in 2010 and boasts a career 3.15 ERA in 916.2 career innings pitched. He is 56-37 as a starter on some bad Marlins teams and should he stay healthy, could become an ace once again in the AL East.
SP: Kevin Brown
The six-time All-Star led the league in ERA in 1996 (1.89) and 2000 (2.58) and has always been considered one of the nastier pitchers of his era. He went 16-8 with a 2.69 ERA in 237.1 innings in 1997 as the ace of the Marlins' championship staff. He pitched eight more seasons in the bigs for the Padres, Dodgers and Yankees.
SP: Al Leiter
The 19-year vet helped take multiple franchises to the World Series including his championship run with the Marlins in 1997. He then landed as a Met and served as the ace for them — going 46-26 in three years following his departure from Miami.
SP: Mark Buehrle
After 12 dependable and championship-caliber seasons in Chicago as a White Sox, Mr. Consistent signed a big contract with Miami. He won 13 games with a 3.74 ERA in over 200 innings pitched. What more do you want from a No. 2? Not enough to justify the money at 34 years of age obviously.
RP: Robb Nen
Nen was the shutdown closer the Marlins used to help win the 1997 championship. He saved 35 games, struck out 81 batters in 74.0 innings and went 9-3 overall. He went on to save at least 40 games in four of his last five seasons — all with the Giants immediately following the 1997 World Series.
- By Braden Gall
College football's Week 12 schedule is highlighted by two huge battles in the Pac-12. Stanford visits Oregon in a game that likely will decide the South Division champion, while USC makes the short trip to UCLA for the game of the year in the South.
Stanford (+20.5) at Oregon
It’s a testament to Oregon’s dominance that the Ducks are favored by nearly three touchdowns against the second-best team in the Pac-12 North — and maybe the second-best team in the entire league. Stanford has been solid in 2012, with an overall mark of 8–2 and a 6–1 record in the league. Oregon, however, has been completely dominant. Consider the following: The Ducks have won their seven Pac-12 games by an average margin of 33.7 points and are outgaining their opponents by 161.8 yards per game. USC is the only team that has made Oregon sweat, but the Ducks still led by 10 points or more for all but six minutes in their 62–51 win at the L.A. Coliseum. Stanford will have to run the ball effectively against Oregon’s ordinary rush defense (fifth in the league) and hope to force some turnovers.
Ohio State (+3) at Wisconsin
Wisconsin wrapped up a spot in the Big Ten Championship Game with an emphatic 62–14 win at Indiana on Saturday. The Badgers rushed for an astounding 564 yards and seven touchdowns, led by Montee Ball (198 yards) and James White (161). UW’s dominance on the ground allowed the coaching staff to protect quarterback Curt Phillips, an oft-injured fifth-year senior who was making his first career start. Phillips only attempted seven passes for the entire game. The Badgers figure to need some semblance of offensive balance against Ohio State on Saturday. The Buckeyes rank 16th nationally in rushing defense, though they did give up 223 yards on the ground to Nebraska and 224 to California. Ohio State has a two-game lead on Wisconsin in the Leaders Division but is not eligible for postseason play due to NCAA sanctions.
Ohio State 24–20
USC (-4) at UCLA
USC has been arguably the most disappointing team in the nation in 2012. UCLA has been one of the biggest surprises. The result: UCLA is one-half game up on its cross-town rival in the Pac-12 South and controls its own destiny to play in the league title game. The Bruins’ roster isn’t stocked with elite players but does have star power at two crucial positions — quarterback (Brett Hundley) and tailback (Johnathan Franklin). Hundley, a redshirt freshman, ranks second in the Pac-12 in total offense (301.1 ypg), and Franklin, a senior, ranks sixth nationally in rushing (127.0 ypg). The key for UCLA, however, will be on defense, where the Bruins must find a way to slow down the USC passing attack. UCLA ranks 103rd in the nation in pass defense and has given up 22 pass plays of 30 yards or more, the most in the Pac-12. That number figures to increase after Marqise Lee and Robert Woods are done with the UCLA secondary.
Rutgers (+6.5) at Cincinnati
Rutgers is the only unbeaten team in Big East play after Louisville’s loss on Saturday at Syracuse. The Scarlet Knights, though, have the toughest remaining schedule of the contenders, with trips to Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and a home game with Louisville. A bigger concern for coach Kyle Flood has to be his team’s performance of late. The Knights lost at home to Kent State two weeks ago and then struggled with Army this past weekend. Rutgers was outgained 337-to-252 and didn’t hold its first lead until midway through the fourth quarter. Cincinnati rolled past Temple 34–10 in Brendon Kay’s first start at quarterback. Kay, a senior who beat out Munchie Legaux, completed 13-of-21 for 244 yards and two touchdowns and added 71 yards on the ground. The Bearcats are playing good football and are the better team.
Duke (+12.5) at Georgia Tech
Georgia Tech has played its way into the ACC Coastal Division race with consecutive wins at Maryland and North Carolina. The Yellow Jackets, 4–3 in the league, need to beat Duke this Saturday and then for Duke to beat Miami the following week. That would leave Tech all alone in first place with a 5–3 record. Duke controls its own destiny but needs to win at Georgia Tech and beat Miami at home to claim its first-ever division crown. Duke’s first order of business is finding a way to slow down Georgia Tech’s powerful offense. The Jackets rushed for 380 yards and seven touchdowns and threw for 208 yards and one score (on only seven completions) in a 68–50 win at North Carolina on Saturday. This is not a good matchup for a Duke team that ranks 85th in the nation in rushing defense and has given up an average of 43.8 points in its last four games.
Georgia Tech 44–30
Northwestern (+6.5) at Michigan State
Northwestern is 7–3 overall and has had double-digit leads in the second half of all three losses — at Penn State, vs. Nebraska and at Michigan. This team could easily be in thick of the Legends Division race. Michigan State, a preseason top-20 team, has been a big disappointment in 2012. The Spartans are 5–5 overall and tied for last place in the Legends with a 2–4 record. The culprit has been an offense that is averaging only 19.7 points per game. Running back Le’Veon Ball has done his part, averaging 106.5 yards in Big Ten games, but Andrew Maxwell simply hasn’t been good enough at the quarterback position. The stout Spartan defense will pose some problems for Northwestern’s run-based offense, but Michigan State will have trouble scoring enough points to win this game — even at home.
Oklahoma (-10.5) at West Virginia
This was expected to be one of the marquee games in the Big 12 this season. But that was before we knew just how bad West Virginia would be at preventing their opponents from gaining yards and scoring points. In league play, the Mountaineers are giving up an average of 517.8 yards and 51.0 points per game. Last weekend, Oklahoma State became the third team this season to score at least 55 points against WVU. Oklahoma could be the fourth. The Sooners have scored 35 points or more in all but one league game, a 24–19 loss to Kansas State in September. Landry Jones isn’t having a Heisman-worthy season, but the senior quarterback is averaging just under 300 yards passing per game and has 17 touchdowns and seven interceptions. It will be a shock if he doesn’t have at least 20 touchdowns after Saturday’s trip to Morgantown.
UCF (+3) at Tulsa
These two teams likely will meet again in the Conference USA title game in a few weeks, with the winner serving as the host. Tulsa hasn’t missed a beat since Todd Graham bolted for Pittsburgh two years ago. Bill Blankenship, who coached in the high school ranks until 2005, is 13–1 in C-USA since taking over at his alma mater. The Golden Hurricane have two losses in 2012, at Iowa State by 15 and at Arkansas by four. UCF, too, has only lost to AQ conference teams, by 15 at Ohio State and by five at home to Missouri. The Knights struggled at home against a bad Southern Miss team in mid-October, but have been very impressive against the rest of the league.
Ole Miss (+18.5) at LSU
Ole Miss is now 0-for-2 in its attempts to become bowl-eligible. The Rebels appeared to be in control Saturday night against Vanderbilt after taking a 23–6 lead early in the third quarter, but the Commodores stormed back to claim a 27–26 win on a touchdown with just over one minute to play. Ole Miss has played well in recent trips to Baton Rouge: The Rebels are 4–4 in their last eight at Tiger Stadium with three of the losses coming by three points or fewer and the other by seven points. LSU has played well offensively the past two weeks, due in large part to the improved play of quarterback Zach Mettenberger. In his first four SEC games, Mettenberger completed 46.2 percent of his passes with one touchdown and two interceptions; in his last two games, he has completed 66.2 percent with three touchdowns and no picks.
Syracuse (+4) at Missouri
This is a strange late-season non-conference game between two 5–5 teams searching for a sixth win to become bowl-eligible. There is far more pressure on Missouri, who still has to play at Texas A&M, to win this game. Syracuse, on the other hand, ends the season with Temple, which has lost four straight. This team will still get its sixth win at some point. Syracuse is coming off its best performance of the season, a surprisingly easy 45–26 victory at home against previously undefeated Louisville. The Orange ran for 278 yards and threw for 246, and have now had at least 475 yards in each of their last five games. Missouri won its first SEC road game last week — 51–48 in four overtimes at Tennessee — despite giving up 432 passing yards. That has to be a concern for Gary Pinkel and his staff. Syracuse, as mentioned, as been on a roll offensively, and quarterback Ryan Nassib has been productive all season.
Last week: 9–1 overall (8–2 against the spread)
Season: 75–35 overall (59–51 against the spread)
NASCAR reacted this week to Jeff Gordon intentionally wrecking Clint Bowyer at Phoenix and the melee between the crews, but was its penalty enough? Members of the Backseat Drivers Fan Council debate what should have been done and what they would do if Bowyer exacts revenge this weekend at Homestead. Those are just among a few of the topics the Fan Council debated. Here’s what they said:
What should NASCAR have done in regards to the Jeff Gordon-Clint Bowyer incident on and off the track?
On Monday, NASCAR announced it had fined Jeff Gordon $100,000, docked him 25 points and placed him in on probation until Dec. 31. NASCAR did not penalize Clint Bowyer but fined Bowyer’s crew chief, Brian Pattie, $25,000 and placed him on probation until Dec. 31 (crew chief is responsible for the team). Gordon’s crew chief, Alan Gustafson, was placed on probation until Dec. 31. Fan Council members were asked what they would have done:
33.7 percent would have suspended Jeff Gordon for Homestead
23.3 percent would have issued no penalties at all
16.5 percent would have fined Gordon, Bowyer & crew members
12.6 percent would have done “other”
7.4 percent would have suspended Gordon and instigators of melee and fined Gordon, Bowyer and crew members
6.5 percent would have suspended instigators of the garage fight for Homestead
What Fan Council members said:
• Jeff Gordon needs to be suspended. And that is coming from someone who got into the sport because of him. Kyle Busch got "parked" for wrecking Hornaday at the Texas Truck race last year. Gordon didn't just take out Bowyer, he also took out Joey Logano and Aric Almirola, who had nothing to do with the feud. Fining Jeff won't do anything, since he’s earned more than just about anyone in the sport's history. $100,000 is chump change for Gordon. Sit him out.
• Boys have at it. ENOUGH SAID!
• Donate $50,000 to each of Jeff and Clint's charities and throw a ticker-tape parade in their honor for waking us all up from a season-long slumber and giving sports outlets not known for their coverage of NASCAR to realize it exists! At the most, I'd pick the "fine everybody" option. But I still say this is what NASCAR needed.
• I think what Gordon did was unacceptable and not appropriate at all. He should be suspended for one race with a $100,000 fine.
• Make Gordon and Bowyer pay the expenses for the 20 and 43 cars.
• Gordon is not one to do this type of thing often, the crew members were charged up and lost control and the melee ensued. I don't think that penalizing them will do any good. I'm not sure you could tell who the instigators were of that mess. Just let it be and move on.
• Gordon's blatant disregard for NASCAR's black flag definitely needs to be addressed. As well as whomever it was that "jumped" Gordon in the garage area. As far as Bowyer's alleged contact with Gordon on track, chalk that up to competitive racing — incidental and lacking true malice. To lie in wait, however, speaks to intent and the collateral damage that could have been avoided is inexcusable.
• Without a Kyle Busch-like rap sheet, I feel all they can do is put Gordon on probation. If Bowyer pays him back next year, then it's deserved ... as is probation at that time for him as well.
If you were NASCAR, would you be OK with it if Clint Bowyer retaliated and wrecked Jeff Gordon at Homestead this weekend?
51.7 percent said No
48.3 percent said Yes
What Fan Council members said:
• They did say "Boys have it" so I think Bowyer would be within his rights to retaliate.
• If I were NASCAR ... no. Drivers shouldn't use their cars to retaliate. As a fan ... you bet I want to see Bowyer retaliate. :D
• I don't really believe any driver should retaliate with their car. If you're pissed off someone ruined your day, when you get out of the car, go find them and settle it face-to-face, man-to-man, or fist-to-face. The fighting was the most exciting part of the whole race! At least Clint wanted to settle it right. As exciting as it might be to have him dish out some payback, I really hope he doesn't do it on track.
• I would be OK with it. Emotions ON THE TRACK are very good and needed in this sport. All anybody does these days is talk. People watch when there's controversy like Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick or Brad Keselowski and Carl Edwards.
• Two wrongs don't make a right; someone will eventually get hurt.
• Premeditated retaliation at a high-speed track is unacceptable. Gordon's actions were heat of the moment. A calculated act carried over to another event should be a more serious offense.
• I would be fine with it. An eye for an eye, right?
Ten weeks into the NFL season and there’s a pretty clear line between who’s in and who’s out. There are patterns beginning to emerge, as well as powers. The playoff picture is beginning to take shape.
Coaching changes are inevitable at the end of every college football season. With only a few weeks left in the regular season, some coaches still have a chance to save their job. Gene Chizik, Derek Dooley, Jeff Tedford, Frank Spaziani and Danny Hope? File those five names away as coaches who will be packing up their office in a few weeks.
