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All taxonomy terms: Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/week-8-injury-updates-daniel-thomas-maurice-jones-drew-rashad-jennings-jeremy-kerley
Body:

Here we are — the halfway point of the NFL season and six weeks away from the start of the fantasy postseason for many. Injuries are making lineup decisions harder — sometimes easier in the committee world of some positions — and bye weeks leave us scrambling for the best start at some positions. Here are a few updates to hopefully help you make that push toward the fantasy postseason.

Daniel Thomas, RB, Miami Dolphins vs. New York Jets
Daniel Thomas is listed as probable and set to return from his second concussion of the season. The Dolphins’ running game has produced seven double-digit PPR days in six games and Thomas has had two of those despite missing two games. The Jets are ranked 23rd against fantasy running backs, having allowed seven rushing scores to the position — the fifth most. The Jets are the best in the league against fantasy receivers. So there should be plenty of opportunities for Thomas to help Reggie Bush in the Dolphins’ backfield. Thomas is a low-end flex at best, but could be a good bye-week fill in as he works back into the lineup.

Maurice Jones-DrewMaurice Jones-Drew, Rashad Jennings, RBs, Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Green Bay Packers
Jacksonville is ranked 28th against fantasy RBs, 19th against fantasy QBs and 18th against fantasy WRs. There is nothing suggesting that the Jaguars will be able to hang with the host Packers today, particularly with the way the Green Bay offense has caught fire as of late. So what will the effectiveness of the Jacksonville running game be? It will be Rashad Jennings who gets the chance to find out as Maurice Jones-Drew is on the shelf for the foreseeable future with a sprained foot. MJD had four double-digit days in PPR leagues and three of those came in defeats. Jennings stepped in for MJD last week and carries 21 times for 44 yards and one score and added seven catches on nine targets for 58 yards. It is those targets and the fact that Jennings is all the Jags have that makes him a decent RB2 start this week.

Jeremy Kerley, WR, New York Jets vs. Miami Dolphins
Stephen Hill is the deep threat and will likely get the scores but it is Jeremy Kerley moving the chains. He collected a season-high 11 targets in last week’s loss to New England. Kerley caught seven of them for 120 yards. Now the Jets take on a Dolphins team that is ranked eighth against fantasy running backs but 26th against fantasy receivers in PPR formats.  Miami’s defense has surrendered just one touchdown to a running back (receiving) and no RB has reached the 80-yard mark on the ground this season. Meanwhile, the Dolphins allow 14.6 catches and 187.3 yards on 26.5 targets per game to the receiver position.
— By Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

Teaser:
<p> Week 8 Injury Updates: Daniel Thomas, Maurice Jones-Drew, Rashad Jennings, Jeremy Kerley</p>
Post date: Sunday, October 28, 2012 - 07:02
Path: /fantasy/week-8-injury-updates-trent-richardson-donald-brown-demarco-murray-felix-jones-phillip-tanne
Body:

Here we are — the halfway point of the NFL season and six weeks away from the start of the fantasy postseason for many. Injuries are making lineup decisions harder — sometimes easier in the committee world of some positions — and bye weeks leave us scrambling for the best start at some positions. Here are a few updates to hopefully help you make that push toward the fantasy postseason.

Trent RichardsonTrent Richardson, Montario Hardesty, RBs, Cleveland Browns vs. San Diego Chargers
Eight carries against Indianapolis last week and the first thing we hear regarding Trent Richardson's ribs is "the injury is much bigger than what folks think it is." He will obviously have to play through the pain but as long as Cleveland keeps trotting him out there it seems unlikely he can be started with much confidence in fantasy until there is some marked improvement. He is listed as questionable for the Chargers game and will be a game-time decision. His backup, Montario Hardesty (knee) is listed as probable and is expected to play. San Diego has not allowed a running back to score since Jamaal Charles had two in Week 4 and they have only allowed four scores altogether to the position and four double-digit days in PPR to the position — none since Charles in Week 4.

 

 

Vick BallardDonald Brown, Vick Ballard, RBs, Indianapolis Colts vs. Tennessee Titans
Donald Brown looks to be back in the mix after being on the sidelines since knee surgery around Week 4. He is a game-time decision for today's early tilt at Tennessee. He practiced in full on Thursday and Friday and looks like he might get back on the field after missing two games. Vick Ballard bounced back from a poor outing at the Jets - as did the rest of the Colts — when he ran for 84 yards on 20 carries and caught a pass for 19 yards. Delone Carter had 11 carries for 41 yards. Will Brown be eased back into the 11-carry role or take on the 20-carry role? Brown had games of 16, 18 and 17 carries before the injury. Tennessee allowed Buffalo's Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller to account for 120 total yards and a touchdown and 102 total yards last week have been relatively atrocious against the run. Brown did have a breakout game the last time he faced the Titans (16-161-1) and scored in both meetings last season. Ballard could still have a role as either the lead back as Brown's worked in or as a goal line threat against a Tennessee defense that should allow the Colts plenty of opportunities.

DeMarco Murray, Felix Jones, Phillip Tanner, RBs, Dallas Cowboys vs. New York Giants
First it was DeMarco Murray going down, then Felix Jones was ineffective in returning to the starting role and could not stay healthy himself. Murray is out for today's late game against the Giants and Jones is questionable. Phillip Tanner is an option, but we are talking about the Cowboys' third back on a team that has been far from effective on the ground consistently this season. Starting center Phil Costa (ankle) being very doubtful is not a help to the run game, either. It is worth noting that Jones totaled 137 yards on 22 touches in the first meeting with the Giants last year and 77 yards on 18 touches in the Week 17 meeting.
— By Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

Teaser:
<p> Week 8 Injury Updates: Trent Richardson, Donald Brown, DeMarco Murray, Felix Jones, Phillip Tanner</p>
Post date: Sunday, October 28, 2012 - 07:02
Path: /fantasy/week-8-injury-updates-pierre-garcon-leonard-hankerson-santana-moss-jay-cutler-ahmad-bradshaw
Body:

Here we are — the halfway point of the NFL season and six weeks away from the start of the fantasy postseason for many. Injuries are making lineup decisions harder — sometimes easier in the committee world of some positions — and bye weeks leave us scrambling for the best start at some positions. Here are a few updates to hopefully help you make that push toward the fantasy postseason.

Pierre GarconPierre Garcon, Leonard Hankerson & Santana Moss, WRs, Washington Redskins vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
I told you in this spot last week that Pierre Garcon should sit until after the Redskins’ Week 10 bye and it looks like that is the best-case scenario. It is either surgery or rest for Garcon. One would mean the end of the season the other means no fantasy value for you. It is unlikely that Garcon will have any fantasy value left this season and it will fall to Leonard Hankerson and Santana Moss to pick up the slack. Keep in mind that tight end Fred Davis (Achilles) went down for the year last week and Hankerson and Moss should see a marked fantasy improvement. It might be a coin toss as to who’s more productive week in and week out, but after the Week 10 bye, the Redskins face four teams currently ranked 16th or worse against fantasy receivers. Gut says go with experience: Moss; Upside says go with Hankerson.

 

Jay Cutler

Jay Cutler, QB, Chicago Bears vs. Carolina Panthers
The rib injury suffered against the Lions on Monday night was worrisome, but Jay Cutler returned to the game and practiced in full on Thursday and Friday this week. The ribs are a concern with how much time Cutler usually spends on the run — and the 150 yards and one score against a Lions team that is ranked 13th against fantasy QBs was not encouraging, either. Carolina is 17th in the league with 14 sacks while Chicago is ranked 28th with 19 allowed. However, the Panthers have allowed the last five starting QBs they’ve faced to throw for at least 221 yards and at least one TD while collecting five interceptions. It should also be a good day for Bears RB Matt Forte as the Panthers are ranked 28th against fantasy RBs. But Cutler could easily benefit from that as Carolina has surrendered the most receptions (53) and the second-most receiving yards (417) to opposing running backs.

 

Ahmad Bradshaw, Andre Brown, David Wilson, RBs, New York Giants vs. Dallas Cowboys
Ahmad Bradshaw (foot) is listed as questionable after a week in which he missed Friday’s practice and was limited on Wednesday and Thursday. He told reporter “it’s a bone bruise; it may take a while” in regards to his return to a clean bill of health. But we’re in Week 8 of the NFL season; there is no clean bill of health anymore. Fantasy owners have become accustomed to RBBC’s in the NFL. Sometimes injuries to part of that committee leave you with a great play for a couple of weeks, but upon their return the picture is muddled again. Welcome to New York and a number of other teams across the league. The Giants are the ninth-best team in the league in terms of PPR fantasy scoring from their running backs, and everyone has had their day — Bradshaw with five double-digit days, Andre Brown with three and rookie David Wilson with one. Today, all three face a Cowboys team that has surrendered just three scores to the position and outside of Marshawn Lynch’s 122 yards in Week 2, no back has eclipsed 63 yards since. Bradshaw had 17 carries for 78 yards and a score and two catches for 15 yards in Week 1 against the Cowboys. But that was half a season ago at this point.
— By Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

Teaser:
<p> Week 8 Injury Updates: Pierre Garcon, Leonard Hankerson, Santana Moss, Jay Cutler, Ahmad Bradshaw, Andre Brown, David Wilson</p>
Post date: Sunday, October 28, 2012 - 06:50
Path: /news/south-carolinas-marcus-lattimore-suffers-nasty-leg-injury-against-tennessee
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South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore exited Saturday’s game against Tennessee due to a serious leg injury. Although there has been no official announcement from the school, Lattimore will likely miss the rest of the season.

The junior took a handoff with just over five minutes to go in the second quarter and was tackled high by Tennessee linebacker Herman Lathers, before cornerback Eric Gordon went low and hit Lattimore’s right knee.

The seriousness of the injury was magnified as both teams came out to console Lattimore as he was being loaded onto the cart. And this situation is only made worse by the fact Lattimore was just returning to full strength from a torn ACL last season.

Before his injury, Lattimore rushed for 64 yards and one touchdown on 11 carries. The junior entered Saturday’s game with 597 yards and 10 touchdowns this season, while also catching 24 passes for 165 yards. 

The injury to Lattimore is a tough blow to one of the nation’s best players and arguably the No. 1 running back prospect in the 2013 NFL Draft.

South Carolina has depth at running back with Kenny Miles and Mike Davis, but there’s simply no way to replace Lattimore’s leadership and production. Quarterback Connor Shaw may also have to help pickup the slack on the ground, but South Carolina’s offense certainly won’t be the same the rest of the year.

With losses to LSU and Florida, the Gamecocks’ SEC East title hopes were essentially finished. However, this team now has to regroup after losing its best player and offensive weapon for the second consecutive season. 

Photo of Lattimore's injured leg:

Teaser:
<p> South Carolina's Marcus Lattimore Suffers Nasty Leg Injury Against Tennessee</p>
Post date: Saturday, October 27, 2012 - 12:56
Path: /news/north-carolina-unveils-new-chrome-helmet-against-nc-state
Body:

Coaches are always looking for some extra motivation when it comes to rivalry games. So it's no surprise when new helmets and uniforms are unveiled for those matchups. 

North Carolina is ineligible for postseason play this year, which means Saturday's game against NC State has some extra meaning. The Tar Heels wore a white helmet earlier this season but unveiled an interesting chrome (as tweeted by @InsideCarolina) look for Saturday's matchup against the Wolfpack:

Teaser:
<p> North Carolina Unveils New Chrome Helmet Against NC State</p>
Post date: Saturday, October 27, 2012 - 11:47
Path: /college-football/alabama-crimson-tide-vs-mississippi-state-bulldogs-preview-and-prediction
Body:

While most of the attention in the SEC will be focused on Georgia-Florida, Alabama-Mississippi State is a game that shouldn’t be overlooked this Saturday. The Bulldogs are off to their best start since opening 8-0 in 1999 under Jackie Sherrill. Alabama enters this matchup ranked No. 1 in the BCS standings and is a heavy favorite to repeat as national champions.

These two teams have met 96 times, with the Crimson Tide claiming the last four victories in this series. Mississippi State won back-to-back games in 2006-07, but this series has been largely dominated by Alabama. The Crimson Tide has won the last four matchups against the Bulldogs by at least 17 points. 

With a looming showdown against LSU next week, Alabama has to be careful not to overlook Mississippi State. The Bulldogs have played a weak schedule but are a dangerous team and should not be taken lightly.

Storylines to Watch in Alabama vs. Mississippi State

Tyler Russell vs. Alabama’s secondary
Coming into the season, most expected a Tyler (Wilson or Bray) would make All-SEC honors. However, not many placed Tyler Russell into the top half of the SEC in quarterback rankings. The junior has been one of the conference’s top quarterbacks so far, throwing for 1,573 yards and 15 touchdowns. Russell has tossed only one interception and is averaging 260.7 passing yards per game in conference play. Although Russell is off to an impressive start this year, Alabama will be the toughest secondary he has faced. The Crimson Tide rank second nationally in pass defense and has allowed just two passing touchdowns in 2012. Opposing quarterbacks are also completing just 50.8 percent of their passes against Alabama. The Crimson Tide shut down Tennessee’s offense last week and held Justin Hunter and Cordarrelle Patterson to just five catches for 95 yards. Not only does Russell need to have his best game for Mississippi State to pull off the upset, he has to continue playing mistake-free ball. 

The turnover battle
One look at the turnover margin stats for 2012 reveals a surprising No. 1 team: Mississippi State. The Bulldogs ranked 59th nationally last season but have forced 21 turnovers in 2012. Alabama isn’t far behind, ranking third nationally in turnover margin with 20 forced turnovers. With both teams ranked atop this category, something has to give on Saturday. If Mississippi State can win the turnover battle, it should have a good chance to pull off the upset. If Alabama wins, the Crimson Tide should roll to an easy victory.

Mississippi State’s secondary vs. AJ McCarron
Just as Mississippi State quarterback Tyler Russell is taking on his toughest test of the year, the same could be said for Alabama passer AJ McCarron. The Bulldogs rank 21st nationally in pass defense and have allowed only five passing scores this year. Additionally, no SEC opponent has thrown for more than 200 yards on this defense in 2012. In last season’s game, McCarron threw for 163 yards on 14 completions but has improved significantly from the end of 2011. There’s no question Mississippi State’s secondary will be able to challenge Alabama receivers, so repeating last week’s performance against Tennessee (306 yards and four touchdowns) seems unlikely.

Will Mississippi State slow down Alabama’s rushing attack?
The Bulldogs haven’t faced a rushing attack like the one Alabama will bring to Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday. The Crimson Tide have gashed opponents for 219.4 yards per game and the backs are running behind one of the nation’s best offensive lines. Mississippi State’s run defense ranks 47th nationally but opponents are averaging 4.1 yards per carry. With Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon both averaging over six yards per carry, Alabama should be able to move the ball on the ground against the Bulldogs. Matching the Crimson Tide’s physical presence in the trenches will be critical for Mississippi State, as well as winning the battle on first and second down against the run.

Final Analysis

This matchup will be a good measuring stick for Mississippi State. The Bulldogs are clearly getting better under coach Dan Mullen but have yet to be tested this season. With a difficult close to the season, a good showing in this game would give Mississippi State some confidence. Although the Bulldogs are improved, beating the Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa will be very difficult. Alabama is playing well on both sides of the ball and its defense will be a handful for Bulldogs’ quarterback Tyler Russell and running back LaDarius Perkins. Mississippi State will keep it close in the first half but eventually Alabama has too much firepower and pulls away in the final two quarters.

Final Prediction: Alabama 31, Mississippi State 13


by Steven Lassan

@athlonsteven


Related College Football Content

ACC Week 9 Preview and Predictions
Big East Week 9 Preview and Predictions

Big Ten Week 9 Preview and Predictions

Big 12 Week 9 Preview and Predictions

Pac-12 Week 9 Preview and Predictions

SEC Week 9 Preview and Predictions

Teaser:
<p> Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Mississippi State Bulldogs Preview and Prediction</p>
Post date: Saturday, October 27, 2012 - 09:28
Path: /fantasy/week-8-injury-updates-peyton-hillis-doug-baldwin-calvin-johnson
Body:

Here we are — the halfway point of the NFL season and six weeks away from the start of the fantasy postseason for many. Injuries are making lineup decisions harder — sometimes easier in the committee world of some positions — and bye weeks leave us scrambling for the best start at some positions. Here are a few updates to hopefully help you make that push toward the fantasy postseason.

Peyton Hillis, RB, Kansas City Chiefs vs. Oakland Raiders
Peyton Hillis is set to return to the lineup for the first time since Week 3 after an ankle injury has kept him on the sidelines. When he was active for the Chiefs the first three weeks, Hillis touched the ball 11, 13 and three times for games of 24, 91 and 11 yards. Kansas City is 0-3 in the games since Hills departed and has scored 36 points combined. This is no way to suggest Hills’ presence has anything to do with the Chiefs’ record, but at 1-5 on the season, don’t put it past them to try and find any kind of spark. And perhaps that spark could be started against a Raiders team is 24th against fantasy running backs with six touchdowns allowed to the position. The ultimate desperation play for both you and the Chiefs, but one that I would not be surprised to see finish in low double digits in PPR formats.

 

Calvin JohnsonCalvin Johnson, WR, Detroit Lions vs. Seattle Seahawks
A knee issue. Matthew Stafford at quarterback. And the Seattle secondary. This is one of those weeks where you wish you could find a reason to bench Calvin Johnson. You have three pretty good ones already mentioned, but you just cannot sit Megatron. The Seahawks have faced seven double-digit targeted receivers already this season; a stat Johnson has in the last six games. Those seven have combined for 41 catches for 474 yards and three scores — or an average of 15.2 fantasy points in a PPR. While the Seahawks are the fourth-best team against fantasy receivers and Megatron is just the 15th-best receiver in PPR formats, I would take 15.2 from a guy that’s already averaging 17.2 per game.

