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Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-countdown-no-15-san-diego-state-preview
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Visit the online store for San Diego State and other editions of the 2012-13 Athlon Sports College Basketball annual.

The first practices of college basketball season begin in mid-October, and Athlon Sports 2012-13 preview annuals are starting to arrive on newsstands all over the country.

To prepare for the start of college basketball season, we will preview one team each weekday, counting down to the first official day of basketball practice on Oct. 15, or for some teams on Oct. 12.

We continue our countdown with a preview of No. 15 San Diego State.

San Diego State has arrived on the national stage and has the potential to notch its second 30-win campaign in three seasons.

The Aztecs return four starters from a 26–8 squad, including Mountain West Conference Player of the Year Jamaal Franklin. The addition of three transfers, including athletic wing Dwayne Polee II (St. John’s) and forward JJ O’Brien (Utah), and the arrival of highly regarded freshman forward Winston Shepard, have heightened expectations.

Coach Steve Fisher’s team appears to be a lock for its fourth consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance, and reaching the Sweet 16 for the second time in three years is a strong possibility. The Kawhi Leonard-led team that went 34–3 two seasons ago moved the Aztecs into the upper stratosphere of West Coast programs. Last year’s team proved that SDSU was not simply a one-hit wonder.

Winning big this season is important to the Aztecs as they move into murky waters in the future. The basketball program leaves the Mountain West after the season for the Big West, a move necessitated by the football program’s migration to the Big East. The Big West will rate as a significant drop in status for a program currently clicking on all cylinders.

FRONTCOURT
Shepard arrives as one of the top-rated recruits ever to sign with San Diego State. Ranked in the top 25 nationally by Scout and Rivals, Shepard will be given the chance to make the same type of impact Leonard did two seasons ago. There is, however, reason for concern: Shepard was arrested in late June for marijuana possession. The matter will be settled well before the season begins but certainly rates as an inauspicious start.

Polee II started 27 games as a freshman at St. John’s two years ago and transferred back to his Southern California roots due to the health of his mother. Polee’s athleticism has the Aztecs excited about mismatch opportunities when he is teamed on the floor with Franklin and Shepard.

O’Brien started 21 games for Utah as a freshman and bolsters a thin interior. Forward James Johnson will be eligible in December after transferring from Virginia. His 6-9, 238-pound frame is a welcome addition, as San Diego State lacked a presence like his last season.

Freshman forward Skylar Spencer doesn’t need to be rushed into action but can help right away, if needed, as a rebounder and shot-blocker. Freshman wing Matt Shrigley is a promising player who has the ability to develop into a double-digit scorer.

BACKCOURT
Franklin heads one of the nation’s top backcourts after being one of the country’s most improved players a season ago. The athletic 6-5 Franklin averaged 17.4 points and 7.9 rebounds as a sophomore and displayed a knack for making big shots. He occasionally makes careless mistakes, but the Aztecs don’t want to rein in his aggressiveness.

Senior Chase Tapley ranks 20th on San Diego State’s all-time scoring list with 1,079 career points and is the only player in school history to play in three consecutive NCAA Tournaments. He averaged 15.8 points last year and notched a team-best 60 steals.

Junior point guard Xavier Thames also averaged in double figures (10.1 ppg) while expertly running the offense. Thames’ assists average (4.1 apg) figures to rise with the Aztecs having improved in the frontcourt.

Senior James Rahon is a solid 3-point marksman when he is on his game. Rahon, who averaged 8.9 points, shot just 32 percent from 3-point range while hampered by a foot injury. He underwent surgery in June and hopes to regain the form that saw him make 43.4 percent of his 3-point attempts in 2010-11.

Junior guard LaBradford Franklin provides depth but was turnover-prone (47 in 398 minutes) last season.

FINAL ANALYSIS
The Aztecs open their season against Syracuse on the flight deck of the USS Midway Museum on Nov. 9 and hope to be playing a similar marquee opponent on a big-time stage deep in the NCAA Tournament.

San Diego State has all the necessary ingredients to make a lengthy postseason run. The Aztecs are Tournament tested with three straight appearances and have one of the most talented teams in program history.
Mountain West foes UNLV, New Mexico and Colorado State will ensure that the Aztecs are battle-tested during the conference slate, and the nonconference schedule includes a rare game against UCLA (in the Wooden Classic) as well as the opener vs. Syracuse.

Just reaching the NCAA Tournament is no longer good enough at San Diego State, which is a true testament to the job Fisher has done in building the program to an elite level.

@AthlonSports

Athlon College Basketball Countdown So Far:
20. Florida

19. Notre Dame

18. Memphis
17. Baylor
16 Missouri

Teaser:
<p> College Basketball Countdown: No. 15 San Diego State Preview</p>
Post date: Tuesday, September 25, 2012 - 05:22
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Fantasy, News
Path: /college-football/college-fantasy-football-post-week-4-waiver-wire-report
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Four weeks into the season, we are looking for consistency or the ability of a player to take advantage of an opportunity.  The former is the reason why Brandon Carter and Allen Robinson land on this week’s list, while Tony Gregory capitalized on his first career start in Blacksburg.

Waiver Wire: Post-Week 4 Pickups

Dominique Blackman, QB-Idaho

Blackman has attempted at least 36 passes in each of his three starts and the Vandals have two decent matchups in the next three weeks, as they host New Mexico State on October 6 and travel to Texas State October 13.

Tony Gregory, RB-Virginia Tech

Gregory could end up being a one-week wonder, but the potential to be the Hokies’ main back makes him an intriguing mid-season addition.

James Sims, RB-Kansas

We wondered how Sims would be utilized when he returned from suspension.  Rushing for 91 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries against TCU answered that question.

Adam Muema, RB-San Diego St

Muema has landed on our Emergency Starters list a couple of times and has been productive when the matchups were favorable.  After a road trip to Fresno State this week, Muema and the Aztecs return home to host Hawaii and Colorado State.

Donnell Kirkwood, RB-Minnesota

Kirkwood made our Emergency Starters list last week and after two straight games with 20-plus carries, he should add some depth to your backfield rotation.

Chris Thompson, RB-Florida St

The Seminoles have had the luxury of using many backs this season, but we found out Saturday night against Clemson that Thompson will get a heavy workload when the game is on the line.

Brandon Carter, WR-TCU

After catching five passes for 128 yards and a touchdown Saturday against Kansas, Carter may be a better fantasy option than fellow receivers Josh Boyce and Skye Dawson as the Horned Frogs head into conference play.

Brandin Cooks, WR-Oregon St

In two games, Cooks has caught 12 passes for 255 yards and two touchdowns.  He and Markus Wheaton form what may be the second-best receiving duo in the PAC-12 behind Robert Woods and Marqise Lee of USC.

Allen Robinson, WR-Penn St

Shame on us for leaving Robinson off this list the past couple of weeks, but he is the best thing the Nittany Lions have on offense and should produce in the defensively-challenged Big Ten.

 

Last Week’s Waiver Wire Suggestions

Kolton Browning, QB-UL-Monroe (272 pass yards, 2TD, 49 rush yards, TD vs Baylor—28 points)

Rakeem Cato, QB-Marshall (259 pass yards, 2TD at Rice—18 points)

Terrence Owens, QB-Toledo (290 pass yards, 3TD, rush TD vs Coastal Carolina—29 points)

Jawan Jamison, RB-Rutgers (118 rush yards, 23 receiving yards, TD at Arkansas—21 points)

Dreyon Chance, RB-Western Michigan (66 rush yards, TD vs Connecticut—12 points)

Antonio Andrews, RB-Western Kentucky (136 rush yards, 74 receiving yards, 2TD vs USM—35 points)

Jordan Hall, RB-Ohio St (105 rush yards, 21 receiving yards vs UAB—14 points)

Tevin King, RB-LA Tech (37 rush yards, 2TD at Illinois—16 points)

Andre Davis, WR-South Florida (21 receiving yards, TD at Ball St—10 points)

Devin Smith, WR-Ohio St (4 receptions for 39 yards vs UAB—7 points—16 points)

Marquelo Suel, WR-Akron (12 receptions for 92 yards at Tennessee—21 points)

Mike Evans, WR-Texas A&M (5 receptions for 41 yards vs SC St—9 points)

Chris Coyle, TE-Arizona St (5 receptions for 62 yards vs Utah—11 points)

 

by Joe DiSalvo, thecffsite.com

Follow Joe on twitter (@theCFFsite)

Email:  joe@thecffsite.com

Teaser:
<p> College Fantasy Football: Post-Week 4 Waiver Wire Report</p>
Post date: Monday, September 24, 2012 - 22:26
Path: /nascar/denny-hamlin-wins-new-hampshire
Body:

It appeared Denny Hamlin had a good idea that he would win the Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Or at least run well. Maybe.

Actually, it’s hard to know exactly what he was thinking leading up to the second race of NASCAR’s Chase for the Sprint Cup.

After dropping from a top-10 finish to 16th with an empty fuel tank the previous week at Chicagoland Speedway, Hamlin tweeted, “This is 1 week of 10. We will win next week.”

Most took it as a prediction; a called-shot of sorts. And why not? Since his Sprint Cup Series debut in 2005, Hamlin has shown a flare for NASCAR’s flat tracks, registering 10 of his 22 career wins on the minimally-banked facilities in Loudon, N.H., Martinsville, Va., Phoenix, Az. and Pocono, Penn.

At the least it was a bold statement, even from a driver touted as a title favorite . However, Hamlin clarified his social-media sentiment on Friday, when he again took to Twitter, saying, “Not really sure what all the buzz in the media is about my tweet last week. I didn’t guarantee, didn’t promise, just made a statement.”

The theme persisted in his media availability later in the day, when he stated that, “I’ve had confidence before and I said at Pocono and different race tracks (that), ‘I expect to win’ — and it’s no different. Given our history here, given how we ran the first practice and hopefully how we run tomorrow, I’ll expect to win.”

Regardless of what it was, Hamlin backed it up on Sunday. Starting 32nd due to incorrect air pressure in his tires during qualifying, the Joe Gibbs Racing driver sliced through the field after the green flag waved.

By lap 30 he had entered the top 15, and 64 laps later took the point, passing teammate Kyle Busch.

From there, the route was on, as Hamlin led 193 of the final 206 laps to earn his series-best fifth victory of the season. In the process, he vaulted to within seven points of championship leader Jimmie Johnson.

“Once we got to about lap 50 and started working our way to sixth, seventh position, I knew that we had the winning car,” Hamlin said.

To find anyone else in the field that thought different would be a tall order. Second- and third-place finishers Johnson and Jeff Gordon could only shake there heads in retrospect.

“No,” was Gordon’s definitive response when asked if anyone had anything for Hamlin’s Toyota. “I don’t think that thing bobbled all day.”

“Never slipped,” Johnson concurred.

The only reason for concern on Hamlin’s part — and hope on Johnson’s — came when NASCAR threw a yellow flag for debris with 26 laps remaining. Hamlin, who enjoyed a nearly six-second lead at the time, could only show his disgust over the team’s in-car radio.

“Really, I don’t understand why they do this,” he complained after his spotter informed him that a caution had been thrown for “phantom debris.”

Hamlin got the jump on the lap 278 restart, though, and quickly pulled away for the 2.67-second win.

“I had a little bit of hope for just, you know, a quarter of a lap there,” Johnson said of possibly wresting the lead from Hamlin on the final restart. “And then it was like, ‘Uh-oh, don’t lose second.’ And then pulled away from Jeff and got going from there.”

And with victory claimed and burnouts complete, Hamlin threw one final “called-shot” innuendo into play — furthering the “did he or didn’t he” question — striking a Babe Ruth, circa 1932, home run pose after completing victory burnouts on the frontstretch.

Message: Delivered.


by Matt Taliaferro
Follow Matt on Twitter:
@MattTaliaferro
 

Teaser:
<p> Denny Hamlin decimated the field at New Hampshire, leading 193 laps en route to the win in NASCAR's Sylvania 300.</p>
Post date: Monday, September 24, 2012 - 16:34
All taxonomy terms: Missouri Tigers, SEC, College Basketball
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-countdown-1-1-missouris-phil-pressey
Body:

Phil Pressey has heard the skeptics question his size his entire life, but finally he’s proven he can play — and excel — in big-time college basketball. There’s a reason why Missouri was so effective a year ago, and Pressey was the key.

He’s a diminutive, pass-first point guard who didn’t get the size of his father or brother, but he’s learned how to utilize his God-given abilities. Pressey is a blur who averaged 10.3 points, led the Big 12 in assists and steals, and is ready to take a new group in Columbia and keep the Tigers among the nation’s elite.

Pressey offers his views on a variety of subjects, including the new Missouri transfers, his initial thoughts on Frank Haith and the first time he dunked.

Pressey's Missouri team checked in at No. 16 in our Countdown.

What is the toughest place you have played in your career?
Kansas. Obviously, it’s sold out every single night, and the fans are diehard and would do anything for the team to win. Last year, before the jump ball, I was trying to talk to Kimmie (English) and tell him what defense we were in and he couldn’t even hear me. The game hadn’t even started yet. It was crazy. All he could see was my mouth moving.

Who is the toughest guy you’ve ever had to guard?
Tyshawn Taylor. He always had the green light to shoot, so you never know when and where he was going to shoot it from.

What college coach, besides Frank Haith, would you want to play for?
Coach K (Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski). I think it would be a lot of fun to play for him. He’s coached the best players in the world in the Olympics and in college.

Missouri is headed from the Big 12 to the SEC this season. Are you excited or disappointed?
A little of both. My family lives in Texas, so they were able to see me play in Texas about four or five times every year. But it’ll be cool to be in a new league with new teams, defenses and coaches. It’ll be fun to go to different places. I’m really looking forward to going to Kentucky, Tennessee and Florida. Everything’s new to us, but we’ll have (Auburn transfer) Earnest Ross to give us some tips since he’s been in the league.

You guys have a ton of new faces. Four transfers are eligible this year. Most of us know Alex Oriakhi, who helped lead UConn to a national title two years ago. Who are the other guys?
Jabari Brown came from Oregon, and he’s a guy who can really shoot the ball. He’s probably the best shooter on the team. Earnest Ross (Auburn) is a combo forward who is big, strong and athletic, and Keion Bell came from Pepperdine. He can score in all types of ways and is crazy athletic. And you know all about Alex.

How much credit do you get for Alex’s transfer to Missouri?
I take a lot of it. We’ve known each other for so long, and he wanted to play with me. I know he wants to finish his career on a high note, winning and being successful, and he felt like he could do that here at Missouri. He’s already excited to be here and is shocked that we’re actually running plays for him in practice.

You lost a couple of draft picks in Kim English and Marcus Denmon, along with Ricardo Ratliffe and your brother, Matt. However, is it crazy to say this group may be more talented?
Not at all. Top to bottom, I think this team is more talented. But last year we had the work ethic, the chemistry and the basketball IQ was off the charts. We’ll see how it goes this year, but we need to establish the same kind of chemistry.

You’ve never been the most vocal guy in the world. Will that change this year with all the new players in the program?
I have no choice. I’m trying to tell guys what to do and make sure everyone is on the same page. I’m used to trying to be nice whenever I say something, but now I’m getting on guys a lot more. I’ve got to if I want to be a leader.

How many times have you watched your loss to Norfolk State in the NCAA Tournament?
I haven’t. We worked so hard all year and it was all gone so fast. We had a terrific regular season, won the Big 12 Tournament, and we went from such a high to such a low in such a short period of time. It’s crazy. I still don’t believe it. Usually I take it tough when we lose any game, but this one was obviously different. I felt like a little kid again and wanted to cry. It was hard for me because it was also my brother’s final game playing with me — and we just didn’t expect to go out like that.

The main reason you wound up at Missouri in the first place was because of former coach Mike Anderson. He and your dad are close friends. When he left for Arkansas, why did you stay in Columbia?
It was crazy when he left, but I felt it was a business move for him. He did it because it was right for his family. He was the one who brought me here, but I felt as though I could play for any coach, and I just didn’t want to leave and sit out an entire season and watch. It made it easier for me when the rest of the team decided to stay.

What did you know about Coach Haith when he was hired to replace Mike Anderson?
My high school coach grew up with him, so he told me about him and that he was a great coach for point guards. I connected with him right away, especially when he said he’d put the ball in my hands. That’s what he told me — and he’s been right so far.

What area of your game did you focus on this summer?
Being able to pull up and shoot it. I can get to the basket with my speed and my perimeter shot has improved, but I need to add that aspect of my game where I can pull up and make shots. If I can do that, I’ll be more dangerous and effective as a player.

Do you get mad when people talk about your size and question whether you are big enough to play at the next level?
It just makes me work harder. Whether it’s positive or negative, I try and use it as motivation to get in the gym and work. I’ve always had to prove people wrong who questioned whether I’d make it.

Your brother is 6-2 and your dad (former NBA player) Phil Pressey is about 6-5. Is that difficult to deal with?
It was in the past, but now I’ve come to accept it and also understand that I’m able to do some things that he isn’t because of my size. My dad told me at the end of my senior year that I need to just be who I am. I feel like now I can do anything he can do, even though he’s taller. I’m more athletic, so I try and take advantage of that.

When was the first time you were able to dunk?
I remember it well. It was in after freshman year (in high school) and I was with Ron Giplaye in the gym. I was probably around 5-7 then and I was using a girls’ ball. I used to try and dunk all the time. This time I got it and went crazy. I told everyone. My mom didn’t even believe me, so I sent her a video so she could see it.