5 College Football Coaches Who Will Be Fired at the End of 2012
Gene Chizik, Auburn
Record at Auburn: 32-18 (4 years)
While Chizik’s overall record isn’t bad, the three seasons outside of a 2010 national championship have been very mediocre. Auburn is just 18-18 outside of 2010 and has struggled to generate an offense since Cam Newton departed for the NFL. Auburn’s SEC record is 15-16 under Chizik’s watch and could be headed for its first winless season in conference play since 1980. While Chizik and his staff have recruited as well as anyone nationally, the talent hasn’t translated into wins. When top talent isn’t producing, it’s a bad sign for the coaching staff when it comes to player development and putting them into the right schemes to succeed. Even though Chizik is only two years removed from a national title, Auburn cannot afford to fall further behind in the SEC, especially with Texas A&M’s arrival and Ole Miss and Mississippi State showing improvement.
Derek Dooley, Tennessee
Record at Tennessee: 15-20 (3 years)
Dooley didn’t inherit a perfect situation at Tennessee, but the program has yet to show marked progress under his watch. The Volunteers had two coaches in the two years prior to Dooley’s arrival, which created some instability on Rocky Top. However, a 15-20 record and a 4-18 mark in SEC play is not enough to get a fourth season at Tennessee. The Volunteers’ struggles within the conference continued in 2012, as they opened 0-6 and need wins against Vanderbilt and Kentucky just to get bowl eligible. Dooley’s decision to hire Sal Sunseri as the defensive coordinator has backfired, as Tennessee ranks 111th nationally in total defense, 110th in points allowed and is registering just 1.3 sacks per game. Although it seems to take two years to implement a 3-4 scheme, it’s never a good idea for a coach on the hot seat to hire a coordinator that can’t provide a quick fix in the first season.
Danny Hope, Purdue
Record at Purdue: 20-27 (4 years)
With Saturday’s win over Iowa, Hope still has a chance to lead Purdue to a bowl game this year. The Boilermakers need wins over Illinois and Indiana to get back to the postseason for the second time in Hope’s tenure. Although Purdue could get back to a bowl, the program has yet to show much progress under Hope’s watch. In four seasons, the Boilermakers are 20-27 overall and just 11-19 in Big Ten play. Even if Purdue makes it to a bowl game this year, a handful of key contributors will finish their eligibility at the end of 2012, which will only make it more difficult to record a winning mark next season.
Frank Spaziani, Boston College
Record at Boston College: 22-27 (4years)
Spaziani was promoted to head coach after Boston College’s messy divorce from Jeff Jagodzinski. The long-time assistant did his best to keep the program on track in the first two years, recording a 15-11 mark and playing in two bowl games. However, the Eagles have been trending in the wrong direction over the last two seasons. Boston College went 4-8 in 2011 and is likely headed for a 2-10 finish in 2012. Spaziani’s overall mark in Chestnut Hill is 22-27, while a 4-10 record the last two seasons in conference play isn’t much better. With a new athletic director in place (Brad Bates), Spaziani’s tenure will be coming to an end at the conclusion of 2012.
Jeff Tedford, California
Record at California: 82-56 (11 years)
Tedford is probably the toughest coach on this list to evaluate. The California native owns the record for the most wins in school history (82) and led the program to eight bowl games during his tenure. However, the Golden Bears have been headed in the wrong direction since an 8-5 season in 2009. Over the last three years, California is just 15-21 and a 3-8 (with one game remaining) mark in 2012 is the worst of Tedford’s career. Although Tedford has done a lot of good things at California, it’s probably time for the program to go in a different direction. With a newly renovated stadium, it’s not going to be easy to find the money to buy out Tedford, which may be enough for the embattled coach to keep his job through 2013.
5 Others in Danger:
David Bailiff, Rice – Bailiff has won four games in each of the last three seasons and still has a chance to make a bowl in 2012. However, his overall mark is 27-44, and the Owls failed to build on the 10-3 season in 2008.
Bobby Hauck, UNLV – Progress has been slow under Hauck’s watch at UNLV. The Rebels are 6-30 during his tenure and even though this team has shown some improvement, finishing 2-11 in 2012 could be enough to spell the end of his time at UNLV.
Ellis Johnson, Southern Miss – Johnson is just in his first season at Southern Miss but has been a total disaster. The Golden Eagles are in the midst of their worst season in school history, recording an 0-10 start after winning Conference USA’s Championship last year.
Mike Price, UTEP – Price’s tenure at UTEP got off to a good start, recording a 16-8 record through the first two seasons. However, the program has failed to build off of that mark and will have its seventh consecutive losing season since Price arrived in 2004.
DeWayne Walker, New Mexico State – Winning in Las Cruces is never easy, but Walker is 10-38 through four seasons and only one loss in 2012 (1-9) was decided by 10 points or less.
Related College Football Content
Even a year after a Baylor quarterback won the Heisman -- beating out the eventual No. 1 overall draft pick and a running back from would-be national champion Alabama -- the 2012 Heisman race is shaping up to have one of the most non-traditional fields the award has seen.
The Heisman can be a predictable honor. In most cases, Heisman contenders play offensive skill position for national championship contenders or traditional powers.
That trend is changing beyond Griffin. Two defensive players have been finalists in the last three years. A sophomore won the award for the first time in 2007. And two more sophomores won thereafter.
Taken on their own, all these unique Heisman contenders aren’t rare anymore, but 2012 could have a historically unique Heisman field.
THE FRESHMAN: Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel
After last week’s performance in the 29-24 upset of No. 1 Alabama, Manziel has moved from the fringes of the Heisman debate to a potential frontrunner along with Collin Klein. His 379.4 yards of total offense per game outpaces the SEC record held by Kentucky’s Tim Couch in 1998, and his 1,014 rushing yards are second only to Cam Newton among SEC quarterbacks. The closest a freshman has come to winning the Heisman was Oklahoma’s Adrian Peterson, who finished 328 points behind USC’s Matt Leinart. Since World War II, only five freshmen have finished in the top 10 of voting -- Peterson, Virginia Tech’s Michael Vick (third in 1999), San Diego State’s Marshall Faulk (ninth in 1991), Florida’s Emmitt Smith (ninth in 1987) and Georgia’s Herschel Walker (third in 1980). As a redshirt, though, Manziel’s candidacy as a freshman contender has a bit of an asterisk. And he may not be the only redshirt freshman to finish in the top 10 of Heisman voting, as Oregon redshirt freshman quarterback Marcus Mariota makes a push late in the season.
Last freshman winner: None
Related: Manziel vs. Klein Heisman comparison
THE FIRST-TIMERS: Kansas State’s Collin Klein, Oregon’s Kenjon Barner.
Two of the last three Heisman winners -- Griffin for Baylor and Mark Ingram for Alabama -- became their schools’ first Heisman winners. From 2001-08, five schools won Heisman trophies. And those programs (Florida, Nebraska, Ohio State, Oklahoma and Nebraska) all had multiple Heisman winners prior to the 2001. Oregon has been more or less a regular in the Heisman voting since ’01 with LaMichael James, Dennis Dixon and Joey Harrington all finishing within the top five, none higher than third. The closest Kansas State has come to the Heisman was 1998 when Michael Bishop finished second to Texas’ Ricky Williams, and that was by a then-record of 1,563 points. With Klein the presumed frontrunner this season and Mariota a freshman, both schools could notch Heisman winners in the coming years.
Last first-time winner for a school: Baylor’s Robert Griffin (2011)
THE LINEBACKER: Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o
Defensive players are at a disadvantage for the Heisman from the get-go. They don’t show up in highlights nearly as often as an offensive skill players. Their statistics aren’t readily available in a standard box score. And even some of those numbers -- such as subjective tackle stats -- are vulnerable to skepticism. It takes a big-play defensive player dominating in big games to crack the club of Heisman finalists. Think of LSU’s Tyrann Mathieu in 2011 and Nebraska’s Ndamukong Suh in 2009. Michigan's Charles Woodson is the last defensive player to win the award in 1997, but like Mathieu, he was a standout kick returner. If Te’o cracks the Heisman top five, he and Suh will be the only purely defensive players to do so since 1991.
Last defensive winner: Michigan’s Charles Woodson (1997)
THE RECEIVER: USC’s Marqise Lee
The most stunning part of Lee’s race for the Heisman may not be that he’s a wide receiver. It’s that he likely has outpaced the preseason Heisman frontrunner on his own team -- and a Heisman frontrunner in quarterback Matt Barkley who is connected directly to his success as a receiver. In a span of two weeks, Lee produced the top two of the top four single games in terms of all-purpose yards with 469 against Arizona and 408 yards against Oregon, though both were losses. Lee is more than two decades removed from the heyday of receivers in the Heisman voting: From 1987-91, two receivers won the Heisman (Michigan’s Desmond Howard and Notre Dame’s Tim Brown) and a third (Notre Dame’s Raghib Ismail) was a runner-up. Since 1991, only one receiver earned more than 300 points in the balloting. Pittsburgh’s Larry Fitzgerald was a narrow runner-up in 2003 by 128 points for the Heisman to Oklahoma quarterback Jason White.
Last wide receiver winner: Michigan’s Desmond Howard (1991)
THE SANCTIONED: Ohio State’s Braxton Miller
Ohio State’s choice to play in a bowl last season -- a loss to Florida in the Gator Bowl -- may have cost the Buckeyes the postseason this year. Even worse, it’s a decision that may end up costing Ohio State a Big Ten title and a BCS championship game appearance. However, there’s no NCAA rule against a player from a sanctioned team winning the Heisman or any other postseason awards. Last season, USC’s Matt Barkley finished sixth in the voting despite facing the final year of a bowl ban. Moreover, a player has won the Heisman after being punished personally for NCAA violations. Ohio State’s Troy Smith won the award in 2006, a year after he was suspended for receiving $500 from a booster. Miller was not implicated in the NCAA scandal that forced Jim Tressel to resign two years ago, so the closest parallel to Miller may be Houston’s Andre Ware. The Cougars quarterback remains the only player to win the Heisman from a team banned from the postseason and television appearances.
Last winner from a school on probation: Houston’s Andre Ware (1989)
With Louisville's loss to Syracuse, the battle to win the Big East title is a three-team race once again. The Cardinals, Rutgers and Cincinnati are in the mix to win the conference championship, with the Bearcats and Scarlet Knights matching up this Saturday.
Rutgers, Cincinnati or Louisville: Which Team Wins the Big East Title?
Mark Ennis, Manager of Big East Coast Bias (@Mengus22):
I think Louisville wins the title because I think Louisville will win its final two games. If you look at the teams that have really challenged Louisville, they've been teams that work from the spread, no-huddle offense. Offenses that work from pro sets, that run the ball with a fullback and try to pass from play-action, haven't been quite as difficult for Louisville to defend. Rutgers, almost all season, has gotten just enough offense and a ton of help from its defense and special teams to make up for what is lacking. Teams with a solid passing game (like Arkansas, and like Louisville) have moved the ball through the air on that defense. I suspect the game on the final Thursday of the regular season will be a low-scoring game that comes down to avoiding mistakes, and that Louisville will generate just enough offense to win the game and the conference.
David Fox (@DavidFox615):
Louisville remains the team to beat in the Big East, though the Cardinals were not impressive against Syracuse last week. I credit that loss to two things: First, Syracuse, a pretty good team on paper, played a perfect game for the first time all season. Second, Louisville had been flirting with an upset for several weeks now. The Cardinals finally got bit, but the Cardinals are good enough to turn around and finish out the season as Big East champions. The season-ending injury to Senorise Perry is concerning, but this is Teddy Bridgewater’s offense. And given Rutgers’ inability to score in the first half for the last six weeks, I can’t see the Scarlet Knights defeating Cincinnati this week, much less Louisville at the end of the season.
Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven):
Even though Louisville is coming off a loss to Syracuse, I still think the Cardinals win the Big East. With a matchup against Connecticut at home this Saturday, Louisville will have an opportunity to fix some of the problems in last week’s loss to the Orange. The Rutgers-Cincinnati game is a tossup this weekend, but the conference should be decided in the Louisville-Rutgers game on Nov. 29. The Bearcats’ chances of winning the conference have increased with Syracuse’s upset over the Cardinals, along with Brendon Kay’s insertion into the starting lineup at quarterback. However, even if Cincinnati knocks off Rutgers, I’ll take Louisville to knock off Rutgers in the season finale. The Scarlet Knights have won the last two matchups against Louisville, but I think the edge in that matchup still goes to the team (Cardinals) with a better coach (Charlie Strong) and quarterback (Teddy Bridgewater).
Louisville got its wake-up call last week as Syracuse handed the Cardinals their first loss of the season, dashing any dreams of a undefeated season in the process. However, all is certainly not lost for Charlie Strong's team as they still control their own destiny as it relates to the Big East title and a BCS bowl berth. Rutgers is leading the conference right now with an unblemished 4-0 mark, but the Scarlet Knights still have to go to Cincinnati and Pittsburgh before finishing the regular season by hosting Louisville. While the Bearcats could hand the Knights their first conference defeat this Saturday, I'm looking at the Thursday night primetime season finale in Piscataway, N.J., on Nov. 29 as the deciding factor in the Big East race. Even if Rutgers enters this game 6-0 in the conference, Louisville, behind Big East Player of the Year Teddy Bridgewater, will defeat the Knights on their home field to win the Big East title, not to mention earn a trip to a BCS bowl, by virtue of the Cardinals' head-to-head wins against both Rutgers and Cincinnati. The Cardinals won't finish this season undefeated, but that doesn't mean their 2012 campaign won't be one for the history books.
Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman):
I’m going to take Khaseem Greene and the Rutgers defense to carry the Scarlet Knights to their first-ever Big East championship. There was the slip up against Kent State (the Golden Flashes are 9-1), but first-year coach Kyle Flood has Rutgers unbeaten in league play with three challenging games to go. The trip to Cincinnati this Saturday will be difficult, as RU’s fifth-rated scoring defense (13.4 ppg) tries to stop George Winn and the league’s leading rushing attack. The Bearcats looked great versus Temple with Brendon Kay replacing Munchie Legaux at quarterback, but the Scarlet Knights dominated this one last year. I’ll take Jawan Jamison and the offense to control the clock and win at UC, and then beat Pittsburgh and Louisville. The Cardinals have an excellent record, but Charlie Strong’s crew has played inconsistently this season. All three teams could take the crown, but Rutgers stingy defense should make the difference.
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With Oregon's win over California, the Ducks moved to 10-0 with at least two games remaining. Oregon hosts Stanford this Saturday and plays at Oregon State the following week. If the Ducks navigate both games unbeaten, they will play in the Pac-12 title game against USC or UCLA.
Will Oregon Finish the 2012 Regular Season Unbeaten?
Coach Terry Donahue, former head coach of UCLA and current voting member of the Legends Poll:
I think Oregon will finish the season unbeaten. Oregon's quarterback, Mariota, is playing as well as any in the country. And I've just never been around a team or seen a team that is as hard to defense and stop with one week's preparation as Oregon is. I think they're the best team in the country.
Kyle Kensing (@Kensing45),SaturdayBlitz.com:
This Oregon football team is the best in Chip Kelly's tenure -- a lofty distinction given each of his previous three teams won the Pac-12. Now that said, this season the conference is at its best all-around during the same span, and Oregon is facing its toughest stretch of 2012. To borrow a line from Scarface, it's no duck walk for Oregon (cue groans) but it will go undefeated.
Stanford is a great team with a style on the opposite end of the spectrum from UO, but the Ducks easily handled the Cardinal the last two seasons -- those were better Stanford teams. Oregon State has vastly exceeded expectations, and the Beavers host the Civil War. Yet as good as OSU's been defending the rush, I don't see it slowing Kenjon Barner and De'Anthony Thomas.
That leaves the conference championship and the winner of UCLA-USC coming to Autzen. USC scored 51 points on what is typically a very good Oregon defense, and lost. Last time in Autzen, USC played about as close to a perfect game as it could and would have lost had UO had 50 more seconds. Since the Cal loss, UCLA has made the longest in-season strides of any team in the nation, but the Bruins' style when paired against Oregon becomes a struggle-in-quicksand scenario.
David Fox (@DavidFox615):
Oregon is the best team remaining among the three undefeated teams atop the BCS standings. That said, Oregon stands the best chance of losing before bowl season. Injuries are catching up to the Ducks at just the wrong time with a game against a physical Stanford team coming up. The greatest X-factor in that game, though, may be the play of new Stanford starting quarterback Kevin Hogan. And beyond that game, Oregon will go to Corvallis. Oregon undoubtedly has an edge with four consecutive wins, but crazy things happen in this rivalry.
Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven):
With Alabama’s loss to Texas A&M, the path to the national title is clear for Oregon. If the Ducks win their final three games, there’s little doubt they will play for the BCS title in early January. However, mounting injuries are a concern for coach Chip Kelly and his team. Oregon has lost a handful of key players on defense, and the front seven was full of backups against California. Making matters worse for the Ducks is a schedule that will only get more difficult over the next few weeks. Stanford’s physical offensive line and front seven on defense will be a difficult matchup for Oregon. And a road date against rival Oregon State won’t be easy, especially since the Beavers could be playing for a BCS bowl. Although the schedule is going to get tougher and the injuries are a concern, I think the Ducks will run the table and finish the regular season unbeaten. Even though the defense may give some points over the next few weeks, there are few offenses that can match Oregon’s high-powered attack.
Provided Oregon avoids a significant injury (Kenjon Barner, Marcus Mariota I'm looking at you), I see no reason why the Ducks won't finish the regular season as the undefeated champions of the Pac-12. There's no doubt they will have to earn it, with games against Stanford, at Oregon State and then presumably either a rematch with USC or meeting with UCLA in the Pac-12 title game remaining, but the Ducks simply have too much offense for any of these teams to overcome in my opinion. Yes, Stanford and Oregon State appear to have much better defenses, at least on paper, then what USC (62 points, 730 yards allowed) and Oregon's other conference victims have put up thus far. However, Oregon's offense looks pretty good on paper too, and it's been even more lethal and dangerous on the field. Whether it's the explosiveness of the Ducks' skill players, their offensive tempo or quick-strike ability, sooner or later, they will put points on the board, as in 54.8 per game. That's nearly 17 more than the next highest-scoring Pac-12 team, which isn't Stanford or Oregon State. The Cardinal and the Beavers may be able to slow down the Ducks, but I don't see either team or the eventual South champion stopping Chip Kelly's squad in their goal of getting to the BCS National Championship Game in Miami Gardens, Fla., in January.
Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman):
I believe the Ducks will run the table, but it’s not going to be easy battling three solid opponents and mounting injuries. Oregon will be favored against Stanford, Oregon State and the Pac-12 South winner (USC/UCLA), but the attrition on defense is becoming a big concern. The Ducks have lost safeties John Boyett and Avery Patterson for the season, and several other stalwarts like Dion Jordan and Michael Clay have missed time. Obviously if Chip Kelly’s crew keeps scoring at the current level (55.1 points per game in Pac-12 play), no one may be able to keep up with the Ducks. Both the Cardinal and Beavers rank in the top ten in the country in rushing defense, but Oregon torched both of those teams on the ground last season. I see the most dangerous opponent for UO being state-rival OSU but will project the Ducks to go undefeated and play in the BCS Championship game.
Related College Football Content
Each week, the Athlon editors and others who closely follow college football vote on the most prestigious award in the sport. A 13-man conglomerate of college football gurus from Athlon Sports and other publications cast their votes for their top Heisman Trophy candidates. The votes will be tallied and the results will be posted as the Athlon Sports Heisman Watch List every week of the regular season.
Voting: Each first-place vote receives 10 points. A second-place vote receives nine points. So on and so forth with a 10th-place vote receiving one point. Here are Athlon's guest voters:
Barrett Sallee: Bleacher Report SEC Lead Writer (@BarrettSallee)
Jim Young: ACCSports.com (@ACCSports)
Blair Kerkhoff: Kansas City Star (@BlairKerkhoff)
Chris Level: RedRaiderSports.com (@ChrisLevel)
1. Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State (11 first place votes)
Stats: 145-208, 2,020 yards, 12 TD, 3 INT, 154 att., 748 yards, 19 TD
Klein dealt with some adversity from the Horned Frogs defensive line this weekend but still led KSU to victory. He rushed for two key touchdowns and still is the Big 12's most efficient passer with a rating of 167.44. The rest of the field is gaining ever so slightly on CK7, but should he defeat Baylor and Texas, the award will be his — which would be Kansas State's first Heisman Trophy. Next Game: at Baylor
|1.||(1)||Collin Klein||QB||Kansas St||128/130||11||2||-||-||-||13/13|
|2.||(5)||Johnny Manziel||QB||Texas A&M||106/130||1||5||3||3||1||13/13|
|3.||(3)||Manti Te'o||LB||Notre Dame||91/130||1||2||2||4||2||13/13|
|4.||(2)||Braxton Miller||QB||Ohio St||87/130||-||4||2||1||-||13/13|
|9.||(9)||Giovani Bernard||RB||N. Carolina||16/130||-||-||-||-||-||6/13|
|13.||(18)||Jordan Lynch||QB||N. Illinois||6/130||-||-||-||-||-||3/13|
|15t.||(10)||Geno Smith||QB||W. Virginia||4/130||-||-||-||-||-||2/13|
|18.||(16)||Damontre Moore||DE||Texas A&M||2/130||-||-||-||-||-||1/13|
Stats: 227-336, 2,780 yards, 18 TD, 6 INT, 156 att., 1,014 yards, 15 TD
Few players have ever had a game like Manziel did on Saturday night in Tuscaloosa. He completed 24-of-31 passes for 253 yards and two touchdowns through the air while rushing for 92 yards on 18 carries. He made clutch throw after clutch throw on the road in arguably the most hostile environment in all of college football. And he may have single-handedly changed the complexion of the national championship race. Next Week: Sam Houston State
Stats: 92 tackles, 5.5 TFL, 6 INT, 1.5 sack, FR, 4 PBU
Te'o intercepted his sixth pass of the season and posted five total tackles in the easy road win over Boston College. He trails only Fresno State's Phillip Thomas for the national lead in INTs (8). Te'o is all but assured a spot in New York, but can a defensive player win the prestigious stiff-armed trophy? It would be only the second time in history that has happened, but beating Wake Forest and USC to give ND its first unbeaten season since 1988, would give him as good a chance as anyone else. Next Game: Wake Forest
4. Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State
Stats: 124-218, 1,753 yards, 14 TD, 6 INT, 184 att., 1,166 yards, 13 TD
It isn't exactly fair that Miller drops two spots in the Heisman voting just because he didn't play. He has been the Big Ten's Offensive Player of the Year and will finish his sophomore season with a road trip to Wisconsin and a home test against the hated Michigan Wolverines. There is still plenty of heavy lifting left for a quarterback who could finish unbeaten himself this fall. Next Game: at Wisconsin
Stats: 153-217, 1,787 yards, 22 TD, 5 INT, 72 att., 474 yards, 3 TD
When the Golden Bears loaded up to stop Kenjon Barner (and actually injured the star tailback) and Chip Kelly turned to his redshirt freshman quarterback. Mariota answered the bell with 377 yards passing, 42 yards rushing and six passing touchdowns. He is now the leading the nation in passing efficiency (176.96), has accounted for 31 touchdowns for the best offense in the nation and has his team poised for a berth in the national title game. And he's done it without playing in many second halves all year. Next Game: Stanford
6. Marqise Lee, WR, USC
Stats: 98 rec., 1,447 yards, 13 TD, 23 KR, 677 yards, TD, 110 yards rushing
Next Game: at UCLA
7. Kenjon Barner, RB, Oregon
Stats: 199 att., 1,360 yards, 19 TD, 18 rec., 219 yards, TD
Next Game: Stanford
Stats: 157-238, 2,158 yards, 20 TD, 2 INT, 39 att., minus-43 yards rushing, TD
Next Game: Western Carolina
9. Giovani Bernard, RB, North Carolina
Stats: 142 att., 1,008 yards, 11 TD, 38 rec., 411 yards, 4 TD, 14 PR, 251 yards, 2 TD
Next Game: at Virginia
10. Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson
Stats: 210-309, 2,941 yards, 28 TD, 9 INT, 122 att., 363 yards, 5 TD
Next game: Arizona State
by Braden Gall
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Three and Out: Week 11 Recap
ACC Post-Week 11 Power Rankings
Big East Post-Week 11 Power Rankings
Big Ten Post-Week 11 Power Rankings
Big 12 Post-Week 11 Power Rankings
Pac-12 East Post-Week 11 Power Rankings
SEC Post-Week 11 Power Rankings
At this point in the season, most fantasy rosters are set and getting prepped for league semi-final matchups. However, we couldn’t ignore some valuable waiver opportunities if you are looking for a little fine-tuning.
Devin Gardner, QB-Michigan
If you are desperate at quarterback and have been left without any insurance behind Denard Robinson, it would be wise to scoop up Gardner, especially since he has a decent Week 12 matchup.
Jordan Parker, RB-Middle Tennessee
We put Parker on this list a few weeks ago when Ben Cunningham suffered a season-ending knee injury. If he is still floating around on waivers, owners would be wise to take advantage of a Week 12 matchup against South Alabama.
Matt Brown, RB-Temple
Montel Harris left last week’s game after a first-half injury against Cincinnati. Brown, who is returning from injury himself, may wind up getting the nod against Army if Harris can’t go this week.
Curtis McNeal, RB-USC
Reportedly, starting running back Silas Redd is battling an ankle injury. If he is not 100% by the weekend, look for Curtis McNeal to get the starting nod for a second straight game.
Tre Mason, RB-Auburn
Mason is nothing more than a one-week value play, but a matchup against Alabama A&M makes him worth a waiver claim.
Justin Brown, WR-Oklahoma
Brown has at least six receptions, 80 yards receiving, and a touchdown in each of his last two games. Those numbers might take a bump this week when the Sooners travel to Morgantown to take on West Virginia.
William Dukes, WR-Florida Atlantic
Dukes has posted at least 75 yards receiving or six receptions in eight of ten games this season. If he can find the end zone in Week 12, Dukes would be worthy of a WR#3 or WR#4 in deeper leagues.
Did you miss last week’s waiver report? See it here.
by Joe DiSalvo, thecffsite.com
Follow Joe on twitter (@theCFFsite)
NFL Week 11 previews and predictions for every game on the schedule:
Dolphins (4-5) at Bills (3-6)
The home team is 7–3 on Thursday night this year, so there is a chance that Buffalo fans could witness their first win at Ralph Wilson Stadium since Week 2 against the Chiefs.
Bills by 1
Bengals (4-5) at Chiefs (1-8)
Kansas City is 0–4 at Arrowhead this season and just 1–8 at home dating back to last year.
Bengals by 7
Eagles (3-6) at Redskins (3-6)
Mike Shanahan has a 10–6 record in games immediately following his bye. But this will be the third straight year the Skins play the Eagles after the bye; they’re 0–2 in those contests, with a 59–28 loss in 2010 and 20–13 loss last year.
Redskins by 3
Jaguars (1-8) at Texans (8-1)
The Jags are happy to leave Jacksonville, where they have been outscored 153–44. Strangely, the teal team has only been outscored 93–83 on the road. They must like playing in front of a crowd.
