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The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party could be the final hope for Georgia and Florida’s SEC East title hopes.

South Carolina’s win over Missouri last Saturday changed the outlook of the East Division title picture. The Tigers were on the verge of taking a commanding lead in the East Division, and with a game against Kentucky remaining, the race to win the SEC East was essentially over.

The Gamecocks' victory opened the door for Georgia and Florida, but the loser of Saturday’s game in Jacksonville is likely out of the mix for the East Division title.

Florida and Georgia were considered two of the top-15 teams in the nation this preseason, but both teams have been hit hard by injuries. The Bulldogs lost running back Keith Marshall and receivers Malcolm Mitchell and Justin Scott-Wesley for the season due to injuries, leaving the offense shorthanded with proven playmakers. The Gators lost quarterback Jeff Driskel with a leg injury against Tennessee, forcing unproven backup Tyler Murphy into the starting role. Defensive tackle (and likely All-American) Dominique Easley is also done for the year, while running back Matt Jones suffered a season-ending knee injury against LSU.

Florida owns a 48-40-2 series edge against Georgia. The Gators have won five out of the last eight meetings against the Bulldogs, but coach Mark Richt’s team has claimed the last two games in this series.

Florida vs. Georgia

Kickoff: 3:30 ET
TV Channel: CBS
Spread: Georgia – 3

Three Things to Watch

Georgia’s Wide Receivers vs. Florida’s Secondary
The Gators have been the toughest team in the SEC against the pass. Opponents are averaging just 178 yards per game in SEC play, and Florida has allowed just two touchdown passes. With a depleted receiving corps, can Georgia move the ball through the air? Quarterback Aaron Murray has completed 45 of 95 passes for 632 yards, six touchdowns and seven interceptions in his career against Florida. But Murray is facing perhaps his biggest task against the Gators, as the Bulldogs are thin on proven bodies at receiver. Junior Michael Bennett is slated to return after missing two games due to a knee injury. However, Chris Conley is likely out, which leaves Rhett McGowan and Rantavious Wooten (combined 75 career catches) as the top options. Is Bennett ready to handle a full snap count this week? Considering the options at receiver, Georgia would be wise to get tight ends Arthur Lynch and Jay Rome more involved in the offense. With a secondary featuring three standout cornerbacks in Loucheiz Purifoy, Marcus Roberson and freshman standout Vernon Hargreaves III, Murray has to be precise with his passes, especially with an opportunistic defensive backfield ready to pounce.

Florida QB Tyler Murphy and RB Kelvin Taylor
Florida’s offense has struggled mightily this season. The Gators rank 13th in SEC-only games in total offense and yards per play, averaging just 306 yards per game and 4.6 yards per touch. This unit has not scored more than 17 points in its last two games and its 31 points scored against Tennessee was the high mark of 2013. Much like Georgia, injuries hindered the development of the offense for the Gators, but the offensive line remains a huge concern. Florida has allowed 13 sacks in SEC play and averages just 3.5 yards per rush. Quarterback Tyler Murphy has not passed for a touchdown in the Gators’ last two games, but the junior will have an opportunity to make plays against a Georgia secondary that is allowing opponents to complete 62.3 percent of its throws. Murphy has to play better, but he also needs more help from the supporting cast. Freshman running back Kelvin Taylor has provided a spark for the ground attack in the last two weeks, rushing for 126 yards and one touchdown on 22 attempts. After playing well in limited action, expect Taylor to see more opportunities on Saturday. For Florida to beat Georgia, Murphy and Taylor need to have one of their best games of the season.

The offensive lines
This position doesn’t have the glamour of the quarterback or skill position concerns in this game, but both Florida and Georgia’s offensive lines will be under fire on Saturday afternoon. As mentioned above, the Gators have experienced plenty of issues from their offensive line this season, but the Bulldogs front seven is a work in progress. With only three returning starters, Georgia ranks ninth in the SEC in total defense and if you include non-conference games from 2013 in the stat sheet, the Bulldogs rank last in the SEC in points allowed. While the overall production hasn’t been particularly impressive, Georgia has recorded 16 sacks in five SEC games. With the troubles of Florida’s offensive line, Bulldogs’ linebackers Leonard Floyd and Jordan Jenkins (eight sacks, 28 quarterback hurries) could have a huge game. The Gators’ defensive line isn’t quite as intimidating without tackle Dominique Easley, but ends Jonathan Bullard and Dante Fowler are active off the edge.

Key Player: Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia

Gurley has missed Georgia’s last three games with an ankle injury suffered against LSU. When healthy, the sophomore is arguably the top running back in the nation. Gurley has 450 yards and 71 carries this season, averaging 6.3 yards per rush. Florida leads the SEC against the run, holding opponents to just 100.7 yards per game on the ground. With Gurley back in the lineup, he should give the Bulldogs much-needed balance and will help to take some of the pressure off of quarterback Aaron Murray.

Final Analysis

Considering all of the injuries accumulated by both teams, a close, low-scoring game should be expected. Florida has the better defense, and the bye week should help quarterback Tyler Murphy get closer to full strength after a shoulder injury suffered against LSU. However, even with the Gators’ edge on defense, Georgia will find a way to win this game on the strength of senior quarterback Aaron Murray.

Prediction: Georgia 24, Florida 20

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Post date: Friday, November 1, 2013 - 07:15
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Like it or not, Las Vegas rarely gets it wrong, so tracking betting lines should always be a big part of each football weekend — even if there are no bets on the line. If you follow me on Twitter (of course you do), you'll know that I added Notre Dame to my locks last week early on Saturday morning. That saved my day and I broke even for the third straight week. Not winning is getting old, but not losing is always fun. Let's try to get back into the black this weekend.

2013 Record Against the Spread: 28-22-1 (3-3 last week)

Week 10 Picks of the Week:

Minnesota (+10) at Indiana
This is one of the odder lines of the weekend, so there must be something that Vegas knows that we don’t. Behind a power rushing attack, Minnesota is surging after back-to-back upsets over Nebraska and Northwestern. As a double-digit underdog in both cases. Look for the power running game to play another huge factor against a team like Indiana that struggles to stop the run. Prediction: Minnesota +10

Auburn (-8) at Arkansas

The Tigers are 6-2 against the spread this season and the Razorbacks are 2-6 against the number. The Hogs have been downright atrocious throughout their current five-game losing streak. Arkansas has scored 17 total points in the last three games combined and have been under 300 yards of offense in four of the last five. Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall is a game-time decision and should he play, the Tigers will cover easily. Prediction: Auburn -8

Georgia (-2.5) at Florida
Running back Todd Gurley returns to the field, giving quarterback Aaron Murray a complementary piece for the first time in weeks. And the once-dominant Florida run defense has completely fallen apart after Dominique Easley tore his ACL. The Gators have allowed 163.7 yards rushing per game and 4.7 yards per carry since they lost their star defensive tackle. Both teams still have an outside chance to win the SEC East and both are coming off a bye week, so expect a good game. Prediction: Georgia -2.5

USC (+3.5) at Oregon State
The Trojans don’t have a permanent head coach and are under 50 scholarship players for the third straight week. Oregon State is at home and should be angry after the poor offensive showing against Stanford last weekend. The Beavers have consistently been a thorn in the Trojans' side, winning three straight at in Corvallis and four of the last five. Those wins include victories over powerhouse USC teams in 2000, ‘06, ’08 and ’10. Prediction: Oregon State -3.5 

Week 10 Previews and Predictions: ACC | Big 12 Big Ten Pac-12 SEC

Top 25 Picks Against the Spread:

Note: games with FCS opponents won't be included each week

Top 25 GamesMitch LightBraden GallSteven LassanDavid Fox
No. 7 Miami (+21.5) at No. 3 Florida St
No. 8 Ohio St (-31.5) at Purdue
No. 8 Clemson (-16.5) at Virginia
Tennessee (+10.5) at No. 9 Missouri
No. 11 Auburn (-8) at Arkansas
UTEP (+45.5) at No. 12 Texas A&M
Miss. St (+12) at No. 14 South Carolina
No. 18 Okla. St (+2.5) at No. 15 Texas Tech
Nevada (+20.5) at No. 16 Fresno St
No. 17 N. Illinois (-23.5) at UMass
Colorado (+27) at No. 20 UCLA
No. 21 Michigan (+5.5) at No. 22 Michigan St
No. 24 Wisconsin (-9.5) at Iowa
Navy (+16.5) at No. 25 Notre Dame
Last Week:9-1010-99-106-13
Year-To-Date:73-74-371-76-368-79-374-73-3

 

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Post date: Friday, November 1, 2013 - 07:15
All taxonomy terms: ACC, Syracuse Orange, College Basketball, News
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This preview and more on Syracuse and the ACC are available in the Athlon Sports 2013-14 College Basketball Preseason Annual. The magazine is available online or on newsstands everywhere.

No. 9 Syracuse Facts & Figures
Last season: 30-10 (11-7 Big East)
Postseason: NCAA Final Four
Coach: Jim Boeheim (920-314 at Syracuse)
ACC projection: Second
Postseason projection: NCAA Sweet 16
The Syracuse Orange are coming off a most unlikely trip to the Final Four. It’s still difficult to believe that a team that lost four of its last five regular-season games, including a 61–39 embarrassment at Georgetown in the  finale, somehow found itself playing in the Georgia Dome in Atlanta a month later.

But Syracuse did just that. First, the Orange advanced to the Big East Tournament championship game, a run that included an overtime revenge-flavored win over Georgetown. Then Syracuse made it to the Final Four for the fifth time in school history.

Now, Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim faces a new challenge as he enters his 38th season at the helm at alma mater. Syracuse, a charter member of the Big East Conference, joins the ACC this season.

“It’s a tough league, but we were in a tough league before,’’ Boeheim says. “It’s doesn’t get any tougher, but it’ll be different.’’

Frontcourt

To get right to the point, Syracuse will have one of the best frontcourts in the entire country. While the losses of Carter-Williams, Triche and Southerland are significant, Syracuse fans exhaled a sigh of relief last June when C.J. Fair announced that he would return for his senior season. Fair, a versatile 6-8 forward, led the Orange in both scoring and rebounding last season. He also made 46.9 percent of his 3-point attempts. He will be a candidate for All-America honors and the ACC’s Player of the Year award.

At the other forward spot, expect sophomore Jerami Grant to enjoy a breakout season. Grant, another in Syracuse’s line of long, lean and athletic forwards, averaged just 3.9 points as a freshman. But when offered more playing time due to injuries plus James Southerland’s midseason suspension, Grant responded. In eight games between Jan. 12 and Feb. 13, Grant averaged 8.6 points and 5.4 rebounds.

In the middle, Boeheim has the pleasure and the challenge of sorting through three solid centers. Rakeem Christmas, a 6-9 junior, started all 40 games last season, but Baye Moussa Keita at times was the more reliable player, especially on defense. Meanwhile, Dajuan Coleman was always considered the best offensive player of the three centers, though he struggled as a freshman. Coleman missed several games after mid-season knee surgery and saw only sparse playing time after his return.

Freshmen Tyler Roberson and B.J. Johnson will most likely serve as backups at the forward spots, while fellow first-year player Chinonso Obokoh is a probable redshirt candidate due to the log-jam at center.

2013-14 Conference Previews
ACC | American | Big 12 | Big East
Big Ten | Mountain West | Pac-12 | SEC


Backcourt

Syracuse must totally rebuild its backcourt. Michael Carter-Williams entered the NBA Draft after a sterling sophomore season. He went from being the fourth guard in a three-guard rotation as a freshman to one of the top point guards in the country. But Syracuse also lost Brandon Triche, who started every game of his four-year Syracuse career and was a part of more wins than any player in SU history.

Boeheim will turn to freshman Tyler Ennis to be his starting point guard. Ennis, a native of Ontario, Canada, led St. Benedict’s (N.J.) Prep to the championship game in the National High School Invitational last April. He was the leading scorer at the FIBA Under-19 World Championships in July. Ennis’ backup could be another freshman in Ron Patterson, a former Indiana commit who spent last year at prep school.

There will be a battle between sophomores Michael Gbinije and Trevor Cooney to see who starts at the 2-guard spot. Gbinije sat out last year after transferring from Duke. Cooney endured a rough freshman year, making just 26.7 percent of his 3-point shots.  

Newcomers

Freshman point guard Tyler Ennis and Duke transfer Michael Gbinije could form the Orange’s starting backcourt. Tyler Roberson and B.J. Johnson figure prominently in back-up roles at the forward spots. Ron Patterson, a natural off-guard, might see time as the back-up to Ennis at the point. Chinonso Obokoh, a 6-10 center, enters a crowded position and could redshirt.

Final Analysis
Factoid: 4. Jim Boeheim has taken Syracuse to the Final Four in four consecutive decades, reaching the NCAA’s final weekend in 1987, 1996, 2003 and last season. Only three other coaches can match that feat — Mike Krzyzewski, Dean Smith and Rick Pitino.


Syracuse’s move from the Big East to the ACC doesn’t figure to alter the Orange’s winning ways. Boeheim remains in charge. The forwards are still long and athletic. The guards are big and tall. The zone remains the defense of choice.

Fair is a top-notch talent who gives Syracuse leadership and reliable scoring. The three-player combination at center provides Boeheim will plenty of choices. Grant could be the next big thing. And the early returns on Ennis and Gbinije sound promising. If Boeheim finds answers in the backcourt, the Orange will challenge for the ACC crown in their first year in the league.
 

2013-14 Preseason Top 25
9. Syracuse
10. North Carolina
11. Ohio State
12. Michigan

13. Marquette
14. New Mexico
15. Notre Dame
16. Creighton
17. Tennessee
18. VCU
19. UNLV
20. Memphis
21. Connecticut
22. Wisconsin
23. UCLA
24. Baylor
25. Wichita State

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This preview and more on Michigan and the Big Ten are available in the Athlon Sports 2013-14 College Basketball Preseason Annual. The magazine is available online or on newsstands everywhere.

No. 12 Michigan Facts & Figures
Last season: 31-8 (12-6 Big Ten)
Postseason: NCAA runner-up
Coach: John Beilein (122-85 at Michigan)
Big Ten projection: Third
Postseason projection: NCAA Sweet 16
John Beilein sat in the front row of the Barclays Center in late June with a smile on his face. About to begin his seventh season at Michigan, Beilein watched as the two best players he’s ever coached had their names called during the first round of the 2013 NBA Draft.

But now, for Beilein, life without superstar point guard Trey Burke and veteran sharpshooter Tim Hardaway Jr. officially begins. And one season after taking the Wolverines to the national title game for the first time since 1993, the expectations have now been raised.

“That’s part of the business you have to go through right now,” says Beilein. “If you don’t recruit good enough players (you won’t win). If you recruit really good players, they could go pro and you’re back to where you started.”

Michigan lost its two best players to the NBA, but it didn’t lose everything. Expected first-round picks Mitch McGary and Glenn Robinson III shocked many by announcing they’d be back for a sophomore season.

Frontcourt

At 6-10, 255-pounds, McGary was expected to be the Wolverines’ best big man prospect since Chris Webber. And though it took him about five months to figure everything out, he lived up to that billing during a wild NCAA Tournament run that turned him into a legit star. The Indiana native averaged 14.3 points and 10.7 rebounds in the Wolverines’ six NCAA games, highlighted by his 25-point, 14-rebound effort against Kansas.

McGary will anchor Michigan’s front line this season, and he’ll likely do so at multiple positions. Beilein wants McGary to play both power forward and center, and wants to continue expanding his game — as a shooter, as a transition player and a finisher.

Who plays next to him, though, remains a mystery.

If Michigan opts to go big, something Beilein rarely does, McGary will be joined up front by either senior Jordan Morgan or junior Jon Horford — two role players who should see extended time either way next season. Morgan averaged a solid 4.3 rebounds in only 15.9 minutes as a junior.

If the Wolverines go small, Robinson (6-6, 220) will be back at the stretch-4 position, giving Michigan incredible versatility. Robinson has stated he’d like to spend more time at his natural position, small forward, and Beilein says the smooth wing will likely play with the ball in his hands more often this season.

“I don’t know how close I was to leaving, I always wanted to come back here and stay,” Robinson says. “I’m going to have a chance to come in and hopefully be a leader for this team.”