Have you always been a pass-first point guard?
In middle school I used to shoot the ball all the time. I never passed. In seventh grade, my dad told me that I wasn’t getting my teammates involved enough. I listened to him and started passing, but back then I used to try and score 40 or 50 points.

You’ve been busy this past summer going to the Chris Paul, Deron Williams and LeBron James camps. What was the best advice you picked up along the way?
Chris Paul and I talked about leading a team and making sure everyone is where they are supposed to be. Point guards have the ball in their hands 90 percent of the time. The game starts and ends with you. We talked a lot about leadership and that’s a big part of what I have to do this season.

Who was the most impressive player you saw at the camps that surprised you?
Mike Moser of UNLV. He played really well. He rebounds, runs the floor and can shoot it and also score in the post. Tony Mitchell was also really good, but I knew all about Tony — especially because he was supposed to come to Missouri.

Visit the online store for Missouri and other editions of the 2012-13 Athlon Sports College Basketball annual.

What do you like to do when you aren’t playing or practicing?
Watch movies and play video games. I hang with my teammates a lot. My favorite movie?  “He Got Game.” I love playing Call of Duty, but I don’t play as much as I used to. I felt I was the best on the team last year, but I bet Marcus Denmon would tell you the same thing.

Your biggest asset is your speed. Any idea what your 40-yard dash time is?
No. I might try and do it with the football guys, though. I want to see what I’d run in the 40. But basketball speed is different. It’s rare I actually go all out and sprint.

I’ve seen coaches yell at you over the years for throwing no-look passes and tossing the ball off the walls. Have you toned it down a bit?
Absolutely. I used to guess on passes, but now I make sure I’m on the same page as my teammates. I’ve learned to value the ball more since I got into college and now I don’t take nearly as many chances. But I still throw a behind-the-back or no-look pass at times. Just not nearly as much as I used to. Sometimes when we watch film, Coach Haith gets into me for a crazy pass, but my assist-to-turnover ratio was about 3-to-1 last year. I want to get it to 4-to-1 this season.

Who is the best point guard in the country?
Other than myself?  I don’t know. I don’t know who’s going to be No. 2. That’s not up to me. I just want to be No. 1.

Who do you like to watch and who do people compare you to?
I love Steve Nash, Rajon Rondo and Chris Paul. A lot of people compare me to T.J. Ford because of my size, but I honestly feel like I’m my own person.

@AthlonSports

Athlon College Basketball Countdown So Far:
20. Florida

19. Notre Dame

18. Memphis
17. Baylor
16. Missouri

Teaser:
<p> College Basketball Countdown: 1 on 1 with Missouri's Phil Pressey</p>
Post date: Monday, September 24, 2012 - 10:53
Path: /golf/ryder-cup-teams
Body:

Davis Love III had to have a feeling of sweet vindication watching one of his captain's picks, Brandt Snedeker, walk off with the FedExCup after winning the Tour Championship. But a more important Cup is up for grabs this week, and Snedeker could provide the difference between a U.S. win and another year of heartbreak at the hands of a driven European squad.

This much is certain: A dazzling array of talent will be on display at Medinah Sept. 28-30.

Undoubtedly, Europe considers itself the favorite, but remember this: The U.S. team can claim 23 major championships among its team members (granted, 14 of them are from one man), while Europe claims only five. But as the Euros have made clear over the last three decades, this is their true major.

Plus, the Euro side holds the edge in experience — they're bringing only one Ryder Cup rookie with them (Nicolas Colsaerts), while the U.S. side will have four Ryder Cuppers making their maiden voyages in the most tense and rancorous environment in golf.

Here, then, then are the two teams, with previous Ryder Cup appearances and all-time Cup records:

 

European Ryder Cup Team
Average World Ranking: 18.9
Total Majors Won: 5


Luke Donald ('04, '06, '10) 8-2-1
World Ranking: 3
The former World No. 1 has the Ryder Cup record to back up his lofty ranking. This is his major; he'll be ready to play.

Sergio Garcia ('99, '02, '04, '06, '08) 14-6-4
World Ranking: 19
Sergio's Ryder Cup record is above reproach. Will the golf gods smile on him this week?

Peter Hanson ('10) 1-2
World Ranking: 25
Hanson doesn't offer much in terms of Ryder Cup experience or reputation, but his game speaks for itself.

Martin Kaymer ('10) 2-1-1
World Ranking: 32
He hasn’t had a top-10 since April and is considered the “weak link’’ on this team. How will he be used and will he be effective?

Paul Lawrie ('99) 3-1-1
World Ranking: 28
The 1999 British Open champ has seen a career resurgence of late. He could be a surprising catalyst for the Euros.

Graeme McDowell ('08, '10) 4-2-2
World Ranking: 18
McDowell clinched the Cup for the Euros last time out with his singles win over Hunter Mahan. He'll be an anchor again.

Rory McIlroy ('10) 1-1-2
World Ranking: 1
He’s won two majors since his only Ryder Cup appearance, and now is expected to be a force on the European team.

Francesco Molinari ('10) 0-2-1
World Ranking: 31
Molinari won't have his brother as a partner this time around, but his streaky game could prove valuable in bursts this weekend.

Justin Rose ('08) 3-1
World Ranking: 5
Rose is playing well, finishing second at the Tour Championship. Surprisingly, this is only his second Ryder Cup experience.

Lee Westwood ('97, '99, '02, '04, '06, '08, '10) 16-11-6
World Ranking: 4
Westwood limps into Medinah after a somewhat disappointing season. But this is his stage. Expect solid play from the European stalwart.

Captain Picks
Nicolas Colsaerts (Ryder Cup Rookie)
World Ranking: 35
The only rookie on the European team, Colsaerts is an amazingly long hitter who can also putt. He won the Volvo Match Play and the only question about him is how he handles his first Ryder Cup.

Ian Poulter ('04, '08, '10) 9-2
World Ranking: 26
Poulter provides the cocky edge for the European side. He'll be the guy the American crowd will love to hate.

 

U.S. Ryder Cup Team
Average World Ranking: 12.2
Total Majors Won: 23


Keegan Bradley (Ryder Cup Rookie)
World Ranking: 14
Bradley's personal quirks and slow play could get in the heads of his opponents. That's a good thing.

Jason Dufner (Ryder Cup Rookie)
World Ranking: 9
Many people probably aren't expecting much out of Dufner in his Ryder Cup debut. I'm not one of those people. The guy can roll with the punches.

Zach Johnson ('06, '10) 3-3-1
World Ranking: 17
His ability to roll the rock is key, as putting has typically been a sore spot on the U.S. side.

Matt Kuchar ('10) 1-1-2
World Ranking: 15
Kuchar has lurked under the radar at times, but he could prove to be a stalwart for Team Love.

Phil Mickelson ('95, '97, '99, '02, '04 '06, '08, '10) 11-17-6
World Ranking: 16
Like Woods, Mickelson is important because of his long history of playing on U.S. teams and will be looked on to serve as a mentor to young players such as Bradley and Simpson.

Webb Simpson (Ryder Cup Rookie)
World Ranking: 8
How will Simpson hold up in the pressure cooker of the Ryder Cup? If his U.S. Open performance is any indication, he'll do just fine.

Bubba Watson ('10) 1-3
World Ranking: 7
Bubba will provide the emotion that the U.S. team has sometimes lacked.

Tiger Woods ('97, '99, '02, '04, '06, '10) 13-14-2
World Ranking: 2
More than ever, Woods needs to be a force on a U.S. team that is lacking experience.

Captain's Picks
Dustin Johnson ('10) 1-3
World Ranking: 13
DJ's a bit of a wild card. He's probably the most talented guy on either team, capable of stunning brilliance but also subject to the occasional loose swing.

Jim Furyk ('97, '99, '02, '04, '06, '08, '10) 8-15-4
World Ranking: 23
Furyk has struggled at times this season — losing a lead at the U.S. Open in surprising fashion — and will feel pressure to justify DL3's faith in him.

Steve Stricker ('08, '10) 3-3-1
World Ranking: 12
Stricker provides a steady hand, a mature presence and a capable flatstick for the U.S. side.

Brandt Snedeker (Ryder Cup Rookie)
World Ranking: 10
The newly minted FedExCup champion is the world's best putter at the moment, a skill that always comes in handy in the heated match play environment of the Ryder Cup.

— by Rob Doster
Follow on Twitter @AthlonDoster

Teaser:
<br />
Post date: Monday, September 24, 2012 - 09:30
All taxonomy terms: Davis Love III, Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods, Golf
Path: /golf/ryder-cup-2012-5-questions-davis-love-iii
Body:

U.S. Ryder Cup Captain Davis Love has the unenviable task of trying to reverse two decades of European Ryder Cup dominance, a run that has been interrupted only a couple of times since Europe won the 1995 Cup at Oak Hill. One aspect of Love's mandate for his team as it arrives at Medinah Country Club in suburban Chicago: Have fun. The U.S. seems to play better when it's looser, as was the case when an underdog group won the Cup in 2008. Here, Love talks about his formidable challenge, his strategy for his team and more.

Q. What do you make of the depth of European golf compared to American golf?

DLIII: Well, it's the depth of international golf. There's so many good players … That's why it's so hard on tour to win these days. That's why Tiger's (Woods) dominance over the last six or eight years is so incredible, because the field is so deep that it's tough to win these days; and when you see Rory (McIlroy) run away with a tournament … it's hard to win. There's so many guys trying to beat him. So it shows the strength of international golf right now.

Both teams are deep. There's no getting around that. You pick a squad from either tour, top 10, top 20, top 30 are going to be very, very similar.

Q. Can you talk about the message you have shared with your team?

DLIII: In 1986 I sat down with (sports psychologist) Bob Rotella and Tom Kite for my first real session of my career, and the speech has been the same since 1986: "One shot at a time, get into the process, not the result."

It sounds easy, but it's hard to do. Each shot is the same level of importance. Well, we are going to preach that at The Ryder Cup, but how are we actually going to do it, that's the trick. When you walk out on the first tee and there's 30,000, 40,000 people and they are chanting, all the Bob Rotella stuff goes out the window really quick when you get really nervous, and you start thinking about winning or losing.

The secret is going to be: How do you turn that off. We watched a lot at the Olympics of athletes somehow channeling that and into their personal best time or their world record time, or 15-year-olds and 17-year-olds handling that incredible pressure and winning Gold medals. How do we translate that excitement and energy and nervousness of three days of golf into incredible feats?

And we want to get them fired up and we don't want them to be nervous. We want to get them thinking about winning, but we don't want them thinking about results on the first tee Friday morning.

 

Q: How much involvement have you had in the setup of Medinah?

DLIII: Kerry (Haigh, PGA of America official) has done a great job of PGA Championships and Ryder Cups over the years, so we are going to lean on letting him help us with that. But I don't know that we figured out a way to make it suit 12 different guys. Medinah is going to be long and tough, and if the weather is bad, you know, it could be really long and tough.

So I don't know what our ultimate strategy is. Although I'm not a fan of deep rough. So we won't have really, really deep rough. I think Paul's (Azinger) setup at Valhalla (at the 2008 Ryder Cup) was fun for the fans, and probably leaned towards making it fan/TV friendly, some risk and reward, rather than U.S. Open style of just hit it in the rough and chip it out. I don't think that would be fun.

I think what's very important is having a variety of holes, a variety of scores, and you don't want it to be birdie every hole; although for our side that would be nice. You want some variety and some risk and some reward, and we certainly have got the opportunity with par 3s over water and par 5s; there's a lot of tee boxes at Medinah, and now with No. 15, I've played that hole a lot over the last two years, and there's a lot of variety there.

 

Q: If we get lucky in the singles draw on Sunday and we get Tiger and Rory, how do you see that match going?

DLIII: I'd want to go watch that one. It would be nice to be able to rig them, rig a couple like that for Tiger and Rory … he (Tiger) would probably like that. No, it would be a great match. I'm sure they both would relish that. We have got some guys on our team that I'm sure would love to take him on, because you want to play the best. You want to play a guy that's hot, and I know Tiger or Phil (Mickelson) or any of those guys would love to try it.
We don't see it as Rory versus Tiger. It's U.S. versus Europe, and we are all going to be friends before and we are all going to be friends after, just maybe not quite as close for those three days.

 

Q: Do you feel any extra pressure as captain?

DLIII: There's a lot of reasons to feel a lot of pressure as a captain. It’s a lot of fun. I think (European captain) José Maria Olazabal will tell you the same thing. It's a lot of fun, it's a lot of responsibility, and it's a humbling experience.

This tournament has gotten so big, so important, so internationally well-known that it's a lot of pressure. I heard Dave Stockton speak at the (PGA) Past Champions Dinner, and he said the best thing about being the captain in '91 was he got to watch everybody tee off and he didn't have to play.

That was a pretty good line. I don't have to hit any shots. I can just go out and watch. It is a lot of pressure. Just getting everything ready and being prepared and doing your best for these 12 players and making it a special week for them is probably the biggest challenge, the most pressure
 

Teaser:
<p> DL3 Plans to Win Back the Cup at Medinah</p>
Post date: Monday, September 24, 2012 - 08:00
All taxonomy terms: Kansas City Chiefs, Minnesota Vikings, NFL
Path: /nfl/amazing-stats-nfl-sunday-week-3
Body:

NFL football is the greatest reality TV program of all time. The Giants and Colts made sure of that back in 1958. Each NFL fall weekend is a completely new and original experience for every player, fan and coach alike. New stories, new personalities, new winners and new losers. And new statistics.

Here are the most important, most intriguing and most bizarre statistics from Week 3 of NFL play: 

24: Total penalties in the Baltimore-New England showdown
On a Sunday with multiple overtime games and crazy endings across the league, the Patriots and Ravens previewed the AFC playoffs in rare fashion. There were 899 combined yards of total offense, 61 combined first downs, six lead changes, a game-winning field goal and one finable illegal contact penalty. The reason Bill Belichick decided to clutch and grab a referee following the loss? An extremely questionable performance by the replacement officials leading to 10 penalties for New England, 14 for Baltimore and a combined 218 yellow flag yards. A great atmosphere between two rivals, a last-second victory and a gut-wrenching, but memorable moment for Torrey Smith should be the reason fans are talking about Sunday night's showdown around the water cooler this week. However, the replacement officials seemed to lack control, waffled on questionable calls and eventually became the top story. Enough is enough, Roger.

332.8: average passing yards from AFC North quarterbacks in Week 3
Who says those North Division are black-and-blue, defensive clouds of dust? Big Ben (384), Joe Flacco (382) and Andy Dalton (328) had the first, second and fifth-best passing days of the week in the NFL through Sunday, while all three teams scored at least 30 points. Brandon Weeden added 237 of his own yards as well to what turned out to be huge day through the air in the AFC North.

4.0: Eagles turnovers per game
This one was a lay-up. Michael Vick was beaten all to hell in the desert on Sunday and his team turned the ball over three more times in the ugly loss to the Cardinals. The Eagles' 12 giveaways leads the NFL by a wide margin and the team is lucky to be 2-1. Meanwhile, Vick is lucky to be walking after Arizona teed-off on him all afternoon, sacking him five times and allowing six total points. This offense has a lot of big-play speed, but will it last the entire 16-game slate? Not if they keep giving the football to the other team four times per game.

43: Ken Whisenhunt career wins as Arizona Cardinals head coach
With the dominant win over the Eagles on Sunday, Whisenhunt became the all-time winningest coach in Cardinals franchise history. Three games into his sixth season with the organization, he has passed the great Don Coryell (42). The Cards are 3-0 for the first time since 1974 and have marquee wins over New England, Philadelphia and Seattle. Currently, Arizona has its second-longest home winning streak in team history with seven straight wins — and is currently in position to claim a bye week and home-field advantage. It's never too early to starting looking ahead because, with that defense, the Cardinals have tremendous staying power. Oh, and Larry Fitzgerald became the youngest player to ever catch 700 passes. Including that dude named Rice.

0: Total combined turnovers and sacks for Christian Ponder
The surprise story of the day has to be the performance of the developing Vikings quarterback against arguably the league's nastiest and toughest defense. Ponder led an incredibly efficient Minnesota squad in the huge upset win over the San Francisco 49ers. Not only did he not turn the ball over or get sacked, but he converted on both redzone attempts, his only fourth down attempt, 7-of-14 third downs and the Vikes had just one team penalty. Matthew Stafford and Aaron Rodgers couldn't beat the Niners, but Ponder did — with a career-high 89.9 QB rating. The loss now puts Atlanta and Arizona one game up in the race for the NFC bye week.

2,092: Total yards of combined offense for Ponder, Blaine Gabbert and Jake Locker
The other three guys in the 2011 first-round QB class combined for 194 yards of total offense through three weeks of play last fall. All of it was Gabbert's as Locker and Ponder hadn't even taken an NFL snap at this stage of last season. Ponder (251.3 ypg) and Gabbert (163.3 ypg) have yet to throw an interception this year while Locker (282.7 ypg) provided the Titans with 413 yards of total offense in their first win of the year. There have been many doubters of this class of signal callers, some of which has to be tied directly to poor surrounding casts, but these three youngsters are beginning to acquit themselves rather well in relatively short order. Just for reference, their 2,092 yards of total offense is more than Phillip Rivers, Jay Cutler and Sam Bradford combined (2,051).

18: Seconds it took Detroit to score two touchdowns to tie the game
A three-yard touchdown pass from Shaun Hill to Calvin Johnson cut the Tennessee Titans lead from to seven points with 18 seconds remaining. Detroit recovered the onside kick and two plays later connected on a Hill-to-Titus Young Hail Mary from the Titans 46-yard line as time expired. After a Titans field goal in overtime, all the Lions had to do was match with three of their own to keep the game going. But on a bizarre 4th-and-1 QB sneak call on the Tennessee seven-yard line, Hill was stopped well short and the game was over. As a bonus amazing stat, the Titans became the first team in NFL history to score five touchdowns of at least 60 yards or more (AP).