 

Doug Baldwin, WR, Seattle Seahawks vs. Detroit Lions
Just in case you thought about starting Doug Baldwin against a depleted secondary, don’t. He is out today with a high ankle sprain. Baldwin should not be on any fantasy roster at this point. Could this clear up the picture for another Seattle receiver to step up? It is unlikely. While their defense is fourth-best against fantasy receivers, the Seahawks offense is ranked fourth worst at the position. No Seattle receiver has more than five catches in a game and no receiver has more than 74 yards in a game. Detroit has been generous to receivers this season, allowing double-digit days in PPR to nine of the 19 receivers it has faced (minimum three targets). Sidney Rice is the only Seahawk worth taking a flier on and feeling a little less than miserable about it. 


—   By Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

Teaser:
<p> Week 8 Injury Updates: Peyton Hillis, Doug Baldwin, Calvin Johnson</p>
Post date: Saturday, October 27, 2012 - 06:07
Path: /nfl/nfl-picks-against-spread-week-8
Body:

A betting preview of every game (against the spread) on Sunday and Monday in Week 8.


Locks of the Week
Take two of the NFC’s toughest teams on the road against familiar division rivals in a pair of high profile contests.

Giants (-2) at Cowboys
The Big Blue Wrecking Crew have demolished the Boys at Jerry’s House. Eli Manning has 1,036 yards, eight TDs and a perfect 3–0 record at the new Cowboys Stadium.

49ers (-7) at Cardinals
San Fran will crash Zona’s Monday night party. Expect John Skelton to take a beating from Patrick Willis and Co.


Blowout Bargains
London Town’s Wembley Stadium and Titletown’s Lambeau Field will host blowouts of covering proportions.

Patriots (-7) vs. Rams (at London)
This London Calling will be played on the pitch across the pond, where Tom Brady will give the people what they came to see — an offensive fireworks display.

Packers (-15) vs. Jaguars
J-Ville was already arguably the league’s least talented team. Now, the Jags are without Mojo Drew, easily the best play on the teal team's roster.


Straight Up Upsets
Don’t be shocked to see two of the more volatile teams in the league — Detroit and Diego — stumble this week.

Seahawks (+1) at Lions
Detroit should keep calling that play where Mikel Leshoure dives for the end zone from the 5-yard-line and then fumbles. That worked great on MNF against Chicago.

Browns (+3) vs. Chargers
San Diego GM A.J. “The Lord of No Rings” Smith thinks the Bolts are going in the “wrong direction fast.” Norv Turner doesn’t understand what he means.


 


Backdoor Covers
It’s RG3 and Cam time against big numbers on the road. They may not pull off straight up upsets, but they’ll keep it close.

Redskins (+4.5) at Steelers
Rookie quarterbacks have a 1–14 record against Dick LeBeau since he took over in 2004.

Panthers (+9) at Bears
Win or lose, Cam Newton and Jay Cutler are going to act like jerks at their postgame press conferences.


Sucker Bets
Stay away completely unless you’re a degenerate or a hometown homer who always has to have action.

Chiefs (-1) vs. Raiders
The Silver-and-Black are riding a five-game winning streak at Arrowhead Stadium.

Jets (-1) vs. Dolphins
New York beat Miami, 23–20 in overtime in Week 3 in the first meeting this season.

Eagles (-3) vs. Falcons
Mike Vick brings his 13 turnovers and nine total TDs to the field to face his old team.

Titans (-3.5) vs. Colts
Andrew Luck takes his show on the road to Music City for his first gig at Tennessee.

Broncos (-6) vs. Saints
Peyton Manning vs. Drew Brees is a Sunday nighter worth missing a few pitches of the World Series for.
 

Teaser:
<p> A betting preview of every game (against the spread) on Sunday and Monday in Week 8, including the New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys, San Francisco 49ers at Arizona Cardinals, New Orleans Saints at Denver Broncos, Washington Redskins at Pittsburgh Steelers, Miami Dolphins at New York Jets, New England Patriots vs. St. Louis Rams in London.</p>
Post date: Friday, October 26, 2012 - 15:20
All taxonomy terms: Overtime, News
Path: /overtime/anchorman-gets-pooped-during-world-series-coverage
Body:

During a live broadcast outside AT&T Park in San Francisco, FOX40 anchor Paul Robins got torpedoed by a bird. Robins was a good sport about it, even as his co-anchor Bethany Crouch laughed hysterically while where a ridiculous Panda hat. As Robins said, "One of my goals in life is to make it on YouTube and I think I just did." That's right Paul, dreams really do come true.

Teaser:
Post date: Friday, October 26, 2012 - 14:41
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Links, College Basketball, NFL, NBA, MLB
Path: /college-football/athlons-essential-eleven-links-day-2
Body:

This is your daily link roundup of our favorite sports posts on the web for October 26.

• Randy Rosetta has the LSU reaction to four former players — including Tyrann Mathieubeing arrested on marijuana possession charges.

• The Giants won Game 2 over the Tigers to take a commanding 2-0 lead in the World Series, and every break seems to favor San Francisco in the postseason.

• Be careful driving in this neighborhood.

• Daniel Jeremiah of the NFL Network looks at some the league’s top candidates to become head coaches.

• Oklahoma has only beaten Notre Dame once in nine tries. The Sooners host the Irish in a huge Top 10 matchup this weekend.

• Rookie Doug Martin was the dominant running back in Minnesota as the Buccaneers beat the Vikings, 36-17, on Thursday night.

• Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez did not make the trip to London for Sunday’s game versus the Rams.

• The Penn State-Ohio State matchup this weekend may have a “bowl” feel to it, since both schools are ineligible for the postseason.

• Yankees closer Mariano Rivera may be having second thoughts about returning to the field next season.

• Could the Clippers challenge the Lakers in the Pacific Division?

• Everything seems to be going San Francisco’s way in the World Series, except for this local anchor who gets torpedoed by a bird during a live broadcast.

--- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at links@athlonsports.com

---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)
 


October 25

• Jack Curry has an interesting piece on Giants star Pablo Sandoval, who hit three home runs in San Francisco’s 8-3 victory in Game 1 of the World Series.

• The Vikings will try and move to a surprising 6-2 on the season when they host the Buccaneers tonight.

• Why Steelers, why?

• Texas Tech athletic director Kirby Hocutt, a former Kansas State linebacker, has an interesting perspective on this weekend’s huge Big 12 matchup between the Red Raiders and Wildcats. Here’s his interview with Chris Level on 104.3 in Lubbock.

• ESPN is reporting that NBA Commissioner David Stern will retire in 2014.

Ginger convention?

• Georgia was blown out at South Carolina, but the Bulldogs can keep their SEC East hopes alive by upsetting the Florida Gators.

• The Jets will look to punish Dolphins running back Reggie Bush this weekend.

• Two-time Olympic hurdler Lolo Jones is now a member of the U.S. bobsled team.

• Top UCLA hoops recruit Shabazz Muhammad was injured in practice yesterday.

• Many hockey and baseball teams grow playoff beards, but we can all participate in “Movember”. Who better to give us tips on growing that mustache than Ron Swanson?

--- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at links@athlonsports.com

---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)
 


October 24

• Blair Kerkhoff of the Kansas City Star looks at a few of Oklahoma’s past losses to Notre Dame, and how they affected the Sooners.

• The World Series starts tonight in San Francisco, with the resilient Giants taking on the rested Detroit Tigers.

• Check out some of these epic man caves.

• ESPN Pac-12 blogger Kevin Gemmell looks at the surprising undefeated start by Mike Riley’s Oregon State Beavers.

• The ACC race is wide open this season, with Florida State favored in the Atlantic and a complete free-for-all in the Coastal.

• A Lakers preview cover without Kobe Bryant?

• The NHL can’t seem to get a season started for the second time in a decade, but the Islanders have found time to announce their relocation to Brooklyn in 2015.

• Former Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine caused a stir last night by saying that slugger David Ortiz “decided not to play anymore” after Boston traded Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and Nick Punto to the Dodgers.

• The NBA is taking the position of “center” off its All-Star ballot, and fans will now vote on three “frontcourt” players.

• Could Nick Saban be lured to the Browns?

• There is no good way to lose a close football game, but these Memphis-area youngsters show us an extra-painful way to suffer a defeat. Are you serious?!

--- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at links@athlonsports.com

---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)
 


October 23

• The World Series is now set, with Buster Posey and the cardiac San Francisco Giants meeting Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera and the Detroit Tigers.

• Berry Tramel of The Oklahoman has an interesting piece on the origin of “Play Like a Champion Today.” Did it start with Notre Dame, or did Sooners legend Bud Wilkinson coin the popular phrase?

• Type the URL “HireJonGruden.com” into your browser and see what happens. With Derek Dooley struggling, Vols fans are thinking big.

• Bleacher Report’s Barrett Sallee says the undefeated Mississippi State Bulldogs have no chance to beat No. 1 Alabama.

• The St Louis Cardinals choked away the NLCS versus the Giants, and it was a complete team effort.

• Check out this bearded ninja.

• Jaguars quarterback Blaine Gabbert has torn labrum in his left shoulder.

• Wyoming coach Dave Christensen has been suspended one week and fined $50,000 for his tirade following the Cowboys’ loss to Air Force.

• CBS Sports lists its Top 50 point guards in college basketball, with a Murray State star topping the list.

• A survey of NBA general managers predicts a repeat for LeBron James (MVP) and the Miami Heat.

• ESPN Sunday Soundtracks provided the football public with a gem last night. Texans star defensive end J.J. Watt tells running back Ray Rice of the Ravens, “I've eaten burritos bigger than you.”

--- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at links@athlonsports.com

---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)
 


October 22

• RG3 was impressive against the Giants, but Eli Manning added to his amazing fourth-quarter legacy in New York’s 27-23 win over the Redskins.

• CBS’ Tony Barnhart recaps the college football weekend, including telling Oregon fans that the Ducks will be fine in the BCS.

• Check out this Patriots fan’s jersey — well played.

• The San Francisco Giants have all of the NLCS momentum against the Cardinals, but the storied franchise has never won a winner-take-all Game 7.

• Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein has become the new clear-cut favorite in the Heisman race.

• The Red Sox got their guy, trading with the Blue Jays to bring back former pitching coach John Farrell as manager.

• Check out these awful first movies for some of Hollywood’s top actors.

• Lakers big man Dwight Howard tallied a double-double in his preseason debut with Los Angeles.

• The Redskins are bringing back veteran tight end Chris Cooley after Fred Davis was lost for the season with an Achilles injury.

• Rick Pitino has suspended Chane Behanan for Louisville’s exhibition opener and has banned the forward from talking to the media for a semester.

• We’ve seen several people run onto playing fields over the years, but it’s usually not right in the middle of a play like this idiot at the Florida State-Miami game. It’s too bad one of the Seminoles linemen did not level the guy.

--- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at links@athlonsports.com

---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)
 

Teaser:
<p> The best sports links from the NFL, college football and basketball, MLB, the NBA, NASCAR and the world of entertainment.</p>
Post date: Friday, October 26, 2012 - 13:15
Path: /college-football/college-football-predictions-every-game-week-9-0
Body:

College football’s Week 9 is highlighted by two huge games in the SEC (Florida vs. Georgia, Mississippi State at Alabama) and a meeting of two storied programs in Norman, Okla., as Notre Dame takes on Oklahoma. There is a key clash in the Big East, as Cincinnati makes the short trip to Louisville on Friday night. And USC heads to Tucson for a tricky game with the Wildcats.

Friday

No. 39 Cincinnati at No. 17 Louisville
This key Big East clash lost some of its intrigue when Cincinnati suffered a 29–23 defeat at Toledo on Saturday. That loss didn’t hurt the Bearcats’ standing in the Big East, but this is no longer a battle of undefeated and nationally ranked teams.
Louisville 30–20

No. 57 Nevada at No. 94 Air Force
Nevada has tumbled down the Athlon Sports rankings in recent week. The Wolf Pack had some close wins against bad teams — Wyoming (35–28 OT) and UNLV (42–37) — then lost at home last week, in overtime, to San Diego State.
Nevada 34–24

Saturday

No. 16 Mississippi State at No. 1 Alabama
How good is Alabama? Well, Nick Saban’s club is favored by more than three touchdowns against an undefeated Mississippi State team that is ranked 11th in the BCS standings. The Crimson Tide, ranked No. 1 in the nation, have won their seven games by an average of 32.7 points, and each victory has been by at least 19 points. Can Mississippi State be the first team to make Bama sweat? The guess here is yes — to a degree.
Alabama 30–17

No. 101 Colorado at No. 2 Oregon
Colorado has given up 101 points in its last two games, losses to Arizona State and USC. The Buffs rank 119th in the nation in scoring defense (42.6 ppg). This will not be remotely competitive.
Oregon 58–6

No. 3 Florida vs. No. 10 Georgia (Jacksonville)
There’s plenty at stake when Florida and Georgia get together for their annual tussle in Jacksonville. The Gators, already 7–0 in the league, can wrap up the SEC East with a win. Georgia can’t clinch anything this weekend, but the Bulldogs — who still have games with Ole Miss and Auburn — would control their own destiny with a victory.
Florida 24–17

No. 15 Texas Tech at No. 4 Kansas State
Bill Snyder is the obvious choice for Big 12 Coach of the Year at this point, but Tommy Tuberville has to be No. 2 on the list. The Red Raiders, who went 2–7 in the league last season, are 6–1 overall and 3–1 in the Big 12. And there are some quality wins on the résumé — at Iowa State, vs. West Virginia, at TCU.
Kansas State 35–27

No. 5 Notre Dame at No. 8 Oklahoma
Notre Dame expects Everett Golson to be back at quarterback after missing the BYU game with a concussion. He is far from polished throwing the ball, but he is a dynamic playmaker who can create scoring opportunities with his legs. The Irish will have to limit their turnovers and score touchdowns — not field goals — in the red zone.
Oklahoma 20–17

No. 7 Ohio State at No. 23 Penn State
Penn State has won five straight games after opening the season with losses to Ohio and Virginia. The Nittany Lions are getting it done with a surprisingly potent offense that is led by the surprisingly good Matt McGloin. A year ago, McGloin failed to throw for more than 220 yards in any game and had eight touchdowns and five interceptions in 231 attempts. This season, McGloin has topped the 220-yard mark in five of seven games and has 14 TDs and two INTs in 259 attempts.
Penn State 33–28

No. 36 Tennessee at No. 9 South Carolina
In his Monday press conference, Tennessee’s Derek Dooley said Tyler Bray will be on a short leash in Columbia. “If he’s loose with the football, he’s coming out of the game and we’re going to play Justin (Worley),” Dooley said. “I told him that.” In four SEC games, Bray is completing just over 50 percent of his passes with six touchdowns and eight interceptions. That simply isn’t good enough for a guy with as much talent as Bray.
South Carolina 31–20

No. 11 USC at No. 29 Arizona
USC has quietly won four in a row since its damaging Week 3 loss at Stanford. The Trojans, 6–1 overall and ranked No. 10 in the latest BCS standings, can play their way back into the national title mix with wins this week at Arizona and next week at home vs. Oregon.
USC 34–28

No. 12 Oregon State at No. 40 Washington
Oregon State survived for two weeks without Sean Mannion in the lineup, beating BYU 42–24 and Utah 21–7. Now, Mannion is back, and the Beavers are ready to light up the scoreboard against a Washington team that has given up 41 points or more in three of its five games vs. AQ conference opponents.
Oregon State 37-21

No. 47 Duke at No. 13 Florida State
Duke can relax after picking up that elusive sixth win and becoming bowl-eligible for the first time since 1994. The Blue Devils are very much in the mix for the Coastal Division title, but their remaining schedule — starting with Saturday’s trip to FSU — is very difficult.
Florida State 38–20

No. 71 Kent State at No. 18 Rutgers
Former Rutgers assistant Darrell Hazell brings his Kent State Golden Flashes to town for homecoming. This will not, however, be easy for the Scarlet Knights. Kent State is 7–1 overall and has won three games on the road.
Rutgers 21–10

No. 19 Michigan at No. 27 Nebraska
Michigan snapped its four-game losing streak to Michigan State despite failing to score a touchdown. The Wolverines’ defense, which struggled in the first two weeks of the season, has given up an average of 230.6 yards in the last five games. Greg Mattison and his group will have their hands full against Nebraska. Holding the Huskers to 28 points should be the goal.
Michigan 34–28

No. 102 Washington State at No. 20 Stanford
After playing two straight overtime games — beating Arizona and losing to Notre Dame — Stanford enjoyed a relatively stress-free 21–3 win over rival Cal in the Big Game. The Cardinal dominated this game at the line of scrimmage, outgaining Cal on the ground 252 to 3. Expect another easy win this week.
Stanford 44–10

No. 21 Texas A&M at No. 73 Auburn
Auburn’s offense is bad. How bad? Well, the Tigers rank 119th in the nation in total yards (276.7) and have averaged only 229.0 yards against SEC opponents. Last week, in a 17–13 loss at Vanderbilt, Auburn managed 212 total yards. The week before, against Ole Miss, they had 213 yards.
Texas A&M 30–17

No. 24 Louisiana Tech at No. 122 New Mexico State
This is a colossal mismatch in the WAC. Louisiana Tech has scored 53 touchdowns in seven games vs. FCS competition. New Mexico State has scored 14 in six games.
Louisiana Tech 55–7

No. 45 Michigan State at No. 22 Wisconsin
After scoring less than 30 points in four of their first five games, the Badgers have scored 31, 38 and 38 points in their last three. Their three highest yardage totals of the season have also come in the last three games — 427 vs. Illinois, 645 vs. Purdue and 443 vs. Minnesota. Michigan State’s defense will be a bit tougher to penetrate, but the Badgers will score enough to win.
Wisconsin 24–14

No. 26 UCLA at No. 33 Arizona State
I’m surprised the spread is so high between these seemingly evenly matched teams. UCLA is 5–2 and has only played one bad game, a 43–17 loss at California. The Bruins’ other loss was by seven points at home to undefeated Oregon State, and they have a nice win over Nebraska on their résumé.
UCLA 27–24

No. 28 Texas at No. 97 Kansas
Charlie Weis has turned his offense over to Michael Cummings, a redshirt freshman who will get the start over Notre Dame transfer Dayne Crist. He will be facing a Texas defense that has given up 48 points or more in its last three games.
Texas 40–10