Texans by 16
Jets (3-6) at Rams (3-5-1)
Rex Ryan is standing by his man Mark Sanchez despite the fact that the Jets have scored only one offensive TD over their last eight quarters.
Rams by 3
Browns (2-7) at Cowboys (4-5)
This is a classic trap game for Dallas — tucked between a win over the Eagles and a Turkey Day showdown with the Redskins.
Cowboys by 8
Buccaneers (5-4) at Panthers (2-7)
Tampa Bay’s Josh Freeman has thrown 13 TDs and one INT while leading the Bucs to a 4–1 record over his last five games. Carolina’s Cam Newton has passed for four TDs, five INTs and has a 1–4 mark over the same time frame.
Buccaneers by 4
Packers (6-3) at Lions (4-5)
The last time Titletown’s team traveled to the Motor City, Lions wild child Ndamukong Suh was ejected for stomping on Thanksgiving.
Packers by 7
Cardinals (4-5) at Falcons (8-1)
Matt Ryan has an 8–0 record after a loss over the last two years and a 14–3 career mark.
Falcons by 9
Saints (4-5) at Raiders (3-6)
If they’re not careful, the Saints’ march back into the playoff picture will get lost in the Black Hole.
Saints by 6
Colts (6-3) at Patriots (6-3)
Hopefully Tom Brady will spark up a rivalry with Andrew Luck like he had with the other guy.
Patriots by 9
Chargers (4-5) at Broncos (6-3)
Peyton Manning threw his 420th TD pass and won his 147th game last week, tying Dan Marino on both all-time lists. Time to pass Dan the Man.
Broncos by 6
Ravens (7-2) at Steelers (6-3)
Pittsburgh’s Emmanuel Sanders was fined $15K for faking an injury. But Ben Roethlisberger’s right shoulder injury appears to be very real. Surviving Baltimore without Big Ben will be tough.
Steelers by 2
Bears (7-2) at 49ers (6-2-1)
Chi-town’s Jay Cutler and San Fran’s Alex Smith suffered concussions in disappointing games, leaving backups Jason Campbell and Colin Kaepernick in charge until further notice.
49ers by 4
Last week: 10-4 // Season: 98-48
Athlon Sports' weekly rankings of NFL teams — from the best, the one-loss Houston Texans, to the worst, the clawless one-win Jacksonville Jaguars.
Here are our NFL Power Rankings following Week 10 of the season:
1. Texans (8-1) Survive rain in Windy City for hard-fought victory.
2. Falcons (8-1) Tony Gonzalez becomes first TE to catch 100 TDs.
3. Packers (6-3) Aaron Rodgers watches brother Jordan win on bye.
4. Bears (7-2) Jay Cutler knocked out of game in loss to Texans.
5. Ravens (7-2) Set new franchise record for points scored (55).
6. Steelers (6-3) Big Ben throwing shoulder injury a big concern.
7. Giants (6-4) Phil Simms says Eli Manning not “elite” NFL QB.
8. 49ers (6-2-1) Sloppy effort vs. Rams in first tie since 2008.
9. Patriots (6-3) Improve to 20–2 against Bills in last 22 games.
10. Broncos (6-3) John Fox’s return to Carolina ends with easy win.
11. Colts (6-3) Chuck Strong en route to fourth straight victory.
12. Vikings (6-4) Samantha Steele good luck for Christian Ponder.
13. Seahawks (6-4) Marshawn Lynch tops 1,000 rushing yards in win.
14. Saints (4-5) Improve to 4–1 after 0–4 start with win vs. Atlanta.
15. Cowboys (4-5) After all this, Boys just 1.5 games behind G-Men.
16. Bengals (4-5) A.J. Green was right about “holes” in Giants’ D.
17. Buccaneers (5-4) Blocked punt for TD and INT for TD help beat Bolts.
18. Chargers (4-5) Philip Rivers’ decision-making results in defeat.
19. Titans (4-6) Bud Adams sees 34-point win after 31-point loss.
20. Dolphins (4-5) Defense allows first 100-yard rusher in 23 games.
21. Lions (4-5) Megatron tops 200 yards but loses crucial fumble.
22. Rams (3-5-1) Missed 58-yard FG results in 18th tie since 1974.
23. Cardinals (4-5) Michael Floyd making case for more playing time.
24. Redskins (3-6) RG3 looking for first division win following bye.
25. Eagles (3-6) Rookie Nick Foles replaced concussed Mike Vick.
26. Jets (3-6) Mark Sanchez loses to old USC coach Pete Carroll.
27. Bills (3-6) Ryan Fitzpatrick throws game away at Patriots.
28. Raiders (3-6) Tie franchise record for most points allowed (55).
29. Panthers (2-7) Cam Newton harassed by Von Miller in ugly loss.
30. Browns (2-7) CEO Joe Banner uses bye to evaluate entire team.
31. Chiefs (1-8) Marty Schottenheimer could return in advisor role.
32. Jaguars (1-8) Have lost nine of last 10 games on prime time TV.
The first time Brad Keselowski asked Paul Wolfe to be his crew chief, Wolfe didn’t flinch.
“He looked me in the eye and said, ‘No, I don’t want to do it,’” Keselowski said. “I think he was kind of mad at me because I had wrecked (his car).”
It was Aug. 2009 when Keselowski posed the question to Wolfe, a former driver turned crew chief working for CJM Racing.
A few months later, as Keselowski and Penske Racing officials made plans for the following season, they told Keselowski they were considering Wolfe as his crew chief.
“I kind of laughed and said, ‘good luck,’” Keselowski said. “They said, ‘We’ve been talking to him the last two weeks and he wants to do it.’”
So, what changed? What led to the pairing of a driver and crew chief on the cusp of winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship this weekend at Homestead?
Simple, the funding for Wolfe’s team wasn’t there. He had said no to Keselowski because of his loyalty to CJM Racing but with the lack of funding a question, Wolfe considered other options, including Penske.
“As I sat down and looked at them, I had raced with Brad and seen what he was able to do,” Wolfe said. “I felt like together, him and I, could hopefully win races and contend for championships. The opportunity was here at Penske to do that.”
Keselowski says he first approached Wolfe to be his crew chief because he saw something most outside the sport couldn’t see in what Wolfe was doing.
“He was a guy who outperformed his resources,” Keselowski said. “In this sport excellence is defined by the media and the fans as those who win. Those inside the sport, those who actually compete, define excellence as those who outperform their resources. So if you’re running 20th in 30th-place equipment, that’s how we would define excellence as a driver or as a crew chief you’re putting together race-winning cars with a team that has C- or D-level budget. That’s how you define excellence. That’s what I saw in Paul. That’s what he saw in me.”
Now, they are on the verge of winning the Cup title two years after they combined to win the Nationwide championship.
TITLE RACES Here’s a look at the clinch scenarios for each of NASCAR’s three national series this weekend in Homestead.
Sprint Cup: Brad Keselelowski has a 20-point lead on Jimmie Johnson. Keselowski wins the title, regardless of what Johnson does, by finishing at least 15th. Keselowski also can clinch the title by finishing 16th and collecting a bonus point for leading a lap or by finishing 17th and adding the bonus point for leading the most laps.
Nationwide: Ricky Stenhouse Jr. has a 20-point lead on Elliott Sadler. Stenhouse wins the title, regardless of what Sadler does, by finishing 16th or better. Stenhouse also can clinch the title by earning the bonus point for leading a lap and finishing 17th or by adding the bonus point for leading the most laps and finishing 18th.
Camping World Trucks: James Buescher has an 11-point lead on Timothy Peters. Buescher clinches the title, no matter what Peters does, by finishing seventh or better. Peters also can clinch by securing the bonus point for leading a lap and finishing eighth or adding the bonus point for most laps led and finishing ninth.
NATIONWIDE SCHEDULE RELEASED Mid-Ohio will replace the Montreal road race on the 2013 Nationwide schedule, series officials announced Tuesday.
The Mid-Ohio race will be Aug. 17. It marks the first time the series has run on the 2.4-mile, 15-turn course. Mid-Ohio will be one of three road courses on the schedule, joining Road America (June 22) and Watkins Glen (Aug. 10).
Mid-Ohio was added after the Montreal race promoter decided not to renew its contract with NASCAR since it could not get a Sprint Cup race. The Mid-Ohio course is located about an hour drive from Columbus, Ohio, which is home of series sponsor Nationwide Insurance.
The 33-race Nationwide schedule for next season features six standalone races — Iowa (June 8 and Aug. 3), Chicagoland Speedway (July 21), Kentucky Speedway (Sept. 21), Mid-Ohio and Road America. The remaining 27 races will be run on the same weekend with the Cup Series.
The Nationwide season will open Feb. 23 at Daytona and end Nov. 16 at Homestead.
STREAKING As NASCAR’s top three series head into the final weekend of the season, a few drivers are trying to keep streaks alive. Among them:
Ryan Newman is seeking to win a Cup pole for a 12th consecutive season. Only Jeff Gordon (20 consecutive years) has a longer streak among active drivers.
Kurt Busch is looking to win a Cup race for the 11th consecutive season. Only Tony Stewart (14 years in a row) and Jimmie Johnson (11) have longer streaks among current drivers.
In the Nationwide Series, Kyle Busch seeks a win to extend his streak of consecutive seasons with at least a victory to nine.
In the Camping World Truck Series, both Kyle Busch and Ron Hornaday need a win to extend their streak of consecutive seasons with at least a victory to eight. Hornaday’s streak of seven consecutive seasons with at least a pole will end if he doesn’t win the pole this weekend.
PIT STOPS Tony Stewart will make his 500th career Cup start Sunday at Homestead. He’s scored 47 wins, 174 top-5 and 282 top-10 finishes in his first 499 career Cup starts. ... Homestead will mark Jeff Gordon’s 689th consecutive start, third on the all-time list. Ricky Rudd holds the record with 788 consecutive starts and Rusty Wallace is next at 697. With the current schedule at 36 races, Gordon could pass Rudd late in the 2015 season.
by Dustin Long
Follow Dustin Long on Twitter: @DustinLong
Just when it looked like the New Orleans Saints were down for the count, the fleurs-de-lis from the French Quarter bounced back off the mat with a 31–27 upset win over the previously unbeaten NFC South rival Atlanta Falcons.
There had been plenty of reasons to count out the Saints. The offseason suspensions of coach Sean Payton, middle linebacker Jonathan Vilma, defensive end Will Smith and several other key members of the team’s coaching staff and roster as a result of “Bounty Gate” would have crippled most clubs. And when the appeals process spilled into the season, the ongoing feud with Commissioner Roger Goodell did not seem good for anything other than an off-field distraction of the highest order.
An 0–4 record to start the season reaffirmed the preconceived notion that the 2012 season was a placeholder year for New Orleans, a punishment for allegedly attempting to knock out Brett Favre, Kurt Warner and a handful of other players. After all, the Saints lost to a quartet of teams — the Redskins, Panthers, Chiefs and Packers — that carry a combined 12–24 record heading into Week 11. And Green Bay boasts half of those dozen combined victories.
But record-breaking Super Bowl XLIV MVP quarterback Drew Brees promised all was not lost. For some reason, he was convinced the 2012 season could be saved.
“This team is all in,” Brees said after a winless first quarter of the year. “They are on the cusp of becoming a very productive, winning team.”
It turns out, Brees wasn’t another big talker on Bourbon Street. The man who led New Orleans from the dark depths of Hurricane Katrina to the top of the Super Bowl mountain knew what he was talking about.
Since starting 0–4, the Saints have gone 4–1, a stretch during which Brees has thrown 15 TDs and just four INTs. As the famous saying goes: “They don’t ask how, they ask how many?” But this past week’s victory over the 8–0 Falcons meant more than just another notch in the win column. Atlanta’s Matt Ryan entered with a 2–6 career record against the Saints and a 1–3 mark on the road in what has been the Big un-Easy for him.
New Orleans intended to keep Ryan and Atlanta coach Mike Smith — who arrived in the division the same year as “Matty Ice” — on edge, while re-establishing the Saints as a legit contender in the NFC Wild Card race.
Following the statement victory, New Orleans has a 4–5 record and momentum on its side. And guess what? Just like earlier this season, Brees thinks the Saints are a team to be reckoned with.
“I feel like our best football is yet to come,” said Brees. “We’ve played some really good games, we’ve beaten some very good opponents in some big-time situations, but I truly believe that our best is yet to come.”
The early season tournament season is under way, first with the NIT Tip-Off and now the Puerto Rico Classic, beginning Thursday.
The even in San Juan will be a proving ground for the major teams involved. For NC State, it’s a chance to prove the Wolfpack belong in the national elite. For Oklahoma State, Tennessee and UMass, it’s a chance to prove they’re ready to contend for the NCAA Tournament.
Here’s our preview of the action down in Puerto Rico
Overriding question: Can NC State deliver on preseason promise?
After adding McDonald’s All-American Rodney Purvis to Sweet 16 veterans C.J. Leslie and Lorenzo Brown, the Wolfpack will be under the microscope early this season. Being picked by ACC coaches to win the league (Athlon picked NC State second after Duke) only ramped up expectations. NC State will be tested, though, in San Juan. If NC State is indeed an ACC title contender, the Wolfpack should make easy work of its side of the bracket, but Oklahoma State and Tennessee -- both hopeful to return to the NCAA Tournament -- are stocked with talent. Emerge from this field, and NC State will be on its way to delivering on expectations. Fail, and Mark Gottfried’s team will have questions into games against Michigan and Connecticut.
Intriguing matchup: Oklahoma State vs. Tennessee in the semifinal
Both have realistic hopes of returning to the NCAA Tournament after falling short last season. A potential meeting between the two teams Friday could be telling. Oklahoma State added freshman point guard Marcus Smart to the mix this season. He could be a stabilizing force who make the talent around him better. That seemed to be the case in the opener when Smart had seven assists and eight points in the 73-65 win over UC Davis. Tennessee was green to start last season but improved enough to go 10-6 in the SEC. That wasn’t enough for an NCAA Tourney bid, but it built plenty of momentum for the Volunteers’ this season.