230: Difference in yards rushing from Week 2 to Week 3 for Jamaal Charles
The former Texas Longhorn has played in 52 career NFL games and his three yards rushing last weekend in the loss to Buffalo was his worst career showing as a professional. Charles bounced back in a big way with his second-best rushing day of his career with 233 yards in the road win over New Orleans. His 91-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter not only sparked the victory but turned out to be the longest play in franchise history. Most importantly, Kansas City avoids an 0-3 start while putting the embattled Saints in the nearly impossible position of being winless after three games.

- by Braden Gall

@bradengall

Teaser:
<p> Amazing Stats From NFL Sunday: Week 3</p>
Post date: Monday, September 24, 2012 - 06:40
Path: /nfl/green-bay-packers-vs-seattle-seahawks-preview-and-prediction
Body:

Two teams looking to build on big Week 2 wins will clash tonight when the Seattle Seahawks host the Green Bay Packers at 8:30 pm EST on ESPN. After losing the season-opener at home to the 49ers, the Packers rebounded last week with a resounding defensive effort in a 23-10 victory over the division-rival Bears. Seattle also lost its opener to the surprising Arizona Cardinals, but Pete Carroll’s bunch spanked the Dallas Cowboys at CenturyLink Field last Sunday by a 27-7 mark.

When the Green Bay Packers have the ball:
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers had an amazing MVP campaign last year, but he has not been able to establish quite the same passing rhythm this season. Green Bay has faced two top defenses so far, and a tough Seahawks unit will present a challenge as well. The Packers offensive line will need to do a better job of protecting Rodgers, who has been sacked eight times in two games. The good news for Green Bay is that star receiver Greg Jennings should be play after missing last week’s game against the Bears with an injured groin.

The Seahawks defense has been very solid this season, especially against the run. Seattle has only given up a total of 92 rushing yards on 36 carries, for a stingy average on 2.6 yards per run. Cedric Benson and the Packers run game has not been much of a threat in two games, so the Seahawks will look to put Rodgers in difficult down-and-distance situations. Seattle only has two sacks in two games, and that will need to improve against the Green Bay passing attack.

When the Seattle Seahawks have the ball:
The Seahawks have been fairly conservative on offense with rookie quarterback Russell Wilson getting acclimated to the NFL game. Seattle will continue to use the power running game with Marshawn Lynch, who has totaled 207 yards and two touchdowns this season. He battled back issues this week, but the sixth-year runner practiced Saturday and should be a go tonight. Wilson will need to avoid turnovers against a gambling Packers defense and play well on third down.

The Packers defense has given up an alarming 280 rushing yards this year, and improvement in that area will be a critical factor against Lynch and the Seahawks. If Green Bay can control the Seattle run game, there will be ample opportunities to force the youthful Wilson into challenging predicaments. The Packers already have 11 sacks this year, and generating that type of pressure on a rookie quarterback could lead to turnovers and big plays.

Key Factor:
This contest should come down to the play of Rodgers and the Packers passing game. If Green Bay is effective throwing the ball on first down, Rodgers can create a successful offensive balance that will keep the raucous Seattle crowd out of the game. With Jennings back, look for the Packers to rediscover their lethal air attack.

Prediction:
Packers 27 Seahawks 23


---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)

Teaser:
<p> Green Bay Packers vs. Seattle Seahawks Preview and Prediction</p>
Post date: Monday, September 24, 2012 - 06:35
Path: /college-football/sec-post-week-4-power-rankings
Body:

The top of the SEC is as strong as ever. Alabama continues to shine, but LSU, Georgia, South Carolina and even Florida are capable of winning a conference title. The SEC East is making a comeback, as well. Alabama and LSU might be the two best teams in the league, but the next best three teams reside in the East.

Post-Week 4 Offensive Player of the Year Standings

1. Aaron Murray, Georgia
— The junior quarterback was superb in Georgia’s 48–3 win over Vanderbilt, completing 18-of-24 passes for 250 yards and two touchdowns. Murray ranks eighth nationally in passing efficiency through four games.

2. Mike Gillislee, Florida — He didn’t put up big numbers against Kentucky (56 yards on 13 carries), but Gillislee has been a huge factor in the Gators’ offensive renaissance. He ranks second in the SEC in rushing, with 100.5 yards per game.

3. Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M — The redshirt freshman had another big game for the Aggies, throwing for 174 yards and three scores while adding 78 yards and two scores on the ground in a 70–14 win over South Carolina State. He will have to prove himself against better competition to stay on this list, but Manziel is off to a great start.

 

Post-Week 4 Defensive Player of the Year Standings

1. Jarvis Jones, Georgia
— Jones returned to action after missing last week with an injury, and the junior outside linebacker was his usual disruptive self. He recorded seven tackles, including three for a loss (including one sack) in Georgia’s dominating win over Vanderbilt.

2. Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina — Clowney, a likely top-five pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, continues to be a force for the South Carolina defense. In four games, he has 7.0 tackles for a loss, including 2.0 sacks. The Gamceocks have given up 23 points in two SEC games.

3. C.J. Mosley, Alabama — The junior linebacker led Alabama with six tackles in a 40–7 win over Florida Atlantic. Through four games, he leads the Tide with 29 total tackles and has one interception.

 

Post-Week 4 Coach of the Year Standings

1. Nick Saban, Alabama
— The Crimson Tide have emerged as the clear No. 1 team one-quarter through the 2012 season. Right now, this looks like a team without a weakness.

2. Will Muschamp, Florida — The Gators are already 3–0 in the SEC with two of the wins coming on the road. The offense, a major question mark before the season, has been sharp, while the defense remains a strength.

3. Mark Richt, Georgia — The Bulldogs continue to climb up the national rankings. They are playing extremely well on both sides of the ball and are now being mentioned with the elite teams in the nation.

Post-Week 1 SEC Power Rankings

1. Alabama (4-0, 1-0 SEC)
Last week’s rank: 1
Week 4 result: Beat Florida Atlantic 40–7
The big news in Tuscaloosa is that Alabama was scored on for the first time since the third quarter of its Week 1 win vs. Michigan. When Florida Atlantic quarterback Graham Wilbert connected with Alex Deleon on a 6-yard pass with 2:49 remaining in the game, the Crimson Tide’s streak was snapped at 12 straight scoreless quarters — a run that lasted 192 minutes and 25 seconds of game time. FAU, which lost last week at Georgia, managed only 110 total yards and had only 45 offensive snaps. Alabama had 503 yards and scored on its first seven possessions.

2. LSU (4-0, 1-0 SEC)
Last week’s rank:
2
Week 4 result: Beat Auburn 12-10
LSU had won 12 straight games by at least 24 points against teams not named Alabama. The Tigers, however, struggled to beat Auburn. But a win is still a win — especially on the road in the SEC. “We were tested, and we answered the call,” LSU coach Les Miles said. The Tigers, to no one’s surprise, got it done on defense. Auburn totaled only 183 yards of offense and did not have one drive that went longer than 42 yards. LSU has allowed 14 points or less in all four games in 2012.

3. Georgia (4-0, 2-0 SEC)
Last week’s rank:
3
Week 4 result: Beat Vanderbilt 48-3
Georgia looks more and more like a legitimate national championship contender with each passing week. The Bulldogs were sharp on both sides of the ball in an easier-than-expected win over Vanderbilt. Georgia scored on its four possessions — with touchdown drives of 68, 88, 57 and 96 yards — to put the game out of reach in the first half. In three career games vs. Vanderbilt, Aaron Murray is 55-of-86 for 863 yards with seven touchdowns and one interception.

4. South Carolina (4-0, 2-0, SEC)
Last week’s rank:
5
Week 4 result: Beat Missouri 31-10
Steve Spurrier was kidding, we think, when he offered this critique of South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw: “Well, he got off to a slow start. He missed the first one, I think.” Shaw’s first pass did fall incomplete, but the junior quarterback connected on his next 20 attempts to finish a near flawless performance with a 95.2 completion percentage, 249 yards passing and two touchdowns without an interception. After surviving a scare at Vanderbilt in Week 1, South Carolina has won its three ensuing games by an average score of 43–9.

5. Florida (4-0, 3-0 SEC)
Last week’s rank:
4
Week 4 result: Beat Kentucky 38-0
Florida became the first team in the nation with three conference wins — and the Gators barely had to break a sweat to do so. Sophomore quarterback Jeff Driskel wasn’t quite as sharp as he was in the big win at Tennessee, but he was still very efficient (18-of-27 for 203 yards with one TD and one INT) for an offense that rolled up 403 yards. The Gators shined on third down, converting 12-of-17 while limiting the Kentucky offense to only 4-of-15.

6. Mississippi State (4-0, 1-0 SEC)
Last week’s rank:
6
Week 4 result: Beat South Alabama 30-10
There wasn’t much to get excited about in Mississippi State’s win over South Alabama, one of the worst teams in the FBS ranks. The Bulldogs barely outgained the Jaguars (356 to 347); quarterback Tyler Russell completed less than 50 percent of his passes; and the running game was mediocre at best, with an average of 4.2 yards per rush. But the Dogs are 4¬¬–0 for the first time since the 1999 Bulldogs, coached by Jackie Sherrill, opened the season 8–0 en route to a 10–2 record.

7. Texas A&M (2-1, 0-1 SEC)
Last week’s rank:
8
Week 4 result: Beat South Carolina State 70-14
The Aggies did what was expected: Beat overmatched South Carolina State with ease. Johnny Manziel once again was sharp, completing 15-of-20 passes for 174 yards and three touchdowns and adding 78 yards and two scores on the ground. Texas A&M set an SEC record in only its third game as a member of the league; the Aggies had 246 punt return yards, highlighted by a 96-yard return for a score by Dustin Harris.

8. Missouri (2-2, 0-2 SEC)
Last week’s rank:
7
Week 4 result: Lost to South Carolina 30-10
Missouri’s first SEC road trip didn’t go too well. The Tigers had only 255 yards on offense — their lowest total since gaining 173 in a loss to Texas in 2009 — and provided little resistance to Connor Shaw and the South Carolina passing game. Shaw completed 21-of-22 passes for 249 yards and two touchdowns. Meanwhile, Mizzou quarterback James Franklin threw for only 92 yards on 18 passes for an average of 5.1 yards per attempt. The Tigers head to UCF next week for a tricky road game before returning home for a key three-game homestand.

8. Tennessee (3-1, 0-1 SEC)
Last week’s rank:
9
Week 4 result: Beat Akron 47-26
The end result looked good: The Vols won the game by 21 points and outgained Akron 633 to 344. But this was far more difficult than coach Derek Dooley would have liked. The score was tied until midway through the third quarter, and the game was in doubt until Tyler Bray hooked up with Justin Hunter for a 10-yard touchdown strike with 9:18 remaining in the fourth. Tennessee was productive running the ball: Rajion Neal led the way with 151 yards on 22 carries, and Marlin Lane chipped in with 47 yards on nine attempts. Akron has now lost 22 straight road games.

9. Auburn (1-3, 0-2 SEC)
Last week’s rank:
10
Week 4 result: Lost to LSU 12-10
It was far more competitive than most expected — Auburn was an 18-point under dog — but there are no moral victories, especially at home, for a team that won a national championship as recently as 2010. In two SEC games, Auburn is averaging 199.5 total yards and has scored one offensive touchdown. Kiehl Frazier, in his first season as the starting quarterback, has completed 47-of-89 passes for 546 yards (only 136.5 per game) with two touchdowns and seven interceptions. The Tigers are 1–3 for the first time since 1998 — the season in which Terry Bowden stepped down after six games.

11. Arkansas (1-3, 0-1 SEC)
Last week’s rank:
11
Week 4 result: Lost to Rutgers 35-26
Arkansas, ranked in the top 15 in every preseason poll, dropped to 1–3 with a 35–26 loss to Rutgers in Fayetteville. The return of Tyler Wilson, who missed last week’s 52–0 loss to Arkansas with a concussion, wasn’t enough to spark the Razorbacks. Wilson did his part, throwing for 419 yards and two touchdowns, but the Arkansas defense gave up five touchdowns and over 500 yards of offense. The Hogs are still looking for their first win vs. an FBS opponent; their lone win was vs. Jacksonville State in Week 1.

12. Vanderbilt (1-3, 0-2 SEC)
Last week’s rank:
12
Week 4 result: Lost to Georgia 48-3
Vanderbilt never recovered from a slow start and put up little fight en route to its most lopsided loss since being shut out by Tennessee 48–0 in the final game of the 2003 season. In a bit of a surprise, Jordan Rodgers got the nod at quarterback over Austyn Carta-Samuels, who started the previous week against Presbyterian. Rodgers completed 13-of-23 for 218 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions. Zac Stacy ran well for Vanderbilt with 83 yards on 12 carries. The Commodores have now been outscored by a combined 91–3 in their last two trips to Athens.

13. Ole Miss (3-1, 0-0 SEC)
Last week’s rank:
13
Week 4 result: Beat Tulane 39-0
The Rebels completed the nonconference portion of their schedule with a 3-1 record after pounding Tulane 39-0 in New Orleans. Ole Miss jumped on the Green Wave early, with four touchdowns in the game’s first 13 minutes. The Ole Miss defense limited Tulane to 159 total yards one week after getting lit up by Texas for 676 yards in a 66–31 loss in Oxford. Tulane, playing without starting quarterback Ryan Griffin, averaged only 2.3 yards per play.

14. Kentucky (1-3, 0-1 SEC)
Last week’s rank:
14
Week 4 Result: Lost to Florida 38-0
Starting quarterback Maxwell Smith was forced to watch from the sideline as Kentucky dropped to 1–3 with a lopsided loss to Florida. Entering the weekend, UK ranked 13th in the nation and first in the SEC in passing with 322 yards per game. But with Smith sidelined with a shoulder injury, the Wildcats’ offense struggled mightily. Morgan Newton, a senior who stepped in for Smith, had a nightmarish stat line: 7-of-21 for 48 yards with no touchdowns and three interceptions.
 

By Mitch Light

Related College Football Content

ACC Post-Week 4 Power Rankings
Big East Post-Week 4 Power Rankings

Big Ten Post-Week 4 Power Rankings

Pac-12 Post-Week 4 Power Rankings

Big 12 Post-Week 4 Power Rankings

Teaser:
<p> The top of the SEC is as strong as ever. Alabama continues to shine, but LSU, Georgia, South Carolina and even Florida are capable of winning a conference title. The SEC East is making a comeback, as well. Alabama and LSU might be the two best teams in the league, but the next best three teams reside in the East.</p>
Post date: Monday, September 24, 2012 - 06:05
Path: /college-football/acc-post-week-4-power-rankings
Body:

The ACC's chance in the national spotlight didn't disappoint. Florida State-Clemson provided one of 2012's most entertaining games, with the Seminoles coming out on top. Miami's overtime win over Georgia Tech headlined the rest of the action in the conference.

Offensive Player of the Year Standings

1. EJ Manuel, QB, Florida State – Manuel earned his signature win at Florida State, recording 482 total yards in a huge win over Clemson.

2. Andre Ellington, RB, Clemson – Ellington was held largely in check against Florida State (55 yards) but leads the ACC with an average of 95.8 rushing yards per game.

3. Michael Campanaro, WR, Wake Forest – Campanaro has been Tanner Price’s go-to target this year, recording at least nine receptions in three out of four games. The junior has 36 catches through four contests.
 

Defensive Player of the Year Standings

1. Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State – Werner suffered a hand injury against Clemson and was relatively quiet on the stat sheet with four tackles.

2. Joe Vellano, DL, Maryland – Vellano continued his solid season with six tackles (two for a loss) against West Virginia.

3. David Amerson, CB, NC State – Amerson has stepped up since a bad season opener, recording three tackles and one interception against Citadel in Week 4.
 

Coach of the Year Standings

1. Jimbo Fisher, Florida State – The Seminoles officially stamped their place in the national title mix with a big win over Clemson on Saturday night.

2. Al Golden, Miami – The Hurricanes are far from a perfect team, but Golden deserves some credit for leading Miami to a 42-36 victory over Georgia Tech in Week 4.

3. David Cutcliffe, Duke – The Blue Devils are halfway to bowl eligibility and are coming off a big 38-14 victory over Memphis in Week 4.

Post-Week 4 ACC Power Rankings

1. Florida State (4-0, 2-0 ACC)
Last Week’s Rank:
1
Week 4 result: Beat Clemson 49-37
Is Florida State back? That question will seemingly continue to hang around the program until the Seminoles make an appearance in the national title game. However, after Saturday night’s win against Clemson, Florida State has to be taken seriously as a national title contender. The Seminoles fell behind early but rallied behind quarterback EJ Manuel. The senior was nearly flawless on Saturday night, throwing for 380 yards and two touchdowns, while rushing for 102 yards on 12 attempts. Although the defense gave up 37 points, it put the clamps on Clemson’s high-powered attack in the second half. Not only was the win huge for Florida State’s national title hopes, but it is clearly in the driver’s seat for the ACC Atlantic crown.
Next Game: at South Florida

2. Clemson (3-1, 0-1 ACC)
Last Week’s Rank:
2
Week 4 result: Lost to Florida State 49-37
Even after a loss in Tallahassee, it’s hard to penalize the Tigers in the power rankings. Clemson led Florida State 28-14 in the third quarter but was simply overpowered by a better opponent in the second half. The Tigers did a good job of using misdirection and formations to slow down the Seminoles’ defense, however, the offense was bottled up in the final two quarters. Clemson’s defense was gashed for 287 rushing yards, while the secondary allowed 380 yards to Florida State quarterback EJ Manuel. The Tigers should bounce back in Week 5 against Boston College.
Next Game: at Boston College

3. Virginia Tech (3-1, 1-0 ACC)
Last Week’s Rank:
4
Week 4 result: Beat Bowling Green 37-0
A week after a surprising loss to Pittsburgh, Bowling Green was the perfect medicine for the Hokies. Thanks to a solid performance from quarterback Logan Thomas, Virginia Tech jumped out to a 21-0 lead at halftime and never looked back. Thomas finished with three overall scores, while the defense held the Falcons under 300 yards. The Hokies step out of conference for the final time of the season, playing Cincinnati at FedEx Field in Landover, Md.
Next Game: Cincinnati (Landover, Md.)