No. 32 TCU at No. 30 Oklahoma State
TCU is known more for its defense, but the Horned Frogs are averaging 491.8 yards vs. Big 12 opponents this season. That’s more than West Virginia, Oklahoma and Texas Tech (and four other teams). The Frogs’ defense, however, is giving up 387.8 yards in league play. Stopping Oklahoma State, which welcomes quarterback Wes Lunt back to the lineup, will be a challenge.
Oklahoma State 34–27

No. 31 Boise State at No. 112 Wyoming
The schedule hasn’t been too taxing, but Boise State has given up 17 points or less in all but one game this season. The Broncos lead the MWC in total defense and scoring defense.
Boise State 30–10

No. 34 Ohio at No. 109 Miami (Ohio)
Ohio, which is No. 4 in the BCS standings, has been outgained by an average of 64 yards in its three MAC games. This team does not deserve to be ranked.
Ohio 30-23

No. 35 Toledo at No. 116 Buffalo
Toledo continues to roll. The Rockets improved to 7–1 last week with a win over previously unbeaten Cincinnati. Dating back to last season, Toledo has won 15 of its last 17 games. It will be 16 of 18 very soon.
Toledo 37, Buffalo 8

No. 37 NC State at No. 50 North Carolina
Larry Fedora will be a popular man in Chapel Hill if he can do something that Butch Davis failed to do in his time at North Carolina — beat NC State. The Wolfpack have won five straight in this series, four with Davis in charge and one with interim boss Everett Withers running the show. The streak is about to end.
North Carolina 28–27

No. 64 Iowa at No. 38 Northwestern
It’s been a strange season in Iowa City. The Hawkeyes have one of the worst losses by any AQ conference team in the nation this season — at home to Central Michigan. Yet, they’ve also won at Michigan State. Last week, Iowa was dominated at home by Penn State. The Nittany Lions jumped out to a 24–0 lead at the half and cruised to a 38–14 victory.
Northwestern 24–17

No. 42 Baylor at No. 41 Iowa State
How bad has Baylor been defensively in Big 12 games? Well, the Bears are giving up 613.7 points per game and a staggering 7.36 yards per play vs. conference foes.
Iowa State 47–41

No. 121 South Alabama at No. 43 ULM
South Alabama is fresh off its first win over an FBS team, a 37–34 double-overtime thriller at Florida Atlantic. The Jaguars’ winning streak will end at one.
ULM 44-17

No. 123 UMass at No. 48 Vanderbilt
UMass gained a total of 118 yards last week in a 24–0 loss at Bowling Green. The Minutemen had 33 yards passing on 34 attempts. It is very hard to be that bad.
Vanderbilt 44–0

No. 56 Ole Miss at No. 49 Arkansas
There is no doubt that Ole Miss is one of the most improved teams in the SEC. However, it must be noted that the Rebs have yet to beat a good team. Their four wins have come against Central Arkansas, UTEP (2–6), Tulane (1–6) and Auburn (1–6). So can this team take the next step and defeat a quality opponent?
Arkansas 38–30

No. 52 Utah State at No. 114 Texas-San Antonio
The Aggies bounced back from a 6–3 loss to BYU by beating San Jose State and New Mexico State by a combined score of 90–34. The beatings of WAC brethren will continue.
Utah State 44–13

No. 53 Northern Illinois at No. 81 Western Michigan
Northern Illinois and Toledo, both 4–0 in the league, are heading for a huge showdown in mid-November in DeKalb. The Huskies have won seven straight and are playing very well on both sides of the ball.
Northern Illinois 34–20

No. 54 Western Kentucky at No. 106 FIU
Western Kentucky blew a 28–7 second quarter lead last week and eventually lost in overtime to ULM 43–42. It was the Toppers’ first Sun Belt conference defeat since losing to Arkansas State last October.
Western Kentucky 24–21

No. 55 BYU at No. 58 Georgia Tech
Statistically, BYU has one of the top rushing defenses in the nation. But the Cougars were gashed last week by Notre Dame, which had two backs top 100 yards and ended up with 270 yards on 43 carries in a 17–14 Irish win. Georgia Tech’s option attack will provide another stiff test for BYU.
Georgia Tech 28–20

No. 59 Purdue at No. 65 Minnesota
These two teams are a combined 0–6 in the Big Ten. Minnesota is on its third starting quarterback of the season. Philip Nelson, a true freshman who enrolled at Minnesota last January, made his first start last week at Wisconsin. He completed 13-of-24 for 149 yards with two TDs and two interceptions in a 38–13 loss.
Minnesota 24–20

No. 60 California at No. 66 Utah
Losing 21–3 at home to your arch rival isn’t recommended for a coach (Jeff Tedford) whose job security is an issue. The Golden Bears are 3–5 overall and 2–3 in the league. They really need to pick up a win in Salt Lake City.
California 28–17

No. 77 Kentucky at No. 61 Missouri
Beating Kentucky this week is of paramount importance because it’s the last time Mizzou will be favored against an SEC foe. With trips to Florida, Tennessee and Texas A&M looming, Gary Pinkel’s club could be staring at an 0–8 record in its maiden voyage through the league if it somehow fails to beat Kentucky.
Missouri 24–14

No. 62 UCF at No. 80 Marshall
Marshall has quietly put together one of the nation’s top offenses — at least statistically. The Thundering Herd rank second in passing offense (390.0 ypg), fourth in total offense (568.4 ypg) and eighth in scoring offense (43.1 ppg). That’s the good part. The bad? Marshall is giving upover 40 points per game.
Marshall 41-40

No. 63 Maryland at No. 98 Boston College
Maryland lost its second quarterback to a torn ACL this season when Perry Hills went down last week against NC State. The Terps will now turn to true freshman Caleb Rowe or third-year sophomore Devin Burns.
Boston College 21–20

No. 67 Syracuse at No. 75 South Florida
South Florida’s disappointing 2012 season took another painful turn last week when the Bulls lost a fourth quarter lead to nationally ranked Louisville. USF is now 2–5 overall and 0–3 in the Big East. Syracuse played its most complete game of the season last week in a 40–10 win over UConn. The Orange, however, are 0–2 on the road in 2012 and have lost five straight on the road dating back to last season.
South Florida 24–20

No. 74 Temple at No. 68 Pittsburgh
Temple surprised the league by winning its first two games in its first season back in the Big East. Then, the Owls jumped on Rutgers last week and led 10–0 at the half. The fun stopped there, however. The Scarlet Knights stormed back and coasted to a 35–10 victory. Pittsburgh is 0–3 in the Big East, but the Panthers have already played two of the league’s best three teams, Cincinnati and Rutgers.
Pittsburgh 17–13

No. 69 Fresno State at No. 95 New Mexico
New Mexico, which has switched to an option offense under new coach Bob Davie, is the only team in the nation that has not completed a pass that has gone for 40 yards or more. The Lobos do, however, have seven rushing plays of 40 yards or more, which ranks second nationally.
Fresno State 31–23

No. 103 UNLV at No. 70 San Diego State
San Diego State had its biggest win of the year last week, rallying to beat Nevada 39–38 in overtime. With Ryan Katz out with an injury (and lost for the season), Adam Dingwell stepped in and threw for 177 yards with three touchdowns and no picks.
San Diego State 30–14

No. 72 Ball State at No. 115 Army
Rich Ellerson’s fourth season at Army isn’t going well. The Black Knights are 1–6 (though the one win came vs. Boston College) and all but one of their losses has been by 10 points or more. Ball State should roll.
Ball State 44–20

No. 87 Navy at No. 78 East Carolina
Navy has won three straight, the last two with true freshman Keenan Reynolds starting at quarterback. East Carolina is 4–1 in C-USA but will have a tough time winning its division. The Pirates trail UCF by one game in the loss column and lost to the Knights 40–20 earlier this month.
East Carolina 34–31

No. 104 Texas State at No. 79 San Jose State
Assuming San Jose State takes care of business this weekend, Mike MacIntyre can claim back-to-back wins over Larry Coker (won a national title at Miami) and Dennis Franchione (former coach at TCU, Alabama and Texas A&M).
San Jose State 44–17

No. 83 Troy at No. 124 FAU
FAU has lost six straight games since edging Wagner 7–3 in the opener. The latest loss was troubling — 37–34 at FBS newcomer South Alabama. The Carl Pelini era is off to a rough start.
Troy 37–14

No. 96 North Texas at No. 85 Middle Tennessee
Middle Tennessee played well in Starkville for a half last week before being overwhelmed by Mississippi State in the final two quarters. The Blue Raiders miss Bennie Cunningham (torn ACL), but this is still a good offense.
Middle Tennessee 34–27

No. 88 Indiana at No. 89 Illinois
Indiana has lost its last three games (vs. Michigan State, Ohio State and Navy) by a total of eight points. Illinois has lost its last four games (Louisiana Tech, Penn State, Wisconsin and Michigan) by a total of 118 points.
Indiana 37–26

No. 117 Memphis at No. 90 SMU
One week after losing to previously winless Tulane 27–26, SMU beat Houston 72–42 (thanks to nine Cougar turnovers). Go figure.
SMU 41–13

No. 99 UTEP at No. 92 Houston
Just when it appeared that Houston was getting its act together, the Cougars turn the ball over nine times and give up 72 points to SMU. When this team takes care of the ball — which isn’t often — it is capable of scoring points.
Houston 38–28

No. 113 Eastern Michigan at No. 93 Bowling Green
Bowling Green gave up a total of 118 yards in a 24–0 win at UMass last week. The Falcons have not allowed more than 12 points in a game since losing at Virginia Tech 37–0 in Week 4.
Bowling Green 27–12

No. 100 UAB at No. 110 Tulane
Tulane is showing improvement under first-year coach Curtis Johnson. The Green Wave broke through with their first win two weeks ago against SMU and then lost at UTEP 24–20 last week. Beating UAB, however, will be tough. The Blazers are 1–6 but have played relatively well against a tough schedule.
UAB 31–21

No. 108 Southern Miss at No. 105 Rice
Is it possible that Southern Miss, a program that has enjoyed 18 straight winning seasons, could go winless in 2012? The Golden Eagles have five games remaining: at Rice, UAB, at SMU, UTEP, at Memphis. My guess is that USM finds a way to win at least one game.
Rice 28–24

No. 111 Akron at No. 107 Central Michigan
Terry Bowden is still looking for his first win vs. an FBS opponent in his first season as the boss at Akron. Central Michigan has lost four straight since its stunning win at Iowa.
Central Michigan 21–20

No. 118 Hawaii at No. 120 Colorado State
These two programs have enjoyed some pockets of big-time success over the past two decades. Now, however, they are among the two worst teams in the nation.
Colorado State 24–16

Last week: 44–11
Season: 361–101
 

Teaser:
<p> College football’s Week 9 is highlighted by two huge games in the SEC (Florida vs. Georgia, Mississippi State at Alabama) and a meeting of two storied programs in Norman, Okla., as Notre Dame takes on Oklahoma. There is also a key clash in the Big East, as Cincinnati makes the short trip to Louisville on Friday night.</p>
Post date: Friday, October 26, 2012 - 06:40
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/20-twitter-accounts-every-big-ten-fan-should-follow
Body:

Fret not, Big Ten fans. The product on the field may be suffering this year in comparison to the other power conferences, but the coverage of the league in the Twitterverse is thriving. Sure, some of that coverage is snarky, but that's what you get when your top-ranked team not on probation is No. 22 Michigan. Here are the top 20 Twitter accounts for the B1G. Unlike some of the teams they cover, they're all leaders and legends.

ESPN_BigTen
Since 2008, Adam Rittenberg and Brian Bennett have been regaling Big Ten fans with news, notes and links for the mothership.

 

@steakNstiffarms
Football, food and female hotness. What more is there to the Internet? Elika Sadeghi covers all three on her Twitter feed, with a Big Ten emphasis. To follow her is to love her.

 

@JimComparoni
Jim's the publisher of SPARTAN Magazine and is a one-stop shop for all things Gang Green-related. Especially good for in-game tweets that give you a feel for the action.

 

@TeddyGreenstein
Teddy has one of the best self-descriptions on Twitter: "lover, fighter, Chicago Trib sportswriter." Kind of says it all, although he focuses on the sports part on his Twitter feed, in bareknuckles fashion.

 

@marcmorehouse
A sportswriter for the Cedar Rapids Gazette, Marc Morehouse covers Iowa sports with a stated goal to entertain and inform. Mission accomplished on both counts, although Kirk Ferentz might not be all that entertained by what he reads.

 

@jaypo1961
Jeff Potrykus is a sportswriter for the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel specializing in Badger sports. Jeff's also apparently a big fan of tacos. Oh, the things you learn on Twitter.

 

@nickbaumgardner
Nick Baumgardner covers Michigan sports for MLive.com, but he doesn't limit his tweets to the team from the Big House, weighing in with opinions and observations on all sports with a Wolverine State bent.

 

@joerexrode
Joe Rexrode covers Sparty for the Detroit Free Press, and he's not just a mouthpiece for Mark Dantonio and Tom Izzo. Joe delivers unvarnished opinions about the goings-on in East Lansing.

 

@GophersNow
Pioneer Press reporter Marcus R. Fuller is your man on the inside of Gopher sports. After three straight losses, he has to be wondering if there's a bowl trip in his future. Plus, he's gearing up for another season with Tubby's Team Turmoil.

 

@Sean_Callahan
The publisher of HuskerOnline.com, Sean (Don't Call Me Bill) Callahan has seen the Nebraska program suffer through some uncharacteristic struggles the last several years. But unlike the team, Sean's coverage is consistently solid.

 

@DustinDopirak
Like the rest of Hoosier Nation, Dopirak's thinking hoops right about now. In fact, if you are a Twitter follower of Dustin's, it's like you were there for Big Ten Basketball media day. But if you're an IU football diehard, Dustin's your guy, too.

 

 

@PDBuckeyes
Doug Lesmerises provides what he calls "news, analysis and inane banter" from his perch as Buckeyes beat guy for the Cleveland Plain Dealer. The banter may be inane, but the info's not.

 

@carminjc
Mike Carmin covers Purdue football and women's hoops for the Lafayette Journal and Courier. Can make for an odd mix of tweets, but if you're a Boilers fan, you won't mind.

 

@TomMulhernWSJ
Tom's been on the Badger beat for the Wisconsin State Journal for more than a decade, meaning he's seen more highs than lows — although he's not afraid to point out the lows.

 

@PSUExaminer
Kevin McGuire provides a fount of Penn State and Big Ten information in bite-sized form. Lots of links, stats and tidbits for the Big Ten fan on the go.

 

@BTNTomDienhart
Tom Dienhart is the senior writer for btn.com, the website for the Big Ten Network. Not surprisingly, he's turned some of his attention to basketball, but as long as there's football to be played, he's got it covered.

 

@11W
Eleven Warriors is your source for all things Scarlet and Grey. It's the largest free Ohio State sports source on the internet, and they've extended their footprint to Twitter in a big way.

 

@edsbs
It's more of a general college site, but I couldn't let this Twitter rundown lapse without mentioning the guys over at Every Day Should Be Saturday, who freely share a love of college football with a slightly skewed, always amusing perspective.

 

@RappUp
Jeff Rapp is an Ohio State grad who turned his avocation (Buckeye sports) into his vocation. On his site, SportsRappUp.com, and his Twitter feed, he covers OSU and the Big Ten with a nice eye for detail. 

 

@HawkeyeNation
Jon Miller is publisher of HawkeyeNation.com, billed as an independent source for Hawkeye news. That independence comes in handy when your team lays a colossal egg against Penn State.

Teaser:
<p> These tweeting 20 will keep you entertained and educated about Big Ten football</p>
Post date: Friday, October 26, 2012 - 06:34
Path: /college-football/florida-gators-vs-georgia-bulldogs-preview-and-prediction
Body:

The annual matchup between Florida and Georgia at the The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party in Jacksonville is usually one of the most-anticipated SEC games every season. This season is no different, as both teams enter with a combined 13-1 record and a division title on the line.

Most division titles aren’t decided until the month of November but that’s not the case in the SEC this Saturday. With a 6-0 conference record and a win over South Carolina already, Florida can clinch the SEC East title with a victory over Georgia. After Saturday’s meeting with the Bulldogs in Jacksonville, the Gators play three home games (Missouri, UL Lafayette and Jacksonville State), along with a road date against Florida State. 

While Georgia’ SEC title hopes took a hit with the loss to South Carolina, the Bulldogs can jump back into the race with a win over Florida. Mark Richt’s team still has to play Ole Miss and Auburn but will be heavily favored to win both games. The Bulldogs have one of the SEC’s top offenses, but the defense has yet to find its form from last season.

This series has been dominated by Florida since 1990. The Gators have won 18 out of the last 22 matchups but lost last season’s game 24-20. The last two games in this rivalry have been decided by four points or less.

Storylines to watch in Florida vs. Georgia

Can Georgia stop Florida’s rushing attack?
The Bulldogs’ defense has been one of the SEC’s most underachieving units in 2012. After allowing just 101.2 yards per game last season, Georgia ranks 72nd nationally in rush defense and is giving up 167.9 yards per game this year. The Bulldogs front seven suffered a setback this week, as end Abry Jones could miss the rest of the season with an ankle injury. Losing Jones is another setback for a Georgia defense that has allowed rushing seven touchdowns over the last three games and faces a tough test against a Florida offense that is averaging 212.7 rushing yards per game. Mike Gillislee is the lead back for the Gators but has been held under 100 yards in each of his last two contests. While Gillislee should see 20-25 carries, the Bulldogs have to be wary of Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel. The sophomore has 321 yards on this season, and his mobility only adds another dimension to the Gators’ much-improved rushing attack. Considering Georgia’s struggles against the run and the loss of Jones, coordinator Todd Grantham will have his hands full trying to stop Gillislee and Driskel. 