Player to watch: Jarnell Stokes, Tennessee
Stokes was a major reason for the Vols’ resurgence late in the season, so how his presence for a full season lifts Cuonzo Martin’s team will be worth watching. In Puerto Rico, Stokes will be even more the focal point as fellow forward Jeronne Maymon misses the remainder of the month while recovering from knee surgery. Together, Stokes and Maymon form the SEC’s top frontcourt. For the time being, Stokes is going to have to get used to double and triple teams.
PUERTO RICO TIP-OFF
Individual matchup to watch: Penn State’s Tim Frazier vs. NC State’s Lorenzo Brown
Brown, the top point guard in the ACC, will be worth watching throughout the tournament. He’ll open with Tim Frazier, who’s a one-man show for a team that’s going to struggle to win games in the Big Ten this season. From there, Brown could face UMass’ 5-foot-9 dynamo Chaz Williams and potentially either Tennessee’s Trae Golden or Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart.
Freshman to watch: Rodney Purvis, NC State
The McDonald’s All-American is the only new face in the NC State starting lineup, which returns four starters from last season. Brown, Leslie and forward Richard Howell will shoulder more of the load than Purvis, so he needs to be more of a complementary player. At least in the opener, he thrived in that role.
Mid-major to watch: UMass
The Minutemen already had a close call this season, scoring the final eight points in a 67-64 win over Harvard on Tuesday. Point guard Chaz Williams scored 12 points and added 10 assists, the last of which off a drive to the basket to Sampson Carter for the game-winning three-pointer against the Crimson. The Minutemen draw Providence, who will struggle to win games without point guard Vincent Council.
By David Fox
Much like music or movies, beauty lies in the eye of the beholder when it comes to analyzing sports talk radio. As someone who was raised listening to sports talk all over the country and going to sporting events all over this great nation (thanks Dad), the radio dial was entrenched into my soul at a young age.
Then I took it to another level by taking my first job out of college working for Sirius Satellite Radio on Rivals Radio as a morning show producer. Needless to say, sports talk radio is ingrained in my DNA and is a part of who I am today. As a sports writer and radio host for nearly 10 years, I feel uniquely qualified to cast my ballot in this election, so here is my personal ranking of the best national sports talk radio programs.
And there is little competition for the top slot in my opinion:
1. The Dan Patrick Show
Who/When: Dan Patrick and the Dannettes, 9 a.m.-12 p.m. ET
Network: Fox Sports Radio Network, DirecTV Sports Group
There is one show and one man who stand above the rest when it comes to national sports talk radio. No one cares more about his audience, conducts better interviews, has more fun and does it with the better guests on tricked out sets at sick on-site locations. Dan and his band of merry Dannettes have redefined how sports fans consume sports talk radio programming. Be it gorgeous in-studio appearances by super models, a good-natured rivalry with ESPN, multiple man caves and an innovative HD TV simulcast, fans get the most in-depth, insightful and entertaining sports programming ever created. You can watch @DPShow on the DirecTV's Audience Network and on NBC Sports Network.
2. Mike and Mike in the Morning
Who/When: Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic, 6-10 a.m. ET
Network: ESPN Radio
Few shows have more power and backing than M&M In the Morning. They are consummate professionals who are as polished a radio duo as we have ever seen in the business. The show can be a bit cheesy at times but that is who they are, they embrace it and it works. Guest lists are huge, radio bits are masterfully produced and ESPN’s backing means this program has more built-in resources than any other program on the airwaves. Be prepared to be inundated with sponsors and ads, but that comes with the lofty ratings territory @MikeAndMike enjoy.
3. The Doug Gottlieb Show
Who/When: Doug Gottlieb, 3-6 p.m. ET
Network: CBS Sports Radio
Sharp, quippy and eager to lock opinions with any and all comers, Gottlieb brings a smart intellect and astute ability to craft an opinion to the CBS Sports Radio family. He played basketball at Notre Dame and Oklahoma State before getting started in the media for ESPN. Many athletes are smart, funny and hard-working enough to develop into excellent radio co-hosts, but few can do a solo show as the host like Gottlieb. Hosting and co-hosting are two totally different skill sets. If you want NCAA basketball information and conversation, there might not be a better place to turn than @GottliebShow.
4. The SiriusXM Blitz
Who/When: Adam Schein and Rich Gannon, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. ET
Network: SiriusXM NFL Radio Ch. 88
You may not love Adam Schein’s voice all the time, but his radio program is gold. Super Bowl quarterback Rich Gannon and the long-time New York-based broadcaster bring a level of insight and information to the NFL arena like nowhere else on the radio dial. @AdamSchein has worked for WFAN and Fox Sports before starting his gig on SiriusXM as well as his nightly SNY television program "Loud Mouths" with Chris Carlin at 6 p.m. ET. If you want exclusive NFL sports talk radio, there is no better place to tune than SiriusXM Channel 88 from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. ET every day.
5. SVP and Russillo
Who/When: Scott Van Pelt and Ryen Russillo, 1-4 p.m. ET
Network: ESPN Radio
Scott Van Pelt is following in many classic SportsCenter anchors' footsteps in going from the TV set to the radio booth. He is extremely fair, balanced, willing to listen and generally entertaining. SVP added co-host Ryen Russillo in May of 2009. @RyenaRussillo adds his own flair to the show after working in the northeast for most of his career. @NotTheFakeSVP's love of college sports (and the Maryland Terrapins) makes this one popular amongst the collegiate faithful out there. There are some hilarious bits like “Carl’s Stone Cold Lock of the Century of the Week” from famous "Aqua Team Hunger Force" cartoon character Carl. This is a reasonable, thoughtful and entertaining program and can be followed at @SVPandRussillo.
6. 247 Sports Radio On Campus
Who/When: Bill King, 6-9 a.m. ET
Network: SiriusXM College Sports Nation Ch. 91
The VOX of College Sports, @BillIsKing has forgotten more about college football than every other host on this list have ever known… combined. His depth of knowledge has been built over two decades in the radio business, headquartered in the heart of the Southeast in Nashville, Tenn. He was a heavy-hitter in the national football recruiting business long before the Internet made star rankings chic. King is armed with a deep and often hilarious vocabulary and the ability to form unwavering and rational opinions about the sport he so clearly loves. If you are a college football fan, this is easily the best show on the airwaves. Don’t expect to be overwhelmed with cheesy gimmicks or promotional bits, as this is a no-frills program. And unlike many national shows, expect to have your voice heard as phone calls are part of King’s plan.
7. The Steve Czaban Show
Who/When: Steve Czaban, 6-10 a.m. ET
Network: Yahoo! Sports Radio
A two-decade mainstay in sports talk radio, @Czabe has worked in Santa Barbara, Chicago, Milwaukee, Charlotte, D.C. and for Fox Sports Radio, Sporting News and ESPN Radio. When Yahoo! Sports Radio took over Sporting News, Czaban was tabbed as the morning drivetime host of choice. Various bits like The Daily Czabe, Mancrush, Lock It Up have kept the Round Hill, Va., native in the business for nearly 20 years.
8. The Tim Brando Show
Who/When: Tim Brando, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. ET
Network: Yahoo! Sports Radio, CBS Sports Radio
If you can handle the ocassional pomp and circumstance, @TimBrando show is one of the nation’s best for a couple of reasons. First, he cares. His love of sports, college football in particular, comes through in every segment he does. His long tenure in national broadcasting with ESPN, Turner Sports, Fox Sports Net and CBS Sports gives him a unique and historic perspective on all sports.
9. The Jim Rome Show
Who/When: Jim Rome, 12-3 p.m. ET
Network: CBS Sports Radio and Premiere Radio Network
Few people have ever had the clout, ratings and compensation that @jimrome boasts in this business. However, he has done so appealing to the lowest common denominator. There is rarely any middle ground with Rome, as fans either hate his overplayed shtick or crave his extremely popular bits like the infamous Smack-off. Few people are as powerful in sports as Rome. But his radio show isn’t for everyone.
10. The Nick and Artie Show
Who/When: Artie Lange and Nick DiPaolo, 10 p.m.-1 a.m. ET
Network: Premiere Radio Network, DirecTV Sports Group
This program easily has the least amount of sports content, but it is no less entertaining. DiPaolo and Lange aren’t professional radio hosts, but they are both elite level entertainers, comedians and guy’s guys. Gorgeous women, music, comedy and a killer TV simulcast on DirecTV’s Audience Network have quickly made @NickandArtie a late night gem.
11. Colin Cowherd, ESPN Radio, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. ET
Extremely thoughtful and well-spoken host who makes a living stirring the pot.
12. Mad Dog Unleashed (Chris Russo), SiriusXM Mad Dog Radio Ch. 86, 2-7 p.m. ET
Former NYC radio star has moved his powerful rants to the satellite airwaves.
13. Inside Pitch (Casey Stern, Jim Bowden), SiriusXM MLB Network Radio Ch. 89, 2-6 p.m. ET
Longtime journalist and MLB GM take calls, break news and analyze America's pastime.
14. The Morning Drive (Mike Bagley, Pete Pistone), SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Ch. 90, 7-11 a.m. ET
Entertaining, lively and extremely well-informed. If you like racing, this show needs to be on your dial.
15. Paul Finebaum, SiriusXM Satellite Radio, College Sports Nation Ch. 91, 2-7 p.m. ET
If you enjoy rival fans lobbing hate-filled rants at each other, tune in. Otherwise, be careful.
Others to note:
Loose Cannons (Pat O’Brien, Vic Jacobs, Steve Hartman), Fox Sports Radio, 3-7 p.m. ET
Travis Rodgers NOW, Yahoo! Sports Radio, 1-4 p.m. ET
The John Kincade Show, ESPN Radio, 7-10 p.m. ET
The John Feinstein Show, CBS Sports Radio, 9 a.m.-12 p.m. ET
Ferrall On the Bench (Scott Ferrall), CBS Sports Radio, 10 p.m.-2 p.m. ET
Movin The Chains (Pat Kirwan, Tim Ryan), SiriusXM NFL Radio Ch. 88, 3-7 p.m. ET
— By Braden Gall
It could be argued that everyone in sports is overpaid. But compared to the amount of money being made by leagues, owners and even other players, there are some who deserve considerably more money than they are currently making.
1. Manti Te’o, LB, Notre Dame Fighting Irish
2012 salary (scholarship): $57,805
The average Notre Dame undergraduate student expense budget (according to ND.edu) includes $42,971 in tuition and fees, $11,934 in room and board, $1,200 in personal expenses, $950 in books and supplies, and $750 in transportation. That’s a lot of gold flake. Even better, the senior design major is on pace to graduate from Notre Dame’s College of Arts and Letters — after graduating from Honolulu’s Punahou School, the same high school as President Barack Obama.
On the other side of the gold coin, the Te’o-led No. 2 ranked scoring defense (11.1 ppg) in the country has led the Fighting Irish to a 10–0 start and all but secured a BCS bowl berth — and roughly $20 million payout — for Notre Dame. Te’o is one of the most important players in ND history. The Heisman Trophy candidate middle linebacker has led Notre Dame back into the national title hunt and returned the Irish to legitimate NBC “must see TV” national prominence. What is the value of that?
2. Buster Posey, C, San Francisco Giants
2012 salary: $615,000
The Giants have won the World Series in both of Posey’s healthy seasons in the big leagues — beating the Texas Rangers during his Rookie of the Year campaign in 2010 and taking down the Detroit Tigers during his NL batting champ (.336) season in 2012. Along with being award-worthy, Posey is the club’s heart and soul behind the plate, managing one of the best pitching staffs in all of baseball.
3. Mike Trout, OF, Los Angeles Angels
2012 salary: $480,000
The 20-year-old first-year phenom had one of the greatest rookie seasons in history — hitting .326 with 30 HRs and 83 RBIs, while leading the AL in with 49 stolen bases and 129 runs scored. And he did so at 1/25th of the price of free-agent teammate Albert Pujols ($12 million in 2012). After falling out of the sky to the Angels at No. 25 overall in the 2009 MLB Draft, the Jersey boy made less than the cast of MTV’s Jersey Shore in 2012.
4. Andrew Luck, QB, Indianapolis Colts
2012 salary: $390,000
The heir to the Peyton Manning throne in Indy, Luck is making rookie minimum. But thanks to his $14.52 million signing bonus, Luck counts $4.015 million against the cap this year after factoring in his base salary and $3.63 million prorated signing bonus. The No. 1 overall pick has a 6–3 record over his first nine games and the Colts are jockeying for Wild Card position in the AFC Playoffs. Meanwhile, Manning is cashing an $18 million check in 2012 to kick-start his five-year, $96 million behemoth contract with the Denver Broncos.
5. Robert Griffin III, QB, Washington Redskins
2012 salary: $390,000
Clearly, RG3 is not hurting financially, with adidas and Subway spokesman money rolling in. And even his base salary for 2012 is misleading, considering the $13.8 million signing bonus for the No. 2 overall pick. All told, Griffin is a $3.84 million cap hit for the Redskins this season — a bargain for an electrifying face of the franchise who has posted 2,522 total yards, 14 total TDs and five turnovers over the first nine games of his career.
6. David Price, LHP, Tampa Bay Rays
2012 salary: $4.35 million
Phillies lefty Cole Hamels just signed a six-year, $144 million contract extension that will pay him $19.5 million in 2013 and $22.5 million in each of the following five seasons. Yankees lefty CC Sabathia made $23 million in 2012 and will do every season until 2016, when the number jumps to $25 million. That’s the going rate for ace-caliber lefties, especially one with Price’s stats — at 27-year-old, 6’6”, 220-pounder coming off a year in which he had a 20–5 record, 2.56 ERA, 1.10 WHIP and 205 strikeouts in 211 innings.