4. Miami (3-1, 2-0 ACC)
Last Week’s Rank:
9
Week 4 result: Beat Georgia Tech 42-36
Somehow, the Hurricanes pulled out a 42-36 win over Georgia Tech in Week 4. In one of the strangest games of the season, Miami jumped out to a 19-0 lead, only to fall behind 36-19 late in the third quarter. However, the Hurricanes scored 23 unanswered points, including the game-winning score in overtime to seal the upset. Miami’s defense has struggled all season, and it allowed Georgia Tech to rush for 287 yards. The Hurricanes made up for their struggles on defense with a potent offense, including 436 passing yards and two touchdowns by quarterback Stephen Morris.
Next Game: NC State

5. Georgia Tech (2-2, 1-2 ACC)
Last Week’s Rank:
3
Week 4 result: Lost to Miami 42-36
As we indicated above with the Miami writeup, Georgia Tech’s loss on Saturday was one of college football’s most bizarre outcomes of the season. The Yellow Jackets fell behind 19-0 but held a 36-19 lead late in the third quarter. That wasn’t enough to hold off the Hurricanes, as they rallied for a 42-36 victory in overtime. As expected, Georgia Tech’s offense had its way with Miami, but the Yellow Jackets struggled to get stops on defense. With two ACC losses, Georgia Tech faces an uphill battle to win the Coastal.
Next Game: MTSU

6. NC State (3-1, 0-0 ACC)
Last Week’s Rank:
5
Week 4 result: Beat Citadel 52-14
The Wolfpack have rebounded nicely since losing to Tennessee in Week 1. Tom O’Brien’s team has recorded three straight victories, including a 52-14 win over Citadel in Week 4. Quarterback Mike Glennon has not tossed an interception in the last three weeks, and the defense has allowed only 28 points during that stretch. The competition steps up for NC State this Saturday, as it travels to Miami to take on the Hurricanes and hosts Florida State in Week 6.
Next Game: at Miami

7. Wake Forest (3-1, 1-1 ACC)
Last Week’s Rank:
7
Week 4 result: Beat Army 49-37
The Demon Deacons had a tough assignment in Week 4. After a brutal 52-0 beatdown at the hands of Florida State, Wake Forest had to take on a tricky Army team last Saturday. The Black Knights gave the Demon Deacons all they could handle, rushing for 429 yards and four touchdowns. However, Wake Forest’s balanced offense was simply too much in the end and held on for a 49-37 victory. The Demon Deacons will play two of their next three games on the road but host ACC rival Duke this Saturday.
Next Game: Duke

8. North Carolina (2-2, 0-1 ACC)
Last Week’s Rank:
8
Week 4 result: Beat East Carolina 27-6
After back-to-back close losses, the Tar Heels returned to the win column with a solid 27-6 victory over East Carolina. The offense got a huge boost with the return of running back Giovani Bernard. The sophomore rushed for 50 yards and one touchdown and added six receptions for 52 yards and one score. North Carolina’s defense had rough performances against Wake Forest and Louisville but allowed only 233 yards to the Pirates.
Next Game: Idaho

9. Virginia (2-2, 0-1 ACC)
Last Week’s Rank: 6
Week 4 result: Lost 27-7 to TCU
The Cavaliers’ struggles on offense continued with a 27-7 loss in Fort Worth against TCU. Quarterback Michael Rocco completed only 13 of 28 throws and tossed two interceptions. Backup Phillip Sims moved the offense late in the fourth quarter and could see more time in Week 5. Virginia’s defense had no answer for TCU quarterback Casey Pachall, giving up 305 yards and three touchdowns on Saturday afternoon. The Cavaliers won’t have much time to regroup, especially with an upset-minded and dangerous Louisiana Tech team coming to town in Week 5.
Next Game: Louisiana Tech

10. Duke (3-1, 0-0 ACC)
Last Week’s Rank:
10
Week 4 result: Beat Memphis 38-14
Going into the season, most felt this was David Cutcliffe’s best team at Duke. So far, the Blue Devils have handled their business, capped by a dominating 38-14 victory over Memphis in Week 4. Duke’s defense has been hit hard by injuries but allowed just 152 yards to the Tigers. Quarterback Sean Renfree had a strong game for the Blue Devils, throwing for 314 yards and four touchdowns. Running back Jela Duncan gave the ground game a spark, recording 88 yards on nine attempts. Duke is halfway to bowl eligibility, but the schedule gets tougher the rest of the way with all ACC games on the schedule.
Next Game: at Wake Forest

11. Boston College (1-2, 0-1 ACC)
Last Week’s Rank:
11
Week 4 result: Bye Week
The Eagles had an off date in Week 4 and return to the field this Saturday against Clemson. The upcoming stretch is an important one for Boston College, as its bowl hopes could ride on the next three or four games. The Eagles will be underdogs in three of its next four games, and this team cannot afford to get blown out and slump to 2-6 or 1-7 record at the end of October.
Next Game: Clemson

12. Maryland (2-2, 0-0 ACC)
Last Week’s Rank:
12
Week 4 result: Lost to West Virginia 31-21
Even though it was a loss, Maryland deserves some credit for its Week 4 performance. The Terrapins were not blown out as some expected and gave West Virginia a good fight through all four quarters. Quarterback Perry Hills bounced back from a brutal blindside hit at the end of the first half and finished with 305 yards and three touchdowns. As expected, West Virginia’s offense was eventually too much, but the Terrapins did a good job of limiting the Mountaineers’ rushing attack and getting after quarterback Geno Smith.
Next Game: Wake Forest (Oct. 6)
 

by Steven Lassan

@athlonsteven

Related College Football Content

Big East Post-Week 4 Power Rankings
Big Ten Post-Week 4 Power Rankings

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College Football Week 4 Recap

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Rutgers’ road win over a team that lost in overtime to Louisiana-Monroe and 52-0 to Alabama saved the Big East further embarrassment in Week 4.

Only a week after the Big East went 3-0 against ACC schools, the Big East flopped Saturday with two losses on the road against MAC teams and two losses against vulnerable Big East teams on the road. Even league favorite Louisville struggled at times on the road at Florida International.

Thanks to Rutgers’ win over Arkansas, the week wasn’t a total loss for the Big East.

Offensive Player of the Year Standings
1. Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville --
Bridgewater had his worst game of the season despite playing in familiar territory in his hometown of Miami. The sophomore entered the game against Florida International completing 72-of-88 passes, but he was 19 of 36 against FIU. He also threw his first two interceptions of he season.

2. Gary Nova, Rutgers -- In a development that would have been unthinkable back in August, Nova outplayed Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson in Fayetteville. A week after a sound performance against USF in Tampa, Nova broke out by going 25 of 35 for 397 yards with five touchdowns against Arkansas.

3. Jawan Jamison, Rutgers -- The Scarlet Knights’ offense isn’t one dimensional. Jamison topped 100 yards for the fourth time this season, rushing for 118 yards on 33 carries against Arkansas. Rutgers may be watching his workload, though, as the sophomore has 74 carries the last two weeks.

Defensive Player of the Year Standings
1. Khaseem Greene, Rutgers --
The Scarlet Knights’ defense didn’t have its best game against Arkansas as Tyler Wilson passed for 419 yards, 303 of those to Cobi Hamilton. Greene, though, finished with seven tackles, two pass breakups and a quarterback pressure.

2. Yawin Smallwood, Connecticut -- With Western Michigan going to the air against UConn, Smallwood didn’t have the big-play numbers he’s had in other games this season, finishing with seven tackles. Yet Smallwood still leads the Big East in tackles and tackles for a loss.

3. Jason Hendricks, Pittsburgh -- After moving a few players the secondary, Pitt’s pass defense has become a strength in the past two games. Along with Jarred Holley, safety Jason Hendricks has helped lead the way with three interceptions in the last two weeks.

Coach of the Year Standings
1. Kyle Flood, Rutgers --
Rutgers looked shaky in the first two games of the season, but the Scarlet Knights appear to be capable of finally winning their first Big East title. The first-year coach leads the only team in the country with three wins on the road (Tulane, USF and Arkansas).
 
2. Butch Jones, Cincinnati -- Jones’ main task is navigating an odd stretch to start the season which has included two open dates, an early conference game, an FCS opponent and now a neutral site game against Virginia Tech.

3. Charlie Strong, Louisville -- The Cardinals’ last six quarters have to be of concern for Strong (right). North Carolina went on a 27-3 run against Louisville in the second half a week ago. The Louisville let a short-handed FIU hang around in a 28-21 win.

Big East Post-Week 4 Power Rankings

1. Louisville (4-0, 0-0)
Last week’s rank:
1
Week 4 result: Beat Florida International 28-21
Louisville’s offense sputtered at times, but the Cardinals avoided a second consecutive loss to FIU despite a curveball thrown to the coaching staff. All assistants from both teams coached from the sidelines when FIU’s staff found its headsets were inoperable (rules prohibit one team coaching from the press box if the other cannot). Teddy Bridgewater had his worst game of the season, but more troubling may be the play of the defense. FIU had 326 yards of offense despite playing without its top running back, Kendrick Rhodes, for the entire game and without starting quarterback Jake Medlock for part of the game. Louisville has four sacks and 12 tackles for a loss this season, Big East-lows in both categories.
This week: at Southern Miss

2. Rutgers (4-0, 1-0)
Last week’s rank:
2
Week 4 result: Beat Arkansas 35-26
Rutgers is 4-0 for the first time since 2006, when the Scarlet Knights started with nine consecutive wins and finished 11-2. Excluding Louisville wins over Kentucky, Rutgers notched the Big East’s first win in an SEC stadium since USF defeated Auburn on the road in 2007. After a couple of years of questions at quarterback and problems on the offensive line, Rutgers quarterback Gary Nova seems to be getting better by the week behind a line that has allowed two sacks all season.
This week: Off

3. Cincinnati (2-0, 1-0)
Last week’s rank:
4
Week 4 result: Off
Cincinnati will return from an open date to try to do what Pittsburgh did to Virginia Tech two weeks ago. The Bearcats have had two weeks to digest a dominating win over Pitt followed by a lackluster effort against Delaware State, where quarterback Munchie Legaux accounted for four turnovers (two interceptions, two fumbles).
This week: Virginia Tech (Landover, Md.)

4. USF (2-2, 0-1)
Last week’s rank: 3
Week 4 result: Lost to Ball State 31-27
The offense appeared to recover from its struggles against Rutgers a week ago with B.J. Daniels passing for 312 yards and three touchdowns on 19-of-30 attempts while rushing for 75. Daniels led scoring drives of 84 and 99 yards in the second half to narrow the deficit to a field goal. The defense, however, was a no-show. The Bulls were shutout in the “big play” department with no takeaways and no tackles for a loss. In the last two games, USF has allowed opponents to convert half of their third-down attempts (16 of 32 combined against Rutgers and Ball State). This is a team whose defense has been a calling card -- the Bulls were in the top four nationally in sacks and tackles for a loss just a year ago. DeDe Lattimore, Sam Barrington and Ryne Giddins are still at USF, but the results are not.
This week: Florida State

5. Pittsburgh (2-2, 0-1)
Last week’s rank:
7
Week 4 result: Beat Gardner-Webb 55-10
Has Pittsburgh overcome its dysfunction on both sides of the ball from the first two games of the season? It sure appears so over the last two weeks against Virginia Tech and Gardner-Webb. Pitt did what it couldn’t do against its last FCS opponent and built a big lead on Gardner-Webb by the end of the first half. Ray Graham rushed for a 78-yard touchdown in the first quarter and took most of the day off thereafter. And after completing 18 of 24 passes for 244 yards with three touchdowns and no turnovers, Tino Sunseri ranks 15th in the country in pass efficiency.
This week: Off

6. Connecticut (2-2, 0-0)
Last week’s rank:
5
Week 4 result: Lost to Western Michigan 30-24
Connecticut’s stifling run defense couldn’t help the Huskies against Western Michigan, who defeated UConn for the second season in a row. Western Michigan rushed for only 77 yards and 2.6 yards per carry, but Connecticut’s offense remained stuck in neutral. Chandler Whitmer passed for 333 yards, and Lyle McCombs had his first 100-yard game of the season. But Whitmer was sacked six times and turned the ball over three times (two interceptions one fumble). UConn is last in the Big East in turnover margin (minus-6), pass efficiency (119.8), yards per carry (2.9) and sacks allowed (10). The Huskies are also the only team in the league with more interceptions than touchdown passes.
This week: Buffalo

7. Syracuse (1-3, 0-0)
Last week’s rank:
6
Week 4 result: Lost to Minnesota 17-10
Through the first three weeks of the season, the line on Syracuse was that the Orange were not as bad as its record indicated thanks to hard-fought losses to Northwestern and USC. Maybe not. Syracuse was kept out of the end zone until the game’s final minute in a road trip to Minnesota. Quarterback Ryan Nassib struggled, passing for only 82 yards in the first half and turning the ball over three times (two interceptions, one fumble) in the game. The defense wasn’t much better as Minnesota backup quarterback Max Shortell passed for 231 yards. Turnovers continue to be a problem as Syracuse is minus-6 in turnover margin this season.
This week: Off

8. Temple (1-2, 0-0)
Last week’s rank:
8
Week 4 result: Lost to Penn State 24-13
Even with running backs Montel Harris and Matt Brown in the lineup, Temple was unable to move the ball against the Penn State defense thanks to the Owls’ non-functional passing game. Chris Coyer was 13 of 26 for 124 yards with a touchdown against Penn State, but it was clear the Nittany Lions didn’t spend much time worrying about Temple as a passing threat. The Owls have the fewest pass attempts and fewest completions in the Big East and average a Big-East-low 6.6 yards per attempt (every other team in the league averages at least 7.2). Harris and Brown combined for just 49 yards on 14 carries as Temple failed to score a touchdown until the final 1:33.
This week: Off

By David Fox

@DavidFox615

Related College Football Content

Three and Out: Week 4 Recap

ACC Post-Week 4 Power Rankings
Big Ten Post-Week 4 Power Rankings
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Pac-12 Post-Week 4 Power Rankings
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Big Ten fans have to be ecstatic that conference play is beginning this weekend. This has been a non-conference season from hell that can't end fast enough for most Midwestern college football fans. The league has two non-conference games left — Marshall at Purdue this weekend and Indiana at Navy on Oct. 20 — and its out of conference record includes a season sweep by Notre Dame (0-3), a 1-3 record against the archrival Pac-12 and three bad losses to the MAC. The Big Ten has a total of six wins over fellow AQ leagues, with Cal being the signature victory of a group that includes Temple, Vanderbilt, Boston College and Syracuse twice.

That said, 2012 has the makings of one the most dramatic Big Ten seasons in recent memory. Round robins in both divisions should be extremely competitive and virtually impossible to predict as conference play begins this weekend. 

Post-Week 4 Offensive Player of the Year Standings

1. Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State - Stop me when you've heard this before. Ohio State starts slow against inferior competition until the best player on the field takes over the game and leads OSU to victory? He rushed for 64 yards and two more scores to go with 143 yards passing and no turnovers. He has accounted for 14 total touchdowns, thrown only two interceptions and is No. 2 in the Big Ten in rushing.

2. Taylor Martinez, QB, Nebraska - The Big Ten's most efficient passer (180.93 rating, 9 TD, 1 INT) led his team to 73 points this weekend on 9-of-13 passing for 165 yards and two scores. Nebraska boasts the league's No. 1 scoring offense, No. 1 total offense and No. 1 rushing offense.

3. Le'Veon Bell, RB, Michigan State - The formula seems to be pretty clear. Give the ball to Bell as much as possible and Michigan State wins. He posted a career-high 253 yards on 36 attempts (No. 2 in his career) and his fifth score of the season in the win over Eastern Michigan. 


Post-Week 4 Defensive Player of the Year Standings

1. Mike Mauti, LB, Penn State - He didn't play like an elite talent in the first two games and PSU lost. But he has taken his game to a new level to get the Nittany Lions back to .500. He posted nine solo tackles and a forced fumble in the win over Temple and now is No. 2 in the league in tackles.  

2. Kawann Short, DL, Purdue - By process of elimination, Short is No. 2 without playing a game last weekend. He is still No. 2 in the league in sacks on what has been a solid Boilermakers front line. 

3. Manti Te'o, LB, Notre Dame - Yes, Will Compton, D.L. Wilhite, Ryan Shazier, Mike Taylor or Max Bullough could be listed here. But Big Ten fans need to bow to the most influential defensive player in the Big Ten thus far. Te'o posted 30 tackles, two interceptions, a fumble recovery, 2.0 tackles for loss, two passes defended and led his Irish defense to low-scoring wins over Michigan, Michigan State and Purdue, in what could be the best three-game stretch of his decorated career.