Will Aaron Murray find success against Florida’s secondary?
After a dismal performance against South Carolina, Murray rebounded with 427 yards and four touchdowns in the 29-24 win over Kentucky. The junior quarterback has been sharp most of the season, completing 65.3 percent of his throws and tossing only four picks. Although Murray seemed to find rhythm last week, Florida’s defense represents the toughest challenge the Bulldogs have seen this year. The Gators are allowing less than 200 passing yards per game and have given up only three passing scores in seven contests. Another key to the success of Florida’s secondary has been a pass rush averaging two sacks a game. Murray didn’t have much time to throw against South Carolina, which didn’t allow the offense to take any shots downfield. For the Bulldogs to win, they have to provide Murray with more protection, along with establishing freshmen Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall on the ground.

Will Jeff Driskel throw for more than 100 yards?
The formula for Florida’s turnaround this year is pretty simple. The Gators are winning the battle in the trenches and the turnover battle. With a shutdown defense and a stout running game, quarterback Jeff Driskel hasn’t been asked to do much over the last three games. The sophomore quarterback has not topped 100 passing yards over the last three contests but ran for 177 yards and three touchdowns in a win over Vanderbilt. Although Driskel hasn’t been much of a factor in recent weeks, he will be needed more against Georgia. The Bulldogs rank 28th nationally against the pass and with a lack of proven playmakers for Georgia on the outside, the Bulldogs should own an edge in pass defense. Driskel has been careful with the ball (only one interception on 127 attempts) but this will be a huge test after three games where he didn’t need to do much through the air. Georgia's pass rush is expected to get a boost this week, as linebacker Jarvis Jones is expected to return to the lineup after missing last Saturday's game against Kentucky. 

Final Analysis

Even though Georgia was handled by South Carolina, this team is capable of winning this game. The battle in the trenches will be critical, especially for a Bulldogs’ offensive line that struggled to block the Gamecocks’ defensive front. Florida doesn’t have a difference maker off the edge like Jadeveon Clowney, but what the Gators lack in star power is made up in quality depth. If Georgia can protect quarterback Aaron Murray and open up some holes for running back Todd Gurley, this will be a close game until the fourth quarter. The Bulldogs’ defense has to step up after underachieving this year, which could have a hard time slowing down the Florida rushing attack. Georgia should be motivated to win this one, but the Gators are on a roll and should once again find a way to win.

Final Prediction: Florida 24, Georgia 20
 

by Steven Lassan

@athlonsteven


Related College Football Content

ACC Week 9 Preview and Predictions
Big East Week 9 Preview and Predictions

Big Ten Week 9 Preview and Predictions

Big 12 Week 9 Preview and Predictions

Pac-12 Week 9 Preview and Predictions

SEC Week 9 Preview and Predictions

Teaser:
<p> Florida Gators vs. Georgia Bulldogs Preview and Prediction</p>
Post date: Friday, October 26, 2012 - 06:15
Path: /college-football/college-football-award-watch-post-week-8
Body:

The Heisman Trophy isn’t the only award worth watching on a weekly basis. The Lombardi, Outland, Davey O’Brien and Biletnikoff races are all worth watching and debating as the season goes along.

Throughout the season, we’ll keep an eye on all the prominent position trophies through college football in addition to the Heisman.

If you’re looking for our thoughts on that other trophy, check our weekly Heisman poll.

Week 9 Previews and Predictions

ACC | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-12 | SEC

OFFENSIVE AWARDS
Davey O’Brien (Top quarterback)
Our leader: Collin Klein, Kansas State
In a head-to-head meeting against West Virginia’s Geno Smith, Klein finished as the top quarterback in the country, at least for this week. Klein accounted for all seven touchdowns against the Mountaineers (four rushing, three passing). The senior is second in the nation in pass efficiency behind Alabama’s A.J. McCarron and fifth in rushing touchdowns (14).
Others: Louisiana Tech’s Colby Cameron, Alabama’s A.J. McCarron, Ohio State’s Braxton Miller, West Virginia’s Geno Smith

Doak Walker (Top running back)
Our leader: Montee Ball, Wisconsin
Hard to believe with the way Ball started the season, but he now ranks fourth in the nation with 979 rushing yards. In four Big Ten games, Ball has 10 rushing touchdowns and 154.8 yards per game.
Others: Oregon’s Kenjon Barner, North Carolina’s Giovani Bernard, Kansas State’s John Hubert, Nevada’s Stefphon Jefferson, Northwestern’s Venric Mark, Stanford’s Stepfan Taylor

Biletnikoff Award (Top wide receiver)
Our leader: Quinton Patton, Louisiana Tech
West Virginia’s passing game is in a funk. USC’s passing game is starting to recover its early season form (facing Colorado helps). Last week, Patton had one of his least productive games of the season with four catches for 41 yards in a rout against Idaho, but he did catch his 10th touchdown pass of the season. Patton is a week removed from a 21-catch effort against Texas A&M.
Others: Cal’s Keenan Allen, West Virginia’s Tavon Austin, West Virginia’s Stedman Bailey, Clemson’s DeAndre Hopkins, USC’s Marqise Lee, Penn State’s Allen Robinson, Baylor’s Terrance Williams

Mackey Award (Top tight end)
Our leader: Zach Ertz, Stanford
After catching six passes for 134 yards and a touchdown, Ertz leads the nation’s tight ends with 505 receiving yards. He’s a big play threat, too, averaging at least 20 yards per catch in games against Duke, USC and Cal this season.
Others: Arizona State’s Chris Coyle, Notre Dame’s Tyler Eifert, Washington’s Austin Sefarian-Jenkins, Stanford’s Levine Toilolo

Outland Trophy (Top interior lineman)
Our leader: Barrett Jones, Alabama
Jones is the de facto favorite to win the Outland again, but the gap is closing -- even on his own team. Guard Chance Warmack is having a standout season, as is tackle D.J. Fluker. And that’s just offense in Tuscaloosa. Two of the last five Outland winners have been defensive tackles (LSU’s Glenn Dorsey in 2007, Nebraska’s Ndamukong Suh in 2009). Star Lotulelei and Stephon Tuitt should make a push here.
Others: North Carolina’s Jonathan Cooper, Texas A&M’s Luke Joeckel, Utah’s Star Lotulelei, Notre Dame’s Stephon Tuitt

Rimington Trophy (Top center)
Our leader: Alabama’s Jones
Others: Kansas State’s B.J. Finney, Clemson’s Dalton Freeman, USC’s Khaled Holmes

 

 


DEFENSIVE AWARDS
Bednarik Award/Nagurski Award (Defensive Player of the Year)
Our leader: Manti Te’o, Notre Dame
Te’o continues to lead the Notre Dame defense heading into a huge matchup with Oklahoma this week. Te’o intercepted his fourth pass of the season with a pick against BYU last week, but the senior has only four solo tackles (17 assisted tackles) in the last two weeks.
Others: South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney, Rutgers’ Khaseem Greene, Utah's Star Lotulelei, Penn State's Michael Mauti, LSU’s Kevin Minter

Lombardi Award (Top lineman or linebacker)
Our leader: Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina
Clowney was unstoppable against Florida, and it wasn’t his fault hte Gamecocks gave up 44 points as South Carolina special teams and the offense handed Florida the ball around the goal line. Clowney will face one of the top lines in the SEC this week against South Carolina.
Others: Oregon State’s Scott Chricton, Rutgers’ Khaseem Greene, Utah’s Star Lotulelei, Penn State’s Michael Mauti, Texas A&M’s Damontre Moore, Notre Dame’s Stephon Tuitt

Butkus Award (Top linebacker)
Our leader: Te’o, Notre Dame
Others:Kansas State’s Arthur Brown, Rutgers’ Khaseem Greene, Iowa State’s Jake Knott, Penn State’s Michael Mauti, LSU’s Kevin Minter, Alabama’s C.J. Mosely

Thorpe Award (Top defensive back)
Our leader: Johnthan Banks, Mississippi State
Banks had eight tackles and an interception returned for 46 yards last week against Middle Tennessee, giving him four picks this season and 16 in his career. This week brings a compelling matchup between Banks and Alabama’s A.J. McCarron, who has not thrown an interception this season.
Others: Florida’s Matt Elam, Oklahoma’s Tony Jefferson, Alabama’s Dee Milliner, Oregon State’s Jordan Poyer


SPECIAL TEAMS AWARDS
Groza Award (Top kicker)

Our leader: Jeremiah Detmer, Toledo
Toledo’s offense isn’t all wild passing numbers. Detmer was 5 of 5 on field goals last week in a win over Cincinnati, including kicks of 43, 42 and 47 yards. He’s made the most field goals in the country with 18 converted on 23 attempts.
Others: Louisiana-Lafayette’s Brett Baer, Northwestern’s Jeff Budzien, Clemson’s Chandler Catanzaro, Iowa’s Mike Meyer

Ray Guy Award (Top punter)
Our leader: Florida’s Kyle Christy
Christy is the weapon LSU’s Brad Wing was a season ago. Christy helps the Gators with the field position battle by averaging 47.9 yards per kick. Half of his 36 punts have been longer than 50 yards.
Others: Louisiana Tech’s Ryan Allen, Utah’s Sean Sellwood, Oklahoma State’s Quinn Sharp


OTHER NATIONAL AWARDS
Freshman of the Year
Our leader: Marcus Mariota, Oregon
Kenjon Barner or Marcus Mariota -- who is the most valuable player on the Oregon offense? A compelling case could be made for Mariota, who leads the Pac-12 in completion percentage (68.3 percent). He had his best rushing day of the season last week by running for 135 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries.
Others: Louisiana Tech’s Kenneth Dixon, UCLA’s Brett Hundley, Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel

Coach of the Year
Our leader: Bill Snyder, Kansas State
The Wildcats are a legitimate national title contender partly on talent, but they’re also one of the most sound teams in the country. Kansas State has committed the third-fewest penalties in the country after Navy and Air Force and ranks seventh nationally in turnover margin.
Others: Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald, Rutgers’ Kyle Flood, Ohio State’s Urban Meyer, Florida’s Will Muschamp, Penn State’s Bill O’Brien, Oregon State’s Mike Riley

Broyles Award (top assistant)
Our leader: Art Kaufman, Texas Tech
Texas Tech allowed 53 points in a triple overtime win over TCU, but the Red Raiders have gone from giving up 485.6 yards per game to allowing 282 in the first season under defensive coordinator Art Kaufman. Collin Klein and Kansas State are up next.
Others: Oregon State’s Mark Banker, Notre Dame’s Bob Diaco, Alabama’s Kirby Smart

by David Fox

@davidfox615

Teaser:
<p> College Football Award Watch: Post-Week 8</p>
Post date: Friday, October 26, 2012 - 06:11
Path: /college-football/michigan-wolverines-vs-nebraska-cornhuskers-preview-and-prediction
Body:

The battle to win the Big Ten Legends Division is still one of the most clouded races in college football. However, there could be some clarity after this weekend’s games. Michigan is the Legends Division’s only unbeaten team in conference play so far, recording wins over Illinois, Purdue and Michigan State. Nebraska and Iowa are tied for second with a 2-1 mark, while Northwestern checks in fourth at 2-2.

With Michigan State off to a 1-3 start, the Wolverines and Cornhuskers appear to be the class of the division. And the winner of Saturday’s game should take a huge step forward in claiming the division title. Michigan has a very manageable schedule the rest of the season, as it should be favored to win every game except the season finale against Ohio State. Nebraska’s schedule features a few more landmines, especially with a road trip to Michigan State and a home game against Penn State.

These two teams have met seven times, with Michigan owning a slight 4-2-1 edge over the Cornhuskers. Nebraska’s only win since 1962 came in the 2005 Alamo Bowl. This last year’s matchup will only be the second between these two teams as Big Ten foes.

Storylines to watch in Michigan vs. Nebraska

Will Rex Burkhead play?
High expectations surrounded Nebraska running back Rex Burkhead coming into this season, but the senior suffered a knee injury against Southern Miss and has been limited to 47 rushing attempts in 2012. Burkhead aggravated his knee injury in last week’s win at Northwestern and is questionable to play against Michigan. With Burkhead likely out or less than 100 percent, the Cornhuskers will turn to a talented trio of young running backs in Ameer Abdullah, Braylon Heard and Imani Cross to pickup the slack. Abdullah led the team with 101 yards against the Wildcats last week and is expected to start this Saturday. Heard and Cross should see an increased role, especially as both bring more size and punch to the rushing attack. As usual, quarterback Taylor Martinez will figure into the ground game, and he rushed for 65 yards on 18 attempts last week. Even though Burkhead will be missed, Nebraska should be able to run the ball against Michigan’s defense. The Wolverines rank 49th nationally against the run but held Michigan State running back Le’Veon Bell under 70 yards last Saturday. After struggling to stop Alabama and Air Force, Michigan has tightened its rush defense, but Nebraska will be a huge test for this unit.

Containing Denard Robinson
In last season’s matchup, Robinson accounted for 263 overall yards and four touchdowns. Nebraska can’t afford to let Robinson have his way again this season, and there’s a lot of pressure on coach Bo Pelini and coordinator John Papuchis to find the right answers this week, especially after the defense has allowed 11 rushing touchdowns in the last three games. Nebraska’s defense managed to hold Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter to just 35 rushing yards last week and a similar effort is needed against Robinson if the Cornhuskers want to knock off the Wolverines.

Winning the turnover battle
Holding onto the ball has been a big problem for both teams this season. Michigan is ninth in the Big Ten in turnover margin and has lost 14 turnovers. Nebraska is last in the conference, losing 18 turnovers in 2012. Most of the Wolverines’ turnover problems came in the non-conference portion of their schedule, while the Cornhuskers have forced only two fumbles in Big Ten play. Turnovers are always a key part of any game but with both teams struggling in this department, generating points on a short field would be a huge advantage on Saturday night.

Can Michigan establish its ground game against Nebraska’s rush defense?
Take out Denard Robinson’s 900 yards and Michigan is a very average rushing offense. Fitzgerald Toussaint has just 283 yards and four touchdowns on 81 attempts, with Thomas Rawls ranked third on the team with 174 yards. Robinson will have opportunities to make plays with his legs against the Cornhuskers, but the Wolverines also need Toussaint or Rawls to step up. Nebraska’s rush defense ranks 90th nationally and has allowed a 100-yard rusher in each of the last two games. Michigan’s offensive line has improved significantly from the season opener, which is a bad sign for the Cornhuskers’ struggling front seven. The Wolverines won’t need 100 yards from Toussaint, but this offense needs to take some of the pressure off of Robinson’s shoulders.

Taylor MartinezTaylor Martinez vs. Michigan’s secondary
Statistically, the Wolverines have been very good against the pass this year. Michigan ranks fourth nationally in pass defense and has allowed only four passing scores. However, this secondary has not faced a legitimate passing attack since the season opener against Alabama. Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez struggled in last season’s meeting between these two teams but is a much-improved passer. The junior has thrown for 15 touchdowns and has yet to throw an interception at home this season. Considering the progress Martinez has made this season, he should easily outperform last season’s abysmal showing in Ann Arbor. Nebraska also has one of the deepest groups of receivers in the Big Ten, which should allow Martinez and coordinator Tim Beck opportunities to see if Michigan’s secondary is as good as the stats indicate.  

Final Analysis

This matchup is relatively even, but a slight edge goes to Michigan. Taylor Martinez and his receivers will test the Wolverines’ secondary, but Nebraska’s defense will struggle to stop Denard Robinson. Expect Michigan’s defense to make one play late in the game that seals the victory for the Wolverines.

Final Prediction: Michigan 31-27
 

Related College Football Content

ACC Week 9 Preview and Predictions
Big East Week 9 Preview and Predictions

Big Ten Week 9 Preview and Predictions

Big 12 Week 9 Preview and Predictions

Pac-12 Week 9 Preview and Predictions

SEC Week 9 Preview and Predictions

Teaser:
<p> Michigan Wolverines vs. Nebraska Cornhuskers Preview and Prediction</p>
Post date: Friday, October 26, 2012 - 06:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/college-football-betting-against-spread-week-9
Body:

Every Friday for entertainment purposes only, I will bring you my top college football picks against the spread. I do not condone, approve or encourage gambling on sports in any way. But if you are a fan of football — college or pro — and you don't think gambling has played a huge role in the growth and popularity of the sport, then you are simply being ignorant. And behind closed doors, the powers that be understand the impact betting has had on the game of football.