2013-14 Conference Previews
ACC | American | Big 12 | Big East
Big Ten | Mountain West | Pac-12 | SEC


Backcourt

Burke and Hardaway are gone, but Michigan’s cupboard isn’t bare.

Incoming freshman point guard Derrick Walton was the Gatorade Player of the Year in Michigan as a high school senior, and 5-star shooting guard Zak Irvin was Indiana’s Mr. Basketball.

Walton will be joined at the point by tournament sensation Spike Albrecht, but even both players combined will have a tough time replicating what Burke was able to bring to the table.

Walton has been committed to the program since 2011, and he watched Burke’s entire development from afar.

“The coaches always told me to watch Trey, watch the point guard position, because that’s where I’d be playing,” he says. “He said it was a point guard’s dream. He’s right. They let you play. They let you create. But it’s important for me to be my own person, I can’t be somebody else.”

At shooting guard, Michigan has a logjam. Sophomore Nik Stauskas, who shot 44.0 percent from 3-point range, will likely slide down and spend more time at the 2, while improving sophomore Caris LeVert will also compete for minutes.

Newcomers

Michigan’s highly touted class is highlighted by 5-star shooting guard Zak Irvin, who claimed Indiana’s Mr. Basketball last season. The club’s most important newcomer is 4-star point guard Derrick Walton, who is looking to fill Trey Burke’s shoes as the team’s floor leader alongside Spike Albrecht. Power forward Mark Donnal, a 4-star big man with an outside touch, rounds out the class.

Final Analysis
Factoid: 23. Guard Spike Albrecht scored a total of 23 points in Michigan’s two Final Four games. He scored a total of 22 during the 18-game Big Ten season.


Michigan has plenty of work to do without Burke running the show. However, the Wolverines avoided the doomsday scenario when both Robinson and McGary opted to return.

Beilein, who has established himself as one of the elite coaches in the game, has enough talent on his roster to remain in the top tier in the rugged Big Ten. By the time March rolls around, don’t be surprised if Michigan has emerged as a favorite to reach the Final Four for the second straight season.

2013-14 Preseason Top 25
9. Syracuse
10. North Carolina
11. Ohio State
12. Michigan

13. Marquette
14. New Mexico
15. Notre Dame
16. Creighton
17. Tennessee
18. VCU
19. UNLV
20. Memphis
21. Connecticut
22. Wisconsin
23. UCLA
24. Baylor
25. Wichita State

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The Heisman is but one award, and one award isn’t enough to contain the best of college football.

While we love prognosticating who will win college football’s most coveted individual trophy, we also love the glut of postseason awards that go to each position, each with a nod to the game’s history from Davey O’Brien and Doak Walker to Bronko Nagurski and Jim Thorpe to Ray Guy and Lou Groza.



Everyone tracks the progress in the Heisman race, but Athlon Sports will try to keep an eye on who will take home college football’s positional awards.



Here’s our look at the “other” trophies through the ninth week of the season.


Davey O’Brien (Top quarterback)
Our leader: Oregon’s Marcus Mariota

Mariota completed all 10 of his pass attempts in the second half as Oregon pulled away from UCLA last week. Mariota has 20 touchdown passes without an interception. No quarterback since at least 2007 has finished a season with 20 touchdowns and fewer than three picks.
Others: Oregon State’s Sean Mannion, Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel, Baylor’s Bryce Petty

Doak Walker (Top running back)

Our leader: Arizona’s Ka’Deem Carey
Carey is quietly carrying Arizona’s offense single-handedly, leading the nation with 153.3 rushing yards per game. With four touchdowns against Colorado, Carey has 10 scores in six games.
Others: Western Kentucky’s Antonio Andrews, Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon, Washington’s Bishop Sankey, Baylor’s Lache Seastrunk

Biletnikoff (Top wide receiver)

Our leader: Texas A&M’s Mike Evans
Oregon State’s Brandon Cooks still leads every receiving category, but Evans is second with 1,101 yards and 11 touchdowns ... on 37 fewer receptions. Evans also averages 22.9 yards per catch, most for any receiver with more than 40 catches.
Others: Oregon State’s Brandin Cooks, Baylor’s Antwan Goodley, Vanderbilt’s Jordan Matthews, Baylor’s Tevin Reese, Colorado’s Paul Richardson, Penn State’s Allen Robinson

Mackey (Top tight end)

Our leader: Texas Tech’s Jace Amaro

Amaro had a fumble against Oklahoma, but he remains the nation’s most productive tight end. He has caught at least eight passes in seven consecutive games and at least 119 in the last three.
Others: North Carolina’s Eric Ebron

Outland (Top interior lineman)

Our leader: Baylor’s Cyril Richardson
Given stiff competition at quarterback, running back and receiver, Richardson may be Baylor’s best best for an individual award on the Baylor offense despite the prolific numbers.
Others: Oregon’s Hroniss Grasu, Oklahoma’s Gabe Ikard, Alabama’s Cyrus Kouandjio, Georgia Tech’s Shaq Mason, Texas A&M’s Jake Matthews, Stanford’s David Yankey

Nagurski/Bednarik (Defensive player of the year)

Our leader: Stanford’s Trent Murphy

Anthony Barr and Michael Sam are coming off losses, and Kyle Van Noy had two tackles against Boise State. In that case, it’s a good time to take a look at Murphy. The Stanford linebacker has anchored the defense with 10 tackles for a loss in the last four games, including dominant defensive performances against UCLA and Oregon State.
Others: UCLA’s Anthony Barr, Clemson’s Vic Beasley, Missouri’s Michael Sam, Ohio State’s Ryan Shazier, Stanford’s Shayne Skov

Lombardi Award (Top lineman or linebacker)

Our leader: Murphy

Others: UCLA’s Anthony Barr, Clemson’s Vic Beasley, Michigan State’s Shilique Calhoun, Pittsburgh’s Aaron Donald, Missouri’s Michael Sam, Ohio State’s Ryan Shazier, BYU’s Kyle Van Noy


Butkus (Top linebacker)

Our leader: Murphy
Others: UCLA’s Anthony Barr, Wisconsin’s Chris Borland, Ohio State’s Ryan Shazier, Stanford’s Shayne Skov, BYU’s Kyle Van Noy


Thorpe (Top defensive back)

Our leader: Florida State’s Lamarcus Joyner

Joyner is one of the nation’s most versatile DBs, recording an interception, three forced fumbles and four tackles for a loss this season. He’ll have a chance to shine again this week against Miami.
Others: Michigan State’s Darqueze Dennard, Oregon’s Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Oklahoma State’s Justin Gilbert, Virginia Tech’s Kendall Fuller, Virginia Tech’s Kyle Fuller, TCU’s Jason Verrett



Lou Groza (Top kicker)

Our leader: Oklahoma’s Michael Hunnicutt
The Sooners’ kicker has made 12 of his last 13 field goals and 16 of 18 for the season.
Others: Texas Tech’s Ryan Bustin, Maryland’s Brad Craddock, Arizona State’s Zane Gonzalez



Ray Guy (Top punter)

Our leader: Miami (Ohio)’s Zac Murphy
Murphy leads the nation at 48.1 yards per kick on 6.8 punts per game.

Others: Ole Miss’ Tyler Campbell, Tennessee’s Michael Palardy, Iowa State's Kirby Van Der Kamp



Freshman of the year

Our leader: Florida State’s Jameis Winston

Winston is leading a national championship contending team while making a case for the Heisman. Winston continued FSU’s hot starts by completing his 11 of 14 passes for 228 yards with three touchdowns against NC State ... in the first quarter.
Others: Arkansas’s Alex Collins, Virginia Tech’s Kendall Fuller, Penn State’s Christian Hackenberg, Florida’s Vernon Hargreaves III

Coach of the year
Our leader: Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher

Florida State has been dominant whether its facing NC State, Maryland or Clemson. The Seminoles are poised to have their best season since the Bobby Bowden glory years.

Others: Baylor’s Art Briles, Miami’s Al Golden, Tulane’s Curtis Johnson, Texas Tech’s Kliff Kingsbury, Houston’s Tony Levine, Auburn’s Gus Malzahn, Missouri’s Gary Pinkel



Broyles Award (Top assistant)

Our leader: Michigan State’s Pat Narduzzi
The Spartans are allowing 54.9 rushing yards per game. No other team is allowing fewer than 80 yards on the ground per game. Michigan State also leads the nation with 215.5 yards allowed per game, nearly 30 fewer than the next best team.
Others: Baylor’s Phil Bennett, LSU’s Cam Cameron, Florida State’s Jeremy Pruitt, Texas’ Greg Robinson, Alabama’s Kirby Smart
 

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This preview and more on North Carolina and the ACC are available in the Athlon Sports 2013-14 College Basketball Preseason Annual. The magazine is available online or on newsstands everywhere.

No. 10 North Carolina Facts & Figures
Last season: 25-11 (12-6 ACC)
Postseason: NCAA Elite Eight
Coach: Roy Williams (282-79 at North Carolina)
ACC projection: Third
Postseason projection: NCAA Sweet 16
Roy Williams warned North Carolina fans that they shouldn’t get used to the small lineups that sparked UNC’s surge in the second half of last season. He wasn’t kidding.

The Tar Heels enter 2013-14 with plenty of size up front and paper-thin depth on the perimeter as they try to get back to the Final Four for the first time since 2009. As emphasis on dribble penetration, floor spacing, and 3-point shooting increases nationwide, UNC could be the rare team whose success will depend upon post play.

The Tar Heels have six players who stand 6-8 or taller, and each one has played significant minutes in the past or figures to be in the rotation this season. The backcourt is a different story. With sharpshooter P.J. Hairston (team-high 14.6 points per game last season) suspended during the summer, UNC could begin the season with only two true wings.

The unbalanced personnel figures to create a style of play much different from the one the Tar Heels used a year ago, when they attempted more 3-pointers than any other UNC team under Williams.

Frontcourt

UNC has plenty of big men who could start at schools all over the country. Forward James Michael McAdoo, whose size and athleticism have earned him NBA buzz since high school, is the most accomplished of the group. After a lackluster sophomore season in which he shot just 44.5 percent from the floor, McAdoo increased his offseason work in an effort to improve his free throw shooting (57.8 percent) and overall offensive efficiency.

Also in the mix at forward are Brice Johnson, who showed a knack for scoring as a freshman, and hustle-minded Jackson Simmons. Freshman Isaiah Hicks figures to push for playing time because of his athleticism and ability to run the floor.

UNC has plenty of bulk at center in sophomore Joel James and highly skilled freshman Kennedy Meeks, who is working to improve his conditioning. James never got going as a freshman, but he has the potential to be a major contributor on both ends of the floor. Desmond Hubert, who started 18 games a year ago, will resume his limited role as a defensive specialist.

No UNC frontcourt player is especially suited to playing small forward, but McAdoo, Johnson, and Hicks are athletic enough to masquerade there if the Tar Heels go with a big lineup.

2013-14 Conference Previews
ACC | American | Big 12 | Big East
Big Ten | Mountain West | Pac-12 | SEC


Backcourt

UNC almost had too many wing players a year ago. But with Hairston finding off-court trouble during the summer and Reggie Bullock and Dexter Strickland departing, now the Tar Heels might not have enough. Sophomore J.P. Tokoto, who could move into a starting role, will be counted on to provide more than his trademark awe-inspiring dunks. He is not a proficient outside shooter, but he has the athleticism to become a force on defense.

At the other wing, fifth-year senior Leslie McDonald will have the biggest role of his career. McDonald is somewhat of a designated shooter, having made 37 percent of his 3-point tries over his last two seasons.

Marcus Paige made strides as a freshman starter at the point, becoming a threat from 3-point range as last season progressed. Paige likely will end up playing significant minutes at shooting guard because of UNC’s wing shortage and the arrival of freshman point guard Nate Britt. Britt was an adept passer in high school and will have a chance to earn major minutes if he makes a quick transition to the college game. Luke Davis returns as the third point guard.

Newcomers

Isaiah Hicks and Kennedy Meeks bring different abilities to UNC’s crowded frontcourt. Hicks is athletic and adept at running the floor, although he needs to add strength and back-to-the basket moves. Meeks, meanwhile, is not an elite athlete. He is a good low-post scorer and skilled passer, especially on outlets, with good hands. Nate Britt is a quick floor general with savvy who will get immediate playing time at the point.

Final Analysis
Factoid: 1.6. UNC averaged 1.6 rebounds per game more than its opponents last season, the lowest rebound margin for a Roy Williams-coached team since Williams’ first season at Kansas (1988-89).


Williams is used to juggling players in his up-tempo scheme, but he hasn’t seen a puzzle quite like this one before. The Tar Heels have an imperfect roster in two ways: They are out of balance with their post/perimeter mix, and they lack the proven stud or two that the best Tar Heel teams usually feature.

That said, UNC has enough talent to finish near the top of a new-look ACC that will feature Syracuse, Pittsburgh, and Notre Dame for the first time. The Tar Heels can reach that potential as long as they maintain good health on the perimeter and consistently find ways to impose their will in the big-vs.-small contrast of styles that they will encounter on a nightly basis.

2013-14 Preseason Top 25
9. Syracuse
10. North Carolina
11. Ohio State
12. Michigan

13. Marquette
14. New Mexico
15. Notre Dame
16. Creighton
17. Tennessee
18. VCU
19. UNLV
20. Memphis
21. Connecticut
22. Wisconsin
23. UCLA
24. Baylor
25. Wichita State

Teaser:
College Basketball: 2013-14 North Carolina Preview
Post date: Friday, November 1, 2013 - 07:00
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-2013-14-ohio-state-preview
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This preview and more on Ohio State and the Big Ten are available in the Athlon Sports 2013-14 College Basketball Preseason Annual. The magazine is available online or on newsstands everywhere.

No. 11 Ohio State Facts & Figures
Last season: 29-8 (13-5 Big Ten)
Postseason: NCAA Elite Eight
Coach: Thad Matta (250-73 at Ohio State)
Big Ten projection: Second
Postseason projection: NCAA Sweet 16
Unfortunately for Thad Matta, Ohio State’s outlook begins with who is no longer around. That’s because forward Deshaun Thomas and his Big Ten-leading 19.8 points per game are gone, along with the reliable services of post man Evan Ravenel.

Considering that center Amir Williams is far from a finished product and struggles to maintain intensity, the exhausted eligibility of Ravenel is noteworthy.

Thomas, meanwhile, leaves a rather gaping hole. The free-wheeling lefty led the Buckeyes in 29 of their 37 games as a junior last season, and his offensive creativity will be sorely missed.

Now the good news: Matta has the program at an elite level despite having to overcome early NBA defections from the likes of Greg Oden, Mike Conley Jr., Kosta Koufos, Evan Turner and Jared Sullinger over the years, and there is plenty of athleticism and tenacity left on the roster.

Senior Aaron Craft is the catalyst on both ends of the floor and should receive help once again from Shannon Scott, who made major strides last season. Lenzelle Smith Jr. is yet another proven performer at guard.

On the wing, the Buckeyes have three face-up forwards in the 6-7 range in LaQuinton Ross, Sam Thompson and freshman Marc Loving, who all bring an array of gifts to the table.

Frontcourt

Williams represents OSU’s very limited post game, and while he’s the team’s lone shot-eraser, he also isn’t nearly as adept at help defense and shutting down pick-and-roll plays as Ravenel. A big growth year from the 6-11 Williams would be a boon for the Buckeyes, but may not be crucial. Matta is more than willing to play a small lineup this season. Plus, Ohio State is blessed with a lengthy shutdown defender in Thompson and will be able to create mismatches on offense with Ross, who stands a legit 6-8.

Ross shot forward in the 2013 postseason with huge threes and athletic finishes at the basket, causing Arizona coach Sean Miller to label him a “future star.” He could pick up a lot of the scoring load left behind by Thomas. Ross averaged 8.3 points in only 16.9 minutes as a sophomore.

Loving provides even more shooting and versatility and could be an ideal fit as a 4-man in Matta’s system. However, he and Thompson are not polished rebounders. Meanwhile, Trey McDonald, athletic and decently skilled, is still trying to find a spot in Matta’s rotation. He played in only 19 games last season.