 

Post-Week 4 Coach of the Year Standings

1. Urban Meyer, Ohio State - Meyer has the best resume of the Big Ten unbeatens. He has the best player in the league and a chance to prove it all this weekend.

2. Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern - Can you really blame Coach Fitz for playing at least one cupcake? There is no such thing as a bad 4-0 record in Evanston. Ill.

3. Bo Pelini, Nebraska - Nebraska is leading the league in scoring, rushing and total offense. They are leading the league sacks, tackles for loss and kickoff returns. This might be the best bowl-eligible team in the league.

 

Post-Week 4 Power Rankings

1. Ohio State (4-0)
Previous rank: 1
Week 4 result: Beat UAB 29-15

UAB had more total yards, more first downs, was better on third downs and controlled the time of possession but lost the only stat that matters. Ohio State continues to show its warts, especially in the first quarter, as it took until the 6:31 mark of the second period to put points on the board. And then the story gets awfully familiar. Braxton Miller led Ohio State on a 21-3 scoring run in the second half to pull away and keep their perfect record intact. He has willed his team to victory with clutch throws and tough runs on more than one occasion this fall. But can he do the same thing against much more physical Big Ten defenses?
This week: at Michigan State (3-1)

2. Michigan State (3-1)
Previous rank: 3
Week 4 result: Beat Eastern Michigan 23-7
The first weekend of Big Ten play will feature the top two teams in the Athlon Sports' Big Ten power rankings when Ohio State and College Gameday visit East Lansing on Saturday. Like the Bucks, Michigan State has to iron out some kinks. The offense is entirely too one-dimensional as Bell accounted for 253 of the 428 total yards of offense against Eastern Michigan. Quarterback play is still a big question mark, and Andrew Maxwell will be forced to beat the good teams in conference play as defenses stack the box against Bell. Otherwise, Sparty's defense should keep them in every game, as Mark Dantonio's unit leads the league in rushing defense, scoring defense and total defense.  
This week: Ohio State (4-0) 

3. Michigan (2-2)
Previous rank: 2
Week 4 result: Lost to Notre Dame 13-6
The Notre Dame defense is as good advertised. Just ask Denard Robinson. The star quarterback turned the ball over five times in what was arguably his worst game as a starting quarterback at Michigan. He couldn't get his team into the end zone and totaled just 228 total yards of offense in the loss. So does the bye week come at exactly the right time or precisely the wrong time? Does Robinson and Michigan need to get back onto the field to remove the horrible memory of this loss, or will the extra time help this team prepare for a grueling Big Ten slate that begins with a road trip to Purdue? Only time will tell.
This week: Open Date

4. Nebraska (3-1)
Previous rank: 4
Week 4 result: Beat Idaho State 73-7
Welcome back, Rex Burkhead (119 yards and two TDs). And Bo Pelini too for that matter. Certainly, it was a perfect storm for the poor Bengals of Idaho State and little was learned about the Cornhuskers in the lopsided victory. Taylor Martinez continues to blossom into one of the most efficient and dynamic passers in the country. The running game looks downright nasty with No. 22 atop a depth chart that also includes names like Abdullah, Heard and Cross. And the defense, while allowing yards, is starting to get its mojo back by leading the league in sacks and tackles for loss through four weeks. This team's big picture success has always been tied directly to Martinez' ability to play consistent football through the air. If he finishes the year as the Big Ten's top passer, odds are Nebraska is playing in Indianapolis.
This week: Wisconsin (3-1)

5. Northwestern (4-0)
Previous rank: 5
Week 4 result: Beat South Dakota 38-7 
Much like Nebraska, not much was learned about Northwestern in its win this weekend. The Wildcats breezed to an easy victory without turning the ball over, holding South Dakota to 240 total yards and putting the game out of question early on (28-0 at halftime). Perhaps the most important lesson to be gleaned from the one-sided win is the emergence of tailback Venric Mark. He scored his three touchdowns and 97 of 117 yards came in first half, giving Pat Fitzgerald what could be his first traditional running threat since Tyrell Sutton. A 5-0 start is likely for the purple Cats of Chicago.
This week: Indiana (2-1)

6. Purdue (2-1)
Previous rank: 6
Week 4 result: Off
After a bye in Week 4, the Boilers will play one of two remaining Big Ten non-conference games against Marshall this weekend. Additionally, for what it is worth, Purdue played Notre Dame the toughest of the three Big Ten teams. 
This week: Marshall (2-2)

7. Wisconsin (3-1)
Previous rank: 7
Week 4 result: Beat UTEP 37-26
The Badgers offense looked much different this week, as it welcomed new starting quarterback Joel Stave and star wide receiver Jared Abbrederis to the starting lineup. Abbrederis was out last week, while Stave was making his first career start as a redshirt freshman former walk-on. And did it make a difference. After 207 total yards in the loss to Oregon State and 234 in the nail-bitter over Utah State, Wisconsin posted a season-high 423 yards of offense and a season-high 213 yards rushing. Most of which came without star tailback Montee Ball. While Stave played consistent football and Abbrederis immediately stretched the field, Ball was lost near the end of the second quarter with a head injury. Melvin Gordon and James White, however, filled in admirably by carrying 23 times for 177 yards and three touchdowns. This team is a far cry from last year's championship squad, but if the offense stabilizes, UW will push for a division crown, albeit by default.
This week: at Nebraska (3-1)

8. Minnesota (4-0)
Previous rank: 11
Week 4 result: Beat Syracuse 17-10
Fans of Minnesota who are clamoring for respect are getting closer and closer to getting it. A great defensive effort and newly discovered running game helped the Golden Gophers defeat what is clearly their toughest opponent to date. D.L. Wilhite and Ra'Shede Hageman applied pressure all night long to an offense that had been scoring over 32 points per game with the nation's No. 3-rated passing offense. On offense, Max Shortell was adequate in place of the injured MarQueis Gray, but Donnell Kirkwood was the workhorse, carrying 28 times for 99 yards and accounting for both Minnesota touchdowns. This was the first real test for Minnesota and it looks as though it will be nearly impossible to keep Goldy out of the postseason.
This week: at Iowa (2-2)

9. Illinois (2-2)
Previous rank: 8
Week 4 result: Lost to Louisiana Tech 52-24
This wasn't how Illinois wanted to welcome quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase back to the starting lineup. In fact, this loss not only epitomizes the Big Ten's poor showing out of conference this fall, but encapsulates Scheelhaase's career as well. He got his team out to a 7-0 lead with a scoring strike. But then the offense stalled, due in part to turnovers from Scheelhaase, and he left the game for good. The Bulldogs then went on to score three first quarter touchdowns and finished the game on a 52-17 run. The Illini turned the ball over six times and now lead the Big Ten in that category with 11 turnovers lost. A loss to a defending conference champion who averages 56 points per game wouldn't have been the end of the world. But getting destroyed at home in this fashion is completely unacceptable.

This week: Penn State (2-2)

10. Penn State (2-2)
Previous rank: 10
Week 4 result: Beat Temple 24-13
The Nittany Lions began the year with two brutal, heart-breaking losses to Ohio and Virginia. But this team, and quarterback Matt McGloin in particular, have shown obvious improvement under the leadership of Bill O'Brien. The junior under center has looked like an actual college quarterback, throwing for a career high 318 yards and accounting for all three PSU touchdowns in one of the league's five wins over an AQ school. This offense lacks playmakers but if the signal caller can rally the troops, this defense should be good enough to keep the Lions in most games. Don't sleep on Penn State University.

This week: at Illinois (2-2)

11. Iowa (2-2)
Previous rank: 9
Week 4 result: Lost to Central Michigan 32-31
James Vandenberg connected with Kevonte Martin-Manley just 2:28 seconds into the game for the Hawkeyes first touchdown pass of 2012. For the next 57 minutes, however, Kinnick Stadium sat and watched its team choke away another win. Onside kicks, personal foul penalties, failed third downs and the play of Central Michigan gave the Big Ten one of its worst losses of the year. The crazy ending — nine CMU points in the final 45 seconds — overshadowed what should be one of the better stories in the league this year: walk-on Mark Weisman's 217 yards and fourth, fifth and sixth rushing touchdowns in two weeks. Kirk Ferentz needs to start winning games immediately.
This week: Minnesota (4-0)

12. Indiana (2-1)
Previous rank: 12
Week 4 result: Off
One has to wonder if two weeks to think about that loss to Ball State is good or bad for Kevin Wilson's bunch. 
This week: at Northwestern (4-0)


by Braden Gall

@bradengall

Related College Football Content

Three and Out: Week 4 Recap

ACC Post-Week 4 Power Rankings
Big East Post-Week 4 Power Rankings
Big Ten Post-Week 4 Power Rankings
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SEC Post-Week 4 Power Rankings 

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Oregon and USC used stellar defensive performances to get key home conference wins. Oregon State and Mike Riley shocked the country once again with an upset win over a ranked opponent — this time on the road — as the Beavers have added their name to the crowded North Division race. The Colorado Buffaloes got what could be its first and only win of the 2012 season in stunning fashion. But the most startling performance of the weekend has to go to Todd Graham and the Arizona State Sun Devils. The one-sided win over Utah was the most impressive showing by any one team this weekend, as the South Division race continues to get more interesting by the day.

Post-Week 4 Offensive Player of the Year Standings


1. De'Anthony Thomas, AP, Oregon - Thomas got a career-high 12 rushing attempts in the big win over Arizona, but it was a 38-yard punt return that kickstarted the Ducks offense in a then-close contest. He is first in the league in scoring, second in punt returns and seventh in rushing...for the best team in the league.

2. Marqise Lee, WR, USC - There are too many options in this league (and on this team) to list just three, but Lee is leading the league in all-purpose yards (197.0 ypg), receiving yards (391) and receptions (9.7 rec./game). He caught 11 passes for 94 yards and two more touchdowns in the win over Cal. 

3. Brett Hundley, UCLA - Taylor Kelly, Marcus Mariota, Stepfan Taylor, Matt Barkley and Sean Mannion could all be listed here. But Hundley gets the nod after starting his career with three 300-yard efforts in his first four games. He is six passing yards behind Matt Scott for the league lead and has accounted for 11 total touchdowns. He is the reason UCLA has quickly returned to relevance.
 

Post-Week 4 Defensive Player of the Year Standings

1. Michael Clay, LB, Oregon - There were a lot of deserving performances this weekend, but the heart and soul leader of the Ducks unit was the best. He posted 13 total tackles, 2.0 tackles for loss, a sack and a forced fumble, as Oregon pitched a shutout against a team averaging 46 points per game.

2. Morgan Breslin, DL, USC - The Trojans got back on the winning track due in large part to a fantastic effort from the junior lineman. Breslin totaled six tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss and 3.0 sacks as USC completely manhandled the Cal offense. Breslin is No. 2 in the Pac-12 with 5.0 sacks.

3. Scott Crichton, DL, Oregon State - The most-improved unit in the league might be the Oregon State defense. Against the league's No. 1 offense and the nation's leading rusher, the sophomore defensive lineman was the star. He had six tackles, 3.0 tackles for a loss and 2.0 sacks in the road win over UCLA.


Post-Week 4 Coach of the Year Standings

1. Chip Kelly, Oregon - The Ducks' defense decided it wanted in on the scoring fest that has been Oregon's 2012 season. A 49-0 whitewashing of Arizona is as impressive as any other win in the league this season. Yes, even Stanford's over USC.

2. David Shaw, Stanford - No one has ever lost to "BYE WEEK," so Shaw is still very much the top contender to Kelly for COY. His team will face another tough primetime test this weekend against Washington on the road on Thursday night.

3. Mike Riley, Oregon State - Jim Mora and Rich Rodriguez both experienced hard first losses of the season, with UCLA's coming at the hands of Coach Riley. The Oregon State coach won his school record-tying 74th game has two wins over ranked opponents thus far in two games.


Post-Week 4 Power Rankings

1. Oregon (4-0)
Previous rank: 1
Week 4 result: Beat Arizona 49-0 
On a team known for its big-play, quick-strike offense, it was the underrated Ducks' defense that did the job in Eugene. Well, until the offense finally got rolling. Nick Aliotti's 3-4 scheme pitched Oregon's first conference shutout since 2003, as the Ducks won a key Pac-12 opener. They forced five turnovers, scoring two of their own touchdowns on interception returns in the fourth quarter. They continually stopped the vaunted Wildcats no-huddle attack in the redzone, holding Arizona's offense to nearly 300 yards fewer than its average. Marcus Mariota was solid under center, while tight end Colt Lyerla added a new power element to the ground game (7 att., 63 yards, TD). Alabama is the only team that has looked better through four weeks of action.
This week: at Washington State (2-2)

2. Stanford (3-0)
Previous rank: 2
Week 4 result: Bye Week
The Cardinal didn't play this week and will face a Washington team in primetime on Thursday night. Both teams should be well rested and well prepared for the short week.
This week: at Washington (2-1)

3. USC (3-1)
Previous rank: 3
Week 4 result: Beat Cal 27-9
It wasn't a vintage Matt Barkley performance (192 yards, 2 TD, 2 INT), but the Trojans got back on track in impressive fashion this week against Cal. USC ran the ball 40 times for 296 yards and the game's first touchdown as all-everything center Khaled Holmes returned to the lineup. Both Curtis McNeal and Silas Redd topped the century mark, and the defense did the rest, holding Cal to just 77 yards rushing on 36 attempts and just three field goals. The Trojans registered seven sacks, two interceptions and just 250 total yards of offense allowed. It was an all-around effort from the Men of Troy and it got Lane Kiffin's squad back on the Pac-12 championship tracks. Even it Barkley had his second-straight multi-interception performance.
This week: Open Date

4. Oregon State (2-0)
Previous rank: 8
Week 4 result: Beat UCLA 27-20
Mike Riley has opened the season with arguably the best tandem of wins in the nation, a home victory over ranked Wisconsin and a road upset over ranked UCLA. Sophomore quarterback Sean Mannion threw two long touchdowns and finished with 379 yards, while the Beavers defense was once again the story. The much-improved unit held the powerful Bruins' rushing attack to 72 yards on 28 attempts, limiting the nation's leading rusher - Johnathan Franklin - to 45 yards on 12 carries. Unblemished Oregon State and its suddenly stingy defense has another tough road test this weekend against Rich Rodriguez.
This week: at Arizona (3-1)

5. UCLA (3-1)
Previous rank: 4
Week 4 result: Lost Oregon State 27-20
Brett Hundley threw for a career-high 372 yards and rallied the Bruins to within one score of Oregon State, but the lack of a consistent running game cost UCLA its perfect record. Johnathan Franklin had been averaging 180.3 yards per game through three weeks but was completely shutdown by the revamped OSU defense. Hundley, who could be the best UCLA quarterback in over a decade, now has three straight 300-yard efforts in four career games, but will have to get his ground support back if Jim Mora expects to compete in the South. The same goes for a defense that entered the weekend as the Pac-12's No. 2 pass efficiency defense. It allowed the Beavers' Sean Mannion to throw for a career-high in yards to go with an 172.7 passer rating. UCLA isn't all the way back just yet.
This week: at Colorado (1-3) 

6. Arizona (3-1)
Previous rank: 5
Week 4 result: Lost to Oregon 49-0
Yes, the score was 13-0 Oregon with seven minutes to go in the third quarter. Yes, the Wildcat defense played solid against one of the nation's top offenses. But at the end of the day, a 49-0 loss is as demoralizing as it gets. Not many expected this type of blowout but if Arizona wants to be taken seriously nationally, it will have to do a better job in the redzone. Six times Matt Scott led his team into the scoring zone and each time his team came away without any points. Four turnovers, a blocked field goal and a turnover on downs sealed the Cats fate in Eugene. Much like UCLA, this team is vastly improved under the new coach. and much like the Bruins, it still has a long way to go.
This week: Oregon State (2-0)


7. Washington (2-1)
Previous rank: 6
Week 4 result:
Bye Week

See Stanford above.
This week: Stanford (3-0)

8. Arizona State (3-1)
Previous rank: 10
Week 4 result: Beat Utah 37-7
Taylor Kelly had a career day throwing for a personal best 326 yards and three touchdowns to go with no turnovers, as Arizona State made the biggest statement of the weekend out West. Kelly and his versatile backfield jumped to a 21-0 first quarter lead and led 31-7 before the defense shutdown the Utes in the second half. While Kelly's efficiency and a stout defense won the game, Todd Graham's ability to get the football into many different hands is worth noting. Cameron Marshall touched the ball 10 times and scored twice. Both quarterbacks ran the ball seven times each. Speedster dynamo DJ Foster led the team with 70 rushing yards. Marion Grice caught a touchdown pass. And even returner/receiver Jamal Miles was given a handful of carries. The depth and versatility of Graham's running game is what could be the difference between a bowl game and conference contention.
This week: at Cal (1-3)

9. California (1-3)
Previous rank: 9
Week 4 result: Lost USC 27-9
Quarterback Zach Maynard was running for his life all day long and Cal failed to reach the endzone because of it. The Golden Bears surrendered seven sacks, turned the ball over twice, converted only 3-of-14 third downs and totaled 250 yards of offense. The Bears also couldn't get stops on defense, allowing USC to use its power rushing attack to wear down the Cal front seven. Cal is now 87th nationally in total defense at 430.3 yards allowed per game. With the surging Sun Devils and UCLA next on the schedule, a 1-5 start for Jeff Tedford is very much a possibility. 
This week: Arizona State (3-1)

