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Path: /college-football/nebraska-making-right-decision-keep-bo-pelini
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Nebraska’s regular season ended in disappointing fashion, as the Cornhuskers were dominated in a 38-17 loss to Iowa.

The loss certainly isn’t sitting well in Lincoln, and coach Bo Pelini only added to the drama by commenting “if they want to fire me, go ahead,” when asked about his job status for 2014.

But athletic director Shawn Eichorst issued a statement of support for Pelini on Saturday, which should ensure the embattled coach returns for a seventh season.

Even though Eichorst’s statement seems to indicate Pelini will be back for 2014, is that the right decision for Nebraska?

Is Nebraska making the right decision to keep Bo Pelini for 2014?

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
If Nebraska wins its bowl game, the Cornhuskers will have claimed at least nine victories in each of Pelini’s six seasons. But is that good enough at Nebraska? Championships and BCS bowls are expected in Lincoln, and Pelini has fallen short. Nebraska has lost its last three bowl appearances and barely cracked the top 25 in the final Associated Press poll in each of the last two years. However, I do think it’s fair to wonder if the job expectations are too high at Nebraska. The college football landscape has changed dramatically since the 1990s, and the Cornhuskers aren’t going to reel in top-10 recruiting classes on a consistent basis. Winning nine games a year isn’t bad, but there’s also plenty of room for Pelini to improve. The West Division of the new Big Ten alignment should be easier than the East, which should allow Nebraska to make a run at the division title in 2014. And even though the Cornhuskers didn’t win the division in 2013, recording eight wins with a rebuilt defense and two backup quarterbacks isn’t awful. I think both parties would benefit from a split, but Pelini’s record at Nebraska should allow him one more season to get the program back into championship contention.

Coach Tom Osborne, former head coach of Nebraska and current voting member of the Legends Poll:
I think Shawn made the right decision. You don't get rid of a coach after an 8-4 season, and five straight 9 or 10 win seasons and three division championships.  I am looking forward to seeing them improve and have a good year next season.
 

David Fox (@DavidFox615)
From a numbers standpoint, Pelini has probably done enough to stay. The Cornhuskers will be in position for another nine-win season if they can win what’s probably a New Year’s Day bowl game despite injuries to his entrenched starting quarterback and more. From an administrative standpoint, Nebraska is probably making a calculated move to keep Pelini for at least another year rather than wade into a coaching carousel with USC and possibly Texas. Nebraska, despite its history, can’t compete with those two schools for top coaching candidates. But I’m sure Nebraska knows what it’s in for next season. During his postgame diatribe after the Iowa loss, Pelini complained that talk about his job affected his team this season. We can argue how much of a role Pelini could play in keeping that pressure away from his team, but it’s not going to stop in 2014. If anything, the talk about Pelini’s job is going to be worse. And his behavior Saturday — spouting off in his press conference and coming within inches if smacking an official with his hat — only amplifies the discussion. Besides, should we really believe this team is going to get any better? Nebraska’s probably making the right move to set up the coaching search, but it’s going to come at the cost of a sideshow of a season in 2014.

Mark Ross
Fiery temper, sideline antics and numerous foot-in-the-mouth instances aside, Pelini should get credit for doing one other thing he has consistently done since taking over at Nebraska in 2008, which is win. If the Cornhuskers claim victory in their bowl game, it will mean Pelini's teams have won at least nine games in all six of his seasons at the helm. I know he hasn't won a conference title yet, but he does have at least a share of four division titles and has led his team to the championship game in two different conferences. He's 33 games above .500 as a head coach, has won more than 70 percent of his conference games and finished lower than a tie for second in his division only once. Nebraska has won five* national championships in its rich history, but it's not like the bottom has exactly dropped out in Lincoln. Are there things that Pelini needs to "fix?" Obviously, but that doesn't mean the Cornhuskers' program is "broken" either. Athletic director Shawn Eichorst apparently thinks Pelini has done enough to keep his job, which in the end is all that really matters.

*Editor's Note: When this was originally published, the number of national championships won by Nebraska was incorrectly stated as four. We regret the error.

Braden Gall (@BradenGall)
It's time for an amicable divorce between Nebraska and Bo Pelini. That doesn't mean that Bo Pelini is a bad coach or that he failed in Lincoln — in fact, he did things his predecessor could not. But both parties appear to be better off going their separate ways. On the positive, Pelini won three division titles and appeared in three conference championship games. And not having the most productive player in program history under center for the entire Big Ten season (Taylor Martinez) must be taken into consideration. On the negative, he has lost four games in all six seasons during his time at Nebraska and his specialty, the defense, has had major struggles over the last few seasons. Pelini hasn't helped himself either, with the way he handles the media or his players in public. There appears to be some sort of behind the scenes disconnect between the coach and the program and that usually never results in success.

Teaser:
Is Nebraska making the right decision to keep Bo Pelini?
Post date: Monday, December 2, 2013 - 11:20
All taxonomy terms: Essential 11, Overtime
Path: /overtime/athlons-essential-11-links-day-december-2-2013
Body:

This is your daily link roundup of our favorite sports and entertainment posts on the web for Dec. 2.

 

• To ease your transition back to work, and your transition into the Christmas season, here's a rundown of the November sports women who tickled our fancy, including hockey WAG Elisha Cuthbert (pictured).

 

• By now, you've seen a million replays of the Iron Bowl finish. But here it is again, captured in Tecmo Bowl form.

 

• If you've been in a turkey coma and still haven't seen it, and even if you have, here's a handy roundup of everything you need to know about arguably the greatest ending in college football history.

 

Gus Malzahn got his visor snatched right off his head by an exuberant fan. Let's hope it's not his magic totem.

 

• One last bizarre Iron Bowl footnote: The guy from the "Punt, Bama, Punt" miracle game went to the same high school as latter-day Tiger hero Chris Davis.

 

• The Iron Bowl wasn't the only great game of the weekend. Ole Miss-Mississippi State has even given birth to a meme, thanks to some clever State fans. And here are 19 takeaways from the weekend in the SEC.

 

• The debate commences in earnest: Does Ohio State deserve a shot at the national title? John Feinstein says no.

 

Mayor Ford showed up for the Bills-Falcons game in Toronto, mauled some chicken wings and apparently stole some guy's seat. Sounds about right.

 

• Spygate 2.0? The Texans' Antonio Smith is suspicious of the way the Patriots were able to adjust to Houston's defense. I'm suspicious that anyone would waste time spying on the Texans.

 

Vernon Davis is an insane athlete. That is all.

 

• The Teddy Bear Toss is apparently some sort of AHL holiday tradition that I wasn't aware of. Enjoy this video of 26,000 teddy bears being tossed onto the ice in Calgary.

 

 

 

-- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at [email protected]

Teaser:
Post date: Monday, December 2, 2013 - 10:47
All taxonomy terms: New Orleans Saints, Seattle Seahawks, NFL, News
Path: /nfl/new-orleans-saints-vs-seattle-seahawks-game-preview-and-prediction
Body:

The battle for the NFC is on as Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints travel to Seattle to face Russell Wilson and the Seahawks in front of the 12th Man on ESPN's "Monday Night Football" at 8:30 p.m. ET. Both teams have had plenty of time to rest and study up for this game. Sean Peyton's Saints (9-2) haven't played since their 17-13 win two Thursdays ago against Atlanta. The win moved New Orleans to a perfect 3-0 in NFC South play.

Meanwhile, Pete Carroll's Seahawks (10-1) enjoyed a week off, as they had won six straight games heading into their bye. The Seahawks and Saints are the clear frontrunners in the NFC and it is highly likely that this game could go a long way in deciding who gets home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

The Saints and Seahawks have evenly split their 12 all-time contests. The last game between these two franchises was a 2011 NFC Wild Card game in which the 7-9 Seahawks upset the defending Super Bowl champion Saints on the back of a miraculous 67-yard touchdown run by Marshawn Lynch.

3 Things to Watch

The 6-foot-and-under club

Drew Brees and Russell Wilson belong to an elite group of signal-callers that have succeeded in the NFL despite their stature. Brees, standing right a six feet tall, has swayed many minds about what a prototypical NFL quarterback should look like. Wilson, at 5-11, has followed in his footsteps by supplanting himself as one of the NFL's best young quarterbacks. Each has had to overcome significant challenges in their careers. Brees was given up for by nearly the entire league after a shoulder injury in San Diego, while Wilson was a third-round afterthought set to be a backup for Matt Flynn. This season, both quarterbacks rank among the most efficient in the NFL, as both are among the six possessing a quarterback rating of 100 or better. Wilson has completed 64 percent of his passes for 19 touchdowns and just six interceptions. Wilson already has the highest quarterback rating, highest completion percentage and best touchdown-to-interception ratio among all quarterbacks shorter than six feet in NFL history. With the return of head coach Sean Payton, Brees has been even more impressive as he is third in the NFL with 3,647 passing yards and second with 28 touchdown passes. Brees currently ranks fifth on the all-time list for career passing yardage with 49,556 yards and fourth all-time in touchdown passes with 352. The NFL's two smallest quarterbacks will be on display tonight and fans will get a look at how these two passers have bucked the trend in professional football.

Saints' Pass-Catchers vs. Seahawks' Secondary

The Seahawks rank second in the NFL in passing yards allowed per game at 180.4. A big part of the reason for their success are their big corners. Starting cornerbacks Richard Sherman (6-3) and Brandon Browner (6-4) have routinely shut down opposing receivers, while safeties Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas clean things up on the back end with six combined interceptions and 138 tackles. Over Seattle's six-game winning streak, the Seahawks have held five of six quarterbacks under 200 yards passing. The most they allowed was Carson Palmer's 258 yards; however, Seattle intercepted him twice. Additionally, during this streak only two receivers (John Carlson and Jairus Wright) have over 59 yards receiving. The Saints will look to tight end Jimmy Graham early and often. Expect Seattle to be prepared as they have only allowed one touchdown reception to a tight end this season. They have been successful in shutting down Tony Gonzalez, Jared Cook, Coby Fleener, Greg Olsen and Vernon Davis. None in this list had more than five catches for 56 yards. Together the Seahawks have held these five tight ends to an average of three catches for 30 yards. It will be especially interesting to see how and who the Seahawks choose to match up against Graham. While Graham is in for a challenge, Brees is not afraid to spread the ball around the field. Ten different Saints have receiving touchdowns this year, with five different receivers posting over 400 yards receiving this year. If his primary options are covered Brees will look to Kenny Stills, as well as, Darren Sproles and Pierre Thomas out of the backfield. The Saints may catch a slight break with Browner sidelined because of a groin injury, but the Seahawks secondary will still be a tough test, even for New Orleans' prolific passing attack.

Beast Mode vs. Saints' Defensive Line

New Orleans defensive coordinator Rob Ryan has invigorated a unit that was statistically the worst in NFL history just a season ago. Ends Akiem Hicks and Cameron Jordan, along with linebacker Junior Gallette are all playing at an extremely high level. Jordan leads the team with eight sacks, while Gallette's six sacks provide a book-end threat from the opposite side. In their last three games, New Orleans hasn't allowed a 100-yard rusher among the likes of Steven Jackson, Frank Gore and DeMarco Murray. The Saints will face their biggest test of the season with Marshawn Lynch waiting in the wings. Lynch, aka Beast Mode, is fourth in the NFL in rushing yards with 925. He also ranks second in the league with nine rushing touchdowns and third with six rushes of more than 20 yards. Tonight Lynch looks to clinch his third straight and fifth overall 1,000-yard season.

Key Player for New Orleans: Jimmy Graham, TE

Short of Calvin Johnson, Graham is the toughest cover in the NFL. Currently, he is second only to Johnson (12) in the NFL in receiving touchdowns with 11. In addition, he leads all tight ends in receptions, yardage and catches of more than 20 yards.

Key Player for Seattle: The 12th Man

CenturyLink Stadium could be the biggest home-field advantage in the NFL. The last time New Orleans played here, the fans registered a reading on the Richter Scale. If the Seahawks get an early lead, there could be another reading as Seahawk fans could be responsible for a few false start penalties.

Final Analysis

Seattle has the home-field advantage and is the hotter team, but you can't argue with what quarterback Drew Brees and the Saints have done this year. For the first time in his career, it appears that Brees and Sean Payton have a legitimate defense. Rex Ryan will dial up some vicious blitzes for quarterback Russell Wilson and stack the box against running back Marshawn Lynch. Make no mistake, this game will live up to its billing and remain close throughout. How the Seahawks choose to guard tight end Jimmy Graham could factor big during red zone situations.

New Orleans 24, Seattle 23

Teaser:
New Orleans Saints vs. Seattle Seahawks Game Preview and Prediction
Post date: Monday, December 2, 2013 - 10:30
All taxonomy terms: NFL, Overtime
Path: /overtime/vernon-davis-crotch-tackled-tj-mcdonald
Body:

During yesterday's game between the San Francisco 49ers and the St. Louis Rams, tight end Vernon Davis was tackled by T.J. McDonald in the most painful way any man can imagine in the history of the universe—BY. HIS. CROTCH. Davis, who's around 6'3" and 250 pounds of muscle, was reduced to writhing in pain on the ground after the tackle. 

Teaser:
Vernon Davis is Crotch Tackled by T.J. McDonald
Post date: Monday, December 2, 2013 - 08:11
All taxonomy terms: ACC, College Football, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac 12, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/amazing-college-football-stats-week-14
Body:

Numbers and statistics are unquestionably a huge part of the game. Any game, for that matter.