2013-14 Conference Previews
ACC | American | Big 12 | Big East
Big Ten | Mountain West | Pac-12 | SEC


Backcourt

Craft has carved out a well-deserved reputation as an elite defender and intense competitor. Now the challenge for Craft is to add onto last season’s averages of 10.0 points and 4.6 assists per game. When asked what new full-time assistant coach and former Duke point guard Greg Paulus might do for the senior, Matta jokes, “Hopefully he can get him to shoot 47 percent from the 3-point line for starters. That would be good.”

The coaches actually would accept Craft simply taking and making a few more important jumpers — like the trey he splashed against Iowa State that put the Buckeyes in the Sweet 16.

Scott is a minimal threat from the perimeter — he hit only 11 3-pointers in ’12-13 — but gives OSU a second ball-handler and another menacing on-ball defender. He’s especially skilled at creating opportunities for others with the shot clock winding down.

The off-guard position is interesting with Smith in the role of steady senior, lanky Amedeo Della Valle capable of providing a spark, and freshman Kameron Williams a potential microwave off the bench.

Newcomers

One of the top forward prospects in the Midwest, Marc Loving earned Ohio’s “Mr. Basketball” and averaged 21.2 points and 8.4 rebounds per game as a prep senior. Still, Loving is a finesse player who will have to adapt to Big Ten physicality. Kameron Williams is a deluxe scorer who can stroke it from deep and already has an effective floater.

Final Analysis
Factoid: 7. Ohio State has had at least one player drafted in each of the last seven years, the longest such streak in the nation.


Matta demands constant effort and smarts on defense, and the results have been borderline spectacular over the years. Ohio State, in fact, has been one of the best teams in the country at defending without fouling, and that needs to be — and should be — a calling card once again.

The offense will jell eventually with Ross poised for a breakout season, and the ball movement leading to shared wealth. Newcomers Loving and Williams should augment nicely.

Rebounding, however, could be at a premium. The Buckeyes will need a collected effort on the backboards if they are to again compete for a Big Ten title.

2013-14 Preseason Top 25
9. Syracuse
10. North Carolina
11. Ohio State
12. Michigan

13. Marquette
14. New Mexico
15. Notre Dame
16. Creighton
17. Tennessee
18. VCU
19. UNLV
20. Memphis
21. Connecticut
22. Wisconsin
23. UCLA
24. Baylor
25. Wichita State

Teaser:
College Basketball: 2013-14 Ohio State Preview
Post date: Friday, November 1, 2013 - 07:00
Path: /overtime/athlon-sports-picks-best-sports-podcasts
Body:

From classic live game broadcasts to sports talk radio, from Vin Scully to Paul Finebaum, the audio presentation is part of the the routine of being a sports fan.

At Athlon Sports, podcasts are among our favorite ways to consume sports media, so much so that we decided to start the Athlon Sports Cover 2 College Football Podcast.

Name a niche and chances are there’s a podcast about it. The barriers of traditional broadcast don’t apply. Want to spend an hour on one team in college football? No problem. Want to veer off from the games of the week into strange detours into food or pop culture? Who’s going to stop you?

The DIY aspect lends itself to spotty audio quality or less-polished hosts, but that’s the beauty of it. All fans with enough passion and basic technical know-how can share their voice and viewpoint with the world.

We asked around the Athlon office and picked some of our favorites in the sports we cover. One caveat: We tried to stick to podcast-first programs. It’s safe to say if you like ESPN Radio or TV programming, you can find it in a podcast format, too.

Athlon Sports’ Top Sports Podcasts

The B.S. Report
One of the longest-standing podcasts in the sports realm, the B.S. Report features all you’d expect from Bill Simmons: Red Sox/Yankees talk, a six-part NBA preview, guessing NFL betting lines with Cousin Sal plus interviews with Chuck Klosterman, Saturday Night Live writer Robert Smigel and other visiting luminaries. Real World/Road Rules Challenge talk has more or less migrated to Grantland Pop Culture. So there’s that.

The Rich Eisen Podcast
Few are more enthusiastic about the podcast format than Eisen. Sure, he gives listeners plenty of football talk — upwards of two and a half hours sometimes. Eisen goes back and forth with co-hosts in addition to interviewing coaches and players around the league. Eisen has also interviewed Kevin Costner, Carrie Underwood, Larry David, Matt Damon and more.

The Solid Verbal
The Solid Verbal is the granddaddy of college football podcasts. Hosts Dan Rubenstein and Ty Hildenbrandt break down each Saturday’s games, preview the week ahead and help college football memes bubble up to the surface. If the phrases “Clemsoning,” “Dr. Bo Wallace” and “Nick Foles in a Losing Effort (plus sound effect)” mean something to you, odds are you’re a Verballer.

The Will Leitch Experience
A new podcast on the block, Deadspin founder and Sports on Earth columnist Will Leitch strives to interview “a different smart person every day.” Cardinals baseball, Illinois basketball and his move deep into the heart of SEC country have shaped the podcasts of late, but no podcast has more interesting media guests than this one.

Eye On College Football
Chip Patterson hosts the three-times-a-week podcast featuring CBSSports.com college football staff, including Dennis Dodd (on the aptly named Doddcast), Jerry Palm, Tom Fornelli and more as they recap each Saturday, talk news and BCS and break down picks of the week.

Eye On College Basketball
The CBSSports.com college basketball podcast returned earlier this week with columnist Gary Parrish moving into the host role. The CBS crew brings knowledge, opinions, banter and tales from the road long before March Madness.


Listen to Athlon Sports writers Braden Gall and David Fox talk Bo Pelini, Oklahoma State-Texas Tech, Miami-Florida State and more Week 10 action in this week's Athlon Sports Cover 2 Podcast.
ESPNU: College Football and ESPNU: College Basketball
Podcasts are generally a DIY format, but ESPN is able to throw its weight around on its podcast. The ESPN name allows football host Ivan Maisel and basketball host Andy Katz to regularly book coach interviews on top of being informative.

Outkick the Podcast
Seven episodes in and Clay Travis has interviewed Joe Namath, Ricky Williams and Phillip Fulmer. The love-him or hate-him host also knows his audience and knows it will go bonkers for an interview with former South Carolina quarterback and off-the-field legend Stephen Garcia.

ESPN Fantasy Focus Baseball
The daily grind of fantasy baseball is tough to navigate sometimes, that’s why Matthew Berry’s and Nate Ravitz’s podcast is the people’s choice.

Effectively Wild
Ben Lindbergh and Sam Miller with Baseball Prospectus know the baseball grind as much as anyone in the podcast or media biz. Like the athletes they cover and analyze (and analyze and analyze), they post a new podcast every day.

The MMQB Podcast and The Stewart Mandel Podcast
From Sports Illustrated land, the MMQB Podcast takes you through the NFL as only Peter King can with oodles of interviews around the sport. Mandel tackles the college football side with his own share of high-profile guests.

The Chrome Horn Podcast and The David Smith Podcast
Athlon Sports contributor Geoffrey Miller covers the weekly goings on all over NASCAR in the Chrome Horn podcast with Nick Bromberg from Yahoo! Sports' From the Marbles blog. David Smith, another Athlon contributor, looks at big-picture racing issues with guests from all over the sport.

The SEC Report and SEC Sports Roundtable
From the folks at Saturday Down South, the SEC Report is — you guessed it — an all-SEC, all the time podcast. With 14 teams and plenty of news from the season to recruiting season, they stay busy. And if you want a podcast that sounds like you dishing with your SEC friends, check out the SEC Sports Roundtable, mainly because it’s a group of friends dishing about the SEC.

Pac-12 Networks Football Podcast
Ex-football coach Rick Neuheisel is broadcasting natural, and he knows his way around the Pac-12 after coaching at UCLA, Washington and Colorado. He’s also a good fit on the podcast with Mike Yam when the program veers into non-football topics.

Teaser:
Athlon Sports Picks the Best Sports Podcasts
Post date: Friday, November 1, 2013 - 07:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-link-roundup-october-31
Body:

Just one month of the 2013 college football season....

Contact us on twitter with a link or a tip we should include each day. (@AthlonSteven)

College Football's Must-Read Stories Around the Web for Thursday, October 31st

South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw gets highlighted for his performance against Missouri last week.

Saturday Down South ranks the top five teams in the SEC.

Washington receiver Kasen Williams will miss the rest of the season due to a leg injury.

West Virginia's Oliver Luck is the frontrunner to be Texas' next athletic director.

Sports Illustrated visited with former Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson.

Western Kentucky linebacker Andrew Jackson has been suspended indefinitely.

Will Auburn have quarterback Nick Marshall in the lineup this Saturday?

Kevin Gemmell of ESPN's Pac-12 Blog has a good story on Colorado first-year coach Mike MacIntyre.

Syracuse kicker Ryan Norton is suspended for Saturday's game against Wake Forest.

Mississippi State defensive tackle Quay Evans was arrested on Wednesday on suspicion of driving without a license. 

Maryland tackle Mike Madaras has decided to leave the team.

Stanford defensive end Ben Gardner will miss the rest of the season due to an arm injury suffered against Oregon State.

With Antone Exum's return, Virginia Tech's secondary is loaded with options.

A thin secondary is getting worse for Rutgers: Nadir Barnwell was suspended after being charged with driving while intoxicated and careless driving.

Wyoming dismissed defensive coordinator Chris Tormey this week.

UTEP quarterback Jameill Showers is out indefinitely with a shoulder injury.

What are the biggest takeaways in the SEC from last Saturday?

Teaser:
College Football's Link Roundup: October 31
Post date: Thursday, October 31, 2013 - 12:45
Path: /college-football/top-college-football-player-matchups-watch-week-10
Body:

Each week, Athlon Sports will highlight some of the best one-on-one matchups to watch in college football. Here are the most important games within the game to watch this weekend:

Duke Johnson, RB vs. Telvin Smith, LB (Miami vs. Florida St.)
The only chance Miami has to win is to use the power running game to keep the ball away from Jameis Winston. Johnson and backfield mate Dallas Crawford have saved the day the last two weekends for the Canes by pounding the rock in the fourth quarter. Smith and Christian Jones have been excellent at linebacker for Florida State this year. Smith (7.0) and Jones (5.5) are No. 1 and 3 in tackles for the Seminoles this year.

Justin Gilbert, CB vs. Davis Webb, QB (Oklahoma St. vs. Texas Tech)
The Red Raiders quarterback will need to be mindful of Gilbert, who has an interception in each of the last two games and four picks this season. Webb has been strong under center, throwing for at least 385 yards in each of the last three games. However, he also has thrown three interceptions during that span. Webb will have to be aware of where No. 4 is on the field.

Week 10 Previews and Predictions: ACC | Big 12 Big Ten Pac-12 SEC

Todd Gurley, RB vs. Antonio Morrison, LB (Georgia vs. Florida)
The Bulldogs expect to have their All-American back in the lineup after missing three games with a high ankle sprain. J.J. Green and Brendan Douglas did a nice job in relief, but Gurley is a true difference-maker who, when healthy, is one of the top two or three running backs in the nation. He will be running against a Florida defense that hasn’t been nearly as formidable since defensive tackle Dominique Easley went down with a season-ending injury. Linebackers Morrison and Michael Taylor are the top two tacklers for the Gators and will be charged with stopping the powerful running back. In the last three games, all without Easley, Florida has allowed 163.7 rushing yards per game and 4.7 yards per carry.

Devin Gardner, QB vs. Max Bullough, LB (Michigan at Michigan St.)
It is cliché to point to quarterback play as the deciding factor in any game, but this in-state battle hinges on both signal-callers. Gardner is the Big Ten leader in total offense (328.4 ypg) by a wide margin over Braxton Miller (247.7) but he also has turned the ball over 14 times — a Big Ten-leading 10 interceptions and four lost fumbles. Bullough is the leader of the Spartans defense and will be in charge of getting his unit into position. If Gardner plays well against the nation’s best defense, Michigan can win. If he turns the ball over, they have no chance.

Josh Shaw, CB vs. Brandin Cooks, WR (USC at Oregon St.)
Like every other position on the field, the Trojans' secondary is seriously talented. Shaw, Su’a Cravens, Dion Bailey and Demetrius Wright are as gifted a starting group as there is in the nation. But they have dealt with nagging injuries and will be faced with stopping the nation’s No. 1 QB-WR duo in Sean Mannion and Cooks. On the road, this group will decide the Trojans' fate this weekend.

Josh Dobbs, QB vs. Andrew Wilson, LB (Tennessee at Missouri)
The true freshman from Georgia will make his first start on Saturday night at Missouri. Dobbs, who originally committed to Arizona State, was hand-picked by the new staff after its arrival in Knoxville last December. He is one of three freshman quarterbacks on the roster — two true and one redshirt — but most around the program believe Dobbs is the best fit for the offense. He’ll have an opportunity to display his skills in prime time on Saturday night against one of the hardest hitting linebackers in the game. Wilson is the Tigers' top tackler and will be in charge of slowing the Vols' dual-threat quarterback.

Derrick Hopkins, DT vs. Andre Williams, RB (Virginia Tech at Boston College)
Even with Boston College’s passing offense struggling to get on track last week, Williams still managed 172 yards in a 34-10 loss against North Carolina. The senior leads the ACC with an average of 144.3 yards per game, but Virginia Tech’s defensive line will be the toughest Boston College has faced this year. The Hokies have allowed just five rushing scores and opponents are managing only 2.6 yards per carry. Virginia Tech’s interior line is deep with tackles Hopkins and Luther Maddy, while ends James Gayle and J.R. Collins have combined for eight sacks. In order for the Eagles to have a shot at winning on Saturday, Williams has to get over 100 yards.

Teaser:
Top College Football Player Matchups to Watch in Week 10
Post date: Thursday, October 31, 2013 - 12:00
Path: /college-football/2013-college-football-week-10-upset-predictions
Body:

With the arrival of November, the final month of the regular season is officially here. And with just a month to go, the national title picture is just starting to clear, while there are several battles within all conferences for bowl positioning.

Athlon’s editors are back with another edition of the upset picks, and there are plenty of teams on alert this week.

Wake Forest, ULM and Minnesota are underdogs this week, but are three popular upset selections.

The favorites can't win every game each week, so it's no surprise one of the most popular discussion points every Saturday is upset picks. Each week on AthlonSports.com, the editors will give an upset pick for the upcoming week of action.

Week 10 Previews and Predictions: ACC Big 12 | Big Ten Pac-12 | SEC

College Football Week 10 Upset Predictions

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven): Wake Forest (+3.5) over Syracuse
Earlier this season, Wake Forest looked like a team that was in danger of finishing without a win in ACC play. But the last three weeks have been different, as the Demon Deacons have improved significantly since starting the year 1-2. Coach Jim Grobe and his staff made a few tweaks to the offense, which resulted in Wake Forest beating NC State and Maryland and nearly scoring an upset win over Miami last week. Both Wake Forest and Syracuse are still in the mix for a bowl game, and this matchup is critical for both program’s hopes of getting to six wins. The Orange has one of the ACC’s best rushing attacks, but the defense has struggled to stop the pass. With Wake Forest quarterback Tanner Price and receiver Michael Campanaro picking up their performance over the last three weeks, the Demon Deacons’ passing attack will be too much for Syracuse to overcome.

David Fox (@DavidFox615): Minnesota (+9.5) over Indiana
Maybe it’s time to stop doubting Minnesota. The Gophers have won this season with two different coaches and two different quarterbacks. This team probably won’t go to the Big Ten championship game, but Minnesota has turned a corner of sorts. The offensive coaching staff has been one of the most creative in the league, but the Gophers haven’t gotten away from their bread-and-butter rushing attack. If we’ve learned one thing about the Indiana defense, it’s that the Hoosiers have trouble stopping the run. Navy, Missouri, Michigan State and Michigan all topped 230 rushing yards and three touchdowns on the ground against the Hoosiers. Three of them topped five yards per carry. This may end up being an up-and-down game, so I’d pick the team that has Ra’Shede Hageman to make the critical stop.