7. Ryan Braun, OF, Milwaukee Brewers
2012 salary: $7 million
The Brew Crew wisely locked up Braun before he was arbitration eligible, a move that was mutually beneficial. Braun got more money up front than Milwaukee had to pay, while the Brewers made the correct long-term gamble that their 2007 Rookie of the Year had MVP potential — which was realized in 2011. This past season was nearly as good, as Braun hit .319 with a career-high 41 HRs and 112 RBIs, with 30 stolen bases and 108 runs scored, all at a discounted rate.
8. J.J. Watt, DE, Houston Texans
2012 salary: $885,795
The leading candidate for Defensive Player of the Year counts $2.55 million against the cap for the Texans, with his base salary and $1.67 million prorated signing bonus. But that’s chump change compared to the type of money lesser players are getting on the open market. This past offseason, Mario Williams inked a six-year, $96 million contract with $50 million guaranteed from the Buffalo Bills. As the No. 11 overall pick in 2011, Watt has clearly outplayed his draft status — with 10.5 sacks, 10 pass deflections and countless disrupted plays in his second season.
9. Ray Allen, SG, Miami Heat
2012 salary: $3.09 million
The silky-smooth-shooting Jesus Shuttlesworth pulled a Judas by turning down a contract with the Boston Celtics that was reportedly worth twice as much annually as the one he signed with the rival Heat. Kevin Garnett won’t shake his hand or look him in the eye, but Miami loves looking at the bottom line for sweet Ray. It’s early, but Allen is sharpshooting to the tune of 56.7 percent from 3-point land and 87.5 percent from the free throw line.
10. Tiger Woods, Golfer
2012 salary: $6.13 million
Granted, Tiger’s earnings are based on his performance on the course. In 2012, Eldrick won three PGA Tour events, had nine top-10 finishes and made the cut in 17-of-19 events played. But consider the ripple effect Tiger has on the game of golf, including tournament attendance, television ratings and sponsorship dollars. Tiger is a one-man brand who largely carries the PGA Tour on his back. He represents more than just “another player.” Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant ($27.85 million) and New York Yankees captain Derek Jeter ($16 million) are both representative of a role bigger than just one spot on a roster — and are paid accordingly. Tiger, however, is not.
RELATED: 10 Most Overpaid Athletes in 2012
It is never too early to begin looking ahead to next year's NFL Draft. Each year a unique set of prospects enters the professional ranks with a chance to make an immediate impact on the country's most powerful sport. The 2013 NFL Draft won’t be any different.
Today, we rank college football's best outside linebacker prospects:
1. Jarvis Jones, Georgia (6-2, 240, Jr.)
The star Bulldog defender isn't a true outside linebacker in the 4-3 sense, but he is undoubtedly one of the most talented pass rushers in the nation. He is a perfect fit in the 3-4 as a hybrid James Harrison-type of player. He is a tenacious (just pop in the tape of the Missouri or Florida games from 2012) blitz backer who can play in space if need be. He isn't as big as some other hybrids of recent memory, but he makes up for it with elite level quickness and explosion. He can't really "grow" into a 4-3 defensive end and his strengths aren't suited for the traditional 4-3 OLB either, but his skill set is perfect for the outside 3-4 backer that is used off of the edge to make plays. If he can prove the health issues aren't reoccurring, he is a surefire starter in year one at the professional level. He posted back-to-back double-digit sack totals and led the nation in QB takedowns as only a sophomore.
2. CJ Mosley, Alabama (6-2, 230, Jr.)
Mosley is a traditional 4-3 outside backer who could really play anywhere in the linebacking corps — and in any system. Bama runs a 3-4 but is lined-up in a traditional 4-3 more than usual, so Mosley has experience in any scheme. He is quick, powerful, extremely well coached and has competed at the highest level, winning a national championship as a junior. Athlon Sports rated him as the No. 5 inside linebacker, so the movement on his stock should be intriguing as scouts decide where they like him best. Simply put, he makes plays. Constantly.
3. Arthur Brown, Kansas State (6-1, 228, Sr.)
Some have Brown listed inside at middle linebacker, but he may not have the size to stick at the position. He does, however, have the instincts and pedigree to be successful at the next level. It took him a while to get started after transferring from Miami (Fla.) back home to Kansas State, where he has developed into a star on a team that has competed for league championships the two seasons Brown has started. He is a tremendous all-around athlete and competitor who, with a few extra pounds of strength, should be a lights-out defender on the next level. He could have entered the draft last year, but as KSU keeps winning, his stock continues to improve.
4. Chase Thomas, Stanford (6-4, 250, Sr.)
When star middle linebacker Shayne Skov was lost for the season in 2011, it was Thomas who stepped in and became the centerpiece of the Cardinal defense. He constantly plays behind the line of scrimmage and has a huge, powerful frame. He has excelled in the traditional 4-3 outside position in college, but his size and instincts give him Clay Matthews-type of skills. He is a fundamentally sound athlete who rarely is out of position and has little downside after roughly 50 tackles for loss and over 23 sacks in his college career. All of that on the most physical, stingiest defensive front West of the Mississippi — one that has won a ton of games.
5. Khaseem Greene, Rutgers (6-1, 230, Sr.)
Stable. Athletic. Fast. Dependable. And in the modern NFL world of speed and passing attacks, Greene's speed and athleticism make him an intriguing upside prospect. He played safety in his first two seasons and, after some added bulk, he shifted closer to the line of scrimmage to get his play-making talents around the football. He played on the league's top defense and if Greg Schiano wasn't already loaded with young linebackers, he wouldn't pass on the tackler he recruited and coached at Rutgers.
6. Anthony Barr, UCLA (6-4, 235, Jr.)
This is a talented upside prospect whose stock is going skyrocket during the offseason and in combine workouts. He is a freakish size and speed combination who could have been used at half a dozen positions at UCLA. He settled in as one of the Pac-12 most explosive pass rushers. He is more of a project and will likely need to develop, but his raw athletic ability is obvious. He is currently a hybrid 3-4 outside backer but Barr has the frame to potentially grow into a more traditional 4-3 end should the need arise.
7. Sean Porter, Texas A&M (6-2, 230, Sr.)
Von Miller Porter is not. But he did have an excellent junior season filling the pass-rushing void left by Miller's departure. However, the Aggies shifted to a 4-3 under a new coaching staff and Porter was shifted into a more traditional 4-3 outside role. He simply isn't asked to rush the passer at all. Scouts will have to decide if his position experience is a good thing (meaning versatility) or a bad thing (limited to one thing). He has plenty of talent, but only time will tell how his position shift impacted his draft stock.
8. Trent Murphy, Stanford (6-6, 246, Jr.)
The first thing scouts will notice about Murphy is his raw size. He easily could develop into a defensive end should he exhibit the sturdiness needed to play against the run at the NFL level. His size allows him to project to multiple positions in multiple fronts and, should he test well at the combine, his stock could see significant growth. His defenses have been incredible at Stanford and his teams simply win. That said, he has been just a part of a loaded Stanford front that could feature at least two other NFL picks in the front seven.
9. Gerald Hodges, Penn State (6-2, 240, Sr.)
The Penn State tackler might be the last elite outside linebacker prospect. Hodges has defined the traditional outside linebacker position on a traditional 4-3 defense. He has excellent athletic ability and has been successful in all phases of the game — blitzing the passer, playing physical and disciplined against the run, and fluid and quick in space. Some added bulk and strength would push him up draft boards fairly quickly.
10. Jamie Collins, Southern Miss (6-3, 240, Sr.)
The undersized defensive end has been stellar in his time at Southern Miss to the point of being unblockable as a senior this fall. He is incredibly disruptive and constantly is playing behind enemy lines in the backfield, including on special teams. He likely won't be thought of as a true defensive end and instead could be destined for the hybrid role on the outside of a 3-4 scheme. He will have to overcome the level of competition criticism as Conference USA offensive tackles aren't exactly a proving ground of NFL talent. Does he have the athleticism to make the speed and position transition at the next level?
11. Travis Long, Washington State (6-4, 245, Sr.)
Hybrid rush end has been productive in the face of major locker room issues.
12. Jelani Jenkins, Florida (6-0, 238, Jr.)
Must display tremendous heart, toughness and physicality to play at his size. Tremendous athlete though.
13. Kyle Van Noy, BYU (6-3, 235, Jr.)
Dependable, physical, well-coached player who has little downside.
14. Jonathan Brown, Illinois (6-1, 235, Jr.)
Rated as the No. 11 inside linebacker, as he has seen his stock slip on a bad team.
15. Zavier Gooden, Missouri (6-2, 230, Sr.)
Freaky athlete who is extremely developed physically. Will be watched closely.
16. Travardo Williams, UConn (6-1, 235, Sr.)
17. Khalil Mack, Buffalo (6-3, 345, Jr.)
18. Jeremiah Attaochu, Georgia Tech (6-2, 240, Jr.)
19. Mike Taylor, Wisconsin (6-2, 225, Sr.)
20. James Morris, Iowa (6-2, 230, Sr.)
21. Cameron Lawrence, Mississippi State (6-2, 230, Sr.)
22. Jake Knott, Iowa State (6-2, 240, Sr.)
23. Alonzo Highsmith, Arkansas (6-0, 235, Sr.)
24. Cornelius Washington, Georgia (6-4, 265, Sr.)
25. DeVonte Holloman, South Carolina (6-2, 240, Sr.)
- by Braden Gall
Related NFL Draft Rankings By Position:
2013 NFL Draft: Running Backs
2013 NFL Draft: Tight Ends
2013 NFL Draft: Safeties
2013 NFL Draft: Defensive Tackles
2013 NFL Draft: Wide Receivers
2013 NFL Draft: Offensive Tackles
2013 NFL Draft: Inside Linebackers
2013 NFL Draft: Cornerbacks
2013 NFL Draft: Guards and Centers
2013 NFL Draft: Outside Linebackers
It’s Week 11 of the NFL season, which marks the end of the bye weeks. This is the last week that a fantasy owner has to worry about something other than an injury or possible benching impacting their roster. With no Giants, Seahawks, Titans or Vikings available this week, here are some possible waiver wire options worth considering as you prepare your team for Week 11.
Bye week teams: Minnesota, New York Giants, Seattle, Tennessee
Week 10 Recap: Ryan Fitzpatrick and Russell Wilson both had solid games as Fitzpatrick threw for 337 yards and two touchdowns (along with two turnovers) in the Bills’ loss to the Patriots, while Wilson posted his third straight game with at least two touchdown passes (along with 222 yards of offense) in the win against the Jets.
Sam Bradford, St. Louis Rams
Bradford’s numbers (2,072-10-7) are far from spectacular, but he has a couple of things going for him. One, he’s had 250 or more passing yards in three of his last four games, including Sunday’s 275-yard, two touchdown effort in the tie against San Francisco. Bradford also welcomed back top target Danny Amendola from injury, and he proceeded to hook up with him 11 times for 102 yards. This Sunday’s match up against the Jets isn’t the most appealing, but it does come at home where Bradford has a 7:5 touchdown-to-interception ratio in four games.
Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers
Three different starting quarterbacks left their games on Sunday with a concussion and didn’t return. Though it’s too early to tell, there could be three backup quarterbacks getting the call this week. In fact, the Monday night game in San Francisco could feature a battle of the backups as Kaepernick may get the start in place of Alex Smith and Jason Campbell could be under center for Chicago instead of Jay Cutler. There’s also Nick Foles, who could get his first career start for Philadelphia on the road against Washington. Even with the prospect of having to face the Bears’ defense, I like Kaepernick of the three backup options because of his versatility and the fact he’s seen more playing time than either Campbell or certainly Foles. Given the situations, any of the three should only be considered in the deepest of leagues or those that start more than one quarterback in their lineup.
Week 10 Recap: Mike Goodson didn’t even play on Sunday as the high ankle sprain he suffered last week kept him sidelined, opening the door for Marcel Reece (see below). Isaac Redman got the start, but Jonathan Dwyer finished with more carries (19 to 8) and rushing yards (56 to 21). Lance Dunbar gained 20 yards on six carries, as Felix Jones carried the load (16 att., 71 yds., 3 rec., 22 yds, TD) for the Cowboys.
Kendall Hunter, San Francisco 49ers
Frank Gore rushed for 97 yards and a touchdown in the tie against St. Louis, but he also took another shot to his still-tender ribs. Should Gore miss any time, Hunter is presumably the next in line. Hunter has seen a fair amount of action this season, averaging seven carries per game and five yards per carry. The only caveats as they apply to Hunter’s outlook for this week are that there’s a chance that Colin Kaepernick (see above) will be the 49ers’ starting quarterback instead of Alex Smith and the match up with the Chicago Bears’ defense. Kaepernick is more of a threat to run the ball, as evidenced by his eight carries for 66 yards on Sunday against the Rams (Hunter had three attempts), while the Bears are fourth in the league in rushing defense. Still, if anything Hunter is a must-have handcuff for Gore owners and someone worth keeping an eye on once the fantasy playoffs begin, especially if the 49ers clinch a playoff spot early.
Marcel Reece, Oakland Raiders
Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson both missed Sunday’s game in Baltimore with high ankle sprains. This opened the door for Reece, who has already proven his worth as a receiver, to do most of the heavy lifting. Reece, a fullback by trade, led the Raiders in both carries (13) and receptions (7) in the 55-20 loss to the Ravens. Reece finished with 104 total yards and even if McFadden or Goodson return this week against New Orleans, he would be worth consideration as a flex option at the very least because of his role in the Raiders’ passing game.