2012 Record Against The Spread: 35-25
Last Week: 3-2

Note: All lines are as of date of publication

Northern Illinois (-7) at Western Michigan
Western Michigan has lost two straight games by allowing 71 to Ball State and Kent State. The Broncos have lost three of four games while the Huskies are on an absolute roll at the moment. Behind the play of star dual-threat QB Jordan Lynch, Northern Illinois has won seven straight, including the last two by an 82-10 margin. Lynch has 1,049 yards rushing and 1,710 yards passing with 13 touchdowns passing and rushing each. WMU won’t be able to stop him. Prediction: Northern Illinois -7

Utah State (-23) at Texas San-Antonio
The Aggies are the only team left in the nation unbeaten against the spread at 8-0. Texas-San Antonio has lost its last two games after allowing 86 points to Rice (34) and San Jose State (52). As a reminder, Utah State defeated San Jose State 49-27 two weeks ago. Chuckie Keeton is on a roll — try 530 yards passing, 128 yards rushing and eight total touchdowns in his last two games — so expect Gary Andersen’s bunch to roll past the Roadrunners. Prediction: Utah State -23

Ball State (-4) at Army
Army is 2-5 against the spread this fall while Ball State is 6-2 against the number. I have picked against Army twice this year (Wake Forest, Kent State) and both delivered. They have one win all year and are allowing 37.9 points per game. Ball State has scored 71 points in two straight conference wins to get to within one game of bowl eligibility. Prediction: Ball State -4

Maryland (+2) at Boston College
The Eagles have yet to win a game over an FBS opponent and have been pounded by 64 combined points the last two weeks. They are also 1-6 against the spread this fall. The Terps are one of the most improved teams in the nation and nearly won their fifth game last weekend against NC State. There is a chance at bowl eligibility for Maryland, but a win this weekend is a must. Prediction: Maryland +2

Texas A&M (-14) at Auburn
Somebody in Vegas was completely inebriated when the original line opened at 8.5. The line moved quickly to a two-touchdown spread as bettors pounced on the Aggies. After all that movement, I am sticking with Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M to crush the hapless Tigers. Auburn, who is 2-5 against the spread this year, is last in the SEC in total offense, scoring offense, rushing defense, sacks allowed and passing efficiency. Texas A&M is leading the league in rushing, total offense and scoring and are coming off of a loss. Prediction: Texas A&M -14

Michigan State (+6) at Wisconsin
The Badgers are playing their best football of late, winning three straight Big Ten games by an average of 22 points (and a minimum of 17). The Spartans have lost three out of four and are 2-6 against the spread this fall. This has been a close game the last four meetings and the Spartans' defense is still fairly strong, but this offense has scored two offensive touchdowns in its last two games. It will need to score at least three to cover the spread this weekend. Prediction: Wisconsin -6

Western Kentucky (-7) at FIU
The Hilltoppers are coming off of a crushing one-point overtime home loss to UL Monroe and has to win out to earn a share of the Sun Belt title. Western Kentucky is 6-1 against the spread this year while FIU has struggled mightily this fall. The Panthers are losers of six straight and have allowed at least 34 points in four straight games. Look for WKU to bounce back this weekend. Prediction: Western Kentucky -7

- by Braden Gall

@bradengall

2012 Trends Against the Spread:

Undefeated ATS: Utah St (8-0)

Winless ATS: Virginia (0-7-1)

One Loss Against the Spread Two Losses ATS One Win ATS Two Wins ATS
Arizona St (5-1-1) Ball St (6-2) Boston College (1-6) Arkansas (2-5)
Florida (6-1) Clemson (5-2) C. Michigan (1-6) Army (2-5)
Fresno St (7-1) Duke (6-2) Colorado (1-6) Auburn (2-5)
Kansas St (5-1-1) La. Tech (5-2) Colorado St (1-6) Georgia (2-5)
Kent St (6-1) Mississippi St (5-2) Idaho (1-7) Illinois (2-5)
UL Monroe (6-1) New Mexico (6-2) Miami, Ohio (1-6) Iowa (2-5)
Ole Miss (6-1) N. Illinois (6-2)   Kentucky (2-6)
Northwestern (7-1) Oklahoma (4-2)   UMass (2-5)
Oregon St (5-1) Rutgers (5-2)   Michigan St (2-6)
Penn St (6-1) S. Carolina (6-2)   Nevada (2-6)
San Jose St (6-1) Texas St (4-2)   NC State (2-4-1)
Texas Tech (6-1) Toledo (6-2)   USC (2-5)
W. Kentucky (6-1) UNLV (6-2)   S. Miss (2-5)
      Syracuse (2-5)
      Tennessee (2-5)
      UTEP (2-6)
      Virginia Tech (2-6)
      Washington St (2-5)
      West Virginia (2-5)

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ACC Week 9 Previews and Predictions
Big East Week 9 Previews and Predictions

Big Ten Week 9 Previews and Predictions

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Pac-12 Week 9 Previews and Predictions

SEC Week 9 Previews and Predictions

Top 20 Coaches on the Hot Seat Post-Week 8 Rankings

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Teaser:
<p> College Football Betting Against the Spread: Week 9</p>
Post date: Friday, October 26, 2012 - 06:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, NFL
Path: /nfl/2013-nfl-draft-rankings-offensive-tackles
Body:

It is never too early to begin looking ahead to next year's NFL Draft. Each year a unique set of prospects enters the professional ranks with a chance to make an immediate impact on the country's most powerful sport. The 2013 NFL Draft won’t be any different.

Today, we rank college football's best offensive tackles prospects:

1. Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M (6-6, 310, Jr.)
The big blocker from Arlington, Texas, has seen his level of competition increase significantly with the shift to the SEC. He has faced LSU and Florida and he gave his team a chance to win both times. He has perfect size, power and fundamentals to play the prototypical left tackle position. He leads the way on an offense that is one of, if not the, best in the SEC with a record-setting quarterback.

2. Jake Matthews, Texas A&M (6-5, 305, Jr.)
No player may ever enter the NFL with a better pedigree than Matthews. His father is Hall of Famer Bruce Matthews. His older brother, Kevin, started for two seasons along the Aggies' offensive line. The Missouri City, Texas, native has tremendous knowledge of the game and a refined overall technique — as expected from a prospect who comes from the Matthews family tree. It means he is developed and should contribute immediately, but it could also mean his upside is more limited than his teammate.

3. D.J. Fluker, Alabama (6-6, 335, Jr.)
Coming out of high school in Foley, Ala., Fluker was considered one of the biggest prospects in Alabama history. He was a surefire can’t-miss superstar. It took him some time to adapt to the SEC, but he has blossomed into one of the better tackles in the nation. He has a huge, powerful frame, has the best coaching in the country, has a national championship ring and has faced the nation’s best defensive lineman in the SEC.

4. Taylor Lewan, Michigan (6-8, 310, Jr.)
Center David Molk led this offensive line in 2011 and Lewan took over that role this season. He has faced defensive lines like Alabama, Notre Dame, Michigan State, Nebraska, Ohio State and Wisconsin. He has one of the longer frames in this class and plays an aggressive brand of football (as was evident by his numerous penalties early in his career). He is a bit unrefined and may not be ready to start right away but has loads of upside.

5. Ricky Wagner, Wisconsin (6-6, 320, Sr.)
The Bagders have been churning out excellent lineman for the better part of two decades and this offense has been amongst the nation’s best over the last few seasons. He has a solid frame and is an excellent athlete for his size but questions remain about his overall upside. Players like Whitney Mercilus and William Gholston have been able to play effectively against him. He might be more of a right tackle as his overall toughness and consistency needs to improve.

6. Dallas Thomas, Tennessee (6-5, 310, Sr.)
He isn’t the biggest prospect so he may not stick at tackle, but he is one of the more versatile. This offense has shown marked improvement over the last few seasons with Thomas’ leadership. He played relatively well against elite level competition in Florida, Georgia, Mississippi State, Alabama and South Carolina on the slate this fall. Where scouts evaluate his long-term future will largely determine if he lands in the first round or not.

7. Eric Fisher, Central Michigan (6-8, 305, Sr.)
The scouting report should be fairly easy to pinpoint for the big guy from Rochester, Mich. He has great size, has been a steady force on the edge for the Chippewas and large questions remain about his level of competition. There has been some talent to come from CMU along the line of late but dominating the MAC doesn’t mean you can block in the NFL. He has all the tools needed and simply needs to prove he can handle the jump in talent.

8. Brennan Williams, North Carolina (6-7, 315, Sr.)
The steady road grader has watched his stock steadily climb over the last two seasons after finally earning a starting spot as a junior. He has proven to be a tremendous commodity in the running game and will need to prove himself against elite pass rushers at events like the Senior Bowl. He is one of the bigger players at his position, but scouts need to figure out if the Tar Heels' O-Line is greater than the sum of its parts. Both Hurst and Williams team with elite guard Jonathan Cooper to form one of the better units in the ACC.

9. James Hurst, North Carolina (6-7, 290, Jr.)
One of the top recruits in the nation from Plainfield, Ind., Hurst started 12 games as a  true freshman back in 2010. He has improved each season and has a chance to sneak up draft boards with an excellent 2012 campaign. While the ACC gets knocked for its overall talent, programs like Virginia Tech, Miami and Florida State have excellent defensive lineman that offer scouts a quality barometer for Hurst'a ability and potential. He has a huge frame and is an above average athlete for his size. He may be a bit of a project but has plenty of upside.

10. Oday Aboushi, Virginia (6-6, 310, Sr.)
The Cavs have a sneaky good tradition of offensive lineman and Aboushi is the next name. He won’t be considered elite until he proves he can consistently be a dominant force. At times, he is the prototypical blocker with great size, solid quickness and a killer instinct. Other times, his play is rough around the edges and he will get beat. Added strength would go a long way towards improving his draft stock.

11. John Wetzel, Boston College (6-8, 305, Sr.)
Wetzel is next in a long line of excellent Eagles' offensive line prospects.

12. Alex Hurst, LSU (6-6, 340, Sr.)
Has dropped due to poor 2012 campaign but still has lots of talent.

13. Cyril Richardson, Baylor (6-5, 335, Jr.)
Massive prospect might have to slide inside (which would improve his stock).

14. Brian Winters, Kent State (6-6, 295, Sr.)
A bit undersized and competition is a question, but loads of upside.

15. David Yankey, Stanford (6-5, 300, Jr.)
Hails from a program known for physical, pro-style schemes.

16. Xavier Nixon, Florida (6-6, 295, Sr.)
Nation’s No. 1 OL prospect as a recruit needs to add size and consistency.

17. Chris Faulk, LSU (6-6, 320, Jr.)
Would likely be better off rehabbing this fall and returning to LSU.

18. Justin Pugh, Syracuse (6-6, 295, Sr.)
Not an overly talented prospect but a long-time starter and dependable.

19. Elvis Fisher, Missouri (6-5, 300, Sr.)
Has dealt with numerous injuries that will limit his upside.

20. Tanner Hawkinsson, Kansas (6-6, 295, Sr.)
Has a tough job in Lawrence, but has size and overall talent to contribute.

Other names to watch:

Zach Martin, Notre Dame (6-4, 305, Sr.)
Seantrel Henderson, Miami (6-8, 340, Jr.)
Jeff Braun, West Virginia (6-5, 320, Sr.)
Emmett Cleary, Boston College (6-7, 313, Sr.)
LaAdrian Waddle, Texas Tech (6-6, 330, Sr.)
Oscar Johnson, Louisiana Tech (6-6, 330, Sr.)
Luke Marquardt, Azusa Pacific (6-9, 320, Sr.)
Roger Gaines, Tennessee Tech (6-7, 320, Sr.)
David Quessenberry, San Jose State (6-6, 295, Sr.)
Lane Johnson, Oklahoma (6-7, 305, Sr.)

- by Braden Gall

@bradengall

Related NFL Draft Rankings By Position:

2013 NFL Draft: Running Backs

2013 NFL Draft: Tight Ends
2013 NFL Draft: Safeties

2013 NFL Draft: Defensive Tackles

2013 NFL Draft: Wide Receivers

2013 NFL Draft: Offensive Tackles

2013 NFL Draft: Inside Linebackers

Teaser:
<p> 2013 NFL Draft Rankings: Offensive Tackles</p>
Post date: Friday, October 26, 2012 - 06:00
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, NFL, Fantasy
Path: /nfl/2012-fantasy-football-start-or-sit-week-8
Body:

It’s Week 8 of the NFL season, which also marks the halfway point of the bye weeks. By the time Thanksgiving rolls around, all teams will have gotten their one-week respite, which means fantasy owners will only have to worry about injuries or a coach’s decision keeping their main players off of the field. Until then, four teams will be on bye each of the next four weeks, which means there are still plenty of who’s in, who’s out questions that need to be answered.

Athlon Sports is here to help you make all of those important lineup decisions for your Yahoo!, NFL.com or ESPN fantasy football league with our weekly Start and Sit suggestions. Keep in mind these are merely our suggestions as the ultimate decision comes down to you, the owner.

Week 8 Positional Rankings

Week 8 Waiver Wire

Bye week teams: Baltimore, Buffalo, Cincinnati, Houston

Sneaky Start of the Week
Vick Ballard, RB, Indianapolis at Tennessee
Ballard was handed the Colts’ starting job after Donald Brown was sidelined because of knee surgery. Brown’s closer to returning, but if Ballard can build on his performance from last week, the Colts' backfield will be that much deeper.

Ballard’s first career start against the Jets was entirely forgettable (8 att., 25 yds.), but he bounced back nicely last week against Cleveland. The rookie out of Mississippi State had 84 yards rushing on 20 carries (4.2 ypc), including a long of 26.

He will have the opportunity to take the next step this week against Tennessee. The Titans are 28th in the league in rush defense (134.7 ypg) and are allowing the third-most fantasy points to opposing running backs. The fewest fantasy points the Titans have given up to any team’s backfield so far is 16.7 to the Vikings in Week 5.

Surprise Sit of the Week
Dwayne Bowe, WR, Kansas City vs. Oakland
As bad as Matt Cassel has been this season, there’s no guarantee new starter Brady Quinn will fare any better. Quinn threw for just 180 yards and two interceptions in his first start in Week 6 against Tampa Bay, but he will get another shot this Sunday at home against Oakland.

Coming off of the bye week, the Chiefs decided to stick with Quinn rather than going back to Cassel. As of right now, the safest fantasy bet in KC is probably Jamaal Charles. After that it’s play-at-your-own-risk when it comes to the Chiefs and that includes Bowe, their No. 1 wide receiver.

Bowe’s numbers weren’t spectacular with Cassel under center, but two weeks ago with Quinn pulling the trigger he had just three catches (on nine targets) for only 25 yards. Prior to that game, Bowe was averaging 13.6 yards per reception.

Bowe is more of a vertical threat than a possession-type of receiver, and Quinn’s 4.7 ypc average (180 yards on 22 completions), which is what he produced against the Buccaneers, does not bode well for the wideout’s fantasy outlook.

Quarterbacks
START

Philip Rivers (SD) at Cleveland
I am fully aware that Rivers turned the ball over six times (4 INTs, 2 fumbles) the last time he played. That said, just as I stated last week, I still believe in Rivers, especially given who he will be facing on Sunday, Cleveland. The Browns are allowing the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks and only two starters have scored fewer than 24.6 points against them. The turnovers are certainly frustrating and something that will hopefully be corrected, but if the Browns’ track record is any indication, Rivers should be able to bounce back this week.

Carson Palmer (OAK) at Kansas City
Take out his Week 4 showing against Denver and Palmer is averaging 21 fantasy points per game. That average over those five games would be eighth among all quarterbacks for the season, higher than Eli Manning, Andrew Luck, Michael Vick and Cam Newton, to name a few. The lack of touchdown passes (7) is what is really holding Palmer’s fantasy production back, but this could change against Kansas City. The Chiefs have given up 13 touchdown passes compared to just four interceptions.

Brandon Weeden (CLE) vs. San Diego
Weeden has put together a streak of three productive outings in which he has averaged 20.8 fantasy points during this stretch. He could make it four in a row on Sunday as San Diego is allowing the eighth-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. The Chargers have surrendered 14 touchdown passes in six games, with half of these coming in their last two games. Granted, Weeden isn’t anything close to the level of a Drew Brees or Peyton Manning, but as long as he plays like he has been lately (6 TDs, 3 INTs last three games), he should be able to post some decent numbers against the Chargers at home.

SIT
Matthew Stafford (DET) vs. Seattle
It’s been brought up before, but needs to be reiterated. Through his first six games last season, Stafford had thrown 13 touchdown passes compared to just four interceptions. After six games this season, that ratio reads 5:6. To put it another way, Stafford had at least two touchdown passes in his first six games of the 2011 season. He is still looking for his first game with at least two scoring strikes this season. And I wouldn’t count on it coming this Sunday either considering that Seattle has given up a total of five touchdown passes in seven games. The Seahakws have already played (and beaten) Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Cam Newton and Tony Romo.

Alex Smith (SF) at Arizona (Monday)
Smith started the season strong, posting back-to-back 22-point games, but outside of his 35-point explosion against Buffalo in Week 5, his production has plummeted. Smith has scored fewer than 14 fantasy points in four of his past five games, including just 2.5 in a Week 6 loss to the Giants. It seems that the coaching staff is showing less faith in Smith and the passing game lately, and his case isn’t helped any by the fact that Arizona is giving up the second-fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. Unless the 49ers play the Bills again, it’s probably safest to go with someone other than Smith at quarterback.

John Skelton (ARI) vs. San Francisco (Monday)
Skelton won the starting job in Arizona in the preseason, but suffered an ankle injury in the Cardinals’ Week 1 win over Seattle. He got his job back finally in Week 7 as Kevin Kolb went down with a rib injury against Buffalo the previous week. Kolb hasn’t had much chance to show what he’s capable of, but unless his offensive line can do a better job of protecting him (NFL-worst 35 sacks allowed) it won’t matter. The match up with San Francisco, the league’s No. 3 defense against the pass, doesn’t help Skelton’s fantasy outlook either.

Running Backs
START

Willis McGahee (DEN) vs. New Orleans
Believe it or not, but McGahee is 14th among his position in fantasy scoring, ahead of Darren McFadden, Chris Johnson and Reggie Bush, among others. McGahee has obviously been overshadowed by Peyton Manning’s Denver debut, but it’s not like the Broncos have stopped running the ball either. McGahee has at least 14 carries in every game but one and better yet he has New Orleans on tap. The Saints are 31st in the league against the run (161 ypg) and Manning is smart enough to exploit a weakness in a defense when he sees it. I think McGahee will be both busy and productive this Sunday night.

Rashad Jennings (JAC) at Green Bay
Maurice Jones-Drew will likely miss several games with a sprained foot. MJD's injury opens the door for his backup,  Jennings, who himself missed two games earlier this season with a knee injury. The Jaguars also could be without starting quarterback Blaine Gabbert, who tore the labrum in his non-throwing shoulder last week, leaving Chad Henne under center against Green Bay. Either way, Jennings should get his chance to carry the load and the Packers have been somewhat susceptible to the run (109.9 ypg, 17th overall). This also is a guy who averaged 5.4 yards per carry in 2009-10 combined. May as well find out what he can do, right?

Jonathan Dwyer (PIT) vs. Washington
Who needs Rashard Mendenhall or Isaac Redman when you’ve got Dwyer. All Dwyer did was rush for a team season-high 122 yards on 17 carries in last week’s win In Cincinnati. Prior to that, the most any Steeler had rushed for in a game was 81 yards by Mendenhall in Week 5 against Philadelphia. There’s a chance that Mendenhall (Achilles) and Redman (ankle) could play this Sunday against Washington, but it wouldn’t surprise me if Mike Tomlin turned to Dwyer to carry the load once again. The Redskins have done a good job against the run, but I’m not going to bet against Dwyer, who you know will be fired up as he wants to show the coaching staff why he should remain the Steelers’ lead back.