Mark Ross: Louisiana-Monroe (+3) over Troy
Troy has one more win (5-3) than ULM (4-4), is at home and riding a three-game winning streak. The Trojans, not surprisingly, are getting it done on offense. Troy is 26th in the nation in total offense, thanks in large part to 325 passing yards (16th) per game. Offense has been a little harder to come by for the Warhawks, who are 99th in total offense and all the way down at 109th in scoring (19.9 ppg). So why am I taking the visiting team in this one? Two reasons, the first being Troy does not play defense. The Trojans are giving up 472 yards (110th in the nation) and 32.8 points (99th) per game. The second is because the Warhawks have their best player back, quarterback Kolton Browning. The senior dual-threat signal-caller missed the first two games in October because of a torn quad muscle that initially was believed to be a season-ending injury. He started last week against Georgia State and threw four touchdown passes in the easy win. Browning was responsible for more than 3,500 yards of offense and 36 total touchdowns last season. To put it simply, he is a difference-maker and the main reason why I think ULM will go on a late run and potentially vie for the Sun Belt title, starting with a victory over Troy on Halloween night.

Braden Gall (@BradenGall): Boston College (+5.5) over Virginia Tech
Neither team is having much success on offense, and the Hokies are coming off one of the worst showing in school history after losing to Duke at home. This was a seven-point game last year and the Eagles have shown improvement under first-year coach Steve Addazio. At home, BC is 3-1 this year with its only loss coming to Florida State — a game in which the Eagles fought valiantly (48-34). Logan Thomas is playing horrendous football right now, and the offense cannot move the ball consistently at all.

Stephen Schindler (@SteveSchindler): Michigan (+6) over Michigan State
This week, Michigan running back Fitzgerald Toussaint talked about Michigan State's status as the Wolverines' little brother. Despite this, the Spartans are the favorites for this game in East Lansing, with the winner taking a stranglehold on the Big Ten Legends Division. This year's edition of the battle for the Paul Bunyan trophy pits Michigan's eighth-ranked scoring offense against the Spartans' stifling defense, which ranks third in points allowed. Behind quarterback Devin Gardner, Michigan has scored at least 40 points in five of its seven games this season. Gardner's biggest issue this year has been turnovers, which he will need to limit against a Michigan State defense that has a penchant for scoring itself as the unit leads the nation with five defensive touchdowns. I think Gardner is able to play smart football and get an early lead on the Spartans, forcing Connor Cook to beat the Wolverines with his arm. If Michigan can pile up a few touchdowns and put the pressure on Cook to make plays, Brady Hoke will walk out of Spartan Stadium with his first career win in East Lansing against the in-state rivals.

Teaser:
2013 College Football Week 10 Upset Predictions
Post date: Thursday, October 31, 2013 - 11:32
All taxonomy terms: Coaches on the hot seat, NFL, News
Path: /nfl/nfls-coach-hot-seat-rankings-midseason-edition
Body:

Halfway through the season and a handful of NFL teams are either already out of the playoff race – at least realistically – or on their way there. That means that somewhere, deep in their offices, people are already pondering the 2014 season.

And the biggest thing they’ll be thinking about is: Who will be their coach?

It’s a good bet that several NFL coaches are already on a very hot seat, needing to do a lot of winning during the second half of the season in order to save their jobs. Here’s a look those whose seats are the hottest – some of whom are already burned:

The Hot Seats
(Team record entering Week 9)

1. Greg Schiano, Tampa Bay (0-7)
It’s hard to remember a regime that’s been a bigger disaster than Schiano’s regime currently is. There are many around the NFL who hate him for a variety of reasons – including his famous strategy of having his defense attack quarterbacks who take a knee at the end of games. But now he’s got players angry at him for the way he (and his general manager) mishandled the MRSA infection in the locker room, not to mention the ugly way he dealt with Josh Freeman, which included accusations of leaked information. And now they’re 0-7, too. If the Bucs aren’t already thinking ahead to the next coach, they should be.

2. Leslie Frazier, Minnesota (1-6)
The Vikings were 10-6 and made the playoffs last year, and now they’d need to go 9-0 just to equal that mark. That’s a huge drop-off for a team with the NFL’s best running back in Adrian Peterson. Yes, the Vikings have QB issues, but Frazier isn’t handling them well. His decision to go to Josh Freeman seemed premature, as was his decision to have Freeman throw 53 times in a loss to the Giants while Peterson gathered dust. With a new stadium on the way in two years, Vikings may want to clean house to make sure they can build a contender again by 2016 before they waste any more of AP’s years.

3. Gary Kubiak, Houston (2-5)
This isn’t all Kubiak’s fault and the Texans have been hammered by injuries, but how many years can he get away with the Texans being one of the league’s biggest disappointments? He is in his eighth year as the Texans’ coach. They’ve been to the playoffs twice and lost in the divisional round twice, even though there are probably five or six years there when they were expected to go farther. Houston’s desire for stability is admirable, but it may be time for a change.

4. Jason Garrett, Dallas (4-4)
Yeah, the Cowboys are in first place, but only because the rest of the NFC East stinks. They probably should be 6-2, but instead they’re just one game ahead of the awful Eagles and two games ahead of the disastrous 2-6 Giants. The Cowboys are the most talented team in the division and probably could make a run at being one of the best in the conference. If they don’t win the division in this down year, how could Jerry Jones not make a change?

5. Rex Ryan, New York Jets (4-4)
They may be in second place, but they have two very fortunate wins that hinged on controversial decisions by officials, and they’re coming off a beat-down in Cincinnati. All in all, given the roster turnover and the rookie quarterback, Ryan has done an impressive job. But his seat will be red hot without a playoff berth because he has yet to get a vote of confidence from ownership or new GM John Idzik, who most people believe is determined to bring in his own coach next year if he even has the smallest opportunity to do so.

The Warm Seats

6. Ron Rivera, Carolina (4-3)
They’re starting to show signs of life behind Cam Newton, and they better keep it up because when a No. 1 overall draft pick like Newton doesn’t cause a pretty significant turnaround for a franchise it’s usually the coach that takes the fall. It doesn’t help that the Panthers changed GMs, hiring ex-Giants executive Dave Gettleman, who stuck with Rivera for one year but likely wouldn’t do it for two if there wasn’t a playoff berth involved.

7. Mike Shanahan, Washington (2-5)
The Redskins’ problems can probably be tied directly to the health and performance of Robert Griffin III, but Shanahan was already under fire a bit for the way he handled RGIII’s knee injury last season. Besides, if they don’t make the playoffs this season that would make three of four misses under Shanahan’s watch, plus a loss in the wild-card round. And in a down year in the NFC East where there should’ve been an easy opportunity for the ‘Skins to make a run, the impetuous Dan Snyder has to consider blowing things up.

8. Mike Munchak, Tennessee (3-4)
The Munchak era started with such promise – a 9-7 record in 2011 – but last year was a setback and this year they’re only clinging to the fringe of a very winnable wild-card race. The death of Bud Adams likely means the Titans won’t make a change because organizations don’t like a lot of upheaval at the top at one time. But Munchak’s reign has been marked by mediocrity at best and no visible signs of taking a step towards the next level.

Cold Seats … but only for now

Mike Tomlin, Pittsburgh (2-5) – He works for an organization known for sticking with coaches longer than any other. And he’s had too much success for the Steelers to ponder giving up on him now.

Tom Coughlin, New York Giants (2-6) – Ownership and management remain strongly in his corner, but at 67 retirement always looms. Plus a second-half disaster in the New York fishbowl could always force unexpected changes.

Gus Bradley, Jacksonville (0-8) – His team stinks and he has no quarterback and it’s doubtful ownership will fire him after just one year. But if they get to 0-16 – which isn’t out of the question – all bets have to be off.

Jim Schwartz, Detroit (5-3) – He’s coming off an extremely disappointing 4-12 season, so anything short of a playoff berth in his fifth season could cost him his job. They do seem to appear to be on their way, though.

Dennis Allen, Oakland (3-4) – Expectations weren’t high in Oakland and they do seem to have found a quarterback in Terelle Pryor. But these are the Raiders, so nothing can be ruled out.

By Ralph Vacchiano, @RVacchianoNYDN
Teaser:
NFL's Coach on the Hot Seat Rankings: Midseason Edition
Post date: Thursday, October 31, 2013 - 11:30
All taxonomy terms: Essential 11, Overtime
Path: /overtime/athlons-essential-11-links-day-october-31-2013
Body:

This is your daily link roundup of our favorite sports posts on the web for Oct. 31.

 

• Happy Halloween, everybody. Who better to help us celebrate than the lovely cheerleaders of the NFL?

 

• Congrats to the world champion Red Sox. Enjoy this gallery of images from their third — third! — championship since 2004.

 

So are the Red Sox the team of the 21st Century so far? Not so fast.

 

Tim McCarver's last word on a national broadcast: "Ditto." That's somehow appropriate.

 

Johnny Gomes had some pointed comments for you sabermetricians out there. No, they didn't include "your mom's basement."

 

• Last night's postgame was full of Erin Andrews awkwardness, but Koji Uehara's son saved the moment.

 

• Looking for last-minute costume ideas? Here's a quick rundown of sports-related costumes.

 

• Michael Carter-Williams made a memorable debut for the 76ers. Here it is, in its entirety.

 

• Man of the people: Metta World Peace took the F Train to MSG for his first Knicks game.

 

• This is very meta, and very funny: PFT Commenter from Kissing Suzy Kolber interviews PFT founder Mike Florio. When trolls collide.

 

• Note to all you kids out there: Braces can lead to unwanted pregnancy.

 

• Here's the reaction from within Fenway Park to the final out of the 2013 World Series.

 

 

 

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

Teaser:
Post date: Thursday, October 31, 2013 - 10:50
All taxonomy terms: Cincinnati Bengals, Miami Dolphins, NFL, News
Path: /nfl/cincinnati-bengals-vs-miami-dolphins-game-preview-and-prediction
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Andy Dalton and the 6-2 Cincinnati Bengals travel to Sun Life Stadium to take on Ryan Tannehill and the 3-4 Miami Dolphins on "Thursday Night Football" on the NFL Network at 8:25 pm ET. This is a perfect example of how quickly things can change in the NFL. The first month saw the Dolphins take off to a 3-0 record, while the Bengals were stuck at 2-2 after a loss to the Cleveland Browns. Since that early portion of the season these teams have moved in opposite directions. The Bengals have won four straight games since the loss to Cleveland, beating two playoff-caliber teams in New England and Detroit.

Miami, on the other hand, has dropped four consecutive games. While the Dolphins did fall to two good teams in New England and New Orleans, two losses to Baltimore and Buffalo by a combined five points really sting. An 0-2 start in AFC East divisional play isn't how the Dolphins pictured the season going. However, they will look to get back to their winning ways tonight against perhaps second-best team in the AFC.

3 Things to Watch

Red-Hot Redhead
Andy Dalton is officially on fire. The third-year pro has thrown eight passing touchdown in the last two weeks, which is most among all quarterbacks.This year, he has thrown for 2,249 passing yards, which ranks fourth in the NFL. Dalton has thrown for three or more scores in each of his last three games. In fact, Dalton has thrown for at least 300 yards, thrown three touchdowns and registered a QB rating over 100.0 for three straight weeks. He is the first quarterback to do this since Hall of Famer Steve Young did so in 1998. Dalton hasn't just been getting the ball to A.J. Green, who is second in the NFL in receiving yards with 734. He has successfully spread the ball around to guys like running back Giovani Bernard, wide receiver Marvin Jones and tight ends Tyler Eifert and Jermaine Gresham. Jones had a franchise-record four receiving touchdowns last week, while Bernard has the most receptions of any rookie back. Six players on the Bengals have more than 20 receptions. Not even Peyton Manning's Broncos or Drew Brees' Saints have as many players with at least 20 receptions. Dalton has been pushing the ball down field more aggressively as he has completed 25 passes of over 25 yards this year. Dalton has been on fire since Week 5 and don't expect that to stop against a Dolphins' defense that is 20th in the NFL in passing defense.

Cincinnati Sack Attack
Guess who leads the NFL in sacks allowed? That's right, it's the Miami Dolphins. Ryan Tannehill has been sacked a league-leading 32 times in just seven games. That's an average of 4.5 sacks allowed per game. He's on pace to be sacked 73 times, which would shatter the team record of 53 sacks allowed in a season set in 1969. In an attempt to upgrade the line, Miami traded for former Ravens offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie, who made his first start in a Dolphins uniform on Sunday. By trading for him, they were able to move former left tackle Jonathan Martin back to the right side. This didn't work. Because of the pressure Tannehill is struggling to push the ball down field as he has just 11 completions over 25 yards in 2013. Martin is doubtful to play tonight due to an emotional breakdown at the team facility earlier this week, so things could get even uglier. Miami's offensive line doesn't have an easy matchup this week as it is tasked with slowing down a very tough, athletic Bengals defensive line. Cincinnati had 51 sacks a season ago and are on pace for a very impressive 44 this year, with four last week against the Jets. With Geno Atkins, Michael Johnson, Carlos Dunlap and Wallace Gilberry up front expect Tannehill to be running for his life.

Where is Mike Wallace?
Could this be the biggest free agent bust since the Redskins made the infamous Albert Haynesworth a $100 million man? It sure deserves to be in the conversation. Wallace has zero receiving touchdowns in the last five games. He has fewer than 80 receiving yards in four of his last five games. The good news for Wallace is that the Bengals have lost their top cornerback Leon Hall for the year and Cincinnati has allowed at least two passing touchdowns in four straight road games. On the season, the former Steeler has just 30 receptions for 398 yards and one lone touchdown.

Key Player for Cincinnati: Giovani Bernard, RB
Bernard is an x-factor for the Bengals. He is an excellent receiving option out of the backfield and appears to have a nose for the end zone. He will still be deployed as the backup to BenJarvus Green-Ellis, yet he continues to get a healthy amount of touches with 72 rushes and 26 receptions. It is interesting to note that, after getting double-digit carries for four straight weeks, Bernard has gotten just 12 combined carries the last two weeks. He touched the ball just six times last week, but I think things return to normal tonight as I see Bernard getting into the end zone.

Key Player for Miami: Lamar Miller, RB
The Dolphins have been struggling on offense, averaging just 311 yards per game. That's 27th in the NFL. They have found some success when giving the ball to Miller. A fourth-round pick in the 2012 draft, Miller got a season-high 18 carries against New England last week and turned those into 89 yards, including an 18-yard burst up the middle. Miller is an explosive option, offering elite speed and averaging 4.5 yards per carry. Miller will have to earn his keep against a Cincinnati rush defense that allows just 97.3 yards per game, which is good for eighth-best in the league.

Final Analysis

A short week benefits the team that is playing the best football at the moment. That's the Bengals. Cincinnati has a quarterback that is on fire, a plethora of receiving options, and an extremely talented front seven on defense. The Miami offense has looked terrible over the past month and this isn't the week that changes.

Cincinnati 27, Miami 13

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Cincinnati Bengals vs. Miami Dolphins Game Preview and Prediction
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Oklahoma-Baylor is a week away, so this week the Big 12 action will boil down to a game between the other Oklahoma school and the other pass-happy surprise team in Texas.

Oklahoma State and Texas Tech meet both with one conference loss in a game that will all but eliminate the loser from Big 12 championship contention.

The Cowboys were the preseason favorite in the league, but the Cowboys have struggled all season to find an identity on offense. From a changing starting quarterback to changing ball-carriers, Oklahoma State is hardly reminiscent of past Pokes’ teams.

Meanwhile, Texas Tech is coming off its first loss of the season with a 38-30 defeat at Oklahoma. With a high-powered passing game, Texas Tech doesn’t lack for offensive identity, but the Red Raiders need to find a run defense in a hurry.

Outside of the matchup in Lubbock, you’d be hard-pressed to find an intriguing game in the Big 12 this week with OU and Baylor out of action.