10. Utah (2-2)
Previous rank: 7
Week 4 result: Beat Lost to Arizona State 37-7
In a week with plenty of disappointing performances — Arizona's offense, UCLA's rushing attack, Washington State at home — the Utes' lackluster butt-kicking suffered at the hands of Arizona State has to be the most discouraging. A defense that was lights out against BYU watched Sun Devils' quarterback Taylor Kelly torch its secondary, while the offense was downright pathetic. Jon Hays threw for 117 yards while John White rushed 14 times for 18 yards. Utah's offense finished with only 10 first downs, went 4-of-14 on third downs and finished with a paltry 209 yards of total offense (117 passing, 92 rushing). This team was one win against Colorado away from playing for the Pac-12 title last year. Now, it appears destined for fifth in the South Division. The off week couldn't come at a better time.
This week: Open Date

11. Colorado (1-3)
Previous rank: 12
Week 4 result: Beat Washington State 35-34
Colorado won't finish the year winless after an improbable fourth quarter road rally in Pullman. The fans at Martin Stadium watched Jordan Webb lead the Buffaloes offense to three touchdowns in the final seven minutes of play to cap-off the unlikely victory for Jon Embree. Webb was the star of the day, completing 29-of-42 passes for 345 yards and four total touchdowns — the last of which was a game-winning four-yard dash into the endzone with nine seconds remaining on the clock. For a team that is 0-2 against the Mountain West and has lost to an FCS program, a road Pac-12 win cannot be overstated.
This week: at UCLA (3-1)

12. Washington State (2-2)
Previous rank: 11
Week 4 result: Lost to Colorado 35-34
There really is no excuse for the fourth-quarter performance Mike Leach's team put together this weekend. Connor Halliday threw for 401 yards and four touchdowns but that didn't mean anything when the game was on the line on Saturday. The Cougars defense couldn't get any stops late in the game and it led to one of the worst collapses of the year. Despite the success in the passing game and the 28-14 lead entering the final frame, Wazzu watched Jordan Webb and the Buffs go up and down the field to stun the crowd at Martin Stadium. Leach's team was outgained on the ground 186 to 50 and the lack of a consistent rushing attack will be a major issue for Washington State all season long.
This week: Oregon  (4-0)

by Braden Gall

@bradengall

Related College Football Content

Three and Out: Week 4 Recap

ACC Post-Week 4 Power Rankings
Big East Post-Week 4 Power Rankings
Big Ten Post-Week 4 Power
Rankings
Big 12 Post-Week 4 Power Rankings

Pac-12 Post-Week 4 Power Rankings
SEC Post-Week 4 Power Rankings 

Teaser:
<p> Pac-12 Post-Week 4 Power Rankings</p>
Post date: Monday, September 24, 2012 - 06:00
Path: /college-football/big-12-post-week-4-power-rankings
Body:

Week 4 provided a few surprises in Big 12 play. Kansas State shocked Oklahoma in Norman, allowing the Wildcats to jump from No. 5 in Athlon's power rankings to No. 2. Kansas State is one of the least flashy teams in the nation but always finds a way to win. Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, Texas and Iowa State had a bye week, while West Virginia knocked off Maryland and TCU beat Virginia. 
 

Post-Week 4 Big 12 Power Rankings

1. Texas (3-0, 0-0 Big 12)
Last Week:
2
Week 4 Result: Bye Week
It’s a close call between the Longhorns and Kansas State for the No. 1 spot in the Big 12. Texas gets the slight edge, but it’s really team 1A and 1B at this point.  The Longhorns had a bye in Week 4 and return to action this Saturday at Oklahoma State. The biggest question mark for Texas entering Big 12 play is quarterback David Ash. The sophomore has 703 yards and seven touchdowns through the first three weeks but a road game at Oklahoma State will be his biggest test. With Oklahoma suffering a loss to Kansas State, the race to win the Big 12 title is wide open.
Next Game: at Oklahoma State

2. Kansas State (4-0, 1-0 Big 12)
Last Week: 5
Week 4 Result: Beat Oklahoma 24-19
Just as we mentioned above, it’s essentially a 1A and 1B situation in Athlon’s Big 12 power rankings. The Wildcats scored one of Week 4’s most impressive victories, beating Oklahoma 24-19 in Norman. Quarterback Collin Klein carried the offense, throwing for 149 yards and adding 79 yards and one score on the ground. The defense limited the Sooners to 88 rushing yards and forced three turnovers. Kansas State isn’t the Big 12’s flashiest team but always finds a way to win. With upcoming games against Kansas and Iowa State, the Wildcats could be 6-0 before an Oct. 20 showdown against West Virginia.
Next Game: Kansas (Oct. 6)

3. West Virginia (3-0, 0-0 Big 12)
Last Week: 3
Week 4 Result: Beat Maryland 31-21
It wasn’t the blowout some expected, but the Mountaineers were never really in any danger of losing to the Terrapins. West Virginia jumped out to a 24-14 halftime lead and held on for a 31-21 victory. Quarterback Geno Smith completed 30 of 43 throws for 338 yards, with receiver Tavon Austin catching 13 passes for 179 yards and three touchdown tosses. The Mountaineers gave up 351 yards to Maryland’s offense but scored on a 51-yard fumble return in the first quarter. With a new scheme and a handful of new starters, West Virginia’s defense will be a work in progress through the first half of the season.
Next Game: Baylor

4. Oklahoma (2-1, 0-1 Big 12)
Last Week: 1
Week 4 Result: Lost 24-19 to Kansas State
After a sluggish performance against UTEP to open the season, most expected the Sooners would figure things out before Big 12 play arrived. Apparently not. Oklahoma dropped its first game of the year on Saturday, as Kansas State posted a 24-19 victory in Norman. Quarterback Landry Jones had a sluggish performance, completing 28 of 43 throws for 298 yards and one touchdown. The rushing attack was invisible, and the defense had no answer for Kansas State’s ground game. Oklahoma has another bye week this Saturday, which comes at a good time considering the performance against the Wildcats.
Next Game: at Texas Tech (Oct. 6)

5. TCU (3-0, 1-0 Big 12)
Last Week: 4
Week 4 Result: Beat Virginia 27-7
Three weeks, three impressive showings for the Horned Frogs. TCU held Virginia scoreless for 55 minutes, before the Cavaliers punched in a five-yard touchdown pass to end the shutout. Quarterback Casey Pachall threw for 305 yards and three touchdowns, while Matthew Tucker led the way with 52 yards on the ground. After three games, TCU leads the nation in scoring defense and ranks ninth in yards allowed.
Next Game: at SMU

6. Oklahoma State (2-1, 0-0 Big 12)
Last Week:
6
Week 4 Result: Bye Week
The Cowboys had a bye week in Week 4 and return to action against Texas this Saturday. The biggest question mark facing Oklahoma State against the Longhorns has to be who starts under center. Wes Lunt suffered a knee injury against Louisiana-Lafayette, and his status for Week 5 is uncertain. If Lunt can’t play, J.W. Walsh will get the nod. The Cowboys are looking for their third consecutive win over the Longhorns.
Next Game: Texas

7. Baylor (3-0, 0-0 Big 12)
Last Week:
7
Week 4 Result: Beat UL-Monroe 47-42
As expected, Baylor’s Friday night road test against ULM was no easy matchup. The Bears fell behind 21-7 but rallied to take a 24-21 halftime lead. Quarterback Nick Florence had an uneven start, before finding his rhythm and throwing for 351 yards and four touchdowns. The Bears got a nice boost on the ground from Glasco Martin, who rushed for 58 yards and one touchdown on 18 attempts. The defense allowed 560 yards but forced three turnovers and picked up two sacks. While Baylor has needed comebacks to beat Sam Houston State and ULM the last two weeks, the true test for this team will come in Big 12 play, starting this week at West Virginia.
Next Game: at West Virginia

8. Iowa State (3-0, 0-0 Big 12)
Last Week:
8
Week 4 Result: Bye Week
The Cyclones finished the non-conference portion of their schedule 3-0 and open Big 12 play this Saturday against Texas Tech. Iowa State’s defense has been rock solid so far, allowing just 280 yards per game. The offense has room to improve, especially in limiting turnovers. The Cyclones have won the last two matchups against the Red Raiders, including a 41-7 blowout victory in Lubbock last year.
Next Game: Texas Tech

9. Texas Tech (3-0, 0-0 Big 12)
Last Week: 9
Week 4 Result: Bye Week
The Red Raiders were off in Week 4 and open Big 12 play in Week 5 against Iowa State. Although it’s way too early to make any final assessments about Texas Tech’s defense, the early results have been positive. The Red Raiders are allowing just 160.3 yards per game and no opponent has managed more than 14 points through three games. Texas Tech’s schedule gets tougher the next few weeks, but the early results have been positive for the defense.
Next Game: at Iowa State

10. Kansas (1-2, 0-1 Big 12)
Last Week:
10
Week 4 Result: Lost to Northern Illinois 30-23
The Jayhawks held a 23-13 lead going into the fourth quarter, but it wasn’t enough to beat Northern Illinois. The Huskies scored 17 points in the final period to give Kansas its third consecutive loss and a defeat in 12 out of its last 13 games. Running back James Sims returned from a three-game suspension to lead the Jayhawks with 89 yards and two touchdowns. However, quarterback Dayne Crist struggled (10 of 26), and the defense allowed Northern Illinois’ quarterback Jordan Lynch to record 370 total yards and two scores. Charlie Weis and his staff clearly has a lot of work to do, and the Jayhawks will struggle just to earn a win in Big 12 play.
Next Game: at Kansas State (Oct. 6)

Related College Football Content

ACC Post-Week 4 Power Rankings
Big East Post-Week 4 Power Rankings
Big Ten Post-Week 4 Power Rankings
Pac-12 Post-Week 4 Power Rankings
SEC Post-Week 4 Power Rankings

Teaser:
<p> Big 12 Post-Week 4 Power Rankings</p>
Post date: Monday, September 24, 2012 - 05:58
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Legends Poll
Path: /college-football/legends-poll-top-25-college-football-week-4
Body:

Oregon and Florida State jumped over LSU in the Legends Poll rankings this week after the Tigers struggled to remain unbeaten at Auburn.

Second-ranked Oregon ran away from Arizona, 49-0, which landed the Ducks one spot behind No. 1 Alabama.

“Oregon is like some of those old wishbone teams back when we were all young that if you couldn’t stop them a little bit, you couldn’t stop them at all,” former USC head coach John Robinson said. “The thing that they have is they have a better defense and the quarterback… they’re all talking up there that the quarterback is better than anything they’ve ever had.”

No. 3 Florida State also moved up a spot in the Legends Poll, passing its first big test against Clemson Saturday night. After trailing by 10 points in the second half, quarterback EJ Manuel turned the tide and led Florida State to a 49-37 comeback victory.

LSU held on late, but stumbled against a struggling Auburn team, which caused LSU to fall two spots to No. 4 in the rankings.

Georgia rounded out the top 5 after dismantling Vanderbilt, 48-3.

No. 9 Notre Dame continued to roll against Michigan, dropping the Wolverines out of the rankings. Kansas State was the biggest mover of the week, moving up five spots and joining the Irish inside the top 10 after a making a bold statement at Oklahoma, defeating the Sooners 24-19.

Newcomers this week were No. 19 Mississippi State, No. 21 Oregon State and No. 23 Northwestern.

To see the individual votes by coach, visit the Legends Poll

THE LEGENDS POLL TOP 25

Rank Team Record Points PV RK  
1 Alabama (17) 4-0 425 1  
2 Oregon 4-0 393 3  
3 Florida State 4-0 385 4  
4 LSU 4-0 384 2  
5 Georgia 4-0 365 5  
6 West Virginia 3-0 323 7  
7 South Carolina 4-0 320 9  
8 Stanford 3-0 316 8  
9 Notre Dame 4-0 276 11  
10 Kansas State 4-0 267 15  
11 Texas 3-0 255 12  
12 Florida 4-0 231 14  
13 USC 3-1 204 13  
14 TCU 3-0 196 17  
15 Clemson 3-1 189 10  
16 Oklahoma 2-1 178 6  
17 Louisville 4-0 150 20  
18 Michigan State 3-1 121 22  
19 Mississippi State 4-0 112 -  
20 Nebraska 3-1 101 24  
21 Oregon State 2-0 87 -  
22 Boise State 2-1 54 23  
23 Northwestern 4-0 43 -  
24 UCLA 3-1 31 19  
25 Texas A&M 2-1 24 -  
 

* The Legends Poll voting process is exactly what the BCS is trying to create and Athlon will bring it to you as the de facto Selection Committee for fans to follow over the next two seasons, allowing you to see how the Selection Committee will operate from 2014 onward.  You can see the entire Poll at www.legendschannel.com.

Teaser:
<p> As voted on by 17 coaching legends</p>
Post date: Monday, September 24, 2012 - 05:45
All taxonomy terms: Missouri Tigers, SEC, College Basketball, News
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-countdown-no-16-missouri-countdown
Body:
Visit the online store for Missouri and other editions of the 2012-13 Athlon Sports College Basketball annual.

The first practices of college basketball season begin in mid-October, and Athlon Sports 2012-13 preview annuals are starting to arrive on newsstands all over the country.

To prepare for the start of college basketball season, we will preview one team each weekday, counting down to the first official day of basketball practice on Oct. 15, or for some teams on Oct. 12.

We continue our countdown with a preview of No. 16 Missouri.

After turning Missouri into the biggest surprise of the college basketball season — at least until its own shocking loss to No. 15 seed Norfolk State in the NCAA Tournament — coach Frank Haith and the Tigers are starting over.

Missouri bid farewell to five seniors, including All-American Marcus Denmon and all-conference selections Kim English and Ricardo Ratliffe, from last year’s team, which won 30 games while relying on a seven-man rotation. It also said good-bye this offseason to the Big 12 as it officially joined the SEC.

Guards Phil Pressey and Mike Dixon are the only Tigers who have logged minutes for Haith, so the team will have a distinctly different look as it wades into its new league. The Tigers regain the services of forward Laurence Bowers, who missed the ’11-12 season with a knee injury, and welcome in five recruits and four transfers. Missouri should be able to give opponents a lot of different looks, as well. That has Haith excited.
 “We can play big, we can play small,” he says. “Having a little bit of ability to adjust to who you’re playing against, I think that’s something we could not do (last) year.”

He’ll try to use it to his advantage as he attempts to keep the Tigers in the thick of the conference race and in line for a fifth straight NCAA Tournament berth.

Related: Q&A with Phil Pressey on becoming a better point guard, new faces at Mizzou

FRONTCOURT
Few imagined Missouri would have as much success as it did playing without Bowers last season after he tore the ACL in his left knee in early October. When last healthy, he was the Tigers’ second-leading scorer (11.6 ppg) and top rebounder (6.1 rpg), a versatile forward with good shot-blocking skills, a dependable midrange jumper and a knack for making highlight plays around the rim. He’s been allowed to take his recovery slowly and is confident he can regain his old form.

Haith plans on having Bowers mentor freshmen big men Ryan Rosburg and Stefan Jankovic and junior college transfer Tony Criswell. With those four players, Haith already would have more options up front than a year ago when he was forced to start English out of position.

But the spring brought an unexpected gift in 6’9”, 255-pound transfer Alex Oriakhi, a three-year starter at Connecticut who averaged 9.6 points and 8.7 rebounds while anchoring the Huskies’ frontline during their national championship season in 2011.

“He’s a rim protector, and that’s something we needed,” Dixon says.

BACKCOURT
The ability of the 5’11” Pressey to break down the defense off the dribble and find the open man didn’t just benefit Ratliffe but the entire team last season when the Tigers averaged a Big 12-best 80.4 points. But they must replace two lethal wing scorers in Denmon and English, who combined to average 32.2 points while shooting 42.9 percent from 3-point range.

Earnest Dixon (13.5 ppg), the team’s sixth man last season, seems poised to step into the starting lineup and assume a bigger part of the scoring load. Ross, a 6’5” transfer from Auburn, could fill the other open spot on the perimeter. He led those Tigers in scoring (13.1 ppg) and rebounding (6.6 ppg) as a sophomore, though Missouri needs him to become a more consistent shooter. His size and strength will give Haith the versatility to use a four-guard lineup when he sees fit.

Keion Bell, an athletic combo guard who averaged 16.4 points over three seasons at Pepperdine, could occupy Dixon’s old role off the bench. Jabari Brown, a former 5-star recruit who appeared in two games at Oregon, should also add punch to the Tigers’ offense when he becomes eligible in December.

FINAL ANALYSIS
Missouri players believe they won’t just have more bodies this season but also more talent than they did a year ago. But to have a chance to meet or exceed last season’s accomplishments, they will also have to match the chemistry so integral to that success.

The additional options could make it harder for players to fit into defined roles, but if Haith can get them to play together, the Tigers should be a more well-rounded team. The tandem of Bowers and Oriakhi figures to make them better at protecting the rim, and their improved depth should help them extend their defense on the perimeter.

With Pressey, one of the nation’s top playmakers, directing the offense, Missouri should also generate enough points to contend in a league race led by reigning national champion Kentucky.

@AthlonSports

Athlon College Basketball Countdown So Far:
20. Florida

19. Notre Dame

18. Memphis
17. Baylor

Teaser:
<p> College Basketball Countdown: No. 16 Missouri Countdown</p>
Post date: Monday, September 24, 2012 - 05:13
Path: /golf/brandt-snedeker-wins-tour-championship-fedexcup
Body:

While you were watching football and checking your fantasy scores (and your bets), Brandt Snedeker was winning $11.44 million. So how did you do today?