Some fall on the sabermetric side of things, while others like to keep it simple and use the ol' eyeball test. In the football world, that means total offense, total defense and points scored versus points per play and defensive efficiency ratings. Rational and logical arguments can be made for the legitimacy and relevance of both sides of the stats spectrum.

With that in mind, Athlon Sports brings the most intriguing, important, historic and bizarre stats from around the weekend of college football action:

1: Second it takes to win the SEC West
The officials put one second back on the clock — much to Auburn's chagrin — giving Alabama a 57-yard field goal attempt to win the SEC West. Except, the kick was short and Chris Davis returned it 109 unofficial yards for the win and the SEC West title in arguably the most dramatic finish to a college football game ... ever. One is also the number of times Nick Saban and Alabama have lost when rushing for at least 140 yards since the start of the 2008 season, a span of 61 games. Alabama gained 218 yards rushing while Auburn rushed for 296 yards — or 131 more yards than Alabama had allowed all season (165, Arkansas). It was just the fourth time in 77 games that Alabama has lost under Nick Saban while leading at halftime. Auburn now has wins over nine bowl teams and is 5-1 against teams ranked in the Sagarin Top 35.

42: Active record consecutive games with a turnover forced
Missouri forced a turnover against Texas A&M but that one forced fumble kept alive the nation's longest active streak of consecutive games with at least one turnover forced. For the 42nd straight game, the Tigers have taken the ball away from the opponent, and its a big reason why they finished 11-1. With an SEC East, SEC and BCS title hanging in the balance, Mizzou held Johnny Manziel and the Aggies to 379 yards and 5.4 yards per play — both of which would be season lows if not for LSU's performance against the reigning Heisman winner last weekend. In 2013, Gary Pinkel's team led the SEC in sacks (37), interceptions (18), takeaways (27), turnover margin (1.25) and tackles for loss (95).

2-14: Auburn, Missouri SEC record last year
According to @LVSuperBook back in August, Auburn was a 50-1 longshot to win the SEC while Missouri was 60-1. That's because these two programs went a combined 2-14 in SEC play last season. For all intents and purposes, these two Tigers were the 12th and 13th worst teams in the conference. Now, they will meet in Atlanta for an SEC crown and potential BCS national championship berth, depending on the Big Ten and ACC title games. Missouri wasn't supposed to be able to compete in the big, bad SEC and the 2-6 season last fall only strengthened the durability doubts of the Tigers. However, not only has Missouri bounced back to win the SEC East, but it did it in true SEC style — with a nasty, playmaking defense. Auburn, a team with a first-year head coach following a 0-8 campaign in the league, is rushing for more yards per game (318.3 ypg) than the entire offense averaged a year ago (305 ypg). On Saturday, a traditional SEC power that employs a zone-read spread option will face a former Big 12 team boasting the SEC's most physical and athletic defensive line.

49.1: Home scoring average for Arizona State
In crushing in-state rival Arizona 58-21 in the Territorial Cup on Saturday night, the Sun Devils clinched the best record in the Pac-12 (8-1) and earned the right to host the Pac-12 Championship Game. Not only does Arizona State avoid having to visit Palo Alto for the second time this year — a place where Stanford hasn't lost in 16 games — but it gets to play in Sun Devil Stadium — a place where ASU has been virtually unstoppable. The Sun Devils are sixth in the nation in home scoring average at 49.1 points per game. In six home games this year, Todd Graham's squad has scored at least 53 points five times.

226: Carlos Hyde rivalry-high rushing yards against Michigan
No Ohio State running back has ever rushed for more yards in "The Game" than Carlos Hyde did against the Wolverines on Saturday. He rushed 27 times for 226 yards and scored the game-winning touchdown in what might have been the best game between "Ohio" and "That Team Up North" in the long and storied history of the rivalry. Quarterback Braxton Miller accounted for five total touchdowns, rushed for 150 yards and played electric football all game long as well. Urban Meyer has won 24 straight games to start his OSU coaching career, tying Larry Coker for fourth all-time in NCAA history (Pop Warner, 30; Fielding Yost 29; Walter Camp, 28). Michigan and Ohio State have played 110 times and 2013 might have been the best version to date. The Game featured 1,129 yards of offense — 603 from Michigan's 96th ranked offense — three fighting ejections and the biggest two-point conversion attempt since Tom Osborne went for it in the 1984 Orange Bowl.

1966: The last time Michigan State was unbeaten in Big Ten play
With an ugly but convincing win over Minnesota at home, Mark Dantonio and the Spartans finished the year unblemished in Big Ten play. The 8-0 record is just the third such perfect Big Ten record for Michigan State and the first since 1966. The Spartans have allowed six points or less in five of the last six games and are leading the nation in total defense. Dantonio now sets his sights on the Rose Bowl as his Spartans take on Ohio State that has won 24 straight games in the Big Ten Championship Game. Michigan State hasn't been to the Rose Bowl since 1987 — when Nick Saban was the defensive coordinator. The 1965 season is the only other perfect Big Ten record in MSU history.

26-5: Connor Shaw's record as a starter
No South Carolina Gamecock has won more games than Connor Shaw. The gritty quarterback has set himself apart as the greatest signal caller to ever play at Williams-Brice Stadium. He began the season as the sixth-most efficient passer in SEC history (151.5) and all he has done is add to his underrated resume (156.2 in 2013). His 26 wins are the most in South Carolina history, and he set a Gamecocks record with 18 consecutive home wins (18-0). He went 3-0 against rival Clemson and helped his team defeat the hated Tigers five times in a row for the first time in rivalry history. He has rushed for 1,636 yards, 16 touchdowns and countless first downs on third down. He is seventh all-time in SEC history with a 64.7 career completion percentage and second only to Tee Martin (24) with 20 consecutive completions last year against Missouri. In terms of win percentage, Shaw is just behind names like Tim Tebow (86.6 percent) and Peyton Manning (86.7 percent) as one of the top 10 winningest SEC quarterbacks (83.8 percent). Shaw has 52 passing touchdowns and only 14 interceptions in his three seasons as the starter with just one interception and 23 scoring strikes in his last 13 games. He has to be considered as one of the league's all-time great leaders under center.

12-1: Mark Richt's record against Georgia Tech
Since taking over in Athens, Mark Richt has dominated the in-state rivalry with Georgia Tech titled "Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate." Without starting quarterback Aaron Murray and after falling behind 20-0, Richt watched his team fight back over the final 30 minutes to force overtime. Richt has now won five straight and 12 out of 13 against the Yellow Jackets since taking over as the Georgia coach in 2001. Signal caller Hutson Mason, who got his first career start in place of Murray and will likely be the starter next fall, led the Bulldogs to a 41-14 run over the final 31 minutes and overtime. Todd Gurley scored three late touchdowns, and the defense forced one critical turnover.

1,068: Combined passing yards for Derek Carr and David Fales
Fresno State lost for the first time this year when San Jose State and David Fales topped the Bulldogs 62-52 on Friday. Fales was 37-of-45 for 547 yards and six touchdowns and didn't throw an interception. Derek Carr was 38-of-50 for 519 yards and had six touchdowns of his own for Fresno State. The 114 points is the second highest scoring game in college football this season behind Baylor's 73-42 win over West Virginia (115). The loss is costly for Tim DeRuyter as the Bulldogs are out of BCS bowl contention with just one loss.

1927-28: The last time Vanderbilt won eight games in back-to-back seasons
With yet another late turnover and another late comeback, Vanderbilt topped Wake Forest 23-21 to finish the regular season with an impressive 8-4 mark. It is the Commodores second straight season with at least eight wins for the first time in 85 years, dating back to 1927-28 (the last time Vandy posted back-to-back winning seasons was 1974-75). Coach James Franklin's teams have proven themselves in the most critical of times, winning their last nine November games and 10 of 12 all-time under Franklin during the season's final month. With three consecutive bowl berths, this is without question the most successful three-year run in program history.

Teaser:
Amazing College Football Stats from Week 14
Post date: Monday, December 2, 2013 - 07:15
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Florida Gators, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/florida-fires-offensive-coordinator-brent-pease
Body:

After an underachieving 4-8 record in 2013, Florida coach Will Muschamp isn’t waiting long to make changes to his coaching staff.

On Sunday, Muschamp fired offensive coordinator Brent Pease and line coach Tim Davis.

The firings were expected, as Florida had one of the SEC’s worst offenses in 2013.

The Gators averaged just 312.5 yards per game in eight conference contests and did not score more than 20 points in a SEC game since a 30-point effort against Arkansas on Oct. 5.

There should be no shortage of interested candidates, but Muschamp is on the hot seat and another underachieving record in 2014 could spell the end of his tenure in Gainesville.

Even though Florida should be able to attract capable candidates, some coaches could shy away from the job due to the uncertainty about Muschamp’s long-term future.
 

Teaser:
Florida Fires Offensive Coordinator Brent Pease
Post date: Sunday, December 1, 2013 - 22:16
Path: /college-football/wyoming-fires-coach-dave-christensen
Body:

After a second consecutive losing season, Wyoming fired coach Dave Christensen on Sunday.

Christensen recorded a 27-35 mark during his five seasons at Wyoming, including an 8-5 record in 2011.

Christensen guided Wyoming to two bowl games, but the Cowboys were just 9-15 over the last two years.

Considering Christensen’s experience and background on offense, the veteran assistant could be a name to watch for coordinator openings at Florida and Iowa State.

Teaser:
Wyoming Fires Coach Dave Christensen
Post date: Sunday, December 1, 2013 - 22:09
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/2013-legends-poll-top-25-college-football-week-14
Body:

After consecutive victories in miraculous fashion, Auburn has made another unbelievable jump. The Tigers are the new No. 2 in the Legends Poll.

Auburn ran a missed field goal back 100 yards as time expired in the Iron Bowl, knocking off the reigning champ and top team, Alabama, 34-28. The victory also paved the way for Florida State, who routed Florida 37-7 earlier in the day, to take over as the No. 1 team in the Legends Poll for the first time in its history. The loss dropped the Crimson Tide to No. 4.

No. 3 Ohio State escaped on a failed two-point conversion in the final minutes by rival Michigan to remain unbeaten. But the performance wasn’t enough for the Legends Poll voters to move the Buckeyes up in the rankings. Ohio State has one more chance to make a statement against No. 9 Michigan State in the Big Ten Championship Game.

Missouri rounded out the top 5 after clinching the SEC East and a spot against Auburn in the SEC Championship Game. The winner will certainly have an argument for earning a spot in the BCS Championship.

In another hotly contested in-state rivalry game, No. 7 South Carolina knocked off Clemson, moving up two spots in the poll. No. 11 Clemson tumbled six spots.

No. 19 Northern Illinois finished its regular season undefeated and moved up three spots. No. 21 Wisconsin took the largest fall in the rankings this week after an upset at the hands of Penn State.

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

THE LEGENDS POLL TOP 25
RKTEAMRECORDPOINTSPV RK
1Florida StateFlorida State (16)12-04002
2AuburnAuburn11-13734
3Ohio StateOhio State12-03723
4AlabamaAlabama11-13501
5MissouriMissouri11-13446
6Oklahoma StateOklahoma State10-13127
7South CarolinaSouth Carolina10-22999
8StanfordStanford10-22938
9Michigan StateMichigan State11-126710
10BaylorBaylor10-125811
11ClemsonClemson10-22235
12OregonOregon10-221513
13Arizona StateArizona State10-220915
14LSULSU9-320114
15OklahomaOklahoma9-214918
16LouisvilleLouisville10-114816
17UCFUCF10-113419
18UCLAUCLA9-312024
19Northern IllinoisNorthern Illinois12-011422
20DukeDuke10-211223
21WisconsinWisconsin9-310812
22Fresno StateFresno State10-15617
23GeorgiaGeorgia8-44925
24Texas A&MTexas A&M8-44320
25USCUSC9-41921

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

Teaser:
2013 The Legends Poll Top 25: College Football Week 14
Post date: Sunday, December 1, 2013 - 21:27
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/golden-arm-performances-week-14
Body:

As a proud sponsor of the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, Transamerica would like to thank you all for participating in this year’s Johnny Unitas QB Challenge. The winner of the QB Challenge is being determined and will be announced shortly on Transamerica’s Facebook page. Meanwhile, we applaud the accomplishments of all the 2013 Golden Arm Award contenders, and we look forward to congratulating this year’s Golden Arm Award-winning quarterback, who will be revealed next week.

Derek Carr, Fresno StateDerek Carr, Fresno State
A week after throwing for 527 yards and a career-high and school-record seven touchdowns, Fresno State’s Derek Carr once again put up big numbers for the Bulldogs. For the third time of his career, Carr surpassed the 500-yard mark in a game by throwing for 519 yards and six touchdowns. Carr completed 38 of 50 pass attempts in the effort but unfortunately all Carr did was not enough to pick up a win at San Jose State. Fresno State fell shy against the Spartans to fall out of the BCS mix, but Carr and the Bulldogs will get one more chance to end the season on a high note when they host Utah State in the Mountain West Conference championship game next week.

Jordan Lynch, Northern Illinois
Once again Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch did more damage with his legs than his arm. Lynch obliterated Western Michigan for 321 rushing yards and three touchdowns in a home finale win for Northern Illinois. The win clinched a perfect 12-0 regular season for the Huskies and kept last year’s BCS Buster in the mix for a second straight BCS bowl trip. Lynch did not have much success throwing the football, completing just five of 17 attempts for 39 yards, but his feet were more than capable of handling this one.