Week 10 Previews and Predictions: ACC | Big Ten | Pac-12 | SEC

Big 12 Week 10 Game Power Rankings
All games Saturday, All times Eastern

1. Oklahoma State at Texas Tech (7 p.m., Fox)
The Cowboys will try to repeat what they did last week against Iowa State in the run game when Desmond Roland more than doubled his rushing output for the season by running for 219 yards against Iowa State last week. That's a key development for a running game that struggled to find a top ball-carrier all season. Freshman Rennie Childs also showed flashes this season, but he carried only twice last week against Cyclones. Part of the success in the run game may be credited to an offensive line that is finding consistency after starting six different combinations this season. Keeping the Texas Tech offense off the field — as Oklahoma did last week — will be a key for the Cowboys. Texas Tech needs to do its part to stay on the field, too, after finishing minus-6 in turnover margin the last three games. Red Raiders quarterback Davis Webb will need to mindful of Oklahoma State quarterback Justin Gilbert, who has an interception in each of the last two games and four picks this season.

2. Iowa State at Kansas State (3:30 p.m., Fox Sports 1)
Kansas State ended its three-game losing streak by defeating West Virginia 35-12 last week. With home dates against the Mountaineers, Iowa State and TCU in a four-game span, Kansas State should push closer to bowl eligibility. Iowa State visits Manhattan a wounded team. Aaron Wimberly, the Cyclones’ breakout tailback, likely will miss his second consecutive game with a hamstring injury. Quarterback Sam Richardson also missed part of last week’s loss to Oklahoma State after taking a shot to the head. His status is day-to-day. Kansas State, meanwhile, is getting healthier and more consistent. Wide receivers Tyler Lockett and Tramaine Thompson returned last week as the K-State defense picked up three takeaways against West Virginia.

3. West Virginia at TCU (3:30 p.m., ESPNU)
TCU quarterback Casey Pachall returned from a broken arm, but the return of the former starter did little to boost the offense on the scoreboard. TCU coach Gary Patterson said Pachall’s leadership hadn’t diminished and he wasn’t rusty despite sitting since the second game of the season. Pachall was 13 of 34 for 169 yards with an interception against Texas, but if there’s a chance for him to get back into the groove, it will be against West Virginia. The Mountaineers are last in the Big 12 in pass efficiency defense. West Virginia has allowed the last three opponents (Baylor, Texas Tech and Kansas State) to complete 71.2 percent of their passes for an average of 11 yards per attempt.

4. Kansas at Texas (3:30 p.m., Longhorn Network)
Texas is making good on its optimism to save the season by winning the Big 12. Texas is 4-0 in the league with upcoming games against Kansas and West Virginia. Thank the defense, which has picked up 16 total sacks in four games against Big 12 competition. Kansas could get a boost of its own on defense with the return of linebacker Ben Heeney. The Jayhawks’ top defensive player was given an extra week of recovery time last week before facing Texas’ above-average running game. Kansas running back Tony Pierson’s return, however, remains a mystery after he felt dizzy after three plays against Baylor last week.

Off: Baylor, Oklahoma

Big 12 Week 10 Pivotal Players


Listen to Athlon Sports writers Braden Gall and David Fox talk Bo Pelini, Oklahoma State-Texas Tech, Miami-Florida State and more Week 10 action in this week's Athlon Sports Cover 2 Podcast.
Oklahoma State passers
Texas Tech made Blake Bell look like a Heisman contender last week as Oklahoma’s quarterback averaged 11.3 yards per attempt against the Red Raiders. No other opponent had topped 6.5 yards per attempt against Texas Tech this season. Like Oklahoma has in Jalen Saunders, Oklahoma State has a receiver who can break open a game in Josh Stewart. That said, J.W. Walsh and Clint Chelf are completing only 46.8 percent of their passes with five touchdowns with six interceptions in Big 12 play this season.

Texas Tech’s run defense
The Red Raiders have allowed 603 rushing yards and eight touchdowns in the last three games. Of those three opponents, only Oklahoma ranks in the top five in the Big 12 rushing. Texas Tech’s play up front will need to improve in a hurry when as the Red Raiders enter the toughest part of their schedule.

West Virginia’s offensive line
West Virginia’s offensive line has been a mess all season with injuries and ineffective play. The latest was an ankle injury to veteran center Pat Eger. Guard Quinton Spain had his best game of the season against Kansas State, but the Mountaineers will need to find a way to stop a TCU pass rush that leads the Big 12 in total sacks.

Montell Cozart, Kansas
With quarterback Jake Heaps struggling, Kansas has started to give freshman Montell Cozart a look. He split snaps with Heaps last week, completing 4 of 14 passes for 69 yards against Baylor, but he’ll get more playing time this week. For the second time in two seasons, Charlie Weis has backed off a high-profile transfer (Dayne Crist and Heaps) to give reps to a freshman quarterback. Michael Cummings eventually became the starter over Crist last season, but Cummings has attempted only four passes as a sophomore.

DeVondrick Nealy, Iowa State
The Cyclones running back had one of the highlights of last Saturday by leaping over an Oklahoma State safety into the end zone. Nealy will need more than highlight reel plays against Kansas State. With Wimberly out, Nealy and Shontrelle Johnson will take the bulk of the carries for an Iowa State team that has struggled to find a consistent run game.

Big 12 Week 10 Picks
 

 David FoxBraden GallSteven LassanMitch Light
West Va. (+13) at TCUWVU 14-10TCU 27-17TCU 27-20TCU 24-20
Iowa St (+17) at Kansas StKSU 28-10KSU 34-21KSU 38-17KSU 38-17
Kansas (+28) at TexasTexas 35-7Texas 38-13Texas 45-10Texas 41-7
Okla. St (+2.5) at Texas TechTech 38-24Tech 41-38Tech 34-31OSU 34-30
Last Week4-15-05-04-1
This Season42-945-644-743-8

 

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Big 12 Week 10 Preview and Predictions 2013
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The ACC is back under the national spotlight in Week 10. Florida State-Clemson was the marquee national game two weeks ago, but the Seminoles easily handled the Tigers in Death Valley.

Is the stage set for another Florida State blowout on Saturday night? The Seminoles are a three-touchdown favorite over in-state rival Miami, with the Hurricanes needing a couple of late comebacks to beat North Carolina and Wake Forest – a combined 6-9 this season.

A blowout victory against Miami would serve Florida State well in the national title picture, but the Hurricanes also have the chance at a rematch – assuming they win the Coastal – in the ACC Championship.

Elsewhere around the ACC, Clemson travels to Virginia, while Wake Forest and Syracuse meet in an important game for bowl positioning. Pittsburgh looks to bounce back after a disappointing loss to Navy, meeting Georgia Tech for the first time as ACC opponents.

Virginia Tech travels to Boston College, and North Carolina makes the short trip to in-state rival NC State.

Week 10 Previews and Predictions: Big 12 | Big Ten Pac-12 | SEC

ACC Week 10 Game Power Rankings

1. Miami (+22) at Florida State (8 ET, ABC)
Normally, a matchup of two top-10 teams and in-state rivals wouldn’t produce a point spread of nearly three touchdowns. But that’s the hurdle facing Miami on Saturday night, as Florida State has clearly showed its one of the top-three teams in the nation. The Hurricanes are also undefeated, but close victories over North Carolina and Wake Forest have raised plenty of doubts on whether or not this team is worthy of its top-10 ranking. Florida State has a talent advantage at nearly every position in this game. On offense, quarterback Jameis Winston is already one of the best signal-callers in the nation, and the Seminoles have surrounded the freshman with a strong supporting cast. Although Miami’s defense has improved since last year, it will have its hands full against Winston. The biggest area of concern for the Hurricanes is the secondary, which ranks eighth in the ACC games against the pass. If there’s one area of vulnerability for Florida State, the rush defense could be it. The Seminoles struggled to contain Boston College running back Andre Williams, and NC State’s Shadrach Thornton rushed for 172 yards last week, although some of that yardage came with the starters out of the lineup. Miami needs a big day from running back Duke Johnson, which would allow the Hurricanes to shorten the game and keep Florida State’s offense on the sidelines. Johnson has to be the workhorse for Miami, but quarterback Stephen Morris also has to play better (six interceptions in three ACC games). The Seminoles have won four out of the last five in this series, with Miami’s last victory in Tallahassee coming in 2009.

2. North Carolina (-3.5) at NC State (12:30 ET, ACC Network)
Even though the combined record of these two teams is just 5-9, this is a huge game for bragging rights in North Carolina and for recruiting within the state for both teams. North Carolina won its first ACC game last week, handling Boston College in a 34-10 victory. The Wolfpack is 0-4 in conference play, but first-year coach Dave Doeren’s team has been shorthanded with quarterback Brandon Mitchell missing five games due to a foot injury. Mitchell returned last week against Florida State and completed 17 of 33 throws for 128 yards. The senior’s return should give the Wolfpack offense much-needed balance. Running back Shadrach Thornton is coming off a 100-yard performance against the Seminoles (173), and the sophomore will test a North Carolina defense that ranks last in the ACC against the run. The Tar Heels have one of the ACC’s top passing offenses (305.9 ypg), but balance has been an issue with a struggling rushing attack. Neither team holds an edge in turnover margin (tied for seventh in the conference), so this game could come down to which quarterback can make the most plays and avoid a costly mistake. This rivalry has been a one-sided affair in recent years. NC State has won five out of the last six, but the Tar Heels claimed a 43-35 victory last season.

3. Pittsburgh (+10) at Georgia Tech (7 ET, ESPNU)
After losing to Navy last week, Pittsburgh gets another dose of the option offense at Georgia Tech on Saturday. This is the first meeting between these two schools since 1976 and the first as ACC opponents. After losing three consecutive games, the Yellow Jackets have won their last two games by a combined score of 91-25. The rushing offense has led the way for coach Paul Johnson, recording 394 yards in each of Georgia Tech’s last two games. Pittsburgh’s defense should have a good idea of what to expect from the Yellow Jackets after playing Navy last week, and the Panthers did a respectable job against the Midshipmen (4.7 ypc). However, Georgia Tech’s offense is even tougher to defend and will challenge Pittsburgh’s front seven, including standout tackle Aaron Donald. The Yellow Jackets’ defense has improved under first-year coordinator Ted Roof, but the secondary ranks 10th in the ACC against the pass. If the Panthers can protect quarterback Tom Savage (24 sacks this year), opportunities for big plays for receivers Devin Street and Tyler Boyd should be available. Pittsburgh also needs running back James Conner to rebound, as the freshman has just 56 yards in his last three games.

4. Virginia Tech (-4.5) at Boston College (Noon ET, ESPN/ABC)
Virginia Tech’s trip to Chestnut Hill last season nearly cost the Hokies a chance to go to a bowl. Virginia Tech needed overtime to beat the 2-10 Eagles, and the Hokies are headed back to Alumni Stadium once again this year. While these two teams are meeting in the same stadium for the second consecutive season, much has changed since last year. Boston College has improved under first-year coach Steve Addazio and is in good shape to make a bowl game. Virginia Tech lost to Duke last Saturday but still has a chance to win the Coastal Division. This matchup is a battle of strength versus strength, as Boston College running back Andre Williams leads the ACC with an average of 144.3 yards per game. But the Hokies lead the ACC in rush defense, allowing just 2.6 yards per game. With running room expected to be limited, the Eagles need more from quarterback Chase Rettig. The senior threw for just 57 yards against North Carolina last week. Quarterback play for Virginia Tech is also under the spotlight, as Logan Thomas is coming of his worst performance in an ACC game this year. Thomas tossed four picks and completed just 55.3 percent of his passes against Duke. Virginia Tech doesn’t need Thomas to throw for 300 yards, but the senior has to be more efficient. Expect a low-scoring game, with turnovers and quarterback play the deciding factors.

5. Wake Forest (+3.5) at Syracuse (12:30 ET, RSN)
With just one month left in the regular season, every game for teams on the bowl bubble like Wake Forest and Syracuse grow in importance. The Demon Deacons started the year 1-2 but rebounded with wins in two out of their last three games and nearly upset Miami last Saturday. Quarterback Tanner Price and a revamped approach on offense have led the turnaround for the Demon Deacons. In his last three games, Price has thrown for 801 yards and six touchdowns, with just two interceptions on 120 attempts. The senior quarterback and receiver Michael Campanaro are one of the top pass-catch combinations in the ACC. Syracuse has struggled to stop the pass this season, ranking last in the ACC by allowing 242 yards per game. While the Demon Deacons want to throw to win, the Orange need to lean on their ground attack. Quarterback Terrel Hunt has completed only 25 of his last 58 passes and does not have a touchdown pass in ACC play. Behind running backs Jerome Smith and Prince Tyson-Gulley, Syracuse is averaging 253.3 rushing yards per game in conference action. Expect the Orange to challenge a Wake Forest defense that allowed 200 rushing yards to Miami last week.

6. Clemson (-17) at Virginia (3:30 ET, ESPN)
In a slight surprise, a matchup of a 7-1 team (Clemson) against a 2-6 squad (Virginia) doesn’t have the biggest point spread of the week. Regardless of the line, the Tigers shouldn’t have much trouble against Virginia. The Cavaliers have lost five in a row, and despite a few signs of life, the offense still ranks 10th in the ACC in passing and total yards per game. The problems for Virginia aren’t relegated to the offense, as the defense ranks 11th in the ACC (allowing 5.5 yards per play). Injuries have played a role in the defensive struggles, as tackle Brent Urban and cornerback Demetrious Nicholson have missed games due to injury. Urban and Nicholson are questionable for this week’s game. Clemson rebounded from its loss to Florida State with a 40-27 victory over Maryland last Saturday, and the Tigers should have the upper hand in this game. For Virginia to hang around, getting pressure on quarterback Tajh Boyd is a must. Clemson has allowed 21 sacks this year, so expect defensive coordinator Jon Tenuta to bring the pressure against Boyd. With the Cavaliers struggling on offense, an early 14-0 or 17-0 lead by the Tigers might be too much to overcome.

ACC Week 10 Pivotal Players

Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh
The Panthers weren’t terrible against the run in last week’s loss to Navy, holding the Midshipmen to 220 yards on 47 carries. The experienced gained by playing Navy and the option offense should pay off this week, as Pittsburgh travels to Atlanta to take on Georgia Tech. Donald is one of the top defensive tackles in the nation, and he’s been disruptive and tough to block all season. Stopping the option starts in the trenches. If the Panthers want to hold the Yellow Jackets’ ground game in check, Donald needs to dominate at the point of attack.

DreQuan Hoskey/Tim Harris, CB, Virginia
With Demetrious Nicholson questionable to play, Hoskey and Harris will be assigned the task of trying to slow down Clemson receiver Sammy Watkins. Hoskey has six starts under his belt, recording 22 tackles and three pass breakups this year. Harris, a true freshman, has three starts and 13 tackles to his credit. Stopping Watkins and quarterback Tajh Boyd will be a difficult task, and it's up to Hoskey and Harris to eliminate any big plays from the Clemson passing attack.

Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State
Florida State has one of the nation’s best offensive lines, but Miami isn’t too far behind. The Hurricanes have allowed only three sacks in ACC games, and Miami rushers are averaging 5.6 yards per carry. But the Florida State front seven is one of the best in the ACC, loaded with depth and talent at every position. Stopping the run has been an issue for the Seminoles at times this year, and the Hurricanes will likely lean on a heavy dose of running back Duke Johnson on Saturday night. Getting a good push from Jernigan would go a long ways to helping Florida State contain Miami’s ground game.

Stephen Morris, QB, Miami
Miami’s offense is averaging 32 points a game in conference play, but as strange as it sounds, the Hurricanes simply can’t afford to get into a high-scoring shootout with Florida State. Running back Duke Johnson should expect to see 25-30 carries, and quarterback Stephen Morris has to have his best game of the year if Miami is going to pull off the upset. Morris threw only seven picks in 2012 but has eight through seven games in 2013. The transition to new coordinator James Coley hasn’t been completely smooth for Morris, but the senior has also dealt with an ankle injury. Morris doesn’t need to throw for 300 yards on Saturday. However, against a Florida State secondary that is among the best in the nation, the senior’s margin for error is virtually non-existent.

Andre Williams, RB, Boston College
Even with Boston College’s passing offense struggling to get on track last week, Williams still managed 172 yards in a 34-10 loss against North Carolina. The senior leads the ACC with an average of 144.3 yards per game, but Virginia Tech’s defensive line will be the toughest Boston College has faced this year. The Hokies have allowed just five rushing scores and opponents are managing only 2.6 yards per carry. Virginia Tech’s interior line is deep with tackles Derrick Hopkins and Luther Maddy, while ends James Gayle and J.R. Collins have combined for eight sacks. In order for the Eagles to have a shot at winning on Saturday, Williams has to get over 100 yards.
 