James Starks, Green Bay Packers
Injuries kept Starks off of the field until Week 6, but after rushing for a team-high 61 yards on 17 carries in Week 9 against Arizona, he looks ready to handle more of the load for Green Bay. The Packers have struggled to find consistency with their rushing attack, even before Cedric Benson went down with a foot injury. This includes Alex Green, who got the chance to show what he could do following Benson’s injury, but reports are that Starks will get his shot as the Packers come off of their bye week. Green Bay plays in Detroit on Sunday and if Starks is given the starting job, he may be worth taking a flyer on, especially if you are without the services of Adrian Peterson, Marshawn Lynch, Chris Johnson or Ahmad Bradshaw this week.
Week 10 Recap: Danario Alexander caught five passes for 134 yards, including an 80-yard touchdown, while Danny Amendola returned from injury to lead the Rams with 11 receptions for 102 yards. Davone Bess hauled in four passes for 53 yards and Justin Blackmon managed just three receptions for 25 yards, both in losing efforts. On the other hand, Emmanuel Sanders had just two receptions for 30 yards, but most importantly, his Steelers got a hard-fought 16-13 overtime win over the Chiefs.
Harry Douglas, Atlanta Falcons
Julio Jones left Sunday’s game in New Orleans with a shin injury. He returned after missing a quarter, but his health is something worth watching this week. If Jones were to miss a game or even if he’s somewhat limited while on the field, Douglas would be next man up. Douglas was third on the team with seven targets against the Saints and finished with four receptions for 49 yards. With as much success as the Falcons have had throwing the ball, Douglas’ value would instantly increase should he slide into the starting wide receiver spot alongside Roddy White.
Darrius Heyward-Bey, Oakland Raiders
Heyward-Bey has 74 or more receiving yards in the four games since his return from a concussion and he has caught a touchdown in two of his past three outings. While Denarius Moore may be Oakland’s primary target, Heyward-Bey is more of the vertical threat and there’s no disputing how much the Raiders have thrown the ball. Carson Palmer is averaging better than 25 completions and nearly 42 attempts per game and has thrown for 782 yards and six touchdowns in the last two games alone. With running back Darren McFadden dealing with a high ankle sprain and his return unknown, there’s really no reason why Heyward-Bey is owned in a little more than half of Yahoo! leagues.
Laurent Robinson, Jacksonville Jaguars
Cecil Shorts has emerged as the Jaguar receiver to own and one of the league’s most dangerous deep threats, but don’t overlook the return of Robinson. One of the Jags’ big free-agent acquisitions in the offseason, Robinson was sidelined for several weeks after sustaining a concussion. He made his long-awaited return in Week 9 and has 15 catches on 24 targets for 118 yards in his past two games. Even with Shorts making the big plays, there should be plenty of chances for Robinson to produce, especially if he’s able to find the end zone every now and then.
Brandon Stokley, Denver Broncos
Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker get more looks, but the veteran Stokley has made his own mark in the Broncos’ passing attack this season. Capitalizing on his familiarity with Peyton Manning, as the two were teammates with the Colts from 2003-06, Stokley has multiple receptions in every game and has scored four touchdowns on the season. Three of those touchdowns have come in the last five games, including one against San Diego, this week’s opponent, in Week 6. With Percy Harvin, Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks and other receivers sidelined this week because of the bye, Stokley could be worth a flyer if you are looking for a WR3 or Flex, especially considering Manning put up 309 yards and three touchdowns against the Chargers in Week 6.
Week 10 Recap: Dwayne Allen and Joel Dreessen posted identical, disappointing stat lines this week – 2 receptions, 31 yards.
Dustin Keller, New York Jets
A Week 1 hamstring injury kept Keller out of action until Week 6, but it finally looks like he’s rounding into form. Keller has 17 catches over his past three games and as long as Mark Sanchez remains under center, he should put up decent numbers, especially if he can get into the end zone.
Lance Kendricks, St. Louis Rams
Kendricks has just one touchdown reception, but he’s been a little more involved in the Rams’ passing game recently. He’s seen four or more targets in four straight games and has three performances of 32 or more receiving yards during this span. The return of wide receiver Danny Amendola may help open up the middle and present Kendricks with more opportunities to make plays down the field.
Week 10 Recap: Denver harassed Cam Netwon all Sunday afternoon, sacking the Panthers’ quarterback seven times and picking him off twice, returning one of them for a touchdown. The Broncos scored a safety and also got a 76-yard punt return for a score from Trindon Holliday in the dominating performance that netted 31 fantasy points.
The Bengals sacked Eli Manning twice and picked him off twice in a surprisingly easy win over the defending Super Bowl champs on Sunday. They have done a good job of pressuring the quarterback (27 sacks) and generating turnovers (7 INTs, 8 fumbles) and get to face a Kansas City team on Sunday that has turned the ball over a league-worst 30 times. No Giants, Seahawks or Vikings D this week? You may want to consider giving these cats a try.
The Redskins’ DST has produced nearly as many fantasy points as the Bengals’, but by different means. Washington has not generated many sacks (14), but has more takeaways (16 total) than the Bengals and has scored four defensive touchdowns. The main reason, however, the Redskins are listed here is because of the prospect that they may be facing rookie Nick Foles, and not Michael Vick, this coming Sunday. Foles may be making his first career NFL start, on the road no less, if Vick is not medically cleared after sustaining a concussion against the Eagles, and that development would instantly make the ‘Skins’ DST, if nothing else, an intriguing starting option for this week.
Scoring is based on Athlon Sports default scoring which is 6 points for all TDs, .5 points per reception and 1 point per 25 yards passing, 10 yards rushing/receiving and 40 return yards.
Week 11 of the 2012 college football season is in the books and plenty of coaches saw the temperature on their seat increase by a few degrees. Boston College's Frank Spaziani remains the top spot in the hot seat watch, followed closely by Auburn's Gene Chizik, Tennessee's Derek Dooley and California's Jeff Tedford in the top five.
College Football's Top 20 Coaches on the Hot Seat: Post-Week 11 Rankings
1. Frank Spaziani, Boston College
Last Week’s Rank: 1
Record at Boston College: 22-27 (4th season)
2012 Record: 2-8
The Eagles closed out the non-conference portion of their 2012 schedule with a 21-6 loss to Notre Dame. Despite the 15-point defeat, Boston College never really threatened in this game and the Fighting Irish were in complete control from the opening kick. Spaziani has a handful of young players contributing in key roles, but it’s hard to find any progress from this team in 2012. The Eagles have watched their win total decline in each of the last four years and are headed for a 2-10 finish.
2. Gene Chizik, Auburn
Last Week’s Rank: 2
Record at Auburn: 32-18 (4th season)
2012 Record: 2-8
Barring an upset win over Alabama, Auburn will finish SEC play winless for the first time since 1980. The Tigers dropped to 0-7 within the conference on Saturday, losing 38-0 to Georgia. Auburn’s only wins have come against New Mexico State and Louisiana-Monroe this season and should easily defeat Alabama A&M this Saturday. Although Chizik insists he has a plan to turn around Auburn next year, the rumor mill around the program seems to suggest he won’t get the to chance to do so in 2013.
3. Derek Dooley, Tennessee
Last Week’s Rank: 3
Record at Tennessee: 15-20 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 4-6
If there was any doubt Dooley would be fired at the end of the season, the overtime loss to Missouri sealed any shot he had of returning to Knoxville for 2013. The defeat dropped Tennessee to 4-6 and in danger of missing out on a bowl game for the second consecutive season. The Volunteers need to win at Vanderbilt and against Kentucky to get bowl eligible. Since taking over in Knoxville, Dooley is just 4-18 in SEC play and a disappointing 15-20 overall. There’s no doubt Dooley is done, it’s just a matter of when the school decides to make the announcement.
4. Jeff Tedford, California
Last Week’s Rank: 4
Record at California: 82-56 (11th season)
2012 Record: 3-8
As expected, the Golden Bears were pounded by Oregon on Saturday. California hung around in the first half, but the Ducks simply had too much firepower on offense and won 59-17. The loss to Oregon closed out the home slate for California this year, as the team finishes its 2012 season at Oregon State on Saturday. With a loss to the Beavers, the Golden Bears would finish 3-9, which would be their worst record since going 1-10 in 2001. Tedford has done a lot of good things at California, but it’s clear the program has gotten stale under his watch the last few seasons.
5. Ellis Johnson, Southern Miss
Last Week’s Rank: 5
Record at Southern Miss: 0-10
2012 Record: 0-10
The miserable first season under Ellis Johnson continued in Week 10, as Southern Miss was pounded 34-6 by SMU. The Golden Eagles are headed to their worst season in school history and even though Johnson is just in his first year, it’s clear the program is headed in the wrong direction. The loss to the Mustangs also clinched the first season of double-digit losses in Southern Miss history. Even though the Golden Eagles lost a handful of key players from last year’s team, going from Conference USA champions to possibly 0-12 is enough to make a coaching change.
6. DeWayne Walker, New Mexico State
Last Week’s Rank: 6
Record at New Mexico State: 10-38 (4th season)
2012 Record: 1-9
The Aggies remained winless in WAC play, dropping a 47-7 game against San Jose State on Saturday. Although New Mexico State showed some promise with a 4-9 mark last year, the program seems to be trending in the wrong direction. And the schedule won’t get any easier next year, as the Aggies will compete as a FBS Independent. Walker inherited a difficult situation, and New Mexico State is not an easy place to develop a winning program. However, the program may want to get a fresh start after this season, especially if the Aggies finish 1-11.
7. Mike Price, UTEP
Last Week’s Rank: 9
Record at UTEP: 47-60 (8 years)
2012 Record: 2-8
The Miners hung tough against UCF, but it wasn’t enough to earn the victory. Looking for a spark on offense, Price inserted redshirt freshman quarterback Blaire Sullivan into the lineup. He threw for only 79 yards but added 74 yards and one touchdown on the ground, which gave UTEP a shot to beat the Knights in the fourth quarter. The Miners finish the season with winnable games against Southern Miss and Rice, but even with two more victories, it’s hard to imagine Price returning to El Paso in 2013.
8. Bobby Hauck, UNLV
Last Week’s Rank: 12
Record at UNLV: 6-30 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 2-9
Inconsistency has plagued UNLV in 2012. The Rebels knocked off New Mexico 35-7 in Week 10, yet were dominated in a 33-11 loss against Colorado State last Saturday. The Rebels are getting better under Hauck but it’s hard for the program to make any long-term progress with losses like the one it had on Saturday. UNLV closes out its 2012 season with winnable matchups against Wyoming and Hawaii, as it looks to record more than two victories in a season for the first time under Hauck.
9. Danny Hope, Purdue
Last Week’s Rank: 8
Record at Purdue: 20-27 (4th season)
2012 Record: 4-6
Saturday’s 27-24 win over Iowa should ease some of the pressure on Hope. The victory keeps Purdue’s slim bowl hopes alive, as it needs to beat Illinois and Indiana in its final two games to get to six victories. Hope is still under plenty of pressure over the next two weeks, especially since the program has yet to show any real progress under his watch. While making back-to-back bowl games would be a good sign, Purdue’s overall record is just 20-27 in his tenure.
10. Jon Embree, Colorado
Last Week’s Rank: 14
Record at Colorado: 4-19 (2nd season)
2012 Record: 1-9
Despite the disastrous 2012 season, all signs point to Embree getting another year in Boulder. Whether or not he deserves another season is debatable, especially when you consider the Buffaloes haven’t shown much progress over the last two years. Colorado does have a lot of young players on the depth chart and lost receiver Paul Richardson to a torn ACL in the offseason. However, both sides of the ball rank among the worst in college football, and the team has gotten very little production from its quarterbacks. Embree will likely return for 2013 but expect a staff shakeup at the end of 2012.
11. Jeff Quinn, Buffalo
Last Week’s Rank: 10
Record at Buffalo: 8-26 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 3-7
With back-to-back victories over Miami (Ohio) and Western Michigan, Buffalo has its first two-game winning streak since 2009. Although the Bulls have seven losses, they lost to Connecticut, Ohio and Toledo by less than seven points and lost by only 13 to Pittsburgh. With a matchup against UMass this Saturday, Buffalo should have a good shot at getting to four wins, which would be Quinn’s best season. Although the Bulls haven’t gotten back to a bowl game under his watch, the program has had only three seasons of five or more wins since 1997.
12. David Bailiff, Rice
Last Week’s Rank: 11
Record at Rice: 27-44 (6th season)
2012 Record: 4-6
The Owls had a bye week on Saturday and return to action this weekend for a home date against SMU. With Rice at 4-6 and SMU at 5-5, this matchup is a crucial one for bowl eligibility. The Owls close the year with a road trip at UTEP, so a win over the Mustangs isn’t an automatic path to a bowl game. Bailiff has recorded at least four victories in each of his last three seasons, so getting to 5-7 or 6-6 would be a step in the right direction. Unless Rice loses its last two games, Bailiff may have done enough to save his job for 2013.
13. Dan Enos, Central Michigan
Last Week’s Rank: 7
Record at Central Michigan: 10-24 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 4-6
Thanks to wins in two out of his last three games, Enos has dropped outside of the top 10 in the hot seat watch. Saturday’s victory over Eastern Michigan pushed the Chippewas’ record to 4-6, which is the best win total in Enos’ three seasons in Mount Pleasant. The third-year coach could strengthen his case to return for 2013 in the final two games, as Central Michigan hosts Miami (Ohio) and plays at UMass. Considering some conferences are going to have trouble filling out their allotment for bowl games, the Chippewas could sneak into the postseason at 6-6.