AJ McCarron, Alabama
Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron turned in a solid effort in his final game of the regular season. McCarron completed 17 of 29 pass attempts for 277 yards and three touchdowns on the road at Auburn. McCarron even added 16 rushing yards on four carries. Unfortunately for McCarron, and the Tide, Auburn pulled out another miracle in Jordan-Hare Stadium to hand McCarron and Alabama their first loss of the season.

Tajh Boyd, Clemson
Tajh Boyd completed 19 of his 27 pass attempts for 225 yards but failed to record a touchdown pass and was intercepted twice in Clemson’s 31-17 loss at South Carolina. Boyd did score a touchdown on the ground, while chipping in with 16 rushing yards. Boyd’s eight-yard touchdown run in the first quarter tied the game. Boyd also lost one fumble and was responsible for three of Clemson’s six turnovers in the loss.

Sponsored by Transamerica. 

Teaser:
The Golden Arm award is presented to the top senior quarterback by the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Foundation.
Post date: Sunday, December 1, 2013 - 21:08
Path: /college-football/post-week-14-bcs-rankings-and-projections
Body:

The revelry on the field at Jordan-Hare Stadium hadn’t even ended before various scenarios putting the SEC into the national championship game started popping up.

What would Auburn have to do to leapfrog an undefeated Ohio State? Is Missouri realistic? And is Alabama out of it ... really?

For this week, BCS order remains with the two undefeated teams in the national championship slots. For Auburn to get into the title game over an undefeated Ohio State, the voters and BCS computers would have to do something they’ve never done by leaving out an undefeated major conference champion at the expense of a one-loss team.

Did we mention there are still conference championship games to play. An Ohio State or Florida State loss would render SEC arguments moot. So would an Auburn loss to Missouri.

And after what you’ve seen at Auburn the last two weeks, are you going to doubt the possibility of Duke upsetting the whole thing on the last day of the season?

Moving Up


No. 3 Auburn. As expected, Auburn moved to No. 3 in the BCS and narrowed the gap with Ohio State. The Tigers checked in with a BCS average of 0.9233 with Ohio State at 0.9503. The difference is a little bigger than the Sunday afternoon chatter indicated, but it’s not insurmountable for Auburn with a game remaining against No. 5 Missouri while Ohio State faces No. 10 Michigan State. The gap of 0.027 between Auburn and Ohio State, a margin that figures to get closer if both win, would be the closest between No. 2 and No. 3 since Florida edged out Texas by 0.0181 in 2008.

Moving Down

No. 2 Ohio State. The Buckeyes lost the most ground in the coaches’ and Harris polls as nearly all the first-place votes that went for Alabama last week went to Florida State. The Seminoles have 97 of 105 first-place votes in the Harris poll and 58 of 62 first-place votes in the coaches’ poll (though Ohio State gained four top votes from the coaches). Ohio State is 25 points ahead of Auburn in the coaches poll and 84 behind Florida State. The Buckeyes are 66 points ahead of Auburn in the Harris poll and 129 behind Florida State.

Quick BCS Projections

BCS Championship Game: No. 1 Florida State vs. No. 2 Ohio State
Rose: No. 11 Arizona State vs. No. 10 Michigan State*
Orange: No. 4 Alabama* vs. No. 13 Clemson*
Sugar: No. 3 Auburn vs. No. 16 UCF
Fiesta: No. 6 Oklahoma State vs. No. 14 Northern Illinois
*at-large selections

Key Games This Week

Auburn vs. Missouri (SEC Championship). Auburn is holding out hope to get into the BCS title game with a win in Atlanta regardless of what Ohio State does, but a loss by either of the top two teams likely vaults the SEC champion to the national title game.

Ohio State vs. Michigan State (Big Ten Championship). A rout of Michigan State, especially after the close call with Michigan, would probably help Ohio State fans rest easy no matter what happens to Auburn. But in the event of a loss, the Spartans would also like to look respectable enough to remain in the top 14 to remain eligible for an at-large bid to the Rose Bowl against the winner of Stanford-Arizona State.

Texas at Baylor. Even though they looked nothing like it the last two weeks, the Bears have the ability to get into a BCS game. An Oklahoma State loss to Oklahoma and a Baylor win will earn the Bears the automatic bid to the Fiesta Bowl. And given losses by Clemson and Wisconsin, the at-large field has dwindled. A one-loss Baylor ranked in the top 10 may be the best of what’s available.

Other Observations

Alabama is out. The fantasy of Alabama getting back to the championship game with an Auburn loss in the SEC title game and an Ohio State loss in the Big Ten title game is probably finished. Alabama checked in at No. 4, but only 0.0111 points ahead of No. 5 Missouri in BCS average. A Missouri win over Auburn would almost certainly vault Mizzou ahead of the Crimson Tide. The only plausible scenario for the Tide in the title game would require losses by Florida State and Ohio State, setting up a matchup with Missouri or an Iron Bowl rematch.

The BCS at-large picture is a mess. Prepare to complain about teams outside of the top-10 earning BCS slots. Alabama is a virtual lock for the first BCS at-large spot (the Orange, if Florida State finishes No. 1), but after that, nothing is certain. The Rose may like to pair a Big Ten team with its Pac-12 champion if Ohio State goes to the title game, but the only candidate is No. 10 Michigan State, thanks to Wisconsin's loss to Penn State. No. 13 Clemson should remain eligible for the BCS and would be more attractive that a second team from the Big 12. At No. 12, Oregon also would be a strong BCS contender, but the Ducks won’t go to the Rose Bowl to face the Pac-12 champion.

Northern Illinois is creeping closer to an automatic bid. Fresno State’s loss to San Jose State means Northern Illinois is the only team from a non-automatic qualifying conference in the mix for a BCS bid. The Huskies moved up to No. 14, but they’re behind idle Oregon and Clemson. It would take quite a bit of a shakeup for NIU, who faces Bowling Green in the MAC title game, to get into the top 12 for an automatic bid. However, Northern Illinois remains two spots ahead of No. 16 UCF, the projected champion of the American Athletic Conference. UCF finishes with 5-6 SMU.

Notes on BCS selection

• Automatic BCS bids go to the top two for the title game, the champions of the ACC (Orange Bowl), Big 12 (Fiesta), Big Ten (Rose), Pac-12 (Rose) and SEC (Sugar). The American’s automatic bid is not tied to a particular bowl.



• Notre Dame receives an automatic bid if it finishes in the top eight.



• A champion from a non-automatic qualifying league (Conference USA, MAC, Mountain West, Sun Belt and non-Notre Dame independents) receive an automatic bid if it finishes in the top 12 of the standings or if it finishes in the top 16 and ahead of a champion from a non-AQ conference.



• To be eligible for an at-large BCS bid, a team must have nine or more wins and finish in the top 14 of the BCS standings.



• Once automatic tie-ins are placed, the selection order for BCS bids goes as follows: 1. The bowl losing the BCS No. 1 team to the championship game, 2. The bowl losing the BCS No. 2 team, 3. The Orange Bowl, 4. The Sugar, 5. The Fiesta.

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Before Chris Davis could turn in the play of the year for Auburn as time expired against Alabama, Nick Marshall had his own miraculous scoring play.

Auburn appeared to be on the way to a major blunder as the Tigers called six consecutive run plays an no timeouts on their final offensive possession. Gus Malzahn called an option on the seventh play of the possession when Marshall rolled out to his left. Inches from the line of scrimmage, Marshall flipped the ball to a wide open Sammie Coates for a 39-yard touchdown pass.

“I know it was under a minute and we had a read option right there,” Malzahn said. “It was one of those things like 'do we throw the football,' but I felt like we were getting a rhythm and a cheap one from their corner. He kind of came off and Nick looked back and said 'Let's run the same play.' He knew what we were thinking and made a great throw."

Marshall finished with fewer than 200 yards of total offense, but he was the key player in Auburn’s offense in the 34-28 win over the Tide. Marshall finished with three total touchdowns to earn Athlon Sports National Player of the Week honors.

Athlon Sports Week 14 National Awards

National Offensive Player of the Week: Nick Marshall, Auburn

His stats weren’t overly gaudy, but Marshall ran Gus Malzahn’s offense to near perfection in Auburn’s thrilling 34–28 win over No. 1 Alabama. The junior quarterback completed 11-of-16 passes for 97 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions and added 99 yards and one TD on the ground on 17 attempts. Auburn tied the game at 28–28 with 32 seconds remaining when Marshall found Sammie Coates for a 39-yard score on a brilliantly executed option pass. Marshall has completed just under 60 percent of his passes this season with 11 touchdowns and five interceptions.

Defensive Player of the Week: Kelcy Quarles, South Carolina
Quarles, a junior defensive tackle, was a key cog in a South Carolina defense that limited Clemson to 17 points and 352 yards of offense in the Gamecocks’ 31–17 win in Columbia. Quarles had six tackles, including two sacks — one for minus-six yards midway through the second quarter and one for minus-19 yards just before halftime that forced Clemson to settle for a field goal. Quarles, who leads the team with 13.5 sacks and 9.5 tackles for a loss, is expected to declare for the NFL Draft after the season.

Freshman of the Week: Christian Hackenberg, Penn State
Penn State's true freshman phenom played the best game of his young career in the season finale on the road against a ranked Wisconsin team. Hackenberg was brilliant in Madison, completing 21-of-30 passes for 339 yards and a career-high four touchdown passes against a defense that was giving up less than 14 points per game in 2013. He finished the season with 2,955 yards, 24 total touchdowns and, most importantly, a second straight winning record for Bill O'Brien and Penn State. Hackenberg is as big time a quarterback prospect as the Big Ten has seen in decades and his legend should only grow during the offeason due to this performance.

Coordinator of the Week: Noel Mazzone, UCLA
UCLA walked into the Coliseum and scored 35 points and gained 396 yards with relative ease against the top total defense in the Pac-12. Brett Hundley played flawlessly while leading Mazzone's offense up and down the field without turning the ball over. Only Arizona State, Stanford and Cal have rushed for more yards on the Trojans than UCLA's 188 and only the Sun Devils (62) scored more points on USC than the Bruins' 35.

Athlon Sports Week 14 Conference Awards


ACC
Offense: Kelvin Benjamin, Florida State
Defense: Jeremiah Attaochu, Georgia Tech
Freshman: Jameis Winston, Florida State
Coordinator: George McDonald, Syracuse

Big 12
Offense: John Hubert, Kansas State
Defense: Jackson Jeffcoat, Texas
Freshman: Grant Rohach, Iowa State
Coordinator: Greg Robinson, Texas

Big Ten
Offense: Braxton Miller, Ohio State
Defense: James Morris, Iowa
Freshman: Christian Hackenberg, Penn State
Coordinator: Bill O’Brien, Penn State

Pac-12
Offense: Brett Hundley, UCLA
Defense: Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Oregon
Freshman: Myles Jack, UCLA
Coordinator: Noel Mazzone, UCLA

SEC
Offense: Nick Marshall, Auburn
Defense: Kelcy Quarles, South Carolina
Freshman: Josh Dobbs, Tennessee
Coordinator: Gus Malzahn, Auburn

 

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Unlike other leagues, the Big 12 had few fireworks and few surprises in its second to last week of the season.

The three teams still in contention for the Fiesta Bowl remain so, even if Baylor needed four takeaways to overcome a struggling offense to beat TCU. Texas easily dispatched Texas Tech on Thanksgiving as the Red Raiders lost their fifth consecutive game after a 7-0 start.

Only the Big 12’s four ranked teams will be in action next week as teams like Kansas, TCU and West Virginia wrapped up painful seasons with losses.

Big 12 Week 14 Awards

Offensive Player of the Week: John Hubert, Kansas State
The Wildcats’ tailback rushed for 220 yards and a touchdown on 30 carries in Kansas State’s 31-10 win over Kansas. Hubert, who has had an inconsistent season, finished the year as Kansas State’s first 200-yard rusher since Daniel Thomas rushed for 269 yards against North Texas in 2010. Kansas State defeated Kansas for the fifth consecutive season and scored at least 31 points for the sixth game in a row.

Defensive Player of the Week: Jackson Jeffcoat, Texas
The Longhorns rebounded from the loss to Oklahoma State thanks to a return to the furious pass rush that put Texas into Big 12 contention in the first place. Jeffcoat recorded three of Texas’ season-high nine sacks in the 41-16 win over Texas Tech. Jeffcoat finished with seven total tackles.

Freshman of the Week: Grant Rohach, Iowa State
Iowa State’s quarterback situation may be in good hands for 2014 after a nice finish by Rohach. The redshirt freshman completed 25 of 39 passes for 331 yards with four touchdowns and an interception in the 52-44 triple overtime win over West Virginia. His 54-yard rushing touchdown was the longest run of the season for the Cyclones, and his 300-yard passing games in wins over Kansas and West Virginia are the first back-to-back 300-yard games for Iowa State since 2008.

Team of the Week: Texas
Texas still needs to root for Oklahoma to defeat Oklahoma State next week for the Longhorns to win the Big 12 title, but Texas looked more than ready to do its part next by defeating Baylor. Texas made easy work of Texas Tech in a 41-16 win on Thanksgiving while Baylor had its worst offensive day of the season in a 41-38 win over TCU.

Coordinator of the Week: Greg Robinson, Texas
Texas Tech’s five consecutive losses shouldn’t diminish what the Texas defense did to the Red Raiders — especially given Baylor’s listless performance against a worse TCU team. After failing to sack Clint Chelf in the loss to Oklahoma State two weeks ago, Texas responded with a season-high nine sacks against Texas Tech and a season-high 14 tackles for a loss. Texas limited Texas Tech to 396 yards, its second lowest total of the season.