ACC Week 10 Predictions

GameDavid FoxBraden GallSteven LassanMitch Light
Va. Tech at Boston CollegeVa. Tech 28-10Va. Tech 20-17Va. Tech 27-17Va. Tech 24-20
UNC at NC StateNC State 14-10UNC 24-17UNC 31-27UNC 27-20
Wake Forest at SyracuseSyracuse 21-17Syracuse 24-23Wake 27-24Wake 30-17
Clemson at VirginiaClemson 42-10Clemson 41-10Clemson 44-17Clemson 41-10
Pittsburgh at Ga. TechGa. Tech 35-24Ga. Tech 34-30Ga. Tech 34-27Ga. Tech 38-28
Miami at Florida StateFSU 51-21FSU 42-20FSU 45-20FSU 34-17
Final Record60-1560-1560-1562-13

 

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2013 ACC Week 10 Preview and Predictions
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For the second straight week, Ohio State and Minnesota took center stage with big conference wins. The Buckeyes proved once again they are the class of the league and the Gophers once again pulled an upset as a double-digit underdog.

That said, the last two weekends have been fairly lackluster in terms of matchups. That won’t be the case in Week 10. A critical Legends Division rivalry takes place in East Lansing. An embattled coach tries to keep his title hopes alive against a cornered Wildcat. And an old-school Big Ten rivalry gets renewed in Iowa City with more on the line than expected.

Week 10 Previews and Predictions: ACC | Big 12Pac-12 | SEC

Big Ten Week 10 Game Power Rankings:

1. Michigan (+5.5) at Michigan State (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC)
The Wolverines have never taken this game as seriously as the Spartans but Brady Hoke’s squad better be focused this weekend or his season could unravel quickly. Michigan State won four straight before Hoke broke through in this rivalry last season in an ugly 12-10 home victory. Michigan is not the same team on the road as it is at home, averaging nearly 500 yards of offense per game in the Big House (489.4 ypg) and just 339 yards per game away from home. Now Devin Gardner and company must face the nation’s top-rated defense (215.5 ypg). In fact, both teams are excellent against the run, as each rank in the top 10 nationally. So whichever quarterback can limit turnovers — something Gardner hasn’t been able to do this year — and stretch the field vertically will have a huge advantage in this critical Legends Division showdown.

2. Northwestern (+7) at Nebraska (3:30 p.m., BTN)
Pat Fitzgerald entered this season with eyes on a Big Ten title but is now looking at a tough road just to get to six wins and become bowl-eligible. Nebraska and embattled head coach Bo Pelini limp home to Lincoln after an extremely disappointing loss at Minnesota. This is a must-win for both coaching staffs in what has been entertaining games the last two seasons. The Big Red won in Evanston by one point last season but lost at home to the Wildcats by three two seasons ago. Taylor Martinez returned to the lineup last weekend but was clearly rusty as the offense posted a season-low 328 yards. Against a Northwestern defense that has been gashed by the running game (211.5 ypg allowed in Big Ten play), the Huskers should return to basics on offense. That means a heavy dose of Ameer Abdullah, Imani Cross and Terrell Newby. On the flip side, expect the same game plan from the Cats after watching the Gophers successfully pound the ball against the Black Shirts.

3. Wisconsin (-9.5) at Iowa (Noon, ABC)
One of the more underrated rivalry games in the Big Ten was forced off the schedule when the league split into divisions. The road team has won the last two meetings and Wisconsin has won two of the last three in Iowa City. This old-school, Midwestern bout will feature two power rushing attacks and two great linebacking corps. Gary Andersen deploys a nasty 1-2 punch in the backfield while Iowa boasts one of the best trios of tacklers in the nation. The game within the game between Kirk Ferentz' defensive front and UW’s rushing attack is the matchup to watch. Iowa must hold the line of scrimmage on defense to give itself a chance to win. Otherwise, the Badgers will roll their way to a third straight Big Ten win. More on the individual matchup in a minute.

4. Minnesota (+9) at Indiana (3:30 p.m., BTN)
This has quietly turned into a very intriguing matchup between a surging team without its head coach and an explosive offense starved for a postseason appearance. The Gophers used a power rushing attack to defeat the Huskers at home last weekend after their opportunistic defense defeated Northwestern on the road two weeks ago. A win over Indiana would shift expectations in the Twin Cities to a division crown and a win for the Hoosiers puts a bowl game within reach. All three wins this season for IU have come at home and the Hoosiers have had two weeks to prepare for a team that, shockingly, it has not faced since 2008.

5. Illinois (+10) at Penn State (Noon, ESPN)
The Nittany Lions are reeling on defense after allowing at least 40 points in three straight games for the first time in school history. The 408 yards rushing, 686 total yards and 63 points at the hands of Ohio State were a new low for the proud program. A winnable battle with a teetering Illinois team in the friendly confines of Beaver Stadium might be just what this program needs. Quarterback Christian Hackenberg must be better than he was last weekend, but against an Illini team that has allowed 297.7 yards rushing per game in Big Ten play, fans should expect a heavy dose of handoffs in what should be a bounce-back win for Penn State.

6. Ohio State (-31.5) at Purdue (Noon, BTN)
The best team in the Big Ten travels to take on the worst team in the league in what could be the most lopsided game this conference sees all season. West Lafayette has been a house of horrors for the Buckeyes of late, losing the last two and three of the last four in Ross-Ade Stadium, but there is nothing about these two teams that indicates this game will be anything but an ugly blowout.

Big Ten Week 10 Pivotal Players


Listen to Athlon Sports writers Braden Gall and David Fox discuss Bo Pelini's future and the big Michigan-Michigan State game in this week's Athlon Sports Cover 2 Podcast.
1. Connor Cook, QB, Michigan State
The Spartans are great on defense and can run the football like most Mark Dantonio teams. But this team can be a Big Ten title contender when Connor Cook is efficient and productive. He completed 15 of 16 passes last week against Illinois and has led Michigan State to more than 30 points per game in Big Ten play. The Wolverines are solid against the run so it will fall to Cook to make plays more so than usual. This is his first meeting against Michigan.

2. Devin Gardner, QB, Michigan
It is cliché to point to quarterback play as the deciding factor in any game but this in-state battle hinges on both signal-callers. Cook is asked to be more of a game manager while Gardner is asked to do pretty much everything. He is the Big Ten leader in total offense (328.4 ypg) by a wide margin over Braxton Miller (247.7) but he also has turned the ball over 14 times — a Big Ten-leading 10 interceptions and four lost fumbles. If Gardner plays well against the nation’s best defense, Michigan can win. If he turns the ball over, they have no chance.

3. Randy Gregory and Avery Moss, DE, Nebraska
Gregory is fourth on the team in tackles (31.0) and is leading the Huskers in tackles for a loss (7.5) and sacks (3.5). Moss, the freshman, is No. 2 on the team in sacks (2.5) and tackles for a loss (4.5). The Northwestern offense puts a lot of pressure on strong edge play and this defense needs to be more physical after the Gophers ran it right down Big Red's throat last weekend.  

4. Iowa’s linebackers
There is no secret to Wisconsin’s offensive attack, be it Barry Alvarez, Bret Bielema or Gary Andersen calling plays. Melvin Gordon is a special player with rare size, power and explosiveness while James White is as steady as it gets with the ball in his hands. Anthony Hitchens, James Morris and Christian Kirksey are as good a trio at linebacker as there is in the nation. It falls to this group to hold the Badgers' power running game in check and force UW to use the pass to beat them.

5. Philip Nelson and Mitch Leidner, QB, Minnesota
Nelson has returned to the starting lineup in strong fashion. He completed over 70 percent of his passes against Northwestern, scored three total touchdowns against Nebraksa and didn’t throw an interception in either game. But backup Leidner hasn’t been eliminated from the game plan, scoring his sixth rushing touchdown last week. He has attempted 18 passes and carried the ball 11 times in those two games and both will likely be needed to play well to earn a win on the road against a porous Indiana defense. 

Big Ten Week 10 Prediction Grid:

GameBraden GallMitch LightSteven LassanDavid Fox
Michigan (+5.5) at Michigan StMich. St, 24-21Mich. St, 24-14Mich. St, 27-24Mich. St, 24-17
Northwestern (+7) at NebraskaNebraska, 38-31Nebraska, 34-21Nebraska, 34-31Nebraska, 35-28
Wisconsin (-9.5) at IowaWisconsin, 35-21 Wisconsin, 31-17Wisconsin, 31-20Wisconsin, 38-17
Minnesota (+9) at IndianaMinn., 34-31Indiana, 30-27Indiana, 38-34Minn., 31-24
Illinois (+10) at Penn StPenn St, 34-17Penn St, 21-20Penn St, 38-24Penn St, 41-28
Ohio St (-31.5) at PurdueOhio St, 51-13Ohio St, 51-10Ohio St, 52-10Ohio St, 52-10
Last Week:2-23-13-13-1
Year-to-date:57-1159-960-857-11

 

Teaser:
2013 Big Ten Week 10 Preview and Predictions
Post date: Thursday, October 31, 2013 - 07:15
Path: /college-football/sec-week-10-previews-and-predictions-2013
Body:

The Week 10 SEC slate is highlighted by the annual Florida-Georgia showdown in Jacksonville. Both teams have struggled in recent weeks — due in large part to injuries — but this game is still very important to both programs.

Week 10 Previews and Predictions: ACC | Big 12 | Big Ten Pac-12

SEC Week 10 Game Power Rankings

1. Florida (+2.5) vs. Georgia (3:30 ET, CBS)
As poorly as both of these teams have played in the past month, they both still have a shot at the SEC East title — thanks in large part to South Carolina’s comeback win over Missouri last weekend. A lot of things have to happen — most notably, both teams need to start playing better — but it’s possible that either Georgia or Florida could earn a trip to Atlanta with a 6–2 record in the league. Georgia, right now, seems like the candidate more likely to rebound. The Bulldogs are getting healthier — All-America tailback Todd Gurley should be back this week — and are much better at the quarterback position. Florida’s strength (its defense) was exposed in its last game, giving up 500 yards to Missouri, with a backup quarterback making his first start, in a 36–17 loss. Florida has no chance to finish strong unless its defense returns to form.

2. Tennessee (+11) at Missouri (7:00 ET, ESPN)
When you factor in the way the game was lost and what was at stake, no team in the nation has suffered a more painful loss than what Missouri had to deal with on Saturday night. Now, the Tigers must regroup to play a Tennessee team that is good enough to make them sweat. The Vols were manhandled last weekend in Tuscaloosa but beat South Carolina — the same team that defeated Missouri — the week before. Tennessee, however, will be starting a true freshman (Josh Dobbs) at quarterback. Dobbs was pressed into action at Alabama in the second half due to an injury to starter Justin Worley. Dobbs completed 5-of-12 passes for 75 yards and added 19 yards on the ground. Missouri’s defense isn’t quite as formidable as Alabama’s, but the Tigers are very good on the defensive line and feature one of the league’s top cornerbacks in E.J. Gaines. This will be a tough test for the young quarterback.

3. Auburn (-9) at Arkansas (6:00 ET, ESPN2)
How quickly things change in a year. Last October, Auburn — en route to an 0-8 SEC record — managed only 321 yards of offense in a 24–7 loss at home to an Arkansas team that only won one other SEC game. Now, the Tigers are 7-1 overall (3-1 in the SEC) and favored by nine points on the road at Arkansas. The offense, which ranked last in the SEC in 2012 with 305.0 yards per game, now ranks second (511.0 ypg) behind only Texas A&M. Starting quarterback Nick Marshall has been dealing with a shoulder injury and could be a game-time decision, according to coach Gus Malzahn. If he’s unable to play, the Tigers will turn to true freshman Jeremy Johnson. Things are not going well at Arkansas, where Bret Bielema’s first Razorback team has lost five straight games — the last two by a combined score of 104-7. The Hogs have some quality talent at running back and on the defensive line but are lacking top-flight SEC talent elsewhere.

4. Mississippi State (+13) at South Carolina (12:21 ET, SEC TV)
By virtue of its comeback win at Missouri last weekend, South Carolina is now in great position to represent the East Division in the SEC Championship Game. The Gamecocks, who now own the tie-breaker with Mizzou, close their league slate with home games against Mississippi State and Florida. Win those two, and Carolina likely will be playing in Atlanta. Mississippi State, on the other hand, is desperate for a quality win — something the program hasn’t had since beating Wake Forest in the 2011 Music City Bowl (and that’s a stretch). The Bulldogs are 4-3 overall, with wins over Alcorn State, Troy, Bowling Green and Kentucky — the last two by a combined seven points.

5. UTEP (+45.5) at Texas A&M (9:00 ET,  ESPN)
The only thing intriguing about this game was going to be the return of Jameill Showers to College Station. At one point, Showers was listed ahead of Johnny Manziel on the Aggies’ depth chart. Now, he is the starting quarterback at UTEP, where he has thrown for 1,263 yards and 11 touchdowns in six-plus games. Showers will not, however, be in the lineup this week due to a shoulder injury. So now, there’s really nothing that interesting about this game. Texas A&M will score a lot of points, and the Miners, who are 1-6, will not.

6. Alabama State at Kentucky (7:30 ET, CSS)
Kentucky is searching for win No. 2 on Saturday night. The Wildcats should get it without too much trouble, but it is worth noting that Alabama State is 6-2 and has won six straight games. The Hornets are led by tailback Isaiah Crowell, a former Georgia Bulldog who has rushed for 814 yards in seven games. Kentucky hopes to have sophomore Jalen Whitlow, who has been slowed by an ankle injury, back in the lineup at quarterback. If he is unable to play, it appears that true freshman Reese Phillips — not Maxwell Smith or Patrick Towles (a 4-star recruit) — will be pressed into duty.

5 Pivotal Players

Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia
The Bulldogs expect to have their All-American back in the lineup after missing three games with a high ankle sprain. J.J. Green and Brendan Douglas did a nice job in relief, but Gurley is a true difference-maker who, when healthy, is one of the top two or three running backs in the nation. He will be running against a Florida defense that hasn’t been nearly as formidable since defensive tackle Dominique Easley went down with a season-ending injury. In the last three games, all without Easley, Florida has allowed 163.7 rushing yards per game and 4.7 yards per carry.

Florida secondary
The Florida run defense has taken a step back in recent weeks — see above — but the secondary was the biggest issue in the Gators’ 36-17 loss to Missouri two weeks ago. After having allowed no more than 165 yards in any of its previous six games, Florida gave up 295 yards on only 18 completions to a redshirt freshman making his first start. The Gators’ pass defense — led by the league’s best collection of cornerbacks — will need to be more effective against Georgia on Saturday.

Josh Dobbs, QB, Tennessee
The true freshman from Georgia will make his first start on Saturday night at Missouri. Dobbs, who originally committed to Arizona State, was hand-picked by the new staff after its arrival in Knoxville last December. He is one of three freshman quarterbacks on the roster — two true and one redshirt — but most around the program believe Dobbs is the best fit for the offense. He’ll have an opportunity to display his skills in prime time on Saturday night.

Alex Collins, RB, Arkansas
At first glance, it appears that Collins, one of the top running backs in the Class of 2013, has struggled against SEC competition. After all, he is averaging 120.3 yards per game in the Hogs’ four non-conference games and 79.0 yards in their four SEC games. But the dip in production is a product of fewer opportunities — he is averaging 13.8 carries against SEC teams and 21.5 against all others. In fact, Collins’ per-carry numbers are better in league games (5.8) than non-conference games (5.6). The Razorbacks need to establish the running game Saturday against Auburn and make sure their star freshman is a big part of the offense.

Jameon Lewis, WR, Mississippi State
The Bulldogs will need some big plays from their top weapons to pull off the upset at South Carolina Saturday. Last week, Lewis, a junior wideout, scored on a 19-yard carry in the first quarter, a 17-yard reception in the second and tossed a 17-yard touchdown pass to quarterback Dak Prescott in the third. Now, it’s not likely that Lewis will duplicate this rare feet against South Carolina, but the Bulldogs will look to their top wide receiver (30 catches for 446 yards) to play a key role against a very good South Carolina defense.