SIT
Steven Jackson (STL) vs. New England (London)
Having produced seven straight 1,000-yard seasons, Jackson definitely has some tread on the tires, and it looks like it may be catching up to him this season. He has 380 yards rushing in seven games, which puts him on pace for 869 for the entire season. That’s not horrible by any stretch, but couple his reduced production with just one touchdown and you get the No. 26 running back in fantasy football. Injuries have played a role in his “decline” this season, as has the presence of backup Daryl Richardson. Worse for Jackson is the fact that New England is eighth in the league against the rush and have given up just two touchdowns to opposing running backs this season.

Trent Richardson (CLE) vs. San Diego
On paper, the conditions seemed right for Richardson to have his first breakout game as a rookie last week against Indianapolis. Or at least that’s what I thought. Instead of a breakout, however, what everyone saw was pretty much a breakdown, as Richardson’s rib injury was worse than he let on, resulting in him producing a measly eight yards rushing on as many carries. It got so bad that Richardson ended up getting benched for the second half as Montario Hardesty (7 att., 28 yds.) took over and finished the game. The coaching staff has already voiced their concern about Richardson's status for this week, so there’s a chance he may not even see the field this Sunday. Plus considering San Diego is allowing the fewest rushing yards per game in the league, this is shaping up to be a good week to leave the rookie on your bench.

DeAngelo Williams (CAR) at Chicago
Changes are coming in Carolina and I’m not jsut talking about the general manager who got fired earlier this week. There have been signs that the Panthers are changing their offense to feature more of a power running game with Jonathan Stewart assuming lead back duties. This certainly appeared to be the case last week against Dallas as Stewart led the way with 10 carries, while Williams got a total of two. He had only six carries the game prior that and for the season has a total of 177 yards rushing and two touchdowns. The Panthers have a lot of money invested in Williams, but it doesn’t look like he’s a big part of their current offensive plans.

Wide Receivers
START

Demaryius Thomas (DEN) vs. New Orleans
Thomas is a big target (6’3, 229) who also can get his fair share of yards after the catch. His 16.9 ypc average is ninth in the league, while his 269 yards after the catch (YAC) is third. He’s tied for the league lead with 12 receptions of 20 or more yards, and there’s no reason to think he won’t add to this total on Sunday night against New Orleans. For one, Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning is on a roll with three straight 300-3 games and two, the Saints are allowing the third-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers and 13.6 yards per reception. Besides Thomas, I also like fellow wideout Eric Decker to have a good game, although the same can’t be said for a Broncos tight end (see below)

Randall Cobb (GB) vs. Jacksonville
Over the past three games, Cobb is averaging 91 yards receiving per contest and the second-year pro from Kentucky caught two scoring strikes last week against the Rams. Considering the Packers have thrown the ball 41 more times compared to rush attempts in their last four games combined, there’s little reason to think Cobb won’t continue to get his chances. Not to mention that the Packers, who are on a nice little roll offensively, welcome the lowly Jaguars to Lambeau Field this Sunday.

Brandon Gibson (STL) vs. New England (London)
As good as New England has been against the run (eighth), the Patriots have been just as bad when it comes to pass defense. The Pats are 29th in the NFL in this category, allowing 290 yards per game through the air. They have given up 16 touchdown passes and just had Mark Sanchez light them up for 328 yards passing last week. The Rams will more than likely have to throw the ball to keep up against the Patriots, and given the numbers, Sam Bradford should have some success doing so. Gibson has become Bradford’s No. 1 option in place of the injured Danny Amendola, so he should be in prime position to capitalize against a defense that’s allowing the 10th-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers.

SIT
Michael Crabtree (SF) at Arizona (Monday)
Not surprisingly, Crabtree has pretty much gone as his quarterback, Alex Smith has gone (see above). Outside of a seven-catch, 113-yard game against Buffalo in Week 5, Crabtree has a total of 15 receptions for 112 yards and no scores in his four other games dating back to Week 3. He has only one touchdown on the season (came against the Bills) and is facing a 49ers defense this Monday night that has given up two touchdown receptions to opposing wide receivers. Smith isn’t a smart play this week and I think the same goes for Crabtree.

Brian Hartline (MIA) at New York Jets
It was only about a month ago when Hartline was one of football’s best early surprises after his 12-catch, 253-yard performance against Arizona. In his two games since, he’s caught a total of four passes and all of those came in Week 5 against Cincinnati. He didn’t catch a single pass in Miami’s last game against St. Louis, and this week he will face a Jets’ defense that’s allowing the fewest fantasy points to opposing wide receivers. This includes a Week 3 game against the Jets in which Hartline had one catch for 41 yards. This doesn’t mean Hartline’s still not a good story, I just don’t think it’s a good idea to start him this week.

Andre Roberts (ARI) vs. San Francisco (Monday)
Roberts is coming off of a game in which he caught seven passes for 103 yards and a touchdown, and he’s No. 13 among wide receivers in fantasy scoring. The problem I see, however, with using Roberts this week comes in the form of San Francisco’s defense. Not only are the 49ers surrendering the second-fewest fantasy points to opposing wide receivers period, they really aren’t permitting teams’ secondary receivers, such as Roberts, to do much of anything. With the exception of Week 1 (Green Bay), all 12 wide receivers not listed as No. 1 on their team’s depth chart that have played against the 49ers (and caught at least one pass) have scored a combined 46.9 fantasy points. That’s an average of 3.9 per wideout. I’m not saying Roberts can’t break this pattern, but between the 49ers’ track record and the problems the Cardinals’ offensive line has had protecting their quarterback (see John Skelton, above), let’s just say I don’t like his chances.

Tight Ends
START

Martellus Bennett (NYG) at Dallas
Bennett got off to an extremely strong start the first three games, a stretch that began with him going 4-40-1 against Dallas in Week 1. Bennett hasn’t been as productive since Week 4, but some of this can be blamed on a knee injury. He seems completely healthy once again after catching five passes for 79 yards against Washington last week. He’ll get another shot at tormenting his former team on Sunday, and it’s against a Cowboys’ defense that will be without leading tackler and signal-caller Sean Lee.

Brandon Myers (OAK) at KC
Myers has seen 17 targets combined in the last two games. He has turned those targets into 12 receptions for 106 yards. The only thing missing from his stat sheet this season is a touchdown. With as much trust as Raiders quarterback Carson Palmer has shown Myers (team-high 10 targets last week), I think that changes this Sunday in Kansas City.

SIT
Jared Cook (TEN) vs. Indianapolis
The Titans have won two games in a row, but Cook hasn’t necessarily played a big role in either of those victories. He’s had just six catches for 91 yards combined in those last two games. His diminishing presence in the offense could have something to do with the re-emergence of Chris Johnson and the running game. If that’s the case, don’t expect much more from Cook this week either as the Titans host Indianapolis and its 26th-ranked rush defense. On top of that, the Colts are allowing the fewest fantasy points to opposing tight ends.

Jacob Tamme (DEN) vs. New Orleans
Tamme is getting a fair share of catches (has 23, on pace for 61), but as everyone knows, Broncos’ quarterback Peyton Manning likes to spread the ball around. Being a tight end, Tamme’s best opportunity to produce would appear to be the red zone, but teammate Joel Dreessen has seemingly taken that role away from Tamme. Dreessen has three touchdown catches (compared to just one for Tamme), and all of them have come once the Broncos reach the opponent’s 20-yard line. For what it’s worth, I’m not sure either tight end will get many red zone looks in this game, as the Saints have allowed just one touchdown reception to a tight end, but if I had to pick a Bronco tight end to play, it would be Dreessen and not Tamme.

Defense/Special Teams
START

Green Bay vs. Jacksonville
Even though the Packers’ DST has scored just 62 fantasy points, good for 17th among the position, what’s not to like about this match up with Jacksonville? The Jaguars are last in the league in total, passing and scoring offense. They also may be without starting quarterback Blaine Gabbert, and even if he does play he will be doing so with a torn labrum in his non-throwing shoulder. Did I mention the game is at Lambeau Field?

Detroit vs. Seattle
Detroit lost on Monday night in Chicago, but what may been lost in the final score is how well the Lions’ defense played against the Bears. The Bears scored only 13 points and had less than 300 yards of total offense. The Lions’ defense has played better since the team’s Week 5 bye and now it gets a Seattle team at home that has a rookie quarterback. As well as Russell Wilson has played at home, he has a 2:7 touchdown-to-interception ratio in road games. Does anyone else think the Lions’ D is licking its chops?

SIT
Dallas vs. New York Giants

Statistically (4th in total defense, 3rd vs. pass, 15th vs. run, 14th in scoring defense) speaking, there are no glaring weaknesses when it comes to Dallas' defense. Unfortunately, the unit's on-field performance has not translated into fantasy success. The Cowboys’ DST is currently tied for 26th in fantasy scoring, behind the likes of Tennessee and Buffalo, who are currently 30th and 31st in total defense. Why is this? In standard leagues a DST’s value really comes down to sacks, turnovers and touchdowns. Dallas has 12, six and 0 in the aforementioned categories. As good as the Cowboys’ defense has played on the field, the unit simply isn’t scoring enough to merit fantasy consideration right now.

St. Louis vs. New England (London)
The Rams’ defense has played very well this season, ranking 10th in total defense and tied for 10th against the run. However, it’s been a little more susceptible to the pass (16th), something that Aaron Rodgers and the Packers took advantage of last week – try 342 yards passing and three touchdowns. On tap this week is Tom Brady and the Patriots in London. It may be a jolly good show for the locals gathered in Wembley Stadium on Sunday, but I don’t think that will be the case for the Rams’ D.

Kickers
START

Robbie Gould (CHI) vs. Carolina
I’m just not sure Jay Cutler will be 100 percent after sustaining that shot to his ribs this past Monday night. I think this may stymie, but not stifle, the Bears’ offense. Enter Gould and don’t lose sight of the fact that the Panthers have given up the most field goals to opponents.

Adam Vinatieri (IND) at TEN
Tennessee is allowing 34 points per game. If a team gets four touchdowns and two field goals, that would give them 34 points, right? Two field goals and four PATs would be at minimum 10 points for Vinatieri. Who wouldn’t take that from their kicker? Class dismissed.

SIT
Phil Dawson (CLE) vs. San Diego
Dawson has connected on all 12 of his field goal attempts, including four from 50 yards and out. While that’s impressive, San Diego has only given up four field goal attempts this season, the fewest in the league. I’m not expecting the Chargers to shut the Browns out, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see them continue to give up more six-point plays rather than three-pointers.

Justin Medlock (CAR) at Chicago
Chicago’s defense has given up six touchdowns to opposing offenses (one other touchdown came on an interception return, another on a fake field goal), while the unit has scored five of its own. Medlock has attempted a total of two field goals. Does anything else really need to be said here?

— By Mark Ross, published on Oct. 26, 2012

Teaser:
<p> 2012 Fantasy Football Start or Sit: Week 8</p>
Post date: Friday, October 26, 2012 - 06:00
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Athlon Sports continues its countdown to the start of the 2012-13 basketball season, which begins with the first games on Nov. 9, with a countdown of the nation’s top conferences. We will release one conference preview each day, counting down to the top conference. For profiles of every team in each conference, check out the 2012-13 Athlon Sports College Basketball annual available in the online store.

A year before Conference USA undergoes another major recalibration, at least one school hopes the status quo remains.

Memphis returned to the top of Conference USA last season, winning both the regular season and tournament titles for the first time since 2009, but the Tigers have yet to win an NCAA Tournament game since John Calipari left for Kentucky.

Along with Houston, SMU and UCF, Memphis is in its final season in C-USA before joining the Big East. Marshall, which has not reached the NCAA Tournament since 1987, has all the tools to spoil Memphis’ final season in a league it dominated from 2005-09.

ATHLON ALL-CONFERENCE USA TEAM CONFERENCE USA FACTS AND FIGURES
G Joe Jackson, Memphis 2011-12 regular season champion: Memphis
G DeAndre Kane, Marshall 2012 NCAA Tournament teams: Memphis#, Southern Miss
G/F Adonis Thomas, Memphis* New coaches: Larry Brown (SMU), Jerod Haase (UAB),
F Keith Clanton, UCF Danny Manning (Tulsa), Donnie Tyndall (Southern Miss)
F Tarik Black, Memphis Realignment: None
*preseason player of the year #conference tournament champion

 

 

 

 

2012-13 CONFERENCE USA PREVIEW

1. Memphis (26-9, 13-3)
Josh Pastner has done a tremendous job keeping Memphis relevant post-John Calipari, but he’s still looking for his first NCAA Tournament win. And though that might not be a problem nationally, it’s an issue locally and why Memphis needs to not only win C-USA but also advance in March. Otherwise, the program will be facing lots of questions as it transitions into the Big East next year. “But our focus is this year, not the Big East,” Pastner says. “We’re not thinking about the Big East. We just want to have the best year we can have this year because teams are not gonna want us to leave on a good note, which is why we’ll have to be extra sharp and extra good.”
Postseason prediction: NCAA two and out


Complete preview of No. 18 Memphis

2. Marshall (21-14, 9-7)
The return of DeAndre Kane — a 6-4 guard who averaged 16.5 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.5 assists last season — means Marshall will be really good in at least two spots. Joining him will be 6-8 forward Dennis Tinnon. In Tinnon, the Thundering Herd have a sixth-year senior who averaged 10.2 points and 10.0 rebounds as a junior to anchor their frontcourt in what could and probably should be a breakthrough campaign in Huntington. Put another way, the Thundering Herd can match C-USA favorite Memphis in at least two spots, and it’s possible they’ll also be improved at point guard thanks to the arrival of highly regarded freshman Kareen Canty. Canty is from Brooklyn and comes with the expected toughness people typically associate with such prospects. He probably won’t match the 14.7 points per game that the now-departed Damier Pitts averaged last season. But Canty should be better at creating scoring opportunities for Tinnon and Kane and thus could be better for this team in general.
Postseason prediction: NCAA First Four

3. UCF (22-11, 10-6)
UCF was undefeated, ranked nationally and widely recognized — back in December 2010 — as one of the nation’s emerging basketball programs led by an up-and-coming coach from the tree of Billy Donovan. Folks were excited about the future of the Knights, and for good reason. Things were headed in the right direction. But then a New York Times article uncovered recruiting improprieties, and the NCAA followed up. The result was a one-year postseason ban announced in July that ensures the Knights will not play in this season’s Conference USA Tournament or NCAA Tournament. Senior Keith Clanton (14.5 ppg, 8.1 rpg) resisted the urge to transfer without penalty, and he provides high-quality centerpiece. Isaiah Sykes (12.3 ppg) and Tristan Spurlock (7.2 ppg) are also back. But it still seems unlikely that the Knights will be capable of challenging Memphis at the top of C-USA, and, even if they do, they won’t play in the league tournament or NCAA Tournament, meaning coach Donnie Jones is guaranteed to enter his fourth year at UCF with zero NCAA appearances.

4. UTEP (15–17, 7–9) 
Tim Floyd has spent 18 seasons as a college head coach and produced winning records in 16 of them. So he’s been consistently good — first at Idaho, then at New Orleans, Iowa State, USC and UTEP. But last season was not one of the good seasons. The Miners finished 15–17 after several key players from the Tony Barbee era departed. But four of the top six scorers from last season’s team are back, and the thought throughout the league is that the Miners could be the surprise of C-USA. For what it’s worth, Floyd seems to think so, too. He scheduled aggressively and thus provided his Miners with plenty of opportunities to earn quality victories that might be needed to secure an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. The star of the team figures to be John Bohannon, a 6'10" center who led UTEP with 11.5 points and 7.3 rebounds per game last season. Bohannon shot 58.5 percent from the field and scored 10 points or more in all but four league games. Assist leader Jacques Streeter also returns to a team that defeated Auburn, Clemson and New Mexico State in the nonconference schedule. They’re two of four returning Miners who averaged at least 20 minutes in 2011-12 and the main reason — but far from the only reason — Floyd should record a winning record for the 17th time in 19 seasons as a college head coach.

5. Southern Miss (25–9, 11–5)
Larry Eustachy’s eighth season with the Golden Eagles doubled as his finest, and he predictably used the trip to the NCAA Tournament as a launching pad out of Southern Miss, where basketball just isn’t a priority. So now Eustachy is at Colorado State. His replacement in Hattiesburg is Donnie Tyndall, a man who averaged 22 wins per season over the past four years at Morehead State but will probably have a tough time hitting that number for a fifth straight year at this new job. Why? Because three of USM’s top five scorers from last season — namely Darnell Dodson, Maurice Bolden and Angelo Johnson — were seniors, and the team’s second-leading scorer (South Carolina native LaShay Page) transferred to South Carolina this offseason reportedly to be closer to his 5-year-old daughter. That leaves junior guard Neil Watson (12.3 ppg) and senior forward Jonathan Mills (9.5 ppg) as the lone returning Golden Eagles who averaged at least three points per game last season. Watson also led the team in assists (4.4 apg) and shot 37.5 percent from 3-point range. Mills, a 6'6" native of Chicago, led the Golden Eagles in rebounding with 6.1 per game. Help may be on the way in 2013-14 when four key transfers, including new faces from Temple and Minnesota, will be eligible. That injection of talent will be stuck on the practice squad, so don’t expect Southern Miss to challenge Memphis or even Marshall at the top of Conference USA. However, the Golden Eagles should still be solid enough to finish in the top half of the league.

6. Houston (15–15, 7–9)

It’s been a while since Houston was able to take advantage of the terrific talent in the area and field a reasonably interesting college basketball team, which is why what happened last September was such a big deal. That’s when Danrad “Chicken” Knowles and Danuel House committed to Houston and created a reason to be optimistic. Both Knowles, a power forward, and House, a small forward, are consensus top-75 national recruits who would be welcome additions almost anywhere. But their arrival at Houston is especially noteworthy because they project as a duo capable of helping the Cougars transition to the Big East next year. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. There’s still one more season in C-USA to be played, and Houston will play it without its top two scorers (Jonathon Simmons and Alandise Harris) from last season. But Joseph Young (11.3 ppg) and TaShawn Thomas (10.7 ppg) are back in school. J.J. Thompson didn’t score much, but the point guard tied for the team lead in assists (75) in 19 starts as a freshman. He’ll need to trim his turnovers (64). Still, that’s two double-digit scorers and two heralded recruits on the roster, which isn’t a bad combination for this league. Bottom line, the Cougars are a smart sleeper pick in Conference USA.