14. Kirk Ferentz, Iowa
Last Week’s Rank: 20
Record at Iowa: 100-73 (14th season)
2012 Record: 4-6
Barring upset wins over Nebraska and Michigan, Iowa will miss out on a postseason game for the first time since 2007. The Hawkeyes lost 27-24 against Purdue on Saturday, which dropped their Big Ten record to 2-4 overall this year. Ferentz has a huge contract, so he’s really not in any danger of getting fired. However, there’s plenty of unrest among the fan base, especially since the win total has declined every year sine 2009. If the Hawkeyes finish 4-8, it would be the worst mark under Ferentz since going 3-9 in 2000.
15. Skip Holtz, South Florida
Last Week’s Rank: 15
Record at South Florida: 16-18 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 3-6
The Bulls had a bye in Week 11 and return to action against in-state big brother Miami (Fla.) this Saturday. South Florida still has slim bowl hopes but needs to win the final three games to get to 6-6. A bigger question for Holtz this week is the quarterback position, especially with starter B.J. Daniels out for the rest of the year with a leg injury. After going 8-5 in 2010, South Florida is just 8-13 since. Although Holtz will probably get another year, he needs to have good showings against Miami, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh to build some confidence about this team going into 2013.
16. Bill Cubit, Western Michigan
Last Week’s Rank: 17
Record at Western Michigan: 51-46 (8th season)
2012 Record: 4-7
The Broncos got a little spark on Saturday, as quarterback Alex Carder returned to the lineup after missing six games with a hand injury. However, Carder’s return wasn't enough to secure win, as Western Michigan fell 29-24 at Buffalo. The loss dropped the Broncos out of the mix for a bowl and to 51-46 overall under Cubit’s watch. Western Michigan finishes its 2012 season with a matchup against in-state rival Eastern Michigan.
17. Tim Beckman, Illinois
Last Week’s Rank: Not ranked
Record at Illinois: 2-8 (1st season)
2012 Record: 2-8
Beckman’s first season in Champaign hasn’t been as disastrous as Ellis Johnson’s first year at Southern Miss, but he isn’t too far behind. The Fighting Illini are 2-8 overall, with the only victories coming against Western Michigan and Charleston Southern. Illinois has been handled in Big Ten play, losing every game by 14 points or more. The fan base is already growing restless about Beckman and there’s no guaranteed win remaining with Purdue and Northwestern on tap. Expect significant staff changes at the end of the 2012 season.
18. Ron English, Eastern Michigan
Last Week’s Rank: Not ranked
Record at Eastern Michigan: 9-37 (4th season)
2012 Record: 1-9
Considering how difficult it is to win at Eastern Michigan, it’s tough to evaluate English for having a 9-37 overall record in four seasons. However, take out the 6-6 mark in 2011 and the Eagles are just 3-31 under his watch. Eastern Michigan has been competitive in losses against Toledo and Michigan State, but lost to FCS opponent Illinois State. With matchups against Western Michigan and Northern Illinois to close out 2012, a 1-11 record appears very likely for English this season.
19. Paul Pasqualoni, Connecticut
Last Week’s Rank: 13
Record at Connecticut: 9-13 (2nd season)
2012 Record: 4-6
The Huskies scored a much-needed victory with a 24-17 win over Pittsburgh on Friday night. The victory over the Panthers was Connecticut’s first in Big East play this season and will help this team build some momentum for the final two games of the year against Louisville and Cincinnati. Pasqualoni isn’t in any real danger of losing his job this year, but the former Syracuse coach could be the near the top of this list at the beginning of 2013.
20. June Jones, SMU
Last Week’s Rank: 19
Record at SMU: 29-33 (5th season)
2012 Record: 5-5
SMU moved one step closer to bowl eligibility with a 34-6 victory over Southern Miss on Saturday night. The Mustangs need to beat Rice or Tulsa in the final two weeks to make their fourth consecutive bowl trip. Although Jones has elevated SMU, the program has yet to take off as most expected. The Mustangs are set to enter the Big East next year and can’t afford to fall far behind. Considering Jones wanted to leave for Arizona State at the end of 2011, both parties might be better off with a mutual separation.
by Steven Lassan
Related College Football Content
Post-Week 11 ACC Power Rankings
Post-Week 11 Big East Power Rankings
Post-Week 11 Big 12 Power Rankings
Post-Week 11 Big Ten Power Rankings
Post-Week 11 Pac-12 Power Rankings
Post-Week 11 SEC Power Rankings
College Football Post-Week 11 Bowl Projections
New York, NY (Sports Network) - There was never a doubt who was going to win the AL Rookie of the Year award.
Now Mike Trout has his sights set on a much larger prize.
The Los Angeles Angels' center fielder Trout and Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper were named the Jackie Robinson Award winners as the top rookies in the American and National League, respectively, as voted on by members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.
The 21-year-old Trout became the 18th unanimous rookie of the year victor -- eighth in the AL.
And he may not be done taking home trophies.
Trout, along with triple crown winner and Detroit Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera, New York Yankees' Robinson Cano and Texas' Adrian Beltre and Josh Hamilton, is among the nominees for the AL MVP voting.
If Trout wins the MVP, he'd join Fred Lynn (1975) and Ichiro Suzuki (2001) as the only two MLB players to win both the MVP and Rookie of the Year honors in the same season.
Trout, the first Angel to win rookie of the year since Tim Salmon in 1993, is the only player in major league history to hit at least .320 with 30 home runs and 45 stolen bases in a single season.
In all, Trout batted .326 with a .399 on-base percentage, 30 home runs, 129 runs and 49 stolen bases.
He led all rookies in nearly every offensive category and was named the AL Rookie of the Month in May, June, July and August, becoming the first player to claim the award in four consecutive months.
It was also no coincidence that the Angels' ascension up the standings coincided with Trout's recall from Triple-A Salt Lake on April 28.
A pair of foreign-born stars, Cuban and Oakland Athletics outfielder Yoenis Cespedes and Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish of the Texas Rangers were the other two nominees for the award.
Harper narrowly edged Arizona Diamondbacks left-handed pitcher Wade Miley for the NL honor. Harper earned 112 points, compared to Miley's 105. Cincinnati Reds third baseman Todd Frazier had 45 points.
Harper, one of the more hyped players in recent memory, burst on to the scene as a 19-year-old in late April.
The first overall pick of the 2010 MLB Draft ended the year hitting .270 with 22 home runs, 59 RBIs and 98 runs scored. He also stole 18 bases and played all three outfield positions. He showed terrific range and tallied eight outfield assists.
In the world of fantasy football, some team owners are relentless in their search for information that will give them a competitive edge over their competition. Others just simply rely on projections from so-called experts, who try to convince everyone they have devised a computer program that accurately projects player stats by using a scientific formula so complicated that it makes the Drake equation seem elementary. Eventually, those computer-driven computations prove no more accurate than an old-fashioned gut feeling. However, in a quest to find a formula for fantasy success, one should just ask the question, “What are the odds?”
Quite simply, Vegas odds could give you all of the necessary insight to make smart roster decisions on a week-to-week basis. In this weekly article, theCFFsite considers the point spreads and totals(over/under) in order to give our readers a unique perspective into some of the week’s most interesting fantasy matchups.
Best Fantasy Matchups(Games with the most fantasy potential)
Kansas St at Baylor
Line: Kansas St -11.5(O/U-74)
Projected score based on point spread: Kansas St 43-32
Baylor (QB-Nick Florence, WR-Terrance Williams)
Kansas St (QB-Collin Klein, RB-John Hubert)
Baylor (RB-Lache Seastrunk, WRs-Tevin Reese, Lanear Sampson)
Kansas St (WR-Chris Harper, K-Anthony Cantele)
theCFFsite projects: Kansas St 40-28
Oklahoma at West Virginia
Line: Oklahoma -10.5(O/U-73)
Projected score based on point spread: Oklahoma 42-31
Oklahoma (QB-Landry Jones, RB-Damien Williams, WR-Kenny Stills)
West Virginia (QB-Geno Smith, WRs-Tavon Austin, Stedman Bailey)
Oklahoma (RBs-Brennan Clay, WR-Justin Brown)
West Virginia (RB-Andrew Buie)
theCFFsite projects: West Virginia 42-38
Houston at Marshall
Line: Marshall -3.5(O/U-76)
Projected score based on point spread: Marshall 40-37
Marshall (QB-Rakeem Cato, WRs-Tommy Shuler, Antavious Wilson)
Houston (QB-David Piland, RB-Charles Sims-inj)
Marshall (WR-Aaron Dobson, TE-Gator Hoskins)
Houston (RB-Kenneth Farrow, WRs-Deontay Greenberry, Daniel Spencer)
theCFFsite projects: Marshall 38-30
Texas Tech at Oklahoma St
Line: Oklahoma St -10.5(O/U-72)
Projected score based on point spread: Oklahoma St 42-31
Texas Tech (QB-Seth Doege, WRs-Eric Ward, Darrin Moore)
Oklahoma St (RB-Joseph Randle, WRs-Charlie Moore, Josh Stewart, K-Quinn Sharp)
Texas Tech (RB-Kenny Williams, K-Ryan Bustin)
Oklahoma St (QB-Clint Chelf, TE-Blake Jackson)
theCFFsite projects: Oklahoma St 37-28
One-Sided Matchups(Using the odds to find a dominating ‘D’)
Colorado St at Boise St
Line: Boise St -28(O/U-50)
Projected score based on point spread: Boise St 39-11
Stay away from:
Colorado St (RBs-Donnell Alexander, Chris Nwoke)
theCFFsite projects: Boise St 42-14
Wake Forest at Notre Dame
Line: Notre Dame -24(O/U-44)
Projected score based on point spread: Notre Dame 34-10
Stay away from:
Wake Forest (QB-Tanner Price, RB-Josh Harris)
theCFFsite projects: Notre Dame 24-17
Florida St at Maryland
Line: Florida St -31(O/U-45.5)
Projected score based on point spread: Florida St 38-7
Stay away from:
Maryland (Stefon Diggs)
theCFFsite projects: Florida St 37-10
Must Watch Games(The games with the biggest headlines)
Rutgers at Cincinnati
Line: Cincinnati -6.5(O/U-47)
Projected score based on point spread: Cincinnati 27-20
What’s at stake: Rutgers (8-1, 4-0) will try to stay undefeated in conference play and stay one game ahead of Louisville in the Big East, while Cincinnati (7-2, 3-1) hopes to stay in the race.
theCFFsite projects: Cincinnati 23-20
Kent St at Bowling Green
Line: Bowling Green -2.5(O/U-47)
Projected score based on point spread: Bowling Green 25-22
What’s at stake: First place in the MAC East.
theCFFsite projects: Kent St 27-21
Toledo at Northern Illinois
Line: NIU -11(O/U-63)
Projected score based on point spread: NIU 37-26
What’s at stake: First place in the MAC West.
theCFFsite projects: Northern Illinois 45-35
Utah St at Louisiana Tech
Line: Utah St -3(O/U-70.5)
Projected score based on point spread: Utah St 37-34
What’s at stake: First place in the WAC.
theCFFsite projects: Utah St 45-41
USC at UCLA
Line: USC -3.5(O/U-65)
Projected score based on point spread: USC 35-31
What’s at stake: First place in the PAC-12 South.
theCFFsite projects: USC 37-28
Stanford at Oregon
Line: Oregon – 21 (O/U-65.5)
Projected score based on point spread: Oregon 43-22
What’s at stake: First place in the PAC-12 North.
theCFFsite projects: Oregon 48-28
theCFFsite in Must Watch games:
2012 Season: Straight Up (19-14) ATS: (13-20)
2011 Season: Straight Up (40-9) ATS: (35-14)
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Once the smoke cleared, the cars (or what was left of them) were loaded and the Sunday sun set over Phoenix International Raceway, a new championship landscape had emerged in NASCAR. But tempers as hot and raw as the surrounding Sonora Desert shifted the focus of the Sprint Cup Series’ AdvoCare 500 from said title battle—and the race’s previously-MIA winner—to wrecked racecars, fist fights and talk of on-track payback.
Kevin Harvick, last seen in Victory Lane following a Cup Series event in Sept. 2011, led the final 15 laps to notch his third career Cup win in Avondale, Ariz.
However, a shakeup atop the Chase standings took center stage when Jimmie Johnson—the points leader entering the race—spent over 20 laps behind the wall after his right front tire’s bead melted, resulting in a hard hit to his No. 48 Chevy. That opened the door for Brad Keselowski to execute a 27-point swing by finishing sixth in the event while Johnson limped to a 32nd-place showing, and regain the points lead by a daunting 20 markers with one race remaining in the 2012 campaign.
But a dose of on-track retribution and off-track fisticuffs trumped even the championship fight, as Jeff Gordon wrecked Clint Bowyer with just over one lap remaining in the scheduled 312-lap event. Gordon, upset with Bowyer for contact that wounded his No. 24 moments earlier and for incidents that he deemed had “escalated over the year,” waited on the latter and hooked him into the Turn 4 wall. The crash also swept up Aric Almirola and Joey Logano and nearly involved Keselowski, who was able to scoot low to avoid the mess of tangled cars.
As Gordon exited his demolished car in the garage, Bowyer’s team rushed to the scene and engaged the No. 24 team in what resembled a Wild West bar room brawl in Tombstone.
Gordon was ushered into his hauler without contact while Bowyer emerged from his injured vehicle on pit road and sprinted into the garage where he attempted to confront Gordon but was unsuccessful.
“Clint has run into me numerous times, wrecked me,” a curt Gordon said as he exited the track. “He got into me on the back straightaway and pretty much ruined our day. I had it. That was it, and I got him back.”
Said Bowyer: “I barely touched him and then I feel him get into Turn 3 and try to turn me and he missed and then next thing I know Brett’s (Griffin, spotter) telling me on the radio that he’s waiting on me. It’s pretty embarrassing for a four-time champion and what I consider one of the best this sport’s ever seen. To act like that is just completely ridiculous.”