Big 12 Post Week-14 Power Rankings
 

RankTeamLWRecordResultThis Week 
1110-1, 7-1OffOklahoma 
238-3, 7-1W, Texas Tech 41-16at Baylor 
3210-1, 7-1W, at TCU 41-38Texas 
448-2, 6-2Offat Oklahoma State 
557-5, 5-4W, at Kansas 31-10Season complete 
667-5, 4-5L, at Texas 41-16Season complete 
774-8, 2-7L, Baylor 41-38Season complete 
893-9, 2-7W, at West Virginia 52-44 (3OT)Season complete 
994-8, 2-7L, Iowa State 52-44 (3OT)Season complete 
10103-9, 1-8L, Kansas State 31-10Season complete 

 

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The Big Ten regular season is in the books. Two teams went undefeated in the league, and those two teams will square off in the 2013 Big Ten Championship Game. Michigan State topped Minnesota with a suffocating defense to finish unbeaten in the league for the first time since 1966. Ohio State rode the star backfield tandem of Braxton Miller and Carlos Hyde to defeat Michigan on the road in dramatic and historic fashion. But that wasn't the only excitment in the Big Ten — Penn State's seniors went out as winners, Northwestern finally got a win, Indiana officially improved two years in a row and Bo Pelini had a press conference for the ages.

Here are the Big Ten's Week 14 Superlatives:

Offensive Player of the Week: Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State
Running back Carlos Hyde gets honorable mention for his rivalry-high 226 yards and game-winning touchdown on the ground. But he also nearly gave the game away with a costly fumble while Braxton Miller accounted for five total touchdowns and 286 total yards. Miller rushed for 153 yards and three touchdowns, consistently moving his team up and down the field against a solid Michigan rushing defense. Miller's third game with at least 144 yards rushing in a row and his ability to make big plays with both his legs and arm, make him the most dangerous weapon in the league and a potential late-season Heisman contender. If he does something special against Michigan State to push the Buckeyes the national title game on a 25-game winning streak, he would belong in New York despite missing two games and most of a third early in the season.

Defensive Player of the Week: James Morris, LB, Iowa 
Ohio State's Ryan Shazier continued his campaign for Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year honors with 14 tackles, 1.5 for loss and half of a sack against Michigan. But his unit gave up 603 yards and 41 points to the 96th-rated offense in the nation. Iowa's linebackers have been excellent all season and in a huge road win over Nebraska, Morris posted one of the best stat lines of the year. He had 10 tackles, his fourth interception of the year, four tackles for loss, one sack and a forced fumble. Cornhuskers workhorse back Ameer Abdullah didn't get to 100 yards for the first time in nine games.

Team of the Week: Ohio State
It took a goal line stop on a two-point conversion with 30 seconds left in a one-point game, but Ohio State beat "That Team Up North" in wild and dramatic fashion. In one of the most exciting games ever played between the Midwestern rivals, Ohio State's dynamic duo on offense outlasted a gusty performance from Devin Gardner and the Michigan offense. The two heavyweights traded blows all game, but Urban Meyer got clutch drives when he needed them from his offense and a huge stop on a the winner-take-all two-point gamble by Brady Hoke. Meyer has won 24 straight games to start his Buckeyes career, tying him with Larry Coker for fourth all-time in NCAA history (Pop Warner, 30; Fielding Yost, 29; Walter Camp, 28). Michigan State and the nation's top defense awaits in Indianapolis with a trip to the Rose Bowl — and maybe more for OSU — on the line for both teams.
 
Coordinator of the Week: Bill O'Brien, Penn State
Yes, he is the head coach but he is also the offensive coordinator. And what his offense accomplished this weekend in Madison should not be undersold. Penn State scored 31 points and rolled up 467 yards against a Badgers defense that had been allowing 13.8 points and 278.5 yards per game, both were ranked in the top six nationally. Wisconsin had allowed only 19 total points at home in Big Ten play before losing this weekend and PSU was one yard shy of creating the Badgers worst defensive performance of the season (468, Arizona State). For a team that has struggled on the road this year, the Nittany Lions put together their best game of the year in Camp Randall.

Freshman of the Week: Christian Hackenberg, QB, Penn State
Penn State's true freshman phenom played the best game of his young career in the season finale on the road against a ranked Wisconsin team. Hackenberg was brilliant in Madison, completing 21-of-30 passes for 339 yards and a career-high four touchdown passes against a defense that was giving up less than 14 points per game in 2013. He finished the season with 2,955 yards, 24 total touchdowns and, most important, a second straight winning record for Bill O'Brien and Penn State. Hackenberg is as big time a quarterback prospect as the Big Ten has seen in decades, and his legend should only grow during the offeason due to this performance.
 
Big Ten Post-Week 14 Power Rankings
 TeamLWRecordThis WeekNext Week
1.(1)12-0, 8-0W, Michigan, 42-41Michigan St
2.

(2)11-1, 8-0W, Minnesota, 14-3 Ohio St
3.

(3)9-3, 6-2L, Penn St, 31-24 Bye
4.

(6)8-4, 5-3W, Nebraska, 38-17Bye
5.

(4)8-4, 4-4L, Michigan St, 14-3Bye
6.(5)8-4, 5-3L, Iowa, 38-17Bye
7.

(8)

7-5, 4-4

W, Wisconsin, 31-24Bye
8.

(7)7-5, 3-5L, Ohio St, 42-41Bye
9.

(9)5-7, 3-5W, Purdue, 56-36 Bye
10.

(10)5-7, 1-7W, Illinois, 37-34  Bye
11.

(11)4-8, 1-7L, Northwestern, 37-34Bye
12.

(12)1-11, 0-8L, Indiana, 56-36 Bye

 

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The Civil War, Apple Cup, Battle for the Victory Bell, Territorial Cup and Rumble in the Rockies always make the final weekend of Pac-12 action exciting. The in-state and crosstown battles make the Pac-12's rivalries underrated nationally. However, the most that was on the line in all but one game was simply bragging rights — even in the historic Stanford-Notre Dame bout. The Duel in the Desert was the only game that carried any weight as Arizona State was attempting to clinch home-field advantage in the Pac-12 title game.

And they did just that in impressive fashion. 

Offensive Player of the Week: Brett Hundley, QB, UCLA
On the road against the league's No. 1 total defense and No. 2 scoring defense, Hundley was efficient and productive against his crosstown rival. He finished 18-of-27 passing for 208 yards with 80 more yards on the ground, two total touchdowns and no interceptions. The Bruins scored more points against the Trojans defense than USC had allowed since Lane Kiffin was the head coach. Both Tyler Gaffney (33 carries, 189 yards, TD) and Bishop Sankey (34 carries, 240 yards from scrimmage, TD) were impressive in rivalry games as well.

Defensive Player of the Wek: Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, CB, Oregon
In one of the more underrated rivalries in the nation, the All-America cornerback was charged with guarding Oregon State's Brandin Cooks, a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award. Ekpre-Olomu had 12 solo tackles, three passes broken up and one critical interception in the one-point Civil War classic. He did allow 10 completions to Cooks (exactly his per game average) but he held him to 30 yards below his average and kept him out of the end zone for just the third time this fall.

Team of the Week: Arizona State
On a weekend where very little was settled other than in-state bragging rights, the Sun Devils proved that it may be the team of the year in the Pac-12. Arizona State scored 58 points in a thorough destruction of archival Arizona in the Territorial Cup. The win means the Sun Devils have the best record in the Pac-12 and will be the host for the Pac-12 Championship Game this weekend. It also means Stanford won't have a chance to extend its 16-game home winning streak, and ASU has a chance to extend its eight-game home streak. Todd Graham in just his second season in Tempe could return Arizona State to the Rose Bowl for the first time 1996, a game it hasn't won since 1986.

Coordinator of the Week: Noel Mazzone, UCLA
UCLA walked into the Coliseum and scored 35 points and gained 396 yards with relative ease against the top total defense in the Pac-12. Brett Hundley played flawlessly while leading Mazzone's offense up and down the field without turning the ball over. Only Arizona State, Stanford and Cal have rushed for more yards on the Trojans than UCLA's 188 and only the Sun Devils (62) scored more points on USC than the Bruins' 35.

Freshman of the Week: Myles Jack, LB, UCLA
Back right where he belongs making tackles on defense, Jack got back into the two-way swing of things in a huge road win over USC. After not playing at all on defense in a critical loss to Arizona State, Jim L. Mora put his electric freshman linebacker back on defense — for the most part. He posted three tackles and got just a pair of offensive touches, the fewest since becoming a two-way player. That said, he still made a big impact on both sides of the ball, scoring the first quarter's only points for either team on a three-yard plunge. Colorado's Addison Gilliam was also excellent in defeat. He posted 14 tackles and an interception in the loss to Utah.
 

Pac-12 Post-Week 14 Power Rankings:

RankTeamLWRecordThis WeekNext Week
1(1)10-2, 7-2W, Notre Dame, 27-20 Arizona St
2(2)10-2, 7-2W, Oregon St, 36-35Bye
3(3)10-2, 8-1W, Arizona, 58-21   Stanford
4(4)9-3, 6-3W, USC, 35-14Bye
5(5)9-4, 6-3L, UCLA, 35-14Bye
6(6)8-4, 5-4W, Washington St, 27-17Bye
7(7)6-6, 4-5L, Oregon, 36-35Bye
8(8)6-6, 4-5L, Washingon, 27-17Bye
9(9)7-5, 4-5L, Arizona St, 58-21Bye
10(10)5-7, 2-7W, Colorado, 24-17 Bye 
11(11)4-8, 1-8L, Utah, 24-17 Bye
12(12)1-11, 0-9ByeBye

 

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The ACC went 1-3 against its SEC rivals, but Florida State’s win over Florida puts the Seminoles in position to play for the national championship with a victory in the ACC title game next Saturday.

Duke’s surprising season continued with a 27-25 victory over North Carolina, which sends the Blue Devils to Charlotte for the ACC Championship next week. This is the first time Duke will play in the ACC title game.

Virginia and NC State finished 2013 winless in ACC play, while Syracuse scored a touchdown in the final seconds to beat Boston College and earn bowl eligibility in Scott Shafer’s first season.

Clemson lost to South Carolina for the fifth consecutive season, but the Tigers are still in good shape to play in a BCS bowl.
 

ACC Week 14 Awards and Recap

Offensive Player of the Week: Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State
Florida’s secondary was the best defensive backfield Florida State faced in 2013, but the Seminoles had no trouble moving the ball through the air. Benjamin was the top performer in Florida State’s 37-7 victory, catching nine passes for 212 yards and three touchdowns. Benjamin’s 212 yards were a career high, while his three touchdown receptions marked the second consecutive game of more than one score. The sophomore also averaged 23.6 yards per reception against the Gators.

Defensive Player of the Week: Jeremiah Attaochu, DE, Georgia Tech
Attaochu earns defensive player of the week honors in a losing effort, but the senior turned in one of his best performances of the season against rival Georgia. Attaochu dominated the line of scrimmage, recording eight tackles (four for a loss) and four sacks. The senior also broke up one pass. The Bulldogs still averaged six yards per play and rallied to win 41-34 in overtime, but Attaochu was nearly unblockable for Georgia’s offensive line on Saturday night.

Team of the Week: Duke
A historic season for Duke continued on Saturday, as the Blue Devils defeated rival North Carolina 27-25 to claim its first Coastal Division championship. Despite having a better record than its in-state rival, Duke was an underdog for Saturday’s matchup in Chapel Hill. But the Blue Devils made timely plays to seal the victory, including two by DeVon Edwards. With Duke trailing 15-10 late in the first half, Edwards took a kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown, and the freshman intercepted a pass with less than a minute to go to clinch the Coastal Division. The Blue Devils’ offense averaged 5.6 yards per play, with quarterback Anthony Boone completing 23 of 34 throws for 274 yards and two scores. With the victory over North Carolina, Duke earned its 10th victory of the season, which is the first time in school history it reached the double-digit plateau. The Blue Devils also finished the regular season with an unbeaten record on the road (5-0) and extended their winning streak to eight games.

Coordinator of the Week: George McDonald, Syracuse
McDonald has experienced his share of ups and downs in his first year as Syracuse’s play-caller. However, Saturday’s win over Boston College was arguably the best game McDonald called in ACC play. The Orange recorded a season-high 480 yards against the Eagles, averaging 5.1 yards per play on 94 attempts. Syracuse’s run-first offense found success against Boston College (210 yards), but quarterback Terrel Hunt provided much-needed balance by throwing for 270. With the Orange trailing 31-27 late in the fourth quarter, McDonald’s play-calling was at its best on the final drive. Syracuse never reached third down on the eight-play drive, with Hunt finding Josh Parris on a well-designed play for an eight-yard touchdown with six seconds left.

Freshman of the Week: Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State
Even though Florida entered Saturday’s game with a disappointing 4-7 record, its defense was still one of the best in the SEC. While the Gators’ defense managed to hold Florida State’s offense under 40 points for the first time this season, it wasn’t enough to threaten the Seminoles’ unbeaten record. Winston was intercepted on his fifth pass, but the freshman rallied with a strong effort, finishing 19 of 31 for 327 yards and three touchdowns. Winston’s 327 yards was the most since throwing for 444 yards and three touchdowns in a 51-14 win over Clemson. And the 61.3 completion mark in Saturday’s game was Winston’s 10th over 60 percent this season. If Winston has another strong performance against Duke in next week’s ACC Championship, the freshman should be a heavy favorite to win the Heisman on Dec. 14.