7. East Carolina (15–16, 5–11)

The good news is that the Pirates return six of their top seven scorers — including Miguel Paul, a former Missouri guard who averaged 15.2 points and 5.9 assists per game last season. And Maurice Kemp (10.5 ppg), Shamarr Bowden (8.3 ppg), Erin Straughn (5.7 ppg), Robert Sampson (5.6 ppg) and Paris Roberts-Campbell (5.2 ppg) provide depth and a total of six players on the roster who have averaged at least 19 minutes per game at the Division I level. But what does it all mean? On one hand, it’s encouraging if you focus on the fact that East Carolina won three of its final four games last season — including an overtime victory over Marshall. But on the other hand, this is merely a returning core that lost twice as many C-USA games as it won last season, and, truth be told, it’s pretty difficult to lose twice as many games as you win in a league as devoid of talent as C-USA typically is. East Carolina’s veterans must improve across the board, but especially in rebounding margin. The Pirates were one of three teams in the league on the negative end of that statistic. Something like a mostly forgettable .500 record in the league seems like the safest bet for veteran coach Jeff Lebo in his third season at East Carolina.

8. UAB (15–16, 9–7)
Nobody was shocked when Mike Davis was fired from Indiana after missing the NCAA Tournament in two of his final three seasons in Bloomington, but his dismissal at UAB was somewhat surprising. Davis led the Blazers to the NCAA Tournament in 2011 and averaged 21.4 wins over his final five seasons while finishing in the top three of the league four out of those five years. And that got him fired? Answer: Yes. The school hired North Carolina assistant Jerod Haase, who will probably need at least a couple of years to get UAB back to respectability (though the process should be expedited by the departures of Memphis, UCF, SMU and Houston to the Big East after this season), but he does have two of UAB’s top three scorers — Jordan Swing and Preston Purifoy — back from last year. Swing averaged 11.2 points per game last season, while Purifoy averaged 8.6. The Blazers also add guard Terence Jones, who started 73 games and averaged 9.4 points per game in three seasons at Texas A&M Corpus Christi. If either has a big junior season, the Blazers will crack the top half of C-USA but probably won’t be much better than that, regardless.

9. Rice (19–16, 8–8)

Arsalan Kazemi spent three years at Rice establishing himself as one of the best players in school history while averaging a double-double of 12.6 points and 10.1 rebounds in 95 career games. But after Rice had gone 14-34 in C-USA games in his career with the Owls, he transferred to Oregon. The defection of Kazemi was the biggest blow for a program that experienced an exodus of players this offseason, despite a rare winning season. Point guard Dylan Ennis transferred to Villanova, center Omar Oraby to USC, forward Jarelle Reischel to Rhode Island and forward David Chadwick to Valparaiso. Senior guard Tamir Jackson (10.5 ppg) will need to break out to give Rice a chance to remain competitive in Ben Braun’s fourth season.

10. Tulane (15–16, 3–13)

The Green Wave lost 13 of the 16 league games they played last season despite a nice freshman campaign from Ricky Tarrant. The guard from Alabama averaged 14.9 points per game, highlighted by a 33-point effort in a victory over SMU. He’s small but effective and the reason Tulane could make a move in the league after consecutive last-place finishes in Ed Conroy’s first two years in New Orleans. Tarrant headlines a group of five returnees who averaged at least 21 minutes per game last season and combined to average 58.7 points per game. The other double-digit scorers are Kendall Timmons (13.6 ppg and 5.2 rpg) and Jordan Callahan (11.8 ppg). Both are seniors. So don’t be surprised if the Green Wave use their experience to take advantage of the fact that 25 percent of the league has a new coach. The experience will come in handy in helping Tulane win on the road after going 0–8 in league road games last season.

11. SMU (13–19, 4–12)
The six-year run of Matt Doherty at SMU featured nothing better than a seventh-place finish in Conference USA (and four finishes of 11th or 12th). So regardless of how difficult the job might historically be, a change clearly needed to be made, and SMU made that change in the middle of last March to the surprise of absolutely no one. What came next was a coaching search of swings and misses at, among others, Marquette’s Buzz Williams and Memphis’ Josh Pastner before the school ultimately settled on Larry Brown — a 72-year-old icon with a history of changing jobs more regularly than TCU changes leagues. On the surface, the hire made little sense. Why settle on a man in his 70s one year before the program transitions from C-USA to the Big East? But then Brown hired a staff of associate head coach Tim Jankovich and assistants Jerrance Howard and Ulric Maligi, both of whom are established recruiters. So while there’s little reason to be excited about this season — the roster is mostly dismal with London Giles as the lone returning double-digit scorer — it’s now reasonable to be optimistic about the future of SMU basketball, provided, of course, that Brown sticks around for more than his usual couple of years.

Related: Larry Brown is back to school

12. Tulsa (17–14, 10–6)

A steady and troubling decline in attendance combined with a program headed nowhere prompted Tulsa officials to remove Doug Wojcik after seven seasons featuring zero NCAA Tournament appearances. His replacement is Danny Manning, a true legend of college basketball thanks to his march to the 1988 NCAA title — you remember Danny and the Miracles, right? — while playing for Larry Brown at Kansas. And though there’s reason to be optimistic about the hire — Manning is respected in coaching circles, for what it’s worth — the truth is that Tulsa is dealing with what most programs that endure coaching changes have to deal with, i.e., an exodus of talent that makes it difficult to compete immediately. In this case, the bad news was the departures of the Golden Hurricane’s starting backcourt — namely Jordan Clarkson and Eric McClellan. Clarkson averaged 16.5 points per game last season; McClellan averaged 8.5. Now Clarkson is with Frank Haith at Missouri and McClellan is with Kevin Stallings at Vanderbilt. Consequently, Scottie Haralson (11.1 ppg) is one of only four scholarship upperclassmen on the roster, and that kind of inexperience is simply tough for almost any coach not named John Calipari to overcome. Manning should be fine in time. But this year will be trying for the first-time head coach.

@AthlonSports

More previews for the 2012-13 season can be found in the Athlon Sports College Basketball annual available in the online store

Athlon Conference Previews and Power Rankings
12. Colonial
13. Sun Belt
14. MAC
15. Horizon

Athlon College Basketball Countdown:
1. Indiana
2. Louisville

3. Kentucky
4. Kansas
5. Syracuse
6. Michigan
7. Arizona
8. Ohio State
9. Duke
10. Michigan State
11. NC State
12. UCLA
13. UNLV
14. North Carolina
15. San Diego State
16. Missouri
17. Baylor
18. Memphis
19. Notre Dame

20. Florida

More from the 2012-13 College Basketball Preview:
Top 10 Freshmen for 2012-13

Impact Transfers for 2012-13
Coaches on the Hot Seat for 2012-13
10 Players Returning from Injury

Gonzaga leads International Dream Team

Teaser:
<p> 2012-13 College Basketball Countdown: Conference USA Preview</p>
Post date: Friday, October 26, 2012 - 05:44
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Larry Brown returns to the college game for the first time in 25 years. His task: Lead SMU back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1993.

By Michael Bradley

The sound was something like a cross between electronic Dubstep music and an alarm clock gone haywire.

“Uh, Larry, is that your phone?”

“Yes. Is it bothering you?”

“Not at all. It just doesn’t sound like a ringtone you might have.”

“I don’t like any of this mechanical stuff. My boy (L.J.) made me get it, and I don’t know how to change the ringer. I just learned how to text.”

If there is any better metaphor for 72-year old Larry Brown’s return to college coaching at SMU, that small episode is it. While submitting to questions over a speakerphone in his office, Brown endured three calls on the cell, each one triggering the aural explosion that was about as appropriate for him as Jimmy Durante’s “Inka Dinka Doo” would be for one of his players.

Brown is a basketball teacher. He would rather hold a three-hour practice than coach a game any day of the week. His love of the sport’s many intricacies has been well documented, and any point guard who has ever played for him knows how demanding he can be regarding the minutiae. That’s why he has come back to coaching. To teach. To motivate. To build character. Everything else is just, well, noise.

“Before I got too old, I wanted to share these ideas I have with other people,” Brown says in his trademark, drawn-out Brooklyn drone.

The trouble is, there are a lot of people out there who believe Brown is too old. That’s why his inability to remedy the space-age cell tone is so amusing. Inserting Brown’s be-bop personality into a hip-hop game isn’t easy. Take this year’s new NCAA ruling that coaches are now able to fire texts at will toward coveted recruits. The judgment comes too late for Kelvin Sampson and way too late for Brown. At a time when some coaches text more frequently than even the most ardent high school BFFs, and others have Twitter followings that rival those of movie stars (Kentucky’s John Calipari has 1.2 million Twitter followers), Brown isn’t just old school, he’s the basketball equivalent of a one-room schoolhouse.

“This texting and calling on the phone to kids, I don’t know how they enjoy talking to us,” Brown says. “Every time I’m on the phone, I feel like I’m an imposition to the family and the kid.

“But my staff keeps telling me I have to do it to show we care.”

So, Brown texts — slowly, deliberately, infrequently. He calls prospects and shows them love, er, interest. But most of all, he coaches basketball in an attempt to lift SMU from the Conference USA doldrums in time for the Mustangs’ 2013-14 move to the Big East. It’s a big task, and one that some don’t believe he can accomplish, even if he is the only coach in history with NCAA and NBA titles on his resume.

“He is old, old school,” says SMU assistant Tim Jankovich, who gave up a head-coaching gig at Illinois State to become coach-in-waiting under Brown. “You know what is never old, old school? Basketball. He has a passion to teach, and that allows him to connect with players. There is no disconnect there, although I wouldn’t ask him to merge e-mails for me.”

The soap opera surrounding Brown’s hire is quite interesting. It began with SMU’s decision to fire Matt Doherty, who compiled a 80–109 record in six seasons on The Hilltop, and never finished higher than seventh in league play. Not much drama there. But the subsequent search led the school to candidates like Marquette’s Buzz Williams, Saint Louis’ Rick Majerus, Harvard’s Tommy Amaker and Long Beach State’s Dan Monson — reportedly — none of whom wanted the gig. When SMU athletic director Steve Orsini turned to Brown, at the urging of school president R. Gerald Turner, he did so as a last resort. Less than a month later, Orsini was gone, fired by Turner who said in his statement that “a unified effort is required for future progress.” Those who read between the lines speculated Orsini was released because of an unwillingness to hire Brown.

Related: 2012-13 Conference USA Preview

Brown came to town and quickly informed four members of last year’s team that they should look for other places to play in 2012-13. That’s fairly standard stuff at big-time programs, but since the Ponies aren’t exactly big time, it caused a stir. SMU has had three 20-win seasons since 1988 and constantly has missed out on top prospects from the Dallas area. It prepares to enter the Big East with a team that has just 11 players — two of whom are walk-ons — on the roster. Although two transfers – from Illinois (Crandall Head) and Illinois State (Nic Moore) – will be eligible next year, SMU is a long way from competitiveness, even in C-USA.

Larry Brown NCAA Record
Year Team Record NCAA Tournament
1979-80 UCLA 22-10, 12-6 Pac-10 National runner-up
1980-81 UCLA 20-7, 13-5 Pac-10 Second round
1983-84 Kansas 22-10, 9-5 Big 8 Second round
1984-85 Kansas 26-8, 11-3 Big 8 Second round
1985-86 Kansas 35-4, 13-1 Big 8 Final Four
1986-87 Kansas 25-11, 9-5 Big 8 Sweet 16
1987-88 Kansas 27-11, 9-5 Big 8 National champion

 

“The challenge is huge,” Brown says. “We have nine [scholarship] kids in the program, and we’re moving into the Big East. A lot of these kids weren’t recruited to play in the Big East. But there is a lot of potential here. We have to get Texas kids to think we’re relevant and get them to believe we can get better.”

* * *

For the three years or so Larry Brown observed Villanova practice (in between coaching gigs) he was always on time and never left early. “And we had some long practices,” Wildcats coach Jay Wright says. There was that one day, when Brown had to go just as the workout ended. Usually, he stayed around to evaluate the players and talk basketball. But this day was different.

“He said it was his anniversary and that his wife (Shelly) was going to kill him,” Wright says. “He has a unique love for the game.”

It is somewhat comical to poke fun at Brown for returning to coaching -- he’ll be 72 when the season begins -- because the man has what Wright terms “energy” for basketball and an “amazing craving to share his knowledge.” That craving and his energy manifest themselves in a way that Wright terms “relentless.” Brown doesn’t tolerate malingerers. He doesn’t do shortcuts. One day after a practice, Wright watched Brown speak with Villanova big man Mo Sutton. After listening to Brown, Sutton said, “I got you, coach.” Brown replied, “No, Mo. You don’t got me. When I see you at practice tomorrow doing what I taught you, then you got me.”

During his time in the NBA, Brown was notorious for his rough treatment of players, particularly point guards. The fear some have is that his perfectionist tendencies won’t reach today’s players, particularly those on SMU’s current roster, who are not as talented as those Brown encountered on previous collegiate stops at UCLA and Kansas. Further, none of the Mustangs was alive when Brown led Danny Manning and the Jayhawks to the NCAA title in 1988 or lifted the Bruins to the national championship game eight years earlier.

Related: Manning takes over at Tulsa

The announcement that SMU had hired Brown sent players scurrying to the Internet to learn more about him. Forward Shawn Williams says any previous knowledge came from the infamous Allen Iverson “Practice?” press conference. Brown was coaching the Philadelphia 76ers at the time of the outburst. And Williams remembered that Brown coached the Pistons to the NBA title in 2004. But unlike the critics who believe SMU made a mistake hiring someone Brown’s age with his itinerant history, the players are thrilled to have him on campus.

“As soon as he took the job, the atmosphere on campus and in the athletic department changed,” senior guard London Giles says. “To be successful, a program has to have a lot of energy, and that’s what he has brought.”

A new NCAA rule allows coaches to work with players during the summer, and Brown has introduced himself by sharing his knowledge and cultivating an enthusiasm for playing the game, as he puts it, “the right way.”

“The guy is amazing,” Williams says. “For me, it’s been a blessing in disguise. I knew about him as a great coach, but until I met him, I didn’t really know his greatness. They say he’s (72), but he looks like he’s in his 40s. He’s a lot different from what I expected.

“I thought he’d come in as an old, grumpy man. He brings energy to practice every day. He’s the greatest coach I’ve ever been around, and I’ve only been with him four weeks.”

There is a concern Brown’s tenure at SMU will be brief, either due to his inherent restless nature — his longest stint at any of his previous 13 collegiate and professional stops has been six seasons, and most are shorter — or his age. That’s why he enticed Jankovich, who directed Illinois State for five seasons, to join his staff. The term “coach-in-waiting” doesn’t sit well with Brown, but he does acknowledge Jankovich carrying that designation will promote continuity with recruits and help the program remain stable as it grows.

“When you’re my age, people say, ‘The guy’s older, and he’s not going to be there long,’” Brown says. “And if you look at my track record, you want somebody on the staff like Tim.

“Tim’s given up a lot. He wanted to be here. He doesn’t want to see me step down, though. I’m fortunate he’s here.”

Brown is fortunate to be in Dallas, too. It gives him a chance to get back in the game after a nearly two-year hiatus following his devastating firing by Bobcats owner (and fellow North Carolina alum) Michael Jordan. It’s not an easy job, and Brown’s not an easy guy to play for, a big reason why he doesn’t stick around too long in one place. But when it comes to basketball knowledge and passion for the game, Brown is unparalleled. He’ll hope that’s enough for SMU to start its move forward.

And all that stuff about his not knowing anything about texting and cell-phone ring tones? Don’t consider it an indication that Brown is out of touch. He may be older, but he has plenty of fire still burning.

SMU is about to learn that.

@AthlonSports

More previews for the 2012-13 season can be found in the Athlon Sports College Basketball annual available in the online store

Athlon Conference Previews and Power Rankings
12. Colonial
13. Sun Belt
14. MAC
15. Horizon

Athlon College Basketball Countdown:
1. Indiana
2. Louisville

3. Kentucky
4. Kansas
5. Syracuse
6. Michigan
7. Arizona
8. Ohio State
9. Duke
10. Michigan State
11. NC State
12. UCLA
13. UNLV
14. North Carolina
15. San Diego State
16. Missouri
17. Baylor
18. Memphis
19. Notre Dame

20. Florida

More from the 2012-13 College Basketball Preview:
Top 10 Freshmen for 2012-13

Impact Transfers for 2012-13
Coaches on the Hot Seat for 2012-13
10 Players Returning from Injury

Gonzaga leads International Dream Team

Teaser:
<p> Larry Brown is back to school in return to college basketball</p>
Post date: Friday, October 26, 2012 - 05:40
Path: /college-basketball/kansas-star-danny-manning-starting-tulsa
Body:

One would imagine a 15-year NBA veteran and former No. 1 overall pick might have some trouble relating to the various personality types that populate a college basketball team. In many cases, that would be correct. Star players don’t have much in common with deep reserves or walk-ons. They might also struggle to connect with a player who has a gaping hole in his game.

Not Danny Manning. During his time in the NBA, he filled just about every job a player could. He was the star. The regular. The sub. The cheerleader. The veteran counselor. At the end of his career, he had to compensate for dwindling skills. Further, when he started college coaching, he began at the bottom, serving the full-time coaches by doing what he characterizes as “the grunt work” and never once complaining.

So, when a member of Manning’s Tulsa squad has a problem, he should know the coach likely has some experience he can draw on to help out.

“I understand the starter, the reserve and the bench player,” Manning says. “I’ve scored points, been a facilitator, been on the active list and not played at all. I’ve been the Sixth Man of the Year in the NBA [1998] and the ninth and 10th man on teams. My experience runs to just about every role on the basketball court.”