Snedeker simultaneously earned the two biggest trophies of his career, taking the Tour Championship and $1.44 million and clinching the FedExCup with its accompanying $10 million payout. Snedeker continued his playoff putting clinic, missing exactly zero putts from inside eight feet during his 68-70-64-68 four-day performance at East Lake and heading to Medinah ready to anchor the U.S. team with his putter, the hottest flatstick in the game today.

On a day when many of the leaders were retreating like Lee from Gettysburg, Snedeker stood strong, firing a final-round 2-under 68, beating Justin Rose by three shots and placing his name in consideration for the title of Best Player Never to Win a Major. Sneds slayed several demons on a nearly flawless Sunday, winning for the first time when holding a 54-hole lead and overcoming a history of late meltdowns at majors. Most tellingly, he overcame an early double bogey at No. 6 that threatened to undo his round, hitting a clutch par putt at 7 and a brilliant birdie at 8.

Golf's best bromance, Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods, combined to shoot 6-over after entering the weekend among the five players who could clinch the Cup with a win. Late charges from Webb Simpson, Hunter Mahan and Luke Donald were too little, too late on a day that belonged to Brandt.

Final FedExCup Standings
1. Brandt Snedeker

2. Rory McIlroy

3. Tiger Woods

4. Nick Watney

5. Phil Mickelson

6. Justin Rose

7. Louis Oosthuizen

8. Dustin Johnson

9. Luke Donald

10. Lee Westwood

Teaser:
<br />
Post date: Sunday, September 23, 2012 - 17:52
All taxonomy terms: NFL
Path: /nfl/nfl-quick-hits-titans-big-plays-save-season
Body:

The late Steve Sabol must have wanted to make his exit accompanied by a well-stocked highlight reel, because Week 3 produced enough fantastic finishes to fill an NFL Films documentary.

Let's start with the most amazing NFL game in my memory (and I'm pretty old): Tennessee's 44-41 overtime win over Detroit, which featured enough answered prayers to astound Mother Teresa.

With the season hanging in the balance, with the good ship Titan cruising toward an iceberg, the Titans picked the perfect time to unleash their arsenal of big plays. The only thing missing was the Stanford band as the Titans confounded the Lions with the most amazing onslaught of game-changers that we've seen in this young NFL season. The Titans scored their five touchdowns on plays of 65, 61, 105, 71 and 72 yards, in every way imaginable:

• A home run-throwback punt return, a la the Music City Miracle, with Tommie Campbell playing the role of Kevin Dyson.

• A 61-yard Jake Locker-to-Jared Cook scoring strike, with Cook doing an admirable Jerry Rice impression on his catch and run.

• Biggest of all, a 105-yard kickoff return by electric return man Darius Reynaud, when the Lions had climbed back to take a 27-20 lead.

• A 71-yard touchdown pass from Locker to Nate Washington, whose acrobatic grab is the early leader for catch of the season.

• Finally, an Alterraun Verner strip of Brandon Pettigrew and subsequent 72-yard return for a touchdown.

The Titans needed every one of those big plays, because the Lions countered with a game-tying Hail Mary from backup Shaun Hill to Titus Young on the final play of regulation that followed a successful onside kick. That's right — the Lions scored two touchdowns in the final 18 seconds of regulation, both of them thrown by Matthew Stafford's backup. Hill, who finished his limited work with a perfect 158.3 passer rating.

Undaunted, the Titans put together a field goal drive in OT to end a game that featured 85 points, 950 yards of offense and touchdowns via offense, defense, special teams and answered prayer. The Lions answered with a 70-yard drive of their own, but coach Jim Schwartz didn't trot out 90-year-old kicker Jason Hanson when the drive stalled, and Hill was stuffed by Jurrrell Casey on a fourth-down quarterback sneak at the Titans 10 to end the four-hour track meet.

Only an inept crew of scab refs prevents this game from going right into the time capsule. And to think — much of the crowd had left after Verner's TD, meaning that they missed the last 17 points of this instant classic.

Elsewhere...

• Two other games went to overtime — Jets-Dolphins and Chiefs-Saints. Kansas City stunned the reeling Saints in the Superdome, scoring the game's final 21 points on a 91-yard Jamaal Charles run, a safety and four Ryan Succop field goals, the last one a 31-yard game-winner. The Jets overcame some laughable quarterback play to beat the Dolphins 23-20. Neither starting quarterback — New York's Mark Sanchez or Miami's Ryan Tannehill — touched 50 percent completions.

The Vikings stunned the NFL's best team, drilling the 49ers 24-13 behind a nearly flawless performance from Christian Ponder, who threw for two TDs and scored another on a spectacular 23-yard scramble.

Greg Schiano tried to blow up another kneel-down, and once again, the ploy failed. But Schiano's continuing refusal to play by this unwritten rule is somehow refreshing.

The Bears and Rams went against type for the day, displaying offensive ineptitude and defensive dominance in a 23-6 Bears win. Jay Cutler and Sam Bradford combined for 0 TD passes and two interceptions.

• Andy Dalton outdueled Robert Griffin III as the Bengals beat the Redskins 38-31. Dalton threw for 328 yards and three scores.

Teaser:
Post date: Sunday, September 23, 2012 - 16:00
Path: /college-football/college-football-week-4-recap-florida-state-notre-dame-make-statements-0
Body:

Stop if you’re heard this: Florida State and Notre Dame are back.

Though they’ve fooled us before, the Seminoles and Fighting Irish sure looked like potential title contenders as they emerged as the big winners in a busy slate of primetime games Saturday.

Florida State overwhelmed Clemson on both sides of the ball (and got a huge kickoff return) in the final quarter and a half to walk away with a convincing 49-37 win. Meanwhile, Notre Dame did just enough on offense to defeat Michigan 13-6, but more importantly, the Irish conquered their Denard Robinson problem.

And while the college football world in recent years has been premature to hype Florida State and Notre Dame, its been slow to buy into Kansas State. The Wildcats erased doubts that last season’s 10-win effort was a fluke by defeating Oklahoma 24-19 in Norman, avenging a 41-point blowout from last season.

THREE AND OUT: WEEK 4 RECAP

MOVING THE CHAINS

Florida State. The most convincing sign Florida State’s national title aspirations are for real came in the final 21 minutes or so against Clemson. The Tigers took a 10-point lead in the third quarter as the Tigers moved the ball at will, aided by two Florida State missed field goals. Instead of folding in an ACC game as has happened in the past, the Seminoles defense clamped down with four three-and-outs and an interception. Quarterback EJ Manuel masterfully led two touchdown drives to finish the day 27-of-35 for 380 yards with two touchdowns. Manuel also added 102 rushing yards to shatter a career high in total offense with 482 yards.

Notre Dame’s defense. Two Michigan teams. No touchdowns. A week after holding Michigan State to no offensive touchdowns, the Notre Dame defense did the same against Denard Robinson. The Michigan quarterback was nothing close the playmaker he had been the last two seasons against Notre Dame. Robinson threw four interceptions in the first half (running back Vincent Smith added a fifth pick in the first two quarters). Robinson accounted for only 228 yards of total offense -- just one more yard than he had against Alabama.

Connor Shaw, South Carolina. After missing the Sept. 8 game against East Carolina and leaving early last week against UAB, the Gamecocks quarterback proved all is well with his ailing throwing shoulder. Shaw missed his first pass and didn’t slip up after that, completing 20 consecutive attempts to finish the game. Shaw passed for 249 yards and two touchdowns, but Steve Spurrier figured out Marcus Lattimore should be the one getting the ball at the goal line. After Shaw failed to run the ball into the end zone on third and fourth down from the 1, Spurrier called Lattimore’s number in the next two plays from the goal line.

FALSE STARTS
Oklahoma.
The Sooners have looked nothing like a national title contender in a too-close-for-comfort win over UTEP in the opener and then in a 24-19 loss to Kansas State at home. Now, Oklahoma should wonder if its even a Big 12 title contender. Turnovers at both goal lines doomed the Sooners in the loss, first on a Landry Jones fumble at his own 1-yard line then a Blake Bell fumble on the Wildcats’ goal line in the second quarter. After falling behind in the third quarter, Kansas State responded with two methodical drives in the second half to seal the win.

Arizona’s offense. Not that it was a total shock, but Arizona is not ready to contend in the Pac-12 in the first season under coach Rich Rodriguez. The same team that accounted for at least 500 yards in all three games this season and more than 600 yards in two of those, was shutout by Oregon in a 49-0 loss. Arizona kept it close with a 13-0 halftime score, but like so many Oregon games go, the Ducks overwhelmed the Wildcats in the second half. Arizona threw four interceptions, two returned for touchdowns, and the Wildcats rushed for only 89 yards on 32 carries. For Oregon, the four picks were an encouraging sign for a defense playing without star safety John Boyett.

Primetime overload. The drift of college football out of the afternoon and early evening hit critical mass with all of the week’s best games kicking off after 7 p.m. Eastern. All four games between ranked teams (Clemson-Florida State, Kansas State-Oklahoma, Michigan-Notre Dame and Arizona-Oregon) were in late time slots not to mention three more games involving ranked teams (LSU, Georgia, USC). The most nationally relevant games before primetime included Oregon State-UCLA and Missouri-South Carolina. Even ESPN College Game Day host Chris Fowler weighed in:
 

HEISMAN MOVERS
Collin Klein, Kansas State. The Wildcats quarterback turned in a vintage performance, completing 13 of 21 passes for 149 yards while rushing for 79 yards and a touchdown. One of the key plays was a 13-yard pass on third-and-11 late in the fourth quarter to prevent Oklahoma from getting the ball back. Running back John Hubert had his own moments with 23 carries for 130 yards and a touchdown.

Johnathan Franklin, UCLA. In playing only two games, Oregon State has derailed two running backs’ Heisman bids. After limiting Wisconsin’s Montee Ball to 61 yards on 15 carries, the Beavers held Franklin to 45 yards on 12 carries in a 27-20 win. The nation’s leading rusher through the first three weeks didn’t have a run longer than 13 yards, and that didn’t happen in the final minute of the third quarter.

Manti Te’o, Notre Dame. The top defensive player on a team that stifled Michigan State a week ago was even better against Michigan. Te’o, who didn’t have an interception in his career before this season, picked off two passes against Michigan and finished with eight tackles against the Wolverines. Te’o helped keep Michigan in check as the Wolverines averaged only 3.9 yards per carry.

BURIED ON THE DEPTH CHART
Rex Burkhead returns. While other Big Ten teams were struggling with MAC programs, Nebraska made easy work of Idaho State. The most important development, though, was the return of running back Rex Burkhead, who missed the last two games with a sprained knee. Against Idaho State, Burkhead needed only eight carries to rush for 119 yards and two touchdowns.

Stefphon Jefferson, Nevada. The Wolf Pack running back scored seven touchdowns (six rushing, one receiving) in a 69-24 win over Hawaii to tie an FBS record for touchdowns against a major-college opponent. Jefferson’s seven touchdowns matched Ole Miss’ Arnold “Showboat” Boykin against Mississippi State in 1951, San Diego State’s Marshall Faulk against Pacific in 1991 and Oklahoma State’s Rashaun Woods against SMU in 2003.

Louisiana Tech. The Bulldogs’ bid at being the top team outside of the BCS automatic-qualifying conferences got a major boost with a 52-24 win over Illinois on Saturday. Despite a brief return by quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase, Illinois turned the ball over six times in a Louisiana Tech rout. Louisiana Tech, Ohio and Texas-San Antonio are the only non-Big Six teams without a loss.

STAT WATCH

THREE SCORES THAT MAKE YOU GO ‘HUH?’
LSU 12, Auburn 10
Ball State 31, USF 27
Central Michigan 32, Iowa 31
THREE ROAD WINS BY RUTGERS
Tulane
USF
Arkansas

192:55. Alabama’s bid for three consecutive shutouts ended with 2:49 remaining in the fourth quarter against FAU when Owls tight end Alex Deleon caught a 6-yard touchdown pass. The scoreless streak lasted nearly 13 quarters (192 minutes, 55 seconds).

4. On Saturday, MAC teams defeated four opponents from the six power conferences: Western Michigan defeated Connecticut 30-24, Ball State defeated USF 31-27, Northern Illinois defeated Kansas 30-23, and Central Michigan defeated Iowa 32-31. In a single day, the MAC topped its win total against the six major conferences (three) from each of the last three seasons. With Ball State defeating Indiana and Ohio defeating Penn State already this season, the MAC has its most wins over the Big Six conferences since 2008.

24. New Mexico ended its 24-game road losing streak, the longest such streak in the nation, with a 27-14 win over New Mexico State. At 2-1, first-year coach Bob Davie matched his predecessor’s win total before the end of September. Previous New Mexico coach Mike Locksley went 2-26 before he was fired midway through his third season.

THREE STAR RECEIVERS
Tavon Austin, West Virginia. Overcoming the Heisman buzz around Geno Smith may be impossible, but Austin put on a show against Maryland. He had little trouble getting open with 13 catches for 179 yards and three touchdowns. No one else for West Virginia had more than six receptions. Smith, meanwhile, was as sharp as the Mountaineers have come to expect, yet he still passed for 338 yards with three touchdowns. After throwing nine incomplete passes in the first two games, he was 30 of 43 against the Terps.

Cobi Hamilton, Arkansas. A record day from Arkansas’ top receiver probably won’t console the Razorbacks from their three consecutive losses, but it was a record day nonetheless. Hamilton set a school and SEC record with 303 receiving yards in the loss to Rutgers, breaking the conference record belonging to LSU receiver Josh Reed in 2001. Hamilton is the only the second 300-yard receiver since 2007.

Ace Sanders, South Carolina. The South Carolina receiver had only one catch against Missouri -- though it was a 23-yard touchdown by his fingertips. But Sanders may have had the highlight of the day with his punt return for a touchdown against the Tigers where he bumped into two of his own blockers and then a Missouri player draped over him.

THREE QUARTERBACKS WHO DUG DEEP
Tommy Rees, Notre Dame. For the second time this season, Brian Kelly yanked Everett Golson for maligned former starting quarterback Tommy Rees. The junior again answered the call by limiting mistakes. After Golson threw two first-half interceptions, Rees went 8-of-11 for 115 yards, including a 38-yard pass to tight end Tyler Eifert on third-and-4 in the fourth quarter to ensure Michigan wouldn’t get the ball back in the final minutes of the fourth quarter.

Stephen Morris, Miami. The Hurricanes may have found a key moment on which to build, partly on the arm of Stephen Morris. After sprinting to a 19-0 lead on Georgia Tech, Miami allowed 36 consecutive points. Miami bounced back with 23 unanswered points, capped with a 25-yard touchdown run from Mike James to win 42-36 in overtime. Miami’s offense wasn’t solely dependent on freshman Duke Johnson thanks to career days from Morris and James (113 yards from scrimmage, four touchdowns). Morris’ 436 passing yards was the fifth-most in school history.

Jordan Webb, Colorado. A week after Colorado appeared to take its place among the worst major conference teams of the BCS era, the Buffaloes showed resolve by scoring three touchdowns in the fourth quarter to defeat Washington State 35-34 after trailing by 17. Jordan Webb rushed for a 4-yard score on fourth down to seal the win. Webb finished 29 of 52 for 345 yards with two touchdowns and an interception, plus the game-winning touchdown run.

THREE SIGNS THE BIG TEN IS IN TROUBLE

DANG, THEY’RE GOOD
Florida State
Kansas State
Oregon
DANG, THEY’RE BAD
Kansas
Kentucky
Washington State
BEST GAMES NEXT WEEK
Stanford at Washington (Thu.)
Baylor at West Virginia
Texas at Oklahoma State

The Big Ten out of the title race. Michigan earned preseason top-10 rankings this season thanks to wins in their final four games in 2011, including Ohio State, Nebraska and Virginia Tech. The hype was short-lived as Michigan fell out of the national title picture before the end of September. If not for the weakness of the rest of the Big Ten, Michigan’s BCS hopes would be in doubt, too. Coupled with Michigan State's loss to Notre Dame a week ago and Nebraska's loss to UCLA earlier this month, the Big Ten is likely out of the BCS title race. Minnesota and Northwestern are the only undefeated teams in the conference.

Ohio State struggles at home. Though Ohio State has yet to lose, the Buckeyes haven’t looked like the Big Ten’s best the last two weeks, even taking into account the postseason ban. A week after Cal kept pace in a 35-28 Ohio State win, the Buckeyes played a close game with UAB for most of the day Saturday. Ohio State led 21-15 in the fourth quarter before taking control on a Braxton Miller touchdown run.

The middle of the Big Ten can’t keep up with the MAC and WAC. With a loss to MAC also-ran Central Michigan, Iowa hasn’t won consecutive games in nearly a year. Later in the day, Michigan State spent a little too much time letting Eastern Michigan hang around before the Spartans won 23-7. And Illinois never had a chance in a 52-24 loss to Louisiana Tech. Unfortunately for the Big Ten, the league’s best performances this week came against Big East non-contenders with Minnesota defeating Syracuse and Penn State defeating Temple.

By David Fox

@DavidFox615

Teaser:
<p> College Football Week 4 Recap: Florida State, Notre Dame make statements</p>
Post date: Sunday, September 23, 2012 - 11:20
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/sit-tom-brady-adrian-peterson-and-larry-fitzgerald-week-3
Body:

There are a few big name fantasy football players that will likely be duds this week. We examine three players that you should consider sitting and looking to your backups.

Tom Brady, New England Patriots, QB vs. Baltimore Ravens

Of course this sit depends on if you drafted a quality backup quarterback to go with what was likely a very early selection of Tom Brady. 