 David FoxBraden GallSteven LassanMitch Light

Miss. St. (+13) at S. Carolina

S. Carolina 31-13S. Carolina 31-17S. Carolina 34-20S. Carolina 27-13

Florida (+2.5) vs. Georgia

Georgia 28-10
Georgia 28-24Georgia 24-20Georgia 27-20

Auburn (-9) at Arkansas

Auburn 24-10
Auburn 42-14Auburn 38-20Auburn 31-17

Tennessee (+11) at Missouri

Missouri 21-17Missouri 34-20Missouri 31-20Missouri 28-20

Alabama State at Kentucky

Kentucky 24-10Kentucky 33-20Kentucky 48-17Kentucky 31-10

UTEP (+45.5) at Texas A&M

Texas A&M 52-21Texas A&M 51-20Texas A&M 62-14Texas A&M 58-7
Last Week6-17-07-06-1
Season64-1363-1464-1361-16

 

Teaser:
SEC 2013 Week 10 Preview and Predictions
Post date: Thursday, October 31, 2013 - 07:15
Path: /college-football/2013-pac-12-week-10-preview-and-predictions
Body:

All things have fallen into place for the powers that be in the Pac-12. Oregon and Stanford have reached the “rematch” — but that won’t take place until next Thursday. Both the Ducks and Cardinal, as well as Utah and Washington, will be on bye this weekend with extra time to prepare for whatever may await in Week 11.

With those four quality teams not playing this weekend, the Pac-12 slate isn’t the juiciest fans have seen this season. That said, Larry Scott and company did an excellent job spreading the games out this weekend for viewers. Fans get three straight nights of Pac-12 football.

Week 10 Previews and Predictions: ACC | Big 12 | Big Ten | SEC

Pac-12 Week 10 Game Power Rankings

1. USC (+5) at Oregon State (Fri., 9 p.m. ET, ESPN2)
The Trojans continue to battle with less than 50 scholarship players and no permanent head coach. Interim leader Ed Orgeron used a tremendous defensive effort to top Utah at home last week, but his roster is on life support as injuries continue to ravage the depth chart. Oregon State is coming off its worst performance of the season after allowing eight sacks to Stanford and posting a season-low 288 yards of offense. USC’s starting 22, when healthy, is dramatically more talented than the Beavers' starters, but with a rash of injuries and little depth, Oregon State’s potent offensive attack will stretch the Trojans defense to the limit. Mike Riley has been a thorn in the Trojans’ side for years, winning three straight at home and four of the last five in Corvallis — even against the mighty Trojans of 2000, '06, '08 and '10.

2. Arizona State (-11.5) at Washington State (Thurs., 10:30 p.m., ESPN)
The Sun Devils have to be buoyed by UCLA’s two-game losing streak but will be on upset alert in Pullman this weekend. Arizona State now leads the Pac-12 South but has to prove it can win away from Tempe, something it hasn’t done yet this season (0-2). Todd Graham’s squad has won two straight by scoring at least 53 points in both games with over 1,100 yards of offense. Conversely, Washington State has lost two straight and has allowed 114 points in the process. Both teams had an extra weekend to prepare for the Thursday night tilt and there is plenty on the line for both. The Cougars need to split in their final four to make a bowl game and ASU has eyes on a division title. If the Sun Devils can disrupt the line of scrimmage like it did against Washington (7.0 sacks, 12.0 TFL), then they should return to the desert with The Evergreen State sweep.

3. Arizona (-16) at Cal (3:30 p.m., Pac-12 Network)
The Sonny Dykes era began with big offensive fireworks. The Bears topped 500 yards of offense in four of the first five games and scored at least 30 points in each of the first three. However, quarterback Jared Goff has struggled mightily of late, as the offense has failed to score more than 17 in four of the last five. Meanwhile, behind the dynamic backfield duo of B.J. Denker and Ka’Deem Carey, 'Zona has won two straight in the league and finds itself in a cloudy Pac-12 race. Carey is leading the nation in rushing (153.3 ypg) and Denker is leading all Pac-12 quarterbacks in the same category (74.1 ypg). Against the nation’s 123rd-rated defense (540.0 ypg), Rich Rodriguez’ spread should have a field day.

4. Colorado (+27) at UCLA (7:30 p.m., FS1)
The Bruins learned what the Washington Huskies had learned a few weeks earlier. Stanford and Oregon are really good. The difference between the two, however, is UW had to play on the road against Arizona State following its two losses while UCLA gets a home game against the Buffaloes. While the Buffs are improving under Mike MacIntrye, they aren’t capable of scoring with Brett Hundley — who is dealing with his own off-the-field issues. Jim Mora’s offense has been totally shut down the last two weeks, so look for the Bruins to stretch their legs this Saturday at home against Colorado.

Pac-12 Week 10 Pivotal Players:


Listen to Athlon Sports writers Braden Gall and David Fox talk about Oregon's move in the BCS, Stanford's defense and the Pac-12 South race in this week's Athlon Sports Cover 2 Podcast.
 1. USC's secondary
Like every other position on the field, the Trojans' secondary is seriously talented. Josh Shaw, Su’a Cravens, Dion Bailey and Demetrius Wright are as gifted a starting group as there is in the nation. But they have dealt with nagging injuries and will be faced with stopping the nation’s No. 1 QB-WR duo in Sean Mannion and Brandin Cooks. On the road, this group will decide the Trojans' fate this weekend.

2. Oregon State’s offensive line
On the flip side, Beavers quarterback Sean Mannion needs to be resilient in the face of another quality Pac-12 defense and he needs to get some help from his front line. After getting battered around by Stanford to the tune of eight sacks, the Beavers' offensive line needs to prove it can give Mannion a pocket and time to throw. Getting a running game that has watched its rushing totals drop from 120 yards four weeks ago to 17 last weekend would certainly help.

3. Osahon Irabor, CB, Arizona State
The top coverman and playmaker in the Sun Devils secondary will be faced with slowing down the Mike Leach Air Raid offense this weekend. He is the team’s No. 4 tackler (28.0) and will be used in blitz packages from time to time. Defensively, this team hasn’t played well away from Tempe and it falls to Irabor and the rest of the secondary to bend but not break this weekend against Wazzu’s No. 6-rated passing attack.

4. Connor Halliday, QB, Washington State
When Halliday throws more touchdowns than interceptions, the Cougars are 3-0 in 2013. Unfortunately, the Washington State signal-caller has been too turnover-prone of late. He has seven INTs in his last two games and Arizona State is too good to beat if he continues to turn the ball over. This has upset alert written all over it but Halliday must protect the ball if Wazzu is gonna have any chance to win.

5. B.J. Denker, QB, Arizona
If the Wildcats quarterback plays the way he has the last three games, Arizona won’t have any issue rolling past lowly Cal. He has averaged 345.0 yards of total offense per game and has led the zone-read attack to two straight victories. With an outside shot at a Pac-12 South division title, Denker must avoid a letdown in Berkeley.

Pac-12 Week 10 Predictions:

GameBraden GallMitch LightSteven LassanDavid Fox
USC (+5) at Oregon StOre. St, 27-20Ore. St, 27-17 Ore. St, 31-24Ore. St, 31-24
Arizona St (-11.5) at WazzuAriz. St, 41-34Ariz. St, 41-14 Ariz. St, 45-30Ariz. St, 42-24
Arizona (-16) at CalArizona, 38-24Arizona, 48-13Arizona, 45-24Arizona, 31-13
Colorado (+27) at UCLAUCLA, 42-17UCLA, 41-7UCLA, 48-17UCLA, 38-14
Last Week: 5-04-14-14-1
Year-to-date:58-1256-1460-1055-15

 

Teaser:
2013 Pac-12 Week 10 Preview and Predictions
Post date: Thursday, October 31, 2013 - 07:14
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy football rankings, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2013-positional-rankings-week-9
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Congratulations, you survived last week, win or lose, when six teams were on bye. Just don't get too comfortable, however, because you get to do it all over again this week. And with the likes of Arizona, Denver, Detroit, Jacksonville, the New York Giants and San Francisco on bye in Week 9, a case could be made that this week will be even tougher than last week. Especially when it comes to the wide receiver position.

Speaking of wide receivers, Week 8 belonged to one man, Calvin Johnson. Already the NFL record-holder for receiving yards in a single season, Megatron came eight yards shy of claiming the single-game record after piling up 329 on a career-high 14 catches in Detroit's wild comeback win over Dallas. Instead, Johnson will have to settle for the record in a non-overtime game, as Flipper Anderson's mark of 336 yards from 1989 will remain No. 1, for now. Johnson's fantasy owners also got a nice consolation gift in the 44.9 fantasy points (Athlon scoring) he provided. Those who went up against Megatron probably weren't as fortunate. Johnson's encore will have to wait a week, however, as he and the Lions are on bye.

Johnson wasn't the only who paid big dividends for fantasy teams last week, as Cincinnati's Marvin Jones caught a franchise-record four touchdowns and Andy Dalton torched the Jets for five scoring strikes overall. Drew Brees matched Dalton's five touchdowns and although Peyton Manning had four turnovers (3 INTs, 1 fumble) he also threw four more touchdown passes in the Broncos' come-from-behind home win over the Redskins. Manning finally gets a much-needed break this week, while Dalton will be in Miami on Thursday night and Brees goes to the Big Apple to face the Jets.

Each week during the NFL season, we will rank enough players at each position to appease everyone from those in 8-team leagues to 16-team leagues, those that can start two QBs, two TEs, three RBs and four WRs. We cut out the rest, because if you're looking at who the 50th-best running back or the 17th-best kicker is for that week, you need more help than any website can give you.

2013 NFL Week 9 Fantasy Football Positional Rankings

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Defense/Special Teams

Kickers

Week 9 Waiver Wire

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

OFFENSIVE SCORING
All touchdowns are 6 points
1 point for 25 yards passing
1 point for 10 yards rushing/receiving
Receptions are .5 points
Interceptions/fumbles are minus-2 points

DEFENSIVE SCORING
0 points allowed = 12 points
1-6 points allowed = 10 points
7-13 points allowed = 8 pts
14-20 points allowed = 6 points
21-27 points allowed = 2 pts
28+ points allowed = 0 points
Safeties = 2 points
Fumbles recovered = 2 points
Interceptions = 2 points
Sacks = 1 point
Defensive/Special Teams TDs = 6 points

KICKER SCORING
PATs = 1 point
39 yards and under = 3 points
40-49 yards = 4 points
50-59 yards = 5 points
60+ yards = 6 points

Teaser:
Fantasy Football 2013 Positional Rankings: Week 9
Post date: Thursday, October 31, 2013 - 06:30
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy football rankings, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2013-quarterback-rankings-week-9
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Andy Dalton is not No. 1 on Athlon Sports' fantasy football Week 9 quarterback rankings, but he's all alone when it comes to production over the past three weeks. Dalton has 1,034 yards passing, 11 touchdowns and just two interceptions in his last three games combined, all Cincinnati wins, making him fantasy's top scorer during that span. He's a top-10 option this week, as the Bengals go to Miami to face a Dolphins defense that ranks in the middle of the pack against the pass.

With Peyton Manning getting a well-deserved break, this week's top quarterback is Drew Brees. The Saints' signal-caller actually outscored Dalton in Week 8, as both tossed five touchdown passes. The difference between the two was that Brees edged Dalton in yards passing (332 to 325) and didn't turn the ball over. This Sunday Brees will get his shot at the same New York Jets pass defense that Dalton victimized last week.

With both Mannings Matthew Stafford and Colin Kaepernick all on bye, quarterback depth could be more of a factor this week. Some good news on that front is the return of Nick Foles, who sustained a concussion two weeks ago and didn't play last Sunday. Foles threw for 296 yards and three scores in his only start thus far, so he could work his way into the 2-QB league/matchup play discussion if he can re-ignite an Eagles offense that has stalled in recent weeks.

Each week during the NFL season, we will rank enough players at each position to appease everyone from those in 8-team leagues to 16-team leagues, those that can start two QBs, two TEs, three RBs and four WRs. We cut out the rest, because if you're looking at who the 50th-best running back or the 17th-best kicker is for that week, you need more help than any website can give you.

2013 NFL Week 9 Fantasy Football Rankings — Quarterbacks
Teams on bye:
Arizona, Denver, Detroit, Jacksonville, New York Giants, San Francisco

RkPlayerTeamOPPNotes
1Drew BreesNOat NYJJets got torched by Andy Dalton (325-5-1-) last week.
2Aaron RodgersGBvs. CHI (Mon.)Had 4 TDs, 1 INT in 2 wins over Bears last season.
3Cam NewtonCARvs. ATLHas 8 total touchdowns, 0 TOs in last 3 games.
4Tony RomoDALvs. MINHad just 206 yards last week, but 3 TD passes.
5Philip RiversSDat WASRedskins have allowed 3 QBs to pass for 350+ yards.
6Russell WilsonSEAvs. TBSeahawks' O-line must do better job protecting Wilson.
7Andrew LuckINDat HOUTexans No. 1 in NFL in passing defense.
8Matt RyanATLat CARNeeded 61 pass attempts to get 301 yards, TD last week.
9Robert Griffin IIIWASvs. SDBroncos knocked RG3 around pretty good last week.
10Andy DaltonCINat MIA (Thurs.)Has thrown 11 touchdowns, 2 INTs in last 3 games.
11Terrelle PryorOAKvs. PHIPryor posted second 100-yard rushing game last week.
12Tom BradyNEvs. PITBrady has 1 300-yard game, PIT is No. 2 vs. pass.
13Alex SmithKCat BUFBills have allowed league-high 20 TD passes.
14Ben RoethlisbergerPITat NEPatriots have at least one INT in every game but one.
15Nick FolesPHIat OAKWill make his first start since sustaining concussion.
16Joe FlaccoBALat CLEDid Flacco/Ravens "fix" passing game during bye?
17Jake LockerTENat STLRams sacked Russell Wilson 7 times on MNF.
18Ryan TannehillMIAvs. CIN (Thurs.)Has 6 TOs (4 INTs, 2 fumbles) in last 2 games.
19Josh McCownCHIat GB (Mon.)Put up 204-1-0 in relief of Cutler in Bears' last game.
20Geno SmithNYJvs. NORoad woes continue: 2 pick-sixes vs. CIN last week.
21Case KeenumHOUvs. INDKeenum gets 2nd start in place of Schaub.
22Jason CampbellCLEvs. BALHeld up nicely (293-2-0) vs. Chiefs in Browns debut.
23Josh FreemanMINat DALShould as long as he's healthy/cleared (concussion).
24Mike GlennonTBat SEASeahawks tied for league lead with 13 INTs.
25Thad LewisBUFvs. KCChiefs have given up 8 TD passes compared to 10 INTs.
26Kellen ClemensSTLvs. TENGutsy (158-0-2) effort in close loss to SEA on MNF.

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

OFFENSIVE SCORING
All touchdowns are 6 points
1 point for 25 yards passing
1 point for 10 yards rushing/receiving
Receptions are .5 points
Interceptions/fumbles are minus-2 points

Additional Week 9 Positional Rankings

Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Defense/Special Teams

Kickers

Week 9 Waiver Wire

Teaser:
Fantasy Football 2013 Quarterback Rankings: Week 9
Post date: Thursday, October 31, 2013 - 06:30
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy football rankings, NFL, Fantasy, News
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Ryan Mathews is not No. 1 on Athlon Sports' fantasy football Week 9 running back rankings, but he is in the top 10 for the first time in quite a while. Mathews has posted back-to-back 100-yard games for the first time since 2011 and could make it three in a row this Sunday against Washington's 30th-ranked rushing defense. Maybe, just maybe, Mathews is finally ready to live up to all the hype and promise that surrounded him when the Chargers took him with the 10th overall pick of the 2010 draft as the heir apparent to LaDainian Tomlinson. Those who have stuck with Mathews this long can only hope.

Meanwhile, Jamaal Charles remains No. 1 in the running back rankings, as he leads the NFL in yards from scrimmage with 1,018. Charles has been dealing with his own bumps and bruises, including a sore knee that limited him in practice this week, but he should be ready to face a Buffalo defense that is allowing nearly 118 yards rushing per game.