ACC Post-Week 14 Power Rankings

RankTeamRecordThis WeekLast Week
112-0, 8-0W, Florida 37-7Duke
210-2, 7-1L, South Carolina 31-17Regular season finished
310-2, 6-2W, North Carolina 27-25Florida State
48-4, 5-3W, Virginia 16-6Regular season finished
59-3, 5-3W, Pittsburgh 41-31Regular season finished
67-5, 5-3L, Georgia 41-34Regular season finished
76-6, 4-4L, Duke 27-25Regular season finished
87-5, 4-4L, Syracuse 34-31Regular season finished
96-6, 3-5L, Miami 41-31Regular season finished
106-6, 4-4W, Boston College 34-31Regular season finished
117-5, 3-5W, NC State 41-21Regular season finished
124-8, 2-6L, Vanderbilt 23-21Regular season finished
133-8, 0-8L, Maryland 41-21Regular season finished
142-10, 0-8L, Virginia Tech 16-6Regular season finished

 

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The Iron Bowl highlighted one of the wildest weeks in recent college football history. Auburn’s unlikely win is the obviously headliner, but there were other intriguing games in the SEC. Missouri punched its ticket to the SEC title game with a win over Texas A&M; Georgia finished on a strong note by rallying past Georgia Tech in overtime; LSU beat Arkansas in Baton Rouge despite losing quarterback Zach Mettenberger to an injury in the fourth quarter; South Carolina topped rival Clemson for the fifth straight time; Mississippi State became bowl-eligible with an overtime win over Ole Miss in the Egg Bowl; Vanderbilt picked up win No. 8 by beating Wake Forest on a late field goal; Butch Jones recorded his first road win as the UT head coach as the Vols took care of Kentucky; and Florida’s miserable season ended in predictable fashion — with a loss at home to Florida State.

SEC Week 14 Recap and Awards

Offensive Player of the Week: Nick Marshall, Auburn
His stats weren’t overly gaudy, but Marshall ran Gus Malzahn’s offense to near perfection in Auburn’s thrilling 34–28 win over No. 1 Alabama. The junior quarterback completed 11-of-16 passes for 97 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions and added 99 yards and one TD on the ground on 17 attempts. Auburn tied the game at 28–28 with 32 seconds remaining when Marshall found Sammie Coates for a 39-yard score on a brilliantly executed option pass. Marshall has completed just under 60 percent of his passes this season with 11 TDs and five INTs.

Defensive Player of the Week: Kelcy Quarles, South Carolina
Quarles, a junior defensive tackle, was a key cog in a South Carolina defense that limited Clemson to 17 points and 352 yards of offense in the Gamecocks’ 31–17 win in Columbia. Quarles had six tackles, including two sacks — one for negative six yards midway through the second quarter and one for negative 19 yards just before halftime that forced Clemson to settle for a field goal. Quarles, who leads the team with 13.5 sacks and 9.5 tackles for a loss, is expected to declare for the NFL Draft after the season.  

Team of the Week: Auburn
Who else but the Auburn Tigers? Gus Malzhan’s club completed the unlikely worst-to-first journey by stunning Alabama 34–28 in one of the most memorable college football games ever played. Auburn, which never led until the clock hit 0:00, scored two touchdowns in the final minute — one a Sammie Coates 39-yard reception with 32 seconds remaining and one on a 100-yard return by Chris Davis on a missed field goal. Auburn, which went 0–8 in the SEC last year, finished the 2013 season with a 7–1 mark despite only outgaining its eight league opponents by an average of 3.2 yards per game.

Coordinator of the Week: Gus Malzahn, Auburn
Rhett Lashlee has the title of offensive coordinator, but Malzahn is the man who runs the offensive show at Auburn. The Tigers, playing against one of the elite defenses in the nation, rolled up 393 yards of offense, including 296 on the ground — the most by an SEC team against Alabama in the Nick Saban era. Auburn closed the season by rushing for 444 yards against Tennessee, 323 against Georgia and 296 against Alabama.

Freshman of the Week: Josh Dobbs, Tennessee
In his fourth career start, Dobbs completed 14-of-23 passes for 199 yards with two touchdowns and one interception to lead Tennessee to a 27–14 win over Kentucky in the season-finale for both teams. Dobbs, a true freshman from Georgia, also rushed for 52 yards on seven carries, including a 40-yard touchdown run in the second quarter that put the Volunteers up 20–0. Prior to Saturday, Dobbs had zero touchdowns and five interceptions four career games.

RankTeamLWRecordLast WeekNext Week
1211-1, 7-1W, Alabama 34-28vs. Missouri
2111-1, 7-1L, Auburn 34-28Off until bowl
3411-1, 7-1W, Texas A&M 28-21vs. Auburn
4310-2, 6-2W, Clemson 31-17Off until bowl
559-3, 5-3W, Arkansas 31-27Off until bowl
668-4, 4-4L, Missouri 28-21Off until bowl
77
  1. 8-4, 5-3
W, Ga. Tech 41-34 (2ot)Off until bowl
887-5, 3-5L, Miss. State 17-10 (ot)Off until bowl
998-4, 4-4W, Wake Forest 23-21Off until bowl
10106-6, 3-5W, Ole Miss 17-10 (ot)Off until bowl
11114-8, 3-5L, Florida St. 37-7Season over
12125-7, 2-6W, Kentucky 27-14Season over
1314
  1. 3-9, 0-8
L, LSU 31-27Season over
1413
  1. 3-9, 0-8
L, Tennessee 27-14Season over

 

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Nick Marshall’s deflected touchdown pass to Ricardo Louis to beat Georgia stood as perhaps the best play in Auburn history. One of the biggest plays in SEC lore.

Not anymore.

When fans tell the story of the 2013 Auburn season, Marshall to Louis (via the hands of a Georgia player) will be No. 2.

Chris Davis set off mayhem at Jordan-Hare Stadium by returning Alabama’s failed last-second 57-yard field goal attempt from the back of Auburn end zone to Alabama’s end zone for a 34-28 win to topple the No. 1 Crimson Tide.

Auburn clinches a spot in the SEC Championship Game, but that’s secondary. Auburn has clinched a spot among one of the most miraculous teams in college football history.

Between Marshall’s miracle pass to beat Georgia and Davis’ runback to beat Alabama, Auburn has produced the equivalent of Doug Flutie’s Hail Mary and the Bluegrass Miracle in a span of three weeks.

The win likely costs Alabama a bid at a third consecutive national championship while giving Auburn an outside shot at claiming its own bid to extend the SEC title streak to eight.

But all of that is conjecture at this point. Auburn’s 2013 season place as the most charmed years in college football history isn’t in doubt.



Three and Out: College Football Week 14 Recap

Three Things We Learned From Auburn 34, Alabama 28

Auburn will make a compelling case for the BCS Championship Game. Ohio State and Florida State remain undefeated, but look for the conversation to begin about Auburn leap-frogging one of them in the event of an SEC championship (Auburn AD Jay Jacobs is already lobbying). Precedent says that talk is hokum. No one-loss team has ever jumped an undefeated major conference team for a title spot in BCS history. Then again, two teams from the same conference facing each other in a rematch for the title would have been ludicrious before 2011. Auburn has the lone loss of the three teams (35-21 at LSU). But Auburn also entered the week with the toughest schedule of any of those three. After defeating Alabama, the Tigers have the 26th-ranked schedule and a 3-1 record against the top 30, according to the Sagarin ratings. Ohio State’s schedule is ranked 61st; Florida State’s is 66th. But Auburn entered the week trailing the top three in the BCS by nearly a tenth of a point, a significant amount with two weeks left in the season.

 AuburnFlorida StateOhio State
Wins over teams with winning recordsAlabama, Arkansas State, Georgia, Ole Miss, Texas A&MBoston College, Clemson, Maryland, MiamiBuffalo, Iowa, Michigan, Penn State, San Diego State, Wisconsin
Wins over current BCS top 25Alabama, Texas A&MClemsonWisconsin
Final gameMissouriDukeMichigan State

Alabama, for the first time in a long time, was mistake-prone. From beginning to end, special teams were an issue for the Crimson Tide, down to the game-winning runback. Alabama punter Cody Mandell dropped a punt in the first quarter, and Cade Foster stutter-stepped on his first of three missed field goals. Nick Saban’s lack of confidence in special teams spilled into the fourth quarter when he elected to run his offense on fourth-and-1 from the Auburn 13 (T.J. Yeldon was stuffed for no gain). Alabama forced a three and out and got the ball at the Auburn 27 but again came up short when Foster’s field goal was blocked. On the final play of the game, rather than taking a knee for overtime, Alabama sent out a freshman kicker with one career kick for a 57-yard attempt.

Auburn is a miracle team. Auburn isn’t in the SEC Championship Game simply because it’s lucky. Auburn proved to be Alabama's equal Saturday. Though the Crimson Tide outgained Auburn by 102 yards and more than two yards per play, Auburn held Alabama to 4 of 13 on third down and had the special teams edge long before the final touchdown. The Tigers are a definite top five or better team, but they’ve had their good fortune beyond the miracle plays to beat Georgia and Alabama. Auburn has taken advantage of just about every play on the razor’s edge in the final month of the season. Against Alabama, Nick Marshall completed his final touchdown pass just a toe short of the line of scrimmage. Marshall ran to his left on an option play, switched the football from one hand to the other and was just short of the line when he found Sammy Coates open for the game-tying 39-yard touchdown. And on the final drive, officials put one second back on the clock when T.J. Yeldon ran out of bounds. Of course, Auburn fans would be cursing officials if Adam Griffith converts the 57-yard field goal, but the endgame was Davis’ miracle touchdown.

Three Things We Learned From Ohio State 42, Michigan 41

Ohio State’s backfield is something special. This isn’t a new revelation, but it took nearly the entire season for a high-profile performance like this out of Braxton Miller and Carlos Hyde as a tandem. Blame the Big Ten schedule. Blame the early season injury (Miller) and suspension (Hyde). The duo gashed Michigan’s defense up the middle all day with Hyde rushing for 226 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries and Miller rushing for 153 yards and three touchdowns on 16 carries. Michigan kept coming back against the Ohio State defense, but anytime the Buckeyes needed to move the ball, Hyde and Miller delivered. After a slow start, Miller still finished 6 of 15 passing for 133 yards with two touchdowns and interceptions. Given the way the Heisman race has self-destructed in recent weeks, one has to wonder how Miller or Hyde would have fared if both played all season. The duo that averaged 379 rushing yards and 8.8 yards per carry against Michigan will face a Michigan State defense that’s allowed 100 rushing yards in a game only twice this season.

Ohio State’s defense came up when it mattered ... and that’s about it. When the Buckeyes make a case for the BCS Championship Game, they won’t point to Saturday’s defense. Ohio State entered the game ranked fourth in a lackluster Big Ten in total defense before allowing 603 yards to Michigan. Devin Gardner and his supporting cast have shown this potential, but what makes for exciting rivalry week football didn’t make for a resounding statement for the Buckeyes. Ohio State opened a 35-21 lead entering the fourth quarter before three Michigan scoring drives in the fourth quarter set up the potential go-ahead two-point attempt. Stops where hard to find as Ohio State allowed Michigan to score on touchdown drives of 99, 83 and 84 yards.

Michigan finally took some chances ... and failed. The Wolverines have not been the most risky team in the Big Ten this season, but that changed against Ohio State. The most prominent example was the decision to go for a two-point conversion to take a lead in the final 32 seconds rather than going for a game-tying extra point. Brady Hoke and Al Borges called for a pass play to Devin Gardner’s right with three receivers stacked in the formation. Top receivers Devin Funchess and Jeremy Gallon were covered when Gardner went for Drew Dileo. The window was tight, and freshman Tyvis Powell jumped in front of Dileo for the interception. Earlier in the game, Hoke also elected to go with his offense on a fourth-and-2 from the Ohio State 14. The conversion failed, and Ohio State scored on the ensuing drive. Michigan is only two weeks removed from kicking two sub-30-yard field goals in regulation against Northwestern, so it will be interesting to see what happens next time Hoke is in risky or conservative play call situation.

Moving the Chains

Missouri’s defense. The Tigers continued to erase any doubt about being one of the SEC’s best defenses, clinching a bid to face Auburn’s dominant run game in the SEC title game. Missouri defeated Texas A&M 28-21 to clinch the East, largely because the Tigers flummoxed Johnny Manziel for his second consecutive week. In some ways, Missouri topped even what LSU did last week against the reigning Heisman winner. Manziel was 24 of 35 for 195 yards with a touchdown and rushed for only 21 yards on 11 carries. His 216 yards of total offense was his fewest since 113 against Rice in a suspension-shortened game and a career-low in a game in which he was eligible for all four quarters.

Pac-12 run games. To start the weekend, all that really appeared to be in question in the Pac-12 this week was the site of the Pac-12 title game — Arizona State ended up clinching it. The teams that won this week, not shockingly, put up impressive numbers in the run game, in some cases from unsuspected sources. Stanford’s Tyler Gaffney (season-high 189 yards against Notre Dame) and Washington’s Bishop Sankey (200 yards against Washington State) grinded their way to wins. Oregon’s Thomas Tyner broke out for 140 yards against Oregon State. UCLA cobbled together 188 yards led by Brett Hundley and two touchdowns from defensive players. And Arizona State’s D.J. Foster filled in for an injured Marion Grice to rush for 124 yards and two touchdowns in a 58-21 win over Arizona to clinch home field advantage in the Pac-12 title game against Stanford.