Here’s what he’s done in 2012: 552 yards passing with three scores and one interception — or 19 fantasy points per game against Tennessee and Arizona.

Here’s his history against the Ravens in four meetings since 2009: 235.8 yards passing per game with four touchdowns and seven interceptions — or 11.9 fantasy points per game. 

The Ravens allowed Michael Vick to throw for 371 with a passing TD and rushing TD last week. That 371 is the most allowed since Andy Dalton threw for 373 in Week 11 last season. In the seven games in between, Baltimore has allowed an average of 191.1 yards passing with four touchdowns and five interceptions.

Until Vick last week, the Ravens had a 19-game streak of not allowing a QB to have a multi-touchdown game.

Add in a road game, no Aaron Hernandez, not in sync with Brandon Lloyd yet and whatever’s going on with Wes Welker, and if you have a better matchup than Brady’s go with it.

 

Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings, RB vs. San Francisco 49ers

In his “snap-limited” debut against Jacksonville in Week 1, Adrian Peterson carried 17 times for 84 yards and two scores. We thought he was a safe start in Week 2 against a run defense ranked 29th last year, and he posted a 16-for-60 day with no scores. 

Now he gets the NFL’s top-ranked rush defense from a year ago and currently ranked sixth at 63.5 yards allowed per game. 

Just a quick history on what the 49ers have done to opposing running backs in the last 18 regular-season games: Only one back has gained over 100 yards, only two backs have gained over 75 yards. Those backs are Marshawn Lynch and Cadillac Williams, who also had the only two TDs San Francisco allowed running backs to score on the ground last season. 

And now a quick history on what Peterson has done against top-five rush defenses the last three seasons: There have been seven such games. Peterson averaged 66 yards rushing per game with three scores. The saving grace has been his 13 catches for 167 yards. That comes out to 13.4 fantasy points on average in PPR league, 11.6 in non-PPR.

I would take 13.4 or 11.6 from Peterson in a heartbeat, but that is averaging the top five rush defenses over the last three years. This is the 49ers, who have only allowed double-digit fantasy days four times the last 18 regular-season games and that was thanks in large part to a combined 28 catches for 236 yards.

Play AP at your own risk. 

 

Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals, WR vs. Philadelphia Eagles

Larry Fitzgerald may have lit Philadelphia up the last time he played the Eagles, but a couple of things have changed. Kevin Kolb is Arizona’s quarterback and Philadelphia’s pass defense has become much stingier. 

Since Tom Brady threw for three scores and 361 yards against Philadelphia in Week 12 last season, the Eagles have allowed just seven touchdown passes in the last seven games. Yes, they faced the likes of Tarvaris Jackson, Matt Moore, J.P. Losman, Mark Sanchez, Stephen McGee and Red Grossman to end last season and Brandon Weeden and Joe Flacco to start this season. But where do you rank Kevin Kolb among that list of quarterbacks?

And no receiver has eclipsed six catches of 62 yards since Week 12 (Dez Bryant) against Philly.

Fitzgerald torched the Eagles last season to the tune of seven catches on 13 targets for 146 yards and two scores. But that was via the arm of John Skelton, who threw for 315 yards and three scores on 40 attempts.

Kolb and Fitzgerald have played in 10 games together and have two touchdowns to show for it.  

Don’t let the reason of “what better option do you have” sway you from not starting a guy with the better matchup. You always hear “that’s why you drafted them this high,” well it’s also why you draft other players. Use them.

— By Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

Teaser:
<p> Three big names to consider benching in Week 3</p>
Post date: Sunday, September 23, 2012 - 07:45
All taxonomy terms: News
Path: /news/injury-updates-week-3-steven-jackson-greg-jennings-denarius-moore
Body:

There are a few key fantasy contributors that have had a number of injury question marks surrounding their playing status leading up to Week 3 of the 2012 NFL season. Here’s a little bit about these three and what you should consider.

Steven Jackson, St. Louis RB vs. Chicago Bears

It’s been injuries and boom or bust with St. Louis Rams running back Steven Jackson the last four years. And here we are in Week 3 dealing with the same issue. 

Jackson (groin) missed all week of practice leading up to today’s game against the Chicago Bears and their ninth-ranked rush defense (84.5 ypg). 

The older he gets and the more the injuries pile up it becomes too difficult to trust Jackson. In 60 games since the start of the 2008 season he has had 23 games of 90-plus yards rushing with 21 total touchdowns. The problem is: you can never get a good feel of when such a game may occur.

No practice. This matchup. No thanks. Look elsewhere.

 

Greg Jennings, Green Bay WR vs. Seattle

Greg Jennings missed the Week 2 Thursday night contest against Chicago with a groin injury. He is questionable for Monday’s game at Seattle but says he should be ready. Jennings has been able to have as much rest as a schedule will allow — save for bye weeks — and it would be a big risk to hope for Jennings to help you close out the Week 3 slate.

It could be a tough matchup for any Green Bay receiver, particularly if the Packers’ offense continues to look as out of sync as it has through two games. The San Francisco and Chicago defenses certainly helped in that regard and Seattle should be able to continue the tough stretch. 

The Seahawks have surrendered just 21 completions for 260 yards and two scores through two weeks — or 48.5 total fantasy points to seven receivers in PPR formats. 

 

Denarius Moore, Oakland, WR vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

Looking for a flier in Week 3 that should become a weekly stud very soon? Look no further than Denarius Moore. 

The Raiders play host to Pittsburgh today and Oakland’s defense has not shown the ability to slow anyone down — 57 points and 710 yards allowed the first two weeks. 

Oakland quarterback Carson Palmer is third in attempts (94) and fourth in yards (670) this season. 

Moore returned from a groin injury last week and saw eight targets for three catches and 67 yards before cramps in the South Florida heat sidelined him. Last year’s top receiver, Darrius Heyward-Bey, also had eight targets, pulling down four for 41 yards against Miami.

In seven games together last season, Palmer targeted Moore 46 times for 20 catches, 410 yards and three scores. 

— By Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

Teaser:
Post date: Sunday, September 23, 2012 - 07:25
Path: /fantasy/injury-updates-week-3-ryan-mathews-pierre-garcon-heath-miller
Body:

There are a few key fantasy contributors that have had a number of injury question marks surrounding their playing status leading up to Week 3 of the 2012 NFL season. Here’s a little bit about these three and what you should consider.

Ryan MathewsRyan Mathews, RB, San Diego vs. Atlanta Falcons

Today should be the debut for San Diego Chargers running back Ryan Mathews. His first 2012 debut lasted just one play as he broke his clavicle on his first preseason carry. 

He gets an Atlanta Falcons defense that has already allowed two 85-yard-plus rushers and three scores on the ground to running backs. Jamaal Charles ran for 87 yards in the opener. Willis McGahee ran for 113 yards and two scores last week. Atlanta has also given up nine catches for 60 yards to running backs. 

In a game where the Chargers will want to try and limit the snaps Matt Ryan, Roddy White and Julio Jones get to work with, Mathews could help that along. He also could be eased back into his role as the team’s lead ball carrier. 

It’s hard to gauge what Mathews can do in his return when the already injury-prone back was hurt on his first preseason play. But the matchup, the need for him in this offense makes him at least an RB2 and certainly a flex play.

 

Pierre Garcon, WR, Washington Redskins vs. Cincinnati Bengals

We want more of those 88-yard touchdown passes — screen pass or not. It is evident Robert Griffin III gets to air it out just as he did at Baylor and Garcon, the big free-agent acquisition for the team, is the one that will benefit the most on the other end of those deep passes. 

However, he injured his foot in the opener against New Orleans — on that 88-yard TD. He missed last week against St. Louis and is not expected to play today against a pass-friendly Cincinnati Bengals defense.

Garcon was limited in practice on Friday and coach Mike Shanahan said earlier in the week the injury is “nagging a little bit more than I thought it would.” Even if Garcon were to miraculously be active, it is not suggested you start him. You likely got him in the later rounds, so plug in one of your higher picks.

 

Heath Miller, TE, Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Oakland Raiders

Heath Miller (ribs) returned to practice Friday and has a pretty good matchup against the host Oakland Raiders today.

Miller, who has been used more as a blocker in previous years, is actually a top-10 tight end currently. And he joins a top-10 list that currently includes Martellus Bennett, Scott Chandler, Dante Rosario and Dennis Pitta.

Miller has seven catches for 69 yards and two scores on 10 targets. He gets an Oakland team that held Antonio Gates to four catches for 43 yards in Week 1, gave up a TD to Anthony Fasano last week and surrendered 65 catches for 826 yards and seven scores to the position last season — ninth-worst in fantasy.

Teaser:
Post date: Sunday, September 23, 2012 - 07:10
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-starts-week-3-andy-dalton-benjarvus-green-ellis-dennis-pitta
Body:

There are a few key fantasy football players that look to earn big fantasy points in Week 3. Here are three players that are must starts.

Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals QB vs. Washington Redskins

Andy Dalton, QB

Andy Dalton has a few things working in his favor as a solid fantasy play for Week 3. 

The Cincinnati quarterback gets a Washington defense that has been friendly to quarterbacks through two games this season, lost two of its best pass rushers to season-ending injuries a week ago and has his own defense that has been fantasy-QB friendly as well.

Linebacker Brian Orakpo (torn pectoral) and defensive end Adam Carriker (knee) are out for the season — 15.5 sacks gone from the last 18 games — and that should mean more time for Dalton, A.J. Green, Andrew Hawkins and Co. 

The Redskins have already allowed 63 points, 800-plus yards, two 300-plus-yards passers and six touchdown passes to begin the 2012 campaign. New Orleans’ Drew Brees threw for 339 and three scores in a comeback effort that fell short (40-32) and St. Louis’ Sam Bradford threw for 310 and three scores in a 31-28 Rams win.

Last season, the Redskins surrendered nine passing days of at least 250 yards and allowed multi-touchdown pass games seven times. Dalton, as a rookie a year ago, had five games of 250-plus and six multi-TD games. He is coming off a 318-yard, three-TD performance against Cleveland.

Washington’s defense is not the only reason to give Dalton a look; his own defense helps as well. 

The Bengals have allowed nearly 300 yards passing and two touchdowns to opposing quarterbacks in each of the first two games (Joe Flacco 299-2 and Brandon Weeded 322-2).

 

BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Cincinnati Bengals RB vs. Washington Redskins

BenJarvus Green-Ellis is clearly the workhorse in Cincinnati, as expected. He has produced probably above expectations thus far in regards to fantasy. The Law Firm has 39 carries for 166 yards and a score and four catches for 34 yards — or 15 fantasy points per game in a PPR. 

Now he gets a Washington team that was friendly to running backs last week, was friendly to running backs a year ago and, as mentioned above, just lost Orakpo and Carriker for the season.

The Redskins jumped out quickly on New Orleans in the opener and only saw 10 rushing attempts for 32 yards. Darren Sproles did get five catches, 35 yards and a score out of the backfield. Last week’s game against St. Louis was a little more traditional, and the Rams rushed 24 times for 141 yards and had two catches for 19 yards. 

Washington was 15th against fantasy running backs last season, allowing eight backs to rush for at least 88 yards. The Redskins were 21st in rushing TDs allowed (12).

Ellis should continue his run as a solid RB2, certainly a flex, for a Bengals team that is defensively challenged itself and might want to run the ball to slow Robert Griffin III and the Redskins’ offense.

 

Dennis Pitta, Baltimore Ravens, TE vs. New England Patriots

There are a number of factors in favor of starting Dennis Pitta against the Patriots. First, he is quarterback Joe Flacco’s favorite target this season and has been productive with those numbers. Second, New England has seen Tennessee’s Jared Cook and Arizona’s Todd Heap already this season and allowed a combined nine catches on 15 targets for 126 yards from the two tight ends. 

Pitta has 13 catches for 138 yards and a score on 24 targets in 2012 — 15 more targets than Anquan Boldin and 16 more targets than Torrey Smith.

Pitta did go 5-for-41 with a score against New England in the AFC Championship Game last season.

— By Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

Teaser:
<p> Must start players for Week 3</p>
Post date: Sunday, September 23, 2012 - 07:00
Path: /fantasy/injury-updates-week-3-jamaal-charles-antonio-gates-kenny-britt
Body:

There are a few key fantasy contributors that have had a number of injury question marks surrounding their playing status leading up to Week 3 of the 2012 NFL season. Here’s a little bit about these three and what you should consider.

Antonio Gates, TE, San Diego vs. Atlanta Falcons

A late scratch against Tennessee last week, Antonio Gates (ribs) has practiced fully this week and should be good to go against high-powered Atlanta.

It was too bad Gates missed last week’s home game against a Titans team that has consistently been friendly to opposing tight ends and did not prove to be any different last week. Dante Rosario stepped in and scored three touchdowns.

 The Falcons have allowed nine catches, 102 yards and a score on just 14 targets to tight ends this season. Atlanta was generous to elite fantasy tight ends Jimmy Graham (11-for-124 and two scores in two meetings) and Jermichael Finley (4-for-67) last season.

 

Kenny Britt, WR, Tennessee vs. Detroit Lions

Kenny Britt returned to action last week in San Diego after a one-game suspension and a knee injury that knocked him out in Week 3 of the 2011 season. He was expected to be on a limited play count and he was. The receiver was targeted just twice, catching one ball for five yards on 19 snaps. 

Detroit is 10th best against fantasy receivers through two games, having faced St. Louis and San Francisco. Those are not two of the premier passing offenses in the NFL, but neither are the Tennessee Titans.

You would have to figure Tennessee will be down early in this game. The Titans have little to offer in defending Calvin Johnson or Brandon Pettigrew. It should mean more time for Britt to get garbage-time production from Jake Locker. 

Britt was not limited this week and will be needed to help keep a struggling Titans squad in the game. The matchup could not be any better against a thin Lions secondary. The concern is obviously snap count for Britt and lack of work with Locker. 

Britt is the ultimate flier this week. Massive upside on an offense that is as down as it gets.

 

Jamaal Charles

Jamaal Charles, RB, Kansas City vs. New Orleans Saints

Jamaal Charles (knee) tweaked his surgically repaired knee in a blowout loss to Buffalo last week and said he still could have played. 

This week, the inept Chiefs get the Saints generous defense in New Orleans. The question will be whether the Kansas City defense can hang on long enough to keep the running game in play for Charles.

New Orleans allowed rookie Alfred Morris to run for 98 yards and two scores on 28 attempts in the opener and the Carolina duo of DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart to run for 120 yards and a TD on 25 carries. 

It is there for the taking for Charles to have a good day and show he is back from the knee injury. But the taking is also there for the Saints offense to quickly make the Chiefs’ use of a running game futile.

 

 

— By Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

Teaser:
Post date: Sunday, September 23, 2012 - 06:30
Path: /nfl/new-england-patriots-vs-baltimore-ravens-preview-and-prediction
Body:

Two elite teams will be looking to avoid a 1-2 start when the Baltimore Ravens host the New England Patriots tonight at 8:20 p.m. EST on NBC. Much will be made about the heartbreaking nature of Baltimore’s AFC Championship Game loss in New England last season, but the reality is that both of these squads with Super Bowl aspirations need to rebound from excruciating losses last week. The Ravens blew a 10-pont halftime lead in Philadelphia and lost 24-23 to the Eagles, while Patriots suffered a rare 20-18 home defeat to the Arizona Cardinals.

When the Baltimore Ravens have the ball:
It all starts with tailback Ray Rice, who has gone over 2,000 total yards in two of the last three seasons. The diminutive but powerful runner is off to another good start, totaling 167 yards on the ground and ranking second on the team with nine receptions. Quarterback Joe Flacco has found a new favorite target in tight end Dennis Pitta, who leads Baltimore with 13 catches. To beat New England, however, Flacco will need to involve receivers Torrey Smith and Anquan Boldin more in the offense.

The Patriots defense struggled for much of last season, but rookies Chandler Jones and Dont’a Hightower have already paid dividends this year. New England was able to contain Rice (67 rush yards and just one catch) in last season’s 23-20 AFC title tilt victory, and that will be a key again tonight. Boldin and Smith can be effective if Flacco has time to throw, so the Patriots will look for another three-sack performance like they had last January.

When the New England Patriots have the ball:
Quarterback Tom Brady was rattled in week’s loss to the Cardinals, who had four sacks and an interception. One factor that will help protect Brady is a strong running game, and second-year back Stevan Ridley has 196 yards and a score in two games this season. Receiver Wes Welker only has eight catches (low by his standards) this year, and it will be interesting to see if he is a bigger focus for the offense against Baltimore. With tight end Aaron Hernandez out, the Patriots signed former first-round pick Kellen Winslow Jr. this week.

After a solid Week 1 performance against the Bengals, the Ravens defense allowed 17 second-half points in the Eagles loss. Ray Lewis and company will need to pressure Brady, and Baltimore has compiled six sacks this season. While it’s easy to concentrate on all of New England’s pass catchers, the Ravens must also contain Ridley. Baltimore has allowed 258 rushing in two games, and that must improve versus the Patriots.

Key Factor:
The Ravens allowed an alarming 486 total yards in Philadelphia, the highest total their defense had given up since 1998. They simply must be better against New England’s usually prolific offense. Baltimore’s ability to make Brady uncomfortable in the pocket should decide this game. The Patriots almost never lose twice in row under coach Bill Belichick, so we’ll take New England in a tight thriller.

Prediction:
Patriots 27 Ravens 23


---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)
 

Teaser:
<p> New England Patriots vs. Baltimore Ravens Preview and Prediction</p>
Post date: Sunday, September 23, 2012 - 06:14

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