In fact, with six teams on bye, health situations like Charles' play an even more important role this week. That is why particular attention needs to be paid to players like Charles, as well as Arian Foster (dealing with a hamstring injury, watch closely) DeMarco Murray (may return this week), Zac Stacy (rolled his ankle late on Monday night), DeAngelo Williams (hurt his quadriceps last Thursday vs. Tampa Bay), C.J. Spiller (missed last week because of high ankle sprain) and even Ben Tate (dealing with cracked ribs). This week is not one you want to take a chance on starting a running back that may not end up playing.

Each week during the NFL season, we will rank enough players at each position to appease everyone from those in 8-team leagues to 16-team leagues, those that can start two QBs, two TEs, three RBs and four WRs. We cut out the rest, because if you're looking at who the 50th-best running back or the 17th-best kicker is for that week, you need more help than any website can give you.

2013 NFL Week 9 Fantasy Football Rankings — Running Back
Teams on bye: Arizona, Denver, Detroit, Jacksonville, New York Giants, San Francisco

RkPlayerTeamOPPNotes
1Jamaal CharlesKCat BUFLeads NFL in yards from scrimmage (1,018).
2Adrian PetersonMINat DALHas 62 yards rushing or fewer in each of last 3 G.
3Matt ForteCHIat GB (Mon.)No 100-yard rushing games yet, but 8th in NFL.
4Marshawn LynchSEAvs. TBSeason-low 8 carries and 23 yards vs. Rams.
5Eddie LacyGBvs. CHI (Mon.)Averaging 99 yards rushing over last four games.
6LeSean McCoyPHIat OAKAveraging 3.1 ypc over last 2 G, 5.1 in first 6.
7Alfred MorrisWASvs. SDAveraging 5.2 ypc, but only getting 15.4 att/game.
8Arian FosterHOUvs. INDDealing with a hamstring injury, monitor closely.
9DeMarco MurrayDALvs. MINVery appealing matchup for his hopeful return.
10Ryan MathewsSDat WASHas posted back-to-back 100-yard games.
11Ray RiceBALat CLESeason-best is 74 yards rushing, averaging 2.8 ypc.
12Le'Veon BellPITat NEJust 24 yards on 13 att. vs. OAK, but did score.
13Darren McFaddenOAKvs. PHIHad 73 yards, 2 TDs in first game after bye.
14Fred JacksonBUFvs. KCKnee issue is keeping his workload down.
15Stevan RidleyNEvs. PITHad 79 yards, TD despite not playing in 1st quarter.
16Chris JohnsonTENat STLHis longest run this season has been 23 yards.
17Zac StacySTLvs. TENHuge game (134 yds.) on MNF, but rolled ankle late.
18DeAngelo WilliamsCARvs. ATLHurt quadriceps last week, but should be OK.
19Giovani BernardCINat MIA (Thurs.)Dolphins allowing second-most rec. yds to RBs.
20Trent RichardsonINDat HOUCan T-Rich get going vs. Texans (28th vs. rush)?
21Lamar MillerMIAvs. CIN (Thurs.)Basically splitting carries with Thomas right now.
22Danny WoodheadSDat WASRedskins giving up most fantasy points to RBs.
23Darren SprolesNOat NYJFinished with 0 yards (4 rec.) vs. Saints.
24Pierre ThomasNOat NYJJets No. 1 against rush (77.9 ypg).
25Steven JacksonATLat CARGrounded (11 att., 6 yds.) in return from injury.
26BenJarvus Green-EllisCINat MIA (Thurs.)Miami giving up fourth-most fantasy pts. to RBs.
27C.J. SpillerBUFvs. KCHeld out last week b/c of high ankle sprain.
28Mike JamesTBat SEAYards could be tough to come by in Seattle.
29Bilal PowellNYJvs. NOTops in team with 10 carries (also 4 rec.) last week.
30Mike TolbertCARvs. ATLFalcons have allowed just 3 rushing TDs.
31Ben TateHOUvs. INDDealing with cracked ribs, but hopeful to play.
32Chris IvoryNYJvs. NOWent from 34 carries in Week 7 to 6 last week.
33James StarksGBvs. CHI (Mon.)Picked up 57 yards, TD in return from knee injury.
34Brandon BoldenNEvs. PITContinues to see 8-10 touches, has TD in 2 straight.
35Jacquizz RodgersATLat CARGot just 4 touches in SJax' return.
36Roy HeluWASvs. SDGot just 6 touches last week, after 10+ in last 3 G.
37Willis McGaheeCLEvs. BALRavens have yielded one rushing TD.
38Daniel ThomasMIAvs. CIN (Thurs.)Making most of opportunities recently.
39Donald BrownINDat HOUGot season-high 11 carries, 14 touches in last game.
40Joseph RandleDALvs. MINVikings giving up second-most fantasy pts. to RBs.
41Daryl RichardsonSTLvs. TENTeamed w/ Stacy for effective 1-2 punch on MNF.
42Tashard ChoiceBUFvs. KCWill be a factor as long as Spiller is sidelined.
43LeGarrette BlountNEvs. PIT11 carries vs. MIA was third game w/ 10 or more.
44Shonn GreeneTENat STLNow healthy, could eat into Johnson's workload.
45Lance DunbarDALvs. MIN 
46Marcel ReeceOAKvs. PHIGot 3 carries, but no targets last week vs. Steelers.
47Robert TurbinSEA  
48Deiji KarimHOUvs. INDAdded to roster this week b/c of injury concerns.

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

OFFENSIVE SCORING
All touchdowns are 6 points
1 point for 25 yards passing
1 point for 10 yards rushing/receiving
Receptions are .5 points
Interceptions/fumbles are minus-2 points

Additional Week 9 Positional Rankings

Quarterbacks
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Defense/Special Teams

Kickers

Week 9 Waiver Wire

Teaser:
Fantasy Football 2013 Running Back Rankings: Week 9
Post date: Thursday, October 31, 2013 - 06:30
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy football rankings, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2013-tight-end-rankings-week-9
Body:

Even though he is dealing with plantar fasciitis, Jimmy Graham maintains his hold on the top spot on Athlon Sports' fantasy football Week 9 tight end rankings. After all, that's what happens when you are "limited" and still haul in two touchdowns. While Graham and other young tight ends like Jordan Cameron, Julius Thomas and more recently, Jordan Reed, have been putting up solid numbers, there are still some veterans out there making noise.

For example, Antonio Gates is 33 years old and in his 11th season with San Diego, but you couldn't tell by looking at his numbers. Gates is well on his way to his best statistical production in several years, as after just seven games he's already close to surpassing his catch and yardage totals from 2012. Right now, Gates is on pace for 96 receptions and 1,136 yards. The catches would represent a career-best while the yards would rank second behind the 1,157 he compiled during his 2009 All-Pro campaign. The only complaint Gates owners can make at this point is he has caught just two touchdown passes, but that could change Sunday in Washington. The Redskins are tied for 27th in passing defense and have already yielded six touchdown receptions to opposing tight ends.

Each week during the NFL season, we will rank enough players at each position to appease everyone from those in 8-team leagues to 16-team leagues, those that can start two QBs, two TEs, three RBs and four WRs. We cut out the rest, because if you're looking at who the 50th-best running back or the 17th-best kicker is for that week, you need more help than any website can give you.

2013 NFL Week 9 Fantasy Football Rankings — Tight Ends
Teams on bye: Arizona, Denver, Detroit, Jacksonville, New York Giants, San Francisco

RkPlayerTeamOPPNotes
1Jimmy GrahamNOat NYJStill had 2 TDs despite being "limited" by foot issue.
2Jordan CameronCLEvs. BALCaught 5 passes for 95 yards in Week 2 vs. BAL.
3Rob GronkowskiNEvs. PITGronk held in check (2 rec., 27 yds.) by 'Fins.
4Antonio GatesSDat WASRedskins have allowed six touchdown catches to TEs.
5Jordan ReedWASvs. SDLed Redskins w/ 8 catches for 90 yards last week.
6Tony GonzalezATLat CARHasn't had much impact w/ Julio and Roddy out.
7Jason WittenDALvs. MINVikings have given up 6 TD catches to TEs.
8Martellus BennettCHIat GB (Mon.)Caught one pass for TD in last game.
9Greg OlsenCARvs. ATLHauled in first TD pass since Week 2 vs. Bucs.
10Charles ClayMIAvs. CIN (Thurs.)Held w/o TD last week for first time in 4 games.
11Kyle RudolphMINat DALCowboys allowing second-most fantasy pts. to TEs.
12Coby FleenerINDat HOUWill his role expand w/ Reggie Wayne out for season?
13Heath MillerPITat NEHas been under 20 yards in each of last 2 games.
14Garrett GrahamHOUvs. INDColts have surrendered just one TD catch to a TE.
15Jared CookSTLvs. TENWould love to have big game against former team.
16Jermaine GreshamCINat MIA (Thurs.)Caught first TD of season last week.
17Timothy WrightTBat SEACaught first career TD pass last week.
18Scott ChandlerBUFvs. KCChiefs have allowed fewest fantasy pts. to TEs.
19Jeff CumberlandNYJvs. NOSustained mild concussion last week.
20Dallas ClarkBALat CLERavens looking for more from passing game,
21Delanie WalkerTENat STLRams been pretty good against opposing TEs.
22Tyler EifertCINat MIA (Thurs.)Timeshare w/ Gresham limiting opportunities.
23Zach MillerSEAvs. TB 
24Anthony FasanoKCat BUF 
25Brent CelekPHIat OAKEagles have too many TEs to trust any one.
26Andrew QuarlessGBvs. CHI (Mon.)Saw just 2 targets in first game as starter last week.

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

OFFENSIVE SCORING
All touchdowns are 6 points
1 point for 25 yards passing
1 point for 10 yards rushing/receiving
Receptions are .5 points
Interceptions/fumbles are minus-2 points

Additional Week 9 Positional Rankings

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Defense/Special Teams

Kickers

Week 9 Waiver Wire

Teaser:
Fantasy Football 2013 Tight End Rankings: Week 9
Post date: Thursday, October 31, 2013 - 06:30
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy football rankings, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2013-kicker-rankings-week-9
Body:

Matt Prater on bye means there's a new name atop Athlon Sports' fantasy football Week 9 kicker rankings. Stephen Gostkowski ascends to the No. 1 position this week, as he leads the NFL with 20 made field goals, but he's not the only AFC East kicker having a productive season. The Jets' Nick Folk is a perfect 19-of-19 on field goal tries this season, one of only four kickers in the entire league with 10 or more attempts who have yet to miss.

There's a strong chance that Folk's services will be needed Sunday at home against New Orleans. Not only are the Saints are giving up less than 21 points per game on the road, the Jets' offense has struggled in recent weeks to get the ball into the end zone. Folk and his counterpart, the Saints' Garrett Hartley, are both solid top-10 options this week.

Each week during the NFL season, we will rank enough players at each position to appease everyone from those in 8-team leagues to 16-team leagues, those that can start two QBs, two TEs, three RBs and four WRs. We cut out the rest, because if you're looking at who the 50th-best running back or the 17th-best kicker is for that week, you need more help than any Web site can give you.

2013 NFL Week 9 Fantasy Football Rankings — Kickers
Teams on bye this week: Arizona, Denver, Detroit, Jacksonville, New York Giants, San Francisco

RkPlayerTeamOPPONENT
1Stephen GostkowskiNEvs. PIT
2Mason CrosbyGBvs. CHI (Mon.)
3Dan BaileyDALvs. MIN
4Steven HauschkaSEAvs. TB
5Adam VinatieriINDat HOU
6Justin TuckerBALat CLE
7Garrett HartleyNOat NYJ
8Nick NovakSDat WAS
9Nick FolkNYJvs. NO
10Robbie GouldCHIat GB (Mon.)
11Ryan SuccopKCat BUF
12Graham GanoCARvs. ATL
13Blair WalshMINat DAL
14Mike NugentCINat MIA (Thurs.)
15Randy BullockHOUvs. IND
16Shaun SuishamPITat NE

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

KICKER SCORING
PATs = 1 point
39 yards and under = 3 points
40-49 yards = 4 points
50-59 yards = 5 points
60+ yards = 6 points

Additional Week 9 Positional Rankings

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Defense/Special Teams


Week 9 Waiver Wire

Teaser:
Fantasy Football 2013 Kicker Rankings: Week 9
Post date: Thursday, October 31, 2013 - 06:30
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy football rankings, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2013-defspecial-teams-rankings-week-9
Body:

Cincinnati is not No. 1 on Athlon Sports' fantasy football Week 9 defense/special teams rankings, but no DST was more dominant last week than the Bengals. Not only did the defense take two Geno Smith interceptions back for touchdowns, the unit had four sacks and held the Jets to just three long field goals in the 49-9 rout. This week Cincinnati heads to Miami to face a Dolphins offense that hasn't scored any more than 23 points in its last four games and is led by a quarterback (Ryan Tannehill) who has more turnovers (10) than touchdowns (7) in that same span.

Seattle and Kansas City are the two DSTs ahead of Cincinnati in this week's ranks. The Seahawks get the nod despite an uneven performance (9 PA, 2 INTs and 3 sacks, but also 339 yards allowed, including 200 rushing) on the road against St. Louis because they are back at home facing a Tampa Bay team that is winless and struggling mightily. Kansas City is on the road in Buffalo where the Chiefs will look to add to their league-leading sack total (36) against a Bills offense that is 30th in passing and a banged-up backfield.

Each week during the NFL season, we will rank enough players at each position to appease everyone from those in 8-team leagues to 16-team leagues, those that can start two QBs, two TEs, three RBs and four WRs. We cut out the rest, because if you're looking at who the 50th-best running back or the 17th-best kicker is for that week, you need more help than any Web site can give you.

2013 NFL Week 9 Fantasy Football Rankings — Defense/Special Teams
Teams on bye this week: Arizona, Denver, Detroit, Jacksonville, New York Giants, San Francisco

RkTeamOPPNotes
1Seattle Seahawksvs. TBOnly 9 PA and 2 INTs, but gave up 200 yards rushing to Rams on MNF.
2Kansas City Chiefsat BUFChiefs giving up 12.3 ppg overall, just 4 TDs in 3 road games.
3Cincinnati Bengalsat MIA (Thurs.)Bengals had two pick-sixes, 4 sacks last week vs. Jets.
4New Orleans Saintsat NYJJets averaging 20.3 points at home, Saints allowing 20.7 on road.
5Carolina Panthersvs. ATLPanthers have given up 15+ points once this season.
6Indianapolis Coltsat HOUKeenum making 2nd career start, Texans RBs banged up.
7New England Patriotsvs. PITPatriots allowing 14.3 ppg at home, Steelers 17.9 ppg overall.
8Green Bay Packersvs. CHI (Mon.)Packers won't have to worry about facing Cutler on MNF.
9Pittsburgh Steelersat NESteelers' fourth-ranked defense needs some help from the O.
10Dallas Cowboysvs. MINCowboys had no answers for Megatron, Lions late last week.
11Cleveland Brownsvs. BALBrowns sacked Alex Smith six times last week.
12Baltimore Ravensat CLEBrowns tied for fourth-most sacks allowed (28). BAL has 25.
13St. Louis Ramsvs. TENRams' D-line punished Russell Wilson (7 sacks) on MNF.
14Houston Texansvs. INDTexans' No. 1 defense ready to make last stand?
15Oakland Raidersvs. PHIGiving up just 17 ppg at home, 10th in NFL in ypg.
16Philadelphia Eaglesat OAKDefense playing better lately, 18.3 ppg over last four.

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

DEFENSIVE SCORING
0 points allowed = 12 points
1-6 points allowed = 10 points
7-13 points allowed = 8 pts
14-20 points allowed = 6 points
21-27 points allowed = 2 pts
28+ points allowed = 0 points
Safeties = 2 points
Fumbles recovered = 2 points
Interceptions = 2 points
Sacks = 1 point
Defensive/Special Teams TDs = 6 points

Additional Week 9 Positional Rankings

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends

Kickers

Week 9 Waiver Wire

Teaser:
Fantasy Football 2013 Defense/Special Teams Rankings: Week 9
Post date: Thursday, October 31, 2013 - 06:30

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