Duke’s close game prowess. Duke basketball is the villain, but Duke football is the lovable underdog after sealing a 10-win season and a spot in the ACC Championship Game with a 27-25 win over North Carolina. The Blue Devils kicked a 27-yard field goal in the final 3:05 to pick up yet another close win this season. Duke is 4-1 in games decided by less than a touchdown this year, including three close wins on the road (Virginia Tech, Wake Forest and North Carolina).

False Starts

Clemson. The Tigers’ season started with such promise with a win over a healthy Georgia team in the first week of the season, but Clemson’s 10-2 season came up short in a number of departments: An uncompetitive loss at home to Florida State, no ACC title and now a fifth consecutive loss to South Carolina that ended any hope of a BCS game. Tajh Boyd threw two interceptions, the first into the end zone on Clemson’s first possession (converted for a long South Carolina TD drive) and then fumbled at the South Carolina 33 in the fourth quarter (setting up the Gamecocks’ drive that sealed the game). Clemson has a bowl game to avoid a Pyrrhic victory of a season.

Wisconsin’s defense. The Badgers had allowed more than nine points in a Big Ten game only once since the loss to Ohio State on Sept. 28. Penn State topped that in the first half of a 31-24 win. Penn State freshman Christian Hackenberg further solidified his spot as a rising star by completing 21 of 30 passes with 339 yards and four touchdowns to knock the Badgers out of the BCS at-large mix. Wisconsin had a chance to win in the final possession of the game before Joel Stave threw his third interception of the game.

Baylor’s offense. Hangover from the Oklahoma State loss or not, Baylor looked nothing like a team looking to preserve its hopes of a Big 12 title, BCS game and top 10 finish in a 41-38 win over TCU. Despite the return of Lache Seastrunk and Glasco Martin, Baylor amassed a season-low 370 yards and allowed TCU to stay in the game thanks to 15 penalties for 140 yards. Bryce Petty had one of his worst games of the season with a season-low 5.4 yards per attempt and only his second pick of the season. Baylor’s defense helped bail out the Bears with four interceptions. In addition, TCU coach Gary Patterson was irked with Baylor after safety Ahmad Dixon was ejected for a targeting penalty against quarterback Trevone Boykin. Patterson said his assistants saw Dixon laughing on the sideline, and a Baylor assistant yelled at the TCU sideline after the hit.

Heisman Movers

AJ McCarron, Alabama. What will voters make of McCarron in Alabama’s loss? Clearly, his performance is the second storyline at best. But McCarron still delivered two memorable moments by leading two scoring drives starting with deep pass plays out of his own end zone, the final one a 99-yard pass to Amari Cooper to take a lead in the fourth quarter. McCarron finished 17 of 29 for 277 yards with three touchdowns, often fielding low snaps from a new center. A win may have been the only thing to allow McCarron to gain ground on Jameis Winston.

Andre Williams, Boston College. Last week’s Heisman darling won’t be in much of the conversation this week. The nation’s top rusher left the game with an injury in the third quarter of a 34-31 loss to Syracuse. Even before he left the game, Williams wasn’t much of a factor with 29 yards and a touchdown on nine carries.

Jordan Lynch, Northern Illinois. Thanks to Fresno State’s wild loss to San Jose State, Northern Illinois is only non-automatic qualifying team in the mix for a BCS bid. Lynch will get consideration after rushing for 321 yards and three touchdowns in the win over Western Michigan, never mind that he went 5 of 17 for 39 yards passing against a 1-11 team.

Stat Watch

5-3. The SEC’s record against the ACC. The ACC split its first four games against the SEC this season, and the final week of the regular season appeared to give the ACC its best chance for a winning record against its rival league in more than a decade with a top 10 Clemson team facing South Carolina, Florida State against the worst Florida team since 1979 and Georgia Tech facing Georgia without Aaron Murray. The SEC, though, went 3-1 on the last day of the season, giving it a chance for its its sixth consecutive winning season and 11th consecutive non-losing season against the ACC, depending on the bowl games.

SEC WinsACC Wins
South Carolina 27, North Carolina 10
Alabama 35, Virginia Tech 10
Georgia 41, Georgia Tech 34 (OT)
Vanderbilt 23, Wake Forest 21
South Carolina 31, Clemson 17
Clemson 38, Georgia 25
Miami 21, Florida 16
Florida State 37, Florida 7

31.3. Florida State’s average margin of victory vs. Florida, Miami and Clemson. Florida State defeated Florida 37-7 in a result that wasn’t unexpected against the overmatched Gators. Still, this wraps up a banner season for the Seminoles against their top rivals. All three wins, all decided by at least 27 points, were among the top four most lopsided Florida State wins in each series.

3-0. South Carolina’s record against the last three SEC East champions. That’s not a number that will infuriate South Carolina fans, right? South Carolina defeated Georgia in back-to-back seasons in 2011-12 even though the Bulldogs won the SEC East. South Carolina followed that by defeating Missouri 27-24 in overtime as the Tigers won the East. The Gamecocks’ loss to 5-7 Tennessee this season, though, may be the most embarrassing of the defeats that knocked Carolina out of SEC contention.

Buried on the Depth Chart

2014 Heisman Watch
Christian Hackenberg, Penn State
Nick Marshall, Auburn
Thomas Tyner, Oregon

Bowl Eligible
Mississippi State
San Jose State
ULM

BCS Stock Up
Oregon
Michigan State
Northern Illinois

BCS Stock Down
Clemson
Fresno State
Wisconsin

Could Use a Few Bowl Practices
NC State
Virginia
West Virginia

Conference Championship Games
ACC: Duke vs. Florida State
Big Ten: Michigan St. vs. Ohio St.
C-USA: Marshall vs. Rice
MAC: Bowling Green vs. Northern Illinois
MW: Fresno State vs. Utah State
Pac-12: Stanford at Arizona State
SEC: Auburn vs. Missouri

Best of the Rest Next Week
Oklahoma at Oklahoma State
Texas at Baylor
Louisville at Cincinnati
Southern Miss avoids history. As Duke won 10 games this season, a dubious Duke record remains unbroken. Southern Miss defeated UAB 62-27 to end its 23-game losing streak. The win ensures 2000-01 Duke remains the only team to go winless in back-to-back seasons in the last 30 years.

FAU under Brian Wright. FAU had one of the more embarrassing storylines this season when coach Carl Pelini and defensive coordinator Pete Rekstis resigned due to use of illegal drugs (or failure to report drug use). The Owls, though, rebounded under interim coach Brian Wright to win the final four games of the season, capped with a 21-6 victory over FIU. FAU is bowl eligible at 6-6.

Hawaii dodges winless season. Long after most viewers went to bed, Hawaii found an opponent it could beat after a pair of close calls in the last two weeks. The Warriors defeated Army 49-42, leaving Miami (Ohio) and Georgia State as the only winless teams for 2013.

Good Signs for 2014

Anthony Jennings, LSU. The Tigers have had to wait a few years for above average quarterback play before Zach Mettenberger became one of the most improved passers this season. The Tigers may not need to wait that long if Friday was any indication for freshman Anthony Jennings. The rookie replaced an injured Mettenberger to lead an improbable 99-yard drive to beat Arkansas 31-27. Jennings completed 4 of 6 passes for 76 yards, including 49-yard game winning score, on the final drive.

Thomas Tyner, Oregon. The Ducks' heralded freshman had been a key cog in Oregon’s backfield all season, but he flashed what he could do as a primary back against Oregon State. Tyner rushed for 140 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries in the 36-35 win over Oregon State on Friday. Quarterback Marcus Mariota and running back De’Anthony Thomas draft eligible.

Huston Mason, Georgia. Watching someone play quarterback for Georgia other than Murray was a strange sight. Once Mason presided over a second-half comeback, all seemed to be normal. Having Todd Gurley, of course, helped. Mason, though, completed 22 of 36 passes for 299 yards with two touchdowns and an interception as Georgia erased a 20-point deficit for a 41-34 win in double overtime. Mason, a junior, may be a one-year starting quarterback, but at least Georgia fans know what they’ve got.

Key Hot Seat Numbers

$7.5 million. Nebraska began Saturday with its athletic director offering support for Bo Pelini after a Friday that left Omaha (Neb.) World-Herald columnist Tom Shatel writing the coach “set himself on fire” with his conduct during and after the game. The column was scathing, but Pelini didn’t help his case by saying “if they want to fire me, go ahead.” While athletic director Shawn Eichorst again backed Pelini, Nebraska chancellor Harvey Perlman offered no comment to the Lincoln (Neb.) Star-Journal. At play may be a $7.5 million buyout for the embattled coach.

8. Consecutive games since Florida put up 400 yards of offense. Florida put up 193 yards of offense and seven points against Florida State as the Gators’ offense continued to show little life, especially after running/receiving threat Trey Burton was lost for the remainder of the game with an injury. Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley again endorsed coach Will Muschamp for 2014, but changes on the offensive staff are a foregone conclusion. Like Pelini, Muschamp also has a significant buyout at $2 million each season through 2017, according to The Palm Beach (Fla.) Post. The key for Muschamp will be finding an offensive coordinator willing to take a job under a head coach who will be under intense scrutiny.

1-5. Rutgers’ record since Oct. 10. Two seasons under Kyle Flood and two midseason collapses for Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights lost 28-17 to Connecticut, a team that entered the game with one win this season. UConn further took advantage of a bad Rutgers pass defense by completing 25 of 33 passes for 312 yards with three touchdowns. Rutgers has gone 1-5 in its last six games, meaning the Knights need a win over USF to be bowl eligible. In Flood’s first season, Rutgers limped to a 2-4 finish after a 7-0 start.

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First place in the AFC West and the top seed in the playoffs are on the line this afternoon when the Denver Broncos face the Kansas City Chiefs at 4:25 p.m. ET on CBS. The Broncos and Chiefs are currently tied for the best record in the AFC at 9-2, with Denver holding the tiebreaker edge over Kansas City by virtue of their 27-17 win two weeks ago.

For the first time all season, both teams are coming off of losses, as Denver and Peyton Manning tied a franchise record by blowing a 24-point halftime lead to New England last week before losing in overtime, 34-31. Kansas City’s 41-38 loss to San Diego last Sunday was its second loss in a row and the first at home all season for Alex Smith and company. Now the Chiefs look to bounce back and snap a three-game losing streak to their division rivals in the process.

3 Things to Watch

You Look Familiar…
It was just two weeks ago that Denver and Kansas City faced each other. At that time, the Chiefs were the only remaining undefeated team (9-0), while the Broncos had just one loss (8-1). The Broncos jumped out to a 10-0 lead at home in the first quarter and never really looked back. Denver would go on to win 27-17 behind 323 yards passing by Peyton Manning. The 27 points were, at the time, the most allowed by Kansas City’s defense, which didn’t record a single sack of Manning. On offense, the Chiefs out-gained the Broncos 144 to 104 on the ground, but struggled to find their rhythm in the passing game. Alex Smith had one more touchdown pass (2 to 1) than Manning, but nearly 100 fewer yards and he was sacked three times. Each team lost a fumble and drew their share of yellow flags. The teams combined for 22 penalties for 135 yards, with the Broncos (13 for 82 yards) being the bigger culprit. Outside of the score and total yardage (Denver 427, Kansas City 344), there was very little separation between them, statistically speaking. First downs were even (24 apiece), the total number of plays was very close (76 to 73) and just 14 seconds separated the Broncos (29:53) and Chiefs (30:07) in time of possession. In the end, the Broncos were just a little more efficient and productive in the passing game, which combined with the Chiefs’ inability to get to Manning, resulted in Denver staying perfect at home and moving into first place in the AFC West.

Bumps and Bruises
Last week was tough for both Denver and Kansas City, and not just because they both lost after leading at halftime. Several key players for both teams sustained injuries, and their potential absences or limited capacities could greatly impact this game. For the Broncos, the biggest concern is running back Knowshon Moreno, who gashed the Patriots for a career-high 224 yards last week, but left the stadium on crutches after sustaining a bone bruise to his right ankle. Despite the initial concern, Moreno did return to practice on Thursday and Friday and is expected to play. The status of cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is a little more uncertain. Rodgers-Cromartie injured his shoulder against the Patriots, which caused him to leave the game and not return. His absence was one of the catalysts that helped fuel the Patriots’ second-half comeback. He was limited in Friday’s practice and is considered questionable to play this afternoon. The Broncos could get a boost, however, with the return of tight end Julius Thomas and cornerback Champ Bailey. Thomas was held out of last week’s game because of a knee injury, but is currently on track to play, while Bailey is expected to be back in the lineup for the first time since re-aggravating a foot injury back in Week 7. Kansas City’s defense, however, may not be as fortunate when it comes to its banged-up personnel. Linebackers Justin Houston and Tamba Hail both left last week’s game against San Diego with injuries. Hali sprained his ankle, but he has insisted that he will play. Houston, meanwhile, dislocated his elbow and reportedly could miss up to three weeks. The Chiefs entered Week 13 with an NFL-leading 37 sacks. Houston (11 sacks, tied for third in the NFL) and Hali (9, tied for 10th) are responsible for 20 of them. Kansas City didn’t record a single sack or quarterback hit on Peyton Manning in the first game two weeks ago. This task only figures to get harder without Houston and if Hail ends up being limited. For example, even though Houston didn’t have a sack in the first game, he led the Chiefs with 10 total tackles (9 solo). Injuries are just part of the game, especially at this point in the season, but it appears that the Broncos are the healthier team entering this key contest.