Related: Larry Brown is back to school at SMU

Manning spent nine seasons assisting Bill Self at Kansas — the school he lifted to the national title in 1988 as part of “Danny and the Miracles” with then-coach Larry Brown — beginning as director of player development and team manager before moving on to become a full-time aide. In a way, he was joining the family business, since his father, Ed, coached at Kansas under Brown and in the NBA for many years. But he was never in charge of a program, like Manning is. It was Ed’s death, in 2011, that convinced Manning he needed to work harder to become a head coach. When the Tulsa job became open, Manning was definitely interested.

“The biggest thing that opened my eyes in terms of putting a timeline on getting a head coaching job was when my father died,” Manning says. “I started to re-evaluate things.”

Many were surprised Manning got the job because few even knew he was a collegiate assistant. Even Manning admits “there was no idea I thought I’d get a job at this level.” Tulsa may not have strong name recognition, but the Golden Hurricane has employed three eventual national championship coaches (Self, Tubby Smith and Nolan Richardson). Manning’s challenge now is to take his vast playing experience, blend it with what he learned at Kansas and make Tulsa a Conference USA contender. His first impressions have been good.

“He’s a laid back guy, but on the court, he’s a different person,” Tulsa senior Scottie Haralson says. “He’s going to get after you and maximize your potential. He knows the game. There’s no question about that.”

Now, it’s time for Manning to transfer that knowledge to his players and show them how to work together and sacrifice for the good of the team.

Related: 2012-13 Conference USA preview

“The way I was taught the game was to do whatever I could to make the game easier for my teammates,” Manning says. “Whenever that compliment was bestowed on me, I felt it was the greatest compliment I could get from a teammate.”

If he wants compliments now, Manning will have to win games. Given his experience, he should know how to do that.

-By Michael Bradley
 

Teaser:
<p> Kansas star Danny Manning starting up at Tulsa</p>
Post date: Friday, October 26, 2012 - 05:28
All taxonomy terms: College Football, LSU Tigers, News
Path: /college-football/mathieu-among-4-former-lsu-players-nabbed-drug-arrest
Body:

Baton Rouge, LA (Sports Network) - Former LSU cornerback Tyrann Mathieu and three other ex-Tiger football players were arrested on drug possession charges Thursday following an apartment search conducted by Baton Rouge police.

Mathieu, a Heisman Trophy finalist last year who was kicked off the LSU team in August for repeated violations of the school's substance abuse policy, was charged with simple possession of marijuana following the search of his residence.

A release issued by the Baton Rouge Police Department stated the officers also found a marijuana grinder, a digital scale and 10 bags of high-grade marijuana. Seven of the bags were located in a backpack belonging to former Tigers defensive back Derrick Bryant, who was charged with possession with intent to distribute marijuana.

Also arrested was Jordan Jefferson, a three-year starter at quarterback for the Tigers whose eligibility had expired after last season, and former linebacker Karnell Hatcher. Both were cited with simple possession of marijuana, with Hatcher booked as a second offender.

Mathieu had re-enrolled at LSU this fall after completing the first two stages of rehabilitation at the Right Step recovery center in Houston, where he was being mentored by former NBA player and coach John Lucas, with the intention to rejoin the football program next season. However, Thursday's arrest has likely compromised those plans.

The 20-year-old would be eligible to enter the 2013 NFL Draft and still has two years of college eligibility remaining.

According to the report, police had been summoned to Mathieu's apartment by a maintenance worker at the complex who had engaged in a dispute with Jefferson after the ex-quarterback had attempted to force his way through a security gate.

Teaser:
<p> Former LSU cornerback Tyrann Mathieu and three other ex-Tiger football players were arrested on drug possession charges Thursday following an apartment search conducted by Baton Rouge police.</p>
Post date: Friday, October 26, 2012 - 05:03
Path: /mlb/top-10-bad-luck-wags-sports
Body:

Detroit Tigers ace Justin Verlander and America’s “it” girl Kate Upton are keeping it coy regarding their official relationship status. But dating the voluptuous bikini model is clearly not helping JV’s pitching. The AL’s reigning MVP and Cy Young winner was rocked by the San Francisco Giants in Game 1 of the World Series, allowing five runs in four innings of a losing effort.

Clearly, every man alive would love to do the Dougie, or Cat Daddy, or just about any dance with the 20-year-old bombshell. But it would be hard to pay attention to your curve ball after attending to her curves. Ask Justin Verlander.

Here’s a rundown of 10 other bad luck WAGs in recent sports history:

Jessica Simpson
Back when she was Tony Romo’s cowgirl, Simpson became Enemy No. 1 of Cowboy Nation. From wearing a pink jersey to taking a pre-playoff vacation to Cabo, Simpson made all the wrong moves. She is the perfect blueprint of what not to do as well as the definitive bad luck WAG.

Rihanna
Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp hit .249 with 28 HRs, 89 RBIs and had 19 steals the year he dated Barbados babe Ri-Ri. After the break up, Kemp was an MVP runner-up who hit .324 with 39 HRs, 126 RBIs and had 40 steals. Rihanna had more hits than Kemp did while they were dating.

Kim Kardashian
Both Reggie Bush and Miles Austin know the split stats with and without Ray J’s flick co-star and Kanye West’s current beautiful dark twisted fantasy. Kim K and her best asset end up putting football players on their backside.

Khloe Kardashian
After Lamar Odom married Khloe — who some have speculated to be O.J. Simpson’s illegitimate daughter — his life fell apart. He was traded from the L.A. Lakers to the Dallas Mavericks, berated publicly by Mark Cuban and had a bout with depression that bordered on mental breakdown. Other than that, though, things are great.

Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes
The late TLC star went chasing waterfalls and ended up with a scrub she didn’t want. In less lyrical words, volatile wide receiver Andre Rison cheated on her, so she set fire to his Atlanta mansion — the lowlight of a combustible relationship between two of Hot-lanta’s craziest residents.

Tawny Kitaen
Pitcher Chuck Finley filed for a restraining order against the actress after being attacked — a fight that allegedly included her stomping his foot with her high heel, pressing the car accelerator to the floorboard during the in-car domestic dispute. It’s a baseball superstition to leave your wife if she beats you up before going on Celebrity Rehab.

Anna Benson
Pitcher Kris Benson would have come and gone without anyone noticing him had it not been for his batwing crazy model wife. She was a dumpster fire with D-cups, telling Howard Stern that she would have sex with the entire Mets team if Kris ever cheated on her and generally sabotaging her husband’s middling career.

Madonna
The Material Girl has an all-star roster of athletes she has vogued with. Jose Canseco, Dennis Rodman and Alex Rodriguez all got into the groove with Madge. Those dudes get worse reviews than Guy Ritchie’s 2002 Madonna vehicle Swept Away.

Cameron Diaz
Back to A-Rod, whose nickname apparently isn’t just a reference to his name. Remember when the Bad Teacher fed him popcorn at Super Bowl XLV? Nothing has gone right for lucky No. 13 since then. He hit a rock bottom .120 (3-for-25) before getting benched in the AL playoffs this year.

Evelyn Lozada
Who? Oh yeah, the wacko from Basketball Wives who coincidentally left the lives of both Antoine Walker and Chad Ochocinco Johnson in shambles. You still probably don’t know who she is, but ‘Toine is penny-less and shimmy-less while Ocho is clearly no bueno, jobless and allegedly resorting to Twitter stalking.

Teaser:
<p> The top 10 beautiful women who have ruined athletes’ seasons, careers and/or lives — including Kate Upton, Jessica Simpson, Rihanna, Kim Kardashian, Khloe Kardashian, Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes, Tawny Kitaen, Anna Benson, Maddona, Cameron Diaz and Evelyn Lozada.</p>
Post date: Thursday, October 25, 2012 - 15:20
Path: /college-football/oklahoma-sooners-vs-notre-dame-fighting-irish-preview-and-prediction
Body:

It’s not often college football has a marquee non-conference game at the end of October. However, that’s the stage set on Saturday night, as Oklahoma and Notre Dame – two top-10 teams in the BCS – will meet in Norman. The Sooners have won three in a row since losing to Kansas State, while Notre Dame has a perfect 7-0 record.

These two teams have not met since 1999, with Oklahoma only winning once in nine matchups against the Irish. The Sooners beat Notre Dame 40-0 in 1956 but followed that victory up with six consecutive losses in this series.

With both teams ranked in the top 10 of the BCS, this is essentially an elimination game for the national title. If the Irish win, they should cruise to an 11-0 record before playing USC in the season finale. If the Sooners knock off Notre Dame, they will have an opportunity to jump into the top six of the BCS standings. Considering Oklahoma was thought to be out of the mix after losing to Kansas State, it’s a credit to Bob Stoops and the coaching staff for getting this team refocused on the remaining schedule and the opportunities that await this squad if they win out (and get a little help in the process).

Storylines to watch in Notre Dame vs. Oklahoma

Notre Dame’s Quarterback Play
With Everett Golson sidelined due to a concussion last week, Tommy Rees was forced to make his second start of the season. Rees completed only 7 of 16 passes for 117 yards and one touchdown against BYU, while backup Andrew Hendrix chipped in 14 rushing yards. Golson is expected to return to the starting lineup this week but is still looking for consistency in his first year as the No. 1 quarterback. The redshirt freshman has thrown for 968 yards and four touchdowns but has also tossed three picks. Golson is Notre Dame’s most complete quarterback and gives it the best chance to win. However, ball security and winning the turnover battle will be crucial to the outcome of this matchup. Oklahoma is allowing only 164.3 passing yards a game and has given up only three passing touchdowns this season. Not only does Golson need to play smart but he also has to be decisive with his reads and deliver the ball on time. Expect senior tight end Tyler Eifert to be the primary target for Golson, but the redshirt freshman needs receivers TJ Jones and Davaris Daniels to step up this week.

Stopping the Belldozer
Considering how tough both teams have been on defense this year, scoring touchdowns instead of field goals will be crucial to winning this game. Notre Dame’s rush defense is allowing just over 100 yards a game (106.7) but has yet to allow a rushing score this season. The main catalyst for the Irish’s success on defense has been the play of linebacker Manti Te’o. The senior is having an outstanding year, recording 69 tackles, four interceptions and two tackles for a loss. In addition to Te’o, the Irish have one of the top defensive lines in college football, led by junior nose guard Louis Nix and sophomore end Stephon Tuitt. Although Notre Dame’s defense has passed every test so far, Oklahoma quarterback Blake Bell has been the top weapon for the Sooners’ offense around the goal-line, scoring eight rushing scores on 15 carries inside of the 10-yard line. No defense has found an answer to stop the Belldozer package over the last two years. With Notre Dame’s strong front seven, this should be a strength versus strength matchup for both teams.

Oklahoma’s passing offense vs. Notre Dame’s secondary
Despite breaking in two new starting cornerbacks and losing safety Jamoris Slaughter to an injury earlier this season, Notre Dame’s secondary ranks 14th nationally in pass defense. This unit figures to be tested on Saturday night, as Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones is the best passer the Irish have seen so far this year. Jones has thrown at least two touchdown passes in each of his last three games and has back-to-back 300-yard efforts. The senior also has a talented group of receivers, led by Kenny Stills and Penn State transfer Justin Brown. If Jones has time to throw, opportunities to make plays downfield should be there. However, Notre Dame is averaging 2.7 sacks a game and has done a good job of generating pressure on opposing quarterbacks all year. If Oklahoma can keep Jones upright in the pocket, the Sooners should be able to move the ball through the air.

Notre Dame’s rush offense vs. Oklahoma defense
With redshirt freshman quarterback Everett Golson making only his second road start, Notre Dame needs to take the pressure off his shoulders with the rushing attack. In last week’s win over BYU, the Irish recorded 270 rushing yards, with Theo Riddick leading the way with 143 yards. The Sooners rank 46th nationally against the run but have held two out of their last three opponents under 100 yards on the ground. Riddick and Cierre Wood don’t have to match last week’s production, but both players need to have some success on early downs to keep Notre Dame out of third-and-long situations. Expect Oklahoma to counter by stacking the box and forcing Golson to win the game through the air.

The x-factor…special teams
As with every close game, special teams could play a huge role in determining the outcome. Oklahoma owns a edge in this department, as it ranks in the top 10 nationally of punt and kickoff returns, and punter Tress Way is averaging 43.2 yards per kick. The Sooners have also scored twice on returns, which has to be a huge concern for Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly. The Irish have struggled to generate any big plays on special teams, while their coverage units rank 92nd nationally in covering kickoffs. Considering how tough Notre Dame’s defense has been all season, Oklahoma needs to hit a few big plays on special teams to put its offense in favorable field position situations.

Final Analysis

The mission for both teams is simple: Win and stay alive in the BCS title picture. Oklahoma has been on a roll since losing to Kansas State in late September and should have the edge in this game. The Sooners will struggle to move the ball on the ground with running back Damien Williams, but the passing attack should be able to hit a few big plays – if Landry Jones has time to throw. Notre Dame’s offense will have success moving the ball at times but this is the game where not having a consistent passing attack will catch up to the Irish.

Final Prediction: Oklahoma 27, Notre Dame 20
 

by Steven Lassan

@athlonsteven


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Big 12 Week 9 Preview and Predictions

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SEC Week 9 Preview and Predictions

Teaser:
<p> Oklahoma Sooners vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish Preview and Prediction</p>
Post date: Thursday, October 25, 2012 - 14:04
Path: /nfl/5-best-wide-receiver-tandems-nfl
Body:

Roddy White made his preference clear in an NFL Network interview that aired in late September. He noted the competition coming from the wide receivers in New York, but he cooly brushed them aside.

“The thing that me and (Julio Jones) bring to the game,” White said, “we’re probably the best duo in the league right now.”
 
The counterargument came a few weeks later, from Giants defensive end Justin Tuck.
 
“Well, I know that the ones down in Atlanta get a lot of pub too, but I think you'd be (hard) pressed to show me anybody better than Victor (Cruz) and Hakeem (Nicks)," Tuck said. "That combination, those two guys ... Hakeem has had some issues staying healthy a little bit lately here, but when those guys are healthy and rolling ... I think they are one of the -- if not the -- greatest combos of wide receivers there is."
 
One thing seems certain when considering what team has the most dymanic duo of receivers in the NFL: There is a big drop off after the two in Atlanta and the two in New York. And the truth is, it’s almost impossible to separate the top two tandems based on ability and statistics. And the choice may have to do with your preference, and even then it could change week to week.
 
So who are the top tandems in the league, and the most dangerous receiving duos in the game today? Here’s one list. And again, it’s close between 1 and 2.
 
Not so close after that.
 
1. Victor Cruz/Hakeem Nicks, New York Giants
One year ago the idea that they’d be the top tandem would’ve been laughable, especially since Mario Manningham was the starter opposite Nicks and Cruz was a bottom-of-the-roster player. Then Cruz exploded for a franchise record 1,536 yards and has followed that up this season with some of the best stats among receivers in the NFL (50-627-7). Nicks’ numbers aren’t there because he’s been hampered by foot and knee injuries – which, admittedly, hurts his value. But look at what they did together in Week 2, when Nicks was at his healthiest. Cruz had 11 catches for 179 yards and a touchdown, and Nicks had 10 catches for 199 yards and a touchdown. It’ll be tough for anyone to beat that. Plus, as evidenced by Cruz’s 77-yard, game-winning touchdown catch against the Redskins on Sunday, the Giants’ wideouts have a knack for the big play.
 
 
2. Roddy White/Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons
These two have the advantage in pedigree, no doubt. White is a four-time Pro Bowler and Jones was the sixth-overall pick in the 2011 draft. And their stats this season are pretty impressive. White has 37 catches for 553 yards and four touchdowns and Jones has 30 catches for 376 yards and four touchdowns. They are both explosive, good route runners and have everything you’d want in a wide receiver. Maybe the only thing that makes them qualify as the No. 2 tandem instead of No. 1 is this: Neither one of them are the leading receiver on their own team. That honor goes to tight end Tony Gonzalez (43-430-4). Jones and White are tremendous in their own right, but having one of the greatest tight ends in history to draw some of the attention is a huge advantage to have.
 
 
3. Miles Austin/Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys
For a moment, put aside Bryant’s off-the-field and character issues, forget about all of Austin’s injuries, and ignore the up-and-down nature of their quarterback, Tony Romo. Based on pure ability, explosiveness and the danger to make a big play, these two might be right on the heels of the top two duos. Bryant has the potential to be one of the NFL’s best if he can ever get his head screwed on straight. He has 36 catches for 378 yards and two touchdowns this season, which is good but hardly great considering he had 63 catches for 928 yards and nine touchdowns in 2011. Austin’s numbers aren’t up to par either (25-428-4)but it was only two years ago that he was coming off back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons. This may be based more on potential than current production, but the danger is undeniably there.
 
 
4. Mike Wallace/Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers
He hasn’t put up huge numbers this season, but Wallace (29-397-4) is one of the fastest, most dangerous receivers in the NFL. There’s no doubt, though, he’s been hampered a bit by an offense that has struggled, especially in running the ball. Still, while he’s drawn the double teams, he’s opened the door for his dangerous sidekick, Brown, who leads the team with 36 catches for 442 yards (and a touchdown). Brown is less of a breakaway threat than Wallace, but two complement each other well. And if the Steelers can ever get a rushing attack going, their numbers should shoot way up.
 
 
5. Anquan Boldin/Torrey Smith, Baltimore Ravens
Ray Rice is the star of this team and the defense sometimes gets the headlines (undeservedly so, lately), but the Boldin-Smith combo has “danger” written all over them. Boldin has been a terrific receiver for years. He’s a three-time Pro Bowler still averaging 14.6 yards per catch (31-453-1) at age 32. And while Smith is only fourth on the Ravens in catches (behind Dennis Pitta and Rice), he’s averaging an impressive 17.4 yards per reception (25-435-4) and has very explosive potential. For proof, just look at his six-catch, 127-yard, two-touchdown game against New England in Week 3. Smith is also just 23 years old, so he’s getting better. They could easily start inching up this list by the end of the year.
 
—By RALPH VACCHIANO
Teaser:
<p> These double threats would make any QB smile.</p>
Post date: Thursday, October 25, 2012 - 12:00

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