Which Defense Bounces Back Best?
Through the first nine games, Kansas City’s defense had allowed no more than 17 points and 283 yards passing. In their last two games, losses to the Broncos and Chargers, the Chiefs have given up an average of 34 points per game and 355 yards through the air. Last week, Philip Rivers carved up the pass defense for nearly 400 yards (392) and three touchdowns. Peyton Manning threw for 323 against Kansas City the first time, and the Chiefs will be without their most productive pass-rusher (Justin Houston) this afternoon. One way or the other, the Chiefs’ defense needs to fix what’s been ailing it the past two weeks. For Denver’s defense, it was a tale of two halves last week in New England. After shutting out the Patriots in the first half and doing everything right, the wheels came completely off in the final two quarters. Top cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie injured his shoulder on the final play of the first half and didn’t return. The Broncos’ defense wasn’t the same after that, as Tom Brady completed 81 percent of his passes and threw three touchdowns in the third and fourth quarters to help send the game into overtime. A couple of untimely turnovers certainly didn’t help matters, but no doubt interim head coach Jack Del Rio and his staff spent a lot of time this week trying to figure out what went wrong, especially in pass coverage. Both defenses had their moments in the Week 11 meeting and now it’s up to both units to quickly put last week’s disastrous performances behind and focus on the task ahead. This isn’t basketball, but whichever defense “wins” the rebound battle this afternoon will likely leave Arrowhead Stadium victorious.

Denver Key Player: Montee Ball, RB
Knowshon Moreno was the man and then some last week against New England, rushing for 224 yards and a touchdown. Alas, it wasn’t enough as the Broncos blew a 24-0 halftime lead and lost 34-31 in overtime. On top of that, the 37 carries Moreno had took their toll, as he left Gillette Stadium on crutches after sustaining a bone bruise to his right ankle. Moreno is expected to play this afternoon, but the situation brought to light one of the Broncos’ biggest concerns entering the stretch run – not overworking their No. 1 back. That’s where Ball, and to a degree either C.J. Anderson or Ronnie Hillman, are supposed to come in. Ball, Denver’s second-round pick in April’s draft, has contributed more as the season has gone on, including three rushing touchdowns over his last four games. However, ball security remains an issue for the rookie, as he’s lost three fumbles. The latest was rather costly, as Ball fumbled on a screen pass on the Broncos’ first possession of the second half after New England scored its first touchdown. The Patriots turned that fumble into a touchdown just six plays later, cutting a 24-point lead to just 10 in less than 10 minutes. Ball’s fumble is not the only reason why the Broncos lost last week. However, with the wear and tear adding up on Moreno, it’s critical that the rookie show the coaching staff, and Peyton Manning for that matter, that he can get the job done when his number is called. If Ball can’t be counted on in the regular season, what do you think will happen in the playoffs?

Kansas City Key Player: Alex Smith, QB
When surrendering 17 or fewer points, the Chiefs are 9-0 this season. This is a good thing, considering the Chiefs are scoring less than 25 points per game. Kansas City has put more than 28 on the scoreboard two times this season, with one of those being the 41-38 loss to San Diego last week. Contrast that to Denver, who has scored fewer than 28 points once, when the Broncos beat the Chiefs 27-17 two weeks ago. Smith is known for being more of a game manager than a risk-taker, but as the Chiefs have found out the past two weeks, there will be some games where the defense can’t be expected to do all of the heavy lifting. Kansas City’s offense is powered by running back Jamaal Charles, but Smith has to be able to hold his own when he’s going up against quarterbacks like Peyton Manning or Philip Rivers, especially come playoff time. In the last two games, both Kansas City losses, Smith threw for a combined total of 524 yards, five touchdowns and one interception. Manning and Rivers combined for 715 yards passing, four touchdowns and no picks. Kansas City out-rushed both Denver and San Diego, and yet still lost both games – by 10 points to the Broncos and three to the Chargers. The Chiefs’ defense was a big reason why they got out to a 9-0 start. It’s now Smith’s and the offense’s turn to lead the way.

Final Analysis

Having just played each other two weeks ago, Denver and Kansas City probably spent more time this week figuring out what went wrong last week than on game planning for each other. There’s no doubt both teams are still feeling the pain from last Sunday’s disappointing (to put it mildly) losses. A strong case could be made that the Broncos’ second-half collapse was more devastating than the Chiefs’ late defensive lapses against the Chargers, but one or the way other, each team must move on.

Denver won the first meeting two weeks ago behind the passing of Peyton Manning and a stellar performance from the offensive line and running backs in pass protection. Kansas City’s disruptive pass rush never laid a hand on Manning, which gave him more than enough time to find the open man down field. Pressuring the quarterback could play another big part in this afternoon’s game, as Denver’s All-Pro linebacker Von Miller has been a difference-maker since his return from suspension, while Kansas City’s productive pass rush won’t be at 100 percent with Justin Houston sidelined and Tamba Hail likely limited.

Last week’s loss to the Patriots was definitely a hard one for the Broncos to digest, but this is a veteran team that knows full well there’s still business to take care of. Meanwhile, I think the inexperienced Chiefs are still learning how to deal with adversity, and the offense hasn’t shown an ability to completely pick up the slack while the defense has struggled these past two weeks. In the end, the growing pains for the Chiefs continue, as the Broncos pull ahead in the AFC West and the race for home-field advantage in the playoffs.

Denver 30, Kansas City 20

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The Week 13 injury report is littered with the names of key running backs. Athlon Sports has the latest information on the ones you need to know about.

Darren Sproles, RB, New Orleans Saints at Seattle Seahawks (Mon.)
Sproles (ankle) was held out of last week’s game against Atlanta, which was played on a Thursday. The extra rest seemed to have paid off, as he was a full participant in practice this week and is considered Probable for the Monday night showdown with the Seahawks. Seattle’s defense is tough, especially at home, so this isn’t the best of matchups for Sproles. Still, with this versatility as a receiver and his obvious chemistry with Drew Brees, Sproles should be a fairly safe flex option.

Knowshon Moreno, RB, Denver Broncos at Kansas City Chiefs
Moreno left last week’s loss in New England on crutches after sustaining a bone bruise to his right ankle. He was limited in practice at the start of the week, but showed marked improvement by Friday’s session. Moreno is listed as Probable and expected to play in this key afternoon matchup with Kansas City. He is coming off of a monster game (224 yards rushing, TD) against the Patriots, so if you have Moreno you’re starting him. Don’t expect to see 37 carries this week again, however, as the Broncos will probably limit Moreno’s workload to make sure he’s as fresh as possible for the playoffs.

Zac Stacy, RB, St. Louis Rams at San Francisco 49ers
Stacy sustained a concussion last week against Chicago, but not before he rushed for 87 yards and a touchdown on just 12 carries. He practiced fully on Friday, has passed all the necessary tests and has been cleared to return. He is listed as Probable and expected to play this afternoon. The matchup with San Francisco is far from ideal, but Stacy has been too productive (410 yards rushing, 4 TDs in last four games) lately to really consider benching him. If anything, just view Stacy as a RB2 this week when setting your lineup.

Ryan Mathews, RB, San Diego Chargers vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Mathews is dealing with a hamstring issue, but he practiced fully on Friday and is listed as Probable. It’s been a curious season for Mathews, who has just four total touchdowns and three 100-yard rushing games. He’s scored a short touchdown in two of his past three outings and sandwiched those around 127 yards rushing against Miami. Danny Woodhead is very much a factor in the Chargers’ backfield, which probably caps Mathews’ potential as a RB2 this week.

Already Ruled Out

Brandon Jacobs, RB, New York Giants – Listed as Questionable entering last week’s game because of a knee injury, Jacobs rushed for 75 yards on nine carries in the loss to Dallas. Whether it happened during the game or sometime after, Jacobs apparently re-aggravated the knee injury, as he’s already been declared Out against Washington. Andre Brown figures to be quite busy against a Redskins defense that has given up 13 rushing touchdowns and the fifth-most fantasy points to running backs.

Daniel Thomas, RB, Miami Dolphins – Thomas is out for the rest of the season because of an ankle injury, which means (hopefully) that Lamar Miller finally gets his chance at being a lead back. Miller’s usage this season has been somewhat sporadic, as it appears that the coaching stuff is reluctant to rely on him. Miller’s had his flashes (105 yards rushing vs. Cincinnati in Week 9), but he’s totaled just 21 carries over his last three games. Even though Miller has a golden opportunity in front of him, he faces a tough matchup this week in the Jets, the NFL’s No. 1 rush defense. Owners should be excited about Miller’s potential moving forward, but need to temper that enthusiasm this week.

Teaser:
Week 13 Injury Updates: Darren Sproles, Knowshon Moreno, Zac Stacy, Ryan Mathews
Post date: Sunday, December 1, 2013 - 06:30
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, injury updates, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/week-13-injury-updates-brandon-marshall-michael-floyd-cecil-shorts-santonio-holmes
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Even with three games on Thanksgiving Day, there’s still a full slate of Week 13 action today. Here are some wide receiver injuries you need to know about before setting your starting lineup.

Brandon Marshall, WR, Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings
A quadriceps injury limited Marshall in practice, but he is listed as Probable for today’s game in Minnesota. Marshall hasn’t missed a beat with Josh McCown at quarterback in place of Jay Cutler. In McCown’s three starts, Marshall has averaged nearly 12 targets per game and has turned those into a total of 21 catches for 363 yards and four touchdowns. Regardless of who is under center for the Bears, Marshall is locked in as a WR1.

Michael Floyd, WR, Arizona Cardinals at Philadelphia Eagles
The shoulder is still enough of an issue to limit him in practice, but there’s been nothing wrong with Floyd come game day. He’s caught 13 passes for 297 yards and a touchdown in his last two outings. Sure, you would love to see more touchdowns, but as along as Floyd is getting the targets (18 in the last two games), he should probably be in your lineup, even with an injured shoulder. Floyd is Probable to play the Eagles and with a matchup like that you pretty much have to roll the dice and see what happens.

Cecil Shorts and Mike Brown, WRs, Jacksonville Jaguars at Cleveland Browns
Shorts’ groin issue continues to limit him in practice, but he is considered Probable to face the Browns. Last week Shorts saw 11 targets against Houston, so he should be plenty busy today, though he will be matched up with Cleveland’s shutdown cornerback Joe Haden. Brown missed last week’s game because of a shoulder injury and he’s looking like a game-time decision for this one. He is listed as Questionable, but unless you have no other options, there’s no reason to wait and see if Brown will play.

Santonio Holmes and Jeremy Kerley, WRs, New York Jets vs. Miami Dolphins
Holmes just can’t seem to stay healthy. After missing five games because of a hamstring injury, Holmes played in the past two contests. His production, however, was minimal (12 receptions, 83 yards combined), and it appears that his hamstring is an issue once again. Holmes was limited in practice on Wednesday and then missed the next two days. Rex Ryan has already voiced his concern regarding Holmes’ availability against Miami. Holmes is listed as Questionable, but his status won’t be known until game time. With the Jets’ issues on offense and at quarterback right now, I wouldn’t wait that long to make up your mind. Bench Holmes and save yourself the disappointment later. As far as Kerley goes, he also is expected to be a game-time decision, as he’s missed the last two games with a dislocated elbow. Again, there’s nothing to get excited about when it comes to the Jets’ passing game right now and Kerley’s potential return doesn’t change this.

Already Ruled Out

Aaron Dobson, WR, New England Patriots – Dobson played just two snaps in the second half last week against Denver and it appears that a foot injury is to blame. It’s an injury that kept the rookie out of practice this week and he’s already been ruled out for this afternoon’s game against Houston. Rob Gronkowski and Danny Amendola are the top two pass-catching threats for the Patriots, with Julian Edelman and Shane Vereen falling in behind somewhere. I wouldn’t expect too much from Kenbrell Thompkins this week, even with Dobson sidelined.

Teaser:
Week 13 Injury Updates: Brandon Marshall, Michael Floyd, Cecil Shorts, Santonio Holmes
Post date: Sunday, December 1, 2013 - 06:30
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, injury updates, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/injury-updates-week-13-michael-crabtree-hakeem-nicks-stevie-johnson-percy-harvin
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One NFC West team gets its top wide receiver back in Week 13 while another will most likely be without theirs. Elsewhere, Buffalo should have its top pass-catching duo for its game in Toronto while a Giant wideout appears ready to return after missing last week.

Michael Crabtree, WR, San Francisco 49ers vs. St. Louis Rams
Crabtree doesn’t even appear on the injury report this week, as he’s expected to make his season debut against the Rams. The 49ers’ leading receiver last season, Crabtree tore his Achilles tendon in late March and has been working hard to get back to the field. Even though he’s expected to play, his snaps will be limited so it’s hard to envision him making much of an impact fantasy-wise. If you have room, there’s nothing wrong with stashing Crabtree, just don’t be surprised if it takes a week or two for him to round into form.

Hakeem Nicks, WR, New York Giants at Washington
Despite proclaiming that he will “surely play,” Nicks ended up being a late scratch last week because of his abdominal strain. Whatever the reasoning behind the decision, the rest appears to have benefitted Nicks. He was able to practice in some capacity all week and is considered Probable for tonight’s matchup with Washington. Nicks’ struggles have been documented (42 rec., 0 TDs), but the Redskins are 27th in the NFL in passing defense and 31st in points allowed, so maybe this will be the game he finally breaks through.

Stevie Johnson and Robert Woods, WRs, Buffalo Bills vs. Atlanta Falcons (Toronto)
Johnson (groin) and Woods (ankle) both missed the Bills’ last game, but that came in Week 11 as they were on bye last week. The extra rest seemed to help both wideouts, as they are considered Probable for the Bills’ annual appearance in Toronto. Atlanta has struggled against the pass all season, so this appears to be a good matchup for Johnson and Woods. Johnson remains ahead of Woods in the pecking order and in terms of fantasy rankings, at least for now. For this week, I would put Johnson near the end of the WR2 options and Woods among the middle of the WR3 tier.

Eddie Royal, WR, San Diego Chargers vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Royal has been dealing with a toe injury for well over a month. While it’s impacted his practice time, it never cost him a game, despite always being listed as Questionable. Last week, Royal added a chest injury to his ailments and it looks like this one will cost him at least one game. Royal was downgraded from Questionable to Doubtful on Saturday, which is all you need to know. Keenan Allen and Vincent Brown figure to be Philip Rivers’ top two wideouts against Cincinnati with Seyi Ajirotutu and Lavelle Hawkins potentially seeing more playing time. Allen is the only Charger wide receiver you need to pay attention to.

Percy Harvin, WR, Seattle Seahawks vs. New Orleans Saints (Mon.)
Harvin made his season debut two weeks ago against Minnesota with the Seahawks on bye last week. Unfortunately, it appears that Harvin’s surgically repaired hip isn’t quite ready to handle the load of practicing and playing, as he is considered Doubtful to play on Monday night. Harvin is experiencing continuing soreness and the team is choosing to play it safe for the time being. Hopefully you weren’t counting on Harvin to be an impact performer this week anyways.

Teaser:
Injury Updates Week 13: Michael Crabtree, Hakeem Nicks, Stevie Johnson, Percy Harvin
Post date: Sunday, December 1, 2013 - 06:30
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, injury updates, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/week-13-injury-updates-antonio-gates-julius-thomas-rob-gronkowski-tony-gonzalez
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Quarterbacks appear to be healthy for the most part entering today’s Week 13 action. The same can’t be said as it relates to the tight end position, however.

Antonio Gates, TE, San Diego Chargers vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Gates missed some practice time with a hamstring injury, but he was a full go on Friday and is considered Probable for this afternoon’s home game. Gates has been a top-10 fantasy TE this season and even with the occasional explosive play by backup Ladarius Green, Gates remains one of Philip Rivers’ favorite targets. The Bengals have done pretty well against tight ends, but that’s no reason to shy away from Gates.

Julius Thomas, TE, Denver Broncos at Kansas City Chiefs
Thomas was held out of last week’s game because of a knee injury and he’s not back to 100 percent just yet. He was limited in practice all week, which is why he’s listed as Questionable. He was able to practice, in a limited fashion, all week so he appears to have a good chance of playing, as long as there are no setbacks. The Broncos-Chiefs game is in the afternoon (4:25 p.m. ET) and considering he didn’t play last week, a little more caution is probably warranted this time around with Thomas. As long as he’s not ruled out before kickoff, I think it’s safe to stick with Thomas, but I would have a Plan B (Jacob Tamme perhaps?) ready just in case.

Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England Patriots at Houston Texans
Gronkowski was listed as Probable last week, so it’s a little curious to see him Questionable for today’s game in Houston. However, this is the Patriots we are talking about, and there doesn’t seem to be any reason to be concerned. Roll with Gronk as you usually do, as he’s caught a touchdown pass in three straight games.

Tony Gonzalez, TE, Atlanta Falcons at Buffalo Bills (Toronto)
The future Hall of Famer has been limited in practice because of a toe injury, but he has yet to miss a game. Gonzalez is officially listed as Questionable but I don’t think he would make the long trip up north if he wasn’t intending to play. Even though Gonzalez has just four touchdown catches this season, he’s still solidly within the top 10 in fantasy scoring at his position. The numbers may not be as a big every week, but Gonzalez still carries TE1 potential and needs to be in your starting lineup.

Jordan Reed, TE, Washington Redskins vs. New York Giants
Reed missed last week’s game because of a concussion and it appears he’s not quite out of the woods yet. He’s listed as Questionable on the injury report, but the team seems optimistic about his chances of playing. With some uncertainty regarding his status, as well as the late (8:30 p.m. ET) game slot, it would probably be wise to keep Reed on your bench for at least another week and go with another tight end.

Not Playing Today

Jason Campbell, QB, Cleveland Browns – Campbell sustained a concussion last week against Pittsburgh and has already been ruled out. Brandon Weeden will start against Jacksonville in Campbell’s place and even with a matchup against the Jaguars; it is hard for me to endorse Weeden, even for 2-QB leagues.

Jay Cutler, QB, Chicago Bears – Cutler will miss a third straight game because of an ankle injury, giving Josh McCown another start. Cutler does hope to return for the Week 14 Monday night game against Dallas, but a lot could happen between now and then. For today, McCown will get his shot at a Minnesota defense that is giving up the second-most fantasy points to quarterbacks. Last week, McCown threw for 352 yards, two touchdowns and an interception (first of the season) in the loss to St. Louis. The bye weeks are over, but I have no problem if you want to give McCown another shot, especially in 2-QB leagues.

Kyle Rudolph, TE, Minnesota Vikings – Rudolph remains sidelined with a fractured foot, which leaves John Carlson as the starter. Carlson has been productive to some degree during Rudolph’s absence and has an appealing matchup this week in Chicago. The Bears are allowing the seventh-most fantasy points to tight ends, so Carlson looks pretty good as TE2 option.

Teaser:
Week 13 Injury Updates: Antonio Gates, Julius Thomas, Rob Gronkowski, Tony Gonzalez
Post date: Sunday, December 1, 2013 - 06:30
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, injury updates, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/injury-updates-week-13-matt-forte-adrian-peterson-deangelo-williams-ben-tate
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Will injuries to Matt Forté or Adrian Peterson keep either from their head-to-head matchup today? Those aren’t the only running back injuries Athlon Sports is keeping an eye on in Week 13.

Matt Forté, RB, Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings
Forté left last week’s game with a hyperextended knee, but he was able to return and finish things. The knee doesn’t really appear to be an issue, as he’s listed as Probable for today’s game with Minnesota. Forté is the No. 2 scoring running back in all of fantasy, so he needs to be in your lineup. Especially against a Vikings defense that is surrendering the third-most fantasy points to RBs.

Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings vs. Chicago Bears
Peterson’s groin is still sore, but he got in a full practice session on Friday and appears ready to go. He is listed as Probable and there’s no probably to it – he has to be in your lineup. Chicago’s run defense is a mess right now, as the Bears have given up an average of 194 yards rushing per game over their last four contests. Peterson had 146 on the ground last week against Green Bay, so the fact that he’s not 100 percent shouldn’t even enter into your thought process.

Jonathan Stewart, Mike Tolbert and DeAngelo Williams, RBs, Carolina Panthers vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Carolina’s trio of running backs all are listed as Questionable on this week’s injury report. Of the three, Williams appears to be the most uncertain because of a quad contusion that has held him out of practice all week. Stewart (ankle) and Tolbert (knee) are also nursing injuries, but they were able to practice to some degree. If Williams can’t go, Stewart would get the start with Tolbert getting his usual work in short-yardage and goal-line situations. Although Williams’ absence would mean one less mouth to feed, it’s still a crowded backfield, especially when you take into consideration Cam Newton’s ability to run the ball. As far as this week goes, I would stay away from Williams and rank Stewart slightly better than Tolbert. If he gets the start, Stewart looks to be a pretty solid flex play with the potential to provide RB2 production. At best, Tolbert is a flex option.

Ben Tate, RB, Houston Texans vs. New England Patriots
Tate has been playing with broken ribs for several weeks now and has yet to miss a game. He’s Probable for this afternoon’s visit from New England, and the only real concern with Tate is that he had just one yard on seven carries last week against Jacksonville. All Tate owners can hope is that last week was the exception and not the rule. As long as he gets his typical workload, Tate should provide RB2 production.

Chris Ivory, RB, New York Jets vs. Miami Dolphins
Ivory injured his ankle on his first carry last week, which impacted his effectiveness against Baltimore. He finished with nine carries for 35 yards rushing, although he did have a long of 17 yards. He was limited earlier in the week, but practiced fully on Friday and is listed as Probable. He should play against the Dolphins, but if he is limited or suffers any sort of setback, Ivory figures to lose carries to Bilal Powell. Ivory is still the Jet running back to own/start, but just be sure you understand the situation before plugging him in your lineup.

Andre Ellington, RB, Arizona Cardinals at Philadelphia Eagles
Ellington injured his knee during Thursday’s practice and wasn’t able to participate at all on Friday because of it. He is considered Questionable and will be a game-time decision to face the Eagles. Ellington certainly carries a lot of appeal, as he possesses big-play ability because of his speed, but his value has been limited because of the presence of veteran Rashard Mendenhall in the Cardinals’ backfield. Because of his uncertainty for today’s game, it’s probably safest to steer clear of Ellington all together. Mendenhall could see a bump in his production with Ellington out, but even against the Eagles, I don’t see Mendenhall being any more than a possible RB2 option.

Teaser:
Post date: Sunday, December 1, 2013 - 06:30
Path: /college-football/three-things-we-learned-auburn-34-alabama-28
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Nick Marshall’s deflected touchdown pass to Ricardo Louis to beat Georgia stood as perhaps the best play in Auburn history. One of the biggest plays in SEC lore.

Not anymore.

When fans tell the story of the 2013 Auburn season, Marshall to Louis (via the hands of a Georgia player) will be No. 2.

Chris Davis set off mayhem at Jordan-Hare Stadium by returning Alabama’s failed last-second 57-yard field goal attempt from the back of Auburn end zone to Alabama’s end zone for a 34-28 win to topple the No. 1 Crimson Tide.

Auburn clinches a spot in the SEC Championship Game, but that’s secondary. Auburn has clinched a spot among one of the most miraculous teams in college football history.

Between Marshall’s miracle pass to beat Georgia and Davis’ runback to beat Alabama, Auburn has produced the equivalent of Doug Flutie’s Hail Mary and the Bluegrass Miracle in a span of three weeks.

The win may cost Alabama a bid at a third consecutive national championship while giving Auburn an outside shot at claiming its own bid to extend the SEC title streak to eight.

But all of that is conjecture at this point. Auburn’s 2013 season place as the most charmed years in college football history isn’t in doubt.



Three Things We Learned From Auburn 34, Alabama 28

Auburn will make a compelling case for the BCS Championship Game. Ohio State and Florida State remain undefeated, but look for the conversation to begin about Auburn leap-frogging one of them in the event of an SEC championship (Auburn AD Jay Jacobs is already lobbying). Precedent says that talk is hokum. No one-loss team has ever jumped an undefeated major conference team for a title spot in BCS history. Then again, two teams from the same conference facing each other in a rematch for the title would have been ludicrious before 2011. Auburn has the lone loss of the three teams (35-21 at LSU). But Auburn also entered the week with the toughest schedule of any of those three teams. The Tigers began the week with the 38th-ranked schedule and a 4-1 record against the top 30, according to the Sagarin ratings. Ohio State’s schedule was ranked 67th; Florida State’s was ranked 76th. The rankings following Auburn's win over No. 1 Alabama combined with Florida State's and Ohio State's best wins (Wisconsin and Clemson) slipping in stature will be worth watching. But Auburn still trailed the top three in the BCS by nearly a tenth of a point, a significant amount with two weeks left in the season.

 AuburnFlorida StateOhio State
Wins over teams with winning recordsAlabama, Arkansas State, Georgia, Ole Miss, Texas A&MBoston College, Clemson, Maryland, MiamiBuffalo, Iowa, Michigan, Penn State, San Diego State, Wisconsin
Wins over current BCS top 25Alabama, Texas A&MClemsonWisconsin
Final gameMissouriDukeMichigan State

Alabama, for the first time in a long time, was mistake-prone. From beginning to end, special teams were an issue for the Crimson Tide, down to the game-winning runback. Alabama punter Cody Mandell dropped a punt in the first quarter, and Cade Foster stutter-stepped on his first of three missed field goals. Nick Saban’s lack of confidence in special teams spilled into the fourth quarter when he elected to run his offense on fourth-and-1 from the Auburn 13 (T.J. Yeldon was stuffed for no gain). Alabama forced a three and out and got the ball at the Auburn 27 but again came up short when Foster’s field goal was blocked. On the final play of the game, rather than taking a for overtime, Alabama sent out a freshman kicker with one career kick for a 57-yard attempt.

Auburn is a miracle team. Auburn isn’t in the SEC Championship Game simply because it’s lucky. The Tigers are a definite top five or better team, but they’ve had their good fortune beyond the miracle plays to beat Georgia and Alabama. Auburn has taken advantage of just about every play on the razor’s edge in the final month of the season. Against Alabama, Nick Marshall completed his final touchdown pass just a toe short of the line of scrimmage. Marshall ran to his left on an option play, switched the football from one hand to another and was just short of the line when he found Sammy Coates open for the game-tying 39-yard touchdown. And on the final drive, officials put one second back on the clock when T.J. Yeldon ran out of bounds. Of course, Auburn fans would be cursing officials if Adam Griffith converts the 57-yard field goal, but the endgame was Davis’ miracle touchdown.

Teaser:
Three Things We Learned from Auburn 34, Alabama 28
Post date: Saturday, November 30, 2013 - 21:00

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